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

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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 […]

WIRTW: Gulp by Mary Roach

WIRTW: Gulp by Mary Roach

Flatulence, and fistulas, and fecal matter – Oh my! Last week I read Gulp by Mary Roach, a novel looking at the science of the alimentary canal (aka, the digestive tract). I’ve wanted to read Gulp since seeing her interview on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart  years ago […]

Coming Soon: Hollywood Fringe Festival 2017!

Coming Soon: Hollywood Fringe Festival 2017!

For once in my life, I am thankful for targeted advertising on a social media website. While scrolling through Tumblr, an advertisement showed up on my feed for the Hollywood Fringe Festival 2017.  Immediately I got excited and my day improved by 1000%. You may be wondering, what’s a fringe festival? Well, I’m glad you asked!

Edinburgh Festival Fringe, 2010. Photo by Festival Fringe Society

A fringe festival is an annual, open access festival that invites the local community to  experience and participate in freedom of expression and collaboration in the performing arts community. At a fringe, you can find comedy, acrobatics, musical performances, theater, and other forms of performing art that you may not see in mainstream arts society. Yeah, some of it may be weird but that’s what you go for.

The most famous (and the original) of the fringes is the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.  You can check out their page to learn how a group of post-WWII festival crashers came to create one of the most highly regarded performance festivals in the world. I am fortunate enough to know a group of physical theatre students at LSU who performed in Edinburgh back in 2014 with their piece Origin and got to see a part of it performed at an on-campus research conference. Fringe festivals have got some really great stuff.

Photo by Edmonton Economic Development Corporation

Hollywood Fringe Festival 2017

Now that I’ve hopefully drawn you in, let’s talk about the Hollywood Fringe. This year, the festival officially runs from June 8-25th. There are previews of some Fringe shows happening from June 1-6th, and there’s a big opening night party on June 7th.

A tip: going to the website itself is going to be the best way figure out what’s going on. There’s going to be multiple performances going on simultaneously in different venues. Because of this, it may be overwhelming to dive into a fringe without some kind of plan.

I haven’t looked at the entire schedule yet, but there are some shows that look promising. Take, for example, Buffy Kills Edward: A Musical Romp. It’s an musical AU where the characters of Buffy the Vampire Slayer are introduced to the characters of Twilight. Need I say more? Paul Yen’s Secret Identity Crisis reimagines iconic superheroes to examine the history of Asians in America. And if you’re looking for something a bit more existential, Void is a story of two sisters debating the pros and cons of cryogenic freezing to avoid death, if only for a while.

If you happen to not be in the Hollywood area, do not fret! There are fringes around you (hopefully)! If you don’t know how to find one, ask your artsy/circus performer friend and they might know.

See you there!

A Review of Never Alone (video game)

A Review of Never Alone (video game)

Earlier this year I came across the 2014 game Never Alone (Kisima Inŋitchuŋa) produced by Upper One Games- the first indigenous-owned commercial game company in the United States. That day, I entered a stream of the game in progress on Twitch and had no idea what was going […]