Michael Verdi’s Training for a Triathalon

By Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am — Filed under:

I don’t know if you remember Michael Verdi, but he is one of my video blogging friends from way back. In April of 2006, he decided to run again and did a little video after his first run. A run around the block set off a fit of coughing and he had forgotten how hard it was. You can see that video after his first run here:

by: vPIP
Embed (copy & paste):

Well, it’s almost four years later and he is now training for a triathlon. You can really tell the difference in his health just by looking at the shape of his face. He has toned up and slimmed down and now he’s willing to take it to the next level.

You can help Michael Verdi by donating to his run for the Team in Training here:

I sent him twenty five bucks just because he’s such a great example of how regular exercise really changes our bodies for the better. Good luck, Michael! We’re cheering for you from afar!


Dr. Weil and Geek Health Issues

By Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am — Filed under:

Kevin Rose interviewed Dr. Weil the other day and asked him a bunch of questions regarding health issues for computer geeks.

Geek Question: How bad is soda?

Dr. Weil: I don’t think there is anything wrong with carbonation, but the problem with most sodas is that they are high is sugar. The vast consumption of sugary drinks is one of the main things that’s driving the obesity epidemic in young people in this country. I like sparkling water with a little fruit juice in it.

High fructose corn syrup is bad and a marker of low quality foods, but whether a soft drink is sweetened with HFCS or “real sugar” is not a big difference nutritionally.

Geek Question: What about energy drinks?

Dr. Weil: You want to read labels. They throw everything but the kitchen sink in and there’s no real reason behind the ingredients. Be careful about sugar content. There may be many different caffeine sources in something. The price might not be justified with what’s in it. Plus, there are many tried and true energy drinks like coffee and tea.

Geek Question: What do you recommend to pull an all-nighter?

Dr. Weil: Coffee is great for that, but if you use it regularly, it’s not going to have much effect. There are forms of tea that are quite powerful. Matcha, a powdered green tea, was developed in Japan to keep Zen Monks awake.

There are other natural stimulants like bitter orange, which is an ingredient in some of these energy drinks. That has replaced ephedra in a lot of the things out there.

Geek Question: A lot of people are saying that dairy is bad for you. Is that true?

Dr. Weil: I think that’s an over-simplification. I think cow’s milk and all of its derivatives is a problem for a lot of people. Butter fat is not great for our hearts and arteries. The sugar in cow’s milk, lactose, is indigestible for a lot of people. But the big problem is the protein in cow’s milk, casein, has a particular ability to irritate the immune system and be associated with allergy.

The antibiotics that the cows are treated with is a whole other issue. One aspect that I never hear discussed is that in North America, we have cows lactating or pregnant almost all of the time. Because of that there is a high level of sex hormones in the milk and those hormones are cancer promoting. These are natural hormones that are the consequences of keeping cows lactating, but they can cause breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men.

Geek Question: What about soy milk?

Dr. Weil: In Japan, where soy milk is consumed regularly, there is generally better health, better longevity and much lower rates of hormonally driven cancers. I think it’s very beneficial to consume whole soy foods moderately and regularly. That’s WHOLE soy foods (edamame, soy nuts, soy milk, tofu, tempeh), not fake food made with soy isolate, soy supplements, or soy isoflavones. We have no information on the safety of these products.

Geek Question: What vitamins should we be taking?

Dr. Weil: I think the quality of vitamins matters, but the quality doesn’t necessarily correlate with the price. I don’t think vitamins are substitutes for the foods that contain them, because at best they are partial representations of what nature provides. They are useful for insurance against gaps in the diet.

Geek Question: What vitamin D? A lot of geeks don’t get a lot of sunshine.

Dr. Weil: This is standard. Vitamin D deficiency is the rule in this country. Dermatologists have made everyone so paranoid about the sun that they use sunscreen, which blocks vitamin D. It’s worth getting your levels checked, but I recommend that everybody take 2000 i.u. of vitamin D a day. Take it with your largest meal, because it needs fat to be absorbed. The BEST way to get it from sun exposure.

Geek Question: What about Omega-3 oils?

Dr. Weil: This is the greatest deficiency in our nation. I recommend you take 2-3 grams of fish oil every day. Omega-3 rich fish to eat: sardines and sock-eye salmon. Krill is a good idea, but I’m concerned about sustainability. Chia and flax seed are good for your diet, but they aren’t substitutes for the nutrients you get from fish. Plant derived omega-3’s are a different molecule that the body needs to convert to what it needs and that conversion is not very efficient.

Geek Question: What about cell phone radiation?

Dr. Weil: That’s a very controversial issue. The bottom line is that you should err on the side of caution. I try to personally limit cell phone use. Distancing yourself from the source of the radiation is useful.

Geek Question: What about eye problems from looking at the computer screen every day?

Dr. Weil: That is a real issue. I guess the best advice is to get into the habit of looking at something distance once every two minutes. Protect your eyes from UV radiation when you’re out in the sun. Take the right doses of antioxidant vitamins.

Geek Question: What about pomegranate juice?

Dr. Weil: We should be eating lots of fruits and vegetables. The practical advice is that you want to eat across the color spectrum (every color of fruit and vegetable that you can). I don’t think you need to spend outrageous amounts of money on exotic super fruits. There are plenty of things on hand to eat that are much cheaper and more available. You don’t need these exotic things in your diet and we have plenty of home grown things that are great.

Geek Question: What is it about chocolate that has such addictive properties to it and is that really good for me?

Dr. Weil: Chocolate has a stimulant drug in it called theobromine. It also has a high fat content. It also has a chemical in it called phenethylamine that some people think is associated with elevated mood and a sense of emotional well-being.

Geek Question: What about the Atkin’s Diet?

Dr. Weil: I think the better incarnation of that is probably South Beach Diet. For men, particularly, it’s a relatively easy way of dropping weight. I recommend the anti-inflammatory diet. Try to avoid products made with flour and sugar.

Geek Question: You were against trans-fats and now they are labeled on packaging. Is there anything else that you’d like to get awareness about?

Dr. Weil: High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is an indicator of low quality food. Avoid the food if there are too many ingredients on the label or ingredients that you don’t recognize.

Geek Question: At what point should you seek medical advice for depression? Are there supplements for it?

Dr. Weil: You should see a doctor about severe depression when it is interfering with daily living: can’t work, can’t get out of bed, disordered eating. Most cases of mild to moderate depression can be managed with regular aerobic exercise, getting adequate exposure to bright light, getting good sleep, moderate intake of caffeine and alcohol and supplements (vitamin D, fish oil, Sam-e, and St. John’s Wort).

Geek Question: What about exercise?

Dr. Weil: I think it’s important to get some sort of exercise every day. For people dealing with depression, I’d say a minimum of thirty minutes of some kind of vigorous aerobic activity at least five or six days of the week.

Geek Question: Are juice cleanses good for us?

Dr. Weil: The best way to detox a body is to stop putting toxic things in. The body has marvelous ways of clearing things up like urination, sweating, breathing and elimination. Drink more water, use a sauna and exercise to increase sweating and make sure you go to the restroom regularly. I tend to rely on those much more natural methods of detoxification. I don’t think you have to invest in these fancy detox kits and products that are sold in health food stores.

Geek Question: You’re a big drinker of tea. What do you recommend?

Dr. Weil: I personally like good quality green tea, oolong tea, occasionally Darjeeling tea, and pu-erh tea. Most of the medical research has been done on green tea. Go to a tea shop and Asian grocery stores to get good tea.


Embrace Your Flawz

By Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am — Filed under:

If you are feeling a little down about yourself, watch this video. See if you can spot the famously “flawed” people.

My friend, Hugh Elliott, recommended the video with the following sentence:

you should watch this. and get a tissue. (not that I needed one but you might.)

My Scar Saved My LifeHe was right. I started blubbering at:

My scar saved my life.

Our flaws ARE the things that make us unique. Without them, we would all be the same and the world would be such a boring place. The next time you find yourself cursing any part of your body, remember this video. We can love ourselves and work to make ourselves better.


The Best Exercise Equipment Store

By Laura Moncur @ 12:42 pm — Filed under:

Hands down, the best exercise equipment store is the thrift store. In Utah, the best thrift store (or second-hand store) is Deseret Industries, or The DI for short. If you are looking for some exercise equipment, whether it’s a treadmill, exercise bike, elliptical trainer or even an Ab-Doer, you will eventually find a GOOD one at the thrift store if you go there every week and really look.

Just last week, here is what I saw at the 4500 South DI:

Best Exercise Equipment Store

So many Ab-Doers and Cardio Glides that I had my pick of the litter. Of course, I wasn’t looking for either of those, but if I had, it would have been perfect. Fortunately, I found exactly what I was looking for at the Redwood Road DI. I had wanted a recumbent exercise bike with magnetic resistance so that it would be quiet and I found it for only twenty five bucks.

Recumbent Bike for 25 Bucks

I had seen a brand new version of this exact bike at Sears for over 250 dollars, so I saved over two hundred bucks just by biding my time and looking at every thrift store in town once a week for about a month. Sure, that’s a pain in the butt to wait and meticulously look, but it was worth the money.

If you want some exercise equipment, here is how to get it on the cheap:

  • Go to the “real” sports stores and department stores to find out what you want. Use the demo units so you can know how they are supposed to feel when they are new. Determine the features that you are looking for. Also, check the prices to make sure that you aren’t paying full price for a used item.

  • Make a list of the features you NEED, the features you’d LIKE and what you’re willing to live with. For example, on the bike I bought, the seat and back were falling apart and had been taped together with black tape. I didn’t care that the seat was damaged because what I wanted was magnetic resistance on a recumbent bike.

  • Make a list of all the thrift shops and second hand stores in your area. With my list, I was able to hit a bunch of them on my way home from downtown each week, so it wasn’t difficult for me to look in so many stores.

  • Visit the shops about once a week, preferably on the day that they receive new merchandise. Some stores get deliveries of second hand items on a regular basis from a central donation center. Others put new items out each day. Find out the rhythms of each store.

  • In each store, go to the exercise equipment section and make a quick search. Don’t get distracted by the other goodies you might see there. This is supposed to be a quick search.

  • Try out the equipment at the thrift store. If it’s a treadmill, insist that they allow you to plug it in and see if it works. Try it at every intensity level that you plan on using it. Some equipment works fine at lower levels, but when you crank up the speed or incline, they conk out. Make sure you test it thoroughly before buying it, so wear your jogging bra and running shoes on your outings.

  • Make sure you can get it home. It’s not a deal if you have to rent a truck to haul the thing home. Make sure it will fit in your car or that you have a friend with a pickup to help you get the equipment home.

Believe me, there were plenty of exercise bikes at the thrift stores, but I wanted a very specific kind, so it took me a while to get what I wanted. You’ll have to do the same when you are looking for exercise equipment at thrift stores, but it will be worth it when you finally find it.


Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-01-26

By Laura Moncur @ 12:32 am — Filed under:


Monday Music Motivation: Week Two

By Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am — Filed under:

For the next few weeks every Monday, I’ll share a playlist of songs that I have in my Workout Playlist on my iPhone. I’ll include clips to listen to, where you can buy them and why I have them in my list. Just so you know, I do get a portion of the sales of these songs from Amazon, so if you buy them, you’re helping me out.

Your Attention by Blue Man Group: This song is fast moving, so it’s great to run to. It also reminds me that I need to be present in the moment. “Your attention, please. Please yell if you are paying attention!” It just makes me want to yell!

Strong Enough by Cher: I know this song is about surviving a cheating no-good husband like Sony Bono, but she keeps saying that she’s strong enough. It’s like an anthem for all those people who want to stop working out as soon as they start. I like to think of the old me who didn’t want to exercise is the person who’s “gotta to go.”

Move Your Body by Eiffel 65: Before auto-tune became a pop music staple, Eiffel 65 released an entire album with it. I love this one because it makes me want to move, even if I’m sitting still. It works wonders when I’m feeling like quitting.

Salad Wrap by Sniper Twins: When I first discovered this song, I wrote about it here: Starling Fitness » Salad Wrap [Shake That Salad] by Sniper Twins. I love this song because it fools me into believing that it’s cool to eat salad.

Jump In The Pool by Friendly Fires: I have no idea where I heard about this song. I love the sound of the music. Just hearing them saying, “Jump in the… jump in the…” over and over makes me want to take big jumps on my treadmill.

Fergalicious by Fergie: I have this song in my workout playlist for ONE line in the song, “My body stay vicious, I be up in the gym, just workin’ on my fitness.” Just hearing that Fergie needs to workout to stay beautiful reminds me that I have to as well.

Move Your Feet by Junior Senior: This song can be a little repetitive, but it sure keeps my feet movin’! “Don’t stop the beat! Can’t control the feet! People in the street, come on everybody and move your feet!”

I’m A Hottie Now by SkinnySongs: This week’s selection from Skinny Songs is a great way to imagine how life will be when I get thin.

Dare To Be Stupid by Weird Al Yankovic: My love for Weird Al Yankovic is well known and one of the reasons is this song. Whenever I feel like exercise makes me look dumb (especially when I’m not doing well), this song reminds me that it’s okay to dare to be stupid.

Listen to the clips for these songs. If you find just one song this week that motivates you to exercise, then buy it and make it your powersong when you’re working out this week. I bet you’ll find that you’re more willing to get your butt to the gym and your workouts are easier.


Starling Fitness DVD: Liberty Park Walk

By Laura Moncur @ 9:23 pm — Filed under:

Back in February, we had one final snow storm that covered the city in a blanket of beautiful white. I wasn’t really in the mood to go for a walk, but I couldn’t let the gorgeous snow get away. I grabbed Mike’s camera and headed to Sugarhouse Park to film a walking video. It’s strange to see the shivering whiteness now that summer has overtaken Utah. If the heat is slowing you down, pop this DVD into your player and pretend it’s cold and snowy.

Here is a glimpse of what the video looks like:

Click here to see the video

The cold air made it harder for me to breathe, so you can hear me panting up the hills on this one. By the end of the filming, the lens was covered with snowflakes. Is it distracting or realistic? You decide!

Estimated Distance: 1.84 miles
Estimated Speed: 2.2 mph
Time: 48 minutes

I’m offering this workout DVD for $5 plus shipping.

Order Starling Fitness Walking Videos Here

You can see the route I walked here:

Click here to see the map of the Liberty Park Walk

Video Description:

When you went to bed, it felt like spring, but you woke up to a blanket of snow and still more coming down. It is sticking to every branch and the whole world looks like it has been spray painted white. It is a perfect morning for a walk in the park. The snow crunches under your boots. Be careful not to slip.

The geese and ducks have congregated to the middle of the pond, but you can still hear them honking in protest at the sudden storm. A family is tobogganing down the hill. You want to play with them, but you don’t have a sled, so you keep walking. Photographers are wandering the park taking photos of the snow-laden branches. Say hi to the other walkers intent on their daily routine despite the snow. By the time you’re finished, your glasses are covered with snowflakes, but your cheeks are red and you feel like you could walk across the world.

Order Starling Fitness Walking Videos Here

One Big Happy Family

By Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am — Filed under:

One Big Happy FamilyEarlier this month, TLC started a new reality show about a family that is trying to lose weight together. Not only does the show highlight living a healthy lifestyle, but it also shows how difficult it can be to be overweight.

For example, the Coles decided to have a yard sale to get rid of the junk in their lives and maybe make a little money. Whenever you open yourself up to the public, however, you’ll encounter one of those jerks who hate fat people.

Then, when they went to an amusement park, they encountered embarrassing weight restrictions on the rides.

For the first time since we canceled our cable, I’m wishing that I had forked out the monthly dollars to Comcast. I can’t find a way to watch this show except on TLC. I’m interested to see how the Coles progress and see if they have anywhere near the success that the contestants on The Biggest Loser have.


The Morning Banana Diet

By Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am — Filed under:

Just when the dieting world seemed to calm down and the mantra of “Eat Less, Move More” seemed to be the prevailing wisdom, Japan goes crazy for bananas.

The Morning Banana Diet regime is simple: A banana (or as many as you want) and room temperature water for breakfast; eat anything you like for lunch and dinner (by 8 p.m.). A three o’clock snack is okay, but no desserts after meals, and you have to go to bed before midnight. Sumiko Watanabe, a pharmacist in Osaka designed this stress-free diet to help increase the metabolism of her husband Hitoshi Watanabe, who had been rather overweight. In due course, Mr. Watanabe lost 37 pounds.

Here is a video explaining it:

If you notice, the most important part of the diet is number four:

Eat until you’re full, but not stuffed.

This simple concept is THE reason that people might lose weight on this diet. It’s an idea that Weight Watchers and many other diet programs have promoted for the last decade. Being able to eat until you’re satisfied, but not full is the biggest predictor of whether you’ll be able to lose the weight and keep it off.

This diet has caused runs on bananas in Japan and it looks like Dole is trying to create the same fervor in the United States. They are calling it the Dole Banana Diet. Look at this advertisement I pulled out of People Magazine last month.

Dole Banana Diet: Click to see full size

According to Dole,

Bananas contain resistant starch which research shows blocks conversion of some carbohydrates into fuel, boosting fat burning by forcing your body to rely on fat stores instead – a sure aid to sustainable weight loss. Dole has created a delicious banana diet to help you stick to your New Year’s resolution.

Will the Morning Banana Diet make you thin?

Maybe… I think we need a lot more research on the “magical” powers of resistant starch. Replacing your usual breakfast with one banana could save you anywhere from 400 to 700 calories, depending on what you usually eat for breakfast. That amount of caloric reduction could result in a loss of a pound a week as long as you don’t over compensate at lunch and dinner.

Is the Morning Banana Diet hazardous?

Probably not. There is a risk of feeling REALLY hungry before lunch, especially if you deal with low blood sugar on a regular basis. I prefer to have protein with every meal because it makes me feel full. More importantly, eating a banana for breakfast every morning is a really good way to get sick of bananas and never want to eat them again. They are a GREAT addition to your diet but do you really want to make yourself sick of them?

Are you going to try it?

Sorry, Dole, I’m not buying it any more than I bought the Three Apple a Day Diet or the Dairy Diet. Sure, I’m going to eat bananas when they sound like a good breakfast, but the Morning Banana Diet just sounds like a way to make Dole very rich.

Watch out. Even the seemingly healthy ideas are backed by people trying to take your money. Choose a diet that is balanced and that you can live with. Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet is a good option, but any plan that tries to convince you that one certain food is THE answer is just trying to take your money.


The King of Soda Pop

By Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am — Filed under:

When John realized that he couldn’t compete with the big grocery stores, he decided that Pepsi and Coca-Cola aren’t the only soda pops in town. Instead of running the grocery store like his father did, John decided to specialize in soda pop. His store now sells five HUNDRED different kinds of pop, ranging from Red Ribbon Rootbeer to Rose Soda and even Cucumber Soda.

You can see his interview from Chow here:

The most interesting part of the video happens at the 4:53 mark when he talks about diet sodas.

Are There Any Good Diet Sodas?

Most diet sodas are really pretty bad. I mean they just don’t taste good. There have been a few that have come out, Stewart’s Black Cherry Diet is probably the finest Black Cherry diet I’ve ever tasted. Jones has a Diet Green Apple that’s very good. And then there’s Sprecher’s, which has a low-cal rootbeer, which has 11 calories, which is not a true diet, but it’s low enough that if you’re watching calories. But other than those three or four, most sodas… [he shakes his head]

His advice?

Drink less. How’s that? Drink six ounces rather than twelve and you get 60 calories versus 120 calories, and then you’re satisfied and you’re happy.

If you’d like to try those diet sodas that he recommended, you can purchase them online and they will ship them to you.

Galco’s Soda Pop Stop: 5702 York Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90042

Video via: Vox Pop Design – Business Lessons from the King of Pop

« Previous Entries - Next Page »

Powered by WordPress
(c) 2004-2017 Starling Fitness / Michael and Laura Moncur