Archive for May, 2019

exercise1Many think of exercise as the solution for all of their health woes-even those related to the aging process. Of course, no amount of physical activity can stop us from getting older, but there’s plenty of evidence that proves that physical activity can increase life expectancy by limiting the development and progression of chronic diseases-something many folks start thinking about after they turn 40. (As you get older, you should be aware of these 5 deadliest diseases that aren’t heart disease or cancer.)

"There comes a point when we realize we’re no longer invincible," Believe it or not, the body starts to decline after about 30, and that decline gets more aggressive every year." The good news: Exercise not only helps you feel (and look!) better, it can also slow that decline, helping you stave off some common health conditions.

Here, five exercises you should start doing every week once you’re in your 40s to stay healthy, happy, and looking as great as you feel.

To prevent heart disease


Try: Cardiovascular workouts, 3 to 4 times a week

Less than 1% of American women between the ages of 20 and 39 suffer from coronary heart disease, according to a recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. However, among 40- to 59-year-olds, that number increases nearly 10-fold, to 5.6%. So how can you stay healthy?

The word "cardio" is short for "cardiovascular," so many people know that this kind of heart-pumping exercise will keep the heart muscle strong, Perkins says. (Running, spinning, dancing, rowing, and swimming all count!) However, if you really want your heart health to benefit from your cardio workouts, you need to exercise at 80% of your maximum heart rate for at least 30 minutes, 3 to 4 times a week. (On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being as hard as you can push yourself, you should be around an 8.)

So, if you’re barely breaking a sweat while walking or taking it easy during your favorite Zumba class, it’s time to pick up your pace and increase your effort "Cardio workouts should feel effortful-like you could do it forever but wouldn’t want to."

To ward off osteoporosis


Try: High-impact activities, 1 to 2 times a week

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, approximately 1 in 2 women over age 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis, a condition in which the bones become brittle, increasing the risk of fractures.

While you may already know that calcium can keep your skeletal system strong, recent research reveals that high-impact, weight-bearing exercise can help build bone strength, too, "There’s still widespread misperception that high-impact activities do more harm than good, but that’s simply not the case-particularly when it comes to bone health."

"Dancing, jumping jacks, racquet sports, and even adding a light jog into your go-to walking workout are all great examples of exercise that can keep your bones strong."

To fight arthritis


Try: Strength training, 2 to 3 times a week

The risk of developing arthritis increases with age. However, chronic joint pain and stiffness can plague adults of all ages-especially those who are overweight and those who have suffered a previous joint injury, according to the Arthritis Foundation. That said, it’s never too soon to start protecting your body.

Strength training is one of the best ways to prevent the aches and pains. "Strength training has been proven to decrease pain associated with arthritis-and prevent its onset in the first place," And you don’t have to spend hours in the weight room to reap the benefits. "All you really need to do is some form of a squat, deadlift, and overhead press to strengthen multiple joints and muscles."

To fight depression


Try: Yoga, once a week

Women between ages 45 and 64 have an increased risk of depression, according to John Hopkins Medicine, one of the leading healthcare systems in the United States.

Though any form of exercise can help stave off anxiety and depression, a growing body of research shows yoga may be particularly beneficial for reducing stress and regulating mood. One study found that yoga increases levels of GABA, a mood-regulating neurotransmitter that’s typically deficient in those with depression and anxiety. Another study found that women suffering from mental distress were less stressed after participating in a three-month yoga class.

"We know that yoga is so good for stress reduction, and we know there’s a correlation between stress and mood disorders," "Even better, certain styles of yoga are also a great weight-bearing strength workout and even offer some cardiovascular conditioning, making it a win all around."

To fight back pain


Try: Holding a plank for 90 seconds, 3 times a week

Most people experience back pain for the first time between the ages of 30 to 40, and back pain becomes more common as we get older, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, a division of the National Institutes of Health.

Strengthening your core can help ward off the pain. The plank is a great move to try because it tones all of the core muscles of the body. Not only does it work the abs, it also challenges the muscles in the chest and those surrounding the spine.  "As these muscles become stronger, your entire midsection tightens, which ultimately supports your lower back, keeping it pain-free."

To ensure you’re holding the plank position correctly, stack your wrists under your elbows, position your elbows under your shoulders, and push the floor away from you with your feet. Your legs should be outstretched behind you, and your feet should be shoulder-distance apart. Also, be sure to pull your bellybutton in towards your spine to turn "on" your abs. Stay here for 30 seconds, come down to your knees to take a short break, and then repeat the exercise two more times. As you get stronger, try holding the position for 90 seconds without a break.

You may be self-sabotaging without even realizing it.

Sad girlWhether you refer to it as self-defeating behavior or standing in your own way, self-sabotage can interfere with the best-laid plans and goals. Why do we do it? Turns out there are many reasons why, instead of shooting for the moon, we end up aiming right for our foot. 

Self-sabotage is any action that gets in the way of your intent. On a diet? Birthday cake calories at the office obviously don’t count. Need to reach a deadline for an assignment? You’ll focus much better if you finish the next episode in your Netflix queue, right? Thinking about breaking up with your partner? You’ll get right into it after you rearrange the living room furniture first.

There are countless ways we sabotage ourselves, but procrastination, self-medicating with drugs or alcohol, overeating from stress, and interpersonal conflict are among the most widely used and recognizable. These actions can be especially dangerous because they’re so subtle you may not notice the extra cookie you’re taking or the additional drink you want to order before last call and, at the time, they may even appear to calm you down and relax you. But as these actions increase, self-sabotage builds and can create a deep well of self-defeat that’s hard to climb out of.

So why do we do this to ourselves? Here are six big reasons.

1. Self-Worth: You feel undeserving of success or happiness. In an ironic twist, some of the most driven people strive to work hard and aim high, because they feel they need to make up for a self-imposed sense of inadequacy. But when the fruits of their labor lead to good things — whether it be a material benefit or increase in status or power they make the situation worse for themselves. Why is that?

The concept of cognitive dissonance sheds some light on the answer. People like to be consistent our actions tend to be in sync with our beliefs and values. When they aren’t, we make an effort to line them up again. If we start to rack up the victories and accomplishments, yet still view ourselves as flawed, worthless, incapable, or deficient, we pull the plug to get rid of the dissonance. If it feels bad to fail, it feels even worse to succeed. 

2. Control: It feels better to control your own failure rather than face the possibility of it blindsiding you and taking you by surprise. Self-sabotage may not be pretty, but it’s better than spinning out of control. At least when you’re steering the ship, going down in flames feels more like a well-maintained burn.

3. Perceived Fraudulence: As the bar continues to rise you’re promoted to a new position, you obtain higher levels of education you feel you only have further to fall when you inevitably come crashing down. If you call attention to your triumphs, it’s more likely you’ll be called out as a fake. This is otherwise known as good ol’ impostor syndrome.

How does this manifest? You may do the bare minimum and hope it goes unnoticed. Or you may push hard and go big, but worry you’ll be revealed at any moment. Either way, feeling like a fraud easily leads you towards procrastination and diversion, if you’re faced with a task that makes you feel like a phony, it’s a lot more tempting to refresh Instagram again, research frying pans, or realize there’s no time like the present to immediately start a DIY spice rack project.

4. For a Handy Scapegoat: If things aren’t resolved (or when they aren’t resolved, because that’s the only option, right?), we can blame the action instead of ourselves. Of course I was never around. Of course I failed the class, I barely studied for any exams. While these reasons may be true, they are more frivolous, and easier to come to terms with and swallow than the deeper reasons we only believe to be true. I’m not worthy of love. Of course I failed the class  I’m incapable of grasping the material.

5. Familiarity: Again, people like to be consistent. We even tend to choose consistency over our own contentment. If you’re used to being or feeling overlooked, mistreated, or exploited, it’s strangely reassuring to put yourself in that position. You’ve probably been there your whole life, and while you may not be happy, that which you know is preferable to the unknown.

6. Sheer boredom: Once in awhile, we self-sabotage simply to push buttons. Picking a fight and inciting drama can give a rush, but of course, these are not random acts. Sabotaging ourselves creates the familiar feeling of instability and chaos; plus, if we’re stuck at the bottom, we might as well brandish power while we’re down there.

So how can you stop sawing off the tree limb you’re sitting on? Look at the proverbial root. However your self-sabotage materializes, beat it at the root: fear of failure.

I get a lot of raised eyebrows when I say that: Most people think of self-demolition as fear of success. But deep down, despair over achievements isn’t truly a fear of ambition and your own worth it’s a fear of trying one’s best and not succeeding, of being personally let down and publicly humiliated as we worry that our best just might not be good enough. It’s enough to make us take refuge in DIY spice racks.

social_securityWaiting to file for benefits isn’t always the best option
There’s arguably no decision that’s more important for seniors than deciding when to take Social Security benefits. After all, more than 3 out of 5 aged beneficiaries today is reliant on Social Security for at least half of their monthly income.
But deciding when to take benefits isn’t as cut-and-dried as you might think.
Ideally, retired workers who’ve earned the prerequisite 40 lifetime work credits needed to qualify for benefits will wait until age 70 before claiming their payout. The reason is simple: Though workers qualify to begin receiving a benefit as early as age 62, their payout will grow by approximately 8% for each year they hold off on their claim, up until age 70. All factors considered (length of work history, earnings history, and birth year), waiting until age 70 is the way to maximize your monthly Social Security check.
However, waiting doesn’t always make sense. For some people, claiming early, despite the permanent reduction to their monthly check, can lead to a higher lifetime payout than if they were to wait. And the key to success with Social Security is to maximize what you receive over your lifetime, not just per month.
With this in mind, here are seven good reasons claiming Social Security early might make sense.
1. You don’t believe you’ll reach the average life expectancy
Among the many factors to be considered when deciding the right claiming age is your health. 
Imagine for a moment that we had two identical people with the exact same work history, earnings history, and birth year. One claimed their benefit as early as possible at age 62, and the other waited until age 70. Though the one who waited receives a higher monthly payout, the person filing early receives a reduced payout, but for eight years prior to the 70-year-old netting his or her first check. 
Now, imagine we examined the aggregate payout of these two identical individuals over time. What we’d see is that their lifetime payouts from Social Security would be about equal when they reached their late 70s  which is right where the average American life expectancy sits at the moment. 
Therefore, if you have a chronic health condition that could shorten your life expectancy, or if anyone in your immediate family has passed away before reaching the average life expectancy in the U.S. of just under 79 years, then claiming your benefit early might be a smart way to maximize what you’ll be paid over your lifetime.
2. You expect Social Security to play no role in your ability to make ends meet
Another reason claiming Social Security early might make sense is if you’ve done a good job of saving for retirement and you don’t need the income provided by the program to make ends meet. 
Today’s statistics are pretty glaring. According to an April 2018 Gallup poll, 90% of existing retirees are in some capacity reliant on their Social Security income to make ends meet. Meanwhile, a Gallup survey among nonretirees found that a combined 84% expect to lean on the program in some capacity when they retire. This suggests that only around 1 out of 10 working Americans will save enough over his or her lifetime to not need a dime from Social Security.
Should you be among this minority, claiming your benefits early may offer two benefits. First, it could provide icing-on-the-cake income that allows you to vacation or take up hobbies. 
Secondly, by claiming early and reducing your monthly payout, you might, to some small degree, lower your annual federal (and possibly state) income tax bill. 
3. You have no other sources of income or limited earning capacity
Sometimes we may have little choice but to claim Social Security benefits early. For example, if you’re out of work and have no other sources of income, or for whatever reason your earning capacity is limited, it might be in your best interest to claim Social Security benefits early and secure an income stream that’ll allow you to pay your bills. 
However, there is a Social Security do-over clause that seniors (especially baby boomers) who’ve struggled to find work should be aware of. Known as Form SSA-521 (officially, Request for Withdrawal of Application), this request allows an individuals’ benefits claim to be undone if submitted within 12 months of first receiving their entitlement. The catch is that you’ll need to repay every cent you’ve received from the Social Security Administration, and, as noted, you only have 12 months to submit your request once you begin receiving benefits. 
The beauty of Form SSA-521 is that if you regret claiming benefits early, and you happen to land a well-paying job not long after you begin taking benefits, you have the opportunity to undo your claim and allow your benefits to grow once more. 
4. You’re heavily indebted
More and more, debt is becoming a worry for senior citizens. In 2014, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released data showing that the percentage of homeowners aged 65 and up that were carrying mortgage debt had climbed from 22% in 2001 to 30% as of 2011. For folks aged 75 and up, the percentage more than doubled to 21.2% in 2011 from 8.4% in 2001. 
Making matters worse, student loan debt is also impacting seniors. According to a Government Accountability Office report from December 2016, the number of student loan borrowers aged 65 and up had increased 385% since 2005. Meanwhile, the aggregate amount of student loan debt these older Americans are lugging around catapulted from $2 billion in 2005 to $22 billion, as of the report. 
The solution to this mess may very well be to claim Social Security benefits early in order to put that income to work by reducing debt. But keep in mind that this may not be a fix-all solution, especially since the retirement earnings test could come into play if you’re working and receiving benefits. This could result in some, or all, of your benefits being withheld until you reach your full retirement age.
5. You’re a lower-earning spouse
Another scenario where claiming early can make a lot of sense is if you’re married and your lifetime earnings are notably lower than that of your spouse. 
Ideally, you and your spouse are going to work out a plan to maximize what you’ll receive from the program over your lifetime. This plan will likely involve allowing the larger of the two incomes to grow as much as possible. Letting the larger payout accrue 8% per year is going to make a bigger difference down the line than if the smaller payout were allowed to grow over time. 
However, married retirees are still going to want some form of income. That’s where the lower-earning spouse comes into play. By claiming benefits early, the lower-earning spouse ensures that the couple is generating at least some income during retirement. 
Obviously this scenario depends on other factors, such as the size of the couple’s nest egg and their health. Nevertheless, it can be a smart way for a lower-earning spouse to contribute, while giving the higher-earning spouse the time to allow his or her benefit to grow. 
6. You’re confident in your ability to grow your money at greater than 8% per year
Claiming Social Security benefits early might also make sense if you believe that you can consistently outpace the 8% return you’d receive each year by holding off on your claim between ages 62 and 70. 
Why would someone believe they can top an 8% annual return with consistency? As an example, since hitting its Great Recession low in March 2009, the broad-based S&P 500 has risen 327%. That’s an annualized return through Aug. 19, 2018 of about 16.6% per year. If you’d taken your Social Security benefits and invested them into stocks since March 2009, there’s a pretty good chance you’d have beaten the 8% annual return you’d get with Social Security. 
However — and this is a very big “however”  the data I provided above involves some serious cherry-picking. Historically, the stock market has returned 7% per year, inclusive of dividend reinvestment and when adjusted for inflation. Since timing investments in the stock market can’t be done with any long-term consistency, the data would suggest that your chances of finding an investment (stock market related or not) that can top 8% annually on a regular basis are pretty slim. 
In other words, this is an option that very few people are going to find attractive or worthwhile. 
7. You worry about Congress’s ability to fix Social Security’s issues
Finally, taking Social Security early could make sense if you foresee trouble ahead for the program and have little faith in lawmakers’ ability to fix it. 
According to the newest annual report from the Social Security Board of Trustees, the program will begin burning through its $2.9 trillion in asset reserves this year. Though this net cash outflow will start off very small  $1.7 billion in 2018 and $0.2 billion in 2019  it’s expected to balloon to $169 billion in 2027. By 2034, the Trustees believe that Social Security’s $2.9 trillion in excess cash will be completely depleted. 
Now, before you panic, Social Security will continue to pay eligible beneficiaries, even without any extra cash in its coffers. Its payroll tax and the taxation of benefits will ensure that happens. 
But the Trust’s net cash outflow is an indication that the current payout schedule isn’t sustainable. The Trustees estimate the need for an across-the-board cut to benefits of up to 21% by 2034. Put in another context, claiming benefits early, even at a reduced rate, may allow you to generate more in lifetime income than if you waited a few years for a higher monthly payout, but were eventually hit with a 21% reduction in benefits. 
Admittedly, though, it’s impossible to predict how long it’ll take Congress to act, or what lawmakers on Capitol Hill will eventually do to amend the program. That makes an early claim based on Social Security’s long-term issues a bit of a gamble.

getting_over_breakupHere’s some truth about breakups: Every single one of them totally, completely, utterly sucks. Even if your partner was no bueno, even if you were the one who ended things, even if it was an amicable split, a breakup can sometimes leave you facing a serious identity loss. 
But, hi, grieving the death of a relationship is totally a real thing-and no one expects you to bounce back overnight. So what is the appropriate amount of time it takes to get over a split? Well, depends a lot on who you’re asking. 
1. Screw the timeline
Whether you were the dumper or the dumpee, there are no rules. In other words, there’s no designated time frame for getting over a breakup. Putting a timeline on your breakup can slow down your healing process.“The best way to speed things along is to just let ourselves feel what we feel as fully as we can
2. Feel at your own pace
Eventually, you’ll have mourned your loss well enough to either channel your best Rihanna and embrace single life for a bit, or start dating new people. And truth be told, there’s really no exact amount of time for this. But, if you are comparing potential partners based on how much they are or are not like your ex, you’re still healing “You’ve moved on when you can get to know someone on their own terms versus as a comparison,” 
3. Date for love, not fear
Still on the fence about whether you’re ready to start swiping again? Ask yourself if your actions are being lead by love or fear. “If you’re dating because you’re afraid to be alone, desperate to stop hurting, or certain that nobody will ever find you attractive again, those are fears,” I say “Being lead by love means trusting that you have a lot to give, and being excited about the possibilities of a new partnership.”
4. Learn from the relationship
Love stories (and breakups) are far from one-dimensional-there are bad times, good times, things you loved about the relationship, and issues that were maybe too big to overcome. Before you can fully move on, figure out how the story of this relationship fits into the larger story of your life. Know that every relationship is a lesson learned, so decide what you want to take away from this one and into your next partnership. 
Write yourself a letter about why things ended-which, will come in extra handy if you find yourself temped to hook up with your ex down the road (which is generally a recipe for more pain and confusion).
5. Get under someone to get over someone (but only if you want to)
And only if you won’t experience an emotional hangover post-sex (like, if you’re fine and willing to accept the sex for what it is: rebound sex). 
Know that a one-night-stand likely won’t lead to something long-term, but the age-old saying actually does have some truth to it if you’re emotionally prepared for the effects. “Love is a delicious cocktail of neurohormones, so you actually go through a kind of drug withdrawal after a breakup. As long as you understand it’s a rebound and a replacement drug, don’t be judgmental of yourself for moving on “too soon.”
6. Give yourself a clean break
We’ve all been there. We know it’s very tempting to stalk an ex on Instagram or text them after a second glass of wine, but it will only reignite old feelings and drag out your pain. You lost a piece of yourself and your brain has to heal in order for you to move on. So block them on social media, delete them from your phone, and find a new coffee shop. A proper separation means setting healthy boundaries for yourself and completely cutting your ex out of your life-both online and IRL. The sooner you cut out your ex, the faster you can move on. 
7. Self-care is key
In the meantime, as your feelings shift from cynicism into exciting possibility, surround yourself with good people who love you for you and remind you how lovable you are. So plan brunch with your sister, have a girls’ night in with your besties, or cuddle your dog. Don’t let yourself be defined by the breakup; instead, see this as the perfect time to refuel your passions for cooking and horse-back riding that fell to the wayside.
And don’t forget about doin’ you: Eat well, sleep well, hit the gym, and schedule regular massages (for the touch and dopamine boost). Promise: you’ll be back to feeling like your old, amazing self-and reclaiming your belief in love-in no time.