Healthier Habits for a Healthier Life and a Healthier YOU!

Out of Bounds
December 6, 2014

Here’s a link to an article on my mental fitness blog, Out of Bounds. The article was written by Ron McDiarmid, founder of Healthy Living Coach.com. The article lays out the healthy habits we should all strive to incorporate into our lives… if, that is, we want to be as healthy as we possibly can be! See Healthy Habits for a Healthy Life for a great read.

Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.  – Harvey Fierstein

In the Heart of the World by Mother Teresa

In the Heart of the World

If we were more willing to see the good and beautiful things that surround us, we would be able to transform our families.  From there, we would change our next-door neighbors and then others who live in our neighborhood or city.  We would be able to bring peace and love to our world, which hungers so much for these things.  –  Mother Teresa, In the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories, and Prayers

Read more about this beautiful book: Review: In the Heart of the World by Mother Teresa

Choose the books you read as carefully as the company you keep!
~ Joi

Don’t Let These Compliments Get Away

You need praise for your efforts in recovery. But the praise has to come from within if you are looking for a source that is available when you need it.

Daily affirmation books, for what they are worth, and an atta-boy from a trusted friend is worth its weight in gold. But these are generally temporary boosts to a recovering addict’s sense of confidence. Take anything you can get in the form of affirmation early in recovery. After a while, you’ll want to look for a source of confidence that is more sustaining than that.

Confidence in recovery often works this way: “Fake it unit ’til you make it.” In other words, if you pretend you have the confidence to get through the day and string together enough successful days in recovery in a row, then that’s good enough for now. Later, that confidence will begin to feel more solid, more genuine. Your confidence, in effect, will gain confidence as your recovery progresses.

It still helps to recognize what encouragement the great wide world is sending your way. Many folks in alcohol, cocaine or heroin rehab miss the clues. We don’t know what a true compliment looks like, feels like. Someone smiles in our direction, addicts tend to misinterpret that or misjudge it somehow. Addicts expect thunder and lightening. A smile is often the best compliment you will get on a given day. If you wait for thunder and lightening, you might have to wait for a while.

Long ago, I worked as a social worker for an organization where the supervisor choose to put up a poster that was titled, “101 Positive Things To Say.”

To me, the list ranged from the obvious to the painfully obvious. In a one-on-one session with a client, I was never shy with compliments. How easy is that? I could probably think of 1,001 compliments without pausing to rest.

Nice to see you. Great shirt. You’re on time! Glad you made it. You’re making an effort – that’s great. Saying thanks is a compliment. “Thanks for waiting.” “Thanks to your consistency, you’re getting somewhere.”

Every compliment is a jewel. No question about it, and addicts in recovery require a positive attitude. It helps enormously.

This anecdote makes my point beautifully: I’m flipping television channels and go right past the show about three very heavy sisters who were all trying to lose weight. I pause long enough to hear one of them crying in an interview, saying to the camera, “I never want to hear anyone say I don’t love you because you’re fat again.”

Without stopping to hesitate, I said to the television, “Then stop saying that to yourself.”

You can’t lose weight if you hate yourself for being fat. You have to say, “I love myself no matter what. However, I’d love myself even more if I lost a pound or two … and then another … and then another.”

It’s easy to find an emotional trigger for a slip. When you’re angry, sad or embarrassed; does this sound familiar? Angry, bored, lonely, tired. And what is that lovely phrase heard in AA meetings around the world? “When you’re inside your head, you’re behind enemy lines.”

It’s a good thing our egos know how to heal. One person we tend to forgive, after all, is ourselves. But that process has to be healing and whole. The affirmation books are useful to get you started. But the only person around every day is yourself. So, be your own source of positive energy.

Now consider this: I was browsing on Facebook year ago and ran into an odd entry. It was a genuine, anguished plea written by a friend of a boy who had been teased in school. The entry said, “My friend was picked on at school. Kids said he was ugly and worthless. What I would like is for everyone to write something nice about him, especially how handsome he is. Thank you.”

This was followed by a picture of a boy, perhaps 11 or 12, who was pleasant enough to look at, truth be told.

And beneath that were dozens and dozens of slathering compliments written by sympathetic Facebook users. There may have been 75-100 compliments in a row. “Hey, what a great looking kid!” Hey, dude, you’re a knock out!” “Wow – very handsome!”

And then came my comment: “This doesn’t seem very helpful. You should teach this child to recognize and create positive energy.” It was a bit harsh, but it needed to be said.

How useful is a compliment when you were told to give one. It’s not spontaneous, genuine or particularly honest. I thought the process on Facebook was ill conceived. It may have been a good band-aid though. And sometimes we need band aids.

But teaching long-term confidence is the actual goal.

There is a growing number of articles around that is based on the assumption that you should never tell your child he or she did a good job. Doesn’t that sound odd?

Why not praise a child? Some psychologists believe this trains a child to seek approval from the parent. Far more helpful would be for a child to know intrinsically that they did a good job.

For example, you could say “Well, all the beds are made and the toys are put away, so now we can go outside and play!”

In grown up years, that child, so the theory goes, will feel good after getting the domestic chores done. They will feel good intrinsically. They won’t need to be told they did well.

I ran into this dilemma head on myself. I praised my kids endlessly while playing tennis, even if they hit a shot into the woods. As the coach, I would see some form of improvement even in a stroke that had poor results. But the kids got the notion that I was some form o idiot. If they hit a shot into the net and I said, “Good shot,” it drove them nuts.

This is exactly when I changed my habit. When my kids complained, I listened. I rarely, if ever, give them compliments anymore.

When I say this to various relatives, they get apoplectic. How can you raise a child without giving them praise?

This is how it works: I have a child who likes to be on stage. After every performance, the first thing I say is, “How do you think it went?” Or, I might say, “Did that go well for you?”

Now, instead of being a dumb parrot mouthing compliments, I am there for my child. I am in his corner. The child has to seek compliments elsewhere – from applause from the audience, from smiles the director might send in his direction – and those are genuine compliments. He’ll be able to find them when I am dead and gone. He will understand the value of these compliments. And he will remember that I was in his corner all the way.

I’ve told my youngest child for years that the greatest compliment of all is not “I love you,” but it is someone spending time with you. If someone takes a chunk of time out of their precious life and chooses to spend that time with you, there is no greater compliment in the world. How could there be anything more sincere than that?

I tell my children to watch for smiles. They are much more powerful than, “Hey, good job,” and yet we tend to ignore smiles. We do ourselves a big disservice by doing that.

I have a girlfriend I cannot train. Her disappointments are far too dug in. But I still try. When she has a fit, I don’t say, “I love you,” I say, “why do you think I spend the afternoons with you? Why do you think there’s excitement in my voice, when you call on the phone. Why do you think I smile when I answer the door and find you there?”

What if you spent a day or even a week not listening to compliments, but watching for them? If people stand close to you and don’t move away … or smile … or hug … spend time with you. If they engage in conversation with you – these are huge hints, massive hints that you are special to that person.

Look for all the clues that you normally don’t see. Compliments tend to be very simple things – a turn of the head, a wave hello or goodbye. Look for validation that is out there intrinsically. And make use of those observations. They are the greatest compliments of and we tend to let them get away.

When you see them, start to hold onto them. Remind yourself of them when you need them. Those compliments are as good as it gets.

Making an issue of little things is one of the surest ways to spoil happiness.  One’s personal pride is felt to be vitally injured by surrender, but there is no quality of human nature so nearly royal as the ability to yield gracefully.  It shows small confidence in one’s own nature to fear that compromise lessens self-control.  To consider constantly the comfort and happiness of another is not a sign of weakness but of strength.

–  Charles Conrad

Happiness isn’t Just a Choice…

It's the Only One that Makes Sense

Never Pass Up a Chance to Smile

I don’t follow celebrity news, gossip, or blogs. Quite frankly, I don’t identify with most so-called celebs these days.  The selfishness – more like self-obsession, the substance abuse, and the total lack of anything remotely resembling decency has left me with the motto of, “I’m better off without any of that in my life.”

As I was about to say that I wasn’t going to get on my soap box, I stubbed my toe on said soap box, so I won’t even lie to you.  I’m going there – but I’ll only be there a minute.

My youngest daughter (who’s becoming as fed up with the “stars” of the day as I am) recently told me that during the recent ridiculous, destructive, and senseless rioting that took place in our country, a particular reality tv star uploaded selfie after selfie after selfie of herself at a swanky event.  While so much insanity was going on – with so many people hurting and scared – the only thing that mattered to this person was showing off. It’s thing that mattered to her WAS her.

Some people just want to watch the world burn – as long as they can take pictures of themselves against the flames. I can hear them now… “What excellent lighting!

In our world – as well as in our own country – there are adults and children who go to bed hungry. There are animals who are going extinct right before our eyes. Have you seen the sickening statistics about the number of girls and women being abused today by their boyfriends and husbands? How can there be so many abusive jackasses in the world?!

After reading the article, I said a little prayer to God that my daughters are all “safe.”  The only thing the boys in their lives abuse are hamburgers, bacon, and video game zombies. The only time they raise their hands to anyone is for a high five if their sport’s team won or they defeated an awesome number of zombies.

Sigh, I love those boys.

With all the bad going on in the world, I simply don’t care to read about any reality star’s shallow life and I certainly don’t want to see any of their gazillion and one selfies!

Seriously. How can you think, “Wow, I look good today… I’d better let everyone else see this..”?

Then there are the clowns who waste millions of dollars, money that could do SO MUCH good in the world, on drugs and alcohol.

Like I said, I’m better off without any of that in my life.

I’m not here, however, to hate on anyone (though I do hate 99 percent of the things these people do). I’m not even here to make fun of them. If I wanted to attack anyone, I’d name names.

It might surprise you, but I’m actually here to applaud something one of these loosely termed “celebs” said recently.  Again, with information courtesy of my 5’2″ source, one particular reality star recently came under fire for finding a particular joke funny.  It was a stupid joke, mind you, but it amused her for whatever reasons and, if you ask me, that’s kind of her business.

Mind you, her haters didn’t rail on her for her for a joke she’d made… just for finding one funny.

She was called everything under the sun and hate arrows of hate slung at her left and right.

Out of curiosity, I wanted to see how she’d respond.  I kept one eye on her response as I went about my cat, chocolate, and Chai Tea Latte filled life. Then it came. Her answer… her response…. her (in my opinion) statement of victory.

She simply said, “I choose happiness.”

With these three words, she could have been letting the world know that her haters weren’t going to rob her of the one thing they wanted most… her happiness.  She also could have been looking out at the hateful, angry, venom-spewing crowd and telling them that she had something they obviously didn’t… happiness.

I like to think she was doing both, but, then again, I’m an optimist.

Each day we have a million and one opportunities to either be miserable or to smile.

Next time you find yourselves sitting in front of one of these opportunities, tell it, “You are SO not worth frown lines!”

Then smile.

Always, always, always choose happiness,
~ Joi

The Truth About Smoothies

Healthy Smoothies vs Unhealthy Smoothies

How Healthy are Smoothies?
The following article was written by Ron McDiarmid from MyHelathyLivingCoach.com.  As we near the closing of one year and the beginning of a new year, I hope healthy eating is at the forefront of your mind. Articles such as this one  – as well as the many other articles you’ll find on the My Healthy Living Coach website – will help you get where you want to be by this time next year!

It can be a challenge to create healthy, easy meals, especially when we are on the go. The smoothie is one of the more popular health foods to emerge in recent years. And these days, you can find them anywhere, from your neighborhood new age restaurant to famous fast food joints. There’s a reason that the smoothie is so ubiquitous; they are a fast, easy and convenient way to get a lot of nutrition into your body in a short amount of time. But although smoothies have many benefits to our health, they can also cause health challenges, depending on how they are made.

What’s In a Smoothie?

Blended fruit is the most basic ingredient in a smoothie. Unlike in a juice, a smoothie can contain the entire fruit including the skin and seeds. Fruit is simply cut up and blended until it’s a liquid, instead of having its liquid extracted, as is the case with juice.

But the smoothie has much more potential than just the addition of fruit. Beyond that basic element, smoothies can include just about anything. A large number of smoothies have some sort of fat component, often a protein-rich food like yogurt or nut butter. They also tend to include a variety of fruit. Some people add supplements like protein powder, digestive supports like fresh ginger and powdered cinnamon to their smoothie. Super foods like spirulina, maca, or raw cacao can also be added.

The green smoothie is a definite favorite. This includes green leafy vegetables such kale, spinach, parsley, cilantro, arugula, and lettuce. These leafy veggies can be blended with sweet fruit like bananas, or a raw vegan fat like avocado or soaked almonds can be used.

Beware the Unhealthy Smoothie

The level of a smoothie’s healthfulness depends on what has been put into it. But it’s important to understand that in a smoothie; relatively large amounts of food have been broken into tiny bits. This means that far more calories can be consumed than we realize. Making a smoothie that has over 800 calories is very easy to do. And because smoothies are liquid, we can ingest a high volume without necessarily feeling full, and then feel hungry again shortly after.

Fruit contains a lot of calories as well as naturally occurring sugar. If a smoothie is largely fruit-based, and a sweetener like agave nectar or honey is added, the sugar calories skyrocket which can spike our blood sugar levels.

Weight gain is triggered by eating too much sugar. Many think that increased fat consumption causes weight gain, but in a smoothie, healthy fats like avocados and nuts are usually added. Eating a lot of sugar places a lot of stress on the bloodstream. Whatever the body doesn’t immediately use for energy is converted into fat. And this is what makes smoothies potentially fattening; the potentially large amount of sugar that’s ingested in a relatively short period of time.

Healthy Smoothie Versions

Of course, there are incredibly healthy versions of the smoothie. One example is the vegan smoothie which contains primarily leafy green vegetables with some healthy fats, plant-based proteins, and a small amount of fruit. The vegan smoothie is a great way to boost your health. You can enjoy a large serving of nutritious greens and camouflage their taste in the fruits you add. This is a great idea for those who find salads challenging to enjoy. You can even make a sugar-free smoothie with greens, lemon, avocado, and assorted seeds.

The secret to a smoothie that supports weight loss and overall health is the careful choice of ingredients. Include only those ingredients that you would feel good about eating in a single meal. For example, if you would not eat 4 ounces of nut butter or 3 bananas in one meal, you may wish to reconsider adding them to your smoothie, because you will be consuming a high amount of calories at once.

It’s always a good idea to include a bit of fat in your smoothie to make the vitamins in the vegetables more accessible by your body. Doing this will also increase the level of satiation so that you feel full for longer, but it won’t be so much fat that your smoothie becomes a dessert. Adding just enough fruit to make the greens palatable is preferable to turning your smoothie into a fruit salad. Avoid the addition of sugar and calorie-laden ingredients like fruit juice. Do not add sweeteners unless it is stevia, which provides the sugary flavor without blood sugar spike. Ensure your smoothies are high in fiber, as this will help to slow the absorption rate of any sugar that may be present.

It also makes sense to think of your smoothie as a meal instead of a drink. Use smoothies as a main meal replacement. Enjoy your smoothie as you would any other meal, by sitting at your dining table. Drink slowly, and chew it a bit. This will help to further break down the greens and help your body to absorb it more slowly and thoroughly. If you intend to lose weight or maintain your current weight, the calories in your smoothie can be counted as a part of your daily total.

Smoothies remain one of the most versatile, healthy and convenient meal options available today. With the push of a button, we can create elaborate and delicious concoctions of fruity and green goodness. But just as with anything else, smoothies are only as healthy as their individual ingredients, amounts, and serving sizes. Choose to include mostly green veggies in your creation, along with a little healthy fat, plant-based protein, and minimal fruit, and your body will reap the many benefits.

This post is contributed by Ron McDiarmid, who is the founder of My Healthy Living Coach. Having had health challenges along the way Ron was keen to share the research and learning he gathered. Through MHLC this continued into a current presentation of healthy lifestyle choices and how to implement them. Check out his website at www.myhealthylivingcoach.com.

Zeal: It takes Courage to Be Considered, at Times, too Zealous

What Do Charles Barkley, Dick Vitale, and Jillian Michaels Have in Common?

Quote About Zeal

“I takes courage to be considered at times as a little too zealous.” - F.D. Van Amburgh, The Mental Spark Plug, 1923

Years ago, my favorite NBA player was Charles Barkley.  I never missed a Phoenix Suns game when he played for them.  On court and off court, the man never failed to entertain me.  .  Sometimes he’d leave me shaking my head, sometimes he’d leave me nodding my head…. sometimes Sir Charles would leave me holding my head.  But make no mistake about it, Charles Barkley always left an impression.

Still does.

Even on a golf course, Charles Barkley cannot be ignored (it’s not pretty, but you can’t take your eyes off of his swing).

He has that something that I have always been drawn to – ZEAL.  Zealous people are people who live out loud.  They know what they want in and from life and they know what they’re passionate about.  They wear this passion on their sleeve and often wear a perplexed expression on their face – one that questions the rest of the world, “Why aren’t you getting this?!  Why aren’t you excited too?!?!

The quote at the top of the post is by a favorite author of mine from the Twenties (No, I wasn’t around then, wise guy!),  F.D. Van Amburgh.  When I came across the quote recently – while redoing the motivational quotes pages here on Self Help Daily, I couldn’t help wondering – what do you think Amburgh would have thought of Charles Barkley, Jillian Michaels, Oprah, Dick Vitale, Alton Brown, Lolo Jones, Toby Keith…. some of the most zealous people of our day?

I’ve read enough books by F.D. Van Amburgh to believe with all of my heart that he would have been just as drawn to them as I am.  I think he would have been completely smitten with the ladies.

The thing about zealous people is this: You will not always agree with them, but you’ll always know where they stand.  Zealous people wave zealous flags and they most certainly aren’t white flags.  When you just read the list of names, you probably reacted in one way or another to at least one of the names.  That’s because people with zeal stir emotions and sometimes anger.   I’m not condoning everything done or said in the name of zeal – far from it.

See, I think of zeal as a magic window into the heart of a person.  Through their zeal, the rest of the world gets to see exactly what makes them tick.  Zeal strips away facades, press spins, and photo-shopping.   The beauty of it is that zealous people is that… up to a point… they simply don’t care.  They have enough confidence and courage to ride the zeal train to the next station.

Whether or not I agree with everything they say or do, I give each one of them this:  They have guts – guts to be who they are and not conform to the person anyone else thinks they should be.  I also admire their passion.  Especially those who have passion for others:  Dick Vitale’s passion for young people touches me and I wish there were more like him.  Jillian Michael’s passion for people’s health and fitness is equally admirable.  I love that she cares so much that she is willing to yell, kick, and scream to get her point across.  I also thoroughly admire and appreciate Toby Keith’s dedication to our men and women serving overseas.  They’re willing to fight for our country and Toby’s willing to fight for them!  What’s not to love about that?

A lot of people don’t take a “live out loud” approach to life and that kind of makes me sad. Their own fears and doubts hold them back.  They think, “If only I were thinner…” or “If only I had more money…”  or “If only I were older….” or other ridiculous thoughts.  As our own zealous Charles Barkley once said, “If ifs were gifts, everyday would be Christmas!

Make no mistake about it, being zealous doesn’t mean you have to love or demand the center of the stage. The people I’ve highlighted in this post are definitely center stage individuals. If life were a play, they’d have lead roles and get 95 percent of the lines.   Zeal can come in somewhat quieter, more laid-back packages as well, you know.  Barack Obama, Angelina Jolie, Denzel Washington, Billy Graham, Diane Sawyer – no lack of zeal in these individuals whatsoever.

They just go about their work on a somewhat quieter scale.

Zeal doesn’t always scream, but it does always command attention.  On the other side of the coin, as Thomas Henry Huxley once said, “Zeal without knowledge is fire without light.” If you’re going to be zealous, make sure you know what you’re talking about and that it’s even worth saying or doing in the first place.

Take a gut check today.   Do you believe in yourself and your dreams enough to fight for them?  Are you willing to stand up and stand out to live your life on your own terms?  Or are you afraid what others will say or think?  If that’s the case, I hope you’ll come out of the shell you’ve built around yourself and step out into a whole new life.

Be bold!  Be confident!  Be strong!  Be you!

~ Joi

Don’t bunt. Aim out of the ballpark. – David Ogilvy

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.

I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live.  I rejoice in life for its own sake.  Life is not brief candle to me; it is a sort of splendid torch which I have got a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.  – George Bernard Shaw

Read about my first encounter with this quote here.