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8 Ways a Trip to New Orleans Will Heal Your Soul

8 Ways a Trip to New Orleans Will Heal Your Soul

Call it the Crescent City or call it the Big Easy. Either way, New Orleans holds a unique place in the American myth. With its history of disasters—yellow fever, multiple hurricanes—or its varied cultural history—first French, then Spanish, then French again, then American, then Confederate, then American, then Frat—New Orleans is probably the most unique city in America. For all these reasons, a trip there will do wonders for your soul, and we have put together a list of exactly how. We hope, by the end, we will have you saying, “WHO DAT!”

1. It’s so humid, it’s like you’re doing everything in a sauna.

The first thing you will notice is the humidity. On the initial day of my recent vacation, it was 92 degrees Fahrenheit with 96% humidity. Ninety-six percent! If I’m not mistaken, that’s basically means it’s raining without water falling from the sky. When you go to other vacation spots, you’ll pay a pretty penny to sit in that level of humidity, but New Orleans just naturally produces it.

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2. Bourbon Street

This is family-friendly article, so I cannot be too lurid in the descriptions of what I saw on Bourbon Street. In general terms, my friends and I arrived via plane on a random Thursday night during what is not considered tourist season, with plans to go to a jazz club and generally relax the first day. Not so—by the ending of the night, I was shouting that I was The Bourbon Cowboy (the name of a bar) and my friends were dancing to keep homeless people from asking them for money. Also, a drag queen purposefully threw beads from a second story balcony that nailed me in the back of the head. New Orleans is full of weird chaos, and it will challenge how self-controlled you are. (Hint: You do not have enough self-control, because no one does.)

3. There is enough art that the whole city is essentially a museum.

One block from Bourbon Street is Royal Street, which is a local strip of fine art galleries. On Royal Street, I found pop-art depictions of superheroes, Gothic paintings of voodoo ceremonies, and uniquely Cajun paintings of the city, not to mention other people practicing art in the forms of chandelier-making, hot-sauce-making, and various forms of miming. There is so much culture here it is falling out of the city’s ears. I also spent a significant amount of time at Jackson Square, which is where all the street performers spend their days. Those are indescribable.

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4. There is more music than anywhere I can think of.

It seemed, at any given time, at least fifty percent of the city’s native population was carrying a musical instrument. The home to such varied musical styles as that of Lil’ Wayne, Fats Domino, and Harrick Connick, Jr, the city has an amazing knack for starting musicians off right. Every bar had someone willing to strum a guitar or to dance around. If you get sick of Bourbon Street, head over to Frenchman Street—it’s where the locals hang out, watching one of the scores of bands that play at dozens of bars every single day of the week.

5. The gay community doesn’t just exist—it will try to convert you.

There’s nothing better for your soul than having your belief system challenged, and while, as a straight man, I am generally supportive of the LGBT lifestyle, the gay community in New Orleans uses its unique blend of Southern hospitality and fighting gusto to get you. I don’t know what else to say other than to relate that, right after I was hit with the beads, I went into a nearby bar to relieve myself, only to be treated to an unclothed, voodoo version of Times Squares’ Naked Cowboy—and somehow, I didn’t bat an eye.

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6. The food is wholly unique and soul-cleansing.

Starting with the names to describe popular dishes—jambalaya, etouffee, gumbo,atchafalaya—the food is like nothing you’ve ever had. Using various forms of shellfish as the base, each dish is one-hundred-percent unique and totally amazing. I found myself saying, “This is the best food I’ve ever had,” at every meal, and I may have actually meant it at The Rum House, where I had savory oyster tacos and sweet duck tacos. Also, don’t forget to try the alligator sausage. It tastes like chicken. And save room for the beignets.

7. The spiritual energy is amazing.

New Orleans is clearly a city of natural rebirth. Combine the history of disasters, the bleaching of the streets every morning, and the blend of intense Catholicism, voodoo, and occult practices, and New Orleans truly believes in spiritual rebirth. And don’t just take it from me, take from the dozens of psychics on every street, or from my friend who regained confidence about his recent home purchase by talking to a tarot card reader, or from my other friend, who is convinced she saw the Ghost of Madame Delphine LaLaurie. I even saw someone selling statues of the Hindu demi-god Ganesha. Higher powers are everywhere here. Reach out and connect with one.

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8. Absolutely no one will judge you.

No other city is so un-apologetically itself than New Orleans. And the people there, whether it be the numerous tourists or the hard-boiled (almost literally) locals, all know that no one comes to New Orleans to have their way of living scrutinized. This uniquely Cajun vibe creates an atmosphere that let’s you be one-hundred percent who you are supposed to be. By the afternoon of our first full day, I found that my cheeks were incredibly sore. You know how that happened? I was smiling, ear-to-ear, almost every second. That’s how New Orleans will cleanse your soul.

Featured photo credit: Hannah Healy/Bourbon Street via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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