I was going to make a “yearly goals” post last month, but I changed my mind because nobody really gives a frak about reading my goals on my blog (including me because I review my goals literally every week)… And if for some reason you are curious, I post about them regularly on my lifestream. My only resolution for the year is to express myself more – especially here on my blog. Which for me means more sharing, more writing, and more music!
So instead I’m going to share my favourite things (mostly personal development related) of 2011. Most bloggers have some kind of weekly post where they talk about all the cool things they’ve found on the web. I’ve considered doing that in the past, but I don’t often come across anything post worthy. And I don’t want to just post cool things like everyone else does, I wanna post things that are actually gonna help y’all.
These ten resources (some of them websites/blogs, books, etc) were absolutely crucial to bringing me closer to my health and personal goals for the past year. If you’re serious about changing your life or living the best life you can, I encourage you to look at this list and learn more about the sites that stand out to you! I’m crazy about this kind of stuff so of course I just devoured everything here, but feel free to visit the sources you like and ignore the ones that don’t speak to you.
In no particular order.
1. Chalene Johnson’s 30 Day Challenge
Chalene Johnson is a fitness expert, lifestyle coach, and entrepreneur. I stumbled upon Chalene’s 30 Day Challenge randomly near the last half of 2011. I seriously wish I could remember who’s blog I got the link from because I’m forever grateful to them for introducing me to Chalene! She’s become my #1 inspiration and idol. Her 30 Day Challenge is a free course that helps you get organized and enable you to achieve your goals. The concepts were so new to me that I admit I really struggled with it the first time I did it all the way through, but I learned so much extremely valuable information. Around a month after I did the free version of the course, Chalene released a book called Push, which is sort of like a premium version of the 30 Day Challenge. It’s a little more in depth and includes a lot of fitness help as well. Of course I jumped on the chance to get it, and I’m so so so grateful I did, because I did so much better on the course the second time through.
I used to be the kind of person who would scribble a to-do list on a piece of paper at the beginning of the day, lose track of the paper, lose track of time doing something that I didn’t actually care about that much (or that someone else wanted me to do), and then at the end of the day I’d be mad at myself for having accomplished barely any of what I wanted. The productivity and goal setting skills I learned in the course and in Chalene’s book Push have put a stop to that completely. They are valuable tools that I’ve incorporated into my daily routine, I’m amazed every day at the goals I’m able to accomplish more and more.
And the fitness advice in Push was exactly the kind of no-nonsense advice I’ve been looking for. Before I read the book, my weight loss was super slow and I could never figure out whether what I was doing was really working or not. Now I know exactly what I’m doing and the results have been awesome! I’ll have to make a post about it at some point.
2. Goddess Leonie / Goddess Guidebook.com
I found Leonie from one of her guest posts on ProBlogger, and I’m super happy I did! Her blog posts have been something I look forward to in google reader every day. I love the free meditation mp3 she offers for signing up to her email list, I have it on my iPod, and it’s one I use whenever I want to do a short meditation.
What really inspired me to put her on this list is when I got her 73 Lessons Every Goddess Must Know, which I got a copy of for Christmas but haven’t read yet! I have a whole bunch of books I’m working my way through at the moment, haha, but I will update as soon as I get to Leonie’s to let you guys know how it is!
I hope someday I can join her Goddess Circle too.
3. Living in the Light (and other books by Shakti Gawain).
Shakti’s books should be required reading for anyone into spirituality or the law of attraction. I don’t really have much to say other than you need to get them immediately, especially if you’ve been using other personal development tools like vision boards and visualization with minimal results. And if you’re new to this stuff, her books are a way better primer than “The Secret”. Why the hell aren’t her books more well known? Generally, I think most personal development material isn’t easy to understand without significant practice and introspection (even basic advice like “follow your bliss” and all that), and a lot of books give you the basic idea of how to live life deliberately but fall short of giving enough detail. I didn’t feel that way about Shakti’s books at all.
I was given Living in the Light as a gift, and as soon as I finished it I bought Creative Visualization and The Creative Visualization Workbook, since I had heard such great things about them. When I read Living in the Light it was like I had finally found the spirituality book I was looking for after lifetimes of digging through fluff. I’m in the middle of Creative Visualization now and it’s crazy what I’ve already managed to manifest with the skills I’ve gained.
One of the things Chalene mentions in her book PUSH is that it’s essential to count calories if you want to lose weight. To clarify, you have to count the calories you burn (via exercise) and the calories you intake (via food). This is something that I had tried to do in the past but found way way too cumbersome to keep up. But with MyFitnessPal, doing this way way easier! A lot of the recipes from the cookbooks I use (like Appetite for Reduction,Veganomicon, etc) are in the food database already, but even when something I’m making isn’t in there, I just enter the ingredients manually and it calculates the calories for you. There’s also a MyFitnessPal phone app which works even on my crappy old Blackberry and comes in super handy.
MyFitnessPal has totally changed the way I eat, and has accelerated my weight loss maybe a zillion percent. I was eating way too much before and I didn’t even know it! Now that I keep track of what I eat I feel like my body’s adjusted and I can feel more intuitively whether or not I’m eating too much. And although it can be time consuming, knowing for sure that what I’m doing is going to work saves me a lot of time in the long run because I’m no longer making diet mistakes and unknowingly preventing myself from losing weight.
As for counting the calories you burn, Chalene recommends the Fitbit or bodybugg (for my UK brethren, the UK version of the bodybugg is called the Ki Fit). Those gadgets are probably amazing but until I can afford that fancy shit, I got a cheap knock off calorie counting watch (this one, if you care). While the accuracy of the watch I have is probably nowhere near as good as the “real” calorie counting devices, it is extremely helpful to get an idea of how many calories I’m burning during the workout.
5. Sandi Krakowski / ARealChange.com
I found Sandi’s blog from Chalene Johnson’s Twitter. Although not all of her business tips apply to me, I did her free blog training and it gave me so many great ideas for my blogs. I think what I like the most about Sandi though is her passion for inspiring people to pursue their dreams and stop procrastinating. Whenever I’m feeling run down I go and read one of her blogs and it never fails to give me a boost. If you’re looking for marketing tips for your business, look know further than the treasure trove of knowledge Sandi provides on her website.
I also have a copy of her book Read Their Mind, but like Leonie’s book, I haven’t got a chance to read it yet! If it’s anything like her blog, though, I’m sure it’ll be awesome.
6. Andrea Hess / Empowered Soul
I’ve been following Empowered Soul for a while. Recently Andrea added a free video training called “The Spiritual Path to Six Figures” which I thought was awesome! She frequently sends out free meditations and guides to people who are signed up to her mailing list (which I love!), but the video series is definitely the best free tool she’s released yet. Watching it has helped me identify a ton of stuff I’ve been doing wrong professionally, which is great because now I can fix those things. What I love most about Andrea’s blog and video series is her emphasis on taking inspired action – I feel like most people ignore doing this because it’s outside of their comfort zone, but if you want to see changes, you need to take action.
Chocolate Covered Katie is a vegan dessert blog dedicated to healthier alternatives to traditionally unhealthy desserts. Hers is probably my favourite food blog ever. Unlike most food blogs (even vegan ones), Katie usually includes gluten- and sugar-free versions of all her recipes, and usually lists the caloric content as well. Since I started reading her blog I eat chocolate practically every day without feeling like garbage or cheating on my diet.
There are way too many amazing recipes for me to list here but I’ll say that the Cake Batter Doughnuts (pictured above!!) might be the greatest thing I’ve ever made, but I also love her Brownie Batter Dip, and Fudge Babies. There’s nothing else to say about this blog, it’s amazing and the recipes speak for themselves.
8. Jillian Michaels Workout DVDs
When I moved from Bath to London I had to leave my gym membership there too. Unable to find a gym near where I moved, I decided to try working out at home with DVDs as an alternative. I started with the 30 Day Shred. I don’t know why I didn’t start doing this sooner. Working out is sooo much easier when you can get it out of the way early in the day at home and don’t have to drive to the gym! But what I like the best is how much more intense her workouts are than what I was doing at the gym before.
My favourite of hers is Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism, which is what I do (almost) every day. When I want a shorter workout I go back to 30 Day Shred, or if I want a less intense workout on a rest day I might do Yoga Meltdown. I also have Killer Buns & Thighs and No More Trouble Zones, which I use less often but are still great!
9. Chrome Nanny / Leechblock
In Chalene’s book Push, she mentions that you have to identify the time wasting and procrastination activities that prevent you from achieving your goals and cut back on them. I have a lot to say about this topic, but until then, I’ll just say that if this is something you have trouble with, browser plugins like Leechblock (for Firefox) and Nanny for Chrome can be really helpful. You enter the sites that you want to avoid into the plugins and set the time of the day you want them to be blocked (for example, from 9 to 5 if that’s your work day, or whatever time frame applies to you). If you try to go to those sites you won’t be able to access them and a “get back to work” message will be displayed instead.
I hate (hate!) when I go to a social networking site or similar to just do one thing and end up getting carried away wasting 15-60 minutes there. I originally installed this plugin for the sole purpose of blocking facebook, but using the plugin has helped me identify other sites I don’t want to waste time on. Facebook is one of those sites that I never actually want to go to but end up on all the time anyways either from clicking other people’s links or going there to “check my messages”. Personally, I use Chrome and I have a list of 16 sites that I block between the hours of 11 pm and 1 am every day of the week. I love it because I no longer have to think or worry about ending up on one of these sites, and I am able to focus so much more on the important stuff.
10. Do As One
Meditation is a great way to get inspiration flowing when you want to (rather than waiting for it to hit you). I meditate every day and Do As One makes that so easy. No lame music, no distracting talking, just breathing. You can also add background noise (like running water or whatever) if you want. What I like best though is that you can time your meditations and a bell will ring when time’s up. They also have an iPhone app which I can only assume is as great as the website.
It’s up to you.
These resources will give you a big boost, but ultimately you need to put the work in if you want to make all your dreams come true. No one can do it for you!
Love and light,