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50 Healthy Resolutions That Aren't Losing Weight
It’s fair to say that 2016 wasn’t a popular year (to put it mildly).
But while we may be ready to embrace 2017 with open arms, there’s one mistake many of us will probably bring into the New Year: focusing on the wrong resolution.
If data published in 2015 is any indication, many of us will pledge to lose weight. However, the problem with focusing solely on the scale is that it isn’t necessarily beneficial or indicative of our well-being. Not to mention the fact that concentrating on a pants size may make us ignore all the other aspects of wellness (like self-esteem or empathy, for example).
Of course, if losing weight is imperative to your physical health, it’s necessary to complete those goals and follow a plan outlined by a doctor. But if you’re searching for a way to prioritize wellness, there are additional options.
We’ve rounded up some healthy resolutions that have nothing to do with dropping pounds. Check them out below and then vow to make 2017 your best year yet.
1. Sleep more.
Commit to those eight hours. Proper shuteye is linked to better mental health and a lower risk for physical health conditions.
2. Cut back on sugar.
It’s difficult but it can be life changing if you pull it off. Here are a few tips on how to give it up.
3. Limit sodium intake.
Dietary guidelines recommend consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams per day (but the average American may consume more than 3,400 milligrams in a day ― yikes!). Too much sodium is linked to heart disease, high blood pressure and more.
4. Start meditating.
The benefits of a meditation practice are boundless, from improved mental health to better concentration to a lower risk for disease.
5. Pick up crafting.
Experts say activities like knitting can ease anxiety and put you in a meditative state. And you get a scarf in the process? Score.
6. Spend time alone.
Introverts are onto something. There’s power in a little “me time.”
7. Plan a trip.
You’ll boost your mood instantly. Research suggests planning a vacation can increase happiness ― and just think, you’ll have an adventurous city or a white sand beach to look forward to after you book it.
8. Keep a journal.
This could be a book that gives you prompts or just an empty place to scribble out your frustrations. Studies show journaling can be cathartic for your mental health.
9. Go for strolls more often.
It’s actually a really healthy exercise, according to science. Hit the pavement.
10. Cut back on complaining.
Negative thought patterns can increase stress levels. Try a mindful experiment where when you catch yourself complaining ― or thinking negatively ― you counteract it with something positive. Here’s a little inspiration to get started.
11. Give up diet soda.
Let’s face it: The zero-calorie coke alternative is not doing anyone any favors. It has the potential to hurt your health and studies have found it doesn’t help with losing weight.
12. Compliment someone once a day.
And not just on their appearance. Genuine compliments can go a long way for both you and the other person.
13. Practice gratitude.
Studies suggest that gratitude can improve overall well-being and may even boost physical health. Try keeping score of what you appreciate every day. Need some ideas to get started? Here are 100.
14. Go to therapy.
Therapy can be an incredibly useful tool for self discovery or as a way to work out life’s challenges. If you’re dealing with a particularly rough period ― or just want to know more about your inner world ― mental health professionals can help.
15. Volunteer regularly.
Donating your time to people or an organization in need can do a world of good. And if you needed more reason: Research shows volunteering can improve your health. It may also increase your happiness levels thanks to a circular effect. Kindness makes you happy, and happiness makes you kind.
16. Drink more water.
Forget what you were told about drinking eight glasses a day and aim for hydration instead. Here’s a handy guide to know when you’re actually feeling parched (it might be happening sooner than you realize).
17. Cook at home more frequently.
You’ll end up getting healthier in the process. Research says homemade meals can help you skip out on excess calories.
18. Commit to a strength-training routine.
Building muscle can help protect you against injury and even sharpen your cognitive skills. Start small ― even just using your body weight ― and increase as you get stronger.
19. Talk to more strangers.
It pays to make a little eye contact. Research shows smiling at someone you don’t know could help increase feelings of social connection.
20. Say “no” more often.
Burnout is real and it can happen in a blink of an eye. Make sure you’re prioritizing yourself and not saying “yes” to everything because it feels like an obligation. Self care isn’t selfish.
21. Handwrite letters instead of emailing people.
Make an effort to communicate via snail mail this year. Handwritten correspondence is a lost art form ― but there are real benefits to putting pen to paper, from better creativity to a smaller risk of multitasking.
22. Schedule walking meetings once a week.
You’ll get far more out of it than if you were holed up in the office. And that added physical activity may just get your creativity flowing.
23. Use all of your vacation days.
Those who are lucky enough to get vacation time often don’t put it to use. A recent survey found that 32 percent of people used zero of their allocated days last year. But taking a break is super important for your well-being. Don’t feel like taking a vacation? Try a mental health day, instead.
24. Call your family more often.
Chances are they’d love to hear from you and you can benefit from it, too. Research shows calling loved ones like your mom can ease stress.
25. Cut back on material spending.
Money does not buy happiness, according to science. Take your hard-earned cash and use it for an experience instead. There’s evidence it will bring you more joy.
26. Try team sports.
The camaraderie is great and you’ll pick up a new hobby in the process. Plus, it’s ― you guessed it ― good for your mental health.
27. Learn a language.
Say “hola” or “bonjour” to a new life skill. Research even supports the theory that it’ll boost your brain.
28. Forgive someone.
Anger and resentment is like holding onto internal poison and can even harm your physical health. Life’s too short to not move on.
29. Make regular doctors’ appointments.
Research shows that ― for the most part ― it’s okay to forgo annual physicals if you’re generally healthy individual. But that doesn’t mean throw caution to the wind and ignore your body. If you’re sick or something is off, see a doctor. That includes specialists like dermatologists and dentists.
30. Donate to an important cause.
That same kindness feedback loop that happens when you volunteer may also apply in this case as well. Here’s a list of organizations that may need your help right now, in particular.
31. Read one book a month.
Research shows reading can boost empathy and emotional intelligence. If you’re committed to diving into multiple novels this year, check out this list of tips and benefits that will help keep you motivated.
32. Bring your lunch to work every day.
Trust us, your wallet will thank you. Take a look at this breakdown to see just how much you’ll save.
33. Practice self-acceptance.
It’s actually a key to a happier life but it’s a habit people rarely practice. Make your internal dialogue as kind as it would be if you were talking to your best friend.
34. Say a mantra every day.
Mantras can keep you grounded in the moment, allowing you to reap the rewards of mindfulness, and they could help you actually believe what you’re saying after a while. (Yes, you are beautiful. And yes, you should repeat that to yourself every day if that’s what you need.)
35. Wear sunscreen.
Skin cancer is no joke. Luckily, there are tons of moisturizers that contain a little SPF.
36. Eat more (good!) carbohydrates.
Psst, the healthiest people in the world actually consume a lot of carbs. (Yep, you read that correctly.) Check out how to incorporate more of these important nutrients into your diet.
37. Cut back on alcohol.
Sure, a little is fine (who doesn’t love a good glass of Pinot Grigio?). But the negatives outweigh the positives in the long term in this case.
38. Go outside more often.
Not only does it improve your mood, you get the added perks of exercise. Win-win.
39. Give up the snooze button.
Seriously, you’ll feel much better for it. And maybe you’ll finally become one of those successful morning people.
40. Floss regularly.
There’s a reason your dentist nags you about that tiny string. Clearing your gums of bacteria is necessary for oral health, so do what you can to make sure they’re in good condition.
41. Make your bed every day.
No act of organization is too small. And it may make you happier.
42. Don’t use your smartphone before bed.
The type of light that’s emitted from screens can disrupt your sleep and keep you awake longer. Try ditching your device at least 30 minutes before you shut your eyes.
43. Do an activity outside of your comfort zone.
There’s a whole life to discover on the other side of your routine. Not to mention the fact that doing something different may boost creativity.
44. Pick a theme for the year.
If you’re starting to feel like this whole “resolution” thing isn’t for you, try sticking to a theme instead. Instead of picking a goal, pick a word you want to abide by for 2017. It could be “brave” or “confident” or “compassionate.” Whatever you want to start doing ― or being ― more of.
45. Fix your posture.
Straightening up is not only an instant confidence booster, it can also prevent back problems and reduce stress. Your future self may just thank you.
46. Sign up for a race.
There’s something satisfying about crossing a real finish line. Running comes with a lot of physical and mental health perks, from lower risk of disease to improved mood. Why not celebrate a running routine with a tangible medal of your accomplishments?
47. Marie Kondo your space.
Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, is the champion of the tidying method where you only keep items that bring you joy. Since then, the trend has gained traction and for a good reason. Not only does it keep your home clutter-free, there’s also a psychological health component to focusing on the materials that make you happy.
48. Cut back on social media.
Research shows that constant scrolling through a newsfeed can lead to social comparison, or the need to stack your life up against someone else’s. This can then lead to depressive symptoms. Take a step back from all of it and live your life based on how you feel ― not on how cool it’s supposed to look with a filter.
49. Spend time with people who think differently than you do.
Empathy, or the ability to walk in another’s shoes, is the foundation for a lot of positive perks. The more you expand yourself and open your eyes to different perspectives, the more open minded you become.
50. Love yourself.
Because you’re all you’ve got ― no matter what
The 30 Cheapest Places To Travel In 2017, if your new year resolution is to Travel
Time to start packing your bags: 2017 is shaping up to be a banner year for budget travel. The dollar is enjoying historic highs — meaning your money goes much further in many destinations around the globe — and according to an American Express Global Business Travel report, airfares are expected to fall in 2017.
1. Mazatlan, Mexico
Why: The current exchange rate ($1 = 20.69 Mexican pesos) makes Mexico one of the most affordable destinations.
For the frugal traveler who wants to enjoy more culture than they might in the Riviera Maya, my top pick is Mazatlan. As the shrimp capital of Mexico and a foodie paradise, Mazatlan is teeming with awesome eateries and fresh, interesting dishes. Hotels (including all-inclusive properties) are extremely inexpensive and authentic since most aren't part of the huge chains. El Cid Marina has awesome pools that are perfect for families, great food and huge rooms. (Rates are as low as $100 for a family of four.)
You can also enjoy superb dining at a top-notch restaurant like Casa 46 for less than half what you'd pay in the United States.
Side note: Sinaloa (the state where Mazatlan resides) grows the bulk of produce in Mexico, so Mazatlan produce is unbelievably cheap as a result. You see this reflected in top restaurants all the way down to street markets.
2. South Africa
Why: In South Africa, the exchange rate is in our favor, but so is the fact that it's a developed tourist destination with a solid infrastructure. In spending a month in Cape Town earlier this year and relying on Uber to get me to and from meetings, activities and lunches, I averaged under $20 in transportation per day — a major win.
Hotels are cheaper, too: Take a standard room at Taj Hotels & Resorts in New York, and you are out about $786 a night, whereas in Cape Town, a room at a similar luxury property costs $266. Remember, South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere, so seasons are the opposite: Consider going in low season (our summer) when hotels and safari lodges are even less expensive.
Airbnb and private villa rentals are also reliable and cheap options in the major cities. Travelers should also consider booking domestic airfare in advance for the greatest cost savings, since flights on South African Airways can sell out quickly.
The best value of all is the wine: Travelers can order a glass of one of the best locally produced varietals for less than the cost of a can of soda. For more information on travel in South Africa, watch "Michaela's Map: First Timers' Guide to Southern Africa."
3. San Juan, Puerto Rico
Why: The best way to get a deal in the Caribbean is to travel during the low season (end of April through mid-December) to destinations that have direct and frequent fights from your gateway; plenty of hotel inventory; and economies that aren't euro-based.
Puerto Rico fits the bill, and I'm a big fan of San Juan, which I think is seriously underrated as an easy and affordable getaway, especially for visitors from the East Coast of the U.S. Old San Juan oozes charm, and if you stay within the old city's two-square-mile radius you won't need a car rental to access great restaurants, sightseeing and shopping.
U.S. citizens can save themselves the cost of a passport since it's not required to visit, and since the U.S. dollar is the legal tender, there's no money lost on currency exchange. Hotel Casa Blanca and Villa Herencia are two of my favorite high-style/low-cost boutique hotels.
Why: Europe is on everyone's list of value-added trips this year and for good reason — the exchange rate is more favorable for American travelers than it has been in years. But the destinations I most dream about and long to return to are in South America, a destination that has long given travelers great value for money.
In Chile, I love Santiago for its vibrant food and wine scene — think tucked-away wine bars, delicious tapas and hip hotels in a beautifully chaotic city. For a lesser-known and truly special corner of the world, I love the small lakeside town of Puerto Varas. It is part of the lakes district in Chile and the northern start of Patagonia.
It is easy (and cheap!) to rent a car and explore this area. There is a surprising German heritage, so you'll see signs for "kuchen" (cake). With Puerto Varas as a hub, you can explore great places within a two-hour drive from the city: going to the top of a volcano, exploring waterfalls, finding the best cakes and food.
This area sees very few American visitors and everything is CHEAP. It's one of those places I almost want to keep to myself, but it's so special that I can't.
Why: With the U.S. dollar strong against the euro right now and the economic crisis in Greece keeping prices lower than other parts of Europe, it’s the perfect time to visit the beautiful island of Crete. Crete is a foodie dream come true.
A place where farm-to-table isn’t a new fad, it’s a way of life. The people here often live to be well over 100 years old so they must be doing something right! With truly stunning natural beauty (like Balos beach) and locals that welcome tourists with open arms, you are bound to have the trip of a lifetime and save a few dollars at the same time.
Why: For many, Morocco is the ultimate dream trip, and yet cost tends to keep most from visiting. But what you might not know is that it's one of the most affordable African countries, particularly when comparing flight costs. R
eaching Marrakech from cities such as Lisbon, Madrid and Paris may only set you back $40 to $100 roundtrip with many budget airlines. And this past Black Friday, flights from New York were a mere $400 roundtrip.
Food is by far my main reason for visiting as often as I do, and typical meals can range from $2.50 to $15 for two, which includes appetizers, entree and unlimited mint tea. For vegetarians and vegans, the country is especially great, as veggies are cheaper than meat and fresh fruit smoothies are barely $1.
Souvenir shopping can get a bit intense when you realize leather goods such as wallets, handbags and weekenders run from $5 to $60. (A shopaholics dream!) When it comes to accommodations there's something to fit everyone's budget, my favorite being Riad Yasmine (only $80-$160 per night).
For those looking for Moroccan luxury while still on a budget, my go-to is Riad Kheirredine, which will have you living like a queen without breaking the bank and even provides a cell phone during your stay to ensure guest safety.
Why: Modern conveniences and history collide in Belize. It's a perfect place to take a budget romantic vacation. Many of the four-star hotels offer extras, like bicycle rentals, included in their low rates, as well as Belize's excellent local wines.
Some affordable resorts to check out are George Hardie's Las Vegas Hotel in Corozal (Northern Belize) and the oceanside Royal Caribbean Resort in San Pedro along Ambergris Caye. Both can be booked for under $100 per night.
Meals are also crazy cheap, but delicious. Two can eat at an upscale restaurant for less than $30, and much less at an everyday venue.
Why: Affordable upscale accommodations, cheap and remarkably healthy food and beautiful sights make Vietnam a standout among budget-friendly South Asian destinations.
Eat your way through historic Hanoi, kayak in the emerald waters of Halong Bay or relax in ancient Hoi An and the nearby beaches. There are clean, safe accommodations to fit everyone's wallet. In Hanoi, my favorite is the Tirant Hotel, near the old town, where you can bag a room for less than $70 a night.
Don't miss the Hanoi street food tour: For just $20 per person, a guide will lead you on foot or by scooter through backstreets, markets and footpaths.
You will eat like the locals and learn the names and ingredients in the dishes so you can order them again. And be sure to take the time to sip a bowl of steaming "pho" noodle soup in restaurants, push carts and food stalls, where a street meal and a beer can cost the same as a caramel macchiato at Starbucks.
9. Costa Rica
Why: Costa Rica is the one of the most biodiverse places on the planet and to be able to see this on a shoestring is an incredible opportunity.
There's a ton of national parks to explore, for instance, that only cost a few dollars to enter. Once there, you can then enjoy free self-guided walks that won't cost you a cent, but will deliver some great encounters with amazing wildlife like tapirs, monkeys, sloths and macaws.
Manuel Antonio and Corcovado National Parks are two of the best. Public transport is also super cheap in Costa Rica, with buses generally less than $10, even for an eight-hour ride. This makes traveling between destinations in this compact country very affordable and means you can see a lot in a short amount of time.
In addition, budget accommodation in Costa Rica — even at some of the best surf beaches — can be as little as $6 per person. And a "plato tipico" (local dish) can be enjoyed anywhere for as little as $2-3.
Why: Portugal is a pocket of affordable travel in contrast to the rest of Western Europe, especially if you get off the highways and take the back roads (where you can also avoid tolls).
A bottle of delicious port and a plate of the day with a glass of wine can be found for around €5 each. Nowhere else in the world can its "California Highway 1 meets Tuscany" landscapes be enjoyed on such a budget, especially now that the dollar is strong against the euro.
Why: Although Ecuador is not quite as inexpensive as Peru to the south, it’s an easy and affordable destination to travel to, especially if you stay a bit off the beaten path. It’s a short cheap flight from Florida with budget airlines like jetBlue and TAME, and accommodation is pretty cheap.
Shop at your local market and you can get a week’s worth of groceries for $10. And Ecuador has lots of variety; from surf beach towns like Montanita, to the volcanic Banos with famed hot springs at the gateway to the Amazon basin, to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Cuenca in the high Andes, there’s a lot to see. The bus systems are good and domestic flights cheap and plentiful. F
ind a free accommodation option like house-sitting or volunteering, and your trip can be even cheaper.
Why: Barcelona is ranked right up there with cities like Paris and London as one of the most popular European cities, but it is by far the most affordable. This is thanks to low-cost tapas restaurants, endless free attractions and affordable things to do.
Have a meal of tapas and wine at El Xampanyet for around €10-15. Soak up the rays on the beach at Barceloneta. Get lost in the La Boqueria Market.
And take the tram up to Tibidabo (only €5) for sweeping panoramic views of the city; it's also where you can experience a vintage amusement park and a gorgeous cathedral.
13. Where: Guatemala
Why: Often bypassed in favor of nearby Costa Rica, Guatemala is unique unto itself in Central America. And because it's a bit more "off the path" in the region, it's also easy on the budget and a nice place to splurge.
The villas and hotels rimming Lake Atitlán have all the beauty you could want for a small fraction of the price you'd pay in Europe or elsewhere. From the lake, you can then delve into the country's unique culture by visiting the indigenous markets and villages in the Guatemalan highlands.
Lush Atitlan is a gorgeous, affordable place to stay in San Marcos La Laguna, the prettiest and most culturally interesting of Lake Atitlan's villages.
14. Bonaire & Curaçao
Why: In the deep Southern Caribbean, Bonaire and Curaçao are always out there on the edge of everyone's Caribbean consciousness. Both are known for scuba diving, but also for other water sports, hiking and amazing secluded beaches.
Vacation villas that let you live like a local are plentiful and affordable on both islands, but chain hotels like the Renaissance Curaçao Resort & Casino are an option on Curaçao (great if you're using points).
Bonaire gets its very first chain hotel at the end of 2016 when a Marriott Courtyard opens.
15. Las Vegas
Why: If you can avoid the slots, there are lots of free things to do in Vegas: The Flamingo's flamingo habitat, the fountains and conservatory at the Bellagio and the outdoor movies at the Container Park are just a few.
You can also find many places for cheap eats if you are willing to get off The Strip to do so. Check out the nearby Crown and Anchor, which serves up delicious British favorites, and Ninja Teriyaki Sushi 2 Go for fresh-made amazing sushi rolls in a no-frills setting.
Why: Sadly, the average income in Cambodia is about $950 per year. What does this mean for international travelers? Your international airfare might be expensive, but once you are in Cambodia, you can live well. Tuks tuks (a combo bike/taxi) and food cost just pennies. Even international hotel chains and luxury river boats down the Mekong are more affordable than other Asian destinations.
Before visiting, I suggest doing your homework to support luxury companies like the Shinta Mani Resort, whose foundation plays a large role in its community, building water wells, schools and farms and providing the best healthcare in the country to its employees. Culturally conscious companies like Aqua Expeditions sustainably introduce their guests to the communities along the Mekong River, including the floating markets and the farmers in the rice fields; the company can even arrange a conversation with a local Buddhist monk to discuss the significance of his journey from childhood to monkhood.
Why: If you're looking into an exotic long-haul trip, Bali offers a ton of high quality experiences for a great value. You can easily stay in a private villa overlooking stunning rice paddies with a private pool for around $50 per night. (Airbnb is a great way to go).
However, if you want to splurge a bit but not go overboard, a stay at a high-end luxury resort will still cost you less than a stay at a luxury resort, for example, in Maui. Not to mention, spa and transportation costs are quite low relative to other exotic locales, as well as the amazing and healthy food options that end up being a fraction of the cost elsewhere in the world.
Why: The weakened euro has made any trip to Europe more affordable, but this is especially true in Greece. The struggling economy craves tourist dollars and makes it known with affordable pricing on everything from hotels to food.
In Athens, you can book a three- or four-star hotel for well under $100, like 360 Degrees, a nice and modern hotel with a huge breakfast buffet included and an awesome location directly on Monastiraki Square.
Throughout the countryside, prices may be even better. Best of all, you can sit down to an amazing Greek meal with drinks (Mythos or Ouzo?), appetizers (Saganaki, anyone?) and entrees of your choosing for less than half what you'd pay in the States. Heck, you can pick up Souvlaki or a gyro for $1-$2. Souvenirs are insanely cheap, too.
Why: This forgotten corner of Europe is a wonderfully off-the-beaten-track budget destination in an otherwise very touristy and expensive continent.
With fantastic beaches along its coastline, including the fishing port of Saranda, Albania gives visitors the chance to enjoy the Mediterranean waters for a fraction of the usual price. Accommodation starts from as little as $5 per person and fishing trips or boat rides to the nearby islands are similarly well priced.
There's also some fascinating historical sites across Albania that are either free to enter or cost only $2-$5. From the moutainous medieval town of Gjirokastër to the Roman ruins at Butrint, this is a diverse and very different side of Europe, which is definitely worth visiting before the crowds do.
20. San Luis Potosí, México
Picture a perfect class III white water rafting experience through a limestone canyon of turquoise waters, a visit to a living garden of eden, complete with art sculptures, hidden pools, butterflies and waterfalls, a hike to the largest known cave shaft in the world, which you can rappel into, and a series of waterfalls for cliff jumping.
Top this all off with a plate of homemade tacos and a local beer for $2, and you've got yourself a piece of adventure paradise on a budget.
Still very much under the radar to anyone outside of Mexico, San Luis Potosí could be compared to Costa Rica in terms of adventure and Cambodia in terms of affordability. Since Election Day, the dollar has been especially strong in Mexico, offering an even better excuse to travel south of the border.
21. Quebec City, Canada
Why: Take advantage of the weak Canadian dollar and travel north for a 25% discount on prices.
Enjoy a slice of Old Europe without the jet lag or the cost of a transatlantic flight. Indulge in some of the best French food outside France — steak-frites, oysters and pastries at a bargain price. Stroll and shop in the narrow cobblestone streets of the picturesque Old Town and enjoy night parades and ice canoe races during the colorful Winter Festival in January and February.
22. Buenos Aires
Why: One of the world's most intoxicating cities, Buenos Aires has only grown in popularity, but it's still relatively cheap compared to European and Asian capital cities. There are many green parks, French-inspired architecture, late-night dancing, custom leather shops and fantastic food.
Taxis are relatively cheap (around $5-8 a ride), but you should also walk for miles in all of the distinct neighborhoods, like Palermo (try Salon Canning, a super casual milonga, or dance hall, after midnight). Must-try cheap eat in Buenos Aires: anything dulce de leche. It is everywhere — inside crepes, drizzled over grilled bananas and in gelato.
Tip: Bring a ton of American cash and you'll get better deals in many places. For example, I bought my custom leather jacket at a shop called Uru Recoleta (close to the famous Recoleta Cemetery) and was able to buy it for much less than using my credit card because I brought American dollars.
On Sundays, the place to be is the San Telmo market for browsing leather, antiques, watches, jewelry and more.
Why: While Haiti still remains under the radar as a travel destination, many people have been flocking to the vibrant country, and I can see why: The island provides all the stunning Caribbean characteristics without the high costs. Outside of holiday seasons and the later part of the summer, flights from New York range from $300 to $500, and even cheaper when flying from cities in Florida.
The real gem is how cheap the hotels are, with many starting at $50 to $150 per night including airport transfers. Even the newest Marriott Port-au-Prince will only set you back $130 to under $200 a night for larger rooms.
One of my favorites is Wahoo Bay Beach, which has epic mountain and ocean views from its stunning pool and rooms. You can take small boat tours around the area for a couple of dollars per person. Lobster, conch and crab can be caught right from the water and prepared for you without costing more than $10.
24. Santa Catalina Island, California
Why: Santa Catalina Island is one of my new favorite places. It is way more than a weekend SoCal jaunt. Hotels are quaint and average under the $200 per night mark. The Avalon Hotel is a charming choice. It’s right in the center of town, making it an easy walk to almost any activity. There is plenty to do, like kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, ziplining, hiking or just beach sitting.
The Catalina Island Museum is a must-visit stop to get the full story of the island's fascinating history, including its Hollywood connection. Food and shopping choices are extensive.
And you don’t need a rental car. Getting to the island is easy: Catalina Express Ferry whisks you to there from three different ports, Long Beach, Dana Point and San Pedro. I prefer Long Beach because flights there are often lower priced than neighboring LAX.
Why: With 17,000 islands, you are bound to find the ideal paradise to suit your travel and budget in Indonesia.
There are stunning untouched beaches that offer world-class snorkelling and scuba diving in Raja Ampat, fascinating Unesco World Heritage Sites dating back to the 9th century in Yogyakarta and — everywhere you turn — the friendliest locals. In Raja Ampat, we found a homestay that included breakfast, lunch and dinner — plus it was right on the beach for around $29 USD per person per night. For more, see Food Fun Travel's "Bali Food Guide."
Why: The entire Balkans region is an excellent option for budget travel, and if you haven't been before, I recommend starting with Bulgaria.
From wine country to snowy peaks to the Black Sea coast, it's an adventure playground that every budget can afford. In Bulgaria's wine country you can get a full winery tour with multiple tastings plus bread and cheese for about $5 (check out Villa Melnik winery), take a hike through Bulgaria's famous sandstone pyramids and then sleep in a beautiful authentic style hotel like Zlaten Rozhen with breakfast included for about $30.
27. Cusco, Peru
Why: Most people who pass through Cusco are en route to the very popular Machu Picchu, but you should make sure to spend a few days, maybe even a few weeks in this colorful city. Not only is the city absolutely stunning and oozing with culture, most accommodations range from $20 to $100 a night. Peruvian textiles are extremely affordable and the vibrant colors are stunning.
Eating out in Cusco can be extremely cheap, if you know where to eat. Restaurants are quite affordable compared to most American and European restaurants, but street food here is the real winner. I'm personally addicted to ceviche and can't find it cheaper than $15 for a small portion in the states, but in Cusco's San Pedro Market you can find ceviche plus Peruvian fried rice for only $3.
On my last trip, I had steak and ceviche nearly every day and never spent more than $15 for two including a drink and soup.
Why: Meagen Collins: This ancient European country is starting to grab the attention of travelers from all over the world. Georgia has so much to offer — beautiful scenery, unique culture and tradition everywhere you look, and the food will leave you drooling for more.
Add to that the fact this country lays claim to being the birthplace of wine (winemaking here goes back 8,000 years) and you have the ultimate new travel destination.
In Georgia, you can get a full meal plus copious amounts of wine for two people in a higher end restaurant, with live entertainment and still spend less than $30 — total. But get there fast: Word is getting around about this little gem and it won’t be tourist-free for long.
Why: This country is one of Africa's best budget travel destinations, with some extremely affordable accommodation situated along white sand beaches and next to an azure ocean. (Check out Villa Sands or Terraço das Quitandas.)
There's great scuba diving, too, and you can easily feel like a millionaire here for nothing! For more ideas, see Big World Small Pocket's "17 Incredible Budget Travel Destinations Still On My List (That Should Be On Yours Too!)."
30. Dallas, Texas
Why: Dallas is often overlooked, but packed with fun, food and great places to stay at prices far below the national average. (The city was voted the most affordable destination in the U.S. last year by Priceline and continues to remain a great value.) Downtown buzzes with excitement and culture, and the nearby Design District is exploding with eclectic shopping for home décor.
The high-rise Omni Dallas has rooms with stunning floor-to-ceiling views of the city starting at just under $200, putting you in the center of the action. With a rental car, you can fully explore everything the city has to offer. Look at fringe cities like Grapevine and Plano for the charm of small towns of yesteryear with main street shops and eateries.
The Gaylord Texan Hotel in Grapevine is convenient to DFW airport and offers full-out luxury at rates around the $200 mark.
32 important life lessons from 32 years
Sometimes so many questions accumulate in your head that you just have to find a way to release them. Olesya Novikova, a writer, journalist, blogger, and traveller, recently shared the life lessons which she has discovered over the 32 years of her life so far.Everyone has a fear. Even beautiful, talented, smart, and lucky people. We’re scared to start something new, to go out of our comfort zone, to take a risk, to do something that we never done before. We fear for our families, for our jobs, for our life, and for many other things as well. Fear will always exist. No matter how much experience, confidence, recognition, money or talent you have, you’ll be scared to a greater or lesser degree each time when you conquer a new height or do something new. But this is fine. This means you’re still alive. You have to keep going on. Go through and past your fear, and don’t try to get rid of it.
Changes will keep happening. Stability is illusory. We’re constantly on the move. We keep changing — outwardly and inwardly, and these processes don’t stop even for a second. A sane person doesn’t have the chance to pose the question — to change or not to change? He or she can only answer a different one: ’’Do I have control over these changes that are taking place, and to what extent?’’
’’Quickly’’ means ’’slowly, but without interruption.’’ There’s no need to do something quickly, intensely, or forcefully. Just do it regularly. The most important thing is to keep the rhythm going. Do it little by little, but constantly. And after some time, if you look at it from the outside, it will look like you did it quickly and efficiently.
Create more than you consume.Otherwise, you’ll be left with only a hopeless consumer lifestyle leading to no meaningful conclusion. ’’Everything is good, but there’s nothing good’’. A person must always create something, willingly and with love. This is a formula for good mental health. Curiously, this is the only way to enjoy the pleasure of consumption that won’t destroy the pleasure itself. You can consider this process as a spiritual version of having good metabolism.
Today’’ is what you did and thought yesterday, and ’’tomorrow’’ is what you do and think today. Repeat this phrase like a mantra for as long as you realize that no one else is responsible for the problems you come up against.
There are no guarantees at all. This is a basic rule of the universe which you need to take into account when making all your decisions and preparing all your plans.
The era of sacred knowledge is over.Now, it’s the era of informational hygiene. For several years already, knowledge hasn’t helped any of us achieve anything or attain a meaningful existence. The internet has devalued knowledge. The ability to concentrate on a given task without losing interest is now more important. And this skill is directly affected by the storm of information battering your mind at any given moment. The more verbal ’’garbage’’ is around, the weaker your concentration becomes. The more the thoughts of others circulate in your mind, the harder it is to hear your own voice. The online stream of information weakens your ability to discover yourself.
Joy and pleasure are not the same thing. We never experience real joy while eating a chocolate cake, drinking a glass of wine or smoking a cigarette. We don’t experience joy while buying new shoes or perfume. Let’s call things by their proper names — in these cases, we just get pleasure. And that’s another story. By its nature this feeling is very short-lived, and it’s inextricably linked to further dissatisfaction, boredom, satiety, and the desire for a new portion of pleasure. Don’t be afraid to give up pleasures, be afraid not to experience real joy.Suffering exists. Buddha was right after all.
Suffering exists. Everybody suffers. Both those who have nothing and those who have everything. Those who don’t suffer in the present will make the transition to a state of pain at a later date. Maybe because of the falling currency or because of a terrorist attack. Maybe because of finding out that someone doesn’t love him or her anymore. Or they’ll get upset because they don’t get a reply to a message they sent, or they don’t earn enough money, or for literally any other reason you can think of. Suffering exists. We will always find a reason to suffer. Just accept it, and do your best to ignore it.
Not everyone can be happy. Can everyone be happy? Yes, sure! But only in theory. In practice, only those who have disciplined their minds can be consistently happy, calm, balanced, and benevolent. Only those whose minds are trained and capable of not worrying about everything around them. Only those who manage to retain a sense of joy not only in agreeable circumstances but also in unpleasant situations. Otherwise, there’s an endless stream of events which will evoke only pain, irritation, and anxiety. And some situations are more serious than others. A person who reacts emotionally to every little incident can never be happy inside.
Joy means retaining a balance in your mind. If somebody had told me this five years ago, I would never have believed it. When you dream all day and night of finding your one true love, creating a family, a well-paid job, an opportunity to work for yourself, to travelk, you think that you know what joy is. At least, what your own joy is. Of course, you can’t always be satisfied with everything. Sometimes you suffer. And this is fine. The most important thing is that you know what to strive for. Looking at your dreams, you realize where your sense of enduring joy comes from. Joy is a state of complete peace of mind, which is achieved by overcoming the blind, automatic reactions of the mind to events. Practising a form of deep meditation is perhaps the only healthy way to discover and attain this state true maturity.
Know the importance of fruit and its physical effects. Fruit is not acidic, it’s alkaline. To divert into science for a second, all kinds of ripe fruit and vegetables have an alkaline reaction, helping to neutralise excess acid in your body. Things like meat, sugar, fat and dairy products have the opposite effect. Not many people know this — try googling it!
’’My body itself knows what is better for it’’ is one of the most insidious mind traps. An alcoholic’s body wants to drink; a smoker’s body dreams of a cigarette; our bodies are always hungry for chocolate and fries. How can the body know what is better? Our minds live by automatic responses that don’t let us make necessary changes; our bodies obey our habits and our chaotic impulses.
Food affects not only your body but also your mind. In the same way that alcohol significantly changes your consciousness, blunting it, certain kinds of food can have a similar effect, but it’s less pronounced and more unconscious. Food can slow down and refocus your thinking process. Moreover, it can weaken your control, your power of awareness, and your clarity of perception. A slightly ’’blurred’’ state of mind becomes a norm for you, so you forget what lightness and clarity actually mean. The most ’’clean’’ kinds of food are fresh fruit, vegetables, cereals, and that which is cooked with a minimum amount of oil, spices, and salt.
You need money only in order not to think about money. Money doesn’t solve the central question of humanity. It don’t make people happy. But the opportunity not to think about money, at least in everyday life, significantly releases energy for something else.
We have more similarities than differences. The value of personal uniqueness is greatly exaggerated. All the answers and solutions have already existed for a long time. In focusing on your own uniqueness, you don’t have the chance to push away your ego and perceive reality with all its real answers.
The best way to stop an addiction is not to have access to the thing your addicted to, at all. It’s impossible to drink one glass of wine if you’re an alcoholic. If you’re trying to quit smoking, you can’t still have a smoke from time to time. You’ll be constantly in a state of mental torture. You’ll go up and down. You’ll always have disruptions. This rule is immutable for all kinds of addiction.
You will never be fully prepared for change. We are never fully prepared for twists of fate or changes. There is always a strong ’’but...’’ and the temptation to postpone changes until a more favorable time. There is no point waiting for complete internal harmony. You just need to make a decision, relying on the thought that ’’it’s high time’’ to get things done.
Life is a book where the first chapters weren’t written by you. Sometimes even the subsequent chapters aren’t either. We’re composed of beliefs and we make up models of the world around us. And this world isn’t just abstract. It’s a concrete office, a house, a street — the places where we spend our life. It’s our friends, colleagues, parents, and the salespeople whom we meet every evening. It’s a news feed on social networks and so-called Facebook friends. We automatically absorb the opinions, positions, and viewpoints of other people. We imbibe them along with the air, regardless of whether we agree with them or not. And when we don’t agree, it’s also a moment of automatic denial. In childhood, this process was completely out of our control. The essence of your personality was forged by other people, and parental input (if it was ever there) wasn’t dominant in this. What and who you consider yourself to be and what you should be afraid to lose, according to some psychologists, is just a mosaic of your environment. There is nothing to lose. Isn’t that great news? At least in that case, you can redraw everything however you like.
A result is a bunch of attempts at something. It’s not a single well-aimed shot. And it’s certainly not just good fortune.
What helped you at one stage may one day prevent you from going on to the next stage. Sometimes it’s important to give up that which has helped you in the past. Here’s an example: rules for small businesses don’t work for huge corporations. It’s impossible to grow without giving up some of the rules, even if they helped you to grow up yesterday. This also applies to your personality, a person’s values, and their plans.
Outside of your comfort zone, there is a discomfort zone. And there’s no flowers and chocolates there. But you have to go there anyway if you want to achieve something.
There is no life without a purpose. The only question is whether you create these purposes yourself or leave it to your instincts to decide them for you.
Laziness doesn’t exist. There are unloved activities, there’s such a thing as a lack of energy and a lack of wide vision and ability to be excited about new perspectives. But there is no such thing as laziness.
You can’t find yourself; you can only create yourself. There is nothing and nobody to look for. You’re always here, in the here and now. Your path is what you have under your feet right now, nothing more — it’s not anywhere else. You can only distinguish between the right path and the wrong one by using your awareness. You pave small, but definite goals. If these goals are determined by others, or if they chaotically grow as a result of duty, it’s not your path. It’s just a bunch of separate episodes of your life.
You don’t need alcohol. At all.
Your unrealized potential will hurt you one day. It’s useless to hide this fact and instead stick inside your comfort zone. As they say, you are responsible for the talent that has been entrusted to you.
Banks should pay you, but not vice versa. This is the only possible way to be financially healthy. Never, never, never buy anything that you haven’t earned enough to pay for. Never. Especially if you want something big. We pay banks not only our money but also our energy. As a result, you don’t have the energy to take that risk and make adventurous plans. Breaking out from such a situation once that decision is taken is hardly going to be possible.
You need to learn how to work under pressure, and how to relax. Every movement requires exertion. If you make this move reluctantly and out of necessity, you’ll spend twice as much energy. In this case, you spend some energy on the physical and mental effort, and the mental stress saps the rest of your energy. That’s why you need to learn how to deal with stress when it appears and how to love it. If you сan put yourself under strain voluntarily, considering it only something positive, you’ll expend much less energy. The second part of success is the ability to relax, to accept things as they are, to let go of your expectations. You can’t move on if you only know how to be stressed, but don’t know how to relax.
’’Yes’’ and ’’no’’ are two answers that you need to learn as soon as possible.Learn how to say ’’yes’’ to situations and people in spite of the absence of guarantees, internal readiness, and changing circumstances. Learn how to say ’’no’’ first of all to yourself: to your weaknesses, your fears, and your selfishness. And only much later, learn how to say ’’no’’ to others.
There’s a difference between great things and good things. The latter you forget about, the former you don’t. A truly creative person is different from someone who simply does his job well. Creators put their tasks above themselves, dissolving their egos in the process. They work consciously and with love, not because of a sense of duty or a lack of choice. A marketer can be a true musician while a proper musician can be just a mediocre craftsman for their entire life.
Every sign that you meet on your way through life can be interpreted in at least three different ways. 1. Maybe this is a real sign! 2. Perhaps there are no signs at all. 3. Maybe this is a test. Maybe fate just attempted to knock you out of your stride by testing the sincerity of your intentions and your decisions.
Content Distribution Tools #Notes
When you’re creating useful, actionable, epic content, everyone deserves to see it. So how do you get your hard work and effort seen by the largest audience possible?
The 3 Types of Content Distribution Channels
Before we dive into the tools, let’s start with an overview of content distribution. Essentially, when you distribute your content, you do so in three basic channels.
OwnedEarnedPaidOwned media includes the channels that belong to you, where you control the content. This can be your blog, website, email newsletter, and social media profiles.
Earned media involves others sharing your content. This can take the form of social media shares, guest posts, media coverage, and product reviews.
Paid media is the exposure you pay for, be it pay-per-click ads, display ads, social ads, or otherwise.
When viewed in a Venn diagram, you can see that these channels provide a bit of overlap with one another as content distribution can touch on many different channels for the same piece of content.
With this idea framework in mind, let’s look at some tools that help accomplish content distribution in each of the three major distribution channels: owned, earned, and paid.
The 17 Best Tools for Widespread Content Distribution
We’ve found Buffer to be the simplest way to share your content to your social media channels on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can schedule your posts to publish at ideal times (or let Buffer decide when is best), and you can reshare older content by re-buffering straight from the app dashboard.
A new tool for reposting content from your archives, Edgar helps with evergreen promotion by linking to your social channels and sharing old content at a regular drip.
A complete, beautiful email signature that can contain the typical contact information plus a host of other social media, RSS, and content distribution tidbits. You can show your latest tweet or hook up your RSS feed to show your latest blogpost.
Create an email newsletter full of amazing links (including the content of yours you want to distribute). Goodbits lets you drag-and-drop content from a queue made up of any RSS feed you connect as well as any articles you add via the bookmarklet or browser extension. You can then customize, edit, and send to your contacts, including your MailChimp list and segments.
Speaking of email newsletters, MailChimp is one of the biggest and best (and free) ways to send email to your list of contacts. You can set up automated campaigns that deliver each new post that you write, or you can create campaigns from scratch. MailChimp offers free accounts for those with fewer than 2,000 contacts in their list.
The suite of tools offered by the SumoMe WordPress plugin helps considerably with owned media and earned media. For owned media, SumoMe offers list building tools that include a subscription scroll box, a signup bar, list popup, and incentives/giveaways widget.
In terms of earned media, SumoMe makes it easy for others to share images on your blogposts as well as the posts themselves.
7. OnePress Social Locker
This WordPress plugin allows you to lock a portion of your content behind a social share button so that the content can only be accessed once a user shares to Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.
8. Help a Reporter (HARO)
HARO lets you connect with journalists looking for a source. If you’ve got an expertise or experience in a certain area, you can sign up at HARO and a reporter could get in touch!
9. PR Newswire
Got something newsworthy to share? Consider going the press route. PR Newswire can help with distribution of news, announcements, and events to a variety of sources. If you sign up, a rep from PR Newswire will get in touch directly to authorize your account and help with any press release promotion you need.
Build a list about anything—resources for your niche, articles you love, helpful tools, recommended books, etc. Grab links from around the web (including yours), and publish and share—and even embed—your list so that others can see.
Buzzstream provides a host of services that assist with link building. You can find influencers in your niche who may want to share your content, and you can organize outreach efforts all the way from list building to measuring responses.
12. Boomerang for Gmail
Outreach to fellow bloggers and influencers may require a bit of followup. With Boomerang, you can schedule your emails and automate follow-ups.
Writers, authors, and journalists can create a portfolio at Contently, which can then be viewed and shared by just about anyone—readers, social media users, and even potential employers. The Contently platform helps connect content producers with those in need of content, and the service acts as a great way to distribute your own writing in one consistent place.
Collect content from across the web—blogposts, tweets, and more—and place it into a Storify page. We use Storify for recaps of our Bufferchats on Twitter. The service integrates all types of media from videos to articles and everything in between.
Have you ever come across a series of links at the end of an article? Would it be cool to see your content there? You can sign up for this kind of service at Outbrain, which feeds related/interesting content to pages all over the Internet.
Similar services include Disqus, Taboola, Skyword, and SimpleReach. Contently did a great breakdown of the pros and cons (and costs) of these paid channels, and Powered By Search has a list of great options, too.
16. Facebook sponsored posts
In a similar way to Facebook ads, you can pay to have your page’s posts seen by more users on the network. You can boost any post from your page and target the boost to reach a particular demographic of location, age, gender, or interest.
17. Promoted tweets
Like Facebook sponsored posts, you can get more views on your tweets by paying to promote a tweet to a larger audience. This occurs through the Twitter ads dashboard where you can compose an original tweet to promote or grab one from your stream that you’d like more people to see.