Qnexa: Real Weight Loss Solution or A Class Action Law Suit Waiting To Happen?

Are You Thinking About Asking Your Doctor For A Prescription To Qnexa?  

On July 17 news broke that the FDA finally approved a weight loss drug.  Qnexa is the first weight loss supplement to be approved by the FDA in 13 years and news of its upcoming release to the market is what many people have been hoping to hear.  Some are probably asking their doctors about getting access to the drug while you’re reading this.

Is Qnexa A Magic Pill?

What You Need To Know About Qnexa. 

I was at a health fair last week and an employee told me she’s thinking about asking her doctor for a prescription to Qnexa and wanted to know what I thought.  I think that – despite the fact that the FDA does due diligence before it puts a stamp of approval on anything – there are some things you should consider before signing up:

1.  Qnexa is a combination of phentermine and topiramate.

Topiramate is an anti-episepsy medication which increases the sensation of feeling full. Research on topiramate has shown that pregnant women exposed to the drug have a higher risk of giving birth to babies with cleft palates.

Phentermine is an amphetamine.  Amphetamines are drugs that stimulate the central nervous system and can be both physically and psychologically addictive when overused.  On the street, amphetamines are referred to as ‘speed’.

2.  The FDA failed to approve Qnexa in 2010 because of concerns about the drug’s side effects that include heart palpitations, an increased heart rate, mental fogginess, and birth defect.

3.  On July 17, 2012 the FDA panel voted 20 to 2 for approval of Qnexa and, according to ABC news, said that they believe the weight loss benefits outweigh the risk of birth defects and cardiovascular problems associated with the drug.

4.  The FDA panel that approved the drug made a recommendation to the manufacturer that it include warning labels targeted at women of childbearing years because of possible birth defects that are linked to the drug such as cleft palate.

5.  There is a long history of safety problems with diet pills once they hit the market and are used outside of the pilot group.  Diet pills like Fen-phen seemed like a good idea at one time.  The manufactures of Fen-phen have now settled a class action lawsuit for 3.75 billion after the drug was linked to heart valve disease.  You can read more about Fen-phen, the wonder drug, in a post I wrote earlier this year.

There Are Always Two Sides

On the flip side, Qnexa is an additional tool that doctor’s can offer their patients that are struggling to lose weight.  Until now, weight loss options have been limited to diet, exercise, and, in some cases, bariatric surgery.   If Qnexa can help patients lose 10 percent of their body weight – which is what the manufacturer claims it can do – with minimal side effects, it will be a benefit for thousands of people.

The drug has the potential to be even more effective when used in combination with the proper diet, moderate amounts of exercise and counseling.  Qnexa, along with healthier lifestyle choices, could give people the jump-start they need to succeed at long-term weight loss.

I told the employee that raised the question about Qnexa that I would pass on being part of the pilot program.  Wait until Qnexa has been on the market at least a year and see if there are any red flags, recalls, or additional warnings in terms of side effects.  It took almost two years for the heart valve issues associated with Fen-phen use to be brought to light.  If there is a dark and dangerous side to Qnexa that the manufacturer and FDA are not aware of now, it will surface, and probably sooner rather than later.

Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale Prevention Research Center said, “Honestly, I won’t be surprised if adverse effects over time result in a reversal of the approval.  But, in the interim, it will help some people lose weight, and many others will try it, dislike it and stop, and gain the weight back.”

Is Dr. Katz Right?

What do you think? Would you be interested in trying Qnexa? Do the possible side effects make it not worth the risk?

Have You Tried The Body By Vi 90 Day Challenge?

Body By Vi Is Changing The World One BMW At A Time.  

I attended a health and wellness event yesterday and a very enthusiastic man approached me and said I was just the person he needed to talk to since I was the wellness administrator for our company.  He is in the health and wellness business too.  He handed me his card and asked if I had heard of the 90 day challenge?  I asked which 90 days challenge he was referring to.  I quickly learned he was talking about THE 90 day weight loss challenge.  The mother of all challenges.  The one that is sweeping the country and has changed the lives of thousands of people. Thebehavior change 90 Day Challenge.

My co-worker Allison and I laughed later because she said I was really engaged in listening to him talk about the challenge until he uttered the words Body By Vi.  At that point she said my face fell and there was no disguising that I was no longer interested in anything he was saying.

The 90 Day Weight Loss Challenge Starts Now?

Body by Vi – Just Another Shake Weight Loss Scheme

I took his card and decided I would do some research to see if I could find some information – anything at all – that would help change the preconceived opinions I have about extremely low-calorie liquid diets. Body By Vi is your typical liquid diet.  You purchase a kit from them, drink two of their heavily vitamin-laden shakes a day and eat one healthy meal. So far I haven’t found anything to make me think this one is different from the rest.  If someone out there reading this thinks they can convince me otherwise, please feel free to try.

The sales rep that was promoting Body By Vi to me was one hundreds – maybe thousands – of folks that have been recruited to sell the products and to recruit more people to sell the products.  Body By Vi isn’t new.  It’s been around since 2007.  It is no different than Lia Sophia jewelry, Mary Kay cosmetics, or Shaklee nutrition products.  People HCG and receive the products to sell.  Then they get on Facebook and ask their ‘friends’ to either buy the weight loss kits or become part of their team to help sell them. There’s no pink Cadillac to win, but once your sales reach $25,000 a month you get a pill  This all seems oh, so familiar.

Staying Off Of The Soapbox

I’ve gotten on my soapbox a number of times about how important harder time trying to lose it is to the process of weight loss so I won’t go there now, except to say that there is no possibility for that with this program.  Body By Vi is just one more diet, like HCG, that gets people to limit their calories to a ridiculously low level (one shake is only 90 calories) so that they do see good – even great – results during the first few weeks, or in this case, 90 days.  But what happens after the 90 days?  You’re hanging off the cliff trying to figure out what to do next.

I’m not interested in hearing about any diet, product, shake, pill or exercise program that can help you lose weight in 90 days. We need to be talking about what will work for the next 90 years.  Body By Vi claims to be instrumental in helping the obesity epidemic facing the United States when in reality they are perpetuating it.  They are creating a whole new group of people that experience dramatic weight loss in 90 days, gain it back, and have an even harder time trying to lose it again.

Tell Me I’m Wrong.

So the business card from the rep that approached me yesterday is sitting on my desk.  It is plain white cardstock with very simple black lettering that he made using a home computer and a Dell printer.  He seemed excited talking about the products, or possibly it’s the hope of selling a kit that motivates him.  Maybe he thinks he’s on the way to driving a BMW.  Or could it be he goes home and looks at the products sitting in the hallway and thinks, “how in the h**l am I ever going to sell this crap?”!

Maybe I’m the one that’s full of it.  Have you tried Body By Vi?  Would love to hear your story.

Please feel free to share or tweet using the buttons below.

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.

Be Careful What You Wish For: 5 Things You Should Know About Qnexa

Which one is the magic pill?

A New Diet Pill Is Pending Approval By The FDA

The latest diet pill that promises to melt fat has finally been ‘tentatively’ approved by the Food and Drug Administration and will be hitting doctor’s offices soon.  Once approved, Qnexa will be the first diet pill to receive FDA endorsement in the last 13 years. No doubt there will be plenty of people asking their docs to write a prescription for Qnexa.

Qnexa is an appetite-suppressing drug developed by Vivus, a California pharmaceutical company, that contains phentermine and topiramate.  As with any diet pill there’s good new and bad.  Here are five things you should know before asking the doctor for a prescription:

  1. Not all that long ago, Qnexa was denied approval by the FDA because tests showed there were too many side effects associated with it.  The side effects included suicidal thoughts, heart palpitations, memory lapses and birth defects.
  2. In the test trials that have been done on the drug, there were five heart attacks among the people that took Qnexa.  There were no heart attacks in the group that took the placebo.
  3. One of the main concerns with the drug is that it contains Topamax.  The side effects of Topamax include the tendency for pregnant women to give birth to children with birth defects.  The most common defect is cleft lip.
  4. There is a long history of safety problems with diet pills once they hit the market and are used outside of the pilot group.  Diet pills like Fen-phen seemed like a good idea at one time.  The manufactures of Fen-phen have now settled a class action lawsuit for 3.75 billion after the drug was linked to heart valve disease.  Remember, if you’re one of the first to receive Qnexa, you’ll really just end up being part of a large test group.
  5.  The FDA, maybe against their better judgment, may end up approving the drug because they are under pressure to find a remedy for the obesity epidemic the nation is faced with.  A Senate appropriations committee has asked the FDA to submit a report by the end of this month with a plan for the development of new obesity treatments.

Why It’s So Difficult For Diet Pills To Obtain FDA Approval

The Fen-Phen debacle may be a big reason why it’s hard for new pills to receive the FDA seal of approval.  Fen-Phen is a combination of two weight loss supplements:  Fenfluramine (Fen) and Phentermine (Phen).  Both ingredients were approved by the FDA; Phen in 1959 and Fen in 1973.  While the FDA never approved a supplement that contained both ingredients, doctors began prescribing the ‘cocktail’ to their patients with good results and seemingly no side effects.  In 1996, 6.6 million prescriptions for Fen-Phen were written in the U.S.

It took only a year for the magic pill with no side effects to come under fire.  In the summer of 1997 the Mayo Clinic reported an alarming number of occurrences of heart-valve disease.  All of the patients that the Clinic saw for the heart-valve issue had something in common. They had all taken Fen-Phen.

Heart-valve cases related to Fen-Phen continued to be reported to the FDA.  The FDA eventually issued a Public Health Advisory advising people of the risks of taking the diet pill combo and asked manufacturers to voluntarily withdraw Fenfluramine from the market.  Phen is still on the market, continues to be prescribed by docs for short-term treatment of obesity, and is making a re-appearance in Qnexa.

Is This One Approved?

The Difference Between FDA Approved Supplements And All The Others

Non-FDA approved diet pills are the ones that are sold in abundance at the local drug stores, Wal Marts, and weight-loss clinics.  These supplements have varying levels of effectiveness and numerous side-effects.

You’ll recall that just a few months ago the FDA issued warning letters to companies selling over-the-counter HCG weight loss products.  The FDA stated that the manufacturers made unsubstantiated claims about the product’s ability to help people lose weight safely. The HCG diet is based on a 500 calorie/day diet and an injection of the hormone HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) that is produced by the human placenta.  I wrote about the risks of HCG in a post on December 8, and you can read more about it here. There have been many risky weight-loss scams prior to HCG and there are many more to follow.

The combination of the FDA being under pressure to approve a diet aid and the never-ending desire for a pill that will help people that have tried and failed in their attempts to not only lose weight, but keep it off, may be factors that will lead to the approval of Qnexa. Only after it’s approved and has been widely used on the market by the general public will we be able to determine its effectiveness and decide whether or not the side effects over-shadow any weight loss benefits that occur.

If you’ve followed this blog and have read some of other my posts about fads that promise to ‘melt fat’ or ‘torch calories’, you know I won’t be cheering on the FDA to put Qnexa on the market.  I think if we’re all ready to be honest with ourselves, we know that the only way to lose weight and keep it off is to change our habits.  Moving more and sitting less, keeping our portions under control, eating more fruits, and vegetables, and eliminating heavily processed foods from our diet isn’t exactly magic, but it’s what works.  We don’t need another pill.  We need the motivation to put down the cookies.

Tell-Tale Signs That Your Obsession With Tracking Has Gone One App Too Far

Tracking Options Are Endless – flickr photo by Dru Bloomfield

‘More’ Tracking – A Virtual Monster

Modern technology has created a virtual monster.  Or maybe what I really mean is, modern technology has virtually created a monster.  Trackers.  Does anyone know anyone that is not tracking something with a Smartphone, iPhone, iPad or computer?

I’ll be the first one to say that if you set a goal – for example – to put more steps in your day – you need to know how many steps you’re taking now.  It’s the old “if you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there” adage.

Plus, the word ‘more’ is ambiguous.  The definition of the word ‘more’ is “an additional quantity”.  So, in the example of taking ‘more’ steps, ‘more’ could easily mean ten. Taking ten more steps won’t have much impact on our overall health. Tracking steps with a pedometer would help you see if you’re taking enough extras steps to make a difference.

More Is A Popular Word

As a wellness coach, I hear the word ‘more’ everyday. “I’m going to drink more water.”  “My goal is to eat more fruits and vegetables.”  “I’m going to the gym more this week.”  My response to all of those statements 100% of the time is, “How much more?”

Using My Fitness Pal or one of the other popular systems is the obvious way to track how successful we are at doing more.  Putting the data in a gizmo to track your workouts, water consumption, or calories is okay.  But are you able to recognize when you’ve become more concerned with the tracking than you are in reaching the goals?

Tell-Tale Signs You Have A Tracking Obsession

You’re Cheating The System (and yourself) – When people start using a calorie counter they put in their weight and their desired weight. The app calculates how many calories they should eat daily to reach the desired weight.

I’ve noticed that when people first start using the app they put everything they eat in.  After awhile only some of the foods go in; others don’t make the cut. There are plenty of reasons for not including everything.  Maybe you just forget, or ate such a little bit of it that it didn’t really count.  Or – here’s a big one – you had such a bad day that you just couldn’t bear to admit to yourself – or the phone – that you really ate all of that!

The day that you are no longer putting everything you eat in the tracker, is the day that the tracker has lost its effectiveness. When you have to cheat to reach the calorie goal for the sake of the tracker, it’s time to give it up and find a new strategy to assist with calorie and portion control.

You Continue To Track Even Though You Never Meet The Goal – Let’s say you have a goal to eat five servings of fruits and veggies everyday and decide to use an app like Munch-5-A-Day.  The first three weeks you had a success rate of between 65 and 75%.  Now you’re at week six and still only eating two or three servings a day but, you’re still tracking everyday.  Is the tracker helping?

Using a phone app is like a lot of things. It’s a novelty and increases our awareness. Over time we lose interest in it and it’s no longer useful yet we continue to track.  Just because you delete the app from the phone doesn’t mean you have to give up on reaching the five-a-day goal.  You can find other things to do that will keep you motivated.  ‘Like’ Five-A-Day-The-Fun-Way on Facebook.  Updates will automatically land in your Facebook News Feed with ideas on ways to add fruits and veggies to the dishes that you’re already preparing.  It’s a helpful reminder that eating five a day doesn’t have to be a chore.

You Rely On A Tracker To Guage Your Exercise Intensity – There are some fancy, high-tech pedometers on the market that will track every step you take along with how many calories you burn when you take them.  If you’ve purchased one and it’s helpful in increasing your motivation to exercise and pushes you to increase the duration and intensity of your workouts, keep it up! At the same time, proceed with caution.

How many calories a person burns doing specific activities is based on Basal Metabolic Rate which is as individual as your fingerprint.  We’ve talked about this before.  If you don’t trust me that determining BMR is a complex, scientific calculation, take a look at Wikipedia’s article on the subject.  To accurately determine your BMR, you first need to have your RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) calculated.  There are ways to get this done so that the results are accurate, but putting data in a phone app isn’t one of them.

If you’re using an app to calculate calorie expenditure, keep in mind that it is an estimate and should not be used as a free pass to eat as many calories as the calculator says you’ve burned.  The best way to gauge exercise intensity is still perceived exertion.

You’re Obsessed With Tracking But Your Goals Elude You – If you’re tracking every breath you take and every move you make, you may be headed towards an obsession.  It may be time to take a break from the tracking – at least for now – especially if the tracking is no longer helpful in getting you to your goals.

Motivation is a moving target.  Your strategies to stay engaged and enthused about a healthier lifestyle need to evolve as you reach your goals and the subsequent plateaus.  Put down the phone and engage the right side of your brain.  Create a colorful, non-virtual vision board that outlines your goals.  If you’re totally addicted to using on-line tools, you can create your vision board in Pinterest.  You can also check out some of the other amazing and inspiring boards while you hang out there.  I have a feeling finding the pictures and arranging them on the board will inspire you as much as putting stats in the phone does.

Sometimes To Go Fast You Have To Slow Down

Sometimes Less Is ‘More’.

Tracking calories, exercise, water, etc, may be one piece of a very large puzzle.  If tracking is used as a means to an end it can be helpful.  Keep in mind the end goal is long-term behavior change, not keeping up with the tracker.  When the habit of putting stuff in the phone no longer affects change, it becomes a waste of time.

Lifestyle change is a marathon, not a 100-yard dash.  It requires considerable training that’s fraught with trial and error, starts, pauses and maybe even some temporary stops. You’ve got to learn to pace yourself so you can make it to the end of race. Is there an app for that?

Pass/Fail Fad Diet Plans Skip The Teachable Moments

Meal Replacement Shake Programs Need A Back-Up Plan -- Flickr photo by El Gran Dee

There’s No Learning Curve With Meal Replacement Shakes 

Nearly every day in the employee break room I encounter a co-worker that is on the Health Management Resources weight loss system.  Daily she mixes up shakes and makes pudding for her lunch.  She’s lost about 30 pounds on the program and has been on it for several months; maybe even close to a year.

The HMR Weight-Loss program is based on a very-low calorie meal plan where you have three shakes, two entrees (all provided by HMR) and five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.  Total calorie intake would be around 500 – 600 a day.  The weight-loss program also provides some snacks that are introduced later in the program, and a multi-grain cereal.  My co-worker is pleased with how well she’s done on the program and says she could not have lost the weight without it.

My fear is that once she’s off the program and back to the work of browsing the grocery store isles, menu planning and meal preparation, the weight will slowly start to creep back.  The trial and error, ups and downs, and successes and failures of behavior change don’t take place on a pass/fail diet plan where no options are available to you.

That Oh So Elusive Thing Called Behavior Change

I recently completed the American College of Sports Medicine Wellcoaches course and it in no way makes me an expert on behavior change. It has, however, turned on my behavior change radar so that now, after months of reading, doing chapter reviews, listening to coaching modules, and working with practice clients, I’m finally in a place where I can understand that throughout the evolution of change, it’s critical to apply the one-step-back, two-steps-forward principle and to respect the idea that that one or two, or three steps back, however frustrating they may be, are a vital part of the process.

I was working with a practice client over the holidays that wanted to not just maintain, but lose five pounds before the New Year.  She thought that as long as she was able to keep up with her workouts three days a week she would be able to reach her goal. That seemed like a good plan.  But then the party invitations started rolling in.  One week she and her husband were invited to three holiday get-togethers. She was in a panic.  She couldn’t possibly attend these parties and snub the hostess by not eating the foods that had been prepared.  But she didn’t know how she could eat the party food and get to her goal. Then there was the alcohol that she would have to deal with.  Could she have a couple cocktails and still lose weight?

She got busy and put some strategies in place that would help her get through the parties without completely undoing the progress she had made so far.  She decided that at each party she would use a small appetizer plate and fill it only three times.  She would allow herself to have two glasses of white wine.  In between glasses of wine she would drink zero calorie fizz water or plain water.

The goals set were attainable and she reported back at the end of the week that she enjoyed the parties and didn’t feel as though she had made a huge sacrifice nor had she insulted the hostess.  Each week she continued to set goals based on what she knew she would be dealing with in the coming days.  Many of the goals were met, others were not.  We would take a few minutes to talk about why some of the goals that she set were or were not accomplished, what worked and what might be done differently.  It is the constant goal setting, testing and evaluating that builds insight so that we know how to tackle new challenges and conquer even bigger obstacles

What Have You Learned?

What Did You Learn?

This is one of the most powerful questions a coach can ask a client, not only when things don’t go as well as we would have liked, but when we’ve hit the bulls eye.  Finding out what works is as valuable as finding out what doesn’t.  It won’t take us long to give up entirely if our total focus is on the failures.

“What Did I Learn?” is a question that we can ask ourselves, not just in our wellness journey, but in our relationships, our careers and other aspects of our lives.  Asking the question and reflecting on the answer to sort out what we did that was effective and can use again, and where the break downs in the strategies are so that we can tweak them or throw them out entirely.

Setting specific goals to get through a series of holiday parties without gaining weight worked for my client.  By Janaury 3 she had met her five pound weight loss goal plus she had learned a new way to approach some of the events that will continue to come up in her life.

An Experiment In Behavior Change

What’s one thing you would like to do this week?  Notice I didn’t say stop doing this week.  What is something positive that you can start doing?  It doesn’t have to be huge or life-changing. Here’s a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Take a five minute stress-break each day.  Sit quietly and focus only on your breathing.  Try to clear your mind of everything that is troubling you. Each time your mind wanders back to your job, or kids, or cleaning that needs to get done, put the focus back on your breathing.
  • Put a quarter in a jar every time you say the word ‘try’.  This is a word that we can take out of the English language along with most of its synonyms.  Whatever it is you want to do, don’t try.  Just do it.
  • Sit for 60 minutes, move for three.  After you have sat at a desk, in front of the T.V., at a ball game, or anywhere, for an hour, stand up and move around for three minutes.
  • Eat an apple every day.  Apples are in abundance in the super market at this time of year and there may be some truth to the old adage that one a day keeps the doc away.  Not only are they nutritious, but they are low in calories, tasty, inexpensive, and easy to toss in the lunch bag for work.
  • Keep the positive energy going by writing a daily affirmation that you send to yourself via text message as often as you’d like.  You can do this on your phone by downloading the Positive Affirmation app for Smartphone or iPhone.

If none of these appeal to you click here for more suggestions, or decide on one of your own.  Determine if you want to do the behavior for five days, seven days, 10 days. At the end of the timeframe assess how you did. 

  • Was goal completion at 100%, 75%, 50%, 25%, 0%?
  • Give yourself a grade. Write down what went right and what didn’t.
  • What did you learn?
  • What will you do next time that will be different to secure a better outcome?
  • What can you use from this experience to help you reach some of your bigger goals?

Crawl Before You Walk

Babies learn to crawl and marathoners learn to run.   It takes practice to learn a new skill whether it be walking, running, or resisting the donuts at the morning meeting.  Each time you practice the behavior you’re learning new tactics that will eventually get you to your goal.  The two steps forward will always make up for the one step back.

Barefoot Running, Detox Dubunked, Peaches Geldoff Fad Diet and More. Here’s What Peaked My Interest This Week.

Health and Fitness Overload.  Let’s Sort It Out:

Every day I get so much health and wellness information that I’m overwhelmed by it.  It comes in the form of newsletters, smart briefs, subscribed-to blogs, e-mails, on-line magazines and Google alerts, plus all of the stuff I find on my own when I’m surfing.

Without realizing I’m doing it, I divide it all into three categories:

  • Information that is so relevant, important, and convincing that I need to share it on my blog today!
  • Information that is relevant and important, but not totally convincing. I need to do some more research on the topic and then share it on my blog.
  • Information that I’m so sure no one really cares about (or has already read on every web site they’ve visited) that it’s irrelevant and unimportant and I don’t need to waste any more time with it.

The articles that fall into the third category are the easiest to process with a drag and drop to the ‘trash’ can.  Categories one and two I save, e-mail to myself, bookmark, add as a favorite or print out and mark up.  I put up post-it notes to remind me about the bookmarks, favorites, e-mails to myself, and the other really good stuff that I’ve found that I need to share with the world.

Often the really good stuff gets lost, forgotten or covered up so no one ever knows about this wonderful secret stuff  — like how to get even more out of an interval workout (for example)  — that I’ve found except me.

Blogs Are Vehicles To Share Information 

What are blogs for, if not to share relevant, important, convincing material with readers in a timely manner?  So the end-of-the-week blog, at least for this week, is a summary of some of the health and wellness information that I’ve found, or that has found me, that I feel must be shared today!  Ive added  links to the articles so you can get more in-depth information is you’re interested.

Here Goes With The Weekly Countdown:

#5.  Detox Debunked – David Bender, an emeritus professor of nutritional biochemistry is convinced that the recent fads to detox the body are a bunch of baloney.  The Society of Biology magazine recently published an article written by Bender titled “The Detox Delusion”.  In that article Barber advises people to save their money.

The body is designed to detox itself.  That’s what the liver and kidneys are for and according to Barber does not need the help of expensive supplements to be effective. Personally, I’ve never understood the fascination with detox. I’m grateful for the David Bender’s of the world that are willing to take a stand against a ridiculous trend.

4.  Coffee Before A Workout Improves PerformanceA recent, albeit small, research project was done at Coventry University in England.  Thirteen young, fit men repeated a standard strength-training workout on several occasions.  An hour before one workout they drank a beverage containing caffeine.  An hour before another identical workout they consumed the same beverage without caffeine.

During the caffeinated workout the men were able to complete more repetitions, did not tire as quickly, and reported that they were eager to repeat the workout again.

Michael Duncan, a senior lecturer in the sports science at the University of Exeter in England said, ”Essentially, we found that with the caffeinated drink, the person felt more able to invest effort . . . . they put more work into the training session . . . . and were more psychologically ready to go again.”

You don’t need to convince me. I consistently drink coffee before my workouts with no side effects.  I’m not too proud to admit that there are days when I wouldn’t even make it to the gym without my morning jolt.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that too much of a good thing can have adverse effects including the jitters, heart palpitations, stomach upset and increased risk of dehydration so handle that cup of java with care.

#3. Peaches Geldoff’s Weight Loss Draws Negative Attention – Unlike Kirstie Alley or Valerie Bertinelli, both of Jenny Craig fame, Peaches Geldof’s  weight loss has brought negative attention to a dangerous fad diet that she claims to go off and on.  Peaches says “I do juicing” which means she juices vegetables and drinks that three times a day.  The diet doesn’t include solid food and she usually stays on the diet for a month at a time.

Peaches, star of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”, was photographed at a film premiere in London and looked extremely thin and less than healthy.  Cath Collins, spokeswoman for the British Dietetic Association says the diet is dangerous and wastes away internal organs and muscle tissue.  Collins says it is what kills anorexics.

First and foremost, I hope Peaches is well.  But I also hope she’ll stop with the silly diet fads so she can be a better role model for her young fans.

#2. Barefoot Running – Good or Bad?  – I’ve read a lot on this topic.  Anyone that runs is always looking for a way to prevent injury, run faster, and find the perfect shoe.  Is the perfect shoe no shoe?

The book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall supports barefoot running.  McDougall claims that barefoot runners avoid the injuries that shoe-wearing humans experience in the ‘developed’ world.  The barefoot running analysis goes back to the cave man.  Cave men didn’t have shoes.  Okay.  I’m not being totally serious here, but the barefoot running enthusiasts maintain that not having shoes on allows the foot to land in a more natural pattern, landing on the forefront of the foot instead of the heal which apparently leads to fewer injuries.

There are some pretty impressive arguments for barefoot running.  Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia won the Olympic marathon gold medal in 1960 without shoes and in 1984 Zola Budd set a world record for the 5,000 meter run.  She was also shoeless.

I like shoes.  In fact I’m somewhat of a shoe junkie.  I’m going to keep my shoes on when I run.  At least for now.

#1.  Jackie Warner Has A New Workout DVD – I’m a Jackie Warner fan.  She is a no-nonsense gal.  Plus I love her hair.  She has a new workout DVD called Personal Training: 30-Day Fast Start.  The workout is total body muscle training:  push-ups, chest flies, curls, squats, and ab work.  It’s not fancy, but it will get the job done.  Check out the clip from collage video.

The video can be purchased at Collage Video for $11.99

There’s so much going on in the world of health and fitness it’s hard to keep up.  I hope you found something of interest in my picks.  If nothing else, I hope you’re motivated to keep on keeping on.

HCG Diet Shelved By FDA and FTC: Hormone Has Not Been FDA Approved.

HCG Hormone Is Not FDA Approved

Thanks to the Federal  Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission for taking steps to get the HCG diet off of the shelves.  The HCG diet promises extreme weight loss for consumers that follow the plan which consists of consuming only 500 calories a day and an injection of HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotopin).  HCG is a hormone that is found in the human placenta and the urine of pregnant women.  However nauseating that may sound, the HCG diet craze started about ten years ago and is still going strong.

Yesterday the FDA and FTC released the news that they have written warnings letters to companies that sell the HCG hormone over-the-counter notifying them that the supplement has not been FDA approved for weight loss. The companies have 15 days to notify the agencies that corrective action has taken place.

The HCG hormone, which according to the FDA and FTC, has not been proven to have any impact on weight loss, isn’t cheap.  A 13-day supply of the HCG drops along with some B vitamins, a diet manual, recipes, helpful tips and a grocery list costs $67.20 plus shipping.  Once you’ve used the 13 day supply, you can purchase a 26-day supply of refill drops for $69.60.

Who Needs The Hormone Drops!

It’s no secret that if someone strictly follows a 500 calorie-a-day diet they will shed unwanted pounds quickly.  There’s no need to purchase a weight-loss hormone too. But how does a company make money selling a 500 calorie a day diet alone? No doubt people are purchasing the weight loss kits, adhering to the dangerous calorie restrictions, losing weight, and crediting the HCG drops.

Why Limiting Calories to 500 A Day Isn’t A Good Long Term Strategy

The most prevalent side effects of very low calorie diets are fatigue, constipation, nausea and moodiness.  On 500 calories a day the body is not being provided with the nutrients it needs to function well on a daily basis so it will naturally slow down. Certainly there are no calories available for physical activity of any kind.  In fact the HCG discourages exercise while on the program.

When we lose weight without exercise we don’t just lose body fat.  We also lose bone density and muscle mass.  Muscle mass is that wonderful stuff that, if we have plenty of it, will raise out metabolic rate. It’s not something we can afford to give up if we want to maintain our weight loss.

The biggest problem with a 500 calorie diet is the inability to able to maintain it long term.  It is inevitable that we will, at some point, begin consuming more than 500 calories/day.  Once more calories are introduced the weight will come back.

Losing weight is more about behavior change and less about a hormone injection.  It takes time for people to learn how to rethink their eating habits, understand portion control and discover the benefits of daily activity.  The longer it takes the process to unfold and the more the individual learns about their own ability to be establish a lifestyle of healthier behaviors, the more permanent the weight loss will be.


Pick Out The Body You Want. The Six Week Body Makeover . . . . Is It For You?

Hope Makes All Things Possible. Even the Six Week Body Makeover.

I am not only a fitness junkie, I’m also addicted to politics.  So, after watching Face The Nation Sunday morning I lingered on CBS for a few minutes before switching to Meet The Press and caught the hour-long infomercial for The Six Week Body Makeover.

I don’t typically watch informercials so the Body Makeover is new to me even though it’s been around for 15 years, which tells me people are still sending their money in.

Don’t Send Your Money Just Yet 

Of course, my first reaction was, “Wow.  Another weight loss gimmick.”  But, I was intrigued enough by the commercial to take a look at the web site, read some reviews
(not solicited by Michael Thurmond) and have formed my own professional (a-hem) opinion.  There’s some good, some bad, and some don’t-waste-your-money comments for me to share.

Before I begin my totally judgmental blog about the ‘makeover’, let me say that I have not tried the system, don’t plan to try it, and don’t think you should spend your hard-earned money on it either.  Here’s why:

  • The infomercial starts out by telling the audience that on this program they will eat more, exercise less.  Have you tried that lately?  Once in awhile I’ll do that on the weekend and the scale on Monday morning greets with me a wake a call that says, “Quit eating so much and get to the gym 15 minutes early tomorrow.” This just doesn’t work. However, for people that are eating ALL of the wrong foods and not exercising, this sounds very appealing. The program sets them up with lots of low-calorie foods (more food) and 18 minutes a day of exercise (not an hour and a half). If you’re eating Big Macs for lunch, Taco Bell for dinner and not exercising, you will lose weight on the Makeover.

    [Read more…]

Biggest Loser Trainer Bob Harper Says Dancing With The Stars Dangerous For Chaz Bono.

Hey, Bob.  Worry about your own show! 

For a guy who co-hosts a show where it’s not all that unusual for a contestant to be carried out on a stretcher I thought it was a little strange that Bob Harper would suggest that Chaz Bono might be risking his life on Dancing With The Stars.  He’s afraid he might get hurt trying to do some of the moves?

Bob thinks that Chaz might be more suited for The Biggest Loser which is the scariest show on television in the eyes of many fitness professionals.  I can’t bear to watch the BL because of the extreme workouts they require very overweight/sedentary people to do.  It’s a miracle they haven’t killed someone.

There are plenty of horror stories on the internet from some of the reality show’s former contestants and tons of derrogatory articles from fitness professionals that think the show is inhumane, disgusting, sad, and in one case described as “a made-for-TV spectacle that has morphed into a cruel hoax perpetrated on the typical overweight person in America who is desperately looking for the weight-loss secret.”  

I’m glad to know there are plenty of people who, like me, are offended, maybe even outraged by the Biggest Loser.

I’m guessing Bob is a little envious of the media bump DWTS is getting from picking Chaz.  Do you think this calls for the creation of a Celebrity Biggest Loser Show? [Read more…]