Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My OFB is the city's FOG

It is a pretty well known fact that I do not cook with any oil, fat or butter and that when I go to restaurants, I order my grilled seafood and steamed veggies without any oil, fat or butter - or as I like to say no OFB.

I do use monounsaturated oils - especially olive oil - I just don't cook with it.

I am admittedly saturated fat phobic. However, more of us should be afraid of that artery clogging fat.  Saturated fat is what you find in red meats, fried foods, and many baked goods.

I do want to keep my blood lipids (blood fats) low as to prevent plaque build up and hardening of my arteries - things which can lead to a heart attack oh and if your a man - erectile dysfunction (i.e. blood flow to the penis:)). (of course, saturated fat is very high in calories too!)

FOG is something similar.  I got a little postcard in my mailbox yesterday from the city - it told me that FOG - fats, oils and grease - can clog the sewer system and I needed to NOT pour them down my sink or into my toilet.  The city suggested that if I put FOG in the trash my pipes would not clog.

Thus - FOG or OFB - whatever you call it - it is best to trash it.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Toddlers to Twenty Somethings

On one of my running routes, actually two of them – I pass by preschool play grounds. I see the children outside by the swing sets sometimes, but on one of the routes, I run (on the sidewalk) right by the fence where the children are playing.  I always smile and wave if they are looking.  I have to show them the grown up having fun exercising J

Last week, I ran by that particular pre school, and the kids were out again.  It had been a couple of weeks since I had seen them – the weather I suppose.  The children – boys and girls – are most certainly age 3 and 4.  This last time, I saw one or two digging, a couple running and a whole group of them walking down hill backwards, falling, rolling, laughing. It was divine.

Today, I did some studying outside on campus, because it was warm.  I am quite lucky to have 1) an office (cubby) space at all and 2) to have this space on the floor that ‘houses’ the athletic team training and rehab rooms.  I am always walking by runners, softball and base ball players, students who play volleyball, basketball, and soccer, etc.  While I was outside today, the women’s softball team was practicing.  I saw some good catches, throws and dives.  A group of male runners congregated near the building entrance, and a trainer worked with a few women.  One of them was on a stationary bike – outside (how cool).  But the best thing I saw – a young woman who was small framed (so I would guess her a runner), had a cinch around her waist – like a horse might be tethered to an aerator or plow.  The strap around her waist went down her right and left side, again, think of a horse being hitched to a hand plow. She was attached to a round piece of steel, iron or something – which really could have been some kind of grounds keeping tool – but on closer inspection, it seemed to have a free weight  - or weight plates on it. The heavy round disc (oh let’s see, hold your arms in front of you with your fingertips touching, palms facing you – it was at least twice that round and a few inches in diameter) was flat on the ground.  She turned around and was pulling that thing across the field and back. The disc did not leave the ground – she drug it.   Mostly I expect she was working her legs – quads probably. 

But anyway – YAY for spring and physical activity and our youth – 3 or 4 or 24

As NC Says – Eat Smart and Move More

Monday, February 27, 2012

To Sleep

I have written several posts that mention sleep.  This one talks about sleep needs as we age and this one refers to over use of medication for treatment of sleep irregularities. (if you want to see more of my past posts on sleep, use the search box on the Health Educator blogsite - on the right)

I bring the posts up because this popular press article discusses some recent research that identifies the high risk of mortality (death) related to the use of some of the popular sleep medications.

One of the things I consider myself blessed to have is good sleep.  I only have trouble falling or staying asleep on the rarest of occasion.  I attribute my sleep consistency to sleep hygiene - same time to bed and wake each day- daily exercise and good nutrition (every day).  

When I was completing my first semester of the doctorate program I did have a real sleep scare.  I NEVER thought of treating it with a pill, but I can promise you, a doctor would have offered me one in about two seconds.  It was hard - but I worked through it - I knew it was stress. I did a lot of self talk - trying not to give into it.  I was very fearful of letting an acute 'crisis'  become a chronic condition.  Again - I do not take my good sleep for granted.

There are true sleep disorders that require medical treatment - the thing is - most people getting that treatment don't have those disorders!

Odds and Ends

This week's version is going to have to be a literal one liner - it is mid term project and exam week and my brain is literally about to implode... oh, ok - obviously - not literally... but I may be gone for a few days....

Prescribing Exercise -  I am really delegating this one.  One of my newsletters had an intriguing headline - doctors are telling patients to exercise!  That is great news.  I kept the article in my queue all week but never had the time to read it.  I will pass it on to you. Read Me.

Weight Watchers Gains Another - One of my professors told me he joined Weight Watchers - and I bet you know what I said...... "THAT is AWESOME!"  Followed by, WW is the only program that I have ever endorsed and that is because it teaches lifetime habits - not 'diets.'

Heart Attack - Women - We die from heart attacks more than men.  It may be related to the symptoms that both women and physicians miss.  Watch the CBS news video here.

My Ice Cream - Earlier this year, oh wait - late last year, I told you about a Blue Bunny ice cream that was sugar free with half the fat of regular ice cream.  Not all Blue Bunny but some types of it meet this criteria.  This week I noticed a change in the package.  It now says Sweet Freedom AND comes with some FOP labeling.  Listed on the front are calories, total fat grams and carbs.  Well - one out of 4 ain't bad.  The recommendations from the IOM were saturated fat grams, total calories or calories per RACC (i.e. 1/2 cup), sodium and sugar.  The IOM also said not to add the % DV.  This label had that as well.  It did not tell how many grams per serving or the household serving size that this info pertained to.  Still - I find the ice cream yummy.

Store Labels - On another shopping trip, I noticed that the grocer had put some FOP labeling on its packages of shredded cheese - store brand.  Again, they are not using the standard or the info that has been recommended by the IOM.  I truly hope the FDA gets on top of this.

Database updated - The USDA nutrient database that I have referred you to in the past, has been upgraded.  You can visit it here.  First click on the start your search here line and then put in the name of a food, like I just did - KALE  - It will come back with some options, like - cooked, raw, frozen, salt, no salt...etc and it will tell you the nutrient info, including calories.  SO the kale I made today - oh my goodness it was yummy.  I simmered it with garlic powder and a bouillon cube.  It isn't always yummy, but this batch was the best - it was only this good once before and I didn't make it that time.  My sister says that it has to do with when it was picked.  When I bought it - today - the tag said, fresh - local.

HA HA HA _ I said these would be one liners..... I am going to fail my classes......

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Choices determined by Chances

Cockerham, W. C., Rütten, A., & Abel, T. (1997). CONCEPTUALIZING CONTEMPORARY HEALTH LIFESTYLES. Sociological Quarterly, 38(2), 321-342.

Older article - important words... all taken directly from the text as follows: 
 We would therefore suggest the following definition of health lifestyles: collective patterns
of health-related behavior based on choices from options available to people according to
their life chances. These life chances include age, gender, race, ethnicity, and other relevant
variables that impact on lifestyle choices. The behaviors generated from these choices can
have either positive or negative consequences on body and mind but nonetheless form an
overall pattern of health practices that constitute a lifestyle. We further suggest that this definition
provides an initial theoretical statement of a health lifestyle. It incorporates the interplay
of choice and chance along Weberian lines but omits the requirement that choices are voluntary. We would add that adoption of a health lifestyle gives the individual a strategy that serves as an anchor in coping with health risks in an evolving postmodem environment. Contrary to Weber, we assign priority to chance over choice, although choice remains a central factor in lifestyle selection. Bourdieu’s assertion that structure determines the perceptual
boundaries underlying choice is persuasive.
 Noting in my words, we do not have equal chances and therefore we do not have the same choices..

Friday, February 24, 2012

Not the juice, not the pill - it is the FRUIT

Let me get ahead of the marketing blitz and save you from making a wrong decision.

A study that was reported in the news yesterday and published in the American Heart and Stroke Associations' Journal - Stroke- found that those who ate more oranges and grapefruits - or citrus - had lower incidence/risk of clot related strokes.  (the study summary can be read here)
This positive outcomes are related to consumption of the fruit itself.  

This is not an affirmation of any type of supplementation.  If you see an advertisement for a vitamin or food product which states that 'studies show flavanoids reduce stroke risk' - it does NOT mean that the product they are trying to sell you will do anything for your health.  The study was NOT about pills or extracted chemicals.  

Also - the scientists suggest that we avoid juices because of the high sugar content and the risk of diabetes associated with them.

The point is that something about the chemical properties of vitamin C in the actual fruits is health promoting.  No other association should be made.

Good news -  oranges are far cheaper than juices or supplements - especially if you have an orange or grapefruit tree in your backyard!

(note about strokes - there are two types, one occurs when a clot forms and stops oxygen flow the other is when there is bleeding or hemorrhaging - from a blood vessel.  The results of this study were about clot related strokes)

Placebo Effect is NOT Harmless

A placebo, by its very nature, is supposed to be a non substance, a non issue, a non treatment.  It is something given to people so they think they are getting a special program or medication.  This is not necessarily to trick them into being well, but for scientists to trick themselves.  One group gets the real thing and the other gets 'no thing' and researchers collect information on the two groups sometime later.  Next, a person who has no idea which person got the real thing analyzes the data to see if the two groups have the same outcome - i.e score on a test, weight or change in health condition.  The best studies are double blind - no one(participant or scientist) knows who got the real thing until the end.  
The placebo effect is when someone gets better without the treatment.  It should be harmless right?  Even a good thing - you got nothing and yet you are well - YIPPEE.

That is not the case with the story aired on 60 Minutes this past Sunday.  It regards the lack of effectiveness of antidepressant medications.  The people may be improving but NOT because of the pills.  Sort of a reverse placebo effect, except the pills are, in many instances, toxic.

Nearly 11% of Americans age 12 and up take antidepressant medication and maybe half of them take them without just cause.  See the National Center for Health Statistics report here.  Some antidepressant medications have the potential to cause metabolic dysfunction and increase the risk for diabetes.  AND - the pills cost a lot of money in copays and for insurance companies as well as Medicaid and Medicare.   They are not harmless or free.

Watch the story below or on CBS, or read it here..  You decide, is the antidepressant placebo effect something to address?  Is there a reason to take some people off the pills?  Whatever your thoughts, remember that medications should always be discussed with a physician - before starting and or stopping.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What is the diet myth?

If you check back to these past posts, you will see that we began this discussion some time ago - before the popular press started picking out pieces of the research for its headlines.
The original intent for this blog had been and still is to keep a  watch on those headlines and provide better interpretations of research - for your personal consideration.
To paraphrase the work of both Kevin Hall and Boyd Swinburn - the diet advice is misleading and incorrect because it does not consider the implication of weight LOSS.  People are hearing that diets don't work because metabolism changes when people diet - but do you know WHY it changes?  It changes because you burn less calories when you weigh less.  It is a good thing. 
People who have weight loss goals  should keep this in mind (note: I do believe in weight loss - but, I don't endorse "diets" the way people usually refer to them)
The recent studies suggest that our expectations be tempered by these three things:
1) time frame
2) amount of the change(lifestyle)
3) new steady state weight

Dr. Hall explains that half ones goal weight may be lost in the first year but it takes two more years to lose the other half.  It is not a fast process, it is a myth to think so.  Accepting this is important if you don't want to sabotage yourself.  In regards to the second factor, it might be helpful to cut 200 calories instead of 100 or to cut 100 for one year and than an additional 100 the next (individual advice cannot be provided here).  It is wise to add some exercise into the equation for a gazillion reasons.
When you reach your goal - understand that this new body has a new metabolism - you didn't damage your metabolism - you do not have some predetermined set weight that you are destined to return to - you have a NEW body - treat it right and don't give it more food than it needs!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sink or Swim

I want to share with you something I read in an article by Nancy Krieger titled, Theories for Social Epidemiology in the 21st century: an eco-social perspective.  It is published in the International Journal of Epidemiology. 
(2002: 30:668-667).

I will just quote from the article and leave you to your own thoughts:
...the study of why some people swim well and others drown when tossed into a river displaces study of who is tossing whom into the current - and what else might be in the water. (p670)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Is Weight Training Supposed to Get Easier?

One of the professors in my department (Public Health) works out in the Student Rec Center like I do.  It should just be called the Rec Center because it is there for all of us.  Anyways, his research and work regards work site wellness programs.  Individual level factors that can improve health or increase risk of disease are his focus. 
I have run into him in the gym the last couple of Mondays.  Today as he was coming back into the academic building, he said, "I thought these workouts were supposed to get easier." To which I replied, "No, they aren't.  If they get easy it means you're doing it wrong."  He laughed and said, "That's exactly right."  Because it was - but I knew what he really meant and he knew what I meant(gym rats think alike). 
I did follow up my comment by mentioning some friends or relatives that I have who don't understand (or choose to ignore)that the weight training piece of their workout needs to be periodically revised.  

But put that aside a minute. I want to break this 'easier' concept into two parts.

There is a physical and a psychological component to weight training.  I make this distinction because I don't want anyone who is considering starting to exercise or who is new to exercise to abandon all hope and run back to the couch.
Psychologically it DOES get easier.  It becomes a routine with benefits.  Emotional well being, strength, conditioning and better metabolism are a few of the pay offs.

As people who are new to exercise and many older exercisers are uncomfortable with the progressive nature of weight training - i.e. adding reps, weights and new routines, I offer this link to a CDC page which offers suggestions on how to keep those workouts working for you.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Odds and Ends - outsourced?

The title is in reference to my taking some shortcuts this week by linking a couple of the blurbs to outside sources - instead of summarizing the content myself....

Starch is Starch - There is a commercial for the non-butter spread, "I can't believe it's not butter," that shows a pat of the spread melting or being spread over different food items.  I believe they are; in order, potatoes, corn, peas and bread.  I shake my head every time I see this commercial.  You may be saving some calories with the spread, but the foods that are shown are the starchy ones that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest we limit.
Ease into Changes - I came across this article last night. A very good point is made by the writer and it regards the mistake of living one way all your life and then suddenly trying to live a completely different way in retirement.  Instead, he suggests, we start changing our lives now so that how we live will work for us no matter our age or income. It is a great read. He also talks about families living together again!
Sugar - Several public health experts and organizations have made a case for regulating sugar.  This regulation could be through taxes, price differentials, bans on soda (not selling it in schools, worksites or with food stamps, for example).  I think that sugar is causing damage similar to that of tobacco and using taxes to reduce consumption makes sense.  The issue was discussed on Science Friday this week.  The scientist who is interviewed on this program, Dr. Lustig, was mentioned in a recent Odds and Ends post.  Hearing him speak about the research, and how sugar causes us problems is quite informative.  Here is the link.
It's always about what you eat - The Harvard School of Public Health released its latest newsletter this week.  One of the articles regards diet and surgery outcomes.  IF you are or someone you love is going to be operated on anytime soon you may be interested in this article.  You also may just be curious.  You can read it here.
Dietary Supplements - Lastly, for my favorite subject - dietary supplements, aka vitamins and minerals from a bottle.  The folks at MedScape recently included several articles and commentaries regarding supplements and health.  The bottom line was that physicians need to talk to their patients about NOT taking most of the pills that people think they should take.  I hope this article is accessible to you because it is another must read (I didn't log out of my account, so give it a try).  Remember, supplements more often than not, give you no benefit at all (beyond high dollar urine) and sometimes cause you harm. 

The Misleading Skinny Cocktail

I went to a small get together at a classmate's home this evening.  She wanted to gather us together outside of the university to enjoy each other and to see the first season of the PBS show Downton Abbey.  She enticed us with healthy foods and Skinny Margaritas.  Some interesting things about this cocktail brand.  1)I think there is a lawsuit out because of false advertising - but it isn't really false.  It says All Natural on the label and as you know by now, that really means nothing.  So, I am not concerned with that. 
2) I am concerned with the hype about the drink mix being low calorie. You see - it is a mix - a cocktail in a bottle. The label serving size is 1.5 ounces.  That amount of drink (basically a shot glass full) contains just under 40 calories.  Okay - YES - 40 is much less than the 100 calories in 1.5 ounces of liquor - however, it is not pure liquor.  A 4 ounce serving of the cocktail would have a 100 calories.  I noticed my friends' glasses had 6- 8 ounces each.  They may have had 12 to 16 (ounces) total.  A 4 ounce glass of wine also has 100 calories.  A 12 ounce light beer has 100 calories.  A shot of whisky/liquor adds 100 calories to a calorie free 12 ounce soda  - now THAT is a skinny drink.

But I did bring along a snack tray - happy to have a chance to use my beautiful tulip platter.  A gift from my sister.

chocolate cake squares, vegetarian egg rolls, hummus and pepper slices

Friday, February 17, 2012


I attended a meeting today - a colloquium - where health science researchers came together to share what they are currently studying in an effort to pool resources (experience, expertise, funding, etc).  
One of the guests was a PhD psychologist who works on individual level programs or research.  One of her grant funded projects gave me a "-huh-" moment.  
It does make sense for someone to look into this matter and several of the women in my own family would be great people to study.  Okay - I am going to tell you....
The researcher is looking into Post Traumatic Growth.  Yes you caught that correctly.  Not the disorder that sometimes occurs after people experience extreme duress (e.g, battle, life threatening conditions and loss)- not PTSD - post traumatic stress disorder - but PT - GROWTH.  
Some people experience a trauma and come out of it with better emotional stability, sense of purpose, relationships, engagement, health, quality of life etc.  IF researchers knew what it was about THOSE people, maybe they could use the knowledge to help more people come out on the positive side of a negative experience.
The woman I met today (from WFU - SOM)  is working specifically with breast cancer patients/survivors. When she said this, I had NO doubt that she was on to something because my sister emerged from a breast cancer crisis and absolutely re-embraced life and made positive changes.
I, having some trauma related to relationships, also turned my life around for the positive and my mother, widowed suddenly in her late years, found independence, health and an active lifestyle that had in many ways eluded her before her great loss.
The field of post traumatic growth research is definitely something to keep an eye on.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Pictures Speak Volumes of Volume

I owe my friend and blog reader Jessica a big thank you for tonight's post and picture.  She sent this to me today and I was giddy with excitement.  It is a perfect example of what I am trying to promote - getting more food per calorie - nutrient density over caloric density or Low Energy Density - LED.
Three things to say about the photo.
1) The stomach on the right is full of veggies that have NOT been cooked in oil, fat or butter.
2) A person who has had WLS (weight loss surgery - like gastric bypass/stapling/banding) cannot choose to eat like stomach 3 but CAN eat similar to stomach one, on the left.  I find this to be a fundamental problem with the procedure because WLS in  NO way forces a person to cut calories.  It only prevents them from eating a lot of volume at one time.
3) I just posted a new volumetrics dinner example to my You Tube channel tonight.

Without further Ado - Let The Stomachs Speak for Themselves... 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Does Exercise Make You SicK?

If yes? When?  What is the strength of the evidence?  What mechanisms are involved (how does it make you sick)?  What are the key points and what does it mean for me?  Those are a few questions that came to my mind when I saw an article regarding immune functioning in elite athletes.  The article, in ACSM's Certified News 2011(21:4) and written by Eric Christensen, provided the answers for some of those questions.  I will share this with you now.

There is strong evidence to support the benefits of daily exercise.  There is evidence that exercise improves the immune system.  One way that it does this is by reducing blood levels of cortisol.  Cortisol is a stress hormone and it suppresses the body's immune system.  As I learned in the article, the immune system has two parts - the innate and the adaptive.  The innate responds to new germs or foreign bodies, while the adaptive system has learned to recognize repeat threats and can attack them in fewer steps, so to speak.
This article and my post, refer to exercise and the innate immune system. That being said, I just had a thought - I am supposed to be keeping these posts simple.  Therefore, you have to trust that I did due diligence in my preparation while I try to cut to the chase.

The measure of sickness in the studies that were reviewed for the article is URIs - or upper respiratory tract infections (colds, sinus congestion, coughing, low fevers).  
Elite athletes do have higher rates* of URI than non athletes, but and this is a big but, they are also in situations where germs are more likely to be in the air (locker rooms, buses, etc).
Researchers found that the immune system which is usually improved from exercise, becomes depressed after high intensity and duration of exercise (but not necessarily the frequency of exercise).  [the chemical markers that change in the athletes are ones associated with fighting disease, like neutrophils, lymphocytes, etc.  The athlete has LESS of them in their blood stream immediately after the prolonged bout of exercise]
The criteria seems to include 1) 90 minutes of continuous exercise that is 2) moderate to high in intensity (competitive cycling, swimming, running) and that 3) occurs without fueling or eating. 
In a study of runners, it was found that those with faster paces, i.e sub 8 min miles, who ran 45 or more miles a week, were more at risk.  (I can assure you that I do not come close to either of those markers)
The studies that were used to assess this issue did not have verification* of URIs.  It is said that some of the symptoms are similar to those experienced from over training.  Thus a person in a study could report having an URI and the scientist 1) takes that as true and 2) equates it with level of activity, but the person may not have had an URI. 
The above was two caveats rolled into one.  The athlete may not be sick and athletes may not have as high a rate of URIs as has been reported because we do not know for sure that they had an URI.

Either way - for most of us - the problem is getting sick from too little working out not too much.  Also - the diseases associated with lack of physical activity can be much more serious than a head cold.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cutting Calories

Drink one glass of wine instead of two – and or – check the size of that glass

Use diet sodas or non calorie mixers if you drink alcohol (liquor)  Liquor has about 100 calories for every 1.5 ounces.

Still – if you drink two or three sodas a day or a week now, just cut that in half for now.

Do not cook with oil or butter (if you must add it after you cook, each teaspoon contains 40 calories)  (MEASURE!)

Also – use apple sauce for the oil/fat in your baking – at least some of the time.

IF using milk for something, choose skim.  Almond milk is usually very low in calories.

Reduced fat cheeses and the light laughing cow cheeses will save you plenty of cals (but watch for sodium content) as will sugar free no fat yogurts and ice creams.

Switch out your usual crackers for WASA ones with 20 cals per slice.

However much bread you eat now, eat half of that.

Read food labels across products, if you start buying the ones with just ten or twenty calories less – the overall reduction will add up, so to speak.

Go for small to medium sized fruits, eat bananas, rice, pasta, peas, corn and similarly starchy foods sparingly.

Do not drink your food.  When you puree things you increase the caloric density.  This goes for smoothies and juices, even the 100% kind.

Avoid sports drinks and protein bars.  You do not need them (unless you are an elite athlete and only then if your coach told you so.  Similarly if you have received personal medical advice in this regard)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Eat Less Remember More

To be clear - eating less is a necessary step for people who are eating too much (not those who are not).  This does involve somewhere near 75% of adults in the US and nearly that many adults in Mexico, the UK and Australia.

The press release that I am going to share in a moment will give you only the barest details on a research study that involved older persons living in Minnesota - you may or may not be similar to the people in the study.  All I know for now is that the people were between the ages of 70 and 89 when the study started and were not then diagnosed with dementia.  

The study includes real numbers and it appears that the magic one is 2143 - or we can just round that down to 2100 calories a day. Persons in the study who ate upwards of 2100 calories a day were more likely to have cognitive decline - memory loss that may or may not lead to dementia-than those who ate less.

If you were keeping up with me over the summer, you might have read some of my posts that decried the use of a general label recommendation that suggested we adults needed 2000 or 2500 calories a day.  

This research adds to the evidence that calories count and we better count them before we forget how.
Here is the press release from the American Academy of Neurology (neurologists study the nervous system which includes the brain).

I think I will use tomorrow's post to offer hints on ways to easily cut 200 calories from a day.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Odds and Ends

Salt - There was news out this week that Americans are consuming an average of 3300 mg of sodium a day which is twice what is recommended.  Salt and sodium - for the purposes of limiting intake- are the same thing.  The food you purchase may say low salt or low sodium (note that 'reduced sodium' does not mean LOW - it means less than the regular version and could still be high). Labels may list sodium mg on the nutrition fact panel.  The biggest source of all this salt is processed foods, including; lunch meat, cheese, soups, pasta, chicken and breads.  In fact, 44% of our extra salt comes from only 10 foods.  According to the CDC, 90% of us are getting too much salt and in population studies, the more salt consumed the higher the rates of hypertension or high blood pressure.  Read more about the sources of this salt in the February 2012 Vital Statistics Report from the CDC.
Ensure - Perhaps you have seen the commercial for the new Ensure "flavor" - muscle something or another.  This is (once again) an example of misrepresentation of science or clinical studies.  There is no proof that this product will strengthen your muscles.  There is an ingredient in the drink that may have done so in some condition or context (like a lab and maybe with animals and not people even).  This product is not your way to bigger or stronger muscles.  The commercial does have one thing right - if you do not exercise you will lose some muscular functioning as you age.

Pets - A few days ago I made note of the incomprehensible notion of overweight/obese children and soldiers. I later heard that we had reached another milestone in the USA - 50% of our dogs are considered obese.  (I wonder how THAT is measured.  Do they have doggie BMIs?) Dogs are active by nature - the only explanation that makes sense - high fat, high calorie people food in their bowls.
Push - Women 'choosing' to have c sections instead of giving birth naturally is not new. It was mentioned in the news and in this blog some time ago.  However, the risk to the baby is now becoming apparent. It is a dangerous habit for a society to get into - I hear it is called "Too posh to push."  Problem is, those lazy Mom's are putting the infant at risk.  Read more from the Mayo Clinic. [this is only in reference to cesarean sections by choice, btw - not medical need]
Medifast - AAACK - Can I express my discontent for diet programs any more often or emphatically?  Blek.  Plans that require you to eat packaged foods are just not appropriate - they are not "real life."  Anyways, the commercial for Medifast has an actress who expresses her excitement for the program.  She exclaims that when she finally  got down to  a size 10 after x amount of years, she cried.  Well - you know I talk back to these ads... guess what I said to this one?  "You're gonna cry harder when you realize that 10 is really a 14."

Feel Good.

Yes.  That is what your English teacher would describe as a command statement.  I am telling you to "feel good."  It is what you should demand of yourself.

My friends, coworkers and now classmates, know me as the great reframer, positive thinker and sometimes motivator.  For instance, one of my friends recently told me that she and another friend had recalled one of my sayings, a Deirdre-ism she called it.  "You can do anything for ten minutes that you couldn't do forever."  She said five - but I always say ten.  (I think she was trying to cheat!)  That little declaration is intended to get people (myself included) going on a task that might seem arduous.  The ten minute rule is for exercise.  If at the end of the day or whenever your exercise is 'scheduled,' you really feel like plopping on the couch, the ten minute rule is for you. Instead of succumbing to the negative pull,  go forward with whatever you had originally planned, because you DID plan something, and if you still feel like crap after ten minutes, okay you can quit.
I also use the "you can do anything for a little while that you couldn't do forever rule" for harder things, like grad school.  I can do anything for 3 years than I couldn't do for ten, etc.  And scary things, like getting my blood drawn, or for some, riding on a plane.  These are hard things that are temporary.

Today, another friend (funny thing is that they are both named Paula :)) told me that I had a special ringtone song on her phone. When I call her, instead of a ringing sound, she gets, James Brown -too funny- singing, "I FEEL GOOD."  Because she knows that  when she feels bad I am going to tell her to convince herself that she doesn't.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The following statement was made on NPR Morning Edition Yesterday and the transcript is available here.
About a quarter of entry-level candidates for the military are too overweight to serve or to make it through their first enlistment, according to the Pentagon. And the Defense Department spends $1.1 billion a year on medical care related to excess weight and obesity.
There are two things that I just can't seem to wrap my mind around.  Infants and toddlers who have weight problems and troops that are overweight or obese.  This is further evidence that something is wrong on a population or systems level.  Yes - at the end of any given day - the individual chooses the food that goes into their mouth, but what are they choosing from?  Our foods are over sized, over processed and calorically dense (with sat fats and sugar).  They are mass produced, sold cheap and mercilessly marketed to children and others. We need a strategy that changes the food availability so that the individual strategies we try, like health promotion and eduction will actually have a chance of making a difference.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Why Weight Train?

This past Monday I was standing outside the classroom with my peers during a short break.  I was telling them that I had a meeting after this class, before my next class at 1 pm  which would last until my last class at 4pm.  In other words, I was not going to have the one hour 12 -1 window to get in my weight training during the day.  I would have to go at the end of the day.
One of the women, who is in a different program (human development and family studies) than I (public health) said and asked, "You lift weights?"  "Why would you do that?"
 It was a serious question.  She is a young woman, in her mid to late 20s and she was raised in another country but I do not know much about the culture there.  I imagined that she asked me those questions because her country does not make as big a deal about health promotion and physical activity as some countries do, but I do not know that for sure.  I do know that she sounded genuinely surprised.

My quick list of reasons was:
to be stronger
to prevent osteoporisis
to improve balance
to increase the chance of healthy active aging

And one of my friends added:
to increase muscle mass which is more metabolically active than fat mass(well, I am not sure that is how she said it, but you get the idea - burn more calories)

This all reminds me that I do have a website which, though woefully in need of an update, has some good fitness information.  It has a section on strength training that you might find helpful.   You can visit it here.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Self Regulation

Professor and Psychologist, Albert Bandura is credited with identifying one of the most used theories to explain and  predict behavior.  It was once known as Social Learning Theory - as its roots are in how people learn or adapt new behaviors, but it is now called Social Cognitive Theory - perhaps to capture the thinking part that goes into our learning.
There are nine or more concepts in his theory and they fall under five categories.  One of the concepts is self regulation and within it are six steps.  I am going to tell you what they are and you can see if you are using any of them.  
The reasons you might use self regulation include: to limit sitting, increase physical activity, moderate alcohol or sugar or saturated fat intake.... etc.

Here they are:
self monitoring -  a systematic way of watching what you are doing, like keeping a food diary or log
goal setting -  seems self explanatory but remember that goals have to be measurable, doable, quantifiable  and time sensitive (I will walk 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week, starting 2-11-2012 and I will review my progress every Sunday and also once a month)
feedback - perhaps a friend or wellness coach will tell you how it seems you are doing (this is because you have specifically asked them for their input which is different then someone just pointing out your failures!)
self reward - please don't let that be food (note - binging one day a week is NOT okay if you limit the other days, that has been scientifically falsified!)
self-instruction - harder to explain, but it is rather like talking yourself through something - maybe reading a label and thinking about the amount of salt or sodium that is in the package and then thinking about how much salt you should have in a day.
social support - let people know what you are doing and maybe they will be encouraging (for instance, they won't suggest going out for drinks when it is your time to go to the gym - or they will tell you how much sat fat is in the dish they brought to the party, etc)

There are many webpages and resources that discuss this theory in its entirety, but I am afraid I might inadvertently send you to a bad website, so instead, here is a link to a reputable document that contains an overview of many theories of behavior  - not just those at the individual, interpersonal level.  The monograph is a product of the National Cancer Institute.  SCT is discussed in part 2, but there is a table of contents so you can go directly to it if you like.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Powerlessness of Obesity "Treatment"

I would like you to take a look at this two-page editorial which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine - NEJM - in 2009.  It is in response to a research study, which we probably discussed at some point, which reviewed the impact of different macro nutrient combinations on weight loss in  a reduced calorie situation. 
I have always contented and made arguments regarding, the futility of diets.
Here are two specific points in the article by Dr. Martijn Katan that I want to bring to your attention:
Evidently, individual treatment is powerless against an environment that offers so many high-calorie foods and labor-saving devices (p924)
 ...we may need a new approach to preventing and to treating obesity and it must be a total-environment approach that involves and activates entire neighborhoods and communities. ... because the only effective alternative that we have at present for halting the obesity epidemic is large-scale gastric surgery(p924)   (YIKES!!)
 In the article, Dr. Katan gives an example of an intervention in France where one of the strategies used was "cooking workshops."  To which I say, "Volumetrics anyone?"  My You Tube channel is ready to hit the road :)

Referenced Editorial by:
Martijn B. Katan, Ph.D.
Published here:
N Engl J Med 2009; 360:923-925
 February 26, 2009

Monday, February 6, 2012

Time to Refocus the Koman Efforts

I do not have a source to cite for these comments or ideas but I heard them on a morning news show on my local NPR station.  They regarded breast cancer funding.
The Susan G Koman "for the cure", a  behemoth in breast cancer research, has, through its funding, generated improvements in treatment of breast cancer.  There has been an increase in earlier detection and a decrease in mortality, as well.
Today, however, it was noted that the organization has not put its might behind prevention efforts and that it may be time for this shift.  Certainly, it is my preference to prevent disease rather than treat it or help people to live with it.
The speaker then suggested that this shift to prevention  - reducing the risk that is associated with lifestyle factors - will require the foundation/organization to reconsider some of its relationships and sponsors.  The one relationship mentioned today was KFC - the fast food fried chicken restaurant - implying of course, that eating the food that is sold by this sponsor is one of the factors that can increase the risk for breast cancer.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Odds and Ends

Mummy Tales - The discovery of prostate cancer in a 2200 year old mummy challenges the lifestyle link for prostate cancer.  Well, we know the mummy wasn't eating the high fat, sugar, calorie Western diet, but we don't know much else. According to the most recent data from the American Cancer Society, there will be about 241,740 new prostate cancer cases this year (USA) and 28,170 deaths.  Interestingly, it is the biggest cancer type for males, with 29% of all cancer diagnosis for men being of the prostate - with lung cancer second at 14%.  HOWEVER, among those types, there is only 9% of death from prostate and 29% death from lung.

NSLP - As I listened to a reporter interviewing some middle/high school students regarding changes to their school lunches, I felt growing frustration.  The students were unhappy and I contribute this displeasure not with a reduction in fat, sugar and calories but with what was actually served that day.  It was some crazy recipe that the children were not used to.  Healthy is not tasteless and tasty - low calorie does not have to equal low volume.  GRRRR: The policy is sound, needed, and health promoting but people can implement it stupidly.

ZAP Baby Preventer - Sure wish I had heard more details. All I have is that applying some amount of electric shock to the testes effects the sperm so that it isn't motile or it dies or something.  This was touted as a possible male birth control method.  I am wondering who in the world was in this experiment.  I bet it was a male animal of non human origin.

Sugar Policy- I cannot do justice to this commentary published in the journal Nature and I am not sure this link to the full article will work for you.  A link is available if you access to a library - journal access. But importantly, from the article by Dr. Robert Lustig, fructose and added sugars made from it (including HFCS and sucrose), DO change metabolic functioning when over consumed. Hence, excessive sugar intake, can lead to hypertension, insulin resistance, impaired aging, some cancers, liver problems and obesity.  Noted in the article, 20% of obese persons do not have metabolic dysfunction and do not have a shortened lifespan.  OF course, what I take from that is that 80% of obese people DO have those problems. However, 40% of normal weight persons also have problems with these metabolic related illnesses (we don't know anything else about them - i.e. do they exercise? is it genetic?).  As I have said though, you can eat crap and not be fat but that does not mean you will be healthy - so there you go.  I also need to know what the researchers are quantifying "excessive" to mean.  I hope you can get to the article and see the world map they have - it shows the average amount of calories per day of added sugar that is consumed per person by country.  The USA is upwards of 600 cals a day in added sugar... Australia and Russia come next.

Belt too Tight? - No worries.  I saw a commercial today for this handy gadget that allows you to easily add another hole at the end of your belt.  Funny because to sell a hole puncher, it would have made just as much sense to ask, "Belt too loose?"  Guess that doesn't happen as often.  BUT -if your belt IS too tight - I suggest some lifestyle changes, not a belt change.

Congratulations to the NY Giants - Super Bowl XLVI - (46) Champions - and my most favorite forever sports team

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Healthy Deluge

I lingered in the frozen food aisle during my weekly grocery trip today.
This is more an indication of my desire to put off writing the
evaluation summary proposal that is due Monday then any intent to buy a healthy choice entree.  Oh sweet procrastination.
Anyways - 
On the one hand, it is awesome that there are so many choices from so many manufacturers or brands in low calorie frozen meals, but on the other-not counting the lack of any standardized front of pack labeling system (wow - that was dizzying) - they are ALL processed.
I tend to cook most all of my own food unless I go out for dinner.  These items are too expensive and not as low calorie and "whole" as I can  make myself.

I will say  that the abundance of lower calorie meals is a good thing and it must certainly lower the price of the category in general.  If I were to buy frozen meals, there is no doubt that I would choose the lean cuisine, lean gourmet, smart ones, store brand or what have you - over any regular frozen dinner.