Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Positive Affirmations Can Help You Achieve Your Goals


Affirmations are positive statements that are often used to combat negative self-perceptions or enhance focus on personal goals. Affirmations also tend to foster the expectation of success. Often, affirmations address a specific concern or fundamental self-talk theme. As an example, someone struggling with weight concerns may have frequent, albeit self-defeating thoughts such as, “I am never going to be able to lose/gain weight” or “My body is my enemy.”

Self-critical, pessimistic statements can make it more difficult to stick with goals, especially during the expectable minor setbacks most people experience on the road to success. In essence, habitual negative self-statements can erode self-confidence and become self-fulfilling prophecies of failure.


Affirmations can serve as an important tool for staying on track and staving off feelings of discouragement. To use the previous example, an affirmation to address anxiety or pessimism around weight concerns could be, “Each day, I am one step closer to achieving my healthiest weight.” If the negative self-talk is more generalized or self-critical, one might create an affirmation such as, “I partner with my body in keeping myself well.” An affirmation that is counter to negative feelings or beliefs related to exercise is, “It feels wonderful to eat well and move my body.”

Again, a productive affirmation is specifically related to a positive goal; the opposite of what the negative self-talk says; and helps one imagine a successful outcome.


Although affirmations are commonly phrased in the present tense (to foster a feeling of these statements already being true), affirming statements can also be combined with guided or self-directed imagery to focus on future success. This technique is actually used in hypnosis and self-hypnosis, and is referred to as “future progression.” Future progression imagery involves creating the multisensory experience of being in that moment when one has already achieved a future goal, even though the actual imagery is happening within oneself, in the present moment.


Although crafting affirmations can be straightforward, recent research has found affirmations effectively increase feelings of well-being and improve the likelihood of making good choices. As you’ve probably noticed, when under stress, most people are more vulnerable to self-doubt or feeling overwhelmed in general. Affirmations appear to work by reminding us of personal resources beyond what we notice when we are discouraged. Relatedly, affirmations seem to help us to reflect on our core values and draw upon the positive personal experiences we’ve had.


Several different brain regions are thought to be involved in the benefits seen related to engaging in affirmations. For example, in previous studies, the ventral striatum and the ventral medial prefrontal cortex have been linked to assigning a positive value to something (such as achieving a goal) and viewing it as a reward. Increased activity in the medial prefrontal cortex and posterior cingulate cortex have been linked to focusing on one’s personal strengths. In addition, self-affirmations may work in part by engaging the anterior cingulate cortex and the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex to regulate emotions (staving off negative emotions, or remaining more objective) when faced with difficult situations.


There are a number of easy, free-to-low-cost ways to use affirmations to help you make positive change. A quick internet search will reveal an abundance of audio programs featuring positive affirmations and imagery, but you can also make your own. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Set aside some quiet time to engage in this exercise.
  2. Write a list of some goals that you’d like to achieve. Make the list simple, specific, and concrete.
  3. Pick one goal to start. You are probably more likely to stick with a goal that is consistent with your personal values rather than one someone else sets for you.
  4. Note any negative thoughts you tend to have when you try to focus on your goal.
  5. For each negative statement, write a positive statement that is the opposite of the negative self-talk. Make the statements short and to the point.
  6. Even if the goal is for some time in the future, write the positive statements as if they are already true (e.g., “I enjoy moving my body and feeling healthy” or “Each day, I feel stronger, happier, and healthier.”).
  7. Recall a specific time in your life when each statement rang true for you. Remember, it’s not about recalling a time when things were perfect.
  8. For each affirmation, vividly envision the future goal as already being true. Imagine how your body feels, envision how your life or health will have changed, and how terrific it feels to have achieved something meaningful to you. Use as many of your senses as you can to engage in this imagery.
  9. Repeat each individual affirmation, silently or out loud. Breathe.
  10. Set aside a few minutes to meditate on your affirmations each day. You can even record yourself saying each positive statement, and play this back to yourself.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Benefits Of Muscular Endurance


What is muscular endurance? Muscular endurance is the ability to continue contracting a muscle, or group of muscles, against resistance, such as weights or body weight, over a period of time.

Increasing the performance of these muscles means they can continue to contract and work against these forces.

Greater muscular endurance allows a person to complete more repetitions of an exercise, for example, pushups or squats.

Benefits of muscular endurance training

According to the American Council of Exercise (ACE), the benefits of muscle endurance include:

  • helping maintain good posture and stability for longer periods
  • improving the aerobic capacity of muscles
  • improving the ability to carry out daily functional activities, such as lifting heavy items
  • increasing athletic performance in endurance-based sports

How to measure muscular endurance

Muscular endurance tests measure how many repetitions of a movement people can do before the muscles reach a state of fatigue and cannot continue the exercise.

Many tests focus on measuring upper and lower body muscle endurance by measuring how many pushups, squats, or situps people can achieve.

A person can work with fitness instructors to measure muscular endurance or record how many repetitions of a particular exercise they can perform before reaching the fatigue state.

How to improve endurance

To increase muscular endurance, ACE recommend a combination of lower and upper body exercises, with strengthening exercises to target the whole body.

Moderate resistance training, with short intervals in between for rest, creates short bursts of tension to build strength.

Circuit or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can be a suitable way to combine cardio and strength training into one workout.

Unless a person’s fitness goals involve training for a particular endurance-based sport, training for muscular endurance alone may not be the most appropriate strategy.

The best exercise programs mix strength and muscular endurance training.

Some evidence also suggests that exercise programs that people find enjoyable may be more likely to generate long-term benefits, as they may be more likely to stick with them.

Training for muscular endurance

When training to improve muscular endurance, what matters most is not the type of exercise, but how people design their workout.

People should take into consideration the following when tailoring a workout to boost muscular endurance:

  • the number of reps
  • the weight or resistant force on the muscles
  • the number of sets
  • length or rest periods

According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, individuals training for muscular endurance should aim to complete three or more sets of 15 or more exercise reps with a load that is 50% or less of their one rep max (RM).

A person’s one rep max is the maximum load with which a person can complete one repetition of an exercise.

For example, a person may wish to use the leg press machine at the gym to build endurance in the legs.

If they have an RM of 300 pounds (lbs), they should aim to perform 2–4 sets of 15 or more reps with a load of 150lbs or less, with brief rest periods between sets.

As their muscular endurance for this exercise increases, they may wish to make the exercise more challenging by reducing rest times between sets, or increasing the reps per set, rather than increasing the load weight.

A person can apply the same principle of high rep and set volume, low–moderate load, and short rest periods to any exercise,  such as bench presses, dumbbell curls, pushups, or squats.

People can choose exercises that suit their preferences and are challenging yet enjoyable enough to sustain training.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Promoting A Healthy Spring


Start a New Exercise Routine

The mornings are warming up, the spring means the sun rises earlier each day.  So take good advantage of this change.  Get out and exercise before starting your day, whether it is going for a run or walking the dog.  Exercising before work can begin your day on a high note with clarity and energy. The American Heart Association recommends that individuals do moderate exercise for at least 150 minutes per week, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise.

Revamp Your Diet with Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Take advantage of the variety of vegetables available during spring. A healthy diet includes adding vegetables and fruit every day. Vegetables like broccoli, green beans, leafy greens, zucchini, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, and tomatoes are low in calories and high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Try to eat about 3 to 5 servings every day. Fruit is also a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. You should try to eat about 2 to 3 servings of fruit each day. It goes without being said that it is OK to indulge in the occasional ice cream cone. Although, frozen yogurt would be a healthier alternative.

Drink More Water

As the heat kicks into high gear it is harder to stay hydrated and more important to drink more water. Drink plenty of water before going outside and have plenty on-hand to stay hydrated. If you aren’t a fan of water, try one of our recipes for Cucumber Water—it makes a great party beverage for those hot days!

Cut Out the Night Cap

If one of your habits is having a drink before bed, or having a few at dinner, you may want to reconsider your next glass of merlot. Alcohol not only causes dehydration, but is also associated with sleep disorders, high blood pressure and certain types of cancer. It is recommended that women limit themselves to one drink per day, and men up to two alcoholic beverages each day.

Check In for a Check Up

You may have chalked up some symptoms and illnesses to the winter blues, but now that it is spring, its time to get back to the doctor for a head-to-toe check up! A periodic well-exam for all ages is not just about good medical care, but it also gives you the opportunity to learn more about beneficial health habits, counseling and community support services as well as an overall view of the best ways to take care of yourself and your family for a lifetime. Your doctor will let you know how often they need to test for high blood pressure, diabetes, other diseases, and cancer screenings.

Protect Your Skin

It is going to get hot, the sun is shining, and your skin needs protection. Not only do men and women need to regularly moisturize their skin, but also protect it from the harsh rays of the sun. If you’re outside, make sure to use a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher that protects against UVA and UVB rays. It doesn’t hurt to throw on a pair of sunglasses and hat as well!

Renew Relationships

It’s time to get out of the house and visit with your friends and family. Research has shown that good, strong relationships benefit your overall health and happiness. Spend the day with people you love, and schedule regular outings to enjoy the great spring weather.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Being Happy Makes You Healthier


6 Proven Health Benefits of Happiness

1. Improved Heart Health

Studies have linked happiness with improved heart health and lower risk of heart disease by 13-26% 

2. Ability to Combat Stress More Effectively

Excess stress causes higher levels of cortisol – the stress hormone – which can lead to a number of health conditions. Individuals who are happier have consistently lower cortisol levels in their blood.

3. A Stronger Immune System

Some research has indicated that being happier can support a strong immune system, leading to greater health all round, and the ability to fight infections or disease more effectively.

4. Overall Healthier Lifestyle

Happiness has also been linked to several positive and highly beneficial health habits, that promote a greater sense of wellbeing. This includes eating a healthier diet, engaging in more physical activity, and overcome poor sleeping habits. 

5. Can Help Reduce Pain

Individuals who are happier, have a better perspective and are able to accept new thoughts easily, which can lead to a lower experience of pain especially connected to chronic conditions.

6. Increased Life Longevity

One of the most interesting finds from the research for health benefits of happiness is its connection with life longevity. Researchers believe that because of the impact happiness has on all of the above health benefits, it can ultimately help you live a longer life.

The Benefits of Happiness at Work

Until relatively recently, work and happiness weren’t really connected, but research is starting to show that there is a range of benefits for happy employees – for both the individual and the organization. Some of the benefits of happiness at work include:

1. Better Decision Making & Creative Problem Solving

Happiness at work has a range of benefits for how our brains work and think. When we’re happier, we tend not to focus on the negatives or stressors as much, allowing more room to think about how to positively get on with challenges.

2. Improved Individual and Team Productivity

In a study for the University of Warwick found that happier employees tended to be 12% more productive, whereas unhappy employees were up to 10% less productive.

3. Better Customer Service Satisfaction

Happier employees were more engaged, which resulted in improved customer relationships, and a 20% increase in sales. When we feel happy, we’re more likely to express ourselves positively and want to help those around us.

4. It Might Help You Earn More

A study found that feelings in life satisfaction were linked to higher salaries, however, this wasn’t consistent, and varied between genders. It’s also difficult to determine whether having a higher salary led to greater life satisfaction due to having fewer financial stressors.

5 Things You Can Do to Realize These Benefits in Your Life

Trying to feel happier in life might seem like a mammoth task to take on, but it doesn’t have to be. A few simple practices each day have been proven to help you realize and begin to reap the benefits of happiness:

1. Practice Gratitude

It’s easy to complain when things go wrong or you get stuck in the rut of thinking ‘why has this happened to me’ when you have a bad day, but practicing gratitude can help tackle that and improve feelings of happiness. Simply writing down three things you feel grateful for before bed can work wonders on your mindset.

2. Incorporate Some Movement

Exercise releases endorphins, which have a direct impact on our mood – in a good way! Adding in some aerobic exercise is proven to be effective in increasing feelings of happiness. This doesn’t have to be hitting the gym, it could be as simple as putting on your favorite music and dancing in the living room.

3. Get Back in Touch with Nature

Combine your aerobic exercise with nature and you’ll be onto something good. Spending time outdoors has been proven to aid our mood. A good walk or run in a local park or woods or some gardening can spark some wonderful benefits.

4. Practice Mindfulness

Incorporating mindfulness can help you create better awareness for your everyday feelings, and let go of negative experiences, allowing for more room to appreciate positive experiences and emotions.

5. Spend Time with Loved Ones

Socializing with friends and loved ones have many health benefits, including feelings of well-being and happiness. Making time for coffee with friends, or quality time with family members is a great way to realize the benefits of happiness.

A Take Home Message

Research shows that feeling happier is beneficial for our health, but not if forcing yourself to be happy or seek out happiness ends up causing you more stress. Take your time and enjoy the process of identifying areas of life where you could potentially let some more happiness in.