The staff of HopeWay, Charlotte’s nonprofit mental health center that offers residential and day treatment for adults in a first-class setting, knows that it’s healthy for women to invest in themselves.

They recommend working “me” time into your everyday routine as a way to bring balance into your life and nuture your mental health.

If that sounds unattainbable, take inspiration from the ways some of HopeWay’s female staff makes time for their own favorite healthy activities, which they relayed in a recent edition of HopeWay Matters, the center’s monthly newsletter.

Sharing their tips are (from left) Ama Owusuaa, Jordan Conner, Elizabeth Rhoads, Megan Gregg and Katy Hollingsworth.

“For me, it is fitness. I exercise 5 days a week, which helps set me up for my day and also helps with my mood and maintaining a healthy diet. I like to mix it up to keep from getting bored - bootcamp, boxing and weight training are my favorites."
Ama Owusuaa, MEd, LPC, NCC, Primary Therapist

“In my me-time free-time, I like to engage in yoga, meditation and mindfulness, art projects and TED talks. I know that my health depends on me taking time for myself. This doesn't mean I'm always the best at self-care, but that I'm aware of what helps me to be my best self.”
Jordan Conner, ATR-P, Art Therapist and Front Desk Coordinator

”During my free moments, I enjoy taking photographs. Photos allow you to look back at a time and place that is impossible to reproduce, and conjure memories and feelings from that moment. Photos bring me joy, happiness and excitement.”
Elizabeth Rhoads, Chief Operations Officer

“I never thought I'd be a morning person, but it is now my very favorite part of the day. While the house (and the world) is still quiet, I enjoy a hot cup of coffee while reading or praying in my recliner. The best part is having my Cavalier curled up on my lap sound asleep!”
Megan Gregg, Development & Marketing Associate

“I enjoy taking my dogs for walks, reading, catching up on a good TV show, spending time with my sisters, going for a hike, kayaking or laying in my hammock.”
Katy Hollingsworth, MA, LPC, Admissions Specialist

HIT THE PAUSE BUTTON

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The old saying is true: Time really does seem to speed up as we get older. But a monastic tradition called The Seven Sacred Pauses that’s been around for thousands of years may help us slow down and appreciate each day.

It may not be realistic to stop and acknowledge them all, but pausing for no more than a minute to reflect and pray during these seven specific times is a simple way to increase our gratitude and inner peace, which reduces stress.

Dawn, The Awakening Hour. At the break of day, around 5:30 or 6 a.m., set the tone for the day by opening your heart to its possibilities and asking for guidance.

Midmorning, The Blessing Hour. Around 9 or 10 a.m., when our days can sometimes start to feel overwhelming as to-lo lists kick in, stop to reflect and reset your thoughts into a positive place.

Noon, The Hour of Illumination. This is when the sun is in its most powerful position. Taking several deep breaths will help you focus on reenergizing yourself and give you a fresh outlook on the day.

Midafternoon, The Wisdom Hour. At 3 p.m. when the sun begins to descend is a time to let go of any stress or worry that’s built up over the day.

Evening, The Twilight Hour. Take a moment to be aware of the sunset and how it represents the end of a day and the hope of a new beginning tomorrow.

Bedtime, The Great Silence. Around 9 or 10 p.m. before going to sleep, stop to reflect on the day and evaluate any lessons you’ve learned.

After midnight, The Night Watch. If you wake up and find yourself not being able to sleep, think of it as a gift and use the time to pray for others or make a mental gratitude list.

To learn more about this ancient practice, read Macrina Wiederkehr's bestselling book, Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day,

DRY JANUARY

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One of the newest health trends, Dry January, Is similar to a Whole 30 plan, but instead of cutting out carbs and sugar you commit to not drinking any alcohol for 30 days.

Even though it’s called Dry January, you can actually do it anytime during any month as long as you sustain your commitment for 30 consecutive days.

Reports from those who have taken the challenge reveal that many end up feeling so great they decide to either quit drinking permanently, or drastically reduce their alcohol intake going forward

One of the tools participants use is finding satisfying mocktails or other non-alcoholic beverage replacements. And it’s a great excuse to drink more water. Sparkling waters such as LaCroix or Perrier jazzed up with fruit slices or splashes of your favorite fruit juices can help take the edge off.

Losing a few pounds is a nice bonus of the plan, but don’t expect to see dramatic results on the scale. A loss of around four pounds over the 30 days is typical.

A BALANCED APPROACH TO FITNESS AND NUTRITION

Michael Anders, head trainer and owner of Shape Up Fitness & Wellness Consulting, specializes in helping his clients navigate the various stressors in life so they'll have a more balanced approach to health, fitness and nutrition. 

Anders has a Masters Degree in Sports Science, Sports Medicine. He especially enjoys focusing on post-injury recovery and coaching his clients to help get their eating under control or optimize it for their sports and activities.

During the Living the Good Life As A Woman In 2018 event organized by financial advisor Alison Rowe of Baird Private Wealth Management, he shared his top tips. 

Set Realistic Goals

  • To increase your success, set a goal to fix one negative habit at a time because success breeds success

  • A goal should have a 90% chance of success at a minimum

  • When setting a goal, don't include the words "never" or "always"

  • If you find the goal you set isn't doable, reduce it until it is possible

Nutrition

  • Eat meals slowly (slow eaters eat less food and reach satiation earlier)

  • Eat until you're 80% full

  • Eat mindfully without distractions (no phones or TV) because people who eat without distractions are more cued into their hunger/appetite feelings

  • Focus on having protein with each meal

  • Nutrition is a crucial element in any fitness transformation so start working on making healthier food choices as quickly as possible

Fitness

  • Don't overcommit by saying you'll exercise 5 or 6 times a week - that's unrealistic

  • Aim to exercise 3 times a week

  • Something is better than nothing: even if you just exercise for 10 minutes a day that adds up

 

 

 

 

Fitness and nutrition expert Michael Anders of Shape Up Fitness & Wellness Consulting.

Fitness and nutrition expert Michael Anders of Shape Up Fitness & Wellness Consulting.

THE STAR OF HOLIDAY PARTY FOOD

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Be the star of your holiday party with this healthy and festive option for the buffet table, a Broccoli Tree. It's among the recipes featured in the Christmas issue of Woman's World magazine. 

Start by taking a 9"x4" Styrofoam cone. Wrap it in plastic wrap. Using 14 cups of broccoli florets, trim the ends flat and insert a toothpick into each floret. Starting at the bottom of the cone and working around it in rows, insert the toothpicks with florets until the tree is covered. Transfer the tree to a serving plate. 

Cut red peppers in half lengthwise; then cut crosswise into 1/4"-wide strips. Cut one yellow pepper in half lengthwise. Using a 2-1/4" star-shaped cookie cutter, cut star shapes from one piece.  Cut the remaining piece crosswise into 1/4"-wide strips. Using a 1" star-shapped cookie cutter, cut out shapes from carrots cut into 1/4"-thick slices.

Arrange pepper strips on tree, tucking ends in between florets, leaving about 1/2" sticking out. Press cherry tomatoes and carrot stars onto toothpicks and insert them in between florets to hold vegetables on tree. Tuck radish slices in between florets. Insert toothpick into edge of yellow pepper star; insert into top of tree.

If not serving immediately, lightly drape damp paper towels over tree, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Serve with your favorite dip. 

 

 

HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY

Go head, tell them what you think. Just be nice about it. 

Go head, tell them what you think. Just be nice about it. 

It's true! Honesty really is the best policy according to new research from the University of California San Diego's Emotion Lab. An article about the research in Spry Living magazine reported that the researchers found that "prosocial" lies - the little lies we tell others in order to not hurt their feelings - makes us feel good in the moment, but guilty later.

The reason behind this reaction is actually very sweet: We tend to lie to people we care about. The researchers advise people to try "gentle honesty" instead. So, for example, when a friend or family member asks you if you like their new hair style, and you hate it, say something along the lines of, "I'm partial to when you wear it longer," or whatever the case may be. The main thing is to be honest because you want the other person to trust you, but don't be be harsh or blunt. 

FLU SHOT STUDY

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Ready or not, flu season is here.

If you're planning on getting a flu shot, you may be interested to know a new study from British scientists claims that getting vaccinated in the morning is ideal. Those in the study who got their flu shots between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. produced more antibodies (think of them as mini flu fighters) than those who were vaccinated in the afternoon.