SLIDER

AFFORDABLE WAYS TO STAY FIT

1.22.2019


If your notion of health and fitness involves Lululemon tights and a Peloton, it's time to let go of those impractical pricy standards. Bulky equipment and gym memberships can cost you a pretty penny. Some shell out the cash in the hopes that the initial sacrifice compels them to actually do it. Unfortunately, money can't buy you motivation. The drive to succeed in anything comes from within.

YOUR BODY IS ALL THE EQUIPMENT YOU WILL NEED

Dumbbells and Bowflex machines take up space and collect dust. Don't get duped by infomercials into placing an order. There are plenty of options that utilize your body as the main instrument for working out. Self.com published a list demonstrating 53 exercises that focus on a variety of muscle groups. All you need is a floor. Some may prefer using a mat for stability or sneakers for added support. Make sure you're dressed to move comfortably as well. Since this is an at-home routine, no need for fancy designer gear. Pick and choose specific movements that cater to your individual goals. If you're looking to sculpt your buttocks, focus on doing more squats and lunges. 10-15 minutes a day, 2-3 times a week is a great starting point. If you're looking to tackle big goals like losing a considerable amount of weight, gradually increase the time you spend working out. Everyone is different. Adjust your training based on what you feel works best for your own needs.


Another great workout alternative is yoga which is an extremely cost-efficient form of exercise that suits a wide range of body types and lifestyles. The Youtube channel, Yoga with Adriene, caters to pretty much everyone. Adriene's videos feature movements and stretches that focus on a myriad of concerns. Some Yoga positions target the neck and shoulders, others focus on relieving anxiety and PMS. Adriene's quirky and welcoming demeanor draws yogis of all backgrounds. Even those with ailments and disabilities are encouraged to join in. Her channel also features yoga routines that cater to various age groups, like Yoga for Seniors and Yoga for Kids. The popular channel stays up-to-date by tackling emerging conditions like "text neck," which results from improper posture while texting. This fitness resource enables you to customize a workout that suits your physical needs, as well as emotional disposition. Slow breathing techniques, gradual body movements and calming positions aid in reducing mental clutter and emotional distress. Yoga's holistic approach to fitness has the ability to heal, strengthen and empower like no other method.


HEALTHIER FOODS COST LESS

Fruits and vegetables cost less than meats and processed goods. It takes more effort to cook and serve fruits and vegetables but the benefits outweigh the initial effort. Compile a collection of recipes that highlight the scrumptious flavors that fruits and veggies have to offer. Cut back on meat-centric dishes by introducing one vegetarian meal a week. The more you become acclimated to healthier and less processed meals, the easier it will be to adapt to a more nutritious and cost-efficient diet. Swap sodas for fruit juice and water. Switching from whole milk to almond milk can significantly reduce your fat and calorie intake. It can also alleviate stomach discomfort from lactose intolerance. Put together small packets filled with fruits or nuts. When junk food cravings hit, reach for a bag of mixed berries or cashews. Slight adjustments in consumption can make a big difference in your long term health.

SELF-MOTIVATION IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS

Find creative ways to spark the desire to take action. Writing down a to-do list can help give you direction and drive. As you cross each item out, you get a sense of achievement that can further propel you forward. Collecting photos that illustrate your end goal on a vision board  can instill inspiration when you feel discouraged. A reward system can motivate you to reach specific goals along the way. Just make sure that each reward doesn't derail you from achieving success. Treat yourself to a hearty vegetarian lasagna at a restaurant or a cup of low-fat yogurt with fresh berries. Working out with a buddy can help you stay on track while also providing a source of encouragement and support.

All of the tips listed here are meant to help improve your health while also reducing your workout and grocery expenses. All the tools you will ever need is within your grasp. It's just a matter of having the drive and diligence to keep at it. Longevity is the most difficult part of staying fit but the rewards it reaps make it all worth in the end.


Photos by: Kelly Russo & Lum3n

PROTECT YOURSELF FROM HACKERS

1.15.2019


Hacking is an indiscriminate culprit, notorious for affecting droves of unsuspecting victims regardless of their socioeconomic status. The infamous Equifax hack of 2017 exposed as many as 143 million social security and driver's license numbers (NY Times article). Such sensitive data is enough to leave one's entire financial standing in ruins. The best way to combat such catastrophic attacks is to implement preventative measures. Technology is instrumental in such protective procedures. Whether you're tech savvy or a tech novice, these simple steps can reduce the likelihood of identity theft and fraud.

TIDY YOUR DIGITAL POSSESSIONS AS IF THEY ARE TANGIBLE ASSETS

Sort out all your digital goods. This includes usernames, passwords, online accounts, apps and files. Decluttering digital assets involves knowing what you have and getting rid of all that's unnecessary. Do you have multiple social media accounts or apps that you no longer use? Is your phone littered with dozens of unused apps? Closing inactive accounts can prevent your personal information from being readily available in multiple places. Check with a financial advisor about best practices when managing multiple bank and retirement accounts. Make it a habit to do a regular inventory check on all online assets.

PROPERLY MANAGE PASSWORDS

Have a written copy of all usernames and passwords on a notebook or piece of paper. Also include serial numbers or key codes for applications. This hardcopy should be kept in a secure place at all times. Having your passwords in your notes app may seem convenient at first but it can lead to a multitude of issues. What if you get locked out of your phone? If your phone is stolen without a passcode, someone can easily acquire all your login information. If the notes app is synced in the iCloud,  your account information is vulnerable to corporate hacks.

Password management apps are growing in popularity. These are a great option for managing multiple logins. Whichever app you choose, make sure it has been vetted by tech authorities like CNET or The Wirecutter. Don't allow yourself to be completely dependent on the app. Have a copy of your passwords in your long-term memory, along with the previously suggested hardcopy. One great tip is to manually log into all accounts at least once a month. It's a great way to regularly monitor your data for discrepancies while also training your brain to continuously remember your passwords.

Another important aspect of password management is the quality of the password itself. Make sure your passwords are long enough and unique. Passwords like "1234" or the word "password" are an absolute no-no. Once you've created sufficiently complex passwords, make sure you change them at least once a year. Companies that have large amounts of sensitive data require employees to change their passwords every three months. Once or twice a year should suffice for most of us.

Passwords should be treated like physical house keys. They are your first line of defense against thieves and scammers. The more accounts you have, the more vigilant you need to be when managing these precious keys.


EMPLOY ADDITIONAL SECURITY MEASURES

You can supplement passwords with two-factor authentication. This feature adds an additional layer of security. A code is sent to you via text or email which must be entered during each login. Email services like Gmail and Yahoo Mail implement the use of an app to verify a user's identity. The app can either generate a code for you to enter during the login process or simply ask you to to confirm a request to sign in with a tap. The additional step prevents hackers who have your password from getting in.

Google is offering USB or lightning connection keys as an additional security measure. The Titan Security Key must be inserted into the computer or phone you are logging into. This comes in a bundle that also includes a wireless bluetooth enabled key. These keys serve as physical versions of a password which need to be present during each instance that a user logs into their Google account.

Enabling your computer's firewall is another effective tool in the battle against data breaches. The feature blocks outside connection attempts. In addition to this, you can also enable encryption which scrambles your data, making it undecipherable to outsiders. Turning off bluetooth and wifi on mobile devices keeps them on lockdown. This blocks criminals who are trying to access your data from making wireless transfers or connections.

The endgame to every heist is to gain more buying power. Hackers sell private information to generate revenue. They can also go after people's financial assents and credit line, enabling them to make extravagant purchases. Victims end up with inaccurate credit reports and steep declines in their FICO scores. A more extreme measure to protect yourself from data thieves is by freezing all your credit reports. Calling the three main credit reporting agencies to ask for a freeze on your reports is an effective way to prevent hackers from permanently ruining your credit and future buying power.

Think of each of your gadgets and digital assets as windows into a virtual house that holds your precious personal data. Hackers and scammers will do everything they can in order to successfully break in and steal your private information. Protect yourself by enforcing these tactics because oftentimes, online data can be worth more than tangible belongings.

Photos by: Victoria Heath, Edgar

RIDICULOUSLY SIMPLE BUT IMPACTFUL NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS

1.08.2019



January is a great time to contemplate simple actions that can vastly improve the coming year. These straightforward and attainable tasks are meant to help you live a richer life, while also helping you better navigate through its many complications.

TAKE A MOMENT TO LOOK UP THE NIGHT SKY

We all get caught up in the stresses of everyday life. Our minds are constantly embroiled in a myriad problems that need solving, a Friday deadline looming ahead, a friend who needs a shoulder to cry on, a spontaneous purchase that might drain your account once the bills come in. Taking a few seconds to look up might be just what you need. That moment to exhale while marveling at the vast universe above is enough to give one a little perspective. Breathe in the oxygen to relax the brain and focus your mind on something faraway and inconsequential. Some may call it grounding, centering or meditating. I simply call it taking a moment for yourself. It's a small reminder of how lucky you are to be living in a planet that happens to sit right in the Goldilocks Zone, allowing it to be habitable by life. Beyond that precious mass is a vast and wondrous infinite extension of existence. These small moments of being absolutely present is crucial, if you wish to truly live. Otherwise, you'll be locked into a repetitive mundane existence, eternally plagued by anxiety. Perspective is an infinitely useful tool. This ritual is a great reminder of how you can implement it in any situation, no matter how complicated it may seem.


SAVOR YOUR FOOD

Take the time to really enjoy the food you're eating. Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between food enjoyment and nutrient absorption. Participants from Thailand were fed two dishes with the same amount of iron. One  is an authentic Thai dish while the other is Swedish. The individuals who consumed Thai cooking absorbed twice as much iron (Cool Mannutrition article). This implies that eating isn't merely a chemical process. Emotional, psychological and sociocultural factors also play a big part in feeding our bodies.

This falls under the self-care resolution category. It's important to eat the dishes that you enjoy the most. Eating healthy doesn't have to entail eating unsavory dishes like plain chopped vegetables. Look for enticing recipes that stimulate the palate. Be aware of food textures and consistencies that are more pleasing to you. It also helps to have less distractions while eating. It's much harder to truly savor a meal when you're busily discussing a serious topic with a friend. Put away all distractions like social media or live streaming apps and really take the time to fully absorb and enjoy what you eat.

DO SOMETHING CHILDLIKE

Allow yourself the freedom to be a kid again. Whether it's treating yourself to a cup of pudding or watching cartoons. Yes, it's perfectly fine to watch Winnie the Pooh as an adult. If you feel strange doing this alone, do it while babysitting. It's important to allow that youthful version of ourselves to come out every once in a while. This is important because we are the most genuine version of ourselves as children. Connecting with childhood memories and our little-er selves, allows us to better understand what we want, who we are, and where we need to go. As adults we've been trained to put on hundreds of facades and walls to protect ourselves. At times, the only way to break down these walls is to lure out that fearless little kid who doesn't care what anyone else thinks. It's an exercise to help release the preconditioned behaviors imposed on us, allowing for a more in-depth introspection. For parents, this could help you better understand your kids. Those who are single may find a sense of freedom and seld-assurance lost through time.


LAUGH MORE

Laughter truly is the best medicine. Your emotional disposition has a huge impact on your body's ability to recover from stress and disease (Mayo clinic article). There are so many ways to inject a little giggle here an there. You can stop by a comedy club or simply put on a Netflix comedy special. I highly recommend Ellen's Relatable. If you're in Japan you could join the yearly laughing festival. The Japanese people believe that laughing has spiritual powers. Laughter can indeed change the energy of a space. A room filled with laughter feels like home. Surround yourself with positive and uplifting people. Another effective and less tedious way to inject joy into your life is to find people who are generous, funny and nurturing. Regardless of what your current state of affairs may be, a little levity may be just what you need to brighten a dreary outlook.

MAKE YOUR BED

Making your bed first thing in the morning is an activity that benefits the mind and body. This practice gives you a sense of control and relieves anxiety. Tidying allows you to start the day right by being extra productive. Plus, it's one less thing you have to tidy after a long exhausting day at work. It also gives your muscles as chance to warm up and stretch out. The bigger the bed, the better. If you sleep with a partner, this is a great practice to enforce teamwork and coordination as a couple. This seemingly simplistic task also benefits your room energetically. Think of it as a poor man's Feng Shui.

These resolutions may seem trivial at first but the more you practice them, the stronger the impact you'll feel as the months go by. I believe in easy to follow resolutions that can yield the most benefits. Don't overcomplicate your list with elaborate tasks and responsibilities. The idea is to improve your quality of life and not to overburden yourself with too much work and unreasonable expectations.

Photos by: Tim FosterJustin Young & Pablo Merchán Montes

HABITS TO ACQUIRE FOR AN ABUNDANT 2019

1.01.2019


Is your bank account looking sparse after countless holiday shopping trips? Food platters and gifts leave quite a dent on a budget after all the confetti has settled. If you feel like you've fallen a few steps behind on your quest to build wealth, fret not. Once you've conditioned yourself into practicing these habits, you'll be back on the path to an abundant 2019.

We expend so much energy on reprimanding actions frowned upon by money gurus. Instead of focusing on the negative, why not channel our efforts towards reinforcing productive habits? This alternative approach alleviates anxieties over past mistakes. We're less likely to stress if we focus all our thoughts and efforts on things we can change. This forward looking method has better chances for success because it gives us a sense of control and restores the willpower back in our hands.

TAKE A MOMENT TO PAUSE BEFORE MAKING A PURCHASE

Shopping becomes a compulsion in times of distress. Whether we're reeling from a breakup or are simply having a bad day at work, emotional turmoil is what drives us to compulsively shop. We thirst for immediate gratification only an empowering transaction can provide. This momentary high counteracts the grief stricken state we are currently embroiled in. That's why we call it "retail therapy."

The best way to combat this is with time. Some enforce a 24-hour rule, others implement a 30-minute interval before swiping a credit card or clicking on the "place order" button. It may take a few minutes or a few days. Eventually, the urge to buy dissipates as rational thinking is reinstated. Think about approaching money the same way you do with food. Before ordering a slice of cheesecake at the end of a meal, allow your stomach to catch up and digest. You'll find that you may not want that extra slice. That momentary gap saves you from unnecessary expenses along with a large dose of buyer's remorse.

CHECK YOUR ACCOUNTS REGULARLY

Consistently monitoring your monthly statement and account balance keeps you aware of spending limits. Knowing how much money you have enables you to make better money decisions. It's important to know whether spending on a vacation or splurging on a pair of designer shoes is within you means. Start by initiating this checkup on a monthly basis. The more often you do it, the better.

Besides bank accounts, your credit report also plays a part in determining your buying power. Once a year, check your free yearly credit report through Annualcreditreport.com. Inquire if your bank offers free access to your FICO score. This is another way to tract your financial health.

This habit is also a means of protecting yourself from identity theft and fraud. It enables you to catch suspicious transactions in a timely manner. If you take too long to file a report or claim, the bank may deny you coverage for lost funds. Initially, this process may feel tedious and difficult to stomach if your finances are not in order. Once you get your net worth up to more respectable levels, you'll find this ritual motivating. As your balance makes its way up, your confidence builds.

TRACK BARGAINS WHEN PURCHASING NECESSITIES

If you make it a habit to know when sales events happen, you save big on routine purchases. This significantly boosts your yearly savings. One additional tip is to pay attention to when gas prices drop. Find out when these dips occur by checking the news or through an app on your smartphone. Grocery stores have cyclical as well as sporadic sales. Ask to receive notifications by signing up with their mailing list. Awareness pays you back tenfold when it comes to buying items which are fixtures on your shopping list. Toiletries and food are nonnegotiable. Purchasing them on sale substantially reduces their blow on your budget. This opens up possibilities to save for other short-term or long term goals.

CONDITION YOURSELF TO SAVE 

This habit applies to a number of different behaviors. Saving leftovers at a restaurant is a familiar money saving tactic. Applying this mentality to the rest of your lifestyle radically increases your net worth in the long run. Cutting down excess usage on everything you buy, including toiletries and other household supplies, decreases monthly expenses. It also reduces the number of trips you have to make to the store.

Being conscious of how much you consume and how much you set aside yields a myriad of benefits. This principle also comes into play when maintaining your health. Curb unhealthy eating habits by cultivating a saving mindset.  Swap expensive junk food for cheaper produce. Reducing overall consumption keeps your body trim and your pockets full. The healthier you are, the less likely you might incur medical expenses later on. These habits employ small changes that have immense long term effects in multiple aspects of your life.

Instead of using up your entire paycheck, consider putting aside extra money into a separate savings account. If you need a stronger motivator, try switching to cash. Tucking away money in a drawer gives you a sense of how quickly it compounds. Having a tangible representation of your assets brings awareness to how much you are giving up when you make unnecessary purchases. This mental conditioning aids in successfully establishing a frugal mindset. Setting aside money reaps immeasurable benefits later on.

KEEP YOUR SPACE ORGANIZED AND CLEAN

Maintaining the space where you live and work has a direct correlation with your ability to function efficiently and think clearly. Knowing where everything is saves you time and energy when trying to get work done. Maintaining a clean and comfy haven allows for a more restful sleep in the evenings. Creating a system that suits you prevents mishaps like forgetting to file your taxes or getting audited by the IRS. Start with a simple to-do list. Over time, the habit sticks and you'll find creative ways to adjust your behavior to optimize performance in any task you're entangled in.


LEAVE ROOM FOR ASPIRATION AND DAYDREAMS EACH DAY THAT PASSES

Foresight is the key to never losing your way. Knowing where you wish to be and who you aspire to become keeps you on the path to a fruitful life. If you're a visual person, tack on pictures and cutouts of things you're drawn to. If you're a wordy person like me, journaling is vital in painting a vivid picture of your future. Hone in on successful influencers and public figures that you admire. Pining for a particular lifestyle may seem like pointless daydreaming at first. In time, these aspirations become stepping stones towards achievable goals. You need to first pinpoint a destination before getting somewhere. Harness those dreams as a source of inspiration, not expectation. Think of the future as a fluid entity, vacillating between different possibilities. As long as you stay passionate in all your endeavors, you'll be on a path of abundance free from regret.

Habits are tiny building blocks for manifesting a desired outcome. Productive behaviors counteract perceived limitations and greatly improve quality of life.

Photo by: Shannon Litt & Elsa Noblet
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