Do Good, Feel Good

While perusing Facebook this morning, I managed to find a gem of an article tucked in between political posts and someecards. My eyes lit up and I quickly clicked the link “The Healthy Benefits of Volunteering.

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Healthy benefits? Yup!!

Volunteering isn’t only good for your community or cause, it’s actually good for your health, too!

I’ve been volunteering for, like, forever. It all started when I had to earn some volunteer hours in high school and I decided to be an unpaid swim instructor at the YMCA (I have no idea how I was qualified to do this job).

I quickly gained the necessary hours but then something weird happened….I kept volunteering. It had everything nothing to do with the super-cute lifeguard that I did didn’t have a crush on for most of high school. Nothing at all.

Years later (we won’t discuss just how many years) volunteering is still a big part of my life (although lifeguards are not). I’m frequently asked, why do you sign up for all this stuff? And, how do you have time for all this? Sometimes, I’m at a loss for a reason. Sometimes I ponder these question myself as I’m labeling save-the-dates at 2am (and crying). Sometimes I’m like this lady:

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But it really boils down to one, admittedly selfish, reason. It makes me feel good.

And it turns out that there’s a science behind why it makes me feel so good. “It’s been shown that volunteer work enhances well-being (defined by measurements of happiness, life satisfaction, self-esteem, sense of control over life, physical health and depression). Since people with a greater sense of well-being give more hours to volunteering, the process actually helps increase volunteer dedication.” Source.

Also, it’s been shown that having extra time really has little to do with the amount one volunteers (younger adults volunteer more than retirees, for example). And, there’s a whole physical activity benefit (depending on what you volunteer for).

Wowza! Right?

So, feeling blue? Feeling a bit…blech? Get involved with a cause you care about! I know a lovely organization in Fort Collins who is always accepting new members and we’d love to have you.

P.S. I’m currently reading Uncharitable by Dan Pallotta and let me tell you….mind blown! What an interesting look at the structures of non-profits and how our ideas about charity actually hinder the efforts of charitable organizations. I definitely recommend it!

Work-It-Out Wednesday: Role Model

Today is a very special day…..it’s my mom’s birthday!

For the first time in a very, very long time I actually get to see my mom and spend time with her on her birthday! I’m looking forward to hitting up one of my favorite spots in Old Town FC for dinner with her later tonight to celebrate her….uh….I better not reveal the age, let’s just say, ‘Special’ birthday. I am excited to toast to a woman who has always been a role model to me, especially when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle.

Growing up, my mamacita set a very healthy example for me and my siblings. I remember living in a house without soda, processed foods, and pre-packaged junk food. Instead we were given fruit, milk, or home-made snacks and sat down almost every night to a family dinner. I remember being full of high-school ATTITUDE and thinking that I really wanted Doritos, Twinkies or Dr. Pepper, but today look back on the home-made cookies, the insistent reminder to drink water, and home-cooked meals with great admiration (except when she force-fed me eggplant….blech!)

In addition to healthy eating, mom also encouraged all of us join sports that we enjoyed and to spend time outside with nature whenever we could. We grew up going on camping trips, visiting the ocean, or going on day trips to local picnic grounds. She carted us around to endless soccer trips, cheered for us from the stands during games, and gave up more than I will probably ever know to support our activities.

My Mama

Today, I still look at my mom and her approach to a healthy life (and Jennifer Aniston’s Smart Water ads) when I need motivation or a reminder to live a balanced lifestyle of tasty treats, nutritious fuel, and consistent excercise. Thanks, Mom!

Speaking of exercise, this week’s work out schedule was very light (oops!). With my mom visiting, the big anniversary weekend, and an already hectic schedule, I let my workouts fall by the wayside. This next week will be much better…but for now, here’s what I accomplished last week:

  • Wednesday 6/1 – Off
  • Thursday 6/2 – 3 Mile Run
  • Friday 6/3 – Off (unless you count go-karts!)
  • Saturday 6/4 – 3 Mile Run; Ab Workout
  • Sunday 6/5 – Off again
  • Monday 6/6 – 3 Mile Run; Ab Workout
  • Tuesday 6/7 – 30 Mins In-Home Yoga
So, tell me, who is your healthy living role model? How do they inspire you?