We think of building healthy behaviors or increasing productivity as a matter of willpower. We seek knowledge and goal setting skills to make the desired change. With determination and discipline, we may succeed, at least for days or even months—but more than often, we fall off course. The common assumption is that our day-to-day decisions are conscious choices. But our ability to make informed decisions that control our behavior is fundamentally limited. Psychology and neuroscience suggest that most of our actions are borne out of habit—they are reflexive, instinctive, and occur outside the awareness of our conscious mind. And if we pit one against the other, our thinking minds are no match for our automatic habits.
Named by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the concept of “flow” has existed for thousands of years in different forms. When you are in the flow, you are fully immersed and energized by what you are doing. In sports, performing at that point where natural skills and peak performance align is called “being in the zone.” And in ancient Chinese philosophy, when your body is in harmony between opposing Yin and Yang forces, you have an optimal flow of the vital energy called “Qi.”
The time-honored tradition of family meals has been a family cornerstone for generations. Eating meals at home may also be one of the most effective yet decreasingly utilized ways to help your kids get better grades in school and be less likely to drink alcohol or smoke.
Time and money. Both are common reasons people eat out. But contrary to common perception, convenient fast food meals can be more expensive than home cooked meals. And small improvements such as picking more nutritious options among breads, cereals, and packaged foods at the grocery store do not on average cost more.
Although short term stress can be advantageous, chronic stress can have the opposite effect. Our bodies are hard wired with a flight-or-flight response to give us a survival advantage. In pre-historic days, that helped us fight or escape from predators. Unlike the acute stress of facing a predator, modern stress is chronic, such as from conflicts at work or at home– and can overload our stress response. In this video, done with the amazing TED-Ed team, you can see how chronic stress can affect your heart, your waistline, and your longevity–and what you can do about it!
According to a recent report in The Washington Post , the average American woman now weighs as much as the average 1960’s man. The average man isn’t doing any better—having gained nearly 30 pounds since the 1960’s to an average of 195.5 pounds today.
The obesity epidemic has many pointing fingers at the Western lifestyle. A concoction of calorie packed, high fat, high sugar processed foods combined with increasingly sedentary habits, the Western lifestyle seems a sure recipe for obesity.
Last month a team of doctors and scientists made the case to regulators at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to consider approving anti-aging drugs as a new pharmaceutical class. Such a designation would treat aging as disease rather than a natural process, potentially opening the door to government funding for anti-aging drug trials.
To some, such a drug may seem impossible. Yet, the physiologic basis for it exists. In fact, some candidate drugs, such as metformin, used to treat diabetes, are already being safely used for treating other conditions. Many scientists believe that designing an anti-aging medication is a matter of “when,” not “if.”
If your energy level seems low and your waistline is expanding uncontrollably, you may be developing “sitting disease.”
Damaging effects of prolonged sitting| FOX 5
According to the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Americans are now spending the majority, or roughly two-thirds, of the day sedentary. The damaging health effects of prolonged sitting may be the new tobacco.
That may not be surprising to anybody with a sedentary job. Long, uninterrupted hours sitting at work or commuting make it hard to make time for physical activity. Yet, the wake-up call is that in addition to leaving less time for exercise and leisure activities, prolonged sitting poses its own unique type of harm to your body.
The main role of vitamin D is to keep your bones healthy, primarily by helping you absorb intestinal calcium. In recent years, however, vitamin D deficiency has gained a lot of attention for being associated with a long list of diseases ranging from heart disease and cancer to diabetes mellitus, depression, dementia, colds, multiple sclerosis, and premature death (Click for Benefits of Vitamin D video).
As a result, many physicians, including myself, have been screening for vitamin D deficiency in people who are at risk—such as those who get limited sun exposure without sunscreen, have dark skin, are older, or obese—and have been recommending vitamin D supplementation.
Whether you want lose weight, quit smoking, or start exercising, changing your habit—and sticking with it—is hard.
From my experience, most people know at least one habit or behavior they would like to change in order to improve their health and wellbeing but struggle to make it happen. The challenge is moving from knowing to doing. How can you get started, gain momentum, and avoid slipping backwards?
Changing any health habit requires having a clear, realistic, step-by-step plan.
Although several genes have been associated with Alzheimer’s disease, a growing body of research is showing that lifestyle factors, including your diet, can significantly influence your risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported on the MIND diet, the latest in the arsenal for improving how your brain ages.
Developed by researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet borrows elements from the heart healthy Mediterranean diet and the blood pressure lowering DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet.