Heather's Hangout

Sharing the people, places & little moments that make a difference.

5 ways to motivate yourself to be active January 25, 2017

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I kicked off the new year with a new fitness routine that includes cardio and strength training to get my butt ready for the list of outdoor activities that I want to participate in once the mild weather arrives in Michigan. As much as I like to be active and exercise, even I at times need some motivation. So I like to mix up my routine and activities when I can. Good thing there are so many fun activities to keep me busy!

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While going to the gym provides great exercise for both cardio and weight training, I get bored if I go too much. Plus, I frankly enjoy too many other forms of activities to be a gym rat. If you need a variety of activities to get you moving, consider some that I enjoy:

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Riding indoors!

Indoor bike trainer: I’m anxious to be outdoors riding my bike again, but the weather hasn’t been on my side the past few weeks so I just want to ride my bike. When I mentioned that to my friend, he offered to let me borrow his bike trainer (so nice!). It’s not the same as riding outside but it lets me stay comfortable on my bike, remind my bottom what it feels like to sit on the seat (!), and keep up the cardio. I set it up in my living room near the television so it’s a good excuse to catch up on some shows (hey, whatever works).

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Zumba: I love Zumba! I love the music and dancing. I love seeing the lovely ladies who are also regulars in my class. This class is for any fitness level as you dance to your comfort zone. You don’t need to be super coordinated or a great dancer. You can modify moves as needed (I do at times due to the titanium rod in my leg). I love my Zumba class because the instructors often play music that I can sing along with and the dancing keeps me focused so I forget I’m working out!

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Cyclebar: This fun version of a spin class offers good music, low lights and energetic instructors. While you can get a fairly intense workout, you really ride at your own fitness level and pace. So if the instructor says to ride an entire song out of the seat and you don’t feel like it, then don’t. There are some days that my leg is achy so I might not pedal as fast/hard as others. I’m cool with that since riding at my own pace is still keeping me moving. That’s truly the important part of any physical activity – keep moving!

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Working out with my trainer is fun!

Group workouts: I like working out with others but can’t always find someone to exercise when I can, who will commit to a regular schedule, etc. A local studio gym offers small group fitness classes with a dedicated personal trainer so I decided to participate (good accountability when you register/pay for a class). We meet twice a week to focus on strength training using weights, balls, bands, various exercises, and more. I really like my group’s trainer (she spunky, sweet and shakes up the exercises so it stays fun!), and the other women are motivating and inspiring. We laugh a lot throughout our class. If you don’t have this option of a ‘formal’ group workout, find a few friends who are willing to commit to getting together with you. I suggest agreeing on the number of days per week and the specific days/times you all want to commit to so everyone knows the expectations up front.

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Indoor walking: With the unpredictable winter weather in Michigan, I haven’t been able to walk or bike outside very much (it’s either snowing, sleeting, raining or bitter cold). But I like to walk so decided to check out the local indoor mall. I had no idea so many people walked at the mall! Window shopping is a great distraction (one suggestion: go before the mall opens so you save money!).

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I often have people comment that “it’s nice I have so much time to work out and they wish that they had the time too.” Guess what? I’m just as busy as the next person with work, volunteering, family, social life, and other commitments. But staying healthy is important enough to me that I make being active part of my lifestyle. That’s the trick – once it’s part of your lifestyle, you find the time. My friend gets on her treadmill at 9pm three times a week after her kids are in bed (she also bought a small TV that’s perched in front of the treadmill so she can catch up on shows. Good distraction.). My sister participates in a 5am class twice a week because it’s when she has ‘free time’ (God bless her because there is no way I could get up this early to work out!). I add my Zumba class and now fitness class to my calendar so it blocks off my time and sends me reminders. It’s really easy to make excuses to put off being active and healthy. So stop.

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What activities do you enjoy that keep you moving?

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If want to kick off your exercise routine while helping support people with cancer, join me on Saturday, Feb. 18 for a fundraiser to benefit LIVESTRONG – we’ll be having some fun at Cyclebar in Troy! This cycling/spin class is for all fitness levels (ride at your own pace). Riders receive a LIVESTRONG bracelet, Cyclebar water bottle and snacks. Register today!

 

My reminder to appreciate the little things October 5, 2016

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Hiking in Cuyahoga Valley

I tend to be a naturally optimistic person. I like to be happy and enjoy life (don’t you??). I’m going to be frank, though. Every so often I get in a funk and get frustrated with some of my physical limitations, thanks to cancer.

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When I was diagnosed 21 years old with bone cancer in my femur, there was a very real possibility that I might have a leg amputation. It was terrifying. It’s sadly not uncommon with my type of bone cancer diagnosis. Thankfully, I was diagnosed fairly early (it was stunning to know my tumor had been growing for almost a year!) and the horrible chemo did its job by killing the majority of the cancerous tumor in my femur. The tumor shrunk enough to be removed and save my leg. That meant the lower part of my femur, knee and upper tibia were removed and replaced with titanium.

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I work hard to keep my leg in strong shape. I work out at least four times a week, sometimes more. I have always enjoyed exercise and being physical so it makes it less ‘work’ for me (I know many people feel like working out is a chore). During Michigan’s warmer months, I get most of my exercise outdoors hiking, biking, and more.

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The challenge with the titanium rod is that I have to be more cautious than the average person with regard to injury, impact and twisting of my leg. A wrong move or fall could break my remaining bone, the pin, etc. One of the bigger blows that cancer gave me was having to stop riding my beautiful horses (too risky if I fell). I also can’t run (too much impact) or ski (too much twisting), and can only play tennis if my opponent can serve pretty close to me so I don’t have to run (uh, yeah, so I don’t play much; no offense to my family and friends!). Over time, I’ve picked up many other activities that I now love and enjoy. My regular readers know my love of hiking, biking and Zumba. I usually try to shove that caution to the back of my mind and throw myself into enjoying everything I can.

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Sometimes, though, that always present caution and tiny anxiety in the back of my mind get a little louder and cause me to get….well, cranky and frustrated. Because I don’t want to always be cautious and anxious. I want to ride a horse, run a marathon, sky dive, bike without any cares, teach my niece to play tennis and not say no to joining my friends in an activity.

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My annual check up with my oncology surgeon arrived just in time with my blue(ish) mood (this sounds so much better than saying I was feeling sorry for myself) so I decided to express my frustration with my limitations. I am so fortunate to have my cancer care team. My doctors always devote every minute in the room to just me and my concerns. They listen, talk and share. Never have I felt rushed or silly for bringing up a topic.

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Climbing to the top of a sand dune – very rewarding!

My surgeon asked me to share what activities I do or have done since surgery. I listed biking, hiking, Zumba, yoga, rock climbing, weight training, dancing, etc. She kind of chuckled and asked what don’t I do? I started to list some of my ‘restricted’ activities but stopped. I sort of saw where she was going with her questions. Then I recalled a past conversation when I complained that during a hike on a glacier field in Alaska I had to turn back after a few miles because I was worried about falling on the slick footing. “But you hiked a glacier field in Alaska! Even a few miles is an awesome accomplishment that most people won’t or can’t do!” was the reply. I know this is true. From hiking in Montana, Ireland, Oregon, Hawaii and elsewhere to rock climbing in Canada to biking miles and miles without an ache in my knee, I am a fortunate bone cancer survivor. I accomplished these things on my own legs. My healthy body allowed me to push myself physically and enjoy these amazing moments.

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She eased my mind quite a bit about how long my hardware (medical jargon for the titanium rod, plastic knee, etc.) should last and my activity limitations. She reminded me that I know my body best and basically said as long as I pay attention for certain pains, then I could appreciate the many activities I can do. And she’s right.

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I share all this not to brag, because I know most of you can do all these activities and more, but to share the lesson I was reminded of today. Sometimes we all need a reminder of the good in our lives and all that we can do so we focus on the positive rather than allow the the negative to drain too much of our energy. Not every bone cancer survivor has both of their legs. Not every bone cancer survivor who has their two legs can be as physically active due to complications. Some walk with limps. Some are in chronic pain. So, yes, I am fortunate. I can do so much and love every minute that my body is moving. It’s freeing and a reminder that I’m alive. My example is being a bone cancer survivor, yet I am sure that each of you has a circumstance where you can appreciate what you can do.

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Who cares that I sometimes decline an activity because it’s too risky for my leg? So I can’t run anymore. I hike downhill a little slower than others. I stand on the sidelines during a volleyball game. It doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy many, many activities. Or stand on the sideline cheering on my friends, which also brings me joy. I simply embrace the accomplishment in a different way than others. I no longer take for granted that I wake up every day and walk on my own two legs. Neither should you take that for granted because you never know if someday the ease will disappear.

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The fact that I even wake up every day, breathing and cancer-free, is always the biggest blessing I count. And sometimes that’s what I focus on for that day. Because I’m human and have ‘those days’ that I feel a little down and frustrated with myself. But I allow myself those days because it brings me back to these grateful moments.

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On a side note, the really happy news for me is that my surgeon pretty much gave her blessing (with a few caveats) for me to attempt to ride this ‘little’ bike event across Iowa with Team Livestrong next summer. I’m super excited to have something to train and focus on as I think this would be the ultimate accomplishment for me as a bone cancer survivor. Stay tuned for more on my new bike and adventures!

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What are you grateful for today?

 

Gratitude project – week 4 February 29, 2016

Filed under: Life Lessons — Heather @ 4:00 pm
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As I wrap up the final week of my gratitude photography project, I feel…..grateful! Every night I lay in bed reflecting on the day’s events, conversations and moments. I am so fortunate that the positive greatly outweighs the negative in my days. I try to maintain a positive, optimistic outlook on life and I’m grateful that so much goodness helps me accomplish this goal.

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I am also grateful to all of you who read this blog, whether once, randomly or regularly. I appreciate the opportunity to share my experiences and outlook. I hear from many of you that this blog motivates and inspires you in different aspects of life. This makes me SO HAPPY! Thank you for following me on this gratitude project. Stay tuned for more fun to come!

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5 tips to motivate you to exercise January 8, 2016

Filed under: Life Lessons,Uncategorized — Heather @ 9:00 am
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It’s a new year and many people are kicking off new health goals, maybe even you.

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Many family and friends have commented that they want to focus on being healthier this year but enthusiasm often fizzles after a few weeks in an exercise routine. The most common concern I hear is how to stay motivated. Being healthy and working out have always been priorities and concerns for me, but even I sometimes struggle to stay motivated. Especially during Michigan’s winter when it gets dark as I’m leaving work, it’s cold and often too snowy or icy for me to walk around outside. I decided to share some tips that help me stay motivated to exercise regularly.

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A few of my fav Zumba ladies!

Find a workout friend (or friends). I usually am committed to and enjoy exercising enough to self-motivate myself but the past few years, I’ve discovered it’s nice, and even more motivating, to have a workout partner. My husband and I go to the gym sometimes together and while we don’t always use the same machines at the same time, knowing he is there also working out helps push me. I started attending Zumba classes thanks to my sister’s suggestion, and while I’ve grown to love the class regardless if she attends, I’ve also made new friends with several ladies in the class. Knowing these ladies will be there to share laughs, eye rolls, smiles and conversations makes class that much more fun and appealing. It’s good to have someone else hold you accountable to get moving, even if it’s just knowing they will be at class, the gym or waiting at trail head. I recently participated in a 30-day plank and squat challenge with a girlfriend where we texted each other after we’d completed the daily challenge – it was very motivating to know I had to send her a message every day as I didn’t want to let her down!

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Schedule your workout time. One of the most common excuses for not working out is lack of time. We’re all busy, whether you work, have kids, are married, whatever. I’m as busy as the next person but staying healthy is a priority for me so I make time for it. That means I schedule exercise time on my calendar, whether Zumba class, a hike, weight training at the gym or yoga in my living room. Sometimes I’m penciling in 10 minutes of ab work in the morning, a 15-minute walk break at work and 20-minutes on my exercise bike in the evening while dinner cooks! My sister’s youngest daughter attends preschool three mornings a week so she plans to schedule workout time while school is in session.

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Paintcreek_HHGChange up your activity and routine so you don’t get bored. I hear from many people that they don’t like working out at the gym because it gets boring. Thank goodness there are lots of ways to get exercise! I’ve mentioned Zumba classes, but I also love to hike, bike, walk, practice yoga, and more. Heck, I even sweat to Wii Dance Party and Zumba video games! Try activities that you enjoy. A few years ago I was hiking 1-2 times a week with friends. I did it as a way to get outdoors and keep in touch with friends, but a few weeks later I caught a glimpse  of my noticeably slimmer and toned legs in the mirror as I walked by. I enjoyed hiking so much that I forgot I was exercising!

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Reward yourself. Set a goal, whether weight loss or time commitment to working out. I once set a goal of exercising at least four times a week for eight weeks – when I accomplished that goal, I treated myself to a massage. Your rewards don’t have to be big or expensive (although feel free!). It’s just sometimes more motivating to have a fun goal.

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Buy a few cute clothing items that make you feel great. This may be a total ‘girl’ thing but if you feel good about how you look, you’re more likely to feel good working out in public. Or maybe that’s just me!

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Only you can make the commitment to yourself to get and stay healthy. You’re worth it so start making the commitment today.

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What tips do you have to stay motivated to exercise?

 

Small businesses abound in downtown Clawson December 10, 2015

For those who grew up in this small town, it’s hard to believe the changes in Clawson’s ‘business district.’ The changes are great to see – if only to encourage continued growth and success of businesses, and therefore residents. It’s no Royal Oak with the almost always busy streets…but that’s okay (in my opinion). Clawson needs to maintain the small town community feel while growing business to provide resources to its residents. It’s a careful balance. All that aside, there are some great businesses in downtown Clawson that I enjoy and think you should check out too:

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Black Lotus Brewery: I’ve enjoyed this craft brewery and restaurant since it first opened in 2006. It was one of the first non-smoking businesses in the area, and since I was a big advocate of the non-smoking law, I encouraged my friends to frequent this place as much as possible. It helps that Black Lotus brews good beer and usually has an additional good selection of guest taps. They have since expanded their food menu to include delicious options, including my favorite soft pretzel bites, barbecue chicken nachos, turkey chili and build your own burgers. And if you like to golf, especially during the winter, The Drive In offers an indoor golf simulator next door.

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Madi_coffeeKahve House: If you’re looking for a pick me up, stop by the new coffee bar, Khave. Tucked on Main Street just south of Fourteen Mile, this quaint, welcoming business offers both the standard and specialty hot and cold coffee and tea drinks. You can also nimble on tasty treats while relaxing at a table with a good book. It’s a nice getaway that usually has seating available. (Feel free to tip the young barista – she’s a working college student, and my niece.)

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Twy-Fit: After all the food and caffeine I’ve mentioned, you’ll want to work off those calories so stop by this new(er) gym on Main Street (south of Fourteen Mile). This isn’t like a traditional big box gym, in that the smaller size provides a more  personal feel and interaction with the staff. A variety of classes are offered to appeal to many interests – Zumba, yoga, kickboxing, boot camp, Pilates and more. Personal training is also available from several friendly, experienced trainers. The first class is free so really, what’s your excuse?

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Leon & Lulu: On the edge of the downtown is this eclectic shop. Whether searching for a gift, couch, wall decor or funky sculpture, you’re sure to find something out of the ordinary at this shop. For those who grew up in or around Clawson, it’s a nostalgic stop as the store fills the former Ambassador roller rink location. It’s been so transformed into a fun shopping stop that you may not recognize it but ah, the memories are there.

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D’Lazo Salon & Spa: I’ve been a client at D’Lazo for years, before it moved to this current location on Main Street. The salon offers a full range of hair treatments as well as nail service, waxing, massages and more. It’s a fun yet relaxed atmosphere to be pampered in.

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Trim: I’m going to share a secret…..while Trim is marketed as a barber shop for men (and it is), they also offer massages. And reasonably priced massages. So while their stylists are shaving faces and cutting hair, and their clients are playing pool or watching a sports game while waiting their turn, I love nothing more than being closed off from the world in their massage room with soothing music. They used to offer couples massages but are short a massage therapist right now. Now keep this a secret though because I don’t want to have to wait for an appointment.

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You can also find Flipside Records, Detroit Burger Bar, Wunderground Magic Shop and many more great businesses in Clawson. I encourage you to check them out and support this small town.

 

5 reasons you must try Zumba September 25, 2015

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I admit that when my sister first suggested trying a Zumba class years ago, I was hesitant. I love to dance but the titanium rod in my femur/knee forces me to modify movements and some activity. However, she was antsy to get on a health kick and I was eager to support her efforts. So we attended a Zumba class, which was okay. Then we attended another Zumba class with a different instructor – and we were hooked! Three years later I find myself looking forward to my weekly Zumba class. I love the music, the instructors, the other participants, the dancing.

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What is Zumba®? It’s an aerobic fitness program that mixes low-intensity and high-intensity moves for an interval-style, calorie-burning dance workout. Many movements are inspired by different styles of Latin American dance, and much of the workout is performed to Latin American dance music. The classes I attend also incorporate hip hop and pop music, which makes it appealing to me as I love those music genres too (and can sing along). You get cardio, muscle toning, balance and boosted energy in one class.

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There are many other reasons that I love this form of exercise – here are a few reasons you need to try Zumba too.

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1. You’re exercising without really realizing that you’re exercising! It’s true – I get so wrapped up in the music and following the dance moves that I often forget I’m in an exercise class. My sister, who admittedly hates exercising, loves attending Zumba classes.

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2. Everyone can do it! There is a basic count/beat that helps you work at your pace and ability. The instructor is in front of the class giving non-verbal signals so you can follow along. I modify some moves due to the titanium rod in my leg and see many others modify for various reasons. Whether you are in shape or not, trying to lose weight, or any age, you can try Zumba. There is also a Zumba Gold program that offers modified moves at a lower intensity.

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3. Music. It’s upbeat and fast. The classes I attend incorporate some Latin inspired songs but mostly use popular mainstream music. Pitbull, Black-Eyed Peas, Flo Rida, Justin Timberlake, Mary J. Blige, just to name a few.  I love these songs as I can find a beat as we learn new dance moves, plus singing along helps lose myself to having fun. My biggest worry is that one day the music will suddenly stop and everyone will hear me singing!

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4. You become part of a community. I love women and having girlfriends. But let’s face it, women aren’t always nice to each other. We judge, gossip and sometimes compete with even our friends. I don’t know why we do this but it’s been going on for centuries. I’ve found Zumba classes to be one of the few activities where most of the participants are women and the cattiness is non-existent (or at least I haven’t witnessed it). Women are friendly, supportive and have FUN together. I’ve made new friends, and love seeing familiar faces and happily welcome newcomers to the class.

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5. There is great satisfaction in leaving tired and sweaty after a fun workout. Zumba International’s motto is ‘ditch the workout, enjoy the party.’

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Photo credit: © Luckybusiness | Dreamstime.comPeople Dancing Energetic In Gym Fitness Class Photo

 

Techniques for a positive life November 3, 2014

Filed under: Cancer Tips,Life Lessons — Heather @ 7:27 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

happyquoteBetween work and life issues that never seem to stop, sometimes the walls seem to press in on me. I’ve recently been focusing on techniques to help channel my positive energy and reduce anxiety and stress.

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There are many great options to help alleviate stress, focus on positive aspects of life, reduce anxiety and help you lead a happy, productive life. I’ll touch on a few of those that helped me. I believe the first step to all of this, however, is being open to and wanting to change. It’s easy to say we want to change behavior or actions, but how often do we say that because it’s what we think we should say or others want us to say? Yep we’re all guilty of doing that in the past. But if you really, truly want to make a change, I believe you can be successful.

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I started my journey to balancing my life and spirit with a very open mind. I want to change for the better. I want to let go of the anxiety I sometimes feel about life, thanks to cancer. I want to let go of disappointment from others, knowing I can only change and control my actions and emotions. I want to let go of the pressures of work and life, and enjoy each day.

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Helpful, interesting books.

Helpful, interesting books.

There are a lot of self-help books and articles on the shelves and Internet. Some are cheesy, some too analytical or research-based for me. I have two latest favorites: The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman is a great read. It helps you find your love language. Why do that? So you understand how you react to actions and words. This particular book is focused on couples. It helps you learn your significant others’s love language so you can better communicate with each other (the author wrote other versions, including the love languages for teens (for parents), men and singles). One example is that while you may respond to words of affirmation to make you feel loved/fulfilled, your spouse’s love language may be quality time. By knowing and understanding your spouse’s love language, you can create a happy marriage. It has some great points and tips for working together toward a happy, fulfilled marriage.

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I also enjoyed reading Be by A.C. Ping. This recent read was the third time I’ve gone through this short book. My past roommate purchased the book for me after I told her how lost I felt after my dad died. It’s broken into different sections – Be You, Be Happy, Be One – to help you find a vision for yourself and your life. I also have read his follow-up book, “Do,” and also recommend that.

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I have been re-focused on a healthy living routine so am trying juicing or making smoothies with a NutriBullet. I committed to several days a week of weight training, then also add in walks through the neighborhood while the weather is still decent. Of course I’m still addicted to Zumba so make a class once or twice a week. Nothing perks me up faster than a great workout. Seriously, I can be tired and blah until the music starts in Zumba, then I’m bouncing around and laughing. There’s lots of proof that exercise increases endorphins that create positive emotions. I believe it.

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Yoga in Maui? Yes please.

Yoga in Maui? Yes please.

I’ve always enjoyed yoga but admit am terrible at committing to a regular practice (I finally understand why my mom used to state she needed more hours in one day!). There are many great yoga studios in metro Detroit but I have a tough time getting to one on a regular basis. So I was thrilled to find a video to download onto my Kindle. The Exhale Core Fusion Yoga (energy flow) includes five 10-minute sessions that focus on stretching, breathing, and core. Throughout the videos, there is someone demonstrating modifications to the moves, which I appreciate since my titanium rod sometimes makes it difficult to stretch in certain ways. Every time I turn the video on with the intention of only doing one 10-minute segment, I get so into it that I end up doing one or two more!

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Something totally new and out of my comfort zone to try is medical hypnosis. I’ve heard and read many things about this practice. It helps people lose weight, stop smoking and relieve anxiety. A friend had a very positive experience with a local therapist so I decided, what the heck? Yep, I tried it (and it’s not the hokey experience seen in movies). It’s been an interesting experience. This therapist created a CD of the hypnotherapy session so I can listen at home. The idea is to help the subconscious learn to think differently, positively and help me embrace life with arms wide open. It may sound silly but if you’re a cancer survivor, or suffered a similar life-threatening experience, then you get it. I’m so blessed to be a 16-year cancer survivor. However, no matter how far from diagnosis I am, there is always a tiny piece of my brain that worries about recurrence; always a feeling of impatience or anxiety that life can change in a heartbeat so I need to do everything NOW (and then I get anxious/stressed when things aren’t getting done fast enough). And while those things are true, I’m tired of letting those emotions sometimes control my life. In practicing daily meditations and self-hypnosis I can feel a change in my emotions and thinking – for the positive. It’s a slow process, yet an adventure of promise so far.

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I’m not one who is comfortable talking about my own problems or anxieties. I’m a fixer for others. I don’t always do well asking others to support me. So I thought I would share part of my journey in case you need support too. All of these strategies take time and commitment. Nothing changes overnight. Yet it feels so good to be taking control and focusing on positive outcomes in my life.

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What are other strategies you use to reduce stress and anxiety, and focus on the positive in life?

 

 
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