5 Smart Ways to Increase Your IQ (Because It’s Not Set in Genetic Stone)

I only recently discovered there is a secret society for people with high IQs. It’s called Mensa—aka The Nerd Herd. It’s actually not a secret, but I consider anything no one has told me about in the 39 years I’ve been on planet Earth to be a conspiracy. So it’s a secret as far as I’m concerned.

To get in, you have to take a test and score in the top 2 percent of all IQs in the universe, aliens included. (I’m assuming these people know about the aliens and aren’t telling us.) After that, your nerdship is official. You no longer have to wonder.

That is the stupidest thing I could ever possibly even imagine imagining, was the first thought that came to me when I learned about this. I want in, was the second.

So I set a goal to get into Mensa within 90 days, and I posted this highly questionable aspiration on Facebook so I could add “suffer public humiliation” to my list of motivators for making it happen. Then I went to work on boosting my nerdability. I wasn’t even sure if that was possible since some scientists say IQ is genetic, but I’ve never listened to science before. Why start now?

Related: 5 Habits for a Healthier Brain (and Life)

I downloaded the Mensa app to my iPhone, took a practice test—and failed miserably. They were all trick questions apparently. The words “You’re average” started flashing on the screen as my first urge to smash a $700 phone on the ground came over me.

Then I did some things (that I’ll tell you in a second) and started scoring at a genius level. I’ll be taking the official test later this month and will soon be able to put an end to all future arguments with my wife by simply pulling out my Mensa card. I can’t wait.

Here’s why I’m telling you this…

There’s this unspoken but subtly implied belief in the personal development world that intelligence doesn’t really matter. We delight in hearing the story about how Henry Ford was so stupid that he had to call people into his office to answer questions for him. Having a high IQ is almost something we scoff at. I know I used to before I became a genius [insert my smirking emoji  face here].

But IQ is in large part a measure of your ability to recognize patterns. And as Ray Kurzweil famously says, “Pattern recognition is the essence of all human thought.” Intelligence is not the same as being book or trivia smart (although those are helpful, too). It’s your ability to manage and manipulate life with your mind. It’s the closest thing to a superhero power you’re going to get in this world.

Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between high levels of intelligence and success in life. It’s actually one of the biggest predictors of success—I call it the Nerd Effect. Read about Terman’s Study—they tracked genius-IQ level kids for their entire lives. They ended up richer, healthier, taller, stronger and even more able to dunk a basketball than kids with lower IQs. I made the basketball thing up, but the rest are true.

Now the really interesting thing about Terman’s Study is that not all the high-IQ kids were successful. Some turned out average and had higher rates of alcoholism and divorce. What made the difference? The difference was the successful kids had cultivated desire, prudence, willpower, goal-orientation, self-confidence and perseverance—all the stuff you’re probably doing right now.

So it’s true that intelligence alone won’t get you the success you’re after. But neither will your typical self-help strategies, unless accompanied by a reasonably high level of intelligence (the higher the better). So why not add, “increase my IQ” to your list of goals?

If I had to guess, intelligence accounts for about 50 percent of your success, and all the other typical self-improvement stuff—positive thinking, goal-setting, time management, character development, etc.—gets the other 50 percent. And my reasoning for that is simple. Intelligence is your ability to think at a high level. Think of your favorite billionaire; I guarantee you they are thinking at an extremely high level.

You know what… I just realized you may be reading this assuming you’re already really intelligent. You may be right. But take this test real quick to be sure: Mensa Workout

So how can you increase your IQ? Here are five ways, but it really all boils down to stretching your brain by learning new things:

1. Become a renaissance man. Or woman.

Be a student of life—not just wealth, health and happiness. Study history, science, psychology, art, languages, math, music, etc. Learn how this world works. Add depth to your mind and character. Read at least one book a week. Start to notice the patterns. Intelligence all boils down to pattern recognition.

One of my mentors said something interesting last week. He said, “I’ve noticed something. All my super rich friends are good at math.” And I realized that’s true of mine as well. Are you good at math? When you watch Shark Tank, can you calculate the valuations of the businesses in your head like the sharks do? If not, why not get good? Add it to your arsenal. You need a big arsenal to succeed in life. Mindset and success techniques are just a small fraction of what’s required.

2. Play the brain game Dual N-Back.

Do this 20 minutes a day. It will improve your working memory, and one study showed it increased IQ drastically. Other studies showed it didn’t. Screw those studies. I’ve been doing this for a while, and it is definitely doing something amazing to my brain.

3. Do regular high cardio exercise.

The version of Dual N-Back I use tracks my progress. Well one day I went to the gym and played the game right when I got home (I use the word “game” lightly—it’s mild torture). My scores went through the friggin roof. There is something about the release of endorphins that sends your brain into overdrive. Get as many of those endorphins as possible.

4. Learn an instrument.

Learning to play music is the equivalent of giving your brain a full body workout. This has been proven in studies using FMRI scans. Simply put, playing an instrument lights your entire brain on intellectual fire and has lasting impact on math and spatial reasoning skills. It’s not for no reason the wealthy almost universally require their children to learn a classical instrument whether they like it or not. Carve out 30 minutes a week to take a lesson and release your inner rock star.

5. Buy the book Boost Your IQ by Carolyn Skitt, and play all the games.

This book was written by Mensa nerds, so you can be guaranteed they know what they’re talking about.

Bottom line: your intelligence is not set in genetic stone. You can increase it. And as you do, all the other things you’re trying to succeed at will become amazingly easier. I did it. You can do it.

A Simple Trick to Make Recipes Healthier

Nothing beats home-cooked food. Unfortunately, if you spend most of your time in the office, you must have barely enough time in the kitchen most days of the week. This only leaves you with the only opportunity of cooking during weekends.

Cooking on weekends breaks the monotony of having takeaway fastfood the whole week. Furthermore, occasionally flushing out a week’s worth of that greasy slob of meat you call food—by eating healthier during weekends—can do wonders to your body. If you still cannot find the incentives of cooking for yourself, treat it as a reward for having endured another week of work. Be a broccoli in a sea of fast-food burgers—at least during weekends.

Readers share recipes from healthy bake sale

If you are seriously wanting to eat healthier, then you should keep reading on. I have just found the one, best secret to make your recipes brim with health benefits—and it is inexpensive.

One Trick for a Healthier Diet

Whether cooking for yourself or your significant other, this simple yet awesome tip on how to make your recipes healthier might just be what you need to help avoid that one trip to the emergency room. This extremely simple trick can not only help you have healthier meals, but can also save your pocket. Also, did I mention that this trick has been scientifically-proven?

3 healthy football tailgate recipes

Both the US Food and Drug Administration and the US Department of Agriculture have testified on the benefits of this new practice. In fact, they are currently advising everyone to incorporate this interesting trick into their own recipes.

If you are ready for the big reveal, read on below and discover for yourself the trick that has been making waves in the food industry.

Get Off the “Superfood” Hype

superfoods

The bomb has been dropped. “Superfood”, “superfruit”, or any variation of the term are nothing but a marketing approach to lure you into buying these specific food items that are claiming to provide certain health benefits.

Both the Europe and the United States Food and Drug authorities have reminded the public that the presumed health benefit claims of these so-called superfoods have little to no scientific basis. The European Food Information Council stated that it was “impractical for consumers to have their diet based on presumed superfoods when nutrients are provided readily from a diet using diverse foods, especially including fruits and vegetables.”

The proliferation of superfoods in the market is just one big marketing device as foods with awesome nutritional benefits have been here since forever. Common types of superfoods involve relatively rare fruits coming from different parts of the world. Fruits originating from China (goji berries), Oceania (noni), and Southeast Asia (mangosteen) which are unfamiliar to American consumers have been the most successful types of superfruits introduced in the market. By the end of the last decade, the “superfruit” manufacturing industry has become a fast-growing multi-million dollar enterprise.

Healthy recipes perfect for fall

Even the definitions of the terms “superfood” and “superfruit” have been obscured to mislead consumers on what they really represent. In fact, the US Department of Agriculture has yet to come up with an official definition for these. Furthermore, the food products classified to belong to the superfoods and superfruits category showed little to no signs of significant nutritional value compared to “non-superfood” items.

Medicinal Uses of Apple Cider

Treats Acid Reflux

Starting the list with a shocking revelation to many, acid reflux is actually the lack of acid in your stomach, not the overproduction. Consuming two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar daily would treat your acid reflux in no time. However, you must not drink it on its own. Instead, mix it with coffee, milk, or other beverages.

Lessen the Pain of Health Care Costs

Lowers the Risk of Heart Disease

Study on rats have shown the effectivity of apple cider vinegar in lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels. There are some that prove that this can also reduce blood pressure, a major risk factor in cardiovascular disease. Although there are many who say that it has been effective, no study with human subjects has scientifically proven this claim.

Protects You From Cancer

Cancer is a terrible disease, bringing heartaches to the people involved and to their family and friends. The good news is, apple cider vinegar can potentially save you from this suffering. Studies done in cells in test tubes and in rats have seen that this miracle “cure” is able to kill cancer cells. However, there have been contrasting observational study outcomes. In China apple cider vinegar was linked with lower chances of acquiring cancer, but Serbia reported the opposite. Until more substantial research is conducted, there will be no hard evidence.

Fights Bacterial Infection

Apple cider vinegar is said to have antibiotic properties, so it obviously must help in fighting bacterial infection. Those who prescribe this folk remedy recommends that you take two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to alleviate suffering from diarrhea caused by bacterial infection, and from intestinal spasms. Remember that the vinegar must be diluted with a drink, and not taken on its own, though.

Cures Colds and Sore Throat

This is one of the most popular uses of apple cider vinegar. More and more people use it instead of medicine, a reason to believe that this is indeed effective. To get rid of nasty colds, combine two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and a glass of water, then drink it. Repeat this three times a day to see the results.

 

Readers share recipes from healthy bake sale

This Saturday will be the annual Breast Cancer Walk at the Wilmington Riverfront at 9:45 a.m. As always, Curves workout centers for women will be supporting this effort.

As a member of Curves Newport, I am aware of numerous activities through September that earned money for owner Alicia Bolton to turn in at the walk. Several women put together baskets filled with unique items for an auction. A painting party elicited talents and income. Members bought pink ribbons to post on the Wall of Hope, honoring those they know who have dealt with this challenge.

A lovely pink print quilt was donated by a Peoples Plaza member for a raffle among three Curves locations.

The Healthy Bake Sale was the one that drew most of my attention. Recipes were checked for the amount of carbs, sugar, fat and overall healthy ingredients. The three top recipes, with no more than 25 grams of carbs, were baked and sold in individual quantities, with the recipes. Except for the painting party, 100 percent of all other proceeds will be donated.

Patti Weaver of Kiamensi Gardens found her recipe for carrot and quinoa mini-muffinsin The News Journal on Aug. 31, written by Melissa d’Arabian for the Associated Press. Space does not allow for all three recipes.

If you want this one, email me at [email protected], or send an addressed and stamped envelope, and I’ll mail it to you.

To request a recipe or send one in response to a request, send emails to [email protected] or letters to: What’s Cooking, 500-B Greenbank Road, Wilmington, DE 19808. Include your name, address and phone number. No calls, please. Recipes in this column are not tested by The News Journal.

SPICED CARROT RAISIN BREAD

Cary Johnson is a Pennsylvania resident who works, and works out in Delaware during her lunch break. She discovered this recipe on the Mayo Clinic website under healthy recipes. This dark bread is rich in oodles of my favorite wholesome ingredients.

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon paprika (or cayenne, if you like spicy)

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

1/4 cup ground flaxseed

2 eggs

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/4 cup olive oil

3/4 teaspoon almond extract

2 cups shredded carrots (about 4 carrots)

2/3 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sift or whisk flour, baking soda and powder, salt and spices in a large bowl. Separately, mix eggs, sugar, honey, applesauce, olive oil and almond extract. Add carrots and raisins.

Mix the wet ingredients in the dry ingredients just until combined, being careful not to overmix. Pour batter into a lightly greased 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and bake at 375 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cut into 1/2-inch slices.

FAT-FREE APPLESAUCE CAKE

Anne Sewell, of Middleboro Manor near Banning Park, found this recipe on Food.com. Several of the ingredients are the same as in Johnson’s recipe, but this one adds yogurt.

1 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup plain fat-free yogurt

2 egg whites, beaten

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 cup raisins

In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients. In another bowl, combine applesauce, water, yogurt, egg whites and almond extract. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in raisins. (I would add more than 1/4 cup.) Pour into a greased 8-inch square baking dish. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

3 healthy football tailgate recipes

This week we’re focusing on healthy meals for every occasion and with football season in full swing we wanted to share the best football tailgate foods that won’t crush your diet dreams!

RECIPE #1: Cheesy Potato Casserole

Ingredients:
2 1/2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1 (32-ounce) bag frozen Southern-style hash brown potatoes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 2/3 cups 1% low-fat milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
4 ounces 2% reduced-fat extra-sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded (about 1 cup)
Cooking spray
3 cups cornflakes
1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter
Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and bell pepper; sauté 5 minutes. Add potatoes; cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook 8 minutes or until potatoes begin to brown, stirring occasionally. Stir in salt and black pepper.
3. Combine milk and flour, stirring with a whisk. Add milk mixture to pan; cook 3 minutes or until thick and bubbly, stirring frequently. Remove pan from heat. Stir in yogurt and cheese. Spoon mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
4. Place cornflakes in a medium bowl; drizzle with butter and remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil, and toss to coat. Sprinkle cornflakes over potato mixture. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until bubbly around the edges and topping is crisp.
RECIPE #2: Ham and Cheddar Potato Skins
Ingredients:
6 small potatoes (1 1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 scallions, sliced (white and green parts separated)
2 ounces sliced deli ham, chopped
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Bake potatoes on baking sheet 25-30 minutes or until tender; set aside to cool. Preheat broiler with rack in highest position.
3. Halve cooked potatoes lengthwise. Scoop out flesh, leaving a 1/4-inch border; transfer potato flesh (about 2 cups) to a bowl. Mash potato with sour cream and 2 tablespoons water; season with salt an pepper. Fold in scallions whites and ham; spoon filling into potato shells.
4. Arrange filled potato skins on a baking sheet; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Broil 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with scallion greens before serving, if desired.

RECIPE #3: Cajun Oven-Fried Chicken

Ingredients:
1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 tablespoon salt-free Cajun seasoning (such as Spice Hunter)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 chicken breast halves (about 1 pound), skinned
2 chicken drumsticks (about1/2 pound), skinned
2 chicken thighs (about 1/2 pound), skinned
Cooking spray
Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Combine first 3 ingredients in a shallow dish. Place panko in a shallow dish. Dip chicken, one piece at a time, into buttermilk mixture; dredge in panko.
3. Place chicken on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Lightly coat chicken with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 40 minutes or until done, turning after 20 minutes.

Hungry Girl: My Healthy Bread Pudding Is Basically Happiness in a Mug

Lisa Lillien is the author of the popular Hungry Girl website and email newsletter, featuring smart, funny advice on guilt-free eating. She is also the author of eleven books, six of which debuted at number one on the New York Times Best Sellers list. Read her PEOPLE.com blog every Monday for slimmed-down celebrity recipes and more.

Oh, bread pudding — why must you contain so many calories?!

Good news for lovers of this sweet treat: I have a healthy portion-controlled version that’ll knock your socks off. This recipe is packed with cinnamon and raisins, making it perfect for mornings.

If you always grab the cinnamon-raisin bagel from the break room, this is a much better alternative. Hello, protein! Bonus: You can make it in the microwave in minutes.

WATCH THIS: How to Make Five-Minute Caprese Garlic Flatbread

Made-in-a-Mug Bread Pudding for One
Makes: 1 serving 

¼ cup (about 2 large) egg whites or fat-free liquid egg substitute
¼ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 packet no-calorie sweetener
¾ tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. cinnamon
Dash salt
2 slices light bread
1 ½ tsp. light butter or light buttery spread
1 tbsp. raisins, chopped
2 tsp. powdered sugar

RELATED: Hungry Girl: How to Make a Healthy In-N-Out Burger at Home

1. Spray a microwave-safe mug with nonstick spray. Add egg whites/substitute, almond milk, sweetener, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt. Mix thoroughly.

2. Spread bread with butter. Cut into 1-inch pieces.

3. Add bread pieces to the mug, and gently stir to coat. 

4. Fold in chopped raisins. Microwave for 1 minute.

5. Gently stir. Microwave for 1 minute, or until set.

6. In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar with 1/2 tsp. water. Mix well. Drizzle over bread pudding.

Active time: 5 minutes
Total time: 5 minutes or less
Nutritional information: 224 calories, 4g total fat (0.5g sat fat), 552mg sodium, 34g carbs, 6g fiber, 14.5g sugars, 12.5g protein

’Til next time… Chew the right thing!