Quit Coffee, Improve Your Health and Travel the World

A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece on alcohol, which stirred a few emotions amongst some friends. Alcohol is something I can quite happily give a miss, as it really isn’t that close to my heart. So I thought I’d face up to something that is a little closer to home.

COFFEE. Mmmmmmm. I only have to walk past a coffee shop and the aroma wafting out past my nostrils gets me practically drooling like Homer Simpson over ch-o-c-o-late.

It’s fair to say the latte lifestyle is ingrained in me. Sitting around and catching up with your mates, whilst sipping away on your favorite beverage (mine’s flat white, extra hot, made with love). What a great way to spend half hour. And judging by the five coffee shops within a 100m of me (I’m in one writing this), understandably it’s ingrained in many others too.

I’ve just had the barista tell me that they sell on average about 800-1200 cups a day! So it’s easy to say I’m not the only coffee lover around here. What amazes me more is that, I contribute on average, about two of those cups. At $3.50 a pop that’s $49 a week, and $2,548 a year! There’s a return flight to the other side of the world right there. Ouch.

We always recognise coffee, or even more so caffeine, as a bit of a pick me up. It clears the foggy cloud hanging above your head first thing in the morning, and then a mid afternoon fix to get you over the finish line for the day. Interestingly too, caffeine is often touted as a weight loss stimulant.

Firstly, I think we can all agree that if you keep things in perspective, the body copes well. Ie. You eat wholesome and natural most meals, but throw in a pizza once in a while, no problem. But it’s when the scales start to tip the other way the body starts to give out.

I’m the first to defend coffee, as I love the taste and the whole culture that goes with it, so I feel I can justify the odd cup, but I know those scales have started to tip, which has now led me to start digging a little further and finding out what the effects are of a regular caffeine hit are, and this is what I came up with.

When you have a cup of coffee, it initiates uncontrolled neurons firing in the brain, which triggers the pituitary gland to secrete a hormone that tells your adrenal gland to wake up and release adrenalin.

So this response now puts you in ‘fight or flight‘ mode, which I’m sure you’re all aware of, and of course you can see the great benefits of this ‘fight or flight’ safety mechanism that’s embedded in each and every one of us like a loaded gun, ready to go off at the slightest sniff of threat or danger, while we sit in our office chair or the cafe checking our emails first thing in the morning.

With this in mind, your body has just been put on red alert, with the biggest danger you’ll probably have is spilling your cuppa or writing a typo.

So you may get a bit of a lift from this, (as it generally raises blood sugar too, which is counter productive for weight loss), but of course, you come down with a crash later on in the day. Consistently doing this day in day out will put undue stress on your adrenal glands, forcing your glands to secrete when there’s not much there to give, which exhausts them over time, and can contribute to mood swings, depression, fatigue etc.

And just to lay some icing on the cake, caffeine inhibits Iron and Zinc absorption by up to 50%, especially if consumed near meal times. Just type it into Google, there’s plenty of thoughts on it.

Now, after re-reading what I’ve just wrote, I’m trying to put logic and meaning to every coffee I’ve had to date:-

Pros

– Tastes amazing (to me)

– Social aspect (good excuse to hang out and chat)

– Heightened awareness for short period of time, in case of any lightning speed reactions needed while I’m sitting on my butt.

– And it’s cheap at $3.50. Just for a little daily treat.

Cons

– At $3.50 a mug twice a day, you’ve got a round the world ticket. If you halved that to one cup, I’ve still got a surf trip to Bali (from Sydney) once a year.

– There’s an art to living stress free with out the daily curve balls thrown at us. Do we need to compound this more by putting our endocrine system under stress, which can contribute to mood swings, depression, fatigue etc.

– Food here in the city these days lacks enough nutrients as it is, especially through processing. So do we want to effect that any more than we need to?

Conclusion?

My favourite beverage has just taken on a whole new look. If I bury my head in the sand a little longer, surely no one would want to come up behind me and kick me up the arse!

Foursquare Holds the Aces in Social Networking

I remember a famous line from a blockbuster Hollywood movie of the 90’s. If someone asks you for a help or a favor, always ask that person, “What is in it for me?” We have always been the barter society, working on the lines of give and take since God known when! Quid-pro-quo has been the way the world works, materialistically or emotionally. What has changed though is the way in which this crudeness is presented by the marketers and businessmen in-front of the people. The business strategies have become more and more subtle in the ways they approach people with their offerings. But this always has a consistent fake undertone that says – There isn’t anything for me in it! But that still is the basic philosophy of business. To give and Take.

Stepping into the 21st century, a mind boggling number of ways exist in which brands are marketing and selling themselves. Social networking websites are slowly but surely becoming the alpha male, something which Televsion was for radio at one time. Mainstream advertising, though still a huge industry, is surely feeling the heat of the unlimited opportunities that the web provides for marketing and advertising. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have already been talked about at length at almost every available web space. According to a survey by Regus, more than half of companies worldwide now use various social networks and about 40 percent of companies say they’ve had success in finding new customers using social networks.

Another Player

Innovation has always been the key to online success. Following the same footsteps, FourSquare, a location-based mobile application is breaking new grounds in innovative business activity. The social-networking tool encourages people to check in at places they visit all around their vicinity, whether it’s a local grocery store or bar. This tool also facilitates keeping one’s friends updated about where one is or where one is spending most of his/her time as every time a person checks in at a location a message goes out to their friends and followers on Twitter and Facebook telling them of the person’s location.

What’s the Hype?

Apart from being a great way to explore the city, this social networking tool also rewards you for visiting a new place or revisiting an old place. In-case the place you visit happens to be a business center or a shop then the perks are a little more materialistic!

A boon for small businesses you can say. These small businesses are encouraged to give special discounts and offers for people who become repeat visitors. The person who checks in the most is named “The Mayor” of that place and gets even better perks or offers from the same place. Such repeat visiting behavior is reverberated to all the friends of the individual through the mobile application or the website. This obviously leads to an increase in the number of customer visits for the shop or the business center and adds to the overall popularity of the place. A great example would be Starbucks. The coffee giant has seen the number of Foursquare check-ins at its US outlets jump by 50% since launching a promotion recently to give Mayors $1 off Frappuccinos. A win-win situation for the website, the companies and the consumers!

The perks

The website is a great way to promote one’s brand or shop. But that’s not all. This tool provides a lot more to the companies in the form of analytical information about who is using the site, such as when people check in, whether they make a return visit and the demographics of who is checking in.

Another success story comes in the form of Dominos. The Pizza giant recently posted a surge of 29% in pre-tax profits to £17.5 million and all this owing to a super-fans programs and the development of a link up with Foursquare.

Jumping the Gun?

FourSquare has limitless potential in the real world business activities. But when it comes to an Internet-based business though, the opportunities can be harder to envision as location isn’t a useful piece of information for an e-commerce website. Considering that Foursquare’s still very young, therefore it would not be a smart move to start planning a full budget blowout on this tool. It still has a long way to go before breaking a considerable ground in the online marketing space.

Surfing Lessons — Learn to Ride the Waves

Want to learn to surf but don’t know where to start? Surfing lessons are all about taking your surfing to the next level regardless of how much experience — or lack thereof — you may have. It’s all about conquering fear, learning water safety, expanding your ocean and wave knowledge, and returning to the true essence of surfing — fun and relaxation!

You’re never too old to learn to surf. People of all ages are drawn to the majesty of our beautiful oceans. If you feel the call of the sun and surf pumping through your veins, it’s time to find an instructor!

Learning to Surf — Finding an Instructor

The internet is a great place to find instructors and research their backgrounds and qualifications. Regardless of your reason for seeking out a surfing instructor there are a few things that you should consider mandatory: A long history of surfing (preferably professionally to some extent), up-to-date first aid certification, proven (preferably certified) surf rescue experience, and a thorough knowledge of wave, weather and wind conditions (which should be commensurate with the instructor’s experience, i.e. The more time that they’ve been spent in the water, the greater their understanding of the ocean and weather conditions).

There are many excellent surfing instructors throughout the world. Many have been involved in competitive surfing of some description or have at least spent enough time in the water to have a sound knowledge of the demands of the sport.

If you’re on holidays at the seaside and just want to experience surfing as a holiday activity then you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a local surfer or local surf school that can give you a quick rundown of the basics and give you a quick ride or two on a board. In some of the more renowned surfing spots you’ll likely even be able to find a pro surfer to guide you to your first wave.

If you’re a little more serious about your surfing, or want the complete surfing experience in the hands of a true professional, there are many professional/ex-professional surfers who can guide your development as a surfer and help you to get the most out of your surfing experience.

Surfing greats such as Nancy Emerson, Corky Carroll and Frieda Zamba offer surfing lessons at some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Whether you’re a beginner and very wet behind the ears, or a professional surfer in your own right, these experienced professionals can help you hone your skills and develop your style, giving you more confidence in the water and in your ability to navigate waves and the surf zone.

Depending on how serious you are about the sport, you’ll be able to choose from surfing lessons of a couple of hours at a time to surfing clinics and camps for more intensive training. You can learn to stand on a board and catch a small wave in a day, or work on form, style and ocean awareness with surfing legends over the space of several days to a week or more.

Going It Alone?

You may be fired up and ready to surf, but don’t jump the gun. It might be tempting — especially in a beachside location or if you have friends that surf — to just grab a surfboard and go for it.

This is a bad idea for two reasons: One, it’s much easier to learn the right way to do things initially than to rectify bad habits and, two, you don’t want to spend your hard earned money on surfing gear (and, in particular, on a surfboard) before you’ve had some training and experience, because you won’t know what board best suits your style of surfing.

Many surf schools will provide equipment for you to learn with. If you come across one that doesn’t then it’s usually possible to hire the necessary equipment from a surf shop. Have a couple of lessons first, maybe try a few different surfboards of various shapes and sizes (on hire from the surf shops), and then think a little more about what board is best for you. Your instructor should also be happy to give you some advice about where to start.

Another good reason to not go it alone initially is because surfing, like any sport, can be dangerous for the uninitiated. The awesome power of the ocean doesn’t discriminate according to experience and even small breaks can have dangerous rips and currents. It’s far safer at all times to only swim and surf in the company of fellow beach goers. That warning stands for both new and experienced surfers — an unknown break is always potentially dangerous.

Any surf instructor worth their salt will make sure that you only surf in conditions that are safe for your level of experience. Aside from the possibility that a serious spill might put you off surfing for good, big water surfing without the necessary experience is irresponsible at best, suicidal at worst — never surf in conditions you aren’t ready for, and only experiment under the watchful eye of a professional surfer or an experienced buddy!

Most surfers will tell you that surfing is more than just a sport; it’s an existential experience, the ultimate rush, and it can be addictive. So get yourself an instructor, suit up, grab a board and hit the beach!