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June 17, 2009

6 Essential Nutrients

Good afternoon!  It’s Jeff from the Self Help Tips Blog.  Today I would like to discuss 6 essential nutrients that you might be leaving out of your diet.


Fiber is the indigestible part of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Whole grains and cereal fiber can lower your heart disease risk by 30%.  To increase the fiber in your diet to the recommended 14g for every 1,000 calories eaten, eat a 1/2 cup serving of Fiber One cereal and add more beans to your diet with lentil soup.  Use whole-grain bread and add more fruits and vegetables to your meals.

Magnesium and Potassium

Magnesium and potassium are linked to blood pressure control, protection from osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes and stroke.  To get more magnesium, eat a half-cup of bran and cooked spinach daily.  For more potassium, have sweet potatoes, white potatoes, white beans and bananas.


Calcium provides the raw material for building your teeth and bones.  It prevents bone-thinning osteoporosis, contributes to healthy blood pressure and can reduce the risk of colon cancer.  To have the right amount of calcium in your diet, drink three glasses of low-fat or fat-free milk every day, or have eight ounces of fat-free yogurt and 2-3 ounces of low-fat cheese each day.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A cares for and maintains our eyes, the linings of the respiratory, intestinal and urinary tracts, and the quality of our skin.  To add more vitamin A to your diet, increase your intake of darkly-pigmented foods.  These include carrots, spinach, kale, winter squash and a medium baked sweet potato.  They do not include lettuce or french fries.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is necessary in order for our bodies to create collagen, a glue that holds our skin, bones, blood vessels and skin together.  It also helps to make brain chemicals, neutralize damaging free radicals and metabolize cholesterol.  Vitamin C may also help the heart and reduce arthritis and diabetes.  To add vitamin C to your diet, simply drink a glass of orange juice or eat an orange every day.   Other helpful foods with vitamin C are kiwifruit, cantaloupe, brussels sprouts, strawberries, red or green bell peppers, and broccoli.

Vitamin E

Sufficient vitamin E also neutralizes free radicals to protect cells from damage, plays a role in the immune system, can help prevent the common cold and can lower the risk of Parkinson’s disease.  Foods heavy in vitamin E include almonds, sunflower kernels and sunflower oil in salad dressings, which helps you gain the nutrients from the vegetables and carry the vitamin E into the bloodstream.

By increasing your intake of these 6 essential nutrients, I hope that you will be able to live a longer, healthier and more enjoyable life.  Have a blessed day!

Filed under Nutrition by Jeff

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June 10, 2009

Summer Weight Loss Tips

Jeff here…

Good evening!  Thanks for continuing to read my Self Help Tips Blog. For those of us in the northern hemisphere, summer is finally upon us!  As a result, tonight I would like to discuss several tips that you can use to increase your chances for summer weight loss.

With good beach-going weather in our sights, it’s that time of year when everyone wants to look impressive in their "lack" of clothing.  While I can’t promise you that you’ll achieve a perfectly proportional model’s body, I can give you some simple but important tips for achieving a leaner physique.  Always remember: behavioral changes guarantee your success - not just knowledge alone.  You may have already decided on your nutritional plan and workouts, so take your strategy and ACT on it.  Stay motivated and consistently remind yourself of your fitness goal.  If you’re still having trouble, here are 11 basic tips to get you jumpstarted!

1. Cut the “simple” carbs.

It’s unfortunate that the majority of us are "carb junkies."  This applies to overweight individuals in particular, mainly because their bodies struggle with insulin sensitivity.  Our bodies definitely need carbohydrates, but we need to learn to appropriately reverse the ratio of simple carbs (high glycemic) to complex carbs (low glycemic). The most important thing to do is reduce your total sugar intake. Having a positive ratio of complex to simple carbs will allow your body to regulate blood sugar levels, burn more fat as fuel, and ultimately lose more weight.

2. Eat smaller, more frequent meals.

Smaller, frequent servings every 3 to 4 hours will prevent your blood sugar levels from dramatically spiking throughout the day.  As a result, your hormones will stay in check and in turn regulate your feelings of hunger.  Ultimately, small and frequent portions help elevate metabolism, take less of a toll on your digestive system and can eventually provide you with more energy throughout the day.

3. Consume more functional fats.

Essential fatty acids such as omega-6 and omega-3, consumed in appropriate ratios of 2:1 (or better yet at 1:1) will allow your body to regulate hormones, calm inflammation and stabilize blood sugar levels.  Eventually, doing so will lead to greater fat loss.  So suck it up, and buy your fish and flax oils at the local health food store.

4. Drink more water.

Water is often overlooked, but it is the number one nutrient that our bodies need to survive. Staying hydrated aids with digestion, curbs your appetite and flushes out metabolic waste.  Make sure to drink at least 64 ounces per day.

5. Increase your fiber intake.

Fiber keeps food moving along your gastrointestinal tract and much like water, it aids in flushing metabolic waste.  Fiber also helps maintain consistent energy levels, slows the rate of carbohydrate digestion and stabilizes blood sugar levels.

6. Limit your alcohol intake.

Not only is alcohol estrogenic (negatively affecting testosterone levels in men), but it can also lead to fat gain and has a whopping 7 nutrition-less calories per gram.  Even worse, it takes precedence over fat metabolism when introduced into the body.  Alcohol actually shuts down the fat burning mechanism for up to 48 hours, so avoid it as much as possible.

7. Spice up your metabolism.

Introducing a variety of spices into your food such as curry, cayenne pepper, jalapeños and certain herbs can help boost your metabolism.  Spices also help stabilize blood sugar levels.

8. Combine weight training with your cardio routine.

Even though aerobic exercises can burn a lot of calories, especially when maintained at a high intensity, you’ll achieve better results by combining them with resistance training.  I say this because proper resistance training will exert both of your muscles’ fiber types (Type 1 and Type 2).  When you effectively work your muscles, you either maintain, tone and strengthen your current muscle mass, or you might even gain some more muscle.  Every pound of muscle you gain equates to 50 extra calories that your body can burn per day.  So remember to hit the weights at least three times per week, along with your regular cardio routine.

9. Eat slower.

It seems like no one gets to sit down and have a nice, relaxing meal nowadays, especially with our increasingly hectic schedules.  Paying attention and learning how to slow down the pace at which we eat can prevent compulsive overeating and assists the digestive process.  It takes at least 20 minutes for your brain to realize when your body is full.  You worked hard for your meal… slow down, relax and enjoy it.

10. Be weary of food allergies.

Many people are allergic to dairy and wheat products.  Even mild allergic reactions to these two food categories have been known to cause weight gain.  If you’re consuming a diet that is high in refined foods, these sensitivities will become more apparent.  The allergic reactions can result in digestive problems such as bloating, stomach pain and water retention.  If you’re not sure about an allergy, you may want to consider taking an allergy test.

11. Get more antioxidants.

Getting your daily dose of antioxidants from a good multi-vitamin, a specific antioxidant supplement combination or even a healthy combination of fruits and vegetables is an important step in combating the toxins held in fat cells.  Antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, E, polyphenols in green tea and the lycopene in tomatoes can help your body reduce the time that toxins stay in your system.

Summer weight loss doesn’t have to be something that you can only dream of.  With the above tips, I hope that you will be able to work your way towards a toner, leaner and more attractive you. 

Filed under Exercise by Jeff

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May 25, 2009

Causes Of Fatigue

Good afternoon!  Thank you for reading the Self Help Tips Blog.  Best wishes to you and your family as we continue on into the transition from spring to summer.  Today I would like to discuss several different causes of fatigue.

Are you dragging yourself through another day, frustrated with your lack of energy and distracted by your need for rest?  Do you wake up after a full night’s sleep and still feel that it’s not enough to get you through the day ahead?  Is fatigue affecting your work, your relationships and your ability to enjoy life?

Fatigue is a common problem throughout many parts of the world, and the reason behind it can be simple to treat or require more intense scrutiny.  What follows is a list of several common causes of fatigue, which may shed light on why you are suffering.

A lack of sleep

Most adults need eight full hours of sleep every night in order for their bodies to get the rest that they need to repair and re-energize.  If you are not getting the full amount of sleep required, your body will start demanding it of you.

If you cannot wake up without an alarm or find yourself drifting off to sleep during the day, you should take immediate steps to provide your body with the sleep that it needs.

Other problems such as snoring or sleep apnea (brief episode of stopped breathing) can also affect your quality of sleep.  Any disturbance, including feeding infants or other sleep disruptions, can cause fatigue.

A lack of proper nutrients

Fast food and skipped meals will deplete your body of much-needed nutrients, and a lack of nutrients can cause fatigue.  The good news is that taking a multi-vitamin supplement will ensure that you are getting the nutrients that your body needs in order to function properly.  A balanced diet will further assist you in combating fatigue.


If continued fatigue is not corrected with enough sleep or by getting the proper nutrients, it may be connected to a hormone imbalance.

Detecting a hormonal imbalance will be more difficult to diagnose than a lack of sleep or proper nutrients.  The assistance of a knowledgeable health care professional who is familiar with the symptoms of hormone imbalance may be necessary in order to track down the hormone(s) responsible.

Lowered immunity

Fighting illness requires energy.  If a person has a lowered immune system, then the constant battle against infection can easily lead to an increased level of fatigue.

Low iron or high iron

Iron deficiency can lead to anemia, which causes fatigue.  Even a mild iron deficiency, which can be missed in typical bloodwork results, can still cause a person to experience fatigue.

On the other hand, iron overload is a condition that is caused when a person’s organs absorb and accumulate iron, which can reach toxic levels - a symptom of which can be fatigue.  Special tests can be used to diagnose low or high iron levels, which then must be followed up with proper treatment.

All work and no play

Emotionally draining activities (such as working too much) can result in physical fatigue.  Taking the time to participate in activities which stimulate and strengthen the body and mind are an essential step in conquering fatigue.  For starters, try working out at the gym, reading a good book or meditating.  All of these activities will help to relieve stress and relax your body and mind.

Regardless of the cause of your fatigue, you are not alone.  A recent survey revealed that nearly one-third of adults in the United States suffer from a lack of sleep.  Combined with other causes of fatigue outlined in this article, it’s safe to say that a majority of us feel tired at least some of the time.  With the above recommendations, I hope that you are able to find the relief that many of us are desperately looking for.  If you are unable to solve the problem on your own, please seek the advice of your physician.

Filed under Self Help, Sleep by Jeff

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May 21, 2009

How To Manage Stress

Hello!  It’s Jeff from the Self Help Tips Blog.  I hope everyone is blessed with as good of weather as we are currently experiencing here in Minnesota.  Today I would like to share a few more self help tips that you can use to manage stress.

The first thing that you should do if you are feeling stressed about a situation is stop what you are doing and ask yourself this question: will it matter next week, next month or next year?  If not, let it go.  Don’t worry about it unnecessarily.

Always remember to look at a situation from the other person’s point of view.  What would you do if you were in their shoes?  Remembering to do this can help a lot. You’ll probably come up with a solution to the problem that will be a win-win situation for both parties.  In doing so, the other person may even back down some, if they sense that you are trying to find a common solution.

If you have said or done something that is causing a rift between yourself and someone else and it’s bothering you or you feel bad about it, then you should definitely apologize. Nine times out of ten, you will both feel at least a little better about the situation.  For those of us who find it hard to admit that we are wrong, there is a way to apologize without admitting fault.  If you’ve made someone feel bad but you still think that you are right, you can say that you are sorry for making the person feel bad or upset.  This strategy works well and is better than not apologizing at all.

Wait before responding.  If you are upset, count to 10 before responding to someone.  Take that time to lighten your tone and response.  By taking 2 deep breaths before responding, whatever comes out will sound a lot better than if you don’t.  It’s also nice if you can respect the other person’s feelings.  Just state your feelings in a “matter of fact” kind of way.  Everyone has the right to their own opinion, whether right or wrong.

If you feel so busy at work that you can never take a break, try to at least stop for 30 seconds a few times per day to take a few deep breaths.  It will help you relax, clear your mind and re-focus your energy on the task at hand.

If you have a problem that you are not sure how to handle, try to find someone to talk to that will give you constructive advice.  You’ll need a mature person who can help you take a step back from the situation and make the right decision.

When you are away from work, try reading a good book or playing with your children in order to relax and get your mind off of things.  If you just supervise your (or someone else’s) children and don’t play with them, you are really missing out on some fun.

Exercise is another great stress reliever, and it also has lasting benefits.  It will release endorphins in your body that will change your mental outlook and make you feel better. Exercise will also reduce stress, lower your blood pressure and increase your immune system.  You don’t have to do anything formal, just walk a little, shoot some hoops, bike, swim or even play hop scotch with the kids.

Last but not least, be sure to get enough sleep.  Stop doing any kind of work or activity at least one hour before you go to bed.  You need to relax your mind.  Keep a pad of paper on your night stand.  If you remember something that you forgot to do, write it down so that you don’t have to worry about trying to remember it while you are sleeping.  Make sure your room is dark and quiet.  Wear ear plugs if necessary.  Sometimes, listening to a relaxing tape while in bed will help you relax and get to sleep.

In today’s fast-paced society, stress is almost unavoidable.  By utilizing the above techniques, I hope that you will be able to manage stress as life throws it at you, one curveball after another.  Good luck!

Filed under Stress by Jeff

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