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Posts Tagged ‘Tips’

Because I am moving in a few short weeks, I’ve been spending some of my free time (actually, most of my time – what do you expect – I don’t have a job?!) going through all of my belongings deciding what stays, what goes, and what becomes one with the landfill (or recycling plant for all my “green” friends out there). I often tear out magazine and newspaper articles that I come across and want to read but just don’t have the time to focus on at the moment. I tear them out, throw out (recycle!) the remainder magazines and/or newspapers, and store the clippings in safe keeping for a future read-a-thon. During my read-a-thons, I fish out the folder(s) full of all my “save for later” articles and begin reading – my mind clear and ready to absorb the information – so I can eventually recycle those articles as well and replenish my “save for later” folder with new and up-do-date information. This past Saturday night, I turned off the T.V, grabbed some jelly beans (okay, so they aren’t really necessary for the read-a-thon, but they make it that much better in the end), cleaned off my glasses, and prepared myself for an all night article fest.

I scoured numerous articles I had saved on politics, health issues, fitness, etc., and I learned how to adequately care for sweaters, remove red wine stains, and perform a proper standing lunge. Yes, all very useful information, but the one article I came across that really resonated with me and made me feel inspired and uplifted was entitled “Habits of Happy Women” that I tore out of a past issue of SELF magazine. This article encourages readers to “find a serene spot, pull out a pen, and list your never-fail pleasures, no matter how goofy or self-indulgent they sound,” because, sometimes, happiness is hard to get a hold of and we all need a few guaranteed tactics to make us feel better and feel happier when times are rough. So, I suggest we all listen to SELF and start jotting down and acting upon the fool-proof ways that individually lift our spirits. Or, take the advice of the women interviewed in the article (I listed out 10 of the top suggestions) and try out their happy habits (or similar ones!) to see if they work for you. I also added one of my own and hope you will add your favorite as well to share with all of the blog readers. Now,read on, start writing, and get ready to start smiling! 🙂

Photograph something every day:

“Four years ago, I started carting my camera everywhere and taking one photo a day. Sure, I have a lot of pictures of flowers or strangers in the laundry room of my apartment building, but I also have snapshots of my sister’s baby, friends’ weddings, sailing in St. Vincent and people who have come in and out of my life that I would have forgotten if I hadn’t captured them on film. When I sit down and look through my albums – another ritual in and of itself – I realize that even though I complain about my life at times, there are many reasons to be happy.”

Connect with your crew:

“The spring after my father died, I felt the need to strengthen my bonds with friends. So I organized a ‘Women I Love’ lunch as a way to boost my spirits. I invited all my friends over, we ate takeout, and one by one, I stood behind each woman and explained why I loved her. At the end of the afternoon, my friends all said, ‘You have to do this next year!’ and an annual tradition was born.”

Rock out:

“Whenever I need a lift, I get in the car, turn up my radio and sing at the top of my lungs. I may look foolish to the people in the next lane, but I’ll never see them again, so who cares?”

Be Hallmark happy:

“I love browsing in stationery stores. Typically, I’ll buy 10 or 15 funny cards all at once, stamp them, then toss them in my purse. That way, when I have a minute here or there – standing in line, waiting at the doctor – I’ll write a ‘thinking of you’ note to a friend and send it off. It gives me a good feeling knowing that they’ll have a pleasant surprise waiting for them in their mailbox.”

Enjoy a creative moment:

“When I was in Venice, I bought a leather journal that I now carry with me everywhere.l When I need an escape or just want to record a beautiful scene, I fill the pages with words or drawings. I love looking back and reflecting on what I’ve seen and heard. It keeps me linked to places I care about.”

Write a chain letter:

“After college, six of my best friends and I started a circle letter. The first person on the list writes a letter and sends it to the next person in the chain; she then adds her own letter and a treasure or two, and sends everything to the third, and so on. When it’s my turn, I put all my responsibilities on hold, curl up on the couch and sift through the photos, letters and clippings. It’s one of my favorite ways to reconnect.”

Get out the Kleenex:

“A couple of times a year I watch really sad movies, like When a Man Loves a Woman, by myself. I start crying, then I remember that this isn’t my real life and I feel better! It’s sort of reverse psychology.”

Eat like a queen:

“When I was growing up, my family had a tradition of marking our accomplishments by having the person of the hour eat off a red plate. So when I got engaged, my parents gave my fiance and me our own red plate. It reminds me how easy it is to make someone feel special. We use it to acknowledge things like finishing our taxes or getting a raise. When our puppy graduated from obedience school, he even got to eat off the red plate!”

Do something girly:

“Getting my nails done always turns my bad moods around. I usually manage to visit the salon once a week, which makes me feel in control of my otherwise hectic life. The flip side is that if my nails look scraggly, I know I need to slow down.”

Take the plunge:

“I live close to the ocean, so when I return home from work in the evenings, I like to walk by the beach, regardless of the season. If the temperature allows, I take a swim and ride some waves. When no one’s around, I may even skinny-dip. Being in the surf always makes the world melt away.”

My own fool-proof way to lift my spirits:

“I climb into some comfy clothes, turn off my phone, pop some popcorn or scoop out some ice-cream, sprawl out on the couch and watch an hour of hilarious Will and Grace, Friends, or The Office reruns. I push my ‘To-Do’ list out of sight and push anxiety and worry out of mind and, instead, zone in on the hilarious hi-jinks of Jack and Karen, Chandler and Joey, or Jim and Dwight. No matter how blue I am, I can’t help but laugh at a good joke :)”

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I only workout three times a week (and that is during a good week!), but I still always dread my workouts. It’s probably because I feel like I HAVE to workout rather than WANT to workout. Yesterday, I was in the locker room at L.A. Fitness with a few other women when one of them gasped and shrieked “Oh no!” We all stopped what we were doing and turned around to find her digging violently through her bag. She sighed, looked at us all, and said “I left my shoes at home!” We all kind of laughed and said, “Oh, I’ve done that before.” (I was able to contribute a sports bra incident into this conversation that definitely produced a few chuckles, but that is beside the point). In a way, the woman seemed kind of relieved and said “Oh well, short workout today!” and she whipped right out of the room. One of the other women looked over at me and said, “Gee, I wish I had left my tennis shoes at home and didn’t have to workout.” I laced up my own shoes, looked back at her, and said “I completely agree.” I dragged myself out to the treadmill and while I trudged through my power-walk, I thought more about that locker room conversation and how hard it is to stay motivated through a workout, let alone actually look forward to one! I figure if I feel this way, a lot of other women out there must have similar sentiments. Thus, I have dug around on this little thing we call the “Internet” and have compiled various tips and tricks from the pros (mixed in with some of my own advice) to help keep us motivated enough to burn some calories before diving into leftover Chinese food while plopped on the couch watching Project Runway (great – I just gave away yesterday evening’s activities…). Anyways, check out these tips below and start sweating your way to some feel-good endorphins!

  1. Reward yourself. Finish your workout and treat yourself to a magazine, TV show, time with the family, or even some extra time for yourself.
  2. Review your goals everyday and every night. Keeping your goals fresh in your mind will help you stay on track.
  3. Realize that the hardest part of the workout is often just getting there. Once you get 5 or 10 minutes into the workout, you will be over the first major hurdle. So tell yourself, “I’ll just go in and do 10 minutes on the StairMaster, then I can go.” Next thing you know, you’ll have done the entire workout.
  4. Visualize yourself having a great workout and finishing strong. Prepare yourself mentally and you will literally have better workouts each time. Imagine how you will look and feel once you’ve met your next fitness goal and picture yourself making that achievement.
  5. Pick a cardio exercise you enjoy. It’s no fun to exercise if you hate it, and you won’t keep at it for very long. Find something that is fun – whether it be running, walking, swimming, biking, hiking, rowing, etc. After the initial phase of getting used to the exercise, you’ll start to have a blast and will actually look forward to it.
  6. Set realistic goals. Start with simple goals that are easily reachable. As time passes and your fitness level improves, you can begin to set bigger goals. Avoid getting frustrated and pushing yourself too hard, and you will be more likely to stick with your workout routine.
  7. Make workouts a key part of your schedule. Many people see exercise merely as recreation, not as a necessity, so it’s often the first activity that gets cut from your daily schedules when you get busy. From now on, decide that working out is as important as anything else in your life and make it a priority.
  8. Monitor your progress. Keep a daily journal or log of your activities and progress. This will not only show a record of your success, but will also serve as a reminder to stick to your goals.
  9. Workout with a partner. There is nothing like having some peer pressure to keep you motivated. Find someone who is fun to be with and has his/her own fitness goals. Together, you can enjoy some quality time and motivate each other to follow through with your exercise commitment.
  10. Do the stuff you don’t like first. If you dread lifting weights, get those out of the way first, so you can then focus on the part of the workout you enjoy.
  11. Be active all day. Doing the dishes, ironing, dusting, vacuuming, etc. all burn calories and are, oftentimes, more fun that actually working out. Okay, obviously, this is one of my own personal suggestions, but, seriously, these household tasks have to get done, so you might as well tidy up and get your daily workout in at the same time – kill two birds with one stone!
  12. Have a workout role model. My friend Keeli (okay, obviously another one of my suggestions) is a great fitness role model. She has participated in and eventually instructed early morning boot camp classes in Atlanta (and I’m talking REAL early, before some of you have probably gone to sleep) 5 days a week for a few years. Now that she lives in Seattle, she still uses her fitness  knowledge to engage in early-morning workouts with her boyfriend. When I think I can’t complete another set or do another 5 minutes on the elliptical, I think about my fitness role model, Keeli, and her intense drive (and I can definitely attest to this drive – On Cinco De Mayo circa 2007, we each drank about three too many margaritas, and I ended up passing out on Keeli’s couch in my salsa-soaked jeans and cheese-dip-encrusted t-shirt. Keeli woke up the bright and early the next morning to lead boot camp classes while our other friend, Jen, and I slept off our hangovers. Talk about a good work(out) ethic!). Little does she know, but she actually helps keep me motivated – even from across the country! 🙂
  13. Crank up your iPod. Listening to music while you workout can help keep it interesting, relaxing, and fun. If you don’t like listening to music, watch a T.V. show, a movie, or read a magazine. You will feel like your workout went by much more quickly.
  14. Vary your exercises. To ward off boredom, don’t do the same cardio activities and weight exercises each time you go to the gym. Run on the treadmill one day, use the elliptical another day, or occasionally try rowing. You won’t get burned out as easily, and you will work all different muscle groups.
  15. Forgive yourself. If you do miss a few workouts, forgive yourself – no one’s perfect. Cut yourself some slack and just get back on your regular schedule starting tomorrow.

Exercise Cartoon

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