The second week of January is not generally thought of as being much more than, I don’t know, bearable? Holiday vacation is in the rearview mirror, it’s still cold and gray outside, and there’s nothing to look forward to for months — save Valentine’s Day, I guess, for those of us who aren’t single. This year, adding to the overall “meh”-ness of the second half of the first fortnight of the year is the severity of the flu. I came down with it a week ago and I’m still having trouble peeling myself off the couch — both because I’m exhausted and because my feverish, sweaty skin keeps sticking to the pleather. The one good thing about being this sick, though, is that it gives me an ongoing excuse to order avgolemono (chicken, egg, and lemon soup) from my local Greek restaurant. This virus may have killed my spirit, but it didn’t kill my appetite. Spoons up!
Here are this week’s links.
Exercise Pays Off — And “Sweatcoin” Pays Up
At first, the idea of earning digital points for walking my dog or going for a jog reminded me too much of a Black Mirror episode. Yet, the creators behind the free app “Sweatcoin” believe that incentivizing exercise (those points can eventually add up to, say, a free Fitbit) is a good way to motivate people to move. For this article, a tech reporter tried out the app. Her experience makes for an insightful read, whether you’re intrigued by Sweatcoin or so over the digital-currency craze. [New York Times]
How To Give Up Booze And Keep On Drinking
Cutting back on alcohol consumption (or ditching booze altogether) is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions. And, while it’s certainly a worthy goal, it can also leave teetotalers with a glass full of boring — no one’s ever raved about the night they spent sipping seltzer on the rocks. This piece is in praise of the mighty mocktail; woke bartenders across the country are making them with ingredients like fresh-squeezed juices, chamomile tea, and bitters. Give one a shot. When I did, I discovered that a Bloody Mary never needed vodka, only extra olives. [Esquire]
Healthy Isn’t A Number
Despite all the people with 7-ish percent body fat featured on the Instagram hashtag #fitspo, new research shows that you don’t have to be a gazelle/Giselle in order to be fit. In fact, athletes like the ones profiled here demonstrate the new medical concept of MHO, or “Metabolically Healthy Obesity.” (IMHO, MHO is a much-needed term.) While this piece specifically shows why “healthy” shouldn’t be solely a measure of weight, or body fat, it also generally examines the stereotypes we hold about size. [The Walrus]
On Hobbies And Happiness
Admittedly, upon reading the headline of this story, I figured it would just explain how knitting or scrapbooking can help defeat boredom, or — you know — how joining a local bird-watching club might help you make friends who also enjoy wearing utility vests. But, according to the research presented here, hobbies are not just a way to pass the hours — they can be a vital part of creating a strong and complex identity, and thus essential to your happiness. [The Cut]
A (Possible) Future of Exercise Pills For (Definitely) Lazy Humans
If, by this point in 2018, you’re already downsizing your weight-loss goals, rather than your waistline, here’s a list that to cheer you up. For years, scientists have been working on “cures” for our ballooning bodies; some require nothing more than swallowing a pill or getting a shot. I’ll be honest: A lot of these sound too good to be true: A meal-replacement capsule that’s delicious and nutritious? A pill to replace the high-endurance exercise I forgot to do? A fat “off switch”? Well, we can dream, can’t we? [Mel]