Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Can Wii Fit get you fit?

I just read the review of a study on the effects of using Wii Fit. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) did a study on 16 volunteers (20-24 years of age) and measured how much energy they used while playing. The results showed that the two most active games that they tested burned about 5.5 calories per minute, more or less. This isn't really too many when you consider that "passionate kissing" can burn nearly 6.5 calories per minute. However, the researchers were quick to point out that if you were to do the same Wii Fit activity but in real time (as in go outside for a run or take a step-aerobics class instead of doing it on the board) you could burn nearly twice as many calories...per minute anyway.

So here's what I'm thinking about this. A large percentage of Americans are overweight. A large percentage of Americans were (or are) overweight as children and never learned that activity could be fun or rewarding. I think alot of people think that exercise is uncomfortable because you get hot, sweaty, maybe even sore. If you're unaccustomed to these natural physical reactions to exertion I can understand that they may seem unpleasant! Whereas if you ran around the yard or park like a maniac when you were little until the sun went down, you may be more inclined to enjoy doing the things that make you sweaty!

For those who don't think that exercise is that fun, Wii fit is a great idea! I hope it catches on like a "gateway" drug; people starting with Wii Fit and moving on to long hikes and gym classes!
While Wii Fit may not be able to get fit people fitter, if it can drum up INTEREST in physical activity then go forth Wii Fit!

And to cover all bases here, Wii Sports was mentioned in the conclusive article also. While they didn't get the stats, the researchers recommend playing Wii Sports if you want more of a calorie burn (this is an assumption based on the fact that there is an observed increase in movement without the confines of the WiiFit board). I recommend playing it with others for even more calorie burn! Anyone who has played tennis or boxing with friends can attest to this. I'd be willing to say that there's a good number of us out there that have woken up sore the next day from Wii Tennis, Boxing, or even Bowling. I'm not sure you can get stronger this way. But I'd love to see people saying, "hey, this boxing/tennis thing is fun...I think I'll try it for real."

yeah. That's what I'm hoping for.
You can read the article here:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Passion in the unlikeliest of places...

Hmm, apparently some people feel VERY passionate about their chemicals! I received two comments on my last post that were... informative. I published them both if you'd like to read them.

So to sum up, there are two (possibly one) person or company that thinks I'm an idiot for not following the pack on this. But you know, it IS possible for someone (namely myself) to have indeed read the research and can STILL believe that this product is harmful to some people. Indeed, I think it's harmful to ALL people. Just because the studies didn't seem to find anything namely wrong with the subjects does NOT mean a product is harmless.

I am referring to sucralose here, not the drink Celsius. [To creators of Celsius; I am sure your test subjects did lose weight and all the other jazz that is listed on your website and in your comment. I was only concerned that your can design tries to persuade me that you have a completely natural product. No, you are right it doesn't say that, but by proudly stating you don't include HFCS and aspartame you INFER that your product is all natural, but then you add sucralose to it. Why not use honey and tout the benefits of B-vitamins? Oh, because then if you add enough honey to make it sweet enough it'd be too many calories? Yeah, so this brings up a problem rampant in America; God forbid it's not sweet!]

I am aware there have been studies done on sucralose. And I am aware that the FDA has cleared sucralose. But you see, I dont trust the FDA to make decisions entirely free from per$ua$ion of the big ol' lobbies. If you aren't aware, sucralose was discovered when researchers at London College were testing for new insecticides. Sweet!

As far as the studies on sucralose's general safety is concerned, it is indeed impossible to monitor every living cell in the body, so don't you think something may have started to deteriorate or go awry that the testers didn't test for or notice? Do you take someone elses summary of a study and take that summary as gospel? Maybe if you don't want to read the study, but then don't go blasting others for not being up to date with their science. Even if you google 'is sucralose dangerous' you will bring up plenty of posts by people that have had troubles with it in addition to scientists that disagree with it having been labelled 'safe'.

I personally cannot stop people from using sucralose. However, I will tell people that I know three people that can, with little doubt, link their particular (and all different) health troubles to sucralose. One of them is myself. Seven painful months missing days at work, in and out of the hospital taking a battery of tests from STDs to cancer to no avail until one day my mother told me to stop using sucralose and BAM! I started having relief in less than three days although it took upwards of a year to heal thoroughly. So pardon me if I dont bow before the summaries of these studies that claim this product is safe.

If one person reads this and stops using sucralose I will be satisfied.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

What constitutes "Artificial"?!

So I was just scanning through a Women's Health mag at the gym I work at. An advertisement for a new calorie-burning soda caught my attention. Of course, I go to the website and look at their science and ingredients. Regardless of whether or not I think this beverage is a good idea or if it works, looking at the drinks marketing made me wonder what constitutes "articial" and "flavor"?

On the website for the drink Celsius, you can see the image of their lovely can and then turn it around to get the whole "picking it up in the store" effect. Great. So it says (along with check marks so that we can be sure they're referring to their own product) "No Sugar. No Carbs. No Aspartame. No High Fructose Corn Syrup. No Artificial Colors or Flavors." But they DO use sucralose, the artificial sweetener from hell.

I am SO mad when marketers use the No-this, No-that technique to show how wonderful their product is.

  • But if I wouldn't want Aspartame in my drink, why for **** sake would I want to drink Sucralose?!! DUH!!
  • If I refuse to drink Artificial colors or flavors, why would drinking Sparkling Orange flavored chlorine molecules be alright? Um, it ISN'T!

If you have a natural product it's natural and there' s NO bs in it. If you have a fake-o product, don't dress it up to be natural. One dreadfully poisonous ingredient is enough to ruin all your natural ingredients. And yes, in case you missed my previous rants, Sucralose is an awful poisonous sugar alternative that I think will have major lawsuits in the future. While I dont expect the Celsius makers to change their ways (because they don't care how good your health-report card is as long as you keep purchasing their product) I would like you to steer clear of products that are no good for you.

If you want to burn 100 calories go walk a mile. The 100 calories the can claims it can remove will NOT help your cardiovascular system get stronger. It will not help you build muscle and therefore shape...yeah, all those sexy dips, curves and lines you like are created by muscle.

Personal training is the only magic weight-loss ingredient I can think of that's genuine. Your trainer helps you to lose weight (or gain if that is your goal), build confidence, balance, strength, agility, coordination and helps you continuously long after you've met your initial goal. Why? First because its rewarding, second because its fun as hell to help folks learn about themselves and their bodies.

Your trainer loves you!

Now put that celsius ad down and go for a walk!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Weight Loss Secret Revealed At Last!

I feel like I have an okay idea of what's going on as far as fitness, food and health are concerned, so whenever I hear that there's a "secret" my ears perk up. I wonder, what kind of silliness are they going to sell me? or I wonder, is there something new?

So when I was driving back from Bradley International Airport in Connecticut the other morning I heard on the radio, "Stay tuned, the best secret to losing weight and keeping it off is coming up next!" I had to stay tuned in! Then they added a clue in their next teaser, "what your mother told you when you were little is true!" So immediately I thought they were going to tell us the secret was to eat our vegetables. I'd agree with that, as long as you don't consider french fries to be vegetables (Dont laugh too hard, plenty of americans DO consider them to be vegetables! For nutrition purposes, they aren't!)

So what was this miraculous secret weight loss tip? "Eat slower!"

I nodded, it's true. Americans eat too quickly! We have been trained to shovel food into our pie-holes as quickly as is humanly possible. We chew chew chew for a couple bites and load our fork again before we have even swallowed the last mouth of food.

Slow down people! Breathe, chew, enjoy! But it's not that easy is it?! The average person chews their food about 10 times before swallowing, but we should be chewing upwards of 30 to 40 times per mouthful! But again, it's not as easy as simply chewing MORE. Different foods require different amounts of attention, ie raw carrots vs Wonder White bread. For fun, try timing yourself in real time eating a white bread bologna sandwich versus eating sliced roast beef and a few cups of home made cabbage/broccoli slaw. A little different huh?
P.S. By the way, I in no way condone the eating of white bread or american bologna.

So here's a problem: If we can lose weight by eating less by chewing more (and thereby allowing our bodies those 20 minutes to register the food in our belly and tell us we're full), what happens when the food we're eating is DESIGNED to dissolve after only 5-10 chews? Wouldn't you be mad if you found out that there are food scientists out there designing "diet food" for you that you can wolf down easily? Wouldn't you be mad to know that they design food that is SCIENTIFICALLY irresistible? You know what? These scientists exist and are paid VERY well to make foods that will sell (because they promise heart health, antioxidants, low fat etc) but that will hook you and are designed to be eaten quickly and therefore to keep you fat!

The lesson to be learned? Don't be fooled by labels, look beyond the buzz words and slogans and pretty colors! Eat real foods, ones that are designed by nature. Remember, earth doesn't grow bread, pastries, cake or even diet food! Seeds, fruits, vegetables and meat all take a good number of chews to adequately liquify. These real foods that are complete and whole were designed for nutrition, not to pad the bottom line! You won't even have to count your chews, which if you've ever tried is actually quite irksome. You will just have to keep chewing or you will end up swallowing your food whole...and you are no snake!

No matter HOW enticing a box label is, remember that Nature made her food perfect for you the first time! The fewer ingredients your diet has the better you will feel and the more you will be able to do!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Good Article alert!

I found this article on while I was reading about Mongolia's current status and their not-so-secret disatisfaction with China. Anyway this article is about how the food industry tries to, as the author calls it "hijack your brain". I think you should read it if you have ever asked why it was that you were craving potato skins SO BADLY! Or if even after your completely satisfying dinner salad (no cheese or croutons, dressing on the side) you couldn't help but give in to the siren song of the peanut butter brownie sundae! I thought I was partially mad when I would look at advertisments images on t.v. showing fried chicken, corn, mashed potatoes and biscuits and translating it as fat-salt, sugar-salt, sugar-fat-salt and more sugar-fat-salt. Now I know it isn't just me! This writer is crazy too!

Oh, and if you have ever eaten the KFC grilled chicken thinking you were doing something good then this article is worth a read for you too.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Magic (Sweaty) Bullet Is Not for Sissies!

There is no "magic bullet" for health and fitness per se. But that doesn't change the fact that we know what needs to be done to have good health and to be fit; eat well and exercise. So it's really more like a path than a bullet. A family member asked me recently, "hey michelle, can you write down how I can be as skinny as you? But it can't include eating too differently or exercising at all. I hate to sweat." Ooooh kaaaay.

Do you hate to sweat? That's kind of like saying you hate to pee. Sorry, it's just going to happen regardless of how you feel about it and the longer you don't do it, the more upset your body is going to be! Sweating is what your body does in order to cool itself down. As your body temperature rises, several things occur. In order to maintain a constant internal temperature your body will direct blood the surface of your skin to expose it to a circulating air current to cool it down. That is why your skin flushes when you get hot or you exercise. Similarly, your skin will allow moisture out to in order to let it evaporate. It's not the sweating itself that cools the body but the evaporation of that sweat that helps to cool us down.

If you started exercising after a long time of not exercising you may be confused by sweating. It is possible that you might not seem to be sweating for quite awhile into your workout. But then as you become more and more adjusted to exercising frequently you might start to sweat more and more often and sooner into your workout than you did at the beginning. What's going on?! Well, research has proven that folks that exercise more or who are more acclimated to hot temperatures start to sweat sooner then those who don't or who aren't. Their body's internal temp starts to rise and the body says, "Alert! Steady temp increase noted, due to recognizable pattern expect increase to continue. Initiate cooling system: sweat!" So the sooner into your exercise session that your body starts to sweat, the better and more efficient the cooling effect will be. Sweating is not a sign of weakness. Sweating is not a sign to others that you are unfit, or whatever you imagine. No one at the gym or on the trail is thinking, "Eew, that guy is TOTALLY sweating! That's gross."

So now that you're over the whole sweat thing, you should know that because your body knows what to do and is going to sweat more you need to keep your eye on your fluids! If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated! As you start to work out in the sun and heat more make sure you slowly adjust to it. Start your workouts shorter and less intense then usual and gradually add time to your workouts, but don't add intensity for a bit. It's a fluid flux; add more time first, then shorten your workout and up the intensity a bit and so on. It's like if you went to Denver, you probably wouldn't expect to do the same workout you normally do at the same intensity etc until you were adjusted to the altitude right? Instead of altitude this is heat and humidity.

Does this sound sissy to you? Maybe it'll seem important when I tell you that this slow adjustment is important for your heart. You've already learned that your body has to move a greater quantity of blood to the skin's surface when you are exercising in the heat. Think of how much work your heart has to do to shuttle a higher volume of blood through all those tight little capillaries in your skin.Now figure in your body temperature itself and figure in the 10 beats per minute that your heart beats for every single degree that temperature rises. Okay, so then add the added stress of working out, your heart is beating to keep your muscles supplied with blood! This is a boat load of work that your heart has to do!

It doesn't sound so sissy now to warm up and to take your time to acclimate yourself to higher temps, more humidity and more exercise. Exercise is crucial to your health, hopefully you will see that taking the time to warm up and strengthen your heart (even though you cannot see it) is just as crucial!

If you need more information regarding proper hydration and what quantities are adequate for you, I would recommend using a search enginge to find more information about your particular scenario (hydration while hiking, cycling, swimming, etc). If you need a general jumping off point, you can visit the hydration calculator!

Happy sweating!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Summer; no excuses!

I was just contemplating the weather and the season. Most of us have just spent winter all bundled up and trying to minimize time spent in the driving wind and snow. Now it's getting warmer outside and the snow has gone. The trees have unfurled their last new leaf and the spring bloomers have fallen. It's officially summer now (officially as in on Sunday, June 21st) and with the winter chill should go your inhibitions about working out.

Okay, so you don't belong to a gym.
Okay, so maybe you don't have alot of equipment, or any equipment!
Okay, so you think you've "tried everyth..." Stop, don't even try it!

So does all this mean that you're condemned to being a slug? Gosh, I hope not! Then you're pants really WON'T fit! So now it's early summer. The weather is bright (unless you live in Connecticut in which case it's pretty rainy). All of us are able to find some grass somewhere and a big park if you're fortunate! So go out there and get moving.

How you ask? Well, what better way to find out what you like to do then by being unburdened by rules?! You know about pushups and sit ups, walking and running, walking lunges and some others. Start with what you know! Go for a walk or a run and work these other things in. There are no rules when you're on your own listening to your own body! Do what you feel!
  1. You can run zig-zags on the trail, you can run sideways even!
  2. Run to the light post and then do walking lunges to the next one. Repeat.
  3. Run backwards for 20 paces, then do 10 pushups, run forward to the next tree, then do 10 situps.

I find this kind of "play" very rewarding because there aren't any rules! It's almost like meditation because you are making up your workout as you go simply by being aware of what your body is telling your brain instead of the other way around! Nice swap for a change huh?

Don't think this entry is aimed at children because it involves fun, I'm aiming it at YOU! If you can learn to have fun in this one body of yours, you will find it hard to spend much time on the couch in front of the tube.

P.S. Don't worry about the weather either. Some of my favorite hiking and running memories have come from being rained on; and we're talking drenching driving rain! Even hot & humid days have their place. If you expose yourself to this type of weather then your body adapts to it so that future humid days won't seem quite as ugly as they used to seem! You know how you can't ever wait for the perfect moment for any one thing because then it will never come? Same thing here. Don't wait for the perfect weather because you will never notice how perfect it is until you get out into it! Enjoy!