Saturday, January 31, 2015

Walk it Off!

The benefits of exercise can't be overstated, though not for the reasons you might expect. Too often exercise, or lack thereof, is blamed for our obesity epidemic. "Those Americans, so fat--all they do is sit around all day!" or words to that effect. So, can exercise fix the problem?

Let's imagine we have just eaten a Snickers bar (remember, this is for science).

Okay, now let's imagine we are letting ourselves off the hook for this indulgence, because, after all, we are going to the gym later, aren't we? Let's take a look at our favorite calorie counting website to see just how much exercise it'll take to burn that sucker off:
That's right. It'll take you 69 minutes of walking, 29 minutes of jogging, 21 minutes of swimming or 38 minutes of riding a bike to make those Snickers calories disappear. That's a lot of time spent on exercise, isn't it? Are you sure you've got that kind of time, or anywhere close to that amount of physical endurance? A few more bad choices like that and you might as well start training for the Olympics, because that's what it'll take to work it off.

So, just like the only way to win "War Games" is to never play at all, the only way to "win" the calorie fight is to never put certain kinds of calories in your body in the first place--not trying to eliminate them with exercise after the fact.

However, I'm not suggesting not to exercise; far from it. We need physical movement to keep our organs functioning correctly, to keep our muscles limber, and to keep our bones strong. It's not just for our physical selves, though. Our mood, studies show, is also positively affected by exercise. 

This recent study shows that middle-aged women in Australia suffering from depression had their condition improved by regular sessions of exercise. It's a really good article, and an eye-opening study--so be sure to follow that link! An excerpt:
Women who averaged 150 minutes of moderate exercise (golf, tennis, aerobics classes, swimming, or line-dancing) or 200 minutes of walking every week had more energy, socialized more, felt better emotionally, and weren't as limited by their depression when researchers followed up after three years...They also had less pain and did better physically, although the psychological benefit was greater.
With depression so prevalent, "there is an urgent need" to identify treatments, including non-medical options that people can do themselves, said Kristiann Heesch, who led the study.
I'm willing to bet that those outcomes would be the same for anyone, not just depressed Aussie gals. So whether or not you belong to a gym, help yourself make it through these long, miserable winter months by finding someplace safe and warm to walk. Our local mall opens a few hours before their stores and many people take advantage of that to do a few circuits. Be sure to check and see if there's an option like that near you.

Okay, maybe not THAT mall...

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Menu Planner: Daily Schedule

As previously posted, keeping a food diary is essential to weight management. Using the menu planner sample, you can track what you eat for all your meals and snacks. But what's a good schedule to be on to space your meals and snacks out evenly? The last thing you want to do is get hungry, and also, you want to ensure that you get the nutrients and calories you need every day.

I found this schedule on the Internets, and it's great. It's actually written for avoiding fatigue associated with menopause, but it works just as well for dieting.

No, this is not the whole schedule. You have to click on the link!
It focuses on all the things you should be doing for health, regardless of weight loss: drinking a lot of water, incorporating fiber and protein into meals and snacks, making time for exercise, and, finally, bedding down to a restful sleep. Good stuff. One word of caution: this appears to be from a British site, so you'll be having lunch at 13:00, your next snack at 15:00, and etc. Yeah, I thought I was hallucinating when I noticed that, too. So, fyi, 13:00 is 1 pm, 15:00 is 3 pm, and so forth.  Click here, to go to the wiki for converting those confusing clusters of numbers--what we here in America call "military time" and the rest of the planet calls the 24-hr clock--to simple am and pm.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Menu Planner

It's hard to lose weight, and maybe even harder to keep it off once you've lost it. Previously, we posted this article interviewing experts on how it's done.

One of the most common strategies used by people was to keep a food journal: to write down everything they ate, and its calories, all day, every day. Sounds like a pain, I know, but what it shows, I think, is that weight management takes more self-discipline and determination than just saying no to donuts...

I found this menu planner on the Internets a while back, and, even though it doesn't supply a lot of writing space, it is a great place to start in designing your own menu planner. I liked that it had a grocery shopping list on the side, to help me plan my meals!

not enough space! great place to start!

Okay! You've got your planner--what to do next??

Go to and type in your age, your current weight, and your goal weight. It will tell you how many calories you can have each day to meet your goal--and it can even tell you how many calories specific grocery and restaurant items have!

Now you are all set to start keeping those New Year's Resolutions, or just fitting into that dress!

Just remember to:

Monday, January 26, 2015

Stuff to Stop Eating Right Now

The word "dangerous" isn't one we would normally associate with ramen noodles, or any of the other noodley bowls of comfort in cups. But researchers have discovered that there is a definite link between consumption of this bargain basement delicacy and risk of developing cardiometabolic syndrome -- what we laymen call heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, and, of course, obesity.

This article from explains the findings of a study conducted in South Korea, where people have experienced significant increases recently in the diseases we normally associate with a Western diet (see above).
Dr. Shin, who led the study on behalf of the Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital (BHVH), found that eating instant noodles two or more times a week was associated with cardiometabolic syndrome, which raises a person's likelihood of developing heart disease and other conditions, such as diabetes and stroke.
Anyone trying to loose weight and/or eat healthy knows that a bowl of noodles is a not on the menu--it contains no fiber, no protein, no nutrition, you might as well eat the container, for all the good it's doing you. And speaking of the container ...
Another potential factor in the gender difference is a chemical called bisphenol A (BPA), which is used for packaging the noodles in Styrofoam containers. Studies have shown that BPA interferes with the way hormones send messages through the body, specifically estrogen.
That's right. The study showed that the potential for harm was greater in women,  possibly because of biological  differences between the genders.

See this? Never eat this.
This either.

Say Cheerio to British Chocolate

“Things in the world are bad enough as it is, and now you’re going to take away our chocolate?”
This is a quote from Ms. Nickey Perry, a British ex-pat in NYC who owns Tea and Sympathy, a tea shop and restaurant, who will now no longer be able to provide her clientele with chocolate yummys from Dear Olde Englande. It seems Hershey Co. has won a long battle to keep competing British chocolate out of the US.

Which you can read about here, but for me, there's a different takeaway than the mere curiosities of trademark infringement and import law.

Fat vs. Sugar

We often scratch our heads as to why Americans are the fattest people on earth. Except it's not really a mystery, when you are shown again and again how our food is engineered different than other countries, for reasons that have nothing to do with nutrition.

From the article (emphasis mine):

Chocolate in Britain has a higher fat content; the first ingredient listed on a British Cadbury’s Dairy Milk (plain milk chocolate) is milk. In an American-made Cadbury’s bar, the first ingredient is sugar
American Cadbury bars also include PGPR and soy lecithin, both emulsifiers that reduce the viscosity of chocolate, giving it a longer shelf life. British Cadbury bars used vegetable fats and different emulsifiers. 

These are themes that will be highlighted again and again on this blog, that sugar is worse than fat, and that American diets are loaded with it--and now they've even managed to make candy worse than it could be!

We'll let the Dowager Countess have the last word:

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Amazing Breakfast Thing!

Breakfast is not called the most important meal of the day for nothing.  It sets your metabolism on the right track, and if you eat the right thing, you will not find yourself hungry 20 minutes later! So what DOES constitute a healthy breakfast? According to Dr. Robert Lustig in his book "Fat Chance," the secret ingredient is protein. Protein has staying power, staving off hunger until it's time for that next meal or healthy snack. Make sure to have a breakfast that is at least 50% protein, and the rest a combination of fiber and perhaps some lovely fruit (NOT JUICE)!

Here is a link to a great site showing one of the most amazing ideas for a quickie (with a little prep, that is) healthy breakfast I've ever seen. With pictures! Never be "too busy" for a healthy breakfast again!


No tricks, no fads!

Last year, health reporter Julia Belluz published an excellent article on weight loss, where she interviewed more than 20 leading diet and nutrition researchers, registered dietitians, physicians, and evidence-based thinkers on weight loss from across North America. She asked them some pretty basic questions: based on the best-available evidence, what advice do you have for people who struggle with their weight? What do your patients who lose weight and keep it off have in common? Where do people go wrong? She put it all together, in a nice, easy to read format. Whether you want to loose a little or a lot, this article offers some helpful advice.