Tag Archives: balanced life

Are You Always Late? Be on Time Now!

clock-running-lateI am often running late. In fact, I was born a week late. I have good intentions. I want to be on time. Yet, it always seems I’m running 5 to 10 minutes behind schedule.

Most people don’t like to be late. Being late may actually be a habit you’ve developed over time. Think about your history and patterns. Are you late to everything or just some things? What causes you to run behind? How do you feel when you’re late?

If you truly want to make a change, you can overcome lateness. Here are 9 steps you can take to be on time:

Make a To-Do List Every Day
Each morning, make a list of things you want to accomplish that day. Try to create a realistic list, so you’re more likely to achieve your goals. Arrange tasks in the order of importance, urgency or time of day. Cross off each item when you complete it. I actually like to write out my to-do list the night before so that I don’t worry about it while I’m trying to go to sleep. Plus, I’m more awake and function better at night than I do first thing in the morning.

Schedule Events on Your Calendar
Keep a desk calendar, day planner or use a smartphone app to keep track of appointments or activities. Getting into the habit of keeping track of events on calendar can help you become more organized and prepared for what you need to do each day.

Check Your Calendar 3 Times a Day
Make it habit to check your calendar at the same times each day. It might make sense for you to review it first thing in the morning, after lunch and towards the end of the day. While writing things down may help you remember, be sure to check our calendar regularly to ensure you’re on track.

Be a Time Pessimist
Assume that everything will take a little longer than you anticipate. This approach will keep you on time, or even make you a little early. People who run early tend to be more calm, organized and ready to handle whatever comes up.

Plan to Be Early
Late people always aim to arrive right on time, but that leaves no room for contingency. You may know that you can drive to work in exactly 15 minutes. Yet if you get stuck in traffic due to an accident or have to run back for important papers you forgot at home, it makes it impossible to be on time. You should plan to be 15 minutes early to everything.

Welcome the Wait
If being early freaks you out, look at it as an opportunity to have some down time. Bring a magazine or book to read, call a friend for a few minutes, or go over your schedule for the week. If you make it an activity you will enjoy, you’ll want to be early.

Prioritize
You may be late simply because you don’t have time to do everything. The only way to change this is to cut back on what you’re doing. Figure out what’s most important and make it a priority to check these items off your list.

Be Honest with Yourself
Why are you letting yourself be late? Why aren’t you controlling your time? Part of being on time is acknowledging why you’re late. You’re letting your schedule run your life. To be on schedule is to plan the life you want to live and then create a plan to make it happen.

Make Organization a Daily Habit
You can make a change that will help you achieve a more balanced life. You can become more organized and create a habit of being on time.

9 Simple Ways to Handle Stress

relaxOur lives are filled with stress. It’s impossible to avoid. You’re already late for an appointment and get slowed down by road construction. Your boss dumped a proposal on you that’s due tomorrow. Your schedule is hectic, and you need to be in two places at once.

Research shows that some stress can be good for you. However, if you’re dealing with persistent – long-term stress, such as a sick parent or a demanding boss, it can actually lead to a variety of health issues.

Here are 9 simple and practical ways to copy with stress in your daily life:

Enjoy some fresh air
Make it a point to get outside every day. Research shows that vitamin D from sunlight can elevate your mood by releasing feel-good serotonin. Taking in the sights, sounds and smells around you will take your mind off your worries or frustrations. Even feeling the wind on your face can lift your spirits.

Take a walk
When you’re stressed, it’s easy to turn to bad habits to make you feel better, such as a candy, cigarettes or caffeine. Next time you’re feeling anxious, go for a quick stroll. Studies show that even 10 minutes of exercise can provide a mental boost. Better yet, climb a few flights of stairs. Climbing stairs requires you to pay more attention to what you’re doing and helps vent frustrations.

Rely on rituals
You probably already have rituals that help you relax, and you may not even realize it. For example, you may read the newspaper as you eat breakfast, listen to music while you clean or take a bath before going to bed. Our bodies naturally crave routines, so focusing on regular rituals can help you relax physically and mentally. If you’re feeling stressed, make sure you stick to your regular routines.

Put down the junk food
Do you handle stress by eating? In hectic times, you may choose comfort foods, such as refined carbs or sugary snacks. You will most likely experience a sugar crash, leaving you feeling tired and sluggish. Extra calories can also quickly add up to extra pounds. The next time you’re feeling anxious, make sure you have healthy snacks on hand, such as fresh fruits, vegetables or a handful of nuts.

Get out of your head
Stress likes to mess with your mind. Do you ever get stuck in an ongoing loop of negative thoughts or playing back conversations in your head? A great way to get out of your own head is to engage in fun activities that put your focus on your hands or body. For instance, you can cook, knit or crochet, climb a rock wall or play a sport. When you do something creative or an engaging activity, you fall into a rhythmic pattern and your brain helps you relax and feel more grounded.

Visualize calm
Find a quiet area and create a happy place for a few minutes each day. Just sit still, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Clear you mind and concentrate on thinking about nothing stressful. It’s harder than you think! Find a comforting and calming image that works for you and helps you relax. Read more about relaxation techniques.

Focus on the present
It’s easy to get sucked into worrying over things that have already happened or imagining what could happen in the future. Let go of thoughts about the past and future, and focus on the present moment. Be aware of where you are and what’s happening right now. Think about how the air feels on your skin, the sound of your kids laughing or a friend telling you about their day. Being mindful of the present can help you let go of stressing about the past and future.

Express your gratitude
Take a few moments each day to express gratitude. It can be as simple as going over the good things that happened that day before you go to sleep. You can write your feelings in a journal. Or, you can let friends and family know you are grateful for them. Research has shown that showing more gratitude releases hormones that make you feel good and lowers stress levels.

Connect with your spiritual side
Spirituality can boost happiness in times of stress. Many religious groups and native tribes use prayer beads to guide their spiritual practice. Having something to hold while communicating with a higher spirit can provide comfort and routine. Prayer can also help you pass your worries over to God and give you peace.

Learning how to cope with stress on a daily basis can help you improve your overall health and well-being. Take the time each day to acknowledge stress and find ways – like the tips above – to help you let it go and live a more balanced life.

Top 9 Exercise Excuses and How to Overcome Them

exerciseI don’t like to exercise. I will probably never truly enjoy exercising. However, I know that regular physical activity is an important part of living a balanced life. Exercise is good for the mind, body and soul.

I know that I should work out. I have discovered that the reasons we don’t exercise may not be what we really think. What is really preventing you from sticking to your exercise routine?

Here are the top 9 excuses why you don’t exercise and how you can overcome them:

“I’m not motivated.”
This is probably the most common excuse. Many of us think that lack of motivation is why we can’t stick to an exercise routine. If we wanted it enough, we would make it happen. However, that’s not true. If you wish you exercised more, then you are motivated to exercise. Something else is stopping you. It may be one of the excuses below.

“I don’t like going to the gym.”
Many of us are uncomfortable going to the gym and exercising in front of other people. There’s the show-offs, the machine-hoggers, and the grunters. It may be a matter of finding a gym that fits your needs and personality. You can also set up your own home gym and avoid the crowds, or exercise outside.

“It’s too time consuming.”
You may think you need to exercise for 30 or 45 minutes at a time to get any results. If you get hung up on a number, then you’ll feel like you failed if you don’t reach that goal. Maybe you’re only able to take a 10 minute walk at lunch. It counts! Then, you play soccer in the yard with the kids for 15 minutes in the evening. Maybe the next day you hit the treadmill for an hour. If you avoid putting expectations on your exercise, you will feel good every time you do something active.

“I look bad in exercise clothes.”
Even super-models have things they don’t like about their bodies. You may wish your belly didn’t bulge quite so much or worry about your upper arms flapping when you jog. You may have bad memories from gym class as a kid. We all have body issues. At some point, you have to own and be happy with what you have. The important thing is to be healthy and have the satisfaction of knowing that you’re taking care of your body.

“I don’t want to give up my free time.”
You may think you’re too busy to exercise. Or, you may feel that the time you spend exercising will take away from time you could spend doing things you enjoy. If you make exercise a priority, you can find a way to fit it into your life right now. If you wait for your schedule to open up, it will never happen.

“I am too out of shape.”
When you haven’t been exercising regularly, you know that it’s going to be difficult when you first start out. You’ll be out of breath, fatigued and sore the next day. Start out slow and work your way up. Set small goals for yourself and then create more challenging goals as things get easier.

“It costs too much.”
You can spend a lot of money on fitness. If you enlist a personal trainer, stock up on designer workout clothes or buy multiple exercise machines, it can add up. You can skip the expensive activities and stick to a budget.

“I’m not losing any weight.”
Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is an important part of living a balanced life. However, if you’re only focused on weight loss, you may miss out on the other great benefits of exercising. Regular physical activity decreases your risk of many diseases, increases your life span, improves energy and helps you sleep. Focus on achieving fitness goals, such as jogging a mile or biking 5 miles.

“It hurts.”
Exercise can be uncomfortable when you start out or if you challenge yourself to step it up. However, exercise doesn’t have to be painful. Make sure you stretch before and after exercising. Warm up slowly and gradually increase your intensity over time. While a little soreness is okay, if you feel like you can’t breathe or become overly fatigued, slow down to a more comfortable pace.

I will probably always have a love / hate relationship with exercise. Yet, physical activity is key to creating a healthy lifestyle and achieving a more balanced life. The important thing is to find something you enjoy and keep moving!

9 Quick Tips to Organize Your Life

7282552_origI used to be organized. Then I got married, had three kids and somewhere along the way I lost my ability to remember things, find stuff and efficiently manage my time.

Most people are not born organized. They cultivate healthy habits that help them become more organized. A big part of creating a more balanced life is getting organized and finding a routine that allows you to achieve your goals.

Here are 9 great ways you can live a more organized – and balanced – life.

Organize for 15 minutes each day
It seems like the clutter at my house multiplies over night. If you spend 15 minutes each day organizing something, you can stay ahead of the stuff that piles up. It could mean sorting the mail or going through a pile of important papers that need to be handled. You can throw the mystery foods out of the refrigerator. Just 15 minutes of organizing a day can make a huge difference over time.

Choose the 3 most important tasks
I am a big believer in the daily to-do list. I tend to forget what I need to accomplish, and it seems more manageable when I see it on paper. On the downside, I might end up with 10 things on my list. At the top of your list, write down the three most important tasks that need to get done for the day. Everything else will typically fall into place after that.

Write things down
Trying to remember things will not help you stay more organized. And if you’re like me, my memory seems to get worse with every year. Write down everything. Make a list of birthdays, meetings, groceries, holiday gifts, and other things you need to remember.

Create a family information center
I feel like every day is a logistics nightmare, trying to figure out how to get everyone where they need to be each day. I have a white board on the back of our door that leads to the garage. The whole family knows that this is the place to see what’s going on. Each family member has their own color of marker, and we write down meetings, dentist appointments, school activities, and sport practices and games.

Make schedules and deadlines
Organized people don’t waste time. They make schedules for the day and the week. They make deadlines and set goals – and stick to them! You can plan out how to declutter your home, the steps you need to take to go on vacation, or how you’re going to move up in your career.

Do one thing at a time
I am a big believer in uni-tasking. It seems to be human nature to want to multi-task. However, you’re not really multi-tasking, but switching from one thing to another very quickly. Concentrate on one project at a time, and you’ll find that you actually get more done and probably do it better.

Avoid procrastinating
When I was younger, I was the kid who turned in my homework assignments before the due date. I have lost that ability over the years. The longer you put something off, the more difficult it can be to get done. To create a less stressful and demanding life, organize and accomplish tasks as soon as you can. Getting things done as soon as possible will lift a weight off of you and free up time to do other things.

Have less stuff
As a whole, Americans like their stuff. However, we could all learn to live without all of the material possessions. I have more clothes and shoes than I ever wear. I probably only use about half of the gadgets and cookware I have in my kitchen. Make it a point to purge the unnecessary stuff in your life. Avoid the temptation to pick up a bargain or buy things you don’t need because they’re the newest and greatest trend.

Take control of your life
Make your electronics and organization methods work for you not the other way around. There are many tools and technologies you can take advantage of to help you get more done and be more efficient.

Progress and change take time. It’s hard to change habits, because they’re habits. You can create a more organized life if you’re willing to work at it. You can cultivate healthy habits that will allow you to be more productive and organized!

 

10 Habits That Are Zapping Your Energy

too-tired-1752-mAre you tired of being tired all the time? That’s how I’ve felt for the past few weeks. I feel like I’m slogging through the days and fighting to stay awake.

It comes as no surprise to me that many of our habits that can drain our energy are also the same habits that cause us to feel like our lives are out of balance. We need to get back to the basic foundation blocks of living a balanced life.

Feeling tired not only robs you of your productivity and pleasure, it can also make you no fun to be around. The good news is that fixing your fatigue and lack of ambition may be as easy as making a few, simple lifestyle changes.

Here are 10 ways you can change your habits and put more pep in your step and energy back in your day:

Drink more water
We all know we need to drink more water, but how much to drink is more difficult to determine. Even if you’re not dehydrated, you can still experience the negative effects of not drinking enough water. Being tired and cranky can be a sign that you need to drink more. Water flushes out toxins, keeps tissues hydrated and increases your energy level. If it’s difficult for you to drink water all day, mix it up with 100% fruit juices, nonfat milk or unsweetened tea (preferably herbal or decaffeinated).

Eat smart
If you feel that your energy ebbs and flows throughout the day, it may make sense for you to eat five or six small meals a day. This strategy can help your blood-sugar level remain constant and give you a steady amount of fuel all day. Just remember that you still need to maintain the same calorie intake for the day, simply spread it out over smaller meals. You will find that your energy level stays more balanced.

Cut the sugar
While sugar gives you a quick energy boost, it also drops you back down hard when it runs out. Then, you start craving that energy high again. Along with eating small meals a day, try to avoid the sugar rush and keep healthy snacks on hand. By combining a few ounces of protein with complex carbohydrates, you can keep your blood sugar more stable and boost your energy levels. For instance, snack on whole grain crackers with low-fat cheese, fresh fruit, lean turkey or chicken, or nonfat yogurt.

Watch the caffeine
Caffeine increases your energy levels, but it also takes away more energy than it’s giving. Like eating sugar or big meals, caffeine will boost your energy, but too much can cause a rebound effect and lead to fatigue. The best option is to quit caffeine by gradually reducing your intake However, if you can’t cut out caffeine completely, at least stop drinking caffeine in the afternoon and evenings.

Get more sleep
The need to drink caffeine during the day can also be the result of not getting enough sleep at night. Getting at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep at the same time every night will put you on track for being rested and alert. Make it a habit to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. You can strengthen your sleep patterns and get a better night’s sleep.

Lose the clutter
Being disorganized or having clutter in your home or workplace can make you feel lethargic, as well as lacking in enthusiasm and optimism. Trying to remember where things are and searching for lost or misplaced things can be a huge drain both emotionally and physically. It’s important to cope with clutter so you can be more productive and quickly move on to doing more fun things.

Stop stressing
Trust me, I know it’s easier said than done. Conflict and stress can quickly deplete your energy and rob you of your ambition. Managing your stress levels is the best option. When you make time to take care of your inner self, you will find that you are able recharge and boost your energy. Relaxation takes different forms for different people. For you, it may mean sitting in silence, taking a walk and appreciating nature, working out or taking a bubble bath.

Move your body
With fitness, there are actually two ways to zap your energy. First, you can simply not exercise. Physical activity can energize us physically, emotionally and mentally. Without it, we are naturally more sluggish. Exercise also releases endorphins that make you feel good and enhance your mood. On the other hand, too much exercise can also cause problems. Over-training depletes your energy reserves, breaks down muscle, and makes you weaker not stronger. Find a balance by creating a healthy, fitness routine.

Say no
Do you say yes to everything? Spending time doing things you don’t really want to do can be another energy drainer. Think about how you spend your time each day. Do you do things that fuel you? Or do you spend your time on activities that deplete you? If you raise your awareness of where your energy is going, you can learn to say no to the things that deplete your energy. Then, energy can flow back into your life.

Make time for yourself
One of the ways to bring energy back in your life is to make time for yourself. Do things that make you happy and energize you. For instance, read a good book, go on a date night with your spouse, spend time with your kids, hang out with friends, focus on the good things, meditate or get a massage.

You can keep your energy levels in balance by creating more healthy habits that also will bring your life as a whole into balance. You can regain and maintain your missing energy!

9 Ways to Create a More Balanced Life

Are you overworked? Stressed? Tired? Feeling grouchy and unhappy? If you’re out of balance, you will feel it in every aspect of your life – from your mental and emotional well-being to physical fitness, relationships and stress levels.

You can achieve and maintain balance in your life. A well-balanced person has a greater ability to focus their attention and energy in order to be more productive and live a more meaningful life.

Here are 9 ways to make little changes that can help you achieve a more balanced life:

Turn it off
When the weekend comes (or when you have days off work), disconnect. Put the phone down, turn off the computer and ignore the emails or texts. It’s important to give your body, mind and soul a rest. You should be able to set aside two consecutive days per week with no work at all. These two days will leave you refreshed and recharged for the next week of work.

Be fully present
By shutting completely down from work, you can also spend more time with friends and family. You can spend more time connecting with them and have fun together. You can be more physically and emotionally present in their lives. If you’re thinking about work or doing work while you’re together, you are missing out on opportunities to create lasting memories.

Simplify
If your life is overflowing, you will never be able to achieve balance and manage it all. Say no to everything that isn’t either essential or doesn’t add value or enjoyment to your life. If you’re working more than 40 hours a week, it may be time to examine your job and see if you can manage your time to get done faster. You may also want to evaluate what you’re doing for a living if it monopolizes your time, causes chronic stress or isn’t bringing you joy.

Connect with others
Your relationships matter. In fact, you may even live longer when you have strong, healthy relationships. Make time for your significant other, kids and friends. Set a date night with your spouse or partner. Take time to truly connect with your kids, especially if you have multiple children. Talk to them on the way to school, sporting events or practices. Spend a few minutes talking about their day at dinner or when getting ready for bed. Be there for your friends and family, and you will all benefit more than you realize.

Take a walk
Take a walk and pay attention to what’s going on around you. Enjoy nature or people watch. Simply take some quiet time each day to appreciate the good things and enjoy life. It’s also good to get moving and increase your heart. Here are more benefits of exercising.

Get creative
Take a class, learn to paint or try something new. Read a new book that sparks your interest, watch a movie or listen to music. Find what interests you and makes you happy – and then do it more! Even better, find things to do with friends and family and strengthen your relationships at the same time. You are likely to end up smiling and laughing, which are also good for your health.

Watch your health
Your physical health affects the quality of your life in so many ways. Make it a habit to get yourself moving. Find fitness and exercise routines that inspire you to do more. At the same time, pay attention to what you eat. A healthy, balanced diet will give you more energy and can improve your mood and concentration.

Treat yourself
Get a facial or a pedicure, or even splurge on a massage. You can also find inexpensive ways to treat yourself to a little fun. Have a glass of wine or a cup of your favorite coffee or tea. Light a scented candle that smells wonderful to you. Snuggle up on the couch with your kids, a blanket and a movie. Just be sure to make the time to enjoy the little things!

Pay it forward
You can start out small and simply make an effort to perform one act of kindness a day. Maybe it’s opening the door for someone whose hands are full, or letting the person with only a few items cut in front of you in the check-out line. You can also look for opportunities to do something more meaningful to you, such as tutoring kids, volunteering at the hospital or fostering animals. You’ll find that you benefit as much as those you help.

It’s a balancing act to keep all aspects of your life on the right path. Take a few minutes each week to evaluate how you’re doing. If you find that one area needs work, make a plan to correct it. Living a balanced life is a life-long journey!

How to Declutter Your Home Room by Room

home-interiors-5-347361-mDoes your house have clutter hotspots? My house definitely does. Our entry way is a dumping ground for coats, shoes and backpacks, and then everything else gets put on the kitchen counter.

I blame my husband and three kids, but I am responsible for the clutter, too. Eventually, I reach a point where I’ve had enough. It happened this weekend. I was trying to find papers for work and a receipt so that I could return items. I spent 45 minutes searching – I found the work papers and finally gave up on the receipt.

I was inspired to make a dent in the chaos. To achieve a balanced life, your physical “stuff” needs to be in balance, too. It’s important to have everything in its place, toss the junk, and find a new home for those things you no longer need.

While it seems overwhelming to declutter your entire house, it is much more manageable if you take it room by room. Here’s a list of areas to start decluttering and take it one step at a time:

Entry way/ front closet
When everyone in my family walks in the door from the garage, they dump coats, shoes, purses and backpacks. Take back your entry or foyer:

  • Use hooks to hang coats on the wall. Add a lower level of hooks to store purses or backpacks.
  • Put in a bench or attractive boxes or baskets to hold hats, gloves and extra shoes.
  • Incorporate a small table with bowls or baskets to hold keys, wallets or other small items.

Kitchen and pantry
I think the stuff in my cabinets multiplies while I’m not looking. At one point, I probably had 25 coffee cups. I’m the only person in my house who drinks coffee! Cut through the kitchen clutter:

  • Sort through dishes and get rid of those you never use. You don’t need 10 travel mugs or 4 different styles of drinking glasses. Pare it down to what you really need.
  • Cut down on the plastic containers and casserole dishes. Go through your plasticware and get rid of cracked and broken items as well as mismatched lids or bottoms.
  • Put away the appliances you only use on rare occasions. Just remember where you put them!
  • Clear out the extra cleaning supplies, get rid of what you don’t use or consolidate containers or boxes where you can.

My pantry is always a mess. I straighten it up and then the next time I buy groceries, I just shove everything on the shelves. Or, someone in my family can’t find an item, and they jumble up the entire pantry searching for it. Here are some tips to make your pantry work:

  • Toss canned goods, boxes and spices that are out of date or you never use.
  • Group your foods by type or use on the shelves. Then it will be easier to find the items you need.
  • Do an inventory before you go grocery shopping so you don’t over buy an item. I have 6 jars of spaghetti sauce in my pantry right now.

Living room
Clutter – like people – tends to gather in the living or family room. Here are some tips to keep your living room picked up:

  • Get rid of old magazines and newspapers.
  • Knick knacks can add to a cluttered feel. Unless they have sentimental value or lift your spirits when you’re in the room, clear out the odds and ends.
  • Put kids games or toys in a cabinet or storage area.
  • Get rid of DVDs, video tapes and CDs or other collections you rarely use.

Bathrooms
I sometimes wonder how we fit so much stuff in one of the smallest rooms in our house. Bathrooms hold so many health and beauty items. Here’s how to keep them organized:

  • Toss out old or out-of-date medicines and put like items beside each other.
  • Combine containers when you can. For instance, put all the Band-Aids in one box.
  • Consolidate partially full bottles of shampoo and soap and limit each person to one open bottle at a time.
  • Go through make-up and throw out what you don’t use or is over 6 months old.
  • Arrange items in totes or baskets in the bathroom cabinets.

Garage or basement
Garages and basements tend to be where items that don’t have a home go. Due to their size, these spaces may take more time, so you may want to set aside a few days or even a weekend to tackle them.

  • Be serious about sorting out the junk. Donate or throw out items you don’t want or won’t use again.
  • Use shelves and hooks to hold items you regularly need.
  • Store items by type or use – for instance, group gardening and lawn tools, swimming pool supplies, holiday decorations and sports equipment in their own areas.
  • Toss old paint, cans of oil, newspapers, boxes, etc. Check the rules in your area for throwing out and recycling items.
  • Go through boxes and purge what you don’t need.
  • Get rid of tools you don’t use or have duplicates of.

Junk drawer
I love my junk drawer. Really, I love it. I recently renovated my kitchen and wanted to put in a dishwasher. For a while, I was afraid I would have to give up the cabinet that held the junk drawer in order to fit in the dishwasher. I was extremely stressed about losing the junk space. Keep your junk drawer, but clear it out regularly:

  • Take everything out and sort it into piles. Get rid of things that you no longer need or know what they belong to. Cut down on extras – I once had at least 100 bread ties in my drawer.
  • Buy a plastic tray with dividers or use small plastic containers to group and organize items.

Paper clutter
Mail tends to pile up. You may put it in a basket, stack it in neat piles or hide it in a drawer. However, when it gets away from you, you may forget to pay the bills or miss an important event. Clear as much paper clutter as you can:

  • Get and pay your bills online.
  • Rather than keep the whole magazine or catalog, tear out the pages you want to keep. Or, take a photo with your phone.
  • Create an area to organize your papers. Put up a pocket wall hanger and make folders to keep track of any bills or paperwork that needs to be filled out. Put papers related to your kids in another folder. Use a folder for things that are urgent so you know to check it frequently.

You can conquer the clutter. Simply take it one room at a time and organize things in a way that makes the most sense for your household. When you finish one room or area, go on to the next. You can quickly enjoy the rewards of a clutter-free home!

9 Ways to Make Lifestyle Changes That Stick

sticky-notes-and-pen-695000-mDid you make any New Year’s resolutions for 2014? Were you able to accomplish your goals?

As 2014 is quickly coming to an end, I’ve been thinking about my progress in living a more balanced life. I still stay up too late. I am working on a regular exercise routine, but I do lapse from time to time. I could definitely do a better job of managing stress – I worry entirely too much. I have been eating healthier, although I still enjoy my favorite junk foods.

So, how can we make lifestyle changes that last? Here are 9 ways to make changes that stick:

Think big
What do you want to change? You can create an overall road map for your journey to balanced living. Make a list of the lasting changes you want to accomplish. For instance, I need to get more sleep. There is so much research that backs up the importance of getting plenty of sleep. I also want to maintain my exercise habits. I would like to cook meals at home more regularly so that my whole family can develop healthier eating habits.

One thing at a time
All those goals sound overwhelming when you consider doing it all at once. That’s why you should pick one aspect of your life to change at at time. For example, I want to work on better eating habits for my family and myself. To improve my chances of success, I need to focus on making this change first before starting on additional ones.

Start small
Now that I have my goal of healthier eating habits, I can break that down into ways to achieve that goal. If I just say that we’re going to eat better, it will be difficult to accomplish. Start by making a plan and creating some steps. First, I’m going to make a list of meals I would like to prepare over the next week. Then, I can put together a grocery list of supplies I need to buy, adding in some healthy snack foods. Now, when I’m feeling overwhelmed and tired, I will have a list of meals I can make and the ingredients on hand.

Set goals
For more complex lifestyle changes, you can set additional goals to keep you on the right track. For instance, if you want to get your finances in order, you may want to set several goals to accomplish this task. You can start by reviewing your financial situation. Then, you can create a budget that will, in turn, help you set goals to pay off credit card debt, reduce your mortgage, and save for retirement.

Get a buddy
Knowing that someone is on your side can help you make changes that last. It can be your spouse or partner who gives you encouragement or works with you to achieve a goal. You can enlist a financial planner to help you put your finances in order. A personal trainer can help you develop an exercise routine and set goals so that you stay on track.

Share your plans
It’s okay to tell your friends and family about your plans. Having support can help you feel more confident about accomplishing your goals. Sharing your challenges and successes can make the work easier and may help others feel inspired to make changes themselves!

Reward yourself
Don’t wait until you’ve achieved your final goal to reward yourself. Rewards, however small, can help motivate you to keep at it. For short-term goals, set simple rewards. For instance, if I cook healthy meals for a week, I can buy a pair a shoes. Or, if I meet my exercise goals for a month, I can treat myself to manicure.

Be prepared for lapses
You will slip up. Everyone has lapses when trying to build healthy habits. You will eat that brownie a la mode. You’ll have a cold and skip your workout routine for a week. It doesn’t mean you failed. The only way you fail is if you give up. After a lapse, forgive yourself, learn from your mistakes and move on.

Do it again!
Once you feel like you’ve developed a healthy habit that will stick, start on the next lifestyle change you want to make. Finding a healthy, balanced life is a work in progress. Keep at it!

7 Tips to Finding the Best Workout

exercise-at-home-901909-mI have a hard time getting into an exercise routine. And then the next thing I know, I’m in more of a rut than a routine.

It’s important to find a workout routine that will fit your lifestyle and personality. From my own experience, if you try to create an exercise program that doesn’t match your skills or isn’t something you enjoy doing, you won’t stick with it.

Here are 7 questions to ask yourself as you design a workout routine:

What is your goal?
Before you plan a routine, you need to decide why you are working out. What is your specific goal? Do you want to build muscle, lose weight, increase strength and endurance, or get toned?

To lose weight: You need a high-intensity workout. You can try Zumba, spinning or running.
To build muscle and tone: You need strength training, such as kettlebells.
To get more endurance: You need a hardcore burn for your whole body, and can try boxing boot camp or kick boxing class.

What is your fitness level?
If you sit on the couch with the remote, you probably need to start with a workout that’s different than someone who has been running 5K marathons. Decide if you are beginner, intermediate or advanced. With just about any type of exercise routine, you can tailor it to your fitness level. For instance, if you’re a beginner, you can start out walking and then work up to jogging. If you’re advanced and already run 5K’s, you may want to try a half marathon or triathlons.

How often can you workout?
We are all busy. Finding a time to fit in your workout can often be the biggest challenge. Decide when is the best time for you to exercise. Some people like to get up and workout early in the morning. Others find that after work is good time to wind down before going home. I personally have found that right before lunch is a good time for me. Then, decide how many days a week and which days you prefer to workout. If you can make exercise a regular event on your schedule, you are more likely to turn it into a routine.

Where will you exercise?
Some people like the gym. They like going somewhere specifically to workout. You may have more access to equipment and get more variety at a gym or fitness center. Others like to be outside and go to a park or just run or walk in their neighborhood. I personally like to be at home. I work from my home so I am more likely to fit in a workout if I do it at home.

What do you enjoy?
I am more inclined to workout if I enjoy doing it. As much as I hate my treadmill, I do like the ease of just going to my basement and hopping on for a walk or run. I also like playing team sports, such as volleyball, softball and basketball. I have fun playing in the yard with my kids. I pass a volleyball with my girls and play baseball with my son. Sometimes we do some basketball scrimmage or just throw a frisbee. All of these activities get the heart pumping and incorporate muscles that I may not use on a daily basis.

What is your personality?
Your personality can impact the type of workout routine that will be best for you. If you like to socialize, you may want to go to a gym, attend exercise classes or get together with a group of friends. You may need someone to yell at you to motivate you. You might thrive in a boot camp setting or having a personal trainer to challenge you. Most of the time, I am a loner and like to do my own thing. I also like to keep things the same. I like to know what to expect and not have to put a lot of thought into deciding what my workout will be each day.

How can you mix it up?
However, your routine may get stale or just need to be shaken up every once in a while. You may need a challenge or to get motivated again. Here are few ways to mix things up:

  • 7-minute workout: You work harder than you thought possible and push yourself to the max.
  • Sprint triathlon: It’s a shorter version with a half-mile swim, 12-mile bike ride and 3-mile run.
  • Ballet barre class: You can take classes at a studio or follow a video at home.
  • Adult sport leagues: Show your team spirit and join a recreational league, such as tennis, volleyball, basketball, softball or even dodgeball.
  • Aerobic gaming: Get serious about video games with exergaming. Burn calories by dancing or boxing.
  • Hula hoop: Give hula hooping a whirl. Who knew this grade school fun could burn calories and raise your heart rate.

If you’re having trouble getting into an exercise routine, design a fitness program that will fit your goals and your lifestyle. You are more likely to keep on track and achieve more balance in all aspects of your life. You can make your workout routine fun and effective!

8 Tips to Prevent the Effects of Aging

hands-833821-mAs I notice more gray hairs and wrinkles, I worry about getting older. I recently glanced at myself when I passed a mirror and realized I could see a resemblance to my grandma. When did I get that old?

Aging is unavoidable. As morbid as it sounds, we are in the process of dying from the day we are born. Our genes are just not equipped to keep our bodies alive forever. One theory is that our ancestors lived short, dangerous lives. They passed on their genes to their children when they were young and fit. As a part of natural selection, the genes that counter the effects of aging were not all that important.

Even just a century ago, life spans were around 50 years. Today, the average life span has risen to over 77 years for men and almost 82 for women. Modern medicine and better healthcare have extended our lives, but aging is still inevitable.

First, let’s take a look at the common changes that are a normal part of the aging process.

Thinning hair and skin
Some of the first changes you may notice as you age happens with your hair and skin. Your hair turns gray, becomes more porous and starts to thin. Your skin loses its elasticity and becomes thin. Lines become more pronounced and muscles lose flexibility.

Shrinking bones and muscles
With age, your bones shrink in size and density. They become more weak and susceptible to fracture. You might get shorter. Muscles also lose strength and flexibility, and you may have trouble balancing.

Heart issues
Your heart rate slows down and your heart might become bigger. Your blood vessels and arteries become stiffer. Your heart has to pump harder to move blood through your body.

Failing eyes and ears
Your eyes produce fewer tears, the retina thins and the iris stiffens making the lens of your eye cloudy. At the same time, the walls of your auditory canal thins and the eardrum thickens. You may gradually experience hearing loss.

Slow digestion
The entire process of digestion slows down as we age. Your intestinal function diminishes causing digestion to slow down and bowel function to change. The muscles around the esophagus weaken. You may start to experience more acid reflux. Even your teeth shifting as you age can affect digestion.

Decreased metabolism
Your metabolism will slow down as you age, leading to weight gain and sluggishness. You may feel tired more quickly. Your body just isn’t as efficient at breaking down and using calories as it once was.

Memory problems
After about 30, your brain begins to lose neurons. As we age, the speed at which we process information slows down. Also, certain types of memory start to decline. For instance, you may have trouble recalling names or thinking of a particular word. But this has nothing to do with your ability to think or your normal mental functioning.

So, now that you’re completely freaked out by the process of aging, what can you do to prevent or slow down the affects of aging? Can you be doing more to live a long, healthy life? The answer is “Yes.”

Here are 8 tips for preventing or diminishing the effects of aging:

Get moving
We often talked about the importance of exercise in this blog. Cardiovascular exercise combined with strength training will rev up your metabolism and build muscle. You will control your weight and move more easily. Keeping the weight down can help stave off a whole host of chronic health problems and diseases.

Make healthy food choices
Nourish your body from the inside out. Get your nutrition from the kitchen rather than a pill. You need to eat fruits and vegetables every day to give you the antioxidants you need to fight disease. Good nutrition also aids in digestion and helps you maintain a healthy weight.

Drink water
Get six to eight glasses of water a day. When you feel thirsty, your cells are actually crying out for water. Your skin, bones, muscles, kidneys, digestion, metabolism and heart all depend on water to function properly.

Laugh
Laughing releases “feel good” endorphins that help boost immunity and reduce stress levels. Boisterous laughter expands blood vessels and improves blood flow. Laughing can improve your mood and overall outlook on life.

Get plenty of sleep
Sleep is extremely important to your overall well-being. Lack of sleep can make your more hungry, add to your stress and slow down your metabolism. A good night’s sleep can help you feel refreshed and ready to tackle the day. It can also improve your health and promote longevity.

Manage stress
Chronic stress can take a toll on your body as well as your mind and soul. It can impact your mood and relationships. Stress can be harmful to your heart and your health in general. When you’re stressed, you are less likely to stick to your healthy habits.

Be social
Spending time with friends and family can help ward off depression and stress. You are more likely to laugh and enjoy yourself. We need relationships to find balance, stay more physically active and stimulate our brains.

Sharpen the mind
Just like keeping your body active, it’s important to stimulate your mind. Read, work crossword puzzles, find new interests and hobbies or write in a journal. Your mind needs a good workout every day, too.

You have a choice in how your body ages. By adopting habits that lead to a more balanced life, you can have an impact on the aging process. Continue to make gradual changes until they become part of your lifestyle. You can create a healthier, longer life!