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January 2012 (141 posts)
Which is why it's so wonderful to hear about the Rahimi sisters, my new favorite teenagers ever. According to an article in The Globe and Mail, these girls train 3 times a week in a gritty gym once used by the Taliban for public punishments, hoping to qualify for the Olympic games and eventually win the gold for their country. As the Globe reports, "Female boxing is still relatively unusual in most countries, but especially in Afghanistan, where many girls and women still face a struggle to secure an education or work, and activists say violence and abuse at home is common."
Under the Taliban sports were prohibited for women, so the thought of an Afghani team heading to the Olympics is pretty incredible. And how great that it's a super-tough sport like boxing! The very existence of these female fighters challenges stereotypes that have had a dangerous foothold in this part of the world. As the girls' coach Mohammad Saber Sharifi said, "We want to show the world that Afghan women can be leaders, too; that they can do anything – even boxing,” their coach. And you must see the full article for an awesome photo of the girls in action. Ka-pow!
Read About More Amazing Girls:
The Homecoming Queen/Football Star
The Fossil-Finding First-Grader
Behold: The Daily Beast's 31 Ways to Get Smarter in 2012. Click through the slide show for some encouraging, invigorating tips. Eating dark chocolate and drinking coffee? Yes, please. Also recommended are checking out iTunes U and Shakespeare plays, learning a new language, and playing violent video games (really!). Some of the suggestions we've all heard before, like playing word games to increase your mind's agility, and some (writing reviews online!) are unexpected. Take a sip of coffee and click on over. That's right. We're getting smarter already.
Boost Your Brain By:
Alert your book club! The most anticipated books of 2012.
In case you were getting overwhelmed trying to find the perfect work of affordable art/vintage thingy/owl tote bag, here are the 10 great Etsy shops you need to know.
"The self-contained snowstorm": A brief history of everyone's favorite souvenir.
Master 3 new dishes. Invest in cookbooks. How to make this the year you actually cook something other than spaghetti.
The Life-Lifter: Sometimes you just have to love the world, because you know what? There are things such as high-design shelters for homeless cats.
Men! What are they thinking? We can't always answer that, but we'll be posting our favorite glimpses into their world in this space every Thursday.
* How one J. Crew suit became a uniform and a calling card. (The Observer)
* An oldie but a goodie: Malcolm Gladwell dug up a photo of himself from his high school track championship, and it is worth a look. (Gladwell.Typepad.com)
* Who is fashion photographer Patrick Demarchelier's preferred subject? As he tells the Telegraph, "When people ask me which is your favourite portrait... they expect it to be Diana, or someone famous. But the answer is my dog, Puffy. They think I mean Puff Daddy. No, it is the dog." (The Telegraph)
Now we're all our own parents, and there are so many things we don't want to do. Like wake up at 6 in the morning and pay the bills we ignored the night before (whoops, slept in) or get to the gym as we publicly vowed to do in 2012 while tipsy on New Year Eve. Luckily, A new service called Gym Pact, which appeared in the New York Times this week has come to our aid, using an app that mimics my dad's old fashioned method. Basically you sign up on your smart phone and register how many days you want to commit to working out. The gym's computers are linked to the app, so if you don't go, you get fined $5. If you do go, you get paid—that's right, paid!—an amount that's determined each week by pooling and dividing all the money collected from no-goers. Right now that's about $1.50 a week, or $6 a month—an amount that I will try to spend on organic kale or carrots, but will probably spend on...jelly beans.
7 things not to wear to the gym
4 workout mistakes and how to fix them
Last week, NPR reported that a French physicist figured out why. By reproducing its area in this precise way, a tree is best able to withstand high winds and not fall over during storms and hurricanes. The writer suggested that architects and engineers might use its structure as a model for constructing buildings. I, however, am beginning to think I may need to use it as model for dealing with life. I'm no Renaissance-era genius, but it seems to me what the tree is doing is divvy the amount of space it takes up in the world—getting smaller and more flexible, the further it gets from its sturdy center, so that that it can sway when stressed.
These days, I have a pretty good idea of what lies my own sturdy center: kids, husband, job. About these things I am rigid. There must be time made for them, period! This has come about as a result of a brutal learning process, during which I had previous thought a lot of other things (say, my buckling tile bathroom) were also at my center. Sadly, they are not, and my first impulse was to chop all those other things off. No time to see friends for dinner? Then just don't have friends. No time to shop? Just wear your old bras until your babysitter sees the black one in the dirty laundry basket and thinks it's a part of a ripped spiderweb costume. But the truth is, these lesser things need to remain on the tree or you'll end up broken and blown away. The trick probably is finding the right branch for each expectation: a stout one for my friends (meet them for a quick coffee instead of dinner), a slender bendy one for my new bras (order several online and count on at least one fitting), and even a potentially breakable tiny twig for the bathroom tile (fix it next year...or maybe never). Not only will the structure protect you from high winds and stress, but it might also protect anybody who'd like to lean against you.
How to tell if your bra fits
The stress-detector test
Stay warm without doing your Michelin Man impression: Cute, practical winter coats.
Can't think of just the right word? The Visual Thesaurus works the way your brain does. Only a little bit smarter.
One white room + thousands of stickers + enthusiastic children = joyful, beautiful art.
The Life-Lifter: It's the best news of the new year! Why the Mayan prophecy about the end of the world is simply an ancient version of Y2K. (Phew.)
Neither Parker-Pope or the Bridges are complaining, but Slate writer L.V. Anderson thinks that they're taking the wrong approach. She believes medical professionals should focus on getting fat people to adopt healthy behaviors, not drop pounds, and she says the food-obsessed, calorie-conscious lifestyles Parker-Pope describes of those who have been able to keep the weight off remind her of anorexic eating disorders. Other readers who believe they're fitter than they look, and resent the idea of measuring each day by bites taken and then burned off, agree. But as we've read many times during this first week of the new year, resolutions need to be specific to work. The trick is finding indicators of health and wellness that are as easy to measure as pounds on a scale, and things we can do to get healthy that are as straightforward as counting calories.
Fortunately, Dr. Oz has come up with a 28-day plan of small changes you can make to live a longer, fuller life that don't have anything to do with traditional diets, starting with drinking green tea and even eating some dark chocolate.
Dr. Oz's on how to renew your mind, body and soul
Study shows what's really causing the weight to come back
Which is why these 4 dishes are just what you need this week: They're meatless, yes. But they're also savory, warm, filling, and a lot easier to make than a big, meaty dinner.
Take these Brown Rice and Lentil Burgers, for one. Shiitake and cremini mushrooms add a steak-like flavor; topped with some Bibb lettuce and, okay, a slice of aged white Cheddar, they make for decadent meal you can feel good about eating. This Healthy Mac and Cheese recipe has a creamy sauce that relies on an unlikely ingredient: that cold-weather superstar, pureed butternut squash (it adds sweetness and heft). And Lisa Oz's Cornmeal-Crusted Tofu with Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Lemony Kale Salad highlight more winter workhorses...while keeping you on the light track.
Cristina Ferrare's favorite vegetarian cookbooks
Dining at the Oz family's house
A vegan starter kit