Self-Control = Better Health

Self-control.  Self-discipline.  Delay of gratification.  Whatever you call it, it’s a skill that can be practiced and improved upon.

Take a minute to think of areas where you could use more self-control.  Is it eating less of a particular food that is unhealthy or maybe eating more of a food that is healthy?  It is exercising “wait time” and letting your initial anger pass before disciplining your marshmallow-demanding two-year-old?  Is it adding ten minutes a day to your workout?  Is it not checking your iPhone every two minutes for new emails or texts?  My personal list could go on and on.

Whether it’s something related to the physical, the emotional, or the spiritual, numerous studies show that exercising self-control leads to better overall health.  As you continue to think of one or two areas where you could use more self-control, consider a few suggestions for practicing and improving your self-discipline:

1) Give up something small but significant.  For about four years in my early 20s, I went without sugar for six of seven days every week.  Six days a week I would abstain from any added sugar, and on the seventh (which, for me, was Sundays), anything went!  At first, I would plan all week on what sugary items I was going to binge on Sunday, but, as time went on, I cared less and less about eating my “Sunday sugar.”  This was a great exercise in self-control for me.  I did it for the physical benefits, but now, as an “older” adult, I can see the mental and spiritual benefits as well.  Is there something small but significant that you could give up?

2)  Add something that you know you should do but currently aren’t doing.  Maybe it’s increasing the amount of days or the amount of time per day spent exercising.  If you miss a day doing whatever it is, make it a rule (and stick to it) that you’ll add an extra day tomorrow or next week.  For example, at one point in my life, what worked for me was to jog a set amount of time/distance for five days a week.  If I missed a day, I would add that time/distance to the next day…it wasn’t an option; it was the rule.  Not making it your goal to do that something every day of the week will give you a “flex” day or two or three in case you miss a day (or two or three) to make up the missed time.  While the first few days and weeks might be hard, it won’t take long before the addition of days or time will become the new norm.  I increased from jogging about 5K a day to almost 9K a day by very slowly over time increasing my daily norm.  It was a very slow, natural increase that was hardly noticeable day-by-day but certainly was noticeable over time.  Whatever your “something” is, make it doable for your stage of life and increase with time.  Also, set yourself up for success.  If it’s getting up early for a morning workout, sleep in your workout clothes (seriously…it works!) or put them at the foot of your bed for an easy-on in the morning.  If it’s not hitting the snooze button and waking for your morning quiet time, set out your reading material and open it up to your starting page the night before.

3) Set an attainable but difficult goal and a “due date” to achieve that goal.  If your goal pertains to exercise, why not seek out a one-mile fun run, a 5K, a 10K, a half-marathon, or a marathon now so that you have a goal (the distance), a due date (that you can’t change), and the motivation (pay for it now!)?  The RunOn! Texas website maintains an excellent list of local races (http://www.runontexas.com/calendar/Calendar.htm) as well as links to get registered online.  Register with a friend, and keep each other accountable!

While the physical benefits of improving our self-control in areas such as nutrition and health and wellness might be the initial goals, consider how being more self-controlled in an area pertaining to the physical can help you be more self-controlled in your spiritual walk as well.  Any of the above-listed suggestions related to physical aspects of life could easily translate to the spiritual.  Go back to the list that you brainstormed earlier related to areas where you could improve in self-control.  How many were physical and how many were spiritual?  Consider adding one spiritual item to your list and then using suggestion 1, 2, or 3 from above to improve in that area.

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Freshening Up The Look Of Your Home

Spring is here, which means in addition to finding the best patch of bluebonnets to take photos, you may also be looking to freshen up the look of your home.  Lily Gahagan, contributing writer for Houzz recently highlighted many great do-it-yourself projects in her article, “Spruce Up the House with 50 Clever DIY Projects.”  I loved so many of the projects that she found and thought I would highlight my top five favorites for you to consider doing in your own home.

The first project that caught my eye was this modular bookcase made out of salvaged drawers.

Monica from “Crafty Nest” hit the nail on the head when she discovered a way to repurpose these mismatched drawers that she picked up from freecycle.  Check out her wonderful tutorial to create your own modular bookcase from drawers.  This is a great way to get organized for Spring, too!

The next project I want to share with you is for all of you pet lovers out there. This vintage suitcase turned chic pet bed is awesome!  If you’re not afraid of using a drill and have a little four-legged friend then this may be the project for you.  Find out more details at Houzz.

The third project I want to show you is for all of you upcycle lovers, which includes me, of course!  If you love to “be green” then this art made from toilet paper rolls will put a smile on your face.

This diy project is great for kids of all ages.  I hope to make one with my two boys in the near future.  For steps to this tutorial check out Growing Up Creative.

The fourth project I would like to share with you is the pouf, and no, I am not talking about everyone’s hair from the 80s.  I mean this kind of pouf:

If you know how to knit then this would be a great project for you, seeing as these poufs are all the rage right now in home décor.  I do not know the first thing about knitting, but I do know how to link you to a website that will give you the down low on all the glorious steps to make this little seat.  Just click here.

The final project I wanted to highlight for you is this cool piece of diy art, let’s call it “Fish Scale Art.”

I have the perfect spot in my master bedroom for a piece like this.  Now to find the time to trace, then cut out and glue 400 circles to create it.  I think it would be worth missing a few hours of sleep, though, don‘t you?  To find out the details on this tutorial check out “Signed by Tina.”

I hope that you’ve enjoyed these top five do-it-yourself projects that I chose from Houzz’s “Spruce Up the House with 50 Clever DIY Projects.”  Be sure to check out the other fabulous projects for your home inspiration.

Happy Creating!
Jen

 

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Top to Bottom

It’s been three-and-a-half months since our second daughter was born. And, if I do say so myself, she’s perfect from top to bottom! Now, almost four months post-partum, I’m not shooting for perfect – just decent – from top to bottom as I work hard to get back into shape.

From top to bottom, here are my favorite exercises:

1. Upright rows: This exercise tones the shoulders and hits the biceps, too. It can be done with a barbell or hand weights. I prefer to go lighter on the weight but sustain a longer work period. Or, in other words, instead of doing the traditional 12 reps three times, try choosing less weight but sustaining the exercise for three minutes. If you’re musically inclined, try lifting to the beat – going up for one count and down for three, up for two and down for two, and up for three counts and down for one.

2. Planks: Planks are my all-time favorite way to strengthen the core. There are so many variations and modifications that can be done, you’ll never bore your core with planks. Check out the following site and view the various links on the right-hand side. http://www.livestrong.com/article/502686-keys-to-plank-workouts/

3. Glute bridges: To tone the tops of the legs and the glutes, you can’t beat glute bridges. To increase the intensity, add hand weights or a barbell to your upper thighs. Or, go one-legged by lifting a leg in the air as you bridge. Switch legs. On each lift, be sure to give the glutes a good squeeze. For an extra-good burn, hold the exercise at the top (with hips fully lifted) and pulse.

4. Calf raises: Running and step aerobics are great exercises for the calves. If you don’t have the time, try calf raises throughout the day. To increase the intensity, stand on a step or bench and add hand weights. If you have difficulty balancing, hold a wall with one hand and hold your hand weight with the other hand. Be sure to stretch afterwards, or walking the next day might pose a problem (http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-241-287–8969-0,00.html).

Mastering just a few, effective exercises is a good way to start. Remember, it’s all about quality rather than quantity. When working from top to bottom, try doing the top/upper body (numbers 1 and 2) on one day and the bottom/lower body (numbers 3 and 4) the next day rather than doing all four in one day in order to give your muscles time to repair and strengthen. And, you don’t need a gym to do any of these exercises. Grab a few hand weights from Target, Wal-Mart, or Academy, and you’ll be ready to strengthen, from top to bottom.

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What are you cutting out of your Diet?

I have a few friends giving things up now that bathing suits are appearing in all those catalogues that litter the mailbox. Meat, Coke, chocolate. I am a little late getting into the pre-swim season, but starting April 1st I was planning to set the clock for an hour earlier in the morning for some exercise. Then, I came across an article about letting go of shame. Now there’s something so many of us need to cut out of our emotional diet.

In the article, Shame – Healing Old Wounds Through Current Relationships by Cynthia W. Lubow, the author gives examples of coping mechanisms we use to hide our shame. In it she says:

Coping mechanisms include: perfectionism, ragefulness, acting as if one is invisible to others, contemptuousness, a need for power, blaming, abuse of substances, people pleasing, compulsive sex, eating, need for control, or busyness, self-hate, measuring people as better or worse than us, obsessing, pushing people away, and many others.

We need to scan the list for habits in our own life that we may use like bathing suit ‘cover ups’ to hide our shame. These habits keep us from healthy relationships with others and ourselves. Even better, the article tells us that current healthy relationships can heal old wounds!

Whatever your past regrets or inflicted wounds, please consider the same. We often work on getting rid of the guilt, but hold onto the shame. We can forgive the ‘event’ but keep on punishing ourselves for it. Ask a counselor or a trusted friend for help. Through their unconditional love and acceptance, you can cut shame out of your diet for good!

To read the entire article go to: http://EzineArticles.com/3489467

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Putting Your Weight to Work for You

Several years ago, I used to travel five to six days a week. I was known among colleagues as an airport junky who tested airport limits and tried to make the most of my many hours spent there, from asking a TSA agent, knowing that scissors with two-inch blades were allowed to be carried on, if seventy pairs of scissors with two-inch blades were allowed to be carried on (I used scissors during presentations), to doing triceps dips and push ups in the pre-board area, and to painting my nails on a plane (I found out the hard way that this is absolutely not allowed).  I had a gym passport that would allow me to work out at a gym in any city and state, but that wasn’t always convenient when battling airports many hours a day, most days of the week.  As many travelers have, I tried packing a ten-pound medicine ball and deflated exercise ball in my suitcase so that hotel room workouts would be possible, but that quickly became a no-go in light of extra fees incurred by airlines for too heavy or too many bags.

During another life stage, having small babies at home kept me out of the gym more often than I would have wished, and ‘doctor’s orders’ post-delivery dictated that I steer clear of weights for six whole weeks.

The solution? Using my own body weight rather than equipment to allow for on-the-road and at-home workouts that can be adjusted for any fitness level, whether partum, post-partum, or just partial to staying out of the gym.

Here are a few exercises to try:

- Push Ups: This exercise gives you a good bang for your buck, as it works lots of muscles (chest, shoulders, triceps, back, core/abs, and biceps).  A benefit of push ups over a weighted chest press is that you’re working the back muscles, too.  Try doing four full push ups and then lowering halfway down and holding for five seconds.  Repeat this cycle five times.  Push ups can be done on your toes or on your knees for a modified, less intense exercise.  For an extra challenge, grab a few books, stack them, and put your hands on top of the books.

- Chair Tricep Dips: The triceps are one of the first muscles to decrease in strength when not exercising, and they’re also one of the easiest muscles to improve.  Place two chairs facing each other, about three feet apart.  Sit on one chair with your hands palm down and gripping the edge of the chair.  Place your heels on the edge of the other chair.  Slide forward just far enough so that your bottom clears the edge of the chair.  Lower yourself so that your elbows are at 90 degrees.  Do as many repetitions as you can.

- Wall Sit: Stand against a wall so that your back is leaning on the wall and your feet are about two feet away from the wall.  Slide your back down until your knees are at 90 degrees.  Hold as long as you can.  Hold in your abs and you’ll work the core, too.

- Planks: Get into push up position on your hands and toes, or on your elbows and toes.  Contract your abdominal muscles.  Keep your back straight (don’t collapse in the middle) and hold this position for as long as you can.  Great for abs, back, and shoulders.

- Walking Lunges: Start at one end of the room and take a long stride forward with the right leg.  Bend down so the forward knee is directly over the toes and at a 90 degree angle.  Raise up and repeat with the other leg across the room.

All it takes is a little motivation and some creativity, and you can get a full-body workout any time, anywhere!  Good luck!

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War of the Roses.

Ooh, Girl….You KNOW what yesterday was…That one day a year where we ladies think something magical…something unexpected…something…ROMANTIC is required to happen, lest we be the ONLY woman on the planet without a VALENTINE (GASP!). It’s almost like not getting asked to the Prom…minus the overpriced dress and crappy hotel food…We still have to endure the day, watch others receive flowers and chocolate from their considerate (or obedient, whichever the case may be) significant others, and now, thanks to Facebook, witness the prolific romantic displays unfold in various lives of friends and strangers around the world. And to add insult to injury, St. Valentine’s Day falls on a Tuesday this year, which means that it will be celebrated intermittently throughout the week, and into the weekend, starting last Saturday night. But I am really not bitter.

Seriously, in spite of being extremely happily married to my childhood love, I am throwing myself into the “ain’t nothing happening on V-Day for me” category for one huge reason: I never remember that it’s coming until the night before…and if I don’t remember it, there’s NO WAY my hub’s gonna remember. I WANT to remember. I love LOVE, am an avid fan of romantic gestures and Public Displays of Affection, and think that pink are red are the most passionate color combinations on the wheel…I just can’t remember to go to Target and buy that stuff-those things-the pink and red and heart-y items that say “I LOVE YOU” in that classic St. Valentine’s Day way…

So, for all you lovely ladies out there who are, for whatever the reason, spending the week like me in regard to St. Valentine’s Day, I’ve decided to give a few tips for not just surviving the week, but Thriving this week of Outward Expressions of Love. I always say, if you can’t join ‘em, beat ‘em…

5 ways to THRIVE during St.Valentine’s Week.

  • Keep in mind: Romance is a state of mind. Romance isn’t found only in the heart or actions of another, nor are its intentions strictly sexual. Romance is a gesture that directs our attention to where our passions lie- it has the power to inspire, to nourish, to create…We are surrounded daily by romantic gestures. Make it your goal to seek out things that get your heart pounding…You may be surprised to find a quickened pulse in an ordinary place, and inspiration in the most usual things. For me, that “tall” white cup with the mermaid on it, and the dark roast in it does it every time. It takes me there…
  • Choose a theme song and keep in your heart. This is a very effective practice that I have unknowingly kept for many years- I start my workday everyday with my theme song. It takes my mind to the place that I want to be, and keeps me inspired and motivated to be creative throughout the day. My current theme song is “Best Day of Your Life”, by Katie Herzig. You can borrow it if ya like, but remember-keep your theme song upbeat and motivating. I’ve wasted many a day on sad songs. The Titanic theme song bogged me down for weeks…weeks, I tell ya! But, alas- my heart MUST go on…
  • Dress it up. I know this sounds superficial, but when you are dressed in the manner that makes you feel pretty, you walk taller, hold your head higher, and step lighter. Break out your beautiful scarves, your push-up bra, your glossy lipstick…whatever it is that makes you, you. Wear it well, my dear. It’s ALL you.
  • Do romantic things: take a walk on the wintry streets, with your camera ready to capture the moments; relax in a tub of warm bubbles and a great book; write, paint, or compose a work of art. Heck- when I need a shot of romance, I just get in my car, set my cd selection, turn up the volume, and drive. That’s how this article was created.
  • Buy yourself that box of chocolates and get on with it. With all due respect and sympathy to the brokenhearted (I’ve been there myself, and get teary-eyed just thinking about it),  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the words of THAT BAND THAT I LOVE, MUTEMATH, in the song, All or Nothing: “always know if you’re holding yourself back- don’t slow yourself down anymore.” It also goes on to say that everyone has an hourglass to turn back upside down.  I say, if you are struggling to walk on, determine quickly what is restraining you, cut the anchor, and flip that glass again. If you’re breathing air, you ain’t done yet.

There is nothing more romantic, nothing more inspiring than seeing a woman at rest within. Make peace with that ol’ Saint Val, and embrace the opportunities of romantic inspiration that this week offers…It just might produce the Best Day of Your Life.

Ps…If you absolutely MUST indulge in a little self pity, check out my blog post on how to manufacture a good cry,  http://savvyboheme.com/you-and-me-babe-how-about-it/ , do it, and then, seriously, flip that hourglass again. You got this.

 

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