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

Mark's Daily Apple

19 Mar

Work Is Weird

A Monday Moment

I just had a funny email exchange with friend and fellow Apple “D” (in case her boss is reading…sheesh). We were catching up on our weekend adventures, and she capped the conversation with “Well, I guess I better stop emailing and get to work. You mean I’m not just here for the free internet?

This is an interesting, if inadvertent, revelation of the problem with work in America today. I’m going to share my thoughts about it, because I think the impact of work on health is sorely overlooked on a lot of health blogs (and that’s what my Monday Moment is all about – plus, it gives you five minutes to slack off). Food and fitness are arguably the most important factors in optimizing our health, but what are we gonna do with that healthy body and mind? We spend most of our time at work, so this is important.

Just who is doing all this blog writing, reading, linking and bookmarking? In a society where IM has become a verb, just how productive are we? (Hmm…wonder what those Bees are up to…)

It’s amazing how blogs and chats and forums are so massively successful in terms of participation. We are a pretty overworked society – no wonder people are IMing (my grammar teacher is turning in her grave right now). No wonder people are signing up for Ambien and Lunesta like it’s candy corn. There’s no time to chill out, chat, and just be.

Entrepreneurs and business brains alike fret over the lack of productivity with workers, but so far, only a few companies get it (“D” hit the nail right on the head). I’m not sure what the source of the problem is, but I’ve got some ideas:

Literally depressing lighting.

– Too much to do – and too much busy work.

– Face it, work can feel like a prison. Just like school, workers have rules, procedures, and systems to follow. If you need a nap, want to work in a different way, or just have an idea, you might as well be an alien. No wonder people are stressed out and bummed out – they’re micro-managed to death.

– Furniture and space are boring, standardized and offer little privacy.

– Being made to feel like a kid, instead of a man or woman of value.

– Feeling pointless, in short. But when you comment on a blog or join a forum, suddenly, your voice matters. Is it any wonder we’re all talking? We’ve all got something to say!

No wonder people are having a surreptitious blast with the internet. As a business owner myself, I’m baffled by the way things are done in America. Have we forgotten that business is really just people hanging out and doing stuff? (Operative word being people).

And what’s with playing dress-up? I like a fine Italian suit as much as the next man, but there’s something macabre about the whole world of work we create for people. Who designed it this way? And why fight people’s need to hang out, chat, and eventually get around to doing some necessary stuff? The current corporate structure is so discordant with human nature and health needs, and the strange thing about this is that it doesn’t have to be that way.

We spend most of our day at work, so shirking a healthy work life is going to be a disaster for your overall health – it’s just a matter of when. If your boss isn’t flexible, tell him (or her) that I said it’s for your health.

In the meantime, here are 5 ridiculously easy, really effective tips for having a productive, healthy, relaxed week:

First step: Do less to do more. This means learning to say “no”. That’s not a sign of weakness – it’s smart and honest. Another thing: leave at 5. The world won’t fall apart (it won’t), and working smart is more important than working a lot. I admire guys like Seth Godin and Ricardo Semler because they’ve been talking about this issue for years. Eventually it’ll sink in and we’ll all be healthier.

Second step: Go to bed one hour earlier every night this week, starting tonight. Make sure it’s at the same time.

Third step: Turn off all PDA’s and phones during lunch and after 5. Period.

Fourth step: Choose something simple you do daily, and do it differently every day this week. The change in routine shouldn’t add work or be stressful – it should serve to refresh and invigorate you. If you check your email constantly, just check it at a few designated times daily. If you normally eat at your desk, eat at the local Starbucks instead. If you always roll in to work at 9, try 8:30. If you typically communicate with someone via email, pick up the phone instead (I am a big fan of the phone instead of email – I think it connects people and more gets done, which ultimately makes everyone less stressed out). If you typically experience a post-lunch coma every day at 2 and find yourself doing nothing, try “doing nothing” in a better way – try some yoga stretches, do some push-ups, call your spouse to say hi. Oh, and cut down on the carbs, by the way.

Fifth step: Create your own productivity task plan for the week. Keep it simple – no more than four or five tasks a day (because, like David Allen of Getting Things Done fame explains: every task has its own subset of tasks). Stick to them. You can refine as you get better at it. This will take the stress out of the equation because you’re emptying your brain onto a pad or into a spreadsheet. It’s different from a to-do list, though, because it’s a weekly system that focuses on the most important tasks and organizes them in a productive, effective way. Check out blogs like Zen Habits and Genius Types for great ideas.

You can do this however you like, but the point is that it should make you feel relaxed and give you a sense of accomplishment. If it feels like a task itself, you’re not doing it right. (And make sure your feeling of accomplishment isn’t in creating your weekly system – this is just a tool to actually accomplish what is most important so you feel less chaotic, distracted and stressed out and have more time to cook great food, work out, and live your life. Now that is health.)

19 Mar

The Weekly Health Challenge

Soothe your stress: restrain any road-rage tendencies this week. Put yourself in the other person’s bucket seat. Find a better outlet for any pent-up frustration (it’s amazing how good it can feel to teach a big batch of vegetables a thing or two – chop them up and into the wok they go). If that’s too domestic for you, get outside and go for a run, or pump your favorite music.

Still fuming? Yell about it with a friend until you both start laughing. Channel your anger into humor, amusement, indignation, and positive energy. A little anger is perfectly normal and O.K. – if you express it and use it properly.

16 Mar

Web It Out

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

Howdy, Apples! Here are some helpful news notes to click out before you head out! Have a great weekend. As always, thanks for the great feedback and wonderful tips (and constructive criticism) you’ve sent our way. As word about Mark’s Daily Apple spreads into the world of health, your thoughts, tips and suggestions are much appreciated, so please keep ’em coming!

Pump It Up

It’s chest presses, not puffing, that saves people. Here’s some important news for doing CPR right. Always good to brush up!

Bodca Flickstream

Good News!

Hepatitis cases are down, way down. That’s great news for public health. Have you been vaccinated? All three types of hep – A, B, and C – have been reduced by public health practitioners’ education efforts. B and C are the most important types to prevent, as they can lead to serious, and even fatal, liver complications.

Stop Cancer Cold

New research continues to show the benefit of antioxidants like vitamin C. Get yourself over to Body of Wealth for a bevy of informative C links!

AudreyJM Flickstream

Surprising sources of C that beat the old orange:
– Apples
– Broccoli
– Bell peppers


Be sure to consume enough fat so that vitamins like C absorb completely. A few daily servings – olive oil on your salad, butter with your eggs, or salmon for dinner – really optimize antioxidant absorption!

16 Mar

Sick of Cereal?

Smart Fuel

If you’re sick of cereal, or simply want to follow a healthy diet that is low in sugar and refined grains, you’re in the right place. There are plenty of alternatives to, well, the alternative: eggs, eggs and more eggs.

1. Blueberries ‘n Cream

Why pour processed, sugary low-fat milk over dry little grain flakes when you can pour luscious cream over blueberries bursting with antioxidants and flavor? We think cereal is kind of sad (and the stuff they do to make low-fat milk is pretty unappealing). You’ll love blueberries ‘n cream if you’re getting tired of eggs for breakfast. This high-fiber treat also provides some fat (great for those sensitive morning tummies). Toss in other fruit like strawberries for additional variety.
Brrrring it on!

The Pack Flickr Photo

Prep Tips:

Buy frozen blueberries – they’re inexpensive and actually work better for many recipes, including this one.

Thaw a cup of blueberries overnight in the fridge or pop them into the microwave for about 30 seconds. They’ll be cold, like cereal, but not frozen – who wants a brain freeze at 7 a.m.? Drain them carefully.

Pour about 1 ounce of cream over the fruit – not too much. Cream, while high in nutrients and fat, is also high in calories. We recommend raw or organic cream, of course!

Garnish with a little cinnamon, nutmeg or a few drops of vanilla extract for a delicious breakfast that provides more fiber than cereal, fewer carbs, and just tastes amazing! Be sure to brush your teeth afterwards, or everyone will think you’ve been nursing a blue popsicle addiction.

2. Plain Yogurt Parfait

Look for Greek, Mediterranean or “European style” yogurt. It’s so rich, you’ll think you’ve died and gone to cream cheese heaven. What can we say? We love fat around these here parts. European yogurt has less of the stuff you don’t want (chemicals, additives, sugars) and more of the stuff you do want (rich texture, flavor, and nutrients). Be sure to get the plain, unsweetened kind.

Shutterberry Flickrstream Photo

Prep Tips:

You’ll want to eat just a few tablespoons of this yummy stuff, as it’s really filling. Boost the fat and protein with some fiber by adding a half-cup of any fresh or frozen fruit of your choice.

We like frozen mango chunks (thawed) and fresh raspberries. Elliott and Sara both keep their freezers stocked with all kinds of delicious frozen fruits, so it’s easy to make a healthy breakfast even when you’re in a rush.

Next step: toss a handful of unsalted, high-quality nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, filberts, or walnuts into the mix. This little protein boost will also provide you with a great Omega-3 fatty counterpoint to the saturated fat in the yogurt. And evidence increasingly suggests that it’s the balance of saturated to unsaturated fat that is so important to good health and longevity.

You can go all out and make a true parfait if you want, by layering in a glass cup or dish. But if you don’t have that kind of time in the morning (who does?), simply scoop all the ingredients into your favorite mug or bowl and enjoy!

Need extra calories in the morning? Drizzle your parfait with a tablespoon of honey and a tablespoon of almond or walnut oil for a natural source of carbs and an extra boost of good fat.

3. Tomatoes ‘n Mozzarella

The beloved caprese salad – tomato slices, fresh mozzarella slices, and fresh basil leaves – also makes a really great breakfast.

Yum in the tum!

SpeedM Flickr Photo

Prep Tips:

We suggest leaving out the leaves, as basil can be a little bracing first thing in the morning.

Simply slice up your favorite tomatoes, place slices of fresh mozzarella on top, and garnish with a little olive oil and coarse salt.

Note: since tomatoes aren’t too hot this time of year, you can substitute with avocado or bell pepper slices.

© 2015 Mark's Daily Apple

Subscribe to the Newsletter and Get a Free Copy
of Mark Sisson's Fitness eBook and more!