The Dangerous Power of “Productivity”

I believe we have started a dangerous cult this country–I don’t know how far it extends, but I’ve noted almost all of my peers have a constant desire to be productive. Anything that is not productive is not worthwhile. How sad is that?

I understand this mindset since I had it for at least four years. During college, I would not do anything if I did not see its purpose:

  • Going out for dinner? No, a waste of valuable study time.
  • Taking a weekend trip? Nope, I won’t have time to work ahead.
  • Hanging out and watching a movie? No, I need do x, y, z unfulfilling “productive” activity.

 

After graduating, this led to me completely going off the rails without action items that needed to be done. My parents took me on a trip to the beach after graduation and I could not even take one day off. I would sneak back from the beach to our hotel room and look through potential jobs on LinkedIn–yeah, that’s nuts. But it’s not just me…it’s a lot of people.

Over the past six months since graduating, I’ve been actively working to disengage from certain routines that make spontaneity difficult (I don’t always have to go to bed early, I can ask to reschedule). In addition, I have been forcing myself to be just a little bit lazy…I might just lie in bed for an extra ten minutes in the morning. Today I woke up without a plan and drove to the beach–no plans, nothing productive in store. I laid down on the sand and just read my book. Afterwards I spent the day wandering around the area, going into local shops and people-watching.

I don’t want to diss productivity too much–it gave me a solid GPA, amazing experiences, and it’s an inherent part of who I am. At the same time, it can’t be all I am; there is a high price for living a life that constantly prioritizes productivity. For me, it sacrificed the things that matter most: relationships, mental health, and physical wellbeing.

In sum, I think it’s knowing when to prioritize productivity, and when to let it go and enjoy life for all it is–the fast, the slow, the mundane, the powerful.

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Do you prioritize productivity? If so, at what cost?

Ted Talk Friday: My failed mission to find God — and what I found instead

Anjali Kumar does a wonderful job explaining her experience; as someone who feels spiritual but still checks the same “none” box, it is refreshing to hear someone’s journey on the path of finding spiritual community. She sprinkles in plenty of humor for a topic that is often so serious and difficult to discuss. I hope you enjoy!

 

 

 

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Do you consider yourself spiritual? Have you experimented with other religious communities?

Going with Your Gut with GLG

If you’ve been in my life during the past 6 years, you might know I’ve struggled with a lot of GI issues. Without any clear answers, the various doctors I saw decided it must be IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), which has no real cures. The symptoms are highly varied and flare ups can come at any time. I’ve learned that my trigger is often times of high-stress, but I’ve also learned what foods I can use as tools to keep my gut happy.

I’ve been taking some form of gelatin nearly everyday for the past 3 years and I’ve recently started incorporating collagen as well.

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I have been taking it for a few weeks now, and I’ve heard it takes a bit longer to see and feel all of the benefits that come with collagen supplementation. There are numerous benefits beyond gut health: skin elasticity, joint health, and bone health, to name just a few. Collagen is shown to create measurable improvement in skin hydration and elasticity. [1] There is evidence that collagen can help repair the lining of the intestines, which can improve overall gut health. [2] I am curious to note whether or not I experience any changes in my joint health, although I am lucky enough to have few joint-related issues.  It is full of necessary amino-acids (the building blocks of protein) that keep our skin, hair, nails, joints, and bones healthy.

As a fan of functional foods, especially as an alternative to prescription drugs for treating my IBS, I’ve been pleased with my results from incorporating gelatin into my diet..so I have high hopes for the benefits that come with hydrolyzed collagen! If nothing else, I will have incorporated more healthy proteins into my diet. The regular collagen powder can be mixed into just about anything–your morning cup of coffee, your oatmeal, a smoothie, soup, etc. The cherry-flavored Collagen Endurance product has been a ton of fun to try out as well…

One of my favorite recipes reminds me of little gummy candies–they are my energy gel bites! These are a great pre-workout snack with B vitamins for natural energy and a good dose of protein for satiety.

Ingredients:

-1 scoop Great Lakes Gelatin Collagen Endurance
-8 grams gelatin
-1 cup water

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1. Combine Great Lakes Gelatin Collagen Endurance and gelatin with 1/2c boiling water and stir until dissolved.
2. Stir in 1/2c cold water and pour into a lined baking loaf tin.
3. Place in fridge for 4-6 hours or into firm.
4. Cut into small squares and enjoy!

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While many companies have recently started popping up promoting their own collagen supplements, I love Great Lakes; the company has been around since 1922 and does research to evaluate the real benefits, not simply hopping on the trendy bandwagon.

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Use code GLGLife20 for 20% off Great Lakes Gelatin products. This code expires March 15, 2018.

Disclaimer: Great Lakes Gelatin & Sweatpink sponsored this review, however this post represents my honest thoughts and opinions

Sources (because when I make claims, I base them in science):

1: Choi, S. Y., Ko, E. J., Lee, Y. H., Kim, B. G., Shin, H. J., Seo, D. B., … & Kim, M. N. (2014). Effects of collagen tripeptide supplement on skin properties: A prospective, randomized, controlled study. Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy16(3), 132-137.

2: Graham, MF. Collagen Synthesis by Human Intestinal Smooth Muscle Cells in Culture. National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3792777>.

Ted Talk Friday: You aren’t at the mercy of your emotions — your brain creates them

I am always attracted to any Ted Talk focused on psychology or emotions. Feldman Barrett breaks down how we feel and what emotions truly are. She truly dives into the double edged sword of our own emotions–they are not hard-wired, and they are malleable. Curious how our brain fills in the blanks to create emotion? Watch the video below to learn more.

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Do you agree? Where do you most often fill in the blanks?

I tried Orange Theory–will I ever go back?

I love a good workout and trying new things, but I have actively avoided Orange Theory classes for years. I heard horror stories of coaches yelling and the competitive nature of the classes, both of which are things that do NOT jive with who I am. I know two things about myself with great certainty:

  1. I hate being told what to do when it comes to physical activity–especially when orders are given in a forceful manner. (I once walked our “mile run” in protest during elementary school…)
  2. I do not thrive off of competition with others. I am incredibly competitive with myself; I am passionate about getting better and better grades or meeting new goals, but not when I compare myself to those around me. It’s not about being the “best” in my mind, it is about being my personal best.

I only went to this class because a fellow SF SweatPink friend posted about it, so I saw it as an opportunity to meet other fitness-centered bloggers in the community.

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Sonya and I glistening with sweat post-workout

The class started with a loud, high intensity atmosphere–I was already feeling regret. Everyone wears a heart rate monitor, and your heart rate & calorie burn is projected on a large screen throughout the class. The workout was interval-based and divided in half. Half of the time was spent doing circuits utilizing a rowing machine, free weights, and a bosu ball. I enjoyed this half and could feel my heart rate getting higher than it has in quite a while. I enjoy using a rowing machine and it certainly stayed interesting as we incorporated different moves with the weights with low to moderate reps. I think that the instruction was not always sufficient for the quick pace; the instructor could not fix everyone’s form with such a rushed pace, and I’m sure that worsened my form as I felt the pressure to move on to the next exercise.

The next half of the class was not my favorite…anyone who knows me knows that this means a treadmill was involved. I see the treadmill as the epitome of what is wrong with how we approach fitness as a society. A little dramatic maybe, but I truly am not a fan. Few people enjoy the treadmill and it forces us into the idea that running nowhere in a state of misery is what it means to workout. Working out should be an enjoyable way you want to use your body everyday–if that is the treadmill then more power to you, but I think a small percentage of the population enjoys treadmill workouts while so many of us actually do them.

Back to Orange Theory–the next half of the class was treadmill intervals with options for power walking, jogging, or running. I just stared ahead at my sweaty face in the mirror counting down the minutes until it ended. At the end of the class, we looked at the heart rate screen together and I could feel myself becoming self-conscious about how many minutes I was in the “highest intensity” heart rate zone. I also personally have zero interest in the number of calories burned–in my opinion, it’s an unhealthy and inaccurate way to judge a workout. I could definitely feel the soreness settling in after the class ended, but at a cost of $59 for 4 classes, I don’t plan to keep going.

If you are motivated by competition and the group atmosphere, then this might be a great fit for you. You definitely feel accountable and there is a team atmosphere to the class, even with the competition.

After the class ended, we all gathered outside the class and got some tasty snacks and signed up to win a free mattress from Mattress Firm.

I also ended up getting a free pillow–it was one of those cooling gel-based pillows and I am BEYOND excited (who doesn’t love a good pillow?)

At the Mattress Firm store, I also got the chance to meet Shannon, the girl behind Cali Girl Gets Fit. She is such an inspiration and hooked me up with some delicious Bounce snacks and Organic Girl pressed juice.

I had such a fun day–meeting new people and trying a new, different class. While I may not go back to another Orange Theory class, I certainly enjoyed trying it out and pushing myself in new ways.

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Are you adventurous in your workouts? How do you feel about treadmill workouts?

Braving the Wilderness

I’ve been reading Brene Brown’s book Braving the Wilderness and the message resonates deeply with me. I’ve recently moved to a new place and have been establishing a new rhythm–friends, jobs, activities. I have always felt like I don’t fit the mold of having a set group of friends; I usually never fit a set group, but rather seek out individuals from different groups. I love the breadth of interests, experiences, personal backgrounds, and opinions this generates among those I talk and spend time with.

This minimizes gossip, leaving others out, and everything else that comes with a friend group, it also makes it harder to hold big group gatherings and feel that sense of belonging we all crave. I had this in high school. My group of girlfriends; we would sit together at lunch, have sleepovers, get ready for dances together…I cherish those memories. The memories I don’t cherish include the snide remarks or petty fights that inevitably come with an intertwined group of five people, let alone five tween girls.

Brown speaks to the mixed emotions of these friendships beautifully and encourages us all to create our own personal sense of belonging. We fit in with ourselves and love ourselves just as we are. No matter what happens–a move, a falling out, a hardship–we have our sense of grounding in numerous places with numerous perspectives.

Beyond friendships, the Maya Angelou quote:

captures a feeling I’ve been unable to pinpoint since leaving Home in Nashville for college (in Atlanta, GA). I spent summers in a range of places–Alpharetta, GA, Detroit, and the UK–and felt that certainty of where I belong and fit wane. Since moving to the Bay Area six months ago, that certainty of where I belong has grown even fuzzier. So perhaps the answer lies in Angelou’s words: I “belong no place–[I] belong every place–no place at all.”

I’m not one for New Years resolutions, but if anything I want to become even stronger in braving the wilderness.

Ted Talk Friday: Are emotions contagious in the workplace?

I saw this talk in person in the Spring of 2016 and fell in love with Brandon Smith‘s work as the “Workplace Therapist.” I found his ideas fascinating before working in an office, but now that I work a regular 9 to 5 job I see his theory in action. I am lucky to work in an office that has contagious emotions, but contagious emotions of almost exclusively the good, productive kind. It is common knowledge that the mood and outlook your friends have rubs off on you, but the same goes for your coworkers. Choose wisely!

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Have you experienced contagious emotions in the workplace? How do you handle negative people?

How you view intention + how it shapes your interactions

I believe we construct so many detrimental stories about others and how they treat us. We assume they are trying to leave us out, trying to make us feel bad, or trying to ignore us. But what if we change that and instead assume they are oblivious, self-focused, or are struggling with their own issues? While this does not change the actions of others, it can help us feel better about the intention, about the why we so often struggle with.

When we frame others as humans who only want belonging and happiness, the negative assumptions we make often melt away. I don’t want to seem naive; sure, there are always those malicious people who are actively trying to hurt us, but they are far less common than we think. I know I would rather feel naive than bitter.

This way of thinking is self-protective and inherently positive; leaving the space for us to give others the benefit of the doubt where we often fill in the blanks with malintent.

I think of all the times someone made an off-hand comment or forgot to thank me when I assumed it must have been a purposeful, spiteful choice. In my experience, spite is the exception, not the rule. While it is not easy to cultivate a positive outlook on others, it can be easy to begin questioning assumptions–and even asking the person directly in some instances.

What if that guy who cut you off in the parking lot just lost his job or is worried about his ailing mother? Would you feel differently about how he stole your spot? Maybe you wouldn’t cuss him out or send over a death glare. Maybe you would instead feel compassion for him and his situation. I know feeling compassion always leaves me feeling happier and healthier than an expression of rage or frustration in moments like these.

Ted Talk Friday: What makes technology so habit-forming?

Nir Eyal is an Emory alum and has been referenced numerous times in one of my favorite podcasts, Note to Self. He poses an interesting idea about technology and why it has a death grip on our minds and behaviors. I think he is really on to something; I find myself compulsively checking my Instagram, Facebook messages, and even this blog on occasion. I think it is all about setting healthy limits and using technology in ways that enhance wellbeing rather than detract from it.

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Do you agree with Eyal’s argument?

Thoughts on Grief

I have been so lucky to have very few experiences with death and loss. While the few that I have experienced have been incredibly difficult, the loss I experienced over the summer absolutely floored me.

The death was unexpected and quickly became highly publicized. He passed away from an overdose and his parents were so bravely open and honest regarding the circumstances. For the purpose of this post, I will call my friend M.

I remember meeting M. for the first time in high school; I thought he was one of the coolest kids I had ever met and was immediately intrigued. In getting closer with him, I became enamored and we started dating.

Looking back at our notes, letters, and text messages I transcribed in a journal, I recall what it feels like to be so deeply in love with someone. He was my rock. We texted night and day, often talking on the phone late into the night until one of us fell asleep. His songs permeated my iTunes library, his phrases pepper my vocabulary, and his comfort with himself has given me something to strive for.

I’ve learned that grief is not linear. Even now, months after his death, a favorite song of his coming up on shuffle moves me to tears. I think of his family’s holiday traditions and can’t imagine what they will be like without him. I don’t think it ever gets easier. Whenever I do feel sad, I just imagine how annoyed he would be with me; I would tell me to chill out, take life less seriously, and appreciate the now.

There’s a theory in psychology that everyone goes through five distinct stages of grief. I disagree with this idea entirely. I think it is simply a construct we set up to provide a sense of control, and create an endpoint, for our grief.

Kubler-Ross

Grief follows no step-wise process, and I don’t know there truly is any sort of “end.” I think the only way to move forward is to create meaning from the loss. For me, that meant taking action to combat addiction, even if in only a small way. I joined the board of local substance abuse counseling center and every time I attend a meeting, I feel the tiny inkling that I am fighting for M. in some small way.

M. introduced me to this song, and it fits my feelings perfectly (and provides a few laughs):

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How do you cope with grief? Do you believe in the seven steps of grief?