Why You Should Unplug and Pick Up a Book

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Growing up, one of my absolute favorite things to do was read. Unlike ‘normal’ kids my age who would get rewarded for their hard work with things such as an allowance, visits to Toys”R”Us, new video games or extended TV time before bed; my rewards came in the form of pages. There was nothing that excited me more than a trip to Barnes & Noble or walking down to the local library with my grandparents when I stayed at their house. I would spend hours getting lost in the world created by the author; living and breathing alongside the characters, feeling their emotions and sharing their experiences as if I were one of them. The walls that I was surrounded by fell away and a new world was built around me. The only sounds I could hear were the ones echoing off the pages as the intricacies of another person’s world were being painted in my mind. Ten pages turned into thirty, which turned into seventy, and before I knew it, I was forced to snap back to reality as I finished the last word of the epilogue.

With experiences this amazing, why are avid readers becoming a dying breed? It’s simple, technology.

Many readers have fallen victim to the flashier, more ‘modern’ attention grabbing activities along with being so consumed with the idea of constantly being connected with the outside world. You may find that after reading a few sentences, there’s this tickle in the back of your mind, “I’ll just check my Facebook really quick” or “maybe I got an important text message, I should look to be safe”. Suddenly, you’re scrolling through a social media timeline filled with lip syncing cats wearing funny little outfits. Not exactly how you planned to spend those 25 minutes.

So, before you decide to fall down the mind-numbing, thumb cramping tunnel of infinite scroll, I’ve dug a little deeper on the positive impacts reading has and you might be surprised! Check it out.

It makes you smarter.
This is kind of an obvious one, reading expands knowledge. In fact, reading increases all three types of intelligence: crystallized (knowledge that’s derived from previous experiences and past experiences), fluid (involves the ability to think abstractly, reason, identify patterns and problem solve), and emotional (the ability to identify and recognize emotions, both in yourself and others). The more we read, the more words we’re exposing ourselves to which results in them unescapably becoming part of our day-to-day vocabulary. And what’s cooler than impressing someone with big words that mean something so simple? For example: clandestine, insatiable, and vociferous … Sounds a lot better than: secret, unappeasable, and loud. Overall, reading causes an individual to become more articulate in their speech and thus makes them more confident in their words both orally and written.

It keeps your mind and memory strong.
Mind exercising activities such as solving puzzles or reading stimulates the brain. According to a study published in The Official Journal of the American Academy of Neurology, individuals who engaged in mentally stimulating activities throughout their lives experienced dramatically slower memory decline (49% slower) compared to those who did not. In addition, those who take the effort to exercise their brains are 2.5x times less likely to have Alzheimer’s disease. As Dr. Robert Friedland points out in his 2001 study, “The brain is an organ just like every other organ in the body. It ages in regard to how it is used, just as physical activity strengthens the heart, muscles and bones, intellectual activity strengthens the brain against disease.”

It reduces stress.
University of Sussex discovered that reading for just six minutes has the ability to reduce stress levels by 68%! By slowing down the heart rate and easing muscle tension, reading has been found more effective than other techniques such as listening to music or taking a walk.

It helps with our concentration.
More often than not, our mind and attention are in a million places at once; this makes our stress levels increase and productivity decrease. (Wamp, wamp, waaamp) However, when you’re focused on a book, “A sentence is shorthand for a lot of information that must be inferred by the brain. We are forced to construct, to produce narrative, to imagine,” says Maryanne Wolf, director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University. This causes our brain to concentrate solely on the activity at hand as it is called to action which in turn, trains your brain to help you focus more in daily life. 
So there you have it folks, next time you find yourself with some free time, pick up a book. Your mind will thank you and Netflix will forgive you, I promise.

10 Grab-n-Go Breakfast Ideas

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While we always hear about the importance of eating breakfast, many people just blow it off with a “Well, I’m not super hungry so I’ll just wait for lunch.”. Bad plan, Stan. You see, after a full nights sleep, your body has drained all of its fuel sources by fasting all night, so it’s important to refuel in the morning to give us the energy to power through our day. In fact, that’s where the name originated; you need to break the fast. Get it?

In addition to giving us energy, eating breakfast:

  • Improves cognitive function by restoring glucose levels
  • Reduces the risk of diabetes and heart disease
  • Improves memory
  • Promotes weight loss

However, despite all these benefits, 56% of Americans surveyed claim they do not eat breakfast regularly [1]. Why is that? Well let’s face it, we’re always on the go. Think of your typical morning … Your alarm goes off and you have 30 minutes to get out the door. Your choices are: sleep an extra 10 minutes or go dirty some dishes and make yourself a nutritious meal.  Most of us (myself included) opt for the few extra Zzz’s.

Because of this, my go-to morning meal tends to be something along the lines of hastily shoving a piece of fruit and a yogurt down my throat while frantically looking for my left shoe. Believe it or not, after your 5th banana and Chobani of the week, it gets old. So I complied a list of quick and easy breakfasts you can prepare ahead of time to make your mornings more delicious, while still being able to push the limits of your snooze button.


Overnight Oats:

These recipes are such an awesome solution for those who don’t have time to do any cooking in the morning but are looking for a healthy and filling way to start their day.  They’re just oats soaked in liquid (typically dairy, almond, or soy milk) overnight topped with your choice of fruit, seasonings, nuts, etc.

A healthy spin on the beloved chocolate turtle flavor. These oats are chocolatey, sweet, crunchy and filling. With only 300 calories, this isn’t a bad way to start your day.

What’s better than a jar of whole grains and protein to fuel your morning? A jar of whole grains and protein that taste like a delectable piece of carrot cake.

3. Strawberry Chia Overnight Oats
Chia seeds are a super food that have been a staple in Mayan and Aztec diets for centuries. They offer plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, minerals, fiber, and blood sugar regulation. This recipe incorporates these amazing little seeds in such a delicious way.

 

Make-ahead Breakfast Parfaits:

These put a twist on your traditional fruit and yogurt combinations.  Make a few of these babies on a Sunday night and you’ll have ready-to-go breakfasts all week! Use any combination of fruit, yogurt and other yummy additions you would like.

4. Fruit and Yogurt Breakfast Parfait Ideas

 

Breakfast Bars:

Put down your chocolate covered, Oreo filled, chewy bar. C’mon, you’re practically eating a candy bar for breakfast and you’re wondering why you start to crash around 10 am. Check out these recipes for homemade protein bars that are much healthier (and in my opinion much tastier) than store bought bars.

5. Healthy 5 Ingredient Granola Bars
Five ingredients, no baking, and no refined sugars? Sounds good to me.

6. Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Balls
Quick and easy to make chocolate protein balls. Keep these in your freezer and pull them out when you want. (If you’re not a chocolate peanut butter fan, there’s recipes for dozens of other delicious protein ball recipes such as pumpkin, cranberry pistachio, Almond Joy, and Nutella!)

 

Freezer Smoothie Packs:

The ones you find in the freezer aisle at your grocery store tend to be chock full of sugar, with limited ingredients and they’re oh so expensive. Here’s some recipes so you can make them at home with just some simple ingredients and freezer zip lock bags.

7. DIY Freezer Smoothie Packs

 

Prepare Eggs for the Week:

I know, I know, this doesn’t sound too appealing. But these recipes may make you take the chance and realize how convenient and yummy they are!

8. Easy Egg and Cheese Muffins
Cheesy egg muffins, need I say anymore? These mini frittatas are great for anyone on the go. Get creative and add different ingredients to make your own creations!

9. Egg, bacon and Jalapeno Frittata
Sometimes a little jalapeno in the morning is just what you need to kick into gear.

10. Making Hard Boiled Eggs .. In the Oven
Say goodbye to the tedious task of boiling, cooling, and timing. Make 24 hard boiled eggs at once.


So no more excuses for skipping the most important meal of the day. There’s no need to alert everyone around you that you haven’t eaten yet with the strange monstrous-like grumbling coming from the depths of your stomach. Check these recipes out and if you have any additional ideas you would like to share, please comment below!


 

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

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“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’
‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.
‘I don’t much care where -‘ said Alice.
‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.
‘- so long as I get SOMEWHERE,’ Alice added as an explanation.
‘Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, ‘if you only walk long enough.”

If you are as big of a Disney fanatic and/or bookworm as I am, you’ll recognize this excerpt from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. This is one that I read many years ago and many times since, although it has not been until recently that this quote began to have significant importance to me.

In life, there are various points where you begin to question yourself, your career, and your goals. You wonder where you should go. Many times we, like Alice, find ourselves wandering around in a Wonderland where our expectations and presumptions are continuously being tested and compromised; usually for the good, but at times with more negative consequences than positive.

It’s in our human nature to feel the desire to succeed. No one wants to work hard and feel like they have gotten nowhere, they just want a simple answer to “which way [they] ought to go from here”. And well, there is no simple answer to that. Many of us walk and walk and walk and feel we aren’t getting where we want, but in reality all we knew is we wanted to be somewhere, we just didn’t give enough thought as to where.

So you need to determine, what does success mean to you? Where do you want to go? What do you want to become? Where do you want to be tomorrow? To one person, success could be considered reaching a long term goal. For another, it may be how much money is in your bank account or how many cars you have parked in your garage. Regardless, it’s important to have a direction, without one you can never get “somewhere” because there will be no way to determine where that “somewhere” is. 

There have been so many times where I’ve sat and worried that I am not where I am supposed to be, but when people asked me where I wanted to be, my answer tended to be “somewhere”… Like Alice, I didn’t have a direction. I disregarded my daily successes and focused too much on the overall picture that I wanted to fulfill. At this point in my life, that path is too big to travel, it was kind of like hiking Mount Everest after training only on Mount Monadnock. 

So I changed my path to a more manageable one. Every day I aim to get a bit farther than I was the day before, even if that means I need to fall down the rabbit hole. To journey is to be human, we are always coming from somewhere and heading somewhere else. Every great adventure begins with a small step. Wandering does not mean you’re lost, sometimes you just need to see many things before you know where you need to be.