Wednesday Wisdom

a6e25bb271b2f7acf199184b97cfea0d

“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.”

― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Healthy Byte: The Power of Positivity

This Little Shift in Thinking Could Change the Way You Perceive the World

Positive thinking really is powerful.(Photo: Stocksy/Eduard Bonnin)

The more I learn about the brain, the more fascinated I am by it. Things I used to think were just a mystery (like what makes us happy and what makes us sad) I’m now learning are totally controllable.

So, I was really excited to talk to one of the leading neuroscience psychologists in the field today: Rick Hanson, PhD, has written multiple best-selling books about how to actually hardwire our brains to stay positive in both thought and feeling.

In our conversation, I kept asking him questions related to my own experiences with emotional intelligence, positive thought, and the power we have to shift ourselves out of negative emotions and thought patterns. Everything Rick shared with me confirmed my own experience and what I’ve learned from other experts.

What I especially loved learning from Rick was how important it is to slow down and consciously enjoy the good times, because it actually helps reinforce the hardwiring of our brains. He explained that one of the easiest shifts to make is to acknowledge all the things that go right in our day versus only acknowledging what goes wrong.

This may seem obvious, but think about it: How often do you get 50 positive emails during your workday confirming you are doing your job right, and yet the one email you get that is negative, or exposes a mistake you made, is the only one you remember?

Rick’s favorite phrase to explain the importance of acknowledging the positive aspects of our days is, “Neurons that fire together wire together.”

Essentially, he explains that when we think positive thoughts (i.e. “Wow, my hair looks great today”), we are using neurons that create positive pathways in our brain — and these pathways are being kept open and ready to be used. The reverse is also true: If we are constantly stuck in negative thought loops, those are the neuron pathways that are open and being used.

So before you write off the power of positive thinking, remember that it costs zero money and next to no time to add a few more positive acknowledgments in your day. Science says that the effect will last longer than the thought.

Originally Posted HERE

HB Sig

Healthy Byte: Day 990

Day 990 M

“Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.”

~ Robert T. Kiyosaki

In ten day’s time I will be embarking on the ranks of the coveted four digit milestone of how long I have been logging my exercise and food. Oddly enough, the impending success plagues me with fear that I will ultimately fail. Like that pesky nat annoyingly fluttering about, the wariness gnaws at me in the back of my mind. The fear of failure persists because the fact of the matter is, although I have reach my weight loss goal and thus far fended off falling prey to the statistics, there is still a plethora of opportunities for failure every single day, for the rest of my life.

Let me explain. I recently came across an article in “Women’s Health” on the 90s Canadian-American alternative rock singer-songwriter, guitarist, record producer, and actress Alanis Morissette. The interview expounded her years of battling with eating disorders and how she’s getting along now. One of the things Alanis mentioned expresses perfectly my perpetual fear of failure:

“The big question for me around eating-disorder recovery is, ‘What is sobriety with food?’ We know with alcohol, you just don’t drink it and don’t go to a bar. With heroin, you just don’t go near it. Whereas with food, you have to eat, so how can one go from, in my case, bingeing and purging, starving, overeating, the scale going up and down—how can I go from that to a ‘sober’ approach?”

Alanis’ question is a good one because our relationship with food is indeed complicated; especially for those who have succumb to its alluring effects for years and with great effort have quell it. It’s unlike any other obsessive behavior because we can’t go ‘cold turkey’, ‘tough it out’, or just avoid food. Similarly just because I have reached my goal and maintained, it doesn’t mean that I am struggle free. And the struggle often goes unrecognized by those in my immediate environment largely because they don’t completely understand why I continue my vigilance when I have reached goal.

This discrepancy of their perception and my reality often exposes me to feeling quite isolated, segregated, and a little bit like a social leopard. My saving grace has been building a support system online and it has remained my sole source of support as I have lost all my friends and the family is unable to differentiate toned & fit from an unhealthy anorexic thin. It’s a frustrating existence and I can’t help but to question why has my quest to become healthy driven people out of my life. Having never commented on what others chooses to eat or their weight, I simply am baffled at what I did wrong to end up to be such a social outcast. Then I came across this article on “Food Pushersand it shed some light on my misery that I thought I’d share.

Your Healthy Habits Makes Others on a Different Path Uncomfortable:

When you start living a brain-healthy life and losing weight, it can make those around you uncomfortable, especially if they are overweight or have a lot of bad brain habits of their own.

Deep down, some people—even those who love you the most—don’t want you to succeed because it will make them feel like more of a failure.

For others, their habits are so ingrained that they simply don’t know how to react to your new lifestyle.

It’s just mind boggling that my choices for me can put off so many people without me uttering one word. It’s an odd social phenomena and a rather unexpected side effect of pursuing a healthy lifestyle. As successful maintainers have all come to realize and accept, there is no finish line. So in order to continue to fend off from undoing all the work, I have to remain conscientious of my diet hence perpetuating my own social quarantine. It’s a hefty price to pay but one I would not seek a refund on.

TIP OF THE WEEK

Despite what people say, size does indeed matter! … especially when it comes to portion size. In order for me to not be size envy of other’s larger portions when we eat out, I balance it visually to minimize the difference.

For example: the other evening both the Hubs and I had the Chicken Carbonara from Piada Italian Street Food. He ordered the ‘regular’ size while I ordered the ‘small.’ As you can see from the two photos below there is a noticeable size difference and it’s easy for me to psychologically still be hungry afterwards even though I may not actually be.

IMAG2960

LEFT: Regular RIGHT: Small

IMAG2963

TOP: Small BOTTOM: Regular

JEDI MIND TRICK: My equalizer is to add a bunch of healthy fillers to make the entree overall seem more substantial. And I typically give myself free reign when it comes to vegetables used as fillers. (Meaning I don’t measure it)

IMAG2958

HEALTHY FILLERS: Diced Cucumber, Rainbow Chard, Leaf Lettuce, Spinach

And TA-DA! Now THAT’S a nice big bowl of chicken carbonara! I had plans to have desert after but I was SO full that I had to pass. A good problem to have.

IMAG2964

Small Chicken Carbonara 2/3 Fresh Chopped / Diced Vegetable Filler

HB Sig

Healthy Byte: iOS & Android App that Pays Your to be Healthy

2015 9-28

Boston app service pays users to live healthy

Trips to the gym and balanced meals can now offer more than health benefits, with the help of a new Boston-based service that pays users for their smart lifestyle choices.

Wellcoin, a service launched this week and marketed as the “world’s first health currency,” is a free app that lets iOS and Android users rack up store credit at businesses including Whole Foods, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Pure Barre.

“It creates a reward system,” said Wellcoin founder Dr. Glenn Laffel, a cardiologist who performed heart transplants at Brigham and Women’s Hospital for 13 years. “You can earn Wellcoins for a number of things: volunteer work, seeing a health professional, sleeping for seven hours, helping your child be healthy.”

“We’re not trying to cater to any particular community in health and wellness,” he added. “It’s welcoming and all-inclusive.”

Wellcoin has 14 employees. About 65 partners pay the company commissions. One thousand Wellcoins is the equivalent of $10.

Users can post their healthy activities and can provide four different forms of proof: photos, automated data from products such as Fitbit, or their friends or fitness instructors can back up their claims.

Nancy Sweatt, 40, of Newton, has been using the beta version for about a year and a half and has accumulated 166,000 Wellcoins, some of which she has spent on sport gear for her three kids.

“It gets my family involved. My kids are always thinking of new activities to post,” said Sweatt, who works as a physical therapist. “It definitely keeps me accountable.”

Originally Posted HERE

HB Sig

Bit of Fiction: Defamiliarization [1200 words]

2015 9-14 BoF2

Beauty in the Mundane

Unattended toddlers were left to their own devices frolicking about on the zero entry side, screaming and running to the constant roar of the lifeguard whistle. Their mothers took refuge at a safe distance from their rambunctious mayhem and the toddlers’ safety was under the sole mercy of a teen lifeguard preoccupied with the female lifeguard in the two piece from across the way.

The group of ladies arranged their chairs in a semi circular motif which would lead one to believe that they were huddled around a campfire nursing s’mores on sticks, but they were not. They were all rather impeccably well-groomed, ages ranging from late 30s to early 40s. The quintessential suburban moms had their mandated uniforms and norms, which consisted of Lexus SUV’s, oversized Michael Kors or Coach Bags, and black Lululemon black leggings.The PTO extraordinaires, the Heisman trophy winners of bake sales had an air of superiority to them, especially when it came to crossing paths with mothers who chose to work outside of the home. It was just like the cliques in high school when all the cool girls united in their collective coolness deliberately alienating those deemed not worthy to be in the company of their embodied coolness. ‘I wasn’t cool back then either,’ Marisol thought to herself with mild amusement. She regrettably was particularly well dressed due to a meeting with potential clients. And it was with even more regret that she had to clickity clack right passed the gaggle of gossiping ladies in her Nine West faux leather pumps in order to reach the other side where the lap lanes were. Marisol could not help but internally cringe with every step as her heels like a full arsenal of Clydesdale galloping down the side, the sounds embarrassingly prolonged by echoing off the surrounding tiles. She was painfully aware of how overdressed she was and the cool girls were all too inclined to confirm her assumption with the head-to-toe once over inspection, which women are keen in doling out to disavow other women.

She sat a few paces beyond the group, just close enough to where the 8 year old were taking their weekly lessons to observe without getting wet. This week they were reviewing breathing techniques in the freestyle before progressing on to mastering the complicated butterfly. The instructor was wiggling her hand in the air to simulate the body movement in a butterfly when Marisol’s attention was abducted.

“Did you hear about Emma?” one of the mothers said out of the blue.

“Yeees, O-M-G how terrible! I feel just awful for the family. We should do something for them,” one of the mothers responded.

“I know! I can’t believe it” another chimed in.

“Yes that’s an excellent idea. Let’s create a drive for the family and ask for donations” another replied.

“Maybe we can start a fund called the Emma Fund where people can donate cash if they don’t have the time to shop?” yet another mother interjected.

Then without prompting all of the ladies said in unison enthusiastically,  “bake sale!” followed by an overzealous laughter, which bordered on cackling. The conversation quickly turned to depict every minutia detail of the status of little Bobby’s potty training. Dreadfully, exceedingly, vivid details of the frequency, consistency, and size of his stools were all contemptuously shared as if this particular toddler’s feces could cure cancer. Marisol was one of the two captive audience members, the other was a father looking increasingly uncomfortable by the conversation on hand.

When the conversation seemed to have lulled, a particularly heavy set woman asked the lanky one how long she had planned to breastfeed and before the poor woman could respond, a hell’s gate worth of declarations boomed uncontrollably from the other mothers.

“One year,” one said proudly.

“Eighteen months,” boasted the other.

“Almost two years, but then I had to stop because my nipples just couldn’t take the teething” another bragged followed by a sleuth of uh-huhs and head nods.

Yet another triumphantly declared, “I’m still breastfeeding mine and he will be turning 3 next month!”

An exuberant amount of accolades erupted, “great job,” “wow,” with the occasional “you’re such an awesome mom.” Marisol stifled a laugh and couldn’t help but to roll her eyes at the women’s correlation that the length of breastfeeding is some sort of definitive measure of how awesome a mother was. The incessant revelations filled Marisol with such disenchantment. Is this really the conversations of her fellow women? The never-ending and idle chatter about poop, nipples, and comparing the length of breastfeeding as if they were competing for a mother of the millennium badge of courage?

Marisol let out a small sigh. There were very few moments when the decision of returning to work after the birth of her twin sons haunted Marisol but there was always a lingering doubt within her, like that nagging feeling that the stove was left on rushing out of the house. Then when she was treated to conversations of this caliber, any residual doubts quickly abandoned her with haste. She allowed herself a minute to let the noise of the clucking hens fade from her mind. She inhaled deeply and tried to breath in the moment, to capture the mundane so as to not to take it for granted. The overbearing aroma of the chlorine, the intolerable humid stale recycled air of the enclosure, the thunderous splashing as the instructor unleashes the new batch of fish in their assigned lap lanes. All quite ordinary and yet special when a mother doesn’t spend every waking minute of every day with their children.

Marisol redirected her attention to her eldest by 37 seconds. She observed his effortless movement through the water. She marveled at his graceful glide gently parting the water from his path. Every stroke had a balletic fluidity, even the manner in which his hands cupped the water escalating his momentum forward was filled with elegance. He tilted his upper torso every other stroke to restock his lungs with oxygen and his legs fiercely propelled him without breaking the water’s surface. The water his arms thrust behind him looked like diamonds being carelessly tossed in the air.

Then Marisol casually scanned over to two lanes over to observe the youngest. His speed easily outpaced his brother but without any of the charisma, or the fluidity, or the grace. His limbs thrashed about wildly conjuring small tidal waves in his wake, dousing the neighboring lanes. He pummeled and trounced his way through the water; and on several occasions over the summer, Marisol had to thwart lifeguards’ rescue attempts by calling out, “NO he is not drowning! YES, I am sure he is not drowning. Yes, he does know how to swim. Yes, he did pass the deep end test. And no, it’s just not very pretty.” There’s a certain unorthodox spastic quality to his technique. Reminiscent of the bumblebee. Just as the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly, he shouldn’t be able to move through the water at such a ferocious pace. But just like the non aerodynamic bumblebee, he defies all reasons and science and charges ahead of everyone in the class, every time.

Rong Rong Name Stamp