Want better health? You may have to get off your lazy ass. The good news is that you might not have to get off it for very long.

I hate exercise.

I literally have to trick myself into it by being active in ways I don’t associate with exercise.

Unfortunately, it’s not always effective. I can’t make it to the pool each day. I don’t always make time for a bike ride. Getting to the mountains for a hike isn’t always feasible.

In a world where the research says, “Get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity,” it can feel like a serious endeavor to live healthy.

Generally, in order to make it work, the experts recommend spreading the workouts over a period of days. Exercise every day (or at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week), and you reap the benefits.

But what if you could stave off early death and a host of problems by exercising only two days a week?

Nice!

Thanks to science, you might be off the hook. At least for some of the time.

Health benefits from exercising one or two days a week

What if you don’t want to try to exercise each day?

Sure, you can break it up into 10 minutes sessions each day to feel better about the whole thing. But what if you don’t even want to do that?

But what if you don’t even want to do that?

According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), it’s possible to get solid health benefits from cramming it all in on the weekend.

Here’s what one of the study’s authors, Associate Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis, said about the results:

It is very encouraging news that being physically active on just one or two occasions per week is associated with a lower risk of death, even among people who do some activity but don’t quite meet recommended exercise levels.

That’s right. Even if you don’t get up to that 150 minutes of moderate (or 75 minutes of vigorous) exercise, even just going for it one or two days a week can help reduce some of the health risks that come with a sedentary lifestyle.

Adopt the weekend warrior exercise lifestyle.

This takes the concept of minimum exercise to the next level. And it also makes it easier to follow the “trick yourself” method of exercise.

Think about it: I don’t have to try to exercise every day. If I just take half a Saturday, my son and I can ride bikes to the Greenbelt and then go for an exploratory walk. It’s perfect. That’s a nice combo of vigorous and moderate exercise.

And it does the job.

As a bonus, I get to enjoy quality time parenting my child and making good memories.

This is really easy during months when the weather is is pretty good. Yardwork. Picnics in the park. Hiking. Biking. Family basketball games in the driveway. Tennis. A day playing in the municipal pool.

It’s harder for me during winter because I’m not into skiing and snowshoeing. But a Sunday afternoon sledding with my son and his friends or a couple hours building a snow fort does the trick.

Hell, when my cousins come over to play Rock Band, I can get a couple hours of “moderate” activity just by jumping around like an idiot in the family room, pretending I can actually sing.

If you have a free Saturday or Sunday each week (or one other day during the week), you can engage in the minimum exercise you need to not die too early in one fell swoop.

Get some benefits with even more minimum exercise.

Is the prospect of giving up half a weekend day to exercise just as horrifying as exercising 30 minutes a day?

There are indications that the absolute minimum exercise you can do is a 10-minute walk each day. This is especially true if your life is mostly sedentary.

Going for a walk can be a good way to boost your cardiovascular health. If you can manage 10 minutes a day, it’s an upgrade. You won’t see the same results of doing 30 minutes a day (or powering through the weekend), but you can still see positive results that reduce the chance of dying horribly and dying early.

Plus, a side bonus of going for a 10-minute walk each day is that it can help you feel instantly better about life.

Just finding 10 minutes in your day to go for a walk can mean better emotional and mental health, as well as better physical health.

Don’t forget about your eating habits.

Of course, just doing the absolute minimum exercise alone isn’t going to save you from heart disease, diabetes, and any number of ailments.

If you’re serious about your health, you might also need to address your eating habits.

When you don’t up your exercise, you need to change what goes in, if you want to avoid some of the worst of the debilitating illnesses related to your daily habits.

That might mean switching to healthier foods, eating less crap, and generally paying attention to these things. When you make that move, you are more likely to get away with doing as little exercise as possible.

At one point, I managed to lose five pounds just be eating better. No extra exercise needed. Score!

Healthier habits = better quality of life.

In general, better health habits mean a better quality of life. Despite my hatred of exercise for the sake of exercise, I know that physical activity will help me feel better in the long run.

When I make sure to exercise every day (even if it’s only a 10-minute walk or a few minutes of yoga in the morning), limit the junk I eat, and get enough sleep, I feel better.

I make better decisions. I feel more energetic. I’m less grumpy with my son (and other people in my life). I get more done.

So, even if you only do the minimum exercise, make the effort to change things up with your other habits.

Baby steps toward a healthier overall lifestyle can have positive consequences, even if you never become a health nut.

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Dieting rarely works. In fact, chronic dieting can lead to bigger weight gain. Here’s how to alter your lifestyle to be healthier and happier.

So, you went on another diet. And that diet failed you.

Dieting is no fun and it gets less fun the older we get. The older we get, the smarter we need to be about dieting.

When I was in high school, I didn’t have to diet. When I was in college, eliminating cheese from my diet for a week got me back into shape. Today, that’s not nearly enough.

It’s even worse when you diet and gained weight anyway. How does that happen?

Cursed cortisol.

If you’re on a diet, you’re likely on a cardio routine. That means long bike rides, long walks, long runs, long times in a humid, body-sweat-infused exercise room with dozens of your weight loss peers.

This routine may have worked when we were kids, but during our adulting years, these same exercises increase our stress levels more than they used to do. Stress produces increased levels of cortisol in our bodies, which converts blood sugar into fat.

Ugh! Doesn’t cortisol know fat is the enemy of diets?

This is a bitch for us, but it helped our cavemen ancestors. Our cave brothers and sisters had to run long stretches because something was chasing them.

Today’s solution is to do aerobic exercise in moderation, preferably at lower heart-rate levels incorporated with anaerobic exercise.

If you diet and gained weight, it’s time to re-think your routine.

Stressful stress.

This same hypocritical hormone, cortisol, hypo-produces and goes into hypo-overdrive when we’re stressed about any and everything. Whether it’s work-stress, family-stress, relationship-stress, emotional stress, or stress-stress, we incur the same wrath from cortisol as when we run 10 miles to Ben & Jerry’s.

Anything that you do to reduce your stress levels will reduce the hypo-production of cortisol. Leave bad situations. Meditate. Adopt healthy exercises to relieve stress. Get yourself in nature.

A great way to knock all these out at once is to go for a hike in the woods, by the ocean, or in a park. Being in nature has been shown to reduce stress levels and acts as an active meditation.

Suspect sleep.

On the flip-side, lack of sleep produces extra serotonin. When we’re stressed or tired for any reason, we usually want to feel comfortable.

What’s the easiest and most satisfying way to feel comfortable? Eating comfort food!

The reason you want that breakfast donut, a plate of spaghetti, and dessert cake is because high-fat and high-carb food produce serotonin that makes us tired.

This should cause us to sleep more, except that white, processed sugars make it hard to fall asleep and lose pounds.

If you diet and gained weight anyway, take a look at your sleep schedule.

Processed poisons.

Natural sugars in whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables, include vitamins, minerals, protein, phytochemicals, and fiber, which are all good for you.

Processed sugars don’t have those benefits and provide no value other than gaining weight and keeping us awake.

The same goes for processed flour and, therefore, we should do our best to avoid both. 

The things we eat matter more than we think. Reduce the processed foods you eat, and turn more toward produce and whole grains. You’ll see better results, even without all the calorie counting.

Low-down, low-fat.

For most dieters, avoiding fat is as important as avoiding carbs. The problem is that fats, proteins, and high-fiber carbohydrates produce satiety hormones, such as corticotrophin and cholecystokinin, which make us feel full.

We eat more than we need to when we don’t feel full when we should. Therefore, include some fats in your diet. Healthy fats include nuts, olive oil, avocados, fatty fish and, yes, even dark chocolate – in moderation.

Pay attention to what kinds of things you’re eating. Not all calories are created equal. Just cutting calories might not be enough, especially if you diet and gained weight in the end.

Horrible hunger.

Likewise, when we feel too hungry too often, our bodies go into protection mode and store what food we do eat as fat. This helped our caveman brothers and sisters when food was scarce during the long, cold winter. Most of us today don’t suffer from a scarcity of food.

Our bodies love it if we eat six smaller meals a day rather than three meals a day. It’s especially important to eat breakfast, rather than starving all day and binge eating at night.

Binge weight watching.

Fits and starts of eating also cause us to binge eat. Because our brains think we’re starving, we’ll dive right into the first bowl or bag of food we see only to eat more than we should. It takes about 20 minutes for those satiety hormones mentioned above to reach our brains and tell us to slow you down or stop eating. Unfortunately for many, this is too little too late.

Again, eat six smaller meals throughout the day and you’ll be golden.

Feeling hungry doesn’t help anyone. If you diet and gained weight, even though you’re hungry all the time, your problem might be the hunger.

Magnificent muscle.

It’s possible that because you’re dieting and doing moderate levels of aerobic exercises that you’re also doing appropriate amounts of anaerobic exercises, like lifting weights, yoga, and pilates.

Muscle weighs more than fat, and bodies that weigh the same look better when their weight is more muscle than fat. So, gain more muscle and don’t worry about having too much. For most of us, that would be hard to do.

Try focusing on inches, rather than weight. If you are losing inches, but still gain weight, it might be muscle.

These are eight reasons WTF you may be gaining weight when you’re dieting. Some are good and some are bad. Now that you know what to look out for, manage your diet and exercise to never be sad.

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Sweet tooth out of control? It’s time to show your teeth who’s boss. Try these tips for getting over your sugar cravings.

Research shows eating too much sugar leads to heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases.

Sugar has overtaken fat and carbs as the ingredient to avoid in food. Most of us know drinking a Diet Coke and eating a box of Chips Ahoy isn’t good for us, but we still do it.

Why?

Because sugar is addicting. Some scientists say it works like cocaine and other drugs, targeting the dopamine-releasing centers in your brain. Sugar makes you feel good in the moment and bad in the long-term.

What can you do if you’re trying to improve your health and cut back on that sweet stuff? Read below for our best tips on battling your sweet tooth:

Wait 15 minutes.

When that craving hits your brain, suddenly all you can think about is feeding your addiction. It can be an all-consuming feeling, but the key to breaking out of your addiction is to avoid giving in.

Tell yourself that you’ll have to wait at least 15 minutes before you satisfy your sweet tooth. During that break, your brain will have time to think about how you promised to get better and how crappy you’d feel if you relented. Many people find that after 15 minutes have passed, they don’t even remember the intense craving they had.

Keep a food journal.

When you feel like heading to the snack machine or your closest convenience store, take a second and stop.

Instead of giving in to your urges, keep a notebook with you to write down how you feel when those cravings arrive. Remind yourself why you decided to cut back on sugar and what your goals are.

When we have a craving, we’re determined to fulfill a short-term need. It’s like scratching a mosquito bite. It feels better in the moment, but afterward you just want to keep scratching.

A food journal can help you remember why you’re saying no to your sweet tooth and keep your long-term goal in mind. 

Avoid buying it.

Creating a new habit requires a lot of willpower that’s often in short supply. Instead of counting on yourself to always make the right decision, you have to start making it easier for yourself. Case in point: avoid buying sugary items.

If you buy a packet of Oreos, then every time you want to have some, you’ll be forcing your brain to make a difficult decision. A box of Oreos represents at least a few times you’ll have to decide between breaking your diet and staying on track.

The best way to avoid that scenario? Don’t buy the Oreos in the first place. Not buying the Oreos in the first place helps you avoid being forced to make a decision about them later. 

Reach for fruit.

Research says that there’s little difference between the sugar found in fruit and junk food. However, fruit usually contains essential fiber that will slow down how fast your body processes the sugar.

Instead of eating a Little Debbie snack, grab some fresh strawberries or cut up a banana. It’s a lot harder to binge on fruit than it is on Hostess snacks. Satisfy your sweet tooth with something healthier.

Combine it with protein.

You don’t have to give up sugar entirely to stay within your diet. But one way to decrease the effect more sugar can have is to pair a sweet treat with protein. If you want a piece of chocolate, have some almonds or walnuts with it. Pair a cookie with a glass of whole milk, which has more protein and Vitamin D than skim or 2%.

Protein will fill you up more and prevent you from eating five brownie bites. Peanut butter and almond butter are also good additions to some chocolate chips or ice cream. Your sweet tooth gets a little love, but isn’t taking over.

Avoid peer pressure.

The people around you will likely notice if you’re trying to change your eating. Some might criticize you and say things like, “One cookie isn’t going to kill you.”

It’s easy to give into peer pressure, especially if you feel uncomfortable or are in a workplace setting. But those people aren’t looking out for your best interests; they’re just trying to feel better about their own choices. When they see someone who’s making better decisions, they get insecure and want to tear that person down.

Instead, find someone you know who has a similar goal. You can help each other stay on track and vent when your cubicle neighbor is harassing you about eating their homemade brownies.

Eat mindfully.

When we eat something we crave, we likely hoover it down. Instead, try eating as slowly as possible and concentrating on what you’re ingesting. Eating mindfully has been shown to reduce overeating because it helps you appreciate the food you have.

This piece of advice might seem a little “woo woo,” but it can help you realize you only need one candy bar, not five.

Plus, the slower you eat, the more time your stomach has to truly signal that you are getting full.

In the end, we really are what we eat. So try not to eat so much crap.

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Every year you have to wade through health insurance plans. It’s such a PITA. We’ve got your guide to figuring it out.

The best way to support Adulting.tv is to subscribe and leave us an honest review. Thank you!

Choosing health insurance is a huge PITA. You know it. We know it. Everyone knows it.

Unfortunately, it has to be done.

In this episode, we talk about the realities of the health care system, and we discuss what you need to know when navigating your choices. It’s never pretty, but you can make the best of the situation.

Concepts

  • An overview of the health care and insurance system.
  • Reasons that choosing health coverage is so difficult.
  • What you need to know about costs and health care coverage.
  • The ACA and your health care choices.
  • Tips for figuring out what coverage you need.
  • Strategies for evaluating your health insurance options.
  • Understanding health insurance alphabet soup: HMO, HSA, PPO, EPO.
  • When a high-deductible plan might make sense (and when to avoid it).
  • Ideas for reducing health care costs.

Pay attention to our “do nows” so that you can start mapping out your next steps for getting the right health insurance, including understanding how provider networks work. Our listener question deals with your options for affordable health insurance.

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Resources

Difficulties of choosing health insurance
Hosted byHarlan Landes and Miranda Marquit
Produced byadulting.tv
Edited and mixed bySteve Stewart
Music bybensound.com

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What’s your excuse for not investing in yourself? We all have one. Here’s what you need to know about ditching the excuses and living your life.

If you made it to work Monday morning, congratulations!

You survived life and work for another week. Why does this warrant a celebration?

The leading cause of death in the U.S. is heart disease. The most common time of the week for heart attacks is Monday morning between 4 am and 10 am. Researchers say, “an ‘outpouring’ of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, occurs within working people on Monday” mornings.

Americans hate their jobs and are dying not to go!

Monday morning blues and Sunday funday.

A Monday doesn’t go by without a friend of mine posting on Facebook a meme or video expressing their dread of yet another work week. A Friday doesn’t go by without a steady stream of posts celebrating the weekend’s arrival.

A recent study showed that nearly 70 percent of Americans hate their jobs. They’re “not engaged” (17.5%) or are “actively disengaged” (51%). Even before they’ve paid off their student loans, people are over their jobs and checked out.

Most Americans suffer the five stages of grief on a weekly basis. Sunday funday is fun only because it’s the only day of the week many of us enjoy.

Is this you?

The value of investing in yourself.

On average, adults between the ages of 35 and 49 watch 33 hours of television a week, yet 81% of Americans want to write a book.

If you’ve lost passion for your life and work, how will you get that passion back and become the person you’re meant to be? From experience, I can tell you that you must invest in yourself in order to get off the couch and live your dreams.

For about two years, not long ago, I was miserable at my job. My working conditions were horrible and I lost my passion. My life felt like the instructions on a shampoo bottle: Wake. Work. Sleep. Repeat.

I wanted to write a book. By this time, I had a book mostly written. It fell on my list of importance when life became hard and routine and I grew apathetic. I soon realized that either my situation couldn’t continue or I couldn’t.

It was then that I started to make little investments in myself. I started doing 30 minutes of cardio a day. Rather than listen to music while I did my cardio, I listened to motivational speakers.

These little investments were contagious. A half an hour on the treadmill evolved into long weekend runs. Listening to motivational speakers on YouTube turned into listening to motivational and educational podcasts, reading “how to” eBooks, meditating and journaling. I said and did different things and got different results.

Einstein would arguably be proud.

I soon found the courage to quit my soul-sucking job and align with my purpose. I published my book and three more since then. That first book birthed a new career for me and my life has never been better.

This is the value of investing in yourself.

Rescue yourself by growing yourself.

When a plane prepares for take-off, the airline attendant on the plane’s sound systems says, “If there’s a drop in pressure, oxygen masks will fall from the ceiling. Put on your mask before assisting others.” This goes against every mother’s instincts, but a mother can’t rescue her children if she needs rescuing herself.

How are you rescuing yourself?

Whether you want to advance in your current career, start a new career, simply be a better person, or be more helpful, how are you rescuing yourself from “the routine,” “the daily grind,” and “the 9-to-5?”

Are you reading books at nights and on weekends? Are you listening to podcasts when you’re driving to and from work? Are you learning new skills through your current employer or elsewhere? Are you taking webinars at nights and on weekends? Are you eating healthy and exercising?

These are investments in yourself. Many of us make the mistake in thinking that the growing stops upon graduation from school, but graduation is only the beginning of growing. We have many, many more years of learning ahead of us. It’s our responsibility to continue to grow, improve and contribute.

Yet we make up excuses why want can’t do better or be better. We build artificial walls in our minds that rationalize the routine of the 9-to-5 grind. We tell ourselves that we’re not smart enough, educated enough, good looking enough, young enough, old enough, healthy enough, or important enough. My favorite, and the ultimate excuse free with time.

My favorite, and the ultimate excuse, is that you don’t have enough free time.

The dilemma is that someone with similar circumstances as you found and is living their passion. If they can do it, so can you!

Learn the lesson or repeat it.

Your current state is your teacher. Tony Robbins says that “life doesn’t happen to us, it happens for us.” If your current state is depression, stress, or unhappiness, there’s a lesson for you to learn.

When I was first inspired to write my book, that was the whisper. I ignored the whisper and then the inside voice. I ignored the talk and the call. Not until my yelled at me did I heed the call.

If you don’t learn your lesson now, you’ll repeat it until you do. As my experience shows, the only way to get value from the lesson is by investing in yourself.

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Do you really need another drink? No. No you do not.

One cannot deny that a good spirit uplifts the spirit. As the saying goes, “alcohol doesn’t solve problems, but neither does milk.”

Sometimes a good drink feels good or makes the good great.

It takes the balancing skills of a cocktail server to enjoy just a few drinks, though.

One’s never enough. Two or three are perfect.

After two drinks or three drinks, though, your smartest brain cells go full-Kanye. By morning, you’re bound to have done or said something you regret.

Another saying goes, “Hindsight is 20/20.” As I have lots of hindsight, let me show you the way as we determine how many drinks is too many.

You’ve had enough to drink when you think texting your ex is a good idea.

Even if you can text an intelligible sentence, there’s likely nothing you will text an ex with the loose tongue of the turnt and burnt that will improve relations with your former relation.

You’ve had enough to drink when you forget what year it is and you think calling your ex is a good idea.

The only person who ever benefited from calling an ex is Adele.

You are not Adele.

Alas, none of us can be Adele. It’s a harsh reality we all must deal with – that and that contacting an ex is rarely a good idea.

You’ve had enough to drink when you think “calling out” your friend is a good idea.

How many drinks is enough? Well, what are you about to say to your friend?

An alcohol-inspired war between friends is never fun unless you’re Canada and Denmark.

It’s never a good idea to have a few drinks and then “get real” with your BFF. If this emotion builds inside you after kicking back a few, there are clearly issues to address. The further away from your last drink, the better you address those issues.

You’ve had enough to drink when it takes you three days to recover.

While your tolerance to alcohol may not change as you age, your tolerance for drinking does. Sorry, friends, a fatty liver can only withstand so much.

As you age, hangovers hang longer and longer, making it harder and harder to adult. If you notice a pattern of nighttime partying thwarting daytime adulting, you need to ask yourself how many drinks you should really be having — and maybe cut back.

You’ve had enough to drink when going to Denny’s sounds “awesome.”

If you’ve had enough drinks to think that going to Denny’s belongs on the ongoing list of 1,000 awesome things, you’ve had enough.

Unless you’re going to a Chinese restaurant, if you start heading toward a restaurant with pictures on the menu, start heading home.

You’ve had enough to drink when Taco Bell sounds like a healthy alternative to Denny’s.

Pictures on a menu notwithstanding, if you think a 7-Layer Burrito sounds like a healthy alternative to a Denny’s Triple Stack, you’ve had enough.

If you’re that hungry, go home, eat whole wheat bread with honey, down two aspirin and a pint of water and go to bed.

You’ve had enough to drink when you think a 2 a.m. visit to the ATM is a good idea.

As Chris Rock so wisely opined, “There’s never a good reason to be at an ATM at two in the morning!”

No matter how good your conceived plan that justifies an early morning ATM-stop, you’ve had too much.

Keep driving until you get home. Do not pass go and do not collect $200.

You’ve had enough to drink when you need a “kick stand.”

How many drinks is too many? When you start approaching it from the other end. Do you need a “pick-me-up” to put yourself down? Like adding letters to math, one problem doesn’t make the other easier.

You’ve had enough to drink when you’re the last one standing.

Being the last one standing is often a reasonable goal. Such is victory in war or soccer or family dinners. When you’re the last one at the bar or party and you’re still slinging a few back, you’ve had enough.

You’ve had enough to drink when you start reenacting scenes from Jackass.

Drinking causes the loss of cognitive reasoning. When it seems reasonable to perform stupid human tricks, it’s reasonable to think that you’ve had enough to drink.

You’ve had enough to drink when the street looks like a comfortable place to lie down.

It’s a law of physics that the more you drink the lower your center of gravity. If your center of gravity gets so low that it’s physically impossible to not lie on the ground, bar booth, or your Uber driver’s back seat, you’ve had too much to drink.

You’ve had enough to drink when you steal random street signs or event decorations.

If, in the morning, you wake and there’s a street sign waiting for a spot on your wall, or if there’s a life-size Samuel Adams sitting in your living room, you had too much to drink last night. It’s time to re-evaluate your life choices — and how many drinks is enough.

You’ve had enough to drink when your dance moves include moves you typically wouldn’t even do with the most intimate partner.

If you think you’re reinterpreting Dirty Dancing or twerking with strangers, you’ve had too much to drink. If going to bed isn’t an option, at least go sit in the corner, baby.

You’ve had enough to drink when you become richer the more you drink.

Everyone likes to be the life of the party and the easiest way to become the life of the party is to pay for the party. If you catch yourself increasingly saying, “This round’s on me!” you’ve had too much to drink.

You’ve had enough to drink when Amazon makes deliveries you don’t remember ordering.

Late night shopping with a bottle of wine and Amazon Prime is fun. And it beats watching reruns of The Gilmore Girls.

But if you start receiving packages you didn’t order and it’s not Christmas, put a breathalyzer on your computer.

You’ve had enough to drink when as a “non-smoker” you smoke.

Do you “only smoke when drinking?” Put the bottoms down when the fags come out.

What do you think? What’s a sure-fire sign that you’ve had too much to drink?

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Leave your worries behind and start meditating. It’s like a vacation for your mind.

Are you struggling with stress? Do you wish you had time to slow down and relax?

A few years ago, I was in the same boat: overwhelmed, worried, concerned that I didn’t have enough time to just sit.

That’s when I started meditating.

You don’t need a lot of time to start meditating; you don’t even need to do it every day. Begin a meditation practice, and you might be surprised at the benefits.

Here’s why you should start meditating.

Meditation seems like it’s some feel-good fluff. And there are some “masters” and “gurus” out there that peddle plenty of feel-good fluff as part of their meditation programs.

I’m not into all that. I like meditation because it comes with real benefits for your body and mind.

First of all, you can lower your stress levels, which in turn impacts other areas of your life, particularly your heart. Studies indicate that meditation might help lower your blood pressure and reduce your likelihood of stroke and heart attack.

Your emotional and mental health can be positively impacted as well. Meditation can calm you, allowing you to deal with unexpected events in a more positive manner — and improve your mood, which helps you in your interactions with your partner, friends, and children.

Meditation can even change your brain structure in beneficial ways. It might even help stave off the impacts of aging on the brain. Enhanced cognition and attention can help you boost your productivity and improve your ability to focus on your goals.

A few weeks ago, I got out of the practice of meditating. I felt too busy. One day skipped turned into another day skipped. I didn’t even realize I was skipping until Harlan brought up my stress levels, associated with my recent illness. “Are you meditating?”

After honestly considering his question, I discovered that I needed to start meditating again. So I picked up my practice. Here’s how I got back into it — and how you can start your own meditation practice:

Start with short periods of time.

Slow Down. Breathe. Start Meditating.

When we think of meditation, we picture someone sitting cross-legged for hours at a time, humming. That’s not practical. No one is going to just carve out an hour of the day out of nowhere.

Instead, start meditating for much shorter periods of time. I like a five-minute meditation for anytime I feel like I’m flagging during the day. There’s nothing wrong with meditating for five minutes each day. You could even break it out into three five-minute sessions. Other people I know start the day with a five-minute meditation and then re-focus throughout the day with a one- or two-minute meditation every couple of hours.

If you want to increase the amount of meditating you do each day, do so gradually.

I like to start the day with a moving meditation while I run through the yoga poses that make up the sun salutation. I usually set aside 20 minutes for meditation partway through the day, and then I use a guided meditation to help me fall asleep at night.

Figure out what works for you, and stick with that. The important thing is to get started — no matter how much time you spend meditating each day.

Use guided meditation to stay focused.

I get distracted by my thoughts all the time. So, even though I’ve been meditating for years, I still use guided meditations. You can find guided meditations for lengths of time ranging from five minutes to two or three hours.

I’ve tried all sorts of things: finger meditating, meditation balls, focusing on my breath, using mantras. None of it keeps me focused like a guided meditation. Don’t feel like you have to be able to sit there on your own and become one with the universe to be successful. Swallow your pride and make use of YouTube or a meditation app on your phone to find guided help.

Adopt any position you want.

My favorite position for meditation? Corpse.

Really, it’s just lying down. And I like it. When I’m meditating during the day, I lay on my back, palms facing up. At bedtime, I just lay on my side. It’s about comfort.

You can meditate sitting on a chair, standing up, or laying down. Figure out what’s most comfortable for you, and just go for it. There’s no one “right” way to meditate.

Figure out what's most comfortable for you, and just go for it. There's no one "right" way to meditate.Click To Tweet

Meditate while moving.

Slow Down. Breathe. Start Meditating.

Did you know you can meditate while moving? There are walking meditations. Sometimes I turn my lap swimming into a swimming meditation. I start my morning by meditating while doing yoga.

You can enter a mindful state while doing any number of activities, from coloring to playing music (both of which come with a bevy of benefits). Don’t assume you have to shut yourself away in a room for effective meditation.

Mindfulness is key.

Effective meditation is all about mindfulness. The idea is to connect to the present, and let thoughts and worries about the past or the future go. Whatever you need to do in order to achieve that state of mind is totally acceptable.

And, as with all things, it takes practice. It can be challenging at first, but as you begin to see the results of your meditation efforts, you’ll be hooked, and likely look for ways to take your practice to the next level.

Are you starting meditation? How do you make time? What are your best tips for effective meditation?

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