5 more ways to HAPPY

I’ve been journaling about my year-end goals. I’m wrapping up two books: one on fitness and one on journaling.

This has been a milestone year, my 50th as of last week, and I am happier than I was when I hit 40.

Last week I started to share the way I rose to this feeling.

I haven’t always felt happy, which probably comes as a huge surprise to the many folks who’ve known me. 

I’ve been in search for answers most of my adult life. Okay, let me just say it outright–I’ve looked for validation most of my life.

That’s not something people openly admit about themselves, but I believe being honest about who and where you are means you’ll also be aware when you find what you seek.

My search led me to live in several cities since I left Iowa 23 years ago. I looked for myself in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, New Jersey, then back to New York.

I’ve performed for Universal Studios, sang in Japan over a summer, become a certified yoga instructor before it was popular, won 2 bodybuilding shows, taught Theatre Arts to children with special needs using the curriculum I created, wrote a book, Lean Happy Healthy You… But it was only recently that I stumbled upon HAPPY.

Falling is a good way make somebody look up.

I’ll be sharing the 50 ways I found HAPPY over the next 10 weeks. 

This is week 2. Visit the first 5  in last week’s post.

Below are 5 more things that have made me happy at 50.

Remember, I’ll be adding 5 each week over the next 10 weeks.

Let each group of 5 sink in. Ponder them. Practice them, if you want.
Maybe you’ll agree, maybe not. Maybe they’ll inspire you to add to my list.

Tell me what you think and add to my list in the comments section.

6. Listen to something inspiring every day.

I Youtube inspiring stuff when I shower in the morning and again as I fall asleep. (Youtube is now a verb). One of my favorite YouTube channels is YouAreCreators created by Justin Perry.

It features short seminars, books on”tape”, and commentary by Justin.

 

7. Feel your sucky feelings fully.

I’m talking about the feelings we’d rather avoid.  Don’t wait, don’t wear the mask, don’t expect your negative feelings to go away by themselves.  Dissing your feelings invites regret and stokes resentment, the two skills complainers have mastered.

I feel my feelings in my journal every morning. I scribble them in anger, frustration, sadness, confusion, and overwhelm until I can write myself some sort of solution. In my journal I ask: What is this awful feeling showing me about my choices, my life, my goal, or my action?

Every emotion is valid. The sucky ones can take us to places we fear, but those places could show answers we’ve searched for all this time.

8. Read so you can practice visualizing.

One of the things I love about reading fiction is I get to escape into somebody else’s life, live in their body, their house, their relationships. As a kid I’d pretend to be different characters through my Barbie dolls, my Cher doll, and my Marie from the Donny and Marie doll set. Yep, my characters were singers most of the time. But I’d also play teacher and mama every day up till sixth grade.

I would shape-shift to become whoever I visualized. When I read fiction, I do the same thing.

The practice of visualizing becomes useful for changing any circumstance you’ve grown out of and want to shed, or used to embody any persona you aspire to become. Practice seeing beyond what’s right in front of you by reading more fiction. Plus, it’ll get you off your phone for an hour.

9. Direct deposit your savings and retirement funds.

It’s absolutely true that money burns a hole in your pocket. If you tend to slip your hand into your jeans to retrieve a $10 bill, but end up tickling a thigh, you might want to try directly depositing your goal-money into accounts.

To me, money is like handling brownies or white cheddar cheese Pirate’s Booty or Ritz crackers. If they’re in my house, I’m gonna eat em. And by eat em, I mean eat till there isn’t anymore left. So, I do not have those items in my house. I leave them at the store until I want one

I’d rather keep my cash in the bank and let online banking distribute my funds. Before you know, your savings and retirement accounts are hefty and you’ve lost weight from not carrying around wads of cash (that keeps disappearing anyway).

 

10. Look lovingly at yourself.

Use a mirror.

I like to smile when I look in a mirror, otherwise I look pretty grim. My thinking face does weird stuff to my mouth and forehead. Ugh.

The mirror is a good place to connect with yourself. I’m aware people don’t like to look at their reflection or can’t do it without thinking horrible thoughts about what they think they see.

Try looking, smiling, and saying what Louise Hay used to say: I love you. I really love you.

Do it right now. I dare you. 

5 more ways to HAPPY next week.

Till then, live above ordinary. I will, too.

Michelle Bernard

50 ways to discover your HAPPY

Michelle Bernard

this is 50

and, boy, do I feel better than ever.

I’m happier now.

Happy came for me toward the end of my 40s. Bam!

I’ve figured out a few things. Big things and little things.

Some of this stuff I’ve always known but needed a bit more evidence before I trusted it.

Some stuff is simply new to my awareness.

Below are the 50 things that have made me happy at 50.

You don’t have to read them all at once. I’m not posting them all at once.

I’ll be adding 5 each week over the next 10 weeks.

Let each group of 5 sink in. Ponder them. Practice them, if you want.
Maybe you’ll agree, maybe not. Maybe they’ll inspire you to add to my list.

Tell me know what you think in the comments below.

1. Tell the truth.

Perhaps you’re thinking, duh, but people lie all the time. They say YES to things that feel like NO WAY.

I used to accept subpar treatment from a friend or a partner, because I didn’t want the relationship to break-up. I used to say YES to doing stuff I couldn’t stand doing.
Today, I surround myself with amazing friends. I admire all of them, which is important to me.
Sometimes, not often, but sometimes, I would say NO to opportunities I wanted by avoiding them because I was scared, thought I wasn’t ready, or believed I wasn’t good enough.

What if telling the truth about ourselves makes us available to receive the life we really want? 

2. Leave food on your plate.

I used to eat until there was nothing left on my plate or in the pot on the stove.

There are so many strategies to help over-eaters: chew 600 times before you swallow, don’t eat over the sink or, in my case, the stove, only eat when you’re hungry. Rubbish.

As a fitness professional who had a real eating-too-much disorder, I couldn’t honestly tell my clients to do something I believed was impossible to maintain (except for the not-eating-over-the-sink one…  I still do that!).

But learning to leave a few uneaten morsels on my plate then saying I’m finished has trained my mind to be comfortable with abundance. You see, I had a scarcity mentality; a belief that if I didn’t finish ALL the food, I’d miss out on something.

I’ve trained my mind to believe there’s plenty. Now, I’m not anxious when I eat.

If we all ate less in general, we’d not only lose weight, we’d help eradicate the food shortage around the world. 

 

 

3. Laughing and smiling often works miracles on your health.

 Yep, there is  research to justify this, but I’m not writing a research paper.  I’m writing from my experience. I’m the lab test, so take my word or try it out yourself.
When I teach an exercise class, I make everyone laugh their heads off. It creates community. It makes exercising seem like an event, not a chore. It takes the sting out of muscle pain. It’s entertaining to me.
Centenarians, the folks who live past 100, site laughter as one of the reasons for their long, healthy lives.

If I go one day without laughing, I must be in the wrong environment, around the wrong people, or doing something that sucks.

It doesn’t happen much anymore. 

4. Tell every human customer service provider who creates a pleasant experience for you that you appreciate their help.

I know it’s their job, but some folks are super awesome at doing it. It’s not an easy-breezy effort for customer service people who’ve had to suffer all the hostile folks before you called or stepped up to the counter.

Tell them they’re awesome when they treat you like you’re special. 

It’ll make you feel good, too.

 

5. Ask questions.

Like a 4 year-old, ask why, ask how.

Find out if what “they” are telling you is true, healthy or valid for you.

Question things you hear from the FDA, pharmaceutical claims, and from people offering advice about things they’ve never experienced themselves.

Trust yourself and trust your body.

Check back next Friday for 5 more ways to discover happy.

Till then, live above ordinary.

Michelle Bernard

@my birthday party

18 decisions that’ll probably sabatoge your health and fitness goals

You are determined to lose 20 pounds.

Congratulations.
I commend you for making the space in your mind and life for this new manifestation of yourself.
Since you’re ready for this courageous undertaking to get into your desired shape, shake-off some old habits.

To elevate your life, make a change in the way you use your energy, manage your time, and live above ordinary by actually pursuing your meaningful goals, you’ll need to uphold certain boundaries and beliefs.

 

There are old behaviors and decisions to leave behind.

Here are 18 behaviors that’ll probably sabatoge your health and fitness goal. Shake them off.
  1. ✄Have conversations about how hard it is to schedule a workout 
  2. ✄Smoke a pack of cigarettes every day
  3. Buy boxed, packaged, and bottled diet foods
  4. ✄Eat what everybody else is eating
  5. ✄Keep cookies and crackers in your cupboard
  6. ✄Workout 7 days a week because you’re trying to lose weight fast
  7. ✄Skip stretching
  8. ✄Skip strength training
  9. ✄Don’t eat all day so you can have space in your stomach for the holiday dinner
  10. Weigh yourself every day
  11. ✄Drink alcohol most days of the week
  12. ✄Buy a snickers when you’re hungry  (substitute Kit Kat, Ruffles, Doritos…)
  13. ✄Eat 1000 calories or less per day (you might be able to pull this off if you weigh less than 90 pounds)
  14. Count calories with no regard for the type of food the calories come from
  15. ✄Drink bottled juice throughout the day
  16. ✄Exercise while exerting absolutely no effort
  17. ✄Check your cell phone more than 2 times during your 30-minute workout (Parents might need to. Everybody else… Tell people you’re busy.  Or don’t. They can wait 30 minutes for you.)
  18. ✄Skip a workout because it’s raining, it’s sunny, it’s windy…

These 18 behaviors are only for people who do not want to go ALL IN.

 

 

If you really want to lose weight and keep it off, you will advance-schedule 4-6 exercise days and times every week, you’ll learn about food as NUTRITION, not calories, and you’ll get your heart and mind connected to the reasons why losing the weight is most important to you.

 

Beginning on June 1, I’ll be giving you an action each day till June 21st to  help you create a new body this summer.

By June 21st, you’ll have 21 habits and behaviors to implement over the months of the season. And if you continue to implement the 21 actions after summer ends, you’ll keep seeing awesome results of improved health and body confidence.

 

But, you don’t need to wait till June 1st for day 1.

Read my book now and start today.

here

or here ☟

 

Feel It Till It’s Real

Feel it till it's real

After eight years of training clients for weight-loss, strength, and muscle/joint rehab, I felt an urge to jump careers and pursue my childhood ambition. I played “school” in my bedroom on a daily basis in fourth grade. I covered my bed with name tags to show where my imaginary students sat. My mom taught second grade so I used her extra photocopies as handouts for my pretend class. I even graded “their” papers.

Following my heart, I quit the upper scale gym in Midtown Manhattan, gave my private clients to my trainer friends, and took a teaching assignment in a special needs school. I was able to get the job placement without any prior experience because I enlisted as a NYC teaching fellow. The two-year fellowship paid for my graduate degree. So, for my first job as a public school teacher I was assigned an at-risk population of middle school students while attending graduate courses at night. Go ahead and say it with me: Oh man!

The stress was immeasurable and visible. A couple years before becoming a full-time teacher, I’d won two bodybuilding shows and changed the life and health of many clients. However, within one year of teaching public school, I was eating pop tarts for breakfast, Slim Fast shakes after school, and boxes of Chinese food on Friday nights.

Exercising daily remained consistent. In fact, I worked out every morning before school started, no matter if I stayed up late to write a paper or scripted a lesson plan or woke and cried at 2 in the morning.

Still, it was as if I knew nothing about food anymore.

This is what stress does to you.

It blasts your mind.

It shatters your memory.

 

I forgot about veggies. I forgot that bread all day makes me permanently swollen. Even though pop tarts sent me to the toilet in 10 minutes, I craved the sugar. I knew I was eating crap, but still, I let my stress steer my choices. No wonder a spot of my neck broke out with eczema by Spring. I’d never experienced issues like that before.

I was drowning in emotion. I needed to remember who I was. I needed to make a deliberate choice about what I wanted to feel besides just STRESSED, OVERWHELMED, and TRIGGERED.

 

I knew what could help me.

I revisited Creative Visualization, a journal/workbook created by Shakti Gawain. I owned a copy a decade before and the journaling and exercises she prescribed helped me re-focus, move from Los Angeles to New York, and become a top trainer at my gym.

I bought Creative Visualization again and did the work. I wrote the vision I desired for my body and my life. I read it over and over. I added to it. Detailed it. Felt it until it was real in me. I imagined my vision while I worked out.

I reached for baby spinach instead of white cheese popcorn. I boiled oatmeal again, ignoring the cinnamon and the strawberry pop tarts, which was hard to do. If you walk down the “cereal” aisle, the pop tarts are at eye level and the slow-cook oatmeal is almost on the floor. My advice: just look down when you go through these parts of the grocery store.

Even though I currently teach clients ways to practice healthy lifestyle habits, the truth is, it really is mega-challenging to do if your environment launches a stress attack on you all day.

The way for me to get back to my fitness and health goal was to find something and someone to radio me back to shore.

I needed a lighthouse.

Journaling in Shakti Gawain’s book changed the way I felt. I reconnected with one of my former workout buddies. I joined a boxing class to punch and jab my stress load into a bag.

Even a former personal trainer can get tossed overboard by emotional stress.

 

Everyone can benefit from a captain who has a clear and focused head. We need a teacher, a trainer, or a friend to support our highest intentions. Otherwise, we might get lost at sea with eczema, belly bloat, and inflammation of the knees.

We all need someone who can help us navigate back or forward toward who we really want to be.

see it inside-Michelle BernardI train clients, teach movement and strength classes, and write for wellness and power again. Our environments can create a tremendous grip that shapes our decisions. Position yourself in an environment that supports the vision you have for yourself. Even if you can only find ONE PERSON who will support you

FIND THEM.

You need a captain.

Write your vision often. Read it often. It’s your lighthouse.

 

 

To know means to record in one’s memory; but to understand means to blend with the thing and to assimilate it oneself.

Egyptian Proverb

J.A.M.

Journal. Art. Movement. is my JAM.

A year before I wrote my first book, I took an online writing course. I certainly had the extra time for writing. My commute from New Jersey into Uptown Manhattan took close to 2 hours. Luckily I was able to schedule all my clients into 3 days instead of 5.

I know it might seem like torture to get up at 4:30am to catch a 5:30 train. You can’t imagine how many raised eyebrows and wrinkled foreheads I witnessed take pity on me.

How long is your commute?

Oh Michelle, you’re so committed.

 

But, I looked forward to the train ride.

Every day I had the choice between sleeping my way into the city or writing. Who gets a free 4 hours a day to read (and finish) books? Who has free time to enroll in a writing course and actually do ALL the assignments?

I chose writing.

That 5-week online writing course in 2014 helped me shape a few articles and poems that I published in online magazines, and it paved the daily journaling practice that I currently greet every morning of every day.

I’m back in New York. No commuting for me anymore. Now I’m walking distance from my clients.

Like it is living in this mad-crazy town, I’m rushing around trying to tackle client business, write another book, and make fitness and yoga videos. Daily journaling for two years in New Jersey gave me so much insight into my real desires, blocks, and solutions, that I had to keep it alive when I moved back here.

So, I said later to sleeping in.

I journal at home now. My journaling begins by 6:30 every morning of every week. Without fail, I walk the pooches at 5:45am, remove their leashes and fill a goblet with cold coffee, add flavored cream, then burrow near the terrace window next to a shelf stuffed with old journals, a lamp, and a view of.. well…construction!

I gaze outside for a few minutes while sipping sweet coffee before beginning writing. There are animals in the trees that haven’t been torn down by the plow. It’s quiet, except for those birds and squirrels. It’s earlier than most people use their voices.

I write.

I never, ever have to search my mind for something to put in my journal. I write like I’m talking to someone; someone who is me but She is listening, letting me get all my feelings through the pen.

I did the journaling thing with Julia Cameron when I lived in Los Angeles. The Artist’s Way was what all of us entertainers did. Mostly because she said to do it. Three pages. Also, with coffee. In the mornings.

But life made changes, habits got interrupted, and I stopped.

Now I embrace the discipline of listening to myself, writing my life, writing my pain, and purging what would fester, because I can clearly feel the benefits.

 

My daily journaling has made me happier. I’ve gotten so clear about what I want and what I will tolerate. I’m awake to what brings me joy and what sinks teeth into my veins to take my energy.

When I journal something inside moves, something gets arrested, something lifts, shakes, becomes unwoven, opens. Sometimes the change will happen in the very moment I’m writing. Sometimes the change is pending, needing me to listen longer, write more, purge more, explore more, wait. And sometimes the journal helps me see that something has already been changed.

 

I’ve created mostly blank book, yet beautifully inspirational journals!

Aren’t they gorgeous?

They are part of my black coffee series of journals for self-exploration. They will help you feel into the celebration of life. That’s what they’ve done for me.

Take a closer look!

 

rise,

Michelle Bernard