Channel 4’s Supersize vs Superskinny is back on the telly. The long-running health show, which challenges two ‘extreme eaters’ to swap diets for a week, used to be my TV-watching guilty pleasure. Previous series’ were known for the infamous ‘feeding tube’ – a huge Perspex cylinder into which a week’s worth of food is emptied. It was a startling and vulgar visual representation of how much (and how little) some people can eat. And while Supersize vs Superskinny has been widely criticised for trivialising serious eating issues, it nevertheless reveals just how topsy-turvy attitudes to food have become. We now live in a world of extremes – and extreme times call for extreme weight loss diets. Continue reading
It’s dinner time and the log fire is burning. My wife and I sitting in a pub on a rainy day and we are eyeing the menus – the seafood looks nice. Yes, this is the stuff of an English holiday by the sea: sitting on wooden chairs near an open fire with harassed-looking bar staff in one corner and a gambling machine in the other.
A family dressed in matching waterproof coats – clearly also on their holiday – take seats next to us. That’s odd, I think, there’s none of the usual sibling squabbling between the kids. No, this family is calm and contented because two of the school age kids are on their smartphones. And so are both the parents. Meanwhile, the six year old is playing on a Gameboy.
It’s now officially Games Over. Gone is the excuse to bunk off work to catch five minutes of of dressage or synchronised swimming. And as our love affair ends, normal life must resume. The real challenge now begins: to stay true to those keep-fit resolutions.
One of the tricks to stay motivated may be, quite literally, music to your ears. ‘Music has received very little attention among sports scholars’ wrote one author in 1993 in the Sociology of Sport Journal. Since then, much has changed. Long distance champ Paula Radcliff swears that her playlist during training – insisting it helps to keep her going. Yet Usain Bolt is denied such an indulgence.
Taking a perusal trough the latest research, we’ll explore what is known about the power of music to get you fired up and heading down the gym. Even when The X-Factor is on… Continue reading
Although I can rarely follow my employer’s ‘good ICT policy’ – fastidiously filing every email into a named subfolder (I never know where to put ‘Today’s Lunch Offer’), most days I click each email just long enough for it to be marked as ‘read’. Few of my colleagues manage this. I guess working part-time has some benefits.
Relentless work emails and calendar invitations that materialise from the electronic ether is the norm for many. This incessant distraction is a drain and – it doesn’t take a genius to figure out – probably drains productivity. The phone is dead: the majority of interactions are now done digitally. Could we sever our digital ties and survive at work without the emails? One group of workers did just that – for one week they went without emails. Researchers watched what they did and remotely monitored their stress levels. How did they cope? Surprisingly well… Continue reading
It is said that during our twenties we spend our time worrying about what other people think . In our thirties, we blame our parents for all our problems. In our forties, we finally realise that no one was really paying us that much attention and all our issues aren’t our parent’s fault after all.
Not so very long ago, a certain Sir Michael rather publically lamented today’s teachers – accusing them of being a group of whinging bums (I paraphrase). One commenter wondered whether it was just his age getting the better of him. She questioned whether there is any research about age-related ‘grumpiness’. In today’s post, you will find out whether there really is any truth to the “grumpy old codger” stereotype – and whether we are all destined to get grumpy as we get old… Continue reading
Science can be great for answering life’s little questions – you know, the sort of thing you ponder whilst sitting on the toilet or waiting for the number 49 bus. Does chewing gum take seven years to digest? No. Will eating bread crusts make your hair curl? You should be so lucky. Will eating an apple a day keep the doctor away? Probably not, but it might do you some good. Once in a while, there’s a question that is a bit harder to prove one way or the other.
Take celery. I was recently asked whether eating it caused you to lose weight. Sounds crazy, but the logic behind it is half plausible. It goes something like this: Celery has hardly any calories in it (6 calories per stalk) and the process of digesting food burns energy. Because celery is quite a bulky, fibrous plant it’s going to take a lot of chewing and digesting. Surely that’s more than those meager six calories? If true – eating celery will help you loose weight.
After a bit of digging into the scientific literature, I think I may be able to resolve the negative calorie food debate once and for all… Continue reading
Forget twitter, Facebook and social networking. If you want real followers – the physical ones – just get yourself a roll of yellow labels. Come early evening when supermarkets start reducing short-dated produce, a rabble of anxious-looking shoppers will invariably tail staff members as they mark down food. It seems many of us are ravenous for bargains in this age of austerity.
If you’re someone who loves snapping up deals – take some advice: avoid the high street on a sunny day. Blue skies are great for lifting the mood, but as recent research shows – it also impairs your ability to spot a shrewd bargain… Continue reading
Freud told us that dreams are the ‘royal road to the unconscious’. Many religions say that dreams are a way to hear from a higher power. But how many of us in today’s secular culture actually believe that? More than you might expect.
If you thought most people ignored their dreams – you would be wrong. Imagine that you were warned of an impending disaster – what would it take to make you do something? What if you dreamt last night that something terrible was going to happen today? As irrational as it sounds, most of us, it seems, value our night-time ruminations much more than our waking ones… Continue reading
The dreaded hangover – headaches, fatigue and nausea are normal Sunday morning sensations for many a Saturday night reveller. Dehydration is frequently said to be the reason for hangover symptoms – and some swear that a pint of tap water before bed thwarts any alcohol-induced ill-effects. But given the amount of fluid drunk during a night on the town, it sounds like quite an odd idea.
So just how dehydrating is alcohol – and can lack of water really explain a hangover? The data is difficult to find: no-one seems very interested in researching hangovers these days. It’s therefore time to blow the digital dust of a seventy year-old research paper to find an answer… Continue reading
Picking shades with proper UV protection is an absolute must. Wearing poor quality sunglasses could be doing you much more harm than good. But if you thought that splashing out on expensive sunglasses would save your vision, then you’d be wrong. Today’s blog shines some light on the darker side of being out in the sun (with some images that aren’t for the faint-hearted)… Continue reading