Type your search keyword, and press enter

Exercise As A Threat?

Over the last few years we have acclimated to seeing calories next to our favorite food items. At first it seemed to deter some people, but eventually you just shrugged it off and ate it because you wanted that personal-size Uno pizza that is like a  1,400 calories. (Not me, because I just can’t, but I know there are people out there that do.)

Fries are my weakness
Fries are my weakness

So if this doesn’t deter people like everyone hoped, what’s next? Displaying how much exercise would be required to burn it off. A new study tested this idea and found that when restaurant menus listed the amount of brisk walking required to work off each dish diners we less likely to overeat.

Personally, I don’t like to think about what is required to burn it off after I eat. I think that just makes eating less enjoyable and more guilt ridden. Yes, there are times when I over indulge and think “I am so going to need to run an extra mile tomorrow,” or I might switch a yoga day for something more intense, but I don’t like to think about it until after I am completely satisfied with myself.

It is important to me to overindulge from time to time
It is important to me to overindulge from time to time

I know I am a rare breed who enjoys exercising for the endorphins I feel during and after, but come on no one is going to learn to enjoy a healthy lifestyle if we keep making it a chore or a punishment.

You have to separate the guilt from eating. That is the only way you overcome food demons or avoid creating new ones.

Burning Off Those Thanksgiving Favorites

This afternoon I will be gorging myself on sweet potatoes, green bean casserole and some Kale stuff my mother is making. Plus my sister’s made from scratch apple pie. My mouth is watering right now.

Thanks to FitSugar I now know exactly what I need to do to burn it off. Of course I hate thinking about my food in that way, but I also hate feeling like a lardo. I have a “Timed Exercise” workout scheduled for Friday morning and I will add on a run to that.

For other ideas see below.

Exercise Apps Fall Short

Thanks for marathon training I’ve finally tested out apps like RunKeeper and MapMyRun. They’ve worked out great for the most part, but are really just used so that I know where I am going. My use of the Nike Fuel band lasted approximately three months, and then I got bored.

So it was really interesting to see Brigham Young University’s (BYU) study on the effectiveness of these apps actually changing lifestyle behavior. Researchers analyzed 127 of the most popular apps with most falling short on this goal because they weren’t based on the sound scientific theories proven to spur real behavior change.

It all came down to lack of customization. Getting general recommendations means you are less likely to follow through (hence my boredom with the band).

Essentially, we need to start seeing a combination of apps built on psychological principles that trigger true behavior change for them to make a real impact.

The study was based on apps from 2009, the newer ones might be better.

Are there any apps that you use religiously that have changed your behavior?


Being Underweight WORSE Than Being Obese

Study after study tells us that being overweight or obese leads to countless health risks including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and increased risk of heart attack or stroke.

Now a recent study from the University of California Davis School of Medicine says its MORE  (I repeat more) dangerous to your health to be underweight than obese.

In the six-year study following almost 51,000 Americans of all ages, researchers discovered that those with an extremely low BMI (under 18.5) had a risk of death that was twice as high as those with a normal BMI (18.5 to 24.9). Oddly enough, participants with BMIs that classified them as severely obese (30 or higher) were only 1.26 times as likely to die as those with normal BMIs, which means being obese is considered better than being underweight.

This doesn’t mean you should go out and eat everything in sight, but it is a reminder that you should be aiming for a healthy BMI.


What if a machine dictated your menu?

What if you walked up to your fridge and it didn’t open because it knew you wanted ice cream? Instead it recommends that you grab an apple.

As part of its LiVe public service program, Intermountain Healthcare has installed a fake, talking vending machine at Rose Park Elementary School in Salt Lake City. The machine is filled with faux snacks and doesn’t take money. But when students press its buttons, looking for gooey, crispy or chewy goodies, they instead get playful nuggets of wisdom.

“I’m a vending machine and can’t move without someone’s help,” a cartoon-like voice says when a student chooses a Lava Cake. “Keep buying food like this and we’ll have that in common.”

The idea is to make kids think twice about their junk food choices. It reminds me of those posters NYC had around noting the pounds sugary drinks can add. They were really gross and even though my Cherry Coke Zero habit was minimal, I put a serious stop to it. Looking at those posters just made me squeamish.

Do you think just hearing what the junk food can do to your body will curb habits? Or do they need more visual reminders?

Two Separate Studies Say Parents to Blame for Weight Gain

My mom and I both devour research on weight loss and obesity.

A few weeks ago, she pointed me to a study that said a poor relationship with your mother can lead to weight troubles as teens. She apologized in advance and said she would feel guilty if I struggled with my weight. I told her just the fact that we were having this conversation meant she wouldn’t be the cause.

A day later another study came out saying that a father’s work schedule can influence a child’s weight. I sent the link to my mom, noting that if I got fat she could just blame my traveling dad (he actually didn’t travel when I was young, but does now…so yeah).

The studies while looking at separate emotional issues bring up an interesting point—focusing on the role a parent has on a child’s nutrition.  Since the parent, whether a mother or father, makes most of the decisions about meals their stress can influence that decision.

I still say it comes down to educating parents on how to make healthy choices, even when pressed for time. Meal planning, knowing which restaurants have the best options and making family time to be active together are the best places to start.

Growing up I was lucky enough to have a good relationship with both parents. My father was my basketball coach and my mother always made it a point to be supportive no matter what.  So hopefully I have a little extra defense against weight gain.

My family on my wedding day

Is Your Job Making You Fat?

If you’ve ever sat at your desk, eating left over pizza from the day’s earlier meeting for dinner, then you’d probably agree with the recent editorial in the journal PLoS Medicine that says, “Unhealthy eating could legitimately be considered a new form of occupational hazard.” 

The authors cite the results of a recent study that found that female nurses who worked at night were more likely to develop diabetes during a 20-year period, compared with those who worked during the day. The study participants had demanding (and erratic) work schedules that made high-fat fast food and vending-machine meals the easiest hunger-squashing options. Screwy schedules also had a way with interfering with their exercise time.

There have been many a late night work session that have resulted in ordering black beans and rice smothered with cheese, pad see ew and burgers and fries. Most of the time, I haven’t worked out and am too tired to work out the next day.

If this sounds like your work life, below are a few ideas to help you get through it.

 Active Commuting 

Sitting Too Much?

Exercise for how long to burn that?

Johns Hopkins recently conducted a very interesting study: displaying the amount of time you’d need to jog in order to burn off sugary drink calories may be the key to curbing intake.

After introducing signs displaying either calorie counts, calorie counts as a percent of recommended daily calorie intake, or the time spent jogging that would be needed to burn off those calories, researchers observed teens and monitored their beverage purchasing habits.

Sales of soda, iced tea and sports drinks dipped, water sales saw an uptick.  While all three types of signs seemed to reduce the number of sugary drinks that were bought, only the signs displaying exercise times had results strong enough to mean researchers knew the decrease in purchases could not be due to simple chance.

I think this is a very cool idea. Even though I am a relatively healthy eater I certainly would think twice before diving into french fries if I knew exactly how many more minutes I would need to work out to burn that off.  It’s also probably a lot easier to understand how long you have to run than how many calories you are supposed to be taking in.

I mean did you ever think that on 20-ounce bottle of soda would need 50 minutes of running to burn it off? How many people do that for every soda they pop open?

How Did I Miss This?

Thankfully NYMag’s Vulture is doing a recap of some of 2011’s best videos, otherwise I would have completely missed this amazingness created by Beyonce to help Michelle Obama’s obesity cause.

Seriously, this is probably one of the best tactics I have seen used to fight childhood obesity. Music, dancing, Beyonce? Slam dunk in my book.

Imagine me in my home office doing this right now.

December Challenge Kinda Falling Short

It can take quite a bit of willpower to go for the healthful food choices when everyone around you has plates filled with cookies and spinach artichoke dip. All the traveling we have done (or at least I have) in the last week didn’t really help much either.

That’s not to say healthy items aren’t at my disposal. A new survey released this week of 15 major airports finds that 83% of restaurants have at least one vegetarian item on the menu—low in fat, high in fiber and good for your heart. The survey by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine considers healthy meals to be those that are vegetarian, cholesterol-free and low in fat.

I think I was just tired and didn’t have the energy to make healthy choices or exercise.

This coming week’s trip to Charlotte, NC is via car, which means I can control the food intake, simply by packing healthy snacks for us. I don’t have to worry about fitting everything into my carry on (there is less and less room btw in those overhead compartments).

Anyway, we did the Biggest Loser: At Home Challenge DVD together this week. It was a slow start and again, Anna didn’t really transition really well. My favorite thing about the DVD was that we could choose not only the workout sections we wanted to do, but in what order.

There seemed to be a lot of repetition on certain joints (lots of squats, lunges and planks). I really liked the curtsy kicks from Cardio Phase One and the pushup with a turn from Strength Phase One. Of course, Bob’s sections had me begging for it to be over. I think the next time we do it I might want to start with Phase Two and end with Phase One workouts.

Since it was a little slower, I think I might send this one over to my mom for her to try out.

(FTC Disclosure: I received the DVD for free, but the opinion and review is my own.)