How to Prepare for a Sugar Detox Diet

prepare for sugar detox

After you decide you’re going to detoxify yourself from the harmful effects of sugar, you should take some time to analyze your current diet. How much sugar are you eating each day? How many high-sugar foods do you eat per day instead of eating healthier alternatives because they’re more convenient … or they seem more convenient at the time?

man eating doughnut

While you’re analyzing the foods you now eat, be thinking about which food changes you could make that would help eliminate sugary snacks and sugar content from your main meals.

Identify where your sugar intake is coming from. Sugar is in so many foods it’s imperative that you know where in your diet you can make changes for the better. For example, ketchup has a lot of sugar – so you can make the swap to low sugar or sugar-free ketchup. You can even make your own no-sugar-added ketchup by using this recipe.

Write It Down

It’s important when preparing to undertake the sugar detox diet that you keep a daily food diary. A food diary can help you see where you might be overlooking a candy bar, soft drink, or other snack that you might mindlessly eat or drink when you’re having a really stressful day.

It’s best to jot the food down in the diary just after you eat it so you can plainly see where sugar might be creeping in during your day. The food diary should include details on nutritional information and all the various ingredients in certain foods that you may not know are there without reading the labels. Also, take note of what you drink – even water.

Include how you’re feeling when you eat or snack during the day. There may be an emotional pattern you can identify within your eating habits. I tend to reach for chocolate more when I’m having a hard day … or when I’m bored. Really, I reach for anything when I’m bored, but that’s when I’m more likely to reach for the sugar. 

Activity patterns are good to note as well. See where your bursts of energy occur during the day and when you have the best mental acuity. I’ll bet anything it’s not 30 minutes to an hour after you ate that donut for breakfast. I know I always feel pretty miserable right about that time.

Knowing the importance of tracking what I’m eating and how I’m feeling when I eat it is what led me to create my 30-day food, exercise, water, fitness, and emotional eating tracking journal. You can get the PDF version for free when you subscribe to my email list, or you can buy the paperback version on Amazon.

personal fitness tracker

Finally, you might want to track your sleep patterns. Here are some of the best sleep and activity trackers available on Amazon. See if your quality of sleep coincides with what you ate before bed and how hungry you are the next morning. Research suggests that eating a lot of sugar before bed can really decrease the quality of your sleep because of something called adrenal exhaustion. Adrenal exhaustion symptoms include:

  • Mild depression or anxiety
  • Multiple food and/or other allergies
  • Lethargy and lack of energy
  • Decreased ability to perform daily tasks
  • Decreased ability to handle stress
  • Dry and thin skin
  • Low blood sugar
  • Low body temperature
  • Palpitations
  • Unexplained hair loss
  • Alternating diarrhea and constipation

Adrenal hormones can affect blood sugar, and blood sugar spikes and drops can affect adrenal hormones. These things are inextricably linked. The only way to defeat adrenal exhaustion (or adrenal fatigue) is to limit the amount of sugar you put into your body … and your shopping cart.

Get ready to go SHopping

Before you get ready to shop for the food items you’ll need for the sugar detox diet, you have to get rid of the sugar traps that are already in your kitchen. Throw away the donuts and muffins (ouch!). And if you have any leftover Halloween candy, toss that too. Get it all out … even the ice cream.

Take a minute to breathe. … It’s going to be okay. I promise.

When shopping for sugar-free foods, concentrate on purchasing high-quality ingredients and whole foods such as meat, eggs, and dairy. Vegetables should be a focal point of your food shopping list. And any carbs that you buy should be of the whole-grain variety – pasta, flour, and rice. Quinoa (pronunciation: keen-wah, in case you were curious and didn’t know) is also pretty great. Even my kids like to eat it! We’ll get more into the sugar detox diet meal plan in the next post in the series, but for now I want to end with some motivating suggestions. 

Don’t give up!

Set reasonable and achievable goals for your sugar detox diet plan. It may look easy, but it may be difficult to adhere to 24 hours a day, seven days a week given the hectic pace of everyday life. Try to keep on track, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up every now and then.

As you progress through the sugar detox diet, you’ll quickly realize that ingesting snacks or a meal that consists of a high sugar content can make you feel sluggish. You won’t notice it at first because of the initial sugar rush, but you’ll feel it when the sugar wears off. You know what I’m talking about. I notice the crash when I’m not making a conscious effort to cut down the sugar in my diet, but the crash hits a lot harder when you start to cut it out all at once. But keep pushing through. As is the case with anything, it always gets worse before it gets better. Keep trying to cut out (or, at least, down) the sugar, and you’ll start feeling halfway normal again before you know it.

5 Reasons to Start a WordPress Blog

starting a wordpress blog

5 Reasons to Start a WordPress Blog

It should be no surprise that when I started this blog, I chose WordPress to host it. Well, I chose WordPress as my creation tool. I’m actually running a self-hosted site (which I’ll talk more about later). But WordPress is king when it comes to running any website efficiently and effectively. Maybe you’re not convinced (maybe you’re not even convinced you want to start a blog at all), and that’s why I wrote this post … to inspire you with some reasons to start a WordPress blog. Read on to find out more.

1 – Everything You Write Will Be Saved in “the Cloud”

If you’re anything like me, you like to write. You write a lot — anywhere and everywhere you can. I used to write everything down in spiral-bound notebooks. I’d fill up notebook after notebook after notebook … and that system worked until I had children. Then, suddenly, all my notebooks started disappearing, and I’d find them later filled with drawings and stories written in child scrawl (and sometimes my scribbled-down ideas would be written over or torn out).

The drawings and words were adorable, and it was very heartening to see that my children are so creative. But I wanted to use that paper! Now, with WordPress, the screen is my canvas. And I can generally keep my children away.  They don’t know how to log in to my blog dashboard… yet.

I’ve written things and saved them on computers too since I was a very young child (back when we had floppy disks that were actually floppy), but I soon found out how unreliable that was … Computers crash and burn, and sometimes you can’t restore the data that’s on them. I can’t tell you how many story ideas I’ve lost because I didn’t save them before my computer decided to die. You can solve the computer dying problem somewhat by emailing everything to yourself after you write it, but who remembers to do that all the time? I don’t.

When you create your posts in WordPress, you can write, edit, and save everything in “the cloud.” I’m still not exactly sure what the cloud is, but I know I like it a lot because it automatically backs everything up for me. Many people will tell you to write your blog posts in a Word document first, and then copy that into WordPress just in case WordPress crashes, but I’ve had more trouble with Word crashing and not restoring my documents than I have with WordPress, so I can’t see how that’s a very good idea. If you’re really afraid of something like happening, you can start out with Google Docs (which also saves to the cloud), but again I’ve had more trouble with lost documents on that platform than I have had with WordPress. I love WordPress’s automatic backups. I trust them 100%.

2 – You can Pick and Choose among numerous themes

Chances are, if you’re starting a blog you want people to read it. And the first thing people are going to notice when they come to your blog is how it looks. Your WordPress theme is what determines this. There are hundreds of available WordPress themes for websites, both free and paid. I’ve never felt the need to purchase a premium theme. The free WordPress themes look and work just fine, as far as I’m concerned. 

My current theme is the twenty-sixteen one. I love how clean and non-distracting it is. There’s plenty of white space, which is especially important for online reading. It kind of feels, to me, like you’re reading your favorite magazine. And that’s pretty cool!

3 – The Plugins Make your website awesome … and profitable

This is one of my most favorite things about a WordPress blog, and it’s the #1 reason why I totally recommend you start your own self-hosted site. I use GoDaddy, but a lot of people recommend SiteGround. I’ve heard some good things about Bluehost and A Small Orange as well. The main thing is: you want to host your own site. Yes, I know WordPress.com gives you “your own site” for free (Notice I put your own in quotes? There’s a reason for that!). I even went that route for my own site, mishaelaustinwitty.com. But I totally regretted that decision because I quickly learned who was really in control of my site. You got it: WordPress!

One of the main things missing from a free WordPress.com blog is that you don’t have access to all those awesome plugins (condensed, yet fully functional software programs). You do have access to some, but not all. And I wanted access to all of them, which is why I decided to self host when it came time to start this blog.

Plugins add some totally cool (and often useful) functionality. There are plugins for almost anything you can think of. You can add a contact form to your site. You can get plugins to make it look like it’s snowing on your website. And there are even plugins that can help your make money. For example, check out this great list of 15 Great WordPress Plugins to Help You Make Money Online.

One of my favorite plugins is strictly aimed at improving SEO (search engine optimization) functionality. SEO is what helps search engines like Google (or Bing or Yahoo) find your site. And, believe me, you want them to find your site. If they don’t find it, nobody else will. Then you won’t get your message out to the world, and you certainly won’t make any money from it (which is really, after all, why a lot of people start a blog in the first place).

The All in One SEO Pack is the best way to optimize your site. It’s easy to use (even I was able to figure it out), and it’s totally free. I first discovered the All in One SEO Pack going through the training at Wealthy Affiliate I made sure I filled out all the plugin information for each of my blog posts, and I saw some major traffic improvements in no time (Google is now my #2 source of traffic (behind StumbleUpon). If you’re at all interested in making money with your site, you HAVE to have access to plugins. No way around it.

4 – you can have a blog and a website all rolled into one

Say you’ve got a product to sell, and you want to start your own website to sell it. WordPress is the best way to do that. Online stores are great, but blogs are even better. With a blog, you have more content that is updated on a more regular basis. Remember SEO? Search engines love updated content, and they love frequently updated content even more.

And with a self-hosted WordPress blog, you have complete control over both your online store and your blog. You don’t have to split the profits with anyone (like Etsy, who charges you an upfront listing fee AND takes a cut of every sale). You keep EVERYTHING you make, and you’re at the mercy of NO ONE. WooCommerce is a free plugin that can easily up you create your online store in minutes, and if you use Bluehost for your hosting, you can automatically integrate it into your site. This is especially awesome if you don’t have a lot of technical knowledge (or interest in the technical side of blogging).

5 – If you don’t want to do it yourself you can easily outsource

Speaking of not having the knowledge or interest to do some things for your blog…

One great thing about having a WordPress blog is that there are a lot of people who know a lot of things about WordPress, and they would be more than happy to help you figure things out (or do things for you – you just have to allow them to sign up as an admin) … for a price.

Note: If you’re willing to let someone else sign up as an admin on your site (I do not recommend this), it has to be someone you really, really trust. Preferably, this will be someone you know personally, outside of the online world.

But there are tons of blogging tasks that you can outsource without giving someone else access to your site, like:

 

  1. Create custom infographics to correspond with your blog post.
  2. Create content upgrades – Give some added value to each and every blog post.
  3. Design social media graphics – Images to share, share, share … and get more traffic to your blog
  4. User test your website or blog – Do you really know what your site visitors’ experience is like? A user test will tell you.
  5. Write blog posts/articles – Note: You will still have to upload these yourself, but it can save you a ton of time. Writing takes forever. I’ve been working on this post for DAYS.
  6. Design blog graphics – Blogs are visual, so you have to add pictures to enhance the user experience. Somebody has to come up with them, and finding the right image (like writing the best content) can take time.
  7. Create custom forms – Remember that contact form we talked about earlier? It’s got to come from somewhere.
  8. Create a favicon or logo – What’s a favicon? It’s a special image that can help add identity and branding to your site. And if you don’t know what it is, you might need someone to help you design one.
  9. Design printables or ebooks – This can fall under the category of content upgrades, or these can be freebies you offer to email list subscribers.
  10. Write email sequences – After you get email subscribers, you will need to send them something, which means more writing … and more time spent writing. Let someone else do the work for you.
  11. Design an ebook cover or landing page – you’ll need something to drive potential email subscribers to your freebie offer. That’s what a landing page does
  12. Do keyword research – This is a biggie, and a lot of people don’t know where to start. You can find someone else who knows their stuff and can help you pick just the right keywords to rank on Google and get more visitors to your site.
  13. Create a content marketing plan – Do you have a plan for your blog … or for what to do with the content after you create it? Don’t know where to start? Let someone else come up with the plan for you.
  14. SEO audit – How does your site measure up in terms of SEO? The right virtual assistant will be able to tell you.

Where can you find someone who can do all these things for you? You’re not likely to find one person who can do ALL these things, but you can find several people who can do one (or more) of them. If you hire a bunch of different people to do things for you, then you’re going to want to find the best price possible. And there’s no better place to find the best price on a bunch of helpful services than Fiverr.com.

blogging tasks you can outsource to fiverr

 

You can literally find someone there to do each of these things, starting at only $5!

So, this is the first half of reasons for why you want to choose WordPress for your blog, but they’re pretty good ones, huh? Just wait till you see what comes next!

Which of these reasons resonates with you most? Is there something I’m missing? Let me know in the comments.

Ideal Shake Meal Replacement Review

ideal shake meal replacement reviews

A couple of months ago, I was looking for lower sugar food options, and I came across a meal replacement shake from Ideal Shape. I bought the slim down starter kit (it was only $10, so I didn’t have much to lose), and I’ve been going through it a little at a time.

THE BARS

I started with the ideal shape bar (the double chocolate one), and that tasted just like a brownie … just with a little less sugar.

ideal shape protein bars

THE SHAKES

Then, yesterday, the girls were pouring out milk into glasses (whole milk – I’m not all that concerned about reducing fat), and I remembered I still had those sample packets of the Ideal Shake I’d never tried.  I thought it might be a good idea to get them in on the taste testing — not that they need to lose weight; I just wanted a child’s perspective on how the shakes tasted. When I mentioned we could make shakes, the girls were all over it.

I made the chocolate for myself (I’m a sucker for chocolate), the older girl had the vanilla, and the younger one had the strawberry.

ideal shape shakes

I ended up having a little of all three because, well, I was the one who paid for them, and I wanted to try them all out to see how they compared to each other. And, yes, I did let the kids try my chocolate shake too. I’m not opposed to sharing!

I loved the chocolate. It was so delicious, thick, and creamy. My older girl wasn’t really impressed with the vanilla (out of all three, it was my least favorite), but my husband finished it up in no time flat and proclaimed it to be equally delicious. His exact words when he finished the shake were, “We need to get more of this.” This is a big thing, because he is a super picky eater.

The clear winner, though, was the strawberry shake. I liked the taste of the chocolate, but the strawberry was a whole other taste experience. Creamy doesn’t even begin to describe it. It was like the best strawberry ice cream I’ve ever had melting on my tongue in smooth waves. So, so good!

You know what I really love about the Ideal Shakes? They have 11 grams of protein and 1 gram of sugar. You read that right: ONE GRAM OF SUGAR!!! But they really tasted like they had more than that, even my husband thought so. Obviously, there was some sugar in the milk (about 12 grams in a cup of whole milk), but compared to other milkshakes that’s basically nothing (which makes this the perfect shake to use as a meal replacement on the sugar detox diet).

THE HUNger block

I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical at first concerning the claims that it can block hunger for three hours, but I soon became a believer. I drank my shake at about 2 in the afternoon and tried to eat pizza at 6:30 PM. I got one slice down, and that was IT. Usually, I can eat about two or three slices, but not after enjoying that delicious shake. I had to stop at one!

So, 206 calories for the shake plus one cup of whole milk plus 350 calories for the piece of pizza = 556 calories, compared to my usual 700-1050 calories for two to three pieces of pizza.

Wow! I just realized how much of a difference that really made in my daily diet. Besides that, the Ideal Shakes have a whole lot more vitamins and essential nutrients in them than a piece of pizza does. I’m SO buying more of these shakes!

one word of caution

I’ve gotten into the habit of drinking coffee in the afternoon. On the sugar detox diet, you’re supposed to give up caffeine. I have not gotten that brave yet. My caffeine addiction is real … and it’s bad.

My husband fixed me my afternoon cup and got one for himself. This was about an hour or so after we had the shakes.

Note: You’re supposed to drink a full glass of water to activate the hunger blocker in the shake, but neither my husband nor I did that. I did drink some water after that, but i don’t think it was a full 8 ounces. You’re supposed to drink 16 ounces of water after you eat the IdealBar.

We both noticed a couple of hours later that our stomachs felt terrible … churning, nausea, and a whole lot of gas! This also made food less desirable for us, but I have to think that the coffee somehow reacted badly to the ingredients in the shake. Because of this, I don’t think I’ll be drinking any more coffee after I have a shake, and I don’t think anyone else should try it either.  Maybe something else caused our stomach upset, but I just don’t think so. The timing was just too perfect.

I can’t wait to buy more!!

I’m pretty sure our whole family is addicted to these shakes now. I can’t stop thinking about them, and even my husband is trying to figure out how to work it into our budget. We’re on a needs-only plan right now because money is kind of tight, but I think everyone in this family is thinking we need these shakes.

Not that my husband and my girls need the weight loss aspect of the shake, but the hunger block didn’t seem to work on my girls, anyway. They were ready to eat again an hour later. Still, everyone can benefit from the vitamins and minerals that are in these shakes — 20 of them, in fact:

I’ve already got three more tubs in my shopping cart, and I’m thinking about trying them with almond milk next time … or maybe water, to reduce the calories even more.

Next up

I still haven’t tried the Ideal Boost weight loss drink. I’ve got sample packets of the Pineapple Passion and Peach Mango flavors. I’m going to try one of these tomorrow instead of my afternoon coffee to see if it helps me stay awake past 7 PM. These drinks have as much caffeine as one cup of coffee, and they are chock full of B vitamins, so I’m hopeful that they will give me some much needed energy.

I’ll report back on how the Ideal Boost experience went as soon as I can. I can say, however, that as impressed as I’ve been with the other Ideal Shape products so far, I can’t imagine the Ideal Boost disappointing me … or anyone else! If you haven’t given Ideal Shape a try yet, I highly recommend that you do so. Your body will thank you for it!

 

Is a Sugar Detox Diet Right for You?

is a sugar detox diet right for you

Who is the sugar detox diet right for? Anyone. Practically everyone in the world can benefit from the sugar detox diet.

Not only is sugar bad for all of us, but it’s also addictive and can cause many health and lifestyle problems. If you have frequent cravings for sweets, bread, pasta, fruit juice, and even snack between meals, you may be living a sugar-dependent life.

An addiction to sugar may cause mood swings, low energy, sleeplessness, and anxiety. You may also find it difficult to concentrate after a meal. Weight gain is another serious problem for those who crave sweets.

breaking the sugar addiction

Obesity can be directly linked with the amount of sugar you consume. Eliminating it from your diet will cause immediate weight loss that will most likely stay off for good. When you effectively eliminate sugar from your diet, you’ll notice much improvement in many of the health problems you may have, in addition to the definite weight loss.

Those who are suffering from severe health problems such as metabolic syndrome (insulin malfunction), hypoglycemia symptoms (low blood sugar), chronic pain, skin problems, hair loss, and dental problems will also notice significant and positive differences by giving up sugar.

When you realize that some form of sugar is in everything we consume (have you been reading the labels on the food in your pantry and freezer?), it seems daunting to enter into the sugar detox diet plan. You have to spend some time getting to know what the good and bad types of sugars are and how they make your body react before you can choose the right foods for this diet. You’ll also need to know foods that contain hidden sugars – and they may be hidden where you would least expect it. 

Unfortunately, millions of Americans suffer from high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and just feeling crummy. In fact, those problems have become the new normal — and they are all linked in some way to sugar consumption. The sugar detox diet can turn your life around and help you feel good again, and it can do so in a way that will prevent withdrawal symptoms, like nervousness, anxiety, or severe cravings. 

Note: If you’ve consumed a lot of sugar daily for a long period of time, you may experience what’s known as the Herxheimer response, otherwise known as yeast die-off. You see, when you eat a lot of sugar, you make a really nice, hospitable environment for bad gut bacteria and yeast. When you stop eating so much sugar, the yeast don’t have anything to eat, so they die … and they make sure you feel pretty miserable by setting off a whole lot of toxins. You can avoid yeast die off symptoms by taking things slowly and using liver-supporting herbal supplements, like milk thistle.

Still, if you’re sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, the sugar detox diet may be exactly what you need — as long as you take it easy!







What Is a Sugar Detox Diet?

 

sugar detox diet

Do you have a sweet tooth? I know I do.  If you’re anything like me, your love affair started when your grandmother gave you your first homemade chocolate chip cookie (or sugar cookie, in my case). And I remember Kroger bakery handing out free cookies as reading rewards when I was in elementary school. I loved getting those free cookies!

Now, cookies and cakes and other baked goods aren’t the only foods that contain sugar. It’s also present in canned goods, bread, milk, juices, and  so much more – and it can be deadly. If you suspect that your weight and health are being ruined by too much sugar, it might be time to consider a sugar detox diet.

Basic Principles 

Cravings for sugar are stronger than for other types of foods – and there are good reasons for this. Our tongues contain up to 5,000 taste buds and up to 25 receptors that tell us when something is bitter. But there is only one receptor for sugar.

That one receptor can differentiate between different types of sugar and leads to certain responses within the body. The type of sweetness that comes from processed sugars causes a powerful outpouring of opiates (endorphins) that instantly make us feel content and relaxed.

sugar is more addictive than cocaine

Knowing that sugar is just as (or even more) powerful than any drug available today, it is easy to see how addictive it can become. The sugar detox diet is a sugar withdrawal plan that helps you stop sugar cravings cold turkey (without stress) and learn how to live a sugar-free life.

Breaking the addiction to sugar without the stress it usually causes is the ultimate goal of this diet plan. If you adhere to it, you’ll notice that your metabolism will heal almost immediately, and other diseases like diabetes will markedly improve.

Pros and Cons of the Sugar Detox Diet

The pros of the sugar detox plan are many. You’ll lose weight, improve digestive problems, counteract depression symptoms, and lower your risk of cancer, thyroid disorders, chronic pain, and so much more.

The only cons of the sugar detox diet are in the learning and preparation processes. You need to take time to learn how sugar affects you and know which foods contain hidden sugars so you can avoid them. Reading labels (and knowing what to look for when you read them) is absolutely essential.

Removing items in your kitchen pantry and refrigerator that contain harmful sugars and replacing them with fresh, organic items may take some time and getting used to, but the benefits of the sugar detox diet are so plentiful that you’ll soon be glad you put in the effort.

Next week, I’m going to go into how you can know if a sugar detox diet is right for you, so stay tuned!








Fear of the Gym – 9 Ways to Overcome It

Fear of the Gym – 9 Ways to Overcome It

fear of the gym

Going to the gym can be scary, especially if you’re new to working out. The thought of going into a busy gym where you seem to be the only one who doesn’t know what they’re doing can be overwhelming. You may have visions of walking into the gym, and everyone turning to look in your direction.

Can you picture the judgmental stares as the others check out your love handles and pot belly and think, ‘What is SHE doing here?’ The thoughts may even give you nightmares. The fact is, you are there to get into shape, same as anyone. That thought alone should keep you going. But no matter how your fear of the gym manifests itself or how strong it is, you can overcome it with a little preparation and a few tricks. Here are 9 of the best ways to overcome your fear of the gym.​

No matter how your fear of the gym manifests itself or how strong it is, you can overcome it... Click To Tweet

Choose a Gym That Works for You

Make sure you do your research when you go to choose a gym. Gym memberships can be a big commitment. Make sure the facility you choose has the equipment you need and want, and check out their group classes to see if they offer anything you might be interested in.

Always wanted to try Zumba (I know I have), and you see that the gym down the street offers a few classes at times that are convenient for you? Go for it! Knowing that a gym will meet your needs will help keep you focused, calm you down, and make going in on the first day that much easier.​

Not sure exactly what you’re looking for in terms of a gym? Check out this article for some ideas.

Tour the Gym Before You Commit

If you didn’t tour the facility before joining (and I really recommend that you do), you will need to schedule a tour before you go to work out for the first time. Most gyms will be more than happy to give you a tour at your request, and many require it for new customers.

Here’s a list of some of the companies that have the best gym membership deals out there:

  • Life Time Fitness
  • Gold’s Gym
  • Anytime Fitness
  • 24 Hour Fitness
  • Planet Fitness

The locations and availability of these companies varies (as do their monthly costs), but most offer a free pass you can use to try them out.

Another good, fairly low-cost option is your local YMCA. Don’t forget to look there in your search for the perfect gym.

Meet with a Gym Personal Trainer

If you are new to working out, schedule an appointment with a personal trainer. They can teach you how to use equipment, give you information about fitness or workout routines, and answer any questions you might have.

You’ll be way more comfortable on your first day at the gym if you have some idea of what you’re going to be doing. And it’s always better to go into these situations with some support, which is what a personal trainer can offer in addition to the fitness knowledge.

Research Equipment and Exercises Before You Go

If you choose not to make an appointment with a personal trainer, you’ll need to research the equipment and exercises, at the very least, ahead of time. This will give you some basic knowledge and will prepare you for your first visit.

Here are some sites to visit to give you some idea of the most common types of gym equipment and how to use it:

Plan Your Workout

Before your first visit to the gym, plan your workout. Have an idea of what you will do during your time at the gym, and you will be way more likely to stick to the routine.

If you’re new to fitness, choose a pre-made workout regimen to begin. Check with your gym of choice to see what they recommend. They should be able to guide you. Start slow, and you can always change it up later when you’ve gotten more experience.

Go During Non-Peak Hours

Choose non-peak times to visit the gym until you’re more comfortable. A less busy gym is a lot less intimidating than a busy one is. You will also be able to make it through your workout with less pressure, and you’ll be able to take your time.

Peak hours are generally mid-morning (between 8 and 11 AM) and early evening (4 to 7 PM). Remember those judgmental stares we were thinking about earlier? There will be a lot fewer of them if you don’t go to the gym during these hours. That’s why it might be better to visit a gym that’s open 24 hours a day, so you can be sure the gym will be open when there will be fewer people there.

Put Together a Rockin’ Playlist

Music is a great way to calm anxiety. You can listen to your favorite songs, or put together an upbeat playlist to enhance your workout. Here’s an awesome cardio workout playlist that’s available to stream on Amazon if you’re a Prime customer like I am. 

Focus on your favorite tunes (or maybe the latest audio version of the book you’ve been dying to read), and you’ll be less likely to focus on the others around you. This will improve the mindfulness (and effectiveness) of your workout.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

This is a biggie. Whatever else you do, try not to compare yourself to others.

You know those other people there at the gym? You don’t know where they were when they started, and you don’t know their story. Maybe they were once afraid like you are (and maybe the looks on their faces aren’t as judgmental as you think they are).

The only person you should worry about when you are at the gym is yourself. Compare your today to your yesterday (not anyone else’s), and gauge your progress on what you can accomplish day by day.

Don’t Let Fear Get in the Way of Your Health

Going to the gym can be scary for anyone, especially for someone beginning their fitness journey. I know. I’ve been there. But you can’t let that fear keep you from achieving your fitness goals. Use the tips in this blog post to overcome your fear of the gym. Don’t let that fear keep you from being the best, healthiest version of you.

Why Wellness Now – 2017 End of the Year Performance Review

end of the year performance review

2017 is drawing to a close, and I’m starting to see a lot of people post “year in review” posts on their blogs. I like reading them because I find them interesting. After all, we’re all kind of on this blogging journey together. So, I thought it would be cool if I came up with my own “year in review” post. And this is it.

2017 was a big year for this blog, because it was the year this blog began. I actually started this in the middle of October 2017 because I wanted an online outlet for promoting the many direct sales businesses I’m a member of. However, this blog quickly became much more than that. Now it’s dedicated to all things health and wellness, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m making it more about helping others, rather than just helping myself. And that’s (I’ve found) one of the best ways to find true happiness in this life.

In the 10 or so weeks that this blog has been in existence, I’ve written 26 posts (including this one). Here’s a list of my 10 most popular ones:

5 Tips for Eating Clean

5 Ways to Naturally Boost Your Immune System

Stop Sabotaging Your Health!

Why I Joined Norwex

3 Must-Have Productivity Tools

Put a Little Mud (Mask) on Your Face

Increase Your Happiness by Reaching Out to Others

Must-Have Gifts for People Who Love Essential Oils

Seven Ways to Beat Anxiety Naturally

4 Reasons You Might Want to Stop Drinking Alcohol … At Least for a Little While

LESSONS LEARNED IN 2017

  1. Don’t ignore StumbleUpon if you want steady, targeted traffic. In addition to my discovery that I needed to make this blog less about me and my search for online income, something else big happened in 2017. I learned the power of StumbleUpon. I started really buckling down and using it the right way (stumbling 10 of other people’s posts for every one of my own), and I saw a crazy surge in traffic. In fact, it is now my #1 source of traffic. Lesson learned.

Here’s what my traffic stats looked like in 2017

  • October: 698 hits (367 unique)
  • November: 4173 (1004 unique)
  • December: 16,118 (5,798 unique)

Can you guess when I started upping my StumbleUpon strategy? Yeah, it was December.

Don't ignore StumbleUpon if you want steady, targeted traffic. Click To Tweet

2. You can’t (and shouldn’t) go it alone. I never really wanted to blog alone. Part of the reason for starting a blog is so you can connect with other people, but when you connect with other bloggers and help them develop their blogs while they help you develop yours … that’s something like magic.

I joined ViralContentBee and started dedicating at least part of my blogging time to promoting the blog posts of others. In return, the others on the site promote my blog posts. Social sharing is critical when it comes to getting people to see your blog, and social social sharing is a win-win for everyone involved.

I also joined a Facebook group for women bloggers (sorry, men!) that is really active and awesome. There are daily threads where you can post your blogs and/or social media accounts. You share other people’s, and they share yours. Again, it’s a win-win.

Finally, toward the end of this month I joined what is probably going to be the single biggest deal for my blog going into 2018, the Wealthy Affiliates community and training program. For just $49 a month ($19 for the first month), you get access to what is basically an affiliate marketing university. It’s awesome.

Oh, you also get unlimited access to the equally awesome Jaaxy keyword research tool. That totally makes it worth it to me. If you’ve never tried this keyword tool, you can try it out for free (up to 30 searches per month). But if you’re anything like me you’re going to want to opt in to the paid program because keyword searching becomes so addictive after a while.

You can't (and shouldn't) go it alone. Click To Tweet

3. You can make money, but you can’t make millions overnight. No matter what anyone tells you or what you may want to believe, you cannot make millions of dollars overnight with a blog. At least, you can’t do it without getting your site penalized for black hat tactics. I decided a long time ago that that was not the way I wanted to blog, and I’m sticking to it.

My ultimate goal is to make $1000 per month with this blog, although I’d be over the moon thrilled if I got up to $5000 per month. I think I could quit my day job then. For now, my blog income is looking pretty pathetic.

I wrote one ebook, one paperback journal, and one freebie checklist (all of these can be attained for free by signing up to my email list. I posted the ebook and the journal for sale on Amazon, and I’ve made a little bit of money selling those. In fact, I’ve had more luck selling the books than I have gaining email subscribers by giving the books away. In the three months I’ve been blogging, I’ve gained two email subscribers (and lost one – when I sent a “Happy Thanksgiving” email, go figure!). So, now I have all of 24. Building my email list is something I’m going to focus more on in 2018, for sure.

Here’s a breakdown of my blog income for 2017 (don’t laugh; please don’t laugh! Everybody has to start somewhere, right?):

  • October: $0 – Yep, that’s right. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
  • November: $2 (ebook and journal sales)
  • December: $7.67 (ebook sales and Amazon affiliate sales)

As you can see, I am pretty far from reaching my goal, but my income is steadily increasing. And, as I plan to release my first Thinkific course some time during January 2018, I’m expecting my income to increase even more. I don’t think my goal is as far off as it seems, although I know I’ve still got a lot of work to do to get there.

You can make money, but you can't make millions overnight. Click To Tweet

Blogging goals for 2018

  1. Learn how to increase email subscribers and do it.
  2. Finish Thinkific course and start promoting that through the blog (and the blog through the course).

2017 has been a year filled with blogging success for me. There have been a few setbacks and some disappointments, but overall I’m choosing to focus on all the progress I’ve made in these last few months of 2017.

What blogging successes and/or failures have you had in 2017? What are your goals for 2018? Let me know in the comments!

Increase Your Happiness by Reaching Out to Others

ways to boost happiness

INCREASE YOUR HAPPINESS BY REACHING OUT TO OTHERS

“Do what makes you happy.”

Have you heard that as much as I have? You have if you’ve ever felt dissatisfied with a job or any other professional or personal situation. In fact, you’ve probably heard that advice until you’re sick to death of it. This advice is not helpful, and it’s at least slightly misguided.

In today’s world, the pursuit of happiness is a deeply ingrained concept. We’re taught to expect our lives to be fairly happy, and we’re encouraged to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal. 

But, as is the case with everything else in life, happiness isn’t that simple to attain, and it may not even be something we really should want to achieve — at least not by itself. Let me explain…

What Is Happiness?

First of all, happiness refers to what you can get from others and your environment. In other words, you’re happy when your material and emotional needs are fulfilled. Happiness is based on circumstances. When things are going well, we’re happy. When things are not going well, we’re not. In that sense, happiness can be a fickle and fleeting thing. 

One of the main social psychology measures of the achievement of happiness is Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Outdated though it may be, it gives us an idea of what people need to be happy and how important those things are in each area of our lives – from basic biological needs like food and shelter to more elevated needs like self-development and creativity.

However, fulfilling these needs doesn’t always make us happy. And in many cases, the fulfillment of these needs may directly conflict with the happiness we seek. For example, you get a job that pays enough to cover basic needs for food, shelter, and security, but it gets in the way of your need for creativity, flexibility, and freedom. How happy are you, really, then? Not very, right? 

Moreover, we tend to think of happiness as static — you either have it or you don’t. However, this is not the case at all. Instead, happiness is fluid and, as I mentioned before, often fleeting.

Happiness is fluid and often fleeting. Click To Tweet

So, is the pursuit of happiness an illusion?

Not necessarily. Instead, to find true happiness, you must first redefine it.

We can redefine happiness by making it broader. It’s not just about the nice, satisfied feeling you get when your needs are met, or when you receive something pleasant from someone else. It’s also about what you can give to others — and how giving gives you a purpose and a connection to your community.

According to psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, giving helps you reaffirm your very humanity. It makes you forget yourself, and give yourself over to the person in front of you. This is the basis of the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31). And it’s even one of the commandments Jesus gave us while He was on the earth (Mark 12:30-31). So, this concept — that of increasing your happiness by increasing the happiness (and meeting the needs) of others — is not a new one, either in the secular or spiritual world.

Luckily, you don’t have to change your entire routine to switch the focus from your own thoughts and needs to those of someone else.

There are a few simple things you can do right now to start giving more:

Listen.

See every conversation as a chance to connect with a person. Instead of just waiting for your turn to speak, pay attention to every word the other person is saying. Notice the tone of his voice and his body language. And don’t forget to ask questions to keep the conversation going.

If you need more help in learning the art of conversation, check out these popular books on Amazon:

Build things for others.

Can you knit, make origami figures, or draw? Maybe you’re good with a hammer and saw or with weaving words together to create a magical poem or story.

Whatever creative skill you have, use it to make something. Then give your creation away without expecting to receive anything in return. That’s what random acts of kindness are all about, even though they might not always be so random. Some of them are planned well in advance (especially if you’re the giver).  

Be kind.

Make it your mission to be kind to others every single day. Believe it or not, little acts of kindness can be contagious (and they probably won’t seem nearly as little to the recipient as they seem to you). Have you ever seen the movie Pay It Forward? It’s one of my favorites. If you haven’t seen it yet, buy or rent it on Amazon. Tonight. Seriously. It’s awesome.   

If you watch the movie, you’ll probably get some ideas about some nice things you can do for others, but if you need more ideas here are a few:

  • Compliment someone. Notice if she did something with her hair.
  • Help him carry his groceries out to his car.
  • Offer to do some extra work to help out a coworker. 

If you need more ideas, check out this book. It has more than 500 ideas you can use to bring some joy into someone else’s life, even if only for a moment.

Volunteer.

Take five minutes to think about what’s important to you. What are your values? Is there a cause you’d like to champion? Do you have time or skills to give away to that cause?

Maybe you’d like to read books to blind children or sing some songs with the elderly in a nursing home. What about teaching English to immigrants or host guided tours at your local historic site?

Whatever it is you like to do, think about how you can do it and be of use to someone else at the same time. Then, go out and find an organization that will let you partner with them as a volunteer.

 

Become a mentor.

We all started somewhere. We’ve all been lost, confused, and tired. However, you at this moment have answers and insights that can help out someone who is just starting out on his or her journey. 

Maybe you’ve come up with 30 Crock-Pot meals you can share with someone else who needs to save time and money when making dinner. Find those people, and help them. Maybe you’re a seasoned pro at blogging, and you can help someone who’s just starting out with blogging.

I’ve just recently signed up as a premium member with the Wealthy Affiliate community (a community and extensive training program aimed at helping people build their affiliate marketing businesses). So far, I’m loving the support and information I’m getting. I’m being mentored right now and, someday, I hope to be able to mentor others.

By giving, you’re creating connections with those around you.

Life stops being just about seeking satisfaction and it takes on a deeper layer of commitment (the Bible calls this joy). Life is no longer all about you. It’s about creating a positive effect on other people’s lives.

An old Chinese proverb states, “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.”

chinese proverb happiness

When you engage in actions that transcend your own search for satisfaction, you make your life meaningful. You become part of a community. You assert your humanity. You achieve real happiness and fulfillment.

Stop Sabotaging Your Health!

sabotaging your health

Maybe you’re a bit like me. I’m so used to things not going my way that sometimes I protect myself by messing things up before anyone or anything else has a chance to mess it up for me. And sometimes that includes health-related things. 

Many times, we sabotage our health based on subconscious reasons, but we justify it mindfully. Simply put, we screw up our health without even realizing it, but we come up with some really “good” excuses for doing so: “It’s been a rough day; I deserve this chocolate bar … and maybe this one too. Besides, chocolate is full of antioxidants, so I need to eat more”; “I’ve already messed up my eating plan for the day, why not make a McDonald’s run for dinner tonight to save time?”;  “I’ve gone a week without smoking a cigarette. One won’t hurt too much now.”

If you feel like you’re starting to sabotage your own success (either as it concerns health or otherwise), read on to find out how you can stop, and how you can learn to start treating yourself better.

Be Objective

Take a step back and look at what’s happening in your life from a stranger’s point of view. You can even start a journal and write down.

One of the best ways I’ve found to stick with any diet program in the past was by writing down everything I ate and drank – EVERYTHING – and then recording how I was feeling when I ate and/or drank it. Then I could go back and say, “Oh, maybe I shouldn’t have eaten that Snickers bar in the afternoon. I wasn’t really hungry. I was just tired and felt like I needed a sugary pick-me-up. I probably should’ve reached for an apple and a glass of water instead.”

That’s why I created this food, water, exercise, and emotion tracking journal. It helps me stay on track every day … or it at least helps me identify when and why I’m derailing, so I can avoid doing that in the future. You can buy it on Amazon for $5, or you can get the PDF version for free when you sign up for my email list.

Be Accepting of Feedback

Getting feedback and open, honest criticism of your health habits is probably the last thing you want, but it can give you a great opportunity to improve your health by realizing what you’re doing wrong. More often than not, you’ll find that the feedback was actually helpful, but only if you don’t take it too personally or overthink everything.

Note: You should only receive this sort of feedback from someone you know you can trust. Someone who won’t go blabbing about it all over town (or among your circle of friends). You might also want to seek feedback only from people who you know will be gentle (but honest), if you’re one of those people who has a hard time accepting criticism. After all, “a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1, NIV)

If you want to talk to me about your health struggles, feel free to email me (mishael@mishaelaustinwitty.com), and I’ll be happy to give you a free email consultation (up to six emails back and forth – after that, I’ll have to start charging a modest consulting fee).

Be Wise

The grass that’s much greener on the other side of the fence is that way because of the hard work that went into it. However you envision success (whether it’s losing 20 pounds or being filthy rich), when you imagine the success (the end result) you’re likely not thinking about all the hard work that goes into getting there. Most people don’t. Remember: “overnight successes” are usually years (like, 10 to 15) in the making. 

Click To Tweet

Be realistic about your health goals and break them down into mini-goals. These can be either daily or weekly – it’s up to you. Write down every step you need to take in order to get there, and don’t leave out the times when you fail to reach one of them. Trust in the process. More importantly, trust in yourself, especially if God has called you to do something (then you should trust in Him even more than you trust in yourself). You will reach your goals if you’re truly committed to them.

Be a Little “Selfish”

Some people think that when they sabotage their health, they’re doing it for the good of others around them. For example, a mother may feel she’s putting her kids’ well-being before her own when she doesn’t take the time to eat right or exercise. Or a father thinks that by working all the time and not taking the time to take to care of his health, he’s doing it for the good of his family. My husband’s stepmother put off dealing with her own cancer because her mother was sick and she wanted to take care of her first. You can imagine how that turned out. She’s doing okay now, but she could’ve gotten it treated much sooner (and probably better) if she’d just put herself first. Her mother is dead now.

There’s a reason they give you that instruction on airplanes about putting your own oxygen mask on before you try to help anyone else.

There's a reason they give you that instruction on airplanes about putting your own oxygen mask on… Click To TweetIf you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to help anyone else. It just won’t be possible. Take care of yourself first, and you’ll be able to do more for others (and you’ll probably be able to do it more effectively).

Believe in Your Own Worth 

Throughout our lives, we’re bombarded with messages about ourselves (from the media, from our friends and family members, from coworkers, and even sometimes from people we’re just passing by on the street). 

The negative messages are the ones that stick with us the most. Sometimes it seems almost impossible to break free from these comments. They turn into tangible monsters that haunt us in every decision we make. They may have been ordinary, run-of-the-mill comments that someone made without giving it a second thought (and certainly without intending to harm us). But still, these negative messages dominate our waking hours and dictate our life decisions.

It’s important to move past the negative comments and the limiting beliefs they’ve created within you so you can live life to the fullest.

For an excellent guide on this subject, I recommend this book.

Be Kind to Yourself 

It’s no big deal if you feel uncomfortable in a certain situation, or if you’re not completely certain what to do. Take a deep breath, realize that every single person gets the same heart-gripping fear every once in awhile, and take the plunge, What’s the worst that can happen?

Either you’ll fail miserably, which will be somewhat embarrassing, but not the end of the world. Or you’ll stand up, take a deep breath, learn from your mistakes, and try again. But just maybe you’ll succeed, be proud of your accomplishments, and move on to the next task with courage. Remember: Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to feel fear and do it anyway.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to feel fear and do it anyway. Click To Tweet

Bolstering your courage takes practice and time. Commit yourself to the process and the time it takes you to get there. Fear of failure is normal; it’s the “not trying” part that really makes you miss you out on all life has to offer.

Take the time to make goals and put yourself before others, if need be Click To Tweet

Take the time to make goals and put yourself before others, if need be; it’ll make you a healthier, more balanced person. Pretty soon, you’ll discover that you have more time and energy to do the things you need to do, whether it’s for work or family. And maybe you’ll find out that  sabotaging your health just wasn’t worth it.

5 Ways to Naturally Boost Your Immune System

boost your immune system naturally

Getting colds and illnesses can put you in bed for several days, which could mean missing out on important occasions and events, having to skip a week of work, and experiencing plenty of disruption in your life. Apart from that, you’ll feel awful and will spend days wondering when you’re going to feel better and what you can do to help yourself recover. Unfortunately, once you’ve caught an illness, getting rid of it is a lot harder than preventing it in the first place.

A lot of people run out to get a flu shot every year to prevent themselves from getting sick, but sometimes it’s not effective, and it may even be dangerous.  The best way to not get sick is to boost your immune system to keep yourself healthy and fit. Here are five ways you can do this naturally, and you don’t even have to visit your doctor.

Eat Your Vegetables

Vegetables and herbs such as broccoli, carrots, and garlic are great at improving your overall health, thus boosting your immune system to help prevent illnesses from taking hold. If you feel like you are about to develop a cold or flu, improving your diet can help keep it at bay.

And if you can’t stand the thought of eating whole cloves of garlic, you can always start taking a garlic supplement.  Garlic supplements are great for your heart, but they’re also great for your sinuses. I started supplementing with garlic and found out that it was just as effective as Mucinex for thinning out the mucus that always plagues me. Be aware, however, that garlic may exacerbate stomach issues like acid reflux or irritable bowel syndrome. I found this out the hard way!

Get More Vitamin C

You can get vitamin C from oranges, apples, and other fruits and vegetables. Have a glass of pure orange juice at the beginning of the day if you struggle to eat fruits and vegetables. Another way to get this vital vitamin is by taking daily supplements.

My favorite way to get more C is to drink  4-6 ounce glass of Emergen-C every day. In addition to vitamin C, Emergen-C has loads of B vitamins, which are great for increasing your energy (something I find I’m in desperate need of these days). My favorite flavor is the Super Orange, but the Cranberry-Pomegranate sounds delicious too. I might have to try that one next!

Don’t Forget the Vitamin D

In addition to getting enough vitamin C to help your immune system along, you should also get plenty of vitamin D. While it’s not always possible to get this from the sun, you can find it in foods such as cheese, egg yolks, and meats like beef liver and fish.

If you can’t get out into the sun (like in the winter, when there’s not much available), you might want to consider buying a light therapy lamp. It will help give you the vitamin D boost you need to keep you going strong all winter long, and it will help keep you from suffering from seasonal affective disorder (also appropriately known as SAD).

Quit Smoking and Drinking Alcohol

If you smoke regularly, cut down on the number of cigarettes you smoke. The moment you stop drinking, your immune system takes back some of the healing power it lost from the high levels of tar and other chemicals you’re putting into your body with each cigarette. 

The same goes for drinking – limit the amount of alcohol you consume to a few drinks per week. Changes in liver function resulting from excessive chronic drinking can make your body’s immune system turn against your own tissues.

You don’t have to cut either out of your diet completely (although that’s totally advisable – especially the smoking), but it’s important to recognize that these activities will have both short- and long-term negative effects on your health.

Exercise Regularly

If you’re as busy as I am, this can be one of the most difficult things to incorporate into your lifestyle. However, regular exercise can really help to boost your immune system. And the additional beneficial effects of exercise, including  better heart health and a healthier weight, will improve the way you feel overall.

And you might not be as busy as you think. Check out this article for some relatively easy ways to make time for more exercise.

Want even more ideas on how to improve your immune system? Sign up for my email list below and get instant, absolutely free access to my guide on improving your health with essential oils.

 

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