A look at life at the intersections of wellness, culture, and current events


Nutrition Basics for Beginning Roller Derby Players

Nutrition Basics for Beginning Roller Derby Players

Hello everyone, I am Octavia Hustler, skater for Angel City Derby! When I’m not on skates, I work as a registered dietitian in Los Angeles. So why am I writing about this? Batty Davis from ACD reached out to me a few weeks ago to […]

From Brunch to Obsession: Bergamot Oranges

From Brunch to Obsession: Bergamot Oranges

Sunday afternoon is the perfect time to have brunch with friends who you haven’t seen in a long time. On a recent Sunday, I did exactly that. Along the way I also found a new flavor that I absolutely love: bergamot oranges. That morning I […]

Docs to Watch: Feel Rich – Health is the New Wealth

Docs to Watch: Feel Rich – Health is the New Wealth

When I talk about looking at the intersections of culture and wellness, this documentary is a prime example of what I mean. Feel Rich – Health is the New Wealth is a new documentary produced by Quincy Jones III that looks at health behaviors within the rap/hip hop community and how it applies to the greater community.

In this documentary, it was illuminating to watch rappers and hip hop artists like Paul Wall, Fat Joe, The Game, Common, and others talk about unhealthy behaviors that are perpetuated within the rap scene that lead to the untimely deaths of loved ones (including a spot about Heavy D) or to their personal health crises. As consumers of music, we often focus on the flashy parts of their lifestyle and the persona that they bring to the stage, then completely forget about the person. This documentary gives a very real view about the hopes, fears, and experiences that rap and hip hop artists have in trying to maintain a (holistically) healthy life.

Public health and sociology topics are also quite prevalent in this film. There are statistics about food deserts, the increased prevalence of non-communicable illnesses (like Type II Diabetes or heart disease) among minorities and children. The development and changes of African American food culture from slavery to the Great Migration to the North and West are also mentioned, and how we (as African Americans) still can maintain our connection to our roots through food and lifestlye.

The underlying message of the documentary is “Health is the new wealth.” The material wealth that is so valued in society is secondary to your own health. Spiritual, mental, and physical health are so valuable and can change your quality of life and how you perceive the world and achieve success. Meditation and self-awareness as a practice is something that is highly recommended through the film- research supports that meditation is beneficial in stress relief and can positively impact your life. Urban gardening can help build community and foster the development of skills that can help you in other aspects of your life.

There’s so much more that’s mentioned in this documentary that I would love to tell you about, but I want you to watch it for yourself. As a nutrition professional who watches many food documentaries, this documentary was distinctly different from others that I’ve watched. There’s no fearmongering, there’s no shaming, and the overall message and advice is positive and about increasing self-worth.

Overall, I loved this documentary!

Check out the trailer below, and if it sounds interesting to you – check out the documentary!

My friends at the UN: A reflection on Charlottesville

My friends at the UN: A reflection on Charlottesville

Seeing the events in Charlottesville, there were many topics that I could have easily written about in response. I could have written about racism, the President’s responses, or the hypocrisy in defending hate speech that leads to real violence against other people. Or, I could […]

Advice on making a lifestyle instead of a diet

Advice on making a lifestyle instead of a diet

In 2009, Michael Pollan published a book called Food Rules. It’s a relatively short book that has 64 bits of advice on what to eat and how to eat. Some of the advice is useful, depending on what your life circumstances are. Some of the […]

CONFIDENTIAL: Why everyone needs to have a secret project

CONFIDENTIAL: Why everyone needs to have a secret project

Today I’m working on a secret project. I’m very excited about it, and I’m putting a lot of effort into making it, but it’s a secret. None of you will find out right away what it is. Some of you may never know what it is. And that’s fine.

I think you should have a secret project too. Here’s why:

Good secrets are fun.

Isn’t it nice to have an air of mystery about you? To feel like a superhero who hides their identity, knowing that while you may appear to be this average person during most of your time, you do extraordinary things in secret? Think about it. Would Superman be as interesting without being Clark Kent? Would we relate to Spiderman so much if he weren’t Miles Morales/Peter Parker? Would Nikita be as effective with her plans if she couldn’t seamlessly integrate herself into different situations for intel/assassinations (yes I know she’s not a superhero, but she’s a badass). No! Become a superhero, keep a secret!

Secret projects take off the pressure.

Sometimes I tell people that I’m going to do a thing, but then I get a lot of anxiety about making it happen. I feel obligated to finish something not because I want to finish it, but I don’t want to disappoint whoever I told about my project. When I’m asked by someone “How is X thing going?” it makes me feel slightly shamed if I haven’t made enough visible progress to tell them about it. So if I don’t tell people about the project, there’s no pressure! They don’t know that anything exists! You can finish your secret project as quickly or slowly as you want to (or not at all).

When you tell people, you may be less likely to do it.

Bizarre, right? There is some research suggesting that telling others about identity-related goals (like I want to become (insert occupation or lifestyle), or I’m going to learn how to do (insert skill).) may make you less likely to accomplish them. From what I’ve read, sometimes when you tell people about what you’re going to do, the praise that you receive from others make you psychologically feel like you’ve already accomplished your goal. If you’ve accomplished your goal already, then why work on it so hard? Before you freak out that you already told someone about what you want to do, you should know that some studies suggest that accountability may be beneficial for achieving other goals.  The brain is very tricky. The best thing for you to do is to figure out what goals you can tell people about vs which ones you can’t.

Secret projects are fluid.

When I have a secret project going on, I find it easier to go with the flow when compared to a defined project. I don’t feel compelled to do something a certain way. Any new step in my project feels exciting because I have no expectations towards what it should look like – it just takes its own form! Earlier this week I was reading Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech to Philadelphia’s University of the Arts on making good art. It talked about how you should be a person who doesn’t know what you’re doing and who doesn’t know the rules, because it allows you to go beyond what is conventionally thought as possible or impossible. I feel like secret projects defy the rules. Secret projects have no rules! Secret projects have potential, and you should just go with it!

Photo by Jazmin Quaynor on Unsplash

I hope this inspires some of you to start your own projects. Begin a project that’s half of an idea, or extremely personal to you. A wish, or something new. Put all of the energy that you want towards it, and don’t feel like you’re being judged for not accomplishing/finishing/forming it fast enough. Do it because you like it.

Find your secrets.

WIRTW Roundup – July 7, 2017!

WIRTW Roundup – July 7, 2017!

Yikes, it has been a while since I’ve posted anything, yeah? I’ve been busy *and* unmotivated so that’s fun. On the bright side, I became scrimmage eligible in roller derby recently and got to see the Deftones and Rise Against this past weekend!  I’ve also […]

My Size Does Not Determine My Athletic Capabilities

My Size Does Not Determine My Athletic Capabilities

I get two types of responses when I tell people that I do roller derby: “Wow, that’s so awesome! You’re such a badass for doing derby!” Or, “Wait, you do roller derby? But you’re so tiny!” I find it amusing that people assume that my […]

WIRTW Weekly Roundup – June 14, 2017!

WIRTW Weekly Roundup – June 14, 2017!

Hello everyone! June seems to be flying past much faster than I expected, but I still have had time to find some good articles around the internet!

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Eat the Damn Eyeball

This article talks about a Korean-American man’s struggle with proving that he’s “Korean enough” to his relatives through food, and science fiction’s relationship to the “other.” Why are alien foods such a punchline in science fiction, and how does that relate to us respecting cultures from around the world?

On Cultural Appropriation, Canadians are Hypocrites

You’ve heard of Sasquatch, right? Did you know that its origin is a bastardization of the original First Nations myths of the Sasq’ets forest people? Though this article focuses on cultural appropriation in Canada, it still holds relevant for the rest of us.

Waist to Height Ratio: A better way to measure body fat than BMI

Anthropometry is the measurement of the human individual. BMI is an example of an anthropometric measurement, but it’s better used for population data rather than the individual. In addition, BMI doesn’t take into consideration of frame size or body fat. Many health professionals familiar with these types of measurements will tell you this. Other measurements we use for body adipose measurements include skinfolds, waist-to-hip ratios, and techniques like bioelectrical impedence, DXA, or water displacement, but as far as practicality and cost goes, BMI is pretty easy to calculate. A new study published in PLoS ONE shows that a relatively new measurement, waist-to-height ratio, could be just as easy and a better predictor at visceral fat (fat around organs = bad) than BMI. I recommend reading the discussion section of this article for further information on the strengths and weaknesses of these measurements. I’m definitely interested in the future of this measurement in healthcare practice.

People Don’t Want Healthy Vegetables, They Want Decadent Ones

A study by psychologists at Stanford University found that people selected more vegetable dishes when given “indulgent” names, vs bland or health positive/health negative messages. Let me start off by saying that this study is bullshit. If you click the link, you can see a table of some of the food descriptions they’ve given the foods. For beets: “dynamite chili and tangy lime-seasoned beets,” “beets,” “lighter-choice beets with no added sugar,” “high-antioxidant beets.” Or let’s look at the sweet potatoes: “zesty ginger-turmeric sweet potatoes,” “sweet potatoes,” “cholesterol-free sweet potatoes,” “wholesome sweet potato superfood.” It seems glaringly obvious that menu items that describe the cooking methods and flavorings of the foods have more appeal. You don’t need to add superfluous words like “zesty” or “twisted.”  Let me know how a food is cooked or what the flavorings are and I’m more likely to try it. That’s not indulgent or decadent by any means. People appreciate knowing the health benefits of food too, but health by itself isn’t much motivation to eat something if it doesn’t taste good.

Why the Story of Southern Food is as Much About People as Dishes

John T. Edge of the Southern Foodways Alliance talks about his new book The Potlikker Papers, which gets into the aspects of “race, class, gender, [and] ethnicity.” I’ve read several books published by the Southern Foodways Alliance so I expect this one to be good as well. Food studies people may be interested in checking this out.

Everything You Need to Know About Eating Activated Charcoal

Lately I’ve been seeing things about activated charcoal all over the place, and its popularity among foodies as a pleasing aesthetic (e.g, black ice cream) and as a powerful detoxer available in oral supplements and external beauty supplies. This article does a really good job of explaining what activated charcoal is, the cultural appeal of charcoal-dyed foods and the potential health risks of excessively consuming charcoal.

I Had a Meatmare: why Flesh Haunts the Dreams of Vegetarians

Androids dream of electric sheep, and sometimes vegetarians dream of eating hamburgers, even years after removing meat from their diets! This article gets into the psychology and social significance of meat eating (or abstinence from meat). For some, social anxiety, guilt, and morality associated with abstinence of meat eating can lead to these meatmares. I highly recommend reading this article! To my vegetarian/vegan readers, have you ever dreamt of eating meat?

“Dear Orlando” – One Year After the Pulse Nightclub Shooting

From the article: “The “Dear Orlando” photo series, released today on the one-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting, features survivors, family members, and first responders giving their own accounts of what happened, and how their lives have changed in the wake of that night.” While looking through this photo essay I took some time to reflect on the state of LGBTQ rights, especially for people of color, and what needs to be done in the continuous fight for equality/equity.

50 Years After the Loving Verdict, A Photo Essay

50 years. It’s sometimes hard for me to grasp that my mother is older than the decision that overturned the anti-miscegenation laws in the United States and made interracial marriage legal. Things like this serve as a reminder to me that many of our most significant cultural changes are still quite young. Check the article for a brief history of the Loving v Virginia case and a few images of the photo essay The Lovings: An Intimate Portrait by Grey Villet.

That’s all for this week! Are there any other recent articles that you think are worth a read?

Until next time…

How I Fixed My Relationships in My Sleep

How I Fixed My Relationships in My Sleep

We are very different sleepers. I’m a light sleeper, and he can sleep in until noon. I like to sleep on my side, and he needs to sleep on his back, otherwise he’ll be in pain. I tend to have dreams all the time, and […]