Running races have jumped in popularity the past decade. Women, especially, have taken to participating in foot races in droves. Honestly, I avoided running at all costs growing up. I was never very fast and I found it akin to torture at the time. Now that I’m older and wiser, I appreciate the benefits of walking, jogging and running. It’s good for our hearts, not to mention good for your self image as your thighs slim down and tone up. Your clothes will fit better and you’ll love your new physique (assuming you stick to a healthy and balanced diet, of course).
My brother is a seasoned runner, having participated in dozens of races in his young life. He is now into “ultra marathons” and is currently in Mexico running a 100k (or 62 miles) race! Talk about goals! He inspired me to get off the couch and into a pair of running shoes during one of his visits to San Francisco. We were relaxing in my apartment watching a documentary called “The Spirit of the Marathon”. One of the characters featured in this inspirational film was 80 years old. I was astounded and thought “My gosh, if he can do it, I can do it!” This experience sparked the fire in my belly to embrace running as exercise.
Keep in mind, you might not be “built” like a runner, but everyone has the capacity to ease into running, even if you are overweight. The keywords are “ease into”. The last thing you want to do is run 3 miles when you haven’t done it in years, or even months. This is a recipe for injury. If you have health issues, consult a doctor before you start on your epic running journey.
Here are some easy steps to get you started:
The great thing about running is anyone can do it. I like to run alone because it’s a huge mental challenge for me and I like to “get in the zone” during a long run. I enjoy my “alone” time; I feel relaxed and at peace when finished. But others find running much more enjoyable with another person or in a running group. The important thing is to get out there and get started! Set a realistic goal for yourself. The hardest part is always resolving to take the first step.
Helpful links for novice runners:
Best Running Apps
Running for Beginners
11 Tips for Newbie Runners
Our modern lives can be very sedentary. As office workers, we spend most of our day sitting in a vehicle during our commutes, then sitting at a desk for most of the day. This can be very bad for our hearts since we are not getting enough cardiovascular exercise. Our posture can also suffer. Neck and back pain are very common for those of us spending hours sitting at a desk. If you have a desk job, as well, here are some ways to increase your activity levels during the work day:
The stressful periods of sitting at my desk for many hours while trying to meet looming deadlines and simultaneously dealing with demanding bosses contributed to a debilitating neck pain I suffered with for 3 few years. With the help of the tips above, I was able to get the chronic pain in check. It still creeps up during stressful times at the office, but now I have the tools to reduce the pain.
Also, check out the methods and tips established by Dr. Gokhale found at her website. She visited our office and presented her findings regarding posture during a lunchtime presentation that was also recorded for a public radio show. It was a life-changing experience! Did you know there is a “proper” and natural way for humans to sit, walk and even sleep? I didn’t -- but now that I know, I implemented these tips and my pain has significantly reduced thanks to Dr. Gokhale’s methods.
Think about the new habits you can establish for yourself to get up and get moving for a healthier you.
Find more tips to stay active throughout the day here:
Staying Active in the Office by Dr. Mercola
How to Stay Active in a Sedentary Job
How to Avoid Weight Gain While at a Desk Job
Easy (and Delicious) Breakfast Ideas
Mornings can be so hectic. The last thing we want to think about is putting together a breakfast that will provide healthy nutrition. These quick and flavourful meals contain a healthy allotment of protein, keeping you full well into lunch time.
Confession: I like foods that are easy to prepare. Here are 3 options that only take 10 minutes to assemble. I like to alternate the recipes every couple of weeks.
½ cup rolled oats
¼ cup nonfat Greek yogurt
¾ cup unsweetened coconut milk (or milk of your choice)
½ frozen blueberries (or fruit of your choice)
1 tsp raw honey
1 tsp chia seeds
1 tbsp slivered almonds
Mix all the ingredients in a portable container. I like to use mason jars for my overnight oats. Cover and let soak overnight. Top with slivered almonds in the morning. Can be taken “on the go” or enjoyed at home.
FILLING EGGS + BABY SPINACH
Eggs are one of my favorite foods. Who doesn't enjoy eggs in the morning? Here is a quick and easy recipe I learned from a fitness-loving acquaintance of mine. It’s very filling!
3 eggs whites
1 egg yolk
2 cups of baby Spinach, washed
Dash salt and paper
Heat a small pan with medium heat. Add 2 sprays of cooking spray. Stir the eggs until cooked to your liking. Season with salt and pepper. Remove immediately and top with one tablespoon of salsa or a slice of tomato. Serve with berries.*
*Berries are some of the most fiber-dense foods on the planet. Naturally occurring fiber is filling. Strawberries can be substituted, but fiber count will be lower.
Nutritional information: 314 calories, 7 g fat, 612 mg sodium, 42g carbs, 14g fiber, 10g sugars, 26g protein
MEGA FRUIT & YOGURT BOWL
Here is another great tasting and easy recipe from Hungry Girl. The yogurt bowl can be prepared the night before or even in batches as much as 4 days in advance. I like to substitute a banana for the apple and I skip the no-calorie sweetener.
6 ounces (about ⅔ cup) of fat free plain Greek yogurt
1 no-calorie sweetener packet (optional)
⅛ teaspoon cinnamon, or more to taste
1 ½ cup chopped apple (or any other fruit)
¼ cup Fiber One bran cereal
½ ounce slivered almonds or pistachios (about 12 almonds or 24 pistachios)
In a medium bowl, mix sweetener (optional) and cinnamon into yogurt. Top with fruit, cereal and nuts!
Nutrition information: 313 calories, 7.5g fat, 134 mg sodium, 50g carbs, 13g fiber, 27g sugar, 22g protein
Source: The Hungry Girl Diet by Lisa Lillien. Copyright March 2015.
Check out more free recipes from Hungry Girl on her website.
The great thing about these recipes is they can be customized to suit your tastes. Feel free to experiment with different ingredients to find a combination that you love. If you personalize the recipes and make it your own, chances are you’ll actually look forward to eating a healthy breakfast every day.
Skip the unhealthy fast food breakfast options and carve out 10 minutes out of your day for the simple, easy, nutritious, and delicious version. Do you have any favorite quick and healthy go-to breakfast recipes? Share in the comments below.
What if, after paying all your mandatory obligations for the month, you don’t have 20% of earnings left over to place in savings? You might have a large amount of credit card debt. Or you (or a family member) got sick and you’re saddled with extravagant medical bills. Perhaps you were laid off. Or you have a penchant for expensive clothes or accessories and are living above your means.
If you are in this situation, do not despair. There are realistic solutions to getting you out of debt.
Last Resort: Bankruptcy
What if the amount of your debt feels insurmountable? You’ve crunched the numbers and don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Bankruptcy is an option for you. Bankruptcy was put in place to help individuals and companies that have gone too far out into the debt abyss. Think of bankruptcy as providing a clean slate to your financial woes. If you feel comfortable doing research and filling out forms, you can file foe bankruptcy yourself and save yourself legal fees. The great thing is all the information you need is available free of charge on the court’s website.
If you do not feel comfortable filing for bankruptcy the “self-help” route, then contact a legal document preparer to fill out the documents for you. Do some research into reputable document preparers in your area. Make sure the preparer you select is registered with the Secretary of State. This is a mandatory requirement by the state of California. By circumventing the attorney, you will save considerable amounts in legal fees.
Bankruptcy should be your absolute last resort to obtaining debt relief. It is not to be taken lightly and should not be abused. But it is also a great way to provide you with some breathing room. These laws were created to provide relief. The downside is that once you file for bankruptcy, your credit score will take a hit and the bankruptcy will show up for 7 years on your credit report. But this is not necessarily a bad thing: think of these 7 years as a way for you to start building better money habits. It’s a way to establish a new beginning for a financially secure future.
There is no worse feeling than losing control over your finances. You feel like you’re spiraling out of control into a black hole of debt. You feel depressed, ashamed and like a failure. Use those feelings of despair to fuel you to a better future for you and your loved ones.
Take the first step to alleviating your debt by making small changes to your daily life. You must have a serious desire to improve your finances if you want to see results. You have to really want it. Use that fire in your belly to achieve financial freedom. Aim for early retirement. We’ll delve into ways to save for retirement in future posts. And no, it’s never too early to think about saving for retirement.
Check out these useful links re: Alleviating Significant Debt
33 Proven Ways To Reduce Your Debt
Young Finances: Simple Personal Finance for Millennials
The Motley Food: To Educate, Amuse and Enrich
It does not take an economic expert to see that today’s US economy is growing at a slower pace than it was 10 years ago. In 2008, the world economy was rocked by an economic crisis. Some economists have dubbed this phase the “Great Recession”. While we haven’t reached Great Depression era levels, we are certainly feeling the ill effects of today’s economic downturn. Wages are stagnating and poverty levels are rising. We do not have a miraculous recovery in sight. As such, personal finance (and saving money, in particular) is more important now than ever before.
In later posts, we’ll delve into how you can earn more money and then subsequently invest it; today, however, we’ll discuss the importance of saving more money.
Create a Budget
Carve out a few minutes in a quiet space with a pen and paper handy so you can focus on creating your budget. You will return to this budget frequently, so use a designated notebook if you like to keep everything on paper, or create a digital document that you can refer to repeatedly. I like to use Google Docs for my budget planning. It’s free and can be pulled up from any computer.
Start by creating a few lists. First, create a list of your fixed and variable expenses for the month. These are bills you have to pay without fault every month, such as your cell phone bill. Second, create a list of the money that you have coming in every month. If you get paid on the 1st and 15th of the month, list the dates and amounts of your pay days. If your earnings vary by month, use a smart estimate. Third, create a table incorporating this information.
Here is a sample budget I created. You can view, save and print from Google docs.
This basic table provides me with an easy way to see what my monthly budget looks like at a glance. Feel free to customize it to fit your individual needs. By creating this table and referring to it regularly, you’ll know exactly where your money goes and how much money you have to play with throughout the month. Most importantly, you’ll want to set aside a chunk of your monthly earnings for savings. How much should you save each month? A widely used standard to figure this out is the “50/30/20 rule”:
Ideally, 20% of your earnings should go into your savings. However, if this feels like a hefty amount for your situation, start by saving an amount that is feasible for you.
What if you don’t have the money?
If you don’t have the money to allocate for 20% savings each month (let’s say for example you are paying more than 50% in rent and necessities, or you are not making enough money to cover all your bases) then alternative solutions include moving to a place with lower rent or finding a job that pays more, or making extra income with a part-time job. We’ll get into more detail on finding the perfect “side gig” for you in future posts.
In the meantime, start creating your budget if you haven’t already. It’s the first and easy step to getting control of your personal finances. Your future self will thank you.
Additional Links Regarding Saving Money in Today’s Economy:
25 Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget
How Can I Trim $500 from My Monthly Spending
Live Within Your Means