Unedited

Meet the Experience Life team, and get a behind-the-scenes look at how the magazine comes together each month.

Experience Life Magazine

Secrets of Sustainable Weight Loss

CalorieMythHere are three critically important facts about sustainable weight loss from Jonathan Bailor’s terrific new book The Calorie Myth — an essential read for anyone interested in this topic.

1. Studies show that when it comes to losing body fat, eating less (restricting calories) is worse than doing nothing. Why, asks Bailor? “After our body survives starvation, its number one priority is storing all the body fat it lost and then protecting us from starving in the future. It does that by storing additional body fat. Researcher’s call this ‘fat super accumulation’ and they believe it is a primary trigger for ‘relapsing obesity.’”

2. At least one in four Americans is insulin resistant. All that extra insulin creates a hormonal clog in our bodies and causes our weight set-point to creep up. What’s more, writes Bailor, “no matter how resistant other tissues become to insulin, our fat tissue is always receptive. While that is technically good because it keeps insulin resistance from killing us (it prevents toxically high levels of blood sugar), it can prevent us from losing weight. We end up with more body fat and no ability to burn it.”

3. “Body-fat storage is not caused by eating a lot of food. Body-fat storage is triggered as a response to eating food that causes us to have more glucose in our bloodstream than we can use at one time … The distinction between ‘a lot of food’ and ‘a lot of glucose right now’ is important.”

TELL US: What sustainable weight-loss strategies have helped you maintain the results for the long-term? Comment below or tweet us at @ExperienceLife. 

Laine Bergeson is an Experience Life senior editor. 

Experience Life Magazine

TAKING NOTES: Why Good Bacteria Are Our Friends

Good Bacteria, Welcome

Read more about the benefits of gut flora in “Good Bacteria, Welcome.”

In February, several Experience Life staffers (including me!) attended the annual Integrative Healthcare Symposium (IHS) in New York City. It is truly one of my favorite times of the year — a chance to learn, walk, talk, and eat with my fantastic co-workers.

Below are some of the key takeaways from “Restoring Balance and Harmony to the Gut Microbiome,” a talk on the all-important gut-health connection given by two digestive-health dynamos — Gerard Mullin, MD, an integrative gastroenterologist at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Liz Lipski, PhD, a holistic clinical nutritionist specializing in digestive wellness. Bon appétit!

  • There is a lot more information going from the gut to the brain than the brain to the gut. –Liz Lipski
  • We can use food as medicine to alter the composition of our gut flora. –Gerard Mullin
  • One dose of Cipro can have lasting effects on the immune system. –Gerard Mullin
  • When you deplete good bacteria, you can have an overgrowth of the pathogens that float through us everyday, such as C. difficile. –Gerard Mullin
  • I had a friend who had most of his colon taken out. He had depression all his life and was on medications and never felt good and had chronic fatigue, but when they took out his colon, he went off all his meds and now he feels like a million bucks. You think there was some kind of gut-brain connection there? I do. –Liz Lipski
  • We eat to take in nutrients. But, at the same time, we are also feeding the three to four pounds of bacteria that run our immune system and our metabolism — if we don’t give them the right substances, they are not going to give the right messages to our cells and our genes. –Liz Lipski
  • After Hiroshima, people who drank miso soup had lower rates of cancer and death. –Liz Lipski
  • Carbohydrates is what the bugs like to eat, so if we can control the types of carbs we give people, then we can have a profound effect on health. –Liz Lipski
  • Our microbiota educates the immune system to recognize self from non-self. –Gerard Mullin

 

For more on the microbiome and the gut-health connection, see “Your Microbiome: The Ecosystem Inside” from our June 2013 issue.

 Anjula Razdan is a senior editor for Experience Life

Experience Life Magazine

A Simpler, Cleaner Makeup Regimen

Learn about about a growing number of companies that are cleaning up their cosmetic lines in “Beauty Makeover.”

I’ve been playing with and wearing makeup for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories, in fact, is the day my grandparents took me to visit my new baby sister in the hospital. I was 2 1/2 years old, and wore my grandmother’s bright red lipstick; I also donned a pair of large clip-on costume earrings that were pink. The rest is history.

I’ve learned over the years, thankfully, that less is more. It wasn’t until last spring, though, that I began cleaning up my makeup supply, aiming to get rid of all those toxin-laden products. It was one of the last areas in my home to be clean-sweeped of nasty, no-good-for-you ingredients — many of which have never been tested for safety:

The FDA still has no real oversight on the cosmetics industry. Determining the safety of a product remains up to the company that makes it, and not all yet have consumer well-being top of mind. According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics Web site, “The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR), the industry’s self-policing safety panel, falls far short of compensating for the lack of FDA oversight. . . . [I]n its more than 30-year history, the CIR has reviewed the safety of only 11 percent of the ingredients used to formulate personal-care products.”

One way this not-so-regulatory climate could change is if the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011 (or something like it) eventually passes. The bill would grant the FDA authority (and, more significantly, responsibility) for ensuring that personal-care products do not contain harmful ingredients. “The bill would phase out carcinogens and reproductive toxins; it would require full disclosure of ingredients [including in salon products and fragrance, currently protected under trade-secret laws], and it would set up a safety review system under the FDA. It would give the FDA funding through fees on the big companies — they’d essentially be paying for an FDA review instead of their own review,” explains Stacy Malkan, the author of Not Just a Pretty Face: the Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry. — “Beauty Makeover,” Experience Life, Jan/Feb 2012)

I started my quest for clean by perusing Experience Life‘s Worthy Goods, where we feature everything from personal-care products to sports gear. That’s where I came across pro-aging advocate and former makeup artist Cindy Joseph’s BOOM! products. These three “sticks” — Glo is an all-over moisturizer; Color is a blush and lipstick; Glimmer is for shimmer and radiance — are made with natural ingredients and contain no parabens or phthalates.

Joseph’s philosophy is not to mask wrinkles, but rather to highlight the “stories” left by years of living: “BOOM! is for women who want to reveal their genuine beauty with an honest and realist approach.”

I shared this revolutionary approach with my mother-in-law a day or two later — she too was looking for a simpler beauty regimen.

Fast-forward to early June: I had just given birth to my second daughter, and was feeling and looking less than 100 percent when my in-laws stopped by to meet their new granddaughter. My dismay at them seeing me in this state was quickly remedied when I opened a gift: the BOOMSTICK Trio!

That was nine months ago, and BOOMSTICKS are at the core of my makeup regimen, with a few products from Dr. Hauschka, Burt’s Bees, and Origins rounding out my cosmetic bag. I’ve had more compliments than ever, with people regularly commenting on my “glow.”

In those moments, I always share my affection for these clean products: Not only do I feel beautiful when I use them, but I also feel good about what it’s them. Plus, the regimen is simple: It takes me less than two minutes to get ready in the mornings — a necessity when you’re wrangling kids and trying to get out the door.

Now if only I could find a way to simplify my hair-care routine …

TELL US: What clean personal-care products do you love? Comment below or tweet us @ExperienceLife.

Jamie Martin is Experience Life’s director of digital initiatives. 

Experience Life Magazine

DIY Samoa Sugar Scrub

homemade body scrub ingredients

The ingredients.

Coconut. Caramel. Chocolate. Sounds like the makings of a samoa cookie recipe, but this is even better — a homemade body scrub that leaves skin feeling silky, smells like dessert, and actually puts sugar to good use.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup solid coconut oil
  • 2 tbs. cocoa powder
  • A couple of drops of vanilla, coconut, or almond extract
samoa sugar scrub

Body scrub … or brownie batter?

To make: Combine all ingredients in a bowl until well mixed (it will have the consistency of batter). Transfer to a jar or other container of choice.

To use: Slather on skin, rub in, and rinse off.

Tell us: Do you have a favorite DIY beauty “recipe”? Leave a comment below or tweet us @ExperienceLife. 

Maggie Fazeli Fard is Experience Life’s staff writer. 

Experience Life Magazine

Fenugreek Hot Chocolate Recipe

fenugreek_powder

Pulverized fenugreek seeds. (Image via nuts.com.)

In my ongoing quest to avoid sugar (yet not completely strip my diet of joy), I’ve made a tasty new discovery: When added to a dark hot chocolate, fenugreek powder gives the drink a maple syrup flavor; no other sweetener necessary!

On top of being a big fat ZERO when it comes to raising your blood sugar, fenugreek is crazy, ridiculously good for you, thanks to a naturally occurring compound called diosgenin, which has been shown to improve glucose metabolism, reduce inflammation, and protect against a particularly pernicious form of breast cancer (HER2).

The compound is fat soluble, however, so make sure you load up your fenugreek drinks with a healthy fat. Here’s what I’ve been making:

Fenugreek Hot Chocolate

  • One cup boiling water
  • 1 to 2 tsp. organic raw cacao powder (depending on preference)
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. fenugreek powder (depending on preference)
  • 3 (or more!) tbs. homemade almond milk (though any full-fat milk or milk alternative would work)

Stir. Drink. Let your cells bask in an unprecedented state of anti-inflammation and metabolic efficiency!

Laine Bergeson is an Experience Life senior editor. 

Experience Life Magazine

On The Bike: Commute by Bicycle and Be Happy

I took the long way to work today. To tell the truth, I do this most days. Commuting by bicycle inspires me to ride out of my way — check how the sunrise is progressing across the Mississippi River, see how our nearby waterfall is faring, or simply stretch my legs a bit. My office lies almost due east from my home, but I often aim my bike north, south, or west before doubling back. I heart my daily bike commute.

Turns out I’m not alone.

A recent study found that people who bicycle to work are the happiest with their commutes — and have the highest sense of overall well-being. Call it road rave, instead of road rage.

Wanting to stretch my knowledge on this, I contacted study author Oliver Smith, PhD, who tells me, “Even when income, job satisfaction, and other relevant factors are accounted for, bicycling and walking to work still has a positive effect on commute well-being.”

For his October 2013 Portland State University dissertation study (cleverly entitled “Peak of the Day or the Daily Grind”), Smith surveyed 828 commuters around Portland, Ore. He presented his preliminary findings to the U.S. Transportation Research Board to help them better understand transportation’s role in quality of life and to build support for new metrics in city planning.

His study was part of an attempt to get at what increases our subjective well-being, happiness, and overall life satisfaction. While other researchers have looked at health, income, job satisfaction, and residential considerations, Smith opted to focus on commuting. As he wrote in his report, “Although commuting to work is generally thought to be a negative experience, research shows that time spent commuting is sometimes valued, especially by those that walk or bike to work.”

His conclusion? “My study found that commute well-being has a positive effect on overall life satisfaction.”

Smith compared commutes that involve biking, walking, public bus transit, light rail, carpooling, and driving alone. (The only commuters he seems not to have studied are those who walk from their kitchen to their home office, steering a coffee cup.)

Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 10.05.33 AM

Overview of Oliver Smith’s “commute well-being” findings. (Courtesy Oliver Smith)

He discovered that bicyclists are the happiest commuters. In fact, we’re really happy — “statistically significantly happier,” Smith tells me, than public transit or car commuters. And that happiness stretches into our daily life as well. (You can read more about Smith’s findings here.)

“My study found that bike commuters are more satisfied with life than commuters that drive alone or commute by light rail,” Smith explains. “However, life satisfaction is influenced by many things and it’s not certain whether happier people are more likely to bike or whether biking to work increases life satisfaction.

“For both car and bus commuters, commute well-being decreases substantially as the level of traffic congestion increases, as expected. However, this is not the case for bike commuters, possibly because bicycle commuters can navigate congested streets, often through using bike lanes or separated paths, while avoiding much delay.”

And consider that his survey took place in Portland, which has more than its fair share of rain and other inclement weather. And there are also all those hills — not to mention, mountains — to pedal up. (And down, lucky folks!)

Smith says that the topic of bicycle commuting has not been widely studied in the United States, but his findings support the conclusions of pioneering studies done in Swedish and Dutch cities.

Now, Smith is putting what he learned to work. He’s a transportation planner with Oregon’s Washington County Land Use and Transportation division, where, among other projects, he co-manages the Neighborhood Bikeway Plan to develop bicycle boulevards.

So, naturally I wanted to know if Smith himself commuted by bike.

His answer was an emphatic affirmative: “I commute daily by both bike and light rail since my commute is 28 miles each way. The largest bike leg of the trip, the seven-mile evening bike ride from the train station to my home, is a wonderful part of the day. I clear my head, stretch my muscles, see many beautiful neighborhoods, and arrive home feeling happy. My family appreciates this last part.”

Like many bike commuters, Smith has tapped into the quiet, the solitude, the meditative quality of bicycling, which can scrub away the day’s stress. Or conversely, that bicycle commute can double as training for bike racing. Plus there’s the health and environmental benefits that hardly need mentioning.

With this in mind, it should come as little surprise that Smith himself was not surprised by the results of his study.

“The findings were intuitive to me as a daily bicyclist. Bicycling is enjoyable and lifts one’s spirits. It can provide feelings of control (that is lacking when driving in traffic or waiting for a bus) and other positive feelings (possibly triggered by endorphins). Biking and walking allow one to ‘clear the head’ and focus on the present. Regular bike commutes can improve or help people maintain good health, both physical and mental. All these items, including convenience and cost, factor into my decision to bike.”

Me, too.

In fact, after all this discussion about bicycling, I realize it’s time to saddle up for the ride home.

Can’t wait.

Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 10.08.09 AM

Questions and responses from Oliver Smith’s survey. (Courtesy Oliver Smith)

Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 10.07.57 AM

(Courtesy Oliver Smith)

Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 10.07.36 AM

(Courtesy Oliver Smith)

Experience Life Magazine

Taking Notes: Wisdom 2.0 Conference

I recently attended the Wisdom 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. There were a range of topics covered by an array of interesting speakers.

There were fascinating keynotes from Jon Kabat-Zinn, Eckhart Tolle and Arianna Huffington. Each shared information on how mindfulness practices have led them to happier, calmer lives.

There was a fascinating interview with the President of the Republic of Rwanda, H.E. Paul Kagame on how Rwanda is using mindfulness tools to rebuild infrastructure, create  communities and heal a nation.

Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH), author of A Mindful Nation: How a Simple Practice Can Help Us Reduce Stress, Improve Performance, and Recapture the American Spirit, discussed his efforts to integrate mindfulness practices into Congress and policymaking in an attempt to make a more compassionate, effective legislative environment.

There were also great small group sessions focused on creating mindful communities as well as how to create — and deal — with diversity within mindfulness communities themselves.

COntemplative corner

Meditation cushions were aplenty at the #wisdom2conf.

After processing all that I learned and after reviewing my notes to write this blog, I noticed one overarching theme touched on by many presenters: creating mindful workplaces.

Since we spend most of our time at work with people that we might not otherwise associate with in our non-work lives, multiple challenges may arise including differences in communication styles, education, income, job roles and all the things we bring with us to work from our personal lives.

I found these insights from Sharon Salzberg, author of Real Happiness at Work and Love Your Enemies, a helpful explanation as to why and how mindfulness and meditation may lead to more happiness at work.

In her years as a meditation instructor, Salzberg noted that she found “the greatest predictor of happiness at work comes from a sense of purpose.”

She reminded audience members that: “Every encounter is a chance for compassion.”

She challenged us to ponder “how much presence, compassion can/do you bring to your work, to your life, to each conversation?” and to “consider what you can bring to something not just what you can get from it.”

Salzberg also outlined three important components of any meditation skills training:

1. Concentration. She reminded us to remember that there is a process to building it and that it helps us have much less fragmentation of our being.

2. Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a quality of attention. Utilizing it helps us learn to relinquish old habits that distort what Is happening right now. The goal is not to have “no response or feelings,” but to have less immediate reactivity from distortion of our thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness creates space for is to see options we might not have seen otherwise.

3. Compassion or loving-kindness. Compassion is an emergent property of attention. Loving-kindness is seeing things as they really are. For example, we often live in a state of indifference.

Salzberg asked us to “consider who do we pay attention to? Who counts, include, who don’t we?” and “do you look at someone or through them?”

Can we recognize that I said a really stupid thing but what else happened? What is the good within me? What is my potential?

Salzberg believes that developing these three skills help us get to a very different type of happiness both at work in our lives — and literally “at our workplaces.”

How do we shift organizations to make them more mindful?

Here are a few strategies (enacted by the likes of Google, Facebook, Zappos and Medium) that might help you approach co-workers and situations in the workplace (and any time) more compassionately and also some tips on building a corporate mindfulness program:

  • Ritualize certain things. For example, start meetings with something — a two-minute meditation or breathing exercise, a  quote, a poem, a gratitude exercise, tai chi, yoga pose — then everyone discuss it for a certain amount of time.
  • Come to agreements and make them explicit (about behavior)
  • Often things change if we can just learn to take a minute to pause. Take time to pause by not picking up the phone on the first ring, or penciling in a few minutes to take some time for yourself before a meeting starts.
  • Read emails again prior to sending, or send it to yourself first. How does it make you feel to get the email?
  • Have the staff make a list of stressors at the job and share them. Are there commonalities? Differences?
  • Provide tools for staff members to experiment with such as yoga, meditation, take a lunch break, work out, etc. Can the company pay for an instructor to come in regularly?
  • Have staff members report back on their experiments. What worked? Did it? Why or why not?
  • Don’t make assumptions. Literally ask people what they need, and how they feel.
  • Take time for yourself. Take breaks. It is essential. This will benefit the good of all, not a selfish act.
  • Build a tool, such as meditation or a breathing exercise, that you can take anywhere — like in a tense meeting at work.
  • Create more situations at work where people see one another as whole human beings.
  • Listen. And really respect people.
  • Before reacting or taking something personally, think about whether something might be going one with someone. Ask them there side of the story before taking punitive action. Taking punitive action against someone without asking them how they may have felt at the time or for their side of the events, etc. may cause the person to mistrust you.
  • Give any feedback — negative or positive – in writing. Writing things down will force you to take more time and will help you really think about how you see a person.
  • Remember that none of us are our jobs.
  • Have real conversations and dialogues besides just scheduling things or about tasks or during meetings. Develop the ethic of listening. This may be challenging because to do so you will need to be vulnerable.
  • Create “rules of kindness” as a group, share and post them.
  • Create a shared vocabulary for engaging at the office.
  • Respect everyone on the inside and outside.
  • Remember: everybody gets to play, everybody counts. This is the fundamental lesson of loving kindness meditation
  • Create a culture of wellness, might just be in our body and minds, or at our desks, or within our smaller teams.
  • Flip jobs with someone for a few hours out of the day.
  • Instead of just asking “What were they thinking, ask what was I thinking?”
  • Treat everyone as a leader.
  • Encourage people to bring stuff up and to “process tension.” Tensions create friction, if people are seen, heard and allowed to be present there is no more rapid way to move the process forward rather than the change process as being tolerated or feared.

Does your company or organization have a mindfulness program? Do they utilize any mindfulness practices or tools? Do you personally try to practice mindfulness at work? How has this helped your happiness level at your job?

 

Heidi Wachter is the Community Engagement Specialist for Experience Life.

Experience Life Magazine

Build Your Own Winter Retreat

Like most of the United States, we’re in the throes of the polar vortex here in the Twin Cities. The cashier at the grocery store told me when she heard the high temperature was going to be below zero — again  — she noticed her sense of humor about the whole thing had died. Perhaps it was frozen.

In any case, it’s easy to feel low on insight (and patience, and humor) after enough sequential days of challenging weather, and most of your friends are likely feeling the same, so here’s an outside perspective.

Chicago-based tantric vinyasa yoga teacher Jim Bennitt just returned from teaching a retreat in Belize, and in his most recent newsletter he shared these suggestions for how to take a retreat at home. (They are so reasonable they are obviously produced by a properly sun-soaked brain.)

5 Tips for Winter Equanimity (from yoga teacher Jim Bennitt):

  • Get to bed early, preferably before 10pm
  • Wake up just before dawn and enjoy watching the sunrise
  • Practice sun salutes and meditation before you check emails
  • Book a massage
  • Take a 15-minute nap (or yoga nidra) in the afternoon.

Try them yourself and let us know if anything helps thaw your funny bone.

Courtney Helgoe is an Experience Life senior editor. 

Experience Life Magazine

Sardines, Skyways, Sauerkraut, and Organic Salons

We’ve been slogging through winter for so long here in Minnesota that I’m starting to wonder if we will ever see sun again or if there really is green grass under all that snow and ice.

I’ve reached the point where my anger about and distaste for winter has started transforming into an intense restlessness — the kind that senior editor Anjula Razdan detailed in her 2006 article “Everyday Adventures.”

“When you hear yourself talk about being ‘restless,’ or ‘stuck,’ or you find yourself frustrated by little irritations, you’re probably in need of an adventure,” New York–based writer and workshop leader Judy Wolf told Razdan back in 2006. “If you hear yourself saying something like, ‘I wish I could do that, but …’ then you are definitely overdue.”

Beyond restlessness, other signs that you may need a simple adventure include boredom, apathy, big sighs, and constant frowning.

Sigh. I fit this description perfectly. It was time to get out!

So last weekend — desperate to move despite the below-zero temps — my boyfriend and I decided to walk the skyways of downtown Minneapolis.

We parked in a ramp, and began exploring. It had been years since I’d been in the skyways, and it felt like a mini-adventure.

Sure, most businesses were closed because it was Sunday. Sure, we got lost a few times. But it felt nice to be in a “new” place, when really we were just experiencing the city from a new perspective.

“Everyday adventures are essential because they enrich our lives and help us route our attention away from life’s hassles,” Razdan wrote. “They help us see things with a fresh perspective, and, perhaps best of all, they open the door for us to reenergize our lives with more fun and creativity.”

skyways

I took a photo of the first street we crossed as a reference point to find our way back.

Lost

We were incredibly lost at this point. Oddly, it made me very happy: It felt a bit like traveling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Sunday outing got me thinking about other “new” things I’d tried recently — like my first ever visit to an organic hair salon. I walked with away with a great cut, and I felt so good about the toxin-free products they used on my hair.  (For more on the importance of using toxin-free personal-care products, check out “Beauty Beware” and “Beauty Makeover.”)

That’s not an adventure, you might be thinking. But according to Wolf, it is:

Even painting your toenails bright pink or wearing a neon-color tie to work qualifies as an everyday adventure, says Wolf, as long as it falls outside your comfort zone. After all, adventure is, above all else, a state of mind, an openness to doing something unfamiliar that has the potential to expand your spirit or your perspective. —”Everyday Adventures

See how easy this everyday adventure thing can be?!

The entryway of Jaide Salon on Nicollet and 47th in Minneapolis, MN.

The entryway of Jaide Salon on Nicollet and 47th in Minneapolis, Minn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Need another example? After listening to a session on gut health and fermented foods during the The Future of Nutrition Conference a few weeks ago, I decided it was time to incorporate more gut-friendly foods into my diet. So when my coworker and friend, Maggie Fazeli Fard, offered to share some of her sauerkraut and sardines during lunch recently, I gave them a try — and actually liked them. I was floored!

Sardines and sauerkraut. Taken by Maggie.

Sardines and sauerkraut. Taken by Maggie.

Sardines-and-Kraut-Trial

Holding up the goods. Taken by Maggie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All three of my novel — but simple — experiences illustrate how trying something new can bring unexpected happiness and joy. As David Silberkeit, author of  A New Adventure Every Day: 541 Simple Ways to Live With Pizzazz (Sourcebooks, 2002), told Razdan: “Engaging in simple, daily adventures allows us to form supportive bonds and hopeful attitudes that help us through life’s rough patches. It can open us to new possibilities and also help us feel more at ease in a world that sometimes feels rife with uncertainties and instabilities far beyond our control.”

So cheers to you, winter. Here’s to trying new things throughout 2014, exploring new possibilities, feeling more at ease, building resilience, and broadening my perspective to all the beautiful, unique things happening around me each day — even if they’re a bit covered in snow.

TELL US: What new things have you tried recently? Comment below or tweet us at @ExperienceLife. 

Casie Leigh Lukes is Experience Life‘s digital content specialist.

Experience Life Magazine

How Americans Shop

Bargain2

Everything you ever wanted to know about shopping in America — including how to save more money when you hit the stores — in this great new book by Mark Ellwood.

I’m reading the new book Bargain Fever: How to Shop in a Discounted World by Mark Ellwood. (This weather gives me the itch to shop, but I’m still paying off my Christmas splurges so I’ve opted for reading about shopping instead.) It’s a look at the history and culture of shopping in America. If you’ve ever bought anything in a store, you’d find this book interesting.

Here are some of the interesting facts I’ve learned so far:

We’re addicted to sales. The number of Americans who would purchase clothes only on sale went up from 16 to 23 percent in the four years after 2007. That’s nearly one-quarter of the population.

The wealthy like sales the most. Among Americans earning $150,000 or more annually, the number of people who would purchase things only on sale increased from 10 to 20 percent since 2007.

There are more “sales” today than ever before. In 2011, researchers sold 40 to 45% of their inventory at some type of promotional price. In 2001, they sold just 15 to 20% of their merchandise at that price.

TELL US: Are you a bargain shopper? What sales strategies always entice you to make a purchase? Comment below or tweet us at @ExperienceLife.

Laine Bergeson is an Experience Life senior editor. 

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