Written on January 8, 2014 at 11:54 am , by Christina Tynan-Wood
I am on my way to CES in Las Vegas. Getting to this annual massive gathering of all things geek has been an epic quest this year—cancelled flights, insane weather, mistaken rebookings that would have me arriving as the show ended, tears and a sudden overnight layover in a distant city. Sometimes travel goes well. And sometimes it doesn’t. And when it doesn’t, I am always grateful for my smartphone and a little tech savvy.
When a flight was delayed by this crazy winter storm, I missed my connecting flight and there wasn’t another unclaimed seat on any flight out of Atlanta. So I found myself suddenly in need of a place to sleep. Did I sleep on the airport floor? Demolish my budget by walking into the closest hotel? No. I sat quietly (while others around me wailed, lamented and panicked), tapped a few times on my phone and had a room in a nearby (nice) hotel for a fraction of its standard price. In fact, my smartphone—and the right app—has saved me many a hassle on numerous adventures. When traffic threatens to derail a meeting by trapping me in my car, I (pull over and) tap my phone to find out the cause of the congestion and plot a reroute. When I’m in a new city and need to be somewhere on time—either by car, foot or public transportation—I pull out my phone for turn-by-turn directions.
I use a lot of apps to keep me on track. But here are three that helped me keep my cool on this particular journey—one that otherwise could have been an ordeal to make even the most seasoned traveler snap.
This app has saved me quite a few times. Hotels hate to have empty rooms. So they release those that aren’t booked at noon every day for that night—to this app. When I realized I was stranded in Atlanta, I pulled up the available rooms closest to me; it knows where I am because my phone does. I tapped, booked a room (at an upscale hotel for $100), got on the hotel’s shuttle and slept.
This navigation app gathers the collective knowledge of everyone else on the road who is also using the app (and you’ll see there are a lot of us) and uses it to inform you of what’s ahead. People can post what they can see in terms of accidents and holdups. But the app also tracks how fast those other phones are traveling, so you know if there’s a slowdown ahead and what routes have fast-moving traffic.
Google Maps has gotten so good at giving turn-by-turn directions that I depend on it. Meeting in an unfamiliar city? I enter my destination (it knows where I am because my phone has GPS) and tell it how I want to travel—public transportation, walk or drive—and it will take me right there. If I’m walking, I use a Bluetooth headset and it speaks the directions right into my ear. It even knows the train schedules for most urban transportation systems.
Written on January 7, 2014 at 2:40 pm , by Family Circle
First tearjerker of 2014? This Procter & Gamble video will remind you just how far a mother’s unconditional love can carry you.
“For teaching us that falling only makes us stronger. Thank you, mom”
Written on January 7, 2014 at 12:00 pm , by Family Circle
Last month, our guest blogger Melissa Halas-Liang, RD, founder of the wellness group SuperKids Nutrition, shared five ways to keep your child healthy for life! This month, she reveals the surprising place your kids are overdoing it when it comes to sugar and smart ways to get them to stop.
When you’re not catching someone’s hand in the proverbial cookie jar, rely on numbers. Numbers don’t lie. And research shows that teens consumed on average 442 calories (boys) or 314 calories (girls) a day from added sugar alone. A majority of those calories (59%) come from food, but beverages aren’t too far behind at 41%.
Now here’s the real surprise. Guess what parents? Teens consumed most of that added sugar, not when out and about with friends, but while at home! That’s right: reaching into your fridge, opening up your cabinet and pulling out your drawers at home.
We all rely upon a balanced, nutritious diet to remain in good health. However, teens must go above and beyond to obtain the nutrients their bodies require during this age of intensive growth and maturation. Sadly, the reality is that the food and snack choices teens are making fall short of the nutrients needed to build healthy, strong bodies. Support your kids and make the healthiest food choices the easiest choices.
Here are 8 easy ways for teens to cut down on the sweet stuff:
1. Choose cereals with less than 6 grams of sugar per serving. If your kids prefer the sweeter cereals with honey, no problem. Tell them to mix it with equal part of plain cereal.
2. Buy sugar-free crackers. Briefly explain how sugar makes starchy foods addictive, so you overeat them and then return to the store to buy more. But, fear not, because you can outsmart the marketers! Here’s a helpful guide to buying crackers.
3. Read the ingredient list. Find options for foods like pretzels, breads and chips without added sugar.
4. Cut back on the sugar-laden condiments. Serve low-sodium or homemade salsa or tomato sauce instead of ketchup.
5. Choose naturally lower-sugar yogurts. Some Greek yogurts offer less added sugar and pack in additional protein! Just be sure to choose true Greek yogurts—not those have added fillers. Also encourage them to sweeten yogurt with fresh fruits like baked apples or warmed frozen cherries or with dried fruit and nuts.
6. Keep fresh fruit out where your kids can see it. Teens will choose the easy option! If the fruit is washed, ready to eat, and within reach, they’ll grab it!
7. Buy 6-ounce juice glasses. They’re smaller and encourage ideal portion sizes. When drinking juice yourself, lead by example and dilute the juice with water.
8. Make it easy. Teens aren’t eating enough fruits. In fact, 28.5% of high school students ate fruit less than once per day and 33.2% ate vegetables less than once per day. So, choose fruits with minimal prep required washed and ready to eat in the fridge like grapes, Clementines or apples. Keep bananas out on the kitchen table. Decrease the barriers getting in the way between teens and their fruit!
One more thing: When you talk to your teen about cutting back on sugar, focus on healthy eating and physical activity, not on “dieting.” If you focus too much on weight loss, you increase the risk of developing a distorted body image or an eating disorder, particularly for teenage girls. In fact, roughly 70%-80% of teen girls perceive themselves to be too fat. You want to encourage your teen to eat right to prevent further weight gain and teach life long habits. But most importantly, you want your teen to feel his or her best inside and out. If you do think weight loss must be addressed, check out our tips here and be sure to seek your healthcare provider’s advice before you put your teen on a calorie-restricted meal plan.
How do you keep the amount of sugar your kids have to a minimum? Post a comment below and tell us!
Melissa Halas-Liang, a mom, registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, is founder of SuperKidsNutrition.com, which provides nutrition and health content, curriculum and workshops to parents and educators nationwide. She is author of the Super Crew books Super Baby Abigail’s Lunch Time Adventure and Havoc at the Hillside Market.
Written on January 6, 2014 at 4:24 pm , by Family Circle
Written by Catherine Holecko, family fitness expert at About.com.
I’m seven hours into an eight-hour bus ride that started at 4 a.m. I’m wedged into a seat that has half the legroom of coach class on a discount airline. My overstuffed purse is on my lap, and the bag containing breakfast, lunch and snacks for myself and my kid is squeezed into the few inches between my feet and my knees, because the overhead compartment is about six inches high.
Adam Sandler is bellowing from the bus’s DVD players while 26 tween girls giggle and shriek in the seats behind me. Tomorrow I’ll be confined to an ice rink for the entire day and some of the night. And let’s not forget how much this weekend of skating team travel is costing—all for three minutes of actual competition time.
If you’re questioning my sanity right now, I understand. At times like these, I question it too! Being a member of a travel team means a lot of sacrifices, for athletes and their families. Even setting aside the costs, which are significant, there’s the time commitment. Skating practices eat up a good portion of our Saturdays and a few evenings a week. We schedule our holiday plans around team obligations. Trips like this one usually require my daughter to miss a day of school, while I take time off from work and have to skip some of my younger child’s events and activities. Pulling off these trips requires a huge amount of volunteer effort from parents—they’re the ones who put in hours of advance planning, making intricate schedules and figuring out how to house, feed and transport more than 100 skaters, coaches and parent chaperones over the course of one long (really long) weekend.
So I get how unreasonable this all sounds, and yes, I do sometimes ponder why we do it. But then I sit in the stands with the other parents who have become good friends (how could they not, after all this togetherness?) and watch my daughter skate with her team. I watch the three other teams her coach oversees. When they succeed—when they skate a clean program, with straight lines, big smiles and no one falling on the ice—I can’t help but tear up. When they falter, I tear up too, because I know how hard they’ve worked and how badly they want to do well. When they medal, I burst with pride. When they don’t, my heart breaks for them. And I can’t help it: I look forward to the next trip so I can watch them all over again.
Catherine Holecko is the family fitness expert at About.com. She lives in Wisconsin with her daughter, son and husband.
Written on December 31, 2013 at 1:21 pm , by Lynya Floyd
It doesn’t feel like winter until the temperature dips below freezing and I whip up a big batch of chili that makes my house smell heavenly—but is still healthy. Instead of ground beef, I use ground turkey which cuts, among other things, the fat and calories. And because I like to know it’s organic and antibiotic-free meat, that usually means a trip to Whole Foods.
It’s not cheap, but there are some health splurges I’m willing to make and this happens to be one of them. My chili recipe is heavy on cholesterol-fighting kidney beans and I needed two cans, so, on this particular day, I decided to save some time and pick them up at the same supermarket. What Whole Food had to offer cost a few cents more than what I usually get (hmmm), was in a small box (interesting, no can) and had a label stating that this was not a genetically modified food (wow!). No GMOs?
Australia, Italy, the United Kingdom and 61 other countries require labeling of genetically engineered foods. But while the overwhelming majority of Americans say they’d like labeling (and our Family Circle Facebook poll even showed 99% of you want labeling), the numbers don’t work out that way in voting booths. This winter, Washington state’s Initiative 522 (which would have required genetically engineered foods to be labeled as such) failed to be passed with 54.8% of voters saying no thanks to GMO labeling. Perhaps concerns about additional costs and unclear legislation turned the tide in a different direction?
It may surprise you to know that we’re probably already consuming a fair amount of modified foods. “Most soybeans, corn, canola and sugar beets grown in the U.S. are genetically modified for herbicide tolerance and insect resistance,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, author of Read It Before You Eat It: How to Decode Food Labels and Make the Healthiest Choice Every Time. That means everything from your breakfast cereal to your taco shell to your soda could contain GMOs.
Experts continue to debate over whether you should or shouldn’t be concerned about GMOs. They also go toe-to-toe over whether you should or shouldn’t care enough to see them labeled. There are certainly pros and cons, with a great rundown here. If you choose to go the non-GMO route, there are options out there to make it easier. Whole Foods, for example, has pledged that by 2018, all products in their U.S. and Canadian stores will be labeled to indicate whether they contain GMOs. And already, a great number of them do—like those red kidney beans that I did end up buying.
Increasingly, it seems that we live in a world where you need to vote with your dollars. It happens with what we listen to: Opposed to that racy song they’re playing on the radio? Don’t let your kid download it for $1.29. It happens with what we watch: Upset about all the violence in flicks these days? Make sure the next $100 you drop on family movie night goes to a comedy. And it appears that it’s happening with what we eat.
Are you concerned about GMOs? What percentage more in price, if required, would you be willing to pay for non-GMO foods? Post a comment below and share your thoughts.
Written on December 30, 2013 at 1:20 pm , by Family Circle
Written by Rachel Macy Stafford, The Hands Free Mama
I’d always believed there were no do-overs in life.
I’d always believed I needed to stay true to the person people expected me to be.
I’d always believed I shouldn’t let people down—well, only my family. I could let them down because they understood I was very busy doing very important things.
And then one day I spoke to a former teaching colleague that I hadn’t seen in nearly twenty years. At the sound of her husband’s name, I instantly pictured the two of them together. She and her husband had “it.” You know that spark, that invisible bond that draws people together and leads you to believe they’ll always be together. Her husband had cancer and they didn’t know how much time he had left. But they weren’t rushing around trying to make up for lost time or missed opportunities—that was not necessary. Why? Because these two people had been living their happily ever after all along.
If you are anything like me, you know that’s not always the case.
If you are anything like me, you can become quite skilled at putting off your happily ever after.
“Once I get this work done” …
“Once this project is finished” …
“After I make these calls” …
“In just a minute” …
And once the project is complete, the minute has passed, and the call has been made, something else always comes up. Your “one more thing” has no end.
And that’s when things start to happen: you drive into the intersection before it’s your turn because you’re looking at a screen … you scream at the ones you love the most because you’re stretched too thin … you wake up feeling irritable and unhappy, the same way you went to bed. But then you speak to a dear friend whose husband is battling cancer and realize your happily ever after is slipping right through your busy, little fingers.
And that’s about the time you go for the Life Do-Over that you once thought was never possible.
Let me show you what my do-over looked like:
At the height of my bulging social calendar, at the height of my glowing reputation for getting things accomplished, at the height of my ability to do it all, at the height of my perfectly orchestrated life, I let go.
I began telling the drill sergeant inside my head that homemade breakfast rolls for out-of-town guests were a thing of the past, organized closets and kitchen drawers would happen when my children were grown, flourishing flower beds could be admired in the garden department of Home Depot, but not in my yard.
These tasks are not important right now when my children need me and want me to be present in their lives.
I told my harsh inner critic to pick on someone else because I would no longer be bullied on a daily basis for the bulge around my waist or the permanent lines around my eyes. I began seeing these flaws as lasting reminders of the unconceivable joy I’d been given while alive on this earth.
These physical imperfections are not what define me or give me value as a human being.
I informed my internal over-achiever that I would no longer be everything to everyone. Continually saying yes to everything outside the home meant saying no to the most important things inside the home like laughing, playing, and memory-making with the people I love the most. I vowed to stop saying no to what was most important.
In order to be joyfully fulfilled, I must choose to place my energies in what (and who) truly matters.
And that’s when I began to see it. Feel it. Crave it. Undistracted love.
It’s living your happily ever after now. In little loving ways. Every. Single. Day.
It’s the kind of love that gets you through the hard times and makes the good times even sweeter.
It’s the kind of love you can stand on.
It’s the kind of love that holds you up.
It’s the kind of love that leaves you with no regrets—even when faced with the unexpected, the unplanned.
Because regardless of what tomorrow holds, there is peace in knowing you spent today living your happily ever after … instead of tacking it to the bottom of the to-do list where it will never be touched.
Join Rachel on her journey to let go of distraction, perfection and societal pressure to grasp what really matters by visiting www.handsfreemama.com or “The Hands Free Revolution” on Facebook. Rachel’s book, Hands Free Mama, is currently available for pre-order and hits shelves on January 7.
Written on December 30, 2013 at 10:00 am , by Family Circle
Written by Jessica Cassity
You don’t have to think big to be healthier in 2014. In fact, you might want to think small. Researchers found that when people made one easy lifestyle change, they were more effective at pursuing their objectives than when attempting multiple adjustments. One little change, one giant reward? Count us in. Now, repeat after us for a brand-new you.
Resolution #1: “This year I’ll beat stress by practicing my breathing.”
There’s never a week that won’t bring on some kind of stress-inducing scenario. But when anxiety starts to set in, just remember to take a deep breath. Then go ahead and take a few more.
“Breathing is one of the most important connections between your mind and your body,” says Keri Tuit, Psy.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale University. When the pressure starts mounting—your teen won’t practice the piano or she gets a poor grade on an English test—you go into fight-or-flight mode, and your brain releases a cascade of tension- triggering hormones that cause the heart to race. But you can reverse that process by lengthening your inhales and exhales, which has a twofold outcome: Measured, deep breathing automatically slows down your heartbeat and relaxes your entire body, she explains.And as you concentrate on your breathing, you become less focused on your worries, making recovery from stress easier.
To practice this soothing strategy, start taking more measured breaths through your nose, inhaling for 5 seconds and exhaling for 5 seconds. Try this exercise at various intervals throughout the day—and whenever you feel stressed—for 2 or 3 minutes at a time, concentrating on filling and emptying your lungs completely. “Before long, you’ll find that you don’t become stressed as often, and when you do, you’ll have an easier time managing the problem,” says Tuit.
Resolution #2: “This year I’ll lose weight by choosing balanced snacks.”
All too often, we select snacks based on how easy they are to carry in a purse. But the truth is that the healthiest mini meals require a little bit of prep. “Many common options—pretzels, cereal, even fruit—are primarily carbohydrates,” says Paul J. Arciero, a professor and director of the human nutrition and metabolism laboratory at Skidmore College. Problem is, filling up on only carbs can cause your blood sugar levels to soar—and eventually crash— which leaves you feeling hungry soon afterward.
Stop the noshing cycle with snacks that offer a balanced ratio of protein and
fat. Some protein can be hard to digest, which means your body works harder to burn more calories (about 25 per every 100 consumed, he says). And a little healthy fat, like the monounsaturated fats in nuts and avocados, can aid digestion and increase your body’s absorption of nutrients.
First decide on a protein—which usually contains a little fat too—then add a carbohydrate. We asked Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D.N., author of Read It Before You Eat It, for five options under 300 calories. Bonus: When you munch on a satisfying snack—as opposed to one that’s just so-so—you’re less likely to overeat.
Resolution #3: “This year I’ll exercise more by doing mini workouts.”
You don’t have to carve out a 30-minute block of time to reap the benefits of physical activity. In fact, research shows that smaller increments (think 5- to 10-minute bouts) of vigorous exercise might be even more beneficial for your fitness, blood pressure and cholesterol levels than longer sweat sessions.
Segmented, intense workouts may also be more effective at helping you slim down, says Michele Olson, Ph.D., professor of exercise science at Auburn University at Montgomery, because your metabolism can stay elevated after each bout of exercise—even if the session is short. Simply put, the more afterburns you have, the more calories you burn.
“Start working toward your 30 minutes of activity in the morning, especially with some higher-intensity exercises that will rev up your metabolism, like jumping jacks or a few morning sprints down your street and back,” says Olson. Aim for three to five short sessions a day, spaced at least an hour apart. Track your minutes with a stopwatch on your phone each time you resume exercising. You may discover that you can cobble together that elusive 30 minutes of time after all. Here’s how one day could play out.
Resolution #4: “This year I’ll be happier by hugging my friends and family.”
Your teen may resist being hugged—especially if he’s around his friends—so steal a cuddle before school. “Physical touch can instantaneously boost your mood, strengthen your immune system and reduce stress,” says Paul Zak, Ph.D., director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University. By holding your loved ones, even for a few seconds, you create a deep connection with them while also giving yourself an emotional boost. “Your skin is awash with tiny touch receptors—cells and nerves that fire up the brain’s mood center,” says Zak. “When you stimulate these receptors, your body produces less of the ‘stress’ hormone cortisol, and releases more of the ‘love’ hormone oxytocin.”
The more sensors you stimulate, the greater your oxytocin output, which is why a hug makes you happier than a handshake. There’s also a “dose-response” relationship between who you embrace and how happy you become. Happily wrap your arms around a neighbor and you’ll get some good feelings; hug your sister and those warm-and-fuzzy feelings will skyrocket. Zak recommends giving out eight hugs a day, noting that, unlike with medicines, you never have to worry about overdoing it.
Resolution #5: “This year I’ll sleep better by using relaxation techniques.”
From cooking breakfast to running errands, it may feel like there’s never a moment when you’re not going at full speed. Unfortunately, if you’re constantly wound up during the morning and afternoon, you’ll have a harder time decompressing later on, says Douglas Kirsch, M.D., a neurologist and sleep specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
“One of the best ways to stem the rush of thoughts and worries and ease your mind before lights-out is to employ progressive muscle relaxation,” says Kirsch. It forces you to focus on your body, which calms your mind and primes you for sleep. (Good news: It also helps you drift off again when you wake up in the middle of the night.)
Begin by lying in bed about 10 minutes before you want to doze off. Flex your toes and hold for 5 to 10 seconds while breathing slowly through your nose. Release the hold and start again, this time tensing and relaxing the muscles in your feet, then your calves. Work your way up your body, ending with the muscles in your face. Relaxing the body physically helps you transition to sleep, says Kirsch.
Written on December 27, 2013 at 9:00 am , by jtaylor
Years ago, I found myself carefully counting my dog-eared dollars and placing them into a clearly disinterested clerk’s hands to pay for one package of hot dogs and buns. As I glanced at the towels in the backseat of my old Chevy, I excitedly thought how much fun this afternoon would be. First, we’d go swimming at my neighborhood pool. Then we’d grill lunch. Great plan, one problem: The two young brothers I’d arranged to take out of the city and into the country for the day never showed up at our agreed-upon pickup place. Calls from a nearby telephone booth went unanswered. I waited for an hour and a half, then dejectedly drove home.
I was so disappointed.
As I racked my brain to understand what happened, my sadness turned to anger. How dare they blow me off? Their disappearing act turned personal. All I could think of was confronting them.
Then something happened: I forgave them. A conscious mind-set of forgiveness slipped in and took over. Actually, it started with forgiving myself. Instead of blaming them and myself, I let it go.
While forgiveness is a powerful individual act, it can also lead a community to a deeper level of awareness. The recent death of Nelson Mandela and the dialogue that followed about his decision to leave behind the pain of 27 years of suffering in prison began with one word: forgiveness. “I had given [them] enough…I couldn’t give them my mind and my heart,” he said. Mandela used his personal convictions to lead a divided nation to truth and reconciliation.
Teaching our children to forgive may be one of the best lessons we can give them. Instead of fostering destructive competitive practices, think about the power of forgiveness. As an alternative to time-outs and harsh disciplinary words or actions, perhaps we should teach our children about expressing empathy—feeling what others are feeling. Maybe we can educate them on the art of offering an apology and accepting one with a sincere “I forgive you.”
We often hold on to old pain and negativity like an invisible shield to protect us from future hurts. What we don’t understand is that our power doesn’t emerge from the past. It comes from the ability to be fully present and say, “It really is okay. I forgive you.”
Is there someone—even yourself—you could forgive today? Post a comment below and tell me who it is.
Got a question for Dr. Janet? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written on December 26, 2013 at 10:30 am , by Family Circle
Written by JM Randolph, the accidental stepmom
A respected student organization invited my middle stepdaughter on a summer trip to China. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but China is on the other side of the planet. It’s 7,400 miles away, or, as I like to think of it, 1/32 of the distance to the moon.
Since the cost of the trip was greater than our annual New Jersey property taxes, she needed to do some serious fundraising. This was a great opportunity to teach her that the biggest factor in achieving a goal is your own belief it will happen. Secretly, though, in my own head, it was still a maybe. As long as that was the case, I didn’t have to think about her actually being in China. We still had nine months.
She talked the owner of our local coffee shop into hiring her at just 15. She did odd jobs for relatives and sold candy bars. Before long, she’d raised a significant amount of money. She even made sure we got her passport application in on time, a miracle in itself.
The organization sent out an email for prepaid international cell phones. It sounded like a good idea but we didn’t need to think about that yet. Every time I thought about China, I had visions of her falling off the Great Wall or getting attacked by a rogue panda.
Because the group met on Saturdays, when my husband and I work, our babysitter went with her to the meetings. The students did presentations and had to take quizzes online. The cell phone option was discussed, but we still had time.
Our babysitter took notes and knew exactly what to expect in China. Our kid, however, apparently spent most of that time texting her friends. Despite her impressive ambition for fundraising, she turned out to have an equally impressive ability to procrastinate. I can’t imagine where she got that.
Two days before departure, we got home from work at midnight to find her hovering over the babysitter’s laptop trying to pump her for answers to the quizzes she still had to complete. There was an empty suitcase in the living room with a laundry basket of wadded-up clothes nearby. She had lost the checklist, as well as the first three days of the itinerary.
Meanwhile, my husband and I had missed the deadline for the cell phone. Also for the reloadable Visa card. I went to the bank at the last possible minute to exchange her pocket money for yuan.
Just like that, she was off to China for 17 days.
During the twenty-two hours it took their flight to land 7,400 miles away in Beijing, I deeply regretted not getting the phone, not being at the meetings, not forcing her to be more prepared, not being more prepared myself.
When she called on a leader’s phone to tell us she forgot to get a calling card, she said she’d walked the Great Wall. “It was amazing! You can’t even imagine it from the pictures.”
She said most kids didn’t have cell phones. The ones who did were constantly answering texts from their parents; everyone else was just…being in China. Doing exactly what they should be doing: reveling in a completely different culture, without their parents, on a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
A little procrastination goes a long way. Sometimes, all the way to China.
JM Randolph is a writer, stagehand, and custodial stepmom of five. She lives in New Jersey with her family and blogs at accidentalstepmom.com.
Written on December 25, 2013 at 12:00 am , by Family Circle
Written on December 24, 2013 at 10:00 am , by Family Circle
Staying fit during the coldest months of the year isn’t just a human problem, it’s one pets deal with too. Celebrity fitness trainer, Gunnar Peterson, designed this indoor workout to keep both you and your pet in leader-of-the-pack shape.
Written on December 23, 2013 at 10:00 am , by jtaylor
Many years ago, I decided to start running. I began by alternating between walking and jogging every 30 seconds. Eventually, I worked my way up to running 10K races.
My first competition was fun! The weather was sunny and the course flat. My second race, not so much. The day was overcast and cold, the route was hilly and as I approached the finish, I slowed down, thinking, “I can’t run another step.” At that moment, a woman tapped me on the shoulder. “I’ll run with you,” she said. “Don’t stop! We’re almost there.” We crossed the finish line together and, even though I was a bit breathless, I managed to thank her.
Just like that race, life is unpredictable. Even with expert planning, obstacles can throw you off course and make you feel as if failure is imminent. But that 10K experience taught me three things.
First, to get ahead, you have to silence your inner critic. Stay away from negative thoughts by thinking positive ones. Instead of saying, “I can’t,” think to yourself, “I can run another step.”
Second, let the past inform future successes. I went into my next race with a tougher mind-set, better preparation and a willingness to embrace challenges instead of pushing them away.
Third, look to like-minded individuals for motivation. Chase after the person in front of you, and try to reach out and pull others along on their journey as well, the way that stranger did for me.
Ultimately, the universe doesn’t care if you run or walk in the direction of your goals. It only wants you to keep moving toward them. Don’t stop! You’re almost there.
This originally appeared in the January 2014 issue of Family Circle Magazine
Got a question for Dr. Janet? Email her at email@example.com.