I said it before, I’ll say it again until I’m blue in the face…

New Years Resolutions are BOOBYTRAPPED. Especially ones involving dieting.

To wit:
OtagenkiDeck28

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Sometimes you learn something unexpected.

MargarineVsButter
(click photo to enlarge)

Take a close look at this picture. On the left is a margarine tub. Canola Harvest. From a Canadian company based in Alberta. On the right is a tub of whipped butter, Challenge brand, from a California dairy. Read the ingredients. Read the calorie count. Read the amount of sodium. Now, whipped butter includes a fair amount of air whipped into it to make it more spreadable and give it more volume. I grew up on margarine instead of stick butter, so something spreadable in a tub is sort of personal preference.

So yeah…science is now saying that the move away from butter to margarine was not a good idea, and that the hydrogenation process used to make liquid oils solid made something far worse than saturated fat for our cardiovascular health. The Canola/Palm oil margarine on the left does not have hydrogenated oils in it, but it has way more sodium than the butter, and more calories when you compare the volume of margarine vs. the volume of whipped butter. Yes, if you go by weight, the margarine serving is heavier than the whipped butter. But our eyes see volume instead of weight, so ultimately the amount that fills a tablespoon is the same. That tablespoon’s worth of the whipped butter looks, to our eyes, like that tablespoon of margarine.

And where the difference really becomes clear is when you look at the ingredients list on the margarine vs. the butter. Butter: cream and salt. Margarine: a long list of substances that are hard to pronounce and go halfway down the package. And then there’s also the fact that the butter came from a dairy in California, and the margarine is from thousands upon thousands of miles away. Local food is better than non-local food for the Planet.

Moderation is key in all things. You don’t want to be eating out of that tub of whipped butter with a spoon. But the occasional bit of it on a potato or on a whole wheat English Muffin is fine. And probably better for you than those mystery ingredients in that tub of margarine.

1200 Calories

Great stuff.

Sophieologie

I don’t know why “1200” managed to be the magic number of calories women should consume if they want to lose weight.

I don’t even know how I know of this number. Only that I know it, and my friends know it, and my mom knows it. Somehow, somewhere along the road, I was taught that if I want to have a flat stomach and tight tushy, I need to limit my calories to 1200 a day and do cardio. I don’t know how it got in to all of our collective brains, but somehow it did (if any ladies remember how or when they first heard the 1200-calorie rule-of-thumb for losing weight, please let me know via comment box).

What I do know is that 1200 is the general number of calories health professionals say women cannot drop below without suffering negative health consequences.

Interesting, isn’t it? 1200 calories. The…

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Survival of the Fittest: an Extreme Makeover for The Biggest Loser

ManTheMeasureOfAllThings

I began writing this on a bus headed for the Rose Bowl. Ali Vincent led a walk there, and I got up at absurd o’clock to get there in time for the event.

I have nothing but respect for Ms.  Vincent. After she won, she has been strongly advocating health over simple weight loss, although if pressed she’d likely not agree with my advocacy of health at every size, and my evidence-based opinion that fat and fit is possible.

One need only look at Sarah Robles. She’s big. But she’s also able to lift many times her weight and is currently the strongest woman in the Western Hemisphere.

Sarah Robles Hell Yeah!

As you can see, she does not exactly look like a supermodel. But would you say she’s unhealthy? An unhealthy person can’t compete as a world-class weightlifter. And yet, one of Sarah’s teammates in 2012, Holly Mangold, is headed for The Biggest Loser this year. The reason she wasn’t competing in the Pan Ams this year was because she was prepping for the show.

Scale weight is not a great gauge of overall health. It is notoriously bad for differentiating the athletic and massive from the obese. Michael Jordan in his prime had a BMI that put him in the obese category. And there are lots of people who are ideal weight and sickly. There are also the “skinny fat,” people who weigh normal on a scale, but have a high percentage of body fat and a goodly amount of visceral fat.

So why not create a competition that uses several metrics to judge the health and fitness of the contestants? Not just scale weight, but blood pressure, metabolic blood panel, fat to lean ratio, and performance tests like how fast you travel a mile, be it walking or running, how much weight can you deadlift, and so on. It would be rigorously monitored by doctors, exercise physiologists and physical therapists.

TankOfTruth

It would be visual, too: the best way to find out body fat percentage is an underwater weighing. Imagine how that would look on screen! The tank of truth. The winner of this contest would be the most improved over the most metrics. You’d probably want to weight (no pun intended) some of those metrics a bit: someone reversing their type 2 diabetes would be a more impressive feat than someone who can box jump higher than the rest, or had lost the most scale weight. A broader set of metrics would mean more size diversity on the show. You might see a big person win this contest. It would be a very important message to send to people: fat does not necessarily equal unfit.

I’m giving you a gift, TV industry. Call this new competition Survival of the Fittest. I guarantee it will be a hit.

Applying SCIENCE to the problem.

SCIENCE! What causes obesity…is it a simple matter of calories in, calories out, or is it what we eat rather than how much we eat?

Scientists are finally going to do some serious study on the matter. I am looking forward to what comes of this experiment. However, don’t hold your breath waiting for it…the study is estimated to finish in 5 years.

Read about it here:
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=what-makes-you-fat-too-many-calories-or-the-wrong-carbohydrates

Emphasis and de-emphasis

image

OK, I have been thinking about a whole new way of looking at food. Instead of saying “I can’t eat this,” or that I’ve given up a food or a category of foods, I am going to say “I have de-emphasized this food and I will emphasize other foods in what I eat on a day-to-day basis.”

For example, instead of saying “I have given up dairy,” it would be more like, “I have de-emphasized dairy in favor of non-dairy sources of calcium.” Yes it’s a semantic game. But semantics are important: that’s how we program ourselves mentally.

It means complete liberation from the idea of “forbidden foods.” The legends of Adam and Eve, and of Pandora, all have to do with “the one forbidden thing” that creates an uncontrollable urge to indulge in that same “one forbidden thing.” In terms of healthy eating, forbidden foods set us up for binging on those forbidden foods.

Some people can do the diet game. Some people do it very well, Ali Vincent is a good example. However, there are a lot of people who cannot. I will venture to say that most people do not have the mental makeup to diet healthily. For most people, it becomes a cycle of going on a diet, falling off the wagon, and then getting back on after a period of self-recrimination. For some, it means adopting unhealthy behaviors, my mom being one of those.

So yeah, instead of being on that particular merry go round, I will simply say that there are no forbidden foods for me, that I will be emphasizing certain foods in my daily intake, and de-emphasizing others. I will also be paying closer attention to hunger and fullness signals from my body, eating only when hungry and no more than is necessary.

I already know from experience that there are foods that make me feel less than healthy after eating them. Those are foods from which I will stay away,  not because they are “forbidden” but because I know they have negative effects on my wellness. I know how I feel after eating pizza from most places. I know how I feel after eating one of those greasy, butter-drenched pretzels from the mall.

So yeah, that’s where I’m at regarding food philosophy. But how does that fit in with that picture of my wrist with my Fitbit Flex? OK, second subject. I have pretty much figured out that my activity measurement device of choice is the Flex.

I have tried standard and motion- sensing pedometers in the past. I have tried GPS units, both on my mobile phone and a wristwatch unit. But nothing compares to the simplicity and relative accuracy of Fitbit in general and Flex in particular.

Simplicity: it’s on your non-dominant wrist all the time. I only take it off when showering, but that’s unnecessary caution. Theoretically you can swim with it on.

Relative accuracy: it’s accurate enough, although not as accurate as my Garmin. It is also accurate in far more places than any GPS that you can get. GPS requires being out of doors. Fitbit keeps measuring activity indoors and out. It doesn’t pick up everything you do, which is a double-edged sword. This means that it’s good at rejecting things like typing on a computer, but it’s not good at measuring walking in place or on a rebounder.

So yeah, Fitbit Flex is a bit more expensive than a pedometer or the GPS that comes with your phone, but it’s worth it. And it is certainly less expensive than most wrist GPS units. The little Garmin I have is about the same price. However, it’s worth it.