Creating Work Life Balance

4105356_lA lot of people complain that they don’t have time to do what they love to do after work, or that they are constantly checking emails and placing the all the housework on themselves. This eventually causes stress to get everything done in a short time and feeling overworked and burnout. You might even be internalizing the negativity to the point where you are hurting yourself.

We have many roles in our lives. We are workers, maids, chefs, coaches, mothers, fathers, and more. By creating a balance between work and life, we can feel more relaxed and enjoy the moment. This is sometimes easier said than done, but we can and slowly make changes to create more balance to our work and personal life. Try some of the tips below to help create more work life balance.

Embrace the “off” button.

Meaning your computer, your phone, and emails! Technology has a great way to have us stay connected, but when you’re connected all the time, you lose the present of being with friends and family. Set a boundary that work stuff stays a work, or during work hours. Once your work day is done, turn off the technology and focus on your personal life.

Learn to say NO.

We are caring creatures and are willing to help others. Taking on more tasks than we can handle increases our stress level. By learning to say no to extra assignments at work or lead the PTA meeting, again. You can free your time to do other things you had on your list. Saying “No, I have work I need finish first”, or “Thanks for thinking of me but, I want to spend an evening with my  family” is an acceptable response and shouldn’t feel guilty for taking on more.

Prioritize what work needs to be done.

By making a list can help you organize your day. You’ll be able to see what tasks needs to be done. Another way to organize and set priority is making a chart of what is important, not important, urgent and not urgent. Like this:

prioritiespriorities 2








List tasks and see where some of those tasks are place. Are they pressing? Are they time-wasters?
By learning what is important, you can plan your day. Box #2 is where you want to be planning your family dinner, preparing deadlines for reports and etc. 

Caring for yourself.

Here are a few self-care practices you can try:

  • Exercise
  • Spend some time outside
  • Spend time alone.
  • Use your vacation and sick time
  • Read
  • Meditate
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Forgive yourself & others 
  • Pamper yourself! Get a massage, manicure or pedicure

Eat healthy.

Eat a clean, real food diet—which emphasizes fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, cooked whole grains and protein. Reduce processed foods, fast food and excess sugar and alcohol. 

Get enough sleep.

Lack of sleep increases stress. It’s also important to avoid using personal electronic devices, such as tablets, just before bedtime. The blue light emitted by devices decreases your level of melatonin, the hormone associated with sleep.

Make time for fun and relaxation.

Set aside time each day for an activity that you enjoy, such as practicing yoga or reading. Better yet, discover activities you can do with your partner, family or friends—such as hiking, dancing or taking cooking classes.



Weighty Conversations: Don’t Measure Your Self-Worth

By Michelle May, M.D.

Do you allow a number on your bathroom scale to make or break your day? Wouldn’t it be absurd to let the temperature, the date or the Dow-Jones determine how you feel about yourself or how your day will go? They’re all just numbers but for some, weight has the power to change a mood and ruin a morning.

The scale does not measure your self-worth. It simply measures the weight of your tissues (including your bones, muscle and fat) and substances that are just passing through (like water, food and waste). Your weight can fluctuate dramatically depending on time of day, hormones, when you last ate and other factors – none of which have anything to do with your value as a person.

Weight a Minute

When you’re losing weight gradually (clearly the best way), you may not see significant changes in your weight day to day, and perhaps even some weeks. Further, when you exercise you’ll build muscle and lose fat so although the numbers might not change, your body composition is improving. If you’re depending on a needle on a scale to tell you how you’re doing, you may feel discouraged and tempted to give up even though great things are going on inside.

Weighed Down

Have you ever said to yourself…

  • I did so well this week. I deserve a treat!
  • I was so good but I didn’t lose any weight. I might as well eat.
  • I don’t have to weigh in until next week so I’ll splurge now and make up for it later.
  • I was terrible this week and I still lost weight. I guess I don’t need to be as careful.
  • I only lost a half a pound. It wasn’t worth it.

These thoughts are counter-productive to weight management. Further, although it can be motivating, losing weight can also be scary. Maybe a part of you doesn’t believe you deserve it or that you’ll gain it back so you sabotage yourself.

Weigh to Go

Some people weigh because they want to be held accountable. Accountable to a metal rectangle on the floor and a three digit number?

The goal is long term weight management without restrictive dieting – not answering to a judge and jury. Focus on the process not the outcome.

Why Weight?

Your weight is a surrogate measurement of your body fat so it’s helpful for monitoring long term changes. Newer body fat scales are helpful but are only useful over time.

Your weight can also be used to calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI) which is a measure of your weight in relation to your height. (Caution: BMI can be misleading in highly muscled individuals.) Check the easy BMI calculator at BMI can help you and your health professional assess your risk for common conditions associated with excess weight. Even though BMI is widely used these days, it is only one piece of information.

Weight Around

Your waist circumference is another number your doctor might want to measure. A waist circumference over 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women is associated with metabolic syndrome and may increase your risk for certain diseases including diabetes and heart disease.

Take the Weight Off Your Shoulders

  • Be honest about how the numbers affect you. If knowing your weight tends to backfire, put your scale under the sink or out in the garage.
  • Decide how often you need to weigh yourself. Some people prefer to be weighed only when they go to the doctor but for most people once a week or even once a month is a good.
  • You never need to weigh yourself more than once a day; if you do, you’re playing games by measuring meaningless physiological fluctuations.
  • Let go of old benchmarks. You may never again reach your wrestling or wedding day weight but you can live an active lifestyle and make conscious choices that will serve you now.
  • Don’t weigh yourself to confirm what you already know. When you’ve been mindful of your choices, don’t take a chance that the scale will give you an answer you didn’t expect and derail your confidence.
  • Don’t use the scale to punish yourself. When you know you’re off track, focus on the changes you’ll make rather than beating yourself up.

No Weigh

A man I met at a conference recently said, “I don’t need a scale; I have pants.” I smiled at the simplicity and accuracy of his method of monitoring himself. A few ounces won’t make a difference but a few pounds will determine how comfortable he feels. Look for other ways to assess your health and progress too:

  • Resting heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol or fasting blood sugar
  • Minutes of walking, steps on your pedometer or pounds of weight you’re able to lift
  • How do you feel? Tune in to your energy level, mood and stamina

Weigh Your Options

A scale is an external device that doesn’t accurately measure what’s going on inside your body or your head. If you’re been consumed by the numbers, skip the scale for awhile, set new goals – and remember, meaningful change can only take place from the inside out.

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yoyo dieter and the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle. Find additional articles and resources at

Copyright 2010, Michelle May, M.D. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint, email

A Journey to Health and Peace with Food

By Jennifer Oppelt, LMT, C.H.E.K  HLC1

Jennifer Oppelt is a mother, wife, business owner and health educator with a passion for helping people find true health

As a child I was healthy and lean. Not skinny, not overweight, right in the middle. I began to gain weight in my sophomore year of high-school. It is hard to say what started it. I was going through some emotional issues with my parents’ separation and the typical high-school relationship drama. At around same time though, I became interested in animal rights and environmental activism and I decided to become a vegetarian at age 15. By the time I was 16, I was overweight. My diet did not include meat but it did include plenty of pasta, bread, cheese and sweets. I was not a big fan of vegetables, kind of ironic for someone who calls themselves a vegetarian. Sadly, this is pretty typical for young people who decide to follow a vegetarian diet. Without proper guidance, children and young adults tend to eat for fun and comfort and not for their health. I started my first diet at age 16. I joined Nutri-System and began eating pre-packaged meals. I lost about 10 lbs. before I quit. I do remember one positive thing, after eating such bland and processed meals for a few months I craved fresh produce and whole grains. From here on into my mid-twenties I fluctuated between 150-180 lbs. I avoided following any structured diets, I just tried to “be good”, sometimes more diligently than others.

At age 25 I went through a big life change during what I refer to as my “mid-twenties crisis”. I was completely unhappy. I was in an abusive marriage that was getting dangerous. I wanted to have children and I knew that I could never bring a child into the life that I was living. I left my husband, in a short time after left my career as a retail store manager and started over. I had great intentions of being by myself for awhile, living alone, losing weight and becoming a stronger more independent person. It was not very long before I met my current husband and fell madly in love. So much for being alone! He loved me just as I was, which felt really good. In the next few years my confidence soared and I blossomed in many ways but I still wanted to lose some weight.

After the towers were hit on September 11, 2001 I felt an overwhelming need to make another life change. I decided to pursue a career as a Licensed Massage Therapist. I enrolled in school with a good friend of mine. My friend Nancy is a very special person who just exudes vitality. I had some talks with her about how I wanted to lose weight and be healthier and she gave me support, guidance and introduced me to the Zone Diet by Barry Sears. I was still a vegetarian and I followed the Soy Zone plan diligently for the next 10 months while I was in massage school. I was working full-time during the day and going to school every night. I packed all my meals and snacks each morning for the entire day. I gave myself some slack on the weekend. By the time I graduated I weighed about 140 lbs., my all-time low since age 15.

The following year, I got married. Slowly, I started gaining weight again. I had stopped doing the Zone plan. I felt like I just couldn’t eat another veggie burger, hold the bun, again. I thought that if I incorporated more animal protein in my diet that would help. While not a ridiculous idea, it did not help at all because the truth was; I was still eating too much – too many processed carbohydrates, too much cheese, too many sweets and not enough vegetables. Before I knew it, I was back up to 170 lbs.

About a year after getting married, nearing age 30, my biological clock was on overdrive. Finally, we decided to have a baby! I was elated. I had really wanted to get in shape before getting pregnant but I was not about to delay the process. My pregnancy was overall very good. I was healthy, low risk; I had the typical discomforts but nothing major. What I did have was a seemingly never ending appetite. My first trimester was plagued with cravings. I wanted sweet and salty; cereal, fruit, chips, waffles, ice cream…you get the idea. The women in my family all typically gain 50-60 lbs. in pregnancy so I expected as much for myself. I really didn’t care at that point, I was happy to see my belly grow big and round. With 4 weeks left to go I got word from my mid-wife that if I gained more than 50 lbs. that I would have to get a second opinion from an obstetrician before I could have a home birth. It was not looking good at my current rate of weight gain. I really wanted to have a home birth so I made efforts to eat more mindfully. It worked; I was right on the mark the day of delivery weighing in at 220 lbs. Alchemy Nirvana was born on April 20th 2005. The birth went beautifully and I delivered a very healthy baby girl at home with an amazing support team.

About two weeks after delivery I stepped on the scale and I was 200 lbs. With no baby in my belly to blame it on I was hit with the reality that I had a lot of work to do. Luckily with nursing, the weight did come off, slowly but surely. Once I got down to 170 lbs though, the weight loss stopped. While unhappy with my appearance, I had no energy to do anything about it.

I was fed up with not only my weight but my overall attitude. I was tired of being, unhappy. I had a good life; there was nothing to be unhappy about. But still, that nagging feeling arose again that I had to do something about my health. In almost an act of desperation I joined Weight Watchers. With this plan, I could eat whatever I wanted BUT, I had to budget my food choices. If I ate junk, I couldn’t eat very much. If I ate healthy, I could fill up a nice plate and enjoy a good meal. It was a good lesson in portion control and making good choices. At first I was fascinated by some of Weight Watchers and other diet products but soon they lost their appeal because I knew that the artificial sweeteners that most of them contained were just not good for me.  After time, I became weary of tracking every bite with the points system. But without the counting, I’d begin to gain weight again. It was obsessive and exhausting. I knew I had to find a more natural approach. I needed balance, peace and ease. I had to stop counting, for me… so I let my Weight Watchers membership go. I kept adjusting my diet until I was eating more healthful, whole foods. I actually started to enjoy vegetables. Salads, steamed vegetables and vegetable soups have become my saving grace to round out meals that might otherwise seem a little on the lean side.

Along with a new attitude towards food, I started to embrace a more mindful approach to living. I started taking my self-care routine more seriously and eating organically as much as possible. I started doing more yoga, meditation and self-work through exploration of the chakras. As I got healthier, I started to love exercise. I joined a gym and I enjoy having the healthy outlet that serves a time and place for me to get away.  The thing that I had to find is a way of eating and living that not only helped me loose weight, but brought me balance and joy. Overtime, I went from a size 14 to a size 4, loosing about 35 lbs.

This whole process has been a journey and a transformation. It has put me in harmony with my true nature and opened me up to realizing my purpose. Whenever you lose a significant amount of weight, everyone wants to know, “how did you do it?” We all want to know the secret. Through my many conversations on this topic I realized that I have some good information to share. I will tell you that there is no secret to weight loss. You just need to be ready to make permanent change in your life. However, gaining some practical tools to get you started and developing a support system will give you the best opportunity to be successful. I’m not going to tell you that maintenance is easy. I struggle when times get stressful and my schedule becomes hectic. But I pause, remember my goals and get back on track before I slip to far backwards. Having a clear vision keeps me going. I’m doing a lot of research now on emotional eating and for me this is a big topic of interest. We have to define and usually change our relationship to food in order to make permanent change in our bodies. I now see the self-discipline approach to diet as a temporary fix, a band-aid. For lasting success, finding peace with food and our own bodies is critical. It’s still a journey for me but I am happy to be steadily moving in the right direction.

I know now that I can keep up this this way of eating and living for the rest of my life, and that is the only way to be successful. It is my wish that you are able to experience the same sense of pride and accomplishment that I have and that you realize your greatest potential through your commitment to your own health.

Using Relaxation and Visualization for Living Well

By: Denise O’Dunn

Relaxation is the process of releasing physical tension while creating mental calm. It is a restorative and rejuvenating process where all of your internal systems work at their most efficient rate. Relaxation is what is left when you stop “doing”. Spending time daily in relaxation promotes optimal conditions for balanced and healthy living.

Steps in the Process of Relaxation:

  • Find a comfortable area, where ideally you will not be disturbed while relaxing
  • Wear loose clothing that will keep you comfortably warm – Remove wristwatch, eyeglasses or contact lenses
  • Listening to your body, allow for any gentle movement or easy stretch to begin to release physical tension
  • Create a comfortable and fully supported pose either sitting or lying down where your spine can lengthen, using props such as pillows or blankets
  • Close your eyes and soften the muscles of your face by letting go of facial expression
  • Begin to follow the rhythm of your natural breath allowing it to carry your awareness inward
  • Gently move your awareness through your inner and outer body, as if to take a mental inventory, and notice each part of your body relaxed
  • Any time your mind wanders or you become distracted, without further conversation, gently return to your natural breath
  • Come out of relaxation slowly by moving your fingers and toes, then listen to your body as you move and stretch instinctively
  • The amount of time you spend in relaxation is not as important as developing a regular practice at a time or times of the day that you can keep consistent

Creative visualization or mental imagery is a way to consciously use your natural creative imagination to make positive changes in your life and health. Quite simply, it is the process of your mind thinking in pictures creating a clear image of your physical, mental, emotional or spiritual desires. Practiced regularly, this inner work has the power to positively affect your body and create what you want in your life.





Steps for Creative Visualization:

  • Follow the steps for relaxation – if you have a tendency to fall asleep when lying down, find a supported way to sit comfortably with your spine elongated
  • Set your intentions – clearly define what you wish to achieve through mental imagery
  • Create a mental picture of exactly what you want as if it were already happening – keep this positive image in the present tense
  • Don’t try hard to create an image – you may have just a sense of the picture, you may feel like an observer watching a movie or you may feel that you are a full participant experiencing the image – allow the process to be natural
  • Use all of your senses to help create the details of your visualization – picture yourself seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching
  • When you have a sense of completion with your mental image, let it go and know that you have achieved it’s benefits – only a few minutes can stimulate powerful responses
  • Imagery exercises are practiced ideally upon waking and before going to sleep – throughout the day you will be benefit by gently holding positive images
  • Guided imagery is available in audio recordings and books and may be used to assist you with this inner –work

Denise O’Dunn, certified Ayurvedic Practitioner and Yoga Instructor, is the president and founder of Balance & Bliss, Inc., an Ayurvedic Lifestyle Center located in Tampa, FL.