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Matteen

How Intermittent Fasting Has Improved My Life

I think the one thing we can all agree we want more of is time. Trailing closely behind this is a desire for more energy with which to adequately enjoy that time.

So the question becomes how do we maintain a consistent, high level of energy that allows us to fully experience life’s moments? It can be tricky balancing the many demands that are made of us spiritually, physically and emotionally. Most people turn to diet and exercise to boost energy, in addition to an obvious plethora of other benefits, but could it be that most of us are approaching diet in a way that is not exactly ideal?

If someone asked you what the most important meal of the day is, you might be quick to respond that it is, indeed, breakfast. What if I told you that this adage with which we are all so well acquainted was nothing more than a ploy, a 19th-century marketing scheme launched by General Foods in the hopes of boosting cereal sales? 

For the masses, at that time, breakfast was not prioritized and certainly not heralded as the key to the start of a successful day.  If you take this concept a step further and consider the conventional meal structure, does it actually work in our favor? Do humans really need to eat 3 or more meals a day to operate optimally? To answer the latter question, let’s dive into some of the eating habits of our predecessors.

The Romans typically ate just one meal per day and considered anything more to be gluttonous. If they could see us now! For those driven to replicate the eating habits of our cavemen ancestors, you might be interested to know that their meal frequency did not correlate with what is considered normal in modern mainstream society. Similar to the Tsimane Indian Tribe, one of a dwindling population of hunter-gatherer tribes, early humans ate based on what they foraged and hunted.

Even in the most health-conscious fitness fanatics, the level of activity we now experience is incomparable to the level of physical exertion that the bodies of early humans underwent. Even still, the amount of food consumed by them in comparison to what we consume now was considerably less, most likely due to forced fasting proceeding unsuccessful hunts.

While all bodies are different and largely adaptive to a range of habits and conditions, research suggests that the benefits of intermittent fasting may add years to your life.  Here are the ways that it has positively impacted mine.

More Energy

Humans evolved eating once per day and had a much more physically taxing existence than we are accustomed to. When you eat, your blood rushes to your stomach to aid in digestion and as such, other areas of the body are left with less blood, which can often result in low energy.  The more often a day we spend in a digestive state, the more often we will feel this way.

More Time

Less time eating means less time cooking, which in turn means less time cleaning! You get the picture. We all know that time is our most valuable resource, so any means of putting more of it back into a day gets a vote in my book.

Less Complications

For years I was affected by pharyngitis constantly and soon realized that our eating habits have a tremendous effect on our bodies’ healing capabilities. Your body can only operate in a mode of digestion or repair. It can’t do both at the same time so essentially, eating less offers more opportunities for your body to fight against illness and disease.

If you’re interested in trying intermittent fasting, I recommend researching the variations that exist and trying what you feel will work best for you. As with any new venture, you’ll experience some discomfort within the transition, but the results in how you’ll feel long-term will be well worth it.

The Rise of Fake Social Accounts: Why they are a cause for concern and how to identify them

There has been an exponential increase in fake accounts across various social media platforms. Facebook, for example, has reported that approximately 5% of their worldwide monthly active users during Q1 2019 and Q4 2018 were fake accounts. Many of these fake accounts seek to cause harm, and are often used in spam campaigns or are financially motivated. The situation is similar with Instagram and Twitter as well, and all social networks constantly work on developing solutions for the detection and removal of fake accounts.

The rise of fake users poses a huge problem for everyone. Part of these fake accounts are created by hackers, cyberbullies or cyberstalkers to gain access to people’s sensitive, private information. Another part are politically-motivated accounts used to distribute fake news stories. Some of these accounts market fake products through social media ads, directing people to illegitimate websites that sell those same fake products. Other fake accounts are created by so-called social boosting services, used by various people to rapidly increase their following and, thus, their earning potential.

So how can you know if a certain social account is a fake account? Luckily, these accounts are fairly easy to recognize. Here are a few tips on how to identify them and avoid the dangers that come with them:

1. Unusual numbers

If an Instagram or Twitter account follows thousands of people, but has very few followers, and almost no content, that’s a red flag. Similarly, if an account has a large following of thousands of followers, but very low engagement such as 5-10 Likes per post, that’s a cause for concern as well.

2. Profile photos that look like stock images

Accounts that use stock images or celebrity pictures as their profile photos, or accounts with no profile photos whatsoever are most likely not genuine. A quick reverse Google Image search can be very useful in spotting fake profiles that use this tactic.

3. Lack of activity

If an Instagram, Facebook or Twitter account has no activity, and no sign of any posts, but still engages with other users’ posts by liking and commenting using meaningless spam comments, such as a set of emojis or captions such as “great picture”, it’s very likely that it’s a fake.

4. Shady content

If an account posts a random combination of images, such as photos of various people, then a beach photo, then a food picture, followed by a generic quote, it’s likely that it’s as shady as the content on it.

So if you come across social media accounts that use these tactics, your best bet is to report and block them immediately. Less followers is so much better than fake, and potentially dangerous, followers.

Morning Routines to Help You Be More Positive and Productive

Morning routines have the ability to shape the trajectory of your ENTIRE DAY and ultimately, your ENTIRE LIFE.  Below you’ll find an intuitively crafted collection of activities that I’ve honed over the years by identifying what my body needs most to function optimally.  What I outline on this list may or may not work for you, but my hope is to inspire you to pay close attention to what fuels you and adapt a routine that reflects that.

1. Rise Early

The most successful people in the world from a diverse set of industries seem to understand this key ingredient to success.  We’ve been hearing the old adage since grade school: The early bird gets the worm. When you rise early, you can approach the day offensively, rather than defensively. Mornings are characterized by higher will power, better decision-making skills, and minimal distractions, making them the perfect introduction to a busy day.

2. ACV Cocktail

The first step I take in the morning is into the kitchen to make my daily ACV Cocktail:

  • 12 oz. Water
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Tsp Cayenne

On its own, apple cider vinegar has been heralded for an array of health benefits, but here are a few for which it is well known:

  • Lowered blood sugar levels
  • Increased good cholesterol
  • Improved circulation and heart health

3. Day “Lights”

Through the use of circadian optics, I’m able to shake the initial grogginess that accompanies early mornings and immediately send a boost of energy to my brain.  These lamps work in tandem with our body’s Circadian rhythm, helping us to reset the disruption in sleep patterns that often result from our over interaction with screens.  

4. Stretch

5-10 minutes of stretching in your routine can increase circulation, raise energy levels, and improve posture. It also helps to loosen up the joints in preparation for exercise.

5. Inverted Meditation

The greatest time for personal reflection and mastery is when the day is still and peaceful. Meditation provides a great opportunity to connect with yourself at core and when, coupled with inversion, also offers a deeper state of relaxation that can transform your meditation practice. 

6. Weight Lifting & Cardio

I’m sure you’ll agree that it can be challenging to commit to a workout routine, let alone begin your day with it, but once you experience the effect that it has on your energy levels, it will become a non-negotiable. Depending on what your goal is, the length of time and level of intensity will vary, but as a benchmark, the American Heart Association  recommends 150 minutes of medium intensity workouts spread throughout each week. 

Whether you’re looking to make some changes to your morning routine or looking to incorporate one altogether, realize that how you begin your day is not only impactful to you, but those around you.  Life is busy, but it should never feel rushed. If it does feel this way, it may be time to introduce a solid morning routine into your day.

The Hacker in Your Home: Bootleg Streaming Devices

Bootleg streaming devices are becoming more popular by the minute, as they promise free, unlimited entertainment content, including TV shows, brand new movies, and elite sports games, which would otherwise be available only through a paid streaming service. These bootleg streaming devices can also include compromised versions of legitimate streaming devices such as Amazon Fire TV Sticks and Kodi boxes.

For years, consumers have been utilizing these devices to stream their favorite shows free of the exorbitant costs often associated with cable packages, but, as the saying goes, there’s no such thing as free lunch. According to​ ​research by the Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA)​, most of these streaming devices are targeted by hackers and packed with pre-installed malware that greatly compromises people’s cybersecurity from the place where they should feel safest -their homes.

The illicit, pirated devices, which are not available in stores, but can be bought online on eBay, Craig’s List or Facebook Marketplace, are used just like legitimate devices such as Roku box or Apple TV; they are plugged into a TV and connected to a Wi-Fi network. However, once connected, the malware in the bootleg device’s hardware, or accompanying apps such as Mobdro, FreeNetflix, Exodus, or Krypton, starts collecting users’ Wi-Fi usernames and passwords, unbeknownst to them. From there, sensitive data, such as the users’ photos, videos and financial accounts, becomes vulnerable to security attacks from other devices connected to the same network.

The cybersecurity threat for these bootleg streaming devices should not be taken lightly, considering that there are more than 12 million active users in North America. Unaware of the security risks, people plug in the pirated streaming devices and provide access to their networks, opening the door to a series of cyberattacks. These cyberattacks are dangerous not only for the users themselves, but for cybersecurity overall, since they enable hackers to access millions of devices, from smart TVs, to phones, tablets, and even smart home components such as thermostats or refrigerators.

So if you’re looking for a streaming device and you come across one that looks too good to be true, it probably is. Save yourself the headache and stay away from pirate devices, even if it means spending the extra money. Legitimate devices and streaming services are the only safe way to enjoy entertainment content at home.

Five Time Management Hacks that Will Preserve Your Sanity

Most of us feel like time is rarely on our side, but the truth is, that may be due to faults of our own. The good news is, that means we have control over those faults. Sure, we can’t actually extend the amount of time available to us in a day. We are all confined to the same 24 hours. However, there are techniques to get more out of every minute of the day. Of course there will always be different strokes for different folks, but I challenge you to not find at least one of my tips that add value to your time management approach.

The first one is a big one, but it’s important, no matter how much you are tempted to do otherwise

Focus your attention completely on whatever or whomever is in front of you.

In a world that is brimming with constant distraction and noise, this can be challenging to stick to. The older you get, the more your mind seems like a hodgepodge of to-do’s, upcoming engagements, and random thoughts that all need your immediate attention (obviously). However, I believe focus is key in better time management due primarily to 2 reasons:

  • It allows you to get more done in less time
  • It prevents you from having to backtrack and relearn something you missed out on because you weren’t mentally present to actually absorb the experience or lesson the first time around

It can also be helpful to take the guess-work out of what you already anticipate to be apart of your day or week

Build your routines around recurring tasks.

When you notice there are key areas you are regularly giving attention to, develop a proactive approach. Build those tasks into your daily or weekly routine so that space has already been carved out for them. This will result in you feeling less overwhelmed by the number of tasks you plan to accomplish and, overtime, they will become easier for you. Your mind will have grown accustomed to completing them regularly so it will require less effort on your behalf. Consider it as a form of muscle memory. Since your brain is a muscle it becomes more efficient with completing tasks that are familiar and planned.

Delineate a time limit in which to complete a task and stick to that time frame.

People either love or hate time management hacks. Chances are, if you’re one of those who hates them, you might still find that you love the Pomodoro Technique of time management. ​According to The Muse​, the PomodoroTechnique is a time management system characterized by 25 minute work “sprints” called pomodoros with 5 minute breaks in between. Additionally, there is an extended 15-20 minute break after the completion of 4 pomodoros. The purpose of these sprints is to focus on completing tasks without distraction and a heightened sense of urgency. Success is measured by the number of completed pomodoros and, thus, the level of efficiency with which your day runs. Benefits of using this technique include better time management, increased concentration levels and maintaining productivity throughout the day.

Batch related tasks together.

This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s more suitable to productivity to work on tasks that are related so that your mind is not constantly switching gears. The average person views multitasking as a strength and upon first glance, it’s understandable why that is so. Doing more at once equals completing more at once, right? Not exactly. MIT neuroscientist, Earl Miller, ​breaks down exactly why we should refrain from multi-tasking​. Our creative capabilities are exceeded when we are given extended time to focus on one task and, therefore, it is in our best interest to develop personal work environments that allow for that. Constant switching between tasks is mentally draining and may have a lot to do with why you end your work day feeling as though you’ve run a marathon. Greater task completion does not necessarily denote quality task completion. Which is really more important?

Embrace outsourcing and automation.

Think of 3 things you spend time on regularly that could either be outsourced to someone else or automated. The hour that you spend cutting the grass, the 2 hours you spend grocery shopping, the unnecessary time spent deciding what you are going to wear each morning. If you are in a position to do so, delegate tasks you don’t have time for, such as lawn care, to an outside company. Costs that positively impact your well-being by saving you time are worth what you pay for them.

When I speak of automation, I’m not only referring to the use of technology to make your life easier, I’m also referring to your own ability to automate certain decisions within your mind. When the average adult makes ​35,000 decisions per day​, the more that we can get off of our plate, the better, right? By automating repetitive decisions, you put time back into your day. Sticking to the same meals or take out by weekday takes the brainwork out of that aspect of your planning. Deciding on a weekly or biweekly rotation of outfits and arranging them in your closet in that way also saves a lot of time. I could also take it a step further to say that minimalism in general allows for less-decision making, but we’ll save that for another day.

So there you are. There’s my two cents on how to maximize the hours you have so you can actually get around to completing that to-do list. Who am I kidding though? Does anyone ever actually complete a to-do list?