The Failure of the Health/Fitness/Obesity Industry

Aaaaarrrgggghhhhh……I am so frustrated.

Yesterday, I met with new client for the first time.

Over the past 30+ years, this woman has tried and failed to lose 20 pounds and get into “shape”

  • She has consulted with doctors and trainers and nutritionists and naturopaths.
  • She has bought books and magazines and dvds and subliminal audio programs.
  • She has starved herself of calories and fat and carbs.
  • She has run and jumped and stretched and lifted and sweated…a lot.
  • She has taken thousands of pills and potions.
  • She has rubbed on various creams and lotions.

In short, she has done just about everything that every popular health/fitness/weight-loss expert has told her to do.

And yet, she has never really come close to achieving her health & fitness goals.

And she blames herself.

And so do the experts.

They told her that their program was guaranteed to work…but only if she followed their instructions with perfect compliance.

So, when the program failed, it was because she broke the rules. It was her fault.

What a load of B.S.

  • They are supposed to be the experts.
  • They promise a solution.
  • She pays them large amounts of money for that solution.
  • And yet they take no responsibility for their part in the process

The nutritionist/dietitian gave her a meal plan, but never told her how to cope with the cravings and hunger pangs that came along with it.

The trainer billed her $120 per session but never taught her the hows and whys of an effective training program.

The weight loss doctor gave her a diet and some B12 injections and then yelled at her when she broke her 1000 calorie / no-carb diet.


So, why is it that after 30+ years of listening to the experts and spending thousands and thousands of dollars, this woman is still fatter and weaker and less healthy than she wants to be?


Is it all her fault?

Is it the fault of the experts?

A bit of both?


And, is there a better way?


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This is what happens when Health Habits doesn’t eat healthy

Yesterday was my wife’s birthday.

Instead of going out to a restaurant, I offered to cook one of her favorite meals:

  • Vegetable lasagna with 4 types of cheese
  • Garlic bread dripping with butter
  • Caesar salad
  • Ice cream for dessert
  • and a bottle of pinot grigio to wash it all down

veg lasagna

Mmmmmmm good…seriously. It tasted great. I make a really good lasagna.

However, this morning…

I feel like crap.

  • No energy
  • My sinuses are all stuffed up
  • Headache
  • Bloated – my wedding ring feels like it’s be soldered onto my finger
  • Heartburn
  • Stomach rumblin’ & grumblin”
  • I am craving carbs like crazy
  • And my face is all puffy…I have “bread head”

Bread Head…dammit!!!

Drink more soda…it’s good for you

Not everyone is happy with the anti-obesity/anti-soda ad produced by the NYC Dept of Health.

soda obesity nyc

And it isn’t just the people who lost their lunches after seeing that globby/fatty/veiny cup of goo.

It’s groups like the Center for Consumer Freedom.

In fact, the CCF was so upset, that they produced their own rebuttal ad and had it printed in the New York Times

you are too stupid consumer freedom

BTW, a full page ad in the Times costs upwards of $158,004.


And we’re not even including the costs associated with creating the ad.

We’re talking big money.


And thinking about that big money awakened the skeptic in me. And that inner skeptic started thinking…who is the Center for Consumer Freedom and why are they spending a ton of money defending our freedoms against anti-cola advertisements?

So, I did a little research into the CCF.

My findings?

Apparently, there are a lot of people who don’t like the CCF.

To them, the CCF is nothing but a front group for the restaurant, alcohol and tobacco industries.

It runs media campaigns which oppose the efforts of scientists, doctors, health advocates, environmentalists and groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, calling them “the Nanny Culture — the growing fraternity of food cops, health care enforcers, anti-meat activists, and meddling bureaucrats who ‘know what’s best for you.’ ”

Over 40 percent of the group’s 2005 expenditure was paid to Rick Berman’s PR company, Berman & Co. for “management services. As part of its operations CCF runs a series of attack websites.


But, don’t take their word for it….Check out the “attack” websites

And, if that ain’t enough, watch this video…

Or listen to the man himself as Rick Berman is interviewed by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow…

So, what do you think?

Is Rick Berman…

  • standing up for your freedom against the American nanny state?
  • or is he spinning lies in order to promote the interests of his anonymous donors?


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Can America’s Food Producers Save Us From Obesity?

30 of America’s biggest food producers have come together to form the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation.

It’s kind of like the Justice League of America, but instead of fighting comic book super villains, the HWCF is fighting against obesity.

Justice League of America

Their plan is to do this by “helping consumers lead healthier lives by making energy balance – calories in balanced with calories out – a daily habit”.

We will do this by increasing access and opportunities for physical activity, healthier nutrition options and raising awareness of the energy balance approach…

…in the marketplace….

…participating companies are committing to build on existing efforts and will be making changes to their products, packaging and labeling to make it easier for consumers to manage their calorie intake while preserving or enhancing overall nutrition quality.

Specific options companies may undertake include:

  • product reformulation and innovation;
  • providing smaller portions;
  • redesigning packaging and labeling;
  • placing calorie information on the front of products;
  • providing consumers with information and educational materials;
  • and in-store promotion of the initiative.

…in the workplace…

…participating companies will undertake new or enhance existing programs to help employees achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

This may include:

  • providing calorie information and healthier food and beverage options in cafeterias,
  • vending machines and break rooms;
  • providing access to exercise at work through individual and group activities;
  • offering weight management programs;
  • and implementing tools to track progress, like health risk appraisals.

…and in schools…

…the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation will expand the successful Healthy Schools Partnership to additional schools around the country.  The Healthy Schools Partnership integrates nutrition education and physical education through a school-based curriculum to help children develop lifelong positive healthy habits.

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it.

  • Healthier food products
  • Improved and expanded nutrition information
  • and lots and lots of money being spent to help improve our fitness levels

So, how come I feel dirty.

Like I have just been lied to.

Hmmmm, it seems like my Spidey-Sense is tingling.

spidey sense


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Just in case America isn’t fat enough…

taco bell fourth meal

As the debate over President Obama’s healthcare proposal rages on, Taco Bell continues to give Americans exactly what they crave….melty, crunchy, spicy and heart attack inducing.

I especially love the tagline at the end…

taco bell it's not just food fourth meal

Of course, I would change it just a little bit.

taco bell not real food


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The Lazy Man’s Guide to Getting Ripped

A few weeks ago, I was talking to a potential client. He told me that he would love to get fit, but he just doesn’t have the time.

He’s just too busy with work, kids, internet porn, etc…


He’s not busy…he’s lazy.

And he’s not alone.

According to the WHO, there are 3.6 billion lazy guys sitting on couches all around the world.

And the trainer who can help those lazy buggers transform their lazy asses from….


…is going to be rich.


So, here we go. The lazy man’s guide to getting ripped….or as I like to call it – My ticket to becoming filthy, stinking rich.

(BTW, this story is based on a real client. We have been training for one week. He has already lost 5 lbs.)


Meal # 1 – Breakfast

  • 1 Tbsp of Fish Oil
  • 3 medium sized Apple or Pears
  • 3 fried or hard boiled Eggs
  • Water or Tea
  • 5 grams of Leucine

Meal # 2 – Morning Coffee Break

My client works in an office. Each morning, he has a mandatory group meeting. Coffee & pastries are served.

  • 1 Coffee (with cream)
  • 15 Almonds (brought to work in a little Ziploc baggie)
  • Water

Meal # 3 – Lunch

Big Salad – consisting of

  • Salad Greens (pre-washed, pre-chopped)
  • 1 can of tuna or salmon, or 3 more hard boiled eggs, or leftover meat from last night’s dinner
  • Olive Oil
  • Lemon Juice or Vinegar
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 5 grams of Leucine
  • Water

Before our hero goes to bed at night, he rips open the bag of greens and dumps it into the tupperware container. Same goes for the protein. In the morning he pours in the oil, lemon juice & salt and pepper. Come lunch time, he shakes the container and presto he has his Big Salad

Meal # 4 – Afternoon Snack

  • 1 Coffee (with cream)
  • 15 Almonds (brought to work in a little Ziploc baggie)
  • Water

Meal # 5 – Workout Nutrition

Meal # 6 – Dinner

  • Another Big Salad or steamed vegetables prepared with a microwave steaming bag
  • BBQ – steak or chicken or fish or pork or lamb or….
  • 5 grams of Leucine
  • 1 Tbsp of Fish Oil
  • Water


I have designed a training program specific to his needs, injuries, muscle imbalances, etc…

But the basic design of the program is:

  • 3x per week total body HIRT workouts
  • 2x per week HIIT/Cardio workouts on his stationary bike
  • 1 x per week active rest – long walks with his wife, soccer with the kids, etc…
  • Dynamic stretching at each workout designed to correct imbalances & prevent injuries


As I mentioned above, the client has lost 5 lbs in the first week.

And while that certainly is good news, what really excites me is the fact that he has been perfect on his meal compliance.

He said that it was easy…EASY!!!

But, that was the first week. Let’s see how he does this week. I will report back on Sunday.

BTW, if anyone needs some help setting up a plan like this one, I would be glad to help.


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Spice Month Round Up

Spice Stall in France

For those of you who are regular followers of the site, now you will no doubt be experts in using spices from that infamous spice rack in your kitchen. For the entire month of August I gave you guys recipes containing the most popular spices requested. What I’ve decided to do today is give a run down of what we made as well as highlight some other recipes that I’ve used containing your requests. Now it’s time to tuck into that rack (that didn’t sound so good, did it?) and get cookin’!

We kicked off the proceedings with one of my faves….
Allspice. I did a Jerk seasoned trio of recipes with this bad boy just so everyone could try it out with no excuses! Tell me, who made the jerk sauce? I also busted out a Banana Buckwheat Muffin recipe using allspice for all my baking buddies. Now, these were the business even though I’m not renowned as a ‘Pat the Baker’.
Other GM (Gavan Murphy) allspice recipes:
Healthy fresh baked apple tart
Homemade ketchup
Lamb Burgers

Next up was a bit of a surprise but Dried Thyme got the nod here. I had had a request for a healthy chowder recipe so being all about giving, as I am (by my own admission) that’s what I did. This is my no dairy/no butter version which turned out really well. I must prefer to use fresh thyme over dried since nearly all of my recipes call for fresh. Not to worry, remember our conversion? (If not, click chowder link to refresh your memory).

Spiced Okra

The one spice I thought would come in first place (I guess isn’t as hard for people) was Turmeric. By the way, is there a reason why we pronounce it TOO-Mer-ic? I really enjoyed working with it and figured since turmeric is a Middle Eastern spice, making an Indian dish was the best way to go. I made a Spiced Bindi (Okra) (Above) dish as well as Turmeric roasted mini potatoes with Arugula (or Rocket known across the pond–that one’s for you Eske). Because I was into using this so much I popped out a third recipe, Moroccan Quinoa Salad. This is gooood and a great healthy grain to boot. Still looking for help on my sad little Tikka Salmon, though…any takers?

Continue reading the full recipe and don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to the NEW Healthy Irishman Newsletter!

Fueling your body with healthy food. Fueling your mind with the wealth of health.

Copyright © 2009 The Healthy Irishman. All rights reserved.

Recipe for a Fat Man

Matt McClain - Rocky Mountain News
Matt McClain - Rocky Mountain News

Reading the comments from my last two posts (here and here), I was struck by the very strong, yet very different opinions about the cause(s) of obesity.

Some people believe in ye olde Calories in vs Calories Out theory, while others believe in the power of insulin while others blame their DNA.

So, I raise the question….Is there a one size fits all cause / cure for obesity?

Or are there a whole bunch of factors coming together to create America’s obesity epidemic?

To aid in the discussion, I have put together a list of the factors that I think influence human obesity.

Feel free to comment/criticize or add to the list

Determinants of Obesity



  • Quantity of food – Calories
  • Quantity of food – Volume
  • Type and Quality of food – Macronutrients – Carbs, Fat, Protein
  • Type and Quality of food – MicronutrientsVitamins, Minerals, Enzymes, Phytochemicals, etc…
  • Type and Quality of food – Nutrient Density v.s Caloric Density
  • Your beliefs and emotions regarding food – food as pleasure, food as fuel
  • Dining habits – eat on the run vs sit down dinner

Your Body

Your Life

Physical Activity

As you can see, there are a lot of factors that influence obesity.

I didn’t even get into all of the bleeding edge obesity research.

The search for an obesity cure never ends. Just today, there were two new obesity discoveries (here and here). Tomorrow, there will probably be two more.

But for now, I think we have enough on our plate.

BTW, feel free to critique or add to the list.


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The Reason Why Diets Don’t Work


Every January, a flood of new diet books push their way onto the shelves of your local bookstore.

And each promises to contain the secret to successful weight loss.


Unfortunately, they’re all wrong.

And what’s even worse, is that most of them don’t even know how wrong they are.


That’s because most diet gurus focus on the external factors of weight loss – food, exercise, supplements.

These are the counting calories, counting carbs, eating nothing by grapefruit kind of diet gurus.


Luckily for us all, in the past few years, we have begun to see the evolution of the diet guru.

This new breed of diet expert will not only tell you what to eat and how to move, but they will teach you how to think and how to self-motivate yourself towards a slimmer, trimmer you.

Motivation. That’s the ticket.


Without proper motivation, dieters cheat.

A little at first. And then a little more. And then a little more.

And soon enough, they are sucking back pints of Ben & Jerrys like there’s no tomorrow.


So, there we go. The solution to all of our diet woes is motivation.


Except, the experts have got it wrong again.


They think that motivation through external punishment or reward is the path to weight loss.

For example, in the past few months, a plan to slim America’s collective waistline by means of a tax on soft drinks (and other forms of junk food) has been discussed.

At first, the plan was proposed by New York Governor David Paterson. His fat tax failed due to public backlash. But now, it has the backing of the American Heart Association.

And with that mainstream scientific show of support, the possibility of a national fat tax becomes much more likely.

Too bad it won’t work.

Obesity is not an external problem. It is a complex internal problem involving neurochemicals, nutrients, hormones, dna, enzymes and perhaps most importantly thoughts, feelings and motivations.

And those thoughts, feelings and motivations require a internal solution where we:

  1. Take responsibility for our own health
  2. Create a burning desire to constantly improve the state of our own health
  3. Help others make a similar transformation.


But the experts don’t want you to know that.

Otherwise, you wouldn’t buy their book.


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Carb Junkie Weekend


Last week, a client of mine volunteered to act as my personal guinea pig for an completely un-scientific look at the effect of sugar and insulin on the human body.

The Experiment

From Monday to Thursday, my client (Mr.X) followed a diet consisting of fresh vegetables (no root vegetables or squash), berries, small amounts of nuts & seeds, unprocessed animal protein, unprocessed fats, salt, spices, coffee with cream, tea, water and 1 tbsp of fish oil per day.

From Friday to Sunday, he could eat whatever he wanted.

Come Monday morning, we would take some measurements and assess how his body responded to both diets.

The Back Story on Mr. X

First of all, I should mention that Mr.X is a frustrating client.

He has had great results in spite of ignoring at least half of my dietary recommendations. The SOB has lost over 25 lbs and gained 8 lbs of muscle in 4 1/2 months due mainly to his response to the training program. And because he has done so well, he thinks that he doesn’t need to change his eating to get the results he wants.

And I do.

Ergo, our little experiment. 2 guys with 2 big egos make a stupid bet.

I win and he follows the diet with no questions asked.

He wins and I train him for free for the next month (bye bye $960)


Monday was a breeze. He was motivated and followed the diet to the letter.

Tuesday was a little tougher. Cravings for his morning bagel and a date at an Italian restaurant made him cranky. I received an expletive filled email from the restaurant.

Wednesday & Thursday went great. He was starting to get used to the diet and he reported that his energy levels were higher throughout the day. I noticed an improvement in his anaerobic endurance during Wednesday’s workout.

Thursday evening was interesting. He actually began to plan out his meal plans for the coming three days. Like a kid the night before Christmas.

As well, on Thursday we measured his blood pressure & pulse rate – BP dropped from 118/76 to 112/71 and resting pulse from 66 to 58.

He lost 4 lbs.

And, we saw a 1/16″ decrease across his chest and 1/8″ around his love handle region

Next up, the weekend of carb binging.

Friday was interesting. Mr. X wasn’t really hungry. But he wanted to eat. So, instead of reverting to his usual bagel & coffee, he went to a restaurant for a pancake breakfast.

And here’s where things start to go downhill.

He actually fell asleep at work. Head on the desk. Snoring.

But, he woke up in time to go out for lunch with the gang at the office – Fried stuff and beer.

He managed to stay awake through the afternoon.

After work, he worked out with me…sort of. It was one of the worst workouts he has ever had. No energy. No strength. And he almost puked.


On Saturday, he slept in, skipped breakfast and had pizza for lunch. Dinner was bbq with salad.

Hmmm grilled meat and vegetables. Sounds like Mon-Thurs diet to me.

On Sunday, he felt better and his appetite was back. Breakfast was his bagel & coffee. Lunch was a sandwich with fries and dinner was pasta at another restaurant. Mr. X was back.

Follow Up

On Monday, we took the measurements again.

Love handles and chest measurements were back to normal.

Blood pressure and resting pulse were 130/87 and 71.  An increase of 18/16

He gained back the 4 lbs. + 2 more.

His face was bloated.

He had an intense craving for carbs, especially wheat products.

And he hadn’t pooped since Saturday.


The Mon-Thurs diet improved numerous markers of health, gave him more energy, improved his athletic performance and helped him drop more weight.

But, he did miss his morning bagel. Boo Hoo

Conversely, the Fri-Sun diet made him weaker, fatter, sicker and changed his hunger for carbs from a 5 out of 10 to a 9 out of 10.


Starting this week, Mr. X is back on the Mon-Thurs healthy diet full time.

I am using a compliance graph to help him stick to the diet. Kind of like gold stars on the fridge for grown-ups.

We will report back in a few weeks with his progress.

So, What does this mean to you?

It means that removing the sweets and processed carbs from your diet is the best thing you can do for your health and your appearance.


Note – If anyone wants a pdf of the compliance chart, click the link


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Hormones, Problem Areas and Your Body-Fat Map – Part 2

In yesterday’s post, I introduced you to the idea that your hormones are responsible for your personal fat-distribution patterns.

For example, women with an excessive percentage of fat on the back of their arms are likely to have elevated insulin levels or low DHEA levels.

Body-Fat Map - Female woman

Men unlucky enough to be lugging around a generous set of man-boobs are likely to have high levels of estrogen (often combined with high insulin and low testosterone)

Body-Fat Map - Male

So, as a public service to all of my man-boobed brothers out there, we are going to take a look at how to get those hormones back in balance.

(For this post, I will be using a variety of reference sources. Most of the sources are pretty dry and technical, but one that I can heartily recommend to y’all is The Hormone Diet by Dr. Natasha Turner (Canada). It is a great reference that is easy to read and understand. I will be doing a more detailed book review about this book in the coming weeks.)

High Insulin


  • Eating too much over-processed, nutrient deficient carbohydrates – fast food, frozen dinners, pop, fruit drinks, sugary foods, processed diet foods…you know. Crap.
  • Eating too little protein – real protein, not processed McNugget protein
  • Eating too little fat – real fat, not trans-fat
  • Not enough fiber in your diet - no need for supplements, you should get enough protein from fruit & veg
  • Unmanaged high levels of chronic stress
  • Not enough exercise
  • Excessive exercise to the point of muscle wasting
  • Steroid based medications
  • Poor liver function
  • Environmental toxins
  • Poor sleep patterns
  • Aging – sorry about that one


  • Diet – Sugar/Insulin control diet – Paleo/Atkins/Medierranean
  • Botanical – Cinnamon, Chromium – talk to your naturopath
  • Increase consumption of fiber
  • Increase consumption of fish oils
  • Weight loss
  • Exercise
  • Reduce exposure to toxins & improve liver function – talk to your naturopath
  • Sleep
  • Get your hormone levels checked

High Testosterone

While not very common in men, it affects about 10% of women


  • Increased production by the adrenal glands
  • Polycystic ovaries caused by Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
  • Low Estrogen. Estrogen is a potent inhibitor of testosterone production, so anything that decreases estrogen levels beyond the norm is going to increase the testosterone to estrogen balance


  • Stress management = lowered cortisol = reduction in adrenal production
  • Insulin control diet – Paleo/Atkins/Mediterranean
  • Pharmaceutical – Troglitazone and Metformin – talk to your doctor
  • Botanical – Saw Palmetto – talk to your naturopath
  • Estrogen replacement – bio-identical or conventional – talk to your doctor
  • Get your hormone levels checked

Low Testosterone


  • Aging
  • Damage  to the testicles
  • Radiation
  • Testicular or Pituitary tumors
  • Serious viral infections
  • Vasectomy
  • Various genetic conditions – Klinefelter’s, Kallmann’s, Prader-Willi syndromes and Myotonic Dystrophy

In addition to these causes, there are a variety of lifestyle causes. These include:

  • Obesity…it’s a vicious circle – low test causes obesity and obesity causes lowered test…sorry
  • Exposure to pesticides
  • Exposure to hormones used in factory farm meat and poultry production. These hormones act like Estrogen in your body, and…
  • Estrogen is a potent inhibitor of testosterone production, so anything that increases estrogen levels beyond the norm is going to negatively impact testosterone production
  • Phthalates (found in soap, cosmetics and plastics) are another estrogen like compound that suppresses testosterone.
  • Alcohol…especially beer
  • Temperature – boxers v.s briefs
  • Sleep apnea
  • Narcotics



  • Diet – Dump your low-fat diet and increase your healthy fats
  • Botanical – Tribulus – talk to your naturopath
  • High Intensity exercise
  • Get your hormone levels checked


  • Diet – Dump your low-fat diet and increase your healthy fats
  • Botanical – Tribulus – talk to your naturopath
  • Pharmaceutical – Aromatase blockers and/or testosterone, anabolic steroids – talk to your doctor and/or your lawyer…see Manny Ramierez
  • High Intensity exercise
  • Get your hormone levels checked

High Estrogen or Estrogen Dominance


  • Pregnancy & menstrual cycle fluctuations
  • Unmanaged high levels of chronic stress
  • Obesity – obesity causes high estrogen which causes obesity…
  • Poor diet – processed foods, a high fat diet, a high sugar diet, excessive caffeine, low levels of magnesium and B6
  • Birth control pill
  • Exposure to hormones used in factory farm meat and poultry production. These hormones act like Estrogen in your body, and…
  • Phthalates and other xenoestrogens (found in soap, cosmetics and plastics)
  • Low testosterone
  • Impaired liver function
  • Poor digestion
  • Alcohol
  • Lack of exercise
  • Lack of sleep


  • Stress management
  • Improve your diet – Paleo/Atkins/Mediterranean/increase your fiber
  • Reduce your exposure to hormones and xenoestrogens
  • Improve liver function – talk to your naturopath
  • Get more sleep
  • Exercise more
  • Pharmaceutical – Testosterone – talk to your doctor
  • Get your hormone levels checked

Low Estrogen


  • Aging – Menopause
  • Premature failure of the ovaries
  • Surgical menopause
  • Unmanaged high levels of stress
  • Smoking
  • Low-fat diets
  • Extremely low body-fat



  • Estrogen replacement – bio-identical or conventional – talk to your doctor
  • Get your hormone levels checked

High Cortisol

We all have stress in our lives. The problems begin when we can’t handle the stresses that are thrown our way. That is when stress starts negatively impacting our health. Chronic elevated levels of corisol is just one symptom of that impact.


  • Unmanaged high levels of chronic stress


  • Stress management – meditation, breathing techniques, psychiatry, psychotherapy, mindfulness practice, biofeedback + a million more techniques available on late-night infomercials and the inter-web.
  • Insulin control diet – Paleo/Atkins/Mediterranean
  • Reduce intake of stimulants
  • Supplements – Multi-Vitamin/Mineral, magnesium, B5, B6, Phosphatidylserine, adaptogens such as ginseng – talk to your naturopath.
  • Get your hormone levels checked

Low Growth Hormone


  • Aging
  • Lack of sleep
  • Lack of exercise
  • Eating before bed
  • Sleeping with lights on


  • Don’t eat before bed
  • Sleep in the dark
  • High Intensity exercise – low intensity (ie cardio) has little effect
  • Intermittent fasting
  • Supplements – GHB and the Amino Acids Arginine, Lysine and Ornithine – talk to your doctor/naturopath
  • Get your hormone levels checked



  • Aging
  • Unmanaged high levels of chronic stress


  • DHEA supplements – talk to your naturopath
  • Stress management – meditation, breathing techniques, psychiatry, psychotherapy, mindfulness practice, biofeedback + a million more techniques available on late-night infomercials and the inter-web.
  • Insulin control diet – Paleo/Atkins/Mediterranean
  • Reduce intake of stimulants
  • Supplements – Multi-Vitamin/Mineral, magnesium, B5, B6, Phosphatidylserine, adaptogens such as ginseng – talk to your naturopath.
  • Get your hormone levels checked

Low Progesterone


  • Lack of ovulation
  • Unmanaged high levels of chronic stress
  • Low levels of luteinizing hormone
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Excess prolaction


  • Progesterone cream – talk to your doctor/naturopath
  • Stress management – meditation, breathing techniques, psychiatry, psychotherapy, mindfulness practice, biofeedback + a million more techniques available on late-night infomercials and the inter-web.
  • Get your hormone levels checked


I am not a doctor, nor do I pretend to be one on tv. So, if you think something is out of whack with your hormones, go and get them checked.  That doesn’t mean that you have to take the drugs that your doctor is probably going to push on you. But, at least you will have the info to make your best decision.

If anyone has any questions, feel free to shoot them my way. If I don’t feel confident about my ability to answer it, I will try and convince an “expert” to weigh in.

Hormones, Problem Areas and Your Body-Fat Map

fat tricep

We all have problem areas.

No matter how healthy you eat or how hard you exercise, certain spots on your body do not want to give up their fat.

It could be your granny-arm triceps or your love handles or that darned muffin-top.

muffin top

But, no matter where your problem area is, I can tell you why you have it.




Different hormones for different areas.

And that’s a good thing. Because at least that points us in the right direction and allows us to devise a fat-loss plan tailored to your specific problem area.

So, as a public service, I have put together these 2 Body-Fat Maps to help you determine your own particular hormonal imbalance.

Ladies first…

Body-Fat Map - Female woman

pdf version

Now the guys…

Body-Fat Map - Male

pdf version

So, now you know what your problem area says about your hormone balance.

What’s next?

How do you fix the problem?

Stay tuned…That’s tomorrow’s post


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America’s “Official” Obesity Solution


According to Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the US medical system spends around twice as much treating obesity related illnesses than it does on cancer.

Obesity Related Illnesses: $147 billion

Cancer (all types): $93 billion

And how, you may ask, is that $147 billion being spent?

  • Prevention…….Nope
  • Drugs & Surgery…….Yep

But, not anymore.

A few years back, the CDC initiated the Common Community Measures for Obesity Prevention Project (aka the Measures Project).

The goal of the Measures Project was to identify and recommend a set of obesity prevention strategies and corresponding suggested measurements that local governments and communities can use to plan, implement, and monitor initiatives to prevent obesity.

The Measures Project process was guided by expert opinion and included a systematic review of the published scientific literature, resulting in the adoption of 24 recommended environmental and policy level strategies to prevent obesity.

This report presents the first set of comprehensive recommendations published by CDC to promote healthy eating and active living and reduce the prevalence of obesity in the United States. This report describes each of the recommended strategies, summarizes available evidence regarding their effectiveness, and presents a suggested measurement for each strategy that communities can use to assess implementation and track progress over time.

Translation: This is the first big gov’t approach to obesity prevention through lifestyle modification.

And here are the 24 strategies.

Strategies to Promote the Availability of Affordable Healthy Food and Beverages

Strategy 1

Communities should increase availability of healthier food and beverage choices in public service venues.

Suggested measurement
A policy exists to apply nutrition standards that are consistent with the dietary guidelines for Americans to all food sold (e.g., meal menus and vending machines) within local government facilities in a local jurisdiction or on public school campuses during the school day within the largest school district in a local jurisdiction.

Translation: Stop selling junk food in schools & public facilities

Health Habits Comment: What constitutes healthy food? Who determines what is healthy food? CDC? USDA?

food pyramid
Strategy 2

Communities should improve availability of affordable healthier food and beverage choices in public service venues.

Suggested measurement
A policy exists to affect the cost of healthier foods and beverages (as defined by the Institute of Medicine [IOM])  relative to the cost of less healthy foods and beverages sold within local government facilities in a local jurisdiction or on public school campuses during the school day within the largest school district in a local jurisdiction.

Translation: Healthy food subsidies

Health Habits Comment: What is healthy food?…again

Strategy 3

Communities should improve geographic availability of supermarkets in underserved areas.

Suggested measurement
The number of full-service grocery stores and supermarkets per 10,000 residents located within the three largest underserved census tracts within a local jurisdiction.

Translation: City planning, taxation & bylaws (ex. LA has banned new fast food restaurants in low income neighborhoods)

Strategy 4

Communities should provide incentives to food retailers to locate in and/or offer healthier food and beverage choices in underserved areas.

Suggested measurement
Local government offers at least one incentive to new and/or existing food retailers to offer healthier food and beverage choices in underserved areas.

Translation: Taxation & bylaws

Health Habits Comment: How do you pay for healthy incentives? Tax McDonalds?

Strategy 5

Communities should improve availability of mechanisms for purchasing foods from farms.

Suggested measurement
The total annual number of farmer-days at farmers’ markets per 10,000 residents within a local jurisdiction.


Strategy 6
Communities should provide incentives for the production, distribution, and procurement of foods from local farms.

Suggested measurement
Local government has a policy that encourages the production, distribution, or procurement of food from local farms in the local jurisdiction.

Translation: Locavores are happy

Strategies to Support Healthy Food and Beverage Choices

Strategy 7
Communities should restrict availability of less healthy foods and beverages in public service venues.

Suggested measurement
A policy exists that prohibits the sale of less healthy foods and beverages (as defined by IOM [Institute of Medicine]) within local government facilities in a local jurisdiction or on public school campuses during the school day within the largest school district in a local jurisdiction.

Translation: Junk food bans

Health Habits Comment: How do you stop kids from buying junk food off-campus?

image: Jeff Parker - Florida Today
image: Jeff Parker - Florida Today

Strategy 8

Communities should institute smaller portion size options in public service venues.

Suggested measurement
Local government has a policy to limit the portion size of any entree (including sandwiches and entrée salads) by either reducing the standard portion size of entrees or offering smaller portion sizes in addition to standard portion sizes within local government facilities within a local jurisdiction.

Translation: The opposite of Super-Size Me.

Strategy 9

Communities should limit advertisements of less healthy foods and beverages.

Suggested measurement
A policy exists that limits advertising and promotion of less healthy foods and beverages within local government facilities in a local jurisdiction or on public school campuses during the school day within the largest school district in a local jurisdiction.

Translation: Media bans on public property

Strategy 10

Communities should discourage consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Suggested measurement
Licensed child care facilities within the local jurisdiction are required to ban sugar-sweetened beverages, including flavored/sweetened milk and limit the portion size of 100% juice.

Translation: Replace fruit drinks with fruit juice and chocolate milk with plain milk or even…water

Strategy to Encourage Breastfeeding

Strategy 11

Communities should increase support for breastfeeding.

Suggested measurement
Local government has a policy requiring local government facilities to provide breastfeeding accommodations for employees that include both time and private space for breastfeeding during working hours.

Strategies to Encourage Physical Activity or Limit Sedentary Activity Among Children and Youth

Strategy 12

Communities should require physical education in schools.

Suggested measurement
The largest school district located within the local jurisdiction has a policy that requires a minimum of 150 minutes per week of PE in public elementary schools and a minimum of 225 minutes per week of PE in public middle schools and high schools throughout the school year (as recommended by the National Association of Sports and Physical Education).

pe class 1950

Strategy 13

Communities should increase the amount of physical activity in PE programs in schools.

Suggested measurement
The largest school district located within the local jurisdiction has a policy that requires K–12 students to be physically active for at least 50% of time spent in PE classes in public schools.

Strategy 14

Communities should increase opportunities for extracurricular physical activity.

Suggested measurement
The percentage of public schools within the largest school district in a local jurisdiction that allow the use of their athletic facilities by the public during non-school hours on a regular basis.

Translation: Schools become free public health clubs

Health Habits Comment: Increased taxation required for the extra employees, utilities, insurance, etc?

Strategy 15

Communities should reduce screen time in public service venues.

Suggested measurement
Licensed child care facilities within the local jurisdiction are required to limit screen viewing time to no more than 2 hours per day for children aged ≥2 years.

Health Habits Comment: How about 0 hours of tv? How about reading a book to the kids, or arts & crafts, or playing a game. Sheesh!

poltergeist tv

Strategies to Create Safe Communities That Support Physical Activity

Strategy 16

Communities should improve access to outdoor recreational facilities.

Suggested measurement
The percentage of residential parcels within a local jurisdiction that are located within a half-mile network distance of at least one outdoor public recreational facility.

Translation: Fitness Alfresco

Health Habits Comment: No question…love this idea

Strategy 17

Communities should enhance infrastructure supporting bicycling.

Suggested measurement
Total miles of designated shared-use paths and bike lanes relative to the total street miles (excluding limited access highways) that are maintained by a local jurisdiction.

Strategy 18

Communities should enhance infrastructure supporting walking.

Suggested measurement
Total miles of paved sidewalks relative to the total street miles (excluding limited access highways) that are maintained by a local jurisdiction.

americas most walkable neighborhood

Strategy 19

Communities should support locating schools within easy walking distance of residential areas.

Suggested measurement
The largest school district in the local jurisdiction has a policy that supports locating new schools, and/or repairing or expanding existing schools, within easy walking or biking distance of residential areas.

Health Habits Comment: Does this mean the end of busing?

Strategy 20

Communities should improve access to public transportation.

Suggested measurement
The percentage of residential and commercial parcels in a local jurisdiction that are located either within a quarter-mile network distance of at least one bus stop or within a half-mile network distance of at least one train stop (including commuter and passenger trains, light rail, subways, and street cars).

Health Habits Comment: How does public transit directly affect fitness/obesity?

Strategy 21

Communities should zone for mixed use development.

Suggested measurement
Percentage of zoned land area (in acres) within a local jurisdiction that is zoned for mixed use that specifically combines residential land use with one or more commercial, institutional, or other public land uses.

Translation: Create self sufficient “villages” within a community. This way you can walk to the grocery store instead of driving to the mall. Livable city concept.

Strategy 22

Communities should enhance personal safety in areas where persons are or could be physically active.

Suggested measurement
The number of vacant or abandoned buildings (residential and commercial) relative to the total number of buildings located within a local jurisdiction.

Translation: In urban areas, walking at night can be a very real threat to your health.

Health Habits Comment: Violent crime is not a quick or simple fix. No idea how they plan to enhance personal safety in dangerous neighborhoods.

Strategy 23

Communities should enhance traffic safety in areas where persons are or could be physically active.

Suggested measurement
Local government has a policy for designing and operating streets with safe access for all users which includes at least one element suggested by the national complete streets coalition

Translation: Automobiles give up some space to pedestrians, bikes & transit.

Strategy to Encourage Communities to Organize for Change

Strategy 24

Communities should participate in community coalitions or partnerships to address obesity.

Suggested measurement
Local government is an active member of at least one coalition or partnership that aims to promote environmental and policy change to promote active living and/or healthy eating (excluding personal health programs such as health fairs).

Translation: Big federal programs won’t work. Grassroots is the way to go.


Well, there’s the plan.

Now all we need is some of those big federal health care dollars to come rolling in.


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America’s Obesity Epidemic costs $147 billion

America's Obesity Epidemic

According to this study,

  • Americans spend $147 billion per year on “medical” obesity treatments,
  • This spending on obesity treatments eats up 9.1% of America’s total health care spending,
  • Annual medical costs due to obesity have doubled in less than a decade,
  • Between 1998 and 2006, the prevalence of American obesity swelled by 37%.
  • The results also showed that an obese person has $1,429 per year more medical costs, or about 42 percent more costs, than someone of normal weight.
  • Costs for an obese Medicare recipient are even greater.

Much of the costs to Medicare are a result of the added prescription drug benefit. The results reveal that Medicare prescription drug payments for obese individuals are roughly $600 more per year than drug payments for normal weight beneficiaries.

The researchers also found that 8.5 percent of Medicare expenditures, 11.8 percent of Medicaid expenditures, and 12.9 percent of private payer expenditures are attributable to obesity.

According to lead author Dr. Eric Finkelstein, “the medical costs attributable to obesity are almost entirely a result of costs generated from treating the diseases that obesity promotes“.

Insulin Resistance, Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease….

“Obesity will continue to impose a significant burden on the health care system as long as the prevalence of obesity remains high.”

This study was presented earlier today at the “Weight of the Nation” conference, a three-day meeting of public health experts, policy leaders, and researchers being held in Washington, D.C.

The CDC will discuss the study findings along with new recommendations designed to prevent and reduce the impact obesity has upon communities at the “Weight of the Nation” conference, a three-day meeting of public health experts, policy leaders, and researchers being held today in Washington, D.C.

But, let’s not wait for the CDC discussion….

How can America reduce the $147 billion spent each year “treating the diseases that obesity promotes”?

  • More bariatric surgeries?
  • Modify the current taxes/subsidies applied to food production/distribution?
  • Mandatory P.E. in all schools?
  • Community fitness initiatives?
  • Massive PR campaign designed to shame the lazy & praise the physically fit
  • Tax breaks for Pharma research into obesity treatments
  • Mandatory military bootcamps
  • Amphetamines added to the water supply (sorry, Coca-Cola supply is more appropriate)

Any other suggestions welcome.

Also, please send me links to any other health/fitness/obesity blogs or websites that you really, really like.


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Nutrition Deathmatch #1

Paleo pyramid

Fruits & Vegetables v.s. Grains

Anyone who has spent some time poking around Health Habits knows that I am a big fan of Paleo style diets for weight loss and general health.

So, it should come as no surprise that when I when I start working with a new personal training client, one of the first things I do is change their diet over to my version of Paleo eating.

And one of the first things that they do is complain about the absence of bread, pasta, rice, croissants, bagels, toast with jam, brioche, sandwiches, Egg McMuffins, Big Macs, pizza, deep fried Snickers bars, etc….

In desperation, some of them trot out the argument that they NEED whole grains in order to be healthy.

Their doctor said so, and so did their nutritionist and so says the government in their healthy food pyramids.

Everyone says that whole grains are a necessary part of a healthy diet.

The problem is, everybody is wrong.

And I aim to prove it with this special Nutrition version of Celebrity Deathmatch.

Let the deathmatch begin.

About 10,000 years ago, our ancestors made a huge cavewoman breakthrough. They learned that inedible raw grains (wheat, corn, oats, etc…) could be made edible by cooking them.

This was huge.

  • Grains were much more stable than fruits & vegetables and could be stored to help them survive the winter months.
  • Grains are dense in calories. This produced two benefits.
  1. It was now easier to transport food as they followed migrating herds of animals,
  2. and it suddenly became much easier to eat the required amount of calories.
  • Since raw grain is a seed, hunter-gatherer communities could choose to stay put and become farmers.

In fact, it has been argued that the domestication of grain is one of the major factors in the evolution of human civilization.

  • Seasonal starvation eliminated
  • Permanent communities established
  • Animals domesticated for meat & dairy
  • Instead of families doing everything for themselves, people can now specialize at specific trades (farmer, toolmaker, doctor, personal trainer, blogger)
  • and so on….

So, at this point in our evolution, grains seem to be pretty darn awesome.

Fast forward to today.

  • The evolution of human society no longer needs grains to keep the wheels turning. (at least in the “developed” world)
  • Your fridge keeps the meat & veggies from spoiling
  • Seasons are next to irrelevant with modern food production
  • And we certainly don’t have a deficit of available calories…too many calories is our problem.


But wait, what about the fiber?

  • Without my whole wheat bagel, how will I get my fiber?
  • And if I don’t get my fiber, won’t I get all blocked up and maybe even get colon cancer?

Note – this is a real argument that I get from real people

Okay, fiber is important.

But, surprise, surprise, grains aren’t the only foods high in fiber.

In fact, if you look at this link, you will see that except for wheat & corn bran, the top 300 (I stopped looking at 300) sources of dietary fiber are all fruits and vegetables.

You don’t need whole grains to get your fiber.

But, what about the vitamins and minerals?

Whole grains are loaded with vitamins and minerals like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, iron, magnesium and selenium.

Hmmmm…why don’t we take a look at the nutrition info again and see if that’s true.

  • Thiamin … And the winner is fruits, vegetables and once again…bran.
  • Riboflavin … veggies win again
  • Niacin … and again
  • Folate … and again
  • Iron … and again
  • Magnesium … and again
  • Selenium …and last but not least, it’s a tie between veggies and grains!!!

So, except for the fine showing in the selenium category…

Fruits & vegetables are the best source of vitamins and minerals.

This Nutritional Deathmatch is looking pretty lopsided.

And here comes the knockout punch:

Like most of my clients, there are a lot of people out there who need to lose a few pounds.

And the last thing an obese person needs to eat is food that is dense in calories and low in nutrients.

And when it comes to raw ingredients (fruit, vegetables, animal protein, grains, dairy, fat & oils, seeds & nuts, legumes), grains are the worst.

Grains provide too many calories and not enough nutrition.

And there’s your knockout


Fruits & Vegetables are the Greatest!!!

And if you still don’t believe me, free free to perouse the links below.

Nutrition Info – Fruit, Vegetables & Grains


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Mum’s Turkey Meatloaf

Turkey meatloaf
I just came back from a family vacation in France and had an interesting chat with my sister about how she gets her two young kids to eat veg. She has started ‘hiding’ them in meals so they don’t realize they’re eating them. This, I thought, was a great way of getting those extra nutrients into meals. I decided to try the idea here with this very simple but tasty meatloaf recipe, which I adapted from my Mum’s recipe.


1 lb. ground turkey breast
1 lb. ground dark turkey meat
1/2 white onion – fine dice
1 large garlic clove – minced
1 zucchini – small dice
1 yellow squash – small dice
1/4 cup organic tomato ketchup
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil – for sauteing
Olive oil spray
2 tablespoons ketchup – for topping

Preheat oven to 380F

Preheat medium saute pan on medium heat for 1 minute. Add 1 tbsp olive oil to pan and saute diced onion, zucchini, squash and minced garlic for 4 minutes until soft. Stir occasionally. Once soft remove to a plate to cool slightly. Meanwhile in large mixing bowl add ground turkey meats along with remaining ingredients and once cooled, add cooked veg.

With clean hands, mix thoroughly. In regular size loaf tin, spray liberally with olive oil spray and fill with mixed meatloaf. Tap loaf pan on your kitchen counter to make sure filling is condensed in loaf pan and pat down top to level off. Spread additional ketchup on top and pop in oven for 1 hour or until internal temperature of 165F.

All recipes are made with the finest quality farmers market whole foods, natural and non-processed ingredients.


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Fueling your body with healthy food. Fueling your mind with the wealth of health.

Copyright © 2009 The Healthy Irishman. All rights reserved.


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My Unconscious Mind is Making Me Fat – Part 1

There I am.

Sitting on the couch watching NHL playoff hockey at the end of a long day.

The wife offers me some of her potato chips.

I decline

I’m a personal trainer dammit, and personal trainers don’t eat potato chips.

Fast forward 20 minutes…..

I am now sprawled out on the couch…..totally immersed in the game…..screaming at the referees for blowing another call….and absent mindedly reaching over and grabbing a handful of potato chips out of the bag…and then another…and then another



What just happened?

I don’t eat potato chips….seriously.

So what happened?

I’ll tell you what happened.

  • When my wife first offered the chips, my conscious mind did a quick pro/con calculation and decided to take a pass on the salty/greasy delight.
  • Soon after, my conscious mind became fixated on the hockey game.
  • Soon after that, my unconscious mind snuck behind the back of my conscious mind, and by using a mixture of sensory inputs, old memories, emotions, brain chemicals and hormones, managed to hijack my body and convince it that eating those chips was suddenly a great idea.

Damn you unconscious mind!!!


This is a big reason why diets fail.

Your bad habits live in your unconscious mind.

Your bad habits have built up powerful connections within your mind and body.

And if you let your unconscious mind run the show, you WILL return time and again to your old habits…over-eating, under-exercising, smoking, etc…


In Saturday’s post, I will discuss some techniques you can use to help your conscious mind fight back against your unconscious mind.

Some of this stuff is going to sound a little new-agey, touchy-feely, so if that isn’t your cup of tea, I won’t be offended if you decide to give Health Habits a pass.


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Can Potassium Reverse High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure is a killer….we all know that

Eating a diet high in sodium can lead to high blood pressure….we all know that

And because we know these things, a lot of people have been told by their doctors to stop eating this…

Salty Snacks

…and to start eating this…


And they aren’t happy about it.


But, maybe there is another way.

Maybe, instead of labeling salt as a BAD FOOD, and banning it from our diets altogether, we can balance out the hypertensive effect of sodium with the hypotensive effect of potassium.

If only we had some proof…

The Proof

Earlier this year, researchers found that “the ratio of sodium-to-potassium was a much stronger predictor of hypertension and cardiovascular disease than sodium or potassium alone”.

“There isn’t as much focus on potassium, but potassium seems to be effective in lowering blood pressure and the combination of a higher intake of potassium and lower consumption of sodium seems to be more effective than either on its own in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Paul Whelton, senior author of the study in the January 2009 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

In this study, researchers determined average sodium and potassium intake of their test subjects.

They collected 24-hour urine samples intermittently during an 18-month period in one trial and during a 36-month period in a second trial.

The 2,974 study participants initially aged 30-to-54 and with blood pressure readings just under levels considered high, were followed for 10-15 years to see if they would develop cardiovascular disease.

The results

  • The highest salt consumers were 20% more likely to suffer strokes, heart attacks or other forms of cardiovascular disease when compared to the lowest of the low sodium eaters.

20% more likely to suffer a stroke.

Better ditch that salt shaker…..right?

Maybe not…

  • The participants with the highest sodium-to-potassium ratio in urine were 50 percent more likely to experience cardiovascular disease than those with the lowest sodium-to-potassium ratios.

According to this study, the ratio of potassium to sodium in your diet is more important to the health of your heart than the overall consumption of sodium.

That doesn’t mean you should go crazy with the double bacon cheeseburgers.

According to Dr. Whelton, healthy 19-to-50 year-old adults should consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day — equivalent to one teaspoon of table salt.

More than 95 percent of American men and 75 percent of American women in this age range exceed this amount.

So, it’s probably safe to assume that you are part of the majority. How much potassium do you need to help balance out the salt?

To lower blood pressure and blunt the effects of salt, adults should consume 4.7 grams of potassium per day unless they have a clinical condition or medication need that is a contraindication to increased potassium intake.

Most American adults aged 31-to-50 consume only about half this amount.

And how do we get more potassium?

  • Good potassium sources include fruits, vegetables, dairy foods and fish.
  • Foods that are especially rich in potassium include potatoes and sweet potatoes, fat-free milk and yogurt, tuna, lima beans, bananas, tomato sauce and orange juice.
  • Potassium also is available in supplements. However, most potassium supplements come in dosages of 50mg . To get your daily 5 grams, you would need to take 100 pills.

So, maybe we should listen to the good doctor and “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”Hippocrates

Click here for the USDA’s list of foods high in Potassium.


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  • Ryan Seacrest and Jamie Oliver take on America’s Obesity Epidemic

    jamie oliver ryan seacrest

    Attention overweight Americans….

    Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and Ryan Seacrest have teamed up to take on America’s obesity epidemic.

    In their new reality tv series, chef Jamie Oliver will travel to America’s fattest cities and “find ways to use nearby resources to improve local eating habits”.

    It’s kind of like the Biggest Loser, but with more cooking and less sweating.


    According to the Hollywood Reporter,the series is loosely inspired on Oliver’s acclaimed school lunch project in the U.K., where the chef set about to improve kids’ nutrition. His effort to improve one school’s offerings, documented in the 2005 series “Jamie’s School Dinners,” shamed educators into passing new measures to ban certain junk foods.

    Seacrest said he talked about school lunches during a segment on his KISS FM morning radio show and was struck by the amount of listener response. Then he heard Oliver was looking to bring his public service campaign stateside. The resulting ABC show will not only tackle a city’s schools, but workplaces and other avenues for change.

    “I couldn’t do what I do in terms of my schedule if I didn’t eat right and exercise right,” Seacrest said. “As a kid I was chubby, and I’m a firm believer that the fuel we put into our body results in a healthy lifestyle. Jamie’s going to come over here, roll up his sleeves and use the resources of each town to help condition living habits to make it a better and healthier place.”

    At this time, ABC has committed to 6 episodes of the Seacrest produced show.

    The target city has yet to be chosen. Perhaps they will chose from one of the cities ranked by Men’s Fitness as the 10 Fattest Cities in America.

    1. Miami, FL
    2. Oklahoma City, OK
    3. San Antoni, TX
    4. Las Vegas, NV
    5. New York, NY
    6. Houston, TX
    7. El Paso, TX
    8. Jacksonville, FL
    9. Charlotte, NC
    10. Louisville-Jefferson, KY

    But, then again, I’m sure that there are lots of cities all across America that could use a Seacrest/Oliver weight loss makeover. And seeing as this show is still in the pre-pre-production stage, perhaps an organized email campaign could bring Jamie Oliver and his low-fat skillet to your town.


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    A Better Way to Health and Weight Loss

    In yesterday’s post, I talked about how our Western diet and lifestyle has caused an explosion of obesity, diabetes and various cardio-respiratory diseases.

    I also talked about how the health experts of the last 50 years have continued to feed us the same advice even in the face of our growing obesity and chronic disease epidemic.

    And after looking at all of that data, I wondered: why do we continue to listen to these experts with their food pyramids and low fat diets and aerobic exercise programs?

    We must be insane.

    Albert Einsten once said that the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

    And that’s what we have been doing.

    The same advice year in and year out. Even as we get fatter and fatter…we listen to the same advice.

    I ended yesterday’s post by saying that there had to be a better way.

    Here’s my idea.

    A Better Way to Health and Weight Loss

    In the past few years, web 2.0 technology has allowed large groups of people to collaborate and combine their talents to develop new technology, carry out a specific design task , or help capture, systematize or analyze large amounts of data.

    This phenomena has a variety of names: crowdsourcing, open source, collective intelligence, wikinomics, social commerce and crowdcasting.

    Examples of this activity include:

    So, what does this have to do with losing weight and getting fit?

    • Imagine if you could harness the collective intelligence and experience of each and every dieter, obesity expert, personal trainer, weight loss guru, bariatric doctor, psychiatrist, behavioral therapist and obesity researcher.
    • And imagine if you could direct all of that intelligence and experience towards finding a better solution to our twin dilemmas of obesity and chronic disease.

    Instead of an environment where snake oil salesmen and government approved health experts sell false hope to the fat and desperate, imagine an environment where all concerned parties can come together to find a solution.

    I know, I know, it sounds a little socialist to me too.

    But, in fact, we are already seeing the first steps toward this concept.

    Websites like SparkPeople have created massive communities of people interesting in getting fit, lean and healthy.

    And those communities are getting larger by the day.

    If you look at the numbers, SparkPeople sees 2.1 million American viewers per month.


    By comparison, my teeny tiny little blog sees almost 40,000 Global viewers per month.


    Obviously, SparkPeople is doing something right

    In fact, they’re doing lots right.

    But, they’re not perfect.

    Earlier today, I entered an imaginary client into their system

    The client was a 255lb. man who wanted to lose 40 lbs. He was also concerned about type two diabetes and hypertension.

    This is what they recommended:

    • A diet high in starchy carbs & low in fat
    • A bodybuilding style resistance program
    • A moderate cardio-vascular program
    • Stretching at the end of the workout

    Same old, same old.

    Repeating the same diet & fitness advice that hasn’t been working for decades.

    Can someone please stop the insanity!!!

    • Where’s the HIIT training?
    • Where’s the Paleo or Mediterranean or Zone eating philosophies?
    • Where’s the mental/emotional strategies designed to keep people from breaking their diets or skipping their workouts?
    • Where’s the discussion of supplements?

    I don’t think that the folks at SparkPeople have any idea of what their site could be.

    Anyway, that’s my two cents.

    Anyone out there have any suggestions?

    Any website gurus out there eager to build a kick ass health and fitness community/wiki?


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    Canada: A Nation of Short, Fat Liars

    According to Statistics Canada, Canadians are not as tall or thin as they think say they are.

    This has caused Stats Can much consternation.

    The data that Stats Can collects through it’s Canadian Community Health Survey and the National Population Health Survey rely on Canadians to provide their height and weight.

    In 2005, 16% of Canadians were classified as obese; according to their self reported info.

    But according to actual measurements, 8% of Canadians are not only fat, but big fat liars to boot.

    Oh My God!

    What could happen next?

    Do you think Canadians lie about their age?

    Their income?

    Their penis size?

    The Horror…..


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    If you are interested in a better way to eat, click here or here or here.


    Wellness and Workouts in the Canadian Workplace

    According to this article in the National Post, Canadian employees desire workplace wellness and disease prevention education to be included in their health care plans.

    In the Sanofi-Aventis Healthcare Survey, 83% of the 1500 respondents would be more likely to stay at their jobs if they believed their employer was interested in maintaining their health through education and prevention.

    75% thought more highly of employers that offered it in the workplace.

    According to Chris Bonnett, a member of the surveyem advisory board and president of H3 Consulting, “[employees] are looking to their employers for support and access to health education and programming.”


    It’s great that Canadians are more interested in their health and that their employers may see a beneficial link between the employees’ health and their value to the company.

    Not like the good old days.

    Highballs in the corner office…cool baby

    CON #1

    The survey was conducted by Sanofi-Aventis Canada – the Canadian affiliate of the Sanofi-Aventis Group, one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies. No conflict of interest there.

    What are the odds that Sanofi-Aventis might have some suggestions as to the type of health education and programming (their word) that the employees should have access to?

    CON #2

    Who is going to say no to free stuff?

    Sure, pay for my gym membership. I’m down with that.

    It would be much more honest to ask employees if they would be interested in having their employer pick up half the tab for fitness memberships, etc.


    At the end of the day, any health promotion / disease prevention plan is a good thing. And what a surprise that in Canada, the home of socialized medicine, that business, not government is leading the way.


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    We have officially gone crazy.

    In Japan, employers are forcing their employees to eat fish sausages, participate in a “lifestyle reform programs,” and attend boot camps designed to reduce the incidence of metabolic disease or metabo.

    Not to be upstaged, the Japanese government has introduced compulsory ‘fat checks‘ for people over 40 years of age.

    It’s not just the Japanese that are panicky about obesity.

    This article in The Independent brought my attention to all of the medical classifications we now have for obesity and supposedly aberrant eating behaviors.

    We all know about bulimia and anorexia.

    But did you know about:

    and my personal favorite

    • Rumination – Like a cow, ‘bringing up’ partially digested food and then spitting it out or digesting it.

    How about:

    Maybe, for simplicity’s sake, we could lump all of these conditions together under one banner:

    • Obesophobia – a persistent, abnormal, and unwarranted fear of gaining weight

    I am not for one second suggesting that people have legitimate mental & physical issues concerning food and their bodies.

    But, why oh why, does every human peculiarity have to become a syndrome or a condition?

    Why do we have to be afraid of everything?


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    News Flash! Caveman Diet Good…Your Diet Bad

    Swedish scientists have just published a research paper that indicates that eating a diet rich in lean meat, vegetables, berries and nuts is effective in lowering YOUR chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

    Keeping in mind that it was only a three week study, and additional long term research will be required, scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found that the volunteers reduced body-fat, lowered their blood pressure and slashed levels of a blood-thickening agent (plasminogen activator inhibitor-1) known to cause deadly clots.

    The results, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, support earlier scientific and real world findings that praise the health benefits of the Paleolithic/Caveman Diet.

    The theory behind this way of eating is that prior to the advent of agriculture (10,000 years ago) our ancestors lived only on foods that could be speared or picked from trees and plants.

    Some scientists argue the human genome has been unable to keep pace with our advances in agriculture and food preparation. The theory is that the modern human body is not genetically programmed to thrive on our modern diet. Our technology may be modern, but our bodies haven’t fully caught up and chronic ailments like obesity and type 2 diabetes are the result.

    To that end, following the Paleolithic/Caveman Diet means no cereals, bread, milk, butter, cheese or sugar but plenty of lean meat, fish, fruits, vegetables and nuts.

    To test its effect, the Swedish researchers recruited 20 healthy volunteers and put them on caveman rations for three weeks.

    Each patient was assessed for weight, body mass index, blood pressure and cholesterol at the beginning of the experiment.

    They were then given a list of stone-age foods they could eat, including fresh or frozen fruit, berries or vegetables, lean meat, unsalted fish, canned tomatoes, lemon or lime juice, spices and coffee or tea without milk or sugar.

    Banned foods included beans, salt, peanuts, dairy products, pasta or rice, sausages, alcohol, sugar and fruit juice.

    However, they were also allowed up to two potatoes a day and a weekly treat of dried fruit, cured meats and a portion of fatty meat.

    After three weeks, the volunteers were tested again.

    Among the 14 who successfully completed the diet, the average weight loss was around five pounds. BMI dropped by 0.8. Systolic blood pressure fell by an average of three mmHg. And the levels of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 dropped by 72 per cent. Other favorable effects were the increase in antioxidants and a healthier potassium-sodium balance. One potential negative was the reduction of calcium. This effect should be addressed in further studies.

    Official Scientific Conclusion:

    This short-term intervention showed some favourable effects by the diet, but further studies, including control group, are needed. blah,blah,blah

    My Conclusion:

    Fruit, vegetables, lean meat good. Bagel-Fuls BAD.
    If you are interested in changing your diet, I have a pretty easy how-to post here.


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    Breaking News! The government thinks you’re fat!

    Jeremy Sammut of ABC News (Australia) has written an article claiming that government sponsored programs that promote public health don’t work.

    While his focus is specific to the Australian experience, his claim that Australia’s government has squandered public funds on advertising campaigns may be applicable to both Europe and North America. The fact is, obesity is on the rise in the ‘developed’ world. Attempts by national or regional governments to promote a healthy lifestyle have been unsuccessful in reversing this trend towards obesity.

    Sammut makes a few very interesting observations.

    First, he claims that when government assumes the role of health nazi/nanny, it absolves the individual of “their primary responsibility for the unhealthy lifestyle decisions they continue to make”, and as a result, “the lifestyle disease ‘epidemic’ is blamed on a lack of government-funded entitlement to preventive primary care”.

    This takes us to the second point; “the limits of government authority over individual behaviour, and the importance of personal qualities in regulating it – why nearly 40 years of health promotion has coincided with ascending rates of lifestyle disease”.

    And if we are going to allow government to assume authority over our behavior, we have to question the motivations behind this program.

    Quite often, “advocates of more spending on lifestyle disease prevention often draw false parallels with the success of the campaign against tobacco smoking”. This argument is specious in that smoking bans and the ‘sin’ taxes applied on tobacco products are examples of public health regulation, not health promotion.

    You would think that applying this model to public exercise and nutrition would be near impossible. Smokers were a minority group and their behavior was found to be less than enchanting by a large portion of the population. Simply put, the majority ganged up on them and enacted laws that made smoking a financial and logistical pain in the butt.

    How would government apply this strategy when the majority of the population does not exercise, eats junk food and has no intention of changing?

    They would start with the children. Apply a little parental guilt. Ban junk food from school (already happening). Slap a sin tax on ‘junk food’. Expand that tax to include bacon, eggs, cheese, filet mignon, etc…

    Wow! Big Brother wants to tax my bacon & eggs.

    While that is unlikely (I hope) to happen, Sammut’s argument is that the health promotion programs advocated for by certain lobby groups, prepared by marketing companies and approved by governments have not been successful.

    In Canada, advocates of the ParticipACTION program (historical info) have considered it a success due to it’s longevity and the fact that “two years after the agency had ceased to operate in 2001, almost 80% of Canadians still recognized the ParticipACTION logo and message”.

    No mention of it’s positive impact on the health of Canadians. Wasn’t that the point of the program?

    Nope, cheesy commercials that you can’t get out of your head. Like this ,this, this, and check out this spoof. Classic fromage.

    My Two Cents

    As much as I appreciate the light that Dr. Sammut has shined on this subject, I was a little disappointed by his conclusion.

    “It is therefore timely to review the evidence. Because when the assumptions are questioned and the evidence examined with a clear eye, what is revealed is that there is actually slim support for the belief that preventive public health policies – be they ‘community-wide’ or ‘high-intensity’ lifestyle interventions – have in the past brought obesity and lifestyle disease under control, or that they are likely to in the future”.

    Review the evidence?

    Do nothing?

    While I agree that most if not all governments have a great talent for throwing great big bags of money at problems that they have no hope of solving, does that mean that as a society we are doomed to accept gluttony and sloth as our birthright?

    Here are two possible solutions.

    In the U.K., doctors are able to write prescriptions for exercise.

    Personally, while I believe that this plan is flawed due to the fact that when the government is looking to spend public dollars, there will always be bureaucrats and service providers ready and willing to overcharge and under-deliver. However, to be fair, I should mention that this program has not been in operation long enough to show whether it is successful or not.

    Another possibility would be to offer tax refunds to those individuals that can prove that they are pursuing a healthy lifestyle. Instead of demonizing the couch potatoes amongst us, reward the energizer bunnies.

    What do you think?


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    To diet or not to diet

    The debate rages on:

    In one corner, we have the current champion: The Atkins/South Beach/Abs/Fat Smash/ You on a Diet KID.

    In the other corner, we have the challenger: Healthy Lifestyle

    And the winner is…..

    With sales of $58 billion in 2007, the diet industry kicks butt. Healthy Lifestyle butt.

    But maybe 2008 is a comeback year for Healthy Lifestyle.

    Here is some more research showing that a health focused lifestyle is the better way to a trim waistline.

    The focus of this study was the effect that stress had upon the health of obese women in New Zealand.

    They found that obese women can improve their health and prevent further weight gain by ditching their diets and learning to deal with stress.

    The study encouraged women to break free of chronic dieting and make lifestyle changes, including listening to their feelings of hunger and fullness rather than focusing on weight loss.

    Following a group of 225 women, the research showed that the women who lost weight by dieting often regained the weight they lost, and more, within five years.

    The researchers found that “the most successful intervention involved providing intensive training in relaxation techniques while equipping the women to recognize and avoid stress-related triggers for eating.’’

    “Many overweight women had a fearful and guilt-ridden relationship with food, and their eating was often emotionally triggered”.

    Additionally, the research showed that this lifestyle approach resulted in “significant improvement in reducing psychological symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, and medical symptoms including headaches, fatigue and lowered blood pressure”

    The study can be found in the American Journal of Health Promotion.


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    Book Prize for the 100 Mile Diet

    On April 21, I wrote a review of the 100 Mile Diet.

    In today’s Vancouver Sun, Rebecca Wigod reports that The 100 Mile Diet has won a British Columbia book prize. The book won the Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize and was also a finalist for the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize.

    Congratulations to the authors, J.B. MacKinnon and Alisa Smith.


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    Breaking News! Heart Disease & Stroke linked to Diet

    An article in today’s Telegraph, details startling new research that claims that “the leading cause of heart disease and stroke has been linked for the first time to a person’s diet and chemicals in the urine”.

    Wow! A link between diet & health.

    The study is apparently the first to link blood pressure to a person’s metabolic fingerprint.

    Metabolic fingerprint is a catchy way of describing the the unique metabolites that are left behind by specific cellular processes. In this case, the scientists were looking at the metabolites (small molecules) found in urine, which reveal the way food is broken down in the body.

    Getting to the point…

    Western diets (rich in meat, high in alcohol and low in fibre) are bad.

    People who eat a diet high in animal protein (indicated by the metabolite alanine being present in urine) have higher blood pressure, eat more calories, have higher cholesterol and body mass indexes.

    People who eat diets higher in starches such as rice (indicated by the metabolite formate) have lower blood pressure and ingest fewer calories.

    People who have healthy levels of gut flora (reduced by antibiotic use, increased by prebiotics and probiotics and indicated by the presence of hippurate in the urine) also have lower blood pressure. Hippurate is also present in the urine of individuals with low levels of alcohol intake and higher levels of dietary fibre.

    While comparing the metabolic fingerprints of study participants in the U.K., United States, China and Japan, the scientists concluded that test subjects from the U.K. and the U.S.A. have similar genetic and metabolic profiles. In contrast, while the Chinese and Japanese participants had similar genetic profiles, they had different metabolic fingerprints.

    What was most interesting was the comparison of the native Japanese participants with those Japanese individuals living in the U.S.A..

    Japanese-Americans displayed a typical American metabolic fingerprint; indicating that lifestyle has a stronger effect on blood pressure & heart disease than genetics.

    To summarize:

    Eat more fruits & vegetables.

    Thus endeth the lesson.


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    Newsflash! – Junk food advertising is misleading!!!

    The BBC has reported that 83% of U.K. consumers “believed irresponsible marketing was making it harder to encourage children to eat well”.

    The survey was conducted by Which?, the U.K.’s largest independent consumer organization.

    The survey also found that “most of the 2,000 questioned want the government to do more to control the marketing of unhealthy food to children”.

    Currently, the Brits have banned television commercials promoting junk food programmes aimed at children under 16.

    Supporters of this survey are now calling for complete ban on junk food advertising on ALL programmes aired before 9 p.m. Additionally, they are requesting the government impose rules addressing junk food advertising on the internet and on packaging.

    The ‘icing on the cake’ argument was offered by Clare Corbett, a food campaigner at Which?.

    Corbett said “With childhood obesity and diet-related health problems on the increase, the government must take serious action and soon.”

    To summarize:

    • Junk food is bad
    • Advertisers brainwash children into wanting junk food
    • Children pester their parents
    • Parents feed their children junk food
    • Children get fat eating junk food while watching television ads about junk food
    • The U.K.’s largest consumer protection group asks parents if the government should be doing more to keep their children safe from obesity
    • Parents overwhelmingly agree, demanding that the government solve childhood obesity by removing the offending advertisements.
    • Advertisers produce another survey indicating that “76% of UK adults believe that introducing a 9pm watershed on food advertising would not reduce the level of childhood obesity”.
    • The government is left to decide if banning all junk food ads on t.v. before 9 p.m. will win them the next election.

    Your daily dose of reality

    • Junk food is bad
    • We are genetically disposed to prefer sweet, salty, greasy, calorie dense foods. We crave these things as a mechanism of survival. Genetics. Millions of years.
    • Advertisers know this. Food manufacturers know this. They sell us what we want. If we don’t want it, we won’t buy it. If we don’t buy it, they won’t sell it.
    • Every parent knows that feeding your children junk food while sitting them in front of the t.v. is guaranteed to make them fat.

    What to do, what to do

    • Parents set the example for their children.
    • Stop buying junk food. Not just for your children, you too.
    • Stop watching t.v. Get outside and exercise. If it’s too cold, read a book.
    • Stop expecting the government to do everything for you.

    The rant endeth.


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    The Components of Physical Fitness

    What is physical fitness?

    You will receive some very different answers depending upon who you ask.

    To a person with a medical condition, physical fitness may be a day without pain or a day where they have the energy to walk down to the corner store. To the weekend warrior, it is being able to compete with his friends and still be able to go to work on Monday.

    To an Olympic calibre gymnast, physical fitness is performing an Iron Cross. The flexibility of an accomplished yoga practitioner is a display of physical fitness. As is the endurance of a triathelete. Or the power of an Olympic style weightlifter. Or the speed of a sprinter. Or the agility of a badminton player…

    They are all right and they are all wrong.

    For their particular needs, there is an appropriate level of adequate fitness. The weekend warrior has no need to perform an Iron Cross. Or a gymnast to run a marathon.

    The decathalete / heptahalete is supposed to represent the ultimate of physical fitness. While the other athletes are specialists, these multi-sports athletes train to develop the ultimate combination of the different components that make up physical fitness.

    So that is where we will go. By breaking down physical fitness into it’s components, we will arrive at a better understanding of physical fitness.

    The 5 Components of Physical Fitness

    Muscular Strength

    This component of physical fitness deals specifically with the performance of the body’s skeletal muscles.

    Your skeletal muscles contract and stretch in order to produce movement. Simple.

    How they produce that movement is less simple. Your body’s muscles are highly adaptable. They will react to the stresses that you place upon them. Sit on the couch and they will atrophy. Try and run fast and they adapt to produce faster contractions. Lift heavy objects and they will increase their ability to produce maximum strength.

    One way to organize these different types of strength is in relation to time.

    Maximum muscular strength is the ability to produce the most amount of force regardless of time. That big guy at your gym that is ALWAYS bench pressing may have a high level of maximum strength. He can produce a large amount of force (to move that heavy barbell) but he does it relatively SLOOOWWWLY.

    Maximum muscular endurance is the ability to produce a smaller amount of force, but do it for a long time. A marathon runner has a high level of muscular endurance. His bodyweight requires less force to move than a heavy barbell, but he is able to move that weight for 2+ hours non-stop.

    Maximum muscular speed is the ability to produce muscular movement very quickly. A hummingbird’s wings are the epitome of speed.

    Muscular power is a combination of maximum strength and speed. An Olympic weightlifter is a great example of power. So are high jumpers and sprinters. Another way of looking at power would be to use our weightlifter friend from the gym.

    If he bench presses 300 lbs but takes 3 seconds to perform the lift, his power output is 100 lbs. per second. However, if he drops the weight to 200 lbs and performs the lift in 1 second, his power output shoots up to 200 lbs. per second.

    If that wasn’t confusing enough, different types of muscular strength rely on the development of the 4 other components of physical fitness.

    Neuro-Muscular Co-ordination

    This component of physical fitness deals with the communication between your brain, nervous system and your skeletal muscles.

    While an in depth analysis of the nervous system is far beyond the scope of this post, I can break it down for you like this:

    Your brain issues a command to your muscles. That command is carried via the nervous system (technically, the brain is part of the nervous system) to the muscles. The muscles perform the action if possible. Your nervous system relays the movement to the brain. The brain receives this feedback and issues another command. And so on and so on.

    This is a highly trainable skill. Highly desirable as well.

    A baby learns to walk by seeing others walk, processing this information in it’s brain and then issuing a command to the muscles to get up and walk. Initially this command will fail as the muscles do not yet have the ability to perform this action. However, the feedback is delivered from the muscles to the brain via the nervous system. The feedback is analyzed and another command is issued and another attempt by the muscles to walk is attempted.

    Eventually, the baby will walk.

    This neuro-muscular co-ordination is required when learning a new skill or improving a current skill.

    Neuro-muscular co-ordination is usually described as agility or balance or simply co-ordination.

    Structural Balance

    This aspect of fitness has to do with the alignment and interplay of your skeleton, skeletal muscles, ligaments, tendons & fascia.

    Are your hamstrings too tight? Is your pelvis in proper alignment? Is the fascia covering your diaphram too tight? Like that well known spiritual said, the leg bone is connected to the shin bone…

    If your body is out of alignment in one place, there will be adaptations elsewhere. Whether those adaptations will result in pain and injury depends on factors that are largely out of your control.

    Before beginning a new fitness program, it might be a good idea to visit some form of physical therapist for an analysis of your structural balance. An osteopath may be a good option as well.

    Energy Systems

    Energy system fitness refers to the ability of the body’s three sources of ATP (the main source of cellular energy) to produce that ATP.

    The three sources or energy systems are the ATP-PC System (Phosphogen System), the Anaerobic System (Lactic Acid System) and the Aerobic System.

    A common misconception about your energy systems concerns the dreaded “fat burning” zone. Many people are of the belief that if you stay well within your aerobic or fat burning zone, your body will burn fat instead of sugar. If you spped up and move out of the aerobic zone into the anaerobic, you will instantly stop burning fat. Not true.

    These systems do NOT turn on and off. They are always on. Depending upon your demand for energy, one system may dominate over the other, but they are all working to provide energy for movement.

    The ATP-PC system is most efficient for short bursts of activity. The Aerobic system is designed for longer duration, lower intensity activities. The Anaerobic sits in between these two systems. It is best designed for explosive activities of relatively short duration.

    Basketball is an anaerobic sport as it alternates short duration, high intensity sprints with periods of lower intensity movements around the basket. These lower intensity activities allow the anaerobic system to recharge. This sport would improve the functioning of the anaerobic system at the expense of the development of the aerobic system. The same could be said for hockey and football.

    An excellent illustration of different sports & how they rely on different energy systems can be seen here.

    A more complete explanation of Energy System Fitness can be found here.

    A how-to on High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) can be found here.

    Overall Health

    Overall health refers to your mental health, emotional health, body composition & lifestyle. While outside of the scope of this post, these aspects of physical fitness will affect you on a systemic level.

    The most physically fit athlete in the world will not be able to perform if his anxiety prevents him boarding a plane to fly to the Olympics in China. A lifestyle choice like smoking will have an negative effect on a triathlete’s performance. And it’s highly unlikely that you will be able to maximize your physical fitness carrying around 20 extra pounds of body-fat.

    In future posts, I will be delving deeper into the 5 components of physical fitness along with suggesting exercises and training programs designed to maximize your potential.


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    Dieting – what a tangled web – pt.2

    In 2007, North Americans spent an estimated $64 billion on weight-loss products & services. This works out to an average of $810 per dieter.

    2007 North American population = 334,000,000 x Approx 25% of the population participating in the weight-loss industry = 79,000,000 dieters in North America.
    $64,000,000,000 spent in 2007 / 79,000,000 dieters = $810 per person

    So what did the typical North American dieter get for their $810?

    Not a whole lot of success considering that obesity rates keep increasing year after year.

    So keep your $810 in your pocket and pay attention.

    In Part 1 of this post, I began by dividing all of the different methods of weight-loss into two camps

    Eat Less and Burn More

    I then gave an introductory explanation of the methods that fell into the Eat Less camp

    Today I will cover the Burn More camp.

    Burn More

    By itself or in conjunction with one or more of the Eat Less methods, burning extra calories can be an effective way to lose weight. In addition, some of the Burn More methods will do more for your health than just melting away body-fat.

    One of the most obvious and time tested ways of burning more calories is exercise.


    Along with eating less food, exercise is the original cure for excess body-fat. Get outside, move around and you WILL lose body-fat.

    Simple, right?

    Not in 2008. Weight-loss is a huge business. If you owned a business that earned just 1% of the weight-loss industry sales, you would have grossed $580 million dollars last year. Sounds pretty good to me.

    However, if you are going to earn $580 mill, you had better be offering something more complicated than:

    • Walk 30 minutes per day at a brisk pace
    • Stretch every night before bed for 20 minutes
    • Perform 30 minutes of body weight exercises / calisthenics 3 times per week
    • 15 minutes of deep breathing exercises or guided meditation per day

    This plan, when combined with a meal plan focused around fresh vegetables, fruit, lean protein (animal or vegetable) and minimal grains will result in a leaner, fitter, healthier & more relaxed you…GUARANTEED

    This plan is simple and effective. However, simple and effective will not achieve $580 million in sales.

    $580 million in sales requires that the exercise gurus make things complicated. For example, one of the major fitness centres in the U.S. is offering 341 different fitness classes. Three Hundred and Forty One.


    Let’s simplify.

    Even with 341 fitness classes, fitness training actually has very few goals.

    1. Make your heart & lungs work better
    2. Make your muscles stronger
    3. Keep your joints & muscles at optimum flexibility/stability
    4. Improve your co-ordination – balance, agility, etc…

    These 4 four fitness goals are designed to help you live longer & live better.

    Fat Burners / Thermogenics

    Fat Burners or Thermogenics are dietary supplements or synthetic drugs designed to speed up the metabolism of body-fat. Take a pill and see the fat melt away.

    Thermogenics have been around in one form or another for a long time. In the 1800s, digitalis was used as a fat-burner due to the assumption that its ability to increase the heart rate would result in fat loss. At that time, digitalis was also known as Dead Man’s Bells and Witches’ Gloves due to its toxicity.

    In the 1900s, thyroid pills became popular.

    In the 1960s & 1970s, amphetamines were all the rage. This continues today with Phentermine et al. Amphetamines are supposed to work by speeding up the metabolism & suppressing appetite. Sounds great until you get to their contraindications. Dependence, increased blood pressure & heart rate, insomnia…

    In the 1980s/1990s, the Ephedrine/Caffeine/Aspirin (E.C.A) fat burner stack was very popular.

    A distinct thermogenic effect was noticed by most who tried this fat burner. However, in most people, the effect was short lived and the product had to be cycled on and off as the effects wore off. People would lose weight while on, and then gain it back while off the stack. As well, there were numerous potential side effects.

    The legal status of Ephedrine is currently up in the air. Supplement companies are currently unable to market ephedrine products as weight loss or bodybuilding supplements. The connection of pseudoephedrine to crystal meth makes further clouds the status of ephedrine as a marketable thermogenic.

    When supplement manufacturers were banned from using ephedrine for their thermogenic products, they turned to other “natural” compounds such as citrus aurantium, guarana and yerba mate.

    Hormonal Supplements

    Another method of achieving weight loss involves the control of the body’s storage hormones. In particular, insulin and cortisol.

    Insulin resistance, which may be caused / accelerated by the typical North American diet of fast acting carbohydrates, has numerous symptoms. One of those is weight gain; particularly fat around the abdominal region.

    In the 1800s, Lord Byron popularized the use of apple cider vinegar as a method of controlling insulin and keeping body-fat at bay. Strangely enough, apple cider vinegar is currently experiencing a re-birth as a weight-loss supplement.

    More recently, supplements such as chromium, alpha lipoic acid, vanadium, magnesium, taurine, zinc, gymnema sylvestre and banaba leaf extract/ colosolic acid have been promoted as insulin controlling weight-loss supplements.

    Another hormonal approach to weight loss involves cortisol. It is cortisol’s ability to elevate blood sugar levels that has made it a target of dieters and supplement companies.

    Phosphatidylserine found in white kidney bean extract as well as various adaptogenic herbs are being marketed as cortisol blockers effective at fighting stress induced weight gain.

    Like the insulin focused supplements, the effectiveness ofcortisol focused products is still up for debate.

    Liposuction / Abdominoplasty

    While I may be stretching things a bit by including surgical methods of weight loss in the “Burn More” category; it fits here better than the “Eat Less” category, and I didn’t want to write a separate post. So there. Sue me.

    Abdominoplasty is also known as a “tummy tuck”. Excess fat and skin is cut away from the body, the abdominal wall tightened and like Humpty Dumpty, is all put back together again.

    Another method of surgically removing body-fat is liposuction. While there are various different methods of liposuction, the basic concept is the removal of body-fat by the insertion of a hollow narrow tube (think of a drinking straw) which is connected to a vacuum or suction machine. The fat is sucked out of your body through the tube.

    It must be noted that like any surgery, both procedures involve risk.

    Well, that’s it for today. In future posts, I will be looking at individual methods of weight loss. While I will focus mainly on the “eating less” side of the equation, I would be happy to answer anyone’s questions concerning any of the other methods. If I don’t know the answer, I will find someone who will.


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    Dieting – what a tangled web

    As of April 3, 2008; a Google search of the word “diet” would return you over 179,000,000 hits.

    There are thousands upon thousands of individuals & corporations who will sell you the perfect solution to your weight loss dreams. Take this pill. Use this cream. Wear this belt. Do this workout. Try this diet.

    Marketdata Enterprises, Inc., a U.S. market research company estimates that the weight loss industry had sales of $58 billion in 2007. They are projecting that by 2010, the industry will be worth $68.7 billion. This projection would have been even greater if it wasn’t for the scare of a possible recession.

    So where do you start?

    Let’s begin by dividing all of the different weight loss methods into 2 main camps.

    Eat Less and Burn More

    Eat Less

    Simple. Eat less food and you WILL lose weight. That will be $58 billion, please.

    Not so simple. Every seasoned dieter knows that our bodies are stubborn about holding onto our fat and that unless we are willing to survive on nothing but air and sunshine, (see breatharianism) we had better become smarter about burning body-fat.

    To that end, smart people throughout history have com up with smart ways to help the rest of us eat less food. Here are some of their methods.

    Structured Diets

    Instead of just eating less of the foods you usually eat, there have always been diet gurus willing to sell you their one of a kind, guaranteed to work, fat burning diet. Some work, some don’t. Some work for a while, but then stop working. Wikipedia lists 79 different types of diets. In future posts, I will analyze some of the diets on the market today.

    I will also look at extreme diets like the VLCD diets used in hospital settings, fasting or detox diets like the “Master Cleanse” and anorexia.

    Behaviour Modification Techniques

    From 1895 to 1919, a man named Horace Fletcher popularized a method of eating that promised weight loss, greater health and an abundance of energy. His practice was called Fletcherizing. Practitioners of his method were called Fletcherizers. The secret of his method – chew each bite of food until it liquifies in your mouth. In 2008, a modified version of this technique is part of Paul McKenna’s “I Can Make You Thin” program.

    Another behaviour modification technique comes from the field of psychology. Psychologists (see Judith Beck) are teaching cognitive behavioural therapy techniques to clients trying to lose weight.

    Appetite Suppressants

    Attempts to suppress appetite have been around almost forever. In the 1800s, tree sap & camphor tea were thought to suppress appetite. Ice water is purported to both suppress appetite and increase short term metabolism. Along the same lines, soup based diets (see Cabbage Soup diet) claim to suppress appetite.

    Other methods of appetite suppressant include dietary fibre (see food & supplements), homeopathic & aromatherapy preparations, herbal appetite suppressants (see Hoodia Gordonii), and synthetics like fen-phen.

    Diuretics & Laxatives

    These two methods of weight loss have a long and undistinguished history. In the 1800s, dieters used Potassium acetate (diuretic) and chalk (laxative) for rapid yet temporary weight loss. Commonly used as a last ditch effort to lose weight FAST, laxatives and diuretics come in many forms.

    While most natural diuretics, like asparagus and cranberries, have a relatively safe and gradual effect on body fluids, herbal products like ephedra, horsetail and dandelion root along with synthetic products such as lasix and aldactone have a much more powerful and potentially dangerous effect on fluid levels and your kidneys.

    Like the diuretics, laxatives come in varying strengths and from both natural sources like coffee, senna leaf, and aloe vera as well as from synthetic sources like Tegaserod. Like diuretics, laxatives can have serious side effects when abused.

    Fat Blockers & Carb Blockers

    Fat and Carbohydrate blocking supplements are designed to stop either dietary fats or carbohydrates from being absorbed by your digestive system. The theory is that “blocked” fats and carbs pass straight through your digestive track without being used for energy or stored as body-fat.

    Bulimia & Anorexia

    Bulimia and Anorexia are the only methods of weight loss currently recognized in the AMA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as eating disorders. Other forms of disordered eating, such as binge eating, while not recognized as mental illnesses by the psychiatric industry, are still very serious medical conditions. To engage is these behaviours is dangerous.

    Bariatric Bypass Surgery

    Bariatric or Gastric Bypass surgery is the catch-all phrase for the different types of surgical procedures designed to treat obesity by altering the G.I. tract and consequently reducing the amount of food eaten and/or absorbed by the patient. As of April 2008, there are at least 8 different types of Gastric Bypass surgeries.

    Like all surgeries, Gastric Bypass surgery is not without risk. On top of the surgical risk, the success of this procedure is not guaranteed. Recent research has shown a genetic component to the success of Gastric Bypass surgeries

    Scientific Research

    As science learns more and more about our bodies, the search for effective weight loss moves farther away from diets, behaviour modification and diet pills and towards anti-obesity vaccines targeting various hormones (leptin, ghrelin, pyy, agrp, etc…) and genetic research.

    While the search for a genetic answer to obesity is very exciting, it seems like for the present, genetic research into obesity is creating more questions than answers. I will be following this research closely and will be posting as new developments come to light.

    As I mentioned at the start of this post, all of the different weight loss methods available today fall into two camps, Eat Less and Burn More.

    This post served as a general introduction to the “Eat Less” methods of weight loss. My next post will address the “Burn More” methods.


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