In sports, most commonly endurance sports, there’s this concept of “hitting the wall.” It is a point in your exertion where your body shuts down and can no longer function at full capacity. Your pace slows and you muscle clamp down. “The wall” is then following by “the second wind.” The wall itself is actually a good thing to get your body much needed forced relaxation in order for you to perform at a high level again. Try these methods as ways to get a “second wind” in all aspects of your life.
- Take a 2 minute cat nap. Remember when grandpa said he was just shutting his eyes? Closing your eyes effectively rests your nervous system even when you don’t have time to sleep. You can shut your eyes for 2 minutes sitting at your kitchen table or your desk.
- Tense and release each muscle in your body. Very often we don’t notice the tension in our muscles till we tense them more. Go through from head to toe squeezing then relaxing each individual muscle. Afterwards you may notice a runner’s high-like peace.
- Exhale deeply from your belly. High carbon-dioxide in the blood correlates with anxiety and tension. Many persons breathe with their chest so that stale carbon dioxide-rich air stays and recirculates into the bloodstream, inciting further tense feelings. Exhaling all that out allows you to reduce your blood’s CO2 levels promoting relaxation.
- Laugh. Laughter sends oxygen to the brain, releases dopamine and endorphins which make you healthier overall, let alone relaxed. Even if you feel downtrodden and can’t find something to laugh about, a forced laughter has the same effect.
- Hug someone. The Japanese healing form of reiki bases its work on the truth that human beings need touch in order to relax. Oxytocin is an important neuro chemical that is only released in connecting to other life forms. If you can’t find a person to hug, pet a dog!
Father’s Day is fast approaching. (It’s this Sunday, for those of you who don’t check your calendars.) Dads are often one of the more difficult family members to buy gifts for. You don’t want to get something generic yet you want to give him something he’ll use. Here are some nice things to get Pops to out do your siblings.
- A collage of childhood pictures. This is the grown-up version of a finger painted drawing that says “I love Dad.” Nothing will warm a man’s heart more than seeing the happy times of the past with his kids.
- Tickets to a show. This is a great present because it’s something you can do together with him. Pick something that he likes and set a date to take Dad out on the town.
- A spa package. Around Mother’s Day you’ll see tons of spas with “Mother’s Day Specials” since “spa days” are such a common Mommy present. Most men wouldn’t think to go to a spa on their own. That’s why it’s such a great present. Force Dad to unwind by sending him to the spa, and let him indulge in his softer side.
- A really nice stationary set. Ornaments, picture frames, and decorative items are for Mom. Men like to receive presents that serve a function. A desk set with a really nice fountain pen or letterhead it awesome because it can serve as a reminder of you on his desk, AND is something he can use.
- A thought-provoking book. The absolute best presents are those that leave the recipient a better person than before. That’s a present that will give him for a lifetime. If Dad’s not much of a reader, try an audiobook series. There are tons of smartphone apps that can let Dad listen to some of the best literary works while commuting.
As the work day approaches the final trimester we all get hit with fatigue. Here are some ways to power through till close time:
- Get your eyes of the computer. Your mom told you not to stare at the TV too long for a reason. Too much artificial light exposure can cause fatigue symptoms such as eye twitching and jitteriness. You probably need your computer to work so instead of taking “recreational breaks” on Facebook or browsing the web, take 5 to put your attention offline. Brainstorming work can be done with the good old paper and pen.
- Jump up and down. Yes it’s silly. Yes it’s obvious. Yes it works. Physical activity re-calibrates your body to create energy rather than deplete it. Get your heartbeat up so your blood starts flowing.
- Eat some energy food. Nuts, fruit, granola. Anything that is easy to digest and free of heavy nutrients. The idea is not to fill up, but to throw some fuel on the fire.
- Hydrate. Yes you certainly can reach for the coffee, yet caffeine in the morning is probably what has you crashing in the afternoon anyway. Water on the hand is the body’s transmission fluid. Water is the elixir of life. Tiredness can often come from dehydration. Studies have shown that a glass of water before a school examination raises average test marks.
- List the have-to-do tasks for the rest of the day. When we know the end, it’s easier to start. List out all the things you want to accomplish for the rest of the day then just cross them off one by one. A journey of thousand miles start with one step.
- Write out or review your schedule the night beforehand. The biggest time-wasters are in those gaps between scheduled activities. That doesn’t mean you have to be strict about being productive every minute. The purpose is to be aware of moments you CAN be productive. For instance, that call you need to make to the insurance company or doctor’s office may fit perfectly in between dropping off your kids at school and starting work. It may not take very long, but it will be one less distraction during your work day.
- Standardize your daily chores. Are there certain mundane tasks you do every day? Find a way to standardiz them. We standardize most every day tasks already. You likely brush your teeth exactly the same way every time. You probably drive the grocery store the same way. That’s because once we find the best way to do something, you might as well keep doing it that way till it becomes second nature. Try to find other areas of your life you can standardize, like say cleaning the house.
- Batch similar activities. Some things we do throughout the day can be “batched,” or all done at once. Imagine how much time and energy a factory would waster if it started and stopped its generator for each widget it made. It would be better to just start the machine once and make all the widgets in one “batch.” The common time-waster for most people is how often they check email. Every time you stop one activity to start to check email, you are wasting stop-start time. Most email can wait a day. If your work requires timely communication, tell people to text you instead.
- Also tell people to only text you when it’s important. The biggest part of time management is avoiding interruptions. Productive time is productive time. Stick to the schedule so you can get the “Have to do” actions done as quickly as possible. That way you can get in more “want to do” actions.
- Time management is only half the equation of doing more of what you want in a day. The other half is deciding what you want to do. most people think they don’t have time for hobbies. That’s just because they don’t make time. Pick one new thing you want to do every day. Schedule it in and stick to that schedule as strictly as you would for work. It works.
The ideal weekday breakfast is one that doesn’t require too much preparation and can keep us energized and satiated through the beginning portion of the day. Here are five ideas no what to eat tomorrow upon waking for peak performance with minimal preparation.
- Hard boiled eggs. The healthy eater with limited time should always have a stock of hardboiled eggs in the fridge. They fit perfectly for a morning rush where you want a filling meal and only have enough time to peel and eat. You can make each hard boiled meal unique with different dipping sauces.
- Heavy Coffee. That’s coffee with a dollop of unsalted Irish butter. Yes, butter. The idea of butter in coffe may seem ridiculous and gross, but remember unsalted butter is just a more solid form of cream. In the Himalayas they often add butter to tea for the healthy calories. A cup of coffee with two tablespoons of butter can give you enough calories to last about 6 hours without hunger. Under the Paleo eating philosophy, butter coffee also helps you lose weight by training your digestive system to burn fat for energy rather than carbs.
- Filled Avocado. Half an avocado filled with cottage cheese, fruit, or really anything is a quick and easy breakfast food than will keep you satiated better than most carb-based breakfast foods.
- Tomato-based soup. Soup is a great morning meal because liquids require less energy to digest and you are less likely to crash after the meal. Tomatoes are full of lycopene which respond well to sunlight which can be helpful assuming you get sun the morning.
- Fruit and cheese. We often are inclined to eat fruit in the morning because it’s light and full of sugar for that kick of energy. By itself it’s not ideal because with only simple carb calories you are bound to get hungry soon after. Balance out the sugar with heavier calories from cheese. Fruit and cheese need little preparation. Just cut and eat.
- Seek out subsidies such as the “First Home Club” program offered in many states through banks. Programs such as these will match your funds as an incentive for state residents to become home owners. (The state gets their money back through property tax and higher land values in case you were wondering.) For instance, New York State First Home Clubs will give you $4 for every $1 you put into the escrow up to about $7000. That may not seem like much compared to the price of the home, but if you consider that your first mortgage only requires 3% down, that will save you a relatively large chunk of your initial expenses such as closing costs.
- Build your credit score. Your credit score represents your access to money which can be much more important than how much money you have. It’s never too late to work on it. Here are some tips on how.
- Negotiate. “Everything is negotiable.” Always ask to reduce closing costs. They usually are variable and can be changed to a degree. Either way it doesn’t hurt to ask.
- Make extra mortgage payments. You don’t need a lesson on how compound interest here. You should know that a few extra payments on the mortgage each year can save you on thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the mortgage. Remember that unlike a regular loan, mortgage payments are mostly interest in the beginning. It takes awhile before you scheduled payments actually eat into the principal.
- Seek creative financing. With the current housing market, it’s not out of line to ask the seller for help in the sale. Options such as “rent to own” and getting points from the seller can help the transaction go more smoothly (and less expensively.)
Summer sun means summer sunburns. We all know the advice to load up on sunscreen, yet there is just as much evidence of high spf sunscreens carrying harmful chemicals. Here are
- Consumer Vitamin D orally. Vitamin D is a micronutrient that your body produces naturally in response to sunlight. Paradoxically, it also helps prevent sun damage. (The more sun you get, the less it damages you.) Milk is the common Vitamin D source that we’re aware of, but Vitamin D can be found many foods. Fish like salmon, tuna, sole, and flounder are some of the best sources of Vitamin D. If you don’t like dairy or fish, you can always take a supplement.
- Get a base tan. As mentioned above, the more sun you get, the less damaging sunlight is to you. The trick is to get sun in small doses without staying in long enough to burn. Start your summer off by getting brief sun exposure to “build a tan” before an all out beach day.
- Eat plenty of healthy saturated fat. Saturated fat has been shown to slow the growth of tumorous cells. Also, healthy fat in your system keeps your skin cells moist and supple preventing the dryness caused by sunlight’s heat. Get a good dose of butter and coconut oil!
- Drink green tea. Green tea carries various anti-oxidants that can help prevent cancer from forming. In case you were wondering, an anti-oxidant prevents oxidation. Oxidation is the transferring of electrons from cells to oxidizing agents causing “free radicals” which damage cells. That’s your chemistry lesson for the week.
- Eat some cooked tomatoes! Tomatoes carry lycopene which prevents the effects of long term sun damage. Lycopene actually becomes more available when heated so tomatoes are one of the few fruits that are more healthy to eat when cooked. (Yes, tomatoes are a fruit, fruits have seeds.)
We are all aware of the many ways people drink coffee. Lattes, cappuccinos, mochas, the list goes on. Did you know there are many concoctions you can make with tea too? Tea is loaded with antioxidants, can reduce blood pressure, and promote oral health. Here are a few to try for the tea mixologist in you.
LONDON FOG Origin: England Type of Tea: Earl Grey A great replacement for the chronic coffee drinker as its loaded with flavors. Pour two teaspoons for vanilla syrup into a hot cup of Earl Grey tea followed by a half cup of cold milk. Stir for a latte-like nutty beverage.
MILK AND HONEY TEA Origin: various Type of tea: usually black A staple in Hong Kong and pretty much all the former British colonies. Two parts tea, one part milk, lots of sugar. In former British colonies it’s common to see these being drank throughout the day.
GREEN TEA LATTE Origin: United States? Type of tea: green Use half green tea, half milk. Stir and load with syrup. Starbucks makes their blend using green tea dissolvable powder instead for an easier yet more artificial brew.
SWEET TEA Origin: Southern United States Type of Tea: Black The American South’s take on ice tea. 80% of the tea consumed in America is served cold. Sweet tea is simply black tea iced and sugared. You can make it you staple drink this summer by adding raw brown sugar, cane syrup, or molasses instead of table sugar.
BUTTER TEA Origin: Tibet Type of Tea: black Tea with butter. Although this is strange to the rest of us a sea level, butter tea is a necessary survival drink in the high altitudes of the Himalayas. The concentration of calories helps mountain-dwellers deal with the cold and thin air. It’s actually quite nutritious and delicious. Paleo dieters may want to try it with Irish butter for the healthy fat caloric effect.
Tibetan butter tea
Happy Memorial Day everyone! Make this your “To Do” List!
- Barbecuing. Fire up your grill and bring the friends over. Don’t have your own grill? Find a friend who does. There’s nothing is more American than heating meat and drinking beer on a sunny day. Today is NOT a day to be a vegetarian, so throw down some hot dogs and hamburgers. Homer Simpson said it best, “you don’t win friends with salad.”
- The sales. If you’re not an outdoor person, hit the mall. Most retailers start their summer sales today. Here’s a chance to get last season’s apparel at a discount before the new wares are in. Electronics are also a great buy today. You can pick up some new toys or gadgets today. Just remember places like Best Buy will be packed!
- Play games or sports with your family. You don’t normally get to goof off with your loved ones on a Monday. Backyard games like horseshoe or ring toss are a great pastime. If you don’t have such a set play frisbee. If you and the family aren’t the active types, play a card game or board game outdoors.
- Today is a day of memorial! Everything we listed above is wonderful. Please do enjoy the day off, the weather, and barbecuing. In doing that also remember that we have this day, this wonderful safe country, and this freedom because brave men and women fought and died to protect us. Drop you politics for a minute and thank the troops for creating the safety for us to barbecue in peace.
- Three pm is the “National Moment of Remembrance.” Congress passed the act in 2010 to have a national moment of silence. Set yourself an alarm.
- Eat outside. We hope that most of you will have pleasant weather this weekend. Even the least outdoorsy of you can benefit from some fresh air if not sunlight to go with it. If you’re not an active person, bring your lunch outside. “I had a picnic with the family this weekend” is a much better answer than “Er, we watched TV all weekend.” If you have kids, these will be awesome memories for them when they grow up.
- Work on the bucket list. Write out a list of desires that can be accomplished in one day. It’s even better if you and your family can do this together. The desires can be as small as “bake a cake from scratch,” “have a yard sale,” “tell each other stories.” Each weekend try to cross one thing off the list. A few months from now you’ll have a huge list of awesome memories.
- Do the chores first! Just like Mom said, if you do your homework first, your weekend will be more fun. Don’t let chores hang over your head. Get them done Saturday morning if you can, and you’ll have the rest of the weekend to relax and have fun with a clear mind.
- Set a time to do nothing. Yes, really. Most of us fly through the weekend with a chocked “to do” list. The weekend is your time to de-compress. If you don’t let yourself relax, Monday will only hurt more. Don’t confuse this with planning fun activities. You need EMPTY space to clear your mind. Schedule one hour to do nothing but “hang out.” Don’t isolate. Be around family, but DO NOT plan an activity. Just let whatever happen and enjoy your clarity.
- Make a little extra dough. Eating out Saturday night will be easier if you’ve paid for it with extra income. If you have some hours free, try filing out some paid surveys. All you need is five minutes to make five bucks right now on 5in5.com