Do You Know The Secret Formula For A Better Life?

Photo by  Coschda

Photo by Coschda

A Personal Discovery

I was pleasantly surprised.

I had discovered a secret formula for an amazing life. The more I engaged in this activity, the better I felt.

You see, a few years ago, I started developing some specific, personal habits in my life that were making look and feel better.

What exactly is this secret formula for a better life?

Exercise.

I know, I know. I’m sure you’re not overly surprised with this secret formula. It’s really not much of a “secret.”

We all have a head knowledge that exercise is supposed to be really, really good for us. The problem is that very few people take this knowledge and actually apply it. From my own personal experience, I have found that once you do apply this knowledge, though, the benefits of daily exercise are truly amazing. I can no longer imagine a life without regular exercise.

I made a complete paradigm shift on exercise after receiving five amazing benefits.

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercise

I believe the majority of people exercise to lose weight. That’s great. Keep on losing those pounds! But, I have also found that there are several other major benefits to daily exercise. These reasons keep me hooked and coming back for more.

  1. Increased energy level. This was the biggest benefit I have found once I got into the “groove” of daily exercise. I have a lot more energy to get stuff done. I have more energy from early morning all the way into the evening. This is the number one reason that keeps me going back to the gym every day. I want more energy to accomplish my dreams and goals.
  2. Enhanced mood. If you struggle with anxiety, irritability, stress, or depression, then regular exercise is a great prescription to boost your mood! I have found my life to be lived on a more “even keel” with exercise. Get off your emotional roller coaster with a little bit of exercise.
  3. Expanded mental focus. It is a well established fact that our mental capacity increases with exercise. We become more alert and focused on the tasks before us. In an age of digital distraction, we can all use a little more mental focus.
  4. Extended waking hours. The “weird” part of daily exercise is that you end up needing to sleep less. Why would this be? It almost seems like an oxymoron. You would think you would need to sleep more to allow your body to recover from all your exercise. But, once you are in a healthier state due to exercise, your bodily systems run more efficiently. They don’t need to work as hard, thus the need for a little less sleep. Then, if you need less sleep, you can accomplish even more!
  5. Renewed love life. Yeah, I don’t think I need to go into a lot of detail here, but daily exercise (for us married couples, of course) does help your love life. Try it, and see what I’m talking about!

Questions: How about you? Do you exercise? Why or why not? If you do exercise regularly, do you agree with my five benefits listed here? Am I missing any additional benefits that you have discovered?






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5 Ways To Live A More Elegant Life

Photo by Qrodo Photos

Photo by Qrodo Photos

What Is Elegance?

The clean dismount of a gymnast from the balance beam. The smooth playing motions of a professional cellist. The foil handling of a fencing expert. The passionate speech of a CEO. The fluid hand motions of a symphony orchestra conductor. The graceful walk of a model down the runway.

When I consider elegance, I think of these types of activities.

The classic definition of elegance is as follows (from Dictionary.com):

elegance or elegancy (ˈɛlɪɡəns)

  • dignified grace in appearance, movement, or behaviour
  • good taste in design, style, arrangement, etc
  • something elegant; a refinement

The origin of the actual word is French (élégance) from. c.1500 and means tasteful, correct, harmonious, choice, of speech or prose.

In days gone by, people of means and “refinement” went to finishing or charm schools (mostly girls) to learning the fine art of the social graces.

While many of these types of schools are no longer functioning today, I believe something can be said of the importance of living a life of elegance. There are so many crude and rude people in today’s society. This makes no sense to me, especially living in the modern age of the 21st century. I would like to think that we as a society have grown beyond crude and rude, right?

In this post, I’d like for us to consider living a life filled with more elegance, more grace, and more refinement.

5 Ways to Live With More Elegance

  1. Dress up more. Today’s society has gone too far over into the casual appearance. If you really want to make an impact with those around you, consider “suiting up” on a regular basis like Barney Stinson. Also, wear quality clothes that fit you well. If yours currently don’t fit very well, then get them professionally tailored or budget for more that do. Be classy and dignified in your appearance.
  2. Watch your table manners. Using your hands to eat, licking your fingers, and wiping your dirty hands on your shirt will probably earn you a bad rap, especially in a professional setting. Consider using the “old school” table manners with your napkin and left hand down in your lap. Use the proper silverware to bring the food to your mouth. Chew with your mouth closed. Don’t speak with food in your mouth, and so on.
  3. Float across the room. Do you walk like a trucker? Do you slouch? Do you hang your head and look down at the floor? Watch how today’s “power people” walk into a room. They walk with confident grace and ease.
  4. Speak with dignity. Have you ever recorded yourself speaking? Does your speech sound stilted, or do you have a pleasing tone and flow to your speaking? You might consider working with a vocal coach or joining Toastmasters International.
  5. Listen to more elegant music. I think some of the most elegant, intelligent music ever written comes from the Renaissance and Baroque time periods. Dial these two stations up on Pandora occasionally for a great “ear break” from today’s pop music noise. I’m listening to these two stations as I write this post.

Are You Living A Life Of Elegance?

How elegant is your life? Do you dress for success? Do you watch your manners at power lunches? Do you walk into a conference room with grace and ease? Do you have a pleasant speaking voice? Do you listen to quality music?

I would contend that living with more elegance in these five areas can dramatically improve your professional as well as personal life.

How about you? Do you have additional areas that you strive for elegance in your life? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts.






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How I Lost 2 Inches Off My Waist In 6 Months

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Becoming A Fitness Fanatic

Over the last few years, I’ve slowly become more interested in fitness, diet, and exercise. Why is this? Probably due to the fact that I turned 40 a couple of years ago. When that happened, I realized that if I want to be healthy and strong well into my 60s, 70s, and 80s, then some things had to change.

Back in May of this year, my wife and I went on a trip to Mexico to one of those all-inclusive resorts. During our time there, I started working out daily in the resort spa which had a quality fitness center. Once we returned home, I went back to my own fitness center and started working out 4-5 times a week. Over time, I started noticing amazing results. In fact, the results were such that I recently had to go out and buy new jeans, moving from a size 34 waist down to a 32. I probably haven’t been that size since I was in high school!

5 Steps I Took To Lose 2 Inches Off My Waist

Here are the five steps I took to shed any excess fat and gain muscle mass.

  1. Don’t try to lose weight or inches off your waist. Here’s what I mean – focus on getting healthy and strong. This may seem counterintuitive, but I simply had a mental picture of what I wanted to look like at the end of this year. I wanted to have 6-pack abs. I did some research on how to accomplish that. Then I started to do those things. Getting bigger, stronger muscles and a smaller waist was simply a by-product of my overall physical vision. Get the vision, first, then figure out the how.
  2. Exercise 4-5 times a week. I am blessed with an on-site work fitness center. I typically utilize my lunch hour to get my workouts in. I have found this to be a great way to break up my day with a “first half” in the morning, and then a “second half” in the afternoon. I seem to have more energy going into my second half of the day due to working out.
  3. Rotate the workout routine. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I do strictly cardio for 25 minutes on an elliptical machine. I program the elliptical like I’m climbing a big hill to push myself hard in the first 12-13 minutes, and then I slowly come down the hill for the next 12-13 minutes. This may go against the advice of some other exercise gurus or routines, but it’s worked great for me. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I do a fast, semi-hard cardio routine of 10 minutes. Then I go to the weight room and use a combination of free weights and machines and do primarily upper body for 20-30 minutes.
  4. Photo by Suanie

    Do plank exercises. I usually do two sets of these, for a one minute interval on each. These are great for strengthening your core and getting washboard abs. Follow this link on how to do planks.

  5. Eat more protein, more veggies, and fewer carbs. This is a great tip I got out of the book The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss. I typically eat a Clif 20g Protein Bar as a mid-morning snack and a combo of almonds and Brazil nuts as an afternoon snack. Having these protein rich snacks between mostly balanced meals seem to really help in keeping even blood sugar energy levels throughout my day.

Slow And Steady Wins The Race

As I mentioned in my first step, I wasn’t trying to accomplish any great weight loss or weight building feat over the last few months. With a little bit of research, I had a pretty good understanding of how to get leaner and stronger than I currently was at the beginning of the year. So, I established procedures and routines, and I stuck with these routines each and every day.

I was the tortoise and not the hare in my approach to getting healthy and strong. If you need to get healthier than you’re current condition, then I would encourage you to follow the same approach.

Do you have healthy routines that have helped you on your fitness journey? If so, I’d love to hear your story. Leave us a comment and tell us your story.

The Art Of Living And Moving With Confidence

Photo by Michael Ignatieff

People Dig Confidence

People respect other people who are confident. In fact, let me go so far as to say that the greatest achievers on the planet are highly confident people. Life rewards the confident.

Now, I’m not saying that these same people never battle with fear. Every successful person has battled fear. The key with the successful, though, is that they know how to overcome that fear. They push past their fears and are able to move with confidence in the right direction to accomplish their mission.

Model Confidence

Think through some of the images of a person who models confidence. What do they look like? How do they stand? How do they move across the room? How do they sit at their desk?

Confidence definitely has a physical component. If I personally asked you to look and move as though you were living in fear, then I bet you could easily model that for me. My guess is that you would probably hang your head down, and your shoulders would be drooped. You would appear withdrawn.You might even get some nervous shakes. If I asked you to speak, then you probably would not speak very loudly. You might even have a quiver in your voice.

But, if we flipped it around and I asked you to model confidence, then I know you would be able to do that quite easily. You understand it. You’ve seen other people move confidently. You would stand tall and straight. Your shoulders would be back. You would stride across a room. You would speak loud and strong enough so that people could hear and understand you.

We all know how someone living in a fearful state looks and moves. And we also know what confidence looks like.

The interesting thing is we can move back and forth between these states by changing our physiology. We can put ourselves in a fearful state by modeling the attitude and actions above. And, we can model confidence by simply changing how we are standing, walking, and speaking.

The next time you find yourself in a fearful state, force yourself to change into the physiology of the confident. Watch what happens as you quickly move from fear to confidence. You’ll be amazed at the results.

Are You Living And Moving With Confidence?

Life rewards the confident. You may not like that statement, but it’s true. People like people who are secure in themselves. They respect those who are living in a continual state of self-assurance.

Have you ever evaluated how you move and talk? Have you ever taken a video of yourself in a public situation where you may battle fear (such as public speaking)? Have you ever sought out the evaluation of a trusted friend or co-worker about your confidence level?

Starting today, become more aware of your level of confidence. Work on taking it to the next level. Watch what happens as you gain more respect and eventual rewards as a result.

The Secret To An “Easy” Life

Photo by cbcastro

Press The Easy Button

You may recall the “Easy Button” commercials produced by the office supply chain store Staples over the last few years. Staples asserts that if you utilize their products and services, that you are essentially pressing a metaphorical easy button to accomplish whatever you need to in business and life itself.

Easy Doesn’t Happen Easily

But, easy doesn’t necessarily happen all that easily. Here’s what I mean.

For example, let’s take playing a musical instrument. If you’ve ever observed an extremely talented musician play their instrument, they seem to do it very effortlessly. It’s almost as if their instrument is simply an extension of themselves. In a strange way, the inanimate object and the human being have merged into one unit.

Or, take another example, a professional athlete. When you see an athlete playing their particular sport when they are “in the zone,” they are moving with extreme ease. Their movements seem very natural. You almost feel like you could accomplish what this athlete is, simply because they make it look so deceptively effortless!

The reality in both of these examples, though, is that the musician and the athlete have both worked extremely hard to get to this place. Through challenging themselves in the practice room or the gym, they were able to get just a little stronger musically or physically each time they practiced their craft.

Make It A Little Harder Each Time

If you want to get into shape physically, you have to push yourself beyond normal levels, three to four times a week. As you workout each week, you need to constantly be thinking about how you can “raise the bar” just a little.

I discovered this when I changed my workout approach a few months ago. Over the last year, I have been doing some moderate exercise at home, using inferior, home gym-type equipment. I felt as though I was just maintaining and not getting much stronger.

I happened to start working out in a gym while my wife and I were on vacation back in May. At that point, I realized what a quality physical workout feels like. I had a better understanding of pushing myself a little beyond my ability in the areas of cardio and strength training in order to get stronger. The weird part of the process – I liked it!

Life Application

If you want easy anything, you need to push yourself. I’m not just talking about working out either. This can apply to all areas of renaissance living: writing, playing a musical instrument, painting, sculpting, reading, and so on.

We all have mental limits we have placed on ourselves in every area of life. The people who have achieved great success in this life have figured out ways to push past those limiting beliefs into a better place. Their lives look deceptively easy, and they are easier in a sense. But, they had to push themselves past their limits in order to get to that next, easier level.

In what areas do you need to start pushing yourself past your own limiting beliefs, in order to reach that “easier” state?

5 Reasons You Need To Establish An Exercise Routine

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Mid-Life Crisis

Almost two years ago, I turned 40 years old. Like anyone going through a mid-life season, I started evaluating my physical body. I asked myself questions such as, “if I continue living the way I have been for the last 40 years, will I even be able to make it to age 80, 90, or maybe even 100? If not, what do I need to do differently in order to go into the second half of my life, healthy and strong?”

Obviously, regular cardio exercise and strength training are necessary to live an extended, healthy life. I’m not saying that exercise guarantees anything, but we do know that it greatly improves the quality of our lives as we age.

And that was my ultimate desire going into the second half of my life. I want a better quality of life. I’m happy to say that I’m seeing and feeling amazing results over the last year.

5 Reasons To Get Exercising

Here are some great benefits that I’m discovering as I continue to pursue my regular workout routine:

  1. More Energy. I have two pre-teen children and a baby on the way. I’m definitely in need of more energy to get through my work day and still have energy reserves in order to give to my wife and kids.
  2. Deeper Sleep. The amazing thing I’m finding out about exercise and overall good health is its impact on my sleep. I’m now getting better, more restful sleep. Because it’s a better quality sleep, I’ve also found that I can sleep less and wake up earlier – BONUS! Go for quality, not quantity.
  3. Weight Control. I think this one is pretty obvious and probably the primary reason that most people exercise. My weight has never been a huge issue for me, but I have been pleasantly surprised with the results of turning some of my excess fat into lean muscle. I’m currently trying to get the 6-pack abs.
  4. De-stress. Over the last couple of years, my personal and professional life have been a bit stressful for a variety of reasons. A few months ago, I found myself experimenting with pushing my workouts a little bit longer and a whole lot harder. The result has been a lowering on my stress level. Exactly what the doctor ordered!
  5. Increased libido. It’s a well-known fact that as we age, our hormone levels begin to decline and our sex drive suffers as a result. Push your body a little harder in the cardio and strength training, and you’ll be amazed at the results.

Why Do You Exercise?

So do you exercise? If so, do you have any different or better reasons that you do that differ from my list of five above?

Have you found any of these specific five reasons to have had a huge impact in your life? Which ones? Feel free to share with us the beneficial aspects of exercise from your own life experience.

The Secret To Living To Age 100

Photo by Heart Industry

A Personal Goal

I recently added to the long-term vision of my life a goal to live to at least the age 100. Crazy I know. Why would anyone really want to live that long? Kind of reminds me of the movie The Green Mile when Tom Hanks‘ character keeps on living while all the rest of his friends and family are passing away. That’s probably not the most enjoyable experience to outlive everybody you care about.

For some, living that long may not be all that appealing. For others, though, they have the desire to see what the world will be like in the future. They welcome the opportunity to have an impact on the lives of their extended family members in that future.

I think that’s where I’m at. I was born in 1970. I distinctly remember Jimmy Carter as President, the Iran hostage crisis, and the election of Ronald Reagan. My first computer was a Commodore Vic-20. Ever since these early historical memories, I have been blown away by what has happened over the last 40 years. I’m curious to see what our future looks like over the next 60 years.

5 Keys To Living A Long, Healthy Life

Over the last several days, I’ve been doing some research into how people live to be 100 and beyond. Here are some of the key discoveries scientists have made about long life:

  1. You Must Be Born With The Right Genes. Discouraging, I know. People who make it to age 100 seem to be born with just the right combination of genes. If you have any close relatives who lived long lives (grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.), there is a good chance you may have these genes! For more information, see the following article on the ‘Methuselah’ gene.
  2. Avoid smoking. Although many people who have made it to 100 and beyond may have been smokers at one point in their lives, they did not maintain the habit for their entire life. See article How to Live to 100: Secrets From Centenarians.
  3. Maintain a healthy body weight. In a recent centenarian study in Boston, very few centenarians are obese. Many of these would be considered “lean.” See article How to Live to 100: Secrets From Centenarians.
  4. Stay engaged. You need to be active both physically and mentally. You need to be doing cardio exercise for heart and lung health. You need to be doing weight training to fight the loss of muscle tone and mass. You need to be involved in activities that keep you mentally alert, such as crossword puzzles, brain games, playing musical instruments, reading, writing, and so on. See article How to Live To Be 102.
  5. Eat a healthy diet. The highest percentage of centenarians live in Okinawa, Japan. Their diets are high in grains, vegetables, and fish. Their diets are low in eggs, dairy, and meat. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough fiber and veggies in the American diet. We need these “to push the bad stuff out.” See article How to Live To Be 102.

How Long Do You Want To Live?

How old are you, today? How long do you want to live? Have you ever established a goal to live into your 90s or even 100s?

If you have established a long life goal, what are your steps to accomplish that goal? Why do you want to live a long life in the first place? Feel free to share your “living a long life” story with us.

5 Ways To Delay The Effects Of Old Age

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Let’s Age Like Tom Cruise!

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m really beginning to notice a lot of the big name stars are aging pretty darn well. In fact, I’ve seen Tom Cruise on TV quite a bit lately, and people are really starting to notice that for a 50-year-old man, he still looks like he’s in fantastic shape. To me, he can still easily pass for a man in his late 30s or early 40s. And it’s not just Tom Cruise, either. In general, it would seem that people are living longer, healthier, and stronger as we continue further into the 21st century.

Personally, I’m okay with getting older. Hey, if I have a few grey hairs in my hair or beard right now, that’s fine. I can deal with that. What I don’t enjoy is feeling like I’m stiff and sore when I get out of bed in the morning. I’m also not crazy about having lower energy levels than I had at a younger age.

Five Strategies That Are Working For Me

Over the last couple of years, I’ve really been working hard at regaining the energy I had as a younger man. I’ve been exercising more, eating better, and just focused on taking a more proactive approach to my overall health and fitness.

I have found these five strategies extremely helpful in turning a few years back on my body clock.

  1. Move a lot of air. Be sure to push yourself in the cardio area 2-3 times a week. You can bike, run, or use traditional fitness center equipment. Get hot, sweaty, and breathe really hard for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Pump some iron. In order to have a strong body, you need to be on a regular strength training regimen of 2-3 times a week. The loss of muscle mass is one of the big issues related to aging. Fight it.
  3. Eat and drink the right stuff. Eat some greens. Vegetables, not fruit are probably the better overall approach to a healthy diet. This is due to blood sugar spikes and drops. Decent portions of protein are needed for strength, especially if you’re exercising regularly. Eat carbs in light moderation. Drink lots of water and tea. Avoid soda and other sugary drinks.
  4. Rock it in the bedroom. Meaning: have a lot of intimate relations with your spouse, regularly! If you focus some time and energy on the first three, your desire is going to grow too. Do you want to feel like a guy (or gal) in your 20s and 30s? This is a great way to do it (no pun intended).
  5. Laugh at yourself. As I get older, I’ve just stopped taking myself as seriously as I did when I was younger. I laugh more. I enjoy life at a different, deeper level. This leads to less stress and greater relaxation. Less stress means better health and aging.

How Are You Aging?

So, how are you aging? Do you feel like you’re aging faster than desired? Or, do you feel like you have successfully slowed the process?

Are you proactively working at turning back your biological age? Do you use any of these approaches? Do you have some additional tips that you have found valuable? Feel free to share your tips and secrets with us.