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Archive for the ‘QOTD’ Category

Dr. Walter Willett, nutrition chair at Harvard (among other things), has a new book — Thinfluence — coming out next month. In a promotional interview with The Atlantic, he talks about the “powerful and surprising effect” the environment and our social networks play (emphasis mine):

If you look around the world at wealthy countries like the United States, you see very different rates of obesity. In Japanese women, prevalence of obesity is under 5 percent; in Swedish women it’s about 6 or 7 percent. In the U.S., it’s between 35 and 40 percent—and we know that when people come from these countries to live in the United States, they fatten up. That’s a clue that there is something pretty important going on that’s related to where we live, and that there are very important factors operating [outside of us as individuals].

We’ve started to understand some of these; they’re often complex but it’s a clue that Americans aren’t simply completely irresponsible people. And looking at kids, too, their obesity rates have about tripled over the last four years, or quadrupled among some groups. It’s not that kids have become massively irresponsible in such a short time, but that there are obviously factors outside the kids’ inner-selves that are operating here.

So much of what people have been told is that weight is just about individual change. We’re not saying that there is no such thing as individual responsibility, but sometimes even very responsible people can have a hard time making the choice that’s in their best interest if there are a lot of barriers in their daily life and environment.

I might quibble with characterizing this as “surprising” … but I suppose it’s helpful when someone like Willett proclaims it so.

In the book, Willett talks about a very interesting program in Kentucky that leverages “contagious health” as a wellness tactic. The idea behind this program (see “microclinics“) is very, very compelling IMO!

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Quote of the day

Thanks to Andy Bellatti for the permission to repost his response to the latest “saturated fat doesn’t raise risk of heart disease” study. His take-aways (emphasis mine):

1. It’s important to keep in mind that this meta-analysis only looked at heart disease. I think saturated fat’s role in heart disease has been exaggerated and misunderstood, but we also can’t forget that most of the foods that are high in saturated fat are problematic for other reasons (i.e.: processed meats increase colorectal cancer risk, most foods high in saturated fat do not contribute fiber, the role that L-carnitine, a compound in red meat, plays in promotion of heart disease, etc.)

2. This study still does not discount the fact that monounsaturated fats (almonds, pecans, olives, avocados) confer many health benefits.

3. As long as we have this dichotomy of “saturated vs. unsaturated” fats, we’ll always have this battle. In reality, we need to start having a “processed vs. unprocessed” fat conversation. “Unsaturated” fats include everything from the fat in avocados (great!) to the fat Doritos are fried in (not good).

4. Too often, these studies end up inaccurately translated as “saturated fat isn’t as harmful as we once thought! Pile on the bacon!” To me, what this study says confirms is what I tell my clients often: “it’s fine if you want to cook your vegetables in a little butter to give them flavor, but the focus should be on eating a hearty amount of vegetables, not drowning three broccoli florets in a ton of butter because butter has been given the supposed green light.”

5. Remember that whole, plant-based foods contain many compounds (minerals, phytonutrients) that are great for heart health.

This is the first time in over 200 QOTD posts that I’ve quoted an entire post! But I thought the whole thing was well worth sharing here … I couldn’t agree with Andy more.

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If you are a woman, if you're a person of colour, if you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, if you are a person of size, if you are a person od intelligence, if you are a person of integrity, then you are considered a minority in this world. ...And it's going to be really hard to find messages of self-love and support anywhere. It's all about how you have to look a certain way or else you're worthless. For us to have self-esteem is truly an act of revolution and our revolution is long overdue.

Saw this on a friend’s Facebook feed this AM and the last part about self-esteem being an act of revolution resonated. I Google’d and it turns out there’s more to the quote. Here’s another snippet I liked:

You know when you look in the mirror and you think ‘oh, I’m so fat, I’m so old, I’m so ugly’, don’t you know, that’s not your authentic self? But that is billions upon billions of dollars of advertising, magazines, movies, billboards, all geared to make you feel shitty about yourself so that you will take your hard earned money and spend it at the mall on some turn-around creme that doesn’t turn around shit.

But while the short quote in graphic form works great in a Facebook feed, another part left out highlights what Cho really meant about self-esteem in this culture being an act of revolution:

When you don’t have self-esteem you will hesitate before you do anything in your life. You will hesitate to go for the job you really wanna go for, you will hesitate to ask for a raise, you will hesitate to call yourself an American, you will hesitate to report a rape, you will hesitate to defend yourself when you are discriminated against because of your race, your sexuality, your size, your gender. You will hesitate to vote, you will hesitate to dream. For us to have self-esteem is truly an act of revolution and our revolution is long overdue.

Word.

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Quote of the day

Dr. David Katz is a busy guy! One of his many roles is Editor-in-chief of the journal Childhood Obesity. In an editorial in the February issue, he asserts that obesity is like drowning: “medically legitimate,” but not a disease. For him, this is not just semantics:

The importance of considering obesity a variety of drowning lies with the implied remediations. Whereas we do treat drowning when it occurs, our principal approach is directed at prevention. … We recognize the problem of drowning as a mismatch between our bodies and the environment, and direct our efforts at the interface. Diseases, in contrast, bespeak a problem within us, rather than all around us, and direct our efforts accordingly.

Obesity as disease implies that a large population of our sons and daughters are not just heavy, but diseased. I object to this, for the fault lies not with the bodies of our children, but with the body politic. The fault lies with a culture that sanctions junk as a food group, jettisons physical activity from the school day despite evidence of its myriad benefits, and, in general, leaves health to languish on a road not taken while neglecting much that might be done to put it on a path of lesser resistance. If ever more effort is directed at obesity as a disease, treated in the customary ways, none of these fundamental problems will garner the attention each deserves.

Obesity need not be a disease to be legitimate. If it is a disease, it is a social disease.

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Quote of the day

WaPo blogger Lenny Bernstein’s 5 years and 1 lesson:

After five years of studying the scientific literature on fitness and health, wading through countless government reports, interviewing experts and trying every form of exercise I could, it’s pretty sobering to realize that the entire endeavor can be reduced to two words:

Just move.

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Quote of the day

Mark Sisson says the “single best exercise there is, hands down, is the one you’ll do:”

Because heavy squats are fantastic for strength, unless you don’t do them. Because sprinting makes you lean and fast, unless you’re not sprinting. The same is true for everything. It only works if you do it. …

The key is figuring out which exercise you’ll actually do. And I don’t need scientific references for the notion that you’re more likely to do a physical activity that you actually enjoy doing. It’s a fundamental law of nature.

Sounds quite a bit like Yoni Freedhoff’s suggestion to live “the healthiest life that you can enjoy, not the healthiest life that you can tolerate.”

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Quote of the day

Move and Be Free’s Chris Serong argues that laziness doesn’t exist and that we should look at exercise and movement from a different perspective:

If [exercise] really was about health, the language would be different. They wouldn’t tell you exercise is good because it makes you thin, they’d tell you exercise is good for you because exercise is good for you. That’s the truth. It’s the activity itself that does you good. Not this other thing that might happen down the track, this other thing we pin all our hopes on. …

Exercise, training, moving your body – this stuff should be joyful, it should be the natural human expression of freedom and emotion. And if you’re doing it because you’re wishing you weren’t you, or you weren’t the way you are – you’re not practicing movement for the sake of getting better at movement – you’re trying to atone for your sins. …

Do what’s helpful. The other shit – all of it – it’s not easy, but if it’s not helping you, you can let it go.

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Quote of the day

Disease Proof author Dr. David Katz revisited a post from late last year, wondering: Should choosing a meal really require choosing a Messiah?

Couldn’t the proponents of low-carb eating acknowledge that jellybeans were part of the problem, but pinto beans- not so much? The vegans have important arguments about the treatment of our planetary cohabitants, sustainable eating for a population of 7 billion, and planetary stewardship- but if anything, these get lost when they fail to allow for the fact that game and fish figure in the diets of some of the world’s longest-lived, most vital peoples. We could have been right about reducing saturated fat intake, and wrong about what we ate instead. We could agree that eating real food, close to nature, rich in nutrients, and mostly whether or not exclusively plants would be far better than the typical American diet, and would occupy ground common to the disparate theologies of food. …

Whether about wheat or meat, sugar or starch, calories or carbohydrates, this fat or that fat, we seem to have an insatiable appetite for mere grains of truth about diet and health, rather than the complete recipe. Planting such seeds, we are reaping just what we are sowing: more heat than light, unending opportunities for food industry abuses, stunning lack of public health progress, and the very kind of trees that make the forest impossible to see.

Maybe Chris Masterjohn has the right idea:

yum

Yum!

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Quote of the day

I came across this 2009 interview with former bodybuilder turned fitness coach Scott Abel recently and thought his comments re carb cycling interesting:

Often this industry seeks to create consumer dependence. The more complicated we make something, the more “genius” or “expert” guidance required to unravel it. It’s a way of creating two things.

One as I said, is dependence, and the other is the illusion of control. If we give people more and more variables to pay attention to, they “think” they are controlling complex bodily processes that are not linear one-way causative relationships. Again, by seeking to complicate what is simple, the industry creates for itself “experts” to unravel its own creation: complexity. …

The simple truth is that complicating things in the short run usually burns people out in the long run to the point they just give up and move on. The industry relies on this turnstile nature of consumers within it. So carb cycling may “work” depending on how you define it, but is it sustainable and relevant?

Seems to me you could replace “carb cycling” with a whole lot of other diet & exercise approaches. YMMV.

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Behavioral psychology blogger Gregory Ciotti explains the concept of supernormal stimulus … and why it suggests your brain just wasn’t built for junk food, porn, or the Internet. In a nutshell, the idea is that things like junk food or porn provide not-found-in-nature stimuli that our lizard brains find hard to resist.

Ciotti doesn’t say that the solution to this is to go all Luddite (or Grok). Instead, he suggests avoiding habituation:

The real enemy here is complacency—you needn’t feel guilty engaging with supernormal stimuli, but you should feel guilty if you allow yourself to become a victim of your habits, instead of the person in the driver’s seat.

Or as Stuart McMillen’s amazing comic concludes:

Only those who can see the supernormal can learn to silence the reptile.

A bit like “all things in moderation” but with a twist?

HT Julianne Taylor.

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