Thursday, June 27, 2019

How To Embrace Chaos For A Happier Life

We live in chaotic times. Our days and weeks are taken up by fast paced modern living, mad rushing to get a lot done each day, crazy amounts of information and messages vying for our attention, and more and more stuff going on around the world. Plus, uncertainty about so many aspects of life; who knows what next week will be like? Life is chaotic, inherently so. The very nature of life is quite chaotic and we often use a lot of energy attempting to create some order of it.

The pain and positivity of Chaos:
Chaos is new, unexpected and sometimes even undesired and distressing. It can often have a darkness to it. But embracing chaos as a positive in our lives is a wonderful way to deal with the unknowns and the possibilities of how things might be; it’s where and how we learn, explore and find meaning. When we attempt to tame the innate chaos in life and control all that cannot be controlled, it can cause us to feel depressed, anxious or sad.

Most of us experience times when the chaos feels like it is too much for us – when we feel overwhelmed and swamped, where life is out of control and where we fantasize of a simpler way of being, that takes less out of us.

The impossible promise:
What’s wrong with chaos anyway? Chaos is one of nature’s greatest forces, and it has brought forth much more wonder and joy than we realize and typically tend to imagine. It is probably unrealistic to think or hope to control chaos. Today, let’s focus on why we should and how we can embrace chaos. How we should let it wash over us from time to time, and focus more on the things we can control.

By accepting and embracing chaos as our friend or guide, we manage to organize a work life that is conducive to both performance and happiness.

Most of the time we’re multitasking. That’s just what it takes to live modern lives like ours. But that doesn’t mean it is ultimate chaos, it is just how our minds work. That is how we work. We do multitask, but when we focus on one specific task, it is with the greatest of our attention. We get in the zone. By accepting and embracing chaos as our friend or guide, we can manage to organize our life that is conducive to both performance and happiness.

How to Embrace Chaos in Life? 
Here are some ways…. Only Attempt to Control “the Controllable”
DO not try to control the uncontrollable! We can plan for the future, but most of the variables that can change our plans in the future are unpredictable, so focus instead on what you can control.  Most of us want to feel like we are in control of things, but when it comes to people and situations beyond our control we have to let go.  Stuff happens.

Most of the thoughts stored in our brain are not totally true, outright false or not applicable. If you have set up, ahead of time, criteria to judge a thought, you have the ability to discern, distinguish and judge a thought. Once you realize that imagined fears are baseless (which is the 1st test), then you understand there is no immediate need for action on your part, and you can choose to consider the thought further and select it or deselect it.

Counter Negative Thoughts:
Since many of the thoughts stored in our brain are skewed, we need to create a health-producing filter to accept or reject each thought. If you have already prejudged the criteria for assessing a thought, by expecting a positive outcome, you then have the ability to discern, distinguish and judge a thought from a perspective of hope.
Find out whether it is your own thought, or someone else’s. Also, decide whether it is for your own good to follow. This will lead to more control over your thinking process. 

Be Present:
Be present. Be mindful. See the flowers in your neighbor’s garden, hear the birds in the early morning, feel the warmth of the sun on you while you are driving. Stop being in another place in your mind all the time. Stop cluttering your brain with what happened yesterday and the discussion you are going to have with your partner because of his/her misbehavior, and what you are going to cook for supper.
Be present – really BE where you are, stop being somewhere else in your mind.

So often we can’t name the emotion we are feeling. We just know that we are not comfortable with what we feel. And we dwell in that feeling of discomfort – whether it is sadness, jealousy, anger, fear. It is just easier to really settle into the comfort of your discontent.

Attempt to be your own observer and explore your emotions. What emotion am I feeling? What triggered this emotion? Why?

Thinking about your thinking. How can I change this? What can I do differently next time? How can I handle this situation NOW? Responsibility really means “the ability to respond”, to make an active choice. You can make an active choice in terms of how you interpret things and how you act on them.  Research on the brain also reveals a direct link between patience and a vivid imagination. When we can counter an initial impulse, it leads to better decision making at a later time.

David Rock in his book, “Your Brain at Work” refers to this process as “reappraisal”. How to interpret what things mean to you differently. If you can shift your interpretation, your emotional response will shift too.

Do this 3-step exercise:
Step 1: Awareness. Think of an example last week you responded in a “less favorable” way; in other words, you had a strong emotional reaction to this situation. For example, when you were stuck in traffic for hours, someone said something very negative about you, or perhaps a business meeting that was canceled on short notice. Think of such an example now.

Step 2: Label it; give this emotion a name.

Step 3: See if there is maybe another way of thinking about what happened to you. Try to reinterpret, normalize, reorder, or to reposition.
Next time you become aware of the fact that you are experiencing discomfort in terms of your emotions, apply these 3 steps. It will create a greater awareness of your emotions and your reactions.

Be brave enough to explore alternative ways of thinking and be bold enough to embrace whatever insights come your way.

“In the space between chaos and shape, there was another chance.” – Jeanette Winterson.

When there is a sense of chaos, raise your arms in the air and embrace it, let it happen, resistance is futile. Embrace the chaos.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Why You Should Strengthen Your Core Muscles

Core exercises improve your balance and stability
Core exercises train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen to work in harmony. This leads to better balance and stability, whether on the playing field or in daily activities. In fact, most sports and other physical activities depend on stable core muscles.

Core exercises don't require specialized equipment or a gym membership
Any exercise that involves the use of your abdominal and back muscles in coordinated fashion counts as a core exercise. For example, using free weights in a manner that involves maintaining a stable trunk can train and strengthen several of your muscles, including your core muscles.

You may also try several specific core exercises to stabilize and strengthen your core. Some examples of core exercises include planks, situps and fitness ball exercises. A bridge is another example of a classic core exercise. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Keep your back in a neutral position, not arched and not pressed into the floor. Avoid tilting your hips. Tighten your abdominal muscles. Raise your hips off the floor until your hips are aligned with your knees and shoulders. Hold the position for as long as you can without breaking your form.

Core exercises can help tone your abs
Want more-defined abdominal muscles? Core exercises are important. Although it takes aerobic activity to burn abdominal fat, core exercises can strengthen and tone the underlying muscles.

Strong core muscles make it easier to do most physical activities
Strong core muscles make it easier to do many activities, such as swing a golf club, get a glass from the top shelf and bend down to tie your shoes. Strong core muscles are also important for athletes, such as runners, as weak core muscles can lead to more fatigue, less endurance and injuries.

Weak core muscles can also leave you susceptible to poor posture, lower back pain and muscle injuries. Strengthening core muscles may also help improve back pain.

Core exercises can help you reach your fitness goals
Aerobic exercise and muscular fitness are the primary elements of most fitness programs. But to have a well-rounded fitness program, consider including core exercises in the mix as well.
Whether you're a novice taking the first steps toward fitness or a committed fitness fanatic hoping to optimize your results, a well-rounded fitness program is the best way to reach your fitness goals.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Tea Has Amazing Benefits

At the very least, it’s a flavorful way of getting enough fluid into your body each day. On top of that, studies have shown teas can help protect your teeth and your heart, as well as possibly even helping to stave off cancer.

Which type of tea you drink can make a difference. All non-herbal teas are made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. The amount of time the leaves are processed determines whether you end up with a green, black or oolong tea.

The green teas are the least processed and tend to have the highest amounts of polyphenols, and the only type that contain the polyphenol, catechin, which is why many studies have been done using only green teas. Certain herbal teas are known for their medicinal values, including soothing the digestive system.

Here are health benefits of tea and some options for delicious teas to try:

Tea contains antioxidants. 
Antioxidants work to prevent the body’s version of rust and thus help to keep us young and protect us from damage from pollution. Load up on antioxidants with a white tea, which is less processed than black or green tea so it retains more beneficial antioxidants.

Tea has less caffeine than coffee. 
Herbal blends have no caffeine, while traditional teas have less than 50 percent of what typically is found in coffee. That means you can consume it without those pesky effects on your nervous system. If you're trying to switch from coffee to tea, try a chicory root tea which has a mouth feel and flavor similar to coffee. Chicory root is also known to help reduce stress and is a prebiotic so may be helpful to your gut. Bonus: this tea will give you a kick of energy without the caffeine.

Tea may reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.
There’s a lot of literature out there on tea and heart health. This is a health effect for which there is the strongest evidence. In fact, a study published earlier this year that combined data from a host of earlier reports found a nearly 20 percent reduction in the risk of heart attack and a 35 percent reduced risk of stroke among those who drank one to three cups of green tea a day. Those who drank four or more cups of green tea daily had a 32 percent reduction in the risk of having a heart attack and lower levels of LDL cholesterol. Four cups of green tea may keep you running to the bathroom, but you can get the same benefit from drinking one cup of matcha tea, which is made from ground green tea leaves and is said to be the nutritional equivalent of 10 cups of regular green tea.

Tea may help protect your bones.
Data from recent animal studies has shown that green tea may prevent bone loss. Moringa, a plant that's native to South Asia, has been known for its medicinal properties and is now quickly becoming a mainstream superfood. With more calcium than milk, as well as iron, vitamin A and K, moringa tea is a great addition to help keep those bones strong.

Tea may help you smile bright.
Japanese researchers have found that tea can decrease tooth loss. It changes the pH in your mouth when you drink it and that may be what prevents cavities. Beyond that, tea, unlike many other beverages does not appear to erode tooth enamel.

Tea may boost the immune system.
Studies have shown tea can tune up immune cells so they reach their targets quicker. Holy basil or tulsi tea has been used by Ayurvedic practitioners for centuries to help keep the immune system strong after injuries or illnesses thanks to its antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties.

Herbal tea may smooth the digestive system.
Herbal teas, in particular chamomile, can be good for people with irritable bowel syndrome because it is an antispasmodic. And ginger teas can calm nausea. Get a dose of both with a ginger chamomile tea.

Tea -unadulterated, that is- is calorie free. 
It’s a great no-calorie alternative to water.  It provides so many options for flavor and versatility. You can have it hot or cold. And you don’t have to put anything in it, though you might want to add a cinnamon stick or some ginger. That means you’re able to hydrate with something other than water alone.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Stay Motivated and Reach Your Fitness Goals

Set Realistic Goals and Expectations
Planning to lose 20 pounds in one month? Unless you're a contestant on The Biggest Loser, it's unlikely you're going to do that. Unrealistic goals actually set you up for failure; you won’t stay motivated to continue when it doesn’t work out.

If you read about a diet or exercise plan promising super-speedy results, remind yourself of the adage we’ve all heard a million times: “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is!” Weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint and lasting results take time and effort, so get real!

Keep a Photo Diary of Your Successes
Having a collection of progress photos is an awesome way to keep your spirits high! One study even shows how a photo diary can keep dieters motivated, making them more likely to reach their target weight.

It makes sense. When you look at your body in the mirror every day, it's hard to see a difference. But having photographic proof of what you looked like before and after (and during) your weight-loss journey will show you how far you’ve come. For even more motivation, post your photos on social media to share with supportive friends.

Enjoy What You Do for Exercise
If you hate running on the treadmill, chances are, you won’t do it. It’s hard to stay motivated if an activity feels like torture! But there's good news: Exercise comes in so many forms; you just need to find something you love!

Like to dance? Check out Zumba classes or online videos. Eager to squeeze in some quality friend time? Enlist your buds for daily walk and talks. Not sure where to start? Grab a class schedule from the local gym and see if any of the options pique your interest. Sometimes an inspiring instructor is a motivation you need to get your butt to class! Find a workout that you truly look forward to, and motivation won't be a problem.

Get a Full Night’s Rest
This might seem like an unlikely tip for motivation, but it works. Why? When we're tired, our ability to think straight falters and our emotions take over. And who hasn’t reached for a pint of ice cream when feeling yucky? Seriously, sleep could be the sup rising reason you aren't losing weight! 

Buddy Up!
Finding a partner in your weight-loss efforts will make a huge difference in your success. Having someone to hold you accountable is extremely motivating. You’re less likely to skip that workout if you know your friend is counting on you, right?

And even if you don’t have someone to lose with, you can find support from all over the world, courtesy of social media. There are so many inspirational weight-loss groups on Facebook that you can join. Get involved!

Finding a partner in your weight-loss efforts will make a huge difference in your success. Having someone to hold you accountable is extremely motivating. You’re less likely to skip that workout if you know your friend is counting on you, right?

And even if you don’t have someone to lose with, you can find support from all over the world, courtesy of social media. There are so many inspirational weight-loss groups on Facebook that you can join. Get involved!

Reward Yourself
Who isn’t motivated to succeed by the promise of reward? Choose something that correlates to your weight-loss success. Drop a pants size? Buy yourself a new pair of jeans! Are muscles sore because you’ve been working out hard? Sounds like you’ve earned yourself a massage. There are even apps and group challenges that promise financial rewards for weight-loss success... Put your money where your mouth is!

Don’t Live or Die by the Scale
Yes, the scale is the most tangible way to monitor weight loss, however, we put too much weight (pun intended) into the numbers. Many factors affect your weight, like how much water you’ve had to drink that day and how much sodium you consumed the day before.

If you weigh yourself daily you may lose motivation. I recommend picking the same time once a week to weigh yourself. Wear similar clothing when you weigh in. And to really grasp your progress, use other things, like the fit of your jeans and those photos I mentioned!

Don’t Be a Perfectionist
Get rid of that all-or-nothing attitude. It's awful for motivation. When goals become un-achievably rigid, we give up. One inevitable slip-up, and you'll want to throw in the towel.

Don’t be that way. Be kind to yourself. You're only human, after all! Setbacks are normal. You don’t have to give up all your favorite foods when dieting; that's a total weigh-loss myth.   Remember that, and weight loss will get easier.