“ Get in your daily water”, With Melissa Bell and Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated

The best way to stay focused is to start out with a definite goal in mind. What is it exactly you are trying to achieve? Once you know that a great habit is to plan your weeks and days to get you there. Each week pick one big step to tackle that will get you […]

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The best way to stay focused is to start out with a definite goal in mind. What is it exactly you are trying to achieve? Once you know that a great habit is to plan your weeks and days to get you there. Each week pick one big step to tackle that will get you closer to your goal…and then break it down by what you need to accomplish each day. That way you are not overwhelmed by the totality of your plan, but just what you need to get done that day.

As a part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Melissa Bell.

Melissa Bell is a certified nutrition and life coach and is known to women as The Menopause Coach. She was recently featured in Women’s World magazine and on thegirlfriend.com.

Melissa is the creator of the Power Surge program (www.yourpowersurge.com), and is dedicated to helping women understand their hot flashes are really Power Surges!

Melissa guides women in perimenopause and menopause on a journey to restore balance to their bodies, their minds and their spirits so they can alleviate their symptoms, lose weight, boost their energy, regain confidence and become the women they were born to be.

After working with Melissa, her clients know their second half is going to be their best half.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

My childhood seems so long ago. I was born and raised in New York. I went to college in DC and then stayed there after I graduated, I worked on Capitol Hill at the Congressional Budget Office for awhile, then went on to get my MBA at Boston University. I graduated in 2001, moved back to NY and was living across the street from the World Trade Center on September 11. I lost my job, and my apartment.

It was then I decided to do what I always wanted to do, which was law enforcement. So, I was a Special Agent with the DEA for 10 years before leaving to raise my son. I loved being a stay at home mom, but when my son got older (he’s 11 now) and needed me less, I knew it was time to tap into my personal power and start my own business.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

I have been interested in, or concerned with, health and nutrition most of my adult life. I always would give mostly unsolicited advice to friends and family, but after I left law enforcement I decided to turn a passion into my career. I became a certified health and nutrition coach, but I evolved into The Menopause Coach because of my own struggles with perimenopause and menopause. I hit both of them very early, and didn’t even know what was happening to my body. I had terrible insomnia, heart palpitations, mood swings and worst of all, weight gain. Once I ascertained I was in perimenopause, I was determined to control my symptoms naturally. I went through a lot of round of In vitro fertilization before we had our son, and I didn’t want to artificially put anymore hormones into my body. So I discovered natural ways to bring my body, mind and spirit back into balance — and I alleviated my symptoms and lost the weight. Now I am determined to help other women do the same.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

Wow, so many people! I feel blessed to have had been surrounded by so many people, including my husband and son, who believe in me and what I am doing. My husband is my rock, he has sacrificed so much so I could pursue this as my career. He believes in me, even when I don’t — and as an entrepreneur, that happens a lot.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

I don’t know if this is funny or particularly interesting, but I did make the mistake that a lot of entrepreneurs make of not really defining my ideal client, who I want to serve. I think a lot of people who enter the health and wellness space don’t want to limit themselves to only serving one type of person, not because of greed but because they are coming from a place of service. They truly want to help everyone get healthy, and that is an awesome vision, but in terms of marketing it is a nightmare. I was like that too, I wanted to help everyone and by thinking that way, I was helping no-one since my message wasn’t resonating with anyone. Once I dialed in on who I really was able to serve best, women in perimenopause or menopause, that is when things started taking off.

The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

Simple, don’t quit. Most entrepreneurs fail to achieve success because they quit too soon. Many believe the path to success will be a straight line, when in actuality it looks like a doodle done by a pre-schooler. It is not linear and it is messy. But if you hold on and keep in action through the tough times, the rewards are amazing. I believe that we live in a friendly Universe, so the Universe, God, Source…whatever you call it would not give us dreams if we weren’t capable of achieving them. That being said, sometimes our dreams aren’t answered in the way we originally envisioned, so always keep your mind open to new possibilities and opportunities.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

How about a poem? It is titled “Warning” by Jenny Joseph. I’ve had it since college. It talks about how when this woman grows older she will let go of her inhibitions and do things like “wearing purple with a red hat” or 
“pick flowers from other people’s gardens” and “learn to spit”. At the end it asks “maybe I ought to practice a little now?”

It resonated so strongly with me when I was just 19, because although it is written as a “warning” to her friends and family of how she will become when she gets older, for me it was a warning to not wait until then to follow my heart’s delight. Always learn new things, have fun, dance in the rain, even start a new business at the age of 46.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

Yogi Berra’s “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might end up someplace else.”

It’s just so simple and true. You must be very clear about what you want. Not just “I want a successful business” or “I want to be healthier”. You must define your goals, like for me, it is I want to be on Inc.’s list of Top 500 Fastest Growing companies within the next 24 months. And then based upon that, I developed a plan to grow and scale my business.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

Right now I am working on building a group program based upon my successful one-on-one Power Surge program, which serves to help women in perimenopause and menopause restore balance to their bodies, minds and spirits. I am limited in my reach doing one to one coaching, and hope to be able to serve thousands of women through my group program.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?

It is important to create good habits because that is all we can control. We can not control outcomes or results as there are often outside entities and factors that can thwart our best efforts. When we create good habits we build a good foundation — we build the means by which, even if something goes not as planned in a particular situation, we are able to stand unshaken and start again. Additionally, by focusing on habits instead of outcomes, it offers an opportunity to celebrate what I call mini successes. On their health and wellness journey, for example, my clients can celebrate daily that they drank all their water, or exercised for 30 minutes, even if the scale doesn’t reflect their efforts right away. It shifts the focus to what they can control.

How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

On my own wellness journey, once I started focusing on building healthier habits, like removing caffeine, meditating daily, and eating hormone balancing foods, I noticed rapid changes in my body and mind. The same holds true for how my business has become more successful, I came up with a series of habits that are non-negotiable for me, even if I think I don’t have time for them because of a tight deadline or “mom duties” I still get them done.

Right now, those non-negotiable for me are waking up each day and listing all the things I am grateful for in my life. Too often we focus on what we don’t have, and that sets us up for frustration or anxiety. Gratitude is energizing. I exercise every day, whether it is riding my Peloton, running, weight lifting or yoga, I make sure to do something. The last thing that I do every night is to reflect upon the day. Did I learn anything new (the answer is always yes), what did I do right, what could I have done to make the day better? Things like that, I never ask myself what I did wrong — because there is no wrong. Everything is a lesson or an opportunity for redirection.

Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?

The best way to develop good habits is to do it slowly. Choose one thing each week to focus on and then build upon that. Trying to change too much at once is a recipe for disaster — just look at how many people don’t follow through on their New Year’s Resolutions. The reason so many dieters end up failing (even if they initially lose the weight) is because they went from nothing to all too fast. If you focus on building one habit a week, or even every two weeks, that is the key to success.

Stopping bad habits becomes easy once you start introducing the good ones. I like to tell people to think of it as swapping not stopping. I gave up coffee, which I never thought I would be able to do, but I just swapped it for either a mushroom drink or herbal tea. I learned it was the ritual of coffee I loved, not necessarily the coffee itself.

Let’s talk about creating good habits in three areas, Wellness, Performance, and Focus. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum wellness. Please share a story or example for each.

Three habits for optimal wellness are foremost — get in your daily water. Something so simple can have such a profound effect upon your body. An easy way to get it done is to drink a glass as soon as you get up, and then every hour get up from your desk (or wherever you are) and drink another one! Not only will it give you a brain break, but it will keep your body functioning properly.

The second habit is daily meditation, even if it is 10 minutes a day. I like to say that mediation today is like running was in the early 80s. Everyone thought their neighbor was crazy if they were running around the block — but now it’s just accepted as something that is good for you. Same thing with meditation, it is not just “woo”, it is sound science that we need to calm down our minds and reduce our stress levels. Stress is the number one predictor of death and disease.

The third habit for optimal wellness is to stop eating processed foods. Eat real food that flew, swam, ran, or grew. Not anything that was produced in a lab.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

For the daily water, an easy way to get it done is to drink a glass as soon as you get up, and then every hour get up from your desk (or wherever you are) and drink another one! Not only will it give you a brain break, but it will keep your body functioning properly.

I recommend incorporating the meditation immediately! Just kidding, but not. A lot of people have the misconception that meditation means sitting cross legged chanting “Om”, and although that is one awesome way, it is not the only way. It can be a s simple as focusing on your breath for 5 minutes, or taking a few minutes to observe your surroundings with all your senses. Even just practicing deep belly breathing when you feel yourself getting overwhelmed or stressed can reap benefits.

Giving up processed foods is hard in America. I think over 50% of the average diet is processed foods, so again, take it slowly. Opt for a grass fed burger instead of a processed substitute, swap out your white bread for Ezekiel sprouted breads, or use the rule — if you can’t spell it, don’t eat it.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal performance at work or sport? Please share a story or example for each.

For optimal performance at work, always make a habit of asking yourself what is one thing I can do today that is above and beyond? So many of us get caught up in the minutia of our jobs or businesses that we don’t take the time about going the extra mile…or even the extra inch. If you asked yourself that everyday and acted upon it, the results would be astounding.

Second, be grateful. It sounds weird in the work context, but even if you don’t love your job or your boss, be grateful for the situation you are in. Be thankful for what your situation is providing you, whether it is money to live or awareness that you need to look for a new job. It is only when we are thankful for what we have that we are able to see new opportunities. If we live in a negative state regarding our circumstances, we blind ourselves. So everyday, either when you wake up or before you go to sleep (or both!), list all the things you are thankful for. Trust me, it works.

And the third habit for optimal performance, is be true to your word. And by that I mean, if you said you were going to get up at 5:00 am to exercise and meditate, don’t hit snooze or roll over and go back to bed. How you do one thing is how you do everything. Don’t be late to meetings. When you agreed to attend the meeting, you gave your word that you would be on time. Don’t think people don’t notice you coming in late with your Starbucks cup. People notice, if you can’t be relied upon to be on time, they won’t rely on you for anything.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

I would say the best way to develop those habits, or any habit for that matter, is to surround yourself with people or a group of people where the behavior you desire is their normal behavior. It is much easier to do something and do it consistently when everyone else is too. If you can’t find a group, find one person to be your accountability partner.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal focus? Please share a story or example for each.

I hope we are on the same page when talking about optimal focus, I think of it as keeping your eye on the prize without wavering.

The best way to stay focused is to start out with a definite goal in mind. What is it exactly you are trying to achieve? Once you know that a great habit is to plan your weeks and days to get you there. Each week pick one big step to tackle that will get you closer to your goal…and then break it down by what you need to accomplish each day. That way you are not overwhelmed by the totality of your plan, but just what you need to get done that day.

Second, never check email before noon. Focus is about eliminating distractions. Email can be one of the biggest distractions of all. If you don’t check email at the beginning of the day, then you are able to spend the morning pursuing YOUR agenda rather than reacting to everybody else’s wants and needs.

Another habit that is essential for optimal focus is incorporating breaks into your day. We can only focus on something for around 45 minutes. If you spend more than that on anyone task, it will yield diminishing returns. So build breaks into your day, get up and get that glass of water, or take a quick walk around the block. It will clear your mind and allow even more creativity to flow.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

Get a planner! Seriously, if you are trying to wing it in terms of planning your month, week, and/or day — you will not succeed. Write it down and hold yourself accountable at the end of the day. Ask yourself where you fell short, where you were successful, and why? Are you trying to cram too much into one day? Did “unexpected” fires need attending? Use the time to reflect and plan your tomorrow.

Get a timer! Either use your phone, or get a kitchen timer to go off 45 minutes into any task. Then get up and take a break.

As a leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?

I think the description of Flow is perfect. I find the best way to achieve it, is to first be in focus. If you are allowing outside distractions it is almost impossible to get into Flow. Second, from my experience, it only comes when you are doing something you love, it is hard for me to get into Flow about doing laundry. When I’ve cleared my mind of clutter (though meditation) and sit down to work on growing my business or working with a client with a deliberate plan and goal, that is when Flow happens for me. And I know I am in it because I literally feel the top of my head start to tingle, and the work seems to complete itself.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I am already starting a movement! That is why I am The Menopause Coach — it’s what I am all about. What I’ve found is that most women as they reach perimenopause or menopause, they feel diminished in two ways. Diminished in the control they have over their bodies (whether it is losing weight, alleviating symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, hot flashes, etc.) and diminished in their sense of self worth (they are too old to accomplish anything, they’ve “wasted” their lives, they regret not doing that “thing”, etc.).

I am on a mission to eliminate these beliefs! We can bring balance back to our bodies by eating the right supporting foods and calming our minds. Hormone replacement or suffering are not the only options. And most importantly — I know when women reach midlife, they are the most powerful they have been. They have been forged in the fires, strengthened by life’s trials and tribulations and it is THE time for them to tap into their power and change their lives, and the world!

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

Wow, okay. I think it would be amazing to be able to meet Jamie Kern Lima, the founder of IT Cosmetics. Her story is so inspirational, and she is such a champion of women. I would love to hear her views on growing a business as a female entrepreneur and on empowering women as they age.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

They can follow me on Instagram @coachmelissabell, or through my website www.yourpowersurge.com

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

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