Photo by Ruby Montalvo published on strong-woman.com

Mindset Monday – Attitude is everything

Years ago I had a well-paying but unfulfilling job. Every day, every hour of every day was difficult. I felt like I belonged someplace else, doing something other than what I was doing. The daily grind and long hours made me feel I had very little control over my day to day experience.

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I wanted to leave that job. I wanted to quit. Check out. Explore other opportunities. There must be something better for me out there, but where?

The job wore me down. I felt desperate for change.

And then one day I realized I had a choice.

I asked myself Why do I continue when I feel so unhappy?

At the time, my kids were elementary school age. I was a single mother and I felt to my core that my most important job was to be their mother, that God had given me the responsibility to care for them. At that time in my life, that was my purpose.

The job helped provide: food on the table, a comfortable home, vacations, and clothes and shoes for them. It provided stability and continuity for us.

Photo published on strong-woman.com
My kids and me years ago.

The job wasn’t fulfilling or satisfying, but it afforded me what I needed. It was like a safety net when life felt a little shaky. Maybe I could’ve have found something better suited to my strengths, but I had two good reasons for staying.

Coming to this realization helped shift my attitude and the job became so much more bearable. I showed up every day knowing why I was there and it helped. A lot. I still had my struggles, of course, but at the end of the day, I was grateful for the luxury of choice.

Whenever I feel stuck, I remember that experience. What are my choices and why am I doing what I’m doing? What’s the underlying purpose of my actions?

Do you feel stuck sometimes? Is what you’re doing driving you crazy with frustration?

Here’s what I learned:

1. It’s a choice.

You may feel like you don’t have a choice because the choices don’t seem very good. In that case, make the best choice available at that time. And keep moving forward.

Crossroads photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com

2. Be grateful for every day.

Just a little bit of gratitude spills over into all things. In my case, it calmed me down and helped me be a better mom and a happier person.

3. Take a big-picture view.

Your options may not be great. You may have to make the best choice depending on your long-term goals or immediate necessities. Take a step back and get perspective on the big picture.

The only thing that changed was my attitude.Courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com

These 3 things – knowing I had a choice, being grateful, and taking a big picture view – helped me change my attitude and my outlook even though my circumstances were the same.

Same job, same schedule, same juggling of work, kids, and home – everything.

When I realized I had good reasons for choosing to show up to the job every day, my whole disposition changed. I was happier, more calm and relaxed, more grateful.

Sometimes you have to make the best “bad” (not-ideal) choice. That’s life. That’s the human experience. And you don’t know where your choices will lead or what awaits you on your path.

Choose love and it’s easier to keep a positive attitude. And attitude is everything.

Photo from Flickr.com the commons project published on strong-woman.com

See the Beauty of Failure

Failure Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com published on strong-woman.comcan feel awful.

So awful that it’s easy to be paralyzed by fear of failure, so that any new venture, undertaking, or adventure is off limits unless it’s almost 100% safe.

What would life be like if we could the see beauty in failure instead of the terror of it? How can we do that?

How can failure be a beautiful thing?

We learn in Biology 101 that one of the signs of life is growth, and one of the signs of growth is change. If you’re not changing, you’re now growing.Photo from Flickr.com the commons project published on strong-woman.com

Failure means you’ve tried learning or doing something new and different, even if success is not guaranteed.

But it’s scary! I don’t want to fail!

Thomas Edison once said, “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

In the movie Edison, The Man, there’s a pivotal scene in the story. Edison is close to giving up on his pursuit of creating the electric light bulb. He’s discouraged and worn out from years of finding “ways that won’t work”. He’s tired of fighting all the forces against him. Then something happens to set him back on course.

He has a dream that reminds him of why he started and wakes up renewed and determined to continue, no matter what.

Failure’s a great teacher.Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

It takes time and effort to figure things out. If we take Thomas Edison’s approach, discovering a way that won’t work is still a discovery. There’s no failure. What you’ve tried hasn’t worked? Try something else. Tweak a little here and there. Make adjustments. 

What could we do if we were more like Edison and not give up when what we’ve tried doesn’t work?

It’s a pretty big question.

What would the world be like if we were taught to look at failure as a beautiful thing instead of a source of shame?

The founder of Spanx, Sara Blakely, says dinner conversations with her father centered around failure. He wanted to know what she had tried and failed.

In an interview with CNBC last year, she talked about how those conversations helped her:  The gift he was giving me is that failure is (when you are) not trying versus the outcome. It’s really allowed me to be much freer in trying things and spreading my wings in life.”

She had her share of ways that didn’t work and people telling her no. She kept at it. Spanx made her the first woman self-made billionaire ever.

The beauty of failurePhoto from Flickr.com the commons project published on strong-woman.com

Failure means you’re trying – you have a dream, a desire. It means you’re working toward a goal.

When you look at it that way, failure’s a beautiful thing.

What will you fail at today?

The one thing that can change everything

The one thing that can change everything

Gratitude. It’s a simple concept.

It’s that feeling that what you have is good, that you may not have everything you want, you have a lot. And what you have is enough for you to be okay, maybe even happy, right now.

Gratitude is a game changer, but it can be hard to think about being grateful for what you have when things aren’t going your way.

It’s all in how you look at things.

When you’re tempted to focus on what you don’t have, shift your focus to what you do have. And instead of looking at what’s going wrong, look at what going right.

Rather than getting discouraged about what you haven’t accomplished, consider how far you’ve come. Focus on what you can do instead of what you can’t do 

If you find yourself thinking, “I wish I had…”, say “I’m grateful that I have…”

Better yet, count you blessings. Literally, count on your fingers the people and things you’re grateful for. 

Gratitude opens your heart

Expressing gratitude opens your heart to the goodness life offers, and an open heart makes way for more blessings.

Do you have what you need?

What are the bare necessities of life? Not much. Air, food, shelter.

And yet what do you have beyond that?

Consider the people and things you use, interact with, work for, and would miss like crazy if they weren’t there.

A shot of empowerment

Having a grateful heart doesn’t mean you have to settle for a crappy situation. That’s not what this is about. 

Instead, let gratitude act like a shot of empowerment that boosts you to love yourself and those around you more. 

Every day’s a good day to feel grateful. You just can’t overdo it.

Related post: Focus on what you can do instead of what you can’t do

Photo by Ruby Montalvo published on strong-woman.com

Your resolution to succeed is the most important thing


President’s Day Mindset Monday:

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.

~ Abraham Lincoln

This quote is from a letter Abraham Lincoln wrote to a friend who was discouraged by a setback he experienced while pursuing his law degree.

Lincoln encouraged his friend to continue studying, to not be deterred. His message: If you really want it, let nothing stop you.

Medal photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com

Abraham Lincoln knew about getting past setbacks. He faced tremendous struggles in his life – poverty, family tragedy, little formal education, and failed business and political ventures.

He could have given up his pursuit of higher education and political office. Certainly no one would have faulted him for quitting. He suffered devastating personal losses and challenges.

And then, he was elected president at one of the most tumultuous times in American History.

Slow and steady is okay

No matter what, don’t give up. Resolve to keep moving toward your goal, no matter what.Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Make your resolution strong. Focus on what you really want.

Whatever your definition of success, resolve to see it through.

Of course, it can be discouraging when one thing after another knocks you down. And sometimes, it may feel like it’s just too much to take.

No doubt, you’ll face setbacks, but don’t stop. Keep at it and figure it out.

Your resolve, your commitment to your goal, is bigger than any setback or circumstance. That “resolution to succeed” will keep you going when it’s tempting to quit. You’ll continue to inch forward, despite obstacles.

Keep at it and you’ll get there.

For information about all things Abraham Lincoln, visit AbrahamLincolnOnline.org.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

What is Balance Training and Should I Be Doing It?


Today, we continue the series on the benefits of exercise (you can click here to read that post in case you missed it) and specific types of exercises. (Read about Cardio Workouts here and Strength Training here.)

The importance of exercisePhoto courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

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.”

What’s balance training?

It focuses on improving and/or maintaining stability (not falling over). Stable movement improve overall mobility.

Some types of training that emphasize balance are:

Yoga

Pilates

Various core and agility exercises

Some martial arts practices, such as Tai-chi

BenefitsPicture downloaded from Pixabay for strong-woman.com

  • Strengthens core muscles
  • Improves stability and mobility
  • Requires little to no equipment
  • Multiple variations of simple movements
  • Helpful to people at all fitness levels

In-house fitness expert, Mark Montalvo, says this:

“As we age, balance usually decreases resulting in falling or injury…this is why balance training is so important. It develops proprioception, which simply means how we move our bodies through space and time.

He says effective balance training should be performed in multiple directions of movement, in an unstable environment. It can be as simple as walking on a straight line or standing on one leg.Weight loss photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com

Complicate that by standing on one leg while throwing or catching a ball.

Drawbacks/Risks

  • Must practice good form to reduce risk of injury
  • Progress is hard to measure

So, everyone can benefit from balance training, no matter the level of fitness. Being able to stay upright and stable will go a long way to keeping you healthy and well.

Remember to check with your health care professional before starting an exercise program. This is especially important if you’re under doctor’s care for a health condition.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Why has the FDA Banned Antibacterial Soap?


If a little is good, then more is better, right?

In a case where more is not always better, the Food and Drug Administration recommend conventional soap and water over antibacterial soaps.

In September 2016, the FDA ruled that some anti bacterial agents in soaps, hand gels, bar soaps, body washes, and other products will not longer be able to be marketed, so is banning “certain active ingredients”, such as triclosan (liquid soaps) and triclocarban (bar soaps).Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Manufacturers will have one year to comply with the ban.

But wait! Isn’t killing bacteria a good thing?

Why would the FDA ban antibacterial soap?

According to the FDA Consumer Updates,

The FDA has been looking at for years. The issue?  Ingredients found in anti-bacterial products could be a factor in creating “bacterial resistance and hormonal effects”.

They gave manufacturers time to provide data on the safety and effectiveness of ingredients, which the manufacturers failed to do.

“Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). “In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term.”

What kind of harm?

Smithsonian.com’s article, Five Reasons Why You Should Probably Stop Using Antibacterial Soap lists potentially harmful effects as:

  1. Antibacterial soaps are no more effective than conventional soap and water
  2. Contributing to antibiotic resistant bacteria, such as MRSA
  3. Potential to disrupt the body’s hormone regulation
  4. Could contribute to other health problems, such as allergies
  5. Bad for the environment

The current ruling applies only to soaps and not to hand-sanitizers at this time.Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

According to FDA:

This final rule applies to consumer antiseptic wash products containing one or more of 19 specific active ingredients, including the most commonly used ingredients – triclosan and triclocarban. …  This rule does not affect consumer hand “sanitizers” or wipes, or antibacterial products used in health care settings.

States may begin taking action to limit anti-bacterial products as well.

In 2014, cbsnews.com published an article, Minnesota becoming first state to ban common germ-killer triclosan in soap, reporting the first state ban. Minnesota became the first state to ban triclosan, which is also used in some toothpastes, cosmetics, and body washes. The ban took effect January 1, 2017.

What’s the best thing to keep you and your family safe?

According to and FDA press announcement:

Washing with plain soap and running water remains one of the most important steps consumers can take to avoid getting sick and to prevent spreading germs to others. If soap and water are not available and a consumer uses hand sanitizer instead, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that it be an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

As always, read labels to make the best choice for keeping you healthy, well, and strong.

Pic of strength training published on strong-woman.com

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.

Pic of strength training published on strong-woman.com

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.

Choose a variety of vegetables and flavors picture published on strong-woman.com

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:

Drink choices are as important as food choices published on strong-woman.com

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.

Make water your drink of choice.photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com

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.

food label published on strong-woman.com

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.

Weight loss photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com

(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.

Weight loss photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com

 

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.

Choose a variety of vegetables and flavors picture published on strong-woman.com

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.

photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com

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.

photo courtesy of Pixabay published on strong-woman.com

Did you gain weight over the holidays? You’re not alone.


If you gained weight over the holidays, you’re not alone. Studies show that most people tend to gain at least a couple of pounds.

Actually, I’ve been a little lax since Thanksgiving, and when Christmas rolled around I showed no restraint.

Photo by Ruby Montalvo published on strong-woman.com
Holiday indulgence.

I ate what I wanted for 2 weeks over the holidays and here’s what I learned.
  • 5 pounds makes a difference. I can feel it. If it makes a difference when I gain it, it’ll make a difference when I lose it.
  • I’m an “all or nothing” kind of person. I have a hard time with just a little bit. Does that say something negative about my character? Maybe. All I know is that once I start, it’s really hard for me to stop.

(My husband’s an “everything in moderation” kind of person. He can be eating something delicious and just say, “I’m done.” And stop eating. It’s fascinating.)

  • Sugar is a problem for me. The more I have, the more I want. I guess that’s true for most people.

Sugar photo courtesy of Pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Time to put on the brakes

I want to get back to eating nutritious food and lose the weight I gained because I don’t feel my best carrying this extra 5 – 6 …okay 7 pounds.

And the other thing is, this is how it starts for me. If I don’t put the brakes on now, it’s only a matter of time before I’ll have gained a lot more. I don’t want that. (Read more about my yo-yo weight here.)

My plan of action to lose this holiday weight:

  • Keep a food journal. This really helps. And now there are mobile apps that I find a lot more convenient than keeping a notebook. I use MyFitnessPal, but if you’d like to find out about others, read The Best Nutrition Apps of 2016 for a comparison.
  • Minimize sugar and processed carbs, like crackers and tortilla chips (one of my weaknesses).
  • Eat more vegetables, preferably raw. They’re rich in nutrients and fiber.
  • Eat breakfast. Sometimes I get busy and before I know it, it’s time for lunch, but by then I’m really hungry. I do much better when I eat breakfast.
  • Drink water throughout the day and especially before meals.
  • Avoid getting over-hungry by eating small meals and snacks throughout the day and make some of those raw vegetables, like carrots, grape tomatoes, or cut up vegetables.
  • Re-visit my “why”. Clarifying the bare bones motivation for me to lose the weight I’ve gained and get back on track is really important. I’m a rationalization queen. I can reason away 7 pounds in my sleep and be quite alright with it in the morning. But the truth is, I don’t feel my best and that’s reason enough for me to get clear on my “why”. 

    Older couple romantic published on strong-woman.com

My goal is to age well, to be strong and fit well into my 70s and 80s, if I’m fortunate to live that long. I wish to travel lightly though life, not only by having a heart of gratitude and forgiveness, but by living and acting as if I eat to live, not live to eat.

I want food to help sustain my health, not bring me down. 

Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight isn’t easy for most of people. It’s like life. There’ll be ups and downs. Time to re-focus and re-commit.

And truly, in the big picture, with all that’s going on in the world, it doesn’t matter how much I weigh. Except that, I have work to do and I’m better able to do it when I feel my best: healthy, strong, and happy.

How did you do over the holidays? Did you gain a couple or a few pounds? Maybe you lost weight. I’d love to hear your take. Please post in the comments below.