From time to time, I come across a website that I end up going back to again and again because it is so inspiring and has such great information. Being entertaining is a plus. One such site is http://www.youngernextyear.com/, which happens to be the companion site to one of my favorite books, Younger Next Year, by Chris Crowley and Henry Lodge, M.D. I have to admit I like the book’s very cool sub-title – How to Live Fit, Strong and Sexy Until You’re 80 and Beyond (80? Really?) The book promotes the idea, backed by evidence-based research, that we can turn back our biological clocks no matter what our age – by following a set of simple rules that include exercise, healthy eating, and staying engaged with the world around us. (There’s more but you have to go the site to find out.) There’s a book for men and one for women, and the website expands on all of it with inspiration, community forums, a blog, live events, and more. Plus, Chris Crowley is an entertaining writer. (Did I mention I like entertaining?) Check it out.
I don’t know where I heard this recently, but I knew immediately it fit for me: I am an extroverted introvert. You would never know I am an introvert to look at me, or see me in a group of people because, well, I appear extroverted. People who know me might describe me as outgoing - I do have a lot of friends and I genuinely like people. But I have learned that I need to have a certain amount of time on my own, otherwise I just don’t do well. I somehow don’t feel right. I used to think this was becausene I grew up as an only child. Maybe so. But I think it goes deeper than that. It is something fundamental to who I am, and always has been. Growing up, my favorite world was that of books and ideas – and still largely is. I love people, but I also love being alone. The first time I read Thoreau’s words, “I hae never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude,” I instantly liked the man. I find quiet and solitude nourishes me, in a way that nothing else does. And, since I know that about myself, I make it a priority to give myself that space on a pretty regular basis.
I recently heard a talk given by Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Cain is a former corporate lawyer, and describes herself as an introvert. She also notes that one-third of the population are introverts. Being an introvert can be difficult in this culture where being social, outgoing, popular, are looked on as the ideal. Cain, though, argues that introverts bring their own unique gifts and capabilities to the table and that some of the world’s most celebrated achievers have been introverts. In her words: Eleanor Roosevelt,
Rosa Parks, Gandhi — all these people described themselves as quiet and soft-spoken and even shy. And they all took the spotlight, even though every bone in their bodies was telling them not to. She goes on to point out that we all – extroverts and introverts – bring different strengths, abilities and ideas to the bigger picture of life, all of which are equally valuable and necessary.
In today’s hyper-communicative world, it may not seem quite as ok, socially speaking, to be an introvert. But I’ve learned to enjoy and embrace this part of me. Anyway, as Susan Cain says, “There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.” I like her, too.
Did you know that poor diet and lack of exercise account for more than 400,000 deaths in the U.S. annually? Or that adopting an exercise plan has been shown to improve outcomes in chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and coronary artery disease? Research proves that exercise has a role in the treatment and prevention of more than 40 diseases, including obesity, osteoporosis, and depression. It increases energy levels, lowers blood pressure, improves muscle tone and strength, and keeps you looking fit. It also reduces stress and anxiety, improves sleep, and boosts self-esteem. Regular exercise may be as close to a Fountain of Youth as we have. Yet studies show that only 30 percent of the population report engaging in physical activity regularly. If an active lifestyle benefits the body, being sedentary does the opposite, increasing the chances of becoming overweight and developing a chronic disease.
The case for exercise is hard to ignore. Add to that rising health care costs and an increasing emphasis on wellness and prevention, and the question becomes: Can we afford not to exercise? I talk to lots of people about their health and lifestyle concerns, and one of the main things I consistently hear is finding the time to fit in exercise. We all have busy lives – we work, we have families to take care of, and sometimes aging parents to tend to. We have numerous obligations both inside and outside the home. Yet some of us find the time to make exercise a part of our lives, while others don’t. What’s the difference? I believe part of the answer lies in our priorities. We make time for what is important to us. If you really want to make regular exercise a part of your life, you will find a way. Sometimes the hardest part is getting started. Once you get into a routine, and give it a fair trial, exercise can and does become a habit.
How much exercise do you need? If you are currently inactive, any increase in physical activity is good for you. The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that healthy adults get a minimum of 2-1/2 hours per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or a minimum of 1-1/4 hours per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or a combination of the two. If you translate 2-1/2 hours of moderately intense activity into a weekly plan, this could mean 30 minutes of brisk walking 5 days a week. Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities at least two days a week. You can break down the 2-1/2 hours over the course of a week however you like. Make your exercise plan work for you so that it becomes a part of your routine.
If you’re healthy and ready to adopt an exercise program, here are a few ideas to get started:
- Lose the excuses. Seriously. “I don’t have time” or “I’m too tired today, I’ll do it tomorrow” isn’t going to cut it anymore. The time you set aside for that 30 minute walk/jog, or strength training session has to be non-negotiable. You have to be responsible for your time and how you choose to use it. Notice I use the word “choose.” Deciding to take responsibility for your health and making exercise part of your life is a choice that you make. The philosopher, Wolfgang von Goethe, said, “We always have time if we will but use it aright.”
- Slow and steady really does win the race. Don’t set out trying to run 3 miles your first morning. A mistake that people often make when beginning an exercise program is starting out too fast. If you have been inactive for a while, it is particularly important to give your body time to adapt. Start with 10 to 15 minutes of aerobic activity daily, and add 5 minutes each week until you are up to 30 minutes 5 days a week.
- Studies show that individuals who exercise in the mornings are more successful in maintaining an exercise program. This is because if you exercise first thing in the morning, you are less likely to get sidetracked as the day goes on. Put your exercise clothes and shoes out the night before so they are ready when you wake up. You may need to get to sleep a half-hour early, so you can get up to exercise but once you get in the habit, it can be a great way to start your day. On the days you plan to workout, have your gym bag packed and ready to go. Set yourself up for success!
- Work exercise into your life in a way that works for you. This way you will be more likely to stick with it over the long haul. It’s fine to break up your activity into smaller bursts, as long as you sustain the activity for at least 10 minutes. If you are someone who tends to be more social, having a scheduled time to walk with a friend or your spouse might be the perfect answer for you.
- Schedule exercise into your weekly calendar, just as you would any other activity. I myself have done this forever. This accomplishes two things. First, you will have the time blocked out at the beginning of the week, so you know what you are going to be doing. Second, this will give you a record of what you have done and the progress you are making. It can be a great feeling to look back and realize you started out with a half-mile walk, and are up to walking/jogging 3 miles a day.
- Maintaining a wellness lifestyle is a marathon, not a sprint. (I am not sure if that pun was intended or not, but you get the idea.) Keep the big picture in mind: you, strong, fit and healthy – for life.
Sleep is one of the best things you can do for your health, yet millions of Americans report being regularly sleep-deprived. Without the proper amount of restful sleep, you can’t be at your best. Sleep gives your body the time it needs to restore itself when you are well, and heal itself when you are not. Your immune system benefits from a good night’s rest. A lack of proper sleep over time has been shown to be a factor in heart attacks, high blood pressure, and depression. In recent years, research has even linked chronic sleep deprivation to weight gain. Researchers have discovered that how much you sleep can affect hormonal activity tied to your appetite – specifically, the hormones leptin and ghrelin. Both can influence appetite and studies show that production of these may be influenced by how much or how little we sleep.
Don’t you always feel and look better after a good night’s sleep? I find everything I do seems to go better when I feel well rested. Getting enough sleep on a regular basis is vital to your well-being, so I’ve put together some suggestions for how to make restful sleep part of your lifestyle more consistently.
- Chronic sleep difficulty is often a symptom of an underlying problem. In order to address the sleep issue, the underlying imbalance must be identified and corrected. Examples of an imbalance might be chronic stress, excessive stimulants such as caffeine or those found in some medications, a diet high in sugar, or too much alcohol, which can interrupt sleep. If you are consistently suffering from sleep troubles, take a look and see if one of these culprits might be to blame.
- Chronic pain and hormonal imbalances can interfere with restful sleep and In either of these cases, an appointment with your wellness provider is in order. A trained professional can assist you in pinpointing the difficulty and developing a treatment plan tailored to your particular situation.
- Regular exercise is of great benefit in maintaining healthy sleep patterns. It’s best to exercise earlier in the day, at least 4- 6 hours before bedtime. Exercising too late in the day can be over-stimulating and work against your natural sleep rhythms.
- Check out your caffeine consumption. If, in addition to your morning coffee, you regularly drink caffeinated colas or teas, the caffeine will add up. Decrease the amount of caffeine you have, and try not to have any later in the day, say, after 2:00 p.m. Experiment to see what works for you.
- Prepare yourself for sleep. Take at least an hour before you get into bed to wind down. Shut down your computer, and reduce other types of stimulation in your environment. Read, put on some quiet music, and give your body some time to relax and unwind.
- Finally, establish a consistent sleep and wake routine. This is key to training your body and mind in creating a healthy and consistent sleep cycle. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time, even on weekends, if possible.
If you have any ideas on this topic, or solutions that have worked for you, I would love to hear them. Feel free to email me at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you tired of thinking that goes like this: When I have the time (money, energy) I am going to lose this ten pounds (start an exercise plan, look and feel better?) Wouldn’t you like to feel great, look better, and have more energy and confidence now? What would it be like to have someone who is only concerned with you and your best interests sit down and map out a plan with you that you can use now to start down the road to your most fabulous self?
I have 5 spots open this month for a Free Get Started Today strategy session to help you start moving forward now, not someday!
You will leave this session with:
• A clear vision of what it would take for you to feel and look your best AND a plan to get started now.
• A solid understanding of how you may be getting in your own way, and how to begin to overcome that.
• You will leave this session feeling energized and ready to make those changes you have been waiting to make someday and begin today to be that person you have always wanted to be!
This session is normally valued at $197.00 but I am offering it free this month only to the first 5 people who sign up. Please email me at email@example.com to take advantage of this offer. These sessions will only be available on a first-come, first served basis so once they are gone, they’re gone!
Email me your name, a brief description of your area of concern and anything else you would like me to know. Please set aside 45 minutes for this session which can be done by phone or via Skype.
Again, there is NO CHARGE to you for this session but spaces are limited so email me today to reserve your spot. You deserve to look and feel your best starting now, so email me today!
“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb nail.” ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden
I have always loved these words of Thoreau. I have not always lived by them, mind you, but I like the idea. Living in this media-filled age of information overload, it may not seem anywhere near realistic in practice, but I think we can all find ways to simplify our lives that work for us. We don’t necessarily have to reduce our lives to basic essentials (although some families do choose that as a lifestyle) but we can streamline, choose to focus on what’s most important, and let go of what’s not working or no longer serves us. For those of us who are challenged in knowing where to start, here are a few ideas:
- A simpler environment – i.e., less stuff – creates less need for maintenance of that environment. (Have you ever tried cleaning a room filled with lots of knickknacks?) Less maintenance creates more free time, maybe even time to watch a movie with your spouse tonight. Before you purchase another curio, you might want to consider that and ask yourself: Is it something I really love and must have? If it is something truly special that adds to your environment, go for it. But take a moment to pause before an automatic purchase and consider the question: Do I really need/want this? A clutter-free environment that reflects who you authentically are is likely to feel more pleasing and require less upkeep.
- The tried-and-true one in/one out rule. This works for lots of people and helps to keep your storage space streamlined. It works for shoes, clothing, kitchenware, toys – just about anything, and can help to keep your stuff from getting out of control.
- There is a saying – The outer is always a reflection of the inner. If you find yourself swimming in a sea of overload on a regular basis, it might be time to ask yourself what is really going on. If you are regularly over-committed, overworked or over-anything, it may be part of a larger pattern that needs to be addressed. An example might be difficulty saying no to others’ needs, or a need to keep up appearances. Do you really want to work long hours in order to preserve a style of life you no longer need or have outgrown? Do you really need another blue shirt?
This brings me to the next point.
- Ask yourself – What really brings me happiness? A simple answer to this question can yield enormous dividends because to live in alignment with what you really value can immediately help you sort out your priorities. Knowing what’s really important to you is the first step in simplifying your life.
Mr. Thoreau might be a bit shocked were he to drop in on us these days, but I’ll bet he would find a way to create a life that worked for him. You can, too.