Optimal Health and Difficult Choices

Optimal Health and Difficult Choices

If you were to ask anyone whether they had a preference of being healthy or unhealthy, most people likely would admit to wanting to have the most optimal health possible, but unfortunately many don’t have it. It likely has to do with the fact that they lack knowledge, that it’s an effort and it also may be costly. In this day and age, we are surrounded with an array of products that are loaded with unpronounceable ingredients. There is an abundance of products to please everyone, some are healthy and cost more and others are unhealthy and less expensive.

pic grocery storeMarketers convince people that they need and want their product and the more they sell the more profit they make. They will advertise the most unhealthy foods because the rate of return is higher.

The food industry claims to have our best interest to heart but their actual goal is to make profit and only that! They really could’t care less about your health.

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Chemicals and sugar are cheap and a lot of “foods” contain those dirty ingredients. Despite their toxicity, the marketing tactics such as packaging and advertising make it very enticing for people to buy the products and consume them. The temptations are endless and people’s self-discipline is often compromised by the need to get instant gratification.

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Difficult choices!

Children are the most vulnerable as they’re exposed to advertising, bombarded from different sources everyday. To get a glimpse on this sad reality, check out this 2 minute video: We’re Not Buying It: Stop junk food marketing to kids

The desire for optimal health is strong as long as it doesn’t require us to abandon bad habits. Instead most people will resort to quick-fix solutions to most of their needs which require minimal personal sacrifice. We are creatures of habit and crave pleasurable things whether it be food, drink, affection, things, etc. Depending on our age, most of us tend to live in the moment and don’t think about the future. This is true mostly for young people. As people reach further into adulthood, they will tend to care more about their long-term well-being hence will aim to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

At which point in your life did you realize that it was worthwhile to start making lifestyle choices? Was it when you started getting some aches and pains?

The body has a fabulous way of flagging issues with uncomfortable and sometimes painful symptoms. Most people at this point will be motivated to make a change once and for all and will start making healthy food choices, start and maintain a steady exercise routine, and take steps to enhance mental and emotional health. If successful, later in age they will have a taste of what it’s like to be healthy as they compare themselves to other people in their age group who haven’t made healthy choices for a long time and continue on that path.

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Two men of the same age: one has a healthy lifestyle, the other does not

We all have to face the fact that if we were to pay a little more for healthy foods today, we will save so much money later in healthcare costs, and be healthier, mobile and pain-free. The benefits of eating healthy today and investing in your health are endless. There are difficult choices to make everyday as we are influenced by marketers and our cravings but our health is an investment.

Here are 6 Surprising Reasons Eating Right Pays Off.  What steps will you take this week to improve your health?

I wish you optimal health!

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We’re Want To Be Everywhere

We’re Want To Be Everywhere

The life I lead is quite busy. Busy mom. Busy employee. Buzzy bee. I work full-time for a non-profit organization as the CEO’s Executive Assistant and the organization’s Communications Coordinator. I feel so blessed that I love my job and the people I work with. Given that we only are made up of for employees, I tend to wear more hats that just the two mentioned above. It gets very busy and demands are endless. In this blog, I’d like to focus on telling you a bit about my communications role.

I’m the “one man show” running the department and it’s my job to ensure that all objectives are met. We may be a small organization in terms number of employees but we have an important role and we need to ensure that we’re seen everywhere, in other words increase our presence and our social media traffic. Our website is the best way of being seen as well as Twitter and our e-mailing list. There are many ways technology can be used and, for the moment, Twitter is the ideal tool. Our goal is to tweet more often on a consistent basis to ensure that our followers “see” us and see our work, continuously increasing traffic. Knowing our audience is critical, and it helps us choose which social media tool I best e.g. Twitter, Facebook, etc. Here’s a chart that provides an example on how to analyse this.

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We keep contact with our audience with our tweets and with our email campaigns. It always brings them to our website where we have all the resources they need. Our objective is to be everywhere in our sector in order to meet our business objectives and improve our chances of funding.

Here’s an interesting article on how to achieve this: 10 simple twitter tactics

I’m new here and when I started a few months ago, we didn’t have much of a communications role. The importance of this role has increased and it’s critical that we leverage technology to increase traffic to our website. A communications strategy is what we need on an urgent basis.  A great guide can be found here: A strategic guide to social media for non-profits.

For this, I have identified that we need to modernize our website and continue to follow organizations that I learn about through my news monitoring (e.g. Google alerts). Analytical tools on twitter on from our website is critical to maintain. The possibilities are endless.

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We have recently been through a strategic planning exercise and the core purpose, mission and vision has been updated. We’re strong with our direction, intent and things to offer but we’re weak with our website. It’s outdated and needs to be modernized especially to a mobile-friendly state. We have plenty of opportunity to use updated technology to gather as many experts from our industry together an increase our presence virtually. We don’t have to complete with any other organizations, but we rather have opportunities to collaborate with many.

An important objective I have to fulfill is to create a communications strategy and with will come a social media strategy. I will rely on our business strategy to develop the communications and social media strategies.

I’m excited about what my communications role can bring to this great organization and look forward to increasing our presence “everywhere”!

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COM0012 Blog 1: Going off the deep end.

COM0012 Blog 1: Going off the deep end.

Last week I witnessed a toddler being yelled at by her father. They were in the parking lot of the grocery store and he was trying to get her into the car. Her protest echoed loudly but her father’s yelling was even worse. It’s sad that something like that would bring a person to that point. Anger is one of those strong emotions that gets to the best of all of us. For some, anger is manageable and doesn’t get to the “boiling point” hence passes without too much damage. For others, it’s very difficult to control and can make them act in a way that has them crossing the line (aka “going off the deep end”). Unfortunately, expressing anger has a negative impact on everyone in its path.

No one choses to be angry, but external or internal factors will cause it to manifest itself and those feelings are real and need to be externalized. However, it’s how those feelings and actions are expressed is what makes the difference. Often times, the magnitude at which someone externalizes their anger has to do with underlying reasons.

Those who “go off the deep end” normally have trouble managing their emotions and takes them to the “point of no return” where they reach a point that no one can reason with them, their IQ levels decrease and they can be unpredictable with their words or actions. This anger can be so strong as to cause physical changes such as increased blood pressure, increased body temperature, and yelling and swearing, even sometimes erupting into violence or physical harm. Not a pretty sight for those observing the irate behaviour from the outside. Often times, those volatile individuals who “go off the deep end” very quickly when angry and struggle with this behaviour and it can interfere with their relationships. When the “storm” passes, a heavy sense of regret sets in and they know they have done some damage to others emotionally, physically or destroyed property.

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Do you sometimes feel so angry that you want to yell so hard, usually at someone or want to take an object with force e.g. like smashing your computer or slamming a door or throwing what’s in hand at the time hard against the wall? It’s not a pretty sight and the impact it has on people (and things) around you is very negative, can cause a lot of damage and with kids it can affect their self-esteem.

An effective technique for one to manage their anger is to breath. But it takes practice as one needs to realize their entering the state of anger and stop it from progressing. If they can manage to realize it at that time, this is when they need to stop and breath using the 4-7-8 technique.

Those habits of uncontrollable anger can stem from patterns developed from childhood. For example never having been taught to control that anger or perhaps it was a learned behaviour.

Anger can be triggered from external factors such as being stuck in traffic and being late for a critical appointment or meeting or a computer malfunction. It can also be triggered by interpersonal factors such as someone who “rubbed you the wrong way”. Do you have a sibling or family member that always seems to upset you? Perhaps you have a colleague at work that does things or says things that makes you furious?

Often times, the angry person is the only one feeling the anger and the other person who caused the anger appears to be unaffected by the issue. They may look at you as if your the weak one or the one with the issues. They try to reason with you and there is just nothing they can do to help you at that point.

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People with an inability to control their anger often lack maturity and confidence or simply may not be at peace with themselves. There is a saying: “Maturity is when you keep your mouth shut when you want to say something mean to someone. Only people at peace with themselves can do this.” There are several anger management techniques, and I believe the most inexpensive, effective and instant solution is the 4-7-8 breathing technique as previously mentioned and outlined below (source: https://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/body-mind-spirit/stress-anxiety/breathing-three-exercises/).

The 4-7-8 (or Relaxing Breath) Exercise

The 4-7-8 breathing exercise is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.

  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
  • Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
  • Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
  • This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

Note that with this breathing technique, you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.

This breathing exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. Unlike tranquilizing drugs, which are often effective when you first take them but then lose their power over time, this exercise is subtle when you first try it, but gains in power with repetition and practice. Do it at least twice a day. You cannot do it too frequently. Do not do more than four breaths at one time for the first month of practice. Later, if you wish, you can extend it to eight breaths. If you feel a little lightheaded when you first breathe this way, do not be concerned; it will pass.

Once you develop this technique by practicing it every day, it will be a very useful tool that you will always have with you. Use it whenever anything upsetting happens – before you react. Use it whenever you are aware of internal tension or stress. Use it to help you fall asleep. This exercise cannot be recommended too highly. Everyone can benefit from it.

Watch a video of Dr. Weil demonstrating the 4-7-8 Breath.

Ideally this effective breathing technique should be done is a maximum of 2 cycles and should be practiced for 4-6 weeks twice per day.

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Practicing this breathing technique also has other benefits such reducing cravings and helping on to fall asleep easily. Physiologically it reduces blood pressure, reduces anxiety and improves digestion.

The breath is essential to life. It is the first thing we do when we are born and the last thing we do when we leave. In between that time, we take about half a billion breaths. What we may not realize is that the mind, body, and breath are intimately connected and can influence each other. Our breathing is influenced by our thoughts, and our thoughts and physiology can be influenced by our breath. I hope you found this blog helpful to improve your health, your person and your relationships.

Broncosaurus

Broncosaurus

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So we thought it would be a good idea to get a new puppy! Our 12 year old Airedale Terrier passed away last Fall, and ever since, the house felt empty. We missed the companionship and our walks. Given that we fell in love with the breed, we decided to get the same type of dog. So we found a breeder; they interviewed us and we interviewed them. Before we knew it, we were placing a deposit for a puppy in the next litter; we had a 5 month wait. Meantime, as we waited impatiently, we tried to find a name that everyone in the family liked equally. We thought of Diesel, Hemmie, Bronco, Hunter, Tucker and Raptor. It took about 2 weeks to decide! Can you guess what we named him?

 

Our last Airedale, was mature, obedient and balanced. So we had a dreamy idea in mind that our next Airedale would be the same. Wrong. Adoption day came, we brought him home and the fury started. Normal for a puppy to be energetic, mouthy and playful, but this guy wouldn’t stop. Mister dominant with his razor sharp teeth wouldn’t let up and was even drawing blood. Of course try explaining to a puppy ‘no biting’ or ‘leave it’ and all he hears is blaghbla blagh. I guess we forgot the puppy stage: the biting, the crazy energy, the separation anxiety thing (resulting from taking him away from his mom and siblings), oh and of course potty training, teaching him to stay off furniture and all that fun stuff. It was like having a newborn baby. Every day we thought to ourselves: “what were we thinking?!”

running airedael

Airedale puppies are very rambunctious and bite everything in their path. They won’t bite in anger or aggression, they are either doing it to play or it soothes their teeth (teething). We thought though that after a little while, he would start to understand that biting hands, ankles, furniture, digging holes to China, and ripping out the perennials was not cool. Mr. Dominant didn’t get it. Whenever he got too spazzy (aka psychotic), we would help him self-regulate by putting him in his crate (so glad we decided to crate train him). Crate training is very effective, it helps doggy enjoy his special place (they think it’s their den), prevents him from getting ‘distructo’ on everything, and helps us stay sane and of course get some sleep at night.

 

So we took it one week at a time. But with his ‘bityness’ and ‘spazzyness’, we questioned whether we should keep him or return him. We started nicknaming him Raptor and Broncosaurus, and questioning whether he was a dum-dum, a psychopath or just a puppy.

 

Airedales are an extremely intelligent breed. Finally, now after 3 months, he’s understanding that being gentle is way more cool. Sure he’s still a baby and has his spazzy moments, but with training, brisk walks, socializing, $100 worth of dog toys dispersed all over the floor, as well as the upcoming puppy obedience classes and proper guidance and instructions, he will become the most amazing devoted companion ever.

 

Do you think that being patient during the puppy phase is worth it?

Do you think we should have called him Raptor instead?

The evolution of the job application process

 

I have worked my whole life and recently was out of a job – a very unnatural state for me. I got my first job at the age of 13 – you guessed it – delivering newspapers! That was back in the 80’s. I had two paper routes with the Montreal Gazette and made $100 a month. I got the job through my brother who also had a paper route and who introduced me to the route supervisor. When I turned 16, I wanted to get a job that paid more – at least minimum wage. Back then, the best way to find a job was to hit the pavement. Just like a game of hopscotch, I hopped from door to door of the businesses on my street filling out application forms, whether they had “help wanted” signs or not. I got my first job at the store I visited regularly as a customer – only because they knew me as a customer did they hire me (I had no relevant experience). Looking for a job back in the 80’s was a lot of leg work – in the literal meaning. Going door to door on foot, by bus, by metro and presenting yourself in person trying to act professional.

The job seeking process has evolved indeed where all this “leg work” can now be done from the comforts of your desk or palms of your hands thanks to computers and mobile devices using social media. Application forms today can be filled out & sent out quickly making it easier to apply to a multitude of jobs every day. Networking has always existed – like when my brother introduced me to the paper route supervisor and when the owner hired me based on simply knowing me as one of his customers. In this day and age, networking can be done so efficiently and presented professionally via social networks like LinkedIn or Facebook – hence permitting an exponential amount of contacts and references and I think upping your chances of getting a job. Or maybe not. Is it just me or is the competition fierce? The personal touch of applying for jobs in person has disappeared. Do you think presenting yourself in person – the old fashioned way – makes a greater impact compared to presenting an electronic profile to market yourself? It certainly increases the amount of applications employers receive hence increases the competition.

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But I have to admit, today’s job search process is so much broader – there are so may more possibilities now. When you consider the extent of use of social media, it’s amazing what it has to offer: you can apply from anywhere anytime, work from any city, prepare for an interview by watching YouTube or reading blogs, interview over video like Skype, and more.

 

Do you think there’s more “leg work” involved in “selling yourself” by applying for jobs the old fashioned way or in today’s social media world?