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Tag Archives for " Cognition "
14

Small Steps Lead to Big Changes

Alexandra Williams, MA

By now, you probably know our mantra of “Small Steps lead to Big Changes” if you’ve read our past posts or attended any of our conference presentations. This phrase applies to more than exercise, of course. Any part of your life that you want to change can probably adhere to this principle of incremental steps.

Painted logs under a cloudy skyWe talked about the cognitive benefits of change in Train Your Brain. We even discussed how to make a chart for getting from A to Z, or 0 to 10, or from here to there (okay, Seuss lovers, what book is that from?) – however you want to put it.

Today I am going to talk about how small steps led me to possibly making more money. Yup, financial benefits come from change. *rubs checkbook between fingers*

I love exercise, as it does so much for me. But (contrary to what some people believe) exercise isn’t my whole life. Though I’ve never considered myself creative, I do like to bake, write and travel. But never have I been able to take a good picture. The whole concept of photography totally overwhelmed me, just as I’m sure it’s overwhelming for some of you to consider adding movement to your life.

paraglider at the beachBut I went from barely understanding my iPhone camera to becoming a pro photographer, as of today. All by incremental steps and with encouragement. Essentially, I asked for a camera for my birthday, signed up for classes at the community college, did the homework, practiced and practiced, asked for and took advice to improve, then submitted my photos to a stockhouse that licenses out the rights for usage, and today I got accepted. I may never sell a single photo (I will work at it, though), but I have become competent, and confident that I can and will improve and succeed. The steps I took to learn photography aren’t of interest; my mental process is what might resonate with you.

See if you’ve ever had similar thoughts, substituting movement for photography.

“I want to become a photographer, but I have no idea where to start”
“I’ll ask for a camera for my birthday because then I’ll HAVE to do something”
“Okay, now that I have a camera, I at least should read the manual”
”Hm, this is intimidating, and I want to do it right, without wrecking my camera”
“I signed up for a class, so that I can learn to do it right, AND because now I’ll have to go since I paid”
“Aargh, this is so confusing. I just KNOW that everyone here knows more than I do”
“Wow, the teacher noticed how hard I’m working. That’s cool”
“Another student in class asked me for help today. Haha. She must think I know something”
“Now that I’ve taken my camera with me nearly every day, and taken thousands of pictures, I’m starting to understand a bit more”
“The teacher encouraged me (okay, and everyone else) to submit my photos to a stockhouse that licenses photos for MONEY. I just might try. The worst is that they’ll say no”
“I submitted my photos, and they were all accepted on the very first try. I can stop feeling like a poseur. Poseurs don’t get accepted to a professional stockhouse”
“I feel really happy with myself. I had a goal and I did it. Time for a new goal – learn nighttime photography”

Mussel on the sandDoes this process sound familiar? Even me, with all my confidence, had so many doubts. But I wanted to be successful badly enough to keep at it and risk being… what? The same as I was? Worse? The only way to be worse was if I had berated myself for not trying. It’s not like I would have become a worse photographer after trying. I might have just had no talent for it. But I would have still been successful because I tried instead of dithering (I just like to say “dithering.” Probably from an overdose of BBC shows).

Sunset reflected off a rockThese four photos are the ones I submitted as my test for approval at Alamy Photo Stockhouse. The pictures have things I could have done better, and things I did well. The main thing is that I did them. Me, a non-photographer. Nope, me, a professional photographer.

Go out there and take steps toward your goals. The feeling when you do is really tremendous. It feels so good to be happy. Even if I never make more than enough money for a cup of vanilla chai, I still get to call myself a pro. So worth every crappy photo I took (and will continue to take) on my journey.

By the way, if you’re in the U.S. you might like to enter our giveaway for Cold-EEZE natural cold remedies. They have six different types, and you might win one of the 5 sets they’re offering.
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14

Six Amazing (and Possibly Gross) Health Future Trends

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Do NOT sit for too long!

Do NOT sit for too long!

What do baldness, wrinkles, cellulite, shyness, muffin top all have in common? They are all normal conditions, not diseases that need to be “cured.” So opened Carol Torgan, PhD, FACSM, in her recent presentation “Communication of Evidence-Based Health and Wellness Information” at the recent FitSocial Conference.

A potentially intimidating title, yet we knew to expect an informative lecture from a woman who’s spent over 15 years at the National Institutes of Health and American College of Sports Medicine “developing content and outreach strategies that translate the health and medical sciences into understandable and actionable steps for the general public and for health professionals.”

Essentially, Dr. Torgan’s talk boiled down to six predicted health trends, starting with the one that might gross you out the most:

Ready for your Fecal Transplant?

Ready for your Fecal Transplant?

1. Microbiomes

A community of organisms that live in and on us – bacteria, fungi, protozoa, viruses -icky, slimy, ewwwy! One – three percent of our body is not “us” but the above organisms. These bacteria/ microbiomes influence how we metabolize foods. In other words, look for the link between probiotics, colitis and poop! Heck, Dr. Torgan even references fecal transplants. In his piece for the New York Times, Michael Pollan discusses microbiomes and states that we are all actually only 10% “human.”

2. Inactivity Physiology

“Your next posture is your best posture.” Sitting too much is not the same as exercising too little. You can exercise strenuously for an hour, but if you sit for the rest of the day, you are at risk for all kinds of health issues, including weight gain. So if you’re sitting up perfectly straight in a chair, get up and move.

3. Travel and Its Effects on the Body

Keep an eye on research into circadian rhythms and chronobiology (the scientific study of the effect of time on living systems and of biological rhythms). With millions of Americans spending millions of dollars on antidepressant medication, research into light therapy and its effectiveness on depression, sleep disorders, dementia, bulimia, bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is expanding.

4. Crowdsourcing

Now that we are linked in globally, look for an expansion of people helping people by sharing and curating strategies and successes. A perfect example of crowdsourcing with health benefits is the National Weight Control Registry started by keynote speaker Dr. James Hill. The registry “was developed to identify and investigate the characteristics of individuals who have succeeded at long-term weight loss.”
It tracks over 10,000 people who have “lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off for long periods of time.” The information is then shared in an effort to help people want to access these successful strategies. And this is a perfect time to mention that Dr. Hill wrote the just-released “State of Slim,” which gives step-by-step instructions for losing weight and keeping it off!

Forget tidy whities; time for Carbon Undies

Forget tidy whities; time for Carbon Undies

5. E-textiles

We are already weaving trackers and feedback tools into our clothing, it’s just so gradual that we don’t notice how “futuristic” this is. And more is coming! How about carbon sensing underwear? Yup. These sensing, sensible undies will be useful for everything from diabetes monitoring to military applications. We already have monitors, trackers, cameras, timers and all kinds of magical gadgets that were the stuff of Bond films 30 years ago; now these devices will move even closer to your center of gravity (more accurate than wrist worn gadgets). Remember Andy Serkis using the performance capture suit as Gollum in LOTR? Are you ready to wear a fitness top that has front, back and side sensors that correct your movement patterns?
Check out Carol’s Pinterest board on wearable tech.

6. Neuroscience and Neuroplasticity

Brain science as it relates to movement is huge right now, and the research just keeps coming. To improve cognitive skills and brain power as we age we have to move. You move; you get smarter! Move to the head of the class! We’ve been touting this research for a few years now, knowing that Boomers in particular want to stay mentally sharp.

We’ve gathered a few tweets from Dr. Torgan’s talk, because you will like these 140 character bits of wisdom!

Dr. Carol Torgan is the new BFF of the F&F Twins!

Dr. Carol Torgan is the new BFF of the F&F Twins!

* When offering stats or science, go (or link) to the original source
* “Which fitness tracker do you recommend?” – “The one you will use”
* The most common weight loss tracking device is not an app; it’s the “jeans in the back of the closet that someday I’ll fit into again” tracker
* The most effective treatment for anxiety and insomnia is exercise (via sufferer self-report)
* An abstract presented at a conference is NOT the same as a published, peer-reviewed article
* More than half of internet users are looking online for exercise, health & fitness info.

 

What trend is most interesting to you?

Kymberly is wearing a very cute Lorna Jane blue pullover and shoes by Ahnu.

Photo credits: Carbon clothing- Carol Torgan; Pooped People –  x-ray delta one; Prolonged sitting – iamdogsmom

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C) Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

24

Sleep – How it Affects Your Weight, Brain & Skin

Alexandra Williams, MA

A recent trip to the Technogel Sleep Experience Center in Los Angeles got me thinking of the reasons we all need a good night’s sleep on a regular basis.

Sleep, perchance to dream...in Italian

Sleep, perchance to dream…in Italian

Weight Loss
Less than 6 hours of sleep can contribute to weight gain. According to researcher Dr. Michael Sivak, an extra hour of sleep each night can help you drop 14 pounds per year. Part of that is the 147 fewer calories you’ll take in during that hour you’re now asleep, and part of that is the relationship between the hormones leptin and ghrelin. More than 35 percent of American adults are obese and more than 28 percent sleep less than six hours a night, and the authors of a 15-year study found these two to be correlated.

Cognitive Function
Want to improve your memory, learning and creativity? Get 8-9 hours of sleep! A 2010 Harvard study discovered that those whose naps were long enough to enter REM sleep did 40% better on a test of creativity than nappers who didn’t get any REM sleep and non-nappers. That REM sleep gave the brain time and the ability to work creatively on various test problems. Further info on this is in our post “Sleep Your Way to a Better Brain & Body.”
I looked through some research Technogel has on their site regarding non-rapid eye movement sleep (REM) and foam versus gel mattresses, and learned something about the differences between light and deep sleep when it comes to muscle repair, memory, appetite suppressing/ increasing hormones, and concentration. It would seem skin and mattress temperature, plus bed comfort can assist or inhibit the quality of your sleep. It’s been extremely warm lately, so I know exactly how poorly I sleep when I’m hot!

I chose the Anatomic pillow for my golden locks

I chose the Anatomic pillow for my golden locks

Aging Skin
Less than two months ago, researchers from University Hospital Case Medical Center presented their evidence of a cause-and-effect relationship between lack of sleep and aging skin. They found that “poor sleep quality can accelerate signs of skin aging and weaken the skin’s ability to repair itself at night.” Poor quality sleepers showed increased signs of fine lines, uneven pigmentation, slackening of skin and reduced elasticity, while good quality sleepers recovered more efficiently from stressors such as sunburn, redness, and inflammation.

Pick a pillow, any pillow

Pick a pillow, any pillow

Technogel Sleep Experience Center
I know I’d like to be fit, smart and youthful looking, so I packed up my dreams and desires, and drove to Los Angeles to practice just one letter of the alphabet (zzzzz, in case I stumped you) at the experience center, thanks to an invitation from the director, Doriana. Just me for the whole night, plus the Technogel pillow and mattress of my choice.

As I already own one of their pillows, I knew that the gel “soft-solid” material inside their bedding is the result of a collaboration with the Italian company and Dr. Scholl’s, so I expected to sleep comfortably. The center is on a side street near the Beverly Center that was actually kind of noisy, so I was somewhat concerned about sleeping through till morning (I‘m a very light sleeper). Of course, maybe Technogel chose that location on purpose, to prove you can sleep through almost anything…

Looks boring, but you'll be snoring!

Looks boring, but you’ll be snoring!

Does that chair look comfy?

Does that chair look comfy?

I went to bed around 10 pm, which is 2 hours sooner than normal, and slept all the way through till 8 am. That made me happy. Probably smarter, younger and more radiant too! Before leaving, I poked the decorations they had in the room, as they were all made with the gel. Masks, cats, the chair cover…Does that make me a tactile person or just curious?

Masks and kitties and beds, oh my!

Masks and kitties and beds, oh my!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference …or dream. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.