In recent years people have realized the importance of proper diet and exercise, and recent surveys show that over the last 20 years people are eating better and working out more often, resulting in people living longer, but people are still lacking in their understanding that their mental well being is just as important as their physical health.
Today most people get on average 4 to 6 hours of exercise every day, and make sure that everything they put in their mouths is not filled with sugars or preservatives, but they pay no attention to their mental health, no vacations, not even the occasional long weekend, 60 hour weeks, taking work home with them and even working weekends. All of this for hopes of one day getting that big promotion. What good will it do you when your brain overloads and you have a breakdown in the office.
In the end your physical health will suffer no matter how well you eat and how often you exercise. You will wind up with high blood pressure, stress and tension all of which raises the chances of you having a stroke or heart attack.
In hopes of helping you avoid this I am providing you with the things I do to keep my mental health in tip top condition.
My absolute favorite thing to do to refocus myself is to go for a long ride on my Harley. Nothing brings the world back into focus like riding free like the wind, there is no better forms of therapy as far as I am concerned.
Another great way to relieve the stresses in your life and help put a sparkle in your mental health is a trip to the casinos. Most people go to the casinos and expect to go home a winner, I do not. I go to have a good time.
I enjoy the skill required in
Posted in Mental Well Being
If you want to be a healthy person and live a long, fulfilling life, then healthy eating should certainly be a concern. Usually people just start thinking about it when they get older and their metabolism starts to slow down. But whether you’ve hit that point yet or not, you should not hesitate to figure out exactly what your body needs.
Instead of focusing on eliminating things from a poor diet, focus on adding healthy things to make it a healthy diet. There are many foods that are inherently healthy, and if you just try to eat a few of them with every meal, you’ll be on the right track. Fruits and vegetables are important, and you could practically be munching on them all day and still not eat enough. Whole grains and foods with plenty of nutrients are important, too. The USDA food pyramid is a good start to see if you are eating a proper variety of foods.
Once you add extremely healthy things to your diet, the unhealthy things might not seem so bad. It’s alright to eat junk food every once in a while, because your body quite frankly needs the sugar as much as it does any other thing. If you have a certain vice, such as drinking excessive amounts of soda, then you should work to reduce your intake in order to let things reach a healthy balance.
You need to figure out how many calories your body needs to get by on a daily basis. Some people burn calories at a monster rate, and that makes it very hard to gain weight. Other people burn calories at a low rate. These are the people that gain weight very easily. You need to figure out if you are one of these people, or in between. Give yourself a specific calorie number, like 1500 or 4000 or 2500. Then aim for that every day. It may require cutting back, or you may even need to eat an extra snack before bedtime.
This may seem slightly confusing, especially if you are new to healthy eating. Perhaps the best way to get started is to analyze your diet very closely for a week. Write down everything that you eat, and compare it to suggested intakes and nutrient amounts. When you do that, certain deficiencies will become shockingly clear, and you’ll have a better idea of what you can do to improve your diet. It can be hard to get rid of your poor dietary habits and get used to eating foods that you don’t enjoy that much. But it is definitely worth it in the end. Good luck.
Posted in Healthy Eating
Whether your traveling on the go or around the home, you don’t need to give up healthy eating simply because you are on the run. The fact is, healthy eating is even more important when your trying to keep up with a busy schedule.
Having a good diet will help your body to handle stress better. As you hustle about, a healthy meal is probably the last thing you think about. The following tips can help you eat when your on the go.
Restaurants With tempting menus, large portions, and a festive atmosphere, it’s easy to skip healthy eating. It’s okay to splurge every now and then, although you’ll pack on a lot of weight if you make it a habit.
When you eat out at restaurants, always be smart about it.
Airports An airport can be a very stressful place, although you should not scrap your diet because of it. Eat because you are hungry, not because of stress, boredom, or to kill time.
In your car Keep some healthy snacks in your car at all times, so that when you get hungry – you have them.
At home Evenings and mornings are busy times in most homes. Making the time to eat can be hard, although you should not run out the door without eating breakfast first. Cereal with milk, a banana, muffin, or even a bagel is a great way to start the day.
Anytime you are on the go, always make sure that you make the right food decisions. You can take healthy food with you if you need to, so that you have it when you need it. Eating healthy on the go is easy to do, once you know how. Never sacrifice healthy food for junk, as your body will regret it later.
Posted in Healthy Eating
Some people get all too concerned about aging and some to the extent that it becomes and obsession.
What is the net result of this? Well you might look a little younger but you still need to enjoy life along the way.
Most of the ways that you can use to make yourself look younger such as stopping smoking, or limiting your exposure to the sun, or fitness training and maintaining good health and nutrition will not only make you look better but they will also make you feel better and get more out of life.
Your energy levels should increase and you will have more time to do more of the things that you like.
You should enjoy your life all the more while looking better as an added bonus. If you do anything other than in moderation then you will negate the positive effects that are available to you.
Even over training can make you look older and leave you susceptible to injury.
Finding a balance in all that you do will keep you young in mind and body and that is why yoga is so effective at helping you to stay young.
I recall reading a book on a husband and wife team who focused their life on longevity. This book detailed all that they did with their extreme exercise and nutritional regime.
While their steps might (or might not) add to their life expectancy they certainly did not look very young for their age.
In fact their ‘extreme’ lifestyle made them look considerably older than the average person of the same age so it just goes to show you that more is not always better when it comes to anti aging programs.
Enjoyment and happiness will show on your face and the more you smile the more beautiful you will become, and besides, smiling does wonders for your face muscles.
Posted in Enjoy Life
A few days ago I was interviewed online by dozens of readers, in a fun Q&A on lifelong cognitive fitness, “mental capitalism”, and more. Here is the full transcript (lightly edited) for you to enjoy the conversation.
Rick Moody: Welcome to everyone from Rick Moody
AlvaroF: Please ask your questions! We had a fun session with Dr. Gary Small last time, and look forward to another good session today.
Steve: What are the products that you have reviewed, and what are their differences?
AlvaroF: Good question, but we need to start before products. The question is, what type of interventions produce what kind of results? We also track lifestyle options such as aerobic exercise, non-products such as meditation and cognitive therapy, technologies such as biofeedback. So, the starting point that everyone needs to understand how our brains work and what and why we need to enhance. Only then we can make informed decisions about what product, if any, makes sense.
(Editor’s Note: I did not have time to answer the question of what specific products were analyzed. The answer is: twenty one products developed by Nintendo, Learning Enhancement Corporation, Vivity Labs, Scientific Brain Training, Lumos Labs, CogniFit, Dakim, Posit Science, Cogmed, Houghton Mifflin,Scientific Learning, Applied Cognitive Engineering, NovaVision, HeartMath, Wild Divine, InterCure, Helicor.)
Rick Moody: I think this question is the big one, the one from consumers. It’s of great importance: how to give guidance to consumers?
AlvaroF: key is to engage and interest consumers in the fact that we all have brains and cognitions that deserve our attention. How to enhance then, how to maintain them…in the same way we take care of our bodies and even of our cars. Then, once consumers and engaged, they need to learn about what is possible and what not, and what tools are becoming available and how to best use them. The field is not about “magic pills” or general solutions, but options in our mental fitness toolkit. Interventions and products can “work” but we need to have realistic expectations about what “works” means
Peter Whitheouse: Please address the issue of generalizability of improvements from “programs” into daily life.
AlvaroF: Great question, Peter. The ultimate objective in my view is not to generalize but to transfer to real life outcomes. That’s why the questions needs to be, what life outcomes do I need to improve on, and then work backwards to figure out what intervention/s may make more sense.
Nasrin Lakhani: Are there any studies on brain function improvement with biofeedback intervention.
AlvaroF: Let me link this to Peter’s previous question. Biofeedback-based training may not “generalize” to overall intelligence, but certainly it can help to learn how to recognize and regulate stress and emotions better, which is a critical outcome in itself.
Kate: How soon should we start trying to maintain our brain health, and is it ever too late to try?
AlvaroF: Never too early, and never too late. The UK government run a major research project a few years ago and main takeaway was that everyone should invest in their own Mental Capital as early as possible. Because the objective here is not only the delay of disease/problems, but the enhancement of our wellness and productivity as citizens. Now, different age groups will of course have different priorities. Educational, workforce, driving safety, health-related…what we are talking about is a new framework and toolkit to enhance targeted capacities through life.
Peter Whitheouse: We need a new form of mental capitalism I guess.
AlvaroF: We are all mental capitalists.
Rick Moody: Here’s another thought. Can we begin to identify the typical pitfalls and mistakes that consumers make when they approach brain fitness products?
AlvaroF: Main problems: consumers buy what they don’t need, and don’t buy what they need. But we’re not even talking “brain fitness”, we’re talking supplements, books, classes, tapes… Information is power, and I think most people, not all, would benefit from first of all understanding the basics of cognition, and second what are some key pillars to enhance cognition, and third how can we use specific tools for specific purposes. Let me provide an example. One key ingredient for good mental exercise is: Challenge. It probably makes little sense for young minds to play more videogames, and older minds to play more crossword puzzles. The level of Challenge would be very limited, because they are already very familiar with those. But what if kids start doing crossword puzzles and older adults master new videogames?
Peter Whitheouse: How about schools and universities etc.? They seem to be in the brain health business.
AlvaroF: Couldn’t agree more! it is clear that education level is one of the main ingredients in building a protective cognitive reserve. Now, what they could be doing better to be full “brain health” providers would be to incorporate other aspects and tools, and eventually even assessments to pinpoint an individidual’s needs and best course of action.
Anna G.: Aren’t there ways of increasing brain health that are not products (i.e., fitness, self learning, nutrition, etc.) that are just as effective?
AlvaroF: Yes, we jumped into the product discussion too early. In the book we start with a much more comprehensive discussion of main lifestyle factors, and of “nonproduct” brain training techniques such as meditation. Now, products also play a role. And a key takeaway is that most interventions do NOT substitute each other, but they AUGMENT each other.
Peter Whitheouse: Where do we spend out money individually and socially for best value?
AlvaroF: BIG question….as an overall theme I’d say, Spend more time and money on noninvasive interventions that build capacity. The starting point in all this is that day after day we see how malleable core mental abilities such as attention, working memory, self-regulation, processing…are. So, let’s all be mental capitalists by investing in our capacities. This framework is different, but complements, the standard medical model based on diseases.
Anand Deoskar: I think a really interesting question is what stimulates individuals to think? What is the key motivating factor for each individual to apply their brains to speak up, to challenge themselves..
AlvaroF: Great question. Last year Marian Diamond opened our annual virtual conference. After the conference we had lunch and I asked her, what do you think is the most important personal characteristic you’d like everyone to have? Her answer: curiosity. Curiosity will drive us to learn, and master new realities, and thinking come handy then.
Nasrin Lakhani: How would you finish the phrase “Investing in our mental capacities causes/enables…………”
AlvaroF: …enhanced wellness, control of one’s destinies, and longer productive lives. It also helps protect against decline by delaying it (not preventing it).
Guest: Alvaro, Have you had any communication with insurance companies to see if they intend to pay wellness dollars for people to take brain health and wellness courses? They frequently pay for gym memberships for physical fitness are they getting active in mental fitness?
AlvaroF: Yes, and no. Insurance companies now see this mainly as a marketing opportunity if more consumers show they care about this, the insurers will follow. A few of them are doing their own trials to see if they’d like to offer products for free or reimburse them, but it is still in the very early stages. The key is that consumers keep driving interest otherwise, insurers say they have a trillion other important things to do. The same goes for payers and providers: consumer interest can motivate them to take action, and that would help enhance the rationality and maturity of the field.
Gerard Finnemore: Another issue is that the medical profession (often in the role of gatekeepers) tend to be skeptical about cognitive training/enhancement. Usually, this is due to ignorance.
AlvaroF: Well, yes and no. Sure, there’s much ignorance about cognition (please ask your doctor to define what “working memory” is), but also they play an important role to protect from the usual nonsense consumers are exposed to.
Rick Moody: This is one step in a long journey…Bye to all
Copyright (c) 2011 SharpBrains
Posted in Mental Well Being
Figures just released by the UK’s Soil Association show that sales of organic food dropped by around £100 million in 2010 in stark contrast to its earlier predictions that the sector would recover by between 2% and 5% in 2010.
The decline in sales is being attributed to consumers hit by rising prices choosing cheaper produce.
However, according to the organic food industry’s trade body the Organic Trade Board, the decline in sales slowed to approximately 2% in the second half of 2010.
Sales of organic fresh fruit, vegetables were hardest hit, declining by 6.3% and organic meat sales were down by 5.8%. Producer numbers also declined from 7,896 to 7,567 during 2010.
However, some organic sectors did well, notably sales of organic baby foods increasing by 10.3% and of textiles increasing by 7.8%. Textiles, particularly, have been boosted by their promotion in two well-known high street clothing chains.
All this suggests that while there is an appetite for healthy, fresh, chemical-free food, price is a primary consideration for shoppers, especially at a time of economic difficulty, when people are concerned at rising household bills and also about the future of their jobs.
In view of the predictions that farming yields and food production will need to rise dramatically to meet the predicted population growth of nine billion by 2050, farmers at all levels, from the smallest to the largest, will need far more support if they are to achieve this target in a sustainable way without further depleting their land’s fertility.
Currently oil prices are going through the roof because of the political instability throughout North Africa and the Middle East, and oil is, in any event a finite resource in the same way as land. Neither can be expanded indefinitely to meet the increasing demand.
Scientific research and development are likely to play an important role in providing farmers with the tools they need. Biopesticides Developers are likely therefore to play a key role by providing low-chem agricultural products to replace the previous generation of artificial, chemical-based pesticides and fertilisers that are heavily dependent on oil.
So the innovations in producing biopesticides and biofungicides that are based on natural enemies to plant predators, pests and diseases offer a positive way forward to meet the goal of increasing production to provide affordable, healthy food.
Yield enhancers derived from natural sources will also help. The three elements should provide the agricultural products farmers will need to reduce crop wastage and boost yield. They will also help them achieve sustainable farming methods and introduce regimes of integrated pest management.
Backed up by a more efficient regulatory mechanism to get the new low-chem agricultural products registered and licensed in Europe, as they are in the USA, and with access to training in their use, particularly for the small farmers who are the backbone of food production in many parts of the world, it is possible to be more optimistic about the future of farming and food production and about being able to provide consumers with healthy food choices that are also affordable.
Copyright (c) 2011 Alison Withers
Posted in Healthy Eating
Growing up I was taught there is no such thing as a free lunch. We all want things that are free in life and most people would love to find some quality free resources when it comes to planning your weight loss goals. If you were to carry out a search on Google using the term “free weight loss program on the net” you will be amazed at the amount of results that you get for this search.
Today there are many places on the net that can provide you with a great collection of free weight loss resources that will help you in achieving your goals. There are so many web sites to check out you could waste a lot of your time trying to decide which sites will really help you out with your weight loss goals. But in order for you to be successful you need to find the best free weight loss plan that will best suit your needs.
Many of the better free weight loss plans will provide you with the following: –
1. Discussion Groups. This is a place where you can meet up with like-minded people who are also trying to lose those extra pounds. During such discussion groups you will be able to ask questions and get advice from those in the know all for free.
2. Body Fat Calculator. This is a great tool when looking to set up a weight loss program as this tool will help to determine just how much body fat you have and just how much of it you will need to lose. Again there is no need to pay a fee to use this handy tool.
3. A good free weight loss program on the net will offer to provide you with details relating to the types of foods that you can eat as well as providing you with healthy recipes. They will often have a database that has been set up providing you with lots of different low fat recipes that you may well want to try.
4. Any good free weight loss program will have a professional at hand who will be able to answer any questions that you may have through their discussion groups that were previously mentioned above.
Today there are many different types of free weight loss programs on the many web sites around, but by keeping in mind the points above you should find one that really suits your requirements.
Posted in Healthy Eating
There comes a time when you pause or stop what you’re doing in order to reflect, remember or ponder about your life. You might have gone through an especially difficult time such as the death of a loved one, an accident, an illness, a disease, a divorce or any other traumatic situation. This is the time when you find yourself meditating to become clearer and more centered, contemplating in order to understand or arriving at a resolution regarding the issues that are confronting you.
You may look back, reminisce and contemplate about the choices, decisions and the ways in which you have lived your life. You wonder about how your life would have turned out if you had made different, better and wiser choices and decisions. Would your life have been better? Would you have met and/or married a different person? Would you have had a different occupation? Would different opportunities have opened up for you? There have been many times when I felt I could have made better decisions in my life. The following is an example of what happened to me when I was in my early-to-mid twenties.
As a young mother of four very young children, I was very busy taking care of their basic needs that I did not spend enough quality time with them. I did not stop to enjoy the little things that happened every day. I was busy all of the time. I cooked, cleaned, did the shopping, took my children to their extracurricular activities and to their doctor and dentist appointments. The list goes on and on. I basically did what I thought I was supposed to do to be a good mother. I made sure that everything ran smoothly.
One day when I was especially overwhelmed I remember speaking with my mother over the telephone . I told her that I couldn’t wait until my children were grown up. I said that it seemed like it was taking forever. Her words of wisdom was that I should enjoy my children when they were young because before you know it they will be grown with lives of their own. They will not need you the way that they need you now. Then you will be left with the fond memories of the time when they were young. Create those memories now and spend more quality time with them.
I heard the words but I did not internalize what they really meant. I chose not to listen to my mother’s advice. I hadn’t known how much truth there was in her advice until years later, when my children grew up. I looked back on my life and their lives regretting the time that I spent being too busy instead of focusing on what really mattered. I regretted ignoring many of the daily celebrations of my children’s lives because I was too busy. I truly missed out on a lot even though I was the one who raised them. The time when my children were young was indeed much too brief, just like my mother had said. It seems like time just flew by. Now my children are grown up and now I know the lesson.
Hindsight is 20/20. When you look back on your life, many times you feel that you could have made better choices if you knew then what you know now. Experience is a great teacher if we learn the lessons so we don’t repeat the painful experiences again. Well, I understand the lesson that my mother was trying to convey to me. I understood it when I became a grandmother.
Even though I loved being a mother, being a grandmother was different. I’m not responsible for every aspect of my grandchildren’s lives anymore but I am able to just love and enjoy my two grandchildren. I am able to give them my full attention and to celebrate each and every milestone in their young lives. I choose to spend quality time with them. I now fully realize that a child is a gift from God. A gift to be loved, nurtured,listened to, understood and enjoyed. Every child is precious. Every moment is to be cherished. Every moment counts.
I learned a valuable life lesson from my mother and my children. I learned that life is a precious gift that should not be taken for granted. Each moment cannot be repeated. Be present and live your life to the fullest. Make the most of every day of your life so there are no regrets!
Posted in Enjoy Life
Anxiety is a complicated thing. Anxiety can easily make an otherwise very happy and healthy person become quite the opposite. Depression and physical sickness can quickly set in as a result of anxiety. Let’s take a much more detailed look at anxiety and its physical and mental signs and symptoms.
Physical symptoms of anxiety:
Have you ever looked at a person and just knew immediately that they were suffering from some sort of anxiety? Perhaps he or she looked haggard, stressed, unhappy, or mentally exhausted. If you did not already know it — physically, anxiety can make you very ill. Anxiety over events in your life can cause ever illness from Irritable Bowel Syndrome to heat problems to the common cold. You can become physically ill from anxiety because it actually lowers your immune system’s ability to fight off infections or bacteria. Anxiety strains the heart, and can cause rapid or irregular heartbeat. Severe, recurring and untreated anxiety can ultimately lead to heart attack and stroke.
If you look at a person with severe anxiety, you may be able to see the wrinkles in his or her forehead, the seemingly permanent grimace on the face, and black circles under the eyes. Severe anxiety can also cause him or her to be over or under their normal weight. This is because anxiety often does one of the two things: causes binge eating (which is when a person frequently overeats to deal with stress) or under eating (which is when stress completely wipes out a person’s appetite and they are unable to gain any appetite).
There are other physical symptoms of anxiety that can be found in the manifestation of other mental illnesses. For example, in people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), severe anxiety can cause a flareup of highly obsessive behaviors. A person who is worried about something may obsessively repeat routines in order to alleviate the stress that they are under. Repetition is often a stress reducer for some with OCD. A chronically depressed person, on the other hand, may have a different reaction to anxiety. They may find it impossible to get out of bed in the morning, and therefore miss a great deal of time at work or school. You may notice that these people are physically absent from their usual activities.
Mental symptoms of anxiety:
Mental symptoms of anxiety are stressful to those who struggle with it. Those who suffer from extreme anxiety may find it nearly impossible to focus on anything except the thing that they are anxious or stressed over. It may seem that no matter what they try to focus on, their thoughts always come back to the same negative things. This can cause a highly depressed state in a person suffering from anxiety. It can also cause a person to have a mental breakdown and be unable to preform the day-to-day tasks that they usually do.
Mentally, anxiety can cause a person to become totally changed. Someone who once used to go out and be social with friends may now be a homebody, unwilling to talk much to others. Severe anxiety can cause mood swings, One minute a person an be content, and the next minute they can be completely unreasonable. Anxiety can cause a person to be unusually quite, distracted, and disorganized. The anxiety can be so overwhelming, that the person suffering from it may not want to explain it to others. In fact, it may seem almost impossible for the person suffering from it to even put it into words. Overall, anxiety is an extremely difficult thing for a person to deal with mentally and physically. If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms or have reason to believe that you are chronically stressed, it is in your best interest to seek the help of a mental health professional right away.
Posted in Mental Well Being
The film “Upsize Me” clearly showcases what America has been doing to itself in the recent years, killing their body with an unhealthy lifestyle fuelled by greasy, carbo-laden junk food. While diets and healthy eating are greatly promoted and followed nowadays, the allure of burgers, pizzas, milkshakes and fries just couldn’t be ignored; there is just something that’s so great about them, the Taste.
Our body is very dependent on what we eat and how much food we consume. Food is essential to our system, the energy it supplies is essential to the operation of every system in our body. But too much of one thing will develop into an overload which our body cannot handle. It is vital to protect this system or it will break down.
Unhealthy foods are more difficult for our body to digest. This doesn’t allow for the nutrients to be fully absorbed by the body. Chemical changes occur can be damaging to our body.
Healthy eating allows us to know what to eat, when to eat, how to eat. It is not just what you eat but also how you eat them. A relaxed method of eating in a slow deliberate manner allows our body to process the food well.
A well-balanced healthy eating diet allows us to have a healthier body and a healthier lifestyle. As we grow accustomed to healthy eating, we can notice major changes on not only the way we look, but as well as how we feel.
Having a healthy body allows a person to feel more confident about him or her self providing a better outlook in life. The benefits are boundless, healthy eating is an option that no one will ever regret taking.
Posted in Healthy Eating