Sunday, January 03, 2010
*Another interesting article from my favorite newsletter.*
ScienceDaily (Dec. 28, 2009) — Research studies have suggested that the hormone ghrelin, which the body produces when it's hungry, might act on the brain to trigger overeating behavior.
New research in mice by UT Southwestern Medical Center scientists suggest that ghrelin might also work in the brain to make some people keep eating "pleasurable" foods when they're already full.
"What we show is that there may be situations where we are driven to seek out and eat very rewarding foods, even if we're full, for no other reason than our brain tells us to," said Dr. Jeffrey Zigman, assistant professor of internal medicine and psychiatry at UT Southwestern and co-senior author of the study appearing online and in a future edition of Biological Psychiatry.
Scientists previously have linked increased levels of ghrelin to intensifying the rewarding or pleasurable feelings one gets from cocaine or alcohol. Dr. Zigman said his team speculated that ghrelin might also increase specific rewarding aspects of eating. "They give us sensory pleasure, and they motivate us to work to obtain them," he said. "They also help us reorganize our memory so that we remember how to get them."
Dr. Mario Perello, postdoctoral researcher in internal medicine and lead author of the current study, said the idea was to determine why someone who is already stuffed from lunch still eats- and still wants to eat something very high in calories.
For this study, the researchers conducted two standard behavioral tests. In the first, they evaluated whether mice that were full preferred a room where they had previously found high-fat food over one that had only offered regular bland chow. They found that when mice in this situation were administered ghrelin, they strongly preferred the room that had been paired with the high-fat diet. Mice without ghrelin showed no preference.
"We think the ghrelin prompted the mice to pursue the high-fat chow because they remembered how much they enjoyed it," Dr. Perello said. "It didn't matter that the room was now empty; they still associated it with something pleasurable."
The researchers also found that blocking the action of ghrelin, which is normally secreted into the bloodstream upon fasting or caloric restriction, prevented the mice from spending as much time in the room they associated with the high-fat food.
For the second test, the team observed how long mice would continue to poke their noses into a hole in order to receive a pellet of high-fat food. The animals that received ghrelin kept eating much longer.
Humans and mice share the same type of brain-cell connections and hormones, as well as similar architectures in the so-called "pleasure centers" of the brain. In addition, the behavior of the mice in this study is consistent with pleasure-seeking behavior seen in other animal studies of addiction, Dr. Zigman said.
The next step, Dr. Perello said, is to determine which neural circuits in the brain regulate ghrelin's actions.
The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Foundation for Prader-Willi Research, and the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression.
Saturday, January 02, 2010
Guess what? The swine have finally left my lungs & I'm finally recovered enough to jog with doggie- much to her delight! My little dog LOVES cold weather. Sometimes the walking is sheer misery for me, especially on windy days like yesterday, when even a small lake like the one we walk around make the breezes blow so much stronger; but today I'm off to (I hope) buy some Under Armour. The official "race" season starts in February, and I'm not going to suffer wearing my summer tights anymore!
My travel season will be slower this year. I have dumped three major events this month already. January is ALWAYS a heavy month for green industry events, but this year and next, I have some hugely expensive goals to meet, and as any Arborist knows, $$$ doesn't grow on trees. Additionally, due to H1N1, I didn't take placement exams, or register for school in a timely manner, so I ended up with a LOUSY schedule that conflicts with every single industry event. I'm still anxious to hear from last semester's intructors about my final grades. Due to absences, I may be just shy of an A in one of those classes.
And how about fitness resolutions? This year I'm trying some new stuff. I came up with 6 things I have been contemplating for some time. Ready?
1. Jump Rope. Cheap, small, and effective. Already purchased. Got the Buddy Lee book for Christmas.
2. Hula Hoop. Like a jump rope, it's cheap, doesn't take up a lot of room in my house, and will get me moving (in ways I never have).
3. Stilts. Another odd, ancient device that meets my space-saving, affordable, fitness criteria.
4. Pogo Stick. Still small, but getting heavier, and fairly pricey. I'm not especially serious about following through on this one, as I'm having some doubts about whether it will be even slightly enjoyable to bounce HARD up and down. I might need an aluminum bra.
5. Unicycle. Although it is on the pricey side, I'm very excited about this one.
6. Kayak (or similar self-propelled small watercraft). I've wanted one for over 2 years, and dammit, this year it's gonna happen.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Many people believe that they should buy themselves some small token, or pamper themselves in some way, as a reward for achieving weight loss milestones. It's a very common topic on the message boards.
I have NEVER been able to wrap my brain around the concept.
For ME, weight loss IS the reward. Better health and fitness beat ANYTHING I could ever buy for myself.
New clothes, salon visits, DVDs, and recreational activites are things I do routinely anyway; they have no connection to whether or not I lose weight or meet any fitness goals. If I lose weight (or gain, for that matter) I'll need new clothes ANYWAY. Scented candles... I've got plenty and they mostly get used during a power outage. I color my hair and get a pedicure every month; it's called 'maintenance'. And bubblebath- well, I'm not nuts about bubbles. But once again, bathing is pretty routine.
Rewards are what we get in exchange for, or as a result of, some type of effort or work. For example, a reward for the effort of getting out of bed and going to work every day is a PAYCHECK. Going to the salon or buying myself a gift isn't in the same category. It's simply bartering one thing (goods or services) in exchange for another (PAYMENT).
My thoughts are, I can buy whatever I want anytime, but I can't buy fitness and health, and I can't get weight loss ANY OTHER WAY but as a direct reward for my efforts.
And that's my $.02.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Many of you know my love of scientific research. Today I read this fascinating article and thought it interesting enough to share.
ScienceDaily (Dec. 21, 2009) — A body that is provided with food too often gets caught up in the maelstrom of a lack of exercise, obesity and ultimately diabetes. The trigger is a molecular switch that is controlled by insulin, a new study by scientists from ETH Zurich has revealed.
Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. And nothing in between: no snacks, no sweets, not even anything we think of as healthy. For in order to stay healthy the body needs to fast between meals. At least this is what nutritionists would recommend were they to translate the results of a new study from ETH Zurich into practical terms. After all, the research group headed by Markus Stoffel, a professor from the Institute of Molecular Systems Biology at ETH Zurich, has discovered an important molecular mechanism that underlies a lack of exercise and therefore obesity.
The researchers present their findings in the current issue of the journal Nature.
The key switch player in this is a transcription factor called Foxa2. Transcription factors are proteins that make sure other genes are activated and converted into proteins. Foxa2 is found in the liver, where it influences fatburning, but also in two important neuron populations in the hypothalamus -- the region of the brain that controls the daily rhythm, sleep, intake of food and sexual behavior. The control element for Foxa2 activity is insulin, in both the liver and the hypothalamus.
If a person or animal ingests food, the beta cells in the pancreas release insulin, which blocks Foxa2. When fasting, there is a lack of insulin and Foxa2 is active. In the brain, the scientists have discovered, Foxa2 assists the formation of two proteins: MCH and orexin. These two brain messenger substances trigger different behavior patterns: the intake of food and spontaneous movement. If mammals are hungry, they are more alert and physically active. In short, they hunt and look for food. "If you watch a cat or a dog before feeding it, you can see this very clearly," says Stoffel.
The researchers discovered a disorder in obese mice: in these animals, Foxa2 is permanently active, regardless of whether the animals are fasting or full. This explains a well-known but until now unaccountable phenomenon: the lack of movement in obese people and animals.
To prove this, the researchers used a genetic trick to breed mice, in the brains of which Foxa2 is always active, regardless of whether they have just eaten or are fasting. These mice produce more MCH and orexin and move five times more than normal animals, in which insulin deactivates Foxa2 after eating or which are obese. The genetically modified mice lose fatty tissue and form larger muscles. Their sugar and fat metabolism works flat out and their blood values are considerably improved.
For Stoffel, the study clearly shows that, "The body needs fasting periods to stay healthy." Moreover, you should make sure you have a good body weight. He therefore doesn't think much of eating many little meals spread out over the day; it is better to eat less frequently but well, and leave room in between to get hungry. After all, because insulin is released during every meal, thus suppressing Foxa2, the motivation to do physical exercise and burn sugar and fat visibly decreases.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Even at 330 lbs, I walked. Walking is the simplest and most basic form exercise, and in my view, it is what always comes first in an exercise program. If you CAN walk, you MUST walk. Meaning if the only reason you're not walking 60 minutes a day now is because you're out of shape, then you shall remain out of shape until you make a decision to change it. Sure, I had problems. Absolutely. But- the problem was actually just my weight, nothing more, and I knew I had to get moving to change that.
The walking route that I chose way back at the beginning of my weight loss journey is the same route that I am still walking today. The difference is, now I no longer struggle, huffing and puffing the entire way. Now, I can walk my route twice a day. And now, I even jog a little along the way. Yes, ME.
Think about this: what exercise would YOU recommend for a morbidly obese person, such as myself at 330 lbs, if that person were to ask for your advice? Walking! Of course! Almost anybody can do it. It doesn't matter HOW heavy you are. Talk to your doctor, and get started.
Now I want to make a very specific recommendation to you. Ready?
Walk outside. (If you don't have access to a treadmill, you can skip over this part.) Many people find walking on a treadmill boring and tedious. Three minutes feels like 10, and when you look at the timer, you feel so disappointed in yourself. If the treadmill is killing your enthusiasm, get outside. Wear a watch or carry a cell phone so you can time yourself. Walk 15 minutes in one direction, then turn around and walk back. You have just walked 30 minutes! If you're over 300 lbs and have trouble walking, start smaller, like 5 or 10 minutes. Choose a nice route, and change it when you want to look at different scenery. Do this every day, even in the winter, as long as there is no ice you could slip on. Speed is not the objective here, it is time spent on exercise.
Find what you can do, and DO it. Take control of your health RIGHT NOW. Begin immediately, don't wait for tomorrow, next week, or January 1st. Start this VERY SECOND. Think about how good it will feel to WALK with your kids trick or treating, or on a brisk Thanksgiving morning, or on a quiet, cold, New Years Day, when there is not a soul in sight, just you, breathing steam into the air. THINK about how much different your life will be, once you DECIDE to make it that way.
I never believed I could ever regain my health when I gained weight. I was in total despair. I knew I was heading straight into my own grave, and decided that I had to try to change EVERYTHING about my life. And you know what? YOU can do it exactly the same as me. Don't feel bad about yourself looking at the progress of other people- be inspired.
Walking a mile was pretty terrible when I was 330 lbs, but I did it anyway. Now I can do it faster. That is a great feeling. ALL this is possible for you.
Best wishes on your journey!
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