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Rachel P.

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Start where you are at

If you're a total beginner at exercising, you may see other people doing things that may never seem possible for you. But that's not true. Everybody has to start somewhere. Even experienced exercisers feel that they want to be further along than they are now.

When you start, you only need to do what you can. If you can't run, you can walk and build from there.

@racfp15

How to Make Any Exercise Easier If You’re a Beginner

vitals.lifehacker.com

If you can't squat
  • Sit in a chair, then stand back up.
  • Lean you back against a wall and slide down until you're in a sitting position.
  • Hold onto a countertop or the back of a chair while you do a squat.

Don't worry if you can't squat all the way to parallel. You can work on going lower over time.

If you can't do pushups

Pushups are easier the higher your hands are and harder the higher your feet are.

For the easiest beginner version, put your hands on a wall about shoulder height. Lean into the wall, and push yourself back to a standing position. When you can do that, find a lower surface, like a table, then a chair, etc.

If you can't pick up weights

It's okay to do weight workouts without weights. Make your hands into fists and go through the motions.

From there, you can use half-litre water bottles, a can of soup or a book. After that, one- and two-pound dumbbells can come in handy.

If you aren't ready to follow a video

Find a video that seems like fun but is just out of your reach. You will find that even if you modify it or rest when needed, you'll come back a little bit better every time.

Remember that your goal should be to do a workout starting at your current level of fitness, not to complete a specific number of reps. Do what you can and rest for the remainder of the time.

If you aren't ready to do a cycling workout

You've got your bike, you can pedal, but you get out of breath and feel like you can't keep going.

Adjust your workout. Pay attention to the instructor's voice and facial expressions and ignore any specific numbers. If the instructor is talking and seems to be on an easy bike ride, adjust your resistance so you are on an easy bike ride. If she's working hard, change your resistance so you are working hard.

If you aren't ready to run

Then walk. Walk across a room, down the block, walk a mile at your speed. Eventually, you'll find yourself walking further and faster. In time you may want to start running. If you hate running, swap it out for something else.

There is nothing like a bowl of cherry Jell-O topped with a fluffy raft of faux whipped cream on a hot night. Both foodstuffs can be credited to William A. Mitchell.

  • Mitchell was born in Minnesota in 1911. He got a degree in chemistry at the University of Nebraska and worked at General Foods at the start of World War II. There, he developed a substitute for tapioca, which was in short supply.
  • In 1957, Mitchel developed a powdered fruit-flavored vitamin-enhanced drink mix named Tang Flavor Crystals. In 1962, NASA sent Tang into space to disguise the water's metallic taste onboard the spaceship.
  • In 1956, Mitchell attempted to create instantly self-carbonating soda. It resulted in the candy known as Pop Rocks, which was patented in 1961.
  • In 1957, Mitchell patented a powdered gelatin dessert that could be set with cold water. It paved the way for quick-set Jell-O.
  • Mitchell introduced the faux whipped cream called Cool Whip in the same year.

Mitchell received about 70 patents over his career.

The Scientist Behind Some of Our Favorite Junk Foods

smithsonianmag.com

Not all of Mitchell's inventions were successful. Failed inventions included Dacopa, a coffee substitute made from roasted dahlia tubers, and the "dessert-on-the-stick," a thick starch-based dessert. His patented carbonated ice never became a thing.

Though some of Mitchell's inventions are still popular, his style of science foods has fallen out of favor and organic, slow food trends are taking its place.

The Body On Fasting

Food provides the cells in our bodies with their fuel: glucose. Our bodies release a certain amount of glucose into the blood and store the rest as glycogen, releasing it as needed. Once that supply is used up – after at least 12 hours without food – our fat stores are called upon.

Burning of fats actually makes the body less hungry, something which is being researched by dieticians studying metabolism. It is also observed that fasting dampens certain types of hormones, reducing the risk of breast cancer.

Is fasting good for you? - BBC Science Focus Magazine

sciencefocus.com

Restricting one’s food intake forces the body to start burning stored fat, but complete fasting is not recommended by Scientists, who advise on intermittent fasting, where only 500 to 800 calories are consumed for 2 days in a week, with the rest of the days on a normal diet.

Fasting for longer periods is not recommended without medical supervision.

The mind, as well as our gut bacteria, are positively affected by fasting. The mind is protected by reduction of amyloid proteins during fasting.

The gut bacteria or the microbiome is benefited by the many new species that start to proliferate inside our stomach.

How Scientists Study Brain Activity
  • Scientists study activity in the brain with a tool called electroencephalography ( EEG), that measures electrical signals coming from neurons.
  • The brain is not turned off while you sleep - there is a lot of activity going on, even if you’re not aware of it. You cycle through four different sleep stages, and each shows up as a different pattern on the EEG.
  • Each sleep stage is also associated with different patterns of chemicals in your brain (neurochemicals - the way brain cells use to communicate with each other).

How does your brain wake up from sleep?

theconversation.com

  • One of the systems in the brain that wakes us up is the reticular activating system (RAS) - a part of your brain located just above your spinal column that acts like a gatekeeper or filter for your brain, making sure it doesn’t have to deal with more information than it can handle.
  • The RAS can sense important information and create neurochemicals that wake up other parts of the brain. It also keeps you awake throughout the day.
  • Once the RAS switch turns on, it can take some time for your whole brain and body to wake up. This is because it takes a few minutes to clear all the “sleepy” neurochemicals from your brain, which is why you may feel groggy when an alarm clock wakes you up.

When your brain is asleep, it shifts between deep and light stages. If your alarm clock goes off during a deeper stage of sleep, it takes longer for all the parts of your brain to wake up.

Spend time with furry friends

Play fetch with Fido or sneak in a few cuddles with your kitten. 

Interacting with your pets can release oxytocin in the brain ― you know, the “warm and fuzzy” hormone ― resulting in that joyous feeling.

Ways To Be Happier Instantly

huffpost.com

There’s nothing like a little thankfulness to boost your mood. Research shows expressing gratitude can make you happier

Try writing down three things you’re thankful for at the end of each night.

 Studies show self-acceptance is crucial to a happier life, but it’s a habit we barely practice.

Research suggests hearing your mom’s voice can help reduce stress. And less stress means a happier you.

Research shows that allowing yourself a few moments of zen-like escape each day may make you happier.

Listen to music

Research shows that trying to boost your mood while listening to music actually can help lift you to a more positive state

Studies also suggest listening to sad music can help boost positive feelings. 

We didn’t get to where we are without a little help, so why not extend that same generosity to someone else

Not only will your kindness influence others, but studies show it’ll also make you happier, too.

A fulfilling life doesn’t lie in our possessions, it’s found in the experiences we have and the people we share them with. 

Spend money on a trip, a concert or any other experience that will bring you joy. Science says you’ll be happier in the long run.

Work for that promotion or take on that marathon. 

It’s a lovely treat for your mind, according to Gretchen Rubin “The brain is stimulated by surprise, and successfully dealing with an unexpected situation gives a powerful sense of satisfaction.

Get enough sleep

More sleep = A happier you. 

Too little shuteye slows down our cognitive processes and increases the risk of depression. 

Most people wish they could avoid aging, but studies show that we’re happier as we get older

Experts theorize this could be because the older we get, the more we reflect on positive experiences. 

Give someone else a compliment. Your generosity will make your day and theirs.

Research shows recording these everyday events may make us happier later on because we appreciate them a lot more when they’re revisited. 

In other words, if you ate a scrumptious chocolate brownie on Wednesday, write it down.

Stop to smell the flowers

One study on how scent affects joy found that participants who were in a floral-scented room selected three times as many happiness-related terms than negative terms.

Residents of Denmark, one of the happiest countries in the world, spend less time than most Americans in the office. 

Only 2 percent of Danes work long hours, which is categorized as 50 hours per week. And full-time workers still devote 66 percent of their day to self-care, like eating and sleeping. 

There’s power in small moments. 

I think when we take time to notice the things that go right — it means we’re getting a lot of little rewards throughout the day,” Susan Weinschenk, author of How to Get People to Do Stuff.

Stress can prevent you from keeping a healthy weight

Stress can prevent you from keeping a healthy weight.

Every time you're stressed, your adrenal glands release adrenaline and cortisol. Your body releases glucose into your bloodstream to increase your energy levels for a possible fight or flight response. Once the threat is gone, your adrenaline high wears off, your blood sugar drops and cortisol kicks in to quickly top up your energy supply.

How Stress Can Cause Weight Gain

verywellmind.com

With increased levels of cortisol, your body is supplied with glucose for energy, and your body signals the need for extra sugar.

The downside of eating sugar is that your body tends to store sugar, especially after stressful situations, as abdominal fat. The vicious cycle continues: stress, cortisol release, craving sugar, weight gain.

Cortisol slows down your metabolism, decreasing your ability to lose weight.

Researchers found that women who reported one or more stressors burned fewer calories than non-stressed women. Stressed women also had higher insulin levels, resulting in fat storage.

  • Emotional eating: Excess nervous energy can cause you to eat more than necessary.
  • Eating "accessible" or fast food: When stressed, we often eat what is readily available, which is often unhealthy options—for example, eating fast-food instead of cooking a balanced meal.
  • Exercising less: With too much stress, exercise is often the last thing on your list to do.
  • Skipping meals: With too much on your plate, you may find yourself skipping meals.
  • Sleeping less: Many people are unable to sleep well when they're stressed. Sleep deprivation is linked to a slower metabolism and can also reduce willpower.
  • Make exercise a priority. It can reduce stress and regulate stress-related weight gain.
  • Eat healthier comfort foods, such as air-popped popcorn.
  • Practice mindful eating. Focus on what you're eating without distractions such as your phone or the TV.
  • Keep a food journal. Being more aware of what you eat could improve your eating habits.
  • Drink more water. We often confuse thirst for hunger. If you eliminated mild dehydration and you still feel hungry, then grab a healthy snack.
  • Incorporate stress-relief strategies such as reading a good book, taking a deep breath, listening to music, or going for a daily walk.
Caffeine

Caffeine is the main stimulant in coffee and works on a chemical level to give you a boost of energy.

Your brain on coffee

bigthink.com

Forming New Memories

Our consciousness is deeply connected to our thinking and memory, and self-remembrance is an automatic feature of our brain.

People who have survived accidents or illness which limit their brain functioning, making them unable to form any new memory, question the presumption we have of our minds being our sole repository of identity.

Memory involves the whole body. It’s how the self defies amnesia | Psyche Ideas

psyche.co

People who are unable to form new memories have to adjust to a stark reality of losing their pre-amnesia lives. To live without the means to form any ‘autobiographical’ memory, makes the patients unable to ground their sense of identity, or even orient themselves to maintain a timeline of their existence in their minds.

The only guiding light in the dark is the present moment and the action that they are doing with their entire bodies.

The identity of ourselves isn’t just limited to the mind, and is in fact the property of the entire body.

A study in how poems take formation provides an insight on Rilkean memory, which encompasses the entire being, and is the complete existential response to the world, unlike the conscious thinking response of the mind. The behavioural disposition and enduring mood arise when the conscious, narrative memory is gone.

Motivation Through Watching Sports

Sports are huge, and gather millions, if not billions of audience eager to watch its many forms, like football, tennis, basketball, or cricket.

Many people would feel motivated to work out, become fitter, or play the particular sport in which they are glued to and make a positive difference in their lives, instead of just being a passive, popcorn and hotdog eating audience. But new research shows that this is often not the case.

Do big sporting events make us do more sport?

bbc.com

Many committees and sports organizations anticipate that the population would watch the sports and become more active physically and to an extent, it does motivate a small percentage of people to change their lifestyle for the better.

The 1992 Barcelona Olympics showed that people taking part in sports increased to about 4 percent in the span of 6 years, but that has been an exception, where the methodology of the statistics is in question.

Most people would not even want to go out on a sunny day when the game is on, instead gathering snacks to watch it on the LED screen.

We cannot expect them to take up sports, just like we don’t expect people to start singing after watching a concert, or take up acting lessons after watching a movie.

New studies show that watching elite athletes could dampen the will to work out. Watching athletes demonstrate their prowess makes us realize that even if we trained full-time, we could never be like them.

Sports role models impress people, but not enough to get them to move towards a better version of themselves. This can be improved if they get constant reinforcement towards their goals.

Coffee As An Addictive Substance
  • Coffee is the world’s most popular psychoactive drug, with over 80 percent of American adults having it daily.
  • Quitting caffeine produces withdrawal symptoms like lack of alertness, fatigue, and headache.
  • While it is a well-known fact that caffeine is a chemically addictive substance, the withdrawal symptoms are now categorized as a mental disorder.

This Is How Your Brain Becomes Addicted to Caffeine

smithsonianmag.com

  • When we have coffee, it gets absorbed in our gut as well as in our bloodstream. As the chemical is soluble in water and fat both, it can easily enter the brain.
  • Adenosine, a molecule present in our brain which is remarkably similar to caffeine, is responsible for a feeling of tiredness.
  • Caffeine acts like a doppelganger and is able to fit in the receptors that adenosine fits, preventing any tiredness to occur for a few hours.
  • The surplus adenosine now floating in the brain signals that adrenal gland to produce and secrete adrenaline, which is also a stimulant.

The chemistry of the brain changes when a person takes a regular intake of caffeine, as it grows more adenosine receptors.

Eventually, it takes more caffeine to feel the effects, and as there are now more receptors, not having a stimulant results in ‘caffeine withdrawal headache’ and other symptoms due to the original molecule connecting to the increased number of receptors in the brain.

The good news is that the caffeine habit is easy to break, as your brain sets to baseline levels in about two weeks of caffeine resistance.

The withdrawal symptoms only persist for about 7 to 12 days, after which your brain decreases the number of adenosine receptors, breaking your addiction.

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