Archives for January 2012

I’m Sorting Through Cheeseburgers, The National Anthem, And Google+. I Need Your Help


Follow Me On Google+

It’s Been A Really, Really Messed Up Week

This has really been a week.  Not so much in the world of health and wellness news, but certainly in other areas.  Do you ever find yourself thinking that in the 24/7 news media world that we live in we are subjected to too much information? Forgive me that I’m deviating from this blog’s usual topics, but sometimes a gal has to step outside of the day-to-day and try to make sense of the world around her.  Here’s what I’ve learned this week:

  • Some things are better left unsaid.
  • There are things that I do not need to know.
  • There are things I’ll never understand.
  • It is a crazy, wacky world that we live in.
  • It’s hard to escape the deluge of crazy wackiness

Things Better Left Unsaid

In an interview with ESPN2 Pat Sajak tells the reporter that there were a number of times that he and Vanna White were drunk while taping the shows.  He said that there was a restaurant across the street from the recording studio that they would go to between shows and indulge in Margaritas.  Sometimes they had four or five drinks. Why would anyone admit that they were drunk on the job?  

Later in the week, Pat started backing away from what he said in the interview.  He now says that he exaggerated the drinking episodes to the reporter and there were only a few times when they had a Margarita or two between shows.  I’m thinking Vanna got wind of the story and told him to fix it.  Now.

This is blather.  Divulging personal information that is not meant to be shared or making exaggerations to make a good story is what happens when the competition is so steep we think we have to say things – sometimes stupid things – to stand out.

More Things Better Left Unsaid

Paula Deen is seen eating a cheeseburger, or according to ABC news, “wolfing down a cheeseburger” and had fries on her plate too!  The haters have really been after Paula the past two weeks.  She has taken a lot of grief for coming late to party in telling the public that she has been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, and now doesn’t seem to be cleaning up her act.

Then of course Paula’s competitor, food chef Anthony Bourdain, added gas to the flame with his tweet that he’s “thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business so he can sell crutches later on”.  I’ve never been a Paula fan. The bacon and egg cheeseburger sandwiched between two donuts that she came up with a few years ago offended me.  I see no point it deliberately trying to create something that could win the award for the Unhealthiest Meal On The Planet.  How is that helpful?

Anthony got as much publicity out of his derogatory tweet as Paula got with her cheeseburger and fries. Maybe the famous saying, “Together we can change the world one good deed at a time,” should be changed to “one good tweet at a time”.

Some Things I Could Live Just As Well Not Knowing

Did you hear the one about the 17 year old girl that was rushed to the hospital emergency room after she collapsed while having trouble breathing?  Upon examining her, the doctors learned that since the age of two she had rarely eaten anything except fast food chicken nuggets. Fruits, vegetables and other nutritious foods were completely missing from her diet.

The mother claims that she has tried to get her daughter to eat other things but wasn’t successful because her daughter liked the nuggets so much.The article does not say that the steady diet of nuggets led to the young girl’s health issues or the trip to the E.R.. It does not quote the doctors as saying any such thing either.  We are left to draw our own conclusions.  My conclusion is that the nuggets aren’t the primary problem here, however ridiculous that may sound.  This is a mother-daughter team that is destined for the Dr. Phil Show.

This can be classified as a non-story and one I could have lived just as well without reading. By the way, this story has been tweeted 934 times and received 164 comments – so far.

Some Things I’ll Never Understand

Why is it that every article I read about generating traffic to my web site insists that I have to have a Facebook presence, send out tweets on a regular basis and be LinkedIn?  As if that’s not bad enough, now I have to find people to follow me on Google+.  Apparently Google favors people that have a solid Google+ following and ranks them higher in the search engine food chain. Where am I going to find all of these people that think I’m interesting enough to follow me every time I post, tweet or update my status somewhere?

I’m a follower of Jay Dolan’s Anti-Social Media blog.  His post “No One Will Hang Out With Me on Google+” hit home. No one will hang out with me either.  In fact, I don’t even know where to go to find people to ask.  The idea that I have to be popular in the social media world to generate site traffic irks me.  I’m a busy person.  If I have to spend my time tweeting, linking, sharing and plussing, I won’t have time to write these insightful, entertaining posts or play Words With Friends.

It’s A Crazy, Wacky World We Live In 

My number one pet peeve of the week was all of the negative publicity Steven Tyler got after singing the National Anthem at the AFC Championship on Sunday.  The LA Times is taking a poll to find out if people think it’s the worst ever. Give me a break!

If you ask Steven Tyler to sing the National Anthem at a ball game he is going to sound like Steven Tyler when he does it.  I don’t see any way around that one.  The phrase most used to describe his performance was that he ‘butchered’ the song.  I didn’t think so.

People that think he butchered the song either a.) don’t know who Steven Tyler is or b.) are jealous of the 63 years old rock star worth 0 million that can stand on a football field in the freezing cold and belt out the Anthem.   The comments sections below the articles I read show that Steven still has a huge fan base and nearly everyone defended his performance.

Also, have you ever noticed how every time a performer is dissed because of they way they sang the anthem people still bring up the Roseanne Barr? That’s tiring.

It’s Hard To Escape The Wackiness

It’s hard to escape the deluge of constant information.  Some days I feel like checking out completely.  What would a day without texts, tweets, shares, likes and links be like? Peaceful. Tranquil. Stress-free.  Q-U-I-E-T.

Do you agree with me?  If you do, be sure and click one of the social sharing buttons below.  I would love it if you tweeted or shared my blog with the rest of the world.  If you’re on Google+ be sure and click that one. I’m trying to get Google to like me again.  Thank you.

My Cat Toby and Paula Deen Have Something in Common

Toby Has Some Lifestyle Changes To Make

Diabetes Isn’t Fun For Felines Either 

Toby, our large, cuddly, purring, yellow tabby that has been with our family since my daughters were in grade school was diagnosed with diabetes this week.  We knew the diagnosis was coming.  All of the symptoms were there: unquenchable thirst, frequent urination, loss of appetite.

As much as we knew that we were going to be given the news of that particular disease, we were still hoping that maybe it was something else.  Something easier to manage.  Something that wouldn’t mean daily injections, a change in diet, and the worry as to how his body will handle the illness.

My husband said – the day before he was to go to the vet – that he thought Toby seemed better.  Maybe he didn’t need to go.  In a word, we were in denial.  As Toby’s parents, we had not done anything to prevent him from developing diabetes. It’s rather common in older cats that have been fed commercial cat food their entire lives.

Veterinarian Elizabeth Hodgkins has done extensive research on feline diabetes and says that the “massive amounts of cereal” in dry cat foods puts too many carbohydrates in the diet. It is the abundance of carbs in the food that causes the ailment.  She believes that a change in diet alone will not only prevent, but also treat feline diabetes. Cat owners that put their pets on a reduced carbohydrate diet can even rid them of their insulin dependency.

In Cats and Humans, Diabetes Is On The Rise

We’ve all heard about the increase in the number of cases of Type 2 Diabetes in the American population, particularly in children.  It seems cats and children in the United States are on the same path.  But why is that?

Let’s look at some of the risk factors that are known to lead to Type 2 Diabetes in people .  The first three are factors that we have no control over:

  • Genetics is believed to be the strongest link.  You may be predispositioned to the disease if your mother or father was diabetic.
  • Aging – The risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes begins to rise at age 45.  The risk rises considerably after the age of 65.
  • Ethnicity – African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans and Japanese Americans have a great risk of developing the disease than non-Hispanic whites.

Some Things We Can Change

This is a list of risks that we can control for the most part:

  • High blood pressure
  • High blood triglyceride (fat) levels
  • Gestational diabetes (giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds)
  • High-fat diet
  • High alcohol intake
  • Sedentary lifestyle

Fighting Complacency

Being diagnosed, or having a loved one diagnosed, with diabetes no longer sounds the alarm the way it once did.  Because the disease is so prevalent in our society and we have easy-to-administer medications to treat it, when we hear about someone being newly diagnosed, our response is usually a yawn.

But it shouldn’t be.  We should be raising our children with an awareness of how important it is to eat nutritious foods that are low in fat, cholesterol, salt and sugar, and emphasize the value of physical activity.  As adults we have a responsibility to keep our blood pressure in check, watch our consumption of alcohol and fat intake.

We may not realize that our behaviors today may lead to Type 2 Diabetes down the road. Having a doctor deliver that news, however, is a life-changing experience. Once a person is diagnosed with diabetes their life involves continuous monitoring of blood sugars, often times daily injections of insulin, along with watching for symptoms of hyperglycemia (high) and hypoglycemia (low) blood sugars and controlling the highs and lows so that serious health problems don’t develop such as heart disease and damage to the nerves and kidneys.

No Big Surprise

Last week the world-wide-web was aflutter with the news of Paula Deen’s announcement that she has Type 2 Diabetes.  There were plenty of nasty attacks directed at the Southern Belle.  Some, I think, were overly harsh and unwarranted.  My reaction, and that of a member of the wellness team where I work, was a yawn.  Surely no one is really surprised.

Some of the negative media attention came from her waiting over two years to disclose to the public that she had been diagnosed as she worked through a partnership with a drug company that makes – you guessed it – diabetes medications.

We know the impact that a diet that has an abundance of salt, sugar, calories and fat will have on our waistline and our health.  I think that when the news broke about Paula, although people weren’t shocked, they were disappointed with her reluctance to admit that many of her own actions led to her disease.  She seemed unwilling to connect the dots for her audience.  People wanted to hear a clear-cut “I’m going to clean up my act and I want you to too,” statement from Paula.   None came.

Cleaning Up Toby’s Act

Over the years we’ve been guilty of putting food in the bowl for Toby even when we knew he was gaining weight, becoming less active, and eating out of boredom.  But he was so persistent and annoying with his begging and pestering that we succumbed to it. We are a family of individuals that cannot even stand up to a cat.

Now, unfortunately, because of us – the people he depends on for everything – he has an illness that can shorten his life, or at the very least diminish the quality of it.  I’m going to apologize to him for that as soon as he returns home from his stay at the animal hospital.   I’m also going to make sure he abides by his newly prescribed diet and gets his medicine.  I may even see if I can get him to take a walk with me on the dreadmill.

Five Tips To Combat The Effects Of Food Porn

Surround Yourself With Fruits and Vegetables For Visual Stimulation Instead of Cake

Do You Gain Weight Just Looking At A Piece of Chocolate Cake? Use Reverse Psychology.

Have you ever heard someone say that they gain weight just by looking at chocolate cake? That statement has more truth to it than once realized. A recent study at Max Planck Institute has determined that looking at pictures of tempting, delicious, high calorie foods may trigger hunger and cravings that ultimately hamper our ability to control our weight.

Researchers at Max-Planck Institute claim that they have proven scientifically that looking at delicious food stimulates the appetite and can result in overeating, or eating too much of the wrong foods. The study, conducted on healthy young males, tested the amount of the neurosecretory protein hormone ghrelin in the blood before and after they were shown pictures of yummy looking foods. The researchers found that the visual stimulation caused an increase in the release of ghrelin. Ghrelin is responsible for controlling both eating behavior and food metabolism. Max Plank scientists concluded that the overwhelming presence of food advertisements on T.V., in magazines and on the internet “could contribute to weight increase in Western populations”.

We may not be able to completely eliminate seeing pictures of foods that are on our ‘don’t‘ list, but we can counteract the effects by limiting our contact with food pornography whenever possible. Take action to avoid internet sites where you know the foods you’re trying to limit will be shown, leave the room when fast-food ads come on T.V., and steer clear of magazines and cooking channels that are loaded with high-fat, bad-for-you food art.

Five Ways To Un-Do Unwanted Appetite Stimulation

If seeing pictures of high-calorie foods cause us to crave just that, wouldn’t the opposite be true? It stands to reason that if we fill our world with photos of fruits, vegetables and whole grains those are the foods we’ll be motivated to eat. I’m suggesting we do an experiment similar to the one at Max Planck Institute. Try the following five suggestions this week and see if your motivation to eat more fruits and vegetables increases.

1. Select a screen saver for your computer at home and at work that shows a display of beautiful fruits and vegetables in a bowl or prepared in a dish. You should be able to copy the pictures I have loaded on this post (if you’d like) or find some at your favorite screen saver site. If you get bored with one screensaver, load up another for a couple of days.

2. Find between ten to fifteen pictures of healthy foods to cut out of a magazine, or print off from your computer and create a vision board.  Put the board in a visible place where you’ll see it several times a day. You may want to make one for home and one for work both with different images. For more information on how to make a vision board, click here.

3. Befriend “Five A Day, The Fun Way” on Facebook. Reminders on eating more fruits and veggies and suggestions on ways to incorporate them into your diet will come to your news feed. The Five A Day Facebook page promotes healthy foods and recipes, and has great suggestions for dealing with those pesky holidays that come along and mess things us. I think the next one is Valentine’ s Day.

4. Put a bowl of real fruit on your counter top at home. Load it with apples, oranges, bananas, grapes and whatever else you like. Do the same thing with vegetables. Clean carrots, cherry tomatoes and mini sweet peppers and put them in a bag where they will be visible when you open the door to the fridge. On your way out of the door in the morning it will be easy to grab a couple of each. You’ll be surprised how fast these foods disappear when they are in clear view.

5. Bookmark the Whole Foods web site in your browser. Next time you’re looking for a new recipe click on the Recipes tab at Whole Foods rather than surf the web where you’re sure to stumble on those food porn sites that get us into trouble.

Let me know if these tips work for you. If you have some of your own that I haven’t mentioned, please share in the comment box. I’d love to hear what you do to stay away from sites like Cakes&

There’s Nothing Like A Contest With A $2,000 Prize To Get The Creative Juices Flowing

To Find Out How To Cash In On Your New Year’s Resolutions, Keep Reading

You’ve made your New Year’s Resolutions and many of you – I’m ready to bet – will be using technology applications of one kind or another to help you keep them.  Create a two minute video that shows how that techy stuff you’re doing is helping you reach your goals and you might be able to win some money.

The Healthy New Year Video Challenge (“the Challenge”) is being launched by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology which is an arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  To enter you’ll need to produce a two minute video of how you will use technology to better manage your health and accomplish your resolutions. Of course you’ll want your video to be creative, enlightening, specific and convincing.

The deadline to submit your creation is February 16, 2012 by 5 p.m.  The first place winner receives $2,000; second place $1,000 and third $500.  There are three honorable mentions at $250 each and one popular choice prize of $750. had a similar contest that focused on eating fruits and vegetables.  The winning video was catchy and down-to-earth. You can watch the winning MyPlate video (below) to get an idea of how this works.  Keep in mind submissions in this contest were only 30 seconds.  The Challenge gives you a little more time to tell your story.  All of the MyPlate video winners can be viewed here.


We’ve talked a lot about using technology to help you reach your goals here at Put That Cookie Down Now!  If you need some ideas for your video, check out some of the previous posts related to technology.

For a complete list of rules for the Challenge check out the Healthy New Year Challenge Site.

Good Luck!!

Nineteen Days Into The New Year. Are The New Year’s Resolutions Still In Tact?

Flickr photo by juliejordanscott

Create Your Vision.  Reach Your Goals

I’ve been trying to get the hang of Pinterest.  I’ve only pinned a couple of things so far but I’ve looked at some of the boards and categories.  To me it looks like a huge collection of vision boards.  It’s fun to look at how creative and unusual some of the boards are and how revealing they are as to individual personalities.  No two boards look or feel the same. It is quite a remarkable concept and may help people reach their goals and make their dreams reality without them even realizing it.

Universal Law of Attraction

Vision boards have long been used for various reasons, but primarily to provide visual inspiration to help people stay on track with their goals.  Some people adamantly believe that if you create a vision board filled with the things that you want to have or achieve in your life and put it in a conspicuous place where you’ll see it daily, the images on the board will begin to become realities in your life.

The theory is based on the Law of Universal Attraction.  Simply put, “like attracts like”.  Positive and negative thinking bring about positive or negative results.  The way to change the outcome of a situation or turn a dream in reality is to create positive emotional energy around it.  If the images that have been placed on the board generate passion in you when you look at them, you’ll be more successful in making those visions come to life.

Remember “The Secret”?

“The Secret” was based on the Law of Attraction and was rampantly popular a few years ago in both book and movie form.  “The Secret” proposed that people have hidden, untapped powers that when discovered and applied in a positive way will change every aspect of their life for the better.

People believe that applying the principles in the book are life-changing.  I recall meeting some friends after work one evening for a glass of wine a few years ago at the time when the popularity of the book was at its height, and one of my friends brought the book with her to show the rest of us.  She was reading “The Secret” and applying the principles and absolutely believed that her life was changing as a result of it.

Flickr Photo by WiseWellWoman

I remember creating vision boards when I was in junior high school.  I didn’t know that’s what I was doing, but I loved to look at magazines and would cut out pictures of clothes I liked, guys I thought were cute, my favorite musicians, the car I wanted to drive and the collie dog I wanted to have when I got married.  I would place the pictures on a poster board and hang it in my room where I could enjoy looking at all of those pictures of things that inspired me every day.  Every few months I would change some of the pictures or the color of the board. I had no knowledge of the theories surrounding vision boards, but undeniably, the boards gave me energy. Why else would I have continued to create them?

How Are Your Resolutions Holding Up?  

Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself:

Do you remember what it was on December 31, 2011 that you decided you wanted to change by December 31, 2012?

For the remainder of the year, if you keep doing what you’re doing now, will you be successful in achieving what you resolved to?

Are you already feeling less motivated in reaching that goal than you did 18 days ago?

To secure your success with reaching the goals you’ve set for 2012 it may be that a concept as simple as a vision board will help you channel that positive energy so that you’ll continue to tackle those resolutions and you will get the change that you want in your life this year and in years to come.

Let’s just say, hypothetically, my goal is to give up ‘fast food’.  That means no drive-throughs, heat and eat stuff from the grocery or processed grains.  My vision board around that goal would be filled with pictures of delicious looking fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and pictures of families sitting together at mealtime eating beautifully prepared dishes that I imagine coming from my own kitchen.  I might have photos of fabulous, healthy looking people that eat a healthy diet.  Maybe even some images of the things that I will reward myself with every time I reach a milestone.  I might fill the board with other things that inspire me and will help move me towards my goal as well. There are no limits to what can go on the board.

You can go at this the old way.  Visit the local Wal Mart or art store and purchase foam board, construction paper and two sided tape.  Then start going through some of your favorite magazines and cut out the pictures that inspire you and place them on the foam.  Hang the board in a place where you will see if every day; by the bathroom mirror, near your desk at work, in front of the treadmill.  Put it in a place where you can rely on it for constant encouragement.

There are some techier ways to create a board via dowloadable Smartphone and iPhone apps. Vision Board Deluxe can be downloaded from the Happy Tapper for $.99 for iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad  and the Intention Vision Board Deluxe app for smartphones for $1.99.

I’m not sure the phone app would trigger the same emotions as a board I made myself would.  Creating the board is similar to scrapbooking.  The process of finding the pictures and building the collage is powerful in itself.

Or, you can set up an account in Pinterest and utilize the tools that are provided there to make a vision board that the world can see.

If you feel you’re losing your momentum on your resolutions less than a month into the new year a vision board can be one more tool in your arsenal of self-improvement weaponry.

Desperately Trying To Fall In Love . . . With Zumba.

Flickr photo by Cimm

The Zumba Craze That Has Swept The Planet Has Captured Everyone But Me

Why am I having so much trouble falling in love with Zumba?  I’m a step-junkie, boot camp-aholic and like Turbo Kick but I don’t get the Zumba craze.  The popularity of the Latin dance fitness party that has swept the country is a mystery to me.

I went to a Zumba class yesterday.  This wasn’t my first.  I’ve taken several different classes with various instructors.  Overall, I’m not a fan of dance-style workouts or classes where you do the same ‘routine’ for several weeks in a row.  My biggest beef with Zumba however is the hype over it. That, along with the all of the Zumba gear that the instructors wear, and the claims that you burn 800 calories a workout leaves me unimpressed.

Not All Zumba Classes Are Created Equal

There are some things about Zumba that strike me as being a little off the beam and don’t really line up with the advertisements you see about the program.

The official Zumba web site says that the basic instructor course teaches four basic rhythms that you will learn how to put together into a song to create your first Zumba class.  After attending the training you are certified to teach Zumba for one year.  There are no prerequisites to become certified except taking the training.

There is a huge variation between levels of instruction not dissimilar to what you find with any other fitness class that you attend.  After completing the training, It is entirely up to the instructor to make it work and to motivate the class.

I have been to a Zumba class where hip-hop dance steps were done to top 40 music.  We moved to Justin Beiber’s “Baby” and Ciara’s “Hotline”. This class did not use Latin music and did not incorporate any moves that resembled a salsa or a mamba.  The class would not be recognizable as Zumba except that the instructor wore the popular Zumba gear.

The class I went to yesterday was taught by an instructor also outfitted in Zumba pants, tank and head wrap.  She went from song to song working through a series of  Latin-style dances without a breakdown of any of the movements or doing any cuing. We were in a large space.  She didn’t wear a mic and did not speak to the class throughout the session.  There wasn’t even a shout out of “great job you guys!”  The people that have been coming to her class followed along and were enjoying themselves.  The rest of us were lost.

I have been to other fitness classes where I didn’t get a great workout, the instructor didn’t connect with the class and the cuing was weak. That happens. For some reason I don’t expect it with Zumba.

Calorie Burn

The Zumba web site says that the number of calories burned per class varies per person but you can burn “hundreds of calories per class”.  These claims are also made by some of the instructors.  During one class I attended the instructor said that you burn around 800 calories per hour.  I believe this to be an absolutely false statement.

The number of calories an individual burns, whether they are in a fitness class or sitting in a chair, is so individual it’s impossible to claim that people will burn a certain number of calories doing the workout  Calorie burn is based on Basal Metabolic Index which is as individual as a fingerprint.  No two people are the same.

Still, studies have been shown to draw conclusions that we can come close to determining how many calories we burn based on age and weight. A 160 pound person burns approximately 533 calories during one hour of high impact aerobics.  That same person would burn 365 calories an hour in low impact aerobics, which is what I consider Zumba to be. How much the individual is putting into the workout, and what they get their heart rate up to are also determining factors. People that weigh more burn more calories; people that weigh less burn less.

So what’s the problem with instructors promoting that the class burns 800 calories an hour?  If the people attending the class are there because they want to lose weight it gives them the liberty to increase the amount of food they eat so that the calories-in, calories-out deficit isn’t sufficient to cause weight loss. To say 800 calories are burned is misleading. It’s also over promising and it waters down the credibility of the entire program in the same way an instructor teaching Zumba to Justin Beiber does.

What’s Right With Zumba

Zumba is reaching a segment of the population that hasn’t been reached before.  People that might be intimidated working out on their own in a gym, or joining higher intensity classes can go to Zumba and have fun moving around for an hour.  The classes are predominantly large so even if you’ve never done it before, you can sneak into the back row and follow along inconspicuously.

A workout movement that gets people exercising two or three hours a week that might not otherwise not get that amount of physical activity is a definite positive.  Two to three hours of moderate physical activity a week goes a long way towards improving overall health.

The Zumba Story

The creator of Zumba, Alberto Perez, created the class by accident when he forgot the music C.D. he needed to teach his evening aerobics class.  He hunted around in his car for music to use and ended up dropping in a C.D. filled with mostly Latin music from which he ad-libbed some dance moves to go with  His class loved it and the craze began.

That was in Columbia in 1996.  Since that time the workout party has swept the planet and is taught in 105 countries with an estimated 7.5 million attendees. A look at the web site leaves no doubt that Zumba is a huge money-making machine. sells instructor trainings, Zumba clothes, workout DVDs and music, toning sticks, and even a magazine.

Is It Just Me?

There has been so much excitement about what an awesome, calorie burning workout Zumba is. I know people that are fully engulfed in the Zumba craze and fitness instructors that live and breathe it.  It is the class with highest attendance at the Y where I teach and has been since it was  introduced there.

So why can’t I fall in love with it?  I think it’s the overpromise, under-deliver factor.  I always expect a great, energizing, intense workout, but what I usually get is a series of memorized dance steps that I find it impossible to get my heart rate up doing.  I’m certain there are some excellent Zumba instructors out there in those 105 countries, but I think it’s hit and miss. My experience with Zumba is that it under delivers and doesn’t live up to the hype.

Are Americans Getting Too Healthy For Twinkies and Ho Hos?

Flickr Photo by Like_The_Grand_Canyon

Hostess Has Filed Chapter 11. Have Americans Eaten Enough Crap?

Hostess, the makers of Wonder Bread and Twinkies, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  According to the Washington Post, Hostess cites high labor costs and the rising costs of sugar and flour as the reason for the filing.

Some web sites are posting articles that express fear that Americans are getting so healthy they no longer want to eat white bread and Ho Hos.  I have a feeling the company’s financial woes has more to do with the cost of labor and sugar, as the Post stated.

One article on Yahoo News states that health nuts and unions have caused Hostess’ bankruptcy and the author goes on to say that they don’t buy Twinkies anymore because they don’t want their children to eat them and that there are healthier choices. I think some of Hostess’ problem may be revealed in the last part of that statement. There are healthier options.

What’s in a Twinkie?

Here’s the list of the 37 ingredients that go together to make a Twinkie.  The list comes from from  If you visit the web site you’ll find a visual of all of these ingredients.

Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour [Flour, Reduced Iron, B Vitamins (Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Folic Acid)], Corn Syrup, Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable and/or Animal Shortening (Soybean, Cottonseed and/or Canola Oil, Beef Fat), Whole Eggs, Dextrose. Contains 2% or Less of: Modified Corn Starch, Glucose, Leavenings (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Baking Soda, Monocalcium Phosphate), Sweet Dairy Whey, Soy Protein Isolate, Calcium and Sodium Caseinate, Salt, Mono and Diglycerides, Polysorbate 60, Soy Lecithin, Soy Flour, Cornstarch, Cellulose Gum, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Sorbic Acid (to Retain Freshness), Yellow 5, Red 40.

There are 150 calories in one cake.

You Can’t Unknow What You Know

A few years ago Steve Ettlinger wrote the book “Twinkie, Deconstructed” which broke down the ingredients in Twinkies and other highly processed foods.  Up to this point people may not have given too much thought as to what was actually in a Twinkie, but the book was quite an eye-opener. It revealed that some of the ingredients are derivatives of petroleum and gypsum. For Hostess to undo the damage of that information becoming public would be nearly impossible.

Flickr photo by carringtonvanston says that over the next few years the current diet craze will swing to the other end and people will start eating white bread and cupcakes again. She thinks that until then we all need to support Hostess.  Apparently, she’s not up to speed on the health problems of the country and the rising cost of obesity and diseases linked to it that are largely due to the rampant consumption of highly processed foods.

People are wary of eating foods with ingredients they can’t pronounce and because there are so many healthier snack choices on the market, they don’t have to. Now that we’ve learned that a ‘food’ that contains 37 ingredients isn’t good for us why would we continue to eat it?

Who cares that Hostess has filed for bankruptcy (again)?  Maybe this will serve as a wake-up call to a company that continues to churn out crap like Twinkies and Snowballs.


Incredibly Thin and Deliciously Irresistible . . . . Coming Soon to a Workspace Near You

Flickr photo by Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar

The Annual Girl Scout Cookie Sale Starts Today . . . .
I’ll get some Thin Mints but I won’t eat them.  I’ll and put them in the freezer.

By this time next week every employee breakroom in the northern hemisphere will have at least one Girl Scout Cookie order form.  I’ve heard rumors of a new cookie this year, but a spokesperson from our local council said that’s not really true.  There are two bakers that make the GS cookies and our area is using a baker that they haven’t used in years past – or at least recently – so an old cookie will seem new.  New to us anyway.

The History of Girl Scout Cookies at My House
Not only were my daughters Girl Scouts, they were the top cookie sellers in their troop because my husband and I would take the order forms to work.  We were always amazed at how fast those forms filled up!  People wait all year for them to go on sale.  Everyone was so generous in purchasing multiple boxes from my girls, It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t return the favor and buy a couple of boxes from my worker-mom friends. To put in the freezer, of course.

I Feel Obligated To Enlighten You
If you want the scoop on how many calories are in these wonderful once-a-year delights, keep reading.  If you believe ignorance is bliss, click here.

Let’s start with the all time favorite and work down.

  • Thin Mints: Serving Size – 4 cookies for 160 calories and 8 grams of fat
  • Samoas:  Serving Size – 2 cookies for 140 calories and 7 grams of fat
  • Trefoils (shortbread): Serving Size – 4 cookies for 120 calories and 4.5 grams of fat
  • Do-si-dos (peanut butter sandwich): Serving Size – 3 cookies for 160 calories and 6 grams of fat
  • Tagalongs (peanut butter patty):  Servings Size – 2 cookies for 108 calories and 8 grams of fat
  • Dulce de Leche: Serving Size – 4 cookies for 160 calories and 8 grams of fat
  • Lemonades:  Serving Size – 2 cookies for 150 calories and 7 grams of fat
  • Shout Outs!:  Serving Size – 4 cookies for 130 calories and 5 grams of fat
  • Thanks-a-Lot: Serving Size – 2 cookies for 150 calories and 6 grams of fat
  • Thank U Berry Munch: Serving Size – 2 cookies for 120 calories and 5 grams of fat
  • Savannah Smiles (the new cookie): 5 cookies for 140 calories and 5 grams of fat

I notice that the new kid on the block – the Savannah Smiles – has a serving size of five cookies for 140 calories.  They must be itty-bitty.

Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers)

Q.  How many Girl Scout cookies can a gal/guy eat in one sitting?
A.  If it’s the Thin Mints, probably the whole sleeve.  They are incredibly addicting!

Q.  What should my daily limit be?
A.  That’s totally up to the individual and depends on how many extra calories you want to have to work off every day.  Unfortunately the calories-in, calories-out scientific stuff applies to GS cookies too.

Q. How can we administer effective portion control methods?
A.  I have no clue.  Put them on a smaller plate maybe?

How Are You Going To Put Down These Cookies?!?
I apologize that I don’t have some amazingly effective strategies to help you put down the Girl Scout cookies.  I know freezing them doesn’t work.  The Thin Mints are just as good frozen.  Refusing to buy them would be a good strategy, but they turn up everywhere you go so that would only help a little.

Do consider yourself duly warned that they are headed your way.  If you have found an effective way to put ‘em down, please let the rest of know what your secret is!


Getting A Handle On Sodium, Sugar and Fats Can Be Easy. There’s An App For That!

Sodium, Fat and Sugar.  How Much Is Too Much?

Now that we know what exercise regimes some of our favorite celebrities are doing, you just have to figure that besides the yoga, Pilates and Budokon, what they’re eating  is playing a huge role in their overall health and wellness plan.

It’s a new year and many people have resolved to eat better than they did last.  But what exactly does eat better mean?  More fruits and veggies, whole grains instead of refined flours, less sugar, salt and fat?

Setting a goal to add more fruits and vegetables to the diet and replace white bread with whole-wheat is probably easier than reducing fat, sugar and salt intake.  But cutting back on the three diet wreckers can be easier than you think!

First, let’s look at the guidelines for the three nutritional ‘evils’ in our diet so we have a place to start.

Sodium – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) sets the guidelines for recommended amounts of sodium.  The USDA has set the maximum amount at 2,300 milligrams a day and 1,500 mg/day for people that have a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease.  The at-risk group would include people middle aged and older, African-Americans and people with high blood pressure.  It is worth noting that the American Heart Association says the amount should be set at less than 1,500 for everyone.

It’s easy to spot some high-sodium offenders like pretzels, salted peanuts and canned soups but some seemingly healthy foods are deceiving.  Lean Cuisine’s Baha Style Chicken has 690 mg of sodium, Kellogg’s Raisin Bran has 350 mg, and a Lender’s Whole Grain Plain Bagel has 490 mg.  So selecting foods that appear to be low-fat, high fiber, and otherwise good for us may still have too much salt.

Sugar – The average American consumes more than 20 teaspoons of sugar per day.  Although there is not an official recommendation by the USDA, the agency suggests a  maximum of 40 grams or about 10 teaspoons per day.  The guideline is based on a 2,000 calorie a day diet.

Just to give you an idea of how hard it might be to stay within that guideline, there are 59 grams, or about 14.5 teaspoons, of sugar in McDonalds sweet tea.  Yoplait yogurt has 27 grams and a bottle of Vitamin Water has 33.

Fat – The USDA recommends that Americans consume less than 10 percent of their calories from saturated fatty acids, less than 300 mg/day of cholesterol, and keep trans fats to an absolute minimum. Here’s a breakdown of fat consumption recommendations:

  • Total fat intake should make up between 20 – 35 percent of our daily calories. Most fats should be the polyunsaturated and monounsatured kind that are found in fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
  • Saturated fats should make up 10% or less of  our daily caloric intake.  Saturated fats are found in meat, cheese, ice cream, butter, full-fat milk and yogurt.
  • Trans fats are the big no-no. There is a zero tolerance for trans fats because they can lead to high cholesterol, obesity and heart disease.  Trans fats are found in foods that contain partially hydrogenated oils including many baked goods, crackers, chips, margarine and fast food product. These fats are fairly easy to recognize because they become solid at room temperate.  Some oils, however, are considered ‘solids’ because they contain trans fats:  coconut, palm, and palm kernel oil.

So now that we’re armed with information and are aware of the USDA guidelines it should be easy to figure out how much sodium, sugar and fat we’re ingesting everyday and cut back on them.

Traffic Light Shopping Card Shows Us The Good, The Bad, And the Ugly

There’s An App For That!
All of the above may seem like a bunch of gobbely gook to someone that’s not familiar with USDA guidelines, doesn’t have a degree in nutrition, and can’t spend valuable time tracking everything they eat. There’s a tool that simplifies the process and alerts us to foods that are too high in sodium, sugar, fat and saturates a glance.

The Traffic Light Food Shopping Card, a well-known visual tool, uses the colors red, yellow and green to designate high, medium and low levels of sodium, sugar and fat.  The good news is that it is now a Smartphone and iPhone app.

Download the Traffic Light Food Tracker app, use it to check out some of the labels on the foods that you have in your pantry, and take it to the store to see what you’re getting before you buy.  Enter the data from the label and the app tells you if you’re in the good, the bad or the ugly zone.  It can help you quickly deicide whether or not the food in question should be on the shopping list or in the kitchen.

Here’s Another Quick and Easy Nutrition De-Coder

Fooducate is another place to get feedback about nutrition. You can enter a food name, or scan a bar code and Fooducate gives the product a grade of ‘A’ through ‘F’.  It also alerts you to high sugar, sodium and fat content, food additives, and even refined flours. Fooducate has a web-site as well as a phone app.

I ran a few of my favorite snacks through the web site and was disappointed to the learn that the Fiber One Chewy Bars that I like so much gets a grade of D+ because of food additives, sugar and processed flour.  For anyone starting the No Fast Food For 10 Days Challenge, this would be an incredibly helpful app to have.

Do you have a favorite nutrition app that takes the guesswork out of the daily guidelines or helps you track your calories without pulling your hair out?  Drop a comment in the reply box and share.


Jennifer Aniston’s Workout and The Fitness Secrets of Five Other Celebrities

Flickr photo by manwithface

From Jennifer Aniston to Halle Berry.  How Do They Manage to Look So Good? 

Poking around the usual web sites today I came across an article where Kim Lyons, former Biggest Loser trainer, was talking about how when she trained with Jillian Michaels, Jillian would not cut her any slack on a treadmill workout.  She said Jillian would have her do level ten at 10-miles-an-hour.   Wow.  By my calculations that comes to a six minute mile!  Now I totally feel like a slacker.

But it peaked my curiosity enough to explore what some of my favorite celebrities do for their workouts.  You’d be surprised at some of them.  Here’s the low-down on my six favorite female celebs and what they do to stay in shape and looking great plus a video of three core yoga exercises you can do at home.

From Yogalosophy and Budokon to Parking The Car Farther Away In The Lot – Here’s The Scoop. 

Jennifer Aniston – Jennifer was recently voted best body by Yahoo/Fitness Magazine.  According to the survey, both men and women agree that Jen has the best body.  She even beat out Beyonce and Halle Berry.

Jennifer is a big fan of yoga and credits her trainer, Mandy Ingber, with bringing the “Yogalosophy” workout to into her life.  “Yogalosophy” combines true yoga poses and traditional toning exercises for a serious strength and flexibility workout. You can check out some clips from Mandy’s “Yogalosophy” on you tube and purchase the DVD at Collage for $9.99 plus shipping.

Jennifer also does cardio three times a week either on the treadmill or elliptical and practices Budokon with Cameron Shayne, a star trainer.  Budokon is a form of martial arts. Watch an excerpt from Cameron’s Budokon Strength and Balance DVD here.

Mary Helgenberger – Mary has always been my favorite and I’m sad that this her last season for CSI Las Vegas. She’s such an intelligent, low-key gal, plus she looks amazing in those tight black pants, leather jacket and heeled boots when she’s working out in the field on CSI.

Mary’s workout consists mostly of yoga two to three times a week and some free weight exercises in between.  She also says she meditates which is helpful for maintaining mental and emotional balance.

Valerie Bertinelli – Some of us remember Valerie before her  “Hot in Cleveland” fame when she starred in “One Day at a Time”.  Not only were we fascinated by her tumultuous marriage to rock guitarist Eddie Van Halen, but even more so with how she maintained her baby-face, good girl image through the years with the rock star.

She’s had her battle with yo-yo dieting and was recently the poster girl for Jenny Craig after losing 40 pounds on the popular weight loss plan.  Nowadays, according to Fitness Magazine, her workout consist of jogging a one-mile loop around her house wearing a weighted vest.  She even has a plan that she is dedicated to doing when she’s on the road which she shares on youtube.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Julia is most known for her role as Elaine on “Seinfeld” and more recently Christine on the “The New Adventures of Old Christine”.  As Christine she plays the owner of a Curves-type all-women’s fitness club, where, ironically, she never works out.

Julia, at age 48, was on the cover of Shape magazine in April, 2011.  You might think she would have a crazy rock-star workout routine, but mostly it’s working about five days a week on an elliptical in front of the T.V., or running outdoors and Pilates.

Sharon Stone – I would guess she’s in the gym five days a week doing some hard-core stuff but she’s quoted as saying she works out only as much as she has to.  The exact program is not revealed. She says she takes the stairs instead of the elevator and parks the car farther away from the door when shopping.

Since I wasn’t able to get any ‘real’ information about Sharon, I could have left her out but I thought she was worth mentioning. Just because she has decided not to dish on the what she does or does not do she’s still one of my favorites.

Halle Berry – At 44 Halle is stunning and thank goodness doesn’t mind sharing her fitness regime.  She follows Harley Pasternak’s 5-Factor Fitness plan which consists of cardio, strength training for both upper and lower body and core-training exercises. Halle also does kickboxing and hill climbing on the stairs or elliptical.

I visited the web site but it doesn’t give much insight into the actual program unless you sign up. The sight does give an extensive list of star clients including Lady Gaga, Dido, Katy Perry and John Mayer, so I’m betting it’s worth it.

Yoga, Pilates, and Strength Training Are The Common Themes

Just in case you’re motivated to try some rock star-style yoga, I’ve added a video from PopSugar Living of of three easy moves that target the abs and core.