Today I Learn… I make a point of learning something new everyday. This is what I learn each day

1, Apr 18, 2014

We are the products of our own habits…

Filed under: Emotional Intelligence — admin @ 12:23 am

I wrote something on this before. While I was reading on Confucianism and the repeated performance of certain ritual, I was trying to make sense of this repetition. I thought of habit formation and these words on habits, character and fate. Nothing reveals better than these words from Aristotle and John Dryden on the relationship between habit and what we have become as the result of our habits.

“We are what we repeatedly do.” –Aristotle
“we first make our habits, and then our habits make us.” — John Dryden

Therefore, constantly examine what you repeatedly do and what you habitually do everyday. This leads to the word of Socrates “The unexamined life is not worth living for a human being.”

1, Apr 17, 2014

Too much sitting and early DEATH

Filed under: Health,Life — admin @ 2:56 am

Leading to death! This is not kidding. It is again from Harvard Health Publication.
Too much sitting linked to an early death, 1/29/2014. In case the link is not active. Here’s the article.

“I spend most of each workday sitting in a chair, my fingers the only part of my body moving with any intensity. Technology lets me—as well as millions of other people—earn a living from the relative comfort of our desks, without having to break a sweat or even stand up. Once the workday is done, we can transition straight from desk to car to couch, taking barely a step in between.

The ease of our modern workday could come at the expense of our longevity. A new study of older women in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds that sitting for long stretches of time increases the odds of an untimely death. The more hours women in the study spent sitting at work, driving, lying on the couch watching TV, or engaged in other leisurely pursuits, the greater their odds of dying early from all causes, including heart disease and cancer.

And here’s the kicker: Even women who exercised regularly risked shortening their lifespan if most of their daily hours were sedentary ones.

Even if you are doing the recommended amount of moderate to vigorous exercise, you will still have a higher risk of mortality if you’re spending too many hours sitting,” says Dr. JoAnn Manson, one of the study’s authors, and chief of preventive medicine at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Each of these behaviors is important and has an independent effect on cardiovascular disease and mortality.”

How exactly sitting contributes to reduced longevity isn’t clear, but there are a few possible mechanisms. “Sedentary behavior is associated with an increased risk of the development of chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” says Dr. I-Min Lee, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

When you sit, you expend fewer calories than you would while standing, and you demand little effort from your muscles. Sitting too much can also lead to other behaviors that contribute to obesity and heart disease. “Many times when people are sitting, what are they doing? They’re often watching TV and snacking,” says Dr. Manson.

Work out
One way to avoid prolonged sitting during the workday is to switch to a standing desk, or one that can adjust to sitting and standing positions. Some companies are piloting the use of treadmill desks, which let workers walk at a leisurely pace while they type or answer the phone. However, these machines are pricey, and if you set the speed too high your legs will wear out before 5 o’clock rolls around.

An easier, no-cost solution is to set your smartphone timer to go off every 30 to 60 minutes during the day. When the alarm rings, “Stretch and move around the office to avoid any prolonged sitting at one time,” Dr. Manson recommends.

Sit less
How much sitting can you safely do in a day? In the study, women who were inactive for 11 or more hours a day fared the worst, facing a 12% increase in premature death, but even lesser amounts of inactive time can cause problems. “Once you’re sitting for more than 6 to 8 hours a day, that’s not likely to be good for you,” Dr. Manson says. You want to avoid prolonged sitting and increase the amount of moderate or vigorous exercise you do each day, she adds.

When it comes to exercise, “Any activity is good,” says Dr. Lee. “Some is better than none, and more is better than less.” Ideally, work in a full half-hour or hour of exercise each day, while trying to be active—even in short spurts—the rest of the time. But if you can only squeeze in 10 minutes of dedicated exercise at a time, aim for that.”

1, Apr 16, 2014

4 exercises to fight arthritis

Filed under: Healthy aging — admin @ 12:37 am

I post it here not that I have arthritis, but I thought it might be of some help to those who have or in case I will have it later. Once again, it is from Harvard healthbeat newsletter.

“… regular exercise not only helps maintain joint function, it also relieves stiffness and reduces pain and fatigue.”

(1) A better range of motion (improved joint mobility and flexibility). To increase your range of motion, move a joint as far as it can go and then try to push a little farther. These exercises can be done any time, even when your joints are painful or swollen, as long as you do them gently.

(2) Stronger muscles (through resistance training). Fancy equipment isn’t needed. You can use your own body weight as resistance to build muscles. For example, the simple exercise described below can help ease the strain on your knees by strengthening your thigh muscles. Sit in a chair. Now lean forward and stand by pushing up with your thigh muscles (use your arms for balance only). Stand a moment, then sit back down, using your thigh muscles.

(3) Better endurance. Aerobic exercise — such as walking, swimming, and bicycling — strengthens your heart and lungs and thereby increases endurance and overall health. Stick to activities that don’t jar your joints, and avoid high impact activities such as jogging. If you’re having a flare-up of symptoms, wait until it subsides before doing endurance exercise.

(4) Better balance. There are simple ways to work on balance. For example, stand with your weight on both feet. Then try lifting one foot while you balance on the other foot for 5 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Over time, work your way up to 30 seconds. Yoga and tai chi are also good for balance.

1, Apr 15, 2014

Two minutes rule to stop procrastinating

Filed under: Emotional Intelligence — admin @ 12:46 am

I read this article a few weeks ago on how to get things done.

“The two-minute rule has its roots in Getting Things Done (GTD): If you can do it in less than two minutes, do it now…James Clear adds another rule: When you start to build a new habit, make your goals into two-minute bites so they’re easy to do any time.”

“If you make every step of the way a two-minute chunk that can be done anytime, you’ll be more likely to do it over and over again” until a new habit is formed.

When it comes to doing your weekly review, looking over your to-do list or follow-up list, if you can do it in two minutes, jump on it and get it out of the way. “If it’ll take longer than that—either because you need to research it, talk to someone else, look something up, or produce something, schedule it and get it into your productivity system so you can tackle it when you’re ready.”

Chop a big project into tiny bits, get them out of your way bit by bit, two minutes at a time.

The 2–Minute Rule works for big goals as well as small goals because of the inertia of life. Once you start doing something, it’s easier to continue doing it.”

“The 2–Minute Rule isn’t about the results you achieve, but rather about the process of actually doing the work. The focus is on taking action and letting things flow from there.
Of course, you can easily find yourself starting in on a to-do that’ll take two minutes and then working on it for ages, so be careful James even cites this as an example in his article, …, as a good thing—we’d suggest some restraint. You don’t want to while away an hour on a “two minute” to-do only to find yourself behind on everything else because you didn’t properly prioritize.”

1, Apr 14, 2014

7 tips for healthy snacking

Filed under: Healthy diet — admin @ 12:47 am

Here are 7 tips for smarter snacking from Harvard Medical School newsletter

1. Go for the grain. Whole-grain snacks — such as whole-grain low-salt pretzels or tortilla chips and high-fiber, whole-grain cereals — can give you some energy with staying power.

2. Bring back breakfast. Many breakfast foods can be repurposed as a nutritious snack later in the day. How about a slice of whole-grain toast topped with low-sugar jam? Low-sugar granola also makes a quick snack.

3. Try a “hi-low” combination. Combine a small amount of something with healthy fat, like peanut butter, with a larger amount of something very light, like apple slices or celery sticks.

4. Go nuts. Unsalted nuts and seeds make great snacks. Almonds, walnuts, peanuts, roasted pumpkin seeds, cashews, hazelnuts, filberts, and other nuts and seeds contain many beneficial nutrients and are more likely to leave you feeling full (unlike chips or pretzels). Nuts have lots of calories, though, so keep portion sizes small.

5. The combo snack. Try to eat more than one macronutrient (protein, fat, carbohydrate) at each snacking session. For example, have a few nuts (protein and fat) and some grapes (carbohydrates). Try some whole-grain crackers (carbohydrates) with some low-fat cheese (protein and fat). These balanced snacks tend to keep you feeling satisfied.

6. Snack mindfully. Don’t eat your snack while doing something else like surfing the Web, watching TV, or working at your desk. Instead, stop what you’re doing for a few minutes and eat your snack like you would a small meal.

7. You can take it with you. Think ahead and carry a small bag of healthful snacks in your pocket or purse so you won’t turn in desperation to the cookies at the coffee counter or the candy bars in the office vending machine.

1, Apr 13, 2014

“It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances…”

Filed under: Reading — admin @ 12:56 am

I forgot where I read this. I wrote it down because it sounds too profound for me. See if you agree with me or Koonig or Wilder.

“content is a glimpse of something, an encounter like a flash. It is very tiny–very tiny content.” William Koonig.

“It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.” By Oscar Wilder

1, Apr 12, 2014

What could happen if you don’t have enough sleep

Filed under: Sleep — admin @ 12:37 am

I read this article on the “Horrible Things That Happen If You Don’t Get Enough Sleep.” Read this article if you don’t want it to truly happen to you. I have the full list here, hoping my children will read it someday.

“Almost 40% of Americans get less than 7 hours of sleep a night, a recent Gallup poll found, and an estimated 70 million Americans have a sleep disorder. Everyone knows that it’s important to get enough sleep — but you may not realize just how many things can go wrong when you don’t.
Here are 25 unfortunate risks of partial and total sleep deprivation, some more common than others.
1. Irritability
“Complaints of irritability and [emotional] volatility following sleepless nights” are common, a team of Israeli researchers observed. They put those complaints to the test by following a group of underslept medical residents. The study found that the negative emotional effect of disruptive events — things like being interrupted while in the middle of doing something — were amplified by sleep loss.

2. Headaches
Scientists don’t yet know exactly why sleep deprivation leads to headaches — but it’s a connection doctors have noticed for more than a century. Migraines can be triggered by sleepless nights, and 36 to 58% of people with sleep apnea wake up with “nondescript morning headaches.”

3. Inability to learn
Sleepiness has long been an issue among adolescents. One study of middle school students found that “delaying school start times by one hour, from roughly 7:30 to 8:30, increases standardized test scores by at least 2 percentile points in math and 1 percentile point in reading.”
But it’s not just kids. Short-term memory is a crucial component of learning, and sleep deprivation significantly impaired the ability of adult volunteers to remember words they’d been shown the day before. In another study, researchers found that while people tend to improve on a task when they do it more than once, this isn’t true if they are kept awake after they try it the first time — even if they sleep again before doing it again.

4. Weight gain
People who are underslept seem to have hormone imbalances that are tied to increased appetite, more cravings for high-calorie foods, a greater response to indulgent treats, and a dampened ability to control their impulses — a very dangerous combination. It’s true that you burn more calories when awake, but not nearly enough to cancel out the many excess calories you consume when exhausted.

5. Poor vision
Sleep deprivation is associated with tunnel vision, double vision, and dimness. The longer you are awake, the more visual errors you’ll encounter, and the more likely you are to experience outright hallucinations.

6. Heart disease
When researchers kept people awake for 88 hours, their blood pressure went up — no big surprise there. But even subjects who were allowed to sleep for 4 hours a night had an elevated heart rate when compared to those getting 8 hours. Concentrations of C-reactive protein, a marker of heart disease risk, increased in those fully and partially deprived of sleep.

7. Slowness
Your reaction time is severely impeded when you don’t get enough sleep. When researchers gave West Point cadets two tests that require quick decision-making, some were allowed to sleep between the tests, while others were not. Those who had slept did better the second time — those who had not did worse, and their reactions slowed down. A study in college athletes found similar results.

8. Infection
You know that great thing your immune system does, where when you get an open wound of some kind it doesn’t always get infected immediately? Prolonged sleep deprivation and even one night of sleeplessness can impede your body’s natural defenses against microorganisms.

9. Economic risk-taking
Planning to make some changes to your portfolio? You might want to make sure you’re well-rested. “A single night of sleep deprivation evoked a strategy shift during risky decision making such that healthy human volunteers moved from defending against losses to seeking increased gains,” researchers concluded.

10. Overproduction of urine
When people sleep, the body slows down its normal urine production. This is why most people don’t have to pee in the night as much as they do during the day. But when someone is sleep deprived, this normal slowdown doesn’t happen, leading to what researchers call “excess nocturnal urine production.” This condition may be linked to bed wetting in children and, in adults, it’s tied to what’s called nocturia — the need to use the bathroom many times during the night.

11. Distractedness
Having trouble paying attention to what you’re reading or listening to? Struggling with anything that requires you to truly focus? “Attention tasks appear to be particularly sensitive to sleep loss,” researchers have noted. If you want to stay alert and attentive, sleep is a requirement. Otherwise, you enter “an unstable state that fluctuates within seconds and that cannot be characterized as either fully awake or asleep,” and your ability to pay attention is variable at best.

12. Less effective vaccines
Vaccines work by spurring your body to create antibodies against a specific virus. But when you don’t sleep, your immune system is compromised, and this doesn’t work quite as well. In one small study, 19 people were vaccinated against Hepatitis A. Ten of them got 8 hours of sleep the following night, while the rest pulled an all-nighter. Four weeks later, those who had slept normally had levels of Hepatitis A antibodies almost twice as high as those who’d been kept awake. Another study found that a sleepless night did not have a long-term effect on
immunity after a flu vaccine, it concludes that the effect might be specific to certain diseases. “Sleep should be considered an essential factor contributing to the success of vaccination,” the Hep A researchers wrote.

13. Impaired speech
Severe sleep deprivation might make you sound like a bumbling idiot — much like having way too much to drink. “Volunteers kept awake for 36 hours showed a tendency to use word repetitions and clichés; they spoke monotonously, slowly, [and] indistinctly,” one study noted. “They were not able to properly express and verbalize their thoughts.”

14. Colds
If you’re wondering why you’re sick all the time and seem to pick up every bug that travels around the office, it’s probably because you’re not getting enough sleep. When a group of 153 people were exposed to a common cold, those who had gotten less than 7 hours of sleep in the two weeks prior were almost 3 times more likely to get sick than those who’d had 8 or more hours of sleep. How well you sleep is also a factor – those who had spent 92% of their time in bed actually asleep were 5.5 times more likely to catch a cold than those who had been peacefully slumbering 98-100% of the time they were in bed.

15. Gastrointestinal problems
One in 250 Americans suffer from Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), and sleep deficiencies make its symptoms much worse. Regular sleep loss also makes you more likely to develop both IBD and inflammatory bowel syndrome, which affects an estimated 10-15% of people in the U.S. And patients with Crohn’s disease were twice as likely to experience a relapse when they weren’t getting enough sleep.

16. Car accidents
Drowsy driving is often compared to drunk driving: You really shouldn’t do either. “Motor vehicle accidents related to fatigue, drowsy driving, and falling asleep at the wheel are particularly common, but often underestimated,” one review concluded. Pilots, truck drivers, medical residents, and others required to stay awake for long periods of time “show an increased risk of crashes or near misses due to sleep deprivation.”

17. Depleted sex drive
Testosterone is an important component of sexual drive and desire in both women and men. Sleeping increases testosterone levels, while being awake decreases them. Sleep deprivation and disturbed sleep, consequently, are associated with reduced libido and sexual dysfunction, and people suffering from sleep apnea are at particular risk.

18. Pain
People in pain — especially those suffering from chronic pain — tend not to get enough sleep. This makes sense: Pain can wake you up in the night and make it hard to fall asleep in the first place. But recently, researchers have begun to suspect that sleep deprivation may actually cause pain or at least increase people’s sensitivity to pain. One study found that after research subjects were kept awake all night, their pain threshold — the amount of painful stimulus they were able to endure — was lower.

19. Diabetes
Being awake when your body wants you to be asleep messes with your metabolism, which in turn increases your risk for insulin resistance (often called “pre-diabetes”) and type 2 diabetes. “Interventions to extend sleep duration may reduce diabetes risk,” one study in adolescents concluded. And four large studies in adults found a strong association — though not a cause-effect relationship —between regular sleep loss and the risk of developing diabetes, even after
controlling for other habits that might be relevant.

20. Sloppiness
Most people notice that when they’re sleepy, they’re not at the top of their game. One study found that one sleepless night contributed to a 20-32% increase in the number of errors made by surgeons. People playing sports that require precision — shooting, sailing, cycling, etc. — also make more mistakes when they’ve been awake for extended periods of time.

21. Cancer
Scientists are just beginning to investigate the relationship between sleep and cancer, and different kinds of cancer behave differently. But since disrupted circadian rhythm and reduced immunity are direct results of sleep deprivation, it’s no surprise that preliminary research seems to indicate that people who don’t get enough sleep are at increased risk for developing certain kinds of cancer, most notably colon and breast cancers.

22. Memory problems
Sleep disruptions in the elderly can lead to structural changes in the brain that are associated with impaired long-term memory — and sleep-related memory deficits have been observed in the general adult population as well. As early as 1924, researchers noticed that people who slept more forgot less. Poor sleep and not enough of it have also been linked to higher levels of β-Amyloid, a biomarker for Alzheimer’s.

23. Genetic disruption
A 2013 study shed some light on why sleep is tied to so many different aspects of our health and wellness. Poor sleep actually disrupts normal genetic activity. After one week of sleeping less than 6 hours per night, researchers found that more than 700 genes were not behaving normally, including some that help govern immune and stress responses.

Some genes that typically cycle according to a daily (circadian) pattern stopped doing so, while others that don’t normally follow a daily pattern began doing so. What does this mean? Just one week of less-than-ideal sleep is enough to make some of your genetic activity go haywire.

24. Unhappiness and depression
In a classic study led by Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman, a group of 909 working women kept detailed logs of their moods and day-to-day activities. While differences in income up to $60,000 had little effect on happiness, a poor night’s sleep was one of two factors that could ruin the following day’s mood. (The other was tight deadlines at work.)

Another study reported higher marital happiness among women with more peaceful sleep, although it’s hard to say whether happy people sleep better, better sleep makes people happier, or — most likely — some combination of the two. Insomniacs are also twice as likely to develop depression, and preliminary research suggests that treating sleep problems may successfully treat depressive symptoms.

25. Death— a higher risk of dying sooner than you otherwise might.

1, Apr 11, 2014

Try to inject meaning into our work experience

Filed under: work — admin @ 12:23 am

Since we spend over one-third of our weekday at our workplace, to most of us, work has become an inseparable part of our experience. As with all other experiences, we try to find and inject meaning into what we engage, to make sense of what we have to do everyday.

Here’s the list of meaning/purpose that I can think of as why we go to work everyday.
(1) For a paycheck
(2) To associate with people
(3) To build network
(4) To seek opportunities
(5) To enhance our skill-set
(6) To prepare for the next big thing
(7) Best of all, having fun doing what one does at work.

I believe the great majority of people come to the office for a paycheck. Very few people come with their own personal agenda, that is, seeking for whatever they can potentially gain from this experience, often intangible gain. Only these tiny minority can rise above the ordinary.

For me, searching for meanings in what I am doing is the huge force motivating me every day. The real crisis is to find what you are doing meaningless.

1, Apr 10, 2014

Mindful — a powerful antidote to stress

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:19 am

I forgot where I read this, but I am glad I jot down the ideas. I don’t think I have problems with being mindful. In fact, I might be over-mindful sometimes and I wish I could be less this way. Here’s what I have on becoming mindful and stress reduction.

“Learning to focus the mind can be a powerful antidote to the stresses and strains of our on-the-go lives. The ability to pay attention to what you’re experiencing from moment to moment — without drifting into thoughts of the past or concerns about the future, or getting caught up in opinions about what is going on — is called mindfulness.”

This basic mindfulness meditation exercise include:
(1) Sit on a straight-backed chair, or cross-legged on the floor.
(2) Focus on an aspect of your breathing, such as the sensations of air flowing into your nostrils and out of your mouth, or your belly rising and falling as you inhale and exhale.
(3) Once you’ve narrowed your concentration in this way, begin to widen your focus. Become aware of sounds, sensations, and ideas.
(4) Embrace and consider each thought or sensation without judging it as good or bad.
If your mind starts to race, return your focus to your breathing. Then expand your awareness again.

“The effects of mindfulness meditation tend to be dose-related — the more you practice it, the more benefits you usually experience.”

Perhaps I need to practice this when I want to insulate my mind from the negative culture at my work place.

1, Apr 9, 2014

Strength train, key to live longer and better

Filed under: Healthy aging — admin @ 2:25 am

Again, from Harvard newsletter comes this article, “Want to live longer and better? Strength train.”

Regular physical activity promotes general good health, reduces the risk of developing many diseases, and helps you live a longer and healthier life. For many of us, “exercise” means walking, jogging, treadmill work, or other activities that get the heart pumping.

But often overlooked is the value of strength-building exercises. Once you reach your 50s and beyond, strength (or resistance) training is critical to preserving the ability to perform the most ordinary activities of daily living — and to maintain an active and independent lifestyle.

The average 30-year-old will lose about a quarter of his or her muscle strength by age 70 and half of it by age 90. “Just doing aerobic exercise is not adequate,” says Dr. Robert Schreiber, physician-in-chief at Hebrew SeniorLife and an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Unless you are doing strength training, you will become weaker and less functional.”

Strength training encompasses any of the following:
Free weights, such as barbells and dumbbells
Ankle cuffs and vests containing different amounts of weight
Resistance (elastic) bands of varying length and tension that you flex using your arms and legs
Exercises that use your body weight to create resistance against gravity.

1, Apr 8, 2014

Revisit the place where we lived in 1998

Filed under: Miscellaneous — admin @ 12:50 am

Yesterday after work I drove to Corinth library, then to Hen House in that area. The other adult in the house will need a ride back from the airport this morning as I have a morning meeting today.

We used to live in this area when we first moved to Kansas in 1998. My son was 9 years old and my daughter only 3. My son went to Corinth Elementary School. I remember how he went to school by himself. We frequented Corinth library in the evening or Border’s bookstore. The place looks so familiar, yet all the events that I remember about this place seem like a distant past. Now it’s all gone.

Then and now, now and then, the old place brought back memories of the past. On the way back I saw a group of children playing. That moment was so precious, and yet, so transient. I felt a rush of sadness. I miss those moments when my children were little. I guess it’s not a good practice to visit old places. At least, not good for me.

1, Apr 7, 2014

One more reason not to overeat — longevity

Filed under: Healthy diet — admin @ 12:16 am

I read this article last Friday, “Caloric restriction reduces age-related and all-cause mortality in rhesus monkeys” by many people published in nature site.

The article is rather long. Here’s part of it.

Caloric restriction (CR) without malnutrition increases longevity and delays the onset of age-associated disorders in short-lived species, from unicellular organisms to laboratory mice and rats. The value of CR as a tool to understand human ageing relies on translatability of CR’s effects in primates. Here we show that CR significantly improves age-related and all-cause survival in monkeys on a long-term ~30% restricted diet since young adulthood. These data contrast with observations in the 2012 NIA intramural study report, where a difference in survival was not detected between control-fed and CR monkeys. A comparison of body weight of control animals from both studies with each other, and against data collected in a multi-centred relational database of primate ageing, suggests that the NIA control monkeys were effectively undergoing CR. Our data indicate that the benefits of CR on ageing are conserved in primates.”

1, Apr 6, 2014

“You never know what you have until you clean your room”

Filed under: weekend activity — admin @ 12:51 am

This is a good quote from a colleague of mine.

On 3/27, Thursday after work, I gave a class on origami at the clinic where I used to work. People were asked to make a donation to Shave-to-save. The next day I asked one of them who attended the class if she had practiced what she learned during the class. She said she spent the evening cleaning her room. From this conversation came the above quote.

She told me she’d buy some clothes because it’s on sale, tuck them somewhere and forget she’d bought them, until she cleaned the room. Many still have the price tags on them. I told her “This is exactly how I feel when I clean my house. Instead of clothes, I have other junks which I shouldn’t have bought in the first place…”

Isn’t that something we all do occasionally? The best policy is not to go shopping when you don’t need anything, even if it is 70% or 95% off or even free.

1, Apr 5, 2014

Why some people feel bored, sometimes

Filed under: Daughter,Emotional Intelligence — admin @ 1:42 am

When I read this part, I think of the time when my daughter said she was bored.

“If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, try it for eight. Then 16. Then 32. Eventually one discovers that it’s not boring at all.” –John Cage

“When people are bored, it is primarily with their own selves that they are bored.” – Eric Hoffer

Boredom is not generated by anything outside. Experience of boredom is really generated by the state of our own mind.

I certainly hope she is not bored now.

1, Apr 4, 2014

Simple items can help you strengthen your core

Filed under: Health,Healthy aging — admin @ 2:20 am

From Harvard HEALTHbeat newsletter, “The right stuff: These simple items can help you strengthen your core,” March 29, 2014

“You needn’t spend a cent on fancy equipment to get a good workout. A standing core workout and floor core workout rely on body weight alone. With the help of some simple equipment, you can diversify and ramp up your workouts. To start, consider buying only what you need for the specific workout you’d like to do. If you have a gym membership, use the facility’s equipment. Here is a description of all of the equipment used in the six workouts designed by Harvard experts and found our report, Core Exercises.

Chair. Choose a sturdy chair that won’t tip over easily. A plain wooden dining chair without arms or heavy padding works well.

Mat. Use a nonslip, well-padded mat. Yoga mats are readily available. A thick carpet or towels will do in a pinch.

Yoga strap. This is a non-elastic cotton or nylon strap of six feet or longer that helps you position your body properly during certain stretches, or while doing the easier variation of a stretch. Choose a strap with a D-ring or buckle fastener on one end. This allows you to put a loop around a foot or leg and then grasp the other end of the strap.

Medicine balls. Similar in size to a soccer ball or basketball, medicine balls come in different weights. Some have a handle on top. A 4-pound to 6-pound medicine ball is a good start for most people.

Bosu. A Bosu Balance Trainer is essentially half a stability ball mounted on a heavy rubber platform that holds the ball firmly in place.

1, Apr 3, 2014

When I have some bad experience at work, I think of my children

Filed under: work — admin @ 12:49 am

I keep some plants in my office and some origami paper. I turn to them when I am fed up with the human dramas around my office or with the hypocrisy around here.

These plants are so innocent and harmless that sometimes I’d like to spend the whole day playing with them. This is of course not possible as I have work to do and have to deal with people, no matter how much I dislike dealing with them.

Sometimes, when some unpleasant event crops up, I miss my children and the happy hours that I spent with them. Of course, the thought of them reminds me of my responsibility as a parent. I am sure they will be free from the kind of experience that I have to go through. At least I wish so.

1, Apr 2, 2014

Why doing the right things is more difficult than doing their opposites

Filed under: Life — admin @ 1:39 am

If you think humans are rational animals, think again after reading this post. No, we are not as rational as we like to be all the time. Here’s one simple example.

We know it’s not healthy to over-drink or overeat or smoke or overwork or do drugs, yet we still do it. I have a patch of eczema on the back of my right hand. I know the only effective treatment in my case is not to touch it and allow it to de-sensitize itself. Yet, I just keep scratching it as if I wanted it there permanently.

People, I mean people who are old enough to be grandparents, know it is unprofessional to gossip in office and it is simply not a nice thing to stab behind people’s back, yet they engage this activity passionately whenever they got a chance. Some young people who put aside their homework or risk jeopardizing their grades spend hours on computer games or simply aimlessly internet surfing.

I used to attribute it to a lack of self-control. Things are actually not that simple. It seems vices or the so-called harmful activities yield more pleasure than their opposites. I mean people must get some kind of pleasure from activities like drinking, eating, smoking, drugs, gossips, gaming or patronizing prostitutes.

Doing the right thing means depriving oneself of the pleasure associated with the above-mentioned activities. It must be rather painful to some people who are thus addicted. Sometimes doing the right thing means exerting hardships on ourselves, like when I go out walking on winter morning, dark and cold with a stick in hand, like when I choose to spend hours on preparing for a certification exam.

Now you understand why I say doing the right thing is difficult. It takes a strong will to resist the temptation of these vices, no matter how pleasurable they promise. It takes much more than self-control to inflict hardships on ourselves, simply because it is the right thing to do.

1, Apr 1, 2014

How to avoid micromanagement

Filed under: Leadership — admin @ 1:35 am

Last weekend, when I was driving to the bookstore, the weather was so nice that it felt like spring. I thought of a Chinese children’s song, “Where is spring? Spring is in the eyes of the children…” The song reminds me of my daughter and of the time when I was singing this song and driving her around. The memory of past threw me into a sad mood. I need to keep myself busy so that I won’t have time for sadness. This much I know and will follow.

This is the notes that I took when I was at Barnes & Nobles on weekend. From magazine, p. 18 the four tips on “The Micromanager’s guide to delegation.” I thought of my son when I read this part.

(1) Keep a work log to keep track of tasks in an organized way.
(2) Have more people report to you.
(3) Know your people (assessing the skills of each of the team members)
(4) Be a good coach.
Last thing, think of delegation as an investment.

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