Jan 29, 2014

Getting Back to Health & Fitness Basics

When it comes to weight loss and working out regularly, these have always been a struggle of mine. After college I weighed around 120 which of course I was very happy with, but after my ex boyfriend dumped me when I was 22 my weight went up and then back down when I meant BK. Over the years I stayed so happy with BK (you know what they say once you're content lol) that my weight went up again. I don't like to call myself a yo-yo dieter but I have to say maintaining a consistent healthy weight has always been a challenge of mine. Don't get me wrong, I haven't ever gained 50 pounds, but even gaining 30 pounds can be a lot on a smaller frame like mine. Last year I lost 17 pounds, but unfortunately due to the holidays I gained 5 of those back. At this point I would like to get back on track both with eating healthy and working out regularly but the question is how? Here are some ideas to get me going (and hopefully you too if you're having the same struggles):

Stop Making Excuses

I am the queen of excuses. Are you? Lately with having a new puppy I have had an even harder time getting myself to the gym. They never tell you having a puppy is like being a new mom in some ways! Right now Candy is too small to leave alone since she is only 4 months (well I can but she disturbs my neighbors with her cries poor thing) and doggy daycare costs can add up. So instead I've opted for lots of walks with her and Pilates at my apartment. However, this is nothing like the high intensity work outs I used to do. As Candy gets older I hope I can figure out a way to get my regular fitness schedule back. Oh how I miss it but I wouldn't trade my puppy for the world! ;) Until then my goal is to go to one high intensity workout class a week and incorporate lots of walks and Pilates at home.

It's Okay to Use Supplements

Yes, you read that correctly. I am not against the dreaded word "diet pills" or supplements, that is if they are used carefully and sparingly. I've used them and they have worked for me. Sometimes they give me a nice push when I am struggling to lose that one stubborn pound that could get me motivated again, so I've tried a few that work effectively. I would not suggest using supplements that make you lose all of the nutrition you are eating. The idea is to have a nice push without harming your body. I would also like to try TRIMSPA diet supplements.

Make a Plan

I think another problem of mine is that I don't always write down a plan in my planner before the week begins. I need to write down my meals and also make a workout plan! I am always more apt to workout and follow through on a plan if it is staring me in the face. Aren't you the same way? I also could schedule it on my planner and that way a reminder would pop on my iPhone regularly. I think I will do this pronto!

So if you need that extra push to lose that stubborn weight or work out more regularly like me stop making excuses! Friends and family can motivate you, you can start easy by walking regularly (like I am doing), and you can also try TRIMSPA diet pills and other healthy supplements if you need the extra push. Let me know how you progress with your new plan and I'll do the same!


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Jan 18, 2014

5 Ways Scrapping Your Smart Phone Could Save You Money

Smart phones offer a lot of conveniences and entertainment options. Access to the internet, apps, and a GPS are all alluring amenities. But have you stopped to consider how much all of these “advantages” are costing you? Here are five ways you could save money by NOT having a smart phone. 
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The Data Plan

The first and most obvious money-saving advantage to chucking your smart phone is dropping those ridiculous data plan fees. Most people pay $30-$40 a month for their data plan.

In addition, because smart phones are so expensive, many people add an insurance package to their monthly payment. Most phone insurance costs fall between $7 and $15 a month. That means that without a smart phone you could save between $444 and $660 a year!

Apps

Without a smart phone, you won’t be tempted to buy all of those $0.99 apps. Paying less than a dollar for something that looks like it will revolutionize your life certainly seems like a bargain, but the cost of those apps adds up. 

Many so-called “money saving apps” (i.e. Groupon, Cartwheel, Shopkick), are really just getting you to spend more money by making you to think more about shopping. Without a smart phone, you would have no idea that Groupon was offering a special on teeth whitening at your local Edmonton dentist or that swimwear at your nearest sports store was 50% off. Getting deals is great, but the common temptation is to snag these deals just because they seem like a bargain, even though you may not need teeth whitening and you hate swimming.

The Internet

Much of the internet is visually driven. Almost every article and blog post is accompanied by attractive pictures, and most of the sites you visit have advertisements. Those who are constantly surfing the internet on their phones and have this slew of commercialism perpetually in front of them tend to spend more than those who don’t. 

One accomplice to consumerism is Facebook. Looking at everyone’s smiling profile pictures and statuses about the trips they’re taking and the homes they’re buying gives the false impression that everyone else’s lives are going better than yours. This can lead to the urge to “keep up with the Joneses” or to impulse buying in order to fill a perceived lack in your life. Spending more time with people in person and less time looking at them on Facebook will change your perspective and result in less spending. 

Learning

Spending less time looking at your phone forces you to find other ways to entertain yourself during those 10 minutes in the waiting room or that hour on the train. Long before people even thought of smart phones, this down time was filled with reading or even crafts like knitting or whittling. Without Pinterest constantly at your fingertips, you might be more likely to break out that book you’ve been meaning to read or learn a new skill. Not only will these activities enrich your life, you could even find ways to make a few dollars from the knowledge you gain or the scarves you knit.

Another skill you could improve without a smart phone is photography. If you’re like me, you stopped using your real camera once you got a phone that had a comparable one. Without apps like Instagram making you look like a professional photographer, you may want to find your old camera and learn to use it better. You may even discover a talent for photography that you can use to make a few dollars on the side.

Health Costs

The number of cellphone-related injuries that occur each year is on the rise. It may sound ridiculous, but the University of Pennsylvania hospital and others report regular visits from cellphone users who didn’t realize they were stepping off a curb or walking in front of a car. Without the distraction of apps and the internet on your phone, you might save yourself from being more focused on your cellular device than your surroundings. 

Studies are also showing a possible link between cellphone use and health risks like lowered sperm count and tumors. The World Health Organization declared cellphones potentially carcinogenic in 2011. With these frightening risks, you may want to spend as little time on your phone as possible.

There’s really nothing that a smart phone offers that you can’t get from a computer (and maybe a GPS for your car). Fortunately, all four of the major cellphone carriers in the US still offer non-smart phone options. After looking into alternative plans, you might decide that having a smart phone isn’t really the smartest option for you. 

Edson Senna is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about finance, law, and business. He also enjoys learning health and dental tips from companies like Saddleback Dental Centre. In his spare time Edson enjoys running, biking, and reading.


Jan 1, 2014

Tips to Save Money on a Winter Wedding

June remains a perennial favorite among brides-to-be, and the fall months continue to gain steam. However, popular months bring higher prices, reduced availability and less flexibility from vendors, causing many budget-minded couples to choose winter weddings instead. Because fewer couples get married in the winter, it’s possible to score fantastic deals and negotiate prices to stay within your budget.
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Expect the Unexpected: Plan for the Elements

Depending on the part of the country you live in, the winter months may be cool, mild or may bring freezing temperatures and bone-chilling wind. Consider unpredictable weather the rule, rather than the exception. If you live in a colder climate, ask your reception site how frequently they plow the snow, whether they have backup generators in case the power goes out in a storm and how warmly they heat the building. Ask about ventilation to ensure that your venue remains comfortably warm without becoming stuffy.
Warn guests about the expected weather conditions, mentioning that they may need winter coats or sturdy shoes. If you’re planning to offer wedding favors, pashminas or umbrellas are chic options that serve double duty as practical accessories if the weather turns sour.

Negotiate With Vendors

In most areas of the country, getting married in December or January is significantly less expensive than a summer wedding. After inquiring about a vendor’s basic pricing structure, ask about discounts due to seasonality. It’s important not to undercut a person’s prices or undervalue their skills and labor, but many vendors offer a bit of wiggle room in the wedding low season. If a vendor can’t come down on price, ask if they could add something extra to a standard package. Perhaps your photographer is willing to arrive an hour early or the florist will make an extra bouquet for you to toss.

Use the Holiday Season to Score Great Deals

Black Friday and Cyber Monday aren’t just for holiday shopping; they’re also great opportunities to save big on wedding goods. For example, craft stores like Michael’s offer dramatic Black Friday savings that allow you to stock up on ribbons, faux greenery and candles for centerpieces. Similarly, if you’re providing your own table linens to save money over renting, Macy’s Black Friday deals can save you hundreds of dollars. Just click here to browse Macy's deals on jewelry, beauty items and more for your wedding.

Know Your Options for Photography

In the middle of winter, you won’t get those beautiful summery photos with barefoot bridesmaids walking on the beach. Keep in mind the weather when considering your photography options. Scout out an attractive indoor location to take some wedding photos. For example, local art museums, historic buildings and conservatories make photogenic backdrops for your pictures. If you have your heart set on an outdoor location, choose wisely. Find a place that's easy to drive to and doesn’t require much walking from the vehicle. Find coordinating coats or scarves to keep your wedding party warm and produce some memorable photos.

Serve Hot Beverages

Get creative with winter drink options to delight your guests while saving some money. In the chillier months, guests are more likely to drink coffee, hot chocolate or eggnog than alcoholic drinks. For an adult twist, offer coffee spiked with Bailey’s, hot chocolate with a splash of whiskey or eggnog cocktails to create classy hot winter drinks.

Beverly Farrell
Beverly is a party planner for weddings and events. She started her own business in a cabin in the woods.