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The Young Professional and Stress

Stress is something almost everyone experiences at work.  The World Health Organization has called it an epidemic and the American Institute of Stress, says it costs businesses roughly $300 billion per year.

Not everyone has the natural ability to look at a stressful situation and power through.  Yet, learning how to manage stress is a vital yet often overlooked job skill.

Managing stress is all about taking charge: taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems.

Think about how you currently manage and cope with stress in your life. If your methods of coping with stress aren’t contributing to your greater emotional and physical health, it’s time to find healthier ones. There are many ways to do it, but they all require change.

You can either change the situation or change your reaction. You have to learn what you can pass off and what the real expectations are.

Your quest to be the absolute best may backfire in the long run. Perfectionistic seniors have a 51 percent higher mortality rate than laid-back oldsters do, the Journal of Health Psychology reveals. Hard-driving types may experience most angst-related health issues, so cut yourself some slack.

Can Caffeine Improve Your Workout?

There is a common belief that caffeine improves both mental and physical performance. How many times have you uttered the phrase “I can’t function right now, I haven’t had my cup of coffee?”

Can your daily cup of Joe help your exercise?

A group of Australian researchers set out to identify whether caffeine affects the exercise performance of sedentary women. Basically, data has shown that caffeine helps athletes improve their fitness levels by increasing time to exhaustion and reducing pain sensations among other things.

In the study, published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, scientists studied 10 healthy, sedentary, women who were non-regular caffeine users.

Testing day included 15 minutes of stationary cycling where each was required to perform hard enough to bring their heart rate to 65%. Then they rested for 5 minutes and started back up again, this time cycling as fast as they could for 10 minutes.

All the while their oxygen uptake, heart rate, rate of perceived exertion, energy expenditure and respiratory exchange ratio were measured.

Turns out though, that the only time any difference was seen was during that 15 minute push. Even then caffeine only increased the amount of energy spent and the oxygen uptake. Does this mean those who took caffeine were working harder?

The researchers were not convinced that just the average person could see any benefit from caffeine.

Sports Bras: The bane of any woman athletes existence

Finding a sports bra that has the right support and doesn’t cause chaffing is difficult. Sometimes I think the perfect sports bra doesn’t even really exist. But like it or not, sports bras are a necessity.

Every woman knows that breasts can impede or affect running form. However, some scientists decided they would test this “theory.”

Researchers from the University of Portsmouth in England and some other schools conducted a study by attaching reflective markers to the breasts of a group of female runners. The runners jogged around a track some with bras others with nothing at all.

When the runners were braless, their strides changed; they landed more heavily, with more of the impact force moving through the inside of their feet. All of this related to significant more breast movement.

And that breast movement? It’s actually in a figure-8 pattern—a pattern that most sports bras don’t accommodate.

Personally, I lean toward the compression sports bras, supportive but not necessarily comfortable all the time.  I look forward to the day when we can get both.

Tasty Tuesday 10/12

Eleven foods nutritionists buy for themselves.

  1. Oatmeal: Filled with fiber it can keep you full til lunch and also help lower cholesterol. Best thing, you can make it your own buy adding nuts, fruit and even cottage cheese.
  2. Fruits and veggies: A no brainer here a healthy diet isn’t complete without fruits and veggies, especially those filled with Vitamin C (Swiss chard, kale, mangoes, berries and tomatoes).
  3. Beans: A great source of protein, folate and have the most fiber of any food source. Bonus—there are so many different types that you can make one bean dish a week and not have the same thing!
  4. Avocado: I love avocado. It makes everything better. Recently I just brought an avocado for lunch, cut it open and stuffed it with tuna. YUMMY
  5. Salmon: The fish you should eat once a week? Salmon. Low in calories, high in protein and omega-3 fat. It is kinda like a triple threat.
  6. Nuts: I have a very good friend who is nuts for nuts. Of course, she eats the salted-flavored nuts…but those of us that eat the non-salted ones know they are a really good source of healthy fat and fiber.
  7. Eggs: Every time you rank the best proteins eggs are number 2. Don’t be scared of the yolk either. That’s where the protein, carotenoids for the eyes and choline for the brain resides.
  8. Tomato sauce: Staple you always need. You can make sauces, soups, stews or marinades (I lost the alliteration there)
  9. Cottage Cheese: Not everyone’s favorite, but it sure is mine. I like to add almonds to it or put it in a sweet potato with some pineapple and raisins.
  10. Cayenne: Spicy foods make you heat up, which takes energy (cough, cough calories) to produce. See where I am going with this?
  11. Hummus: There are just so many different kinds! I use it instead of mayo for my tuna.

What I Learned by Not Drinking Alcohol in September

Alan is back to chat about his getting healthy…this month, not drinking.

Back in August, I blogged about using Foursquare to help encourage me to walk more—especially after meals. The mobile application was a great motivator because I was using it to earn badges. I also used Twitter ( #AlanGetsHealthy) as a way to not only remind myself to keep doing what I’ve been doing, but hopefully inspire others. And believe it or not, some of my friends have started their own programs now. My friend Will, for instance, invented #poofygetshealthy. (Poofy is his nickname.)

The month of September, however, represented my greatest challenge: #AlanNotDrinking. In the middle of July I decided I wanted to take an entire month off from alcohol—no wine, no beer. Nothing and no excuses. I decided August wasn’t a great month because of a number of parties, and, because frankly, I hadn’t thought through how it was all going to work. So I decided on September.

I don’t really want to go into the exact reasons for why I decided to do #AlanNotDrinking. Instead, Laney thought I could comment on how it affected my body and my fitness routines .

First, let’s level set. How much was I drinking exactly? I’d say at least four-five nights a week, and the majority of those nights involved more than 4 drinks. Usually liquor and usually not mixed with non-alcoholic drinks. Beer only once a week or so.

I’ve got some interesting findings from my little experiment that I thought I could share:

  • I feel no negative effect. When I quit caffeine – no, there was no hashtag for that – I definitely had headaches for at least two weeks. Never once did my body respond negatively in a way that I can attribute to quitting outright.
  • I sleep better. Just as I noticed when I started going to the gym about 2 months ago, I’m more tired towards bedtime and I sleep better. I also require less sleep—I get by just fine with about seven hours now, whereas if I got really, really hammered, I needed at least nine hours or I felt groggy in the morning. Not surprising since you’re said to not sleep as strong – even if you fall asleep more quickly – when you’re drunk.
  • I have more energy throughout the day. Going to the gym after a date in the city is easier with no drinks in my system as opposed to two or three beers. I can go longer and harder on the machines or on weights. (Ed Note: so gross if I wanted to go there)
  • I’m not making poor decisions late at night. Let’s leave poor hook-up choices aside and instead talk about food choices. It’s a lot harder to eat that greasy pizza slice or chicken fingers when I’m sober; however, you actually can indulge a little bit more since you’re not ingesting alcoholic calories. Recently, I stayed out until 2:30 a.m. with some friends (let me tell you, New York is an interesting place at 2:30 in the morning when you’re dead sober) and I felt no guilt at having shrimp and ribs at Dallas BBQ knowing that I wasn’t drinking the fish bowl tequila drink my friend Will was on top of his greasy, fatty food.
  • And finally, if you care: dating is definitely a little more difficult. Explaining to someone on a first date why you’re not drinking can be very uneasy and sometimes I feel like I should just lie (on antibiotics or something like that). House parties are definitely uncomfortable because it’s hard to hide that you’re drinking water; that doesn’t happen at bars if you’re smart about putting a lemon or a lime on the side of your glass of water.

Anyone else ever tried the no-alcohol experiment before? What has your experience been? Leave it down in the comments, or suggest something for me to try in October. I HATE bananas (like REALLY!) and friends are trying to convince me to start #AlanEatsBananas. We’ll see…

More Sweat, Better Athlete?

I’m gonna get gross for a second. I sweat a lot. I remember once in college I was working out with one of my roommate in our living room (Jillian Michaels DVDs, best. ever.), when our other roommate noticed I was sweating a lot.

I thought how can this be that I am sweating more than her? I work out every day. I am healthy. How can I be this out of shape?

I read a Daily News article that said (whoopie) “as you become more trained, you become more efficient in cooling your body through sweating.”

The Australian Institute of Sport, one of the world’s foremost authorities in sports science, studied more than 30 sports and found that the rate of sweat loss increases with the intensity of exercise.

So I guess my excessive sweat means I am actually in really good shape. However, disgusting it is.

Fear and the Young Professional

Don't let fear hold you back

Fear can be dangerous; it can turn into a mindset in which things aren’t questioned and unthinking obedience is normal.

This isn’t the type of fear created by a downsizing. This is the type of fear that keeps you from speaking up in the brainstorm or going to your boss with a new idea.

Sure fear can drive you to success. It can make you read that memo four times before you pass it off to your supervisor helping you to perfect it.

As a young professional you have to learn to balance this fear with your instincts and ability.

With age and more experienced fear becomes less and less a factor in your professional life.

Clients can be nasty if we make a mistake, bosses can pile on the pressure. But becoming fearful about that stops you doing your best work as you become afraid to break out of your comfort zone. And in PR, the comfort zone is your enemy.