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Get a Daily Dose of Laughter

“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”

Charles Dickens

Laughing baby.
Laughter is good medicine.

When we take ourselves too seriously, every little thing becomes a monumental catastrophe. We end up frustrated and angry. That can be contagious too.

But when we can laugh at ourselves, things don’t seem as bad. It’s like sunshine breaking through clouds on a gloomy day.

Don’t know any good jokes? Nothing going on that you find very funny?

Try the “fake it ’til you make it” approach.

Start with a smile and then a little “heehee”. And then try a “haha” and then get your body into it and then before long, you’ll be laughing. Really laughing.

Of course, I offer no guarantee, but I highly recommend you give it a try!

I hope your new year is filled with happiness and laughter. And strength and health.

Blessings to you and yours,

RM

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How to Set SMART Goals and Make Your New Year’s Resolutions stick

As the end of 2016 quickly approaches, there’s more talk about New Year’s resolutions and setting goals for 2017.

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A common approach for setting goals is to set SMART goals.

What’s a SMART goal?

SMART is an acronym for

S – specific

M – Measurable

A – Attainable

R – reasonable

T – time specific

Setting SMART goals is a simple way to set goals in any area of your life, such as fitness, health, finances, professional, personal, family, etc.

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Here’s an example of a SMART goal:

I want to lose 5 pounds by Valentines Day 2017.

Specific – Lose 5 pounds

Measurable – Get on the scale and current weight minus 5

Attainable – Valentines Day is February 14 so that’s 6 weeks from January 1 so that would be slightly less than a pound a week. Yep. That’s attainable.

Reasonable – A pound a week seems reasonable

Time Specific – February 14 is my end date

Even if you’re long term goal is to lose 50 pounds, meeting short incremental goals like this will add up. So in mid-February, plan on setting another goal:

I want to lose 5 pounds by March 30, 2017.

If you were to stay on that course for the year, by the end of the year, you’ll have lost more than 40 pounds. That’s significant!

Here’s an example of a Non-SMART goal:

I want to lose weight in 2017

“lose weight” isn’t specific enough and 2017 doesn’t make it a timely goal.

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Here’s an example of a SMART goal in the area of personal finances:

I want to pay off a $1000 credit card balance by June 2017.

S – The specific goal is to ay off a balance of $1000, taking into account interest and other charges

M – It’s measurable because by June 1, 2017 I’ll either have a balance or not.

A – Is it attainable? Come up with an action plan so you can decide if you need to adjust your goal.

Realistic – Creating a plan of action will help you decide if it’s a realistic goal.

Time Specific – June 1, 2017 is specific.

Also not a SMART goal.

I want to get a new job and make more money.


Yogi Berra once famously said:
If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.

Yogi Berra

When setting goals, it’s important to write them down and not keep them floating around in your head. The process of writing them out helps make them real so you’re more likely to commit to them.

Set goals for things you’re ready to work for and not things that you wish would happen. Focus on areas of your life you’re ready to improve and that are really important to you.

Once you’ve got your goals set, come up with a plan to reach them. There are a ton of people and resources to guide you if you need help. Remember to take it a little at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed.

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Reflect on the past year as you look forward

As you look forward to the new year, also take some time to reflect on the past year. What were some good experiences? S

ome not so good things? What did you do that you loved? How did you overcome a challenge? How did that make you feel?

Remember that the negative tends to stick out in our minds and the good stuff tends to blend into the background. Look at pictures from the past year to help jog your memory. When you look at the tough times, think about how you handled it, how you got through it, and what you learned.

I hope you accomplish all your goals in 2017 and that it turns out to be a fantastic year for you.

Thank you for reading and sharing my blog. I’m truly grateful for time and attention.

Blessings!

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Travel Lightly by Checking Your Baggage

Lighten your burden by traveling lightly. Check emotional baggage; it’ll weigh you down.

What’s emotional baggage? It’s sadness, anger, or hurt we continue to feel about an event or person that happened some time in the past.

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Emotional baggage can weigh you down.

Why do we hold on to it? Do we really want to continue experiencing those negative feelings about something that happened a long time ago?

Carrying that pain around is a heavy burden and it’s exhausting. Sometimes the anger and hurt go so deep that it feels like you won’t ever get past it.

But you can.

Release your grip on your baggage. Choose to check it even if you’ve gotten so used to holding on to it.

How do you let go?

When you live in the present, it’s easier for forget the wrongs of the past.
Forgive. Swallow your pride, release your grip, and then let go.

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Leave the hurt, disappointment, and pain from the past in the past.

That’s the only way to make room for grace, love, and happiness to take its place.

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4 Ways In Person Shopping is Good for Your Health

Recently, my daughter and I needed something to wear to two separate family occasions, so we went shopping the old fashioned way – at a store, in person. We went through the racks of dresses, thinking about both occasions and venues and what would be appropriate for each. We picked out armfuls of dresses and then tried each one on and decided Yay or Nay. Even though neither of us like to shop, it was fun.

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The excursion got me thinking about the shopping experience and how it’s changed so much over the years. We’ve seen huge retail stores shut their doors and there’s always discussion about how brick and mortar retailers can compete with online shopping.

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There are definitely benefits for shopping online, but when it comes to your health, there are real benefits of shopping in person – the old-fashioned way. Here are a few

Health benefits of shopping in person:

1. Gets you moving

The American Heart Association recommends 10,000 steps a day as an activity goal for heart health. In person shopping will get you way more steps than online shopping. If you struggle to find time to work out or get moving throughout the day, think of your trip to the store as an opportunity to get moving.

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2. Gets you out of the house

Getting out of the house can be good for your mental health. A change in routine helps stimulate the brain even if it takes more energy. Instead of relying on things being delivered to your door because you just don’t want to get out, when you need something, do it the old-fashioned way.

3. Interaction with people

This might not always seem like a benefit because people are not perfect. I know. People don’t know how to drive, how to scan their credit card, walk too slow, are always in your way, etc especially when you’re in a hurry. If you’ve had a rough day at the office and you’ve had plenty of human interaction, a shopping trip to anywhere for anything is just not what you want. In that case, leave it for another day if you can. Otherwise, go be with people.

4. Tactile stimulation

Shopping the old-fashioned way gets your senses going and stimulates the brain. Why do you decide to buy a particular product? Is it mostly what you see? When I was trying on dresses, I wanted the dress to look nice on me, but I also wanted to feel good wearing it. That experience is impossible to duplicate online. For now, at least.

Consumers have lots of shopping options. When it comes to your physical and mental health, there are some benefits to doing it the old-fashioned way.

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10 Things to Do to Keep You Healthy and Happy Through the Holidays

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It can also be overwhelming and stressful, making it a challenge to stay happy and healthy. As always, it’s important to do what you can to take care of yourself so you can be your best.

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Stay healthy and happy this holiday season.

Here are 10 things to do to help you stay healthy and happy through the holiday season:

1. Get moving

Do what you can to get your body moving. If you track your steps, shoot for at least 10,000 steps a day. Or get outdoors and go for a walk or run. Get active by going for a bike ride, Or ski, bowl, hike, golf, Frisbee, Frisbee golf, dance, go to a workout class – whatever.

Some of the benefits of exercise – helps relieve stress by lowering cortisol, the stress hormone, and increasing endorphins, the feel-good hormone. Equalizes hormone levels.

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Get moving.
2. Take 3 minutes

Start your day with at least 3 minutes of quiet time. Yes, you’re busy, but investing at least 3 minutes every morning will help put you in a positive state of mind and set the course for your day. Use the time for light stretching, deep breathing, positive encouragement, silent prayer, or just silence.

3. Smile

You’ve probably heard the phrase: Fake it ’til you make it. What’s really cool about fake smiling is that your brain doesn’t know you’re faking your smile. You’re smiling. That’s it. The action sends a signal to your brain that you’re okay – guess what? – you feel okay, maybe even a little happier. It’s like magic. So especially when you don’t really feel like it, smile.

4. Laugh

Fake laughing follows the same principal as fake smiling in helping you feel happy. Laughing is a little less convenient because for some reason it’s not normal to just bust out laughing for no reason.

Our bodies are such amazing creations and the mind-body connection is real. You may have heard of studies that use laughter yoga for pain management. It works. So when you feel a little stressed, laugh like Santa Claus “ho ho ho” and then throw in a “ha ha ha”. Repeat. Get a friend to join you for double the laughs.

5. Hydrate

Drinking water is so important to keep you feeling your best. Busy holiday schedules tend to disrupt healthy habits so keep a glass of water at hand and drink up. How much water should you be drinking? What’s usually recommended is half your body weight in ounces, more if you’re sweating.

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Hydrate
6. Limit Alcohol

While water helps hydrate, alcohol dehydrates. Studies released in the past few years make headlines when they shout, “Hey, doctors say wine’s good for you!” Those same studies recommend limiting alcohol to one serving a day for women, two servings a day for men. One serving is of wine is 4 – 5 ounces. To put it in perspective, that’s slightly more that half a cup.

7. Eat healthy

Keep it as simple as you can. Eat more vegetables, limit sugar, and control portions. Eat small meals and snacks throughout the day so you don’t get over-hungry and you’re able to be more mindful of your food choices. Read more suggestions about making good food choices at Take Care of Your Body.

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Choose healthy snacks.
8. Sleep

It’s a hectic time, but sleep is the time when you’re body re-charges and rejuvenates. Schedule your sleep time and do your best to stick with it. Try shutting down electronic devices, including phones, tablets, televisions, an hour before your scheduled bedtime. The blue light in electronics is thought to inhibit the sleep hormone, melatonin, making it harder for you to get to sleep.

9. Give up on perfection

Those Christmas specials and holiday commercials don’t seem real – the ones where homes are perfect, the holiday table looks beautiful, the turkey is roasted to golden perfection, and there’s a brand new luxury car in the driveway. If it works out that way, excellent! But if it works out like the dinner in A Christmas Story where the turkey winds up on the floor and the family ends up going out for Chinese food, that’s okay too.

10. Have a heart of gratitude

As always, and especially when life gets hectic, have a heart of gratitude. When you consciously recognize the people and things you’re grateful for, it helps take the edge off and so you don’t sweat the small stuff.

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Have a heart of gratitude.

Those are the 10 things to do to help keep you happy and healthy through the holidays:

  1. Get moving
  2. Take 3 minutes
  3. Smile
  4. Laugh
  5. Hydrate
  6. Limit alcohol
  7. Eat healthy
  8. Sleep
  9. Give up on perfection
  10. Have a heart of gratitude

Keep your health and happiness on your list of things to do this holiday season. Finish 2016 strong and be ready to welcome a new year feeling strong and happy.

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Let Positivity Boost You Past Your Comfort Zone

Why do negative thoughts stand out so much more than positive thoughts? You could have 10 people compliment your work and 1 person criticize it. The negative criticism tends to dominate the rest.

Negative, hurtful, and unkind words can have a lasting effect on your confidence and make you want to stay where you’re safe – perfectly okay in your comfort zone doing the same thing you’ve always done in the same way you’ve always done it.

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Get past your comfort zone

Venturing past your comfort zone can be scary, making you feel awkward and vulnerable. It’s totally understandable to not even want to go any further.

Here’s what Dwayne Johnson, “The Rock”, says about that:

"A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing grows there."

It takes courage to get out of your comfort zone, to deal with what people might say or think, to focus on the positive  messages instead of fixating on the negative.

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Let positivity give you a boost.

Don’t let negativity keep you from growing, from discovering the genius that lies within you.

Allow positive thoughts, words, and ideas to assure your mind and body that you’re safe even though you’re stretching your limits. That’s the how you’ll grow.

Be encouraged. Flood your mind with positivity to help you discover that you really can do what you thought for sure you couldn’t do.

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Gift Ideas for People Who Have Enough Stuff

Giving gifts is a Christmas tradition for lots of people, my family included. But what do you give people who say they have enough stuff? That they don’t want or need anything, but you still want to continue your tradition of gift-giving?

....For it is in giving that we receive.   St. Francis of Assisi
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Statue of St. Francis of Assisi

Here are some gift ideas for people who say they don’t want anything and don’t need more stuff.

Pampering

  1. Spa day
  2. Manicure
  3. Pedicure
  4. Massage
  5. Hair Style
  6. Facial

Time Shares

  1. Meal and a Hike
  2. A meal and a movie
  3. Day trip
  4. Sporting event
  5. Go to a Concert
  6. Picnic in the park
  7. Playing tourist (in town)
  8. Bowling
  9. Skating
  10. Game night
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Handmade Ornament

At their service

  1. Housecleaning
  2. Wash and vacuum car
  3. Home cooked dinner
  4. Wash the windows
  5. Assist with some project/maintenance
  6. A week of Meal Prep meals

Tribute Item

  1. Photo collage
  2. Video of memorable photos
  3. Tribute video
  4. Song collection

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    Catch a movie.

Sponsored Activity

  1. Trial membership to a gym
  2. Dance lessons
  3. Yoga session(s)
  4. Bungee workout
  5. Pilates sessions
  6. Tandem sky dive jump

These are just a few gift ideas for the person who has lots of stuff and says they don’t need anything. Some of the items may be activities you’re doing anyway, but focusing time and energy and thoughtfully planning a simple occasion, like a picnic in the park, help make that event particularly memorable.

Giving can be tremendous and joyful without spending a load of money. Keep it simple, think it through, and be creative. Surely,that special person will get as much joy in receiving your amazing gift as you get in giving.

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5 Reasons to Join the Meatless Monday Movement

The Meatless Monday movement is a promotion aimed at reducing meat consumption for a healthier planet and its inhabitants.

Why Meatless Monday?

According to meatlessmonday.com, the Meatless Monday Campaign’s goal

“is to encourage people to refrain from eating meat one day a week. Meatless Monday seeks to reduce the prevalence of preventable illnesses and the environmental impacts associated with meat production and excessive meat consumption. Meatless Monday was originally promoted by the U.S. government during both World Wars by urging families to reduce consumption of key staples. It was reintroduced as a public health awareness campaign in 2003 by former ad man turned health advocate Sid Lerner, in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School and the Center for a Livable Future.” 

The movement is global and reaches more than 44 countries. It’s a movement designed to make people aware of the environmental and health impacts of increased meat consumption.

According to the campaign website, more people are eating more meat around the world, and health risks will increase as worldwide meat consumption increases.

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Meatless Monday Meal

I participate in Meatless Monday as a way to be more thoughtful about my food sources. It’s become a good way to introduce meatless dishes at my house.

Here are my top 5 reasons to join the Meatless Monday Movement:

1. Eat lighter by eating less meat

The movement started back WWI and then was brought back in WW II to help focus resources on the war effort, and then was re-introduced to reduce preventable diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke. That’s not to say that meat causes these diseases, but because we eat more meat than in past generations, the logic is that eating less may be good for your health.

2. Focus on vegetables

Meatless Mondays are the perfect time to try new vegetable recipes or vegetables you’ve never tried before or to amp up the vegetables and make them the center of the meal instead of the lowly side.

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Longhorn and calf
3. Raise awareness of food sources

I learned about the Meatless Monday movement when I started looking more closely at food sources and where my food was coming from. I’m a city girl and I’ve never slaughtered an animal and prepped it as food. I accept that humans are the top of the food chain, but still feel compelled to consider the process that gets a cow to be a steak. And I know it’s not much, but meatless meals even one day a week help me be more conscious of where my food comes from and how it gets to my table.

4. Lighten your ecological footprint

Our ecological footprint is calculated by the amount of resources, specifically fuel, we use. If you’re interested in conservation and ecology, you’re probably interested in lightening your ecological footprint. Red meat consumption is one of the primary calculators of your ecological footprint. For more information about the ecological footprint, go to footprintnetwork.org.

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Roasted vegetables for Meatless Monday
5. Encourages creativity in the kitchen.

How many meals can you think of that don’t use meat? I couldn’t think of many. If your family is a meat and potatoes kind of bunch, a meatless dinner they’ll like may sound impossible, but it’s do-able. Meatlessmonday.com has lots of recipes and meal ideas. You can also try The Food Network Blog. Lots of food bloggers and recipe sites now have sections for Meatless Monday as well.

Why Monday?

Monday’s the day most people choose to make a lifestyle change, such as quitting smoking or starting to exercise.

Give Meatless Monday a try. You may not even miss the meat.

Do you think Meatless Monday is something you’d like to do? Please share any meal ideas for meatless meals.

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Dream of the finish and then get started

Mindset Monday

Whatever it is you desire – whatever you wish were true for your life, believe in yourself, dream of the finish, and then get started and keep going. One step at a time. Rain or shine.

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Start and then keep going.
Go the distance

The conditions for the annual San Antonio Rock and Roll Marathon and Half Marathon were miserable this year. It was cold and the rain was constant.

Even so, people of all different fitness levels and ages showed up to run the 13 or 26-mile course.

It’s hard to imagine running that distance being soaking wet from head to toe. There’s no way to stay dry. Those athletes could’ve stayed home and said, “Yeah, that’s gonna be horrible. I’m not doing that.”

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One step at a time

But they didn’t. Everyone out on that course made a decision to show up at the starting line and run the course, one step at a time, one mile at a time, until they crossed the finish line.

Truly awesome.

Isn’t the same true for any goal, aspiration, hope, or desire?

Dream of the finish line, but don’t expect to start there.

The only way to cross the finish line is to cross the starting line.

In between, you’ll need determination, grit, commitment, and action. When things get tough and uncomfortable, stay strong in your belief.

And then keep moving forward. One step at a time; one mile at a time.

Amazing things are accomplished by those who start and then keep going. Rain or shine. There’s no reason it can’t be you.

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The Hardest Part of a Workout is Showing Up

When it come to exercising, sometimes the hardest part is showing up.

You may know exercise is good for you.  Maybe you really want to start exercising, but something always comes up and you can’t seem to get started.

You know you really should do it. And that it takes a commitment to do it. (Read more at Exercise – The First Step is the Hardest)

Still, you can’t quite figure out why you can’t get going.

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It’s hard to get moving.

It’s tempting to compare yourself to others, such as some one who seems committed to his or her exercise routines and think, “I could never be that disciplined.”

Or to compare yourself to some one who you think has no other commitments and think, “It’s easy for them because they have lots of time. I have so much stuff going on.”

No matter how it seems, the truth is that most people have to work at staying committed. Simply knowing the benefits of exercise doesn’t make it easy to show up to a work out.

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Showing up is the hardest part.

My friend Alice, who has made tremendous progress by staying consistent with her workouts, showed up to a group workout and said, “I don’t want to be here. I don’t feel like working out. I sat in my car thinking about going home.”

“And here you are, Alice! The hardest part is done!” I said.

Alice shifted her attitude and made the choice to get out of her car and join the workout instead of going home. She had worked a full day and she was tired, but she chose to show up.

Why do some people show up and others don’t?

I’ve thought about this a lot. For myself as much as anyone.

These days, I work out consistently, but several years ago I completely quit my gym workouts. I decided they were boring and that life is too short to do something I really didn’t enjoy, so I quit.

It didn’t take long for me to lose my muscle definition and to start feeling like a slug, just kind of blah.

I decided I didn’t like that either. So I had to make a choice. Either find something I like to do and then do it or don’t do it and accept the consequences that brings.

I gradually came around and got moving again.

Now, I work out with my very motivated husband who actually likes working out. He tolerates my grumbling and mad mugs when I feel like I just don’t want to do it.

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Looking at workout board

I can’t think about it too much. I just get my workout clothes on, show up, listen to my body, and stay mindful of my movements.

And then, the workout’s done and I’m almost always glad I did it.

Why do some people show up and others don’t?

It’s physics. A body in motion tends to stay in motion while a body at rest tends to stay at rest. Unless acted upon by an equal or greater force.

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It’s physics.

What greater or equal force will get you to show up? What will get you in motion and keep you in motion?

Whatever that force is, it has to be bigger than your excuses.

It could be your:

  • why
  • desire to realize the benefits of exercise, such as improved mental clarity
  • commitment you’ve made to some one else to be there
  • commitment you’ve made to yourself to be there
  • some inner driving force
  • knowledge that you’ll feel better once it’s done
  • desire to burn off excess calories you’ve consumed
  • desire to burn off calories you plan to consume

Don’t think about it too much, just start moving and then don’t stop. Take baby steps if you have to and, even when you’re full of excuses, keep showing up. That’s the hardest part.

What is the force that will move you? Or stop you?