Category Archives: Uncategorized

Is Lack of Sleep Making You Fat?

It might be. Recent studies have suggested an association between sleep duration and weight gain. Sleeping less than five hours — or more than nine hours — a night appears to increase the likelihood of weight gain.

In one study, recurrent sleep deprivation in men increased their preferences for high-calorie foods and their overall calorie intake. In another study, women who slept less than six hours a night or more than nine hours were more likely to gain 11 pounds (5 kilograms) compared with women who slept seven hours a night. Other studies have found similar patterns in children and adolescents.

One explanation might be that sleep duration affects hormones regulating hunger — ghrelin and leptin — and stimulates the appetite. Another contributing factor might be that lack of sleep leads to fatigue and results in less physical activity.

So now you have another reason to get a good night’s sleep.  Think about it: If you’re feeling sleepy at work, you may be tempted to reach for a cup of coffee (or several cups) and a doughnut for a quick shot of energy. Later you may skip the gym and pick up takeout on your way home to your family — no time to cook. When you finally find yourself back in your bed, you are too wound up to sleep.

It’s a vicious cycle, and eventually this sleep deprivation can sabotage your waistline and your health.  It starts out innocently enough. “When you have sleep deprivation and are running on low energy, you automatically go for a bag of potato chips or other comfort foods says the clinical director of the Institute for Sleep and Wake Disorders.

The immediate result? You may be able to fight off sleepiness. The ultimate result? Unwanted pounds as poor food choices coupled with lack of exercise set the stage for obesity and further sleep loss.

Sleep debt is like credit card debt. If you keep accumulating credit card debt, you will pay high interest rates or your account will be shut down until you pay it all off. If you accumulate too much sleep debt, your body will crash.

Not getting enough sleep is common — even talked about with pride — in the U.S.  We brag about an all-nighter, but we do pay a price for staying up late and getting up early,

Understanding the Sleep-Diet Connection

The sleep-diet connection is regular fodder for diet books and magazine articles. Maybe you have even heard about the sleep diet, which suggests you can lose weight while you catch your ZZZs.

And it’s true, sort of.  It’s not so much that if you sleep, you will lose weight, but if you are sleep-deprived, meaning that you are not getting enough minutes of sleep or good quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly.

On average, we need about 7.5 hours of quality sleep per night. If you are getting this already, another half hour will not help you lose 10 pounds, but if you are a five-hour sleeper and start to sleep for seven hours a night, you will start dropping weight.

Exactly how lack of sleep affects our ability to lose weight has a lot to do with our nightly hormones.  The two hormones that are key in this process are gherkin and leptin. Ghrelin is the ‘go’ hormone that tells you when to eat, and when you are sleep-deprived, you have more ghrelin.  Leptin is the hormone that tells you to stop eating, and when you are sleep deprived, you have less leptin.  More gherkin plus less leptin equals weight gain.  You are eating more, plus your metabolism is slower when you are sleep-deprived.

The Sleep-Weight Loss Solution –So what can you do about sleep deprivation?

A lot…  look at how much you sleep vs. how well you sleep. Some people such as new moms may only get to sleep for a four-hour stretch. And there are some people who get 7.5 hours of sleep that is poor quality because of pain or an underlying sleep disorder, and this has the same effect as if they got less sleep.

For starters, avoid any caffeine in the afternoon because it will keep you in the lighter stages of sleep which are associated with poor sleep at night. Only decaf from 2 p.m. on.  Exercise also helps improve sleep quality. How soon before bed should you exercise? It depends — everyone is different. It’s more important that you exercise than it is when you exercise. To be safe, don’t exercise right before going to bed. But some people exercise better before bed and it doesn’t affect their sleep.

Watch what you eat before bedtime.  Pizza and beer before bedtime is not a good idea.  Neither is eating a big meal close to bedtime. Eating a few healthy snacks and then having a light meal — like a bowl of cereal — if you’re running close to bedtime. Heavy, rich meals before bed can also increase risk of heartburn, which will certainly keep you up all night.

What if you are getting enough hours of sleep but wake up and feel sleepy the next day?  Talk to your doctor about seeing a sleep specialist. After conducting a thorough evaluation and sleep study in which you are monitored while sleeping, the sleep specialist can help identify any underlying problem. Together you can develop a treatment plan so that you get more high-quality sleep — and maybe even slim down.

Does your brand pass the “8-second” test?

People today have an average attention span of just eight seconds. Fifteen years ago the average attention span was 12 seconds.  It’s no surprise people are impatient. Or that we are becoming even more so every day.

But it might surprise you to learn that a gold fish has an average attention span of nine seconds. That’s right, the average person cannot focus their attention on a task longer than a gold fish.

While this statistic about attention span has been talked about—and disputed—often by content marketers and website administrators, their argument is that quality of content matters. The term “attention web” was discussed recently in an article by TIME that summarized some of the research.

The facts show that the quality of the content you deliver to your audience has a critical impact on how long a customer engages with your product, web page, blog post or advertisement.  But here’s the point about this attention span research that people seem to misunderstand. It’s not that people cannot hold their attention longer than eight seconds, it’s that they are choosing what to focus their attention on very quickly and selectively.

This is really not new in the advertising world. Direct marketers have long understood that the headline you include on an envelope determines in just three seconds whether or not people open it, or pitch it.

Outdoor advertising (and street road signs for that matter) has long operated under the “six second” rule. This means you have six words or less to get your message across before drivers pass bye.

Best practices for TV and radio advertising recognize that the first few seconds of any commercial are critical to capturing the audience attention and avoiding tune-out.

In the media and publishing world writing simple and direct titles and headlines still drives sales for newspapers, magazines and books.

So what the eight-second attention span rule really means for your business and brand is this – your message, story, news, offer or promise must pass people’s scan test.

Consumers today are continuously scanning information. Content and messages that are instantly understood to be clear, relevant and interesting will capture people’s attention. And any brand information or messaging that is confusing, complicated, stupid or boring will be quickly ignored.

Pictures, videos, headlines and subheads that help your audience quickly learn what they can expect from shopping your store or buying your brand are vital to engaging customers successfully.

Most brands, and especially retailers and e-commerce providers, already believe they are delivering a good shopper and visitor experience. But the truth is they aren’t properly applying the -second rule to their website, merchandising, packaging or marketing and customer communications.

How do you know if your brand passes the scan test? Interview shoppers, and get them to share with you their quick impression of the story your brand is telling them from scanning your website, store aisles and marketing efforts overall.

In our experience, most retailers and e-commerce brands will discover quite a big gap between what they believe is being communicated to consumers and what shoppers see and experience themselves.

To close the gap between communication and customer experience, here are three (3) simple strategies you can use to help your brand pass the 8-second test

1. Kill Clutter.

Clutter is the enemy of clarity. When you have a lot of things and messages competing for someone’s attention people don’t know where to focus. Your home page, front entrance, signage and product packaging should all be designed to deliver a clear, direct and singular message.

2. Evoke Emotion.

Research shows that emotion plays an overwhelming role in decision making. People rarely buy things based on facts and reason alone. How you make people feel – welcome, comforted, excited, happy, etc. – determines how they behave. To evoke strong positive feelings that engage shoppers you need to look closely at the nonverbal elements of your marketing and customer experience; i.e. your visuals, images, colors and sounds. People don’t read a lot in 8 seconds. And communications studies show that 93% of what people respond to is non-verbal.

3. Avoid Being Clever.

Every brand seems to be looking for that clever idea that will help them stand apart from competition. The problem is that all too often these clever ideas get in the way of delivering a clear message. Examine your visuals and copy – do they get the story across to people in the most direct way possible? Get feedback from customers. Then strip down your story to its most basic, clear and meaningful form. Resist the temptation to add any creative elements that might obscure meaning.

With only eight seconds to capture a person’s attention retail and e-commerce brands need to recognize that consumers are scanning the information you deliver to them online or in-store.  People will quickly and selectively choose to engage with content that is clear, emotional and direct. And they will ignore, tune-out or skip past anything that is too long, too clever or too hard to understand.

 

4 Must Have Qualities Successful People Look For In An Ideal Partner

It is true: You can marry into more money in five minutes than you can make in a lifetime.  But, that can only happen if you are able to attract a wealthy and successful person in your life. Life is full of options and opportunities.  This reigns supreme in the love department, where it seems like there is endless variety, but a lot of dead ends (and there’s probably a good reason for that).

Believe it or not, success plays a huge role in how attractive you are and how attractive someone will be to you — especially when it comes to highly successful people.  Although it is great to identify exactly the type of partner you wish to have, nothing will come true if you don’t become the type of person who would attract that kind of partner. It is especially true when you’re looking for a success-driven partner.

Below is a short list of things that people find attractive as an entrepreneur and in general.

1. Having Your Life Together

Struggling to keep the electricity on because you play more than you work is a sign of immaturity. Skipping a bill because you’d rather play that new video game is irresponsible and a red flag.  The same goes for work: Missing days because you did too many hard drugs or just didn’t feel like it is no excuse, and ultimately, it’s not going to get you anywhere in life.  As an entrepreneur with multiple projects going on that all need close and continuous attention, you cannot afford distractions.

Your chances of dating the next Mark Zuckerburg or Donald Trump are slim if you have too much drama in your life. When successful people look to date, they look to find someone who doesn’t have additional baggage that will hold them back in life.

2. Ambition for Greater Things

The most important quality in a man or woman is ambition. In fact, it’s so important that without it, you’re probably not going to get very far.  Successful people want to see the same ambitious qualities in another person. Why? Because ambition means getting ahead.  Without the drive to be something better or improve your situation, you’ll end up stuck in the same spot for the remainder of life. Successful people find this as a major turn-off and will avoid people without ambition.

A common trait among highly successful people is their goals and aspirations always come first in life. You’re less likely to have petty arguments in a relationship if both parties have big goals and dreams they can work toward. The reason for that is because large goals are going to focus your time and energy on achieving them, rather than finding time to complain and argue.

3. Respect for Money

The person you marry must respect money, and more importantly must encourage you to take advantage of every single opportunity there is in the market place.  Instead of complaining about working too hard, they offer to work an hour or two longer.

The truth is, if you don’t respect money, it’s very unlikely you’ll ever stay in a long relationship with someone who has money, much less have money for yourself.  Wasting money on payday loans and frivolous purchases is a deal breaker. It shows you have no idea how to handle money from meeting a deadline to budgeting.  If you can’t budget for yourself, how are you going to budget for you and someone else? In short, you won’t.

4. Taking Risks

A caveat of life is the sheer risk you take simply by living it. Just walking on the sidewalk could be dangerous at times; you could get mugged, hit by a car or assaulted. Still, there are times you should always take risks.

Taking a calculated risk and attempting to better yourself is a good, attractive quality. It shows confidence and the will to try and better yourself. Sitting at home on a couch with a bag of nacho chips shows quite the opposite.  If you don’t take risks, you’ll never advance anywhere in life.

Those are four qualities successful people are likely to find attractive. Why? Because they took the same advice themselves to get where they are. Even if they had a huge helping hand starting out, they still had to maintain and keep driving forward.

Without these skills and mindsets, you’re likely to find yourself snagging leftovers and people who have made themselves victims. The question, at the moment, would be, do you want to be with someone like you?  If you say no for any reason that relates to the fact that you’re not where you want to be in life, it’s a good time to start thinking about altering your attributes.

Courage

Confidence is attractive, no doubt about it. Someone who knows how to do something well and owns that ability.  Remember that quiet confidence should not to be confused with outright arrogance, which is based in insecurity.  When someone feels the need to boast, they actually lack confidence and subconsciously need to fill that gap in themselves with others’ validation.

However, there’s another related quality that I find even more appealing, courage.

We are all afraid of something. Some of us are afraid of many things, and some fear almost everything.  Courage inspires because we are all afraid.  Courage is daring greatly through vulnerability.  Everyone is on their own journey and the fears they feel are real and valid to them, as are the fears we hang on to and the ones we’ve overcome.

Most people with confidence in something didn’t start with the accompanying skill. Whether it’s learning to try new things or making big-business decisions based on numbers and statistics and logistics and supposed-sure-thing strategies. Either way, it takes guts to go for it; to put ourselves out there subject to “failure.”

Having the courage to try leads to confidence, because it doesn’t matter if we get good at the thing we tried, it’s the trying that matters.

Sadly we live in a “what will they think of me” society.  How many likes did our Facebook status get? How many retweets? Are we being judged for how advanced/basic our yoga practice is? How acclaimed are our kid in school? The list goes on.

Courage doesn’t equal irresponsibility. Sometimes, the greatest courage a person faces is committing to taking responsibility for something greater than themselves, like family and children. Overcoming fears doesn’t mean doing anything overtly dangerous or simply stupid.

Commit to trusting your path, whether you “fail” or “succeed”.  Life really does begin outside our comfort zones.  What’s the worst that could happen? Whatever it is, it’s worth it. (Refer back to being safe and responsible), but as the saying goes: where there is a will there is a way.

Failure isn’t in not succeeding. Failure is in not trying.

 

Dieting

“Dieting” is a concept that only occurs in your mind. You can still do what looks like a diet, but doesn’t feel like one.  A diet is “the deliberate restriction of food or food groups in order to lose weight or for medical reasons.”  The main concept within that is restriction.

Well…just because you aren’t currently eating something does not mean you are restricting it.  For example a large population of the world eats insects, I don’t eat insects, but that does not mean I am restricting them. I just don’t want them.  Another example is I rarely eat cake, but I’m not restricting it I just don’t really like it enough for it to seem worth eating it.  My friend that is a Dietician taught me to say “I don’t want that” vs “I can’t have that”.  There is a MASSIVE difference.  You’re probably thinking…”well I like cookies/cheese/sugar/chips/whatever your thing is, so how does this apply if I still want it but need to avoid it?”  She also taught me that the first few bites are the best ad the taste buds give a diminishing return of reward as we keep eating.  So it has made it easy to eat a few bites then quit.

When done correctly you can bring your body into a healthier state that will be able to to eat those foods occasionally without the guilt, bloat, brain fog, and lethargy that comes with it.  There are “comfort foods” or we like the temporary “high/reward” (dopamine release). You might be one of those millions who needs to heal their food sensitivities in order to free themselves of these symptoms. People that have food sensitivities get migraines, bloating, indigestion etc if they eat those foods.  Avoiding those trigger foods keep the migraines at bay, but that doesn’t solve the root problem…which is our digestion and gut health are out of whack.

By now, the idea that gut bacteria affects a person’s health is not revolutionary. Many people know that these microbes influence digestion, allergies, and metabolism.  Your bacterial ecosystem could play a crucial role in autism, anxiety, depression, and other disorders.   Discovering how signals from the digestive system affect metabolism, raising or reducing risk for health conditions like type 2 diabetes. This involves interactions between nerve signals, gut hormones and microbiota—the bacteria that live in the digestive system.  Are you one of those people that has digestive issues, or food sensitivities? You may need to consider a more restrictive diet for a while so you can heal.   Learn how to change the environment, and make a long term change in your health and metabolism.  Researchers say that 75% -85% of all health conditions are nutrition related.  For example only 5–10% of all cancer cases can be attributed to genetic defects, whereas the remaining 90–95% have their roots in the environment and lifestyle.

Unique Habits of Ridiculously Likeable People

Too many people succumb to the mistaken belief that being likeable comes from natural, unteachable traits that belong only to a lucky few—the good looking, the fiercely social, and the incredibly talented. It’s easy to fall prey to this misconception.

When I speak to smaller audiences, I often ask them to describe the most likeable people they have ever worked with. People inevitably ignore innate characteristics (intelligence, extraversion, attractiveness, and so on) and instead focus on qualities that are completely under people’s control, such as approachability, humility, and positivity.

These qualities, and others like them, describe people who are skilled in emotional intelligence (EQ). Research data from more than a million people shows that people who possess these skills aren’t just highly likeable, they outperform those who don’t by a large margin. Ninety percent of top performers have high EQs, people with high EQs make $29,000 more annually than people with low EQs, and a single-point increase in your EQ adds $1,300 to your salary. I could go on and on.

Being likeable is under your control, and it’s a matter of emotional intelligence. Unlike innate, fixed characteristics, such as your intelligence (IQ), EQ is a flexible skill that you can improve with effort.

To help you improve your EQ, I did some digging to uncover the key behaviors that emotionally intelligent people engage in that make them so likeable.

They are genuine. Being genuine and honest is essential to being likeable. No one likes a fake. People gravitate toward those who are genuine because they know they can trust them. It is difficult to like someone when you don’t know who they really are and how they really feel.

Likeable people know who they are. They are confident enough to be comfortable in their own skin. By concentrating on what drives you and makes you happy as an individual, you become a much more interesting person than if you attempt to win people over by making choices that you think will make them like you.

They ask thoughtful questions. The biggest mistake people make when it comes to listening is they’re so focused on what they’re going to say next or how what the other person is saying is going to affect them that they fail to hear what’s being said. The words come through loud and clear, but the meaning is lost. A simple way to avoid this is to ask a lot of questions. People like to know you’re listening, and something as simple as a clarification question shows that not only are you listening, you also care about what they’re saying. You’ll be surprised how much respect and appreciation you gain just by asking questions.

They don’t pass judgment. If you want to be likeable you must be open-minded. Being open-minded makes you approachable and interesting to others. No one wants to have a conversation with someone who has already formed an opinion and is not willing to listen.

Having an open mind is crucial in the workplace where approachability means access to new ideas and help. To eliminate preconceived notions and judgment, you need to see the world through other people’s eyes. This doesn’t require you believe what they believe or condone their behavior, it simply means you quit passing judgment long enough to truly understand what makes them tick. Only then can you let them be who they are.

They don’t seek attention. People are averse to those who are desperate for attention. You don’t need to develop a big, extroverted personality to be likeable. Simply being friendly and considerate is all you need to win people over. When you speak in a friendly, confident, and concise manner, you will notice that people are much more attentive and persuadable than if you try to show them you’re important. People catch on to your attitude quickly and are more attracted to the right attitude than what—or how many people—you know.

When you’re being given attention, such as when you’re being recognized for an accomplishment, shift the focus to all the people who worked hard to help you get there. This may sound cliché, but if it’s genuine, the fact that you pay attention to others and appreciate their help will show that you’re appreciative and humble—two adjectives that are closely tied to likeability.

They are consistent. Few things make you more unlikeable than when you’re all over the place. When people approach you, they like to know whom they’re dealing with and what sort of response they can expect. To be consistent you must be reliable, and you must ensure that even when your mood goes up and down it doesn’t affect how you treat other people.

They use positive body language. Becoming cognizant of your gestures, expressions, and tone of voice (and making certain they’re positive) will draw people to you like ants to a picnic. Using an enthusiastic tone, uncrossing your arms, maintaining eye contact, and leaning towards the person who’s speaking are all forms of positive body language that high-EQ people use to draw others in. Positive body language can make all the difference in a conversation.

It’s true that how you say something can be more important than what you say.

They leave a strong first impression. Research shows most people decide whether or not they like you within the first seven seconds of meeting you. They then spend the rest of the conversation internally justifying their initial reaction. This may sound terrifying, but by knowing this you can take advantage of it to make huge gains in your likeability. First impressions are tied intimately to positive body language. Strong posture, a firm handshake, smiling, and opening your shoulders to the person you are talking to will help ensure that your first impression is a good one.

They greet people by name. Your name is an essential part of your identity, and it feels terrific when people use it. Likeable people make certain they use others’ names every time they see them. You shouldn’t use someone’s name only when you greet him. Research shows that people feel validated when the person they’re speaking with refers to them by name during a conversation.

If you’re great with faces but have trouble with names, have some fun with it and make remembering people’s names a brain exercise. When you meet someone, don’t be afraid to ask her name a second time if you forget it right after you hear it. You’ll need to keep her name handy if you’re going to remember it the next time you see her.

They smile. People naturally (and unconsciously) mirror the body language of the person they’re talking to. If you want people to like you, smile at them during a conversation and they will unconsciously return the favor and feel good as a result.

They know who to touch (and they touch them). When you touch someone during a conversation, you release oxytocin in their brain, a neurotransmitter that makes their brain associate you with trust and a slew of other positive feelings. A simple touch on the shoulder, a hug, or a friendly handshake is all it takes to release oxytocin. Of course, you have to touch the right person in the right way to release oxytocin, as unwanted or inappropriate touching has the opposite effect. Just remember, relationships are built not just from words, but also from general feelings about each other. Touching someone appropriately is a great way to show you care.

They balance passion and fun. People gravitate toward those who are passionate. That said, it’s easy for passionate people to come across as too serious or uninterested because they tend to get absorbed in their work. Likeable people balance their passion with the ability to have fun. At work they are serious, yet friendly. They still get things done because they are socially effective in short amounts of time and they capitalize on valuable social moments. They minimize small talk and gossip and instead focus on having meaningful interactions with their coworkers. They remember what you said to them yesterday or last week, which shows that you’re just as important to them as their work.

Bringing It All Together

Likeable people are invaluable and unique. They network with ease, promote harmony in the workplace, bring out the best in everyone around them, and generally seem to have the most fun. Add these skills to your repertoire and watch your likeability soar!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dr. Travis Bradberry is the award-winning co-author of the #1 bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the cofounder of TalentSmart, the world’s leading provider of emotional intelligence tests and training, serving more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies. His bestselling books have been translated into 25 languages and are available in more than 150 countries. Dr. Bradberry has written for, or been covered by, Newsweek, TIME, BusinessWeek, Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, Inc., USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Harvard Business Review.