Health tips are everywhere, but most of the time I ignore them.
They don't make sense, their timing is all wrong, or they just aren't for me.
Every now and then, though, the right health tip comes at the right time and right place just for me... and it changes something I do forever. Here are my three favorite examples:
1. Fully dry your hands.
Recently I discovered I'd been thinking of washing my hands all wrong.
It turns out the most important part of hand washing isn't scrubbing with soap and water for 20 seconds while humming the chorus of Pharrell's "Happy" in your head (just me?). It's making sure your hands are dry after washing them. Wet hands may even be worse than not washing in the first place!
So now instead of skipping those annoying hand dryers, I take my time with them. I don't wipe off my hands on my jeans. I take extra paper towels (even science prefers paper towels to hand dryers BTW). The hygienic efficacy of different hand-drying methods: a review of the evidence. Huang C, Ma W, Stack S. Mayo Clinic proceedings, 2012, May.;87(8):1942-5546.
Yes, I still judge the heck out of people who don't wash their hands in public bathrooms (monsters).
Since I started committing to properly drying my hands, I've gotten sick way less often.
2. Don't snooze.
People love snoozing. In fact, more than half of Americans regularly hit the snooze button.
I did too once long ago. But then I read something surprising: Those extra minutes in the morning after the snooze button are the least good sleep you can get. Sleeping is amazing and important... but only if you get deep sleep. And waking up and then snoozing cuts down on that precious time.
Some science says snoozing can actually make you more tired (especially if you wake up at the wrong time in your sleep cycle)—and that's been my experience at least.
Anyway, my solution was simple: I put my alarm clock (mobile phone) in another room and jacked up the volume so I had no excuse. And I set my alarm to the actual time I want to wake up, no snooze time included.
Every morning I jump out of bed and I'm up and at 'em, full of energy!
3. Add cinnamon to your coffee.
Coffee is amazing, and the overwhelming scientific consensus is that it's good for almost everyone... unless you fill it with sugar, cream, and then more sugar, like most people.
But I didn't like the taste of coffee for a long time, so I drank venti chai lattes every day (every day!!!) and thought I was doing it right. I obviously wasn't. Please don't drink those every day.
Then someone suggested I try black coffee with cinnamon (available at almost every coffee shop), and it changed everything for me.
Cinnamon's super healthy, sure, but that wasn't actually the point. I just liked black coffee with it more—cinnamon cut the sharpness a bit, making every cup taste like glorious sweater-weather fall. I've never looked back and I can't imagine how many unnecessary calories I've saved because of it.
This small cinnamon-for-cream-and-sugar swap actually empowered me to look for others like it.
The moment someone realizes they can swap the default side of French fries with veggies, for example, they become healthyish. They're in control now and can choose better whenever they want to, not just do whatever someone else wants them to.
Here's my puppy of the week: