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Your Daily Dose of Laughter

“Laughter is the best medicine.” You’ve probably heard that saying, heard it so many times that you don’t pay much attention to it anymore. But you should pay attention! Recent research has proved that laughter really can have a direct effect on your health and wellbeing. Researchers found that “experiencing joyful laughter reduces stress hormones, lowers blood pressure, and elevates a person’s mood.”

In this study, researchers separated participants into two groups. One group watched funny videos prior to a memory test while the other group did not. The funny-video group went on to perform better on short-term memory tests, a finding that added to the already sizable amount of research that links laughter to health benefits.

“When there is mirthful laughter,” said Lee Berk, the head of the study, “it’s as if the brain gets a workout because the gamma wave band is in sync with multiple other areas of the brain that are in the same 30-40 hertz frequency. This allows for thinking more clearly and having more integrative thoughts.” If we think of laughter as exercise, as Berk suggests, its ability to reduce stress becomes even more apparent. In fact, laughter has even been linked to heart health. So, what makes you laugh? Who makes you laugh? We all need to laugh more. Go out and find what makes you giggle today!


Are You Getting Enough Sleep? Quick Quiz.

Let’s take a little quiz about sleep today. Do you (mark all that apply):

• Wake up tired in the morning?

• Need a nap in the afternoon?

• Fall asleep watching TV?

• Have frequent small accidents at home, or large ones on the road?

• Have trouble focusing on the job?

• Find yourself sleepy after lunch?

• Have trouble figuring the correct change from a purchase?

• Feel irritable or depressed most of the time?

• Feel like you’re not getting anything done?

• Drink alcohol to get to sleep?

• Drink several cups of coffee or energy drinks to stay awake?

• Have difficulty falling asleep?

• Have difficulty staying asleep?

If you answered “yes” to more than three of these questions, you’re probably not getting the kind of sleep you need to support health. Sleep is one of the most overlooked aspects of health in our society today. I encourage you to make more time for it in your life. So, today, I want you to write down a sleep goal to achieve, alongside your other health goals.


Sleep! It's a Habit of Health

Sleep is nature’s nurse. When we ignore the importance of sleep in our health and lives, we can’t fully enjoy the benefits that regular, restful sleep provides. Even one night of inadequate sleep can ruin our mood, impair our judgment and sour our interactions with everyone else.

Sleeplessness can leave you feeling mentally blurry and irritable. Lack of sleep can also disturb appetite regulation, contributing to weight gain and ultimately, the problems associated with obesity. Sleeplessness has also been linked to heart disease, increased inflammation (which can lead to cancer), and a 50 percent increase in your risk of viral infection.

Have a hard time sleeping? Take a close look at your schedule. Could you go to bed earlier, or wake up later? Try to increase the time you devote to sleeping for a week, as an experiment. Giving up the late night TV show you usually watch could have big health benefits. When you go to bed, leave electronic devices by the bedside. Turn off the lights and the technology (except for an alarm clock) and talk to your health coach for more tips to get a good night’s sleep.

3 Ways to Master the Habits of Health

SupportCircleToday, we’re going to look at 3 ways to help you achieve your health goals and master the habits of health.

1. Study. Get excited about the new you that’s unfolding, and get busy learning! This includes using online resources, reading magazines, and exploring health resources such as this challenge.

2. Do It. Here’s where the rubber hits the road, folks. Knowledge only goes so far. To make lasting change, you actually have to eat those health foods, not just identify them, and actually give up that dinnertime cup of coffee that’s keeping you awake at night. Health is not a spectator sport. Get out there and do it!

3. Role Models. The people we hold up as role models can have a profound effect on our lives. Here’s a fun exercise: write down the names of your five closest friends. Now, put a plus (+) next to their name if they’re living a healthier lifestyle or a minus (-) if they’re living an unhealthy lifestyle. We become like those people we spend the most time with, so we have a choice to make. We can either choose to spend time with healthy people, or we can inspire those around us to live healthier lifestyles!


What do you want to do?

People do what people do.  What do you want to do? A good strategy is to find someone who’s doing (or has done) what you want to do and ask them for support.

An accountability partner (or partners) or a personal health coach can help support a person to break out of their routine and keep their dream(s), goals and plans in focus. We are all constantly challenged by the elements around us and it becomes tiring to continue to climb the mountain of success.  Mentors, coaches and trainers understand this and know where to go to help you dig deep within to bring out the courage to continue your journey to live the life you were intended to live.

Often, we think of a mentor, coach or trainer as a person who works face-to-face to teach or inspire an individual or team to win a championship. This is just one example of coaching support. Coaching can come in a variety of forms, including:

  • A personal or professional growth book, DVD or audio program

  • Interactive websites, podcasts, blogs or other virtual resources

  • Live training courses or workshops

  • A mentor or accountability partner

  • A mastermind group of individuals who challenge one another

  • A personal coach who works with you one-on-one

Positive self-talk

One of the most empowering habits that you can incorporate into your everyday life is to give yourself positive self-talk. Self-talk is what you say in your own mind about yourself and the world around you.  There is a constant chatter in your head telling you how you’re doing, who you should be, what you should do.  These messages may be helpful or may sabotage the very goal you are trying to reach.

You create your own reality by the things you say to yourself.  For example, if you constantly have been telling yourself that you will never lose weight, then chances are…you won’t!  Why? Because self-talk is mostly on the unconscious level, you may not know what you are programming into your brain until the actions prove it.

Write out a positive affirmation that will be powerful enough to knock out any craving, bad thought, or bad action.  How?  Well first, picture in your mind where you want to be 3 months from now…maybe riding a bike with your child, dressed in shorts and a tee, feeling great and full of energy!  The sun is shining and life is good!  Now write your affirmations…

  • Be specific and vivid in description.

  • See them happen.

  • Write them in positive language.

  • Write them daily for the remainder of the challenge

  • Say them anytime you are tempted

  • Think of them often!

Building Your Micro-Environment of Support

Whether it’s a friend, co-worker, family members, or a larger, more organized group, working with others can make all the difference. When two or more people share similar goals and values, people create synergy. So, along with encouraging each other, you’ll have someone to walk with, dine with, and build healthy habits with.

Friends, family, or informal group settings. Not only is sharing the Habits of Health with family and friends socially satisfying, it increases accountability and creates an entire environment of health. And wouldn’t you rather help change your friends’ habits than have to think about changing your friends?

Formal settings. Evidence suggests that group meetings can be a more effective way to lose weight than doing it on your own. Some medical facilities offer clinically based behavioral groups that spur weight loss and health maintenance by combining group dynamics with a professional counselor.

Commercial programs also offer opportunities to attend group meetings for support, discussion, and even assignments such as food diaries. However, studies show that the drop-out rate for these types of groups is high due to busy schedules and travel considerations. If you do choose a group and stay with it, though, you may well benefit from the extra accountability you’ll have through e-mail, phone, and face-to-face contact with others.

Online. Internet-based programs have advanced tremendously. Today’s sites are generally highly interactive, and the privacy and convenience they offer may make them more attractive than ongoing sessions with a counselor.

In fact, one leading researcher, Dr. Jean Harvey-Berino, has concluded that, contrary to her findings as recently as 2002, a Web site with dynamic, socially supportive, interactive features is just as effective as behavioral counseling.*


Evaluating Your Heart Rate

Your heart is the most important muscle in your body. As you increase your physical activity, your heart will be working a bit harder, just like your other muscles. That’s why monitoring your heart rate is so important.

If you have a heart rate monitor: Just strap it on and read the results! If you’re measuring your heart rate by hand: Sit down in a quiet space and measure your heart rate by counting your pulse for one minute (alternatively, count your pulse for ten seconds and multiply by six, though this measurement may be slightly less accurate). To take your pulse, place your index finger and third finger on your radial artery (located on the inside of the wrist below your thumb).

Three Important Heart Rate Measures

  1. Resting Heart Rate (RHR). The number of times your heart contracts per minute, measured when you’re at rest.

  2. Maximum Heart Rate (MHR). The highest number of times your heart can contract per minute during maximum physical exertion. MHR is most accurately determined with a cardiac stress test, but for our purposes we’ll use the following formula: MHR = 220 – your age

    For example, the MHR of someone fifty years old is 170 beats per minute (220–50).

  3. Target Heart Rate (THR). Between 50% and 85% of your maximum heart rate. As we increase your movement using non-planned exercise activities, we’ll check your THR to make sure we’re not raising your heart rate too quickly. Once you’re on pace and adding activity to your day, we’ll also use your target heart rate to maximize your cardiovascular fitness level.

How many calories are you burning?

Your Total Energy Expenditure (TEE) is determined by adding three figures: 1) Your basal metabolic rate (BMR), 2) Your physical activity level (PAL), and 3) The thermic effect of the food you eat (TEF)

Together, these show us how quickly your body is burning the fuel you’re taking in, day in and day out. Let’s begin by looking separately at those three components.

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the energy you use for your basic bodily needs. Even when your body’s at rest, it’s using fuel to breathe, grow, circulate your blood, adjust your hormone levels, repair cells, and perform other functions. Typically, BMR is the largest portion of the TEE energy equation. Because the energy required by these basic functions remains fairly consistent, this number doesn’t tend to change much.

Physical Activity Level (PAL) is the energy you use when you move—playing tennis, walking to the store, chasing after the dog. You have control of this number, and can change it quite a bit depending on the frequency, duration, and intensity of your activities.

Thermic Effect of Food (TEF) is the energy your body uses to process your food. Digesting, absorbing, transporting, and storing food all take energy— about 10 percent of the calories you use each day. For the most part, this number stays steady.

BMR is the largest energy user, accounting for 60–75 percent of your daily expenditure. PAL ranges from 25–30 percent, and TEF takes up 10–15 percent. To find out your TEE using the easy method, use the following formula: Your current weight (in pounds) × 11 calories = TEE (daily caloric need)

This formula is based on a sedentary individual, so you’ll need to adjust it as you step up your exercising, as follows:

Multiply your TEE by:

  • 1.2 (for light exercise daily)

  • 1.5 (for moderate exercise daily)

  • 1.7 (for heavy exercise daily)

For example: 162 lbs × 11 kcal/lb = 1,782 kcal × 1.2 = 2,138 kcal/day (TEE)


Not-Sick Does Not Equal Health

If you are not sick, you are healthy, right? That’s often we assume. But in reality, these two states—non-sick and healthy—are vastly different.

Health is a state that requires active maintenance. It is not something you achieve and get to keep forever without additional work, even if you are at a healthy weight and not currently faced with any health challenges. When you treat health as a destination, you are in danger of yo-yoing. You put in the effort to reach your goal, but then you drift back into an unhealthy state because you are not continuing your healthy lifestyle indefinitely.

Non-sickness is caused by eating an excess quantity of nutritionally barren food, which overworks the pancreas and facilitates your body’s storage of fat. Non-sickness is a state in which your muscles become weak and flabby, a state of not enough sleep and way too much stress. It’s a state that leads you to progressively depend on medications to relieve your symptoms—symptoms that are merely your body’s way of telling you that you are not healthy.

Your goal should not be to achieve non-sickness but to achieve vibrant, thriving, optimal health. There is a difference.