I Attend Weight Watchers EVERY Week

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

At the end of December, Weight Watchers started including little magazine handouts at every meeting. This year’s New Year’s Resolution that I set was to attend Weight Watchers EVERY week so I could collect all of the handouts.

I Attend Weight Watchers EVERY Week

It’s funny how something as simple as a little paper handout can get my butt into the Weight Watchers door. The desire to “collect all 52” is so strong that I actually have attended meetings in Las Vegas and Del Mar already this year. Even though it was a pain in the butt to find a meeting in a unfamiliar city, I made sure that I attended my meetings.

Ironically, just getting my body into the door helps me every week. They always have something motivating to talk about and even if I HATE the teacher in the other towns, the members have stories that have kept me going.

I know Weight Watchers doesn’t work for everyone and I certainly accept that their program isn’t PERFECT, but attending the meetings every week has kept my motivation level far higher than it was last year at this time. And I can thank those weekly handouts for it all.


Why Should I Measure?

By Laura Moncur @ 9:00 am — Filed under:

I had a shock yesterday when I took out my measuring cups. I had been wondering how much water my coffee mug and my favorite water cup actually held. I counted the coffee mug as two cups and the tall glass as three cups based on an eyeball estimate.

Why Should I Measure

Imagine my surprise when I pulled out the measuring cup, poured water into them and found that BOTH only held two cups of liquid. There is a little room at the top of both of them for about a quarter cup more water if I were willing to carefully lift them to my lips, but mostly, they only hold two cups.

This was a surprise to me because I had been counting the tall glass as three cups ever since I bought the cup full of alcoholic slushie in Las Vegas. Not only did I overestimate the calories of the alcoholic drink, I have been overestimating how much water I’ve been drinking ever since.

Instead of six glasses of water every day, I’ve been getting only four. In the case of the alcohol, I ended up counting more calories than I actually had, which is probably why I lost weight that week in Las Vegas.

Why should I measure? Because looks can be VERY deceiving.


Eating Healthy While Sick

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

I just came off two weeks of severe sickness. I’ve worn a indent into the couch in the living room and every garbage bin in the house is filled with tissues and empty Mucinex bottles. I’m still coughing and stuffy, but now I’m finally able to stand without dizziness and I have enough energy to turn on the computer and push a few keyboard keys. How did I eat while I was sick?

Quite poorly, actually…

I usually stay away from juices because they have a lot of calories and don’t really fill me up. While I was sick however, I craved orange juice. It was one of the foods my mother gave me plenty of when I was sick because the vitamin C was thought to help with colds back in the Seventies. While I lay on the couch, unable to do anything more than read some comic books and gossip magazines, I drank almost a gallon of orange juice.

Probably not the healthiest choice available to me.

What should I have done? Shouldn’t I just stop trying to diet when I’m sick? No. Following my diet plan would have probably helped me get healthy quicker, but I abandoned it at the first moment of ailment. Why?


Comfort food has its name for a very important reason. It makes us feel a little better. Did the orange juice and the Tyson Chicken Cordon Blue Bites make my sinuses drain? No. Did the french fries and cheeseburger make my muscle aches go away? No. Did the macaroni and cheese ease my dizziness? No. How exactly did all that food make me feel better?

It didn’t. Comfort food makes my BRAIN feel better not my BODY.

So, how do I fix this? How do I make my brain feel better without abusing my body?

The New Comfort

There are several ways to comfort myself without stuffing my face. Firstly, is to nurture myself WITHOUT food. Here is a list of things that make me feel comforted.

  • A warm bed: A heated mattress pad or cuddly husband, either will do.
  • A SOFT blanket: Not the scratchy afghan I huddled under on the couch. I should have found a soft blanket that makes me feel hugged by a cloud.
  • Quiet music: Instead of watching endless episodes of South Park, I should have listened to some soothing music. It would have helped me sleep, which is what I needed more than anything.
  • Light reading: I got this one right. I curled up with a stack of comic books and gossip magazines. Not enough intellect to tax my mind, but just enough entertainment to distract me from the pain.
  • A purring kitty: Maggie, purring, warm and kneading on my shoulder was another comforting moment in my day.
  • A humidifier or vaporizer: The new vaporizers are a lot safer than they used to be when I was a kid, but the vapor in the air is different, somehow. I’d like to find an old Vicks vaporizer that risks burning me every time I fill it just to get that thick and watery humidity in my room.

Giving myself this sort of nurturing will help me need comfort food less. What do I do about those cravings for comfort food, when they do come?

The New Comfort FOOD

Macaroni and cheese, chicken soup and orange juice used to be the foods that I ate when I was sick. In fact, they were the staples of my diet this last time around. They don’t actually cure me, however, although there is a case for chicken soup. All they do is make me feel better emotionally.

The only way to solve the comfort food problem is to teach my body to crave new comfort foods.

Next time I’m sad, sick or upset, instead of turning to high fat, high carb and high salt foods, I need to turn to healthy foods. If every time I got sick, I ate apples, I would start to crave apples every time I got sick. Comfort food isn’t some magical combination of ingredients that makes me instantly calm. It’s the mere act of repetition that makes it comforting to me. I need to retrain my body to crave healthy food instead of what it currently craves.

I suspect this will take a while before the new cravings take hold and override the years of abuse I’ve done to myself. As soon as I’m able to make that leap, I’ll tell you about it.


How ‘Bout Stopping Eating When I’m Full Up?

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

A special thank you to Braidwood at Authentic Threads for reminding me of Alanis Morrisette’s song, Thank You.

In the first verse, she sings, “How ’bout stopping eating when I’m full up.” In fact, everything she says in the song is a healthy way of living, no matter who you are (unless those antibiotics are keeping you alive).

When that video came out, I remember thinking that Alanis was so brave for being willing to show herself to the world, nearly naked. She has said that she fought anorexia and bulimia when she was in her teens. She wrote the song, Perfect, to express how it felt to struggle with eating disorders.

She is a runner and completed the New York City Marathon last year in 4 hours, 28 minutes. She said running a marathon is, “An unbelievably harrowing and beautiful and moving and serene experience.”

Thank YOU, Alanis, for giving me another hero to remember when running and eating healthy gets difficult.


What If Coca-Cola Couldn’t Lie?

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

This hilarious commercial is from the movie The Invention of Lying. What if Coca-Cola couldn’t lie in their commercials. I suspect they would sound a lot like this:

The announcer says:

Hi, I’m Bob. I’m the spokesperson for the Coca-Cola company. I’m here today to ask you to continue buying Coke. I’m sure you’ve been drinking it for years and if you still enjoy it, then I’d like to remind you to buy it again sometime soon.

Basically, it’s just brown sugar water. We haven’t changed the ingredients lately, so there’s nothing new I can tell you about that. Uh, changed the can around a little bit, though. You can see that the colors are different there and we’ve added a polar bear so the kids’ll like us.

Coke’s very high in sugar and like any high calorie soda, it can lead to obesity in children and adults who don’t sustain a very healthy diet. And that’s it, it’s Coke. It’s very famous, everyone knows it. I’m Bob, I work for Coke and I’m asking you to not stop buying Coke.

If any soda was forced to advertise at this level of honesty, I don’t think anyone would drink it.

Video via: What If Advertisers Couldn’t Lie?


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.


TED Talk: How To Live To Be 100+

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

This is an excellent TED Talk from Dan Buettner about how to live longer. It’s a little long at nearly twenty minutes, but it will tell you a lot about living longer.

Myths About Longevity:

  • If you try really hard, you can live to be 100. This is false because we are not programmed for longevity. We are programmed for procreative success. You have to win the DNA lottery for longevity.
  • There are treatments that can slow aging. This is false. There are too many things that can go wrong.

The best science tells us that the capacity of the human body is about 90 years, but life expectancy is only 78. Somewhere through here, we are leaving 12 years on the table. The best way to getting these missing years is to look at the cultures where the life expectancy is longer.

After reviewing the “Blue Zones” for longevity, they created this advice:

  • Move Naturally: None of them exercise. They set up their lives so they are nudged toward activity. Less conveniences.
  • Right Outlook: Have a strong sense of purpose. You must have a reason to wake up every morning.
  • Right Outlook: Take time to mellow out with prayer or contemplation.
  • Eat Wisely: Plant based diet with lots of beans and nuts.
  • Eat Wisely: Moderate alcohol intake.
  • Eat Wisely: Eat small meals. Stop overeating by using smaller plates and eating until 80% full.
  • Connect: Loved ones first by taking care of your children and aging parents.
  • Connect: Belong to a faith-based community.
  • Connect: Surround yourself with people who are planning on living a long time as well.

Live To Be A 100

When it comes to longevity, there is no short term fix. Your friends can be the biggest factor to adding more years to your life and more life to your years.


PostSecret: Gastric Bypass Hypocrite

By Laura Moncur @ 7:18 am — Filed under:

This postcard from PostSecret made me really think.

PostSecret: Gastric Bypass Hypocrite

It reads:

Six months ago, I had gastric bypass, have lost 100 lbs. and have never felt better.

I am terrified that the conversations with my daughter about body image, self-confidence and loving who you are will make me a hypocrite.

I think gastric bypass is a bad idea. It’s dangerous (1 out of 200 die within 30 days of the surgery). I really don’t consider the risk of the surgery to be worth it.

Then again, we don’t know everything about the human body. It may be that in the future, we will know EXACTLY what causes obesity and one simple operation can be done to prevent or correct it. Will I think that surgery is a bad idea? No, I don’t think so. I think I’ll be all for it once we absolutely KNOW what causes obesity and how to fix it as long as the survival rates and post-surgery symptoms are better than they are now.

Is this woman a hypocrite? No. She did what she had to do to get to a healthy weight. I’m sick of all this moral judgment about gastric bypass surgery. She’s not a bad person for taking the “easy” way out, she was willing to take the risk of death and severe symptoms. I don’t find that risk acceptable, but everyone gets to make their own decision about it as long as they are FULLY informed about the potential complications.

For more info about the risks and symptoms:

PostSecret‘s beneficiary is the National Hopeline Network. It is a 24-hour hotline (1 (800) SUICIDE) for anyone who is thinking about suicide or knows someone who is considering it.


Dr. Regina Benjamin: Is She Too Fat To Be The Surgeon General?

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

Dr. Regina BenjaminRudd Sound Bites has a great article about Dr. Regina Benjamin and whether she is qualified to be the Surgeon General.

There has been a surge of discussion this week about Obama’s pick for Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin. The focus has not been on Dr. Benjamin’s many accomplishments or qualifications as a health care champion.

No, the focus has been on her body weight, and the criticism that somehow being overweight discounts and discredits all of her impressive qualities and accomplishments.

The truth of the matter is, she is MORE than qualified to handle the job of Surgeon General. When you look at her record, she is freakin’ amazing.

The first step toward getting our country healthy again is acceptance. Polarizing weight as a health issue isn’t the best direction for the United States.

The same people who are trying to make obesity a disease are now trying to discriminate against Dr. Benjamin because of her weight. Would it be fair to discredit other Surgeon General candidates because they had a different disease like diabetes? No, it wouldn’t. In fact, it would give them MORE credibility because they have dealt with keeping themselves healthy despite a disease.

They can’t have it both ways. If they want to call obesity a disease or label it as an epidemic, then they can’t discriminate against Dr. Benjamin.


Drink Enough Water

By Laura Moncur @ 4:07 pm — Filed under:

Drink Enough WaterNow that the summer months are in full swing, remember to gulp down enough water. In dry areas like Salt Lake City, it’s kind of difficult to forget that you need to keep hydrated. The blast of oven-like air smacking me in the face every time I leave the comfort of air-conditioned bliss reminds me vividly.

Weight Watchers suggest a total of six glass of liquid a day, whether it’s water or soda or even coffee. They used to say that only half of that allotment could be fulfilled with anything but water. Now, however, it can be anything.

For me, however, nothing quenches my thirst quite like water.

Moving all of my possessions in the middle of the blazing heat has reminded me that keeping hydrated is important. I’ve felt my fingers swell and my head ache with dehydration a couple of times over these past two weeks. It’s so easy to get caught up in the lifting and carrying that even a quick drink of water is forgotten.

Make sure you give yourself enough water this summer. Your body will be a smooth running engine if you do.

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