CHANGE YOUR THOUGHTS, CHANGE YOUR LIFE!
ONE OF MY FAVE HEALTHY HABITS - AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
After 20 years in the business of helping people feel and look their best, I’ve distilled my healthy living recommendations down to eight essential things, that if done most of the time (meaning 80%), lead to a healthy, happy, energized, peaceful mind and body and can allow you to avoid the effects of life’s stresses and avoid most if not all disease and stave off common issues associated with aging.
Next week I’ll be speaking about five of my eight fave healthy habits at my friend’s Joe Cross’ Reboot Camp. The prep for my talk entitled “ Setting Yourself Up For Success - Simple tips for establishing routine of healthy habits” prompted me to do a series of blogs on all eight of these healthy habits starting with what I consider to be the most essential of the eight, GRATITUDE.
What if I told you that by being more grateful you could feel happier, be more alert and energetic, have more determination, optimism, less depression and stress, be more likely to exercise regularly and make greater progress toward achieving personal goals and improving your romantic and other relationships? Cool, huh?
"Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent of all others." -Cicero
WHAT IS GRATITUDE
Gratitude is a feeling, an emotion and an attitude. It means thankfulness, counting your blessings, finding simple pleasure in the seemingly mundane daily occurrences and an acknowledgement of a benefit you’ve received or will receive. It means treating even small wins as miracles, and being aware on a continuous basis of how fortunate you are. We are what we think and what we think we're not....
Gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present. It makes you feel better instantly among many other benefits and research shows it heightens the quality of your life.
THE BENEFITS OF GRATITUDE
GRATITUDE INCREASES QUALITY OF LIFE
Two psychologists, Michael McCollough of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis, wrote an article about an experiment they conducted on gratitude and its impact on well-being.
The study split several hundred people into three different groups and all of the participants were asked to keep daily diaries.
The first group kept a diary of the events that occurred during the day without being told specifically to write about either good or bad things.
The second group was told to record their unpleasant experiences; and the last group was instructed to make a daily list of things for which they were grateful.
The results of the study indicated that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of :
More on gratitude and associate with well-being from Wikipedia: A large body of recent work has suggested that people who are more grateful have higher levels of subjective well-being.
Grateful people are happier, less depressed, less stressed, and more satisfied with their lives and social relationships Specifically, in terms of depression, gratitude may serve as a buffer by enhancing the coding and retrieve of positive experiences.  Grateful people also have higher levels of control of their environments, personal growth, purpose in life, and self acceptance.
Grateful people have more positive ways of coping with the difficulties they experience in life, being more likely to seek support from other people, reinterpret and grow from the experience, and spend more time planning how to deal with the problem.
Grateful people sleep better, and this seems to be because they think less negative and more positive thoughts just before going to sleep.
Gratitude has been said[by whom?] to have one of the strongest links with mental health of any character trait. 
GRATITUDE CAN BOOST A ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP
While being grateful is good for you, being on the receiving end of it can juice your romantic relationships! A recent study found that after receiving gratitude, participants noticed that their partner was more responsive to their needs;) and overall more satisfied with their relationship.
I learned from a very smart relationship's therapist that successful relationships tend to have a 20/1 ratio of positive to negative things said to one another and a 5/1 ratio of positive interactions to negative ones that predicts whether a marriage will last or become one of the sad statistics of divorce.
GRATITUDE AS A MOTIVATOR OF BEHAVIOR
Gratitude may also serve to reinforce future pro-social behavior in benefactors. For example, one experiment found that customers of a jewelry store who were called and thanked showed a subsequent 70% increase in purchases. In comparison, customers who were thanked and told about a sale showed only a 30% increase in purchases, and customers who were not called at all did not show an increase. In another study, regular patrons of a restaurant gave bigger tips when servers wrote "Thank you" on their checks.
TIPS ON HOW YOU CAN CULTIVATE AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
The brain can only hold one thought at a time. When we’re busy noticing what’s right we can’t be worrying or thinking about what’s wrong; we’re in the present as opposed to the past and future.
I think the the best way of cultivating an attitude of gratitude and the one I practice myself is to start as soon as I wake up in the morning, just as I'm cracking my eyes open, I start to list those things for which I am grateful. And try not to stop until I get to my kitchen where I turn on my water on to boil. Some days it’s hard, especially when I’m tired or I didn’t complete the things I wanted to complete the night before. The monkey mind jumps around and says, things like, you shoulda gone to sleep earlier , then you woulda been able to do your TM first thing in the morning and you....coulda. And on and on. By the way, let’s take those words, shuda, wuda, coulda right out of our dictionary today, ok? They’re all about the past.
“Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.” -Brian Tracy
1. Practice at least 1x a day, pref at the same time every day. Think it.
Like most new, healthy habits, it’s best to practice at the same time every day. Research suggests it takes anywhere from 30-60 consecutive days of repeating the desired behavior for it to become a habit. So it's best to start first thing in the morning before your mind gets over active. Say something to yourself like “Thanks Universe for this cozy bed I don’t want to get out of, the roof over my head, for my body that's getting healthier day by day. Thank you for my clients...Whatever you can think of works. List at least three things and if you can, keep going. You will see that your active monkey mind will get quiet.
2. Repeat. Write it down.
The more you repeat something the more likely it is to become a habit. This is true of unhealthy habits as well. The easier a habit is to do, the harder it is to break. Keep a gratitude journal, a spiral notebook or something more special and in it every morning once out of bed or asap, write down at least three things for which you’re grateful. Writing something is just another way of reinforcing the ideas and the energy you get from them. And you can keep a running list and look back on it. My Dad gave me my first Gratitude Journal when I was 18. I still have it. I love looking back on my lists from a few years ago, they always make me smile. There are even apps, like The Happy Tapper that can help remind you to list your three (or more) things for which you're grateful.
Other tips: Start a Gratitude Jar-If you’d rather not keep a journal try keeping a Gratitude Jar. Can you guess who taught me about this?....Yep, my Dad. We started one together last New Years. It’s never too early to start practicing gratitude. And my clients have started them with their kids and they really get into it.
It’s never too early to start practicing gratitude. Psychologist and researcher Jeffrey Froh created and implemented a gratitude curriculum for kids aged 8 to 11. The youngsters who received the lessons showed an increase in grateful thinking, appreciation and positive emotions as compared to their classmates who did not partake.
3. Practice. Speak it.
Throughout the day whenever I catch myself thinking or worse, saying something negative, I find something positive to say. I look for what’s right, what’s working, what I like. I make a point of telling as many people I encounter what’s great about them. Speaking is the third way to reinforce and share the good energy and love you feel or want to feel. It’s a law of attraction thing. Like attracts like.
From telling the cab driver how nice his maneuvering skills are, to complimenting the waitress’ attentiveness, small acts of gratitude and kindness pay off for everyone involved and for the people that the person to whom you’ve just expressed gratitude encounters next. Yes, it’s contagious, so YOU have the power to affect many people's day and life in general.
What happens when we encounter a difficult person...someone else’s monkey mind?
Limit as much as possible the time you spend with people who are always complaining. Just as gratitude is contagious, so can be negativity. If you can't just leave the conversation and you're experiencing them ranting, dumping or worse, talking poorly about someone else, be polite and compassionate and tell them, ”I’m really working on staying upbeat and having a better attitude. Could we change the topic of conversation?” Or offer to help them find a solution to their conflict and ask them questions that will create a more productive conversation about whatever is upsetting them. Or if you know there’s no real solution, for example it’s an ailing parent they’re complaining about, let them vent some then give them a big hug. It releases feel good chemicals in the body and brain and they probably need it. Aw. Whatever you do, be kind.
TRY OUR OWN 100 DAYS OF HAPPY CHALLENGE: Tag us in your gratitude photos and quotes on Instagram. @mindbodyreboot or Twitter @magenbanwart and we’ll repost em for you and share the love. A great way to start practicing and to develop a new, healthy habit of happy.
And finally, one of my fave books is an interpretation of the Tao Te Ching by Wayne Dyer called Change Your Thoughts Change Your Life. And it's really good at helping you to shift your perspective about life's events and ourselves. I've used it in my Yin Yoga classes for years. You're meant to read one short section each day so it's easy. Not a reader? Try watching this video or get the audiobook and play it or another inspirational book in the background as you do your busy work or simple tasks. It will help you keep your mind in a happier place.
Practice every day in little ways starting first thing in the mornin' tellin' yourself what you appreciate about yourself, your life and those you love. Then repeat, write it down. Challenge that monkey mind and the negative Nelly's in your world and stay vigilant for looking for what's right. Share with anyone who will listen. Give compliments, do good deeds without expectation. Life is so very, very good and "all you have to remember is how fortunate you are." -Sri Sri
You asked, so I’m sharin’ my fave finds for meltin’ off the excess fat & stress from 2013.
Many of my best tricks and tools are in this list which is why they’re all in my 2014 Mind Body RE BOOT programs.
1. Try Intermittent Fasting: NOT NEW but finally becoming mainstream. It’s simple, it works! Combine with HIIT for a winning combo.
2. Eat Fermented Foods (1/4 cup w each meal) or easier, take 2 TBS Apple Cider Vinegar before every meal: No it’s NOT a new concept either, but I started using it daily in 2013- so do my clients and it works!
3. Read Grain Brain: My new bible. Written David Perlmutter, a neurologist, it's an easy read. Made #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list because of the life changing information it contains. I’ve been recommending Dr. Perlmutter's advice in my RE BOOT food protocol for years, but sometimes reading the research and recco's from an MD is much more compelling.
4. High Intensity Interval Training/HIIT: 3x a week, short & sweet, just 7 x 30-second intervals and within 25 minutes you’re done. Not a new concept but the recent research is definitive and it’s now an integral part of my personal and RE BOOT exercise protocols.
5. Workout Tunes: Because you need great music to get you through the intervals:) See my “MB Move & Melt Faves” Spotify Playlist under my username magenbanwart.
STRESS MANAGEMENT/WAYS TO EASE MIND AND BODY
6. Tapping/EFT: Looks weird but easy to do and it works.
7. My Fave You Tube Ted Talks and other, inspirational speeches: I like to turn one of these on when I’m , filing, makin’ lunch or sittin’ in my Yin stretches. Listen to while getting ready in the mornin’ to silence the monkey mind and motivate you to be great all day! Watch HERE.
As a fitness professional living in NYC for the past 20 years and working with the city’s busiest, time-crunched professionals, full time parents and often those juggling both career and family, you can imagine how happy I am that a brilliant scientist from the University of Copenhagen decided to do a little study1 that proved you could not only get the same, but better results by working out less time at a higher intensity-practicing High Intensity Interval Training. So if you want to take your fat loss and overall fitness to the next level—and spend less time in the gym—then high intensity interval training (also known as HIIT) might be for you.
Note, I didn’t say it would be easier, just that it would take less time. :) So before giving you all the details, it’s key to know that because the HIIT approach to cardio exercise is very physically demanding, it isn’t for everyone. If you have any cardiovascular problems or other health concerns that limit your ability to exercise at very intense levels, HIIT may not be for you—at least for now. If in doubt about whether it's safe for you, check in with your medical professional before trying HIIT.
WHAT IS HIGH INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING (HIIT)?
HIIT is an enhanced form of interval training, an exercise strategy, alternating periods of short intervals of maximum* intensity anaerobic exercise with longer intervals of low to moderate** intensity recovery periods.
The key is that your recovery period needs to be three times (3x) longer than your sprint period. The goal is to work yourself up to 8 intervals over time. Because it involves briefly pushing yourself beyond the upper end of your aerobic exercise zone, it offers you several advantages that traditional steady-state exercise (when your heart rate remains within your aerobic zone) can’t provide.
*Maximum intensity = a 9 or 10 on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being an all out runnin’ for your life sprint.
**Low to moderate = a 3 to 5 on the same scale.
Scroll to end of blog if you want to cut to the chase and get my recos, sample HIIT workouts and Intermittent Fasting Schedules!
THE STUDIES & BENEFITS OF HIIT
By Dr. Mercola
"Compelling and ever-mounting research shows that the ideal form of exercise is short bursts of high intensity exercise.
Not only does it beat conventional cardio as the most effective and efficient form of exercise, it also provides health benefits you simply cannot get from regular aerobics, such as a tremendous boost in human growth hormone (HGH), aka the “fitness hormone.”
One study published in the Journal of Obesity2 reported that 12 weeks of HIIT not only can result in significant reductions in total abdominal, trunk, and visceral fat, but also can give you significant increases in fat-free mass and aerobic power.
Other research published in the journal Cell Metabolism3 showed that when healthy but inactive people exercise intensely, even if the exercise is brief, it produces an immediate measurable change in their DNA. To read more, click HERE. "
NET NET OF HIIT
By Fitness and Behavior Expert Dean Anderson
INTERMITTENT FASTING & HOW IT RAMPS THE FAT BURNING:
By Dr. Mercola
“Is it a good idea to “starve” yourself just a little bit each day, or a couple of days a week? Mounting evidence indicates that yes, intermittent fasting (IF) could have a very beneficial impact on your health and longevity.
I believe it’s one of the most powerful interventions out there if you’re struggling with your weight and related health issues. One of the primary reasons for this is because it helps shift your body from burning sugar/carbs to burning fat as its primary fuel.
As discussed in the featured article,1 intermittent fasting is not about binge eating followed by starvation, or any other extreme form of dieting. Rather what we’re talking about here involves timing your meals to allow for regular periods of fasting.
I prefer daily intermittent fasting, but you could also fast a couple of days a week if you prefer, or every other day. There are many different variations.
To be effective, in the case of daily intermittent fasting, the length of your fast must be at least 16 hours. This means eating only between the hours of 11am until 7pm, as an example. Essentially, this equates to simply skipping breakfast, and making lunch your first meal of the day instead.” To read more, click HERE
BENEFITS OF COMBINING HIIT AND INTERMITTENT FASTING:
Several books published in the last couple years prove that working out in a fasted state (before your first meal of the day) shifts your body into an maximized fat-burning zone by protecting your active muscle tissue and activating your sympathetic nervous system, responsive to both exertion and the absence of food. The Intermittent Fasting method is most effective and beneficial when a foundation of healthy eating (such as the Mind Body RE BOOT eating protocol) is already in place.
NET NET OF HIIT & IF:
HIIT and IF are the ultimate power couple when it comes to disposing of adipose tissue. To read more about this duo by Dr. Mercola click HERE
MY RECOS-HOW TO INCORPORATE HIIT AND INTERMITTENT FASTING:
1. First and above all, eat a healthy balanced diet: lean, clean proteins, lots of green non- starchy veggies and juices. Avoid all processed and fried foods and the most common allergens or food triggers: dairy, gluten, sugar.
Have your largest meal at lunch and eat a healthy, light dinner as early in the evening as possible. For example 4 ounces of low mercury fish or other clean protein and lots of non-starchy veggies.
2. Incorporate Intermittent Fasting as many days a week as you can. See my sample day HERE.
3. Do 3 x 20-25 minute HIIT workouts per week, in the morning, optimally 30 minutes before breaking your fast. See my sample HIIT workout HERE. Yes your fave Soul Cycle, Flywheel Sports and other high intensity group fitness classes or personal training workouts count as long as they incorporate at least 7 “sprints” followed by recovery periods.
Remember to round out your exercise program with three, strong core workouts like my PATY’s and three good stretch or Yin Yoga sessions each week
I recommend that because of the intensity of the workout that you do it no more than three times a week and best with at least one day in between each. Supplement your HIITS with at least three core workouts a week.
1. M. Rosenkilde, P. L. Auerbach, M. H. Reichkendler, T. Ploug, B. M. Stallknecht, A. Sjodin. Body fat loss and compensatory mechanisms in response to different doses of aerobic exercise – a randomized controlled trial in overweight sedentary males. AJP: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 2012
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