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Why Healthy Habits Fail (And How Yours Can Succeed) by Paige Johnson

By now, many people have either forgotten about their New Year’s resolutions or just given up on them. Pledging to be more healthy this year is a great idea, especially if it’s what you really want. Then why is it so hard to get on a healthy kick? More importantly, what can you do to get healthy habits that can last a lifetime?

Image Source:  Pixabay

Image Source:  Pixabay

Why Habits Fail

The problem is that many people expect to make a huge change in their lives without much effort. If you’ve ever heard someone say, “Yeah, I’ll just hit the gym a few times a week this year,” then you know what that sounds like. Here are a few reasons why such a change is hard to do.

Too much focus on a goal: Sometimes, being healthy is so enticing that you forget to plan how to get there. If you’re thinking about losing 25 pounds to look awesome in that wedding dress, that’s a great motivator — but it’s not a plan. It’s a goal. You still need to change your unhealthy habits or you’ll never get there.

Going too far at the start: Often, people go too far and try to change everything at once. You might think that you need to make an extreme change, and that could be true. But any plan that includes dropping all snacks and desserts when you’ve been enjoying both every day for years is doomed to fail. Your mind isn’t ready for such a drastic change.

Tricks To Getting Healthy Habits

Don’t worry, just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s impossible. You just need to focus on three tricks to help get those healthy habits to stick around.

Start with small, concrete changes to your daily routine: Don’t worry about the goal yet. That will happen if you follow the right steps to get there. Instead, create a list of concrete, actionable tasks. Don’t bother with vague plans like, “I’ll eat fewer calories,” because what does that mean in your day-to-day life? What changes are you able to make that leads to fewer calories?

If you can mentally mark off a checkbox with it, then it’s more likely to become a habit over time. “I will stop ordering that 600-calorie frappuccino and get a plain, unsweetened cup of coffee instead” is something you can clearly see and do. (Or not do, as the case might be.)

Focus on your most unhealthy habit: Have you ever tried carrying in every bag from a huge grocery store trip? Even if you manage to not drop stuff, it's probably not good for your back or hands. That’s why you need to stop trying to change all your unhealthy habits — it’s just too much to do at once. Instead, pick your worst habit and change it.

If your goal is to be happier, don’t try cutting out everything that makes you sad. Find the one thing that really gets in the way of happiness and change that. Wait until the change sticks, then move on to something else.

Spend more time with people who already have healthy habits: Doing something occasionally is not a habit. You need to do it repeatedly over time or it’s not a habit. But that gets hard to do when the people around you are doing the exact opposite.

If drinking too much beer is the unhealthy habit you want to change, hitting the bar with your drinking buddies is a bad idea. You don’t need to stop being friends with people, but at least until the habit is established, spend more time with those who already have those healthy habits. Let peer pressure actually work for you.

Remember that you already have unhealthy habits. You’re not starting with a blank slate. That’s why getting healthy habits is tough. By staying focused on actionable changes, targeting your worst habit first, and surrounding yourself with supportive people, you can make those New Year resolutions turn into lifelong, healthy habits.

Paige Johnson calls herself a fitness nerd. She prides in doing strength training, cycling, and yoga. She is a personal trainer and regular contributor to LearnFit.org.

How to Turn Up the Heat!!!

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Are you and your partner stuck in a sexual rut?  Are you getting bored with your mundane sex life?  Have you been together so long that you feel like you’ve run out of new and exciting things to try?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, let me take just a few minutes of your time to tell you about some of the many ways you can heat up your bedroom during these cold winter nights!  

  • Start with Foreplay:  This means instead of just getting straight to business, build up the excitement and anticipation.  This can be done in ways such as kissing, exploring each other’s bodies using your hands and mouth, and stimulating each other’s genitals manually and orally.  For those of you who may need a little help in the “how to do foreplay” department, you can start your foreplay by using a pair of sex dice.  With this type of game you each take turns rolling a pair of die and it instructs you what to do (suck, lick, kiss, blow, etc.) and what body part to do it on.  

  • Initiating Sex:  It can get pretty boring, and possibly even frustrating, if one partner is the one who is always responsible for asking for sex.  Switch it up!  Both partners should be responsible for keeping your sex life alive.  

  • Be Spontaneous:  When was the last time you and your partner were out in public when you got the urge for a quickie in the bathroom stall?  Or even right in the middle of the kitchen?  I’m not talking about all the time—or else it wouldn’t be spontaneous, right?!  However, every once in a while, amongst your busy schedules, being spontaneous sexually can heighten your, and your partner’s, interest in sex.  It can also increase the intensity of orgasm.  

  • Introduce Toys:  There are so many sex toys out there now that your possibilities are seemingly endless!  Shop together and pick out the toys you think will be best for the both of you.  There are solo toys specifically for men and women that can be used during masturbation, while being watched by your partner, or even handed over to your partner to use on you.  These types of toys include male masturbators (aka strokers) or vibrators and dildos.  There are also a lot of toys the couple can use together, such as vibrating penis rings, “U” shaped vibrators, and penis sleeves.  

  • Explore Each Other’s Fantasies:  There’s not much out there that can connect you and your partner more than knowing each other’s deepest and darkest sexual secrets.  By talking and acting out each other’s fantasies you will learn more about your partner than you ever thought possible.  This will allow you to please your partner based on their desires and directions, and it will help you find new ways to turn your partner on the next time you want to initiate intimacy.  

  • Maintain Eye Contact:  By this I don’t mean have a staring contest!  I just mean lock eyes from time to time, especially during orgasm.  This may be awkward for some because most people are used to closing their eyes during the big release.  However, if you look into each other’s eyes during these moments, you are allowing your partner to connect with you and see just how much pleasure they can make you feel (and who doesn’t want that boost to their ego!).  Don’t worry either, no matter how silly you may think your “O” face is, that’s probably the furthest thing from their minds!

Remember, these are just a few ways you can crank up the heat in your sex life; there are a lot more out there.  Some of these suggestions may not be for everyone, but as long as you go into any sexual experience with an open mind and trust in your partner, you’ll never know what you may discover together!  

 

 

It’s Storytime!

One of my favorite pastimes is reading.  When I was a young girl, I would check out the maximum allowed books at a time and then return for more before the given due date.  Then as a new mom, I discovered my passion for reading to my kids.  This type of reading is very different from reading alone.  It’s more interactive and can be very entertaining.  I found that reading was a great way to connect and bond with my children, and at the same time, it provided my girls with the foundation for learning and building creativity.

There are many benefits to reading, for both kids and adults.  Reading can help us overcome stress, protect us from memory decline, increase empathy, and improve comprehension and language skills. Some studies have shown that keeping our minds active by engaging in a stimulating activity, such as reading, can prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease.  Therefore, it’s important to instill a love for reading at an early age so that we can reap the benefits for years to come.   And it’s fun!     

Here are some tips to make reading enjoyable for you and your kids.

  • Start reading to your kids at an early age.  Young children won’t have a long attention span, but short picture books will suffice.  As they get older, reading time can increase.    

  • Provide a positive home reading environment.  Express a good attitude towards reading.  Let them know how much you find it to be rewarding.  Expand their horizon and vocabulary by supplying your child with various types of books.        

  • Make it a routine.  Bedtime is a favorite!  It’s a great way to decompress after a long day and spend quality time together.  These are memories you and your child will treasure for a lifetime.  

  • Be curious.  Get kids thinking by asking what they suppose will happen in the next page or two.  Will the mouse get the cookie?  What do you think he’ll want next?  The more interested you seem, the more intrigued they become.

  • Use funny voices.  Use a variety of voices for different characters.  I personally loved Charlie and Lola by English writer, Lauren Child, since it gave me a chance to perfect my British accent!  And in a kid’s voice at that!  

  • Point and sound out words.  Recent research shows preference for sounding out words like C-A-T, rather than memorizing the whole word.  Pointing helps children learn the process of reading from left to right and top to bottom.  Reading aloud and pointing is a great tool in guiding kids to make the connection between letters, words, and meaning.

As the weather cools, snuggle up and read a good book with your kids.  Or if you feel the need to get out and interact with others, story time at a local bookstore is a great way to meet other parents and children of similar age. Kids grow up way too fast, and they’ll be reading on their own before you know it.  So take the opportunity while you can!  You’re building memories with your kids and making a difference in their overall well-being and health.         

 

Coping Skills With Our 5 Senses

Coping Skills are those strategies that we use to deal and process life stressors, conflict and emotions. Coping skills can range from positive and healthy to negative and unhealthy, all depending on how they are used. Do your current coping skills help you overcome and manage stress and emotional turmoil? Or do they hide issues and emotions that are usually not worked through? Using healthy coping strategies on a regular basis will help provide balance in your overall mental health and provide support when life gets harder. If you already use coping skills on a regular basis, congratulations, keep adding and refreshing more skills to your coping spectrum!

Being in the mental health profession, I have been able to observe coping skills that have been effective for many of my clients. Provided below are some of these coping skills that I have either utilized myself or seen to be helpful for others. Read the ideas below and explore what unique combination of coping skills could help you today!
 
Physical
• Chew a piece of ice or eat some ice cream or drink cold water
• Breathe! Take 5 deep breaths: think about releasing tension and negative thoughts each time you exhale.
• Move Around: stretch, take a walk, exercise
• Take a shower, feel the warmth and imagine your anxiety washing away
• Hug a friend or a family member

Visual
• Watch your favorite movie or comedy show
• Allow yourself to daydream for 10 minutes
• Look at pretty things: flowers, art, or study the sky
• Paint, draw or doodle
• Look through old pictures
 
Olfactory
• Peel an orange or lemon and notice the smell of the oils
• Place a fragrance that is pleasant for you on your wrist: lavender, peppermint of favorite perfume
• Do some baking-enjoy the mixture of aromas and soothing movements of mixing ingredients
• Make herbal tea and focus on the smell while you enjoy your drink
 
Hearing
• Listen to music that helps soothe you
• Read a quote or favorite scripture out loud
• Sing
• Pause and listen to 3 sounds you hear around you (Ie..rain drops, wind, laughter)
 
Speech
• Have a conversation with someone who listens and you can trust
• Name 5 positive things in your life
• Write yourself an “I love you because…” letter
• Make a to-do list: focus on top 3 to decrease feeling overwhelmed
 

Pre-engagement vs Pre-marital counseling? What's the difference as long as you go?

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   At first the comparison of Pre-engagement and pre-marital counseling can seem so similar and unimportant. Yet considering the differences, pre-engagement counseling may provide many dating couples additional benefits to the relationship and confidence in making a lifelong commitment!  Here are a few  IMPORTANT  factors to consider in regards to pre-engagement counseling:         Engagement/ Pressure:  Proposals, shinny new engagement ring, and the excitement of telling everyone the great news, can really compromise the objectivity of the relationship. The priority of working on the relationship may easily turn into planning the wedding day instead of working on and finding a resolution to the conflict that may be remaining within the relationship.           Time Constraint:  Couples seeking pre-engagement counseling do not have the same time crunch as couples that have already set the wedding date. Pre-engagement counseling can allow dating couples to openly share fears and hopes in sessions without worrying about how emotions will interfere with the couple’s timeline. In some cases, couples may need more than 8 sessions to resolve or practice new skills they are learning. Rather than couples that have a short engagement, which may not have sufficient time or desire to address issues prior to the wedding.         Confidence in your Decision:  Attending pre-engagement counseling can provide both the couple and each individual the time and place to explore such an important decision with a trained professional. A couple can also benefit from expressing their thoughts and feelings to a professional who is trained in marriage and relational issues and will remain an unbiased third party. It is important to consider the motivation and readiness each person has to make such a commitment. By taking the time to explore your relationship in counseling, individuals can discuss expectations for the marriage and find a compromise if necessary prior to making the commitment.  So whether you are currently in a serious relationship or questioning if you and your partner are ready for marriage, please consider pre-engagement counseling! Pre-engagement counseling may seem as an unromantic plan or unnecessary, yet with staggering divorce rates this is just another way to invest in your relationship!

At first the comparison of Pre-engagement and pre-marital counseling can seem so similar and unimportant. Yet considering the differences, pre-engagement counseling may provide many dating couples additional benefits to the relationship and confidence in making a lifelong commitment!

Here are a few IMPORTANT factors to consider in regards to pre-engagement counseling:

      Engagement/ Pressure: Proposals, shinny new engagement ring, and the excitement of telling everyone the great news, can really compromise the objectivity of the relationship. The priority of working on the relationship may easily turn into planning the wedding day instead of working on and finding a resolution to the conflict that may be remaining within the relationship.

        Time Constraint: Couples seeking pre-engagement counseling do not have the same time crunch as couples that have already set the wedding date. Pre-engagement counseling can allow dating couples to openly share fears and hopes in sessions without worrying about how emotions will interfere with the couple’s timeline. In some cases, couples may need more than 8 sessions to resolve or practice new skills they are learning. Rather than couples that have a short engagement, which may not have sufficient time or desire to address issues prior to the wedding.

      Confidence in your Decision: Attending pre-engagement counseling can provide both the couple and each individual the time and place to explore such an important decision with a trained professional. A couple can also benefit from expressing their thoughts and feelings to a professional who is trained in marriage and relational issues and will remain an unbiased third party. It is important to consider the motivation and readiness each person has to make such a commitment. By taking the time to explore your relationship in counseling, individuals can discuss expectations for the marriage and find a compromise if necessary prior to making the commitment.

So whether you are currently in a serious relationship or questioning if you and your partner are ready for marriage, please consider pre-engagement counseling! Pre-engagement counseling may seem as an unromantic plan or unnecessary, yet with staggering divorce rates this is just another way to invest in your relationship!