Sunday, February 28, 2021

Tips for Reaching Your Goal

Motivational Wheel of Planning

Maybe you intend to lose thirty pounds. Or perhaps you want to finish writing the next Great American Novel, clean out the garage so you can get the car inside, or chart your family tree. Whatever your goal is, here are a few tips to help you reach it.

Think about your goal as an end product. Then think about the process of achieving that product. Now you can change your thinking from reaching the end result goal to working your way along the process.

Divide the procedural path toward your goal into several smaller subgoals or intermediate endpoints along the path. Create a map that follows your process path and gets you to the final goal. Write it or print it out and post it where you will see it often.

Make a To Do list of tasks along the path to each subgoal from the prior subgoal or from your starting point. Put those items into your daily calendar. Check them off as you do them each day. You are trying to establish these actions as habits.

Think of appropriate rewards. These can be tiny for accomplishing your daily To Do. Maybe sitting quietly and listening to one song by your favorite artist after you have filled one trash bag of discards from the garage. Rewards can also be more substantial for reaching an intermediate goal point. How about downloading a new novel for your e-reader once you have written and edited three more chapters? Rewards should not interfere with your progress. If your goal is weight loss, don’t reward yourself with a candy bar.

Find your motivators and use them. This can be inviting a friend to exercise with you every day on Zoom. It could be attaching your goal to a cause, such as choosing a charity to support as you use your treadmill. It could be posting your progress on Facebook or magneting a snapshot of yourself in a swimsuit to the refrigerator door.

Allow yourself some flexibility. Things happen, situations change, and you may need to adjust your subgoals or even your goal. Remember, some progress is better than none.

How Healthy is Your Breakfast Cereal?

A bowl of multi-colored sweetened cereal with milk and a spoon

An easy way to find the answer to that question is to ignore the advertising and the appealing messages on the front of the box and look at the nutrition label.

First, how much fiber is in a serving of that cereal? Never purchase a cereal with less than 3 grams of fiber per serving. Five or more grams of fiber is even better. Undigestible fiber helps regulate your blood sugar and your feelings of hunger. Dietary fiber is an important aid to preventing many diseases.

Second, check the calories per serving. Healthy types of breakfast cereals serve up less than 120 calories per serving. (While you are at it, look at the serving size. You may need a smaller bowl at breakfast to limit those calories!)

Finally, look at the added sugar. Your serving of cereal should have less than 13 grams of sugar. Don’t even think of sprinkling on more. In addition to weight gain and tooth decay, excess sugar in your diet increases your risk of heart disease and other health issues.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

February 28 is Rare Disease Day

Rare Disease Day 2021 Logo

February is Heart Health Month, but there are other important dates in the month. Feb 28 (or Feb 29, if available) is Rare Disease Day.

Did you know that 1 in 20 people will live with a rare disease at some point in their life? Over 6,000 rare diseases have been identified. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the majority of rare diseases and the causes of many are unknown.

You can learn more about rare diseases in Second Life. At 10am SLT (Pacific time), Gentle Heron will present information about Rare Disease Day at the Research Pavilion on Virtual Ability’s Healthinfo Island. Join us here:

At noon SLT, Community Virtual Library and Conrado F. Asenjo Library at the University of Puerto Rico will share awareness information about rare diseases here:

EURODIS (Rare Diseases Europe) is the organization that began Rare Disease Day awareness events in 2008. They are holding a fundraiser all day with DJs and music at

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Things to Do - Healthinfo Island Exhibits and Displays for February 2021

Pink heart on a stick
Heart Healthy Month - Keep Your Heart Pink and Healthy!

February is Heart Health Month!

You can teleport to any of the eight displays and exhibits using the SLURLs in this notecard. Click on the poster with the same name as the title of the poster set, and you will get a notecard that contains all the text of the posters plus descriptions of the images.

If you click each poster, you will get a message with additional information and live links.

Central Pavilion of Healthinfo Island

Heart Health Awareness Month

Alcohol and Your Heart

Signs of Heart Disease That You May Not Recognize

Heart Healthy Diet

Surprising Heart Facts (a quiz!)

Things You Didn't Know About Cholesterol

How We Damage Our Hearts

Preventing Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Tips - Tricks to Cook Leaner

Picture of overweight man behind a burger and fries
Sometimes a cheeseburger and fries is not good for you

Meats are one source of excess fat in our diets. Consider substituting lower fat ingredients, such as ground chicken (6 grams fat/4 ounce serving) or turkey for higher fat ground beef (11-17 gm fat/4 oz) in recipes from meatloaves to tacos. You might also see if your taste buds will accept turkey bacon (28 grams fat per 100 grams cooked) or lean prosciutto (5 gm fat/100 gm serving) instead of pork bacon (42 gm fat/100 gm cooked).

Full-fat dairy products are another source of dietary fats. If you typically use sour cream (48.2 gm fat/cup), try fat-free plain yogurt (0.4 gm fat/ cup) instead.

Cooking oils are another common source of fat in our foods. Did you know that you can substitute applesauce (.2 grams fat/ cup) for half of the butter (184 gm fat/ cup) or canola oil (218 gm fat/ cup) in recipes for quick breads and cakes?

These simple switches can aid your campaign against excess dietary cholesterol and other fats. To check out fat content of foods and ingredients, and even find out how much exercise you would need to do to burn off the calories, check out the CalorieKing website.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Things to Do - What can you do without a mask and still be safe?


Man in gray t-shirt picture-framing his face with his hands

How many ways can you think of to have fun without wearing a mask, but still being safe?

The University of Nebraska Medical Center has a list of 78. Try some out this weekend!

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Things to Do - Donate Used Clothing During the Pandemic

Picture of clothes hanging on a rack

A widely circulated idea is that “No One Wants Your Used Clothes Anymore.” But this isn’t actually true. The economic crisis accompanying the pandemic has many individuals and families seeking free or inexpensive clothing.

Check first with local thrift stores. COVID has changed store policies. They may no longer provide pick up services, but many have drop off locations. Find additional COVID response information for national thrift store organizations here:

Online thrift and consignment stores allow you to make a little cash for clothing you are willing to part with. One large popular site is ThredUP for women’s clothing, shoes and accessories, and children’s wear. You pack up your discards in their free shipping package and send it to ThredUP; they take it from there. You can earn cash or shopping credits on the site.

Poshmark bills itself as a “social marketplace for new and secondhand style.” They accept clothing for women, men and children, as well as home decor and (only new) beauty items. You set up a sales “closet” for your discards that buyers can shop online, and Poshmark takes a commission on your sales.

Online peer-to-peer marketing is another option. For example, eBay provides additional support for buyers and sellers during the pandemic.

You can’t use the excuse that no-one will accept gently used clothing now to avoid cleaning out your closet. As Planet Aid points out, you can help other people and aid the Earth by donating your used textiles and secondhand clothing responsibly.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Safety Indoors This Winter

Black and white cartoon of person in hat being coronavirus-responsible

We’re indoors more in the winter, and that makes it easier for respiratory viruses to spread. The
University of Minnesota has several suggestions of how to make winter at home safer this year by layering varied protective measures.

Of course, we should continue wearing face masks in public indoor areas such as stores. Social distancing is still a strong recommendation; the University recommends thinking of an appropriate separation as being in your own individual parking lot space.

Recommendations that may be new to you come with explanations. Since respiratory viruses are spread by aerosol transmission, you will want to limit conversations and being in the same space as another person to less than 15 minutes to avoid sharing each other’s breath. Even talking more quietly or not talking unless necessary can reduce transmission of respiratory viruses.

We can improve indoor ventilation by operating window air conditioners with an outdoor vent, or opening windows if the weather permits; or we can establish safer work zones using full-length plastic curtains and portable air purifiers.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Are You Cognitively Distorted?

Multicolored distorted television image
Distorted television image

Although this sounds like a new kind of psychological disability, it’s not. Cognitive distortions are inaccurate perceptions of reality. These distortions come from types of thinking that can damage our personal wellness and, when a group of people fall into the same style, can result in dangerous uncivil behavior.

What are some types of thinking that employ cognitive distortion? Some common ones are mind reading, permanence, emotional reasoning, catastrophizing, and polarization.

Mind reading happens when we are given only part of a communication and our thoughts then predict the remainder. Since most of us have a natural negativity bias, we often think up the worst-case scenario.

This is a mental shortcut, but it can lead us in entirely the wrong direction. A better strategy is to ask the person sending the abbreviated message for additional clarity.

“You texted me that we had to talk as soon as I got home from work. Did I forget our anniversary?” “No, nothing like that. I’m pregnant!”

“I saw you leave during my presentation. Is my thinking on this topic flawed?” “Not at all. I agree with you. I just really had to get to the restroom.”

Permanence is the mistaken belief that a situation will last forever. This is usually expressed in terms of absolute words. “I am always clumsy.” “I will never be able to hold a job.” “We are always going to have to wear a mask when we leave the house.”

If you find yourself thinking like this, challenge the thought by restating it without absolutes. “Gosh, that was clumsy of me. Next time I will watch where I step.” “I got laid off from that job, but I found it after looking for only a week. I can beef up my resume with volunteer work until I find another job.” Challenge thoughts of permanence with counterevidence.

Emotional reasoning falsely translates a feeling into a personal description. “I feel bad now, so I must be a bad person.” “I feel angry at my spouse, so I must be a poor partner.”

The best way to combat this cognitive distortion is to recognize that no matter how strong the emotion, it will pass; feelings always change, eventually. Emotions do not define us. Remind yourself of this when a strong emotion hits. “I feel terrible now because that project didn’t work out. It’s OK to feel bad about it, because that means it was important and I really tried hard. I can try something different next time.”

Catastrophizing occurs when your thoughts maximize or minimize outcomes. You jump to conclusions based on overemphasizing unimportant facts or minimizing important ones. “Oh no! I noticed a lump under my skin. I’m going to die of cancer.” “Sure, he says mean and untrue things about me to his family. I must be an inadequate wife.”  

Catastrophizing is exaggerating. To counter this type of thinking, focus on specific, perhaps small, details that are not as extreme.

Polarization is all-or-nothing thinkingeither this or not-this, with no middle ground. The two opposite categories tend to be at the extremes of a continuum with no consideration of intermediate positions. You will often see this on social media. “If you don’t believe as I do, you are evil.” “You have to accept my solution or you will cause the situation to fail.”

When counteracting this style of thinking, whether by yourself or by someone else, it is important to acknowledge that the extreme positions do both exist. Then offer an intermediate suggestion as a “however.”

To read more about these and other forms of cognitive distortion, please see the following: