10 Ways To Improve Your Outlook On Life

It’s hard to slow down these days.  There’s always something to do, and ten more after that.  If you feel like your day ends before it begins, you’re not alone.  But this isn’t healthy.  Stress increases your chances of heart attacks and creates other health risks.  But what do you do?  The first step is to slow down.  Once you do that, you can improve your outlook on life.  After that, you might find some of the things that are keeping you so busy aren’t as important as you think.

Here are some tips to get started.  These ten ideas can help slow you down.  Once you do that, you may find that you will improve your outlook on life.

Read more10 Ways To Improve Your Outlook On Life

Checking In On My 2017 Fitness Goals

I’ve written a few times about how I have really tried to focus on better fitness this year.  I worried about our long camping trips and how that would affect me.  I’m happy to report that things are going well.  Here’s an update on my fitness goals.

Recap of My Goals And My Plan

I wanted to lose some weight and lose some body fat.  I’d spent most of 2016 gaining 0.5 to 1 pound per month, and there was no excuse for it.  I was just lazy and full of poor decisions.

I decided to commit 2017 to make better decisions.

My goals were two fold:

  1. I wanted to lose 13.5 pounds.
  2. I wanted reduce my body fat from 21% to 15%.

My plan was pretty simple:

Read moreChecking In On My 2017 Fitness Goals

Why I Keep Bugging My Wife About My Fitness Goals

I’ve been driving my wife a little nutty, and she has no idea why. I’m not normally one for New Years resolutions, but I set one this year.  And it’s not really a resolution as it is a goal.  Here are my fitness goals and why I keep talking about them to my wife.

My 2016 Fitness Goals Fail

I’ve had a target weight for a number of years.  I’m about 5’8″ (or maybe a little smaller as my wife says I’m shrinking).  I’ve never been muscular and I’ve never been dramatically overweight.  I hover somewhere in the average range.  My ideal weight is 155 pounds, along with a 15% body fat percentage.  I’m normally closer to 160-165 pounds, and around 20% body fat.

Read moreWhy I Keep Bugging My Wife About My Fitness Goals

Health Updates To Finish Out 2016

It seems like the end of the year always brings health to the forefront.  Maybe because we have to sign up for insurance for next year.  It could be because we want to get ourselves ready for a healthier version to start off next year.  Perhaps it’s because we know that we have put off stuff we need to do.   Or, in our case, a combination of pretty much all of those.  Here are a few health updates in our household.

Health Update 1: Flu Shots

We all got our flu shots within a couple of days.  My employer gives them to us for free right on site (I work for a hospital system), so it just took about 15 minutes of waiting in line and I was done.  My wife got hers at Target, and took our kids after school, and all were covered 100% by our health insurance.  Hopefully we stay flu free for the season!

Read moreHealth Updates To Finish Out 2016

6 Ways to Eat More Healthily for Less Money

Eating healthy is all the rage.  As fads go, it is an especially beneficial one. From college kids to busy moms, people everywhere are thinking about health.  It seems pretty straightforward in theory, yet obesity and diet issues are on the rise. So, what’s the problem?
 
Well, there is a widespread belief that it is too expensive to make healthy eating a lifestyle. Chain health food stores and boutique markets are partially to blame for this belief.  Those heavily marketed, expensive diet programs are part of the problem. Whatever the source of the rumor is, it has got to stop. You can eat well just by using what is available in your regular supermarket. Here are a few ways to do just that.

Keep it Simple 

You do not have to live off chia seeds and specialty grains to have a nutritious diet. Keeping your meals simple is a good way to get started. At each meal, about half of your plate should consist of fruits and vegetables.  One quarter should consist of protein, and a quarter should consist of grains. Within these guidelines are endless delicious combinations of ingredients. 

Make a Plan 

Meal planning before you go grocery shopping is always a good idea.  It is especially helpful if you are attempting a shift in your dietary priorities. If you have not previously spent a lot of time in the produce aisle, it is easy to become overwhelmed by what you are doing.  You’ll end up buying too much of certain things, and curse your wastefulness when throwing away rotted food.
Instead, plan exactly how much of each type of food you will need, either by numbers or by pounds. This will make it easier to stick to your list.  This will in turn help your budget. Planning ahead also allows you to take note of which fruits and veggies are in season and incorporate them into your meals. This will make your produce purchases even smarter.

Incorporate Coupons

While you are planning your meals each week, remember to hunt down coupons for any special items you want to buy. You can check your weekly circular ad, search the Internet, or even make use of coupons that are attached to other food items. It doesn’t take long to become a savvy coupon shopper.

Become a Member

If you are not yet a member at the grocery store that you frequent, becoming one is a great way to save money and eat well. Most grocery stores offer sales exclusively to their members.  This can enable you to enjoy more variety in your menu. Some stores even use your shopping data to create personalized coupons.  You might be able to enjoy discounts on your favorite items simply because you purchase them often.

Rethink Meat

In a typical American meal, a large portion of meat is the centerpiece, accompanied by smaller sides of bread and vegetables or fruit. However, buying enough meat to give each family member a large portion at each meal can greatly increase your grocery bill. Furthermore, it is better for you to eat more fruits and veggies in proportion to meats. With this in mind, try using meat as a supporting player rather than the all-star in at least some of your meals. For example, you could make a stir-fry using two parts vegetables for one part meat.

Community Supported Agriculture

Participating in a community supported agriculture program is a great way to get access to fresh produce at a good price. For either a seasonal flat fee or a weekly payment, CSA members can get a portion of whatever produce is yielded by their local farms. For example, you might get a bushel of produce once a week for a twenty-week season, for an average of $30 a week. At that reasonable price, you can support your local farming community while enjoying optimal flavors and being introduced to foods you might not normally try.

Healthy Budget, Healthy Body

As you can see, eating healthily is not nearly as big of an expense as it is often made out to be. You may need to tweak some of your habits or perspectives in order to make it happen, but it is completely doable. All it takes is a little planning to have a balanced diet that works with your budget.
Content provided by a friend of Money Beagle.

Breaking Up (With Our Dentist) Was Hard To Do

Nobody actually enjoys going to the dentist, right?  It is, after all, roughly 30 minutes of sitting there with your mouth open while someone pokes around with various instruments, some of which are sharp.  So, with all that fun, it does make things slightly more tolerable to have a dental practice that you are comfortable with.  I had that, for roughly 37 years, which is a very long time. Still, after considering a lot of different things, we decided it was time to switch dentists.

37 Years At One Dentist

That’s right, I went to the same practice for that long.  I started going when I was around five years old, and at the time, it was picked for me by the same logic by which I’m sure many people pick their dentist: It was closest to where my family lived at the time.

As I grew older, my dad started going as well.  The practice moved a couple of miles away.  Our family moved about ten miles further away, but kept going as well.  By now, my step-mom had been added to the mix.

The dentist was, at the time, practicing alone.  He was actually pretty cutting edge, being one of the first in the country to employ high level technology into the practice.   It was solid and it served us well.  The practice did grow and change over the years (more on that in a bit) but it was good.

The practice was growing, which included our family.  My wife and kids became patients.

So, why did we change.  Well, there were two reasons:

Distance

The dental office is about a 25 minute drive from our house, an extra 10 minutes at least during rush hour…which was when we were starting to have to go with the kids in school so that they wouldn’t miss a lot of time for visits.  A round trip, including the visit, took upwards of two hours.  With time more and more limited as the kids get older, this just became tougher and tougher a pill to swallow.

Turnover

For a long time, the practice was run as a single dentist operation.  The founder was Dr R.

mb-2016-05-toothI mentioned above that he took on a lot of technology which was leading edge at the time.  This brought a lot of patients his way and in the mid-1990’s or so he brought on an associate, Dr G.

Things hummed along smoothly for quite a number of years.  Then, in the later part of the 2000’s, Dr R. was forced to semi-retire.  He starteds having numbness in his hand that was later diagnosed as something that really didn’t have a fix.  Bottom line, he didn’t feel comfortable in his role with the precision necessary, so he basically ran the practice, and hired another associate.  Around this time Dr G was promoted from associate to some sort of partner.  I assume she had a small ownership stake in the practice.

They hired a new associate, Dr I, and we really liked him.   He definitely met the high standards for which we’d been accustomed, so we stayed on.  After a few years, we were notified that he’d left the practice.  Later, it looked like he ended up across town, about an hour away.  I’m guessing maybe he simply wanted to establish his base ‘closer to home’.

More Turnover

Dr M was the next up and we got along well with him and felt he was very qualified.  Dr M was the first dentist that my children saw, and we all got along well with him.

Later last year, we found out that Dr. M had left the practice as well, and there was yet another new dentist, Dr P.  On top of that, Dr G, who had been there for nearly 20 years if my memory is correct, also left.

I didn’t mention, but we really didn’t like Dr P all that much.  We’d been fine with Dr I and Dr M, but Dr P was just not all that favorable to us.

All of this turnover was pretty alarming to us, and for the first time we’d talked about actually switching.

We looked up Dr M (who we liked) and found that he was now practicing (along with his wife and father-in-law) in a location not more than 10 minutes from our house.

But still, we talked about it for a long time.  Over many months we went back and forth.  I even spoke to my dad, who had a lot of the same concerns.

Finally, we decided to make the switch.

Our Decision To Switch Dentists Has Gone Well So Far

Our first visit was last week.  We actually all went the same day.  It was very odd going into a different office for the first time in 35+ years, but it was nice having some level of continuity as we knew Dr M and were comfortable that he would provide solid service.

The office was different and the staff was nice.  We noticed that the facilities were a bit older.  Plus, the technology that we’d gotten accustomed to at the old office was a bit behind.  But, in the end, does having a computer next to the dental chair really matter?  No. I think that will change now that Dr M and his wife are taking a lead role in the practice.  Especially since Dr M had the exposure to it in the past.

For now, the switch seems to be a good one.  We amicably ‘broke up’ with the old office via e-mail.  They were understanding and sad to see us leave.  I’m sure, while we didn’t solely tip them over to profitability, that nonetheless, they certainly never welcome losing the revenue of four patients all at once.

Of course, I did joke that the new office is bad luck.  I think in the last 25 years, I’ve had to have one cavity filled, and wouldn’t you know it, at the new office, Dr M found one!  LOL.  In fairness, there was a spot that they’d been looking at for the last few visits, so I sort of knew it was coming.  But still!

Readers, I’m curious, do you have loyalty to a particular dentist office or is that something that isn’t as common as I seem to think?  Have you ever had to ‘break up’ with a long standing professional relationship?  How did it go? Share your experiences in the comments below.