Journal

Global Studies: Lessons from abroad...and above!

Jackie Mulligan - Thursday, August 30, 2018


In July and August, I spent an extended amount of time in two of the most well-known pilgrimage sites in Europe: Lourdes in southwestern France and Medjugorje in Bosnia. Lourdes sits at the foot of the Pyrenees, and this tiny rural town has welcomed millions of pilgrims to its shrine and grotto for more than 150 years. Lourdes is a place of healing; thousands of pilgrims come here each year to bathe in the holy waters and pray for healing of body, mind, and soul. I felt a deep spiritual and emotional connection from the moment I set foot in the shrine, not just with God and the pilgrims in my tour group, but also with the thousands of complete strangers who were there at the same time, and with those who had walked the same hilly roads to the famous Lourdes grotto for almost two centuries.

When we turn our focus outwards, whether that is in service, exploring new cultures, or pursuing intentional relationships, we can find beauty, goodness and fulfillment, even amidst a suffering and chaotic world. I was blessed to experience all three this summer while halfway across the world, traveling across Europe to some of the most beautiful and holy sites I’ve ever seen.

My pilgrimage to Medjugorje included celebrating Mass, praying the rosary, and adoring Christ in the Eucharist with over 500 priests and 300,000 people from 72 countries throughout a week long Youth Festival. One would think that such a large crowd of people would mean chaos and distraction. However, instead, I truly experienced one of the core messages of Medjugorje: “Peace, peace, peace!” In the midst of a crowd of thousands of people, I was able to find the one person we all came to seek: God, the Father, whose peace surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

Being able to serve others and receive love and peace in return was, to put it lightly, a life-changing experience. Opening my heart to the Lord and the opportunities and people He placed in my path this summer allowed me to experience a peace and joy I didn’t know was possible.


Here are 10 lessons I learned that humbled, uplifted, challenged, and fulfilled me:

GATHER Europeans love to gather and enjoy long conversations over leisurely meals. The most meaningful exchanges I had during my travels came from down time spent with new and old friends as we set up picnics, prepared meals, or simply prayed together. Our time together was intentional, unplugged and relaxed. It gave us the opportunity to not only be fully present and engaged, but also to focus on exploring the depth of our friendship. Getting to know another person in this way was (and is!) so very fulfilling. The friendships I made on this trip were so fruitful, I believe, because they were rooted in faith; while getting to know each other, we were also pursuing, together, a relationship with God. We all crave community and our lives are meant to be lived with others. Let’s give it to ourselves each day by focusing on intentionality in our relationships. #gathertogether

REST Making time to rest is a habit that takes discipline to implement. Though it may feel impossible to ignore the phone, power down your laptop, or put up the out-of-office message, it is essential to our well-being. Only when we eliminate distractions and embrace silence are we able to recharge our hearts and souls to prepare for what God is calling us to do and who He is calling us to be. This trip was the first time I fully unplugged for an extended time in years. Without constant distractions and interruptions, I felt more connected to God in prayer than ever before. The theme for all pilgrims visiting Lourdes this year is, “Do whatever He tells you,”an already challenging command becomes impossible for those of us who don’t make time to listen or are distracted by the world.

To apply this message to my daily life, I’m committing to a weekly Sabbath: one total rest day a week that is centered around God. In addition, I make space for a “mini Sabbath” each day — an allotted time every day for rest and prayer. Our worth is not based on productivity, but on the simple fact that we are human beings with an invaluable dignity. You don't have to do anything to have value; you just have to be.

QUALITY In our culture, particularly in Americanized Western culture, more is more. Whether we realize it or not, we are always feeling pressure to do, have, and be MORE. During my time away, I was able to fully appreciate choosing quality over quantity at every touch point: food, possessions, friendships, and experiences. Because I was able to eat the highest quality food, I didn’t suffer from digestive discomfort, even though I was eating food that most trendy American diets would consider “unhealthy”, such as bread and cheese. Because the quality of my activities was so rich and rewarding, I didn’t need to fill my calendar with tons of to-dos and busy work. Because I was walking everywhere all day, every day, exploring new places, functional movement was natural and enjoyable as opposed to another block in my schedule.

SERVE In Lourdes, I served alongside several fellow pilgrims from all over the world helping other pilgrims get in and out of the healing baths as they savored the deeply spiritual, peaceful experience of the healing waters. It was the most humbling experience of my life. My then seemingly trivial worries melted away almost instantly. My first shift I was with mothers and babies from places I’ve never seen -- Africa, Japan, India, and more -- speaking languages I didn’t know. The only thing we shared in common was our faith. I helped them enter the baths, hugged them, prayed with and for them, carried them (physically and emotionally) and cried with them. Seeing the outpouring of God’s mercy upon these souls, observing their deep faith and desire for healing, and being able to serve them, was a pure gift, and I was so incredibly humbled and grateful to be a witness to it.

FOCUS Fix your gaze on what is most important. In the pews of some of the most beautiful churches in Europe-- in Paris, Lourdes, Lisieux, and others--I was able to fix my gaze upon the Lord without the distractions of daily life and work. It refreshed my soul and gave me a renewed focus on God that I’ve brought back home with me. With God at the center of our lives, we strive for an unbreakable faith. We can admit our brokenness and recognize our need for Him. Keep trying. If you fall, He will help you dust yourself off and try again. Fix your eyes on Him and everything else in your life will come into focus. #holygaze

IMITATE We are created in the image of God and we are called to imitate Him, not try to BE Him. We can only discover who we are by loving as God loves. Thomas a Kempis writes, “Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.” When we look at others, we are called to love their souls, as Christ loves their souls. We are not asked to judge, even if we think they are worthy of our judgement. We are asked to love them in truth, sincerity, welcome, mercy and humility, as God loves each one of us.

FORGIVE One day in Medjugorje, I saw a t-shirt that stopped me in my tracks. It read: “Forgiveness of others is the secret of peace.” Christ forgives us so readily; let us try to forgive those who wrong us in this way. In Lourdes, the Lord filled my heart with so much peace and love; I was then able to share the love of Christ with others as we served in the healing baths. God pours His mercy out upon us so that we can then share it with others, whether in forgiveness or in service, or both -- let’s keep the cycle going.

SMILE In France, I had the opportunity to visit the small town of Lisieux, home of St. Therese. St. Therese de Lisieux reminds us to smile no matter what... to be joyful even in suffering. In her young life, St. Therese suffered a great deal but loved even more -- and she reminds us that we don’t have to do huge things to show love. We can do so in small, everyday things like smiling at those around us, or bearing little wrongs patiently. Everything that happens to us, God allows; and when we remember this, we realize that even our sufferings are a gift because He knows what is best for us. Our small acts of love, your smile, can be a gift to someone else. Showing love in the small things, even in suffering can be a gift to yourself, and to others.

GLORIFY Glorify God in everything that you do. Every thought, every word, every action — let it be done in an effort to glorify Him. “Go in peace, glorifying God with your life” is something I hear almost every Mass, but on one particular day on my pilgrimage, it really struck me. I heard it. Glorifying God sounds like a grand concept, but the truth is that the opportunity to point to Him lives in the details of our everyday lives. As St. Therese of Lisieux writes, “Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.”

BALANCE A theme that came up continually throughout my trip and that I continue to reflect on is “both, and.” The center of the cross is where the world and holiness collide — where the horizontal and vertical meet, the place where we live. It’s the place we are given freedom and free will--and an invitation to live in the gray. Yes, I am black and white with my faith — firm in what I believe in and stand for — but outside of this foundation, I like to have “both, and.” I enjoy my personal growth journey AND helping others grow. I eat a salad for lunch AND occasionally like a piece of chocolate or three. I work really hard AND take off as much as possible. I can give to myself AND take care of others. I can allow myself to be vulnerable before God -- to be truly known -- AND be authentically loved. And so can you. #bothand

This summer, I truly found beauty in letting go of myself and embracing others in service, while forming incredible friendships rooted in faith. I received and accepted this unique invitation to prayer and evangelization that God has asked of me, with confidence. The best, and perhaps most challenging, part of it all is now putting what I learned into practice every single day when I’m at home or work -- not in a stunning European city. God is everywhere and though going to these places filled me with abundant grace, it is at home where it counts the most. We are here to love, to serve, to be faithful to what the Lord is calling us to do--right here, right now.

Summer Sustainability

Jackie Mulligan - Monday, July 02, 2018


Fail-proof habits for summer that ensure a happy, healthy season.

Summer gets a reputation for being the season for kicking back and relaxing, but longer days, warmer nights, and a full social calendar can easily leave us overscheduled, frazzled, tired and looking back on the season with a blur of memories.

Take back your summer by creating a set of intentional habits that will fuel your health and energy levels all season long.

Eat

Summer brings a complete bounty of vegetables and fruits. Visit your local farmer’s market to discover the freshest, most seasonal ingredients for your plate. Not only is eating local less expensive, the produce grown in your area will be coming to you straight from the farm, guaranteeing better flavor and nutritional profiles.

It’s also incredibly easy to throw together a simple and nutritious meal this time of year. Smoothies, salads, fresh berry bowls--all quick and delicious ‘fast food’ options.

Find your nearest market here.

Move

Be mindful of the summer heat--too much exertion can wipe you out, fast--and opt for low intensity movement such as long walks, gardening or a leisurely bike ride. When you do find yourself craving a good sweat session, take advantage of the weather and local resources by hiking through your nearby park, joining a beach volleyball league, or heading to a pool or beach for a swim.

Rest

Aim to mimic the sun--later bedtimes and earlier mornings while still logging at least 8 hours of sleep. Be kind to your body and listen to what it needs. In this busy season, I urge you to remember that it’s perfectly acceptable to say no to that third BBQ of the weekend. Staying home or carving out time for you to unwind is a crucial and smart way to sustain your energy levels throughout summer. Prioritize the parties, girls’/guys’ nights, and celebrations that add into your life and feel liberated to respectfully decline the rest.


Restore

Consider summer to be the Sabbath of your year--an opportunity to rest and refresh after months of work, study and busy calendars. And in the same way we observe the Sabbath, let this season be one of actively resting in God. Find ways to continue to grow your faith in Him and use this time of renewal to explore the inspiration and interests He’s placed on your heart. Remember: All rest isn’t created equal. Mindlessly scrolling through Instagram isn’t the same as setting aside time to journal or walk along the beach. Be intentional with your choices.

How will you plan to incorporate your healthy habits into your summer plans?

Wishing you a happy, healthy, vibrant summer!

NY Gal

Jackie Mulligan - Thursday, June 21, 2018
This week I was honored to be featured on New York Gal, an online publication that offers culture, style, lifestyle and wellness tips and advice to its readers.

Having the opportunity to reflect on my path from childhood and college, to start-up life and entrepreneurship left me feeling so grateful to be able to do the work that I do. Working with young women is a passion of mine, so I was so thrilled to share a bit about my background and inspiration with their audience. Click here to read the original column or read below!

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From Spanish Teacher to Functional Nutritionist: A Conversation with Jackie Mulligan

Jackie Mulligan, a true NYgal, is changing lives all over the world as a Functional Nutritionist​.

There are so many women in New York inspiring those that surround them: artistically, physically, emotionally, among other ways. Jackie Mulligan, a functional nutritionist, is one of those women. Mulligan was born and raised in Long Island, making her a true NYgal. She is blessed with a large, lively, loving family and is child number six out of the lucky seven.

Over time, my early adolescent role, 'the helper,' guided me on a journey of empowering people to create positive change in their life,” said Mulligan.

NYgal spoke to Mulligan about her journey to becoming a successful functional nutritionist.

Q & A with Mulligan:

Tell me about yourself!

I was born and raised on Long Island, NY, in a town with deep Irish and Italian roots. Although pizza and pasta are no longer options in my diet, I have adopted talking loudly and with my hands. I’m happily accepting dating applications from anyone with an Irish brogue or a beach house on the Amalfi Coast. (Kidding! Sort of…)

I’ve lived between San Diego and San Francisco for six years. Since last February, I have been living a minimalistic nomadic lifestyle, and am constantly amazed by how much I DON’T need. I’m now (almost officially) back home, but wherever I land, I’ll always be a New Yorker at heart.
What inspired you to pursue a career in nutrition?

Driven and excited to embark on my professional path, at the age of 17, I began my college career while simultaneously completing high school. By 22, I had successfully completed two Masters degrees: Masters of Business Administration and Masters of Secondary Education. A study abroad semester in Salamanca, Spain, inspired me to direct my attention into public school education, and for the next five years, I taught Spanish in Long Island to both Middle School and High School students. Although my time teaching was well spent, I knew there was a higher calling that I’d yet to tap into.

I always had an interest in health and wellness and was athletic growing up; playing sports every season. One of my sisters led the way with nutrition and helped me to navigate through many fad diets. When our mom was diagnosed with a gluten allergy, I quickly deviated from all gluten, knowing that celiac disease is commonly a genetic trend.

A few years later, my brother, who was deployed in Iraq at the time, emailed me about joining CrossFit. I was eager to try a new workout and be able to share that connection with him. I wasn’t expecting that community to bring such enriching experiences and newfound strengths to my life, but it did. With a new respect for my well-being and a desire to pursue a career fully-focused on wellness, I moved to Solana Beach, California, in the spring of 2012. There, I began to design a more balanced lifestyle that included deepening my connection to the natural world, transforming my relationship with food as medicine, and most importantly, reconnecting with my faith.

My most rewarding education comes from my personal health journey and first-hand experience with Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal (HPA) dysfunction derived from stress - also known as adrenal imbalance and Lyme disease (enter: fatigue, digestive issues, depression, etc.). Although those were some of my darkest, most challenging times to date, these hurdles gifted me with first-hand experience, higher knowledge, empathy, courage, and the ability to build a complete toolkit for healing my mind, body, and spirit. I am continually amazed at how our quality of life is influenced by how we address and maintain our physical and spiritual health. Committing to movement, investing in our wellness and developing a practice of prayer and reflection can truly move mountains--I’ve witnessed it both in my life and in the lives of my clients.

Now, I work as a functional nutritionist and specialize in creating a love for nutrient-dense, real food that becomes a part of my clients' daily lives. All the information and tools that I share were developed from personal experience and professional knowledge as a Certified Nutritionist Consultant, Functional Diagnostic Practitioner, educator, and wellness advocate.

How long have you had your own practice and what inspired you to branch out on your own?

I have been practicing for about four years. This month I celebrate 2 years of having my own practice. I was the first U.S employee for Puori, an amazing Scandinavian supplement company that I stand behind and recommend to all of my clients. My time with them captivated my heart and drove my passion for health, living well and the Scandinavian culture even further. I traveled often, all over the US, and worked hard, in true startup fashion, leaving my only time to take my private clients on the weekends or in the evenings. After working with them for about five years and working my way up to National Sales Manager, I decided to branch off on my own.

I was inspired to combine my experience in business, education, and wellness to educate and empower people.

Recently, my practice has taken on its own unique mold, as I started incorporating faith and looking beyond nutrition to focus on the whole person--mind, body, and spirit.
I remember you mentioning that you have virtual clients. How's that like? Also, do you get mostly Manhattan-based clientele or are they from all over the world?

My clients range from New York to California, Texas to Chicago, Colorado to Nevada, Switzerland to Denmark, and many in between. We meet on FaceTime or Skype, and depending on where I am, we get to meet in person, which is my favorite.

My dynamic roster of clients--which, fortunately, have been almost all referrals-- includes professional athletes, CEOs, corporate teams, students, religious groups and private clients.

What are some important tips you give to your clients?

Health is so much more than just what we eat. It includes our emotional and spiritual wellness as well. I always remind my clients that even if their diet is flawless and they’re getting their workouts in, it’s just as--if not more--important for them to invest in these other areas. Connecting with their community, beginning or strengthening a prayer practice, journaling and serving others--these habits contribute to our sense of wellness more than we realize.
What other interests do you combine with your career as a nutritionist?

My faith is the center and core of my life. I am a Catholic and have a strong devotion to Mary. My faith serves as the cornerstone of my approach as I guide my clients towards intentional physical, emotional and spiritual health practices. I believe developing a practice of prayer and reflection can truly move mountains.

The two forms of makeup I can’t live without are red lipstick and mascara.

I am a true Pisces in every way--uber sensitive, intuitive, empathetic and deeply emotional. I have a BIG heart with a lot of love to give. I prefer quality over quantity when it comes to friends, clothes and well...everything! I create a tightly-edited capsule collection every season to keep my style simple and essential. I am adaptable and am able to get along with all sorts of people, thanks to all the personalities I was surrounded by growing up. My pitfall? I can be maddeningly indecisive at times.

A few more of my favorite things: long walks in nature, dinner parties, detox baths, Justin’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, infrared saunas, Eucharistic Adoration, champagne, paddleboarding, manicures/pedicures, and sweet potato fries.

Since you're a true NYgal, what do you love about New York?

Though it was hard to return to the east coast after living in California, I really do love New York. I loved California for its beauty and “otherness", and it’s just the opposite of what I love about New York. I love it for its grittiness and imperfections, and the true feeling of home and familiarity that I get from here. I love the seasons, diverse culture, easy access to travel and being close to the ocean. I love everything it has to offer; that you can be boating to Fire Island by day and walking the High Line in NYC at night. In New York, it feels like the world is your oyster if you’re ready and willing to go after it.

What do you look forward to in your career as a nutritionist and what message do you want to give the women of New York that are trying to fulfill their dreams?


I look forward to helping more people grow and realize their strength and beauty, inside and out. I look forward to guiding people to see their truth and to open their eyes and hearts to the gifts they’ve been given by God. He knows the path. I just keep walking forward and staying aligned with Him.

We’ve all been given a vocation, and whether that’s serving tables or running a Fortune 500 company, we need to do it with love and with the intention of lifting others. Mother Theresa says it best: "Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do... but how much love we put in that action." We’re often searching for how to do more, be bigger and better--and the answer is right under our nose. It starts with one person choosing to use their gifts and talents for a higher purpose.


Know Thyself

Jackie Mulligan - Friday, June 15, 2018
“The body knows what to eat. It’s the brain that makes mistakes.”            - Joshua Rosenthal, founder IIG

Have you ever craved a steak or a big plate of fries and talked yourself out of indulging because it wasn’t ‘healthy’ enough or didn’t fit in with your diet du jour?

The word ‘diet’ carries with it connotations of rigidity, constriction and impossible standards. What if instead, we could create our own diets--or rather lifestyles--that are firmly rooted in what we believe works the best for us as individuals? Enter bio-individuality, a concept that posits there is no one right diet that works for everyone all of the time. Instead, Rosenthal, the forefather of this idea, argues that we innately know what our bodies need if we’re intuitive enough to listen to them.

Do your food choices bring you energy, ground you, allow you to embark on your day feeling full and satisfied? Whether you opt to follow a blood type diet, a metabolic program, Whole30, plant based diet, or simply intuitively eating whole foods, what’s important is fueling yourself with intention and attention--taking care to notice how your choices affect your wellness, and being open-minded enough to integrate change when things aren’t working.

We all have our unique needs. For example, as much as you may want to adhere to the vegan diet you’ve been browbeating yourself into following, the truth is your body may need--and actually thrive--on small amounts of quality meat and seafood. This example can be applied to all aspects of wellness. If you’re an avid runner, but have found yourself wanting to skip your run and instead opt for a gentle stretch, there’s a very good chance that your body is telling you to rest and restore. In fact stress of any variety, be it emotional or physical, is your body’s way of reminding you to slow down and refuel with intentional habits and balanced, nutrient-dense meals.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to wellness or healing. Instead, take solace in the fact that you have the best lab and testing methods at your disposal, 24 hours a day--your own body! Rather than reading a buzzed-about article, or jumping on the latest fitness or diet fad, slowly find what works for your individual needs by incorporating or removing foods or habits you feel inspired to make changes around. Watch what happens, without judgment, and continue moving forward from there.

I invite you to welcome the strength and confidence that can be found in trusting what you want and listening to what your body is calling out for. Empowerment awaits.

Take Your Time

Jackie Mulligan - Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Have the pressures of daily life ever snuck up on you? The deadlines, growing inboxes, obligations, and endless tasks that get tacked onto your to-do list...suddenly and perhaps even before you realize it, you’re living in a rushed, semi-panicked state constantly. Whether we are aware of it or not, these small pressures snowball into a mounting stress that can wreak havoc on our nervous system. Even worse? We start to believe that slowing down isn’t an option for our specific set of circumstances or lifestyle, and then the smallest of things start to feel overwhelming and unbearable. We robotically hurry throughout our days trying and lay awake at night wondering when we will ever “have time.”

Our nervous system can be broken down into two systems that work in tandem:the Parasympathetic Nervous system (PNS) and the Sympathetic Nervous system (SNS).

Simply put, the PNS is responsible for keeping us calm and steady. It controls our homeostasis and helps our bodies “rest and digest”. The SNS controls our responses to a perceived threat and is responsible for the “fight or flight” instinct we are all so familiar with.

When the SNS is overwhelmed or overstimulated, imbalance occurs. This imbalance can slowly infiltrate your life, often taking the form of poor digestion, constipation, anxiety, shallow breathing, poor sleep, fatigue, nervousness, inability to make decisions and so much more. Sound familiar?

Last May, I attended my first silent retreat dominated by my SNS. Just planning and packing for the retreat felt completely overwhelming, which was totally out of character for me. The anticipation and fear of the unknown heavily weighed on me; all of these emotions feeling foreign to my typically outgoing, positive and confident self. It was the first time in my life that I would commit to staying silent for an extended period of time, focusing only on my thoughts and prayers. Trust me, growing up with six siblings, it was very rare that the house was quiet or that I was ever even alone! For three and half days, I would be just that--alone and away from cell phones, the internet and human interaction, save the hour of conversation I would have with a spiritual director each day. It was an experience I was long looking forward to, even amidst the anxieties that were weighing me down. I was craving silence, forced stillness and time in prayer. I had to go to the source to dig to the root.. I had tried everything I knew in the health world and was nearly pleading with the Lord to take my anxieties away. I knew He would heal me.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was living in a near-constant state of fight or flight. Also unbeknownst to me: I was fighting Lymes disease, which came with a load of digestive issues, anxiety, and depression. Uncoincidentally, I received this diagnosis the day after the retreat ended. It took me a long time to calm down and “let go of the world” while I was there. And since my body was accustomed to living in survival mode, I became addicted to the stress response.

Before this retreat, I’d attempt to rest often, but these attempts often ended in anxiety and restlessness. It was extremely difficult for me to fully exhale and just be. Although I’d done a lot of inside work--facing truths, detaching from people and things that no longer served me--I was still not comfortable being still.

After a morning of intense prayer, about 48 hours into the retreat, I hastily got up from the Chapel to get my journal from my room. I was walking down the hallway and out of nowhere an Irish priest popped out from the doorway and said in his gentle brogue, “Jackie, take your time.” I stopped dead in my tracks. Those words pierced me. I have heard them before, but this time, I heard them with all of my heart and soul. As simple as it may seem, this phase has a profound impact on my life. Having lived a life of constant oppression and hurried anxiety, the simplicity and ease of his words struck me directly in my heart. It was as if God was speaking through him and giving me permission to slow down. To be okay with not having it all figured out. To surrender the worry I was clinging to--out of both fear and habit--and cling to Him instead. To honestly bring these things to God instead of trying to work through them on my own. To enjoy where I am right now. To see all of the beauty that’s right before me. It was so beautiful and providentially powerful.

That one seed started to grow into several personal truths over time. I’ve shared a few with you here and I invite you to take your time, in life, in work, and in relationships. Can you rest in the truth that taking your time is not only possible, but essential for nourishing your nervous system and sustaining your energy, peace and joy? Begin calming your SNS by stripping away your anxieties and embracing these simple truths and habits, which you may be familiar with but warrant a reminder:


  • Begin or further commit yourself prayer. If you don’t have an hour to pray, you need two hours.
  • Slowing down is not a weakness.
  • It’s perfectly okay to not know.
  • Take a step back to take a step forward.
  • Focus on your breath during moments of stress, taking advantage of full, focused breathing.
  • Choose joy over the hustle.
  • Stop fighting our bodies desire (read: scream for) rest and start embracing it. It’s always speaking to us. We need to stop punishing our bodies and start providing for them.
  • Let go! (PS letting go of the need to control things doesn’t mean letting go of responsibility. It means embracing and taking ownership.)
  • Allow the time and space needed to heal.
  • Expectation reduces joy. If you expect you should “feel better” or X by a certain time and then don’t, you’ll become deflated and miss the beauty in the journey.
  • The journey is the destination.
  • Slow and steady wins the race
  • Take your time.

“I do not wish to see the distant scene. One step is enough for me”- Blessed Cardinal Newman. I invite you to take one step today-- one step back from the distractions that add to our load and or one step forward in courageously entrusting our lives to God’s wisdom and provision... Whichever direction you are going, take your time.

Do You Balance Your (Health) Bank Account?

Jackie Mulligan - Sunday, April 29, 2018
I’ll venture to say that any adult who earns an income is familiar with balancing a bank account. For most of us the goals are simple: Stay within your budget, don’t spend too much in any one area and of course, don’t end up in the red.

When I speak with my clients about their health and wellness, I often liken their overall health to a bank account. Our health is comprised of many components: In addition to our nutrition and wellness, it also includes how we move, think and interact with others. How we live greatly impacts our health.

The positive balance in our ‘health account’ depends on the lifestyle we’ve created for ourselves. ‘Withdrawals’ from our account often look like high stress, inadequate sleep, and inconsistent food and alcohol intake. Deposits are things that make us healthier, such as eating whole foods, moving our bodies, spending time outdoors, and taking time to rest. This concept extends to our spiritual wellness as well. Do our regular behaviors and habits bring us closer to God or further apart? Think of what we can begin incorporating into our life that will help us become the best version of ourselves.

This short list of intentional practices and insights can help ensure your account flourishes. I invite you to consider what you can ‘afford’, where you can cut back on your spending and how you can begin depositing more into your life:

Lifters vs Drainers: Make a list of who in your circle lifts you up and who drains you dry. Do you feel yourself tense up when making plans with a certain friend? Are you spending too much time with those who don’t align with your beliefs and values? Do you leave feeling drained rather than lifted? These things can rob you of energy and peace. Invest in meaningful relationships.

Life Enhancing vs. Life Detracting: Identify your daily habits and activities and consider how they are enhancing or detracting from your life. While not showing up to your job may not be the responsible choice, aim to add in a fulfilling activity or practice to your schedule to offset some of life’s stressors. The seemingly small practices can make a huge difference. Consider unplugging from screens an hour before bed, dedicating time to connect with loved ones, or giving thanks before a meal. These easy rituals will pay off in dividends.

Gain clarity on your weekly budget: Choose a day of the week--I suggest Sundays--to analyze your budget for the week, month and near future. Take note of the busy weekend next month or the jam-packed work deadlines in the week ahead and strategize your lifestyle--nutrition, rest, movement, prayer--so that you set yourself up for success instead of overwhelm. Go into you day, week, vacation knowing how much you can spend results in less stress, clarity and empowerment.

Save up!: If you have a vacation on the horizon, remember that just as you had to save and prepare for a getaway, you’ll need to do the same thing with your health. Sleep more, eat clean before your trip (consider doing a mini reset leading up to and coming back from), so you can enjoy your time away without overdrawing on your account. If your stress is through the roof, you haven’t slept for days, and you’ve indulged more than you wanted to, your spending money is gone before you even arrive! Begin your vacation with an excess to spend instead of falling deeper into the red.

Redefine as you go: Don’t be too dogmatic in identifying what qualifies as a withdrawal vs. deposit. This can change depending on the context: Regular wine consumption may be a withdrawal, but enjoying a drink during a date night with your significant other may be a deposit. Decide from a place of empowerment rather than relying on willpower. Whether you’re out to dinner, on vacation, entering a holiday weekend, or trying to decide between taking a rest day or doing an intense workout, take the pressure off of yourself and stop relying on willpower. There is no ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Instead, use the facts to make a confident decision--what is your balance? Do you have enough to stay out late and sacrifice sleep?

Hold a higher perspective: While balancing our health account is extremely important, our intentions and actions count for eternity. Kindness, love, forgiveness, generosity, empathy--these are the deposits that resonate in deeper ways that we can’t begin to imagine. Take stock of your heart and choose the footsteps that lead you closer to God and true wellness.

There are so many options, temptations and opportunities to indulge/celebrate/wallow/zone out. Rather than get trapped in the cycle of these options--such as overeat, feel horrible, overeat because you feel horrible--take control of your choices by reframing them with this concept. Manage withdrawals so we don’t end up bankrupt– overtrained, under recovered and sleep deprived, but rather well rested, energized and aligned with the best we have to offer.

I invite you to analyze your own health bank account. What are some of the ways you can work on staying within your health budget? After taking a closer look, what can you truly afford? Share your ideas for the week ahead!

Celebrating One Year of Zeal!

Jackie Mulligan - Friday, April 20, 2018


Can you believe Zeal has been arriving in your inbox each month for a year? Zeal is defined as great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause. I have such zeal and passion for this work and I am so grateful for your support! Each month my goal is to tune you in to all aspects of health so you can live your life with passion and purpose.

Zeal is always jammed-packed with direct and easy-to-apply resources to help improve the quality of your life. These resources include recipes, educational articles, inspiring podcasts and videos, health hacks, and product picks to help spread health, joy, productivity and self-improvement.

As a way to show my appreciation and to celebrate Zeal's one year anniversary, I am giving away a wellness kit to you and one lucky friend filled with my favorite self care products, go-to healthy snacks, a free health consultation with me... and more!

How to enter to win: Make sure you’re subscribed to Zeal and share the love by signing up a friend here

Winners (you and a friend) will be notified by email on April 30th.

Some of the sponsors of the Wellness Kit include:
Beauty Counter
San Francisco Salt Company
Justin's
Yogi Tea
Vital Proteins
Rx Bar
Mammoth Bar
Chomps
Siete Foods
Puori

The Secret to Maintaining Your Health During Travel

Jackie Mulligan - Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Travel can disrupt our healthy lifestyles in more way than one: from increased stress and disrupted sleep to limited food options and more time sitting. Sometimes it feels like a week away can undo all the good progress we’ve been making. Let’s not let travel be a reason for us to deviate from our health goals. How? After years of traveling cross-country to see family and across the world for work, I am sharing my best travel tips to keep you healthy, minimize stress and enjoy the experience of being away.

To Exercise or Not?

Travel in itself can be stressful and adding in intense exercise may not be the best idea for you if that’s the case. If you’re going to compromise sleep to get in an early morning workout, think again. If you’re well rested and have flexibility, then I recommend sticking to your normal routine and making it a priority. Travel can also be an opportunity to switch things up and add in more stretching or body-weight movement which you can do right in your hotel room. My favorite and go-to resource is: ROMWOD. Alternatively, you can go for a long walk or visit a nearby park to do some functional movement like air squats, lunges and push-ups. This can help you to familiarize yourself with your new surroundings and can help reduce stress while you get the blood flowing.

Sleep

My last post, Give Yourself a Break, provided tips and techniques to getting quality rest that you need and deserve. Adequate rest and sleep are essential for basic function of the neurological, digestive, endocrine and immune systems. To recap, remember to blackout the hotel room (disconnect unnecessary lights and alarms, draw the shades, or bring your eye mask) keep the temperature cool, stick to your bedtime routine (unpack, shower, read, etc.), wear ear plugs and unplug from technology an hour before bed to get quality sleep.

Beat Jet Lag

To prepare for longer trips (one week or more) shift into travel time zone. You may consider moving all activities, meals and sleep time up an hour for up to three days before you depart. For shorter trips (less than one week), I recommend staying on your home time zone as much as possible. Hydrate well and more than usual; avoid alcohol and caffeine. Once you arrive, aim to get early morning sun exposure daily to help reset your circadian rhythm.

Plan Ahead

Part of the fun of traveling includes exploring new restaurants, local foods, and cultures. Do your research beforehand and map out healthy restaurants so you have a plan before arriving. You can search directly on Google, Yelp, or Tripadvisor for keywords like “paleo,” “farm to table” or “gluten-free.” You may also want to research nearby grocery stores and markets.

Surviving Long Flights


To avoid airplane food and ensure you get in sufficient fuel, prepare to-go meals or bring a premade meal. (I often travel with Model Meals). I typically pack a big salad with protein to eat on the plane during meal time. Vegetables often fall by the wayside on travel days, so packing them in a meal is a sure way to keep them in your daily intake. Sometimes, I fast to help me better adjust to time-zones (more on this soon!). Spend the extra money on a spacious seat; it’s worth it. Wear comfortable clothes and get up to stretch. Instead of planning more work for the duration of your flight, enjoy the stillness from being disconnected. Rest. Hydrate. Breathe.

Dining Out


When you arrive at a restaurant, tell the waiter your food preferences (gluten-free,dairy-free, or whatever you are trying to avoid) and ask for their assistance in making substitutions. You can order a salad with oil and vinegar on the side, a burger (sans bun) with a lettuce wrap, or any entrée dish that includes fish, meat or poultry with double vegetables on the side.

Healthy & Convenient (Snacks & Supplements)

Ever realize that you’re hungrier when you travel? It’s like our bodies and brain go into survival mode because there is a chance that food may not be available to us for a longer period of time than we are used to. Packaged foods or low maintenance food make for great emergency snacks, especially while traveling abroad or working long hours away from the hotel. You can pack them in your suitcase and take what you’d like in your carry-on for immediate use.

Some of my favorite “on the go” food include (most are also available at WholeFoods):

– Jerky like CHOMPS sticks
– Bars like RXBAR, Simple Squares or Mammoth Bars
– Nuts and seeds (or pre-made trail mixes)
– Dried or freeze-dried fruit like dried mango or apple chips or coconut chips
– Individual packets of almond butter or phat fudge
– Fresh fruits like apples, bananas, avocados or oranges
– Protein substitute to add to your water, tea or coffee like collagen packs
– Vegetables are not easy to find on travel days: Puori-G3 is a perfect replacement
– Daily dose servings of Omega-3 Fish oil, Magnesium and Vitamin D3 in individual travel sachets Puori-3

Go With the Flow

While maintaining your health throughout traveling is ideal, the most important thing you can do throughout your trip is to not stress about getting your workout in or eating perfectly. In fact, stress is one of the main causes of digestive issues. This means you may be eating a nutrient-dense, whole food diet but if you’re stressed, you’re impairing the absorption and breakdown of your food.

Be Present

“Wherever you go, there you are.” Many of us travel to amazing places for work but don’t get to actually enjoy the places we visit. Even if work takes up most of your time, do what you can to get outside, walk around and take in some of your surroundings. Unplug from your digital devices and look around. Yes, there is time.

Your brain likes a plan, so wherever you’re headed, do your best to plan ahead and prepare. The goal is not perfection– (read: “all or nothing”), but instead, to minimize stress as much as possible so that you can thoroughly enjoy the experience of traveling while also maintaining your health. Let’s change the storyline and turn travel into an opportunity to continue to improve our health.

Give Yourself a Break

Jackie Mulligan - Thursday, February 22, 2018

My last post, "No Sleep is No Joke," I invited you to join me as I give myself permission to be still and rest well in the midst of a busy new year. While everyone hustles off to the gym, makes ambitious to-do lists, tries to fit in that new hobby, I challenge us to question our motives and rest as hard as we plan to play. This post builds on my invitation and unpacks replicable steps you might take to improve your quality of rest.

“Activity and rest are two vital aspects of life. To find a balance in them is a skill in itself. Wisdom is knowing when to have rest, when to have activity, and how much of each to have. Finding them in each other – activity in rest and rest in activity – is the ultimate freedom.”-Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Science Says, Rest (Take a Break)

Lack of adequate rest can lead to high levels of stress and fatigue. In addition, inflammation rises, mental capacity decreases, immunity drops, and metabolism and mood suffer. The distracted, moody monster we become desperately reaches for sugar and caffeine rather than taking the break required. Sound like 10am or 3pm, anyone?

The Living Experiment, a must-listen podcast, features an episode called “Pause.” In this episode, hosts, Dallas and Pilar, explain how to recognize the body’s signals for when a break is needed. Our bodies respond to circadian rhythms– patterns related to 24-hour, night-and-day cycles and they also respond to ultradian rhythms– patterns that occur many times throughout the day. The hosts reveal, “the science is clear: taking brief, periodic … breaks improves not just your health and happiness, but also your productivity, creativity, energy and mood.”

Put simply, our bodies and minds require quiet time to repair and re-energize. Stephen Covey, best known for his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, discusses “sharpening the saw” as the last habit, suggesting that a consistent, continuous dedication to self-renewal (i.e. rest, play, exercise, personal exploration) can empower us to maintain sharp mental and physical edge. Covey notes, “…you can renew and better yourself through appropriate rest and relaxation or you can totally burn yourself out by overdoing everything” (https://www.stephencovey.com/7habits).

So how do we build more rest into our day? And what benefits can we expect if we do invest energy into powering down, chilling out, and most importantly having a little fun?

3 Forms of Rest: Total, Active and Passive

Total rest: Complete, utter, thorough, absolute, out-and-out rest! This form is exactly what it sounds like. It means eliminating everyday stressors (i.e. work, working out, errands) for an entire 24 hours. Periods of total rest are the very foundation of the recovery and repair cycles. There should be one day of total rest built into each week.

Active rest is a reduction in workload. Active rest may include putting effort towards daily engagements, but at a less intense level. By decreasing our workload intensity, we give our mind and body the chance to re-energize itself so that we are re-focused and recovered when we return to full involvement.

Passive rest is a short-term break from the work tasks or projects. There are all sorts of ways to get passive rest including: meditation (Headspace –a favorite app!), light reading, listening to music, a short walk (sans technology), restorative yoga, or have a healthy snack with a cup of tea or water.

Plan your rest, just as you would plan any other appointment. Your body and mind will thank you for it and you’ll work, perform and play more efficiently.

Now, Let’s Improve Your Sleep!

Light Exposure: Preparing for good sleep starts first thing in the morning. Bright, natural light exposure, direct to the eyes is needed. This exposure creates balanced rhythms between the hormones that put you to sleep and those which wake you. To follow this rhythm, dim the lights in your home after dark and maybe even get yourself a pair of blue blocking glasses.

Eat!: Start with a protein rich breakfast and continue to meet the nutritional demands of your body throughout each day. Research suggests sleep deprivation interferes with hunger and satiety hormones crucial to regulating appetite. Inadequate and inconsistent food intake can make or break quality of sleep. Getting ample sleep and nourishing thoroughly go hand in hand.

Unplug: Eliminate exposure to all technology for 30-60 minutes before bed. Create headspace to fall asleep more easily with meditation, deep breathing, or light reading (avoid heavy or intense content).

Wind Down Routine: Take a bath, get into pajamas, brush your teeth, read a book and lights out—sound familiar? For some, this was the consistent childhood bedtime routine. Our brain would recognize the habitual series of events and signal that it’s time to rest. We need to borrow this old habit and recreate it as adults, or invent it, if it was never instilled. Going to sleep and waking up at the same time consistently (even on weekends!) will get our brain and body in healthy rhythm.

Magnesium: Essential for more than 300 enzymatic processes in your body, magnesium calms the central nervous system helping to quiet a racing mind and relax muscles. My favorite kind is PurePharma M3.

Sleep Environment: Sleep in a dark, cool room. Being too hot or too cold can disrupt sleep. Conceal light that may beam from your digital devices (i.e. alarm clock, TV) and minimize extra noise with earplugs or a white noise machine. Leave electronics out and save your bedroom for two things. (Hint: one of them is sleep).

Ditch caffeine and alcohol: Research reveals that any significant amount of alcohol or caffeine within a couple hours of going to bed negatively impacts sleep. This results in abnormal sleeping patterns. Being asleep is not the same as being in a deep sleep. Caffeine is expert at interrupting, and alcohol is pro at destroying our quality of sleep. You might ditch caffeine after noon, and experiment with ditching alcohol completely.

Train smarter, not harder: High intensity training, especially in the evening, can interfere with sleep. If you prefer to get in some pre-bedtime movement, try yoga or simple stretching– both can help you unwind and relax into a restful night. Continuing to think about our health as a bank account, we need to manage withdrawals so we don’t end up bankrupt– overtrained, under recovered and sleep deprived.

Clear the Commotion: Save the intense TV dramas, work emails, heavy reading material, or bone-to-pick for daytime. All of the above stimulate the stress response and make it harder to wind down.

Bottom Line: Adequate rest and sleep are essential to our health. Both improve the quality of our life and allow us to operate at our best. Rest is a skill and an artform. It’s vital to our wellbeing. Give yourself a break!

References:
The Power of Rest, Matthew Edlund, MD
http://livingexperiment.com
https://chekinstitute.com
http://pilargerasimo.com/all-about-ultradian-rhythms/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDpiI6GTCUM

No Sleep is No Joke! Why Adequate Sleep Matters to Health and Performance

Jackie Mulligan - Sunday, February 18, 2018

In a recent post, “An Invitation to Stillness,” I wrote about the power of stillness in a culture that champions activity and productivity above all. Stillness for many means mindlessly browsing the internet, incessantly checking the news and social media, watching TV, or engaging in other forms of distraction that offer no rest for the brain and body.

Sometimes we make rest negotiable and other times we forget how to do it. Many of us underestimate the body’s need for sleep, especially since we’re committed to staying “busy.” Turn the phrase “don’t just sit there, do something” on it’s head to embrace “don’t just do something, sit there.” With the perception that we need to accomplish so much work while also balancing career, family, and personal obligations, we feel pressure to “get it all done” in a day. Too often we compromise our sleep to fit more in, but what are we actually accomplishing? If we learn how to properly rest, we can do less while becoming healthier, more productive, and live more fulfilling lives. Without adequate rest and sleep, we cannot be healthy.

“Sleep, and enough of it, is the prime necessity. Enough exercise, and good food are other necessities. But sleep—good sleep, and enough of it—this is a necessity without which you cannot have the exercise of use, nor the food.” ~Edward Everett Hale, “How to Get the Best of It,” c.1892

Adequate rest and sleep are essential for basic function of the neurological, digestive, endocrine and immune systems. Ever wonder why you get sick after not sleeping well for a few nights? How about why you’re drinking bottomless cups of coffee throughout the day and reaching for sweet and savory snacks in the afternoon? Or perhaps you’ve questioned why you’re not able to fully recover from workouts?

Life is rhythmic; everything we do follows cycles of activity and rest, of which sleep is the most critical part. When we chronically short-change ourselves of sleep, it shows up in our health in many ways. Studies show that the average adult needs seven to eight hours of sleep per night, teens need nine hours and adolescents need ten hours. Consider, how much sleep are you getting? Is inconsistent and inadequate sleep hindering the quality of your life and exercise results?

Well Rested
– Improves memory, creativity and focus
– Curbs inflammation
– Maintains healthy immune system
– Healthy blood sugar regulation and weight control
– Improves recovery and performance
– Increases energy and overall mood
– Reduces stress
– Clearer, healthier skin

Sleep Deprived
– Cognitive decline, memory loss, inability to make decisions
– Systemic inflammation (the root of all modern disease)
– Weakens immune system
– Increases hunger and cravings, weight gain
– Decreases physical performance
– Negatively affects mood and mental health (including depression, anxiety, PTSD, ADHD, and bipolar disorder)
– Inability to manage stress, impulsivity
– Acne, breakouts

I invite you to join me in bravely facing our struggle to gain thorough rest. Stay tuned for next steps that you can take along with me as we take back our health and raise our quality of life. After all, no vitamins or quick-fix can replace good sleep. No sleep is no joke!

Look for Part II coming soon…