Take back control of your life

Is your life spinning out of control? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a single resource to keep all the bits and pieces you must keep track of in one place? Search no more.

The new, improved version of the Living Well Planner is available to pre-order. It’s pretty as you can see, but it also is a workhorse. Inside, you can set and track goals, budgets, meals, and everything else in your life. Watch and listen.

 

 

Full disclosure: I have recently become an affiliate with Ruth Soukup’s company, so I will get a commission if you make a purchase through my link.

 

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Function over form

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Instead of beating yourself up every year when you fail, yet again, to achieve your resolution to lose weight, why not learn to appreciate the body you have? What a concept.

Researchers at Florida State University have put together a program that helps participants feel better about themselves. Professor Pamela Keel has studied body image throughout her career. She notes that the ideal body type as portrayed in the media is unattainable for almost everybody. Although the resulting dissatisfaction with their bodies is particularly prevalent among young women, it affects an awful lot of people. After all, the majority of Americans are overweight.

So what do you do to counter the bad feelings? Take a deep breath and stand in front of a mirror with few or no clothes on. But instead of berating yourself, think about the function of your body parts. In other words, don’t focus on how fat you think your legs are. Instead, think about how they get you everywhere you want to go. Doing this draws on the idea of cognitive dissonance.  Positive statements that conflict with the negative thoughts you’ve had about your body eventually turn those thoughts around.

And once you start thinking more positively about yourself, you begin to take better care of yourself, and that may actually lead to the weight loss you wanted all along.

Win-win.

 

I want to be alone

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What a relief! A new study indicates social withdrawal isn’t always a bad thing.

Researchers at the University at Buffalo looked at the motivation behind the desire to be alone. They cite three reasons why people avoid others. One is plain old shyness because of fear or anxiety. A second is avoidance, dislike of being with others or social interaction.

The third, however, is that some people just like spending time reading or working on their computers. They call this unsociability. Can I hear an amen from the introverts of the world?

That third category of people may not initiate social opportunities but will accept them if offered, so they are not totally missing out on peer interaction.

The first two categories result in negative outcomes like lack of social skills or support. The third is positively correlated with creativity. This gives me great comfort.

So, if you are like me and really would prefer to keep your distance most of the time, go ahead. Embrace your solitude. You know you want to.

 

 

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Pay me now or pay me later

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Whether you call it deferred gratification or maximizing, it will make you happier. So say researchers at the University of Connecticut.

Their study refers to the fable of the ant and the grasshopper. The ant toiled all summer laying in provisions for the winter to come while the grasshopper played and had a good time. The human version of that ant behavior is called maximizing; the grasshopper behavior is satisficing.

For Satisficers, good enough is good enough. These are the people who would’ve taken one marshmallow in that classic childhood study instead of waiting so they’d get two.

Because Maximizers are concerned with making the very best choices for the future, they were thought by earlier researchers to be less happy. Having so many options to consider might lead to stress and second guessing themselves. Did all that work and no play make Jack or Jill dull?

It turns out that the maximizers aren’t unhappy after all. They feel good about their forward-thinking ways. As you’d expect, they save more money.

Of course, most people aren’t strictly one or the other. The behaviors are on a continuum. So which end of the scale are you on? Do you identify as an ant or a grasshopper?

 

How big is your pond?

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Would you rather be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond. Researchers at the University of Michigan say it depends on your cultural upbringing.

In three different tests, people with Chinese heritage were twice as likely than those with Western European heritage to choose the small fish option. They preferred having less than mediocre grades at a top ten college over high grades at a top 100 college.

Were the Chinese American students more harmonious and less concerned with standing out while the European Americans more individualistic? Nope. It all came down to prestige.

My roots are showing. I’d definitely go for the high grades at the lower ranked school. The study assures us there is no right or wrong choice, but it’s interesting to ponder how much our upbringing affects what we do.

 

Help the new prof

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For the first time, I will be teaching a class at out local community college for the fall term. It is called Cornerstone here, and is the basic freshman success class that is now mandatory in many schools.

I’m looking for suggestions from experienced teachers on activities and resources I can use besides lectures. I want to keep the students engaged.

Some of the topics I’ll be covering are time management, diversity, critical thinking, financial literacy, and careers.

What about it, fellow educators? Any ideas you’d like to share?

Grow where you’re planted

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I confess it was never my intention to live in Florida. Yet nearly two decades later, I am still here. Moreover, I live on a relatively rural island a good drive away from the nearest city. I grew up and lived my whole life in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. If there was ever a fish out of water, I’m it.

When I spotted Melody Warnick’s book This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live, i grabbed it off the shelf. Maybe I could find some helpful advice within.

Warnick’s issue was a little different from my own. She had moved multiple times, never feeling at home in any of her locations. When her professor husband got a job in Blacksburg at Virginia Tech, she resolved to find out what leads people to feel attached to their town or city.

Her extensive research led to some practical suggestions. The first is to walk whenever possible to get a sense of place. That one is only marginally doable for me. I can’t really walk to any destinations, just within my immediate neighborhood. Doing that, however, would accomplish another tactic, getting to know my neighbors. In the time we’ve lived here, people have moved away or died, and we’ve never made the acquaintance of their replacements.

Warnick’s other advice includes volunteering and doing something creative. I do those things  but in the nearby city, not on the island. Doing activities most other residents find pleasurable won’t work for me. I’ve never fished and never will.

My one gold star is that I do try to patronize local businesses.

Is there hope for me? Like Warnick, should I push myself a bit more? Do you feel at home where you live? Why?

 

 

 

 

 

Delayed gratification=weight loss

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I just read yet another study with fairly self-evident results. This one is from McMaster University and St. Joseph’s Healthcare of Hamilton. They found that folks with ADHD and folks who are obese share an inability to delay gratification. This apparently is true of those with any addictive behavior.

Really? Do you mean to tell me I am fat because I can’t turn down a cookie? Duh.

The researchers say that clinical approaches to weight loss should focus more on the long term benefits. I think we all know perfectly well the long term benefits already. But that doesn’t stop us.

I’m thinking this is also a function of will power’s being a finite capacity. For example, I managed to get through grad school with little difficulty but gained 20 pounds in the process if I recall correctly. Should I have focused on denying myself the extra calories and blown off my studies?

Does it have to be an either-or situation?

 

 

 

Exercise with a buddy

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Many years ago. I bought a Pilates machine from QVC. I used it religiously when it was new. Then, as these things go, I got out of the habit. The machine languished on a screened in porch here in Florida and the rollers deteriorated.

Well, I got re-motivated so I ordered new rollers. My husband and I managed to remove the crumbling old ones and attach the new ones, all without causing each other any bodily harm, a feat of which we are both proud.

After copious applications of WD40, the machine is working pretty well. Now, I am again exercising under the observation of a gecko. Poor creature can’t quite figure what is going on. He wouldn’t be my first choice as an exercise buddy. He is not nearly as much fun as the one in the commercials. No witty repartee.

Do you have an exercise buddy?