Day: March 1, 2016

Suddenly Single: 8 Dating Tips for the Recently Divorced

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Suddenly being divorced can be a huge shock to anyone, making the thought of starting a new relationship an intimidatingly daunting prospect.

Depending on how long you were married, socializing may have changed since your pre-wedding days, creating many things to consider when dating after divorce.

Below are 8 helpful tips to guide you back into the single zone as smoothly as possible.

 

1. Seek Support—

Divorce is highly stressful, and those recently separated can use therapy to help process the guilt, anxiety, anger, loss and other strong emotions that may come with the end of a marriage.

Seeking guidance from someone professionally trained to navigate this labyrinth of intense feelings doesn’t mean you’re weak: it means you’re a strong, mature person trying to handle a traumatic situation in the healthiest manner possible.

Remember that everyone needs counseling or a shoulder to lean on sometimes, and anyone who thinks you need to “tough it out” isn’t being supportive.

 

2. Make Some Me Time—

If you can take a mind-clearing vacation or spend some time alone to get back in touch with yourself, this is a great opportunity for healing.

Hobbies you love or activities that bring you pleasure can be cathartic and soothing ways to work out your feelings.

Properly grieving the loss of your marriage and finding closure may also grant you the ability to trust and open up to future partners.

 

3. Swim Slowly—

Because everybody is emotionally vulnerable post-divorce, proceed very slowly when dipping a foot back into the dating pool. The water may shock your system if you dive in headfirst.

Be gentle with yourself, and don’t feel obligated to make promises or commitments you’re not psychologically prepared to keep.

The only thing you owe dating partners is honesty, so make it clear from the beginning where you stand and what you are looking for in a relationship.

 

4. There May Be Baggage—

Especially if there are children involved, the newly-divorced dating experience will be a completely different beast than the one you knew pre-marriage.

Be aware that if you have children, anyone you date will potentially be a part of their lives, and that anyone you date may also have children to be considered as well.

Be careful not to judge potential partners for what they bring to the table—and if you have children, immediately dismiss anyone who doesn’t respect your relationship with them. Your marriage may have ended, but you’re a parent forever.

 

5. Find Your Friends—

If you can find the time to bond and reconnect with your friends, this can be a great way to surround yourself with the support you need right now.

When you’re ready, your single pals can also be helpful guides to ease you back into the world of dating with insider knowledge of the local scene.

 

6. Try a New Type—

Many of us have a “type” that we tend to be attracted to and date over and over again. Thanks to the recent divorce, you now know that your usual suspect may not be the wisest choice, so consider dating someone completely unlike your former partner.

Sometimes moving out of your comfort zone can push you to grow in different and unexpected ways, opening your eyes to something—or someone—you never realized you might find appealing. Give different a chance: you may be pleasantly surprised with the results.

 

7. Be True to You—

There’s no point in faking it: the real you is going to come out eventually, so don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. You have nothing to prove to anyone, so don’t hide your personality or quirks.

The right person will like you for who you already are, so remain honest and relaxed to communicate in a healthy and authentic way.

 

8. Don’t Compare—

Avoid comparing those you date post-divorce to your ex-spouse. Everyone deserves the right to be judged fairly, and using your previous relationship as a gauge for future connections is a huge mistake.

Also be careful to not project the hurt, insecurities or other negative aspects of your previous relationship onto an innocent person.

 

The most important thing you can do when dealing with a painful experience such as divorce is try to learn from the mistakes you’ve made, give yourself time to heal, and move forward when you’re ready.

Use the tips above to move gently back into the world of dating, and remember that the right person is out there. Even if it takes a while to find them, you’re on the path to better things, so stop and look around, take deep breaths, and try to enjoy the adventure.

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Fueling the Engine: What to Eat Before and After Exercising

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Knowing what to eat before and after exercising can drastically amplify the results achieved by a consistent workout routine. Although many fitness fans believe fat is burned faster by exercising on an empty stomach, most experts warn against this potentially metabolism-lowering practice.

Studies have shown that eating small meals before and after exercising can dramatically improve performance by keeping blood glucose levels stable—but it’s important to eat the right types of food at the right times.

Below are some useful fueling tips to enhance any fitness program:

 

1. Water Works Well—

The number one rule of effective exercise and recovery is proper hydration. We need fluids before, during and after workouts to keep all systems running smoothly and body temperature cool.

Plain water, coconut water, herbal teas or other types of non-caffeinated beverages are highly recommended, and be especially sure to hydrate 1-2 hours before exercising.

Well-timed pre-hydration will prepare the body for exercise without causing the sloshing, stomach-cramping feeling that drinking liquid too close to a workout can create.

 

2. Post-Exercise Hydration Helps—

Post-workout liquids are a great way to replace lost fluids, and including protein in these drinks can help muscles heal.

Protein shakes are a favorite recovery drink because they’re easy to make and contain helpful amino acids, but chocolate milk also offers similar benefits.

No matter what, your recovery drink should contain protein; and if you’ve worked out for a long time or in excessive heat, consider adding electrolytes as well.

 

3. Meal Timing is Important—

It is recommended that all foods be eaten at least 1-2 hours before exercise to avoid cramping, indigestion and other gastrointestinal issues that working out after meals may cause.

Because the stomach is busy digesting food, the body has less energy to dedicate to the workout, making exercise after a meal more difficult.

If your schedule doesn’t allow time for proper digestion, try to eat the smallest snack possible for your energy needs.

 

4. Food Type is Important—

Because carbohydrates give the body the most readily available energy source, they are the top pre-workout choice of food for many.

Especially recommended for shorter workouts involving intense training, carbohydrates keep the body’s engine running strong with less chance for stomach issues, such as those caused by fatty or excessively fibrous foods.

Protein is a good pre-exercise food for those exercising multiple hours in a row, as the carbohydrates will be burned first, with protein providing energy later when carb reserves are depleted.

 

5. Get on a Schedule—

Use a journal and take notes if it helps you figure out which foods give you the most effective workout, and try to stick to an eating/hydrating/exercising schedule if you can.

Everybody’s different, so what works for others may or may not work for you, but by staying conscious of your choices and schedule, you will find it easier to give your body exactly what it needs, allowing for better results.

Keeping a food and exercise journal can also help those who are dieting remain aware of the calories consumed and burned for weight loss progress.

 

6. Make Wise Food Choices—

In addition to knowing when to eat carbs or protein, it’s also important to choose healthy versions of these foods. For example: fried chicken is mostly protein, but it comes with excessive fat and simple carbs in the breading that might upset an exercising stomach.

Some popular pre-workout meals include whole grain cereals, breads or pastas because whole grains are high in fiber, causing them to be digested and absorbed slowly.

Examples of complex carbohydrates with a bit of protein for great pre-workout energy might be: peanut butter on whole grain toast, yogurt mixed with whole grain cereal, oatmeal with nuts, apple slices with a handful of almonds, or eggs scrambled with vegetables.

 

Smart hydration, fueling and recovery selections can greatly increase the benefits and effectiveness of any workout regimen. Use the tips above to remember when and what to eat before and after a workout to give your body the most efficient exercising experience possible.

Teach Your Children Well: Raising Kids Who Happily Eat Healthily

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Whether you are a new parent hoping to prevent your child from becoming a fussy eater, or already dealing with a picky kid, there are ways to open up the sometimes particular palettes of the little people in our lives.

It isn’t always easy, but it can be done with diligence, patience and creativity—and with type 2 diabetes and obesity in children continuing to rise, it’s especially important to teach kids the value of good nutrition so they can grow up into healthy adults.

Below are some top tips to help children learn to enjoy a variety of healthful foods.

 

1. The Vegetables Stay in the Picture—

When babies begin their foray into the world of solid foods, we start them off with the healthiest, natural foods, such as pureed vegetables and fruits.

When they work up into being able to handle small pieces, we add whole grain cereal and chunks of fruit like bananas, strawberries and avocadoes. But often, as they become toddlers, processed foods such as frozen chicken nuggets and junky snack foods enter the picture.

One way to raise an older kid who loves vegetables and fruits is to never stop feeding them the healthy fruits and vegetables we use during their solid food introduction. Avoid the temptation of convenient processed foods, or use them in moderation.

 

2. Include Kids in the Gathering and Preparing Process—

You’d be amazed by how excited kids will get about healthy foods if they’re included in the acquisition and cooking of them.

If you have a local Farmer’s Market, this can be a great way to teach kids about where healthy, real foods come from, or better yet, plant a backyard garden and let them watch and harvest the circle of life themselves.

Including kids in the cooking of meals can be a fun family bonding activity that encourages little ones to want to eat their creations.

 

3. Add Vegetables to Favorite Foods—

If your child loves pizza, lasagna or macaroni and cheese, consider adding vegetables to these types of favorite foods to include them in a positive way.

Start slowly if you already have a finicky eater on your hands, and don’t be discouraged if they pick the veggies out the first few times you add them. They are still getting a small taste of the flavor every time, which has been shown to eventually help kids get used to new foods.

 

4. Follow Your Own Healthful Eating Rules—

If kids see their parents eating unhealthy junk food, they will assume this is the way they’re supposed to eat as well, making it very important to model healthy behavior in the kitchen.

To reduce temptation and set a good example, keep healthy snacks like broccoli florets, carrot and celery sticks and apples readily available.

Eliminating sugary or nutritionally empty snack foods from your pantry and refrigerator can also make healthful eating more convenient, and be sure to make fast food a rare treat rather than a lifestyle.

 

5. Don’t Have a Food Fight—

Sometimes when kids are pushed too much in a direction, they will dig in their heels and stubbornly refuse because they’re feeling pressure, rather than because of the actual issue at hand.

Many parents simply ask that their children try a new food once, and allow them to decide if they like it without pressure. It can take over 10 tries for anyone to decide if they enjoy a new food, so don’t give up if the first, second or even third time’s not the charm.

Be patient, introduce new foods slowly, and remain nonchalant to avoid pointlessly combatant refusal to try new things from kids.

 

6. Make Dinner a Family Affair—

Sitting together at the table to socialize and enjoy each other’s company while you eat will create positive associations with the healthy foods you’re serving, as well as keeping parents in touch with kids.

When kids watch the adults in their lives eating healthy foods while chatting and enjoying each other’s company, it demystifies vegetables and other nutritionally smart choices by taking the focus off the food and onto the fun.

 

Remember that baby steps and moderation are best when trying to improve the eating habits of a family, and that it’s okay to occasionally have foods from the naughty list. Depriving everyone completely can backfire, making kids and adults feel resentful about what they can no longer have, setting back your progress.

Use the tips above to gently guide your kids in the direction of better nutrition to set them up for a lifetime of good health.

Four Quick, Convenient Crock Pot Cakes

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We’ve all used our crock pots for stews, soups, and chili; but have you ever wished you could combine the convenience of crock pot cooking with desserts? Surprisingly, there are actually many crock pot recipes for cakes and breads that make baking easier than ever.

We’ve compiled a few simple favorites for you below.

 

1. Quick Chocolate Cake

You will need:

* 1 package (6 serving size) instant chocolate pudding and pie mix

* 3 cups milk

* 1 package (18 ounces) chocolate cake mix, plus ingredients to prepare mix

* Whipped topping (optional)

1. Spray crock pot slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Empty pudding mix into crock pot and whisk in milk.

2. Prepare cake mix according to directions, blending well. Pour cake blend into crock pot. Do not stir.

3. Cover and cook on high 1½ hours or until cake is set.

Note: Serve warm, with whipped topping, if desired.

 

2. Berry Perfect Pound Cake

You will need:

* 1 package (16 ounces) pound cake mix, plus ingredients to prepare mix

* ¼ cup packed light brown sugar

* 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

* Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and powdered sugar

1. Spray crock pot slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Prepare cake mix according to directions, stirring in brown sugar, flour and cinnamon.

3. Pour batter into crock pot and cook on high 1½ to 1¾ hours, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Note: Serve with berries and powdered sugar, if desired.

 

3. Butterscotch Macadamia Pudding Cake

You will need:

* 1 box (18 ounces) golden yellow cake mix

* 1 cup water

* 4 eggs

* ½ cup sour cream

* ½ cup vegetable oil

* 1 cup butterscotch morsels

* ½ cup chopped macadamia nuts (or any nut you prefer)

1. Spray crock pot slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Combine cake mix, water, eggs, sour cream and oil and mix well.

3. Pour batter into crock pot and cook on high 2 hours, or until batter is set.

4. Sprinkle butterscotch morsels and chopped macadamia nuts over surface of cake. Cover, and cook 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Note: Serve warm, with whipped cream, if desired.

 

4. Pecan-Cinnamon Spice Cake

You will need:

* 1¼ cups all-purpose flour

* ½ cup granulated sugar

* 1½ teaspoons baking powder

* 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

* ½ teaspoon ground ginger

* ½ cup milk

* 5 tablespoons margarine or butter, melted

* 1 cup chopped pecans

* 1½ cups water

* ¾ cup packed brown sugar

* Whipped cream

1. Stir together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger in a medium bowl. Add milk and 3 tablespoons of margarine or butter, and mix until blended. Stir in the pecans and spread mixture across bottom of crock pot.

2. Combine water, brown sugar and remaining 2 tablespoons butter or margarine in small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Pour melted butter and sugar mixture over batter in crock pot.

3. Cover and cook on high 1¼ to 1½ hours, or until cake is set and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Let stand uncovered for 30 minutes, and serve.

Note: This cake goes well with glazed pears. Garnish with whipped cream, if desired.

 

It may seem like an unusual way to bake, but crock pot and slow cooker cakes and pastries are a great way to make tasty, traditional desserts in half the time. Treat your party guests or family to one of the unconventionally sweet and scrumptious cakes above today.

The Future is Fun, Flirty and Fabulous: 8 Top Prom Dress Trends for 2014

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Whether you’re buying a gown for prom, or any other formal occasion, there are some absolutely stunning new trends headed for all fabulous fashionistas in the coming year.

Some of last year’s styles will be sticking around, but designers have been adding new and exciting additions to the what-to-wear list that you won’t want to miss.

Read below about 8 of the fun and flirty new prom dress trends predicted for 2014:

 

1. Loving the Lace—

Lace has been popular for decades, but in 2014, it shifts to center stage to be featured as the star of the show, rather than simply an embellishment.

Last year, having a subtle touch of lace was popular, but now this feminine fabric is taking formalwear even further with dresses that feature dramatic lace necklines, large insets, and elegant, eye-catching lace hems.

 

2. Passionate for Purples—

Pantone recently kissed last year’s Emerald Green goodbye, voting Radiant Orchid the Color of the Year for 2014.

This paler, pinker shade of purple is flattering for nearly every skin type, giving the wearer an enigmatic energy reminiscent of exotic flowers, and adds a naturally playful feel to any gown.

With models walking the runways in shades of this gorgeous hue and celebrities like Kelly Osbourne sporting lovely lavender locks, Radiant Orchid is going to be everywhere in 2014, so get ready for dresses, accessories and make-up in this ultra-girly color.

 

3. Pretty, Pretty Peplums—

The peplum profile hearkens back to a stylish era when women had curves, and is a time-tested favorite for its ability to flatter any body type. Seen lately in the structured mini and longer, more formal design, this beloved style is here to stay.

Tailored in a way to give girls of all sizes a sexy hourglass shape, peplum is particularly popular this year, having been spotted on red carpet-celebrities like Michelle Williams and Emma Stone.

 

4. Say Hello to High-Lo—

Especially flattering on girls whose best asset is a great pair of legs, the high-low hemline combines the flirt factor of a mini with the princess appeal of a long, trailing or floating back hem.

Mysteriously sheer, ruffled and ladylike, or patterned inside for a splash of surprise, the high-low hem is going to be more popular than ever in 2014.

 

5. Knock-Out Neons—

Bright colors have risen above the horizon like so much sunshine, making dresses that dazzle and glow a hit on the runways and in the world of formal gowns.

Pantone recommends brightening its Radiant Orchid with complimentary tints like Tangerine Orange and Mimosa Yellow, but many fashion-forward ladies are choosing these upbeat colors as the main focus.

Don’t be afraid to wear coral, teal or mint prom dresses this year to stand out from the crowd in a beautiful way.

 

6. Mesmerizing Mermaids—

Evoking a sense of fairytale whimsy with its delicate and womanly classic shape, the mermaid silhouette will be prevalent in prom wear this year, giving girls the chance to turn heads with this dazzling design.

Fitted in the bodice, this style is a great choice for ladies seeking to support and showcase a beautiful décolletage, making the wearer stand out like a shining star in a sea of dresses.

 

7. Captivating Cap Sleeves—

This modest and arm-slimming sleeve style has been around since the ‘50s, but has officially made its way back into the word of fashion for 2014.

If you don’t feel confident in strapless dresses, or simply seek a more retro look, cap sleeves are an elegant alternative.

Cap sleeves come in every hemline, so find the dress that suits you best and wear this sophisticated style with grace and charm.

 

8. Illuminating Illusions—

Illusion necklines and covered back cut-outs are extremely current, with Kate Middleton as a frontrunner for starting the trend.

The impression of a revealing neckline or back area combined with the demure and tasteful coverage of a sheer fabric cover is a delightfully classic blend of nearly naughty with a splash of tasteful nice that makes a breathtaking impression.

 

If you’re looking for vintage, edgy colors, interesting elements or simply stunning, you won’t be disappointed by the prom dress fashions happening in the year ahead. Find a favorite trend above to wear for your next dance or formal occasion, and have fun giving it your own fabulous flair.