10 Life Lessons I Learned In My 20s
At the time, I was aimless. I had just dropped out of music school and cut my long, tangly hair. I wanted to move out of Texas but didn’t know how or where. I would often lecture people about the spiritual growth of consciousness and had a number of half-baked ideas about the theory of relativity and whether the universe actually existed or not.
I was smart and audacious and arrogant and really annoying.
Three days from now, I will be turning 30 years old. I will be in Las Vegas and probably completely out of my mind when it happens. But I’m happy to report that I’m far more responsible and far less pretentious these days. I did finish school. And I then spent much of my 20s crashing on couches, failing with business ideas, and living in third-world countries. All in all, it’s turned out for well.
I’ve changed a lot in these 10 years. I don’t get arrested anymore and I don’t pee on people’s lawns anymore. I’ve built businesses, been around the world multiple times, and managed to create a career for myself as a writer — something I never could have predicted.
In our instant gratification culture, it’s easy to forget that most personal change does not occur as a single static event in time, but rather as a long, gradual evolution where we’re hardly aware of it as it’s happening. We rarely wake up one day and suddenly notice wild, life-altering changes in ourselves. No, our identities slowly shift, like sea sand getting pushed around by the ocean, slowly accumulating into new contours and forms over the passage of time.
It’s only when we stop years or decades later and look back that we can notice all of the dramatic changes that have taken place. My 20s certainly were dramatic. Here are some of the things I learned:
1. Fail early and often; time is your best asset.
When you are young, your greatest asset is not your talent, not your ideas, not your experience, but your time. Time grants you the opportunity to take big risks and make big mistakes. Dropping everything and traveling the world for six years or starting some company to build this crazy app you and your friends came up with when you got high one night, or randomly packing up all (four) of your belongings and moving to another city on a whim to work and live with your cousin, you can only get away with these things when you’re young, when you have nothing to lose.
The difference between an unemployed 22-year-old with debt and no serious work experience and an unemployed 25-year-old with debt and no work experience is basically negligible in the long run.
Chances are you aren’t strapped by all of the financial responsibilities that come with later adulthood: mortgage payments, car payments, daycare for your kids, life insurance and so on. This is the time in your life where you have the least amount to lose by taking some long-shot risks, so you should take them.
Because its the disastrous failures of these years — that crazy love affair with the Taiwanese dancer that made your mother lose her hair, or the entrepreneurial joint venture some guy in Starbucks talked you into that turned out to be an elaborate pyramid scheme — it’s these failures that will set you up for your life successes down the line. They are the best lessons of your life. Get learning.
2. You can’t force friendships.
There are two types of friends in life: the kind that when you go away for a long time and come back, it feels like nothing’s changed, and the kind that when you go away for a long time and come back, it feels like everything’s changed.
I’ve spent the majority of the last five years living in a number of different countries. Unfortunately, that means that I’ve left a lot of friends behind in various places. What I’ve discovered over this time is that you can’t force a friendship with someone. Either it’s there or it’s not, and whatever “it” is, is so ephemeral and magical that neither one of you could even name it if you tried to. You both just know.
What I’ve also found is that you can rarely predict which friends will stick with you and which ones won’t. I left Boston in the fall of 2009 and came back eight months later to spend the summer of 2010 there. Many of the people I was closest to when I left could hardly even be bothered to call me back when I returned. Yet, some of my more casual acquaintances slowly became the closest friends in my life. It’s not that those other people were bad people or bad friends. It’s nobody fault. It’s just life.
3. You’re not supposed to accomplish all of your goals.
Spending the first two decades of our life in school conditions us to have an intense results-oriented focus about everything. You set out to do X, Y or Z and either you accomplish them or you don’t. If you do, you’re great. If you don’t, you fail.
But in my 20s I’ve learned that life doesn’t actually work that way all the time. Sure, it’s nice to always have goals and have something to work towards, but I’ve found that actually attaining all of those goals is beside the point.
When I was 24, I sat down and wrote down a list of goals I wanted to accomplish by my 30th birthday. The goals were ambitious and I took this list very seriously, at least for the first few years. Today, I’ve accomplished about 1/3 of those goals. I’ve made significant progress on another 1/3. And I’ve basically done nothing about the last 1/3.
But I’m actually really happy about them. As I’ve grown, I’ve discovered that some of the life goals I set for myself were not things I actually wanted, and setting those goals taught me what was& not important to me in my life. With some other goals, while I didn’t attain them, the act of working towards them for the past six years has taught me so much that I’m still pleased with the outcome anyway.
I’m firmly convinced that the whole point of goals is 80 percent to get us off our asses and 20 percent to hit some arbitrary benchmark. The value in any endeavor almost always comes from the process of failing and trying, not in achieving.
4. No one actually knows what the hell they’re doing.
There’s a lot of pressure on kids in high school and college to know exactly what they’re doing with their lives. It starts with choosing and getting into a university. Then it becomes choosing a career and landing that first job. Then it becomes having a clear path to climb up that career ladder, getting as close to the top as possible. Then it’s getting married and having kids.
If at any point you don’t know what you’re doing or you get distracted or fail a few times, you’re made to feel as if you’re screwing up your entire life and you’re destined for a life of panhandling and drinking vodka on park benches at 8 a.m.
But the truth is, almost nobody has any idea what they’re doing in their 20s, and I’m fairly certain that continues further into adulthood. Everyone is just working off of their current best guess.
Out of the dozens of people I’ve kept in touch with from high school and college (and by “keep in touch” I really mean “stalked on Facebook”), I can’t think of more than a couple that have not changed jobs, careers, industry, families, sexual orientation or who their favorite Power Ranger is at least once in their 20s.
For example, good friend of mine was dead-set when he was 23 on climbing the corporate hierarchy in his industry. He had a big head-start and was already kicking ass and making good money. Last year, at age 28, he just went and bailed. Another friend of mine went from the Navy to selling surf equipment, to getting a master’s in education. Another friend of mine just picked up and took her career to Hong Kong. Another friend stopped working as an environmental scientist and is now a DJ.
I rarely had any clue what I was doing. I get emails all the time from people wanting to know how I built my business, when I decided to become a writer, what my initial business plan was. The truth is I never knew any of those things. They just happened. I paid attention to opportunities and acted on them. Most of those opportunities failed drastically. But I was young and could afford those failures. Eventually, I was fortunate enough to work my way to do something I liked and do it well.
5. Most people in the world basically want the same things.
In hindsight, I’ve had a pretty rollicking 20s. I started a business in a bizarre industry that took me to some interesting places and allowed me to meet interesting people. I’ve been all over the world, having spent time in over 50 countries. I’ve learned a few languages, and rubbed elbows with some of the rich and famous and the poor and downtrodden, in both the first and third worlds.
And what I’ve discovered is that from a broad perspective, people are basically the same. Everyone spends most of their time worrying about food, money, their job and their family — even people who are rich and well fed. Everyone wants to look cool and feel important — even people who are already cool and important. Everyone is proud of where they come from. Everyone has insecurities and anxieties that plague them, regardless of how successful they are. Everybody is afraid of failure and looking stupid. Everyone loves their friends and family yet also gets the most irritated by them.
Humans are, by and large, the same. It’s just the details that get shuffled around. This homeland for that homeland. This corrupt government for that corrupt government. This religion for that religion. This social practice for that social practice. Most of the differences that we hold to be so significant are accidental byproducts of geography and history. They’re superficial — merely different cultural flavors of the same overarching, candy-coated humanity.
I’ve learned to judge people not by who they are, but by what they do. Some of the kindest and most gracious people I’ve met were people who did not have to be kind or gracious to me. Some of the most obnoxious asshats have been people who had no business being obnoxious asshats to me. The world makes all kinds. And you don’t know who you’re dealing with until you spend enough time with a person to see what they do, not what they look like, or where they’re from or what gender they are or whatever.
6. The world doesn’t care about you.
The thought that is so frightening at first glance — “No one cares about me!?” — becomes so liberating when one actually processes its true meaning. As David Foster Wallace put it, “You’ll stop worrying what others think about you when you realize how seldom they do.”
You, me, and everything we do, will one day be forgotten. It will be as if we never existed, even though we did. Nobody will care. Just like right now, almost nobody cares what you actually say or do with your life.
And this is actually really good news: it means you can get away with a lot of stupid shit and people will forget and forgive you for it. It means that there’s absolutely no reason to not be the person that you want to be. The pain of un-inhibiting yourself with be fleeting and the reward will last a lifetime.
7. Pop culture is full of extremes; practice moderation.
My life immediately got about 542 percent better when I realized that the information you consume online is predominantly made up of the 5 percent of each extreme view and that 90 percent of life actually occurs in the silent middle-ground where most of the population actually lives.
If one reads the internet enough, one is liable to start thinking that World War III is imminent, that corporations rule the world through some conspiracy, that all men are rapists (or at the very least, complicit in rape), that all women are lying, hyper-glamorous whores, that white people are victims of reverse racism, that there’s a war on Christmas, that all poor people are lazy and destroying the government, and on and on.
It’s important to sometimes retreat to that quiet 90 percent and remind oneself: life is simple, people are good, and the chasms that appear to separate us are often just cracks.
8. The sum of the little things matter much more than the big things.
I remember reading an interview of Dustin Moskovitz, the co-founder of Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg’s college roommate. The interviewer asked Dustin what it felt like to be part of Facebook’s “overnight success.” His answer was something like this, “If by ‘overnight success’ you mean staying up and coding all night, every night for six years straight, then it felt really tiring and stressful.”
We have a propensity to assume things just happen as they are. As outside observers, we tend to only see the result of things and not the arduous process (and all of the failures) that went into producing the result. I think when we’re young, we have this idea that we have to do just this one big thing that is going to completely change the world, top to bottom.
We dream so big because we don’t yet realize — we’re too young to realize — that those “one big things” are actually comprised of hundreds and thousands of daily small things that must be silently and unceremoniously maintained over long periods of time with little fanfare. Welcome to life.
9. The world is not a scary place out to get you.
This gets said all the time, but it’s basically true. I’ve been to a fair amount of dangerous sh– holes both inside and outside the U.S. And when given the opportunity, the majority of people are kind and helpful. If there’s one piece of practical advice I would give every 20-year-old, regardless of circumstance, it is this: find a way to travel, and when in doubt, talk to people, ask them about themselves, get to know them. There’s little to no downside and huge, major upsides, especially when you’re still young and impressionable.
10. Your parents are people, too.
And finally, perhaps the most disillusioning realization of your 20s: seeing mom and dad not as the all-knowing protectors like you did as a child, and not as the obnoxious and totally uncool authoritarians like you did as a teenager, but as peers, as just two flawed, vulnerable, struggling people doing their best despite often not knowing what the hell they’re doing (see number 5).
Chances are your parents screwed some things up during your childhood. Pretty much all of them do (as my mom always likes to say, “Kids aren’t born with instruction manuals.”) And chances are, you will start to notice all of these screw-ups while you are in your 20s. Growing up and maturing to the extent that one can recognize this is always a painful process. It can kick up a lot of bitterness and regret.
But perhaps the first duty of adulthood — true adulthood, not just taxed adulthood — is the acknowledgment, acceptance, and (perhaps) forgiveness of one’s parents’ flaws. They’re people too. They’re doing their best, even though they don’t always know what the best is.
Posted on Monday, March 10th 2014
Things You Need To Know About CrossFit
I don’t pretend to be the final word on CrossFit, but after doing it for a year and a half at one location, and having tried out three other locations on various trips, I have a strong understanding for what CrossFit offers.
I won’t say it’s for everyone, but if you’re a BroBible reader, I will venture that it’s probably for you, so pay attention.
1. Group classes are better than solo workouts
Notice I said group classes, and didn’t specify CrossFit—maybe Zumba or Spinning classes are more your speed. If so, go for it. Ten bucks says you’ll feel less ridiculous doing Zumba or Spinning in a group class anyway.
But if you belong to a gym and find yourself going there to run on a treadmill and lift weights by yourself, it’s time you think about joining a CrossFit gym. Here’s why: Unless you’re part of that extreme minority who can consistently push themselves without outside motivation, you’re not going to see results working out by yourself. Slightly more muscle in your shoulders, maybe somewhat better definition in your triceps—fine, you might notice moderate improvement. But starting CrossFit, and by extension starting to work out in group classes will result in dramaticimprovements. You’ll make friends, enjoy working out more, want to come back more frequently, become competitive with yourself and those around you, and, as a result of all those things, workout harder. Try it out—many CrossFit locations offer a free trial class.
2. CrossFit is more expensive than being part of a gym—sort of
This is a hard subject to talk about accurately, since prices for both regular gyms and CrossFit gyms can vary significantly depending on location, but it’s something often mentioned as a negative about CrossFit, so I’ll address it. Let’s put it this way: While talking accurately about prices is difficult, it is safe to say that CrossFit will be somewhat more expensive than belonging to a regular gym. But that discounts what CrossFit offers in addition: expert instruction from trainers, a ready-made group of people who share at least one interest with you, and those trainers and members taking a vested interest in seeing you get healthier, seeing that you get stronger. So sure, at face value, CrossFit is more expensive, but I see it this way: Spending my money at a regular gym every month would be a waste of my time and money, because I wouldn’t have the trainers to advise me, I wouldn’t have the group classes to motivate me, I wouldn’t want to go as often, and I wouldn’t end up seeing tangible, meaningful improvements—and isn’t that the goal?
3. Competitiveness can be your friend–or your enemy
Before you go thinking I’m another member of Cult CrossFit drinking the Kool-Aid, let me address a serious (potential) downside. While the group class format is great, it can result in competitive, inexperienced members pushing themselves too hard and getting injured. A competitive guy myself, I quickly learned after a few pulled hamstrings early on that I needed to pay more attention to my body’s signals and decrease the load. It’s not the trainer’s job to hold you back—it’s yours, and that can be too much of a burden for an inexperienced and overly eager athlete to bear. If this sounds like you, proceed with caution, in CrossFit and in life.
4. A warning
Upon starting CrossFit, you’re starting, at least according to some, a new sport. The girl and guy winners of the yearly CrossFit Games—yeah, they’re dubbed the “Fittest on Earth.” You don’t have to subscribe to that belief—that they’re the fittest or that it’s a sport—but be ready for people who do, and who will aggressively argue that over a Progenex Recovery protein shake after class.
5. CrossFit makes you goal-oriented
In another way, the CrossFit Games is a blessing, regardless of whether or not you believe what’s said about the winners. Why? Because it’s an early iteration that’s open to anyone—the CrossFit Open—gives you something to work towards every year, a bench mark by which you can measure your improvements. This year, several hundred thousand people are participating worldwide, and I’ll get to see how I fare against them as we compete in five different workouts over five weeks.
6. Mobility matters
You’d think a guy with a yoga teacher for a mother would have known this. Whoops. Instead, it took about a year of CrossFit for me to recognize the importance of stretching and flexibility. When I started, I hit personal records for lifts almost every other week, since I hadn’t lifted seriously before starting. But once I plateaued in my lifts after about a year, the trainers at my gym emphasized that recording new personal records would require greater mobility in various joints and muscles. So I set to work, stretching every day for a half hour before and after class. Two things happened: First, I did indeed notice improvements in my lifts, as promised. And second, I noticed that I stopped having injuries all together. Duh, everyone tells you growing up that stretching is an important part of avoiding injury, but it never really clicked how important it was until I made it a priority.
7. Community counts
In a society where online dating is the norm because it’s so hard to meet people, CrossFit provides a ready-made community of people who share your interest in fitness. Through classes, bit-by-bit, you get to know the people at your gym—that’s not to say you’ll get along with or befriend everyone, but chances are you’ll find a group you like. Pretty soon, you’ll find yourself meeting up with people outside of the gym, organizing parties with CrossFit friends, and becoming more and more invested in your gym. This is where the accusation that CrossFit is a “cult” enters the conversation, but that’s a misnomer. To call something a cult implies that deception is used to dupe a group of people into following a cause. CrossFit is just the opposite; people are educated in Olympic lifts, gymnastics, aerobics, and plyometrics with the goal of bettering themselves. The fact that so many people become dedicated to their CrossFit gyms is merely a result of enjoying that education and the benefits that follow.
Posted on Thursday, March 6th 2014
10 Signs You’re In The Wrong Relationship
Let’s face it: When we’re newly coupled up, we tend to look at our partner — and the budding relationship itself — through a pair of proverbial rose-colored glasses.
Any flaws we detect in our partner are all too easily written off: He shies away from introducing you to his immediate family? It will happen when it happens. She has a tendency to leave dirty dishes and shoes scattered around the house? You’re neat and orderly enough for the both of you.
But once you get real about your relationship and consider it for all that it is — and all that it isn’t – there are some issues that are just too serious to overlook. Below, dating and marriage experts weigh in with 10 red flags they say should be cause for concern in any relationship.
1. You feel the need to change who you are to make your partner happy.
We all change a bit when we’re exposed to a new partner and their individual tastes — you binge-watch an entire season of “House of Cards” because your boyfriend loves it or attempt to go vegetarian for a few months because your girlfriend has been one for years (keyword: attempt). It only becomes a real issue when you feel the need to change who you are at your core to satisfy your partner, says licensed marriage and family therapist Virginia Gilbert.
“It’s a definite problem when you find yourself molding your values, opinions and even your clothing style to suit your partner,” Gilbert says. “If you edit what you say before you say it and constantly monitor how you come across because you feel like your partner is grading you, it might be time to let the relationship go.”
2. You have to defend your significant other to family and friends.
Not everyone is going to like your boyfriend or girlfriend as much as you do. But itshould worry you if there’s a general consensus among family and friends that your new love is entirely wrong for you, says M. Gary Neuman, a licensed psychotherapist and author of The Truth About Cheating: Why Men Stray and What You Can Do to Prevent It.
“When all your friends and family are uncomfortable with the relationship, it’s time to take a good look at it,” he recommends. “If you find yourself isolated from loved ones and telling yourself they just don’t know your significant other the way you do, chances are this won’t end well.”
3. Nitpicking and criticism — even if said in jest — are constants in the relationship.
He finds your hourly texts really overbearing — and tells you so repeatedly. She jokingly compares her Ivy League education to the one you received at a state school, but always in a dismissive tone. If your partner’s overly critical eye is starting to affect your self-esteem, it’s time to speak up or jump ship, says relationship expert Tina Swithin.
“The criticism can even be subtle comparison put-downs, which can be delivered in a casual, passive aggressive way,” she says. “Those still can chip away at your confidence, and in the end, healthy relationships should lift you up, not bring you down.”
4. You’re always wondering what your partner is up to when you’re not around.
What Elvis sang about suspicious minds is true: You and your S.O. can’t go on together as long as you have doubts about what he or she is up to when you’re not there.
Dating coach Marina Sbrochi agrees, offering up an example to illustrate the point: “Maybe your new girlfriend keeps her phone on silent. All the time. Add that to the fact that she can only go out a couple of times a week and she prefers to text,” she says. “Knock, knock! You aren’t an investigative reporter, but you know when something smells fishy. If two plus two doesn’t add up to four, it’s time to part ways and look for a relationship that doesn’t seem like a game of Clue.”
5. Your partner makes all of the big relationship decisions.
You only get together when it’s convenient for your boyfriend and only hang out with his family and friends. You’ve been to all of your girlfriend’s work functions and friends’ parties, but have stopped inviting her to any social gathering you attend — she’s made it crystal clear she’s not interested.
Sound familiar? If your partner is calling all the shots and “you’re just following their lead, desperate for a few crumbs,” it might be time to reevaluate the relationship, Gilbert warns.
6. Your sex life is seriously lacking.
A relationship shouldn’t be all about the sex, but it needs to be somewhat about the sex, according to Sbrochi.
“If you feel like this person has all the other qualities you desire in a mate, see a sex therapist. Try some new tricks and see if you can make manufacture some chemistry,” she suggests. “Trust me, you need a sexual connection for a long-lasting relationship. You have plenty of friends, you don’t need another friend. It’s time to look for love and sex in one package.”
7. You want more “me” time — but your partner wants more “we” time.
You’re dying for some time to yourself. Meanwhile, your boyfriend is complaining about how little you see of each other. “In other words, the frequency of connecting is either too high or too low, whether it be texting, calling, or seeing each other in person,” marriage and family therapist Jane Greer explains. It’s a problem if “an amount that is mutually comfortable for both of you is never found.”
8. You feel personally responsible for your partner’s happiness.
Heed your inner red flags as soon as you start to feel like your partner relies on you — and only you — to keep them emotionally balanced, Gilbert says.
“Whether your partner is in a pit of despair or erupting in anger, he or she makes you feel that you are somehow to blame, and it’s your job to change whatever it is that you have done or said to make them feel bad,” she says. “Whatever you do or say to remedy the situation is inevitably wrong and makes your partner feel worse, which is, of course, your fault. You are always on eggshells and you feel the walls closing in on you. This kind of relationship is poison; get out ASAP.”
9. Your partner controls who you see and what you do.
This might be the biggest red flag of all, Swithin says. “If you find that your partner is controlling your time with friends or family, your finances, clothing choices or how much makeup you wear, this is something to take very seriously.”
10. You find yourself wondering if you’re in the wrong relationship.
It may sound painfully obvious, but your tendency to quiet those relationship doubts may end up being a huge regret later on, says Sbrochi. “So many times we look back on a bad relationship and only in hindsight can we really see the signs for what they really were,” she says. “But if you really think about it, you knew the whole time, you just wanted to ignore it for whatever reason. ”
Instead, be more proactive about your relationship concerns and address them with your partner — or move on before you get hurt. “Make a mental note of whatever is bothering you,” Sbrochi says. “If it happens again or you feel your inner warning lights going off (even if they are going off softly), it’s time to take a step back.”
Posted on Thursday, March 6th 2014
The 11 Most Nutrient Dense Foods
There is only a limited amount of food you can eat in a single day. In order to maximize the amount of nutrients you take in, it makes sense to spend your “calorie budget” wisely.
The best way to do that is to simply eat the foods that carry the greatest amount and variety of nutrients. These are the 11 most nutrient dense foods on the planet.
Not all fish is created equal. Salmon, and other fatty types of fish, contain the greatest amount of Omega-3s.
Omega-3 fatty acids are extremely important for the optimal function of your body. They’re linked to improved wellbeing and a lower risk of many serious diseases (1). Although salmon is mainly prized for its beneficial composition of fatty acids, it also packs a massive amount of other nutrients.
A 100 gram piece of wild salmon contains 2.8 grams of Omega-3s, along with lots of high quality animal protein and a ton of vitamins and minerals… including large amounts of Magnesium, Potassium, Selenium and all the B-vitamins (2). It is a good idea to eat fatty fish at least once or twice a week, to get all the Omega-3s that your body (and brain) desperately need.
Studies show that the people who eat fatty fish regularly have a lower risk of heart disease, dementia, depression and a plethora of common diseases (3, 4, 5, 6). Also, let’s not forget the fact that salmon tastes awesome and is fairly simple to prepare. It also tends to make you feel full with relatively few calories.
If you can, choose wild salmon instead of farmed. It is more nutritious, has a betterOmega-6:Omega-3 ratio and is less likely to contain harmful compounds (7, 8).
Bottom Line: Fatty fish like salmon is loaded with beneficial fatty acids, protein, vitamins and minerals. It is a good idea to eat fatty fish every week.
Of all the super healthy leafy greens, kale is the king. It is loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and various bioactive compounds.
A 100 gram portion of kale contains (9):
200% of the RDA for Vitamin C.
300% of the RDA for Vitamin A (from beta-carotene).
1000% of the RDA for Vitamin K1.
Large amounts of Vitamin B6, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Copper and Manganese.
This is coming with 2 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein and only 50 calories. Kale may be even healthier than spinach. Both are super nutritious, but kale is lower in oxalates, which are substances that can bind minerals like calcium in the intestine, preventing them from being absorbed (10).
Kale (and other greens) are also loaded with various bioactive compounds, including Isothiocyanates and Indole-3-Carbinol, which have been shown to fight cancer in test tubes and animal studies (11, 12).
Bottom Line: Kale is one of the most nutrient dense vegetables you can eat, with large amounts of vitamins, minerals and cancer-fighting compounds.
The sea has more than just fish… it also contains massive amounts of vegetation.
Usually referred to as “seaweed,” there are thousands of different plant species in the ocean, some of which are incredibly nutritious (13).
In many cases, seaweed is even more nutritious than vegetables from the land. It is particularly high in minerals like Calcium, Iron, Magnesium and Manganese (14). It is also loaded with various bioactive compounds, including phycocyanins and carotenoids. Some of these substances are antioxidants with powerful anti-inflammatory activity (15).
But where seaweed really shines is in its high content of iodine, a mineral that is used to make thyroid hormones. Just eating a high-iodine seaweed like kelp a few times per month can give your body all the iodine that it needs.
If you don’t like the thought of eating seaweed, then you can also get it as a supplement. Dried kelp tablets are very cheap and loaded with iodine. Many sushi dishes also include seaweed in them, along with other goodies.
Bottom Line: The vegetables from the sea are highly nutritious, but very rarely consumed in Western parts of the world. They are particularly high in iodine, which is essential for optimal thyroid function.
Garlic really is an amazing ingredient. Not only can it turn all sorts of bland dishes into delicious treats, it is also incredibly nutritious.
It is high in vitamins C, B1 and B6, Calcium, Potassium, Copper, Manganese and Selenium (16). But garlic is also loaded with another incredibly important nutrient called Allicin, which is the active ingredient in garlic.
There are many studies on the health benefits of allicin and garlic. It has been shown to lower blood pressure and total and LDL cholesterol, while raising HDL… which should lead to a reduced risk of heart disease down the line (17, 18, 19, 20).
It also has various cancer-fighting properties. Studies show that the people who eat a lot of garlic have a much lower risk of several common cancers, especially cancers of the colon and stomach (21, 22). Garlic is also very potent at killing pathogens like bacteria and fungi (23, 24).
Bottom Line: Garlic is both tasty and extremely healthy. It is highly nutritious and the bioactive compounds in it have known disease fighting properties.
Out of all the wonderfully nutritious organisms found in the sea, shellfish may be the most nutritious of all. Commonly consumed types of shellfish include clams, oysters and various others.
Clams are among the best sources of vitamin B12 in existence, with a 100 grams of clams supplying over 16 times the RDA! It is also loaded with other nutrients, including Vitamin C, B-Vitamins, Potassium, Selenium and Iron (25).
Oysters are also incredibly nutritious… with a 100 grams supplying 6 times the RDA for Zinc, 2 times the RDA for Copper, along with large amounts of B12 and Vitamin D – along with a plethora of other nutrients (26). Really, shellfish are among the most nutritious foods in existence. Unfortunately, people rarely consume them.
They may also be considered a great food for people who want to be as close to vegetarian/vegan as possible, while also getting most of the benefits of consuming animal foods. Shellfish is non-sentient.
Bottom Line: Shellfish are among the most nutritious organisms found in the sea. They are very high in important nutrients like Vitamin B12 and Zinc.
If there’s one high-carb food that I miss on my low-carb diet, it’s potatoes.
A single large potato contains lots of Potassium, Magnesium, Iron, Copper and Manganese… with plenty of vitamin C and most of the B vitamins (27). Potatoes really are one of the world’s most perfect foods.
They contain a little bit of almost every nutrient we need and there have been accounts of people living onnothing but potatoes for a long time. They are also one of the most fulfilling foods in existence. When researchers compared the “satiety value” of different foods, boiled potatoes scored higher than any other food they measured (28).
If you cook the potatoes and then allow them to cool afterwards, they also form large amounts of resistant starch, a fiber-like substance with many powerful health benefits (29).
Bottom Line: Potatoes contain a little bit of almost every nutrient we need. They are incredibly fulfilling and can contain large amounts of resistant starch.
Humans and pre-humans have been eating animals formillions of years. However… back in the day, we didn’t just eat the muscles like we do today. Compared to the organs, muscle meat is nutritionally poor.
There are even accounts of modern hunter-gatherers selectively eating the organs, then feeding lean muscle meat to the dogs. Out of all the organs, liver is by far the most nutritious.
The liver is a remarkable organ with hundreds of functions related to metabolism. One of its functions is to store important nutrients for the rest of the body.
A 100 gram portion of beef liver contains (30):
1176% of the RDA for Vitamin B12.
Over 50% of the RDA for Vitamins B6, B5, Niacin and Folate.
201% of the RDA for Vitamin B2.
634% of the RDA for Vitamin A.
714% of the RDA for Copper.
Over 30% of the RDA for Iron, Phosphorus, Zinc and Selenium.
29 grams of high quality animal protein.
Eating liver once per week is a good way to ensure that you get optimal amounts of these very important nutrients.
Bottom Line: Hunter-gatherers who eat meat usually prize organs like liver, because they are the most nutritious parts of the animal.
Sardines are small, oily fish that are usually eaten whole. This includes bones, skin, organs, brains and everything.
Given that the organs are usually the most nutritious parts of an animal, it is not surprising to see that whole sardines are incredibly nutritious. They contain a little bit of almost every nutrient that the body needs and are pretty close to being perfect from a nutritional standpoint (31).
Like other fatty fish, they’re also very high in heart-healthy Omega-3s.
Bottom Line: Small, oily fish like sardines are usually eaten whole, which includes the organs, bones, brains and other nutritious parts. They contain a little bit of almost every nutrient we need.
When it comes to the nutritional value of fruits, blueberries are in a league of their own.
Although they’re not as high in vitamins and minerals as vegetables (calorie for calorie), the antioxidant content is where they really shine. They are loaded with powerful antioxidant substances, including anthocyanins and various phytochemicals, some of which can cross the blood-brain barrier and exert protective effects on the brain (32).
Several studies have examined the health effects of blueberries in humans. One study found that blueberries improved memory in older adults (33).
Another study found that obese men and women with metabolic syndrome had a lowered blood pressure and reduced markers of oxidized LDL cholesterol, when they added blueberries to their diet (34). This finding makes sense, given that eating blueberries has been shown to increase the antioxidant value of the blood (35).
Then multiple studies in test tubes and experimental animals suggest that blueberries can help fight cancer (36, 37, 38).
Bottom Line: Blueberries are very nutritious compared to most fruits and are loaded with powerful antioxidants, some of which can increase the antioxidant value of the blood and have protective effects on the brain.
10. Egg Yolks
Egg yolks have been unfairly demonized because of their cholesterol content. But the studies actually show that dietary cholesterol isn’t something you need to worry about, because cholesterol in the diet doesn’t raise the “bad” cholesterol in the blood (39).
What we’re left with is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Whole eggs are so nutritious that they’re often referred to as “nature’s multivitamin.” Egg yolks are loaded with vitamins, minerals and various powerful nutrients (40).
They’re high in Lutein and Zeaxanthine, antioxidants that can protect the eyes and reduce your risk of eye diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration (41). Eggs are also loaded with choline, a brain nutrient that about 90% of people aren’t getting enough of (42).
Eggs also contain high quality protein and healthy fats. Several studies suggest that they can help you lose weight (43, 44). Really… whole eggs are an amazing food. The yolk is where almost all the nutrients are found, throwing it away is the absolute worst thing you can do.
Also let’s not forget that eggs are cheap, taste amazing and are super easy to prepare. If you can, get pastured and/or Omega-3 enriched eggs. They’re healthier and more nutritious than most “conventional” supermarket eggs (45, 46).
Bottom Line: Whole eggs are so nutritious that they’re often called “nature’s multivitamin.” The yolk is where almost all of the nutrients are found, just eating the whites is a terrible idea.
11. Dark Chocolate (Cocoa)
Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. It is loaded with fiber, iron, magnesium, copper and manganese (47).
But the biggest factor is its amazing range of antioxidants. In fact, a study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate scored higher than any other food they tested, which included blueberries and acai berries (48).
There are multiple studies in humans showing that dark chocolate has powerful health benefits… including improved blood flow, a lower blood pressure, reduced oxidized LDL and improved brain function (49, 50, 51, 52).
One study found that people who consumed chocolate 5+ times per week had a 57% lower risk of heart disease (53). Given that heart disease is the most common cause of death in the world, this finding could have implications for millions of people.
Make sure to get dark chocolate with a 70% cocoa content, at least. The best ones contain 85% cocoa or higher. Eating a small square of quality dark chocolate every day may be one of the best ways to “supplement” your diet with additional antioxidants.
12. Anything Else?
What are your favorite super nutritious foods?
Feel free to add to the list in the comments!
Posted on Wednesday, March 5th 2014
The 10 Best Things About Divorce
I don’t know a single person who has gone through a divorce and thought it pleasurable. Divorce is tough, ugly, and acrimonious — it pretty much sucks. But if you look closely enough, I’ll bet you can find many great things that emerged from your divorce. I know I can. And when I think about it and remind myself of the positives, thriving from my divorce seems a more accurate description of my experience (sort of). Hey, at least I learned to laugh again and have fun!
So I picked my ten favorite things about my divorce. It actually wasn’t that hard. Consider making your own list.
1. It ended.
Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” This quote ran through my mind countless times during my marriage. In fact, I once posted it on my Facebook page. None of my friends really knew what I meant by it (I hid the abuse going on in my home from almost everyone), but I did. I was living in hell and I knew I needed to keep moving or I would stay right there. It’s been a tough battle to finalize the divorce but at least it’s over. I no longer need to live in a constant battle zone.
2. The whole bed is mine.
When my husband and I split, I spent several nights sleeping nearly sidewise on the bed. I wanted the whole dang thing to myself and it felt fabulous. No more sharing. It was all mine, mine, MINE. It was symbolically powerful.
3. Purging the ugly stuff.
I got to get rid of all the stuff I hated. Like the ugly framed print that was hanging in the loft. And the tacky Christmas ornaments? They’ll never hang on my tree again. No more doing his laundry and putting away his work pants that were always too short and wrinkled because I refused to iron them anymore and he was too lazy to do it. His ugly brown leather couch? Gone. Everything I own now is clean, fresh and pretty. It doesn’t look or smell like him. I love it.
4. No more fighting or compromising.
All of a sudden, instead of fighting over everything from vacation plans to walking the dogs, it was done. Bed times, cleanliness, vacations, food in the fridge, noise levels — my home, my way. What a nice switch.
My marriage was extremely high conflict. I literally never knew from one moment to the next if a huge argument would erupt in a haze of too much alcohol. It was unimaginable hell. When we separated, the realization that I no longer had to walk on eggshells was exhilarating. At times, I was almost giddy. While the divorce got ugly, at least he couldn’t scream in my face anymore. It meant everything.
6. Living in truth.
Oftentimes we hide the nature of our marriages from others. At least that was true for me. Most everyone my husband and I knew thought we were a happy couple. I hid our reality in shame and embarrassment. It was exhausting. When we split, it was a relief to live in truth. I no longer had to pretend to be something I wasn’t. I decided to open my life and blog. Everything is now out there for anyone to read. This approach isn’t for everyone but it works for me.
7. Emotional healing.
After my marriage ended, the healing began and it was high time that it did. I’ll never be completely healed. But I’ve survived it and I’m doing really well. Had I stayed married, I’d still be sustaining more wounds. Lots of retail therapy, self-help books and vacations helped, as did meditation and the love of family and friends. I had really bad days but it got better and better. The important thing was to be nice and forgiving of myself and to give it time. They say that time heals all wounds. It’s true.
8. Physical strength.
In addition to my emotional well-being, I started working on building up my physical strength too. That meant a new workout routine and a new pledge to eat healthier and take my vitamins. In the initial aftermath of my split, I could hardly eat because of the stress. I dropped a lot of weight (which was kind of cool). But once I started eating again, I used it as a starting point for changing up my whole look — clothes, hair, makeup. A whole new me. Stronger and better. More resilient, tough, and fearless.
9. Rediscovering what passion meant.
When I was married, I was watching a TV show of two teens who were madly crushing on each other. Finally they connected and shared their first kiss. I started sobbing. I wanted to feel that excitement and I didn’t think it would ever happen for me again. I was married and I didn’t like my husband very much — I was stuck, stuck, stuck. Fast forward to the new single me. When I was ready, I started dating again. I finally met a guy I really liked and when we kissed for the first time, I felt like the teens on the TV show. I got the butterflies and fireworks!
10. Bonding with my girls.
Divorce was hard on my two daughters, but we emerged from the divorce experience with a closer relationship than ever. We cried together. We hugged a lot. I allowed them to be angry and talk it through. I was as close to them as they let me, but I gave them space when they asked for it, too. On weekends, I implemented mommy-daughter slumber parties where we watched movies until late at night and slept together in my bed. No doubt that the transition wasn’t easy but we did the best we could. At least they aren’t being raised in an abusive environment anymore and in the long run, the divorce is far better for them and they know it.
I feel a bit like the phoenix who has emerged from the ashes. A little tarnished and imperfect, but a survivor nonetheless.
Posted on Thursday, February 27th 2014
Hundreds Of New Planets Discovered
A huge new haul of planets has joined the tally of alien worlds discovered by NASA’sKepler space telescope, scientists announced today. All of the new planets are members of multiplanet systems—stars with more than one orbiting satellite. Researchers used a new method for weeding out false signals from among the candidate planets found by Kepler, allowing them to add hundreds of “validated” planets to the count of Kepler’s finds. “We studied just over 1,200 systems, and from there we were able to validate 719 planets,” says Jason Rowe of NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., who led the research. “This is the biggest haul ever.”
Kepler launched in 2009 and stopped taking data last year after two of its stabilizingreaction wheels failed. Its relatively short lifetime, however, has already offered up a wealth of discovery, including more than 3,500 planetary candidates as well as 246 worlds confirmed by follow-up observations. The new harvest brings its tally of true planets to over 1,000.
Kepler searches for planets by measuring stellar brightness dips caused when a planet passes in front of a star, briefly dimming the star’s light. This technique, called the transiting method, is more than 90 percent accurate, but sometimes a nonplanet can fool the telescope. One of the most common reasons for a “false positive” is an eclipsing binary—a pair of orbiting stars that sometimes cross in front of one another from our perspective—lying along the same line of sight as the foreground star Kepler is studying. Eclipsing binaries dim when one star passes in front of the other, mimicking the dimming effect a planet would have.
Stars with a single planet can be hard to distinguish from eclipsing binaries. But multiplanet systems are far less likely to be frauds. “It happens, but it’s unlikely that you have two eclipsing binaries in the background of the same star,” says Francois Fressin of the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) in Cambridge, Mass., who was not involved in the study. “That simple fact tremendously increases the odds that they are bona fide planets.” It is also possible to have an eclipsing binary and a star with a planet lying right on top of one another, albeit extremely unlikely. “Based on that argument we started to get into the statistics to see if we can quantify that and see how many we can pull out and say with very good confidence they are validated planets,” Rowe says.
About 20 percent of the candidate planets Kepler finds inhabit systems with multiple worlds. Among this group, Rowe and his colleagues tried to weed out the small number that were likely to be false signals by examining the light signature of the candidate planets. The light from a single planetary system would be centered on one point, the parent star. An eclipsing binary in the background, however, would probably not lie exactly behind the main star, but would be offset by a small distance. When this binary blinks out as one star crosses the other, the center of the light in the field of view should shift over to the side, creating a signature called a moving centroid. “The moving centroids are the ones where we’re fairly sure they are false positives, and then we have a subset, the majority of them, that we are very confident are planetary systems and show no sign of blends,” Rowe says.
The idea that multiplanet systems are easier to validate is not new, and researchers have previously studied how to winnow out the small number of false positives. “I made this argument [in 2011] but now it has been worked out in careful detail,” says David Latham of the CfA. “Jason has done a really nice job.”
The new cache of planets is extremely unlikely to harbor imposters, but they are not “confirmed planets,” in the traditional sense. That requires measuring the parent star’s motion to determine how much the planets’ gravitational tugging causes it to wobble, revealing the planets’ mass. “Even though we can be very confident that these objects are real planets, the only information we have right now on their physical properties is their size (radius) and expected equilibrium temperature (which depends on the distance to their parent star, which is known),” says Guillermo Torres of the CfA.
Among the new trove of planets: a small, potentially rocky world; an odd binary star system where each star has planets of its own; and cramped systems where the multiple planets are each gravitationally tugging one another around. “Of course we have every type of planetary system in our validated set that people can think of, except the perfect Earth analogue,” Rowe says. For now, that remains Kepler’s holy grail.
Posted on Wednesday, February 26th 2014
Why Humans Evolved Dark Skin
Skin cancer could have directly driven the evolution of dark skin in humans, a study on people with albinism in modern Africa suggests.
Albinism is an inherited disorder that prevents people from making melanin, a black or brown pigment. Albino people in sub-Saharan Africa almost universally die of skin cancer — and at young ages, according to a new paper published today (Feb. 25) in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
These modern tragedies point to a potential reason early humans evolved dark skin, said Mel Greaves, a cell biologist at the Institute of Cancer Research in the United Kingdom. [Can People Have Blue Skin?]
“Cancer has been dismissed by effectively all scientists in the past” as the reason for the evolution of black skin, Greaves told Live Science. “They did so believing that skin cancer cannot be a selective force acting on survival and reproductive success, because in present-day white-skinned people, it is usually benign or impacts too late in life.”
Color and cancer
There’s no doubt that dark skin protects people from the sun. Individuals with white skin are far more susceptible to skin cancer than are people with dark skin. Exact skin tone makes a difference, but in general, African America skin has a sun protection factor of 13.4, compared with 3.4 in white skin, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. [Fiery Folklore: 5 Dazzling Sun Myths]
When the first hominins (human ancestors) began hunting and gathering on the open savannah, they lost their body hair, likely to keep cool amid the strenuous exercise of their lifestyle. These early humans probably had pale skin, much like humans’ closest living relative, the chimpanzee, which is white under its fur. Around 1.2 million to 1.8 million years ago, earlyHomo sapiens evolved dark skin. But evolutionary biologists haven’t been convinced that skin cancer itself drove the evolutionary change. (Light skin evolved again after humans moved out of Africa to higher latitudes.)
That’s because skin cancer in the modern world tends to strike later in life, after the reproductive years. From an evolutionary perspective, this time not very important. What really matters is survival during the reproductive years in order to pass on genes to offspring.
Evolution of dark skin
So researchers have come up with alternative reasons that dark skin might promote survival. Possibilities include avoiding painful sunburns, which would prevent effective hunting and gathering; improving vision, because a lack of pigment comes with vision problems; protecting the sweat glands from sun damage; and protecting the body’s supply of folic acid, which is crucial for neural development and which can be damaged by excessive ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
In addition, melanin may even protect against fungal infections in humid climates, according to a 2007 article in the journal Dermatologic Clinics.
While pigmentation offers clear benefits, Greaves believes that cancer alone could have done the trick in driving early humans’ dark skin. In modern sub-Saharan Africa, albinism is common, with about one case per every 5,000 people. In comparison, there is only one case per every 20,000 people in Europe and the United States.
Greaves reviewed published cases on albinism in Africa and found that almost all albino individuals developed skin cancer in their 20s. In the South African state of Soweto, the risk of developing skin cancer is 1,000 times greater for people with albinism than for people with dark pigmentation.
The prevalence of outdoor labor mean that lesions develop earlier among African people with albinism than among white-skinned Americans, Greaves found. In one study of people with albinism in Nigeria, 50 percent had skin cancer by age 26. In another study in Tanzania, 80 percent of the albino people studied developed skin cancer by age 30. Fewer than 10 percent of people with albinism in sub-Saharan Africa make it beyond age 40, Greaves wrote.
Similarly, outside of Africa, the Kuna people of Panama have an albinism rate of one in 150 people. Again, virtually all albino Kuna individuals have skin cancer by age 30.
These early cancers would have been a fact of life for pale humans living in sub-Saharan Africa without the benefit of medical knowledge or sunscreen, Greaves concluded. These cancers would have turned fatal, as they do today, after metastasizing to other areas or after ulcerating and becoming infected. As a result, paler people would have died more frequently at younger ages, leaving mostly darker-skinned individuals to pass on their genes.
The idea is speculative, Greaves said. But, he added, his analysis of albinism in Africa is “the first time that a plausible case has been made that cancer has influenced human evolution.”
Posted on Wednesday, February 26th 2014
Loneliness Is Bad For Your Health
Anyone who has experienced feelings of loneliness knows how terrible it is. In his poem To Edith, Bertrand Russell calls loneliness “the solitary pain” and evokes the “ecstasy and peace” his wife gave him after “so many lonely years”. Those who seek out loneliness are normally confusing it with spiritual solitude.
Unfortunately, loneliness can do much more harm than simply produce an unpleasant feeling. It has an enormous impact on physical health too. Researchers have shown that the list of damages to your health caused by loneliness runs scarily long: depression, cognitive dysfunction, high blood pressure, inflammation, altered immunity to disease – the list goes on.
Most frightening of all is the connection between loneliness and an increased risk of death. This was raised recently at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting in a seminar on the science of resilient ageing. John Cacioppo gave an alarming warning from his research on the topic: older adults with the highest levels of loneliness are nearly twice as likely to die prematurely than those with the lowest levels of loneliness.
Cacioppo and his colleagues did not claim that loneliness directly caused mortality. What they aimed to find out was whether loneliness affected mortality through depression, self-reported health conditions and physical functions. Analysing the data collected from the Health and Retirement Study, they found that health conditions and physical functions were significant mechanisms but depression was not.
This makes sense. Except for suicide, which is relatively rare and usually caused by serious depression, psychological problems can only increase the risk of death by creating physical problems. In other words, those suffering from loneliness have a higher risk of death because loneliness makes their physical health deteriorate. Lonely people who keep themselves physically active and healthy should enjoy low risk of death, just as the non-lonely ones do.
If we connect the above medical consequences of loneliness with the figure estimated by Campaign to End Loneliness that 800,000 people in England suffered from “chronic loneliness”, then we would understand why Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has called the situation a “national shame”. But health secretaries in many other countries should be much more worried than Hunt.
My research into age and loneliness across Europe shows that loneliness is actually much less prevalent in Britain than most other European countries. The most worrying cases are the former Communist countries of Eastern Europe where between 10-16% of surveyed adults reported frequent loneliness; Ukraine has the highest rate of 23%. The Nordic countries, however, are more successfully managing to keep loneliness in older people at bay. The causes behind these national differences are unclear, but at the individual level, having intimate and close social relations is clearly necessary.
But what makes people feel lonely in the first place? The definition of loneliness is also an explanation for it. It is most commonly defined as a deficit of desired social relations. That is, people feel lonely because they do not have the social relations they want. A person could have one good friend or spouse and not feel lonely, or have lots of social interactions that they find unsatisfactory and that leave them feeling lonely anyway.
This kind of definition is inherently comparative and complicated, varying from person to person. Loneliness is the difference between the existing social relations and desired ones; if a person desires more social relations than they have, the feeling of loneliness emerges.
Simple arithmetic does not work when defining loneliness. It is very hard, if possible at all, to pin down what social relations people want – everybody has their own criteria. People may not even know what levels of social interaction they want and it could depend on different situations they find themselves in. Even measuring existing social relations is a great challenge.
Social relations also have different aspects, for example the quantity and quality of personal interactions, a person’s position in a set of relations and their social position at different points in time. Due to the complexity of these aspects, loneliness is usually measured by respondents’ own assessment or their reactions to a set of statements.
Without knowing what kind of social relations people would like to have and they actually have, we will not know the immediate causes of loneliness. The current practice is to discover significant associations between reported loneliness and some sensible “risk factors”. These include a person’s marital status, living arrangement, physical mobility and health conditions. Analyses of these associations are helpful as they could identify the groups vulnerable to loneliness.
To better tackle the serious problem of loneliness, we need valid and reliable information about people’s social lives. This will make it possible to identify the immediate causes of loneliness and improve people’s health.
6 Tricks For Waking Up Early
When you try to change your morning routine, several obstacles will stand in your way. It’s possible to overcome them, however; the key is to start the night before. Six strategies to make getting up early work for you:
1. Change your mindset. Many people fight going to sleep because they want to get more done – they have separation anxiety from the day. But Morgenstern teaches her clients to think differently.
“Consider sleep the beginning of the next day,” she says, adding that this mind shift can change the way you look at sleep and make it exciting. “Sleep becomes an active element; you’re charging up your battery.”
2. Adjust your bedtime. Many of us are already sleep deprived, and stealing another hour of sleep will just set you up for failure. The only way to be successful is to go to bed earlier. Determine how many hours of sleep your body requires and count backwards from there.
“Getting up earlier requires a fundamental shift in your neuro-pathways,” she says. “While the change makes total sense to you the day before, actually doing it the next morning is hard work and requires you to break a lot of patterns.”
3. Adjust other nighttime activities. You’ll also have to adjust the time you eat dinner as well as after-dinner decompression activities, such as reading, says Morgenstern.
You’re not being realistic if you say you’ll get up early but then don’t build everything else into your day” accordingly, she says. Also, eat dinner no less than two to three hours before bed, which is optimal for being able to fall asleep and sleep well.
4. Prepare for your morning activity. Sometimes what keeps us in bed isn’t fatigue, but the fact the morning task we’ve planned is overwhelming. To make these activities less daunting, prep the night before and organize your equipment. Set out your gym clothes, yoga mat or running shoes, if you’re planning to exercise. If you’re going to be on your computer, tidy your home office, and preprogram your coffee maker.
“Starting something new can feel complicated,” says Morgenstern. “Take the time to prepare and you’ll increase your chances for success.”
5. Turn off electronics. At least 90 minutes before bed pull the plug on electronic activities, such as watching television, checking email or social media or reading on an e-reader.
“Science says it’s a source of energy and over-stimulates us,” she says. “It’s like drinking a Red Bull before bed – there’s no way you’ll fall asleep.”
She suggests replacing it with something relaxing, such as listening to music, drawing, or prepping meals for next day.
6. Create a pre-bedtime routine. Give yourself peace of mind and time to unwind by creating a calming pre-bedtime routine. For example, make a ritual of checking the windows and locks. Dim the lights and stretch. Or take a leisurely walk.
5 Good Reasons To Go For A Less Intense Workout
With all of the recent and much-deserved hype over high-intensity interval training (HIIT), a true and loyal friend has been left behind: good, old-fashioned steady-state training. Gone are the days of 30-minute jogs, in favor of jump squats and 30-second sprints.
In contrast to high-intensity interval training, which alternates short, strenuous bouts of activity with slightly longer low-intensity rest periods, steady-state training refers to cardiorespiratory exercise in which your heart rate is kept relatively constant for an extended period — at least 20 minutes in duration and often in the 30- to 60-minute range. The intensity may be low, moderate or moderately high, but you must be able to sustain the activity for at least 20 minutes.
You can use a “talk test” to estimate your intensity: You can carry on a conversation with ease (low intensity), you can comfortably carry on a conversation but with slightly heavier and more frequent breaths (moderate intensity), or you have to pause every few words for a breath, and you’d rather not engage in lengthy conversation (moderately-high intensity).
While HIIT delivers benefits that steady-state training does not, including dramatic increases in speed and power and comparable if not greater cardiovascular benefits in less time, moderate-intensity cardio workouts with a longer duration still have a place in most exercise regimens. In other words, don’t delete them from your friend list.
Here are five reasons to include longer, less intense workouts in your exercise regimen:
1. You’re a beginner. If you’ve been relatively sedentary or haven’t done much formal exercise for a few months or more, start with a low- to moderate-intensity workout, and gradually increase duration and intensity. Once you can sustain a minimum of 20 minutes of continual exercise, do that three to five times a week for at least one month before adding high-intensity interval training.
2. You’re training for an endurance event or sport. Your body adapts to the specific stimuli you throw at it. This specificity principle means that you will be best at the activity you practice most. If you want to run a marathon, you need to do some long, continuous runs to prepare not only the cardiorespiratory system, but also the connective tissues and the psyche as well. For most sports and recreational activities, including one to two bouts of steady-state training per week will give you the stamina to play well for longer.
3. You enjoy moderate intensity more than high. Not everyone loves the feeling of pushing their bodies to the limit, and that is what high-intensity training requires — repeated, near-maximal effort for short periods of time. If you prefer an easier-going workout, by all means stick with less intense, longer duration workouts. You will still burn calories and fat, you will still feel more energetic, and you will still get the health benefits associated with high-intensity training. High-intensity training is most important if you need certain performance benefits such as power and speed.
4. You want to decrease injury risk and allow your body to recover. High-intensity interval training is tough on your body. While the volume of work may be lower than in steady-state training, the added intensity places significant stress on connective tissues and muscles, often leading to higher levels of acute inflammation that can become chronic if you don’t allow your body to recover from those intense workouts — especially when you couple the HIIT with heavy resistance training. Most people cannot incorporate high-intensity interval training more than two to three times per week without increasing their risk for injury or overtraining. Try a mix of high-intensity interval training and steady-state training. You can mix them up within the week, or you can periodize your workouts and focus on high-intensity training for a couple of months and then steady-state training for a month or two. To decrease injury risk with both types of training, as well as maximizing the benefits, vary your activities.
5. You want to burn calories without burning out. If weight loss is your goal, you may not be able to burn all of the calories you want to with HIIT alone. To avoid burning yourself out with too much high-intensity training, alternate HIIT workouts with some moderate-intensity, steady-state workouts of longer durations, up to 60 minutes. And remember to vary your activities. For a 60-minute workout, try two activities for 30 minutes each or three activities for 20 minutes each.
You may hate the idea of going back to including longer-duration workouts in your fitness regimen. I know — time is precious, time is money, time is relaxation, time is relationships. But lower-intensity, longer workouts will give you back more than they take from you. Indulge yourself in them once in a while. Use them as time to listen to a good book, talk with a friend, enjoy nature or just ponder. After all, life is not just a sprint. It’s an endurance event.
Men Experience Increasing Happiness Until Late 60s
There’s good news and bad news for older men. You’ll experience increasing happiness after your early 50s — but that’ll only last until you’re ready to retire.
Researchers at Boston University and Oregon State University wanted to measure how happiness and emotions change in men as they grow older. They looked at over 1,300 men between the ages of 53 and 85 and studied the mens’ perceptions of their happiness.
Around 80 percent of men felt steadily increasing happiness starting in their early 50s until they were about 65 or 70, when their happiness took a downward turn. But 20 percent of men reported an upswing in their happiness after 65 or 70. Researchers say happiness levels in older age are dictated by how people react to life’s upsets.
“In general, life gets better as you age in the sense that older adults on average have fewer hassles — and respond to them better — than younger adults,” lead author Carolyn Aldwin of the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State said in a release. “But once you turn 70, how you react to these hassles changes and may be dependent on your resources of your situation in life.”
It’s around this age that men might find themselves with worsening physical and cognitive health, as well as the loss of loved ones, the researchers said. The study wanted to compare the three common models of aging to find out which one holds true. One model states happiness in generally static throughout life other than major life events, the second that happiness increases with age, and the third that happiness rapidly declines around age 80.
What they found was a bit of truth to each. “Some older people continue to find sources of happiness late in life despite dealing with family losses, declining health, or a lack of resources. You may lose a parent, but gain a grandchild. The kids may leave the house, but you bask in their accomplishments as adults,” Aldwin said.
Previous studies have tried to pinpoint the exact age that we’re happiest. A study published by the London School of Economics determined people are happiest at ages 23 and 69, while unhappiest at 55. Another Gallup poll showed Americans reported being happiest between 75 and 79 and unhappiest between 40 and 44.
Ultimately, it all depends on your perception and how you react to hardship, Aldwin said. Everyone faces difficulties differently, meaning we can’t pin down an exact pattern for everyone.
Facts About Butter
Butter is not the villain it has been made out to be.
The dairy product, along with other high-fat foods like red meat, became the target of health crusaders in the 1970s following the observation that eating saturated fats raises “bad” LDL cholesterol, which in turn, was linked to heart disease.
But over the years, researchers have been unable to provide convincing evidence that saturated fat causes heart disease. Yet butter, which contains a lot of saturated fat, is still viewed as the enemy by food manufactures and American consumers.
Butter is hardly a health food — it should be eaten in small amounts and paired with a balanced diet as well as regular exercise — but there’s also no reason to completely banish it from your kitchen. Here are six reasons why it’s time to bust the myth that butter is bad for us.
1. Butter has no mysterious ingredients.
People have been eating butter for thousands of years. It’s made from just two ingredients: cream and sometimes salt. The cream is churned in large vats until it thickens. In recent years, the backlash against heavily processed foods has boosted the image of the natural yellow spread. In 2012, for instance, butter consumption reached a 40-year-high, marking a 25% increase in the last decade. ”Americans now eat 5.6 pounds of butter per capita, up from a low of 4.1 pounds in 1997,” David Pierson reported for The Los Angeles Times.
2. Buttery spreads are not better for you.
Butter-like spreads — often touted as healthy butter substitutes — are heavily processed. Many margarines are are still made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils — also known as trans fats — that are created in an industrial process when hydrogen is added to liquid oil so it becomes solid at room temperature and mimics the texture of butter.
Scientists now recognize that trans fat is even worse for your heart than saturated fat. In addition to raising your bad LDL cholesterol, it also reduces your good HDL cholesterol. The Food and Drug Administration has recently taken steps to phase out trans fats, though it’s unclear how long it will take the food industry to reformulate their products so they don’t contain the artificial fat.
3. Butter is fine in moderation.
As with any food, excess is what gets us into trouble. The American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of saturated fat you eat to less than 7% of your total daily calories. So if you eat around 2,000 calories a day, that’s 16 grams of saturated fat. There are around 7 grams of saturated fat in one tablespoon of butter.
That means a thin spread of butter on your morning toast and a pat on your potatoes at night is not bad as long as you’re doing everything else right — like eating lots fruits and vegetables for nutrients, exercising, and controlling how much saturated fat you get from other places.
4. Butter contains some vitamins and minerals.
We won’t argue that butter is the best source of nutrients, but it’s also not void of vitamins or minerals. It contains some natural fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamins A, D, E, and K. Half a tablespoon of butter provides 10% and 11% of the recommended daily requirement of vitamin A for men and women aged 19-50, respectively. Butter also contains a small amount of potassium, iodine, and calcium.
5. The real enemy is sugar.
One result of the war on fat has been the rise of heavily-processed “low-fat” and “fat-free” foods, where saturated fat has been replaced with added sugar.
Cardiologist Aseem Malhotra, who recently issued a call in the British Medical Journal to “bust the myth of saturated fat’s role in heart disease,” notes that in the last 30 years the rate of obesity in the United States has skyrocketed, even though the percentage of calories we are consuming from fat has declined by 10%.
The fructose in sugar has been linked to weight gain — possibly because it messes with insulin levels and encourages fat storage. Some experts also believe that people can develop an “addiction” to sugar that drives overeating.
Malhotra cites a 1956 study published in The Lancet that compared three groups who consumed different types of food on a 1,000-calorie diet: One group got 90% of their calories from fat, another got 90% of their calories from protein, and the final group got 90% of their calories from carbohydrates. The fat-consuming group lost the most weight, while the carbohydrate dieters actually gained weight.
6. Butter tastes good.
Butter tastes good because it’s full of fat. By giving the body what it wants in moderate amounts, it’s possible that we fill a desire that would require larger servings of low-fat artificial foods to confer the same level of satisfaction.
Why Some People Are Able To Remember Their Dreams Better Than Others?
Why are some people always able to remember their dreams, while others have trouble remembering any at all? A new study suggests activity in a certain part of the brain could have something to do with it.
The study, published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, shows that a part of the brain called the temporo-parietal junction has more spontaneous activity among people who regularly recall their dreams, compared with people who rarely recall their dreams.
The study included 41 people who had their spontaneous brain activity measured with Positron Emission Tomography as they were sleeping and as they were awake. Half the volunteers were considered “high dream recallers,” and remembered their dreams about five mornings a week, on average. The other half of the volunteers were “low dream recallers,” and only remembered about two dreams a month, on average.
Researchers found that the spontaneous activity of the brain’s medial prefrontal cortex and the temporo-parietal junction was higher during both sleep and wakefulness in the “high dream recallers.” The temporo-parietal junction is known to play a role in processing information from both within the body and from the external environment.
The new findings come on the heels of research published last year in the journal Cerebral Cortex and conducted by the same Inserm researcher, Perrine Ruby of the Lyon Neuroscience Research Center, which showed that people who regularly recall their dreams have more wakefulness and their brains have higher levels of reactivity to sounds during sleep and wakefulness.
“This may explain why high dream recallers are more reactive to environmental stimuli, awaken more during sleep, and thus better encode dreams in memory than low dream recallers,” Ruby said in a statement. “Indeed the sleeping brain is not capable of memorizing new information; it needs to awaken to be able to do that.”
Signs You Should Quit Your Job
Not every job is going to be your dream job, and sometimes sticking it out in a less-than-desirable position could be necessary to rise up the corporate ladder.
But after time, some jobs may not be worth the effort you’re putting in or the negative effects on your health and wellbeing.
How do you know it’s time to call it quits? Here are 10 key signs you should quit your job and move on.
1. You’re no longer learning.
If you continue to refine your skills at work but are bored because you’ve stopped picking up anything new, you may have hit a wall at your job.
2. Your skills aren’t being tapped.
If you’ve realized that you’re overqualified for your job, then it’s worth seeing if there’s an opportunity for growth within your own company. If there’s no path forward, it could be time to look elsewhere.
3. You hate the work.
Some jobs are stepping stones to your dream job and require dealing with some unpleasant tasks; others are just bad fits. A good way to differentiate between the two is to look at your manager’s boss — if you’d be happy with that job, then you’re on the right track.
4. You don’t fit into your company’s culture.
Being an employee means being part of a team, and if you still feel like an outcast at your company after six months or so, then you should probably find a work environment better suited to your personality and values.
5. You have a terrible boss.
A bad boss can be a bully, arrogant, and a poor team manager. If his or her shortcomings are affecting your productivity and happiness, it might not be worth putting up with.
6. Your company is in a downward spiral.
If your company is in a difficult financial period, or an upcoming merger or acquisition threatens your department, there’s no reason to go down with a sinking ship.
7. Your health is affected by stress and anxiety.
If your unhappiness at work is being manifested in excruciating body aches, anxiety attacks, or a general state of melancholy, it’s time to consider new job options.
8. Your personal relationships are suffering because of your job.
Putting in long hours can be rewarding, but when they cause you to drift from family and friends, you may want to question the costs.
9. Your duties have increased but your pay hasn’t.
Sometimes an increase in work without a pay raise is due to downsizing, and sometimes it’s just management taking advantage of you. Either way, it might be time to pursue options that compensate you fairly.
10. You wake up dreading the day.
If you wake up each morning to an overwhelming sense of dread, try to pinpoint the reason and address it with your employer. And if you ultimately find that there’s no way to escape misery at your job, then life is just too short — it’s time to go.
10 Crazy Facts About Sperm
There’s a lot to know about those little guys. Here are just ten of the many wild facts you should know about sperm.
1. Not all sperm are made equal: As much as a man would love to have millions of perfect little guys, the fact is that many of them are deformed. We’re talking two heads, two tails, squiggly tails, heads that are too large or two small, etc.
2. Sperm are hard workers: Well, not all of them. But of the ones that can swim straight enough to get to the egg, one lucky bugger (though sometimes more than one. Can you say multiples?) drills its way into the egg to begin fertilization.
3. There is a difference between “sperm” and “semen”: Many people use both terms interchangeably, but they are not the same substance. Sperm cells are just one part of the semen. Seminal fluid also contains fructose and proteolytic, among other enzymes, to help the sperm on they way.
4. The odds are tough: In the average ejaculate, there 200 million sperm. That’s some steep competition!
5. Sperm don’t have to be moving to fertilize an egg: That’s both true and not true. For natural fertilization to occur, the sperm has to be able to swim and drill into the egg, but during In-Vitro fertilization, the sperm is injected directly into the egg, making motion on the sperm’s part a nonissue.
6. They don’t always know where they’re going: Only about half of the sperm who are ejaculated make it to the egg. The rest doodle around in circles.
7. You need to keep your boys cool: For healthy sperm to exist in a man’s body, the testicles need to be cooler than the body. On average, testicles are seven degrees cooler than the rest of the body. You don’t want the testicles to be any closer to the warmth than necessary. That’s why boxers are better than briefs when it comes to making babies!
8. The production process is different in men and women: Ladies are born with all the eggs they will ever have in their life. But men are constantly making new sperm. It takes about two months for a sperm cell to go from start to finish.
9. Diet plays a big role in the taste of semen: Gentlemen, if you are partial to oral sex, do both of you a favor by exercising regularly and maintaining a diet high in fruits and veggies. It benefits you in that you will have healthier sperm, and it benefits your partner in that your semen tastes better. A diet high in red meat, dairy, garlic and coffee will make the taste of your semen take a nosedive.
10. They come in both genders: Yes, there are male and female sperm. The males tend to be faster, but the females are stronger, so it’s kind of a stalemate in the sperm gender war.
Posted on Friday, February 21st 2014