What Are You Waiting For?

My high school motto, highlighted during our graduation ceremony,
was “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”

Not an original thought. We’ve all heard that one before. I’m not
sure where the quote came from.

In fact, I’m not sure why it was our class motto. I don’t remember
ever voting on it. I don’t think any of my classmates even knew we
had a class motto…until we saw it printed on the commencement

At that point in our lives, we probably had a buoyant, optimistic
take on the idea. Yes of course, it’s the first day of the rest of
my life. Duh! And I still have many more days to come. Days, weeks
and years for that matter.

Life has yet to unfold. I expect I’ll have many more great adventures
and experiences. I’ll go out into the world and make my mark. I’ll
meet lots of interesting people, I’ll do lots of interesting things.

Then maybe I’ll settle down and get married and have a family. I’ll
buy a beach or lake house to hang out in. I’ll live to a ripe old age
and enjoy my kids and grandkids.

The world is my oyster!

OK….maybe we weren’t all that specific about how our lives would
unfold. But for most of us, there was the satisfaction of completing
an important milestone – graduating from high school (maybe I should
phrase that as “getting through high school”) – coupled with
anticipation of the new journey about to begin.

Today, as I contemplate the idea that “Today is the first day of
the rest of my life”, it resonates a little differently.

Even with my optimistic way of thinking, my good health and
abundant energy, and my intention to live – healthily and fully
engaged – til I’m at least 100 years old, I can’t shake the thought
that, possibly, more of my days are behind me than ahead of me.

That open road that could lead just about anywhere, through limitless
possibilities and adventures….is not so open anymore. Some choices
and adventures are probably behind me, just not possible anymore.

On the other hand, with my greater awareness of the passage of time,
I’m starting to better appreciate the value of MY time, here today.

How I’m spending it. Who I’m spending it with. How much of it am I
wasting. How much of it am I putting to productive, constructive use.

I don’t mean that in a negative or scared way. It’s actually

Someone once said, “The greatest invention in the history of mankind
is the deadline”. Pretty profound!

Without deadlines, nothing would get done.

Well, the end of your life is kinda like the ultimate deadline, isn’t
it? (At least in this dimension, in this earthly realm.)

So I’m not taking a melancholy view of getting older. Of possibly
having fewer days behind me than in front of me. Instead, I’m
taking a positive view and leveraging the thought of that “ultimate
deadline” to help me make some changes, make some decisions that (I
trust) will lead to continued health, productivity, and enjoyment of
life….AND be sure to fill it as full as I possibly can with love,
laughter and some new adventures.

Having a young kid around – my little man, Miguel – and a partner
who makes me laugh and loves me for who I am, just the way I am,
definitely helps me in this quest.

How about you?

Is there a decision you’ve been mulling over? Something you’ve
been wanting to do, meaning to do, but just can’t seem to pull the

Is there some adventure or new endeavor you’d like to embark on,
but you’re unsure or maybe a little afraid?

I know from brutal experience that it’s much easier to just continue
going along on the same path, doing the same routine, thinking the
same thoughts.

And if you’re life is going great, keep on doing what you’re doing.

However, my sense is that each one of us feels like we could be
doing better, at least in some areas of our life.

And each one of us still has a lot of exploration and adventures
ahead of us…if we are willing to open our minds and hearts to
the possibilities.

Well, what are you waiting for?

You Can Do It!


“Best Breathing Exercises: Transform Body Mind and Spirit with
Dynamic Energy Exercise!”

Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2013

Exercise as Good as Medicine for Several Ills

Hey – some exciting news!

Just the other day, a report from the Harvard Medical School came
out confirming something that scientists have been trying to prove
(or disprove) for some time:

Exercise is AS EFFECTIVE as drugs at preventing diabetes and repeat
heart attacks.

AND….exercise is potentially even BETTER THAN medication for
preventing additional strokes, if someone has already had a stroke.

One of the study authors at Harvard said, “Exercise is a potent
strategy to save and extend life in coronary heart disease and other
conditions. We think exercise can be considered as a viable
alternative or in combination with drug therapy.”

We already know that exercise is very helpful in improving other
conditions, such as high blood pressure, depression, cognitive
issues – even response to cancer treatments.

And when it comes to overall health, energy levels, mood, feelings
of confidence and wellbeing, exercise wins out any day over any
drug or prescription med.

So why is it that so many people don’t take advantage of nature’s
best medicine? Why do so few of us exercise regularly and

Why, as a nation, is our overall health getting poorer, our waist
lines getting larger, our butts getting wider, our rate of chronic
lifestyle diseases – such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood
pressure – getting worse and worse…even as the number of medicines

And by the way, if I see one more commercial pushing one of those
erectile disfunction drugs while I’m watching football with my 9 year old,
I’m gonna scream. Sorry guys, but I just don’t want to have to explain
that subject to my son. He’s a little young for that discussion.

And, as you can imagine (and probably remember), as a 9 year old
boy, he doesn’t have any problems in that area. In fact, I’m sure
he could never even imagine having any problems in that area!

But I digress. Actually, not too much, because a proper, regular
exercise program can help with ED.

OK, back from my rant….

As with any new self improvement effort, when it comes to improving
our fitness and health by embarking on a regular, consistent
exercise program, I think most of us get overwhelmed by the thought
of how much we will need to do, how much damage we have already
done, how far we are from where we want to be…and how much
work and effort it will take.

We psyche ourselves out, fling up our hands and say, “Maybe I’ll
start on this some other time”.

Then we rationalize our procrastination….with reasons like “I’m
just too busy right now”. Or “But I’m so tired, I just don’t have
the energy right now”. Or “I need new workout clothes, or new
running shoes.”

Yet deep inside, we know our “reasons” are a bunch of bullshit. We
are copping out, plain and simple.

Remember, you don’t have to solve your whole life problem today.

You don’t have to lose all 40 of those excess pounds today. You
don’t have to walk three miles today. You don’t have to do 50
pushups today. You don’t have to eat perfectly today.

All you have to do today is….a little. Take it “one day at a
time”. Move some. Make some healthier eating and drinking choices.

Keep it simple. Go for a walk. Do some pushups and situps. Stretch
and breathe.

Get moving immediately. Don’t give yourself the chance to start
coming up with excuses.

Just get started today. No matter how small or brief the step,
take it!

Taking action immediately helps you begin to build the momentum,
satisfaction and pride that comes from successfully following
through on a challenge.

As Goethe said, “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

All you have to do to get going toward substantial changes in your
life is to take that first step. This simple thought is one of the
keys to how I have structured my programs.

I know from experience how incredibly difficult it can be to
put aside the head baggage and laziness and self-doubt…and
just get started. So I’ve organized my programs to be easy and
fast to learn. And I’ve structured the sequence in each one so
that you can complete it in about 10 to 15 minutes – yet still
benefit mightily from it!

You see, when you discover how to harness and leverage your
breath, you know how to make any type of exercise or activity
easier to do, while giving yourself much much better results.
You unlock inner powers and abilities you didn’t know you had.
(Or maybe you suspect you have, but don’t know how to put them
into play.)

Approaching exercise and a new fitness program – or improving
on what you are already doing – can be fun and exciting, not a
reason for dread or self-doubt. See what I mean, check out
the Best Breathing Exercises programs and put one to work for
you right now.

You Can Do It!


“Best Breathing Exercises: Transform Body Mind and Spirit with
Dynamic Energy Exercise!”

P.S. If you’re interested in improving your fitness, enhancing
your health, and rocketlaunching your energy levels, you’ll
want to check out my programs. To help you get off to a quick
and easy start, I highly recommend two of my most popular
programs: The Secret Power of Dynamic Energy Exercise Course,
Volumes 1 and 2. You can learn more about them at the
Best Breathing Exercises website.

Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2013

Use the Power of Three To Accelerate Your Results

For most of us, the ideal number of things to focus on seems to be

Not sure why, but when we exceed three areas of focus or attention,
we tend to get overwhelmed.

Three is a “magical” number. From ancient times, it has been imbued
with mystical qualities.

You see it in many facets of life today. For example:

-In Christianity, we have the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy

-Sanchin kata – meaning “three conflicts” – is a fundamental form
in certain traditional martial arts, including Uechi Ryu (a
fighting art I have a black belt in and have studied over the
years) and other Okinawan and Southern Chinese styles. Sanchin
also refers to “mind, body, spirit” and the three basic conflicts
we each face in our lives on a daily basis.

-Here in the U.S., our Republican government is organized into
three branches: Executive, Legislative and Judicial.

-The rule of thumb for delivering an effective presentation or
speech is to organize it around three key points.

-The other rule of thumb for delivering an effective presentation
or speech is to convey your three key points at three different
times: tell them what you are going to talk about; talk about
your key points; then summarize what you just presented.

-My lucky number has always been three. My birth date is a
multiple of three (including the month, the date, the year…
AND all three combined). When playing sports, I always wore a
number which was a multiple of three. In high school and college,
this was “21”.

The number 21 was lucky for me EXCEPT FOR junior year softball,
when I dove for a tough hit (I played left field), fell
awkwardly, and broke my left arm. (I caught the ball though!)

Despite this one “exception that proves the rule”, I have
many other examples of how the number three imbues luck,
certainty and advantage into my life. That’s my story and
I’m sticking to it!

Now, how does this apply to you?

Maybe you also believe that three, or some multiple of three,
is your lucky number. Maybe you too have seen this pattern
play out in weird, wacky, sometimes wonderful ways.

Whether you have or not, you can put the power of three to work
for you at anytime, to help you achieve better results in any
area of your life.

As an example, I organize my life around three major areas:

-Family and community (I further subdivide this into my
immediate family, extended family, and community involvement);

-Business, career and finances;

-Personal development and improvement (which includes health
and fitness, self improvement and learning, AND spiritual

Although I have many interests, I find it easier and more
effective to use these three areas as the focal points for
my life. Something has to fit in these areas to get attention.
Often one or more areas overlaps.

Similarly, I organize my programs and the way I teach with
three primary areas in mind: body, mind and spirit.

Each of these is critical to a happy and successful and
meaningful life. Each intersects and interacts with the other,
to the point of being dependent on each other. I mean, you
can’t have triangle without all three sides.

Likewise, any health and fitness program should address all
three of these areas, so you’re doing more than just moving
around and sweating. You’re improving from the inside out,
as well as the outside in.

(Plus it’s more fun when you’re fully engaged in what you are

Now, let’s talk more specifically about your health and
fitness program. A powerful way to organize your efforts is
around these three areas:

-Aerobic and anaerobic capacity (heart and lungs)
-Strength and power
-Flexibility and resilience

This construct provides a very effective way to organize
your program. If you touch these three areas in each workout,
or cycle through each area a couple times each week, you
have yourself a well-rounded and highly effective program.

I’ve found that the power of three works in another way –
in the dimension of time (the “fourth” dimension).

When you embark on a program of improvement – be it physical,
educational, work-related – you’ll typically experience a
delay in results.

It’s been my experience that it generally takes about three
weeks – 21 days – to begin to see and feel significant

I’ve experienced this in my own training and also seen it
with those I’ve trained or worked with.

With a well constructed program, you may begin to FEEL
better early on. But you may not see results right away,
in terms of pounds lost, reduction in waist size, increase
in strength, and so forth.

This is one of the main reasons people get discouraged and
don’t stick to their fitness or health programs.

Don’t let this derail you! Give it time – give it at least
three weeks.

I promise, if you stick it out and work your program, within
three weeks (21 days) you will begin to see – and FEEL –
significant improvements in your health, energy levels and

This also pertains to work and educational settings. For
example – and this is going back years now, but….

When I first started out in the financial services industry,
I worked for Citibank as an account executive. Our job
was to win new customers, as well as keep existent
customers happy. We were paid a small base salary, so most
of our compensation (which could be quite good) was

This basically meant that, if I wanted to make good money,
I had to get off my duff and do a better job prospecting for
qualified leads, talk to more people, get better at sales,
provide excellent service so my customers loved me (and
recommended me to others), and so forth.

Whenever I got serious about this, I focused on an area to
improve, buckled down an dgot to work…it took about three
weeks – 21 days – to begin seeing the results of my renewed
effort, or of the new strategy or technique I was testing or

I knew if I just stuck with it through those first few
weeks, I would get results. Results in terms of new deals in,
happier customers, more closed deals, higher commission checks.

It never failed. It always happened.

This was a critical experience for a young lady just starting
out in the work world. It held the seeds of a very important

The virtues and rewards of working hard, being willing to
take a risk or two, and being willing to push yourself
to get better and better.

Put the “Power of Three” to work for you, starting today.

You Can Do It!

“Best Breathing Exercises: Transform Body Mind and Spirit with
Dynamic Energy Exercise!”

P.S. Whether you want to lose weight and look and feel
better…or improve your breathing and stamina so you have
more energy…or take control and transform the stress
in your life….I’ve got the programs that can help you.

For more information on specific programs available at
the Best Breathing Exercises site, visit
http://www.bestbreathingexercises.com – and get started

Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2013

Three Easy, Simple Ways To Maximize Your Energy and Focus

In my previous blog post, I extolled the benefits of taking time
off every so often to get away, have some fun and rejuvenate.

But what do you do when you can’t take time off?

This is pretty common these days. People in Europe have it better
than we do in the U.S. – they typically take 5 to 6 weeks of
vacation every year. Here in the U.S., people have been taking
fewer vacations, and fewer days off when they do go on vacation.
This has been a trend for quite a number of years.

The recent economic crisis and very slow, almost impossible to
detect recovery has made this even worse. For many working people,
it can be tough to get away. You’re expected to “do more with
less”; in fact, you’re probably doing the work that used to be
performed by three people.

Plus, in many companies (including a few I have worked at), it’s
an unwritten rule or expectation that you check in with the
office, or check and respond to email, even while you’re on

The reality is, the business world ain’t gonna give you any
breaks. You have to give yourself your own breaks. You have to
find ways to manage your energy and maximize your powers on a
daily basis.

If your energy is not well controlled, you may experience
significant levels of fatigue, malaise, and even depression.

Revving up your energy levels and giving yourself the
opportunity to rejuvenate and replenish each day, every day,
is important from a productivity standpoint…and from a life
management standpoint.

When you are manage your life, you feel more in control. When
you feel more in control, you enjoy life better.

So, here are a few things you can do to rejuvenate and
replenish each day.

First, make sure you get enough sleep. Easier said than done,
I know. But it’s worth making the effort.

I find when I get a good night’s sleep…or better yet, have
had two or three nights of good sleep in a row…I blast
through each day like a steamroller over hot pavement.

Second, tune in to your own natural energy rhythms during the
day. There are specific times during your day when you are at
your best.

Identify these times and try to schedule your most challenging
work or home related projects or tasks during this time.

Third, get regular doses of exercise. I speak about the benefits
of exercise often, so no need to repeat here.

Even if you don’t have time for exercise, you can always spare
10 to 15 minutes for some deep breathing and light stretching.

For an instantaneous energy blast, one that lasts all day long,
I highly recommend the exercises from the Secret Power of
Dynamic Energy Exercise Course, Volume II: The Dynamic Energy

Breathing and movement are natural, internal, intuitive and
awesomely effective ways to wake up your internal energies and
power. Tap into them regularly.

Here’s one more area to consider: your use of technology.

Most people I know in the work world have become slaves to

Once upon a time, I briefly worked for a guy who had one of
the worst Blackberry addictions I’ve ever seen. He couldn’t
get through a conversation – even a relatively brief discussion
– without checking his “Crackberry”.

When traveling, he was on it the entire time to, in and from
the airport. I think he probably was on it while he was peeing
in the men’s room.

I was in one too many meetings with him – including important
meetings with clients – in which he had that thing in his lap,
clacking away with his thumbs.

At one meeting, where his lack of attention to the discussion
was clearly – and embarrassingly – apparent to the client, I
felt like asking him if he was having fun playing with himself.
But I thought better of it.

Turns out, the Crackberry addiction correlated to a number of
deficiencies in his skills and attributes as a manager or
“leader”, as he fancied himself. He wasn’t at that company
much longer.

You can’t really lead your people or your clients if you sit
and play with yourself – ahem, I mean play with your Crackberry –
all the time.

OK, enough with the rant.

My main point is NOT to be a slave to technology. Establish
specific times you will check and respond to email or texts.
Turn the work device off when you are home. Put down your
smartphone or iPad and actually look at your spouse or your
kids when they are talking to you.

And by all means, especially if you value getting a good night’s
sleep: don’t keep the thing on your nightstand, turned on and

Email, cell phones, texting, etc., are meant to be tools, to
help you do your job better. They help keep you in touch.

But you have to turn that stuff off for specific periods of
time, so you can actually sit, concentrate, and get your most
critical tasks and projects completed. Or spend some quality
time with yourself, your family or your friends.

Sometimes, to get more done of higher value to your business
or your life, you have to stop doing things of lower value.

So keep asking yourself, “What’s important here?”

Do I have to answer every email that comes in immediately? Or
should I carve out two hours to complete this project that will
push my business or career forward. Or should I take the time
to exercise, or play with my kids?

By giving your mental and physical batteries time to recharge,
you will become more relaxed, aware and alert…and achieve more
with less effort.

That’s a prescription for a more successful and enjoyable life.

You Can Do It!

“Best Breathing Exercises: Transform Body Mind and Spirit with
Dynamic Energy Exercise!”

P.S. Remember, breathing and movement are natural, intuitive
and awesomely effective ways to wake up your internal energies.
You can tap into the power, motivation and abilities you already
have – easily and consistently – through specific types of
breathing and exercise.

Tap into your own source of energy with the Secret Power of
Dynamic Energy Exercise Course, Volume II: The Dynamic Energy

Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2013

Self Scripting to Beat the Clock

Well, the house has been empty and I’ve been knocking around here
by myself for the past week.

Our son is with my parents for a few weeks during summer vacation.
My better half had to leave suddenly to help out a family member.

Which leaves me and the pets – our two dogs and two cats.

They’ve been congregating near me, following me around so
closely, that I’ve tripped over them a few times – even the cats.
It’s almost like they are thinking, “Hey, did Karen knock off
everyone else? She’s the only one left who can feed us. We better
stay close!”

At first, the thought of some alone time was appealing. I could
spend more time on writing and on my businesses, and not have to
knock off work for family time in the evening. And it has been
great. I’ve been able to get to a few things that I just hadn’t
been able to get to before.

But I’ve also felt lonely. I miss my peeps.

My idyll will dissipate in a few days when the family members
begin to return. In fact, within a few days we’ll have a houseful
of kids. (But that’s another story…)

When I’m working, I tend to write out a to-do list for my day.
I’ve also started to “script” my day. This is a time
management practice advocated by Dan Kennedy, the well-known
small business and marketing guru.

I first heard this idea of scripting your day from Dan a few
years back. I don’t think I’ve heard much about it from anyone
else. Dan says that the to-do list is good, but it’s not
enough. It’s too easy to get distracted and have something –
or things – come up and throw you off course.

A key point of scripting is the fact that people rarely
set an end point for a task.

For example, if you’re going to write an article, or finish
reading a report, you probably have it on your to-do list,
and may even have an idea as to when you are going to start.
But many if not most people do not establish an end point,
by which they must finish the task.

And this can lead to the task’s taking longer to complete
than it should.

What’s that old saying? “Work expands to take up the time
you’re at work.”

Well, getting back to my experience this week:

At the beginning of the week, I didn’t script myself. I
figured I could work as long as I needed to, because I
wouldn’t have to break off when the family got home, to
hang out or help make dinner.

The day was like a wide expanse laid before me, with
no strict cut off time. Nice!

However, within a day or so, I found out that – goldarnit –
that old saying is correct!

Work DID expand to take up more time than it should have.

So….the last few days, I have been back to scripting my
day. While it feels more confining, less fun, and less
“spontaneous”… it also works better. It keeps me focused,
in gear, and I feel better because I get more done.

As an unreformed procrastinator, I’ve found it indispensable
to breaking through my tendencies to delay, or pick up
something else (usually easier) to work on.

I highly recommend scripting and scheduling yourself. Just
as you place an appointment into your calendar, try
adding specific tasks, or portions of tasks, into your
calendar for the day.

Be sure to give yourself some down time here and there,
to take a break, get some food, and renew yourself.

Then crack the whip and get back to work. Focus and
get it done in the time you have allotted.

Word of warning: we often underestimate how long it will
take us to complete a task or job, at least at first.
So give yourself a little slack. You’ll get better at it.

On the other hand, hold yourself accountable. If you’ve
scheduled this hour to work on something…work on it!
And nothing else.

If you’re busy and time starved – which most of us are
these days – you’ll appreciate the difference this can
make in your perception of time.

You’ll feel more in control. You’ll be getting things –
important things – done.

You Can Do It!


“Best Breathing Exercises: Transform Body Mind and Spirit with
Dynamic Energy Exercise!”

P.S. By the way, I recently realized I’ve been using this
principal of scripting my time for years, in a specific
area of my life: working out. I’ve always tended to
schedule a specific amount of time to complete my
work out, and I’ve always planned what I’m going to do
in advance. So, here’s another application of this
principal that I highly recommend!

Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2013

Do You Need A Time Out?

“Do You Need A Time Out?”

If you have (or had) young kids, you’ll find that phrase familiar.

I’ve used it more times than I care to remember. However, my son
Miguel is getting older (turning 9 in a few weeks, I can’t believe
it!), so I’m hoping I won’t have to say it too many more times.

I don’t think I’ve shared this with anyone in these email tips – I
may have mentioned this in my print newsletter once (which, by the
way, I will be starting up again soon) – but, parenting Miguel has
been, and can be, quite stressful.

You see, he was diagnosed with ADHD. He’s somewhere on the autism
spectrum (fortunately at the high functioning end, but no
professional we have worked with can tell us exactly where). He
also has some sensory integration issues.

Any parent or grandparent with kids “on the spectrum”, or with
ADD or ADHD, knows that there is high co-morbidity, or common
occurrence, of these conditions. In other words, if a kid has one
one of these things going on, they probably have others going on

We always felt that Miguel was a little different, even from his
earliest weeks. He was difficult to comfort. He would sometimes
have a tough time settling and getting to sleep. His expressive
language skills developed a little late.

I remember when his first preschool teacher approached me about
having a conference.

I thought, “Wow! His first year in school and I’m already being
called in for a conference? This can’t be good!”

This preschool was run by our church, where they offered
“classes” two mornings per week for toddlers. I enrolled Miguel
because it seemed like a nice, well-structured program with
plenty of playtime.

I probably should have waited a year, but something
instinctively told me to start working on certain things early,
such as socialization, being able to adapt to a learning
environment, being OK with not having mommy around, and so

Anyways, Miguel’s teacher was almost apologetic when she met
with me. I guess she expected me to take offense at what she
had to say. She told me she noticed some things she thought
were significant, and that I should consider having him

You could tell she had had this conversation before and had to
deal with pissed-off parents, who didn’t want to hear anything
negative about their kids.

I quickly put her at ease and told her that our family also
suspected something significant was wrong.

However, I have to admit: hearing it from a professional put a
sort of finality on it. Like, no more dismissing it as
“something he will grow out of”, or maybe it’s not as bad or
significant as we feared.

I mourned for a few days. I processed what we were facing, and
I enlisted my family’s support – which, of course, they were
happy to give. And we got busy.

It’s not always been easy. In fact, at times it’s been
massively frustrating. As in pull out your hair, get in a fight
with your spouse, want to kick the cat (well, not the cat part)
massively frustrating.

Raising a kid on the autism spectrum- with ADHD to boot! – can
be quite challenging.

At times, I let the stress get to me. For awhile there, I was
runing around as a single mom, working full time, trying to run
another business on the side (in my “spare time”), and parenting
a kid who needed lots of time, attention, routine and structure.

Later, I was blessed to get back in touch with the love of my
life, and we have been parenting Miguel together. So I’ve had
more help. And Miguel has had the benefit of another parent who
loves him.

Also, my parents and brother have always been very supportive
and very involved with Miguel. So we are very lucky.

For awhile there, my work demands lead me through a period of
heavy travel, which added to my stress and guilt. My constant
comings and goings sometimes disrupted the routines and rhythms
that are so critical for kids like Miguel, whom the slightest
change can set off.

During these years, there have been times when I’ve put less
time – or no time – into my own self-care. I’ve ignored my own
advice (!) and dropped my fitness regimen. I’ve barely kept up
with my breathing and energy practice.

I paid the price.

I quickly learned that this was a terrible mistake. If I don’t
take care of myself, no one else will. And I won’t be present
for my son and the rest of my family like I should be.

It’s similar to when you are flying with your kids. What does
the flight attendant always tell you? “In the event of an
emergency, put on your own oxygen mask first, then put on
your child’s mask.”


While our journey is a work in progress, I am happy to tell you
that we’ve seen remarkable changes during the 9 years this
litle angel named John Miguel has been on Planet Earth.

Miguel is intelligent, enthusiastic, with an infectious smile
and laugh. He’s got the cutest little dimples when he smiles.

He loves to read. He loves building things, like Legos. He
loves his Xbox. He likes to shoot his BB gun, play soccer,
and play army or special forces. He wants to be in the
military, then maybe become a police officer.

He’s doing great in school. He’s active in sports. He has
a few buddies he likes to hang with, and he’s popular with
his classmates at school and at the after school academy he

He still requires a high level of diligence, attention and
energy – but that’s OK. Because we love him and are so very
proud of him.

And because I can’t imagine life without him.

I’ve shared all this with you because I want you to know that
I get it – I GET IT! – when you say you don’t have the time,
or don’t have the energy, or are just too overwhelmed with
life right now to start a new fitness or health regimen.

Even something that requires only a small investment of time –
like most of my programs – can seem out of reach when you feel
like you have little to no time for yourself.

It’s easy to get caught up in the stress and pressure of your
day. You may start the day with great plans and positive
expectations. But invariably things pop up that take you out
of that “constructive” mindset.

It’s easy to get frustrated when this happens. It’s hard enough
to stick to breathing practice, or a nutrition plan, or an
exercise program, as it is. When life throws in extra obstacles,
it can make you feel like you will never achieve your goals.

Well, I don’t have the magic answer that will make all those
challenges, obstacles, and energy depleters go away.

But I do have a suggestion for how you can “take back” most or
all of your energy and focus. It’s something I learned – then
had to re-learn, because I blew it off for a few years – and
it really works.

Put yourself in time out. And practice a few minutes of deep

Doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Just sit (or stand) and
gradually slow and deepen your breathing. At the same time,
focus your thoughts internally, on how you are feeling.

You can actually breathe into the stress and tension by
breathing into the tight spots in your body.

As you breathe into these tight spots, imagine every breath
is unlocking or melting them away, bit by bit.

Every inhalation surrounds them and infiltrates them.

Every exhalation releases them and carries them away.

A few minutes of this type of breathing and visualization
will naturally relax you. It will help you focus more positively
and constructively on what is really important in your life.

And it can help short-circuit any destructive behaviors –
like over-eating, yelling at your kids, being cranky with
your spouse, or kicking the cat – which may have become your
method for coping.

This is no panacea. It’s not going to work 100 percent of
the time.

But it’s a lot more pleasurable than the alternatives. And it
helps you assert control over your life, and your behavior, in
a very powerful and intelligent way.

You Can Do It!


Best Breathing Exercises: Transform Body, Mind and Spirit with
Dynamic Energy Exercise

P.S. Whether you wish to improve your energy levels…enhance
your ability to manage stress…or you’re finally ready to lose
weight and stick with a healthy nutrition and fitness

Your best strategy is to get centered and focused with the
magic of proper breathing. The Best Breathing Exercises programs
can help you do just that. For more information on the program
that could be just right for you, visit the Best Breathing website.

Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2013

How Your Failures Actually Help You Succeed

If you’ve failed to achieve your goals or objectives during the
first half of this year – or, if you’ve accomplished less that you
had hoped you would by now…

Relax. This is actually a good thing.

I know this sounds counter to what we all normally think. We
realize the first half of the year is over, and we may not be
anywhere close to where we wanted to be at this point. This is
not a good thing…or is it?

Goals and actions such as starting a new health and fitness
regimen so you feel more energetic and lose that extra weight…or
leveraging conscious breathing to assert more control over your
thoughts and reactions, so you feel less stressed and hectic all
the time….

These are worthy efforts that aren’t necessarily easy.

The path to these end states, the process itself, is fairly
straightforward. Simple, even. But not easy. The path requires
time and sustained effort.

As I discussed in my last tip, if you’re thinking, “It’s
already July and I’m already behind, so maybe what’s the use,
I’ll just cave on my goals like I did in previous years”….

Stop that train of thought! Flick on the red flashing lights
and pull the brake handle.

Oh yea, and take a deep breath. Maybe several deep breaths.


You’ve still got plenty of time for course correction, plenty
of time to get it together and reach those goals…or make
significant progress toward them, which is the hallmark of

One of your first steps to getting back on track should be an
honest assessment of your mindset.

Your mindset drives everything.

A common affliction – one of the banes of humankind and
significant achievement – is the fear of failure. A few years
back, after much introspection, I realized that this has been
a significant issue for me.

Fear of failure means you’re more worried about what other people
will think if you try something and can’t do it, or aren’t good
at it. It can hold you back from trying new things, developing
new skills, taking risks.

It can manifest itself as always playing it safe, sticking with
the routines and habits you know so well today. It’s that loud
voice in your head telling you not to commit 100 percent to
a goal, because that way, if you don’t achieve it, you have
an out or an excuse.

I could go on and on about how fear of failure holds us back.
I think everyone has it to some extent or another. Unfortunately,
we pound it into our kids’ heads too, if we’re not careful.

You can’t just magically click your fingers and rid yourself
of this fear of failure. But you can shift your focus to a new
mindset…one that shoves failure thinking to the side.

Researchers who study the secrets of high performance have found
that an individual’s mindset is one of the most important
predictors of success and achievement.

If you predominantly have a “fear of failure” mindset, you’ll
worry about what other people think, you’ll be more needy for
social confirmation, and you will likely not push yourself to
try something new outside of your comfort zone.

And…you will stagnate, not get any better, maybe even give up.

On the other hand, if you switch your thinking to a growth
mindset, you will leverage the driving force to master skills,
improve yourself, and do better today than you did yesterday.

It seems weird, but a little failure can be the key to success.

Having to overcome adversity or failure, or things taking longer
than you “think they should”, can be the rocket fuel that
fires you up and launches you to ultimate success.

So, as you face the rest of this year head on, don’t let your
negative self-talk – that monkey chatter, as they call it –
get in your way. Replace it with growth thinking. See your
efforts as a challenge – a positive challenge.

And allow the challenge to fuel a sense of urgency.

It’s so easy to get complacent. The path of least resistance
is to throw up your hands and say, “Oh well, guess I won’t
achieve [insert your goal here] this year. Guess it wasn’t
meant to be. At least not for me.”

Don’t settle for this. You deserve better!

And when I say deserve, I say it with the same intention as
Churchill when, during World War II and the height of the
Battle of Britain, he told England to “Deserve victory!”
Churchill Deserve Victory

He didn’t mean England was good and Nazi Germany was bad and,
therefore, England deserved to win.

He meant, let’s make damn sure we do everything we possibly
can, to the ends of our resources and endurance, to EARN

Earn your own personal victory this year! Stay the course,
or get back on course, and keep moving in the direction you
have set out for yourself. Honor the commitment you have made.

I’d like to share a piece of advice from the Hagakure, an
old Japanese book of wisdom written by a famous Samurai,
Yamamoto Tsunetomo (1659 – 1719).

He discussed the four vows he had taken, and that he advised
every Samurai to take. They included: commitment to the way of
the Samurai: commitment to one’s work; faithfulness to one’s
parents; and to develop compassion and act for the sake of

When I first read this passage, the next part really captured
me. Yamamoto says:

“If one dedicates these four vows to the gods and Buddhas
every morning, he will have the strength of two men and will
never slip backward. One must edge forward like the inchworm,
bit by bit. The gods and Buddhas, too, first started with a

Edge forward, inch by inch. Never slip backward.

There are less than six months left this year. Let’s git

You Can Do It!


“Best Breathing Exercises: Transform Body Mind and Spirit with
Dynamic Energy Exercise!”

Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2013

We’re At The Midway Point of the Year. How Are You Doing?

Did you know that, every 6 to 7 months, every cell in your body is

Just think, by late December, you will have an entirely new body
at the cellular level.

We’re just past the midway point of this year. How are you doing?

Have you achieved some of the goals you set for yourself? Are you
making progress toward other goals and objectives that ultimately
lead to your dreams, and the ideal life you visualize for yourself?

If not, what’s going on? What has been keeping you from making the
progress you’d like to make?

Believe it or not, you’ve still got plenty of time for course
correction, plenty of time to get it together and reach those
goals…or make the significant progress toward them that is the
true definition of success.

Our body’s renewal at the cellular level clues us in to a great way
to think about the rest of this year.

Instead of thinking only of what you want to accomplish, or what
you have to get done…think also in terms of renewal.How can you
begin to renew yourself; to become the person you want to be; to
do the things you want to do; to move closer to the life you

How can you get that old energy and enthusiasm back; or get it to
begin with, if you never had it?

Many people – myself included – often look at their progress, or
lack thereof, and chastise themselves.

You probably do this too.

You dwell on your inability to stay focused, to be self-disciplined.
You wonder, “Why, why, why do I continue to procrastinate on
important things, even though I know getting them done will
make such a huge difference in my life?”

Not to sound like a softie, but….Stop being so hard on

Chastising yourself will not get you anywhere.

Better to honestly assess how you’ve handled certain things
during the first half of the year, and figure out – again,
honestly – the specific things you need to change or do
differently to get back on track.

As you do this, try out this idea which as helped me a lot in
transforming bad habits or developing new, good habits:

As you think about an unwanted habit, such as eating too
much, or procrastinating on important projects, or wasting
energy on negative thinking….approach it constantly with
this question:

“Will this thing I am about to do (or think) strengthen me
or weaken me?”

If what you are about to do – gobble down some cookies;
blow off the hour of focused work you said you would do;
react negatively to a new idea – will weaken you….then
don’t do it.

Step away from the ledge. Take a deep breath or two. Tell
yourself you’re better than that.

If what you are about to do – eat a salad instead of potato
chips at lunch; coax yourself into that project by committing
to work just 15 minutes on it; open your mind and heart to
considering that new idea or new approach – will strengthen
you….give it the green light, jump right in and – as they
say here in Texas – “Git ‘er done!”.

Key point: How you envision or position your actions (do
they strengthen me or weaken me?), and how you talk to
yourself about your desires and goals, has a massive, albeit
unconscious, impact on the quality of your actions…and
therefore on the quality of your results.

Don’t think in terms of denial, discipline, gotta get
going, etc., etc.

Think in terms of renewal, getting better, getting stronger.

I’ll finish up with one of my favorite quotes from Bruce Lee –
one that I first read as a young girl and have tried to
follow during much of my life:

“Ever since I was a child I have had this instinctive urge for
expansion and growth. To me, the function and duty of a
quality human being is the sincere and honest development
of one’s potential.”

You Can Do It!

“Best Breathing Exercises: Transform Body Mind and Spirit with
Dynamic Energy Exercise!”

Got a question or comment for Karen? Email her at kavanness@att.net.
Your question or comment could end up in a tip one of these days!

Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2013

Dust From Africa In Texas? How Could This Be?

We’ve had some hot, hot days here already in my beautiful corner
of Central Texas.

Unlike the East Coast, where I used to live, hot days in the
Austin area are typically dry days. And clear days. We don’t
usually experience that hazy, smoggy view in the distance
you get in more humid, urban areas.

This week, however, we have had several hazy, almost smoggy days.
Usually we have a lovely view across the hills and lake where we
live. But our views are a obscured right now. I see haze where I
should be seeing hills.

What the heck is going on?

Am I back in Beijing?

Well, it turns out this haze and smog is actually caused by dust
and sand which has floated over here from Africa.

From Africa? All the way to Texas?

Wow, that puts a whole new shine on the globalization thing!

Here’s the scoop from our friends at NOAA:

“Saharan dust often travels across the Atlantic thanks to a hot,
dry, dusty layer of air known as the Saharan Air Layer. Extreme
daytime heating of the Sahara creates instability in the lowest
layer of the atmosphere, lofting dust particles into the air.

The dust-laden air layer continues warming as it travels westward
across the Sahara. As the Saharan Air Layer moves off the west
coast of Africa, it passes over a cooler, wetter layer of air.
This temperature inversion (air usually cools with altitude)
prevents mixing, enabling the dust layer to travel across the
ocean intact.”

And continue on into Texas.

Mother Nature never ceases to amaze.

This reminds me of the time back in the 1990s when Mount
Pinatubo, a volcano in the Phillippines, erupted. It also
spread ash and dust all over the planet. This resulted in
beautiful, multi-colored sunsets over the next couple of years.

I bring up this latest “global dust road trip” because these
events obviously can cause people some irritation of eyes,
sinuses, and lungs. I have felt it in my eyes and my nose is
a little stuffy.

While mild, these symptoms remind me of how things used to be
when I suffered from asthma.

(If you’re interested in reading more about my asthma and how
I overcame it, click here.)

One of the best things I ever did when I was working on improving
(and eventually overcoming) asthma was to learn as much as I
could about breathing and breathing techniques.

And I learned a very important fact: the numero uno predictor
of how long each of us will live is….our lung capacity.

A number of studies, including the very highly regarded Framingham
Heart Study (which has been going on for over 50 years), have
found that lung capacity is the best predictor of longevity.

The bigger your lungs, the more air they can process, the longer
you live. Unfortunately, once you hit your 30s, your lung capacity
begins to decline. In fact, depending on how active you remain, by
the time you hit 70 you’ll lose about 50 percent of your lung

In order to improve and preserve lung capacity – and therefore,
YOUR capacity for living – you’ve got to build up a reserve.

You may think this means jumping into an aerobic exercise program.


To a certain point, aerobic exercise is OK. But unless you are a
marathon runner, there is no need to do a lot of it.

For a superior investment of time, focus on your breathing exercises;
perform shorter, more intense interval training two to three times
per week; and include two to three brief, well-rounded strength
training sessions per week.

Strength training can consist of lifting weights, performing
bodyweight exercises and other types of calisthenics, performing
dynamic energy exercises, dynamic tension….or even a mix of
all of the above. You get to choose your fun!

You can program your strength training so that it provides strength
and lean muscle building effects while also giving you the
cardiovascular work you need to improve lung capacity.

The truth is, aerobics can actually decrease lung size. Sure,
your lungs may become more efficient. But their overall capacity

On the other hand, focusing directly on your breathing – as with
the exercises in the Secret Power of Dynamic Energy Exercise
Course, Volume II: The Dynamic Energy Routine
– is the surest way to
build lung capacity.

These exercises tone and strengthen the muscles and structures
that support healthy, proper breathing. Proper breathing can also
lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and help you burn more

This type of program was the linchpin of my efforts to overcome
a debilitating disease, get back in shape and achieve the
health and energy I was missing.

Earlier today, as I thought back to those “bad old days” with
asthma, I was reminded of an old book I found and read. It’s
actually one of many I have found over the years on breathing,
health, and fitness. It was written in 1936 by a leading
exercise and fitness professor, Dr. Thomas K. Cureton, who was
professor of physical education at the University of Illinois.

In one of his books, he wrote several paragraphs that turned on
some lights in my head.

Keep in mind, I was desperate for some answers to my deteriorating
health. At the time, the meds and inhalers my doctors had
prescribed were making my asthma worse, and I hated becoming
dependent on them.

I also detested my inability to train at the high levels to
which I had become accustomed. I never knew if a martial arts
class or sparring match might become another asthma incident.

Dr. Cureton reached out to me across time and space with
the following bit of advice:

“Breathing is emphasized here because in order to achieve
physical fitness you must develop the habit of breathing
regularly while exercising so that you will (1) avoid fatigue,
and (2) increase the capacity of your respiratory system.

“If you pay close attention to yourself while you exercise
you will find that you have a natural tendency to hold your
breath, particularly when you are performing high-tension
or unfamiliar exercises. Rather than capturing more air in
your lungs and thereby giving you greater endurance, holding
your breath only serves to deplete the supply of oxygen,
speed up the accumulation of carbon dioxide, and cause your
muscles to become fatigued more quickly.

The habit of breathing regularly during all forms of exercise
can be developed through conscious practice of deep inhalation
and forced exhalation. Breathing drills also help to build up
lung capacity. A deep breath held for a few seconds will
increase the air pressure in the lungs by forcing air into lung
tissue that is not normally active in breathing.[You can] build
your lung capacity by breathing regularly and fully during all
forms of exertion.”

These three paragraphs were a godsend to me at the time. They
helped to confirm that I was heading in the right direction
with my initial experiments in fully incorporating breathing
into everything I did.

Whether you’re looking to increase your lung capacity, vitality
and endurance….are overweight and need to lose some L-B’s….or
could use some extra energy to propel you through your day…a
solid program of targeted breathing exercises, intervals, and
well-rounded resistance training is the way to go for optimal

You Can Do It!


“Best Breathing Exercises: Transform Body Mind and Spirit with
Dynamic Energy Exercise!”

P.S. The combination of deep breathing with specific, targeted
exercises that build lung capacity, vitality and stamina is a
true powerhouse — and the foundation of my own health and
fitness regimen. I teach and demonstrate this core set of exercises
in “the Secret Power of Dynamic Energy Exercise Course, Volume 2:
The Dynamic Energy Routine”. For more information, or to acquire
your own copy of the program, click here.

Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2013

The Underestimated Power of Convenience

Here’s how a simple little thing can make a world of difference
in your life.

I work a lot at home. In fact, I’m fortunate to be able to do most
of my work from home.

Yes, I often have meetings, and sometimes have to travel, which
takes me away from my home and family. But having done the
corporate thing for so long in my career, I can tell you
unequivocally that I am much more productive working from my home

Working from home affords me other advantages as well, including
a short 10 second “commute” into my home office and more time
with my partner and my son.

I also enjoy the company of my “cubicle mates” – our two dogs,
ZuZu and Clint, and our two cats, Stella and Isabella. The four
of them hang out while I work. They occasionally “supervise” and
make sure I am staying productive.

Here's ZuZu and Clint - Hard At Work
Here’s ZuZu and Clint – Hard At Work

Because I do a lot of work on the computer, I used to be tethered
to my desk. Then I set up a wireless network in our home. This
has allowed me to work from anywhere in the house, including out
on our back porch, which is set up like an outdoor room including
living room, dining table and chairs – and a lovely view of the

When the weather is nice, I love to work from outside. I can
work, do calls, get some sun and fresh air…all at the same

This was a minor, not very exciting change… but it has made a
world of difference to me.

I work a lot. Mostly because I love it, but also because I have
to. So anything that makes work more efficient or enjoyable is
a big deal to me.

BUt this small example has a larger meaning too. I call it the
power of convenience.

The more convenient you make it to do the things you know you
should be doing – or want to do – the more likely you are to do

If you want to eat healthier, make sure you have healthy foods
and snacks in the fridge and pantry – and in your briefcase,
backpack or car.

If you want to exercise more consistently, set up an area in
your home or apartment. Or keep your sneakers out and near the
door, so you can quickly slap ’em on and go for a walk or run.

Find a gym, yoga studio, etc. that is on your way to work, near
your office, or near your home. If it’s on your normal route,
you’ll see the dang thing every day and have no excuse for not
going in and exercising.

I’ve developed all of my programs to leverage the power of

For example, performing breathing and energy exercises – like
the ones I teach in the Secret Power of Dynamic Energy Exercise
Course, Volume 2
, are the ultimate in convenience.

In this program, you’ll discover one of the cornerstones of my
daily regimen: the Dynamic Energy Routine. This is a series of
simple yet powerful exercises that open and free your breathing,
build up lungs and stamina, and radically increase your energy

I encourage you to try these exercises, because I believe they
can make a huge difference in your overall health and quality
of life.

And talk about convenient! You don’t have to wear any special
type of clothing. You don’t need sneakers. You can do the
Dynamic Energy Routine in the buff, if you like. (Just make sure
your shades are drawn.) And you’re actually better off doing
them barefoot, so you can pull in energy and stability from the

Best of all: the Dynamic Energy Routine can be done in a few
minutes, so it’s easy to fit into your day.

These are minutes you will reclaim immediately in improved energy,
focus and productivity.

One of my martial arts instructors used to say that the key to
success in anything in life, is “repetition, repetition,
repetition – coupled with enthusiasm”.

Making things convenient helps foster the repetition and
enthusiasm that will propel you to success in all areas of your

Leverage the power of convenience for yourself. Make it easy to
do the right thing.

You Can Do It!


“Best Breathing Exercises: Transform Body Mind and Spirit with
Dynamic Energy Exercise!”

P.S. You CAN have the energy, vitality and stamina you desire.
If you think otherwise you’re selling yourself short. Your breath
is your power: How well you breathe can have a direct impact your
physical wellbeing…which in turn affects how well you are able
to perform in every aspect of your life.

Discover how to cultivate the true source of your body’s energy
with The Secret Power of Dynamic Energy Exercise Course, Volume 2:
The Dynamic Energy Routine
The program is easy to learn, only takes about 15 minutes, and
can be easily woven into the fabric of your life. Once you feel
what it’s like to have the health and vitality you’re supposed to
have, you’ll never want to go back.

Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2013