health

Feel like new. Feel like you. // Part Two

February 17, 2017

Thank you Jenny Craig for sponsoring this post. β€” Get serious about losing weight with Jenny Craig!

Feel like new. // livelovesimple.com

This is my final post in my series with Jenny Craig. I am a little bit sad about that, but I am so excited about moving forward with the positive momentum that this experience has given me.

The thing that has stood out to me the most in this journey has been how effectively Jenny has changed my relationship with food. Over the course of my life, my relationship with food has been so up and down. There have been times when I was so healthy, constantly making smart decisions. But there have been other times, including recently, where my relationship with food was out of control. Essentially, I used food as a drug, and I abused it like a drug, too.

With Jenny Craig, members develop a healthy relationship with food, build an active lifestyle and create a more balanced approach to living. They understand and overcome the internal/external challenges to healthy eating, identify enjoyable ways to move more, learn positive coping strategies and reframe their beliefs and attitudes to better support their weight management goals.

Feel like new. // livelovesimple.com

All of these things were true for me. As soon as I began to see positive results, my energy and dedication to my health snowballed for the better. I grew more focused with each day that passed. I have been amazed by the results that I experienced inside of the program, and by the positive changes that I continue to experience as a result of what I have learned.

Feel like new. // livelovesimple.com

When it comes to health, wellness, and nutrition there are so many ways to approach it. For some, it comes naturally. For others, it takes a lot of work. As with everything in life, we all have our individual strengths and weaknesses. Jenny is a flexible program that can serve as a complete reset or simply as a gentle reminder. The beauty of the program is that, with your personal consultant, you always have someone there to cheer you on, motivate you and keep you on track. That support system means everything when it comes to accomplishing your goals.

Feel like new. // livelovesimple.com

If you have any questions about the program, feel free to hit me up. I am more than happy to answer your questions and speak about my experience.

Wishing you love and wellness always– xo

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Put on your oxygen mask before helping others.

February 11, 2017

Put on your oxygen mask before helping others. // livelovesimple.com

I’ve been wanting to write this post forever. I’ve started it in my head countless times. I kept stopping though, I could never get it out. I want to say so much and I want to say it well.

It’s just that the message is so much more important than simply, “You have to take care of yourself.” And yet, that is the message. I hope that saying something will be better than saying nothing at all. I hope that you will read this and that it will touch you to make a change in your life, a change that you very much deserve.


It’s been a month and a half since I found my way out of the darkness, again. The past few years have been a roller coaster in every way. The only constant has been my lack of self care. Sure, there were a few times when I stepped up my game and did something positive or healthy for myself; but all of those attempts fizzled quickly.

The thing about self care is that it’s a massive undertaking. It’s not about one thing, or even a series of short term efforts. It’s about a lot of things: a permanent, holistic picture of healthiness, happiness, fullness, and balance. When I “woke up” at the beginning of this year, it wasn’t so much a matter of wanting to, as it was a matter of necessity. I was literally slowly dying.

Over the past six weeks, everything has changed. It had been so hard to take care of myself for so long, because I fell into the trap that a lot of women (and men) fall into–I believed that I mattered the least. It’s a natural belief, easy to fall into, especially when you are a mother or a caretaker. It’s instinctual to a degree, to want to put your babies or loved ones in front of yourself in every way.

The unfortunate thing is that ultimately, and almost always, it ends in disaster. When we do not take care of ourselves, we fall apart. Our health suffers and our mind suffers. We run ourselves ragged trying to do everything, and be everything, for every one; and even if that works for a little while, eventually, it always falls apart.

Sometimes we think that by neglecting ourselves, we are serving others; but that is not the truth. When we are broken, the love and the care that we give to others is inadequate at best. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.

I have found that there are five key areas of nourishment when it comes to self care. If we can meet these five areas, truly and completely, then we are, indeed taking care of ourselves. When we are our best selves, we can also care wholly for the people that we love. In order to effectively, love and care for the people and things in our lives, we must first love and care for ourselves.

There are five areas of nourishment for self care:

  • Emotional
  • Physical
  • Nutritional
  • Spiritual
  • Interpersonal

Emotional: First, we must be nourished emotionally. Self-love and emotional wellness are the very basis of self care. If we do not love ourselves, everything else in our lives will be out of balance. The challenge of emotional nourishment often comes down to our beliefs about what we, ourselves, deserve.

When I started my journey of self care, I struggled intensely. For a long time I would start only to stop again quickly thereafter. I finally found lasting success when I began using my self-love mantra, “I deserve to be happy and healthy.” When I feel like I can not (or should not) reach personal success, I repeat my mantra to myself. It empowers me to keep going.

Physical & Nutritional: These two go hand-in-hand. Physical and nutritional wellness are the bedrock foundation on which wellness is built. For some people, these things come naturally. Regular physical activity and a healthy balanced diet are staples in some peoples lives. For others, however, it’s just the opposite. Sedentary lifestyles equate to constant aches and pains. The diet consists of almost entirely unhealthy, processed garbage food.

I could write a novel on this bullet point alone, but for now, I’ll simply say two things.

Exercise–You must do something that stretches your muscles and elevates your heartbeat every day. A brisk walk, a dance party in the living room, a ten minute yoga video on YouTube. Any of these things will suffice. Further, you must exercise hard–until you sweat–between one and three times a week. If you think this sounds impossible, start with a mere fraction of what I am recommending and go from there. It is not impossible. Wherever you are today, just start. Even if you have long forgotten its magic, your body is still a wonderful, powerful temple. It is waiting for you to reclaim it.

Diet–Imagine that your body is a garden. If you want it to grow and flourish, it needs certain things. It’s very simple. We all know that gardens need water, sunlight, and rich soil to grow. Our bodies are similar. We need water, vitamins and minerals, protein, and fiber. There are many ways to achieve this, thousands of diet plans in the world. But most basically, what we need is real, organic food. Fruit, vegetables, lean meat (in moderation or not at all). It’s that simple. Everything else, other than the things that I’ve described here, is garbage. With very few exceptions, all processed food is garbage, loaded with chemicals and preservatives. Cigarettes, alcohol, and drug abuse–would you pour battery acid all over your garden?

Spiritual: Once we are emotionally, physically, and nutritionally nourished, we can turn attention to our spiritual lives. Spiritual nourishment comes from a whole host of areas, and for each person, it means something different. For many, religion plays a part in soothing the spirit. For others, time spent alone in nature is critical to spiritual health. Almost everyone can benefit from art–reading nourishing books, listening to touching music, visiting a museum, watching a moving play, and so on.

When it comes to spiritual nourishment, it’s really simple. Do whatever it is that makes your spirit come alive.

Interpersonal: Relationships are the final piece of this puzzle. Ten years ago, I was in an amazing place in my life. I had just overcome anxiety and depression. I had lost seventy pounds. I was living a life that I had always dreamed of living. At that time, I absolutely loved helping people. I was building my career on my ability and desire to help people. What happened next, however, I never could have anticipated. My desire to help people almost killed me.

I was so blinded by my desire to help that I dove into it headfirst without caution. Both in my professional life and in my personal life. I was so committed to helping and healing others, that I completely forgot about me. I fell so hard and so quickly into a trap and I never, for a moment, realized that in trying to help, I–myself–would be destroyed.

By the time I finally realized what had happened, I was so far gone that I was unrecognizable. My life had fallen apart into a million broken pieces. One day I looked in the mirror and I had no idea who I was. It’s taken me a year and a half to slowly crawl out of that hole. I can finally see the light again.

My point regarding interpersonal relationships is that you have to be extremely careful about who you allow into your life and how. Not every person can be helped. Not every person wants to be helped. It is critical that you choose relationships that nourish you, build you up, and empower you to be your best self. Do not settle for anything less–whether in friendships, romantic relationships, colleagues, or acquaintances. Never, never settle. You do not have to tolerate toxicity in your life, ever.


When I first started therapy, again, I received some of the best advice I’ve ever heard. She said, when you are talking to yourself, speak as though you are talking to your children or to your best friend–to someone who you love very, very much. It took me awhile to fully come around to it, to truly embrace it. I still stumble occasionally, but mostly I am here now. I treat my self with the love and care that I deserve. And thereby, I can love and care for the people around me with a full, strong, nourished heart–which is the greatest love that can be given.

Every morning when you wake up, think of the best compliment that you could ever receive–and then give it to yourself. Say it in your mind. Say it out loud. Say it again, and again, and again. Then say it again at lunchtime. And again when you’re getting ready for bed. Not just today or tomorrow, but every day. Then watch the magic in your life unfold. β™₯

Put on your oxygen mask before helping others. // livelovesimple.com

Put on your oxygen mask before helping others.
You can’t help anybody when you’re dead.

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Feel like new. Feel like you.

January 26, 2017

Thank you Jenny Craig for sponsoring this post. β€” Get serious about losing weight with Jenny Craig!

Jenny Craig // livelovesimple.com

Thanks to this blog, I’ve been able to work with so many great companies over the years. I am so grateful for the opportunities that have come my way. I’ve been really excited about a lot of them, but working with Jenny Craig has been my most rewarding partnership yet.

As I wrote about in my last post, just a couple of months ago I was in a really difficult place. I was facing an uphill battle. Especially when it came to my health, I was close to giving up. It was right around that time that I was contacted and asked to partner with Jenny. The timing was so perfect that it felt like an answered prayer.

I realize that this is a sponsored post, but everything that I’m going to share in this post (and every post!) is 100% true to my real-life experience. Over the past few weeks, since I started the program, my life has changed.

Health, wellness, and nutrition have always been a topic on this blog of mine. When I first started writing here, eight years ago, I had just gone through a personal health revolution. I had overcome depression and anxiety, and lost seventy pounds. I was at the top of my health game for sure. After I lost that weight, I had no trouble keeping it off for many years. It wasn’t until after I had my second baby, that everything changed. Becoming a mother changes things for a lot of women. Add to that all of the challenges that life throws on a daily, and sometimes it feels impossible.

Again, as I mentioned in my last post, there was a perfect storm of poor health in my life. No matter what I seemed to do, I just couldn’t get healthy. Everything was out of control for me, especially my diet.

The Jenny Craig program has taken my nutrition from night to day. I am relearning what appropriate portions are. I am remembering how it feels to eat the right amount of calories for my body. My energy and my mood have not been this high in years. The momentum that I’ve gained through the program has even encouraged me to get back to the gym, which I thought I would never be able to do again. I’ve been consistently going three days a week and it feels incredible.

The program features more than 100 premium menu items to love in delicious flavors, created by 40 professional chefs. Every meal that I’ve eaten on the program has been restaurant-quality. It’s like having a personal chef in the kitchen seven days a week; and as a busy mom it’s pretty much the greatest thing ever!

The program will leave you feeling satisfied because the food is so good and you get to eat so much in the course of a day. Here is a picture to show you what food for one day on the program looks like:

Jenny Craig // livelovesimple.com

I’ve been on the program for a little over three weeks now and I’ve lost eleven pounds. I am required to tell you that my results are not typical. Members following the Jenny Craig program, on average, lose 1-2 lbs. per week. And I received promotional consideration. But with that said, I personally feel so confident that anyone who engages with this program will see results. It’s so simple and it’s so good!

When I looked at my meal plan for the week and the daily menus, I wondered if I would even be able to eat all of that food in a day. But don’t worry, I did. πŸ˜‰ There are not only typical “healthy” meal options, but there are delicious snacks worked into each day’s menu, as well. Whether you love salty & crunch or gooey & sweet, there is something for you.

Jenny Craig // livelovesimple.com

For me, the cornerstone of the plan has been my weekly meetings with my Consultant. On the plan, your Consultant will work with you on your menu, discuss any challenges from the previous week and determine a plan for the week ahead. Plus, your consultant will keep track of your success with weekly weigh-ins and teach you how to self-monitor. The weigh-ins have been such a motivation for me to stay on track and continually make progress.

Jenny Craig // livelovesimple.com

I love my Consultant, Allie. She is such a wealth of information and source of encouragement. For members who don’t live near a center, Jenny Craig Anywhere offers one-on-one support through consultations over the phone or via video chat. They’ve got you covered.

Jenny Craig // livelovesimple.com

For me, the program has truly been life-changing. It’s set me off on a path of positivity and health, that I was afraid I would never find again. If you’ve been thinking about trying it out for yourself, I would definitely recommend it. It is an investment in yourself. When I started the program, I had a lot of fear and doubt. I adopted a mantra to help myself get through the days. Every time I started to feel myself slip in any way, I said, “You deserve to be happy and healthy.” It feels so good to have been saying that these last few weeks. It’s such a far cry from where I was just a couple of months ago. I am so excited to keep going down this path.

Jenny Craig // livelovesimple.com

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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Let Go

July 29, 2016

let it go
let it leave
let it happen
nothing
in this world
was promised or
belonged to you
anyway

all you own is yourself — rupi kaur

Let Go // livelovesimple.com

We all struggle with something. Certainly there isn’t a soul among us who has it all figured out.

For me, the thing that I’ve struggled with the most in recent years, and over the course of my life, is the illusion of control. I say the illusion of control, rather than simply saying control, because there really is no such a thing as control.

As my wise therapist once pointed out– You were never really controlling things, Dena. You were simply manipulating situations frantically and convincing yourself that you had power. You never really did. No one does.

There are only choices and consequences. A brutal truth, but a powerful one nonetheless. Choices and consequences. Recently, I’ve been making more of a valiant effort to let go and let God. Instead of trying to “control” situations and people, I am instead focusing on my choices — which is the only real thing that I can control. I am trying to make healthy, loving choices. If I can accomplish that, it’s all that matters. From there, whatever happens next is in God’s hands.

Perhaps this is a simple and obvious conclusion, but for me it’s been deeply helpful. What a weight off of my shoulders to stop squeezing the life out of everything with a white-knuckle grip and to simply let go.

Wishing you love and peace, friends. If you enjoyed this post, you might also like this one: We don’t have to suffer. We can choose happiness.

Dealing with Toxic People: Poor Listeners

February 29, 2016

Over the years, I’ve been blessed with the “fortune” of knowing a few toxic individuals. The best things to come from these relationships are the gifts of: patience, understanding, and wisdom. On your end, of course. πŸ˜‰

It has taken me a lifetime to learn some effective techniques for dealing with emotional toxicity. I’ve decided to share my wisdom with the world. These lessons are painful and hard-earned, but if I can spare even one person the pain of learning the hard way, it will make my own suffering all-the-more worth it. It will also help me in my own journey of healing.

I am going to break up this series — Dealing with Toxic People — into several parts. I could (and just might) write an entire book on the topic, but today I’m going to start with one of the things that seem to affect almost all toxic people — poor listening skills.

divider

Indeed, toxic individuals are almost always poor listeners. It is a part of what makes them toxic. Now, do not be confused here. Toxic people have no trouble hearing. In fact, they hear quite well. You will find that they are quite adept at hearing and will often hear what you say so intently that they will later use your very own words against you — distorted to the point that they are nearly unrecognizable — but your words all the same.

divider

There is a trick to effectively coping with the poor listening skills of toxic people. It is to understand the difference between listening and hearing. These are, in fact, two very different things.

Hearing is the simple act of perceiving sounds with your ears.

Listening, however, is more complex. It involves actively hearing and paying attention to what the other person is saying to you. It involves quieting your own mind, while you truly listen to what the other person says. Your mind is quiet. You are reserving judgment. You are not waiting for your opportunity to cut the other person off and break into the conversation with your own thoughts. You are just listening.

Once you recognize what constitutes good listening, it will be easy to identify poor listening. When you can recognize something for exactly what it is, you have already won half the battle in effectively coping.

The next half of the battle is about how you respond to poor listening. First, you must accept that you cannot change people. If someone is a poor listener, it is very likely that he or she will always be a poor listener. Now, accept that and rest in the knowledge that while you cannot change the way that others act, you can change the way that you react.

So, how should you react? Here is my golden, hard-earned wisdom. When someone is not listening to you, your body’s natural response is to get emotional. You will instinctively feel upset, hurt, angry, and frustrated. Your heart may start to race, your breathing will become quick. Your head may even start to hurt as you find yourself desperately trying to get out your thoughts, feelings, and emotions while the other person is continually cutting you off, failing to hear you, and twisting your words.

The key to deal with this is that you must act non-emotionally. Shut off all of those emotional instincts of frustration. Intentionally slow your breathing. Remain calm. Speak slowly and carefully. Say what you have to say and nothing more. Do not allow the other person to bully or pressure you into speeding up your speech, stuttering, or saying something that you regret. Say what you intended to say, how you intended to say it, and nothing more.

In extreme cases, if the person refuses to let you speak, simply walk away and come back to the conversation at a later time, when emotions have cooled. Another option is to write an email or letter when you have calmed down. Walking away from the conversation entirely is another option, but that is only if you intend to cut the toxic person out of your life entirely. Otherwise, it is important to express yourself and/or resolve conflicts eventually so that things do not pile up, later leading to resentment or explosions.

To recap, the most important tip that I can give you for dealing with toxic people is to always rely on logic (your brain) rather than emotion (your heart). This is especially true, when it comes to dealing with poor listeners. It is not an easy thing to accomplish. Our natural instinct is always to react with emotion — Fight or Flight. Toxic people know this and they depend on the fact that you will react with emotion.

When you get emotional, they get the upper hand. You can take back control by remaining calm and logical. When you do this, the toxic person will basically short-circuit. They don’t know how to handle it. When you refuse to engage in their negativity, most times they will either: A. be forced to join you on a level of rationality and respect; or B. (the more likely case) they will get frustrated that they can’t engage/abuse you, and they will walk away. Either situation is better than the alternative, which is you getting frustrated, or worse.

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I hope that you will use this technique to help you cope with the toxic people in your life. Whether it is a coworker, a spouse, a parent, or someone else — dealing with toxic people is never easy. Unfortunately, toxic people are very adept at hiding their toxic traits and kind people are very good at overlooking them. Therefore, you may find yourself deeply enmeshed in a toxic relationship, friendship, or work situation before you even realize what is going on.

It is never too late to learn how to cope with toxicity. It is also important to remember that you can always find a way out of toxic relationships. Even if you feel trapped, know that your situation is never hopeless. Keep educating yourself and keep moving in the right direction.

I hope that you have found this post to be useful. If so, please let me know in the comments and I will write some more posts on the topic of dealing with toxic people.

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