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Join us as we count down the days to 2015 and a NEW YOU! 

Beginning tomorrow, we'll be posting useful information to help put you on the path to a better you in the new year and beyond!  New content will be added to this blog and our  Facebook page each day through the end of the year, so be sure to check back.

Are you ready? We are! The countdown begins in 3....2.....1....

Day 1: 30-Day Fitness Challenge

To kick off Allied’s self improvement series for December, “30 Days to a New You”, we’re proposing a 30 Day Fitness Challenge that is sure to get your body back in top shape after the Thanksgiving festivities. Work off the pumpkin pie, yams and extra serving of stuffing with a structured exercise regimen that is easy to stick with. Whether you’re a busy mom, full-time student or a working professional who’s constantly on the go, this easy-to-follow fitness challenge will help you defend against those pesky pounds and loathsome love-handles. It may even give you just enough motivation to resist the temptation to overdo it on the holiday ham and sugar plum sweet treats that will be dancing through your head. 
So join us as we embark on the journey to a happier, healthier you.
 Follow along each day with the handy 30 Day Fitness Challenge tracker and feel free to report back or post pictures of your successes so that we can rejoice along with you. Good luck!

30 Day Fitness Challenge

Downloadable Fitness Tracker

Day 2: 10 Useful Study Tips

Have an important test coming up? Here are 10 study tips to help prepare you to ace it.

1) Make a schedule
Life is busy, and making time for your studies can be challenging. Schedule at least a few days of study time in per week and stick to your plan. Be sure to add calendar reminders for accountability.

2) Take good notes 
There is something to be said about old school techniques. Research suggests our brains retain more information when we write notes by hand rather than typing them onto a computer screen. Even if you only write down a few key sentences for each study chapter, you’ll increase your ability to remember the information long term.
3) Get a lot of rest 
You may be tempted to pull an all-nighter before that very important test because cramming as much knowledge into your brain at the last minute will help you get a better grade, right? The truth is, lack of sleep can actually impair cognitive performance, not improve it. So, resist the temptation and get at least seven hours of sleep the night before your huge exam. Your brain will thank you.

4) Manage your time effectively
You know that helpful schedule you made to help manage your study time? Follow it. If an unexpected life event throws you off track, move things around and replace a less important activity with the study time you missed. Make a to-do list that breaks things up into more manageable pieces if necessary. Just be sure to make the most of your time. 

5) Find a study plan that works 
Whether you like to study in short blocks of time or for several hours in a row; with a buddy or without; at home or at the local library or coffee shop, it is important to have a plan that works best for your lifestyle. You may have to experiment to find the most effective solution, but once you do, keep it going. 

6) Take breaks
Reward yourself by taking regular breaks, which will help improve your ability to focus on a single task as well as boost your productivity. Go for a walk, nourish your body (and mind!), or rock out to your favorite song or two (You even have our permission to sing at the top of your lungs if you choose. We promise, we won’t tell!)

7) Understand the material
It is important to not just memorize the material but understand it, too. Since you’re investing your precious time and hard-earned money into getting an education, you probably want to learn something. Passing a test may help you with your short-term goals, but absorbing the knowledge can help you in your future career and in life long term. 

8) Ask for help
Collaboration is an important step in the learning process. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a teacher, fellow student, friend or family member if you are having trouble understanding something. Always ask questions! 

9) Review
You have taken the time to write down notes, so make sure you take the time to review them as well. Quiz yourself if it works best for you, but be sure to have some sort of review session at the end of your study period each day. 

10) Use study tools 
Flash cards, mnemonic devices, infographics, and charts can all be useful tools to help you throughout your study process. These are easy to create on your own, or through a quick Google search, you can find many helpful resources online. Check out a few of these valuable smartphone apps for when you’re studying on-the-go as well.

Good luck and happy studying!

Day 3: Top 10 Resume Tips of 2014

The end of the year is the perfect time to take a closer look at your resume and cover letter in preparation for any potential interviews or job prospects in the coming year. Regardless of whether you plan to change jobs in the near future or not, it’s always a good idea to have an updated copy of your resume handy in case you do need it on short notice. Perhaps you are surfing the internet and come across a listing that sounds like your dream job or you meet someone who thinks you’d be the perfect candidate for an open position and wants to consider you. The job market can be competitive and fast paced so the quicker you can respond, the better advantage you will likely have in scoring an interview. When you send your resume, you want to make sure that it’s a strong one that reflects your skills, experience and education in a professional manner. So grab your laptop and a cup of tea and follow these top 10 resume tips to whip your resume into top shape.

Top 10 Resume Tips

Day 4: A Little Inspiration

Here’s a thought provoking James Dean quote that seeks to remind us that we are in control of the direction that our lives take and how important it is to be flexible in our daily undertakings. We hope it inspires you to always remain relentless in pursuing your goals.


Day 5: Find Your Passion

Becoming a volunteer can be a very self-fulfilling and rewarding experience and can help you discover your passion! In addition to improving the lives of others, you can improve your own life by gaining skills and experience that can be invaluable in the future. Research from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) found that volunteers have a 27 percent higher likelihood of finding a job after being out of work than non-volunteers. If you have an altruistic spirit and are looking for ways to make a difference, the list of suggestions we compiled below should help get you started. 

1) Animal Shelters
If you’re passionate about our furry, four-legged friends, volunteering at a local animal shelter might just be the perfect match for you. Rescue facilities are almost always in need of good people, so if you’re up for the task, connect with a staff member to see how you can help. It’s a great way to stay active (dogs love walking partners!) and brush up on your office and people skills. The best reward of all? Being greeted with the warm kisses, tail wags, purrs and unconditional love only animals can provide. 

 2) Habitat for Humanity® 
Check out Habitat for Humanity for volunteer opportunities if you’re interested in developing experience in home building and repair. According to their website, there are nearly 2 billion people around the world who live in slum housing and more than 100 million are homeless. Habitat for Humanity helps by building or renovating simple, decent houses in partnership with those in need. Through your experience, you can increase your leadership ability and obtain valuable skills in home maintenance and repair. For more information go to

 3) Retirement and Nursing Homes 
If you are outgoing and enjoy interacting with the elderly, you might want to consider volunteering your time at a nursing or retirement home. Nursing homes depend on volunteers to provide companionship for their residents and assist with onsite activities such as bingo nights and dances. Volunteer experience in a retirement or nursing home can also be valuable for those looking to pursue a career in the medical field. You’ll gain practice and significant insight into the special needs of elderly patients.

 4) Soup Kitchens 
Unfortunately, there are many people who are not able enjoy the luxury of having food on the table every night like most of us do. Because of this, food pantries and soup kitchens can always use a helping hand to serve a hot meal or organize a food drive for those in need. Volunteers are welcome all year round, but if you’re feeling particularly charitable this holiday season, consider donating your time to feed the less fortunate. The gift of a warm meal and a friendly smile are certain to brighten spirits during the cold winter months. To find a local food pantry in your area, go to

 5) Veterans’ Service Organizations 
 Our veterans dedicated their lives to serving our country, allowing us to continue to enjoy the many freedoms our great nation provides. It may be impossible to properly repay them for their sacrifice, but you can show gratitude and appreciation by donating time and support to veteran service organizations nationwide. According to Volunteers of America, the number of homeless Vietnam-era veterans is greater than the number of service men and women who died during that war. And, veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are already appearing among the homeless population. For ways you can help veterans at a local level or on a national scale, check out or

 6) American Red Cross 
The American Red Cross provides compassionate care to those in need. Their mission is to prevent and relieve suffering, in the US and around the world. Red Cross provides help through five key service areas: disaster relief, supporting military families, blood donations, health and safety services, and international services. Volunteers make up 90 percent of the total workforce to carry out their humanitarian work. Visit their website at for ways to get involved.

 7) Local Libraries 
Our society has become so consumed with technology, we sometimes forget that libraries and hard-copy books still exist. If you’re a book lover and are nostalgic for the feel of crisp pages between your fingers, you might want to offer some time volunteering at your local library. Libraries often need volunteers to organize shelves, help patrons, and assist with author signings or other local community events. 

 8) Big Brothers Big Sisters of America 
Mentoring a child or young adult can be one of the most rewarding and enjoyable things you will ever do. By becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister, you have the opportunity to make a difference in a child’s life and shape his or her future for the better. The best part is you can make a huge impact by having fun and sharing the enjoyment of your favorite activities with your Little Brother or Little Sister. For more information, check out their website at

For more volunteer opportunities visit the following websites:

Day 6: Declutter Your Life

Is excessive clutter in your work, home, and everyday life having a negative effect on your overall well-being?  An overly cluttered life can be distracting and chaotic, causing an abnormal rise in your stress levels. The article below outlines how to start tackling the clutter in your environment so you're able to enjoy a happier, healthier, less stress filled life.

How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress 

Day 7: Mmmm Brownies

December 8 is National Brownie Day, and we're celebrating by providing you with a healthier recipe of one of America's favorite treats! Who says something that tastes so good can't also be good for you?
This brownie recipe from Texanerin Baking Blog is sure to have your mouth watering, while allowing you to keep on track with your health goals.

Happy eating!

Chocolate Zucchini Brownies
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
¾ cup coconut sugar or unrefined or granulated sugar
¼ cup (60 ml) unsweetened applesauce
1 cup (125 grams) whole spelt or whole wheat flour
½ cup (45 grams) Dutch-process cocoa powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups (about 300 – 320 grams) peeled and grated zucchini
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips + ½ cup mini chocolate chips to sprinkle on top (for dairy-free, use Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (176 degrees C) and line an 8"x8" pan with parchment paper or spray with baking spray.
In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, vanilla, coconut sugar, and apple sauce and let this sit for 5 minutes to let the coconut sugar dissolve.
In a separate medium bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder (sifted if lumpy!), baking soda and salt. Make sure there are no clumps before going on to the next step.
Add the dry mix to the wet, gently stir until combined. Be sure not to over mix!
Then fold in the zucchini and 1 cup chocolate chips.
Pour the batter into the pan and even the surface with a spatula.
Sprinkle ½ cup mini chocolate chips on top.
Bake for 30 - 35 minutes (14 minutes for the half batch) or until a toothpick inserted in the middle doesn't come out gooey. It might still be sticky - just not have raw batter on it.

Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days at room temperature or up to one week in the refrigerator.

Read more here

Day 8: Dress For Success

What do I wear to the interview? A lot of job seekers struggle with this question on some level when they are preparing to meet with a potential employer. Although it is true that skills and work experience usually take top priority when companies hire someone new, you shouldn't neglect the fact that first impressions can be equally important.  What you wear and how well you are put together can send a message to the hiring manager as to the type of worker you are. Don’t let your wardrobe be a distraction to all the other performance related assets that you have to offer. We all want to express our personal style for the world to see. However interviews are generally a time to err on the side of conservatism when it comes to dress. You don’t have to look like a boring, bland candidate but if you follow these basic tips you can look sharp and sound sharp at the same time.

Dressing for Success

Day 9: The Health Benefits of Drinking Water

It is essential to drink water daily in order to keep the body hydrated. Daily water consumption can aid in weight loss, greatly improve your mood, and give you healthy, glowing skin. Many experts recommend drinking a minimum of eight glasses per day to maintain overall good health.
If you already have a healthy water regimen, great job. Keep it up! If you don't, it's never too late to start incorporating more water into your daily routine. Even increasing your water intake in small amounts can help lead you on the path to a healthier, happier you! 

These Top 10 Health Benefits of Drinking Water are sure to help keep you motivated.

Day 10: Take an Online Class

Getting an education is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your future. As we reach adulthood, our responsibilities increase, causing our desire to obtain a higher education to be put on the back burner in favor of more pressing life commitments. If you fit into this category, obtaining an education online may be the perfect solution to quench your thirst for knowledge. By taking an online class, you’ll be able to better yourself, while still having the time to tackle the many challenges real life throws your way. If you’re not yet convinced, allow us to offer you further proof of the many ways online classes can make life easier and more enjoyable!

The Perks of Taking an Online Class

Day 11: Friday Inspiration

Vince Lombardi is one of the greatest football coaches of all time. It’s not difficult to understand why from the way he taught the game, which was as much from a mental standpoint as a physical one. His deep passion for achievement was evident in the many quotes that have been collected from him throughout history. This quote reminds us that there is no failure, there are only valuable learning experiences. The important thing is not giving up, but learning and then improving by using feedback to get better and ultimately succeed. Hopefully it inspires you to keep pushing forward, despite setbacks, obstacles or anything else that tries to get in the way of accomplishing your goals. Never give up! 

Day 12: Breaking Bad Habits

You’ve likely felt the pain during the second week of January… “Not another year that I’ve screwed up my New Year’s Resolution!” Don’t be so hard on yourself, because you’re in the same boat as millions of people. The great news is that this year, you’ll be armed and ready with a few simple tips that will put you well on your way to breaking bad habits once and for all!

These tips can apply to habits as simple as biting your nails, spending less money, to quitting smoking or worrying less.
Ray Lumpp suggests four simple steps:

1. Creating Awareness (Know what your bad habits are!)

2. Going Cold Turkey (Immediately abstain from that which you want to quit.) 

3. The Tier Method (Cut back your habit by a percentage.) 

4. Replacement (Swap the bad habit with a new one.)

Read the details at to learn more:

Day 13: Healthy Recipes Worth Trying

Eating healthy is a daily challenge for all of us. With busy schedules to contend with involving work, family, school and more, it can be easy to lose sight of the nutritional value of what we are feeding ourselves and our families. Making a healthy home-cooked meal every night of the week may be an unrealistic expectation by any means. Who has time for that these days? However trying a new and healthy recipe one or two nights a week can be a good way to unite the family, eat healthier and feel good about yourself. 

We’ve selected some of our favorite healthy recipes that not only taste delicious but are nutritious as well. If you’re trying to lose a few pounds or just eat healthier in general, these recipes can help you get closer to your ultimate goal. 

Healthy Recipes Worth Trying

Day 14: Budgeting Tips & Tricks
Did you know that making a few simple changes in your life can lead thousands of dollars in savings every year? For those looking to achieve financial success in the year 2015, these no-brainer ways to save money are sure to put you well on your way.

10 No-Brainer Ways to Save Money

For the tech savvy, it is also easy to keep track of your finances on your mobile device or tablet. 
Here's a look at some of the best mobile finance apps recommended by PC Mag.

Day 15: Tips for Using Social Media in Your Job Search

There is no denying that the 21st century has presented social media as a major force in connecting people. Now more than ever, we are using the internet along with social media as a means to find and share information about each other. With such widespread use of online platforms to communicate, we have the capability to reach a much broader audience compared to traditional forms of contact. This can be extremely useful when trying to conduct an effective job search.
With a single online profile, you can apply for multiple jobs with a few clicks whereas in the past it could take hours or even days to write and send out cover letters and resumes. Although social media profiles can be helpful when it comes to looking for a new job, they can also hurt your chances if your profile doesn’t portray the type of candidate that a hiring company is interested in. By carefully composing your Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram etc. pages to boost your overall likeability instead of diminish it, you can effectively utilize them in landing those interviews and attractive job offers. When conducting your next job search, keep these tips in mind when it comes to social media.

10 Smart Ways to Use Social Media in Your Job Search

Day 16: Take Up a Hobby

‘Tis the season to try something new! And Allied has just the idea for you…
 If you’re looking to find a new hobby in the upcoming year, perhaps you’ll be enticed to start baking with this sweet treat recipe book. By making one of these tasty desserts, you’re sure to be a hit at any family or social gathering all year round. Who can resist the charms of some of the best loved cakes, cookies, and pastries?
From our kitchen to yours – download and enjoy a few of our staff member’s favorite sweet treat recipes that are guaranteed to make your mouth water!

Happy Baking!
Download Sweet Treats Recipe Book 

Day 17: Conquer a Fear

Everyone has fears of one kind or another, and overcoming them can be a real battle. The good news is that whether you have a fear of heights, spiders, flying, public speaking or even failure you don’t have to remain a slave to them for the rest of your life. 

The cheapest and most effective way to overcome your fear is to expose yourself to what you’re scared of until you get over it. If your fear is having a negative impact on your quality of life, then now is the time to start tackling them. You’ll feel better about yourself and more empowered to take on even bigger challenges in the coming year. So if there is a phobia that gets you jittery from time to time, follow these helpful tips to conquer them once and for all.

5 Ways to Overcome Fear 

Day 18: In the Spirit of Giving

‘Tis the season to be giving and we’re giving you TWO quotes this week to celebrate! As you wrestle with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, take a moment to read, reflect and chuckle.

Happy Weekend!

Day 19: Practical Ways to Improve Yourself

Click through the slideshow below to view
realistic tips for self improvement

Day 20: Top Fitness Apps

Keeping up with health and fitness goals is typically a struggle for most of us. I for one, have several fitness apps on my phone that help me keep my fitness schedule intact. For me, a fitness app has to be user-friendly, effective and really show the progress I've been making. Whether the app is tracking exercise and nutrition, counting calories, or increasing fitness level, I've found that the apps I like the most are the ones that can be customized to me personally in every aspect.

Running Apps:

1.       Nike+ Running
Nike+ Running tracks your runs with your phone’s GPS. You can run anywhere and the app will record all your moves. Whether you’re running on the trail, treadmill, or streets, Nike+ tracks your distance, speed, and time so that you can track how you have been improving. The best part is while on the run the app will give you audio feedback and real-time performance updates to motivate you to push yourself and beat previous runs.  Another feature I really like is the PowerSong setting, where you can choose your favorite song to give you that extra push. Don’t forget you can share your runs with your friends on social media and motivate each other to beat your times!

2.       RunKeeper - Integration with MyFitnessPal
Training styles vary from person to person. While some like solitude and complete focus, others enjoy encouragement and coaching. No matter what your preference is RunKeeper fits your needs. What I really like about this app is the training plans you can schedule to fit your fitness goals. Whether you want to train for a race, learn how to become a better runner, get fit, or lose weight, RunKeeper has a training plan for everyone. The customization doesn’t stop there! You can use a feature called Goal Coach where the app asks you a series of fitness questions based on your goal and gives you recommendations on the type of training plan you should enroll in the app. After you’ve enabled a training plan, you can view your entire training calendar directly in the app, and get notifications for upcoming scheduled sessions where you’ll get coached throughout each workout with audio cues. The all around functionality of this app really helps you reach your fitness goals and stay fit.

3.       MapMyRun - Integration with MyFitnessPal
MapMyRun is an all around workout trainer for runners. This app not only helps you track your runs, but also all your other fitness activities. For runners, it has the option for you to choose a local route to run based on your location and see where you rank on leader boards for those routes. Like most running apps, MapMyRun has real-time updates while you run on your progress to help you improve your fitness levels and goals. But the app doesn’t stop there. Be on top of your nutrition, diet, and weight and track your calorie intake. If you want to take it to the next level, you can get MVP for access to the premium features where you can enable interval training, real-time audio coaching, customizable route recommendations, and many other features. The app runs in the background so you can listen to your music, take phone calls, and the app will continue tracking.

Circuit Training:

1.       Nike Training Club
The Nike Training Club app is another great fitness app from Nike. It’s best for those who like circuit training integrated with cross-training and high intensity interval training (HIIT). Nike Training is a little different, in the sense that you have to download the workouts onto your phone. One way to use the app is to just do separate workouts based on your fitness goal and level, and complete the workouts in the series. Another way (which I prefer), is activating a 4-week training program based on your fitness goal and level, and whether or not you want to add running (Tip: Always add running to your fitness routines. You get faster results and burn more calories when you add high intensity cardio to your workout schedule). The 4-week workout schedule is created and you can start whenever you want. The best part of this app is the option of syncing your Nike+ Running data for your training programs. Overall, Nike Training is a huge winner in my books and I always get amazing results.

2.       7 Minute Workout “Seven”
The 7 Minute Workout “Seven” app has a completely different approach to high intensity interval training than most circuit training apps. The whole concept of this app is working out based on the scientifically proven shortest time possible with the maximum benefit of working out regularly only using a chair and wall. All it takes is working out seven minutes a day for seven consecutive months. Sounds easy right? When you start the program you get three lives and each heart represents a missed workout. So if you miss a day, you lose a heart and if you miss 3 workouts a month your progress resets to zero and you have to start all over again. This is why I love this app because it truly encourages you to work out every day, even if it’s just for seven minutes; you still get some activity in your every day routine. This app is great for those who have just a general fitness goal. As you progress through the program, you unlock achievements, earn rewards, and discover newer circuits. So why are these workouts effective? It’s because the fitness program is designed so that you work your entire body with no equipment needed only using your body weight! This type of training maximizes your results since all the resistance is from your own body and not a machine.

3.       Runtastic Six Pack Abs Workout - Integration with MyFitnessPal
We all have that one part of our body no matter how much we train, how intense our cardio workouts are, losing weight in that section feels close to impossible. For many people, it’s their core. If that’s the case, there’s an app for that! Runtastic Six Pack Abs Workout app is the absolute easiest way to work your core without hiring a trainer all at the ease of your home. With the free version of the app, you can only choose to do the 10 day workout plan, which gives you 35 exercises. Each day you get a different set of workouts, increasing the workout duration every day, and varying the number of sets and repetitions. Many times when I've used this app, I wake up the next day and it hurts to laugh. Soreness after a workout is the most obvious indication of building muscle. That’s right, the app works! If you love the free version of the app, I highly recommend that you buy the full version and start the level 2 and level 3 training plans.

Health & Fitness Trackers:

1.       MyFitnessPal
MyFitnessPal has got to be the most common health and fitness tracker among fitness apps. This app records and tracks essentially everything that you want. You can track your calorie intake, record your fitness activities, and water consumption all at the palm of your hands. The great part is that the app syncs your progress so you can record your data on your phone or the website. With this app, you really can lose weight by tracking your eating habits and fitness activity over time. The feature I love the most is the app integration capabilities with other fitness apps, so your data is recorded in MyFitnessPal without having to manually record everything again. For iPhone users, you can also sync MyFitnessPal with Apple Health and track essentially everything.


1.       Daily Yoga
For those of you who love yoga, Daily Yoga is the app for you! This app is your on-the-go yoga trainer with the largest yoga pose database and step-by-step yoga exercises all aimed to help you burn fat, lose weight, and relieve stress. With Daily Yoga you can activate different training programs with scheduled sessions, different workout intensities, and various workout durations. You can also connect with other members using this app from their yoga community directly in the app, which is a great source for daily motivation. So find your inner yogi, grab your yoga mat, and work towards your goals!

Day 21: Achieve Your Dreams: Goal Setting
A better job. Getting in shape. Learning a new language. We all have goals we want to meet this new year but come March most of them are distant memories. Well this year’s going to be different…right?

This is the year you stick to your guns and create a better you. That’s why we’ve come up with some helpful tips to keep you motivated and on track to meet your goals this 2015.


Follow the leaders. Odds are someone has already achieved your goal. See if you can find out their process and any obstacles they had to overcome along the way. Why start from scratch when you have a world of information at your disposal? Read success stories of the people living your dream and learn from their mistakes and triumphs.

Get uncomfortable. Sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone is great way to get results. Switching up your workout routine, taking a public speaking class, or even learning new ways to network outside of your circle can help you develop new skills. A twist in your routine can be just what you need to see some big results.

Great expectations. Henry Ford famously said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.”  Confidence in yourself can help you move mountains. If you approach your goals with a lax attitude, you’re only setting yourself up for failure. Get in a good mindset toward finishing your goals for the best chance of success.

Go with the flow. The zone. Flow. Dialed in. Whatever you want to call it, when you’re completely and utterly immersed in a process you can reach a flow state. This is like being locked into a productive trance, and when you finally snap out of it, the work is finished and time seems to have disappeared. Just like Bruce Lee used to preach, you should “be like water” to overcome your obstacles.

Push it. Sometimes you just have to buckle down and get the work done even when you don’t want to. The excitement of having new goals has long worn off and all that’s left is the hard work. This is where you find out what you’re made of. Don’t let excuses take over for productivity. Fight through the tough days and you’ll thank yourself for it later.

Breaking Bad… habits. With so many distractions around us, it’s a surprise we get anything done at all. Binge-watching new shows on Netflix is almost certainly more exciting than completing self-improvement goals. But it also offers little reward for your time. Try to find a balance between work and play that allows you reach your goals and still leaves time to unwind.

This is the year to trade in the junk food and remote for something a little more challenging. And hopefully some of these tips will help you along the way. Just remember, the road to success isn’t easy…so try not to make it any harder than it needs to be. Good luck and have a safe and productive new year!

Day 22:  Apps for Organization and Productivity

By year’s end, most people have already started thinking about their resolutions and all they want to accomplish for the next year. I find it a challenge to stay organized, so I have made it one of my personal goals to get better at keeping track of appointments and managing my budget. I always seem to make a great start but by the time the end of year rolls around, I find myself struggling to remember everything I have to do.  If you're like me and always on the go, it helps to rely on the use of mobile apps to stay organized. There are numerous great apps designed for those of us with busy lifestyles who need help keeping track of it all. Here are a few of our favorites:

13 Useful Apps For Organization and Productivity (Download Free eBook)

Day 23: Songs that Will Put You in a Good Mood

A female perspective:
It was hard to narrow this list to only 10 because music is such a huge part of my life. I turn to music whether I am happy, sad, or just want an escape from everything going on in the outside world. While putting my list together, there were a few obvious choices. Others were not so easy. After careful consideration, here are the 10 songs that made the cut:

1. Happy – Pharrell Williams: It’s a bit predictable but the song lives up to its name for sure. With its sunny lyrics and infectious clap-along beat, it is one of those songs that can turn any bad mood into a good one instantaneously. Mission accomplished, Pharrell!

2. Eye of the Tiger – Survivor: Yo, Adrian! This song makes me feel like Rocky Balboa running up the 72 steps outside the entrance to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Every time I hear it, my adrenaline starts pumping and I feel like I can accomplish anything. If that isn’t the ultimate mood changer then I don’t know what is!

3. I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor: Girl. Power. Anthem. Enough said.

4. Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) – Kelly Clarkson: Another girl-power themed song, only a modern day version. I probably relate to the lyrics a little differently than intended, but it gives me a sense of empowerment nonetheless.

5. Dancing Queen – ABBA: I don’t know what it is about this song but it always manages to put me in a great mood. This 80’s classic is a must have on all of my playlists. I mean, who doesn’t want to get up and dance when they hear it? Especially at weddings. Just me? Okay then….

6. Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson f. Bruno Mars: A throwback to the old-school brand of James Brown funk, this chart topper succeeds at getting me to dance in my chair whenever I hear it. If you have not yet subjected yourself to this contagious, funktastic masterpiece, I suggest checking it out immediately. It’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face and a groove in your step!

7. We Will Rock You – Queen: This fist-pumping anthem helps me get through a tough workout. If I’m feeling sluggish, I’ll turn on this song to give me the burst of energy needed to push myself to keep going.

8. Ice Ice Baby – Vanilla Ice: “Alright, stop. Collaborate and listen.” No song list is complete without a little Vanilla Ice.

9. Friends in Low Places – Garth Brooks: My karaoke jam! Which is precisely why it made this list. It reminds me of a night of fun out with friends and never fails to bring me to my happy place.

10. Keep Your Head Up – Andy Grammer: Keep your head up, let your hair down, and don’t let life’s challenges get you down. The positive message of this song reminds us that everything is ultimately going to be okay.

A male perspective:
Set the tone for a new year with a couple feel-good songs from decades past. Here are ten “guy” songs to get your new year off to a happy start.

1. Friends in Low Places by Garth Brooks
A song about having fun with your rowdy friends is always good to lighten the mood. This monster 90’s hit is sure to get the glasses raised high and the whole room singing off-key.

2. One Love by Bob Marley
Just about any Bob Marley song can put you in a good mood. “One Love” is no different. Pleading for a day when the whole world can live together in harmony, Bob was optimistic about the future of humanity. And while we all wait for peace on earth, we have gems like these to paint the picture. 

3. My Way by Frank Sinatra
Hitting the scene 20 years before the Beatles landed on Ed Sullivan; Ol' Blue Eyes blew the bobby socks off teenage girls all across the nation. But this song about one man’s rocky journey through life is more for the grown-ups. My Way lets us know it’s all right to fall in life, just as long as you get up swinging. 

4. Sunday Morning Coming Down by Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash spent a good part of his life alone on the road and this song gives us a little peek into that world. This inspirational song reminds us even the greats, maybe even especially the greats, didn’t have it easy on their way to the top. It also condones drinking beer for breakfast. So there’s that too.

5. Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffett
Out of all the parrot-head party songs, this might be the most recognizable. Jimmy Buffett and his Coral Refers spread cheer all summer long with his tropical paradise themed tours and his enthusiasm for tequila-based cocktails.

6. Eye of the Tiger by Survivor
Nothing gets the blood flowing like watching Sylvester Stallone prepare for a fake fight. And “Eye of the Tiger” was the second perfect song for the soundtrack. Since Stallone couldn’t get the original song he wanted, Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust,” he had to settle with this one. Sometimes not getting what you want pays off.

7. Sunny by Bobby Hebb
After Bobby Hebb lost his brother the same day of the JFK assassination, he weathered the storm by writing this song in two days that followed. That’s the sad part. But the song that came out of it is about staying positive in dire situations, proving that the sun can shine again even after heavy storms.

8. I’m a Believer by The Monkees
Who cares if they didn’t write their own songs? Now-a-days, few artists do. So in a way they were pioneers. But The Monkees knew how to have a good time and they’ve got the songs to prove it.

9. Sitting on the Dock of the Bay by Otis Reading
When you think you have nothing to live for and nothing seems to go your way, pop on a little Otis Reading, and watch your troubles fade away.  At least that’s Otis reading cure for the blues with this timeless feel-good classic.

10. Cheers Theme
Sometimes you want to go…“Where everybody knows your name –dun-dun-dun-duh. And they’re always glad you--” You get the picture. Being one of the most watched sitcoms of all time, the cheers theme song is still strongly embedded in the head millions even today.  Probably not on many playlists but guaranteed to lift any mood.

There you have it. Ten songs, in no particular order, to get your new year started off right. Enjoy!

Day 24: Tips For Getting Your Life Organized

During the holiday season, it can be extremely challenging to stay on top of everything you need to do. For a lot of us, struggling to stay organized carries on throughout the rest of the year, too. We hope you enjoyed the eBook with a list of helpful apps for productivity and organization. Here are a few more ideas to help you start organizing your life today.

Download a complimentary 2015 calendar to help you keep track of your future events in the upcoming year.  

Happy Holidays from Allied Schools!  

Day 25: Friday Inspiration

As we finish 2014 and begin 2015, it’s good to remember the things that really matter in life like family, friends and the time we spend with loved ones. These are the things that are irreplaceable.

Happy Weekend!

Day 26: Pay It Forward

There's always room to give back. For Day 26 of our 30 Days to a New You series we encourage you to "Pay It Forward" this weekend.
Share with us what you did and leave a comment on our Facebook page. We'd love to hear about how you paid it forward.

Day 27: It's Never Too Late

We always look back and think about what could have been, what we could have done differently. Regret can sometimes be a difficult thing to live with. However it’s always important to remember that we don’t have to be a slave of our past. What matters is what we do now that will take us to where we want to go. Since we are living in now, it’s never too late to shape what happens later. And you can start today!

Day 28: Ways to Increase Happiness

Happiness has the ability to change our life for the better at any time. Science has proven you can increase your happiness exponentially by making small changes to your daily routine. By following these 10 simple steps, you should notice immediate results in your overall well being

Day 29: Try Something New

A whole new year is approaching, 365 days for us to shape and make the most of. What will you cross off your bucket list in 2015? Let’s face it, there is limited time and so much you may want to do and see. If you make a list or at least keep in mind some of the top things you’d like to experience for the year, you are probably more likely to complete them then if you didn’t even think about a list at all. To help you with some ideas, here are some suggestions for new things to try short term and long term. Hopefully they will inspire you to go out of your comfort zone and take a few risks. Trying something new can be more difficult for some than it is for others but we encourage it because it opens the door to new discoveries and likes that you may not have otherwise been aware of. As Benjamin Franklin would say, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained!”

10 New Things to Try – Short Term

1. Take a different route to work. 
2. Try a new restaurant or type of food.
3. Get a new haircut or try a new hairstyle. 

4. See a comedy show or play instead of a movie.
5. Try a new cocktail that you haven’t had before. 

6. Take an indoor rock climbing class. 
7. Add a new accessory or color that is missing from your wardrobe. 
8. Text, email or write someone whom you haven’t spoken to in over a year. 
9. Introduce yourself to someone you see often but don’t know personally. (i.e. at work, school, park, post office, store etc.) 
10.Take a class to learn a new skill.

10 New Things to Try – Long Term

1. Climb Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the contiguous US. 
2. Book a trip to somewhere in Southeast Asia. 
3. Try fresh durian, century egg, natto and vegemite
4. Go to an authentic Robata bar in Japan
5. Go to an Open Mic Freestyle night 

6. Go rafting on the Colorado River
7. Drive cross-country and stop along the way 

8. Run a marathon, half marathon, mud run, paint run, sweater run, or any other type of run
9. Forgive someone 

10.Fall in love (If you only do one thing in life, let this one be it.)

Day 30: Keeping Your New Year's Resolutions

It’s December 31st and we’re less than twenty-four hours away from a fresh, new calendar page. The New Year is a great time for self-reflection… What mistakes you made, what you did well, and perhaps what changes you’d like to make for the next year. Making the decision to change a habit is great, but how often have you made a New Year’s Resolution and actually stuck to it? Don’t feel guilty, because most people encounter the same difficulty this time of year. With the following few tips, we’re confident that 2015 will be your best year ever!

Step One: Decide
Don’t choose to make a lifestyle change because someone else told you to. Make a change because YOU have decided to. Taking a brief poll among the Allied Marketing Department, we found that most people’s New Year’s Resolutions relate to two main topics: Health and Finances. Let’s assume that your goal is to shed some unwanted pounds. Are you choosing to lose weight because you want to, or because someone told you to lose weight? Unless the choice is yours, you won’t have your own buy-in. You’ve got to own your goal, and you have to want to change more than others. This is a key first step in order to make any positive change in your life.

Step Two: Be S.M.A.R.T. about your goals
People generally quit attempting their goals if they get discouraged, overwhelmed, and hopeless. This is typically because people choose to be unrealistic about their own expectations. We aren’t encouraging you to sell yourself short. You should instead choose to make S.M.A.R.T goals:

S = Specific - Say your goal in the present tense: “I weigh 150 pounds” or “I save 10% of my paycheck” versus “I want to lose weight,” or “I want to save more money”.

M = Measurable – In order to achieve success and stay on track, you must be able to follow your progress. Detailing a measurable goal such as a specific weight you’d like to be at, body fat percentage, dress size, or dollar amount saved allows you to know exactly when you’ve hit your desired mark.

A = Attainable – Make your goals reachable. Be sure that you can create goals that you can actually attain, otherwise you’ll just quit on them! 

R = Realistic - If you’ve never saved $100 in a year, don’t make it a goal to save $10,000 in the same time period. You’d simply be setting yourself up for failure. Instead, start smaller and work your way up. Start by saving $25… Then make a new goal for $50… Then $75… and so on. The same goes for weight loss. If you’re fifty pounds overweight, make your initial goal to lose ten pounds. As you see results, you’ll gain momentum and will be excited about what it will feel like to keep going!

T = Timely – Author Harvey MacKay says “A dream is just a dream. A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline.” If you want to achieve a goal, you MUST attach a date to it! Compare the following two resolutions:
Plan A: My new year’s resolution is to lose weight in 2015!
Plan B: By June 30, 2015, I weigh 150 pounds with a blood pressure of 120/80 (and I feel fantastic!)

Which of these two would give you more direction? Obviously, Plan B is the one which would give you the most direction and focus. Assign a date to everything you want to accomplish, and you’ll see your success rate skyrocket!

Step Three: Hold Yourself Accountable
Want to ensure that you’ll stick to what you start? Tell somebody! Better yet, find someone you know that wants to accomplish some goals in the New Year and keep each other accountable. Simply knowing that someone else is going to call you once a week to check in on you could be enough leverage to make sure you’ll actually do what you say what you will. Want to head to the gym three times a week? Tell a friend to hold you to it. Do you want to find an accountability partner? There are many great online forums where you can find like-minded people that are probably seeking encouragement and accountability as well. Ask on Allied’s Facebook Page… Maybe one of your fellow students is seeking to be kept accountable!

Finally, keep your head up. We all stumble. Life can be tough sometimes, and you’ve got to give yourself grace for mistakes. Did you eat that donut when you swore you wouldn’t eat sweets on weekdays? Shake it off, and get back on track. Don’t allow minor setbacks to derail your goal. Instead, focus on those daily, weekly, and monthly steps which will ultimately allow you to hit your end goal. Thomas Edison said, “If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.” With that being said, let’s get to it! Tell us on Facebook what S.M.A.R.T. goals YOU are planning to achieve in 2015. We’ll be cheering you on!

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