The Trick to Maintaining Your Weight Loss

by: Danielle Ternyila

With the promise of so many fad diets and quick fix weight loss programs, my fear 75 lbs ago was that no matter what I lost, I would gain it back anyway and be at the same spot. It seemed impossible, so rather than throw in the towel, I sought out the answers for the best trick of all: keeping off the weight after you lose it.

Losing weight is a huge success that comes with so many challenges along the way, but the hardest part is the part that comes next, maintaining that win long-term instead of falling into old habits again. This was the most important part of my weight loss journey for me, and it’s something we all struggle with, yet don’t talk about enough. We do, now, talk about it plenty in my Facebook support group, and I’ll talk about it here again.

To maintain your weight loss achievements, you can’t stop now. You’ve worked hard to get here, you’ve made changes and done courageous things, like perhaps stepping foot in a new gym or entrusting a surgeon for assistance. No matter what, the next step is to stay healthy.

The trick to keeping it all off is to make changes to your lifestyle that support your health. Creating a healthier lifestyle that supports your weight loss is your hack, and it will feel easier said than done. Don’t let that stop you, especially when it is your health and wellness on the line.

I started making changes to my overall lifestyle to help improve my health and keep going at this goal. If I wanted to be healthy, I realized that I actually had to do exactly that. I cut out all the unhealthy snacks and processed foods in the cabinets; I started filling my fridge with more fruits and vegetables, and I started cooking much different meals than I was used to growing up in an Italian family addicted to pasta and bread.

Giving up my favorite snacks and even meals was a hard decision, but I learned it was not about cutting it out entirely. Moderation is key. Instead of enjoying these guilty pleasures regularly, they became a treat, which I sometimes think makes it that much more enjoyable than having it every week. I also limited my beverages and cut down on excess sugar in my diet too by switching to water and black coffee or teas.

Every day is a challenge, but I prioritize my health regardless. Though it has been years since I started this journey, I still crave all of my favorite unhealthy delights, but cravings pass.

4 Healthy Habits to Impact Your Mindset

by: Danielle Ternyila

Changing your mindset can be a really hard thing to do, but it is far from impossible. It takes time; it won’t always be easy, but nothing worth it ever will be “easy”.

There are at least some things you can do throughout your day to help change your mindset slowly but surely. By doing things that bring more positivity, focus, and energy into your every day, you can gain the confidence to do anything! The first step towards anything is believing in yourself, and these mindset tricks can help get you there.

Make Your Bed Every Morning

As soon as you crawl out of bed, turn around and make it again. It’s your first task of the day, so it’s sure to give you a huge sense of self-accomplishment immediately. Who wouldn’t want to start their day like this?

Doing so is known to improve your mood, much like some of these other simple habits. Make your bed so you’ll sleep better later, to reduce your stress levels, and improve your productivity. It’s the little things in life, after all.

Say Thank You Instead of Sorry

This is a big flaw we all can struggle with easily. When we make a mistake and get called out on it, our instinct is to apologize, but we’re human and can make mistakes. We are always learning, always growing, so we should be saying “Thank you” to those who catch the mistakes, help us through them, or just point them out. Thank you for your attention on that, thank you for pointing that out, thanks for explaining this.

When we break the habit of diminishing our work by apologizing, we can appreciate all our efforts, achievements, and growth instead of feeling guilty. Saying thank you, or at least learning not to immediately blurt out “I’m sorry!” when something isn’t done right, changes the attitude of the whole conversation. We shouldn’t have to feel like we have to be perfect all the time; just your best is exactly enough, and never apologize for that.

Drink Water First Every Day

Instead of starting the morning with coffee or your favorite tea, drink down a glass of water first, and maybe even add a splash of lemon for extra flavor! After sleeping for 8+ hours (by following the next tip), your body needs to be replenished. It has basically been in fasting mode for those long hours overnight, so you want to nourish it with what’s good for it, like hydration!

Play Your Happy Playlist

If you haven’t already, prep a “happy playlist” on your music app of choice. This should be all of the songs that make you feel good, the ones that lift you up and make you feel like you’re on top of the world. Be it a childhood favorite, some upbeat vibes, the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack or bagpipes, music can be a great tool for our mental health, and it’s something we can do daily.

Music can provide more benefits to your mental state than you could think. It is actually linked to having positive effects on the brain and natural chemicals like dopamine, the “happy” hormone! Start playing that feel-good playlist, and find somewhere to fit it into your every day, maybe when you are feeling your most anxious during the day. I listen to my playlist in the car on the commute to work or anytime I need to clean but not feeling it; a quick dose of “Walking on Sunshine” or “Dancing Queen” to get myself excited!

What are you doing every day to improve your mindset? What songs put you in your best mood? Share with us in our private support group on Facebook!

Treat Yourself Like You Treat Your Bestie

by: Danielle Ternyila

Do you talk to yourself the same way you talk to your best friend or even your kids? When your bestie is talking about how fat they feels or unsuccessful, you aren’t going to go, “Yeah, and you haven’t even been putting in any effort.” You would tell them how beautiful they really are, how much they inspire you, and you could even rattle off countless compliments…. Imagine how you would feel if you spoke like that to yourself!

We all have our own flaws, our weaknesses, and things we don’t like about ourselves, but you are your biggest critic. What you think may be a flaw, someone else may be truly jealous of or even adore you for it. If there is something you don’t like, talk about what you will do about it instead of what you didn’t. Next time you hear negative thoughts about yourself sinking in, take a moment to think of 3 things you do love.

The same goes for those awkward situations you will internally live over and over again, regretting every way you handled the situation or even just something you said once. If you want to be more confident, you have to exert that energy. Don’t get caught up in the past and focus on the “next time” instead. You learn from every thing you do, so turn it more positive by focusing on the things you did right or will do next time, then remind yourself how great you are, just like you would for your bestie when they’re feeling down!

Remember to talk positive with yourself. It’s all about mindset, and if you talk yourself up, even if it’s just in front of the mirror, in the shower, or in the car, you’re going to feel more positive. Stop judging yourself, critiquing your every decision, and making yourself feel bad. You are perfect, and there is no reason to think otherwise. After all, you’re the only YOU there is in this world; there’s nothing that can compare!

Positive self talk is a game-changer. Do you have any self mantras you share with yourself, or is it new to you? Give it a try, and you won’t regret it.

Once Upon a Time She Was A Strong and Independent Woman

by: Danielle Ternyila

Disney can sometimes get a bad rap for setting unrealistic expectations when it comes to relationships and happiness, but hear me out! Despite Cinderella’s traumatic childhood and home life, she woke up singing everyday with her animal friends, just like Snow White and Rapunzel too. As sad as it may have been, she made the most of it and did what she needed to make herself happy. She didn’t depend on anyone else to do that for her (although let’s be honest, her evil stepsisters and stepmother certainly didn’t care).

Your happiness should be your focus over anything else, just like Cinderella has shown us. She surely felt defeated after leaving the ball but seemingly accepted that she would not be with her true love. If you ask me, it was this confidence and self assurance that led her to her happily ever after that we all know today.

Now having seen this, we all still fall into these patterns trying to find “the one” as if that is going to complete our lives. What if, humor me, you loved yourself first? It is never bad to have a support system for yourself, much like friends and family, but this idea of needing to be married or locked down in a Facebook-official commitment for that support only sets unrealistic expectations for yourself and others.

You can be successful on your own, and you can be happy. It can feel so hard to turn off the dating apps, walk away from a bad relationship, or give up on the crush you’ve been chasing for so long. I promise, though, that no one will put you first if you don’t.

A big thing that can often stand in our way of happiness is stress, and you will only feel lighter when you let go of the pressure to have a date for the next wedding, a significant other for the holidays, or to just be married by a certain age.

Surround yourself with people that make you happy, do things you love, stress less, control what you can, and work hard. No one will argue that Ariel the Little Mermaid was happy as a clam in her search for freedom, not a man. She learned to walk with the people and dance on the street, and in the end, the prince was just an exciting bonus along her journey for happiness.

10-Week Holiday Cleaning Challenge

by: Danielle Ternyila

The holidays always come up quick, and you never believe me until it happens. Don’t let these next 2 months slip by! Plan ahead using this simple 10-Week Cleaning Countdown to the Holidays! Each week, take on just one task, which you can get done in one weekend or dispersed over the course of 7 days.

By the time the holidays are here, your home will be clean and clutter-free. How amazing would that be? Think of it as a little holiday gift to future-you, from past-you! Isn’t past-you the best?

Week of October 17 | Purge Day!

It’s time to let go, let go of everything you and the fam haven’t touched in a long time. Look in your closet and toy bins (but don’t worry about clothes for now!), think about those books and games collecting dust. “Grab a garbage bag and start tossing,” as my mom says. Take out the bag and check out all these hiding spots around your home and throw out as much as you can.

If you can’t let go of everything, you could also make a storage pile. Pick up some boxes or totes and pack them up for storage. Either way, get it done this week to begin your holiday cleaning countdown.

Week of October 24 | Donation Time!

It’s time to rip through the closets and dressers to see what clothes you don’t need anymore. Sort through it all, and start tossing it all in a garbage bag again, this time everything you haven’t worn or can’t think of where to wear again.

I told you to skip clothes last week, and that’s because those are easy to donate! If you have clothes in decent shape, there’s nothing to lose (and if you’re like me, I’m sure you have a few unworn pieces with tags someone else deserves after all this time in your closet). Find your local donation bin or organization. If you have children under 10, consider looking into a local mothers group for the clothes your little ones don’t fit in any more! Many organizations are always in need of clothes for kids, like Moms Helping Moms Foundation.

Go through your summer clothes too! Now that you are done with them, add in your bag all the pieces you really never wore. They’re just wasting space, anyway! Sift through the winter clothes and toss any jackets that won’t fit this year in the bag. Leave no article of clothing left unquestioned! You’ll really be thankful for all the closet space in the end.

Week of October 31 | Car Clean Out

Before the weather gets any colder (and perhaps after all the candy and Halloween parties this week), get outside to clean out the car. If you’re the kind of person who has their sh!t together and their car is spotless, good for you, but I’ll be tossing all the old water bottles and gum wrappers, collecting hoodies lost in my backseat, and vacuuming all the dog hair this week.

I tend to collect a lot of stuff in my trunk over the summer between all the road trips and beach days. Now is the time to get all of that stuff out, make space for transporting gifts around, but especially for all the upcoming holiday shopping that comes first!

Week of November 7 | Toy Swap

This is such an important one for the families with kiddos! The swap is simple: put some toys away in storage and keep a few others out for the kids. With the holidays approaching, it makes room for the new stuff, then in a few months you can swap out some of these with ones that have been in the closet a while. You don’t want to overstimulate the kids with too many options, and it’s easier for them to just have a few to pick from at a time.

This is also great for when you have bored children on your hands! After a while when that first set of toys is boring, throw it in storage (toss everything broken or that has missing pieces), and take out the other bunch of toys you tucked away. They’ll look shiny and new all over again, trust me!

Week of November 14 | Bathroom Scrub

Three priorities in the bathroom when you clean this week: medicine cabinet, makeup drawer, and soap bottles.

Take some extra time this week to declutter your bathrooms from top to bottom. Don’t forget to check out old prescriptions, empty bottles, the toothbrush holder, and the mascaras and eyeshadows you don’t use any more. Some things can get thrown out, some things cleaned. As long as you do a little each day, you won’t have to waste too much time each day this week in the shitter!

Week of November 21 | Pantry Clean-Out

Your pantry, snack cabinets, the fridge and freezers…. Chuck everything old, expired, untouched, and undesired. They’re just wasting space, and your fridge will be full of cookies and big meals before you know it! If you have canned goods, it is easy to find a local organization to take the donation. At this time of year, cans are in great need!

You can also use this week to organize any of these areas as you need. After I declutter and free up space, I will reorganize everything to keep everything in order for the holidays. Future-Me will appreciate this! Yours will too.

Get back in the kitchen this week, and clean this time. I’m talking about the stovetop, the oven, your fridge, the spice rack… Get a deep clean in now (and after the big feast of Thanksgiving) so you have a lot less to stress about next month’s end!

Week of November 28 | Deep Dive in the Kitchen

Again, don’t go crazy and try to fit it all in in one day! You have the whole week, so make your to-do list and check things off as you go! Make realistic goals for yourself, like deep clean stove one day, instead of deep clean the stove, toaster, air fryer, sink, and dishwasher. You can’t always be Super Girl!

Week of December 5 | A Little Pixie Dust!

Time to dust and make this place shine. The holidays are coming, after all! Break out your feather duster and Swiffer. Dust everything and everywhere in your home, and take a few extra minutes to clean the windows around the house too. Break out the glass cleaner, and you’re almost to a completely mess-free home for the holidays! 2 weeks left.

Week of December 12 | Laundry Week!

This week, take some extra time to do some extra loads and get ahead before next week. You know it’s about to get so busy, so wash the linens, flip the mattresses, and power through! Don’t forget to separate your whites and colors.

Week of December 19 | Finals – it’s crunch time!

With less than a week now, let’s get those last-minute jobs done! Vacuum the house and the furniture, mop the floors, wipe down the counters and bathrooms… Quick tip! Try writing down what you need to get done this week and try checking off more and more each day. It’s never a bad idea to split things up so there is less stress on you each day. Plus, you won’t worry about getting it done at the last minute.

Grounding Method: Count Down to Stress Less

by: Danielle Ternyila

Experiencing anxiety is not new, and you’re not the only one feeling like a bundle of stress ready to explode nowadays. No matter what it is you are going through, the best thing you can do is to take care of yourself. Instead of “accepting defeat” against the anxiety and whirlwind of emotions consuming you, focus your attention on things you can do that will help instead of hurt.

Make a conscious decision to do what you can to control yourself and these emotions; ground yourself. Trust me, it sounds so impossible and hard. If you’re thinking “No, I can’t turn it off, the anxiety will never go away,” then take another step back. You can’t think that way or things will never change. Negativity follows negative vibes. To take control of your stress, you first need to accept that you do control this. You have the power to make things better in your life, no one else; they’ve got their own lives to take care of after all.

To gain control in a stressful situation, you can count down with these simple steps, a tried and true coping mechanism for panic attacks and anxiety. Use your 5 senses, counting down from 5, to calm your mind. Your mind may be racing, thinking and worrying over so many things, and I feel you! Now, you can’t turn your brain off, but why not shift gears? Give your mind a new task to clear your thoughts.

Grounding Technique for Stress and Anxiety

5. See – In your head (or out loud if you’re alone and can!), find five things you see. My hands, blinds on the window, a desk plant, blue walls, and a yellow pencil, for example.

4. Touch – Now find four things you can touch. The cotton drawstring on my hoodie, the wooden desk, rubber keyboard protector, and condensation on my water bottle, perhaps.

3. Hear – Name three things you can hear: the air conditioner, birds outside the window, and the neighbor’s car just started

2. Smell – What are two things you can smell? Coconut candle and lemon tea

1. Touch – Finally, think of one thing around you that you could taste (not saying you have to actually taste it). An apple?

It’s that easy! When you go through these simple 5 steps and count down through your senses, you will be able to clear your mind. Whether you’re just a little worried or under stress in a tough situation, this anxiety grounding technique will help you come back to the present and focus on what really matters.

Coping With Our New “Normal”

by: Dianna Yphantides

“Should we get the vaccine or not get the vaccine? Should we wear a mask or is it okay not to wear a mask? Should I plan this trip? Should I see this friend? Should we social distance? Should we push off our birthday parties, weddings, dinner plans, and our lives?” 

Hi, my name is Dianna Yphantides. I am a licensed clinical therapist, and these are only a few of the many questions, fears and complications that I have been hearing from many of my clients over the past year and a half due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  COVID-19 is a virus which, like it or not, has changed the way every single person on this planet has lived the past year and a half.  This virus has caused the death of hundreds of thousands of people, caused strains on relationships due to different belief systems, and caused extreme deficits on the mental health and wellness of people regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, and age.

There is not a single person who hasn’t been affected by the roars and decimation of this virus today.  There are countless memes, jokes and jabs at COVID-19 to help keep our world laughing instead of crying.  What I have witnessed in my line of work comes down to 2 things: the fear of the unknown and the difficulty people have been dealing with of not having control of what is happening in our lives.  People have lost the capability to socialize, hug, connect and simply be with people that they love due to fear of this virus.  People have lost the right to feel safe going to places like the grocery store, a restaurant, and the gym, which previously we had taken for granted. 

The isolation of quarantine alone for people has had insurmountable mental health consequences on people.  As human-beings, we are social creatures who crave affection, attention and unity, and the divide this virus has implicated on us all is not something that can be cured overnight.  I have patients who are fully vaccinated who come for in-person sessions with five masks on and I have patients who still have yet to leave their homes since March 2020.  This is not the quality of life that we are used to living.  Children are missing out on extremely imperative socialization and quality learning years and elders are missing opportunities to see their grandchildren grow up, and there is no timeline to tell us when we are going to feel “normal” again– or what normal will even look like after this.

As a therapist, my takeaway from this past year and a half is that it is okay not to be okay.  It is alright to feel lost, fearful, angry, confused and sad sometimes.  This virus is not something that any one of us could have predicted.  Give yourself the privilege and the right to feel your feelings–scream, yell, throw something– do whatever it takes to express yourself, and most important of all, be kind to yourself.  Take a long bath, read a good book, watch a comedy on Netflix, take a walk, meditate.  Do things for yourself which help fill up your cup since the overwhelming nature of this pandemic has most definitely left it depleted.  Remember that it is okay to feel overwhelmed right now.  Do things for yourself; big or small which help you to remember that you are human, you are fallible, and it is acceptable to not be okay in such an uncertain time.