Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Worst Interview Disasters and How to Avoid Them

By Sara McCord – Reposted from The Daily Muse
By properly preparing for an interview – doing your research, waking up early, dressing appropriately—you should walk out your door the morning of feeling unstoppable. But what happens when you hit a snag en route?

A worst-case scenario like getting stuck in traffic or spilling coffee on your suit may threaten to throw you off your game entirely. But instead of panicking, remember these tools and tips to remedy any pre-interview nightmares. No matter what you encounter, you can arrive feeling like the problem-solver you are.

Nightmare #1: You’re No Longer Looking the Part

Fix It: A Great Bag With an Emergency Kit

Mary Poppins had her carpet bag, and you should have a go-to interview purse. It should be large enough to hold your everyday essentials and interview musts, such as extra resumes, as well as a special emergency kit stocked with what you might need in an unexpected situation.

Include Band-aids (for blisters), blotting sheets (for makeup-threatening sweat), a stain stick (for spilled coffee), tissues (for allergies), mini hairspray (for un-forecasted, frizz-inducing rain), tampons (no explanation needed), and the ultimate must-have, breath mints (bad breath is a confidence killer). To avoid having to carry a too-large bag, pack travel-size emergency kit items, pare down what you otherwise carry everyday, and above all, make sure you feel good and can stand up straight carrying your bag!

True story: One of my first go-to work bags was a large black Nine West the sales associate informed me could double as a diaper bag. But it was chic and it was so helpful having separate pockets for keys, my phone, a small notebook, and you guessed it—all of my emergency kit items, which came in handy more than once.

Nightmare #2: You’re Running Late

Fix It: Bluetooth and Cab Fare

Being late to an interview is not good—it’s better to be 45 minutes early to the location, run to Starbucks, and risk coffee spillage (good thing you packed your stain stick). But of course, even if you’ve planned out the route and gassed up your car or loaded up your Metrocard, traffic jams and subway delays do happen.

What now? If you’re in your car, use your hands-free to calmly call and ask the administrative assistant if she has suggestions for an alternate route. She knows the area around the office best, and it’s a way to hint that you may be unavoidably late without calling and complaining about traffic. Serious subway delays? Get off at the next stop and hoof it or catch a cab.

And if you still arrive late? Apologize sincerely —once—and put your game face back on. Don’t keep bringing it up.

Nightmare #3: You’re Sick

Fix-It: Forethought and DayQuil

This is the real nightmare scenario. Why? Because “I’m coming down with something” can be code for “I’m hungover or unprepared,” and you don’t want calling in sick to be your first impression.

The best way to handle this situation is to avoid it. Feel like you’re getting sick on Wednesday with that flu going around the office? Don’t chance your Friday interview—call and ask to push it to the following Monday.

And if you wake up the day of and feel a little scratchy? Ask yourself what you would do if you had a major presentation: Would you be able to load up on DayQuil, push yourself, do a good job, then go home and get into bed; or do you know you’d be foggy and coughy? If you won’t be able to make a good impression, call and apologize as early as possible. Try to schedule an alternative time while you’re on the phone, and make sure it’s more than a day away so you won’t have to call if off again.

Pitfalls happen (yes, even the morning of interviews) but the ability to move on and do your best despite them will show that you can roll with the punches. Be prepared—and that includes being ready for the worst—and you’ll be able to handle anything that comes your way.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Making Healthy Choices Without Thinking

Written by Theresa Marteau Reposted from

Theresa Marteau is director of the Behaviour and Health Research Unit at the Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom. Her areas of research include developing and evaluating interventions aimed at changing behaviors to improve public health.

Would you be more likely to take the stairs if the elevator doors were slower to close?
Would you be more likely to eat healthy foods if the unhealthy selections were harder to reach?

You might -- and you might not even be aware of it.
Humans, as well as other animals, are motivated to conserve energy and have a built-in preference for the shortest or easiest way of doing something over a longer or more difficult way.

Our behavior is guided by two systems: a reflective system, in which we act in a conscious way, working toward goals while aware of our motivations and actions; and an automatic system, in which we act without reflection, responding to our surroundings and performing behaviors we have performed countless times before.

Targeting automatic behaviors could be a key way to fight disease.

Worldwide, more than half of deaths are due to four diseases: cancer, heart disease, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease.
The main causes of those are smoking, overeating, excessive alcohol consumption and a sedentary lifestyle. It's estimated that 75% of diabetes and heart disease cases and 40% of cancers would be prevented by changing the behaviors that cause them.

Past approaches have focused on persuading people of the risks faced by not changing behavior -- not curbing their drinking, for instance, or increasing their physical activity.

But even if the risks are personalized, evidence has shown, such information has little or no impact on behavior.

More intensive behavioral programs, those aimed at weight loss or stopping smoking, are more effective. But their effect is still limited, as only a small proportion of those who might benefit enroll in these programs, and of those who do, only a minority succeed in changing their behavior.

It's the highly routine behaviors that prove difficult to change.

We now know that much of our behavior is not driven by thinking about the consequences of our actions but rather is automatic, shaped by our environments and performed often without awareness.

So how to target those automatic behaviors?

There are two broad groups of interventions that try to do this: those that alter a person's environment to make healthy behaviors the most likely and those that change automatic associations to make the healthier products more attractive.

Those stairs might seem easier if the elevator is slow, for instance. And putting healthier foods nearer to people in a self-service cafeteria, reducing the effort needed to reach them, might translate into healthier eating.

Another example: the recent ban on large sodas served in restaurants in New York.

The other broad approach is to target automatic processes to alter how a person responds to their environment.

That might mean increasing the packaging on healthy items to make them more attractive. "Teddy bear's soup," for example, might be more attractive to children than "lentil stew."

It may also mean removing sports references on some food and drinks and removing branding from cigarette packages, replacing them with images warning of harm.

But changing our environments, as well as how we react to them, can be a large step toward preventing 25% of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and respiratory disease by 2020 -- a World Health Organization goal.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Fall Fashions- How to Incorporate Items you already own

Written by Diane McLelland, our resident Fresh Start Fashionista!
If you’re currently job seeking, chances are you already have a black or dark solid colored skirt, suit, or slacks in your wardrobe. With regard to interview attire, it’s always best to keep the top simple; as in a solid white, cream, or lighter hue, or even subdued stripes. However, once you land the job, you can be a bit creative (dress code permitting, of course) and begin to pair the solid classic bottoms with prints and brighter colored blouses and knits that you might already own. You can always add a lightweight or even light wool scarf in a contrasting solid or matching print for interest at the neckline.

Take an inventory of your lightweight blouses and dressier T-shirts or tank tops (non-logo or sports team related) that you may have worn this summer. You can wear those under a blazer or sweater for a layered look, keeping in mind that most anything goes with the staple colors black or gray. If you’re choosing a tank top, know that slipping your blazer or sweater off mid-day probably won’t be an option.

In a previous blog, I wrote about color blocking, which is wearing two solid and often contrasting colors together on separate pieces. Wearing the darker color on the bottom serves to minimize large hips or derriere. The color you wear on top can accentuate your narrow shoulders or waist, for instance. If you own black slacks or a skirt, wear a brighter color blouse or knit top (or jacket or blazer on top). Of course, reverse the color blocking if you are attempting to minimize an ample bust and accentuate slim hips, for example.

When shopping, look for dresses (big this fall/winter season) that feature interest along the sides; such as a panel of black running down the length of the dress (or shift, as my mother’s generation was fond of calling them). This will visually draw the eye away from the hips or thighs, and create a leaner look. According to In Style magazine, some styles can appear to make one look as though you’ve taken off 5 pounds! The publication refers to it as a ‘Secret weapon’- The Contrast Panel. Vertical lines offer a slenderizing effect, and help to minimize not only the hip area, but the tummy as well. Don’t be hesitant to try a knit material; just ensure that you are choosing the correct size, and incorporating shapers for a streamlined look and fit. Many times, we’re tempted to wear last year’s sweater dress that fits a bit snugly- however, we may have forgotten that we have jumped a size (or two!) since that time. Get the fit right, slip on a blazer, opaque hosiery, boots or a flat or heeled comfortable shoe (no sandals unless you’re in a very warm climate and it’s acceptable) and you’re ready for the office.

Dresses are also being featured with all-over prints that distract the viewer’s eye; the benefit being a camouflaging effect of those pesky bumps and lumps that many of us women try desperately to hide.

If your dress is more than two to three inches above the knee, you may wish to consider opaque tights (available in many colors) as an alternative to bare legs, as bare legs in an office setting can be too casual. With the cooler temperatures upon us, boots are becoming a viable option as well. Most dresses can be paired with a dress boot, and still look appropriate for the workplace. Be sure that your boots are appropriate-last year’s thigh high suede boots or faux fur lined short boots are fine for the weekend, but can be seen as too casual for most business environments except perhaps for ‘casual Fridays’.
Diane McLelland has been called a ‘fashionista’ from a young age, acquiring her love of a fashion after enrolling in Sears Charm School as a young girl. After earning her degree in Fashion Merchandising and Business, she gained experience by appearing in movies, commercials, and magazine layouts in the Phoenix area, and worked as a flight attendant for over 15 years. Diane considers herself to be a personal shopper as she shops for family and friends whenever possible. She has written for a travel publication and numerous newsletters and currently works as a Career Services Advisor, assisting students find viable work in their chosen fields. She has two grown sons, and along with dog Cooper and ‘his’ two cats, resides in the Valley of the Sun - Phoenix AZ.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Finding Balance: My Advice as a New Working Mom

Written by Kelly van Atta - reposted from The Daily Muse

Last week, I sat in a dingy waiting room at the doctor’s office. Wanting to make the most of my time, I picked up a popular parenting magazine. One of the articles posed the question we’re hearing a lot these days: “Can working mothers have it all?”

I laughed out loud. I was waiting to see the doctor because I have pink eye in both eyes, and I’m suffering through my second cold in a month.  Pesky daycare germs. Infected and exhausted, I certainly don’t feel like I have it all.

Reflecting further, I wonder what it means to “have it all.” Can a working mom have a career, a marriage, health, happiness, and a relationship with her children simultaneously? The answer is so individualized and complicated that a universal answer seems impossible, but, from my perspective, as a full-time 9th grade teacher and a mother to a 20-month old son, “having it all” is pretty tough. In fact, this goal seems too lofty. More often, I dream of sleeping in until 10 or taking a long, long shower, alone.

However, despite the fact that I can’t seem to take a break from my Kleenex box, I have found some strategies that have helped me through the challenges of being a working mom. I may not have it all, and I may not ever get to sleep in, but I do have many wonderful days, and I’d love to share some of the things that make these days possible.

1. Bring Your Child to Work (Figuratively)

One of my well-meaning male bosses told me that I should never mention my son at work—that I should focus on my career rather than my family so that others would take me seriously.

I tried that for a few months, and it didn’t work for me. I realize that everyone has different work environments and that keeping conversations professional with your co-workers is important, but personally, I found that once I discarded his advice, my work life became much more enjoyable. When my students succeed in class, I reward them by showing a new picture of my adorable toddler (I’m sure they love it). I proudly display pictures on my desk, and I talk about him (during appropriate times, of course). Honestly, as soon as I started being more authentic about who I am, my work life improved.

2. Multi-task

Let’s face it, being a working mom is exhausting. Every minute of the day seems crammed full of diapers and emails. For this reason, I have discovered a whole new level of multi-tasking. For example, I started typing this article on my phone while waiting in line at the DMV. When I make it to the gym (a rare occasion), I always take my book, so that I can do two of my favorite things at once. After I drop my son off at daycare, I continue my commute while talking to my sister on speaker phone. This is the only time I can find time to connect to her, and I make the most of it. Sometimes, I take my lunch to the carwash and grade papers while I wait. In order to maintain sanity, I’ve tried to streamline my daily actvities so I have as much time at home as possible.

3. Cry over Spilled (Breast) Milk

Last year, I experienced a catastrophe. I didn’t drop my baby, but I did spill 6 ounces of pumped breast milk at work. Alone in the pumping room, I started bawling—and you know what? It felt good.

When I first returned to work, I tried to pretend that I had it all together, that I wasn’t missing my son all the time, that I didn’t care that I couldn’t fit into my old work clothes. But that day, when I allowed myself to cry over the spilled milk, I realized the power of allowing myself to express my true emotions.

Now, when people ask me how I’m doing, I try to be honest (time permitting), and I allow myself to cry occasionally. I don’t want to be superficial and pretend I have everything 100% together all the time, and I think I’m better off for it.

4. Make the Most of Time at Home

I’ll be honest: Some days after work, I lie on the floor of my son’s room and let him climb all over me. My eyes glaze over, and I don’t connect. Sometimes, I just don’t have much to give.

Recently, though, I’ve tried to be more intentional about enjoying and making the most of the time I have with my son and my husband. Putting my phone aside and the chicken in the Crock-Pot, I try to play. I try to give eye contact, use silly voices, and participate in my family dance parties. And all of this, while it requires much more of my energy, results in a much more enjoyable evening as well as much better relationships with the men in my life.

5. Connect With Other Working Moms

Every Friday morning at 10:30, I feel a bit sad. Many of my friends who stay at home with their kids have a “mom group” at this time, and I would love to go. There are many things I miss out on because I’m at work, and that can be really tough.

But one thing that has helped me is support from my co-workers. I work closely with two other moms, and talking to them about things like grading papers during naptime has been tremendously therapeutic. These women understand the emotions and challenges that come from balancing working and parenting. We share cute videos, hot coffee, and sympathetic hugs, and it makes a huge difference in my life.

I suppose, for me, the answer to the question, “Can working moms have it all?” is no. My life isn’t as put together as I’d like to be, and I miss time with my son that I’d love to have. Some days I feel guilty for working so much, and some days I feel guilty for not working enough. I have pink eye, and we often get take-out. I don’t “have it all.”

But regardless of this, I’m grateful for the things I do have: an adorable son, a helpful husband, and a rewarding career. So for now, I take each day as it comes, doing the best I can. And that, for me, is enough.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

7 Tips for Getting an Energy Boost in the Next 10 Minutes

Tips take from the excellent website The Happiness Project


Go Outside in the Sunlight

Light deprivation is one reason that people feel tired.  For an extra boost, get your sunlight first thing in the morning.

Go For a Brisk Walk

Even a ten minute walk is enough to provide a feeling of energy and decreased tension.

Act With Energy

Trick yourself into feeling energetic by acting energectically.

Listen to Your Favorite Upbeat Song

Hearing stimulating music gives an instant lift.

Clean Up!

Why is this so effective?  Unclear - but it is.

Drink some Coffee

Coffee gets a bad rap, but fact is it boosts alertness, energy, and ability to focus. (Plus its a great source of antioxidants and dietry fiber.)

Tackle an Item on Your To-Do List

Unfinished tasks weigh us down.  Force yourself to complete some nagging chore.




Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Retirement, Savings, or Debt? How to Prioritize Your Financial Goals

Written by Laura Shin, Reposted from LearnVest

When it comes to our personal finances, we all start out with the best of intentions.

We’re going to stick to our budget. We’re going to have the biggest emergency fund ever seen, and we’re going to sign up for every last insurance policy we need. We’re also going to start saving for retirement from day one, and live happily ever after in Barbados. Enter real life. That’s where you’re faced with tricky questions like, should you put your raise toward your emergency fund, your credit card debt or your IRA?

At LearnVest, we tend to call these “this or that” questions: As in, should I fund this financial goal first or that one? Sometimes it can seem like questions that involve retirement are trickiest of all. Why? Because it’s easy for retirement to seem like the least pressing concern, but it is also the one with the highest price tag—and the one you’ll be rewarded for most if you start saving early.

And most of us severely underestimate how much we need to save. Today we’ll show you how to prioritize retirement against your other financial priorities. Once you’re clear on that, we’ll set you straight on just how you can make all the right moves and retire to [your island of choice], Mai Tai in hand.

Setting Your Financial Priorities

Before we dive into retirement vs. other financial priorities, let’s set a few ground rules. First, the best way to set up your budget is what we call the 50/20/30 Rule. (You can read all about it here.) In short, the 50/20/30 Rule states:

·         No more than 50% of your take-home pay should be spent on Essential Expenses, which are strictly defined as your housing, transportation, utilities and groceries. Nothing else.

·         At least 20% of your take-home pay should go to Financial Priorities, which are defined as retirement contributions, savings contributions and debt payments. And we’re not counting any retirement contributions you make through your employer, such as a 401(k) or a 403(b).

·         Lastly, no more than 30% of your take-home pay should go toward your Lifestyle Choices, which encompasses everything else: shopping, the babysitter, entertainment, personal care, the gym, cable, gifts, your cell phone, dog food, and more.

(Want to see how your own finances stack up against the 50/20/30 Rule? Run them through our Smart Budget.) Today, we’re going to focus in on that 20% slice: How exactly do you prioritize retirement over savings and debt? Doesn’t it all kind of feel equally important? Well, actually, we have a few guidelines for you.

How to Rank Your Financial Priorities

1. Retirement comes first.

Retirement is the number one financial priority for pretty much everyone for three reasons:

1.     Inflation causes the value of every dollar to shrink year after year, so by the time you retire, you’ll need much more money every year to live than you currently live on now.

2.     We’re living longer than ever and health care costs are rising so we need to save up to take care of ourselves for a longer period in retirement than previous generations did.

3.     Today’s retirees can rely on Social Security or pensions. But we won’t be able to. Pensions are becoming much less common and the future of Social Security is up in the air. It’s up to us to save what we can for retirement.

2. Emergency Savings

This is your second priority because if you don’t have an emergency fund and an emergency pops up, you’ll either

·         Rack up credit card debt

·         Have to borrow from your retirement savings in order to cover the emergency

What, exactly, is an emergency fund for? If you don’t know, we’ll walk you through how (and where) to build one, and the only reasons you should be spending yours. Having these savings in place will protect not only you but also your top two other financial priorities.

3. Debt

Debt may be third on this list, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a high priority. Yes, it comes after retirement and emergency savings, but it also comes before your Lifestyle Choices spending. That means that every month, you make your debt payments before you, say, buy a new phone or that Thanksgiving plane ticket home or the new work shoes you need. Why? Because debt is a huge burden, and because–in the case of credit card debt–your debt can grow. For that reason, when you tackle your debt, you should:

·         First work on paying down credit card debt over other kinds of debt.

·         Among your credit card balances, pay minimums toward everything but your highest-interest rate debt. Put as much as you can toward that.

·         Once that is paid off, prioritize your next-highest interest-rate debt. Non-credit card debt, such as from student loans, is lower in priority than credit card debt because the amount does not increase the longer you hold it.

Are You an Exception to the Rule?

While these are helpful guidelines that apply to most people, there are specific situations which mean you should allocate money a bit differently toward your Financial Priorities. Here are five scenarios in which real life bumps up against the rule, and the best advice might actually be something more tailored to the person’s specific situation:

1.     A recent college grad who is making $30,000 a year and has $50,000 in school loans but no savings

2.     A 55-year-old who has a three-month emergency fund but is behind on retirement savings and has $10,000 in credit card debt

3.     A 35-year-old single mother with a two-year-old and no emergency savings

4.     A 45-year-old single woman who has six months of emergency savings, no debt and is on track for retirement, but who has just been diagnosed with a serious illness that could put her out of work for several months

5.     A 30-year-old who was just out of work for eight months and not only depleted her emergency savings but also got into $10,000 worth of credit card debt

Unfortunately, because these situations are unique, it’s hard for us to give a hard and fast rule about how each person should prioritize their Financial Priorities. For that reason, if you fit one of these profiles, you might want to see a Certified Financial Planner® to get appropriate advice for you.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Work Happier, Not Harder

By Chris Doty, Reposted from Mindjet

Research indicates that happiness is a stronger predictor of business success than job satisfaction. Happy people consistently outperform their dour coworkers and attain better, more fulfilling positions. If you’re a cricket player, being happy even increases your batting average!

But if happiness is so critical to business productivity and success, it raises the question: How do you measure happiness? What makes a happy employee? What makes anyone happy at all? How can businesses facilitate a positive environment at work without resorting to lunch hour sing-a-longs?

Psychologists have begun exploring these research questions, and developing a new domain of inquiry in the process—positive psychology. Rather than focusing on disorders and mental illnesses, positive psychology investigates what makes life meaningful and joyful, and identifies ways to foster those traits in ourselves and others. Prominent researchers in the field include Dr. Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania and Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi at Claremont Graduate University.

Here are a few “best practices” from positive psychology that you can incorporate into your own personal life and professional career:


Humans are social creatures, and our social relationships have a profound impact on our own sense of happiness. Indeed, both positive and negative emotions can behave like mood viruses, quickly spreading through a network of acquaintances and influencing the emotional state of people three degrees removed. Rather than cutting people off to prevent a case of the Mondays from going viral, it’s better to enhance the bonds between you and your coworkers.

Tending to these social connections is one of the keys to leading a meaningful, productive, happy life. Given the amount of time that we spend working, colleagues inevitably become an important social group within our personal network. Rather than viewing coworkers as simply that, try to view colleagues as an important part of your social existence.

The lesson: Be proactive in strengthening group cohesion and general well-being. This effort can be as simple as taking ownership of a small project or part of a larger problem. In doing so, you provide a concrete improvement to the group in a way that’s tangible and visible, both to yourself and others.


Positive psychologists throw around the word “happiness” a lot. But the word “flow” is used nearly as frequently. Flow describes a state of mind that we’re all familiar with—work happens effortlessly and for its own sake, tasks ebb and flow without conscious management, and time passes without being noticed. Flow describes our mindset when we say we’re “in the zone” or that “time is flying by.” This sense of flow is an important component of happiness.

One of the keys to identifying your personal flow zone is finding the right balance between challenging tasks and work ability. Trying to take on a task that is too challenging leads to frustration and a sense of helplessness, while not having a large enough task results in boredom.

The lesson: Break projects up into individual “chunks” with clear goals and expectations. By minimizing distractions and confusion, you should be able to move seamlessly and confidently between tasks while staying actively engaged. If the project is appropriately challenging, the flow will come naturally as you immerse yourself in the work.


Positive psychology has confirmed the old adage that you can’t buy happiness. Several studies have demonstrated that once your basic needs are met and you have enough income to live comfortably, earning more money won’t increase your happiness. Yet the same studies indicate that people radically overestimate the impact that having more money will make on their long-term sense of happiness. Money is then pursued for its own sake, with diminishing happiness returns.

Positive psychology, however, has provided ample evidence that those who are happy earn higher incomes in the long run than those who are unhappy. For example, one study measured the happiness of first-year college students. When these students were re-interviewed in their 30s, those who were rated as happier when entering college had higher incomes than the unhappiest students, even after controlling for other factors such as parental income.

The lesson: Happiness begets money, not the other way around. If you want to be wealthy and happy, start with happiness — pursue projects that you enjoy, that allow you to connect with others while doing meaningful work, and that help you enter into the mental space of flow. Everything else follows from there.

The secret to working happier isn’t just following a series of steps, it’s making a conscious decision to adopt a positive approach to work and life. The best practices outlined above can point you in the right direction, but positive psychology is ultimately about restoring your own personal agency and developing self-efficacy. In the process, you may find a more positive balance between work, family, health, and community.

For more information on positive psychology, check out the Quality of Life Research Center and Authentic Happiness.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Supporting Your Children to Make Healthy Choices

Written by Dawn Antestenis, Fresh Start Blogger


Tip 1 : Make Healthy Choices Yourself

We all know this as parents, but it can't be repeated often enough, our kids learn from our behaviour.  So if they see us reaching for the healthy snack over the chocolate bar they are more likely to make the same healthy choice themselves.  Further, making sure they have healthy food choices available to them at home makes it a whole lot easier for them to make the healthy choice when the time comes.  To reinforce the healthy choices you make in your daily life with your kids why not talk about it with them - explain how you made the decision and why you did!

Tip 2 : Start with Small Choices

There is so much choice out there in the world today, a great thing in many ways, but also potentially overwhelming for our kids!  Good news is we can help.  The safe environment of the family home is a great place to start to explore making choices with your kids.  Start with choices over small things like what they want to wear that day.  Don't give them too many options, just two choices to start with.  Then once they have decided celebrate with them that they have made a decision!  Whatever you do don't over confuse or undermine them by not following through with their choice, or offering extra choices.  It is as simple as "Would you like to wear the green skirt or the blue pants?"..."Blue pants please"..."Ok great, excellent choice!  Now lets put your blue pants on!"

Tip 3 : Help Them Understand that Choices have Consequences

Again this is an opportunity to explore what choices mean in everyday life with your kids.  Keep an ear out for choices they make during the day and take some time out with them to talk about how they made these decisions and how they felt about the consequences.  Starting these conversations early on in their lives, around small decisions that they have made around the house, starts the learning early and helps them build skills that will prepare them for bigger decisions that will have larger consequerences later in life!

Tip 4 : Start a Choice Journal

Last but not least, encourage your kids to start a Choice Journal.  This is a place for them to write down choices they have made that day, and in doing so reflect on how they made them and what the outcome was, all the time building skills in decision making that will serve them well in years to come!

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Effects of Diet and Exercise on Self Esteem

Reposted from
Eating healthy foods and getting regular physical activity are two ways to improve your health and decrease your risk of suffering from serious medical problems. There is an added benefit to eating right and exercising. As you do things that are good for your body, your self-esteem improves for many reasons, including weight loss. Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet C. Oz note in their book, "You on a Diet: The Owner's Manual for Waist Management," that when you take control over your health by filling up on healthy foods and being active, your self-esteem may increase as you reach your goals.


Improved Body Image Perception

When you eat right and exercise regularly, you may like what you see in the mirror more than when you make unhealthy choices. Stuart Biddle, Kenneth R. Fox and Stephen Hugh Boutcher report in their book, "Physical Activity and Psychological Well-Being," that if you have a positive view of yourself in terms of weight, you are more likely to stick to your healthy eating and exercise habits. In order to achieve peace with your appearance, you must make healthy lifestyle choices. When you are able to fill up on nutritious foods and get plenty of exercise, you may lose weight, but you will also feel better about the way you look.


A Sense of Control

When you make the decision to improve your eating habits and exercise regimen, you are taking control of your health. The power you feel when you make a decision that you know is good for you can increase your self-esteem, Roizen and Oz note. As you repeat your healthy choices on a daily basis, you begin to feel a sense of accomplishment and pride that encourages you to continue making those decisions.


Reduced Anxiety and Stress

Many people who are struggling to lose weight, eat right and exercise experience increased stress and anxiety if they eat a piece of cake or take a day off from being active. In order to overcome these feelings, Roizen and Oz, suggest taking small steps to keep you motivated. If you eat a healthy meal, your body produces nitric oxide, which encourage you to feel hopeful and optimistic about your goals. Roizen and Oz also suggest that you need constant examples of healthy choices for your self-esteem to increase as your anxiety and stress decrease. Choose the apple instead of the cake or walk for 10 minutes. These are small steps that keep you motivated and help you increase your self-esteem.


Improved Mental Health

Your mental health is a key component of self-esteem. If you lack good mental health, you may see yourself in a distorted way, which can lead to a decrease in self-esteem. Regular physical activity has been associated with a decrease in symptoms of depression, which improves your mental health and allows you to see yourself in a different, and more positive, way. Coupled with eating healthy, your serotonin levels may increase, which will improve your mood and help you make decisions that boost your self-esteem and improve how you view yours.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Emotional Benefits of Saving

Written by Renee Hanson, Personal Wealth Advisor

According to the Bureau of Economic Affairs, the savings rate of Americans is on the upswing.  Rising from the deplorably low rates recorded in 2005, when the average American barely saved 1 percent of disposable income, the average savings rate has passed the 5 percent mark for the past 18 months. Here are a few reasons why you should jump on the savings bandwagon.

Peace of mind. Financial worries are a leading cause of stress, and stress can have a detrimental effect on both physical and mental health. Saving can help you manage life’s twists and turns, such as a change in employment status or an unexpected hospital bill, without compounding your anxiety.

The joy of self-discipline. Putting money aside for a future goal isn’t always easy. It may mean denying yourself something you really want. Yet following through on a savings goal and choosing to defer gratification can help instill pride and self-confidence, which translates to an enhanced state of well-being.

Smarter spending. I’ll speak for myself here, but when I take a more disciplined approach to saving, it’s easier for me to separate my wants from my needs. As a result, I’m more likely to make smart purchases that I don’t regret later. Saving toward a purchase (instead of buying on credit), also helps ensure you can actually afford what you buy.

More pleasure. Planned purchases tend to provide more satisfaction than impulse buys. It’s fun to think about and anticipate the pleasure of a new car, or a vacation, or even a night on the town. By postponing a purchase through saving, you can make the joy of an eventual purchase last longer.

Indulge in the urge to save. Just as the pennies you save add up, so too, do the emotional benefits of scrimping. So if you’re wondering what to do with the cash that remains after your bills have been paid, consider setting aside a portion in a savings account. It not only makes good sense, it feels good, too.




Renée A. Hanson, CFP®, CEP®, CDFA™, CFS, is a private wealth advisor with Hanson, Ayala & Associates, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Her passion is in helping women achieve their dreams and financial goals, regardless of life’s many obstacles. Renée is licensed/registered to do business with U.S. residents only in the states of AZ, CA, CO, GA, IA, IL, MI, MN, MT, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, PA, SC, TX, VA, WA, WI. Please visit: to learn more.


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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Finding the Right Diet Plan for You

Written by Ellen Diana, Psychologist

An important part of living a healthy lifestyle is finding a nutritious eating plan you can live with. There are many diets to explore and your goal is to find the right one for you. To be successful in living a healthy lifestyle, focus on finding a diet which allows you to eat a variety of healthy foods that you enjoy. Avoid diets where you are required to eat foods which you do not enjoy. Adopting a healthy lifestyle is not meant to be a punishment, filled with deprivation and shaming experiences. When you live a healthy lifestyle you feel energized and motivated to pursue your life goals and interests. You nurture your best self, which leads to happiness in your life.
Some suggestions to achieve this are:

·         Check out the library and local bookstores because the shelves are filled with books on diet plans. Some popular ones are the Paleo diet, Atkins diet, Bellyfat diet, South Beach diet, Blood Type diet, NutriSystem, Jenny Craig, Raw Food Detox Diet, Weight Watchers, TLC, Mediterranean diet, Mayo Clinic, HCG diet, and the Fat Flush plan. There are many others.

·         Find the diet that is right for you because all of these diets can help you lose weight, or stay at a comfortable weight. The degree of difficulty associated with using each one of them, however, is different, depending on you.

·         Do you prefer points or plans? For example, Weight Watchers allows a broad range of foods, because each food is assigned a point. Counting points determines how much you’ll eat each day. Other diets are quite scripted and rigid.  Some even have pre-made food you can buy to take the guesswork out of deciding what to eat. Decide which works best for you.

·         Choices or not? Do you work best when you know exactly what you should be eating, how much, and when, or do you like choices? Find a diet plan which fits for you.

·         There’s something to value in every diet so avoid taking an all-or-none stance on each diet you review. Start a notebook of the tips and ideas you’d like to keep from each diet.

·         Find the best fit for you personally. A diet that worked for your friend may not work for you. If you don’t like the diet plan, you won’t follow it.

·         Avoid food boredom by finding a diet plan with enough meal options so that you have sufficient variety in your meals. The diet you select should have several weeks’ worth of menus that you find appealing.

·         A good diet includes treats using healthy alternatives like cocoa, carob, or sugar substitutes. For more ideas Google recipes using the diet plan you select.

Pick the diet that feels the simplest, most enjoyable, and most energizing to you. Select the one that makes you feel excited when you read about it and makes you think “I can do this!” That’s the diet to pick.
Ellen Diana is a psychologist, author of the Lucky Dreamer Tip Series, and co-author of the Charge up Your Life series of self-help books. She has 30 years’ experience working with children, adults, couples, and families in schools and in private practice in Scottsdale, Arizona. Helping women to evolve into their best selves through personal growth and self-awareness is a passion of hers. Ellen raised three successful children as a single parent and so has special interests in mentoring other women in transition and helping parents to raise resilient children. Contact Ellen at or through her website