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    7 Simple Life Hacks to Make You Happier, Stronger, and More Productive

    Now, we’d never, ever, try to stand between you and your first marathon, a major weight loss, or the job of your dreams. Thinking big—and having big goals—is important, especially as you set your sights on new life chapters. That said, sometimes thinking a little bit smaller—in fact, maybe making just a few minor tweaks to your routine—can yield some pretty big W’s, too. Simple life hacks don’t need to be major.
    That could mean just swapping out a single drink of the day for water and watching your weight plummet. Or using a simple timer at your desk that will up your productivity tenfold. Or even doing some very small, invisible exercises that will have a major impact on your sex life. Best of all: None of these tricks costs a nickel, and none of them takes much time. Yet according to experts from a range of disciplines—productivity, nutrition, dating, finance—they all offer measurable results.

    1. To get things done, try the “pomodoro” technique
    You know those red kitchen timers that are in the shape of a tomato?
    That’s the inspiration for this hack.
    Instead of trying to focus on work for hours on end, carve your time into 30-minute chunks. Work on a task for 25 minutes, then give yourself five minutes to goof off, zone out, or screw around on the Internet. Repeat.
    “It’s highly effective,” says productivity guru Michael Sliwinski, CEO of nozbe.com. “When you really focus on your task and work on it without any distractions, you’ll be surprised by how well you can perform.”

    2. To trim stress, do a “2 by 4”
    “The less stress you have in your body, the better you’re able to perform. Stress makes you stupid,” says Emily Fletcher, the founder of Ziva Meditation. She recommends a simple hack that requires no knowledge of Zen, meditation, or mindfulness: what she calls the 2x breath.
    “If you’re getting heated with a co-worker or your partner, simply stop and take a walk about the room or down the hall,” explains Fletcher. “As you walk, breathe in for two steps and out for four. Do this for a few minutes, then come back and finish the conversation. It gives you a way to calm the vagus nerve, which connects the brain to the body.”
    3. To drop some fat, swap one drink for water
    “Stop drinking one soda and replace it with water every single day,” explains nutritionist Mitzi Dulan, co-author (with NFL legend Tony Gonzalez) of The All-Pro Diet. “Doing this every day saves you 150 calories, which adds up to a yearly weight loss of 15 pounds.”
    You might think, “Right, but I’m smarter than that, and I already switched to diet soda years ago.” Yet the same principle applies to healthier-looking drinks like juice. I used to drink OJ every morning because it feels healthy—vitamin C, right? But the average 12-ounce glass contains nine teaspoons of sugar…or nearly as much as a can of Coke.

    4. To have better sex, do kegels (yes, really)
    They might sound weird or scary or even, well, unmanly, but sex therapist Gloria Brame, Ph.D., (author of The Truth About Sex) says that kegels are the single best thing you can do to boost your performance in the sack.
    “Kegels are essential for male sexual health. They keep your anatomy healthy, enhance virility, and assist with proper bladder and bowel function.”
    Here’s how you do it: Clench down on the pelvic muscles for a few seconds, then release. Repeat three times. And you’re done. If you’re not sure exactly where these muscles are, go to a urinal. “Hold back your urine stream. Stop, let it start to flow, stop. Repeat two more times. Now you know which muscles you need to work,” says Brame. Doing the exercise is quick and easy. You can perform it at your desk, in your car, or in an elevator—whenever you have a free moment.

    5. To tame your schedule, plan your day the night before
    “Planning out your day the night before has significant benefits for both the early risers and the night owls,” advises Mike Vardy, founder of Productivityist. “Early risers can hit the ground running with their game plan, allowing them to be more productive from the get-go.” And if you’re a night owl? Suddenly you have an agenda that gives you direction in the grogginess of morning, letting you build momentum for later in the day.
    6. To get wealthier, turn nickels into the S&P 500
    A new crop of personal-finance apps will round up your purchases and invest the difference. “One of the best is called Acorns,” advises Andrew Schrage, partner and editor-in-chief of personal-finance blog moneycrashers.com. “Say you make a purchase for $4.50, then 50 cents gets invested into an ETF (exchange-traded fund) that holds a wide variety of different companies across different investing sectors.”
    7. To strengthen your relationships, (always) tell women the truth
    “Right now, say this sentence in your head: ‘I choose to tell women the truth, no matter what. I will be a man of my word,’” says dating and relationship coach Lindsay Chrisler. The logic? Too often we instinctively tell lies for her protection. This backfires. “Women don’t need protection. You may not sleep with the woman that night, but you will have integrity, a clear conscience, and higher-quality women surrounding you. The truth is the secret to a hot sex life.”
    That, and clenched pelvic muscles.
    Jeff Wilser is the author of Alexander Hamilton’s Guide to Life. Follow him on Twitter.

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    If You Stress More, You Need to Sweat More (for Your Heart)

    When it feels like depression is crushing you or anxiety is making you want to crawl out of your skin, the last thing on your mind is exercise. But hitting the ground running is just the thing you need—and you’ll be doing more than just blowing off steam. An analysis by Harvard University researchers of more than 50,000 people found that stressed individuals who get regular physical activity have twice the protection against stroke and heart attack compared to less-stressed exercisers. Stress was identified as those dealing with anxiety and depression.
    All exercisers were at 17 percent lower risk for heart attacks than non-exercisers, regardless of stress levels. But benefits were significantly higher in people with anxiety or depression, who had a 22 percent risk reduction vs. a 10 percent risk reduction in those without either condition.Physical activity affects stress-related neural mechanisms in the brain that have a direct impact on heart health, explains researcher Hadil Zureigat, M.D., a postdoctoral clinical research fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and the study’s lead author.Aim for 150 minutes per week. That’s a 15-minute walk on your lunch break followed by 15 minutes of curls and crunches when you get home; a 30-minute daily bike commute to your office (bonus: save the environment); or three 50-minute spin classes a week.Added perk: Exercise itself is a mood booster, helping to melt some of that anxious energy off.

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    Doctors Are Prescribing National Parks Passes to Patients on the Mend

    Add healing-through-nature to hockey and Tim Hortons as Canadian gifts to world culture. Healthcare providers in four provinces—British Columbia, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba—can now prescribe free national parks passes to patients as part of their health treatments.

    The country’s new PaRx program, an initiative of the BC Parks Foundation, is designed to help people manage stress and anxiety. More than 6,000 licensed healthcare professionals have registered to prescribe nature to their patients.
    With plans to expand to every province, the program aims to get people outside at least two hours a week. While the savings aren’t much (an annual Discovery Pass costs CAD$72), it’s more about improving health by getting people moving. Benefits touted by the program include increased energy, decreased anxiety, pain reduction, reduced stress and improved heart health.

    “The pandemic has helped people rediscover the importance of being outside,” says PaRx director Dr. Melissa Lem, “and prescribers are seeing its evidence-based advantages.”

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    The Newest Thing in Wellness: Beer Spas

    Romans bathed in wine. Cleopatra in milk. Why not beer? From the Rocky Mountains to Iceland, spas are tapping into what they believe is an emerging market—beer lovers soaking in suds to rejuvenate skin and muscles.

    In the tiny village of Árskógssandur in Iceland, the Beer Spa (Bjórbö›in) puts clients in a hot tub filled with “young” beer, still in the early stages of fermentation. The kambala wood tub is filled with water, live beer yeast, hops, water, beer oil and beer salt. Its low pH is said to tighten and soften hair follicles while cleansing hair and skin. Brewer’s yeast provides vitamin B, protein, potassium, iron, zinc and magnesium. The beer’s hops, meanwhile, are rich in antioxidants and alpha acids, while their oils and minerals are promoted as having an anti-inflammatory effect on joints and muscles.

    Taking the concept stateside, the new Beer Spa in Denver loads patrons in a bubbly beer bath steeped with hops, barley and medicinal herbs. The mile-high brew stew is the brainchild of Damien Zouaoui and Jessica French, who traveled the world before landing in a beer bath in Poland and bringing the concept home. Their 90-minute Beer Therapy Room treatment lets you soak in a cedar tub filled with an herbal beer bath blend. They tout the same effects as their cousins overseas, down to thousands of tiny bubbles enveloping your body in a beer-like fizz. The treatment includes an infrared sauna, rain shower, relaxation deck and self-pour taproom.

    “It felt great—and it smells like good beer, not a frat house floor,” says St. Louis entrepreneur George Lochhead, who partook in the beer soak after heli-skiing. “And it’s so good for your skin you don’t even have to shower afterward. We had fun guessing if it was an IPA or a lager.”

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    How to Tell If You Have Lower Testosterone Levels

    If we asked you what testosterone does, you’d undoubtedly mention things like build strength and muscle mass, and improve sex drive. In short, all the attributes we’ve come to equate with masculinity, especially when we’re at our peak in our late teens and early 20s. So, not surprisingly, when you no longer feel like the man you were and start to ask why, lower T is often the culprit.

    What is testosterone?
    Testosterone belongs to a class of male hormones known as androgens (aka steroids). It’s both androgenic (causing male physical characteristics) and anabolic (causing development and growth of muscle), the latter being far more interesting to the average guy trying to get jacked.
    Produced primarily in the testes and the adrenal glands, testosterone is involved with a variety of important processes in the body. It helps control development of male sex organs and kicks into high gear during puberty, when secondary sexual characteristics develop. These include not just an increase in size of the penis and testicles, but also the sprouting of facial and body hair. In addition, it’s typically accompanied by a growth spurt and the development of stronger, more visible musculature.
    As men mature, testosterone plays a critical role in sex drive, maintaining healthy red blood cell and sperm counts, and—drumroll, please—the maintenance and increasing development of muscle mass and strength.
    Signs of lower testosterone
    Testosterone doesn’t just get up and leave the body on a whim. Instead, the side effects sneak up on you as you age, first causing you to question how good you used to feel in the sack or in the gym. Then you start to notice your muscle-mass gains are nonexistent, and you’re actually getting smaller and weaker.
    Fatigue and a growing lack of interest in sex, training, and sports are the next indication that something’s just not right. Before you know it, you’re crying at movies and dog food ads.
    How to boost lower testosterone levels
    The good news: Lower testosterone doesn’t have to happen to you…or keep happening to you. There are steps you can take to eliminate the symptoms and get to the core of the issue. It starts with diet and exercise.
    Among the foods that can improve your natural testosterone production are oysters, which are rich in zinc; fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, which have high levels of vitamin D; and eggs, which contain cholesterol, the building block of testosterone (note: you don’t want to overdue it with the cholesterol, since too much can lead to health issues down the road). Other good foods to prioritize for increased T levels include onions, garlic, spinach, and broccoli.
    In the gym, intense workouts involving large muscle groups, heavy resistance, and minimal rest between sets are the best prescription for T production. Compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, bentover rows, and bench press should be used in place of leg extensions, pec deck, and hyperextensions. It’s critical you stress your body to get the biggest hormonal surge, and isolation movements just don’t cut it.
    Finally, sleep is a critical part of the lower-T conundrum.
    If you don’t get eight hours of sleep per night, your body becomes catabolic. First, your body is unable to adequately recover from hard training sessions. Second, reduced sleep causes an increase in the manufacture of cortisol. This burns up muscle tissue, increases fat deposition (especially in the belly), and reduces testosterone production.
    How supps can help increase testosterone
    If you feel as if you may be experiencing reduced testosterone levels, take the quiz below to find out. Depending on the results, adding a supplemental testosterone booster might help put you back in the game. One good option to consider is Nugenix Total-T. You might be familiar with the supp from its appearance in this SNL skit:
    [embedded content]
    Think of Nugenix as a supercharged multivitamin. It’s got vitamins B6 and B12; zinc; L-citrulline malate (amino acid); Testofen®, a patented fenugreek extract (ayurvedic herb); ElevATP® Blend, a natural combination of ancient peat and apple polyphenols; and eurycoma longifolia extract, a plant in which the root is thought to heighten testosterone levels.
    Nugenix Total-T may increase sex drive, improve sexual function, and increase muscle strength and endurance in men suffering from lower testosterone.
    Do you have lower testosterone levels?
    To find out, tally up how many of the following you’ve experienced:
    1. Low sex drive: Any reduction is bad; a drastic drop-off signals problems.
    2. Difficulty achieving erection: If you depend on Viagra or Cialis, that’s not good.
    3. Significant loss of muscle mass
    4. Increase in body fat
    5. Fatigue and lack of energy: If you’re sleeping seven to eight hours a night yet feel sluggish, something’s wrong.
    6. Lack of enthusiasm: The inability to get excited about life in general is a sign of low T.
    7. Mood changes: Are you irritable or depressed most of the time? It could be hormonal.
    8. Low semen volume: A noticeable decrease in ejaculate isn’t normal.
    9. Hair loss: It could be on your head, but also on your face and body.
    10. Shrinkage of testicles: If your gonads feel smaller or softer to the touch, be cautious.
    Results
    If you answered “yes” to three or fewer of the above symptoms, you’re in pretty good shape. If you’re in the four to six range, you may have lower-T trouble brewing. It’s time to look closely at your diet and exercise regimen. Finally, if you’re experiencing seven or more of the symptoms, lower T is the likely cause.

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    Tips for Beginning a Fitness Journey

    This article is an installment of The Everyday Warrior series, featuring advice, key interviews, and tips to live a life of impact, growth, and continual learning.As cliché as it might sound, you must approach things just one day, one meal, or one workout at a time. It’s the basis of the ATTA concept, an approach to living that inspires greatness and promotes balance, coined by retired U.S. Navy SEAL Mike Sarraille, host of the Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior podcast.
    When you first embark on a fitness journey, especially if you have a lot of weight to lose or have a long road ahead of you, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the bigger picture. Don’t let that discourage you as that often happens. Take the sport of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, for example. I started training back in the fall of 2019 before COVID and the pandemic. I had no background in grappling or martial arts. Despite being somewhat athletic most of my life from playing sports I was like a fish out of water. It was hard to imagine after the first couple of classes how I would ever have any skill in the sport of BJJ.Fast forward to the present: I recently received my blue belt. Not that I’m all that skilled now but I just truly personified the one-day ATTA time approach. All I did was show up two to three times per week for classes, drilled a lot, and got just a little bit better over time. That’s the key: continuing to show up and being consistent. You must apply this same approach to your fitness goals.It seems overwhelming to lose 50 pounds when you’re just starting out. View it as a process goal versus just the outcome. What I mean here is you take that larger goal and break it down into smaller ones. Losing a substantial amount of weight is a daunting task, but losing the first 5 or 10 pounds isn’t as scary. Start by chunking things up into smaller, more manageable goals. More

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    This Is Your Brain on Beer

    It’s a brew lover’s worst nightmare: Just half a beer a day can reduce the volume of your brain and stress cognitive powers, per new research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Pennsylvania. That flies in the face of the National Institutes of Health recommendation that considers two drinks a day safe for men. What’s more, says study co-author Remi Daviet, Ph.D., the effects of alcohol on the brain rise exponentially with every additional drink.

    “It’s not linear,” according to Daviet. “It gets worse the more you drink.”
    To conduct their study, researchers analyzed brain MRIs for more than 36,000 people and compared them with surveys that participants filled out about their drinking habits. Researchers found that brain volume shrunk with every increasing drink, to the point that four drinks a day was equivalent to aging the brain by 10 years.

    Worried, but not ready to give up your nightcap any time soon? It’s worth noting, says Daviet, that brain changes after just one unit of alcohol are minor—it’s when you start piling cocktail on top of cocktail that the real damage begins. Translation: Pour yourself a cold one and sip slowly. You’ll want to make this brewski last the night.

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    Best Foot Exercises to Ease Pain and Boost Performance

    4. Toe pickupsPlace several small objects on the ground such as marbles, game pieces, Superballs, or golf balls. Using your toes only, pick them up one at a time and drop them into a bowl or box. This improves foot mobility and strength.5. Trigger point release
    From a sitting or standing position with one foot on a small-ish ball (think golf or lacrosse ball), roll the ball back and forth along the arch of your foot. Stop on any sore or stiff spots and focus on that area. Repeat on the other foot. This can be done several times a day, perhaps while watching TV or at your desk. If a lacrosse ball is too hard, try RAD’s Point Release Kit. 6. Big toe stretch
    The big toe takes a beating wedged into tight shoes. This can impact mobility and flexibility if not addressed. While sitting in a chair, rest your right foot across your left thigh. Using your right hand, stretch your big toe up, down, and to both sides, holding for five seconds at each point. Repeat 10 times and switch feet.7. Foam rolling
    This poor man’s massage uses deep compression to roll out muscle spasms. The compression causes the nerves to relax, gets the blood flowing, and helps the body recover from the stresses of the day, including your training regimen. Glide your sore feet over the roller and hold on to tender points for 30 seconds to alleviate soreness.8. Toe wall walks
    Lie on your back with knees and hips bent to 90 degrees, feet flat against a wall, and arms by your sides. While maintaining contact with the wall, walk your feet as far as you can up the wall by curling your toes and pulling your feet up. At the end of your range of motion, walk your feet down the wall by curling your toes and pushing your feet down. Repeat for a set of 10. More