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Friday, January 17th, 2014
If you’re like me, you’re always reading the latest research on how to be a better parent. How much should my little kids study? How many sports and activities should they do? Do they really need that organic milk?
Like a breath of fresh air, Tom Rath, bestselling author, scientist and dad, says there is an easy way for kids–and their parents–to improve their lives and their health. All we need to do is Eat Move Sleep, which is the title of his new book. Really. This is something we all can do. (Check out Parents’ advice on the top sleep mistakes parents make.)
“What I found,” says Rath, “is that the majority of your risk in life lies in the choices you make every day. What you eat, how often you move throughout the day, and the quality of your sleep is far more important than your genes or family history.” He backs up all of his findings with solid research, just like he did in his previous work, How Full is Your Bucket? For example, did you know that elite performers–musicians, athletes, chess players and actors–sleep 8.6 hours per day on average? That’s about one our more than most Americans. His findings on food quality and activity are awesome, too.
Here are his 3 Easy Tips to For Families to Get Healthier and Feel Better Now. These pertain to your kids and you!
1. Eat, move, sleep
Instead of focusing all of your energy on a popular new diet or exercise regimen, you are more likely to improve your health if you work on eating right, moving more and sleeping better in parallel. For example, a good night of sleep leads to better food choices and more activity the following day. Then high quality food and activity make it easier to sleep the next night. Each of these elements builds on the other to create upward spirals. When you do these three things in parallel, you have more energy for your kids as a result.
2. Sleep Over Everything Else
Make sleep a family value. Instead of allowing sleep to be the first expense that gets cut from your daily budget, consider each additional hour of sleep as an investment in your family’s health and well-being. Instead of “sending your kids to bed” when they act up – help them to see how sleep is an essential ingredient of a good day. Create bedtime rituals for the entire family that minimize bright light, televisions, computers, tablets, phones and other distractions in the hour before bed. Turn the thermostat down a few degrees at night to make it easier for everyone to stay asleep. Then try to maintain consistent bedtimes and wake-up times, which should enable your children to thrive at school.
3. Move–You Probably Already Are!
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Make all of your activity count. Most parents move around more than they realize. The good news is that being active throughout the day is more important than getting vigorous exercise five or six times a week. But in order for this activity to have the most benefit for your mind and body, you need to know how much you are moving throughout the day. Find some way to track your activity, such as an app, pedometer, Fitbit, Jawbone or any other device that will tell you how far you are walking in a given day. Aim for at least 10,000 steps per day or roughly 5 miles. (Rath has been known to do work at his computer while pedaling away on his FitDesk.)
Thursday, January 16th, 2014
Are you ready for your baby to become a teenager? Most parents are not because, if I remember correctly, teens are a PITA. But bestselling author Dan Siegel, M.D., says those adolescent years do not have to be so dramatic. In his popular new book, Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain, he explains that what’s inside teens’ heads are normal, scientifically-proven developments. Once we understand how their thoughts work–and why–we parents can lead them much more easily and sleep better at night.
Here’s what Dan had to say about the highlights in his book:
KK: What is the greatest myth around the teenage brain?
DS: The greatest myth is that adolescence is an “immature period of life,” one “we need to just get through and survive.” The truth is that it is an important and necessary transformative period that can allow us to thrive–not just in adolescence, but in adulthood as well. The scientific truth is that the “essence” of adolescence is something we can learn to cultivate in our lives. This “essence” is the crucial foundation for living a full life in adulthood as well. This “essence” = emotional spark (ES), social engagement (SE), Novelty-seeking (N), and creative exploration (CE). These things, which are all critical points of development, are vital to living well during adolescence and to keeping your brain young as an adult.
KK: People don’t often think of brain health daily. How important is brain health to a great life?
DS: Our brains shape how we feel, how we think, how our body functions and how we interact with others. When we learn the key to keeping our brains healthy with daily activities, we not only strengthen our mind, feel better and engage with others in more rewarding ways, we actually make our body healthier. How? By strengthening the brain, we help fight off chronic disease, repair the important caps of our chromosomes, and even improve our immune function. These are all skills that I try to teach both adolescents–and adults—in Brainstorm.
KK: So what can people do to keep their brains healthy and active?
DS: Science shows that there are at least seven fundamental daily activities that have been proven to keep the mind strong, the brain healthy, the body working well and our relationships thriving. These practices include having time each day to move the body, to be out in nature and connect with other people, to focus on one thing at a time, to relax and unwind, to sleep well, to be spontaneous and playful, and to take “time-in” to focus on your inner experiences of Sensations, Images, Feelings, and Thoughts. That’s how you can “SIFT” your mind each day to keep your brain healthy.
KK: What are 5 of your favorite facts about the brain?
DS: There are so many, but here are my five favorites:
1. Your brain continues to grow across the lifespan.
2.How you focus your mind changes the function and the structure of your brain.
3. The brain is the social organ of the body–and relationships shape and are shaped by the brain
4. The brain’s remodeling in adolescence leads to a more integrated and highly functional brain–remodeling is necessary and can be cultivated by both adolescents and adults.
5. You can choose to keep your brain strong and healthy. We can learn these important skills in adolescence and then hold on to the Essence of Adolescence throughout our adulthood to keep our brains vital.
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adolescence, adolescents, Brainstorm, Dan Siegal, difficult teen years, teenage brain, teenagers | Categories:
Best Sellers, Mom Must Read, Must Read, Parenting Advice, Q&A With Authors
Friday, January 10th, 2014
Congratulations Sarah MacLean! This New York Times bestselling romance writer just had her first baby on December 17. Right before she went into labor–literally a few hours–she wrote this sweet blog post for me pondering the questions, ‘Do babies make romance better?’
What do you think about this steamy subject (see what others thought about keeping romance alive here)? Here’s what Sarah, author of several books and most recently No Good Duke Goes Unpunished: The Third Rule of Scoundrels has to say:
“As a romance novelist, I have a rather skewed view of babies. You see, they don’t typically fit into the classic structure of the romance novel—romance is about two people finding each other and falling in love against insurmountable odds. Babies…well…babies are complicated.
That’s not to say that babies don’t have their eventual place in most romances. In fact, they have a very clear and very prescribed place in most of them. They live in the epilogue. After all, what better proof of commitment and love than having a baby? Than creating a family? What better marker of forever than a third character being introduced to the play?
In seven books, I’ve written my fair share of baby epilogues. Pregnancies and births and even grandchildren have made an appearance in the final pages of my books.
And then, nine months ago, something happened.
I was epilogued.
Now, I’m 34. And while my husband and I have been together for more than a decade, it doesn’t feel like we’re at the end of our story. And while I’m happy for fictional babies to come at the back of the book…I’d much prefer for our baby to live in the middle of our love story. Even better if she arrive at its beginning of a new chapter. (more…)
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keep romance alive, No Good Duke Goes Unpunished, romance after baby, romance books, Sarah MacLean, Scoundrels series, sex after baby | Categories:
Best Sellers, Guest Blogs, Mom Must Read, Must Read, Parenting Advice, Popular Books
Thursday, January 9th, 2014
Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions?
Honestly, I’ve been so busy that I haven’t even made mine yet. I’ve had work, and the kids just went back to school on Monday! Anyway, resolutions can be made all year long. But it’s definitely fun to think about them in January, right? It’s a time for new beginnings.
So I was especially excited to have a phone conversation this week with Charles Duhigg, the brilliant, bestselling author of the book called The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. It just came out in paperback this week.
He told me exactly why I do what I do, how to stop it, and how to instill good habits in my kids. Also, click to the next page to see his Habit Flowchart. It’s pretty cool–you’ll understand yourself a whole lot better. (And don’t miss this story about 17 Habits of Very Happy Moms.)
KK: Why are habits so hard to break?
CD: I think the reason they’re hard to break is because when most people attack them, they do’t think about the structure of how habits work. At the root of every habit, there’s a 3-step process:
1. Cue: This is like a trigger for the behavior to start.
2. Routine: Going through the motion of the behavior.
3. Reward: Whatever you get out of the habit.
If people don’t think about those cues and rewards, there’s a real disadvantage to try to change things. You can say, ‘I’m going to be thinner,’ but if you don’t sit down and make plans and look at the cues and rewards behind the eating habits, it will be difficult to make progress.
KK: How do we start installing good habits in our young children now? You know, so they don’t watch too much TV, eat too many snacks and yell too much like I do…
CD: The number one thing we can do is help them come up with plans. My son loves the TV show Special Agent Oso. There’s always three steps to solve a problem. So whenever he has an issue, I use that format, and we go through three special steps: Breath, calm down, think. Whatever the three steps are, we make them up on the spot and go through each one. With something like this, you’re teaching them a process for understanding how to react to their own emotions.
That way, when your child (or even you) feel a trigger coming on, you have a plan to deal with it ahead of time. The reward is that you’ll feel more calm and in control. We’re teaching my 5-year-old a structure to deal with emotions that helps him stay in control in the heat of the moment.
A huge amount of success in life comes from learning as a child how to make good habits. It’s good to help kids understand that when they do certain things habitually, they’re reinforcing patterns.
You can give your child an amazing toolbox for designing his own behaviors going forward and having a lot more willpower and self-control.
KK: What are good habits to form for the New Year? How are habits different than resolutions?
CD: Like I said, a resolution is usually like a goal, and a habit is a practical way of getting to that goal. It depends on the mom. Say she wants to exercise more, snack less and be more patient with her kids. What’s the cue for exercising? Put the shoes next to bed? Change into clothes as soon as the sitter shows? And she should give herself a reward after she’s exercised. People who eat a small piece of chocolate after running do it more and enjoy it more. We end up enjoying what we do on a regular basis if we offer ourselves rewards.
KK: Okay, here’s a common bad habit: How do moms who are always on-the-go create good eating habits and stop substituting their kids snacks for meals?
CD: It’s a habit I had, too. It’s very hard to resist. Those snacks are designed to be really yummy. My advice is to anticipate. When people have a willpower failure, it’s because they haven’t anticipated a situation that’s going to come along. So put a plate of carrots out with the nuggets. Or have your own meal with your kids meal, or eat your own snack before you feed them. Anticipate that moment ahead of time and it makes it much easier to resist.
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bad habit, Charles Duhigg, good habit, habit, kid habit, new year's resolutions, The Power of Habit | Categories:
Best Sellers, Mom Must Read, Must Read, Parenting Advice, Popular Books, Q&A With Authors
Friday, December 20th, 2013
My morning Facebook check made me shaky and teary today. My friends in the young adult novel writing community were mourning the unconfirmed death of the talented author Ned Vizzini. He was the prodigy who wrote the bestselling YA novel It’s Kind of a Funny Story that also became a movie. His other teen books include Be More Chill, The Other Normals, Teen Angst… Nah and House of Secrets. I looked forward to his humorous essays in the New York Times, and I was happy to hear he had a seemingly great career writing for TV.
The rumor is now confirmed. Ned Vizzini is dead at 32 of an apparent suicide after jumping off the roof of his parents’ Brooklyn home. He was 32 and survived by his brother, wife and son.
I didn’t know him personally, but our paths crossed at young adult panels back when I was a hyperactive Scholastic author. I thought he was wicked funny, and honestly, I was totally jealous of him. He was a super talented overnight success. He was totally deserving. I just wish I had a little more of what he had.
Today I feel sad. I have dealt with depression and anxiety for years. I understand its depths and suffering. But I have never been so far down that dark hole that I attempted suicide. I just wish Ned–and others–could find peace in another way. I hope today his suffering has ended. I hope others do not judge him. My thoughts are with him and his family.
Here’s a haunting quote from the touching book, It’s Kind of a Funny Story:
“Its so hard to talk when you want to kill yourself. That’s above and beyond everything else, and it’s not a mental complaint-it’s a physical thing, like it’s physically hard to open your mouth and make the words come out. They don’t come out smooth and in conjunction with your brain the way normal people’s words do; they come out in chunks as if from a crushed-ice dispenser; you stumble on them as they gather behind your lower lip. So you just keep quiet.”
and one more to leave you with:
“Things to do today:
1) Breathe in.
2) Breathe out.”
Rest in sweet peace, Ned Vizzinni.
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Be More Chill, death, House of Secrets, It's Kind of a Funny Story, Ned Vizzinni, suicide, Teen Angst... Nah, The Other Normals | Categories:
Best Sellers, Children's Books, Fiction, Mom Must Read, Must Read, Popular Books