7-day Water Fast (no food) Experience And It’s Benefits

A water fast is the cessation of food consumption for a certain amount of time. During that time you can consume water, black coffee, tea, and bone broth. Fasts can vary from short ones (12 hours) to extended fasts (5+ days). Fasting has been practiced across many different cultures for thousands of years as a period of healing, spiritual uplifting, and abstinence. Our evolutionary upbringing is closely linked to fasting since food back then was mostly scarce and competitive to procure. Our ancient ancestors would forage for food then use their body fat as fuel when food actually became scarce; or, better known as feast and famine. Now that science has substantiated many of its health benefits, fasting can be used as a tool to repair your anatomy, breakdown fat, and increase mental acuity.

You can fast as long as you have adequate body fat and your nervous system or adrenals are in their proper state. Remember: fasting is a stressor on the body, so all your hormones must be normalized before getting into an extended one or else you only exacerbate whatever symptoms you’re currently experiencing. In most cases, you can only oxidize fat at a half a pound of body fat per day, so when people are losing weight really fast, it’s not actually body fat, rather muscle, inflammation, or water. Fat takes time through strict nutrition, exercise, or infrequent eating patterns that keep your insulin signaling low. Fasting tends to not be broached in mainstream media and nutrition because it doesn’t sell; no one makes money when people aren’t eating!

Dr. Jason Fung, who deals with a multitude of patients with kidney disease and diabetes in an interview talks about fasting as an alternative, healthier way to burn fuel.

“During fasting, you start by burning off all the glycogen in the liver, which is all the sugar. There’s a point there where some of the excess amino acids in your body need to get burnt as well.

That’s where people say, ‘That’s where you’re burning muscle.’ That’s not actually what happens. The body never upregulates its protein catabolism. Never is it burning muscle; there’s a normal turnover that goes on.

There is a certain amount of protein that you need for a regular turnover. When you start fasting, that starts to go down and then fat oxidation goes way up. In essence, what you’ve done is you switched over from burning sugar to burning fat. Once you start burning fat, there’s almost an unlimited amount of calories there. You could go for days and days.”

Periodic or intermittent fasting have been shown to increase testosterone and human growth hormone –two important factors in building and maintaining muscle mass PLUS the anti-aging effects of HGH not only turn back the clock internally, but externally as well. This muscle conservation stage has an expiration date though, usually after 10-15 days of extended fasting muscle deterioration may occur, BUT depending on how much body fat you carry (some people can fast longer than 30 days without muscle-wasting due to having excess body fat). A popular misconception in the health industry is that once we are in a starved-state, our bodies seek our muscle as fuel, but that’s simply not true–if it were, we would have been extinct a long time ago.

Here’s a few staggering insulin-related stats presented by the CDC that Americans are facing:

  • 1/3rd of Americans have prediabetes (insulin resistance) or type-2 diabetes
  • Prediabetes can blossom into type-2 diabetes in as soon as 5 years
  • 40% of Americans are considered obese
  • 1 in out of every 2 Americans have a chronic disease!

Any fast over 20 hours increases and maximizes cellular autophagy: a physiological process whereby the body starts cleaning out the junk in the cells that accrues from free radicals which ultimately age you and engender cancer tumors that can proliferate to major organs. In recent research, cancer and Alzheimers are now showing signs of being a metabolic disease (high blood sugar/insulin) rather than just a genetic disease. Although more research is to be done on the correlation between insulin/blood sugar and cancer, it’s safe to say that keeping a close watch on your numbers would be salubrious for longevity purposes. That said, giving yourself a long fast once a year to lower insulin could potentially rid any cancerous cells from accumulating. The graph below illustrates how when insulin drops, HGH increases.

Image result for fasting testosterone

 

The record for fasting is a shocking 382 days. The man weighed 456 lbs and dropped to an astonishing 180 lbs. Although he was heavily monitored by doctors and supplemented vitamins, he recalled the experience as being liberating with “hunger not really occurring.” So, that proves that the body doesn’t automatically eat at muscle when it’s starved, but rather adipose tissue (body fat).

Ketosis is the metabolic state where your body begins using only your actual body fat as fuel when your insulin is low. Ketones are produced from the breakdown of fat in the liver. For the ketogenic diet, most people need to consume no more net carbs (total carb-fiber) than 50 grams a day to induce ketones. The diet consists primarily of vegetables along with eating moderate protein and higher amounts of healthy fats. Eating fat burns fat and the fat on your body is the result of mostly eating sugar and carbs. Ketone bodies have myriad benefits from decreasing inflammation to eradicating type 2 diabetes to treating people with epilepsy. Below shows the breakdown of the Keto macronutrients.

Image result for ketosis macros

Fasting is a surefire protocol to fast-track your way into ketosis. Cravings literally disappear. You’ll no longer be in a glucose-dependent cycle, but rather a fat burning one; replete with energy and clear-headedness. Depending on if your body primarily runs on fat or sugar will dictate how long it takes for you to enter nutritional ketosis. Eating too much protein or carbs will usually knock you out of ketosis. Below is a graph that shows when your blood sugars drop, ketosis is induced.

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Here are the benefits of doing extended fasts (4-10 days):

  • Reduces inflammation
  • Normalizes blood pressure
  • Has the ability to reverse type-2 diabetes
  • Neurogenesis (Creation of new brain cells)
  • Fat loss
  • Destroys any unwanted food cravings
  • Increases energy
  • Improves sense of well being
  • Stabilizes mood from blood sugar regulation
  • Reduces insulin which in turn lowers triglycerides and improves HDL cholesterol
  • Increases immune function
  • Eliminates the chance of cancer cell expansion
  • The ultimate detoxification process, better than most cleanses that are marketing scams which are ineffective
  • Helps with any autoimmune problems
  • Better, more restorative sleep
  • Increases the effects of chemotherapy
  • Anti-aging benefits and cognitive enhancement. Helps with a cloudy brain
  • Fights all chronic diseases
  • Fasting shows instant improvements for patients with rheumatoid arthritis

People who shouldn’t do extended fasts:

  • Children
  • Women trying to get pregnant or those who are breastfeeding
  • Anyone with a very low body fat percentage, who are malnourished, or are under an 18.5 BMI

 

A Timeline of my 7-day fast experience

Pre-fast weight: 223

Day 1

Felt good throughout the whole day. This day is usually the hardest along with the 2nd day, but is a lot more pleasant than when i did it last year. Not too hungry and mental clarity seemingly beginning to shine through the cracks. Sleep was historically good, maybe the best I’ve had in a year– cycling through all the cycles of dream-sleep and deep sleep

Consumption: 3/4th gallon of water with Himalayan sea salt. Vitamins B and C.

Day 2

Weight: 218

After an amazing nights sleep, feeling much more grounded and focused today. Feelings of elation and hyper-activeness are surging through me. Hunger pangs haven’t shown themselves. A midday walk was filled with creativity and wandering thoughts. Got a bit tired toward the evening time.

Consumption: a gallon of water with a pinch of sea salt. 1 cup of black coffee. Vitamins B and C

Day 3

Weight: 216

Another pretty good night of sleep. Completely in ketosis. Went for a casual morning walk around sunrise. Mentally sharp and extremely focused. A brief moment of weakness occurred in the evening, but was fleeting. Hunger is neutralized.

Consumption: Gallon of water with a pinch of Himalayan sea salt. A half a cup of black coffee. Vitamins B and C

Day 4

Weight: 215

Feeling the best I’ve felt all week. In complete ketosis now, as my readings are showing 4.0 mmol/L or better (Using ketone strips via urine you can identify how deep of ketosis you’re in which means your body is now using fat as fuel and insulin is low; great for longevity.) Everything I’m reading is being retained faster than normal and my well being is excellent. The psychological factor of food is beginning to settle in. Lots of stimuli is easy to repress for a short while, but not it’s seeping through the cracks. That said, I’m not physically hungry.

Consumption: A little over a gallon of water. Half a cup of black coffee. Vitamins B and C.

Day 5

Weight: 211

Last night got the worst sleep I’ve gotten since I started. Restless, insufficient sleep. Presumably, did not get into the slow wave delta sleep since I’m a bit on edge in the morning and not as sharp. I decided to take a longer-than-usual walk and that really knocked me on my ass. Felt completely enfeebled and was contemplating throwing in the towel for the fast, but i knew this was common and your body goes through phases of adjusting energy systems. For 3 hours I felt unsettled then it passed and I felt a lot better after i brought down my heart rate and had some water with sea salt. I’m guessing the lack of sleep made my blood sugars get a little wonky thereby inducing a state of panic on the nervous system. That night everything stabilized and started feeling good again

Consumption: Gallon of water with Himalayan sea salt. Vitamins B and C

Day 6

Weight: 209

Slept pretty well last night. A lot better than the previous night. Brain is functioning high again, body is getting a little run down. No exercise today. The external stimuli of food is definitely enticing me to eat now. Constantly thinking one more day, but still not feeling all that bad.

Consumption: Gallon of water with himalayan sea salt. Cup of organic Chai tea. Vitamins B and C

Day 7

Weight: 207

Woo! We made it! Although I slept a paltry 4 hours due to becoming a bit dehydrated in the evening, all is freaking well. Energy is very good. Finally get back  to the gym and lift weights with having not eaten in 7 days. My strength hasn’t waned much at all. About 2% of max strength has declined. My stamina has been compromised a bit though as I feel myself panting much faster than normal. After I worked out there was still about 2 hours before I finish the fast. As odd as it sounds, I definitely felt as if I could go another day, but let’s not get crazy here. Broke the fast around 4pm with watermelon, steamed broccoli, and some various other blended fruit. Boy, was it a joyous experience. Everything tasted so authentic and flavorful.

Breaking The Fast

Breaking a fast isn’t something to play around with. People have suffered many complications from coming out of a fast full tilt; eating whatever they want. Since the long fast has repaired the body, it also has basically shut down digestion and in order to reboot it, you must have a reintroductory phase of eating. The following two days after an extended fast must consist of blended fruit shakes and steamed veggies then you ease your way into harder-to-digest foods in the subsequent days. The enzymes that breakdown food need a little time to reactivate, so this 36-48 hour period must be dealt with patience.

Final Thoughts

Total weight loss: 16 lbs (223 to 207)

Total hours fasted: 168 (7 days)

Peak ketone reading: 5.5 mmol/L

In conclusion, the fast was an enlightening, emboldening experience. Overall, it was a revelatory adventure. I felt amazing for about 96% of the 7 days, which in my estimation is from being used to intermittent fasting (my current dietary protocol) The mental clarity and enhancement of senses was truly remarkable. The introspection aspect of noticing how hunger comes in waves and how we aren’t really ever starving, but rather conditioned to eat from routine and psychological, external stimulus. Majority of the time I felt a newfound appreciation for being in the moment with a heightened sense of stillness and focus. Anxiety didn’t exist at all throughout the fast. The profound energy and motivation is indescribable unless you try it. I did not do this fast to lose weight, but instead to get the cerebral and anti-inflammatory benefits after a gluttonous holiday which help for the future. Some of the nights of sleep were the deepest I’ve experienced since being a kid.

My mood and well-being were in great spirits. Thoughts, creativity, and reading comprehension ostensibly worked better and more fluidly than when I am in a fed-state. You also notice how everything you consume in life has an effect on your entire bodily system from sleep to mood swings to energy. A 24-hour fast once a week should be a staple in everyone’s lifestyle to let your body heal and repair.

Personal experimentation is one of the rites of passages of  being a human being. Not just one dietary protocol works for everyone, but fasting is built into our DNA. Give it a try. You won’t wither away, the body wasn’t designed to let us perish when a little bit of stress is on us. We are built to survive and minor stressors on the body can, in the end, strengthen it.

Chronic diseases are costing us billions of dollars as a nation and it’s only getting worse. Inflammation is the precursor to chronic diseases and what causes inflammation? sugar, obesity, stress, drugs, overtraining, overeating, injuries, infections, sleep deprivation, and diseases. What helps all of those?

 

Fasting.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Deeper Than Calories

Many people have often touted “It’s all about calories in and calories out,” but that doesn’t show the whole picture. If it really was that simple, all anyone would have to do is starve themselves and workout voraciously, but unfortunately — the human body is smarter than that. Hormones play a major role in our everyday lives. All calories aren’t created equal. Everything we consume has a metabolic response, and since everyone’s anatomically different, the effects vary from each individual to the other. Counting calories has been focal point for most of the fitness industry for the past umpteenth years, but somehow we’re the most obese we’ve ever been. Of course cutting back on calories will lead to initial weight loss, but there’s a law of diminishing returns involved if you will. Quality over quantity.

If you walk into any supermarket, you can easily read any nutritional label and check for it’s calorie number. Most people live and die by this. Empty calories often found in snacks and sugary drinks set off a ton of fire alarms in your gut that signal hunger. For example, eating 300 calories of Doritos versus 300 calories of Broccoli has a completely different result, internally. The broccoli will provide satiety, essential vitamins, and dietary fiber; whereas the Doritos will barely fill you up and will increase your hunger hormone Gherlin, leaving you starving again shortly after with no nutritionally value left in your system. Whole, natural foods not only provide you with proper nutrients, they also normalize your hormones.

Weight loss and fat loss are not the same. You can lose weight via dehydration (usually why the scale will often fluctuate day to day) and muscle loss. Doing a ton of cardio will elevate your cortisol hormone which in turn breaks down muscle. You’ll see the weight drop at the expense of your muscles. The more muscle you have on your body the higher your resting metobolic rate (a fancy term for metabolism) will be. If you’re constantly wasting muscle from abusing cardio and elevating your hormones then you’ll slow down your metabolism. On the other hand, fat loss takes time and proper eating. You can’t outrun a bad diet forever. Fat loss also has much to do with hormone stabilization. High levels of your stress hormone cortisol tends to deposit fat in those stubborn areas where you can’t seem to lose fat.

Fat loss is primarily dependent on your insulin sensitivity. Insulin is a storage hormone that gets released when there’s glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream. In order to remove the excess sugar in the blood, insulin either uses it to store fat or use it as fuel. The foods that increase blood-sugar and insulin are high-sugar, carb foods. Refined sugar, white flour, and grains all put you at a metabolic pitfall especially if your insulin hormone isn’t sensitive. We desensitize ourselves and become insulin resistent from incessant consumption and overeating simple carbs. Sugar is everywhere and it’s profitable from it’s addictive properties and lengthy shelf life. The food industry is privy to this which is exactly why it’s advertised ad nauseam. Skinny people have great insulin sensitivity and obese people usually suffer from a metabolic syndrome such as insulin resistance or leptin resistance. You can repair yourself and lose fat by eating healthy fats, lean proteins, complex carbs, and by restricting the time you eat i.e, eating from 12-8pm then fast the remaining hours a couple times a week.

On paper, calorie restriction should seem like a surefire way to lose weight right? Just eat less calories a day and workout more, that way you’ll be in a negative energy balance thus the weight will just come off. It’s deeper than that though. Just remember, there’s always a trade off and there’s no free lunches in life. Everything has a reaction and a consequence. To illuminate this fallacy, let me give you a notable example. Contestants on the show “Biggest Loser” were tracked 6 years after participating and losing a wide range of weight. One contestant lost 239 pounds in 7 months. Weight loss that’s done that swiftly is never good because your body is yearning to get back to its body set point, so you have to diligently observe and outsmart your body which your willpower isn’t equipped for. But back to the biggest loser contestants. These people all lost over hundred pounds by severely restricting their calories and working out nonstop. 6 years later, almost all of them had regained the weight and some with interest. What had happened overtime is that their thyroid gland which is the regulator of your metabolism, slowed down. Your body does this when it senses something going awry, so it starts making it harder for you to burn fat in prevention of withering away and food then has double the metabolic response. Their hormones became wonky and food eventually just stuck because it wasn’t being burned as efficiently.

The human body is a complexed machine. Sleep is the best hormone stabilizer. We evolved over millions of years to adapt to our surroundings and to stay true to our genetic and molecular structure. Understanding your body and what your sensitive to will put you in fine health. Calories are just a piece of the puzzle to losing weight. The myriad variables that contribute to your health are all necessary because Rome was not built in a day. Balance and moderation is key. Stepping outside your comfort zone and treating your body as if it’s the only one you’ll ever have will prompt you to act accordingly and healthfully. body-is-a-machine

The Wonderful Power of a Nap

Life has its way of wearing us down. From the hyper-connectivity social media frenzy to the busybody work days we put ourselves through; seldom do we have time to sit back and recharge. Since we often sleep-procrastinate mainly because of our fear of missing out, it’s hard to ever catch up on the unpaid sleep debt. Telling ourselves, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is good enough to accelerate our demise. Sleep is crucial; it essentially keeps our bodies stable and repairs our system, internally and externally. However, some of our livelihoods prevent of us from getting adequate sleep time, so we constantly put it off — unaware of the noxious effects that’s being placed upon us for every minute lost. Recently, napping has been proven to increase memory and restore an insufficient night’s sleep.

Fortunately, researchers at Sorbonne university in Paris found that just a 30-minute nap can reverse the deleterious effects of a short night’s sleep. The study was conducted on 11 healthy men between the ages of 25 and 32. The first night, all participants had a sufficient 8 hours of sleep. The second night, participants were limited to two hours of sleep. Upon waking up, researchers took samples of the participants urine and saliva to get a grasp of how the lack of sleep affected their hormonal levels. What researchers found was a major increase in norepinephrine — a stress hormone that raises blood sugar, heart rate, and blood pressure. Subsequently, the subjects napped for just 30 minutes and the results showed that all norepinephrine levels were returned to normal. This evinces the special restorative power of a day time power nap and how your brain recognizes that it must get the most of the abbreviated sleep session.

Another study conducted in Germany revealed that napping for 45 to 60 minutes can boost memory. Participants had to learn pairs of unconnected words and thereafter some were allowed to nap while others stayed up and watched a DVD. Those who napped were remarkably better at retrieving information. The brain’s region of memory — the hippocampus — seemed to be heightened after a nap.

Going forward, it would be wise of companies who push a lot of monotonous, mind-numbing tedium on employees to implement a nap period for better business. Google and technology-based companies have already added this to their work schedule to get the best of our their workers. Schools may soon do the same, so that students can be better apt to learning things in the allotted 8-9 hour school day rather than bringing work home to a distraction-filled environment. Napping can also increase alertness and we all know how many accidents occur because of a lack of sleep. If you’re feeling lethargic and sleepy, your brain might be directing you in the direction that will save your life. Nap your way to better productivity.

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The Future of Selfies

In a distant, alternate universe, Tami has just snapped and shared her 10,000th selfie. She becomes the first person to do so in a mere 5 years. Tami is lauded by the entire planet; as fans fantasize about being able to achieve such a feat, they begin to try to mimic her perfection. Tami, a 25-year-old self-employed model, feels highly empowered by giving people a chance to witness her unprecedented beauty. Tabloids swoon over catching her in the act of posing for a selfie. She’s a role model. A saint. A woman of valor with a smug attitude that everyone ought to aspire to have. She has told people that her narcissism and self-righteousness can be further extended and she therefore plans on upping her selfie capturing to uncharted heights. Her fans abound, and people can’t wait to see more of her. The future looks bright…

Suppose such a universe did exist; hey, it might be imperceptible and right in our backyard! I doubt it, but selfies have transformed the way you and I perceive each other. The images reflect a “me-first” connotation in an increasingly “me-first” society. We all witness people who post endless photos of themselves in a mild-mannered way. These people are harmless; they’re just presenting the fruits of their labor. It’s good to have confidence and a bit of egotism, which can fuel you to do bigger and better things, but when these habits become visceral compulsions—the need to post pictures of yourself—you need to lighten the load.

Selfies have become commonplace in society. We see them being snapped everywhere from funerals to doctor offices. Think of how rare it was to get a picture of someone back in the AOL instant-messaging days; you would have salivated just to see one selfie taken by the woman or man with whom you were in conversation. But now that technology continues to increase at an alarming rate, we have the resources to present ourselves in a plethora of different ways, and at the most unceremonious times.

Apps like Instagram and Snapchat encourage you to post as much as you can of whatever you want, and the most important “whatever” is yourself. So we are left with people posting the same selfies unendingly, because “it’s not nice to criticize people” and the apps essentially provoke you to share instantaneously. Just remember: anything done in moderation is fine, but, usually, familiarity breeds contempt. Too much of anything gets old really quickly. People who have that mysterious mystique about them tend to keep the audience on their toes.

Let me drop a term I learned in economics some years back that has stuck with me: the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility. This basically states that the more you have of a good, the less you desire it the next time. It applies to many things in life: food, music, SELFIES, etc. That said, the more often you post selfies, the less your audience is enraptured by each successive picture, given the short lapse of time in between them. This is not only directed at women; men tend to turn the camera on themselves a lot nowadays. Don’t get me wrong, I think most selfies that people take are appealing and worth viewing, but they can quickly become redundant.

When your relationship is seemingly flawless and your partner starts taking selfies, consider that a massive red flag. Selfies are toxic for dating; they can tear down a good relationship faster than a wrecking ball against a Lego set. That is because a selfie is inherently attention-seeking, and creates a chasm of uncertainty and insecurity from your partner who values you the most. You show me a relationship that has a lot of selfie-posting from either ends, and I’ll show you a relationship that has a short lifespan.

Sometimes the prettiest females are the ones who don’t know they’re pretty; the under-the-radar, coy individuals who rarely dive into their egos. Studies have claimed that frequent selfie sharers have a dark underlying factor linked to narcissism and traits of psychopathy. These studies are still in their nascent stages, but evidence is being corroborated by many different outlets. Kim Kardashian is releasing a book titled selfish, which is a compilation of selfies throughout her “hardscrabble” life. This highfalutin tale will probably have a great effect on young, impressionable minds; and, maybe for the worse. I do commend Kim’s ability to promote her brand from a business standpoint, but maybe not in such a gaudy and dishonorable way.

Now, what will happen to future generations who embark in the realm of “selfiedom”? Will there be a backlash against selfies for fear that too much pretention might make one un-relatable to more modest people? It all remains to be seen. Moreover, these apps that unveil our privacy and give constant viewership to our friends and family will not dominate our life forever. There will always be something new and innovative waiting around the corner. Hopefully the avant-garde of that “something” will unshackle us from the depths of conceit in which we’ve been buried. Vanity can be inherent, but that doesn’t mean we should look away from things of great value in life.

In my estimation, extreme selfie shooting will eventually become a diagnosed disorder—a compulsion to exhibit oneself for the approval of others—that will inevitably wane through digital detox. All phones are equipped with cameras, but once we decide to spend less time on the phone because we’re literally wasting our lives away, we’ll naturally see a decline in selfies. Until that time, embrace the countless selfies that people share without any qualms. My advice is to post selfies that are original but to post them infrequently, so your onlookers will eagerly anticipate the next one. The visual aesthetics of a female are one of the greatest sights we can glance at, but we don’t need Tami’s reality to become our own.

The-worst-selfies-via-RealClear.com_

When Does The Party End?

Here I am, Saturday night, listening to music (a constant that’ll forever remain unchanged) and reading articles. Five years ago, at age 21, I would have had a better chance of scoring a date with Beyonce than to be caught doing what I’m doing now. The unwavering ambition to party was unquantifiable. But things change, right? It’s natural; the party cannot last forever. I suppose, growing older does make you more responsible in terms of bodily preservation and the forethought of having to deal with a harrowing hangover makes drinking seem a bit distasteful. Everyone wants to have fun, but everyone’s definition of fun may vary. One avenue of fun we can all agree on is partying; but why is that? Why is it so hard to be sober and have fun while everyone is raging and basking in drunken shenanigans?

Back in college, on the weekends, you can almost guarantee that about 85% of the students on & off campus were devising plans to get rowdy no matter what. If a tornado was on the doppler radar, that just meant to find a basement to imbibe in – where there’s a will, there’s a way. The ‘pleasure demand’ was sky-high. People just wanted to enjoy themselves, whether it be sexually or “alcholically;” this epicurean lifestyle would flourish most in college – where freedom meets a whole lot of raging hormones and peer pressure.

For some people, that behavior can persist throughout a lifetime. For others, the lifestyle may have an expiration date – I guess it has myriad factors all of which lead to how the pleasure affects you. But one thing that is glaring to me when looking back at high school & college was the immediacy of friendship needs which may inevitably engender partying, in one form or another. For example, think about how often you would be hanging out with one of your peers. Even if it were just watching TV or bullshitting over a past-happening, you almost unconsciously gravitated toward your friends. Introspection may be a natural derivative of maturing, but it’s hard not to look back and wish you were still close-linked like you were during those unforgettable days.

Now, when you get with your friends to carouse the town, it doesn’t have the same spark as when you were younger. Well, it’s probably because it has become superfluous, and everyone tends to be scatter-brained; fretting about things that are soon to come. Some people can bury their head in the sand and party daily with no remorse. I commend these brave ragers. But, for me, and many of my counterparts – we’ve curtailed the partying about 65%. Staying in on some weekends is just the way of the future. Being able to be able-bodied and productive without wallowing in bed, unable to sleep, is a major trade-off. However, people grow, things change – our generation of big kids still lusts for happiness and yearns for excitement. That’s how we feel alive. That said, the partying will never end, but for some people past their peak, it will be greatly reduced. Old habits die hard…

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Exercise Your Way to a Better Brain

Motion is self-expanding. We can easily succumb to the nonchalance of sitting on a couch and watching endless hours of Netflix. However, a sedentary approach to life is a shortcut to an accelerated death. To grow and live long, we must stay in motion. Physical activity endeavors from Pilates to sports to yoga all contribute handsomely to enhancing your body not just physically, but mentally. All the small things add up in the end, but we can temporarily obviate our inevitable demise by expending more kinetic energy, daily. The benefits of the impacts that exercise places on your brain are enough to convince any sane person to get moving post-haste. The brain can atrophy (cerebral atrophy) just like muscles can with underuse.

Throughout life we are battered by pangs of distress, emotional despondency, injuries, illnesses, diseases, hapless happenings, brain cell deterioration, etc. Moreover, most of these maladies come at the expense of our own ignorance. We’re taught early in life how important physical activity is in gym class. Some of us adhere, some throw the information in the back of our cerebellum only to be retrieved when it’s too late; or when we’ve been perturbed by unsettling news that an impending problem with our body will soon be taking place.

One of my favorite platitudes that I can’t say enough, “The time is now,” really hits the nail on the head on why we shouldn’t delay the advancement of our mind & bodies because tomorrow is truly not guaranteed. I understand how easy it is to be lazy; the willingness to not unleash any energy seems like a quality that an obese society cherishes. There’s too many avenues of contentment and complacency that, and much to our own chagrin, end up withering us away — even unknowingly.

Neurobiologically, exercise releases cortisol — the stress hormone that increases fat and stifles memory consolidation — which is a major benefit to adapting to stressors that may offset your system’s homeostasis. Along with strengthening your immune system, exercise can increase euphoria and feelings of bliss by the production of endorphins. Hence the term “Runner’s high” that befalls you once you reach a plateau of running and the feeling of comfortability and oneness with the specific activity. Long walks stimulate creativity and de-stress you from whatever may be burdening you at the moment.

Alzheimer’s, the terrible neurodegenerative disease that affects millions of people,  can be slowly prevented by increasing your movement. Scientists and psychologists have proven that a reduction of cognitive decline can be the result of implementing small, 20-30 minute routines into your daily regimen. Obesity is a big risk factor for Alzheimer’s, so continuing to shed body weight can stave off the eventual disease and lower the incidence rate.

Cognitive functioning and brain plasticity will be expanded 10-fold by instituting any form of aerobic exercise into your lifestyle. The brain will become sharper, motor skills will improve, brain fogginess will subside, the ability to learn new things will increase, and your memory will strengthen. These are advantageous points enough to keep you from ever wanting to take the escalator again.

As time progresses, we slowly lose more and more brain cells. We just aren’t made to last forever. Our bodies fade just as ink does on a sopping wet canvas. Death is inescapable, but we can decelerate the process by becoming more active. A civilization in motion is one that is highly prosperous and productive. Showing our kids the importance of ‘go-getter-ness’ and relaying the undeniable benefits of movement can take our planet to greater heights. As the battle with obesity and decline in brain functioning continues, understand that you choose whether or not you want to make yourself better. Be wise, get moving.

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5 Ways Your Brain Tricks You

Every decision we make goes through a bevy of obstacles before we reach the “final answer.” Our cognition is affected by everything from genes to mood to upbringing. We often think we are impartial in our steps to coming to a decision, but our brains sometimes will say otherwise. Here, I present five cognitive biases—an error in thinking, or a distortion of our perception of reality—that blur our views on things and allow us to be led astray by irrationality.

Confirmation Bias

This widely popular bias can be reinforced by any immediate search engine. Confirmation bias is the tendency to confirm whatever unsubstantiated, preconceived belief you have by only searching for information that bolsters your view and disregards disconfirming evidence. For example, on Twitter, there’s a “search” function, which allows you to type in queries on anything you want. So, if you want to confirm your bias that a movie is terrible, just type in the keywords “Godzilla” and “Terrible,” and you’ll find people agreeing with your bias, thus reinforcing your previously held notion. I find myself doing this time to time; it does offer up a pang of satisfaction.

Hindsight Bias

Ever get the feeling that you “knew it all along” after the occurrence of something has taken place? If so, you may be suffering from hindsight bias. It is an illusion that an event is more predictable after-the-fact rather than before. We often don’t “know it all along,” but since our brain tricks us, we selectively recall information that may have been slightly presented to us then we rearrange the narrative to make it seem like we did. This can oversimplify natural cause and effect properties, and create a chasm in understanding because it was so seemingly “predictable.”

Gambler’s Fallacy

When a person believes that the probability of an event happening again is decreased because it has already happened, it is a glitch in thinking. This fallacy is ubiquitous in casinos, and owners dupe gamblers by making them think that each spin at the roulette table is NOT independent of the previous spin, but that’s erroneous. When you witness black come out 60 times in a row, it does not mean that the chances of red coming out next are higher than the last spin. Why? Because each spin (or event) is independent, meaning the probabilities reset back to their normal standards. The chances of a coin being flipped heads or tails is always 50 percent, regardless of what has happened before.

Negativity Bias

The old platitude, “Bad news travels fast” fits perfectly with this bias. Negativity has a stronger impact on us than positive experiences. This can be seen as a defense mechanism to shield ourselves from future negative situations. Our amygdala—the fear center in our brain—has been honed to protect us from threats by inducing responses that increase our chemicals to preserve ourselves. All news outlets thrive off of bad news, and we seem to succumb to that because we get comfortable with thinking “that’s not us; I should be grateful.” Think about how negative comments stick with you much longer than positive ones. Evolutionarily speaking, negativity reminds us that we’re fragile and not perfect, so it keeps our heads up in times of hardship.

The Ingroup Bias

Everyone has had their “cliques” or “crews” back in the day. Remember thinking that your crew was better than any outside one? The ingroup bias is a condition in which you favor people that belong to your group over ones who don’t. This bias can be harmless when speaking of elementary school, but it can stir up hate and anguish toward others when infused in something like religion. Fundamental religion subscribers often take umbrage to people who oppose their beliefs and will act unscrupulously because “their” group is correct. This can undeniably distort our vision of what’s reasonable and what isn’t.

The next time you’re at an intersection of uncertainty, be wise; make sure to consider that your brain may be leaning toward a bias of which you are unaware.

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