## Thursday, March 31, 2011

### New Free Program to Increase Your Financial Literacy

It's that time again! I have a brand new program that will be posted on Seek2ruth next month. I do not yet have a date planned, but I will update Seek2ruthers once I have all the details. It will be called How to Manage Your Money and will take place over seven days. I already have the topics chosen:

1. Assets and Liabilities

2. Diversification

1. Tax Savings

2. Decreasing Debt

3. Saving for the Future

4. Wealthy Mindset

5. Finance 101

Unlike my last free program, this program will include activities to improve your financial literacy. In total the program will include e-books, activity worksheets, videos, links to resources, and recommended reading. This program has been requested for some time now and I am happy to finally announce it. I will update you soon as possible as to the progress of the program.

## Friday, March 18, 2011

### Rating Professional Networks + 2 Handy Tools

(Yes this image is from Scooter's Nessaja) ;P

I spent the day checking out professional sites for those who need a job... because I need a job. I stumbled across a few really handy sites and have decided to give a rating for each site. I applied to all of them and played around with their features. I hope this helps in your job search.

This is THE professional network to use. Your professors, past employers, coworkers, and friends are all there. There's so much to do there... it's almost like having a business Facebook.
I give this site:
$\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar$

Vault
I have to admit that this site LOOKS impressive; however, substance comes at a cost. This site has a lot of resources but minimal tools to make your internet resume stand out. In order to add any cool features to your profile, you have to upgrade. For that, and the limited spaces available for the experience section, I give this site:
$\bigstar\bigstar$

Jobster
Pros and cons of using this site. Cons are very few but include: confusing tabs and ugly site graphics. Most importantly, you can't add groups and companies to follow. The pros outweigh most of the cons though. You have the most options for your profile out of any other site, including Linkedin. You can add video resumes, portfolios, links, and answers to typical interview questions (which no other site has). Overall it's a really, really good site. This is why I give it:
$\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar$

uBoast
Although Uboast is also not very pretty, it is very thorough. It allows for video resumes, portfolios, links, and favorite quotes. It has more networking options than Jobster but isn't as handy for those trying to hire you. I give it:
$\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar$

MyWorkster
MyWorkster is the most like a social network. It even has the chat bar on the bottom. You can search for people just like you. You can add video, music, image, and text files to your portfolio. The profile looks professional too. My only complaints are that there are no groups on MyWorkster and that there are no interview questions. Overall I give this site:
$\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar$

VisualCV
VisualCV is visually appealing and allows for graphs, text, photos, and videos. It is the least social of all the professional networks. It is easy to use and the profile graphics are simplified as to appeal to most employers. Overall, this deserves:
$\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar$

ResumeTube
This isn't a social professional network. This is an online video resume site. As it is not like the above sites I will not rate it. It is just a handy tool that I thought I'd pass on.

CareerTV
This is not a place to put your video resume. It's a site full of advice. I highly recommend this site.

Good luck on the job search!

### Fitness Update: Setbacks

Well, life happens. I have lost three pounds and my weight is stabilizing. I have been consistent in my workout and diet routine. I have, however, had three dieting setbacks. I met with my friends for coffee and a movie. The coffee shop was closed and so we had frozen coffee at a place that serves terrible regular coffee. I also had a chicken pot pie (1075 calories!) one day and two slices of spinach pizza (280 per slice) on another day when my dad and I were expecting company.
I have also had emotional setbacks recently. The job search has worn me down. Just today I received another job refusal and cried in my hands. I know that emotions make me normally want chocolate or alcohol but I have no intention of doing either.
The most important thing is that I have not become discouraged and am only more eager to achieve my goals. I am exercising every day and will include running in the morning instead of yoga. I looked on WebMD and found that although my calorie intake is in tact, I am not meeting my exercise requirements for successful weight loss.
As for my job search, I can't let it bother me. If I do not try then I can not succeed. I am stepping it up a notch in that area as well. If things get really bad I can wear a "Hire Me" sign as I take my morning runs ;). I know that when I see the pounds shed, a more confident, active self will step forth into the world. I look forward to meeting her.

## Tuesday, March 15, 2011

### Edible Toxins: Dangerous Chemicals We Consume Daily

Warning, Warning: Three hazardous chemicals can be found in items you and your family often consume. They reside in both sweet and savory dishes... and even in your water! To find out if these are in your food, check the ingredients label on the back or side of each package.

1. Mono-sodium Glutamate (aka MSG)
MSG is naturally occurring in seaweed but is now used instead of salt to flavor a wide variety of foods, anything from french fries to soup. If you live in Europe, you probably will not see "monosodium glutamate" on the back of your labels. Instead, you will see an E number, "E621". Those who eat it are said to have Chinese Restaurant Syndrome which has recently been re-named to "MSG symptom complex". I simply do not have the time nor the patience to explain this chemical's effects on so many disorders... so, I am posting this link to a web site dedicated to raising awareness. Apparently people are beginning to wake up because Campbell and Progresso soups proudly advertise that their soups no longer have MSG.

2. Aspartame
Aspartame is an artificial sugar replacement. It can be found in products bearing the labels "sugar free", "no sugar", and "diet". Although aspartame can have immediate harmful effects on the body, most people display symptoms over months or even years of frequent use. I am one of the unfortunate ones who can not eat or drink anything with aspartame without immediate symptoms. I feel tightness in my throat, instant thirst, sweating, and migraine headaches. Long-term, serious side-effects can include diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and even blindness. According to the Wikipedia article on aspartame: "Upon ingestion, aspartame breaks down into natural residual components, including aspartic acid, phenylalinine, methanol, and further breakdown products including formaldehyde and formic acid, accumulation of the latter being suspected as the major cause of injury in methanol poisoning." Here is a news report from the 90s regarding the dangers of aspartame:

I have saved the most dangerous chemical for last...

and this might be a shocker...

3. Fluoride

The fact that this is in the list might surprise some people. Fluoride is believed to help in the prevention of tooth decay. As a result, it is now in our tooth pastes, our mouth washes, and our water. Although it is naturally occurring in water, it is now being added in higher concentrations to the water supply in order to combat cavities. Here is a map of water fluoridation according to levels of concentration worldwide. Note that Germany shows <1% water fluoridation and most of Europe is fairly low in comparison with America. Germans conducted a study which showed that water fluoridation has little to no effect on tooth enamel. Even if it did, there is a toxic level of fluoride in our tooth paste... which is why we are supposed to call Poison Control if it is swallowed. The same amount of fluoride is in an 8 oz glass of water in some states. This is why I try not to consume tap water, even if a filter is added. The filter does not remove fluoride. I drink spring water daily in its stead. Fun fact: fluoride was used in Nazi Germany to keep the prisoners docile. Imagine what effect it has on your brain. Well, it is now known that fluoride induces something called dental fluorosis... which permanently damages your teeth, and over time, your bones. Most concerning is the fact that fluoride is believed to be a contributing factor to Alzheimer disease. Here is my third and final video about the dangerous chemicals we consume:

## Friday, March 4, 2011

### Week 1: The Struggle

This week has been intense! I decided to start by doing the exercise posted in the last article three times a week. Next week I will add yoga in the evenings (all week). The third week I will add belly dancing in the mornings (all week). Then on week four I will increase to five times a week for the main exercise. This is the plan... but I will listen to my body.

For instance, the first day of exercise was extremely tough. I did it completely with very little breaks in-between. As a result, I was dizzy, shaky, and nauseated. I drank two bottles of spring water to no avail. My dad handed me a bottle of Gatorade and wallah!... the sick feelings were gone! I now know to not underestimate the power of electrolytes and not overestimate my body's ability to change rapidly.

As for my diet, I have replaced Toaster Strudels, Pop Tarts, and waffles with Nutella and toast, Nutella & banana wheat wraps (which is absolutely divine!), Fiber One and Cheerios cereals with and without sliced bananas, and spinach filled omelets & scrambled eggs. I drink only water except for my coffee in the morning served black. For lunch I have a spinach salad with strawberries, organic granola, and low-fat raspberry vinaigrette; cooked garlic spinach; fruit smoothies with v8 juice, milk, strawberries, bananas, yogurt, and granola; peanuts and yogurt (sometimes w/ granola instead of peanuts), and spinach salads in a wheat wrap. For supper I have whatever my dad is eating but I have reduced my portions. I also only have a 60 calorie mousse, ONE chocolate mint cookie, or ONE piece of Dove's dark chocolate singles for my daily chocolate intake.

This diet and exercise plan is what works best for me. I am going to always listen to my body and constantly make improvements as I see fit. It was very, VERY difficult at times to say no to my chocolate cravings... especially during my job search. After weighing in, I realized how instant the rewards are and how glad I am to have started this now instead of later. I am now craving fruits and vegetables and am repulsed by fake breaded chicken and french fries. I actually couldn't finish eating them; most of my plate was full! I have lost two pounds since Monday. Seeing results so soon is encouraging. I was so down this week because I was turned down for the job that I had wanted for months. I was so close to turning to my comfort zone and returning to my chocolate indulgence. I am glad I made it through week one. I think as I lose weight and can fit in my old clothes again I will begin to regain my confidence and the cravings will subside. I know that by sticking with it despite my depressive moments will help motivate me to take control of my life and hopefully radiate that confidence to future employers. I will write again at the end of week 2 to update Seek2ruth on my progress. From now on I will write every two weeks. I wanted to update you during my tough first week in hopes that it can be helpful to those who are also struggling with their weight or are lacking confidence. Keep on keeping on and do something that will make you happy until something comes along.
Much love
Nicole

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"An idealist is a person who helps other people to be prosperous." -Henry Ford

"All that we are is a product of what we have thought." -Buddha
So make sure you are worthy of what you create with your thoughts!