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Posts from the ‘Round-Ups’ Category

Weekend Reflection: Five Things That Stuck Out

reflection

Life is full of transitions — big ones like getting married or having a child or starting a new job, and small ones like watching day turn into night and shifting from weekend to work week.  These transitions are a great time to reflect — even if just for a few minutes — on what’s going well and what’s not.  They’re a good time to check in about whether we’re rested or tired…energized or ambivalent…taking care of ourselves or not…and prioritizing the things that matter most.  I consciously thought about these things for a few minutes as I drove to work this morning, taking stock of how the weekend went and what intentions I want to set for the week ahead.  Here are some reminders I’m holding onto as the work week begins…

EXERCISE

Little Eyes Are Watching: Our 2-yr-old daughter was busily working on her own in the kitchen yesterday.  I assumed she was “cooking” something in her play kitchen until she told me it was time to begin “spin class.”  She told me she had water and pistachios ready in case we got hungry and thirsty, and she was ready to turn up the music and SPIN (note: she has never been to a spin class…she’s only heard me saying that I’m going to one…so her version of spin class was literally SPINNING, until I was sick and dizzy and ready to fall down).  The point here is: as parents and as people…we don’t always realize how our behavior is impacting the people around us.  If I had spent the weekend watching TV, my daughter likely would have organized a Downton Abbey marathon…not a spin class.  Health begets health….something I posted about a few weeks ago in Cheering Us On.

FOOD

Deliciousness Can Be Easy: My mother-in-law was visiting this weekend, and she’s a great cook.  What I love about her cooking sensibility is that she focuses on simplicity, and she proves that great cooking doesn’t need to be complicated.  She made a beautifully seared prime rib, roasted potatoes and spinach and mango salad with seemingly minimal effort.  No recipes required.  I covered this idea of simple meals in an earlier post — 3-Ingredient Meals — and I love seeing it in practice.  It’s a great reminder that time need not be a barrier to healthy + yummy cooking.

MIND

Technology is Complicated: If you missed it, this New York Times essay, “How Not to be Alone” is thought-provoking as we think about the role technology plays in our lives and how it can shape our behavior.  Here’s a teaser that might make you want to take five minutes to read this: “I worry that the closer the world gets to our fingertips, the further it gets from our hearts.”  If you’re interested in the conversation about technology and well-being, here’s an earlier post about the power of unplugging.

RELATIONSHIPS

Make New Friends, but Keep the Old: We spent time with three different out of town guests over the weekend (mother-in-law, old friend from Wisconsin, and old friend from Calgary), and I was reminded how important it is to invest in lifelong relationships.  I know it’s cheesy, but I’ve always loved the piece about friends in that famous Baz Luhrmann “Sunscreen” poem/song: “Understand that friends come and go,but for the precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.”  Both new and old friends add huge value to our lives…and seeing old ones face-to-face is an important reminder that we need both.

PURPOSE

The Power of Focus: I don’t have any weekend revelations about purpose to share — after all, it was just a weekend!  But I did do a bit of thinking about focus.  We went to a park Saturday that’s famous for kite-flying, and I loved getting lost in the moment while watching the colorful kits swirling in the air (similar to the Hockey Moments I covered a while ago).  Our lives have the potential to be totally absorbed by distraction, making focus elusive.  Jonathan Safran Foer quotes Simone Weil in the loneliness essay I mentioned above: “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.”  This is so true…generosity to others…and to ourselves.  This leads to my intention for this week…FOCUS.  Less email, more making stuff.  Less breadth, more depth.  Less interruption, more impact.

 

What’s your intention for the week?  And does it stem from something you did, read, heard, or realized this weekend?

Five Cool Health + Fitness Start-Ups

Greatist released its round-up of The Top 50 Most Innovative Health & Fitness Start-Ups last week, and lots of the usual suspects made the list (including Runkeeper, Strava (the fitness tracker I use), LoseIt!, Gympact, and Basis (waiting for this watch to get back in stock to snap one up).  It’s worth looking at the whole list, but if you’re short on time (or long on my opinion), here are five cool ones to keep an eye on!

EXERCISE:

charitymilesCharity Miles: Charity Miles makes everyone a sponsored athlete!  Through the app you can automatically donate every run, walk or bike ride to charity (you can choose one of their partner charities).  Charity miles donates $0.25 for every mile walked/run and $0.10 for every mile biked.  (Thanks also to Jeff Miller for letting me know about this app!)

EAT:

natureboxNature Box: Founded to “help people eat healthier and live better” Nature Box delivers a box full of healthy snacks to your doorstop once a month for $19.95.  The items in every box are carefully selected by their team and approved by a nutritionist.  And, for every box sold, Nature Box donates one meal to help hungry children.  The February box included blueberry baked goods, dark cocoa almonds, vanilla macaroon granola, honeycomb sunflower kernels, and trail mix.  If you’re a snacker, this might be a good way to mix up your diet while keeping it whole and healthy!

READ:

Logo_Well_Good_NYCWell + Good: I was happy to see this blog on the list, and it’s one of my daily reads and a great inspiration to me.  The content is NYC centric (and geared to women), but fresh and snappy and cutting-edge.  They have a feature I love where they survey an exercise/diet/health guru’s fridge, including photos.  Worth checking out (in addition to Wellfesto, of course)!

BOOK CLASSES:

fitistFitIST: Piggybacking on the boutique fitness trend, FITist allows users to book an take classes from a wide range of studios and gyms, simplifying sign-ups and saving cash.  It looks like it’s only in LA and NYC right now, but I’m sure it will expand (assuming they have relationships with enough boutique gyms).  I’ve been wondering when someone would build this!

 

 

SPREAD LOVE:

love letters

More Love Letters: If you read this blog even semi-regularly, you know I love letters…and particularly love letters.  So it’ll come as no surprise that I LOVE LOVE LOVE the spirit of this site.  They write and mail handwritten love letters to strangers in need all over the world.  You can write love letters to add to the mix and request one for someone who needs one.  According to their site, at the core…”It’s not about stamps.  Not about stationary.  It’s. About.  Your.  Neighbor.”  Total awesomeness.  I just signed up to write a few love letters.

Have you discovered any new sites, apps, or products recently that you think are amazing?  Please share!

 

Healthy Billboards

humankindWhat if your morning commute took you past billboards bearing cool ideas and inspirational thoughts and beautiful pictures instead of ads trying to sell your more stuff?  And what if these billboards and bus stops inspired you to move and love and call your mom instead of eat junk food and buy things you don’t really need?  Read more

In the News This Week: Happiness, Exercise, Food Labels, and WAT-AAH

Napa, California is the Happiest City in America…According to 10 Million Tweets (via The Atlantic)

happiestsaddest2The Vermont Complex Systems Center created a “hedonometer” – an analysis of 10 million geotagged tweets. The researchers coded each tweet for its happy/sad content, based on the appearance and frequency of specific words (happy = rainbow, love, beauty, hope, wonderful, wine…sad = damn, boo, ugly, smoke, hate, lied). Yes, this method lacks context (i.e., does wine mean happiness or drunkenness), but at this scale, researchers can make reasonable conclusions. There are some other concerns with the study, which The Atlantic does a good job of distilling (check out the article to learn more), but all in all, this is an interesting addition to the host of happiness data out there, and I’ll be excited to see where it goes. If you like this sort of thing, you might also be interested in a friend of mine’s project + beautiful book: We Feel Fine.

WAT-AAH Aims to Make Water Cool for Kids (via PSFK.com)

wataahMom and former marketing exec Rose Cameron makes a big bet that kids indeed judge a book by its cover. Her new brand WAT-AHH is designed to appeal to kids, giving them a reason to reach for water instead of sugary soda. Everything from the name to the bottle shape to the logo is designed by (her) kids, for kids, giving this a good shot if her hypothesis is true. Her own kids sure think it is: “Honestly, I think that my friends would rather drink a water that looks cooler than soda because it’s all about looking cool, honestly.” My take? Any effort to get kids off soda and onto water is a good one…but I’d also love to see a generation of kids drinking of the tap instead of plastic bottles!

Foods Might Have More Calories Than Food Labels Tell Us (via The Guardian)

garden carrotsHarvard primatologist Richard Wrangham convened a session about calorie measurement at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) this week to voice his concerns that our current system of measuring calories (known as the Atwater system) may be flawed. He’s concerned that the system doesn’t account for the calories in fiber, while it overestimates (by up to 20%) the number of calories in some protein-rich food. Additionally, raw and cooked versions of the same food may have different calorie content. It will be interesting to see where this goes, as the thought of a new labeling system feels overwhelming (to me). In the meantime, this is a good reminder to eat whole, real foods in moderate quantities rather than obsess about calories (unless there is a medical reason we need to)!

Outdoor Exercise Trumps Indoor Workouts (via The New York Times)

running shoesAs someone who grew up and lived in a cold climate for much of my life, I’ve long wondered whether exercising indoors (on machines) gives us the same benefit as exercising outdoors. Gretchen Reynolds reported this week that there are irreplaceable benefits to exercising outdoors. Here are the key differences she reports: 1) Runners stride differently (more ankle flexion, more variety) and burn more calories when running outdoors versus on a treadmill, 2) cyclists use more energy outside (in large part due to wind drag), 3) walkers reported higher measures of vitality, enthusiasm, pleasure and self-esteem after walking outside versus indoors, and 4) overall, people who exercise outdoors exercised longer and more often than those working out indoors.

At the end of her article, Reyonds quotes Jackqueline Kerr, profession at the University of California, San Diego: “Despite the fitness industry boom, we are not seeing changes in national physical activity levels, so gyms are not the answer.” It’s easy for me to say, now that I’ve escaped frigid Wisconsin for temperate California, but it sounds like the message is clear: LET’S GET OUTSIDE.

Body Chemistry Might Explain Differences Between Couch Potatoes and Exercisers (via The Wall Street Journal)

feetSo it turns out that working out might not just be about motivation and determination after all…biology might play a significant role. According to Panteleimon Ekkekakis, professor of kinesiology at Iowa State, everyone has a different physical capacity for exertion, after which point we start to feel really crummy during exercise. Knowing that we’re not all created equal, Ekkekakis sees people pushing beyond their natural limits too soon, versus trying to boost these limits slowly over time. This huge variance in thresholds might explain why some people exercise easily and stick with it, while others struggle and burn out. So what’s the big takeaway? Make workouts achievable, build slowly, and find ways to make exercise fun + social.

Round-Up: Five Interesting Health Stories From This Week

Marriage Reappraisal –> Marital Satisfaction (via Northwestern University News Center)

photoJust in time for Valentine’s Day, psychologists from Northwestern and Stanford published a study showing the benefits of relationship reappraisal in protecting marriages.  It sounds wonky, but the concept of reappraisal is overwhelmingly simple: it’s the ability to observe a phenomenon as if from a distance or neutral perspective.  Here’s the 21-minute (per year) intervention participants did…

Every four months for a year, participants were asked to take seven minutes to think about the biggest disagreement they had experienced with their spouse during the last four months.  They were then asked to write about it from three different angles:

  • Write from the perspective of a neutral and objective third-party who wishes to bring out the best out in the situation
  • Write about any obstacles they foresee coming up when attempting to take a neutral, third-party stance in disagreements with their partners
  • Write about how they might best go about adopting this neutral, third-party perspective in future disagreements and how this kind of perspective could help them transform disagreements into more positive experiences

And bingo, study participants reported better feelings of love, intimacy, trust, passion and commitment than their non-reappraising counterparts.  Worth 21 minutes a year?  I vote yes.

Four Workouts Might Just Be the Magic Number (via The New York Times)

photo by fang guo, via flickr creative commons

photo by fang guo, via flickr creative commons

Gretchen Reynolds from The New York Times reported on a study published this month in Exercise & Science in Sports & Medicine.  The study investigated 72 older, sedentary women and randomly assigned them to three exercise groups: 2 workouts/week, 4 workouts/week, and 6 workouts/week. While all three groups gained strength and endurance and lost body fat, the 4X/week group expended more energy (burned more calories per day) than the 2X/week group and the 6X/week group.  Why the difference?  Researchers concluded that the 6X/week participants were more likely to spend their non-exercise time sitting and resting than the other groups.  So what’s the net takeaway?  Exercise as much as you can and want to if you can keep your energy levels high through the day (avoid getting tired or slow).  But if you find yourself getting lazy after workouts, it might be worth it to dial back total weekly workouts and walk/bike/move more in your everyday life!

Marcus Antebi Aims to Own Juicing Category (via Well + Good NYC)

photo by plasticrevolver via flickr creative commons

photo by plasticrevolver via flickr creative commons

Juicing and cleansing are all the rage right now, and the founder of Juice Press, Marcus Antebi, wants to be out in front.  A former Thai boxer, Antebi has expanded from one store in New York City’s East Village in 2010 to what will be 10 by the end of this spring.  Beyond opening stores, he’s out preaching about nutrition, “saving New Yorkers from dairy-induced digestion issues and Five Guys food comas,” as Well + Good NYC reported.  He’s got big ambitions, but he’s going up against Starbucks’ Evolution Fresh.  And at $60/day, the benefits of his juice better be as loud as his marketing campaign if he’s going to own the category.

Mark Parker, CEO of Nike on Body-Controlled Music (via Fast Company)

nikeFast Company reporter Austin Carr covers Nike’s digital future in this month’s “Most Innovative Companies” issue.   Parker shares clues about how Nike will catapult out of apparel to broaden its offerings to include tech, data and services.  It’s going to encourage start-ups to build on the Nike+ platform, and if FuelBand usage continues to increase, it will have tons of data to help motivate people wearing the sleek black device.  Nike and Parker are dreaming big: “Just imagine if your body could control or change the music that you’re listening to–if your movement could actually change the cadence of the music, the tempo, or the beat.”  From my perspective, the coolest part about these goals is the potential for Nike to transform itself from a shoe company to a wellness machine.  Time will tell…

Mountain Dew for Breakfast (eeeeeew) (via Huffington Post)

kickstart-298Pepsi pushed the unhealthy breakfast to a new limit Tuesday, announcing a new breakfast drink called Kickstart.  It tastes like Mountain Dew but is made with 5 percent juice, vitamins B and C, and caffeine.  According to Pepsi’s research, the drink emerged from market research saying that Mountain Dew fans “didn’t see anything that fit their [morning drink] needs.” My take?  A little more caffeine in the shape of something real (coffee or tea) beats a can full of chemicals any day.  Just when I thought the end of soda might be nearer, it’s positioning itself at the breakfast table.  [Sigh]

This is a new type of post I’m trying out, since I find myself coming across too many interesting things during the week to cover them all in depth.  I catalogue them as I see them and then write a Friday digest.  What do you think of this format?  Helpful?  Too long?  Too short?  Too recycled?  I’d love any feedback!

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