Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.

Mark's Daily Apple

2 Apr

Does It Have to Be This Way?

Something has been on my mind and I want to ask for your thoughts on the matter.

The other day, I stopped at the local Starbucks for a coffee. Rather than book it to my next errand, I decided to sit and relax for a few minutes. Yes, I’m a people-watcher (guilty as charged). It was late in the afternoon and people were hurriedly running their errands, trying to get everything taken care of before dinner.

I started to notice something: everywhere I looked, people were stressed out. Brows were furrowed, children were ornery, wives looked anxious, the husbands had that “I’ve officially hit the wall” numb look. Drivers were impatiently honking horns, the intersection was jammed, and the general feeling in the air was pretty lousy.

I shook it off and walked over to the drugstore to pick up a few sundries. Same thing – a woman was tearing the poor clerk to pieces over a soda discount error. The line was piling up, people were complaining and grimacing, and there was a lot of huffing going on.

Against my better judgment, I headed for the bank to take care of some business, and it was the same scene there: a college kid crying about her overdraft charges, an incompetent teller, a missing manager, an obnoxious guy in a suit screaming on his cell phone.

We all have those days. Evidently, this day, everyone was having it at the same time. We all hit our limits, and sometimes the manners just go. Nobody’s perfect. Life is really stressful. And yet, I find myself asking: why do we accept this?

Is there ever really a reason to scream at a clerk, your child, your spouse? We all dread getting stuck behind “that person” in line – that person who gets rattled by the tiniest mistake and apparently feels that yelling at another human being is acceptable behavior. Even worse, most of us have been that person at least once, despite our best attempts.

So, is this just life? If life turns ordinary people into angry, stressed, impatient souls, should we really say that’s just the way life is? Should we accept it?

I don’t have the answers. I don’t even know if I’m asking the right question (but I think I am). I’m certain you know what I’m talking about – we all witness this hum of stress on a persistent, sometimes even daily, basis. All I want is one good, compelling, logical reason why it has to be this way. I don’t want to know why it is this way – that’s easy enough to figure out if you simply look at our modern lifestyle and the insane pressures many of us face. That’s not what I’m asking.

I want someone to tell me why it has to be, not why it is. Does it have to be this way?

2 Apr

Taxes, Holidays & Spring Fever: Also Known As April

With holidays, taxes and spring fever upon us, April is a hectic time for all of us – to say the least! April showers? More like April avalanche.

My challenge to you this week: get organized now so that you don’t shortchange yourself in the exercise and sleep departments this month. We all have our different systems – personally, I like to plot out the essentials for each week and not worry too much about every detail. Some of us do better when every last thing is accounted for and planned. Whatever system works best for you, get an early start on it so you can enjoy this busy month and let your list do the stressing for you. (I know, easier said than done, but go for it anyway.)

If you’re already a master of organization and time management, I’d love to hear your secrets. Drop me a line in the forum!

30 Mar

Healthy Tastes Great!

Stir-Fried Chinese Greens with Ginger, Oyster and Soy Sauce

(Nix the sugar and you’ll have one tasty & healthy bok choy stir-fry!)

30 Mar

You Don’t Have to Try to Like Celery Anymore

Celery doesn’t have a passionate fan base. There are no “core users” of which I am aware. In fact, I’m convinced that even the celery fans among us (myself included…sorta) probably wouldn’t eat it if it weren’t, well, just there all the time.

Celery is great in soups and somehow also got the reputation of “peanut butter’s soul mate” though I for one will dispute that. A world without celery would probably also upset the makers of Mrs. T’s Bloody Mary Mix, so celery does serve a good purpose.

But, there’s a stringless alternative to celery that I love: allow me to present bok choy. Talk about genius calories.

bokchoy

Bok choy isn’t quite as bland as celery, so I don’t recommend forcing it on your almond butter. This is mainly because bok choy actually tastes like something. But bok choy’s noted fresh flavor is mild in a mushroom kind of way – it’s not overpowering and it complements whatever else it’s paired with.

Bok choy is loaded with calcium, Vitamin A, and vitamin C, and even if it weren’t, I’d still love it for the lack of strings. Although it’s technically a cabbagey thing, bok choy bears stalky resemblance to celery and is virtually interchangeable. And again about the strings.

Use bok choy in stir fries, vegetable medleys, casseroles, soups, stews, and even those Bloody Marys. You’ll love it!

Here’s a recipe.

bok choy

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29 Mar

Good Fat, We Love You

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

We also love our Apples! Here’s the roundup, kids.

What’s the Big Omega?

This study says Omega-3′s don’t help with depression or anxiety. This study says they do, and that they help inflammation, too. What gives? Without requiring you to get a chemistry degree, here’s the basic gist of why these two studies differ:

1) Study 1 is not a study, but a review. A review can be a helpful way to make sense of a lot of different information, but it is not, in itself, a scientific study. Just tell your friends this (they’ll think you’re a total genius):

Reviews are problematic because they tend to look at studies that are conducted under different circumstances – it’s sort of like comparing apples to oranges and asking if they’re like a banana.

A review can provide some insight, but that’s usually about all. You’ll notice that many of the more sensational health news items (vitamins kill you! tea is a magic cure!) often come from reviews. We like that Study 1 points out that low-quality fish oil supplements are a problem because they’re often contaminated with pollutants like mercury. Plus, they cause burping and fish breath – sexy! You do get what you pay for, so buy the best.

2) Study 2 is an actual study, and though small, it’s a good one in a series of rigorous studies conducted by Ohio U. Unlike Denmark, we love these guys and gals from Ohio, because they are so methodical about their research (we are allowed to pick on Denmark because their studies are suspiciously pro-Pharma; also, we keep a Dane on staff). They found that it’s the balance of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fats that is critical to good health. Interestingly, the healthiest, slimmest cultures around the world consistently reflect this – but, that’s a very good example of an empirical review! Helpful, but not scientific. Good science means backing it up – check out our Q&A on fish oil for more info.

Mark’s been talking about this whole fat balance issue for a good long while, so if you want to learn more, definitely check out the Study 2 link. Or click this for a selection of all the lovely good fat musings we provide on (frankly) an obsessive basis.

Oh Yeah, and the Rest of the News

Obesity: such a problem, dangerous drugs banned in Britain are being prescribed off-labelto kids! Our suggestion: cut out the snacks, turn off the TV, and get those munchkins into a sport!

Meditation: it’s scientifically proven to beat stress. You don’t have to be a Buddhist to enjoy it. Here’s an enjoyable little read that tells you how to do it and why it helps.

Caffeine and soda: it’s no secret that we have a bit of a problem with soda ’round these parts. Rosie, Tami and the rest of the brilliant gang at the Los Angeles Times health desk brought our attention to a must-read article on caffeine, soda companies’ disclosure of said caffeine, and all that this entails…

See you tomorrow!

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