October 2019 – Health Update

Each month I provide an update on my progress to bettering health and happiness. This includes challenging my brain in scored games, expanding my knowledge through books, reviewing the latest research articles and watching creative, idea-worthy talks.

Brain Games

Even though I’ve only been able to complete my brain game exercises about 50% of the days this month, I’m back on track with increased scores in all apps. I also hit a goal I set a few months back of having a Lumosity LPI over 1800, being categorized as Elite in all Elevate levels, and reaching 800 as my Peak Brain Score! This has been cool as it’s unlocked harder levels to games I’ve been playing. This should help challenge my brain even more and help me keep improving.

I’ve also become interested in exploring other brain training applications like BrainHQ which is used and sponsored by Tom Brady. This might be a new app I start incorporating into the mix within the next few months. As always, it’s important to constantly be looking for new ways to challenge yourself mentally if you want to keep growing. If you’re using these apps too, feel free to drop your results in the comment section below!

Brain Workouts: 16 out of 30 days
Lumosity LPI: 1802 (+7 since September)
Elevate Average: 4441 (+12 since September)
Peak Brain Score: 812 (+12 since September)

Book of the Month

This month I read How To Be Better At (Almost) Everything by Pat Flynn. The book evolves around a concept called generalism. Generalism means you develop a number of different, unique skills and combine them to create a skill stack. This is the opposite of traditional specialization. For example, Matt D’Avella would likely be considered a generalist. He has wide ranging skills from capturing and editing video, to creating podcasts, to marketing and advertising, and a number of other skills. These broad set of skills allow him to run a successful YouTube channel, Podcast, and professional career. An example of the opposite of this could be an airline pilot. A pilot specializes in flying aircrafts. That skill set is unique but narrow and likely wouldn’t translate well into another job or position.

The author argues that we should focus our efforts on developing a number of different skills that can be combined together to create a skill stack rather than specialize. His argument is that: 1) It’s much harder to be successful in a specialized field because a lot of the end-result is based upon outside factors (who you know, how you’re brought up, natural talent, physical limitations, and competitive market). 2) Your skills can be mostly irrelevant if the market demand changes. For example, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, many pilots were laid off because flying demand decreased. Many pilots found it hard to find another job due to their unique skill set. Because of these main two reasons, we should try to develop a number of skills that can be combined together in a unique way to increase our value. Or in other words, become a generalist.

I found this book to be pretty interesting and relatable. Within my profession of Information Technology, I’ve always tried to develop my skills in all areas of IT so that I could have a job in software development, networking, cloud computing, or management depending on how the IT market changes. I’ve also started this blog to work on my writing, marketing, and story-telling skills. So, I very much agree with Pat Flynn on the main concepts of the book and enjoyed reading it. If you’re interested in learning how to create a skill stack through generalism, I recommend grabbing his book here.

LIIFT4

I just completed an 8-week program called LIIFT4 by BeachBody. This program contains four exercise days a week (Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri) and each exercise day works a different set of muscles (Chest/Triceps, Back/Biceps, Shoulders, Legs). Each exercise day not only focuses on a specific set of muscles, but also includes cardio through High-Intensity Interval Training and core/abdominal work. I found this program to be pretty awesome and my favorite BeachBody program so far. I like that it incorporates weight training, body-weight work, cardio and core all in one workout. It also provides three rest days a week where I would focus on my recovery routines (foam rolling, stretching, and joint mobility). I found that I saw pretty good results in muscle development too. I really need to start taking before and after pictures, measurements, and more to really track my results. Next time! I might go through this program again soon and I’ll make sure to capture these items.

Side Note: I forgot to mention that I just completed this program while only using dumbbells 15lbs and under. Since I just received new adjustable dumbbells that go all the way up to 50lbs, I’m super excited to see how much better my results will be the second time around!

Chocolate Chip Breakfast Squares To-Go

I’ve recently made these breakfast bars, shown below, a few times within the past week. I love them because they’re fairly simple to make, pretty healthy, easy to travel with, and taste delicious. I even brought in a batch of these to our Halloween lunch at work and everyone seemed to enjoy them. Below, is the recipe and directions I used for my batch. Try them out and let me know what you think in the comments below!

Ingredients:

  • 4 Cups Quick Oats
  • 3 Mashed Bananas
  • 3/4 Cup Water
  • 1/2 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips
  • 1/4 Cup Peanut Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Cashews
  • 2 Tsp Pure Vanilla Extract

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9×13 pan with parchment. In a large bowl, stir all ingredients until well-mixed. Smooth into the pan. Sprinkle additional chocolate chips on top if desired. Bake on the center rack 28 minutes, then do not open the oven door but turn off the heat and let sit in the closed oven an additional 20 minutes. Slice into bars or squares. Leftovers can be refrigerated 3-4 days, or freeze the bars to have on hand any time you need an instant healthy breakfast you can take on the go!

Source: Chocolate Chip Breakfast Squares To-Go

Recent Health Studies

Lastly, I just wanted to cover any studies or articles that have been published within the past month to keep everyone up-to-date on news relating to health and happiness.

  • Marijuana May Not Be So Effective For Mental Health Issues, Study Finds
    My stance on substances and most medicine is similar. They tend to provide a short term fix for a long term problem. As I covered in my recent article, CBD, Impossible Burgers and The Keto Diet, consumption of marijuana or CBD has very few proven benefits. And the long term effects (increased risk of psychosis, depression, memory loss, etc.) far outweigh any short term effects. This new study above helps confirm my beliefs. If you’re looking to resolve mental health issues for good, I recommend focusing on many other areas of your life covered in this blog (Fitness, Nutrition, Sleep, Cognitive Health, Financial Independence and Minimalism).
  • Deep Sleep Gives Your Brain a Deep Clean
    In a study published on October 31st in Science, a group of researchers helped confirm some benefits of sleep. What happens when you sleep, is that your brain will perform “maintenance” by flushing toxic waste. By flushing this waste, your brain can transfer recent memories to long-term storage and create space for new ones to be created. Just another study on why sleep is so important and why you should always get 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
  • Children who do puzzles ‘reduce risk of dementia in later life’
    This recent study revealed that “childhood cognitive ability was strongly associated with cognitive scores . . . more than 60 years later”. It shows why we should be spending time everyday to stimulate or activate our brain. This is why I recommend and try to do brain games everyday.
  • It’s time to talk about the mental health effects of student loan debt
    I cover personal finance and financial independence topics a lot on this blog because I know how much of an effect they can have on your health and happiness. This recent article talks about the tolls student loan debt can have on your mental health. So, if you’re struggling with debt, I recommend you read a couple of my recent posts (Step 3: Pay Off High Interest Rate Debt Fast, Step 7: Strive to be Debt-Free) to help alleviate the burdens of debt.

Final Thoughts

I decided to combine my monthly Physical and Cognitive Health Update posts into one general health update. This allows me to share all my recent healthy efforts and health related research in one spot every month. So, if you’re looking for updates on all the latest ways I’ve been attempting to improve my health and happiness, then I hope this post has accomplished that goal.

This month I touched on my progress in brain games and reading for cognitive health, a lifting program I completed for physical health, a new snack I’ve been consuming for nutritional health, and numerous studies relating to sleep, finances and mental health. I’ve attempted to cover all the core components I consider necessary to live a happy and healthy life. I hope I was able to provide you with at least one new idea to help you live happier and healthier too!

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Hey, I am Brandon Zerbe

Welcome to myHealthSciences! My goal has always been to increase quality-of-life with healthy habits that are sustainable, efficient and effective. I do this by covering topics like Cognitive Health, Fitness, Nutrition, Sleep, Financial Independence and Minimalism. You can read more about me here.


Disclosure: I frequently review or recommend products and services that I own and use. If you buy these products or services using the links on this site, I receive a small referral commission. This doesn’t impact my review or recommendation.

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