Wednesday, March 29, 2017

5 Natural Ways To Improve Your Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep can be refreshing and rejuvenating. For millions, though, a good night’s sleep seems just out of reach. People of all ages across the globe suffer from occasional to chronic insomnia.

Insomnia is a condition that interrupts your ability to fall asleep or stay asleep. If you are suffering from this sleep disturbance, you may be hesitant to turn to harsh medications to help you fall asleep.

Here are 5 ways that you can help improve your sleep naturally.

Reduce the Caffeine

The morning cup of coffee seems to be a staple beverage for many people. However, caffeine is not just in coffee. Caffeine can be hiding in the soda you drink, the tea, and even some of the foods you eat. While eliminating caffeine out of your diet 100% may not be possible, try to limit your consumption of caffeine to the mornings only. Prevention Magazine tells us that ingesting caffeine, even 6 hours before bedtime, can disrupt sleep.


Not only does exercise help you maintain a healthy body weight and better mental outlook but a Sleep Foundation study found that those who exercised were less sleepy during the day and slept better at night. While a new exercise routine may leave you a little tired at first, regular exercise will give you more energy and help you fall asleep at bedtime. This may have to do with the chemicals released by the body when you exercise. The neurotransmitters released by the brain during exercise have all sorts of beneficial properties and improved sleep is one of them.


Meditation has a restorative effect on the brain. There are all sorts of benefits that meditation can have for a person. Many of the benefits of meditation include reduced stress and a better ability to cope with difficult issues in one’s life. Meditation is also great for insomnia. A Harvard study found that mindful meditation helped combat insomnia. It invokes a relaxation response in those who participate helping them relax enough to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep through the night. If you are not familiar with how to meditate there are many guided meditation audio programs that you can buy or check out from your library.

Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene is a practice to help you sleep better at night. It has to do with environmental cues. Alaska sleep notes that these environmental cues should be taken into consideration if you aren’t sleeping.
  • Use the bedroom for sex and sleep only
  • No electronics
  • Keep the room dark and quiet
  • Keep your room cool
  • Have a good mattress
  • Set your alarm clock away from your bed
  • Get Up Every Morning
Getting up at the same time every day and avoiding naps helps your body follow a circadian rhythm. According to Verywell we need this to sleep well at night. There are two really important elements to this step.
  1. Stop hitting the snooze and train yourself to get up at the same time every day. If you hit the snooze button once or twice (or 6 times), you are not really training yourself to get up at the same time every day. If you know you do not need to get up until 7:30, stop setting your alarm for 7. Save yourself the 30 minutes of interrupted sleep and set the alarm for 7:30, get up the first time it goes off.
  2. NO NAPS. If you are not used to getting up in the morning, then this may be the hard part for you. Napping can throw you off for sleeping at night because you simply are not tired enough to get to bed on time. Skip the nap (and the caffeine), and stay up so that you can get a good nights sleep. 
Now you have an arsenal of information that should help you fall asleep faster at night. Remember, finding what works well for you may take some playing around. So, if you don’t get it right the first night or two don’t give up. These sleep strategies are proven to work. They just take time. Give them a few weeks and you should be sleeping soundly.

Monday, March 27, 2017

10 Ways Exercise Boosts Your Self Confidence

All of us want to feel good about ourselves. When we are confident, we feel better emotionally and mentally and this reflects in a very positive way in our behaviors, and improves our quality of life, everything from personal relationships to our professional endeavors.

Therefore, anything, which can help boost our self-confidence, is good for us. One of the best ways to boost your self-confidence is by exercising regularly. This not only good for self-assurance but has great health benefits.

So how can exercise boost self-confidence? Let me count the ways...
  • Weight Control. Exercising along with healthy eating is the best way to control or lose weight. This is all about energy intake and energy burning. Obviously, if you burn more energy than you take in then you will lose weight. Being overweight can be a confidence destroyer. Therefore the better shape you are, the better you will feel.

  • Improves mood. There's nothing better emotionally than a good workout. Before you think that this requires a trip to the gym, think again. A good workout could be a brisk walk, or a jog. In fact, anything that makes your body work physically harder can be a workout. What this does is to stimulate brain chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, which promote a general feeling of well-being. The results are a reduction in stress and anxiety.

  • It's good for the heart. Regular exercising lowers the risk of various heart-related conditions. Exercising has been proven to lower blood pressure, reduce problems associated with diabetes and can even help in fighting heart disease. This is quite logical – if exercising reduces weight, then this means that the heart has to work less and in turn, the heart is much healthier. There is also less pressure on joints and other areas of the body.

  • Keeps the body in shape. This is slightly different from weight control. Being is shape involves having a well-toned body and better posture – all aspects connected with self-confidence. When a person feels good about himself, it's easier to make friends and more connections in life means more confidence.

  • More energy. If we don't have the energy to do things, then everything becomes a chore. That can lead to feelings of feeling bad about oneself. Regular exercise helps the whole body work more effectively. The result is that chores become responsibilities and the more responsibility we are coping with, the better we feel.

  • Better sleep. Regular exercise promotes good sleep. It is proven that sleep is necessary for general feelings of well-being. Sleep is also necessary for how we look. Just imagine preparing for an important meeting and looking in the mirror and seeing dark circles under bloodshot eyes – how confident will you feel? Therefore, exercising will improve sleep. One word of warning – just don't exercise too near bedtime.

  • Improves productivity. One of the best ways to clear the mind is to exercise regularly. Exercise gives you a chance to wipe the slate clean and start from new. In addition, if you push yourself exercising you can realize new potentials and this in turn boosts self-confidence. Very often, what you thought was a major problem before exercising disappears after.

  • Give you something to look forward to. Once you have a reasonable schedule for exercising, you will start to look forward to it. This in itself is a confidence booster. Once you start seeing the benefits of exercising, you will have the desire to continue and in the end, you feel better and look better.

  • Improves concentration. In general exercising helps us to develop the necessary skills to concentrate on the task in hand. This then trains us better when we have tasks or responsibilities to concentrate better, resulting in more praise and benefits.

  • Feelings of control and achievement. In general, exercising has so many benefits to health and mind that we can't help having a feeling of control and achievement. Working out takes work, dedication, commitment, and care for oneself, and all this facilitates enormous feelings of confidence.

Don’t Wait! Get Started Today!

Try incorporating regular exercising into your routine and you will experience the many benefits to your self-confidence that regular exercising gives.

Monday, March 20, 2017

8 Key Foods for Focus and Concentration

Focus and concentration are vital in just about everyone’s lives in one way or another. Many people find it hard to focus or concentrate for long periods of time, or sometimes to even get started. The elusive secret to endless focus and concentration is a myth, but there are certain ways you can increase your focus and concentration levels.

Techniques such as yoga and meditation have been shown to help focus the mind and come highly recommended. In addition, there are certain foods that can help increase focus and concentration levels, and these are outlined below.

Salmon & Other Types of Fish

Fish such as salmon, mackerel, and trout contain omega-3, which has been continually shown to improve brain function and therefore concentration. By affecting our cognitive processes, we can think clearer and therefore increase our focus. These foods also have anti-inflammatory properties, which helps to protect the brain cells and keep them functioning properly.

Berries & Tomatoes

Berries and tomatoes are high in antioxidants, specifically, vitamins A, C and E. These foods help to maintain sufficient blood flow to the brain, which is essential to keep the brain working, as it should; without an adequate blood flow, the brain will struggle to focus. Moreover, these foods also contain anti-inflammatory properties, so also help to protect the brain cells.


Nuts are high in vitamin B6, which has been scientifically shown to be beneficial to our cognitive processes. Specifically, vitamin B6 directly affects our memory and concentration levels, so increasing our level of B6 intake can affect our focus and concentration levels. Research has also suggested that, apart from improving our focus and concentration, vitamin B6 may have an important role in protecting us from diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

Dark chocolate

Good quality dark chocolate has many important health benefits in addition to improving focus and concentration. Research has shown that dark chocolate can increase serotonin and endorphin levels, both of which can help our brain to function better. Moreover, dark chocolate also contains anti-oxidants and a number of important vitamins and minerals such as potassium. However, too much chocolate can rapidly increase the calories consumed, which ultimately may reduce the positive effects it can have.


Such a simple idea, but water is incredibly effective. A huge percentage of our bodies are made up of water so it is perhaps no wonder that we can struggle to function if we do not consume an adequate amount of water. Dehydration can occur relatively quickly and one of the first parts to be affected is the brain. Without adequate water, it can be hard to think clearly and mental fatigue can quickly set in.

Green Tea

When you feel like you need a caffeine hit, most people reach for the coffee. By the time, you add sugar and milk, the calories can soon add up and there may not be so much of a positive effect. As an alternative, opt for the green tea instead. Not only is it better for your waistline, but it contains caffeine, which will help with your focus and concentration. In addition, green tea is rich in anti-oxidants, which helps to protect the brain cells.


Bananas are a simple and easy snack to consume, even for those people on the go. Studies have shown that students who consume bananas before an exam performed much better than those who did not. Bananas contain high levels of potassium, an essential brain chemical. Potassium helps to keep your brain and nerve cells in top working order. Combine this with other foods listed above and you should never be short of focus or concentration again.

If you typically live on junk and processed food and find yourself struggling with focus and concentration, then consider eating these power foods and, in general, changing your diet to include more healthy whole foods.  It can really do wonders for your brain!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

4 Ways Water Can Help Regulate What and How Much You Eat

Weight loss can be a hard task for anyone. There're so many different elements that go into losing weight it can be like learning a whole new set of information. There is one simple thing that you can do to help regulate how much and what you eat. Drinking water is not a magical cure-all, but it may seem like it after you learn what it can do to help you regulate your eating.

Water Aids Digestion Through Saliva

Digestion starts with saliva. Saliva is made mostly of water. According to Everyday Health, the enzymes in saliva are the beginning of the digestive tract. These enzymes help break down food so that they can be properly digested in the stomach. Without these and times food would never be able to be processed in the stomach.

Water also helps break down the fiber. Water-soluble fiber is one of the biggest factors of filling full after you eat. If you have not had enough water, or are dehydrated digesting water soluble fiber becomes almost impossible. Make sure that you can digest this food element properly by drinking lots of water.

Water Soluble Vitamins

One of the reasons that we eat food is to get access to vitamins. Vitamins and minerals are vital to various body functions. Deficits in these minerals and vitamins can cause cravings in the body. San Francisco Gate tells how the body cannot digest certain water-soluble vitamins without enough water in the body.

Water-soluble vitamins are vitamins that can only be absorbed with the aid of water. These vitamins break down with the water in the digestive tract and men are absorbed into the body. Absorption of these essential vitamins stops when dehydration occurs, or when there is not enough water in the body. When even slight deficiencies are present, you may begin craving additional foods even though you’re not hungry. These cravings are due to vitamin deficiencies and not hunger so make sure that you have enough water so that you can digest all your water-soluble vitamins.

Eat Fewer Calories

Water can help you eat fewer calories than you would if you didn’t drink water before meals. Livestrong notes a study where participants consumed 75-90 fewer calories with 2 8-oz glasses before dinner per meal. Now consuming 90 fewer calories per meal may not seem like a whole lot. However, if you did this every meal you could lose up to 28 pounds a year.


If you save 90 calories a meal three times a day, that’s 270 calories every day that you’re not eating. If you do this every day for a week you’ve not consumed 1890 calories. Continue saving that 90 calories a meal every week for a year, and you’ve saved 98,280 calories. 3500 calories make up a pound. In weight loss, the theory is that a deficit of 3500 calories means 1 pound of weight loss. By saving 98,280 calories you’ve created a pretty big gap.

Meaning 28 pounds!

On the flip-side, if you were to continue eating as normal that 90 calories could be in excess. So, instead of saving, you’ve actually GAINED 28 pounds in a year. All this weight loss or weight gain is changed by only drinking two 8-ounce glasses of water before each meal.

Hunger and Thirst Cues are the Same

You may be reaching for a snack when what you should be reaching for is a tall glass of water. Spark People shared an article describing how the body sends out the exact same signal for hunger that it does for thirst. Many people don’t know how to tell the difference between hunger and thirst, and because we so rarely think about dehydration we assume that we are hungry. Next time you’re getting hungry signals from your brain try reaching for a glass of water instead. You may find out that you were just thirsty.

Now you know four surprising ways that water can help you control how much and what you eat. Helping you stop cravings and eat less water is a fantastic one stop shop for your diet solutions. What are some ways that you have noticed water help you with your diet?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane

The alignment was right within Canva but when I save the file the title shifts...

Benny's mother is sick so we're making the trip to Germany to visit her and the rest of his family.  I really wanted Austin to join us, especially since it's over his spring break, but I'm not sure it would've worked out.  So many factors come into play from cost, to getting my ex to comply, to the logistics of it all.

This is my first time on an airplane since the ex and I went to California in 99.  It's also my first time traveling overseas.  On top of that, now that I know some of the incompetence in the aircraft manufacturing industry...well, it kinda makes me want to obtain a list of manufacturers for all the components on the plane to see whether or not I trust that certain critical parts were made correctly.

Travel Arrangements

The grand adventure begins Tuesday when we ride the Greyhound bus to New York.  You may be asking why we're not flying or driving ourselves this leg of the trip.  It's straight up the cost...about an extra $400 on round trip airfare or one way car rental.  I have plenty of vacation time (and will get my next batch in May) so this trip will hopefully allow me to relax a bit.

We arrive very early Wednesday morning, giving us almost 15 hours in the city before the flight to Berlin takes off.  So what are we supposed to do with our luggage and what will we do to kill all that time?  If you have any recommendations please be sure to let me know.  The flight to Berlin is non-stop so that'll be smooth sailing.  We'll pick up a rental car at the airport (most likely) and head to a bank to exchange currency before driving to Benny's brother's house where we'll be staying.

We'll head back home a couple of weeks later but we have about a 9 hour layover in Lisbon.  Also looking for recommendations as to what to do there.  We didn't book the Greyhound back in case there are any flight delays that would stop us from being in line with the bus departure times.

Fitting in Fitness

Benny says they don't have gyms there like they have here (whatever that means LOL) so I'll have to improvise with workouts.  I'm bringing the resistance band set for strength training and plan to take walks throughout the neighborhood or wherever else we end up going.  How do you like to fit in fitness when you travel?

Healthy Eating?

I have no idea what food options I'll have while overseas.  As I don't speak the language (Benny's family speaks some English but it's rusty) so he'll have to interpret most conversations and translate the menus for me.  I've only met his parents so I don't know anything about how the rest of Benny's family cooks or eats.  My tub of Chocolate Brownie PlantFusion is already packed in the suitcase along with a shaker cup so at least I know I'll have something healthy.  We're still sorting out what we're bringing for the bus ride.

Adventure awaits!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Eating Fruits and Vegetables for a Healthier You

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that we eat between five and nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily. When you first hear that number, it may seem like a lot, but it is much easier than you think to fit that many servings of fruits and vegetables into your daily diet. For one thing, the shelves of the grocery stores are bursting with fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition, vegetables and fruits are some of the least expensive, most nutrient rich, foods in the supermarket. With all these fruits and vegetables to choose from, it can be simple to make these nutritious, delicious foods part of your daily meals and snacks.

When you consider how much a serving really is, it is quite painless to get five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day. For instance, the recommended daily amount equates to a quite reasonable two cups of fruit and two and a half cups of vegetables every day. When you consider how many fruits and vegetables are available, and how low the prices usually are, reaching this daily goal is pretty easy.

One great way to get the nutrients you need from fruits and vegetables every day is to take full advantage of the variety of these foods available. Eating the same thing every day quickly becomes boring, so why not pick a variety of fruits and vegetables, in every color of the rainbow and in every conceivable shape, size and texture, to give yourself a varied diet every day.

When shopping for fruits and vegetables, it is important to choose a variety of different colors. This is for more than purely artistic reasons. Different color fruits and vegetables have different types of nutrients, and choosing a variety of colors will help ensure you get all the vitamins and minerals you need each day.

Finding new recipes is another great way to ensure you get those five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Almost everyone likes to try out new recipes, and these new recipes may just provide the stimulus you need to eat all those fruits and veggies.

New recipes can also provide you the opportunity to try out some fruits and vegetables you have never tried before. For instance, everyone has eaten oranges, but have you tried kiwi fruit or mangoes? How about spinach or kale? Trying new things is a great way to find new favorites while getting the best nutrition available.

Many people mistakenly think that they do not need to eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day if they just take a vitamin supplement. Nothing could be further from the truth. That is because fruits and vegetables contain far more than the micronutrients identified by science and synthesized in vitamin supplements. While these micronutrients, such as vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin E are important to good health, so too are the hundreds of other elements that are contained in healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. These elements are not available in any pill, they must be ingested through a healthy, balanced diet that contains plenty of fruits and vegetables.

In addition, fruits and vegetables are much less costly than vitamin pills. Fruits and vegetables are very inexpensive, especially when purchased in season and grown locally. In the long run, getting the nutrition you need from the food you eat is much less expensive, and much better for you, than popping those vitamin supplements every day.

So, don’t forget to get your five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day. It may seem like a lot, but you can meet this quite reasonable goal simply by including fruits and vegetables as snacks, as garnishes, as side dishes and as meals.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Delayed Gratification Scoundrel

We first talked about the Complacent Scoundrel.  This character is stuck in the status quo, never seeking what is best for herself.  The Delayed Gratification Scoundrel is stuck in a different place - the future.

Characteristics of the Delayed Gratification Scoundrel

For the Delayed Gratification Scoundrel, she's always choosing to look forward to happiness at some later date or time.  It's always a case of "I'll be happy when" with her.  She's locked into the mindset of the future situation and enjoying that new phase of her life.  This becomes a problem when she never chooses what'll make her happy NOW or when she sacrifices her present happiness for something that may never happen.  Plain and simple, the Delayed Gratification Scoundrel is unable to experience contentment in the present, causing her to remain unhappy.

Questions to Ask

When you recognize that someone is affected by the Delayed Gratification Scoundrel, here are some questions to ask in order to gauge if she's ready to return to the present.
  • How has the Delayed Gratification Scoundrel helped you?
  • How has it negatively affected you?
  • When were you first introduced to the Delayed Gratification Scoundrel?  Was it brought to you by an outside force (family, culture, or society) or did you unconsciously accept it as your own?
  • How have you been a Delayed Gratification Scoundrel in the past week?
  • If there's something you'd rather be doing, can you do it instead?
  • On a scale of 1-10 (10=best), how would you rate you overall level of satisfaction and happiness?
  • How have you delayed your happiness in the past?  How can you achieve instant gratification?
  • What's one thing you can do TODAY to have gratification and happiness in your life TODAY?

Defeating the Delayed Gratification Scoundrel

Just as with the Complacent Scoundrel, there are a variety of ways to defeat the Delayed Gratification Scoundrel.  However, these require a little more creativity to accomplish.

One big way to defeat the Delayed Gratification Scoundrel is to take time out of your day to play.  What things do you enjoy doing, that entertain and excite you?  Be artistic.  Play games with your family or friends.  Dress funky.  Do whatever enjoyable activity that helps you to nurture your inner child and get out of your own way, putting the serious you in the background for that moment in time.

Another way is to allow yourself to be in awe of life.  Take time to appreciate the little things in your environment and recognize the little things in yourself.  Return to your child-like vision of the world, observing everything.  You'll find things that you hadn't noticed before that this mind shift enables you to enjoy.

A third way is to add novelty into your life to make it more exiting.  To do this you'll have to step out of your comfort zone.  Just like with workouts you need to mix things up in the rest of your life.  I'm getting ready to do this myself in the next couple of weeks as we head to Germany to visit Benny's ailing mother.  I haven't been on a plane since 99 and don't know the language.  The whole trip is a novelty for me.


To keep your mind on defeating the Delayed Gratification Scoundrel, there are many affirmations that can guide you.  Pick any from the list (or choose your own), write them down, and place the affirmations around your home and workplace where they're visible to you.

I deserve all that I desire.
I desire all that I deserve.
I deserve to live the life I choose to lead.
I choose to be happy now.
I live in a limitless reality.
I accept the abundance of the Universe now.
My happiness is important to me today.
I listen to my heart.
I am in awe of my life as it stands right now.
I am balanced between work and play.
I revel in the ebb and flow of life.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

10 Reasons to Stop Eating Junk Food

We’ve all been told that junk food is bad for us, but because it tastes so darn good, most of us continue eating it;.After all, fruits and vegetables can’t beat the taste of fries, right?


Not only are fruits and vegetables among the most tastiest natural and healthiest foods on the planet, but junk food is also the lowest common denominator. It might tempt you with its "rock ’n’ roll swagger," but junk food offers absolutely no vital nutrients and zero health benefits.

Is it really worth risking your health and possibly enduring chronic disease as a result?

Here are 10 reasons why you should stop eating junk food:

Junk Food Is Linked To Diabetes

Diabetes is caused when the pancreas becomes so under siege that it can no longer produce adequate amounts of insulin. Insulin is the hormone that turns sugar into fuel, and as experts point out, junk food is loaded with unnatural sugars that can lead to type-2 diabetes that unfortunately can result in serious complications and premature death.

Junk Food Causes Digestive Issues

Virtually everyone on the planet will encounter digestive issues at some time or another. Among these issues are irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, bloating and excess gas. However, some complain that they suffer from digestive issues all the time, and the reason for this could be that they eat too much junk.

Junk food is full of oil, sugar, trans fats and chemicals that wreak havoc on your stomach. In addition, once your stomach is irritated, your digestive system goes out of whack.

Junk Food Causes Brain Fog

Many people just assume that only our bellies, thighs, and double chins are affected by a poor diet. However, fats don’t just make their way to your bulging abdomen - they also attack your brain.

When bad fats - such as those found in junk food - reach your brain, they cause brain fog, which is that feeling you get when you can’t focus on anything.

Junk Food Causes Fatigue

Junk food contains very few nutrients, vitamins and protein, all of which are essential for an invigorated you who seizes the day. If you exist on junk food alone, you’re going to struggle to do anything at optimum power. You’ll largely feel lethargic and run down.

Junk Food Is Linked With Depression Among Teenagers

1 in 3 U.S. teens eat junk food each day, and on top of the hindrance to their physical health, it is also important to consider what effect junk is having on their mental well-being.

Research has shown that the more junk food we eat, the more we are prone to depression. This is especially the case for teenagers because they are more susceptible to hormonal changes, which can be massively influenced by their diet.

Junk Food Can Cause Elevated Blood Sugar Levels

Junk food is rich in sugar, which puts stress on the metabolism. Moreover, because it’s low in carbs and protein, your blood sugar levels are more at risk of plummeting when you stop eating. This can make you feel moody and make you want to eat even more junk food.

Junk Food Can Increase Your Risk Of Heart Disease

Heart disease is indeed really scary, but there are preventative measures we can take to ensure we don’t struggle with it later on in life. Avoiding junk food is one such method because such food is rich in bad fats that increase your bad cholesterol levels and in turn encourage plaque to form and heart disease to develop.

Junk Food Can Damage Your Liver

Once your liver becomes overloaded with all the junk you’re throwing at it, it will certainly let you know. You’ll feel lethargic, stressed, irritable, and you may develop headaches, skin conditions and a whole lot more.

Junk food has been linked to liver disease on more than one occasion, and it turns out that it can be just as bad for your most overworked organ as alcohol.

Junk Food Increases Your Risk Of Cancer

The main reason for the link between certain foods and cancer is a lack of fiber. Moreover, junk food is low in mostly everything that’s good for you - including fiber.

Junk Food Is Linked To Kidney Damage

Fries are soaked in finely processed salt. When combined with a fatty, greasy hamburger, you’re essentially double downing on kidney disease, which comes about when too much salt increases blood pressure on a consistent basis.


So what should you be enjoying instead?

Eat less CRAP
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Refined sugars
  • Artificial sweeteners and colors
  • Processed foods
Eat more FOOD
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Organic (whenever possible) lean proteins
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Drink water