April 2018


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WEEK OF April 30 – May 6, 2018

The truth could be stranger than fiction this Monday, April 30 as the Scorpio moon shares a flight path with no-holds-barred Jupiter. Suspend disbelief, Pisces. It’s time to face those unvarnished facts head on and see things for what they truly are. While this can be temporarily unmooring, when you know what—and who—you’re dealing with, you can make the soundest decisions for yourself. Even if these discoveries evoke a change, embrace it. And since Monday’s planetary pairing is the after-party of last Sunday’s Scorpio full moon, developments can happen fast once you set your mind to them. Don’t let your fear of change keep you stuck in a groove! Traveling or enrolling in school may be part of the plan that emerges. Feeling gun shy? Start gently. Drop in for a visit to the Austin or London office; or, if you work for yourself, pack up your laptop and do a two-week Airbnb rental in a city you’re considering for relocation. Instead of applying for a Masters program, take an online course to see how a certain subject matter sings to you.

Of course, moving the needle doesn’t have to mean upending your entire life. All week long, the Sun is beaming into Taurus and your third house of local activity. With a little basic research, like checking out the cultural guides or asking savvy friends for tips, you could discover a treasure trove in your own front yard. As you move through your daily routines, look up from your Instagram feed and scan the scene. Oh hello, new yoga studio with a sound bath meditation, or weekly lecture series at the cafe serving your morning joe! If nothing is happening locally that sates your intellectual curiosity, take it upon yourself to be the organizer. You could start a book club with friends—or level it up to a “workbook club” as you read and support each other with accompanying exercises in a tome like The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron or Calling In The One by Katherine Woodward.

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Another prompt to find your tribe arrives just before the weekend, when the Capricorn moon settles into your communal eleventh house for two-plus days. Look for “people of substance,” Pisces—folks who aren’t afraid to plummet into the poetic and mystical depths where mermaids tread. This may be your cue to get involved in a political cause or a charitable organization that is having a direct impact on issues that mean everything to you. On Friday, heavyweight Saturn adds an air of gravitas to all your social interactions. Is one difficult person bringing down the morale of the group? You have two choices here, Pisces. You could pull ’em aside for a one-on-one to discuss the issue or you can make a tough call and ask them to leave. Although you may adore this person, you have to think about the collective. Perhaps this just isn’t a good fit, and your relationship would be better served by collaborating in other ways. While you’re at it, assess the commitments on your plate. Don’t let misplaced loyalty leave you stuck in a group that’s no longer speaking to your soul. Time is your most precious asset, Pisces, so spend yours among people who mirror your highest intentions—and also spark joy!

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Fourteen months ago, Tamaryn Muniz was bordering 130kg. She found herself in constant pain and not living life to the fullest. Her love for unhealthy food and lack of exercise had her piling on the kilos and, before she knew it, her weight was out of control. Sick of feeling unhealthy, this mom of three decided to completely change her lifestyle and embark on a fitness journey that would have her reaping all the benefits.

Tamaryn Muniz

Occupation: Branch manager

Age: 38

Weight before: 126.8kg

Weight after: 87kg

Time required to reach current weight: 14 months

Secret weapon to your weight loss: No excuses

READ MORE: “Losing Weight Drastically Improved My Mood Swings”

The Gain

After moving into her own place at 19, Tamaryn’s weight troubles began. “I could eat anything I wanted, portions weren’t controlled and it was easier to just get takeaways or eat a whole pot of whatever creamy concoction I’d made,” she says. Her favourites were creamy pasta and potatoes. Her go-to snack: chips and dip. “I’d eat a whole bowl of dip and a big bag of crisps without a second thought,” she says. Along with the overindulging, Tamaryn was partying hard, and that was all the exercising she was getting. A marriage and three kids later, Tamaryn found herself locked in a constant battle with her weight – a fight that would continue for years.

The Change

Eight years ago Tamaryn injured her spinal cord during a netball game. “I slipped three discs which were in a complete prolapsed state, and for six years I fought to avoid spinal surgery. The daily pain was so intense I couldn’t dress myself. My six-year-old had to help me dress when my hubby was at work.” Two years later, after surgery which resulted in 19 staples in her back, Tamaryn still found herself in constant pain. Her doctor blamed the excess weight. At first she was reluctant to believe that her weight had anything to do with it – but ultimately she realised she “had to do something”.

“I will never forget the day, 16 May 2016, when I walked into my coach’s gym (Body Fanatics) – that’s the day my life changed for the better,” says Tamaryn. She switched bad carbs for good ones like sweet potatoes and rice. She upped her protein intake and stuck to a strict eating and exercise plan. She exercised for 30 minutes in the morning and did 45 minutes of weight training at night. Once she was in the right mindset, losing weight wasn’t as daunting. “The mind is powerful and once you have your mind on your side, the rest becomes a lot easier”.

READ MORE:“I Decided To Replace Alcohol With Water And Lost 11 Kilos”

The Lifestyle

Tamaryn’s first strategy was to “stop making excuses”. She explains that making excuses is a delay tactic and that “change comes with hard work. You need to be prepared to work hard to reap the rewards.” Tamaryn eats six smalls meals a day. Her first meal of the day usually consists of oats with egg whites and grapefruit, or a berry smoothie with added whey protein. She ends her day with tuna and salad, or steak and vegetables. Since the beginning of her journey, Tamaryn’s eating hasn’t changed much, but she has switched up her exercising. “I do cardio in the morning and weight training at night four times a week – so now I train a minimum of 12 times a week,” she says.

The Reward

It’s taken 14 months of hard work, determination and dedication, but Tamaryn has lost an amazing 42 kilos! And she shows no signs of stopping. “I refuse to call my pictures before and after because I’m not done yet, not by a long shot,” she exclaims.

She’s also reached many milestones along the way. “I’m proud that I fit into a size 12 or 14 jeans and not a 28, and a size 10 or 12 shirt, not a 26.” From wearing a bikini in public to completing a 5k in under 35 minutes, Tamaryn is smashing all her fitness goals and inspiring others. “But I couldn’t have done this without the help, support and butt-kicking from my amazing husband Eric Muniz, and my inspirational and amazing coach June Odendaal,” she says.

And the bonuses keep piling up… Because of her new healthy lifestyle, her husband and kids have been living healthier lives too. And her back pain is a thing of the past. “My back hasn’t been this strong in eight years – I can pick up heavy things, I can bend to tie laces, I can do everything I could before I injured myself,” she says.

READ MORE: This Woman Went From Size 44 To 38 By Simply Switching Up Her Lifestyle

Tamaryn’s Tips

Stop making excuses: “Excuses only hold you back from where you want to be.”

Get a coach: “Find someone to help you with meal plans and training programmes.”

Believe in yourself: “You are amazing, you are gorgeous and you can do it. Believe it and do it.”

In need of more inspiration? Check out these incredible success stories!

READ MORE ON: Real Women Success Stories Weight Loss Weight Loss Tips

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April 28, 2018

You don’t have to take a gap year to scratch your wanderlust itch, Water Bearer. This weekend brings opportunities galore for mini-getaways—or activities that let you FEEL like you’re somewhere more exotic than home sweet home. With the curious Libra moon jetting through your ninth house of travel and adventure Saturday, you’ll be keen to try anything different or unfamiliar. Is there a one-day road trip you could take with your favorite plus-one? How about a few days at a woodsy rental cabin or even a friend’s swanky high-rise apartment? Even an unplugged “baecation” with your S.O. can raise your pulse if you avoid the usual haunts. On Sunday, the year’s only full moon in Scorpio switches on all the lights in your tenth house of career ambition. Get a jumpstart on the workweek—if you’re not in another time zone—and send some queries or update your website. This lunar lift influences the next two weeks. Play your professional cards right and you could land a new gig or prestigious client. We don’t have to tell your networking-savvy sign that it really IS all about who you know.

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The longer I do polymer clay, the more I realize there are just a lot of ways to do things. This approach by a Russian artist on LiveJournal – SandyCheek – makes the mokume gane stack into a cane to slice. It’s an easier way of dealing with an all clay stack for sure. The tutorial is in Russian but here’s a link an English version, as well.

You can deform your stacks with cutters, straight edges, needle tools, ball tools… the different marks make for interesting slices.

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You’ve made such great progress! The scale was down. Your clothing size was down. Then, all of a sudden … nothing. Nothing is budging. Your progress has halted and you’re frustrated. You’ve hit the dreaded PLATEAU!

How do you get past it? Well, figuring out why you hit a plateau can help you find a way through it.

Reasons you may have hit a plateau:

  1. Not eating enough to start with. Your body does not know the difference between diet and starvation. If you started too low in calories to begin with, walking down in calories will become very difficult if your body believes you aren’t going to feed it enough. Figuring out your energy balance (resting metabolic rate plus activity levels) can help to make sure you don’t allow your body to become stubborn about burning that extra body fat.
  2. Eating too many carbs, not enough protein and fats. Carbohydrates are your body’s energy source. If you are giving it plenty of carbs, it has no reason to tap into fat stores as fuel.
  3. You stopped tracking your food and exercise. It’s easy to overestimate how much exercise we are doing or under-calculate how much we are truly eating. Getting it down on paper (or on to an app like MyFitnessPal) makes us accountable to what we are accomplishing in real time.
  4. Alcohol. While alcohol doesn’t necessarily cause you to get fat, it can prevent your body from burning fat. Your metabolism must deal with the alcohol first before it can do anything else. If your alcohol consumption has been increasing, it can halt your progress.
  5. Too much cardio, not enough strength training. Your body adapts very quickly to cardio, meaning you don’t burn as many calories doing the same activity. However, building muscle increases your metabolism overall (even while you sleep).
  6. You’re focused on the wrong thing. If the scale is the only tool you are measuring your progress by, you may still be seeing results but not appreciating them. If your body fat is decreasing, you are dropping inches and if your clothes are getting too big, you haven’t hit a plateau at all. Progress is progress.
  7. Too many cheat meals. If you are doing great during the week but eating thousands of calories on the weekend, eating a cheat meal (or two or four), you are probably undoing all your hard work by exceeding your body’s energy needs. Try sticking to one cheat meal and don’t make it a “free-for-all.”
  8. Hormones. As we get older our hormones decline, making it more difficult to lose weight or keep fat off (especially in the abdominal area). This can play a role in reaching those stubborn plateaus. There is also something to be said for the chemicals, additives and preservatives found in processed foods. It is now widely reported that high-fructose corn syrup confuses our ghrelin and leptin levels (the hormones that tell us if we are hungry or satiated).
  9. Stress. Cortisol does lead to stubborn belly fat (although a pill will not solve the situation). Reducing stress and exercising self-care may get you past that frustrating point.

Tips to get past a plateau:

  1. Be patient. If you are still seeing changes other than the scale, you are still seeing progress. The goal should be fat loss, not weight loss.
  2. Switch up your workouts. Add strength training, try a new class or take up a new sport to shake it up and stay motivated.
  3. Go back to tracking your food. It’s important to be accountable. If you aren’t 100 percent sure how much you are eating or how many calories you are burning, you may be justifying extra goodies too often.
  4. Recalculate your macros. If you have lost 50 pounds, you may not need quite as many calories. Base your energy intake on your energy output by using a Fitbit or other activity tracker.
  5. Drink more water. Considering your body is made up of mostly H2O, staying hydrated will keep your body working as efficiently as possible.
  6. Consult a professional. Hire a trainer, nutritionist or coach who has shown they can get their clients results in a healthy way. Be sure to choose someone who has certification, plenty of experience and practices what they preach.

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App Store Optimization

Some say Google is God. Others say Google is Satan. But if they think Google is too powerful, remember that with search engines unlike other companies, all it takes is a single click to go to another search engine.

  • Sergey Brin

The world of technology is all about winning a race in the search ‘space’. Stay ahead of all the competitors and get the hits — a proper bang on the absolute and targeted keywords. Superior ranking remains the basic strategy of all the innovative methodologies, application software and any other product. In short, it’s “Search Engine Optimization” for websites and “App Store Optimization” for mobile apps.

Now, here’s a brief on what exactly is the ‘App store optimization’ and the inside-out of the App store. Optimization is essentially the first step taken when any software is launched. The aim of developing a mobile app is obviously to increase the number of downloads. Hence, the focus stays on the search results and the indexing of the applications in the store. The marketing apps rely on the app store optimization tools they use.

How do the search results affect the ranking or indexing of the mobile applications? The answer is quite simple. The words that are typed on the search bar — that is, the keywords. The name says it all. These are definitely the ‘key’ factor that determines the search results. The keywords are simply designated by the most relevant feature of the respective mobile application. And, these words would best describe the application and its use. Applying the best keywords facilitates the mobile applications to gain higher ranks and achieve targeted goals, which ultimately depends on the increasing rate of downloads by the users. Finding the targeted keywords is, thus, not as easy as a pie. It requires an extensive research that can ensure impressive results.

What are the most important steps behind the process of ‘App Store Optimization’? In addition to appropriate usage of keywords, the application title also holds an equal weightage in improving the hierarchy of the mobile application in the App store. In fact, there are platforms that allow the app marketers to test their mobile applications using the testing tools. Furthermore, there are social media platforms that offer experiments and research on targeted keywords in different countries around the globe.

The visibility, the display, the appearance, the icon of the app — yes, this is yet another feature and one of the most important app store optimization tools. How well does the app appear in the app store? Make it simple, and flaunt the best feature of the mobile application through the icon. More complex icons can significantly affect the rating of the application in the store and can turn the app publishers to go for a toss.

Although these occur to be the key factors for app optimization, there are slight variations when the dominant mobile application stores are compared. For instance, Apple App store for iPhones does not provide prime importance to the ‘keywords’ when compared with the Google Play store of the Android. In order to draw more traffic and grab potential customers, the crucial methodologies and the factors used for optimization can vary.

When all the above-mentioned app optimization tools go hand-in-hand, the ratings and reviews of the apps increase automatically. Snatch the accurate words, and propose the excellent title for the mobile app. There can absolutely be nothing else to improve marketing the bran, and do top it up with the simplest icon and get the highest rating with great reviews.

There’s nothing more to be done. Devote your time and effort in analyzing ‘key’words and obtain the finest results in the app store.

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April 26, 2018

Get ready for a red-letter day, Cap! Today, impassioned Mars forms a potent conjunction with game-changing Pluto in your sign—something that hasn’t happened in two years and will only occur a couple more times in your life. You’ve working steadily to reach a higher level, and this could be the moment others see you in your full, radiant splendor. Speak from your heart, stand out from the pack and let yourself shine. While you might prefer to hide out on the sidelines, it’s time to take your place among the influencers.

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Shield your field! Today, you may be overly affected by the comments and behavior of colleagues and people in you social sphere. Aggressive Mars syncs up with shadowy Pluto in your teamwork sector—something that only happens once every two years—and you could be feeling a little thin-skinned. Remind yourself that most of what people say is a reflection or projection of THEIR feelings—generally about themselves. Bolster your confidence by surrounding yourself with folks who love you and have your back, and stop yourself from fixate on the “he-said-she-said.”

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Live and let live? Good luck with that today, Crab. A super-rare mashup of passionate Mars and obsessive, possessive Pluto in your partnership zone could send your emotions on a roller-coaster ride. Don’t let your inner screenwriter start wildly penning imaginative scenarios. Check in with your gut—of course—but be a watchdog about the subtle difference between feeling and fearing. Need more attention? Be direct about it instead of hinting or getting all passive-aggressive.

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