I Have HUGE News!

I’ve been hiding away, I know. But I’ve been working on something I’ve been very excited to tell you about:

I’m launching a new site — a business, to be exact! It’s called The Monarch Company. I will still be blogging, of course, although, I’m a little sad to say, no longer here at Swell Easy Living. However, I am absolutely giddy about the new venture, and I invite you to come along for the ride! The new site is under construction, but feel free to poke around. I will let you know when the site is closer to complete.

Over the past several years, I’ve known that I wanted to help people, but I wasn’t sure how or what I had to offer. After reading copious amounts of books in the fields of neuroscience, psychology and self-help and doing some training, I made some realizations:

1. I was living the dream, checking off boxes as I went: college degree, high-paying media job, marriage, kids…what was next, retirement and death? I knew there was “something else” out there for me…I wasn’t in tune with my own inner-most desires, what would actually make me feel happy and satisfied in life.

2. After a lot of research and work, I learned how to shed a ton of limiting beliefs, how to squish my inner critic,and how discover and pursue my real dreams and a lifestyle that fires me up.

3. There are tons of people who were living the same way, never finding what the something else was. Now it’s my mission and duty to help others learn some of the tools that help me every day. The new business is centered around classes and events, both online and off. And of course, there will also be old-fashioned (free) articles.

I hope that you’d come check out the new site to sign up for the newsletter (right-hand side) so you can stay updated. Also, please follow me on my new Facebook page, and via my new Twitter handle.

Wishing you peace, love and fulfillment,

Katie Morton

How Discovering Your Inner Lizard Can Make You Happier and More Productive

My poor baby!Meet my inner lizard. Her name is Shelby. She looks a little depressed because she’s worried that nobody likes her. Shelby voices these fears when I merely consider meeting up with very good friends. So you can imagine what happens when I sit down to blog and people who don’t know me are going to judge me based on a few paragraphs of prose. Shelby goes a little nuts, to put it mildly. I tell her, “Aw, there, there, Shelby. It’s okay. Some people like you, and some people don’t. But it’s nothing to worry about. You just go out there and be YOU and good things will happen. Nothing good comes from hiding.”

The amazing thing is that it’s working. I’m getting more joy from my work and I feel less stress. This makes me more productive and more likely to promote my pieces when I don’t spend energy caring that some people might not like me. Thanks to Shelby, I’m coming out of my shell and it feels great.

Inner Lizard? What Are You TALKING About, You FOOL!  Read more at Parentables.com…

Achieve Your Goals With Two Brilliant (and Slightly Insane) Tricks to Boost Self Control

Call me paranoid, but I suspect the comfy couch, TV and high-speed internet access in our living rooms are deliberate safeguards of the status quo. Why worry about changing anything when you can sink into the cushions and ignore your true desires?

The downside is that when you think a goal is worth pursuing or a bad habit is worth changing, then you feel guilty and wistful when you ignore it. You find yourself wondering, “What if I could beat myself into submission long enough to achieve this? How would my life be better, and what am I missing?”

Bottom line: It’s frustrating to lust after a goal when the willpower to persevere doesn’t materialize.

Let’s stop wishing and get down to business. I use my own weight loss efforts as the main example in this article, but you can have any goal whatsoever in mind, and the rules still apply.

Introducing the Motivating Tricks and Tools

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the steely willpower of a robot. If you’re reading this, then you’re not a robot either. To change a habit or achieve a goal, it requires the self discipline and motivation to make tough decisions consistently over time. Tricks and tools keep me motivated when forever stretches ahead of me and I just want to sink back into that couch.

To stick to your goal, all you have to do is 1) focus on “four day wins” and 2) track your long-term progress.

I’ve read about both of these concepts before, and separately, I couldn’t get them to work for me. Combined simultaneously, operating together, they do. It worked for me this week, and as a result, I’ve lost four pounds.

Let me be clear – for me to stick to a healthy diet for a full week is a miracle. Once I can get over that hump, I feel the benefits and I don’t want to go back to eating and feeling like garbage. Don’t discount the value of a full week on your plan towards your goal, whatever it may be. I you do slip up (and you will) you’ll have a weeklong model of success you can turn to and make repeatable.

My Torture This Week

I was only a smidge into my diet this past week, but it felt like I had been dieting fooooorrrreeeeever. All of those minute-by-minute decisions were making me crazy and wearing me down. From my cup of coffee in the morning (you can’t have the vanilla creamer, there’s sugar in that) to my lunch (no, you can’t have a tortilla the size of your torso) to snack landmines and dinner booby traps, I felt like I’d been saying “no” to myself constantly. It was exhausting.

I won’t lie. I was eyeballing the Ben & Jerry’s. I didn’t touch it, but I certainly considered it. I thought to myself, “This is hopeless. I’ll never lose the weight. I’ve been dieting for a million years with no results! I might as well give up. I have no self control anyway.”  How many times do we choose that as a self-fulfilling prophecy?

I was ready to give up, but tracking my progress combined with four day wins saved my heinie.

Step One: Decide What to Track

In Tim Ferris’ book The Four Hour Body, he gets pretty excited about how tracking weight loss results over time works wonders for a lot of people. So I figured, what the heck. I have OCD. This is right up my alley. I am going to track myself out the wazoo with several tracking methods.

Tim’s excitement got me to download this Excel spreadsheet that a man used to track his own weight loss that I customized to use for myself, which I keep open on my computer. I also track inches lost and my body fat percentage.

Of course, depending on your goal, you can track whatever you want. It could be how many days in a row you stuck to a habit, or a weekly or monthly representation depending on what it is you want to achieve and how often you need to take steps to get there.

Step Two: Decide How to Track it, and Make it Fun

I followed Tim’s advice and took my measurements. I made a graph so that I can measure myself each week and ooh and aah over a graphical representation of the inches melting away. I printed out the chart and taped it to my bathroom mirror.

Then I made another chart to track my weight and body fat percentage and taped that up next to my inches chart. I pulled out some pretty pink and green markers so that each day I can fill in the square that represents my current weight and body fat percentage.

Choose any physical representation of the steps you’ll take to reach your goal, but make it something fun that you’ll look forward to playing with. Once I made a paper chain out of construction paper – the kind that kids use to count down the days until a special event. I wrote one step on each part of the chain and got a thrill out of removing each link when I completed a step. When my goal was completed, the chain was gone. It was an amusing way to watch my progress.

I’ve heard of people using charm bracelets and adding a charm for each milestone. You can take two vases and move poker chips, coins or wads of colorful tissue paper from one to the other to mark achieved objectives. Try more than one method to see what’s more entertaining.

Step Three: Decide How and Where to Display it

This part is key: Display your tracking method so that you will see it and be reminded of your goal throughout the day. Exhibiting your tracking in a visible location will not only make other people afraid of your serial killer behavior, it will help you stay on track for longer, and help you get back on track after slip-ups.  Being able to see my progress at a glance keeps me feeling in charge, even after I make a mistake. A mistake becomes a mere blip on the big picture, rather than a reason to trash the whole project.

How Did all this Freaky-Deaky Tracking Come in Handy?

When I was going to lose my mind this week and attack the ice cream like a comet was heading for Earth, I was able to pull back for a moment when I caught sight of my crazy charts in the bathroom. I noticed two things upon witnessing my madness. First of all, yes, my weight was headed in a downward trajectory … and second, I had only been dieting for two days. TWO DAYS!? Why did I think it was an eternity? Why was I being such a wimp?

When I saw that I’d hardly put myself through the ringer with a mere two days of restraint, and that I was actually making progress, my mindset changed. I thought, “I can do this. I just have to get to four days, and it will get easier.”

Why Four Days? What the Heck Is a Four Day Win?

In Martha Beck’s book The Four Day Win: End Your Diet War and Achieve Thinner Peace, she writes that people who have lost a ton of weight and kept it off said the hardest part for them lasted about four days. Beck says four days is about the length of time it takes for the body to adjust to new habits that affect circadian rhythms (such as sleeping and eating. Logically, this four-day theory could extend to caffeine intake, sweets and exercise.)

Beck urges that four days of victory can break a barrier for any type of goal whatsoever, not just dieting. After four days, changes stop feeling torturous. If you can stick with a habit that long, it will begin to feel natural and the momentum will pull you forward, if you let it.

If you’re white knuckling it past four days or you fail completely, then you might need to take a step back and commit to a smaller change for your first four day win. If you continue to flounder, then keep committing to smaller goals until you achieve a four day win. Then proceed with a slightly larger goal for the next win, and so on.

The Four Day Win and the Lure of Short-Term Focus

The four day win strategy by itself in the absence of long-term tracking didn’t work for me in past. The smallness of four days didn’t thrill me. I loooooove to focus on the big picture, the finish line, the major triumph. Focusing on the big picture is fun because that’s where the juiciest payoff lies. The smaller butt, the pile of money, the fancy ladies or whatever the heck your goal is.

However, while we’re focused on the end zone, we’re not present in the moment-to-moment to decide how to tackle the very next obstacle that’s right in front of us. When we’re staring so far ahead into the future, it’s easy to ignore the impact of the small decisions that are right in front of us.

It’s those small decisions, strung together moment to moment and day after day, that actually make a difference and pave the road to our success or failure. A four day win helps bring the short-term into focus so that we can take pleasure in the smaller accomplishments.

Using a four day win, I resisted the Ben & Jerry’s, which confirms once and for all that I actually do possess self control after all. Success begets success. If I resisted the ice cream, that means I can also resist the chocolate. If I can beat that craving, then I sure as heck can pass on the mashed potatoes at dinner.  And so on and so forth. I’m not even thinking about the size of my butt in a month. I’m thinking about the unfortunate size of my butt right now when I’m good at the very next meal.

Combine Long-Term Tracking With Four Day Wins for Max Effect

Even though I appreciate the benefits of focusing on the short-term, still, there’s a delicious allure for me to daydream about my final goal of weighing less than 120 pounds. The energy I have, the way my clothes fit, how much better I feel about myself…there’s no doubt that my final goal holds a certain sway over me. It’s why I decided to diet in the first place.

However, I don’t want to start thinking about how far away my goal is or how much work I have to do to get there. That’s not productive. Besides, I want my diet and exercise routine to be sustainable forever. This isn’t a crash diet or some crazy race to get skinny. This is a lifestyle I’m after, so bemoaning the time it will take to lose weight is counterproductive. All I need to know is that I will get there eventually, as long as I continue to be consistent.

So that’s where my four day wins come in, although they aren’t always four days long. This week, as I gleefully stepped across my first four day win finish line, it occurred to me that I only needed to go three more days to get to my cheat day. Every Saturday is a free day where I get to indulge all of the cravings I’ve had all week, should I choose to do so. I consider it the pressure release valve. I don’t have to think, “I can never have ice cream again.” I can just think, “No biggie. I can’t have ice cream on Saturday, if I still want it.”

Small Choices Over Time Add up to Big Results

Motivation to achieve a goal involves constant focusing and refocusing between the long-term payoff and short-term decisions. When you look at your tracking method, you will be able to see the long-term trajectory of your big picture, and the minutiae of your day-to-day and how that’s affecting your outcome.

At the end of the day, all I ever need to do is to make smart choices at the next meal. That’s all I need to think about. In moments of weakness, at times of mental conflict, when I refer to my nutty tracking documents, I’m clearly reminded where I’ve been and where I’m going so that I don’t lose the plot.

When I wonder why I’m avoiding vanilla creamer, I can think of my long-term goal for inspiration. And I can also think about how Saturday, my cheat day, is never more than a week away.

The Weight Loss Advice That Is Finally Working for Me (Video)

Click here to watch the video.

When I was pregnant, I was a total animal in the gym. Several days a week I attended a high intensity bootcamp that was a big ole ass whoopin’ no matter what kind of shape you’re in. The instructor, Raquel, who I totally fell girl-crush in love with, is the hardest trainer in these here parts.

Last summer, I had the baby. Even though I was taking it easy and I was no longer working out, I got back into great shape super fast. I was back into my pre-pregnancy clothes within a few weeks. But it didn’t last.

Now I’m Fat

Fast forward to a year later. The toll of sleep deprivation and new-baby-overwhelm meant that my diet went to crap. Over the last several months, I put on 15 pounds.

In an effort to lose weight, I went back to this bootcamp class, but at a different gym with a different trainer. I wasn’t losing any weight. I wasn’t getting enough sleep and my diet was terrible. I wasn’t treating myself well, and as a direct result, I’m looking more like trash and less like royalty.

I walked into my bootcamp class last Tuesday and who should I see there, but Raquel, who was subbing that day for the usual guy. Her class was on a whole ‘nother level from what I’m currently used to. It was HAAARD. The warm up alone had me beat.

Diet Advice, Please?

After the class, I approached Raquel to seek some advice. You know how sometimes you just want someone to tell you what to eat? That was my intention when I went up to her.

Raquel didn’t recognize me. I jogged her memory, you know, the really pregnant lady who used to take this class at the other gym? She remembered: “Oooooohhhh yeaaahhhhh. Wow. Huh. You look really … different,” she said.

Watch the video reenactment of THE FACE she made. Priceless, funny … and painful for me.

Different indeed. I explained that I’ve actually put on weight since having the baby because I’m not taking great care of myself.

Lose Weight by Shifting Your Priorities

Raquel looked me in the eye and said, “It’s hard. It’s hard taking care of a one-year-old. It’s hard taking care of a two-year-old. A friend of mine is a mother of 13-year-old triplets, and she’s still recovering. I’m not sure when it gets better. But here’s the thing. The earlier you make yourself a priority in your own life, the easier it is. You have to make yourself a priority if you expect to make any progress.”

There was something about how she grabbed me by the lapels with her gaze while she spoke; her words knocked me upside the head. It was clear that her message was super important for my well being, and I needed to hear it.

My Weight Loss Plan

Raquel was right. This is it. This is the week I’m making a huge lifestyle change. I’ve been more consistent this week than I’ve been in forever. I finally feel the momentum carrying me, and I’ve lost a pound or two.

I’m using Tim Ferris’ Slow Carb Diet to overhaul my eating habits, with the modification of cutting back on dairy instead of eliminating it entirely. Continuing to eat dairy will slow down my weight loss, but I will be more likely to stick to the plan long-term that way. The slow carb diet is healthy, balanced and gives me energy throughout the day. Tim has been eating this way for eight years, so it’s a sustainable lifestyle.

Plus I’m following Raquel’s recommendation to attend a BODYPUMP™ class twice a week. I’m still taking my daughter for walks every day — briskly for 30 minutes if I carry her in the Bjorn, or a long slow walk if we use the stroller.

Unlike in the past when I’ve lost a little weight, I’m not getting too comfortable – and I’m also not getting discouraged at the amount of work ahead of me. As long as I continue to make myself a priority, I know I will lose the weight. This is the inspiration I’ve been waiting for.

Click here to watch the video! :)

Why Making Your Bed Every Day Can Be a Waste of Time

Don’t make that face or it will freeze that way. If you touch yourself, you’ll grow hair on your palms. That old tin can on the counter labeled “pineapple juice” actually contains the grease from the roast. (Sadly for me, it turns out the last one was true.)

When we’re kids, we’re told all sorts of things to keep us in line. When we become adults, we hang onto some of these mental artifacts and feel guilty or slightly “off” when we don’t do things our mother’s way. There are times when our mother’s way feels right, and there are times when we need to forge our own path, sans guilt.

How You Spend the Moments Is How You Spend Your Life

Let’s say it takes you one minute to make your bed every morning. That translates to more than 6 hours per year used on bed making. If you live until you’re 80 years old, that’s two or three weeks of your life spent on straightening and fluffing sheets and pillows.

I don’t know about you, but if I were on my deathbed and somebody handed me the gift of a sprightly three additional weeks to live (preferably in Hawaii), then I’d take it.

Sometimes Mom Is Right

When you live in a bedroom with all the size and charm of a meat locker in New York City, your bed equals your living space. An unmade bed is essentially your home, and that can feel yucky and chaotic. I was beyond thrilled to have a made bed when I lived that way, so my motivation was high to keep up the habit. There are times in your life that having a made bed enhances the quality of your experience, so that single minute each day is time well spent.

Some people just looooove themselves the sight of a neat and straightened bed. There have been times that I’ve gotten all googly-eyed over my pristine bedroom and I just want to sit and stare at the sexy serenity. This is all about swell easy living after all, and if a made bed feel so good – while a messy bed appears so dreadful – then do it! Make the bed! Drink in the view and feel superior to all the non-bed-makers out there. You deserve it.

Sometimes Mom Only Thinks She’s Right

If you find yourself, day after day, admonishing yourself for the unmade bed but you aren’t motivated to change it, then I absolve you. You have my permission to throw off the yoke of your guilt and skip happily through the tulips. Rest easy knowing that you’ll simply unmake your bed at the end of the day anyway, so you don’t need to bother. Feel superior to all those suckers out there wasting their lives feeling smug over their made beds. You deserve it.

Now that I don’t lay eyes on my bed until I’m tearing off the covers to climb in at night, I’ll save myself that one minute per day, thank-you-very-much. These days, with a one-year-old underfoot and career strides in sight, each minute is priceless and my priorities are a little different. And so I’ve chosen to bump bed-making off my list.

Listen to Your Mother (Sometimes)

I promise you won’t grow hair on your palms. Your face might actually freeze that way, in which case I hear Botox is an option. There is one thing I know for sure: you shouldn’t snatch that tin can off the kitchen counter because you want pineapple juice when your mother warned you not to drink the fat.

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Get Motivated, Get Happy! 3 Posts About How to Live a Richer and More Satisfying Life

Here are the latest Parentables.com posts I wrote to fill our brains with positive mojo.

Click to Read :: How Focusing on Mundane Household Tasks Can Make You Happy

Surprisingly, it’s the act of wishing ourselves away to another time and place that makes us unhappy, not the chores themselves.

Click to Read :: 12 Ways to Take a Small, Daily Vacation This Summer to Let Your Soul Sing

The pathetic tale of how I went from being a feral ice-cream sandwich scarfing, sun-soaking, free-living beast to being a domesticated, prune-nibbling indoor cat, and what I plan to do about it.

Click to Read :: What I Learned From Oprah: Stop Wasting My Life

Time is slipping by. Are you doing what you’re meant to do with your life?

If you like these posts, then please “like” me on Facebook.

I like you, too!

How Taking My Daughter for Walks Changed My Life

I’m now blogging for TLC’s Parentables! I will blog the post introductions here at swell easy living so you can keep updated on new content as it becomes available. Just click through to read the full post on parentables.

baby bjorn

Picture it: You show up to a party. The room is dim and a disco ball throws annoying splashes of festive color at the walls. You would rather be home in bed, but people have been telling you that you need to get out more. You see people socializing and having fun. You want to join them, but you are too hesitant to approach.

You feel unsure of your rusty conversation skills. You marvel at that one. You were never so keenly aware before that conversation required skill, let alone the whole possibility of a “rusty” factor. Your clothes are 24-hour clothes, meaning they involve a stretch fabric or perhaps a drawstring, and they can be worn day or night.

You can’t recall the last time your body felt shower spray. Your hair has been falling out, and you didn’t brush it today. You press your butt, your inflated butt, which doesn’t even feel like it belongs to you — it’s someone else’s butt, yet distinctly your butt — you press that butt up against the wall so you can try to make yourself appear smaller in an effort to hide.

You are a wallflower. A smelly, fat wallflower. Such is the experience of some new moms showing up at the party of life.

Why Bother Leaving the House? :: keep reading …

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