Education and intellectual growth shouldn’t stop when the final bell rings and you walk across the stage to accept your diploma. Continuing brain development, mastering your chosen field, and sharpening your reading comprehension should be lifelong projects. Not only will it keep your brain active and sharp, but you’ll have a leg up on the competition. You should learn something new every day, after all. Here are some ways to sneak smart activities into your tight schedule.
Sitting in a dark movie theater with your friends and a tub of buttery popcorn sounds like a perfect way to spend a Saturday night – and it could be, if you are willing to share your popcorn with the entire row of moviegoers around you.
A review of the nutritional contents of movie-theater popcorn reveals an alarming amount of fat, salt and calories in even the smallest sizes. The study, from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, looked at popcorn from three movie theater chains and detailed the contents of all portions offered.
A large tub of popcorn at Regal Cinemas, for example, holds 20 cups of popcorn and has 1,200 calories, 980 milligrams of sodium and 60 grams of saturated fat. Adding just a tablespoon of butter adds 130 calories. And do not forget that it comes with free refills.
Not so hungry? The medium size popcorn, which comes in a bag, contains the same amount as the large. And even the small, at 11 cups, delivers 670 calories, 550 milligrams of sodium and 24 grams of saturated fat.
The findings may surprise those who choose popcorn at the concession stand because they believe it is a relatively healthy snack. In fact, plain air-popped popcorn is low in calories and free of saturated fat. Movie theater popcorn, however, is popped in oil — often coconut oil, which is 90 percent saturated fat. Add salt to the enormous portions, and your once-healthy snack turns into a health offender.
“The issue here is quantity,” said Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition at New York University. “One of those large tubs is three-fourths of a day’s calories.”
Even the “healthiest” sample of popcorn tested, a small size from AMC containing 6 cups of popcorn, had 370 calories, enough to justify sharing with a friend and eating one kernel at a time to make it last the length of a movie.
“If you were eating just a cup or two, it wouldn’t matter nearly as much,” Dr. Nestle said.
The third movie theater chain tested, Cinemark, fares slightly better than its competitors because it pops its popcorn in nonhydrogenated canola oil instead of coconut oil. Cinemark’s large tub contains 17 cups of popcorn with 910 calories and 4 grams of saturated fat, as well as a whopping 1,500 milligrams of sodium — nearly enough for the entire day.
One way to make your popcorn healthier? Ask the theater to pop a portion without salt. Two of the movie theaters that had their popcorn tested said they would oblige such a request.
The best way to make your movie snack healthier, however, would be to skip the popcorn — and the concession stand — altogether.
“You could share a tub of popcorn with 10 friends,” Dr. Nestle said. “Or, what a concept, watch the movie without eating anything.”
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Whether you’ve just graduated from college with a new degree or you’re a seasoned professional looking to move up in your field, looking for a new job is tough on everyone. It’s not unusual to be out of work for several months while looking for your ideal position, so it’s important to have something bringing in money to pay your bills during your job search.
1. Do contract or freelance work. Many folks make a lucrative living as contractors or freelancers. My favorite site to find opportunities is on Canuworktomorrow.com.
2. Sell your unused stuff. Still have all of your college textbooks lying around? Check out what they’re worth on eBay’s half.com and sell any that still have value. If you still live close to your alma mater, you can take them directly into the college bookstore for cash, too. Consider getting rid of other things you don’t need on eBay or Craigslist, such as clothing, shoes, video games, furniture, etc.
3. Start blogging. Don’t be fooled: starting a blog is hard work. However, if you’re a good writer or photographer, blogging is a great way to earn an extra buck while on the job hunt. Obviously, this is not a guaranteed way to earn money, but you’re your blog is established, you can make extra money from advertising and product reviews. Bonus: it also helps you stand out among other job candidates and fine-tunes your writing skills.
4. Complete tasks for other people. Sites like TaskRabbit help connect you with individuals who need assistance—whether they’re looking for a photographer or they need someone to mount their flat screen TV. You can also tell friends and family that you’re available for house sitting or pet sitting and research rates you should charge. Amazon’s Mechanical Turk also allows you to make a few extra bucks by completing tasks from your computer on your own schedule.
5. Share your opinion. Sign up to be a secret shopper or take opinion polls. Just be careful to avoid scams—do a simple Google search with the company name to ensure it’s a legitimate opportunity. You can also look to trusted career blogs and outlets to find opportunities.
6. Use your skills. Can you play piano? Consider teaching children how to play. Are you handy? Start a handyman service in your area. Everyone has a skill that they can profit off of. What’s yours?