iSAW 01.14 Season’s Greetings

Today’s post is about exercise, diet, and the pursuit of happiness. I start by stating that housework is not exercise. This conclusion of a University of Ulster study of 4,563 adults (mostly women), flies in the face of a WHO recommendation. Professor Marie Murphy found that those participants that said they did the most chores were in fact the most overweight. It’s thought that they over-estimated their activity and rewarded themselves too much.

Summer daze
Americans now work 165 more hours in a calendar year than they used to. To make matters worse, there is no mandatory minimum holiday requirement here. Compare this with France. Don’t try to get anything done business-wise in the month of August in France. They have either gone to the seaside or to the mountains. When was the last time you took a four-week vacation? It may take that long to fully unwind. The French still have another couple of weeks of holiday time left to cover the rest of the year as well.

Fall from grace
On Thanksgiving it’s a time to be fat and happy. I started reading the book ‘Grain Brain‘, by David Perlmutter MD. He is both a neurologist and a fellow of the American College of Nutrition. Going against the grain (get it?), he wants to turn the food pyramid upside down, emphasizing more eating of fats and way less of grains. Along the way he dispels the cholesterol myth (the French would agree with this too) and links grain consumption with afflictions like Alzheimer’s, diabetes, ADHD, epilepsy depression and headaches. If this information proves to be true it’s pretty depressing in itself how we’ve been misled. Michael Pollan would say “eat food – mostly plants, not too much”; seven so sensible words. Nutrition can be confusing; food is not.

Winter joy
The tendency in winter is to stay indoors, huddle around the fire and enjoy the company of others. Hopefully this will include some good laughs, especially belly laughs. Studies have shown increased optimism, morale, and resilience. Another showed chemical changes involving beta-endorphins and human growth hormone (HGH). Now there is even laughter yoga, endorsed by Oprah Winfrey. But, as Abraham Lincoln famously said “Most folks are about as happy as they make their minds to be”.
Ho, Ho, Ho.