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Getting Rid of Muscle Soreness After Working Out

Stepping into the gym can be a massive ordeal for some people. Not only is it painful while you are there, but have left you in agony for days afterward. This can be a considerable deterrent for individuals who are out of shape. It prevents many of them from ever going to the gym in […]

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Fitness Through the Ages

Staying active is a very important aspect of better health. The main goal in life for many is to live a strong healthy life. Incorporating an exercise routine into your weekly schedule is going to make it easier to remember and stay on track after continuously making the conscious decision to keep it up. Below […]

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Best Superfoods to Lose Fat

Fat Burning Superfoods to Supercharge Your Diet Whether you are feeling guilty because of spending a little too much time perusing the delicious syrups, natural flavorings, purA(c)es, and gourmet sauces at, or you are just interested in living a healthier life, tons of people are getting into superfoods lately. There is a reason superfoods […]

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5 Sports Stars Who Became Vegan and Their Reason for the Diet Change

Our article aSome Vegan Options That May Help You’ discusses how vegan food facilitates good health. However, vegan food goes way beyond that by also being beneficial for physical activity and fitness. So letas discuss five sports stars that have made the switch to a vegan diet and how this has helped their performance. Yolanda […]

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What To Do If You are New to Fitness?

There is a lot of difference between thinking of starting and actually to workout. Working out is the best way to keep yourself fit and healthy. If you are a beginner and are just starting to workout then there are a few smart workouts that you can begin with to give a good start to […]

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What are Happy Feet Exercises?

Our feet are the most important part of our body. Our feet and calves are supposedly the donkey of our body as they take us places and they do most of the work throughout the day. It is important to keep our feet happy and fit in order to get more work done without getting […]

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Types of Liquid You Should Take to Remain Fit

All of us aware that water constitutes nearly 60% of our body. So it is imperative to keep your body hydrated if you wish for the proper functioning of all your organs.A Besides, it helps in regulating the body temperature, improves proper functioning of tissues and joints, and transports vital nutrients. So a minimum of […]

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Some Vegan Options that May Help You

In order to maintain a good health, you should focus on eating a variety of food items because it provides all the necessary vitamins and proteins needed by your body. You can add this list of multiple vegan foods in your diet, they help you prevent the diseases and provide the necessary vitamins. Green leafy […]

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Ways to Achieve a Perfect Workout Technique

Staying healthy and active is the utmost goal of every individual. But due to our increasing workaholic lifestyle, we are unable to maintain our body fitness, and as a result, we start suffering from various diseases at an early age. People now already start complaining about back pain or shoulder achein their 30s. This is […]

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How are Carbs Beneficial For You?

aIf you want a good body then cut down on carbs.a This is a sentence we often hear whenever we go to the gym or join any other workout practices. Well while some of us ignore this advice, there are some people who religiously follow this and cut down all the possible carb they can […]

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Best Workout Equipment for an Apartment

While you may want to find an apartment that has a fitness center, they arenat always worth the expense or they might not have all of the equipment that you need. Sometimes youall need to bring the gym to you, and that isnat always easy when you have a small apartment. Fortunately, there are plenty […]

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What is Dan Holzmannas Juice Plus and How Is It Made?

Do you know whatas the next best thing to eating vegetables and fruits is? Itas Juice Plus+. Available in gummy and capsule form, Juice Plus+ contains the juice of 30 different vegetables and fruits dehydrated at an extremely low temperature to maintain bioavailability and nutritional value of all the minerals, phytonutrients and vitamins we benefit […]

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Benefits of Staying High on Protein

Protein plays an essential role in building up your body by replacing dead cells and tissues. Protein is also necessary for the development of muscles and for smooth functioning of hormones. On an average, an adult womanas requirement of protein is 50 grams a day and that of an adult man is 60 grams a […]

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Rapid Weight Loss Hidden Dangers

Whatas the bargain for your Weight Loss Success? The desire to lose weight is common. But to lose weight or to lose weight quickly you have to make a bargain. It depends on what you choose will decide the value bargain, a good or bad bargain. Everyone has the desire to lose weight quickly, and […]

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10 Food Items for a High Protein Breakfast

A healthy breakfast is necessary for providing energy and satisfying your appetite.A The best breakfast is considered to be the one which combines good carbs and fibres. Here is a list of some best breakfast foods for giving a kick-start to your day. Cereal Cereals are available in many different types. However, the best combination […]

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6 Benefits Of Crunches

We all do intense workout every day to burn down calories and therefore, to keep ourselves healthy. We work on our abs but to get better results we also need to work on our core, exclusively made up of four layers; hip flexors, spine extensors, hip adductors, and hips abductors. Crunching is a composed exercise […]

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How to Exercise with Mobility Issues?

We are responsible for our own health as it is not something we could buy. As we age, older people start facing mobility issues due to several age-related chronic health problems. Therefore, daily exercising becomes of utmost importance to stay active. It can be difficult for people with limited mobility to perform adequate exercise, but […]

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3 Easy Ways to Build Your Muscles at Home

Building muscles is something everyone wants but the struggle is real. People always think that building muscles is a tough task and one needs to have a gym membership and a rigorous training for that. But it is not as tough as it seems. There are some smart tips and routines that you can follow […]

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How Beneficial Is Artificial Protein Intake?

If you have been hitting the gym or know friends that have, the aprotein shakea is something youare definitely familiar with.A Athletes swear by it, the fitness freak has made it a part of his/her diet and the vegans find it pretty convenient too, to ensure sufficient protein intake. Artificial protein, which mostly comes in […]

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Fitness Regime for Women with PCOS

Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD) or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a problem found in most women these days. In this syndrome, multiple (poly) cysts are developed inside the ovary. Cysts are essentially sacs filled with a fluid. Due to these multiple cysts inside the ovary, the size of the ovary grows larger than the normal. […]

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LeanLifteras Ring Protector Project

A couple years ago, I came up with a simple and effective wrap/cover for rings to protect against scratches. Basically, without protection, the ring is going to get ruined. But taking it off has a whole different set of problems (the hassle, the risk of losing it, PLUS your spouse is probably not the biggest fan of you being ring-less). Check out the post here for a refresher: ( The ring protector got lost in the shuffle of other ongoing projects, but I have recently gotten some help in getting it back on track. I plan on finally making a large scale order, but I want to get some user feedback beforehand. If any readers who have experienced similar difficulties with their rings could take a few minutes to answer some questions via the link below, it would be greatly appreciated. Stay tuned! Take Survey P.S.- Share with your friends!

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Ten Awesome Reasons To Do Complexes

Hereas a quick summary of the benefits of Lifting Complexes. If you missed part 1 or part 2, check them out.

Top ten reasons to do Complexes:

They burn a lot of calories
They are short

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Make Your Own Affordable Recovery Drink

I’m tired of paying so much for my recovery drinks. I train so much and consume so much that it gets really expensive. But modern recovery drinks really do have good science to back them up. The ratio of carbs to protein, the mix of carb types, the amino acid profile of the proteins, etc. have evidence of faster recovery. It’s not purely a gimmick. My two go-to have been Biotest Surge Recovery and Optimum Nutrition 2:1:1. They are solid products and taste great (especially the biotest). But they aren’t cheap and they also have other additives in them I want to avoid. So I set about to make my own. My rules: it had to have essentially the same profile as the mentioned alternatives it had to be powder (portable, can store for a long time, just add water) it had to be cheaper than the mentioned alternatives it had to have almost zero additives it had to not taste like an ash tray it had to mix well in just a normal shaker bottle Here’s what I came up with. Very simple. Mix two type of carbs:A 1 scoop maltodextrin and 1 scoop dextrose.A Add 1 scoop whey.A Ratio of twice the carbs to the protein. If you buy the right sizes, you can just dump the entire packages together to save time.A But you do need to mix it well in your tub and use a large storage bin. Simple right?A So what brands did I use? Specific Choices Two types of […]

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6 Tips to Do More Pull-ups & Chin-ups (part 2)

Last week, guest writer John Sifferman shared the first part of his advice on how to increase the number of pullups you can do.A A Have you started using his tips yet?A If not, click here for part one. A quick summary is: Tips for Beginners (0-5 Reps) In the beginning, the key to success is building skill-specific strength by practicing proper technique often. 1) Choose the right pull-up progression for your strength level. 2) Practice the hardest progression that you can do with excellent technique as often as possible. Tips for Intermediate Trainees (6-15 Reps) 3) Grease the groove for rapid, short-term results. 4) Focus on the following three types of workouts. a) Max-Effort Pull-up Workouts b) Pull-up Pyramid Workouts c) Pull-up Endurance Workouts Suggestion: do the three workouts listed above once per week for 4-6 weeks (i.e. a total of 3 pull-up workouts per week). But what if you can already do 10-15 reps and want to become a true pullup (or chinup) superstar?A John has some new tips just for you.A Here is Part 2: Enter John My Top 2 Tips for Advanced Trainees (16-20+ Reps) 5) Increase volume and intensity to improve your strength-endurance. If you’re in the 15-20+ reps range, you are well past earning any newbie gains and you’re probably nearing your maximum ability without using weights. Said another way, it will soon be difficult to add more reps to your max without increasing your max strength. And the best way to do that is with weighted pull-ups. However, after […]

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6 Tips to Do More Pull-ups & Chin-ups (part 1)

I get a ton of questions online as well as from my in-person trainees about chinups and pullups.A There are a lot of people out there still trying to get their first legit chin.A Maybe that’s you.A Maybe you aren’t comfortable admitting it.A It’s odd because some really strong men and women sometimes struggle with chinups and especially pullups. As a reminder, chinups are when your palms are facing you after grabbing the bar, while pullups are when your palms are facing away from you.A Pullups generally make less use of the biceps which is why they are usually harder. I’ve written about these before, and I created a system I use for in-person trainees to help them progress. I recently discovered John Sifferman’s work, and it turns out he’s got videos and a great ebook write-up that is similar to my system.A I can tell you this works.A You have to be dedicated, but it works.A I asked John to write an article for you and he ended up over-delivering!A It’s so packed that I’ve split it up into two parts.A Here is part one. Enter John Pull-ups and chin-ups are some of the best exercises for the upper body, but many people struggle to get better at them. So, in this quick guide, I’ll give you some of my best tips for getting your first proper pull-up, building your rep numbers fast, and breaking through a plateau to reach 20-30 pull-ups and beyond (if you dare!). My Top 2 Tips for Beginners (0-5 […]

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Complexes for Fat Loss, Strength Retention, and Heart Health

In business, you need to run away from aget rich quicka schemes. Similarly, nearly all the promises in the fitness world fall short. Some are useless. Some are damaging. Many work, but they take WAY longer than promised before you get results (at least for most people). You may have heard about acomplexesa a catchy name, but itas really not a particularly new concept. The principles are rooted in good old track-and-field training. Do a reasonable amount of work in short, intense bursts, using full-body movements that involve some amount of explosive force. And donat overtrain. Reps, implements, rest periods, etc. all can vary. But again, nothing new here. So why are they popular aagaina? Because they actually work pretty much as advertised. Wanna burn a ton of calories without losing strength? Complexes are the ticket. Wanna get in some excellent conditioning but hate acardioa? Complexes are the ticket. Wanna cycle in some lower-load, high explosive sessions on arecoverya days from heavy lifting? Complexes are the ticket. Wanna get in some great training and only have 20 minutes? Complexes are the ticket. Wanna try something that has a lot of hype around it, but actually does what it promises (for the most part)? Complexes are the ticket. [I promise to never say aare the ticketa ever again, never ever. Really.] What are Complexes? The basic idea (of which there are hundreds of variations) is that you take a single implement with a fixed load (a barbell, a kettlebell, etc., even your own body would count […]

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What Is Carb Loading and When Should I Carbo Load?

It was September 21, 2013.A I was about 6 hours into the Spartan World Championship Beast, in Killington VT. I was bonking. No, not the fun kind.A Here I mean bonking as in “hitting the wall”, an unfortunate experience many endurance athletes experience. What was going on?A I’d done this event twice before.A Each was a slightly different (easier) course and I had completed in about 5 hours. But here I was at hour 6, not nearing the finish line, and I had no energy, no focus, and felt like quitting. At first I thought this was due to a poor training plan.A After all, I hadn’t trained for a 7+ hour event. Months later I realized, after experimenting, that a big culprit was my pre-event nutrition and my intra-event nutrition.A In both cases, I had no plan.A I spent the months leading up to the event thinking only about training.A Not about how my nutrition before and during would matter. In retrospect, that was dumb.A I “knew” all about carb loading.A At least, I had read about it a ton.A And talked to marathoners who swore by it.A But I never thought I needed it. Fast forward to the September 20, 2014 Spartan World Championships.A I had successfully carb-loaded and had a great event.A Here’s what I learned… What Is Carb Loading? Let’s get some definitions out. Carb loading = carbo loading = carbohydrate loading = CHO loading = glycogen loading.A All these terms mean the same thing. Carb loading is the act of […]

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Technical Proficiency and Failure Training a How To Know When Itas Safe To Push To Failure

I just read a great article by Charles Staley that adds a whole new dimension to evaluating your experience level with lifting weights. A I’ve written in the past about how to rank yourself from Newbie to Pro but his take is refreshing and simple. The context here is about how close to failure you should go when weight lifting. A And tellingly, it depends on the lift in question. A If you are mechanically proficient at a lift, the closer you can get to muscular failure and still be safe. A If you are unstable as you fatigue or as you take on heavy loads, you really shouldn’t push to failure. A For isolation movements (single joint exercises), it’s pretty safe to push. A But I strongly recommend the vast majority of your routine revolve around the compound, multi-joint movements. Now, he mixes “fatigue” with “max weight” in his article, and he obviously knows better – those are two different phenomena.A The “way” you fail after doing 20 squats with a light load is different than how you fail going for a heavy triple.A That said, since most of the routines I recommend are in the 4 to 12 rep range, I think we can conflate the two issues just like he does. Proficiency Definitions From Charles Staley 1. Incompetent:A You don’t know how to, and/or aren’t able to perform the exercise properly. At this stage, you are just too new to the lift to load it properly and/or push yourself.A Practice with light loads is what you need to […]

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Plaschke: Face it, USC and UCLA belong in Big Ten after outgrowing decaying Pac-12

With players being paid, universities have to follow the money, and UCLA and USC are making a smart move by leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten Conference.

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How To Overcome a Fear of Dealing with Money

Millions of people around the world struggle with anxiety and fear when it comes to their finances.

This fear can manifest itself in many different ways, like overspending, refusing to open bills, or panicking at the sight of your bank account balance. It can cause a lot of stress and can even lead to depression.

Are you afraid of not having enough money? Are you afraid of losing what money you have? Are you afraid of not being able to provide for yourself or your family?

These are all valid fears. But dealing with them can be difficult and sometimes overwhelming.

If you're struggling to deal with your financial stress, there are some things you can do to overcome it.

This article will provide you with some of the best ways to deal with fears around money and how to conquer them for good.

Why should you try to overcome your fear of finances?

There are many reasons why you might want to try to overcome your fear of finances.

For one, money is a big part of our lives. It's something that we have to deal with on a daily basis, whether we like it or not.

Secondly, fear can be very debilitating. It can hold us back from achieving our goals and living the life we want to live.

Lastly, dealing with your fear of finances can be empowering. It can help you take control of your life and feel more confident and capable.

Identify your fear

The first step to overcoming your fear is acknowledging that you have a fear in the first place.

This may seem like an obvious solution, but oftentimes people try to ignore their fear or act like it doesn't exist.

If you can't acknowledge that you have a fear, you can't begin to deal with it. Acknowledging your fear is the first step to taking control of your finances.

Some ways to do this are by identifying your fear, writing it down, and talking to someone about it.

Identify your fear

This fear can manifest itself in many different ways.

For example, you may be afraid of not having enough money, of losing money, of not being able to save money, or of never being able to retire.

These are all valid fears that can hold you back from taking control of your finances.

Writing it down

Once you've identified your fear, the next step is to write it down.

This can help you to better understand your fear and what's causing it.

Writing it down will also help you to see your fear in a different light.

Sometimes, seeing your fear in black and white can help you to realize that it's not as big or as bad as you thought it was.

Talking to someone about it

If you're still struggling to overcome your fear, talking to someone about it can be a big help.

This can be a friend, family member, financial advisor, or therapist.

Talking to someone about your fear can help you to understand it better and can also give you some great tips on how to overcome it.

Once you've acknowledged your fear, you can begin to understand what's causing it.

Understand your fear

There are many different things that can cause a fear of finances. After all, money is a very emotional topic and it can be scary to think about not having enough money or losing what you already have.

If you've always avoided dealing with your finances, it can be very hard to break that habit. It can also be tough to know when this fear started or what's causing it.

Some common reasons for a fear of money are:

These are all valid reasons for having a fear of finances.

The important thing is to understand what's causing your fear. By understanding the root of your fear, you can begin to deal with it at the source.

Once you understand what's causing your fear, you can begin to take steps to overcome it.

Take action to face your fear

The best way to overcome a fear is to face it head on.

At this point in the process, you should have a good understanding of your fear and what's causing it.

Now, it's time to take action. This may seem like a scary prospect, but it's the best way to deal with your fear.

Some examples of how to face your fear of money are:

These are all great steps to take to face your fear of money. But it the best options for you will depend on your specific fear and situation.

The important thing is to start a productive habit in the right direction.

Remember, the goal is to take small steps at first. You don't have to do all of these things at once. Just pick one or two and start working on them.


If you're struggling with a fear of money, know that you're not alone. Many people have this fear and it can be tough to overcome. It can also stunt your financial growth and keep you from reaching your financial goals.

I've found that fears surrounding money typically stem from an anxiety about the future or bad experience in the past. Whatever the reason for your fear, the best way to deal with it is to face it head on.

Start by acknowledging your fear and understanding what's causing it. Then, take action to actively address it. This may seem difficult at first, but it's the best way to make real progress with your finances.

By following these steps, you can begin to take control of your fear and start dealing with your finances in a healthy way. Just remember to go at your own pace and to take small steps at first. Over time, you'll be able to overcome your fear of money for good.

Stephen Rozo is the founder of, a blog about how to start a profitable rental property. He knows firsthand the challenges and rewards that come with owning a rental property and now dedicates his time to providing tips to new real estate investors. His goal is to give readers the best information on how to grow their monthly income with real estate.

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3 Life Experiences That Lead to Entrepreneurial Success

By Margot Machol Bisnow, author of Raising an Entrepreneur- How to Help Your Children Achieve Their Dreams; 99 S%tories From Families Who Did

Entrepreneurs are often asked, aWhatas your secret to success?a Answers range from risk-taking and a self-starter mindset to curiosity and imagination.  But where did these traits come from, and what conditions enabled the entrepreneurs to develop them to their full potential?

This is the question I set out to answer in writing my book Raising an Entrepreneur- How to Help Your Children Achieve Their Dreams; 99 S%tories From Families Who Did.  I interviewed a very diverse group of seventy successful entrepreneurs including Jon Chu, director of Crazy Rich Asians; Paige Mycoskie, founder and owner of clothing company Aviator Nation; Thomas Vu, lead producer on League of Legends; Dhani Jones, former NFL linebacker who went on to host a TV show, co-found a creative agency, and chair an investment fund; and superstar chef and sustainability advocate Nyesha Arrington.

The group was made up of half men, half women, from every race and religion. Every socioeconomic background was represented; there were big families and small families; they came from big cities and small towns; and they had parents who hadnat gone to college to parents with advanced degrees.  Some were born in the U.S., others were born overseas or had immigrant parents.

They went into very diverse fields: They started big companies with a wide range of products and services; they started innovative non-profits and profit-for-purpose that are changing the world; they became artists like movie directors and songwriters writers; and they became activists, fighting for causes they believe in. They fit my definition of an entrepreneur: They are all people who started something.

While I made dozens of eye-opening and heart-warming discoveries about their lives and backgrounds, I also learned a to my surprise a that they all shared three underlying experiences shaped by their families from the time they were children.

They pursued and mastered a passion when young. 

As children, they found a passion and were encouraged by their parents to pursue it a regardless of what it was.  The key word in that sentence is atheya a it wasnat something their parents loved, or their parents thought their kids would love. Itas something the kids chose themselves. And because they loved it, they worked really hard at it. And because they worked really hard, they got really good. They were praised for their effort, not their results. So they worked really hard and they learned the trade-off between hard work and results. They developed grit, defined by Angela Duckworth as apassion plus perseverance toward long-term goals.a And that led to their becoming supremely confident.

People often say, aOf course entrepreneurs are confident; itas because they are successful.a But I strongly believe it is the reverse: They are successful because they are confident. And their confidence stems from having mastered their chosen passion when they were young. Their passions included computers, music, acting, student government, chess, and for many, sports. Their intense pursuit of success in these activities taught them grit, determination, and resilience, which led to developing their confidence.

            Simon Isaac was an All-American skier on the Olympic development team. He co-founded Fatherly, a popular daily on-line newsletter, and today, heas the CEO of TaskForce, one of the worldas top content creators, with over forty-five billion views during the election.

            ElizabethMcGee Gore was the national equestrian champion. Sheas the co-founder of Hello Alice, a free artificial intelligence platform to help businesses launch and grow.

            Eric Ryan raced on the sailing team at the University of Rhode Island. Heas the co-founder of Method products, which makes environmental cleaning products; Olly, which makes healthy vitamins and supplements; and Welly Health, which makes fun bandaids.

            Radha and Miki Agrawal were known as the legendary soccer twins when they played at Cornell. The twins are serial social entrepreneurs who have co-founded five disruptive companies (including Daybreaker, Thinx, Tushy) worth half a billion dollars.

They became risk takers because they were not punished for failure or mistakes. 

As Billie Jean King says, aWe donat call it failure; we call it feedback.a The entrepreneurs I interviewed were never punished for failing; the parents said, aWhat did you learn? What would you do differently?a Nor were they punished for making mistakes. They had to fix what they had broken or the problem they created, but they werenat made to feel bad that it had happened. They learned that when they worked hard at something and failed, and kept trying new approaches, eventually they would succeed. They learned that when they failed, they could work harder and smarter and keep trying, because eventually they would figure it out.

Fast forward to today: because they arenat afraid to fail, they arenat afraid to take risks a both of which are key to successful entrepreneurship.

            My son Elliott Bisnow fell in love with tennis when he was twelve, long after other serious tennis players were already competing in tournaments. He lost most of his matches for years, but eventually fought his way to thirty-five in the country in the juniors. He started Summit, a global company for entrepreneurs and creatives that has produced over two hundred fifty events in the last decade.

            Nia Batts and her best friend, actress Sophia Bush, co-founded Detroit Blows, an inclusive non-toxic hair salon in Detroit, helping to revitalize the downtown. It was a huge success, but during the pandemic it was forced to close. When Nia read that only two percent of venture capital dollars went to women, and the amount going to women of color was astatistically significanta she decided to pivot and became Chief Marketing Officer of Union Heritage Capital, the nationas leading minority-owned diversified financial services firm.

They were trusted and supported by their familiesaleading them to treat their employees like family.

The unconditional support from their families while they were growing up is reflected in their businesses today. They honor the differences among their employees. And whether the jobs are remote or in the office, they try to create situations where their employees want to spend time. The founders donat arbitrarily order around their employees. Just as in the homes where they grew up, the entrepreneurs take care of the people they work with. Even before stakeholder capitalism became popular, these entrepreneurs valued the interests of their employees and their community.

            Blake Mycoskie founded TOMS Shoes, the first one-for-one company, providing a pair of shoes to someone in need for every pair purchased. Blake says he called his approach to his job as the companyas leader, aservant leadership.a He told his top people to serve everyone in their group. And he willingly admitted his mistakes to show his employees that failure was acceptable. He says that aif you extend more trust than you might be comfortable witha|and even though those mistakes will come with a price, over the long term youall be paid back with interest.a

            Deena and Jess Robertson co-founded Modo Yoga, a community of independent hot yoga studios in the U.S. and Canada. They are committed to promoting ethical, compassionate living and a more sustainable, environmentally conscious world through their studios. Their motto is acalm mind, fit body, inspired life.a Modo Yoga was the first one-for-one yoga program, where every membership bought became a free membership for someone in an underserved community. The employees love that they are helping create more equality and diversity in the yoga community.

Itas never too early a or too late a to start. Even if you donat become an entrepreneur, becoming more entrepreneurial will help in whatever you do: It will help if you become more confident because youave mastered something you worked really hard at. It will help if you become more risk taking because youave learned not to fear failure.It will help if you become more considerate of people you work with.  Above all, itall help you become more successful at whatever you do.


Margot Machol Bisnow is a writer, wife, and mom from Washington, DC who speaks on raising fearless, creative, entrepreneurial kids who are filled with joy and purpose. She is the author of Raising an Entrepreneur: How to Help Your Children Achieve Their Dreams a 99 Stories From Families Who Did. Margot has a BA in English and an MBA, both from Northwestern, and spent 20 years in government, including as an FTC Commissioner and staff director of the Presidentas Council of Economic Advisers. Both her kids are now grown: Austin started a popular band, Magic Giant; Elliott founded Summit, a noted international conference series for Millennial entrepreneurs and creatives, and led the purchase and development of Powder Mountain ski resort in Utah as a permanent home for the Summit community. Her husband Mark was a late-blooming entrepreneur, and wishes his parents had read her book when he was growing up, so he might have started his company before he was 50. Margot is on the Board of Capital Partners for Education that mentors low-income DC-area high school kids.

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Five Reasons Why Restrictive Diets Do More Harm Than Good

If youare anything like the vast majority of the population, you started this year with one of these goals as a top priority: aget in shapea, alose weighta, aget fita or aget healthya.

I get it. For the longest time my Januarys started with a rigid healthy eating plan to get back in shape and lose the holiday bulge.

Having tried almost every diet imaginable, itas clear that most diets we follow do one of two things, they either restrict calories or restrict food groups. Even so-called itas not a diet but a lifestyles are still a diet because you cut the amount of food, or food groups (despite the marketing suggesting they arenat diets).

Diets aworka in the short term because in one way or another you are reducing the amount you eat. Whether thatas through counting calories or macros, limiting the time period in which you can eat, cutting out carbs or sugar, or aeliminationa diets. When you are eating less, the idea is that you will lose weight.

And for the most part we do, at least to begin with... Research shows that during the first six months of any diet (be it calorie counting or cutting carbs), the vast majority of people lose around 5-10% of their body weight.

So far so gooda| but thereas a dark side that people just donat talk about. In the long-run, restrictive diets actually do you more harm than good and hereas five reasons why...

#1 Diets donat work.

I know, I literally just told you that diets aworka in the first six months. But what about afterwards?  What about after 2 years or 5 years?  After all, if you start every January wanting to get back in shape and lose the holiday bulge, surely it would make sense to find a diet that works - for good - so that you never have to start again the following January.

The stats vary from study to study, but we can pretty confidently say that diets fail in about 80-95% of cases when participants are followed on their diets for longer than 6 months. 

Thatas a pretty high failure rate when you think about it - imagine popping into a shop to buy an appliance and the store owner telling you that thereas a high chance (80-95%) that the appliance will fail after 6 months? You just wouldnat buy it, would you?  

#2 Diets are the biggest predictor of weight gain.

Seriously. Going on a diet is the biggest predictor of gaining weight in the long run. Itas wild to think that we go on diets to lose weight, but actually weare more likely to put on weight over time.

The same research I shared above also shows that within 2-5 years, the vast majority of dieters have put weight back on, and in two thirds of cases are heavier than when they started. Thereas a lot of other research that corroborates this finding - yoyo dieting is also implicated in several negative health outcomes, including increased levels of cortisol and stress. 

Maybe restrictive diets should come with some sort of health warning?

#3 The diet industry wants you to fail - over and over

Whatas the best way to make money?  Repeat customers!

Howas this for a great money-making exercise? Offer your customers something that fails 80-95% of the time, and when it doesnat work you blame the customer (yes, itas your fault, your willpower is the reason it didnat work). Then, you make the customer feel so bad that they try a slightly different product, but this has an equally high failure rate and so your customer starts the diet-fail-repeat cycle over again. All the while you blame the customer when they fail, over and over again. 

Itas a GREAT way to make money (hence, multi-billion dollar industry), but terrible for your self-esteem, self-worth and feelings of failure.

#4 Diets mess with your biology

Diets mess with your hunger hormones. When humans face a famine (i.e. diet), they are biologically programmed to stay within a certain weight range (thatas called set-point theory), so your body does everything in its power to prevent you from losing too much weight.

One of the cleverest things your body does during a famine/diet, is make you feel more hungry by stimulating hunger hormones, and also makes it harder for you to feel full by down-regulating your fullness hormones. Itas exactly why you have an insatiable appetite when you are on a diet.

#5 Diets are a big predictor of eating disorders.

You may have been on several diets and itas never messed with your relationship with food. Thatas awesome and Iam so glad thatas the case. However, in many instances, diets create a very negative relationship with food.

Thereas a very fine line between diets and disordered eating. If you examine diets closely youall see that many of the recommendations are disordered - such as low calorie diets (1200 calories is less than the calorie needs of a toddler) and intermittent fasting which is really just skipping meals. 

In fact, the National Eating Disorders Association suggests that diets are a precursor to eating disorders.

So, you may be wondering then, if restrictive diets donat work and are bad for your health, what can we do instead to aget healthya? 

If you are officially ready to give up dieting, you can focus instead on health promoting behaviours that are related to long-term positive health outcomes (weight isnat a behaviour). These include:

Bottom line is, diets donat work. They can be considered disordered and the precursor to eating disorders. You are much better off focusing on eating a good variety of fruits and vegetables, ensuring you get 7-8 hours of sleep per night and moving your body regularly. 

Dr. Lara Zibarras is a psychologist and food freedom coach, helping clients create a healthy and happy relationship with food. You can learn more about Laraas approach to food freedom here, or find her on Instagram and YouTube.A

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How to Ask For What You Needa Without Guilt

By Sonya Jensen


Of all the hard emotions aanxiety, anger, regret, etc.-- guilt can be one of the most difficult to overcome. 

Guilt tells us that what we think, want to do or have done is wrong. 

Weave hurt someone or weave screwed up a chance at something. We just plain blew it! Thatas what guilt tells us but does that really mean weave screwed up? 

Our emotions can be what we define them to be. For many of us when we first ask for what we need or set boundaries we often feel guilta|but it could also be growth.

When we ask for what we need or say no to something, weare outgrowing our fear of being too needy. We may be outgrowing our fear of setting boundaries. We may be outgrowing everything weave done our whole lives to keep us feeling included, liked or even loved. 

Guilt is a healthy emotion to experience when weave done something wrong thatas hurt other people. Itas not that weare bad and will never recover like shame wants us to believe. 

However, guilt can be both a sign youare growing and an opportunity to step back and reflect. If we always assume that guilt is right and weave done something wrong weare likely to repeat old patterns of behavior that keep us locked in cycles that arenat healthy for us anymore.

To know the difference, we have to ask ourselves:

Is what I did aasking for what I need or setting a boundarya really wrong?

Or does it feel wrong because itas different from what I usually do? 

The hard truth is, people around us benefit from us having no boundaries and no needs. 

We need to learn to question what guilt is saying and change the meaning to be a sign of growth. 

Guilt may never go away but you can lessen its intensity and even meet yourself on the other side.

But your needs are important and sharing them clearly and positively helps teach people how to love you and be in a healthy relationship with you. 

What does it mean to state your needs positively? 

It means sharing them from the perspective of what you would like to see instead of what you donat want to see.

For example, letas say you have a need for more time together with your partner.

You could say, aWe donat spend any time together because weare so busy and I want you to plan date nights, too.a

You could also say, aI feel really close, connected and important to you when we each plan date nights and surprise one another.a

Guilt is an emotion that youall have to deal with as you continue to evolve, grow and change. 

Guilt is our bodyas way of keeping us safe and sometimes asafea means staying in patterns of behavior you know, whether or not you like it. 

You have to decide that having needs and sharing those needs are important and should be important to the people in your life who love you. There will be adjustments and feelings from others as you change and itas important to validate those feelings without necessarily making you feel like your change was wrong. 

Here is an example of validation vs agreeing with someone:

Hereas what it looks like when we validate someone elseas feelings: 

aI can see that me saying no to this activity hurt your feelings.a

On the flipside, hereas what it looks like to simply agree with someone (and bypass your own needs or boundaries):

aI feel so bad! Iave hurt your feelings. If it makes you feel better Iall do this activity with you because I hate to see you upset.a

Validation doesnat mean I agree but that Iam a human being who understands that when something doesnat go the way I want it to, that feelings get involved. 

You can overcome guilt by remembering that everyone deserves to have needs but that not all people can or should meet all of my needs. Weare each responsible for communicating our needs effectively.

By stating your needs and boundaries while still validating others feelings, the people in your life will work with you in honoring your needsa and vice versa. 


Sonya Jensen is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Gottman Method Couples and Sex Therapist. In addition to working on the ground with couples for nearly 10 years Sonya is an author, speaker and sought-after trainer. A candid voice for relationship health, Sonya believes  all people are worthy of a healthy, loving partnership and sheas here to be their guide. 

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The Power of an Infrared Sauna

Years ago, I co-created a show on Youtube called The Wellness Experiment for my old company LEAFtv. In each episode we would try out a new, and sometimes controversial, (hello V-steams!) wellness treatments. I remember, vividly, one of my favorite episodes, by far, was the cold plunge followed by an infrared sauna, episode. In fact, of all the varying practices we tried out, the way I felt after this treatment stuck out as the most impactful - my body just felt different. More alive? energetic? Iam not sure what, but I just felt good. 

Despite promises to myself to keep up with this practice, as life does, I let other things get in the way - plus the cost was pretty high for each session, and so the dream of having this practice as a regular part of my wellness routine faded into the background. It was only after a friend of mine, who was going through Chemotherapy, talked about using an infrared sauna as part of her recovery treatment, and how valuable she was finding it, that my curiosity was peaked once more. The difference this time around is that my friend had an at-home infrared sauna built at her house. That wasnat in my budget but I began to look around. Enter: Sun Home Saunas. 

Sun Home Saunas was put on my radar via my blog (this one, the one youare reading right now!) and it felt like an answer to my search. Sun Home Saunas have created an infrared sauna BLANKET, that is portable and potent. It has the same benefits as an actual infrared sauna structure, but it is more convenient and best of all, more affordable. They sent me one to try and I couldnat have been more excited. When it arrived it was just as simple as promised - all one piece, you simply need a flat surface (I used the top of my bed - my husband laid out on the floor with a pillow under his head, and the blanket). I started with 20 minutes and then after a couple of sessions graduated up to 30 minutes. I tried going to 40 but started to get fidgety so I knew I had found my comfort zone at 30. My husband, now consistently does 45 minutes. Despite the heat, I found it so relaxing. Gradually, you get to a point where the sweat is REAL but it is so gradual it didnat feel panic inducing, but actually kind of calming. When done, I simply wiped down the interior of the blanket with a damp, water and vinegar, cloth. Easy.

Due to my schedule, I do a session once a week - I try to do every monday, post work out, to start my week off with a nod to wellness and I have been super happy with the results. (My husband uses it 3-4 times/week post work out). There are so many benefits to this infrared sauna blanket - here are just a few: natural detoxification, natural production of happy chemicals - dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, yeehaw!!, total stress relief while passively burning calories, reduction of joint pain and muscle soreness - great post workout, all while boosting immunity support. Thatas a lot of benefit for something that requires you to just lie there and chill (or heat?). But by far one of the most noticeable benefits is how incredible my skin looks - tighter, glowier, and just generally more radiant. 

I am thrilled with the results, so much so, that I asked Sun Home Saunas if they could provide a discount code to my PTB audience and they happily agreed. So if you are interested to try this amazing, inventive new product, now you can add the Promo code: PTB50 for a $50 discount if you purchase a blanket.

Get yours today and i would love to hear about your experience - comment below and letas get the conversation started! Also you can follow my Infrared Sauna blanket journey for play by play of how I use it over on instagram!

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How to Build Self-Confidence to Start a Business or Side Hustle

Failure. Humiliation. These are the anxious feelings that creep up the spine of many of us when considering starting a business.

Triumph. Pride. These are the feelings we need to focus on instead!

Itas easy to say just flip the switch from fear to courage. So letas turn those words into practical actions! 

As someone who has started businesses that have resulted in alearning momentsa as well as successes, Iall give you the exact keys to unlock your self-confidence to get started!

True Confidence Comes From Prior Success

No afake it atil you make ita mumbo-jumbo here. Think of what youare actually confident in. Itas in the activities where you have experienced success!

Ideally, your business or side hustle will incorporate some aspect where you feel truly confident in your abilities.

As a wise person once proclaimed, askills pay the bills.a Where are you skilled?

If you wanted to open your own restaurant, Iad recommend you feel confident in some aspect of the restaurant industry. You might be a terrific chef, always getting compliments on your vegan lasagna and gluten-free sugar-free fat-free key lime pie. Or perhaps youare outstanding in marketing, or at interior design, or managing teams.

You want to know that one aspect of your business is going to shine!

For instance, Iave known writers who went from making the website owners who employed them rich to opening their own site as a business! 

Sure they had to learn along the way, but they always knew their writing would be excellent.

So think about where you are special. That thing you currently do as a hobby that generates lots of positive feedback could be your new business! 

For me, itas making candles that smell like food. My pepperoni pizza candle will be coming to a store near you! 

Start Slowly

Confidence is built up over time as you reach milestones. 

Thereas rarely a need to jump into your new business with both feet. Sure youall make a big splash, but thataas also how you drown. Dip your toe in. 

If your little toe isnat bitten off by a shark in a snazzy business suit, youall feel confident enough to put one foot in.

Did you know that many successful businesses start out as a side hustle? I worked for a married couple who started a travel website while they both had full-time jobs as accountants. 

It wasnat until it was clear that their fun travel site was generating good money that they felt confident enough to quit their jobs to completely focus on their new business.

Proper Perspective Is Essential

Donat put so much pressure on yourself! Itas OK to afail.a Itas OK to make mistakes. This is how you learn. 

In fact, you want to fail faster! That means youare going outside your comfort zone, being brave, and learning. Youall pick yourself up and march on, this time armed with more knowledge.

I learned that people donat want a candle that smells like boiled asparagus. They want a bacon-scented candle. 

Whatas failure anyway? Imagine your best friend or a loved one. Her or his dream is to make romantic guitar music. This is your loved oneas true passion. 

Would you be disappointed if they gave it their best effort and it just didnat work out? Or would you be proud that they gave it their best shot? And along the way they did fun shows, were smiling all the time, and lived their best life!

Or would you really be disappointed if your best friend or loved one constantly talked about following their dream but never did? There was always an excuse. There was always a areasona to procrastinate. 

Be your own best friend. Treat yourself as well as you treat your loved ones. 

Surround Yourself With Positivity

Letas be real. Starting a business is tough! So make sure to start and end your day with positive talk. 

And talk with the most supportive people in your life. You need optimists to help you focus on the good stuff. 

You should absolutely be aware of the reality of your business, even when itas struggling. But that doesnat mean negativity will help you. 

You neeaad cheerleaders. 

Your friends and family should be your trampoline. You fall down; they bounce you back up. And when you make a strained metaphor, they say, aHey that trampoline visual wasnat great but I really liked the pizza candle.a

Celebrate Small Successes

I admit it. I used to feel silly or even ashamed to celebrate the alittlea wins along the way. I was like, aI have a big goal. Big deal if I accomplished step 1 out of 10.a

But that was wrong! Thereas a reason baseball players get a high-five and clap when they get a single. Sure, itas not a home run. But it sets up the next play. Itas positive momentum!

Again, would you diminish your best friendas milestones? If your best friend had a goal to lose 20 pounds and he lost his first 2 pounds Iam sure you wouldnat say, aWhatever, tubby. Youave got a long way to go. Maybe youad be slimmer if your house wasnat decorated with bacon-scented candles!a 

No! Youad say great job! You can do it!

Your Words Matter

Speak to yourself like youad speak to your good friend. Never belittle yourself. Donat be your own worst enemy! 

Stand tall and focus on two things when you speak: your REASON for starting the business and your customers.

aToday I will get another step closer to the freedom to work on something Iam passionate about. Today I will delight my customers who are counting on me!a

Learn From the Best

A shortcut to feeling confident is to get someone who has had success on your side. This could be a mentor, a business coach, or even reading or watching content from a person with a track record you admire.

When I was a kid learning how to ride a bike, I felt better knowing my dad knew how to ride a bicycle and was there to teach me and encourage me. 

When I wanted to learn how to hit a baseball, my dad wasnat as skilled but he pointed me to books and videos from the best hitters. I felt more confident knowing I was modeling the masters rather than making it all up myself.


The people Iave been around who do NOT have confidence tend to do the following:

If you want to build the self-confidence to start a business, do the exact opposite! 

Now go kick butt and build your business!

Scott Lieberman is an online business expert. He teaches entrepreneurs how to make money online. Scott reviews business tools from the best web hosting services to email marketing software. Scott has worked with multi-billion dollar corporations, as well as with small businesses to double their profits to millions of dollars.

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Sugar and Mental Health

Sugar tastes amazing and is in so many products that most people arenat even aware of how much they are consuming daily. 

Most people are aware that sugar isnat a healthy food, but may not realize how detrimental sugar is to your overall health. 

More recent research is showing a strong link between mental health and diet, suggesting that there is a two-way street between our bellies and our brains.

What has sugar in it?

When people talk about sugar, the first thing that comes to mind is the white, granulated stuff that the Brits pour into their tea. 

However, there are many forms of sugar that all have similar effects on the body and brain including brown sugar, honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, corn syrup, fructose, sucrose, glucose, and juice.

The primary way that people consume sugar is through sweetened beverages such as Pepsi and in many processed foods. Most pre-packaged foods have large quantities of sugar in them. 

Breakfast cereals, energy bars, flavored yogurt, and even bread all have some form of sugar in them. 74% of all packaged food at supermarkets contains some version of sugar, making it hard to avoid the stuff. 

When you look at all the sugar-containing food you eat in a day it adds up, even before dessert is even considered!

How Much Sugar Do We Eat?

The World Health Association recommends limiting sugar to 5% of your daily caloric intake, which works out to around 6-9 teaspoons a day. The average US American consumes 22 teaspoons per day, and the average child has 32 teaspoons a day. 

That means most of us are consuming 2-6 times more sugar than recommended. Many nutritionists advise eating less than 6 teaspoons a day and advise not eating anything that has added sugar in any form.

While this might seem extreme, the effects that sugar has on our bodies and our brains may cause some to reconsider their current eating habits.

The Science of Sugar on the Brain

Sugar is contained in so many foods for a variety of reasons. Sugar improves taste and is a natural preservative. What people do not typically know is that sugar is also highly addictive. Research shows that sugar is more addictive than cocaine.

 It causes a release of hormones in the brain, including dopamine, creating the same effect as addictive drugs. A brief asugar higha is followed by a crash of low energy and mood, leading people to want to consume more sugar to get that good feeling again.

Like any addictive substance, the more sugar we eat, the more we crave it. Furthermore, eating a high-sugar diet for a prolonged period can fundamentally alter our brain chemistry.

Sugar addiction resides in the neural pathways for reward-seeking behavior, which can make other addictive substances harder to resist. So as silly as it may sound, sugars are among the most readily available gateway drug.

Sugar has also been linked to mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and decreased cognitive abilities. 

An interesting study on the connection between diet and mental health found that an increase in refined sugar consumption correlated to more depression and worse schizophrenia. The same study found that eating more seafood and fish reduced the prevalence of depression. 

Eating more starchy root vegetables was also connected to a lower incidence of depression.

Many other studies and anecdotes continue to emerge, connecting diet to mood and mental health. The trend seems to be increasingly damning of sugar in all its disguises.

Tips for Kicking the Addiction:

Youave probably already considered eating less sugar, but chances are your efforts havenat stuck yet. I know from personal experience how hard it is to give up or limit sugar intake.

Despite my best intentions I continue to eat more sweets than I know is good for me. Here are some recommendations for successfully and sustainably cutting down on sugar:

The internet is full of cleanses, diets, and tips for reducing or eliminating sugar from your diet. 

Michael Pollan, the author of several books on food, has the most simple dietary recommendation I have come across: aEat food, not too much, mostly plants.a 

He qualifies afooda as something that our great grandparents would recognize (meaning not canned or highly processed).

Eating food is such a basic element of survival, yet it has become such a struggle to find and eat the food that sustains our bodies and minds. However, if you start to form habits around healthy eating, it will pay off quickly and for a long time to come.

Clint Mally is the director of marketing atA Sandstone CareA which provides teen and young adult specific mental health and substance use treatment.

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5 Mental Habits of People Who Thrive Under Pressure

Dr. Beau A. Nelson, DBH, LCSW

Some people seem to deal with difficult situations better than others. Maybe theyare the only one in the room who keeps a cool head when everyone else gets upset, or the person who seems able to focus on solutions rather than getting mired in the problems. Sometimes theyare the people we go to in a crisis: We trust them to give us wise and level-headed advice when we most need it.

Whatas different about these people? Are they super-human? What about them allows them to succeed in times of stress and even thrive under pressure?

One answer might be personalityaand to be sure, personality can affect a personas stress responseabut mindset matters a lot. Some ways of thinking in dealing with an unexpected situation or crisis are more helpful than others. We know this to be true from studies in the field of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Certain acognitive distortionsa can reduce the ability to cope in pressured situations. In direct contrast, these five mental habits tend to describe people who thrive under pressure.

Staying present in the moment a Rather than getting caught up in the fear of the moment or projecting a negative outcome, people who thrive under pressure can be present with the task at hand. They stay focused on what theyare doing in that moment and stay on track working towards an outcome.

Being flexible with options and solutions a Rather than thinking in either-or or black-and-white terms, a person who thrives under pressure understands there are many different options in a situation and determines a course of action after considering multiple inputs and available choices. Being flexible means thinking creatively and being able to perceive multiple approaches to a problem or challenge.

De-catastrophizing a People who thrive under pressure take situations at face value, address them, and stay clear of getting caught up in their emotions. To de-catastrophize is to take a step back and assess a situation as realistically as possible, without over-exaggerating the negatives. When we catastrophize, we relate to a stressful scenario as if itas the end of the world or a life-or-death situation. This soon leads to self-defeating thoughts like aI canat possibly get through this.a Being thoughtful and clearheaded allows you to function at your best and solve problems without a high degree of stress, anger, frustration, or other emotions.

Accepting a situation for what it is a Instead of focusing on past failures, getting caught up with other peopleas emotions, or blaming others and not taking responsibility, people who thrive under pressure are able to see the present situation for what it is and acknowledge their role in it. Theyare also able to approach it with a realistic sense of context and see that it is one task among many, as opposed to an earth-shattering, make-or-break event that theyall never recover from.

Trusting oneas judgment a You may not always be right, but inaction is paralyzing. People who thrive under pressure are good at addressing the situation at hand or delegating or getting the resources that they need. A measure of confidence is very helpful when youare dealing with a stressful situation that demands quick thought and immediate action. Self-doubt or people pleasing is generally not going to be effective in a critical situation.

While skills for thriving under pressure are as varied as the people who practice them, these straightforward and centered approaches may help you navigate high-stress situations more effectively. Theyare also mental habits that, when practiced, can build confidence and self-assurance, increase competence, and improve decision-making abilities. Anyone can develop skills to be better at dealing with pressured situations. It takes effort, focus, and learning the best ways to deal with our emotions and other people.

Dr. Beau A. Nelson is Chief Clinical Officer at the national behavioral health provider FHE Health.

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How To Lead with Curiosity To Fall Back In Love With Your Job

Are you feeling a bit bored at work? Are you missing the growth and challenge you felt when you first started your role?
If you have been in the same role or industry for a while, these surges of lethargy are completely understandable. Your connection with your work is similar to your personal relationships. Both require energy to keep the relationship exciting and stimulating.A
How can you fall back in love with your job and your work? Lead with curiosity to invigorate what excites you most. Here are three questions to initiate your discovery of falling back in love.A A
Question #1: What interested you about your role or industry in the first place?A
Many times, we get caught in our routines and forget what initially attracted us to our job. Make a list of the items that originally interested you about your role. Highlight areas you no longer are experiencing. If these areas bring you joy and excitement, create an action plan to integrate them back into your work.A
Question #2: Where can you become an expert in your field?A
Once you understand your responsibilities and how to effectively execute your projects, itas easy to stay complacent. Becoming an expert takes work, dedication, and concentration. What more can you learn about your role? Are there courses that can provide you a deeper knowledge? Take this opportunity to celebrate your accomplishments, then ask yourself what else you can learn to continue to grow.
Question #3: How does your role give you purpose?A
In every job you take, itas important to ensure you understand how your responsibilities tie to your overall mission or purpose. This exercise might appear to be easy for some roles compared to others. For example, letas look at a teacheras purpose. Their purpose could be to increase emotional wellbeing for future generations. What if your job is to deliver packages? Amazon does a great job of sharing their employeesa purpose, from the moment a package is ordered to delivered.
No matter what role you are in, ensure you see how your actions impact your final consumer and highlight each impact you create that energizes your passion and purpose.A

How Collaboration Creates Competitive & Cohesive Teams

I spoke at a Human Resources Leader Conference in Las Vegas last week. Pre-Covid 19, these events were overflowing. People polled said they liked the live events because it gave them an opportunity to network, helped them professional development, and gave access to new tools and technologies in the exhibition hall.

But this week, when the organizers polled the attendees, hands down, the number one reason stated was to connect with others.

Was this just a reaction to quarantine and zoom fatigue? It turns out that the leaders were looking to cross- collaborate with a diverse population. Collaboration was the goal.

When I was new to the airline industry, I got hired byA AllegiantA . They were expanding their fleet and bases daily, and my team needed to grow exponentially. Rather than panic, I leaned into what I knew. I leveraged my expertise in Talent Acquisition to recruit a team from various industries, including hospitality, entertainment, engineering, and customer service. My boss actually called my team, athe island of misfit toys!a

I grew the team from seven to seventeen quite quickly. We amisfitsa from outside the industry learned from those with experience inside. But the opposite was also true. People familiar with hospitality and customer service standards brought their expertise to our talent acquisition strategy; the people from engineering brought industry insights to help us differentiate ourselves from our competitors, and the entertainment industry professionals provided recommendations on process to enhance our interview experience. The company grew to become cohesive and highly competitive. Within one year, Allegiant went from a poor rating on Glassdoor to receiving an award for being one of the best places to interview.

The challenges we faced, our diverse perspectives, and our ability to collaborate created a winning team, or what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi defines as an aoptimal experiencea in his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. We achieved flow as a team.

How has collaboration brought out the best in you and your teams? Challenges will keep on coming. Rather than having to figure out each answer on your own, collaborate to create. Your best solution might just be one misfit idea away!

Rebecca Ahmed is an award-winning speaker, business consultant, and an Energy Leadership Index™ Master Practitioner (ELI-MP), which is an exclusive training in human energy and how we can experience, express, and expand it in ourselves and others. Rebecca is also a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with the International Coaching Federation (ICF),A

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3 Tips to Start theA Process of Writing a Book

aI have a book within me just waiting to be born.a

aI keep notes of these phrases that come to me.a

aIave tried over and over and haven't been able to write it.a

As a book-writing coach, I hear these types of comments a lot. There are so many talented, smart individuals who have a book living inside them, but for myriad reasons a time management, writer's block, fear of failure a they have trouble getting it onto the page.

The process of writing a book is complex, time-intensive, and filled with obstacles, some mental and some physical. Every journey starts differently, yet the path always looks and feels the same.

You begin with an idea or image a something within, like a seed germinating beneath the surface. You tinker with this seed, collecting scraps of paper and notes on your phone. You finally take the leap and jot those notes down in a document on your computer. Then, the first touch of paralysis occurs. Now what? Youave got some disconnected thoughts and feelings written down but nothing that resembles a story. Or you know exactly what you want to write but the way it comes out feels wrong.

Thereas nothing like having a book feel so alive inside your soul and then meet reality on the page: a jumbled mess that wouldn't entice a single reader.

Obstacles in Telling Your Story

Every story is alive, its own being with its own heartbeat and shape, which is why the initial stages can seem overwhelming. You know the book is meant to be birthed, but itas formless inside you. That lack of shape is hard to hold. Writing a book from an evocative place, one of memory and emotion, can relieve feelings of paralysis. You can shape your story around the crux of this emotion and figure out where the beginning, climax, and end are.

One of the hardest obstacles in theA process of writing a bookA is often what to eliminate from our stories. Every part feels crucial to who we are and how we came to be. The best way to begin to organize it is to figure out what story you want to tell. Is it a love story, a story of loss, a story of hope or triumph? Then, eliminate the parts that would invite too many doors to open for the reader. Let them walk through the door that feels most heavy for you a a door that you would need readers' help to open.

For me, thatas the door of grief. Thatas the door of my childhood. Of yellow hair curlers, hymns played on the piano, buttery grits, the smell of honeysuckle, my grandmotheras loving hand as she tucked me in for a nap. The same hand I held before she passed.

There, a heartbeat. The story is alive.

Another obstacle is often the structure of the story. Sometimes our memories are malleable. We donat know the exact dates an experience happened, or perhaps we donat know whether it's more important to be accurate or true. When we're accurate, we give over to the logical part of our brains, writing down the facts. When we're true, we lean into the emotions we feel throughout the story.

Emotions fuel our memories. It makes perfect sense to tell a story about anger and move from your parentsa anger to a moment when you expressed anger the same way they did. Twenty years could have passed between those moments, but the reader will understand why you organized it that way a you were showing them a story connected by emotion, by what feels true.

How to Begin Writing a Book

When we look back on our lives, we're looking for patterns to connect experiences. One way to do this is by making a shape with the dots along our lifetime. Like constellations in the sky, we can make meaning out of experiences that shine brightest to us. The most common pattern of telling a story is an arc or wave. It begins as a calm surface until the tension rises and rises, escalating to form the shape of a giant wave whose energetic body has nothing to do but crash and break until equilibrium returns.

Although the wave is the most common storytelling form, your book can take on many shapes. In her book about storytelling structure, "Meander, Spiral, Explode," Jane Alison argues that as human beings, we observe the day-to-day always "alert to patterns," the ways in which our experiences shape themselves, the "ways we can replicate [the experience's] shape with words." A brilliant notion, we can shape moments in our lives to create texture, vibrancy, emotion, and meaning.

The most important thing when sitting down to write your book is to recognize the patterns throughout your life and corral them onto the page. Recognizing patterns, however, is not easy. Thereas so much freedom in organizing your story, depending on how you want it shaped, which is why the act itself can be difficult. Here's where to start writing a book:

Writing a book is excavating meaning from the deep recesses of the mind, and the process of telling your story reshapes how you see yourself. Writing out your story is so humbling; itas like holding up a mirror and meeting yourself for the first time. You get the opportunity to be gentler to your past and to claim victory over your present. A truly great story has the power to impact its audience in a radical way, but no one will ever be as changed as when a writer births a story that was always destined to be.

Kelsey Schurer is an executive editor atA Round Table Companies, where she works on projects such as book coaching, business storytelling, and childrenas illustrated books. She played an integral role in creatingA The Story Hero, RTCas educational storytelling course.

The post 3 Tips to Start theA Process of Writing a Book appeared first on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement.

Shohei Ohtani strikes out 11 as Angels defeat White Sox

Shohei Ohtani extended his scoreless streak to 21 2/3 innings while recording 11 strikeouts in the Angels' 4-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox.

Archie Bradley out with fractured elbow sustained in Angels-Mariners brawl fall

Angels reliever Archie Bradley sustained a broken elbow after falling over the dugout railing during the Angels-Mariners on-field brawl Sunday.

Angels' Phil Nevin gets 10-game suspension for role in brawl; 11 others disciplined

A total of 12 players and coaches have been disciplined for their roles in the brawl Sunday between the Angels and Mariners.

Grand jury rips Anaheim for lack of transparency in Angel Stadium sale negotiations

An Orange County grand jury blasts the Anaheim City Council, not just the former mayor, for rushing to approve the now-defunct Angel Stadium deal.

Angels and Mariners players throw punches in benches-clearing brawl

Benches clear for the Angels and Mariners after pitcher Andrew Wantz hits Seattle's Jesse Winker with a pitch during the Angels' 2-1 win Sunday.

Another highlight reel home run by Shohei Ohtani a and another Angels loss

Shohei Ohtani hits a 462-foot home run, but leaves two runners stranded on a game-ending lineout in the Angels' 5-3 loss to the Seattle Mariners.

Mike Trout homers again to set career record against Mariners, but Angels lose

Mike Trout went deep for his record 53rd career home run against the Seattle Mariners, but the rest of the offense sputtered and the Angels lost 4-3.

They've got Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, but inconsistencies holding Angels back

After a 27-17 start, the Angels have slipped under .500 because of issues with their hitting and pitching that even Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani can't overcome.

Commentary: If the Angels hire a new manager, here's their guy

If the Angels are looking for manager after the season, they should consider former center fielder Darin Erstad for a lot of reasons.

Shohei Ohtani strikes out a career-high 13 batters in Angels' win over Royals

Shohei Ohtani struck out a career-high 13 over eight innings of two-hit ball in the Angels' 5-0 win over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday at Angel Stadium.

Angels pitcher Reid Detmers, six weeks after throwing a no-hitter, sent to minors

Reid Detmers was optioned to triple-A Salt Lake on Wednesday just six weeks after the Angels left-hander threw a no-hitter against Tampa Bay.

Shohei Ohtani drives in eight runs, but Angels fall to Royals in extra innings

Shohei Ohtani had a big night, but the Angels' comeback fell short in the wild 12-11 extra innings loss to the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday at Angel Stadium.

Angels pitchers are glad that MLB is looking into slick baseballs

The Angels, who were unhappy with the slickness of the baseballs during a series in Seattle, were happy to hear MLB is standardizing its procedures.

Still the Angels' finest hour: A look back at their 2002 World Series win

In the same year Disney was looking to part ways with the Angels, the team put up its most memorable season, defeating the Giants in the 2002 World Series.

Where are the 2002 Angels now?

Where are the 2002 Angels players and coaches now? Here's what they are up to at last report.

Noah Syndergaard gives bullpen breather, but Angels' offense falters in loss to Royals

Noah Syndergaard pitched into the eighth inning before running out of steam, and the Angels lost 6-2 to Kansas City as their win streak ended at three.

Anthony Rendon injury could complicate Angels' chances of re-signing Shohei Ohtani

It's clear the Angels haven't gotten their money's worth in oft-injured Anthony Rendon, and that could complicate their hopes of re-signing Shohei Ohtani.

Keyword Selected: weight

Wine That Stands Up to Pesto

My usual go-to wine when strong green, herbal notes are part of a dish is Sauvignon Blanc. But New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs are often quite citrusy, and US Sauvignon Blancs can be too melony and soft for basil. So I opened a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc--and it was perfect with my linguine tossed with homemade pesto and topped with some heirloom cherry tomatoes.

The 2011 ViA+-a Carmen Sauvignon Blanc Gran Reserva (available for $13-$15 in the market) is made from grapes grown in the Leyda Valley. It has vibrant aromas of grass, gooseberry, and that uniquely weird smell of boxwood that I often smell in Sauvignon Blancs from the southern hemisphere. This wine was green and leafy rather than citrusy, with a backbone of acidity that was neutral in flavor but kept your mouth watering for more. The midpalate was herbal, making me think 'this is what Cabernet Franc would taste like if it were white and not red.' Cool and refreshing, this stood up to the basil. If you have the wine with something less resolutely green, you may find that its assertiveness is a problem but if you have basil, this is a good wine to go with it--and it represents very good QPR.
Full Disclosure: I received a sample of this wine for possible review.

Fish Eye Pinot Grigio: A Genuine Bargain in White Wine

I first enjoyed the Fish Eye Pinot Grigio in 2009 with my fellow wine bloggers at our annual conference (and wrote about that experience here). It was a humbling moment for many of us, who were a bit sniffy about the wine based on the cute label, its availability in large-format bottles and boxes, and because it was Pinot Grigio. There is a lot (and I do mean a lot) of terrible, cheap Pinot Grigio out there. So much of it, in fact, that I've stopped ordering it in restaurants.
So it is with great pleasure that I report that the 2011 Fish Eye Pinot Grigio still has a suggested retail price of $7 (though you can find it in the market for prices between $5 and $10), it is still delicious, it is still widely available throughout the country, and it is still excellent QPR. Expect zesty, pure lemon and lime aromas and to have those scents echo through the flavors. You might detect a nice peachy note as you sip, which takes off some of the bitterness that can be associated with Pinot Grigio.

This is a versatile, food-friendly wine that is light enough to pair with vegetables and salads at a weekend lunch, will be a great companion to asparagus and lemon pasta as you work your way into your spring recipes, and will be welcome at summer barbeques so if you see some on the shelf give it a try.

Full Disclosure: I received a sample of this wine for possible review.

Miracles Happen: Three Worthy Pinot Noirs for $25 or Less

Pinot Noir is a budgetary nightmare for most of us. Pinot is a finicky grape, which makes it difficult to grow, which translates into expensive bottles on the shelves. And that was before the movie that put Pinot Noir in everybody's glass, displacing Merlot.
Recently, I had not one, not two, but THREE bottles of Pinot Noir that were impressive--and none cost more than $25, which is quite reasonable by Pinot Noir standards. If $25 is too much for you--or you like more traditional tasting wines--scroll down to the final recommendation. At $12, it's a steal.

2010 Davis Bynum Pinot Noir (suggested retail $25; available in the market for $20-24) This excellent QPR example of Russian River Valley Pinor Noir has full-bore raspberry aromas and flavors with a burnt sugar edge. The mouthfeel is silky, with lots of toast and spice. The finish is long, with cinnamon and clove notes.
2010 Echelon Pinot Noir Russian River Valley (suggested retail $24.99; use the winery's "where to buy" feature to find a bottle near you) For around the same price as the Davis Bynum, and from grapes grown in the same place, this very good QPR example has intense raspberry fruit with a slightly candied edge to the flavors. The aftertaste is spicy, but less complex and dominated by clove notes.

(suggested retail $12) You might not expect to find Pinot Noir in Chile, but think again. This wine was much lighter in style, which some prefer, with pure raspberry aromas and flavors. You can't beat it for the price, this is a simple and delicious expression of the grape. Excellent QPR for a wine that will appeal to fans of more traditional Pinot Noir.

Full Disclosure: I received samples of these wines for possible review.

Sauvignon Blanc...from Slovenia

Wine is an adventure. At least that's what I've always thought. So many grapes. So many styles. So many countries to visit--even if it's only through the liquid in your glass.
So when one of my favorite addictions--er, on-line retailers--Garagiste up in Seattle offered a three-pack of Slovenian whites to try, I jumped at the opportunity. The three-pack cost around $45, which meant there was a $15 investment per bottle for a Riesling, a Chardonnay, and a Sauvignon Blanc. Recently, I opened up the Sauvignon Blanc and was extremely pleased at my first foray into Slovenian wine.

You might not think "Slovenia" and "Sauvignon Blanc" in the same breath, but there's no reason why you shouldn't do so. Most parts of the globe have a history of wine-making, and that includes central Europe. I had some amazing Merlot when I visited Prague, and have enjoyed some wonderful Romanian wine here on the blog, and one of my all-time-favorite wines from Trader Joe's comes from Hungary. As for Slovenia, they have a venerable viticultural tradition that goes back to pre-Roman times (check this site for more information). So don't be afraid to try wine from regions you may be unfamiliar with, as they often represent very good value, as in this very good QPR example.

2008 Marof Sauvignon Blanc ( purchased in a three-pack from Garagiste; available in the market for around $11) This terrific Sauvignon Blanc had tart lemon pith, gooseberry, and lemongrass aromas and flavors. It was very clean and precise, without being overly herbaceous. A nice balance of fruit and acidity made it an ideal partner for food, and you can't complain about the price! It would be excellent with all kinds of dishes, from salads, to fish, to roasted chicken with lemon. We had it with a soup made with ancient grains and vegetables, and the lively acidity was a lovely counterpoint to the earthiness of the kamut and lentils, and picked out the bright tarragon herbal notes.

Classic Cabernets for $15 or Less

There are all kinds of Cabernet Sauvignon out there. Some are too fruity for me. Some are too green. Some are too expensive. Some are too huge, with big alcohol and palate-punishing tannins.
I like my Cabernets to have a classic profile: plum and currant in the fruit department, pepper for spice, and enough acidity that I know I'm not drinking watered-down jam.

Here are three bottles that fit my preferences--and none has a suggested retail of more than $15. If you like your Cabernets big and bold or fruity and sweet, these wines may not appeal to you. But if what you're looking for is a wine that shows the grape's varietal character and an appealing price point, give one of them a try.

2009 Lander Jenkins Cabernet Sauvignon Spirit Hawk (suggested retail $15; available in the market for $7-$15) Rich plum aromas characteristic of this grape variety lead into a plummy palate with notes of mocha and eucalyptus. Though the tannins are fine-grained, they have a nice grip that will be appealing to lovers of more brawny wine. Excellent QPR.

2010 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Private Selection (suggested retail $11; available for $8-$12 in the market) This wine has classic aromas and flavors of cassis, plum, herbs, and green pepper with smooth, well-integrated tannins. This will not necessarily appeal to fans of hugely fruity Cabernets, but if elegance is what you're after, you can't do better than this for $11. Excellent QPR.

(suggested retail $13.99; available for $7-$9 in the market) Another Cabernet built along classic lines, this bottle has some green pepper aromas and flavors among the cassis and cherry. There is good acidity, and tannins that area bit astringent in the mouth--which will make it a great partner for juicy beef dishes. Very good QPR (though if you find it for $7, consider this excellent QPR!)

Classic pairings for Cabernet Sauvignon include burgers, roast beef, grilled steak, and (a personal favorite from my childhood) Pepper Steak. If you're a vegetarian and want something to go with Cabernet, look for a recipe that uses rosemary like this white bean and rosemary soup recipe (sub veggie stock for the chicken stock). Rosemary and Cabernet are a match made in heaven!

Full Disclosure: I received samples of these wines for possible review.

Aromatic Food Calls for Aromatic Wine

If you are fond of aromatic food--including Thai, Moroccan, or Indian dishes--you might find them difficult to pair with wine. All those spices can overwhelm an ordinary white or red, and very tannic or very acidic wines can clash with what's on your plate. Often, I recommend Gewurztraminer or Riesling when there are lots of spices in a recipe (and I mean spicy, not necessarily hot).
There is another good option, however: Viognier. The grape is well-known among Rhone wine lovers, but may not be something you've tasted. Intensely aromatic wines made with Viognier can be wonderful with their floral scents and full-bodied texture, but there are many examples (especially inexpensive bottles) that taste a bit too much like dish detergent and feel waxy in the mouth.

So I'm really pleased to have discovered this excellent QPR option for those of you who would like to try something different in the white wine department. Try it with something like this one-pot chicken and chickpea tagine with bulgur (also from Mark Bittman...I'm on a Bittman kick these days).

2010 Wild Horse Viognier (suggested retail $17; average online price also $17) This wine is an excellent example of what Viognier can be, with lemon pith and honeysuckle aromas and flavors. Its stony core keeps it from getting sweet and sappy, and there is a liveliness in the mouth. Expect a nice interplay between the fruit and flower elements. This bottle would pair well with spicy chicken dishes, anything that uses lemons, Moroccan food, and Indian food.

Full Disclosure: I received a sample of this wine for possible review.

Warming up Winter with Syrah

I'm not sure why Syrah tastes like summer to me--but it does. And by 'tastes like summer' I don't mean it's the kind of wine you reach for in July: cool, fresh, and zingy. I'm talking, instead, about a wine that conjures up images of fruit ripening on the vine, dusty back roads, purple-and-red sunsets, and a garden full of herbs ready for picking.
Now that we're approaching midwinter, a touch of summer might be welcome. If so, why not warm up your evening with a beautiful, affordable bottle of Syrah, like this excellent QPR bottling?

The 2008 Andrew Murray Syrah Tous les Jours (suggested retail, $16; average retail price via online retailers, $17) is an exceptional bottle of wine for the price. There is a beautiful balance between the fruit, herb, and mineral notes in this rich Syrah. Black fruits dominate the aromas and flavors, and I detected black currants and blackberries. The wine has a smoky, spicy edge followed by a clean, crisp aftertaste. The wine's good acidity will make it pair with a wide variety of foods, including roasted and grilled dishes, Moroccan food, and even hamburgers.

To go with your Syrah, try this delicious pan-roasted eggplant and lamb pasta sauce from Mark Bittman's Food Matters Cookbook. If you are vegetarian, it would be easy to leave out the lamb and still be left with a rich, flavorful sauce. The acidity of the tomatoes will not clash with this wine, the eggplant's bitterness will be a nice foil for the fruit, and the oven roasting will bring out the smokiness of the wine.

Full Disclosure: I received a sample of this wine for possible review.

Spicing Things Up With Zin

Whether you love them or hate them, the next eight weeks are widely regarded as something of a challenge. Holidays. Family. Bad weather. Trips to the mall. Schlepping kids all over creation. Lots of turkey and mashed potatoes.
To survive, you need to keep some spice in your life. Start with some nice Zinfandel, and throw a pot of chili or pasta on the stove. It will keep you going during the darkening days of winter.

Here are two highly affordable Zinfandels for you to consider:

2009 Ravenswood Zinfandel Old Vine Vintners Blend (suggested retail $10; available in market for $7-$13) This very good QPR Zinfandel has smooth black cherry and blackberry aromas. You'll find the same fruits in the flavors, along with a smoky, spicy aftertaste. The wine has fine tannins, giving it an impression that is fruit-forward, but not too jammy.
2010 McManis Family Vineyards Zinfandel (suggested retail $11.99; available in market for $9-$14) Pure of taste and light on its feet, this is all about the blackberries in the aromas and flavors. There are nice spicy and pepper notes in the aftertaste, too. At 13.5% ABV, this is not a monster of a wine, but a lovely reminder of how Zinfandel can be elegant. Excellent QPR for around $12.

Full Disclosure: I received samples of these wines for possible review.

Exiting the Wine Superhighway with Malvasia Bianca

One of the great things about wine is that no matter how much of the stuff you taste, there is always a new adventure to be had on the shelves of your local store or at your local winery (and yes, most of us actually do have a winery somewhere within driving distance!)
Don't get me wrong: I love the taste of wine. But I also love discovering new tastes, and locating wines I like that are off the normal Chardonnay-Sauvignon Blanc-Cabernet-Pinot route. Today's wine pick is definitely out of the ordinary. Drinking it was a little bit like exiting the familiar wine freeway and taking a back road to your destination.

When I first opened up the 2010 Wild Horse Malvasia Bianca San Bernabe (suggested retail $20; available in the market for $20) from California's Monterey County AVA, I wondered if I had ever had the grape bottled on its own. It often turns up in blends, especially Italian blends. It turns out I have had straight-up Malvasia Bianca before, back in the spring of 2008 when I was looking for a wine to pair with asparagus, and I enjoyed it a great deal. Three and a half years later, I had the opportunity to taste my second example!

And what a nice change it was from the same-old same-old. First off: don't expect to smell lots of fruit when you open this wine. Instead, this delicious white had floral and spicy aromas with an underlying note of litchi. In the mouth, the impression was bone dry, and there was a spicy aftertaste that was unlike anything else I've had before. In some ways, it tasted like a GewA1/4rztraminer without that grape's lush, fruit-forward profile. As the wine was exposed to air and warmed up a bit in the glass, I tasted lean, elegant traces of pear, litchi, and lemon pith. Very good QPR. The 2010 Wild Horse Malvasia Bianca would pair beautifully with delicate fish and shellfish dishes, as well as Pacific Rim cuisine including fish tacos and sushi.

This autumn, make it a point to go wine adventuring. If you're at a restaurant that has a wine-by-the-glass list, try a grape variety you've never had before. If you're at your local wine shop, tell them that you love Pinot Noir but you'd like to try something new. Chances are you'll walk out with a Gamay or a Blaufrankisch--and you may just find a new wine favorite. And kudos to Wild Horse for offering us some unusual varieties like Verdelho, Malvasia and, yes, even Blaufrankisch, to tempt our tastebuds and expand our horizons.

Full Disclosure: I received a sample of this wine for possible review.

Much-Maligned Merlot

Once the darling of wine-by-the-glass programs around the country, and purchased by the gallon by people who didn't know what else to buy, Merlot has been relegated to the margins of wine culture. "You drink Merlot?" people have asked me with horrified expressions.
Yes. I drink Merlot. It's a great food wine--far easier to pair with most dishes than its more structured sibling, Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot has a bit of softness, a hint of richness, that make it a good choice for autumn and winter meals.

But Merlot critics do have a point: there was such a high demand for Merlot some people got carried away and began mass-producing wines that lost all of the plummy, peppery, clove, and mocha notes that make wines made with this grape distinctive.

Here are a few affordable bottlings that will get you reacquainted with Merlot. And here's a handy list of foods that go well with them: Mustard, Mushrooms, and Meatloaf (and other dishes made with ground beef). It's an easy list to remember, and will help you out in the store whether you're inspired to make Melissa Clark's Chicken with Mustard Croutons, Jamie Oliver's pappardelle pasta with wild mushrooms, or a classic meatloaf or burger.

2009 Rutherford Ranch Merlot (suggested retail $18; available for $14-$20) With characteristic chocolate, plum, and spice notes that persist from the aromas, through the flavors, and continue on into the aftertaste, this is a very good QPR choice. Nicely balanced between fruit, acidity, and oak, the wine impproves with air, suggesting it is suitable for drinking between 2011 and 2014. Buy a bottle for now--and set one aside for 2012 or later.

2009 Arroba Winery Merlot (suggested retail $19.95; available for around $15) A good QPR choice with plum and baking chocolate aromas and flavors. Good acidity and spice in the aftertaste makes you head back to the glass for another sip.
2009 Bella Sera Merlot (suggested retail $7.99; available for $7-$11) Very good QPR at around $8, this Merlot smells and tastes of plums with hints of chocolate around the edges and pleasingly smooth tannins. It may not convince Merlot skeptics, but those who enjoy the grape should give this Sicilian bottling a try.

2008 Concannon Vineyard Merlot Selected Vineyards (suggested retail $10; available for $7-$11) Another Merlot for the price, with more structured rich plum and currant aromas. These fruits are evident in the flavors, too, which are nicely accented with spice. A reminder of the versatility or Merlot, and that the grape can be great if treated well.

If you haven't had Merlot for a while, give it another try. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised by what's on offer these days.

Full Disclosure: I received samples of these wines for possible review.

The Pursuit of Chardonnay

There are days when I just despair for the future of Chardonnay. All it takes is a string of uninspired, overly manipulated examples with loads of fake oak flavors and it makes me swear off the stuff for weeks.
But it only takes one good bottle to remind you why some of the world's great wines have been made from the grape.

If you're in pursuit of Chardonnay, this bottle should help you remember what Chardonnay can be.

2009 MacMurray Ranch Chardonnay Sonoma Coast (suggested retail, $20; available in market for $12-$20) This is a good example of a California Chardonnay that has seen some time inside a barrel, so there are flavor elements that derive from oak, namely a vanillin note that did not strike me as at all fake or forced. Hurray! The entry for the wine comes from its aromas of dough and apple (a bit like an apple crumble), with a note of honeyed vanilla that is the prelude for tastes to come. The flavors are dominated by cream and apple, with a cantaloupe note that I can't say I've ever tasted in a Chardonnay before, but which added an interesting dimension to the wine. Creamy vanilla notes linger in the mouth after your last swallow. Very good QPR, if you like rich and full-bodied California Chardonnays that remain true to the grape.

Full Disclosure: I received a sample of this wine for possible review.

Napa Cabernet for Under $20

Cabernet Sauvignons from California's Napa Valley are among the iconic wines of the USA. They have a cult following, and are in heavy demand, which means that they have hefty price tags, too. Is it possible for those with leaner wallets to see what the fuss is all about.

If you're looking to try a Napa Valley Cabernet--with all the rich flavors that the appellation promises--try to get your hands on this bottle. It may not have all the complexity and structure of a $100 bottle of Napa Cabernet, but for around $15 it's far more affordable.

The 2008 Irony Cabernet Sauvignon (available in market for $11-$17) is a very good QPR choice in Napa Valley Cabernet, with good varietal character and some distinct Napa pizzazz. High-toned plum, cherry and pomegranate aromas and flavors gain depth with a cedary, spicy aftertaste that reminds me of much more expensive bottlings. Though the tannins pucker the tongue with a nice grip, the wine is never heavy. As a result, it is very food friendly and will pair beautifully with stews, roast meat, and steaks.

Full Disclosure: I received a sample of this wine for possible review.

Something to Celebrate

Five years ago, on 7 October 2006, I wrote my first blog post after going wine shopping. Here we are, more than 714, 000 visitors later. As with most things in life there have been ups and downs, some bumps in the road, and some unexpected miracles which led to unexpected hiatuses in posting. Thanks for sticking by me through thick (when I wrote a post a day) and thin (when I wrote no posts for months) and everything in between (like now, when I'm doing my level best to post every Monday and Thursday--or in this case, Sunday and Thursday).
Since a 5th Year Anniversary is something to celebrate, today I've got a round-up of under $20 sparklers for you. They come from Italy, France, and Austria. And because they're affordable you don't need any particular excuse to buy one and open it just because it's Monday!

2009 Weingut Markus Huber Zweigelt Hugo ($18, domaineLA; available in market for $16-$17) A nice choice in sparkling roses under $20, this is made with Zweigelt, and has distinctive strawberry aromas and flavors. Very yeasty (almost beery) in terms of the carbonation, this is a more rustic sparkling wine perfect for charcuterie or a plate of grilled sausages. Very good QPR.

($15, domaineLA; available in market for $16-$19) Very good for the price, this wine is made with Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon under biodynamic growing protocols. The color is rose-gold, and the bubbles are medium-sized and long-lasting. Crisp citrus flavors are paired with richer notes of bread dough and toast. Even Champagne lovers will be impressed with the quality and depth of flavor for $15. Excellent QPR.

N.V. Sorelle Bronca Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Extra Dry
(under $20 at domaineLA; available in market for $14-$18) Clean lemon and lemon-blossom aromas and flavors, and the bead is quite small, which makes for a fun, frothy Prosecco that is good enough to be had on its own as opposed to mixing into Bellinis. Very good QPR.

(suggested retail, $17; available in market for $12-$15) Greenish in color with small bubbles. this wine is part of a new venture in wine making from a Spanish/Italian team. The partnership really shines in this wine which has the apply/bready notes of Spanish sparklers and the citrusy notes of prosecco without any bitterness or excessive yeastiness. Crisp, but can stand up to food especially vegetables and fish. Very good QPR.

Full Disclosure: I received a sample of the Voveti for possible review.

When Life Gives You Lemons...

There is something fresh, clean, and bright about the scent of a lemon. No wonder we use the juice to liven up the flavors in food, and put fine ribbons of lemon peel in so many dishes to add just the right crisp, sweet note.
Today I have two recommendations for lemony wines. Like lemon juice or lemon peel, these bottlings will brighten up your table and enhance the flavors in food. And here's something that will put an even bigger smile on your face: they both retail for around $11.

2010 McManis Family Vineyards Pinot Grigio (suggested retail $10.99; available in the market for $8-14) For around $11 this wine impresses with its clean-edged lemon peel aromas, pure lemon flavors, and slightly waxy texture. There's not a false note or a rough edge to be had, and it's not too bitter so it's a perfect wine if you're looking for something citrusy to accompany lemon-roasted chicken or piccata. Excellent QPR.

(suggested retail $11; available in the market for $8-11) With loads of lemon and lime zest in the aromas, this wine is reminiscent of the fresh, zippy Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand. The aromas are echoed in the flavors, which take on a nice lemongrass complexity. Clean, zesty, and focused this is another steal for the price. Excellent QPR.

Full Disclosure: I received samples of these wines for possible review.

The Future Looks RosA(c)

Now that we're into autumn, you may think the future looks decidedly less RosA(c).
Those of us who drink RosA(c) wines--those pale to dark pink bottles of wine made from everything from Cabernet Sauvignon to Zinfandel--tend to think of them as summery offerings, suitable for picnics and barbeques but not for serious food.

Actually, RosA(c) wines are versatile and food friendly. They pair with almost everything. Served with a bit of a chill, they offer refreshment when your table contains spicy dishes. And they are usually very affordable.

Here are two of my favorite RosA(c)s, which I tasted over the summer and early fall and which I have no problem recommending to those of you who are ready to take out your stew pot and turn on your oven. And both of them are dry wines--which means that they will pair with almost everything.

2010 San Giovanni Garda Classico Il Chiaretto ($15.00, domaineLA; available in market for $13-$15) This delicious RosA(c) is made from an Italian blend of Barbera, Groppello, Marzemino, and Sangiovese. You will smell the strawberries, and the aromas carry over into the flavors. There is a pleasant stony edge to the strawberry tones, and a lovely, savory note in the aftertaste. Well-balanced, medium-bodied, and . We had it with a Jamie Oliver dish of grilled tuna with oregano and lemon, grilled zucchini, and some garlicky cannellini beans, and the wine had the right amount of fruit, acidity, and minerality to pair with the dish. It would also be great with creamy pasta dishes, sausage, or roast pork. Note: It comes in a cute, chubby bottle but it does contain the full 750ml that you're used to.

2010 ChAC/teau d'Esclans CA'tes de Provence Whispering Angel ($20.99 from my local independent grocery store; available in market for $13-$27)
This wine is very, very pale pink in color--think ballet-tights pink. The aromas are even drier than those of the Il Chiaretto, with under-ripe strawberries, chalk, and melon rising up from the glass. The flavors echo the aromas, but the chalk becomes more intense. Very dry, very savory, and very good QPR (though if you can get it for under $15, you will find it's excellent QPR) This wine is made mainly from Grenache, with some Rolle, Cinsault, and Syrah blended in to it. A nice pairing for shrimp or other shellfish, salmon, tuna, or roast chicken.

Advanced Topics in White Wine

It's that time of year. If you have kids they're back in school with their pencils sharpened and their notebooks already full of doodles. You might be feeling a bit nostalgic about your own schooldays-gone-by, when you were taking courses and learning new subjects.
The best thing about loving wine (ok, one of the best things...) is that there is always more to learn. This fall, why not try some interesting whites that are beyond your normal Chardonnay-Sauvignon Blanc-Riesling comfort zone? You just may find a new favorite.

2009 M. Chapoutier CA'tes du RhA'ne Blanc Belleruche (suggested retail $12.99; available in market for $8-$15) Red wine fans may be familiar with the rich, affordable red blends from the Southern RhA'ne, but have you ever tasted their whites? This blend contains Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Bourboulenc. It is more "old world" in style, with a fresh, neutral taste dominated by mineral and lemon peel notes. It tastes robust, and stands up well to richer fish (tuna, halibut), vegetable dishes, and chicken pot pie. If you like Sauvignon Blanc, I think you'll enjoy this wine. Very good QPR.

2010 ViA+-a Robles White4 (suggested retail $16; available in market for $13-$16) ) This white blend is from Paso Robles, and gets its name from the four white grape varieties that go into every bottle: Viognier, Verdelho, Sauvignon Blanc, and Vermentino. This year's bottling is a very good QPR, versatile white wine with honeysuckle and citrus aromas and flavors. If you like dry Rieslings but are looking for a wine with more body, give this a try.

2010 Freie WeingA$?rtner Wachau / DomA$?ne Wachau GrA1/4ner Veltliner Federspiel Terrassen (suggested retail $15; available in market for $11-$17) The grapes are grown in Austria's Wachau region, and the wine that results is crisp with pear, stony mineral, and citrus elements. The wine tastes full and delicious, while retaining its bright and lively profile. Excellent QPR. I love Gruner Veltliner with fish, roasted chicken, anything made with lentils, and even Indian food.

2009 Leo Steen Chenin Blanc Saini Farms (purchased in my local grocery store for $19.99; available in market for around $17) Made from grapes grown in Sonoma County's Dry Creek Valley, this lovely Chenin Blanc is a lovely, dry example. There are apple and honeycomb aromas and flavors, which bring back the tastes of summer. If you like the apple notes in Chardonnay, but are not always fond of the oak that many winemakers use, try this wine and you won't be disappointed. And if you're looking for wines to set aside for Thanksgiving, this would be a great choice.

Full Disclosure: With the exception of the Chenin Blanc, I received samples of these wines for possible review.

Autumn's Transitional Red

The temperature is up.
You want to use your grill once last time before you put it away.
You want to break out your crock pot.

If this sounds like you, then you need to have some Malbec on hand. Many people associate Malbecs with summer barbeques, but this versatile red is just as good with soups or stews as it is with grilled chicken or steak. In other words, it's the perfect transitional red!

A few reminders about Malbec: though today the grape is most associated with Argentina , it was once quite popular in Bordeaux and produces wines that remind me of French Cabernets and Merlots. Expect a rich, full-bodied wine that can hold center stage. And keep in mind that while some Malbecs can be big, fun fruit-bombs, others are far more restrained and can exhibit mineral and herbal characteristics.

Here are three Argentinian Malbecs I'm recommending this autumn:

2010 Colores Del Sol Malbec (suggested retail $12; available in market for $6-$12) This excellent QPR option has lovely, lush blackberry and boysenberry aromas. That fruity aroma profile is found in the flavors, as well, and there are additional notes of leather and spice which linger on after the fruit flavors fade. This Malbec will go well with grilled sausages, meats, chilis, and stews.

(suggested retail $14.99; available in market for $8-$11) A more restrained example, with typical varietal characteristics, this wine has earthier, raisin, and black cherry aromas and flavors. With air there was a nice spicebox quality to the aftertaste, as well as some tobacco notes. Very good QPR at around $15, if you can find it for around $10 I think it would be excellent QPR for those looking for a more traditional taste.

2009 Argento Malbec Reserva (suggested retail $16; available in market for $14-$16). Don't be worried if the plum aromas are faint when you first open this wine. They develop nicely with some exposure to the air, as do the plum, blackberry, and tobacco leaf flavors. The tannins are drying, and will probably soften a bit with storage time. Also traditional in style, this would be particularly good with grilled or braised meat. Very good QPR.

Full Disclosure: I received samples of these wines for possible review.

To Reserve or Not to Reserve? And What's the Difference Anyway?

In your wanderings down supermarket aisles and through wine stores, you may have come across wines labeled "Reserve" or bearing the name of a vineyard and wondered what the designations were all about. What does it mean to be a "reserve" wine? A vineyard wine? And what difference--if any--does it make to the taste? Or the price tag?

If you are confused about what "Reserve" means there is a good reason for it: there is no standard or regulated use of the term. In its purest sense, it was once used by winemakers to specially mark wines they felt were superior. Today, it can be used to indicate the wines have been reserved in the winery for an extra year or two, that they received special oak treatment, that the grapes used in the wine were from a select portion of those harvested, or some combination. It can also be used purely as a marketing term, because who wouldn't want a special wine?
Wines with vineyard designations are regulated, however, and if you see the name of a vineyard on a bottle it means that 95% of the grapes used in the wine must come from that vineyard. Vineyards vary tremendously in terms of soil, climate, and exposure and all of these variables can alter the taste of your wine. Sometimes, a winemaker feels that the grapes grown in a particular patch exhibit special characteristics, and they decide to keep that fruit separate to accentuate the unique qualities of the grapes.

Recently I had a chance to taste three wines made from the same maker, from the same grape, and all from grapes grown in the same county (although different parts of that county). One was the standard bottling, one was a vineyard designate, and one was a reserve bottling. All three were excellent--but had distinctively different taste. Here's my take on them.
2009 Rodney Strong Chardonnay Sonoma County (suggested retail $13.50; available in the market for $8-$15). A clean and crisp Chardonnay, with apple and lemon aromas and flavors accented by richer pineapple and creamy vanilla notes. A portion of the juice was fermented in barrels, the rest in a tank, which helps to explain both the vanilla notes (the oak) and the crispness (from the stainless steel tanks). Flavorful, well-balanced and food friendly. Very good QPR.

2009 Rodney Strong Chardonnay Chalk Hill (suggested retail ; available in the market for $13-$21) This wine was made from grapes grown in an estate vineyard in the Russian River Valley. A distinctive, classy Chardonnay with apple and toasted oak aromas followed by apple flavors. Layers of cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg make the wine spicy, but the apple flavors remain strong and keep the wine fresh as do the underlying mineral notes. The aftertaste is nicely spicy, too, in part from the time the juice spent in both new and seasoned French oak barrels. Very good QPR.

(suggested retail $35; available in the market for $24-$35). This wine was one year older than the others I tasted (even though it is a recent release) and tasted and smelled far richer with its apple and toasted coconut aromas. Full, creamy baked apple and sour cream flavors were followed up with a rich, spicy aftertaste. The Rodney Strong website explains that the wine was made in their "small lot winemaking facility," and that the juice was fermented in French oak barrels. Though this wine cost significantly more, it was an excellent value of the rich, oaky style of California Chardonnay. Very good QPR.

When faced with a decision of whether to choose a standard, vineyard designate, or reserve bottling, remember this: it's all about the taste and what you find affordable. In this case, the higher priced wines were richer-tasting, in large part because of their contact time with expensive oak barrels. However, sometimes what you want is a crisp Chardonnay. In that case, you'd be far happier with the Sonoma County bottling! As for me, my palate was most pleased with the Chalk Hill example.

As for food pairings, any of these wines would provide you with a pleasant Chardonnay to pair with your late summer/early fall dinners of grilled or roasted chicken, butternut squash ravioli, or grilled halibut.

Full Disclosure: I received samples of these wines for possible review.

Love Fish? Try Falanghina

I don't know why, but recently my largely-chicken diet has turned in the direction of fish. This means my white wine preferences are shifting subtly, too. It's harder and harder for me to find a Chardonnay that doesn't overwhelm fish's delicate flavors. Sauvignon Blancs can be too assertive. Riesling doesn't work for my tastebuds for some reason, unless the fish preparation is quite spicy or I'm having shrimp.
So I kept searching for whites that would pair well with my fish tacos, linguine alle vongole, grilled tuna, halibut, scallops, and shrimp. And I found Falanghina. This wonderful grape is native to the southern Italian region of Campania, and is especially well-known in the vineyards around Naples on the Amalfi Coast.

The wine that knocked my socks off and won a permanent spot on my table is the 2009 VIVI Falanghina Campania IGT. And the suggested retail price? $9.99 (available in the market for $8-$13). You will find that the wine smells fresh and floral, like sitting in a garden by the seaside on a summer's day. As you swirl it in your glass, you may notice some citrus notes, too. Flavors of lemon and honeycomb round out the wine. And while there is plenty of zip and acidity in the juicy aftertaste, it will not overwhelm the delicacy of the seafood or fish you might be serving. Excellent QPR.

Full Disclosure: I received a sample of this wine for possible review.

Fire Up the Grills--and Buy Cabernet Sauvignon

It was 90 degrees in Los Angeles. I know it's snowing in Buffalo, but here it is spring (or maybe even summer). So last night I fired up the grill for the first time, marinaded a skirt steak, threw some sweet potatoes in the oven (note to self: roasting potatoes in oven for an hour heats up the house), and tossed some cherry tomatoes with mozzarella, fresh basil, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Then I hit the Cabernets.

I love grilled steak with Cabernet Sauvignon, and I have three recommendations for you: one under $10, one under $15, and the other just a hair over $20. Even if you are experiencing snow, these wines would also be good with stews, braised short ribs, or a pot of chili.
Under $10: 2009 Big House Wine Company The Usual Suspect Cabernet Sauvignon (suggested retail $9.99; available for $6-$10). Not the most complex Cabernet, perhaps, but a solid example of the grape with characteristic plum and currant aromas. The palate was dominated with plum notes and accented by a bitter taste reminiscent of coffee grounds. The aftertaste was nicely bitter, too, which kept this fruit-forward wine from becoming too jammy. A touch of Grenache is blended into the Cabernet. Good QPR.
Under $15: 2009 Robert Oatley Cabernet Sauvignon James Oatley TIC TOK (suggested retail $14; available for $12-$16) This is another fruit-forward Cabernet, with currant and blackberry aromas and flowers. A spicy aftertaste is accompanied by nice tannins that have just enough grip. Very good QPR.

(suggested retail $22; this new release currently available at the vineyard; previous releases available elsewhere for $15-$25) This was a wonderful wine, and tasted like something considerably more expensive than the sticker price. Aromas and flavors of currant, pencil lead, and eucalyptus made for an elegant and complex wine. With air, the currant notes turn plummy. The aftertaste is smooth, with spicy, well-integrated tannins. This is a lot of wine for $22, and excellent QPR.

Full Disclosure: I received samples of these wines for possible review.

A Candidate for Your House White: d'Arenberg's The Stump Jump

Last week I was extolling the virtues of red blends. After I wrote the post, I realized that though there were many red blends in my cellar, there weren't many white blends. I'm not sure why that's the case, because what goes for reds is true of whites as well: the blending can make the wine especially food friendly and versatile. And, just as with red blends, there is often a very attractive price tag on a white blend.
So I looked in the closet to see if I had any white blends and discovered a bottle of the 2009 d'Arenberg The Stump Jump (suggested retail $10; available for $9-$13) This is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Marsanne, and Riesling. As with most good blends, you can identify the individual components in the finished product. In this case, the Sauvignon Blanc is evident in the aroma which is very grassy, and that grassiness is accompanied by touches of honey from the Marsanne. The flavors have notes of pear, grapefruit pith, and a bit of litchi--so there's more Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling influence there. The mouthfeel is heavier than some whites, thanks largely to the Marsanne. The aftertaste reminded me of a dry Riesling, with its acidity and apple notes. I would have liked the wine to be a bit more fruit-forward--which is not something I say often. Even so, this wine is a good candidate for a house white because of its versatility and very good QPR. I looked over my notes from previous vintages, too, and this wine has consistently been good all the way back to 2004, which is another reason to try a bottle if you see one in the store, irrespective of its vintage.

Proof of the wine's versatility can be had by pairing it with something like this Soba Noodle Salad with Salmon and Asparagus from Bon Appetit magazine. With the rich salmon and avocado, the grassy asparagus, and the ginger-soy dressing, it's a bit of a challenge--but this wine handled it beautifully. The Sauvignon Blanc worked well with the asparagus, the Riesling with the Asian flavors, and the Marsanne stood up to the buckwheat and salmon.

Full Disclosure: I received a sample of this wine for review.

A Red for All Seasons

Last week I was extolling the virtues of spring. Now it's grey and drizzly again. In some places, it's still snowing. With the variable weather, it's hard to know which way is up. Do you dust off the grill and barbecue chicken? Or do you make a pot of stew? And what do you drink in the wine department, given it can be 86 degrees one day and 59 degrees the next?
Regular readers know that I love red blends because they're food friendly. This time of year, though, I am especially fond of them because their versatility means that they are as welcome next to grilled chicken as they are soup. So when the weather gets this way I make a bit pot of chili, pick out a red blend, and no matter whether if feels like June or January I'm ready to go.

A red blend I enjoyed recently with a pot of beef and black bean chili was the 2006 Tamarack Cellars Firehouse Red from Washington state's Columbia Valley. ($19.69 in my local independent grocery store; this vintage available for $20-$25, but more recent vintages can be had for $14-$22) Composed from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, and Merlot, the result is a juicy, fruit-forward wine with good structure. I've had my bottle for several years, and it's drinking just great now. I detected aromas of blueberry, cinnamon, and baking chocolate, all of which are echoed in the palate. The wine retains a fresh, lively taste through the mouth-watering aftertaste, with some additional herbal and spice notes. What I enjoyed most was the play between the varieties: the Cabernet Sauvignon lending its weight and acidity, the Syrah providing those soft berry flavors and spice, the Cabernet Franc lifting the blend with some acidity and herbs, and the Merlot making it approachable and inviting. Very good QPR.

And if you're looking for some chili recipes, here are a few of my favorites to try:

Fine Cooking's Beef and Black Bean Chili with Chipotle and Avocado

Rachael Ray's Fiery Chicken Chili (warning: makes enough for medium-sized army)

Tyler Florence's Outrageous Texas Chili

Spring/Sprung: Three White Wines Perfect for the Season

Sorry about the long silence, folks, but I've been--er--busy. And I managed to catch the mother of all winter colds, which lasted three weeks and pretty much made tasting anything (wine included) an impossibility.

Now that I'm sprung from booktours and the 'flu, I'm back home, and having a glass of wine with dinner again, so I've got some tasting notes for you. The first are all about spring. It's definitely in the air here in Los Angeles and if you haven't caught a whiff of it yet, you soon will. Here are some lively white wines to celebrate the freshness of the air and the first flowers:
2009 Graves Monkey Wrench ($17.99, domaineLA; available for $17-$23) This wine is blended from one of my favorite white grapes--Grenache Blanc--and Viognier. The result is a fresh, zesty, and well-balanced with lime and mango aromas and flavors. These fruity notes are kept in check with strong minerality and tangy acidity. You will enjoy this with grilled fish, a chicken salad, or Asian food. Excellent QPR. (NB: label if from 2006--I drank the 2009)

(suggested retail $16; available for $10-$23) In the "even zestier" department, this New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc will appeal to the most die-hard lovers of the fresh wines from the Marlborough region. Abundant gooseberry, lime, and lemongrass aromas and flavors will make it ideal with Thai food, the fresh vegetables of the season (I imagine it would be wonderful with an herb risotto, for example), or citrus-roasted chicken. Very good QPR.

2009 Franciscan Chardonnay
(suggested retail $18; available for $12-$22) Finally, if you like a slightly richer wine but are ready to swap your buttery wintery Chardonnays for one that has a bit more zip, try this excellent QPR bottling from Napa. It's one of the best domestic Chardonnays I've had in some time, and is memorable for its liveliness, its excellent balance, and the zesty citrus and apple flavor profile. Elegant and food-friendly, have this one with your richer dishes like a scalloped potato and fennel gratin, your favorite chicken dish, or some grilled chicken-apple sausages and a tossed salad.

Full Disclosure: I received samples of the Chasing Venus and Franciscan wines for review. I purchased the Graves bottling myself.

The Virtues of Simple Perfection: Cep Sauvignon Blanc

Simplicity is underrated. Perfection is overrated. But what do you do when you find a wine that is quite simply perfect? Well, you enjoy it first. Then, if you're me, you write about it here and hope that you can still get your hands on some later.
Some readers will find it surprising that the wine that I'm touting is a Sauvignon Blanc. One person I know recently described Sauvignon Blanc as "boring," and while I couldn't disagree more I think I understand why some she might feel this way. There are a lot of generically "citrusy" Sauvignon Blancs out there that, though refreshing, aren't necessarily going to make you run out and buy more. I think this Sauvignon Blanc is different, though. And even though you might pay a smidge over $20 as I did, I think you will still consider it excellent QPR.

The 2009 Cep Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Hopkins Ranch ($20.99 in my local independent grocery store; available in the market for $15-$20) is a wonderful example of Sauvignon Blanc. Instead of a generically "citrusy" mouthful, I detected pure notes of Meyer Lemon in the aromas and flavors. There was a clean note of mint, as well, and some stoniness that added depth and breadth to the wine. It was almost piercing in its intensity, but never overwhelming or assertive, with lots of focus to the flavors and a long, juicy aftertaste. Think of pairing this wine with Asian food that uses citrus elements like orange peel or lemon, a roast chicken, an early spring salad topped with rounds of goat cheese, or seafood.

This stylish, well-made, and satisfying wine was brought to you by the same people who own and operate Peay Vineyards, and are winemakers renowned and respected for their ability to select great fruit and craft great wines from that fruit. Cep is their second label--which means that fruit that doesn't quite make the cut of their high-end wines is bottled under a different name--and was for a time a well-kept secret. Now the secret it out, and it gives more people a chance to taste their winemaking efforts. Cep also bottles a superb rosA(c) and Pinot Noir, so keep your eyes out for these, too.

Your House Red: Boxed and Ready to Go

I'm the only wine drinker in my house. And there are times, like now, when things are so crazy that planning menus and opening bottles of wine that will in all likelihood go off before I can finish them up doesn't make sense. Enter the new generation of boxed wines.
I'm particularly partial to the Octavin, which has a fantastic spigot contraption that doesn't leak or drip. There are other options out there, too, and all of them keep air from getting to the wine thereby keeping the wine fresh-tasting for weeks, rather than days. The only downside of the Octavin is that with white wines they take up a certain amount of prime refrigerator real estate. With reds, you just set them in a cool place on the counter and enjoy a glass whenever the mood strikes.

Given the convenience of the packaging, I was particularly pleased to receive this sample of the NV Bodegas Osborne Seven because it is an ideal candidate for a house red--you know, the easy-drinking reds that go with practically everything and are great to have on hand. And the price is right, too: a 3.0 L size Octavin (equivalent to 4 bottles of wine) has a suggested retail of just $22. (available in the market for $16-$21)

The very good QPR NV Bodegas Osborne Seven is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Tempranillo, Grenache, and Graciano. With all those grapes in it, it's hard to pin a varietal character on the wine. Instead, this is a "red" wine--which is not a bad thing on a Tuesday night when you're making Mark Bittman's chicken with roasted potatoes and Romesco sauce. I could smell the Grenache in the floral and fruity aromas. The Syrah and Petit Verdot are evident in the flavors which span the plum and blackberry spectrum. There are some darker notes, too: dark chocolate and ground coffee.

This wine will go with pasta, soup, stew, pizza, burgers, steaks--you name it.

Full Disclosure: I received a sample of this wine for review.

Getting Rid of Muscle Soreness After Working Out

Stepping into the gym can be a massive ordeal for some people. Not only is it painful while you are there, but have left you in agony for days afterward. This can be a considerable deterrent for individuals who are out of shape. It prevents many of them from ever going to the gym in […]

The post Getting Rid of Muscle Soreness After Working Out appeared first on Fitness Health Zone.

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