Archive | October 2012

How to get started on your health-kick NOW!


The secret of getting ahead is started. Mark Twain

Getting into a workout routine can be such a challenge, particularly when we’re out of shape from the winter months! It’s time to shed the winter coat, get motivated and get back into your fitness routine! This week Happiness Weekly looks at some simple steps to getting started on a sustainable workout routine.

STEP 1 – Be consistent
– Make a time to workout and commit to it as you would a team sport
– Always stretch before you workout – avoid injures so you can work out regularly and enjoy it
– Learn to love exercising – committing to a fitness routine begins in your mind
– Don’t let anything interfere with your workout routine – it is your appointment with yourself: set reminders on your phone to stick to the schedule
– Choose your workout, keep it easy and get started on a mini routine. For example your goal may be a 5km walk, a 10km bike ride and 3km rowing – you would start with 2.5km walk, 5km bike ride and 1.5km rowing machine for the first four to six weeks
– Routine is the key – after two weeks, you will find it less of a chore.

STEP 2 – Challenge yourself
– Keep moving: maintain continuity in your workout by walking on the spot or doing star-jumps. Pace on the phone, take long strides to the station or work or do crunches while you watch television
– Time yourself, it’s the easiest way to stay motivated and set goals – keep trying to improve for next time
– Get a workout buddy, and work to outdo them – even if it means training when away from them as well
– Increase difficulty: run up hills or stairs, or add a steeper incline on the treadmill
– Take longer strides when you’re walking – it gives you a better workout
– Increase the weights to improve strength, complete challenging reps
– Try using new gym equipment every now and then to prevent your routine from becoming stale.

STEP 3 – Do something you enjoy
– Going to the gym isn’t for everyone, find something you enjoy that involves exercising and participate in that as often as possible
– Suggestions for social workouts may include: Zumba, team sports (netball, tennis, soccer, touch-football), cycling, fitness classes at your gym, indoor rock climbing… Even playing Nintendo Wii with a friend is entertaining and physical! You will probably be laughing so much your tummy gets an extra workout as well!

STEP 4 – Be accountable
– Start keeping a workout journal: record your weight, measurements, how long you exercised for and what activity you were doing. The more information you can record, the more specific your goals will be and the less likely you will be to stray from your routine
– Don’t start too big, in fact start small if you haven’t exercised in a while – go easy on yourself, at least you are now doing something! If you’re working full time, it’s recommended to start with 30 minutes, three times a week and work up to an hour three times a week before introducing another day
– Don’t overdo it – associating your workout with pain will prevent you from wanting to go back
– Remember to bring the following items to your workout session: gym towel, water, iPod, phone (for recording/tracking and keeping time)
– Reward yourself for good behaviour – when you reach your goals, give yourself a treat (not necessarily food – a nice perfume, new sneakers, a massage etc.).

STEP 5 – Review your diet
– No takeaway! Prepare to sacrifice a few things to gain the gorgeous summer body you seek. Cut down on bread, rice and pasta for a little while. Replace it with crisp breads instead (Cruskits or Vita Wheat)
– Drink plenty of water (2 to 3 litres of unflavoured water a day will trim you down and help flatten your tummy)
– Eat plenty of fish (NO batter)
– Before starting a diet consider: your budget, if you have any health conditions, whether your schedule allows for food preparation, if you have social support and what you have tried in the past that has failed and why (avoid them this time around – you want something you will stick to!).

Simple ideas to get STARTED!
– Leave the car at home where ever possible and walk, avoid elevators and take the stairs
– Channel your successes – exercise will only make you feel great! Remember that and the feeling it gives you before skipping a workout
– Cut out the alcohol! Alcohol only provides lots of unwanted calories
– Be patient with your results – it won’t happen overnight. Weigh yourself weekly to see a difference on the scales or measure monthly to see it in clothing
– Go to bed early and get plenty of rest you burn approximately 552 calories with eight hours sleep
– Keep yourself self-motivated with up-beat music that you enjoy. I always make a new playlist every time I’m trying to get into a new routine.


Colour psychology and what your wardrobe reveals about you

Before you choose your outfit for the day, think about how you want other people to see you and interpret your personality … your clothes say far more than you think. Bridget Allen, senior fashion expert.

Socially everyone selects something of choice to wear from their wardrobe, but generally no further thought is taken other than if it looks good and feels comfortable. A picture is worth a thousand words, but 99% of that description is about the colour of that picture. Colour psychology is concerned with how certain colours effect emotions, perceptions and reactions.

According to Adam D Galinksy, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, “clothing affects how other people perceive us as well as how we think about ourselves”. Leave your inner fashionista behind, this week Happiness Weekly takes a practical look at what the colours in your wardrobe are really saying about you!

Colours at work

Black symbolises power and sophistication, but is also the colour of the secretive unknown creating an air of mystery. Some use it to hide their weight, others use it to hide their fears and insecurities. Black provides comfort while protecting emotional feelings and vulnerabilities. It symbolises control, hanging on to information and things rather than giving out to others. It radiates authority, but creates fear in the process. People that wear black are self-controlled and disciplined, independent and strong-willed but give an impression of authority and power. Affluent and success-orientated women often choose to wear black as it gives an impression of elegance, sophistication and confidence. It’s a great colour for trousers, jackets or shirts – it is recommended that you break it up with other colours.

Yellow can be seen as cheery and warm, it is the colour of mind, intellect and acquired knowledge. Uplifting and illuminating, it offers hope, happiness, cheerfulness and fun. Yellow inspires inquisitiveness and original thought. People that like yellow are generally great communicators and love to talk – particularly suitable to networkers, journalists and people that work in Public Relations. It is linked to clarity of thought and ideas which aids with decision making, focus and study, and recalling information. Yellow should be limited to accessories such as ties or necklaces because it can be impulsive and cause anxiety. More information about yellow and its variations is available here.

Gold is the colour of success, achievement and triumph. It is associated with abundance, prosperity, luxury, quality, prestige and sophistication. Valuable and elegant, gold implies affluence, material wealth and extravagance. Linked to masculine energy and the power of the sun – it is confident, passionate and eye-catching.

White is associated with purity, innocence, wholeness, completion and serenity. Cleanliness personified, the colour white is the colour for new beginnings and the ultimate purity which is why western brides and doctors wear it. The colour of protection and encouragement, white offers a sense of peace and calm, comfort and hope, and helps alleviate emotional upsets. It creates a sense of order and efficiency – great for inspiration if you wish to unclutter your life. Too much white can be cold, isolating, empty and bland. It implies a feeling of sterility, detachment and disinterest, providing little stimulation for the senses. Wear it sparingly, white is the classic colour for an office shirt because it provides a good background for the statement colour of a tie.

Silver has a feminine energy and is associated with the moon – it is fluid, emotional, sensitive and mysterious. Reflective and sensitive, silver inspires intuition, clairvoyance and mental telepathy. It is also associated with prestige and wealth as it is seen as glamorous, sophisticated, prosperous and modern. People that wear silver are respectable, courteous, dignified, self-controlled, responsible, patient, determined and organised. It resonates well in the corporate world to those in positions of responsibility (males and females).

Grey is the colour of compromise – it is neutral and detached. The closer it gets to black, the more dramatic and mysterious it becomes, but the closer it gets to white or silver, the more illuminating and lively it becomes. People that wear grey are generally subdued, quiet and reserved. Conformists, they are conventional, dependable and practical. Too much grey creates sadness and depression and a tendency to loneliness and isolation. More information about grey and its variations is available here.

Purple is a colour of imagination and spirituality, historically associated with luxury, wealth and royalty. It represents the future. Purple inspires unconditional and selfless love, and enhances psychic ability and spiritual enlightenment. It promotes harmony of the mind and emotions, contributing to mental balance and stability, and peace of mind. Violet is the colour of humanitarian, using its better judgement to do good for others, combining wisdom and power with sensitivity and humility. People that wear purple have an element of power as it demands respect. They are ambitious and self-assured leaders. Purple is difficult colour to pull off because it requires confidence to wear successfully. More information about purple, and its variations, is available here.

Indigo, the colour of intuition, perception and the higher mind. It promotes deep concentration during meditation. Powerful and dignified, it conveys integrity and deep serenity. People that love the colour indigo conform to things that have worked in the past, while planning for the future. It stimulates the right brain and helps with spatial skills.

Red is the colour of energy, passion and action. It exudes a strong and powerful masculine energy, it excites the emotions and motivates us to take action. Red is a powerful colour: it is a symbol for leadership, assertiveness, confidence, ambition and determination. Too much red can cause irritation, agitation, aggression and anger. In China it is the colour for good luck, in India it is the colour for purity and is often used in their wedding gowns. Red is a great colour to wear to negotiations, meetings and sales pitches. More information about the colour red, and its variations, is available here.

Brown symbolises age and maturity. It is serious, down-to earth and relates to security, protection and material wealth. People that wear brown take their obligations seriously and encourage a strong need for security and a sense of belonging. They feel that family and friends are of utmost importance, are honest, genuine and sincere – though can be stingy with money. They are trustworthy, reliable, loyal, dependable, practical and realistic. The colour of structure, it encourages orderliness, uniformity and organisation. It is reassuring and quietly confident. Wearing this colour can make you appear wise. It is a popular colour with teachers and academics because it inspires feelings of respect in a subtle manner as opposed to aggressively asserting respect like red or purple. Wearing too much brown can make you look stuffy or old fashioned. More information about brown and its variations is available here.

Blue is a calming colour that inspires serenity, trust and responsibility. Honest and loyal, this colour is reliable, sincere, reserved and quiet. It promotes mental and physical relaxation, reducing stress. In fact, the paler the shade of blue, the more freedom we feel. People that love blue define success as quality and quantity of relationships, they give more than receive and build strong, trusting relationships. They become deeply hurt if betrayed. Conservative and predictable, blue is safe, non-threatening, but persistent and determined to succeed. Wear blue when you need to give important news in a meeting but break it up with other colours if you are delivering bad news. More information about blue and its variations is available here.

Turquoise represents open communication and clarity of thought. It controls and heals the emotions creating emotional balance and stability. The colour turquoise recharges our spirits during times of mental stress and tiredness, alleviating feelings of loneliness. It increases creativity and sensitivity. People that wear turquoise are generally good at multi-tasking and are very caring. Turquoise also encourages us to build self-esteem and be self-sufficient. More information about turquoise and its variations is available here.

Orange radiates warmth and happiness. It is the colour of adventure, risk-taking and social communication. Orange offers emotional strength, it is optimistic and uplifting, and promotes spontaneity and a positive outlook. It inspires physical confidence, competition, independence, and aids in putting new ideas into action, banishing limitations. It encourages self-respect and respect of others. A great colour for accessories, orange prevents other colours from becoming overbearing. More information about orange and its variations is available here.

Green is the colour of harmony, growth and balance (creating equilibrium between the head and the heart). It is a natural peacemaker and an emotionally positive colour, encouraging us to love and nurture ourselves and others unconditionally. People that wear green enjoy observing and listening and have good judgement. They are generally inviting, generous, friendly and can keep confidences but also tend to look for recognition. A great colour for women’s dresses, it is also the ideal colour for accessories. More information about green and its variations is available here.

Pink is associated with femininity, unconditional love and romance. It represents compassion and nurturing. People that wear pink are intuitive and insightful and demonstrate tenderness, kindness, empathy and sensitivity. It is the colour of hope and good health. Pink calms and reassures our emotional energies, alleviating feelings of anger, aggression, resentment, abandonment and neglect. A non-threatening colour, people that love pink seek appreciation, respect and admiration. It is a great colour for items you will wear briefly but you can remove for the bulk of the day e.g. jackets and bags. More information about pink and its variations is available here.

Magenta is the universal colour for harmony and emotional balance. People that wear magenta are generally spiritual (yet practical), encouraging, have good common sense and a balanced outlook on life. Magenta strengthens our intuition and psychic ability while assisting to rise above daily obstacles and gain awareness and knowledge. An instrument of change and transformation, magenta aids us in moving forward, helping to release old emotional patterns that prevent personal and spiritual development. It is uplifting to our spirits during times of unhappiness, anger and frustration. Magenta is the colour of cheerfulness, happiness, contentment and appreciation for what you have acquired and achieved. Magenta is spontaneous and impulsive, yet resourceful and organised.

Speedy wardrobe colour tips
* Blue establishes trust and credibility. It is a safe colour and universally liked by most men and women.
* To appear friendly and approachable, wear lighter colours such as mid-tone blues, greens, blue-greens, teal, tan and peachy-orange.
* To get noticed or appear assertive, wear red (but note, it can be threatening).
* To appear confident, blue-green is a good business colour for women, it suggests high self-esteem, confidence but is still friendly and approachable.
* To show dependability, wear green.
* To appear neutral wear grey or beige. You may look like a fence-sitter, but it enables you to say what a client wants to hear rather than the truth.
* To look professional with authority, wear dark blue or dark grey. It’s great for credibility when promoting your business.
* To shock or inspire your audience, wear a magenta suit … with a matching top hat and cane!
* Earth tones (dark orange, mid-brown, light yellow, beige, tan or caramel) are seen as reliable.

Fast facts on colour psychology
– Teenagers often have a psychological need to wear black during the stage of transition from the innocence of childhood to the sophistication of adulthood. It enables them to hide from the world while they discover their own unique identity.
– According to Dr Jennifer Baumgartner, who wrote “You are what you wear: what your clothes reveal about you”, what you wear can inform people passing you in the street of your type of employment, ambitions, emotions and spending habits. “Shopping and spending behaviours often come from internal motivations such as emotions, experiences and culture,” she said.
– A study from Northwestern University examined the concept “enclothed cognition”. Researchers define it in their report as “the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes,” meaning what clothes say to you, rather than about you. How they make you feel, not just how they make you act and react.
– Women react more positively to blue-based colours, such as deep blue-reds, most blues, most pinks and blue-greens. Men find yellow-based colours more attractive. They appreciate true reds and oranges, peachy-apricots and most blues.
– Colours also enhance our culinary experience. Red is the most prominent colour in fast food logos because it stimulates appetite and expresses the speed at which you will be served your meal. Blue decreases appetite – however, people are more likely to drink from a blue glass than a red glass. Orange also assists with stimulating appetite.
– Trying to lose weight? Dieticians recommend eating off a blue plate as it suppresses appetite.

14 tricks to self-empowerment

Some men have thousands of reasons why they cannot do what they want to,  when all they need is one reason why they can. Martha Graham

Empowering yourself can sometimes seem particularly difficult, especially if we have suffered a battering to our confidence in recent times. Self-empowerment is interrelated with the way you conduct yourself, the image you project to others and the way you improve yourself. This list of tips and tricks will help you empower yourself and those around you in no time – because often the hardest part of self-empowerment is knowing where to start!

Know what you want
You need to know what you want in order to receive it. Sometimes it may feel like a process of elimination – we all know what we don’t want – but that isn’t getting you much closer to what you do want. It is worth sitting down and finding out what you want (brainstorm a list) to give you a clear understanding of your direction.

Discover your barriers
Find out what is blocking you from getting what you want. Listen carefully to your self-talk – you could be blocking yourself. Does it fit into the following catagories: mixed doubts, limiting beliefs, attachments (giving up something to receive it), resources? If so, what can you do about it?

Eliminate your doubts
One thing you have complete control over is your doubts – which is part of your self-talk. Visualisation may help with this. Tap into your senses and hear, see, feel, smell, touch and taste what it is like to achieve what you are after. Focus particularly on the sounds and colours. If achieving your goal isn’t satisfying you fully, make adjustments and use this visualisation technique again to test it and help eliminate all doubts.

Banish limiting beliefs
Another thing you can control is your limiting beliefs – however it can be difficult because these beliefs may have been with you since childhood and are now considered “core beliefs”. Limiting beliefs are often there as a protective mechanism from something that caused hurt in the past. If you can identify a limiting belief, figure out whether or not it is useful and what you would rather change the belief to, and work to change it or replace its intention (e.g. to keep you safe) with something healthy, and continue to work to achieve your goal. If you struggle with limiting beliefs, Schema Therapy may particularly helpful for you – see if you can join a local workshop to learn more!

Focus on your agenda
There’s a universal agenda among humans (and animals) and that is to maximise happiness and minimise suffering but everyone has their own strategies and not all are successful.  Even those than appear unhappy are getting something positive from their misery, or they would have moved on. Unhealthy habits are usually initiated because a challenge appears too great. To move towards your goal, you must be clear on what you would like to keep from the present situation. Before making a change, ensure you keep the best aspects of your current situation and discard all aspects you don’t enjoy. If your problems relate to resources only, make an effort to access existing resources and create new ones.

Getting started
Move at a pace comfortable for you, but not so comfortable that you get slack. Invest your time and energy into your goal and things will quickly change. You may need to re-evaluate your goal as you start moving towards it, your goal may even change completely, that is normal. It’s hard to know specifically what we want before starting out.

Strive for the best
When you are reaching to a big goal, you should feel some degree of discomfort, and perhaps a little unsure of yourself, as you are challenged. You are on a journey into the unknown. Be confident but not comfortable as you move towards achieving your goal. Dare to dream, and dream big, then concentrate your time on filling in the details.

Prepare to learn
Make every experience a learning experience. Be curious, particularly about the things that matter most to you. Expect to find valuable, useful knowledge in everyone and everything.

Be persistent
Don’t be discouraged over setbacks, be self-motivated and don’t give up. When you make progress, keep going! Take responsibility and avoid draining your energy by making excuses or assigning blame. Seek advice, assistance and cooperation of others and offer your own in relationships of mutual benefit. The achievements you seek to create are your responsibility, so be prepared to compete with yourself and work constantly to improve.

Be grateful
Gratitude will open your eyes, mind and spirit to the value that exists in everyone and everything. When you’re genuinely thankful, you make use of whatever it is in a meaningful, effective and positive way. A grateful attitude is also a positive attitude and being optimistic about your conditions and situation is essential as it enables you to see the best side in all the challenges you face. A positive disposition will trigger you to do better, find resolutions to problems and look for other support systems until your goals are achieved.

Focus on your strengths and strengthen your weaknesses
List all the qualities that you currently have which will lead you to your goal. Be honest. You could even brainstorm a word and write a short explanation as to how it will help you. It is equally important to realise your weaknesses and accept that you need to practice some measures to turn these into strengths.

Be a leader
Leadership means you have a lot of abilities and a high tendency to empower yourself personally, that the excess can be radiated onto other people. As you find others succeeding or following under your guidance, you will discover that your support for other people also equates to more self empowerment. You will start to appreciate your talents and potential.

Associate with successful people
Just as your talents will radiate onto others, so will theirs. Successful individuals have a knack of empowering themselves, especially when trying times are present. Socialise and be around people who believe in their own talents and capabilities.

Talk to yourself
Positive self-talk is imperative when empowering yourself. Know how to build yourself up. Make a conscious choice to build yourself up as often as possible. Make it a habit to speak encouragingly to yourself and expressing positive thoughts about your abilities. Speak to yourself as you would a good friend in need of support and encouragement. Regularly commend yourself for a job well done and love yourself unconditionally. The more you allow yourself to feel your own love and approval, the better you will feel about your life.

Quick tips to be self-empowered
– Be confident in yourself. Your confidence will naturally project a more powerful image than if you appear uncertain or anxious. Identify what is affecting your confidence and take steps to improve it
– Look after yourself – maintain a balanced diet, exercise regularly and manage your stress. If you feel good, you will be more self-confident and project a glowing energy to others
– Make a positive impression on people. People are more receptive to those who take good care of themselves, dress well, are neat and tidy and hold their posture. Focus on what you say and think before you speak
– Be constructive. Don’t be critical, gossip or complain too much. Avoid the temptation to whinge. Be positive and optimistic, provide constructive feedback and participate in finding solutions to problems rather than finding the problems
– Change yourself – not others. If you are unhappy with someone or something, change it to suit yourself. You can try to compromise but don’t expect anything to change for you
– Thrive on feedback. Empowering yourself means taking criticism constructively. Develop yourself technically, behaviourally and emotionally. Seek feedback and identify ways you can empower yourself. Criticism is always an opportunity to improve
– Focus on your goals, ambitions and desires. Don’t get tied up with your emotions, stay focussed on what’s ahead.

How to have a great day … every day!

I hope everyone that is reading this is having a really good day. And if you are not, just know that in every new minute that passes you have an opportunity to change that. Gillian Anderson

Every day has potential to be the best day of your life. Make the decision that today will be a great day and spend your time working to achieve it. The following tips will make it easy for you to live each day to the fullest.

Select your alarm tune carefully
Setting your alarm tune to something peaceful or happy is always a great way to start the day! My alarm tune is set to the DuckTails theme song. It reminds me of Saturday Disney and being young, it gives me energy to start the day and it makes me wake with a smile. For those of you that think a song may be too much too early in the morning, try selecting something peaceful (but still enough to wake you) to get you out of bed each morning.

Wake up healthy
When you feel good, you’ll look good. Wake up and stretch, drink a glass of water, have a bowl of fruit and/or high-fibre cereal for breakfast and try to schedule some time for a brisk walk to get the heart rate up. Getting into the routine of slowing down your morning, properly brushing your teeth and taking time for yourself is a great way to start the day!

Dress to impress
It’s important to dress for success whether you have a long day of work stretching ahead of you or not.  Did you know that a survey found that 41% of employers are more likely to promote people that dress better? It will also help you be more productive and people will be more receptive to you.

Genuinely smile
Smiling is universally recognised as an expression of happiness among all cultures: if you smile, other people will generally smile with you. Some studies support this, even suggesting that it is contagious. For example a study conducted in Sweden showed that people had difficulty frowning when they looked at other subjects who were smiling, and their muscles twitched into smiles all on their own.

Perceive everything in a positive way
Make the decision to take everything in a positive way – remember, you are only living today for one day only. If someone is trying to be negative and force you down, the trick is to try to find the lesson in what they are saying or doing. Learning from them will benefit you as you keep your head up and continue striving to be the best you can be.

Be kind
Be kind to everyone you encounter. According to psychologist Og Mandino (1923-1996), “Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness, and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again”. It doesn’t cost anything to be nice to someone, it’s easy to do, and it makes you feel good! So smile, start a conversation and remember to mind your manners. The Stanford Research Institute says that the money you make in any endeavour is determined by 12.5% knowledge and 87.5% ability to deal with people.

Give away positive energy
According to the law of attraction, the more positive energy you give, the more you will receive. Give compliments, let people know you’re thinking of them, buy people gifts, and always mind your manners. The easiest way to give and receive positive energy is to always have good intentions.

Have a positive attitude
Maintain an attitude of gratitude and you will attract all good things. Being thankful for even the small things will enhance awareness of your surroundings and it’s this level of mindfulness that will assist you in appreciating each day. You have 25,000 to 50,000 thoughts a day, changing most of them to be positive will be a challenge but it’s certainly possible!

Challenge yourself
Be open to learning something new. Accept a spontaneous opportunity. Do something you’re scared of (within reason!). Challenge yourself to achieve your full potential. By challenging yourself you will grow, gain awareness, skills and knowledge, achieve more, possibly advance in your career, become a better friend or partner, and gain new experiences.

Chat to loved ones
Schedule some time towards the end of each day to chat to your loved ones. Call your family for a general catch up or call your best friend. It’s a great way to vent, relax, unwind, and wrap up a busy day in the office!

Have an exercise routine in the afternoon that you look forward to after work, it will help you to refresh – and it’s great for your health! Studies have shown that just 20 minutes of exercise three times a week will increase your happiness by 10 to 20 percent after six months.

Look after yourself
Aside from the usual hygiene care (showering and brushing your teeth), try to do something nice for yourself each day. This could be grooming: getting a haircut, painting your nails or it could be something leisurely: planning a party, having a bath, reading the newspaper or a book, going shopping or to the beach, writing a letter, painting a picture, going star-gazing, listening to music etc.

Live for the moment
Time is something you can never get back. Avoid wasting it! While we can live to an endless to-do list it’s equally important to have time to think and meditate. Put your phone down and give your time fully when you’re socialising – it will allow you to fully enjoy the moment. Switching off and being completely present enables you to slow down a fast-paced life to fully enjoy yourself.

Respect your biorhythms
To help ensure tomorrow is just as good as today, make sure you get a good night’s sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep may mean investing in earplugs to ensure your room is silent, a new pillow for comfort, or an eye mask to ensure no light will disturb you. If you find yourself awake at night, figure out what is worrying you and how you can overcome it.

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