Wednesday Wisdom

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“Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold, happiness dwells in the soul.”

~ Democritus

Healthy Byte: Day 1020

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I came across a status update in my MFP newsfeed the other day and it really resonated with me. The poster said something to the effect that she is proactively taking time for herself and that she shouldn’t be made to feel guilty about wanting to keep herself in the ‘top 5’ of her priority list. Without knowing the specifics which instigated this bit of self-declaration, I can’t help but to admire her insight but I am also sadden that even in 2015, many – women specifically, feels obligated to justify this very intrinsic human need … to love oneself.

From very early on, I think most are taught to oppress our own wants and needs for the sake of others. And then we are continuously groomed that selfishness generally is a vile pursuit. But I think all the good intention in raising a better human being, many have somehow interpreted that as any form of self preservation is an agent of evil. But the reality of it is that we all need to be a little selfish in order to be the best version of ourselves.

I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.

Bilbo Baggins, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

As wise old Bilbo the Hobbit so eloquently stated, sometimes I think we can all understand his sentiments of feeling a little ‘thin.’ And no one is a better caretaker of us than ourselves. So logically, in order for us to continue to be everyone else’s everything, doesn’t it make sense that our own wants and needs should be one of our top priorities?

We have to be our own best self-advocate because no one knows us better. Now I’m not saying forego all our responsibilities (whatever it maybe) with reckless abandonment. No. But what I am encouraging is that we should allow ourselves to purposely carve out time 100% guilt free. From my observations, a feat easier said than in put into practice, especially for mothers.

And perhaps it is this notion of total selflessness which serves as a stumbling block for many to be successful in weight loss maintenance because in order to keep the weight off, we have to make our own health a priority. Otherwise, the daily grind makes it far too easy to revert back to old habits.

It takes a certain level of self-perseverance, selfishness, self worth, whatever label it maybe – one has to have it to remain steadfast in our food repertoire as well as fitness routine. And no one should feel guilty about that … ever!

I think the quote below is a good one to file in the back of our minds so that we can all continue to be successful … remember our environment has tremendous hold over our own well being, and environment includes the people who are in our lives … for better or for worse. Day 1020 op4

TIP OF THE WEEK

Why I am a bodyweight strength training fangirl …

Believe it or not, I was within 2 lbs in all three photos below although I look ‘slimmer’ in the far right one. How is this possible? It’s the miraculous difference between what I have affectionately dubbed ‘doughy thin’ and ‘toned slender.’

doughy vs toned

It is hard to believe that a few toned & defined muscle here & there can make such a visual impact but it does. Aside from looking more healthy, there is an even more pertinent reason to build muscles.

Muscles uses more fuel to sustain itself, therefore increased muscle mass means more calories burned. And as we age, we lose muscles so unless we want to eat less and less calories in order to compensate for the muscle loss or do more & more cardio; the only viable alternative is to increase what we already have.

Bodyweight strength training is a wonderful method to doing just that. Unless one has aspirations to overly bulk or enter in physique competitions, the average Jane or Joe really only needs to tone & define without the traditional approach to lift weights.

One of the main benefits of bodyweight strength training is that it can be done anywhere at any time – equipment free, no gym required. Bodyweight strength training also offers less opportunity for injury because there’s no extra weight to support (weights). And there are essentially an endless amount of variation to increase level of difficulty.

For a very long time I did follow a rather strict lifting regiment but I saw very little results and was starting to have elbow and shoulder issues. After some research, I reverted to what I was familiar with from my days in the Army … basic calisthenics of push ups, pull ups, and planks.

My daily exercise routine consists of 30 minutes of elliptical (high resistance for leg muscles), variety of push ups (triceps, regular, wide arm) alternating with variety of planks (regular, high, arms up) for 1 minute, then variation of pull ups (bicep, regular, wide arm). Now just keep in mind that ANY form of strength training is a painfully slow process regardless of method so be patient, be very very patient. The results below are after almost two years of work.

drum rolls please ….

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I lifted nothing but my own bodyweight. Consistency is key.

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Wednesday Wisdom

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“I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.”

~ Martha Washington

Healthy Byte: Happiness is Contagious, Be a Carrier

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Mongolian girl having a hearty laugh with her camel

Depression is not contagious, according to a new study published in the journalProceedings of the Royal Society B. Happiness, however, is more likely to spread between friends, and the results from the study may help remove some of the stigma surrounding depression.

The World Health Organization estimates that 350 million people worldwide are currently living with depression. Unfortunately, we haven’t made much progress in lowering that number, even though there are literally entire scientific journals devoted to the subject. Preliminary studies have now shown that social support and friendships may be a major factor in lifting you out of a diagnosed funk. Thanks to a detailed study, we have some of the first empirical evidence that happiness is contagious, and that those who befriend depressed people are not in danger of becoming depressed themselves.

Researchers examined data from over 2,000 teenagers who had reported their network of friendships and answered questions about their levels of happiness as part of an earlier research project. Based on the survey results, the scientists classified each student into either a “low mood” (depressed) category a or “healthy mood” (not depressed) category. Then, they mapped out friendships and ran computer simulations to determine whether happiness and sadness spread between friends like an infectious disease.

The result? Depression is not contagious. Meanwhile, happiness not only spreads—it may prevent (and even help people recover from) depression. The model suggests that teens with five or more happy friends have half the probability of suffering from depression over a six to 12-month period than teens without no “healthy mood” friends. And adolescents with 10 healthy friends have more than double the probability of recovering from depressive symptoms.

“This was a big effect that we have seen here,” said Thomas House, mathematics professor at the University of Manchester and coauthor on the study in a prepared statement. “It could be that having a stronger social network [the real-life version, not Facebook] is an effective way to treat depression.”

Since the study suggests teens are not at risk of “catching” depression from their friends, and having happy friends may prevent and even pull teens out of depression, House and his colleagues stress that it is important to promote any friendship between adolescents. Friendship is a win-win, the study says—it can’t hurt, but it may be both protective and curative.

“If we enable friendships to develop among adolescents (for example providing youth clubs) each adolescent is more likely to have enough friends with healthy mood to have a protective effect,” House said in a prepared statement. “This would reduce the prevalence of depression.”

Originally Posted HERE

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Wednesday Wisdom

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“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.”

― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Healthy Byte: The Power of Positivity

This Little Shift in Thinking Could Change the Way You Perceive the World

Positive thinking really is powerful.(Photo: Stocksy/Eduard Bonnin)

The more I learn about the brain, the more fascinated I am by it. Things I used to think were just a mystery (like what makes us happy and what makes us sad) I’m now learning are totally controllable.

So, I was really excited to talk to one of the leading neuroscience psychologists in the field today: Rick Hanson, PhD, has written multiple best-selling books about how to actually hardwire our brains to stay positive in both thought and feeling.

In our conversation, I kept asking him questions related to my own experiences with emotional intelligence, positive thought, and the power we have to shift ourselves out of negative emotions and thought patterns. Everything Rick shared with me confirmed my own experience and what I’ve learned from other experts.

What I especially loved learning from Rick was how important it is to slow down and consciously enjoy the good times, because it actually helps reinforce the hardwiring of our brains. He explained that one of the easiest shifts to make is to acknowledge all the things that go right in our day versus only acknowledging what goes wrong.

This may seem obvious, but think about it: How often do you get 50 positive emails during your workday confirming you are doing your job right, and yet the one email you get that is negative, or exposes a mistake you made, is the only one you remember?

Rick’s favorite phrase to explain the importance of acknowledging the positive aspects of our days is, “Neurons that fire together wire together.”

Essentially, he explains that when we think positive thoughts (i.e. “Wow, my hair looks great today”), we are using neurons that create positive pathways in our brain — and these pathways are being kept open and ready to be used. The reverse is also true: If we are constantly stuck in negative thought loops, those are the neuron pathways that are open and being used.

So before you write off the power of positive thinking, remember that it costs zero money and next to no time to add a few more positive acknowledgments in your day. Science says that the effect will last longer than the thought.

Originally Posted HERE

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Healthy Byte: Mental Toughness

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Not all of us are naturally strong. Some have anxiety or are insecure, which easily puts cracks in your armor. So, how do you toughen up to gain the utmost confidence? Here are seven ways to mentally toughen you up!

1. They take control.

There are two types of people in the world: Those who believe in fate, and those who believe they have control over things. According to Inc, you should be the latter; stop worrying about things that happen to you and start making things happen for you.

2. They’re flexible.

Life doesn’t always go as planned. So, it’s better to be able to pivot when you need to! According to Forbes, being flexible means you’re open to the unexpected and won’t crumble when something inevitably changes.

3. They learn from their mistakes.

You can either choose to crumble from your mistakes, or make them tools for your future. Look at those slip ups as training and refrain from letting them define you. According to Inc, looking at these moments as training will toughen you up.

4. They create specific goals — then conquer them.

Sometimes, you’re mentally all over the places, because you have no direction. What are you doing? Why? When do you want to accomplish this? A Harvard study found that students who set goals tend to earn twice as much as those who had no goals. So, write down that goal, then reap the benefits.

5. They look for acceptance from themselves, not others.

Most of us want other people to like us, but strength comes from within. Ironically, many people don’t like you until you stop caring whether or not others like you. According toInc, that kind of strength is admirable, and your relationships become happier once you adopt that mindset.

6. They keep their stress in check.

Find out what helps you lower your stress level. Perhaps it’s tea, maybe it’s exercising, maybe it’s just setting aside alone time. But a study from New York University found that stress makes it harder for people to control their emotions. Want to lower your risk of bursting into tears at work? Get rid of that stress.

7. They let the little things roll off their back.

Stop sweating the small stuff. According to Inc, your mental strength is a finite supply. So, don’t wear yourself down. Although you should accept that you have control over your life, don’t turn into a control freak.

Originally Posted HERE

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