Habits You Need to Break for the Holiday Season

The holiday season has arrived. Its a time of love, joy and the spirit of giving….

Let’s be real, though…the holidays, to most, are about gifts, good food, good company and time off of work. The next couple of months are packed with family gatherings and home-cooked comfort food, late night parties and last minute shopping. In short, the holidays are stressful. We buy things we can’t afford for people we barely see. We buy things for ourselves, we know we shouldn’t (but we can’t resist). We spend more time at the mall or bar than we do at the gym. Our activity bar drops to how far a walk we have to the kitchen and our beds. To make things worse, the holidays are a near-guarantee for weight gain.

It’s no surprise and who’s to judge? Between unending errands and the general stress of the holidays, it’s to be expected. We tell ourselves we’ll cheat a bit, then get back in line for New Years. Sometimes we do…sometimes we don’t. Our pennies are scraped and spent, and the family/friends/lover drama begins.

For those of you who have been dreading the upcoming holidays, your significant other (or lack thereof), your empty wallet and your hibernation body, there are a few tips you can follow leading up to and after your holidays celebrations. If you can make these adjustments a habit, they’ll be easier to keep up and, before long, it’ll be second nature to you.

1. Don’t Starve Yourself

I know you’ve got your eye on the prize. You’re waiting for the large meal with the anticipation of fasting to make more room for seconds, thirds and fourths. Or, you’re trying to erase some of the guilt ahead of time. No matter what the circumstances, trying to forgo food altogether is a recipe for disaster. When your body goes into starvation mode it holds onto as much of your body fat as possible. It’s an instinct of survival that you can’t teach your body not to do. If you go long enough without eating, once you start again, a similar issue occurs. Your body doesn’t take into account what you ‘want’ it acts on what you ‘need.’ Healthy eating and activity is a longer process, yes. But, in the long run it’ll have better, long-lasting results.

2. Don’t Snack TOO much…

Snacking is good for your body. Smaller, more frequent portions of food is better  than eating a couple huge meals a day. You’ll be satisfied more often and it’ll keep up your metabolism, BUT that doesn’t mean you should snack excessively. Eating three or fours snacks between each meal isn’t an ideal habit to get into. Balance is key!


3. Don’t Bypass Breakfast

This is lot more important than you think. Not only does breakfast jump start your body with some much needed fuel, it also jump starts your metabolism. When lunch or snack time rolls around, you won’t be ready to stuff your face and your will have an easier time digesting your remaining meals.

4. Smoking

The percentage of smokers has significantly decreased in the last few years. The most drastic of those decreases was in  the teenage population. Its a good start, but there is always room for improvement. As corny as it sounds, quitting a habit like smoking can change you life. Sure, when the going gets rough, all you want to do is get that lighter igniting. In our most stressful times, smoking is a saving grace. The power they hold over us makes it easy to forget the disastrous list of side effects. Quit while you can. Learn to cope without. You’ll be doing your body and your mind a favor.

5. Avoid Alcohol

We aren’t saying to avoid it completely. That’d be ridiculous. Most of us are going to need all the help we can to survive these coming weeks. Alcohol included. Just moderate your drinking. You don’t want to spend money you could be using on gifts. And you definitely don’t want to be that poor, passed-out soul that ends up in everyone’s shaming selfies.

6. Being Ungrateful

We spend way to much time worrying about what we don’t have over the holidays. If you’re reading this, you’ve got more than a lot of others. Stop wasting your time whining over the unfairness of the world. Think about the things you do have- the things that should make you grateful. It doesn’t have to be material items. Family, friends, a roof over your head, that is more than enough.

7. Ignoring Your Lack of Sleep

If you’re having trouble sleeping it could be more serious than you think. A few all-nighters for school is one thing, but constantly struggling to get a good night’s rest is like flicking the first domino to a whole line of them. Not making an effort to improve your sleep? Well than don’t say you didn’t expect them all to be crashed to the ground.

8. Getting Hung Up on the Past


We make stupid decisions sometimes. We can’t go back in time and change it, but we can choose to move forward and learn from those mistakes. Other times, people make stupid decisions that effect us. We wish we could, but we can’t change others. Stop allowing the past to be apart of your present and your future. Leave it where it belongs and move forward.

9. Stop Trying to Be Like Others

You are your best when you are yourself. Its okay to admire someone- to look up to them or aspire to be more like them. Ultimately, though, we can only find happiness when we are true to ourselves. Comparing ourselves to others is only a set-up for heartbreak, for ourselves AND for others. Don’t be that person. Be your person.

10. Don’t Wait for the World to Come to You

It won’t. If you haven’t figured it out yet, opportunity isn’t served to everyone on a silver platter. It takes time, effort and courage. Don’t be scared to make daring jumps towards your desires. The only way to fail, is to try. If you don’t try you can’t fail, but you definitely won’t succeed. Don’t wait for happiness to come to you. Go looking for it. You may find more than you could have imagined.


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How to Motivate Yourself to Workout

Fall and Winter have always been the seasons of staying warm and staying full. With school, work and everyday life making a full comeback after the end of summer, it isn’t easy to motivate yourself to do much. Not unless that “much” involves take-out and T.V. Some of us love the hibernation period; cookies, hot drinks and home-cooked meals, whats not to love? Its the side effects most of us would rather do without. But, the last thing on our minds during the holiday season is working out. It doesn’t have to be impossible, though. At least, not if you don’t want it to be. So, for those desperately seeking inspiration and a kind kick in the butt, here is the best ways to motivate your workout.

1. A Fire Playlist

Don’t brush this one off. Arguably, its one of the most motivating ways to get yourself to the gym. Think about it, whether you’re walking down the street or behind the wheel, you’re usually moving to the music. So why not apply that to your workout? If you haven’t updated your playlist recently, there is nothing to feel excited about. Sure, they may be some of your all-time favs, but pick a playlist that refuses to let your body still. It’ll give you something to look forward to and promote a better, longer workout.


2. Be Creative

You don’t have to go to the gym to workout. More often than not, its the formidable trip to the gym that holds us back. The drive, or walk, seems unworthy of our effort. So ditch the trip and use the area around you. It can be you living room floor, your backyard or your entire neighborhood. Whatever appeals to you most is the best choice to keep your motivation in ‘drive.’ Even if its a slow walk around your block, a few rounds of ‘Just Dance‘ or Pilates DVD, do something. Your body and mind will come to anticipate the daily activity, need it, even.


3. Switch it Up

Once you’ve gotten into the initial swing of working out, the motivating doesn’t stop there. In fact, its even more important to focus on motivational while you workout regularly. Don’t give yourself a reason to call it quits. And nothing will stop you faster than the absolute boredom of repetition. Now, its possible that routine and repetition is the driving force for a lot of exercisers, and its cool. But, for those of us who can’t stand doing the same thing over and over again, diversity is a must. Change up your workout from day-to-day so you don’t avoid it altogether. Whats more, you can look to fellow exercisers and the internet for information. There is no shortage of workout tutorials on the web, Thus, there should be no shortage of working out for us.

4. Flaunt Your Stuff

Literally, flaunt your workout clothes. What better feeling is there than when you buy that brand new pair of shoes you had your eye on? Or, the perfect dress for a long-awaited night out. You look good in it, and more importantly, you feel good in it. Do the same for your gym clothes. Treat yourself and get the outfit you want. It doesn’t matter if its more a matter of comfort or appearance. Whatever it is, if it gets you in the clothes and off the couch, thats all that counts. This generation is the luckiest in this respect, with workout clothes being something of an admired style- one that offers a countless number of flawless looking sneaks to tie any look together.


5. Buy Your Motivation

If you can afford it, buy yoga or workout classes. Group exercises are growing in popularity and they all but ensure your attendance. After all, if you pay for the classes ahead of time, do you really want to waste your money? Tying yourself to a paid-for exercise class is probably the smartest, though not most cost effective, way to handle you workout motivation. If you pay and don’t go, thats the sound of the toilet flushing with your money in it.

How you do it doesn’t really matter. Each person is different from the next and maybe no one thing will work for you. What matters is if it means something to you, and if you want to do it to be a happier and healthier person, there are plenty of ways to motivate yourself. Just remember the end goal, remember why you started and if you scratch it, pick up and start again .

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Volunteering Made Easy

You’ve probably thought about it at least once or twice. Volunteering, that is. How can we not? Everyday you’re forced to witness the more obvious cases of individuals’ misfortune. Not to mention, all the well-hidden cases that we unknowingly encounter on a regular basis. Unfortunately, finding a volunteering program isn’t as easy as the passing thoughts you have. The effort it takes is probably a big turn off for most volunteer considerations. So, in order to save you some time, some guilt and get more people active where it really matters, this is volunteering made easy.

Summer is officially over. Now, we must delve back into the swing of mundane, day-to-day life under the cold, looming shadow of fall. No use being upset, though. The end of one chapter only means the beginning of another. And what could be better than a season filled with holidays? Sure, the stress and strain that can come with family functions and gift giving sucks. Although, usually the good outweighs the bad and reminds us to be grateful for what we have. Unfortunately, for some, the holidays are a reminder of how little that may be.

There are all different types of volunteer programs. You can volunteer abroad. You can volunteer at your local food pantry. Or, if you prefer the company of animals, you can volunteer at an animal shelter. Whatever you choose, make sure you do your research. Some programs require a payment (usually the abroad programs) for your stay and meals. There are also programs that require to volunteer for a certain period of time, so make sure you’re ready before you commit.

I know what you’re thinking…why is volunteering so complicated? Shouldn’t they be grateful for any help they get? And why am I paying to volunteer? Truthfully, it all depends on the program. Just know this, there is a rhyme and reason to their requirements. And, while volunteering isn’t simple, it is worth the effort.

Volunteering Abroad:

If you’re volunteering abroad, the cost of your stay and your food is often your own responsibility. Some programs will offer housing at little-to-no cost, but often its wherever they can fit you. What is great about abroad programs is that you can kill two bird with one stone. You can travel outside the familiarity of your world while helping others. You can also meet other people that have traveled from their foreign countries. Volunteering abroad is a melting pot of different cultures and countries, one that brings people together for the greater

Remember, most programs will not include food, flight or stay, so make sure you research!

Sites like, Go Abroad, will offer you a base for multiple programs. You choose your destination, duration of the program and the cause. Then, the site will gather programs related to your specifications. This is one of the relatively easy ways to search for programs.

Global Vision International, has been around for nearly twenty years and sent over 25,000 volunteers overseas. While volunteering isn’t all about the numbers, it’s good to go with a well-used program. This way, you’ll have more resources and advice at your disposal.


Volunteering With Animals:

You don’t have to volunteer with people. If you have a passion for the creatures we call our best friends, there are plenty of programs for you. Again, these programs can be close to home far into your uncharted territory.

Much like the Go Abroad site, One World 365, offers a platform in which you can filter through tons of programs and find your best fit. With One World 365, you can even choose your preferred species and eliminate costly programs.

If you want to stay close to home, contact your local animal shelters and veterinary offices to discuss any opportunities they have available. As, animal shelters are often crowded and very busy, this can take a little time. Be patient, but persistent.

Local Volunteer Programs

As for local volunteer programs that expect a certain period of work, it is mostly to ensure body count. If you are accepted as a volunteer, people are counting on your help. If a volunteer backs out or doesn’t show up, then that space must be filled. Finding volunteers can take some time, especially for programs with children that require background checks. So, if you can’t do the time, don’t waste their time. In a way, volunteering is much like a relationship: you’re making a commitment to the program and their making a commitment to you. Don‘t let them down.

Programs with children are some of the most popular, now. Especially with so many people speaking out about homeless youth. These local programs can be a bit harder to find reside primarily on the West Coast. Stand Up for Kids, for example, allows volunteers to make a positive impact on homeless youths’ lives. They locations are limited, but programs are constantly trying to expand.

For something a little simpler and accessible on a day-to-day basis, the best approach would be to contact local churches. Your religion, or lack thereof means little to them in the face of helping hands. A lot of churches, especially in larger cities, offer food, living and job-search support for less fortunate families and individuals. All you have to do is call around or go into a few churches and see where and for what your help may be of use.

If you have the means, volunteering is definitely something to consider. You never realize how much impact you can have on the lives of others. Putting good into the world is never something we should be afraid of, no matter how daunting the process. Hopefully, this article will inspire you or re-motivate you to find your program.

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5 Things Every Woman Should Know How to Do

As women, we have hundreds of years of stereotypes and gender-expectations that we are still overcoming. We’ve come far, but equality is still a work-in-progress. We all have our strengths and weaknesses as individuals and what better way to improve both than to break down gender stereotypes and take on the tasks often thought of as ‘masculine.’ Why rely on men when we can rely on ourselves, right? We can do more than fold laundry, cook and take care of the kids, and we’ve been proving it to the world more often as time goes by. So, in the spirit of the strength of women, here are a few things that we think every woman should be able to do on her own.

1. How to Change a Tire

One of the worst things that can happen to any person is getting a flat tire. When you don’t have a spare or don’t know how to change it, you’re pretty much S.O.L. And, if it happens in the middle of nowhere, you better hope you brought some walking shoes. Most cars come with donuts, but some come with full size spares. Regardless of what you have to work with, its imperative to know how to change the tire yourself. Relying on strangers for help can be risky, especially if you’re a woman.

It’s the sad truth of the world that changing a tire is thought of as a more masculine trait. I’ve lost count of how many woman I’ve heard say, “I always had my (insert any male figure) to do that stuff.” Except, when you don’t have them around to save you the physical and mental struggle, who will help you? Better learn to help yourself!

2. How to Be Independent

This is a knowledge that should surpass gender, sex and sexuality, to be honest. Although, in my experience, the pressure to settle down or have a partner is most heavily put on women.Being on your own isn’t easy. For some, it’s impossible. It is important to be able to find your independence and comfort in the ability to function without the help of others. That’s not to say that you can never reach out to family or friends when in need. Rather, it’s a process that helps you find yourself; your strengths and weaknesses.

Being independent is not a concept as simple as “being single,” either. It’s more about relying on yourself and being able to live without dependency when its not an option. Discover yourself. Learn to love yourself. Knowing yourself and loving yourself will, in turn, give you the foundations for a more confident and stable role in future relationships, be at business, familial or romantic, etc.


3. Checking and Maintaining Car Fluids

Another car-related how-to. I know, it’s often confusing and annoying. I always thought to myself, “what’s the point?” when I could always ask my dad for help. At least, that was until my car refused to go over 30 mph on the highway. The cause? Old and low transmission fluid. It was a lot scarier than it sounds, though it could have been worse. Like many people, I got lucky.

We all know it can be easy to ignore something as (seemingly) simple as checking your fluids. You’ve got 1 million other things to worry about, so it’s the last thing on your mind. But, the easiest way to keep your car running longer and smoother is to check and maintain your fluids, especially your engine oil, on a regular basis. Don’t be that person that putters into the auto shop with “rip me off” stamped across to your four head. Know everything you can about your car. Just for the simple fact that you’re female – you are an easy target to be taken advantage of.


4. Hang a Picture
Decorating is fun. Putting a special touch to any place you rent or buy is what makes it ” your home.” It can be a chance to show off your unique style, your character and your skills. Whats not fun is spending twenty minutes trying to figure out if a frame is leveled or watching the dry wall crack as you hammer a nail into it. If you can’t get the frame or art piece leveled, you’re bound to drive yourself (or an unsuspecting guest) crazy. Like most things in life, YouTube can save you a lot of trouble. There are plenty of videos explaining what tools are and how to use them. Its a few minutes that will save you a lot of frustration. So before you hurt your home or yourself, do a little research.
5. How to Balance a Checkbook
This how-to seems a bit irrelevant since writing checks is something of a rarity, nowadays. Still, its a habit that can help you keep track of your money and maintain your savings. Since debit and credit cards make accessing your money effortless, losing track of your balance is easy. Not to mention, when its all gone, you can’t even remember what you spent it on.
Checking your statements online or in the mail is important but carrying a checkbook around can help, too. You don’t have to write checks, its the money tracking you’re after. Anytime you hit the ATM, swipe your card or even use cash, jot it down. It also helps to make note of where the money is going. This way, you don’t have to sweat over the possibility of your card getting declined or wonder what you’re spending all your hard earned money on. Its a good habit to get into if you’re looking to build up your savings or just to keep better track of it.
 There are countless other tasks, both day-t0-day and more serious, that society often assumes women can’t or shouldn’t do. These are just a few petals picked from the entire flower. Just remember, anything they can do, we can do, too. Be strong, be resilient and be knowledgeable.
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