Thankful Again, Still and Always

Another Thanksgiving is upon us. As you count all of your blessings this Thanksgiving, be sure to count your financial blessings as well. Even as we struggle to “do better” with our money, most of us have financial blessings far in excess of most of the rest of the world.

This week, simply give thanks for all that you have and enjoy the bounty of the holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

To your turkey success!

Enjoying the Balance—By Not Falling Off the Cliff!

 

As women, we are known to wear multiple hats. (For many of us this is an understatement!) No matter how many hats we wear, it is imperative to find our own inner balance. We need to know and understand where our true core lies.  When we are clear, we are accountable. We are also better equipped to continuously keep ourselves in check– and in turn, remain true to ourselves and to others.

For some, their balance is through meditation. For others, their balance might be through physical exercise or just simply reading a good book.  Unfortunately, some of us are just too busy to even realize that we are unbalanced.  We may even be one step away from falling off the cliff.  If you are aware that you may fall into this category, please try and catch yourself before you fall too far.

Remember balance is important, but the first step is making sure you know where to find it and then knowing what to do with it once you do!

 

To Insure or Not, That is the Question

Long-term care insure, that is. For anyone in the tween generation who is caring for both children and aging parents, the answer is a resounding “to” when it comes to having our parents own a long-term care policy. What a help it is! What a difference it makes! My mom came home from an extended stay caring for her father prior to his death and bought a policy without a thought as to cost – “I want one, right now” was her comment. She was mid-60’s, healthy, and could afford to get one. It was a no-brainer.

For those of us younger, or less financially able to swallow the costs of those premiums while we are paying mortgages and college tuition, it is more of a struggle. The guys tend to say something like, “just take me out and shoot me.” Well, I get your motivation there, and I feel the same way if I am incapable of taking care of myself, but those logistic are a bit complicated and more than a little illegal. Yes, if your spouse shoots you, neither of you have to worry about long-term care as the penal system will take care of that! However, for those looking for a more law-abiding (not to mention humane) solution, long-term care insurance is the way to go.

If only we knew exactly when we would die, this planning business would be so much easier! Will I live to 100 and be fit as a fiddle and sharp as a tack or will I be healthy and mentally mush? Which one of us will need care and for how long? Where is that crystal ball?

The reality of long-term care insurance is that it is better to have it than not. After age 76, you cannot get it. After a “bad” diagnosis, you cannot get it. If you have some bad family history, you really need to talk to an agent sooner rather than later if you want to get it at all. The other reality is that the younger you are when you buy it, the lower the initial premiums will be, but you will be paying them for a longer time (hopefully!)

Once you dip your toe into the 50’s, it’s time to start asking the questions and evaluating the answers. I’m 52 and the mere thought that I am old enough to be thinking about this is crazy – 50 is the new 40! I take care of myself! I feel great! I am way too young to talk about “old people” stuff! And yet, it is one of those things I really should do. Not that I need to buy today or a year from now, but I do need to start the conversation with an agent, get some quotes and understand the cost difference at 52 versus 55 versus 60 so that I can plan for when to pull the trigger (not that trigger; the long-term care insurance trigger!)

Now, a quote today for a 60 year-old is probably not going to be the quote when I am actually 60 so I need to keep that in mind in the planning but it is important to start thinking about those premiums and planning for the day that I need to pay them. I do not want my health care to derail my kids’ financial lives, and as much as I want to be a gazillionaire by the time I retire, it is looking like I might come up a little short so insurance is probably the way to go.

How about you? Do your parents have it? Are they still at a point where they can get it? Is it worthwhile for the kids to pitch in to help pay the premiums and make sure they have something? Take a few moments and look at yourself and your parents and really think about the impact a nursing home stay would have on the family assets. Now is the time to plan for that. Once it happens, you are on your own.

If you do take the plunge, the company you choose is one of the most important decisions you can make so do your homework and check the insurance ratings to get a solid company that you will be able to count on in the far away future when you need them.

Hello inner peace…we’ve been waiting for you!

Let go and unplug! That’s right. Unplug the phone. Unplug that computer. Unplug that TV and anything else that keeps you distracted from doing the things that are really important. Make yourself a list that says, I will let go of_____ and fill in that blank! Make a plan of how you are going to let it go and more importantly what it will free you up to do once you do oust it from your over-plugged life.

VISUALIZATION
Try this: Close your eyes, take two deep breaths and count to sixty. Go ahead. Do it now. What happened? Did you enjoy complete silence or was it interrupted by some form of technology or another distraction? If you were uninterrupted, congratulations! But if you were, think about what you can do to get those sixty seconds back of uninterrupted time.

TECHNOLOGY ETIQUETTE
Do you remember the time when going out to dinner was special? People talked quietly to each other and had respect for the people who were seated nearby. Now in even some fine dining restaurants you see people texting and chattering on their cell phones. Even in church, you can’t listen to a full sermon without hearing the accidental ring tone of a cell phone or the sound of the typing from a tablet or other device. I’ve even heard a phone ring in the pulpit once. I couldn’t believe it.

GUILTY PLEASURES
Don’t get me wrong. I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to technology. However, I do make an exception with my family that there are no phones allowed at the dinner table. That is the one time when we actually talk in real-time with each and have a face-to-face conversation. However, I am guilty of having my phone right next to my bed every night. But I do say, “Good morning” to my husband when I wake-up before I check my phone. For many of us, our phone is the first thing we reach for before we are even out of bed.

YOUR MUCH NEEDED BREAK
What about you? Is technology like a drug? When it isn’t around do you begin to have withdrawals symptoms? Can you leave your cell phone at home, or do you find yourself being totally lost if you don’t have it with you?

When you can’t find a remote to the TV are you agitated that you have to actually get up and change the channels manually? When your computer is slow, do you become impatient or wait patiently to see if the problem is only temporary.

When does your break from technology actually start? Or is it constantly on auto-pilot? There comes a point and time when we have to make ourselves accountable for our own inner peace. You may think so, but technology is not going always going to give it to you. Believe it or not, that inner peace has to come from within your inner self. We have to go to the very soul of our being to find answers and listen to what our inner spirit is saying to us. We can’t hear anything if we are distracted by the day to day interruptions of our technology. Every day we must find a way to be still and unplug — even it’s just for a few moments.

Find a way to eliminate distractions that are keeping you away from doing what is really important. I know it will be hard at first. But, if you make time to take a break each day, it will get easier. So go ahead. Turn it off. Who knows? That inner peace that you have been searching for may actually find you!

Too Stressed to Impress

Are you that person? You know who I’m talking about. The woman who has 30 things going on at the same time and taking care of everyone’s business except her own?  You may look like you have it all together on the outside. If you wear makeup, it is always flawless. You probably  pride yourself in being  meticulously dressed and you have an attitude that says “I’m brilliant  and everyone knows it!”

Here’s the irony. Once you get home and take off your coat of armor, who is standing in the mirror looking you directly in the face?  You are very much aware that the person you are staring back at isn’t who she appears to be.  Inside you are screaming for relief, a much-needed retreat or just someone to come and do for you what you always are doing for others. Whew! It’s a lot, isn’t it? The weight that we carry and pressure that we put on ourselves can sometimes leave us suffering in our own silence.

Who are you fooling– really?  The stress that you are under has been put there by no one except you. Yes, I  said it. Your stress is caused because you have given yourself permission to be over scheduled, sleep deprived, overworked, and possibly your overall well-being compromised. Does any of this sound familiar?

Are you fooling yourself because you have mastered the role of “looking” the part but  your acting skills are about to run their finale?   How long do you think you will able to keep the roles up before they all come crashing down in the form of migraines, weight fluctuation,  sleep deprivation, heart disease or another health ailment that is caused by too much stress?

Are you too stressed to impress and don’t even realize it? It could be that you might be thinking that others are impressed by you. But the reality might be that your facade is taking more of a toll on you than you think.   Here’s a thought: What if you are not as impressive as you think you are?  Are you always at the top of your game or do you slip up from fatigue and sometimes struggle to remember what you ate for breakfast?

Think about where you are in your stress level.  More importantly, find ways to neutralize it.  Stress is always going to be available to come into our lives. The question is whether you will allow yourself to accept its invitation.

Check out the twitter chat on stress here  that WOYN did with Optimum Body Sculpting on April 13.  Next,  come and de-stress with us on April 23 at our Wake Up event at www.workingonyournow.com/wakeup.  Now, is your time to MAKE the time for you!

 

Ladies, It’s Time To Claim Our Holiday!

What do you call a day that is errand free? It is void of to-do lists, demands from spouses, significant others and kids. Your mind and body are filled with tranquility and relaxation. You maybe chuckling to yourself and saying, “The answer is non-existent. “

But there are days that are set aside especially for us.  We have our birthdays, Mother’s Day, and even Valentine’s Day.  I know what you’re thinking.  “Sure, it’s supposed to be for us.” Yes, I know there is a flip-side. These wonderful celebrations that are meant for you can sometimes be a little lack luster if they still involve you giving gentle nudges and “helpful” reminders to your family so they will remember them.  And even when those holidays are meant for you, you may still have to runaround and make purchases for that special someone who may be also celebrating their special day, too!

While the commercials and our families strive to make these holidays memorable, for the majority of women, these holidays do not typically run on auto-pilot.   The truth is that some type of input or small effort on our part is typically required.  Do you agree?

That is why it’s time for us to claim and name our own holiday!  As women we can band together across America and establish a new holiday just for us entitled, it’s All About Me Day! This holiday would be mandated that all women take the day off – and I mean truly take off!  I want women to do nothing that does not evolve around them. There would be no chores, no child, spouse or significant other care for that day. We will run no errands unless they center around our own needs.  And lastly, we will do what we want, when we want –and not feel guilty. It’s only for a day, ladies. The world will survive.  Or will it?

Imagine, all women in this country   joining together for their own holiday.  Just thinking about a day of utopia puts a smile on my face. How about you, can visualize this awe inspiring day?  Well, Congress may not have approved such a day yet, but Working on Your Now along with Optimum Body Sculpting is hosting its own holiday for Women on April 23 from 9a.m. to 1p.m. at Every Woman Works in Atlanta, GA.

So if you are woman and in need of some me-time, don’t be afraid. Go ahead, take it and join in with the other women who need an It’s All About Me Day for themselves, as well.   Come out and reboot your life and replenish your mind body and spirit.   Together, we will create a worry-free zone and give you a much needed wake-up call that you will never forget. Today is the first day of your new holiday! What are you waiting for? It’s all about you!  For more information, visit www.workingonyournow.com/wakeup

The Judgement Free Zone

As I was working out the other day, I honed in on something that I see every time I’m at the gym, but never really paid it much attention.

No Critics! You Belong! Obviously this gym is promoting that everyone should feel good about joining in as a member and being a part of their wellness center. But as I thought about this, the catchphrase ran deeper for me.  We live in a world where people are judged by how they look, what they say, how they act, speak,  eat, etc. The list is never ending.  And who are people being judged by? Strangers, peers, family members, friends, co-workers… and if you are a pet owner, your pet probably gives you the side – eye too, on occasion.

One of the things that we all have in common is that as human being none of us is without fault.  So why don’t we think about this BEFORE we judge other people? Are we as critical of ourselves as we are of others? Or, do we give ourselves permission to justify our prejudices and inaccurate assumptions we create about people?

When a child first comes into the world, they are precious, tiny and Judgment Free!  They respond well to physical touch such as hugs, kisses and snuggles.  However, as they continue to develop they are molded and influenced by the people who are raising them and they become more like US – the judgers.

Are you a judger? The judgers are the people who feel righteous enough to throw stones even when they live a glass house.   The judgers   are the people who become hypocritical and forget that they are not perfect.  And lastly, the judgers are the ones who formulate their opinions before they have all of the facts.

So, the next time you are looking at yourself in the mirror, pay attention to who is staring right back at you.  Is it a CRITIC  or a complimenter? Is it an OSTRACIZER or an energizer?  Are you creating a JUDGEMENT FREE ZONE or a zone that is filled with judgement? If your answer is yes to any of the first options in each question, then STOP and take another look in the mirror.   Remember, everyone has a desire to belong — just like you do !

 

Exercise – Is it Getting You to Your Best? Or Getting The Best of You?

Ladies, I profess that I am not a health expert. Nor, do I have a body that is  fabulously fit.  But, I do know great advice when I hear it.  And I’m especially pumped when I’ve actually done the stuff that was recommended and it worked! Here are a few tips that I’ve learned that absolutely DO Work!

Eat five times a day
Sounds like a lot doesn’t it? But I bet if you take out the multiple snacking that you do during the day, and really focus on sensible eating then this will probably work for you.   That means three meals and two snacks: one between breakfast and lunch, and one between lunch and dinner. “You’ll have a steady stream of energy; plus, less food more often isn’t as taxing on your digestive system as three big meals.   Five daily feedings stabilizes your blood sugar, so  you will avoid  mood swings or hunger pangs.

You’re doing too much of the same thing.  This is something that I am very guilty of pretty often. I find something I like and I just stick to it. Then I wonder why later, I haven’t gotten the results I wanted. So, whether it’s indoor cycling, Zumba, barre classes, or running on the treadmill if that’s all you do, you’re going to get very good at it…and then any body changes you were making will drop off. Luckily, there’s an easy fix: Try something new! And be specific about it—if your goal is more muscle tone, add some strength workouts. Or if you want to improve your flexibility, give yoga a try. If you want what you don’t have, you have to do what you don’t already do.

You’re overtired or overstressed. If you are a parent, taking care of someone else and/ or a workholic then you are probably one of those women who are missing out on the basic fundamentals of  good night’s sleep. Every Night. Working out and eating well are only two parts of the equation. If you’re not sleeping enough or you’re really feeling the pressure at work, your body isn’t going to adapt as well to the positive influence of exercise. Sleep is essential for muscles to heal after a tough sweat session, and stress can wreak havoc on your hormones, training your body to retain fat. Try to get a minimum of seven hours of sleep by treating bedtime as an unbreakable appointment, and look for ways to manage your stress. I know, I know. It’s easier said than done. But it’s possible!

You’re not challenging yourself enough. More and more, studies are showing that the intensity of a workout matters more than its duration when it comes to weight loss. As mentioned above, your body adapts quickly to the same routine, and this includes marathon steady-state sessions on the elliptical or long even-keeled runs in the park. Instead, try mixing it up with a different form of cardio,running intervals or high intensity level training.  The same intensity concern also goes for strength workouts done with too-light weights—in order totone muscles, you have to lift heavy.  There’s one caveat here, though; not every lifting session should be to your max potential. By alternating workouts between light, medium, and heavy days, you’ll get the best toning results.

Exercise is something that should be incorporated into our lifestyles every day.  You may not always have the time, but you need to find a way to make the time. It’s like having air.  You need it to live.  Excercise. You need it to live longer.

 

The Truth is: NOT Everyone Makes It Through

 

Before I was actually diagnosed with breast cancer, I honestly didn’t know much about it. I would see the pink ribbons, the bald-headed women talking and the horrible pictures of women who had lost their breasts and of course all the walks, runs and fund-raising events. But nothing ever really resonated with me, other than the things that I could do to prevent it. I figured I was pretty safe because NO ONE in my whole entire life had had cancer. But once you are diagnosed a WHOLE other world opens up and you begin to learn a lot, really fast.

Having watched the movie “Five” on Lifetime TV that depicts five different breast cancer stories and the impact that this disease has on everyone, including those around you, I have come to the conclusion that this disease isn’t “it” for me. I probably won’t know what “it” will be, but breast cancer will NOT cause my demise.

The movie starts with the story of a little girl wondering why her mom is in her room and wanting to know why all those people are in her home. It’s set in 1969, at a time when children were seen and not heard and neither were they told anything about “grown-up stuff” apparently. My heart went out to that child and I couldn’t imagine having my daughter in such a confused state when there was something obviously wrong with me.

The first thing I did was tell my family, including my daughter and sister. They have actually been my biggest supporters and cheering section, next to my husband, who is number one among all! I can’t say enough for my sisters-in-law and for the amazing support that I have received from my friends, subscribers to my newsletter, listeners to my radio show, the Diets In Review staff (whom I originally created this blog for) and audience, and total strangers who send me prayers and great vibes. Thank you all.

The little girl, Charlotte, grows up to become an oncologist and to help the subjects of the other four stories through their breast cancer battles, as well as struggling with her own diagnosis. The most poignant scene of the movie, to me, was when Charlotte reaches her 5-year survival mark and goes through the survival ceremony of “kissing the wall,” a wall of glass tiles she created in tribute to her mother’s battle. One of the storyline’s subjects was noticeably absent from the celebration. Nothing is said as to what happened to her or even when she passed, but I felt a huge sense of sadness that she was “gone.” But life continues on, Charlotte kisses the wall and all involved celebrate.

It was at that moment that I realized that I know that this won’t be my end. When I was first diagnosed, I was so scared. It was mainly fear of the unknown, not death. I can’t say for honest sure that I don’t fear death, but I accept it as part of life. Who can really tell you about it anyway? Those who have already passed on really aren’t telling a whole lot. It’s like a secret club that when you’re in, you’re in. The rest of us just speculate.

Now that I’ve gone through the surgery, started reconstruction, and put two chemo treatments under my belt, I feel empowered and really certain that it won’t be breast cancer that marks my end. But until that time comes, I will live my life to the fullest, enjoying every moment and trying my hardest NOT to sweat the small stuff. Besides everything else is gravy.

 

To be Fit or be in Fashion

Working out is a passion for some and a pain for others.  The passion for some is what drives them every day.  You know them. They wake up before the sun comes out, put on their bright sports garments, (so no one will run them over with their vehicle in the dark). And just like the postman– they run their route in the rain, sleet, snow, sun, dark, or cold. Nothing stops them. Ever.

Then there are the people who feel that exercise is a pain.  A great pain. I fall into that category.  I don’t like exercise. I never have. But what I do like is how it makes me feel after I drag myself to the gym to Just Do It! (I know I sound like a Nike Commercial.) Unfortunately,  I am one of those people that if I think about exercising — I won’t go. So as soon as I park my car in the gym’s lot I have to immediately get out and just go in and start my routine.  There is no stopping, no chatting, no thinking, or else I will change my mind and go home! Seriously.

Anyway, some of us are lucky.  They have what I call the skinny gene.  That’s when a person can eat whatever they want, when they want and not gain a pound. Many of us remember that skinny gene. But for some reason the skinny genes turned into skinny J-E-A-N-S ( I know they are not in fashion in 2015, but you get the point). Some of us really wanted desperately to fit back into them. Therefore, we started to exercise and watched what we ate because our wardrobe seemed to be shrinking. (Notice  I said our wardrobe was shrinking —  not us gaining weight.)

So whether or not you fall into the passion or the pain category, the truth is exercise is something that should be incorporated into our daily lives.  Whatever your reason is for doing it, it doesn’t really matter — just as long as you do. According to the Mayo Clinic , there are 7 benefits of regular activity.

1) Exercise Controls Weight (I agree)

2)  Exercise Combats health conditions and disease (Most definitely.)

3) Exercise Improves Mood (I’m a living witness for this.)

4) Exercise Boosts Energy (Yes, Indeed. I’m like a little Energizer Bunny.)

5) Exercise promotes better sleep (So, that explains why I’m out as soon as my head hits the pillow!)

6) Exercise puts the spark back into your sex life  (Niiiiice!)

7) Exercise can be fun!  (Well, I might beg to differ with this one. LOL )

 

So ladies, whether you are doing it to be fit, or to fit into your fashion really doesn’t matter.  You know that being healthy is a necessary part of Working on Your Now!