Intellectual Wellness: Idk? Google It!

I have had this article from the New York Times sitting in my “Blog Post Ideas” bookmark for at least a month (check that, just over a month, it was published on January 14). I have ermed and ummed about writing this blog post because what I’m going to write about, I’m just as guilty of…

How many times have we relied on google for the answers? (Or even worse asking people on facebook a question you could easily just google yourself). We take the first couple of hits and get our answers and move on with life. The problem with taking goggle results at face value is that, well, they are often wrong or don’t contain the entire answer. It’s important to do further research. If you have ever read scientific research, just take a look at the reference section. Good solid research has a crap ton of references. And then look at the intro and then take a peak at the section between the abstract and the methods section. Allllllllllllllllllll of that stuff is reviewing all the previous research (and you know, establishing purpose and reason for the current research).

Here’s the deal. Use google. But make sure you look up a few different sources and that you are doing a little thing called fact checking.

Physical Wellness: How Does Your Body Dictate Your View on Exercise?

Survey says, according to this New York Times article…yes! And this is seriously a fascinating research study and a fairly quick read. If you have 5 extra minutes, take the time and read through this short article.

At the core of the NYT article is this, people who aren’t active tend to feel like if they exercise, they are going to embarrass themselves and so they tend to not engage in these activities. BUT that doesn’t mean that’s the end all be all. Because in this day and age, there are a million and one ways to workout, some including staying within the comfort of your own home away from the judgmental eyes and thoughts of others. There are DVD workouts, youtube workouts, workouts you can do WHILE watching your favorite show. You can turn all those ridiculous, obnoxious, horrible drinking games you played in college into workouts but instead of you drink, you do a burpee. Or 10. You can reward yourself for working out. I have a friend who put a dollar in a jar each time she went to crossfit last year. When the year was over, she counted up her dolla dolla bills and had $115! That’s enough to buy a new pair of good workout/running shoes, or new workout clothes. And now she has a number to beat for this year. If you need more instant gratification you could check your dollar bill collection at the end of the month and buy new workout gear then.

The bottom line is that you don’t have to be an Olympic caliber athlete to workout. You don’t even have to do traditional workouts. If you hate running more than anything in this world, then don’t do it. Because it is going to make you hate your workouts and dread them and give you a reason to not do them. If you love having a dance party in your room, blast some upbeat tunes and do it ala Ally McBeal. But get active. Get moving. Get doing something. And when you start feeling comfortable with that, do something different. This study states that most people (in the study) didn’t exercise or engage in physical activity because they thought it would end in embarrassment. Everyone gets embarrassed. Everyone messes up. Olympic athletes mess up. Everyone trips everyone accidentally forgets how to breathe when they are swimming. Because we are all human. And if we would spend a little less time judging or making fun of people who are being active and little more time cheering them on and applauding their efforts, we wouldn’t feel so scared to be embarrassed. Eric and I actually have a competition when we are driving around to see who can say good job to people being active. We might be in a car but without fail, every time we see someone running or walking or just being active we say, “Good job runner!” Even people you don’t know, support them in wanting to be fit and active. And when they do inevitable embarrass themselves, don’t you dare mock them or make fun of them. You keep supporting them. Because damnit, they deserve it because THEY are making the effort and doing the work.

Well that turned into a rant rather quickly…

Share in the comments your favorite non traditional workout! I’m not going to lie, I love busting out my inner Ally McBeal and having a crazy dance party!

Intellectual Wellness: Vanessa Gets Nerdy.

Last night when I was talking to das boy about my crappy day that I had, I had a bit of an inspirational thought. I have decided to do a bit of research. On myself. Say whaaaaat? Yeah, I’m going to track my mood. And days that I walk into work. My hypothesis is that overall I will have a better day on days that I walk into work. Other variables that I am considering tracking are hours of daylight, doing different exercises in the morning (because on days that I swim, I won’t walk into work during the winter-so can I substitute in doing yoga or pilates in the morning and get the same result?). Right now I don’t have my measures of definitions operationalized…and there are some confounds with this experiment (specifically because it isn’t a blind experiment at all…le sigh). I also need to determine when I am going to measure/evaluate my mood to make sure that I consistently evaluate mood at the same time everyday. I really want to run this experiment for a year and see what I find. 

This is where I get nerdy. Because I’m sure I could look up research on exactly what I am proposing and find the data, but I want to know specifically for me-not for the purpose or sake of research. This isn’t for that. This is for me gaining a better understanding of me. And this is my favorite way-by doing research. I’m a research person. I like the data. Obviously the results won’t hold true for every situation, that’s the human factor in there. But in general, this will give me an insight to me. 

If you are interested in my progress with this research, I can do posts every couple of months and update you on what I have found thus far. 

Do you ever have the urge to run data on yourself? Not for publication purposes but just for better understanding of yourself? Or is that just me…

Occupational Wellness: Are Your Expectations Accurate?

I’m going to take a second and just do a quick pat on my back for multiple reasons, one being that I got the September Gallup Business Journal email yesterday and I’m already doing a post on it, Good work Vanessa, good work! 

There are a couple of interesting articles in this month’s newsletter, but one that caught my eye immediately is by Susan Sorenson and Keri Garman, More Educated, Less Engaged. This article looks at engagement from different workers based on their education. For me looking at it, the numbers are that crazy. 34% of workers w/ less than a High School Diploma are engaged in their jobs versus 28% of workers who have a college degree who are engaged in their job. Given that not earning a high school diploma is vastly different than earning a 4 year college degree (or being gifted one, that’s a rant for a different day), the numbers just aren’t that different or surprising to me.

U.S. Engagement Levels by Education

I mean, if you look at the numbers of workers who are not engaged, that is a little more wide spread vs. workers who are engaged. But there just aren’t any shockingly huge number differences. I suppose the real shock in this article is that you would think if you went and got your high school diploma, went through college and got your bachelor’s AND then went ahead and got your master’s (or higher) degree and 56% of those people aren’t engaged in their work? You went through all that schooling and spent all that money and you don’t even like your job? I guess that is where the big kicker is. Especially given that (and the article touches on this as well) that in America, it is pretty well accepted that if you want to make a nice living, you get at least a college education. In certain departments too, (say psychology) if you want to use your degree, you HAVE to get advanced education. Period.

So perhaps the shock value isn’t necessarily in the numbers, but it is in what you put into those numbers. And it is perhaps what your expectations were of the work you put in. Perhaps people who go on and get a postgraduate degree expect that they are going to be working a job that they love and they find out that isn’t necessarily true. If you think about people who don’t have a high school diploma, perhaps their expectations of their work life are more accurate versus those who have gone and gotten the education.


Physical Wellness: Would you Like Sugar with That?

Didn’t I say I was going to do a Gallup post this week? Well then, next week it is…

I have started to become a bit infatuated with HuffPo and the Washington Post solely for their wellness articles. They have distinguished themselves among other news sources because not every single article is about weight and losing weight and obesity and just weight related articles (one of my major pet peeves with “wellness” programs…wellness is more than your weight!).

WashPo (that doesn’t have the same ring to it as HuffPo does it?) recently published some new research on sugar. I’m oddly fascinated with sugar after watching “Hungry for Change” and how they linked sugar addiction to be similar to drug addiction (I have never been addicted to drugs but I have had my struggles w/ over consumption of sugar, so I sort of get it…sort of).

Anyway, this study used lab mice (cue animal rights activists here) and put them into control and experimental groups. Full disclosure, I’m reading through the research now and it is more science dense than I am used to reading so I may not get all the facts and data exactly right or interpret it correctly, but I’ll give it a shot. Basically, researchers gave mice in the experimental group a concentration of 25% kcal of sugar (which is equivalent to the sugar intake of around 20% of American’s). They then measured the differences that they found in the control and experimental group. They found negative side effects including female mice dying twice as fast and males not being interested in reproducing (if you get what I’m saying).

This is actually a really interesting study that Nature did (Jame Ruff is the first author on this) and if you have any interest in sugar or a really interesting research design, I recommend giving at least the Washington Post article a read.

I want to know if you have ever done experiments on your own with sugar? I gave up sugar for lent this year and struggled with it a lot but could tell major changes in my health. But even with seeing these major changes of my health, I haven’t been able to shake my sugar “addiction” completely. So what keeps us going back to something that is so bad for us? What are you thoughts on sugar? Is it a real addiction or is it just a mind over matter thing?

Occupational Wellness: Is Your Job Killing You?

One of my co-workers and I sometimes joke about how we want a treadmill desk (we have gone as far to look it up on Amazon…) but THIS article in the Washington Post really sparked my interest. I try to make sure I don’t spend too much time sitting at my desk at work as I know that it is bad for your body, your eyes, and your mind to just be sitting at your computer for hours on end. I will admit though when I get into a project and start analyzing data…I forget that I need to get up and move. My supervisor in my GA and I would actually go on “wellness walks” throughout the day (partly to get up and move and partly to just get out of the office and soak up some sun).

Anyway, more about the research and less about me. This study looks like a longitudinal (14 years) study looking at 100k+ workers and analyzed their mortality rate on the basis of how long they were sitting during a day (6+ hours a day versus 3 or less hours a day). Even taking into consideration diet, participants (are they really participants?? hmmm) who sat for more hours had a higher rate of mortality than those who sat for fewer hours (oh and as an added bonus ladies, we are more likely to kick the bucket than guys…34% vs. 17%…)

Some Australian researchers also did a little research and found that for adults (25+), every hour you spend plopped in front of the TV watching your favorite guilty pleasure show (I swear I won’t be watching The Bachelorette tonight…) you can shave 22 minutes off of your life. So…if I were to watch the Bachelorette tonight…which is 2 hours … I not only lose 2 hours of my life watching the drama unfold but I also am looking at losing 44 minutes of my life. Literally. (I tend to sit and watch the show and then during commercials do my dishes, clean, pack my bag for the next day, etc.)

So what is the bottom line? We know we need to eat healthy and work out. But can’t you just knock that workout out before/after work? I mean…if I am analyzing some data…not to throw a meme in this or anything but…



Well…you got time for that if you want to keep your life expectancy up. So instead of taking on long break, take so shorter breaks. Problem solve to figure out what you could do to get up and get active without losing work time. For instance, instead of having a printer in my office, I use the big printer and have to walk to it every time I print something.

What are some other ways you can get moving during the work day? Share in the comments below or on my Facebook, Twitter or email me at!

Social Wellness: Re-Connecting w/ a Best Friend.

Sorry for the late post! I will be back on a normal posting schedule tomorrow! I was busy traveling and catching up w/ my friend that I am staying with this week while I am on vacation.



(My friend Marn and I w/ one of our favorite teachers senior year of high school. My sweet burns lines were courtesy of a tennis tournament the day before prom…)

I don’t do a lot of social wellness posts because, well, I’m not very strong in social wellness (I’m an introvert and socially awkward) and it isn’t a dimension of wellness that I feel particularly knowledgeable about. But I took advantage of some flying time this morning and was reading more of the Well Being book (read my thoughts on Career Well Being HERE). I was reading about social wellbeing and wanted to share, per usual some of the research that Gallup is doing (I swear I am not being sponsored by Gallup! They just do some interesting research!)

Some of the most interesting (to me) findings are that your social network, more than your family, have impacts, both positive and negative, on your social wellbeing. Being around people that have high wellbeing is more likely to increase your overall wellbeing and the same is true for people who are low in wellbeing. The people that you are around have an impact on your wellbeing. (I’m having flashbacks to my Org Psych class and my hero of all hero’s Ben Schneider…oh Ben, such an amazing researcher…I completely fan girled when I met him at SIOP San Diego. Ok, back to the actual blog.)

So why exactly is it important to know that people in your social networks can have an impact on you? Well, as Gallup found out, they have in impact on not only how happy you might be but also on your “habits, behaviors, and health” (pg. 35). Even more interesting…if you have friends that are smokers, Gallup found that you are 61% more likely to pick up the habit. Even more shocking is that even if you don’t surround yourself with friends that smoke, if one of your friends has a friend that smokes, you are almost 30% more likely to pick up the habit. The people that you are around to more than just boost your mood. They have the potential to have a last impact on your for years to come (I don’t think I really need to bring up any of the research that has been done on smoking…we all know it, right?)

The point of this little tid bit of information (there was more than just this brief research in the social wellbeing section) is to place an emphasis on making sure that your social circle is a positive one for you. I’m not here to tell you how to make your friends or how many friends you should have. I’m just here to pose some questions and help you figure out what is right for you. For me (keep in mind I’m a pretty strong introvert), I tend to be very cautious and careful with who I let into my life. Which means it sometimes takes me a long time to meet people and develop friendships (I can safely say it took me a good year when I moved to Kentucky to develop some strong friendships). Conversely, my friend is very extroverted and trusting of people and is very good at putting herself out there and she builds friendships faster. There are positives and negatives to both and it is trying to figure out what is right for you.

How healthy is your social circle?

Financial Wellness: …er I don’t have a cool/witty title for this one…

I really just wanted to share this article. I am subscribed to variety of different newsletters and this Gallup one has to be one of my favorites. I signed up for it when I was taking my Well-Being Finder. They basically just send you a newsletter with new research that they are churning out.

THIS one by Frank Newport touches on something that I struggle with-I have money to get by week to week, but if something catastrophic happens (er, like car problems) I tend to not be as good to go. Turns out, I’m not alone in this headache. Around 70% of Americans struggle with the same issues I do. The Gallup research in this article indicates that until you are looking at around $48k/yr, unexpected major expenses are stressful and sometimes downright impossible to cover. (I’m lucky that my mom forced me to buy savings bonds as a little kid and she keeps them tucked away in a safety deposit box and they are my “oh shit money”.)

This research presents various different findings including people’s feelings on their spending (“Did you worry yesterday that you spent too much money?”) and how they feel basically about their financial security blanket. For the most part, American’s are feeling good day-to-day but once something major comes at them, it starts to get stressful and they may not have money tucked away for that.

This is really just some interesting research and unlike some research articles, the information is easy to read and comprehend and it just makes sense (I can’t tell you how many times in grad school I would read a research article and just go…Image

What are your thoughts on this research? Do you feel it is accurate? Do you have any financial tips on how to make sure you are covered if a major expense comes your way?

PS:  I leave TOMORROW for vacation! And since this is a financial wellness blog post-I stalked ticket prices for about a month to figure out when they were generally the lowest and got a ticket for less than $150 and I am staying w/ a friend (so no hotel costs!). I also knew that flights are generally cheaper M-Th and go up F-Su so I’m flying out on Thursday and coming back on Tuesday. Just a quick trip and not putting a major dent in my pocket book!

Intellectual Wellness: Actually Using Stuff I Learned in Grad School + Car Commercials?

Let me set the scene for you. It’s Monday night. I just got home from working out. I have some watermelon in front of me and the Bachelor (or ette…idk what it is called…show where someone dates a bunch of people and ends up with an engagement ring and tabloid covers of the messy split a few weeks later). So I’m settling in for one of my guilty pleasures and a commercial comes on for the newest in car innovation. It’s a car that will read you your emails while you are driving.

Cue the groans and excessive face palms. (Don’t these people read research, ever!?!?!?) And then cue the groans and eye rolls that I’m actually using something from my Cognition in the Workplace class…which was the section of my comprehensive exams in grad school that I almost hyperventilated during. Cue pulling out the midterm study guide to locate research…

It’s not that we need cars to do these things for us, it’s that we need to just put the cell phone and emails away and down when we are driving on concentrate on driving. There was research done with people who were using their cellphone and talking versus people who were using a hands-free headset and talking on their cellphone and they were both just as distracted because it’s not just the problem of having a phone in your hand and having one less hand to drive with. The problem lies in the fact of the conversation that is happening. Your brain is using it’s functions to concentrate on the conversation and therefore has less availability to pay attention to the task of driving (and being safe). (Just for FYI purposes, the same study was done of cellphone convo vs. in person convo i.e. passenger and it was found that in that situation talking to a person in your vehicle is not as distracting because they are also able to kind of help you “drive” like if traffic starts getting bad they recognize that and are able to help out). This experiment was done by Strayer and Johnston, Driven to Distraction.

I’m not sure how the email vs. conversation research would go, but I would hypothesize that most people that are having their emails read aloud to them are likely people who have “more important” emails that are going to take up attention in their brain and leave less attention for driving.

The concept we are specifically analyzing is divided attention. You only have so many resources to allocate to specific things and you only have so much of a cognition budget to do those things. When you have a cell phone conversation and you are driving, the problem lies in the fact that you have interference with your task general resources.

So it isn’t about developing new and better technology for cars to be able to read your emails or do hands-free conversations, that isn’t where the problem lies. The problem lies with our inability to just put the phone down and concentrate on task at hand.