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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.

Why 4-Day Work Weeks are Better for Society

We’ve all experienced the limitations of a weekend. You run out of the office Friday with high hopes for 2 days of reckless abandon, with little to no responsibility, but alas! You are greeted by the stark reality of a weekend filled with a laundry list of to-do’s and hardly any fun. Okay, let’s be honest, we sneak a bit of fun in where we can, but that doesn’t stop us from being overwhelmed by all the things we must do to prepare for the upcoming week.  So where did this concept of a weekend actually come from? It’s been said that time is a construct that humans have bent to their own benefit and for the weekday, which is entirely man made, that is definitely not too far from the truth.  The five-day workweek showed up in the beginning of the 20th century in order to accommodate Jewish workers who observed the Sabbath, while also not offending the Christian majority.

Since then it has grown to be an international standard around which we arrange our lives. During “long” weekends, we rejoice for gaining an extra day to delve into the real fun we crave all year long. For most of us, this represents a day with no strings attached, an obligation-free hall pass to kick off our shoes, theoretically, and relax.  That’s when the thought creeps in. You know the one: What if every weekend was a three-day weekend? In a study done at the University of Rochester in which 74 adults between the age of 18 and 62 were observed who worked more than 30 hours a week, it was concluded that weekends were associated with more freedom and thus, heightened levels of happiness within participants.

So what would weekends look like for us if we were given an opportunity to expand them forever?  Would the result of this increase in freedom be higher productivity, lower stress and more quality time with those we love most?  The extra day off would certainly result in better work-life balance that could be beneficial for both employees and their employers. 4-day work week trials have noted a decrease in stress amongst workers alongside an increase in both commitment and stimulation.

Potentially the biggest benefit of lengthening weekends would be a shift in attitude that the working class typically experience regarding work.  People have been conditioned to work/learn for 5 days since kindergarten, learning in the same pattern, repeating the same standards of existence.  Imagine what production might look like from employees, if there was a major shift that ruptured that predictable, monotonous schedule we have been exposed to for as long as we can remember. There might quite literally be an explosion of creativity, collaboration and innovation.


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.