An Unprecedented Time to Become a Healthier Version of YOU!

June 29, 2020

I was taught as a child to use my time wisely. I felt like I needed to be productive at all times. My practice today allows me to give my best to everything I do, but I’m also able to give myself some downtime to do whatever I want to do, without guilt. With government officials, infectious disease experts, and public health professionals providing guidelines to keep us safe, many of us are experiencing changes to our normal routine. What I am hearing the most is disruptions to healthy eating habits. What if we could turn that around and see this time of uncertainty as an opportunity to be healthier? What if we chose to make a fresh start to eat healthier and improve our health through nutrition? More than ever, we have the time to do just that. The excuse “I don’t have time to plan, prep and cook” has gone away for those of us who are spending more time at home. 

I recently listened to an interview with Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, Dean, Freidman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Based on extensive research, he communicates what I’ve felt might be the case with our nation’s health as it relates to coronavirus. The information I share here is directly from Dr. Mozaffarian, the CDC and other scholarly (peer-reviewed) articles. Knowledge is power and my hope is to share this knowledge so that it might inspire someone to replace current eating behavior with consistent, long-term nutritional habits that can restore their health. It’s not too late. By helping yourself, you help others.

First, some statistics:

  • Only 12% of Americans are metabolically healthy. Basic criteria for being healthy includes waist circumference, blood glucose, triglyceride levels, cholesterol levels, and hypertension. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) considers the following to be “unhealthy”:
    • a waist that measures over 40 inches in men or over 35 inches in women
    • fasting blood glucose of 100 to 125 mg/dL indicates you have pre-diabetes, and 126 mg/dL or higher indicates you have diabetes
    • fat, or triglyceride, levels in the blood of 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) or above
    • total cholesterol over 200 mg/dL, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol over 100 mg/dL, or HDL (“good”) cholesterol below 60 mg/dL
    • hypertension – blood pressure at or above 130/80 mm Hg
  • In 2017–2018, the age-adjusted prevalence of obesity in adults was 42.4%. It’s gone up from there.
  • Two in three adults are overweight or obese.
  • Half of American adults have diabetes or pre-diabetes.
  • Nearly half of the U.S. population has hypertension. Only 1 in 4 of those affected have their condition under control.
  • Healthcare costs in the last 50 years have risen from 5% of the federal budget to 30%. Same thing for states.
  • U.S. businesses in 1970 spent a total of $80 Billion dollars on healthcare – adjusted for inflation they now spend 1.2 trillion dollars on healthcare.
  • Though people of all ages are affected by coronavirus, many of those who develop severe complications after contracting it have preexisting medical conditions. According to a CDC report, nearly 90% of adult patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in the US had one or more underlying diseases. 
  • Clear link between people who have chronic diseases (many of which are diet related) and how sick these people get from coronavirus.
  • Most people who are metabolically healthy do not get that sick from Coronavirus.

Many people are asking “What can we do?” We are told to wash our hands, social distance and wear a mask. Clearly, there seems to be something else the majority of Americans can do, that would significantly reduce their risk for getting critically ill from COVID-19.

What if….

  • People used this time at home to learn just one new piece of nutrition knowledge each and every day and applied it in their life?
  • People spent a little bit of time learning to cook instead of going out to eat?
  • Our medical establishments, large food industries and government focused on keeping and/or getting us healthy instead of supporting big business ($$$) and prescribing medication for food-related chronic diseases (sorry, that’s a separate blog all on its own)?
  • People made their health a priority?

Is it possible that this pandemic might not have had such devastating results if we were healthier as a nation? Research would suggest, yes. The pandemic might not have had such a crippling effect on our healthcare system, economy, and communities. Dr. Mozaffarian says there is hope and millennials are leading the way. They are demanding food that is healthier, sustainable and trustworthy. Businesses are hearing this. Dr. Mozaffarian says that businesses that don’t adapt will not be here in 20 to 30 years! Let’s be inspired by this generation and do our part to lead the way by starting now. Do your own research, learn, share and take intelligent action, if you can. Make the best of this unprecedented time. It could make all the difference in the world for you and your loved ones.


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Eliminate Sweets and say Goodbye to Fatigue and Hello to Fabulous

150Amy FriendJanuary 2, 2018

These last few months I have been in close contact with a family member.  With a diagnosis of a rare form of breast cancer, I was asked to research cancer-fighting foods. Highly motivated, I took on this request with a strong passion to seek out as much information as I could from reputable and reliable resources. Taking my last class for my Certificate in Nutrition for Fitness and Wellness at the time, I realized that the process of education and research is never-ending. Always be open and eager to learn!

According to the journal, Cancer Causes & Control, women who reported consuming the most sweets, including desserts, sweetened beverages and added sugars, had a 27 percent greater risk of breast cancer than women who consumed less. Anyone who has done any research on the subject knows that sugar feeds cancer. And cancer, plain and simple, sucks! Sugar addiction can be dangerous. A diet heavy in processed carbohydrates (sugar), not only contributes to breast cancer risk, but it also causes weight gain and increased risk for diabetes and heart disease. I will write another blog specifically on what I learned in regards to nutrition as it relates to cancer, but this blog, due to popular post-holiday demand, is taking a tangent turn to talk once again about sugar, and why you might want to consider detoxifying your body from sugar.

Don’t stop reading, yet! High sugar intake is also linked to depression and later-life dementia. I’m not recommending a 10-day or a 30-day anything, but rather just 3 days of giving up sugar…. ALL SUGAR!  For the typical sugar addict, eating even the smallest amount of sugar can trigger the brain to send signals for more and before you know it you’re having a binge attack! In order to break the cycle it is most effective to go “cold turkey”. Making it “black and white” kicks the cravings fast and you will feel better within just 72 hours! Those hours will be tough, but know that you can fill the void with delicious and tasty options. It’s all about being determined and prepared and supported!

If I’ve held your attention this far chances are you can answer “yes” to any one of the following:

  • Have the holidays left you feeling physically and emotionally worn out?
  • Are you anxious, moody or depressed?
  • Are you having a hard time sleeping?
  • Are you on a roller coaster of ups and downs feeling the need to refuel with sugar to get that energy spike… that only lasts a short time before you feel like crap again?
  • Have you lost all control when it comes to what you’re eating?
  • Are you ready to do something about it?

If so, a sugar detox may just be the answer to set you back on track.

  1. The Big Clean. Set up your environment by removing all the foods currently in your kitchen that contain sugar (or move these to a separate “family” cabinet that you don’t need to open). Read labels to determine if there are any sugars of any kind in the products you eat. Whole foods with no labels should become your norm.
  2. Start with a healthy breakfast.
    Eliminate yogurts with added sugars, granolas, cereals, bread, juices and smoothies, which are all typical morning meals. Sometimes we have to rush out the door in the morning, so it’s a good behavioral shift to have your breakfast items prepared. A poached egg over tomato & avocado salad makes a delicious breakfast or even some hard-boiled eggs ready to grab-and-go if you’re in a rush. Many of us are exceeding the recommended upper limit of sugar for the day before we even head out the door. If you’re curious, take an inventory of what you’re eating for a few days prior to the detox and see where your consumption falls, as it relates to sugar. The suggested upper limit of free sugars1 for men is 37.5 grams (9 teaspoons) and women is 25 grams (6 teaspoons). I cannot stress enough that those numbers are upper limits, so you’ll want to make sure you fall below those numbers. And, for our 3-Day detox, the goal is as few grams of sugar as possible.
  3. Protein, healthy fats and vegetables are your friends. Eat as much as you want of these foods over the 3 days. Cut out breads and pasta, milk, cheeses, potato, fruit and alcohol. Do not add sugar or artificial sweeteners to beverages (your brain doesn’t know the difference).

While it may be tough to get through these 72 hours, the rewards will be worth it! The need for a sugar fix will disappear and headaches and fatigue will go away! This is the start of retraining your taste buds to enjoy food with lower levels of sugar intensity and being able to control portions.

I’m not a fan of “New Year’s Resolutions” which ultimately end in failure. But, rather, I share this information for you to be the one to say, “I’m ready! I can do this! My 3 days starts tomorrow! However, I would strongly recommend that you take advantage of ToBeRe… support and accountability. Proclaim to someone what you are doing or do it with a partner or group. Make a plan for your meals and, if needed, ask for help. You already know what you’re NOT going to eat, but make sure you know what you’re going to eat, too.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions. For those who commit, I have recipes and more specific information on what to eat and how to add natural sugars back into your diet. 

For more information on the dangers of sugar, you can check out my article, The Science Behind Sugar: Be Aware,

Let’s do this! Here is to a healthy and productive 2018!


1Free sugar is defined by the World Health Organization and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in multiple reports as “all monosaccharides and disaccharides added to foods by the manufacturer, cook, or consumer, plus sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, and fruit juices”.

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Preparing for Surgery, Physically and Emotionally

150Amy FriendAugust 10, 2017

It was not my choice to write this article. Truly, I wanted to just quietly slide right in and through this surgery without much ta-dah! However, I got a request, as most of you would guess, from Keith Jones, and so I started to write. At the time I just thought I would be sharing helpful information for someone else – little did I know that the exercise of writing this article would greatly help to move me into a space where I feel confident and powerful and at peace. I am sure this was Keith’s intention all along. And with that, here is my article…

I will be having major foot/ankle surgery next week. While I could easily let my “negative chatter” get the best of me, I know that the anxiety that would come from it will not help to serve me in preparing for this event, physically or emotionally. The hard work is done – recognizing my pain, my limitations, and my prospect for activities in the future; and starting the process to do something about it. While it was a process, I have done my homework and left no stone unturned. I am at peace with my decision. Contributing in a big way towards that peace is the support from my ToBeRe… community who will not allow me to play victim. They have been my source for everything that I need to create a positive mindset. For anyone else that may need to have a similar surgery, I would like to share my experience….. so far.

  1. Talk to your doctor, get referrals and as many opinions as you feel comfortable with. My doctor said, “You need to see an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in feet!” She referred me to two doctors. I saw them both and one more. I also consulted with my podiatrist. Of course, they all want to do their own X-rays, just so you know. One MRI was sufficient.
  2. Research and then research some more! Just as I would Google any and everything to do with nutrition, I became literate on all kinds of medical terminology. It took me a few visits to actually put the 3 words, “Lateral Column Lengthening” together in order to respond intelligently in a conversation. I now know that the word osteotomy means cutting of bone. I’ll be having a couple of those. Posterior tibial tendon, spring ligament, allografts, and the list goes on! My orthopedic surgeon of choice was impressed that I gained this education and it added to my own level of confidence with the decision.
  3. My doctor encouraged second opinions and even invited me to come back to discuss those opinions. I did, and I brought with me a list of questions and a friend for support. I was already comfortable with the decision to schedule surgery.
  4. Meanwhile, I have stuck with my fitness routine and healthy nutrition. There is a small percentage of risk with the bone not healing, but, in my case, that percentage might as well be zero. I’ve never been a smoker and my good health and nutrition will give me every advantage. This, I am in control of. I have already “significantly increased” my bone density over the last several years through consistent healthy eating and strength training.
  5. Now, I prepare. Fortunately, I have been non-weight bearing before, so I am experienced with walking on crutches, but I also know that I have not had anything as invasive as this procedure will be, so I will be ready for anything that comes my way.
  • Get organized. Get rid of the clutter in the house.
  • Buy or borrow medical equipment that you may need – crutches, shower/tub chair, waterproof protectors, etc.
  • Surround yourself with those who feed you the most positive energy and don’t let the negative stories affect your mindset.
  • Listen to uplifting and inspirational podcasts.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. While it may be easy and understandable to focus on the things that you can’t do, it will not do anything to help. Instead, be grateful for all the things that you can do! I will celebrate all gifts no matter how small or big – the opportunity to read, work on my class, learn something new on the computer, watch those movies (that everyone is shocked I haven’t seen), work on the ToBeRe website, meditate, stretch…. this list is growing!
  • Delegate! And, put someone else in charge of delegating! This one will be a good practice for me. While I pride myself on being independent and very strong willed, this will be a time when I can benefit from others’ loving contributions.

Be patient and enjoy the journey! Six years ago I had to be non-weight bearing for a stress fracture. I credit a strong comeback to Keith Jones and ToBeRe… Even though I wasn’t exercising at the same level as everyone else, I showed up every time! Keith gave me a modified workout. If nothing else, I always walked away with an abundance of positive energy! I will put my confidence into ToBeRe’s philosophy again – basically, to trust the process and stay committed. This is easy when all you have to do is show up. Staying connected did everything for my mindset, and studies prove again and again that a positive attitude will take you far and fast on the road to recovery. We all have muscle memory and with the same level of commitment and dedication that I learned when I took my first ToBeRe workshop, I know I will bounce back and be stronger than ever! I will demonstrate again the power of good nutrition and its role in healing. Future foot surgery patients will be googling what kinds of exercise they can do in a cast, and you know what… my videos just may come up!


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How to Let Go of It All So You Can Experience the Present Moment

August 8, 2017

With a keen focus on directing my energy towards the things I can control, I have more love, peace and gratitude in my life these days. And by letting go of things I can’t control, I remove barriers that prevent me from being my happiest and creating winning connections with others. It’s sobering to know that I am solely responsible for how I experience life. Others can contribute, but at the end of the day, it’s up to me. And it all comes down to how much effort and consistency I apply to training my mind to interpret life.

All we have is the present moment. When I was younger, people older and wiser than me would say this. While I heard them, I wasn’t listening very well. I was busy being caught up with achieving and succeeding in life. This meant using the past as motivation to rise above where I started out and the future as a lighthouse guiding me towards what I wanted to accomplish and obtain. It’s no wonder I missed out on all the peace and joy along the way. I didn’t fully appreciate the people around me who provided wonderful examples of how to live in the moment and how the present moment is all that matters. It’s all that is. Everything else is a trap or an illusion. Once I learned this, I began working on how to honor the present and experience it fully. This meant making lots of changes in my mindset.

The first step I needed to take was to stop judging others, myself and life. I had to train myself to stop looking for what was missing in people and wrong with life. I began working on seeing the good in everyone when mistakes are made, rather than passing blame. I acquired new lenses by which to view life’s problems. With lots of practice, I started seeing possibilities and opportunities in situations that I once would’ve reacted in anger and frustration  towards.

The second step involved gaining leverage on my ego; especially when it comes to other people. I make it a practice to extend grace and forgiveness even though it was once much easier to judge and shame others and myself. I gave up the victim identity my ego wanted me to take on, by telling me people wronged, abandoned or betrayed me. Which led to an important question. If I am no longer a victim, then who am I? The answer is free. I get to be free when I let go of all the things my mind chooses to believe and focus on, that only result in anxiety, worry, stress, guilt, blame and shame.

Training the mind to be present in the moment is the only way to be free. Free to be happy, free to love and free to just be. It’s not easy because we are conditioned to operate from a place of fear; even when there are no real threats to our physical being. In the absence of real danger, an untrained mind will create something to be afraid of or react to. A trained mind responds to “perceived” threats by making a choice that results in experiencing peace and gratitude in the present moment. For example, traffic is something you can’t control. However, I used to get angry and frustrated when I felt I was stuck in it. Now whenever in it, I express gratitude for the opportunity to practice patience and mindfulness. I use the time to do a gratitude exercise or listen to a personal development podcast by teachers like Eckhart Tolle or Wayne Dyer.

Another example deals with stress. I use to feel anxiety before certain workouts or business meetings where I was attached to the outcome. I’ve learned that stress, anxiety and worry are created in the mind. And because this is where they originate and I control the mind, I can minimize or eliminate them. The key to doing so is to be present. Occasionally stress and anxiety slip past my defenses and when I feel them, I run through the following steps:

  1. I ask what am I worried about or afraid of? Is it something I can control? If so, take care of it. If it’s an upcoming workout or race, eat clean, train and sleep. Case closed. If it’s something out of my control, let it go because there’s nothing I can do about it anyway and worry won’t change the outcome. Again, case closed.
  2. What if it’s something I really want? A relationship, something material, a different outcome? Attachment and expectations are where all suffering resides. When I let go of attachment to how I want something to go, I’m free from being occupied with what could happen or the “what ifs” if it doesn’t happen so I can focus on what is happening right now. When I’m present, I experience life and the people in it as opposed to life happening around me or to me on my way to something else.
  3. Acceptance. I’ve learned to accept people and situations just as they are instead of resisting the facts about them. And when I say acceptance, I mean being loving and kind in my energy towards them. I love people based on who they are and who they are not, rather than how I think they should be. We are all extensions of each other. To dislike, judge or hate someone is to hate myself. That no longer makes sense to me. And to resist a situation as it shows up in life is a waste of energy and a missed opportunity to create something meaningful from what’s there.

Training the mind is not easy, but if you want a peaceful, loving and happy life, it’s absolutely necessary. It’s true that no one or no-thing can make you happy. Only you can do that. Money, fame, power and relationships won’t do it. But a trained mind rooted in the present, aware of its power to choose how it sees people and things and a commitment to train it, can be make all the difference in the world.


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It’s Easier Than Ever to Become Your Best

May 1, 2017

When it comes to personal development, this is perhaps the best time in human history to be alive. We are the beneficiaries of centuries of scientific research, human trial and error and advances in technology and medicine. It has never been easier for people to live healthy and happy lives. So it begs the question, why are so many people unhealthy and unhappy? I propose that the answer lies in whether or not a person is committed to personal development. Wayne Dyer says, “A person will not outperform  their personal development or habits for long.”

I define personal development as “consistently working on yourself so that you become the best version of you.” A commitment to this will show up in how you love yourself, care for your body and treat others. The bigger priority you place on this in your life, the bigger the reward. You will be healthier, happier and everyone in your life will win bigger. And here’s the kicker, you can achieve and experience all of this for free.

There was a time when the only way to obtain life changing personal development tools and reap their benefits was by hiring a life coach or going to seminars. This can cost thousands of dollars. While totally worth the money, you have other resources at your fingertips that require little to no money. With just an investment of your time and commitment, you can learn from some of the best teachers and coaches on the planet. Every morning, as I’m getting ready for my day, I listen to free podcasts, YouTube or TED videos. For example, if I’m feeling down or overwhelmed by negative self-talk, I do a quick YouTube search for Dr. Wayne Dyer. His videos remind me to be mindful of the things I say to myself and to be loving no matter what is going on in my life.

Personal development is the number one priority in my life. I see it as an opportunity to practice extreme self-care. It’s not about being perfect. Rather, it’s consistently and deliberately working every day to be the best me so that I win and others in my life get the best of me instead of what’s left of me. As a result of making personal development paramount, optimal is the adjective that best describes my health. Positive self-talk is my inner dialogue. Unconditionally loving is how I show up for the people in my life and the strangers I meet. And solution-driven is my mindset when dealing with challenges that come my way.

If you want to operate at your personal best, I encourage you to work on your inner being. It’s never been easier to do. While you’re in the shower, making breakfast or driving to work, put on a podcast. Some of my favorites include OPTIMIZE with Brian Johnson, Les Brown, Tara Brach and Wayne Dyer.  Listen with an open mind and watch your life evolve. Mine certainly has.


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My Shift In Mindset

March 27, 2017

A recent snowboarding trip drove home how a person’s mindset determines their life experience and level of happiness.  A simple, but powerful shift in attitude can make all the difference in the world. It was just a few short years ago that situations I once saw as limiting, are now filled with possibilities. Same set of facts, just a different mindset and much better results.

It was early February and I was on a 5-day Tahoe ski trip to celebrate my birthday. My season pass and plane ticket were secured several months earlier. My snowboard was waxed and I was ready to go. Mother Nature had other plans. Rain and 90-100 mph winds shut down all the ski resorts for the week I was in town. To my surprise, I didn’t get upset by this. Instead, I looked for the gift in the situation. The closures gave me lots of time to work on several projects in my ToBeRe queue. I got so much work done on my trip. I left the Tahoe area feeling calm, accomplished and grateful. The old me would have been upset, disappointed and annoyed by it all. These are all useless reactions that don’t produce results and steal away any hidden joy in the moment.

Fast forward a month later, I headed back to Tahoe for round 2 on the slopes. This time the weather was perfect. I had only one goal while on my trip. I wanted to work out one morning before heading to the mountain. Exercising on the road is something that Tim Zencka and Pat Marcanio have inspired me to do. These guys begin every morning away lifting weights or going on a run. Oftentimes it’s before or after a 10-hour work day. Motivated by their example, I did a google search for a quality gym with a squat rack. Everyone knows how committed I am to squats. The only thing I needed was a ride to the gym since I didn’t rent a car. I silenced fear of the unknown, and downloaded the Uber app for my first experience with the service. Tim was right. It was so easy. I was picked up in 2 minutes, at the gym in 8 and working out. My day on the slopes was incredible.

A shift in mindset focused on what’s possible versus limiting thoughts can produce powerful outcomes. The ability to do this didn’t happen overnight for me. This is a skill I’ve had to work on daily. My diligence has paid off in a big way. Here’s how you can do it too:

  1. Make having a positive outlook, regardless of the situation, important to you.
  2. Practice awareness of situations in your life. When something occurs that’s not to your liking, try to see the possibilities. What’s the gift in the situation? How can your time best be used? Being upset, frustrated and worried? Or calm, patient and open to possibilities?
  3. Take action to produce something good in the face of the situation or challenge. In other words, have something positive to show for it.

A positive shift in mindset produces results and helps you grow. You see, the time is going to pass regardless of how you feel about the situation. You have a choice about how your time and energy are spent. You can spend it holding limiting thoughts and beliefs or building a mental skill set that changes your life experience and increases your level of happiness.


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Self-Mastery: Control How You See Things

February 9, 2017

It has taken me half my life to practice what I was taught in my youth about how self-mastery produces happiness and inner peace. What a journey it’s been to get to this point. Along the way, I’ve felt a great deal of disappointment and anger; each time blaming life and others for not living up to my expectations. There was almost no ownership of my role in determining how I felt or chose to experience life. As a child, family members and teachers saw something special in me. They also noticed how I reacted when things didn’t turn out they way I thought they should. I berated life for being uncooperative, accused others of not trying harder and blamed myself for putting my fate in someone else’s hands. These wise people would say to me, “Keith, if you want to be happy, you need to learn how to let go of things outside of your control and direct your energy towards mastering yourself. Choose not to be angry, when your ego pulls you in that direction. Let go of perceived slights or broken promises by others. Release it all to make room for peace and gratitude to feel the space.” Great advice, I know, but I didn’t understand how I could possibly do it.

As I grew older and accomplished more, I found myself getting angry, disappointed and hurt more easily if things didn’t go my way. This seemed backwards to me. Why wasn’t I happier, more grateful and peaceful with each goal achieved? Why was I constantly upset about the past and worried about the future? And why was it so difficult for me to experience happiness in the present moment? The mind is an incredible researcher and problem solver if you ask it the right questions. Like a computer, my brain recalled conversations and wisdom I’d heard and read about the keys to living a happy and peaceful life. It all came back to mastery of self. While I can’t control how life shows up, how people treat me or whether I accomplish the mission, I can control how I see and experience it all. This timeless truth empowered me.

I did one important thing as I set my heading on this new course towards happiness and inner peace. I told myself that success would not come in an instant. This would be a life long journey similar to that of healthy living. One day of working out and eating a salad doesn’t make one healthy for life. It’s making those things daily rituals that do. And so it was true of living the kind of life I wanted for myself. So each day, I set out to be a little better than I was the day before at accepting life however it showed up, not finding fault or blame in others and staying present to beauty, goodness and lessons in the present moment.

It’s been 3 years since I’ve made self-mastery a top priority in my life. And of all the gifts I’ve given myself, this is the greatest one. If weather conditions like high winds and rain close down Lake Tahoe resorts on a ski trip during my birthday week, I accept it and turn my attention to the positives. The additional moisture is good for climate and water ways. And the closures free me up to finish projects sooner. If someone close to me breaks a commitment, I look internally and purposely recall times in which I’ve broken promises to be my best with others. Upon doing this, I immediately let the perceived slight go and feel unconditional love for the person. And when I fall short of a stated goal, I take a moment to remember that “it’s not win or lose, it’s win and learn.” I ask myself what I learned from the experience and make a commitment to course correct and implement the lesson next time.

Self-mastery takes commitment and hard work. It is the hardest task I’ve ever undertaken. And it’s also the most worthwhile. I’m happier than I’ve ever been because I choose to be. I hope you will be too.

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Who Answers Your Door When Opportunity Knocks?

150Keith JonesDecember 17, 2016

Opportunity is all around you and it’s constantly knocking. If you don’t see or hear it, it’s because you’re not looking and listening. Trust me, it’s there. The first step in taking advantage of opportunity is recognizing it when it shows up. The next step is taking action with hard work.

The key to being present to opportunity is an open and strong mindset. What does that look like? First, you have a beginners mind versus one of an expert. The latter hears almost everything from the space of “that idea won’t work, I’ve already tried that or that’s not better than what I’m already doing”. They only consider one to two things they can do differently to produce the result they want. But the mind of the  beginner is a totally different thing in every way. It is open and coachable. It sees hundreds, if not thousands of possibilities in every opportunity.

This brings us to the next step in running with the opportunities life gives us. The saying goes, “When opportunity knocks, hard work answers the door”. That’s right. It’s not enough to simply see good fortune. You have to do something with it. Take the gift and apply hard work to it and you will realize the full potential of it. For most of my life, I couldn’t swim. Many people offered to help me. I made up excuses all the time of why I couldn’t do it. Then one day, I shifted my mindset and said yes to a teacher. To accomplish my goal of swimming a mile in the ocean, I had to apply hard work. I met with the instructor one hour per week each Friday. Then five other days of the week, I practiced the drills she gave me for an hour each day. The opportunity my coach gave me combined with my hard work produced astounding results. I did more than complete the triathlon swim. I disappeared a fear of water and learned a skill I will have the rest of my life.

Look around you. Who and what are the opportunities you’re ignoring in your life? What are you allowing to distract you? If you want great health, fitness and a toned body, the community that can help you achieve it is probably right in front of your face. Get present to it. If you want to shift careers or grow your business, the mentor who can help you pivot and accomplish your goal is probably already someone you know. Clear your life of distraction so you can partner with them. And once you’ve done these things, commit to the hard work it takes to produce extraordinary results. It will be worth it.

If you want to take your life to the next level, click here to begin one on one coaching with me today.

Be Strong!


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We Have A Powerful Gift: The Power To Choose

150Keith JonesSeptember 14, 2016

This blog is a reminder and celebration of one of our greatest gifts. It’s the power of choice.  This gift means we can choose to create victory out of seeming defeat. We can be champions rather than victims. We can gift ourselves and others compassion, empathy and love instead of feeling guilt and passing blame and judgment. No matter how daunting and bleak life may seem, we can always create a new path and outcome with the choices we make. Knowing this makes me feel empowered and unstoppable.

It begins with choosing our thoughts and behavior. Our experience of life is a direct result of how we think. Loving yourself starts with accepting who you are, your gifts, talents, imperfections and all. Choose to hold positive and loving thoughts about people, the world and yourself. See the challenges in life not as things done to you, but rather things done for you. This powerful shift in your thinking takes you from a victim mindset to one of a champion.

When I was going into the military, I listed the east coast as the part of the country I wanted to be stationed at. This would allow me to be close to my family in Tennessee. After boot camp, I received orders to report to Yuma, Arizona. I was disappointed and very angry. I blamed the government for not keeping their commitment to me. Blame is such a low level energy that produces the exact opposite of what we really want. I didn’t know it at the time but I was thinking like a victim and my behavior soon followed suit. My first two years in the southwest were spent contacting my recruiter and writing my congressman about the injustice. I told anyone who would listen how I had been wronged. Then one day a friend gave me Tony Robbins’ book, Awaken The Giant Within. After a just few pages I realized how much precious time I had wasted by thinking and behaving like a victim. I had become a cynical person about the government, people and life in general. How much better could my life had been served, if I had chosen to see my time in southern Arizona as an opportunity to learn Spanish, take evening college courses and visit west coast cities.

Fast forward to today and my mindset is completely different thanks to the lessons I learned twenty five years earlier. Now I am a big believer in the importance of training my mindset by learning a new skill in much the same way as I train my body. With discipline and commitment I read personal development books and listen to inspirational podcasts each morning. This directly shapes the choices I make during the day. Do my thoughts, behavior and choices move me closer to my goal? Am I loving, compassionate and forgiving to others? Do the people in my life make me better or distract me from who I can be? Do I value my gifts and honor them by using them daily to serve others instead of allowing outside noise to distract me? Do I hold myself accountable when I fall short of who I can be? Do I apologize when I’ve let others and myself down? Do I have a leader and champion’s mindset? Do I truly love myself and others? And does my behavior reflect this?

Thankfully I’ve gotten a few more chances to choose since my days in the Marines. One occurred a little over a year ago. Admittedly, it took me a little bit of time to find my footing and accept responsibility for my role in the incident. But as soon as I did, I began making choices consistent with someone who is not perfect but rather committed to learning from their failures and trying to get better each day. I chose not to be a victim or pass blame or take it on myself. I made a choice to learn, grow and be better. I chose to accept things as they were “and grow where I was planted.”

The power to choose is our most important gift. Wherever you are and whatever you’re going through, you can chart a new course by exercising your power to choose. Ask yourself the questions above. The rewards that come from choosing wisely are limitless.

Stronger Mindset!

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