3 Realizations About ‘Being Fit’ That Turned My Lifestyle Upside Down

Fit

But Be Aware, This Is Not Another 5-Step Beach Body Guide

The Moroccan sun was hitting the small surfer town Taghazout hard this afternoon. ‘You lookin’ really fit’, a blond English girl tells me, while we were sipping our wine on the rooftop of our hostel. I had to laugh. Fit? Me? Definitely not. I had not seen the inside of a gym in months, maybe went for a run twice this whole year and my favorite walks have been to the donut shops in Melbourne downtown.

The term fit has been defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as “sound physically and mentally: healthy“. However, my motivation to work out, to be fit physically and mentally, simply to be healthy, had seen better days.

If you are reading this article, chances are, you’ve been there yourself:  The couch calls your name in the evenings, your bed does not let you go early in the morning, especially not for a run and only the thought of going to the gym is nothing but torture.

That has been me, for basically the whole year. Until about two weeks ago.

Thinking about the role of media, different types of motivation and mindfulness have turned my lifestyle upside down.

The realizations I have made recently will not give you a six pack in 2 weeks, will not make you run a marathon and most definitely will not make you loose 10kg.

They might, however, make you think differently about ‘being fit’. And maybe, they will also turn your lifestyle upside down.

The media tells us how to be physically fit

fit
Photo by Cristian Baron on Unsplash

Shockingly, almost 80% of U.S. women and 34% of men are dissatisfied with their own bodies, according to a study conducted by Park Nicollet Merlrose Center.

Most commonly, women strive for weight loss while men tend to focus on building strong muscles and a six pack.

But why is it, that we think skinny women and big men are fit?

The answer is simple: Because we are told so from all sides: magazines, social media and our peers.

Fit girls lifting dumbbells in leggings in NY warehouse
Photo by Bruce Mars on Unsplash

The Men’s Health Magazine which reaches over 21 million men worldwide, claims to be able to tell all men whether they are weak or strong. One article states: ‘you’ll find our definition of fit—10 simple (though by no means easy) things every man must be able to do before he stamps himself “in shape.” Says who? Says us.’ It is no surprise that men feel a pressure to lift heavy and squat low, when they are confronted with such made up benchmarks.

However, the definition of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, brings a little twist to our notion of fit. Their definition of physical fitness says, it is “a set of attributes that people have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity.”

At this point I would like to shortly introduce you to Ismail, a 23-year-old surf instructor from Morocco. He is no taller than me, if you count his blond curly hair, he might be as tall as 1.70m. His body is skinny and it is impressive how he jumps over the rocks with a surf board that is far too big and probably weighs as much as he does. He paddles strongly, moves quickly through the ocean, catches every wave. Going to the gym was never an option for him. He would probably not be able to satisfy the author of the Men’s Health article, but he has taught himself the needed attributes that relate to the ability to surf like a pro. Ismail is physically fit in surfing.

What does fit even mean?

Jen Sinkler, a writer and personal trainer, poses an interesting question in one of her articles: ‘What is your personal definition of fit?’. She explains how she is personally very fit lifting weights, but due to personal conditions, very unfit when it comes to hiking.

When we talk about physical fitness, we should move away from asking: Are you fit? And instead, as Jen Sinkler recommends, ask: What are you fit in?

I realized that the media cannot tell me how fit I am. They cannot tell me what I should look like.

It is a matter of our very own perception and feeling of well-being.

We do not need the media to determine our personal fit.

Fitness is not just about your motivation

Fit
Photo by Tommy Lisbin

If a little motivation were the key, we would all be active regularly. But how often have you found yourself in the evening on the couch with the option of binge watching some Netflix with a glass of wine, or hitting the gym, going for a run or doing some yoga? More than once I assume. Lately, I have found great excuses: No time, no energy and my favorite one, no motivation. I kept telling myself, the motivation would come back eventually and then I will start being active again.

Fact is, that mindset did not get me off of the couch and before I knew it, seven months had passed.

When it comes to motivation, it is important to be aware of two different types: extrinsic and intrinsic.

Ryan and Deci have studied the scale of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, explaining the drives of human behavior.

fit

To sum it up: working towards that beach body, fitting into those new jeans or wanting approval from your peers, all fall into extrinsic motivation. It is an award from the outside which is out of our control. Intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, comes from the pure joy of doing it. It is a matter of personal fulfilment, which is entirely up to us and our mind.

I asked Ismail, the surf instructor, why he spent so much time surfing. ‘It’s only happiness. You go in the water with a problem in your head but come out with nothing but happy feelings. I just love to surf, always have.’

Talking to various people who have continuously advanced their fitness level in a certain area, it seems like passion and consistency are the key factors, rather than relying solely on extrinsic motivators.

At the end of the day, it is up to each one of us to find out what works best. Most common seems to be a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic motivations to keep us going.

The magic link of mindfulness and fitness

Fit
Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

Brian Grasso, author of Mindset Matters Most, says that mindset “refers to the stories you tell yourself, about yourself”.

While our mind can be our greatest fan, it can also be our greatest hurdle. We decide the role it plays and how it shapes our perception of reality.

As Buddha once said:

We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.

So how will mindfulness lead our way to a fit lifestyle?

If goals such as a number on the scale, fitting into jeans again or decreasing our body-fat-percentage do not motivate us, we should take a closer look at our mindset.

We must move away from numbers and towards the goal of making workouts a time of pleasure and most importantly, a habit.

If you hate the sticky air at the local gym, try and go for a run. If you do not enjoy the exhaustion, try a dance course with some friends. And if you feel like no workout has brought you any joy, try something new. The options are countless: climbing, cycling, swimming, volleyball, soccer, basketball, hockey…

We should spend some time on figuring out what we enjoy doing, what we do not, and why.

Once you have found one or more sports, make it a habit to work out regularly.

Believe in yourself and find joy in the exercises. Being mindful during your training will help you to identify moments of happiness. They might be a runner’s high, your team winning a match, or lifting that extra weight that seemed impossible a week ago.

When we are mindful about our feelings while working out, we can consciously create a joyful habit.

Suddenly, we will actually look forward to getting off of the couch and becoming our personal fit.

Tell yourself the right stories. Tell yourself: You are fit.

How these realizations turned my lifestyle upside down?

fit
Photo by Allison Heidrich

Out of frustration with myself, I felt like I needed a drastic change. I was sick of being lazy and thus came the spontaneous decision to go to Morocco for one week.

Seven days of surfing and yoga.

Forcing myself into this new situation, I finally found joy in working out again.

Now that I am back home, I still do yoga every day, my love for running is suddenly back and I am even hitting the gym again.

Realizing that I was doing it for myself and not with the goal to please anyone else, was the first step. Then realizing that I had to find joy in the actual exercise was the next step.

And now, I am making it a happy habit. I am becoming my own fit.

What are your thoughts on ‘being fit’? How would you describe the role of media when it comes to body image? How do you motivate yourself to keep going? What kind of sports do you enjoy?

Share your thoughts, spread some knowledge and be a motivation 🙂

The Battle of Feminism and Why I Never Called Myself a Feminist

Feminism

Strong. Powerful. Overrated. Necessary. Equality. Confusing. Future. Truth. Unpleasant. Empowerment. Brilliant. Reasonable. Change. Rights. Judging. Cool.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apfuqpFQPmg[/embedyt]

Misunderstood.

Feminism – One term, many emotions, many associations, too much confusion. I won’t try to give you a definition of this term, because frankly, I don’t have one, I’m not even sure if there is one right definition.

But here is my story: an attempt to raise awareness, to spark discussions, to get people thinking.

It was a windy Tuesday afternoon in Melbourne. With a cup of coffee in front of me, I found myself amongst hundreds of students, waiting for a speech on equality. A young woman stepped behind the microphone and the room went silent. She introduced herself and started to give a talk that would open my eyes in ways I never thought possible.

Before I continue, you have to know this: For a very long time, I would not talk about feminism. I didn’t know enough about it to raise my voice, I thought. It would only be a pointless discussion, I thought. I was not a feminist anyway, I thought.

But that day, something inside me changed.

On that Tuesday, a young women shared her experience as a leader in a ‘male-dominated’ industry and the inequalities that are still part of our everyday lives. I came to the realization that it was time to learn and to speak up.

I want to talk about this misleading term “feminism”, about equality, about the truth, for men and women.

And above all, about freedom.

Where The Term ‘Feminism’ Came From

Before going into the discussion of what the term means today, I’d like to take you back in history. It’s a brief journey through three waves of feminism, each reflecting different ‘feminist goals’, struggles and directions of the movement.

First Wave – The Right to Vote

In the 19thcentury women in the UK and the United States started to raise their voices: They wanted equal contract and property rights. By the end of the 19thcentury, however, their activism focus turned towards political power and they started fighting for equal rights to vote. Although women in the United States were granted the right to vote in 1919, women in Saudi Arabia have only had the right since 2015.

Second Wave – Women’s Liberation

Feminism
Photo by Sam Burriss on Unsplash

In the 1960s and 1970s, people started to question traditional power structures of society. Equal rights on paper existed in some countries but oppression was still present in reality: Women earned less and faced immense difficulties entering a career. While learning more about the second wave feminism, the writings of Simone de Beauvoir caught my attention. One quote in particular:

“The point is not for women simply to take power out of men’s hands, since that wouldn’t change anything about the world. It’s a question precisely of destroying that notion of power.”

People strove for a movement towards true equality. It wasn’t about putting anyone on the throne, it was about getting rid of the throne that had caused discrimination and oppression in the past decades.

A new argument that was raised during this wave, was the lack of minority voices in the women’s movement. Gloria Jean Watkins pointed out that feminism has simply ignored influences such as race and class, failing to address diversity amongst women.

Third Wave – Freedom of Choice

Feminism

The wave from the 1990s to the present is also considered a response to perceived failures of the second wave. The discussion of wage gap, as well as the inclusion of minorities is still present.

But in general, women are now encouraged to define feminism for themselves – they should do whatever they think is right, instead of feeling pressured by the old feminist movement. Want to stay home with the children? Go for it. Want to become a leading CEO? Go for it. Want to bake cupcakes for a living and live with 8 cats? Go for it.

It’s about freedom of choice. It’s about the equal right for everyone to live the life that makes them happy. If it were only that easy…

Everyone seems to know better than the other what feminism is about today. There is not a single definition, not an agreement about the ‘goals’ and sadly, plenty stereotypes about the ‘perfect feminist’.

Feminism – Beyond Gender

Feminism

In some countries, women only have partial access to financial services and are not allowed to drive. As mentioned before, Saudi Arabian women have only had the right to vote since 2015!

It is important to realize that equality is still far away for many individuals.

Another important fact is that gender is not the only factor which causes different treatment of people. Our skin color, our religion, the language we speak, where we are from, who our parents are and even the way we look will influence the way we are treated, depending on where in the world we are.

In the book ‘The Second Sex’ Simone de Beauvoir shares a dream she has:

“I wish that every human life might be pure transparent freedom.”

Personally, I can’t begin to imagine the restrictions millions of women and men still face in the world and the inequalities they are confronted with every single day. I now know, that I will learn more about them though in order to support a movement towards a ‘free’ future. You can call it a feminist future, an equal future, an empowered future; the term we use doesn’t matter as long as we know what we believe in and what we stand up for

Today’s Misperception/ Why I never called myself a Feminist

Feminism

Feminism, to me, meant a lot of things, but not necessarily equality. I never called myself a feminist due to numerous misperceptions the media had created.

I thought I couldn’t be a feminist – I don’t go protesting, I don’t hate men, I don’t agree that the future should be female, I love to wear make-up and high heels, I just don’t fit into the box of today’s feminists.

But hold on, this box for the perfect feminist is absolutely ridiculous.

The media has done a pretty good job of creating it: throwing images at us of women protesting, burning their bras, wearing T-Shirts with quite offending slogans.

I wanted to learn more about this ‘movement’. So I did my homework and here is what I learned:

Emma Watson’s talk in front of the UN opened my eyes. Feminism is not about putting labels on people, it’s not about hating men and it’s most definitely not about treating women better than men. It is about the progress towards an equal world. It is about empowering each individual to live freely, despite gender, race or sexual orientation.

I don’t care what you call it. But fact is, we need a movement that works towards equality. Call it what you want.

3 Myths That Need to be Talked About

Men are not affected.

Feminism

Again, I would like to refer to Emma Watson’s talk at the UN. She made an important point: Men suffer from gender stereotypes too. In fact, in the UK, suicide is the number one killer of young men! The reasons can be argued about but how often are men looked down on when they seek help? How often do men not even dare to seek help because of the fear of society’s judgement? How often do men feel like they have to live up to certain standards?

Men are stuck in gender boxes, differently than women for sure, but they are affected.

So this goes out to the male readers in particular: Ask yourself, what is your role in this movement towards a more equal world? How will you work towards a future of freedom?

Wage gaps are not real.

Feminism

Getting less money than a person who is doing the exact same job is not fair. That is a simple fact. While factors such as age, experience and education are used by some people to explain or even justify this gap, I would like to give you some tough facts at this point. (I just want to note that these statistics focus on women of specific countries and do not even take into account minorities specifically or women in less developed countries!)

In 2017, women working full-time, year-round in Louisiana only earned 70% of what men were paid! In Australia, the full-time gender pay gap is still as high as 15.3%, equaling $253,70 less per week.

There has been progress, but if it continues to move at this speed, women will have to wait until 2119 for equal pay in the United States.

However, there is hope. Countries such as Iceland and Finland have scored above 0.84 on the Global Gender Gap Index in 2016 (where the highest possible score is 1 – equality).

Wage gaps are real though. All over the world.

We’ve made enough progress towards an equal world.

feminism

 

Yes, there has been a lot of progress and a strong movement towards an equal world.

Have we arrived at an end? After reading this article, I hope your answer is no.

There is a great need for education about this topic. Myths have to be clarified and above all, every single individual, women and men from every country, should find their role in this movement. We should learn about the problems others are facing, raise awareness, start discussions, be brave and thought provoking if we have the freedom to do so!

What now?

feminism

I won’t tell you what to believe in or what to call yourself. What I do ask everyone out there is to open your eyes to the issues people around the world are facing – men and women. Different cultures have different problems, different genders have different problems, every single individual faces different problems.

A problem none of us should be facing, is equality. And it is up to us, each and every one of us, to shape a future of freedom.

 

 

Big thank you to Jennifer Hinrichs for editing!

 

Why FOMO is Real – 3 Impacts It Has On Your Life

FOMO

For a long time, I thought FOMO was nothing but a hyped word among teens. I thought it was just a rather silly, over-used acronym – Fear Of Missing Out? Not me… One Saturday night, I realized that I was just as affected by it as a majority of us, especially millennials.

I had decided to stay in that night, it was raining and the thought of leaving the apartment did not make me happy. I was actually looking forward to finally having an evening off in my busy schedule. A break from my days that were made up of coffee with friends, uni assignments, work, gym, and the list goes on. I got myself a nice cup of tea, snuggled into bed and was ready for Netflix. I quickly picked a movie that seemed good enough and was ready to do absolutely nothing.

Ten minutes into the movie (which wasn’t as good as I had hoped), I got out my phone and found myself scrolling through Instagram. When that got boring, it was time to check out people’s stories. The movie was forgotten and I was lost in social media, thinking that everyone else in the world was having the time of their lives.

I know it’s ridiculous, but I’m pretty sure we’ve all been there: we feel frustrated. Why are we not doing those fun things? How come are we not part of that event? Why are we missing out?

FOMO is real. Social media triggers it and many people are not aware of the anxieties that come with it.

In order to make a change, we have to understand where the fear of missing out comes from and what we can do about it.

FOMO is an Ancient Fear Retriggered

FOMO

FOMO is short for ‘The Fear of Missing out’. It is a feeling that people of all ages and cultures experience in various situations. While the term FOMO was only coined roughly 15 years ago by a Harvard Business School MBA student, the actual fear has been around for longer.

Back in the days, when people roamed around to hunt, they had to know what was going on around them, around their families and the villages they lived in. It wasn’t about gossip or the latest deals, it was a matter of survival.

Not knowing the nearest source of water or the newest food source could lead to death. The fear of missing out, meant the fear of losing one’s life. The process of gathering information was of great importance.

This ancient fear or FOMO has been retriggered by a rather new addition to human life: Social media. Channels such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have developed into our main form of connection to our social network – we rely on it. Missing out on a whole day of Facebook will leave many of us stressed, anxious and with a feeling of not being in the know.

The Psychological View on Today’s FOMO

FOMO

Generally speaking, fear is nothing but our response to a threat or danger. In regards to FOMO, it is the response to the threat of missing out on something.

There is a part of our brain that triggers the feeling of being left out: the amygdala, a part of our limbic system. It decides whether a situation could pose a threat and makes us feel stressed whenever we feel like we’re not part of something.

Social media plays right into these feelings: we scroll, we compare, we are left frustrated. Competitive thoughts emerge and often leave us unwillingly stressed and restless. It thus has a great impact on our general well-being and our happiness.

Constantly comparing ourselves, our actions and decisions have become toxic hobbies for many of us. FOMO is part of our everyday thinking and our everyday lives. Our obsessive preoccupation with checking social media only increases these negative emotions.

This leads to an important issue: We spend more and more time focusing on online content of others, instead of our own present. We lose touch with the relationships that are right in front of us. Most importantly, we no longer take time to reflect on ourselves – our thoughts, behaviors and actions.

3 Ways FOMO Impacts Our Lives

We should have all come to a realization by now: FOMO is real. It is more than just a hyped acronym and we have to understand the impact it has on every one of us. The fear of missing out affects more than 50% of social media users and the effects are severe.

1. Anxious Mindset

FOMO

FOMO has a great impact on the way we think. It fuels the feeling of not being good enough, making wrong choices and leaves many people stressed or even depressed. Numerous studies on social media usage have argued that especially among teens, the fear of judgement is increasing while their self-confidence is shockingly low.

2. Life Dissatisfaction

FOMO

We start questioning our own decisions when we are constantly confronted with other people’s lives. It doesn’t just leave us with an anxious mindset, it decreases our overall satisfaction with life. We end up disappointed with our life, regret our decisions and get caught up in pure unhappiness. We are no longer grateful for the people we know, our job we thought we loved or the places we’ve been.

3. Commitment Problems

FOMO

We always feel like a better option might come around the corner. A house party on Friday? Great but there’s also a festival going on. Oh and this other friend is having a goodbye dinner that very same day. It takes forever to decide which ‘party’ to commit to and no matter which one we go for, we will question whether that was the best choice.

So what can we do?

FOMO

Especially through my travels, I have learned about the joy of missing out. The outback, where there is no phone reception, forced me to miss out. And guess what – I survived. I even enjoyed it.

I know it’s unrealistic to advise you to get off of all social media channels. That’s not going to happen. That’s not what has to happen in order to combat FOMO.

Instead, I encourage you to be aware of your feelings – the frustrations, the stress, the unhappiness when scrolling through your feed.

Do you notice a pattern? Great! Write it down and turn it into personal goals and motivations instead of letting it drag you down. Frustrated with all the travel bloggers? Maybe it’s time to save up for a dream adventure. Envious of the cool restaurants your friends went to? Get a group together and find a fun, new place.

The Joy of Missing Out

FOMO

We won’t stop sharing our personal lives on social media and our access to every second of what others are doing will most probably only increase over time. People want the world to know what they eat, where they go, who they are with. The degree of transparency on social media is scary and yet, something we cannot ignore,  change, or often resist.

In order to find joy in missing out, we should reduce our negative feelings and if possible, reduce the time we spend on social media. Put our phones to the side once in a while and invest some time into ourselves: drawing something, reading, going for a run. The goal is to stop for a moment. Step back and take a break from the toxic FOMO environment.

We’ve been looking around us for happiness for too long, it’s time to turn inwards and realize that it all comes from within.

FOMO is real, but it doesn’t have to be part of your reality.

 

 

 

 

Food Waste – How We’re Destroying Our Planet and Why We Have to Change

Food Waste

When we think of factors that harm the planet, cars, oil spills, power plants, and maybe even CO2 emissions from cows come to our mind. It seems obvious that these aspects speed up the process of global warming. But there is another, often overlooked cause that we should all be concerned about: food waste.

Food WasteAccording to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, 6.7% of all global greenhouse gases come from food wastage.

Doesn’t sound like much? Imagine this:

If food waste were a country, it would be the number 3 emitter of greenhouse gas in the world, right after China and the United States!

 

We overlook, ignore and don’t pay enough attention to the negative impacts. It’s time to raise awareness before it’s too late.

The Biggest Food Wasters

It’s easy to point a finger at others, blaming restaurants and farms, but just take a moment to realize that there are three other fingers pointing at yourself. We, the consumers, have the power to make a change. Our impact is greater than we think.

Farms

Food Waste

My sister spent a few months on a small farm, just an hour out of Perth. ‘It was a little orange farm in the middle of nowhere, the first time I worked as a fruit picker.’ She remembers, ‘The first days were not easy. The sun was either burning or rain was pouring down heavily, it didn’t matter, we had to clear the trees of every single fruit. After eight hours of hard work, 8 bins, the size of big dining room tables, had to be filled.’ Her features clouded with anger, ‘1/3 of the oranges went straight to the garbage!’ This waste of food occurs even before we have the chance to buy it. In fact, almost half of all vegetables and fruits produced go, just like the oranges, straight to the garbage (I’ll talk about the reason for this later on in the article).

Restaurants

Food Waste

I have worked in several restaurants and the amount of perfectly edible food I’ve seen landing in the garbage has been extreme. But surprisingly, restaurants are not the number 1 food wasters. While 40% of waste occurs here, it is still less than in our homes. However, this waste costs the American industries alone 57$ billion annually.

Homes

Food Waste

We, at home, waste the most food of all. 43% of food waste occurs in our own four walls! While it has a massive impact on the environment, our wallets also suffer: According to Selina Jull, a typical European household loses 900€ per year on wasted food and a US household over 1000$.

What Damage Do We Cause by Wasting Food?

While different types of damage are  caused when we throw away immense amounts of food, there are two points I would like to highlight.

Humans

Food Waste

Two facts stand out when looking at the world’s population.

  1. 3 metric giga-tons of edible food are wasted each year.
  2. At least 795 million people suffer from hunger.

So while 1 out of 9 people in the world are undernourished, we continue to waste food on a large scale.

The connection between those in need, and those that have too much, seems to be missing completely. There is an obvious distribution problem but luckily, companies such as copia are attempting to help us and make it easier for us to tackle the issue.

Environment

Food Waste
But the damage goes even beyond hunger and starvation:

we damage our planet in ways that cannot be reversed. The climate pollution caused by food waste is explained easily. Let’s just picture our typical Saturday supermarket stroll.

We’ve worked through most of the list. Next stop, bananas. Three, four? Maybe just a dozen, they’re on special and they’ll get eaten eventually, right? Into the basked they go.

But hold on.

What is needed to produce them?

Land, water, hard work, time and other resources.

How do they get to the supermarket?

Depending on where they are from, they have probably travelled more kilometers than we have in the past year.

And what about the 3 left over bananas ?

Turns out, 12 bananas were too many. Three of them end up on the counter, slowly but surely turning into brown mush. The thing is, they produce methane, which is 25 times more aggressive than carbon dioxide. What actually happens here is that the gas absorbs the heat of the sun, thus heating up the entire atmosphere – simply said: it speeds up global warming.

How Can We Waste Less Food?

Food Waste

The damage we are causing is extreme. But luckily, food waste is a problem that is comparatively easy to tackle for each one of us.

1. Know The Labels

Shockingly, 90% of America’s food waste is due to confusion about products’ expiry date. So here is a little reminder:

Best Before: This is NOT when you should toss food away. Until this day, the producer guaranties highest quality. After that, it’s up to you to decide whether a product is still enjoyable.

 Use By: You should eat it before this date! After, the consumption is no longer advisable due to health risks.

2. Conquer Fridge Confusion

We often don’t know what’s in the mysterious depths of our fridge. Try to stay on top of it. If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant, you’ve probably heard of the FIFO rule. First in, first out. It’s a simple food rotation system: label your food products with dates and store the older items in front (what went in first, will go out first). Don’t let that good piece of cheese disappear into the dark corners of your fridge where you’ll forget it and eventually toss it into the bin.

3. Susceptible in Supermarkets

Food Waste

I do this all the time – I go to the supermarket with no list, an empty stomach and am susceptible to every special. The result? A basket full of things I like to eat BUT which will definitely not  add up to a proper meal .Also, I simply buy way too much. We should all try to shop in a smarter way. How? With a meal plan for the week, a shopping list and definitely a full stomach.

4. The Odd Bunch

When my sister told me about all the oranges that landed in the bin, the main reason was that they weren’t good enough for the market – too small, too big or not perfectly round.

Many supermarkets in Australia are now offering the “odd bunch” at lower prices. It is a bunch of imperfectly formed fruits and vegetables -the ones that should have e landed in the garbage, according to the guidelines.

We should support this, show some love for the odd bunches in the supermarkets and see if our local farmers have some odd bunches ‘to waste’. (We can save money AND contribute to reducing food waste.)

What Will You Change?

Food Waste

Food waste is destroying our planet. It is clear that a change needs to happen. Each one of us is part of the problem and can be part of the solution. I hope you will keep some of these things in mind when you go shopping the next time, when you go through your cluttered fridge and when you toss those brown bananas in the bin.

The damage is done, but it is not too late to turn things around.

We can change the world

We can fight hunger and slow down global warming.

We can stop wasting food.

 

Millennials: The 5 Paradoxes We Face

Paradoxes of Millennials

The other day on the tram, it was rather empty, there wasn’t much noise except for the voices of a complaining couple. They were in their fifties, the age of my parents. I couldn’t help but listen when I heard them talk about Millennials. He went on and on about the fact that all these young people were glued to their phones. She agreed, saying that it seemed as if they were addicted and full of themselves, sharing their whole lives on social media.

paradoxes of millennials

I am 22 years old. If you’ve done the math, you’ll realize that I was born in 1995. I’m one of those young people. I’m a Millennial.

One thing is for sure, we are more than the generation that is addicted to phones. We face issues no other generation had to deal with before. The paradoxes that are part of our everyday life, need some explanation. But before we look at our side of the situation, it is crucial to understand the development and characteristics of past generations.

What is a Millennial?

Roughly saying, a millennial is a person that was born between 1981 and 2001. However, it seems important to first take a closer look at the demographic cohorts of the past years. Their aim is to describe cultural groups and their characteristics which were shaped by the time they grew up in.

It all started with the Baby Boomers – the term originated from the immensely increased birth rate after the second world war. People born between the year of 1946 up to early/mid 1960 fall into this generation which is known for its strong work ethic. As they grew up in a time of history that was rather turbulent, they learned to work hard and independently for success. Their goal-oriented mindset and competitive work ethic have led to their significant impact on the economy.

Paradoxes of millennials

What followed was Generation X, people born between 1965 and 1976. They were the first ‘latchkey’ kids, coming home to empty houses after school, having daycare and dealing with divorce. Especially divorce was an experience that shaped many kids’ lives: they grew up with a strong sense of responsibility, trying to make their families work, maturity was a necessity and education was highly valued.

Millennial Generations

Generation Y was the first generation confronted with radical development of technology. The people born between 1977 and 1994 grew up with a constant access to internet, cellphones and computers during their years of youth. Especially the fast pace of the internet had a significant impact on this early group of Millennials. It formed flexible characters, moving quickly along with trends in fashion and communication.

Now we come to my generation – Generation Z, the latter group of Millennials. The young people that the couple on the tram was complaining about. Born between 1995 and 2001, we cannot begin to imagine a life without internet, smartphones and a constant connection to the entire world.

While some call us internet savvy and optimistic, others call us selfish and narcissistic. Millennials seem to be a major point of discussion among all other generations, criticized and praised on various levels. Growing up as Millennial, it is time to talk about 5 major paradoxes we face, other generations might not understand at the first glance.

Top 5 Paradoxes

1. Our Social/Unsocial Nightmare

Paradoxes of Millennials

Technology has been a great advantage to us. It has made our lives easy and fast, especially, in terms of communication and connection. So yes, we do spend a lot ( a lot a lot a lot) of time on our phones.

Social media is a big thing to us Millennials, a life without? Hardly imaginable.

Our phones are with us at all times, we stay in touch via Instagram, Facebook, Whatsapp, you name it. As soon as we notice it buzzing, a red notification sign pops up and our reward system is activated – the happiness chemical dopamine is released.

This so called internet addiction, brings some problems: while we spend so much time on social media, we sometimes lose track of our real social lives. We’re very social on the phone, we will like your photos, share funny links, invite you to events but when you see Millennials together out for dinner, you might notice each one of them glued to their phone. Taking care of stuff, staying in touch with people, scrolling through endless feeds. Being social, yes, but unsocial at the same time.

It is difficult to keep a healthy balance and we are still learning.

2. Knowledge vs Information Overload

Millennials

Every  day, we produce massive amounts of data – 2.5 quintillion bytes to be a bit more specific. Can’t imagine how much that is?

This will make it easier to grasp: ninety percent of all data in the world, was produced within the last 2 years!

While it has never been easier to share knowledge on the internet, it has never been more difficult to find relevant information in the online world.

Whatever we want to know, we have at our fingertips within seconds. But Google doesn’t provide us with THE answer, no, we will be confronted with thousands of matches to our search. It is up to us, to figure out what really matters, without losing ourselves in the information overload.

3. Relationships – Big Opportunities, Little Success

paradoxes of millennials

Relationships is a tricky topic, not easy to generalize and yet, there are some trends we’re facing that cannot be denied.

Online platforms and mobile apps give us the opportunity to meet a partner anywhere in the world. Simply selecting some personality characteristics, matching future plans and hitting the search button and voilà, there is the online catalogue of perfect partners. The paradox of this simple concept? Instead of finding perfect partners, many Millennials end up with trust issues and low self-esteem. Relationships don’t last long anymore. The thought of finding THE one is shrinking by the second even though we have a world of options only a click away.

4. Millennials Want It All. They Want It Now.

If you haven’t heard of Simon Sinek, I highly recommend watching the following video, before reading on. Although I don’t agree with every single aspect he mentions, he makes some very good points.

When it comes to Millennials’ expectations, believe me, they are high. We want the best, and we want it now. As Sinek points out, it is not our fault alone though. Our parents tend to tell us that anything is possible, that we can achieve our wildest dreams, if only we believe in ourselves.

We often learn the hard way, that without hard work, nothing will happen. And yet, our high expectations function as a great motor once we learn how the real world works. Here is the point I disagree with Sinek: Many of us Millennials do know how to work hard. We fall a few times but get back up, taller than before. Start-ups would not happen if there weren’t people with high expectations, innovations would take longer and most importantly, people wouldn’t dare to go beyond the limits they were taught.

We want it all and we do want it now, but that only means that we will start today, fulfilling expectations we have towards ourselves and towards our work.

5. Somewhere Between Narcissism and Low Self Esteem

paradoxes of millennials

Millennials love to present themselves. You’ll see our photos all over Instagram and Facebook. You’ll see what we had for breakfast, lunch and dinner, which gym we go to, who our friends are and you can basically be part of our holiday, following every second of our travels. It sure does seem like we love ourselves at the first glance.

Did you know, that many of us suffer of low self-esteem? While we put ourselves out there, we fall into a trap of constantly comparing ourselves to everyone; To the photo shopped models, to the gym freaks, to the guy that has 7 Maseratis in his garage, to the girl that does nothing but blogging about her new clothes. We are constantly confronted with people that seem to have better lives than us. We end up feeling frustrated and simply not good enough.

To give you a few numbers:

  • 7 in 10 girls think they aren’t good enough
  • 63% of boys feel a pressure from outside to look a certain way
  • 85% of the world’s population is affected by low self esteem

It might seem as if we were a very narcissist generation. We seem to present ourselves constantly, but there is more behind pretty pictures and happy smiles that no one talks about.

millennials

We are the generation of technology, thus confronted to a number of paradoxes no other generation had faced before. While it is always easier to judge and blame, it is from great importance to look at the other side of the story, at the bigger picture. I hope the couple in the tram will realize that one day. I hope that they will be able to understand our generation a bit differently at some point. If you’re a millennial reading this, I hope you find some time to add your thoughts in the comments below. We are the generation, and if we don’t explain paradoxes we deal with every day to the rest of the world, we will be confronted with criticism and little understanding continuously.

How to fight Consumerism?

How to fight Consumerism

I personally like how people pretend that they understand everything that is going on in the world. Almost every person I spoke to regarding global topics that influence our society, EVERY person always gives an answer. Quality of the answer does not matter much, as far as it makes sense to his own human brain. No, this is not mockery from my side, this is the reality. Ever heard of the Moscow rules? “Once is an Accident, Twice is a Coincidence, Three Times is a Pattern”? People are spreading their ideas at a fast pace, some people would compare it with cancer… I will not do it of course.

Where was I? oh yeah… Consumerism… What is Consumerism?

“Consumerism is a social and economic order and ideology that encourages the acquisition of goods and services in ever-increasing amounts”

People are very much involved in this consumption of goods. Different goods. Goods that were not even consumable few decades ago… We started converting things into products due to the major laziness of our society. Remember how we used to peel bananas ourselves? Well, now think of the peeled and cut banana in the store… Want to hear the saddest part? People are buying it… There is no wrong in the selling or buying it, the problem lies much deeper than that. The change is society encourages this excessive consumption.

Humans are cancer

Personally, I like to think that we are all civilized thinkers, we use our inner rationale to make decisions, and we believe that being logical will make our decisions make sense. This might be true to a very small amount of population; the rest is just lying to themselves. Majority of our society (at least one out of two genders. Ooohhhh….) is subconsciously still driven by an impulse and emotional decision making. Another half of the population tries to prove their dominance and masculinity, yet crying in the shower every other night in a fetus position.

That small group of people who understands this societal behaviour converts everything around us in order for us to spend money, show off and make someone else jealous. We are too full of ourselves! The problem with that, according to Rees and Hern, is that it fails to recognise that the physical resources to fuel this growth are finite. “We’re still driven by growing and expanding, so we will use up all the oil, we will use up all the coal, and we will keep going till we fill the Petri dish and pollute ourselves out of existence,” he says.

We are the insecure society

Some people would agree with me that we live in a world which is ironic in its core. Some issues are so rhetoric, even we as “civilized thinkers” know the solutions. Regardless that understanding, we still are racing with this consumer spree, and are still enslaved by this artificial status that defines us by what we consume.

As an Internet Marketer myself, I want to believe that fast-evolving advertising industry delivers more value than harm to the consumers and people. This is true from a business perspective where generating money is goal number one, but let us think 20 years into the future. I am honestly scared of how our society is going to look like…

 Solution for Consumerism?

The first step is to understand that society indeed has a problem? Cliché isn’t it? The hope is that governments will stop being greedy and understand that this extensive consumerism and never-ending economic growth is incompatible with the finite material resources has to offer. Without a strict control, this destruction of our society will continue. II always try to think long-term, not 5 years, but around 20-30. This long-term perspective can completely turn around the thinking process and let us think “outside the box”. People must learn how to live in balance with each other and nature.

There are many international organizations which are fighting for global justice and equal distribution of wealth. They believe that leadership of the country must act in collective interest for the future of our society rather than show their competitive instincts. One of such organizations is Avaaz, check them out.

Who is to blame for Consumerism?

shame shame

Advertisers! Marketers! Online Marketers! Me as well I suppose. Advertising feeds us on every social platform and any page on the internet and makes us want to acquire that new iPhone X! Fighting advertising can be more tricky, as at the moment we are all thinking about how to make advertising more targeted, reach more people and generate more leads. See what I mean? We are not thinking about what this extensive bombarding is going to lead to in 20 years from now.

What would be the fix? Well.. In a perfect world, it would be anti-marketing and make consumerism shameful. “Advertising is an instrument for construction of people’s everyday reality, so we could use the same media to construct a cultural paradigm in which conspicuous consumption is despised,” – William Rees. “We’ve got to make people ashamed to be seen as a ‘future eater’.” He says.

SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!

Why Is Spotify Losing Money?

Spotify

Something that never seems to stop evolving is music and the way we hear it. Look one hundred years back and you’ll see that a lot has changed. Depending on who you ask, some people feel that it’s changed for the better and some for the worse. Regardless of people’s taste in music, we can all be happy with the fact that there are so many ways to be able to listen to your favorite songs and artists. Thanks to Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, Deezer, etc. we have access to a humongous music database. Thanks to these music streaming services there is no need to make sure you have enough space to be able to hold all your songs. However, let’s focus on Spotify, one of the fastest growing music business to date.

How does Spotify work?

Spotify was founded more than ten years ago, the application was officially launched in 2008 and is now making more than two billion dollars of revenue every year. Spotify works under a very known business model called freemium. Freemium is a model where the service or application you are using is free, however, you can get additional features if you pay a subscription fee. Spotify does this by offering their paying customers an advertisement free service and increases songs bitrates to 320 kbit/s. In other words, they offer better song quality.

 

Spotify statistics

They’ve managed to get 60 million people to pay the subscription fee. An impressive number which becomes insignificant when you find out that there is a total of 140 million Spotify users. This means that not even half of their users are actually paying for their services. On top of this Spotify pays millions of dollars in royalties to the different artists that have their content on their platform. The money per stream is the same for all artists on the platform. It doesn’t matter if you are a small or big artist, the rate will stay the same. Only the contract the artist has with their record company will change how much money each streamed song will go to their pockets.

If we add all of this together we will see that Spotify is losing a lot of money. The core of their business, of their idea, is actually ruining them. We listeners are listening too much and therefore costing them too much. This isn’t only a problem with Spotify but also with other freemium music streaming applications.

What about making Spotify like Apple Music? 

Apple Music vs Spotify

This will not happen. Why? It completely negates Spotify’s initial idea of being able to offer music to people for free. To give small artists the platform to reach people from all over the world. Streaming is the future of music and if they start charging, people will just go to the next free streaming company. The difference between Spotify and Apple Music is that Apple wants to make money. Apple doesn’t believe in free music which I respect but at the same time, this makes their services very exclusive. This is also why Apple Music still hasn’t surpassed Spotify on the amount of users. However, how can we know if Apple Music will still be profitable in the coming years? We’ve even seen Tidal, another pay only music streaming company, post huge losses recently. The way people see it, music streaming companies will always be doomed from the start.

What now? 

Spotify’s next plan is to expand into other content. They are making deals with different artists to release exclusive albums, music documentaries, videos, etc. Furthermore, they have acquired different companies that help them track their users’ playtime on their platform to, therefore, create personalized content for them. Showing you concerts near your area and redirecting you to a ticket seller, artist merchandise and music related videos are other tactics they are using. However, the biggest move would be going public at the New York Stock Exchange. It’s been rumored for quite some time that this will happen. It’s a risky move that could either save them or completely ruin them. Only time will tell if this plan will be enough to take Spotify out of the profitless world they are living in.

New York Stock Exchange

 

Human Rights is a Beautiful Theory

Fundamental on almost every constitution of sovereign countries, is the bill of rights. Human rights organizations are all over trying to fight for rights which as supposed in our society should be the bottom line of everything. Human rights is a very important factor if people are to live in peace and harmony. It keeps us in peace so we may perform our duties gracefully without harming fellow citizens and being destructive in one way or another. These days in our societies  we see that these rights being applied selectively. Based on social class, social media reputation, credibility, authority or how loud the person complains or yells… Paradox… One question always lingers in my mind; are some people’s rights more superior than mine or yours?

There are those news pieces which no one knows about or sees. A great example would be a popular politician in Kenya, (country located in East Africa just in case you thought Africa is a country), even after being suspected to have shot and killed his son, he was still walking free as if no crime had been committed. The area OCS (Officer Commanding Station), accompanied with a few officers, peacefully raided his home and found the aged politician resting at his home. They waited as he prepared himself to accompany them to write a statement at the nearby police station. This reminded me of the cheap movie scenarios with actors who are friends of the cleaner. The police officers, seemingly receiving orders from this murder suspect, trailed as he rode his vehicle to the police station. He even had guts to stop at a nearby shopping center and buy himself some goods before proceeding with his journey to the police station. This was on TV, public saw it… But what can you do?

At the police station he wrote a statement and despite the police department having credible evidence against him, they let him go. They even provided him with escort, comparable to the ones offered to dignitaries, on his way back home. Obama back in the days would have been very jealous looking at this guy.

Many times we see on live TV police arresting law offenders and people like you and me who missed the trash bin or jaywalked. We are not even given a chance to speak out. We are hurriedly handcuffed, surrounded by a dozen of police officers albeit ourselves being unarmed, driven to police stations and locked up in cells waiting trial which might take some days or even months. In many situations people who got behind bars are not even informed why they are being arrested, until the police will apologize if they will not find anything or will create a story, just because their office job is super boring and screwing up people is an entertainment for them (Eastern European speaking here). You are only told to remain silent while being brutally arrested by mean officers and they call that a right. I guess this is the most applicable right to normal citizens. It is one of the rights used without hesitation (United States is a different story).

Politicians are seen day in day out breaking laws and codes of conduct. In political rallies all they talk about is hate speech and inciting comments yet no police officer dares to arrest them. They are involved in corruption scandals yet they are the ones we entrust to sit in finance committees, investigation committees, making laws of the country, passing the budget and we even gave them the power to amend laws. Even when they have lawsuits against them, they are often bailed out, the jury takes years to decide on their cases often times ending up to dismiss the cases on lack of evidence. The few times that judgment is passed against, it is usually a reduced jail sentence or fines. Do we have normal citizens and elite citizens? Are there superior rights and inferior rights? Are some people meant to enjoy rights more than the others? Is the bill of rights applied selectively? you tell me…

Boaty McBoatface will undergo first mission in Antartica

Boaty McBoatface

Remember last year when the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) decided it was a good idea to let members of the public suggest names for their new polar research ship? Maybe the name Boaty McBoatface will refresh your memory. We can put the blame on BBC Radio Jersey presenter James Hand and the lovely people surfing the internet. Some time has past and it’s finally the time for Boaty McBoatface to make its debut in Antartica. However, there should be one thing you should know, or if you already know then remember, about Boaty McBoatface. Boaty isn’t a boat.

After the online poll backfired, the NERC decided to play dictator and released a statement saying that they would have the say on the final name regardless of what the top name on the poll was. They used that power and decided to name the actual polar research ship after the naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough. I must admit that it’s not as exciting as Boaty McBoat face. However, this boat is a Sir, how cool is that. The NERC was not all too evil and decided to give the Boaty McBoatface name to a new type of autonomous underwater vehicle (UAV).

RRS Sir David Attenborough
RRS Sir David Attenborough
Boaty McBoatface
Boaty McBoatface

The UAV will be able to travel under ice and reach depths of 6,000 meters (for the American folks that is about 19,500 feet). Boaty McBoatface will help researchers understand how the ocean is reacting towards global warming. A plus point for BoatyMcboat face is that the National Oceanography Center has created a cartoon of our yellow UAV friend to help teach children about ocean exploration.
You go Boaty McBoatface, make history my yellow friend!!

Boaty McBoatface Cartoon