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I had my usual workout yesterday but ran into an article with MANY “Aha” moments while reading up on a “Fitness” magazine at the gym while pedaling on the upright Matrix bike.

I couldn’t find it in stores–the particular version and article I wanted was in the “Eat Right” section… then I looked online and not until this afternoon did I finally find a section of that article. Here, I share it with all of you. NO EXCUSES PEOPLE!!!

Part I

“Dieting Excuses and Strategies
Oops, I did it again. I gave in to the late-night siren song of Ben & Jerry’s blaring from my freezer. As I scarf down New York Super Fudge Chunk, I come up with all kinds of reasons I need, even deserve, it. “We fool ourselves into thinking it’s okay to give in to temptation, focusing on short-term gratification instead of long-term consequences,” says psychologist Judith S. Beck, PhD, author of The Beck Diet Solution. Here, nine diet cop-outs and ways to reclaim control and ditch the excuses — and the excess pounds — for good.

Cop-Out: “I’m on vacation.”
Everyone deserves a little R&R, but when rest equals a hiatus from exercise, and relaxation means eating everything in sight, you’ll be packing more pounds on your return trip. “A few cocktails and three restaurant meals can easily sneak in an extra 2,000 to 3,000 daily calories,” says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, a FITNESS advisory board member and author of The Flexitarian Diet. “In one week, that can add up to four to six pounds of fat.”

Take charge. “Don’t plan for perfection; instead, plan to indulge in moderation by paring down portions,” Blatner suggests. Tasting the culture is part of the experience, so sample the local delicacies and skip the stuff you can get anywhere. (Brie in France? Oui. French fries? Non.) Do the opposite with vacay libations: Stick with your usual white wine or Bloody Mary as opposed to sugary, umbrella-adorned drinks. Finally, work some calorie-blasting fun into the itinerary: Go sightseeing by bike or try a new activity, like surfing.

Cop-Out: “I have PMS.”
Take comfort in the fact that symptoms like cramps and mood swings aren’t totally in your head. You may be extra susceptible to carb attacks; although we all experience fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone, certain women are more affected by them. “It’s possible that those who are prone to PMS experience a drop in the brain chemical serotonin, and that can cause a spike in appetite — especially cravings for carbohydrates,” explains Stephanie Collins Reed, PhD, assistant professor of clinical neurobiology at Columbia University.

Take charge. Tame the PMS monster by tracking your cycle at mymonthlycycles.com (or try the iPeriod app); it will help you keep your blood sugar stable while your hormones ride the roller coaster. In the week before and during your period, reach for healthy, high-fiber snacks every few hours; choose those that provide a steady release of energy and satisfy your sweet — or salty — tooth. “Dip four strawberries in two tablespoons melted dark chocolate chips and refrigerate for 10 minutes, or have three cups of air-popped popcorn sprinkled with Parmesan,” Blatner suggests.

Cop-Out: “But he’s eating all that!”
The sexes are supposed to be equal, but our metabolism never got the memo. Men burn more calories at rest because they tend to have more muscle (muscle blasts more calories than fat does). Do the math: A 30-year-old man who is five feet 10 inches tall and weighs 175 pounds burns about 2,600 calories a day, while a woman of the same age, weight and height burns a little more than 2,200 calories a day. “Women are gaining more weight because they’re consuming the same huge portions,” explains weight-loss expert Jim Karas, author of The 7-Day Energy Surge.

Take charge. Instead of eating like a man, try exercising like one, with an emphasis on strength moves. If you don’t have time to hit the weight room, do 10 push-ups and Supermans (lie on your stomach and raise your head, arms, and legs off the ground, as if you’re flying, for as long as you can; rest for 30 seconds and repeat). Do three sets every other day and you’ll build maximum muscle in minimum time. When mealtime rolls around, have half of what he’s having. (Hint: Use a smaller plate to make the difference less obvious.)”

Part II

“More Dieting Strategies:

Cop-Out: “What’s a movie without Milk Duds?”
Snacks at the cinema, chili dogs at the ballpark, chocolate cake at a birthday party — we’re conditioned to eat in so many places and situations. “It’s nearly impossible to walk into the movies and not be tempted by popcorn,” says Susan M. Kleiner, PhD, RD, author of The Good Mood Diet. “You figure everyone else is eating it, and it’s part of the experience, so you should have it too.”

Take charge. Retrain your brain so that Twilight does not equal a tub of popcorn with extra butter. Before you leave home, pack a lighter version of your usual treat (veggie-flavored Pirate’s Booty for the movies, a six-pack of light beer for the neighborhood barbecue) and, to steel your willpower, jot down what you’re going to eat. Visualize how great you’ll feel when you walk out of the theater without the weight of the butter-drenched popcorn or leave the cookout without a bloated beer belly — and how happy you’ll be when you step on the scale the next day.

Cop-Out: “I’m so stressed out.”
Blame it on evolution: When you’re under pressure, your body releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, prompting temporary spikes in energy, metabolism, and blood sugar. According to research, women who are frazzled often turn to foods like ice cream and pizza. Chronic stress is especially dangerous: Over time, high cortisol levels can lead to fat storage in the abdomen, upping your risk for obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Take charge. Blatner recommends making a list of calorie-free stress busters, which might include taking a walk around the block or listening to relaxing music. “When you get the urge to splurge, consult the list and do one of the activities for 10 minutes; that’s often long enough to distract you from the craving,” she says. If you can’t squelch your stress or appetite, opt for healthy protein (lean turkey or low-fat cottage cheese). “Protein raises blood sugar and keeps it stable for several hours,” explains Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, author of Beat Sugar Addiction Now. “Sugar helps you feel better for only about an hour.”

Cop-Out: “I’ve been good all week.”
You were the picture of dietary perfection Monday through Friday, and now it’s time to celebrate with a champagne brunch, a three-course dinner, and an evening of barhopping. Welcome to the weekend weight-gainers club! Researchers from the University of North Carolina discovered that people in the United States consume an average of 115 calories more per day on the weekend. This may not sound like much, but it adds up to an extra five pounds a year (and jeans that are way too tight). Plus, splurging on Saturday and Sunday often spills over into the workweek.

Take charge. Instead of thinking, “TGIF…I can finally eat something,” spread out your indulgences — a frozen yogurt here, a glass of wine there — through the week. Try not to make the weekend a restaurant marathon; when you are going to eat out, schedule a pre-dinner jog or post-brunch hike.

Cop-Out: “I haven’t eaten all day.”
You bypassed breakfast and hardly touched your lunch, so you feel like the queen of willpower — until you blow those saved-up calories (and more) on an enormous dinner. Skimping on meals early in the day often backfires because it boosts the production of ghrelin. This sneaky hunger hormone doesn’t just encourage you to eat; it also tells you to go for the good, but not good-for-you, stuff. A recent study found that when test subjects either fasted or received a ghrelin injection, they preferred diet-busting munchies like cake, chocolate, and pizza to veggies, salad, and fish.

Take charge. Outsmart your hunger hormones by eating every three hours; research shows that the more often people dine throughout the day, the less likely they are to be obese. “Keep satisfying snacks — an apple and almonds, cucumber slices and hummus — at your office or prepped in your fridge,” Blatner suggests. Not a frequent eater? Make it a habit by using a food diary, and jot down when you eat in addition to what you eat. If you notice you’re going more than three hours without a snack, set a timer to help you stay on track.

Cop-Out: “I need a pick-me-up.”
Ah, the mid-afternoon slump, when you want to curl up in your cubicle. Of course, you also want to keep your job, so you opt for a Snickers instead of a siesta. Turns out you’re not just lazy. Our circadian rhythms (the physical, mental, and behavioral habits controlled by our biological clocks) actually make us want to take an afternoon nap: An energy dip occurs about halfway between the time we awake and hit the sack. That means if you’re up at 7 and go to bed at night by 11, your slump will hit around 3 p.m. Because studies also link fatigue and high-carb snack attacks, the afternoon munchies mystery is solved.

Take charge. If you’re at home, take a 30- to 60-minute catnap to recharge your batteries. Researchers in Japan recently reported that it’s an effective way to boost energy and alertness. At work, go for a quick walk. A recent University of Georgia study found that just three low-intensity workouts a week raised people’s energy levels by 20 percent and decreased fatigue by 65 percent after six weeks.

Cop-Out: “I’m too busy to eat right.”
The more hectic our lives become, the less time we seem to have for our health. Case in point: A recent Cornell study found that parents who work long hours rely heavily on takeout and restaurant food. The irony is that while many of us claim we’re too busy to prepare a nutritious dinner, we still find time to watch American Idol as we wait for the pizza.

Take charge. Instead of opting for that 30-minutes-or-less delivery guarantee and settling in with your favorite show, try one of our 20-minute recipes. Or prep a week’s worth of meals ahead of time. Grilling chicken breasts and prechopping vegetables are obvious shortcuts, but you can also hard-boil eggs or even precook whole-grain pasta (simply warm small portions in the microwave or a skillet). “These foods will last in the refrigerator for five days,” Blatner says. Still too much work? Try our lazy girl’s grocery list: rotisserie chicken, frozen vegetables and unsweetened fruits, boxes of quick-cooking brown rice or other whole grains, and veggie trays with dip for a quick snack or to throw into a speedy stir-fry (without the dip). See how healthy fast food can be?”

**Helpful Hint: If you decide you absolutely MUST have popcorn, make some freshly popped at home and LEAVE OUT THE BUTTER. Sprinkle a little Parmesan on instead!

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No one is responsible for my happiness. I’ve learned how to make myself happy… however, I’m notorious for jumping the gun and trying with all my might to make someone else happy by altering my personal happiness… by conforming and negotiating and by trying to balance a relationship with compromise, I tend to give so much of myself, that if something goes wrong I’ve found myself to have become co-dependent… even if the other wasn’t able to really allow me to rely on them for much to begin with… it’s enough to set me into limbo, and that limbo scares me to death. This is a point I struggle with, but am aware of, and know it needs attention.

Agreements… clear? A healthy relationship has agreements and boundaries. We’ve come to a place agreeing on an “open relationship” and have _mutually_ set some “rules” but I am not sure if I can count on them being followed… I will do my part.

Communication… pivotal to a relationship, and during conflicts important for resolution. I tend to be the initator here, but listening has to come from both sides without prenotion or assumption… and again, this has been a huge obstacle where I find myself together with the one I love.

We need to know what we want. I know what I want… I can’t know what the other is thinking–in my case I’ve asked frequently and stories change… again, I’ve found patience is a virtue, but it’s my own choice to play the waiting game… and I definitely can’t, won’t and have no intention of even trying to change the other.

See the best in each other…

This is supposed to be a learning experience. We’re meant to grow, learn, appreciate, and work together.

Forgiveness. Really, how can we ever forgive ourselves if we don’t forgive each other? I’d never cause someone I loved intentional pain _ever_ but to feel accusation without forgiveness will sabotage a relationship. And we need to focus on putting the other person first…

Selflessness… this is another area I need to work on, but I do believe in my current situation it’s a mutual challenge right now. If we actually put the other person’s needs first, hopes first, desires first, we might not have that sense of “instant satisfaction” if it conflicts with what we want simutaneously, however we can be sure the other person is happy, and in a relationship it’s important to evaluate and re-evaluate how much you can give of yourself without losing yourself…

…and of course, COMMUNICATE EVERYTHING… ask questions, don’t assume… and explain how you feel without anger. There is no love in anger. And there is no safety in pain.

Expectations. Have none, or make them clear. I re-evaluate mine constantly and try to have as few as possible.

Responsbility: the ability to respond wihout accusation… explaining how you feel makes a world of difference, even if it makes you feel raw at first. Again… seriously, it’s a matter of emotional maturity.

Appreciate each other. I can’t even imagine being in love without appreciating my significant other–it’s foremost in my mind… I always find myself appreciating the good things, and give thanks frequently.

Admit mistakes and say you’re “sorry” even if you don’t know what you are sorry for yet–because if the other person is hurting and believes it was on YOUR account, you’d better appologize and find out what to change to make it right for both of you… it’s up to the individual… but saying “I’m sorry” comes with action. The first step is to admit you are sorry and never meant to hurt the other… and the to act on it and illustrate how to work it out for the best of you both.

Time, laughter, intimacy, safety… all requirements for a healthy relationship. Intimacy is a lot more than it sounds. It’s worth the research, and without it a deep, trusting, loving relationship cannot exist.

If a couple together can’t meet these points, it’s best to wait in limbo until they’re met, or realize you’re better off alone… and make yourself happy again. Where I stand right now is in such limbo. I wait for the unknown because I am deeply in love while also disappointed with the instability of my relationship… I need to take care of myself right now because no one is going to do it for me. …for now I wait, and hope, and I pray for a brighter tomorrow.

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Today’s Travel BLOG: Living on Pluto…

We’ve all heard the phrase, “when life gives you lemons make lemonade.”

Sometimes though, life gives us a combination of woodchips, black tar, sweetarts, and grasshoppers instead. Sometimes we travel to another planet to experience a wonder, and have trouble with the atmosphere and environment regardless… We land on a foreign planet that is marvelous in our eyes, but we can’t even breathe oxygen on it… it would kill us to stay… ok, so the real compound-question is, “when’s the last time you were in a new beautiful place and you wanted to stay forever, but all the cards are not in your favor and being played against you?” In my case, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be together on the outside… After all, sometimes there are consequences to landing in foreign places… what if you don’t have a passport? What if you’re in the wrong cultural attire? What if what if what if…??? Whether your love is a dance class, a puppy, or a person, entering in on the new relationship is foreign in the beginning, but there are often obvious consequences to new beginnings… for instance, if you broke your leg and you start a dance class, chances are you’re going to injure yourself further. In the same way, if you are married and start dating someone new, chances are you’re going to ruin your marriage. Even though I consider myself an artist, I sometimes can’t think in multiple dimensions enough to know what to do outside forces of nature, which, by the way, are greatly affecting my new involvement, yet the love itself is of purity. There is no consequence I can readily see that would kill off (no broken leg, no marriage, etc.) this pure love other than the environment we’re in… so, what does it mean? Vague? That’s ok. I am trying not to give myself away entirely here…

Some say, “Live life to the fullest.” Some say, “Put yourself first.” Others say, “Put God first.” I’ve heard, “Nothing comes on a silver platter; persistence is everything.” And I’ve heard, “When the house is on fire, LEAVE.” Ok… so, all these tid-bits are great advice, but now how to apply them? My life is full of richness and depth. I do believe any companion of mine (friend/family/partner) is probably never bored because I’m very actively involved with the world around us, and to humbly put it, “I live life to the fullest.” And yet, I’m in a very confusing place right now.

As an INFJ, I think on multiple levels constantly, caring about my life, and all the lives that touch me and I might touch, as well as The Spiritual… always on a search for meaning. My philosophy is, “if it doesn’t mean anything, it’s not worth my time or yours.”

I also believe my life shared can be more enriched than standing alone. To each his/her own, but I do enjoy companionship and all of the benefits that come with being in a relationship. Unfortunately, I refuse to define an actual “romantic relationship” any further ’cause it would include “expectations” of what a relationship would be and those are opinions at best. And so, this struggle is my lemon… this confusing new place is my woodchip cocktail… I’m in a battle with myself trying to learn what’s best for ME, what God wants of me, what my partner needs of me, how to be self-sufficiently satisfied and love without expectation, is this meaningful enough, can I do with so little time, can I manage with such a difficult family, and do I need to just be more persistent and patient waiting for the unknown within the relationship itself?

I’m divorced. I have no children. I’ve lived in various states and countries, and I know who I am. I have had multiple creative careers. I know my strengths and weaknesses. And, I know what I definitely am uninterested in as well. The planet I’ve chosen isn’t Venus or Mars, ’cause either men or women would inhabit it… the planet I’m on must therefore be Pluto because it’s ice cold and everyone related to my companion is some kind of ice scuplture–it is extremely hard to see them human at all sometimes, though I try. They’re all very talented, but I can’t chip away at the ice and it’s frighteningly freezing… meanwhile, is my “house on fire”? If it is, it’s STILL not enough to melt the freezing cold.

At the same time, somewhere else in the universe, coffee is brewing on another whole planet all together, and I’ve had many, many offers recently to travel and see new lands, other planets, peoples, cultures, families… metaphorically speaking. But my heart belongs on Pluto… maybe not WITH Pluto, but it’s there all the same… my love after all lived there first.

Ok, so what’s right and what’s wrong? What can I still do when I try not to expect? How can I revel in the infrequent moments of utter happiness, so few and far between, when I find myself suffering the rest of the time? Are those passionate moments of bliss worth fighting for; this tiny beautiful dream I’ve found waking glimpses of? Do I even need ask? I believe nothing else could compare to those moments, and so I write this BLOG in question, but with patience… and so, here I am… I can’t make real lemonade with only ice. I can’t make a true cocktail with tar. But, don’t forget, there are sweetarts too, to lessen the severity of the piercing cold… granted, I can’t live off of sweetarts forever.

    And I am a grower, creator, and lover.

It’s frigg’in cold though right here and I don’t know if my heart can continue to survive when it isn’t powerful enough to melt the ice… I have to know what to prioritize now, ’cause my universe as been turned upside-down.

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