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Mental Health


Mind Over Matter

As several of you may have experienced when I teach Tabata, I chant a lot about mind over matter. It’s a proven fact – if you convince your mind you can do something, you can conquer it. It’s also the theme of many of our daily posts on our Facebook page HeelsToLacesFit. One of the most recent being: “It always seems impossible until it’s


There are numerous studies that have shown by controlling your mind, you control your body. This can be applied in so many ways – in times of stress (physical or mental), in your reaction to your environment, in relationships and in the power of healing.

It’s no secret I am somewhat obsessed with Deepak Chopra. In his book “Ageless Body, Timeless Mind,” based on quantum physics, he advises on how to “defeat entropy,” to “believe” enough to control physical changes and to “reinterpret your body” to create renewal. By practicing these philosophies (in addition to fueling our bodies with healthy diets), we can elongate our lives by perpetuating healthy physical reactions within our body, starting on a cellular level.

Our cells renew every day. In fact, 98% of the atoms in our bodies are exchanged for new ones every year.  Chopra’s premise is that the more positive our mind is, the more beneficial the effect it will have on each and every cell we reproduce in our body.

We can mentally control and change our physical reactions. It’s a fascinating concept. You can change your body, and your outlook, simply by changing your perception. It’s how we interpret our external world. If we convince our mind we can physically accomplish the task at hand, our body will follow. If we can replace stress with positive intention we can rid ourselves of the negative reactions that follow…such as aging, damage to our organs and physical ailments.

It goes back to the premise – how are you going to react to what’s in front of you?

– If you believe you can conquer it, mostly likely, you will.
– If you are fearful or convince yourself it’s not possible, chances are, you will have a difficult time and your body will shut down.

Over time, by practicing positive thinking, you will see the positive effect it will have on your body, and in turn, the image you project to the outside world. Spending less time focusing on your obstacles in front of you and more energy on how you are going to succeed effects every aspect of your being.

So I challenge you to predetermine how you will deal with your task at hand. Begin by eliminating the fear and believing you will excel. Convince your mind you are capable…and see how your body follows.

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  • Robin Kelley

    Love this post! I think it’s all so true. Just have to remember it when the going gets tough. Great reminder.

  • Michelle

    Changing your perspective is the best thing you can do! Ditto to this whole post. I love that we have the power inside of us to continue to make or break our mindset and if we focus on the positive energy and thinking, we will succeed in ways we never knew before. Thank you for the reminder and encouragement. Rock on!!!!

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Connecting The Dots

Connect-The-Dots-Post Steve Jobs notoriously said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

As my life evolves, I find more and more truth to this concept – there is a path you are following in life and it connects to everything else.

I Diagnosed My Own Skin Cancer
In 2001, I got into a disagreement with my new husband of 3 months. I locked myself in the bedroom of our one-bedroom 800 square ft. apartment to stew. Not realizing how bored I would be in my righteous sulking, I picked up Glamour magazine and started flipping through the pages. Finding an ABCD’s of skin cancer guide sheet in the issue, I decided to do a full body scan and found a suspicious mole on my back. That mole was ultimately diagnosed as melanoma and resulted in a large, scary, life-changing surgery. My sun-worshiping, tanning booth, yo-yo dieting days had come back to haunt me. I was not invincible.

Finding Deepak
At the same point in my life, I was a basket case of stress in a fast-paced job at L’Oreal that took every ounce of my energy and produced so much anxiety I ended up in the emergency room (more than once) for anxiety attacks.

Feeling a little lost, I was given a book “Seven Secrets of Success” by Deepok Chopra. It reset my mind frame and made everything seem attainable.  I was always very motivated, but as a new follower (and stalker 😉 ) of Deepak, it became clearer that I can control my life and achieve anything. I quit my job at L’Oreal.

Tackling My Only Fear
As everything in my life flourished, I still could not tackle my fear of skin cancer. At least 35 removals and 5 doctors later, I avoided the sun at all costs, bundled up in 95 degree weather and hid in the shade. You really can’t comprehend how scary it is to be diagnosed with cancer (of any kind), unless you have gone through it. This could potentially be my demise.

My fear lasted up until 4 weeks ago.

During a routine 3 month checkup, my savior, Dr. Wang – the director of Memorial Sloan Kettering in Basking Ridge, NJ (referred to me from a previous doctor who met him at a conference –> dot), told me to Live My Life. He said I would miss out if I continued to live in fear and my mind would eventually convince my body that it was sick and create illness. It was a life revelation for me.

After this eye-opening appointment with Dr. Wang, I randomly turned on the TV one afternoon (which I NEVER do) and Deepok Chopra was on Oprah’s Soul Sunday. He was talking about his book “Ageless Body, Timeless Mind.” His main premise was we can control the health of our body through positive thinking (it’s a fascinating read). By taking care of your body (eating well, exercising, nourishing your mind), you can stop illness and the aging process. He said to “Live Your Life” to the fullest potential.

I felt as if the last 10 years made a full circle.

Dots Continue To Connect
In the last 10 years, being Deepak inspired, I have accomplished so much more than I ever imagined. I have started 3 successful businesses, checked “become a trainer” off my bucket list, started a health and nutrition blog (with an equally motivational partner), learned an exorbitant amount of information on health and nutrition and have practiced what I preach. I have learned and shared with many that you can heal your body from the inside out. My goal was to motivate others in life to be happy and live their life.

I have not had another melanoma in over 10 years.

I realized there’s a good chance channeling all of that positive energy and practicing healthy living over the years ultimately helped me heal my body from the inside out.

The Dots All Come Together
• I find my melanoma • Deepak Chopra inspires me to de-stress and live life up to my potential • I dedicate myself to inspiring others and living a healthy lifestyle • After many, many doctors, I am driven to Dr. Wang, who ultimately teaches me my own mantra • Deepok shows up on TV on a random Sunday to talk to me once again • I realize my healthy behavior and positive energy  has ultimately helped me keep my body healthy • I learn my own life lesson and hope to continue to inspire others.

So I pass on the message to you….look back at your dots and see how they have dictated your future.
And, most importantly… Life Your Life.

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  • Jenny Heffernan

    Wow Deb – I have chills head to toe! I feel like I just read my own story! I diagnosed my melanoma too and lived in panic for years. I have finally found connections and support in my life that have changed the way I look at everything. Love your blog and of course your reading list is the EXACT replica of my favorite reads! I think we may have been separated at birth. Love the blog! You are an amazing and inspiring woman – I am so happy to have crossed paths with you! XOXO Jenny Hefernan

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Are You A ’Glass Half Full’ Person?

images-3Positive thinking is no longer just a soft and fluffy term thrown around in psychology classes.  Reams of research are beginning to reveal that positive thinking is about much more than just displaying an upbeat attitude and a smile.  Studies have consistently shown that a positive attitude can have a beneficial effect on our health and success.  A recent article from the Mayo Clinic cited the following health benefits of positive thinking:

  • Increased life span
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Lower levels of distress
  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Better psychological and physical well-being
  • Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

But how does one become a positive person?  Are we born seeing the glass either ‘half full’ or ‘half empty’?  And, are we destined to go through life this way?

Recent research says, ‘no’. Scientists have learned that the brain continues to adapt and rewire itself throughout our lives and our thoughts and behaviors directly influence this process.

So how do we actually become more optimistic?  One technique is by consciously and actively practicing gratitude.  At the end of every day, make a conscious effort to remember and write down 2 or 3 things for which you are grateful.  You can record them in a journal or on pieces of paper that you drop into a jar.  At first, you will most likely begin with the big stuff like family and a house over your head.  But as you continue, you will be forced to carefully look back over the day and remember the little things, such as the great lunch you had, or the phone call with your mom or even a thoughtful text from a friend.  Your brain can only hold a certain amount of information at a time, so by focusing on and reinforcing the positive events of the day, you crowd out the negative thoughts.

Over time, this way of thinking will actually rewire your brain. Just think of your brain as a dynamic, connected power grid, with billions of roads and pathways lighting up every time you think or feel.  The well travelled roads are your habits and your established ways of thinking and feeling.  Every time you think in a certain way or feel a specific emotion, you strengthen those roads and make it easier for your brain to travel along them.

However, when you think about something differently or choose a different emotion, you carve out a new road inside your brain.  If these new thoughts and emotions are reinforced frequently,  a new pathway gets stronger and becomes the preferred path.  The old pathway becomes used less and less and weakens.  (This is the concept of Neuroplasticity.)

One recent study published in the Journal of Research in Personality confirmed the impact of positive thoughts on one’s health.  Ninety college student were spilt into two groups, one of which wrote about intensely positive experiences three days a week, and the other group wrote about a control topic.  After just three months, the students who wrote about positive experiences had better mood levels, fewer visits to the health center, and experienced fewer illnesses.

I have been planning on using a gratitude jar with my kids for years and never seem to get around to it.  But as I write this blog, I am making a public promise to make gratitude part of my family’s life.  It only takes minutes a day and can lead to a happier more satisfied life.  Think about doing it for your family and send us a comment to tell us how it is going.

Also, if you are interested in learning about living a more optimistic life, Cara Maksimow, LCSW, CPC, conducts Optimism Workshops locally and by web.  Check out her link at http://www.maximize-wellness.com/workshops.html.

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  • Cara Maksimow, LCSW, CPC

    Love the blog post! I can say from personal experience ( my family and I have been doing ” 3 things” every night for years). I also have had great response from coaching clients who have incorporated gratitude into daily activities.

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