5 Simple Ways To Boost Office Morale

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collegekidsYou built your company from scratch. It was difficult, but you did it. You overcame obstacles and achieved small victories until you had a success breakout. After that you rode the wave of momentum and your business got bigger and better.

But over the past few months, you’ve noticed a slump in business. Sales have declined. Customers complain more. Refunds are on the rise. People call in sick. More employees are quitting. It also seems to take longer and appears to cost more to launch new initiatives.

Puzzled, you walk around the office, asking questions. You get lethargic answers and lame excuses. You get a poor response to your queries. Then it hits you, morale is low.

Looking around the office with this new perspective, you now see it with new eyes.

Apathy, like a cloud of smog, hovers around the cubicles. People don’t work well with each other. They bicker and complain more than try to work things out. They don’t talk to each other much, either. Nobody shows any initiative. Attitude is bad, and performance even worse.

What can you do to turn things around?

Here are 5 suggestions:

1. Recognize individual achievements. People wilt when their best work goes unrecognized and unappreciated. They lose their drive and ambition. The spark of initiative fades out of their eyes. Offering raises, promotions, and benefits is one way of rewarding consistent hard work. But other ways exist, too. For instance, personally congratulating someone in public for their contribution does wonders.

2. Make the office less boring. Many high-tech businesses have grasped the idea of creating a less somber office environment. People may be allowed to remodel their cubicles to display their idiosyncratic preferences. Or they may be allowed to create their own schedule. An article in New York Times describes how Google does it: “Google lets many of its hundreds of software engineers, the core of its intellectual capital, design their own desks or work stations out of what resemble oversize Tinker Toys. Some have standing desks, a few even have attached treadmills so they can walk while working. Employees express themselves by scribbling on walls. The result looks a little chaotic, like some kind of high-tech refugee camp, but Google says that’s how the engineers like it.”

3. Make break rooms more fun. The idea of a break room is to get away from work for a short while to refresh the mind. Simple changes can have profound effects. Aramark Refreshments suggest refreshment with ice: “Ice machines are a growing treat for employees. Iced tea and coffee help make your workplace more friendly and productive. When employees feel more satisfied with their options, they work harder and more efficiently. And you finish first.” Another popular idea is to have a space for fun and games—video games, pool tables, dart boards.

4. Allow people to do their own thing one day a month. High paced work often forces people to fall behind in their personal projects. Imagine, then, allocating one day a month for people to do their own personal project. This can be anything people want. Perhaps, it’s catching up on their blog, doing their taxes, or planning their vacation. One day to come to the office and work on your own project! The idea of a paid day off has lost its novelty. People often don’t know what to do on this extra day off. But the idea of coming to the office and getting paid to do their own thing appears to fascinate people.

5. Spice things up a little. While predictability is a human need, so is variety. When things get too predictable, they also get boring. How can you make your office less boring? You can change things around a little. Match people with different teams to learn new skills. Change the wall décor once a month to a different nature scene. Focus on task completion rather than how many hours they work. When you think about it, there are many ways to make work more interesting by spicing things up a little.

A Positive Work Environment

Most businesses think of raising morale as offering bonuses, spiffs, perks, rewards, and awards. While these have their place, money and status is not the only reason why people work. They are also looking for a place where they can feel more positive about themselves and their career.

As a business owner, there are many ways to create a positive work environment:

• You can train managers to be more like counselors than school teachers.

• You can create a cash incentive program for the best ideas that will improve your business.

• You can offer mentorships to help people get up to speed in the skills they need to learn to do their work better.

• You can pay for employee’s certification programs to enhance their work skills.

• You can reserve one day a month for a company picnics. It gives people a chance to know each other outside the formality of work.

• You can organize work into teams to break feelings of isolation and to promote camaraderie, feedback loops, more productivity, and better performance. You can even have team competitions.

When people are happier at their work, they will do better work. Figure out what works to raise morale in your business.

Factors That Boost Blood Glucose Levels Besides Food

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By Jeremy Lim

diabeteswordIf you have high blood sugar, you absolutely must alter your diet to manage the disease. It’s not optional. Sadly, many diabetics are non-compliant and choose to eat whatever they wish, to the detriment of their own health. It doesn’t have to be this way, though. If you care about your life, stick to your prescribed diet. But, also consider making these important lifestyle changes.

Watch Medications

Some medications can negatively affect your blood sugar, so make sure you’re telling your doctor everything about your medical history and any drugs you’re taking. Even if you don’t think your drug has the side-effects that would account for odd glucose readings, mention it anyway. Some side-effects aren’t common, so they’re not listed as prominently.

Take It Easy With Caffeine

Caffeine affects diabetics differently than non-diabetics. And, even within the community of diabetics, not everyone reacts the same to it. Caffeine can raise blood sugar in some, especially if you tend to put sugar in your coffee. In others, it lowers blood sugar. When in doubt, test your blood. It will tell you everything you need to know.

Exercise

Exercise is almost universally beneficial for diabetics, helping them to stabilize their blood sugar levels. In general, exercise will lower blood sugar, but you should always test before and after a workout, and watch the amount of insulin you take prior to heavy weightlifting or aerobics. Speaking of which, you should include both aerobics and weight-bearing activities in your exercise routine.

Illness Affect Blood Sugar Too

Getting sick can throw off normal blood sugar readings. Generally, illness raises blood sugar levels, but not always. So, don’t go pumping yourself full of insulin. Always check first and confirm. And, every illness can bring different blood sugar readings.

Stress

womanIt shouldn’t be a surprise that stress can negatively affect blood sugar levels. Both physical and emotional stress can influence blood sugar. It can go in either direction, but that direction is usually up.

Reducing stress can also help keep your blood sugar under control, so try to find outlets for stress if you live a hectic lifestyle. Even going to a day spa once a month, getting regular massages, and chilling out with an epsom salt bath a few times a week can really help you manage your stress levels.

An infrared heat lamp can also be very calming, as can infrared saunas, hot tubs, and even regular sunbathing. Or, doing something as simple as reading or playing video games could do the trick. Experiment with different methods and find out what works best for you.

Obesity

It’s more difficult to control your weight when you have diabetes. However, you should do everything you can to maintain a normal weight because excess body fat contributes to high or hard-to-control blood sugar levels. Usually, dietary changes will include maintaining a low-carb diet, while exercising should consist of both weight-bearing and aerobic fitness.

– Jeremy Lim has been involved in the family health field for some time now. When he gets some free time, he likes to sit down and write about his experiences in an effort to help others. For more information on blood glucose levels view the glucometer at OneTouch.

6 Tips To Boost Your Confidence

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By David Johnson

mansmileWe all have days when we just aren’t our own biggest fan. But the truth is… you’re awesome! Here are some tips to help you remember this and tackle the day with your head held high.

Exercise regularly. Even if you feel like you are nowhere near your goal fitness level, the act of getting out and being active is an instant confidence booster. The better news: it’s also a long-term confidence and mood booster. Working out is an activity that positively impacts your physical and mental health, and makes you feel more in control of your appearance and confidence. Find a friend or colleague who is also interested in working out with you and make plans to hold each other accountable. The encouragement you give to each other will help you grow from one level of confidence (and fitness) to the next.

Dress for success. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to embrace your own personal style—and feel confident as a result. Don’t worry about trends when you buy clothing; instead, look for items that flatter your body shape and make you feel comfortable in your own skin. Even the addition of just a few items to your wardrobe every season add up over time and give you more to choose from when you are constructing your outward appearance each morning.

Get organized. While you can’t prepare for everything, there are a lot of things that you can control in order to feel more confidence in your daily routine. This applies to work, family life, and personal goals. The simple act of taking care of you and setting yourself up for success is a confidence booster. Spend a little time choosing a great outfit for tomorrow and lay it out for yourself tonight. Pack a healthy lunch and snacks to take to work after dinner tonight. Practice presentations in front of your spouse a few times before delivering them to your colleagues. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you can’t seem to show up anywhere on time, or can’t find the items you are looking for, or have trouble even finding the time to eat right. By doing some basic planning in advance, you will feel more confident and purposeful when it comes to the course of your day.

theroadupKeep improving. It’s in our human nature to like a challenge. When you become too locked into your daily routine or too comfortable, it can lead to a drop in confidence levels and overall happiness. Even if you don’t have much time to dedicate to something new, look for small ways to challenge yourself every day. Apply for a promotion at work. Tackle a home improvement project on your own. Find a road race and begin training for it. In every situation, ask yourself: How can I be better? Not better than anyone around you—better than you were the day before.

Do something that scares you. Step outside of your comfort zone and attempt something that makes you uncomfortable at first. By making progress on that activity, and potentially even mastering it one day, you will have a newfound confidence in that task—and in yourself too.

Don’t be afraid of change. It’s important to accept the person you truly are, both inside and out. Still, more than half of the women in the world feel say that they are their own worst beauty critic—but these women also feel empowered to change what they don’t like. This may mean something as simple as a new hair style or color, or something more permanent like fat-reducing laser treatments. Whether you want a new tattoo, a new apartment, or a new look—don’t be afraid of change. Be true to your authentic self and you can’t go wrong.

– David Johnson is the Creative Director at Verju. Verju by Erchonia is a new revolutionary device designed specifically for the treatment of cellulite. In his free time David enjoys writing, craft beers, and practicing Brazillian Jiu Jitsu at his local gym.

Boost Your Energy, Naturally And Deliciously

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By Kac Young PhD, ND, DCH

stresssleepingIf you’re feeling tired and lacking energy there are two things to consider. Is it chronic or is it temporary? If you have chronic low energy, you should see you doctor because something else might need attention such as your adrenals or thyroid. If you have times when you’re feeling worn out and exhausted from the have-to’s of life, then you might want to consider these three natural kickstarters that can help you feel more alive and have more energy.

Kickstarter #1: Lemons and oranges.

Did you know that vitamin C helps the cells transport and utilize fatty acids thus amping up your energy level? The vitamin C in citrus fruits can speed up the fat burning process and help you feel more energized. Add 3-4 thin slices of lemon or orange to your water to get that boost of Vitamin C and to help use fats as energy. It may also aid in weight loss.

Kickstarter #2: Cucumbers

The natural diuretic effects of cucumbers contain potassium and vitamins A and C which flush out toxins and keep your metabolism moving. Add 6-8 slices of cucumber to a pitcher of spring water and drink this all day long for a vital cool, refreshing drink.

Kickstarter #3: Cayenne Pepper

Research has shown that the capsaicin found in cayenne pepper can boost your metabolism shortly after ingesting it and make you feel fuller. While spicy water may not sound inviting, you might want to give it a chance before rejecting the whole idea. Mix slice strawberries, blueberries, and just half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper into your water. You’ll have a surprisingly sweet, calorie-melting pick-me-up with just little bit of kick. A touch of lime is also divine.

You can usually always find bottled water so a hint I like to include is to take a container of citrus slices, cucumber slices and the makings for the cayenne kickstarter with you, so you’ll always have a supply of natural helpers with you when you need them most. This helps you stay away from sweet snacks, sugars and saturated fats when you want a healthy energy lift.

– Kac Young, a former television director and producer, has earned a PhD in Natural Health and is a Doctor of both Clinical Hypnotherapy and Naturopathy. She is the author of 10 books. Heart Easy is a system of nutritionally sound, delicious meals that promote heart health, long life and taste great. In the Heart Easy Cook Book sound nutritional advice is followed by family favorites that have been turned into heart healthy meals anyone can make and everyone will love.

The Top 10 Quickest Ways To Boost Your Happiness

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By Jonathan Robinson

~ Author of Find Happiness Now: 50 Shortcuts for Bringing More Love, Balance and Joy Into Your Life

womantwistingArticles with titles like this usually offer up simple platitudes for being happy, such as “accept everyone,” or “live a balanced life.” While those ideas are true, they are also basically worthless. Such platitudes are so general that they don’t really give you anything that impacts your daily life. This article is different. I’m going to tell you what scientific research shows are the top 10 things you can quickly do to boost your level of happiness. By doing any of the 10 items that follow, you will almost surely feel dramatically better in under three minutes. In addition, by combining items from the list below, you can increase their effectiveness even more…

10. Look at pictures of people and animals you love on your smartphone or computer. As you look at each picture, remember an enjoyable time you had with them, and send them a silent wish that they live a happy and productive life.

9. Exercise-even if only for 3 minutes. Take a quick brisk walk, do some jumping jacks, whatever gets your heart going and your lungs breathing more deeply. In even a minute you’ll start to feel better. Hallelujah for such a simple thing.

8. Give someone money. Research shows that when we give to a needy person money, we immediately feel better about ourselves. It helps another person too, so it’s a win-win.

7. Get cooler. By going from a hot or warm environment to a cooler one, our mood and sense of happiness tends to go up. Hooray for air conditioning!

6. Work towards an important goal. Whether it be cleaning your desk or selling more widgets, when you feel like you’re making progress towards a specific and important goal, you invariably feel better. Just by reading all the way through this article, you’ll have achieved something-so you’ll feel good.

5. Tune into the power of gratitude. Just saying a sincere “Thank you” to people who serve you at a restaurant or bag your groceries can be a quick happiness booster. Another thing you can do to feel grateful is to write down three things you currently feel grateful for in your life. They could be big things-such as your children, or small things such as the great burger you had for lunch. By writing them down, you’ll immediately see that there is a lot of good in your life.

mansmile4. Do a 90-second “heart meditation” that consists of taking a deep breath and imagining exhaling out the center of your chest. Then, close your eyes and imagine someone you love-such as a pet, child, or friend. Remember special times with this being, and bask in the gratitude that they’re in your life. If you want, imagine hugging or holding them in a way that helps you to feel connected to them. This simple method can take you from stressed out to blissed out in about 90 seconds. Research shows that doing this for one minute can reduce your stress hormones for up to five hours.

3. Spend time with a beloved pet, toddler, and/or nature environment. Pets, young kids, and trees live in the moment they are in. You and I, on the other hand, spend most our time thinking about the past or worrying about the future. If you spend time playing with a pet, toddler, or enjoying nature, some of their ability to be present in the moment will rub off on you…

2. Play a song that you really enjoy and sing along. Here’s something to try: sing along with I Wanna Hold Your Hand by the Beatles and try to feel depressed. You can’t do it. By singing along with your favorite songs, you can lift yourself out of almost any bad mood.

1. … And, the winner for the single most effective way to quickly boost your happiness is: do an act of kindness for a stranger or friend. Yep, it’s true. When you do a small act of kindness, you feel better, your friend feels better, and the world has a bit more kindness in it. Even something small like saying what you appreciate about someone will immediately boost your level of well-being-as well as theirs.

…So now that you know the top 10 ways to quickly boost your happiness level, do something about it! The world could use a lot more happy people. After all, happy people are less selfish than “normal” people, they’re more productive, they make more money, and they are healthier than the rest of us. One simple way to boost your happiness this moment is for you to forward this article to friends and family. By doing that, you’ll be doing an act of kindness (the #1 booster!!), and helping those you care about feel even happier. What could be better than that? Do it now!

– Jonathan Robinson is the author of Find Happiness Now: 50 Shortcuts for Bringing More Love, Balance and Joy Into Your Life (Redwheel/Weiser/ Conari, March 2014) a fun book offering easy ways to create more fulfillment and real lasting happiness. Robinson has taught more than 100 million people simple ways to be happier–through TV shows such as Oprah and CNN, and with his nine best-selling books. In his latest book, he focuses on ideas and methods that can be done in under three minutes-yet still have a dramatic impact on a person’s life. For information, FindingHappiness.com

10 Ways To Boost Race Results When Training In A Polar Vortex

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jogsnowWith resolution time scheduled right in the middle of an annual deep freeze, we’re really not setting ourselves up for success—at least when it comes to popular fitness aspirations like running a marathon or triathlon. Right as we’re most motivated to hit the ground running, the ground’s suddenly covered in a foot of snow. But, short of switching our goal-setting holiday to Arbor Day, there is actually a solid list of training tactics you can employ indoors that go miles towards improving power, speed, and allover race performance, says Joel Ramirez, director of the Bay Club Company’s BreakAway Performance program. And no, they’re not all about spending mind-numbing hours on the hamster wheel.

With its first Pro Lab now open at Bay Club San Francisco, the race training program headed by Ramirez offers coaching and strategies to clients looking to take their swimming, biking or running performance to the next level. (Lucky for them, BreakAway’s recent acquisition by the Bay Club family of active lifestyle resorts means that athletes and beginners alike can take advantage of this elite-caliber training from the comfort of a full-service club, with amenities ranging from childcare to spa to wine club.) Here are Ramirez’s top ten tips for coming out of blizzard season on track to achieve a PR:

1. Keep off the ice. Unless you’re cross-training in skates. Running or biking in poor conditions isn’t hardcore; it’s just a good way to fall and sideline yourself from the spring race you already registered for. Yes, this is the one tip telling you to hit the treadmill or stationary bike. Try a set of 10 x 400 intervals; intervals train the body to buffer lactic acid, improving recovery times. Make sure to rest adequately between sets.

2. Hire a coach. “Even if you think you know everything, a trained set of eyes can find hidden opportunities for improvement,” says Ramirez. A good coach will make sure you train your weaknesses and race your strengths. Plus, you can do your initial consultation and diagnostic sessions from the cozy warmth of the gym.

3. Establish a baseline. Speaking of diagnostics, they’re not just for congratulating yourself upon looking back at how far you’ve come. A coach will use them to determine the optimal steady-as-she-goes program for you to achieve the results you want. Winter training is a critical time to rack up base mileage in order to build a solid foundation from which you can later build up your speed without injuries.

4. Plan your attack. Work canceled? A snow day is the perfect time to hammer out your macro cycle program—that is, your master training plan for the year. Include several preliminary races (your “B” and “C” events) before the big one and plan out your season so that you peak just at the right time for your “A” race.

womanweights5. Pump you up. Contrary to the stereotype of the muscle-bound lunk who can barely move, strength-training actually boosts horsepower and quickness in racers. Just twenty minutes of strength training a couple days a week will develop the fast-twitch type 2 muscle fiber you need to shave minutes off your PR.

6. Bend it like Buddha. Yoga (especially “power yoga”) improves flexibility, stabilization and range of motion, which are crucial for proper swim, bike and run biomechanics. And, it’s done in a toasty studio.

7. Cross the aisle. To the rowing machines. Cross-training with different cardio, kickboxing, racquetball—whatever—can help keep fitness levels up in the off-season and and burnout levels low. “Olympians and professionals do it; so should you!” says Ramirez. Polar vortex bonus: Shoveling snow works in a pinch.

8. Find Zen (or just the art of cycle maintenance). Plug in a space heater in the garage and bone up on bike mechanics so you’re not caught with your spandex down during the race. “What good is a super-fast swim-to-bike transition if rubbing brakes are robbing time?” says Ramirez.

9. Preheat your kitchen. It’s all too common to gain weight during the off season, especially if you follow every training session with enough food to feed the Olympic village. Higher-end health clubs may have an on-staff nutritionist (as the Bay Club does) who can help you design an eating plan focused on losing weight if appropriate and maximizing your power-to-weight ratio.

10. Take a load off. Don’t wait till you literally cannot get to the gym (because your car is still on the interstate where you abandoned it during an ice storm) to take a break. Regular rest days are absolutely required for progressing in your sport. Recovery periods are when muscles repair themselves and grow stronger. So kick off your sneaks, make some cocoa, tune in to the round-the-clock weather coverage…and know you’re right on task with your training goals.

About The Bay Club Company

Founded in 1977, The Bay Club Company (formerly Western Athletic Clubs) owns and operates six regional campuses from Marin County to San Diego, The Bay Club Company provides its members with the finest quality active lifestyle experiences. For 35 years, the Company has maintained the highest standards of professional service, earning a reputation as one of the leading private club companies in the United States. The Company employs approximately 2,000 people and is headquartered in San Francisco, California. For more information, visit www.bayclubs.com.

10 Bad Habits To Break In 2014 To Boost Fertility

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Dr. Edward Marut of Fertility Centers of Illinois shares tips to help couples conceive.

babyIf you’re hoping to have a baby in 2014, there a few bad habits that you’ll want to break. These changes will not only improve your health, but also give you a fertility boost.

“For couples trying to conceive, making some changes for the New Year can have a huge impact,” explains Dr. Edward Marut, Medical Director with Fertility Centers of Illinois. “Quitting smoking or cutting down on coffee, and getting more sleep can be the difference between trying to have a baby and becoming pregnant.”

Break these 10 bad habits in 2014 to supercharge conception efforts:

1. Stressing About Timing

Temperature charts and home ovulation kits add nothing if you are having intercourse two to four times per week. If you have regular periods, your fertile zone is Days 12-16. If your cycles are irregular, see a reproductive endocrinologist and relieve yourself of the stress and confusion that comes with home testing.

2. Ignoring your BMI Number

Body Mass Index is a number that is calculated using a person’s height and weight, and is used as an indicator of obesity and weight issues. Extra weight causes hormonal shifts that can affect ovulation and semen production, and can also make achieving a pregnancy more difficult. Conversely, being underweight can cause irregular or absent periods. The ideal Body Mass Index (BMI) falls in the 20-25 range. The CDC provides a BMI calculator to help assess your BMI number. The positive news: losing as little as 5-10 percent of body weight can significantly improve fertility potential in overweight patients. Also, being a little overweight is better than being underweight.

3. Eating Junk Food

If you’re putting junk in your body, you aren’t getting the nutrition you need. Limit or cut out processed foods, sweets, and saturated fats. Make meals that include fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, and don’t overdo carbohydrates. Too many carbohydrates can lead to the production of ovarian hormones, which can interfere with ovulation and cause harm to women with PCOS. At the same time, don’t punish yourself if you have a craving. A little bit of fun food never hurts, and may relieve the urge to feast on guilty pleasures.

4. Avoiding a Doctor Appointment

If you’ve been trying for a year and you’re under 35, or if you’ve been trying for six months and you’re over 35 and have not yet achieved a pregnancy, it’s time to talk to a specialist. Knowledge is power, and there may be simple changes you can make to help achieve conception. A consultation and basic fertility evaluation is an affordable way to get a snapshot of fertility potential. If you are under 35, having basic testing done which returns normal results may allow for a few more cycles of trying without pursuing treatment.

nosmoking5. Lighting Up That Cigarette

We all know smoking is unhealthy, but there are numbers to prove it. A report by the British Medical Association showed that smokers may have up to a 10-40% lower monthly fecundity (fertility) rate. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has estimated that up to 13% of infertility may be caused by tobacco use. Smoking as few as five cigarettes per day has been associated with lower fertility rates in males and females. Smoking, whether tobacco or marijuana, is also associated with miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, pregnancy complications and stillborn births – even if it’s the male partner doing the smoking.

6. Going Big at Starbucks

Even though up to two cups of coffee have been shown to be safe in pregnancy, exceeding that when trying to conceive may be counterproductive. One study showed that “women who consumed more than the equivalent of one cup of coffee per day were half as likely to become pregnant, per cycle, as women who drank less.” Better to use decaffeinated or half-caffeinated coffee, and remember there is caffeine in tea, cola and chocolate.

7. Using Water-Based Lubricant

If you’re trying to conceive, water-based lubricant may be working against your efforts. Water-based lubricants such as Astroglide and KY Jelly may inhibit sperm movement by 60-100 percent within 60 minutes of intercourse. The swimmers can’t win the race and reach the prize if they can’t move. Opt for natural oils, oil-based lubricants or even cooking oil, but be sure to keep any potential allergies in mind. If you’re allergic to peanuts, then peanut oil may not be for you. Pre-Seed lubricant is a commercial product that may even enhance motility (movement) of sperm.

8. “Catching Up” On Sleep

If you aren’t getting the sleep you need per night, no amount of “catch up” can make up for lost rest. Research shows that the hormone leptin, which has a critical role in female fertility, is reduced when the body is deprived of sleep. Rest for at least seven hours per night, and be aware of your body’s needs.

9. Not Seeking Support

A study concluded that women with infertility felt as anxious and depressed as those diagnosed with cancer, hypertension, or recovering from a heart attack. If you’re concerned about your fertility, don’t walk the path alone. Talk to your partner, see a counselor (with your partner or alone), and find a support group or forum where you can speak with others who can relate. One in six couples experiences difficulty when trying to conceive – the odds are that someone you know is feeling the same way you are.

10. “Saving Up” for Ovulation

There is no need to “save up” sperm for sex during ovulation, or have intercourse multiple times per day leading up to ovulation. Don’t let trying to conceive interfere with a pleasurable sex life. Aim to have sex two to four times per week when it feels right.

To read the complete article…..Click here

– Courtesy of PRWeb

Boost Your Fitness Website’s Visibility With Creative Web Design

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By Sarah Hess

seocloudWith the advent of globalization, it’s become a crowded market place. As a San Diego web designer, I see a lot of businesses competing to gain attention, particularly in the fitness and health industries. How is a business to stand out of the crowd when there’s a million franchises in the same town offering the same bootcamp exercises, the same low cal juicing options, and more? The answer is simple: set your business apart with creative web design. Let’s discuss how your business can dominate its niche with top notch web design.

Don’t Blend In, Stand Out!

When consumers search the internet for fitness programs, or healthy food alternatives, they’re looking for something specific. What many businesses don’t understand is they’re looking for something that is both visually pleasing as well as being informative and entertaining. How is a business to accomplish these lofty goals?

The following ideas can help a business to stand out and distinguish itself as a leader in the fitness and health industries:

• Branded unique website. How many websites rely upon tired templates that freebie sites offer? The same color scheme, the same icons and widgets exist in every single fitness site it seems. Absent a branded scheme offered by some of the larger fitness brands, this seems to be a recurring problem in the industry. The good news is, that for less than businesses imagined, they can step out of that rut and get custom designed website content that reflects their unique brand, spirit, and goals. Personalization speaks to consumers. We all ultimately want to feel like we’re receiving a unique experience when we frequent a business and a customized branded website can offer that experience.

• Easy to use navigation. When consumers visit a website, they’re looking for clean, easy to use web design. As a San Diego web designer, I often see businesses have cluttered their navigation, making it nearly impossible for some users to navigate around the site. How are consumers supposed to find what they need and then convert into a sale if a business makes this difficult for them? A good web designer can clean up a site so that it is easy to use and facilitates conversion.

seo• SEO friendly. Search engines want to feature the best, most relevant content for users. But many businesses offer up websites that are counterproductive to that goal. As search engine algorithms change, so too do the requirements to rank highly. Best practices dictate that web designers should focus on clean code, a variety of content, informative and educational content that is a minimum of 400 words of text per page, and more. Businesses seeking to rank well are encouraged to seek the help of a web design firm who can create a website that takes advantage of these SEO friendly tools and anticipates future changes.

• Social plug ins. These days, a business who isn’t present in social media is stuck in the past. They’re also not able to reach consumers in the places they congregate online. Social media is becoming increasingly important as both a method for consumers to find and evaluate the businesses they consider frequenting, but also as an SEO tool. Search engines are increasingly considering the social signals that indicate a website is valuable. The more people interact and share a business’ social content, the higher they will rate in search engines.

It’s Time to Get Creative!

When it comes to positioning a business online, the trick is to think creatively. Good marketing begins with creative web design. All the top notch marketing efforts in the world won’t be able to make up for website shortcomings. Consumers can be drawn to the website, but will they stay? Will they interact? Will they ultimately convert into paying customers? It’s time to start thinking about the important pieces of branding, positioning, and ultimately marketing a successful fitness and health business. And that begins with creative web design.

– Sarah Hess is CEO and owner of Sarah Hess Designs, a full service San Diego web design firm. Sarah specializes in creating websites and marketing materials for small to mid- size businesses that help to position them as leaders in the marketplace. Many of Sarah’s clients are fitness and health industry clients who have found great success with her team’s dynamic designs supported by responsive internet marketing tools. To connect with Sarah, please visit: http://www.sarahhessdesigns.com

Boost Your Metabolism With These Easy Tips

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By Helen Agresti R.D.

water1. Say good morning to your body. Drink at least 8 oz. of water when you wake up. Water purifies the body and makes for a more favorable environment for nutrients to be absorbed. Aim for a minimum of 64 oz. per day.

2. Eat a well-balanced breakfast. Your first meal of the day should include protein, carbohydrate, and fiber. Keep variety and timing a priority. We don’t eat the same thing for dinner every night. Why do we eat the same thing for breakfast everyday? Give your metabolism a boost by eating within an hour and a half of waking up.

3. Make time for lunch. Fueling our engines every 3-4 hrs. with real food is essential to our metabolism. We’d never allow our cars to run on the wrong type of gas or on empty. Avoid convenience foods and map out your healthy meals and snacks.

4. Distribute your calories evenly throughout the day. Waiting until the evening hours to consume the majority of your calorie needs increases insulin levels, promotes fat storage, and results in weight gain. By the end of the day, our metabolism slows down and doesn’t burn calories as efficiently.

turmeric5. Add some spice. Cayenne pepper, ginger, and dark mustard are just a few of the many spices that kick the metabolism into high gear. Their thermogenic effect naturally raises the metabolism and can burn up to 50 calories per meal.

6. Increase your lean body mass. We have the ability to increase our lean body mass. Incorporate weight or resistance training into your workout routine 2-3x per week. The more LBM you have the higher your metabolism is at rest.

7. Sleep well. Not getting enough sleep will slow down our metabolism. It can lead to a ravenous cycle of overeating. When we’re tired we don’t want to cook which leads to poor food choices. Try to sleep 7-8 hrs. a night. In turn, this will increase your leptin hormone level which communicates with the brain when you’re appetite is satisfied.

– Helen Agresti is a Registered Dietitian with Professional Nutrition Consulting, LLC. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and 5 children. For more Nutrition advice and healthy recipes follow her on twitter @HelenAgresti and on the web at www.pronutritionconsulting.com.

10 Ways To Boost Your Cognitive Fitness And Longevity

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By Dennis Kravetz

brainWe normally associate the term cognitive development with babies and children. While many adults do not think of developing themselves cognitively, they should do so, particularly since cognition is one of the four categories of fitness that can add up to 15 years onto our life and greatly impact the quality of those extra years.

You can be many years younger than your chronological age by making certain lifestyle choices, including those that tax or challenge the brain. Research over the past 20 years has shown that certain regions of the adult brain can generate new neurons and new synapses. In essence, whenever we learn something new, engage in new activities, or even ponder a new concept, the brain will rewire itself in response to these activities. Just like babies, adults can keep growing their brain and protect cognitive functioning as they age.

There are many positive ways to build better cognition and to lessen the chances of developing diminished cognitive ability, dementia, or Alzheimer’s later on in life, all of which make us act old and feel old. Here are ten of them.

Exercise to improve cognitive function.
Exercise increases blood flow to the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain responsible for memory. One recent study found that the loss of tissue density in the brain was less in those who were aerobically fit, which is another way of saying fit people have better cognitive functioning. Many other studies show that exercise increases one’s ability to learn, handle stressful situations, make clear decisions, and recall facts and memories.

Watching TV is cognitively enriching when it takes effort to understand what you’re watching, or sparks questions, ideas, or “aha” moments.

Watch TV and read “actively.”
The difference between watching The Bachelorette and watching an educational science show is how active your brain has to be. Watching TV is cognitively enriching when it takes effort to understand what you’re watching, or sparks questions, ideas, or “aha” moments. The same is true for reading. A celebrity tabloid magazine takes less brain power to flip through than, say, a magazine such as Smithsonian.Develop new connections in your brain by reading something that’s instructive instead of merely entertaining. After reading or watching TV, make yourself recall what you just learned. This exercise boosts retention.

Take up a new hobby.
Increase cognitive enrichment by taking on a new active pursuit that requires learning, as opposed to merely attending a baseball game or concert. Some examples include: gardening, antiquing, taking up an instrument, raising chickens, learning a foreign language, or selling items on the internet. Read books, talk to experts, take classes, attend conferences, or join organizations related to your hobby. All of this learning activity develops new connections between neurons, which helps offset cell loss due to aging or disease.

Solve all types of puzzles.
Puzzles are an outstanding way to build new connections in the brain. There are many types of puzzles other than crosswords. These include acrostics, cryptograms, syllacrostics, and many other word-oriented brain teasers. Some brain teasers don’t involve words at all, such as Sudoku. It’s particularly good for your brain to seek out a variety. Or start with one type, and as you get better, switch to another type of puzzle. Your brain will establish new connections for each particular type of puzzle.

Play board games and card games.
Games that involve strategy are excellent for the brain, especially those that involve puzzle solving or new learning of some sort, such as Scrabble, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, Trivial Pursuit, Monopoly, and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire–all available in digital form as well. Chess and checkers are excellent games because almost every game is unique, requiring a different set of strategies each time. Card games can similarly help preserve cognitive functioning because the player continues to perfect the most effective strategies according to the opponent’s playing style. You can also play card games with a computer!

Visit museums, zoos, and historical sites.
There are many specialty museums as well as zoos and historical sites that will help you build better cognition. To get the most out of the visit from a cognitive standpoint, don’t be a passive visitor. Read the signage next to the exhibits, try to repeat the key information to yourself, and then do it again once or twice during or after your visit. Not only will you retain what the exhibits were about, but with some occasional recall attempts, you increase the odds of being able to recall the information months or even years later.

Become a student again.
Many continuing education courses are available that do not require being in a degree program–you merely sign up for one or two courses whenever you feel like it. Relatively inexpensive courses are available through community colleges. As a student, you will get many chances to learn new things, and most instructors will give you tests that will force you to recall the information learned. Nondegree classes are offered in many areas, from technical subjects to local community history, public speaking, relationships, poetry, and other friendly topics.

Attend workshops.
Workshops, conferences, and other gatherings where professionals in their field share their knowledge offer another way to build cognitive function through active learning. While these are commonly offered in a person’s profession, you may find many others connected with hobbies and personal interests. One that came across my desk recently, for example, was a workshop on how to trace your family’s ancestry. Another was amateur backyard astronomy.

womanReduce stress.
People with high amounts of stress are more likely to suffer from cognitive problems than those who are free of stress. While medications can reduce the symptoms of stress, they do not cure the problem or help you understand the root cause of the stress, which is key. Since many meds require ever-increasing dosages to be effective, and many have side effects, it is important to reduce stress in more natural ways, including exercise, naps, individual counseling, meditation, relaxing hobbies, spiritual growth, and other means.

Address depression.
Depressed individuals are more likely to suffer from cognitive problems later in life than those who are free of depression. As with stress, many people who are depressed merely run to their family doctor and say, “Can you give me something for being depressed?” and walk away with a prescription. No attempt is made to find out what is causing the depression in the first place, let alone cure it. As with stress, there are ways to bring about a long-lasting solution to depression besides medication, including individual counseling, exercise, spiritual growth, career rejuvenation, goal setting, and other techniques.

– Dennis Kravetz is a psychologist, physical fitness buff, business consultant, and writer whose lifelong passion has been to study and research how to extend the human lifespan and improve the quality of one’s life with a healthy lifestyle. He’s the author of eight books, most recently A Sound Mind in a Sound Body: Live Long, Live Healthy(KAP Books, 2013). Learn more at: www.longlife4me.com.