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The Beginning to a Marathon is a Run: Running Tips for the Beginner Runner

Now that spring has sprung, (or, in Canada’s case, the sidewalks are no longer entirely covered in ice and it only dips below freezing at night), the desire to get outside and get active before summer starts has crept into some people’s hearts. One of the cheapest full body workouts that really gets you ready for summer is running. With a good pair of running shoes and some dedication, anyone can run. Here are a few basic tips to get yourself out on the running trails, while being safe, active, and healthy.

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1. Pick a safe time to go running

Please don’t go running on sketchy back trails at 3am. That’s a bad choice. Seriously though, make sure you’re picking safe locations and safe times to go running. You want to make sure there are people around you, or people within close proximity to you that can hear you if necessary. Pro tip: going for a run before the sun goes down is satisfying both because it’s not in the heat of the day and because if you time it right (and live in the right place in the world), you get to see an epic sunset. Other pro tip: run with one headphone in, not both. That way you can hear your music and also hear what’s going on around you.

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2. Warm up before you run

As George St. Pierre likes to say during his RushFit workouts, “your body is like an elastic. If you try to stretch it when it’s cold, it’s going to snap.” You’re going to want to start your run with a walk to get blood flowing throughout your body, get your lungs ready to run, and warm up your muscles before you start. Running from cold runs the risk (get it?) of injury in many different ways, and is generally a bad idea; instead, just start with a brisk walk. Your body will thank you for it.

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3. Run at a pace you can handle

Repeat after me: “I am not Usain Bolt.” Everyone runs at their own pace, and that’s okay. Just because your run is someone else’s walk doesn’t make your run any less valid. Start with a comfortable pace that you can run at, and then as you get more used to running, run faster. You’re going to burn less calories by running at full speed for five minutes and burning out than you would if you ran for twenty minutes at a speed you could comfortably handle. Run smart, not fast!

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4. Cool down after your run

Don’t just stop running, go inside, and have a beer. Just like you start your run with a warm-up, you should end your run with a cool down. Give your muscles a chance to slow down after your run and prepare you to go back into your everyday life. If you just stop, chances are your muscles will tighten up and you’ll be at a higher risk for muscle cramps or spasms, and trust me, those are no fun whatsoever. Take five minutes at the end of your workout, enjoy the fact that you just did a hard workout, and get yourself ready to go back to your regular life.

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5. Stretch

This step is not optional because as much as stretching isn’t fun, it’s actually super beneficial. Stretching helps make everyday activities more easy, helps relax muscles, and puts you at a lower risk for muscle spasms and cramps. Take some time after your run to stretch out your legs, your arms, and your back at the very least. If you’re looking for some good stretches, check out these links:

  1. https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/c25k/Pages/how-to-stretch-after-a-run.aspx
  2. https://www.runnersworld.com/static-stretching/cool-down-routine
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/essential-runner-stretches#psoas

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There you have it! Basic tips that will get you from a beginner runner to a 5km pro. Now get on out there and go for a run! Pace yourself, but push yourself, and when it hurts, remember that you’re going to feel so good after you’re done. The satisfaction of a workout always comes after the workout itself.

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May the running gods be ever in your favour!

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-K

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I, Me, Mine: My Top 10 George Harrison Beatles Songs

In honour of what would have been George Harrison’s 75th birthday two days ago (I’m behind the times, I know), I thought it would be fun to put together a list of the best songs he wrote and/or leant his voice to for the Beatles. In celebration of his birthday, I pulled out my record player (yes, I’m a millennial that has a record player—don’t judge) and listened to some of his records, topping my musical celebration off with some of my favourite of his Beatles songs. So, here goes my attempt at listing my top 10 favourite George songs:

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10) Think for Yourself

The Revolver album is one of my all time favorite Beatles albums, and one factor that plays a big part in my loving of this album is this song. It gives me a very “stand up for yourself” vibe because it’s all about dropping the toxic people in your life. Fun fact: instead of rhythm guitar, Lennon played the organ for this song, giving it some pretty epic vibes.

9) I Me Mine

Likely because it was one of the first songs I ever played on Beatles Rock Band, this song holds a special place in my heart. The blues-y fashion, the amazing guitar, and the message about the dangers of the ego make this song a powerful yet fun experience.

8) I ‘m Happy Just to Dance with You

Cute, happy, fun, and adorable, this song really does just make you want to get up and dance. It’s innocent, it’s adorable, and it really is a gem from the Hard Day’s Night album.

7) Taxman

Nothing like using your status to rebel, right? The imagery in this song works so well (because putting pennies on people’s dead eyes is an image that people tend to remember) that it makes the song itself an unforgettable experience. It’s also interesting that George could call out specific people of the day: you didn’t see that often before this song. Fun fact: the opening riff wasn’t actually played by George—it was played by Paul McCartney!

6) You Like Me Too Much

The early days of the Beatles and their upbeat, happy, carefree song vibes really make this song fantastic. Am I a huge fan of the actual message? Not entirely. You want to leave, you leave. But aside from the actual message content, this song calls to me because it’s classic George: cynical, sarcastic, but still upbeat and fun.

5) Within You Without You

The first of George’s Indian-influenced Beatles songs, Within You Without You was also his most popular song played on the sitar. It was a curious song to open side two of Sgt. Pepper with; however, I think it worked well to describe the change in which the band was going through. It really gave George a chance to spread his musical wings and try something new, which really paid off!

4) Here Comes the Sun

As if anyone could write a list about George Harrison’s top Beatles songs without including this classic! Hope and peace come across strongly in this message, bringing a touch of light to even the darkest of winter nights, which is likely why it is so popular amongst basically everyone.

3) Old Brown Shoe

I doubt anyone else would put this song in their list of top three for George, but there’s a certain beauty in this song that I find really appealing. Much like Hello Goodbye, this song plays with the idea of opposites, which is something I find really appealing. Also, the premise of the song is really cute, and the piano riff gets stuck in your head really easily. What more do you look for in a song?

2) Something

Listening to this song is like watching someone dance: it’s an experience. You are enveloped by the song, and it doesn’t just tell you a story, it shows you that something that George sings about. Something is absolutely breathtaking.

1) Do You Want to Know a Secret?

This song hit number one in my heart the very first time I listened to it. It’s classic early Beatles, it’s absolutely adorable, and it’s so catchy, you want to listen to it over and over and over again.

What do you think? Does your top ten list match mine? What would you change? Let me know in the comments: I’m curious!

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Happy George Harrison week!

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-K

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Giving your Media your Message: Keeping on Top of your Social Media

Let’s face it: being a social media guru can be hard. You have to post (relatively often), monitor your posts, connect with people, answer queries, be active, and seem human enough to relate to. And that’s just on one social media site! Imagine trying to keep up two or three or four. It would be enough to take up your entire day, and you being the busy, awesome, social person you are don’t have that time to take.

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If you follow me on any of my social medium (and if you don’t, you can find me here: Twitter: @thehardybeatles and Instagram: @thehardybeatles), you know that I have trouble keeping a regular posting schedule. Sometimes a week will go by without a single post, which from a marketing perspective is B-A-D bad. Admittedly, I am a busy person, and there are days where I go all day and I’m asleep a few seconds before my head hits the pillow, but I can’t really use that as an excuse, because I know that I can do better. If I can do better, so can you! The following are 3 tips about keeping up social media accounts that I wrote down for myself (and also for you) to follow in the new year to help my social media accounts flourish.

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  1. Set Reminders

The biggest issue that I have with social media is that I’m a passive social media user. I see everyone else post, I like their posts, and I move on with my life. It takes me effort to think about the fact that I need to include my own thoughts and my own life on whatever medium I’m on. So what I’m doing now, is setting reminders to post however often I want to post. For example, I tend to (try to) post to Instagram and Twitter once a day. I looked at my posts, and I found that I usually get the most likes around 7pm, so that’s my ideal posting time. I’ve set a reminder on my phone for 7pm every day that reminds me to do my postings. After a month or so, I shouldn’t even need the reminder—because it will have become part of my regular routine, I’ll just know that I need to do it.

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2. Find Material Everywhere

It’s difficult to come up with new and exciting material to post every single day. If you post once a day, per year, you need 365 unique ideas/photos/quotes to present to your audience. While that seems like a lot, it simply means finding something meaningful once a day to post, which shouldn’t be that difficult. Taking a picture of something you see on your commute, finding a quote that you think is applicable to your brand, or reposting something that makes you laugh only takes a moment. It’s especially important to note that things you see in your everyday life that you think are boring could be seen far differently by someone else, so don’t feel that everything you post has to be something new and exciting to you. Just find something that brings a smile to your face and explain to the rest of us why it does.

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3. Plan your Posts

Planning your posts is very dependent on marketing your brand and the way you want to market your brand. If there are certain things you’re looking to promote, then knowing when you want to promote them is probably important. Take my brand for example. I’m focused on 3 things: Fitness, Pop Culture, and Communications. Ideally, then, my posts should alternate between the three of them, while still including aspects of my own life in order to remind everyone that there is a real brain and real fingers behind everything that’s posted on any of my sites. If I wanted to do something cool like create theme days of the week focused on specific aspects of my brand, or plan out which days I wanted to post what at the beginning of each week, I could do that to stay organized and to minimize the amount of time each day I spent on my social media. Planning like this not only saves time, but also makes your account look more cohesive than those whose owners fly by the seat of their pants when preparing (or not preparing) their posts.

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I’m not usually one for New Year’s resolutions; however, in the case of my media and my brand, I intend to make an exception this year. In 2018, I’m going to use the three aforementioned tips to keep my social media active, adventurous, cohesive, and fun for everyone who makes the (very good) choice to follow me. If that’s you, you should be happy, because good things are coming your way! If you’re struggling with your social media handling, give these tips a call and let me know how they work for you! Feel free to leave me a comment, tweet at me, or send me a message on Instagram and let me know if my tips helped at all!

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May the media be ever in your favour!

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-K

 

 

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The Magic of Physiotherapy

Update: I’ve had an injured knee for a super long time. I recently got it checked out only to find that I have bursitis, tendonitis, and a strained meniscus. Sounds fun, right? Not really. But as someone’s that active, injuries are an unfortunate reality. They happen, you deal with them, they heal, and hopefully, they never come back. Now, there are a thousand things you can do to help an injury heal, but a really important aspect of recovery that I’ve found super helpful is physiotherapy.

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According to the South Vancouver Physiotherapy Clinic, physiotherapy “can be defined as a treatment method that focuses on the science of movement and helps people to restore, maintain and maximize their physical strength, function, motion and overall well-being by addressing the underlying physical issues: (SouthVanPhysio.com). In the most basic of words, physiotherapy encourages an active recovery, while at the same time working to prevent the injury from happening again. Physiotherapists give you exercises to do to strengthen the muscles where your injury is, working to strengthen the injured area without causing it to flare up again. Physiotherapists also take into consideration how your muscles work together to create movement, and work all the way up the chain to make sure that there isn’t a second muscle imbalance or injury that’s causing the primary point of pain. For example, part of the issue in my knee is because of an issue with my back that my physiotherapist is also treating.

Physiotherapy is super, super helpful. You talk your physiotherapist through your injury, they have a look and do some functional tests to see how strong your injured area is. Then, they use whatever means they have, including exercises, muscle stimulation machines, and other cool tools to help strengthen your injured area (and potentially other areas too) and make it so you can go back to doing your regular activities without pain. My physiotherapist has probably given me 20+ different exercises I can do to help strengthen my knee so that I will be able to do functional movements like stairs without pain. He’s explained to me exactly how each exercise is going to help strengthen each muscle, and how that muscle is going to help my knee become stronger.

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One of the most important things about physiotherapy (that I am guilty of being very bad at) is that you 100% have to do your exercises at home. The physiotherapists give you your exercises so that you can do them once or twice at physio and then again three or four times a week at home. The way my physiotherapist explained it to me was that “I can show you how to make your muscles stronger, but I can’t make them stronger for you. Only you doing your exercises can make your muscles stronger.” So, if you get exercises, do them! Write yourself a reminder on a sticky note, or set a reminder in your phone. It may seem like a hassle, but in the long run, the five minutes it will take you to do your exercises is worth it if it means having a knee that’s going to work properly again.

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If you’re injured, you think you might be injured, or you’re having pain that you can’t deal with anymore, talk to your doctor, and ask them about physiotherapy. It’s a great option, and will get you back on your feet as quickly as possible! Fun fact: my physiotherapist told me to keep being active, just to be careful, and to stop when it hurt. I mean, my privileges to do every activity were revoked when he found out I had ran 5km the day after my appointment, but he had to admit that it was good that my knee hadn’t hurt during the 5km *shrugs*. Push your limits. Go to physio. You’ll be a less-pained and far happier person if you do. I promise!

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Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go do some of my 20+ exercises so maybe my knee can go back to being good at being a knee again.

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Peace out!

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-K

 

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#policepowerteam: The Top 5 Reasons that Kevin Ryan and Javier Esposito Owned ABC’s Castle

Confession: I’ve been watching Castle for a while now (I’m only on season 6 so no spoilers!!!), and I have 100% fallen in love with it. As an author, as a mystery writer, and as a person who wanted nothing more than to work with the police as a consulting writer, I firmly believe that there’s no better show than Castle. Now, Castle is the best show ever for a variety of reasons. Richard Castle is hilarious, badass, and every bit (well, mostly every bit) the author I want to be. Beckett is badass, takes no shit, and will do everything she can to bring justice to every injustice she encounters. Even though those two are the main characters of the show, I think the show is really carried by two other, very important, characters: Kevin Ryan and Javier Esposito. Below, I’ve compiled a list of the top 5 reasons that they really are the heart and soul of Castle.

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  1. They do all the grunt work

Let’s be real here. Beckett snaps her fingers and these two jump. Beckett needs information? They get it. Beckett needs a house searched? Guess who’s going to do it. A suspect needs to be brought in? They hop in their car and head off to get them. Beckett and Castle go missing (which happens more often than you would think.)? Esposito and Ryan are on the case. Whereas Castle just shows up, solves the case, and goes home, Ryan and Esposito are there 24/7 to do the paperwork, call the people who need calling, read the files that need reading, and solve the problems that need solving. They’re always at the scene of the crime before Castle and Beckett, they’re always there when Castle and Beckett call, and they’re always, always working. Can we just call them the #policepowerteam?

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2. They are freakin hilarious

I mean, have you seen them together? Especially when Ryan’s on a detox?

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3. Their bromance is everything

The two of them are the best friends ever. I aspire to have a friendship like that. They nag at each other like an old married couple, but they always have each other’s backs for everything important. Esposito can tease Ryan about relationship ‘tests’ like car trips before a wedding, and poor, gullible Ryan can believe him. Ryan gives Esposito someone to talk to when a dead body shows up looking exactly like him. They can go from teasing the crap out of each other to arresting a suspect in 0.2 of a second, and it’s my favorite thing in all of Castle. The most heartbreaking episode of Castle (thus far) was when Ryan and Esposito get trapped in a burning building. Seeing how far Esposito is willing to go to make sure that Ryan gets to meet his baby and how far Ryan is willing to go to make sure that Esposito makes it out alive restored my faith in humanity (I mean, I lost it again when I thought they were dead and then it was restored once more when they were alive). These two have the greatest bromance in any show I’ve ever seen.

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4. They are the greatest team on the show (yes, better than Castle and Beckett)

Again, #policepowerteam. Whereas Castle and Beckett don’t talk to each other (for months on end sometimes), Ryan and Esposito always communicate and understand each other’s actions. Even when they disagree about something (Like Beckett going off on some hairbrained scheme to catch her mother’s killer), they talk to each other (Ryan more so than Espositio; let’s be real here), and they figure it out. They don’t always have to talk—they’ve been partners for so long that Ryan knows that Esposito is the first one through the door, and Esposito knows that he plays bad cop to Ryan’s good cop. They know exactly what’s up with each other 24/7.

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5. They will do anything for their friends (and when I say anything, I mean anything)

Running interference so Castle and Beckett can go do something they probably shouldn’t be. Feeding Castle information when he’s working with a different officer (and then going to rescue him when he gets in over his head). Helping Beckett work a case she’s been dismissed from. Dropping everything to do research for Castle (especially when it means they get the Ferrari for the weekend). Ryan and Esposito go out of their way to help out their friends, even if it means putting themselves and their careers at risk. The show, quite literally, could not go on without them.

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Let’s keep in mind here that I could have gone on for days and days about why Ryan and Esposito are the greatest, and let’s be happy that I didn’t. Instead, let me (highly) suggest to you that you drop whatever you’re doing and go watch some Castle, because it will be the greatest decision you’ve ever made in your life. Once you’re done, leave me a spoilerless comment and tell me why you love Ryan and Esposito (because you will. I promise).

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Until then,

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-K

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Short Written Forms by a Long-Winded Writer

The title of this blog post was also the title of my portfolio for a short written forms class I took at my university. As you’ve probably figured out by now, short, concise, and succinct are three words that really don’t describe me well, so you may be wondering why on earth I took a class that was focused on short writing. Don’t worry: I wondered why I was taking the class too. Will I be honest and say I took it because I needed the credits and it looked easy? Yes. Will I also say that I got way more out of the class than I expected? Absolutely. I expected a class that was going to teach me how to write short, and I got a class that taught me how to write within the constraints of short forms, which was way more applicable to my career. My purpose here is to take you through (my favorite) 2 of the 40-some-odd short written forms I learned about, and to show you just how easy-looking-but-actually-difficult short writing can be.

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  1. Birth Announcements

Though they are less common in newspapers and more common on Facebook in this day and age, birth announcements are a personalized short written form attributed to a newly-born child. A birth announcement generally includes the date the child was born, their full legal name, their birth weight and measurement, their parents, their siblings (if any exist), their grandparents (for the sole purpose of bragging rights), their place of birth, and occasionally a thank you to people in the hospital (in cases of a difficult birth). Birth announcements that are placed in the newspaper tend to be expensive, as they are often charged by the word, so each word that goes into the announcement must serve a specific purpose to the piece (meaning that the grandparents don’t usually get their bragging rights). They tend to be anywhere from two sentences to a small paragraph, but must include all the legally required information (full name, place/date of birth, etc.).

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Birth announcements can be personalized, generic, or anywhere in-between. If we consider a birth announcement that could be put on Facebook, for example (so that the cost of each word isn’t as much of a concern), it might look something like this:

Janet and Rick Grierson are delighted to announce the birth of their twin boys this November 22nd, 2017, in Calgary, Alberta. Arthur Jack Grierson was born at 8:42am at 6lbs5.5oz and 20 inches long, and Joshua Richard Grierson was born at 8:51am at 7lbs1.2oz and 22 inches long. The Grierson’s would like to thank the wonderful staff at the Rockyview General Hospital for their hard work and support.

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As you can see, there are lots of bits of important information that need to legally be present in a birth announcement, and as the writer of the birth announcement, you have to fit it all in using the most economical method possible while still celebrating the birth of a child. Birth announcements may look easy, but there are a lot of aspects to them that require deep consideration. It’s never been as easy as: “Hey, I just had a baby!”

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2. Mission Statements

Mission statements are one of the most difficult short written forms because there can be huge variations in their purpose, depending where and when they are used, and for what audience. In general, a mission statement is a reminder to a company of their purpose, and a reminder to the employees of the company’s vision that they should be upholding. Mission statements tend to follow two acronyms: SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timely) and DUMP (durable, understandable/unique, measurable/memorable, practical). They tend to be written differently depending on whether or not they are specifically internal or external mission statements; the form depends on the audience, so the same company could have drastically different internal and external mission statements.

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Let’s analyse the mission statements of two companies, just to get an idea of what a strong and a weak mission statement look like. We’ll consider the statements of two popular companies: Nike and Dairy Queen, and we’ll have a look at what aspects went into them and how effective they are.

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First, let’s consider Nike. Nike’s mission statement is as follows: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. *if you have a body, you are an athlete.” I would consider this to be an extremely effective mission statement for a few reasons. Firstly, the statement is extremely inclusive with its definition of athlete, meaning that Nike is trying to be a company for everyone, not for just stereotypical ‘athletes.’ Secondly, it has a goal, and it’s goal is very clear. It doesn’t say how long the goal will take, but it’s a goal that people can get behind and support. Finally, it uses words like “innovation” and “inspiration” to help people realise that they’re promoting physical activity through positive reinforcement and encouraging the creation and distribution of technology to help people be more athletic.

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Dairy Queen’s mission statement, on the other hand, is distinctly less memorable and effective. “To create positive memories for all who touch DQ” is short, simple, and to a point, though I’m not entirely sure it’s to the right point. This mission statement says nothing about the production of their food, what their company’s specific goals are, and doesn’t even really say much about the company. Every company wants their clients to leave with positive memories, so this mission isn’t really anything special. Also, the word “touch” in the place that it is concerns me, because instead of making DQ an culinary experience, it makes it a tangible object that one can theoretically come into contact with. Suddenly, DQ is an object instead of an experience, which appears to degrade the company’s value, because eating at DQ should be an experience. It simply doesn’t leave the same taste in customer’s mouths as the Nike mission statement does.

There you have it! Two short written forms that appear extremely easy, yet are actually mind-blowingly difficult to effectively create and maintain. Those aren’t the only two short written forms that are this difficult either: there are hundreds of short written forms that each require a great amount of time, effort, thought, writing, and re-writing to create. So next time you see a short 7-word slogan or mission statement, read a birth announcement or obituary in the newspaper, or even hear a short jingle on the radio, think about the amount of effort that likely went into that short written form. I can guarantee you, it was probably a lot.

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Now you know, dear readers. Now you know. Good luck writing short!

-K

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It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year… For (Not) Missing a Weekly Workout

We all get it—the Christmas season gets crazy busy for everyone. There’s presents to buy, Christmas trees to set up, houses to clean, baking to do, relatives to visit, presents to make, wrapping to do, and more and more and more: the craziness never seems to stop. The thing is, taking some you time even during the crazy holiday time is extremely important. As a student; on top of the Christmas craziness, I also have to cram in some time to finish all of my major assignments and study for exams (which I may be procrastinating on by writing this post… shh, don’t tell!)

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The fact of the matter is, you probably don’t feel like you have the time, the energy, or the motivation to do any workout because by the end of the day, you just want to curl up on the couch and surf Netflix. I understand that feeling, I really do: by the end of my day, I just want to watch Castle reruns and ignore the exams that are quickly creeping up on me. Here are a few ways that should help you get your workout in, keep that motivation, and still have time to curl up with your favorite show at the end of a long, productive day.

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1) Early Morning Workouts

Before you close your laptops and phones and tell me I’m crazy, give me a chance to explain. There are many, many benefits to working out in the morning, including but not limited to getting your workout over with early, improving your mental energy, and preparing you to take on the day ahead. Working out in the morning pumps you up because your workout high comes at the beginning of the day and gets you ready to make the rest of your day as kickass as your workout was. That way, when you’re exhausted by the end of the day, you don’t have to force yourself to work out: you did it at the point in your day when you had the most energy! Even though it may be a little difficult to get out of bed early, you’ll definitely thank yourself for giving this a try.Image result for Wake Up Workout gif

 

2) Badass Workout Buddies

 

If you’ve got yourself a workout buddy that will show up at your door and boot you out of bed to go to a workout class, you’ve got yourself one of the best kinds of people in the world. Making a commitment to yourself is one thing, but making a commitment to yourself and someone else is even more important, because you’re even more likely to keep it. Unfortunately, I don’t have a gym buddy right now, but every member of my Taekwon-Do family is my workout buddy—they’re the ones that motivate me to get my butt to class even though all I want to do is sleep. Find yourself a person that will motivate you to do your thing, and that you enjoy working out with, and you’ll suddenly find that your workout is way more fun because it means catching up with a friend as well as breaking a good sweat.

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3) Treat Yo self—with a Workout!

 

Lots of people’s Christmases involve family coming to visit, which means busy houses, constant people, and a slight headache by the end of the day. Not that I encourage hiding from your family at Christmas: I do encourage using your workout time as your you time; after all, asking your family to come to the gym with you will probably end with a resounding “NO!” (my requests usually do). During the holidays, let the gym be your haven where you can finally have a moment to yourself when you can actually hear yourself think. Family visiting usually increases stress in hosts especially, so sweat your stress away during your alone time, and return ready to entertain people during the best holiday of the year.

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As hard as it is to believe, working out during the holidays is easy, as long as you do it in a way that fits your schedule, and that allows you to take some time to yourself. That may include some more planning than usual; however, it’s totally going to be worth it in the end! Not only will you be generally happier, healthier, and less stressed—you’re also going to feel so much better about those extra two pieces of fudge you ate. And the cookie at lunch. And the extra helping of potatoes. And basically every extra bit of food you’ve eaten over the holidays.

Happy Holidays, dear readers! Enjoy your holiday season spiced with the occasional workout!

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-K