Announcing Kym and Curt Harris: Married Nov 30th, 2013

CongratulationsKym & Curt

 

Wedding Congratulations to Curt and Kym Harris!

Kym is one of our agents out of Montgomery, TX who married Curt Harris on November 30, 2013.

Curt and Kym are now residing together in Montgomery, Texas. Kym is also one of the prominent Hotspot coordinators for the Alliance Houston Hotspot.

The Five Most Inspiring Movie Speeches

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What’s more motivating than listening to an epic, rousing speech from your favorite inspirational movie? Aside from their entertainment value, movies possess the power to inspire and can motivate us to do things we would never have thought possible. If you’re facing a big upcoming work presentation or sporting event and need a confidence boost, these five inspirational speeches will make you feel like you can accomplish anything!

1. Braveheart (1995) – William Wallace

“I love you, always have” is often cited as one of the most memorable lines from Braveheart, but Mel Gibson’s Freedom speech has become so timeless and popular that literally thousands of people have performed and uploaded their own versions to YouTube. The speech, in which Scotsman William Wallace encourages his men to fight for their freedom, is actually based on the one the real William Wallace made before the Battle of Stirling Bridge way back in 1297.

 

2. Miracle (2004) – “You Were Born for This”

The “Miracle On Ice” match between the U.S. and Canadian men’s hockey teams at the 1980 Winter Olympics is one of the most iconic moments in American sports. The 2004 film Miracle is an uplifting portrayal of the American team’s journey to victory. One of Coach Herb Brook’s finest lines (as uttered by actor Kurt Russell) is: “Great moments are born from great opportunity.” It’s a sentiment that rings true in daily life as well as the context of the movie. Let it inspire you to take advantage of every opportunity you have to do great things.

3. The Shawshank Redemption (1994) – “Get Busy Living”

We all know Morgan Freeman to have one of the greatest speaking voices of all time, and he uses it impeccably as his role as convict Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding in The Shawshank Redemption. One of the greatest lines of the film, however, isn’t spoken by Redding but by his fellow convict Andy Dufresne, who tells Redding that you can’t let bad circumstances kill your spirit—you can either “Get busy living, or get busy dying.”

Hoosiers (1986) – “I Don’t Care What the Scoreboard Says”

Hoosiers is known as one of the best sports movies of all time for a good reason. The high point of the film is when Gene Hackman, who plays small-town Indiana high school basketball coach Norman Dale, tells his team, “If you put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential, to being the best that you can be, I don’t care what the scoreboard says—in my book, we’re going to be winners.” It’s an important lesson to do the best job that you can do rather than compare yourself to others.

5. Remember the Titans (2000) – “You Will Respect Each Other”

1971 was a pivotal time for Americans, and Remember the Titans does a great job exploring the issues of race and acceptance in the context of a recently desegregated (but still divided) high school football team. Denzel Washington gives one of the best performances of his career as Coach Herman Boone, who invokes the battle of Gettysburg in a speech to his players about the importance of coming together to accomplish a common goal rather than letting differences divide them.

Five Best Personal Finance Blogs

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The path to financial freedom can be difficult, especially if you’re supporting a family or are planning on starting one. It’s important to stay motivated and positive as you work to become financially independent and debt-free, and one of best ways to do that is to find inspiration from others who have shared your struggles and can provide financial expertise. Personal finance blogs are a great resource for tips, techniques and strategies on getting your finances in control.

Here are the top five best personal finance blogs to follow for families (or anyone else) on a budget:

Consumerist 

The Consumerist aims to be an ad-free online resource for consumers, reporting on top consumer issues of the day, ranging from businesses with terrible customer service to arduous cell-phone contracts to ballooning grocery prices to dangerous toys.

The Krazy Coupon Lady

Aimed at young moms, the mission of the Krazy Coupon Lady blog is to “empower women to take the reins of their family finances and slash their grocery bill by 50-90%” using coupons and other penny-pinching techniques. The blog teaches readers how to successfully collect, organize and redeem coupons to save as much money on groceries as possible.

Money Saving Mom

This financially savvy mom blogs about the trials and travails of raising a family on a budget. Money Saving Mom focuses on bargain shopping and money-management techniques—she even regularly alerts her readers to great deals and coupons on groceries and other household goods.

Wise Bread

Just because you’re on a tight budget doesn’t mean you can’t live life to the fullest. Wise Bread is comprised of a community of bloggers who believe that you can live the fabulous life without the outrageous price tag. Look for tips and information about credit cards, personal finance, frugal living and career, as well as an enormous database of personal finance blogs.

I Will Teach You To Be Rich 

This blog aims to teach current students and recent graduates the importance of personal finance. It places focus on entrepreneurs and provides insight on starting a business and staying financially afloat.

Honorable mentions:

Get Rich Slowly

This blog is devoted to a practical, no-nonsense approach to personal finance. There are no get-rich-quick pitches, pyramid schemes or stock tips—just the fundamentals of eliminating debt, saving money and investing sensibly.

Money Crashers

The Money Crashers blog’s mission is “to develop a community of people who are trying to make financially sound decisions.” It aims to encourage individuals to make wise decisions about credit and debt, investing, education, real estate, insurance and spending.

How To Get A Great Night’s Sleep

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Everyone knows that getting plenty of deep, restorative sleep is one of the best things you can do for your health. But the stresses and demands of daily life can interfere with your ability to sleep soundly. Even worse—it’s easy to allow a vicious cycle of high stress and troubled sleep to become the norm.

By adopting a few good nightly habits, you can begin to establish a healthy sleep cycle, restore your nightly rest and feel refreshed and energetic during the day.

Give Yourself a Bedtime

Most children are told to go to bed at the same time every night, but it’s important for adults to maintain a regular bedtime, as well. By falling asleep and waking up at the same time every night (yes, even on weekends!), you can establish a regular sleep-wake cycle and encourage more restful sleep. Once your body is used to the routine, you will begin to naturally fall asleep and wake up at the same time every day.

Don’t Toss and Turn 

There is an exception to the bedtime rule: if you don’t fall asleep in about 15 minutes, get up and do something soothing (like reading a book or taking a hot bath) before returning to bed. Lying in bed and stressing over a lack of sleep can backfire and leave you tossing and turning all night.

Nap Smart

There are some of us that just need those daily naps. For most, however, frequent napping can just make nighttime insomnia worse. Consider eliminating daytime naps, and if you need to make up for lost sleep or get a mid-afternoon energy boost, restrict your nap to less than 30 minutes.

Develop a Before-Bed Routine

Get into the habit of relaxing before bed to boost your body’s natural production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep. Don’t watch TV or browse the internet for a few hours before bed—the light from the screens will suppress melatonin production. Ban your smartphone from the bedroom so you’re not tempted to check emails in bed. Instead, read a few chapters of a book (as long on it’s not on a backlit e-reader or tablet!) or meditate. When it’s time to turn in, make sure the room is completely dark—that will tell your body it’s sleep time.

It can be difficult to change bad sleep habits, but by establishing a routine and sticking to it, you will begin to sleep deeply every night and feel rested and restored every day.

How to Wake Up Without Caffeine

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You know the feeling. The alarm clock goes off. You hit snooze. Then it goes off again.

Finally, you drag yourself out of bed.

And the only thing that can get your motor going? A piping hot cup of coffee.

According to the National Coffee Association, you’re not alone. About 83 percent of adults drink coffee in the United States, the world’s biggest consumer of the beverage. That’s up from 78 percent in 2012, according to the organization’s 2013 online survey.

Most of us drink coffee because its caffeine helps us wake up. But a caffeinated jolt is not the only way to get you going in the morning. Here are five ways to wake up without drinking coffee.

Get some sun. As much as the darkness helps you to doze off, the sun helps to wake you up. A study at the University of Liege found people who were exposed to bright light early in the morning were more alert and had more activity in the parts of the brain responsible for cognitive processes.

Add aerobic exercise. Studies show that exercising is a great way to boost your brainpower and increase your energy levels. So what better time to take advantage than in the morning? A morning workout means that both your brain and your body are in good shape all day. Get your blood pumping by walking, jogging, swimming or any other aerobic exercise.

Start with water. Being dehydrated can make you feel tired. Make it a point to drink a cold glass of water when you wake up to hydrate and increase your energy level.

Maximize your breakfast. You’ve heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Not only is skipping it a bad choice, so is scarfing down the wrong foods. Opt for a combination of proteins and fiber. Eggs, fat-free milk, low-fat yogurt, turkey sausage, nuts and peanut butter are great options for proteins. Fruits rich in fiber include bananas, apples, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. Additionally, choose foods that contain whole grains for an extra dose of fiber:

·       Whole-grain cereals and granola

·       Oatmeal or oat bran

·       Toasted whole-grain breads, English muffins or bagels

Turn up the tunes. Ever notice how certain songs can change your mood? Create a “high-energy” playlist and allow it to get you going in the morning. In fact, it could be just the thing that transitions you into your morning exercise routine (see No. 2).

Foods that stimulate brain activity

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“You are what you eat.” Chances are you’ve heard that phrase a time or two. It’s meant to remind how you important a balanced diet is for your health.

Though many associate healthy eating with physical health, it’s equally as important your mental well-being. Below are 10 brain-boosting foods that will help improve brain function, protect against age-associated cognitive decline and encourage focus.

Celery

Not many people are familiar with the plant compound luteolin. A 2010 study from the University of Illinois at Urmana-Champaign determined that a diet rich in luteolin reduces age-related memory loss. Celery is one of the best sources for luteolin.

Seeds

Seeds such as sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and flax seed are great sources of protein, beneficial fat and vitamin E. They also contain stress-fighting antioxidants and magnesium, which is an important brain-boosting mineral.

Blueberries

Blueberries have long been considered a superfood. The antioxidants and other phytochemicals in blueberries have been linked to improvements in learning, thinking and memory. They are also low in fructose compared to other fruits, which makes them one of the healthiest fruits you can eat.

Red Meat

Red meat, such as grass-fed beef, is a great source for vitamin B12. Low levels of vitamin B12 have been shown to speed brain shrinkage and lead to memory decline. People with vitamin B12 deficiency are also more likely to score lower on cognitive tests.

Crab

One serving of crab contains more than your entire daily requirement of phenylalanine. Phenylalanine is an amino acid that helps make the neurotransmitter dopamine, brain-stimulating adrenaline and noradrenaline and thyroid hormone, and may help fight Parkinson’s disease. Crab is also an excellent source of brain-boosting vitamin B12.

Wild Salmon

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for your brain health. These healthy fats have been linked to improved cognition and alertness, reduced risk of degenerative mental disease, improved memory, improved mood, and reduced depression, anxiety, hyperactivity and cardiovascular disfunction.

Tuna

In addition to being another rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids, tuna has the highest level of vitamin B6 of any food. Studies have discovered that deficiencies of the vitamin B6 are associated with neurological and psychological dysfunction and congenital defects. B vitamins are also among the most important for balancing your mood.

Green Leafy Vegetables

Green leafy vegetables, such as romaine, spinach, kale and arugula, are excellent for your brain. That’s because they are high in iron and manganese. People who are iron-deficient often struggle with poor moods, foggy thinking and other cognition issues.

Garbanzo Beans

Garbanzo beans or chickpeas are a great source of magnesium, which is highly beneficial  for speeding message transmission to brain cell receptors. Magnesium also relaxes blood vessels, allowing more blood through to feed the brain. A cup of raw chickpeas delivers more than 230 mg of magnesium.

Tumeric and Curry

Tumeric is one of the main components of curry powder. It also contains a spice that in turn contains the anti-inflammatory antioxidant curcumin. Curcumin has been shown to boost memory and stimulate the production of new brain cells.

6 Simple Exercises That Will Increase Your Energy at Work

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If you want to forgo coffee, soda and sugary snacks to increase your energy naturally at work, consider the power of exercise. In a study published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics in 2008, University of Georgia researchers found that inactive folks who normally complained of fatigue could increase energy by 20% while decreasing fatigue by as much as 65% by simply participating in regular, low-intensity exercise.

Sure, you may not be able to take the afternoon off to go exercise, but you don’t have to. Here are seven quick energy boosting exercises you can do at work.

Walk at a pace brisk enough to increase your heart rate. As you walk, actively tighten/engage your abs, monitor your posture while ensuring you’re taking smooth, deep breaths. Got a set of stairs in or around your office? Use them. Walk up the stairs as quickly as possible, then attempt taking them two at a time. Walk at a normal pace on the way down. Do this for 1-3 minutes.

Jump rope. There’s a reason boxers jump rope. It’s a great cardiovascular workout. If you’re at work in a confined space, don’t worry about having an actual jump rope. Simply start with standard jumps. Then jump laterally from side to side. Finish by imagining a box and jumping around the four corners. Do this for 1-3 minutes.

Jumping jacks. Whether it is in your cubicle, office or break room, jumping jacks are a familiar exercise great for getting the blood pumping and raising energy levels.  As you perform your jumping jacks, breathe deeply and tighten your abs to engage your core. To add a muscle building component, instead of returning to a standing position after your legs are wide, simply transition down into a squat. This will target your thighs, glutes and abdominal muscles. Do this for 1-3 minutes.

Chair squats. While sitting in a chair, lift up until your hips are just hovering over the chair while your arms our stretched parallel to the floor. Hold for 2-3 seconds, stand all the way up and repeat 8-10 times.

Side Bends. Hold a water bottle with both hands and stretch your arms over your head. Gently bend towards the left as far as you can, contracting your abs while keeping your back straight. Come back to center and repeat to the right. Repeat this 10 times.

Ab Twists. Hold a water bottle at chest level and, keeping the knees and hips forward, gently twist to the left as far as you comfortably can. Twist back to center and move to the left. Repeat this 10 times.

If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you will need to do more than just these moves. Just remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program. This is especially important if you haven’t exercised for a long time and/or have have chronic health problems.

5 Healthy Ways to Increase Your Energy and Improve Productivity

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I know you’ve been there before.

Struggling to find energy in the middle of the day.

With so much on our plates, we search for ways to get an instant jolt of energy. Maybe it’s a candy bar. Or an energy drink. Although those are common choices, they aren’t ideal and healthy ways to give yourself an energy boost.

Here are a five healthy ways to increase your energy and improve your productivity.

Exercise

Everyone knows that exercising is good for your health. When we think of exercise, we focus on the process of working out and exerting energy. But exercising can also increase your energy. In an often cited study conducted over 20 years ago, Robert Thayer, PhD, a professor at California State University, Long Beach, compared the energizing effects on 12 different days when 18 people either ate a candy bar or walked briskly for 10 minutes. Walking increased participants’ energy for two hours. While the sugary snack initially boosted energy, after an an hour the participants were more tired and had less energy.

Sleep

Do you routinely function on a lack of sleep due to business or pleasure? If so, you are likely going through your day with a lack of energy. In a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, researchers evaluated whether or not there was a connection between partial sleep deprivation, energy levels and weight. They discovered that a reduction in sleep caused a disruption in hormones that regulate appetite and in turn energy balance. Strive to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

Eat Breakfast

If you are one of 31 million Americans that regularly skips breakfast, you are missing a great opportunity for an energy boost. In addition to helping you maintain a healthy body weight, eating a breakfast high in fiber and carbohydrates will help fuel your body throughout the day. Examples of foods your should choose for breakfast include whole wheat bread, oatmeal, high-fiber cereal, fruit and dairy.

Drink More Water

When it comes to finding energy in liquid form, most of us reach for something high in sugar and/or caffeine. Skip those options because drinking water is a great way to increase energy. Water helps us remain hydrated which results in added energy. If you miss flavored drinks, simply add lemons, limes or other fruits to your water.

Eat Less Sugar

Does sugar give you a boost of energy? Yes, but for no more than an hour. When the sugar is used up, your energy level will plummet and you will experience fatigue. This is commonly referred to as a sugar crash.

7 Ways to Stimulate Your Mind Throughout The Day

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Want to be more productive at work?

Silly question because we all do.

If being productive is your goal, taking breaks should be a big part of your day.

Studies show that taking regular breaks from mental tasks improves productivity and creativity. Conversely, skipping breaks can lead to additional stress and exhaustion.

Now that we’ve established that taking breaks are good, how can you maximize them to make them most effective for you?

After all, most of us think of work breaks as opportunities to smoke cigarettes or chat with a coworker.

Here are 7 simple ways to maximize your breaks at work to be more productive.

1. Listen to an audiobook or podcast. Whether it is self-help or business, listening to a good audiobook or podcast can stimulate your mind. There are plenty of topics and subjects we all would love to learn more about but don’t have time to read a physical book. Do grab your earbuds, press play and enjoy learning. Apps like iTunes and Audible makes this a simple ways to gain knowledge.

 

2. Take a brisk walk. It’s easy to become sedentary since most of us sit in front of a computer at work. Taking a brisk walk allows you not only to get your blood flowing, but takes your mind off of the task at hand.

 

3. Meditate. Ever considered meditation? Maybe you should during your breaks. A recent study discovered that mediating at work can help increase focus, productivity and decrease stress at work may involve nothing more than learning to meditate.

David Levy, a computer scientist and professor with the Information School at the University of Washington, found that those who had meditation training were able to stay on task longer and were less distracted. Levy and his co-authors discovered that meditation also improved test subjects’ memory while easing their stress.

 

4. Get some fresh air. Staying inside a stuffy office can leave us feeling a bit blah. Go outside and get some fresh air. Get stimulated and rejuvenated by the sun’s warmth and a fresh breeze.

 

5. Turn on some upbeat music. We all love music. So crank on your favorite upbeat tunes during your break to feel great at work. Research shows that listening to upbeat music can lift your mood and ultimately lead to a greater quality of life.

 

6. Eat a Snack. Eating a snack is something that most of us do during a busy day. But instead of grabbing something from the vending machine in break room, opt for healthier snacks that can increase your focus and energy. Choices such as nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and tuna contain nutrients that boost your energy without the sugar crash experienced from candy bars.

 

7. Create a Gratitude List.Chances are if you sat down and wrote all the things and people you are grateful for, you’d have a long list. Well according to several studies, doing so can keep you healthier and happier. Designate time during your breaks to create a gratitude journal and write coworkers thank you notes showing appreciation for helping you with tasks or projects.

 

 

Agent Success Story: Steven Fischer

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Steven Fischer, from Gig Harbor, WA joined the Alliance in November 2013 direct to managers Joe and Tawnee Walker. Prior to The Alliance, Steven was a Counselor 7 years for hospital patients that were battling Chemical dependency. Steven was able to get his license by December and writing business in January 2014. He is currently #47 on the Leader-board for May, making well over $10,000 already this month.

Steven has a natural love and concern for people, so when he saw our opportunity in protecting America’s families from financial devastation… he was in.

He loves the freedom of working his own schedule, while he is able to be a caregiver to his mother.

Steven appreciates the team, and all their help and support that are available.