Publisher: Harmony Books


From No Excuses to “Get Pumped Up” or My Top 5 Excuses & The Tips I Use to Overcome

March 11, 2015 Book Review 9

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

From No Excuses to “Get Pumped Up” or My Top 5 Excuses & The Tips I Use to OvercomeThe No More Excuses Diet by Maria Kang
Published by Harmony Books on March 10th, 2015
Genres: Non-Fiction, Wellness
Pages: 224
Source: complimentary review copy
AmazonBarnes & Noble

Excuses validate our choices.  They let us off the hook and give us permission to fail.  While psychologically soothing, excuses limit our ability to create opportunities to progress toward personal health.  ~Maria Kang

Somehow I have ended up with a couple of books this month that are all about motivation, habits and the dreaded {by me at least} exercise!  The first one of the month is with the From Left to Write virtual book club.  Not a typical review – more my thought process while reading the book!  Do share your tips in the comments cause I need all the help I can get!

My top 5 exercise excuses of the moment

1.  I don’t have time. . .or like what happened tonight: I’m going to be late to yoga class, and I don’t want to disturb the others.  Then I tell myself I’m being considerate which validates my justification for turning the car around to head home!

2.  I’m too tired. {but why am I tired? is it tired from the day or is it from the multiple sclerosis?  With the first, I should push through; with the second, only legitimate rest helps – which leads back to the question of why am I tired?  It’s an awful loop!}

3.  I’m too sore. {same as above.  Am I sore from the previous day’s walk or is it the multiple sclerosis?}  notice how I snuck in there that it was “from the previous day’s walk” meaning that yes, yes I did get my exercise {hopefully}  it could also be that I’ve told myself the next one ~

4.  There’s always tomorrow. . . .also known as the Scarlett O’Hara syndrome.  A very bad bad syndrome to get caught up in and one that has a habit of drawing me into its’ clutches!

5.  Play the justification game ~ “well, everything I read says it’s 30% exercise and 70% nutrition…I’ll just eat {insert either less or better depending on the moment!}

Now, my top 5 get pumped up resources

1.  Loud music.  Typically the first few songs on the Pink channel of Pandora are enough to get me moving.  Once I turn the music up it’s impossible to not move.

2.  Listen to motivational podcasts.  Michael Hyatt and Chalene Johnson are my current go-to’s for motivation.  In fact, Chalene Johnson has one podcast just for me that gets my behind in gear!  {I’m happy to share it with you though if you’re in need of a motivation boost as well}

3.  Five minute rule.  I can do anything for 5 minutes.  Typically once I start {usually it’s walking} then by the time 5 minutes is over I tell myself I can at least walk 1 mile; hopefully once I reach 1 mile I’ve talked myself into going for that full 30 minutes . .my short-term goal is to get in 30 minutes of exercise daily.  I’m only focusing on the short-term goal at the moment and not that long, far away goal of total health!

Photo Credit, David Niblack,

Photo Credit: David Niblack

4.  Pay attention to my self-talk ~ it usually goes something like “why didn’t you. . .” Once I recognize that I’m in a negative loop I change my self-talk.  This month’s mantra is “I am enough.”  Believe me, I’ve said those three words a hundred million times and we are only on Day 11 for March!

5.  To keep myself motivated, I’m following several fitness experts and fitness junkies on social media ~ I’ve always told my children that who surround yourself with is what will motivate your actions – it’s no different for adults.  Seeing certain fitness folks who are also motivating is incredibly helpful to me.  I’ve also unfollowed some because their feeds were counter-productive.

What is your go-to resource or idea that gets you pumped up to exercise {or tackle any task you’ve been procrastinating?}


This post was inspired by The No More Excuses Diet by Maria Kang who shares her no-excuses philosophy that motivated her to become more fit. Join From Left to Write on March 12th as we discuss The No More Excuses Diet. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.


Kindness Makes All the Difference

October 27, 2014 Book Review 6

Kindness Makes All the DifferenceThe 13th Gift by Joanne Huist Smith
Published by Harmony Books on October 28th, 2014
Genres: Non-Fiction
Pages: 224
Source: complimentary review copy


This post was inspired by The 13th Gift by Joanne Huist Smith, memoir about how  random acts of kindness transformed her family’s bereavement and grief during the holidays. Join From Left to Write on October 28th as we discuss The 13th Gift. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Help comes in all kinds of packages, Jo.  Don’t worry about who delivers it.  Just accept. (p.83)

Once upon a time, many, many moons ago, I opened the front door to . . . an empty house.   I had recently told my husband and step-father to my children that I wanted a divorce, and he left without a scene that very same day.   Lo and behold, a few days later when my kids and I returned home after a long day of me at work and them at school we discovered a practically empty house.  Everything from the silverware to the beds was gone.

When you’re standing in an empty living room with three children {ages 11, 10 & 8} looking at you, waiting to see you how you’ll react, the easiest thing to do is to have a complete emotional breakdown.  Fortunately, I was in a state of shock so going the easy route didn’t happen.  I remember sitting on the floor, holding onto my babes saying over and over again “it’s going to be ok. We are going to be ok.”  I’m not certain if I was trying to convince them or convince myself, but whichever way, we struggled and muddled and got through those first few moments.

In the days afterward we found small ways to make the best of the wide open space.  I brought the cd player home from my office, and we cranked up “The Phantom of the Opera” soundtrack, dancing around the living room while singing the high notes as off-key as possible {If you haven’t seen three little ones & one crazy mama belting out “Angel of Music” then you’re missing out!}; we took turns sliding up and down the laminate floor in our sock feet and spent lots of time wishful thinking about the furniture we would buy if we ever won the lottery {it kind-of helps if you play, which I don’t} 😉

Fast forward to another day of returning home to another shock, though this one so SOOO much better ~ and that was even before we opened the front door.  We found a note taped to the storm door encouraging us to enter the house together for a magical surprise!  Cautiously opening the front door we were greeted by a living room of beautiful furniture, artfully arranged,  a new set of dishes {that I still use to this day}, silverware, glassware ~ beds for everyone!  A true miracle to behold.

My best friend, along with several kind and generous people from our church, donated all that we could possibly need.  To this day, remembering the generosity of my church family leaves me feeling astounded, awed, blessed; so very blessed.  I had been at a loss as to how I could replace an entire house of furniture on a single mom income and a not-for-profit salary, as well.  The generosity and kindness of those individuals, many who gave anonymously, without any expectations in return, is the truest sense of “loving your brother as yourself.”

The 13th Gift takes this mandate and helps a family to heal from the loss of a beloved father and husband.  A legacy of generosity can create memories that reverberate beyond the moment and outshine the brightest of heirloom ornaments. (p. 201)

Have you ever been the recipient of surprising acts of kindness?  

Share with us your remarkable moments of “loving your brother as yourself!”  


Why You Should Put That Smart Phone Down & Get Some Sleep

April 30, 2014 Book Talk 9

Why You Should Put That Smart Phone Down & Get Some SleepThrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder by Arianna Huffington
Published by Crown Publishing Group, Harmony Books on March 25, 2014
Genres: Non-Fiction, Wellness
Pages: 352
Source: complimentary review copy
AmazonBarnes & Noble


This post was inspired byThrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington who encourages everyone to sleep their way to the top. Join From Left to Write on May 1 we discuss Thrive. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

While Thrive is about “sleeping your way to the top” it is also about shutting down, tuning in, and taking care.  I’m thinking every. single. adult. needs a copy of this book.  Huffington stresses the importance of sleep for our overall well-being.  And it’s not just children who need 8 -10 hours of sleep – adults NEED this as well.  She recounts numerous studies that reveal how bad it is to our physical and mental/emotional health when we try to run off only 4 – 6 hours.

According to a study from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, sleep deprivation reduces our emotional intelligence, self-regard, assertiveness, sense of independence, empathy toward others, the quality of our interpersonal relationships, positive thinking and impulse control.  In fact, the only thing the study found that gets better with sleep deprivation is “magical thinking” and reliance on superstition. (p. 6)

I am a huge believer in sleep and the benefits it brings.  Over six years ago when my honey and I met he was one of those who operated on the assumption that the less sleep one gets the more productive one is – ENNNN! WRONG!  I quickly brought him around to the realization that sleep is healing and absolutely necessary to our well-being.

We need to liberate ourselves from the tyranny of our fight-or-flight mechanism. And yet much of our life has actually been structured so that we live in an almost permanent state of fight-or-flight — here comes another dozen emails calling out for a response; must stay up late to finish the project; I’ll just use these four minutes of downtime to return six more calls. . .(p.61)

Another very important fact discussed in Thrive is unplugging and connecting IN REAL LIFE.  A HUGE GINORMOUS pet peeve of mine is cell phones at the dinner table.  My children are very much aware and often warn their friends before we eat because I am so anal about no cell phones, no phone calls, no text messages, no checking email, NO CELL PHONE at the dinner table.

But now I have been given an even greater idea from reading Thrive about what to do with cell phones at the dinner table ~ phone stacking!  “when friends meet for dinner–they put their cell phones in a stack in the middle of the table and the first one who checks his device before the bill comes has to pick up the check.” (p.64)  So using this one!

I was even laughing out loud when I got to the part about the “don’t take a picture of your meal” game!  I’ve known a few people who are notorious for this one!

My takeaways from Thrive:

  • At least one evening of NO devices including computers, iPad, Kindle.  My honey and I had already implemented this one a few weeks ago when we found ourselves in a routine of spending quality time with our devices but not each other.
  • Incorporate meditation and mindfulness into my daily routine.  The benefits are life-altering.
  • Connect with others and not virtually.  We are wired for connection – and not in the virtual sense.  Connecting with my mom by taking her to lunch or spending a few hours together shopping; connecting with each of my children by spending time with them in their environments; and time with friends is so critical to our mental well-being.
  • Play the phone-stacking game!

This is one of those books that while the content was not necessarily new it is a huge reminder to unplug and connect with ourselves and others.  Definitely a book everyone should read and take to heart.

How do you take care of yourself?  Are you getting enough sleep? QUALITY sleep?

Do you have any time that you unplug? unwind?