Tuesday, January 25, 2011

5 Ways You Might Conquer Cravings

The American Century Dictionary defines “crave” as to “long or beg for.” What visions come to mind when you hear the word “beg”? Someone asking for money on the street? A dog whining to be fed? A child nagging for candy or a toy? Not positive images are they? But when we crave a tasty treat, all negative connotations get pushed aside, as we rush to the kitchen in a kind of euphoric trance.

What causes these feelings and what can we do about them? The reasons for cravings can be vastly different among individuals. Stress, depression, chemical and physiological imbalances, availability or proximity to food, the environment, a vitamin deficiency, or simply hunger, can all create the urge to eat or drink. And even though you may think it impossible, there are ways to combat these urges.

No, that doesn’t mean getting in the car and driving to the nearest burger joint! Outdoor activity can be a healthy distraction when the crave hits. Not only does being outside promote other healthy activities such as playing sports, yard work, running, walking, or just getting some fresh air, but it keeps us away from the biggest danger to our willpower –FOOD!

This is probably the least popular of all crave killers but often a very effective one. Walk into the bathroom or a private area where there is a full-length mirror. Shed your clothing. Like what you see? If you’re like most people, there is probably at least one area of your body that you are unhappy with, but don’t be discouraged. Look at this as an opportunity and as further motivation.

Since you’re already undressed, there is another great way to sooth those tummy rumbles. Hop in the shower or bathtub. A warm shower or a relaxing bath with a healthy glass of red wine or tea can reduce stress-causing factors that lead to comfort food cravings. This is not only a great way to forget your troubles but also your cravings. Remember, there’s no food handy when you’re in the tub!

Turn your craving into a game. See if you can push yourself. When the urge hits, challenge it. If you find yourself becoming hungry each morning around eleven, dare yourself to last until lunch. If an hour seems too long to wait, see if you can push yourself a little each day. Try going until ten after on the first day, a couple days later push it to twenty after, and so on, until you make it to lunchtime without a snack. Following the same logic, you could decrease the size of the snack each day until you find you no longer need it.

Don’t you hate when you’re watching television or a movie and suddenly the actors are singing a song or reciting a lengthy monologue that has nothing to do with the plot? It’s called filler, and while we may not like it, the same ploy that works for idea-obstructed screenwriters, can work to defeat our cravings. Keep healthy but filling snacks like carrot sticks, low-fat pretzels, light popcorn, and dried fruit around. Need something warm? Drink tea, even hot chocolate (dark chocolate will be higher in antioxidants) without all the whipped cream and marshmallows. Lightly buttered toast and water may also help you feel full until mealtime.

Challenge yourself to defeat cravings, but don’t overdo it. Everybody deserves an occasional treat. Just keep the rewards moderate and reasonable. When it comes down to it, there are many hurdles to healthy eating but very few can trip you up when they are consumed in small doses.

This article is for informational purposes only. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is at the reader’s discretion.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Had a Rough Day? Here are 10 Ways to Lift Your Spirits

With winter heavy upon us, it can be important both to your mental and physical health to know of ways in which to occasionally pick yourself up from the doldrums of life. Sometimes after a particularly rough day, or when you’re just feeling a bit blah, you need something to get your battery jump-started. When it comes to turning a frown upside down nearly everyone is different. There are a few tried and true techniques however, that will help make a crummy day into something more bearable – maybe even enjoyable, while lifting your sprits.

Flip on a flick – Make some popcorn, turn off the lights, grab a blanket and pillow, and settle in for some quality tube time. A favorite movie or television show can whisk you away to another time or place and break those stressful constraints of reality.

Take a soak – Sure, a warm bath is the old standby, but it works, otherwise it wouldn’t be an old standby. Draw a toasty bubble bath, light a few candles, pour a choice drink, then slide in and let the water do the rest.

Snooze – A good nap can work wonders when it comes to relieving stress and lifting your spirits. Taking a ride to dreamland can sooth your worried mind, and when you wake up from your trip to the land of nod, your troubles should feel far away.

Walk it off – Sometimes just getting outside for some fresh air and taking a leisurely walk can help clear your mind, body, and soul. Nature and the outdoors have a funny way of lifting your spirits and if you let them, and they can act as wonderful (not to mention cheap) therapists.

Reach out and touch someone – Getting in touch with a good friend, whether you do it in person, by way of phone, or through email or other tech based source of communication, can be a wonderful boost to your low spirits and possibly theirs as well.

Hug it out – Sometimes all it takes is a little love to lift your spirits. A hug from a person you care about can do the trick and take you from down in the dumps to floating on top of the clouds.

Go out – Getting out of the house or spending some time away can take your mind off your troubles. Go out for a drink, have dinner, watch a movie, or whatever, just as long as it gets you out of the house and occupies your attention for an hour or so.

Read a book – Put on a little soft music, relax in your favorite chair, and drift off into the world of the written word. A good book can take you miles away from the problems of everyday life and can often do more to lift your spirits than an expensive night out on the town or a deep tissue massage ever could.

Donate to a charity – Donating to a charity can be a wonderful way to rediscover just how fortunate you really are. Helping those in need can lift your spirits and work wonders for your ego.

A trip down memory lane – Sitting down with scrapbooks, photo albums, family movies, etc. can bring the feelings of joy and good times rushing back. Taking a trip down memory lane is a fantastic way to lift your spirits and lose yourself in the nostalgia of days gone by.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Change of Address: A Checklist

It can seem as if there are a million things to do when you are getting ready to move. Just packing can seem like an overwhelming task, plus there is often a new job that comes along with moving, a new area to learn and explore, a new phone number, a new address, a new home or apartment, etc. etc. As if all this were not enough, there is a whole list of little projects that need to be taken care of. And while some of them might seem like minor inconveniences, if you don’t take care of them sooner than later, they can cause you some big trouble down the road. Here are some of the more important items that you don’t want to forget when you change your address.

Forwarding your mail – It is fortunate for many of us that the United States Postal Service is prepared for our change of address, even if we aren’t. By filling out one of their change of address forms, you can have the majority of your mail forwarded to you at your new address for up to one year. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t make an effort to ensure all your important mailings have received your change of address, because it will take some time for the forwarded mail to get to you (and in some cases it might not make it there at all). Forwarding can be handy for those mailings that you have temporarily forgotten to remind of your change of address.

Notify employer – Notifying an employer of your change of address can ensure that you get any last paychecks, payouts for unused vacation time, severance payments, and that all important W-2 form.

Notify bank/mortgage company – In this day and age when people are upside down on mortgages, late with payments, and in general distaste of the banking system, notifying the bank of your whereabouts might not be a big hit among the masses. Still, if you plan to continue living on the straight road to good credit and maintaining some semblance of financial responsibility, then you should notify your bank regarding a change of address.

If renting, notify apartment manager – If you plan to get your security deposit on your apartment back (assuming you’ve done no serious damage to the place), it is a good idea to notify your apartment manager of your change of address.

Notify magazines – Maybe the least important item on this list, but you still don’t want someone else ending up with your copies of Playboy or Basket Weaving Weekly.

Notify utilities/credit cards – While you might want to avoid those ever-present annoyances call bills, by not giving up your new address, you won’t be helping your credit score. You never know, you might end up getting a credit or two in the mail from utilities that were paid in advance and of which you did not use for the entire billing period.

Notify doctors/health insurance provider – Depending on how often you make use of your health providers, this may or may not be an important group to notify of a change of address. If you have recently been to a doctor, dentist, specialist, etc. there might be important information (or more likely bills) that they will need to get to you.

Notify the Selective Service – For males, until January 1 of the year you turn 26, you must notify the Selective Service within ten days of a change of address.

Car information – Make sure to update your driver’s license, registration, insurance, and other necessary driver’s information with your new address soon after moving.

Notify friends/family – This one might be up in the air depending on who your friends and family are and how much you really want them to know where you are. Sometimes a little break can be nice!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Twelve Good Items To Have In Your Car

People keep all kinds of strange stuff in their cars. Some even seem to use them as mobile storage units. Clothing, sports equipment, tools, and a litany of other odd items can keep your car’s extra space so packed that there might not seem like there’s any room for more. But some things you shouldn’t be without when you travel, and in an emergency you’ll be kicking yourself if you don’t have them. Here are twelve items to carry in your car that can really save the day in a sticky situation.

Road atlas/maps - You never know when you might need some good directions or the GPS might go on the fritz. Having some trusty roads maps at hand could save the day.

Spare tire/jack – A spare tire without a jack or vice versa, isn’t going to do you much good, and a flat tire with neither in your car will really leave you in a bad spot.

Tools/tire pressure gauge – A tool set and a tire pressure gauge can really come in handy for all sorts of situations you might encounter while on the road.

Blanket – A blanket is another good item to have in your car. If you break down or have to spend several hours in your car when it is cold, having a blanket can help keep you warm. It’s also nice if you decide to have a picnic while traveling or decide to sit on the ground at a park or concert you have driven to.

Shovel/snow shovel – A small collapsible shovel, and/or a small snow shovel can be good items to have in your car if you become stuck in the snow or mud.

Jumper cables – This item is probably one of the most important items you can carry in your car. If you happen to leave your headlights on, an interior light on, or your car door doesn’t shut tight, you can run your battery down and find yourself stranded. With jumper cables on hand though, you can at least try to get your battery jumped with the aid of a friendly fellow motorist.

Gloves – Having gloves in your car can come in handy for not only battling the cold but also for keeping your hands clean and safe if you need to make repairs or change a tire. An old pair you aren’t worried about damaging can make a great set to leave inside your car.

Flashlight – Having your car break down can be bad enough, but being stranded in the dark can be even worse. Having a working flashlight can also come in handy for flagging down other drivers for assistance and help you to see while making repairs during day or night.

First aid kit – You hope you’ll never have to use it, but if you do, you’ll certainly be thankful you have a first aid kit. This is one of those items that you can put in your car and pretty much forget about, but it’s always in the back of your mind, providing a little bit of comfort... just in case.

Poncho/umbrella – A good poncho or umbrella in the car can be useful whether you’re changing a tire or just running across the parking lot to your car in the rain.

Spare change/money – A little stashed cash in your car can also be a good idea. Some spare change for tolls and a couple bucks for gas, food, or whatever if you forget your credit can help get you out of a bind.

Ice Melt/sand – These items can be a real lifesaver if or when you get stuck in snowy or icy conditions. If nothing else, they can add a little weight to your vehicle, which might help to reduce slipping and sliding due to loss of traction.