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Archive for January 13, 2014

15 Habits of Highly Confident People

15 Habits of Highly Confident People

 
No one is confident all the time but some people seem to exude confidence leaving others wondering “what’s the secret?”  Here are some of my observations about the habits of highly confident people.

1.  They have a strong sense of self. They know what they like and what they don’t like.  They’ve most likely built a strong sense of self by having a wide variety of experiences.

2.  They have a strong sense of personal boundaries. They don’t try to please others merely for the sake of making others happy. But, that doesn’t mean they are contrarian to boost their ego either.

3.  They learn from their past without dwelling on it. The past can play a role in helping us move forward in life, but not if we get stuck in it.

4.  They go after their goals and dreams. They may feel fear but they strive to reach their dreams anyway.

5.  They recognize mistakes are learning opportunities. They don’t beat themselves up for their mistakes, realizing that every mistake is an opportunity to learn likes, dislikes, and ways to be more successful next time.

6.  They try new things. There is an expression that experience is the best teacher.  Trying new things allows us to evolve as people.

7.  They take risks. They make informed choices even if there is risk involved.  They know the difference between a gamble and a risk.  They prepare as much as they can and then dive in for those risks they feel are worth the effort.

8.  They refuse to be victimized. One thing I learned from being a health practitioner is that everyone has had difficulties and challenges.  The highly confident person refuses to let the difficulties make them feel victimized.  Of course, we all feel sorry for ourselves sometimes but it is important not to linger in self-pity.

9.  They celebrate their successes and the successes of others. You won’t find truly confident people who are jealous and diminishing of other people’s successes.  They celebrate them.

10.  They can be alone with their own thoughts without needing to fill every minute with conversation, technologies (cellphones, e-mail, texting, etc.), pastimes, or television.

11. They trust their instincts. Instincts help guide us on our path to make the best choices for us.  Trusting these instincts helps us make better choices.

12.  They accept change. Someone once said that “change is the only constant.”  While highly confident people may not always like the changes occurring they accept them and do their best to ride the wave of change.

13.  They take care of themselves. They know that the expression GIGO (Garbage in, Garbage out) is true of the body.  They treat their body with respect by giving it high quality nourishment in the form of healthy food, fresh air, relaxation, and activity.

14.  They boost others, not demean them. Confidence and ego-tripping aren’t the same things.  Confident people don’t feel the need to put others down to build themselves up.

15.  They dont beat themselves up. Of course, no one is perfect.  Even the most confident of people have weak moments.  They dust themselves off and keep going.

What do you think are the habits of highly confident people?  I’d love to hear from you.

Michelle Schoffro Cook

Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, RNCP, ROHP, DNM, PhD is an international best-selling and 15-time book author and doctor of traditional natural medicine, whose works include: 60 Seconds to SlimWeekend Wonder DetoxHealing Recipes, The Vitality Diet, Allergy-Proof, Arthritis-Proof, Total Body DetoxThe Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan, and The Phytozyme Cure. Subscribe to her free e-magazine World’s Healthiest News at WorldsHealthiestDiet.com to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more. Follow her on Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook.

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Excellent Health is found along your journey and not just at your destination. Would it make sense for us to spend several minutes together to discuss your Health Issues or Problems and how HealthyHighway can help YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life? Please complete the information on our Contact Us page to schedule your consultation today! I look forward to helping YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life!

Live Well!

Leesa Wheeler

Leesa A. Wheeler

Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author

ring ~ 770-393-1284

write ~ info@healthyhighway.org

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6 Surprising Things That Affect Your Brain

6 Surprising Things That Affect Your Brain

 

Brain scientists in recent years have discovered a number of surprising ways that the brain influences our overall health, as well as how our behavior influences the health of our brain. And unlike in the days of old — when scientists believed the brain was “fixed” after childhood, only to start an inexorable decline in the middle to later years — today, research is showing that the brain is perfectly capable of changing, healing and “rewiring” itself to an unexpected degree.

It turns out that the age of your brain may be a lesser influence on its structure than what you do with it. Pursuits that require intense mental focus, like language learning, “switch on” the nucleus basalis, the control mechanism for neuroplasticity.

In short, neuroplasticity means you have some control over your cranial fitness. While brain function naturally deteriorates somewhat as you age (though not nearly as much as you might think), various strategic approaches can create new neural pathways and strengthen existing ones as long as you live. What’s more, these efforts to build a better brain can deliver lasting rewards for your overall health.

Here are just a few of neuroscience’s most empowering recent discoveries.

Your Thoughts Affect Your Genes

We tend to think of our genetic heritage as a fait accompli. At our conception, our parents handed down whatever genetic legacy they inherited — genes for baldness, tallness, disease or whatever — and now we’re left playing the hand of DNA we were dealt. But, in fact, our genes are open to being influenced throughout our lifetime, both by what we do and by what we think, feel and believe.

The new and growing field of “epigenetics” studies extra-cellular factors that influence genetic expression. While you may have heard that genes can be influenced by diet and exercise, many researchers are now exploring the ways that thoughts, feelings and beliefs can exert the same epigenetic effect. It turns out that the chemicals catalyzed by our mental activity can interact with our genes in a powerful way. Much like the impacts of diet, exercise and environmental toxins, various thought patterns have been shown to turn certain genes “on” or “off.”

The Research

In his book The Genie in Your Genes (Elite Books, 2009), researcher Dawson Church, PhD, explains the relationship between thought and belief patterns and the expression of healing- or disease-related genes. “Your body reads your mind,” Church says. “Science is discovering that while we may have a fixed set of genes in our chromosomes, which of those genes is active has a great deal to do with our subjective experiences, and how we process them.”

One recent study conducted at Ohio University demonstrates vividly the effect of mental stress on healing. Researchers gave married couples small suction blisters on their skin, after which they were instructed to discuss either a neutral topic or a topic of dispute for half an hour. Researchers then monitored the production of three wound-repair proteins in the subjects’ bodies for the next several weeks, and found that the blisters healed 40 percent slower in those who’d had especially sarcastic, argumentative conversations than those who’d had neutral ones.

Church explains how this works. The body sends a protein signal to activate the genes associated with wound healing, and those activated genes then code blank stem cells to create new skin cells to seal the wound. But when the body’s energy is being “sucked up” by the production of stress biochemicals like cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine, like it is during a nasty fight, the signal to your wound-healing genes is significantly weaker, and the repair process slows way down. By contrast, when the body is not preparing for a perceived threat, its energy stores remain readily available for healing missions.

Why It Matters to You

Just about every body comes equipped with the genetic material it needs to deal optimally with the physical challenges of daily life, and the degree to which you can maintain your mental equilibrium has a real impact on your body’s ability to access those genetic resources. While habits of mind can be challenging to break, deliberate activities like meditation (see the following studies) can help you refashion your neural pathways to support less reactive thought patterns.

Chronic Stress Can Prematurely Age Your Brain

“There’s always going to be stress in the environment,” says Howard Fillit, MD, clinical professor of geriatrics and medicine at New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine and executive director of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation. “But what’s damaging is the distress we feel internally in response to it.”

Fillit’s distinction points to the bodywide reaction our bodies experience when we routinely respond to stress by going into fight-or-flight mode. In our brains, the stress response can cause memory and other aspects of cognition to become impaired, which is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and accelerated memory loss with aging. One thing that can happen is you can start feeling a lot older, mentally, than you are.

“Patients come in complaining of faulty memory and wonder if they’re beginning to get Alzheimer’s,” says Roberta Lee, MD, vice-chair of the Department of Integrative Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center and author of The Superstress Solution (Random House, 2010). “Their workups and MRI scans look normal. In the interview, I ask them about their lifestyle and almost invariably they have compounded stress.”

The Research

Studies at the University of California–San Francisco have shown that repeated instances of the stress response (and their accompanying floods of cortisol) can cause shrinkage of the hippocampus — a key part of the brain’s limbic system vital to both stress regulation and long-term memory. Call it the downside of neuroplasticity.

Why It Matters to You

Aside from the obvious — no one wants his or her brain to age faster than it’s already going to — this research matters because it suggests that you have some influence over the rate of your own cognitive change.

To protect the brain from cortisol-related premature aging, Lee suggests building stress disruptors into your regular routine: “A five-minute period in the middle of every day during which you do absolutely nothing — nothing! — can help a lot, especially if you are consistent about it,” she says.

Her other recommendations include eating breakfast every day — complex carbohydrates (whole grains, veggies) and some protein. “Breakfast helps your metabolism feel like it won’t be stressed — caught up in a starvation-gluttony pattern,” she explains.

And when anxiety does strike, a good way to initiate the relaxation response is her “four-five breath” routine: breathing in through the nose to a count of four, then out through the mouth to a count of five. “Repeat it four times and you’ll feel the relaxation,” she says. “Best of all, do the four breaths twice daily, at the beginning and end of the day.”

Meditation Rewires Your Brain

Meditation and other forms of relaxation and mindfulness not only change your immediate state of mind (and, correspondingly, your biochemical stress level and gene expression), they also can alter the very structure of your brain. Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson, PhD, cofounder of the San Francisco–based Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, has extensively studied the effect of meditation on the brain, with a particular focus on how neuroplasticity allows for permanent changes for the better in your gray matter.

The Research

“Of all the mental trainings — affirmations, psychotherapy, positive thinking, yoga — the one that has been far and away the most studied, in terms of effects on the brain, is meditation,” Hanson says. Some of the most prominent research has come from the collaboration between French-born Buddhist monk and author Matthieu Ricard and University of Wisconsin–Madison neuroscientist Richard Davidson, PhD. Their studies have shown that a high ratio of activity in the left prefrontal areas of the brain can mark either a fleeting positive mood or a more ingrained positive outlook.

Brain-imaging tests have shown that Ricard and other veteran Buddhist meditators demonstrate initial heightened activity in this region, along with a rapid ability to recover from negative responses brought on by frightening images shown to them by researchers. This suggests that their long-term meditation practice has helped build brains that are able to not just enjoy but sustain a sense of positive well-being, even in stressful moments.

Why It Matters to You

“Stimulating areas of the brain that handle positive emotions strengthens those neural networks, just as working muscles strengthens them,” Hanson says, repeating one of the basic premises of neuroplasticity. The inverse is also true, he explains: “If you routinely think about things that make you feel mad or wounded, you are sensitizing and strengthening the amygdala, which is primed to respond to negative experiences. So it will become more reactive, and you will get more upset more easily in the future.”

By contrast, meditative practices stimulate the anterior cingulate cortex, the part of the brain’s outermost layer that controls attention (this is how meditation can lead to greater mindfulness, Hanson explains), as well as the insula, which controls interoception — the internal awareness of one’s own body. “Being in tune with your body via interoception keeps you from damaging it when you exercise,” Hanson says, “as well as building that pleasant, simple sense of being ‘in your body.’” Another plus of a strong insula is an increased sensitivity to “gut feelings” and intuitions and greater empathy with others.

Perhaps best of all, meditation develops the circuitry in the left prefrontal cortex, where the unruffled monks showed so much activity. “That’s an area that dampens negative emotion, so you don’t get so rattled by anger or fear, shame or sorrow,” Hanson says.

“Deciding to be mindful can alter your brain so that being mindful is easier and more natural,” he explains. “In other words, you can use your mind to change your brain to affect your mind.”

Your Brain Learns By Doing

The mirror neuron system is the name for those regions of the brain with synapses that fire whether you’re actually doing or merely watching an action — as long as you’ve done it previously. Doing an action lays down neural connections that fire again when you watch the same action. This accounts for the connection you feel when viewing a sport you’ve played, or why you wince when you see someone else get hurt.

The Research

Giacomo Rizzolatti and his colleagues in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Parma in Italy first noted the mirror effect while studying the brains of macaque monkeys. When a monkey was watching one of the researchers pick up a peanut, the same neurons fired as if the monkey — likely a seasoned peanut gatherer — had picked up the nut itself. The researchers labeled these specific cells “mirror neurons.” In the human brain, entire regions light up in response to a familiar action; this endows us with a full-fledged mirror system.

Why It Matters to You

The existence of the mirror system helps explain why learning a new skill is easier if you try doing it early in life. This includes doing it clumsily, rather than hanging back watching your instructor or a video until you think you “have it.” Watching before you try means that you will probably see very little; watching after you try will engage the mirror system, increasing your brain’s power to “get it.”

As London-based neuroscientist Daniel Glaser, PhD, puts it, “When you look at something you have done before, you are actually using more of your brain to see it, so there’s a richer information flow. Until you started playing tennis, you couldn’t see the difference between a good topspin stroke and a bad one; after a few weeks of practice, when your coach demonstrates the stroke, you really get it visually. And you can thank the mirror system for that.”

The mirror system is also what endows you with the empathic ability to feel the pain or joy of others, based on what you register on their faces. “When we see someone else suffering or in pain, mirror neurons help us to read her or his facial expression and actually make us feel the suffering or the pain of the other person,” writes UCLA neurologist Marco Iacoboni, MD, PhD, in his book, Mirroring People (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008). “These moments, I will argue, are the foundation of empathy.”

Growing Older Can Make You Smarter

For some time, the prevailing view of a brain at midlife was that it’s “simply a young brain slowly closing down,” observes Barbara Strauch. But she notes that recent research has shown that middle age is actually a kind of cranial prime time, with a few comedic twists thrown in for fun.

“Researchers have found that — despite some bad habits — the brain is at its peak in those years. As it helps us navigate through our lives, the middle-age brain cuts through the muddle to find solutions, knows whom and what to ignore, when to zig and when to zag,” she writes. “It stays cool. It adjusts.”

The Research

Brain scientists used to be convinced that the main “driver” of brain aging was loss of neurons — brain-cell death. But new scanning technology has shown that most brains maintain most of their neurons over time. And, while some aspects of the aging process do involve losses — to memory, to reaction time — there are also some net gains, including a neat trick researchers call “bilateralization,” which involves using both the brain’s right and left hemispheres at once.

Strauch cites a University of Toronto study from the 1990s, soon after scanning technology became available, that measured the comparative ability of young and middle-age research subjects to match faces with names. The expected outcome was that older subjects would do worse at the task, but not only were they just as competent as younger subjects, PET scans revealed that, in addition to the brain circuits used by the younger crowd, the older subjects also tapped into the brain’s powerful prefrontal cortex. As some of their circuits weakened, they compensated by using other parts of the brain.

Ultimately, this means the effects of age caused them to use — and strengthen — more of their brains, not less.

Why It Matters to You

Gene Cohen, MD, PhD, who directs the Center on Aging, Health and Humanities at George Washington University Medical Center, notes that this ability to use more of your cognitive reserves strengthens your problem-solving ability as you enter the middle years, and it makes you more capable of comfortably negotiating contradictory thoughts and emotions. “This neural integration makes it easier to reconcile our thoughts with our feelings,” he wrote in “The Myth of the Midlife Crisis” (Newsweek, Jan. 16, 2006). Like meditation, the middle-age tendency toward bilateralization seems to promote your ability to stay cool under pressure.

There are things you can do to amplify this increased strength. “Our brains are built to roll with the punches,” Strauch writes, “and better — or more carefully cared for — brains roll best.” Studies show multiple ways to build long-term brain health: from healthy eating, exercise and conscious relaxation to active social bonds, challenging work and continuing education. Good advice, it would seem, for a brain at any age.

A Teenage Brain is Wired Differently

While it was once thought that the brain’s architecture was basically set by age five or six, New York Times medical science and health editor Barbara Strauch explains her book The Primal Teen: What the New Discoveries About the Teenage Brain Tell Us About Our Kids (Anchor, 2003), new research shows that the teen brain is “still very much a work in progress, a giant construction project. Millions of connections are being hooked up; millions more are swept away. Neurochemicals wash over the teenage brain, giving it a new paint job, a new look, a new chance at life.”

The neurochemical dopamine floods the teen brain, increasing alertness, sensitivity, movement, and the capacity to feel intense pleasure; it’s a recipe for risk-taking. And, as anyone who has tried to rouse a sleepy teen should appreciate, brain chemicals that help set sleep patterns go through major shifts.

Knowing about these brain gyrations in young people can help parents be a little more patient and tolerant—and they offer some opportunities too.  As Jay Giedd told PBS’s Frontline, “If a teen is doing music or sports or academics [during this period of brain change and consolidation], those are the cells and connections that will be hardwired. If they’re lying on the couch or playing video games or MTV, those are the cells and connections that are going to survive.”

By Jon Spayde, Experience Life

 

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit experiencelife.com to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.

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Excellent Health is found along your journey and not just at your destination. Would it make sense for us to spend several minutes together to discuss your Health Issues or Problems and how HealthyHighway can help YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life? Please complete the information on our Contact Us page to schedule your consultation today! I look forward to helping YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life!

Live Well!

 Leesa Wheeler

Leesa A. Wheeler

Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author

ring ~ 770-393-1284

write ~ info@healthyhighway.org

visit ~ www.HealthyHighway.org

consult ~ www.healthyhighway.org/contact.html

chews ~ www.Chews4Health.com/Leesa

enjoy ~ www.Chewcolat.com

follow ~ www.twitter.com/HealthyHighway

learn ~ www.healthyhighway.wordpress.com

like ~ www.tinyurl.com/Facebook-HealthyHighway

join ~ www.tinyurl.com/googleplusHealthyHighway

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21 Healthy Habits for 2014

21 Healthy Habits for 2014

 

What if we commit to starting healthy habits in 2014? Here are a few ideas to get you going!

I think the reason that so many of our New Year’s resolutions fizzle is that they’re just too vague, and that makes it hard to actually put them into action.  A resolution is really just a goal, though, right? What if this year you had a structured goal to help you incorporate healthy habits into your life?

A resolutions like “eat healthy food,” for example, is kind of tricky, isn’t it? What do we mean when we say “healthy food?” Did we fail if we break down and devour a box of cookies? Are we planning to ditch those cookies from day one? An open-ended goal like this can be overwhelming, but healthy habits are made to stick.

What are Healthy Habits?

Healthy habits can refer to physical or emotional health. A healthy habit is one that makes you feel good and feel good about yourself. It’s a big umbrella, and I think that it encompasses a lot of what we are going for when we declare those fleeting New Year’s resolutions.

Breaking unhealthy habits can also be part of starting healthy ones. Cutting back on sugar or soda are good examples of healthy habits that are really more about giving something up that’s harming your health.

Unlike a resolution a habit is something that you do (or don’t do) regularly. It’s part of your routine. Brushing your teeth is a habit and so is your morning cup of coffee, and neither of those feel like chores because they’re just part of your day. The trick to making healthy habits stick is repetition, and having a plan is key.

Healthy Habits: Green Smoothies

A daily green smoothie is an attainable healthy habit!

How to Start Healthy Habits

Starting healthy habits isn’t easy, and I think there are some keys to effectively starting one:

  • The goal you’re setting should be flexible. Don’t beat yourself up for setbacks. Instead, let yourself screw up sometimes and commit to getting it right the next time.
  • Choose something specific and attainable, and have a structure in place. Don’t just say “exercise more.” Tell yourself what you’re going to do and how often, like “walking for 45 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings before work.”
  • Set short-term time limits. Monthly, weekly, and even quarterly check-ins can keep you on track. See where your healthy habits are strong and where you need to work a little harder. Maybe you’ve been great at eating more greens, but you’ve been eating a lot more cookies than is reasonable lately.
  • You need to commit to practicing your goal on a regular basis. We form healthy habits by repeating them over and over until they’re part of our day-to-day routine.

Healthy Habits for 2014

Instead of the typical New Year’s resolution, try starting one of these habits for physical or emotional health in 2014!

1. Happy Thoughts Jar – This might sound cheesy, but it’s actually really gratifying. Grab yourself a large jar, and every day write down something that makes you happy. Stick that scrap of paper in the jar, and when you’re feeling blue, you can sift through all of your happy thoughts from the year.

2. Green Smoothies – Instead of “eat healthier,” get specific and start your day off with a healthy green smoothie! My 40 Days of Green Smoothies book can help you get started, or you can find your own green smoothie recipes online.

3. Start a Daily Yoga Routine – Or commit to doing yoga on certain days of the week, if that seems more attainable to you. Check out these yoga poses for beginners to get you started.

4. Reduce Your Impact – “Go green” is a tough resolution to keep, but what if you resolved to start a few of these simple habits instead?

5. Switch to a Natural Deodorant – Don’t resolve to “get healthy.” Gets specific instead and ditch the toxic chemicals in your deodorant. Making the switch can be a little bit tricky, so check out these tips on how to make the switch a little less, well, stinky.

6. Ditch the Sodapop – Quitting your soda habit can go a long way towards getting healthier, and these tips can help you quit an unhealthy soda habit.

7. 13 Steps to a Better You – My friend Lisa at Lazy Budget Chef outlines her specific action plans for starting 13 healthy habits. You could follow one of these or pick a few for your New Year’s resolutions.

8. Ditch Plastic Food Storage – Talk about an unhealthy habit! Check out some tips on how to start using healthier glass to store your food.

9. Try Macrobiotic Eating – Healthy eating can seem elusive, but with some practice it’s totally doable. Jenny Bradford is starting a 30 day plan for macrobiotic eating, for example. Thirty days is a doable length of time, and at the end she’ll have developed some healthy habits without overwhelming herself.

10. Meatless Monday – Does going vegan or vegetarian seem elusive, but you’d like to try to eat less meat? Commit to going meatless for just one day a week! Your heart and many, many farm animals will thank you.

Healthy Habits: Cooking at Home

Cooking at home can save money, reduce waste, and help you eat healthier for the new year.

11. Cook at Home – Do you eat take out or delivery food for much of the week? Try starting a weekend cooking ritual to stock your fridge and freezer with home-cooked meals that you can eat all week long. If you’re overwhelmed by the whole idea of cooking, just get in there and get started! The more you cook, the easier it is to make your food at home.

12. Switch to a Standing Desk – Do you sit at a desk for 40 hours a week? It turns out that sitting is terrible for your health! Choosing a standing desk can help reverse the negative health effects of sitting all day, every day at the office. If standing all day seems like a lot, they also make convertible desks, so you can alternate. A friend of mine just switched to one of these, and she loves it!

13. Swap Your Desk Chair for a Yoga Ball – Does a standing or convertible desk seem like too much? Try using a yoga ball instead of a desk chair to improve posture and concentration while you work. Leesa recommends a stand up desk!

14. Ditch Sugar – This might seem a little bit daunting, but with a plan it’s attainable! The book The Sugar Detox looks like a good place to start with this healthy habit!

15. Go Vegan -Are you ready to take the plant-strong leap? Check out this complete guide to vegan cooking for beginners!

16. Meditate – Have you been wanting to try meditationThere’s an app for that, and it’s awesome. Leesa recommends Dahn Yoga!

17. Ride Your Bike to Work – You don’t have to ride your bike every day to be a bike commuter! Start with one day a week and go from there. Here are some bike commuting tips to get you started.

18. Ditch Bottled Water – It’s so convenient to grab a plastic bottle of water when you’re out and about. Start keeping a reusable bottle in your purse, car, and bike pannier so you don’t have to buy bottled water to stay hydrated.

19. Practice Gratitude – File this under “slowing down.” This healthy habit is all about taking a moment out of your day to appreciate even the mundane things in your life.

20. Learn Something New – Don’t just say that you’re going to learn something! Choose what you want to learn, and enroll in a class, so that you’re committed. Your local community college might be a good place for budget-friendly classes, or you can look for online classes if you need something that fits into your busy schedule.

21. Bust that Clutter – Just “get organized” can be a hard resolution to keep, but what if you break your unhealthy habit of storing clutter? Here are some clutter-busting tips to get you started.

Do you have any healthy habits that you’re trying to start in the new year? I’d love to hear about your New Year’s resolutions in the comments!

Becky Striepe

Becky Striepe is a freelance writer and vegan crafter living in Atlanta, Georgia. Her life’s mission is to make green crafting and vegan food accessible to everyone! Like this article? You can follow Becky on Twitter or find her on Facebook!

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Excellent Health is found along your journey and not just at your destination. Would it make sense for us to spend several minutes together to discuss your Health Issues or Problems and how HealthyHighway can help YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life? Please complete the information on our Contact Us page to schedule your consultation today! I look forward to helping YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life!

Live Well!

Leesa Wheeler

Leesa A. Wheeler

Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author

ring ~ 770-393-1284

write ~ info@healthyhighway.org

visit ~ www.HealthyHighway.org

consult ~ www.healthyhighway.org/contact.html

chews ~ www.Chews4Health.com/Leesa

enjoy ~ www.Chewcolat.com

follow ~ www.twitter.com/HealthyHighway

learn ~ www.healthyhighway.wordpress.com

like ~ www.tinyurl.com/Facebook-HealthyHighway

join ~ www.tinyurl.com/googleplusHealthyHighway

link ~ www.linkedin.com/in/leesawheeler

5 Ways to Get Healthier & Happier

5 Ways to Get Healthier & Happier With Age

 
In our culture, everything happens at the speed of youth. Whether it’s cell phones, computers, songs, movies, books or opinions, it seems that only the newest models and latest releases matter. Whatever it is, if it’s been around for a while, it’s probably lost some value along with its straight-out-of-the-package luster.

And that might be inevitable when it comes to the latest iPad. But it makes no sense when it comes to people. Because while our culture is inclined to associate aging with a downgrade in beauty, vitality and appeal, aging done well has the potential to be something else entirely: an enjoyable and inspiring upgrade of self.

Unlike the boundless energy of youth, the treasures of aging don’t just arrive at our doorsteps, though. While it is entirely possible to become more interesting, attractive and dynamic as you age, it rarely happens without some conscious striving.

That said, it’s well worth the effort. Done right, living brings wisdom, emotional maturity and insight. With age comes experience, skill, discernment and perspective. We become more empathetic. We develop the compassion to fully know and love others, and the confidence to relax into our best attributes. We gain the ability to know — and even strut — our own stuff.

Seen in this light, getting older can be downright sexy. But how does one go about engaging in artful aging? One of the best ways is to start early.

Knowing at 20, 30 or 40 that you can, and fully intend to, become cooler, smarter and potentially hotter as you age gives you an important advantage, because it can help you keep your goals and priorities in line over the long haul. It also helps you focus on the end game, so you don’t get stuck thinking that midlife achievements are the highest markers of a life well lived.

But at whatever age you suddenly realize that you are, in fact, getting older, it is still possible to age gracefully from there on out. All it takes is smart choices, well-directed energy and a desire for self-renewal. As best-selling author and journalist Gail Sheehy puts it, we need to “remain open to new vistas of learning and imagination and anticipate experiences yet to be conquered and savored.”

 

1. Connect With Others

One of the most important things you can do to enrich your life at any age is to connect with other people. Meeting, talking, collaborating, sharing — none of these personal-growth essentials happens when an individual is isolated. The people around us (friends, lovers, family, mentors and even enemies) can all provide important insights and become catalysts that aid us in our quest to evolve.

Developing relationships with older folks whom you admire and perceive as good role models, whether for their enduring physical fitness, their perspective and experience, or simply their joie de vivre, can be especially inspiring. So can connecting with younger people. Older men and women gain a deeper appreciation of their accumulated knowledge by sharing it. And feeling gratitude for one’s wisdom and previous life experiences is itself a powerful factor in remaining happy and inspired as we age.

Linking with others has huge health benefits as well. Edward M. Hallowell, MD, an adult and child psychiatrist based in Boston, cites landmark research from Harvard University School of Public Health, that showed people with no close ties to friends, relations or other community were three times more likely to die over a nine-year period than those with at least one source of social support. “Social isolation is as much a risk factor [for early death] as smoking,” he says.

The value of connection increases with years and experience. As lives and relationships deepen, there’s more to share.

A Minneapolis resident, Scotty Gillette was in her early 40s when she and a group of four other childhood friends decided to meet for dinner once a month. Nearly 40 years later, they’re still doing it. “We’ve supported each other through divorces, widowhood, and issues with our children and grandchildren,” she says. “We’ve nursed each other through operations, helped out when husbands have gotten sick, and celebrated at the weddings of our children and the births of our grandchildren.” Each woman is a crucial beam in her friends’ emotional architecture.

Community can be as simple as three or four people getting together for focused conversation once a week, says Parker Palmer, an educator, community activist and author of Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation (Jossey-Bass, 1999). “It requires, more than anything else, intentionality.” The form matters less than the function; joining a bowling league, volunteering to tutor at the local high school, starting a band, taking an acting class — all will connect you with something you love, as well as a vital group of friends.

 

2. Look and Learn

To recognize life’s continuing possibilities, you must constantly survey the world with an open, inquisitive mind. “Lifelong learning expands our horizons and helps us see a life beyond our current roles,” says Pamela McLean, PhD, a clinical psychologist and coauthor of Life Launch: A Passionate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Hudson Press, 2000).

The Harvard Study of Adult Development found that pursuing education throughout your adult years is a key factor to a rich life and healthy aging. Research has also found that learning can make your brain function better.

For many years, neuroscientists thought that the body stopped building new neural connections after childhood. But landmark studies in the early 21st century showed that the adult brain continues to grow new cells and create new neural connections. And learning helps trigger the growth of those new cells.

“Long-held assumptions that our brains are in a state of gradual decline from a youthful peak have been proven untrue,” notes Barbara Strauch in The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain: The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind (Penguin, 2011).

If you maintain only one interest in your life — whether it’s work, children, athletics or a hobby — you risk losing your source of identity and satisfaction when change comes. Conversely, if you polish many facets of yourself, you will shine no matter what.

“The demands of the 30s and 40s are so pressing that it’s almost impossible to imagine how you can diversify your interests,” says McLean. “But it’s important not to become a one-string guitar. Don’t give all your life to work. Allow yourself to try adventures you normally wouldn’t.”

The opportunities to learn are endless. You can choose a structured activity, like taking a class or starting a book club. Or you can take a more free-form approach: Learn about local history or sports teams; listen to public radio while going to work and books on tape during the commute home; commit to visiting a new place every year, even if it’s on the way to your annual vacation spot.

As your life path proceeds, keep an eye out for life’s teachers. McLean suggests seeking out role models who are living in a way that inspires you. Then learn about their lives by asking questions about how they got there.

One person who has made a career out of interviewing his mentors is Bill Moyers, the host of the public-television news program Moyers & Company. “All the septuagenarians I’ve interviewed through the years have taught me something,” he says. “They lived long enough to turn their experience into wisdom, and to share it.”

 

3. Explore Within

Perhaps the best way to integrate valuable life experiences into your aging process is to regularly evaluate where you are and what’s calling next. “It’s a challenge for anyone, regardless of their age, to know where they want to go,” says McLean. “It’s easy to wander or, in our media-oriented society, to be led. But satisfaction only comes with a direction that is truly your own.”

Palmer agrees, and points out that instead of becoming more set in their ways, aging adults need to remain nimble. “One of the keys to aging gracefully is to acknowledge that you have as much need for discernment now about the best next steps in life as you did at 32 or 45 or 56. There’s a mythology that by 72 you’re pretty well settled, but we have wiggle room as long as we’re drawing breath.”

Developing and following your own evolving sense of purpose takes mindfulness, says McLean, which requires regular doses of reflective thinking. “Look for opportunities to think outside the moment and ask what you want to be,” she advises.

There are opportunities everywhere. Take a vacation, journal, meditate, try yoga, get a coach. Resist the invented busyness that keeps most of us distracted from our feelings: Stop compulsively checking your email or your phone; go on a weeklong media fast; sit still on your couch for five full minutes and don’t write a “to-do” list or schedule a dentist’s appointment or rearrange your sock drawer. If you feel uncomfortable, that’s the point. You’re starting to listen to your inner self.

Allowing our internal compass to guide us toward meaningful pursuits brings its own set of benefits. The Longevity Project, a long-term study launched by a Stanford psychologist at the turn of the last century, followed 1,500 people born around 1910 and found that passionate people who believed they were living up to their potential and engaged in meaningful work lived longer, healthier lives than their less reflective and less engaged peers.

The inner journey itself can be a wellspring of energy and inspiration for daily life. “I’ve found that if a person has a way of being introspective while aging, it creates an acceptance of life,” says Stephan Rechtschaffen, MD, a cofounder of the Omega Institute, a holistic learning center based in Rhinebeck, N.Y. “Maintaining vitality can be aided by spiritual processes. They allow us to access our inner landscapes and to see life with wonder.”

 

4. Play Creatively

Embracing the pleasures of uninhibited expression — whether we find that in art, music, dance, woodworking, Scrabble or poker — enriches and regenerates our souls no matter how old we are. “Any healthy activity where your brain lights up helps plant the seeds of happiness,” says Hallowell.

Those bits of happiness enrich our brains now and can continue to pay off in the decades to come, bringing satisfaction and continual self-renewal. In fact, time often enhances the end results of creative endeavors. In her book The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life (Simon & Schuster, 2005), choreographer Twyla Tharp explains that she didn’t feel like a “master” of her craft until she had completed 128 works and was 58 years old.

“Why did it take 128 pieces until I felt this way?” Tharp asks rhetorically. “A better question would be, why not? What’s wrong with getting better as you get more work under your belt?” She cites Verdi, Beethoven, Dostoyevsky, Kurosawa and Balanchine as a few of her personal role models. All had stunning early triumphs, to be sure. Yet what interests Tharp is that all of these artists kept raising the bar for their achievements throughout their middle and later years.

How, in the face of deteriorating memories and aching backs, did they do it? In Tharp’s view, they were able to integrate what they had learned and put it into perspective.

“As we age, it’s hard to recapture the recklessness of youth, when new ideas sparked off us like light from a pinwheel sparkler,” she writes. “But we more than compensate for this with the ideas we do generate, and with our hard-earned wisdom about how to capture, and, more importantly, connect those ideas.” The results of this mature brand of ideation and creative expression, Tharp asserts, can be richer, deeper and just as satisfying as the spontaneity of youth.

 

5. Mind Your Body

Whether you’re 18 or 88, you feel better when you maintain a healthy weight, a high level of physical vitality, and a commitment to daily movement. As the years pass, though, it becomes increasingly important to examine specific aspects of your daily routine and environment.

For instance, according to Mark Hyman, MD, recent research shows that balancing blood sugar is one of the best ways to inoculate against certain age-related diseases, such as dementia, cancer and adult-onset diabetes.

Besides reducing our sugar intake, Hyman, author of The Blood Sugar Solution (Little, Brown and Company, 2012), advises people to take a few key steps: (1) Avoid flours and starches (“They act just like sugar in the bloodstream,” he explains); (2) include healthy proteins (such as fish, beans, nuts, lean animal protein) with every meal to fuel metabolism and maintain muscle; (3) liberally consume high-fiber foods (nuts, berries, beans, non-starchy vegetables and seeds); (4) enjoy healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to activate a critical cell-signaling system related to blood-sugar control.

Hyman also wants us to mind our mitochondria, which are the microscopic components of each of our cells that turn food and 90 percent of the oxygen we breathe into energy. We have more than 100,000 trillion of these little energy factories in our bodies, and according to recent lab tests, rats with the healthiest and most plentiful mitochondria had greater endurance and aerobic capacity, experienced increased fat burning, didn’t develop prediabetes, and lived to be the equivalent of 120 human years old.

The trouble is that, over time, mitochondria are sensitive to poor diet, sedentary habits, toxins, allergens, and high levels of stress. This is why Hyman urges us to emphasize whole foods, limit our overall exposure to pollutants, find time to relax and rejuvenate, and enjoy plenty of physical activity. Interval training is especially helpful, he notes, since high-intensity activity interspersed with periods of rest increases the efficiency and function of mitochondria. Strength training also increases the amount of mitochondria in muscle cells.

Beyond all these practical recommendations for healthy, graceful aging, though, success is ultimately rooted in self-honesty — the ability to see yourself clearly and then take action on the parts of your life that are asking for investment and attention.

For example, the Harvard Study on Aging tells us that having a healthy marriage before age 50 is an indicator of successful aging. Do you have a strong partnership? If you do, what sorts of steps can you take to fortify that bond? If not, what can you do to change your situation?

If you are severely overweight, chain smoking, or abusing alcohol or drugs, what resources are available to help you face down the demons? What role do you play in the dysfunction?

Ignoring problems not only leads to physical and mental deterioration, but also leads to avoiding solutions that have the potential to connect you to the larger community and your better self.

In other words, you’re never too old to leave behind old habits, to embrace new rituals, or to discover new vistas in the search of happier, healthier and higher terrain.

By Elizabeth Foy Larsen, Experience Life

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit experiencelife.com to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.

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Excellent Health is found along your journey and not just at your destination. Would it make sense for us to spend several minutes together to discuss your Health Issues or Problems and how HealthyHighway can help YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life? Please complete the information on our Contact Us page to schedule your consultation today! I look forward to helping YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life!

Live Well!

 Leesa Wheeler

Leesa A. Wheeler

Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author

ring ~ 770-393-1284

write ~ info@healthyhighway.org

visit ~ www.HealthyHighway.org

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4 Ways to Stop Feeling Scattered (& Reinvigorate Your Brain)

4 Ways to Stop Feeling Scattered (& Reinvigorate Your Brain)
Thoughts pass in and out of our minds all day, but how many of them actually stick with us? How often do you take the opportunity to sit down and think about the beauty of life, the world, the universe, without any bells and whistles clogging your thought processes? The truth is, we are junkies for comfort and entertainment. We avoid nasty thoughts about insignificance, mundanity, or failure by getting jacked up on visual and audial Soma, whether it be Youtube cat videos or the latest Hollywood or political scandal. When you really think about it, do you allow yourself to truly think on a regular basis? In the modern age of Instagrams, tweets, and the 24 hour news cycle, how much do you really stop and contemplate? How often do you have creative thoughts or ideas? In this age of technology, you might not be as creative or mentally present as you once were. If you are stuck in a monotonous mental rut, experience these 4 things to reinvigorate your mind and spirit.

 

Expose yourself to art. Timeless novels, opulent operas, contemporary ballets — art is meant to make you think. It brings you on a journey into a state of empathy and consciousness you otherwise might never experience. Go to a museum, see a concert (no, a One Direction concert doesn’t count), read a classic novel. Immersing yourself in the creativity of others will help you to become more creative and open-minded in your own life.

Practice meditation. Whether you use visualization techniques or you release your mind during gentleyogameditation clears the garbage from your head and makes room for profound thought. Mindfulness in life can reduce stress, increase awareness, and make you a generally better person to be around. Think you don’t have time? If you have time to check your Facebook in the morning, you have time for 5-10 minutes of meditation.

Embrace silence. Don’t just turn the television on when you get home from work or spend your evening perusing other peoples’ Pinterest walls. Silence is a rare and beautiful thing. Cut the visual and audial pyrotechnics for a night and find out what you are drawn to. Perhaps you’ll enjoy your dinner a little bit more. Perhaps you’ll pick up that old tome you’ve always meant to read. Perhaps you’ll discover a new hobby entirely. Distractions discourage creativity, so shut down your electronics for the evening and get reacquainted with your unplugged self.

Be in nature. Go back to your roots. Literally, the roots in your backyard or nearest nature preserve. Sit under a tree and just be. Hear the birds chirping, notice that chipmunk absconding a squirrel’s nut stash, watch the stars develop at dusk. If you are a little more adventurous, take a trip into the wilderness and feel the bonds of constant societal distraction slide off your body. Don’t let winter stop you. Even a stroll through the park can put everything into perspective.

Why is it that we, as a general society, don’t think about things as deeply as we could? Is it because we have the Internet, so we foolishly think we know everything? Is it because we are driven to try to become more and more comfortable and the act of profound thought is sometimes harsh and distressing? With machines doing most of our tasks and thinking for us, we have to push away complacency and throw ourselves into the art of life. We live in a beautiful age in which we don’t need to spare thought for menial tasks, so let your creativity flourish and empower your mind with thought.

Jordyn Cormier

Jordyn is a choreographer, freelance writer, and an avid outdoors woman. Having received her B.F.A. in Contemporary Dance from the Boston Conservatory, she is passionate about maintaining a healthy body, mind, and soul through food and fitness. A lover of adventure, Jordyn can often be found hiking, canoeing, mountain biking, and making herself at home in the backcountry! Check out what else Jordyn has been up to at jordyncormier.com.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Excellent Health is found along your journey and not just at your destination. Would it make sense for us to spend several minutes together to discuss your Health Issues or Problems and how HealthyHighway can help YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life? Please complete the information on our Contact Us page to schedule your consultation today! I look forward to helping YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life!

Live Well!

Leesa Wheeler

Leesa A. Wheeler

Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author

ring ~ 770-393-1284

write ~ info@healthyhighway.org

visit ~ www.HealthyHighway.org

consult ~ www.healthyhighway.org/contact.html

chews ~ www.Chews4Health.com/Leesa

enjoy ~ www.Chewcolat.com

follow ~ www.twitter.com/HealthyHighway

learn ~ www.healthyhighway.wordpress.com

like ~ www.tinyurl.com/Facebook-HealthyHighway

join ~ www.tinyurl.com/googleplusHealthyHighway

link ~ www.linkedin.com/in/leesawheeler

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