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Success starts with desire

What determines whether you’ll reach your goals? Whether you’ll succeed or fail?

In his book, Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill says,

Desire is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything.

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In order to be successful, you need more than a hope or a wish. You need “a keen pulsating desire that transcends everything.”

Large and small goals

My friend and I were discussing how frustrating it can be to lose weight.

Here’s the short version of our conversation:

“I really want to lose 10 pounds, but it’s so hard,” I say as I take another handful of tortilla chips.

Do I really want to lose weight? Not as much as I hope or wish I would. My actions prove that I want the chips more than I want to lose 10 pounds.

How can you tell how much you want it?

It’s not what you say as much as what you do.

Let’s say, for example, I decide I want to run a half-marathon (13.1 miles), but I’ve never run further than a mile.Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

What are some things I might do if I were truly committed to my goal?

  • hire a coach
  • find a training program
  • stick to it
  • meet other runners
  • learn about long distance running

My day-to-day actions should reflect my “keen pulsating desire” to run a half-marathon.

I know. It sounds weird to say:

“I have a keen pulsating desire to run a half-marathon.”

Or “I have a keen pulsating desire to lose 10 pounds.”

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But that’s what it takes. That “keen pulsating desire” causes you to align your actions with your goals, to:

  • stay focused on your goal
  • erase excuses
  • stay positive
  • overcome obstacles
  • keep at it

 

When it comes to staying motivated and keeping at it when you feel like giving up:

May your will to accomplish your goals be greater than all obstacles. May your desire to achieve transcend all other things.

What’s Strength Training and Why Should I Be Doing It?

What’s Strength Training and Why Should I Be Doing It?

I’ve talked about 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.)

Today, I’m covering some basic information about Strength Training.

You’ve probably heard you should be doing some sort of strength resistance training.

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Many women dismiss the idea because of a pre-conceived notion that “strength training” means bulked up biceps and oversized thighs, and walking around saying (in a deep voice), “I pick things up and put them down!”

But that’s the stuff of comic books and make-believe. Women who “bulk up” put forth tremendous effort, specialized nutrition, and intense training to achieve those results.

Strength Training – What is it and what are the benefits and drawbacks

Strength Training is focused movement of weight.

Benefits of strength training are:

  • Strengthens bones
  • Strengthens muscles
  • Improves stability and balance
  • Especially good for women who lose muscle mass more rapidly than men and loss is accelerated with age
  • Versatile – Can be mixed with many different types of exercises

    Artwork by Mark Montalvo
    Barbell

In-house fitness expert, (my husband) Mark Montalvo, says this about strength training:

“Most women don’t want to do strength training because they don’t want to bulk up. Strength training does build muscle. However, women who build large amounts of muscle mass while lifting weights are usually doing other things to enhance their results.

Strength training is important because it helps reduce body fat and burn calories for longer than just doing cardio or any other type of exercise. It can significantly help in maintaining a healthy weight.

It also helps preserve and build bone mass, which is important as we age. For women in particular, building bone mass helps reduce the onset of osteoporosis.”

Drawbacks/RisksPhoto courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

  • Requires equipment
  • Must practice good form to reduce risk of injury
  • Some people find weight lifting hugely boring – lifting things up and putting them down isn’t very exciting
  • In order to ensure proper form and technique, you may need a coach or trainer

 

Most weight lifting will not accelerate the heart rate for prolonged periods of time (anaerobic) so in order to get full-body benefits, you need to incorporate some kind of cardio.

 

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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Exercise and Good Nutrition: Why You Need Both

The first time I trained for a half-marathon, I thought, “Okay, this is good.  I’ll be burning a ton of calories running all these miles and I’ll probably drop a few pounds. Awesome!”

And, yeah, I burned lots of calories, but I didn’t lose weight. Not at all.

The saying goes: You can’t outrun (or out-lift, out-train) a bad diet.

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That means, exercise alone isn’t enough.

If you really want results, you need both: regular exercise and good nutrition.

How can it possible that even when you’re burning a lot more calories you don’t lose weight?

One possibility is a phenomenon called “The Halo Effect”

The Halo Effect

In a nutshell, it’s when you think something or some one is so good it’s hard for you to be objective.photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

When it comes to fitness, the halo effect is:
I work out so I can eat whatever I want.

Sure, I can have dessert and a jumbo margarita! I just ran 10 miles.

 

I’m running a 5k tomorrow. I can have an extra serving.

The Halo Effect results in a person losing objectivity and allowing herself more high calorie indulgences or “rewards” because she worked out.

Thus the saying: You can’t outrun, out-lift, or out-train a bad diet.

In my experience, nutrition is way more critical in losing and maintaining a healthy weight than exercise, but it’s also the more challenging component.

And, it seems that the nutrition piece becomes even more important with age. You may be thinking, “I used to be able to eat whatever I want and never gain a pound.” [I’ve never said that, personally.]

So how do you do it? What’s the easiest way to get the best results from all your hours at the gym?

Here are a few tips on how to incorporate exercise and nutrition for the best results

Eat clean

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Simply put, eating clean means eating whole foods in their most natural form as possible. For example, if you have a choice between an apple, apple sauce, and an apple flavored, gluten-free fruit chew, the apple’s the best choice. Choose minimally processed food with no added sugar whenever possible.

Eat more vegetables

At every meal, have at least one serving of vegetables, and shoot for 2 – 3 servings each meal. Starchy vegetables like corn and potatoes don’t count. 

Drink water to stay hydrated

The standard recommendation is to drink half your body weight in ounces every day and even more than that if you’ve been sweating. Adequate hydration improves all bodily functions. Not drinking enough water can cause dehydration which can result in problems such as headaches, constipation, muscle cramps, and more.

Be aware of added sugar in beverages and choose accordingly

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Sports drinks, soda, fruit juice, adult beverages, and sweetened coffee drinks often have a ton of added sugar and a ton of extra calories.

Many restaurants now have calories per serving listed right on the menu and others have nutrition information on their website. It’s worth taking a look.

Read labels for ingredients and serving size

When you look for calories on the label, don’t forget to check the serving size.

For more information, read How to Read a Food Label

The most important thing is to find what works for you and then stick with it. For more recommendations and nutrition tips at How to Start Eating Healthy and Stick to It

Over the past few years of working out and finding what works best for me, I discovered that exercise has many benefits but losing weight isn’t one of them. Maybe that’s because of the Halo Effect. I don’t know for sure.

What I know for sure is that making good nutrition choices improves my overall feeling of health, wellness, and fitness. I make my share of bad choices and I’m not anywhere near perfect, but when I do these things most of the time:

  • Eat clean
  • Eat my veggies
  • Drink water
  • Avoid added sugar
  • Pay attention to food labels

I get better results. It’s most likely, you will too.

How about you? Do you agree with the statement: “You can’t outrun a bad diet”? What works best for you?

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

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:

Self-image run your own race published on strong-woman.com

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.

Picture downloaded from Pixabay and published on strong-woman.com

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.

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

Photo by Ruby Montalvo published on strong-woman.com

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.

Picture of a scale published on strong-woman.com

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.

journal posted on strong-woman.com

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.

Picture published on strong-woman.com

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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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.

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

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