Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Happiness, Health, and, Prosperity in 2015....

Today's Post:  Tuesday, 12-30-2014

1. Everyone says, or most people say,  Happy New Year!

So, why not begin to do things that test as making people happy from now to the end of 2015?

Surprisingly, there ARE 3 ways to do become much happier!

a)  Make prudent choices that avoid things that would make you unhappy or very unhappy.

*Always wear your seat belt. 

*Never text while driving. 

Be extremely careful using your cell phone while driving.  And do it only if you can pay attention to your driving and talk on the phone at the same time.

(Texting takes your eyes off the road too long to make that reliably possible.  That’s why to avoid it.)

*And, either don’t drink or drink only AFTER you get home or arrange things to get you home if you drink before you go home. 

This goes double on New Year’s eve! 
The ideal thing to do is stay home or go someplace you can spend the night.  Not only can you then drink a bit extra and be safe,
you will stay safe from the people who drank AND drove on New Year’s eve.

b)  Make having close and loving relationships with people a priority. And do things with them, that you’ll remember later.

“Did you hear about the 75-year long study that researchers at Harvard University conducted to unearth the keys to living a happy and meaningful life?    

After following the lives of several hundred people since 1938….”

“One of the most important findings of the study is that relationships are what really matter in life. 

You can have all of the money, success and power in the world, but without close, loving relationships, you’ll most likely never experience true happiness.”

c)   Focus on the things you did that worked, the things you enjoyed, the things that went well, and the ways in which you are fortunate. 

(When you notice you are spending time thinking on the bad things, STOP. 

Then think of at least ONE good thing ----- something that DID go well today or might go well tomorrow.)

Earl Nightengale made a fortune and a career once he found that
   people become what they focus on every day. 

And, he taught the implication of that too.  If you continue to focus on good things and making good things happen, even if they are not happening yet, they will.  And, if you do the opposite, good things you could have had will never appear!

Here’s the same lesson from the Harvard study:

“….No matter how bleak your childhood was or how difficult the circumstances you may find yourself in now, it’s never too late to turn things around. 

The researchers found that the key is to change what you choose to focus on. 

If you focus on what’s not working in your life, you’ll notice more and more of what it is that you don’t want - and life will continue to look dimmer and dimmer.

But, if you switch your focus to love - to where it’s present in your life and to how you can cultivate more of it with others - you can go from being the saddest person you know to being the happiest and most fulfilled very, very quickly.”

This combines the power of the positive focus with the most happiness producing events and effects you get from doing it!

2.  Be Healthy in 2015

Pick a few, repeat few, things to upgrade in the first part of 2015.  You can always add more later. 

Even ONE easy upgrade you actually begin to do and keep doing will do more for you than ten great ones none of which ever happens!

So, on the list below, write down only the ones you might consider doing.  Then list them from the easiest to hardest for you and the ones that get the results most important to you.

Pick at least one easy one and one that gets the results you want most.

Do the easiest one right away. Then in a few weeks, add the most important one.

Here’s the reason why:

People who make a certain to be easy health upgrade and maintain it for a few months, are empowered to do more over time.

And, THEY ACTUALLY make the upgrade!

     People who set a huge goal for the year usually make no changes at all in practice!

(I should know, because when I set such goals, they never, ever happened!)

Here are some high-return, easy to do & easy to begin, health upgrades to try.

*What is the easiest high payoff health upgrade?

People who eat even ONE serving a day of an organic fruit and drink no fruit juice get half or more of the health benefits of a person who does an athlete’s exercise routine or who eats nine servings a day of organic vegetables!

Pick 3 kinds of fruit that you actually like and can buy in organic form -- either frozen or fresh.

Pick one to start with and eat it on the same day each week for a few weeks.

Once you do that, adding the other two kinds or eating your favorite kind of fruit two or three days a week is then easy to do.

This is least fattening, even for sugary fruits, if you do it at breakfast.

It’s super easy to do and tastes good too!

Doing this is so heart protective and so extremely preventive of both kinds of stroke, it’s worth a thousand dollars a month to do in avoided medical care costs and disability costs you never will need! 

I think no one should ever leave elementary school without learning it!

*Do you live by yourself?  Do you drink soft drinks? 

If yes to both, both regular and diet soft drinks are so fattening and harmful to your health, consider tossing out any in your home or giving them away if you are too frugal to waste them and never buying another either at a restaurant or a store, has such huge potential, it’s worth doing.

If you’ve read our posts, you have seen the reasons these drinks are fatteners and heart attack starters.  Then set up and learn to enjoy chilled water and several kinds of tea or coffee instead.

The key to making this an easy change, is that if you know you’ll be less fat and why to avoid both kinds of soft drinks, focusing on those facts every time you are tempted to do otherwise for a few weeks will make this a surprisingly doable and massively positive upgrade.

It’s the most effective and massive health upgrade you can literally do in just a few days!

People have lost over 25 pounds a year from just doing this one thing AND with no added effort.

 (Important note:  studies find diet soft drinks also fatten and have health harmful effects.)

And, eliminating soft drinks is comparably heart protective as the fat loss effects and takes very little effort once they never come in your home!

*Eating six to nine servings of vegetables a day has incredibly powerful health benefits. 

But it’s quite challenging to do if you haven’t already done it.

Here’s two ways to make it so easy, you CAN get closer to that and even get there eventually.

Pick one health supporting and organic vegetable you can actually buy.  Buy some and eat ONE serving of it once a week for a few months until it’s easy to do. Then keep doing it by habit.

Or, buy the quiet and low profile, shorter and slightly fatter new Vitamix, and make a drink once a week with three health supporting and organic vegetables you can actually buy.  Do this once a week for a few months until it’s easy to do.

(Notice that the quiet and low profile new Vitamix is a “force multiplier” for eating the optimum level of vegetables because it almost triples how many a day are doable by most people!)

But also know that people who add even one vegetable once a week not only wind up eating far more vegetables a week than they were, taking even that one easy action is also a “force multiplier” and has often empowered people to remake their entire ability to make effective health upgrades in their lives!

*What is the one force multiplier health upgrade that has the most carry over to your whole life?

Whether or not you do it in a way that also cuts your body fat, it’s beginning regular exercise on ONE day a week for a few weeks!

The biggest benefits are huge and happen within the first few weeks!  People literally feel better about themselves and become empowered to do other things to protect their health. 

Starting even a bit of regular exercise makes doing more health protective things as much as ten times easier.

This effect was found and proven over 50 years ago!  Astonishingly few people have heard of this effect.

People who start with just ONE very easy exercise on one day each week often become regular exercisers.  And, it’s so easy anyone can start it.

The easiest to begin and keep doing is an exercise you can do safely at home first thing in the morning.

Pick ONE exercise and a number of repetitions or times that is very easy to do. 

Then schedule which day of the week will work best and treat that as you would going to work or going to bed or eating as something you will do short of a life threatening emergency.

What if you do an exercise for 3 repetitions or for 15 seconds and it’s clear you can easily do five times that much?  This time, stop at 3 to 5 or 15 to 20 seconds.  Then celebrate somehow.
It’s critical that the first time is THAT easy.

Next week do 7 and then 8 and then 9 and then 10 in the following weeks or do 30 seconds, then 35 seconds etc until you get to 60 seconds.  Then do two 35 second sets etc.

The 3 key concepts are:

First  -- Make your start extremely easy. 

 Second-- Build up gradually each week which does the double of making injury much less likely and which will make you much stronger and fit as you keep gradually improving.

Building up to being stronger or more fit by starting at an extremely easy level and then gradually increasing until you are strong and fit is proven to work.

Third-- With cardio or faster heart rate and breathing exercises, to get fit fastest and to stay safe once you are doing it at all begin to do the amount you do faster until you get slightly out of breath.  Then stop and rest until you recover.  Once you can do one set like this you can build up to several sets. 

BUT it’s imperative that you rest completely or slow way down once you get out of breath. 

Forcing yourself to keep going at a really fast pace you haven’t built up to is hazardous and like some people shoveling snow without short breaks when they get out of breath you can give yourself a heart attack.

Paradoxically, you can work just that hard or even harder but WITH the short recovery breaks and stay quite safe!

If you picked this as one to do or begin in 2015, decide if you will do strength training like pushups or squats, or such as walking fast for brief times or marching in place inside your home. Then decide which day a week you will always do it every week.

Or  if you decide to do strength training on one day a week and vigorous cardio on one day a week. Pick which day each week for strength training and which day for cardio.

3.  Do a few things to become more prosperous in 2015.

This area is more complex and challenging than exercise or eating upgrades or even than happiness upgrades. 

But there are some things that work, some of which you can do.

Here are a few of them.

a)  Spend less overall with more to show for it.

 One writer said to buy twice as good and half as many.  He spoke of clothes noting that higher quality clothes look better and last longer.

In some places in the United States for clothes, you can buy twice as good for a fifth as much!  Thrift stores often get nearly new clothes from well to do donors.  Then they sell them for a quarter or a fifth as much as the price new.

Get them cleaned and treat them well and you can be well dressed for less than most people spend.

If you have space for larger amounts, stores like WalMart and Smart & Final and Costco sell major brands for less.

A similar thought is in a new book on how to eliminate clutter by Marie Kondo called, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” which is available on Amazon.

Her basic method is instead of focusing on whether or not to toss something out, you focus on finding the things you actually love to have and bring you satisfaction or joy.

Then her clients find that tossing most of the rest is easy.

Buy her book and try her method.

The carry over is that when you shop, you ask her question BEFORE you buy.  That way you have more to spend on things that really please you. And, you’ll bring less stuff home you’ll throw out later.

You’ll spend less and have more things you actually enjoy having.

b)  Do you make enough to pay your bills on time? 

First, if not, making more will help if there is a doable and safe way that fits your values to do so.

That one is tough and books have been written on it.  But people do it. 

If you do, to the extent it’s safe in your current location, avoid moving to more expensive or larger living space. 

Do your best to spend no more than you do now for most things.

Then whether you can do it now with no increase in income or you can do it because you increased your income but not your expenses, pay yourself first some definite percentage of your income each month.

At first, put it into savings.  Then once you have a month’s expenses in savings, buy small CD’s or money market funds until you have five more months of current expenses in those.

Note that paying down credit cards where you have a balance of more than 25 to 30% of your credit limit also increases your emergency funds and pays far better interest than CD’s.

Then put an equal amount to your savings into investments that may or may not go up but which are unlikely to go down.

Loan pools like the Lending Club and Prosper pay a higher return on money you give them to loan than stock dividends on strong companies that pay dividends. 

But if you invest about half in these loans and half in strong stocks that pay dividends, the stocks will tend to be worth more and pay more over time, and you’ll have an income from your investments that you can invest further after the taxes are paid.

Third, once you do those things, investments that may be more risky but which have a high but likely potential to go up make sense.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

3 Ways to have good winter holidays....

Today's Post:  Tuesday, 12-23-2013

This post is to celebrate the holidays of mid-winter.

How can you have good ones?

A.  The peoples of Northern Europe all celebrated this time of year for two reasons.

1.  One is that they knew that at this time of year the sun stopped acting like it would disappear and would gradually begin to return and spring and summer would follow.

This generalized into the very hopeful message that

“….bad times are temporary and good times always return again.”

Take that to heart and live it and celebrate it this time of year and your whole life will be better.

Martin Seligman, PhD and others have found that this belief and its parts creates good mental health, a happier life and people who are more effective and successful on the average than people who don’t.

So this reminder to do so every year is a very valuable and reality based way to celebrate it and live it!

2.  In their time, agriculture and food supplies were a bit iffy and in the cold weather, lack of food could cause people to freeze or die of malnutrition.

So the tradition arose to gather together for warmth and help and for those with food surpluses to share some of it.

The groups who did so, outsurvived those who did not.  So the tradition has lasted!

And so, in more modern times, families often gather together at this time of year.

There are two ways to make your family gatherings go as well as possible.

First is to treat them as Seligman’s optimists do.  Problems are temporary and bad actions have specific causes that can be fixed or which may not repeat.

So be forgiving and treat people with love and caring; and if there are problems hope next time will be better.

Many times if you show you care and treat people as their best selves, they act more in that way and everyone is happier!

The second way is to be what one brilliant man called an encourager instead of hoping to be an encouragee.

Everyone would like to be treated as their best self and for the people they meet and their family to be interested in them and encourage them and support them.

As the Quaker’s might say, “This includes me and thee.”

But people who stop there often don’t get what they want and need particularly at family gatherings.

The much better news is that if you proactively take the initiative and do those things for the others in the group or in your family--

-- whether they reciprocate or not, YOU will feel better and be a more worthwhile member of the group.

It takes practice and isn’t perfect even when people are skilled at it.  But it can make and has made an enormous positive difference to the people who learn to do it and almost always do it!

The best news is that whether or not others do it for you is not under your direct control. But choosing to be an encourager and doing it IS under your control.

I find that good news indeed!

So here’s hoping your holidays go well.

B. It helps to feel good mentally and physically this time of year.  But some people don’t and get SAD, seasonal affective disorder, a feeling of depression due to lack of sunlight.

If that happens to you at all or this year, here are some things that do work to do to remove it!

1.  My reading of the research suggests that taking 3,000 iu a day of vitamin D3 year round in today’s world of inside work and recreation is critical to maintain good health and gives you the level of vitamin D3 people got from sunshine when they went outside in earlier times.

2.  In the Northern Hemisphere, Mike Geary, earlier this year, wrote a brilliant article showing that at this time of year you had to live somewhere like Key West Florida or farther South to get ANY of the kind of sun’s rays needed to create sunshine caused vitamin D3 and people in these areas can ONLY have enough by supplementing. 

So, for good health, let alone feeling good, it also looks like taking at least 5,000 iu a day from about the first of October to the first of March is also very important.

3.  SAD is diagnostic I think of lack of vitamin D3.  So, if you get it, you likely need to take that much vitamin D3.  It will protect your health; and it will likely help you feel better too.

4.  Regular exercise, positive socializing – see above; and eating wild caught fish at least once or twice a week; and taking both a daily omega 3 supplement and a DHA supplement has been shown to reduce depression. If the depression is from damaged brain cells, each of these has a restorative effect.  And, the research shows from brain scans when these are done well and the regeneration shows up, the depression improves too.  This also works for many cases of PTSD, so it’s a very powerful combination effect.

 So if this time of year, you feel depressed, be sure to do them!

5.  There are also “light boxes” that you can buy and use first thing every morning this time of year that also work well for some people.

I find that good news indeed!

So here’s hoping your holidays go well.

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Monday, December 22, 2014

My monthly fatloss report....

Today's Post:  Monday, 12-22-2013

This month’s report is a mixed review with some positive and some negative events to report.
I both gained some leverage and lost some. 

That status seems like AND IS where I’ve been stuck for some time!

My hope of course, is that I’ll gradually make progress by relentlessly continuing the things that have lost and kept off the fat I no longer have;
having the things I’ve added get traction and gradually help lose some more fat;
-- AND find things with more leverage that work well when I try them -- and then keep doing them also! 

(See the news at the end of this post.  I have found a new way to remove extra belly fat that might work!)

1.  Here’s my immediate progress section first:

I gained another pound on the scale.  Not too bad but closer to the higher end of the range I’ve been in over the last year --- about 7 and a half pounds over my goal weight.

NOT good either when I want to lose more fat than that 7 and a half pounds!!

BUT my waist still measured exactly the same; and so did my chest & hips! 

Apparently, the progress in my new PACE or high intensity cardio session of 5 sets I added of abdominal exercises -- both toned my muscles and tightened them up or maybe added some of the three pounds over the last two months as muscle.

I’ve now gone from 14 reps to 90 of the 98 reps I plan for each of the new 5 sets!

Clearly it has helped me to gain muscle instead of fat.  I may well be burning 300 calories or more each week than I was a few months ago.

But due to the stress I’ve been under recently, my other two efforts to lose fat by taking in less calories as I gained the muscle actually were not quite enough.

And, though it is again a bit glacial in speed I’m doing a bit better on my strength training.

So between the two I really might have gained the two pounds as muscle. 

But it’s not quite what I wanted either.  I’d hoped for a net effect of three or four pounds less fat too.  

I’m finding mixed review with this one.  On one exercise I do keep doing better.

But my try at forcing faster overall progress while successful for the first two weeks then was more than I could recover from and progress stalled a bit. 

Maybe getting a couple of key stresses behind me and adding back two supplements, quercetin and astaxanthin, that help with recovery may help.

2.  But some things are still OK including my plan to drink less wine:

The last 4 weeks I drank closer to 30 glasses of wine, two 7 glass weeks and a 7 & a half glass week & an 8 and half week.  Considering Thanksgiving and a holiday party were in there, that’s decent and better than it was before.

That was still 6 glasses less than the 36 the 4 weeks two months ago!  So that part was a success.

I also changed a regular intake of slivered almonds to about half what I was eating.  But that is a bit more recent and has not had any apparent effect on the scale in the two weeks I’ve done it.

3. I have kept up the added vegetables.  I’m actually doing well with maintaining it each week!

Losing enough more fat to cut it from my belly fat as I want to do will mean adding even more vegetables than I eat now as Vitamix drinks.

Last month I bought and read a book that suggests that both adding even more vegetables AND taking one week in four where I also eat less of many other foods – other than vegetables, may produce net and sustainable fat losses.

I’m still limited in what I can do now.  BUT, I am on the right track and will do what I can get to now and plan for much more when I can.

4.  As I mentioned above, one of the continuing good news stories is my strength training.  The progress is still VERY slow but if I continue getting stronger every week or two AS I HAVE BEEN for the past several months and continue for another few years and am able to add back more safe to do leg exercises and make that progress with them, I will keep adding muscle when most people 15 years younger than I lose that much muscle or even more in the same time period!

I now do two sessions a week for upper body strength training.  At one, I am doing more reps at the slightly faster slow speed and fewer reps with a heavier weight than I was using. The progress is a bit slow; but it IS happening.  At the second session two days later, I use a couple of notches less weight BUT I do more reps and at the slower slow speed.  In that session, I just did 23 reps with each hand in an exercise that was MUCH harder for just 9 reps not long ago.  I’m at the point I can jump the weight for those sets! 

And, in that second session, I’m now doing an instant second part of each set with a lighter weight to help force the muscle to grow more.  It’s too early to tell about those hoped for results.  But I am already doing a bit more repetitions in those second parts of each set.

(That’s the one that worked great at first but I wasn’t quite recovering from well enough this month.)

My leg strength training is mostly better.  My ONE substitute for the leg press on the machine is gradually doing better. 

I dropped the one that was both too hard and tweaking my knee tendons.  The other is one at a time lunges several times with each leg while holding dumbbells to add to the effort.  I was adding five pounds twice a week.  Now I’m at 89 pounds, the equivalent of adding 178 pounds or more with two legs, I’ll have to add the weight more slowly after that.  But I can begin to do more and slower repetitions.  (This part is working so far, I’ve gone from 8 partial reps on each leg to 9 full ones.)

My new goal is to do 14 full reps at a superslow speed all the way down and up with each leg while holding 89 pounds – like over 178 pounds with two legs., I think I’ll add enough muscle in my legs, lower back, and butt to cut my belly fat a bit.

My one leg at a time calf exercises are still making excellent progress on my right leg. 

I had to scale all the way back to zero and more on my injured left Achilles tendon.

The good news is that I’m still OK with my left Achilles tendon. 

But last week in my effort to get back the strength in my left calf, it simply wasn’t strong enough yet.  Worse, my strong effort did have some effect -- it gave my left foot arch a mild stress fracture.

The good news is that I’ve thought of a way to both take it much easier on my left calf and foot now and build back the strength more gradually.

My goal is still to get my left calf back to what my right calf can do.  But it’s beginning to look like another several months.  So, it’s a bad news good news report the original injury seems to have healed but getting back the strength while the second injury heals while it will take longer will more reliably do the job than what I was doing.

So, I just keep my right leg exercises the same until I can gradually build back my left leg to do that weight again -- 35 to 37 pounds plus all my bodyweight for 16 superslow reps.

(My right calf has gone from 12 hard to do reps to 16 somewhat easier ones.  So my left calf now has even more catching up to do!)

Even though it’s irritating to have to wait a few  MORE weeks for my left calf to catch up, maybe six months or so, I think it will eventually.  (This confidence is boosted by the time I got a worse stress fracture in my right foot which is strong and healthy now.)

Then if all keeps going well, I’ll need to buy a new 40 pound dumbbell as the 35 pound with the 2 pound wrist weight will not be enough to be challenging..

(I also have made enough gains in my arm exercises to go to the 40 pound dumbbell for the one exercise that has both been easiest AND in which I’ve made the most real strength gains!)

Overall, my muscles LOOK a bit bigger, particularly my arms and shoulders; and though my middle is still fat, my thighs have definition and are clearly hard and toned.

So even though I’ve not gained enough muscles in size or weight to increase how much they weigh and the calories they burn as I’d like to do ---  After another year or so, I may gain a pound or two of muscle at an age when most people lose 5 pounds of muscle instead!

5.  My progressive short sets of high intensity, interval cardio have been a mixed review. 

But the overall news is still better since last month!

(I kept my two weekly sessions of 4 sets of back to back abdominal exercises and my weekly 10 minute session of intense variable cardio on my Nordic track where I was already at a high level I’d worked up to gradually.)

My new cardio 5 sets that had gone to 62 last time on the way to 98 each that I plan, I had gone I recovered from the two minor injuries in each of two sets and am now to 90 in all 5 sets. Next time I expect to be at 98 each.

6.  It’s just a matter of time too to the day I can get and use the Vitamix to boost my vegetable intake enough to lose some fat that way.   

And, I did just find out that removing a few things for a week once a month may enable me to lose fat that week every month.

And, by maintaining the extra vegetables all month, that plus the continuing improvements in my exercises may really get me there.

So the conclusion is that despite being hammered more than usual by outside negative influences, I’m still maintaining most of my efforts that lost fat for me to begin with.  AND, I’m still adding promising new things that are working already or might work.

AND, I plan to both continue doing that and have even more in the pipeline for as soon as I can manage to add them.  

7.  New this month:

One of the health emails I got had a new supplement that you had to pay to get and get information on that promised to almost wipe out the effect of stress on abdominal fat.

This sort of thing usually is smoke and doesn’t work in practice. 

But it WAS a potential solution to the exact problems I have.  If true, it would enable me to lose as much as the entire 24 pounds of belly fat I’m still carrying.

I then looked up the information that WAS in the ad on Google to see if there was more information elsewhere for free.

Here’s what I found: 

The effect may in fact be real but not enough by itself to do more than half the job without adding a safe way to boost my level of growth hormone closer to my youthful levels.

(And the existing supplements using it have other ingredients to help it boost heart health which I’ve already done.  So not only are those likely a bad fit for me, they might not be entirely safe as my heart indicators have almost gone past optimum now!)

However, this class of active ingredient is in lemon and organge peel. 

And, at Whole Foods I can get the organic lemons and oranges that would make them safe to add to my Vitamix drinks often enough to at least lose 12 pounds of belly fat.

This is VERY interesting to say the least. 
I already got a fish dish and ate most of the lemon rind.  I found this easier and far less sour than eating the main part of the lemon!

And, I got some organic lemons and an organic orange at Whole Foods to try in the next few days.

I suspect that I need the Vitamix to add enough EVERY DAY consistently enough to do much. 

And I think I may be more in need of the safe growth hormone boost I don’t yet know how to get.

But I’m experimenting with what I can do by eating a few each week.

If it only helps me cut 3 pounds of belly fat instead of gaining them in the next few months, I’ll be very pleased.

Then when I do add the Vitamix and more frequent consumption, I may lose another 9 pounds of belly fat.

The other possibility is that adding back the two faster recovery supplements might enable me to do more on my strength training and get some growth hormone boost and lose more belly fat from that.

So, the conclusion is that some of what I’m doing and will keep doing is helping. 

And I have several planned improvements likely to work and these two very promising new things that might.

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