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Five Things to Buy in February

February is a big month for flowers and candy—both of which are available at bargain prices after St. Valentine/s Day has passed. But, according to the consumer watchdogs at dailyfinance.com, there are at least five other things you can buy cheap…

Word of the Day

Mortgage broker. Individual or company that brings borrowers and lenders together; a loan broker.

Misconceptions Exposed – Multivitamins and Nutritional Supplements

(BPT)—How often do you eat a cup of sautéed spinach? How about three servings of fatty fish, like salmon, per week? Probably not very often, but those are examples of foods and portions that are packed with the recommended amounts of essential nutrients. Research shows that Americans aren’t making the nutrition grade and, therefore, can lack important vitamins and minerals like folic acid, vitamin E, vitamin K and even vitamin C.

“Even if you follow a healthy diet, a busy lifestyle can make it difficult to obtain the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals from food alone,” says Elizabeth Somer, a leading registered dietician and author of several books, including “The Essential Guide to Vitamins and Minerals.”

Data on dietary intake from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which used the USDA’s Healthy Eating Index to compare what people say they eat to recommended dietary guidelines, found that children and adults scored 56 points out of a possible 100 (equivalent to an “F” grade), while seniors fared only slightly better at 65 points (equivalent to a “D” grade). The American Heart Association agreed with those findings in its 2013 report on heart disease and stroke, concluding that poor diet and lack of exercise are two of the main factors contributing to the high prevalence of heart disease in the U.S.

One easy way to maintain good nutrition is to enhance your diet with supplements; however, the frequency of new studies combined with the staggering number of supplements available makes it increasingly confusing to know what’s right.

Somer puts nutrition news in context, provides the facts for common misconceptions and offers realistic tips to meet daily nutrition needs:

Misconception 1: It’s realistic to obtain all essential nutrients from food.

Even experienced nutritionists have a hard time designing a diet that provides all the essential nutrients for one day and busy Americans often struggle to follow a highly regimented diet. That’s not to say it’s impossible but the best approach is to focus on eating nutrient-rich foods as much as possible—like dark leafy greens (good source of lutein for eye health), colorful fruits, whole grains, healthy proteins and fats (such as salmon, which is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA)—and fill gaps in nutrition with a daily multivitamin. “Another supplement I always recommend is fish oil, or a vegetarian source from algae, because DHA and EPA benefit eye, heart and brain health,” says Somer.

Misconception 2: Multivitamins have no health benefits.

Although recent studies report that vitamin and mineral supplements do not lower one’s risk of heart disease or cancer, these supplements are still proven to be beneficial to one’s health. “If a study found that people who drank water had no lower risk for dementia, would you stop drinking water?” asks Somer. “Of course not, because water, like essential vitamins and minerals, is crucial to health and there is no controversy over its importance for human nutrition.”

Misconception 3: Multivitamins are a waste of money.

Multivitamins are a relatively inexpensive tool to achieve proper nutrition. “No reputable health expert will argue that supplements can or should replace a good diet and a healthy lifestyle,” says Somer. “However, multivitamins and nutritional supplements are one factor in a pattern of living that is known to maintain overall well-being. Think of multivitamins as an insurance policy for optimal nutrition – they’re meant to supplement, not replace, a healthy diet.”

Source: www.vitaminsinmotion.com.

Q: Is There Such a Thing as “Over Improving” Your Home?

A: Yes. The last thing you want to do when undertaking a home improvement is go overboard. This means fixing up the home to the point where it becomes worth far more than nearby neighborhood properties.

Down the road, when you may want to sell, potent…

Word of the Day

Interest. A fee paid for the use of money; also a share or right in something.

How to Overcome Stage Fright in Your Life

More confidence, less stress, discovering inner resources, improving relationships—there are thousands of self-help books to help us accomplish these, but do they work?

“Self-help strategies can work, as far as they go, but they don’…

Q: Can the Seller also Include Contingencies in a Contract?

A: Yes. For example, if you decide to sell your existing home first before buying another one, you can make the sale of your home contingent on finding a replacement home. Some sellers opt for this contingency to avoid a double move, such as moving to …

Easy Ways to Improve your Pet’s Quality of Life

BPT—Pet ownership is more than just a privilege—it is a responsibility. While pet owners spend ample time and money purchasing elaborate outfits, accessories and toys for their pets, what truly matters is when owners take the initiative to install healthy habits and routines that enhance their pets’ lives.

Across America, veterinarians have witnessed a decline in annual vet visits, resulting in increased rates of preventable diseases in both cats and dogs. In fact, about 54 percent of the nation’s cats and dogs are reported to be obese. As a result, diabetes, heart disease and arthritis are on the rise—diseases that are preventable if identified early on.

“Many pet owners are too busy or just skip annual checkups,” says Ron DeHaven, DVM and chairman for Partners for Healthy Pets, a committee of the non-profit American Veterinary Medical Foundation that was created to ensure that pets receive preventive health care. “That’s why we have seen an increase in preventable diseases in cats and dogs. What we need to be sure pet owners realize is that annual veterinary checkups are as important as food and love to a pet’s health and well-being.”

By committing your pet to a healthy routine, you can do your part to ensure they live the happiest, longest life possible. If you want the best for your pet, forget the chevron-striped collar this year and instead focus on these simple tips:

Schedule annual checkups

No one knows your pet as well as you do, but veterinarians are trained to detect diseases before they become costly issues for both you and your pet. Make it a habit to schedule an annual checkup for your pet every year, using your pet’s birthday or adoption date as a reminder. There is no better gift you can give to your pet than a long, healthy life and annual checkups are an easy way to ensure your pet is receiving preventive care on a regular basis.

Provide a proper diet

You love your pet and your pet loves treats, but feeding your pet an excessive amount of food and spoiling them with treats can lead to rapid weight gain. If you are not sure how much you should be feeding your pet, consult your veterinarian. Simple dietary swap-outs can help your pet maintain a healthy weight and decrease the chances of developing health complications.

Exercise regularly

It seems like a simple thing to remember. However, busy schedules and daily stresses often cause people to either forget to exercise their pet or move it to the bottom of the to-do list. Commit yourself and your pet to a consistent exercise routine. Only have 10 minutes to take Spot to the park? That’s OK too. Small intervals of exercise each day can make a world of difference long-term.

Offer love and affection

Anyone who has loved a pet can testify to the relationship’s emotional benefits. The warm welcome you receive at the front door after a long day at work, the wagging tail you hear as you prepare your pet’s dinner and the head nestled in your lap each night as you watch the news are only some of the rewards of being a dog owner. It is important to reciprocate this love even in small ways, such as a quick scratch behind the ears or tossing a tennis ball around the back yard. Caring for your pet with enduring love and affection will bring you happiness and help enhance your morale daily.

Building Your Professional Brand

BPT—Personal branding is an elusive topic to most people, yet it is important for career success. Wise professionals with career success know it can mean the difference between landing that dream job and never getting noticed.

So what do you think of when you hear the word “professional brand?” Simply stated, a brand is a promise of the value you’ll deliver. “You may think you don’t need a brand, but the reality is that you already have one,” says Jana Fallon, vice president, Executive Development for Prudential Financial. “By managing that professional reputation you already have, you increase your chances of being known for qualities that can land your dream job or get you noticed by a company you have always wanted to work. If you do start actively managing your brand, you can find real power in knowing and sharing what your unique differentiators are.”

Fallon recommends five specific actions you can take today to improve your brand reputation.

B = Build

Build your brand by first defining what you want that brand to be. To make this simpler, it should include no more than three or four characteristics that describe what you offer or aspire to offer. It is good to be aspirational but it also must be realistic. If you are having trouble getting started, begin by asking people you trust what they immediately associate with you. Ask for honest feedback and listen to what you hear.

R = Reflect

Reflect on your strengths and liabilities frequently. What is the unique value that you have to offer and what do you aspire to be? Think about your strengths and what you do really well. What do you want to be known for in business? What differentiates you? Use those reflections to establish your unique brand. Perhaps you want to be known as a very curious, engaged consultant. Or perhaps your unique brand is one of intelligence, candor and strong ethics.

A = Actions speak

In order to sustain your brand, you have to act accordingly. Your behaviors and the decisions you make daily impact your brand. Be bold in defining your brand and then have the courage to live up to that brand promise. If you are finding it challenging to start living your brand, find someone that has a style, behavior or an approach that you admire. Emulate what works. Try it yourself and see if it feels right for you. Experiment until you find your own authentic behavior.

N = Network nonstop

To get others to recognize your brand, you have to market yourself. This clearly takes time and effort, but it can be done effectively if you follow these key steps. To share your brand, network in the organization you work in, outside work with other professional contacts and in your community. Make yourself visible to those that can influence your career.

The key to a successful professional brand is having strong “word-of-mouth marketing” from friends, coworkers, customers and other contacts. Having a strong brand means finding ways to network and manage what those contacts know and then say to others about your capabilities.

D = Decide today

“Decide to make managing your professional brand a priority,” Fallon says. “Carve out time each week to fine tune and evolve your defined brand. Make time to reflect and try out new behaviors and to expand your network. There is real power in knowing where you are focused and letting others know for what you aspire to be known.”

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