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How to Live a More Balanced Life

Are you striving to find better balance in your life for the new year? Try these five tips from USU Extension associate professor and relationship expert Naomi Brower.





Cultivating Self-Compassion in the New Year

Self Compassion Graphic

How many of us start the new year with the mindset that there’s something wrong with us that needs changing? Try shifting your approach to goal setting, and make changes from a self-compassion standpoint rather than from a critical one.


As the New Year comes around, many of us start thinking of changes we want to make in our lives such as improving our health and wellness, becoming more organized or productive, improving our finances, or changing some other aspect of our life. And, we often set goals to attempt to make changes in these areas. How many of us start with the mindset that there’s something wrong with us that needs to be changed? We have thoughts like, “Why can’t I make it to the gym in the morning for a workout?” or “If only I were more organized, I could grocery shop ahead of time and prepare more food for my family.”

We sometimes think that if we make ourselves feel bad enough about something, it will force us to make changes. However, according to self-compassion researchers such as Dr. Kristin Neff of the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion, making changes from a self-compassionate standpoint rather than from a critical standpoint that focuses on what we are doing wrong, may be more effective and lead to greater well-being (Neff & Germer, 2017).

What is self-compassion?

According to Dr. Neff, if we see someone else going through a hard time or a setback, we are often quick to offer compassion and empathy; however, we are much less likely to offer that same understanding to ourselves when we don’t measure up to our own standards (Neff & Germer, 2017). According to Neff’s research, there are several main components to self-compassion:

  1. showing kindness and understanding toward ourselves;
  2. recognizing that no one is perfect and everyone occasionally makes mistakes; and
  3. using awareness or “mindfulness” to observe our experiences non-judgmentally and learning from them (Neff & Germer, 2017).

How does self-compassion relate to motivation and achieving goals?

Okay, so we all make mistakes. If we are aren’t perfect, then why try to improve? Doesn’t this mindset contribute to complacency? Actually, Dr. Neff maintains that if we are loving and accepting toward ourselves, we are more likely to genuinely want to improve ourselves in many areas of our lives, including health and wellness. We may also be more likely to make changes that involve risks because we are less afraid of failure (Neff & Germer, 2017).

Self-compassion, health, and wellness: What does the research say?

In addition to Dr. Neff’s work, a study on self-compassion and health found that people who are self-compassionate are more likely to engage in health-promoting behaviors, including eating more nutritious foods, being more physically active, getting sufficient sleep, and handling stress appropriately (Sirois, Kitner, & Hirsch, 2014). A study also found that among women who exercise, those with higher levels of self-compassion were more likely to exercise based on self-motivation rather than based on external pressure, and they were less likely to exhibit body dissatisfaction (Magnus, Kowalski, & McHugh, 2010). Researchers suggest that people with greater self-compassion may be more successful at maintaining desired behaviors because they may be less likely to give up when they encounter an obstacle; instead they learn from it and move forward (Sirois, Kitner, & Hirsch, 2014).


This article was written by Brittany Bingeman, Extension Assistant Professor FCS, Washington County

References:

  1.     Magnus, C.M.R., Kowalski, K.C., & McHugh, T.L.F. (2010). The role of self-compassion in women’s self-determined motives to exercise and exercise-related outcomes. Self and Identity, 9, 363-382. http://doi.org/10.1080/15298860903135073
  2.     2. Neff, K., & Germer, C. (2017). Self-compassion and psychological wellbeing. In J. Doty (Ed.) Oxford Handbook of Compassion Science (chapter 27). Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://self-compassion.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Neff.Germer.2017.pdf.
  3.     Sirois, F.M., Kitner, R., & Hirsch, J.K. (2015). Self-compassion, affect, and health-promoting behavior. Health Psychology, 34(6), 661-669. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/hea0000158.

                                                

 




A New Year, a New You: Strategies to Simplify Your Life in the Kitchen

simplify your kitchen.jpgHave you made the goal to simplify your life in the new year? Try these strategies to simplify your life in the kitchen.


Organize

Keep shelf-stable items and utensils that you frequently use visible in the kitchen. Move spices you use often to the front of the cabinet and invest in a tiered tower or spice rack so everything is visible at once. Store dry goods such as flour, sugar, grains, and beans in airtight glass jars or plastic containers on the counter or on a visible row of the pantry. Store cooking utensils in a holder on the counter or in a drawer next to the stove (Bittman, 2014).

Stock Up

Having basic pantry, refrigerator, and freezer staples on hand can make it much easier to throw together a quick dinner. If the thought of purchasing all of the items at once seems overwhelming, add a few items to your list each week and in a couple of months, you will be set. Here is a basic list to get you started (Bittman, 2014):

  • Extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, and/or vegetable oil
  • Vinegars – balsamic, red wine or sherry, and/or white wine
  • Dried herbs and spices – salt, black pepper, chili powder, curry powder, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, sage, rosemary, tarragon, dill, basil, and thyme
  • Dried grains – brown rice, quinoa, whole-wheat couscous, dried whole-wheat pasta
  • Dried and/or canned beans – garbanzo, black, kidney, navy, and/or cannellini
  • Canned tomato products – tomato paste, canned tomatoes (diced, crushed, whole)
  • Nut butters*
  • Brown sugar, honey, maple syrup
  • Flours – whole-wheat white flour, white flour, cornmeal
  • Baking soda, baking powder
  • Nuts and seeds* (walnuts, almonds, etc.)
  • Chicken and/or vegetable stock or bullion

*refrigerate to preserve quality

In addition, stock up on frozen vegetables – corn, mixed vegetables, peas, spinach, edamame – and fruit when items are on sale.

Plan Ahead

Planning several days or a week of meals at once may seem like an overwhelming task, but once you get into the routine, you will likely find it saves a great deal of time. There will be less trips to the grocery store and less time spent thinking about what’s for dinner.

Tips to get started:

  • Ask your family for favorite meal ideas.
  • Start small. Select one or two recipes you know how to make and add one or two new recipes per week.
  • Need help choosing recipes? Think about your weekly schedule. Are there going to be late nights at work or sports games to attend? If so, you may want to plan a slow cooker meal or a meal you can remake from leftovers for this busy night. Look at what is on sale at your local grocery store and consider what produce is in season, which means it will likely be less expensive.
  • Gather your recipes for the week and create a grocery list. First, check to see which items you already have at home. Include the other ingredients on a list. Organize your list according to the sections of the grocery store: produce, dairy, meat/seafood, dry goods/spices, and the freezer section.
  • Make notes about which recipes your family likes and dislikes. After a month or so, you’ll have a substantial list you can use to create a rotating meal schedule and you can add in new recipes if you choose to.
  • Visit Choosemyplate.gov for more grocery shopping and meal planning tips.

Cook Once, Eat Twice

  • Grains: Double a batch of grains, such a rice. Immediately separate, cool, and refrigerate the extra portion. Use the leftovers the next night in a stir-fry or casserole.
  • Meat/Protein: Roast extra chicken, pork, or beef. Use it the next night in a soup, tacos, or green salad.
  • Beans: Cook extra beans and use the leftovers for bean burritos or taco bowls.
  • Roasted vegetables: Roast extra vegetables and use the leftovers for a pureed soup or hearty vegetable stew. Or try roasted vegetable tacos or a roasted vegetable grain bowl topped with nuts, seeds, or crumbled cheese.

Remember to follow food safety rules for leftovers. 

  • Cool and refrigerate food in shallow containers promptly (within 2 hours of cooking).
  • Cold food should be stored at 40 F or lower.
  • Discard refrigerated leftovers after 3-4 days.
  • Remember to label and date frozen items. Store frozen items in containers such as gallon freezer bags or freezer grade plastic or glass containers and ensure that your freezer remains at 0 F or less.
  • Thaw frozen items in the refrigerator or microwave. Never thaw food on the kitchen counter or at room temperature.
  • Remember to reheat all leftovers to 165 F throughout.
  • Visit Foodsafety.gov for recommended freezer and refrigerator storage times or the National Center for Home Preservation’s Guide to Freezing Prepared Foods for more information on freezing leftovers. Additional information from the USDA on food safety and leftovers can be found here.

This article was written by Brittany Bingeman, Extension Assistant Professor FCS, Washington County

References:

  1. Bittman, M. (2014). How to cook everything fast. New York: Double B Publishing, Inc.
  2. Kitchen Timesavers. (2017). In Choosemyplate.gov. Retrieved from https://www.choosemyplate.gov/budget-time-savers.
  3. Leftovers and Food Safety. (2013). In United States Department of Agriculture

Food Safety and Inspection Service. Retrieved from https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/leftovers-and-food-safety/ct_index.

 




A New Look at Health and Wellness Goals for the New Year

health and wellness.jpgIt isn’t too late to set goals for the new year. Try these tips to help you have more success with your goals this year.


Each January, many of us sit down with the best intentions of making changes in the New Year. Many of us want to create habits to improve our health and wellness. However, as January ends, often so does our motivation despite our best efforts. I, like many of you, am left wondering why.

How can we set goals that are more attainable? According to a review by Mann and Ridder (2013), goal setting is a process that includes setting an appropriate goal and determining a process to work toward the goal. Here is a summary of their findings on what makes goal setting more successful.

Why set goals?

Goal setting is the process of determining what we want to accomplish and how we will know when we have accomplished it. Having a vision or overall picture of what we want to accomplish provides motivation for achieving something that we find important.

 

How do I set an attainable goal?

  1. Simplify health goals. Nutrition advice seems to be ever changing. Believe me, this can frustrate even nutrition professionals. However, setting goals to improve our health and wellness does not have to mean a complete overhaul of our eating or conforming to a certain eating plan. Most of us have a general sense of what types of foods are nutritious for us and that moving our body is healthy. Small, simple changes over time can really add up. Adding a fruit or vegetable to a meal, choosing a fruit instead of another type of dessert, taking the stairs to our office on the third floor, or taking a walk on our lunch break can make a difference in the long run. Or, setting a goal to listen to our body’s hunger and fullness signals to determine what and how much it needs may lead to naturally eating less.
  2. Make it positive! Focus on adding something rather than taking it away. Eating is a way to nourish our body to provide it with the fuel and the nutrients it needs to keep our body healthy and functioning at its best. It may feel more nourishing and supportive of wellness to think about adding a fruit to lunch or a fresh, green salad to dinner, rather than thinking about cutting out foods we enjoy.
  3. Determine the difficulty level that works for you. Recommendations for goal setting often include making them Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely (S.M.A.R.T.) goals. One of the key elements is setting realistic goals that you believe you will actually be able to achieve based on resources, time constraints, etc. However, others suggest going all out when goal setting, creating a goal that is more of an ideal vision of your life, no matter how unrealistic it may seem. Then, the goal can be broken down into smaller, manageable steps that are more realistic and attainable.
  4. Focus on the process, not the result. Focusing solely on the end result can leave us disappointed if we encounter a setback or fall short of what we hope to accomplish. For example, if our goal is to cook dinner five nights per week and we eat out four times in one week, we can see ourselves as failing to meet our goal and get discouraged. However, if we focus on the process of meal planning and expanding our cooking skills, we would instead recognize the skills we’ve learned, identify the barriers that got in the way of cooking, and plan to address those barriers. Focusing on the process allows us to use challenges as a way to gather information to learn from, rather than seeing ourselves as failing.
  5. Get more bang for your buck. Researchers note that people were more successful accomplishing goals that addressed more than one area of importance in their lives. For example, if your goal is to be more physically active, but you also value spending time with your husband or wife, you could plan an evening walk with your spouse that addresses both priorities.

 

What’s the process to work toward my goals?

  1. Create a plan and commit ahead of time. Once your goal has been created, it can be helpful to make a plan to implement each component of it and to handle any unexpected hang-ups or stressors. It takes effort and mental energy to implement a new routine. It’s natural to want to take the familiar route – go straight home after work and skip the gym or to pick up fast food on the way home rather than cooking. The stressors of life can use up the mental energy we need to make the more difficult choice of sticking with a change rather than going with the automatic, familiar choice that uses less energy. Therefore, the more we can plan ahead of time – pack our gym bag the night before or grocery shop and pre-chop vegetables over the weekend – the less brain power is needed to make the decision in the moment after a long day of work when our energy is low.
  2. Automate it.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we set a goal and all of sudden we just do it without thinking about it? Well, as nice as that sounds, actually, as we engage in new behaviors repeatedly, we begin to associate certain cues with the behavior, which can help us accomplish our goals. For example, we might start to associate our morning car ride with drinking water. As we get into our car, we think about grabbing a bottle of water. As we do this more often, we become more efficient at working toward our goal and we don’t have to put as much thought into it.

This article was written by Brittany Bingeman, Extension Assistant Professor FCS, Washington County

Reference:

Mann, T., de Ridder, D., Fujita, K. (2013). Self-regulation of health behavior: Social approaches to goal setting and goal striving. Health Psychology, 32(5), 487-498. http://doi.org/10.1037/a0028533

 




Finding Motivation for Healthy Habits

healthy-habitsAre you working on healthy habits for the new year? We’ve got some tips on how to find the motivation you need to establish those healthy habits and meet your goals.


What Motivates You?

There are basically two types of motivation:  extrinsic and intrinsic.

Extrinsic motivation refers to behavior that is driven by external rewards such as money, fame, grades and praise. This type of motivation arises from outside the individual, as opposed to intrinsic motivation, which originates inside the individual.

Extrinsic examples: working to receive a bonus, gaining a reward for an accomplishment, receiving recognition, changing habits based on how you think others may see your body or losing weight to fit into new clothes or look good for a beach vacation.

Intrinsic motivation is defined as performing an action or behavior because you enjoy the activity itself. Whereas acting on extrinsic motivation is done for the sake of some external outcome, the inspiration for acting on intrinsic motivation can be found in the action itself.

Intrinsic examples: losing weight because your body feels better, working because you enjoy making a difference, reading a book because you are curious about the subject, etc.

Intrinsic motivation is much stronger than extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation can empower individuals to reach their goals and can help sustain an active lifestyle.

The Power of Habit

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,

Your thoughts become your words,

Your words become your actions,

Your actions become your HABITS,

Your habits become your values,

Your values become your destiny.”

-Mahatma Ghandi

Habit, combined with internal/intrinsic motivation, is where an active lifestyle begins. Before a new habit of physical activity can be born, individuals must believe that being active is good for them, then they must think about the benefits and build their intrinsic motivation. Next, individuals can vocalize their thoughts and establish goals and guiding principles for their actions.

Then comes action. Until action occurs, the belief is only a wish. Motivation comes from looking at the things you want and realizing what it takes to get them.

Strategies for Success

Here are some strategies to help you stay motivated and improve your wellness:

  1. Get support. Tell your family and friends you are trying to make changes, and ask them to encourage and support you. Invite them to participate in your healthy activities.
  2. Celebrate your successes. Recognize the changes you have already made and be proud of the person you are becoming.
  3. Focus on the benefits. Make a list of the possible positive outcomes and review the benefits of living an active lifestyle.
  4. Expect setbacks. Understand that there are times when you will falter, and this is normal.  Don’t expect perfection. Forgive yourself and move forward.
  5. Be patient. Remember that change is hard and it takes time to form healthy habits.
  6. Have fun! Do something you love. Add variety to your workout and your diet.
  7. Search for inspiration. Notice others who have made changes and be inspired by their hard work and dedication. Realize that you can do it too!
  8. Plan and prepare healthy meals and snacks ahead of time. Keep tempting foods out of the house/office.
  9. Schedule a workout time. Have a set time to exercise.
  10. Look for healthy options when eating out. Choose a meal that is nutritious with low calories.
  11. Eat small meals/snacks every 2-3 hours to keep you from getting hungry and to maintain blood sugar levels.
  12. Exchange processed foods for whole foods. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store.
  13. Change your thinking. Think like an athlete.
  14. Always have your workout gear ready.
  15. Enjoy your favorite foods in moderation.
  16. Log/track your food and exercise.

And when you feel like quitting, think about why you started!


This article was written by Cindy Nelson, Utah State University Extension assistant professor




Ritualize to Revitalize in the New Year

ritualizeHave you ever thought of your daily routines as rituals? Learn more about ritualizing to achieve your goals for the new year.


January brings the season of fresh starts – our calendars start again, we set new goals, we reflect on the past and look ahead to the future. In many ways, we put a lot of pressure and expectation into the January’s of our life – pressure to create change and improve ourselves and our surroundings, pressure to somehow put off all our imperfections once and for all and become new, improved versions of ourselves.  By February.

Just like how the cold, harsh realities of winter often hit in January we, too, may experience harsh realities when we try and change our behaviors and put so much pressure on January.  What if we didn’t? What if we were able to streamline our goals, dreams and desires into a plan that didn’t create the cold turkey abruptness that 12:01 a.m. on January 1st represents in our lives? One tip that may just revitalize your 2017 is to consider the power of ritualizing in your life.

First, what is a ritual?  One historical context we have for rituals is religious ceremonies where certain words or actions are performed in designated locations, in particular orders, or within a set of specific guidelines.  One might expect the result of religious rituals to be things like deep connection or personal enrichment; you might think it’s the religious component of a “religious ritual” that makes us experience those feelings.  One stream of thought is that it’s actually the ritual and not necessarily the religion.

According to Borten, P. & B. (2016) “Ritual brings order, specialness, context and focus to our lives. The opening and closing, or the initiation and conclusion of a ritual aligns our intentions with our actions, and it sets the stage for the action to be as effective as possible.  Ritual grounds us in the present; it rescues us from dwelling on the past and worrying about the future.”  In this context, rituals don’t have to be connected to religion at all; the principle of order or repetition can be applied across many elements of our lives.

Another word you might relate to this concept is “routine” – you might have a “morning routine” or a “bedtime routine” where you do the same things in the same order every time. Think for a moment about what that process offers to you – predictability, stability or a sense of grounding.  Why do we have morning or bedtime routines in our families?  Do you find that it helps things run more smoothly if you’re able to find more enjoyment in your personal interactions and are less on edge or anxious?  In what other areas of your life would you like to have those feelings?

Creating a new ritual or fine tuning an already existing routine in your life will take focused effort – just like those New Year’s resolutions you have made in the past.  Consider the bigger picture of what you want to accomplish.  Maybe your goals are related to improved health or losing weight.  Break your dream or goal down into manageable steps including when you’ll implement those steps, and be intentional about carrying out the process.  By recognizing that your immediate action is related to a bigger intention or goal, you’ll find more motivation and satisfaction in completing the task.  Let’s face it, putting on the exercise clothes every day might feel like a drag until you start putting them on with the intentionality of how that process is connected to something so much bigger.

Remember, every day is the start of a new year!


This article was written by Rebecca Mills, Extension assistant professor in family consumer sciences and 4-H youth development

Borten, P. & B. (2016) Rituals for Living Dreambook & Planner. Available at: http://www.thedragontree.com

 




How to Stop Overeating Using Mindfulness

overeating
Is healthy eating one of your resolutions for the new year? Try these tips to curb overeating by being more mindful.


Often a new year brings resolutions to get healthy, eat better and lose weight. As most of us know, this is much easier said than done. It becomes more difficult when we have issues with challenging work schedules, numerous child care responsibilities and that office candy bowl that is so tempting.  Mindless eating can sabotage our resolve, so what can we do about it?

“Most of us don’t overeat because we’re hungry,” said Brian Wansink, Ph.D., author of the best-selling book Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think and the John Dyson Professor of Consumer Behavior at Cornell University. “We overeat because of family and friends, packages and plates, names and numbers, labels and lights, colors and candles, shapes and smells, distractions and distances, cupboards and containers.”

He attributes rising overweight and obesity rates in America to the availability of food, the affordability of food and the attractiveness of food.  The solution, however, is not to make food less available, affordable or attractive, he says. “The solution is to change your personal environment,” Wansink said.

Mindless eating is defined as deliberately paying attention, being fully aware of what is happening both inside and outside yourself – in your body, heart and mind – and outside yourself, in your environment.

Wansink made the following suggestions for changing our thought process and our environment to improve our resolution success and create better long-term eating patterns:

  1. Smaller plates. Using a 9.5 inch plate vs. 12 inch plate means smaller portions and feeling fuller after eating an entire plate of food. Studies have shown food consumption is 22 percent lower when eating from a smaller plate.
  2. Smaller serving utensils. “Mini-sizing” utensils can reduce the amount of food consumed.
  3. Out of sight, out of mind. Leaving serving bowls and entrees away from the dinner table can prevent second and third servings.
  4. Easy access. Making healthy foods more accessible in cabinets, cupboards and even the refrigerator encourages healthy choices.                                                                                                        
  5. Control portions. Wansink found that people eat much more food when given unlimited quantities. He advises people to eat smaller portion sizes in smaller packages.
  6. Eat when you’re hungry. Let actual hunger cues, not emotions, guide your eating. Substitute a quick walk for a snack until actual hunger sets in. But don’t wait until you’re famished and binge on unhealthy foods.
  7. Plan. Prepare healthy snacks ahead of time to eat throughout the day. A 200-calorie, whole grain, high-fiber snack can satisfy hunger between meals. Fiber keeps you feeling full longer.
  8. Keep a food diary. Write down everything you eat and what was happening at the time to identify food triggers – hunger, stress, excitement or boredom. Be careful not to obsess over every calorie. The new American Heart Association diet and lifestyle guidelines acknowledge that overall eating patterns, not occasional indulgences, are what are most important to maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle.
  9. Slow down. Here’s where mindfulness can really come into play. During each meal, chew slowly, savoring each bite; put your fork down between bites; and stop eating to take a drink of water (not a sugary soda). This gives the body enough time to signal to the brain that it’s satisfied, not stuffed.
  10. Pay attention. Don’t eat in front of the TV or computer, while standing at the kitchen counter or talking on the phone. This can lead to losing track of how much you’ve consumed.
  11. Use technology. “We can actually use our smartphones and other electronic devices to help us,” said Riska Platt, M.S., a registered dietitian and certified nutritionist for the Cardiac Rehabilitation Center at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York and a volunteer with the American Heart Association. “There are now apps that manage food records, count calories, help you track what you eat and even provide guidance on healthy food choices at the grocery store and restaurants.”

This article was written by Cindy Nelson, Utah State University Extension assistant professor

Source: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Using-Mindfulness-to-Stop-Overeating_UCM_462515_Article.jsp#.Vwu-unqPlzY




Resolutions for the New Year

new-years-2017
Let these tips spark some ideas for New Year’s resolutions.


New Year, New You

Have you made your resolutions for the new year? Here are some tips and ideas to help you succeed in your 2-17 resolutions.

1. Make sure your goals are SMART:

If you plan to set goals, make sure they are SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and have a time frame. Add as many intermediate action steps to your goal plan as possible. A written goal with these elements puts your brain to work faster than if you merely have the thoughts in your mind. A few minutes each day taking action on your goals can put you farther ahead in attaining them as opposed to spending hours periodically. There are many goal setting resources on the internet to help you with the goal setting, planning and completion process.

2. Make your goals visual:

Create a vision board with pictures and words of your goals. Put a frame around, which can be as simple as painter’s tape, to give your brain parameters on which to focus. Spending a few minutes a day concentrating intently on the images and words, 2-3 minutes in the morning and at night can be very effective. As you attain your goals, put your completed goals in a binder with the date you accomplished them. This will give you momentum to complete your goals faster. Again, there are many resources on the internet on vision boards, but one I like is 3KeyElements.com.

3. Check your credit report:

Even more important than knowing your credit score, which is often provided for free by credit card companies, is knowing that your credit history is secure and accurate. Incorrect information and fraudulent activity can affect your credit standing greatly. Annualcreditreport.com is the official site to get your free annual credit report for the three credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. If you stagger pulling your report throughout the year it will help keep a monitor on your credit. Consider getting your report in January, one at tax time and one in the fall.

4. Make some positive health changes:

You can find useful tips and tools for healthy activity and food choices on ChooseMyPlate.gov. Consider shopping more on the perimeter of the grocery store where you can find healthier choices such as fruit and vegetable produce and dairy and meats. Choose lean dairy and meats. Choose more whole grain products. Making your changes gradually is more effective than trying to do too much and giving up.

5. Monitor your activity level:

Get a good device to track your activity level. If you are tracking steps, 7,500 – 10,000 is considered active, with 10,000 being the better goal of the range. Start where you are and add steps gradually till you reach your goal. Smart phones often have activity tracking options and there are many apps to help with tracking your activity and food intake. Be sure to check with a doctor before beginning an exercise program.

6. Strengthen your family relationships:

Eating dinner together is a great way to increase family togetherness. The benefits of eating together are better communication, better nutrition and better well-being. Eating dinner around the table has greater benefits than watching TV while eating.

7. Make a plan:

If you have a business or plan to start a business, make sure you have a plan and the know how to run a successful business. Be sure you have thought everything through before starting a business. Many small businesses end within the first two years after owners have put extensive amounts of time and resources into them. There are many business planning tools available through SBA.gov and SBDC.gov. Watch for the Garfield County Business Conference in March, which is open to everyone to attend.

8. Use your USU Extension office as a resource:

Check with your Utah State University Extension county office for classes, resources and information on these and other topics. Or check the state USU Extension website extension.usu.edu for additional information, fact sheets and articles.


This article was written by SuzAnne Jorgensen, Extension Agent, Garfield County




Sustainable New Year’s Resolutions

Sustainable Resolutions.jpg

Have you started thinking about resolutions for the new year? Consider working these sustainable resolutions onto your list, and go green for the new year.


Challenge yourself to try simple lifestyle changes each month of the new year. Each aspect of sustainable living presented is not only good for the environment, but good for your health and wallet as well. Whether you dust off your bike, explore vermicomposting or simply update your light bulbs, each small change you make can have lasting impacts.

January: Lose paper weight this year. Go paperless with your bills and unsubscribe from junk mail through Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service at www.dmachoice.org.

February: Be a cool Valentine. Save on your heating bill and turn your thermostat down while your house is empty during the day. See if you can sleep better with the thermostat down a few degrees at night as well.

March: Start your (natural) spring cleaning. Make your own cleaning products to minimize toxin exposure, save money and be healthy. For tips and recipes, visit www.uaex.edu/Other_Areas/publications/PDF/MP492.pdf.

April: Let rain showers water your flowers. Build garden swales instead of mounds to capture natural water flow. Find pictures, explanations and books on how to do it at http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/.

May: Be bright with LED and natural light. Switch the light bulbs in your home to more efficient LED lights and use natural light to brighten your home/office.

June: Avoid June bugs with natural pest control. Create your own garlic and dish detergent mixture for aphids, or experiment with other natural pest control recipes to improve your landscape and your family’s health. Visit http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in197 for tips on natural pest control.

July: Beat the heat with a native or drought tolerant garden. Plant drought and heat tolerant native edibles and ornamentals this year to add natural Utah beauty to your landscape.

August: Be thrift chic. Prepare your “new” work or school wardrobe with a visit to your local thrift store. While there, drop off clothes you no longer wear to keep the cycle going. Learn more about how to give clothes a second chance.

September: Head back to school/work with alternative transportation. Opt to bike, walk or ride the bus for your daily commute.

October: Happy Halloworms! Start your own household vermicompost system with red wigglers, a container, bedding, dirt, moisture and your daily food scraps. See Extension’s vermicomposting fact sheet.

November: Give thanks through local giving. Sign up for a community-supported agriculture program, and buy your Thanksgiving meal from local sources to reduce your family’s food print (the carbon footprint associated with how your food was produced and the miles your food has traveled between production and consumption).

December: Give more while consuming less. Reuse newspaper and other paper scraps to make homemade upcycled (converting used materials into new items) gifts for your friends and family. Opt to draw names with family and friends to reduce the quantity and increase the quality of gifts. Host creative craft nights with friends and catch up while repurposing products that are typically thrown away. See Extension’s “Reuse” fact sheet.

For general information on sustainability, visit www.extension.usu.edu/sustainability.


This article was written by Roslynn Brain, USU Extension sustainable communities specialist, republished from 2014.

 




Keep 2016 Looking Bright

Looking Bright Blog
Keep up with those 2016 goals!


New Year, New You

Have you made your resolutions for 2016? If not, here are some amazing ideas to get the ball rolling. If you have, check this list and make sure that your goals are on-track!

Make sure your goals are SMART:

If you plan to set goals, make sure they are SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and has a Time frame. Add as many intermediate action steps to your goal plan as possible. A written goal with these elements puts your brain to work faster than if you merely have the thoughts in your mind. A few minutes each day taking action on your goals can put you farther ahead in attaining them as opposed to spending hours periodically. There are many goal setting resources on the internet to help you with the goal setting, planning and completion process.

Make your goals VISUAL:

Create a vision board with pictures and words of your goals. Put a frame around, which can be as simple as painter’s tape, to give your brain parameters on which to focus. Spending a few minutes a day concentrating intently on the images and words, 2-3 minutes in the morning and at night can be very effective. As you attain your goals, put your completed goals in a binder with the date you accomplished them. This will give you momentum to complete your goals faster. Again, there are many resources on the internet on vision boards, but one I like is 3KeyElements.com.

Check your CREDIT REPORT:

Even more important than knowing your credit score, which is often provided for free by credit card companies, is knowing that your credit history is secure and accurate. Incorrect information and fraudulent activity can affect your credit standing greatly. Annualcreditreport.com is the official site to get your free annual credit report for the three credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. If you stagger pulling your report throughout the year it will help keep a monitor on your credit. Consider getting your report in January, one at tax time and one in the fall.

Make some positive HEALTH changes:

You can find useful tips and tools for healthy activity and food choices on ChooseMyPlate.gov. Consider shopping more on the perimeter of the grocery store where you can find healthier choices such as fruit and vegetable produce and dairy and meats. Choose lean dairy and meats. Choose more whole grain products. Making your changes gradually is more effective than trying to do too much and giving up.

Monitor your ACTIVITY level:

Get a good device to track your activity level. If you are tracking steps, 7,500 – 10,000 is considered active, with 10,000 being the better goal of the range. Start where you are and add steps gradually till you reach your goal. Smart phones often have activity tracking options and there are many apps to help with tracking your activity and food intake. Be sure to check with a doctor before beginning an exercise program.

Strengthen your family RELATIONSHIPS:

Eating dinner together is a great way to increase family togetherness. The benefits of eating together are better communication, better nutrition and better well-being. Eating dinner around the table has greater benefits than watching TV while eating.

Make a PLAN:

If you have a business or plan to start a business, make sure you have a plan and the know how to run a successful business. Be sure you have thought everything through before starting a business. Many small businesses end within the first two years after having put a lot of time and resources into it. There are many business planning tools available through SBA.gov and SBDC.gov. Watch for the Garfield County Business Conference in March, which is open to everyone to attend.

Use the USU Extension Office as a RESOURCE:

Check your local County Utah State University Extension Offices for classes, resources and information on these and other topics. Or check the state USU Extension website extension.usu.edu for additional information, fact sheets and articles.


This article was written by SuzAnne Jorgensen, Extension Agent, Garfield County