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Superhero Pets

We’ve talked a great deal about the many ways people can be heroes, but we haven’t yet talked about how our four legged friends can also do amazing things for each other and their human counterparts. Many animals, dogs especially, have come to the aide of humans and other animals time and time again. They deserve our love and respect just as much as humans.  Here are a couple of videos to prove my point–animals can be heroes too–and many thanks to my friend David Daniel for reminding me about the first video.

After a committee composed of five persons reviewed this year’s nominees, they have finally announced that Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo is the winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.  Liu is currently serving an 11 year sentence for “inciting subversion of state power.” Liu was imprisoned in December of 2009 for his peaceful efforts to improve human rights in China. Liu learned of his award from his guards. Shortly after his wife was allowed to visit him in prison.

Liu demonstrates that being hero does not require force or violence. His constant vigilance, activism, and now his imprisonment and Nobel award have helped bring world attention to the human rights issue rampant in China. He is an example for us to follow. We should never be afraid to stand up for what we belive in. We should also look for peaceful ways to stand up for ourselves and others. The world is full of enough violence. The Nobel Peace Prize lives on to remind us that peace is possible so long as people are actively pursuing it.

Congratulations Liu. We hope that soon you will enjoy your freedom, but even more we hope that you will see your efforts realized in a fair and just China.

We’ve already talked about how heroes come in many shapes and sizes, but superheroes also become heroes for different reasons. The reasons are as varied as the type of heroes they become, but for the most part they can be broken down into two groups: proactive and reactive.

Proactive Heroes

Proactive heroes have a strong sense of justice and humanity. They see something wrong with the world and go out and look for ways to fix it. They have no other motivation than the fact that something in their heart is compelling them forward. It’s just something they have to do.

Reactive Heroes

The reactive hero, as the name suggests, becomes a hero in reaction to something. Usually it’s because of an injustice they experienced or one that was done to someone they care about. They react in a positive manner, doing everything they can to make sure that no one else has to endure the hardship they endured. It’s not that they were uncaring before, it’s just that now it is a personal mission and a way to take charge of the hurt inflicted on them.

Both heroes are noble and valuable even if they adopted their missions for very different reasons. So long as they are out their advocating for a better world it doesn’t matter why they became a hero. What does matter is that the world is better because of them.

Trust is a rare thing nowadays. Who can blame us with government and corporate corruption, scams preying on the elderly and unemployed, and crime television showing the worst for the worst in our society. What we don’t see are the millions of good, honest people who deserve trust and respect in return. It’s time to start rebuilding a culture of trust, but before you can learn to trust someone else you must first learn to trust in yourself.

You may not think its important but it is. A person who doesn’t believe in their own abilities cannot believe in someone else. Unfortunately, not everyone has a support system, a person or group who believes in their abilities and supports them in the journey to reach their potential. You have to believe in yourself if you ever want to have the life you want and if you ever expect someone else to trust you.

Start today by learning to:

  • Trust in Your Abilities: Each of us has a unique set of skills and talents. No two artists paint the same way, no two business men approach business the same way. What you have no one else has and no one else can give what you can give. Trust in your ability to provide something wonderful to the world.
  • Trust in Your Heart: You know what’s best for you. If something feels wrong, it probably is. Trust in your heart to tell which path to take.
  • Trust in Your Power to Learn and do Better: We all make mistakes, but even a terrible mistake isn’t the end of us. Trust in your ability to learn from your mistake and to use that knowledge to improve and do better next time.
  • Trust in Your Value: You matter. Despite your faults, mistakes, or even if anyone else recognizes it you matter. Trust that you bring value to this world, significant value, that cannot be replaced.

There will be times when your belief in yourself falters. You will have to remind yourself of your abilities, your heart, your ability to improve, and your value but you must if you ever want to achieve the superhero life.

We’ve all been there. Those moments when your behavior or performance is less than stellar. When you strut across an open bar not realizing your skirt is tucked into your underwear. When you attempt a feat of athletic skill only to end up in a firm faceplant on a gravel road while the Adonis or Aphrodite of your dreams looks on. The reply all button on a private email, the off color comment, the costly mistake on your quarterly report. Yeah, we’ve all been there.

What sets the hero apart is how they react to those less than heroic moments. No two heroes handle a bad situation the same way, and what works best for you depends on your comfort level and the severity of your infraction, but for those moments you don’t know what to do here are a few ideas:

  • Take a Bow: Make light of the situation and accept the sarcastic and well deserved applause. Whether you like it or not, your mistake just made someone’s day. Might as well take credit.
  • Assume Responsibility: Heroes aren’t perfect. In fact, it’s the imperfections that we love most. When you screw up–and yes you will on many occasions–accept responsibility and do everything in your power to rectify the situation. We respect those who falter and remedy the situation with grace more than the perfect specimen who never makes a mistake.
  • Move On: When something goes wrong, don’t dwell on the situation. Obsessing only makes things worse and keeps you from moving forward to bigger and better things.
  • Learn From It: We don’t learn from our success. We learn from our failures. Assess the situation with an objective eye and see which insights can be gleaned from your misstep.

Above all, take your bad moments with grace and keep plowing ahead. We can’t be perfect all the time and lets face it. Perfect is boring, and heroes don’t do boring.

We’ve all heard that a diet rich in fiber helps promote weight loss and fight disease such as cancer, but exactly how does fiber do that?

First of all, its important to understand that there are two different kinds of fiber—insoluble (dietary) and soluble. Insoluble fiber cannot be absorbed into the blood stream. Instead it promotes your digestive health by speeding up the removal of material in your digestive tract. By removing waste, insoluble fiber helps reduce the risk of such diseases as colon cancer and helps minimize discomfort from an unhealthy digestive system. Sources of insoluble fiber include whole grain cereals, wheat bran, and the skins of fruits and vegetables.

Soluble fiber is fiber that can be absorbed. This type of fiber has been shown to help lower bad cholesterol (which reduces your risk of heart disease) and helps with weight loss. This is because soluble fiber makes you feel fuller longer, causing you to eat less especially when paired with lean protein. Good sources of soluble fiber include oatmeal, beans and legumes, oat bran, barley, and citrus.
Health professionals suggest that the average adult consume 20 to 35 grams of dietary fiber per day. This goal can be met with a well-balanced, varied diet consisting of 5 servings of fruits and vegetables and at least 3 servings of whole grains.  A serving of a fiber supplement such as Metamucil 30 minutes before each meal will also help you get enough fiber and curb your appetite so you can avoid binging during meals.

Heroes know that an active mind is crucial to your daily superhero activities, but did you know it can also help prevent dementia, Alzheimer’s,  and other age related mental illness? Activities such as reading, doing puzzles, playing an instrument, or learning a new skill all help keep the mind active, sharp, and young. According to an article in Time Magazine, regularly challenging your mind with activities such as a crossword puzzle can reduce one’s chances of developing dementia by almost 50%!

It’s difficult to reverse mental illness once the first stages set in, so prevention truly is the best way to combat an aging mind. Activities for developing and keeping a young and healthy mind include:

  • puzzles
  • reading
  • playing a musical instrument
  • learning a new skill
  • problem solving such as math
  • gardening
  • art

Basically anything that engages multiple parts of the brain in an active manner. Of course, just like your body needs both exercise and a healthy diet, so does your mind so be sure to consume lots of water (to flush out impurities and stay hydrated), fruits and vegetables (full of powerful antioxidants), healthy oils like omega-3 (for brain development), and lean protein.

Would Batman be Batman without the batlike getup? Could Magento have been as menacing if his trusty helmet wasn’t blocking Professor X’s mental intrusions? Most likely not. The clothes don’t make the person, but they do go a long way to completing the persona and often give the superhero that extra boost of power they need to completely take the superhero plunge (remember Spiderman’s over-sized pajamas . . . exactly!)

No matter what kind of superhero you are–an environmental hero, teacher, police officer, volunteer, or socially conscious business owner–you need to dress the part if you want people to take you seriously. More than 90% of a person’s judgement of you is made before they ever hear you speak. Looks are the biggest part of the quintessential first impression, and yes first impressions do matter especially for the aspiring hero. You don’t want to start off with a bad impression. Witness, exhibit A:

Courtesy of the Fail Blog

A true superhero knows that to look the part they need to:

  1. Dress appropriately for the occasion: An environmental hero knows to wear comfy shoes and to come armed with trash bags and antibacterial hand lotion when attacking a dirty park. Just like a police officer doesn’t fight crime without his badge and uniform.
  2. No B-O for the Hero: Good hygiene is a must for any superhero. I’m not saying sacrifice personal style here. Piercings, tattoos, colored hair, and other expressions are all a-okay in the superhero handbook. What’s not good is offensive body odor, creepy toenails that look more like talons, and greasy hair and skin so slick we could oil down a whole fleet of semis (shutter).
  3. Clothes that fit: Clothes that are either too big or too small look all wrong. Clothes that fit make you look and feel good, and when you feel good your confidence exudes that superhero strength people respond to.
  4. Signature style: No two superheroes look-alike. Each one has their own unique look to match their persona. Develop your own signature style, one that lets villains and citizens alike recognize you and what you stand for.

We all know that we have to dress to impress. That phrase means even more to the hero. So be sure to dress the part. People will notice your hero style and respond in kind. It’s just one more step toward achieving your hero status.

Oftentimes, when we think of heroes we think of those famous people, the ones on national news who have done something outrageous and huge. Although its great to have such a wide reaching impact, the most powerful impact one can have is on their own home town.

Home town heroes, just like all heroes, come in many shapes and sizes, and like I’ve said a million times it doesn’t take much to do something heroic especially if its in your own back yard. All it takes is a local perspective, a sense of community, and a little time.

Here are a few ways to achieve hometown hero status:

  1. Buy local: Support local businesses and farmers by buying local instead of from the big box stores. Not only do you help keep unique businesses open and people employed, you also keep more money in the community. According to the 3/50 Project, for every $100 spent local, independently owned establishments $63 stays local compared to less than $43 spent at box stores.
  2. Vote: Local governments are incredibly receptive to constituent concerns and support, more so than at the state or national level. There are always coffee with the representatives, council meetings, and other opportunities to speak directly to candidates and representatives about your concerns. Of course the best way to have your voice heard is by voting.
  3. Volunteer: There are so many ways to support your community. It only takes a few hours a month to make a huge difference. You can tutor local kids, teach a class at the community center, organize a park clean up, or deliver meals to local families. The possibilities are endless, as is the impact.
  4. Throw a block party: National night out is coming soon. Strengthen your community and get to know your neighbors by throwing a block party. Exchange phone numbers and offer to watch out for each other’s property and kids. Not only will you feel safer, but you’ll also enjoy your home that much more.
  5. Become a weekend warrior: Weekend races and festivals are commonplace. Though a great way to get in little exercise and competition, many of the races you see are held to support a cause such as breast cancer or your local food bank. So get out of the house, get some exercise, make it a family event, and support a local cause.
  6. Donate: Local charities do so much for the community. When the economy slumps, these charities are often the hardest hit as their reserves are quickly depleted. Add a few extra cans of food to your groceries this month or send in a check to help out your local food bank or crisis center.

Of course, how you become a hometown hero is only limited by your creativity and abilities so don’t be afraid to think beyond this list. If we all take the time to do a little in our own communities, we can start a snowball effect that will reach far beyond our hometowns.

I would love to hear what you’re doing in your own community!  Share with me in the comments section.

Eating healthy when you’re busy is next to impossible, but if I could do it as a single parent and a full-time student and still lose weight, then so can you! In order to stay on track I had to rely on some quick staples and a few think ahead techniques.

Here is my list of healthy staples:

  1. Kashi: Kashi makes an amazing line of whole grain, low-sodium, low-sugar organic snacks. Every single item they make fits into the 10 ingredient rule and stores easily. They also have some healthy frozen meals to keep on hand for those days when you don’t have time to make lunch. Plus, their chewy oatmeal and dark chocolate cookies are awesome!
  2. Frozen fruit and veggies: Healthy meals are a snap with frozen goodies on stand by. You can get organic fruits and veggies in the frozen section of any grocery store. Use what you need when you need them and pair them with a sandwich, chicken breast, or make a light stir fry. Use low-fat greek yogurt and frozen fruit for a healthy, protein rich smoothie on the go. You can drink your breakfast on your way to work or school. **Tip: Get a single serve blender that doubles as a to-go cup. It’s quick and leaves you with less dishes to clean.
  3. Stretch Island Fruit: These tasty chewy treats equal 1/2 serving of fruit and are void of unnatural dyes and white sugars. Pair them with a granola bar, string cheese, or a handful of nuts for a quick snack. Plus, since they’re fruit leather they’ll keep well in the pantry or in your desk at work.
  4. V-8: Get a serving a vegetables fast by keeping V-8 on hand. The big jug is cheaper per serving, but the individual jars are handy for those crazy mornings. Of course, don’t forget to recycle your cans!

Take time once a week to prep your meals and snacks for the whole week. Here are a few make ahead ideas to get you started:

  1. On Sunday make a batch of quinoa, rice, or lentils that can be mixed and matched with different veggies and proteins throughout the week. Use the frozen veggies and precooked meats for super fast meals.
  2. Pre-pack veggies, fruits, and nuts into reusable 1/2 and 1 cup containers that you can grab and go. You can do the same thing with cottage cheese and yogurt. (Plus, by doling out single servings, you’re keeping your consumption in check).
  3. Invest in a crockpot and create healthy one-pot dinners like chili or a seasonal stew. Not only are they easy to make but they save energy (compared to the oven) and make enough servings for more than one meal.
  4. Precook a batch of turkey or chicken that can be used in sandwiches or stir fry or paired with veggies.
  5. Use low or no sodium added chicken, tuna, salmon packed in cans with water (no oils here) to make quick meals. Top on salads, pair with ezekiel bread/tortillas, or add them to casseroles.
  6. Boil a dozen eggs. They make great snacks, protein for salads, or pair them with avocado and ezekiel bread for a fast lunch.

The key is to have plenty of things on hand ready to go for those inevitable mornings when you’re running behind. A little prep work on Sunday, combined with some good ole stand-bys can make the difference to keeping you committed to eating healthy (and staying on budget).