Thursday, December 30, 2010

Winter Vacation Query?

How many calories do you burn lugging ski equipment into the lodge and then getting ski boots on two kids and yourself?

According to one calorie calculator I could burn 300 to close to 500 calories an hour alpine skiing. But besides the actual activity of skiing, just hauling all the equipment is a chore, and let's not forget about walking around with ski boots.

One thing for sure, after two days of skiing, my thighs are burning--so I my hamstrings and quadriceps are certainly getting a fantastic workout.

I still ski, but I have many friends who say "it's too much work." Guess what? That "work" is calories burning, and after the holidays, spending a few days burning 1,200 to 1,500 extra calories is probably a good thing. So if you want to lose weight (or just not gain it), get to work--start skiing.

Tomorrow we're going cross-country skiing, which burns even more calories an hour.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Because Reality is just never Good Enough



Jezebel's Photoshop Hall of Shame for the Year: http://jezebel.com/5716222/the-best-of-the-years-worst-photoshops/gallery/?skyline=true&s=i

OK, you have some incredibly gorgeous, thin model totalling rocking this rosy-hued, ruffled tank and jeans combo.

But is she good enough for the advertising gods???

Hell NO!!

They have to use photoshop to give this already picture perfect model an even smaller waist (increasing that all important hip to waist ratio), and then add a little shadowing to make who boobs look bigger.

And, in the process the advertising gods drive thousands of young girls to unsustainable, unhealthy dieting practices to try to look look an artificial, unreal image.

The image on the right is not reality. For most of us, even the image on the left isn't reality. It's just plain old impossible to look like this without the fortune of good genes.

But instead of encouraging women to watch their weight for their health and happiness, advertisers promote unrealistic images of unreal women. Women we can never be, nor should we want to be.

Digging Out and Shoving Off

We've been snowed in by a major storm here in the Northeast. If we can ever get ourselves shoveled out, I'm heading out for the rest of the week to ski (good timing!!!).

I'm bringing my computer with me, but still expect blogging to be erratic.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

For Your Amusement

Although I would say "lay off the Cheetohs, you're way to young to have a muffin top."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dudes Doing Yoga

Let's face it. Men who practice yoga in this country get no respect. I'm always trying to negate the resistance of men to even try practicing yoga because they view it as "women's exercise," by pointing out that yoga was created for men by men. Women practicing yoga is a recent phenomena.

And, as any woman with curves could tell you, many of the asanas were obviously created with no thought to female anatomy. Just try doing a bound Marichasana C when you're cup size is a 32D. Let me tell you, it would be a lot easier without the boobs.

And, let's not forget the asanas that are so much more difficult for woman to do because we lack the inherent upper body strength that men have. I'm sure I would have accomplished Bakasana much sooner had I been a man.

So when I do see men who commit to yoga, I'm always impressed. Once they get past their lack of flexibility (let's face it, boys aren't encouraged to stretch the way girls are), they accomplish incredible asanas.

So there's now a new website that celebrates Dudes doing Yoga which you can check out here: http://yogadudes.tumblr.com/

I think it's marvelous, because yoga really is a fantastic all around exercise program, particularly the more vigorous forms like Ashtanga.

And, from the men I've seen who practice yoga regularly and looking at these Dudes, you can't argue with the results. Men who practice regularly pretty much always have awesome bodies.

So if there are any Dudes out there, give yoga a try.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bear Mode Compounded

Last week I wrote about "bear mode." It's a seasonal syndrome I endure every year around the Winter Solstice when all I want to do is hunker down in bed and sleep.

This week it's much, much worse. I got the flu. I've been running a constant fever since Sunday, I'm nauseated and every muscle and joint in my body aches.

It's bear mode compounded.

I haven't gotten out of bed for two days now and it looks like I'm heading back there now.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Is Vegetarianism Bad for the Environment?

I like to eat a "mostly vegan" diet for both health and weight reasons, but I never thought of myself as doing potential harm to the environment for doing so.

According to celebrity chef Dan Barber strict vegetarians have "blood" on their hands. Here's what Dan has to say:

My wife is not a strict vegetarian, but she loves vegetables and would just be happy eating vegetables every meal we eat together, and I’m also fine with that. But why am I not standing up here and saying "eat less meat"? The answer is that I come from the lower Hudson Valley [New England] and my ecological conditions are dictating that we eat a lot of meat, because we’re grassland. What we grow best besides those carrots is an amazing diversity of healthful grass for animals. Now if you are in the game of feeding, say, a lamb, as I mentioned before, instead of on grain from Hoosier ecology but on the great grasslands (a diversity of grasslands from the New England landscape — the grasslands, by the way, that built New England, that built the dairy industry.

It’s no surprise this is the iconic landscape that I referenced with my grandmother — that wasn’t just about building beauty; that was about building what they were taking advantage of, which was cows grazing on great grass to produce great milk. That same ecology holds true today — those iconic open-pasture lands that I talk about produce the best-tasting meat in the world.

And so for me to be a vegetarian, and be a strict advocate of it, wouldn’t be listening to the ecology that the land is telling us it wants to grow. So I think one of the futures (dialing back to the young 11-year-old chef in the making) … one of the requirements of the chef for the future is not to propose a cuisine on the landscape, it’s going to have to be listening to the landscape to determine what kind of chef and what kind of eater we want to be. And if you are in southern Los Angeles and San Diego and you want to be a vegetarian, God bless you. You should be. You should be. But if you want to be in New England and you want to improve the ecological conditions of where you are, you’re eating meat. There’s no question about it. There is no healthy ecological system that I’ve ever seen that doesn’t include animals — there just doesn’t. Because the manure from the animals is a free, free ecological resource that amends the soil that gives you better-tasting and healthful vegetables. That’s been around since the beginning of time. So to say that vegetarians live on this higher plane of ethics (and I’m not here to argue that slaughtering animals doesn’t carry with it some weight), but you have blood on your hands when you eat vegetarian as well, especially if you’re in the northeast. Because your food is coming from somewhere, and your calories are coming from somewhere in the winter, and if they’re traveling hundreds of miles, and in many cases thousands of miles, you are burning fossil fuels to get them there, and generally they’re produced in monocultures, and that has a huge cost on natural living systems. They might not be animals that you and I can identify with, but they’re insects and bugs and whole types of flora and fauna that are dying to produce those vegetables. That’s not an ethical way to eat, I don’t think, in the future.
http://newyork.grubstreet.com/2010/12/dan_barber_you_have_blood_on_y.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nymag%2Fgrubstreet+%28Grub+Street+-+nymag.com%27s+Food+and+Restaurant+Blog%29&utm_content=Google+Reader


I kind of understand what he's saying, although I don't know if I would have used the "blood on their hands" bit.

Still, I do somewhat relate to what he is saying. I equate strict vegans and vegetarians with religious fundamentalists. While religious fundamentalists are dogmatic in their religious beliefs, vegans and vegetarians are dogmatic in their eating habits.

If you want to be a localvore--which is probably inherently better for the environment, then if you live in a cold weather climate, you probably can't sustain yourself on just vegetables through the Winter. Meat has to be part of your diet if you live in a cold weather client. In the summer you could probably survive on a plant-based diet alone, but once the weather chills and the supply of vegetables drops, you, by necessity, have to eat some meat.

I always said that vegetarianism and veganism are modern day luxuries. Prior to today's methods of shipping produce over vast miles, it just wasn't available for large parts of the year, and what was available was prohibitively expensive.

Now, being a vegetarian in Vermont in the Winter is not prohibitively expensive, but the potential damage to the environment you are doing by being one can be significant. The grapes, bananas and asparagus you're living on had to be transported hundreds, if not thousands of miles so that you could indulge in your vegetarianism.

Now, I'm not saying be a 100% localvore either. I like my fresh fruit and veggies in Winter as much as anybody else, and I still like to keep to a mostly vegan diet.

The issue is, however, to fully think through the consequences of your diet, on the planet, animals and your health.

Everything You always Wanted to Know About Eggs


From cage free, pastured, free range, yolk colored, etc. this blog explains it all: http://www.thesweetbeet.com/egg-terminology/

What I found the most fascinating was how the natural coating on eggs is washed off in commercial eggs, and, had it been left intact, actually protects against salmonella and would eliminate the need to refridgerate. I never knew that. And, who knew that Freud's son had a hand in promoting eggs as a breakfast food?

About a year ago, my friend Nadine went into the egg business. She raises her own hens and drops off a dozen fresh eggs every Friday for $5 a week.

I love Nadine's eggs. They're all different sizes and colors, and sometimes I get a double yolk. The yolks on these eggs are thick and orangy, and the taste puts any commercial egg to shame.

I love to feed these eggs to my family. When I scramble up a batch for my children, I know they're getting a healthy, chemical free, salmonella free meal. My daughter also loves the "quiches" I make for her--essentially eggs, milk and cheese baked in pie shell. It's also not unusual for me to whip up a Frittata for dinner or have a soft-boiled egg for breakfast.

Eggs, in moderation, are a healthy, nutritious meal. Particularly when you know the source of the eggs. I can go to Nadine's house and see exactly where my eggs come from, what the chickens eat and the conditions they are raised in.

I consider myself lucky.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Giving the Gift of Healthy Eating


I have this one group of girlfriends that I've been getting together with forever. We met when our kids were still in car seats, and although our kids are now driving we still get together as a group at least once a month.

We have a lot of ritual outings. One of them is dinner on the beach. Every summer for the last ten years we get dressed up, and have a potluck supper on the beach in Westport. We hang out, laugh, drink wine and eat various versions of salads or grilled fish as the sun sets over Long Island sound.

Another ritual is our annual Holiday lunch. Every year we pick a fancy restaurant, get dressed up, have lunch and exchange gifts.

The gifts are small, but usually meaningful. One year my girlfriend Marilyn gave us all copies of "Eat, Pray, Love". The book "spoke to her" she said and she wanted to share it with the rest of us.

This year, I gave the girls copies of Michael Pollan's new book "Food Rules." I have been so inspired by Michael Pollan's writings that I wanted to pass it on to my closest friends, and thought "Food Rules" was the perfect vehicle to do so.

The book was a big hit when everyone opened it, and prompted a long discussion on healthy eating, localvorism, and even how vegetarianism is better for the planet.

But this morning, I got the best news of all. One of my friends wrote me to say she can't get the book away from her 16 year old son!!! Turns out that he picked it up, was inspired, and is now carrying it around so that he follows the "rules."

Is Food Political???

I love Marion Nestle's blog. Her book has been on my "must read" list for quite a while, and the only thing holding me back is my sister. She read Nestle's on Food Politics and keeps promising to lend to me.

I should just go and buy the damn book.

Any way, she has a good post today on food politics which you can read here: http://www.foodpolitics.com/2010/12/food-is-political-indeed-it-is/

This is partly what she has to say:

The minute we start talking about small farms, organic production, local food, and sustainable agriculture, we are really talking about changing our food system to accommodate a broader range of players and to become more democratic. Just think of who wins and who loses if $20 billion in annual agricultural subsidies go to small, organic vegetable producers who are part of their communities rather than to large agricultural producers who do not live anywhere near their corn and soybeans.

The issue at stake is who gets to decide how food is grown and what people eat. For as long as I can remember, big agriculture and big food were in control, in close partnership with congressional agricultural committees and the USDA. Today, the food movement–democracy in action, if you will–is challenging their authority and power. No wonder defenders of the status quo don’t like the challenge. It is only to be expected that they are fighting back.

I see the intensity of the debate (and, alas, the personal attacks) as a clear sign that the movement is making headway. The system is clearly changing. It has to change if we are to address obesity, climate change, and the other unsustainable aspects of our present ways of doing food business.

Anyone who is working to reduce income inequity and to make healthier food available to every American has to expect to encounter the methods corporations always use to fight critics: personal attacks, claims of junk science, invocation of personal responsibility, cooptation, and plenty of behind-the-scenes lobbying.

Telling truth to power has never been popular. But I’m convinced it’s worth doing.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Food Nazi

From the "if you don't like what someone is saying call them both a Nazi and a Socialist" book: http://www.foodpolitics.com/2010/12/food-industry-fights-back-method-attack-critics/

Noting, of course, that you can't be both a Nazi and a Socialist since they are two completely opposing political philosophies.

Hey I get it. Nestle and other healthy eating proponents can potentially harm food industry profits, so the food industry wants to fight back. If people actually start to listen to people like Nestle, Pollan etc. and stop buying food that's nothing but worthless calories, they may have to find other ways to rip off the public.

But, to set up some public relations firm to essentially spew lies anonymously is just plain wrong. Man up food industry. If you don't like what Nestle has to say come up with real counter arguments. Or, if you're going to call people Nazis and Socialists at least have the guts to put your name on the slander.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Eating In Red America

I've often expressed outrage here as to how eating liberal has somehow been branded "liberal" and not something that a "real American" (i.e., Republican) would do.

I guess I'm not the only person who's noticed this: http://www.frumforum.com/food-fight-becomes-class-warfare. Apparently, arguing for better eating habits is so "liberal" that this self-professed "conservative" wouldn't even give his real name.

Here's what he had to say:

In a much-discussed 2009 Policy Review essay, Mary Eberstadt talked about how odd it was that liberal elites are extremely permissive about sex, but Puritan fussbudgets about food. What’s less well explored is the culture-war role food plays among conservatives, especially in the South. My experience is anecdotal, of course, but I’ve seen emerging back home a growing sense that food intake is not something that can be held up for moral analysis and judgment. Those who attempt to do so are typically seen as liberal snobs trying to impose their own preferences.

I found this part of what he had to say particularly interesting:

The obvious answer is that they don’t see food choices as having moral weight. That stance is groundless from a Biblical point of view. Scripture aside, how can that point of view be sustainable from a common-sense conservative position when so many people are coming down with diabetes, a chronic disease closely related to overeating? New neuroscience research suggests that overeating certain foods earlier in life changes one’s brain in ways that make it harder to stop later in life. This means that parents who let their kids eat lots of sugar set them up for a lifetime of diabetes, and other obesity-related diseases. How is that not a moral failing?

The costs to society of treating diabetes is enormous, and is expected to triple to over $300 billion – if obesity plateaus, which it may not do. Who is going to pay for that indulgence? Both the taxpayer, in higher Medicare and Medicaid costs, and individual insurance ratepayers. It becomes difficult to take seriously Southern conservatives who complain about the morally lax lower orders (read: poor black people) being a drain on the taxpayer when they themselves have their mouths full of Super Sonic Cheeseburger.

I find it abhorrent that politics in this country has devolved into political "teams." Rather than thinking for themselves, people blindly follow whatever their team leaders tell them to think both on the right and the left. Eating healthy is "liberal" (and as the article editor pointed out, liberals can be huge, off-putting snobs about eating healthy), so therefore, I'll do the complete opposite to support my "team."

But poor eating habits should not be the subject of political debate, and neither should be efforts to get adults and kids exercising more. As the author pointed out, everyone has a moral obligation to eat healthy.

"Bear" Mode


It happens every year at this time. The days get shorter and colder, and I just go into "bear" mode. All I want to do is sleep. Getting out of bed is a huge struggle. I just want to snuggle under the covers and let the whole day go by.

I also crave warm food, and sticking to my mostly raw, vegan routine becomes nearly impossible. How can I eat that cold apple when it's only 23 degrees Fahrenheit outside??? I need a big old bowl of warm oatmeal to get me started.

On top of everything else, it's the holidays, so I'm trying to eat less during the week to make up for my minor indulgences when I'm celebrating. A few cocktails here, a few canapes there, a dessert or two can really pack on the pounds in just a few weeks.

Soup has become a staple at lunch. I've found that Miso soup is filling and warming. I also like to use my juicer to make "raw soups." Yesterday I juiced carrots, apples and ginger then warmed the juice up a little to make a soup. Yummy!!!

And, my usual breakfast of fruit has been replaced by oatmeal on many mornings. I combine rolled oats, blueberries, raisins, maple syrup, almond milk, cinnamon and water in a bowl, microwave it for a few minutes, and I have a hearty, filling breakfast. (Note, those packages of oatmeal have been processed to the point of being completely devoid of any real fiber or nutrients so I avoid those).

The good news is that by the end of January, as the days start to get longer again, I usually start to slowly emerge from my bear mode. So, all I have to do is get through the next six weeks or so.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Overeating Is Like Drug Addiction

Another incredibly fascinating article on how over-eating and eating fatty foods can re-wire the brain similar to how drugs can: http://www.npr.org/2010/12/01/131698228/overeating-like-drug-use-rewards-and-alters-brain

There are quite a few interesting passages including this one:

They've also found that, at least in animals, sweet or fatty foods can act a lot like a drug in the brain, he says. And there's growing evidence that eating too much of these foods can cause long-term changes in the brain circuits that control eating behavior.

The food-drug link comes from the fact that both animal and human brains include special pathways that make us feel good when we eat, and really good when we eat sweet or fatty foods with lots of calories, DiLeone says.

"Drug addiction is really hijacking some of these pathways that evolved to promote food intake for survival reasons," he says

That doesn't necessarily mean food is addictive the way cocaine is, DiLeone says, but he says there is growing evidence that eating a lot of certain foods early in life can alter your brain the way drugs do.


And this one:

Reyes was part of a team that gave mice a high-fat diet from the time they were weaned until they reached 20 weeks, so they gained significant amounts of weight and became obese. Then the researchers looked at the brain's pleasure centers — areas known to change in drug addiction.

"What we found is that in animals that were obese, there were really dramatic changes in these areas of the brain that participate in telling us how rewarding food is," Reyes says. The changes made these areas less responsive to fatty foods, so an obese mouse would have to eat more fat than a typical mouse to get the same amount of pleasure, she says.

And some of the changes didn't go away, even when the mice returned to a normal diet.

"So it is similar to what happens in cases of chronic drug abuse," Reyes says. "The reward circuitry changes in a similar way, and that promotes the seeking of that drug, or in our case, in seeking palatable food."

That could help explain why obese children tend to remain that way as adults, she says.

Minimally Processed Vs. Ultra Processed

Marion Nestle has a very good piece in the San Francisco Gate on Minimally processed versus ultra processed foods.

The reasons for avoiding "ultra-processed" foods are spelled out here:

Ultra-processed foods, he says, are the primary cause of the rapid rise in obesity and associated diseases throughout the world.

He charges the food industry with creating durable, convenient, attractive, ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat products that are so palatable that they are habit-forming. And they are meant to be eaten everywhere - in fast-food places, on the street and while watching television, working or driving.

Ultra-processed foods are much higher in calories for their nutrients than unprocessed and minimally processed foods. They have loads of fat, sugars and salt, but are low in vitamins, minerals and fiber.


Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/12/03/FDTR1GJ2PS.DTL#ixzz17Kt4Wwnp

As I've stated repeatedly, if you're really, really serious about taking off weight and keeping it off, the number one thing you should do is just say "NO" to ultra processed foods.

I'm not saying it's easy. I'm not even advocating that you go "cold turkey" when it comes to banishing sweetened canned or bottled drinks, Doritos, Ho-Hos and convenience dinners from your diet.

Instead, I think the best route is to gradually replace the "junk" in your diet with what Michael Pollan calls "real food."

Instead of that 100 calorie pack of Chips Ahoy for a snack, have an apple, some grapes or even a handful of nuts and raisins.

Instead of reaching into the freezer for dinner, make a simple dinner of pasta with some fresh sauteed vegetables.

Make the changes gradually, and over time move to eliminate more and more ultra processed foods from your diet.

Add a little exercise, and the weight will just fall off.

I promise it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Want People to Think You're Hot?

Then eat your fruits and veggies. From a new book on the science of attractiveness:


"In African, Asian, and European study populations, people tend to prefer faces that are yellower in skin tone, an effect caused by eating lots of beta-carotene rich fruits and vegetables. Perrett explains that yellow pigments may be a sign of health, since "when blood supplies are depleted by diseases, fewer carotenoids will be laid down in the skin." Perrett's explanation of the general preference for a healthy-looking mate is nothing you haven't heard before (a partner's illness can harm a fetus or result in faulty genes being passed on), but it's worth noting that not all people put an appearance of health above all else."
Read more: http://jezebel.com/5702410/the-surprising-facts-about-whos-hot#ixzz16tgKxONR

Photo for the Day


I think this photo says it all. If we can get ourselves to move more, we burn fat. It's really that easy. I think that, to the extent we can, if we can divorce ourselves from cars, elevators, escalators, etc., we not only help ourselves we help the overall environment.

I lived in Manhattan for over ten years. I moved out over fifteen years ago, and the thing I miss the most about living in the city is the walking. Even if you had a car, you usually had to walk to get to it, and if you drove it anywhere in the city, you still usually had to walk to get to where ever you were going once you parked.

But having a car in New York was rare. Mostly, I walked, even in the foulest weather to work, to classes, to see friends, or to shop. I actually hated the subway (I got stuck, sardine-like, one two many times), and walked rather than go underground for a stop or two.

But here in the ex-burbs, its the reverse. Walking is rare unless it's for exercise. The closest store is some five miles from my home, and with two kids, taking a bike to pick up groceries isn't in the cards. Because of the sprawl (our town has two acre zoning), even visiting friends generally means getting in the car (although I do walk to some near-by friends).

So, whenever the opportunity does arise for me to walk, I grab it. I avoid elevators as much as possible (particularly when going down), and try to get parking spots further away.

But, I dream of someday getting back to the city, or at least a community where walking to stores is easier.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sarah Palin Would You Please Just Shut the F*ck Up!

I'm not too fond of Sarah Palin. In fact, I think that if she gets anywhere near the presidency again, it will be a sure sign that our country is beyond redemption, and we're just in one big slow decline.

I'm sorry, but I think that as a minimum floor requirement, political leaders should believe that the theory of evolution is not debatable, that science trumps mythology.

But what really gets me burning these days is the pure oppositional positions that many on the right seem to take for no other reason than to be oppositional (reality check here--I'm a registered Republican and worked at one point on political campaigns for Republicans).

Take Michelle Obama's anti-obesity campaign. It seems that Sarah Palin has a problem with it: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/24/palin-slams-michelle-obam_n_788200.html

Here's what Sarah had to say:
"Take her anti-obesity thing that she is on. She is on this kick, right. What she is telling us is she cannot trust parents to make decisions for their own children, for their own families in what we should eat. And I know I'm going to be again criticized for bringing this up, but instead of a government thinking that they need to take over and make decisions for us according to some politician or politician's wife priorities, just leave us alone, get off our back, and allow us as individuals to exercise our own God-given rights to make our own decisions and then our country gets back on the right track."

Sarah, I hate to tell you that the government already tells us what to eat through it's subsidy programs (which both parties support), and what they're telling us to eat is mostly ultra-processed crap. You ever hear of the school lunch program???????

And, Sarah, did you know that rates of obesity are skyrocketing among kids and that kids are increasingly having problems with chronic diseases like diabetes????

My guess is that you don't Sarah. All you can do is oppose any program supported by a Democrat because, in all honesty, you just are not the sharpest tool in the shed and don't have the intellectual capacity to do anything else. What if Michelle Obama chose the exact same issue that Laura Bush did--that of illiteracy??? Would you be going on Glenn Beck and other right wing shows to argue that every parent has a right to keep their kids illiterate? (but then looking at your kids, I'm guessing that they're not big readers).

So Sarah, just shut up about Michelle Obama's anti-obesity campaign. In fact, just shut up period.

Why I Practice Yoga

Old yogis are awesome: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20101129/lf_nm_life/us_fitness_yoga?bouchon=501,ny

Monday, November 29, 2010

Eat Less Refined Carbs to lose weight

So says new research from Denmark: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20101124/hl_nm/us_protein_carbs

"Refined carbs" means, of course, mass-manufactured crap. If it's mass-produced in a factory from refined grains, like white bread or white rice, chances are that eating it will do nothing more for you then pack on additional pounds. Stick to fresher, locally produced breads and products made with whole grains.

The research also says to eat more protein, but again, I would look into the kind of protein. Simply grilled fish or chicken, is no doubt better for you then a pre-packaged, frozen source of protein.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Surviving Thanksgiving and Beyond Guide

Tomorrow is, of course, Thanksgiving. The start of the annual more than a month-long, glutton-fest called the Holidays. It's a time of year were no matter how good you are, you still inevitably gain weight.

Over the years, I've developed some survival techniques to minimize the damage from this period. Notice I say "minimize." I've accepted the fact that now is not the time of year to try to lose weight, and pretty much the most I can do is just keep the weight gain to under 3 or 4 pounds.

My plan is pretty simple. I realize that food is part of the festivities. I don't deny myself anything that I really and truly love that's pretty much only available this time of year. I do, of course, limit myself. So when my girl-friend Diane gives me my annual bag of her incredible home-made, white chocolate peppermint bark, I allow myself a few pieces and give the rest away prior to yielding to the temptation to finish off the whole bag.

Gift baskets are quickly deconstructed with any fresh fruits and vegetables going into the fridge, and any chocolates, cookies and other high calorie treats taken immediately to the local food pantry.

With big meals, like Thanksgiving, I keep my portions small, and realize there's always leftovers. I really don't need to eat stuffing, mashed potatoes and candied sweet potatoes all at once, when there's always tomorrow. I also pass up anything that primarily came from a can or a box in favor of made from scratch foods (they usually taste better anyway).

I focus on eating mostly vegetables at every meal!!!

I try to fit in one or two mid-week mild cleanses in December.

Whenever I have the time, I try to fit in a little extra exercise.

I cook very light dinners during the week in December. A simple grilled salmon with a salad on the side and lemon vinaigrette is a typical meal.

Thanksgiving Facts Redux

I actually posted this last year at this time, but thought it was worth posting again:

"Believe it or not, according to the American Council on Exercise, the typical Thanksgiving meal is approximately 3,000 calories. And, that's just one main course plate, any seconds, extra snacks, desserts, etc. add even more calories to your caloric "load." If you also eat big breakfast that morning, you can easily eat enough calories on that one day to gain at least a pound.

With that thought in mind, here are a few facts to keep in mind:

-Turkey skin is the most caloric dense part of the turkey, has the most fat and the least protein. The skin contains 482 calories and 44 grams of fat. A whole turkey with the skin has 231% more fat, 59% more calories, and 23% more cholesterol than a turkey with no skin.

-Breast meat without the skin is the healthiest part of the turkey. Breast meat without skin has only 161 calories and 4 grams of fat per serving.

-Two tablespoons of cranberry sauce will give over 1/3 of the sugar you need forthe day. And most processed (not homemade) cranberry sauces contain high fructose corn syrup.
-Two tablespoons of processed gravy products give you over 1/3 of the sodium you need for the day, and some contain trans fats."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

When Fantasy Girls Aren't Fantastic Enough



When fantasy girls aren't fantastic enough there's always Photo-Shop: http://jezebel.com/5693656/how-your-playboy-centerfold-sausage-is-made-nsfw

OK, I assume that if you make the cut as a Playboy Center-fold, you've got a fantastic body. But apparently, no woman, according to the Playboy editors, is good enough. Did you know that nipples could be "too perky?" That a woman with huge breasts needs more curve in her butt? Did you know that a centerfold body still needs to have her stomach flattened more?

Photo-Shop may be a new technology, but men have always idealized women's bodies past the realm of reality. Ever see those Indian statues of goddesses with huge melon sized breasts, flat stomachs and tiny rear ends? Even in Western art, women were idealized to the standards of the time. Rubin's' huge rounded women or blond haired,blue eyed Madonnas.

And, it's the artifice that leads women to believe that our bodies are not good enough. It's the artifice that leads many women into dangerous dieting habits, plastic surgery, etc., to try to attain unnatural proportions. Rosie O'Donnell says it best in this old movie clip:



Eating well and exercising will help us to achieve a healthy, thinner body, but being "thin" with huge knockers is not the natural body of most women. There are those chosen few who have the genetic fortune to be built that way, but even Marilyn Monroe had a huge butt and pretty thick thighs (go watch Some Like it Hot, when Marilyn Monroe walks past Tony Curtis and the camera focuses in on her ass, it's bigger then anything you'd see on the screen today that depicted as sexually appealing).

So forget the artifice, and stick with reality. You'll be happier and healthier.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Difference Between Weight Loss and Sustainable Weight Loss

Yo-Yo Dieting. We've all heard the term. It's when you go on some crazy, crash diet, lose weight, go back to your old eating habits and gain weight, then go on another crazy, crash diet, etc. etc. etc.

I thought I'd bring it up because of some of the comments to both my Rush Limbaugh posts and some of my other recent posts.

Yes, if you severely restrict your caloric intake you will lose weight. But just losing weight in the short term is meaningless. What matters is losing weight for good and not gaining it back. It matters not just for your self-image but for your health.

I quoted a doctor in this post who I think describes the real reality of weight loss well: http://losingweightafter45isabitch.blogspot.com/2010/11/proving-that-rush-limbaugh-really-is.html

As a refresher, here is just part of what the Doctor said:

The two-month timeline here is important for another reason. Over the long term, controlling calories means either going hungry, or finding a way to feel full and satisfied on fewer calories. Here's where the quality of calories certainly does matter. Foods of high nutritional quality include, among their many virtues, the capacity to produce fullness on fewer calories. Eating until full and yet being lean is having your cake and eating it too -- but snack cakes will never get you there!


That's the nut. You can lose weight on Twinkies, but you won't lose the weight for good. Restricting calories on Twinkies is not sustainable. You'll feel hungry, and won't have the energy you need to complete your day. It's merely the crazy, crash diet of the Yo-Yo cycle.

If you want to lose weight and keep it off you have to make permanent, life-time changes to the way you eat. Eating unprocessed foods, and focusing on eating fresh fruits and vegetables will leave you filling full, satisfied and able to complete your day.

And, that ain't no Yo-Yo.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

And the Best Way to Curb Obesity is . . . .

taxing junk food and limiting advertisements: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20101111/hl_nm/us_obesity_prevention

Here's the deal:


LONDON (Reuters) – Taxing junk food, limiting food adverts and making labels clearer could be the best way to curb rising obesity levels in countries like India and China, where increasing prosperity is creating ever heavier consumers.

The average annual cost of tackling obesity with these measures could be less than $1 per head, and global experts said in a study on Thursday that emerging economies should take immediate action to reverse rising obesity rates before the problem reaches levels seen in the industrialized world.

Researchers from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) studied possible strategies to combat obesity in six emerging economies and also in England.

They found that combining prevention steps into a co-ordinated strategy would have a significant health impact.

"A multiple intervention strategy would achieve substantially larger health gains than individual programs, with better cost-effectiveness," said Michele Cecchini, an OECD health policy analyst and one of the authors of the study.
This study was targeted at developing economies, but I think its something the US should be taking seriously as well. I'm all for taxing ultra-processed junk foods and sugary drinks.

For one thing, they're like alcohol and cigarettes, not good for us, so if we insist on indulging, we should be paying taxes to offset the social costs (i.e., higher health care costs).

Second, let's face it, the government needs the money to pay off the debts we have. The day coming when this country wakes up and realizes "no new taxes" is a fantasy (probably the day China decides our credit is no longer any good). Like Greece and Ireland we're going to have our own national finacial crisis that will make the last few years seem like a cake-walk.

It's simply delusional to think we can pay off the mounting debts we have from government programs no one wants to cut or wars we feel we can't end without raising taxes somewhere. I'm against raising income taxes, and I'm somewhat opposed to a national sales tax (unless there's a corresponding reduction in the income tax), but soda and junk food taxes? I'm all over that.

Of course, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and the rest of the Fox News Universe is going to scream that it's unpatriotic to tax Ho Hos and Coke. They'll scream over the airwaves and through the boob tube that somehow we're interfering with what's truly "American" by taxing food creating by huge food conglomerates which advertise on their programs (I guess the only "true Americans" are lethargic, obese couch potatoes who sit on sofas, eating Doritos and listening to the bullshit they spew).

But then again, his highness of rotundness, Rush Limbaugh, thinks you can lose weight and be healthy simply be restricting your calories and eating Twinkies. LOL!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Economy of an Aging Sex Kitten

I wasn't sure what to make of this article: http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-11-15/how-cher-and-sharon-stone-keep-their-careers-alive/

The nut of the article is here:


With the exception of enduring stars like Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton, it's no secret that as actresses grow older, the roles start drying up. It's incredibly sexist, certainly, but no one hides it. As PR veteran Michael Levine, who has represented Barbra Streisand and Michael Jackson, told The Daily Beast, "There is a very painful joke amongst elites in the entertainment industry, which says that as actors get older, they look like Sean Connery. The problem is that as women get older, they also tend to look like Sean Connery.

"It's very painful," Levine continued, "but you either have to make peace with it or continue to fight it for the rest of your life. It's a brutal fact and it places pressure on you to act differently, if you want to remain relevant both economically and socially."

So what are 52-year-olds like, say, Sharon Stone and Michelle Pfeiffer to do? According to one publicist, the answer lies in branching out into a "horizontally integrated economic model." In other words, rather than relying on one revenue stream (i.e., fees from starring in movies and TV shows), having a much broader portfolio that is based on several different income sources. There's the cosmetics line. There's the festival circuit, in which, in exchange for showing up at, say, the Singapore Sun Festival (where Stone is a featured guest this month, a star's travel and accommodation expenses are covered. There are the speaking engagements and personal appearances that rack up thousands of dollars for a few hours' work. There are the cruises. There are books.

As a woman, should I be insulted about this article, or just shrug my shoulders and acknowledge it as the truth. What was really sad to me was that when you look at the photos of these aging "sex kittens" they all look pretty damn good.

But I guess it is the sad reality of Hollywood society is that as women get older they are devalued simply because they got older. We see women of all ages in our daily lives, but apparently we don't want to see them in our movies, or at least that's the thinking in Hollywood (I guess that's the reason why Nancy Meyer's movies are such complete flops).

So, focusing on being a "sex kitten" when you're younger is probably not a good idea since no matter what you do to look good, you just become too old, too quickly. At least in the eyes of Hollywood executives that is.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Proving that Rush Limbaugh Really Is a Big Giant Gas-Bag


Last week I blogged about Rush Limbaugh's stupidity in touting the "Twinkie Diet." In case you've forgotten, some professor managed to lose weight by limiting his calorie intake for two months but ate processed foods such as Twinkies. Rush blabbered to his guileless audience that eating healthy foods has no impact on weight loss or health, and that people should go on eating ultra-processed crap.

This is not the dumbest claim I ever heard Rush make (although its up there), but it does go to show just how deep in the pocket of corporate interests he is. Rush and his ilk have been pushing back against the non-processed food movement and the whole idea of eating a more plant-based diet (could someone please explain to me why eating healthy is liberal and un-American while eating processed crap and red meat makes you a patriot?)

The "Twinke diet" has gotten a lot of press beyond just Rush Gas-Bag, however, and people with actual knowledge of health and weight loss have begun commenting. Here is one explanation as to why the "Twinkie Diet" is, excuse my French, complete and utter bullshit: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-katz-md/chewing-on-the-twinkie-di_b_782678.html

Here's what this good doctor has to say:

"A deficit of roughly 3,500 kcal is required to lose one pound of body fat. A restriction of 800 kcal per day for 70 days represents a calorie deficit of 56,000 kcal. That would be enough to account for a loss of 16 pounds of body fat. It takes smaller calorie deficits to lose other body tissues -- such as muscle -- and none at all to lose body water, which tends to happen with dieting. Calorie restriction produced the professor's weight loss, and was not particularly helped -- and certainly not hindered -- by the fact that these were mostly "bad" calories.

As for the changes seen in the lipid panel, these are likely by-products of weight loss per se. An excess of body fat is associated with increased inflammatory responses, and often, increased levels of insulin. Both inflammation and hormonal imbalances in turn affect cholesterol and other blood lipids. When body fat is lost, these effects are reversed -- and improvements in blood lipids are likely.

The mistake is to think this means better health. For one thing, health is a composite of far more than BMI and LDL. For another, its relevant time horizon is far more distant than two months.

Severe illness of all kinds is associated with sudden drops in total cholesterol. Drug addiction, chemotherapy, cholera and advanced HIV are all associated with weight loss. Cancer rather predictably leads to declines in both weight and lipids as it advances. These associations are more than sufficient to show that health cannot be summed up by weight and lipids. An overwhelming body of research shows what dietary patterns do produce lasting good health -- all emphasize wholesome, mostly plant foods direct from nature. None emphasizes Ho Hos.

The two-month timeline here is important for another reason. Over the long term, controlling calories means either going hungry, or finding a way to feel full and satisfied on fewer calories. Here's where the quality of calories certainly does matter. Foods of high nutritional quality include, among their many virtues, the capacity to produce fullness on fewer calories. Eating until full and yet being lean is having your cake and eating it too -- but snack cakes will never get you there!

Chewing on implications of the Twinkie diet for health in the context of either science or sense reveals that calorie control for weight loss always was a good idea, and still is; chewing on Twinkies never was, and still isn't."

Bottom line, if you actually want to be healthy and lose weight for good you have to change your eating patterns and exercise more. You have to give up eating ultra-processed foods, have the majority of your diet be plant based, and refined white breads and rices, etc., have to become nothing more than an occasional treat.

Proving that, not only is Rush Limbaugh a fool, but that anyone who listens to him and takes him seriously really is an idiot. And anyone who believes this rotund, radio whore is qualified to give weight loss advice is simply delusional. Keep it up Rush, both you and your listeners will all be adding to the country's spiraling health care costs.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Absolute Worst Thing You Can See at a Gym


Free Krispy Kreme Donuts. I guess that's one way to keep your Gym Membership up. Hand out free donuts so that people have to come back the next day to work them off!! LOL!!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Freezing the Fat Away

The other night, I and a few girl-friends attended a cosmetic surgery party. For those of you who don't know what this is, plastic surgeons host a party with free food and booze to give wealthy women spiels as to how young they could look (or what kind of better body you can have) if they just invest in some surgical or non-surgical procedures. After the spiel you get to leave with a goody bag of high priced anti-aging lotions and potions and coupons for discounts on various services.

I usually go to these parties mostly to hang out with my friends. There's usually a period of time prior to the spiel where you can hang out drinking Champagne with your friends as the doctors, their assistants and various cosmetologians etc., mingle. Plus it's always fun to hear about the latest and greatest ways you can supposedly look younger or thinner if you're willing to part with some of your money.

Now, I have to say, I've always been very suspect of anything that sounds too easy or too good to be true. Injecting some foreign substance into your face now may make you look a little more "refreshed" but twenty or thirty years from now what negative consequences will we discover can arise from these "simple non-surgical" procedures?

I've also been suspect of liposuction being the cure all for being overweight, and I have to say that most of the surgeons I've dealt with will say point blank it isn't. All it's supposed to do is spot remove stubborn pockets of fat that don't respond to diet or exercise.

Being that I have the post-pregnancy, post menopausal "muffin top" going on, I have to admit I've always had a little liposuction fantasy going on for a couple of years now. I dream of suctioning the muffin top away.

But the expense, downtime and fear of complications as always stopped me from making my fantasy a reality.

However, at the "party" I heard of a new "fat burning" technique for those muffin tops. It's called "cryolypolysis" and goes by the trade name Zeltiq. Essentially, what they do is "freeze" the fat cells which die and then you lose approximately 20% of the fat in a given area. There's no surgery, and you can resume your normal activities immediately. Essentially, you can drive in, do the freeze, then drive away and resume your normal chores.

Of course, this sounded too good to be true, so I did a little Googling, and thus far haven't seen anything suggesting any major negative side effects. Here's the Wikipedia article on it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryolipolysis. Another good article is here: http://www.healthiertalk.com/cryolipolysis-freezing-away-fat-2624.

But, it is a relatively new procedure, so I would say "wait and see" is still prudent. The data only goes back months, and I don't think that's a significant period of time.

It's not a substitute for getting off processed foods, and exercising, but when you reach a certain age and can't get rid of your "pooch," it certainly does appeal.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Unexpectedly Unhealthy Kids' Foods

For anyone trying to get their kids to eat right: http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/food/5-unexpectedly-unhealthy-kids-foods-2406386/

The Vegan Challenge Day 3

I'm three days into my self-imposed "vegan challenge" and, frankly, I'm not missing the meat, fish, dairy or eggs at all. Mind you, I wouldn't make being a vegan a permanent life-style choice, but for a short cleanse, it works well.

My husband hasn't even noticed that I'm cooking vegan for dinner. Last night I made black-bean veggie burgers with guacamole--a recipe I've been working on for a couple of months--and he loved them so much, he took a "burger" for lunch and asked that I make them again soon.

The plus side for me is that I feel great. As I wrote the other day, I was feeling the Winter doldrums early this year, and thought a simple cleanse prior to the holidays was a good idea. No sugar, no refined carbs and no meat, fish, dairy or eggs. Just lots of fresh veggies, fruit and whole grains.

Three days in and I feel marvelous. So great, I think I'll go vegan again next week.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Rush Limbaugh is a Big Giant Gas Bag

Why, oh why do people insist on giving this idiot time on the airways??

First there was global warning denial, now it looks like we're going to have processed foods denial.

Here's what Rush had to say on a recent program:

"What have I told you about diet and exercise? Exercise is irrelevant. What matters in losing weight is what you eat, pure and simple, and how much, nothing more than that. And everybody tries to tell me I'm wrong, that I don't know what I'm talking about. And every time a story comes out on this I am validated, and nobody has ever said, "Rush, you know, you were right about this." This is CNN, their Web page: "For 10 weeks, Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, ate one of these sugary cakelets every three hours, instead of meals. To add variety in his steady stream of Hostess and Little Debbie snacks, Haub munched on Doritos chips, sugary cereals and Oreos, too." This is a nutrition professor. "His premise: That in weight loss, pure calorie counting is what matters most -- not the nutritional value of the food. The premise held up: On his 'convenience store diet' --" now, remember, this is what Michelle (My Butt) -- uh, that's the second time I've done that and I apologize."
http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/daily/site_110810/content/01125106.guest.html

I'd like to find out Rush's ad revenues from Twinkies and Doritos, and which big food companies subsidized this professor's "research" (if you could even call it research since it in no way meets scientific standards).

Also, Rush finds ONE professor who lost weight by limiting his caloric intake to 1,800 calories a day eating Doritos and Twinkies. There's no indication that the weight loss was long term. Of course if a man restricts his calories to 1,800 a day he'll lose weight. Most men need 2,200 calories a day or more to retain their weight. And, of course this guy's cholesterol etc., went down because he lost weight.

The truth is that there are probably hundreds, if not thousands of research studies showing that eating highly processed food is bad for both your weight and your health. So one professor does a highly unscientific experiment on himself, and, according to Rush Limbaugh, this means that you should just continue to eat junk food (and not exercise) because all that matters is calories.

Yes, calories matter, but having a healthy, sustainable diet is the key to long term weight loss, and having a healthy, sustainable diet means, for the most part, getting super processed foods out of your diet.

So Rush, you're nothing but a big, fat, pompous gas bag that really doesn't know anything about how to lose weight and keep it off. It you were anything else, you wouldn't have to have all your photos airbrushed so that you'd look thinner then your actual rotund self.

We're Getting Fatter

According to current trends, by 2050 42% of Americans will be obese: http://news.yahoo.com/s/hsn/20101106/hl_hsn/usobesityratemayhit42by2050

Note, almost half the population will be OBESE, not a little pudgy or needing to lose 5 or 10 pounds. That means that the rates of diabetes, heart disease and other health issues will increase exponentially, so that health care costs in this country will soar to unheard of heights.

Having that many people seriously overweight will also have implications on our ability to defend ourselves. The military is already having problems recruiting because so many potential recruits are now just overweight. What are they going to do when 42% of potential recruits are obese (and probably another 20 to 25% very overweight)?

This country has got to confront it's eating, drinking and exercise habits. Big food purveyors and food companies have got to take ownership of this issue and stop hiding behind the "it's what the consumer wants" BS.

Our government is essentially allowing capitalism to kill its citizens. The obesity rate in this country is partly of function of capitalism run amok. Capitalism is good, but it still needs controls. Junk food and drinks have to be taxed, and the money used to make healthier foods more affordable.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Vegan Challenge

I don't know if its the change of seasons, my diet, or just what's left over from the bronchitis I had in mid-October, but I've been feeling very listless for the last couple of weeks.

I have to admit that I've been bad. I've been eating alot of refined grains, I ate a bunch of my kids' Halloween candy, and I've been eating more meat then usual.

Usually when I feel kinda "blah" it does somehow appear to be tied to what I'm putting in my body food-wise. The "cure" is normally a cleanse of some sort.

So, this week, I'm going vegan. I'm resolving to eat no meat, fish, dairy or eggs for the next five days. If it was summer, I'd go raw vegan, but it's getting a little late in the season for that. Since I'm not going raw, going vegan allows me to have grains, so any grains I have will be whole grains. I'm also swearing off all refined sugars.

Tonight for breakfast, I'll make beans and greens over whole wheat pasta. Tomorrow I'll make black bean burgers with guacamole on whole wheat buns, and Wednesday I'll plan on a baked falafel salad with lemon tahini dressing. After that, I'll have to plan further.

Breakfasts for the next five days will be fresh fruit, or oatmeal made with almond milk and fresh fruit. Lunch will be a raw salad.

If it goes well, I may extend the cleanse into next week as well. With the Holidays coming up, it will probably be beneficial to "clean" out the body a bit.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Well Duh!!

If you make healthy food look appealing, kids will eat it: http://crispyontheoutside.com/2010/10/27/a-cheap-easy-and-healthy-way-to-fix-school-lunches/

I however, disagree with the author's suggestion that we don't remove the unhealthy foods from the lunch room. As I've said before, if the only food options kids have are healthy, they'll eat healthy. If any option is unhealthy, then even if the vast majority of what they have available to them is healthy, they'll eat unhealthy.

That said, the school lunch room can't operate in a vacuum. If kids know they just have to hold out until they get home to eat crap, well they're not going to eat healthy at school. Parents have to also make sure that they provide healthy, good food to their kids.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Surprise!!

Diet and exercise can have more of an impact on weight loss and maintaining weight loss then procedures such as gastric bypass surgery: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101026/hl_afp/healthusobesitydiet

Actually, for me, that's no surprise. As I repeatedly stated, to lose weight and keep it off you have to:


1. Eat less,
2. Eat better, and
3. Move more.

And, you have to keep up all three things for the rest of your life. You can't "eat better" for a month, lose a few pounds and then go back to your old eating habits.

No, you have to make lifetime changes. Losing weight and keeping it off is not a short term endeavor.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

There's Processed and then There's "Ultra-Processed"

Marion Nestle has a good post on the different levels of processed foods. You can read it here: http://www.foodpolitics.com/2010/11/the-food-movement%e2%80%99s-new-frontier-ultra-processing/

I've heard the argument before that pretty much all food is processed. If you take some locally grown vegetables and cook with them, you've processed them.

So, telling people not to eat processed foods is probably incorrect. What you should be avoiding, if you want to be healthy and slim, is ultra-processed foods.

I found Marion Nestle's post interesting because I was just having a discussion with someone about processed foods today. I was hiking with my girlfriend in the local nature preserve when she asked me "Don't you ever shop at Trader Joes?"

Now, if you're not familiar with Trader Joes, it's a food purveyor that markets all kinds of packaged, processed, convenience foods, albeit under a "natural" "healthy" label.

I explained to my friend that I don't eat or feed my family processed foods (that is ultra-processed foods). Instead, I buy fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, dairy, fish, etc and make meals from scratch. I don't do anything "semi-homemade." If I do make desserts, whether it's a cake, brownies, or cookies, nothing comes from a box, can or jar. I measure out the dry ingredients, and even my frosting is whipped up from as close to natural as I can get ingredients.

Yes, it takes a little more time to do things this way, but by doing so, my family eats far fewer questionable additives and ingredients that are usually in processed products.

The other good thing is that because it is more time consuming to eat this way, we eat less. When food is not so easy to make, you naturally make and eat less, and when the only "ready to eat" foods in the house are raw fruits and vegetables or dried fruits and nuts, that's what you eat when you do get peckish between meals.

Eating less,of course, translates into losing weight or maintaining a lower weight easier. And, if the only quick snack available is a banana, that's far fewer calories consumed then a box of Thin Mints.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Drugs Won't Do it

The FDA rejects yet another weight loss drug: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39905030/ns/health-diet_and_nutrition/

It seems that it caused suicidal thoughts, heart palpitations, memory lapses, and, oh yeah, birth defects.

The drugs just ain't worth it. Besides they don't get to the route cause of the problem. People are overweight because:

1) They eat shitty food

2) They consume too many calories and

3) They don't move enough.

If people just:

1) Ate healthy, "real" foods.

2) Ate primarily fruits and vegetables and whole grains,

3) Consumed fewer calories

4) Moved more.

They wouldn't need any drugs, because, THEY'D BE THIN (or at least thin for their body type).

It's that simple.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Now, this is Just Obnoxious


I don't believe in the so called "fat acceptance" movement. I believe that being overweight is not something you should accept about yourself because it carries serious health risks.

If you're severely overweight, you should be working on eating better and getting more exercise--not revelling in your fatness as you head off to Burger King for a Whopper with cheese.

That said, I also believe that you do have to be somewhat accepting of the fact that not everyone can be a size 0 without resorting to eating habits that are just as unhealthy as those of the overweight. Media projects unhealthy images as to what a normal healthy person should look like, and we need to realize that being 5 foot 2 and 130 pounds is not all that bad for a 50 year old woman.

I also think that mocking fat people is just plain WRONG. So I incredibly got pissed off when I read this column from Marie Claire: http://www.marieclaire.com/sex-love/dating-blog/overweight-couples-on-television

Seriously, who the hell does this bitch think she is?

In this column, about a TV show showcasing two overweight people falling in love, the writer says things such as:

So anyway, yes, I think I'd be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other ... because I'd be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I'd find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine addict slumping in a chair.


Huh??? You can't stand to even watch fat people walking??? Here's some news lady, if you want fat people to not be fat, then WALKING is actually a good idea. Let's not make them self-conscience for engaging in an activity that might actually help them lose a few of those pounds you find so "gross."

BTW, check out the comments to the article. Apparently just about everyone who read it was as disgusted as I was.



Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Add this to the Bad Diet Hall of Fame

The ice cube diet: http://jezebel.com/5673914/the-ice-cube-diet-and-other-bad-ideas

They're ice cubes supposedly laced with Hoodia. I'd say this one is right up there with the cookie diet and Slim-fast.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Another Reason To Watch Your Weight

Heavy women make less and are treated worse in the work-place: http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/life/3-strikes-against-curvy-women-2396311/

I'm not saying that it's right, but it is reality.

Personally, I find it shocking that women are judged so harshly for having a few extra pounds, and rather disgusted by the poor treatment they receive. Even more shocking is that overweight men are not discriminated against in the same way overweight women are discriminated against.

In a society in which we are bombarded with images of women that are nothing but fantasy, I guess those in charge find the reality of women too jarring. Unfortunately, we can't photo-shop ourselves in the real world.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sometimes You're better Off with the Steak

I'm sorry but anything that contains upwards of 1,200 calories in a single serving should not be allowed to use the designation "salad." http://health.yahoo.net/experts/eatthis/6-salads-worse-whopper

These gut busting salads are just one reason why I want calorie counts on menus. When you're someone like me who can only eat 1,600 calories a day without gaining weight (I'm pretty small), then I sure as hell want to know if eating a "salad" will blow my entire caloric wad for the day.

And, frankly, I do not understand why the restaurant business has fought putting calorie counts on menus. I mean how the hell, fucking hard could it be to just list a few extra words and numbers on a freakin' menu. Many chain restaurants already list the calorie counts on their websites, so just take the information from there and post the god-damn numbers on the god-damn menu.

I've gone through the bother of checking calorie counts on-line, and have too often been appalled at what I've found. It would really help me out to know prior to ordering, and I really don't understand the problem from the restaurant side.

Is a Donut a Donut by any other Color?

Not really. Apparently food dyes potentially can have serious, negative health effects. Read about it here: http://www.eatingwell.com/food_news_origins/food_news/the_hidden_health_risks_of_food_dyes?utm_source=HuffingtonPost_Brierley_FoodDyes_101510

Here's the bottom line:

If you’re concerned, ditch the potentially dangerous synthetic dyes. Look for foods bearing the green-and-white USDA certified organic label, but be aware that foods labeled “made with organic ingredients” may still contain synthetic dyes. You can also check product ingredient lists for beet, carotenes, annatto, capsanthin (a paprika extract)—as all are natural colorants. Counterintuitively, the terms “artificial color,” “artificial color added” or “color added” also indicate that nature-derived pigments were used since synthetic dyes must be listed by their names.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fat Talk Free Week

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2025345,00.html#ixzz12vRi5toY

I think this is a worthy effort to get girls thinking about their dieting habits. While its been over 25 years since I was in college, I still remember some of the crazy diets that I and my girlfriends used to "slim down."

I remember the grapefruit diet, Slimfast and the cabbage soup diet. None of these crazy diets ever produced anything more then excessive gas and maybe a short-term drop of a few pounds.

Now that I'm older and wiser, I know that being thin is a natural consequence of eating healthy, eating appropriate portions, and exercising.

To lose fat weight (and not water or muscle), is a slow, laborious, time consuming process. You can't just swear off fast food for a few weeks.

Girls if you want to take off the pounds and keep them off for good, you have to promise yourself to never, ever set foot in a McDonalds or Burger King again, and make fast friends with whole grain bread.

You also have to make the commitment to MOVE MORE. Notice I don't say "exercise." Getting into a regular exercise habit is good, but it's even more important to learn to walk instead taking the bus or using the stairs instead of the elevator.

So, sisters, the road to lifetime thinness is not paved with quickie two or three week crash diets. The only way to get to thinsville is to commit yourself to eating right and moving more.



Tulipmania



I buy a shocking amount of bulbs every Fall. This year alone I bought a few hundred Tulips, daffodil and Frittilia bulbs.

Daffodils, for the most part, come back year after year, so after 16 years of planting at least 50 or more daffodils a year, my yard is starting to look pretty spectacular in early Spring. I can look out just about any window of my house and see hundreds of yellow blooms lighting up the landscape every April and May (and in some warm years March).

I just love Tulips. I think I would have succombed to Tulipmania had I been alive in Holland in the 17th Century, but I have to admit they are a bit of a bother. First of all, they're pretty much annuals so they have to be replanted year after year. Sometimes you get a few additional years out of a particular single bulb, but you don't get the mass planting of tulips which is really what tulip planting is all about.

Deer are another problem were tulips are concerned. Tulips are apparently the equivalent to Easter Candy for the deer. Just as they are about to bloom into a glorious profusion of color, the deer will come along and wipe out every one. I have to start spraying my tulips with deer repellent every year as soon as they start to pop out of the ground.

Chipmunks are another problem. Tulip bulbs are to chipmunks what truffles are to pigs--underground morsels of delight. I have to spread copious amounts of garlic powder over all my tulip plantings to thwart the chipmunks from eating them.

But despite the extra work, I think tulips are worth the effort. I plant various shades of pink tulips every year in my main garden beds. In the area fronting the herb garden I plant red and white Rembrandt style tulips, and in the beds facing the walk to the house I plant alternative groupings of white and black tulips.

In addition to tulips and daffodils I also plant various other bulbs every year, including hyacinths, Frittillia, crocus, alliums and other major and minor bulbs.

What does this have to do with weight loss and maintenance? Well, as I've repeatedly said in this country we focus too much on exercise and not enough on just plain old moving.

I may not be working up a sweat gardening (although I still get plenty dirty), but I'm burning anywhere between 200 and 275 calories an hour, depending on how intense I'm doing it.

So, by spending approximately six hours every year planting bulbs, I'm burning anywhere between 1,200 and 1,650 calories.

And, I get a spectacular display every Spring for my efforts.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I'm Going to Hell

At least according to this guy:



This again shows how ignorant some of these "Christians" can be. Yoga is not Hinduism. Yoga is not a religion. Many yogis are Hindus, but some are also Buddhist, Muslim, etc.

Myself, I'm of no religion (although I was raised a Catholic.) It's a shame that idiots like Pastor Mark Driscoll spread misinformation and scare their followers away from something that could ultimately be beneficial to them.

In fact, I think many of the people sitting in this guy's audience would be better off in a yoga class then listening to this clown. Pastor Driscoll is probably more demonic and bad for people's souls then any yogi could be.

Indeed, in my lifetime I've met far more people of the "religious" bent who I found lacking in moral charactor then those I've met in my yogic journeys.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Are You an Industrial Food Addict?

A really good, must read article from over at HuffPo: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/food-addiction-could-it-e_b_764863.html

I thought this part was particularly interesting:

New discoveries in science prove that industrially processed, sugar-, fat- and salt-laden food -- food that is made in a plant rather than grown on a plant, as Michael Pollan would say -- is biologically addictive.

Imagine a foot-high pile of broccoli, or a giant bowl of apple slices. Do you know anyone who would binge broccoli or apples? On other hand, imagine a mountain of potato chips or a whole bag of cookies, or a pint of ice cream. Those are easy to imagining vanishing in an unconscious, reptilian brain eating frenzy. Broccoli is not addictive, but cookies, chips, or soda absolutely can become addictive drugs.

The "just say no" approach to drug addiction hasn't fared to well, and it won't work for our industrial food addiction, either. Tell a cocaine or heroin addict or an alcoholic to "just say no" after that first snort, shot, or drink. It's not that simple. There are specific biological mechanisms that drive addictive behavior. Nobody chooses to be a heroin addict, cokehead, or drunk. Nobody chooses to be fat, either. The behaviors arise out of primitive neurochemical reward centers in the brain that override normal willpower and overwhelm our ordinary biological signals that control hunger. Consider:

•Why do cigarette smokers continue to smoke even though they know smoking will give them cancer and heart disease?

•Why do less than 20 percent of alcoholics successfully quit drinking?


•Why do most addicts continue to use cocaine and heroin despite their lives being destroyed?


•Why does quitting caffeine lead to irritability and headaches?


It is because these substances are all biologically addictive.

Well, Duh!! Any woman could Have Told you that!

Researchers find that the upper and lower body gain weight differently: http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/569158/?sc=rsmn&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NewswiseMednews+%28Newswise%3A+MedNews%29

Friday, October 15, 2010

To Fat to Fight Continued

I've written before about the military having a hard time recruiting because kids are so fat these days, but saw this and thought I'd post it for you to read: http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20101015/sc_livescience/toofattofightobesityathreattonationaldefense

Some Good News on the Food Front

Wal-Mart plans on buying and selling more local produce: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/15/business/15walmart.html?_r=1&src=busln

As I wrote when I got back from Ireland, one of the things that amazed me in Ireland was that fruit was available everywhere. Every 24 hour convenience store, airport concession, snack bar etc. had fruit.

And, not only was the fruit there, it was delicious. The apples were crisp and tart, the bananas perfectly ripe, and packages of strawberries were plump and sweet.

When I got back to the states, I made a conscience effort to seek out fruit and buy it from places you normally don't find it.

First, it was hard to find. In one airport, I was only able to find a few, very old, bananas. If I found an apple (usually a red delicious) it was inevitably mealy tasting.

I came to the conclusion that it had to do with distances. In Europe, food is shipped from near-by, and quickly sold while its still fresh.

Here in the states, food is shipped over long distances and usually stored for long periods of time under less then optimal conditions.

So hopefully, more local produce will mean better tasting produce at Wal-Mart which will lead to more people eating fruits and vegetables.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Soda is Not Food

An interesting read: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-katz-md/is-sodafood_b_753959.html

No, soda is not food, and neither is iced tea nor any other flavored-sugar filled beverage.

And, when you're trying to lose weight--or simply maintain it--the absolute worst thing you can do is drink your calories. An average sized flavored-ice tea or soda contains over 200 calories in one 8 ounce serving.

When you can only consume 1,600 to 2,000 calories a day (that is the reality for most women), then 200 calories drunk as soda is a huge waste of your daily caloric intake. It won't satisfy your hunger, so you'll wind up eating more then your daily allotment.

No, soda is not food and should not be part of anyone's daily diet.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It's Non-GMO Month!!!

I just found out that this is the first official Non-GMO month: http://www.nongmoproject.org/consumers/non-gmo-month/

To fill you in, GMO stands for "Genetically Modified Organisms." GMOs are products of biotechnology (also called genetic engineering or GE), which creates new combinations of plant, animal, bacteria and viral genes by combining DNA from one species with DNA from another. The result: new organisms that do not occur in nature.

In short, GMOs are the ultimate processed foods. Beets and corn are two crops that have been compromised by genetic engineering, and now we have the threat of a Franken Salmon reaching our dinner plates.

Why should we care about eating GMO foods if we're trying to lose weight? Well, if any of you have gotten anywhere on your weight loss or weight maintenance journeys, you've probably figured out that the one and only way to truly lose weight and keep it off is to swear off processed food and eat as naturally as possible.

GMOs are, of course, as unnatural as you can get. No one at this point knows the long term effects of eating GMO foods, but if history is any clue, it can't be good.

Research has shown, for example, that eating foods with high-fructose corn syrups are likely to make you fatter than foods with the same calories containing plain old-fashioned sugar. HFCS is, of course, much more refined and processed then regular sugar, so it stands to reason that it's more likely that foods made with GMO ingredients are probably not good for your waistline.

Oh, and BTW, since corn is now a major GMO crop, alot of that HFCS is now made with GMO corn--just imagine how gut busting that must be!!

But there are other reasons to avoid GMOs as well.

First, there is virtually no research on the long term health effects of eating GMOs, although there are indications that GMOs are more allergenic, and possibly more toxic.

Second, GE crops are bad for the environment. One of the reasons why GMO crops are created are so that farmers can douse their crops with huge amounts of pesticides and herbicides without damaging the crops. The liberal use of pesticides and herbicides, however, does harm the environment, and has even led to the evolution of "superweeds" which can withstand the constant dousing with herbicides. There are also issues with GMOs escaping into the ecosystem and reeking havoc.

Avoiding GMOs, however, isn't easy. Needless to say the agribusiness lobby has been hard at work to keep any regulation of their industry at bay. There is almost no labeling on GMO foods.

One way to tell if a fruit of vegetable is GMO is to read those little stickers on fruits and vegetables. If the first number is 8 it means it's a GMO (remember "I hate eight.") If it's a 9, it means its organic, and if the first number is 4 it's conventionally grown.

Another is to look for products that tout they don't contain GMOs.

You might also want to check out the Non-GMO's shopping guide: http://www.nongmoproject.org/consumers/search-participating-products/print-shopping-guide/

As I mentioned, since both beets and corns are now GMO crops, just about any non-organic product you buy that contains sugar has GMOs in it, as do many organic products.

So, the old dictum fits here--Let the buyer beware.

But more importantly--vote with your dollars.

If you demand and only buy non-GMO products, and convince others to do so as well, food producers will do what are limp willed politicians won't -- they'll make sure you are provided with non-GMO products that are labeled as such.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Banning Soda for Food Stamps Raises Tough Questions

As you all can imagine, I am all for NYC's Mayor Bloomberg's proposal for banning people from using food stamps to buy soda. Hell, I think soda should be taxed the same way alcohol and cigarettes are taxed.

Still I try to keep an open mind and this article presents both sides of the issue: http://civileats.com/2010/10/08/banning-soda-for-food-stamps-raises-tough-questions/

I have to say the "dignity" argument really doesn't persuade me at all. We don't allow food stamp recipients to use their food stamps to buy beer or alcohol, so why should we allow them to buy soda which is probably just as damaging to their health? Particularly since their health care costs are usually publicly subsidized as well.

I found Mr. Fisher's arguments that the food stamps program really amounts to nothing more then subsidies for the food industry persuasive.

I'd argue that if we really want people on food stamps to eat better, and support smaller farmers, then they should be given double points for buying their food at farmer's markets. We constantly hear that poor people can't afford to eat nutritional sound fresh fruits and vegetables because they're more expensive. So here's what you do--make fruits and vegetables cheaper for them by saying a $1 in food stamps is worth $2 if you buy fruits and vegetables at a farmer's market.

You support small businesses--not agribusiness--and help poor people eat better.

I'd call that a win, win.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Want to Burn More Fat? Go to bed.

An interesting study showing that those who slept more burned more fat than muscle on diets, while those who slept less burned more muscle than fat. Read it here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/05/dieting-more-sleep-helps-_n_751429.html

Of course, knowing that extra sleep is helpful in losing fat and actually getting that extra hour of sleep are two completely different things. As someone who regularly rises at 5:30 am, I for one would love to get an extra hour or two of sleep a night. Hell, I would just like to be able to roll around in bed for fifteen or twenty minutes after waking up.

When you work, have kids, own a home and want to be able to fit in exercise into your schedule, however, getting enough sleep is tough. I do try to stay in bed as long as I can on the weekends, and it's not unusual for me to sometimes get to bed fairly early in the evenings when I can. I've also been known to take a nap mid-afternoon before the kids get home from school. Despite all that, however, I often find myself walking around in a state of perpetual tiredness, just looking for an opportunity to find a little time to get some sleep.

I don't think my situation is not all that unusual. Sleep has somewhat been de-prioritized in the last couple decades. With TV, computers etc, we all have far too many distractions to keep us up. Hell, we tend to get mocked (as I do), if you actually go to bed before 10 pm from time to time.


But, I do think we do need to prioritize sleep. Staying up to 11 pm to watch the latest episode Mad Men is not a really good idea if it cuts into your sleep time. I solved this issue myself by getting a DVR and record shows that are on late at night. What's more, the DVR is on the TV in front of my treadmill, so if I want to watch Mad Men then I have to get on the treadmill to do so.

And, instead of playing around on the computer when you have some time to kill mid-day, maybe it would be better to take a nap. I know I'm going to be thinking about taking more naps now that I've read about this study.

The truth is I always feel guilty about taking naps, even being somewhat embarrassed to admit that I do so. Napping, like wide shouldered suits, is something that just seems so unfashionable. People don't nap anymore, just like they prefer to stay awake late watching TV.

Maybe we should all get in the habit of taking more naps and going to bed a little earlier.

Apparently, it would be good for our BMIs.