Set Goals for a Better Life

goalsLike most people, I like to set goals at the start of the year. This is the first time I’m actually writing them down which I think will help me stick to them more than I have in the past. Maybe it’s my age, but one of the problems I usually have is that by about March of each year I usually forget what my goals even were. Well this is the year I’m going to stick to them and then look at them next year to see how I did. Continue Reading →

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5 Relaxation Tips Anybody Can Use

relaxLife can be stressful. Between work, traffic, chores, family, friends, and everything else it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Stress is one of the most dangerous emotions we can experienced and has been shown to lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, and possibly even cancer. Unfortunately, there are oftentimes external factors that lead to high stress levels that can be difficult for us to control. For example, if your boss is difficult to deal with that may cause increased stress levels while you’re at work and also at home. For most people in this situation their only option would be to find a new job which isn’t really a good alternative. Continue Reading →

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Backpack Safety Tips

Urban Go PackThere’s a new threat out there ready to cause you grievous bodily injury and long-term harm. It might already be in your home. Lurking in the closet or under your bed. It may be next to you right now, it might even be doing its insidious damage to your person as you’re reading these very words.

It’s your backpack and it’s coming for you and your children, threatening your family with crippling back pain and residual suffering along other parts of the body. But you can put a stop to it.

People who use backpacks often are experiencing increased back problems and kids are particularly vulnerable to the kinds of health issues that heavy backpacks can pose. Dr. Scott Bautch from the American Chiropractic Association Council on Occupational Health has seen the disturbing trend mounting, especially among youth. “In my own practice, I have noticed a marked increase

in the number of young children who are complaining about back, neck and shoulder pain,” said Dr. Bautch, “The first question I ask these patients is, ‘Do you carry a backpack to school?’ Almost always, the answer is ‘yes.’”

So how do we solve this problem. There are a few tips that you can follow to help prevent undue stress, strain, and unnecessary injury from occurring.

 Lighten the Load

Don’t overpack your backpack. Keep it lightweight. Children should also be careful not to carry more than 15-20 percent of their body weight.

Find a Padded Pack

Make sure you get a pack with padded shoulder straps and some kind of padding to protect your back as well. The more padding, the more comfortable the bag will be to wear.

Extra Straps

Most backpacks now have waist and chest straps that help distribute the weight more evenly. These are especially helpful for kids, to keep their bag from moving around and fit tightly around them to prevent uneven weight balance.

More Pockets, the Better

Select a backpack that has a generous amount of individualized pockets so you can store all of your contents for better weight distribution throughout. Look into the wide range of military backpacks that are available here. Find out more about which ones offer the most pockets and size options that fit best for you or your child.

Lift Properly

Backpacks should always be picked up correctly. This means bending your knees and lifting with your legs. It will help to greatly reduce backaches and residual problems down the line.

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Kicking My New Exercise Regime Into High Gear

walking on trackWell, spring is in the air! I hope you’re feeling refreshed and rejuvenated just like I am. There’s nothing like taking a walk on a crisp spring morning while the grass is still dewy and the birds are just waking up. It just feels good.

A few weeks back I decided to start a new exercise regimen that includes walking 20 minutes each way to the community college stadium and meeting up with a group of friends to do some light cardio, stretching, and other exercises. We came up with a whole routine that starts with two trips around the track, some ab, leg, and back stretches, sit-ups, and then push-ups (most of us do these on our knees!). We then do two more trips around the track and repeat the stretching and exercises.

It’s only been a few weeks but I can already feel the difference in my energy level and posture! I’m feeling really good about myself and can tell I’m walking a little taller these days.

We’ve been tracking our progress each day. Our goal is to complete the routine a little faster each day. When we first started it took us about 30 minutes to finish but we’ve gotten that down to 27 minutes in a just a few short weeks! We’re all feeling great about our progress.

I volunteered to be in charge of timing our workout each day. I was just using my cell phone but a couple of days I forgot to start the timer which was embarrassing and screwed up our tracking. I decided to switch over to a wrist watch because it helps me remember and it’s easy to check as we’re making our way around the track. I ended up going with a military watch, which I know doesn’t sound like something I’d normally be in to, because it has all the features I need and is built to be tough. I never worry about breaking it while exercising. If you’re interested, you can find the best military watch by clicking here.

I think one of the best things about exercising in a group is that we motivate one another to keep at it. In the last month I’ve only missed one day and some of the other gals are doing even better than that.

I hope this will encourage you to stay active too. It’s amazing how good it feels to exercise.

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Healthy Foods That Should be in Everybody’s Diet

healthy foods!Have you heard the term “healthy foods?” Every year nutritionists encourage individuals to add healthy foods to their diet. The problem is that many people are unaware of which healthy foods are the best for them, and others believe that all foods that fall into this category are tasteless or will taste terrible. However, that’s just not true. There are many healthy foods, that when prepared properly, can be quite delicious. Additionally, these types of foods are quite affordable if one carefully focuses on comparison shopping.

For example, black beans, also commonly referred to as legumes, are very affordable and have all types of health benefits. They contain omega-3 fatty acids which are great for the heart, and are a great alternative to meat as they contain a large amount of protein. They also contain fiber. Black beans can be used in the creation of healthy burritos or can even be added as a common staple to salads. There are also many recipes found online that one can make use if they are interested in creating delicious black bean burgers.

Kale is another healthy food that many people are not aware of. It belongs to a family of vegetables that are considered to be “cancer fighting.” It is rich in vitamin k, includes antioxidants, and contains fiber. If the kale is baked with a covering of extra-virgin oil and a healthy sprinkling of sea salt and is baked in the oven, it can serve as a healthy alternative to potato chips. It can also be added as a regular fixture to salads. I grow kale in my garden every year and absolutely love it. You can also make kale “chips” by coating them with olive oil and placing them in the oven until they dry out and become crispy. Add a little sea salt and you have an amazing and healthy snack.

Salmon is one of the most recommended healthy foods among nutritionists. It is rich in vitamin D and includes all important omega-3 fatty acids. The best way to prepare salmon is to lightly grill it with a mixture of lemon juice. Some people will add soy sauce to the salmon to increase its taste. A person can consume salmon cooking in this manner immediately or can instead refrigerate it and add it as a topping to salad.

Pumpkin is another very popular vegetable that can be added to a persons died. It contains vitamin A and is high in fiber. It can be cooked in a variety of manners. Additionally, canned pumpkin can be used if you are unable to acquire a general pumpkin. Canned pumpkin can be used to create healthy cookies or can be added to oatmeal to give it a little kick. This is one of the most overlooked vegetables that a person can consider adding to their diet for the betterment of their health. Like kale, pumpkin is really easy to grow. Very hand off. And it’s for more than just Halloween!

Blueberries are one of the most commonly relied on healthy foods in the world. They are also considered to be one of the more appealing when it comes to taste. They contain high levels of antioxidant compounds and vitamin C and E. They can be used as toppings in cereal or yogurt, or can be used when making healthy smoothies. These are also a great addition to healthy salads.

The above are just a few of the most popular and beneficial healthy foods a person can choose to add to their diet. The more healthy foods you elect to add to your diet the more improvements you will see in your general health if you regulate the amount of food you eat.

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A Great Attitude Is The Road To Success

positive attitudeAttitude is a way of thinking or feeling, good or bad, that is revealed through a person’s behavior. Welcoming a horrible attitude can lead to stress within yourself as well as other people who are constantly in your presence. Negative thinking equals failure. Having a better outlook and becoming a happier person who radiates good vibes will make others gravitate toward you in a positive manner. There are several ways to gain and maintain a favorable attitude that could change your life for the better.

First of all you should focus on taking control and being in control of your own life and destiny. Feeling that you have little control over the events that are taking place in your life can lead to an unhealthy build-up of stress, which makes you seem like you’re locked in a small box and suffocating. On the other hand, when you feel that you are in control of what is going on around you, you have a sense of freedom and your attitude level is more pleasant and positive. A method that could help you become more in control of your situation is to start personal goal setting. When you focus on a set plan, you can thwart problems before they materialize.

Embracing your lifelong dreams can also make you feel great and be more pleasant. People who are living out their dreams obviously have less stress and are happier individuals. Therefore, you should hone in on pursuing your own dreams while encouraging others to pursue their dreams. For example, I dreamed of opening up a candle store for 20 years before I actually did it. I’m glad it finally happened, but I sure wish I had acted sooner.

Another way to improve your attitude is to be willing to learn new things on your path of life’s journey. You should never feel like it is too late to learn a new skill or begin a new hobby that is pleasing to you. When you are acquiring knowledge about something that is fun and interesting, you will experience a newly found sense of gratification that makes your attitude more positive.

Listening to your body and taking a rest when you need to can contribute to more positive stress tremendously. Sometimes you get so caught up in the day-to-day hustle and bustle of your nine-to-five, kids, spouse, and friends until you forget about taking care of yourself. When you start to experience yourself being worn down and tired most of the time, you definitely need to recharge your batteries. Take a solo vacation or treat yourself to a spa day where you can just meditate and get some much needed relaxation. Proper rest can drastically regenerate your mind, body, and spirit, resulting in a better attitude.

Treating people the way that you want to be treated is very important part of your attitude when dealing with others in your personal and professional life. After you engage in conversation with a person, you always want that person to leave the process feeling pleased to have interacted with you. No matter what situation you are faced with, you should try to approach it positively. Put your pessimistic attitude on the back burner and put a smile on your face and brace yourself for a successful outcome.

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Getting Started with Your Vegetable Garden

plant your own vegetable gardenGardening can become one of your greatest joys in life. It can be a rewarding hobby that not only provides fresh organic produce for your dinner table but you can save money from making multiple trips to the supermarket. Tending your garden through the fruits of your own labor brings a sense of intrinsic well being and has the benefit of relieving stress. I find it very soothing and relaxing to run my fingers through the soil, hopefully find an earthworm or two, and look at all my amazingly delicious produce.

However, gardening is not a simple exercise of turning some soil and sprinkling some seeds around. There are some basic steps to get started. Buying a gardening starter guide may be something to consider. It also might be enjoyable reading while sitting out next to your garden.

Benefits – There are multiple benefits to growing your own garden. Adding fresh vegetables to your diet that have been picked when properly ripe can be a great boost to personal health. Produce from your local supermarket that has been picked before it becomes fully ripe has been robbed of peak nutritional value. Vegetables that have been picked when properly ripe are bursting with flavor and essential vitamins and minerals.

Soil Preparation – Proper preparation of the ground where you will be planting is crucial. Find a good location where your garden will get plenty of sunlight. Dig and turn the soil down to a depth of at least six to eight inches. Augment your soil by mixing it until well blended with organic items like manure or composting soil. If you have stubborn or tough soil consider building a garden box above ground and add soils and composts.

Planting – Plant vegetables that you enjoy eating. Growing zucchini if you don’t like it would not be very beneficial. If it is your first time gardening think about the ease or difficulty of the crop you are planting. Ensure that you plant with proper spacing between plants. Some vegetables may require more space than others and crowding in your garden can make it difficult to maintain and grow. Another consideration is to create a small space to grow herbs. Fresh herbs make for great flavor augmentation to your prepared dishes.

Maintenance – Proper preparation and composting is the first step in garden maintenance. A well-mixed soil base should alleviate the need to fertilize. Once your garden is planted you should take proper care by removing invasive weeds on a regular basis. Introducing mulch into your garden can assist weed reduction. Proper watering is important. Take care to not over water. The mulch you added to the garden can assist with proper moisture control. If you have the time and money consider adding a drip type watering system.

Harvesting – Picking your homegrown crop is rewarding. Get yourself a small basket and make the time to check your garden in the morning and in the evening to pick fresh vegetables. Picking while ripe encourages growth of additional vegetables. Every vegetable is different when it comes to ripening. You should consult the seed instructions. One thing that is important is that size does not equal taste. Many varieties of garden vegetables get a “tough and woody” texture if they are picked late. Vegetables that are small and tender tend to be more flavorful.

Spring is coming! Now is the time to start thinking about creating your garden.

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Budget Tips for Those of Us Who Hate Budgeting

When I started my candle business over 15 years ago I knew nothing about money. To me, it was an abstract idea. I never balanced my checkbook or thought about investments, or did any of the things financial advisers recommend. I always figured that if my ATM receipts said I had enough money to cover expenses then things must be alright.

I got a rude awakening when I started by business and I wasn’t able to pay for a shipment of wax. You see, I had a general idea of how much starting a business would cost. There was rent, utilities, supplies, and other miscellaneous costs. I never considered myself as an employee and therefor didn’t take into account that I’d need money for myself to live off of. I was going to be doing what I loved and everything else would take care of itself.

When that first shipment came in and I got the invoice, it was more than I had. I called the supplier and asked them to extend the payment date, which they did, with interest. I had to live a bare bones existence for the first three months of being open to be able to pay my business expenses and necessary personal ones, like rent and food.

Eventually business started picking up a little and I was able return to a somewhat normal existence. During those three months I learned the importance of budgeting, tracking expenses, and knowing how much money you have on hand and what you expect to spend it on. It was a budgeting trial by fire, and not one I’d wish on anyone else, but was necessary to keep my store alive so I could keep doing what I love.

While I learned budgeting the hard way through my business I’ve been able to apply a a lot of the lessons I learned to my personal life as well. So here they are, my top budgeting tips for those people who hate budgeting.

  • Learn to use Excel. This tip assumes you know how to use a computer. If you don’t, it may be time to sign up for a class at the community college. I thought only bean counters used Excel, but it turns out it’s really for everyone. Once you learn some of the quirks, like using the = sign to do calculations, it’s quite simple and intuitive. You can quickly track different types of expenses or revenues and even create cool graphs and charts at the click of a button. It makes forecasting and analysis a breeze.
  • Keep Your Receipts: You never know when you may need to challenge a bank charge or go back to see what you paid for something last year. I have two boxes I keep for receipts. One is for those I know I’ll need to look at in the future and the other one is for those that I’m unsure about. I keep them all because you just never know when they’ll come in handy
  • Talk to a Financial Adviser: It doesn’t matter how little you make, you can probably find one for free at your bank or credit union. They will help you start planning for the future and hold you accountable for your spending habits. Talking to my adviser once a quarter is one of the best decisions I ever made.
  • Get a Budgeting App: I use the app Mint that automatically tracks all my expenses, revenues, and lets me know when payments are coming due. It’s more of a personal finance tool than a business too but I highly recommend everyone give it a try.

While budgeting can be tedious, I have found it to be very helpful both with my business and my personal life. And I’m happy to report that I haven’t missed a payment since that fateful wax shipment in 1997!

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