Hustle to Keep Your Brain Healthy

When actress Nancy Daly started noticing her mother was having trouble remembering things, she thought it might just be old age.

But it wasn’t. She forgot how to drive. She turned favorite recipes made from scratch for years into a mess. She got frustrated getting dressed (her outfit was on backwards). And eventually, she even forgot the most important people in her life.

That’s what Alzheimer’s looks like.

  • It’s a progressive disease that damages memory and brain function.
  • It’s the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
  • About 6 million people in the U.S. have Alzheimer’s, and that may rise to 12.7 million in the next 30 years.

“With Alzheimer’s you lose them twice,” says Daly. “You lose them when they don’t remember you anymore. And you lose them again when they die.”

There is no cure, but Daly hopes to change that. She created the Actors and Artists Unite to End Alzheimer’s foundation to organize walking events to raise money for research.

And that may be just the thing to keep your brain healthy.

  • A recent study found that exercise can improve brain activity, function and memory, and may help slow the progress of Alzheimer’s.

What else can you do to keep your brain healthy?

  • Eat a plant-based diet.
  • Build strong social bonds with others.
  • Keep learning.
  • Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.
  • Manage stress in healthy ways.
  • Don’t smoke, or quit if you do.
  • And maintain a healthy weight.

References
1. Alzheimer’s Association. (2022). Facts and figures. From: https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/facts-figures
2. Choi, S., et al. (2018). Combined adult neurogenesis and BDNF mimic exercise effects on cognition in an Alzheimer’s mouse model. Science, 361(6406):8821. From: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.aan8821

4 Healthy Reasons to Take a Daily Walk

Go for a walk. You’ve heard the advice before, but can going for a walk really make that big of a difference? The answer is “yes.”

If walking is already part of your daily routine, keep up the good work. If you’re hit and miss or don’t do any walking “now” is always a good time to start. And it’s easy…

Lace up your shoes and…

  • Walk out the door.
  • Take a walk break during your work day.
  • Walk around the block at home after dinner.
  • If it’s close enough, walk to the store to run errands or buy groceries.
  • Or plan a hike, visit a park, or go to the beach and take a walk.

4 Health Benefits of Daily Walking

Take a look at your schedule, and find a way to fit in 30 minutes of walking. Why? That’s all it takes to tap into the health benefits of daily walking. Don’t have a 30-minute block of time? Take a few 10-minute walk breaks, and you’ll still positive results.1

Research shows that regular walking can help you:

1. Manage your weight

Did you know 73.6% of adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese?2 Walking can make a difference.

  • The average adult burns about 100 to 150 calories on a 30-minute walk.
  • If you walked for 30 minutes every day for a year, you’d burn enough calories to lose 10 pounds of fat.

2. Reduce chronic disease risk

Did you know heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S.?

Stroke and diabetes are also on the list. But these chronic diseases are largely preventable with healthy lifestyle habits. Walking can make a difference.

  • One recent study found that walking at least 7,000 steps a day may cut the risk for chronic disease and early death by 50 to 70%.3

3. Boost your mood

Ever have one of those days? You know, you’re stressed out or feeling down about something. There were a lot more of those days during the pandemic, right?

An estimated 41% of adults have reported feeling depressed or anxious since the start of the pandemic.4

The good news…walking can make a difference.

  • In a University of Mississippi study, researchers found that just 10 minutes of walking can help reduce anxiety and depression, and increase happiness.5

4. Improve overall health

If you’re thinking about making some changes to get healthy, skip the fad diets, insane workouts and gimmicky exercise equipment. It doesn’t have to be that hard.

Walking can make a difference. Research shows that walking can also help:6

  • Strengthen your bones and muscles
  • Prevent certain types of cancer
  • Increase energy levels
  • Improve balance and stability
  • Boost your immune system

Good job. You read this all the way through. Now walk away. You’ll be healthier, feel better, and live longer.

Eat This: The Surprisingly Simple Diet to Live Longer

Ever wonder what the secret is to living longer? That’s a million dollar question, right?

People have been looking for a quick fix to live longer for centuries. Here’s two examples:

The Fountain of Youth

In the 16th century, Spanish explorer Ponce Deleon sailed across the oceans in the 16th century in search of the Fountain of Youth.

The theory…Drinking from the Fountain of Youth or bathing in its mystical waters could reverse the aging process, cure sickness, and maybe even help you live forever.

But it doesn’t exist.

The $35 Billion Supplement Industry

In the United States, Americans spend an estimated $35 billion a year on supplements that promise big benefits like:1

  • Lose weight
  • Improve skin
  • Boost mood
  • Build muscle
  • Improve sexual function
  • Slow the aging process

But few of these supplements actually produce positive and measurable results.

“They have been shown to be ineffective in many cases and pose serious health risks to consumers,” says Harvard School of Public Health Researcher Dr. S. Bryn Austin.

Maybe the secret to living longer doesn’t have anything to do with mystical waters or supplements filled with empty promises.

So why do some people live longer than others?

There’s more than one factor at play. But it’s clear that healthy eating habits make a difference.

In a recent study, researchers tracked the eating habits of 74,000 people for 12 years.1

Researchers found that healthy eaters had a lower risk of death than people who didn’t eat a healthy diet. Healthy eaters were also less likely to die from heart disease or stroke.

So what did they eat?

The healthiest people who lived the longest ate more:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Fish
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Whole grains
  • Healthy fats
  • Lean meats

Now you know what to get the next time you go to the grocery store, plan a meal, or order out.

But what if you’ve been eating burgers and fries all your life?

If you change your diet now, will it do any good? Yes.

Even small changes to your diet over time can cut your risk for chronic disease and early death (mystical water and dietary supplements optional).

Get Outside: 15 Ways to Boost Health and Happiness

Looking for an easy way to improve your health and be happier?

It might be as simple as spending a little more time outside.

Here’s an example…

When the young Cheryl Strayed reached a tipping point in her life, she needed this desperately.

Her marriage failed. Her mother died. She bounced from one job to the next as a journalist, waitress, office worker, youth advocate, and medical technician.

She made a lot of unhealthy choices. And she knew something had to change.

So she filled a backpack with a few essentials, put on some hiking boots, and headed for the great outdoors.

For the next three months, Strayed hiked north from California to Washington, along 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. The journey changed her life and inspired her best-selling memoir, Wild.

You may not be planning to hike a thousand miles or go on a three-month camping trip. But spending some time outside is good for your health and happiness.

Let’s take a closer look at the health benefits of spending time outdoors, and how you can do it.

Inside or Outside? 5 Fun Facts You Need to Know

Wondering if spending more time outside can make a difference? Check this out…

1. Stuck inside. The average adult spends 93% of their time inside (home, office, store, car).

2. The happiness factor. People who spend 120+ minutes per week outside are happier than those who don’t.

3. Stress relief. Spending time in natural settings (parks, trails, greenspace, beach, etc.) can help reduce stress and lower blood pressure.

4. Daily dose of sun. Just a few minutes in the sun each day can boost vitamin D levels, improve bone health, and strengthen the immune system.

5. Mood matters. Exercising outside increases serotonin levels and helps reduce depression and anxiety.

How much time do you spend outside per day or per week?

Research shows spending time outdoors in natural settings can have a positive impact on your physical and mental health.

Step Outside: Discover the Health Benefits of the Great Outdoors

Have you ever felt a little stressed out, overwhelmed, or in a funk? Or maybe you’re looking for ways to improve your health and prevent disease.

Do this: Step outside a little more often.

Researchers looked at data from 143 studies and found that spending time outdoors may help:

  • Improve mood
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce stress
  • Increase longevity
  • Prevent and control diabetes
  • Raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels
  • Lower the risk for certain types of cancers

Research also shows spending time outdoors can help:

  • Increase vitamin D levels
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Support weight management
  • Boost creativity

HealthyRx: Spend 120+ minutes a week outside

Starting to get the picture? Spending time outdoors is good for your health and happiness. But how much time makes a difference?

  • 120+ minutes per week. In a study of 20,000 people, researchers found that people who spend at least 120 minutes a week in nature are happier and healthier than those who don’t.
  • Break it up. Researchers also found that spending less than 120 minutes per week outside wasn’t enough to provide measurable health benefits. Break it up into smaller chunks of time that fit your schedule.
  • Don’t forget the sunscreen. If you’re going to be outside for longer than 10+ minutes in direct sun, don’t forget the sunscreen. Sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) or 30 or higher blocks 97% of the sun’s harmful rays.

15 Simple Ways to Spend More Time Outside

Want to improve your health and feel happier? Spend more time outside.

You don’t have to spend three months outside or walk 1,100 miles like Cheryl Strayed did on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Instead, spend a few minutes outside every day (and maybe a little more on the weekend). Check out these 15 simple ways to spend more time outside:

At Home

1. Work in the yard. Mow the lawn. Water the flowers. Plant a garden. If you don’t have a yard, help a friend who does.

2. Eat en plein air. That’s French for “outside.” Make breakfast, lunch or dinner, and enjoy it outside. Try the deck, backyard, balcony or driveway.

3. Chat with neighbors. Remember this? Most adults spend 93% of their time indoors. Take a walk and visit your neighbors.

4. Get the mail. If you have a community mailbox, take a walk to get it (instead of driving up to the curb…you’ve seen people do this, right?)

5. Go for a walk. Walk the dog. Take a stroll through the neighborhood. If it’s close enough, walk to complete simple errands. Just walk to the end of the street. Or swap a gym workout for jogging or running outside.

At Work

6. Host a walking meeting. You know…instead of sitting in a conference room or staring at a screen on a video call.

7. Eat lunch outside. Take your lunch to an outdoor eating area or nearby park. If you go out to eat, eat outside when the weather’s good.

8. Take a walk break…outside. Take a short walk break a couple times a day. Just 15 to 20 minutes can boost your mood and creative juices.

9. Read outside. Maybe you’ve got a lot of paperwork to sift through. Or you want to take a break to read something a little lighter like a novel or magazine. Find a place where you can read outside.

Out and About

10. Park far away…when you go to the store. Then walk across the parking lot.

11. Go for a hike. Find a trail, nature park or greenspace in your area and hike or walk.

12. Plan a picnic. Pack a lunch with your favorite foods and find a place to have a picnic like a park, beach, or even your backyard.

13. Try camping or glamping. Pack your tent, sleeping bags and camping gear for a night in the outdoors. Or make it a little easier and stay in an RV, cabin, yurt, or rental where you can get away and get outside.

14. Look up at the sky. Catch a sunset. Or go outside on a clear night and look up at the sky.

15. Go exploring. Chances are pretty good there’s some outdoor gems in your area you haven’t been to yet. Go exploring. Get outside and visit a park, trail, lake, beach, or natural area you haven’t been to before.

15 Ways to Beat Seasonal Allergies at Home

Dust mite word cloud

You open the shades on a sunny summer day to let in some sunlight. Maybe you take a walk in the park, or work in the yard.

That might sound refreshing. But if all you can see is green grass, flowers in bloom, and clouds of dust, pollen and other allergens in the air, you might be thinking, “Oh no. It’s allergy season.”

Seasonal allergies: About 50 million people in the United States suffer from seasonal allergies. Common symptoms include…

  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Runny nose
  • Sinus pressure
  • Maybe even trouble breathing if you have asthma

If your summer season includes a lot of tissues, elbow coughing, and even missed days at work because of seasonal allergies, is there anything you can do about it?

Yes.

15 Keep-It-Clean Tips to Beat Seasonal Allergies at Home

It’s tough to avoid many of the allergens that trigger an allergic reaction. It’s even harder if you spend a lot of time outside.

But inside…a little cleaning can go a long way to help you breathe easy and avoid asthma and allergy problems.

Here are some things you can do:

In the kitchen

  1. Clean floors, cabinet surfaces, backsplashes and appliances weekly. Use soap and water.
  2. Keep the refrigerator clean. Use a little vinegar to clean.
  3. Use an exhaust fan when you cook to reduce moisture and mold.

In bedrooms/living room

  1. Use dust-proof covers for pillows, mattresses, and box springs.
  2. Wash bedding weekly.
  3. Vacuum carpets, sofas, and chairs weekly.
  4. Wash rugs and floor mats weekly. Mop hard surfaces.

In the bathroom

  1. Use an exhaust fan to reduce moisture from baths and showers.
  2. Wash rugs, mats, and linens weekly
  3. Dry the tub or shower with a towel after use to prevent mold growth.

Around the house

  1. Keep windows closed during allergy season. Use air conditioning (AC).
  2. Get rid of any items that collect dust.
  3. If you have indoor pets, keep them out of the bedroom.
  4. Change the air filters in your air-conditioning and heater seasonally.
  5. Avoid using cleaning sprays. Research shows frequent use of cleaning sprays increases the risk for asthma and breathing problems. Use vinegar.

If you have asthma or allergies, you can still enjoy sunshine and summer. Just take a little extra time to keep your house clean to reduce dust, pollen, and other allergens.

Be More Active: You Won’t Believe How Far This Guy Walked!

Young man hiker on a top of a mountain

Former Army Ranger Holly “Cargo” Harrison wanted to see if he was tough enough to go the distance.

So he laced up a pair of hiking boots. He grabbed some poles and gear. And he headed about as far south as you can go to Ushuaia, Argentina.

That’s where he started walking. For the next 17-1/2 months, he walked every day. His journey included border crossings, bad weather, health problems, and other challenges.

But Harrison didn’t let those things stop him. He kept going. And eventually, he reached his goal, arriving in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, after walking more than 15,000 miles.

“As it turns out, my walk took me to a place that I never expected to go,” says Harrison. “Physically, I arrived at Prudhoe Bay, but emotionally, I reached a place deeper within myself…”

A simple way to improve your health: Walk more

At some points during his journey, Harrison walked 30 miles a day. That’s a lot. You don’t need to exercise that much to improve your health. But you should be active.

    • How much exercise do you get? About 77 percent of adults don’t get enough aerobic (30 minutes a day) and strength exercise (2 days a week).1

But if you want to improve your health, feel better, manage your weight, and prevent chronic disease, a little more exercise can help.

Here’s an easy way to start: Go for a walk.

Make it a regular part of your day. If you don’t have a 30-minute block of time, take three short walk breaks throughout the day.2

Take one step, and then another. And track your progress. That’s the same way Harrison made it all the way from Argentina to Alaska.

Eat Healthy Fats: 9 Foods to Help Control Cholesterol

Did you know the type of fats you eat can have a big impact on cholesterol levels?

Pizza, french fries, baked good, fast food, red meat. These foods contain the kind of fat that can lead to high cholesterol and serious health problems.

Having high cholesterol puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke. Both are leading causes of death in the United States that claim the lives of about 857,000 people a year.1

The scary truth about cholesterol…

  • Total cholesterol. An estimated 94 million adults in the U.S. have total cholesterol levels higher than normal.2
  • Only 1 out of 3 adults with high cholesterol have the condition under control.
  • There are no symptoms. Many with high cholesterol don’t even know it.

How’s your cholesterol?

A simple blood test can measure cholesterol for:3

  • Total cholesterol. A measure of the total amount of cholesterol in your blood.(Healthy level for adults = 125 to 200 mg/dL)
  • LDL (bad) cholesterol. The main source of cholesterol buildup and blockage in the arteries. (Healthy level for adults = Less than 100 mg/dL)
  • HDL (good) cholesterol. HDL helps remove cholesterol from your arteries (Healthy level for adults = 40 mg/dL or higher)
  • Triglycerides. The most common type of fat in your body.

5 Types of Fatty Foods to Avoid or Limit to Control Cholesterol

Walk down the aisles at the grocery store and you’re bound to see dozens of product packages labeled “low-fat.”

Don’t be fooled. In most cases, the label just means the item is low in saturated or trans fat, and not a good source of healthy or unsaturated fat.

Here are 5 types of fatty foods to avoid or limit:

  • Meats: Beef, lamb, pork, sausage, bacon, hamburgers, hot dogs, steak
  • Full-fat dairy: Whole milk, cream, butter, ice cream, cheese
  • Animal and solid fats: Lard, vegetable shortening, hard-stick margarine
  • Baked goods using solid fats: Pie crust, cake, cookies, pastry, doughnuts, crackers
  • Coconut or palm oil: Non-dairy toppings and creamers

Is it healthy fat? Here’s an easy way to tell. If it’s solid at room temperature, it’s not healthy.

Add These 9 Healthy-Fat Foods to Your Diet

Fortunately, not all fat is bad. Healthy fats, or unsaturated fats, found in plant-based foods, protect your heart and brain, and help lower the risk for heart disease, stroke and other chronic diseases.4

Hungry for better health? Add these healthy fats to your diet:

  1. Olive oil
  2. Canola, soy, and other non-hydrogenated plant oils
  3. Trans fat-free, soft tub margarines
  4. Salad dressings made from non-hydrogenated vegetables oils
  5. Cold water fish, such as salmon
  6. Olives and avocados
  7. Nuts and seeds, including flax seeds
  8. Plant-based spreads, such as hummus or nut butters
  9. Fruits, vegetables, and legumes

Plant-Based Power to Control Cholesterol

Choosing foods with less trans fats and saturated fats will help lower your blood cholesterol levels and protect your health.

Plant-based foods are cholesterol-free, low in and saturated fat. They even help lower cholesterol because of their healthy fat and fiber content. Try:

    • Tofu
    • Avocado
    • Soy products
    • Legumes (peas, beans, lentils, etc.
    • Vegetables, nuts and seeds, and whole-grain foods are good sources of healthy fats, too.

Eat more healthy fats, and you’ll be healthier, feel better, and live longer.

6 Creative Ways to Eat More Veggies

Hand drawn fruit and vegetables

Eat more veggies. You’ve heard the advice before. Maybe you even have childhood flashbacks of a dinner-table showdown. Yes?

Chances are pretty good you already know vegetables are good for you, and you should probably eat more. But how do you make it happen without eating handfuls of broccoli and spinach?

If you’re looking for ways to add more vegetables to your diet, you’re headed in the right direction. Why?

Most adults don’t eat enough vegetables. In fact, in a recent study, researchers found that only 10 percent of adults eat the minimum amount of vegetables recommended per day.1

    • Eat this much. The 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends adults eat 2 to 3 cups of vegetables per day.2

Veggie power: 7 health benefits of vegetables

Did you know vegetables are rich in key nutrients, low in calories, and high in fiber?

Eating vegetables is one of the best things you can do to improve your health. Research shows that eating more vegetables can help:3

    • Lower blood pressure
    • Support weight management
    • Improve digestion
    • Control blood sugar levels + prevent/manage diabetes
    • Reduce the risk for heart disease and stroke
    • Help prevent certain types of cancer
    • Control appetite

6 creative ways to eat more veggies

If you haven’t been eating enough vegetables, you’re not alone. Only 1 in 10 adults eat enough fruits and vegetables. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here are some creative ways to add more vegetables to your diet:

    • The Smooth Move. Make a smoothie with vegetables and fruit. With just a few ingredients, you can use a high-powered blender to make a healthy smoothie. Try smoothie recipes with fruit and vegetables like carrots, spinach, cucumber, kale, or cauliflower.
    • The Dip Delight. Try fresh vegetables served with a light salad dressing or fat-free dip. Stack a plate with raw broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and snap peas, and enjoy these vegetables at snack time or while you’re preparing a meal. They are much better for you than snacking on junk food or sweet treats.
    • The Soup Secret. Add vegetables to your favorite low-sodium soup. If you’re making your own vegetable soup, it’s probably in good shape. But canned soups could benefit from more fresh veggies. Add some freshly chopped carrots, leeks, or green beans. Frozen vegetables work nicely too.
    • The Hiding Place. Spaghetti sauce is the perfect “hiding place” for vegetables. Chop up zucchini, onions, eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower, and mushrooms, and add them to your pasta sauce. Puree the sauce if you have to. The smaller you chop them, the less likely you’ll even notice they’ve been added to the sauce!
    • That’s a Wrap. Burritos and quesadillas are even tastier with added vegetables. Cook some eggs. Toss in tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, red onion, and asparagus. Then wrap it up in a tortilla. Or go sans tortilla and make an omelet pack with veggies.
    • The Griller. Grill vegetables to serve with your meal. Brush your favorite vegetables with olive oil, light Italian dressing, or your own marinade, and cook them on the grill. Try portobello mushrooms, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, cauliflower, or asparagus spears. Or use skewers to create veggie kabobs.

Hungry to get healthier? Eat more vegetables.

Use the Granny Method to Fight Obesity

fitness concept 3d render

Florida resident Edith Murway-Traina likes to spend time in the gym.

She might not be as agile as she was when she was a dancer. But at 100 years old, she’s still active and strong.

In fact, she holds a Guinness World Record for deadlifting 163 pounds and bench pressing 63 pounds.

Strength training for weight loss

If you need to lose weight, you might think you need to ramp up running, jogging or walking to tip the scale in the right direction.

But what if you have aches and pains or weaknesses that make that type of exercise hard?

You know…things like knee pain, back pain, poor balance, or lack of strength.

No cardio. No problem.

There’s another way…The Granny Method. If Edith can lift weights at 100 years old, so can you.

In one recent study, researchers found that strength training can be an effective way to:

    • Lose weight
    • Build muscle
    • Increase strength
    • Lower body fat percentage
    • Improve balance
    • Improve overall health

“We can use resistance training and achieve meaningful effects with a diet based on caloric reduction,” says lead researcher Pedro Lopez. “We can reduce body fat percentage, whole-body fat mass, body weight and BMI.”

Strength training guidelines for adults

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults strength train at least two days a week.

Strength training: Here are some easy ways to get started:

    • Take a strength training class
    • Work with a personal trainer
    • Lift weights at the gym
    • Choose an online workout video and follow along at home, or…
    • Do bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups and crunches

Want to lose weight and keep it off, or maintain a healthy weight?

Make time for strength training. You’ll get stronger, feel better, and lower your risk for obesity and other chronic diseases.

9 Health Benefits of an Optimistic Outlook

Conceptual positive thinking, happy strong

Can positive thinking improve your health?

You can’t cure cancer, lose weight, or lower your cholesterol just by thinking about it.

So skip the slick infomercials, supplement aisle, and social media ads for miracle cures and magical weight-loss products.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way. Let’s take a closer look at the power of positive thinking and your health. Because it’s not all just in your head or woo-woo science.

Positive or negative: A crash-and-burn lesson about the way you think

Olympic skier Jackie Wiles topped 80 miles per hour on a downhill course in a World Cup Race. She hit turn after turn perfectly using her skis, poles, and body.

A week later, she was racing against the best downhill skiers in the world. And then something happened.

At the peak of her career as a world-class athlete, Wiles lost her balance. She spun out of control and veered off course.

When race officials reached her on the snow-covered slope, she couldn’t walk. The impact tore ligaments, broke two bones in her leg, and caused other injuries.

Even before surgery, Wiles knew she had a choice. Give up, quit skiing, and do something else. Or focus on getting better and stronger to ski like a pro again.

What would you do? Dwell on the negative or focus on the positive?

9 Health Benefits of Positive Thinking

After the ski slope crash, Jackie was taken away on a stretcher. She needed surgery to repair torn ligaments, broken bones, and damage to her knee. Then came physical therapy. Every step of the way to recovery, she’s focusing on the positive.

“Scars tell stories and show what I’ve been through and the strength from within,” says Jackie. “I’m going to come out stronger from this.”

And she did. She recently competed in the 2022 Winter Olympics in the Women’s Alpine Skiing Downhill event.

It’s good to focus on the positive or look on the bright side, even when things go wrong. It can improve your health and quality of life in many ways. Research shows that cultivating an optimistic outlook can help:

    1. Lower the risk for heart disease
    2. Improve longevity and quality of life
    3. Bounce back from negative events faster
    4. Improve well-being and quality of life
    5. Support and protect the immune system
    6. Reduce blood pressure
    7. Support healthy relationships
    8. Protect brain function and memory as you age
    9. Reduce worry, stress, anxiety, and depression

The Optimistic Outlook: 8 Ways to Think Positive

Are you already an optimistic person? Keep up the good work. But what if you tend to focus on the negative, or catch yourself thinking the worst? Practice positive thinking.

Here are 8 ways to develop a positive mindset:

1. Start your day with positive thoughts. When you wake up, do you start worrying about everything on your to-do list and what could go wrong? Stop. Start your day with a positive thought like: “Today is going to be a great day.”

2. Be grateful. It’s another way of saying, “look for the positive.” For example, when you’re stuck in traffic, be grateful for extra time to listen to your favorite song or podcast.

3. Keep a gratitude journal. Take a few minutes each day to write down a few things you’re grateful for. Even little things matter, like clean air, a beautiful sunset, or all green lights on your way to work.

4. Laugh more. It’s a great way to boost your mood, feel happier, and be more positive. Read or listen to funny jokes. Watch a comedy. And look for humor, even in difficult situations. When you laugh, endorphins are released in the brain that help improve your mood.

5. Make time for exercise. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes a day. Break it up into smaller chunks of time if that fits your schedule better. Go for a walk. Ride a bike. Hit the gym. Take a fitness class. You’ll feel better, think better, and be more positive.

6. Learn from failure. When something doesn’t turn out the way you expected, it’s easy to focus on what went wrong. Change the way you think about failure. Turn it into a learning opportunity. Inventor Thomas Edison said: “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work.”

7. Stop, think, choose. Pay attention to what you say and think. When you catch yourself making a negative statement or comment, Stop. Think about what you’re saying. And Choose to reframe it with a positive statement.

Here’s an example:

    • Stop: I’ll never be able to eat a healthy diet.
    • Think: That’s not true. I just ate a cookie, but I eat healthy foods, too.
    • Choose: I’m working on eating a healthier diet. I’ll make better choices next time.

8. Surround yourself with positive people. You may not be able to avoid Debbie Downer or Bob Bummer if they’re your co-workers or part of your family. But you can surround yourself with positive people. Being around people with a positive outlook will help you learn to think this way, and avoid dwelling on the negative.

Positive thinking won’t solve all your problems or turn your life into a magical fairy tale. But it can improve your physical and mental health, help you live longer, and feel happier.

Did You Get the Message? Texting While Driving is Dangerous

Using mobile phone while driving

Texas resident Chance Bothe knew texting while driving was dangerous. But he still did it driving to work, college classes, or on the way home. It didn’t seem like a big deal.

And then it happened. He sent a text to a friend…

Moments later his truck went off a bridge and crashed into a ravine.
Just before his truck burst into flames, he was pulled from the wreckage.
But he broke his neck, fractured his skull, and sustained serious brain injuries.

Put down the phone & drive

If you’ve ever sent a text while driving, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants you to know it’s just as dangerous as driving blind.1

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

In five seconds or less, your car can travel the length of a football field at highway speeds. And if you’re not looking at the road, you could be in trouble. Just ask Bothe.

Every year, an estimated 3,100 people are killed, and nearly 400,000 injured because of distracted driving activities like texting.2 But this is largely preventable.2

3 ways to STOP texting while driving

1. Pull over. Need to send a text? Pull over and park your car in a safe place first.

2. Choose a designated texter. If you’re driving with someone else, have a passenger send text messages for you.

3. Eliminate the habit. Feel the need to click, swipe, tap and type while driving? Put your phone in a place that’s out of reach (like the trunk).

Note: Some newer cars will even disable your phone when driving. And that’s a good thing.

References

1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2022). April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. From: https://www.nhtsa.gov/es/distracted-driving/april-distracted-driving-awareness-month

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022. Distracted driving. From: https://www.cdc.gov/transportationsafety/distracted_driving/index.html#prevent

No Magic Pill for Weight Loss: 6 Lifestyle Habits for Long-term Success

weight loss program

Can diet supplements help you lose weight?

The simple answer: Probably not. There’s no magic pill, weight loss supplement or potion that can make excess pounds melt away.

If losing weight is on your list of health and fitness goals, you’re not alone. An estimated 73 percent of adults in the United States are overweight or obese.1

The Truth About Weight Loss Supplements

If you’re looking for a quick fix to lose weight, you might think taking a diet pill or supplement is all you need. A lot of people do.

  • In the U.S., an estimated 34 percent of adults have tried some type of weight loss supplement.
  • Americans spend about $2.1 billion a year on weight-loss supplements in the form of tablets, capsules, softgels, and drinks.2

Most are made with ingredients that could improve metabolism or suppress appetite like:

  • Green tea extract
  • Chitosan
  • Guar gum
  • Conjugated linoleic acid
  • Caffeine

However, a recent study found that diet and weight-loss supplements typically fail to help people lose weight.3

Researchers looked at 315 weight-loss studies that put different supplements to the test. They found that most did not result in weight loss. And only a few tipped the scale in the right direction by just a few pounds or less.

6 Lifestyle Habits for Healthy Weight Loss

Weight loss does not come in pill or powder form. It’s a lifelong process.

If you want to lose weight and keep it off, skip the diet supplements, save your money, and adopt these 6 lifestyle habits:

1. Eat healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fish. Avoid or limit sugary drinks, snacks, desserts, and candy high in calories.

2. Be active. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days.

3. Drink more water instead of soda, juice, energy drinks, or other sugary beverages.

4. Practice portion control by counting calories, keeping a food journal, and being mindful of your food choices.

5. Get your Zzzs. Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Why? Lack of sleep alters levels of hormones (ghrelin and leptin) linked to hunger and cravings. And if you stay up late, you’ll have more time for snacking.

6. Don’t give up. If you miss a workout or overeat, it’s not that big of a deal. Don’t use that as an excuse to overeat or skip workouts. Instead, just get back on track and keep going.

If you need extra help to lose weight, talk to your doctor, join a weight-loss group for support, or work with a trainer and dietitian to help you develop a diet and exercise plan to help you get results.

References

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Obesity and overweight. From: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/obesity-overweight.htm

2. National Institutes of Health. (2021). Dietary supplements for weight loss. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. From: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/WeightLoss-HealthProfessional/

3. Batsis, J., et al. (2021). A systematic review of dietary supplements and alternative therapies for weight loss. Obesity, 29(7): 1102-1113. From: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/oby.23110