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Mindset Monday – Embrace the Beginners’ Mindset

 

No one starts off as an expert at anything. Everyone starts as a beginner.

Like a toddler learning to walk

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Have a beginner’s mindset.

Embrace the beginners’ mindset and accept that awkward, clumsy stage when you’re just getting started, when you realize how much there is to learn.

You might say, “I’ll look like stupid! I’ll sound like a goofball!” It’s tempting to say, “Forget about it!” and not even try.

That’s understandable. No one wants to look silly.

Being a beginner makes you vulnerable.

Will people laugh, criticize, make comments?

Maybe.

When you have a beginners’ mindset, you start anyway. You understand the principle of walking before you can run, of starting a journey with the first step.

It’s not too late

Do you want to play the guitar? Run a marathon? Write a novel? Start a business?

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You’ve got to start somewhere.

Will you achieve fame and fortune in your new venture? Maybe not.

But what if you find that you love it anyway?

What if you discover a new passion, a creative outlet that leads to more people, places, and things?

Embrace the beginners’ mindset and start from where you are. Don’t let pride and fear keep you from learning something new.

The old saying goes: If you’re not learning, you’re not growing.

Be a beginner every day and see what you can learn.

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What’s a Cardio Workout?

So, we know exercise is good for us – good for the mind, good for the body.

But what comes to mind when you hear the word “exercise”?

Is it running on a track, doing calisthenics like in gym class, dancing, weightlifting, running a half marathon, walking, yoga, or something else?

Recommended Guidelines

According to Harvard Health Publications, guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend a well-rounded plan of “aerobic activity, strength training, and balance exercises.”

Over the next few weeks, I’ll touch on each of these 3 different exercise categories:

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Cardio/Aerobic

Strength

Flexibility/balance/core

Starting with Cardio/Aerobic

Is cardio the same as aerobic exercise?

You’ll hear both terms, but cardio and aerobic workouts are the same types of exercises.

Aerobic literally means “with oxygen”. Cardio (cardiovascular) gets the heart pumping or increasing heart rate.

Cardio Workout:

Activities that get your heart pumping for a sustained period of time, such as cycling, swimming, running, power walking, jump rope, rowing, calisthenics like jumping jacks and running in place, etc.

Usually, you know you’re doing a cardio workout when you’re breathing heavier than normal, but not so heavy that you can’t catch your breath.

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Benefits of Cardio

According to Mark Montalvo, a Certified Personal Trainer with more than 25 years experience in the fitness industry (and my husband), one of the primary benefits of cardio is to get your heart pumping.

He says, “Your heart’s a muscle and, like any muscle, you have to work it. The way to do that is by increasing your heart rate and putting a little bit of stress on it. One of the easiest ways to do that is to go for a walk, and what I mean is to intentionally set aside time, 15-20 minutes, to go for a walk that can increase your heart rate, so it’ll get you’re heart pumping.

It’s not just a stroll. You want to move with a purpose as if you’re trying to get somewhere in a hurry. Imagine that your bus is at the bus stop and you’re a block away and you’re trying to get there before the bus drives off – that’s the kind of pace your want to have, that hard walk. It’s in addition to the normal walking around you do every day.”

If you’re mostly sedentary now, going for a walk would be a good exercise activity to start because it’s accessible and doesn’t require expensive equipment.

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Risks of Cardio

Overuse/Impact related injuries – Repetitive, high impact activities can cause injury. As always, finding equipment, like a suitable pair of shoes, will go a long way in keeping you healthy and active.

No focus on building muscle (aside from the heart) – Cardio works the heart but doesn’t build other muscle groups, not directly anyway. Loss of muscle mass puts women at higher risk for osteoporosis, so it’s important to incorporate strength training with cardio activities.

I’ll be covering strength training and flexibility/balance/core workouts over the next two weeks.

Read Newsflash: Exercise is good for you! for a list of the research-based benefits of exercise.

As always, it’s important to check with your health care professional before starting an exercise program, especially if you’re under doctor’s care for a health condition.

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How to Start Eating Healthy and Stick to It

Years ago, I struggled with several health concerns, including having a very tough time losing weight. I was frustrated and confused because I was physically active at that time – worked out regularly – and it seemed like I was always training for some event, like a half-marathon or sprint triathlon.

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But when I realized how nutrition was impacting my health, I knew had a lot to learn. I tried all the nutrition hacks I could find, like low carb, no white stuff (rice, bread, sugar), eat breakfast, don’t eat breakfast, nutrition pyramid, etc.

Nothing helped very much and I was frustrated with my results. I thought something was wrong with me and that maybe my body just wanted to carry that extra weight. Or maybe I was just weak and lacked will power.

Then I realized that one of the reasons I didn’t have long-term success was because I hadn’t found what works for me, not just to lose weight, but for overall better health.

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That’s when I learned that some nutrition and inflammation and that, for whatever reason, some types of food aren’t good for me. I also learned about the glycemic index and how eating low glycemic food can help me lose weight. (Read Use Low Glycemic Approach to Lose Weight and Keep It Off for more information.)

Finally!

There’s a lot of confusion about what works best when you’re trying to eat healthy. Should you have fat or not have fat?

Is sugar really that bad for you?

What about breakfast? I heard the old saying “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” is a myth. Is it?

If you’re ready to start eating healthy and want some direction, here are 5 easy steps to get started.

Find what works for you.

The saying goes: The best diet is the one you can stick to.

We’re all different so what works for you may not work for me. And vice-versa.

Do you have to stay away from bread? For me, whole grains like quinoa and steel cut oats are okay for me, but most other grains aren’t. You may be fine with most grains.

Should you eat breakfast or skip it? Some people, like my husband, practice “intermittent fasting” and skip breakfast. It works for them. If I skip breakfast, I feel ravenous and tend to eat more or whatever’s on hand.

Should you snack or not? For me, small snacks throughout the day help keep me from getting over-hungry and helps me stay on track.

Is dairy okay? For some people even a little dairy is too much.

Is low-carb a good option? If you like fruits and vegetables, low carb is probably not going to be the best option for you.

For more information, go to webmd.com’s 10 Tips for Finding the Best Diet That Works for You

Practice portion control.

A couple of tricks to keep portions reasonable:

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Use a smaller bowl/plate.

Use a small spoon.

When at home, keep extra food away from the table so second helpings aren’t as convenient.

When eating out:

Share an entree with a friend.

Pack half your entree in a to-go container.

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Energy drinks, fruit drinks, alcohol, and sweet and creamy coffee drinks often have little nutrition and lots of added sugar. If you choose to indulge, stick with the small size.

Unsweetened tea or coffee or fruit-infused water are good options.

Eat mindfully.

Fast eating usually means unsatisfied eating. like when you’re eating so fast you don’t even remember what you ate?

Take your time and eat slowly. This is a lot easier to do if you’re not over-hungry.

Learn about food labels.

The simple way to read a food label is to look at the ingredients.

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Watch for added sugar and make the best choice you can. For more information about food labels, read How to Read a Food Label

We’re all different. What works for some people may not work for you.

It may be helpful to keep a food journal so you can note how certain foods make you feel. Which food leave you feeling satisfied and which leave you hungry right away.

It takes trial and error, but it’s well worth the effort when you discover which foods help you feel healthy and well instead of sick and worn out.

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Mindset Monday – Be empowered by the truth of this simple statement

Have you ever had a teacher make a life-long impression on you?

My 3rd grade teacher at St. Paul’s Catholic School, Mrs. Stehling, I think was her name, was a tough lady – old, shaky, and a little scary.

She didn’t sugarcoat anything.

Whenever a classmate asked for clarification on an assignment, for example, “Do we have to write 2 pages?”, Mrs. Stehling would say, “You don’t have to do anything but die.”

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We all sat there shocked, looking at each other wide-eyed, with that “Did you hear what she said?” expression.

I’m sure none of us had any idea what she meant, but I’ve thought about her response many times since I was 8. (How’s that for having words stick with you?)

All these years later – her response, though harsh, rings true.

And it’s solid.

Sure, there are consequences, possible ramifications of action or inaction.

“You don’t have to do anything but die.”

Yes, it’s stern, but empowering too. You don’t have to do anything.

Everything you do is by choice. And understanding that you have a choice can shift your perspective.

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It changes “having” to do something to “wanting” to do something.

 And how do you choose?

How do you decide what to do especially when you don’t feel like you have much of a choice?

Choose to act out of love, instead of obligation. Act with joy in your heart, instead of resentment.

Peace, instead of anger.

Acceptance, instead of judgement.

Sometimes circumstances demand courage to act, stand up for yourself, or fight for a cause you believe in.

Or to take a leap of faith even though the outcome is uncertain.

Let the truth of Mrs. Stehling’s statement empower you to be courageous, strong, and happy.

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News Flash: Exercise is good for you!

Oh, have you already heard that? Not news? Well, “exercise” can be many things to many people, from jumping jacks to kayaking to running ultra-marathons and everything in between.

Seeing a super-fit athlete doing a high intensity workout may be a little intimidating. You may think, “I could never do that.” And maybe you’re right.

But even if you can’t do that, you can do something.

And something is better than nothing. The key is to find what works for you and start small if you need to.

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Showing up is the hardest part.

I’ve blogged about exercise in different contexts like Group Exercise: Why it’s better than going solo, Exercise: The First Step is the Hardest, and The Hardest Part of a Workout is Showing Up, and more.

But I think I jumped ahead a little, so today, I’m going to list some of

The benefits of exercise

These are well-documented, research-based benefits … and I can attest to these myself.

Exercise:

Improves mood

Exercise increases endorphins – the “feel good” hormones.

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Looking at the workout board.

 

Reduces stress

Again, balances hormones and lowers cortisol levels – the “stress” hormones.

Improves brain clarity

In the book Life Reimagined, Barbara Bradly Hagerty spoke with Kirk Erickson, researcher at the University of Pittsburgh who found “nothing will keep you as mentally acute as raising your heart rate a few times a week. Nothing.”  Exercise is good for the body and mind.

Physical strength and muscle tone

Movement calls for muscles to flex. Focused movement beyond daily activities stresses muscles and keeps them strong. It’s like most things, use it or lose it.

Helps strengthen bones

Exercise strengthens bones by stressing them. According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation “Exercise plays an important role in building and maintaining bone strength.”

Improved balance and stability

As we age, we’re more at risk for falling. Regular exercise helps strengthen muscles and bones and improves our ability to balance and recover from near-falls.

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Over the next several weeks, I’m going to be going through different types of exercise and refer to my on-staff Subject Matter Expert (SME) about the benefits of several types of exercise – what they are and their benefits.

Have you experienced some of these benefits? I’d love to hear what you find to be the greatest benefit. Please share in the comments below.

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(Video) Improve your health and happiness

 

A few years ago I learned something that shifted my attitude about the connection between good health and food.

The Health-Nutrition Connection

It started when I caught Dr. Mark Hyman on television talking about his book, The Blood Sugar Solution. At the time, I wasn’t feeling well. I had digestive issues, pre-diabetes symptoms, menopausal symptoms, rosacea, low energy, and more.

In his discussion that Sunday afternoon, Dr. Hyman said (in a nutshell) that improving nutrition improves health and that people (like me) are unknowingly eating food that’s causing inflammation and making them (me) sick.

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I was skeptical, but wanted to learn more, so I bought The Blood Sugar Solution. And soon after incorporating a few of Dr. Hyman’s recommendations, I felt better. My symptoms improved almost immediately.

To read more about my experience and what I learned, read “Nutrition and Inflammation – How Are They Related and Why Should I Care?

An Interview with Dr. Mark Hyman

Today, I’m sharing a video of one of my favorite people online, Marie Forleo,  interviewing Dr. Hyman.

If you’re not familiar with Marie, I highly recommend you check out her work. She is “An entrepreneur, writer, philanthropist, and unshakable optimist dedicated to helping you become the person you most want to be.” From Marie’s “About” page at marieforleo.com 

I hope you take the time to watch or listen to the interview if you’re interested in learning a few simple ways to improve your health.

You may be doubtful, about Dr. Hyman’s message, about the idea that food you eat every day can be making you sick. I was certainly skeptical about his message.

I thought, “Certainly food companies aren’t allowed to sell products that make people sick.”  I thought I was protected.

But now I know that’s just not true.

Click here to read more about the interview and watch/listen to the segment on MarieTV.

Or watch/listen to the 30-minute video here:

 

Especially as we age, eating good food becomes critical to feeling well and strong. I encourage you to watch/listen with an open mind and an open heart. Dr. Hyman inspired me take control of my health and it could do the same for you or some one you love.

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts about what you’ve heard. Feel free to share in the comments.

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Let Your Faith Be Stronger Than Your Fear

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Faith empowers you to

  • start before you’re ready
  • make mistakes
  • be vulnerable
  • know that you’ll figure things out along the way

Faith silences fear and moves you to the first step.

And keeps you going.

Resistance will make you want to stay at the bottom of the staircase. Fear will try to talk you out of taking that first step toward the unknown.

Have faith in …

God’s promises

yourself

your dreams

your intuition

And then get to work, one step at a time.

Every journey starts at the beginning. You never know what’s possible.

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5 Reasons to Take Care of Your Health Now

We’ve learned a lot about the human body and staying healthy over the past 60 years. As a result, we’ve seen changes in public policy, surgeon general recommendations, and what’s considered “healthy”.

This 1949 Camel cigarette commercial claims, “More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette.”

 

And I love watching The Twilight Zone. That was a show ahead of its time, and a sign of the times as the show’s creator, Rod Serling, regularly appeared with a lit cigarette.

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Rod Serling from The Twilight Zone

 

Cigarettes are still around. Many people choose to light up despite the warnings. Some struggle to kick the habit. Still, far fewer Americans smoke in 2017 than did in 1950.

We got the message: smoking’s bad for your health.

(If you smoke and would like more information about quitting, go to smokefree.gov for information, tips, tools, and support.)

These days, the public health warnings have shifted from the dangers of smoking to warnings about health risks of obesity and a sedentary lifestyle:

Obesity is the new smoking.

Sitting too much is bad for your health.

Whether or not you believe the claims, I think most people would agree that eating nutritious food and exercising regularly (specific recommendations vary, but generally agree on moderation, reducing processed foods and more vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and lean meats) are better for your health than not.

Will public health warnings lead to restricted food marketing and regulations on less healthy food, like they did with cigarettes?

Maybe.

Or, you can do what’s best for your health, take care of yourself, and adopt a healthier lifestyle now.

Even without a Surgeon General’s warning.

It’s hard to stay motivated to eat right and exercise. I struggle with it too. It helps to

Look at it as an investment.

Not just for now, but for your future.

Here are 5 reasons it’s a good idea for your future to take care of yourself now:

Feel better now and in the future.

Many health conditions, like heart disease and diabetes, are cumulative and progressive. Whatever you can do now to minimize your risk will help your health today and years from now.

Do it for quality of life, not just quantity.

Better to be well and strong enough to do what you love for all your days, rather than being restricted because of your health. Your actions now will help determine whether you’re able to dance with your grandchildren or have to watch from the sidelines.

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Sitting idle
Improved mobility.

What if you live to be 90? If you have to worry about whether you’ll fall or if you have limited mobility, you’re more likely to stay home and limit your options for activity. Regular exercise conditions your whole body and improves mobility as you age.

Lower cost of health care.

Who knows what the future will bring in the area of health care costs? It’s expensive to be sick. Eat and exercise to prevent lifestyle-related illnesses. It may prevent you from putting your financial health at risk in the future.

Ingrain good habits.

It’s hard to break bad habits. Think about those cigarette smokers who were killing themselves, but were so addicted to nicotine, they couldn’t quit. Take baby steps and keep it simple. Do what you can to live a healthy lifestyle by eating nutritious food and exercising regularly so you can keep those good habits going.


It’s amazing to see characters in old movies and TV shows smoking on airplanes, in elevators and hospitals. Will super huge sodas, extra large cinnamon rolls, and king size candy bars ever be an oddity?

That’s hard to imagine.

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Love More, Judge Less

If you judge people, you have no time to love them. Mother Teresa

At a busy intersection near my house, a young man held a sign asking for money. I didn’t have cash, but even if I had, I wouldn’t have given him any.

My judgement:

He looked young and healthy enough to get a job and earn money rather than begging for it.

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I hate to admit that because as much as I try not to judge people, I find myself doing it every day.

I try not to judge for a couple of reasons. First, I don’t want other people to judge me and second,  I’m not perfect, so who am I to judge?

From past experience I’ve learned that you can’t tell by looking at some one what he or she is about – their struggles, challenges, or difficulties. Assumptions often prove to be false.

On the other hand, I may be right about that young man on the corner, but so what?

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I’m no Mother Teresa, that’s for sure, but I agree with her: You can’t love people when you’re judging them.

You get what you give.

Want more love? Give more love. Mix it with compassion, understanding, and patience.

Give less judgment, intolerance, anger, and hate.

Phew!

I’m going to have to practice this. How about you?

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Why Oprah’s Message Matters More Than Her Weight Loss

January’s the time of year when you can’t get away from commercials for gyms, diet programs, and diet pills.

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You may have seen Oprah’s new commercial in which she gives us an itty-bitty glimpse of her life and shows off her 40 pound weight loss. If you haven’t, you can watch it here.

It’s hard to say what effect the new commercial will have on Weight Watchers’ sales, because that’s the real objective of this ad campaign.

Increased sales or not, congratulations to Oprah! She’s lost 40 pounds! That’s a great accomplishment. And yet, she doesn’t look thin, slender, or super fit.

What’s the selling point? Other than Oprah saying the product is great.

The underlying message here is to live well while losing weight without feeling deprived.

If you’ve watched Oprah for a while, you know that she’s struggled with her weight for years. Imagine having that kind of history and doing this program publicly.

It took courage for her to put herself out there and make herself vulnerable, even if she is getting paid for it. And even if she is Oprah.

No, she’s not skinny.

Has she reached her goal? Does she really cook her own food? (Really?!)

Is she okay with her current weight and ready to maintain it?

For anybody who’s ever lost weight and then gained it all back, you know that’s the hard part.

 

I heard this advice years ago and it’s changed my way of looking at losing weight and dieting: “Pick a weight loss plan you can live with to maintain a healthy weight, not just to lose weight.”

That’s the tricky part – maintaining a healthy weight.

The secret? Find what works for you and then make it a lifestyle.

For me, low-glycemic eating put an end to years of yo-yo dieting. Read more about yo-yo dieting and low-glycemic here.

Oprah’s message is about more than losing weight and being thin.

It’s really about making healthy-living a lifestyle.
Being happy and healthy.
And then getting on with the business of living your life.

Living a healthy lifestyle isn’t the easiest thing to do. But it’s do-able and well worth the effort.

Does seeing a celebrity endorsing a weight loss plan or product motivate you to try it? I’d love to hear your take. Feel free to post in the comments below.