9 Greek habits I had to lose when I moved to the US


1. Calling waiters by shouting and/or waving my hands.

There are a number of ways we call waiters in Greece, including raising our hand and clicking our finger, shouting out “φἰλε” (friend), or just generally making enough noise until they notice us. I learned in the US it’s a good way to get someone to spit in my soup and have my date ashamedly pretend not to know me.

2. Telling someone with a headache they might have the evil eye.

Are you feeling tired? Out of it? You’re matiasmenos (ματιασμἐνος). Want me to call my aunt for xematiasma (ξεμἀτιασμα) to get rid of it?

For some reason the phrase “evil eye” in the US conjures up some image of weird black magic practices, while in Greece it’s considered a very frequent occurrence. Basically, someone was jealous or envious of you and made you sick with their negative energy. No matter your feelings on the subject, I still think the eye bracelets meant to ward off the evil eye are quite pretty to wear.

3. Stopping at the bakery every morning for coffee and tiropita.

I don’t remember the last time I went to a bakery in the US. In Greece, it’s my pretty usual morning routine to stop by for coffee and tiropita (τυρὀπιτα) — cheese pie.

4. Expecting there to be a beach and beach bar within one hour driving distance max.

Greece has lovely beaches on pretty much every stretch of coast. What’s more, we love to spend a lot of time at the beach, and have built up plenty of restaurants, cafes, and bars right on the sand to help us in this endeavor. In most places in the US (with the exception of certain parts like Miami), the beach is meant to be an infrequent day trip where you just lay on the sand with friends. I also had to come to grips with the fact that for a lot of the US population towards the center of the country, the beach is barely accessible at all.

5. Eating dinner at 10pm.

I remember the first time in the US I was invited to my friend’s house at 5 PM. For dinner. My stomach didn’t even know how to process anything at that time. Best just to consider it a late lunch.

6. Staying for an hour or two after dinner at a restaurant to chat and drink and generally be loud.

This is expected in Greece, but when I do it in the US, the waiter starts giving meannoyed glances and stops by my table every 5 minutes to ask if everything is OK and maybe perhaps I should get the check now, hmmm?

7. Having bread and feta served with almost every meal .

Why don’t Americans realize that feta can be eaten with almost everything?

8. Blowing through red lights and one-way streets.

I learned from my first time driving in Greece that red lights and one-way street signs are more like suggestions than actual rules. There is an intersection with a main road by my house where some helpful local soul put up a sign saying, “Be careful, drivers run the red light on the main road”. When I go back to Greece with my American driving habits, people start looking at me strangely if I’m stopped too long at a red light with no one coming.

9. Getting crepes after the bar.

This is one of my favorite traditions. I don’t know how this came to be, but much like In N Out in California or oversized pizza in New York, crepes in Greece are our ultimate after-bar/club food. Nothing better than a chocolate and biscuit crepe after a long night of drinking and dancing.


6 Habits That Are Making You Lose Muscle, Not Fat

Even the best-intentioned plans can backfire.

You know the routine: Losing weight means chowing down on fewer calories than you’re burning. But if you’re not smart about it, even the best-intentioned plans can backfire. That’s because dropping pounds always means shedding a mix of both fat and muscle. Since muscle burns more calories than fat, having less of it slows down your metabolism, making it even harder to shed pounds, says Albert Matheny, C.S.C.S., R.D., founder of the Soho Strength Lab. Fortunately there are steps you can take to minimize muscle loss. To keep your body’s calorie-burning machine revved, steer clear of these six habits that make you more likely to lose muscle.

Eating less calories than it takes to maintain your basal metabolism (i.e., the minimum energy your body needs at rest for things like breathing and keeping your organs going) puts your body into starvation mode, where it burns both fat and muscle for fuel. “Your body’s main goal is to keep you alive, so it’s going to make sure that you have enough energy for basic functions,” says Matheny.

(Learn how to blast fat and tone your entire body with workouts from the Women's Health Guide to Strength Training!)

“When you’re not taking in enough calories, your body takes from stored carbs (glycogen), stored fat, and protein from muscle,” explains Nick Clayton, C.S.C.S., the personal training program manager for the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Exactly how many calories is too few depends on your current weight, although no one should dip below 1,000 calories.

The solution: To maximize fat loss and minimize muscle loss, Clayton recommends a deficit of between 500 to 1,000 calories from your current daily intake, with about half coming from calories you’ve cut and half from exercise.

Weight loss isn’t just about how much you eat—it’s about what you put in your mouth, too. A 2016 study found that when people went on a low-calorie diet for four weeks, those who ate more protein (2.4 vs. 1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight) lost 27 percent more fat (10.6 vs. 7.6 pounds) and gained eight times as much lean muscle mass (2.6 vs. 0.22 pounds). That’s because the complete protein found in foods like eggs, poultry, dairy, and meats offers all nine of the essential amino acids your body uses to build and maintain muscle. “If you’re not getting enough protein, you’re not giving your body the building blocks to build muscle efficiently. If you’re losing weight, you’ll lose even more muscle,” says Matheny.

The solution: For dieters, Clayton suggests 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (or about 0.7 grams per pound). If you weigh 120 pounds, you’d aim for 80 to 90 grams of protein daily—that’s about one-third of your total daily calories, or 25 grams of protein per meal plus a protein-rich snack.

Check out this delicious protein-packed snack:

To maintain muscle, your body needs a push. “When you’re not stimulating your muscle, your body won’t build it,” says Matheny. “If you’re on a really low-calorie diet and not resistance training, you definitely won’t add muscle, and you may lose some.” Indeed, one small 2014 study found that when obese people went on a diet, those who resistance trained lost about the same amount of weight overall as those who weren’t lifting—and they lost half as much muscle (0.9 vs. 2 kg). In fact, lifting weights might actually be a better long-term fat-blaster than cardio: A 2015 Harvard study of more than 10,500 people found that over 12 years, people who weight trained lost about twice as much belly fat (0.33 cm vs. 0.67 waist circumference) as those who just did cardio.

The solution: To see benefits, Clayton suggests fitting in one to two intense weight-lifting sessions per week incorporating mostly full-body moves like squats, lunges, and pushups. Use as much weight as you can handle and work to exhaustion for two to three sets of eight to 12 reps each.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Lose Weight Without Going Low-Carb

Refueling right after you work out is as important as the weights you lift. “If you’re not eating after workouts, there’s a higher chance you won’t recover. And if you’re not repairing the muscle you broke down, you’ll lose it,” says Matheny. The longer you wait to munch, the less efficient and effective that repair process will be.

The solution: Matheny says if you’ve worked out moderately for at least 45 minutes, you should down about 20 grams of high-quality protein, like a protein shake or Greek yogurt, within 15 to 30 minutes

RELATED: The Vibrating Tool Khloe Kardashian Uses After Her Workouts

You might think that sweating it out on the elliptical for an hour every day is the way to churn through calories and body fat when you’re dieting, right? Wrong. Unlike weight lifting, which engages all of your muscle fibers, cardio doesn’t build muscle. In fact, it can burn it. Although your body uses mostly stored fat to fuel low-intensity cardio like an hour of walking, if you’re on a calorie deficit and jog for 45 minutes your body taps into muscle for fuel. “Moderate-intensity exercise is most likely to lead to muscle wasting,” says Clayton. A good sign that’s happening is when, a couple of sessions in, you can’t make it the full distance at the same intensity, says Matheny.

The solution: To avoid muscle loss, schedule low-intensity cardio, like walks, three to four days per week, suggests Clayton. Then, one to two times per week, blast through four minutes of high-intensity cardio intervals (alternating 20 second all-out sprints with 10 seconds rest). “It shocks your system and has a ton of health benefits, including protecting your muscle,” says Clayton.

RELATED: 6 Fat-Blasting Cardio Moves You Can Do At Home

To shed pounds efficiently, your body needs enough rest. “If you’re not sleeping, your hormones aren’t functioning properly. You’ll have high cortisol levels, which increases the chance that you’ll store carbs as fat,” says Matheny. What’s more, because you’re tired you won’t be able to work out as hard. That means you won’t build as much muscle and over time may even lose the bit you’ve got.

The solution: Don’t skimp on hitting the sack. Try to schedule in seven to nine hours every night.


20. You're struggling with food addiction.

If you find yourself desperately craving food at all costs—and it’s sabotaging your diet and exercise efforts—you could be dealing with a food addiction. This doesn’t mean you’re not motivated or “strong enough” to defeat your cravings and lose weight, you may have developed an emotional reliance on food.

If you are prone to binging or gorging, focus nonstop on food, have trouble functioning in your job or personal life, or suffer from anxiety, depression, or insomnia, reach out to a health-care provider ASAP to be evaluated for food addiction. It’s a type of eating disorder, and there is help available.

The bottom line: Clearly, there are a ton of reasons you might be struggling to lose weight, even if you are dieting and exercising more. If you feel you're dealing with any of the issues above, it's worth talking to your doctor, a therapist, or a dietitian to get help so you can reach a weight you feel comfortable and healthy at.


Our Sympathetic High Priest

There are several words in the Greek New Testament that reveal insights into the marvelous compassion of the Lord with reference to sinful, suffering humanity. Let us think about this for a moment.

The book of Hebrews has this exciting passage.

For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but one who has been tempted like as we are, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15).

Of special interest is the term “touched.” It translates the Greek sympatheo , from sun (with) and patheo (to feel). Hence, the meaning is “to feel with.” Our English “sympathy” is derived from this word.

Michaelis notes that the term “does not signify a sympathetic understanding that is ready to condone, but a fellow feeling that derives from full acquaintance with the seriousness of the situation as a result of successfully withstanding the temptation” (Bromiley, 802-803).

The Christian who struggles against the urgings of temptation may be assured that there is someone who understands this difficulty and is sympathetic to us as we engage the battle against carnality (cf. Rom. 7:14ff, 1 Cor. 9:27).

But let’s think about the compassion of Christ from two additional vantage points.

First, there is the personal concern the Lord exhibited in his interaction with those among whom he moved during his sojourn on earth.

Second, there was the teaching he did. He wove insights concerning divine sympathy into the fabric of his instruction.


Blood Glucose Levels and Diabetes

Your blood sugar level normally rises after you eat. Then it dips a few hours later as insulin moves glucose into your cells. Between meals, your blood sugar should be less than 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl). This is called your fasting blood sugar level.

  • In type 1 diabetes, your body doesn't have enough insulin. The immune system attacks and destroys cells of the pancreas, where insulin is made.
  • In type 2 diabetes, the cells don't respond to insulin like they should. So the pancreas needs to make more and more insulin to move glucose into the cells. Eventually, the pancreas is damaged and can't make enough insulin to meet the body's needs.

Without enough insulin, glucose can't move into the cells. The blood glucose level stays high. A level over 200 mg/dl 2 hours after a meal or over 125 mg/dl fasting is high blood glucose, called hyperglycemia.

Too much glucose in your bloodstream for a long period of time can damage the vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to your organs. High blood sugar can increase your risk for:

  • Heart disease, heart attack, and stroke
  • Kidney disease
  • Nerve damage
  • Eye disease called retinopathy

People with diabetes need to test their blood sugar often. Exercise, diet, and medicine can help keep blood glucose in a healthy range and prevent these complications.

Sources

American Diabetes Association: "The Liver's Role: How It Processes Fats and Carbs."

American Foundation for the Blind: "What is the Difference Between Hyperglycemia and Hypoglycemia?"

Group Health: "How Our Bodies Turn Food Into Energy."

Insel, P. Nutrition, 2004.

Joslin Diabetes Center: "Goals for Blood Glucose Control" and "High Blood Glucose: What it Means and How to Treat it."

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Insulin Resistance and Prediabetes"В and "Your Guide to Diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2."

NCBI: "Molecular Biology of the Cell, 4th Edition."


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