Smile! It Does a Body Good.

Smile at a stranger.

You are walking down the street, your in a bad mood, your coffee from your neighborhood coffee shop tastes awful this morning, or you had to park farther away from work than usual and now you are late for a meeting. Maybe your kids kept you up all night or you had a fight with your in-laws. Then out of no where a stranger smiles at you and in a cheerful voice hollers in your direction, “isn’t it a beautiful day?”  You’re caught so off guard that you can’t respond but then you take a moment to look around as you realize, it is a beautiful day.
Suddenly whatever it was that had you in a funk has now disappeared.  All that fuss this morning seems meaningless and petty right now. You wonder why you can’t be as perky and optimistic as the stranger passing by. Well my friends, you can be. You see first we make our attitude, and then our attitude makes us.  And we can change our attitude with something as simple as taking a deep breath and then adding a smile.
With the holidays quickly approaching it is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and forget that the holidays are about gratitude, giving and new beginnings. We get so focused on finding the perfect present, annoyed when the lines are too long or the stores are too crowded. We get upset that we did order our turkey earlier and forget that a roast or a vegetarian option this year would be just fine.
During this holiday season, when you start to feel frustrated or angry I want you to step back, take a deep breath, and smile.  Remember what this time of year is about and take the time to enjoy it. If you encounter and stranger that looks like they need a pick me up, smile and wish them a happy holidays or happy new year.
Read below to find out some of the many health benefits related to smiling. Let’s make this a habit and carry it on into the next year.
Be well,
According to the School of medicine at the University of Southern California San Diego:
1. Smiling Makes Us Attractive
We are drawn to people who smile. There is an attraction factor. We want to know a smiling person and figure out what is so good. Frowns, scowls and grimaces all push people away — but a smile draws them in (avoid these smile aging habits to keep your smile looking great).
2. Smiling Changes Our Mood
 Next time you are feeling down, try putting on a smile. There’s a good chance you mood will change for the better. Smiling can trick the body into helping you change your mood.
3. Smiling Is Contagious
When someone is smiling they lighten up the room, change the moods of others, and make things happier. A smiling person brings happiness with them. Smile lots and you will draw people to you.
4. Smiling Relieves Stress
Stress can really show up in our faces. Smiling helps to prevent us from looking tired, worn down, and overwhelmed. When you are stressed, take time to put on a smile. The stress should be reduced and you’ll be better able to take action.

5. Smiling Boosts Your Immune System
Smiling helps the immune system to work better. When you smile, immune function improves possibly because you are more relaxed. Prevent the flu and colds by smiling.

6. Smiling Lowers Your Blood Pressure
When you smile, there is a measurable reduction in your blood pressure. Give it a try if you have a blood pressure monitor at home. Sit for a few minutes, take a reading. Then smile for a minute and take another reading while still smiling. Do you notice a difference?

7. Smiling Releases Endorphins, Natural Pain Killers and Serotonin
Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, natural pain killers, and serotonin. Together these three make us feel good. Smiling is a natural drug.

8. Smiling Lifts the Face and Makes You Look Younger
The muscles we use to smile lift the face, making a person appear younger. Don’t go for a face lift, just try smiling your way through the day — you’ll look younger and feel better.

9. Smiling Makes You Seem Successful
Smiling people appear more confident, are more likely to be promoted, and more likely to be approached. Put on a smile at meetings and appointments and people will react to you differently.

10. Smiling Helps You Stay Positive
Try this test: Smile. Now try to think of something negative without losing the smile. It’s hard. When we smile our body is sending the rest of us a message that “Life is Good!” Stay away from depression, stress and worry by smiling.

Wherever you choose to go, go there with all your heart.

A few weekends ago I celebrated my birthday. I had the luxury of celebrating with old friends and making new friends. The weekend was off to a great start and I couldn’t be happier with the direction my life was heading and felt that everything was also coming together for those around me. Friends were getting married, others were getting engaged, one found the place of her dreams then to find that she also won a home makeover, and my college buddies were making a film which I was able to be a part of. For myself and all those around me, life was good.

For the past three months I have been able to focus solely on my business and although I wake up at 4:30am most mornings my spirit is much higher, knowing that I am following my heart and love what I do. Each week I am getting closer and closer to my career goals and I know that the life and the business I have been dreaming about is that much closer to coming to fruition. I am proud of myself for taking a leap of faith and walking away from my 9-5 job.

But no matter how old you get, how much confidence you have, how sure you are of your dreams, there are always people there that will try to bring you down. As my birthday weekend came to an end I was told by some loved ones that I am not where I am supposed to be in life for someone my age. “You should have this together by now. Why don’t you give it up and get a “real job.” Please, can someone tell me what is a “real job?” And who are they to decide where I am supposed to be in my life, what possessions I should own, or what my personal life should look like at this moment in time?

I take a lot of pride in what I do. I motivate and inspire people to push themselves beyond what they perceive possible and educate them while doing so. It is a job, it is hard work, and I love it. To these loved ones, I should be working in a place where the paycheck is consistent, I should clock in and out at designated times, and I should answer to a boss and not be my own boss. I understand that this is how the majority of our country operates and that is perfectly fine. All those positions need to be filled, and the people in those positions work extremely hard to provide a valuable service to our everyday lives, however that is not how I operate.

I need flexibility and the ability to be creative. I thrive off of developing new programs, finding new ways to bring fitness into peoples daily lives and I need to interact with people on a daily basis. That is what makes me tick. That is what helps me get up at 4:30 in the morning instead of hitting the snooze button.

I truly believe that at this very moment I am right where I am supposed to be. I will not let anyone doubt me or deter me from what I have set out to accomplish. Any obstacle that stands in my way is there for a reason. It’s a challenge that I need to overcome to truly appreciate what lies ahead. I believe in my vision and I will not give up. I am determined to make it happen.

Yesterday we lost a legend, an innovator, and someone who changed how the world would function. He did not let any one bring him down or challenge his dreams or visions. He stuck to his guns and made it happen.

‎”Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. – Steve Jobs

The Dash

I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend.

He referred to the dates on his Tombstone – from the beginning – to the end.

He noted that first came the date of his birth and spoke of the following date with tears,

but he said that what mattered most of all was the dash between the years.

For that dash represents all the time that he spent alive on earth –

and now, only those who loved him know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not how much we own, the cars – the house – the cash.

What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard – are there things you’d like to change?

For you never know how much time is left, that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough to consider what’s true and real –

and always try to understand the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger and show appreciation more –

and love the people in our lives, like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile,

remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy is read,

with your life actions to rehash

Would you be proud of the things they say –

about how you spent your dash.

– Linda Ellis

What does your dash represent?

Monday August 9, 2010

I just returned from the IDEA World Fitness Convention and here I am, back in the grind.  As I entered work I was greeted with an angry member whose trainer did not show up for their first workout, complaints that our ab roller is missing, 27 voice-mails and over 250 e-mails. On top of that, I had 3 meetings today and two of them had absolutely nothing to do with my department or me. My high from this weekend has started to fade.

This weekend brought back feelings I haven’t felt in a long time.  For the first time in over two years, I was surrounded by people just like me.  Everyone was enthusiastic and passionate about the fitness industry. In that environment I felt like myself again.  These past two years I have been engulfed in a different world, although I still work in the fitness industry, teaching people about health and fitness is not the main priority in my position. I spend my days following UC guidelines and adapting our program to match the medical center. This is not what I signed up for, and after this weekend I realize that things need to change.

All of the presenters and the people I met were incredible. Everyone truly loves what they do. I was particularly inspired by Todd Durkin’s, “Growing your Business Despite a Challenging Economy”.  Going into it I thought I would find ways to “fix” the issues we have been having at UCSF, but instead I learned the importance of following your dreams, living the life you have always envisioned, and being the best ME that I could be. That session made me feel like I could accomplish anything.

After this weekend I am making a promise to myself, as of July 1, 2011, I will no longer be the Fitness Manager at UCSF and I will be running my own Health and Wellness business.

It’s 11pm on April 15th, 2011… 

I am lying in the emergency room of Sharp Memorial Hospital waiting to be taken to the operating room.  I am suffering from severe bleeding due to complications from a previous surgery, and after the doctors in the ER tried two different procedures to stop the bleeding, they deemed surgery necessary.  Now, by no means do I think I am dying, however lying in the ER in the middle of the night, 500 miles away from home and my doctor, I can’t help but think about what my life has become and where I want it to go. I keep thinking about the poem Todd Durkin read to us yesterday, “The Dash”.

The dash refers to the line that appears between the years of your first year on earth and the last year on earth.  It is not where you begin or end that is important, it is what you do in between that time. I began to think about my life, what I wanted to get out of it, what my purpose here on earth is. Was I living the way I wanted to live? Do I wake up each morning and live life to the fullest? If my life were to end today, would I be happy with my dash?

It has been almost a year since I attended the IDEA conference and made a vow to myself that I was going to change my life. I realized that there is no time like the present because you never know what could happen tomorrow.

I encourage you to take a good look at you life and ask yourself what you would like your dash to represent.  Take time to think about the people you surround yourself with, do they make you a better person, or do they suck the energy out of you?  Are you working towards your life long goals? I also encourage you to seek out people that are successful in your field or that live a life that you admire. Ask them how they got there, what makes them tick, the lessons they learned along the way. You may be surprised by the support you receive from them. They, much like you, looked up to someone as well and they would be happy to return the favor.

As the mentorship weekend wrapped up, Todd looked at all of us and said one thing. “Go out there and make me proud.” That is what I intend to do.  On Tuesday, April 26th I told my boss that I will be stepping down from my management position as of July 1st.  That was just step one. I can’t wait until I see Todd and the rest of the Fitness Quest 10 crew at IDEA this year and I share with them all that I have accomplished since leaving them in April.