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“Getting older is the best thing that ever happened to me. I wake up every morning rejoicing that I’m still here with the opportunity to begin again and be better.” –  Oprah.

On December 27, 2012 I joined together with 13 cousins and 6 aunts and uncles to celebrate the life of one woman: My Grandmother. Grandma stands as an inspiration to us all, the walking proof of a life well lived. She is  glowing, full of health and vitality. Celebrating 90 years of life with my family was a memorable, meaningful night for me. I set a new personal goal: to live to 90 (and THEN some) just like my Grandma Joan.

What can you do to age gracefully and increase your longevity? Luck and genetics are a piece of the puzzle, but you can’t control that. To increase your odds of reaching 90 and beyond, it’s about focusing on what you can do. Loading up on fruits and veggies, working out five days a week, and cutting down on stress are just a few habits to help you age well. Here are a few other suggestions from one woman who knows, my Grandmother!

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Lessons on living till 90 (and THEN some!) from Grandma Joan

Move Your Body. Regular exercise is one of the strongest predictors of a long life. Thats because being active is like turning up a car engine. It keeps systems running better so even if there’s a decline with age its less severe. Unfortunately, many of us are stuck behind a desk most days with a sedentary job, which can negatively affect longevity. To add years to your life, make exercise part of your daily routine. Even a little bit goes a long way: try walking 30 minutes a day and a few times a week add on something else like a dance class or lifting weights. Research shows that people who perform even the most basic movements (walking just 3 to 5 days a week) live longer than those who don’t.  Especially the older you get—stop moving, stop living.

Have Meaningful Relationships. Having meaningful relationships is critical to your health. Partly because the reverse – being isolated – can lead to depression and even dampen the immune system. My Grandma knows this all too well, she had SIX kids after all! Her one tip of advice? Just make sure to surround yourself only with people who can lift you higher. You want to be around those that positively influence your life and encourage you to reach your goals. Establish regular dates to be social with your those you love. Go to happy hour, visit a museum, savor a meal, enjoy life together!

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Set the Table and Share Home-cooked Meals. Making it a priority to share meals with those you love not only helps build meaningful relationships (see above) it improves your nutrition. Cooking your own food means having control over the ingredients, so you can make sure there are no chemicals or preservatives and no extra amounts of sugar or salt. Plus, using fresh vegetables and fruits from your own garden is a huge bonus. The more recently the produce was picked, the more nutrients it has, which means more antioxidants and vitamins to keep your body and brain young. My Grandma makes dining an event: the table is set and  we sit down (distraction free!) to enjoy a mindful, nutritious meal together.

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Have a Hobby. Having a pastime reduces stress and provides a sense of accomplishment. Its even more beneficial to have a hobby that allows you to be creative. Creative hobbies take you out of your daily patterns and ignite your inner spirit. Make a vision board, take a cooking class, and engage in a creative projects as often as possible. You’ll find that time spent in creativity heightens your happiness and gives you more energy for the other areas of your life.

Always dress as if you are meeting the Queen. My grandmother would never let me leave the house without brushing my hair at least 100 times.  Good thing too because research actually confirms that a little vanity is good for you. In a Harvard study, people who thought they looked better had an actual drop in blood pressure. And as much as I LOVE spending all day in stretchy pants, there is something to be said for getting yourself together. Feeling confident about how you present yourself will increase how you feel now AND later!

Maintain a Healthy weight. If you keep your weight in a healthy range for your gender, age, and height, it keeps your organs healthy, there’s less need for medication, and it enables you to maintain a healthy lifestyle longterm. Most health problems in America can be correlated to lifestyle and bad habits. Eating right along with exercising and not smoking are the key habits that slash your disease risk by 80 %. Choose good for you foods and aim to keep your weight in a healthy range (click here for a healthy weight assessment).  The healthier you are, the better you feel. The better you feel, the longer you live.

DRINK water, don’t smoke, and moderate your alcohol intake. Well you knew that one already!

Be in good spirits. I truly believe in the power of positive thoughts to heal, energize, and help us enjoy life. What we tell ourselves and the messages we take in from others affect our ability to live long, happy lives. They help the health of our mind, body, and soul. Recognize that you create your perceptions from the inside out. A person’s mood in the moment creates his or her experience; a person’s experience does not create his or her mood. Those who understand this live a smooth and stress-free life and do not play victim to external circumstances. Moral of the story: the quality of your thoughts creates the quality and longevity of your life! 

Make Downtime a Priority.  Skimping on leisure time can raise your risk of heart disease eightfold. Not to mention the very REAL negative health effects of stress and working too much. The simple solution? Schedule regular downtime.  I like to practice what I call Personal Protected Days (PPD). PPD’s are all about learning to take time for yourself and incorporate balance into life. When you don’t get enough downtime, then you can’t appreciate or enjoy the time you have with others.  Book leisure time into your schedule and don’t let anything else get in the way once it’s on the calendar. We all need different amounts of alone time based on personalities, schedules and family commitments. Even if you live with a friend, a spouse, a partner or kids its important to find some space for yourself. Do whatever it takes to find this space and protect it. Learn that taking  time for yourself is NOT selfish, but an essential part of living a long life!

Experience the World. Being engaged in the world gives life meaning. That is a good thing for your mental health and seems to lower your overall risk of dying. It’s better to look back on life and say, “I can’t believe I did that,” than to look back and say, “I wish I did that.”  So take the trip, learn a new language, try something new and enjoy all that life has to offer. Even if you live till 100 life is STILL too short. Go for what you want and don’t wait to experience life!

Have an attitude of gratitude. Practicing gratitude can center you, help you live in the moment, enhance your relationships, help you overcome hurdles, improve your health, and motivate you to reach your goals.  Feeling grateful for what you have can produce the good feelings that keep you moving towards the happy life you want. Look around and count your blessings. Clear your head of all the little things that won’t matter down the line, when you’re looking back at all the times you cherished the most in life, and find a reason to make every moment one of them.

Thanks for teaching me how to live well just by being YOU Grandma. Looking forward to enjoying year 90 (and THEN some) with you!

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Is longevity one of your goals? How do you work towards living a life that is long and FULL? Leave a comment below with one habit you have that increases the amount of years in your life. Heres to enjoying a healthy, happy life and increasing our longevity simply by doing it.

Caroline

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“It’s not the amount of years in Your Life….but the amount Of LIFE in your years!”

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As we approach the new year, there is one thing on everybody’s mind: GOALS. One thing I find extremely effective in setting goals that have lasting power is creating a vision board.  A vision board is a visual representation or collage of the things that you want to have, be, or do in your life. It works to activate the law of attraction which is the idea that your mode of thinking, be it positive or negative, directly affects what the universe puts out there for you. In other words, if you think negatively, your life will only result in negativity. But if you put positive mental energy into the universe, positive outcomes—getting that promotion you wanted or getting out of debt—will happen. It’s kind of like the little engine that could, “I think I can I think I can”.

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Creating vision boards is considered by many to be a vital step on the road to success. Since positive, focused thinking is the key to achieving goals, pinpointing what those goals are and having something tangible to symbolize them is an essential part of the process. Vision boards remind us what we should and should not be doing in order to achieve our goals. The images and phrases that make the board should represent the highest priorities in your life. It reinforces what you truly want in your life and helps keep you on track in living it.
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A vision board usually consists of a poster or foam board with cut-out pictures, drawings and/or writing on it of the things that you want to manifest in your life. It’s simple.

By selecting pictures and writing that charges your emotions with feelings of passion, you will begin to take action towards making those things happen.  Your personal vision board is only limited by the extent of your own creativity. Vision boards are whatever you create them to be – I’ve seen everything from simple to those that could probably sell in an art gallery. Having artistic ability is not a prerequisite for creating a functional vision board and the procedures I’ve outlined below can be used by anyone.

The general elements that a well-designed vision board should include are:

  • Visual. Your subconscious mind works in pictures and images, so make your vision board as visual as possible with as many pictures as you can. You can supplement your pictures with words and phrases to increase the emotional response you get from it.
  • Emotional. Each picture on your vision board should evoke a positive emotional response from you. The mere sight of your vision board should make you happy and fuel your passion to achieve it every time you look at it.
  • Strategically-placed. Your vision board should be strategically placed in a location that gives you exposure to it. It’s helpful to look at it often and give your mind a reminder of your desires.
  • Personal. Negative feelings, self-doubt, and criticism can damage the delicate energy that your vision board emits. If you fear criticism or justification of your vision board from others, then place it in a private location so it can only be seen by yourself.

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Supplies Needed

    • Big piece of cardboard or poster board
    • Large selection of magazines (preferably in color)
    • scissors
    • Tape/ glue (i prefer double sided tape)
    • Printer (for images off the internet you want to include)
    • Ribbon

Ready to get crafty? Here are my Steps To Create Your Vision Board:

    1. Decide the main theme of your board. It may be based on something specific you wish to accomplish or obtain, or it may be a general idea of everything that makes you happy. (and yes you can make a vision board just specifically of the man/woman of your dreams 😉 )
    2. Find pictures that correspond with your theme, either from old magazines, photographs, or from the Internet.
    3. Print (if necessary) and cut out your pictures.
    4. Type or write some affirmations or empowering words that correspond with your theme.
    5. Glue your pictures and affirmations to your poster board and pin them to your cork board.
    6. Hang your vision board somewhere you will see it often.

Now I know what you are thinking… how can a board full of magazine cut outs REALLY get you what you want out of life?! I understand many skeptics may never get crafty with their goals and cardboard. But there’s no harm in creating something tangible to inspire you. If it does help you get that much closer to your goals, more power to you.  Just don’t forget the essential secret to success is to put forth the effort and take action to make what you want out of life happen. A compelling vision combined with focused action is the key to a positive outcome.  

What is your vision for 2013? 

Leave a comment below if you chose to create a vision board this year. Better yet, send me a photo of your vision board at carolinejordanfitness@gmail.com . Looking forward to sharing a bright and beautiful New Year with you. Put what you want OUT THERE. I believe this will be our best year yet! A Compelling Vision + Focused Action = Positive Outcomes and I am POSITIVE about that one 🙂

Happy New Year to you ALL!

Caroline

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*** Reference to the novel, “Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding Of Happiness and Wellbeing” by Martin E. P. Seligman ***

“We think too much about what goes wrong and not enough about what goes right in our lives. Of course, sometimes it makes sense to analyze bad events so that we can learn from them and avoid them in the future. However, people tend to spend more time thinking about what is bad in life than is helpful. Worse, this focus on negative events sets us up for anxiety and depression. One way to keep this from happening is to get better at thinking about and savoring what went WELL.

For sound evolutionary reasons, most of us are not nearly as good at dwelling on good events as we are at analyzing the bad ones. Those of our ancestors who spent a lot of time basking in the sunshine of good events, when they should have been preparing for a disaster did not survive the Ice Age. So to overcome our brains’ natural catastrophic bent, we need to work on and practice this skill of thinking about what went well.”  The mind is a muscle that needs exercise just like all the others in the body. The more you train the brain to think positive the stronger it will get on focusing on the good in life. And  since positive thoughts inspire positive results, by training your brain in this way you will bring more happiness into your life.

Is your brain ready to train??? Here is one simple exercise that will strengthen your mind, decrease depression, increase wellbeing,  and help you create more happiness in your life.

“The What Went Well Exercise” (Also known as the “Three Blessings”)

Every night for the next week, set aside ten minutes before you go to sleep. Write down three things that went well today and why they went well. You may use a journal, your computer, or even your i phone to write about the events, but it’s important that you have a physical record of what you wrote. The three things need not be earthshaking in importance (“My husband picked up my favorite treat for dessert on the way home from work today”), but they can be important (“My sister just gave birth to a healthy baby boy”).

Next to each positive event, answer the question “Why did this happen?” For example, if you wrote that your husband picked up your favorite treat, write, “because my husband is really thoughtful sometimes” or “because I remembered to call him from work and remind him to stop by the grocery store. Or if you wrote, “My sister just gave birth to a healthy baby boy”, you might pick as the cause, “She did everything right during her pregnancy” or “God was looking out for her”.

Writing about why the positive events in your life happened may seem awkward at first, but stay open to it and stick with the challenge for ONE week. It will get easier. And odds are you’ll find yourself happier, less depressed, and totally addicted to this exercise three months from now.

Trust me when I say, I take my own medicine. I have repeated this exercise (along with the Gratitude Journal) often throughout my life to improve my wellbeing and happiness. These exercises WORK. And it is always astonishing to see such dramatic results from the simplest of actions.

This challenge might not make your butt stronger…. but I can guarantee you it will make you happier. Grab a pen and a piece of paper. Start today journaling what went WELL. Let me know if you have any questions and update me on your progress. Im really excited for you to try this exercise and I cant wait to see the positive things that happen as a result.

Hope you have a wonderful week filled with lots of POSITIVE moments! Hope to see you soon for a workshop or workout. Till next time…. keep shining 🙂

With Gratitude,

Caroline

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“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful. But gratefulness that makes us happy.”

You don’t have to be Oprah to know…. there is a whole lot of power in the act of GRATITUDE.

Practicing gratitude can center you, help you live in the moment, enhance your relationships, help you overcome hurdles, improve your health, and motivate you to reach your goals. Showing gratitude is a great way to spread positive feelings in the world around you. When you think about it, reaching your goals starts with a single positive thought. Feeling grateful for what you have can produce the good feelings that keep you moving towards the happy life you want.

Sadly work, school, friends, family, hobbies, and daily routine can trap us into a pattern of negative thinking. It only takes one negative thought to breed more and before you know it you’re stressed, unhappy, and frustrated. Negative thinking is a sinking ship, once you are in its gonna be hard to get out of it. This downward spiral can eventually create other ailments in your life, including constant fatigue, depression, and isolation (because really, who wants to hang out with a negative person?). Believe it or not, you can reprogram your thoughts, break out of a negative funk, and generate more happiness in your life simply by FOCUSING ON THE POSITIVE. How do you start? By using the power of GRATITUDE. The easiest way to do this is by keeping a gratitude journal.

A gratitude journal is one of the best ways to retrain your brain to think positive. Research has shown that keeping a gratitude journal can have many benefits. A study done at the University of California showed that participants who kept a daily gratitude journal complained of fewer physical symptoms, felt happier and more optimistic about their lives, were better able to meet goals, and exercised more. Want to get all these benefits and THEN SOME? Here are my 5 steps towards starting a gratitude journal practice:

5 steps to creating a Gratitude Journal and Cultivating positivity in Your World. 

1. Choose Your Journal. Does handwriting in a journal help you to slow down and connect with what you’re feeling? Or do you prefer the instant materialization that typing offers? Constantly on the Go? You might benefit from journaling in your Iphone /smart phone. There are plenty of gratitude and note applications that work well for the constantly moving individual (this one looks COOL!). Decide on a format that works best for your needs and preferences. Make it as easily accessible as possible and commit to using it consistently.

2. Make it a Habit. You should write in your gratitude journal every day, preferably at the same time of day. If you’d like to start your day on a positive note, write in your gratitude journal after you eat breakfast. If you want to use your gratitude journal to reflect after a long and stressful day, write in it before bed. It is important to associate your writing with other key habits, as well. Even if you don’t write at the same time, write in conjunction with the same activity. You could write in your journal on the bus ride home, after you’ve finished washing the dishes each night, or after you’re done at the gym. Writing at the same time or in correlation with the same activity helps making it a part of your routine, which will quickly make it a habit.

3. THREE TO FIVE. Every day.  Decide on a goal for how many things you’d like to express gratitude for, but be sure that it is no less than three to five. Doesnt have to be long. You can write your entries in a list or go to town and write in small paragraphs, explaining why it is you are grateful for each. The key is to get in the habit of becoming aware of all the things in your life for which you have to be grateful. It may be hard to come up with three items in the beginning, but once you get in the habit, it will be easy to see more positive in all the things you do.

4. Be Specific! In the beginning,you may be tempted to list things like “I’m grateful for my health.” While this is certainly something for which to be grateful, try to be more specific and focus on exactly why you are grateful. For example, instead of saying, “I’m grateful for my husband,” you could write:

  • I’m happy to have such an affectionate husband who shows me that he loves me and treats me well.
  • I’m grateful to have such a handsome husband, to whom I still think is HOT. 😉
  • I’m lucky to have a husband who picks up his socks, walks the dog, and makes me yummy dinners.

Instead of writing, “I’m grateful for my job,” you could write:

  • I’m lucky to have a job that I enjoy and that I feel is purposeful in the world.
  • I really like the people I work with every day. My co-worker Margot always makes me smile.
  • I’m grateful to have a job that lets me have a flexible schedule. I can spend more time with my kids and still do the work I love!

Focus on specific, positive things, and the things you have to be grateful for will come more into focus for you.

5. Turn Negative into Positives. Transform your thoughts by finding the positive side in negative situations. Instead of dwelling on things that are not working out, try to find a positive in even the most difficult situations. For example:

  • I’m sad that relationship didn’t work out, but now I have time to focus on myself and figuring out what I really want and need in a partner.
  • My husband is just lost his job, but I am happy that we were able to pay rent this month. I know if I stay positive our strong relationship will help us find a solution. I know we will get through this time together.
  • I don’t feel well and I’m worried about my health condition, but I’m grateful for the insight it has given me into how much I want to get out of life. Im choosing to have faith that it will get better and being nice to myself.

It takes work, but you CAN learn to focus on the positive in even the most dire situations.Though it may seem difficult and unnatural at first, keeping a gratitude journal and choosing to focus on the positive every day will help you cultivate a greater sense of happiness and optimism about your life.

We might not have the power to control everything in our lives, but we do have the power to choose our thoughts and focus them on the positive. Journaling the things you are grateful for is one of the best ways to do this and I’ve found helps create the right attitude that can transform my day. When I am grateful, I am living in the moment and I am happy for the moment. I can honestly say that when I start thinking about all of the things I’m grateful for, even a bad day can start to seem pretty good…

THIS MONTH, I challenge you to keep a daily “Journal of Gratitude”. It is such an easy, simple thing to do for yourself. Decide today that you are going to reduce negativity and get rid of the ‘don’ts,’ ‘nots’ and ‘no’s’—the negative people, the negative thoughts. Decide today to get in the habit of appreciating the little things and savoring each moment.

I believe this challenge has the power to  positively change your life. And I think deep down in your gut you know it. Keeping a gratitude journal will fill your life with happiness. And we could all use a little more of that right?

I will be keeping a daily journal this month of things I am grateful for. At the end of the month I will post some my list in this space and share with you the things in this life that make me happy. I want you to join me. No, isnt an easy fitness challenge you can fit in when you are short on time. This challenge is much harder than that. This challenge requires you to sit down for a few minutes and reflect. This challenge requires you to choose a positive thought. This challenge will change your life. Create your gratitude journal using the steps above. Start today journaling the positive in your life. Let me know if you have any questions and update me on your progress. Im really excited for you to take part in this month’s challenge and I cant wait to see the positive transformation that happens.

This month’s gratitude journal challenge might not make your butt stronger…. but I can guarantee you it will make you happier. Grab a pen and a piece of paper. This month, we are getting GRATEFUL.

With love and gratitude,

Caroline

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