2019 is here and your wheels are turning. You’re excited, you’ve set some plans and you’re expecting this to be your best year yet.

This feeling and expectation is a great rush to the adrenaline; it puts you in a positive head space and you feel that everything around you is conspiring to work in your favor. Well allow me to add to that in a fail-safe way. These first days of the New Year can determine a lot for the rest of the year but I want to encourage you to consider bites instead of chunks, intentions instead of resolutions and days instead of months. Here’s what I mean…

Intentional Living versus Resolution Living puts you in a position to be liquid; flexible and content while pursuing life and the things that you desire. It does not force you to control the climate or outcome of a goal. You set your desire in motion through prayer,meditation,planning etc…and then like a toy sailboat on the waters you release it. Affirm and confess your desires and leave room for other values that you may not have thought about or planned for. This ensures longevity, peace and not panic and ultimately more growth than you could’ve expected. After all, the blessings are also about the unexpected treasures, right?

For the next 7 days I’m going to share simple keys to intentional living. These are some things that I started doing that change the dynamic of my life, my thinking, my doing and my receiving. It’s going to be simple stuff so don’t worry about taking too many notes; just be intentional (there’s that word again) about applying it.

Remember this; day by day and value by value, habits will become a lifestyle.

I’ll be sharing them here as well as my social media so settle in real good and let’s get started! Every day for 7 days they’ll be uploaded for you!

As you journey through these 7 days with me I would like to recommend my quick-read devotional, “The 21 Day De-stress Detox Guide”. It’s short and easy to apply and will fill you with wisdom on how to cleanse your body, mind and spirit. Click here to grab yours.

Day 1- Sleep & Rest. I Need Them Both.

If you are in the Western World you know the hum drum cadence of the day: sleep, wake, work and repeat. We live on the weekends and we dread Monday. That’s the autonomous attitude of life. You’ll have a minority percentage (so it seems) of people who are “living their best life on their terms”. This percentage is dancing to the beat of their own drum and living in abundance. There is a very simple and overlooked step to living in financial, physical and mental freedom and that is respecting sleep and rest. Intentional/Purposeful People know to practice and honor this. Why? Because without both I can’t think my best thoughts, be my best self and catch the fireflies of life as they zip past my face! Ya’ll (yes I’m southern) I fought tooth and nail to make myself learn this. Number one, going to bed late was hereditary (my grandmother did it until she left this earth and she was almost 90). Secondly, as an entrepreneur you know NO time restraints. You work, plan and execute allllll dayyyyyyy lonnnnnng! It wasn’t until I really tuned in and even meditated on the significance of sleep and rest to my well-being that I was able to shake myself and say “Ok Shan you have to stop. You have to rest your mind. You have to sleep”. For many of you your health and even diagnosis may depend on it. And ultimately because I wanted to heal from PCOS naturally I had better start living my own message to the masses. It has made ALL the difference in my life.

Men and Women, you must both sleep and rest. It will look different for each of you because your life demands and levels are different so I want you to dare to be creative as to how to achieve better rest and sleep this year.

The Effects of Not Getting Both

  • your hormones will be affected
  • your serotonin levels will be affected (if you are prone to anxiety and depression you can’t ignore rest and sleep).
  • your body will respond to a lack of the two in weight gain/extreme loss, muscle loss, bloating, stomach irritability, off centered pH levels and more
  • you are irritable
  • mental fogginess sets in
  • your physical rhythm is off; you move slow and/or feel sluggish

To Rest means to allow your entire being to stop and be still especially in the mind.

To Sleep means to allow the body to go int a safe unconscious state of rest to re-calibrate you and repair you.

How I Changed My Lack of Sleep and Rest

  • I made both a priority in my mind first then in action
  • I HAD to plan for both. Sleep required a time and Rest required a behavior
  • I enjoy a hot shower at the end of the day with my lavender or essential oil of choice in my diffuser while I shower. The aroma is also in my bedroom
  • I start winding down in spurts; 2 hours before bed time I start dimming lights, changing my pace, switching music from upbeat to slow & calm, change my tv shows to something simple (if it’s on) and most of all I set a cut off time for working.
  • My cell phone and lap top are no longer allowed in my bed (plus I’m married now so I need to shift my attention)
  • I talk my mind into a “wind down” with an end-of-the-day affirmation and confirmation
  • I re-load my brain; dump the responsibilities and upload gratitude talk. This shifts the energy of my brain’s focus (I am one who can think on and on and on…)

Now I did this in phases. I started with 2 days a week. I let myself accomplish small tasks first and then moved to the next.

Truth, when there’s an event or a booking coming it is harder for me to turn off so I give myself a little allowance and make sure I hit at least 1/2 of this list.

You ready to try? Where do you need to begin first? Start with Rest.

Rest Examples-

  • quick quiet breaks at work (get still and close your eyes and/or practice a few deep breaths. Set a 5-min alarm or whatever your time allows)
  • quick quiet break in the car, restroom or even a corner
  • no talking, no doing, no anything…(no noise preferably)
  • If it’s hard to be still start with the aid of an app. I suggest Calm and Headspace
  • a nap can be “rest” if you choose for it to be

Checkout my podcast episode on Breathing Techniques for Relaxation

Day Two-
Say No to Morning Electronics

This is a major push back to what has become natural in the course of the day; wake & reach. Most go to sleep with a device or two not too far away from them typically the cell phone. The impulse has turned into automatic behavior. Checkout these stats.

80% of Smartphone Users Check Their Phones Before Brushing Their Teeth

  1. (Almost) everybody’s got one: 94% of all Americans have cell phones, which means that 9 out of 10 people have a cell phone on them, ready to connect and communicate, whether on a smartphone or not.
  2. They’re our best friends: We have them with us for roughly 16 hours a day. If there’s a way to contact someone anytime, anywhere, cell phones are the way to go.
  3. You probably look at it more than you think: On average, we check them 150 times per day. You only thought you didn’t check social media that often!
  4. They watch us while we dream: 68% of us have them next to us while we sleep.
  5. We send over 6 million text messages every day. That is the equivalent of over double the population of Los Angeles, California!

We are on phone overload and have convinced ourselves that it’s natural and/or necessary meanwhile health reports are showing how detrimental continued phone usage (with no breaks/downtime) is affecting brain stimulation, stress, anxiousness and possible health factors like
radio frequency and electromagnetic radiation exposure.

So how will you be able to change these habits? Habits that have become so second nature? Our phones have become our dependents, entertainment, go-tos, time wasters, fillers and everything else. On the flip side many of us do business on them as well but guess what, even business needs to wait in the morning. May I offer a new morning rhythm for you?

How to Change Morning Phone Routines

  • Turn off all notifications so the sounds and lighting up of the phone doesn’t distract your focus or disrupt your sleep. Based on your phone you can even put a time frame to your “Do Not Disturb”
  • Consider sleeping with your phone across the room on another stand or on your dresser (it’s based on how bad you want a change)
  • Keep a book on your nightstand instead, exchange a reactionary habit with a relative habit.

Reclaim Your Morning

PRACTICE releasing FOMO (fear of missing out) by rehearsing to yourself that you’re not missing anything and the real action is where you are in real time right now.

PRACTICE giving your dopamine to something more positive like meditation, prayer, scripture reading, affirmation practices etc…

PRACTICE lying still and doing nothing for a few minutes before your feet hit the floor

PRACTICE getting up and making a slamming healthy breakfast to start your day and fuel your body & brain

PRACTICE rolling out of bed to stretch and breathe, exercise or do a little morning yoga.

Once you have established a healthy new start to your day you will experience a calmer feeling, a need to not rush, the lack of comparison and competition that checking social media can bring and ultimately be more in control of you and your day.

Practice these new habits and get ready to reclaim and seize your day!

See you soon for Day 3!

+stats provided by Mobile Coach LLC.

Day Three- Breakfast is a MUST

There is a lot to be said, expressed or debated when it comes to breakfast. Some people don’t eat breakfast, say they can’t eat in the morning, they fast intermittently and other declarations. So I am writing this particular entry two fold: as a nutrition specialist and then as a woman. There are a few reasons that I’ve concluded that breakfast is a must for me; at the end of this entry hopefully you can draw yours. When we think of the term breakfast we know it to mean “break the fast”. Our bodies are in a unconscious state during sleep; its basically in a fasting state and the body is still operating beautifully doing what it needs to do for us. During this unconscious operation of managing itself the body begins to seek nutritional satisfaction (because it’s not dead, it’s still operating although we’re sleep and can’t manually eat). Given that it is not receiving nutrients during the sleep state it journeys on over to our muscle for food/fuel because that’s where our protein source is (in our muscle). No it doesn’t eat on your fat and wouldn’t that be great. LOL! It goes to show you that even the body recognizes preferred nutrients. So when this happens the body enters into what’s called a catabolic state or catabolism, the breaking down of muscle tissue. The body is feeding on the muscle. When we awake we are still in a catabolic state until we “break the fast”. When you have your first meal of the day you are breaking the fast; having breakfast. Now breakfast is different for everyone. We automatically think “early morning” but folks have different life rhythms. You got the person that works graveyard shift, the mom whose up late at night with a baby, the school teacher who goes to bed at 10pm, the nurse that works a 12-hour schedule and on and on. So whenever you awake and eat your first meal is technically your “breakfast”. When I got into nutrition and learned this is when I made breakfast my priority. The bonuses are that it spikes my metabolism to start “burning” for the day, it gives me brain fuel for clarity, it sustains my need to snack a little longer and when eating the right foods I’m feeling settled internally and prepared for the next task/adventure in my day. Does this make any sense to you?

I upped my anty with breakfast as a necessity when I discovered two summers ago that I had PCOS and insulin resistance. I noticed some weight gain due to this diagnosis also and everything just came unglued so it seems; my cravings, my belly fat, my never-feeling-full and a host of other painful mishaps. I revisited my approach to breakfast in terms of my menu and yes yes yes it was truly helpful in my effort to reclaim my body and health. So breakfast can serve soooo many purposes. I want you to ponder your life, your daily needs, your health status and determine what breakfast can do for you.

How Should I Start?

Breakfast is promoted in so many ways and commercials swarm us with this and that, cereals and snacks etc…

Here is your general rule of thumb:

  • a balanced breakfast should consist of lean proteins, a healthy fat, a complex carb or whole grain and a natural sugar (fruit) is optional.
  • Example: a bowl of oatmeal with scrambled eggs and avocado. An apple is optional.

This formula ensures that all bases are touched: protein for muscle, complex carb or whole grain for energy, healthy fat for nutrient absorption and hormone balance and an optional natural sugar for it’s vitamins and natural energy.

If you have hormone related issues you definitely want to consider breakfast and a more specified regimen to reach your goals. Consider my recipe book The SHE Warrior’s PCOS Food Guide. This can be used for any hormonal disruptions and disorders.

I hope this has made sense for you. Lastly let me say that it’s important to listen to your body. Sometimes a fast is necessary (medically, mentally and to cleanse all the organs). Sometimes you want a nutritional breakfast drink, just watch the sugar content and remember the formula above when considering ingredients. Most of all, once again, listen to your body.

Side note: Always consult your physician when considering new dietary changes. Want a nutrition consultation with yours truly? Click here.

Eat Well my friends!

Day Four- The Need for Physical Activity

Repeat after me: What you don’t use, you lose. What you lose, turns into pain. Pain restricts movement; therefore whispering to you not to move at all. You cease from mobility and activity. Here starts your decline.

I think I can stop right here, point made and message delivered. LOL! Nah, I’m just kidding but the above is true…

People move or not move for many reasons. A few factors that determine physical activity are:

  • culture
  • childhood
  • failures or wins
  • health
  • perception
  • environment
  • social circle
  • occupation

My goal with today’s intention is to encourage and inspire you to understand the critical importance of movement and the blessed benefit of movement. I want you to know that movement is different for everyone so don’t feel that your level should look like anyone else’s. Physical Activity, like nutrition, can benefit your mental clarity, how you maneuver throughout the day and even how much of life you engage in.

Physical Activity has changed for me throughout the years and continues to be a must in my life. Movement for me is freedom and strength. I feel free when I’m able to manipulate my body the way I need to so I can mooove through life. I feel strong when my body is able to withstand the toughness of life. I feel strong when I am able to lift, carry and reach especially if I have no help. I have worked hard to make it a part of ME not a regimen. I stretched my perception of physical activity beyond a definition and a gym. Sometimes life tells me to take it easy and smooth, sometimes it pushes me to go hard to release stress and gain the endorphins I need. Busy life tells me to sacrifice and get up early or make 15-30 mins. happen in my hotel room. Unpredictable devastating life teaches me to breathe and stretch, do some gentle movement or maybe dance like crazy. With PCOS and healing naturally of fibroids physical activity has encouraged me to adopt everything; restorative, cardiovascular and resistance training and to know when I need to do each. Then there is that period when my body tells me to rest. I obey. Then I resume. After all, this is a l i f e style. My encouragement to you is to get to know physical activity in a way that it blesses you, honors your life and enhances who you are. From physique goals to rehabilitation it is a gift.

If you have movement restrictions/joint pain/a diagnosis that hinders full range of movement connect with a professional/personal trainer/chiropractor/physical therapist/movement specialist.

There are people on this beautiful earth that are here to help you.

May you move more and better in 2019!

Day Five- The Need to Read

I like to say that as long as you’re breathing you’re a student of life. I hate to see people so set in their ways or their older age that they feel that life can’t teach them anything else. There is always something to learn in this universe and about yourself. To me its as if you’re doing your life a disservice by not desiring growth because to learn is to G R O W. Do you agree? One way I choose to grow is by reading. Now I will admit I loved to read growing up. Yup, I was that student in elementary who would be stoked about the book fair. You hear me? Oh my God I would bring that announcement home with the book catalogue and would express to my parents the grave necessity of me needing money for books and puzzles. Am I the only one? *hopefully there aren’t any crickets* LOL! As I’ve gotten older my love to read has grown but what I truly love is how it expands my overall knowledge so I can be a generalist, yes a generalist in that I can know a little bit about everything and engage in global conversation with anyone. That is so enriching and you never know what can come from those kinds of conversations. Also I like that it heightens my imagination, creativity and articulation. I’m a self-proclaimed wordologist. I LOVE WORDS. So if all of this is foreign and unattractive to some of you but you know you need to adopt more reading in your life allow me to suggest a few ideas:

  • start with a short paragraph, it doesn’t have to be a full book/article
  • realize that knowledgeable reads are in all kind of publications
  • newsletters
  • news feed articles
  • short stories
  • create a family-read night
  • engage in reading something with your child or your partner
  • enjoy an audio book
  • adopt a reading partner (seriously, ask a friend and read something so the two of you can discuss it. Again keep it simple. This is also intellectually stimulating).

Be as creative as you need to be. Living in a digital age makes it pretty easy but try and commit to the process. One word, one sentence and one paragraph at a time.

Here’s to a new adventure!

Day Six- Making a Plan for My Financial Wellness

You’ve heard it said before, “a goal without a plan is just a wish”. I have to agree. I think there’s a fine line between just hoping and praying for something to occur and hoping, praying and planning for something to occur. Very few things happen on their own and it’s the same with our financial wellness. If we’re honest we can agree that most people weren’t raise to understand money. Financial lessons weren’t taught they were observed. Some people observed struggle, poverty or barely making it. Others may have observed planning, strategies and wealth. As we get older it becomes our responsibility to learn how to better ourselves with finances. We want to honor our history (your parents/guardians did what they knew to do) and we want to honor our present (you are positioning yourself for better) and finally we want to honor our future (you have a legacy to leave. Will it be debt or will it be financial wealth?)

Here is what I love and I often repeat it to others, “it’s not always how much you have it’s what you do with what you have”. Here is a prime example: An immigrant arrives to America with $300 and an entire family to care for. With the right mind set and work ethic they make it work and life gradually gets better. An opposite example is, an Executive makes a 6-figure salary and lives a big life but has poor money management. They find themselves living paycheck to paycheck. YES it’s possible.

While your issue may either be a need to manage money better or increase your income each of these issues require a plan.

My parents taught my brother and I the basics but I had to make a conscious effort to learn more as I got older. I’ll be honest, at first I wasn’t quick to. But I loved money and I loved doing entrepreneurial things outside of working my job so I knew I would eventually have to. I’m not a millennial so I didn’t have their kind of awareness. It finally hit me around 28 or 29. Late! I had to get purposeful about my money! When I started my businesses in the early 2000s it became even more urgent. Since then I’ve tried my best to be as organized and intentional as I can about my personal and business finances. I have read books, articles, surround myself with people who have more than I do and continue to invest in materials that I need. I have a legacy to leave and you do too. No more do we need to see another Go Fund Me page because someone could not finance a medical bill, burial etc…

Remember, it doesn’t have to be a large sum.

Checking acct

Savings acct

Emergency fund

CD

trust fund

retirement

BUT you do have to start somewhere. I have discovered that match programs are great.

Start digging, networking, researching and reading. If you want a true change in your financial affairs start NOW and be consistent. Work on disciplining yourself and saying no to things that are not assets or don’t yield a profit.

Save $1 today and have $10 next week. Just retrain your brain.

Lastly allow me to recommend a friend of mine who is excellent with financial strategies and even has her own planner. Click here

Day Seven – My Must Haves are my Must Haves

Persuaded. Proven. Determined. No negotiation. Special. Beneficial.

These are my words internally and externally when I consider my” Must Haves” in life. After this enlightening read you are going to have the privilege of finding yours.

My “must haves” are non negotiables. They are my centering, my health, my wealth and my abundant life tools. They sustain me from the inside out.

Look at your “must haves” in that way because they cannot be an external materialistic foundation. You want your “must haves” to stick, to stand the test of time and weather your storms. Furthermore you may have to really ponder them and reach back to some jewels that you may have dropped along the way; journeying through life and climbing mountains and such.

I want you to cherish them, value their value and make them l i f e s t y l e which can’t be bought with money, trends and emotional changes.

I’m sharing a few of mine with you in this entry:

  • the word of God – these days I need it in more ways than 5. I enjoy reading various translations because I need the bible to SPEAK into me not just be a religious chore. I find one scripture, phrase or sentence that sparks me and I stick with that ONE until I feel it is officially downloaded in me and a part of me. Then it’s time for the next.
  • Vitamin D – alot of women are deficient in this vitamin, especially women of color. It supports our skin pigmentation but furthermore it supports our hormone and reproductive health. It’s as serious as managing your monthly cycle to strengthening our bone health and mental clarity. As we age we have to consider that.
  • a self-talk a day- I am one of my best gages in why I’m thinking, feeling and behaving the way that I am. So I will do alot of self check-ins. If I want to stay well and whole that means I need to track my emotions and thoughts. Sometimes I have to workshop it and other times I just have to sternly get myself together, but it helps me to keep things in real perspective and not as an illusion because of my feeeelings. Ladies you know we can be in those.
  • alkaline water- I know the importance of preventative care, killing off diseased cells, maintaining a proper pH in my stomach, warding off headaches and fatigue and keeping my overall body aligned. Yes, alkaline water is a big part of that.
  • an outlet of some sort- dancing, journaling, brunching with the girls, prayer, taking an outdoor break, an impromptu trip, finding some comedy…all of these are outlets that I use and must have to keep mental wellness.

Now that I’ve shared my 7 Intentional Things with you I want to encourage to glean from this entry. Find those things that nudge you, challenge you and inspire then. Allow nothing to hinder your growth and stability.

Create a plan to maintain your progress. Create a plan to be disciplined, maybe accountability is needed.

Lastly, go slow and steady. You won’t master everything at once. Life is a series of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years.

Got it? I hope these 7 days have blessed you!