Are Your Workouts Effective?

 

Many people think they have to spend hours in the gym to get in shape. They think if they can’t put an hour into a workout, then why waste the time working out. The truth is, it’s not about the time you put in, but the quality of your workouts.

I see so many people mindlessly going through their workouts with poor form. In addition to poor form, I see the overachievers with heavy weights using momentum and performing their reps way too fast. Consider putting more thought into your workouts and each exercise. Focus on controlling the weight and contracting the muscle; it will make a tremendous difference in your workouts.

Therefore, can you do less with more focus and still get a great workout AND accomplish your goals?

 

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Ask yourself these 5 questions:

  1. What am I trying to achieve in my workout today? Is my goal to build muscle, build cardiovascular endurance, work on flexibility, or do I want to bust through a plateau with some interval training? If you don’t know what the purpose of your workout is, you won’t get the results you are trying to achieve.
  2. Are you challenged with your workout? Is it intense enough? Is your weight challenging enough to make it difficult to get through your last few reps?
  3. Are you wasting time in the gym, too much rest between sets? Are you socializing too much- Are you wasting time on social media?
  4. Is your mind on your workout? Are you focused and present to give your workout all you got??
  5. Are you getting results from your workouts that match the time you spend each week on your training?

The truth is, if you’ve ever tried a circuit workout, in which you perform exercises with very little rest between sets, you will realize that you can get an amazing workout in less than 20 minutes.

RE: Jillianmichaels.com reports circuit training is an excellent way to simultaneously improve mobility, strength, and stamina. The circuit training workout is composed of two to six different circuits, each containing two or more strength/cardio exercises that are completed one right after the other, with little or no rest in between. The strength training works your muscles, and the cardio keeps your heart rate up.

Here’s is my sample circuit:

Pushups- 12

Jump squats -12

Pull-ups- 8

Burpees- 12

Squat with bicep curl -12

Tricep Pushup/Plank Jack combo-12

Plank- 1 minute

Repeat 3x

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Creamy Chocolate Power Smoothie

 

This is one of the best shakes I’ve ever made. It was smooth and creamy and tasted just like a delicious chocolate milkshake.

Here’s the recipe:

8 oz of organic almond milk

1/2 banana

1/3 avocado

1 scoop plant-based chocolate protein powder

2 tbsp of organic cocoa

1 tsp of flaxseed

2 tbsp of organic tahini or nut butter

ice cubes

Place in processor and blend until creamy; top with blueberries to add antioxidants!

 

Don’t Let The Weekend Destroy Your Progress

 

I love Fridays! It’s the end of the week and I like to start the weekend off right with a great workout. If you are like most of us, the weekend means relaxing and splurging on some “not so healthy food choices.” But there’s nothing wrong with that; life is all about balance. So how do you adjust your goals on the weekend so that you don’t destroy all the grueling work you put in during the week?

I don’t know about you, but I love to eat and enjoy working out; it makes me feel good about myself. Sure it would be a lot easier on the weekends to lay on the couch and eat junk food. But what about all your killer workouts, planning your meals,  and eating healthy all week? Surely you don’t want to destroy that progress over the weekend.

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To keep on track with my goals, I know realistically that I’m going to be splurging a little on the weekend.  Therefore it makes sense for me to offset the extra calories with extra activity.

Tip # 1: Increase your activity level. I typically get up early on the weekends and try to do at least a couple of miles on the treadmill.  If I don’t have time for that, I simply do a “high-intensity interval training workout” such as this from:  Muscle and Fitness

–> Perform circuit two times.
–> Rest as little as possible.

30 Bodyweight squats
10 Elevated pushups (feet on a bench)
30 Lunges (total, not per side)
10 Inverted rows (lying on the ground underneath a fixed bar)
30 Side-to-side hops (total)
10 Inverted rows
30 Close-grip pushups (either on knees or standard)
10 Underhand inverted rows
30 Jumping jacks
10 Burpees
30 Diagonal lunges (total, not per side)

Either rest for 1-2 minutes or jog in place for 1-2 minutes (repeat)

These type of workouts are super effective and burns loads of calories.  Dr Josh Axe reports that High Intensity Training

Research from the past decade continues to report that high intensity interval training actually balances both leptin and ghrelin, which increases fat burn and weight loss. In fact, burst training is one of the best ways to best manage unhealthy hunger behavior and maximize ghrelin and leptin to lose weight.

I also try to make sure I use my activity tracker on the weekends to help motivate me to get my steps in (either by moving more throughout the day or from my workouts).

 

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Read my article below for the benefits of  tracking your steps on a daily basis:

Do You Need An Activity Tracker?

Tip #2: Drink more water.  Stay hydrated on the weekend. This simple tip will curb your appetite, help prevent dehydration, and give you energy.

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Just check out the benefits for drinking water- especially number 7:   Healthline.com reports in   7 Science-Based Health Benefits of Drinking Enough Water

In two studies, drinking half a liter (17 ounces) of water was shown to increase metabolism by 24-30% for up to 1.5 hours (2627).

This means that drinking 2 liters of water every day can increase your total energy expenditure by up to 96 calories per day.

The timing is important too, and drinking water half an hour before meals is the most effective. It can make you feel more full, so that you eat fewer calories (2829).

In one study, dieters who drank half a liter of water before meals lost 44% more weight, over a period of 12 weeks (30).

It’s easy to keep on track with your water intake by just following these rules:

Drink water:  Upon arising, with morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack and with the evening meal. This schedule will keep you hydrated and help prevent overeating.

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So when the weekend rolls around, enjoy yourself. But stay on track by scheduling your water breaks and increasing your activity. Take a walk at lunch, park further away from the office, or take the stairs. It all adds up.

If you don’t have time to fit in a workout, try to break the workouts into ten-minute segments. Ten minutes in the morning upon arising and then another mini-workout on your lunch hour or after work. It’s all about priorities and staying on track with your goals.

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Enjoy your weekend!

 

Friday Get Lean Circuit Training

“Some are born strong and others are made strong.”
― J.R. Rim

Check with your physician before beginning any exercise program.

Begin with a warm-up for 7-10 minutes:

 

Perform each exercise for 12 reps repeating each circuit three times before advancing to the next circuit. Don’t forget to warm-up and cool down. Hydrate before during and after your workout.

CIRCUIT ONE:

  • Pushback Push up- 12 reps
  • Barbell Row With Bicep Curl- 12 reps
  • Bench Side Squat With Abduction – 8 Reps each leg- Right leg 8 reps/ 12 mountain climbers– Left leg 8 reps/12 mountain climbers

CIRCUIT TWO:

  •  Barbell Squat- 12 reps
  •  Clean and Press- 12 reps
  •   Barbell Squat with Bicep Curl- 12 repsPlank Jacks 12 reps

 

 

CIRCUIT THREE:

 

  •  Barbell Chest Press- 12 reps
  • Barbell Tricep Press- 12 reps
  • DB Rear Delt/ Side Raise– 12 reps each- Abs In & Outs 12 reps

 

Cool down/ Stretch

 

 

 

Your Life, Your Choices

 

“Regaining health is more difficult an objective then becoming ill. Becoming ill is a random act of ignorance and regaining health is an intentional effort in frustration.” 
― Richard Diaz

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Although hereditary factors can play a part in some diseases, you have more control over your health than you think. Your body is an amazing machine designed to heal if it senses a threat, but poor daily food choices and inactivity can lead to permanent damage. There comes a point where your body gives in and stops fighting.

Once this occurs there is often damage that can’t be reversed. Diabetes can lead to blindness, loss of limbs, and even coma. Heart disease and hypertension can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Your choices could leave you dependent on others for your care.

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But the good news is you can change your future. You have a choice every day to make better decisions regarding your health.

Don’t wake up one day and regret the opportunities you had to create a healthy lifestyle, and live a better quality of life.

FOLLOW THESE TIPS TO CREATE A HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE :

  • Monitor your weight- Although it’s important not to obsess over the scales and weighing yourself daily, you do need to check your weight periodically. Gaining just a few pounds each year can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Make a point to weigh yourself once a week and log your results. If you notice a slight gain of a couple of pounds, then simply increase your activity and cut back on portion sizes. Tracking your weight on a regular basis will help you avoid extra pounds that can creep up over the years.
  • Remain active– Staying active is a key factor in improving health and maintaining an optimum weight as you age. Today more than ever, people tend to lead a more sedentary lifestyle. Many people have desk jobs and find it difficult to incorporate exercise into their schedule. However, it’s important to remain active so you can enjoy a good quality of life as you age. Brisk walking is a great cardiovascular exercise and you may want to consider walking or biking to work. Perhaps you can fit exercise in by taking a walk on your lunch break or joining a gym close to work. Many gyms are now 24 hours making it easier than ever to fit workouts into your schedule. It’s important to find an activity you enjoy and schedule your workouts on your calendar.
  • Avoid processed foods- Processed foods are typically high in calories and contain chemicals and toxins that can lead to weight gain. If you frequently eat out, try to select grilled lean meat without sauces. Select a salad, baked potato, or steamed vegetables as a side dish. Try to cook and eat most of your meals at home. Purchase organic fruits and vegetables when possible and experiment with healthy new recipes you’ve always wanted to try.
  • Do resistance training- Weight training is vital as you get older. Studies show that muscle mass declines with age. Muscle mass peaks around the mid-twenties; starts to decline in our thirties, and picks up speed as we age. Weight training helps you maintain a healthy metabolism and helps combat the loss of muscle tone as you get older. Lifting weights 2-3 times a week can play a major role in maintaining your strength and muscle tone. Therefore, if you are already strength training, you are on the right track! If not, it’s never too late to pick up a set of weights and get started.

Take control of your health starting today! Make the decision to heal rather than kill. It’s all about our daily choices.

Weekend Six Pack Ab Challenge

It’s important to fuel your body if you want to get the most from your workouts. This morning, I started with a glass of lemon water, grapefruit, and a protein smoothie. This provides me with the proper nutrients for instructing a calorie torching circuit workout. I plan to finish my class with my weekend ab challenge – the 300. Give it a try and let me know how you like it.

Smoothie: 8 Oz of organic almond milk, a handful of organic spinach, 1/2 of organic banana, 1 tbsp of organic flaxseed oil, 1/2 cup of organic raspberries and blueberries, 1/2 cup of greek yogurt

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Killer TRX Cardio Core Workout

I’ve been teaching a TRX six-week challenge class the past six weeks and incorporated a focus on mindful eating, food choices, and a change of routine. I love TRX, AKA suspension training. TRX is a great way to build core strength, burn fat, and increase strength and mobility.

Suspension training can be done with a convenient strap system that’s inexpensive and easy to transport to any workout space.

TRX was developed by a Navy SEAL, Randy Hetrick to train during deployment. It is a portable workout system that combines your bodyweight with gravity. The intensity of all exercises can be made more difficult by adjusting the angle of the body.

This six-week challenge has really helped me to break through a plateau and increase lean muscle. Additionally, my challenge group has managed to successfully improve their nutrition, lose inches, and reduce body fat. This is one of the best workouts for the core and to help define the abs.

Try my killer TRX workout below for some of my favorite suspension training exercises incorporated into a circuit (repeat 3x) Let me know how you like! Don’t forget to add a warm-up and cool down.

  1. TRX Squat With High Row (10 Reps)

2. Jump back Push Ups (10 Reps)

3. Trx Pike Crunch (10 Reps)

4. Burpee Mountain Climber (10 Reps)

5. TRX Hamstring Runner (10 Reps)

6. Up-Down Plank (10 Reps)

Clean Eating, Red Wine, & Chocolate

“There are those people who can eat one piece of chocolate, one piece of cake, drink one glass of wine. There are even people who smoke one or two cigarettes a week. And then there are people for whom one of anything is not even an option.”
― Abigail Thomas, Thinking About Memoir

Here is a sample of my meals during the week. I try to eat clean most of the time but splurge occasionally on a glass of wine and dark chocolate.  Take advantage of your cheat meals, but remember it’s all about balance and moderation.

 

Breakfast: Pick One

  1. Avocado toast- smash 1 tbsp of avocado, add egg, 1 tsp of shredded mozzarella plus  a small organic apple
  2. Package of organic oats (make sure you check sugar grams on nutritional level (opt for less than 15) topped with 1/2 cup of organic blueberries and 1 tsp of walnuts
  3. Lara bar or Quest Bar and 10 raw almonds

Lunch: Pick One

  1. Two cups of organic spinach- one small grilled chicken breast (sliced) – top with 1/2 sliced avocado and 1 cup of fresh strawberries or mandarin orange slices. (Dressing – 1 tbsp of greek yogurt mixed with 1/2 tsp of avocado oil).
  2. One can of tuna- mixed with 1/3 sliced avocado (smashed) and 1 tbsp of greek yogurt. Add sliced boiled egg, sliced cucumbers, celery, and tomato. Side of organic apple slices topped with 1 tbsp of nut butter.
  3.  Veggie burger (Beyond Burger, Quorn, Etc) Cook according to directions: Make an open face burger using one slice of organic bread/ or (Ezekiel) add veggies, sliced avocado, onions, tomato, fresh spinach and a thin slice of real cheese. Side of baked sweet potato, and spinach salad.

Snacks: Pick Two

  1. Serving of Greek yogurt- top with berries (optional add-ins – one scoop of protein powder, top with nuts
  2.  Boiled eggs, 10 raw almonds
  3. Organic Baby Carrots and hummus
  4. Apple slices and nut butter
  5. Plain rice cake with sliced turkey or chicken plus a serving of grapes
  6. Rice cake with almond butter and sliced banana

Dinner: Select one serving of meat (palm of the hand), One complex carb, Two Green Veggies

Pick one: One serving of grilled chicken breast, grass-fed burger, or salmon

Pick one Complex Carb: One serving of rice, sweet potato, 1/2 baked potato, or side of pasta

Pick two: Asparagus, fresh spinach, broccoli, zucchini, cucumber, green beans, kale

The Importance Of Fueling Before And After Workout

Our bodies need to be properly hydrated and nourished to function at optimal levels.  Proper nutrition is vital to feed our cells, boost metabolism, and provide fuel for an active lifestyle. If you want to maximize your workout results, make sure to follow these tips:

Pre-Workout Fuel:

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Water– You should drink water before, during and after your workout. WWW.WebMD.Com reports:  Drink fluids throughout the day before you exercise. Then follow this formula :

  • One to two hours before your workout, drink 15 to 20 ounces of water
  • 15 minutes before you begin, drink between 8 and 10 ounces of water
  • During your workout, drink another 8 ounces every 15 minutes.

Complex Carbohydrates/Protein: Medical News Today reports:

Ideally, a person should eat a meal rich in complex carbohydrates and protein around 2–3 hours before exercising.

Avocado and eggs, on organic whole wheat toast

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Organic oats with berries, greek yogurt, and walnuts

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Post-Workout Fuel:  Fuel your body with a good source of protein, carbohydrates,  healthy fats and water to help muscle growth and repair. It’s ideal to get a snack or a light meal within 20 to 30 minutes after your workout.

Protein Smoothie –   Almond milk, scoop of whey protein, blueberries, 1/2 cup of greek yogurt, tbsp organic coconut oil, tbsp flax seed

 

Additional post workout fuel ideas via Very Well FIt:

  • Brown rice and boneless skinless chicken breast – Prepare with your favorite low-sodium spices or salsa for a nutritious recovery meal. This can be done in the crockpot, stovetop, or oven. Some athletes prefer white rice over brown to reduce possible stomach upset. 
  • Power smoothie – Blend your favorite fruit with plain yogurt, almond milk, soy or favorite tolerated dairy, some water, and ice. A great boost of healthy fats can be added with a spoonful of your favorite nut butter. 
  • Egg scramble – Easy one-skillet meals where one whole egg, egg whites, vegetables, and sweet potatoes can be tossed with favorite spices and sprinkled with fresh black pepper. 
  • Pass the peanut butter – The all-American favorite sandwich on whole-grain sprouted toast is a post-workout pleaser. Leave off the sugared jam and enjoy with a drizzle of local honey. This nutrient-dense meal contains quality plant protein, healthy fat, and high fiber. 
  • Check the leftovers – What you cooked the night before is calling your name and ready to refuel that body. Do you have cooked quinoa ready to go? Toss on salad greens and sprinkle with balsamic for a well-balanced meal.
  • Wrap it up – Whole grain high fiber wraps are a great start to a wonderful recovery meal. Add some fresh avocado, lean meat of your choice, greens, beans or whatever suits the theme of the wrap, roll up and enjoy.

Additional snacks to enjoy recommended by the American Council on Exercise:

  • Non-fat Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup fruit or banana. 
  • Banana with 1 tablespoon almond or nut butter.
  • Low-fat chocolate milk
  • 4 ounces of albacore tuna on 1 slice whole grain toast.
  • Whole wheat English muffin or whole wheat pita topped with a slice of low sodium turkey meat and hummus.
  • Protein shake with 2 scoops whey protein and 1/2 banana blended with water.

Please Tell Me What To Eat

So it’s our discomfort – and even disgust – with the joy of eating that frightens us. And that’s because of a culture that tells us, in a thousand ways, from the time we first start solid foods, that this comfort cannot be trusted. That we cannot be trusted to know what and how much to eat. We must outsource this judgment to experts who know better – first to our parents, then to teachers; then to food gurus and big brands, who sell us on diets, cleanses, food dogmas, and “lifestyle changes.” We cede our knowledge, our own personal relationship with food, to an entire world built on the premise that we don’t know how to feed ourselves.~Virginia Sole-Smith

Our anxiety about food leaves many of us overweight and never satisfied. We define food as good, bad, healthy, and unhealthy. Many of us have a destructive relationship with food that’s a constant source of anxiety and frustration.

There are those of us who spend most of our adult life in search of the perfect diet. Many people have jumped on the bandwagon to follow the Keto diet or intermittent fasting in hopes of finally reaching that perfect number on the scale. And there are those more desperate who try diet pills with the promise they will magically transform their bodies without changing eating habits or exercising.

Our bodies are amazing, complex machines that are designed to provide us with true signals of thirst and hunger. But the truth is we’ve destroyed our natural hunger cues. We associate food with our emotions and stuff ourselves with processed foods containing foreign substances our bodies don’t recognize.

Many of us eat while watching television, commuting to work, talking on the phone, and a multitude of other distracting activities. We’ve lost the experience of savoring and enjoying meals. Many of us scarf down our food in less than ten minutes and wonder why we are still hungry when we’re done?

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Have you noticed most grocery store displays are cleverly positioned in the middle of the aisles, stocked with junk foods designed to catch our eye and make our mouths water? Our bodies are bombarded daily with chemicals from manufactured foods that have left our taste buds numb and with little desire for “real food.”  Therefore, we find ourselves unsatisfied and craving junk food that is shoved down our throat every day via food product marketing and the media. And how many commercials do we see on a daily basis filling our brains with images of mouth-watering junk and processed foods?

Wouldn’t it be nice if grocery stores flooded the main aisles with fresh fruits and vegetables?

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Medical News Today reports:

Many processed foods have been engineered to be so incredibly “rewarding” to the brain, that they overpower anything we might have come across in nature.

We have complicated mechanisms in our bodies and brains that are supposed to regulate energy balance (how much we eat and how much we burn) which, until very recently in evolutionary history, worked to keep us at a healthy weight.

There is quite a lot of evidence that the reward value of foods can bypass the innate defense mechanism and make us start eating much more than we need, so much that it starts to compromise our health

Another interesting study reported the significance of nutrient intake and cravings,  Changing perceptions of hunger on a nutrient dense diet

-Joel Fuhrman, reports:

One of the common barriers to weight loss is the uncomfortable sensation of hunger that drives overeating and makes dieting fail, even in those who are obese from over-consumption of calories. Over the past two decades we have worked closely with approximately twenty thousand patients in a private suburban family practice in New Jersey specializing in nutritional interventions for weight loss and disease prevention/management. Our experience is that enhancing the micronutrient quality of the diet even in the context of a substantially lower caloric intake dramatically mitigates the experience of hunger. A diet high in micronutrients appears to decrease food cravings and overeating behaviors. Sensations such as fatigue, weakness, stomach cramps, tremors, irritability and headaches, commonly interpreted as “hunger”, resolve gradually for the majority of people who adopt a high nutrient density diet, and a new, less distressing, sensation (which we label “true” or “throat” hunger) replaces it.

 

This study suggested that a diet high in processed foods resulted in inflammation causing sensations of “toxic hunger” which resulted in withdrawal symptoms, and overeating. Those on a nutrient dense diet more often experienced true hunger and a decrease in overeating and cravings.

Please Tell Me What To Eat

As a personal trainer, the majority of my clients want to know about the latest diet craze and want me to tell them what to eat. Although it’s a good idea to track nutrients to assure you are getting sufficient amounts of protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats; the truth is, there is no perfect diet. Many who lose weight on diets often gain the weight back once they return to old eating patterns. The key is to get back to basics and retrain your brain by adding more nutrient dense foods and gradually decreasing processed foods. Our bodies need real food to stay healthy and function properly. You can’t go wrong by going back to nature for the PERFECT DIET containing fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

Therefore, it important to make gradual dietary changes to increase the likelihood of adapting to a more healthy plant-based diet. Drastic dietary changes are often unsuccessful and leave us more obsessed with labeling foods as good and bad. Instead of subtracting unhealthy foods you currently enjoy, try adding more fruits and veggies to your current meals. Learn to enjoy the experience of planning meals, researching new recipes, and cooking real food. Begin to train your brain to pay attention to real hunger cues by practicing mindful eating. Before you know it, your body will respond by craving nutrients from fresh fruits and vegetables instead of junk and processed foods.

 

We don’t need others to tell us what and when to eat. Our bodies are designed to tell us when we are hungry and what nutrients we need. There is nothing wrong with occasional splurges of your favorite dessert, pizza, or fries, but learn to enjoy these foods in moderation. Getting back to our true hunger can be accomplished by practicing Mindful Eating- 10 Simple Ways To Celebrate Your Meals.

Food is a large part of our lives. It should be enjoyed and celebrated. Learn to make peace with food by practicing these following tips for mindful eating:

  1. Plan your meals– Search for recipes and make a grocery list- explore new foods, herbs, spices.
  2. Make your plate colorful- Prepare a beautiful plate. Use your best china. Many people save their best china for a special occasion. Make every meal a special occasion. Celebrate food, celebrate each day of your life.
  3. Turn off the television, take a break from your phone– It’s hard to be mindful and tune into your meals when on social media, watching television or texting. Put your phone away and turn the TV off.
  4. Take time before your meal to be thankful- Take a moment before your meals to realize how lucky you are to have a place to sit, a roof over your head, and food to eat. There are much less fortunate who don’t.
  5. Chew your food– Don’t gulp down your food. Slow down and chew it completely.
  6. Take small bites- Use a fork and knife and cut small pieces.
  7. Really taste it. Savor the smell, the taste, the texture.
  8. Enjoy a glass of wine– If you like wine, experiment with different types and explore and research pairing your wine with different foods.
  9. Make it a celebration– We all love celebrations. Make this family time or just time alone to relax, unwind and enjoy your meal. Make your meal something to look forward to every day.
  10. Don’t rush it!- Take time to cook! Get the family involved cutting up veggies, setting the table and then turn onto mindful eating. As you experience the wonderful meal you prepared, think about all you have in your life to be grateful for!