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What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is state of being. It’s not a specific exercise or activity. Being mindful is characterized by having a heightened sense of awareness and acceptance (without judgement). It doesn’t involve clearing your mind or getting lost in your thoughts. On the contrary, you are aware of physical sensations, thoughts and feelings as they occur, completely in the present moment. When you notice a thought, such as ‘I feel anxious,’ you leave it there. You don’t judge the feeling, elaborate on it or try to change it. Simply observe it.

You tune into sounds, smells, notice how your body moves and feels. You pay attention to your breathing. It’s a matter of taking everything in through a sense of awareness and peace. There are many ways to practice mindfulness, such as through meditation, a walk in nature, eating with mindfulness and being aware of all of your senses: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and feeling. You are not distracted with thoughts but are present in the moment, in the place, taking everything in.

Why practice mindfulness? Benefits include improved mental processing speed, focus and clarity, less intense/frequent feelings of anxiety and depression, improved adaptability during times of stress, decreased rumination and an enhanced ability to manage your emotions.

Motivation tips

Motivation, whether internal (intrinsic) or external (extrinsic) is what keeps you focused and on track for reaching wellness goals. It is said that internal (intrinsic) motivators are more valuable because they come from within and are based on what is important to you, such as your health. Extrinsic motivators, such as a deposit into your Health Savings Account (HSA) by your employer for engaging in a wellness activity gets you on track initially but typically doesn’t keep the fire burning for making long term changes.

  1. Write down your goals and view them often. Write down the reasons for your goals. For example, outcome goal: “I want to reduce my fasting blood sugars to less than 99 mg/dL,” process goal (steps or how you will do it): “I will walk for 3 miles, four times/week in the morning from 8 to 9 am. And the why “My poor blood sugar control is damaging my eyes/vision,” or “I want to be healthy and fit to keep up with my grandchildren, not sick.” Keep a journal in reach.
  2. Have what you need to accomplish your goal. Be equipped with the resources and tools you need to engage in behavior change and make it a part of your routine. For walking, make sure you have quality walking shoes and a path/route as well as a specific routine planned. Don’t ‘wing it’ and do it whenever you find the time. Results are motivating. Without a solid plan and action the results won’t come.
  3. Surround yourself with positivity – positive people, affirmations, motivating quotes placed where you can see them, photos that drive you to engage in the behaviors what will give you results. Positive self-talk is a must. Speak good things into existence.

Fitness basics: how to start a home exercise routi...

Developing a home fitness routine may seem daunting, even overwhelming, particularly if you are an exercise novice. In a world where “instant” is the norm, particularly in today’s technology world, it is tempting to skip the planning phase, diving into a potentially inappropriate exercise routine and overspending on exercise equipment. Save money, time, and potentially injury by familiarizing yourself with some fitness basics.

Health Check

Before embarking on any moderate to vigorous exercise routine, it is essential to check with your doctor and possibly schedule a physical, particularly if you have an existing medical condition, such as high blood pressure.


A well-balanced routine includes two main components: cardiovascular activity and strength training. However, stretching post-exercise, while muscles are warm, enhances flexibility and reduces your risk of injury.

Fitness Guidelines

Guidelines: If you are not familiar with the exercise recommendations for healthy Americans, this is the place to start. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide age-specific exercise guidelines and lists some of the benefits of exercise based on their 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Toolkit.

Fitness Assessment

Assessment: Make goal setting easier by assessing your wants, needs and potential limitations. Determine how much space you have in your home for working out comfortably, outline a budget and make a list of physical activities you currently enjoy or enjoyed as a child.

Goal Setting

Goal setting: The information gained from your assessment as well as your fitness goals will help you determine the best picks for your home fitness equipment. Start by setting two to three fitness goals. Ideally, goals should be specific, realistic and measurable. Perhaps you wish to lose weight and/or body fat, tone and strengthen specific muscle groups to improve sports performance or enhance flexibility to ease the pain of tight muscles.

While it is certainly possible to engage in an exercise routine at home without pre-planning, taking the time to plan and self-reflect will help you avoid making costly and potentially dangerous choices. Planning reduces the likelihood that your brand new stationary bike will end up serving as an expensive coat rack.