Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Give Your Brain & Heart a Boost on World Chocolate Day

To prepare for this post, I ate a couple of Snickers Minis.

Cheerful woman eating chocolate © Can Stock Photo konradbakToday is World Chocolate Day. Chocolate is good for the heart and brain, studies show, so if you have been avoiding it to slim down you just may have a stupid heart attack. It also reduces stress in women, which is why chocolate is a popular and heartwarming Valentine’s Day gift.

Forget why you walked into a room? Drink a cup or two of hot chocolate.  Harvard Medical School scientists found that drinking two cups of hot chocolate a day reduces memory decline in old folks. It apparently increases blood flow to the brain for two to three hours. But you don’t have to be a geezer to enjoy the benefits. Flavonoids in chocolate have been shown to increase brain power in youngin’s too.

A study conducted in Denmark found consumption of dark chocolate results in a significantly lower risk of being diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, a dangerous type of irregular heartbeat. The study didn’t say you wouldn’t develop it, only that you won’t be diagnosed with it. Ignorance is bliss, right?

Speaking of bliss, chocolate also is associated with increased endorphins, that feel-good brain chemical. It triggers a neurotransmitter similar to consuming marijuana. A legal high in all states! (Keep this quiet though so the government doesn’t feel a need to regulate or outlaw it.) Chocolate is so powerful that its buzz lasts longer than the most passionate kiss, according to one study.

Which doesn’t mean chocolate will slow you down in bed. The compound theobromine in chocolate is thought to make it a mild aphrodisiac.

Chocolate also contains a substantial amount of magnesium, which reduces stress by suppressing the release of the stress hormone cortisol.

So stop stressing about eating chocolate and instead embrace its benefits to your brain and heart. Give it to a lover and you just may get lucky tonight. World Chocolate Day: Valentine’s Day in July.

Resources:

Sunni, Ahmed Al, and Rabia Latif. “Effects of chocolate intake on Perceived Stress; a Controlled Clinical Study.” International Journal of Health Sciences. October 2014. Accessed July 07, 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4350893/.

Alban, Deane. “9 Brain Boosting Benefits of Dark Chocolate.” Be Brain Fit. June 19, 2017. Accessed July 07, 2017. https://bebrainfit.com/brain-benefits-dark-chocolate/.

“Health | Chocolate ‘better than kissing’.” BBC News. April 16, 2007. Accessed July 07, 2017. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/6558775.stm.

Nordqvist, Joseph. “Chocolate: Health Benefits, Facts, and Research.” Medical News Today. June 1, 2016. Accessed July 07, 2017. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270272.php.

“Study strengthens case for heart benefit in chocolate.” Harvard Gazette. June 26, 2017. Accessed July 07, 2017. http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/06/study-strengthens-case-for-heart-benefit-in-chocolate/.

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Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications and author of Write It, Speak It: Writing a Speech They’ll APPLAUD! Reach him at Tom@YourConsistentVoice.com.

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Complete Your Goals by Jan. 1 and Your Resolutions Are Complete

The blogosphere is inundated right now with “How to Keep Your Resolutions” tutorials and “10 Easy Goal-setting Tips,” so I won’t bore you with yet another.

White 2016 hanging by stings on a blue backgroundInstead, let’s celebrate Jan. 1 as the day of firsts. Anyone remember the first time Jan. 1 was celebrated as the New Year? They say if you remember, you weren’t really there. Who remembers the first bowling match recorded in the United States? It happened on a Jan. 1. Or the first public baths opening in the United States, which also happened on a Jan. 1?

Each of these were goals set by someone and were met on the first day of the year. Imagine accomplishing your goals on Jan. 1. You would have another 364 days before you had to do anything else!

Julius Caesar and his Roman legions were the first to peg New Year’s celebrations on Jan. 1. (See, I told you you weren’t really there.) Prior to 45 B.C., when the Julian calendar went into effect, calendars were created along the lunatic theory. The universe doesn’t adhere to human math, however. With a lunar month taking 29.53059 days—or 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 2.8 seconds—many adjustments had to be made to keep the calendar in check with the seasons. So Caesar decided to simplify things and devise a calendar on the solar year. The solar year also doesn’t conform to human time-keeping, so every four years another day had to be added to make up for the calculated 365¼ days a solar year contains.

Unfortunately for Caesar, the solar year isn’t 365¼ days, it’s 365.242199 days. By the 16th century, the calendar was all out of whack again. So Pope Gregory XIII commissioned a new calendar—the Gregorian calendar—to put us back on celestial track. It was implemented in 1582 and eliminates three of four centennial leap years to make up for the 11 minutes lost each year by universal design.

Bowling also had its ups and downs during the centuries. Bowling is said to have originated in Germany in 300 A.D. as a sin-absolving ritual. But then it became so addictive and so sinful on its own that English Kings Edward III and Henry VIII had to ban the sport to keep their subjects focused on the tasks at hand.

A year after the first recorded bowling match at New York’s Knickerbockers on Jan. 1, 1840, several U.S states also banned the sport due to gambling and racketeering. At that time, the sport sported nine pins. Our now familiar 10-pin game was instituted to circumvent those state laws. You gotta love American ingenuity.

There are no laws requiring one to take a bath, something I repeatedly tried to educate my mom on as a boy. Concerned that the poor refuse were stinking up the place, and convinced that cleanliness was as much a moral issue as a health issue, do-gooders made several attempts to open public bathhouses throughout the 19th century. On Jan. 1, 1852, the first public bathhouse reportedly opened in New York City. Unfortunately, it was a washout and the first successful U.S. bathhouse didn’t open until 1891, also in New York City.

Which brings us to Jan. 1, 2016. To celebrate this auspicious day, I will eat a Caesar salad, bellow out some Gregorian chants, bowl some gutter balls, and perhaps bathe. My goals complete, I will sleep until 2017.

Happy New Year!

Sources:

January 1 Events in History. Accessed December 31, 2015. http://www.brainyhistory.com/days/january_1.html.

Crockett, Zachary. “The Rise and Fall of Professional Bowling.” Priceonomics. March 21, 2014. Accessed December 31, 2015. http://priceonomics.com/the-rise-and-fall-of-professional-bowling/.

“Exactly How Long Is a Lunar month?” Old Farmer’s Almanac. Accessed December 31, 2015. http://www.almanac.com/fact/exactly-how-long-is-a-lunar-monthr.

Glassberg, David. “The Public Bath Movement in America.” Journals@KU. Accessed December 31, 2015. https://journals.ku.edu/index.php/amerstud/article/viewFile/2244/2203.

“New Year’s Day.” History.com. Accessed December 31, 2015. http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/new-years-day.


Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications. Reach him at Tom@YourConsistentVoice.com.

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