On the Go Fun and Easy Workout

by Malia Frey | Reviewed by Richard N. Fogoros, MD | You don’t have to kill yourself at the gym every day to slim down. There are easy exercises to lose weight that you can do at home or on the go. In fact, sometimes easy workouts work better (Photo by Nathan Cowley from Pexels).

Before you try CrossFit, join a hardcore boot camp class, or sign up for heavy duty HIIT program, find out how fast weight loss exercises can speed up weight loss and then incorporate one of these workout routines into your schedule.

To lose weight, you need to create a specific calorie deficit. For example, you might want to reach a 500-calorie deficit each day to lose one pound per week. Or you might set a goal to reach a 1000-calorie daily deficit to lose 2 pounds per week. Either way, you need to control the number of calories you eat and burn more calories with movement to reach your target.

Many dieters start an intense workout plan to slim down. But, sometimes it’s better to do easy exercises to lose weight fast. There are four ways that easy exercise can help you to slim down:

  • Improve daily non-exercise movement. Easy workouts are designed to increase your heart rate to burn calories, but they shouldn’t wear you down. So you don’t feel the need to take a nap or lay on the couch all day after doing a workout. This helps you to stay active throughout the day and boost the number of calories you burn from NEAT.
  • Exercise every day. When you do easy workouts, you can exercise every day. Hard exercise, on the other hand, requires a recovery day following the session. When you work out daily (instead of 2-3 days per week) you may be able to burn more calories from exercise.
  • Maintain a consistent exercise program. Even though intense exercise is effective for weight loss, hard workouts put your body at a higher risk for injury and burnout. And you’re not likely to burn enough calories for weight loss while you’re recovering on the couch. Easy workouts are usually safer for your body and may allow you to be more consistent, week to week and month to month.
  • Keep hunger levels steady. Hard workouts often increase hunger levels. And sometimes they even increase your sense of entitlement to food. For example, you might feel that you deserve a high-calorie meal or treat after hard exercise because you earned it with your effort. But easy workouts are less likely to leave you starving. The result is that you may eat less with an easy fitness program.

If you are healthy enough for vigorous activity, hard workouts are good for your body. High-intensity exercise helps to build muscle and burn fat. But easy workouts can speed up weight loss, too.

The Easy Workouts

There are two easy workout routines listed below. Choose a fitness plan based on your current level of fitness and health.

1. Easy Exercise Routine for Beginners

This plan works well for people who don’t exercise at all. The easy exercises will jolt your metabolism out of lazy mode and get it moving again. But to make this plan work, you need to keep your workouts short and manageable. That way, you never have an excuse to skip a session.

For this plan, you’ll exercise 1-3 times each day, but each workout won’t last long. You don’t need to change clothes, you probably won’t get too sweaty and you don’t need any extra equipment.

Easy beginner workout:

  • 7 minutes fast walk
  • 7 minutes of easy lunges and easy push ups
  • 7 minutes fast walk

You can do this workout at a local park, at your office, or in your home.Set reminders on your smartphone to remind yourself to complete your sessions. Or better yet, recruit a friend to hold you accountable.

Need more of a challenge? Swap brisk stair climbing for walking. If you are at work, climb the office stairs, do lunges on the landing and push-ups against the wall.

Why this easy fitness plan works: The duration of the workout makes it easier to tolerate and more likely that you’ll stick to the plan. And even though the workouts are short, you are still burning substantial calories in a short period of time. Done properly three times per day, you can burn up to 300 – 500 calories. If you do this easy workout around mealtime, you’ll probably also shorten the amount of time you spend eating which will help you to decrease the amount of food you want to consume.

2. Easy Exercise Routine for Regular Exercisers

This plan works for people who already exercise. The purpose of this plan is to bump your body out of its regular routine for faster weight loss. You’ll do this by adding more activity to your day, but you’ll keep the extra sessions easy so that your body and brain don’t get burned out.

Your easy workout will consist of adding 30-45 minutes of easy enjoyable activity at the opposite end of your day as your normal workout:

  • If you work out in the morning, add a brisk evening walk to your schedule.
  • If you exercise in the evening, consider biking or walking to work in the morning.

Why this easy fitness plan works: It’s common for people who exercise regularly to do the same routine week after week. If you do the same exercises at the same intensity all the time you’ll get the same results. Your body hits a plateau. This plan increases your activity level without added stress or strain to your joints. So you burn more calories without taxing your body.

Boost Your Easy Exercise Routine for Faster Weight Loss

Your new easy exercise routine will help you burn more calories. But you can lose weight faster by adding these challenges:

  • Skip dessert for a week. Grab a small serving of berries instead
  • Skip the drinks that cause weight gain and drink water instead. Not a fan of water? Learn to make flavored water to curb your cravings.
  • Dump starch. Instead of eating empty calorie white foods like bread, white rice or pasta, fill up on a variety of lean protein and good carbs.

Turn Fast Weight Loss into Long-Term Success

If you stick to your easy workout routine, you should see some change in the scale or in the way your clothes fit after a week or two. Then ask yourself this question: was it worth it?

If the answer is yes, then keep your easy fitness plan going. You may even want to make it more challenging by adding moderate exercise and high intensity sessions. Then start tracking your diet to make sure you eat the right amount of protein to lose weight and maintain muscle.

If the answer is no, don’t worry. Even an easy exercise plan requires a big commitment. You may not have been ready for the investment. But don’t give up entirely. Choose a few parts of the plan that seem manageable and try to incorporate them into your schedule. Your weight loss will happen more slowly, but at least it will happen.

Malia FreyMalia Frey is a certified weight management specialist, certified health coach, certified personal trainer, and certified fitness nutrition specialist. Malia has been helping people reach their fitness and weight loss goals for over 25 years. She has taught health, exercise, and wellness classes in colleges, universities, hospitals and fitness centers around the country. She is the weight loss expert at Verywell and provides expert diet and exercise advice to both print and online sources including About.com, Muscle & Fitness, Zliving, GetHealthyU, Examiner.com, Worldlifestyle.com, Diet.com, North Memorial Medical Center and many more.. Her passion for good health inspires her to stay active, eat well (most of the time) and encourage others to do the same. Connect with Malia on Facebook, Google, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter, or visit her website The Daily Diet Tip for more weight loss support and tips.



Going the Mediterranean Eating Style for 2019

By Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, Good Housekeeping Institute | What makes this “diet” so great is that it’s a lifestyle, not a traditional weight-loss plan that has you counting calories or measuring portions. It’s all about enjoying meals with friends and loved ones, savoring each flavor, indulging in delicious, quality items like flavorful cheeses and desserts, and making time for plenty of physical activity (ah, to be walking on the beaches of Greece right now!) (Image, Pixabay).

It’s the most popular time of the year to go on a diet. But in my book, better health and weight loss begin not with fad diets but with choices that, over time, become habits — supporting lifelong change through tangible, actionable strategies that you can adapt for any scenario. (Hint: You can start by setting boundaries.)

First, here are my basics for a healthy approach to better eating habits:

  • Pack on the produce: veggies and fruit
  • Prioritize good-for-you fats: plant-based oils and other unsaturated fats
  • Eat more seafood: fatty fish plus crustaceans and mollusks
  • Choose 100% whole grains: farro, buckwheat, bulgur, wheat, and oats
  • Enjoy conscious indulgences: chocolate, sweets, and baked goods in moderation
  • Think inclusive vs. exclusive: full-fat and low-fat dairy, prioritizing quality over quantity
  • Provide enrichment of multiple varieties: cooking with herbs and spices, enjoying favorite restaurants, and trying new flavors

What makes this “diet” so great is that it’s a lifestyle, not a traditional weight-loss plan that has you counting calories or measuring portions. It’s all about enjoying meals with friends and loved ones, savoring each flavor, indulging in delicious, quality items like flavorful cheeses and desserts, and making time for plenty of physical activity (ah, to be walking on the beaches of Greece right now!).

You’ll fill up on tons of veggies, fruit, 100% whole grains, pulses (like beans, chickpeas, peas, and lentils); choose lean protein like seafood, eggs, and some meat; and savor sweets and higher-in-saturated-fat choices (Prosciutto di Parma, anyone?!) in smaller amounts.

While there’s no “restriction” on this plan, the predominant foods in it promote both health and weight loss or management. The idea is to fill up on nutritious items in order to indulge, consciously. This approach naturally limits the amount of ultra-processed foods you’ll eat, which tend to have more sodium, saturated fat, and added sugar. Since the Mediterranean eating style prioritizes enjoyment of your whole dining experience, flavorful ingredients are at the forefront so you’ll never feel deprived.

The Bottom Line
The best diets promote inclusivity over exclusivity and rely heavily on produce. Highly restrictive diets depend on immediate weight loss to motivate you — but some may backfire entirely and others may leave you fully missing out on nutrients and experiences. Think about what works best for you before trying any new approach to eating, and use that as your framework for building healthier eating habits that stick.

For more ideas, tips, tricks, and healthier eating guides that’ll help you stick to your health-focused resolutions, check out our nutrition director’s new book: Dressing on the Side (and Other Diet Myths Debunked): 11 Science-Based Ways to Eat More, Stress Less, and Feel Great About Your Body

Jaclyn LondonJaclyn London is a registered dietitian with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northwestern University and a Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University, Jaclyn “Jackie” London handles all of Good Housekeeping’s nutrition-related content, testing, and evaluation.



Spirit-Filled Counselor Offers Tip to Improve Your Emotional Health in 30 Days

by Dr. Doug Weiss | You can feel! Your body can feel! You can learn to feel, and you can learn as much as you want. To help you move more toward emotional fitness, carve out 15 minutes a day to do five mimes. In one month, your ability to feel emotions in your body will expand greatly (image: Pixabay).

In the ’70s, there was a media fad I remember fondly: Marcel Marceau. He became the rage for quite a while, making appearances on numerous talk shows and in big media events.

What Marcel Marceau did was quite simple, but he was simply amazing at doing what he did. He would captivate audiences everywhere with his ability to mime.

When he did his skits, you both saw and felt what he was doing. A mime does not talk, but instead uses the body and face to communicate and express emotion. I remember one skit where an event made the mime sad. His sadness was so well expressed it felt completely real. Decades later, I still remember that expression.

Mime has much to do with emotional fitness. Miming will become a critical tool in your tool kit as you accelerate in your emotional fitness. Miming allows your body to feel the emotion passively, but as in the last exercise, it also allows you to fully engage and expand your body’s ability to experience and express an emotion. Since this is something you need to experience in order to understand, I am going to ask you to do some miming.

Before we begin, honestly assess which one of the following two categories you are in:

The Wishers Category: These wish they could be emotionally fit. They wish they could feel or master their emotions but they are unwilling to do the work. A weight wisher is someone who wants to lose weight but does not change habits or do the work necessary to lose weight. Weight wishers will not lose weight. They want magic to change them instead of taking personal responsibility to make changes to get the real results.

The Wanters Category: These people make a plan, do the work and keep doing the work until the results arrive. Unlike the wishers, they take personal responsibility, refuse to make excuses, and so always get the results they want. I believe that if you are this far in the book, you must want emotional fitness.

When you mime, it is best for you to be alone so you can in no way be inhibited or self-conscious. Put your body in a position to express an emotion. For example, if you were expressing excitement, you might stand up with your arms raised while you let excitement run through your entire body.

You can sit, stand, lie down or put your body in any position to express an emotion. Remember, acting as a mime would, you will use your face to express the emotion. So much so that if someone were to look at you, they could probably guess the emotion you are experiencing.

It is important that when you actually feel the emotion in your body that you hold the feeling for 15 seconds (make sure to use a timer). Then take a five-second break. After the break, go back to that same emotion until you feel it in your body again. Repeat the miming process until you feel it in your body for 15 seconds. Then take your last break and stop miming the emotion.

For example, first we are miming the feeling of excitement. Excited (held for 15 seconds), break, excited (held for 15 seconds), break, excited (held for 15 seconds). As you do each mime, try to allow your body to express the emotion more each time.

This exercise is powerful for you and your body. Over time, you can go through every emotion on the Feelings list, and you will be extremely connected to your emotions—more connected than you ever imagined.

Find a place to be by yourself, locate a way to time yourself, and then practice miming the six emotions listed below. We will do the same six feelings you just completed in the feeling the emotion exercise.

Calm

Frustration

Boldness

Amusement

Creativity

Eagerness

You can feel! Your body can feel! You can learn to feel, and you can learn as much as you want. To help you move more toward emotional fitness, carve out 15 minutes a day to do five mimes. In one month, your ability to feel emotions in your body will expand greatly. You will no longer fear emotions; you will be able to actually feel them. You can become more emotionally confident and expressive in just 30 days

Doug Weiss, Ph.D., is a nationally known author, speaker and licensed psychologist. He is the executive director of Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Amazon Best Seller including, Emotional Fitness. You may contact Dr. Weiss via his website, drdougweiss.com or on his Facebook, by phone at 719-278-3708 or through email at heart2heart@xc.org.



12 Tips for Holiday Eating

by Patrick J. Skerrett | By practicing a bit of defensive eating and cooking, you can come through the holidays without making “go on a diet” one of your New Year’s resolutions. (Images: Cooking Light, Chickpea Salad Boats.)

It’s easy to get swept up in the holiday season. This combination of religious and national celebrations can help keep the cold winter away. But the feasts and parties that mark it can tax the arteries and strain the waistline. By eating just 200 extra calories a day — a piece of pecan pie and a tumbler of eggnog here, a couple latkes and some butter cookies there — you could pack on two to three pounds over this five- to six-week period. That doesn’t sound like much, except few people shed that extra weight in the following months and years.

You don’t need to deprive yourself, eat only boring foods, or take your treats with a side order of guilt. Instead, by practicing a bit of defensive eating and cooking, you can come through the holidays without making “go on a diet” one of your New Year’s resolutions.

1. Budget wisely. Don’t eat everything at feasts and parties. Be choosy, and spend calories judiciously on the foods you love.

2. Take 10 before taking seconds. It takes a few minutes for your stomach’s “I’m getting full” signal to get to your brain. After finishing your first helping, take a 10-minute break. Make conversation. Drink some water. Then recheck your appetite. You might realize you are full, or want only a small portion of seconds.

3. Distance helps the heart stay healthy. At a party, don’t stand next to the food table. That makes it harder to mindlessly reach for food as you talk. If you know you are prone to recreational eating, pop a mint or a stick of gum so you won’t keep reaching for the chips.

4. Don’t go out with an empty tank. Before setting out for a party, eat something so you don’t arrive famished. Excellent pre-party snacks combine complex carbohydrates with protein and unsaturated fat, like apple slices with peanut butter or a slice of turkey and cheese on whole-wheat pita bread.

5. Drink to your health. A glass of eggnog can set you back 500 calories; wine, beer, and mixed drinks range from 150 to 225 calories. If you drink alcohol, have a glass of water or juice-flavored seltzer in between drinks.

6. Avoid alcohol on an empty stomach. Alcohol increases your appetite and diminishes your ability to control what you eat.

7. Put on your dancing (or walking) shoes. Dancing is a great way to work off some holiday calories. If you are at a family gathering, suggest a walk before the feast or even between dinner and dessert.

8. Make room for veggies. At meals and parties, don’t ignore fruits and vegetables. They make great snacks and even better side or main dishes — unless they’re slathered with creamy sauces or butter.

9. Be buffet savvy. At a buffet, wander ’round the food table before putting anything on your plate. By checking out all of your options, you might be less inclined to pile on items one after another.

10. Don’t shop hungry. Eat before you go shopping so the scent of Cinnabons or caramel corn doesn’t tempt you to gobble treats you don’t need.

11. Cook from (and for) the heart. To show family and friends that you really care about them, be creative with recipes that use less butter, cream, lard, vegetable shortening, and other ingredients rich in saturated fats and cholesterol. Prepare turkey or fish instead of red meat.

12. Pay attention to what really matters. Although food is an integral part of the holidays, put the focus on family and friends, laughter and cheer. If balance and moderation are your usual guides, it’s okay to indulge or overeat once in a while.

Patrick J. Skerrett is former editor of the Harvard Health blog and former Executive Editor of Harvard Health Publishing. Before that, he was editor of the Harvard Heart Letter for ten years. He is the co-author of Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Guide to Healthy Eating, The Fertility Diet, and several other books on health and science. His work has appeared in Newsweek, Popular Science magazine, Science magazine, the Boston Globe, and elsewhere. He earned a B.A. in biology from Northwestern University and an M.A. in biology from Washington University in St. Louis.
    

The Benefits and Harms of Screening Tests

National Institutes of Health (NIH) | Some screenings can reduce your risk of dying from the disease. But sometimes, experts say, a test may cause more harm than good (image: radiologyinfo.org).
Catching chronic health conditions early—even before you have symptoms—seems like a great idea. That’s what screening tests are designed to do. Some screenings can reduce your risk of dying from the disease. But sometimes, experts say, a test may cause more harm than good. Before you get a test, talk with your doctor about the possible benefits and harms to help you decide what’s best for your health.

Screening tests are given to people who seem healthy to try to find unnoticed problems. They’re done before you have any signs or symptoms of the disease. They come in many forms. Your doctor might take your health history and perform a physical exam to look for signs of health or disease. They can also include lab tests of blood, tissue, or urine samples or imaging procedures that look inside your body.

“I wouldn’t say that all people should just simply get screening tests,” says Dr. Barnett S. Kramer, a cancer prevention expert at NIH. “Patients should be aware of both the potential benefits and the harms when they’re choosing what screening tests to have and how often.”

Teams of experts regularly look at all the evidence about the balance of benefits and harms of different screening tests. They develop guidelines (link is external) for who should be screened and how often.

Choosing whether you should be screened for a health condition isn’t always easy. Screening suggestions are often based on your age, family health history, and other factors. You might be screened for many conditions, including diabetes, sexually transmitted infections, heart disease, osteoporosis, obesity, depression, pregnancy issues, and cancers.

Every screening test comes with its own risks. Some procedures can cause problems like bleeding or infection. A positive screening test can lead to further tests that come with their own risks.

“Most people who feel healthy are healthy,” says Kramer. “So a negative test to confirm that you’re healthy doesn’t add much new information.” But mistakenly being told that you do or don’t have a disease can be harmful. It’s called a misdiagnosis.

A false negative means that you’re told you don’t have the disease, but you do. This can cause problems if you don’t pay attention to symptoms that appear later on because you think you don’t have the disease. A false positive means that you’re told you may have the disease, but you don’t. This can lead to unnecessary worry and potentially harmful tests and treatments that you don’t need.

Even correctly finding a disease may not improve your health or help you live longer. You may learn you have an untreatable disease long before you would have. Or find a disease that never would have caused a problem. This is called overdiagnosis. Some cancers, for example, never cause symptoms or become life-threatening. But if found by a screening test, it’s likely to be treated. Cancer treatments can have harsh and long-lasting side effects. There’s no way to know if the treatment will help you live longer.

An effective screening test may decrease your chances of dying of the condition. Most have not been shown to lengthen your overall life expectancy, Kramer explains. Their usefulness varies and may depend on your risk factors, age, or treatment options.

If you’re at risk for certain health conditions—because of a family history or lifestyle exposures, like smoking—you may choose to have screenings more regularly. If you’re considering a screening, talk with your health care provider.



6 Strategies for Preventing Disease

National Institutes of Health (NIH) | Taking steps to protect your health is the best way to prevent disease and other conditions. Health screenings, vaccines, and guarding yourself from germs and bugs can help keep you feeling your best (image: Paul Bischoff).

1. Get screened for diseases
Some screenings can reduce your risk of dying from a disease. But sometimes, experts say, a test may cause more harm than good. Before you get a test, talk with your doctor about the possible benefits and harms to help you decide what’s best for your health.

To learn about screening tests, ask your doctor:

  • What’s my chance of dying of the condition if I do or don’t have the screening?
  • What are the harms of the test? How often do they occur?
  • How likely are false positive or false negative results?
  • What are possible harms of the diagnostic tests if I get a positive screening result?
  • What’s the chance of finding a disease that wouldn’t have caused a problem?
  • How effective are the treatment options?
  • Am I healthy enough to take the therapy if you discover a disease?
  • What are other ways to decrease my risk of dying of this condition? How effective are they?

2. Guard against germs
For nearly a century, bacteria-fighting drugs known as antibiotics have helped to control and destroy many of the harmful bacteria that can make us sick. But these drugs don’t work at all against viruses, such as those that cause colds or flu. Learn how to protect yourself against germs in the environment.

To block harmful germs:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • If you’re sick, make sure your doctor has a clear understanding of your symptoms. Discuss whether an antibiotic or a different type of treatment is appropriate for your illness.
  • If antibiotics are needed, take the full course exactly as directed. Don’t save the medicine for a future illness, and don’t share with others.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle—including proper diet, exercise, and good hygiene—to help prevent illness, thereby helping to prevent the overuse or misuse of medications.

3. Protect your body’s bacteria
Microscopic creatures—including bacteria, fungi, and viruses—can make you ill. But what you may not realize is that trillions of microbes are living in and on your body right now. Most don’t harm you at all. We tend to focus on destroying bad microbes. But taking care of good ones may be even more important.

To protect good microbes:

  • Don’t pressure your doctor to give you antibiotics. They may cause more harm than good.
  • Know when to wash your hands—for example, when preparing food and before eating.
  • Don’t use antibacterial products you don’t need. Antibacterial soaps have little or no health benefit. And antibacterial versions of household products have not been shown to reduce your risk of infection.
  • Don’t go overboard with hand sanitizers. They’re useful in health care settings, but hand washing is a better option in most situations.
  • Experiment with different skin moisturizers to see which work best for you.

4. Protect yourself and everyone else from disease
We share more than food and culture within our homes and communities. We can also spread disease. Luckily, we live in a time when vaccines can protect us from many of the most serious illnesses. Staying current on your shots helps you—and your neighbors—avoid getting and spreading disease.

To protect yourself and others from preventable diseases, stay up-to-date on shots for these 16 vaccine-preventable diseases:

  • Bacterial meningitis
  • Chickenpox
  • Diphtheria
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b
  • Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B
  • Cervical & other cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Influenza (flu)
  • Measles, Mumps, and Rubella
  • Pertussis (whooping cough)
  • Pneumococcal pneumonia
  • Rotavirus diarrhea
  • Shingles
  • Tetanus

5. Prevent mosquito-borne illnesses
Most mosquito bites are relatively harmless. The itchy bumps often last for just a day or two after a mosquito has punctured your skin. But if the mosquito is carrying certain germs, like viruses or parasites, these pathogens might enter your blood during the bite and make you sick. But we can all take simple steps to avoid getting bit by those blood-sucking insects.

To avoid mosquito bites:

  • Use insect repellents. Products containing DEET, picaridin, lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or IR3535 can be applied to skin. Follow label instructions.
  • Cover up. When outside, wear long sleeves, pants, and socks. Mosquitoes may bite through thin fabric, so spray thin clothes with an EPA-registered repellent like permethrin. Don’t apply permethrin directly to skin.
  • Mosquito-proof your home. Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep insects out. Use air conditioning if you have it.
  • Get rid of mosquito breeding sites. Empty standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, and birdbaths on a regular basis.

6. Block tick bites and Lyme disease
When warm weather arrives, you might get the urge to walk barefoot through the grass. But before you stroll through your lawn or head out on a hiking trail, you’ll want to protect yourself and your loved ones from ticks that often lurk in tall grass, thick brush, and wooded areas. Many ticks carry disease, so do what you can to keep ticks from taking a bite out of you.

To prevent tick bites and tick-borne diseases:

  • Help keep ticks off your skin by wearing long sleeves, long pants, and long socks.
  • Ward off ticks by using an insect repellant that contains at least 20% DEET (for the skin) or permethrin (for clothes).
  • Avoid ticks by walking in the center of trails and steer clear of tall vegetation.
  • If you’ve been in an area where ticks are common, bathe or shower as soon as possible, and wash or tumble your clothes in a dryer on high heat.
  • Check your body carefully for ticks. They dig and burrow into the skin before they bite and feed.
  • Removing ticks right away can help prevent disease.
  • If you develop a rash or fever after removing a tick, see your doctor.


Fats: Can they be healthful?

by Yvette Brazier | Reviewed by Natalie Olsen, RD, LD, ACSM EP-C | People often seek to avoid fats when they want to lose weight, but not all fats are bad, and we need some fats to stay healthy.
Plant-based fats such as olive oil, for example, are rich in antioxidants and may be powerful cancer fighters. Without fats, the body cannot absorb some necessary nutrients.

Healthful fats include plant oils like extra-virgin olive oil, flax seed oil, sesame oil, walnut oil, and fats from whole plant sources such as olives, nuts, seeds, and avocado.

Fast facts about fats

  • Different types of fat can be either healthful or bad for you.
  • Healthful fats can protect against cancer and help with the absorption of nutrients.
  • Unsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids can be healthful, including omega 3, which is found in fish.
  • Trans fats should be avoided.
  • You can reduce your health risks by replacing good fats with bad fats in the diet.

Health benefits of fats

Oily fish, avocados, and certain types of nuts are vital sources of healthful fats.

Fat gets a bad rap, and we often try to avoid it. However, fats play a key role in the diet. They not only supply energy, but also help us absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, and carotenoids. They also provide, or help the body to synthesize, essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. All body tissues need these to function normally.

A deficiency in these fatty acids can lead to a range of disorders, including:

  • liver and kidney problems
  • reduced growth rates
  • decreased immune function
  • depression
  • dry skin

Dietary guidelines recommend that an adult should get 20 to 35 percent of their energy intake from fat, and limit saturated fat to less than 10 percent of total calories. A 2,000-calorie-a-day diet should aim for 44 to 78 grams of total fat and no more than 22 grams of saturated fat to be within these guidelines.

The average American adult gets around 33 percent of their calories from fat. Much of the fat in the American diet comes from animal fat.

An excess of animal fat has been linked to higher rates of heart and cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol levels, diabetes, obesity, and cancer, to name a few.

However, the right kinds of fats bring a range of health benefits, if consumed wisely. Olive oil, for example, appears to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-cancerous, anti-diabetic and anti-aging effects.

Fats keep people healthy in other ways, too.

Protection against cancer

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), walnuts, which are high in fat, may help to reduce the risk of breast cancer. They are also particularly high in omega 3s compared to any other nut. Omega 3s are important for brain and heart health.

There is also evidence that healthy fats can help people manage diagnosed colon, prostate, and breast cancer.

Absorbing nutrients

Healthy fats should be consumed with every meal, because many nutrients are fat-soluble. For example, the body cannot absorb beta carotene, or Vitamin A, D, E, or K without fats.

  • Beta carotene, which functions as vitamin A, is also one of the body’s most powerful antioxidants. It helps to minimize cell damage.
  • Vitamin D plays a role in hormone production and regulation, neuromuscular function, and immune function.
  • Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that is vital for immune function and gene expression, and it works to minimize heart disease risk.
  • Vitamin K is involved in your body’s natural ability to clot blood and is important for bone health and heart health.

Some antioxidants that are present in fruits and vegetables also need fat for metabolism. They can help promote cardiovascular health, maintain a healthy weight, and prevent obesity.

In one study, people who ate salads with fat-free salad dressing absorbed far less of the helpful phytonutrients and vitamins from spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, and carrots than those who ate their salads with a salad dressing containing fat.

Cutting out fat can lead to diabetes

People who avoid fats often eat a higher proportion of carbohydrates. Fats can be satiating and deter overeating of carbohydrates. Overeating carbohydrates, especially refined and processed carbs, can raise triglycerides and reduce healthy HDL cholesterol.

Not having a balance of healthy carbohydrates and fats can increase the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. A diet that includes healthy fats, lean proteins, and fibrous, nutrient dense carbohydrates is best.

Maintaining nerves and cell membranes

Fat is needed in nerve transmission.

Myelin is a coating around nerves throughout the body that is composed primarily of insulating fatty tissue. Without proper fat intake, the myelin may be compromised. This can interfere with efficient nerve stimulation and function.

Fat also helps maintain cell membranes, because lipids, or fats, make up most of the cell wall structure.

Which fats are healthful?

The key is to choose the right kind of fat and in the right quantities.

Unhealthful fats
There are two main types of harmful dietary fat: saturated fats and trans fats.

Saturated fats are mainly of animal origin.

They increase levels of:

  • total blood cholesterol
  • low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol

Coconut is a plant-based saturated fat.

Trans fats occur naturally in small quantities, but most trans fats in our diet result from partial hydrogenation, a food processing method.

Trans fats can increase LDL cholesterol, and they can reduce “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

Both saturated and trans fats increase the risk of heart disease, but trans fats much more so. It is recommended that saturated fat makes up less than 10 percent of your total calories, but there is no recommended amount of trans fat in the diet. It is best to avoid trans fat.

Healthful fats
Unsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids are healthful, in moderation.

They are thought to improve cholesterol levels and to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

They usually come from plants, but omega 3 is a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid found in oily fish. It may be good for the heart.

Other good sources of omega 3 include flaxseed, walnuts, and soybeans.

 



I’m Healthy, Why Should I Visit the Doctor?

by Lynn Yoffee | Medically Reviewed by Niya Jones, MD, MPH | Health professionals stress that these regular exams are important to help identify risk factors and problems before they become serious (image: Shutterstock).
When you were little, your parents probably make sure you had an annual checkup with your doctor. But as you’ve grown older, you may have gotten out of this habit.

Health professionals stress that these regular exams are important to help identify risk factors and problems before they become serious. If diseases are caught early, treatments are usually much more effective. Ultimately, having a regular doctor’s visit will help you live a long and healthy life.

Doctor’s Visit: The Prevention Checkup
Depending on your age, sex, and family medical history, a checkup with your doctor may include:

  • Blood, urine, vision, and hearing tests to evaluate your overall health
  • Assessments of your blood pressure, cholesterol level, and weight
  • A discussion about your diet and exercise habits and any tobacco, drug, and alcohol use
  • Immunizations and booster shots
  • Screenings to assess your risk of developing certain diseases, including diabetes (if you already have high blood pressure or high cholesterol) and cancer
  • Depending on your age and sexual lifestyle, testing for STDs and possibly HIV
  • Starting at age 50, or younger if you have a family history, a screening test for colorectal cancer
  • A discussion about depression and stress to evaluate your mental health

Doctor’s Visit: Concerns for Men
For men, in addition to checking weight, high blood pressure, and other basics, your doctor’s visit may specifically include:

  • Starting at age 50, or younger if you have a family history, a rectal exam to check for abnormal bumps in the prostate and a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test to screen for prostate cancer
  • Between the ages of 65 and 75 if you have ever smoked cigarettes, an abdominal exam to check for an enlargement in your aorta; an abdominal aortic aneurysm, a weakness in the lining of the aorta (a large blood vessel in your chest and abdomen), can develop with age and become a life-threatening problem.

Doctor’s Visit: Concerns for Women
For women, in addition to checking weight, high blood pressure, and other basics, your doctor’s visit may specifically include:

  • A test for cervical cancer, called a Pap smear, every one to three years
  • A clinical breast exam to check for any unusual lumps or bumps in your breasts
  • Starting at age 40 (or younger if you have a strong family history for breast cancer), a breast cancer screening with a mammogram every one to two years
  • Ultrasound imaging of the pelvis to produce pictures of the structures and organs in the lower abdomen and pelvis
  • Starting at age 65, a referral for a bone density test to screen for osteoporosis, the disease that causes brittle, fragile bones and typically affects older women; women with more than one risk factor for osteoporosis may start earlier

Doctor’s Visit: Preparation
It’s important for you to play an active role to get the most out of your doctor’s visit. Before your exam, review and update your family health history, be prepared to ask if you’re due for any general screenings or vaccinations, and come up with a list of questions if you have particular health concerns.

During your actual doctor’s visit, don’t be shy about getting your questions answered. Also, if your doctor gives you advice about specific health issues, don’t hesitate to take notes. Time is often limited during these exams, but by coming prepared you’re sure to get the most out of your checkup.

Lynn YoffeeLynn Yoffee manage the biopharmaceutical and medical technology news services (BioWorld, BioWorld MedTech, BioWorld Insight, BioWorld Asia), Incidence and Prevalence Database (an epidemiology resource) and Disease Briefings for Clarivate Analytics.



5 Healthy Fast Food Meals

There are several tasty meals at the fast food chains with less than 500 calories and moderate amounts of salt, fat and saturated fat.

Eating healthy on the road is never easy in this fast paced busy life style that we’ve all caved for ourselves or forced into. But be rest assured you can still find healthy food in those drive-through line and even  lose some extra pounds while you’re at it. There are several tasty meals at the fast food chains with less than 500 calories and moderate amounts of salt, fat and saturated fat. Here are some of the healthiest fast food meals from some of the top fast food chains. For beverage, be sure to go for a zero-calorie drink like water, unsweetened tea, black coffee, or diet soda. Please be aware that the nutrition information is calculated based on data provided by the suppliers who produced the food and beverage items and may vary from season to season due to periodic changes in formulations.

1. Breakfast: Fruit & Maple Oatmeal (McDonald’s)

(290 calories, 4.5g fat)

Fruit & Maple Oatmeal (McDonald's)

Fruit & Maple Oatmeal (McDonald’s)

This fruit and Maple Oatmeal all-day-menu is loaded with red and green apples, cranberries and two varieties of raisins. It has two of the recommended three daily servings of whole grains and is a good source of calcium and iron. You can have it as is and save 30 calories by skipping the brown sugar.

 

2. Large Chili with side of Mandarin Oranges (Wendy’s)

Large Chili with side of Mandarin Oranges (Wendy's)

Large Chili w/side of Mandarin Oranges (Wendy’s)

(330 calories, 7g fat)

This is one of the healthiest chili made with fresh, never frozen beef and kidney beans. This classic tastes rich but has only 7g of saturated fat. A large cup of chili is 250 cal and 80 cal for the side of mandarin oranges which altogether packs 5g of fiber, 24g protein, 19g carbs and a quarter of your daily requirement of fatigue-fighting iron.

3. Grilled Chicken Breast with Green Beans (Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC))

Grilled Chicken Breast with Green Beans (KFC)

Grilled Chicken Breast with Green Beans (KFC)

(330 calories, 7g fat)

KFC offer a grilled chicken breast served with a side of vegetable like green beans and corn that packs low calories. A Kentucky Grilled Chicken Breast is 210 calories (with 7 grams of fat, 38 grams protein), and an individual side of green beans is only 25 calories. If you’re craving for the chain’s classic mashed potatoes (90 calories), don’t forget to order them without gravy to save calories and fat.

4. Breakfast: Egg & Cheese Muffin Melt and Dannon Light & Fit Yogurt (Subway)

Egg & Cheese Muffin Melt and Dannon Light & Fit Yogurt (Subway)

Muffin Melt & Dannon Light & Fit Yogurt (Subway)

(250 calories, 6g fat)

There a few options with this breakfast, (melt with egg whites 30 cal more), Black Forest ham, green peppers, American and Monterey Jack cheeses, and red onion stacked on an English muffin. Don’t forget to add or remove peppers, fresh tomatoes, spinach, or onions if you don’t like them. This meal comes with a side of  Subway’s apple slices or yogurt.

5. Roasted tomatoes, mozzarella, spinach and basil pesto toasted focaccia (Starbucks)

(350 calories, 13g fat)

Roasted Vegetable Panini (Starbucks)

Roasted Vegetable Panini (Starbucks)

This roasted vegetable sandwich is stuffed with zucchini, eggplant, peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and baby spinach. Overall it packs 13g fat, 42g carbohydrate, 14g protein and 40 percent of daily required vitamin C.



Pastors Should Take a Vacation for the Good of their Church

Stephanie Dyrness Lobdell | You are not the linchpin holding your congregation together (Images: Our Dream Cruises, Tracy Arm, AK, USA).
I sit on the couch, flipping through my digital calendar, trying to do the math. When can we actually fit in some vacation time? There are so many factors to consider: the launch of the combined summer service, Vacation Bible School, various camps, vacations for other staff members. I also worry about the summer slump, which is already upon us. Can the church really afford not to have their lead pastors present, if only for morale?

My husband and I, co-lead pastors of our church, have the vacation time. All the books and all the ministry blogs and all the professors say pastors must tend to their families, guard their souls, and rest. I know in my heart we need to take more than one week—that in fact we need two in a row—to truly decompress and separate from the beautiful but weighty vocation that is parish ministry.

But so much can happen in two weeks. My mind begins to race. A conflict might emerge, a pressing administrative issue could arise, someone might end up in the hospital with only a good word from my lips able to sustain them. As my thoughts careen out of control, images of a church in tatters, a mass exodus, and possible explosions flood my mind’s eye.

Get a grip, I tell myself.

The irrational fear and anxiety of taking a mere 14 consecutive days away from my parish has unveiled a wound within me that needs attention.

Why the Anxiety?

Vacation anxiety is not unique to ministry, but the pressure does have a unique faith-flavored flair to it. The stakes feel elevated for those in the field of soul care.

Practical concerns
There are, of course, practical concerns. Who will do what in our absence? How will the everyday, unseen tasks be completed? Who will honor the pulpit and preach faithfully when we’re gone? For those of us who feel a sense of scarcity in terms of local leadership, these practical concerns can paralyze us.

Perceptions
But vacation anxiety runs much deeper than the who, what, and how questions that arise when the pastor is out of town. There is also the anxiety of perception. Some pastors are more prone to this anxiety than others, but it merits mention.

As I plan time away, I find myself explaining, almost defending, our vacation. We haven’t taken any time off in 6 months. Or, We’ve been saving up for a long time to take a trip, and we’re doing it on the cheap, so we’re not being extravagant or anything! I secretly wonder, does my congregation begrudge me the time off? Will they perceive me as disengaged, selfish, and uncommitted to the church and the church’s needs? The fact that my paycheck comes from their tithes and offerings adds a new layer of angst, since I often feel the need to prove I’m worth the investment and that I’m not living large at their expense.

An idolatrous heart
But if I am truly honest with myself, my anxiety surrounding taking adequate time off goes even deeper than the practical concerns or the perceptions. I cannot in good faith say, “It’s them! It’s the congregation with their unreasonable expectations!” Because it is also me, with an idolatrous heart that has participated in and perhaps even propagated the narrative that the life of the church flows from, or at least through, the pastor.

In his ever-timely book The Contemplative Pastor, Eugene Peterson quotes Hilary of Tours who describes a sin so often committed by pastors: irreligiosa sollicitudo pro Deo, a blasphemous anxiety to do God’s work for him.

And there it is: the sin of this pastor’s heart. I could blame the constant deluge of images that portray leaders as an organization’s capstone—the source of inspiration, motivation, and momentum. I could blame those highly “successful” pastors who peddle their systems and theories as necessary to salvation and vital to every church’s life together. I could even blame denominational leaders who present stories of visionary, gregarious leaders to mimic and ensure ecclesial growth and vitality.

But my accusations fall flat. I must take responsibility for the state of my soul and the lies I have believed—lies of my own self-importance, lies that my identity is contingent upon my vocation, even lies about the Spirit’s power to move and transform without direction from me. With that in mind, here are a few commitments I am making as I plan my upcoming vacation.

Commitments to Combat Vacation Anxiety

I commit to being honest about my vacation anxiety.
Some anxiety is appropriate. As the leader, I am responsible for ensuring that leadership is being raised up and trained to do the work of ministry. My husband and I are ultimately responsible for having all our bases covered. Pastors who leave town without a thought to what might go on in their absence send a message of disengaged inattentiveness.

However, some types of anxiety are not only inappropriate—they are toxic to my soul and lead to the sin of idolatry. I have to ask myself,

  • Is my anxiety rooted in fear or in a compulsive need to please the people of my congregation?
  • Am I micromanaging the people around me and doubting their ability to do good work without my presence?
  • Have I taken undue responsibility for the Spirit’s movement among the people of God to the extent that I believe that, apart from my physical presence, the Spirit will not (or even cannot) move?
  • Is my identity so rooted in my vocation that the idea of time away from work is disorienting and unsettling?

These are not easy questions to answer honestly, but my answers reveal the ways in which my heart veers toward that “blasphemous anxiety to do God’s work for him.”

I commit to going.
Yes, I will actually take my vacation. This requires wisdom and discernment. It’s probably not ideal to take two weeks of vacation in the middle of Advent. But I won’t kid myself into thinking every church function requires me to be there in the flesh. I will work to empower my leaders, be they pastoral staff or lay leaders, and then let them do their jobs. Equipping the saints for ministry is sacred work.

I commit to being absent.
When I leave, I will be as fully “gone” as possible. This may not require a costly overseas escape. A simple, affordable “staycation” will work just as well, if I take the call to absence seriously. That means I will need to communicate clearly that I will not be responding to emails, calls, or texts. But that’s not enough. I must follow through and stay off my phone and email! I will probably disconnect from social media as well. It has the power to make us present in mind and spirit to the wrong things, even when we are absent in the body.

I will, of course, leave emergency contact info with someone who I trust to respect my absence—someone who understands the definition of emergency.

I commit to being present.
Being absent is only half the battle. As I embrace the call to absence from work, I must accept the challenge to be present—to my family, to my body, and to my spirit.

Present to my family. I commit to paying attention to my loved ones in intentional ways. Even if I don’t go on a lavish trip or even leave town, I will find a way to spend quality time with my family.

Present to my body. So much of pastoral work is work of the mind. After a long day of sermon prep, I find that I have left my seat perhaps only twice, but I am exhausted from the mental fatigue of studying. During times of increased stress and anxiety, my body lets me know through stomachaches, tight shoulders, and jaw tension—once so severe I could barely chew! I will use the time of absence from work to be present to my body through physical movement and bodily care. Exercise, even a simple walk, reminds me that I am a whole person, not a disembodied spirit or mind.

Present to my spirit. It never fails that when I have a moment of stillness, anxiety pounces on my peace. My initial reaction is to flee or distract. Hurry, get busy! If I’m constantly moving, anxiety can’t slither in. Or, Start that Netflix binge! My mind will be too busy with the steady stream of entertainment for anxiety to get a word in. In her book Don’t Feed the Monkey Mind, Jennifer Shannon says this is the wrong approach to our anxiety. It sends the false message that the fear we are experiencing is dangerous and should be avoided. But it’s not dangerous; it’s just uncomfortable. Shannon encourages her readers to open their minds and hearts to the anxiety and to sit with the discomfort, thereby debunking anxiety’s lies and stealing its power.

As I sit with the discomfort, I ask the Lord to remind me that I am his beloved, and with me, the Lord is well pleased. I confess the ways in which I have sought to do God’s work on God’s behalf. I ask the Spirit to heal the wounds that led me to these anxious behaviors.

Vacation as Co-laboring
Without a doubt, taking vacation as a pastor can be a challenge. But time away is not merely important—it is essential for both the pastor and the congregation. Those of us who bear the mantle of pastor need to be reminded that we are not the head of the church. Christ is.

Pastors are not, as Eugene Peterson puts it, “the linchpin holding a congregation together.” We are co-laborers with our flocks, cooperating with the Holy Spirit who is doing the work of calling, comforting, and convicting. Our congregations need a reminder that pastoral vacations can deliver blessings as well. They are not to be passive consumers of what the “professional” pastor has to offer, but rather to be engaged, contributing members of the body of Christ.

By refusing to participate in the blasphemous anxiety to do the work of God for him and confessing the idolatry in our own hearts, we will shape our congregation to follow Jesus faithfully—more faithfully than 365 consecutive days of work ever could.

Now, you’ll have to excuse me. I need to get back to planning my vacation.

Stephanie Dyrness Lobdell currently serves as co-lead pastor with her husband Tommy at Mountain Home Church of the Nazarene in Mountain Home, Idaho. She blogs at www.stephanielobdell.com.



‘The Happiness Curve’ Proves Life Gets Better After 50

by Jessica Toomer | What mid-life crisis? Author Jonathan Rauch shares the surprising science he uncovered while writing his new book. Most importantly, Rauch wants to shatter the negative stereotype associated with aging. The idea that a person’s life is on the decline once they reach their 40s, that retirement means getting put out to pasture, that happiness can’t be found in a person’s later years, is the worst lie we’ve let ourselves believe according to the writer (images: happinesscurve.com).

When author Jonathan Rauch was in his mid-40s, his outlook on life took a strange turn. Instead of waking up energized, ambitious, and optimistic about the future, Rauch was struggling to find a sense of purpose, a motivating reason to get out of bed every day. What was more puzzling is that Rauch had absolutely no reason to feel this way. He was a celebrated journalist, having just won the highest award given to magazine writers. He was in a loving relationship, he had money in the bank, and he wasn’t facing any monumental tests of faith. No cancer threatened his body, there was no loss to grieve. He was as successful as he could hope to be, more so even. Yet, something was missing.

“I wondered if I’d ever be satisfied,” Rauch tells Guideposts.org. “I wondered if there was something wrong with me.”

The journalist in him hungered for answers. He read books, studies, and journals on the effects of aging, looking into the reasons for mid-life malaise and that dreaded of all clichés, the mid-life crisis. It was in his research he stumbled across something surprising, a new way scientists and professionals in the fields of economics, medicine, psychology and so forth were beginning to view aging. It was called “the happiness curve,” a U-shaped model for charting the trajectory of a person’s relative happiness during their lifetime. It changed the game for Rauch.

“We all imagine we’re supposed to be at the peak of our achievement and glory and happiness at midlife and if we’re not it’s a midlife crisis and there’s something the matter with us,” Rauch explains. “So, surprise number one is: that’s totally backwards. The middle of life is a time of transition and vulnerability and, for many people, difficulty.”

Instead of reaching our peak in midlife, the happiness curve shows the exact opposite. Most people begin their lives relatively happy. When you’re in your 20s and 30s, you’re in a time of ambition, a period where you’re fighting to achieve your goals, to start a family, to begin a successful career. It’s a time of opportunity. Once a person reaches their late 40s and early 50s, instead of happiness peaking as we’ve all assumed, the happiness curve shows that the average person will go through a low-point in their life. It’s a dip in the curve, one that can last years but marks a crucial transition period in a person’s life.

For Rauch and those like him – professionally successful people who aren’t facing overwhelming struggle or tragedy during their 40s and 50s – this dip is usually caused by, well, nothing.

“That’s really true, if you’re someone like me and you’re looking around for the problem in your life to blame it on,” Rauch explains. “There is no problem in your life to blame it on. There’s no science behind that and why that would happen to people.”

Still, the data shows it does happen and often. Rauch worked with revered economists like David Blanchflower and Andrew Oswald who study the patterns of human behaviors as part of their work. He also talked to psychologists, neuroscientists, and everyday people experiencing this phenomenon of “the happiness curve.” While his research proved that a midlife dip occurs rather frequently, what alarmed him most was the ideas of why and how a person should handle feeling depressed during that period of transition.

“The problem with the midlife crisis joke is that it’s not completely wrong, but it’s terribly misleading because most people don’t have a crisis at all. They have a gradual, slow sense of dissatisfaction,” Rauch says. “If it gets mishandled it can become a crisis but for most people, they just soldier through it, often in isolation.”

It’s how Rauch dealt with his own midlife slump. Ashamed that he wasn’t happier with his success, feeling ungrateful for all the blessings in his life, Rauch shut down. He didn’t feel comfortable talking about why he was feeling so low because he know he had no rational reason to feel that way.

“People are ashamed or embarrassed, or they hold it in,” Rauch explains. “They think there’s something wrong with them, they think they’re ingrates. That adds to their unhappiness and it becomes a downward spiral. I keep reminding people, just because this happens to first world people doesn’t make it any less of a problem for the people who are stuck in it.”

As Rauch explains, the happiness curve is just the effect of the ticking clock on a person’s life, and that’s not based off privilege.

Because the author experienced midlife malaise himself, and because he met so many people like him who were suffering through the same doldrums of life, Rauch decided to write a book, The Happiness Curve, to explain what happens to people as they age and how others can avoid the emotional and mental pitfalls of time.

The first thing Rauch wants people in their 40s and 50s, who feel pessimistic about the future and unsatisfied with their past, to know is that they’re not alone.

“Understand there’s nothing wrong with you,” Rauch says. “A second thing is don’t let yourself get ashamed or isolated if you can help it. Lots of people go through this, it’s totally natural. It’s normal, it’s not fun but it’s healthy. So, find people you can reach out to, whether its counselors or coaches or friends.”

Another thing to keep in mind as you reach that crucial period of midlife: Impulsiveness is not your friend.

“It’s really hard to know in midlife, if what you’re feeling is a result of time, the effect of aging, or if it’s the effect of other things,” Rauch explains. “I thought there must be something wrong with my career even though technically there was nothing wrong with my career, and I was tempted to just walk in one day and quit, which would’ve been a bad idea. Because of that uncertainty, not what’s going on, we don’t have clear visibility. So sure, change your life, but do it in a rational, calculated, instrumental way that builds on your strengths and your social capital. Don’t do it in a disruptive or impulsive way.”

Most importantly, Rauch wants to shatter the negative stereotype associated with aging. The idea that a person’s life is on the decline once they reach their 40s, that retirement means getting put out to pasture, that happiness can’t be found in a person’s later years, is the worst lie we’ve let ourselves believe according to the writer.

“What’s going on is a value transition,” Rauch says. “It takes a number of years to get through it. But when you do, you’re in a better place because your values have shifted away from ambitions and the social competition treadmill and towards social connection, cooperation, love, friendship — much better sources of happiness.”

It’s why the happiness curve is U-shaped. Once a person gets through the low point of their midlife, happiness increases to surprisingly high levels, a direct result of that value transition when people learn to place things like relationships, family, friendships, and community ahead of more self-centered desires.

“Adult development continues right to the last decades of life and in a very positive way,” Rauch says. “So, busting that negative stereotype of old age will help people in midlife understand how much they have to look forward to.”