9 Creative Ways to Work Abs without crunches

Getting down on the floor and completing a bunch of crunches, for me, is not fun. If it’s fun for you – keep up the hard work! If you dislike it as much as I do, but you want to strengthen those ab muscles, try some of these creative ideas. For additional creative ideas about exercise, checkout 20 Creative Ways to Get Exercise.

1. Flex it. This one isn’t that creative, but it’s important to remind yourself that you have control over your muscles, and you can work them any time you want! Whether your driving, watching television, or at the computer. You can tighten those abs as hard as you want, for as long as you want, as often as you want. That’s a pretty obvious and easy way to work your abs!

2. Dance. Whether you’re home alone, with a partner, or out at the dance clubs. Move those hips side to side while thinking about your abs, move your but front and back while thinking about your abs. See how many dance moves you can do while using your abs. Dancing is fun and you can do it any time that you’re home.

3. Sit and Stand up Straight. Forcing yourself to have good posture will include pulling those abs in. Plus it makes you look good. Two benefits out of one easy thing. So go ahead, sit up straight – just like your mom has been telling you to do your whole life!

4. Replace your recliner with an Exercise Ball. You know what I’m talking about – one of those giant balls. You know you secretly think they’re a lot of fun. So push your recliner to the side (or out to the garage) and use your ball! You can find plenty of ways to work those abs while your enjoying television or a good movie.

5. Push Ups. Yes, push ups work your chest and shoulders, but they also work your “core” aka your abs! Don’t believe me, get in the push up position, and go down. Now hold it for as long as you can. Feel something in your abs? I thought so. Why are push ups a creative alternative to crunches when you still have to get down on the floor? (because you’re working a BUNCH of muscles out at once, not just your abs)

6. Twist and Punch. I get this one from that intense Tae Bo guy, Billy Blanks. Go into a squat and start punching to the opposite side of your body, but still forward. Use your abs to turn your body. You should be making an “X” with your arms, as your right fist punches left, and your left punches right. Why is this one good? Again, because you’re working multiple muscles: abs, arms, legs. More bang for your buck!

7. Squat and Lean. I got this one from a Pilates/Yoga instructor in college. Get into the squat position, and put your hands on your head. Now lean your upper body to the side, bringing your elbow towards the ground. The lower you go, the harder the workout for your abs. Now do the other side.

8. Colon cleanse. This doesn’t exactly work your abs, but it’s a good way to flatten your abs. The average person carries about 5 pounds of excess weight in their colon. Pretty disgusting, I know. For the visual, I like to pick up my 5 pound hand weight and imagine that stuck in my colon. Gross. If you clean that junk out (which is sitting right under your abs) your abs will look flatter. Plus, you’ll be healthier!

9. Skip the gadgets. Save your money and don’t buy those silly ab gadgets that promise to get you flat abs. The reason they work is because they get you to actually exercise. If you can get yourself to exercise and work your muscles, you will get the same results. Put that money towards something more useful, like #8.

Here’s some good resources:

Get Fab Abs (without crunches) Shows some standing exercises to work your abs, with pictures!

Better Abs without crunches includes some more hard core workout moves, but it’ll work!

Yoga and Pilates for Abs with no crunches

Good luck, and I hope you start working those abs (without getting on the floor!).

11 Ways to Make Getting Up in the Morning a little EASIER

Unless there is something exciting to look forward to during the day, I typically struggle with waking up and getting out of bed in the morning. I often dread the day and wish I could sleep “a little longer.” For those of you who are able to jump out of bed on the right side with a smile on your face and excited about the day, I am very happy for you. Perhaps you can leave a comment on how you do it (what goes through your mind, have you always done it, what advice could you give).

Ways to Make Getting Up in the Morning Easier

1. Don’t Stalk the Clock. Setting three (or more) alarms over an hour is not a good way to wake up in the morning. Opening your eyes to glance at the time every few minutes will fill you with dread and worry about the moment that clock hits the time that you actually need to get out of bed. Laying there thinking about getting up will only make it harder. The solution?

2. Set ONE Alarm. Put the alarm clock (or cell phone) on the other side of the bedroom. Set it for the time you actually need to comfortably get ready for the day. By setting it across the room, you’ll need to get out of bed to turn it off. This is they key here. When you walk across the room, do not just turn it off and go back to bed. The solution?

3. Go to the Bathroom. Walk your tired and cranky butt to the bathroom. Use the bathroom. Wash your hands, then wash your face. Take some deep breaths and stretch. You may even drink some water before going to bed in the evenings so you’ll need to use the bathroom even more. As you know, you can’t lie in bed all day. At some point, you will need to get up. The key is avoiding hopping back into bed once you do get up.

4. LIGHT. Turn on the lights and open the windows. If it’s still dark outside (I feel your pain) turn on all the lights. Your bedroom, living room, bathroom, etc. The light will spark your brain into daytime mode to help you get out of sleep mode.

5. Sound. Turn on the television or radio. If you feel extra cranky in the mornings, turning on a favorite CD (and singing or dancing along) will surely brighten your mood on those more difficult mornings.

6. Positive Thoughts. If you’re lying in bed thinking about how horrible your day is going to be, you’re never going to get out of bed. You might have a horrible day ahead of you – boring work, challenging work, dealing with difficult people, or maybe you know you’re going to get in trouble from your boss. Lingering on the bad things ahead while you’re lying in bed in the morning (or night) will make it nearly impossible to get up and have a successful morning or day. Set those thoughts aside. Tell yourself that you will worry about those later. Now start talking positively to yourself (in your head or out loud if you live alone). Some examples: I’m strong, I’m smart, I’m capable, I can do this, I will do something fun today, I am loved, I feel good, I feel great, I feel strong…and repeat this over and over and over until you start to feel better.

7. E-mail. Instead of hopping back into bed, commit yourself to writing one positive e-mail to someone you care about each morning. Writing something encouraging to someone else will help you feel better about yourself, about the day ahead – which will hopefully prevent you from groaning your way back into bed.

8. Get enough sleep. This one is pretty obvious. If you feel rested, you won’t have as much need to yank the covers over your face to squeeze in a few extra minutes. Go to bed and go to sleep!!

9. One good thing. Before you go to sleep. Write down (on your computer, on paper, on a whiteboard, anywhere) ONE good thing you get to do the next day. As soon as that alarm charms, think about that one thing as you stumble across the room to turn it off. Get excited about your day! Even if it’s only for ONE thing.

10. Annoying Pets. Sometimes it’s a lot easier to do things for others than for ourselves. Get an annoying pet who annoys you in the morning to take them out. They’ll help you get your lazy bum out of bed. And when you let them back in, why don’t you play for a minute? Throw their ball, rub their bellies, and show them some love. The combination of activity and showing love will make your day easier to start.

11. Bribe yourself. If you’re continuously struggling with getting up in the morning, bribe yourself. You know yourself best, so you’ll know what will be most effective. Choose something small and tangible. And make it daily, so there’s a reward every morning. For example, “When I get up without crawling back into bed, I get a yogurt parfait from McDonald’s.” Condition your body to enjoy getting up in the morning. Scary, I know.

Here’s another good resource: How to Get Up Right Away When Your Alarm Goes Off

Good night and Good luck!


Ways to Fall Asleep

Many of us struggle with falling asleep when we want to. It’s incredibly frustrating when you trudge through a day completely exhausted, and then when your ready to clock out and get some rest – you can’t. The most common probably preventing people from falling asleep?

Thoughts.

That darn brain. Thinking keeps your brain awake, which in turn keeps YOU awake. Most of the solutions for helping individuals fall asleep involve quieting those thoughts.

As an individual who doesn’t have problems falling asleep, I was struggling to come up with some good ideas. And as I promised, the content on these Happy Lists are 100% original. So, since I was unable to come up with a good list, here are some GREAT lists that did a better job than I could have. Good night and good luck!! Hope you find some rest!

How to Fall Asleep in 31 Steps (includes good tips and suggestions in addition to the 31)

10 Ways to Fall Asleep Faster (offers some contradictions to other lists, but you have to pick what will work best for YOU)

5 Ways to Train Your Body to Know when it’s time to sleep

Ways to Fall Asleep and Have a Good Night’s Rest

Melatonin – The Natural Way to Fall Asleep Easily

If you try a TON of things, and you’re still struggling with Insomnia – go see a doctor and get a referral to a sleep specialist. Your regular MD may be tempted to drug you up with prescriptions, but if you go to a sleep center, they can hook you up to machines 🙂 and will have a better chance of discovering the real reason why you’re not falling asleep. Good luck!

9 Ways to maintain long-distance friendships

Whether you met in high school, college, or some other time in life – chances are high that distance will come between you and some of your closest and dearest friends. How are we supposed to maintain long-distance friendships? Some people find it difficult enough to maintain friendships with people in the same town.  So how are we supposed to survive hundreds of miles?

The truth is that it isn’t easy. And that’s okay…if you’re willing to put in a little effort occasionally. And that effort might pay off tenfold if: you suddenly live in the same area, you get married, you get divorced, you have children, you travel through their town, or if you just want to maintain that friendship because it’s important to you.

Ways to maintain long-distance friendships

1. Commit. Just like in a romantic relationship, friendships require commitment. If you’re not willing to make the commitment to stay connected to someone you care about, then simply put – you won’t.

2. Variety. Myspace. Facebook. E-mail. Texting. Calling. There are a variety of ways to stay connect, so there is no excuse not to! The better the friend, the more variety in their ways to connect to you. If you are only using myspace to stay connected to your best friend, chances are that you probably won’t be best friends for very long. It’s important to hear their voice! So use a variety of methods.

3. Driving. I hate people who talk on their cell phone and drive!! But I’m guilty. It’s my main way of staying connected to my best friends. If it’s going to take me 20 minutes to get home, I might as well do something positive on the way there. Headsets are a great idea, and don’t be afraid to say – “hold on” when your driving requires some more attention. And please don’t hit me with your car. Thank You.

4. Memory. While your friend is telling you all about her experiences with new friends, people, and work – it’s likely that you won’t know any of these people. Trying to keep everybody and everything straight can be a challenge. What’s a solution? Write it down. You will need to work extra hard to remember what your friend is saying because you’ll have no other personal connection to it all. Remembering the details and the people’s names is a great way to show your friend that you care and you are paying attention. Need some help remember?

5. Notebook. Grab a spiral notebook while you’re chatting on the phone (NOT while you’re driving!) and jot down the important stuff – people places, etc. Glance over it again to refresh your memory before calling or writing your friend. Little details make a big difference.

6. Plan a yearly trip. Even if you’re both broke, plan a trip together every year (more if you have the funds to do so). Make it an annual thing and take lots of pictures. You can go to your friends place, your friend can come see you, or you can both go somewhere else together. Bring spouses and partners if you want, but warn them that it’s going to be a lot of “catching up” and it could get boring for others.

7. Snail mail. Sending things in the mail may be a thing of the past, but if you don’t want your friendship to ALSO be a thing of the past, it’s time you figured out how to mail things. Yes, there are stamps involved. The post office can help you, but be prepared to wait in line and deal with cranky people. What can you send your friend? Anything! A note, postcard, letter, picture, book, cd, anything!

8. Their friends. Your friend will make new friends. Be ready to accept that, and even more importantly – get to know them! Meet them, write them, talk to them. These people surround your friend’s life. If you are even just casual friends with the new friends, you will stay closer. If they want to surprise your friend, or if your friend really needs help – these new people will know they can count on you. And so will your friend.

9. The bad stuff. When you experience something bad – whether it’s a bad day, or just a bad moment (feeling lonely, sad, angry, etc) call your friend. That’s what friends are for. Don’t think that just because it’s a long distance friendship that you can only share the good stuff. Great friends are there for the good AND the bad. So be sure to call when you need someone to talk to.

Here’s some more good info:

eHOW – How to maintain a long distance friendship

Friends and Friendship

10 Reasons to do Push-Ups

The 100 Push-Up Challenge has become quite popular. I am personally just starting! For a motivator, here are some reasons to do push-ups. This is a great training tool to get you to meet that 100 push-up mark. I’m just starting the program, but I’ll update as soon as I’m done!

1. Muscles. Push-Ups help you build muscles. And muscles burn fat. And burning fat is good. Muscles also look sexy.

2. Lots of muscles. Instead of working one muscle out at a time, push-ups work-out lots of muscles. Don’t take my word for it. Do as many push-ups as you can today. See which muscles hurt tomorrow. I promise it will be more than one.

3. Free. Push-ups are intense. You don’t have to pay to use a gym or fancy equipment. It’s all you baby.

4. Anywhere. You can do push-ups virtually anywhere that has gravity. For comfort and safety, you might not do them anywhere, but you get the point.

5. Impress your friends. I’m not talking to just the guys here, we all know how impressive it is when someone can literally drop down and give you 50…or 100 for that matter.

6. Self-esteem. The more push-ups you do, the better you will feel about yourself.  And they call that positive self-esteem, and that sounds pretty nice to me!

7. Military. In case you choose to join the military, you’ll have the push-up thing mastered!

8. Jail. This is kind of like #5, Impress your Friends.  If you end up in jail or prison for some reason, you’ll impress your cell mate if you can do a bunch of push-ups.  Maybe this will help you avoid some bad situations.  Maybe.

9. Bragging rights. Not just your friends will be impressed, but strangers too!  You can totally brag about how many push-ups you can do.  Just be prepared to prove it.  That will definitely impress members of the opposite sex…or not.

10. Lose weight.  Experts say that exercise is needed to lose weight.  Push-ups are a form of exercise.  That added bonus of push-ups is that they build muscles, which increases your metabolism, making you burn more fat.  So congrats.  Now you’re losing even more weight.

Here’s some additional good reason to do push-ups:

Laurens Fitness (it’s about shoulder blades)

One Hundred Push Up Challenge

15 Reasons NOT to shave your head

It was a sad day in my life when George Carlin passed away. Yes, he was a crazy drug user in his days and (in his words) he was old as f@#%. I enjoyed his humor, and even though his schtick was negative, vulgar, and downright mean, It’s hilarious. It makes me laugh. And laughter makes people happy. So George Carlin is a welcomed inspiration here at Happy Lists.

This list is inspired by one of his routines. The clip of the specific joke can be found here.

I say hey, you goofy looking baldy-headed f@#$. It looks good on black guys. On you, it’s ugly, repulsive, and disgusting. You want to be bald? Do what I did. Wait a while. In the meantime, there’s no excuse for running around looking like a freshly circumcised pig.”

~ George Carlin

Reasons NOT to shave your head

*Please note: This blog entry is just for fun. If you are white and want to shave you’re head, go for it! I’m sure you look great. Don’t take this post too seriously.

1. You’re White. Sorry guys, I’m going to have to side with George Carlin, as will a lot of other women. It’s just kind of gross when your head is shaved. You’re white. You just can’t pull it off that well.

2. You HAVE hair. If you’re not having a balding problem, what are you thinking? You HAVE hair. And in our culture, hair is a valued asset. Appreciate it. There are plenty of baldy-headed guys out there who would. Show them some respect!

3. Sunburn. This goes back to being white, but even if you’re not white – that scalp of yours that has never seen daylight will burn. And let me tell you, that’s REAL attractive. Was that a skin flake I saw just fall to the table during our date? Ooohhh…sexy.

4. The illusion of saving you money. Shaving your head will save you money? Really? You didn’t buy an extra razor to do it yourself did you? If it’s summer, you’ll want to invest in sunblock. And if it’s winter, you might want to invest in a beanie. Money? Splurge for the $7.95 haircut at Supercuts every other month. It’ll be worth it!

5. It makes you cooler. I mean doesn’t. I’m not saying it doesn’t make you look totally radical and awesome. I’m saying that if you’re reason for shaving your head is to “keep cool” while it’s hot out, you’re silly. There’s a reason those middle-easterners rap their heads in cloth. It’s not a fashion statement. Hair is a good way to protect your head from the sun’s blaring rays. So yes, shaving a dog helps them cool down seeing as they don’t sweat like human. But if shaving your head is the only way for you to cool down, I think you might want to seek some medical advice.

6. You’re not in the military. Are you?

7. Skinheads. I don’t think you EVER want to be confused or accused of being a Skinhead.

8. Ancient Greece. If you’re into history. Long hair was a sign of richness and wealth, and shaved heads were saved for slaves.

9. Punishment. Do you realize that people get their heads shaved as punishment? Think prisons, people, prisons.

10. Lice Problem. Wait, this is a reason TO shave your head. Yucky.

11. Supporting Cancer Patients. Again, this is a good reason TO shave your head. If your not shaving your head to support someone going through chemotherapy…it’s not half as cool. Sorry.

12. Britney Spears. Right?

13. Funny Shaped head. You may not realize it, but chances are that you have a funny shaped head, and this will only be more obvious once the hair is gone.

14. Super Hot. If you’re not, you’re not going to pull it off. Your girlfriend saying you are super hot doesn’t qualify you as super hot, either.

15. Not for you. If you’re considering shaving your head for anyone but yourself (minus #11), don’t do it. If you’re not doing it for YOU, then it’s not for you.

*Update: This is intended to be humorous, not hurtful.  If you’re offended because you or someone you love has a shaved head – relax.  I’m sure you look fine.  This is just my opinion.

20 Creative Ways to get Exercise

In my last post, I made a list of 7 Simples Ways to Lose a little Weight, and one of the list items included “Get Creative.” Adding movement and activity in small ways can add up to some extra exercise to help us lose a little weight or stay healthy. Exercise doesn’t always have to be 30 minutes of cardio activity. Sometimes, it can just be little things that get us moving. So, challenge yourself to do a couple of these each day, and you might surprise yourself with the results:

1. Sit and be Fit. There’s a program called “Sit and be Fit” for elderly people who need to exercise. It’s a session of exercise that’s completed entirely while sitting down. I’ve taken that idea and turned it into my Couch Potato Sit to be Fit. I have a couple hand weights by my recliner, and while I’m watching television or a movie, I’ll sometimes grab the hand weight and do some exercise. Once you start, you’d be amazed at how creative you can get in finding ways to work different muscles while sitting in a recliner. Even just flexing your abs or butt muscles for the length of a commercial is something.

2. The Flex Challenge. Can you flex your abs? butt? pull your shoulders back? Challenge yourself to do this each time something happens. For example, flex your abs every time you walk through a door. Or if you’re driving, flex your butt every time you turn. Get creative with it and have some fun.

3. Brushing Teeth Squats. If you have a Sonicare toothbrush, it takes 2 minutes to brush your teeth. You can do 2 minutes of squats, lunges, or wall-sits. That’s better than just standing there staring at yourself.

4. Washing Dishes Calf-Raises. I hate washing dishes, and I hate exercise – so I might as well do both at the same to get it over with. While standing at the sink, do some calf-raises. That’s not too difficult.

5. An extra flight of stairs. If you have stairs in your home, you have a great tool to add exercise. A couple times a day, when you are headed up (or down) the stairs to get something, go up and down one extra time. Pretty easy.

6. The dog. If you are blessed with a dog, you have a super easy way to add exercise to your life. If a walk around the block is just too much for you (because you don’t want to get dressed, put on shoes, and go through the effort) just chase your dog around your house. Add a toy. It’s fun, exhausting, and no one has to see you do it.

7. Dance. While you’re getting dressed in the morning, put on some music that makes you want to dance. Instead of walking to the closet, kitchen, bathroom – you can dance. You can do this in privacy and it’s a great way to start the day.

8. One More. I have a goal to be able to do 100 consecutive push-ups. I’ve always dreamed of being able to pump them out with ease. Each day, add just one more. If you start with 3 that’s okay. Tomorrow, you’ll push yourself to do 4. We can all do just “one more.”

9. 5-minute clean. Set the timer (on your oven or cell phone) for 5 minutes. Now, pick-up and clean as much as you can in your house. That means you might need to run to the living room and then run to your bedroom to put that crap away. Having a timer will motivate you to get as much done in 5 minutes as possible. That will make you move faster which will get you moving.

10. Counter-top push-ups. Every time you go to the bathroom in your home, do a set of what I call counter-top push-ups. Stand back, put your hands on the edge of the counter, and do some half push-ups. Start with a set of 5 and see how many you can get up to. It only takes a few seconds and you’re there anyway, so you might as well do something for yourself other than relieve your bladder.

11. Cell phone flexibility. While you’re chatting on the phone with your friends and family, you probably don’t want to be doing something that will put you out of breath, so do simple stretching, squats, lunges, wall-sits, or whatever simple exercises you can think of. You don’t have to just sit there while you’re talking on the phone. You can actually move around ya know!

12. Remember Jumping Jacks? See how many you can do during one or two commercials while you’re watching television. Have a lazy roommate or spouse? Challenge them to see who can do more.

Jumping Jacks

How to do a Jumping Jack

13. Replace the recliner. Replace the recliner with a stationary bike. Even if you bike super slow, it’ll be more movement than if you were just sitting on the couch or recliner. And find a comfy one so you’ll actually sit on it.

14. Arm wrestle. Both arms and with as many people who are willing to do it. It’s silly. And it’s okay to be silly!

15. Get in bed. Get in bed with a partner, and commit to being intense. Don’t be a lazy bum who let’s the other person do all the work. See how many different moves you can show the person you love!

16. Pillow Fight! Getting irritated at your partner? Feeling tense? Have a pillow fight! It’ll feel good to release all that tension, and it might lead to number 15.

17. Race. Going somewhere? Leaving somewhere? Park in the back and race your partner to the front. You might look silly, but you’ll also look hot when you lose a couple pounds. It’s fun! And it’s okay to be silly!!

18. Get a treat. If you sometimes go to get a treat with your partner – coffee, slurpee, ice-cream, any tasty treat – do it. But instead of driving there. Walk. It gives you a destination (which is easier than just going for a walk for exercise); it gives you a reward; you have to finish the walk to get home; you have a tasty treat for the way home; and you have someone to talk to – which makes it less like exercise and more like social time.

19. Be creative! You can take almost any activity you do in your life, and add some extra movement, flexing, and exercise. Just start thinking about it. How long can you hold both your legs up in the air while sitting at your desk at work?

20. Have fun and challenge yourself. If you’ve noticed, a lot of these items are silly! And that’s okay! Have fun and challenge yourself to add movement and activity into your life in as many ways as possible. Make silly competitions with your partner, challenge yourself to add more, do more, move more. And you will start feeling and seeing a difference in your body. It’s amazing how powerful small steps can be – because a small step is better than no step!

Here are some other lists of other creative ways to lose weight and get healthy! Good luck!

Easy and Creative Ways to Lose Weight: 10 Simple and Fun Techniques for Losing Weight

Small Changes Make Weight Loss Easy

Losing Weight the Easy Way

Fun Ways to Lose Weight

Easy Ways to Lose Weight

Have some additional creative ways to exercise or get moving? Leave a comment!!