Shut Up, I’m Trying to Concentrate! (Revised Repost)

I-like-the-sound-you-make-when-you-shut-up

There are times when I need absolute silence in order to concentrate. Since I spend a lot of time at home writing, I deal with the constant challenges of coming up with new material, and allowing the creative process of writing to develop. Perhaps the most distracting thing I face when I am trying to focus is NOISE. Whether the noise is from people talking to each other, exercise equipment banging against the floor, car horns blaring, cats playing, doors opening or closing, or people constantly trying to talk to me, any noise except music will get me to the point where I get close to losing it. I am well aware of the fact that I suffer from misophonia, and have dealt with it since med school days, when I had to wear earbuds whenever I sat for exams.

I recently read that a group of psychologists at Northwestern University discovered that highly creative people tend to be more sensitive to noise than the average person. I digested this information with relish, since I certainly hope the fact that I can be easily annoyed by noise when I am in a creative mode is indicative of creative genius, or at least something close! The assertion that creative types are more easily distracted by noise is demonstrated by great novelists like Proust, who apparently would sequester himself in his small apartment, donning earplugs and drawing the blinds while he wrote.

Cat shutting dog up

Basically, I think the general rule of thumb should be that if someone tells you to pipe down, and the person is clearly trying to focus, then SHUT UP!

Skipping Meals Does NOT Work For Weight Loss

skipping-meals

Yes, you read that title correctly. If you have been on one diet after another in an effort to try to lose those last 5, 10, 15, or however many pounds, perhaps losing some weight only to gain all of it back plus some bonus weight, then it is highly likely that you have damaged your metabolism via severe calorie restriction. There is a very good reason why the weight loss industry is so successful and why certain well-known weight loss programs keep their customers coming back. The reason has everything to do with severe caloric restriction which squashes metabolism.

Another common practice among those trying to lose weight is to skip meals in an effort to cut calories. As stated before, you wreak havoc on your metabolism when you skip meals by causing it to slow down. Why does this happen? When there is no food to break down, the body’s furnace slows down and becomes so sluggish that when you actually do eat something, your body is less equipped to break down the food quickly, so much of it is stored as fat. Depriving yourself of food also causes sharp drops in blood sugar, robbing you of energy and increasing insulin resistance. Increased insulin resistance over time can precipitate the development of diabetes.

Other consequences of skipping meals include the following:

• Malnutrition – If you do not feed your body regular, balanced meals, it is highly likely that you are depriving it of essential nutrients. Malnourished states can lead to weight gain, poor health and progression of disease over time.

• Poor concentration – This is due to the depletion of glycogen stores which occurs. The brain simply does not have enough fuel to run on, resulting in fogginess.

• Hunger pangs – When you skip meals, you may experience intense feelings of hunger along with anxiety, dizziness or nausea. In addition, such feeling may lead to overeating when you finally sit down to eat something. Loading the body with a large meal is overkill, and leads to poor digestion and absorption as well as increased storage in body fat stores.

Do yourself a favor and practice the following guidelines. If you do, you will be rewarded with a healthy weight for a lifetime.

1. Don’t skip meals.
2. Make sure to eat enough protein to sustain your energy levels and satisfy your hunger.
3. EAT BREAKFAST.
4. Commit to healthy meals.
5. When you turn to snacks, make sure healthy alternatives are available so you aren’t tempted to reach for a nutrient-poor convenience food.

Shut Up, I’m Trying To Concentrate!

I-like-the-sound-you-make-when-you-shut-up

There are times when I need absolute silence in order to concentrate. Now that I write content almost daily, I deal with the constant challenges of coming up with new material, and allowing the creative process of writing to develop. Perhaps the most distracting thing I face when I am trying to focus is NOISE. Whether the noise is from people talking to each other, exercise equipment banging against the floor, car horns blaring, cats playing, doors opening or closing, or people constantly trying to talk to me, any noise except music (which I listen to through earbuds) will get me to the point where I get close to losing it.

I recently read that a group of psychologists at Northwestern University discovered that highly creative people tend to be more sensitive to noise than the average person. I digested this information with relish, since I certainly hope the fact that I can be easily annoyed by noise when I am in a creative mode is indicative of creative genius, or at least something close! The assertion that creative types are more easily distracted by noise is demonstrated by great novelists like Proust, who apparently would sequester himself in his small apartment, donning earplugs and drawing the blinds while he wrote.

Cat shutting dog up

Basically, I think the general rule of thumb should be that if someone tells you to pipe down, and the person is clearly trying to focus, then SHUT UP!

My TV Is More Like A Radio

TV
Though I usually have the living room television turned on while I am at home, I rarely glance at the screen, so it functions more like a radio, providing background noise while I work. One of my roommates likes to turn the channel to the Cartoon Network, so the audio is usually quite lively when he is home. He has the same habit I do, in which he turns on the TV for background noise but doesn’t actively watch it. Before you assume that it is a crappy old TV, let me clarify that it is a 47 inch LED TV, the screen size of which I lamented for no good reason since I rarely actually watch programs or movies on TV. I recently stated that with the rather large living room we have, it would make more sense to have a 65 or 70 inch TV (which I am nowhere near being able to afford), but I seriously doubt that a larger set would inspire more active viewing. That would be a pretty massive and expensive radio!

Even right now as I sit on the living room floor with my laptop on the coffee table (this is what I normally do despite the fact that I have a huge and very comfortable leather sectional sofa), the TV is on, dialed into the Cartoon Network, with American Dad airing and the sounds of cartoon voices at a low volume. Every ten minutes or so, I look at the screen briefly, to rest my eyes from staring at the computer. When my roommate isn’t home and I turn on the television, I usually do a bit of channel surfing to find something that isn’t too loud or annoying. I have been more drawn to tattoo shows lately for some weird reason, maybe because the bleeped out profanity captures my attention while I am writing. There is a certain comfort I get from sitting in the living room with the TV on as opposed to sitting in complete silence, which explains why I almost automatically turn on the TV before I begin working.

Does anyone else have this habit?

Clean Body, Clean Mind?

brain fogI am a huge proponent of eating clean year-round and practice it pretty faithfully. On the rare occasions when I have slipped a bit, I have noticed that my concentration, energy level and sense of well being take a major nosedive. I can actually feel my body winding down and my mental clarity sinking into a fog that makes it difficult to power through my to-do list.

Our bodies are machines, and like any machine, optimal fuel can make a huge difference in performance. Why fill your tank with junk foods when you can fill it with nutritious food options? I am willing to bet that you have felt very different when you have eaten a clean meal such as a skinless chicken breast, steamed vegetables and brown rice, versus a meal of fried chicken, coleslaw and mashed potatoes. Concentration and mental clarity diminish when fast food and junk food are consumed.

Skin-Power-Of-Selenium-Nutrient

Another important consideration with nutrient-poor foods is that they tend to be low in selenium, an important mineral and potent antioxidant. Signs of selenium deficiency include fatigue, poor concentration, and low immunity. However, if you consume more whole food sources, incorporating selenium rich foods like grass fed beef, free range chicken, shrimp, salmon, tuna, halibut, oats, brown rice, broccoli, asparagus, spinach or Brazil nuts, you can successfully fend off selenium deficiency.

You can also optimize brain function by making sure to eat regular, small meals throughout the day, instead of adopting a “feast or famine” approach in which you skip meals and then pig out on a large and unhealthy meal towards the end of the day. Small, frequent meals keep your metabolism at a steady hum and provide fuel and nutrients for cellular repair and essential bodily functions and activities. When protein is consumed, levels of tyrosine increase in the brain, which leads to the formation of norepinephrine and dopamine, both of which promote alertness and activity. The brain also uses glucose exclusively as a fuel source and cannot store it, so it relies on a constant supply from the bloodstream. When you skip meals, blood glucose levels can drop to precipitously low levels, compromising the fuel supply to your noggin, resulting in the familiar “brain fog” that creeps up.

If you haven’t begun eating clean, I strongly suggest that you do so in order to maximize body and brain function. You have only one body, so take care of it!