If you've been following along for the last few months, you'll know I've been working through Vanessa Hartmann's My Life Balanced: 120 Day Challenge, and sharing my progress here. I've come to the end of my initial 120 Days Challenge, but this wonderful workbook is designed to be used in an ongoing way, to help the user discover new goals for themselves, and to keep focused and mindful as they proceed.
Back in May, I began my journey, and shared my initial impressions and explained the basic set up of the book. Each day (undated) provides food for thought in four areas: Mind (journal or meditation keywords), Meal (tips, affirmations or suggested activities to do in the area of how you eat), Move (tips, affirmations or suggested activities to do in the area of movement), and Mantra (an affirmation or statement to help keep you on track).
first progress report, I explained how I was focusing on that - changing my routine and taking things slowly. I even incorporated a Tarot reading (an already established habit for me) into the new habits, and it helped me understand a bit more about what it was I was doing and how to go about it. Even after only three weeks I was beginning to learn more about myself and how the My Life Balanced Program could help me make the changes I wanted to make - not to be different, but to be more in tune with my own priorities.
My next update was all about the challenges - a few disruptions to my routine was feeling as if it was derailing my progress, but I also realized that handing challenging disruptions is one of the key lessons to success in establishing healthy life changes! Anyone working through this program is eventually going to uncover their own derailers, and the beauty of the 120 Days Challenge is that so many aspects of it involve small actions and opportunities for mindfulness. They don't really take a lot of time and I found that when you allow them to have a place, they can change the way you see those times - not as interruptions to life, but life itself.
Since then, I have found if I can do nothing else, take a few moments to do the included breathing suggestions, and spend the time focusing on the Mind keyword. Just that helps to put whatever else is going on into perspective.
Meditation was the focus of my next progress report - I truly found this aspect to be the most meaningful and useful aspect of the My Life Balanced: 120 Days Challenge. The breathing exercises are easy enough for anyone to do, and really do make all the rest easier, too. Several suggestions for incorporating yoga are sprinkled throughout - for these, you'll want to use outside resources to show you specifics about yoga postures and movement (throughout this series, outside reading/video viewing/etc. will be necessary - you're building your own program, not following a script). In my progress report, I included two forms of meditation I've found useful: walking meditations and a visualization exercise. I also explained the importance of Vanessa's focus on 'body scans' - paying attention to what your body is desiring and needing, so that you can provide it.
My next updated focused on food - eating to live well, whatever that means to the user. Before I began, I was concerned that Vanessa's personal choice to live as a vegetarian would make this part largely irrelevant to my own eating goals but in fact, it was never an issue at all. She includes a number of excellent food tips and tidbits of information (which, again, often sent me out onto the Internet to explore further), many of which I have incorporated and some I've chosen not to, or put off for later consideration. I shared a few of the things I learned in this update, and by this point I was realizing fully how different this experience will be for each user. Vanessa never tells you what to do - she gives you the tools and encouragement for you to develop your own challenge according to your own goals and needs.
Finally, my last progress report was on the subject of Movement - this has always been a complex challenge for me and continues to be one, and it is also the biggest reason why I will be returning to this workbook again and again. Here again, I learned a few things about myself that will help me strive to do what is best for me in this area, in a way that is very different from past 'exercise regimens that always left me feeling like an inadequate failure before I'd even began.
The My Life Balanced: 120 Days Challenge workbook never tries to make you feel inadequate or lazy or not tough enough to be fit. It sticks to small changes, lots of encouragement, and reminders that your body isn't something to hate or be in an adversarial relationship with. For anyone who's ever struggled with body image and negative self-talk, you NEED this. I have come across a lot of programs over the years, but I have never seen something so consistently sending the message that you're supposed to like your body, pay attention to what it's saying, and that taking care of it should be a gentle and joyful expression of loving yourself, not punishment for not being perfect.
As you can see, that is the message from the very first day, and it's repeated throughout the entire book (and it takes a lot of repetition of these ideas if you've bought into our culture's more usual shaming method of 'self improvement'):
I do encourage you to read over my past updates to get into more details about the workbook itself and will end my review only with this:
This workbook is incredibly versatile - I can't actually think of any category of person who wouldn't benefit from it, whether you are, like me, struggling with disability or already in good shape and seeking fine tuning. If you've never thought about personal wellness goals beyond a vague 'I oughta do something about that', or already have a deep understanding of what your goals are, the My Life Balanced workbook can help you.
The last few pages of the workbook are a special bonus - because it is meant to be used in an ongoing way, you can get through it 3 times a year, adding up to 360 days - so there are 5 extra pages at the end to get you through the entire year, offering extra guidance on the benefits of healthier living, handling the negativity of comparing yourself and your progress to others, the basic components of weight loss, how to listen to your body, and a list of recommended books (including cookbooks).
The one single negative I experienced was the size of the book - my copy is large and floppy - it doesn't travel well and I found myself often wanting to access it while away from home (it's such a great thing to peek into while you're stuck waiting somewhere). A few weeks ago, Vanessa set to work on a revised version, editing and updating her text and - best part - making it smaller so that it can be tucked into a purse or bag. This smaller edition, along with a small notepad turns the program into a powerful tool for busy people on the go!
|What a difference size makes!|
The newly revised My Life Balanced: 120 Days Challenge workbook can be purchased from Vanessa's website for $36.00, shipping included. She also offers a couple of other guidebooks (including a 21 Day Minimalism challenge), as well as local and long distance life coaching.
If you'd like to explore more of what Vanessa does, please check out her several posts here at Reviews, Chews & How-Tos. You can also follow her on Facebook, check out many of her workout and advice videos on YouTube, and she's even started a healthy food blog to support her My Life Balanced program.
When you check out her My Life Balanced website, make sure you sign up on the front page to receive a 10 day sampler of the 120 Days Life Style Change Manual!
Finally, I'm very excited that she's offered to give a copy of the revised My Life Balanced: 120 Days Challenge workbook to one of our US readers! Read on to see how you can enter (and you want to enter this one, I promise!).
To enter the giveaway, leave a comment in this entry as instructed by the Rafflecopter, then leave the name you commented under and your email in the box in the Rafflecopter entry. (This allows us to contact you if you win!) This will open up additional optional entries to increase your odds of winning.
This giveaway is open to US RESIDENTS ONLY
and will end just before midnight ET on 10-14-15.
The winners will be notified by email within 24 hours after the end of the giveaway. In order to claim the giveaway prize, the winner will need to respond within 24 hours of notification, or an alternate winner will be selected.
Once the winner(s) have responded and confirm, their first name will be posted on our Giveaways page.
Good luck everyone!
a Rafflecopter giveaway