The Motivational Magic of Music: Dancing Your Way to a Fit Body

The Motivational Magic of Music: Dancing Your Way to a Fit Body

Many of my regular readers might recall that I’ve often shared that I have two left feet. That doesn’t stop me from enjoying watching others dance. So when I heard of a dance exercise class close to our place, I went to watch. I do believe it would be so much fun dancing your way to a fit body.

The Motivational Magic of Music: Dancing Your Way to a Fit Body

If you love music and you are in the market for a new workout routine, you should be dancing. Dance can give a whole body workout if you do it right. It is also an incredible mood lifter, which adds to the overall positive benefits. Here’s what to look for in a motivational dance workout that you can do at home, in the studio or on the road.

No talent required

You don’t have to be a skilled dancer to enjoy the benefits of moving your body to music. A dance class can give challenges as you test your memory and learn choreography, but depending on the type of dance, you might find it doesn’t really contribue much to weight loss or muscle toning. The pros on Dancing with the Stars have incredible physiques but to get the body of a professional dancer, you would have to be dancing in the studio for several hours each day. The best type of dance workout for the non-professional offers simple, repetitive moves that use the entire body.

Break up boredom with dance

If hearing a catchy tune makes you want to bust a move, you should seriously consider incorporating dance into your regular workout routine. Let’s face it – a gym workout can be boring. Unless you are aiming to build substantial muscle, you might find dancing a better alternative to weight lifting. You will likely find it more enjoyable and it gives you the workout you need. Dance is fun, requires no equipment, and dancing targets the core, arms, legs and butt muscles. Your workout changes with every song, so boredom isn’t an issue. You can use dance as the cardio part of your workout, and alternate with light weights exercises, Pilates or Yoga to increase your flexibility, build muscle and avoid injury.

Have music, will travel

You don’t need a gym membership or fancy exercise equipment if you have access to music. Just put your earphones in, dial up your favorite playlist and go for an up-tempo walk. If you really want to get moving, consider investing in a Zumba DVD. That way you can exercise in any weather, at home or on the road, wherever you have access to a DVD machine. Zumba was developed as a form of dance fitness in Colombia in the 1990’s. It doesn’t involve a lot of instruction; the moves flow one to the next in an intuitive pattern. Zumba has gained popularity in North America in recent years, as people search for enjoyable, economical and effective ways to exercise.

Gyms and fitness clubs are also catching onto the dancing trend, offering classes in hip-hop for cardio. For variety and to keep challenging yourself, you can search for free dance videos on the Internet when you have access to WiFi. You will find routines based on Bollywood, Latin and even African styles of dancing. All of that hip swaying helps to build core muscles and tone the abs.

Have you  ever considered dancing your way to a fit body?


Image of group of dancers via Shutterstock

Loneliness and Illness #MondayMusings

Loneliness and Illness #MondayMusings

She was 16 when she took ill. High fever and no other symptoms. The doctors took test after test with no definite idea what the problem was. A viral infection was what they ruled and kept trying out different drugs. The fever weakened her. She would just pass out on the way to the washroom. Her mother struggled to take care of her. Her father pitched in to when he came back from work and her siblings helped too.

Loneliness and Illness

For a month the fever continued, making her listless and depressed. The family was stressed already with tensions between the parents. One night her father, drank a little too much and behaved rather badly. Her mother already at her wits end and just bone tired, walked out of the house the next day, leaving the girl in the care of her siblings with no word of where she was going. When the father got back from work, he had no clue where his wife was and the daughter began to panic. With no one to talk to, and feeling that her illness was causing these tensions, she blamed herself for the situation. She was too weak to take her own life, but that was one evening she felt that she should.

Thankfully, the story ended well and things went back to normal. But that was the evening the young girl realized that sickness and loneliness can make a deadly combination. She learnt that an important aspect of healing is having a good social network and strong relationships. She also learnt that once she shared her feelings, and friends were invited over, her healing speeded up.

This truth was recently underlined for the young girl, now over 50 (you’ve guessed, already) when she came across a recent study.

Findings of the Study

In a study conducted at Rice University, participants were measured on a Short Loneliness Scale and a Social Network Index, and the results showed that those who had tested as lonely were no more likely to catch a cold then those who weren’t. But there was a difference: For those who did catch the cold, the lonely people experienced more severe symptoms.

Going in, the researchers were already aware that, “Loneliness puts people at risk for premature mortality and all kinds of other physical illnesses,” study author Angie LeRoy wrote. “But nothing had been done to look at an acute but temporary illness that we’re all vulnerable to, like the common cold.” The study made a distinction between feeling lonely and social isolation. “This paper is about the quality of your relationships, not the quantity,” LeRoy wrote. “You can be in a crowded room and feel lonely. That perception is what seems to be important when it comes to these cold symptoms.”

“Anytime you have an illness, it’s a stressor, and this phenomenon would probably occur,” wrote the study’s lead author, Rice psychologist Chris Fagundes. “A predisposition, whether it’s physical or mental, can be exaggerated by a subsequent stressor. In this case, the subsequent stressor is getting sick, but it could be the loss of a loved one, or getting breast cancer, which are subjects we also study.”

The study’s authors suggest that doctors should take psychological factors like loneliness into account when they are treating patients.
Do you too have instances of the connection between loneliness and illness?

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Image of sick young woman via Shutterstock

Seasonal Sadness: Creative Little Ways to Lift Your Spirits Big Time

Seasonal Sadness: Creative Little Ways to Lift Your Spirits Big Time

Seasonal Sadness: Creative Little Ways to Lift Your Spirits Big Time

Generally speaking, feelings of depression and sadness are increased during winter months. This ‘winter depression’ is commonly known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It’s estimated a huge 1 in 3 people suffer from SAD every year accompanied with a variety of different symptoms. Some symptoms of this condition can be relatively minor such as feeling sluggish and tired. More severe symptoms like depression and sleeping problems can occur if spirits aren’t lifted.

Luckily, rectifying SAD can be achieved without a visit to the doctor and taking pills. There’s a huge amount of creative home-care methods to counteract SAD, lift spirits and improve overall mood. If you routinely suffer from SAD symptoms every time winter and darkness hits, here are some simple techniques you can start using right now to eliminate seasonal sadness for good!

Take vitamin D supplements

We get the vast majority of our vitamin D supply from the sun. But, during winter months, the sun is often extremely lacking. The sky is filled with grey darkness as opposed to the shining sun we all know and love. Depression is actually correlated with low levels of vitamin D in the body. What better way to counteract this than taking vitamin D supplements?

Available in most health stores, vitamin D supplements come in both solid pill and chewy form. So, if you’re not good with swallowing whole pills, you have the option of a gummy vitamin instead. It’s recommended to take at least 3000 international units of vitamin D a day to get a positive effect. Eating foods rich in vitamin D (fish, eggs, yogurt etc.) is a great way to kick-start this process too.

Try out a new hobby

One of the most common symptoms of SAD is feeling tired with no energy. So, even though the thought of taking up a new hobby might seem like too much effort, it’s important to push through this barrier and try something new.

Hobbies don’t have to need much physical input, and an activity such as coloring is a great place to start. Relaxing and therapeutic, you can color from the comfort of your own home without any kind of strenuous movement involved. The Coloring Book for Me & Mandala app offers an array of intricate designs to color that have been specifically crafted to relieve stress – perfect for beating those winter blues!

Surround yourself with positive people

One of the worst things you can do for SAD is to feed its negativity by hanging out with equally negative people. If you’re feeling particularly low and miserable, arrange to meet up with friends you know are naturally positive and happy to perk you up and improve your mood.

Whilst experiencing dips in mood during winter months is extremely common, this doesn’t mean you have to put up with it! If you’re consistently feeling depressed and lethargic during this time, make the simple life changes mentioned above and you’re almost guaranteed to see positive results.

Are you affected by SAD? How do you cheer yourself up?



Could Metaphysical Elements Help Harmonize Your Life?

Could Metaphysical Elements Help Harmonize Your Life?

On holiday recently, I’ve been doing all sorts of reading. One thing I’ve been reading up about crystals and gemstones and healing stones. I’m wondering more and more if metaphysical elements help harmonize your life and surroundings. I’m not quite a convert yet, but I did find it interesting.

Could Metaphysical Elements Help Harmonize Your Life?

Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy which is answerable for existence. It includes everything which exists, plus the nature of existence itself. It states whether the world is real, or just an illusion. It is a fundamental view of the world around us. Metaphysical elements like crystals, semi-precious gemstones and healing stones originate from one integrated source that is Earth. Gemstones and crystals have a history of use in  ornamentation. They have been attributed metaphysical and spiritual properties. They come from exotic locales and are even related to  psychic science.

Geometrical form, subtle vibration and colour affect the energy field of various gemstones. Each stone is composed of tiny crystals that are in constant motion that release an energy signature or frequency. The colour of a gemstone plays a role in the stone’s healing energy. The light and colour can motivate or calm, purify or heal. There has always existed a magical and symbiotic relation between human beings and gems.


The supposed meaning, healing properties and spiritual significance

The metaphysical and spiritual value of these gemstones depends on dyed stones and their existence. Gemstones and crystals are an essential part of human life, signifying wealth and power. Their metaphysical meaning, healing properties, and spiritual significance are:

  • Some gemstones are excellent for both physical and spiritual healing, and can be used for any chakras.  Actinolite is utilized for maintaining the energies of the heart, and produces soothing energies and awareness.
  • Agate is regarded as a protective stone. It attracts strength and provides protection from stress, draining of energy and bad dreams.
  • Amethyst soothes the emotions, motivates clarity of thought, and helps in getting wisdom. It brings serenity and clarity. It has been considered as an aid to soberness and is helpful in giving up alcohol, and other dependencies.
  • The healing properties of black stone is associated with its darkness or blackness.
  • Azurite helps clean the mind in meditation. It awakens intuitions, insights and psychic ability.
  • Apache tears  remove hurdles and hindrances that hold you back. It makes you strong enough to forgive someone and assists in the grieving process.
  • Amazonite helps to balance energy and maintains harmony in relationships.
  • Calcite is a great energy amplifier and an excellent gemstone for cleansing and clearing.
  • Citrine helps to turn negativity into positivity. You feel joy and optimism after using it.
  • Diamond is regarded as the stone of inspiration and perfection.

You can find out more about the gemstones and their healing and spiritual properties through various online and offline sources. Here is a Youtube video describing the same.

Do you believe in the healing and energizing properties of stones and crystals?


Image of healing stones via Shutterstock

Your Cholesterol Matters

Your Cholesterol Matters

Your Cholesterol Matters

What Your Numbers Mean and How You Can Improve Them
by: Richard Furman MD, FACS

Your Cholesterol Matters
Book Description

85 percent of people over the age of 50 have significant artery blockage without any symptoms.

Two-thirds of the time, the initial symptom is a full-blown heart attack.

Doctors routinely tell patients to watch their diet, get regular exercise, and lose weight. They also increasingly prescribe “cholesterol lowering” drugs that patients will take every day for the rest of their lives. The pill makes us feel like we’re doing something, so we slack off in our goals for a healthier lifestyle. To make matters worse, the pill solves only a portion of the problem, giving us a false sense of security.

Dr. Richard Furman wants you to know that you don’t have to pin your health hopes on expensive medications that only address a small part of the cholesterol puzzle (and often have negative health-impacting side effects). In this practical guide to better health, he offers specific strategies to

· lower your levels of “lethal” LDL cholesterol
· raise your levels of “hero” HDL cholesterol
· develop new habits that make healthy living easy and natural
· adjust your lifestyle in order to stay off of expensive medications
· and more

Your aging process depends on the health of your arteries.

About the author

Richard Furman

Richard Furman, MD, FACS, spent over thirty years as a vascular surgeon. The author of Prescription for Life, Furman is past president of the North Carolina Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, past president of the North Carolina Surgical Society, and a two-term governor of the American College of Surgeons. He is cofounder of World Medical Mission, the medical arm of Samaritan’s Purse, and is a member of the board of Samaritan’s Purse. He lives in North Carolina.

You can listen to a podcast sharing Dr Furman’s postion

Summary of podcast

Dr. Furman explains that our total cholesterol is made up of LDL, bad cholesterol, and HDL, good cholesterol. If we’re not doing something about the high levels of LDL in our blood, this will negatively impact our arteries and our overall quality of life. This is because LDL acts as tiny splinters that get into the walls of arteries. On the other hand, HDL acts as a small police car that travels through arteries and plucks out and disposes of the LDL. Ideally, one would have a total cholesterol below 200, with LDL being below 100 and HDL being above 50.

If you’re trying to reach ideal cholesterol numbers, you should first try to reduce LDL through eating healthy. Medical literature has shown that there are bad fats that cause damage to arteries through LDL found in red meats, dairy, and fried foods. Studies show that if you cut out bad fats, but substitute sugar for those bad fats, that also hurts your arteries. Instead, you must substitute bad fats with good fats, such as fish, nuts, and olive oil.

In addition to reducing LDL, you can also increase HDL levels. This is achieved through losing weight if you are overweight and exercising regularly. These activities, when combined with eating an appropriate diet, will help to bring your cholesterol numbers into the ideal range.

The more you know about managing your cholesterol, the easier it is to adopt the lifestyle that will add years and quality to your life.

My review

When a book written by a professional speaks in layman’s terms, I love it. This was a very easy book to read and one that I’m glad I picked up at the beginning of the year. It helps me keep my (sometimes) very unevenly balanced priorities in place.

The action steps at the end of chapters (example below) were simple and easy to follow.

Action Steps
1. Recruit an accountability partner or organize a support group to help you develop a plan. Determine how often
you will communicate about your progress. Develop your goals together.
2. Buy two or three types of fat-free salad dressing to replace your current dressings at home.
3. Eat nothing fried for the next week.

I know that there are different schools of thought with regard to what fats are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and I’ll soon share another book that somewhat contradicts this one. However, like I said, I got a lot of out this book.

I got a copy of the book for review from the publisher via NetGalley

7 Simple Everyday Habits for a Healthier Life

7 Simple Everyday Habits for a Healthier Life

It seems harder to find time to be work on our health nowadays. What with the busy lifestyle we all lead. We need to keep up with the times or else we’ll be left out. Sometimes we so busy crossing things off that infernal bucket list, that we forget to take care of ourselves. That’s why it’s wise to follow simple everyday habits for a healthier life.

You don’t have to get a gym membership or hire a nutritionist to help you be at your best shape. You only need to make small changes in your habits and be aware of what’s good for you and what’s not.

Simple Everyday Habits for a Healthier Life

#1 Rest

Sometimes it’s impossible to get the ideal 8-hour sleep our bodies need to recharge. Have you heard of how Leonardo da Vinci managed his sleeping hours?

Da Vinci slept for 15 minutes in every four hours. As a result, da Vinci generally limited how much he slept to just one and half hours a day. Da Vinci is said to have used this method for many years of his life, without ever feeling tired. (Source: Bustle)

We may not be Da Vinci but we can still set a fixed time to get rest. Maybe get a 15-minute power nap after an hour or so of working. And get to bed early anytime we can.

#2 Move around

A short walk every day, using the stairs instead of taking the elevator, or deliberately getting up and moving around at any chance you can makes a lot of difference. Get on the treadmill while catching up on your favourite show. Touch your toes a few times to stretch your body, walk your dog a few minutes a day. The options are endless to get your body working. Get your heart pumping, your blood circulating and your mind working by moving around.

#3 Meditate

Before you touch your phone in the morning, meditate. Pray, reflect or just “be”. Allow your spirit to be still before taking the plunge so to speak. Before you get in the day, let your mind be focused and remember what matters most. Think about your goals—both short term and long term, and imagine yourself achieving it. Listen to a relaxing or motivating music. It all starts in the mind so better take care of your mind first thing first.

#4 Disconnect

Another quite impossible, but simple everyday habit for a healthier life you need to develop is to disconnect. Turn off your phone before going to bed. Get at least one day in a week when you can turn off your laptop and TV and go out. Or stay at home and read a book. Social media detox works wonders in your health. Disconnect for a healthier life.

#5 Clean up

You can’t be healthy if you’re surrounded by a mess. Pick after yourself so you will not have a hard time cleaning up. Throw your trash properly. Sanitize. Change your bedding regularly. Wear clean clothes. The pile of laundry you see lying around creating a mess has to be washed. If you feel too lazy to do so, you can always try services. Visit to see how simple it is.

7 Simple Everyday Habits for a Healthier Life

The same goes for the dishes, cooking, and the garden. It will keep nagging you till you do it, so why not just finish it off already? Simple habits that will have a huge impact on  your health.

#6 Visit your doctor

Make an appointment to see a physician at least once or twice a year. Have a thorough physical exam to find out what your body needs. Also visit your dentist. Oral health is an essential yet often overlooked part of physical health.

#7 Eat healthy

Food of course is an integral part of our health. You can exercise or meditate and rest all you want but if you don’t nourish your body with healthy food, you will still be sickly. You don’t need to pay for an expensive planned meal to be delivered at your doorstep. Just remember the important food groups and get your dose of nutrition in every meal. Stay away from the junk and munch on fruits and vegetables instead. Eat in moderation and eat right.

As the old adage goes, “Health is wealth.” You can’t enjoy life if your health suffers. You don’t need to invest a huge amount of money to be healthy. You don’t even need a major change in your lifestyle. Small steps and simple everyday habits for a healthier life is all you need.


Image of clean laundry via Shutterstock