Thursday, May 11, 2017

Work + Playgrounds

Hey, hey! Happy Friday, friends!

I’m so glad that the weekend is just about here. We actually have another family sleepover planned for the weekend – this time with cousin Matthew (Qman is obsessed with him!) as well as my sister, brother-in-law, and niece. Having the whole family sleepover is such a great way to spend more than a few hours together because (I’m sure the parents can relate) it’s difficult to coordinate nap and bedtimes, so we just make them part of our visit. Family sleepovers are the best! 🙂 Anyway… here’s a little day in the life recap from earlier this week.

My morning started with rice cakes, nut butter (peanut butter on one, almond butter on the other), and banana slices, which is definitely a go-to for me on the LEAP diet. Related: I actually had a call with Kelli on Wednesday, and she gave me the green light for introducing some new foods, so I’m excited to add a little more variety to me diet!

After that, I took Murphy for a walk while Mal was still home and able to keep an eye on Qman. Now that the weather is getting warmer, I really enjoy our walks together. I love the quiet time and fresh air – it’s such a nice way to start the day. (Our early-morning walks in the dead of winter, however, are quite a different story! OMGGGG, Murphy, hurry up and pee! Haha!)

When we returned, it was time for coffee. Well, sort of. I’m still not gung-ho about it, but I have cravings for the habit every now and then. If I buy coffee nowadays, I always order it decaf and often order a small or only drink half of a medium and save the rest for later. Pro-tip: Remove all of the ice before saving (so it doesn’t get watered down) and then just add fresh ice when you’re ready to drink it. Good as new!

Shortly after that, I get Quinn ready for school. Before we’re ready to leave, he takes his bike for a few laps of the house.

I drop Quinn at daycare and then drive straight to Coffee Shack to buy (thank you) donuts for the owners of Salt Shack CrossFit. Details below.

Kerrie joins me for class, and it’s fun to work out together like old times. She beats me in the WOD by a solid two minutes, but I definitely pushed myself harder than I normally would, just trying to keep up with her, so it was just what I needed!

After the workout, I refuel with a protein shake and then Kerrie and I stay after class to chat about Designed to Fit with the owners. They love the donuts! 🙂

Then, I head to a friend’s house (she lives right near Salt Shack) to chat about meal plans. She buys one! 🙂

The morning ends up getting away from me, so instead of going home and showering (I know, I’m gross), I head right to the (unofficial) Designed to Fit office to meet Kerrie.

We’re all business for a bit, but then I’m suddenly starving, so I sneak over to Whole Foods to grab lunch.

After that, it’s back to work. (We had a zillion meetings and calls this past week!)

I’m suppose to meet Mal to do some window shopping for Quinn’s birthday, so I pack up my things and then head back to Whole Foods. I’m hungry again, and I want to stock up on some chicken breast that’s on sale. While there, I stumble upon Jubali almond milk, which is made from JUST almonds and water. Somehow, I manage to ignore the fact that it’s $11.99. Yikes.

I also grab an RXBAR and eat it while driving to meet Mal.

Mal and I check out a few different places that sell swing sets because a special little guy is turning 3 in just a few weeks. And, MY GOSH, they are expensive. Buying a new swing set is truly an investment! I hope Qman uses it for the next 10 years!

After that, we drive to daycare to pick up Qman. There’s a book sale going on, so we stop to buy a fun dinosaur counting one before we leave.

Then, we all head home, eat dinner, hang out for a bit, and go to bed.

The end.

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How Should We Harness Behavioral Economics for Better Health?

Man choosing healthy food. Abstract image with wooden puppetAs much as humans think they’re objective beings whose every decision emerges from cold logical calculation, we’re just irrational, emotional animals. That’s why stories and anecdotes are more convincing than facts, why people fear losing money twice as much as they enjoy making it, and why the guy making $100k per year feels poor if his neighbors make twice that. This kind of phenomenon is best explained by behavioral economics, a method of economic inquiry that uses psychological, emotional, cognitive, and social factors to explain why we make the often-irrational financial choices we do. And it has some interesting applications for health….

In a recent piece in the NY Times, a doctor discussed how health care professionals are beginning to leverage behavioral economics to make their patients healthier. He begins with a few examples of behavioral economics in action.

People are more likely to choose an option if it’s the default position. In one study, countries where people had to opt-out of organ donation had organ donor rates of over 90%, compared to donor rates of 4 to 27% in places where people had to opt-in.

People are more likely to make a decision when given fewer options. Too many options make decision-making harder, as anyone who’s spent two hours reading hand blender reviews on Amazon before giving up and ordering nothing can tell you.

While we wait for the experts and authorities to fine-tune their benevolent social nudges, how can we take advantage of behavioral economics for our own health?

Penalties Work Better Than Rewards

People hate losing money. Future rewards are just that: in the future. They’re abstractions. Forking over money, placing your own hard-earned cash in limbo while you succeed or fail is very real. You had money, then it went away. That’s happening in the present moment, and you feel it—rather poignantly. As behavioral economics pioneers Kahneman and Tversky said in 1979, “losses loom larger than gains.”

Stickk was created by a behavioral economist who knew the power of loss aversion. With StickK, users interested in accomplishing a goal formally make a commitment to reach that goal by a certain date and put some of their own money on the line to be forfeited if the commitment is not fulfilled. You set the goal, lay out the stakes of your commitment (how much money, if any, will you put on the line, and where will the money go if you fail?), choose a “referee” to track your progress, keep you honest and report your progress to StickK, and choose other StickK users as supporters to cheer you on. Choose a goal template or create your own from scratch. Goals can be ongoing commitments requiring constant check-ins, or one-time things where you either succeed or fail.

Another option is Pavlok, a device created by the guy who paid a woman off Craigslist to slap him across the face each time he stopped focusing on his work. You strap the Pavlok onto your wrist—it looks a lot like a FitBit—and decide on a bad habit you’d like to break or a good one you’d like to establish. Each time you fail to hold your side of the bargain, the Pavlok zaps you with a mild but uncomfortable electric shock. (This option might not be for everyone, but I’d love to hear from those who do try it.)

Don’t Shop When You’re Hungry

Shopping for anything when hungry is a bad idea. Studies show that hunger increases the amount we spend, even if we’re shopping for something totally unrelated to food. When you’re hungry, you desire more of everything.

Hungry grocery shoppers make worse choices, too, choosing unhealthier, higher-calorie junk food over healthier, lower-calorie real food.

To this, I’d also add the tangentially related “Don’t go out to eat at an expensive sushi restaurant if you’re starving.” There’s no quicker way to run up a bill.

If you must go shopping while hungry, prepare a list beforehand. That list will be your life vest of rationality in the stormy, boiling sea of gurgling stomach juices drifting you toward the snack aisle.

Sink Your Costs in Health

You may have heard of the “sunk cost fallacy”—which describes how people feel compelled to stick with something they’ve already paid for, even if it’s horrible, just to “get their money’s worth.” It usually refers to a negative, harmful behavior.

Sometimes the sunk cost mentality is helpful, though. Wasting 3 hours of your life on an awful movie just bcause you paid $12 is bad. Going to the gym three times a week for a full year because you paid $1000 for the year membership up front is good. Both are sunk costs, but one has a good result. Other examples of positive sunk costs include personal training sessions, massage sessions, expensive exercise equipment (barbells, stationary bikes, kettlebells, etc).

Price matters here. The sunk cost effect will be greater the higher your initial investment. It’s harder to ignore a $1000-a-year membership at the local powerlifting gym than it is to ignore the Planet Fitness package you got for less than $100.

Surround Yourself with People Making the Choices You Want to Make

According to a 2013 study, people tend to converge to the lowest common denominator. Office workers were all given access to treadmill desks, then followed for six months. When people got regular updates about everyone else’s treadmill usage, they used them less, regressed to the lowest common denominator. When people didn’t know how often the others were using the treadmills, usage went up.

Since social media and basic physical proximity make it nearly impossible ot avoid knowing what everyone else is doing, your best bet is to surround yourself with people doing awesome, healthy things on a regular basis. Follow Facebook and Instagram friends with healthy habits. Train at a gym where the other people’s feats inspire you. Make sure the lowest common denominator is higher than most.

Order Groceries

When you’re at the grocery store, even a healthy one like Whole Foods, they’re tugging on your emotions and base desires at every turn. I don’t fault them for it. It’s how merchandising works. Just know that’s what you’re walking into, unless you decide not to walk into the store at all.

These days, that’s actually possible. You can order groceries from a place like Thrive (my favorite) or Instacart. Instead of idly browsing through the entire store’s inventory, where you might run into something junky, you search for the exact categories you want, and then you browse. If you don’t want the gluten-free almond flour macaroons you can’t ever walk past, you simply don’t search for them.

Don’t Just Imagine the Worst Possible Scenario—Feel It

In an effort to dissuade cigarette usage, many countries have established laws requiring the use of graphic warning labels that depict potential consequences of long-term smoking, in lurid detail. Does the sight of a cancerous orifice, tracheotomy hole, or dead body make people more likely to try quitting? It appears so. Graphic warning labels correlate with both more attempts to quit and reduced rates of smoking

This can work for everyday health practices, too. Immerse yourself in graphic, visceral evidence of the worst thing than can happen to you if you don’t lose weight/exercise/do what you need to do.

Prediabetic? Rev up the images of diabetic foot amputations and festering sores.

Stiff and inactive? Look up knee replacements, watch arthroscopic surgery videos.

Make Healthy Food and Exercise the Default

We stick with the default option more often than not. It’s harder to opt-out than opt-in. Make it so that you have to opt-out of eating right and exercising.

Every Sunday, do meal prep for the rest of the week. Cook up a big batch of something. That way, if you want something unhealthy, you have to “opt-out” of eating the healthy food you already have prepared and ready to go. This also works on smaller scales, such as keeping hard-boiled eggs on hand or chopping veggies and prepping salad makings days in advance.

A few ideas for making exercise and movement the default position:

Start active commuting to work.

Eliminate your office chair. Force yourself to stand (or walk).

Keep a kettlebell (or barbell, or dumbbell, or weight vest, or any piece of equipment) right outside your bedroom door. Whenever you wake up, there it is waiting for you.

Behavioral economics is powerful and, in my opinion, quite accurate. Most of us “use” it every day without even realizing it. How else can you leverage behavioral economics to make it easier to eat, move, and live Primally?

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care.

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How to Shop the Farmer’s Market on a Budget

One of the best things about the arrival of spring is the re-emergence of farmer’s markets. Who doesn’t love a good weekend stroll through rows of locally grown produce? But although the produce is fresh and beautiful, it can also be quite expensive. Instead of dropping $10 on two apples and a carton of berries, use these dietitian-approved money saving tips to spare your wallet during your next trip to the farmer’s market.

 

1. Get to know your farmer.

Farmers are people too! Because they spend all day standing around in what can be rough climates, they like to break up the day and have a conversation about the produce. Farmers are passionate about their work and they’ll appreciate when you are too,” says Christy Brissette, MSc, RD of 80 Twenty Nutrition. She adds that striking up a conversation with a local farmer will not only provide insight into the origins of your food, but you may also find some extra veggies added to your bag. Plus, you’ll have made a knowledgeable friend, who can help you navigate the ins and outs of the market.

 

2. Choose ‘ugly’ produce.

Did you know that fruits and veggies that are considered “ugly” or have minor cosmetic irregularities are often discarded before packaging? Many think this produce is bad or doesn’t contain the same nutrients, but Stephanie McKercher, MS, RDN, of  The Grateful Grazer says otherwise. “Ugly fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious and flavorful as the produce in your supermarket, and they’re typically sold at much lower prices.” she says. Not only will buying ‘ugly produce’ spare your wallet, but it will also prevent excessive food waste.

 

3. Make a list

Going to the market without a list of your “must-have” items can cause aimless wandering. You may also be more likely to blow your budget on a fancy bag of pretzels and some homemade baked goods, only to return home with virtually no produce and an empty wallet. Instead, make a list of items you need, and take seasonal produce into consideration. Whatever is in season at the time is usually abundant on the farm, which makes it a cheap option. Having a list stocked with seasonal produce ensures you will get the most bang for your buck.

 

4. Grow your own

Saving money is not always about the short-term. “To save money in the long run, I buy a potted herb plant that will continue to produce in the future, rather than buying one pack of cut herbs,” says Ginger Hultin MS RDN CSO, owner of ChampagneNutrition. If you have a real green thumb, some farmers sell seedlings so that you can plant your own produce at home. And since these farmers are experts in growing, you can pick their brains about how to get the most out of your crop.

 

5. Shop later in the day

Since produce doesn’t stay fresh forever, farmers are very eager to sell it at the market, rather than take it back to the farm. “If you shop in the last hour of the day, you can get amazing produce, seafood and other perishables for great deals,” says Brissette. This means less work and cleanup for the farmers and more money in your pocket.

 

 

Natalie Rizzo, M.S., R.D., is a media dietitian, food and nutrition writer, spokesperson and blogger at Nutrition à la Natalie.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.



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The Junction Of Love

Yesterday evening Thomas and I met my friend Dana for a little photo shoot in downtown Belmont. I am showcasing a few dresses for an upcoming post (coming soon!), and I thought getting out on the town would make for a much prettier background than taking iPhone photos in front of a mirror : ) Dana did a superb job, and I can’t wait to share them!

We had every intention of cooking some salmon at home last night, but the shoot took longer than expected and the Caps hockey game was on at 7:30 (!!) so for time’s sake we popped into Junction for a quick dinner since we were right there. I’ve been wanting to go since it opened, and it did not disappoint!

I wasn’t super hungry so I ordered an arugula salad with goat cheese, fried tomatillos and mahi mahi on top. T had the mahi fish tacos, which were excellent – especially with this great hot sauce they bring to the table. He shared a taco with me!

To thumbs up, and we want to go back when we have more time and appetite for all the chips and guac options!

We both had friends over last night for television viewing: his for hockey and hers for Survivor. Glad we have two TVs now! Survivor was a great episode, and I was very happy with the outcome. I am actually going to be in L.A. the night of the Survivor finale, so if you know anyone ANYONE who might be able to get me finale tickets, please know I would faint with excitement. Otherwise I might seek out an after party!

I am enjoying berries with yogurt for breakfast today. Keepin’ it simple because I am kiddo free.

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