The Vertues of Slow

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Faster & Better.

This is the motto of modern western countries. Entrepreneurs, corporations and governments live by it, and brought many inventions: plastic packaging, engines, planes, frozen meals, fast food, 4K TV, e-commerce, white (refined) flour, hamburgers, coke, antibiotics, genetically-modified food, laptops and VR headsets.

At every iteration, the faster and better products are celebrated. Every year, we get more pixels, more speed, more calories per gram, more fat and sugar per gram, more caffeine in a can, and more social notifications in a day of Facebook than our grandparents would ever get in a lifetime. Amazing, isn’it? And addictive.

 

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Good Stress and Bad Stress, Part III

Before going further, I would like to thank all readers.

This site began only recently but it has already a good variety of articles on nutrition, exercise, mental health, rest & recovery and more. There are >5500 followers from over 50 countries. More importantly, a special thank you to those who take the extra step to comment. Every comment makes it worthwhile, and gives me more reason to care. My long term goal is to create a solid community around the art of healthy and happy living. I now see a clear way to achieve this both online and offline. So again, thanks for being there! I’ll make sure to make it a worthwhile journey 🙂

Now back to our series about good and bad stress.

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The Art of Relaxation

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I first encountered the paradox of relaxation in years of martial arts training:

The more relaxed you are, the faster you will be

If I come to a kung-fu class tensed, I would inevitably get my ass kicked @#$$!

However, if I am relaxed, I am able to have a higher reaction time, discern attacks and be able counter-attack with speed.

This is counter-intuitive. Instinctively, our muscles and body tense when face to danger. Why should we learn to be relaxed instead?

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OutcomeReference.com : Linking Nutrition, Exercise and life choices to Health Outcomes

 

What is the ideal diet? What types of exercise should you do? What should you undertake to prevent mental disease? Those are common questions asked by millions of blogs and even more people every day, worldwide.

Unlike mathematics, there is no single answer. Delving into scientific studies such as those aggregated on pubmed help to separate the good from the bad. You type a keyword such as “diabetes” and it will show papers studying diabetes. However, this is not easy:

  • Health studies are published for scientists. Readability is low and challenging for those without relevant education
  • The vast majority of health studies are behind a “pay-wall”
  • There are different types of trial designs, from meta-analysis, double-blind randomized trials, cohort studies etc. Furthermore, the number of subjects vary wildly between studies, as well as age, weight range, athleticism of subjects, or study length. It takes a good eye to know which study has a better design and which ones are relevant to your case.
  • Studies on the same subject can use different metrics or biomarkers, making direct comparisons difficult
  • Studies on the same subject and with the same methodology can have conflicting results
  • Health studies, especially in nutrition, can be funded by corporations and have bias.

All these contribute to confusion. Media and bloggers then interpret findings to their likings, further increasing confusion.

Because of these issues, I have developed a reference portal OutcomeReference

OutcomeReference is a FREE, easy-to-use reference website aiming to show clearly the outcome of your health choices. 

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Good Stress and Bad Stress, Part II

The previous post laid out the history of stress, explained how stress imposes a reaction, and the difference between good stress and bad stress.

In all activities, there is always a ceiling. It can be genetical and limit maximum strength, speed, coordination in physical performance. It can be environmental or geographical. Where we live and study determines for example the quality and scope of work. It can be a time ceiling, giving us limited time to accomplish required tasks.

This maximum can be attainable after a long and hard journey and is illustrated by the red line in the graph below.

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Saying No To Passive Entertainment

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How do you make everything happen? There’s work, money, friends and family, exercise, nutrition, sleep. So much to do, so little time.

My advice would be to drastically cut passive entertainment.

This is when you undertake an activity with little physical and mental activity. This goes from TV, Netflix, Youtube, social media to video games and drugs etc.

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Managing Your Physical Condition with Heart Rate Variability

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In a previous post, resting heart rate was shown to reflect physical and mental condition. A low resting heart rate correlates with good health compared to a high resting heart rate.

It becomes complex when you consider age. Older people have lower resting heart rate. And individuals with the same age, nutrition and overall fitness level can have vastly different heart rates. For instance, my maximum heart rate when running is around 172bpm while a friend has 200bpm, with the same heart rate sensor. It does not mean however that I am more or less fit than others.

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