The importance of AM/PM rituals

Sleep | The Life Delicious | Catherine Roscoe Barr

I’m grateful for the terrible sleep I had last night.

It was a good reminder of the importance of AM/PM rituals.

Rituals, according to best-selling author Gretchen Rubin, are habits “charged with transcendent meaning.”

So, rituals are just things you consciously practice with intention.

I usually guard my sleep-supporting rituals with ferocity, and I usually have an amazing sleep.

Amazing sleeps are a relatively new thing for me.

I used to have more terrible sleeps that not before I got serious about this critical component of mental and physical health – and growing field of research.

PM rituals

Let’s start with PM rituals because I think they’re the most important.

Wake up feeling great, and you’re more likely to make great choices and have a great day.

Treat sleep like a science experiment and reverse engineer your day to create the circumstances that have you waking up feeling great.

You can continue to perfect your sleep-supporting rituals by dissecting your sleep when you wake up in the morning.

How do you feel? What did you do in the past 24 hours that could have elevated (or sabotaged) your sleep?

Did you reduce electromagnetic stimulation (screens and lighting) as it got closer to bedtime?

Did you make time to wind down physically and mentally?

Was your bedroom completely dark?

Were your bedclothes clean and comfortable, and not too hot or too cold?

Did you end your day with gratitude?

Did you eat or drink too late?

Did you have an upsetting conversation or read a stressful email late at night?

What can you do today to sleep better tonight?

AM rituals

A participant at one of my wellness retreats last year shared an awesome thought from author Tim Ferriss:

“Win the morning, win the day.”

Winning the morning is something I made a practice of doing years ago – because it has such an enormously positive impact on my life.

I try to guard the first hour of my day from any external distractions.

In silence and solitude, I hydrate.

Then I state my daily intention to manifest freedom, expansion, love, connection and gratitude.

Next, I move my body – whether it’s a series of Cat-Cow poses and Sun Salutations in my living room, a run around my neighbourhood, or a group workout at a local fitness studio.

Finally – before I check my email or social media – I make a big, healthy breakfast and sit down to eat with my husband.

What does winning the morning look like for you?

Click here to read Tim Ferriss’ 5 Morning Rituals That Help You Win the Day.

Click here to read 7 Big Things We Learned About Sleep In The Past Decade.

Practice this simple, transformative philosophy


A little bit of good is good! You don’t have to aim for perfection.

Aim for good. Aim for great! But don't aim for perfect, it's too heavy an assignment.

Whew. Isn't that a relief?

When you add a little bit of good to your life, it’s easier to gradually build from there, slowly weaving healthy rituals into the fabric of your life.

This slow and steady approach means things are less likely to unravel when life’s fierce winds blow your way.

This slow and steady approach helps you stand steadfast – contracting or expanding your healthy rituals as needed.

The holistic approach to manifesting your dreams

Banishing the all-or-nothing mentality with each pillar of the Trifecta of Wellness, and you'll experience greater ease in manifesting your dreams!


1. Stress management

* Meditation

Yes, 20 minutes twice a day is awesome, and 60 minutes is next-level awesome. But that's not always (or ever) possible, so why not start small? Small is always possible.

Maintaining a regular meditation practice can seem more manageable when you commit to just 1, 3 or 5 minutes – and as you experience the benefits for yourself, you're likely to expand the amount of time you make space for.

* Me time

Me time is mandatory for my sanity. I need to spend time alone.

How much time do you need to spend alone, doing things that fill your battery?

Figure out your acceptable minimum, and put it in your calendar at least a few times each week.

* Tribe time

Tribe time is also mandatory for my sanity. What about you?

I need meaningful social connection. I need the love and wisdom of my family and friends, and I need to share my love and thoughts with them.

I need to know I'm not alone in my struggles, and to understand myself better by knowing others.

Get creative with time and make space – whether it's in person, over the phone, or online – for your tribe.

2. Exercise

* Mini workouts

I have been way more consistent with my strength, flexibility and cardio workouts since giving myself permission to do mini versions of each.

I try to use my awesome ClassPass membership once or twice a week, but mostly I do mini-yoga and mini-strength-circuit workouts at home (10 to 20 minutes), and go for short jogs (20 to 30 minutes) around my neighbourhood.

By giving myself permission to do a little, a get the daily mental and physical benefits of exercising my heart, mind and muscles.

Check out The Life Delicious workout resources!

* Start an anti-sedentary revolution

Sedentary physiology, the study of inactivity's detrimental health consequences, should be enough of a scare to get anyone moving regularly, but it's usually best to experience something intellectually and viscerally to be motivated to action.

I challenge you to set a timer to go off every hour of the work day, to ensure you get up and move around to get your heart pumping, your circulation going, your body strong, and your mind alert.

Check out my CTV Morning Live segment, 5 Tips to Start an Anti-sedentary Revolution!

3. Nutrition

* Menu plan

Having a plan ensures your success in the eating department!

Start small from wherever you're at today. Focus on adding "good" things (and "bad" things will just get squished out without you really noticing).

Plus, I always make double dinner so we have leftovers for lunch.

Does planning a menu and grocery list for 3 or 4 meals a week sound doable?

* 70/30 rule

Have we met? I LOVE food. I dance in my chair when I eat something particularly delicious.

But I also love feeling good, in my mind and my body, and feeling good requires good food.

Amazing nutrition is absolutely essential to mental wellbeing and physical health.

I felt deprived all the time and like a total failure when I tried to eat "perfectly". Even the 80/20 rule was a bit of a stretch.

So I created the 70/30 rule! 70-percent of the time I eat "clean" for mind and body fuel, and 30-percent of the time I eat "indulgent" for spirit fuel.

What's a ratio that you can begin with today?


Convergence: Self-love


Toodle-loo, resolutions!

As we arrive in a brand new year, many of you are thinking about resolutions.

For me, the space at the end of a year holds an exciting energy and expectancy about the limitless possibilities of the year ahead.

A brand new start! Anything is possible.

But so often, resolutions leave us feeling overwhelmed by their rules and limitations, and like failures if we don’t check them off our lists.

Practices and rituals

A practice is the application of an idea, belief, or method.

A ritual, according to best-selling author Gretchen Rubin, “is a habit charged with transcendent meaning.”

I say, ditch resolutions and instead adopt practices and rituals that are rooted in self-love.

This way, not only is it impossible to “fail” but certain that we’ll feel good on the journey toward our dreams.

When we adopt practices and rituals that are rooted in self-love, we’ll be both living our dreams while we reach for them.

Three vital practices

I believe that self-love is the convergence of three vital practices:

1.       Self-nurturing

2.       Self-forgiveness

3.       Self-trust


I don’t think I’m alone in the struggle to observe and honour the needs of my mind, body and spirit.

This struggle has fascinated and infuriated me for years.

Why, when we all just want to be happy, do we neglect or even sabotage our own best interests?

In my case, the tides began to turn when I committed to becoming mindful of my actions and conscious of their impacts.

That’s it. I just shifted my mindset, got curious about my habits, and essentially pulled my head out of the sand.

(Newsflash: processed foods, sedentary behaviour and saying yes to unsuitable obligations don’t make you feel good.)

I decided to listen to my inner wisdom, and it said things like, “eat more vegetables” and “drink more water” and “get up and move around more” and “take time to be still every day.”

I can tell you from personal experience that it’s perilous to neglect your mind, body and spirit – and that layers of magic unfold when you respect every part of your being.

When you prioritize self-nurturing rituals, you fill your cup so full that it overflows into others'.

When you prioritize self-nurturing rituals, you’re not only your best, you inspire others to be their best.

You give them permission to honour their own mind, body and spirit.

This gift – being the best version of ourselves – couldn’t be further from selfish, but we often use that, or the G-word (guilt), as an excuse.

Jada Pinkett-Smith really nails it in this video, below, where she tells her daughter Willow, "You always have to remember to take care of YOU, first and foremost."


Self-nurturing ritual: create and practice stress management, exercise and nutrition* rituals that honour your mind, body and spirit.

*Read more about the Trifecta of Wellness (stress management, exercise and nutrition) HERE.


Words matter. Whether we think them, speak them, or write them, the words we use to describe our experience of the world matter.

And we reserve some of the most vicious words in our vocabulary for ourselves.

“Whenever you notice self-attack set in, simply say, ‘I forgive myself and I release this thought,’” says spiritual guru Gabrielle Bernstein. “Use this practice whenever you need it to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself.”

Practicing self-forgiveness is the most freeing, gentle, and transformative way to live.

Transform your disappointment into discovery. Get curious about how you can learn and grow from whatever it is you need to forgive.

Forgive, learn, and grow.

Self-forgiveness ritual: develop the practice of immediately forgiving yourself the millisecond a nasty thought creeps in, and shift your reaction to a growth mindset.


“When you make an agreement and you don’t keep it, you undermine your own self-trust,” says productivity consultant David Allen.

The opposite is true, too. When you honour an agreement, you build confidence and self-trust.

My mother loves to remind me (and I welcome the reminder) of my early childhood motto: “That’s impossible – I can do that!”

That motto is now the banner on my vision board, posted on the corkboard in my office.

Any time I doubt my ability to handle a situation – whether it’s a professional project, a commitment to healthy eating, or a (safe) physical challenge – I invoke my childhood motto as my mantra.

With practice, my unconscious belief in response to the fear of such situations, has become: I can do that!

Self-trust ritual: create a personalized mantra, like “I got this!” or “No problemo!” or “I can do that!” and use it every time you feel your commitment to a self-honouring agreement wavering.

#TheLifeDelicious 20 Wellness Tips & Quotes for Barre Fitness


In January, I was asked to collaborate with Vancouver's Barre Fitness for their "New Year New You" campaign by sharing two dozen wellness tips and a few of my favourite inspiring quotes.

I thought I'd share them with you here!

These are some of my favourite philosophies on living well, and incorporate the pillars of my Trifecta of Wellness: stress management, exercise and nutrition.

I'd love to hear how you incorporate these tips into your life! Share your successes, struggles and aha moments on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook with the hashtag #TheLifeDelicious!


1. Reverse engineer your happiness

Instead of thinking you’ll be happy when ___ (fill in the blank), get happy now! I call it cultivating optimal brain chemistry, Danielle LaPorte calls it The Desire Map, and Shawn Achor calls it The Happiness Advantage. Whatever you call it, take a feelings-first approach by deciding to choose actions that productive positive feelings right now, like stress management, exercise and nutrition – and then watch your wildest dreams unfold before you.

In his awesome TED talk, Achor says, “Your brain, if positive, is 31-percent more productive than your brain at negative, neutral or stressed. Which means if we can reverse the formula – if we can find a way of becoming positive in the present – then our brains work even more successfully, as we’re able to work harder, faster and more intelligently.”


2. Start an anti-sedentary revolution!

The science of sedentary physiology cautions that an intense workout doesn’t cancel out the effects of low-energy-expenditure behaviours – like sitting on your couch, at your desk, or in your car – for the remaining 23 hours of the day.

See every chance to move your body as a gift, embrace formerly-tedious tasks, reframe your thoughts on chores and errands, and identify myriad opportunities to get physical!


“Tell me, what is it

you plan to do with your 

one wild and precious life?”

– Mary Oliver


3. Banish the all-or-nothing mentality

It’s easy to declare the day, week, or month a write-off following one poor decision, whether it’s an unhealthy food choice or skipping your workout again. How many times have you said to yourself, “I’ll start ___ (eating better, exercising, meditating) ___ (tomorrow, next week, next year)”? What if you took just one teensy weensy step today?

Challenge yourself to reframe your mindset, to accept that every breath is a rebirth, each moment – each breath – presents the opportunity to make self-nurturing choices and start anew.


4. Squish out, don't deprive

Don’t think about your diet from a deprivation perspective. Add so many beneficial, delicious, good-for-you things that the unhealthy stuff just gets squished out.


5. Add more good

Boost your nutrition by making it your goal to add at least 2 vegetables to each meal. Aim for one deep, leafy green and another rich hue like orange, purple or red. Multi-colour meals equal a rainbow of nutrients!


“When you want something, 

all the universe conspires in

helping you to achieve it.” 

– Paulo Coehlo


6. Lower your stress inventory

Take an inventory of your uncomplementary stress (poor nutrition, sedentary lifestyle, negative thoughts and anxiety, toxic chemicals, toxic relationships, spiritual suffocation) and complementary stress (exercise, achieving professional goals), and work to lower your overall stress.

For example: sometimes you need gentle exercise (physical stress) if your mental stress is high.


7. Elicit the relaxation response

Take time every single day to elicit the relaxation response (the opposite of the stress response) because your body’s innate self-repair mechanisms only function when your parasympathetic nervous system is activated through the relaxation response or rest.

In addition to meditation, says physician and author of Mind Over Medicine, Lissa Rankin, “creative expression, sexual release, being with people you love, spending time with your spiritual community, doing work that feeds your soul, and other relaxing activities such as laughter, playing with pets, journaling, prayer, napping, yoga, getting a massage, reading, singing, playing a musical instrument, gardening, cooking, tai chi, going for a walk, taking a hot bath, and enjoying nature many also activate your parasympathetic nervous system and allow the body to return to a state of rest so it can go about the business of self-repair.”


“You must witness your behaviour 

if you truly want to change it.” 

– Gabby Bernstein


8. Drink a big glass of water first thing in the morning

After a night without water, you’re dehydrated, so drink a big glass of water when you wake up – and pay close attention to what an incredible difference this makes to every cell in your body!


9. Know your food's origins

If you think about origins, it’s so much easier to eat healthfully. Is this vegetable locally, organically, lovingly grown? How was this animal treated? Is this seafood sustainable? How far did this package travel – what is its carbon footprint?

It's difficult to truly enjoy eating something if you suspect that the way it was grown, raised or processed was seriously lacking in love and respect.


10. Create self-nurturing energy rituals

At the start of each week (I love to do this on Sundays), create energy rituals by making weekly action plans for stress management, exercise and nutrition:

  • make a menu plan, a corresponding grocery list, and prep your ingredients so it’s easy to whip up healthy meals and snacks
  • plan your workouts (I do a 3-day rotation of strength, cardio and flexibility) and put them in your calendar
  • set aside time for YOU, whether it’s for regenerative solitude, creative endeavors, or battery-filling hobbies


“Freedom from obsession is not 

about something you do; 

it's about knowing who you are.

It's about recognizing what sustains

you and what exhausts you.”

– Geneen Roth


11. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude

Physician, psychiatrist and author of Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, Daniel Amen says, “The best antidepressant isn’t Prozac, it’s gratitude. If you write down three things a day that you’re grateful for within three weeks you’ll notice a significant difference in your level of happiness.”

Whether you write them in your journal or make a mental note as you drift off to sleep each night, reflect on your day and list as many things as you can that you're grateful for. This trains your brain to scan the world for positives and counteract its negativity bias.


12. Improve the quality of your sleep

Sleep is essential for repair and regeneration, and even if you’re getting enough sleep (7 to 9 hours), it may be subpar.

In a nutshell, spend at least an hour winding down at bedtime, and sleep naked (orgasms are encouraged) in a pitch black, cool, electronics-free room. In a larger shell, check out my article for the Lululemon blog on 5 surprising tips for a better sleep.


“Change is effortful until it becomes effortless. 

Our brains like to use the path of least resistance, 

which is the well-worn existing path. 

Just as a river needs time to carve a canyon, 

resilient new brain pathways depend

on repetitive and deeply felt experiences.”

– Dr Amit Sood


13. Shower your love on YOU

We can be our own harshest critics, but self-loathing and self-sabotaging behaviour get us nowhere near our goals. Embracing self-nurturing thoughts and actions allows you to be your best self – and when your battery is full you have a significantly more positive influence on the world around you.


14. Spend time in nature

In the fascinating and eye-opening book The Nature Principle: Reconnecting With Life in a Virtual Age, author Richard Louv says, “Every day, our relationship with nature, or the lack of it, influences our lives. The Nature Principle is supported by a growing body of theoretical, anecdotal, and empirical research that describes the restorative power of nature – its impact on our sense and intelligence; on our physical, psychological, and spiritual health; and on the bonds of family, friendship, and the multi-species community.”


“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” 

– Mark Twain


5 surprising tips for a better sleep

Better-Sleep-header (Image: Lululemon)

I love bedtime. I love the ritual of winding down, getting clean (don't forget to floss those teeth!) and curling up in my cozy bed with a great book.

As a child I loved the bedtime ritual my parents created of reading me a story, tucking the covers in around me, kissing me on the cheek, and telling me they loved me. Sans the story, this cherished ritual continued until I got married and left home at 23.

As an adult, my wonderful husband has carried on this tradition and always takes the time to tuck me in, kiss me, and tell me he loves me (if he doesn't come to bed at the same time – I'm an early bird, he's a night owl).

I love sleep. But I've always been a light sleeper and have struggled with bouts of insomnia over the years.

However, as I've become more mindful my whole life has changed, and one of the benefits is kick-ass sleeps!

If sleeping was an Olympic sport, I'd win gold.

By practising sleep-supporting rituals I've been able to take my sleeping game to the max (and when I don't, I really feel the difference: the delayed and ungraceful dismount from bed, the inefficient groggy wandering around while my brain boots up, the increased likelihood of skipping my working, the muted tone set for the day).

Thanks to these sleep-supporting rituals, most mornings I bounce out of bed with jazz hands, ready to dance through the day. Although I do try to keep my early-morning enthusiasm to a minimum around my dear husband, who is not a morning person and likes his mornings slow and quiet.

I love to hear what experts have to say about sleep (check out my post featuring sleep crusaders Arianna Huffington and Brendan Brazier) so I can continue so improve my own sleep and find new ways to help my clients maximize the quality of theirs.

When I first heard Dr Natasha Turner, a sleep expert, naturopathic doctor and New York Times best-selling author of The Supercharged Hormone Diet, speak at a fitness conference last year I could barely sit still – she had so many sleep-related nuggets of wisdom to share! I immediately read all of her books.

I couldn't keep this knowledge to myself, and my excitement about her sleep tips turned into an interview and blog post for Lululemon.

Click here to read the full article, 5 surprising tips for a better sleep, at lululemon.com.



Energy Rituals for Stress Management



Creating energy rituals frees up precious time for productivity, creativity and community by reducing decision overload. (Image: Vega) 

This post was originally written for Vega (myvega.com).

Happiness guru Catherine Roscoe Barr shares simple tips for streamlining your daily routine

Energy is a limited resource. Wasting energy cuts into your achievements and aspirations, and as a result, wasting energy creates stress.

As a happiness expert and wellness coach, I teach people how to reduce their stress and get the most out of this one-and-only amazing life. Managing your energy is a great place to start.

The Life Delicious

In 2009, I created my company, The Life Delicious, as an outlet to teach others what I know about happiness, through my work as a writer, speaker and wellness coach.

The Life Delicious stands on three pillars, The Trifecta of Wellness:

  • stress management
  • exercise
  • nutrition

I found stress management to be the missing link from the exercise and nutrition gospel I preached as a fitness professional. I believe that overall health starts with mental health, and stress management is vital for mental health.

Energy Rituals

When I began thinking about managing energy, I came across The Energy Project, whose CEO and founder, author Tony Schwartz, created the concept of energy rituals: “highly specific behaviours done at precise times.”

I've taken this concept and applied it to the Trifecta of Wellness, creating energy rituals for stress management, exercise and nutrition.

The Organized Mind

Creating energy rituals frees up precious time for productivity, creativity and community by reducing decision overload.

“Neuroscientists have discovered that unproductivity and loss of drive can result from decision overload,” says neuroscientist, musician and author Daniel Levitin in The Organized Mind. “It’s as though our brains are configured to make a certain number of decisions per day and once we reach that limit, we can’t make any more, regardless of how important they are.”

By creating energy rituals, you’re making important, self-nurturing decisions ahead of time and freeing up mental energy for productivity, creativity and community.

Energy Action Plan

Let’s take a closer look at four different areas of stress – mental, physical, chemical and electromagnetic – so you can create a personal stress management energy action plan.

  1. Mental stress

Mental stress is insidious. It’s easy to slip into patterns of negative thinking and difficult to realize what an enormous impact it’s having your life. Our brains have a negativity bias – a penchant to scan the world for danger – which served us well when we were on the lookout for saber-toothed tigers and caveman foes, but less so now that many of our foes are less dangerous and even imaginary: a stranger jumping the queue, an insensitive colleague, a perceived disagreement with a loved one, or thinking that you have bad luck.

The good news is that it’s possible to reduce mental stress by overcoming our negativity bias and re-wiring (or re-training) our brain to scan the world for the positive.

Try this:

  • Set aside 1 minute each day to write down, or at least think of, 3 or more things that you’re grateful for and/or positive experiences that you’ve had that day. This re-wires your brain to scan the world for the positive, and reduces mental stress.
  • Set aside 5-10 minutes each day to sit in a quiet spot and focus on your breath going in and out, your torso expanding and contracting. Every time you have a thought, acknowledge it, let it go, and return to focusing on your breath. This teaches your brain to be mindful of the thoughts that are entering your mind.
  1. Physical stress

Our bodies are meant to move and a sedentary lifestyle can cause both mental and physical stress. Physical activity produces feel-good chemicals, like endorphins, and keeps our bones, joints and muscles strong and functioning properly. Exercise – physical stress – is necessary for metabolism, muscle growth and maintenance, but must be balanced with periods of rest and renewal. On the other side of the coin, too much exercise, too often, too intensely can put you at risk for injury and push your total stress load over the edge if you’re already struggling with high levels of stress in other areas of your life.  Listen to your body, pay close attention to proper form, and balance a physically active lifestyle and active recovery (like gentle yoga or low-impact swimming), with those high intensity workouts.

Try this:

  • Start an anti-sedentary revolution! Since you’re likely at a desk for your job, schedule your day into alternating sedentary and active blocks, so you’re never sitting or standing still for more than an hour at a time.
  • Schedule a workout, even a mini 10-15 minute workout, at least 5 days per week, alternating strength training, cardio and flexibility for a balance of physical fitness.
  1. Chemical stress

Vega creator, Ironman, and author of the Thrive book series, Brendan Brazier, says that over 40-percent of the average person’s stress comes from nutritional stress – i.e. consuming too much empty-calorie food and not enough nutrient-dense food.

Try this:

  • Fuel your body and mind with fresh, seasonal fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds – and look for local, organic options when possible
  • Cut out, or drastically reduce, processed and packaged foods
  1. Electromagnetic stress

Electromagnetic stress, especially in the form of screen time – TV, computer or hand-held device – can disrupt your sleep, by raising cortisol levels and reducing melatonin production, which prevents your body from properly performing its nightly regime of renewal and repair.

Try this:

  • Stay away from screens for at least an hour before bedtime – read, journal, meditate or have some fun between the sheets instead
  • Dim your lights or use candlelight for at least an hour before bedtime to promote melatonin production and optimize your sleep

Free up precious time for productivity, creativity and community by creating energy rituals to address mental, physical, chemical and electromagnetic stress on a daily basis – let me know about your success!

The Life Delicious on Shaw TV

Catherine Roscoe Barr | The Life Delicious
Catherine Roscoe Barr | The Life Delicious

My dear good friend, Johanna Ward, host of Shaw TV’s go! Vancouver and YWCA fitness instructor extraordinaire (seriously, go to one of her amazing, thrice weekly DanceFit classes) came over the other day to talk about The Life Delicious!

We exercised on my patio, talked about stress management in my hammock, and made a tasty, quick and easy curry in my kitchen. Watch the segment below.


What is The Life Delicious?

The Life Delicious is the convergence of stress management, exercise and nutrition.

Health, happiness and productivity blossom where stress management, exercise and nutrition converge!

When you prioritize self-nurturing, by creating energy rituals for stress management, exercise and nutrition – by filling your mind, body and spirit batteries – you bring your best self to the world.

When you prioritize self-nurturing, you inspire others to do the same. Imagine if everyone brought their best selves to the world!

The Trifecta of Wellness: stress management, exercise and nutrition

As a full-time personal trainer and group fitness instructor for nearly a decade, I felt there was something missing from the conversation about exercise and nutrition. In general, people know it’s important to “eat well” and “exercise,” so why is there such a serious lack of implementation? Why isn’t everyone loading up on fresh greens and gym memberships?

I believe the missing link is stress management.

A healthy mind makes anything possible. Self-nurturing – a balanced diet, rich in nutrients and open to occasional indulgence, and an active lifestyle with a diverse selection of physical activity – becomes so much easier when you have a positive, mindful, open attitude.

The Life Delicious harnesses the power of self-directed neuroplasticity

Your brain is an ever-changing, ever-evolving organ. Neuroplasticity, or brain plasticity, refers to your brain's malleability, it's ability to physically change throughout your lifetime.

Experience-dependent neuroplasticity describes the passive structural changes your brain undergoes with day-to-day thoughts, actions and experiences. What you think and do changes your brain, for better or for worse.

Self-directed neuroplasticity describes the conscious, mindful sculpting of your brain’s neural pathways. You can physically change your brain by consciously focussing on the positive. Whether you end your day by writing down a list of things you’re grateful for or positive experiences you've had, or just take a minute or two to ruminate on gratitude and positivity, you are changing your brain.

When you consciously focus on how great you feel when you eat nutritious food, move and challenge your body, and spend time doing things you love and with people you love, you are changing your brain.

Neurons that fire together wire together

Using your mind, you’re changing your brain to scan the world for the good, and you’re creating strong pathways and associations between healthy behaviours (mindfulness, physical activity and nutritious food) and happy, positive and resilient feelings.

So the next time you’re trying to manage a stressful situation, deciding whether or not to exercise, or planning your next meal, healthy options will spring to mind, reinforcing them even further.

This is such a powerful and easy-to-implement way to make a balanced, healthy lifestyle practically effortless. It’s made all of the difference in the world to me. It’s kind of magical!

Check out the fabulous TEDtalk with neuropsychiatrist Rick Hanson below on “hardwiring happiness.”


Click on the image below for the 12-minute workout I shared with Johanna.

The Life Delicious | Catherine Roscoe Barr
The Life Delicious | Catherine Roscoe Barr

Click on the image below for the coconut lentil curry recipe I shared with Johanna.

Coconut Lentil Curry | The Life Delicious
Coconut Lentil Curry | The Life Delicious

The Energy Project

TheEnergyProject (Image: The Energy Project)

I’ve had a few aha moments over at The Energy Project, so I thought I’d share some of my favourite tips from them about performance and productivity.

They offer a curriculum called peoplefuel, which “teaches people at all levels in companies to more efficiently manage their four sources of energy.” Those four sources of energy are:

  1. Physical
  2. Emotional
  3. Mental
  4. Spiritual

This concept, of taking an inventory of your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual energy, applies to everyone, including self-employed individuals like myself, and serves to make you aware of areas where your energy is needlessly being zapped.

I love the idea of regular self-inventories!

Energy Rituals

One of my favourite Energy Project concepts is energy rituals, which are “highly specific behaviours done at precise times.”

The idea is that if you develop rituals for your daily routine – setting your alarm for the same time every day, always working out first thing in the morning – you’ll have more energy leftover for the important stuff like productivity at work and being present with friends and family.

I cook a nice meal most nights of the week, which would take far too much time and energy if I didn't prepare for it, but every weekend I make a menu for the week ahead and from that I make a grocery list for all of the items I'll need. Then I pick up everything except for the produce needed for the end of the week, which I'll pick up mid-week so it's fresh when I go to use it.

That way, during the course of my day I never have to distract myself from work, thinking about what's for dinner and whether or not I have everything necessary on hand.

All I have to do is turn on some music, pour myself a drink (whether that's sparkling water or wine), and whip up a healthy meal.

Also take a look at The Energy Project’s CEO Tony Schwartz’s article about energy rituals for the Harvard Business Review.

Energy Quadrants

Another concept that struck me as useful is the idea of energy quadrants, which is defining your current energy as one of the following:

  1. Performance
  2. Recovery
  3. Burnout
  4. Survival

Schwartz says, “Human beings are actually designed to pulse. We’re most productive when we move between expending energy and intermittently renewing our four energy needs: sustainability (physical), security (emotional); self-expression (mental) and significance (spiritual).”

So, in terms of energy quadrants, alternating between performance and recovery is ideal. If you’re hanging out in the burnout or survival quadrant, it’s time to survey your energy sources, address which areas need improvement, and follow through with step-by-step actions.

Be Excellent at Anything

Lastly, Schwartz has a new book, which is on my to-read list, called Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys To Transforming the Way We Work and Live. You can have a peak at it on Google Books.