Friday, April 24, 2009

Are you happy with your body?

Regular exercise is very important to our sense of well-being, and in this time of economic crisis, it is absolutely essential. Right now, I am really encouraging everyone in my family and friends to take positive steps to keep their bodies fit and strong by doing whatever form of exercise best suits them.

My preferred choice of exercise is a good old-fashioned brisk walk. Interestingly, walking and running are the two most popular forms of exercise, and both are very good ways to keep fit for very little investment. All you really need is a good pair of running or walking shoes. Some people like running or jogging to burn more calories, but I prefer walking because it offers numerous benefits and I still get to take in the sights along the way.

In many ways, walking is a perfect form of fitness training because it is low-impact and gentler on the body than running. However, don't think that just because it's slower that it's less beneficial. Walking can help us manage our weight, lower blood pressure, lower bad LDL cholesterol, raise the good HDL, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and even boost our moods. Now that's quite a lot of advantages for an activity as simple as taking a long walk on a regular basis.

That said, while walking is an easy activity, it is important to follow a few simple rules that will protect your health and help you gain the highest benefit. First, choose comfortable clothing that is appropriate for the weather you will be walking in. If you will be walking at night, be sure to wear bright clothing or consider a reflective vest or reflective tape to make you more visible to drivers.

Before starting out on a walk, do some leg stretches to warm up your muscles, and start out easy if you are new to walking. Going on a long trek when you haven't built up the stamina could result in soreness that will deter your taking on a walking routine. In the beginning, start with ten-minute walks and build up your time to 30 minutes or an hour three or more times a week.

When things interfere with your walking, as they sometimes do, it is important to pick up where you left off and get right back into your walking regime. Otherwise you could lose your momentum and drop off in your exercise. And it may not hurt to walk with a friend or vary your routes to keep things interesting. Just be sure to let someone know which route you are taking when you are walking alone.

If you are not already enjoying the benefits of walking, I hope you will consider giving it a try. All you have to do is take those first steps, and you'll be on a journey to better health and fitness.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Living the simple life...

Simplifying life is something I hear a lot about lately both from friends and family. And there is no doubt that it is a very important step that demands a concentrated effort. A while back I had an experience and I needed to do just that. I had taken on too much and was feeling overstressed from juggling a busy schedule and too many demands. I have heard the same advice I give to friends: if you want to feel more in sync with life, you need to take steps to simplify it.

First, I thought of prioritizing my commitments and eliminate at least one. Right away, I eliminated one commitment and then later decided to let go of two more. I felt a little guilty at first, but in the end freeing up valuable time was a huge relief.

Next, I took stock of her rather lengthy "to-do" list. Long to-do lists can make you feel like you are drowning in a sea of work that will never end. I decided which tasks I would cross off, as well as what I could delegate to someone else or simply put on hold until later. I knew that shortening my list made it easier for me to complete tasks, and that gave me a feeling of accomplishment.

I also began to de-clutter my physical environment. Clutter creates a feeling of chaos and can prevent you from being relaxed and happy. Rather than trying to tackle the whole house at once, she chose to focus on one drawer, cabinet, or closet at a time. I only kept the things I really loved and used, and then gave away the rest. By de-cluttering my space, even a little at a time, I soon created a more pleasant living space.

I began to feel that much less stressed and more peaceful. If you would take into consideration my suggestions, your quality of life will be greatly improved by having a simplification overhaul. As you would imagine, I am very happy for myself!

I hope you will find this helpful. Most of us can stand to simplify our lives to some degree or can help someone close to us who is in need of doing that.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Enjoy the summer!

In my part of the world, overcast days are quite common. However, the idea of a gray day can apply to more than just the weather. Cloudy, gray days can also refer to blue, listless feelings so that even those who live in the sunniest of climates can experience gray days.

Fortunately, there are things to help combat these "gray day" doldrums. One surefire way that works for me is to go outside, even if it's only for a few minutes, to take in some fresh air. Natural settings can be very calming. And in the summertime, with the new growth and blooms to take in, I find it particularly inspiring.

You can also break the monotony of a dull day by changing your schedule around or doing something out of the ordinary, such as a creative activity. For example, you could record thoughts in your journal, do an art or crafts activity, or take photos of something that catches your eye. This kind of stimulation can have you feeling better in no time!

Another idea is to take an exercise break, because exercise helps your body release endorphins that can improve your mood. When you exercise, you increase the amount of oxygen that goes to your brain and boost your overall metabolism. Having a higher metabolism helps to make you less lethargic.

Of course, if you are experiencing one of those gray days where you really can't get yourself moving, sometimes just a day of plain old rest can be extremely therapeutic and all that you need to get yourself back on track.

I hope that you'll try out my suggestions if you feel the need. You may have your own remedies to combat a gray day. In the meantime, summertime is good for initiating and putting plans into action, and for enjoying Mother Nature, of course!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Do you have communication problems?

Several weeks back I had watched a mother and daughter seek help from Dr. Phil in his show. They were having communication difficulties and wanted a resolution to their relationship. When they first arrived, the two women were already involved in a heated discussion, which ended with the daughter accusing the mother of treating her like a child and the mother telling her daughter that she needed an attitude adjustment.

Needless to say, I thought Dr. Phil didn't really need to do a relationship chart to understand what was going on. Within just a few moments of listening to their conversation, it was obvious that there was a serious lack of effective communication between them. So, in addition to giving them an advice, Dr. Phil spent time sharing ways they might communicate more openly and respectfully. Most of us run into communication problems every now and then, and it never hurts to review how we can communicate better.

In this case of a mother/daughter, Dr. Phil asked them to consider their tone and the clarity of their messages to one another as well as the vibe they were giving off. He wanted them to think about what they wanted to say before actually saying it. For example, instead of the mother saying, "What do you mean by that?" she could rephrase that thought with, "Can you repeat what you just said. I am not sure I understood it all." And instead of her daughter replying, "Just forget about it, you never listen," the daughter could say, "Is there a particular part you aren't sure about or should I just start over?"

He also advised them to consider the best time to approach heavier or more sensitive subjects. For example, if you need to bring up a touchy subject, pick a time when all parties involved are able to give their full attention to the topic. Creating appropriate time and space for important communications is a necessary step. For example, talking over a cup of tea will certainly produce better results than a rushed conversation during a hectic day.

The last point, he coached the mother and daughter on was to listen to one another without interrupting. Finishing someone's sentence or breaking into the middle of their statement with a counterargument can be extremely frustrating and cause even a minor communication to escalate into a nasty exchange. At the end of the show, both mother and daughter agreed they had work to do. And Dr. Phil is happy to report that they have apparently made progress on their communication skills.

A little patience along with a willingness to listen and plan for important discussions can go a long way toward improving communication and building closer ties. We can all stand a little help at this every now and then. Enjoy your week everyone and let us all contemplate this Holy Week.

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