MEL for DSC Magazine, January 2020

In this month's issue, we're creating a new you for the new year.

Jan20

Mistook your monthly magazine for a pack of One Wipe Charlies and flushed it down the toilet? No worries, here’s the online version!

In this edition:

  1. Time(s) to Clean Up Your Act
  2. Necessity is the Mother of Reinvention
  3. When Does the ‘New You’ Become Just ‘You’?
  4. How Do Animals Adjust to Their New Selves?
  5. Stop Trying So Hard to Have a Hobby
  6. New Year, New Poo
  7. What Year Is It, Anyway?
  8. Why Does Every Kind of Booze Have a Special Glass?
  9. Oh FAQ: How Do I Stay Awake to Celebrate New Year?
  10. Get to Know Your Body: Hair

1 – Time(s) to Clean Up Your Act

David Fox is a supervisor with NYC Sanitation, and having cleaned up Times Square after New Year’s Eve, he knows a thing or two about wiping the slate clean.

It’s a Dirty Job, But…
“Cleaning up Times Square is a big job and it takes a lot of personnel to do it — about 550 people,” explains Fox. “Everyone has their job they specialize in, like the street sweepers and the truck drivers — everyone knows what to do and is prepared. The clean up starts at about 12:30am and the streets are closed starting at 10:30pm to get ready. Overall, the whole thing takes about six hours and then the streets are back clean as if nothing was even there. The work I’ve seen us sanitation workers do on New Year’s is the most amazing thing I’ve seen.”

On Cleaning Up Your Act
“To clean up your act as a person, you need to set your mind on things that will make you better. You can’t have negative thoughts all the time or you won’t go nowhere. Don’t dwell on your circumstances, just know that you can do better and tell yourself that you’re not stuck in this situation. Make a plan and, for me, I ask God to help. I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, because you can make a resolution and not keep it. Instead, you need to figure out your purpose in life — once you have a purpose, you’ll have the mindset to make a change.”


2 – Necessity is the Mother of Reinvention

Some advice from three people who’ve totally reinvented their lives, in one way or another.

Debbie November, who changed careers at age 40: I went to law school because I felt parental pressure. I became a prosecutor, but I got burnt out. After trying some other things, I decided to pursue social work because I had this epiphany: My daughter had had some learning issues and during a meeting with a psychologist, I realized that I’d like to be doing what she was doing. I always wanted to work with families, so I went back for my masters in social work and now I’ve got a private practice. For anyone struggling to decide on a career, I would say to listen to what you want and go for it, no matter where you’re at in life — don’t let outside pressure decide for you.

Joe Davis, who reinvented his look: I’m an actor and I had to get a haircut for a new job. I wasn’t looking for a change, but as soon as I got my hair cut off, I immediately felt better and it’s had this ripple effect. Generally, I always dressed for comfort, but since then I’ve been wearing suit jackets and taking time to look professional, and I’ve noticed that my home and car have gotten cleaner. I had no idea that looking more professional would give me a clearer mindset and greater confidence but it has. I’ve had people tell me, “You look so much better,” and — while I’m not doing it for them — I always reply, “I’m a new man,” because I really feel that way.

Sean Anderson, who lost over 300 pounds: I’d spent 20 years at 500 pounds and I always had the same patterns. I tried every diet out there and it never worked, so on September 15, 2008 I started a blog and a new plan. I didn’t even care if no one read the blog, but I had accountability and that made the difference. I also realized that I had to get rid of that diet mentality. Diets are made to be broken: Instead, I made a lifestyle change. For long-term success, I couldn’t look at this as another diet, so I embraced the idea that consistency beats intensity, and created a plan I could embrace consistently. I couldn’t have the perfect plan on day one, but by being patient and consistent, I was able to make the change.


3 – When Does the ‘New You’ Become Just ‘You’?

Sometimes, the hardest part about starting fresh is waiting for the moment where it all feels normal, and not like a constant struggle.

Two months is the time frame often cited for how long it takes to make a new habit permanent. This number originates from a 2009 study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, which found that, in a pool of 96 people enacting a new habit, it took an average of 66 days for the change to feel normal to them. 

Additionally, the US News reports that most New Year’s Resolutions are dropped by the second week of February, which suggests that if you can make it through February with this new habit, you’re good.

That being said, Sean Anderson, who lost over 300 pounds, explains that in some ways, his new lifestyle — which he’s had for over a decade — still doesn’t quite feel like him, and that the 500 pound version of him still feels more “normal.” Because of this, it takes daily reminders to keep himself in check with his health and body. “It isn’t fear,” he explains, “I just have a healthy respect for what I can become if I lose focus.”

So, the new you make take two months to feel normal, or it may never arrive, but either way, the key is to still commit to the changes and always remind yourself why you made the change to begin with.


4 – How Do Animals Adjust to Their New Selves?

Let’s turn to the animal kingdom for some pointers on getting through the early days of the new-and-improved you.

When Your Spider Sense is Still Tingly…
Once a tarantula has shed its outer skin, it spends several days a soft, pink, nearly defenseless creature. To protect itself, tarantula breeder Chelsea Mann explains that it spends that time in isolation. If they’re threatened, the tarantula may strike a threat pose to scare someone off, but that’s about it. Otherwise, they just wait until they’re strong enough to face the world again.
The Takeaway: Sometimes, a day in bed to get yourself together is fine and necessary.

When It’s Not Easy Being Green…
After a tadpole’s legs emerge, it doesn’t take much to adjust to them, as biology professor Richard Wassersug explains that the undulating movements of a tadpole’s tail prepare a tadpole for its eventual legs. But, when a tadpole has his limbs and has yet to shed his tail, he’s especially vulnerable to predators, as the tail prevents him from hopping and the legs make swimming difficult. To get through this phase, frogs often transform by a riverbank in large groups, finding safety in numbers.
The Takeaway: When you’re feeling vulnerable, talk to your friends.

When You’re Finally Ready…
“It’s all instinct,” explains ‘The Butterfly Guy’ Rick Mikula. Once a caterpillar has transformed into a butterfly and emerges from its chrysalis, it needs no flying lessons or instruction book — it just waits for its wings to dry in the breeze and takes off, just like you’ll do once the new you is ready.
The Takeaway: Trust your gut!


5 – Stop Trying So Hard to Have a Hobby

Unless your new hobby is about reducing your stress, it’s really not worth it.

Perhaps you want to take up skateboarding or bird-watching, but the prospect of learning how to kickflip, or remembering the names of 6,000 species of stupid pigeons, sounds like a daunting task. And that’s fair: While it’s nice to occupy yourself with a hobby, finding a hobby as an adult shouldn’t take too much effort, otherwise it’ll undermine the very point of doing it. 

According to psychologist Jeanette Raymond, “It’s important to redefine what a hobby might mean as you transition from one stage of life to another. As a younger person, it may mean developing an interest in something that’s outside the norm, which offers the opportunity to acquire skills and explore talents.” 

But when you get older and have a million responsibilities, Raymond says, “the notion of hobbies becomes more one of de-stressing. It’s about giving yourself permission to have a break from constant responsibilities and feel a more personal and intimate part of oneself. In this case, a hobby becomes a reward. It gives you a chance to create a space for yourself without guilt or shame, without fear that you’ll be sucked into the ‘hobby’ and become irresponsible.”

In other words, ditch the skateboard and accept that pigeon-voyeuring is for the birds. Instead, embrace your hobby of chilling on the couch and having even just a few minutes to yourself.


6 – New Year, New Poo

Now that it’s 2019, how about getting your, um, poop together? Dr. Sara Celik, ND, drops some knowledge about dropping the kids off at the pool

A Crap a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
“For optimal health, adults need to have at least one bowel movement per day,” says Celik, a Toronto-based naturopathic doctor. “If food isn’t properly eliminated, undigested food left in the intestines can putrefy and become toxic, which can damage cells, tissues and organs over time.” And although Celik says that many people have just three BMs per week without major health issues, less than three is cause for concern.

Alphabet Poop
Besides frequency, healthy poop comes down to color, consistency and shape, so turn your gaze to the toilet bowl: Excellent excrement should be medium-brown, easy to pass and “long, well-formed and soft,” according to Celik. “If you’re straining, you may expel hard, dry, small pellets or irregular-shaped stool, which are signs of constipation. Ideally, stool should be shaped like an S or a C,” she says.

Every Fiber of Your BM
A healthy, fiber-rich diet is also key. “There are two types of fiber — soluble and insoluble — and we need both for regularity,” says Celik, who lists avocados, pears, cooked lentils, prunes and pistachios as the superstars of the soluble/insoluble world. Stay away from refined carbs, sugary foods and fried foods, which “can gum you up,” adds Celik. Also, drink plenty of water to keep dry, hard, painful poops at bay. Bottoms up!


7 – What Year Is It, Anyway?

Sure, it may be 2020 in most of the world, but not everyone adheres to the same calendar, so here are just a few countries where things are a bit different.

China
The traditional Chinese calendar is lunisolar, which means it adheres to the phases of the moon, causing Chinese New Year dates to vary. It’s also a good deal older than our calendar (AKA the Gregorian Calendar) as China will be ringing in the year 4718 in late January.

Thailand
While Thailand celebrates the New Year on January first, it won’t be 2020 there, it’ll be 2563, as they follow the Buddhist Calendar, which began when Buddha achieved Nirvana in 543 BC (by our calendar).

Ethiopia
In Ethiopia, the new year won’t happen until September 11, and it won’t be 2020, it’ll be 2012. The difference is owed to how the Catholic Church there calculates when Jesus was born.

Israel
On the Hebrew Calendar, Rosh Hashanah will be celebrated starting on September 18, 2020, at which point it will become 5780. This calendar’s also lunisolar, which is why Jewish holidays occur on different dates each year.

Pakistan
Several Muslim countries follow the Islamic Calendar, which began in 622 AD, when Muhammad emigrated to Medina. On August 19, it will become the year 1442.

And That Ain’t All
There are several more countries which adhere to different calendars, and some have several within the same country. In other words, pretty much every day is New Year’s somewhere, though good luck trying to get all those days off work.


8 – Why Does Every Kind of Booze Have a Special Glass?

You may be content to drink everything out of a red plastic cup on New Year’s, but there’s a good reason why each type of alcohol has its own glass (usually).

Whiskey
Those stout glasses are designed to accommodate ice. Traditionally, whiskey shouldn’t be watered down, so to enjoy it with a chill, it helps to have a wide glass with one huge cube, “as bigger ice melts slower,” explains Adam Teeter, co-founder and CEO of VinePair, a media company about wine, beer and spirits.

Wine
“If someone is holding a wine glass by the bowl, they’re doing it wrong,” says Teeter. As wine is usually best served cool, the stem is there to hold the glass and not pass the warmth of your hand to the drink. Some companies try to sell different glasses for different wines — saying that such-and-such is good for a riesling, etc. — but Teeter says that’s all marketing.

Beer
Things like mugs and pint glasses are often used simply because of tradition, as well as the simplicity of storing and cleaning them. But really, a tulip-shaped teku glass is ideal for beer, as the shape concentrates the smell of the beer at the top, enhancing the taste.

Champagne
“Champagne flutes are only used so you can see the bubbles, as good champagne should be constantly bubbling,” Teeter says. Since that one isn’t enhancing the taste in any way, feel free to down that stuff straight from the bottle — assuming your host doesn’t mind.


9 – Oh FAQ: How Do I Stay Awake to Celebrate New Year?

Exhausted as hell but still want to ring in the new year at midnight? Follow this advice from “The Sleep Doctor” Michael Breus.

Step #1: Of course, drinking some caffeine or guarana — which is found in energy drinks — will help, as they block the sleep hormone adenosine.

Step #2: If you’re sitting, get up every 15 and do a lap around the room — these may need to get more frequent the more tired you get.

Step #3: Find ways to engage your mind by playing games and other mental activities, as passive TV-watching will likely send you right to sleep.

Step #4: Head to your bathroom and stare at the lights for about 15 minutes — this will turn off the flow of melatonin, which is putting you to sleep.

Step #5: Minimize snacks with carbs and sugar, as they create the comfort hormone serotonin — go for high-protein snacks instead.

Step #6: Finally, skipping alcohol will help keep you up, but it is New Year’s Eve, so maybe give this one a miss.


10 – Get to Know Your Body: Hair

Take a top-down approach to creating the new you by starting with a bit of info on your hair — that part of your body that’s constantly rejuvenating itself.

Hair We Go
The average number of head hairs is 120,000, with blondes averaging a bit more and redheads a bit less. It’s also your second fastest growing tissue, just behind bone marrow.

Hair We Go Again
Hair can grow just about anywhere except for the soles of your feet and your palms, lips, eyelids and mucous membranes. It’s made up of keratin, which is also found in your skin and nails. All the hair you can see on the surface is dead, though that’s hardly an excuse for not combing it.

Right Hair, Right Now
Hair is 50 percent carbon, 21 percent oxygen, 17 percent nitrogen, 6 percent hydrogen, and 5 percent sulphur. It also tends to reveal what’s present in a person’s bloodstream, including things like medicines, vitamins and even alcohol. So, if you get loaded this New Year’s Eve, so will your hair.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
The genes associated with male pattern baldness originated in Europe or the Middle East sometime within the past 40,000 years. But, as urologist Charles Ryan explains, you likely wouldn’t have found many bald cavemen, as “these people were dying of infections and trauma in their 20s, so they didn’t live to the ripe old age of 45.” So, we guess, losing your hair isn’t the worst thing in the world.


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