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Zen Habits have just published a great new post. It’s called 17 Arse-kicking Strategies to Stick to Your Diet and Get Fit.

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Post written by Leo Babauta. Follow me on Twitter.

I’m not a big fan of “dieting” — a word that conjures up images of hunger and chewing on celery or doing some kind of fad diet — but I do believe in trying to eat a healthier diet.

Don’t diet, but do stick to a healthy diet, in other words.

But that’s easier said than done, as we all know. The healthy diet goes out the window around the holidays, for example, or when there’s a family party or a function at work full of unhealthy food, or when we go out to eat with friends, or when we go to a ballgame or amusement park or the beach, or when … well, you get the idea. There are lots of ways to get off a diet.

And there are just as many ways to stick to your healthy diet.

I’m not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, and I often will give in to temptations. But I’ve gotten better over time, partially because practice makes perfect and partly because I’ve learned a lot of great tips, from my fellow bloggers and from you, my favorite readers in the world.

So today we’re going to look at a few of the tips and tricks that I’ve found useful in sticking with a healthy diet.

1. Know your motivation. I have a friend, Jerry, who is getting healthy so that he’ll be alive and well to see his 3-year-old son grow up. When he gets tempted by evil junk food, he asks himself whether he’d rather eat the sweets or see his son grow up. When you have a powerful motivation like this, and remember what choice you’re making whenever you face temptation, it’s easier to be strong when you’d otherwise cave in.

2. Take it in gradual steps
. You don’t have to overhaul your diet overnight. I highly recommend changing your diet in small steps — just drink water instead of soda, for example, or eat fruit instead of candy or chips. Once you adjust to this small change, make another a week or two later, and so on until you’re eating much healthier a few months later. This small and gradual process makes it much easier to stick with a healthy diet.

3. Don’t be drastic. I’ve seen fad diets like the Cookie Diet, Atkins, the Banana Diet, and different cleansing fasts — and I don’t recommend a single one of them. They’re drastic, and very few people can last with them for a long time. And the fact is, while you might lose a lot of weight with a drastic diet in a short amount of time, as soon as you get off the diet and go back to eating unhealthily, you’ll gain the wait back. Don’t do anything drastic — make long-lasting changes.

4. Choose foods you love. This is incredibly important. If you hate eating salads, don’t make salads a key to your new diet. I happen to love salads, but everyone has different tastes. Don’t eat foods just because they’re good for you — eat them because they’re healthy AND you love them. For me, that means berries and almonds and oatmeal and salads and yogurt and cottage cheese and tofu, but for others it might be salmon and lean grass-fed beef and asparagus and walnuts. Find the foods you love that are healthy, and you’ll stick with the diet much longer.

5. Pack food. Always bring healthy food with you, wherever you go. Sometimes this just means packing snacks if you’re going on a few errands (I like almonds and fruit), other times you might want to pack more substantial meals and pack them with ice to keep them fresh. Packing your lunch to work is a great idea, along with a bunch of snacks to keep you satisfied all day without eating the donuts someone brought in.

6. Eat before you go. If you’re going out to a restaurant or party, eat a small healthy meal first. That way you won’t be starving and won’t need to eat a huge amount of unhealthy food. You can get by on a salad or some fish and steamed veggies or an appetizer or something like that, and still enjoy the company of your friends and loved ones.

7. Don’t get hungry. When you allow yourself to starve, you will often binge, because your blood-sugar levels are so low that you crave instant sugar (or refined flour). When you’re starving, you are more likely to indulge in donuts or cake. So eat snacks throughout the day, or small meals, so that you never get super hungry.

8. Choose healthy when you eat out. If you go to a restaurant or party, look for the healthy choices. I love a good salad bar, but you could also choose a lean cut of meat, grilled not fried, with steamed veggies, or some black bean or lentil soup, or something like that.

9. Indulge in little bits. I don’t believe in going extreme and not allowing myself to eat treats such as … mmm, chocolate cake. But the key is to eat healthy most of the time, and when you do indulge in a treat, do it in small amounts. Two or three bites of cake or ice cream, for example, won’t kill your diet but will satisfy your sweet craving. Eating a whole tub of ice cream? Not recommended.

10. Eat small portions when you go out. If you go to a party with lots of food, try for small portions. Just eat until you’re slightly full, then have some water and talk with people without eating for awhile, then when you get hungry have another small portion, and so on. Try for the amount of food that will fit in your hand. If you space out several small portions over the course of a couple hours, you’ll feel satisfied but never take in too much.

11. Have tasty substitutes for your weaknesses. When I feel like eating something sweet, I’ll often have berries or fruit. My sister Kat likes to mix berries with almond butter, chocolate protein powder, and water — a weird but satisfying treat. Whatever your weaknesses, find a substitute that will satisfy your cravings when they inevitably come up.

12. Clear your home of unhealthy snacks and foods. If you have junk food in your home, you’re more likely to give in at some point and eat it. But if you clear your home of these foods, you won’t have that temptation. Clear your fridge and cabinets of candy, baked sweets, fried foods, foods made with refined flour, fatty and greasy things like chips and fries, and so on.

13. Bring your own healthy food to a party. If it’s allowed, bring a dish to a party you’re planning on attending, and make it a healthy one. I like to bring a couple of my favorites: Leo’s chili, and my Best Soup Ever.

14. Fill yourself up with water, fruits, veggies, and lean protein at a party
. Lots of parties will have at least a couple of healthy options — some fruits or veggies, maybe some lean protein that’s not fried. I will fill myself up on these, even if they’re not entirely a meal, and then eat a healthy meal later.

15. Don’t stuff yourself. Make this your ultimate rule. Even if you break down and get fatty, fried food at a restaurant or party, just don’t eat until you’re stuffed. Try the Okinawan rule of eating until you’re 80% full. This way you can eat the unhealthy stuff and still limit the damage.

16. Don’t starve yourself. This might sound like the “don’t get hungry” tip above, but it’s bigger than that — don’t eat so little that you’re starving. For most women, that means don’t go below 1,200 calories a day — for men, it’s 1,500. But even those are too low for many of us. You only want to cut a moderate amount of calories from your diet — if you starve yourself, you’ll lose muscle, you’ll get unhealthy and you’ll end up falling off the diet eventually.

17. If you indulge, burn it off. Sometimes all of the strategies above will fail. That’s OK. Don’t beat yourself up about it — just get back on the wagon, back on track. Look at it as a small bump in the road. And better yet, get outside and burn off the calories by running, walking briskly, playing sports, whatever it takes. Then start eating healthy again.

What are your favorite strategies for sticking with a healthy diet? Share in the comments!


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Pick The Brain have just published a great new post. It’s called Empower Other People To Help You Achieve What You Want.

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Image courtesy of *sweetcaroline

You can only get what you want, if you help enough other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar

One way to help other people is to empower them because by empowering them you could literally change their lives for the better.

Empower means “to give somebody power or authority” and also “to give somebody a sense of confidence or self-esteem”.

People always feel motivated and inspired when they feel empowered. And when they feel motivated and inspired by you, they’d be more than happy to help you achieve whatever you want.

Once you’ve mastered this ability to get people to help you voluntarily, it will make you a more powerful, effective and successful person.

I have listed some of the methods which you can adopt to empower other people.

1. Show More Appreciation

To empower someone, you have to make the person feel good about himself/herself. And the simplest way to achieve that is to express your appreciation for everything that person does for you, large or small.

Every one of us has a deep desire to feel appreciated and a sense of self-worth. If you could satisfy this craving of any individual, he/she would go to great lengths for you.

The most direct and also the simplest way to show your appreciation is simply to say – sincerely and honestly – “Thank you.”

So often in life, we have taken things for granted – especially towards those who are close to us – that we fail to say those two simple little, yet powerful words for the things that they have done for us. Instead, we often complain about the things they’ve not done for us.

It is time for us to start looking more deeply into the good of other people and tell them, “Thank you. I really appreciate that.”

By doing so, you’ll be helping yourself garner the greatest support from people to help you get to where you want.

2. Show Your Genuine Interest in Other People

Why do you think most people love dogs? Simple. Because dogs are born to be genuinely interested in people.

They’re always happy to be around you. They’d wag their tails, lick you, and jump around you to show you just how excited they are to have you here.

This showing of genuine interest in people is something we have to seriously learn from dogs. Yes, you heard me right. Learn this from dogs.

Everybody loves some attention, even though they may not seek attention openly or publicly. This is because attention shows us that somebody actually care about us. It shows us that our existence is not being ignored and neglected. It proves that we’re worth being taken notice of.

A genuine show of interest can do wonders in nourishing a person’s sense of self-worth. So, if you want to empower other people and help yourself at the same time, show your genuine interest in other people.

3. Show The Other Person He or She is Important

To blossom a person’s sense of self-worth to the ultimate, we have to always seek to make the other person feel important.

Sincere appreciation and recognition are the keys to making someone feel important. Take note that the keyword here is sincere because nobody wants to listen to cheap and insincere flattery. Insincerity will only backfire.

The first step to making a person feel important is to STOP TAKING HIM OR HER FOR GRANTED. And show deep appreciation.

If you want to make your team members feel important, you can try something like this:

“Ally, thank you for the great job done. Without your help, the project wouldn’t have been such a great success. You’ve proved to be a very important and worthy team player. And I hope you’d continue to offer this great support to help us move forward together.”

Or if you want to make your kids feel important, try this:

“John, thank you for being such a wonderful son. You’ve been the best gift to mum and dad. We’ve always been very grateful to having you in the family. We couldn’t have asked for anything better.”

And remember, when showing appreciation; always start with a simple “Thank you.”

4. Show Respect

Ego is a fundamental element of the human nature that, which if upset, can cause a major emotional upheaval.

Ego, in other words, means your self-concept. It is made up of two components, namely your self-esteem and your self-image.

Human beings will always strive to raise their level of self-esteem and self-image, or seek to protect them from being impaired by other people and circumstances.

Whenever you need to point out somebody’s fault, remember to show respect to his/her pride by doing it in a discreet manner so that he/she will not feel embarrassed.

By allowing their ego to remain intact, you’re in essence giving them a chance to remain empowered. One rule you need to adhere to in order to empower someone is to first not do anything to dis-empower him/her.

If you find someone that you could look up to, you can always go up to the person to tell him/her how much you respect what he/she has achieved or handled a dire situation or overcome an adversity.

Nevertheless, do remember the key to empowering a person is to be sincere and honest with your words and actions.

5. Give Encouragement Instead of Criticism

Now this is a common one. Whenever your kid, your spouse, or your employee makes a blunder or slip up in their responsibilities, how would you react?

You’d probably fly into a rage and make all sorts of crude remarks. No? Ok, maybe you’re more refined and well mannered that all you’d do is reproach them for committing the mistakes.

However, in spite of the placidness of the criticism, it is still not an empowering approach.

Perhaps you could try an approach like this one:

“Honestly Lesha, I’m disappointed that we didn’t manage to clinch the deal this time round. However, I do believe you’re a bright young lady, and I’m very confident that you have what it takes to clinch us the next deal. You would do whatever it takes to secure it for us, right? Correct me if I’m wrong.”

Now, that wouldn’t sound harsh, would it?

Every one of us has the magic power of empowering other people simply by generously giving praise and showing encouragement to help them realise their underlying potential.

“Abilities wither under criticism; they blossom under encouragement.” – Dale Carnegie

Now that you’ve learnt how to empower other people, so when and where should you apply each one of them? The answer is: all the time, everywhere.

Have you got any other suggestions on how we can empower other people? Please share them in the comments section below.

Mark Foo is a Personal Development Blogger @ TheBigDreamer.com  where he writes about success, personal finance, wealth creation and entrepreneurship to help people become better, wiser and richer.

In his movie debut, Ambition to Meaning, Wayne Dyer explores the spiritual journey in the second half of life when we long to shift from ambition to meaning and find the purpose that is our unique contribution to the world.

“I’ m more proud of this film than of anything I’ve ever done before.” – Wayne Dyer

Visit AmbitionToMeaning.com to watch the trailer and music videos or to order the DVD.

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Pick The Brain have just published a great new post. It’s called Decision Making For The 21st Century.

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Traditional decision making processes and models are falling behind the fast pace of this new century, both for individuals and organizations.  Many of us are aware of this situation, but are feeling lost without a new approach to make good reliable decisions fast. In this article I will introduce you to a new approach to decision making; all you need is an open mind and a little practice.

A History of Decision Making

Before we go further, let’s review how you or your parents / grandparents made decisions.  This is admittedly a big blanket statement, but I think you will get the idea:

19th century: You typically didn’t make decisions yourself.  Someone else who was more educated and/or had more authority, such as political or religious leaders, made the decisions and you just followed.  Individual thinking and decision making were discouraged for the cause of the groups.

20th century: Mass education made it possible for many of us to think for ourselves and make decisions.  While there were many decision making techniques, most were based on logic taught at schools and other educational organizations.

21st century: We start noticing the problems of traditional reasoning methods and decision making techniques based on such logic.

There are two major methods of reasoning: induction and deduction.  Induction involves gathering data to come up with the conclusion, or really just the possibility of the conclusion.  While no amount of data is enough to ensure the conclusion, we typically spend time gathering lots of data when we try to use inductive reasoning.  So it takes time.  In this fast paced world, it’s quite likely that the situation has changed already by the time we make decision based on induction.

Deduction doesn’t rely of gathered premises but it relies on logical premises.  In short, it assumes certain premises to be true in order for it to work.  But the advance of science is now questioning even basic ideas such as linear time.

Intuitive Decision Making – The New Possibility

Is there a better faster way?  I think so, and it’s based on intuition.  In intuitive decision making, you receive intuition and verify it by logic and data.  You are still using your thinking mind and hard facts, but they are secondary and work as backup system.

It can be really fast to receive intuition.  The topic of developing intuition is huge and outside the scope of this article, but I can say that we all have intuitive ability, the potential to use intuition.  Some of you are already using intuition, consciously or unconsciously.

I don’t think the challenge here is if it is possible to utilize intuition in our decision making. The challenge is if we can be open to its possibility.  When I was interviewed by Davina Haisell about intuition, there was a comment that said, “Intuition…sometimes I doubt it. Why? Because, almost without fail – it is right… I guess that’s a hard thing for me to get over, being able to fully trust my intuition.”

I respect the honesty of this commenter.  I know it is scary to trust intuition.  Our educational system discourages anything that can’t be “proved”.

Learning To Trust Our Intuition

I think the process of learning to make intuitive decisions is analogous to the aforementioned history of decision making.

Early childhood: You didn’t make many decisions.  Someone else with authority made them for you, and you were expected to follow.

School age and adulthood, until you realize the problem of logical decision making: You make decisions based on the logical decision making techniques that were approved by schools and most of societal organizations.  We may had clear intuitive sense as a child, but most of us stop using it as we get conditioned in the educational system.  Change can happen when you realize the limitation of logical decision making.

Intuitive decision making is self-empowering: Look back the time you had to make critical decisions in your life, such as deciding on which job offer to take.  Did you have a silent knowing that one option is more desirable even though it didn’t seem so on the logical level?  Did you go for your gut feeling or did you ignore it?  And what was the consequence?

Making decision intuitively empowers you.  When you make decisions based on logic alone, you rely on someone else’s theories, processes, and models.  It is you who is making the decision in the doing, but you are always subject to other authorities.  So you may keep wondering if you made the right decision, or worry if you had enough data, enough knowledge and skills, enough education, to make the decision.  Not so in intuitive decision making.  In intuition, you just know, and you are your own authority.

How do you feel about intuitive decision making?  If you have any questions, please write in the comment.

About the writer: Akemi Gaines is the Akashic Record Reading specialist who shares both practical and metaphysical tips on her blog, Yes to Me  – Spiritual Healing and Growth for Greater Success.  You can subscribe to her blog here.

Originally posted at PickTheBrain a weblog dedicated to self improvement and motivation.

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