The art of doing nothing: how not to feel guilty about it

the art of doing nothing: enjoy breakfast in bed

One morning, I was lying on the bed with no intention to get up. Besides all the projects I wanted to work on, it seemed that I could not get out of bed and I hated myself for being so lazy. So I started to question myself. 

I came back to France a few months ago after living in California for 3 years. I was having a hard time to find a new routine and felt completely guilty about not being able to work on all the projects I had in mind and create the life I always wanted. 
During my free time, I was asking myself the same questions over and over again.

What the F**** am I doing right now? Should I look for a job? Should I move to another city? Should I travel the world?

Instead of enjoying the precious time I could spend with my family I haven’t seen for months and rediscover the little pleasure of the French food, I couldn’t help but worry about the future and the fact that I was wasting my time. I felt guilty when I was watching a movie with my mum instead of working to create my new life. That’s exhausting. I’m exhausted.

So I did what I usually do when I’m feeling overwhelmed. I checked on social media which was a bad idea. It brought me more anxiety. I confronted myself to all these people who seemed to be able to create magic and juggle with multiple activities (although I know the reality can be completely different). And obviously, I did not get any better.

I had way more free time and mental space than the past 7 years when working full-time for a Big 4 and wishing for more hours in my week to actually do the things I love. I had all these hours where I could cultivate my dreams and inspirations. But nothing. Strictly nothing came up and I felt completely submerged by the guilt.

So I called my friend and we ended up concluding that this feeling is part of the human nature. It seems that we all have this seemingly endless capacity to feel guilty about things we said or not, about what we did or not. Doing nothing is usually associated with being lazy especially in our world where you have to overwork in order to be successful. We should do more, workout more, socialize more, in short, we should be more. We compare ourselves to other and always realize that someone else is doing more and better than what we do and that many times we should put down this cup of coffee and start working instead of procrastinating.

But let me remind you that our worth is not defined by the number of activities we crossed off our to-do list. It’s time to stop thinking that if we’re not busy, we’re not doing or trying enough. It’s time to change our mind about what really leads to success and draw our own path that will help us to reach our ultimate goal.

Of course, I do want to be successful, I want to work on plenty of projects I have passion for but I also want and need to rest and enjoy some time with my family, read a book or binge-watching Netflix with a huge bowl of ice-cream without having this feeling that I should do more. 

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time. 
— John Lubbock

It's ok to take a break and if this means to take one or two days off, or even a month, just do it and don’t feel guilty about it. You want to sit at your favorite coffee shop and watch people in the street? Do it. You are totally allowed to have fun and enjoy your free time. This also helps your creativity to grow. 

You certainly can’t turn off your brain but you can easily help it to be more productive by taking the break you need and not question about it.

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Love yourself. Unless you have better things to do.

Love yourself. This mantra, the one that tells you to accept who you are and own your body as it is, should become your ultimate power. So why our society decided to emphasize ways to change yourself instead of helping us to accept and appreciate who we are?

Jen Sincero, author of one of my favorite book You are a badass reminds us that you decide what is good for you and your whole world (including you) is determine by how you choose to perceive your reality. And it starts with your body.

Love yourself, or how-to-accept-your-body-as-it-is. This is definitely easier said than done and I'm the first having a hard time when I look at myself in the mirror. Our brain tends to gravitate towards the negative, always seeing the “bad” that people don’t even notice on you, focusing on how to change what you don't like instead of accepting your body and living in peace with it. Loving yourself is one of the best way to show respect to your body and start to live an awesome life.

We only get to be in our bodies for a limited time, why not celebrate the journey instead of merely riding it out until it’s over?
— Jen Sincero

I know it's not as easy as it looks like. It can be hard to get out of our own doubts and negative talks that often are the result of years of insecurities. I've been there and to be honest, I still have days on and days off. My years of anorexia left me with a low self-esteem and a lot of doubts and fears. According to my mind, I was never good enough, I was fat and not attractive. I’m still in the process to learn how to deeply and sincerely love myself but I'm just grateful for the life I’m living right now.

Love yourself, no matter what
Love your body and accept who you are

While there is no magic formula that will immediately give you the confidence to make you change, you have the power to change the way you perceive yourself and start living an awesome life by loving what The Universe gave you and being in peace with your body and mind.

Here’s 4 steps you can take to truly love yourself: 

1. Stop the complaints. You don’t want to spend your energy hating yourself and trying to be someone else. You have so much to gain by using this energy to reach your dreams and goals. I remember when I arrived in the US for my first time (in 2014), I felt completely cheered up by all this positive energy I was surrounded by. It is well-known that French people complain all the time (not so cliché) and I was not an exception. Being surrounded by positive people, receiving compliments from strangers made me realize that I am more than my thoughts.

Complaining drains a lot of energy for 0 benefits. Change the things you have the power to control and use your energy to actually compliment yourself and think positively instead of these negative talks that

2. Don’t compare yourself to others. Remember you are unique, and this is what makes you incredibly beautiful. Comparing yourself to others will bring you more insecurities and doubts and you really don’t need that at this point. We all have our insecurities and you don't know what others are going through. Be inspired but never compare yourself.

3. Do good. Feel good. I'vee been feeling way better after a good sweating session at the gym. Moving your body and exercising every day is a good way to thank your body. Your body is basically working for you all day long so why not spend a few hours of your week giving back to it. You don’t have to spend hours and hours at the gym, try to move your body but more importantly, do what works for you. 

4. Write down positive affirmations every day. Nowadays, it is getting easy to criticize ourselves and never be satisfied with the way we look like. I’m truly convinced that we are more than our thoughts and flaws, we are more than what we accept to see in the mirror. You need to show yourself some kindness and compassion, you need to respect the body you are living with every day and be happy. Starting your day by writing down positive affirmations will help you to become aware of who you are, how great you are and will shape your reality. I like to start my affirmations with I AM…

I AM BEAUTIFUL
I AM SMART
I AM STRONG

LOVE YOURSELF BECAUSE

You are BEAUTIFUL
You are INCREDIBLE
You are ENOUGH.

You will have some on-and-off and it is totally ok - it won’t be a peaceful journey. This is a long process and it won’t change overnight but as long as you commit yourself to be kind and patient with your body, you are on the right pace. 

Remember, you owe your body to live remarkable just as you are. 

Love yourself. No matter what.

EAT - Protein Chocolate Oatmeal

There is literally no seasons to appreciate a bowl of hot oatmeal in the morning.

Oatmeal is on my list of comfort foods and is a good way to include some superfoods to get extra nutrient out of it.
This recipe is one of my favorite. It can satisfy your chocolate cravings and the choices for the topping are infinite. Just give it a try.

Warm chocolate oatmeal

Protein Chocolate Oatmeal

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup quick rolled oats 
  • 2 tbsp of chia seed
  • 1 tbsp of raw cacao powder
  • 1 cup of milk (I like to use almond milk or hemp milk)
  • 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder (I use Nuzest Rich Chocolate)

Optional

Directions

Cook the oats with the milk over the heat until it becomes fluffy and creamy.
Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix well. You might need to add a little bit of water as the powders usually absorb all the milk. Cook another minute or until it reaches the consistency you like.
Serve warm with strawberries and cocoa nibs.

And the best part: you can always play with the toppings and change them to match the season.

Hope you love it!

Creamy chocolate oatmeal for breakfast
Protein chocolate oatmeal

Why you should incorporate more stretching into your life? Sharing 5 benefits of stretching

From running meetings after meetings, having a quick lunch between calls, going to happy hours with friends to preparing dinner for the family, we are all trying to squeeze a workout without really thinking about how our environment and daily activities impact our posture and range of motion.

While studying for my NASM certification, I learned a lot about the importance of posture in order to produce effective and safe movement and avoid injuries. Before stepping back into my fitness routine, I focused on bringing more stretching and corrective exercises, as well as more yoga classes to work on my flexibility and improve my alignment.

Integrate stretching into your life

Sitting all day behind my computer has contributed to create muscles imbalances and poor flexibility especially on my hips and upper back. I realized that in order to be more efficient in my workout and activate the muscles I target, I needed to incorporate stretch sessions into my fitness journey. But there are more benefits that you should consider for your overall well-being.

Here are 5 benefits you can get from stretching on a regular basis:

  1. Wake you up during the day: Have you ever felt a little bit sluggish during an afternoon full of meetings? Standing up, moving around and stretching will make your blood flows and will improve your energy level (so you won’t need this extra cup of coffee to help you go through the rest of your day). And with a body and mind more alert, you will be more productive.
     
  2. Activate muscles before a workout and reduce muscle imbalance: it helps to ensure a better posture by lengthening tight muscles. And with a better form, you will make the most of your sweaty session. Think about your squat - by stretching before your session, you can go deeper and be more efficient and have great results.
     
  3. Enable flexibility and reduce risk of injury: By stretching your muscle regularly and being aware of your movement, you will more likely avoid bad injuries. You can easily include some dynamic stretches during your warm-up and be safe during your workout.  
     
  4. Reduce soreness: Stretching increases blood flow which increases the nutrient supply to the muscles and relieves soreness. Never skip a stretch session (even a short one) after your workout, your muscles will thank you.
     
  5. Help you to reduce your stress level: As it relieves tight muscles and so tension. Tension can have a negative impact on mind and body. Think about the neck pain that you’re suffering from while working on your computer the whole day and how much stress you put on your body.

I also love using a foam roller and a trigger point massage ball to complete my sessions and get a full and deep stretch in some particular areas. After spending years seating behind a computer all day long, I developed what’s called upper and lower crossed syndromes. These are the results of poor posture (think about your head going forward while looking at your phone or your butt always sitting on a chair without proper movements) and can lead to muscles imbalance and over-stress on the joints. So make sure to schedule enough time to properly stretch. 

Stretching poses

What you put in your plate can also play a role when it comes to joint & bone health. I discovered Vital Proteins and I have been using their products for almost a year now. You’ve probably already heard about it, especially after Jenifer Aniston revealed that her morning routine includes this smoothie packed with collagen powder. Beyond all the beauty benefits (improve skin elasticity, restore skin’s moisture), collagen has a lot of health benefits (promote joint and bone health, improve digestion…). It is naturally present in our body - muscles, bones, skin, blood vessels - but as we aged, our body’s collagen production naturally slows down (hello wrinkles!) and we need to find other ways to fight the signs of aging.

While working on my flexibility, I found it beneficial to include supplements that promote joint & bone health to help me increasing mobility and flexibility of my joints. Along my (new) fitness journey, I have been dealing with joints issues and muscles imbalances (thank you long hours at the office) and by incorporating collagen into my diet , I have been able to increase my mobility and recover faster from my workout and I’ve noticed my body is capable to heal quicker (I don’t even mention the serving of protein you get).

I just add collagen peptides everywhere. The unflavored Collagen Peptides is just so easy to use and doesn’t add any flavors to your preparation. I love it in my smoothies or my lattes.

My favorite right now: the vanilla + coconut water collagen peptides that gives this delicious flavor to my drinks or oatmeal, and it includes probiotics as well (perfect for a healthy gut!).

I would love to hear what’s your favorite routine to promote flexibility.


For those who don't live in the US, you can order your dose of collagen on Iherb.com 

When life throws you a curve ball, stand up and say "Challenge accepted"

Challenges are part of our everyday life with varying degrees of intensity. Their common characteristic: they will require you to find and develop the inner strength you need to overcome them and make a change in your life. Believing that there is a purpose behind each challenge you are facing will help you to discover who you are and to move forward. 

Accept challenges that will make you grow

I struggled with eating disorder when I was 17, anorexia to tell it like it is. It lasted 2 years and I still don’t know how I was able to get out of it, as well as I don’t really know the reason that made me start to be obsessed with food until I become sick. But to be honest, I know this will probably follow me for the rest of my life. I just have to accept it instead of fighting it and be proud of what I have accomplished so far instead of trying to hide what makes me who I am now.

There are no negatives in life, only challenges to overcome that will make you stronger
— Eric Bates

That’s what lead me to ask for help a few months ago because despite all the efforts I put to live a healthy life, my body kept telling that I was not ok. My years of eating disorders and overall concern about how I look like got the better of my health and happiness. Little by little, by eliminating certain type of foods I considered “bad” for me, by worrying too much about how I looked like or if I was “thin” enough, putting a lot of pressure on my shoulders, I just damaged my metabolism, created a hormonal imbalance, suffered from adrenal fatigue that destroyed my self-esteem. I just thought that if I was able to control what I ate, if I was strong enough to say “no” when I was hungry, if I was "perfect", I would have the strength to control every other aspects of my life, overcome any problems and be happy. Not having your periods for months and experiencing hormonal imbalance is not something you should take lightly. It’s just a sign from your body that tells you you are not ok. But at that time, I just did not want to be healthy, I just wanted to be skinny.

I also wanted to prove myself I was strong enough not to ask for help. The truth is that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it requires a lot of courage to expose our deepest and most intimate part of our life to somebody else.

I worked closely with a Registered Dietitian, Cody from Nutshell Nutrition to learn how to listen to my body and nourish it mindfully in order to find the balance it needs. I have been through the hardest period of my life. I discovered that I was suffering from what we call Adrenal fatigue with a high cortisol level. Basically, I spent years exposing my body to a chronic stress (working long hours, depriving myself of sleep, starving my body...) and put my adrenal glands under a permanent alert causing extreme fatigue, insomnia, sugar cravings and acne.

In order to heal my body and get my periods back, I had to stop all forms of intense workout combined with the increase of my calories intake which is tough to accept for an ex-anorexic. But I was committed to do it for the respect of my body. Day after day, I just learned again how to eat and not deprive my body just because I wanted to correspond to what the society wants us to look like to be happy. I learned how to tolerate my body. Loving it was just too hard at that time. My body changed but not the way my mind wanted it to change. I cried. I struggled. Again.

Life isn't black or white. It's a million shade of grey.

Life isn't black or white. It's a million shade of grey.

Now, I can say that I’m on the right path towards a healthier version of myself. I still have some upside down and I have to be careful not to put to much pressure on my body. Treating adrenal fatigue is not as simple as just taking a pill every day, you need to listen to your body, eat mindfully and find new ways to relax. I am currently reading Womancode from Alisa Vitti (that I discovered thanks to Lee from America) and I am more than ready to take this new step and start my well-being journey on loving my body.

Ladies, remember that life puts challenges in our way to test our courage and willingness to change, to become a better version of ourselves. The challenges you will face in your life are here to teach you that even life is not easy, it worth the try because you have so much to learn from the hardest moments of your life.

Don’t be afraid to share your experience and ask for help. This is how stronger you will become.

Strawberry and Avocado Smoothie

Smoothies are my favorite on-the-go options - for breakfast, pre or post-workout or even for a snack, there is always a good occasion to sip on a refreshing and healthy drink. 

The choices are infinite with so many different healthy combinations.  I love trying new recipes and this one is a good alternative for people who look at their “sugar intake” and want to try a low-glycemic version as I am using the avocado the give it its creamy texture instead of bananas.

It is super quick and easy and it takes less than 5 minutes to prepare it.

Strawberry and Avocado Smoothie

Healthy Strawberry and Avocado Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • Half of a medium avocado (~50g)
  • ½ cup frozen strawberries (~100g)
  • 1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or any of your favorite milk)
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder (~22g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp rolled oats (optional)
  • Filtered water (optional)

Directions:

  • Add all ingredients into a high powered blender
  • Blend until smooth. Add water to reach the consistency you desire.
  • Enjoy!

For the banana lovers, you can always switch the avocado for a medium frozen banana. Smoothies are just a simply way to increase your nutrients intake (especially because most of the food used is consumed raw). You can be very creative by mixing up greens (spinach, kale...), fruits & veggies (think about frozen cauliflower or beets) and superfood (hemp seeds, maca powder, raw cacao powder, chia seeds...).

What is your favorite smoothie recipe?