Investing in Your Mental Well-Being

Hmm … where did I leave those keys? What did I come in here for? What was I going to say? Or in my case – 'you just asked me that question dad', to which I think, I do not remember getting an answer, in fact, I do not even remember asking the question.

Being mentally responsive and perceptive is something a lot of people take for granted and does not give a second thought to. Unfortunately, your memory is a precious thing that needs to be taken care of and kept 'in shape'. Believe it or not, we do not realize how valuable our memory really is until it is taken from us as we get older, or for some, when stricken with health issues.

Taking care of your mind means you will need to invest in things that keep it sharp and responsive. Believe it or not, it is as easy as having regular sleep patterns, uninterrupted rest, exercise, less stress and mental challenges. All of which, can cause a loss of mental alertness when ignored.

Investing in yourself is a foreign concept, especially for those with busy schedules and families to tend to. For example, mothers are unselfish and unwavering when it comes to their children. When a new mothers will tend to their babies while everyone else is eating. If she is lucky she will eat with the babies still in her arms or after everyone has gone to bed.

Improving your concentration and focus should be something you work at every day. If you do it consistently, it will definitely prove rewarding. Experts suggest that investing in certain food and brain fitness items will go a long way to sharpening your mind. Brain fitness is an actual term that means "the capacity of a person to meet the various cognitive demands of life."

To get your brain fit again, try:

  • Word searches
  • Crossword puzzles
  • Mind teasers
  • Sudoku
  • Scrabble
  • Taking a course in something new
  • Reading books that make you think

When I read the part about taking a course in something new, I suddenly understood why my children used to come home from school saying that their heads hurt. Learning a lot of new things is taxing and tiring, but education is an investment in their mental capacity, and should not be ignored. Teaching others is also something that keeps your mind sharp and thinking. Teaching a new college the ways of the office, walking a volunteer through what you do on a daily basis or helping your children with their math homework. All of these are good for you and should be thought of as investing in yourself.

In addition to brain exercises, physical fitness helps you maintain mental stability and focus. Studies have shown, and I have personal experiences that prove, that aerobic exercising several times a week will improve your self-esteem. Regular exercise clears your mind of everything else that was there and allows you to focus on the tasks at hand. Investing in a pair of running shoes and tackling a new and challenging sport will certainly pay off in more ways than one.

The phrase, you are what you eat, certainly applies when it comes to investing in your mental wellbeing. A deficiency in Vitamin B and Omega 3 Fatty Acids can lead to poor cognitive functions.

There are certain foods, seeds and natural health alternatives that have been linked to mental stamina. It is well worth looking into these items and investing in them. Some include:

  • Green tea
  • Dark chocolate
  • Garlic
  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products
  • Seeds
  • Whole grains
  • Flaxseed

Antioxidant-rich foods are not only tasty, they're also good for mental stamina. They include:

  • Fruit: black plums, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, sweet cherries, avocado, oranges, grapefruits and grapes
  • Vegetables: dark green leafy vegetables, orange vegetables, spinach and kale

In the end, investing in your mental health will not only result in a sound mind and body, it will also make a happier you. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "Concentration is the secret of strength." Go ahead, invest in your mental wellness for a sharper more efficient you.

My Dog Training Squirrels!

I have a person who is masquerading as a dog at my house. His name is Tuxcitto. The reason I say this is that no normal dog can take random information and figure out the things that Tuxcitto does everyday. I have a perfect example in the following story of Tuxcitto and our resident squirrel population. You never know who's doing the dog training around our house.

Before Tuxcitto came along last fall, we had one dog named Spoofy. She's an older dog and has been with us since she was a puppy. Spoofy loves to chase squirrels. Back in her younger days she almost done one or two. But These days the squirrels have their way with her and get just close enough to tease her, and then easily run up the nearest tree.

But that was soon to change when Tuxcitto arrived. I learned in the first few weeks that Tuxcitto was an experienced escape artist. Until we came to an agreement, he would often take off and run through the vicinity heather and yon until he got thirsty, hungry, or I came and caught him. During this period he was usually bound to a long tether tied to our front tree if we were not outside with him.

Since we now agree that he will not run around the neighborhood he gets to go out with Spoofy and our two cats, Blackie and Baby with out being tethered. During the time that he was tethered, he often watched a little game play out with Spoofy and our local squirrels. He was always interested but never really participated since he knew the 30 feet of tether limited him. Or at least that's what I believe now in hindsight.

Our resident squirrels do not needlessly come by everyday. They come pretty often since they love to rob our birdfeeders and tease Spoofy. But there are plenty of dogs and birdfeeders to visit in our neighborhood so they feel obliged to give all some attention. So the first few times that Tuxcitto was free to roam there were no squirrels in the area.

Now Tuxcitto is a Border Collie who has tremendous speed and agility, since the breed is a natural at herding animals. I have seen Tuxcitto clear a 5 foot fence with room to spare. These are popular dogs for freebie competitions. So he has a lot of natural talent. But beyond that, this dog is smarter than a lot of people I know and enjoys demonstrating this on any occasion.

So one morning I go to let the dogs and cats for their midmorning break. My neighbor happened to be out working in the yard so all four animals had to trot over over to see what he was doing. I traveled and followed the crowd. As I was talking to my neighbor, the animals lost interest and wandered back into our yard.

I am so grateful that I had a witness for what followed. As my neighbor and I talked I noticed the squirrels working their way way over to my yard through the trees. As soon as they got close they started chattering at Spoofy. Spoofy's ears perked up, she jumped up and was ready for the game to begin. But little did the squirrels know that the rules were about to be drastically changed.

The squirrels talked to each other and scampered down a nearby tree. Not all the way to the ground, just to the bottom of the trunk. As they were eyeing Spoofy, and looking to another tree about 40 feet away they ignored Tuxcitto laying just to the right of Spoofy. I'm sure they never considered him a threat since he had never joined in the game before.

I think they were very confident that they could reach the next tree before that old fat Spoofy could even get within 15 feet. And that was probably true, no doubt about it since I had seen this played out many times. So the squirrels got ready to jump, and Spoofy was ready to lunge after them. And Tuxcitto was just watching as usual.

The squirrels leaped down and started to scamper across the 40 feet of grass separating the trees. Spoofy lunged after them coming up on their rear. But what caught my eye was an explosion of Tuxcitto leaping off the ground, not chasing after the squirrels as Spoofy was but going directly for the tree to cut them off.

And he got there in about 3 or 4 seconds, far ahead of the squirrels. In fact the squirrels about went into a train wreck trying to stop their forward momentum towards the tree. In about 5 seconds this had turned from familiar game to their biggest nightmare. A dog was blocking each tree and there was nowhere to go.

And Tuxcitto stand in front of them like a coiled spring waiting to see which way they were going to go. And good old Spoofy, finally seeing that there was a real opportunity here to finally catch these little devils, was running full speed towards them from the rear.

The squirrels decided that they did not want anything to do with Tuxcitto and turned to run back to the original tree. As soon as they moved Tuxcitto burst into action and actually caught up with them as they all got to the tree. Spoofy was a little late since she had to do a full stop and then turn around to head in the opposite direction.

I do not think Tuxcitto was even trying to catch the squirrels, he just wanted to beat them to the tree. I'm not sure who got there first, it was a tight finish. My neighbor turned to me and said "it's a good thing Tuxcitto was just playing or there would have been two less squirrels in the neighborhood". Both dogs sat there for a while looking up at the squirrels but lost interest in a few minutes.

The amazing thing about this little adventure was the fact that Tuxcitto had watched Spoofy and the squirrels perform this little game several times. Tuxcitto had learned from Spoofy that just chasing the squirrels was not the best strategy. Between watching Spoofy and his natural herding instincts, Tuxcitto had figured out the best way to beat those squirrels. And he knew exactly what both Spoofy and the squirrels were going to do and so when he got the opportunity, he was ready.

That's a good way to train a young dog, put them with an older dog that knows what to do and let them learn from the more experienced animal. Of course in this case Tuxcitto learned what not to do, but the same principal applies. Tuxcitto has learned a lot from watching Spoofy since he joined the family. And he also learned from the squirrels, since they repeatedly did the same thing. So dog training around this house is up for grabs.

The epilog to this story is that the squirrels never get out of the trees now. They still come over and chatter at the dogs but they know better than to try and make a break for the nearby tree on the ground. But they still have a few birdfeeders to rob so our yard still gets frequent visits.

Intelligent Ways Of Investing

Let's say you've got your hands on a pretty large sum of money. The first thing you bought to do is handle any withstanding debt that you may have; Then, you should establish a sum of money that you need for immediate expenses and small extravaganzas. As for the amount you have left, it's best to invest it in order to start producing revenue for the years to come.

One of the best investment opportunities in the world is gold. This precious metal has a consistently high value and is considered to be an actual hedge against inflation and other similar processes, so it's rather safe to buy even in these times of financial uncertainty. You can purchase it in whatever shape suits you best, whether it's bullion, stocks or derivatives. However, keep in mind that the first two are longer long-term oriented, while the last one can bring you quick profits, but is pretty risky at the same time. Just make sure you have the appropriate storage means, so that you will not be exposed to the risk of being robbed.

Another good idea would be to acquire stocks or shares in a company. If the firm obtains profits, your investment will increase in value; Contradarily, if it goes bankrupt, your shares will also plummet to the ground. This is why it's very important that you first take some time and analyze the current situation of the company in which you're about to invest. Make sure you take a look at its policies towards investors, as well as any other matters that may be of interest to you. This way, there will not be any unpleasant surprises for you down the way.

If gold and stocks are not exactly your thing, there's always the alternative of buying real estate. This kind of purchase can be quite expensive, so it's not something to do on a whim. Still, some people say it worth the trouble, since it can bring you a much larger amount of income in the following years, especially if you decide to rent it or re-sell the property when prices have gone up.

Finally, be aware that most experts agree it's best to create a diversified portfolio of investments. Use part of your money for larger purchases, such as real estate, another part for stocks and shares, and the rest for commodities. This way, you will be "covered" no matter what happens to a particular market or to the economy itself.

12 Week Personal Training Program – Functional Resistance Training

Moving on to the intermediate level of resistance and the exercises begin to get a little more challenging for your core, proprioception, balance and stability. This is intentional, not only does it fire up your nervous system but it also helps carry over the benefits into our daily lives.

Week 7: Resistance Intermediate (Strength & Stability)

It's time to get functional

We all have goals that we are aiming to achieve when we embark on an exercise program, for most of us it is the losing weight and looking good that is most important. However, very little thought is usually taken over exactly how our exercises will transfer over into daily life. How many times have you attended a gym or health club and been show how to use all the machines, then had a program designed by a, so called, fitness professional that has you moving from one machine to the next. In our daily life, do we sit down and perform these unusual movements? No, we stand and bend and twist as we balance our way through daily life. Our exercise programs must be based on function, not only because the movements are more natural but because they are far more successful at achieving your overall goals in the first place.

Functional exercise is by far the most productive form of exercise prescription whether it be for daily living, sports specific like golf, or for rehabilitation after injury. If you want help or advice on a functional exercise program to suit you then you can contact me directly but for a few basic rules on whether a routine is functional or not you can ask yourself the following questions:

1) Does the movement follow a natural path or is it forced? Most machines have fixed hand positions that do not mimic our natural range of movement and can be bad for our joints.

2) Is it isolated (sacrifice function) or integrated (cause chain reaction through body)? Movements should be compound (Multi-joint). They burn more calories, are more natural and require more stability. If you think about any daily activity it never involves just one muscle, muscles have no functional individuality so why train them this way?

3) Are you challenging your balance and stabilization like you do in daily life? We rarely spend time symmetrically on both feet, whether walking, running, bending, reaching etc. We are always transferring weight from one side of our body to the other.

4) Are you exercising 3-dimensional, are we moving in all 3 planes of movement, Sagittal (forward facing), frontal (to the side), transverse (twisting). We live in a 3D world, so we must train that way.

The following exercises show a good progress from week 3's basic resistance program into functional training. Most of the exercises demonstrate a good functional movement for improving daily life activities. If training for a particular goal or sport like golf or tennis then the introduction of equipment may be necessary eg. Stability balls, medicine balls, bands etc. But for basic function these exercises are a good starting point. Perform each exercise 10-20 times depending on ability and try to improve each workout. Complete this resistance program 3 times a week with a gentle 5 min walk before and afterwards, complete the stretching routine after that. Allow a days rest in between to recover.

A Cautionary Note

No exercise program should be painful, there is a difference between being tired and in pain. If you feel pain at any time then stop and consult a doctor. Pain indications either incorrect technique or a medical problem. If you have any doubts about your current state of health then consult a medical professional before embarking on any fitness program.

Summary

Weeks 1-2 (3 x week)

5 Min Walk Warm up

2 x Complete circuits 10-20 x per exercise

5 Min Walk Cool Down

Stretching routine particularly those tight muscles.

Weeks 3-4 (3 x week)

As above but 3 x complete circuits 10-20 x per exercise

Next week: Nutrition

1 Leg Balance and reach

Great exercise to fire up the nervous system, improve balance, stability, flexibility and the core.

A) Stand tall on one leg arms above and shoulder width apart

B) Reach over to the side keeping your back straight as far as your flexibility will allow, if your balance fails try again but do not reach as far over.

C) Also try reaching forward, overhead and twisting to reach behind.

D) Swap legs, if one is weaker then spend more time on that side.

1 Leg Squat and Reach

This is a natural progression from the regular squat from week 3. It's very functional as we spend time bending and picking things up off the ground. It also challenges balance, core stability and works the quads and glutes intensely.

A) Standing on one leg gently lower yourself down, breathing in deeply and chest high, ensuring you keep your heel in contact with the floor. Try to get your thigh down to horizontal before reaching forwarding to touch the floor in front. Maintain a balanced pelvis throughout.

B) Exhale and push up using your leg.

C) This exercise takes time to perfect and I like to use an object to pick up and put down again for focus.

D) Try touching down in various areas in front to improve functionality.

Isometric prone up and down

This is a functional progress from week 3's position position. It's dynamic and improvements shoulder strength as well as overall core stability.

A) Lie face down on the ground. Place elbows and forearms underneath your chest.

B) Prop yourself up to form a bridge, using your toes and forearms; Make sure your shoulders are directly over your elbows.

C) Maintain a flat back and do not allow your hips to sag towards the ground.

D) Now one hand at a time push up into a press up position, hold for a few seconds and return back to the original position. Photo shows transitional stage from elbows up to hands.

E) If you find this too difficult then try it off your knees.

Multi Directional Lunge

The lunge strengthens the legs, glutes, and improves balance and flexibility and sculpts the lower body. By making the lunge multi directional it mimics our daily movements.

A) Stand with your feet together with hand by your sides.

B) Take a step forward, inhaling on the way, descend slowly by bending at the hips, knee and ankle. Keep your lead foot flat on the floor.

C) Exhale and push back using the lead leg, returning to the start position.

D) Now repeat to the side at various angles and also behind by stepping backwards.

E) Keep torso upright, as ruling forward can cause injury.

Bridge one legged

Stimulates the glutes (bum), tightens up the backs of the legs and strengths the pelvic floor.

A) Lie on your back with one leg bent and the other straight out inline with the other thigh, heel in contact with the ground. Rest your arms by your side, palms downwards. Take a deep breath.

B) Exhale slowly, lifting your hips off the floor, squeezing your glutes until there's a straight line between shoulders, hips and knees. Do not force hips up further as it causes the back muscles to overwork.

C) Hold at the top of the movement for a second, squeezing the glutes tight, then lower the pelvis back towards the floor, inhaling on the way, not letting your backside touch the ground, then repeat.

D) Keep the one leg extended through the exercise and change legs half way through eg. 5 one leg and change.

Quadruped one arm one leg

Great for coordination, balance and transverse (twisting) core stability.

A) Begin on all fours, in neutral spine, with abdomen drawn in and chin tucked

B) Slowly raise one arm (thumb up) and the opposite leg, toe pointed away (triple extension).

C) Keep both arm and leg straight while lifting to body height.

D) Hold and return both arm and leg slowly to the ground, maintaining optimal alignment and repeat alternating sides

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