I know it’s trite. But lately every face I see walking down the street is glum. A restaurant is next door to our little shop, and people should be looking forward to a good meal, meeting with friends or family and having a good time. But many are frowning, having arguments with the people they’re with, or yelling on the phone.
That doesn’t sound like a good time. It might even be bad for the digestion.
Yes, the world is upside-down in many ways these days. The country is divided and hardly anyone seems happy. Or even content. Traffic is a nightmare. Your boss is toxic.
So let’s make our own contentment. Take a look around. If the sky is blue, enjoy it! Or, if there are interesting cloud formations, enjoy that.
Appreciate the flower by the side of the road. Enjoy the cool feeling when you swallow a sip of water.
Look at that dolphin in the picture. He’s doing something he loves doing! Jumping! I took that photo the last time I was at Dolphin Research Center in Grassy Key, Florida. The overwhelming feeling I get every time I go there is joy. I must remember that feeling when I’m overwhelmed by other feelings. Remember that joy!
And I must look around and find something to enjoy! With a little practice you can do it too.
You try to eat healthy. You’ve even counted all the calories you consume in a day. You buy organic produce, eggs from cage-free chickens. You only eat beef from grass-fed cows. You’ve tried to cut out grains from your diet.
And still the weight stays on. You try running more, different exercise programs, and nothing seems to be working.
The solution may be a simple formula applied to your dinner plate. And it’s so simple you’ll think it can’t possibly work. But it does!
A healthy plate is based on plants. One-half to 3/4 of your plate should be filled with plant-based foods. Plants provide fiber, vitamins and minerals for nourishment. And the plants can be fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, seeds, nuts, and whole-grain foods. Plant-based eating is in line with guidelines set out by the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Look at my plate above. Most of the plate is broccolini and sweet potato. Not a lot is chicken – and that’s lean chicken, no skin! Healthy and tasty, to boot!
Plus plants have fewer calories than meat protein and simple carbohydrates.
Think of all the time you’ll save by not counting calories!
Of course, like everything else in life, I believe in moderation. So my healthy plate works for me most of the time. I do indulge in pizza and chocolate cake. Just not all the time!
My mom had terrible psoriasis patches on her elbows, down her forearms and ankles. She suffered horribly with the itching, and it hurt me to watch her. Those red, rough, scaly patches were unsightly to start with, and when Mom scratched at them, they bled and hurt.
Psoriasis is somewhat hereditary. And I do get patches in the same spot on my elbows, from time to time. My outbreaks are nowhere near as severe as my mom’s were, but they’re still bothersome.
Why am I bringing up a horrible skin condition? Because exercise helps! I had patches on my elbows a couple of weeks ago, but didn’t think much of it since that happens from time to time.
Those rough patches are gone!
And I noticed today that those rough patches are gone!
When I first noticed the psoriasis weeks ago, and I have to be honest here, I had not been really putting my heart and soul into my workouts.
Get with the program
I picked up the pace, and have been much more diligent the last two weeks. I did a week of PiYo (my fave Pilates and Yoga combined workout program) and then this week I started 21 Day Fix Extreme. And today that psoriasis is gone.
It’s not just my imagination, either. Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston have found that vigorous exercise can reduce the risk of psoriasis by as much as 30%! 2 hours of vigorous exercise a week is required to cut the risk – and walking doesn’t count. The researchers found that running and calisthenics helped the most. Psoriasis is an effect of chronic inflammation, which can be reduced by diet, and by regular exercise.
And running and calisthenics is what I get from the workout programs I mentioned earlier. So 30 minutes, 4 days a week, of calorie-busting exercise with my favorite DVDs is saving my skin, as well as giving me so many other benefits!
Most people I know don’t like to work out. I have to talk myself into it almost every day. But these tricks can help you every day make exercise a habit. You may not look forward to it, but you’ll be working out every day.
Cool workout clothes. They always say that if you look good, you feel good. And having at least one great-looking workout outfit will make you feel spectacular. Every time you get a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, you’ll say, “Darn, I look good!” You’ll look forward to putting on your spiffy workout clothes and doing your workout.
Look beyond the workout. You’ll feel wonderful when you finish your workout. You may not want to start your workout because you know it’ll be hard, so look ahead a half hour. Yes, your hair may be a mess when you’re done, and you may stink to high heaven. But you’ll feel amazing! Your cheeks will be flushed, your eyes will be bright and you’ll feel like you can take on a whole football team and win!
Your cool workout clothes and your sneakers will be staring you in the face. And you don’t want your free weights to get lonely, do you? And if you work out at home like I do, you only have to push “play” to start. No commute time or anything. And you’ll be done and feel amazing (see #2. above) in no time.
Set tiny, achievable goals each day. If your workout has a set of 10 pushups and you’ve been doing them on your knees, do one full pushup. Or if you’ve been using 3 pound weights for curls, try a set with your 5-pounders. Or try jogging for a half-minute when you’ve been marching. Pretty soon you’ll be doing the full workout, and you’ll have to buy heavier weights!
I almost took a tumble yesterday. We always take the dogs out, even though we have a fenced yard. There have been too many reports of hawks flying away with small dogs for us to be comfortable just letting the dogs out when they need to do their business. Plus, we don’t want them eating unidentified things that they find in the back yard. And, we don’t really want them catching stray rabbits that find their way under the gates.
Torque bounced, I flailed!
So, yesterday I followed the dogs into the back yard, when, sure enough, they all came racing back to the front, chasing a rabbit who was probably feasting on the herbicide-free grass and dandelions. (Yes, rabbits are stupid. We have four dogs, and rabbits can probably smell that. That’s probably why they reproduce in such quantities. And thinking about it, the bunnies probably were not munching on the dandelions – there are too many of them for the wildlife to be enjoying.)
Torque has absolutely no sense of personal space or staying out of anyone’s way. He will find the shortest path, even if it’s right into me and through my legs. He’s definitely adorable, but Torque needs to learn about going around obstacles.
Keeping my balance
Torque ran right into me, chasing after the stupid rabbit. He bounced, but I was flailing. I did not fall, though!
I credit my ability to stay on my feet to the balance exercises I do every day. As we age, we’re more susceptible to falls, so I’m doing everything I can to prevent it. There are a variety of exercises to strengthen that balance muscle, and it just takes a couple of minutes a day to do one. I lead others in my Facebook Balance Challenge – join us!
Celebrate every victory – big, little and not just yours!
Victories are few and far between. Therefore, it’s really important to celebrate every single one that you can!
I recently had a big victory with one of my dogs. I train and compete with him in AKC obedience. Crazy, I know… The training creates a strong bond between us – and if he’s my best friend then we need to have a strong bond! Last weekend we earned the Companion Dog title. That doesn’t sound very impressive because, after all, what else would a Boston Terrier be but a companion dog?
To earn this title, though, the dog must walk in “heel position” (his shoulders even with my leg) through a pattern that includes right and left turns, about turns and two or three stops (when the dog must sit in “heel position”) – both on and off the leash. The team must perform a “Figure 8” around two people standing 8 feet apart 4 times, with 2 “halts.” This is on-lead. The dog must stand perfectly still, off-lead, while the judge touches him on the head, the shoulders and the rump while the handler is 6 feet away. The dog must come to the handler only when called, from a sit position, and sit in front of her from across the ring. And then go to the heel position while the handler stands still. And then the dog must line up with other dogs competing in the same class, spaced a couple of feet apart. They’ll sit and stay there while the handlers go across the ring – for a minute. The handlers come back. Then the dogs lie down and stay for 3 minutes with the handlers across the ring. And the dogs have to do this successfully 3 times – at 3 different trials – under at least 2 different judges…
OK – enough boring stuff. That’s what I’ve been doing, though. That’s what I’ve put in hundreds of hours training with my dog for. All for very expensive ribbons and a piece of paper. (The training fees and trial entry fees.) So I’ll celebrate this victory for a while!
Celebrate the bond
Most importantly, I will celebrate the bond that I have with my dog.
Celebrate a day with sunshine
But, I haven’t been waiting to celebrate victories. I celebrate a day with sunshine. Celebrate a day that I don’t misplace my keys. When I don’t miss another piece of bread on my sandwich.
Celebrate not having to stop at every traffic signal – when the lights are green! Celebrate when you receive the information you actually requested from a co-worker. Celebrate a conversation with your in-laws that didn’t feel like pulling teeth.
But not with chocolate cake…
Celebrate every little thing. But not with chocolate cake. At least, not every time! Save that for the bigger victories. Lean back and smile. Say, “cheers!” with your water glass. Take a deep breath and tackle the next issue.