July 21, 2006

Dieting, Eating Strategies, Fat Loss

I may just have accidentally stumbled on an article I had always wanted to write.

As a health/wellness writer, I’ve published pieces on stress, the fat-and-forty syndrome, backpacking, and other focused topics, but never one that can serve as a comprehensive guide to health and fitness. I planned on writing a simple bulleted guide that covers nutrition, weight maintenance, aerobics, and resistance training – the essential elements of a healthy lifestyle. But the most I’ve done is scribble pieces of a draft that gets shuffled around in a deep drawer marked “One of These Days” (oh, that’s a step up from being in the thick folder labeled, “You think?”)

Today, while surfing the ‘Net looking for the formula for how many calories a person burns at rest (don’t ask), I ended up here:

How Dieting Works by Marshall Brain of HowStuffWorks.com

Mr. Brain had the information I was looking for. And I quote:

“At rest (for example, while sitting and watching television), the human body burns only about 12 calories per pound of body weight per day (26 calories per kilogram). That means that if you weigh 150 pounds (68 kg), your body uses only about: 150 X 12 = 1,800 calories per day.

“Those 1,800 calories are used to do everything you need to stay alive:
- They keep your heart beating and lungs breathing.
- They keep your internal organs operating properly.
- They keep your brain running.
- They keep your body warm. “

The part I enjoyed best about Mr. Brain’s article was the section on weight loss myths:

“The myth that you can lose 54 pounds in 6 weeks - Despite what the ads say (I LOST 54 POUNDS IN 6 WEEKS WITHOUT DIETS OR EXERCISE!!! or LOSE 10 POUNDS THIS WEEKEND!), you cannot lose a pound of fat unless you burn off 3,500 calories. To lose 54 pounds in 6 weeks, you would need to lose 9 pounds in 7 days, or 1.3 pounds per day. That 1.3 pounds of fat is equal to 4,500 calories, so you would have to burn off 4,500 calories per day. The only way to do that would be to eat nothing AND run a marathon every day for 42 days. That's impossible. The only way to lose that much weight that quickly is either through dehydration or amputation. The ads are lying.”

With nothing better to do, I continued surfing until I found myself reading what I previously mentioned as the article I had always wanted to write. Obviously, someone already beat me to it. In 2002.

Eating Strategies for Permanent Fat Loss

It’s actually a handout created by Sheri Barke, MPH, RD, of the UCLA Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center. To learn more, explore the UCLA site she developed: Student Nutrition (& Body Image) Action Committee.

So, I can rest easy. The piece had been written. All I have to do now is bookmark and send the URL to my trainees. Thank you, Sheri Barke.

July 18, 2006

Happy Chickens

There’s this hype about eating organic.

“Organic” is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary in Answers.com as:

1. Of, marked by, or involving the use of fertilizers or pesticides that are strictly of animal or vegetable origin: organic vegetables; an organic farm.
2. Raised or conducted without the use of drugs, hormones, or synthetic chemicals: organic chicken; organic cattle farming.

I’d say I’m fortunate because I was raised on organic food. Back in the day, my parents grew fruits and vegetables in our backyard. We had a pond teeming with tilapia. We also had a small poultry so we raised our own chickens. I gathered our breakfast eggs by hand. Our chickens were raised on cracked corn and milled grain; our vegetables were fertilized with our chicken’s droppings. It was just how things were.

Of course, on a larger scale, the world needed to feed a multitude of people, so backyard farming wasn’t enough. Mad scientists had to create hormones and DNA strains that make livestock grow faster, bigger, and resistant to disease. They had to develop artificial environments that make fruits and vegetables give more... uhm... fruits and vegetables. They even resorted to genetic reengineering to grow transgenic papaya, potato clones, and headless chickens (sorry, that last one is an urban legend).

Everything went well, and everyone got fed (okay, almost everyone), until another group of mad scientists said all of these growth hormones, funky fertilizers, and pesky pesticides that help grow our food are making us all act weird. Not to mention that these genetically altered environments are upsetting our ecological balance, among other things.

So, we’re back to backyard, all-natural farming. Talk about retro. But now we pay premium for it. Why? Because in organic farms, free-roaming cows and cage-free chickens require more real estate, and eggs that have to be hand-gathered from nests scattered in the open range require more personnel. How about the need to hire more caregivers who must talk to vegetables to motivate them to grow big and prolific?

In short, after science and the economy had their way, now only the elite can eat organic. Elite because they can afford to buy from organic supermarkets, or elite because they can afford caretakers to grow their own produce and raise their own livestock in their own backyard. There’s irony there somewhere.

In any case, I must agree that organic/natural products do taste better than the alternative. I know. I used to water my father’s all-natural vegetable garden and feed my mother’s happy chickens.

Want more information about genetically altered foods and the organic food industry?

Arguments for and against genetically altered produce.

Genetically Altered Food: Myths and Realities

Is Whole Foods Wholesome? The dark secrets of the organic-food movement.

Here’s an article about a whole new crop of goodies:

Eat Your Hybrid Veggies

July 13, 2006

Treadmill Tunes

Long before I became a mountaineer (and that’s a long time ago!), I used U2’s The Joshua Tree album for my aerobic workouts.

For some reason, “Where The Streets Have No Name” and “With Or Without You” jibed well with my cardio workout rhythm. And that was before Tommy Lee Jones danced to these songs in the movie “Blown Away.”

Singing along with Bono (real name: Paul Hewson), I would jog in place and go through the warm-up routines I had learned as a student of Tae Kwon Do (okay, that’s even waaaay farther back – when everyone wanted to be Bruce Lee!). My routines were punches, blocks, and kicks, with the mandatory “kiya!”

Fast forward to today. Hell if my joints can still execute half of those karate moves, so I don’t even try. But I still do cardio with U2 – this time on a treadmill. I can’t do spinning back kicks anymore (I’ll be lucky to tear a ligament before I bash my head on a piece of furniture!), but on the treadmill, I can simulate hill climbing, and I can still dance-jog to the rhythm of “In God’s Country.”

In fact, I’ve created several playlists for my treadmill travails. These sets of tunes are 30 to 40 minutes long (my daily routine), some more aerobic than others. The first and last songs are warm-up and cool-down tunes; the ones in between vary from high-incline-slow-speed to no-incline-high-speed. Oh, no biggie... my high incline is only 10 degrees, and my high speed is a break-neck 3.0 mph, tops.

[Aside: The treadmill has a safety feature “key.” One end you attach to the machine, the other you clip on to your waistband just so if you fall, your body will tug the key off the machine and automatically kill it (kill the machine, that is, before it kills you). But, I don’t really want to have to experience that, so, I’m not braving any death-defying stunts like hoofing faster than 3 miles per hour. Maybe next year when I train for the marathon. Not.]

Here are my treadmill workout playlists so far:

U2 [The Joshua Tree]
With Or Without You
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
Where The Streets Have No Name
Red Hill Mining Town
Bullet The Blue Sky
In God’s Country
Trip Through Your Wires

Guns N’ Roses [Greatest Hits]
Welcome to the Jungle
Sympathy for the Devil
Sweet Child O’ Mine
Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door
You Could Be Mine
Don’t Cry

Metallica [Black Album]
Don’t Tread On Me
Sad But True
Enter Sandman
Wherever I May Roam
The God That Failed
The Unforgiven

A Night At The Roxbury [Soundtrack]
What Is Love
Make That Money
Do Ya Think I’m Sexy
Be My Lover
Pop Muzik
Beautiful Life
Little Bit of Ecstasy
Careless Whisper

Satriani [The Extremist]
The Extremist
Summer Song
Motorcycle Driver

Yanni [Live At The Acropolis]
Keys to Imagination
Acroyall/Standing in Motion
Within Attraction
Reflections of Passion

I load these playlists depending on my treadmill mood. Yanni’s set is more for routines similar to the feel of stair climbers and elliptical trainers –- apart from the warm-up and cool-down songs, the set features backgrounds to a steady “orchestral” uphill pacing on 10-degree inclines at 1.8 - 2.5 mph. The Roxbury soundtrack, on the other hand, is all aerobic – disco dancing type of jogging at 0-incline, 2.5 mph (I adjust my stride and pace to the rhythm of the song, and I flail my arms mimicking an elliptical workout). The rest of the sets are, well, just music I enjoy walking/jogging/trekking with.

I should make a few more playlists. Maybe The Rolling Stones or Led Zep. The rock bands are the best to treadmill with. I tried jogging with the jazz guys... no good. Classical, uhm… I’ll have to look again.

Counting more blessings

Last night I had dinner with a friend. Let’s call him John.

John is a survivor. He was diagnosed with cancer of the throat last year. After a series of chemo and radiation treatments, he’s finally cancer-free. As with most cancer patients, he lost a lot of hair and muscle. Other than that, you can see from the smile on his face and the spring on his step that he’s fully recovered. Not quite.

Over dinner, he told me that the radiation treatment for his throat killed not only the cancer cells, but also the roots of his teeth, his taste buds, and his salivary glands. Eating is now a horrendous ordeal.

Without saliva, the whole mouth would be dry, and everything you eat will be dry. Food particles will stick to your gums, teeth, tongue, and all over the mouth. And try bringing all that into your throat to swallow. Without saliva, the food will have a tough time going down. You’ll have to push every mouthful with a gulp of liquid.

John said he now knows how awful it feels to eat toast, chips, and nuts without the slimy natural fluids in his mouth. His doctor says he can eat anything so that he can regain his strength, but without saliva, even sweets and desserts stick to his mouth like glue. Eating is such a chore that he would often just forget about it altogether.

The doctors aren’t sure if or when John’s salivary glands will come back to life. In the meantime, he will have to come to terms with something that’s certainly much better than the alternative.

I congratulated John on his recovery and overwhelming strength of spirit. I was really happy to see him again. After we hugged and parted ways, I said to myself, “Next time I feel rock bottom and depressed about my state in life, I’ll count my blessings by starting with my fingers, and add: ‘My salivary glands work!’”

July 7, 2006

Notepad Log Files

Gosh, took me more than five years to discover that the handy Notepad was designed to be a journal. And I quote from a mailing list I subscribe to (Thanks, Jon Lewis):

Open a blank Notepad file.
Write .LOG (in uppercase) in the first line of the file, followed by Enter.
Save the file and close it.
Double-click the file to open it and notice that Notepad appends the current date and time to the end of the file and places the cursor on the line after.
Type your notes and then save and close the file.
Each time you open the file, Notepad repeats the process, appending the time and date to the end of the file and placing the cursor below it.

Here's a site that gave it as a Tip of the Day in... uhm... April 2001: WUGNET.com

And here's the word from Microsoft in 2004:
How to Use Notepad to Create a Log File.
(Of course, it also applies to XP.)

July 6, 2006

Best Pictures

Just finished watching "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" - the Oscar Best Picture for 1975.

I didn't know that aside from this movie, only two other films won the Top 5 Oscars for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, and Screenplay. The other two are "It Happened One Night" (1934) and "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991).

So, in my usual OCD thing, I looked up a list of all the best picture Oscar winners from time immemorial. Below is the list with an asterisk after the ones I've seen at least once. Of course, I now remember very little from the movies I've seen, but that's why I'm writing this now -- I want to see these gems again.

Those 60s and 70s ones would be fun to relive. This time I'll have a new perspective from the first time. Like in the Cuckoo's Nest... many of the actors were just being discovered then... like Danny DeVito and Christopher Lloyd (his first movie). Brad Dourif, our favorite Grima Wormtongue in LOTR was here billed as "and introducing..."

This should be a fun project. I'll tack this list on my wall and see how many films I can tick off for however long this journey takes. Netflix is flashing its "ca-ching" grin right now.

2005 - Crash *
2004 - Million Dollar Baby *
2003 - Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King *
2002 - Chicago *
2001 - A Beautiful Mind
2000 - Gladiator *
1999 - American Beauty *
1998 - Shakespeare In Love *
1997 - Titanic *
1996 - The English Patient *
1995 - Braveheart *
1994 - Forrest Gump *
1993 - Schindler'S List *
1992 - Unforgiven *
1991 - The Silence Of The Lambs *
1990 - Dances With Wolves *
1989 - Driving Miss Daisy *
1988 - Rain Man *
1987 - The Last Emperor *
1986 - Platoon *
1985 - Out Of Africa
1984 - Amadeus
1983 - Terms Of Endearment
1982 - Gandhi *
1981 - Chariots Of Fire *
1980 - Ordinary People
1979 - Kramer Vs. Kramer *
1978 - The Deer Hunter *
1977 - Annie Hall *
1976 - Rocky *
1975 - One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest *
1974 - The Godfather Part II *
1973 - The Sting *
1972 - The Godfather *
1971 - The French Connection *
1970 - Patton *
1969 - Midnight Cowboy *
1968 - Oliver! *
1967 - In The Heat Of The Night
1966 - A Man For All Seasons *
1965 - The Sound Of Music *
1964 - My Fair Lady *
1963 - Tom Jones
1962 - Lawrence Of Arabia *
1961 - West Side Story *
1960 - The Apartment
1959 - Ben Hur *
1958 - Gigi
1957 - The Bridge On The River Kwai *
1956 - Around The World In 80 Days *
1955 - Marty
1954 - On The Waterfront
1953 - From Here To Eternity *
1952 - The Greatest Show On Earth *
1951 - An American In Paris
1950 - All About Eve
1949 - All The King's Men
1948 - Hamlet *
1947 - Gentleman's Agreement
1946 - Best Years Of Our Lives
1945 - The Lost Weekend
1944 - Going My Way
1943 - Casablanca *
1942 - Mrs. Miniver
1941 - How Green Was My Valley
1940 - Rebecca
1939 - Gone With The Wind *
1938 - You Can't Take It With You
1937 - The Life Of Emile Zola
1936 - The Great Ziegfeld
1935 - Mutiny On The Bounty *
1934 - It Happened One Night
1933 - Cavalcade
1932 - Grand Hotel
1931 - Cimarron
1930 - All Quiet On The Western Front
1929 - The Broadway Melody
1928 - Wings

Oh, and ye, I liked Cuckoo's Nest much more this time around. Excellent movie, certainly deserving of the Top 5 Oscars.

July 4, 2006

For the loogah

“Scuse me, while I kiss this guy!” – Jimi Hendrix (or not)

Back in a previous life, I had a pocketbook of misheard song lyrics entitled Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy.

I wish I still had that book. It would be fun to go over it again, now that I’ve had a more extensive exposure to rock songs—the major source of misheard lyrics.

“Clown control to Mao Tse Tung.” (Ground control to Major Tom.) – David Bowie
“It’s a hard egg.” (It’s a heartache.) – Bonnie Tyler
“Sweet dreams are made of cheese.” (Sweet dreams are made of these.) - Eurythmics

Last night, I was listening to a collection of Steely Dan songs from their Citizen Steely Dan: 1972-1980 box set.

I never used to bother with the lyrics, much less what they mean, since most of the time Fagen’s lyric poetry could hold a candle to... uhm... Beowulf. But this time, “Third World Man” bothered me.

The song went... or at least it sounded like:

Soon you’ll throw down your disguise
We’ll see behind those bright eyes
Flying by
When the sidewalks are safe
For the loogah

“For the loogah”?! What the heck is a loogah?! That couldn't have been "lugaw" (porridge in Tagalog).

Of course, the whole stanza didn’t make sense at all, but I didn’t care, I just wanted to know what he said that sounded like "loogah"!

Thank heavens for the Internet, I found a site that listed the lyrics of “Third World Man.” LyricsFreak.com.

“Flying by” is actually “By and by” and “the loogah” is actually “the little guy.”

The whole song still didn't make sense... but now I can sleep.

But then again, who can sleep after watching THIS?! How do you wash your brain with soap?