Five Tips for Creating a Kick-Ass Vision Board

vision board 2014Ever heard the term “you’ve got to see it to believe it?” For so many people, visualizing a specific pathway, goal or dream is the first step in making it a reality. A really helpful tool in this process is the vision board, which is a visual representation of the elements you’d like to create, focus on and attract into your life. Here are five tips for creating a kick-ass vision board that helps you claim your heart’s desire:

 

1.  Determine your main themes. Is it love, financial prosperity, better health or increased fitness? Think about your main goals and interests for the year or whatever time period you are focused on for the vision board. If possible, come up with an overall theme or focus that will land in the middle of your creation too. Need an example? I’ve posted a photo of my vision board above. Nestled in the center is the phrase “Inspire…Be Inspired” which really sums up my focus for 2014, while the other themes represented in clockwise fashion are healthy eating/fitness/wellness, how writing my book inspires me, love, resourcefulness, success, financial prosperity and fun (represented by the minion from Despicable Me).

 

2.  Select images. Flip through magazines for inspiring photos and headlines that belong on your board. This year, I found most of my images online and printed them out, adding personal photos and phrases that resonated strongly. Like the photo of Sandra Bullock from her role in the movie Gravity that appears in the bottom right hand corner of my board…I chose that image because it shows that no matter what comes up, I can be resourceful (like an astronaut lost in space who saves herself – sorry for the spoiler!) and because the movie was so creative and unexpected that it redefined filmmaking this year. Make it three dimensional if you like…I’ve seen people cut out greeting cards, sentimental trinkets and adhere a light bulb on some cool vision boards. If you have natural artistic ability (which doesn’t exist in my DNA at all), consider drawing, painting or sculpting the visuals that invoke your passions. Heck, go crazy and repurpose that old “glued-on macaroni spray-painted gold technique” used so effectively in the second grade to decorate a candle holder for mom. There are no limits!  

3.  Craft a “canvas.” My vision board is simply a large white poster board with photos and images glued or taped down in different quadrants. Easy-peasy, right? But I know people who create vision boards in the form of a PowerPoint slide show, computer screen saver or another surface that beautifully hosts their vision for the year. Figure out the best home for your vision and pull it all together in that space/surface.

4.  Share with others.  It’s perfectly fine to keep your vision board to yourself. But think of all the positive energy that is churned up when you talk about it and share your enthusiasm with others. During the first weekend in January, I had a dozen super cool ladies over to make our boards together. Sure enough, we did a “show and tell” at the end that was fun and reinforced our goals.

5.  Check it out daily. The most diligently crafted vision board isn’t doing you any favors if it languishes in a dusty corner. Display your creation somewhere in which you’ll easily see it several times a day. My friend Terri hung her vision board in her walk-in closet, ensuring she engages in those positive images every morning and night. Mine is displayed at eye level across my office so I view it several times a day when leaving my desk. You can always take a photo of it for your smart phone or tablet screen saver too for easy reinforcement.

I hope you enjoy creating this art project with a purpose. Have you ever created a vision board before and if so, how did it work for you? If you were to develop one for 2014, what would some of your themes or images be?

 

The Power of Choosing Your Attitude

Mike Thompson kona Ironman world championship finish 2012No matter what obstacles appear, you still have the power to choose your attitude. Just ask Mike Thompson, a four-time cancer survivor in Austin, Texas who now competes in grueling Ironman triathlons and speaks frequently to inspire others. He offers a great perspective for how anything is possible as long as you are alive.

In 1995 at age 10, Mike was diagnosed with myeloid leukemia, an adult form of the disease rarely found in kids. Over the next five and a half years, he dealt with relapses, 75 surgeries, two bone marrow transplants, numerous complications and a 12-hour complete jaw reconstruction.  When an infection from the jaw surgery left him in constant pain, Mike fell under the spell of prescription pain meds for four years until a 2007 stint in detox broke that addiction.

“You are in charge of your destiny,” notes Mike. “I still battle with jaw pain, depression and fear, but I’ve chosen to adopt an outlook that I’m better off now than I’ve ever been. Life is worth fighting for and every day should be celebrated.”

Active living with an eye towards helping others became his driving passion. After helping to raise over $6 million for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society with his Team in Training Group, Mike started competing in triathlons. He completed a half Ironman in 2010 and a full Ironman race the following year with a cancer-fighting platform. Then Mike entered this 90 second video into an Ironman contest seeking inspired athletes who have used triathlons to overcome obstacles.

Mike Thompson’s Inspirational Video for 2012 Ironman World Championships

He won, and got to compete in the prestigious 2012 Ironman World Championships in Kona. Today Mike inspires countless numbers of people to choose a positive attitude through his speaking engagements, writing and personal conversations.

Finally, I’d like to give a shout-out to the amazing women at the http://triwivesclub.com/ website, where Mike is a guest blogger. Check out their great info for people like me who love a triathlete and Mike’s posts for additional inspiration.

How has choosing your attitude helped you overcome an obstacle or difficult situation?  What person in your life has inspired you to achieve what once seemed impossible?

Three Lessons Holiday Movies Can Teach Us About Real Life Happiness

Movie stubs and popcornYou don’t have to look at a calendar to know the throes of the holiday season are here; over-packed shopping mall parking lots, reports of airport travel delays and incessant TV reruns of seasonal movies are always a dead giveaway. But just because your eyes might glaze over after the eighth broadcast of A Christmas Story within 24 hours, don’t write these sentimental tales off as just mindless entertainment. Here are three lessons holiday movies can teach us about real life happiness:

  1. Be true to yourself. My favorite holiday season movie is Love Actually. No matter what is going on with the nine intersecting stories, the theme of embracing and accepting who you really are rings true. From Hugh Grant’s adorable Prime Minister endearingly declaring his romantic interest on stage during a child’s Christmas pageant to Andrew Lincoln’s character admitting his unrequited love for a friend’s bride in order to move on, being true to yourself and expressing it to others frees you up for greater happiness.
  2. You get to carve your own path. Feel like others have permanently pegged you as the family’s “Debbie Downer” or as a chronic underachiever? It is not too late to change your ways if the desire is authentic and comes from within. When the Grinch abandoned his plans to steal Christmas, he transformed himself from a foe to a friend of Whoville. The appearance of three very persuasive ghosts helped  Ebenezer Scrooge discover a newfound sense of generosity. At whatever stage you may be in life, you can always take steps that lead to a happier life.
  3. Believe in something bigger. In Miracle on 34th Street, a young girl’s belief in Santa brings joy to all around her while in The Santa Clause, Tim Allen’s character becomes closer to his young son and saves the legacy of the big man in red’s worldwide gift dispersal by finally accepting that he can be Santa. Whatever your spiritual inclinations are, believing in something bigger creates hope, possibilities and a sense of community – all of which can increase your happiness.

BTW, I tried to find a Hanukkah movie to reference but the only one that came up was Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights cartoon, which was vastly inferior to his Hanukkah song in my humble opinion as a nice Jewish girl. :)

What are some of your favorite holiday-themed movies?  What are you doing this season to embrace more happiness?

Is holiday baking shaking up your healthy habits?

Trying to bake these holiday breads while minimizing temptations!

Trying to bake these holiday breads while minimizing temptations!

Forget the whole three French hens, six geese a-laying and a partridge-in-a-pear tree thing. Last December, I baked eight chocolate chip Oreo cheesecakes, about a dozen banana breads and hundreds of assorted cookies as gifts for clients and service providers. While everyone enjoyed their goodies, the process sent my healthy habits into a tailspin; I gained five pounds from rampant sampling and was exhausted by daily sugar crashes. So this year, I’ve planned ahead to create a healthier holiday baking season through these steps:

  • Minimize temptation. Rather than producing piles of cookies that can be easily misplaced – you know, in my mouth – I’m preparing three main deliverables: banana bread, pumpkin bread and chocolate chip breads that are baked directly in a foil gift loaf tin. As I explained when strategizing this plan with Certified Health & Nutrition Coach Linda Citron, taking a huge bite out of the middle of someone’s pumpkin loaf is just bad manners. Eliminating the transfer of the breads from another cooking pan means there’s no temptation to let one accidentally on purpose crumble apart and become fair game for overindulgence.

 

  • Honor my own needs. I’m done making cheesecakes. They take way too much time and it’s really hard not to dig into the Oreo cookies when crushing them for the crust. And instead of having to prepare something each day, I planned deliveries and shipping to knock out one session last night (you can see the photographic evidence above) and two more next week.

 

  • Offer healthier options. Some people I bake for are gluten-free now, while others shun sugar. Personally, I’m a whole lot nicer to be around when avoiding both of those ingredients. That’s why I’m going to share my new favorite treat, vegan sweet potato brownies that are gluten-free, with people who crave healthier options. Here’s the recipe from Deliciously Ella:

 

Makes 10 brownies

– 2 medium to large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

– 2/3 of a cup of ground almond (almond flour)

– 1/2 a cup of buckwheat flour (brown rice flour will also work)

– 14 medjool pitted dates

– 4 tablespoons of raw cacao

– 3 tablespoons of pure maple syrup syrup

– a pinch of salt

  •  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Steam the sweet potato chunks for 20 minutes or until really soft and add into a food processor with the pitted dates. Mix until creamy and blended.
  • Put the remaining ingredients into a bowl, before mixing in the sweet potato date combination. Stir well.
  • Bake in a lined baking dish for 20 minutes, until piercing with a fork comes out dry. Remove the tray and cool for at least 10 minutes to allow everything to set. Ella has a great step-by-step “how to” video on her site too!

Courtesy of http://deliciouslyella.com/

BTW, followers of my blog probably noticed that it now looks different as I’ve merged everything into one place on this site. I’m still going to write about healthy living and wellness, now adding in thoughts on the pursuit of happiness, balance, personal growth and whatever snarky pop culture moment captures my attention. If you’d like to receive this via email, please sign up here or using the form on  the right side of this page to ensure you don’t miss a post. Thanks for your support!

What is your stance on healthy habits during the holiday season? Think it is a waste of time or the compass that keeps you sane? How do you handle food temptations?

Embracing Backslides, Relapses and Bitch Slaps on the Quest for Happiness

Doh!If necessity is the Mother of Invention, then I consider the quest for more happiness to be the Catalyst of Good Intentions. Think about all of the times a desire to feel better or alleviate a source of pain has prompted you to eat cleaner, start exercising more, tackle that mound of credit card debt or begin looking for a job you truly love.  Even with strong momentum and support though, the best intentions can be derailed. That’s why I wanted to share how embracing backslides, relapses and proverbial bitch slaps can ultimately help achieve your goals and claim a happier life.

1)      Understand that change can be hard. Even if you are the “little engine that could” surging forward against the odds, sometimes you may take a step backward before regaining your momentum.  Being aware of that fact can help keep deal with relapses.

“Change isn’t a one-off decision, it’s a commitment to a long-term process, warts and all,” says Psychologist Jenna Mayhew, cofounder and therapist of Write As Rain: Written Word Therapy www.write-as-rain.co.uk, an online therapy service for women that celebrates the benefits of writing. “It takes a lot of attempts and ongoing commitment to maintaining the change. However if you aren’t psychologically prepared for periods of relapse, any ‘mistakes’ can be experienced as failures, leading to decreased motivation and confidence, and in some cases, giving up.”

2)      Be prepared. More than just the lyrics from a popular Lion King song or the motto of the Boy Scouts, trying to be prepared for backslides or bitch slaps can help you minimize their damage.  Mayhew advises that relapses should be embraced by planning ahead for them. Her tips include:

  • Take note of times when you think you may be vulnerable to relapsing. Proactively build in strategies that outline how you will stay consistent and committed during these times.
  • If you do backslide, plan how you will deal with this. For example, after you inhale a dozen chocolate truffles at a dinner party after diligently eating clean for the past week, take a journal and write about it. Indentify what happened, the context, influencing factors and how you can prevent this from happening again.

“Willpower is like a muscle that needs to be strengthened over time,” she adds. “Expect backslides, plan, reflect, keep trying, and you’ll eventually master your change.” 

3)      Learn from the experience. Rather than being a linear path, life is often like a game of Candy Land (which I used to play frequently with my niece when she was five years old). The draw of a card can jump you forward towards Candy Castle or set you back into the midst of Lollipop Woods eating the dust of your opponent.  What matters is how you learn from challenges or backslides. Last year, a five year client of my PR/Branding consulting practice decided to take their communications in-house. At first, I was surprised and a little hurt. But stepping back, I realized that their decision made absolute sense, stopped taking it personally and began thinking more about the kind of business I actually wanted to focus on. That’s when I started honing in on clients that made the world happier, healthier or more livable, which was more strongly aligned with my personal interests. Soon enough, new business replaced the departed company that resonated stronger with my passions and now I carefully screen prospective clients to ensure a better fit.

 

Have you ever experienced backslides, relapses or even bitch-slaps from life? How did you handle the situation, and what did you learn from the experience?

Three things the government shutdown can teach us about healthy living

iStock_000020563722Small (1)Remember the game of “chicken,” portrayed in movies ranging from Grease to the Fast & Furious (all seven times), where two dudes pumped up on testosterone drive hot rods at each other at blinding speeds until one blinks first and swerves to avoid the collision? Unfortunately, it felt like politicians on both sides of the fence just did that with the well-being of our country with the government shut down. That 16-day pissing match finally ended yesterday, and in the tradition of making lemonade from lemons, or at least a better-for-you version that foregoes copious amounts of sugar, I’ve identified three things that the shut down can teach us about healthy living:

  1. Strive for long-term changes. One of the saddest things about the “compromise” is that it expires less than three months from now, potentially setting the scenario up to happen again per this analysis from Time Magazine. You know, kind of like when you decide to lose some extra weight, eat a ridiculously low amount of calories for five days, become surly from the intense deprivation and then blow it all on a large pizza out of frustration on day six? (Can you tell I went through that cycle a lot back in the day?) Taking a more measured, deliberate approach to healthy living for the long-term is going to increase your chances of success rather than a short-term fix.
  2. Be willing to make uncomfortable choices. Let’s say that you are not thrilled with your current wellness. If the closest you come to weight training is placing the extra large frozen lasagna dish from Costco into your grocery cart, and your nightly TV watching routine is incomplete without a heaping bowl of buttered popcorn, then you need to make some changes to your habits. And some, in fact many, might not be comfortable at first. But focusing on one shift at a time or keeping your motivation strong (through means like journaling, setting up a vision board or getting support from an expert or friends) can really help. I went cold turkey giving up caffeine in 1992 in light of my six to twelve pack a day diet coke habit at the time…and it sucked for a while. But the headaches passed and drinking water and adding in exercise helped wake me up in the morning better than a soda ever did, and after a week or two of being uncomfortable, I was fine.
  3. Do put yourself first. America politicians certainly focused on their self-preservation, albeit at the expense of the public they serve. But when it comes to your own wellness, taking care of yourself first can enhance the well-being of your entire family.  Think about it. Mom or dad adopts healthier eating habits, starts exercising moderately most days of the week and sheds 40 extra pounds that was causing knee pain and shortness of breath whenever they used to climb one flight of stairs. Chances are good that those closest around you, impressed by your increased energy and better self-esteem, will also be more interested in their wellness. Perhaps your spouse joins a gym or the family tradition of going out for ice cream after dinner is replaced with a vigorous walk around the neighborhood where you actually talk to each other for more than 10 minutes at a time. Caring for your health can have a really positive domino effect with those you love the most.

What other lessons do you think we can learn from the recent government shut-down? Have you or someone you know made healthier living changes recently that impacted others in a positive manner?

 

 

Seeking great stories of people who got “unstuck”

Woman in a Carboard BoxMost of us have been “stuck” at some point in our lives. I’m not talking about being in rush hour gridlock with squabbling kids or wedged in the middle seat of a packed concert venue when you realize a trip to the bathroom is in order, neither of which is particularly fun. What I mean is that point where you feel overwhelmed or practically paralyzed when facing a circumstance contrary to the life you want to lead. You know, like desiring financial freedom but feeling trapped by a mountain of debt; wanting to meet the love of your life but feeling too scared to check out online dating or other options for meeting suitors; wishing you had a healthier body and lifestyle by lacking the momentum to ever hit the gym, and so on.

As you might have guessed from this blog post title, I’m working on a book project to help people get unstuck and create the life of their dreams. Through my networks and social media, I have been interviewing some wonderful individuals whose stories will motivate and inspire you. Now I’m looking to include insight from a few others who fit the descriptions below (and the more dramatic example they have to share, the better):

  • Someone who forgave themselves for past decisions or behaviors, and it helped them get unstuck and move forward into happiness.
  • A person who suffered major financial set-backs like crushing debt or even bankruptcy, overcame that situation and now enjoys strong prosperity.
  • A subject matter expert (psychologist or coach) to discuss what role gratitude plays in getting unstuck.
  • A long-term weight loss/healthy living success story who can discuss why understanding that “self-care” didn’t mean “selfish” helped transform her life.

Thanks for spreading the word to your friends and networks! Anyone interested can contact me directly. Meanwhile, have you ever been stuck? If so, how did you overcome that obstacle?

 

Why seeking out new challenges can give you a bigger dose of happiness

On top of a mountain during a two-hour morning hike at the Miraval Resort.

On top of a mountain during a two-hour morning hike at the Miraval Resort.

If you want a bigger dose of happiness, try seeking out new challenges and experiences. Whether it involves taking on an unexpected role (my hilarious friend and notable smart-ass Leslie at The Bearded Iris is loving leading her son’s scout troop) or pushing yourself for a huge physical accomplishment, as my husband did in going from no running and swimming at all to completing several Half Ironman triathlons in less than a year, striving to experience something new can go a long way to creating a more fulfilling life. I saw that first-hand during my vacation to the Miraval Spa in Tucson last week.

Growing up, I organized the middle school sleep-over parties and being a Resident Advisor was one of my favorite college experiences – so pulling together a trip for 15 wonderful women to Miraval was second nature. I arrived thinking much of my time would be spent taking fitness classes and working on my book in-between spa services and wellness sessions. Yeah, right. With limited gym offerings available, I found myself instead taking a two-hour guided hike in the Catalina Desert Mountains three mornings in a row…something wonderful I would never have a chance to experience in my suburban Atlanta lifestyle. And instead of writing furiously, I spent more time thinking about the book and life coach practice I’m creating to focus on personal transformations…and gained a whole lot of valuable insights instead.  Those different experiences – one covering physical challenge and the other emotional wellness – really fed my soul.

Many of my buddies stepped outside of their comfort zone, like Nancy Mullin. Her first big challenge was Swing and a Prayer, which involves climbing a ladder and being lifted 35 feet in the air above the desert floor using a rope and pulley system guided by four strangers you just met moments ago.  When you let go of that rope, it is also about releasing your emotional restraints as well. The Equine Experience proved to be just as remarkable for her, where your own attitude, approach and communication skills are enhanced by working with horses.

The impact on Nancy has been profound. “There is not just one word which can truly describe my experience at Miraval,” she says. “Words like unforgettable, once in a lifetime, going outside your comfort zone, memorable and testing your boundaries don’t seem to do it justice. Miraval is a distinct mixture of emotional and physical challenges designed to give you life altering experiences which are 100% usable in your daily life.”

If you are interested in seeking out new challenges for greater personal fulfillment, here are a few steps to get started:

  1. Acknowledge what thrills you. Let’s say you always wanted to be a ballerina and still love watching dance performances on stage and television. Maybe it’s time to  get in on the fun by taking a dance class yourself. Have a lifelong dream of being a rock star? Start jamming with some friends in your garage or check out rock and roll fantasy camp where you get to interact with professional musicians.
  2. Give yourself permission to feel awkward.  Want to do something big and bold, but are scared of looking like a dork? Just let go of feeling like you’ve always got to be smooth and coordinated (heck, I never am either of those things) and jump in. If public speaking scares the bejesus out of you but it would really help your career, try Toastmasters or volunteer to lead tours at the local museum to practice that skill. Want to try skydiving? Sign up for a dive at a locally accredited facility and jump tandem with an experienced instructor.
  3. Create more opportunities for challenge. How many times have you said, “if I only had more time in the day…” Well, let’s call B.S. on that. We are all busy with work and families and commitments and having to watch NBC’s The Voice live so you can vote 27 times for your favorite competitor. Schedule time for new challenges just as you would for a conference call, your kid’s soccer game or a pedicure. Doing so reinforces how much you love and value yourself.
Nancy Mullin experiencing a Swing and a Prayer at Miraval

Nancy Mullin experiencing a Swing and a Prayer at Miraval

When is the last time you embraced a new challenge? What impact did it make on your happiness and sense of fulfillment?

Four Ways to Get Ready for Fall Wellness

With the high today in Atlanta topping 82 degrees and triple-digit temperatures forecast for my impending trip to Tucson, Arizona, it does not feel like summer has relinquished its grip yet.  But on September 22, fall officially begins – and here are four ways to help you get ready for wellness this season.

1)      Add warmth with functional, fashionable layers

Chances are good that the “go-to” running tank top and shorts look that so efficiently wicked sweat away this summer isn’t going to give you enough warmth during outdoor exercise in the upcoming months. No matter where you reside, you will also need something to wear post work-out before hitting the shower. I don’t spotlight many products in this blog, but here are two that I use for functional yet fashionable exercise cover-ups:

  •  At first glance, I don’t have much in common with Olympic Volleyball Gold Medalist and tall, blonde goddess Kerri Walsh…okay, make that a second and third look too. But we both dig BORELLI active performance scarves, which can be turned into wrap-around jackets and even sarongs depending on size. While some women “glow” after killer workouts, I am sweating hard and appreciate how this item wicks away sweat four times faster than cotton while helping me vie for the title of gym fashionista.  A triathlete herself, founder Marissa Borelli Casellini is passionate about creating products that marry fitness and style; you can wear her creations to ward off post-workout chills or as a chic accessory in daily life. Never very intrepid when it comes to geometry and angles, I found their demo video essential in figuring out how to wear this with flair.  Visit http://www.borellidesign.com/ to learn more.
  •  Then there is my lululemon hoodie jacket. Perfect to wear while driving home after an exercise class or running errands, I love its vibrant purple color and how it keeps my nicely warm before changing. Plus it lasts. I’ve had this jacket for three years now and it keeps on ticking.

2)      Embrace Seasonal Foods

If you’ll miss summer offerings like strawberries and watermelon, take heart with all of the seasonal foods options like cranberries, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, apples, winter squash and much more. Here’s a handy guide to fall produce from Cooking Light magazine that spotlights selections and recipes. As for me, I’m all about the pumpkin, opting for smoothies over pies these days. Here is my favorite pumpkin smoothie recipe:

PUMPKIN PIE SMOOTHIE

Courtesy of Citron Nutrition, adapted from Tasty Yummies

¾ cup cooked pumpkin (you can use canned, but fresh is much better)

1½ cups unsweetened organic vanilla almond milk

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely minced

2-3 Medjool dates, pits removed (soak first if they aren’t soft)

Clean additions:

1 scoop of vegan protein powder or 1 tablespoon ground flax seed

Directions: Add all of your ingredients to the blender. Puree until smooth and creamy. If your pumpkin and/or almond milk isn’t cold, you could add a handful of ice, although this may make it less creamy. You can also add a splash of water or additional almond milk if your smoothie is too thick. Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon and/or nutmeg.

 

3)      Plan workouts to take advantage of seasonal changes

Consider changing up your exercise routine to enjoy the crisp fall weather. If you typically run on a treadmill or cycle city streets, head out to the countryside or mountains to experience these activities and more while savoring the beauty of changing leaves. I found great resources such as Hike New England and Autumn Hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains with a quick online search and am sure you can do the same for your own area.  

4)      Focus on blossoming internally

There might not be flowers outside, but the fall is a wonderful time to start blossoming internally through personal growth. You don’t face the stupid pressure of New Year’s resolutions and with school back in swing, it feels like the season to learn something new. Last fall I took swimming lessons to combat a long-time fear of being in the water. While I’m never going to be Diana Nyad – and have no desire to ever wear a jellyfish-proof mask or adopt a distance swimming-friendly hairstyle – I can now get in a pool with a kickboard and sometimes no accessories at all without freaking out.  Or maybe you really want to meet your soul mate and it’s time to push yourself to put up an online dating profile to start getting out there. Whatever the case, nurture yourself and see how the happiness grows within.

What is your favorite part of fall? How do you plan to challenge yourself or grow during this season?

Can you tone your body while expanding your mind?

Erin Stutland, creator of Shrink Session

Pardon me for sounding like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, but two of my favorite things are personal growth and exercise (much better than raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens, right?). So you can imagine my delight in discovering Shrink Session from Erin Stutland, powerful movement classes which create a change in your body and your mind simultaneously. If you want to learn more about stepping into a more empowered, ass-kicking version of yourself, read on!

I first heard about Shrink Session when I met Erin, whose positive energy is off-the-charts, at the 2012 Fitbloggin conference. A high-octane blend of cardio-dance, HIIT, kick-boxing and yoga, Shrink Session integrates powerful mantras and joy in movement to help you feel and look your best, inside and out. “It’s so damn fun, you don’t feel like you are working out,” explains Erin.  “That said, your thighs are going to burn, your face is going to glow and your heart is going to be opened. You will stand taller and prouder than ever before.”

Always on the lookout for new creative workouts, I interviewed Erin to learn more:

Q; How does Shrink Session empower you?

A: It’s not often that we walk around speaking words of empowerment to and about ourselves. Shrink Session gives you that opportunity. For 45 minutes, you are focused on words that empower and lift you up while you are sweating, and it’s impossible not to feel the positive effects. Throughout the workout you and I are saying mantras, out loud. Not just thinking them but actually SAYING them. That can sound a little weird and some people are like, “There is no way I am going to say something out loud while I workout.” But those are the same individuals that usually end up crying during the meditation because they are so moved by what the workout brought up within them.

Q: What prompted you to create it?

A: Having worked with mantras and affirmations since I was 18 years old, I realized that moving myself into an empowered physical state while focused on these words made me feel and act completely different. So I used to say mantras while in dance class or going for walks. Studying with a teacher who encouraged me to speak these words out loud while working out really changed my life, because it combined what I was already doing and took it to a new level. As time went on, I took what I learned from this teacher and all my other spiritual teachers and artistic folks to create my own thing.

Q: What has the reaction been so far?

A: Outstanding. The thing that blows me away is that the ‘target market’ keeps expanding. At first I thought only women aged 25-40 years old who are fairly fit are going to like this, but then it got introduced to a market of 40-55 year-old females who were not nearly as fit. In fact some had not exercised in years and Shrink Session was moving them to tears as they were “in” their bodies for the first time in years. That is when I realized this is bigger than originally thought and has the ability to affect millions.

Shrink Session classes energize and empower participants.

Intrigued? I am, and wish that I could take a Shrink Session class in-person. But since New York City is a thousand miles away from my life in Atlanta, and I don’t have a private jet at my disposal, that isn’t going to easily happen. Luckily, Erin has launched a video series that you can do at home, and offers a free, 15 minute workout on her website to test it out – http://shrinksessionworkout.com/

Have you ever combined personal growth with exercise? Tell us about the last time that a workout inspired you on a mental or spiritual level as well!