Have a healthy Halloween (and still have fun)

“Pumpkin” by hin255 via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Halloween can be a time of fun parties and tasty treats, but it can also be a difficult time to maintain healthy behaviors. How do we protect the fun of Halloween without sacrificing our health?

Celebrate the good

Fitness: Halloween creates many opportunities for physical activity. Trick-or-treating (walking) and dancing at parties are two examples of physical activity that many enjoy. Many people also like participating in fun runs and marathons featuring prizes for the best costumes.

Food: In addition, pumpkins (and their seeds) are a great addition to the diet. They contain antioxidants, vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber.

Friends: Halloween provides plenty of chances to be social. Spending time with family and friends is also part of a healthy lifestyle, reducing stress and increasing self-worth (click to read more).

Make healthy tweaks

Making healthy choices doesn’t mean giving up all candy and passing out dental floss, as one dentist does in a funny TV commercial. You (and your children) can still enjoy candy and other treats in moderation.

Suggestions for candy

  • fruit snacks with 100% fruit juice
  • bite-size or mini candy bars
  • chocolate over sticky or hard candies (to reduce candy sticking to teeth)
  • wait until a few days before Halloween to buy your candy (so you aren’t tempted to eat them all yourself)
  • pick a number of candies you (or your children) will eat each day (to teach moderation)
  • eat a healthy snack before trick-or-treating or going to parties
  • donate (or participate in buyback programs) any extra or unwanted candy to organizations collecting for soldiers

Ideas in case you want to give treats other than candy (again, no dental floss)

  • stickers
  • pencils
  • temporary tattoos
  • bouncy balls
  • plastic spider rings
  • whistles

Party food recipes

Keep safety in mind

Make sure your Halloween costumes allow free movement and full range of sight to avoid tripping. Observe small children to make sure they don’t choke on small toys or candy, and have them sit down while they enjoy any treats. Clear pathways for trick-or-treaters and party guests, and keep decorations from becoming fire hazards by putting candles away from flammable decorations and in areas where they are not likely to be knocked over. Use designated drivers or call a cab for any party guest that may have had too much to drink (Click here to see one serving of alcohol).

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How SMART are your resolutions?

Happy New Year!
Photo Credit: digitalart (FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

What kind of New Year’s Resolutions did you make? Was it something vague, like “Eat better,” or does it pass the SMART test?

When setting goals (resolutions included), many people use a technique I learned in school: make them SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely).


Put details in your goal so that you have a clearer idea of what you are planning on doing.


Phrase the goal in a way that you can easily tell if you’ve accomplished it or not.


Make a goal that you have the ability and resources to meet (or, make sure you have a plan to get the skills and resources you will need).


Write your goal so that you do not have to be a miracle-worker to achieve it.


Include a deadline or time frame in your goal so that you know when to evaluate your progress.

Here are some generic examples with a few of the many possible changes to making SMART goals.

Generic or otherwise non-SMART SMART examples
  • Eat better
  • Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day
  • Drink more water
  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water every day
  • Drink a glass of water before each meal or snack
  • Substitute a glass of water in the place of one soda every day
  • Work out
  • Do at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week
  • Attend an exercise class three times a week, after work
  • Be a better person
  • Volunteer for one hour on Tuesdays at the local food bank
  • Compliment a stranger every day
  • Lose weight
  • Lose 25 pounds, at a rate of 1 pound each week, through portion control and exercise
  • Meet with the dietitian monthly to discuss and plan realistic weight loss goals and progress
  • Get a better job
  • Apply to 3 jobs per week, until a new job contract is signed
  • Save money
  • Save $100 per month for the 2014 European summer vacation
  • Spend more time with family and friends
  • Host a monthly movie party for close friends
  • Eat Sunday family dinner each week

What are your resolutions? Do they pass the SMART test?

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Confession: I schedule my tweets

woman biting lip, freedigitalphotos.net, Photo Credit Michal Marcol, confession
Photo Credit: Michal Marcol (FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

I have a confession to make: I schedule my tweets. Well, most of them.

(I do reply in real-time, and occasionally I send an unscheduled tweet, but the majority of the articles I share are scheduled through HootSuite).

Yes, I know that Twitter is supposed to be a real-time microblogging social network. I know that there are things that may not be relevant by the time I tweet them, after scheduling some up to 2 weeks before. But really, I’ve thought this through, and I want to share my thinking with you so that you can decide if it’s something you might want to try, if you use Twitter and aren’t already scheduling some or all of those tweets.


Scheduling tweets saves time. I can find articles and write out a week’s worth of tweets at once, saving me from going through that process daily.

Plan exactly when to release the tweet. Right now, I schedule health and business-related tweets. This is especially helpful if you know when your tweets are most popular, so you can release them at the right times. It also helps your followers not to get a flood of tweets all at once. Tools like Tweriod and Buffer can also help (more about that later).

Don’t forget Follow Friday (#FF) again. I really like recommending people I enjoy following, and I like reading other people’s recommendations of who to follow. I also always seem to forget it’s Friday, and miss the opportunity to participate in #FF on the correct day. (Yes, I can and do recommend users to others, but for #FF, I like to recommend by category. Here’s an example of what I mean:


Scheduled tweets may be irrelevant by the time they’re tweeted. The person who got me interested in Twitter was Amy Duncan (@amydunc), who also told me she would never schedule tweets, because she was concerned that a scheduled tweet could be irrelevant or inappropriate by the time it was released. (At the time, she owned a news website, My Green Lake, which is now a part of EveryBlock Seattle, so this was extremely important. It may not matter as much if you are tweeting other info or random thoughts.)

Solution: Don’t plan too far ahead. I usually schedule one week’s worth of tweets. This seems to work well. If I need to schedule more than one week, I use things that aren’t time specific. For example, I won’t schedule something like “It’s a super sunny day! Try some watermelon to stay hydrated!” (because it might be rainy that day) or any news article with a date (because it will look outdated). Instead, I’ll schedule something like the tweet below:

Scheduling tweets takes chunks of time. It takes me about an hour to find one week’s worth of material to tweet. But, like the previous point, this will depend on what you’re tweeting. I mainly gather health-related info/articles to share, so this works for me. What do you tweet? Is it new info, blog posts, witty sayings? Those all will take different amounts of time. They also may not be available to schedule all at once. How many sayings can you come up with in the next hour? How many new blog posts will you have in that time? Those types of tweets may need to wait and be posted as you go.

Scheduling tweets removes the spontaneity of Twitter conversation.

Part of the fun of Twitter is the conversations you get to have with other users. It is social media, after all. Why would anyone want to schedule it and lose the natural feeling?

Solution: Don’t schedule @replies. Only schedule the things you are sending to the Twitterverse, not to one person (or even two people). Let conversation happen naturally, but allow yourself to schedule tweets containing article links that you want to share with everyone.

How I tweet

  • Scheduled: tweets where I share health articles/info that others have written, plus some questions.
  • Auto-tweeted: tweets sent automatically when I update my blogs.
  • Real-time: everything else (@replies, DMs, most RTs, and things that come up randomly that I want to share)


  • HootSuite This is the tool I use, after it was recommended to me by @MixedChicksChat. When I first joined, Twitter was great for mobile users, but I didn’t (and still don’t) have a smartphone, so I was stuck using the not-as-convenient web version. Hootsuite allowed me to view and send tweets in a way that made more sense to me. I didn’t schedule any tweets at first, but I just found it very convenient. Now, I know there are many other things that it can be used for, such as RSS reading, and, of course, scheduling!
  • Tweriod This app analyzes your twitter followers and tells you when the you have the most exposure for your tweets. You can use this info to schedule your tweets, or use other services like Buffer and Timely to release tweets from a queue at ideal times.

You may also be interested in…

Managing yourself: Schedule social media updates with Buffer, HootSuite and Timely by Demandforce

10 New Twitter Tools That Will Make Your Life Easier

Key points from “The 7 Hottest Social Media Business Trends” webinar

Favorite Marketing Tools: Hootsuite vs. Buffer

How to Automate Your Social Media Marketing

Key points from “The 7 Hottest Social Media Business Trends” webinar

Screen grab of the summary page of the 7 Trends webinar by Mari Smith and Guy Kawasaki, http://www.marismith.com/7smtrends/

On Wednesday (March 28, 2012), I participated in a webinar called “The 7 Hottest Social Media Business Trends,” which was presented by Mari Smith and Guy Kawasaki.

I watched it because I’m interested in marketing and because social media is increasingly being used to share health information.

You can watch the recording and read a summary of the trends, and view related tweets by searching #7smtrends on Twitter.

Overall, the webinar was entertaining and informative, and it was a privilege to hear tips and examples about social media strategies from two people as well-known as Mari and Guy. They said a lot of valuable things and told us to share the content of the webinar with other people, especially via social media, which I think is a great idea. Now, even without viewing it, others are able to benefit from the information.

Social media, Guy said, is “fast, free, and ubiquitous.” As a business, the key is using it correctly. They came up with seven trends they think are the most important.

1. Big Brand Bypass

New platforms are allowing more and more consumers to bypass brands and instead sell or exchange directly with one other. What can you do to show your audience that your business is the obvious choice for them … by being top of mind and in front of them at the crucial moments when they make that decision? (Taken from previously mentioned summary)

The best quote from when they talked about this trend was one from Guy: “Nobodies are the new Somebodies.”

2. Humanize to Monetize

In today’s world, personality means profit. Period. Bland, self-serving and inflexible brands are now incompatible with the public’s expectations. While human brands, or the humanity within big brands, leads to flourishing businesses. Where do you draw the line between capturing your market’s attention with individuality and character … without over-exposing yourself and your family to potential dangers and unnecessary risks of TMI (“too much information”)? (Taken from previously mentioned summary)

A quote from Mari sums up this section nicely: “People are craving that human connection.”

3. Cause-Based Consumers

How can you use the words “business” and “conscience” in the same sentence today … and include short-term profits with your long-term view? Consumers almost have an “addiction” to the NEW when it comes to consuming products. However, there is also a growing concern within consumers for the environment and policies that organizations and individuals stand for beyond “the brand”. If the business ethics don’t meet the consumers’ expectations for social cause, transparency and trust, businesses and individuals will fail completely. (Taken from previously mentioned summary)

They also called this trend “Beyond the Brand,” saying companies need to “Put it out there: What do you stand for?” Consumers want to see social causes, transparency, and trust. However, Guy reminded us that no matter what, a company offering a crappy product or service will not win customers by simply donating money to charity.

Mari also mentioned the Facebook engagement rate, and how to calculate it (number of people talking about that item, divided by number of fans).

4. Super Social Status

How can you use the words “business” and “conscience” in the same sentence today … and include short-term profits with your long-term view? Consumers almost have an “addiction” to the NEW when it comes to consuming products. However, there is also a growing concern within consumers for the environment and policies that organizations and individuals stand for beyond “the brand”. If the business ethics don’t meet the consumers’ expectations for social cause, transparency and trust, businesses and individuals will fail completely. (Taken from previously mentioned summary)

Mari used games, badges, and top scores as examples of this trend, and it was also mentioned (I forget who said it, but I think it was Guy) that it is “no longer about having material possessions,” which can be debated, but was more appropriate in context. They also said “People really crave incentives and rewards.”

To recognize those people who are the top fans on Facebook, Mari recommends using an app like Booshaka.

5. Awesome vs. “Flawesome”

Consumers are accepting that it’s okay for companies to be imperfect (they actually prefer it). The more open about your brands’ flaws the better. Being flawed and open about it can lead to a huge spike in brand sentiment. Consumers are embracing brands that admit to screwing up, that transparently show their shortcomings, and that show empathy through their mistakes. The façade of perfection in business is well and truly buried in the minds’ eye of the 2012 consumer. But, which irresistible morsels of fallibility should you proudly display as proof of your business’ human touch — and how do you decide where to apply the polish? (Taken from previously mentioned summary)

Guy and Mari talked about dealing with flaws. Instead of deleting them, handling them effectively can be more beneficial, since openness can lead to a spike in brand sentiment. They shared statistics: people guess that reviews are faked or censored if they are all positive; the conversion rate is higher for consumers who go out of their way to read negative reviews about a product they are considering.

Despite the quote from The Social Network that they mentioned (“The Internet is in pen, not pencil.”), they both encouraged businesses not to be paranoid, but to embrace flaws.

6. Mad for Mobile

Now that mobile device usage outnumbers computers 5-to-1 worldwide, we’re far beyond the tipping point. We can now do everything in a mobile way: more local information delivered via mobile, and more timely information delivered instantly. Mobile is simply more effortless; everything is easier on the go. But, how do you PROFIT by integrating effortless, instant-access mobile information with your always-on social media strategy? (Taken from previously mentioned summary)

They emphasized the importance of having “fast-loading mobile” versions of websites and blogs, as well as having “frictionless sharing.” Wibiya was given as an example of a useful tool. Other things they mentioned when talking about this trend were QR codes and SMS marketing.

7. Privacy Paranoia

Will 2012 finally tip the scales on a growing privacy backlash, resulting in a revolt against the widespread access to “open & misused information”? For the moment, Facebook, Google and many other services are pushing and pushing the boundaries of acceptability on privacy. At what point do we become uncomfortable and say, “enough is enough”? (Taken from previously mentioned summary)

There were several excellent quotes in this section.

Mari: “Have long cryptic passwords. If you can remember your password it’s not good enough.”

Guy recommended 1Password and says he uses it for everything, because password requirements make things too difficult to remember.

They briefly talked about the controversy over employers asking for employees’/interviewees’ Facebook passwords. Joking about the logic of these employers, Guy said, “It must be an IQ test. Let’s ask them for their password, if they give it, they are too stupid to work for us.”


After this, they had Q and A, and the topic of spam and spammers came up.

Guy said he hates spammers (He said social media networks are like a swimming pool, and then said, “It’s my pool, and you just put a piece of turd in my pool.”), and goes out of his way to crush them by changing the time he updates and by reporting and blocking spammers. He made the distinction between true advertising and spam: “If it’s advertising that’s relevant, it’s not spam.”


It was a great webinar and the presenters were fantastic. My favorite parts were the examples and stories they told, as well as participating in the interaction with people from around the world, both in the chat and via the Twitter hashtag (#7smtrends). This was the first time I’d participated in a live chat on Twitter, and will definitely be doing it again. Next time, however, I’ll probably try out TweetChat, something Mari had suggested that will update faster than Hootsuite, which is what I used (and is really more suited to social media management and scheduling than following live chats).

Once again, the recording and summary for this webinar are available online, and I highly recommend viewing it.

What are the social media trends that you’ve noticed? Do you have examples of companies who do it right? Let me know in the comments below.

For more information, please read the about the pros and cons of scheduling tweets.

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