Thursday, January 3, 2013

Posts that Could Change Your Life

What if one or two little tweaks could transform your life? Instead of spending years in therapy, hours a week on the treadmill, gagging down whole grains every day, or tearing your hair out over a positive test for an illness, it's possible that making a few little changes could change everything.

I've added a list of posts that could do this for a lot of people (see the list below my profile). Don't worry, there's nothing to buy. You might need to check out a library book and do some N=1 experiments on yourself. Overall, these should save you time and decrease your aggravation.

Cardio: A Waste of Valuable Dance Time. Actually, there's a school of thought that cardio is a waste of any kind of time (unless you enjoy it). Sure, you burn calories, but you move less later and get hungrier. Studies have shown that it's not effective for losing weight. I don't do cardio (I lift weights instead) and don't need to lose weight. That wasn't the case when I was on a higher-carb diet: I was working out hard six times a week (three cardio sessions and three weight lifting sessions) and I was gaining weight! (See photos here.) Just think about all the time you could be napping, reading or playing video games--I mean, helping science instead of pounding the treadmill. If you want to sweat, take a dance class at a night club. If you need some flow in your life (flow being "the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity, according to Wikipedia), this is one way to get it. It's even more fun than it looks.

Lousy Mood? It Could be the Food. It's counterintuitive, but your mind is really your brain, which is part of your body. Without the proper nutrients, it doesn't work properly. It might make you dumber; it definitely affects your mood. Ever notice how your coworkers are lethargic around 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon? It's likely falling blood sugar from a high-carb lunch a few hours earlier. Ever feel depressed on a low-fat diet? It's not just you--even comedian Tom Naughton said it happened to him. It happens to me on anything but a high-fat, low carb diet.

Positive Test? Avoid a Nightmare by Using Math. Here's one that even regular readers might not know about. Suppose you're asymptomatic but have a positive test for an illness. What are the odds you actually have the illness? It actually depends on some statistics and a little arithmetic (don't worry, it's not as hard as it sounds). Check out Calculated Risks by Gerd Gigerenzer. If you've had a positive test, you may have reason for cautious optimism.

Why You Can't Cure a Sugar Habit with Starch. Here, chemistry meets common sense. Those lovely complex carbohydrates are made of sugar molecules, which is what your digestive system breaks them into. Health-conscious people want to avoid sugar. Yet so many of them eat complex carbohydrates. If you're spinning your wheels substituting starch for sugar, it isn't your fault.

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