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Write it Down

September 30, 2016 by  
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If you have followed my blogs you know that I am a huge believer in goal setting. Goal setting can change your life and lift it to a much higher levels in so many parts of your life. Recently I came across an incredible book that has expanded my belief in goal setting as well as teaching me, among other things, some very fascinating science about how the setting of goals effects and influences the human brain.

The book is Write It Down, Make It Happen by Henriette Anne Klauser. She talks about and explains how writing a goal or putting a thought or question on paper alerts or activates a part of your brain known as the “reticular activating system” or RAS. As I read, I thought about my own experience and what a huge difference writing it down makes in my own goal setting. When I actually wrote the goal down on paper, rather than thinking it though and trying to set the goal just in my mind, the written goal really got to me and it wouldn’t let me go without me taking some action or at least making progress toward that goal. It’s almost like that note on paper took control of my brain and wouldn’t let go until I did something. And now after reading Klauser’s book I see that there are some actual scientific reasons for that—the RAS.

Thinking back all those years ago when I was 27 and decided I wanted to be a millionaire, I remember writing out my goal to hit a million-dollar net worth by the time I was 30 years old. At that time, I was making about $35,000 a year, so I certainly didn’t have much of a nest egg to get started toward my goal. But some very interesting things started happening in my head. My brain seemed to take over and I couldn’t help but take note of rich people and how they made their money. I began reading everything I saw that was related to making money. I read and studied various wealth formulas and financial secrets then began following and duplicating the wealth methods that I was learning from other people. It seemed that all this financial stuff was automatically falling in my lap. I see now that it must have been that good ol’ RAS at work.

One last tidbit of advice would be to start using a “tidbit journal”. As Klauser recommends, “purchase and carry with you a small memo pad to gather your ideas immediately as the come to you.” That’s great advice since it’s so easy to forget those little things that cross our minds when we are out and about. This little notepad/journal will become like a suggestion box for your brain.

Klauser goes on to say, “Carrying a tidbit journal makes you keener to the workings of the RAS. Having a wheel book or a tidbit book ready at hand stimulates your thalamus to alert the cortex, telling it, “Wake up. Open your eyes. Look and see. Be present to the signs all around you. Life is on your side”.

This is all so much good stuff. Remember writing it down starts to make it all happen. Our brains are so much better than I think most of us fully realize.

 

An Exercise Program for You

September 23, 2016 by  
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Last week I wrote about the “New Science of Exercise” as talked about in Time Magazine.  Since science has confirmed the huge benefits of exercise for both health and longevity, I thought it was pretty darn important to give some more specifics concerning exercise.

We all know that it takes mental and physical energy to make ourselves move and move enough that it really can make a difference for a good, healthy, long life.  As mentioned in the article, the World Health Organization advises “most adults to do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week and twice weekly muscle strengthening.”  But what counts as moderate-intensity exercise?

According to the article, moderate-intensity is “everything you think of as exercise plus lots of stuff you don’t, including brisk walking, playing with the kids, walking the dog, carrying heavy groceries or gardening.  Do at least 10 minutes at a time, and break it up however you want.”  This is great news because most of us could easily sneak in 10 minutes of activity here and there to make up that 150 minutes.

If you are hesitant to start or speed up your exercise program or, like many people, are not looking forward to the idea of starting a strength training regimen, please remember the ‘baby step’ concept.  You can go ahead and set big goals but concentrate on taking baby steps, especially at first so you don’t get discouraged. For instance, the recommended 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week may sound like a lot but break that up into chunks of time that work for you. It could be just two 11-minute play sessions with your kids or dog each day or 40 minutes of gardening 4 times a week or 30 minute chunks of time 5 days a week doing whatever aerobic activity sounds good that day.  Work in those two strength training sessions each week and you will be in really good shape to live a long and healthy life.

But if this still sounds like too much to take on right away, start with just 60 minutes the first few weeks—maybe 10 minutes a day with one day off–then gradually increase the number of minutes each day until you are at 150 minutes a week.

Here are a few other little secrets that have helped me with my exercise program.  First of all, I tried to work my baby steps into small but regular habits; like instead of driving down my very long drive way to pick up the morning paper I starting walking which takes about 15 minutes. Later on I started to zig zag my walk to increase the time and the total steps it took. Also, I began parking my car on the far end of the parking lot at whatever store I might need to go to. The great thing about these little activities, is that once they turn into habits, you don’t even think about what you are doing, you just automatically do it.

Another of my little secrets is that I made it a goal to get to know and hang out with more active people.  It’s also very helpful to be married to a wonderful person who seems to always be in motion. My wife helps even more by frequently asking me how much exercise or how many total steps and time I logged in for the day. Even my friends started asking me my total minutes or steps logged for the day or week. Having people around you that are interested in health and longevity and are doing it themselves, is very, very helpful and motivating. Try it and I’ll bet it works for you too!

 

 

Is There Really an ‘Exercise Cure”?

September 16, 2016 by  
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Did you see the cover of Time Magazine’s September 12-19 issue with the headline “The Exercise Cure“? That certainly got my attention! But then I wondered what did it cure? The author, Mandy Oaklanders said, “Doctors, researchers, scientists, even ancient philosophers have long claimed exercise works like a miracle drug.” She followed that up with the real attention grabber, “Now they have proof.”

Experts are not only talking about how exercise can cure sickness and disease but also how it can lengthen your lifespan. Now I don’t know about you but I find this to be pretty exciting news. After reading the entire cover story–which I recommend that you take the time to read–I’m certainly more motivated to keep up my exercise program and don’t even need to increase it. The good news is that researchers found that to get these health, curative, and longevity benefits you don’t have to go crazy with hours and hours of working out. Just regularly running or jogging for as little as 5 or 10 minutes is linked to a longer life.

In the article, examples and reasoning are discussed with Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky of McMaster University. He did a study with mice that had terrible genetic diseases. He divided the sick mice into 2 groups and for 5 months the first group was allowed to be very sedentary. (Maybe he had a mouse couch in front of a mouse TV for each of those mice in the first group? Ha ha.) The second group of mice were coaxed into running 3 times a week.

At the end of the 5 months, he found that the sedentary group was just barely hanging on. “The fur that had yet to fall out had grown coarse and gray, muscles shriveled, hearts weakened, skin thinned … even the mice’s hearing got worse. They were shivering in the corner, about to die,” Tarnopolsky says. But there was a huge difference with the second group. Quoting from this wonderful article, “… the group of mice that exercised, genetically compromised though they were, were nearly indistinguishable from healthy mice. Their coats were sleek and black, they ran around their cages, they could even reproduce. We almost completely prevented premature aging in the animals,” Tarnopolsky says.

At this point I was asking myself, “Yes, but does this exercise thing work just as well in humans?” Well, apparently it does. Doctor Tarnopolsky has found similar results happen in his ill patients–he treats kids with severe genetic diseases like muscular dystrophy. “I’ve seen all the hype about gene therapy for people with genetic disease but it hasn’t delivered in the 25 years I’ve been doing this. The most effective therapy available to my patients right now is exercise.”

Tarnopolsky now thinks he knows why. In studies where blood is drawn immediately after people exercised, researchers have found that exercise slows down the aging of cells because it increases levels of a molecule that protects telomeres so those telomeres in a person’s cells don’t shorten as fast. From everything I’ve read over the years the slower your telomeres shrink your cells the healthier your cells will be, so the cells live longer and so will you.

“Going for a run is going to improve your skin health, your eye health, your gonadal health,” Tarnopolsky says. “It’s unbelievable. If there were a drug that could do for human health everything that exercise can, it would likely be the most valuable pharmaceutical ever developed.”

So how do you go about getting the exercise you need to live a long and healthy life? Start now by getting a daily walk or run in if you don’t already. Then next week, we’ll talk more about what is recommended so you can reap the benefits of this exercise cure.

Just Do It with Baby Steps

September 9, 2016 by  
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As I mentioned last week, the way to reach huge goals is through the many little baby steps you take, one at a time, to get there. Reaching any big goal will have its difficulties but I think we all need to keep reminding ourselves that a big part of hitting our big goals is keeping focused on those baby steps and not being too hard on ourselves when our progress is not as fast as we want it to be.

This concept works for anything you are after. If one of your goals is to save up many thousands of dollars so you can make investments that will put you in a great position to retire, allowing you to do whatever you like such as traveling the world as you please like I do, you just start with a few baby steps. What those baby steps are depends on what you can manage. The important thing is to get started.

Let’s say you are on a real tight budget now and you just can’t afford to save the recommended 10% of your income. That’s okay, just make those baby steps do-able. You can squeeze your expenditures a bit and save just 2 or 3 percent for the time being, then after a while try to increase that to 5% and once you are doing that comfortably, push that towards 10%. The saving of just 2% right now might seem like it will never amount to big bucks, but over time it does add up because it helps you form a habit that makes it easier to increase the percentage as time goes on.

It’s not just money that works this way. For instance, most people would not think they could drop down and do 100 pushups without stopping, but most people could do 5, 10 or 20. To be able to do 100 pushups just use the baby steps concept by doing those 5 or 10 now and add a one or two more every other day and you may surprise yourself, and everybody around you especially if you or 70 or 80 years old, how easy it was for you to reach that goal!

The same goes for just about every goal we may set. Baby steps really can lead to world breaking records or at least big time records and success in your own life. And it’s always a good idea to share the baby step concept with your kids, parents and friends. Once they see how well you’re doing, it’s sure to motivate them to do better on their own goals. So share the idea and encourage those around you. If they follow it, they will not only feel great about their accomplishments but they are sure to give you lots of thanks and credit which feels pretty good!

 

 

 

Begin Early on Goals and New Year’s Resolutions

September 8, 2016 by  
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It sure seems like this year of 2016 is winding down at a very fast pace.  I swear, time speeds up as you get older. Time moved so slowly when I was a kid but now it seems to just fly by.  We have just 4 Fridays left of this year which means I have this and 3 more posts for you in 2016. So, for these few posts left, I’m going to suggest that we all start early working on our goals and New Year’s resolutions for 2017. Let’s not wait until the last day or two and rush through what we want to do, experience, and become in the new year.

Starting early gives us more time to really think through what we want and need in our lives and I’m convinced that we will make better choices and set realistic goals as a result.  For many people, the most difficult challenge with New Year’s resolutions is trying to figure out what they actually want.  Some New Year’s goals are easy, such as: “I would like to visit 2 new countries in this next year.”  That’s pretty easy and then you pick the countries and set the date.  But many categorizes or parts of our lives are a bit more complex.  Like personal development goals, family goals, and goals determining what we want to do with the rest of our life that will make a difference in the world.

My suggestion and challenge for this week is for us to really do some deep thinking and come up with a list of what we really want to do, become and experience in the year 2017.  And as most of us know, if we begin by writing down what we come up with, it makes the process easier.  Here are two great questions to ask yourself that may help you figure out what it is you really like and want to do and experience. These questions were derived from Marshall Goldsmith’s great book, Mojo … How to get it, How to Keep it, How to Get It Back If You Lose It.

Look back at the last few years and think though your previous goals—think about what you did and what you experienced then ask:

  1. How much long-term benefit or meaning did I experience from these activities?
  2. How much short-term satisfaction or happiness did I experience in these activities?

After answering these questions, Goldsmith suggests that you evaluate each activity or experience on a 1 to 10 scale, with 10 being the best.  You’ll then be able to see what was truly worthwhile to you. Doing this little drill can help in setting your goals for the next year, now that you know what has worked best for you in the past.

Ready? Let’s get to it!

 

Breaking Big Goals into Baby Steps

September 2, 2016 by  
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A couple weeks ago I suddenly realized that since I got a Fitbit and starting keeping track of my daily steps that my 4,000 steps a day had slowly risen to more than 20,000 steps a day. I had walked the equivalent of a third way around the world since I began with my goal of more movement and more exercise. My big goal now is to walk all the way around the world–or rather the equivalent of that.

I am a big believer in setting big goals, in just about every aspect of life. I’m talking about diet, weight control, fasting for health, and of course in financial matters. But how do you accomplish these huge goals? You take it just one baby step at a time. My January 7th blog was all about how after you set a big goal, it’s a very good idea to concentrate on taking baby steps so you are less likely to get discouraged and give up when you don’t think you are going to reach your goal.

For example, I read a study years ago that going without food for 24 hours every week or even every month is very good for your overall health, longevity and, of course, weight control. Knowing that, I started with baby steps by skipping a meal every few days and then slowly I took another baby step and skipped 2 meals in a day which lead me to go 24 hours with any food and only drinking water.

Those baby steps lead me to hit a big goal I set, one that seemed almost impossible when I set it. The big goal was to go a full week without food and believe it or not I did just that. The first and second day were the toughest but after that it wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be! And wow did I ever feel fantastic toward the end and even after it was all over. I then felt that I could accomplish almost anything in entire the world!

That is just one example of how small steps can add up to something really big. Next week I will talk about how you can do this with your financial goals and the importance of sharing what you learn when you see how baby steps can work for you.