Category Healthy living

My best year – and how you can transform 2018 into your best year

Don’t you always hope that the next year will be better than the last? Well, you might as well bang your hand against the wall.

Seriously.

Hoping for the best is foolish. Like hoping you will get fit miraculously or win the lottery. Don’t leave this year to chance. Take back control, and transform it into your best year.

Let me tell you a story.

In the beginning of last year, I knew that I needed change. I was a freelance filmmaker, but my job didn’t take me anywhere. I was unfulfilled, and I had no goals except for the next projects that awaited me, projects “imposed” on me by my clients.
I was thankful for my job, but was it what I wanted to do for the rest of my life?

Additionally, I was unhappy with my body and my habits. I wanted to have a sustainable lifestyle, have more energy and stop feeling ashamed about the way my body looked and felt.

I’ve been trapped in my own little wheel of the mistakes I used to make over and over again, and I wanted out. Sounds familiar?

Last year, I started this blog and wrote down three simple resolutions:
1. A healthy lifestyle
2. A fitness routine
3. A creative routine

Those simple but serious resolutions changed my life. They have transformed this year into my best year so far.

How to create life-changing resolutions

 

In a two-step process, I will share with you what I learned about principles that evoke life change and I will talk to you about the evolution of resolutions so that you also can transform this new year into your best year (so far).

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STEP #1 The four principles of life change

2017 changed my life. Looking back, I discovered that these four principles enabled the positive and drastic change I had been craving my whole life, but never managed to stick to.

Those principles can change your life, too, if you understand them and implement them. They are simple, yet challenging because they require your active participation.

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1. Real Evaluation

Be honest with yourself. This is the first condition you need to meet to evoke real change in your life. Stop lying to yourself. Stop sugarcoating things.

Determine where you want to go, and be sincere about where you are. You are probably nowhere near your goal. The first step is to acknowledge that, even if it hurts.

Where are you? Where do you want to go?

Those are the questions you need to answer bluntly. Without deluding yourself. If you are not sure where you stand or where your abilities and skills are at the moment, ask people who will be honest with you (not those who will say what you want to hear).

Why do you need this? Because in order to make a map and develop a strategy, you need to know the direction and your own location.

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2. Change your THINKING

We don’t want sustainable change, we want the quick fix. But the quick fix won’t produce sincere and lasting happiness. That’s why diets don’t work. And still, there is a whole huge industry luring us in with those empty promises.

But how can you make a real lifestyle change? – Work out every day, eat healthily, establish a creative routine?

By constantly changing your mindset.

Stop thinking and saying things like:
“That’s just the way I’m wired, I am a sweet tooth and I need my sugar.” OR “I’m just not a workout person.” (What is a workout person anyway?)
Instead, replace those thoughts AND phrases with:
“I don’t need sugar because that’s just not who I am. I am a healthy person, and I love healthy food that provides my body with nutrients. I don’t need empty calories that destroy my body!” OR “I love working out! It distresses me, makes me strong and gives me power.”
Start seeing yourself the person you want to become as if it’s already you!

Do you want to be a writer? Start saying: “I am a writer. I love writing.” Stop repeating after everybody how hard writing is or how difficult it is to write. Start loving writing if that’s who you want to be!

You’ll see that those mindset changes are like a self-fulfilling prophecy, either way. If you change your thinking, you’ll change who you are. What you say and what you think matters, A LOT! It will finally determine your life.

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3. Find Inspiration sources

In February already, most New Year’s resolutions are flushed down the toilet. Why? The main reason: lack of inspiration and motivation.

How do you stay motivated? There is a sure secret:
Actively envelop yourself in motivation.

Stop believing the lie that motivation is something that comes and goes like the wind, without you having any influence upon it. You CAN determine your own level of motivation.

Podcasts, books, people – all of them will bring you back on track on a daily basis. Find several podcasts you will listen to weekly. Find people you can regularly have coffee with and dream about your life, talk about your progress and be motivated by. Make a list of book you will read throughout the year, books that will take you where you want to be.

Vision and changes do not happen in a bubble. You will never be able to change by yourself. And why would you even try? People have found inspiring ways and lifestyles before you, all you need to do is pull from this endless well of inspiration and your life will change accordingly.

Make sure you check out my Inspirational Resources Page.

Your body is what you feed it. The same goes for your mind. If you feed your mind will all the negativity surrounding us – news, tv shows, negative people who always moan about politics and society – this is who you will eventually become. Make the decision to feed your mind the right things – plan them out like a battle plan against all the negativity in the world. And be sure to cut out all the things (and people!) that have been tearing you down before.

Actively envelop yourself in motivation. Click To Tweet

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4. Develop a flexible strategy

Now that you know where you stand and where you want to go, how you will gradually change your thinking and stay motivated, it’s time for an actual strategy. The practical steps to reach your goals.

There are many techniques to form goals. But there is one thing I learned that is highly unusual: the strategy has to be FLEXIBLE. The things I did at the beginning of the year to reach my goals are not those I am doing now. My strategy has developed. I have learned what worked for me, and what did not.

If your strategy is stiff and set in stone, you will be so disappointed if it doesn’t work that you will give up on the plan entirely. It took me years to find out what kind of workout I could transform into a lifestyle. I tried all of them: At-Home-Workouts like Insanity, Running, Freeletics … until I finally stuck with weight lifting in the gym and discovered that this was something I could really do for the rest of my life.

When you develop your strategy, think realistically.
If you are not a morning person, don’t make the resolution to get up at 5 a.m. and write 3000 words a day. Start smaller. Get up at 6.30 a.m. and write 500 words. If that works, push the threshold a little bit further. Try out places you can write in – at your home office or public places like cafes.

If you hate endurance sports (like I do) and the weather is cold and rainy in winter (like in Germany), don’t make it your resolution to run every day. Find workouts that excite you instead. For all those out there who have always wondered about weightlifting, but have never been brave enough to try it (like I did for a very long time): find a program that will gradually introduce you to a gym, weights, sets and supersets and the different ways to lift. Just do it. Just start.

Also, don’t set a ton of goals at once. Make them short, manageable and clear. Make them so exciting that they provide a reason to get up in the morning and look forward to the next day.

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#2 The evolution of resolutions

Last year changed my life.

Not because I earned more money. To be honest, it was a tough financial year.

The revolutionary change sprang from clear career goals, sustainable routines and change in thinking.
I realized that I wanted to be a full-time author, and made it my goal. I started regular weight-lifting, learned and implemented a healthy nutritional lifestyle (and I have never felt so good about my body), built my blog and finally finished my first book.

Remember: I haven’t made any money from all those things. Yet. But this year, I finally came to believe that I CAN make a living writing.

Start with a year that will change your life in a sustainable way, and don’t measure it with earnings yet if you’re just starting out in your dream career path. Instead, measure it with craft and lifestyle changes. Because those changes will empower you to make the next year your best year so far, and so on.

I will be blunt with you: after a whole year, I am still perfecting my routines and trying to find the best ways to make them work. I painfully had to realize for example that getting up earlier and being productive during those early hours in winter pales in comparison with the beautiful and illuminated summer months. Winter is literally killing me, and I need to find ways to cope with that. So much for a flexible routine.

But as I celebrated Christmas this year, I realized how happy I was with my life and where it was headed because I learned to love the process: those small routines that made my day-to-day life what it was, while I was headed for bigger goals, one step after another. Believe me, if I say: Routines and habits will change your life. Only they will deliver real results.

So this is how my resolutions have evolved since 2018:

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Nr.1 – Routines

Last year, I managed to establish a workout routine. I lift weights and do HIIT 4x a week no matter what. I also have managed to change my nutritional habits, get an understanding of how our body works and what it needs to function properly, implementing it in my life. Also, I have a creative routine of writing and editing every morning.

In 2018, I am planning to perfect and improve my established routines to become more productive. If you want to know HOW exactly, download the Routine Workbook with tools, resources and practical tips that I will implement to improve my own daily habits.

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Nr.2 – Production Plan

2017 was about finishing my novel, and creating an archive for my blog.

This year, I have created a (very ambitious) production schedule for books, blog, podcast and the course I want to release by the end of next year (see image below).

It might be too ambitious, but it’s better to aim high and land a little further below then aim low and land on the ground, right?

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Nr.3 – Growth & Financial Goals

As mentioned before, 2017 was all about figuring out what I want, how to get it and establishing the necessary routines and habits in my life in order to make the changes possible.

I consider 2018 my first year as a full-time author and blogger. I will still do freelancing jobs in film to survive financially, but this time, I also have established goals for the number of subscribers I want to gain in 2018 and the money I want to earn from the books I plan to publish at the beginning of the year and throughout.

In addition, I decided to cut costs and postpone things in my life, like an extensive road trip to the USA or moving into a bigger apartment, investing all of my time and money into my author business. It was a tough decision to make but I had to set priorities, and I decided that my Nr. 1 priority this year would be gaining financial freedom and becoming better and stronger in what I love. All the other things can wait until the years to come.

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Nr. 4 Private and Spiritual Goals

I think it’s important to also set private goals that have nothing to do with my business and career, like working on certain character traits, establishing traditions and changes in relationships and family, and growing spiritually.

In his book “Quarter-Life Calling” Paul Sohn stresses that our calling is composed of four different ones that are equally important:

  • Your calling to your family
  • Your calling to your church (if you are a Christian)
  • Your calling to your neighbours (the people that are next to you)
  • Your vocational calling 

“… when your vocational calling takes precedence over other callings in your life, you experience an unnerving disequilibrium. […] What if instead of identifying with a job description, you begin to see the whole mass of things you do as one portfolio of activity?”

This thought struck me as a slight shock. I always considered my work my primary calling. The thought that there was more to my calling somehow liberated me to strive for excellence as a wife, daughter and friend, not only as an artist and writer. We need to strive for balance to lead a happy and healthy lifestyle.


I always spend the month of December in a mixture of bittersweet nostalgia for the past and tingling expectation of the future. I enjoy the Christmas holidays with family in thankfulness, and the time before New Year’s Eve in expectant preparations for the dawn of the new year.

I invite you to join me in those preparations. Don’t let 2018 intimidate you or hit you unprepared. Instead, own your time, make illustrious plans and dare the future with a fearless laugh. After all, anticipation is the most satisfying of all the forms of joy.

Join me in the New Year’s preparation here on the “My Best Year” workspace where countless FREE resources await you.

I have created a worksheet for you to write down and create your own life-changing resolutions, as well as the “Routines Workbook” mentioned above, and a list for inspirational sources you can you to keep your motivation level throughout the year.

I hope this was helpful! Let me know in the comments below how you plan on making this year your best year so far, and let’s embark on this adventurous journey together!

PS. Thanks for reading up until the very bottom of such an extensive and blunt article 😉

Do creatives need a fitness journey?

(plus my personal workout plan)

Terrible stomach pains woke me in the morning hours before the alarm was due.

I looked in the mirror and knew something in my life was off.

I wanted to write. I wanted to be creative. But I was too tired.

My stomach had rebelled for months, I haven’t slept enough and my energy levels were constantly dropping. I was unhappy with myself.

This morning, I felt the impact of health on my creativity.

My lifestyle slowly had crept in like a thief, stealing everything before I even knew it. But where would I start if everything seemed off? You probably know this feeling of frustration – needing to accomplish more than you can handle. With this, health remains hidden in the back drawer.

This was about one year ago.

My life had changed in many ways before that morning. I had finished my studies, was recently married and found myself at an impasse, lost and without any goals. But this morning (that was close to the end of the year) moved me to rethink something we often overlook – our daily routines.

Those were my two top priorities: establishing a story writing routine and a fitness routine, including healthy eating habits.

Over a year later I can tell you from experience – this is what consistent routines can do for you:

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1. The mirror is not your foe

Since I can remember, I was unhappy with my looks and body shape. I guess it’s every girl’s curse, and nowadays even men have fallen victim. It’s not that I wanted to be skinny, it was just a general feeling of dissatisfaction with my body.

A gym routine changed this completely. And even when the visual results only set in slowly, I feel great, every single time I overcome my inner couch-potato and leave the gym after a workout.

If fitness and exercise belong to your lifestyle, there is no pressure for a quick fix. You will be doing this for the rest of your life, enjoying every minute and gradually seeing results.

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2. Stress is less of an issue

Physical workout releases dopamine – a happiness hormone!

It helps you relieve stress and gives your conscious mind time to relax.

3. Consistent triggers help organize the day

My typical day starts with a writing session followed by a gym session. I suddenly feel an incredible consistency and am empowered by it to have more disciple and get more done.

“Typically, people who exercise, start eating better and becoming more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed. Exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change.” – Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit

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4. More energy, more health

My stomach pains have stopped since I changed my eating and workout habits, and I feel much more energized throughout the day.

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5. Confidence

The fact that you can establish a workout routine and change your body provides confidence in other areas of life.

In other words: I know I can do it! I know I can workout regularly, change my health, and thus I know I can also write regularly and be successful in my business, day in day out.

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6. Success comes in smaller portions

We all want INSTANT change. The quick fix. The prompt diet.

But this is not how life works.

Instant changes never last: We might hunger to lose weight, but as we start eating normally again, it will be back up. We might get a one-hit-wonder, but how long will it last?

This is not what I want. I want my body to change over time, and I want to maintain my body shape. This requires a lifestyle of working out. That’s why I urge everybody to find a workout they love, and they can imagine doing for at least the next five or ten years.

The same goes for our dreams and careers. If we put in daily work overtime, things will change for good. It’s the universal law of seed and harvest – it always works.

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7. More ideas

Story writing ideas come easily in the gym.

During a workout, our conscious mind is distracted and gives the subconscious space to develop the ideas we have been researching for and pondering over for days and weeks.

Sometimes, they come later – in the shower.


A workout plan for creatives

Creatives mostly perform sedentary work. We live in another world – where art and stories matter more than laundry and lunch.

So in order to have a successful workout routine, you need to bring in your creativity and personality into this as much as you do with your stories. You need to find a workout you enjoy, and this can be anything that fits into your daily life: jogging, hiking, swimming, team sports, dancing, bodyweight or weight lifting. The list is endless, and exercise will quikcly become “your thing” once you find the right one.

You only need 3 months

Three months.

This is all you need to establish a habit.

So on those mornings where you feel like staying in bed instead of heading out into the gym, know this: The torture will end. There will come a time where exercise will become as natural as breathing and brushing your teeth.

To survive those three months, find a workout programme that fits your needs and will instruct you, help you understand your body and lead you through the workout you chose.

I had been very insecure about the gym and especially the weightlifting area. A 12-week programme lead me into all the necessary basics one after another. Find a programme to kickstart your journey and stick to it for three months!

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Find your personal plan

Be realistic about how you want to work out and be flexible until you find your ideal routine.

If you can work out only 3x a week for 30 minutes – great! But don’t feel pressured to exercise 5x a week for hours just because others do. You will fail if your goals don’t fit your schedule.

Build up your exercise as you go — make it more complicated, find people to follow on YouTube to spice up your gym time. Be creative about your fitness journey: learn to understand your body and come up with new exercise splits, sets and supersets yourself.

 

The 70/30 rule – What are the 70 %?

Nutrition.

This is the magic formula, 70 % of your success.

If you want to keep creating for a long time, you need to start consciously thinking about what you put into your body.

Knowledge and simplicity are key.

You need to understand macronutrients and micronutrients.
If I can recommend one unbiased and amazing source of education on healthy nutrition, it is The Food Medic (the two books and also the great podcast).

Breaking down food into large (macro) bits, it consists of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.

“Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals, which are essential nutrients that your body needs in small amounts.” – Dr. Hazel Wallace, The Food Medic for Life

The golden rules of healthy eating are very simple:
Eat things as they come in nature – fruit, vegetables, meat. Stay away from processed foods. Start reading ingredient lists, and eat everything with a very simple and short ingredient list.

 

Our relationship with food is emotional – and we often don’t realize what we put into our bodies before we start tracking it.

So for the sake of understanding your own eating habits: Start tracking your food with an app like Lifesum for three months to see what you eat and how it breaks down into nutrients. Adjust your diet to be balanced and meet your targets.

Don’t chase current trends like low-carb and gluten-free. Instead, check out the Mediterranean Diet.

Fitness has become a trend online, but we should strive for a healthy and sustainable lifestyle — not a quick trend.

For us creatives, it’s not about the sexy pictures on Instagram, but rather about building a body of work that is impactful. And we can only build if we are healthy and strong.

So let’s use the trend to our advantage.