Expert Series: Common Sense Nutrition

It usually happens to me about once/week. Someone will ask what I do (read more about that here)… I tell them I’m a dietitian… and then they act all shocked and shaken when I pop a French fry in my mouth! Or they want to know exactly what I eat so they can do the same.

As a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), I’m definitely held to a higher standard… I’m sure people think I eat grass-fed organic non-GMO plant-based wheatgrass all day long. And when they see me enjoying a juicy hamburger or a fat chocolate chip cookie (gasp!), they act like their world has just been turned upside down.

Common Sense Nutrition Tips | Levelheaded Life

So, how do I do it? How do I stay healthy and satisfied with what I’m eating, but not eat tree bark all day long? Here are 5 ways I eat what I want, while still staying healthy.

1. If I want junk food, I have to make it myself.
Carrot Fries

Whether its cookies, chips, or ice cream… if I’m going to eat it, it has to be made in my home. You won’t find me buying these items from the grocery store very often. Convenience makes eating junk food easier than it should be. By not keeping cookies in the house, I force myself to decide how badly I really want them. Is it worth taking the 45min-1hour to bake them? This also means that when I do make them, I give myself the freedom to enjoy as many as I want. I’m not going to stress about eating 3 cookies because I know I don’t eat them very often. (Check out my amazing cranberry white chocolate cookie recipe here… the secret ingredient will surprise you!)

This also helps with fried foods, like chips and French fries. Since I don’t own a deep fryer, if I’m making homemade versions of these, they’re going to be baked… which I don’t have to feel guilty about at all. (And it gives me freedom to experiment with things like carrot chips and carrot fries!)

2. When I eat food prepared outside my home, half my plate is non-starchy vegetables.



When I eat food from a restaurant, I make sure half my plate is non-starchy vegetables, like this. This helps lighten up the meal I’m eating and I can feel better about not knowing exactly how something was prepared. This also means, salads are generally off limits… surprising, right? Most restaurant salads are actually loaded with meat, cheese, and calorie-heavy dressings… so much so, that most of the plate/bowl is the toppings and not the fiber-filled greens. Try making a salad like this at home.

3. Eat a hearty plant-based breakfast.

Overnight Oats

There’s something about eating a big breakfast that makes me feel like I’m splurging a little. Eating a big satisfying breakfast also keeps me full until lunch, ensures I don’t get weak or light-headed mid-morning, and helps me not get tempted to snack. I also find when I eat a bigger breakfast, I end up not eating as much throughout the entire day as well. Some great make ahead plant-based breakfasts include: smoothies, overnight oatmeal, or warm chia seed pudding. I like getting to fill up, and not feeling like I have to limit myself.

4. Plan, plan, plan.


When forced to make a spur-the-moment decision, odds are we’re going to choose poorly compared to if we had had time to plan ahead. Planning your meals and snacks at the beginning of the week ensures not only that you’ll eat healthy, have groceries on hand, and not go over budget, but it also helps you be able to plan to splurge a little. Yes, you read that correctly. Plan to let yourself splurge. If you know a celebration, birthday, etc. is coming up and you want to eat some really good, but not-so-good-for-you food, make a plan to help you “be good” the rest of the week. Download my free meal planner here.

5. If I have a craving, I eat it.


Rather than depriving myself of something I’m just dying to have, (read: chocolate), I let myself have a little and be done with it. The longer I wait, the worse my “splurge” ends up being usually. I also always try to follow point number 1 above. Or I try a healthier version of something like this 150-calorie chocolate shake.

For more healthy (and delicious!) recipes check out Milk & Honey Nutrition on Facebook and Instagram. If you are interested in more information on what Milk & Honey Nutrition can offer you and your family, (like nutrition coaching, meal plans, grocery store tours, cooking lessons, and more) check out!

Good Running Songs

In the morning, I decide I want to go running.  I get fully dressed, put on my heart rate monitor and tie my running shoes.  I eat a healthy breakfast – usually toast with peanut butter and a banana and I drink some water to make sure I’m hydrated.  I pull out my phone…and then spend three hours searching for new songs to add to my running playlist.  I get so caught up in what songs to choose, I start searching for things like “best running songs” and then go down a rabbit hole of running music, never to return.  Needless to say, the run never happens.  It’s the thought that counts, right?  Well, not exactly.

Good Running Songs

Finding a good running playlist is HARD, y’all.  I have searched up and down for the best songs to run to.  The problem with other people’s playlists is that they aren’t yours.  They don’t have the kind of music you like or want, or they have 90% great songs and you hit the 10% of bad ones right when you need a mental boost in the middle of your run.  Everybody is different.  Some people love running to rap, I like upbeat pop music and I’m pretty partial to terrible (aka awesome) 80’s music.  My husband likes his workout music to have a more laid back vibe.

In the spirit of helpfulness, I’ve scoured the internet and I’ve gathered a list of songs that I have dubbed the Levelheaded Life top running songs.  I have organized them by Beats Per Minute (BPM) and I’ve included a handy chart that will help you choose what BPM works best for you.  I usually run 11-12 minute miles (I never said I was a particularly FAST runner…) so if I’m just out for a leisurely run, I’ll choose a playlist of songs that range anywhere from 130-140 beats per minute.  If I’m really trying to push myself, I’ll choose a 150 beat per minute playlist for 10 minute miles.

BPM Chart

Now on to the songs!  I have listed 10 songs in each BPM group for 12, 11, 10, 9 and 8 minute miles.  If you’re running faster than 8 minute miles. Kudos to you!  Are you even wearing headphones?  This is by no means an extensive list and includes songs that I think are good running songs (but as I mentioned before, you may not like) let me know if there are songs you would add!  If you want to build your own BPM playlist – is an awesome resource for finding songs in your BPM range.

12 Minute Miles – 130 Beats Per Minute

I Gotta Feeling – Black Eyed Peas: 128 BPM
Moves Like Jagger – Maroon 5: 128 BPM
Bennie and the Jets – Elton John: 132 BPM
Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under – Shania Twain: 132 BPM
Party Rock Anthem – LMFAO: 130 BPM
Jessie’s Girl – Rick Springfield: 132 BPM
I Think We’re Alone Now – Tiffany: 132 BPM
I Kissed a Girl – Katy Perry: 130 BPM
Hungry Like the Wolf – Duran Duran: 129 BPM
Rock the Casbah – The Clash: 129 BPM

Get it on Spotify

11 Minute Miles – 140 Beats Per Minute

Beat It – Michael Jackson: 139 BPM
Somebody Told Me – Killers: 138 BPM
Feel Good Inc – Gorillaz: 139 BPM
Womanizer – Britney Spears: 139 BPM
Applause – Lady Gaga: 140 BPM
Girl You Really Got Me – The Kinks: 142 BPM
Should Have Been a Cowboy – Toby Keith: 139 BPM
Little Lion Man – Mumford and Sons: 139 BPM
Spiderwebs – No Doubt: 142 BPM
Lump – The Presidents of the United States of America: 142 BPM

Get it on Spotify

10 Minute Miles – 150 Beats Per Minute

Dog Days are Over – Florence and the Machine: 150 BPM
Mr. Brightside – The Killers: 148 BPM
All the Small Things – Blink 182: 148 BPM
Shake It – Metro Station: 150 BPM
What the Hell – Avril Lavigne: 150 BPM
Run Around – Blues Traveler: 151 BPM
Holding Out for a Hero – Bonnie Tyler: 150 BPM
All I do is Win – DJ Khaled: 150 BPM
New Shoes – Paolo Nutini: 150 BPM
My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark – Fall Out Boy: 152 BPM

Get it on Spotify

9 Minute Miles – 160 Beats Per Minute

Happy – Pharrell Williams: 160 BPM
Shake It Off – Taylor Swift: 160 BPM
Hey Ya – OutKast: 160 BPM
One Way or Another – Blondie: 161 BPM
Whip It – Devo: 158 BPM
Come Out and Play: The Offspring: 158 BPM
Aerials – System of a Down: 160 BPM
Dead Man’s Party – Oingo Boingo: 161 BPM
Ruby Soho – Rancid: 162 BPM
What I Like About You – The Romantics: 160 BPM

Get it on Spotify

8 Minute Miles – 170 Beats Per Minute

Paper Planes – MIA: 172 BPM
Take on Me – A-Ha: 169 BPM
I Write Sins Not Tragedies – Panic! At the Disco: 170 BPM
Remember the Name – Fort Minor: 170 BPM
6 Foot 7 Foot – Lil Wayne: 168 BPM
Clint Eastwood – Gorillaz: 168 BPM
All My Life – Foo Fighters: 168 BPM
Hold My Hand – Hootie and the Blowfish: 171 BPM
Bad Blood – Taylor Swift: 170 BPM
It’s Goin Down – Yung Joc: 168 BPM

Get it on Spotify

If you’re doing intervals, you can mix it up and use a couple of faster songs followed by a slower song for cool down and back to a faster song.  The possibilities are endless!

The New Science of Stress

Do you ever have that dream where you’re back in school, you walk into class only to find out that it’s time for finals and you had no idea? You didn’t study, so you’re freaking out. On top of that you’re naked and you’re being chased by a killer.  Surprise!  You may be stressed out.  Dr. Oz says that school-type dreams are usually linked to work related stress.  Stresses about money can lead to dreams about losing your teeth and feeling out of control at home or work can cause dreams about losing something important like your wallet.  Most of my stress dreams are about being back at school during test time.  I guess that says something about me.

Stressed out girl sitting on bench

The effect of stress on our bodies is widely known.  The stress hormone called Cortisol (most commonly called the “belly fat” hormone in pop-ups and infomercials) can restrict blood vessels in the body causing increased risk of cardiovascular problems.  Stress can also lead to fatigue, weight gain, depression and can even trigger mental illness.

This sounds bad, right?  I’m not gonna lie.  It’s pretty bad.  Psychology today calls Cortisol “Public Enemy No. 1”.  If you don’t have your stress under control – things can go downhill pretty quickly.  The most common antidote for stress is to be less stressed.  Seems pretty easy, right?  Just take a walk, do some meditation and everything will be fine.  However, for those of us with stressful lives (i.e. everybody) sometimes these tips don’t work as well as we would like.  Stanford researcher Kelly McGonigal has developed some very interesting research about optimizing stress and using it to your advantage instead of letting it rule your life.

Dr. McGonigal has found that people who believe that stress is bad for them have a significantly worse stress response than people who believe that stress can help them.  She calls this the “stress mindset.”  The core of this philosophy is identifying your existing ideas about stress and learning to shift them to be more empowering.  One example she uses is the widely held belief that being stressed out means you’re failing.  Instead of thinking of yourself as a failure, shift your thinking to the belief that your stress means you care about what you’re doing.  This is a positive response to stress instead of a negative one.

The second pillar of turning your stress mindset around is the belief that stress is ultimately bad for you vs. the belief that you are appropriately equipped to handle stress in any situation.  One mindset gives leaves you vulnerable to your stress response and the other puts the power to control your stress response in your own hands.

The third key to empowering yourself to improve your stress mindset is understanding that stress is a universal condition.  Stress can feel very isolating and your brain can make it seem like you’re the only one who has ever dealt with this level of stress, ever.  The thing to keep in mind is that everyone gets stressed.  It’s part of being human and lots of other people can relate to what you’re feeling.

There is another hormone that get released during stressful situations called Oxytocin.  It’s most commonly known as the “bonding hormone.”  It’s what is released when a mom first sees her baby or when you get or give a big strong hug.  It’s linked to lower blood pressure and a stronger immune response.  The Oxytocin part of the stress response is what can help you connect your stress to being human.  This hormone naturally makes you want to reach out to other people. During a stressful situation, reaching out to someone and making a human connection causes your body to release more Oxytocin, which combats the negative side effects of Cortisol and can actually help you recover faster from stress.

If you’re feeling stressed today, switch your mindset and make your stress response work for you!  Take your negative feelings about stress and use them as fuel to go above and beyond what you thought you could do.  Finally, reach out to someone and tell them how you’re feeling.  It’s proven to help you and it might even help them as well.


If you have time, watch Kelly McGonigal’s very interesting TED talk on stress below:


Expert Series: I’m SO Addicted To…

Three Donuts and Text: Levelheaded Life - Expert Series: Addiction

Think of the first friend you made on the first day of school.  It might be pre-school, high-school or medical school.  It’s a memorable experience; the first time you feel connected to someone on a level that goes deeper than the surface.  Today’s expert was my very first friend at Florida State.  It was my first class at my new school (I was a transfer student) and the professor hadn’t shown up yet.

A girl who embodied what my Texas brain considered as the perfect Florida Girl (blonde, tan, friendly) and I struck up a conversation before class.  We ended up having a lot in common and throughout the semester shared hairdressers’ phone numbers (I gave her mine, it didn’t work out); nursing broken hearts with pizza, pink champagne and musicals (my heart, the pizza was her idea) and building a lifelong friendship.

I feel so lucky to call this accomplished woman a friend. She has dedicated her life to understanding and helping people with addiction and I’ve asked her to help us understand a bit better about how addiction plays a role in the choices we make every day. Here’s Lindsey to tell you a little more about it herself!


Hi. I’m a therapist. I work with individuals who have substance use disorders, or as you may hear more frequently, addicts and alcoholics. I love what I do. I must mention that although I assess, diagnose and treat substance use disorders by day, I am taking off that hat right now. If you want to learn more about substance use disorders, I encourage you to visit the American Society of Addiction Medicine website.

Today the focus is on the general term you hear thrown around, “addicted”. We are going to look at what that word means and how it may be a barrier to you reaching your goals.

First, let’s define “addicted”. Oxford dictionary defines addicted as, “physically and mentally dependent on a particular substance, and unable to stop taking it without incurring adverse effects”. So, what does this mean? Let’s break it down using caffeine as an example.

Simply stated, being physically dependent on a substance means that you will experience physical withdrawal symptoms if you stop using the substance. If a person drinks several cups of coffee during the day and abruptly stops, this will most likely result in a headache. That’s a physical withdrawal symptom. They don’t last forever. If that person decides to stick with their decision to eliminate caffeine, the headaches will eventually go away.

Being mentally dependent means that you believe you need the substance to function in a desired way. How many times have you heard someone say a variation of, “Don’t even try talking to me before I’ve had my 2 cups of coffee in the morning!”. That person holds a belief that they are more irritable or not as focused before they have their morning dose of caffeine.

You may be thinking, “what’s the big deal about being addicted to caffeine?” The answer really depends on you. If you set a goal to stop drinking caffeine, I imagine it is important to you and being physically and mentally dependent on caffeine can derail your progress, if you let it.

What do I mean by saying, “if you let it?”. I am referring to your thoughts, more specifically, self-talk. Self-talk is automatic and it has quite the impact on whether or not we reach our goals. You have an external event, that event is followed by an interpretation of the event and self-talk, which then motivates a feeling and reaction.


Let’s put this in real life terms.  It’s the day that you committed to eliminating caffeine from your diet. It’s mid-morning and you’re at work when a headache comes on (external event). You think about how good coffee tastes and say to yourself “I’ll never make it through this day with a headache like this!” (Interpretation of the event and self-talk). You feel irritated and drive to a nearby coffee shop to get a coffee (feeling and reaction).

The problem? You set a goal to eliminate caffeine but you didn’t follow through with your commitment. Your reaction may have alleviated your headache (physical dependence) and dissolved that irritation (mental dependence) but this is a short-term reward.

Speaking of rewards, let’s briefly talk about dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in your brain that is mainly responsible for feelings of pleasure. We feel pleasure in response to food, water, sex and nurturing. You also feel pleasure when you set a goal and follow through with it. That’s because as you make choices that work towards your goal, your dopamine increases. Do you feel more motivated when you can see progress towards your goal? Yes! That is dopamine at work! Pleasure is a reward that motivates you to continue the behavior.

We set goals for a reason. When we make choices that don’t align with our goals, we do that for a reason, too. Most of the time it is to feel better in the moment, as you saw outlined in our caffeine example. So, knowing what we do now about self-talk, how can we make choices that are aligned with our goals? Challenge that self-talk.

How we experience an event is greatly influenced by our self-talk. So, if we have negative or fearful self-talk, we can challenge that and it will impact our experience. Let’s take another look at the caffeine example.

It’s mid-morning and you’re at work when a headache comes on (external event). You think about how good coffee tastes and say to yourself “I’ll never make it through this day with a headache like this”. You recognize this negative self-talk and challenge it by saying to yourself, “This headache is temporary. I can do this” (Interpretation of the event and self-talk). You feel hopeful, take something for pain relief and drink a soothing cup of tea (feeling and reaction).

When you get through that headache, you feel pride that you did what you said you were going to do. Dopamine! The pleasure you experience is motivation for you to continue the behavior, which leads to achieving your goal. More Dopamine!

Remember: achieving your goals is a process, it’s not always easy and it takes time and effort. You are human and there will be times that you stumble or make choices that are not aligned with your goals but that is not an excuse for giving up. You set goals because they are important to you so giving up will only result in feelings of disappointment.

Don’t get in your own way.  As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”

Although we focused on caffeine in this example, the process discussed can be generalized to whatever it is you are struggling with. I want to make sure to mention that if you are concerned that you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol or illicit substances, ask for help. Although helpful to know, this post is not intended as treatment for a substance use disorder.

Lindsey E. Komara, LCSW

The Art of Listening

In today’s culture, many times we live glued to a screen. We wake up and reach for our smart phones, immediately checking email and social media. Many people spend their days at the computer, and come home to watch TV. While we’re learning to connect with people virtually, are we still connecting well when we’re face to face? Practicing your listening skills will pay off relationally, whether at home, in the workplace, or with friends.

Turn off the screens.
To create an atmosphere conducive to meaningful conversation, reduce your distractions as much as possible. This means shutting down the computer, putting your phone on silent, and turning off the TV. You’ll be able to focus on the conversation without being distracted by every tweet, status update, text, and news flash.

Make eye contact.
Looking the speaker in the eye helps them to feel heard and respected as they communicate their message to you. Great active listeners don’t stare down the speaker (too intimidating), yet make enough eye contact to show the speaker they are paying attention and prioritizing the conversation over other distractions.

Give verbal feedback.
One part of active listening is showing the speaker you are following along what they’re communicating. Words like “yes,” “I understand,” and “mm-hmm” are all unobtrusive cues to the speaker that you are listening and processing the message. Also, you can paraphrase the message you’re hearing to make sure you’re accurately interpreting what has been said. Saying something like, “This is what I’m hearing you say,” can give the speaker a chance to hear whether they’ve been clear in their communication, and will also let you know if you’re tracking with their message.

Use body language.
Your body communicates a world of information, even when you’re not speaking. Crossed arms, tense muscles, clenching your jaw, tapping your fingers, or fiddling with a pen or another object can communicate that you are disinterested in the message, and at worst, can send a message of disrespect to the speaker. Facing the speaker, relaxing your shoulders and torso, and nodding in agreement from time to time are all ways you can use your body to communicate active listening.

Practice your active listening skills and remember to ask for feedback from the speaker. Most of the time, your partner or friend will be able to tell you if they feel heard when they talk to you. The more you work on your listening skills, the better listener you’ll become. Every conversation is an opportunity for growth in this area.

See more at:

This post originally appeared at Houston Relationship Therapy.

Meditation: Not just for Hippies Anymore


What if I told you that you can get quicker reflexes, more creative thinking and less stress in 8 weeks?  You would be like, “Hey whoa, who dropped me off in the middle of this infomercial?”  And then we would laugh and eat cake with the Slap Chop guy.  Oh but wait, back to the less stress thing.  It’s true.  There really is a way to change your brain so that it deals with stress more effectively.  This top-secret brain changing method?  Meditation.  I know when I say meditation you’re thinking about someone in a robe who smells like patchouli but we’re talking 21st century meditation here, folks.

I always thought meditation was a total load and wrote it off as people sitting around doing nothing.  Then I started researching it for the blog.  According to The Buddhist Centre, meditation is “a means of transforming the mind. [Meditation] practices are techniques that encourage and develop concentration, clarity, emotional positivity, and a calm seeing of the true nature of things.”

So, what’s in it for you?  Science has proven that meditating is associated with increased focus, lessened anxiety and expansion of the brain’s ability to learn.  If you do it every day, your brain will literally rewire itself and you will start to notice changes in your mood and outlook.

Now, doesn’t that sound nice?  There are many different kinds of meditation you can try.  The style that I find the easiest is guided meditation.  The Stop, Breathe, Think app I mentioned in my last post uses the guided meditation style.  The technique in the app is called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction where you start by checking in with yourself and focusing your attention on the inhalation and exhalation of your breath.  The app then guides you through a meditation based on how you’re feeling at the time.  The good thing is, all you need is a phone and a chair or a cushion to get started.  You can download the app here.

Meditation is easilty applied to everyday life.  The goal is being more mindful in general.  When you interact with others, when you eat, when you drive (which is not easy considering all the other nutjobs on the road).  If you can take the kindness and compassion that you learn in your practice and use it to live your everyday life, you will reap the benefits infinitely.

Do you practice meditation?  How has it helped you?

5 Free Apps to Get You Fit, Fast

Smartphones are a waste of time.  Pretty much everything we use our phones for are time wasters.  Candy Crush?  Facebook?  Snapchat?  A TOTAL WASTE OF TIME.  I know you’re running to the top of your apartment building right now to throw your useless phone off the roof but wait!  It’s actually pretty amazing that we have a teeny device which takes the place of a camera, radio, wallet, atlas and alarm clock all at once.  Wouldn’t it be crazy if we had to carry that stuff around all the time?  Or if you’re as old as me – you remember when you did have to carry all that stuff around and should thank your phone more often.  Also, call your mother.  And get off my lawn.

Here’s the kicker: Not every app is a time waster.  There are so many out there that can help you become a better human.  Not all apps are created equal, however.  I slaved away at this keyboard day and night to sort through all the fluff for you (you’re welcome) and made a list of the 5 most necessary free apps to help you get fitter, faster. Physically and Mentally!

My Fitness Pal

my fitness pal

My Fitness Pal is my very favorite health app.  It’s main function is calorie counting but it does so much more than that.  You can also use it to track your macronutrients (carbohydrates, fat, protein).  It has options to track food, workouts, weight, how much water you drink and you can update your status if you want.  My favorite part is the social aspect of the app.  People can’t see your food diaries unless you make them available, but it does tell your friends when you’ve lost weight, when you work out and how often you log.  You can like and comment on the notifications, so you can be supportive of your friends who are on the same journey as you.  In the food tracking section, you can scan the bar code on the food and it will automatically upload the calories for you.  It’s amazing.  This is an absolute must-download.


Diet Bet

What’s better than losing weight?  Losing weight and get paid for it.  The basic premise of DietBet is that you pay a certain amount of money up front, usually around $20 and the money from each person who joins the bet goes into a pot.  Sometimes the pots get up to thousands of dollars!  You agree to lose a certain percentage of your weight in a month.  At the end of the month, the pot gets split between all the people who lost the weight!  They have built-in rules and requirements so you can’t cheat.  This is actually a lot of fun.  If you’re a competitive person, this is the app for you.

Interval Timer

Interval Timer

For beginner runners or for people who are using the Jeff Galloway Walk/Run training program, this is an easy to use, reliable interval timer.  It has a function where you can get access to your playlist through the app, which is really nice because you don’t have to switch back and forth between apps to change your music while you’re running or walking.  The app queues you at the beginning and end of each interval.  It’s a very useful app.



Runkeeper is my absolute favorite running app.  It uses the GPS on your phone to track how long your runs or walks are.  If you’re an advanced runner, it has a setting for pacing and it will queue you to let you know how you’re doing against the pace you’ve set.  There is also a social aspect to the app as well and I get a popup anytime a friend goes for a run.  It’s another good way to encourage your friends and get some encouragement yourself!

Stop, Breathe, Think


Stop, Breathe, Think is a guided meditation app.  I truly believe that you can improve yourself and your outlook on life through meditation.  Science says so too.  This app is really cool because it starts with a “check in” where you think about how you’re feeling right at the moment.  It then has you choose 5 feelings (anxious, happy, hopeful, etc.) into the app from lists they have provided.  After that, the app suggests guided meditations based on your feelings.  Each meditation is about 5 minutes.  I like to do it at night before I go to bed, but you could use it to center yourself in a stressful situation or in the morning as a positive start to your day.

Do you have any apps you use that aren’t in the list?  Let me know in the comments!

Dealing with Haters

How to deal with the people in your life that can't handle your success.
hater: Urban Dictionary
A person that simply cannot be happy for another person’s success. So rather than be happy they make a point of exposing a flaw in that person.

Hating, the result of being a hater, is not exactly jealousy. The hater doesn’t really want to be the person he or she hates, rather the hater wants to knock someone down a notch.
Susan: You know, Kevin from accounting is doing very well. He just bought a house in a very nice part of town.
Jane (hater): If he is doing so well why does he drive that ’89 Taurus?

Let’s imagine that you just stepped out in your fly new juicy couture sweat suit (it’s 2007 and you are a famous pop star in this fantasy, obviously) and you have arrived at an intersection where there is a group of paparazzi furiously snapping away.  You think nothing of it and move on.  The next day, images of you in your fly ass tracksuit show up on the cover of Star magazine with the headline, “She’s letting herself go: The Downward Spiral.”  You laugh as you pass the rack of magazines because you’re on your way to deposit the royalty checks from your last hit album.  That’s called shaking off the haters: Expert Level.

Now – let’s figure out how to apply this to real life.

Identify your haters.

There are two kinds of haters.  There are outright haters; they’re the people who are very vocal about their opposition to your progress.  They usually use sarcasm and bullying tactics to make you feel bad for the choices you’re making.  We actually like these haters.  These haters are easy to spot.  Once you’ve identified hater type 1, make a conscious decision to spend less time with this person.  If they aren’t using their power and influence to make you feel great, why are you hanging out with them?  If they’re someone you can’t get away from, i.e. a family member, take a more direct approach and explain to them that you’re making changes in your life and changes are always tough.  Let that person know that you would like to have their support.  Usually these people aren’t aware that they’re doing it, and I’ve found that if you are open and honest with them, they usually change their tune.

Hater no. 2 is a little harder to pinpoint.  These haters come disguised as friends.  This is the friend that instead of giving you positive feedback about your buff new bod, starts talking about how hard exercise is and they can’t believe you wake up so early in the morning and why would anyone want to do that?  It’s subtle sabotage.  These people are usually not on the same path as you.  As you grow into a better person physically, financially or personally it makes them feel left behind.  I will be honest, I’ve 100% been this friend.  It’s really hard to see someone else doing great when you feel like your life is in the metaphorical toilet.  You don’t have to cut these friends out totally but re-evaluate their motives.  Maybe they’re just having a crappy day and need to vent or maybe they actually don’t want you to succeed.  This is always a possibility.  Sadly, frenemies are REAL.  If you identify a frenemy, back away slowly and begin to focus your time and energy on the friends that really want you to do well.

Find a Tribe

Step two in our “Shake off the Haters” plan is to find a tribe.  This will be your support system.  I’ve been really lucky where I live to have found a group of women who have similar goals to me both personally and physically.  We meet on the weekends to go running and then we have brunch, we go to spin class together and we share healthy recipes.  They’re the girls I call when I have a flat tire, when I feel like I am losing my mind about work or when I just need someone to recommend a good book.  It took a lot of curating to find these strong, sweet, amazing women.  I had coffee with a few frogs before we got to the crew we have today.  We also celebrate our differences.  We aren’t a 100% homogeneous group and we compliment each other really well, I think.  To find your tribe, start with your interests.  I met one friend at a running group I found on  I met another at a Florida State Football watching party.  I met a couple at a book club.  If you meet someone and you think, “She seems fun.”  Pursue it.  It’s a lot like dating, weirdly.  You have to seek out the kind of person you want to share your years with.

Release the Kraken

The last part of dealing with haters is to find your inner strength.  I know we’re getting a little touchy feely here but this is the most important step.  It’s so much easier to brush off rude comments or deal with friends who want to go for ice cream instead of go running if you have a little self-confidence.  Your tribe will help you gain self-confidence by supporting you but you really have to work at it yourself as well.  It is not something you are born with, you can gain it if you don’t have it.  Spend a little time each day thinking about 3 things that went really well for you and 3 things you’re proud of.  Then think of 3 things you’re excited about for tomorrow.  I do this at night right before I go to bed.  It helps me zone in on the positive parts of my personality and helps me understand that it’s ok to take credit for the great things that are happening in my life.  I am in control of my life and that’s exciting.  Every day I feel a little more and more confident and the haters voices get quieter and quieter.

Have you ever had a hater?  How did you deal with it?

The 5 Best Playlists to get Moving in the Morning

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If you’re like me, you enjoy working out, but really only after it’s done.  Getting out the door is most people’s main barrier to success.  My trick is to get out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off and put on some music that makes me want to dance.  Because once you start dancing, you surely can’t go back to sleep!

Image via Zazzle

Here are my tried-and-true playlists to guarantee that your booty gets out that door.  All playlists are available on the Levelheaded Life Spotify Channel.  They also double as workout playlists too!  Some playlists have explicit lyrics, but we’re all adults here, so we won’t worry about that.

POPSUGAR Fitness 2000s Workout Music

A playlist full of music from when I was in high school and college?  YES PLEASE.

Britney Body Workout

I’m an unabashed Britney fan.  I was a fan in 1998 when Hit Me Baby, One More Time came out, I was a fan during the crazy shaved head of 2007 and I am still a fan!  If you haven’t been to a Britney Spears Sing Along at Alamo Drafthouse, you haven’t lived.  This playlist is Britney and Friends, so you’ll get a little N*Sync and Christina Aguilera too.

Wake Up!

This aptly titled playlist is guaranteed to get your feet on the ground and moving around. (See what I did there?)

Wake Up & Be Awesome

If you aren’t ready to have high tempo music blasted in your ear first thing in the morning, this is your playlist.  It’s a little more mellow for you non-morning people.

Left, Right, Left

This is my very own playlist that I created.  It’s the one I use when I work out and is an amazing motivator to get yourself moving.  This one is totally explicit and is not for the faint of heart.  It will, however, get you all woken up.

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Expert Series: Yoga – The Journey To Me


Today is the beginning of our Expert Series and this expert is near and dear to my heart.  We met in our real lives at work.  We clicked immediately because we both share the philosophy that we’re working to live, not living to work.  She’s a total boss at her job and she’s got a passion for life that you don’t see every day.  She also rules at Snapchat.  She’s been doing yoga for years but about 18 months ago began to practice daily and decided to get certified as a yoga instructor.  I was lucky enough to get to take a class that she taught at our national sales conference and I can confirm that she knows her stuff.  If you’re ever in the Milwaukee area, she teaches at: Get Hot Yoga and Healium.  Without futher ado – Erin Brady everybody!

Yoga has started to become all the rage.  Ironical for a philosophy that has been around for over 5,000 years (give or take depending on who you ask and what facet of yoga you are referencing).

We are seeing it everywhere, especially on social media, where beachy blondes are striking all sorts of ‘yoga’ poses in their most scantily clad duds.  The most bendy and flexy of men and women posting videos of their one arm, flying pigeon, on the fingertips stunts with tattoos a blaze.  Doesn’t it make you want to go out and buy some yoga pants?

The truth of the matter is, behind all of the flash and dazzle, what all of these die-hards are expressing really are some of the most fundamental concepts of yoga.

When you live your practice, get on your mat every day, allow yourself a space to get out of your mind and into your body, you can channel the internal fire and fortitude of the Gods.

The Yoga-Sutras, the philosophical foundation on which yoga was built, states that the objective of yoga is for the yogi to recognize that pure consciousness is distinct from mere matter; the ability to understand non-attachment to the worldly.


Believe it or not, there are actually 8 limbs to the total practice of yoga.  The physical (Asana) piece, the connection or union of the breath to the bodily movement as we know it today being just one, although this is what we often hear being described as ‘yoga’.

The beauty of yoga, and often the scariest part, is that it forces you to become in touch with YOU.

As human beings we tend to manifest our emotional pain as physical pain in the body.  Someone hurts us, we suffer a loss, miss an opportunity, send a child off to college, have a break up or maybe a break down (which in yoga, we like to call a breakthrough) we typically don’t allow ourselves time to deal with this pain or even accept it and heal.  Our fast paced lives don’t let us be ok with taking a mental health day, staying in our sweat pants and fuzzy socks curled up with a cup of tea binge watching Sex in the City episodes.

So what do we do with all that emotional luggage?  We store it in our bodies.  Shoulders, backs, and hips (also known as the emotional junk drawers) tend to carry a lot of this weight.  We get bogged down, eventually we end up walking around hunching our shoulders over creating a protective shield around our hearts so that they can’t be exposed to the raw elements of life.

While there are many definitions of the philosophy of yoga and its history.  The fundamental practice of yoga is simple.  It is just that.  Practice.

Arriving on your mat regularly.  Allowing yourself to check in and connect with the body.  Pairing a slow steady breath rhythm with a flow of movement, which may include inviting yourself to the edge of your comfort zone.  It is here, when we escape our day or week or month, if just for 30 or 60 minutes and focus on our body and our breath that we begin to feel… you have to feel in order to heal.

Practicing yoga brings an abundance of health benefits including sleeping better, building immunity, more energy from the increase of the flow of prana (vital energy, life force) to increased flexibility, better posture, increased blood flow and regulation to the lymphatic and adrenal systems.  These are just a few of the many not to mention an overall sense of happiness.  When you allow yourself space to focus on something as beautiful and simple as your breath, you give your brain a rest from the constant To-Do’s and lists and responsibility of your day for a short time, you will literally leave feeling (as we like to call it) ‘all blissed out’.

Don’t we all just need more of that today?

Over time we enable our joints and ligaments to open more freely, even releasing some of that emotional baggage that weighs us down, allowing the clutter to clear from our hearts and minds.  This is the high we chase.

We arrive, and we arrive daily, because this is where the magic happens.

Erin Brady
Milwaukee, WI