How You Can Accomplish (almost) All Your Goals This Year

Are you happy that this is a new year?  If you are like me, you’ve been eagerly awaiting 2013 to come to its final days since October.

Isn’t it crazy scary how 2014 rolled around so fast? So sudden that I didn’t even get the chance to reflect on the challenges, gifts and accomplishments that 2013 brought into my life.  You see, sometime around December of 2012, I decided to be a badass crazy chick and actually shared my 2013 New Year’s Goals with the world.  Yep, I blogged about my 10 New Years Goals that I would accomplish in just 12 speedy months.  Do you think I was able to do it?  It’s cool if you don’t believe in me and said no because you are right, I did not achieve all ten goals.

I was indeed super ambitious for creating 10 hefty goals and putting it out there on cyberspace for all of you to see.  And because I didn’t achieve them all, you may think I feel like a failure or that I should be locked up in internet jail for saying I would do something but not doing it. (sorry,blame the human in me)

But no, I don’t feel that way at all (I don’t deserve jail).  In fact, I feel refreshed, revitalized, calm, chill, cool and…well, normal.  If you saw me in the street and asked me how was your 2013?  I’d reply “it was cool.” My palms wouldn’t get all sweaty thinking about the things I said I would do that I didn’t do.  Because in fact, although I didn’t meet all my goals, I made strong serious efforts to tackle each goal on a consistent basis.  And more importantly, the goals that were not achieved are things that I am currently working on in 2014.

Now to the fun but weird, put-myself-out-there-for-the-internet-to-see, part of this blog post (just breathe Chika!).   Below is a run down of the 10 goals I set for last year.  Read on to see what these hefty goals are, if I achieved it, what I learned, and a self-reflection on how the goal will affect my life going forward.  Hopefully after reading, you’ll get a sense of insight and a burst of inspiration to not only set goals for yourself but to make strong efforts to accomplish each one.  You can do this… just use your strength, beauty, intelligence and resiliency.

Chika’s Ambitious and Motivational New Years Goals for 2013: Recap + Self-Reflection

1.  Learn how to do a pull-up.

Did it happen? No

What I learned:  I couldn’t quite get my head above the bar …but I did learn how to do a chin-up!  I was sooooo close on multiple occasions.

How will this goal affect me going forward:  Pull-ups are extremely bad-ass.  When I see women knocking out pull-ups effortlessly on youtube, I get really amped-up and jealous all at the same time.  I can’t wait for that to be me.  And so, I’ll put it out there:  before 2014 is up, I am confident that I will be able to do at least one full pull-up.  I’ll keep trying for it, I haven’t given up.

2.  Eat more offal (organ meat).

Did it happen? Yes!

What I learned:  It was my goal to try different types of offal (pronounced ‘aw-ful’) meat because they are chocked full of micronutrients your body needs to function optimally.  In fact offal (organ meat) is so nutrient dense, that whenever I eat a serving, I skip my vitamin pills for the day to prevent waste (i.e. electric-yellow colored urine where all the extra nutrients end up).

I cooked beef and chicken liver on multiple occasions using my own recipe for chicken liver & onions.  And I even had offal various times at restaurants including duck liver pate, tripe and beef tongue (yum!). When the chef prepares it a la perfecto with just the right combination of spices, it tastes heavenly.

How will this goal affect me going forward:  2013 exposed me to the world of offal and I liked it!.  2014 and going forward, offal will be a regularly-occurring food item in my home.  We are only two weeks into the new year and I’ve already eaten liver at four different meals.  All the extra energy I get after consuming offal makes it worth eating.  Plus offal is way cheaper than most other animal cuts you will find in the store.  Consider it an inexpensive solution to feeding your family a nutrient-rich source of protein.

3.  Find a non-profit organization to volunteer.

Did it happen? Yes and No.

What I learned:  Let me explain the above.  You see, it was my goal to find a local non-profit organization within the health, food and fitness world that I could volunteer my free time.  But I failed to do this.  What I did do, and what I have been a part of for almost 10 years of my life, is a national accounting organization (yep, when I’m not cooking and teaching you about food and health, you can find me crunching numbers and referencing the tax code during my (lack of) spare time.

How will this goal affect me going forward:  I have sat on the board of the bay area chapter of this accounting firm for over four years now and I am passionate about it — helping college students transition into a successful career in accounting and taxation and organizing impactful scholarship galas and the like.  Accounting is my passion just as food and health are.  Sometimes having two careers simultaneously is the only way to truly feel like I’ve conquered ‘happiness’ and ‘work-life balance’.

4.  Start a YouTube Food channel.

Did it happen? Yes!!!!

What I learned:  I learned that I love being in front of the camera.  Big shout out to my friend Mourhia of Profound Coils (a natural hair care blog/social media venture),  who introduced me to video-blogging.  She is a beautiful actress who partnered with me to release our YouTube series:  Nourishing Beauty where we dish to you about healthy foods, prepare easy delicious recipes and chat about relationships and taking care of you first.  We launched our first batch of videos (ten videos) in August 2013 and are currently shooting videos to be uploaded on YouTube later this month.  Subscribe to my youtube channel so you won’t miss it.

How will this goal affect me going forward:  Going forward, look out for more YouTube videos from my Nourishing Beauty collaboration with Mourhia and as well as food, fitness, and life videos from me here at Chika Obih Wellness.  #juiced #youaintready #getready #youready? #okthankyoubye

5.  Get outdoors more often.

Did it happen? Yes

What I learned:  So this goal and the next one are somewhat related.  I was able to get outdoors more because I canceled my gym membership early last year.  Because I love to exercise, this made it easy for me to tie up my sneakers, charge my ipod and get moving outdoors.  It feels so amazing to have the sun and wind hitting your skin as the sweat beads linger on your face while moving your body.  And because I live close to a lake, I am never alone — there are many other people nearby getting their outdoor activity in for the day.  It’s truly a motivating environment.

How will this goal affect me going forward:  I will continue to workout outdoors at least on the weekends because its fun, engaging, and rejuvenating.   I also make sure to walk my errands whenever I have the extra time to spare.  This is a goal I will effortlessly keep going forward.

6.  Cancel gym membership.

Did it happen? Yes

What I learned:  Canceled in February of 2013.  In March I discovered Bikram Yoga.  If you don’t know, Bikram yoga is yoga done for 90 minutes in a room heated to 105 degrees.  I was pretty sure someone was trying to punish me in the worst way during my first class; the shit was intense.  But I kept going back.  And now I have completed two 30-day challenges (practicing Bikram yoga everyday for 30 days straight) within a 5 month period.  I even blogged about the second challenge that I completed in August.  

Never did I think I would be a fan of any form of yoga.  I am the most inflexible woman I know in terms of stretching and bending and twisting.  However, yoga helps with that!  And yoga helps with stress; weight loss; muscle tone; sleep; cravings; mental clarity; energy; getting shit done; being positive.

These are all the things yoga has personally helped me improve.  There are 50 million other reasons to give yoga a try.  Don’t believe me, just try it out for a minimum of 3 times per week for a month.

How will this goal affect me going forward:  No more gym membership.  Just outdoor workouts, bikram yoga, and the occasional local bootcamp classes I purchase from time to time to change things up.

7.  Chika Obih Wellness is an active force in improving the health of the community.

Did it happen? Yes

What I learned:  This blog really gets around!  I have heard from people all over the world how

-you can identify with some of my personal stories (my half marathon experience, bikram yoga);

– you have tried and loved my recipes (Slowcooker Cream of Celery Soup, Chocolate Avocado Pudding – big ups to Paleo guru @RobbWolf for the retweet);

– you have learned more about the benefits of avoiding processed foods and leading a healthier, active life.

 I’d say gosh darn it, my blog and business has truly made a positive difference for you. Chika Obih Wellness has over 800 likes on facebook and an ever-growing following on instagram, twitter, pinterest, and youtube.

How will this goal affect me going forward:  YOU motivate me.  Everything I do is for you:  for your health, your betterment, your happiness.  So look out for more from me:  recipes, videos, online healthy eating programs, stories, tips, photos, social media shares, blog posts, and more.  And for those looking to work one on one with me as your Nutritionist, contact me today so that we can make it happen.  Let no day go by when you aren’t putting your best foot forward in terms of your health.

8.  Travel to Nigeria

Did it happen? No

What I learned:  Nigeria is my homeland.  Yes I was born in Los Angeles.  But my parents are 100% Nigerian so that means I am too.  I haven’t visited Nigeria since 2006 and I am pretty homesick about it.  My aunties and uncles never fail to remind me that it has been way too long and that I need to pay them a visit.  That was the plan last year but I did not take care of the Nigerian passport situation in time. Damn procrastination.

How will this goal affect me going forward:  So now my goal is to go to Nigeria for Christmas 2014.  I’ll make sure to get on the passport thing asap to prevent running into the same problems.  #procrastinationkillsdreams

9.  Run a Half Marathon

Did it happen? YES

What I learned:  I ran two half marathons and blogged about my adventures from my first one I ran June 2013.  It takes heart, dedication, patience, perseverance and a conveniently located supply of chapstick  to run long distances. shit, the wear and tear it does on the body is ridiculous.  After the disaster I experienced in the June half where I hobbled across the fiishline more than 20 minutes longer than my goal-time, I was super determined to beat that time.

I soon signed up for an October half in which I ran and beat my June time by 12 minutes.  I felt like I was sitting pretty on top of a really tall building in San Francisco.  And I felt hurt.  I messed up my left knee joint and was literally hopping around for a couple weeks after.  Walking down the stairs felt like death. Since when did anyone ever dread walking down stairs??? Talk about a perplexingly painful period in life.

How will this goal affect me going forward:  It is amazing that I ran two half marathons less than four months apart.  But my body paid the ultimate price.  To this day, my knee is not 100% healed.  The knees are NOT something you ever want to mess up.  Once the knees go, then its all downhill from there.  So after running 3 half marathons in my life (the first was in 2011), I have decided to retire from long distance running.  It was fun, but I am moving on to other knee-friendly activities.

10.  Open my heart (and give my attention) to the possibility of finding love.

Did it happen? Yes

What I learned:  Note: I have not yet found love. B U T….. I have learned how to be vulnerable and not keep my heart guarded.  Wowzers, it took alot of work because I am naturally logical-scientific based and less of the emotional, share-your-feelings, poetic type.  I used to have 30 minute conversations in my head pondering the question “do I really like him, why or why not?”  How Dexter-like of me!  But now those converstaions last just 10 minutes (improvement!).  But seriously,  I just follow my heart, follow my emotions, and give people a fair chance….to screw up (kidding).

 Vulnerability and being able to go with the flow has helped me to come to terms quickly when relationships do not work out.  I feel satisfied that an honest effort was made on my part and can move forward with a clear head and optimism towards the next male encounter.

How will this goal affect me going forward:  Now that I can effortlessly show my vulnerability, my dating experiences thus far have been raw, honest, and …quick.  lol the bullshit radar works at lightning speed these days!  As of writing this post I cannot say that I am exclusively involved with anyone. But I am happily dating.  And I have washed my hands of bullshitters and self-absorbed crazies.  My road to love is clear of debris and is mine for the taking.  I am too juiced to take control of the wheel and drive towards my destination…happily ever after.

To Wrap Up…

Having goals each year is a brilliant way to set the tone that “this year things will be different.”  Whether or not you achieve your goals, your energy towards tackling the goal(s) is what’s most important. Setting goals means you care about something.  Caring about something should make you want to take the necessary action to see it through.  And if you are super serious about seeing your goals through, then tell one or two people about them.  Or be like me and tell the world haha.

So….I want to know.  What are your goals for 2014?  Who have you told these goals to?  What steps have you taken to help put you in a position to accomplish these goals?  Share with me in the comments.

For an awesome, fantastic, funny, incredible, sexy, easy, too-good-to-be-true 2014 subscribe to my email list by clicking the image below.  I am gearing up to launch my fresh new website soon. You don’t wanna miss this.  Subscribe to my email list right this minute.  

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There You Go Again: A New Year, A New Weight Loss Goal

burn all the fat meme

There is something magically delicious about the new year that makes people want to change their bad habits and drop fat once and for all with the mindset that “this time it’s different; this time I will succeed.”  (Not) sadly, I am here to bust your bubble.  You see, setting lofty goals without really having a plan or without synchronizing your goals with your mental mindset is a formula for failure.  *bubble busted*

And when we set goals or resolutions beginning the 1st of Jan, it may be due to pressure from celebrities, friends, co-workers, family, or that super annoying infomercial for an at-home workout video that flaunted ridiculously hott models in your face for 30 minutes straight while you nursed a Haagen-Dazs cookie dough ice cream pint at midnight on a Friday night.  mmhmmm.

And during new year season, the pressure to look your best is fierce!  We think, “everyone else has a weight loss goal…let me jump on the bandwagon too since I can stand to drop a few (dozen) pounds.”

From my personal experience, peer pressure to perform never lasts and gets old fast. You end up right where you began in this never-ending cycle to get fit.   Since you want to meet your health goals not just for 2014, but more importantly, for the rest of your precious life, then the best time to start your weight loss efforts is when you are ready both mentally AND physically.  

With that said, I have for you 7 tips that will help you you achieve your weight loss goals.  For optimal success, tackle one tip per week.  Once you master one tip, then move on to the next.  By the end of 7 weeks, these tips will be ingrained in your daily habits + you’ll have a slimmer waistline and leaner thighs.  Watch out now, you may earn a new nickname: “hott n’ sexy”.

1. Refrain from drinking calories.

Sodas and juices are full of sugar that makes it difficult for the body to release fat. The biggest antagonist to burning fat is sugar consumption because it stimulates the secretion of insulin — a fat-promoting hormone. Diet drinks are not the smart alternative to caloric drinks.  Although diet drinks have zero calories, they cause addiction and contain chemicals that can do more harm than good to your body.  Stick to water which is refreshing, energizing and flushes out waste and toxins from the body which can contribute to fatigue and fat storage.  Herbal and green tea are also great options.

2. Eat real food — only!

As much as you want to believe otherwise, processed low-calorie frozen meals, skinny lattes, 100 calorie packs, and detox drinks will NOT help you keep the weight off.  You may see a little bit of results but trust me, these results will not last.  To lose fat and keep it off, you must feed your body nutrient-dense real foods — not chemical loaded, man-made Frankenstein food.  Real foods include wild fish; leafy greens; eggs; beef; chicken; and red, purple, and other colorful fruits and vegetables.  To ensure you are truly eating a whole foods rich diet, shop the perimeter of your supermarket, or better yet, do most, if not all, of your grocery shopping at the Farmer’s Market.  For optimal nutrition and to reduce toxic load, choose organic, pastured, and grass-fed options whenever possible.

3. Drink green tea to boost metabolism.

Research demonstrates that one can experience an increase in metabolism by regularly consuming green tea.  Green tea leaves are not fermented and contain more catechins than other teas. These important polyphenols, coupled with the natural caffeine present in green tea, is likely the reason that regular green tea consumption can boost metabolism, increase fat burning and promote weight loss. Drink green tea as a regular part of your day morning, noon and evening.

4. Eat protein at every meal.

Want to stay fuller longer in-between meals?  Eat protein.  Research shows higher-protein diets help people better control their appetites and daily calorie intake. Therefore make sure to eat protein with every meal and snack.  A protein-rich diet coupled with a low to low-moderate carbohydrate intake should melt away fat in record time while boosting energy and clearing away brain fog. Protein causes the brain to receive lower levels of appetite-stimulating hormones such as insulin. Fewer insulin spikes lead to less fluctuation of sugar cravings – and therefore fewer cravings.  For dinner, try this lemon pepper crusted salmon for an excellent source of protein and fat-loss promoting omega-3 fats.

5. Fat is your weight loss friend.

Contrary to the hype, in order to lose fat, you must eat fat.  I’m talking good fats such as coconut oil, olive oil, real butter, ghee, fish and animal fats rich in healthy saturated and monounsaturated fats.  Nix the bad fats:  polyunsaturated vegetable oils such as soybean oil, margarine, corn oil, canola oil, and safflower oil — these fats are composed mostly of inflammatory omega-6 properties.  What makes a fat “bad” or “good” is its ability to stay in its natural chemical structure when heated and/or exposed to light.  Polyunsaturated vegetable fats have a very weak chemical structure which can easily cause rancidity and oxidation; to avoid damaging the structure  you definitely should not cook with these fats.  When rancid fats are consumed, it can promote health ailments such as heart disease, fat accumulation, digestive unrest, thyroid hormone imbalance, sluggish energy, and low libido, among other issues.   Good quality saturated fats keep their structure when heated therefore promotes balanced hormones, brain health, increased metabolism and optimal cell function.  Bottom line: quality good fats come from pastured, organic, and grass-fed sources.

6. Get adequate, quality sleep.

More and more studies are linking weight gain to inadequate, low quality sleep. Indeed, fat loss factors on more than the simple mantra of “eat less, move more”.   Lack of sleep increases the stimulus to consume more food and increases appetite-regulating hormones.  Lack of sleep reduces willpower to eat healthy.  When is the last time you chose a vegetable-protein option as opposed to a sugar-filled processed carbohydrate loaded treat after 10pm at night?  At night, the brain’s serotonin levels are at their lowest.  Serotonin is a feel-good neurotransmitter which contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness.  When the brain’s serotonin levels are low, the body compensates by increasing cravings for carbohydrates.  Now you see why staying up late is the craftiest way to grow your gut in no time flat.  Get to bed by 10pm and aim for 7-9 hours of restful, quality sleep in a pitch-black, temperature cool bedroom.

7. Work with a Nutrition Coach.

Hiring a certified nutrition coach will help you achieve your weight loss goals faster by taking the guess work and stress (due to lack of success) out of the equation. A Nutrition coach will customize a food & lifestyle plan specific to your needs therefore exponentially increasing your adherence thus producing faster results.  Not to mention, accountability plays a huge part in you staying dedicated and plowing through stressful times.  Contact me today for your free 15 minute consultation.

 

For an awesome, fantastic, funny, incredible, sexy, easy, too-good-to-be-true 2014 subscribe to my email list by clicking the image below.  I am gearing up to launch my fresh new website soon. You don’t wanna miss this.  Subscribe to my email list right this minute.  

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Inspiration to Welcome CHANGE into your Life

change_postEvery now and then we all can use a friendly reminder as to why we are embarking on new journeys, discovering something new, growing and learning from past encounters.  Since this is only the second month of the new year,  I bet that many of you set new goals in which you wanted to accomplish this year.  Whether it be nutrition, finance, relationship, or fitness-related, it is important to keep your goals a priority as you tackle your daily life schedule.  Remember, you came up with these goals for reasons important to you.  So stay the course and follow through in accomplishing each goal.

Below are some words of inspiration to help re-ignite the fire within to get you going again.  Print out this list, write down the quotes that spark your interest and post them on the refrigerator, mirror, or somewhere you are guaranteed to see it daily.  Read each quote out loud daily.  Stay inspired, stay hungry for change.  Share with friends on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media — you never know who else you may inspire.

–>  “In order to change behavior, you must be clear about what satisfaction that behavior is giving you as well as what it is costing you, then make a conscious decision to move.”

–>  “Change is much easier to deal with when we get help. Getting support not only makes dealing with change easier for us, it allows other people to be of service, which is something most people love to have the opportunity to do.”

–>  “If you are motivated to seek better health, all that you need to achieve it is practical information… any addiction can be broken if people are motivated to do so.”

–>  “A great tool to decrease negative behaviors and choices is to add more positive behaviors and choices, to strengthen and extend habits you probably already have, habits of eating, exercising, breathing, using your mind, and nourishing your spirit.”

–>  “Have empathy and compassion for yourself and others in going through change. It’s not easy for most of us. By embracing change we become not only more effective in dealing with it, but more peaceful, present, and powerful in our lives.”

–>  Make a list of what’s important to you to help stay motivated and focused, whether it’s to get rid of anxiety or lose weight. Then find a way to make sure that you can call on your motivational factors during moments of temptation.”

–>  “You likely will have an occasional setback. But instead of giving up entirely after a setback, simply start fresh the next day. Remember that you’re planning to change your life. It won’t happen all at once. Stick to your healthy lifestyle and the results will be worth it.”

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What changes are you working to accomplish this year?  Share in the comments!

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My Ambitious and Motivational New Years Goals for 2013

new year goals_quote

New Year’s Goals are different from New Years Resolutions.  A resolution is when you resolve to do better, get better, be better.  You make a statement but there is no plan of action attached the the statement. For example, one may make a resolution to pay off debts by declaring “My New Year’s Resolution is to pay off my debt.”  That is all, resolution made.  But with no plan of action attached to it, a resolution is bound to fail you one way or the other.  On the other hand, setting a New Year goal is the smarter way to go if you want to succeed.  Setting specific and measurable goals is the right way to transform a simple new year’s resolution into something attainable. Write them down and check in with your measurable, specific goals on a regular basis to make sure you are making progress. Goals too easy or difficult? No worries, you can tweak things as necessary to provide a challenge while also ensuring you meet your goals.

2012 brought so much growth and inspiration into my life and has left me hungry to accomplish much more in the new year.  Below are my goals that I will achieve in 2013.  Each one is quite ambitious and I am super motivated to tackle each because these are goals that have lingered in my mind or crossed my lips many times over the course of years.  I choose to share my goals with you because I want you to hold me accountable to achieving each one.  Plus, I will blog sporadic updates throughout the year illustrating to you my progress, challenges and successes. I hope to inspire you to set personal goals for yourself this new year and work towards execution.    Afterall, you deserve it.

Chika’s Ambitious and Motivational New Years Goals for 2013

1.  Learn how to do a pull-up.

Ever since gym class in the 6th grade, I’ve yearned to do a pull-up.  Fast forward 15 years and I still cannot do one. Let’s face it, pull ups are hard as heck. With Steve’s plan over at Nerd Fitness, I’ll be doing pull-ups in no time.

2.  Eat more offal (organ meat).

Within the last year I introduced chicken liver into my diet.  Chicken liver is one of the milder tasting, less earthy/weird types of offal, pronounced “aw-ful” — which makes it the perfect choice when trying offal for the first time.  Here is a yummy recipe for chicken livers & onions.  Other offal types include heart, kidney, brain, sweetbread, etc.  Offal is one of the most nutrient-dense superfoods there is.  Offal is so rich in vitamins and minerals that it is often recommended to eat just 1-2 servings per week to reduce chance of toxicity from over-consumption of nutrients.  This year, I will include a variety of offal into my diet.  I already have a pound of grass-fed beef liver that’s been sitting in my freezer for a few months.  Just gotta cook it!

3.  Find a non-profit organization to volunteer.

Volunteering is one of those things that most people KNOW they need to do more of — including myself.  My goal is to find a non-profit organization that shares my love of helping the community through health and nutrition and actively get involved in volunteering my time helping with note-worthy causes. By linking a volunteer effort to something you are passionate about, you are more likely to build a continuous relationship with that organization and the community in which it targets.  Score!

4.  Start a YouTube Soul-Wholesome Nutrition channel.

This blog is a wonderful gift to me on so many levels. It has revamped my love of writing (no matter how strongly writer’s block tries to undermine my efforts).  I get to share my words of thought (and wisdom) with the world through my fingertips.  This year, I will have a visual means of sharing food, lifestyle, and health tips — a YouTube channel!  Ready. Set. Action!

5.  Get outdoors more often.

The Bay Area offers so many outdoor landscapes with countless hiking trails, parks, lakes, beaches, and cooperative weather — it’s almost a sin to not spend time exploring.  So this year my goal will be to do just that — hike more, run outdoors, exercise in nature, walk my errands.  It will do my body and mind good.

6.  Cancel gym membership.

In connection to number five above, canceling my gym membership will force me to take to the outdoors for exercise.  I hit the gym enthusiastically 4-5 times a week so I do not foresee inactivity as being a problem; no gym for me simply means take it outside, save cash.

7.  Soul-Wholesome Nutrition is an active force in improving the health of the community.

Soul-Wholesome provides consulting services to individuals who are ready to transform their bodies into optimally functioning sexy beasts.  My goal will be to spread the word about how we can get the community to treat their health as a priority.  Speaking engagements and food demonstrations at schools, fairs, businesses will be set into motion this new year.

8.  Travel to Nigeria

I am a Nigerian-American born and raised in Los Angeles who has visited my parents’ country just twice — 2007 being the most recent trip.  Shame, I know.  I love love love visiting Nigeria but simply have not taken any action to make a trip come to fruition.  Simply saying, “I want to go to Nigeria” is clearly not enough.  Something tells me that shelling out the cash money to book the flight may help.  December 2013:  Nigeria here I come!

9.  Run a Half Marathon

I love running outdoors no matter how much I try to deny it and substitute heavy weight lifting (which I also love).  Yet in 2012 I probably averaged about 12 running miles — per month!  Yeap, ridiculously low number for a run lover, I know.  I ran my first half marathon in Feb 2011 and loved it — I was quite the euphoric fool.  It took 3 months to train and I committed to that training schedule everyday, rain or shine.  I was relentless in my mission as it really did give me power and motivation to accomplish anything I put my mind to.  June 2013:  See Jane Run half marathon.

10.  Open my heart (and give my attention) to the possibility of finding love.

Honestly, out of all my goals, this one is the hardest yet the most important to me.  To open my heart means allowing myself to be vulnerable and share my emotions and feelings with a guy.  I have no control over what that person may do with such sensitive information.  But such is life.  I realize that I must take a chance with love as I have been (almost) fearlessly taking a chance with other life matters such as career, family, health, and social.  So this year, I will man-up and open up my heart so that the right guy can come along and swoop me off my feet. 🙂 Being single is fun.  But sharing life with that special someone is priceless.

So there you have it, my 10 ambitious, motivational goals for 2013.  Follow along as I provide random updates in blog entries about my progress in accomplishing each goal.  I’m juiced!  Happy 2013 folks!

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New Year, New You – 23 Ways to Jumpstart your Health Goals

new year new youThe New Year is a time to reset, reprogram and re-shift our focus and put priorities first. For many, that simply means getting healthy. Eating better, getting active, sleeping more, and surrounding yourself with positive individuals are all ways in which one can improve health & longevity.  The benefits of getting healthy is almost endless. From thinking clearer to losing weight and increasing libido,  getting healthy is a valuable investment at any age.  Below are 23 things you can do to improve your health, increase happiness and add years to your life.  Along with this list of 35 ways to be the best you, incorporate these into your life one at a time with the ultimate goal of making each a lifestlye change in your new healthy life.  Cheers to a new year, new you!

1.  Be active at least ten minutes everyday.

Whether you walk during the lunch break or hit the gym before work, it is important to include regular activity in your daily routine.  Not only will your waistline thank you, but your brain will benefit in the form of more focus and clearer thought process.  Physical activity also improves sleep.

2.  Eat a vegetable at every meal.

If you can’t remember the last time you ate something green, then shame.  I’m not talking about green skittles either.  Vegetables are chock full of antioxidants that keep your skin looking young and your immune system functioning.  Make it a goal to eat vegetables at breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Spinach is versatile enough to incorporate in scrambled eggs or be included as the base of a raw salad.  Kale & cauliflower are some of my favorites.

3.  Turn off all electronics at least one hour before bedtime.

The blue light found in many electronics keeps you focused when you are working during the day.  The problem is at night:  the blue light keeps you up longer than you intend thus effecting quality and duration of sleep.  Do yourself a favor and stay off the electronics at least one hour prior to sleep.  Fill your time with reading or taking an epsom salt bath.  You will notice the more fulfilling sleep sessions almost immediately.

4.  Get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

Getting quality sleep will increase your productivity the next day.  Not only will your thinking improve, you will have a more optimistic outlook and will be a better team player in the office.  Everyone wins.

5.  Replace sugary drinks with water or tea. 

The blood sugar crash caused by consuming sugary drinks is not worth it in the long run.  Sugary drinks contain empty calories and only leaves you craving more sugar.  There was once a man who gave up soda for 40 days and 40 nights and lost 40 pounds instantly.  Give it a try will ya.

6.  Refrain from reaching for the bread basket.

When at a restaurant, forego the bread basket.  In fact, tell the waiter not to bring out the bread basket to keep temptation away.  This way you will save yourself the empty calories and carbohydrates and will savor your entree that much more.

7.  Prepare lunch from home and bring to work.

I once had a co-worker who spent at least $15 per day on lunch and coffee.  $75 saved per week can buy a single person enough groceries for 2-3 weeks!  Part of getting healthy is making  sure you have your financial house in order.   The savings produced from not eating out can go towards your retirement fund or emergency savings.

8.  Say no to dessert on weekdays, unless its fruit.

If having dessert after dinner is something you are accustomed to daily, then just adjust your plans:  weekday desserts are fruit (berries & cream, anyone?) while you save the more decadent options for a weekend date night.

9.  Have protein at every meal.

Best way to stay satiated, increase energy, and combat sweets cravings is to eat protein.  Case in point, a breakfast of eggs and bacon can ward off hunger well past lunchtime but choosing a pastry with a side of fruit can leave one ravenous within 1-2 hours. Last I heard, eating less frequently naturally because of nutrient-dense, protein-rich meals is a great tool for fighting fat.

10.  Walk or bike your errands on the weekend. 

If you live in a town where your grocery store, post office, or drugstore is conveniently located within walking distance, then challenge yourself to walk your errands on the weekends.  There’s nothing like taking a morning walk to the local post office to mail a letter then hitting up the local eatery for brunch with friends.  BONUS:  walking back home aids in the digestion process.

11. Get a library card & use it often. 

How many of us have a library card but haven’t used it in years?  This year, take advantage of the wonderful free resources offered by your local library.  Rent books, magazines, DVDs, then take them back and rent more!  Knowledge is power.

12.  Try a new workout. 

Trying out a new workout is a great way to add variety to your routine.  If the treadmill is the only piece of cardio equipment you use, then how about trying the evening Zumba class for a good sweat session? You never know, you may discover a new passion.

13.  Cut back on watching Television.

If you regularly watch 5 hours of television each evening, challenge yourself to cut back to just 3 hours.  Slowly reduce the amount of time being sedentary watching television and instead fill that time with reading, exercising, or catching up with loved ones on the phone or video chat.  Personally, I do not have a television and its the best gift I could give myself both health-wise and financially.

14.  Put a budget together & follow it.

Often times we get so used to spending money because we have it.  $5 here for coffee, $80 there for a pair of new shoes.  Yes it is great to be able to treat yourself to the simple indulgencies life has to offer, but what if you were able to save an extra $100 each week?  In a year’s time you would have enough to treat yourself to an international vacation.  Cut expenses where you can and save for something better. Here is a useful budget guide. 

15.  Enjoy the outdoors more. 

We as humans tend to feel better after spending time outside in the sun.  Not only for emotional benefits, but the outdoors re-energizes us and gives us that boost we need to accomplish tasks.  At the office eat your lunch outdoors, take strolls with co-workers, and enjoy picnics and BBQs with the family.

16.  Cook dinners starting from fresh. 

Canned and frozen foods offers flexibility and convenience.  But often times  these options pale in taste and nutrient content compared to their fresh counterparts.  Fresh fruits & vegetables from the farmer’s market is the best choice you can make in terms of nutrition and from an ethical standpoint.  As soon as you buy your produce, wash and cut them up, then refrigerate so that they are ready to use when needed.  Prepping your produce ahead of time is a smart way to reduce the occurrence of a notorious, money-wasting phenomenon I like to call rotting-by-expiration.

17.  Eat seafood 2-3 times per week. 

Fish is rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 essential fatty acids.  Omega-3s has been shown to improve cardiovascular health, fight joint pain, beautify skin, hair & nails, reduce PMS and cramping as well as improve post-exercise muscle recovery and reduce soreness.  Eat seafood 2-3 times per week and/or supplement with quality fish oil to reap the benefits.

18.  Replace sugary snacks with fruit and protein. 

Like any drug addiction, the best way to fight sugar addiction is to remove sugar from the diet.  Otherwise, even a small taste of sweet can trigger a binge.  This year, overcome your reliance on sugar by removing sugary snacks and replacing them with fruit and protein.  The combination offers a nutrient-dense, fiber rich sweet option paired with the satiating powers of protein to ward off cravings.

19.  Choose non-sugary alcoholic drinks. 

Those expensive cocktails with the pretty names can prove ugly to your waistline.  In the name of health, the best alcoholic beverage options include red & white wine, and clear spirits mixed in with a dash of soda water (tonic) & lemon or lime.  This way you can enjoy a beverage or two with friends without sabotaging your health goals.

20.  Supplement with vitamin D. 

Over 80% of Americans are vitamin D deficient and don’t even know it.  That number is higher within the African-American community.  I was baffled to learn that I had exceptionally low levels of vitamin D considering that I eat well, take a multi-vitamin and absorb California sun almost daily.  However, being dark skinned can block the vitamin-D filled UV rays from penetrating the skin.  Vitamin D in foods are so minimal that it is close to impossible to optimize vitamin D levels without supplementation.  The best supplement type is the liquid drops D3 variety which gets absorbed and utilized better than D2.

21.  Enjoy life – smile at the good times & learn from the bad.  

What’s the joy of life if you always complain about things that happen to you?  True, bad things  happen to all of us.  The key to overcoming it is how you react to such misfortune.  Stay optimistic and find the lesson in each life event.  Happier days often equals a longer, more fulfilling life.

22.  Surround yourself with people that bring out the best in you.

Who you socialize with reflects a piece of who you are.  If your friends are pessimistic and have no drive to grow and excel, then subconsciously that behavior will rub off on you.  Slowly, you will find yourself making excuses not to take care of business and do the things that are important for your success.  Make sure the people you hang around with share your passion and drive towards success and self-improvement.

23.  Hire a Nutrition Coach and Personal Trainer 

Hiring a certified health professional can help you achieve your goals faster by taking the guess work and stress due to lack of success out of the equation. Not to mention, the accountability factor plays a huge part in you staying dedicated and plowing through stressful times.  After all, you ARE worth the investment right?

35 Ways to Be the Best You

Goals

1.  See the positive in every situation life brings you.  There is always a lesson to be learned.

2.  Smile at strangers. You never know how your smile can impact someone’s day.

3.  Do more each and every day.  If you usually do 20 minutes cardio, increase it to 25; shoot for 1 more rep on the bench press; give an extra 10% during church tithing.  Push yourself.

4.  Let it go.  That person who just cut you off on the freeway; the rude waiter; your boss acting crazy — don’t let these things get the best of you.

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5.  Enjoy the fun (and crazy) times with friends and family.

6.  Cook more.  It’s the best way to know what’s in your food.

7.  Be active everyday — even for just 10 minutes each day.

8.  Help someone you don’t know.

9.  Save 10% (or more) of your income each paycheck.

10.  Call mom more often.

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11.  Enjoy the outdoors; walk more, go hiking, have picnics at the park, etc.

12.  Write down your top 3 goals each day and execute.

13. Don’t sweat the small stuff.  In the grand scheme of things, it’s all small stuff.

14.  Laugh often.

15.  Wake up each morning with an attitude of conquering the world and go at it with the upmost confidence.

16.  Be fearless.

17.  Embrace all that the Higher Power has bestowed upon you; you are uniquely beautiful.

18.  Treat yourself like you are the flyest: take care of yourself, practice good hygiene, be assertive, act with grace and confidence, smile.

19.  Remember: opportunities happen when you take action.

20.  Always believe in yourself and your dreams.

21.  Negative friends?  Get rid of ’em.

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22.  Man that doesn’t treat your right?  Get rid of him.  

23.  Closet & drawers full of clothes you don’t wear?  Get rid of ’em.

24.  Know your worth. 

25.  House cluttered and dirty?  Take some time and get to cleaning.  A clean space makes for a clear mind.

26.  Save money daily. Cut coupons, skip a day or two of 5Bucks, engage in free activities. Invite friends over for game night & appetizers instead of going out to eat.

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27.  Eat green vegetables daily.

28.  Limit sweets to just on the weekends.

29.  Breathe deeply to calm your mind and reset your focus.

30. Get into yoga, prayer or other meditative practices.

31.  Dance in the mirror.

32.  Sing in the shower.

33. Travel more.

34.  Get a massage, you deserve it.

35.  Volunteer for a cause you believe in.

BONUS: Live your life as if your (future) kids are taking notes on how to live their lives.

2013 is fast approaching. How do you intend to be the best you?  Share in the comments.

Why I love the Winter Holidays

Tis the season of joy, giving, relaxation, and social gatherings.  A season where we get to reflect on the past year: the good, the bad, major accomplishments, and areas of improvement.  For most, work is a bit slower which allows us more time to get away from the office, travel with loved ones and take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  This is why I love the winter holidays!

Family Traditions

Personally, this is the time of year in which I get to go home and see my family.  Being a 6-hour drive away from my parents and four siblings can make me home-sick from time to time.  When I travel to Los Angeles I know that I can expect to be welcomed home with open arms from my crazy, energetic sisters and brother.  For as long as I can remember, I have had the responsibility of cooking holiday meals for my family.  Growing up with Nigerian parents and relatives, my siblings and I did not look forward to the abundance of Nigerian dishes for the holidays.  Not because the food wasn’t good — in fact it was quite delicious.  We were used to eating traditional Nigerian food almost everyday out of the year and wanted something special–different, if you will — for the holidays.  As early as age 7 I began experimenting in the kitchen and have come to love creating an American style holiday menu for my siblings. Even my parents love to indulge! Foods such as turkey, cornbread stuffing, collard greens, mac & cheese, sweet potato casserole, banana pudding, and sweet potato pie would adorn the holiday table.

Finding ways to make the side dishes as healthy and nutritious as possible without sacrificing taste is always a fun challenge.

Social Aspect

I get a kick out of shopping for holiday cocktail dresses.  I generally make an appearance at my favorite retail store Banana Republic to see the lovely, colorful designs that are hot for the holidays.  There is nothing like putting on a new cocktail dress with a fresh mani-pedi and show-stopping heels in anticipation for a fun holiday gathering.  Seeing friends and colleagues dressed to impress, in good spirits, with good music in the background always makes me cheerful.  It is important to one’ health to unwind and celebrate the successes and challenges experienced during the year.  Which brings me to another reason why I love the winter holidays: self-reflection.

Self-Reflection

It seems only natural to take time to embark on a bit of self-reflection during the holidays.  Self-reflection is the desire and willingness to learn about one’s fundamental nature, purpose, and essence.   As we prepare for the new year, it is important to pinpoint the wins, losses, challenges, sorrows, and joy experienced in the old year.  By doing this, we can learn from it all and make improvements in the new year.  Self-reflection often leads one to setting New Year Resolutions.  Indeed, one good habit leads to another good habit and so on and so forth. I personally like to get a sheet of paper and divide it into two columns: one side, I list the good things that happened during the year.  It can be anything related to career, relationships, family, fitness, friends, etc.  On the other side, I write down the things I would love to see happen in the New Year.  By doing this, it allows me to appreciate all the positives and thankful moments I’ve experienced while also setting goals to achieve even greater success in the year to come.  It is a great way to reflect on the past while continuing to strive for success.

Happy Holidays!!

Why do you love the winter holidays?  Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.