Be More Charitable

An updated version of this post can be found in the drop down menu at the top of the page under “Be More Series.”  It will continue to be updated as information is uncovered in that location, but will remain the same here.

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Helping others, center of a Jedi’s world.  Some people can donate money, some people can donate time, it does not matter what you can and cannot give, as long as you are making an effort to better the world.

First, let’s be honest, we are all Star Wars fans.  Unless there are a few Jedi out there who are not fans of the movie that I do not know about, which do not get me wrong, would be pretty cool if we have transcended the fandom, but to my knowledge and recollection, we have not yet done so.  I know several Jedi have Jedi COSTUMES (of varying degrees of quality), but for those who enjoy the costuming side of things, there are groups for that!

  • Jedi Assembly – A group for Jedi costumes only.
  • Mando Mercs – A group for custom Mandalorian costumes.
  • Dark Empire – A group for dark side costumes only.
  • Rebel Legion – One of the two largest groups, RL caters to all canon/legacy good guys, as well as those questionable in between characters.
  • 501st Legion – The big one.  This is the largest of probably ALL costuming groups, having around 10k members across the globe, and is my preferred group for doing “troops.”  The 501st accepts all canon/legacy bad guys, and also the questionable in between characters.  Their motto is “Bad Guys Doing Good.”

If you want to use your costume to raise money for charity, I HIGHLY recommend not doing it yourself, but joining one of these groups.  These are groups that are recognized by LFL/Disney, and have permission to do so as long as they follow the guidelines set in place by Disney.  To do charitable events outside of one of these organizations puts yourself at risk for legal action, and all groups at risk for being shut down.  Trust me, as a member of most of these groups, there is red tape.

Links

  • Free Rice – This site asks you questions in various subjects, and for every correct answer, the World Food Programme donates 10 grains of rice to the global cause.  Learning and Charity tied together.
  • Tab for a Cause – “Raise money for charity with each new tab you open.”
  • Charity Navigator – A place to look up more information about charities
  • Guide Star – Another information site

Apps

  • Charity Miles – If you do any walking, running, or biking, this app is great.  You choose a charity from their list and go.  The donate $.25 per mile to your chosen charity. Android | iOS
  • Give 2 Charity – Tracks your location to earn points.  Use points to donate to charity. Android | iOS
  • Tinbox – Donate $1 per day, paid for by sponsers. Android | iOS
  • Check-in for Good – “a free crowdfunding app that turns your everyday actions into donations for the causes you care about” Android | iOS

Donate Items
As I just recently moved this year, and am planning a cross country move in about seven months, I am having a hard lesson in the subject of downsizing.  I have been going through all of my belongings, and slowly putting aside items I do not need.  Some of these items are junk and end up in the trash, but a lot of these items are still good.  If you have the time, space, and energy, you could hold a garage sale.  The other option is donating your items, and there are several organizations with which you can do so.  Below are, from my perspective where I live, the top three, however a search in your local area could yield further results, but these three are fairly prevelant in the US.

Be More Centered

An updated version of this post can be found in the drop down menu at the top of the page under “Be More Series.”  It will continue to be updated as information is uncovered in that location, but will remain the same here.

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Something you will see pretty much all Jedi agree on is meditation.  Meditation comes in various forms, sitting vs. moving, solo vs. guided, focused vs. emptying, ecc.  The key is to find the method that works best for you.  This is not about me teaching you how to meditate, just giving you the resources, so lets get right to it.

Links

  • Holosync – The full program is ridiculously expensive, and the website looks like a cheap infomercial product, but the free demo has some nice ambient sounds.
  • UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center – A variety of guided meditations, including a few in Spanish.
  • A Soft Murmur – A website with various ambient sounds to play in the background, and you can adjust the volume of each.
  • Ambient Mixer – I have only just begun to explore this site, but I especially love the “Movies and Series” themes.  Plus you can adjust the levels of various sounds to tune out something that you do not really like.
  • 7 Cups of Tea – You can complete daily wellness challenges, or connect with a live “listener” for free.  Completely anonymous.

YouTube Channels 

Apps

  • Buddhify – Eighty different guided meditations tailored to what you are doing, ranging from five-thirty minutes, and a timer for non-guided meditations.  Great program, $3 though. Android | iOS
  • Calm – Has a seven day program, and choices of sound and length of time as well as scenes to focus on visualy.  Multpile guided and unguided sessions.  Subscription for 21-day prgram. Android | iOS
  • Headspace – Free ten day program, great for learning meditation and has a buddy system. Android | iOS
  • Daylio – This app asks you each day how your day went so that you can track your moods over time.  Android | iOS not yet available, see website
  • Zen Koi – Part smartphone game, part zen.  It is like having a zen garden on your phone, except you are a Koi fish trying to become a dragon.  Android | iOS

 Books

Art
(I am adding this as a late edit (12/12/2016) after a conversation with Opie last night.  Art can be a great visual focus for meditation, and Escher’s is some of the best)

Be Smarter

An updated version of this post can be found in the drop down menu at the top of the page under “Be More Series.”  It will continue to be updated as information is uncovered in that location, but will remain the same here.

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It is a common misconception that education is expensive.  Yes, accredited information that gives you a shinny diploma can be rather pricey, but there is a wealth of information available at absolutely no cost.

First off, there is this newfangled thing called a library.  They are pretty much everywhere, and even if you for some reason cannot acquire a library card (like if you live in an unincorporated area), you can still visit libraries and use the books and computers while there.  I basically lived at the library when I was a kid growing up.  I read constantly, and it was the only way I could access the internet before we had it at home (yes…there was a time in my life when internet was not in my home let alone my back pocket).

If you do have internet in your back pocket though (or just at home), there are plenty of online resources as well.

Open Course Links
Open Course…otherwise known as free college classes online, often from Universities like Harvard, Yale, and Oxford…yeah, the big boys.

Other Websites

  • Code Academy – You can learn just about any computer language on this site.
  • DuoLingo – Want to learn a foreign language but cannot afford the big expensive programs like Rosetta Stone?  Look no further.  You can even get competitive with friends to help motivate you.
  • Language Zen – Let’s you explore interests in a language and recommends songs with words you have learned.  So far it is only available in Spanish, but they are supposed to be working on other languages.
  • Daily Grammar – Contains 440 lessons and 88 quizzes, you can sign up for daily e-mails, or gust browse the site.
  • Pindex – Like Pinterest, but without the hairstyles, decorating tips, and other extraneous posts.  Pindex is a pinning site dedicated to learning.  I am just now starting to use it myself, so I cannot say much more.
  • Documentary Heaven – A website filled with documentaries of various topics.

YouTube Channels 

  • Mental Floss – A channel full of random information.  Not always useful, but always interesting.
  • Sci Show – A channel dedicated to all things science.
  • Sci Show Space – A channel dedicated to all things space.
  • Sci Show Psych – A channel dedicated to all things psychology.
  • Crash Course – Crash course has several different course topics that give quick summaries of information.  Be ready to hit the rewind button a few times if you really want to absorb it all.  I even take notes.
  • Laci Green – Lots of straightforward information about sex and all things related.

Google “Like a Boss”
Google becomes much more effective if you know how to use it.
google-like-a-boss

Google Scholar – If you want only results from scholarly journals and whatnot.

Facebook (and all Social Media) FACT CHECK
Let’s be honest, we get a LOT of our information through social media now-a-days, but that does not mean it is all true.  Fact check, do the research, do not take things at face value.  Same with Wikipedia.  ANYONE can edit a Wikipedia page.  I find Wikipedia a fantastic starting point, but I am going to be citing the sources, not Wikipedia itself.

 

Be Stronger

An updated version of this post can be found in the drop down menu at the top of the page under “Be More Series.”  It will continue to be updated as information is uncovered in that location, but will remain the same here.

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Once your body is healthier, you can really focus on making it stronger, and it will be much more effective.

Flexibility/Balance

Yoga – The most obvious choice, and the most widely available.  Throw a stone and you will likely hit a Yoga school.  Colleges have them, community centers have them, fitness centers have them, hell, even my mothers work has a class now.

Pilates – Less zen than Yoga, but very effective.

Dance – It can be difficult to find adult dance classes, but they are out there.  Ballet is the best for overall form and flexibility, but there are so many other options.  I have been dancing since I was six, and done almost every form out there.

Also, martial arts has varying degrees of focus on flexibility and balance, some styles are very acrobatic, so you could kill two birds with one stone and find a style that works this area as well.

Flexibility Apps:
Daily Yoga App – Android | iOS

 

Basic Strength Training/Gyms

If you live in an apartment, you might be lucky enough to have a quality fitness center at your disposal for no extra cost.  The alternative, if you can afford it, is a gym membership.  There are several to choose from, and most offer a trial period for you to try them out to see how they suit you.  Here is just a sampling.
Equinox – Offers one day trial.
Lifetime – Offers one day trial.
X-Sport Fitness – Offers seven day trial.
24 Hour Fitness – Offers seven day trial.
LA Fitness – Offers three day trial.
Crunch – Offers one day trial.
YMCA – Guest passes vary by location.
Best Fitness – East Coast chain, offers fourteen day trial.
Gold’s Gym – Offers seven day trial.

Of course there is also the option of setting up your own home gym.  Things you might need:

  • Free Weights – These can be expensive, so I recommend starting with a relatively low weight for you and purchasing higher weights as you gain strength.
  • Resistance Bands – A variety of strengths.
  • Yoga Mat
  • Pull-Up Bar – Even if you cannot to pull-ups yet, you can attach a resistance band and do pull-downs.

Strength Apps:
30 Day ___ – There are several of these out there over both platforms, I personally have squats and planks downloaded.  Complete a daily challenge and mark it done after.

 

Cardio

Swimming – If you are lucky enough to have a pool at your disposal, I highly recommend swimming.  It is great cardio, and low impact, but have a healthy snack planned for afterwards because it makes you HUNGRY.  I used to take swimming class in college, and I felt so bad because I would always show up late for my next class (Italian), with a bag full of food.  Still, my professor understood.

Running – Higher impact, but super effective. You can find several follow along programs, and you can run indoors on a treadmill (if available) or outside.  If you are going the running route, I also highly recommend working towards a race to give yourself a goal.  Some that I recommend:

There are also obstacle course races/mud runs.  These are less focused on time (unless you are hard core and trying to meet a time) and more on total fitness.

  • Warrior Dash – 5K race, I did this one in June, 2016.
  • Spartan – I have not done this yet, but Opie has, and I have been planning to one day.
  • OCR Finder – Interactive Map of OCR/Mud Runs

Combat/Martial Arts
I personally feel that it is important for everyone, especially Jedi, to at the very least, know how to defend themselves.  Even if you are not much of a fighter, you might not have the choice in certain circumstances and better to know how if necessary.  Plus, there are several styles that focus more on the spiritual side than the combat, you just have to find one.

You do not need to take Martial Arts for very long to get the basics down, and most schools will have you sign a contract for year, so you could take one year, get a good grasp of basics, and decide later whether you want to continue on with it or not.  There are SO many forms that it is impossible to give suggestions.  The best advise I can give, is to do the research, find a short list of styles that appeal to you, and then see what is available in your area (trust me, it can be difficult to find some styles).  Find a few school possibilities and then go check them out.  Many places will let you observe a class, some might even let you try one out.  Find a school that values learning the style over just testing for rank.

You might start with one style and find it is not for you, but you still want to learn more, try another form.  I have taken Capoeira, Karate, and MMA.  I would consider going back to any of these, but I would also love to try new styles as well.  Recently I was turned on to Bagua, but there are no good Bagua schools where I currently live.  Do your research.

 

At Home Programs
If you can afford one of the video programs, they can be beneficial.  Most of these work cardio, strength, and flexibility.
P90X – There are a few versions out there now, there are a mixture of videos that you do according to their schedule for a total of 90 days.  I have all of them, have done the first one twice.
10-Minute Trainer – By Tony Horton (P90X), ten minute videos of very intense workouts.  If you only have 10 minutes here and there, these will really go a long way.  I have these, they hurt.
Insanity – I cannot do this program because of a limitation of my own, but those who have swear by it.  From what I understand, the title is truth.
Zumba – The Zumba craze.  Fun, dance themed workouts.  You can also find classes just about anywhere, AND video games.
Hip Hop Abs – Shaun T (Insanity) dance themed program.  Very basic moves.
Cize – Another Shaun T Program, more focused on choreography than Hip Hop Abs.  Sort of an advanced HHA.
Windsor Pilates – Pilates Program.
Tone It Up – They have several videos out now, usually filmed at the beach, but these are tough workouts.

Links
Tone It Up – I mentioned this in the previous post.  Again, geared towards women (but nonetheless effective).  They have a few DVD’s out, but have a whole series of video workouts available free online, and are often featured in Self Magazine.

YouTube Chanel
Tone It Up – Like the above link, here is their YouTube channel.

General Fitness Apps
S Health – Samsung specific General Health App.
Apple Health – Apple specific General Health App.
Google Fit – Android General Health App.
A HIIT Interval Timer – There are many out there, try out a few, find one you like.
Everymove – Track activity, earn rewards. Android | iOS
Fitocracy – General fitness.  Free workouts, or pay for coaching.  Android | iOS
Daily Endorphin – Group fitness challenges. Android | iOS

Be Healthier

An updated version of this post can be found in the drop down menu at the top of the page under “Be More Series.”  It will continue to be updated as information is uncovered in that location, but will remain the same here.

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Health.  The internal condition of your body.  The most important thing to your daily functions and, unfortunately, the most commonly overlooked.  Do you want to lose weight?  You need to eat healthier.  Do you want more energy?  Try eating healthier.  Sick a lot?  Cannot guarantee it is not something more, but might want to try eating healthier in addition to going to the doctor if it is something severe.  Food and Beverages are fuel for your body…if you put the good stuff in, you get better results.  Here are just some of my own pointers based on my experience and research.

1. Drink Water – It used to be said to drink 8-glasses of water per day.  Good starting, but now it is more accurate to divide your weight by 2 and drink that much water in ounces.  So, if you weight 140lbs, you should be drinking 70 ounces of water per day.  “But water is boring!”  “I don’t like it!”  Try it for a while…if you need to add flavor, cut up some fresh fruit and throw it in (I discourage using the powder and drop additives because it adds a lot of other stuff you do not need).  It is AMAZING the difference being properly hydrated can make.  Skin is clearer, old injuries hurt less, more energy, better muscle repair rate…the list goes on.  DRINK WATER!

2. Eat a Balanced Diet – I am not going to tell you what to eat, because we all have different food sensitivities and preferences.  However, you need to balance out the main nutrients: Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrates.  How much of each you should be getting will be a personal discovery.  Someone who is dancing six days a week will have different nutrient needs than someone who sits on the couch all day.  Do the research, find your percentages, balance them out.  Do not cut all of one out either…the idea that carbs or bad has been smashed into our heads for years.  They are not.  Refined carbs are bad, but if you switch to whole grains…not so much.  Fruits and vegetables also have a lot of carbs, and sugar, but they are natural, and easier for your body to break down.

3. Reduce Sugar and Junk/Eat More Naturally – Get all the crap out of your diet.  I know you love your soda, but it does SO MUCH damage to your body, and seriously, there are numerous stories of people losing a lot of weight just by cutting out soda.  Stop with the processed food.  Cut out as many of the synthetic chemicals you can (yes, I realize that everything is a chemical, which is why I specify synthetic).  Eat fresher foods and not foods that would survive a nuclear war.  Now, you can indulge once in a while.  I, personally, have a massive chocolate addiction.  It is about moderation here.

4. Reduce Alcohol – Not saying you have to be an abstinent saint here, Jedi CAN drink.  Even Obi-Wan indulges in happy hour ever once in a while.  Again, moderation.  Have a glass of wine with dinner.  Go out for drinks with friends every once in a while.  However, if you are passing out every night with portions of your memory missing, there may be a problem.  Also, there is a difference between drinking and getting drunk.  Drinking to the point where you cannot control yourself renders you pretty useless if an emergency arises.

5. Eat Moderately (Calories) – My biggest issue…due to the chocolate.  Food is calories.  Calories are energy.  Energy is fuel for your body.  Yes, eat something you like to attain that fuel, but do not overeat.  The recommended calorie intake (which I believe is 2K calories) is WAY more than most sedentary people need.  I highly recommend getting a calorie tracker like Garmin or Fitbit.  They are not EXACT, but they will give you an idea of how many calories you are burning on a daily basis.  For women, you should never drop below 1200; for men, I believe it is 1500; but again, it is a personal number.  I am burning, on a sedentary day, around 1700 calories.  On an active day….I think my record was about 2800 calories.  You have to adjust what you eat for higher activity days, but that does not mean you can go to town on the refrigerator.

6. Control Dietary Issues – You might have a gluten intolerance or some other allergy.  You might even have something like diabetes.  Some issues require medication, though again, I have heard stories of people reversing those issues due to dietary changes.  Take the medication when it is crucial, but make the dietary changes as well and strive to be able to phase out the medication if at all possible.  I have genetically high cholesterol (thanks Mom and Dad).  When I came back from Italy in 2009, my cholesterol was around 380.  My doctor did not want to put me on medication because I was still so young, so I focused on changing my diet and the next time I was tested I had dropped to about 280.  You are what you eat.

Helpful Links and Apps
MyFitnessPal – I have been using this website/app for AGES.  It allows you to set up your own dietary goals, input the food you eat (you can even scan barcodes now), and will tell you where you stand with your goals.  You can even choose which nutrients to show (I show Calories, Fat, Carbs, Protein, Fiber, and Cholesterol).  MyFitnessPal will also sync up to most fitness trackers to factor in activity level.

Tone It Up – The aesthetics of the site and program are definitely geared towards women, and their Nutrition Plan costs $150, but the food is good for anyone, and you pay once and are a member for life.  I am in love with some of their recipes.  They post some publicly as well, but I found the investment worth it.  I used to hate fish and avocados…they have gotten me hooked on both.

Thug Kitchen – Hilarious recipe’s, language warning.  They have three cookbooks out as of October 11th.  I have not bought any yet, but I follow them on facebook and like what I have seen.

There area also great posts and inspiration all over Pinterest and Instagram if you look up health and fitness.

Remember two things that I hear all the time from Tone It Up:
You can’t outwork a bad diet.
and
Abs are made in the gym, but they are revealed in the kitchen.