For the majority of my life, I have been blessed to have wonderful teachers, coaches, and role models. These teachers didn't always come in the classroom either, they oftentimes came in unwelcome forms, such as a difficult boyfriend, a disagreeable teammate or coworker, a class bully, an unhappy client, etc.
The world is a complete wealth of knowledge, and it is oftentimes the people and situations we tend to avoid that can teach us the most and promote our own growth the best.
On a congruent note, there is a strange paradox that we have run into this past year in terms of leadership. An air of hypocrisy, double standards, and lack of appropriate role models to look up to hangs in the air, from our current president on down.
We all need to stop settling for what society has deemed to be a normal standard – doing the minimum, instant gratification, limited accountability, mediocrity, discrimination, laziness, sexism, and the list goes on.
Our world needs great leaders, and that starts with each and every one of us. Here are some summarizations of things I've read and experienced that have helped me immensely in my own quest for self-growth.
1. Be Who You Say You Are
This is an important character quality to possess. No one respects someone who says one thing and then does the opposite, that's obvious right?
To lead others, you must take an inside-out approach, meaning you first need to be able to lead yourself. This requires discipline, commitment, openness to change, and the willingness to grow.
A famous quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson reads, "What you are shouts so loudly in my ears, I cannot hear what you say", or as we would say in modern times, walk it like you talk it.
"What you are shouts so loudly in my ears, I cannot hear what you say." – Ralph Waldo Emerson
2. Don't Compare
There is a beautiful saying, "Comparison is the thief of joy." How simple and true is that? If we live comparing ourselves to our peers, to social expectations of who we should be, or to our own glorified self-image, we will continually be disappointed.
This is one area I admit I have really struggled with through my twenties and it has robbed me of self-confidence and happiness too many times.
Some of the most influential and effective people I've read about or met all agree, don't waste energy or focus measuring yourself up to anyone else, keep your eyes forward and only measure yourself against who you were yesterday.
To grow, we must take advantage of the lessons and opportunities we are given everyday!
"Measure yourself only to who you were yesterday."
3. Lead so others may follow
If you are in a leadership position now, and were to experience a day through the eyes of someone who works under you or looks up to you, would you like what you saw?
Would you be a leader that you would like to follow and who treats others how you would like to be treated? All of these are important questions to continually ask yourself, as power can play negatively on our human tendencies and has potential to cause complacency, ego inflation, and blindness.
An outstanding leader will radiate integrity, empathy, justice, patience, and humility. An outstanding leader will expect of themselves what they expect of others, and are lighthouses in the darkest of storms.
They get people to follow because they are willing to do even the most simple and "puny" of tasks to accomplish the overall team goal. They are willing to deeply listen, and provide direction when needed.
Finally, an outstanding leader will push people to be better by showing them how, not dragging them along like a tugboat, trying to get them to where they want to go.
Ben Franklin, the man influential enough to be on the one hundred dollar bill, wrote and worked to abide by the character ethics above. If were good enough for the man whose face is now on literally hundreds of bills and helped shaped our nation, they are probably good enough for us.
"An outstanding leader will expect of themselves what they expect of others, and are lighthouses in the darkest storms."
4. Be able to self reflect
I will just open this section by shamelessly saying that no one likes a know-it-all. I will be the first to admit that the majority of the principles outlined in this post have not come from my own experiences.
5. Make excellence a habit
The final take away from this post, is the age old principle that we are what we repeatedly do. Your thoughts lead to your beliefs, which lead to your actions, which become your character.
No matter how small or unimportant a task may seem, our resolve to do everything to the best of our ability creates habits of excellence.
Thus, something as small as tying your shoes properly to as large as leading a team to a championship, should be done as best as we can.
If you make excellence a habit, and not just a now and then decision, you will become the author of your life and not the victim of circumstance, "bad luck", or the hardships that you've endured because of other people. That's a leader right there!
We are capable of being leaders, but like many things, leadership is a skill that must be cultivated through trails, preparation, and experience.
You simply can't just talk about being a role model, about how well you motivate people, about your servitude and empathy towards others, or your ability to make others better.
These are great points for a resume, but unless you are actually living, breathing, and doing these things every single day, you are just talker. And baby, talk is cheap.
Is it normal for you to feel tired during the day, experience headaches often, get dizzy when exercising, or have dry skin? These, are common symptoms, amongst others to be described later, that are culprits of dehydration, in which an estimated 75% of the population unknowingly and chronically lives with on a day to day basis.
Hydration: How to be a grape
Ever thought water was the best thing ever during a workout? You just couldn’t get enough? Water is just as important when we aren’t throwing around weights or sweating and panting profusely on a StairMaster. Though not always the most exciting beverage, it is essential for optimal health and survival.
We are approximately 60% water. A true liquid asset to our health, water does so much for us including the regulation of body temperature, lubrication of our joints and body tissues, delivery of nutrients and oxygen to cells, flushes out waste products, prevents constipation, and maintains blood volume.
So how much do you need? A basic recommendation is 8 cups a day (imagine a half gallon of milk). That's the pretty bare bones minimum though, so if you aren't even meeting this, it's time to step your game up.
Depending on your age, weight, gender, environment (extreme heat or cold), and obviously how much you exercise, this number could be a serious low-ball.
Math Cap On
The infographic above gives guidelines on ounces for the average man, woman, and additional liquid if you are an athlete. You can also use the following basic equation:
Before you consider wearing adult diapers with how much you may be needing to use the restroom consuming that amount of liquid, let me let you in on a little secret – this number can also include water in food.
Water and other beverages will supply 70 to 80% of our intake for the day, while foods will contribute to the remainder.
What's Your Pee Look Like (Not Trying to Be Creepy)
Most of us know that a dark colored and smelly urine is a sign of dehydration. Anything leaning towards more yellow than clear is a sign you need to sub the coffee for some agua.
Additional physical signs of dehydration can include a dry or sticky mouth, weight gain, joint pain and stiffness, and bladder or kidney problems¹. Yes, you read right, weight gain. Water helps us suppress hunger, reduces our body's sodium levels, and maintains muscle tone and metabolism. Motivated to drink more water yet?
Night time activities like drinking alcohol and sleeping can also dry you out. Drinking a large glass of water right after you wake up is a great way to rehydrate from sleeping and kickstart your day.
Tricks and tips
If drinking water consistently really is a struggle for you, spice things up by adding slices of fruits, vegetables, or herbs. Fruits may include orange slices, fresh or frozen assorted berries, cucumber slices, watermelon slices, lemon and lime slices. Herbs can be anything from mint, sage, cinnamon sticks, and basil—explore!
Another tip is to buy a "water timer bottle". When it’s in sight, it’s in mind, allowing you not only easy access, but an easy decision when you need a drink.
Secondly, create a chart that will allow you to see your daily water consumption from drinking water specifically. This will allow you to see if you met your goal for the day. The small wins add up! Eventually, you may be able to do without the charting as it becomes habit to consume the proper amount of drinking water.
1 "Dehydration and Weight Gain." Spirit of Change. October 19, 2017. Accessed August 03, 2018. http://www.spiritofchange.org/alternative-health/Dehydration-and-Weight-Gain/.
2 "Water, Hydration, and Health." Popkin, B., D'Anci, K., Rosenburg, I.
Water, Hydration, and Health. Accessed August 03, 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908954/
Looking for a change up to your dinner tonight? This dish will bring a little Eastern flavor to your table by using a uniquely sweet/savory combination of cumin, lemon, and fish sauce while replacing rice, pasta, or potatoes with Israeli (pearl) couscous, peas, and a massive amount of heart healthy veggies.
Meat & Miscellaneous
When to couscous
Disclaimer, couscous is not gluten-free! Also called Israeli couscous, this pasta-like grain has a slightly chewy texture and bland flavor that is enhanced by the addition of sauces and spices.
It is made by rolling durum wheat with salted water to form little balls. Finally, you can add it to so many things, from soups to salads, just be careful as it has a similar nutritional profile to that of traditional pasta.
While twiddling my thumbs at an Anchorage health fair a few weeks ago, a gal approached my booth (just the second person to come by in over 2 hours, mind you) and asked what "Make Yourself" was about.
I gave my twenty second awkward spiel and then immediately diverted the conversation back to her lead (my close friends will tell you I'm not a huge fan of talking about myself, my mentor would then tell me that, that's bad business).
However, today it worked for the better, because this wonderful lady, Marie, or 'Rie as she endearingly introduced herself, had the most incredible story to tell about her and her husband, Dave.
One thing lead to another, and I sat across from Dave this past Saturday to learn more about his dramatic 100lb. weight loss transformation.
Dave was an active young man back in the day, going for 50k skis and playing on various soccer teams. Then life happened, as it tends to do to us all, and the time for himself shrank.
Before long, this full time volcanologist, dad, and husband, found himself inactive, overweight, and in the doctor's office staring at the hard truth that his weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and other numbers, were all outside of a healthy range.
“I felt like I was being a bit of a hypocrite as a scientist to not follow the advice of people who have decades of experience and study, just as I would be irritated if I were in that position [as a volcanologist]."
The Turning Point
When 18 years old, Dave's father tragically passed away at the young age of 53, and last year at age 51, Dave recognized that he didn't want to follow the same path and be around to see his two kids grow up.
This, along with some uncomfortable nerve pain, led his doctor to recommend a change in his diet and to incorporate exercise into his life. Soon after, Dave enlisted the help of a dietitian to help him get on the right track with his diet.
Recognizing Dave's love of numbers the dietitian gave him three parameters to track: calories, carbs, and fiber.
He used a free app to track these things, and abided to what he (very Alaskan-like) calls the "Grizzly Bear Diet", where he didn't restrict anything like fad diets mislead you to do. It was all about making good choices based on professional guidance.
He made the investment to put an elliptical in his home, and carved 45 minutes out of his day, everyday, to spend working out. He swapped his daily dine out lunch habit for a homemade salad and whole wheat turkey sandwich, and found dinner meals he enjoyed, but were also good choices.
All of these factors, combined with the support and gentle encouragement of 'Rie, he started to watch the extra pounds start to come off.
"It was like ‘okay this is what I’m eating’, and I burned a lot of sweat, I mean this isn’t easy. One third of me entered the atmosphere as heat, water, and carbon dioxide. I like that image, a third of me sort of up there in the atmosphere.”
No one was more shocked with the weight loss than Dave himself, who confessed that "I didn't think it was possible to lose weight and be more fit. I thought that ‘I missed my opportunity.’ But you don’t know until you try, it does take discipline, but do you want to do this or not? It’s easy to rationalize that sitting and watching one more football game or eating a whole pizza by yourself isn’t going to matter in the big picture, but it does.”
There came a point where he plateaued and it bummed him out so he tried compensating with more exercise to overcome the hump, but realized that sometimes ”your body just needs to readjust and [my advice] is to not fixate on that, get through that and realize that [plateauing] can happen.”
"This is my story, this has worked okay for me, and I recognize that some people really, really struggle, and the way I did it may not work for everyone."
Responsible Weight loss
A take away from my talk with Dave that I personally love and will recommend to my clients in the future, is his rule of thumb, which, for all intents and purposes we will call "The Dave Rule": If you are going to have something that you enjoy, which isn't the healthiest thing, make sure it's good. Don't eat crappy pizza, if you are going to have pizza, it better be the best.
When asked how important he thought it was to still eat the things he enjoys, Dave responded, “I think I denied myself those things for a pretty long time, so now I’m willing to just let myself enjoy it a bit more. I see other fit people eating these things so I realized you probably can’t eat this kind of stuff while you are trying to lose weight, but you can have them every now and then when you are trying to maintain weight. There’s a big difference.”
“None of this is outrageous, I still eat foods that I enjoy. Otherwise you’re just going to be miserable.” Another thing I really recommended to people is to talk to a dietitian, don’t try to do this on your own. And talk to a good dietitian, if you don’t like the person you meet with, go find someone else.”
In closing, Dave still continues to learn and grow on his journey, now starting to focus on weight training to build muscle and increase his resting metabolic rate to stop burning through muscle with all his aerobic exercise.
He is now energized by life and continues to be motivated by progress, gains, and improvement in his appearance and health. As he continues to scale all of Anchorage's mountains, his motto "It's a great day for up" seems to resonate through every aspect of his new and improved quality of life! Thank you for sharing your story, Dave! You are an inspiration to us all.
Colder temperatures and darker days personally leave me craving something warm and comforting that isn't going to give that heavy feeling after.
If you're in the same boat, I have the perfect, guiltless and simple, recipe for you!
Grilled Cheese (serves 3)
Winter Squash Soup (serves 6)
If you've followed or tried any of my recipes before, you know I'm a pretty simple gal and need things to be straight forward, fairly quick to make, and tasty to eat. Luckily, this recipe met all of those criteria!
Grilled [Portabello Mushroom] Cheese (serving size: 1 sandwich)
10 g fat
550 mg sodium
11 g fiber
20 g protein
Dave's Killer bread has a good content of protein and fiber, but someone could also make this sandwich on "regular" whole wheat bread and save 260 calorie! SaraLee for example has a multi-grain bread that has 90 kcal for 2 slices.
Winter Squash Soup: (6 servings)
0 g fat
235 mg sodium
4 g fiber
6 g protein