Happiness

Pass These On: 10 Things I’ve Learned Lately

September 25, 2015
Learned

There’s always more to learn. That’s what makes life interesting. Each insight you gather or factoid you come across is another tool to add to your lifestyle toolkit.

These 10 little nuggets of wisdom and knowledge have been passed to me over the past six months – and so I’m passing them on to you, dear reader.

10 Things I’ve Learned Lately

  1. I learned: A gut feeling is not a figure of speech.

I’ve always been cognizant of how my gut is connected to my brain somehow, but there was a kind of flighty, spiritual element to this awareness, like it wasn’t based in science.

But now Western medicine has finally begun to slowly embrace the fact that our bodies are connected to our minds, and that our gut health is one and the same with our overall health – including our mental health. Some are even calling our guts our second brain.

It’s such an exciting field of science that’s really just in its infancy, but something we’re going to be hearing more and more about.

  1. I learned: Oil of oregano is an antimicrobial.

There is definitely a nasty cold going around right now. I was out-of-action for about two weeks. Has it hit your workplace yet?

I’d always assumed oil of oregano was an immune system booster (whatever that means). But in actual fact it’s a broad-spectrum antimicrobial that should only be taken for a short window of time. Oil of oregano will kill the bad invaders in your body, and also the good ones, like those happy bacteria that help regulate your second brain.

If you take a course of oil of oregano treatment, be sure to amp up on the probiotics and fermented foods after to get your favourite team of gut bacteria back in action.

  1. I learned: Pedaling (on a bike) is more of a pull movement than it is a push.

I found this out the hard way, after months of biking to work (11.5 km each way) I started getting pain under my kneecaps, like there was some sand in there. Evidently I’d been pedaling wrong – I was pushing down with my feet and placing pressure on my knees.

Proper pedaling engages the hamstrings in a pull motion, similar to what it’s like when you have gum stuck to your shoe and you drag it against something to get it off.

It felt strange at first, and it took me several weeks to burn some new pathways in my brain, but now I’ve switched up my pedaling technique and the knee pain has subsided.

  1. I learned: A new move at the gym called the dead/curl/press.

This is a great compound movement that’s basically an all-in-one, full-body workout. Short on time one day? Do 10 sets of 10 dead/curl/press with 15- to 30-second breaks between each set and leave the gym feeling like a champion.

  1. I learned: Sleep aids (e.g., alcohol) disrupt normal sleep patterns.

I was always a good sleeper, but in the past year or so I’ve noticed sleep doesn’t come as easily as it used to. If I have a few sips of whisky in the evening, I find it’s easier to get to sleep, and remain asleep throughout the night; however, the quality of sleep you get when you use sleep aids isn’t as restful as regular sleep.

I haven’t figured out yet if 5 or 6 hours of regular sleep is superior to 8 solid hours of sleep-aid sleep, but I’ll keep you posted. 🙂

  1. I learned: You should squeeze your butt while you walk.

Yep, that’s right, squeeze those cheeks together.

Squeezing your butt while you walk keeps your spine in its proper position and helps to transfer the weight of your upper body away from your spine and onto the muscles of your core. Because we sit in chairs all day, we lose the mind-muscle connection with our core. This is why we so often develop back problems – it’s not because our backs were improperly designed by evolution, it’s because our core muscles have become weak with disuse.

  1. I learned: We shouldn’t fry foods with vegetable, olive or seed oils.

How many years was I putting olive oil, canola oil and sesame oil on high heat? Many. These oils are not naturally designed for high heat because they turn toxic.

The science that convinced us that saturated fat (e.g., coconut oil) was killing us was based on a heavily invested in, but ultimately unproven, hypothesis. But cooking with saturated fat, a much more stable fat, is where it’s at – it’s where it’s always been at. If you’re interested in this massive scientific blunder, I’d recommend reading this fascinating book: The Big Fat Surprise.

I still dig my olive, avocado and sesame oils, but they’re really only meant to be eaten raw.

  1. I learned: I don’t need meat to feel satiated.

I’m certainly not vegan, but I’ve been digging vegan food for a while now. There are so many myths about veganism, but once you learn how to make the food properly, it’s so completely satiating – maybe even more so than meat. And as an added bonus, I’ve saved so much money. Meat is expensive, and it goes bad pretty quickly.

I still eat meat, but mostly on the weekends. It’s become more of a luxury.

  1. I learned: The two-minute rule for procrastinators.

Are you a procrastinator, like me? The two-minute rule is a simple concept, but it works. The rule goes that each time you come across something that needs to be done, e.g., a few dishes in the sink, if the task at hand will take two minutes or less to complete, you must do the task then and there – not later on.

Simple, but effective.

  1. I learned: Writing a blog is exhausting (but worth it).

It’s fun to have an idea, and when that idea is fully realized and expressed there’s nothing better – but that middle area when you’re trying to get the idea out is an area of uncertainty, doubt, and ambiguity.

We are naturally programmed to avoid discomfort, so the trick is to learn how to find comfort within discomfort. This applies to writing – but it also applies to life. Every day we wake up and go out into the world we are walking into uncertainty, doubt, and ambiguity, and our capacity to manage this anxiety-inducing reality is proportional to our happiness, our success, and our level of satisfaction with this whole thing call life.

So how do we learn to find comfort within our discomfort? That’s a whole other blog! Keep reading to find out.

Have you learned any lifestyle nuggets of wisdom in the past six months? I’d love to hear about them. Post your nuggets below and let’s keep passing them on to the next person.

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2 Comments

  • Reply Patty September 25, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    I’m glad you write this blog…otherwise I would have never known to squeeze my cheeks! Thanks Mike!

    • Reply mdineen September 25, 2015 at 4:37 pm

      Squeeze them tight, Patty! 😉

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