Friday, July 25, 2008
Stephen Colbert confronted Cookie Monster on "The Colbert Report" last month--he hilariously accuses Cookie Monster of being unpatriotic for not incessantly binging on cookies.
"I will not eat fruit unless it's in Loop or Pebbles form," says Colbert. lol :)
"Me have crazy times in 70s and 80s. Me like the Robert Downey Jr. of cookies," says Cookie Monster.
The news peg was a story that fruit has surpassed cookies as kids' No. 1 snack. (Yay!)
The video is hilarious--but it raises a big question: When did Cookie Monster change his M.O.? I don't have kids, so I haven't watched "Sesame Street" since I baby-sat in high school.
I'm happy "Sesame Street" is promoting cookies as a "sometimes food," but I'm wondering what else has changed? Are Bert and Ernie still living together? Is Snuffy still Big Bird's "imaginary" friend? And what about Oscar? Is he still a Grouch? Find the video clip below:
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Two weekends ago, Bri, Fred and I hit the bike trail for my first trail ride.
I started out a bit apprehensive. There were so many bikers around me, and I frequently braked and pulled off the trail. I got nervous when bikers passed me or approached me from the other direction. What if I hit one? And passing walkers and runners? Forget about it! The first time I tried, I suddenly slammed on my brakes and almost wrecked. (No one was hurt.)
After a few miles, I started to feel better. My rear went numb a few times, my stomach filled with butterflies when other bikers passed, and my starts at stop signs were less than graceful. I'm no biking phenom.
We rode 10 miles to a little town (Loveland, how cute is that?!) and stopped for lunch.
"How do you feel?" they asked.
"Fabulous," I replied, full of energy and enthusiasm.
After a healthy but filling lunch (a veggie pita wrap) and a brief break to allow our food to digest, we walked back to where we'd stashed our bikes. We rode another 5 1/2 miles north before heading back home.
I felt better, stronger, more accomplished with every mile. I watched each half-mile tick by, and after 15 miles or so, I felt completely comfortable.
I had to stop every few miles to allow my rear end to regain feeling (I smartened up and now have a gel seat cover) and my wrists to take a break (ditto on biking gloves).
The ride back was better than I imagined, but I did have a bit of a whiny phase. I sang ridiculous songs to myself when I started to get tired (Alouette was a favorite that day) and made myself divide the return trip in half-mile increments. My boyfriend had told me that the "finish line" (our car) was at mile 50. We'd gone all the way to 34.5, so already I was looking at a 31-mile round trip.
The final stretch arrived, and at mile 44, I was so excited to be done. 44.5 came and went, then 50, with no sign of the parking lot. I was ready to cry, but I knew I had it in me to finish. (By then I wasn't tired so much as I was sweaty, plastered in bugs, and thirsty.)
Just past mile 51, our car awaited us, along with Bri, who'd kept a brisker pace.
I got off my bike and struggled to keep back tears. I was happy, healthy, and accomplished.
Less than two months ago, I couldn't ride a bike, and that day I rode 32 miles.
This weekend, I'm making my first solo trail ride, with the ultimate goal of training for a 67-mile one-way birthday trip with my boyfriend and some friends in a few weeks. Wish me luck!
I'm a biker!!
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
My friend Bri is an inspiration to me. She ran her first marathon two years ago with Team in Training, which benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She's since run three half-marathons and other road races, and last week she did her first duathlon, in Nashville. She rides her bike to work most days, and she's going to hike the Inca Trail in October.
Bri is one of the two friends who volunteered to help me learn to ride a bike. She loaned me her mountain bike that first day, and she's supported my bike riding ever since.
Two nights ago, she suggested we grab dinner... after a bike ride. I agreed, but I was nervous. I could barely turn without getting nervous, and I'd never crossed a street!
But these days, I'm not one to back down from a challenge. New helmet and bike basket in place, I set off with Bri leading the way. I was a bit nervous, I had to stop frequently and I made a fool of myself a couple of times, but I made it to the restaurant and back. I felt wonderful. My body is a bit sore after riding four miles up and down hills, but I feel happy and accomplished.
In two weeks, Bri, my boyrfriend and I are going to a bike trail for a 20-mile flat ride and canoe trip. I'm a real biker now! Wish me luck!
Monday, June 23, 2008
Ever wonder why some people live longer?
So did researcher Dan Buettner, whose recent book is "The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest." With help from National Geographic and the National Institute on Aging, Buettner found four areas of the world where people reach age 100 at higher-than-normal rates and live longer.
We can stop blaming our family for our life span. As it turns out, life expectancy is only 6 percent based on gene and 94 percent based on environment.
So where are these places that are seemingly equipped with Fountains of Youth?
They're in Southern Okinawa in Japan, the mountain highlands of Sardinia off the Italian coast, the Nicoya peninsula of Costa Rica and Loma Linda, Calif., (specifically the Seventh-Day Adventists who live there, not the general population). [Seventh-Day Adventists adhere to a vegetarian diet rich in whole grains and nuts, and they abstain from alcohol and smoking.]
Buettner says food is about 25-30 percent of the reason why these people are living longer.
Most of them eat a plant-based diet with minimal processed foods and plenty of built-in cultural mores to keep from eating too much.
The Japanese, for example, follow a principle called "hari hachi bu," which means eat until you're 80 percent full. (Because by the time your brain catches up with your stomach, you will be full.)
Here are more tips, from people who live the longest:
- They eat off smaller plates.
- They never have a TV in the kitchen, and families eat together.
- Good food is on display and easy to eat.
- They have very active lifestyles, with plenty of walking and gardening.
While you can't pick up and move to rural Central America, there are some things we can all do to help extend our lives (and maybe even shrink our waistlines).
Eat from a smaller plate or bowl.
A standard 3-ounce serving of protein (the size of a deck of cards) is dwarfed by our 12-inch plates. A half-cup of pasta (the size of a billiard ball) barely covers the bottom of our oversized "pasta" bowls. Use a small bowl (or even a coffee mug!) and a salad plate for your meals, and you won't feel deprived. (Do this even if you're eating takeout. It's much easier to portion control when you're not eating out of a box or a styrofoam tray.)
Eat less meat.
You don't have to swear off meat completely. Just forgo the beef, chicken or pork one or two nights a week. You'll save money and likely consume less fat and cholesterol. (See my previous blog post www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_pu
for more tips on eating less meat.)
Keep healthy food around and ready to eat.
Wash and chop up veggies, display fruit on the counter in a bowl, and cook healthy whole grains in batches so they're ready to eat. Keep dips and salsas on hand for guilt-free dipping. Veggies and low-fat dip or hummus are suddenly more appealing when you can just grab them and go.
Clear off the table.
If your house is like mine, the dining room table becomes a resting place for everything from mail to computers. Clear it off, step away from the TV and eat dinner at the table. When I lived alone in Korea, I found it rather depressing to eat by myself, until I switched off the TV and actually sat at my dining room table. From then on, I'd get out a real plate and chopsticks no matter what I was eating, and I'd spend 20 minutes really savoring my food. I enjoyed my food more, and I stopped overeating.
Eat whole food.
Sure, processed foods are tasty and easy to prepare, but think about what you're eating. A good rule of thumb: The closer a food is to its original state, the better it will be for you. You can make pasta with a fresh tomato sauce in the time it takes to make a box of macaroni and cheese, but you'll feel much better after you eat it.
With a few small changes, we can all add years to our lives. Sounds like a great idea to me!
Monday, June 16, 2008
Last year, I read the book "Japanese Women Don't Get Old or Fat," which touted how healthy the Japanese diet and lifestyle is. Compared with 34 percent of American women, just 3 percent of Japanese women had a body mass index of 30 or higher in 2005. (A BMI of 30 is the bottom of the "obesity" category.)
The Japanese, with a diet rich in vegetables, seafood and rice, are infinitely healthier... and their government wants to keep them that way.
"Under a national law that came into effect two months ago, companies and local governments must now measure the waistlines of Japanese people between the ages of 40 and 74 as part of their annual checkups. That represents more than 56 million waistlines, or about 44 percent of the entire population." Read more at NYT.com . (The waist limit is 33.5 for males and 35.4 inches for women, thresholds established in 2005 for Japan by the International Diabetes Federation.)
It's an interesting tactic for getting people to slim down, and Japan provides socialized medicine for its citizens, so I understand why the government cares so much. (And no one will be fined, jailed or punished in any other way. Those whose waists exceed the limits will receive "dieting guidance.")
What do you think? Do you think that a government should intervene in health matters? Is health a personal matter?
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