Posts Tagged ‘Relaxation Response’

How are your New Year’s resolutions going? Mine went out the window because of Sundance, but now, with the bags unpacked, I am desperate to get back to my intentions.

I like the word “intentions” rather than “resolutions”, do you? It feels more positive. ”I intend to worry less/get more fit/be more grateful” rather than “I will worry less/get more fit/be more grateful”….yes, for sure, it’s more positive, less harsh, and more forgiving. Sometimes forgiveness is important where resolutions and intentions are concerned.

I put on 1.3 kilo (3lbs) while at Sundance. I suppose sitting in films all day long, snacking, and drinking more alcohol than usual will do that. 1.3 kilo seems a small amount but you know yourself how quickly it adds up. I am rededicating myself for the next few weeks to getting back to my New Year’s Eve intentions for 2014 {see below}. My target is mid-term break. I’m thinking swimwear…tan…looking good…are you with me?

Screen Shot 2014-01-08 at 12.37.18 PM

My Colourful New Year’s Resolution Reminder


To help get things back on track, I’ve signed up for a free ten-day subscription to Gaiam TV. Ever heard of it? It’s a streaming video subscription service offering over 5,000 films and documentaries dedicated to yoga, fitness, conscious media, personal growth and spirituality. I’m interested in the yoga, fitness, food/nutrition, and healthy living. If I don’t like it, the cancellation seems as simple as pressing a button. I’ll let you know how it goes.

For years I’ve mostly exercised at home. I’m hopeful the addition of Gaiam TV will help reinvigorate my resolve and keep me moving in the right direction. It takes a lot of discipline to exercise at home but, for me, it beats putting on my runners {sneakers} and driving over to the local fitness centre.

A friend recently asked for a list of the equipment and exercises I use so she too could start her own home-based fitness programme. So, Dawn, me auld segosha, this is for you. You go girl!


What I love about exercising at home is just how simple it is. From the photo above you can see there isn’t a lot of expense or equipment required.

The equipment above includes a high density foam roller to stretch out tight muscles {it’s the long black skinny thing in the back}, a yoga mat, block and strap, two three-pound weights, Cindy Crawford’s The Next Challenge video. You may be thinking the Cindy Crawford video is not very on-trend but I use it for the segments that focus on toning arms and back. But, you know, if it’s good enough for Cindy…it’s good enough for me! I mean, seriously, have you seen how great the woman looks?! You’ll also see several yoga videos. I especially love Stress Relief Yoga because it’s quick and it does the job. If you no longer have a vcr, all these videos are also available on dvd.

Outside of what you see above, the only other exercise I take regularly is a 45-60 brisk minute walk. I think of it as my “Irish Ladies Exercise” because in Ireland you see women out walking everywhere…the sea front, the hillsides, and the neighbourhoods…no matter the weather.


My colourful intention/resolution chart above also reminds me to “worry less”, “breathe”, and “be more thankful”. I find these things are only achievable when I slow down. To that end, I have added some meditation to my daily routine.

Years ago I qualified as a Relaxation Response Tutor through the Irish Mind Medicine Academy. If you’re not familiar with the “Relaxation Response”, it is a term coined by Dr. Herbert Benson, professor, author, cardiologist, and founder of Harvard’s Mind/Body Medical Institute. The “response” is defined as our personal ability to encourage our body to release chemicals and brains signals that make our muscles and organs slow down and increase blood flow to the brain.

In layman terms, it’s a helpful way to turn off the fight or flight response our body has to stressful situations {and who doesn’t have some of those every day} and bring the body back to pre-stress levels. Dr. Benson describes the Relaxation Response as a physical state of deep relaxation which, when done regularly, can help with many health problems caused or exacerbated by chronic stress such as fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal ailments, insomnia, hypertension, anxiety disorders, and others.

I have found some very helpful online mediation practices ranging from 3-19 minutes in length through UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center. They are free to use. Perhaps they will be helpful to you too.


A month into 2014 and I can see {thanks to a WordPress blogging tool} that many of you are also interested in keeping up with your resolutions to stay healthy. I’ve had a good few requests for Irish smoothies, and also for porridge. I’m not aware of any “traditional” recipes as such, but I am happy to share with you the ones that have become popular in our Irish home here and here. Also, the IRFU (Irish Rugby Football Union) has a fact sheet of smoothie recipes you may find interesting here. The latest recipe to be added to our morning routine is the one below. You porridge fans will like this:

Fruit & Oat Smoothie

Serves One


1 tablespoon uncooked McCann’s Quick Cooking Irish Oatmeal

8oz/1 cup skim milk

1 large banana

1 cup frozen fruit (e.g. frozen strawberries, raspberries)


Place all ingredients in a blender and blend for about 1 minute until smooth.

If desired, sweeten to taste.


So, there you have it, getting back on track In an Irish Home. What are you doing to stay with your New Year’s Eve resolutions/intentions? Are you on track or have you thrown in the towel. Do tell!

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