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health (209 posts)
Aston told USA Today that she hopes to share what she learned with others about perseverance. "Keeping going is the important thing, persevering, no matter how messy that gets," she said. That's what we'd expect to hear from a record-breaking athlete (especially one who competes in frigid, punishing conditions), and honestly, we already know that when things get tough, we need to put our head down and charge against the wind. The more surprising and meaningful message that I'm going to take from Aston's Twitter reports is that when we slog through the messiness, we also need to remember to pick up our heads, to look for the sun, and to let ourselves gasp at beauty even as we're panting from exhaustion. (And also maybe to sum up the experience in 140 characters and snap a stunning photo to inspire others).
I was reminded of this when I read the fascinating blog post, "Are Your Eyes Also a Window to Your Brain?" Smithsonian Innovations blogger Randy Rieland writes of a recent study which "suggests that who a person is relates to how they move their eyes. In this case, the scientists found that people they identified as more 'curious'–based on their answers to survey questions–also were more likely to be the ones whose eyes moved freely around photos they were asked to view. Their eyes, it seemed, were true to their curious nature."
Doesn't it make you wonder how your eyes move? And whether or not it works the other way around? If I want to be a more curious, thoughtful person, do I just make an effort to move my eyes around more? It can't hurt to try, I suppose. Tonight, instead of turning into Facebook-zombies, perhaps I should try studying some pictures, perhaps even, you know, reading a book. I may just be surprised at how much I start to see.
Rieland's comprehensive post offers a wealth of interesting facts and findings about eyes–including how our eye movements reveal our personalities and skills.
How Brain Science Can Change Our Lives
The Neuroscience of Gratitude
If you have a question, send it to us!
Q: I've started to worry about old-lady bones. What can I do to keep mine strong?
You know Bob Greene loves this question, right? It not only shows that you're proactive (bone density, like height, fertility, and, Jane Fonda reassures us, self-consciousness, decreases with age), but it also gives him a chance to praise the virtues of something he's been passionate about for over 30 years: vigorous exercise. "When you're working out hard the body doesn't say, 'This person is already 50; time to throw in the towel,'" says Bob. "It says, 'Whoa! This is still an active individual whose muscles and bones aren't meeting the challenges that are being imposed on it. Let me make those physiological changes.'" But when it comes to bone-building, not all exercises are created equal. The moves must force you to work different parts of your body against gravity, and muscle pulling on bone will trigger specialized cells to begin building more bone. Bob's favorites include jogging for at least 30 minutes ("Amazing for building more bone in the legs," he says), a weight routine with overhead presses, squats and lunges (you can do these strength-training moves at home) and hiking uphill with a pack ("This strengthens the muscles around the spine," he says). Are none of these working for you? Perhaps you're injured, or you don't live near the mountains, or you're just looking for something you haven't heard before. Well, Bob's got more ideas:
Power Shot: Nothing dampens a day like realizing your phone is completely out of juice. The Innergie PocketCell is a sleek rechargeable battery that can quickly power up your portables, giving you another 15 hours on your cell phone or 4.5 hours on your iPad. Toss it in your purse and you can finally stop hunting for outlets while you’re out and about. ($80)
Health Boost: In this month’s O mag, Dr. Oz discusses the health benefits of walking 10,000 steps a day, and mentions that the Fitbit pedometer is particularly good for people who like to dig into their data. The company’s new Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale takes tracking even further, letting users record their weight, body mass index, and fat percentage over a period of time. It even syncs wirelessly with users’ online accounts, so comparing steps taken with pounds lost is super-easy. ($130)
Sneaky Peek: Have I ever wasted time at work daydreaming about what kind of frolicking antics my cats must be up to, at home alone all day? No comment. But let’s just say that the DropCam is all kinds of intriguing for people who want to spy on their own homes: The tiny camera is a snap to set up, it has night vision and recording capabilities, and you can watch the video in real time on your iPhone, Android, or Kindle Fire. Watch out for the two-way audio, though—my cooing scared the cats. ($150)
Game On: My five-year-old niece adores the iPad, but watching that pricey piece of machinery dangle from her diminutive hands is enough to make my own palms sweat. Enter the GameChanger. This clever docking station turns the iPad into a stationary board game, with two fold-out sides that are touch sensitive. Different “game skins” make it easy to switch between the two available games, Scholastic’s Magic School Bus and Animal Mania, with more skins in the works. ($60)
When I manage to drag myself to the gym, I usually have about the charisma of a mole. I start to sweat before I even get on the treadmill, I spend a long time finding some trashy tv show to watch on the screen, I pant and moan, then I start the treadmill, then I look around anxiously to see if anyone is disapproving of how out of shape I am. It's very inspirational.
But all that is about to change, for I have seen the light. And the light looks like this:
This woman is having FUN. At the GYM. Not only does she make a jog on the treadmill look totally enjoyable and graceful, she does it with completely unselfconscious panache. I loved her after I saw this video, and then I loved her a little more when I saw this interview with her, in which she explains how the video came to be (not as creepy as it seems), and says that she was happy with it going viral because she hoped it would help people get inspired "to start living a healthier life," to get out there and work out, even if they struggle to lose weight as she has.
It's an inspiration just to see a non-Beyonce-body mastering Beyonce-moves, and a reminder that yes, working out can be fun—for any of us.
7 Exercises That Are Really Fun
How to Defuse Your Exercise Excuses
We haven't quite been able to figure that out, but there's some solace in knowing we aren't the only ones: as Daniel Smith writes in the New York Times Opinionator Blog, we are living in the Age of Anxiety. Smith, author of the memoir The Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety, writes, "it is undeniable that ours is an age in which an enormous and growing number of people suffer from anxiety...anxiety [is] the most common psychiatric complaint by a wide margin, and one for which we are increasingly well-medicated. Just because our anxiety is heavily diagnosed and medicated, however, doesn’t mean that we are more anxious than our forebears. It might simply mean that we are better treated."
Even without medication, the anxious among us can control our feelings, or at least our reactions to them. As Smith writes, "Anxiety begins with a single worry, and the more you concentrate on that worry, the more powerful it gets, and the more you worry. One of the best things you can do is learn to let go: to disempower the worry altogether." Public pre-K spots be damned! In the words of my favorite (underrated!) reality TV star, "Everything is going to allllllll right."
Breaking the Cycle of Anxiety
A long, stressful day at work or canceled dinner plans is all it takes for me to toss my eat-healthier resolution out the window and dive, frazzled and hungry, for the nearest take-out menu. And a household of specific dietary needs (vegetarian for me, gluten-free for my spouse) only adds another hurdle to getting a quick, no-guilt dinner on the table. Luckily, the freezer aisle has expanded way beyond salisbury steaks and limp lasagna, to flavorful meals that also cater to special diets. Whether you're gluten-free, dairy-free, or vegetarian, you have more healthy options than ever before. Here are six brand new ones worth considering:
Evol Bean & Cheese Enchilada Bowl (vegetarian, gluten-free)
Mourning the loss of burritos on your gluten-free diet? Dry your eyes and open wide: Evol layers pinto beans, cilantro-lime rice, cheddar cheese, and roasted corn between layers of corn tortillas.
Healthy Choice Grilled Mediterranean Vegetables and Rice (vegetarian)
We love the uptick in non-pasta options for vegetarians in the frozen aisle. This entrée, part of a new line inspired by Top Chef, spotlights grilled eggplant, broccoli, and tomato over barley and rice.
Amy’s Teriyaki Wrap (vegan, gluten-free)
Take a break from Amy’s much-beloved mac-and-cheese and try this tasty mix of organic tofu, brown rice, and broccoli. The wheat-free wrap, made from rice and garbanzo flours, has a rich flavor and slightly spongy texture, which keeps the filling moist.
The good news is that the study authors stressed the brain is "plastic" and can snap back from the small changes. The goal should be controlling stress in the present to keep the brain supple and prepared for the future. Here are 7 simple suggestions of how to do this from Dr. Oz (and surprisingly, none involve yoga).
More advice on managing stress:
The Benefits of Friendship
Is the Way You Breathe Bad for Your Health?
LG says the fridge will be available in the US this summer for a suggested retail price of $3,299. This is at the high end (refrigerators range anywhere from $350 for a junior stacked fridge to over $4,000 for gourmet or custom models), and there's no guarantee that the suggested recipes are lip-smackingly delicious. But the thing we appreciate about this fridge is that when you think about it, most futuristic appliances are of the don't-lift-a-finger model (e.g., the industrious, overly helpful robots in WALL-E that turned humans into lazy, squishy blobs). We applaud the idea of a kitchen appliance that can potentially help make our lives not just easier, but less squishy-blob-ish.
Quiet, tidy, easy to use, and able to separate pulp from juice, this sleek juicer uses patented low-speed technology to extract maximum nutrients, vitamins, enzymes, and taste from fruits and vegetables. Best of all, it comes recommended by Dr. Oz!
(Hurom Slow Juicer, $360; williams-sonoma.com)
Combat hot flashes with these clever pearl necklaces, which contain nontoxic gel that gets cold in the freezer. Who said menopause isn't pretty?
(Pearls, originally $55, now $47, and insulated travel purse, originally $10 now $8.50 with code OPRAH; hotgirlspearls.com)
Keep Reading: 10 more healthy items we love