Monday, December 11, 2017

Moms’ Staycation at The Langham Hotel (via HotelTonight)

Hi, guys! I hope you had a nice weekend! Mine was a lot of fun and included an overnight “staycation” with some girlfriends in Boston. We’re all moms and don’t getaway for the night all too often, so we took full advantage of our mini vaca! 🙂

I partnered with HotelTonight to reserve our hotel rooms for the night. Never heard of HotelTonight? Well, you are in for a treat. It’s a really cool app. HotelTonight is actually the leading mobile app for hotel bookings last-minute and beyond. If you’ve ever been in position where you need a hotel room ASAP, HotelTonight ensures that there’s always a quality hotel room at the lowest possible rate in 1,700 cities and 35 countries.

HotelTonight is primarily used for hotel stays booked within a week or less, but Boston is one of several markets where there’s a 100-day advance booking window. (Other key cities with this offer include NYC, LA, SF, Miami, Vegas, Paris, London, and more.) We booked our “staycation” about a month ago and the app had tons of rooms at great prices to select from. When hotel partners have unsold rooms, they load them onto the app at low prices, which means big savings for those using the app. We ended up picking The Langham, a 5-star hotel, in the heart of the city. We used a credit from HotelTonight to reserve it and the rate was very affordable, especially for downtown Boston.

Since its launch in 2011, HotelTonight has been downloaded 25 million times and it’s available for FREE on iOS and Android. Definitely check it out if you haven’t yet! Download the app here. And if you use my referral code on your first booking through the app, you can save $25! Just use promo code TIHAUPERT.

Once we were all checked in at The Langham, we headed upstairs to our rooms to get settled. The rooms were gorgeous, and we were able to request two double beds in each one.

Cheers to moms’ night out!

Once we were ready for our evening out, we headed downstairs to BOND, a swanky restaurant and lounge at the hotel, for a cocktail.

After that, we all hopped in an Uber to dinner.

Yay, snow!

We went to dinner at Yvonne’s, which we had all heard great things about – and it did not disappoint!

We shared a bunch of small plates for dinner – chicken quinoa meatballs, flatbread pizza, hummus, and more. Everything was delicious!

The ladies!

After dinner, we debated going out and dancing somewhere, but then someone suggested dessert and a nightcap back at the hotel, which sounded a lot more appealing. Ha! Apparently, us moms aren’t that crazy after all! 🙂

We ended up staying up pretty late, chatting and laughing, before finally hitting the hay close to midnight. (I know, we are such party animals.)

The next morning, Marisa and I did a quickie workout in the hotel gym. (The other gals were at the hotel spa.)

Our workout was literally 15 minutes, and we both thought we were going to die, so we called it quits and went to find coffee and donuts instead.

Thankfully, Kane’s was a quick walk from the hotel.

Best. Decision. Ever.

With donuts in hand, Marisa and I headed back to the hotel. Then, it was our turn for the spa! We both got massages, and they were incredible. It was such a wonderful way to end a girls’ getaway!

Questions of the Day

Girls’ night: Would you rather go out dancing or enjoy some girl talk and dessert instead?

Have you ever used HotelTonight? If not, how do you typically book hotel rooms?

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Dear Mark: Delving Further Into Dopamine

Dear_Mark_Inline_PhotoFor today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m delving more deeply into dopamine. Readers asked some great questions and made some interest comments in the comment board of last week’s post on dopamine, and today I’m addressing three of them. First, how does caffeine related to dopamine? Second, what’s the deal with all my mention of pornography in the last post? And finally, is MDA just providing dopamine hits?

Let’s go:

David wondered:

I’ve often wondered about caffeine and its affect on the dopamine pathway. I’ve heard, but don’t know with total certainty, that it does, Does it increase dopamine production in the short term or just cell sensitivity (or some other mechanism?). And then have a resulting desensitizing result with long term use?

Yes. Caffeine affects the dopaminergic pathway. It stimulates the release of dopamine in the brain. It increases dopamine receptors in the striatum (the movement region) of the human brain. But unlike the false pleasures of getting the “likes” on Facebook or spending three hours a day having every sexual whim satisfied through virtual space, caffeine is context-dependent. Caffeine is what you make of it.

When I wake up well-rested after a good night’s sleep, a strong cup of coffee fills me with what I can only describe as productive optimism. I not only have more energy and am able to focus on the task at hand, I am excited about what the task at hand can lead to. I feel optimistic about life and that optimism increases my productivity. For that reason, I think caffeine when used appropriately as a boost to productive optimism rather than a replacement for sleep can really enhance our life and if anything improve our dopamine function. Consider where the French and American revolutions were planned: in coffee houses.

Of course, you can waste that window of dopaminergic productivity.

There’s probably some bias at play here. I love coffee and I’ve only ever found it to be a boon to my life and my health. But the preponderance of evidence supports my bias. Coffee just seems to be really really good for us, or at least not bad. Whether it’s randomized controlled trials or observational studies of a population, coffee consumption is consistently associated with protection from diseases like diabetes and dementia, reductions in oxidative stress, and improved mental performance.  It even compares favorably to most of the fancy new nootropic supplements out on the market; just recently, the creators of a nootropic supplement had to concede when an efficacy trial showed that caffeine was more effective than the product.

Ronda pointed out:

An awful lot of info about porn

You’re right. I did mention porn a lot, and I was a little trepidatious about doing so. In today’s climate anything sexual is characterized as wholly good and unimpeachable. I agree to a point—sex between people who care about, love, or at least consent to each other is great. There’s nothing wrong with that. And the evidence is quite clear that a healthy sex life leads to a healthy life in general. But something seems off about the idea of an entire generation of men and women satisfying their completely natural sexual urges not through actual sex but through watching other people doing it on the computer or their smart phones.

Some people throw out the fact that we’ve had porn forever, that you could find ancient Greek frescoes showing people in all sorts of sexual contortions. That’s true, but let’s be honest: an abstract fresco isn’t quite the same as 3-D VR porn. The porn today is a super normal stimulus in its intensity, its vividness, its realism, and its ease of access. Nobody’s sneaking their dad’s Playboys into the bathroom, looking over the shoulder, hoping not to get caught. No one’s scanning through the blocked cable channels straining to see a breast amidst the static. They’re getting anything they want, whenever they want, as often as they want. In many cases, it’s easier and arguably better than having to work for it and maybe coming up short or getting rejected. Porn is certainly more reliable than the real thing.

On the extreme end, you’ve got addiction to Internet porn, a real condition mediated by dopamine. Naltrexone, a medication that, among other things, inhibits opioid-induced augmentation of dopamine release, can successfully treat porn addiction.

But you don’t have to be clinically addicted for porn to have a negative effect on your life. You can choose it over real life.

And that’s my main objection to over-reliance on pornography, one that can affect anyone: it’s the easy way out, it lets you avoid the hard work.  Hard things are what make us humans. They shape us, teach us, make us stronger and more resilient. Ultimately, they make us happier. Porn is a poor substitute for all those things, but on a superficial level, in the immediate moment, it can seem good enough. And therein lies the danger.

Somewhat cheekily, HealthyHombre asked:

So my daily MDA fix is causing dopamine desensitization? ?

Actually, you’re not too far off. Coming to MDA every morning and getting some actionable advice, then telling yourself, “Oh, that sounds great. I’m going to do that/start that new workout/start getting more sleep/incorporate more colorful produce. And it feels damn good, and the dopamine flows, because that’s the first win.

The way any kind of lifestyle change works is that you first decide to do it—you hear some information, you read a book, something changes your mind—before you alter your course of being. So every change, every positive life change, every dietary improvement, starts with the mental decision. It’s necessary—but it’s not sufficient. And when we read self-improvement blogs or fitness blogs like Mark’s Daily Apple, we get the opportunity to make those those first changes every day. If we don’t follow up that initial blast of dopamine, it’s all for naught. Nothing happens and we end up chasing the dopamine high.

Keep reading MDA. Just make sure you’re not just reading it. If something I write appeals to you, something speaks to you, then try living it. Try doing it—and let me know how it turns out for you.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care!

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Dancing In A Winter Wonderland

^^Grammie sent Gussie this toy and he hasn’t put it down all weekend! (It was also mauled and brown with goo within 20 minutes of gifting. Gross Gus!)

We had quite the Christmas season weekend filled with parties, getting our tree, and SNOW!

On Friday night we had cozy family time with Legos and carols. (Note the color of Santa here!)

We made Giovanni Rana pasta (I re-stocked the freezer!) with red peppers and green pesto – Christmas themed!

T and I are working our way through season two of This Is Us. It’s so good!

On Saturday morning we woke up to a dusting of snow and flurries coming down!

Guess who squealed with delight?! He was out there in his jammies trying to make snow angles.

Inside we were warm, and had the most delicious omelets and bacon for breakfast. Thomas put minced pickled jalapenos inside with lots of melted cheese. We loved that flavor combo!

We ventured out to get our Christmas tree mid-morning!

Then we picked up groceries for the week. This is the situation when you’re too big for the baby seat but want to chillax while your mom shops. Lol! We had to get two carts.

Back at home, we decorated the tree and the rest of the house.

She’s a beaut!

Grilled cheese and green juice for all!

Thomas was going GAGA for a Big Green Egg and got one for his birthday and Christmas combined. He has been smoking things all weekend – salmon, ribs, wings, you name it!

For dinner, we had smoked salmon, Whole Foods mac and some kale salad. It was a lighter meal because party food was in the future!

After a quick dinner, I went to see my friend Lauren sing in the choir along with the Vertias Five. The show was amazing – their voices and harmony were on point!

I swung back home to get Thomas, greet our sitter, and get dressed for a night out.

We headed first to Ellen’s annual holiday party. She made a beautiful spread of food, including this beautiful cheese wheel she made with goat cheese (I think?), herbs, and peppers. Perfect for a holiday party!

Our night ended at Random Row with DJ Collins for the second ACAC dance party – holiday sweater themed!

I wore my Mrs. Claus apron, which was so easy to throw on top of my dress and convert to a costume! Mine is from Pier 1, but here’s a similar one. Patrick said “It’s time for another appearance on the blog!” Note his haircut!

Merry, merry.

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