Archives for April 2012

Once Again Dark Chocolate Passes The Heart Healthy Test

It’s Friday and I Have Good News

We’ve heard this before but I’m guessing we’ll never tire of it.  Dark Chocolate may lower the risk of heart disease.

A recent study was conducted by San Diego State University to determine the health benefits of dark chocolate.  The University took 31 people and divided them into two groups.  One group ate 50 grams of dark chocolate per day. The other ate 50 grams of white chocolate per.  Both consumed the chocolate for a total of 15 days.

The participants’ blood pressure, skin blood flow, lipid fat profiles and blood glucose levels were recorded before and after they ate the chocolate each day.  At the end of the project the data showed that the people that ate the dark chocolate had lower levels of blood glucose, and LDL (bad) cholesterol and higher levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.

Chocolove XOXO - A treat for the palate.

What Makes The Dark Chocolate So Special?

There’s a secret ingredient that is found only in dark chocolate: Flavanols.  Apparently the darker the chocolate the more flavanols there are to be found.  Milk chocolate and white chocolate just don’t cut it.  If you want the healthy side effects look for chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa (cacao).  Some of the most popular and easily found brands that hit the mark are:

  • Ghiradelli Intense Dark – Ghiradelli has two darks: Twilight Delight with 72% cacao and Midnight Reverie with 86%.  The Espresso Escape and Evening Dream are close.  Both have 60%.
  • Godiva – Godiva has two chocolate bars that have 72% cacao.  One with almonds and one plain.
  • Lindt  – Lindt is one of my favorites and they go really dark, from 70% cocoa all the way up to 99%.  I haven’t tried the 99% bar.  Is it possible for chocolate to have too much cocoa in it?
  • Hersheys – Hersheys has an extra dark line of chocolates but nothing over 60% cocoa.  It’s close to the goal but not quite there.

Some of the best dark chocolates aren’t found in the local grocery, although those listed above are all excellent. If you really want to treat your palate here are a couple chocolates to try.

Chocolove XOXOX has a variety of dark chocolate bars. The bar pictured above is one of my favorites and has 70% cocoa content. The best part is there’s a love poem inside the package. These can be purchased at Whole Foods, World Market at affiliates.

Organic Fair Trade Bar with Orange – Also 70% cocoa with orange peel. This bar is delicious.  I buy them at the local food co-op that carries a variety of organic chocolates.

Divine Dark Chocolate With Raspberries – Quite possibly my favorite chocolate bar. The combination of the bitter chocolate and tart raspberries is, well, divine. This is another chocolate bar that I find at the food co-op, but you can purchase on-line at their store. 

Divine dark chocolate is divine.

Please Don’t Take Back What You Said

So many of these research studies prove one thing and then another one is done and the outcome is different. Just this week the American Heart Association stated that the belief that good oral hygiene is related to good overall health and that brushing and flossing regularly can lower your risk of heart disease is not true.

I’ve been drinking coffee without guilt for a few years since one study after another began to prove that drinking coffee is good for your health. Coffee, minus the cream and sugar, helps with just about everything from decreasing the risk of Parkinson’s disease and some cancers to preventing diabetes.

The next study that comes out could show that this idea about the flavanols in dark chocolate being good for your heart is a bunch of hooey too. And, even if it is good for us, we don’t want to indulge in dark chocolate without abandon.  A 3-ounce Ghiradelli bar has about 210 calories and 23 grams of fat. Too much of it is going to be bad for our waistline.

In moderation however, dark chocolate is another guiltless pleasure like good red wine and coffee.  It’s meant to be savored and enjoyed.


With These Seven Strategies You’ll Win The Battle Of The Plateau

Seven Strategies That Will Put The Word Progress Back In Your Vocabulary

We’ve all been there.  We started taking a fitness class, or have successfully completed the couch to 5K program.  We’re losing weight, our clothes fit better and we feel great.  But then it all stops working for us; seemingly for no reason.

But there is a reason.  Our body has adjusted to the fitness class, the 3 mile run or whatever it is we’ve been doing that has us looking and feeling better.  What once seemed hard has become easy. The dreaded plateau has arrived and we’re stuck in the middle of it.  The plateau may be inevitable but it doesn’t have to be permanent.  We just need to find ways to re-challenge ourselves so that we can get out of the ditch and moving again. Here are seven strategies that will get you back on track.

1. Interval Training Using Speed Drills– Whether you’re walking or running, you can add speed intervals to your normal workout.   If you’re on a treadmill or outdoors you can mix things up in a variety of ways. To get started try incorporating speed drills every 60 seconds. Move along at your usual a pace for one minute, then walk or run fast enough that you’re out of your comfort zone – by that I mean pleasantly out of breath – for 15 seconds.  Repeat six times.  After you’re comfortable with the 15 second intervals, try to increase the speed drills to 30 seconds in length.

Tip – If you’re outdoors and don’t have a stop watch to track the intervals, pick a point that it should take you just a few second to get to, such as a stop sign or a bush, and run as fast as you can until you get there.  Slow down for about a minute and then pour it on until you get to the next sign or tree.

 2.  Interval Training Using Hill Climbs– Treadmills can be pre-set to take you through a series of incline intervals which makes hill climb interval training easy to set up.  Outdoors, find a hill and run or walk up it at a steady but sustainable pace, then turn around and go back to your starting point.  Repeat for a series of six to eight times.

Tip – Last summer I participated in a series of training runs that was offered through our local running club. The runs took place in a state park that had some nice hills for us to train on.  Our coach had us count the number of steps it took us to run up and back down the hill at our normal pace. Then she had us run up and back down again with a goal of increasing our foot turnover by at least 10.  In other words, go the same distance, but turn your feet over faster – as opposed to lengthening your stride – which will increase your speed without leaving you at risk for injury.

3.  Cardio-Strength Circuit Training – This program consists of three minutes of cardio, followed by three minute strength-training segments.  You can use a weighted bar or ball, a set of dumbbells or your own body weight to create the strength circuit.  A treadmill, jump rope, or jogging in place with jumping jack segments will work for the cardio part.

Some examples of strength moves would be squats, front, back and lateral lunges and dead lifts followed by shoulder presses, bicep curls, upper back flies, and tricep kick backs.  Push up, tricep dips, sit ups and planks are good body-weight exercises that can be incorporated.  Jillian Michael’s Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism workout is a good example of a cardio-strength training circuit.

  • Cardio-Strength Circuits Using Speed Drills –  for an even better calorie burn, throw some speed drills into the cardio portion of your circuits.

4.  Increased Duration Cardio Sets – You won’t want to do the speed drills every day.  On the days you’re not doing speed intervals, increase your steady state cardio workout by 15 minutes.  If your typical workout is a 30 minute walk or run on a treadmill or outdoors, increase it to 45 minutes once or twice a week. In the gym you can move from the treadmill to the bike or elliptical to put the extra time in and get some cross-training done.

Tip – When we reach a plateau, not only do we have to work harder, we have to stay at it longer. While it may not seem like much, adding two 15-minutes sessions for a total of 30 minutes a week to our normal workout can burn enough extra calories to push us over the hill.

5.  Add Strength Training – If you’re only doing cardio work you need to add some weight lifting to your weekly routine.  Increasing muscle mass is one of the best ways to keep your metabolism at its peak and it will give you that firm, toned looked that cardio alone won’t deliver.

Start with a plan to incorporate 15 minutes of strength training three times a week focusing primarily on large muscle groups:  Chest, back, quadriceps, hamstring, abs and glutes.  This is easy to get done if you belong to a gym.  If you’re working out at home you’ll need some dumbbells and a weighted bar.  I’ve found the best place to find pictures of strength exercises is at

6.  Re-evaluate Your Diet –The truth is you may be burning enough calories in your workouts, but you’ve become complacent about your diet.  Maybe you feel like you’ve reached a plateau when in fact you’re allowing extra calories to sneak into your day and they’re preventing further weight loss.

Start running your food through one of the calorie counter phone apps again to see if they’re in line with where they need to be for you to continue to lose that pound a week or maintain your weight where it is.  Combine this with one of the above tips and you’ll be on your way to reaching your goals again.

7.  Yoga–  One reason you maybe be stuck is because you’re overtraining, not stretching adequately after the workout and are mentally burnt out.  Yoga can help with all of these while increasing your strength, posture and mental sharpness.  Some signs that you’re overtraining include excessive fatigue, insomnia, and an increase in fat stores even though your workouts are adequate. 

Doing a yoga workout at least once a week in place of one of your other programs will help your muscles recover, get your attention back to center and put your body through a much needed series of holding stretches that will help you feel and look better.

If you haven’t done yoga before I think you’ll like Kathy Smith’s Yoga Sculpt DVD that I wrote about here.  You might also like Rodney Yee’s A.M. Yoga For Your Week which has five 20-minute workouts.  You can purchase Rodney Yee’s DVDs at Amazon or watch at Gaiam TV.

Don’t Wait To Be Inspired. 

Whether you’re bored, frustrated or just plain fatigued, don’t let a weight-loss or exercise plateau discourage you.  Plateaus are common and it’s a mistake to allow them to be an excuse for giving up. Mixing up your workouts by going faster, farther or finding something completely different to do is the key to making sure you continue to reap the benefits of all of the hard work you’ve already done. Don’t wait for inspiration to hit you.  Go after it with a club.  Try a couple – or all – of these suggestions.  You’ll move beyond the plateau and get your mojo back.


The Seven Best Totally Free Workouts on You Tube

Bored With The Gym and Your Workout DVD Collection?
Shake Things Up With My Seven You Tube Picks

If you belong to a gym or have a collection of workout-at-home DVDs, at some point you need something different that stimulates you both physically and mentally. Here’s a list of the seven best and totally free workouts that you can find in their entirety on You Tube by following the links I’ve provided.  Not only will these workouts kick your butt, they won’t cost you a dime.

Just can't face one more boring workout?

  1. Steve Maresca Cardio – I’m not going to save the best for last because I know not everyone will read to the end.  My favorite Exercise TV star was Steve Maresca and his “Cardio” workout is the best. The only equipment you need it a weighted ball.  If you sit in a chair and watch the workout it doesn’t seem like it would be too tough, but it really catches up to by the time he goes through the workout the second time.  The first time through he demonstrates all of the exercise at a reasonably slow pace.  In round two he picks up the pace and there’s very little downtime.  It’s grueling! Total workout time: 42 minutes.  Link to it here.
  2. Step Aerobics with Jenny Ford – This is your basic step class with 32 count patterns broken down and then added to plus it shows some nice combinations that work well for an intermediate stepper.  I’ve seen a lot of step demonstrations on You Tube that are so complex it would take you a couple of weeks just to learn the choreography unless you’re an advanced stepper.  This is achievable and at the same time interesting.  Jenny puts the full 60-minute workout on You Tube.  Maybe only step junkies can totally appreciate this. Check our other Jenny Ford workouts by at her You Tube channel.
  3. Pilates 30 Minute Workout From eFit30 –  This is one of a series of eFit30 Pilates workouts that you can access through You Tube.  The workout that I’ve linked to focuses on six pack abs and is an intermediate to advanced Pilates workout with excellent demonstration and cueing.  If you love Pilates, this will give you everything you need.
  4. Jillian Michaels Banish Fat Boost Metabolism – You always know what you’re going to get with This-Is-Not-Your-Mother’s-Workout Jillian (whatever that means).  This is a tough workout that seems doable but catches up with you before you get to the end.  The Banish Fat workout doesn’t have complex moves that you have to stand and watch to figure out so you can move the whole time.  Squats, burpees, and lots of plyometrics.  I was pleased to find this workout on You Tube.  I’m not Jillian’s biggest fan but she does deliver.  Total workout:  46 minutes.
  5. Chris Powell  – This a cool series of workouts by Chris Powell of “Extreme Makeover Weight Loss” fame.  The link here will take you to Workout Level 3.  All of the moves are explained, broken down and shown with modifications.  There is no complex choreography and Chris delivers the workouts with a ton of passion and enthusiasm.  If you find Jillian a little intimidating this is the workout for you. It’s not boot camp, but it gets the job done. Link to the level 3 workout is here.
  6. Full Total Body Workout 2-2 in 30 Minutes by eFit 30 – eFit 30 has a variety of programs that you can access from You Tube. The 2-2 in 30 focuses on strength training starting with a clean and press, split squat with row and ball push ups.  It wraps up with core work.  For the 2-2 30 minute workout you’ll need an exercise ball and a set of dumbbells.  The exercises are not done to music so they move at a slower pace.  That’s not a bad thing. Demonstration and safety cues are complete.
  7. Billy Blanks Jump Start Cardio – I know that the Billy Blanks series has been around for a few years but does it ever go out of style?  I love this Tae Bo Amped collection where Billy uses the weighted bar.  I don’t know if it’s the constant counting out loud, super fit bodies working out with him, or a combination of the two, but I’m not tired of these workouts yet. All of Billy Blanks Tae Bo series can be found on You Tube.

For more free – or nearly free – options you can link to a post I wrote a few months ago when I learned that Exercise TV had vanished.

I’m easily bored and always looking for something new – or something old that I haven’t seen before – to motivate me.  What have I missed?  Do you have a favorite workout on You Tube that I can get for free?


Learn The Secret To The Most Flavorful Black Bean Burger

Black Beans Make A Burger That’s Healthy and Loaded With Nutrition. 

Not all that long ago beans were the food that weren’t that good for you and if you ate too many they’d make you fat.  That was before food scientists began studying the nutritional make-up of the foods that we eat.  Beans, also known as legumes, are now considered to be a healthy food that is inexpensive, high in nutrition and should be in every (wo)man’s diet.

There’s even research that suggests that black beans are good for the digestive tract and colon and are key to preventing disease and optimizing health.  Also, canned beans don’t have the tendency to lose their nutritional value like other vegetables do.  Beans are also a good replacement for meat in the diet because they provide protein and nutrients not found in other foods.

What’s Your Favorite Bean?

Mine is the black bean.  I started making very simple, but delicious, black-bean with red pepper nachos a few years ago and that’s what got me hooked on black beans.  Now I’m working on perfecting my black bean burgers and I think I’ve found the secret ingredient which just happens to be the red pepper that enhances the flavor of the beans in the nachos.  The nacho recipe is coming soon.  Here’s the black bean burger recipe.


The black beans add texture and flavor to the burgers


Black beans – 2 cans (drained and rinsed)
Mushrooms – 4 or 5 large
Red pepper – one half of a large
Red onion – less than a half
Oatmeal – ¼ of a cup
*the oatmeal replaces the bread crumbs you see in many black bean burger recipes.
Garlic powder
Cilantro – about a tablespoon
Salt and pepper to taste
Whole wheat burger buns
Sliced red onion
Yellow mustard

Put the ingredients in a food processor one at a time in this order:  oatmeal, mushrooms, red pepper, black beans.  I finely chopped the red onion by hand.

In a large bow, mix all of the ingredients with the garlic, cilantro and salt and pepper. Press into patties.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Turn and bake for 15 more.

Red onion, lettuce and mustard garnish the burger.

The burgers are delicious on a whole wheat bun with sliced red onion and mustard. I served the burgers with a fruit salad that included kiwi, mandarin oranges, fresh strawberries, banana and fresh squeezed lime on a bed of lettuce.

For a flavor burst, squeeze juice from a fresh lime over the salad

Black bean burgers are high in protein and low in fat.  A perfect combination. I made an extra burger so that I would have one to take for lunch the next day. Black beans are also delicious in chili and soup.  Check out my black bean chili recipe here.

Find Out How Being A Fan Of My Facebook Page Will Increase Your Productivity By 16%

Becoming A Fan Of Mine Will Actually Help You. 

If you’ve followed this blog you know that I love the data that comes from hardcore, scientific research projects.  Well, here’s some stats you’ll find hard to believe.

Keas has compiled some data that shows that employees that browse the web and use social media throughout the day in 10 minute increments have a higher productivity rate than people who don’t.  That includes checking Facebook and Twitter.  In fact, Keas claims that web-surfing employees are 16% more productive than non.

If you like infographics you can view “The Case For Facebook” graph here.  I’m not a big infographics fan, but in the event you are, I wanted to give you a chance to see it.

You and me. Winning!

How This News Is This A Win-Win For You and Me

Let’s talk about me first. Put That Cookie Down Now! has a Facebook page which you can access by clicking the “Find Us On Facebook” box on the upper right sidebar of this blog.  You joining my FB site is a win-win for me because when you click the “Find Us On Facebook” box it will increase my fan base.  I like having lots of fans.

Now it’s your turn.  You’ll know every time something new is added to this blog because the updates will land in your news feed.  This will give you a reason to check Facebook during the day, which will increase your productivity by 16%.  You may even find yourself in line for a promotion after a few months of checking the Put That Cookie Down Now! blog via Facebook.

I know.  It sounds too good to be true.

Still Not Convinced?  Here Are Four More Good Reason To Follow Me (please).

  1. Not only will you receive updates from Put That Cookie Down Now! – and while that in itself should be enough – you’ll also get up-to-the-minute health and wellness news.  For example, today I read about the feeding tube fad diet for brides.  I shared this relevant, albeit gross, news on my Facebook page.  My fans are reading about it right now.
  2. I promise not to spam you.  We all have that special Facebook ‘friend’ that posts the pictures with the little sayings embedded in them.  I have a ‘friend’ that puts out 20 of those a day.  They can be cute, funny, sad, stupid.  Mostly they are annoying.  You will not find those in your news feed from me.  If there is something in your feed that I’ve put there, you can bet it’s life altering.
  3. I won’t be your ‘friend’.  That may sound cold, but what it means is that I won’t bore you with pictures of my cats, holiday parties or vacation pictures that you don’t care a thing about but feel obligated to comment on, or at least click the ‘Like’ button.  If you’d like to ‘like’ or put a comment on my page feel free to.  If not, I’m okay with it.  You won’t hurt my feelings.
  4. When I reach 100 fans your names will go in a drawing and you’ll have a chance to win a fabulous prize.  I’m thinking the prize will be a combined pool-party-barbeque at my place this summer.  I think I can get to 100 by then.  You can come and stay in the guest room – which kind of overlooks the pool – for the weekend.  I’ll make some of the healthy recipes I’ve posted on this blog.  We’ll throw some burgers on the grill.  I’m working on perfecting my black bean burger recipe which you should see on here later this week.  Maybe we’ll try those along with Skinny Girl Margaritas.

Your Picture Could Be In This Box

No doubt after reading number 4 you’ve all abandoned this site and are over at the Facebook page. I’ll stay here and continue to write because the “How To Blog” manuals I’ve read say I need to: 1.) tell them what you’re going to tell them  2.) tell them 3.) tell them what you’ve told them.  We’re at the ‘tell them what you’ve told them’ part.

You need quality Facebook material in your news feed so that you can increase your productivity at work, impress your boss, get a promotion and make more money.  I need more fans on my Facebook page. Let’s be friends.

*Note – If you’d prefer, you can follow me on Twitter.  I tweet everything too. I post and I tweet.  I’m shameless.

Eight High Protein Snacks That Will Shut Down Your Hunger

Mid-Morning and Late Afternoon Snacks Require Special Planning

It’s 10 am.  The breakfast you had four hours ago is just a memory.  Lunch isn’t until noon. You’re in need of a snack.  Chances are you’ll head for the vending machine or maybe you’ve dropped a 100 calorie snack in you bag and think that will help.  Most 100 calorie snacks and vending machine items are full of sugar and simple carbohydrates that only leave you craving something else to eat.

What you really need is a protein based snack.  In fact studies have been done that prove that snacking on foods high in protein will curb hunger better and for longer.  High protein foods don’t have to be high in calories, especially if you pair a high protein food with a piece of fruit, raw vegetables or a whole grain.


Eight Easy High Protein Snacks To Have Handy At All Times 

All of the snacks on the plate are low maintenance, high nutrition foods.

1.  Boiled Eggs – 1 large – 78 calories; 6.3 grams of protein
2.  Chicken Breast (broiled or baked) – 1-4 oz serving – 100 calories; 20 grams of protein
3.  Hummus – 1 tablespoon – 23 calories; 1.1 gram of protein
4.  Dry Roasted Almonds – 1 ounce – 169 calories; 6.3 grams of fat
5.  Lite String Cheese – 1 7 ounce piece – 50 calories; 6 grams of protein
6.  Peanut Butter – 1 tablespoon – 94 calories; 4 grams of protein
7.  Tuna in Water – 1 4 oz can or package –  131 calories; 28.8 grams of protein
8.  Chocolate Almond MIlk – 8 ounces – 120 calories; 1 gram of protein


Mix and Match Proteins With Fruits, Veggies and Whole Grains For High Nutrition

Selecting one of the high protein snacks to eat along with a half of cup of Greek Yogurt, an apple, orange or a couple of sweet mini peppers will keep you satisfied until lunch or dinner, and out of that danger zone of mindless eating that we’ve all been a victim of.

Putting peanut butter on a mini whole wheat bagel or a couple of whole wheat crackers will add fiber which also aids in keeping hunger under control.  If you haven’t tried the chocolate almond milk, you really must.  It’s a guilt-free delight!

Opt For High Nutrition 

The 100 calorie snack craze has convinced us that as long as a snack is low in calories it’s okay for us to eat even if its nutritional value is a big goose egg.  I disagree.  Whether we’re counting calories because we want to lose weight, we’re trying to add muscle mass or fuel for a race, every calorie is important.  Why waste 150 calories on a snack that doesn’t provide the body with an adequate source of fuel?

Most of the time mine is a serving of almonds with a couple mini sweet peppers. (Check out the nutritional value here.)  What’s yours?

Be Different. Be Amazing. Just Don’t Be Perfect.

Be Different.  Be Amazing. Be You.

“Perfectionism may look good in his shiny shoes, but he’s a little bit of an asshole and no one invites him to their pool parties.”
- Ze Frank

Ahhh.  Always working towards perfectionism, yet things are never perfect.  Isn’t that where we all find ourselves at times? I loved finding this quote by Ze Frank.  As much as I see myself as an aspiring perfectionist, I still want to get invited to the pool parties.  Don’t you?

Whether you’re planning the perfect vacation or have a goal to be a perfect 10 in a swimsuit by June 30, keep in mind that sometimes the harder we try to achieve perfection, the farther away it becomes.

Who Is Ze Frank?

If you’re not familiar with Ze Frank I think you’ll like him.  Ze is a totally creative individual that made history with an online birthday invitation he made of himself doing funny dance moves.  You can watch them here.

Be Different. Be Amazing. Be You. Flickr photo by pshutterbug

He sent the invite to 17 of his closest friends.  Somehow the invitation generated millions of hits.  Ze’s web site won the Webby Award for Best Personal Website in 2002.  Ze is the inventor of The Scribbler.

In 2006 he created an internet show, somewhat akin to Jon Stewart’s  “The Daily Show” only just called “The Show”, that lasted exactly one year. Ze is now back with a new show called, “A Show” that will ‘air’ on the internet three times a week and is scheduled to start this year.  Here’s the promo for “A Show”:

I Have Some Questions 

I’m fascinated with the Ze Frank story but I have a couple of questions:

  • Is Ze a genius?  I don’t know.
  • Is he incredibly creative?  Definitely.
  • How is it that he put some silly dance moves on the world wide web back in 2001 and it turned into a career?  I wish I knew.
  • What does he have that most of us don’t?  In a word, courage. He’s not afraid to try something even though it’s possible he’ll look silly or be a fail.

What are you afraid of?  That you won’t be able to say no to the M&Ms in the M&M dispenser in the office next door or the pizza buffet that you and your friends go to every Friday night?  That if you miss one morning workout at the gym it will be a year before you to go back?  Or you’ll meet the man (woman) of your dreams and screw it up somehow?

I harbor all of these (and more) fears too. The anxiety over all of the possible ways I might mess things up creeps into all aspects of my life and it keeps me from taking chances and from being as awesome as I can be.  But when I see someone like Ze who is totally comfortable in his own uniqueness it helps me step out a little farther on my own limb, have the courage to try something different and seek to be amazing in some way even if I’ll never be perfect.

So why am I so fascinated with Ze?  He’s like a breath of fresh air. Nothing is perfect.  No one is perfect.  Perfection is highly overrated.  The important things in life are family, friends, good health and invitations to the pool parties. Be different and be amazing.  Be you.  And don’t worry about being perfect.

Thanks to Copyblogger for introducing me to Ze Frank who became my inspiration this week.

Is The “Your Thighs On Cheese” Ad Offensive or Helpful? You Decide.

How Not To Help Your Daughter With A Weight Problem 

Last month the story in ‘Vogue’ magazine written by Dara-Lynn Weiss, the mother that put her 7-year-old daughter on a diet because she was obese, created a firestorm in the blogosphere.  Dara-Lynn, who has struggled with her own weight and body image issues her entire life, decided to take matters into her own hands when her daughter, Bea, came home from school in tears because a classmate called her fat. In case you missed it, you can read more about it here.

After the article was published web sites lit up with criticism about Dara-Lynn’s approach to getting Bea’s weight under control. Dara-Lynn admits that after learning that Bea had eaten a celebratory French Heritage Day lunch at school that totaled around 800 calories, she wouldn’t allow her to eat dinner.  She also tells of heated arguments that took place in public when her daughter wanted to eat cookies and cake at birthday parties.

Many people were outraged about the article and suggested that Dara-Lynn was taking her own eating issues out on her daughter.  Dara-Lynn would probably agree. Some bloggers wrote about how Dara-Lynn could have used a kinder, gentler approach that would have been more productive and less damaging to Bea.

Others sided with the mom and felt that she was taking the steps she needed to see that Bea didn’t have health problems later in life because of her weight.  One commenter said we’ve become a society that wants everything sugar-coated and can’t handle telling anyone the truth anymore.

To see your abs and thighs on cheese, click on the picture.

Your Thighs And Abs On Cheese?  

Apparently the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) didn’t hear about the overwhelmingly negative response to the ‘Vogue’ article over the less than, shall we say, kind tactics that Dara-Lynn used to help Bea lose weight.  The PCRM has launched an obesity awareness billboard campaign in Albany, NY that uses pictures of overweight bellies and thighs with captions that say in large letters “Your Abs On Cheese” and “Your Thighs on Cheese”.  Check out the billboards here.

The PCRM says that their goal is to get people to cut down on the amount of cheese they eat.  Cheese is one of the leading sources of fat in the American diet.  New York State is one of the nation’s largest producers of dairy products. New Yorkers have access to cheese.  The PCRM is trying to help.

You may remember another anti-obesity campaign, this one led by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Strong4Life organization, that sparked controversy when it used pictures of overweight children with their arms folded looking dejected.  The slogan reads, “It’s hard to be a little girl when you’re not.”

And then there’s the billboard in New York City with a picture of a man whose leg has been amputated.  The slogan reads, “Portions have grown.  So has Type 2 Diabetes which can lead to amputations.”  Check is out here.

These campaigns are hard hitting and are tackling obesity in a way that’s very similar to other wars that have been waged on public health issues like smoking and methamphetamine use. Does “Your Thighs On Cheese” sound a lot like “Your Brain On Drugs”, or is it just me?

Arguments in support of these types of advertisements bring up the statistics the anti-smoking movement has had on smoking over the past 40 years. According to the Center for Disease Control smoking has gone from 42% in 1965 to 19% in 2010. The argument is that these types of targeted crusades can have an impact on obesity the same way they did on smoking.

No smoking anywhere.

But smoking and eating are two entirely different animals. Either you smoke or you don’t.  I guess you can smoke a little, but for most part you’re either a smoker or you’re not.  Everyone has to eat.  It’s key to our survival.  And there multiple factors that affect what we eat and how much.  Factors such as cost, time, accessibility and general education about which foods provides the best nutrition.  Plus we’re faced with so many food options and mixed messages from the media and manufacturers about those options.  It’s not easy to determine what’s good for us and what isn’t.

What Works And What Doesn’t

Dara-Lynn may have over-reacted to her daughter when she ate too much at a school lunch celebration and she probably didn’t handle the birthday cake issue with as much tact as she should have.  A healthier approach that focused on teaching the child to eat foods that taste good and are good for her in more abundance than the high-fat sugary foods you typically find at kid (and adult) birthday parties would be more worthwhile.

Dara-Lynn had a knee-jerk reaction to a complex problem.  So did the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Strong4Life and the City of New York.  Throwing up a few billboards that go for the shock factor by combining a tacky picture with a one-dimensional slogan isn’t so much a long-term solution to a public health crisis as it is an attempt to insult or shame people into healthier behaviors.  We already know that doesn’t work.

You Decide.

What do you think?  If you lived in Albany would the “Your Abs – Or  Thighs – On Cheese” billboards help you kick your cheese habit?  I don’t think so.

Click ‘like’, ‘share’ or ‘tweet’ if you think the PCRM should take the boards down.

Tired of Counting Peas? Here’s 5 Healthy Cooking DVDs That Will Put An End To Your Life Of Dieting

Get Off Of The Diet Merry-Go-Round Once and For All

Diets are overwhelming.  First there’s the calorie counting, and all of the stuff you’re supposed to eat, and the stuff you’re not.  Maybe you’re on the Weight Watcher’s points system, or a ‘diet’ where you drink two shakes a day and then eat a pre-packaged heat-and-eat meal for dinner.  Ugh.  Who can do any of that long term?  If you’ve tried and failed it’s not because you’re weak or that for you losing weight is hopeless.  It’s because those strategies don’t work.  Not for you.  Not for anyone.  Most people will lose weight initially on these dramatic weight-loss programs, but the pounds come back quickly and easily once the diet ends.

Tired of counting peas?

All of these diets have one thing in common.  They put people on a structured program for a period of time where everything they eat is according to The Plan.  Everyday at work I see people in the break room making their shakes for breakfast and then again for lunch.  Some of them have lost quite a few pounds on the shake scam.  Others are drinking the shakes religiously and have yet to lose the first five pounds.

Don’t Get Caught Cheating

We probably all remember the kid in school whose mom or dad did their math homework for them so that they could get a passing grade.  Maybe as an adult you know a parent that is ‘helping’ their child.  I know a mom whose son, a senior in high school, is on a competitive gymnastics team.  He was a good gymnast but wasn’t doing well in his classes.  Mom stayed up at night doing his homework so that not only could he stay active on the team, but so that he could graduate from high school.  Most of us would probably agree that on some level this was cheating.

Although the son did graduate from high school with passing grades he didn’t learn the things that he needed to know to do well in college.  To me it’s the same with the diet plans that don’t teach us how to shop, purchase and prepare foods.  We may graduate from The Plan but we’re sure to stumble and fall, maybe even fail miserably when we’re back out in the real world figuring out what to have for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The Answer Is In Your Kitchen

The very first step to giving up the vicious circle that dieting creates is to learn how to cook nutritious and delicious foods in your own kitchen.  Many communities offer on-site cooking classes through the local college, university or park district.  If you’re not able to attend a class during the day or after work, healthy cooking DVDs might be a good option.  Following are five that have received good reviews and can be purchased at at a reasonable price.

1.  Dr. Fuhrman’s Secret To Healthy Cooking:  In this cooking class Dr. Joel Fuhrman and his wife make salad dressings, smoothies, stew, soups and desserts.  The doctor and his wife don’t talk about calories.  The focus is on using foods that provide the most nutrition.  Dr. Fuhrman is a board-certified family physician and nutritional researcher who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional and natural methods. (“Secrets To Healthy Cooking” DVD – $17.99 at Amazon)

2.  Andrea Beaman’s Healthy Cooking:  You might remember Andrea from Bravo’s Top Chef.  Andrea’s “Healthy Cooking” DVD provide a good introduction to healthy cooking and breaks down the steps to the recipes so that they are easy to follow.  Andrea is a natural nutritionist and holistic counselor and attended the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.  (“Healthy Cooking” DVD – $14.95 at Amazon)

3.  Michel Nischan’s Simple Steps To Natural, Delicious Cooking: This healthy cooking DVD focuses on the benefits of eating organic and seasonally, local grown foods that contain an abundance of minerals and vitamins. The DVD demonstrates easy-to-follow techniques that’s suitable for the skilled cook or someone just getting started in the kitchen. (Simple Steps To Natural, Delicious Cooking – $14.98 at Gaiam)

4.  Food Network: Celebrates! Healthy Cooking DVD:  Rachel Ray, Alton Brown and Ellie Krieger demonstrate healthy cooking celebrity style. This three DVD set features your favorite chefs cooking nutritious, delicious, quick and easy recipes.  The set includes “Lighten Up” with Rachel Ray”, “Healthy Home Cooking” with Ellie Krieger and “Protein Power” with Alton Brown.  You can buy the set for $5.75 at Amazon.

5.  Dr. Andrew Weil’s Guide to Eating Well: Dr. Weil’s  approaches eating in a sensible yet healthy way.  His cooking style encourages people to eat a balanced diet that is based on the foods that nutritional experts agree are important for optimal health and longevity.  Dr. Weil is a graduate of Harvard and practices natural and preventative medicine.  His bestsellers include “Spontaneous Healing”, “The Healthy Kitchen”, and “Healthy Aging”.  (Dr. Andrew Weil’s Guide To Eating Well – $13.49 at Amazon.)

Watch Before You Buy 

If you’d like to view the healthy cooking DVDs before you buy, check with your local library. You may find they have some – if not all – of these and plenty more. You can watch them and see if what they’re showing is realistic for your lifestyle.  They are fun to watch and will inspire you to get creative (and healthy) in the kitchen. I’ve shown a couple of them at work over the lunch hour and my co-workers really enjoyed them. Have fun!


Exercise and Cancer: Don’t Overlook The Benefits

Today’s post is written by Guest Blogger David Haas who writes for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance web site.  

Exercise programs like Yoga can help the fatigue that comes accompanies cancer and treatments.

Exercise and Cancer – Benefits and Suggestions 

Whether you have recently been diagnosed with cancer or if you have had cancer in the past and are in remission, physical exercise is beneficial and should be part of your health routine. The National Institutes of Health recommends exercise as a way to help your body fight the cancer and to provide a healthy foundation for your body.

Benefits of Exercise

There can be no denying that cancer is a scary health condition. However, research repeatedly shows the benefits of exercising regardless of your cancer status. According to WebMD exercise provides a number of benefits for cancer patients.

Exercise can improve mood. One of the common problems for many cancer patients is depression and feelings of anxiety. Exercise releases neurochemicals in the brain that stimulate the “feel good” centers of the brain, lifting your mood naturally. Recent research has shown that depressed mood can actually contribute to repressed immune system function; so exercising to naturally lift you out of depression is a definite benefit in your battle against cancer.

Another benefit to exercise is that it can reduce fatigue. Fatigue is a major problem for many cancer patients. Exercising naturally lifts and boosts metabolism and gives your body energy, fighting fatigue.

Exercise Suggestions

Whether you are dealing with breast cancer or going through mesothelioma treatment, you can benefit from movement and exercise. If you have limited mobility try light stretching exercises or yoga. This type of exercise will increase your flexibility and help make movement easier.

Try isometric exercises or resistance training. This type of exercise will build muscle and burn fat. One of the common problems for people with cancer is that they lose muscle. If you have an especially high fat-to-lean mass muscle ratio, resistance training, such as weight lifting can be particularly beneficial.

Aerobic exercise, like walking, swimming, biking or jogging can be wonderful in building up heart health and expanding your lung capacity. Cardiovascular exercise burns calories and helps your body lose weight overall. This type of exercise helps lower the risk of stroke, heart attack and diabetes.

Even if you are currently in remission from your cancer, you can receive benefits from maintaining a healthy exercise routine. Exercise not only provides you with a healthy foundation for your overall health, but can also contribute to avoiding a recurrence of cancer. If you are currently in treatment, try to at least do some flexibility exercise to get your body moving and increase your endurance and stamina.