Where we get fit and spin (wool)

Archive for June, 2013

Another Rant, Helpless People Abused

If you are regular readers, you know every so often, I lose my temper and use this platform to rant about things that make me angry. Tonight, it is the way the sick and elderly are fed. This has been sparked by a tv news article about “Rich Food, Poor Food”, a book about guidance shopping for healthier food. The news blurb was talking about the aspect of the book that points out that many of the ingredients in our food are banned in other countries. I know, you’re saying to yourself “what’s the connection?”. Well, I looked the book up online, read the summary and some reviews. They were talking about how people make choices, like choosing low-fat, even if the low-fat was filled with possibly carcinogenic chemicals. That made me think about how most choices aren’t even that thoughtful, and how my friend, who is in assisted living, is being fed white bread, even though she is diabetic!

There, how is that for a connection? That’s just how my mind works. But, back to the rant at hand. So my friend in assisted living is eating hot dogs, buns, pasta and white potatoes. When my husband was in the hospital a few years ago, every meal was the epitome of things I reject – white everything, sugar everything, chemical laden, overly processed garbage. Now, all of us fitness buffs know that it isn’t too expensive or difficult to eat well. C’mon, just buy romaine instead of iceberg. Throw a bit of spinach in everything. How about real turkey instead of that gel stuff? Whole wheat should be standard, and less bread over all. The only veggies you’ll see in any kind of institution is usually green beans and corn.

We KNOW, not think, we KNOW, that diet affects health. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes,  stroke, high blood pressure, etc. Even normal aging is STRONGLY affected by what you eat. Why wouldn’t we feed the sickest and weakest among us the best? Why, if I went into the hospital, chances are I wouldn’t see an honest whole grain,  a true green leafy vegetable or an unadulterated meat the whole time I was there? Why should my sugar intake double or triple at a time I could least afford it? I’m sorry, are legumes so horrible we can’t touch them? Is turmeric evil? Are brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, and chard too expensive? I understand for some people, it would be opening them up to new foods. Maybe they might find that difficult to adjust to, but what better time to teach people about what food could be? Maybe you could offer all natural peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat for those who refuse to go further, but there is no reason to not make even moderate efforts to improve the food.

I feel better now. I bit hoarse from all that shouting, but I’m calmer now. However, if you ever hear I am in the hospital, send real chicken soup, not flowers, so I don’t succumb to whatever is wrong. And don’t hesitate to raise a stink wherever you come into contact with institutions.















I wasn’t going to tackle the topic of HCG, as it wasn’t on my radar, till I found out my cousin was on it, then a girl came into work and everyone was marveling at her weight loss, and she said it was due to HCG. HCG is human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone produced during pregnancy. There are two ways to get it, as an injection from your doctor, or as drops available online.  I have a link here to a Dr. Oz show exploring the whole issue. I know, kinda funny, I don’t care much for Dr. Oz anymore, and I’ve referenced him in two posts lately.

Here is a quote from Mayoclinic.com:

So why has there been so much talk about the HCG diet? Perhaps it’s because the diet recommends severe calorie restriction — typically just 500 to 800 calories a day. People who follow such a very low-calorie diet are likely to lose weight, at least in the short-term. However, that level of calorie restriction has risks, such as gallstone formation, irregular heartbeat, and an imbalance of the electrolytes that keep the body’s muscles and nerves functioning properly.

If weight loss is your goal, there are safer ways to lose weight. Talk with your doctor or other health care provider about how to make healthy changes that lead to permanent weight loss, such as eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.

I will tell you up front I think this is horrible. First, the only way to get true HCG is from your doctor. According to the representative from the FDA that was on Dr. Oz, there is no discernible amount of HCG in all of the over the counter brands they tested. If it is a “homeopathic” preparation, that already means there is little to no active ingredients, since that is in keeping with homeopathic beliefs. (A topic for another time.) So most of the people on the HCG diet, are simply on a diet. Don’t try to tell me it can’t be placebo, my experience with anorexia tells me that the most powerful diet aid is your brain. Your body will signal hunger, but you decide whether to listen to that signal or not.

Second, the diet. 500 calories a day is not healthy. Your diet is not just calories. Calories are only one thing your food provides. You need vitamins, minerals, protein, fats and fiber. They are called “essential” amino acids for a reason. Same with essential fatty acids. Starving yourself will work to lose weight. Ask anyone in a third world country. However, you will also lose hair, teeth, skin condition, etc. The reason women used to lose teeth when they were pregnant was their bodies leached calcium for the baby. People in the past faced famine on a regular basis, but they often died from it. You need to consume what your body uses. When you “burn fat”, it is only calories your fat is providing, not all the other essential things your body uses to make you. For every dramatic success story of weight loss on this diet, there are as many people who suffer physical harm. Here is a link to people’s reviews of the diet on About.com. As you will see, for every person who was happy with it, there was another who suffered from it.

Third, what are you learning from this diet about how to live the rest of your life? Will you forego pizza and hot dogs in favor of salad and watermelon? Or will you start a yo-yo diet of dramatic weight loss, gain it back, starve yourself, gain it back? I’m striving daily to get people to think about what they put in their mouths and what that is doing to their body, and I don’t see any indication that there is anything about this diet that teaches anything about health and nutrition. I have not heard one word about a transition to a normal diet, and teaching you how to achieve that.

My summation? If you want to starve yourself, be my guest. Just don’t ask me to support it. If HCG, or the placebo effect, helps you to do that, then why can’t you stick to a normal diet? Ask yourself that question. If you can eat 500 calories a day, why can’t you eat 1400 calories a day, get optimal nutrition and lose weight more slowly and in a healthier fashion. What is your philosophy? Appearance at any cost? Or optimal health and strength? I do realize that being extremely overweight is a health risk too, and some argue “any port in a storm”, but I say lets try harder to do it the right way before we resort to extremes. I’m not even against HCG itself, if it is truly legitimate. It is the pairing of it with such an extreme, unhealthy diet that bothers me.

Correlation does not Equal Causation

This article from the wall street journal might be misleading. I can’t say it is, since I have not seen the study. It supposedly shows a link between increased red meat consumption and the increase in type II diabetes. Researchers found a link between increased meat consumption, by as little as 1/2 a serving a day, and a greater risk of diabetes.

My question is, did they factor in the greater calories and weight gain  that increasing your consumption of any food would cause, since we know that being overweight will lead to greater diabetes risk? Did they separate out the consumption of “real” red meat vs processed, like hot dogs and lunch meat? It stated it was independent of body weight and quality of the rest of the diet, but what does that mean? It is also based on questionnaires, which are notoriously inaccurate.

The trouble with reading an article about a study is that you are getting conclusions twice removed. First, the authors of the study write a conclusion about the facts in their study. They can be drawing incorrect conclusions, or at least be suffering from bias. Then you are getting the conclusions that the author of the article drew from the conclusions of the authors of the study. Without being able to see the original study and taking the laborious amounts of time to go through the data to see if their conclusions are correct, you have to take some of this with a grain of salt. I have read enough arguments over studies to know that “facts” can be created from poor data collection, bias, poor study set up, and more. At least the author of this article did furnish a comment from a detractor of the study, so you have an idea of what other opinions are out there.

This is not to say that I am championing eating red meat in large quantities. Enough studies have been done to prove that less is more when it comes to red meat. However, it does seem counter intuitive to link red meat to diabetes, since it is sugar regulation that is affected by diabetes. I would love to know if they did control for the calorie increase, and how much the participants weighed, since being overweight is a strong factor in diabetes. This is one study I will remain skeptical of until more information is forthcoming.

I also don’t want it to sound like I am poo-pooing research. All dietary research is flawed, since we can’t do experiments in diets on people, it’s unethical. So to make up for the flaws, we have to keep doing lots of research, collecting lots of data, and spending lots of time analyzing and reviewing. Any information is better than no information.

I just had a great thought- what if they asked people to volunteer their information from all those diet/calorie tracking software programs? What a gold mine that would be! Plus, there wouldn’t be the inherent study bias, since the people would be turning over information they had previously gathered for themselves, with no unintended bias of pleasing the researchers.

Sometimes, I Even Agree With Dr. Oz

I don’t always agree with Dr. Oz.  I really liked his documentaries on Netflix, but when he got his own show, it seemed he started hawking products I don’t endorse. Maybe he is just really thrilled with them, I have been known to talk about products in this blog that just knock my socks off, but supplements to help weight loss are almost always bunk, or dangerous.

This article, published in Women’s day online, is the advice that he himself follows. Everything in the article is something either I do, or would do if I wanted to lose weight. If you don’t want to follow the link, it is as follows:

  1. Eat the same breakfast every day (I do)
  2. Make dinners in bulk and freeze some. (I do, with only two of us, so any dinner is bulk!)
  3. Don’t buy everything fresh ( I freeze the fresh when it is in season, too)
  4. Find an activity you love. (Or two, or three!)
  5. Have a small portion of a treat. ( chocolate, almost daily.)
  6. If you hate to exercise, walking is good too. ( Or walking + exercise is even better)

You can see, there are no secrets here, just good solid information.


The Cost of Obesity

person too large to fit in a chairObesity isn’t a joke. It isn’t a moral issue. Right now, it is hardly a personal issue. We have, though our ingenuity and perseverance created a situation where it is the fastest growing health problem in the world. obese person in ChinaOther than subsaharan Africa, we have managed to export this problem to the entire world. Blame it on Henry Ford, blame it on McDonald’s, blame it on computers, whatever you blame it on, we can now eat more calories than we need through most of the world on a daily basis.

What prompted this post is an article on the Motley fool on the top 5 diseases caused by obesity. One of the sad things is that the Motley Fool is a financial website, and while it was decrying the effects of obesity, it was also speculating on which drug manufacturer would benefit from all this misery. And misery is the correct word. “Fat and happy” is a false notion. Maybe back in the day, when being fat meant you weren’t starving, but now people aren’t happy being fat. They may be happy in spite of it, but not because of it.

I keep mentioning it, as I believe it is central to my position in writing. I got into fitness as both my parents died of heart disease. Not from obesity, but smoking, and really bad genes. As of this point, I can’t change my genes, but I can control everything else. My central thesis for this blog is that it is about health and quality of life, not appearance. Of course, reading the motley Fool makes you realize it has a huge impact on society and economics as well. We all get hugely upset, and rightfully so, when people are diagnosed with cancer. 12 of the most commonly diagnosed cancers are largely impacted by obesity. Heart disease, stroke, diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease round out the top 5.


Obese person on a scooter

How much work can someone this size perform?

Add to that the cost to society of obesity. There was a link from the first article I referenced to this one, the top ten costs of obesity in America. These two articles together point out that this is not about “choice”, and people having to “police themselves”.  I don’t know how I feel about Mayor Bloomburg’s soda ban. If you want to make a difference legislatively, ban soda all together. I’m worried that it’s a case of the genie being let out of the bottle. 20 years ago, would you have seen every one competing with the latte’s and frappacino’s, with each one having more calories than the next? Maybe teaching kids to use calorie tracking software and measuring their portions in health class and teaching about calorie awareness will help? I don’t know if there is one quick and easy answer. Shaming manufacturers? People say there is a stigma to being fat, but it isn’t stopping this trend. People love food. People really love sweet, fatty food. Manufactures are only too happy to capitalize on that. Who do we address? The consumer? The producer?

Gotta Love it!

Every time I read one of these inspirational stories, I have to share it. This time it’s a guy who wanted to lose weight and didn’t have much money.  These kinds of stories reinforce my belief that it does not require a lot to live healthy. If you want to make excuses,  make them, but don’t tell me the poor can’t eat well, or if you can’t afford to join a gym, then you can’t lose weight. The biggest part of losing weight is not eating junk. Eating less in general doesn’t hurt, but if you are eating less, it is more important to not eat junk, because every calorie needs to count for nutrition. I mean, why are you eating in the first place? Shouldn’t it be to give your body what it needs for optimum health? Read the article, it even has menu ideas.


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