My International Travel Promise To Myself

Copyright : Sebastien Decoret

Back in 2014, I made a promise to myself that I would visit a foreign country, preferably one I had not visited before, every even-numbered year. I designated every even year primarily as a means to give myself enough time to prepare my schedule and my finances to be able to travel every other year, and I also chose that interval because I felt a strong itch to visit a foreign country in 2014.

Why was I struck with this idea in 2014? One reason was that I suddenly realized that year that I had not taken a bona fide vacation since 2007. The second and more compelling reason stemmed from deep conversations I had with my dear friend and meditation teacher, who was quickly succumbing to a very aggressive and deadly brain tumor. On more than one occasion during my visits with him, he told me, “Don’t wait to do the things you have always wanted to do, because you might run out of time to do them.”

What Rob told me really got me thinking. I thought of how my mom had a number of big dreams dashed because she had always pushed them to the side, believing that she either didn’t deserve to pursue them, or that her dreams would never come to fruition. For example, she had entertained a strong interest in travel, but she always made excuses for why she couldn’t go on vacations or getaways. In fact, the only “vacations” she ever took were when one of her siblings fell ill or died, and she had to fly to Hawaii to visit. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t think such trips should ever count as vacations, especially since they are so emotionally difficult. It’s not like my mom went to Hawaii and had a grand time at the funerals she attended.

Though I had traveled to various destinations for reasons other than the death of a relative, I knew that I had also fallen into a similar trap of making excuses about being too busy to take a vacation. So in the Spring of 2014 I decided to travel to Prague to compete in an IFBB Pro event, and figured that I would also visit Hungary, which was on my bucket list of destinations to visit.

My friend Rob passed away on April 29, 2014. After spending several weeks grieving for him, I decided to act upon my proposed travel plans to Eastern Europe. As I was planning the trip, I realized that since I would be in prep for a bodybuilding show, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy Prague as a vacationing traveler, and also realized that I would only have a couple of days to explore Hungary. I ultimately decided not to compete, and instead booked a 7-day trip to Hungary which I completed in September of 2014.

Hungary turned out to be just as magical as I imagined it to be, and I honestly felt like I was honoring my dearly departed friend Rob when I was there. By an incredible stroke of luck, I was able to travel to Sydney, Australia and Bali the following month. Satisfied with having traveled to 3 new countries, I resolved to go somewhere new in 2016.

In March of 2016, I flew to Costa Rica, adding to my list of foreign destinations and keeping my promise to Rob and myself to travel internationally in an even year. After my Costa Rica trip, I wasn’t able to save money consistently for a trip in 2018, but whenever I had a chance to set something aside, I did.

I’m proud to say that I have fulfilled my promise yet again this year, when I traveled to the Maldives in September, and to Thailand earlier this month. Both trips were absolutely amazing, and I feel spiritually richer because of those experiences. I love the fact that I am able to say that I added six new countries in the last 5 years to my foreign travel roster, and I have every intention of adding to the list in 2020. My goal is to save up for a trip to Japan in 2020, but if I am unable to save enough money to travel to that destination, I will select a more reasonably priced excursion so that I can stay on track with my travel goals.

For those of you who are curious about what foreign countries I have visited, here is the list:

England (1980)
France (1980)
Switzerland (1980)
Italy (1980)
Germany (1980)
Austria (1980)
Greece (1980)
Turkey (1980)
Hungary (2014)
Mexico (1986, 1989, 1992)
Costa Rica (2016)
Australia (Sydney) (2014)
Bali (2014)
Maldives (2018)
Thailand (2018)

It will be exciting to think about what countries I will visit in the future. Some of the countries on my list include: Fiji, Bora Bora, Spain, Egypt, Vietnam, Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, Scotland, Kenya, New Zealand, Nepal.

For those of you who dream of traveling, but who always seem to find a roadblock when trying to plan a trip, how about setting a similar goal to the one I have set for myself? You would give yourself at least a year to save up money between trips, and you would be able to travel to destinations you’ve always wanted to see.

A Spoonful of Laughter

Copyright : Jacek Dudzinski (courtesy of 123RF.com

The curative effects of laughter are now widely known, and many people (myself included) thrive on humorous social media posts. From the time I was a small child, I gravitated towards comedy, watching Carol Burnett, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Dave Allen (does anyone remember this fella?) and Benny Hill faithfully, all the while leaving my mother puzzled by my intense interest in the funny television variety shows which were the order of the day back in the 1960’s and 1970’s. She became even more concerned when I picked up a copy of Eddie Murphy: Comedian in 1982 and laughed my ass off while listening to the album repeatedly. Eddie’s stand-up style was so off-color for my mother that she bitched and moaned about me listening to him, but I found him hilarious and kept on listening. I have the record album (yes, a vinyl LP) in my collection to this day.

My love of comedy has never waned, and though I don’t watch enough television to get drawn into current sitcoms or other comedic shows, I am in my car often enough that I have developed a habit of listening to comedy while I drive. I find it much more enjoyable to listen to comedy than music while I am in the car, and since SiriusXM has a number of comedy stations, I have them loaded as presets on my radio and rotate through them. I would much rather listen to a comedy bit by a talented stand-up comedian than to toggle through radio stations which often play the same tunes over and over. The fact that I can laugh while driving, especially in Los Angeles, is a godsend. It’s a great way to arrive at my destination in a relatively good mood, even if I have to sit through hellish traffic.

Even if you don’t have SiriusXM, you can catch some pretty amusing morning radio shows. In L.A., I like listening to Frosty, Heidi and Frank. Most large metropolitan areas host morning radio shows which are worth a listen.

Copyright : yuriz (courtesy of 123RF.com)

Move Like A Child

Copyright : maximkabb (courtesy of 123RF.com)

Have you ever given any thought to how children move? The most fidgety of kids will move constantly, and will exhibit a freedom of movement. Children as a whole are far more active and naturally athletic than most adults. Movements such as swaying from side to side, swinging arms, fidgeting, jumping, and skipping are all the dominion of the child. Ordinarily, if an adult dares to move in that manner, he or she would be regarded, and often rightly so, as bonkers.

So what happens to an adult when he or she is allowed to move freely like a child, allowing whatever impulse emerges to direct movement of body parts?

There is one yoga instructor at the yoga studio I frequent who has a habit of encouraging the students to move and shake their limbs, wiggle their hips, and just let loose during one portion of her kundalini yoga class. Do students feel silly when they begin to move? Absolutely. Does everyone begin to enjoy the freedom that such movements can confer on the body, mind and spirit? Oh yes. It is incredibly liberating to be able to shake it like you just don’t care, all in a comfortable and non-judgmental environment.

I think the next best thing to being in a kundalini yoga class with a cool yogi like the one I mentioned, would be to take a dance class, or take part in freestyle dancing at a local club. It’s a great way to de-stress and have fun in the process.

When Your Arms Are Too Short…

 

As someone who grew up with myopia (nearsightedness), I never imagined that my reading vision would fail me.  Yet I have spent the last four years holding menus at arm’s length to make it easier to read the food selections.  Within the past year, I adopted the habit of grabbing my reading glasses first thing in the morning when I grab my phone.  Do you know why?  Because my close-up vision has become so dim that if I dare to construct a social media post without my glasses, I end up finding typos on my caption or hashtags.  I’ve even gotten to the point where I wear my glasses when sitting at the computer and reading a considerable amount of material, because it reduces eye strain.  

The end result is that I either grab glasses, or wish that my arms were longer.  I also wish that restaurants filled with romantic ambience would scrap the low light conditions in favor of slightly brighter light which would make it possible for all but the most elderly and vision-challenged to see.  

Presbyopia (the age related stiffening of the lens of the eye, which interferes with its ability to contract and diffract the light) has reared its ugly head and taken up residence permanently in my daily life.   And despite the fact that I had the knowledge base to realize that presbyopia would color my life after the age of 50, I am still surprised at how sudden and noticeable the vision changes have been.  

I went from not being able to see the big E on the Snellen eye chart from my childhood into my late 40’s, to struggling to read receipts in my 50’s and wondering,  “Is that a 6, or an 8?”, or, “Is that a 3 or a 5?”  It’s pretty frustrating.  There have been instances in which I have picked up products with the intention of reading the product ingredients, but I often cannot read them at all.  

What’s really strange is that it makes me feel a bit disconnected from the world, since once sense is noticeably dulled. Who else feels that way as a result of having age-related loss of near vision?

Overcoming The Daily Grind: How Women Can Focus On Their Health

Photo via Pixabay by Stocksnap

Attention ladies…how can you focus on yourself in the midst of a hectic lifestyle? Read on to see what Sheila Olson of fitsheila.com has to say!

– By Sheila Olson

For many women, finding the time to focus on their overall well-being can be a challenge. Busy work schedules, spending time with family, and personal projects can sometimes prevent us from taking the time we need to take care of our bodies and minds, leaving us feeling exhausted and without the defenses we need to stay healthy. While having a routine can be a great thing, it can also become monotonous, leaving you with the feeling of being stuck in that “daily grind” everyone talks about.

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to boost your health and overall well-being without sacrificing the time you need to spend on other things. Making small changes to your lifestyle and routine will help you boost your energy, immune system and self-esteem, all while ensuring that you stay efficient and productive.

Keep reading for some great tips on how to get started.

Ask for help

No matter how productive you are, there’s just no way you can do everything by yourself, so don’t even try! Ask for help now and then, especially when it comes to managing your time. Not only will this help you get everything done, it will reduce stress at the same time. Think about the small things that will have a big impact, such as delegating chores to the kids or hiring a dogwalker to take care of your pup while you focus on other things.


Get in a daily workout

It may seem easier said than done, but it’s actually not that hard to fit in a workout if you know where to look. Many people think that their exercise routine needs to be done in a gym, for at least an hour at a time, with fancy equipment and gear, but the truth is, you can break up your workout into two fifteen-minute increments and get some nice results. You can also try yoga or simply use the tools you have around you including stairs instead of heading to the gym.

Eat well-balanced meals

Eating healthy isn’t always easy when you have a packed schedule; many women find themselves settling for fast food or even finishing what’s left on their child’s plate rather than making something good for themselves. If time is an issue, consider preparing some healthy meals ahead of time such as on a Sunday night and freezing them for the week. It will also help to keep quick, easy foods like pre-mixed salad, fruit, granola and oatmeal at the ready so you can make a healthy meal even when you don’t have much time.

Fuel up at work

When you spend long hours at the office, it can be hard to focus on your needs. Schedule breaks in which you can meditate, read a good book, go for a walk around the block, or eat a healthy snack. This will not only help you stay physically healthy, but mentally as well.

Getting over the daily grind and focusing on yourself is a must in today’s busy world. No matter what kind of job you have, or what responsibilities await you at home, it’s important to remember that your health matters. Find small ways to reduce stress as much as possible, and don’t forget to ask for help! Learn to say no if it takes away from some much-needed self-care; you’ll thank yourself later.

Banish Obesity for Good with These Simple Wellness Tips

Photo via Pexels

Check out this informative article by Dana Brown of Health Conditions which is chock-full of effective and easy wellness tips.

– By Dana Brown

Obesity is a lifestyle disease that plagues over 1 in 3 Americans. This causes preventable illnesses and health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, gallstones, high blood pressure, and joint weakness. Many people suffering from obesity have tried to lose weight through fad diets and trendy fitness routines only to fall back on old habits. Instead, maintain health for the long term by making wellness-focused changes to your lifestyle.

Find the Best Workout Routine for You

Starting a workout routine can be very hard if you’re struggling with obesity. Verywell Fit emphasizes the importance of finding a workout catered to you instead of joining random fitness programs because you don’t know what else to do. Find a workout that you can enjoy and stick to. Some of the best workouts for obese adults include walking, group exercise classes, and strength training. If any exercise causes pain, try something else. For example, aqua jogging is a good alternative to walking if you have pain in your joints.

Develop a Balanced Diet Plan

Avoiding empty calories is more important than cutting your calorie intake when it comes to losing weight. This means staying away from sugary foods and those containing unhealthy fats. Instead, aim to get a balance of nutrients from each meal you eat. The majority of your calories should come from fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes, and lean protein. These foods will provide your organs with the nutrients they need to help you fight disease and daily fatigue.

Make Time to Get Restorative Rest

Not getting enough sleep can be a barrier standing between you and your weight loss goals. Studies show that sleeping habits can disrupt the efficacy of weight-reduction programs. When we lack sleep, our bodies are stimulated to increase our appetite unnaturally. Sleep disruption also affects the body’s ability to control blood sugar and cortisol levels. Try to get more than 7 hours of sleep per night to increase your likelihood of successful weight loss.

Take Care of Your Mental Health

Making improvements to your overall wellness includes addressing any mental health issues that you may have. Many studies have found a link between obesity and mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression. According to experts, people tend to use food to self-medicate their emotions. Mental health issues also lead to a decrease in physical activity, which is a common cause of onset obesity. So, it’s important to cut out stress from your life and get help if you’re suffering from a mental disorder.

Ditch the Scale

What if you didn’t have to step on a scale to check your progress? According to Livestrong, avoiding the scale can be a healthier way to measure weight-loss. Scales give us an inaccurate representation of our fitness. They don’t tell us where we’re carrying excess weight or how healthy our bodies actually are. Plus, the numbers on the scale can be disheartening when they’re higher than we expect. Instead, track your progress in other ways.

First, it’s easy to tell you’re losing weight when clothes start fitting better or become baggier. You should take note of compliments made by friends and family, since changes to your body will be more obvious to other people than to you. You’ll also notice significant changes in your energy levels and how your body feels. For example, you’ll feel stronger, be able to walk farther, and feel less pain. You may also notice reduced stress and better quality sleep. These are all signs that you’re progressing on your weight loss journey.

Dealing with obesity through wellness-centered actions will help you get to the root of the problem. By changing up your lifestyle for one that’s healthier and focused on caring for your mind, you can finally keep those pounds off for good. Eventually, these actions will become healthy habits that will keep you feeling good for years to come.