March 26, 2009
Attention Connecticut residents!
News Flash! Just in the knick of time from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI):
This Friday is the deadline for the Public Health Committee in the Connecticut General Assembly to vote on S.B. 1080, which requires that calorie info be posted on menus and menu boards in fast-food and other Connecticut chain restaurants.
I am the first to admit that nutrition is a pain. But as the CSPI says,:
Menu labeling would allow people to make healthier, more informed decisions for themselves and their families. Few people would ever guess (unless they saw me on WABC this past Saturday for my “Calorie Reality “ segment) that a plain bagel (370 calories) without cream cheese at Dunkin’ Donuts has 120 more calories than a jelly filled donut (250 calories) or that the Chicken Strips Basket (650 calories) at Friendly’s has almost 400 less calories than the Chicken Quesadillas (1,020 calories).
Ten other localities and states around the country have already passed menu labeling policies, including New York City, Philadelphia, and the state of California. Don’t residents of Connecticut also have the right to make informed choices when eating out?
Urge the Public Health Committee to vote in favor of menu labeling!
I urge you to vote in favor of S.B. 1080 which would require that calorie information be posted on the menu and menu boards in fast-food and other chain restaurants in Connecticut. Nutrition labeling on menus and menu boards would give Connecticut residents an important new tool to help us eat well and watch our weight.
The current economic crisis puts people’s health more at risk. People are relying on fast food to feed themselves and their families more during the recession. McDonald’s Chief Executive, Jim Skinner, was quoted in the Chicago Tribune as saying, “Today’s market conditions play to our strengths.” Additionally, experts see decreases in gym memberships and athletic leagues as people cut spending. Providing calorie information on menus and menu boards will allow people to choose healthier options as they turn to fast-food and value menus during these tough economic times.
Menu labeling is a low-cost way to support healthy eating and to help address obesity. Most restaurants in Connecticut with 15 or more outlets nationally are already posting nutrition information in New York City, Seattle, and Portland, OR, where menu labeling policies are in effect. Even more have the information available on websites or in other formats. Those restaurants already have calorie information and thus, would not incur any additional costs to analyze their menu items. For those few that do not yet have calorie information, menu analysis software is inexpensive (available for as little as $500) and highly effective.
Menu labeling policies have passed in ten jurisdictions across the country, and have a very positive impact. In a study from New York City, 82% of customers said that menu labeling made a difference in their ordering. In the same study, the majority of people who used the nutrition information chose different items, but did not leave the store. There is no indication that menu labeling has had any nega tive impact on business in New York City. Menu labeling has broad public support; 78% of Americans want nutrition information on the menu at chain restaurants.
Please vote in favor of S.B. 1080 to give residents of Connecticut the information we need and want when eating out. Please let me know how you decide to vote on this public health issue.
Though Americans eat out more than ever before, few restaurants provide nutrition information at the point of ordering. As a result, we often get more calories, fat, and salt than we realize. Without clear, easy-to-use nutrition information at the point of ordering, it’s difficult to make informed choices at restaurants. Few people would guess that a small milkshake has more calories than a Big Mac or that a tuna sandwich from a typical deli contains twice as many calories as the roast beef with mustard.
More than twenty states and localities are considering policies that would require fast-food and other chain restaurants to provide calories and other nutrition information on menus and menu boards—four have already passed policies.
For help implementing a menu labeling policy in your area or for more information, contact: email@example.com.
More eye-opening info from the CSPI:
Please ask the Obama Administration to address the obesity epidemic by using some of the $650 million set aside for prevention and wellness in the economic stimulus package to strengthen the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO). CDC is the nation’s lead prevention agency, yet DNPAO is funded at less than one half of one percent of CDC’s budget.
Please go to the “contact us” section of recovery.gov. Insert a request for CDC obesity funding, such as the model comment below, and add a supporting fact of your own or one from the list of options below:
Please ensure that the prevention and wellness fund from the stimulus package includes a strong investment in obesity prevention by providing $90 million for the CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity.
To support that request use one of the following or your own supporting fact:
* At the current funding, $42 million, CDC is able to support only 23 states. The remaining states receive no funds from CDC to address a condition that affects two-thirds of American adults, contributes to 112,000 deaths annually, and costs the nation $123 billion in treatment costs.
* Over the last ten years, the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity has begun to build a strong science base, effective programs, and national infrastructure to promote healthy eating and physical activity. The Administration should build on that initial investment rather than reinventing the wheel.
* With high rates of obesity in adults and children, the Administration can’t afford to not have a strong national obesity prevention program in place. Without sufficient investment in prevention, obesity rates are going to continue to wreak havoc on the nation’s health and health care costs.
* Funding CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at $90 million would allow it to support obesity prevention programs in every state.
* Even though all state applications were approved for funding, 13 states lost their obesity funding last year due to inadequate resources.
Nutrition is a pain. But thank you CSPI for reminding us of Calorie Reality.
March 19, 2009
There was a huge study released this week that was published in USA Today and US News and World Report about how most people underestimate what “brisk” means (which is basically 100steps per minute). Check it out here
THE MAGIC WEIGHT LOSS SECRET-
Other recent studies have proven that is doesn’t really matter whether you are on the Atkins Diet, Weight Watchers or the Cabbage Soup Diet, what determines weight loss is CALORIES CONSUMED.
And here are 6 examples of Calorie reality where better choices make a big difference (to your thighs)
1.Girl Scout Tag Along Peanut Butter Patties- 4 cookies
have 300 calories which equals 40 minutes of jogging or an hour and ten minutes of brisk walking.
Healthier option-SUGAR FREE SNACKWELLS SHORTBREAD COOKIES-20 calories each so 4 cookies would be 80 calories or try the 100 calorie packs. They are great for portion control. And speaking of portion control:
2. A Sleeve of Thin Mints-a sleeve of cookies
have 600 calories which equals running a half-marathon
Healthier Option- if you can’t have just one, do not open the sleeve!
3.Starbucks almonds-one package. Seems healthy, right?
Reality is 500 calories, 94 almonds in one pack –This equals one hour and 5 minutes of hard starimaster work or a 2 and a half hour walk!
Healthier option- a more reasonable snack size is 9 almonds, a tenth of one pack! If you can’t close the pack, don’t buy ‘em.
420 calories or an hour spin class or a 90 minute bike ride
Healthier option-vodka (65 calories per shot) plus a splash of cranberry juice and seltzer(105 calories) or better yet, no alcohol since it reduces willpower and increase appetite
5.Cinamon Raisin Bagel w Cream Cheese-
480 calories plus 180 for cream cheese=660 calories which equals a 2 hour bike ride or an hour jog
Healthier Option-4 pieces of whole wheat toast w/ reduced sugar strawberry jam which is 460 calories, still 200 calories less than the bagel.
6. Venti Starbucks Vanilla Frappucino-
You’re drinking 560 calories! which equals a 90 minute swim
Healthier Options-Tall Skim Cappucino is only 60 calories, you save 500 calories!
Bottom line is-CALORIE REALITY. It might take 5 hours to work off 5 minutes of eating!
March 18, 2009
Chinese medicine. I used Chinese medicine on myself in the middle of the night last night when I couldn’t sleep and it worked like a charm. A Chinese medicine specialist at Canyon Ranch showed me a nifty cure for insomnia that sounds really kooky and is really kooky but it gets me back to sleep every time I remember to do it. You roll over on your right side, propping your right arm under you and hold your right nostril closed while taking deep breaths though the left nostril. They theory is that the right nostril oxygenates the left side of the brain, the side of the brain that is analytical, in charge of planning, regretting, worrying and bill paying. So if you close off that nostril, the left nostril will feed the right side of the brain, the part of the brain that’s not concerned with paying the mortgage or fixing the AIG mess.
More and more doctors in this country are being forced by their patients to acknowledge the power of Chinese herbs and medicines to heal the body. My doctor would roll his eyes at me if I explained this cure for insomnia and he’d probably offer a prescription for Ambien (which is tempting if you don’t consider the side effect of sleep eating and sleep driving).
In the eastern world, doctors do not wait until you get a positive result ( meaning a high cholesterol reading or a bad pap result or a tumor) from a test to treat the patient. They treat the wellness, not the sickness.
For centuries, the Chinese have been successfully treating asthma, high cholesterol, arthritis, PMS and menopause with herbs. You’ve heard me talk about resveratrol which has been found in an herb called Japanese Knotweed for thousands of years.
They also use pressure points, otherwise known as acupressure to relieve things like nausea.
Here are a few self treatments you can try at home. Try this next time you feel sick to your stomach. Press firmly on the inner forearm between your two big tendons an inch and a half above the crease of your wrist and watch your pain vanish.
Or try the headache cure.
Use your thumb and index finger to squeeze the soft muscle between thumb an index finger of your other hand. If your headache is on the right side squeeze the left hand and vice versa. This area may feel tender but maintain pressure for a few minutes and watch your head pain ease.
That’s all for today. I’m getting a headache from sitting at my desk.Time for Ellen.
March 17, 2009
It just dawned on me that my brain must be located in my butt. A few weeks ago I got a new 20 inch Mac computer so that I could pass down my beloved laptop Mac to my 16 year old son who should’ve reported me to Childrens’ Services for keeping him computer-less all these years. It was time. Only after I’d transferred all my data, erased the laptop and watched it vanish (to websites I can’t even imagine, probably) behind his bedroom door, only then did I realize that I was unable to write two coherent sentences sitting here in this hard chair at my serious desk. Up until now I hadn’t known that my thoughts flow most comfortably into my blog posts when I’m seated most comfortably, which is when I’m almost but not officially lying down.( This must be why I get those great ideas in the middle of the night as well.) All of my blog posts have been composed from the comfort of my living room lazyboyesque recliner, pillow propping my laptop (that must be why they call it a laptop) and preferably with The Ellen DeGeneris show playing on my Tivo.
Sitting here, upright, I can’t think. It feels like I’m trying to hard. The upside of this is that I spend less time online and my house is a milispeck cleaner, although no one would notice besides maybe my sister but I miss my comfy chair and I miss my blaug brain.
So, a plan needed to be made. Either I give up blogging or, being the Lifestyle Coach that I portend to be, I could force myself to type SOMETHING,anything, with the hope that a small creative thought from my butt brain will make it’s way up my uncomfortably straight-back spine and onto the keyboard. But as you can see it hasn’t been too productive so far.
Here’s one. Go to bed hungry. Often times when I am not on my good-eating routine, I will get into bed and my last thought is, “Ugh, I’m full.” I hate that. I’ve often recommended stopping eating three hours before bedtime, but a new way to think of it is to try to go to bed so unfull that your last thought is, “What should I have for breakfast?”
Going to bed with your food already digested gives your digestive tract a chance to truly rest and your liver a chance to rejuvenate. If you are full when your head hits the pillow even though you may be in Delta state your gut is pulling an all-nighter and on a regular basis, this exhausts your energy reserves.
If this happens to you on a regular basis, don’t get discouraged. Just remember that it is just a habit. Habits are just what we did yesterday and the day before that and the day before that. If I’ve never typed a blog post from this official desk position, I’m less likely to want to do it, but if I discipline myself to do it ANYWAY, then after a few days it will get easier and soon I will be having cocktail hour here at my desk rather than in Mom’s chair in the living room. It takes 4 days to form a new rut in the folds of your cortex. Try putting a note near your nightstand or perhaps taped to your computer screen . If you check your email in the evening, scroll a screen saver that says “Go to bed hungry.”
This will remind you to check in with how full you are and that it is okay to sense some hollowness in your tummy as you wind down the day. If this seems too difficult, have a cup of tea, brush your teeth or take a hot bath to keep you out of the kitchen after-hours.
Okay. I did it.That was challenging but not as bad as I feared. Maybe I can think sitting upright. But give me a few posts to get in shape for it. I’m going to make a post every day for the next 4 days to try to get my fingers hooked up. They may not be worth reading (but give it a few sentences before you hit delete please)If you don’t get one, please email me to keep me accountable. But don’t panic if I don’t respond immediately.I’ll be in the living room watching Ellen.
March 9, 2009
I HATE TO USE WILY WAYS TO GET MEN TO READ MY articles, but I find that once I have their attention, even if I switch to a broader topic, they will usually hear me out. I also forgot to include the word ‘FITNESS” in my title. It should read “Fitness, Alcohol and Men’s Sex Drive”.
But my initial point is valid .What most men don’t realize is that drinking ALOT (yes, I see those jumbo Foster’s Beer cans on the commuter trains home in the evening) has a far more damaging effect “down south” if you get my point, than you can predict simply by looking at the number of alcohol calories on a bottle.
First of all, alcohol reduces the number of fat calories you burn.That sluggish feeling after one too many? That’s your system’s response to drinking. It s-l-o-w-s down.The slower the system, the less energy (calories) it burns.
Not to mention how a cocktail can also increase your appetite. And the whammies just stack up higher when, simultaneously, your self-discipline and decision-making skills conversely go down.
Did I forget, until now, to mention that testosterone levels are markedly lower for up to 24 hours after you finish drinking?
Men might deduct that their “beer belly” is caused by excess alcohol calories stored by your body as fat. Not true! Less than five percent of the actual alcohol calories you consume are turned into fat.
Instead, the major effect of alcohol is to reduce the amount of fat your body burns for energy.
Del Millers,PhD reports in new research that fat metabolism can be reduced by as much as 73% after only two drinks of vodka and lemonade in a one hour time period!
He tells us that the primary effect of alcohol on the body is not so much how much of it gets stored as fat, but how it shuts down the body’s ability to access your fat stores for energy.
Dr. Millers reports that alcohol in the body is converted into a substance called acetate. In his study, blood levels of acetate were 2.5 times higher than normal after only two drinks. And it appears that this sharp rise in blood acetate puts the brakes on fat burning.
Dr. Miller continues, “Unlike a car that uses primarily one source of fuel, the body is able to draw from a number of different sources (carbohydrates, fats and proteins). To a certain extent, the source of fuel your body uses is dictated by its availability. Consequently, when your blood acetate levels rise, your body simply uses more acetate instead of fat.”
Now to the Sex Drive part.
Not only does alcohol dampen your ability to burn fat, it’s also one of the quickest ways to tank
In only one binge of heavy drinking, you raise levels of the muscle-wasting hormone cortisol and accelerate the breakdown of testosterone for up to 24 hours.
Here’s the FITNESS part!
The damaging effects of alcohol on testosterone are exaggerated when you exercise before drinking. And who doesn’t like a good workout right before a night with the boys?
Your take away message is that drinking a lot and a leaner, stronger body is a toxic mixed drink.
March 6, 2009
Eat, Drink and be Merry, we used to say. Recent research now suggests it should be Eat LESS, DON’T drink and be Merry.
When it comes to eating and drinking, there’s great news from a recent study that lines up with our current economic situation by recommending not just moderation, but food deprivation. It’s called caloric restriction or CR for short and there is some proof that CR may not only enhance our long-term vitality but also, in a surprisingly brief period of time, as little as a few months, improve our memory.
What was I saying?
Oh yes. What scientists are finding that if we restrict calories consumed each day that it has a markedly positive effect on many major health indicators. Like what? How about increased insulin sensitivity, lower levels of blood glucose and insulin, plus lower serum fat and markers of inflammation, among others
The theory is that CR could also improve the age-related lapse in memory. In the study, one group, the CR group, was given 30% fewer calories per day than they would normally eat. A second group continued with their usual, non-restricted diet, but increased their daily intake of unsaturated fatty acids by 20%. A third control group continued with the diet they usually ate.
After only three months there was a noteworthy improvement in memory scores. Also worth noting were the inverse connection between this increase in memory and lower levels of serum insulin and serum CRP, a common marker for inflammation in the body. (Of course, the scientists do NOT mention how cranky these people were during the study.)
In the second group, on the other hand, neither memory scores nor insulin and CRP levels were different from the control group.
This is awesome. Do you know what this means? If we can’t afford to eat as much food, this could not only help us look and feel better but our memory will be sharper!
I’m looking forward to not being able to afford groceries!
Seriously, calorie restriction is easier said than done but I’m also watching closely what’s developing with the nutrient resveratrol, which was featured on 60 Minutes a few weeks ago. Resveratrol seems to have that same potential. Animal studies have produced promising results. Whether these results will translate to humans remains to be determined. But stay tuned!
If one thimbleful of good comes out of this economic downturn, I am hoping it is a reversal of our current globesity. As far as food is concerned we can all benefit from eating less.
Try this experiment. Next time you sit down for dinner, take a look at the food on your plate and divide it so that you take away one third of your food, preferably the lower NCR foods, meaning foods that have less of a nutrient to calorie ratio. Consider stopping eating two-thirds into your meal and I bet you won’t even remember what food you didn’t eat.
March 5, 2009
Back in the good old days, when we all didn’t know we were rich and back before my hips crashed meaning pre-pain, I used to feel my best when decked out in the latest yoga clothing line, say, Athleta, with a fresh mani-pedi, on a state-of-the-art spin bike, in our newly renovated spinning theatre, nestled into a spacious corner of my boss’s high-end health club. Look up How to be Happy in Greenwich and there’d be my picture.
Could trappings buy happiness? My American Express card and I were determined to find out. That was back in the day.
Then the great Swami called PAIN arrived for my first lesson on re-defining Happiness. With my hips rusting out (otherwise known as oxidative stress and arthritis), I started to rethink what “feeling my best” meant.
Funny that no matter how shiny my toenails were in yoga class, if I didn’t feel good (as in out of pain) what I looked like counted for crap.
It slowly dawned on me how insignificant the outer layer was compared to how I felt inside. I was awake now. My standards were much higher in some ways. For example, I really, really had to love someone to go to their party and stand on my aching hips for three hours and yet my standards were much lower in other ways, like if I had dog hairs on my lower pants leg and couldn’t get down there to brush them off, who cared. Plus pain killers were involved, I think.
My capacity for self-delusion back then shouldn’t be underestimated. And because of my lesson from Swami Pain, I now feel somewhat equipped to face this next higher calling that we are all facing, what with this no money hoopla that isn’t actually hoopla at all, but an actual no money thing.
The Swami No Money has arrived and we are now going to find out exactly how happy we can be with less of everything.
I’ve dubbed it the Happiness Challenge. It may sound similar to my previous Fitness Challenges but this may be much harder than losing those last five pounds ever was.
This past weekend my husband and I picked up our first hitch-hiker in two, make that three decades. He was a divorced dad who’s car had broken down and he wanted to make it to his kid’s house to take them sled-riding. Funny, I guess he had no back up car.
We also volunteered, as we like to do (meaning I make my kids go by holding an Xbox to their heads), at our local homeless shelter where we usually serve the Mother Theresa crowd, meaning the high-need, really destitute people. Not this week. I saw a few faces that, take away the blonde highlights and the fancy merrills, looked a bit too much like my own for comfort. To cap it off, we also gave an old bike to a friend who’s fallen from his financial mountaintop, who’s temporarily living up in a cheap hotel basement apartment and no car.
Old Greenwich? Welcome to New Greenwich, Folks.
So, just like people who live with chronic pain and have to reset their “I’m comfortable” meter, we all are now challenged to reset our “I’m Happy” meter.
I’ve just finished reading The Geography of Bliss, One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Place on Earth and in all of Eric Weiner’s romps to find the happiest place on earth, he uncovered a few tidbits that most of us already know.
It makes sense that more money does not necessariy mean more happiness.
Another interesting fact is that healthy people are happier, which makes me wonder which one comes first, the health or the happiness? When you are happy you may tend to take care of yourself and be healthier or is it the other way around, that people that take care of themselves are happier to begin with? It’s the old which came first, the chicken or the egg paradox.
It doesn’t matter to me. If you need to get happier and have less “things” to be happy about, get healthier. Exercise, ALWAYS, can only help. It de-stresses you, it releases feel-good hormones, it improves your self-esteem and self image. Since we all may not be able to retire at the age we thought we might, if we throw in the living younger for longer, it is certainly a motivator. We need to stay as young as we can, as long as we can for newer, more serious reasons. Because we gotta.
Think of exercise as the scaffolding for your Happiness Challenge.
I haven’t thought of this for a long time but I worked my entire way through college and paid for it myself. I’m very proud of that. Waitressing, which by the way, gave me many life lessons that have served me throughout middle age, taught me to be a better person. Moonlighting in general and waitressing in particular cultivated discipline and honed my people-radar. (It also taught me to always leave a good tip).
So why am I so heart-broken that my kids might have to do something remotely as rigorous to get a college degree?
I’m making my mind up right now to challenge myself to NOT worry and to BE happy. How hard is that? Hard, I tell you.
So I have a plan, think of it as criteria for my own happiness challenge
-To be as healthy as possible, for my kids and husband to be as healthy as possible.
-To pay my bills- and if I can’t, to get rid of stuff until I can.
-To live somewhere with heat, shelter, food and most importantly, that allows dogs
What does that look like on a daily basis?
-I’ll exercise most days
-I’ll add some type of mind-body technique, like meditation or yoga, especially on days I feel more stressed.
-I’ll enjoy my food, every bite of it and stop when I’m full.
-I’ll hug my kids and husband every opportunity.
-I’ll laugh as often as possible.
-I’ll get outside and feel the simple miracle of a sunset, a flock of birds or a sudden snow storm.
-I’ll lay on the floor and pet my dog.
I think if I can incorporate all of these things into every day, then my world, that feels like it has less wiggle room on the surface, can interiorly be more expansive than the life of a master of the universe, or the person I was five years ago.
I recommend you try it too.