A New Spin on Achieving balance

Having a balanced life, one in which your energies are relatively evenly divided among work, play and emotional and spiritual sustenance is hugely important. But today I want to talk briefly about another sort of balance that is equally crucial to develop.

I’m referring to physical balance and agility, which is the ability to move quickly and easily and to recognize and maintain your body position in relation to other objects or persons. As we age, physical balance and agility start to decline and with that decline comes a real risk to your health and well being.

You may think, like many people, that declining balance is only a problem with the elderly, as this increases the risk of serious falls and subsequent hip fractures or even a head injury. But, as it turns out, your balance, along with strength, muscle mass and agility, starts to decline at midlife!

Try this simple test. Get out a stopwatch (you likely have one on your smartphone) or a watch and time yourself for a full 60 seconds as you try to stand balanced on one foot. Go ahead and do that now, note your results, then come back and read the rest of this article.

If you didn’t make it to 60 seconds, don’t feel too bad. A recent study in the The Journals of Gerontology found that while people who were in their thirties or forties had an average time close to a minute when they were tested, people in their 50’s were able to stand balanced on one foot for only 45 seconds. And those over 50 fared worse. People in their 60’s made it 40 seconds, people in their 70’s stood for 27 seconds on average and for those 80 and over, only 12 seconds.

Your balance is a result of a very complicated mix of factors, including inner ear functioning, strength, vision, flexibility, touch and even mental functioning. Here are some simple tips to improve your balance and reduce your risk of future problems. Note: if you have balance problems or have already fallen, please consult with your qualified medical practitioner before trying any of these.

One – As in the balance test above, practice standing on one foot while striving to increase your duration. You can do this while standing in line or while at home washing the dishes. As you build up your capacity, try closing your eyes. You may want to start by holding on to the back of a chair for support.

Two – Walk a virtual balance beam by doing heel to toe walking in a straight line.

Three – When you get out of a chair, try not to use your hands.

Four – Consider taking up tai chi and/or yoga, both of which have been shown to improve balance.

Here’s to a more balanced life!

I love to hear from you so please share any thoughts or comment below.

Suzanne xo

Discover Your Strengths to Achieve Your Goals


Evergreen Life & Wellness Coaching

Suzanne Levy, CMC, CHWC, CPPC, NBC-HWC

Associate Certified Coach, International Coach Federation

Do you use your innate strengths and talents to achieve your aims?  Do you even know what they are? Most people don’t! All of us have gifts – special abilities and assets that we were either born with or have developed over time.

This presentation will help you begin to recognize and uncover the unique Signature Strengths everyone has.  Research shows that discovering and learning how to best utilize one’s innate gifts and talents – what positive psychologists have labelled signature strengths –

  • enhances life satisfaction and well-being;
  • supports learning and creativity;
  • helps individuals identify personal values and sense of purpose;
  • aids in develop increased self-awareness and self-efficacy; and,
  • boosts positive accomplishment.

This free workshop is designed as an introduction to Positive Psychology and:

  1. Identifying top strengths and talents and learning how to use them to move forward toward goals;   
  2. Discover blocks that might prevent you from moving forward, and learn ways to begin to overcome them;  
  3. Learn how to create more of what you want in your life and less of what you don’t want;   
  4. Learn practical tools and strategies that help develop a focused, strengths-based approach to making positive choices personally, socially and academically; and,
  5. Set yourself up for success, personally and professionally.  

When:  Wednesday, April 11, 2018; 5:30 – 7:00 pm

Where:  32065 Castle Court, Suite 325, Evergreen, CO  80439

Questions?  Email me at suzanneylevy@gmail.com; Evergreen Life and Wellness Coaching, P.O. Box 206, Evergreen, Colorado, 80437; 303-670-7863.

“Success is achieved by developing our strengths,

not by eliminating our weaknesses.”

~ Marilyn vos Savant

Pets and Your Health – Five Ways Owning A Pet Can Make You Healthier


Here are five interesting (and sometime surprising!) health benefits of pet ownership:

Pets Fight Allergies

I’ll bet some of you were surprised to read this one. I know I was! Turns out that what we used to believe about pets causing allergies simply wasn’t true. Researchers have found that children who grow up with a cat or dog or who live on a farm with large animals are less likely to develop allergies as well as asthma.

Scientists believe that infants’ early exposure to pet dander and the dirt and yes, germs that come with pet ownership, actually strengthens children’s immune systems. Of course, if your child is already allergic to a particular animal, this does not mean you should expose them further. I’m sure you knew that, but just want to be clear!

Pets Are Great for Senior Citizens

True story: Some insurance companies have begun to ask consumers who are over 75 if they have a pet in the home, as they recognize the positive effects of getting exercise as part of caring for the pet as well as the benefits of animal companionship. Alzheimer’s patients have fewer episodes of anxiety when there is a pet in the home and the very presence of a pet can also benefit caregivers.

Pets Decrease Stress

If you are a pet owner, you know firsthand that simply being in the presence of a beloved pet is extremely soothing (at least most of the time!) In fact, when stroking or petting your dog or cat, your brain is flooded with the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. These are the same neurochemicals that drive drug addiction. Petting your cat or dog is a much healthier way to feel good!

Pet Are Good for Your Heart

Studies have shown that people who have had a heart attack live longer than heart patients who do not have a pet. Also, owning a cat could lower your chances of having heart disease in the first place. Researchers found that having a pet cat cut the owner’s chances of having a heart attack or stroke by more than a third.

Pet Make You More Social

Pets act as natural ice breakers. A 2015 study published in the journal Plos One found that people who owned pets were more apt to meet their neighbors than non-pet owners. If you’ve ever been out walking your dog, you know that the mere presence of the animal can make starting a conversation easier. The study also suggests that owning other pets can help to forge new social connections as well.

Post A Pic of Your Pet!

Clearly, there’s plenty of evidence that owning a pet is good for your health. I’d love to see a picture of your pet! Just go over to my Facebook page and post a pic of your favorite friend in the comments.

P.S. Fun facts: Cats rule the internet! As of 2105 there were an estimated 2 million cat videos on YouTube alone. This doesn’t even include other social networks. And CNN, that same year, estimated there were an astounding 6.5 billion cat pictures on the internet.

I love to hear from you so please share any thoughts or comment below.

Developing Your Own Personalized Wellness Plan – Six Steps to Success

In my last article, I explained why you should consider developing your own personalized wellness plan.  I also emphasized the importance of approaching your wellness plan as a living, breathing document, one that is carefully designed to help you reach your wellness goals, rather than an inflexible set of rules you must follow. As you get healthier, you’ll want to be able to easily modify your plan to keep meeting your needs. As always, please consult your qualified medical practitioner before making changes to your diet or exercise routine, especially if you have been diagnosed with a chronic condition or you are on

Developing a wellness plan might seem like a daunting task, but I’ve found that breaking it down into six manageable steps makes the process more enjoyable.

Step One – Focus

Take some time to think about and focus in on the areas of your life in which you want to make changes. Make sure you include some aspect of your physical being, but you don’t have to confine yourself to only the physical. Maybe you want to get to a healthier weight or improve your cardiovascular conditioning or get stronger. Perhaps you really want to get a handle on your response to stress or improve your attitude and mindset. Everything counts so don’t limit yourself at this stage.

Step Two – List

Make a list of the deeper reasons you want to change, if you haven’t already. Last time, I gave you a simple exercise to do that will really help you to get at your deeper motivation. If you haven’t done that exercise, please go here [link to previous article] and read the instructions on how to complete it. Don’t skip this step. Having a list of your deeper reasons for wanting to make changes can be very motivating when you become discouraged or aren’t happy with your progress.

Step Three – Choose

Now that you have examined the areas you want to change and uncovered your deeper motivations, choose three areas for your wellness plan. You don’t want to get overwhelmed by trying to make too many changes at once, as this is a certain formula for failure. When you are satisfied with your choices, decide on exactly what changes you will make in these areas.

You will have more success if you are very specific when you decide what changes you are going to make. For example, “decrease my stress” is too broad. A more specific change would be “meditating for fifteen minutes each morning,” or “walking for thirty minutes 4 days a week,” both of which are good examples of specific changes you can make.

Step Four – Distribute

For some people, spreading those changes out over time helps them to keep from becoming overwhelmed and quitting their plan. Maybe in week one of decreasing your stress level, you meditate for fifteen minutes each morning, then in week two, in addition to meditating, you add walking for thirty minutes in the afternoon. In week three, besides meditating and walking, you add another goal – say, having one cup of coffee in the morning and herbal tea for the rest of the day.

Step Five – Reward

Plan a series of small rewards you can give yourself along the way. Rewarding yourself when you achieve milestones helps to keep you motivated and makes the process fun. Don’t forget to plan a big reward when you’ve reached your goal! Some examples of small rewards are buying yourself a book you’ve wanted to read, taking yourself to a movie or a museum or anything else that brings you joy.

Step Six – Watch

Keep up with how you are doing. You may want to track your progress in a calendar. Some people prefer to journal about their experience and others like to keep a list, checking off milestones as they go. Choose something that works for you.

I love to hear from you so please share any thoughts or comment below.

Developing Your Own Personalized Wellness Plan

Most people I talk to really do want to improve themselves – their health and sense of wellbeing. Often it’s not just physical health, but other areas of life, too, such as emotional and spiritual health. Some aren’t sure where or how to start. Many have made changes successfully for a time, only to find themselves backsliding after a while. Many people make New Year’s resolutions focused around a goal such as losing weight, beginning an exercise program or giving up sugar. And while these types of resolutions may work for some people, statistics show less than 10 percent of these types of resolutions are lasting.

Listen, when it comes to wellness, it’s really not enough to set a single goal, no matter how much you want to achieve it. The best and most long-lasting results come from a wellness plan that takes into account interrelated factors such as nutrition, exercise, sleep, mood and stress management. Even better results come from a plan that is personalized to you – your lifestyle, values, circumstances, stage of life, and so on.

The healthier you are, the better you live!

Until recently, especially in the West, everything from medicine to exercise to diet was approached from a “one size fits all” perspective. One “prescription” per problem, no matter your gender, age, ethnicity or environment. But now, thanks partly to research on human genetics, we are realizing that a much more personally tailored approach to everything from weight loss to becoming a happier person is exponentially more effective when that approach is individualized.

Not only should you take into consideration things like your gender, age, ethnicity and past medical history, but also your preferences and your personality. This fine tuning of your wellness plan will enable you to build a program that is so ‘you’ that you will find it easy to stick to, and to see the results you want.

So exactly what is a wellness plan?

You’ll want to think of your wellness plan as a living, breathing document, carefully designed to help you reach your wellness goals, rather than a static, boring set of rules to follow. As you get healthier and your circumstances change, you’ll want to be able to easily modify your plan to keep up with your needs. I’ll talk more about the actual components of your wellness plan in part two of this article, but for right now, I’d like you to do one powerful thing in preparation for designing your plan. That one thing is to determine your why.

I have seen this repeatedly with my clients: Those who have a well-defined and powerful ‘why’ behind their wellness plans do so much better than those who don’t. They are able to stick to their plans without huge amounts of effort, their progress is faster and they make larger gains than those with a non-existent or weak ‘why’.

Here’s what to do. Take a writing pad and pen and go to a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. You can use your computer or tablet but trust me on this when I say your results will likely be better if you write longhand. Research shows that writing, rather than typing, activates different parts of your brain, in particular the RAS or reticular activating system. The RAS acts as a sort of filter and enables you to really focus in on what you are doing at the moment.

The first thing to do is ask yourself this simple question: “Why do I want to get in peak condition/lose weight/manage stress effectively?” Then write down your answer. But don’t stop there. Take some time to mull over this first answer and then go deeper. For example, maybe you wrote down, “I want to feel better.” But why exactly do you want to feel better? On deeper reflection, maybe it’s because you want to be able to enjoy going hiking with your husband. OK, so now do the same thing and drill deeper. Why do you want to be able to go hiking with your husband? So now the reason becomes even more compelling as you uncover your keen desire to renew your relationship with your husband on a deep level. That is the power of your why!

The Bottom Line: The healthier you are, the better you live! My goal is to help you get into peak condition to thrive in every area of your life

Here’s a quote I like from Robin Sharma: “You can’t be great if you don’t feel great. Make exceptional health your #1 priority.”

Coaching Challenge: Work on your ‘why’ and next time, I’ll go into detail about developing your own personalized plan.

I love to hear from you so please share any thoughts or comment below.