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News That Makes You Think: Obesity Risk, Lunch Shaming, Double Chin

The last two days has been filled with some interesting news items that has led me to shake my head, and go hmmmm.

A test that can gauge your obesity risk?

I come from a family that has often struggled with weight — we have one of those really unhealthy relationships where we eat our feelings. It’s a learned response….and while that has a significant impact on our waistlines it is a habit that in theory can be broken.

On the other hand, researchers have now said they can successfully link certain byproducts of digestion to the risk of excess body fat. Something we can’t change…yet. It’s possible that these findings might lead to more personalized interventions for people who are identified as “at-risk” for obesity, including diet, exercise or supplements.

In a study published in the journal, Science Translational Medicine, researchers note that obesity risk is driven by many factors. They include, “amino acids and muscle metabolism, energy metabolism, and [the] involvement of gut metabolism.”

In a not so shocking finding, the researchers say that obesity is complex and one magic bullet isn’t going to fix the situation. Read more here. Do you think having this information would make a difference?

Lunch Shaming

On my ride back from pilates this morning, I heard the story of the teacher’s letter to a parent regarding her child’s lunch. Then I got home and saw that it was on GMA. Is this really a thing? I know and appreciate the hard work that has gone into revamping school lunches, but being uber judgey about what is packed from home is ridiculous. Also, since when is peanut butter NOT a healthy snack? I’m pretty sure it is one of those “in moderation” snacks that is good for you. And another thing, how are you suppose to keep milk cool for lunch?

I'm pretty sure this lunch wouldn't make the cut
I’m pretty sure this lunch wouldn’t make the cut

Double Chin Remedy

Forget contouring like a Kardashian, and don’t you fret about bad angles anymore. The FDA approved a new treatment for adults with “moderate-to-severe fat” below the chin. The treatment, Kybella, apparently naturally absorbs fat, and has the potential to be a big seller. That is IF, patients are ok with the potential side effects including trouble swallowing or nerve damage to the jaw that an result in an uneven smile or muscle weakness in the face.

I can't tell if I qualify for "moderate-to-severe" here
I can’t tell if I qualify for “moderate-to-severe” here

An Evening With Jillian

When I think about spending an evening with Jillian Michaels, I immediately think buckets of sweat and a fierce attitude in your face. So I was skeptical when I heard about her “Maximize Your Life” tour. I know she offers motivation in the form of one-on-one talks on Biggest Loser, but they are also getting their butts kicked by her in the gym.

Of course, the second Melissa asked if I wanted her extra ticket for last night’s show I practically jumped through the computer screen to hug her.  The crowd itself was intriguing–mostly women of varying shapes and sizes. What really struck me was the purchasing of alcoholic beverages and snacks to listen to someone dubbed “the world’s toughest trainer” talk about nutrition and weight loss..that just seemed off. I know I am being a bit judgey…but really?

Apparently there is a grilled cheese bar here; also ppl are buying them & drinks to listen to @ talk abt controlling weight

After a pretty disturbing video, the kind I think they show in spy movies to wipe your memory and implant new ones, Jillian took the stage. She was herself–a bit foul mouthed, funny and energetic. She was actually really entertaining to listen to.

Her talk was broken into three parts: (1) science; (2) sweat and (3) self — basically nutrition, exercise and self worth.

A few tidbits from the nutrition: 

  • Counting calories sucks, but the truth is we are creatures of habit and basically only eat 20 different meals. Learn the calories once and there you go.
  • Think of calories like money, you only have X amount to spend
  • Turn on your bullshit meter when you are reading labels. (Jillian told us she called a certain butter spray company to understand how it could possibly be zero calories when they have things like butter cream in it)
  • DON’T EAT SMALL MEALS THROUGHOUT THE DAY this doesn’t allow your body to go into the proper burning system
  • Avoid starch and sugar at dinner

Exercise: good for Jillian’s salary, simple for you to do

  • Calculate your BMR (basal metabolic rate), if you don’t do ANYTHING at all, you will burn this much during the day. Then add on your active metabolic rate and if you don’t go over these calories you are golden. 
  • It isn’t about specific exercises, it is about techniques — body weight training and free weights; works more than machines
  • Don’t workout over 6 hours a week; and have one rest day

The goal setting stuff was good, and she got me geared up to make and reach my goals, but man it was a long talk.

Like I said she was incredibly entertaining and I can see why people attach themselves to her, but I still would have loved to have walked out of there drenched in sweat.

My Handstand Problem

So we know that a goal of mine is to get better at balance poses. We also know that it has only been a few weeks since I decided to dedicate myself to these goals, but I am impatient.

starting the process
starting the process

I’ve been using my Tara Stiles This Is Yoga: Yoga Pose Library to help me get into the poses. She takes you through steps that basically help you build up into the pose. Placing your hands in the right place, rolling your hips up, slowly picking one leg up and then the other. You get the point.

I can’t seem to do it though. I was watching the way the uber flexible Tara moved and I noticed that when she shifts her legs up, they are literally in line with her hips. Is that even possible? I guess. I am wondering if my big issue with these isn’t in the arm strength, but the fact that I have really tight hips. Any thoughts?

I am hoping that one of the studios near me has an inversion workshop soon. That might be my best opportunity to get hands on training.

Oh also, my obsession Biggest Loser started this week. I absolutely love this show.  I get really into Biggest Loser, sometimes I wish that it was on earlier so that I could watch it while I’m working out because I get pumped watching these workouts.  I can’t really explain why, other than I just love watching these people beast it out and realize that they have it in them (after puking and what not). This season should be interesting with them taking on the childhood obesity issue. I am looking forward to how they actually tackle this in practical terms.

Most Googled Diets of 2012

Google prepares a list the year’s most popular searches including diets. I thought it was an interesting look at what fads and healthy eating ideas peeked people’s interest–supermodels and fad diets galore!

10. Marissa Miller Diet: The Victoria Secret model said one of her go to healthy foods is quinoa or brown rice, which she keeps in her fridge so that when she is hungry she can quickly whip something up. Of course she also said she ate in the buff…so maybe that’s what people were looking for.

9. Juicing Diet: I’ve always been intrigued by the likes of the Blueprint Cleanse or following my own. But I have an immediate fear that I will become an angry person because of lack of protein and headaches.

8. Feeding Tube Diet:  Also known as the K-E Diet is only available in my home-state of Florida and works by slowly feeding the dieter with a fat and protein-based solution. I think it is just a bad idea.

7. NV Diet Pill: Not only can you burn fat, but you can tone your body and improve the appearance of skin, nails, and hair. MIRACLE PILL (sarcasm)

6. Miranda Kerr Diet: She adopted the 80/20 rule. She also said she follows the Blood Type Diet.

5. Adriana Lima Diet: She went all liquid the entire nine days before the Victoria Secret fashion show.

4. P.I.N.K. Method Diet: Designed specifically for women, it encourages physical activity and nutrient-rich foods. However, some of the claims might not hold up.

3. Raspberry Ketone Diet: A Dr. Oz approved diet that hasn’t been proven in research on mice.

2. Beyonce Diet: She works hard for her body.

1. Michael Phelps Diet: Dude takes in a TON of calories. So this probably was less about “what does he eat to stay fit” and more “he eats how much and stays fit?”

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.