December 31, 2010

10 Tips to 2011---DAY 2: LEARN

 Wow. It’s almost 2011. Today’s the last day of 2010; what are your intentions for a year of possibility and promise? What valuable lessons and experiences are you taking with you as you begin a blank page for the next chapter of your life?

As I mentioned on Day 10 of the 10 Tips to 2011 countdown, 2010 was both a blessed and difficult year for me. I had to come to terms with a lot of painful memories, experiences and realizations. I made some poor decisions and I had to reconcile with the consequences. In many instances, I chose poorly when it came to food, relationships and finances. I reflected on fear-based decisions and their effects in my life.

Having spent a few months realizing and thusly forgiving (myself and others), I am ready to move forward. To do that, I have been investing time and energy into learning several new ways of living and loving for this new year (and the rest of my life).

Many people aspire to make changes in their lives but feel limited by degrees from institutions they do or don’t have, access to finances to acquire those degrees, gatekeepers who block their progress and/or the clarity for the next best step in life.

The best way to heal and make changes for the better is to learn new skills to change the habits, conditioning and thought processes that got you where you are. A quote often attributed to Albert Einstein goes something like this: “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.”

In other words, make small changes to actually see changes in your life. Keep doing what you’re doing to expect more of the same, for better or for worse.

Something to remember is that you don’t need a degree or a certificate to legitimize you, nor do you need to spend a lot of money to learn and grow as an adult. Public libraries, the World Wide Web and your friends, colleagues and peers all serve as wonderful resources for unlimited means of learning and growth.

I desire more maturity, positivity and abundance in my life and I intend to meet those goals by expanding my understanding of:

1)   Buddhism. I continue to study the origins, philosophies and practices of what is a truly healing and centering part of my life.

2)   Non-violent communication. It isn’t perfect and it is the product of the mind of an educated, straight white man, the most privileged identity in our society. I use my experience with anti-racism and anti-oppression to filter and then apply his ideas  and I am seeing profound changes in my life.

3)   Integrative nutrition. The more I practice this with my clients, the more I need to learn and practice it in my own life. The more I embody what I preach, the more I encourage and inspire others to heal themselves from the inside out.

4)   Anger and forgiveness. Poignant revelations for 2010. I aspire to move forward to have less of the former and more of the latter in 2011.

5)   GBLTQ health statistics and projections. In order to effect change in the lives of more members of my beloved community, I want and need more data to support my work. As a marginalized community, that data is difficult to find. I may need to buy a magnifying glass and a bloodhound.

What are 5 things you are currently learning about (or intend to) in order to live a more evolved existence? How are you going to seek out resources in your community to actualize this goal?

December 30, 2010

10 Tips to 2011--DAY 3: MEDITATE/PRAY

Increasingly I am finding that my clients are really resonating with my meditation practice. I was raised Catholic, but ironically, I know more about Buddhism than 12 years of Catholic school actualized.

I do believe, with each passing day, that a spiritual grounding is essential for optimal health. As I nurture this aspect of life with my clients, I see a profound change come over them during our time together.

As we head into the home stretch of 2010, I encourage you to stretch your spirituality muscle a bit. What would 2011 bring to you if you felt more connected to something beyond the tangible and physical world?

What roles do spirituality and meditation and/or prayer play in your life, currently? What do you get from it? What do you stand to gain from expanding it and/or building upon it?

My own spiritual practice transcends to each interaction, relationship and experience. I am humbly grateful to mentors along my path who nurtured my search for truth and meaning because it grounds everything I do, everything I say and puts all the "small stuff" into such a grand perspective. It helps me breathe more deeply. It relieves stress. It allows me to focus at work and it brings more love into my relationships.

Despite being raised Catholic, meditation and Buddhist philosophies have provided me more mental, physical and emotional stability and health so they have been my primary focus for the past 8 years. I worked for a spiritual community/organization for several years and have a deep understanding and respect for each religion (and curiosity about the ones which I have yet to know more intimately). I find many people in my life don't talk about religion or spirituality---and it comes as no surprise. It is safer and "more polite" to not speak of it. Just like politics, right?

But at what cost?

As a health coach, I experience the beauty of being open and honest about my own vital spiritual practice. My clients repeat back phrases and words I use, namely identifying instances where they witness "the Universe" at work in their lives. Let me tell you, there is nothing more rewarding. More than the greens they ate, more than the relationship they negotiated, more than the minutes logged on the treadmill---when my clients share a connection they made to something outside themselves as a result of our work together...I feel truly satisfied. I have helped someone connect to something upon which to rely when life feels unmanageable, unreasonable or really fucking confusing.

As I head into 2011, I resolve to deepen spiritual exploration with each of my clients and challenge my peers to expand this area of their lives.

What changes, if any, will you make to your own spiritual life?

December 29, 2010


Spend the next two hours listening before speaking. Let someone speak and complete their sentence/story/etc. before interrupting.

This is your assignment.


So how did you do?

What was it like to listen and be silent? What went through your head? Did you listen to what people were saying or were you judging and thinking about what you were going to say next the whole time?

Years ago, I learned that there were many different ways to be a listener--some of them better than others. I try not to judge things as good or bad, when I am with my clients we have a rule that we don't label their food choices or behaviors as "being good" or "being bad". There are nutritious and non-nutritious choices, in every aspect of life. Not good and bad ones. Those words evoke shame and blame. When we say something is somewhere on a spectrum of the myriad of choices available, it feels empowering because we know we can chose better for ourselves each time to bring more happiness and abundance into our lives.

Such is the case with listening.

I'm hosting a teleclass on Being a Good Listener in the near future so I won't give away all the goodies right now, but there are definitely ways of listening and being present that enrich our lives and the lives of others--and ways that do not. I am currently studying a technique of communication that I am finding exceedingly powerful, and alot of it entails improving my listening skills. It isn't just about being quiet. It's about being aware of the person speaking as well as your own internal voice. You are bound to have responses to whatever you are hearing--how are you able to balance the need to respond (or react) with your role listener?

How are your current skills as a listener affecting your personal and professional lives?

What would you change, if anything?

If you don't know, keep your ears peeled for my teleclass coming in the new year...


Did you notice I didn't write yesterday? Well, good. That means you are interested in your health. That's good news. Maybe you like what I'm sharing. Maybe you were keeping tabs to make sure I stuck to my word.

Maybe you didn't even notice that I didn't write at all!!

Well, I didn't post yesterday. It's true. I missed a day of posting my 10 Tips to 2011. It's been my goal for some time to share some nuggets of joy and insight with the larger public--it's the rad work I do with my clients. Not everyone has a health coach. But everyone can benefit from more health and happiness in life. And so, here are my 10 Tips for your health.

(take a break and read the others-----come back and read this when you're finished. It's like me trying to watch Glee recently. Who is Finn dating now?!!!)

We have a few more days left before the end of 2010 and the opening of 2011 and you know what? I am really really excited. This day alone has been stellar both personally and professionally. I anticipate many amazing things headed my way in the coming weeks and months.

So my tip for Day 5 is: TAKE A DAY OFF

It's really ok. You might have noticed that the world didn't stop spinning and hell didn't freeze over just because I didn't post an entry to my blog. I guarantee, with a stamp, that the same goes for your life. Were you one of the lucky people who had to go to work on Monday despite the Snowpocalypse? I was. And you know what? It was fun. It was cool to be working on a day that felt like zombies had taken over.

It was sooooo quiet outside...

But I know many people who had the day off and they were completely paralyzed. Staying home was so unfamiliar, it took a couple hours for them to acclimate and adjust to having "free time" that wasn't planned.

I remember being that person--I remember feeling like that. When I took a sick or personal day, it felt like I had lost my wallet or my keys. That "what's about to fall?" feeling was gross.

Glad I got over that!

I'm not suggesting you become a complete irresponsible jerk and call out and screw over the people depending on you (bosses, coworkers, customers, clients, etc.), but really--take a break once in a while. Don't do the thing you do everyday. Use personal time or sick time from work if you've earned it. Take a break and party with new friends instead of sitting at your desk and studying for endless hours/days. Find the balance of work and play and rest. You can't find it if you don't exercise that muscle--so try it!

The simple act of doing something outside your routine and taking time for yourself in the process will do wonders to reveal the ways you're limiting yourself. What lines have you drawn around your time and your health as a result of the choices you make? Shake it up by allowing yourself a day, an hour, a weekend to step away from pressure, stress and expectations.

What happens? What comes up? What doesn't happen that you feared might? What did you gain access to as a result?

Go ahead and try it. 2011 is your year. Go out and play.

Don't eat the yellow snow.

December 27, 2010

10 Tips to 2011: DAY 6--FIBER

This isn't for your grandma. It's for you.

Today's tip to 2011 is about an essential part of the human diet, but one that is in short supply in the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.)

Are you a S.A.D. person?

Here's how you know:

  • you shop at a typical "supermarket" and your cart is filled with anything and/or everything canned, frozen or boxed from the center aisles
  • you rarely shop the perimeter of the store, and whole fruits and veggies don't make their way into your cart in large amounts
  • your plate is regularly filled with animal meat/fat
  • you eat alot of highly processed carbs (bagels, pasta, cereal, bread, pizza)
  • your food contains alot of unhealthy fats (saturated, hydrogenated)

Is this you? Don't know? Take 5 minutes away from this post, open your cabinets and do a quick nutritional info check of 5+ things on the shelves. Scan the ingredients list found under the Nutritional Information box on the panel of the boxes, jars, cans, etc in your cabinets. Go ahead. I'll wait.

Basically, if it's in a box, in a can or a jar--it's processed. If it doesn't die, wilt or rot in a few days, it's not a whole food. This is ok in moderation. But what percentage of your daily, weekly, monthly and YEARLY diet is like this? 

read FOOD RULES by Michael Pollan to learn more...   

The Standard American diet is linked to the staggering rates of high cholesterol, obesity, heart disease, diabetes and any other number of health-related issues. Think you're just unlucky enough to be sick all the time? Have an aunt or uncle, or spouse who just can't catch a break and is in and out of doctors' offices all the time? What is their diet telling you?

I'm focusing on fiber today because it is one of the biggest black holes in the average American's diet. People snicker and laugh at Metamucil commercials, but those old folks know their shit. Literally.

They know how important it is to have a bowel movement each day, and how crappy you feel (I'm pulling out every poop pun possible) if it doesn't happen. Have you ever stopped to notice yourself? You should be eliminating every day. If you're not, you are not eating enough fiber. 

There are two kinds of fiber that you want to know more about. Quite simply, from the Mayo clinic staff:

Fiber is commonly classified into two categories: those that don't dissolve in water (insoluble fiber) and those that do (soluble fiber).
  • Insoluble fiber. This type of fiber promotes the movement of material through your digestive system and increases stool bulk, so it can be of benefit to those who struggle with constipation or irregular stools. Whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts and many vegetables are good sources of insoluble fiber.
  • Soluble fiber. This type of fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. It can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Soluble fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium.

Continue reading more about the benefits of fiber from that article by clicking here.

Read up on fiber, do an inventory of your shelves and cabinets, and rethink the choices you're making regarding the nutritional content and delivery of food into and through your system. Are you spending your money on whole foods with plenty of fiber or processed versions of less nutritional products?

Make a few changes and take notes about how your digestion, elimination and moods change in the next two weeks.

Your colon will thank me.

December 26, 2010

10 Tips to 2011--EXERCISE



After weeks of hearing peeps down in NYC and NJ talking about the pretty white stuff, we finally get some ourselves. Sheesh! And a White Christmas it shall be after all. Sweet.

Ok, great. I'm snowed in. So what's the tip for today, you ask?

Well, the rad snowfall is a good opportunity to talk about something we all need to do and should--but I, for one, struggle to find time to make it happen. Exercise. Yes, today's Tip to 2011 is EXERCISE.


Here's how I see it: we all need to do it. Some of us love it. Some of us hate it. Some of us hardly have the time to make it happen. But you can't escape the fact that exercise is an essential part of a healthy, balanced life. We need the muscle tone to make our bodies move correctly, look good and fit and to prevent any number of injuries and/or other related issues. We need the cardio health and the bone density/strength. We need the endorphins to keep our mood up and our spirits afloat, especially for those of you joining me in the Great Dark Northeast.

So what is my recommendation to make exercise a part of your life?

Just do it.

Just get out and do something. I don't care what it is. Yoga. Pilates. Running. Dance classes. Snowball fights! Just get up and move your body, especially if you are susceptible to depression or anxiety, if you gain weight easily or if you're noticing more aches and pains of late. A little exercise goes a long way to remedy some of those symptoms. Go for a balance of cardio, stretching and strength training. There is so much technology available, you can do this in a 10x10 space. Make it simple, make it consistent, make the time to do it.

Check in with a personal trainer or other exercise specialist to learn the latest recommended times, heartrates, peak levels, etc. It's a new science, always changing. I'm not certified in that area, but I do know people who are. If you don't have anyone who can help you, contact me. I'll direct you to someone who can. Once you know what you're aiming for, try to make it happen the best you can each day because the goal of moving your bod is to keep it healthy and strong. If you're in it for another reason, check in with that reason. How is it working for you? If you're dreading going to the gym or the yoga studio, you're probably not doing the right exercise for your needs. It should be fun and intentional--as with anything in life. If it's neither of those things, stop doing it.

I had one client who hated eating broccoli. I said, "fine. Don't eat it. But tell me what you're eating instead that is just as healthy."

That's my philosophy and it's what my clients learn to love about their new way of living life. Don't do what you hate, do more of what you love until it becomes a new lifestyle habit that you can't stop raving about.

It's snowing. We wanted pizza. Instead of having the poor delivery person come out in this mess, we walked the .5 mile to go get it ourselves. We walked back in the blustery headwind and laughed when we almost fell over in the drifts. Simple, practical, intentional, fun.

Now get out there and throw a few snowballs, will you?!!

December 25, 2010

10 Tips to 2011--SLEEP


Christmas dinner is over and it was a veritable feast. It was the first time I've ever had goose. And sweet potatoes mashed with roasted bananas and covered with a nut/cinnamon crumb topping. The asparagus with Hollandaise was lovely.

And as I sat there and placed my napkin beside my plate I felt a warm feeling of gratitude throughout my body. This Christmas I am grateful for many things, but one of them I count above all others.

I am really looking forward to bedtime tonight. I have enjoyed tremendously healing, deep sleep almost every night for many consecutive months in a row---and after having suffered through acute insomnia a couple of years ago (and again last winter) I am really enjoying the many healing benefits of good, hearty sleep.

Some simple research on sleep reveals startling and sometimes dismal statistics. If you've landed on this page, I trust you to Google whatever information you need to convince you that sleep, like water, isn't optional if you want good health and more happiness in your life. The biological effects of good sleep are many. I can testify to the improvement in my own quality of life since I made a few simple but very important changes to my sleep habits.

I enjoy these changes from last year:

1) less feelings of depression and anxiety
2) better sleep quality; I sleep like a rock and wake up refreshed
3) awakening without an alarm clock
4) more energy and stamina to make it through very long days

A couple of years ago, I paid no attention to the correlation between my bedtime, my sleep and my life. When I lived on a very busy street, I slept with ear plugs in each ear to drown out the noise. With increased mindfulness and intentionality during my training as a health coach, I eventually had to move because the noise was just too much for me. My next apartment will be far from the nearest busy street. I sleep very lightly and the quieter my environment, the better. I was also grappling with an unhealthy relationship and a job that wasn't a right fit. It became increasingly difficult to sort through these complex situations with a sleep deprivation cloud hovering over everything. Where did one thing begin and another end?

That wasn't working. Now things are very different.

I've worked hard to develop a habit of getting into bed and settled down at the same time each night. When I don't do this, my sleep quality suffers. When I go to bed stressed from my day, my sleep suffers. When I try to extend my workday beyond my personal limits, my sleep suffers. As the winter sets in and decreased daylight begins to affect my hormones and circadian rhythms, my sleep suffers.

Besides a consistent bedtime, several other key changes I've made (none of which involved spending even $1) have resulted in many nights of deep restful sleep and now:

My mood is better.
I haven't been sick in over 4 months.
My weight is stabilized.
My skin is clearer.
My memory retention has increased and my response time is faster.

I am really looking forward to bedtime tonight. It will set me up for a good productive day tomorrow. It will keep me on a schedule to maintain balance emotionally, mentally and physically.

And after a long day of eating warming, hearty foods---it is exactly what my body needs. What better present is there?

December 24, 2010

10 Tips to 2011-- Breathe.

It's late evening on Christmas eve, but I'm keeping to my promise.

1 Tip each day until 2011.


Today's tip is quite perfect because this is literally the first chance I've had all day to relax.

It's late. I'm tired from a long day, a long week and a loooooong year.

I work retail and run my own business. I have wonderfully rich and challenging relationships. I am a Gemini and I am blessed with an active imagination and I am in touch with my emotions.

All of these combined make for many wonderful opportunities to breathe deeply in order to relax, slow down and/or get perspective. Oh and it's the holiday season. And winter is upon us. And it's cold...

Not all breathing is the same, and from what I have learned--it's important to do it right. And you'll know when you're not. A client recently asked me during a meditation session: "what is this actually doing for me?"

While involuntary most of the time, we can (and should) make breathing an intentional act as often as possible, particularly when we feel stressed, tired, challenged or as a way to practice when we aren't feeling any of those things. Physiologically, breathing correctly brings much-needed oxygen into our lungs, blood and brain. Next time you feel stressed and have a headache, try to stop and notice your breath. Have you taken in enough oxygen in the past 2 minutes? 15 minutes? 30 minutes? Hmm...

How about interpersonal experiences? How many times have you taken a deep breath before responding to "that person" who always has a way of triggering you? A work associate? A parent? A sibling?

This is what I do with my clients. See how it works for you:

Belly Breathing 101
  • lie flat on your back or sit up really tall in a chair
  • place your hand on your lower belly
  • take a deep breath in and instead of raising your shoulders when you pull air into your lungs, instead push out your gut so your hand moves an inch or more. I know. It feels weird. Do it anyway.
  • as you exhale, pull your belly back in toward your spine.
  • REPEAT the inhale.
  • REPEAT the exhale.
  • REPEAT the inhale.
  • REPEAT the exhale.
  • Teach this to someone else and practice it as often as possible.

Breathing correctly and intentionally can positively impact your mental and physical health in many ways. Notice how you are or aren't breathing from minute to minute, day to day. Make small changes when and where you can. 

See what happens.

Good night and Merry Christmas.  

December 23, 2010

10 Tips to 2011!!

Ok friends!!!

It's about that time.

We have 10 days until 2010 is officially behind us and, I don't know about you, but I am REALLY jazzed about it. 2010 was challenging and rewarding for me in many ways--and I am really excited to implement all the valuable lessons, skills and brilliant insights I gained from the past 12 months.

In celebration of "waving good-bye to the old" and "Welcoming the New", I am posting 10 Tips to 2011 each day until January 1st, 2011.

Each day, I'll share one way you can improve your life for the better. If you strive to coordinate each tip into your daily life--you will see improvements in:
  • quality of sleep
  • energy levels
  • interpersonal relations
  • general outlook and attitude
These are just a few of the benefits you should experience as a result of living a life of more intention and balance. These next 10 days are a snippet (love this word) of what my clients experience in our work together. I am so glad to welcome 2011, I am now sharing a slice of what makes my life so good with you.


from the U.S. Geological Survey:

Water is of major importance to all living things; in some organisms, up to 90% of their body weight comes from water. Up to 60% of the human body is water, the brain is composed of 70% water, and the lungs are nearly 90% water. Lean muscle tissue contains about 75% water by weight, as is the brain; body fat contains 10% water and bone has 22% water. About 83% of our blood is water, which helps digest our food, transport waste, and control body temperature. Each day humans must replace 2.4 litres of water, some through drinking and the rest taken by the body from the foods eaten.

From what I can find, 2.4 litres is about the same as 2.5 quarts.

Are you drinking 2.5 quarts of water each day? That's an 8-ounce glass of water, 10 times.

Water is absolutely essential but many people seem to think it's optional. I run into so many people who casually comment on their water intake like it's a game they are playing---you know how people do that with plants? They will let the leaves droop and get dried up and then water it and watch it become green and spring back to life?

No?  Only me?


Seems people are doing this to themselves and don't really understand the many ways it is negatively affecting their health. On a basic level, we need water to hydrate our hard-working brains to think clearly and execute simple and complex motor functions (think school, work, relationships, etc.)

Water is physiologically necessary to transport minerals, vitamins and nutrients to our organs and through our intestines. This isn't something we can opt-out of without experiencing some painful and uncomfortable results.

Want to look younger? More awake and healthy? Drink water. It hydrates your skin from the inside out in a way no over-priced face cream can.

Want to feel less aches and pains? Drink water. It lubricates your joints, tissues and helps pass toxins on through.

Want to have a better outlook on life? Less headaches? More energy? Drink water.

This holiday season, do yourself a favor. Drink about 16 ounces before leaving the house for any holiday party or gathering and notice how it affects your experience. Note how you feel and send me a message and I'll send you a free bottle of HINT water just for taking on my challenge.

More H2O for 2011!!

December 15, 2010

Three Parties + Two Days = Hearty Primary Food

So this past weekend, I headed out to not 1, not 2---BUT THREE holiday parties.

In 2 days.

Well, 24 hours to be exact. Right? Check my math.

The first one kicked off at 8 pm on Saturday. The second was noon the next day and the THIRD and final was 6 pm that night.


Crazy, right? "Dillan, (you're saying) how is a health coach modeling self-care and balance with that sort of schedule?!" Well, that was nothing compared to my week. But that's ok. Post for another day.

This weekend worked so well because we paced ourselves, ate well, knew our limits and took good care to practice balance.

Here are three things we (my partner and I) did to make it through those 24 hours:

1) EAT BEFORE YOU GO. I can't stress this enough. I sat down and ate veggies by the mouthful before heading out because I knew these hosts of ours had delicious, wonderful rich food prepared and I wanted to make sure I had my fiber and vitamins in to wash down the fat, salt and sugar. You with me?

2) GO WHERE YOU ARE LOVED. I can't tell you enough good things about our friends. They are fun, FUNNY and very very nice to us. And they invite people who are nice too. I don't think my stamina would have held out had I dealt with oppressive people who make racist jokes, comment on our identities and give my woman the once-over before glaring at me. Trust me, it's happened. This year, we chose to go where the love was. Go us.

3) BRING POSITIVITY WITH YOU. We learned two new fun games this weekend. One was super special because we brought positivity, love and the spirit of abundance with us. What was the result? My partner won $27!! Seriously. She turned to me and said, "one of us is going to win". And she was right! Wherever you go, bring the idea of good intentions, wealth and abundance for you and for everyone. Stop with the cattiness, judgments and complaining. I see the benefits of being positive to my mental, spiritual and financial health. Money isn't everything. In this instance it was a reminder of how we can bring good or bad into our lives with an intention.

Think about it.

Here's a pic from one party where we played a game called...actually I don't know the name of it. Did it have a name? Who knows. It was fun.

GAME ONE: Left, Right, Center

Three die with black dots and the letters L, R and C.
Each player has 3 single dollar bills.
You roll those dice and depending on what rolls up, you divvy up your dolla dolla bills.
Last person with $1 wins the POT!

GAME TWO: the "AND" game

Each person brings a gift valued at $5 or so.
Each time the word AND is spoken, each player passes the gift on his/her lap to the LEFT.
The gift you're holding at the end is YOURS!

Happy Holiday SEASON!

COMING UP: 10 Tips to 2011

December 6, 2010

The Diffuse 5 Interview

Diffuse 5 is awesome. What a fun interview!

Click here to go CHECK IT OUT!

Check out all the great work they're doing to spread info and build community (when you're finished reading my interview).


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