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The Difference Between a Bad Habit and an Addiction

Is stopping by the bar after work every evening for two martinis a bad habit, or an addiction? Read on.

Is stopping by the bar after work every evening for two martinis a bad habit, or an addiction? Read on.

A new study suggests that drinking a bottle of wine a week increases the risk of cancer in women as much as smoking ten cigarettes, and that drinking three bottles of wine a week means that an extra thirty six women out of a thousand will develop cancer. Research over the past few years has turned the purported health benefits of alcohol on its head, particularly when it’s women who are drinking.

Nearly half of the clients I work with have a goal of cutting back on drinking, or quitting altogether. But, it can get tricky to discern between a bad habit and an addiction. Each require different paths of treatment, and impact the person in very unique ways. By the way, this does not only apply to alcohol, but to food, exercise, smoking, prescription drugs, and even sex and love. So, how are you supposed to know if you’ve got a bad habit or an addiction? Can someone who drinks “only” two glasses of wine every night be addicted?

A bad habit is an ingrained, learned pattern of behavior propelled by a stimulus and a response. It’s got a straightforward, routine quality to it, and a complete change can be made to break it within a period of a few months. An addiction is a complex and inflexible repeated behavior influenced by psychological, physiological and social factors. It’s often a coping mechanism for dealing with trauma or stressful emotions, and serves as both a distraction and a container that becomes increasingly necessary to function over time… until that coping mechanism caves in on itself. 

Whereas a bad habit can often be viewed as a nuisance or thoughtless behavioral pattern, an addiction is all-consuming, and will eventually erode your career, health, primary relationships, and self-esteem.

An addiction has an enticing quality, not unlike a secret lover—you’ll find yourself hiding, sneaking around, compromising, and making excuses over and over again.

Addictions and disorders — like an alcohol use disorder — trample over willpower and thrive on self-deception. As much as you say that you’re not going to drink for a week or a month, it may be all you can think about until finally, you rationalize caving in by telling yourself that you never really had a problem to begin with. Changing a habit can be hard work, but going to battle with an addiction often requires giving it everything you’ve got while altering your life constructs in the process.

So, to answer the question, “can someone who drinks only two glasses of wine every night be addicted?” YES. It is not the quantity that matters, but the consequences of that behavior and the difficulty in changing. 

For me, I knew that my relationship with alcohol had become an addiction when I could not stop drinking on my own, even though I’d given myself little challenges for years (Drynuary, “cleansing,” etc.). There were multiple consequences from my drinking which had started to impact my health, my relationships and my personal integrity. Alcohol had become my potion to suppress painful emotions and trauma. It took asking for help, and committing to addiction-focused treatment, to finally quit drinking (this year, I celebrate a decade of freedom from alcohol and cigarettes).

Action:

On the top of a sheet of paper, write down one behavior that is keeping you from living the life you desire. Fold it into two columns. In the first column, list all the consequences of that behavior. In the second column, write down all the potential positive aspects of changing that behavior. 

Power Question: 

In what ways is a bad habit or an addiction impacting your life? How might you be able to discern between whether it’s a habit or an addiction?

Thanks for reading! Have you struggled to discern between a bad habit or an addiction? Did something in this post resonate with you? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

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A Few Notes on The Quantified Self

Technology is a double-edged sword. Lifelogging can help you use it to your advantage.

Technology is a double-edged sword. Lifelogging can help you use it to your advantage.

A friend recently took to calling me the “bionic woman,” but it has nothing to do with using superhuman powers in service of my government. 

On the back of my arm, you’ll spot a blood glucose monitor, which I use to keep an eye on blood sugar levels. On my pointer finger, there’s an Oura Ring, which tracks sleep quality and heart rate variability. On my wrist, you’ll spot a smart watch, which counts daily steps, heart rate, and daily exercise. My menstrual cycle is logged in an app, as well as a host of other factors related to my hormones. I often enter my food intake and macronutrients on my phone, and I take note of my daily mood and the quality of each day in a goals-oriented planner. Excel is a good friend; once in a while, I’ll make an account of every minute spent over a week to figure out where I’m leaking time. I’ve also journaled since the age of 8 or so, taking note of most important conversations and events. In my religious life, I try and take at least a once-weekly inventory of where I’m missing the mark. Oh, and progress on my goals has been color-coded since 2009 (red, yellow, green). Perhaps this is one reason I became a coach!

Ok, maybe you wouldn’t call me a bionic woman. Maybe you’d call me obsessive, fanatical, neurotic, an extreme naval gazer. Whatever label one may slap onto this behavior, I am part of a growing community that subscribes to the practice of lifelogging, otherwise known as The “Quantified Self.”

The Oura ring provides sleep data, heart rate variability, and tracks daily activity levels.

The Oura ring provides sleep data, heart rate variability, and tracks daily activity levels.

This movement focuses on self-experimentation and self-knowledge using numbers, with the goal of enhancing happiness, performance, and health through the collection and analysis of data. By taking ownership of one’s health information, one can also handle medical challenges in a more empowered and informed manner, and perhaps avoid energy derailments, unnecessary prescriptions and medical misdiagnoses. As a coach and an avid practitioner of lifelogging, I know that this practice can be a lifesaver.

As an example, a few years ago a doctor in Singapore diagnosed me with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. “Take six months off and rest,” he advised. “There’s nothing else you can really do about it.” He said he saw this a lot in women “like me,” and that he had just diagnosed a lawyer and personal trainer with it as well. Admitting I was devastated by this news is an understatement. Based on my lifelogging data and research as well as a dose of intuition, however, I was able to conclude that his diagnosis was likely incorrect —there was something else going on. Taking the information I’d gathered to other specialists eventually led to the right diagnosis— a condition that has since been easily managed by keeping an eye on glucose levels and making a radical dietary shift.

In my coaching practice, these kinds of stories come up all the time. I also get to witness the many successes that arise from self-tracking. For people who have highly sensitive bodies or who lean toward being “feelers” more than “thinkers”, lifelogging can be particularly grounding, providing a kind of reality check. We’re in an age where industries that are supposed to support our well-being have become increasingly predatory. Our well being is thus hinged on taking more responsibility over our health by “knowing thyself” and doing our own research. Lifelogging has many benefits, and will only take about ten to fifteen minutes out of your day. We have little control over the things that may happen to us in life. Why not optimize the small sliver that we do have?

Action: Try out one form of lifelogging for a week. 

Power Question: How might lifelogging help you toward your goals?

As always, thanks for reading! Is Lifelogging a topic of interest to you? Let me know in the comments, as well as how you’re using it to improve your health!

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Go Tiny! Aim Big! 

The small boulder and the mighty mountain peak share a few things in common…

The small boulder and the mighty mountain peak share a few things in common…

“If you want to change your life, you’ve got to have a goal that’s big enough to inspire you. Go big, or go home!”

“Change only happens incrementally. The tinier the shift, the easier it is to modify a behavior. Tiny habits rule!”

I’m betting that a lot of you reading this right now have come across both schools of thought. However, despite being treated as dueling approaches, micro-habits and big goals hang out together on the same curb.

Tiny Habits, an approach developed by Stanford behavioral researcher, BJ Fogg, is based on the premise that if we adopt a new habit that’s super easy to stick with, we’ll eventually make our way to the bigger goal by encouraging a snowball effect. From his research, Fogg concluded that only three things will change behavior in the long term: a) an epiphany b) a new environment and c) taking baby steps.

Since most of us won’t be able to uproot ourselves and epiphanies tend to be sort of rare, we’re left with learning from our earliest self. 

Fogg’s outlined three steps to implementing a tiny habit: 

1) You need to GET SPECIFIC. What behavior do you want to change? What outcome would you like to have?

2)  You’ve got to KEEP IT SIMPLE. How can you make the behavior easy to do? 

3).  You’ll want to TRIGGER THE BEHAVIOR. For example, you might say, “every morning after I brush my teeth, I’ll do ten pushups.” The trigger is brushing your teeth, and the Tiny Habit is ten pushups. 

What will prompt you to engage in the behavior? Does your trigger already exist, or will you need to create it from scratch? 

Finally, Fogg emphasizes that after you complete the Tiny Habit, you’ve got to celebrate. That could be as small as yodeling “Woohoo!” or giving yourself a pat on the back.

I’m a big fan of Tiny Habits and have shared Fogg’s principles in many corporate wellness talks. Visualizing big goals, like quitting smoking and running a marathon, coupled with beginning your journey to that goal by implementing a Tiny Habit, like lacing up your running shoes each morning after you finish breakfast, is a sure path to celebration. 

Action: 

Check out BJ Fogg’s TED talk on Tiny Habits, and then try it out for yourself! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdKUJxjn-R8)

Power Question: 

What Tiny Habit could you cultivate in working toward a bigger goal? What’s the trigger for that Tiny Habit? 

This is post #3 in a long series on habit change. Do you have any thoughts on big goals and Tiny Habits? Have you tried the Tiny Habits method before? Leave your comments below! Thanks for reading!

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  Minding Your Mind in the Morning

How will you frame your mindset in the morning?  Photo: Penang, Malaysia

How will you frame your mindset in the morning?

Photo: Penang, Malaysia

Each morning, most of us have the ability to direct the mood of our day. We can either carry our subconscious fears, nightmares and anxieties into breakfast and beyond. Or, we can redecorate the rooms of our mind to create a more pleasant atmosphere. Consider Austrian psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl. During his imprisonment in a Nazi concentration camp where he witnessed catastrophic loss and death firsthand, Frankl immersed himself in positive memory and the imagery of hope, which he credits for his survival. After his release, he developed logotherapy, a therapeutic method that focuses on increasing one’s will by locating a sense of meaning through the mind’s creation. Closer to home, it can safely be said that Singapore’s founder, Lee Kuan Yew, was able to see beyond the malarial swamp that is now a glittering global success story. And, a highly cited study conducted by The Cleveland Clinic Foundation found that simply visualizing exercise led to greater muscle activation levels and improved overall outcomes. In other words, participants gained significant strength through mental training. There are countless examples to support the real power of visualization. 

Morning visualization—“seeing” our day in our minds when we first wake up—has three distinct benefits. First, it gives you the opportunity to reprogram your subconscious mind on a daily basis. Studies on neuroplasticity provide ample evidence that we can indeed rewire our brains. But, in order to fill in those old negative grooves, we’ve got to create new mental images. Second, visualization in the morning will better prepare you to actually do the things that you’d like to do. If I can imagine enjoying and completing a thirty minute run before the sun rises, I’ll be a lot more motivated to lace up those running shoes instead of staying in bed. Third, morning visualization enhances what’s within your control. We encounter so many circumstances each day that are beyond our making: traffic jams, a grumpy boss, an after-work party with lots of alcohol and unhealthy food. Visualization prepares you to focus on what you can change instead of orienting your mind toward frustration. 

Visualization is a superpower that all of us possess.

What’s happening around us can have less of an impact on our reality than what’s happening within us. When you consistently seed your mind with life generating thoughts, the world around you flourishes and you’ll begin to see yourself bloom, too. 

Now, here’s something for you to try…

Action:

You’ve just awoken. Set a timer for 60 seconds and visualize your desired day ahead. Then, plan the day out based on that visualization, focusing on what’s within your control. 

Power Question:  

What does my ideal day look like? Write it out!

Thanks for reading! Any thoughts on this post? Leave them in the comments section below. This is post #1 in an extended series on habit change that will help you reflect on your health behaviors and take positive action. More on that later!

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This New Viral Campaign Message Isn't Doing Women Any Favors. Here's Why.

Organic Valley YouTube commercial 

Organic Valley YouTube commercial 

Organic Valley has just launched a new campaign, “Real Morning Report”, detailing the busy woman’s typical morning routine, while asserting that we ladies actually have no time at all for the airy fairy business of sunrise yoga, journaling, or meditating over our artisanal kombucha cups. Before you give this post a read, I suggest watching the 90 second commercial so you too can have the opportunity to gleefully exclaim “this is awesome!”, which I also did for a hot second before giving the messaging further thought.

At the time of writing this blog, I’ve been receiving an increasing number of inquiries from working women- many of them mothers- who are burned out and physically ill, with concerns ranging from depression and anxiety, adrenal fatigue, thyroid and hormonal issues, and excessive weight gain. A few fellow business owners have recently admitted that the stress of their lives has taken a significant toll on their bodies and energy levels, which I can definitely relate to. And, my decade of burning the candle at both ends may have also caught up to me as I now contend with a suboptimal thyroid. 

Studies show that women are more deeply impacted by stress on a physical and emotional level in comparison to men, due to our body chemistry and our hard-wired impulse reactions. We’re more likely to try and negotiate or “fix” a stressful situation, whereas men respond with fight or flight. And, as more of us make the decision to have it all- kids, marriage, the high-flying career, as well as an enviable hobby or two- stress-related conditions are skyrocketing, including depression, suicide and substance abuse. In the US, women are reporting higher levels of stress at work; in Singapore, the situation is likely similar. From my view as a therapist and coach to many brilliant and successful women, I can tell you that what we’re doing is not serving us. It’s not working for our bodies, our mental health, our families, and our happiness.  My best guess is that we’re putting so much pressure on ourselves to taste those golden carrots that we’ve forgotten how to feed our intuition and thereby tap into what we truly need.  So, why the hell are we celebrating doing more of what is harming us?

Organic Valley is right. Most women won’t have time for a morning routine that allows them to reflect and nurture themselves… unless they actually make it a top priority in their lives.  However, what would happen if we stopped feeding the beast? What if we reclaimed our power to draw hard boundaries, say “No,” and care for ourselves instead of buying into the idea that, in order to succeed, we have to completely sacrifice our own needs? And on that note, why must we continuously subscribe to one definition of success anyway- that success is managing an outwardly perfect family, gaining career notoriety, and skipping breakfast most mornings? I’m sure a few of you reading this would like to push me off a ledge right now. “What do you know about real life- you’re a coach!” you may be thinking. Or, “just shut up, you don’t have kids- you have no idea!” Yeah yeah, you’re not the first. But, the fact is, I used to be that lady in the Organic Valley commercial, the one running to my corporate job in Rockefeller Center, eating my first meal of the day at noon- a deli sandwich and chips- behind my computer, feeling crappy and tired most of the time. And yes, you’re correctamundo- I don’t have kids, and I'm not going to pretend to understand all the complexities involved in raising babies. However, most of the women I work with do, as do many of my friends, and the biggest difference I see between the moms who set their alarm clocks a half an hour earlier so they can do their yoga and the ones who don’t is CHOICE & PRIORITIES.

I’m going to guess that most of you reading this are privileged enough to be able to design life as you see fit, to some extent. In Singapore, some of us have the massive bonus of live-in helpers to assist with the cooking, the housecleaning and the childcare. I could still be that lady in the Organic Valley commercial- completely harried, running to the office with a third cup of coffee in hand, pouring all my free time into wine o’clock. But, I made a really tough series of choices. I quit drinking. I got off my anti-depressants. I quit my job. And, I took a long, hard look at the difference between the life I desired having and the one I had been living. While my husband was supportive, I did not have a family I could rely on. I had hefty student loan debt. And, I carried all of the emotional baggage of a woman who operated in survival mode. With tough decisions, came a morning routine. When I began my health & recovery journey, I started journaling each morning, and running. For those first few months, I skipped a lot of days, slept in. But, eventually, my morning routine became a practice, a version of which still directs most of my days- not all, but most- six and a half years later.

Let’s not pit women against each other in regard to their choices. Just because some chick makes time for her tea ceremony or downward dogs in the morning does not mean that she is any better or worse than the one racing frantically to work, extra strength espresso in hand. It just means that she has different priorities, and that she’s designed another way of being. If you’re cheering on this brilliant commercial while simultaneously feeling drained, depressed and unfulfilled, I ask you to simply take a look at your own priorities, without judgement. What are you running toward… or away from? And, what will it take for you to actually make the time to honor yourself?

p.s. and yes, dry shampoo IS one of the best inventions ever.

What's your take? Have you tried to carve out a morning routine? Do you feel like this Organic Valley commercial is on the mark... or completely misses the point? Leave your thoughts in the comments section- as always, I'd love to hear from you. Did you love this post? If so, do share! 

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Ten Surefire Ways to Sabotage Your Sober Ambitions

Now that Drynuary has officially ended, I’m counting down the days until I’ll inevitably receive an email which reads something like this:

Dear Aimee,
I’m reaching out to you because I’d like to get some control over my drinking. I’m a social drinker who enjoys around 4-5 drinks most nights, but it’s getting in the way of my goals now and my body doesn’t feel too great either. I quit drinking for Drynuary- 31 days with no alcohol, yay!- and I thought that would give me a chance to reset, but now I’m drinking more than ever before. I’d like to quit drinking for good- sort of. I mean, I’d like to quit drinking but eventually be able to go out and have a glass of wine or two with friends once in a while. Balance- balance is key! Can you help? Signed, Frustrated


If this brain train sounds familiar, it may be because the vast majority of women with an alcohol use disorder think and behave in this manner. First, they realize that their drinking is getting out of hand. Then, they take on some type of “sober challenge”- there are even businesses that faciliate entire programs around a short-term sobriety stint. After succeeding at the challenge by resisting booze for a month or two, they reflect back on how easy it actually was to give up the sauce and then they decide to drink again- in moderation, of course! A few weeks or months down the road, they discover that they’re drinking more than ever. They really crave alcohol now, they’re not sure if moderation is possible anymore, and that begins to scare the crap out of them. Embarrassing memories of drunken nights resurface, and they develop a new awareness about how alcohol is actually impacting their dreams, as well as the people they care about. Finally, they come to a crossroads: they will either admit to themselves that there’s a problem and commit to do whatever it takes to quit drinking for good, or they’ll continue to drink as usual, awaiting a new beginning to “get it right” next Drynuary, or Sober October.

I know this path all too well- it’s one I followed for a number of years before finally becoming serious about my sobriety in 2009 and, as a coach and counsellor, it’s one I read about in my inbox every single week. If you’re determined to lose the booze, I’d like you to forget for a minute about what you need to do to make that happen and focus instead on some surefire ways to sabotage this goal. Here are ten ways to completely wreck your sober ambitions:

1. Fudge the truth about your drinking: You either have a problem with alcohol or you don’t. You’re either able to stop at one glass of wine or you’re not. While alcohol use disorders fall on a spectrum with both severity and impacts ranging widely, if you’re even on that sliding scale, it will serve you well to come to terms with it. Are you lying to yourself about how much you drink? Do you feel like you’re making excuses for your drinking behaviors? If you’re seeking clarity on the difference between a healthy relationship with alcohol and an alcohol use disorder, a good place to start would be to check out the 11 symptoms of an alcohol use disorder at the end of this post. 

2.  Take the same route home from work: Changing a behavior requires changing the triggers that lead to the behavior in the first place, and routine tends to play a massive role in drinking. If you usually stop by the bar or package store after work, consider changing the routine and the triggers that enforce this behavior by taking another route home altogether!

3. Continue to hang out with your usual crew: Here’s the unvarnished truth- big drinkers hang out with big drinkers, and if your clique of friends is used to bonding with you over beers, they’re probably not going to be very happy to hear that you’ve decided to clean up your act. First, they’ll be bummed not to have gossip time with you anymore (because, what do we do when we’re three sheets to the wind? We talk shit!) Second, your decision to quit holds up a mirror to their own drinking hangups, and then some. Given these two factors, your dear friends may do their very best to sabotage your efforts at a sober life, even if that’s not their conscious intention.

4. Deny the role that alcohol plays in your emotional life: For many women, alcohol serves as a vehicle of numbing and detachment- a way to postpone addressing emotional turmoil. Refusing to investigate the deeper “why” behind your drinking allows you to continue rationalizing your hangovers as “just another night with the girls,” or “a few drinks on the couch.”

If you want this kind of photo on your Facebook page, then be sure to sabotage your sober ambitions! 

If you want this kind of photo on your Facebook page, then be sure to sabotage your sober ambitions! 

5. Insist on quitting on your own, without any source of support: Isolationism and secretive behaviors are trademark traits of many people with alcohol use disorders; loneliness, even in the company of others, fuels the desire for a buzz. Trying to quit drinking on one’s own is an admission that you still have full control over the way you drink, and that you don’t need connection- physical, emotional or spiritual- in your life, nor help from another human being. “You cannot solve a problem at the same level it was created at.”

6. Constantly remind yourself that “everyone else is doing it”: When you make a decision to quit drinking for good, you’re deciding to take the path less travelled and to live in a way that much of the world rejects by bringing more introspection, awareness, and self-responsibility into your life. If you want to do what everyone else is doing and your main objective is to fit in, than quitting drinking is not for you.

7. Place yourself regularly in high conflict situations: Placing yourself in situations of constant stress is a fantastic way to sabotage any goal you have, not just quitting drinking. If you’re still in regular communication with someone abusive or you’re always picking fights over petty issues or you’re holding onto a job that you are absolutely miserable at, you’re going to have a tough time staying on the path. Clean up your environment and say “NO” to the drama.

 8. Fail to fill up the time that you usually spend drinking: When I was drinking, I generally wasted 3-5 hours a day over a wine glass- far more if you count my years moonlighting as a bartender. Booze is a glorious time waster, and the average moderate drinker may spend around 12-15 hours having drinks, as well as many more hours making up for the consequential hangovers and lowered motivation. When you quit drinking, you’re going to have a lot more time on your hands, which will equate to boredom if you don’t figure out a constructive way of filling it up. Running or weightlifting, learning how to paint or make pottery, picking up a new instrument, joinng a fellowship or enrichment group, or volunteering at a charity are all great ways to replace the void.

9. Continuously judge the faults and habits of others: If you’re interested in completely derailing your own personal progress, one of the best ways to do that is to focus not on your own issues, but on the perceived flaws and bad behaviors of other people. Pointing fingers and projecting is an awesome way to ensure that you never do the spiritual and emotional work necessary to stay sober, and it’s also a wonderful way of eroding your support systems. As a wise sage once said, “focus on your own shit.”

10. Depend on other people for your sobriety: “I wouldn’t drink so much if my husband didn’t get me so angry.” “My boss causes me to drink.” “If I don’t have cocktails with clients, I won’t be of much use to my company.” “The only way I’ll be able to quit drinking is if my partner quits drinking as well.” If you want to change a destructive behavior and improve your life, you’re going to have to get into the driver’s seat and take full responsibility for your actions.

By observing hundreds of relapses as well as reflecting on my own when I originally tried to quit drinking in my twenties, I can assure you that if you wish to completely sabotage your sober ambitions, these ten ways will get you there! Here are the symptoms I mentioned earlier in the post:

11 SYMPTOMS OF AN ALCOHOL USE DISORDER

  1. Alcohol is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
  2. There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol use.
  3. A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain alcohol, use alcohol, or recover from its effects.
  4. Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use alcohol.
  5. Recurrent alcohol use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.
  6. Continued alcohol use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of alcohol.
  7. Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of alcohol use.
  8. Recurrent alcohol use in situations in which it is physically hazardous.
  9. Alcohol use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by alcohol.
  10. Tolerance, as defined by either of the following: a) A need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication or desired effect b) A markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of alcohol.
  11. Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following: a) The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for alcohol (refer to criteria A and B of the criteria set for alcohol withdrawal) b) Alcohol (or a closely related substance, such as a benzodiazepine) is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

The presence of at least 2 of these symptoms indicates an alcohol use disorder (AUD). The severity of an AUD is graded mild, moderate, or severe: 1. Mild: The presence of 2 to 3 symptoms. 2. Moderate: The presence of 4 to 5 symptoms. 3. Severe: The presence of 6 or more symptoms.

Do you have any points to add on this post? If you've achieved long-term sobriety, what's the one thing that made the biggest difference to you? If you like this post or think it could help someone you know, please share it! Leave your thoughts in the comments section- I'd love to hear from you. 

 

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What's Your Word for 2016?

If you were to summarize your 2015 experiences in one word, what would that word be?

Without a doubt, mine would be “Shift." Quite serendipitously, the Tangram team expanded by two this year, allowing me to begin building the mission-driven wellness business I’d dreamed about as I stepped into my coaching and advocacy shoes full-time while handing over the administrative and fitness side of things to two awesome women, Vanessa and Anna. Finally, I could stop juggling ten different hats- big news for a small business owner! This shift arrived just as I came to realize- after many months of resistance- that I would have to make adjustments in the way I was living in order to support my own physical and emotional health. This meant: 

- More intuitive listening, less “to do” checklists.
- More yoga and meditation, less weightlifting.
- More nature walks, less sprinting through city streets.
- More naps, less meetings.
- More creativity, less rigidity.
- More saying “No,” less people pleasing.
- MORE THRIVING, LESS STRIVING. 

From all of this “shift,” new dreams have been seeded- dreams anchored not in achievement, but in feeling and experience. So, if you were going to give 2016 a one word theme, what would that be? After much internal debate and sitting with discomfort, I’m going to go with “fun.” FUN- yikes- the very thought of dedicating a year to fun makes this recovering perfectionist cringe! But, I’m going to roll with that anyway. After all, out of shift and discomfort comes growth!

For those of you who are ready to put some fuel and focus behind your dreams, I will be leading a half day Intention Board workshop on the morning of Saturday, January 16th. During this workshop, we’ll create individualized mind maps of what you’d like to achieve and how you want to feel in the Year of the Monkey, as well as a tangible action plan to get you on your way. And, of course, you'll have some treasured time to dip into your creativity and playfulness as you build a powerful Intention Board- otherwise known as a Vision Board- to keep you motivated and inspired. This workshop is perfect for career changers, seekers, dreamers, new expats, artists and entrepreneurs. Three of my prior Vision Board workshops have been sell-outs and space is limited, so be sure to secure your seat early. For more information and tickets: http://beginwithintention.peatix.com/

Since Anna came on board with Tangram Wellness a few months ago as our Health & Fitness Specialist, I’ve rarely had the chance to see her! She’s been incredibly busy with getting her clients prepared for their various fitness goals, which include:

· Running first marathons and 10k's;
· Becoming a fit and fabulous bride;
· Gaining overall strength and flexibility;
· Improving cardiovascular health and well-being;
· And, losing weight sustainably

Anna has this to share: 
Merry Christmas! I've thoroughly enjoyed my first few months as part of the Tangram Wellness team and I'm really excited for all that's to come in the New Year. I've been working with some fantastic ladies and am so proud of what they've achieved so far- we've seen some amazing transformations in overall fitness, body composition and dietary habits and all have been able to finish the year on a positive note. More fitness milestones and achievements are on their way for 2016. Finally, I'm super excited to be launching Tangram's Pre- and Post-Natal Small Group Training and Educational Programmes as well for new and expectant mothers. Here are the initial details: 

The Tangram Team is getting ready to sign off for the holidays, so just a bit of housekeeping: I am taking coaching appointments for current clients between the 18th-22nd of December, and will be away from Dec. 23rd to Jan. 2nd. Coaching will resume on January 3rd. Anna will be on leave from Dec. 18th to Jan. 5th. To schedule appointments with either of us in the new year, contact Vanessa@tangramwellness.com

Myself and the Tangram Team wish you a peaceful and joyous holiday season! And, if you have a minute, send me a note to let me know what your theme word for 2016 is- I'd love to hear from you! 

Light & lifting,
Aimee



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Tangram Fitness News

Tangram Fitness has been receiving some great press lately- what an auspicious start to 2015! 
Check out The Asian Entrepreneur to read about the Tangram Fitness vision and my own transformation. I've also been named as one of the best at-home Personal Trainers in Singapore by Sassy Mama. A big thanks to The Asian Entrepreneur and Sassy Mama!


Needless to say, there's a lot of work to be done this year and so many new things to learn. I'm currently finishing my training as an Addiction Recovery Coach and will soon be launching a new program for women who are interested in exploring their relationship with alcohol, whether they're looking to cut back, quit, or just find more balance. This program is one of a kind, based on my personal learnings through the recovery process; my training as a life coach, health coach and addiction recovery coach; and some of the work that I'm doing currently with clients across the globe. 

There are a lot more health and fitness surprises in the pipeline this year and I'm working with some amazing coaches in the US to see them through. To be the best, it's best to work with the best! This also means that expansion, change and a little refurbishing is necessary. Change is growth! I'll keep everyone in the loop via the newsletter, so if you haven't signed up already, please do so at the sidebar of this blog or on the website homepage. 
 

How can Tangram Fitness best serve your wellness needs? What are you working to achieve this year? I'd love to hear from you! Send me an email at aimee@tangramfitness.com or leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Wishing everyone a peaceful and healthy Year of the Goat! 

Light & Lifting,

Aimee 
 

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TF's Healthy Holiday Gift & Goodies Guide

'Tis the season for a little extra belly padding thanks to holiday sweets and treats... and a little more thought about health and fitness resolutions for the New Year! Get your loved ones and yourself off to a sprinting start in 2015 with something that will inspire and surprise. Here is Tangram Fitness's round up of health-conscious & hassle-free Christmas gifts & goodies available locally in Singapore and online. Keep your eyes peeled for some special treats below! 

1. PASSION PLANNER 

Are you still scribbling your life goals and dreams on napkins, paper scraps, the back of receipts? If so, the Passion Planner may be just what you need. It's an all-in-one day planner, to do list, goal setting guide, journal and gratitude list with motivational quotes to keep you inspired. 
I have ordered Passion Planners for all of my current clients via Kickstarter. :-) It's tough to say whether they'll be manufactured and shipped by Christmas, so if you purchase it as a holiday gift, you may wish to email the Kickstarter video and note to the recipient. 
www.PassionPlanner.com

3. TEEKI LEGGINGS 

I discovered these leggings very recently during a trip to Florida, and was completely smitten when I found out that they are made from recycled bottles. The colorful Teeki prints and perfectly snug fit add a splash of extra motivation and fun to your workouts. They're so unique and comfortable.
http://teeki.com/
 


5. PRO GRADE KETTLEBELLS
 

2. THE PALEO KITCHEN 

Packed with beautiful, unique and easy-to-follow recipes, The Paleo Kitchen is perfect for every foodie, whether or not they follow the "Caveman" approach to nutrition. Their Chocolate Bacon Brownies and Rosemary Sundried Tomato Meatballs are two of my favorites; I have yet to find a dish in this cookbook that isn't divine! 
Available through Kinokuniya
 

4. MICROSOFT BAND 

My husband, a total gadget head, is drooling over the Microsoft Band- a smart watch and fitness tracker rolled into one. Track your heart rate, steps, sleep quality and calorie burn with this ambitious little device. They're selling like hotcakes, so if you plan on leaving one under the tree, secure it quickly!
Order through Microsoft
 

6. NUTS ABOUT BUTTER 




 

Few training methods are more effective for building muscle and torching fat simultaneously than the humble kettlebell, which can be used just about everywhere. Newbies should begin with a lighter weight: 8kg, 10kg and 12kg kettlebells make a good starter pack for both men and women! 
http://www.movementfirst.sg/11-kettlebells


7. MEDITATION CUSHION 

The benefits of meditation are well-known, ranging from stress relief to heightened concentration and creativity to increased happiness and awareness. Committing to a daily meditation practice only requires a few minutes out of your morning and evening- and it's much easier if you have a designated place for it. Look for a meditation cushion that's comfortable and fuss-free. This one is for purchase at Evergreen Buddhist Cultural Centre in Pearl Centre. 


9. ZOLO BARBELL STACKER RATTLE          


Get them weight training early- very early! ;-)  
This super cute barbell rattle keeps baby
interested and occupied, as well as aiding
in dexterity development and hand eye 
coordination. Available on Amazon.com 

 

 

 


 

11. ADIDAS "ICONIC" BAG

The "Iconic" bag by Stella McCartney for Adidas is feminine yet utilitarian, with pockets for shoes, toiletries, and an exercise journal. Available at select Adidas outlets. 


13. KITCHENAID DIAMOND BLENDER

From smoothies to soups to protein shakes, this hot pink little number has you covered. No need for a fancy juicer- KitchenAid blenders always come out on top for their power, price point and reliability. Available at select KitchenAid stores. 

15. WOOLF WORKS MEMBERSHIP 

Every woman needs a dream and a
 room of one's own to accomplish it. 
Woolf Works, a calm and inspiring women's co-working space in Joo Chiat, offers entrepreneurs, artists, creatives and stay-at-home moms the space and community to pursue their passions. As a holiday treat for Tangram Fitness fans, come into Woolf Works for the day for a free trial AND get 50% off a private Pilates session with Amie Wang of Play it Fit (subject to availability, email info@woolfworks.sg for more details)
http://www.woolfworks.sg/


 

If you're looking for the perfect pre-workout snack to fuel your kettlebell session, try nut butter and banana slices on whole grain bread 60-90 minutes before you head to the gym. Kareen Lai of Mums In Sync has officially launched her yummy premium brand of nut butters, Nuts About Butter, which can be delivered right to your door in Singapore. This is the perfect stocking stuffer for runners, weightlifters, and yogis alike.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nuts-About-Butter/


8. PINK GINGER SPORTS MASSAGE
 

As a licensed Massage Therapist and multiple Ironman triathlon finisher, Pink Ginger Founder and Lead Therapist, Neridah Lock, intimately understands the injury prevention and pain management needs of today's athlete. Pink Ginger is giving all Tangram Fitness clients 25% off on a 60 minute massage booked through www.pinkginger.com.sg from now until Monday, Dec. 15th. Be sure to include "Tangram Fitness" in the enquiry form! 


 

10. NEW RULES OF LIFTING FOR WOMEN 

For those ready to step off that treadmill and get into the weight room, "The New Rules of Lifting for Women" is a fantastic resource for getting started with a strength training program. Available through Kinokuniya and Amazon.com



12. DRAGONFLY RESORT WEAR
 

Banish the post-workout fuss with elegant, easy and wrinkle-free pieces from Dragon Fly Resort Wear. Maxi dresses, jumpers and breezy separates guarantee a fabulous look following a serious sweat no matter how sweltering the day is. 
https://www.facebook.com/dragonflyresortwear

14. BEATS WIRELESS EAR BUDS 

You know the drill... you're jogging along, bopping to your favorite tunes, when all of the sudden your elbow catches your headphones wire and your earbuds go flying out of their canals, taking your device down with them. It happens to pretty much everyone! With the new Beats wireless ear buds, the issue is eliminated and the tunes are amplified. 
Purchase through the iPhone store. 

 
16. THE BARBIE GIRLS PRODUCE 

beefharmony.jpg

Serve up something scrumptiously healthy and hormone-free this Christmas with The Barbie Girls wide selection of antibiotic- and hormone-free produce from Australia, New Zealand and Europe. Christmas hams from an ethical and clean family farm in the UK are on their way to Singapore, and they have special selection of Festive Packages as well. 
http://www.thebarbiegirls.com/
 

 

Wishing you a healthy and hassle-free holiday season that inspires you to get moving, motivated and mindful in 2015! If you haven't signed up already, clarify your vision and your action plan for a fit, fabulous New Year at the "Creating Your Vision for 2015" workshop, this Saturday, Dec. 6th at 10am. Be kind to yourself! 

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Tangram Moves: The Slo Mo Firecracker

The Slo Mo Firecracker is an exercise I created based on the highly advanced MMA Firecracker, which is shown in the second video below. My version is appropriate for intermediate to advanced bootcampers who are comfortable with plyometric movements. 

Slo Mo Firecracker

Highly Advanced MMA Version

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