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Change your attitude, improve your life : By Melinda Sacks
ayoffs, wars and flu worries. There is no escaping bad news, whether it is headlined in newspapers and on TV, or heard during casual conversation in grocery lines.
a raise or a new relationship. Then decide to “deeply connect” with everyone and “step over no one.” Try reaching out to people, looking for a way to contribute by offering new resources — from a helpful Web site to a job contact. Over time deep connections will pay off. “These techniques are not going to pay the mortgage,” Ferry admits, “but they will put you in a more resourceful state to find the answers you need and change your outlook.”
Remaining optimistic and upbeat during such tough times can be daunting, even for the perpetually cheerful. But take heart. There are plenty of ways to feel better even as you work to improve your life and the lives of others. These three experts offer tips for thriving in the midst of a downturn.
Dr. Beverly Conrad, psychologist
Matthew Ferry, life coach and executive coach This Newport Beach,Calif. -based life coach, CEO and founder of Matthew Ferry International works with people trying to “turn their lives around.” Realize your mind’s job is to keep you safe, not happy: The brain is drawn to negative thinking, or expecting the worst, to protect us from danger. That means a lot of unnecessary negative thinking that is destructive rather than protective. Make a good list: Make a list of 10 good things in your life. It can be as simple as “I have a car’’ or “My family is together.” Go for the goals: Make a list of 10 short- and long-term goals. Include things you’d like to change or see happen. At bedtime mentally review both lists: We take so many things for granted that just noticing the good can put you in a better mindset. “You will wake up in a more positive state and that helps you build positive momentum.” Play the “contribution game”: Create an intention of something you wish for — say a new job,
As a cognitive psychologist practicing in Burlingame, Calif., Conrad explores her patients’ beliefs and their impact. If thinking patterns are causing distress, she works on helping different feelings emerge. Face your fears: Fear can consume you if you are continually fighting it, but there are tools to help handle ups and downs more in stride. Integrate cognitive therapy and mindfulness: Conrad meshes her pragmatic therapeutic style — “You could go on and on about your bad relationship from the day you married, but it does not help one bit” — with the idea of being mindful of one’s thoughts. Focusing on the positive, not the negative, nurtures and refuels people. Misery really does love company: Those who spend time with negative people become that way themselves. Be around optimists and it will rub off on you. Do the things that lift you up: Figure out what activities buoy your spirits and make time for them. These are often the simplest things in life, such as taking your morning coffee outside and
listening to the birds. Exercise: Endorphins are a great way to shake a down mood. “I look for ways to be uplifted,” says Conrad of her own technique for maintaining a positive outlook. “I take my dogs to the beach and they are totally in the here and now. I let my inner dialogue rest, still my mind and just play.”
Bob Stahl, meditation teacher “It always takes away some of the charge if we can acknowledge how we are feeling,” says Stahl, who runs mindfulness meditation programs and teaches at El Camino and O’Connor hospitals in Northern California. Count your blessings: What is really important is having love in our lives, Stahl reminds us, and staying connected through relationships. It is crucial to take time to recognize and embrace the positive. Remember the present moment: If you are listening to the news and your jaw is clenching and filling you with anxious feelings, notice those effects. How we spend our time and our interactions with others affect us internally. Eschew a” feeding frenzy of fear.” It is easy to forget about the benevolent forces that are present all around us. Focus on the kind things you have done for others, or that they have done for you. Take a three-second break: STOP— Stop, Take a breath, Observe what is going on right now and Proceed. If you stop typing you may notice your shoulders are up by your ears with tension. Release your shoulders and take a deep breath. Recognize when your body needs a break.
— MediaNews Group
A hug a day Studies show hugging keeps you healthy and happy How often do you hug? Recent research shows it’s good for your health. Between loving partners, between parents and children, or even between close friends, physical affection can help the brain, the heart and other body systems you might never have imagined. In the past few years, scientists supported by the National Institutes of Health have begun to understand the chemistry and biology of love. At the center of how our bodies respond to love and affection is a hormone called oxytocin. Most of our oxytocin is made in the area of the brain called the hypothalamus. Some is released into our bloodstream, but much of its effect is thought to reside in the brain. Oxytocin makes us feel good when we’re close to family and other loved ones, including pets. It does this by acting through what scientists call the dopamine reward system. Dopamine is a brain chemical that plays a crucial part in how we perceive pleasure.
Many drugs of abuse act through this system, while problems with the system can lead to serious depression and other mental illness. Oxytocin does more than make us feel good. It lowers the levels of stress hormones in the body, reducing blood pressure, improving mood, increasing tolerance for pain and perhaps even speeding how fast wounds heal. It also seems to play an important role in our relationships. It’s been linked, for example, to how much we trust others. One thing researchers can say with certainty is that physical contact affects oxytocin levels. Dr. Kathleen C. Light of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studies oxytocin in married couples and those permanently living together. Light says that the people who get lots of hugs and other warm contact at home tend to have the highest levels of oxytocin in the laboratory. We may not yet fully understand how love affects our health, but research is giving us some guidance. Give those you cherish all the affection you can. It can’t hurt, and it may bring a bounty of benefits. — National Institutes of Health
5 tips for dealing with stress
Cost of a sunset: priceless
: By Mark Beardslee For most people, everyday stress and anxiety can be handled without the need for medicines, medical specialists or therapy. Here are tips for decreasing the level of stress and anxiety in your life:
You can’t buy happiness. Or can you? According to one recent study, spending money on memory-making experiences — say, tickets to hear Eric Clapton, or even a cheap dinner out with good friends — can bring more joy than buying stuff. In the study, more than 150 older college students were asked to rate recent purchases. The people who had bought life experiences, such as a vacation or a meal out, were more satisfied than those who bought material things. That’s probably true for several reasons, says study co-author Ryan Howell, an assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University. One may be that purchasing life experiences often brings people closer. Such times also provide “memory capital” that you can draw on in less happy — or less lucrative — times. — Living Healthy
1. Plan your day. Take some deep breaths and make a list of things that need to be accomplished in the order they need to be done. This can help make your work and personal life seem less frantic. It can also help you become more organized, both at work and at home. The less disorganized you are externally, the less disarray you feel internally.
3. Get physical. Exercise can go a long way toward eliminating stress. Set aside 15 or 20 minutes each day, or longer periods two or three times a week, for your favorite exercise. Make it something you enjoy so you won’t avoid doing it. 4. Meditate. Therapists and healers commonly use this
2. Get up earlier. Get up well before you have any obligations and spend some time relaxing, or even exercising, before planning your day.
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5. Try yoga. Its physical component can be excellent exercise and, by disciplining your body, mental and emotional peace can replace anxiety and stress.
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ancient practice across the world. As with relaxation, there are dozens of approaches. Find one that works for you.
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on tightening your mid-section Waist away : Focus today — your health depends on it : By Melanie Wanzek
In a recent study done at the Harvard Medical School, researchers reported that even normalweight women with extra weight around the middle face twice the risk of premature death from heart disease or cancer. Several other studies this year also showed the benefit of using techniques other than a number on the scale or body mass index (BMI) in determining overall health risks. According to the International Journal of Obesity, the waist-to-height ratio might be a better indicator, while the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology showed waist size to be a better way to determine risk for hypertension, diabetes and other health risks. “It isn’t about the scale,” says Jillian Michaels, professional trainer of the most recent winner on TV’s The Biggest Loser. “It’s how you feel in your own skin and how’s your blood pressure, how’s your heart health.” Simply put, your waist should be half of your height.
According to Cynthia Sass, nutrition editor for Prevention magazine and the co-author of The Flat Belly Diet (Rodale Books, 2008), abdominal fat is more dangerous than fat in other areas because higher waist measurements — more than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men — are linked to a number of chronic diseases including high cholesterol, high blood sugar, high blood pressure and more.
consulting with your doctor, the first step is a regular fitness schedule — one that you enjoy and can maintain.
“We also know belly fat creates inflammation in the body, a known trigger of aging, [which] ... has been linked to higher rates of other illnesses like Alzheimer’s,” Sass says. “This can be reduced by eating a certain way, losing weight and being more active.”
“You want to create an exercise regimen that will give you a calorie deficit,” Michaels says. “I recommend four to five hours a week of exercise. It doesn’t have to be something you hate. Take dance classes, go kayaking, go for hike. If you’re diligent and want the weight off quicker, go to the gym for more intensity. Also, the more variety, the faster that weight will come off.”
It’s no doubt that many people desire to see change. The catch? Losing the inches also takes work.
The main message, Michaels emphasizes, is that exercise is too important to skip, no matter how busy your schedule gets.
“Everyone is always looking for that quick fix — eat this, and that will reduce your belly fat,” says Tara Gidus, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association in Chicago. “There’s no research supporting that one particular food will attack your belly; it’s just reducing your calories, increasing your physical activity and the fat is going to come off.”
Next, pursue the power of the pen: Being honest in a food diary can save you hundreds of calories. Writing down foods immediately before or after consuming them can also be crucial to cutting down your middle.
Fortunately, Michaels says, abdominal weight often comes off easier than fat on the hips and thighs. According to the National Weight Control Registry in Providence, R.I., more than 90 percent of those who have kept weight off have incorporated physical activity as part of their weight control program, so after
“We do a lot of mindless eating,” Sass says. “And being over by an extra 200 calories a day can prevent you from losing 20 pounds a year — or make you gain 20 pounds in a year. Just a few hundred calories off is like a snowball effect.” — CTW Features
workout mistakes and how to fix them Don’t undo all your hard work at the gym with a few bad habits
Not eating before exercise. When you don’t eat, you shortcircuit your workout before you begin. “Food is more than something to stop your hunger,” says Edith Hogan, a registered dietician and member of the American Dietetic Association in Chicago. “It is the fuel you need to provide you with the nutrients and energy you need for exercising.”
The three keys to a nutritionally balanced diet for active people are variety, moderation and wholesomeness, Hogan says. The average person will consume at least 1,500 calories a day, but active women might need 2,000 to 5,000 calories, depending on age and size.
Not drinking enough water. “You should always drink
before you get thirsty because by that time, you have already lost 1 percent of your body weight,” Hogan says. Drink 10 ounces of water for every 15 to 20 minutes of strenuous exercise. Some people might think that’s too much, but it is essential to replace fluid lost through heavy sweating to keep your body working efficiently.
Failing to warm up and cool down. Both the warm-up and cool-down can help make the most of your workout and help prevent injuries. “For those who want to lose weight, it is important to do a good, gradual warm-up to maximize the effectiveness of the workout,” says Dr. Cedric Bryant, chief science officer at the American Council on Exercise in San Diego.
“Don’t put yourself at risk of injury by stopping vigorous activity quickly. Pulled muscles, soreness and blood pooling can all be symptoms of failing to cool down properly.” Before running, walk for about five minutes and spend another five minutes stretching your legs. Before lifting weights, warm up your entire body with aerobics, and then stretch a wide range of upper-body muscles. Cool down with light aerobics and another good stretch.
Running with your arms too high
Your arms should be at your sides; otherwise, you’ll wear yourself out faster and increase your risk of shoulder and neck tension during and after exercising.
Slapping your feet Whether you’re hitting the pavement or treadmill, you should run in a way that absorbs shock effectively. Your feet should roll forward from the heel to the ball of each foot. Avoid bringing them down flat or running on the balls of your feet. — Living Healthy
: action plan
: In the know
30 days to a better you : One small adjustment a day can get you on the right track in no time A life makeover is a pretty overwhelming idea, but by making small changes to your daily routine, you can exert minimal effort and see makeover-worthy results : By Jessica Abels
1. Get what you want If you feel you’re being overlooked for something at the office, Sandy Scheppmann, a certified life coach with Life Makeover Specialists in Tustin, Calif., says it’s best to voice your concern. “People aren’t going to just notice you,” she says. “You want them to, and the way to do that is to open your mouth and diplomatically ask.” 2. Go nuts “Eat a handful of nuts every day, but from natural sources, not roasted in oil or honey roasted,” says Gay Riley, a certified clinical nutritionist who maintains the Web site NetNutritionist.com. Riley says natural nuts provide a good source of unsaturated fats and vitamin E, in addition to being naturally antiinflammatory. 3. Automate “If you feel comfortable letting bills go directly to your credit card or checking account, it’s one less step that you have to take, one less check to write, one less envelope to address,” says Denise Caron-Quinn, founder and president of In Order to Succeed in New York City, a professional organizing firm. She adds that many credit card companies will give you airline miles or bonus points for paying bills on your card. 4. Say yes to yogurt “Unless you’re lactose-intolerant, yogurt every day keeps the culture of the intestinal tract healthy, and that’s really important,” Riley says. She suggests opting for plain natural yogurt and adding fresh fruit and honey rather than purchasing processed varieties. 5. Settle the score Even if you know your credit report is golden, Scheppmann advises checking it every three to four months. “Anything can happen
— someone could be using your card, a technical glitch could come up. It’s best to be sure,” she says.
shoot them an e-mail. It brightens their day and it also clears emotional clutter in your life.”
6. Milk your diet for all it’s worth “Instead of getting your fat from fast food, get your fat from dairy,” Riley says, She suggests 1 percent or 2 percent milk instead of skim. “One gram more of fat in your food is not a big deal.” She also prefers organic or raw milk, which are produced from cows that are not injected with the growth hormone BST.
11. No time like the present Both Scheppmann and CaronQuinn advise tackling little to-dos, such as bills and appointment scheduling, as soon as they pop up. “Take care of things when they show up, not when they blow up,” Caron-Quinn says. “Even though there are a lot of mundane things that you’d like to put off, they don’t go away by you just not doing them.”
7. Grab-and-go must-reads “I always suggest clients keep a reading basket of things they want to take with them when they go to the doctor’s office or when they know they’re going to be on a train or airplane,” Caron-Quinn says. “You can catch up on reading or work if it’s somewhere where you can quickly grab it.”
12. Can the cola “The major thing is to watch out for the sugar,” Riley says. “If you drink two sodas a day, drink one. Instead of doing a fruit drink, do water and add your own fruit juice.”
8. Turn of phrase Scheppmann tells her clients to think and speak in terms of “getting to do something” rather than “having to do something.” “It usually lightens any task you want to do because you automatically find the positive thing in what the task is all about,” she says. “Changing your language on a day-to-day basis from negative to positive is healthier and more inspiring.” 9. Enjoy exercise If your workout feels more repetitive than refreshing, tailor it to your interests. “It’s almost like you really have to psych yourself out,” says Michelle Theall, founder and publisher of Women’s Adventure magazine. “That way you’ll stick with it because it taps into who you are.” 10. Make the connection “Trust your gut,” Scheppmann says. “If your inner voice is thinking about someone, call them up or
13. Clear the clutter “A lot of people are so worried about saving paper, but about 80 percent of the papers people file are never referred to again,” Caron-Quinn says. “Think to yourself, ‘What would happen if I threw this out and really needed it? How difficult would it be to get this information again?’” She also notes that most user manuals, which can take up valuable home office space, can now be found online. 14. Skinny the frap Riley suggests skipping those caloric frozen coffee drinks altogether, but if you absolutely must have that frap, order the light version to cut out 140 calories. Hold off on the whipped cream to save even more. 15. Rough draft When Scheppmann’s clients want to request something, she often has them put it in writing, whether the draft is actually sent or not. “You have to really define what you want and be able to articulate that,” she says. “Ask specifically what you’re
looking for, complete with a time frame and legitimate reasons.” 16. Multitask your workout Caron-Quinn, who is also a registered nurse, sometimes fits in workouts while returning calls and reading reports. “I’d really like an hour to go to the gym or an hour to go for a run, but sometimes there are calls that can be made while I’m strolling,” she says. 17. Half-and-half “Share whatever entrée you order,” Theall says. “Or if you don’t have someone to share with, ask for a doggy bag right away and put half of it away. As long as the food remains in front of you, you’ll continue to eat.” 18. Get a (tech) guru “A huge time-waster is to try to get on the phone with tech support or someone who is just going to keep you on hold for a really simple question,” says CaronQuinn. She suggests developing an ongoing relationship with a local specialist, someone who knows your system and can give quick advice over the phone or make house calls if necessary. 19. Steppin’ out It may seem a little obvious, but walk wherever you can. “Every little errand that you can do on foot or by bike is going to make a huge difference,” Theall says. 20. Memorize Caron-Quinn has recently started using a free system called Jot, which uses voice-activation software to send memos from her cell phone to family and friends. She says although it can be finicky at times, “It’s a good way of getting something off your mind and having it remind you when you are able to sit down at your computer.”
21. Fortify with fiber According to Riley, fiber increases motility in the intestinal tract and causes you to absorb sugar and fats more slowly in the bloodstream. “The average American gets maybe 10 grams a day, but you need 35 or more,” she says. Sweet potatoes, apples, berries and beans are all great sources to increase your daily fiber intake. 22. Choose the best tools If you’re not a tech-savvy person, don’t attempt the iPhone or Palm Pilot to organize. “There are paper systems out there that are wonderful and attractive,” Caron-Quinn says. “Whatever tools you’re using, they should be tools that you like to use.” 23. Become an e-mail aficionado “Set up automatic folders so that your e-mails are automatically sent to folders when they come in,” Caron-Quinn says. Scheppmann suggests creating contact lists of family and friends so updates or notifications can be sent quickly and efficiently. 24. DIY dressing “Instead of salad dressing, try balsamic vinegar with a little olive oil,” Riley says. “You can use more of the vinegar and less of the oil, and you can do sesame oil with rice vinegar, so you can do your own with an Italian flair or an Oriental flair.” 25. Get a (free!) personal assist Caron-Quinn cites IWantSandy .com, which takes some time to set up, but acts as a virtual personal assistant and will send you, your family and friends e-mail updates, text message reminders and daily schedules to keep life running smoothly. If you don’t want to go quite that far, programs like Gmail
(Google) calendar allow you to keep a personal schedule and send yourself text message reminders. 26. Insta-newsletter Scheppmann suggests creating an e-mail group for family and friends, so that all can be notified or updated nearly instantly without typing out e-mail addresses. 27. Daily downsizing “Use the one-in, one-out policy,” Caron-Quinn says. “If you buy a new sweater, try to choose a sweater you no longer wear to discard or donate. Make your decision ongoing so it’s not such a big deal to take things down a notch.” 28. Location, location, location “It’s important to store things as close as possible to where you’re going to use them,” Caron-Quinn says. “That makes it much more likely that you’re going to put them back where they belong. Everything should have a home.” 29. Butter is better Even though most margarines are trans-fat free, Riley says they still contain saturation and hydrogenation in some way. “I like the idea of having a little bit of butter instead of non-fat margarine,” she says, adding that the satiric acid in butter is good for your colon. 30. You’re not on the list Caron-Quinn helps clients banish clutter by removing them from electronic and standard mailing lists. There are a variety of online resources that allow you to mail in forms or electronically submit requests to stop the junk mail flow. — CTW Features
Finding a health Web site you can trust
10 questions to ask when you’re searching for medical info online
1 2 3
Who pays for it? The source of a site’s funding should be clear. For example, addresses ending in “.gov” signal a government-sponsored site; “.edu” indicates an educational institution; “.org” a non-commercial group; and “.com” a commercial organization. Check to see if the site sells advertising or if it’s sponsored by a drug company. These things may affect what content is presented and how.
material is based on. Medical facts and figures should have references to studies or journal articles, and opinions or advice should be clearly set apart from facts.
How is the information selected? Is there an editorial board? Do people with excellent professional and scientific
What is the basis of the information? In addition to identifying its sources, the site should describe the evidence the
How does the site manage visitor interactions? There should always be a way to contact the site owner if you run into problems or have questions or feedback.
— National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (nccam.nih.gov)
What is the site’s purpose? Look for an “about this site” link on the home page. There you should find a clear statement of purpose, which will help you evaluate the trustworthiness of the information. What sources are used? Many health sites post information from other Web sites or sources. If the person or organization in charge of the site did not create the information, the original source should be clearly labeled.
What other sites does the site link to, and how does it choose them? Web sites usually have a policy about linking to other sites. Some medical sites take a conservative approach and don’t link to any other sites; some link to any site that asks or pays for a link. Others only link to sites that have met certain criteria.
qualifications review the material before it is posted? How current is the information? Web sites should be updated regularly with the most recent review date clearly posted. Even if information on a given topic hasn’t changed much over time, you need to know that the site owners have checked to make sure the article is still valid.
Who runs it? Any credible health-related site should make it easy for you to learn who is responsible for the site and its information. Look for clear markers on every page, as well as links to the home page of any governing organizations.
What personal information does the site collect, and why? Many health sites ask visitors to subscribe or become members, which allows the site to gather personal data. Any credible site
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: fiscally fit
5 steps to financial security in any economy
Reduce your debts in a tough economy Does your monthly stack of bills leave you wondering where your bailout is? For many Americans, money is tight and spending has become more conservative, but this does not mean that you lack options when it comes to reducing your debt. Here are some easy steps to consider for managing debt in any economy:
Despite the state of the economy, there is good news. If you can anticipate financial changes and develop a sound financial plan, you can protect yourself and your family today, and for many years to come. Just follow these five basic steps:
of living, you can see how much you have left to go toward your debts. 3. Be credit card savvy It’s best to keep only one or two credit cards for your personal use and pay off debt monthly. If you have rotating debt like many people do, find out if you can negotiate better terms with your credit card company. It’s possible to reduce your interest rate or settlement on some debt just by asking.
1. Assess your situation The only way to start fixing your debt problem is to see where you realistically stand. Write down all your loans and credit card debts along with their interest rates and monthly payment requirements.
4. Consolidate debt Bundle multiple monthly payments into one single payment to make paying bills easier. Usually these payments are at a reduced interest rate, so you can also save money. If you have significant debt, this can be a good option, but there are two things you should remember. Debt consolidation simply transfers the debt to
2. Set a reasonable budget Determine what your expenses are each month. Food, fuel, insurance, utilities — be sure to include everything with a regular expense. After you know your cost
1. Begin an emergency cash fund
Credit Counseling at (800) 388-2227.
* Create a savings account and resolve to pay yourself first by setting aside 5 to 10 percent of your salary each month.
3. Create a financial plan using life insurance as the foundation * Purchase life insurance. It is the foundation of a strong financial plan and can protect your family during an unexpected turn of events, such as loss of life or loss of income.
* Automatically transfer money from your checking account to your savings so that you’re not tempted to spend the funds elsewhere. * Aim to save three to six months of living expenses in the account for emergencies. 2. Pay down your credit cards * Credit card debt is the No. 1 obstacle to a secure financial future, and knowing your credit score is essential.
a new lender who will work with you to find a manageable payment plan. A debt consolidation loan is typically a secured loan with your home as collateral, effectively making it a second mortgage. If you consolidate debt, be sure and analyze your spending habits immediately. For example, don’t start spending on those cards again once you clear the balance.
* You’re allowed one free credit check annually with each of the major credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. * Check your credit score; it determines your interest rates on loans and credit cards, and may help save you money throughout your life. * Check your report for errors and report any immediately. Bureaus are required to investigate and correct errors once you report them. * If you feel you need further assistance with your credit, contact the National Foundation for
* Educate yourself. Certain types of policies accumulate cash value that can be used for larger expenses, such as college, while others may be used to help create a legacy of giving that can last for generations to come. * An insufficient life insurance plan can expose your family to significant financial risks. To learn more about life insurance, call (866) 331-3078 and speak with a life insurance specialist with SBLI USA, a company that specializes in life insurance policies.
5. Optimize your retirement plan * Many companies offer a 401(k) plan and may match your contributions. Take advantage of these deferred income tax benefits; you could be missing out on free money. * If your work doesn’t allow you to participate in a 401(k), consider opening up an IRA; or perhaps both. —ARAcontent
* Be prudent with your spending. Write down everything you spend each month and cut back on non-essentials. * Apply these savings toward reducing your credit card debt. Start by paying off your high-interest cards first.
Trying just one or two of these tips will substantially up the efficiency and motivation of your work.
* Use cost-cutting strategies to make the most of your budget. For example, pay in cash and remove credit cards from your wallet.
4. Empower yourself by creating a budget
Dramatically increase your efficiency at work : By Julie Morgenstern
* Explain to your family that everyone needs to contribute to the expense cutting. Making it a joint effort will increase everyone’s willpower.
A career planning guide
and ownership that only you provide your position. “You’re in a service-based industry, and your service is you,” she said. • Embrace a work-life balance. Executives at the top have gotten there because they know how to spend their time off, said organizing and time-managment expert Julie Morgenstern. If you’re sleep deprived, things take longer to do than they used to, you don’t have the energy at nights and on weekends for fun, you’ve gotten out of shape and you have a short fuse, then you need to, well, have more fun. Morgenstern said workers should plan their weekends to include activities that improve health (like sleeping or exercising), offer escapes (things that result in instant happiness, maybe gardening or shopping) and include people. “This comes before the laundry,” Morgenstern said. “This comes before bill paying.” Having something to look forward to after work makes being at work much more efficient, she said.
: active family
• Develop an entrepreneurial mindset. What sets you apart and makes you valuable to your employer are the creativity, opportunities
• Choose the most important tasks. Sure, responding to e-mail and other daily work tasks are easy to check off your to-do list, but they also can keep you from finishing a looming project. Work on the most challenging, most important task first, and you’ll have a sense of accomplishment all day. Morgenstern recommends spending the first hour of work on legato issues, such as writing, designing, reports and strategy. “I’ve never seen this fail,” she said. Your e-mail can wait an hour. • Create the time to get things done. Look at your schedule and identify times in which you can focus. Even if you have to physically put up a sign that asks co-workers to hold off on interruptions, do it. Build in time for interruptions, if necessary. “Every time you send off an e-mail instantly to someone, think about the (larger) message you are sending,” Morgenstern said. Unless that person signs your paycheck, you may not
: Don’t laugh — your best workout buddy could be your dog
want to give them that much power over your time. • Control the nibblers. These are the things like chatty co-workers, endless meetings and daily chores that eat away at your productivity. To control it, Morgenstern said workers should “crunch their container,” or shorten each workday by 30 minutes. “I guarantee that you will get as much or more done,” she said. This is because workers become more efficient and eliminate superfluous tasks when they know they’re on a deadline to get out of the office. • Organize at the speed of change. If your current system isn’t working, be willing to change it. • Master delegation at work and at home. Empower others to find solutions to problems.
: By Beth Kujawski Everyone knows that exercise does a human body good, and the same holds true for our furry friends, which is why many animal owners have begun to turn pets into workout buddies. Melissa Hillebrand, an editor in Chicago, and her blackand-tan short-hair mini dachshund, Nahlah, bicycle many miles on the city streets in matching pink helmets. Nahlah, tucked into a bike basket made specifically for small-breed dogs, joins Hillebrand on outings to various parks. Hillebrand reaps the benefits of cycling while Nahlah runs around at their destinations. Exercise is important for all pets, but Hillebrand points out Nahlah’s specific needs. “Dachshunds have long backs and short legs,” she says. “I knew that by being a dachshund owner I would have to make sure that she stays at a healthy weight so her back does not have any additional pressure on it. Dachs-hunds are at a high
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• Work well with others. Beware, this doesn’t mean being nice and saying yes, Morgenstern warns. It means being accessible, being reliable and being clear.
— Smart magazine
risk for intervertebral disc disease so I like to make sure she is slim and trim.” Tracy Cooley, D.V.M., owner of Cooley Animal Clinic in Highland, Ind., says, “I recommend that most pets get a physical annually when they get vaccinated.” If you’re not taking your pet to the vet on a regular basis, Cooley recommends taking it in for a physical before embarking on routine exercise. Keep in mind that all pets are not created equal. Some, like Nahlah, have breed-specific traits that may affect what they can do or for how long they can do it. Be sure to talk to your veterinarian about your pet and heed any advice. Exercise requirements vary, says Dr. Cooley: “Greyhounds, Labs and hunting dogs need about one hour of good running a day, but a Chihuahua running around the house barking at the doorbell is probably getting all the exercise it requires.” — CTW Features
Active parents, active kids
There are a lot of ways to set good examples for your children, including encouraging them to participate in sports. Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and Duke University looked at 681 parents and 433 fourth- and fifthgrade students. They found that kids whose parents supported their involvement in sports watched less television, spent less time staring at computer screens
and were more active than their peers. However, there were gender differences. “Parents encouraged sons to partake in vigorous and moderate- intensity team and individual sports, and vigorous-intensity home chores,’’ says study author Cheryl Braselton Anderson. Daughters — not so much, even though, as she points out, “girls can and want to do them.’’ — American Psychological Association
Straight talk on teeth whitening
Brewing the truth Experts demystify health benefits, dangers of coffee “Coffee is an amazingly potent collection of biologically active compounds,” says Dr. Walter C. Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health. Caffeine is probably the most wellknown compound in coffee. It can make you feel more awake and alert, which is why most people drink coffee in the first place.
Perhaps you’ve heard that your morning coffee causes everything from heart disease to cancer. But researchers are finding that coffee poses little to no health risk for most people. In fact, coffee might have some health benefits. Coffee beans are seeds and, like all seeds, they’re loaded with compounds to protect the plant’s next generation.
But too much can be harmful. In fact, according to Willett, caffeine causes the most common problem reported by coffee drinkers: insomnia. Caffeine can also blunt your appetite and cause headaches, dizziness, nervousness and irritability. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, Willett says, simply drink less of it. Caffeine is mildly addictive, though, so you might get headaches, drowsiness, irritability, nausea and other symptoms if you suddenly cut back. Gradually reduce
your caffeine intake to avoid these effects. Another concern: “There’s some evidence that high amounts of caffeine during pregnancy may cause problems with the pregnancy,” says Dr. Jared Reis of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health.
Omega-3 fatty acids. An omega-3 supplement is a great way to improve your heart health and maintain good triglyceride levels. Fish oil pills are the most popular way to get this important fatty acid and provide cardiovascular benefits. — ARAcontent
— Chicago Tribune
Overall, however, “caffeine doesn’t seem to have the wide array of detrimental health effects we first thought it had,” says Dr. Rob M. van Dam, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Coffee may even have some positive effects. Some studies have linked coffee intake with a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and to its positive effects on memory. — National Institutes of Health
Supplements to take to complement, maintain a healthy lifestyle
“Supplements are a smart addition to a healthy lifestyle,” says Dr. Luke Bucci, a certified clinical nutritionist and researcher at Schiff Nutrition. “The health aisle of your local drug store holds a large amount of options that can be confusing.” Bucci says that just because a supplement is expensive doesn’t mean it’s the best one. “Some
of the highest-quality, most beneficial supplements are actually quite affordable, if you know what to look for,” he says. Here are some tips for figuring which supplement is best for you: Multivitamins. “A multivitamin should be taken on a daily basis and helps ensure the body gets the vitamins and minerals it needs to stay healthy,” Bucci says. “This is especially important if you’re not eating a well-rounded diet.” Look for options that are tailored to your
age group, such as multivitamins for women or for those 50-plus. Probiotics. Can bacteria be good? Yes, if it’s the right kind. “Probiotics are bacteria that we can ingest in supplement form that help keep the natural balance within our digestive systems,” Bucci says. “Some studies have shown that probiotics can restore normal bowel function, prevent infections in the digestive tract and even help the immune system.” When looking for a probiotic supplement, try to find one that has
● : By Wendy Donahue If whitening your teeth ● Whitening strips seems like a hassle Process: You affix now, consider the perils store-bought strips of doing so in Jackie containing peroxide Kennedy’s era. Dr. Jeff to teeth at home. Golub-Evans, a cosmetic Peroxide strength: dentist on Manhattan’s 9-12 percent Upper East Side, says an Whitening ability: elderly patient of his who 3-6 shades lighter worked on the design of Cost: About $45 the Kennedy White House Time commitment: told him that he once 30 minutes a day for stumbled on a prominent up to two weeks member of the household To consider: “Strips coming out of the bathare my first choice for room holding a bottle of over-the-counter,” Golub Clorox. “He said to her, Evans says, adding that ‘There are people who he recommends the can clean that for you.’” Crest brand. “I don’t work for them, but I like She wasn’t scrubbing the product very much, the basin, she explained. because it’s a measured Rather, she said, she dose of peroxide.” drank so much coffee and red wine that, once ● In-office bleaching a week or so, she poured Process: A dentist paints a capful of Clorox in a teeth with a peroxide gel, glass of water, dabbed then shines a blue light a cotton swab in it and on them to accelerate rubbed it over her front the bleaching. teeth. Mercifully, less toxic Peroxide strength: methods abound now. 15-35 percent But the range of options Whitening ability: can make the mind grow 6-10 shades lighter foggy. Cost: Generally, at least $500 “Peroxide is peroxide,” Time commitment: Golub-Evans says. About an hour “Whether it’s in To consider: Many drug-store whitening practices are offering strips or a professional discounts right now; bleaching gel, it’s the same it’s a good time to shop ingredient, just in different around. Also, this method concentrations. can cause less irritation than other whitening So, is time or money methods. more precious to you? And keep in mind that ● Take-home trays not everyone is a good Process: A dentist candidate for whitencustom-fits bleaching ing (teeth with a grayish trays that are to be cast, for example, might worn regularly at home. not get results). But if Peroxide strength: you decide to pursue it, 5-11 percent Golub-Evans’ general Whitening ability: overview might help you 6-10 shades lighter decide what’s right for Cost: $200-$600 you. Then, once you do Time commitment: bleach, avoid most 30 minutes a day for colored mouthwashes. up to two weeks To consider: Your self-discipline.
Navigating the vitamin aisle Supplements are a part of many people’s daily lives. They contribute to overall health, but also leave a lot of questions. Which are best?
A trio of bleaching options for getting a brighter smile
Lactobacillus acidophilus or Bifidobacterium bifidus human strains because they are the most beneficial.
e f i l k r o w a g reatin
: By Ryan Peacock
How can you cope when life throws you a curve? Life coach Mary Coussons-Read, a professor of psychology at the University of Colorado at Denver, offers tips on the best ways to do just that. Say you’ve just been laid off, or you’re worried that you might be. How do you create a sense of stability? The trick is to be able to look at the things you can control and put your energy toward what you can actually change. When people worry, it’s often about things that might happen or things they don’t have any control over, like the economy. The only thing we can really control is our behavior. We can’t control how others think or what they do. So whether it’s the economy or a stressful job, you need to look at what is within your realm of influence. What are some of the common mistakes that people tend to make in these types of situations? When people are feeling nervous about the economy, they
Don’t wait for guilt to turn into resentment. Realize the problem starts with you, and you have to want to fix it.
Stress can be draining, both physically and mentally. What’s the best way to cope?
tend to panic. And the worst thing you can do is respond in a way you’ll regret. For example, pulling all your money out of your 401(k) comes with a huge tax penalty. Stopping the emotional response long enough to think logically about what actions you want to take is one of the best ways to relieve stress.
When you’re under stress, it’s easy to fall into a self-perpetuating cycle: Worry can keep you up at night, which disrupts your thinking ability, which affects your decision-making process. One of the best ways to cope is to start paying attention to how your body feels under stress. Sometimes the symptoms will be really obvious, like a tightness in your neck and shoulders or an upset stomach. Or it may be something more subtle. Learning to recognize these signs is the first step toward getting stress under control.
The economy is forcing many of us to make difficult decisions about our jobs, our homes and our lifestyles. What’s your advice for making tough choices? It may sound simple, but creating a pros and cons list before making a decision is a great thing to do. Then you can go through the list and see which things cancel each other out. Not everybody is going to come to the same conclusion as you, but taking personal responsibility for
Making yourself more valuable Project a positive image. A sense of self-worth begins in your heart.
improving your circumstances can be extremely beneficial.
Why are healthy activities so often the first thing to go when stress hits? There’s a misconception that if you’re worried about losing your job, you need to work more. In reality, the best thing
Are you a team player? “Lone rangers” are at risk if they do not have the support of others in the organization.
working, sewing. If you enjoy what you’re doing, you’ll naturally want to learn more about it and expand your skill sets.
• Switch careers or start a new one.
• Get involved. Join community groups and organizations. Attend lectures, plays, festivals.
• Learn a new skill. This could mean anything from going back for an advanced degree or just taking a seminar on something you’ve always wanted to learn about at a local adult education program.
• Get creative. Even if you have no artistic abilities, play around with painting, drawing, photography, pottery — whatever strikes your fancy.
• Play card or board games — aside from being challenging, they’re great opportunities for social interaction.
• Read. Join a book club. If you’re not much for the printed page, consider the growing number of audio books.
• Study a foreign language. Even if you don’t plan to ever use it, the new sounds, words and sentence structures will keep your mind sharp.
• Volunteer. Share your skills and time with others. Not only will you feel good about helping, you’ll build up your social network and maybe even learn something new.
• Better yet — go ahead and put that new language to the test by traveling to a place where they speak it. Exploring new places, seeing new things, meeting new people and having new experiences expand not only your brain, but your horizons. • Stay informed about current events. Not only will you be on top of the latest news, you’ll have plenty of new ideas to talk and think about. • Take up a new hobby. Gardening, bird watching, cooking, crafts, wood-
Getting ahead in your career can be difficult, especially in the current job market. But if your goal is to advance into management, there’s no better time than the present to take steps to stand out in the workplace.
on keeping calm, stable and healthy you can do is keep yourself as healthy and functional as possible. People tend to look at exercise and self-care as optional, but you need to get to the point where your self-care routine stops being negotiable. How does resilience fit in?
Tom Allen, dean of student and career services at DeVry University in Alpharetta, Ga., says education is the foundation for career advancement, but there are other things you should do at your current job so that you get noticed. Here are his suggestions for going the extra mile and getting ahead in the workplace:
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Research suggests that people who have a better understanding of their values are more resilient because they know who they are and what’s important to them. Instead of panicking because their company is downsizing, someone who is resilient may think, “Over the next 10 years I see myself moving into a variety of professional roles, and maybe I can make this into something that will get me there.” They tend to focus on the bigger picture and look for the opportunities that change creates.
— MediaNews Group
Be a good leader, show initiative and be proactive. Don’t wait for work to come to you. Ask how you can help and be willing to go beyond your job description. As always, be responsible in completing assignments on time. Be focused on providing good customer service and support. A business’s customers are the reason they thrive or flounder, so if you can make customers a priority, you’re sure to stand out as a good asset. Be willing to handle conflict when it arises among your co-workers. Showing you can work through problems with your team will demonstrate true management potential. Support your people — be a coach and a mentor to your colleagues. Teach the skills you know to be successful at your place of employment. Always be open to questions others might have. This demonstrates competence, leadership and trust. Never forget you can always learn from your staff, your customers and from more training and education. Management techniques are constantly changing, and new technologies develop. Be knowledgeable and never lose your edge as a manager. —ARAcontent
Creative ways to engage your brain • Get musical. Learn to play an instrument. Explore new genres and styles of music. Go to live concerts. Stock up on CDs or download tunes.
How can you make yourself indispensable on the job? Consider these suggestions:
Are you the right person for this job? Honestly evaluate your skills and dedication to your employer and current position. Are you delivering what your boss expects?
: A psychology
• Go out of your way. Taking a new route to work, to the grocery store or to a friend’s house forces your brain to pay attention rather than operate on autopilot. • Get active. Go dancing. Try yoga, tai chi, swimming, walking. Basically, anything you enjoy that gets your body moving is good for your brain. — Associated Press
Look young, stay young When it comes to healthful aging, a preventive approach is the key to success. By implementing some simple healthy habits today, we can achieve a healthier future. “Our bodies’ health — particularly as we age — requires that we take precautionary measures to strengthen ourselves,” explains Dr. Donnica L. Moore, a women’s health expert and advocate, and editor in chief of Women’s Health for Life. Consider her tips for healthful aging as part of an improved wellness plan. Sleep smart: Sleep not only helps revive the body, but also the mind. Research shows that skimping on sleep can have serious effects such as an increased risk of developing memory loss, cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Getting enough rest encourages a positive mood, healthy weight and better skin elasticity.
Shield your smile: The health of your smile is influenced by daily dental health routines, as well as dietary factors. Enamel loss can occur when acids from everyday food and beverages, such as fruit, yogurt, salsa, orange juice and sports drinks, attack the tooth surface. If left untreated, the result can be irreversible enamel loss, which can lead to larger issues such as cavities, sensitivity, veneers, dentures and even oral surgery. Exercise and energize: People who exercise frequently not only look better, they feel better, too. The short-term effects of exercise include better stress management and increased energy. Long-term benefits include easier weight control, stronger bones and muscles plus a decreased risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.
Do-it-yourself beauty treatments Your hair color is fading, your unibrow is growing and you desperately need a pedicure. In the age of do-it-yourself everything, you just need a refresher course in grooming. To help, we’ve gathered tips from Jessica Aguallo and Lisa Anderson, instructors at Marinello Schools of Beauty in Concord, Calif. They have a combined 40 years of experience in cosmetology — Anderson owns Diva Styles salon in Oakland, Calif. — and are proponents of using ingredients found in your cupboard or pantry to maintain hair, skin and nails. Facial Anderson recommends the following basic facial once every one to two weeks. All you need to know is your skin type — normal, dry or oily. Cleanse your face with whatever you normally use, but “stay away from harsh soaps,” Anderson says. Once your skin is clean, make a natural steam to open up pores. Bring a quart of water to a boil and pour into a bowl. While still steaming, place five tea bags — Anderson recom-
mends chamomile or peppermint — in the bowl, throw a towel over your head and breathe in the steam for three two-minute increments. Slough off dead skin cells. Make a scrub by mixing granulated sugar with olive oil. The consistency is up to you. “Just make sure it’s not too gritty,” Anderson advises. Rub the mixture on your skin and lips in an upward motion, massaging gently for one minute. Those with oily skin should focus on the T-zone. Rinse off.
Use a mask to close your pores. “If you have dry skin, use a thick face cream as your base and add a few drops of lavender essential oil,” Anderson says. Oily types can make a mask from dry oatmeal and an egg white. Once you attain a consistency that is sticky, apply evenly to the face and leave on for 15 minutes. Your last step is toner, which seals your pores. Anderson makes her astringent by mixing 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice with two teaspoons cold water. “Pure witch hazel or apple cider vinegar
Choosing the right fitness facility the club right means more ✓ Getting incentive to work out regularly What’s the ideal fitness facility for you? It’s a combination of the staff, the programs, members and physical environment. Most places will be happy to give you a tour. Ask to see the entire layout. 1. Before you are allowed to work out, does someone give you a health screening form to fill out, ask you questions about your health (past or present injuries or illnesses) or find out if you are under a doctor’s care? A health screening will inform the instructors, trainers
and management of any injuries, illnesses or limitations that you may have. 2. Is there adequate room for the number of members who want to work out? 3. Does the aerobics room have a floor that provides shock absorption? Ask if the floor was designed to reduce shock. The greater the shock absorption, the more protective the floor is. This can help prevent injuries. 4. Is there the type of weight training and cardiovascular
equipment you want to use? Do you want to use weight machines or free weights? Do you like cycles or treadmills? Look for equipment that interests you. 5. Is all equipment properly cleaned and maintained? You want to make sure that the equipment is maintained so that it will work when you want to use it. Clean equipment promotes good hygiene. 6. Does the facility carry liability insurance? — IDEA Health & Fitness Inc.
Need a facial or nail care? Then head for the kitchen : By Jessica Yadegaran on a cotton ball works as well,” she says. “So does plain old ice water.” The true last step? Sunscreen. Never leave home without applying it to your face. Nail care You can do this simple system as often as you like. First, clean up your nails. Clip and shape them, making sure to file one corner at a time and even out in the middle. “Do not file straight across because that splits the nail,” Anderson says. Make a conditioning treatment by using a few drops of olive oil or your favorite essential oil. Saturate cotton balls with the oil and press against each of your nails. Wrap your finger with the cotton ball and cover in tin foil. Leave them on for five minutes, then remove. Wipe clean.
Don’t push back cuticles unless you know how. “The white moon shape area, the lunula, is where the nail grows from,” Anderson explains. “If you push it down too far, you can damage your nail growth. You can also get a lot of hangnails.” The best way to make your nails look great is to buff them. Get a soft buffer and run it several times along the entire surface of your nails in circular motions. Apply a base coat, two coats of your favorite polish and follow with a top coat. To pamper dry skin in winter, add a few drops of olive oil to body lotion and apply to hands and feet at night. Put on socks and mittens and go to bed. In the morning, your hands and feet will be soft and smooth.
Hair cut Aguallo is not a big advocate of cutting one’s own hair. But if you have to do it, keep a low maintenance haircut that’s one length, she says. Bangs can be easy to trim at home when it’s absolutely necessary. Invest in a quality pair of shears. To cut, wet hair and comb all bangs forward. Gather in the middle and decide where you want them to hit when they are dry. Cut across carefully and slowly. Touch up when dry. Aguallo recommends a bias bang — which can be pushed off to either side — because it falls evenly both ways.
— Media NewsGroup