July 19, 2010

The ABCs of Summer Success: Part Two

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is finish a task you've begun - which is why we're determined to do it with Part Two of our summer success series!  bene-fit wants you to have the healthiest summer ever and we're here to inspire you to action.

After the energizing promise of spring and before the changing air of fall, summer is the perfect time to keep up with your health and fitness goals and perhaps even set some new ones.  Need help?  Without further ado, bene-fit gives you J-Q:

Think we're joking?  Plyometrics (movements where muscles are expanded and contracted in quick sequences, such as jumping) are an incredible way to burn calories and boost performance, especially if you've hit a plateau in conditioning or weight loss.  Check out these animated ideas for "plyo" workouts you can try!

Yep, it's come to this.  bene-fit is actually advising you to stand up in front of a bunch of strangers and belt your lungs out to your favorite song.  Why?  Well, would you believe that singing (even in your car alone) reduces stress and boosts the immune system, particularly for older adults?  If you just can't rally the wherewithal to sing out loud in front of others, try dancing (alone or out with a group), yodeling, or even gardening - all are leisure activities that are proven to reduce stress and increase feelings of happiness.

Speaking of singing and dancing, there's another easy activity to boost your health this summer - and it starts with a ha-ha-ha!  There's a reason they say laughter is the best medicine - happy people are better employees (and employers) and live longer lives.  People who use humor throughout their lives develop stronger coping mechanisms and report higher life satisfaction.  Need a daily boost?  Get a joke delivered straight to your inbox each morning and start off with a giggle!

Grandma knows best on this age-old adage: everything in moderation (even moderation!).  Dieters who have small portions of full-fat or full-sugar foods are more likely to lose weight than those who rely on low-fat or sugar-free alternatives.  Here at bene-fit, we don't advocate deprivation - only moderation, the safe and balanced way to change unhealthy habits into a seamlessly positive and fulfilling lifestyle.  And let's be serious - when's the last time you felt absolutely wonderful after stuffing your face, spending too much at the mall, or drinking far too much in one night?  Yeah.  We thought so.

The appeal of tough-but-fair personalities like Judge Judy, Joan Rivers, or even comedian Bill Maher lies in their ability to deliver the truth, loud and clear - but soften the blow so that it can be heard.  Many of us spend a lot of time sugar-coating, white-lying, or otherwise masking what we truly feel so that we don't "rock the boat" or hurt anyone's feelings.  This summer, free yourself from the confines of others' expectations with a no-nonsense approach to constructive criticism and advice-giving.  You may need to take some risks to make sure that you are giving open and meaningful feedback to the people in your life who deserve your most honest self.

It's no coincidence that summer days are the ones marked "laziest" in songs, pop culture, and poetry - most people use the heat and laid-back attitudes as an excuse to kick back and yes, slack a bit on their typical responsibilities.  If you take summer by the horns - get out there and interview for jobs, pitch your novel to agents, start your marathon training, fill out your graduate school applications, or even just deep-clean your house - you will beat the busybody crowds bustling to "catch up" when fall hits and you'll be able to ease into autumn on your hard-earned (and well-timed!) laurels.

Quick - when you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?  On a scale of 1 to 10, how close is your current profession to that childhood ideal?  If the answer is "not even on the scale," it might be time to rethink your path - and regain your passion.  A 2009 study suggested that the best indicators of midlife career attainment were having role models, discussing future plans with others, and achieving similar aspirations to those set in high school.  If you are unhappy in your career and not sure why, it might be time to boost your potential by revisiting your dreams from years ago.  It might be enough to set you right back on course.

Although you loyal readers know that I can't wait for "S" to give you the numerous joys of sleep (a bene-fit wellness must!), quiet is nearly as important for peace of mind, relaxation, and reflection.  As the teachings of yoga explain, a quiet mind is one that can treat extremes - both of triumph and devastation - with the same steady assurance.  Take a few minutes to read through these seven paths to a quiet mind - and take some time to rediscover your own inner peace.

We hope you enjoyed our second installment of the ABCs - and don't miss our last entry in this bene-fit series next Monday!  Stay healthy and happy this week.

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