General Health

More Proof That Being A Mommy Is Good For Your Health!

Ooh goody!

There’s a new study that backs up what I’ve known for a long time – Mommyhood is good for your health!  OK, the study didn’t exactly research mommyhood at all, but it’s precisely what came to mind when I read it.  But the fact that someone paid to do this study at all somewhat proves that common sense isn’t all that common, as they say…(who ever “They” are).

The Atlantic ran an article on a study that was done showing essentially what the title says, “He who sits the most dies the soonest.”

I know what you’re thinking… Oh, there goes the media again telling us to do something simple like “just take the stairs” again… rather than actually work out.  (I don’t mean being on the elliptical with a copy of Vogue on the screen either, when I say work out).

Actually, the study shows that getting up and moving around as part of your daily life, not necessarily just exercise time, is what’s needed to reduce the risk.  Regular exercisers did fare better than exclusive sitters, but both groups don’t do well when they sit for as long as most of us do while making a living so we can ‘um.. “survive.”

That means to me,  that stay-at-home moms should live to a nice ripe age!  Have you ever tried to complete one simple task while taking care of children.  It’s impossible.  You can’t actually sit and accomplish anything for longer than 2 hours (and you’re lucky at that) without an interruption that likely requires you to get up and do something.  Housework involves plenty of bending and moving.  Getting toddlers from point A to point B is like herding cats!  Nevertheless, a few years ago at my yearly physical, my doctor asked what I did for exercise.  I looked astonished and said, “I chase toddlers.”  He said my cholesterol numbers showed that wasn’t good enough.

What I’m saying is for optimal health, you still have to work out…but the article shows that just because you work out doesn’t mean you can sit on your butt the rest of the day!

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Diet

Stupid Stuff Fat Chicks Do…And Why We LOVE It

How about starve yourself before your wedding in order to fit into your wedding dress?  The New York Times just published an article that seemed to celebrate just that!

Apparently, it can be done any number of ways – Master Cleanse, Feeding Tube, HCG diet.  Basically its restricting your calories to the point where your body uses its own muscle for fuel.

Let’s face it, if you’re eating at a calorie level below which your body needs to simply sustain its essential functions like breathing and sleeping and digesting, its shutting down your metabolism. The body goes into a kind of starvation mode. Then when you stop all that nonsense, the body thinks uh-oh, what if we go into that kind of famine again. Better hang onto some extra fat stores just in case…and while I’m at it, why not just make the whole operation a little slower because you never know when she might starve us again.

So while this article is all chipper about how wonderful this or that gal is gonna look in her dress, they don’t show how every day, shortly after that feeding tube comes out or she eats, say 1200 whopping calories she’s gonna start gaining weight. (For those who don’t know, 1200 calories is pretty low, but still safe.)  Can you imagine dating a woman 159 lbs, marrying her at 120 and then a month after the wedding she’s 140? It could happen.  Is that grounds for annulment?  I mean, who is this person anyway?  Fat, skinny?  Skinny fat (that’s fat by body fat percentage even while looking lean).  Healthy or not?   Maybe the thing the groom’s sure of is that he’s marrying a woman who is willing to actually starve herself for vanity’s sake. Wow, how’s that for for being a top thing to look for in a spouse you hope to grow old with, bear children with and go through all of life’s ups and down’s with?

How about this article …about a woman who ate garbage..and died early.  Really.  This is newsworthy?  All I can say to that is Duh!

So why are we obsessed with hearing about this type of stuff and what makes it so newsworthy?

Basically, America seems in many ways to still be an extension of ancient Greek society, which placed its emphasis on the body. We’re obsessed as a culture with external beauty.  We’re impatient, too.  So we love to hear about the quick fix.  Working hard at the gym and eating real food doesn’t make for sexy journalistic fare.

Oh, and the article about the woman who died of Coca Cola ingestion?  Well, we love that because it allows us to forgive ourselves of our petty indulgences because we relish knowing we’re not as extreme as THAT woman.  We love knowing as bad as our binges can get, they’re still not THAT bad.  Right. Reality check—-they ARE!

No excuses.  Get back to the gym.  Bikini season is around the corner.

Diet

DAIRY – Is it GOOD or BAD for Weight Loss?

Question:  There are so many confusing statements out there.  Is Dairy going to help lose weight or is it better to stop having it?   Pam, Los Angeles

Answer:

Great question Pam.  I hear this type of question from time to time –  should I eliminate this or that food group.  This time it happens to be about dairy.

Let me preface what I’m about to say with the caveat that I’m not a registered dietician nor am I a physician.  These are the professionals specifically qualified to be answering diet-related questions when it comes to your situation and I am able to refer clients to people I trust in those fields if you’d like.  I am someone who has read a lot about health and fitness who is able to read a scientific study with an eye for bias and someone who has tried to fine-tune her own diet and fitness plan for optimal results.  I’m a certified fitness instructor so this is more of a personal than a professional opinion.  That said, these are my thoughts:

I’m just not an all-or-nothing type gal when it comes to dairy and weight loss.  If you want to go cold-turkey on something for the sake of your health, I’d pick soda (diet & regular) or trans-fats and luncheon meats with nitrates!…but dairy?

I go organic (got enough hormones already thanks), low fat (for the calorie count and fat ratio to the rest of my diet mostly) whenever possible and figure it into your calorie allowance.  If you are struggling with a cholesterol issue and your doctor has recommended to limit your consumption of animal proteins, surely listen to his/her advice.  Also if you’re lactose intolerant or vegetarian for ethical reasons, there are many non-dairy alternatives you could choose…

That said, nothing I have read indicates there’s something about dairy which leads to weight gain or retention specifically.  In fact quite the opposite is true.  There have been a few studies which show eating yogurt is good for weight loss.   F0r instance, a Harvard Study published in 2011, showed positive results for weight loss by those who ate yogurt as opposed to those who don’t.  Another, in 2005,  showed the same, but the study was funded by General Mills, makers of Yoplait.   Those are off the top of my head and there have been many more.

That’s not to say I’d go ahead and eat 1200 calories per day of hard cheese…but consumed as part of your diet which is based on fruits and veggies and complex carbs/fiber, I don’t see an issue.

Everything I have studied indicates eating clean and working out with the right cardio and weight training balance and burning off 3500-7000 calories per week through diet and exercise is what makes you lose weight in a healthy safe way.

I’m just not up for the “eggs good for you/bad for you” saga.  I don’t see how you can go wrong with healthy, real food.

Fitness Goals

How Fast Do You Get Out of Shape?

Sometimes holidays, an injury, travel plans, or prenatal nausea takes us off the workout wagon.  Or maybe it’s that taking the day off turned into a week or more.  So how much does this affect your strength training and weight training gains?

According to the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, Cardio-respiratory fitness generally appears to decrease only after 2-3 weeks without training.  Muscular Fitness (strength/endurance) generally appears to decrease after 2-3 months without training.*

Individuals vary.  You may find performance may decrease without a noticeable visual decrease in muscle size for instance.  Also, there’s the principle of adaptability – that if you’re used to swimming, you may not see as much decrease in your ability to swim, but you may find a bigger decrease in your running.  Some studies show that conditioned exercisers are more likely to gain back the strengths they had more quickly and lose them more slowly than less regular exercisers.

What does this mean?  Keep moving!  If you’ve fallen off the workout wagon or holidays derailed your workout train just get back on asap.

*Fitness Theory and Practice, 5th Edition, Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, ed. Laura Gladwin, p. 186