Sunday, July 27, 2014

Fitness Ain’t For Everybody!

Many of you might not be happy with your current fitness level and be toying with the idea of changing your lifestyle.  You may be contemplating incorporating more exercise and a better diet into your day-to-day routine.  But be warned:  Fitness Ain’t For Everybody!

A quick Google search of “benefits of fitness” will yield thousands upon thousands of websites telling you about all the great changes fitness can bring to your life.  But what about the disadvantages?  Nobody seems to walk to talk about those.  So, for those of you on the fence about your health and lifestyle, here is a list of all the harmful side-effects of fitness.

1. You will have more energy!  C’mon, who needs that, right?  Why I bet you love the idea of laying around in bed all day.  Bed is awesome.  Why would you want to reduce the number of hours you spend laying in it?

2. Junk food will taste like junk!  You’ve gotten used to shoveling all that garbage down your throat and you like sodium and sugar.  Eating healthier will change your taste-buds!  You’ll start to enjoy eating real food and all that processed garbage will start to taste like garbage.  The idea of a Mickie D’s burger made from … well, whatever it’s made from … will make you sick!  A life without chicken nuggets may not be for everybody.

3. You’ll become more attractive to the opposite sex!  At first, this sounds great, right?  But think about it – that means you’ll get more attention, have to return more phone calls, get dressed for dates and go out when there’s really great stuff on TV tonight.  Who wants all that drama?  Flirting can be exhausting.

4. Your self-confidence will soar!  For some of us, getting rid of our daily pity party is just too much to ask for.  Once you set and start reaching goals physically, you’ll start doing likewise in other aspects of your life.  You’ll completely forget how to just quit.  And if you don’t quit, then you won’t be able to crawl in bed and pout (see item 1).

5. You’ll lose ‘Me-Time!’  You know those hours you spend after you crawl into bed with your mind racing?  They’ll be gone … forever.  Instead, you’ll crawl into bed and actually fall asleep!  No more restless nights, tossing and turning unable to shut your brain down.

6. You’ll waste money on water!  Not only will you be drinking more of it, but you might actually have to take more than one shower a day.  After all that exercise, you’ll be covered in sweat and have to wash it off.  What?  That means your water bill could double?  Nobody talks about that expense when heaping praise on exercise.

So, you’re gonna have to ask yourself, “is a fit lifestyle for me?”  If you just wanna be an ol’ fat hippo, then maybe not!  Living a fit lifestyle requires the power of a ‘potamus … there’s a difference.  So which are you gonna be?


July 27 2014
Weight:  185.1lbs
BMI:  26.8
Body Fat:  25.0%

*  How accurate are these numbers?  Huh ... I don't really know.  But I am using the Weight Watchers by Conair Scales Glass Body Analysis Scale Model WW52 to measure my stats.  I am less concerned with the accuracy of the numbers themselves and more concerned with the change I hope to see in the future.  For consistency's sake, these stats will always come from the same source and appear with my bi-weekly posts. 

Most Recent 5K
JLGC Flashback 5K
League City TX
Official Time:  39:06.5
Improvement:  1:02.5

Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Super Food: Peanut Butter

One of the unusual and unexpected benefits of having children is that they re-introduce peanut butter into your diet!  Kids love a PB&J and parents love a quick and easy lunch.  Now, I don’t recommend having children as a step in improving your health, but I do recommend getting peanut butter off the kid’s menu and re-establishing your relationship with it.  There are plenty of benefits to unleashing the kid in you and getting nut butters back into your diet.

Here’s a list of reasons to be thankful for George Washington Carver:


Two tablespoons of peanut butter pack in an average of seven to eight grams of protein. As a protein-rich food, when you eat peanut butter you feel fuller for longer.  Additionally the protein is also good for building and repairing muscles, which is especially important if you work out a lot.  Adding peanut butter to your protein shake is a great (and great tasting!) way to jack up your protein count!

It’s Got the Good Fat

Peanut butter is chock-full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. A recent study found that insulin-resistant adults who ate a diet high in monos had less belly fat than people who ate more carbohydrates or saturated fat.  Peanut butter contains more unsaturated fat than saturated fat. This means, it is actually a great source of “healthy fats.” A healthy body needs a good supply of healthy fats and like olive oil and avocado, peanut butter is a friendly fat food.

But remember … if you're buying reduced-fat peanut butter because you think it's better for your waistline, save your money. The calories are the same (or even a little higher) thanks to the extra ingredients that are added to make up for the missing fat (including more sugar).  Look for natural or organic peanut butter. Many non-organic varieties contain hydrogenated oils (a source of dangerous trans fats) to keep the product from separating.

Put peanut butter’s good fats to use by eating it with protein before bed to further slow digestion and keep muscle breakdown at bay.

Fiber Rich

Your two tablespoon serving of peanut butter not only packs in lots of protein but also gives you two grams of fiber.  Adequate consumption of fiber is important for the healthy functioning of your body and of course you can get more fiber from other meals but peanut butter can help supplement this.

More Nutrition

just don't get your head stuck in the jar!
A serving of peanut butter has 3 mg of the powerful antioxidant vitamin E, 49 mg of bone-building magnesium, 208 mg of muscle-friendly potassium, and 0.17 mg of immunity-boosting vitamin B6. Research shows that eating peanuts can decrease your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions. One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that consuming one ounce of nuts or peanut butter  at least five days a week can lower the risk of developing diabetes by almost 30%.

Energy Boost

As already discussed, peanut butter contains good amounts of healthy fats and protein. This means it contains plenty of calories that will give you lots of energy for your activities. Again, perfect for a morning meal as it gives you an energy hit for the day.

Not All Peanut Butters Are Made Alike

But please, shop with care. Don’t just go by the percentage of fat. This will be fairly similar across most brands and is not the best indication of whether a peanut butter is good for you.  All natural peanut butter is a good choice if you want to minimize your intake of unhealthy fats. Natural nut butters usually have peanuts as their main ingredient while others (non-natural) can sometimes contain other artificial ingredients to enhance the taste.

The sugar content on the peanut butter should be a decisive factor. Commercial peanut butter brands can sometimes have up to 250 mg (per tablespoon) more sugar than natural brands.  Look out for the sodium content on the ingredients list at the back of your jar of peanut butter. Again, natural brands usually have less sodium. Too much sodium can also mask the nutty flavor.

Natural peanut butters are a better option, however if you’re unable to find a natural option or find the organic nut butters too expensive, don’t stress. If you’re eating only 2 tablespoons of peanut butter a day, a commercial brand peanut butter with slightly more salt and sugar isn’t going to be the end of the world.

King's Super Sammich

Inspired by a recipe from Whole Foods, this new take on a breakfast sandwich includes the fresh crunch and fibrous nutrition of an apple, healthy fats from peanut butter and whole grains from granola.


1 apple, cored
2 tbsp. peanut butter
½ c. low-fat granola


Core apple. Slice apple horizontally into several slices to make sandwich "bread." Spread two apple slices with 1 tbsp. peanut butter each and sprinkle with granola. Top peanut butter and granola-topped apple slice with another apple slice.


June 22 2014
Weight:  185.1lbs
BMI:  26.8
Body Fat:  25.0%

*  How accurate are these numbers?  Huh ... I don't really know.  But I am using the Weight Watchers by Conair Scales Glass Body Analysis Scale Model WW52 to measure my stats.  I am less concerned with the accuracy of the numbers themselves and more concerned with the change I hope to see in the future.  For consistency's sake, these stats will always come from the same source and appear with my bi-weekly posts. 

Most Recent 5K
JLGC Flashback 5K
League City TX
Official Time:  39:06.5
Improvement:  1:02.5

Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Destroy All Doubts, Part One

I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.' -- Muhammad Ali

Five minutes into my kettlebell workout last night that common negative thought entered my mind: “Ah, why don’t you just quit?  You can workout tomorrow.”  In fact, I am completely convinced that part of undertaking a fitness regimen is to train not only your body, but your mind.  Staying motivated sometimes feels more difficult than sixty minutes of high intensity cardio. It’s so easy to procrastinate and put it off “until tomorrow.” However, waiting to feel motivated to exercise can actually backfire. Motivation is something you have to work at every day.

Here at 'Potamus Power, we want you to feel motivated and healthy.  So … how do we combat those negative motivation killers?  Here’s wave one of the 'Potamus Power Motivation Plan:

Mix It Up!

It is so easy to get bored if you are doing the same thing day after day.  Your intensity level will eventually start to decrease because you’ve done it all before.  Instead of improving on your results, you eventually begin to feel stagnant and as if you are just going through the motions.  Two things result from this: 1) you don’t see any improvement and 2) you feel less motivated because you’re bored and … because number 1 has got you feeling down.

When you ask your body to consistently do more, it physiologically adapts to the increased demand. So mix it up!  I workout five-six times a week and I try not to repeat anything from day to day.  I work in DDP Yoga, weights & kettlebell training, bicycle riding, jogging, swimming, playing softball and a number of different things over the course of a week.  This keeps me engaged and also continues to ‘shock’ the body into results.  I also make sure to include a recovery day each week ... sometimes the best exercise you can do is to not over-exercise.

Write It Down!

You have goals (weight loss, increase strength, etc.) so write those suckers down!  Also write down WHY you workout (feel better, look better, run a marathon) and keep this information readily available to gently remind yourself to focus.  Keep a fitness journal (or use one of the many apps available on your phone) to track your progress.

Start with small goals - It's easier to stick with exercise when your goal is to walk an extra 10 minutes each day or get up early for a short yoga workout.
Plan ahead - Plan your workouts and prepare for them ahead of time so you're not tempted to skip them.
Make exercise a priority - Is exercise really important to you or do you just want it to be? Figuring out what you really want can help you set your priorities.
Forget weight loss - It may be easier to commit to exercise if you're not worried about getting results.

Crank it Up!

"Music has always been a matter of Energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel. I have always needed Fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio." -- Hunter S. Thompson

‘Nuff said!


June 10 2014
Weight:  186.2 lbs
BMI:  26.7
Body Fat:  25.0%

*  How accurate are these numbers?  Huh ... I don't really know.  But I am using the Weight Watchers by Conair Scales Glass Body Analysis Scale Model WW52 to measure my stats.  I am less concerned with the accuracy of the numbers themselves and more concerned with the change I hope to see in the future.  For consistency's sake, these stats will always come from the same source and appear with my bi-weekly posts. 

Most Recent 5K
JLGC Flashback 5K
League City TX
Official Time:  39:06.5
Improvement:  1:02.5

Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Fed Up - A Review & Reaction

I took the opportunity to head into downtown Houston yesterday to catch the early matinee of the new advocacy documentary Fed Up and walked out of the theater feeling … well … fed up!

Directed by Stephanie Soechtig and narrated by Katie Couric, the film feels like an overlong TV news special ... but as a news special, the film is remarkable and frustrating.  There were only two other people in the theater with me (a middle-aged "peace love and understanding hippie" and her daughter), so I don't have a great deal of confidence that this film will have that strong of a reach until Netflix picks it up on plays it on our TVs.  And that's a shame ... because you need to see this film NOW!

The film rightfully names the US government and food corporations responsible for a campaign to get Americans addicted to junk food -- particularly, and most dangerously, sugar -- as early as possible.  Bouncing back and forth between profiles of overweight teens and talking heads with graphics and statistics galore, the film exposes as outrage that should be addressed.  Just as the public consciousness turned against cigarettes and “big tobacco,” it is past time that we turn against added sugar and “big food.”

One of the many, many sobering statistics in Stephanie Soechtig’s documentary is that the current generation of American children is expected to have a shorter lifespan than their parents. The reason is an explosion of disease and malnutrition brought on by childhood obesity in the last 30 years and the fact that Type 2 diabetes (which was once referred to as “adult onset diabetes”) has become a childhood disease.  The first of many shocking statistics is this:  in 1980 there were zero cases of Type 2 diabetes among American adolescents – in 2010 that number is well over 50,000!

And the sugar lobby has a stranglehold on the political process in America to make sure it stays that way, and that Americans don’t find out how much sugar they’re really ingesting. Here’s an experiment — right now, go to your kitchen cupboard, pull out an item and read the “Nutrition Facts” label. Notice how most ingredients include both the amount AND the percentage value for a 2,ooo-calorie diet? Notice how sugar is almost the only one that DOESN’T include a percentage? That’s not by accident.

In this age of fitness revolution (with blogs such as Potamus Power, exercise programs galore, health club membership having doubled from where it was twenty years ago and an abundance of “low fat” and “fat free” products on our shelves), why do we find ourselves continually in an obesity epidemic, especially among our children?  Fed Up shines a light on what may very well be the main culprit:  What if everything we’ve been told about food and exercise for the past 30 years is dead wrong?

The film does a great job putting to rest the myth that a calorie is a calorie, that if we burn more calories than we digest, we should lose weight.  Much of the fitness industry is based on this notion and the film plainly explains the untruth.  Let’s face it, a handful of almonds have the same calorie count as a can of soda … which do you think is better for you?  At one point in the film a well-intentioned mother tells us that her son loves Hot Pockets, so she gets Lean Hot Pockets. I laughed out loud when I heard this … and then recoiled in terror as I realized that she was being serious.  The advertising campaigns for these “healthier” versions of pre-packaged, processed garbage had done their trick … and a parent doing what she thinks is best for her child is making his condition worse.

For me, the most disturbing message in the film is what is going on in our schools.  School lunch programs that are contracted with Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Burger King and others are feeding our children in cafeterias that don’t even have cooking equipment anymore!  80% of schools in America have a contract with either Coca-Cola or Pepsi?  Outrageous!  School lunch guidelines that indicate that french fries and pizza are classified as vegetables … with ketchup tossed in, one could have TWO servings of vegetables by eating an order of fries with ketchup?  Outrageous!  At one point, one of the kids explains that his only lunch options that day were a hamburger or a sloppy joe? Disturbing! A lunch lady telling us that they offered a “healthy option” and that, out of 300+ students, less than twenty-five selected it that day. Heartbreaking!

I strongly encourage you to catch this film if you can … but more importantly, to do something about the issue it raises.  Join me in taking the Fed Up Challenge and in reaching out to our schools to get the fast food / junk food industry OUT OF THERE!

Find out more at:

May 17 2014
Weight:  186.5 lbs
BMI:  26.9
Body Fat:  25.1%

*  How accurate are these numbers?  Huh ... I don't really know.  But I am using the Weight Watchers by Conair Scales Glass Body Analysis Scale Model WW52 to measure my stats.  I am less concerned with the accuracy of the numbers themselves and more concerned with the change I hope to see in the future.  For consistency's sake, these stats will always come from the same source and appear with my bi-weekly posts. 

Most Recent 5K
JLGC Flashback 5K
League City TX
Official Time:  39:06.5
Improvement:  1:02.5

Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Super Food: Quinoa

Our series on so-called “super foods” continues today with what may very well be the most "super" of them all ... quinoa.

Pronounced KEEN-wah (not kwin-OH-a ... as I still often do), Quinoa originated in the Andean region of Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru, where it was a staple in the diet of the Incan Empire.  In fact, the Incas considered quinoa the "mother of all grains" and was so revered that the Emperor himself would traditionally sow the first seeds of the season.  Did the Incas know something that we are only now starting to learn?

Perhaps.  "While no single food can supply all the essential life sustaining nutrients, quinoa comes as close as any other in the plant or animal kingdom."  That was the pronouncement of researcher Philip White, in an obscure 1955 article on "Edible Seed Products of the Andes Mountains." Perhaps not an exciting or well-remembered read, but we were aware of this "pseudo-cereal" long before the recent "super food" craze.  How serious has this craze become?  Well, 2013 was deemed the "International Year of Quinoa" by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Here are seven health benefits of quinoa:

1. Quinoa is one of the most protein-rich foods we can eat. It is a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids.

2. Quinoa contains almost twice as much fiber as most other grains. Fiber is most widely known to relieve constipation. It also helps to prevent heart disease by reducing high blood pressure and diabetes. Fiber lowers cholesterol and glucose levels, may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids and may help you to lose weight as it takes a longer time to chew than does other foods because it makes you feel fuller for longer and is less “energy dense” which means it has fewer calories for the same volume of food.

3. Quinoa contains Iron. Iron helps keep our red blood cells healthy and is the basis of hemoglobin formation. Iron carries oxygen from one cell to another and supplies oxygen to our muscles to aid in their contraction. Iron also increases brain function because the brain takes in about 20% of our blood oxygen. There are many benefits of iron some more of which include neurotransmitter synthesis, regulation of body temperature, aids enzyme activity and energy metabolism.

4. Quinoa contains lysine. Lysine is mainly essential for tissue growth and repair.

5. Quinoa is rich in magnesium. Magnesium helps to relax blood vessels and thereby to alleviate migraines. Magnesium also may reduce Type 2 diabetes by promoting healthy blood sugar control. Other health benefits of magnesium include transmission of nerve impulses, body temperature regulation, detoxification, energy production, and the formation of healthy bones and teeth.

6. Quinoa is high in Riboflavin (B2). B2 improves energy metabolism within brain and muscle cells and is known to help create proper energy production in cells.

7. Quinoa has a high content of manganese. Manganese is an antioxidant, which helps to prevent damage of mitochondria during energy production as well as to protect red blood cells and other cells from injury by free radicals.

That's a pretty good list of benefits.  On top of that, it's pretty darn tasty too! I frequently eat quinoa as a hot cereal (you can buy organic quinoa flakes in most organic food stores that prepare just like oatmeal) but it is versatile enough to use in a number of recipes.  Here's one of my favorites:

King's Greek Quinoa Salad


* 2 cups uncooked quinoa 
* 3 cups chicken broth (fat-free, less-sodium is cool)
* 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil
* 1 teaspoon minced fresh mint 
* 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
* 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (you got that lemon handy, so why not?)
* 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar 
* dash of sea salt 
* 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered 
* 1 cup  thinly sliced radicchio or red cabbage
* 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
* 1/2 cup cucumber 
* 3 tablespoons chopped pitted kalamata olives 
* 1 tablespoon minced shallots


1. Place quinoa in a large bowl; cover with water. Let stand 5 minutes; rinse well, and drain.

2. Bring broth to a boil in a large saucepan; stir in quinoa. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Uncover; fluff with a fork. Cool to room temperature.

3. Combine olive oil and next 5 ingredients (through sea salt) in a large bowl. Add cooled quinoa, tomatoes, and the remaining ingredients; toss well.

Serve room temp or cooled (I like to stick it in the fridge for a bit).


May 2 2014
Weight:  188.5 lbs
BMI:  27.2
Body Fat:  25.6%

*  How accurate are these numbers?  Huh ... I don't really know.  But I am using the Weight Watchers by Conair Scales Glass Body Analysis Scale Model WW52 to measure my stats.  I am less concerned with the accuracy of the numbers themselves and more concerned with the change I hope to see in the future.  For consistency's sake, these stats will always come from the same source and appear with my bi-weekly posts. 

Most Recent 5K
JLGC Flashback 5K
League City TX
Official Time:  39:06.5
Improvement:  1:02.5

Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Food Pyramid or Pyramid Scheme?

Just imagine, if you will, that you are in the market for a new car.  You're looking for something reliable and safe that will provide you with excellent gas mileage.  But, being a newbie car-shopper, you need some assistance in making your decision.  Who should you turn to?

If you said, “Well obviously I would ask an executive at General Motors,” then you are painfully stupid.  Obviously there's a conflict of interest there.  Do you think that a GM exec is going to recommend you buy a Nissan Sentra? But don't feel bad … when it comes to nutrition our country has been just as painfully stupid for over a century.

We've turned to the USDA … a government entity in charge of both promoting and policing the food industry.  The information they've churned out for decade after decade, known to most of us as the USDA Food Pyramid, has been … well, let's just say flawed.

The USDA Food Pyramid has its origins in the practice of agricultural chemistry in the late 1800s. Wilbur Olin Atwater, Ph.D., an agricultural chemist who founded and directed the Office of Experiment Stations (OES) for the USDA, wrote the first dietary guideline.

Atwater was a researcher, and received government funds to build a large respiration calorimeter for studying human metabolism. In 1902, Mr. Atwater published a USDA Farmer’s Bulletin which emphasized the importance of variety, proportionality, and moderation in healthful eating in the diets of American males. In his research, he determined that the calorie was a means to measure the efficiency of a diet. He calculated that different types of food produced different amounts of energy, and he stressed the importance of a cheap and efficient diet that included more proteins, beans, and vegetables, and to limit the intake of fat, sugar and other starchy carbohydrates.

Seems like we were off to a good start!

Before vitamins and minerals were even discovered, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published its first dietary recommendations to the nation in 1894. Soon after that, in 1916, the first food guide, called Food For Young Children was published. Caroline Hunt, a nutritionist and the author, divided food into five groups: milk/meat, cereals, vegetables/fruits, fats/fatty foods, and sugars/sugary foods.  It ignored Dr. Atwater’s advice to limit fat and sugar intake, and instead emphasized the newly discovered vitamins and minerals.

Prompted by President Franklin Roosevelt, a National Nutrition Conference was called to action in 1941. For the first time, the USDA came up with Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Americans to follow. RDAs specified caloric intake as well as essential nutrients. Also, the USDA announced the Basic Seven in 1943, which was a special modification of the nutritional guidelines to help people deal with the shortage of food supplies during the war.

My personal favorite piece of nutritional advice comes from the Basic Seven:  “Eat any other foods you want!

During this time, many other guides were issued with contradictory advice. In 1956, because of the confusion, the multiple food group recommendations were revised to the Basic Four recommendation. Serving size recommendations were also added and the revisions were published in a booklet titled Essentials of an Adequate Diet .. Facts for Nutrition Programs.

The four food groups in this document included: Milk, Meat, Fruits & Vegetables and Grain products.

In 1967, CBS aired a documentary on TV, Hunger in America which reported the extent of hunger and malnutrition among low income groups in the United States. This show galvanized the American people into demanding the expansion of federal food assistance programs. In 1968, the Senate appointed Senator George McGovern to chair the "Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs" with the goal of wiping out hunger and malnutrition in the US.

By 1969 the committee wanted to secure further funding and began prying into other areas of health and nutrition. McGovern and several members of his staff had become familiar with the Ancel Keys' influence on the American Heart Association, which was proposing that fat and cholesterol consumption should be lowered for better heart health, even though the link between the two had never been proven in any scientific study.

... and thus the real corruption began!

In January 1977, after listening to the testimony of Ancel Keys and other doctors and scientists intent on promoting the unsupported Dietary Fat-Heart hypothesis, the Committee published the "Dietary Goals for the United States" recommending that all Americans reduce their fat, saturated fat and cholesterol consumption, and increase their carbohydrate consumption to 55-60% of daily calories.

Nick Mottern, a former labor reporter for The Providence Journal, was assigned the task of researching and writing the first "Dietary Goals for the United States." Mottern, who had no scientific background and no experience writing about science, nutrition, or health, believed his Dietary Goals would launch a "revolution in diet and agriculture in this country." He avoided the scientific and medical controversy by relying almost exclusively on Harvard School of Public Health nutritionist Mark Hegsted for input on dietary fat. Hegsted had studied fat and cholesterol metabolism in the early 1960s, and he believed unconditionally in the benefits of restricting fat intake.

During the 1980s, several other guidelines and reports were issued by various agencies. These included the Surgeon General’s Report on Nutrition and Health and the National Research Council’s Diet and Health Report. Both reports were heavily influenced by the low fat proponents.

The USDA leaned heavily on these reports in the revision of its USDA Food Pyramid guidelines in the early 1990s. Interestingly, the actual graphic for the USDA food pyramid came from Sweden.

The fruit and vegetable category made up the base of the original pyramid, to show that they were the most important component of the diet.  Unfortunately, the food pyramid from back then is gone.

It was replaced with a grotesquely bastardized food pyramid containing five food groups; one of which is comprised of sugars and fats.  Perhaps even worse is the fact that carbohydrates were made to be the base of the revisionist pyramid.  The food pyramid is supposed to be a guideline that explains how our foods should ideally be proportioned, but instead, it came to identify merely what we do eat.

Luise Light, Ed.D, a former USDA nutritionist, wrote extensively about the food pyramid, long after she was asked to help recreate it.  Since leaving the USDA, she has written the book, A Fatally Flawed Food Guide, which chronicles her experience.  It explains how the food pyramid was not redesigned in the interests of health, but on behalf of those in the processed foods industry.

"Where we, the USDA nutritionists, called for a base of 5-9 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables a day, it was replaced with a paltry 2-3 servings (changed to 5-7 servings a couple of years later because an anti-cancer campaign by another government agency, the National Cancer Institute, forced the USDA to adopt the higher standard).  Our recommendation of 3-4 daily servings of whole-grain breads and cereals was changed to a whopping 6-11 servings forming the base of the Food Pyramid as a concession to the processed wheat and corn industries.  Moreover, my nutritionist group had placed baked goods made with white flour -- including crackers, sweets and other low-nutrient foods laden with sugars and fats -- at the peak of the pyramid, recommending that they be eaten sparingly.

To our alarm, in the 'revised' Food Guide, they were now made part of the Pyramid’s base.  And, in yet one more assault on dietary logic, changes were made to the wording of the dietary guidelines from 'eat less' to 'avoid too much', giving a nod to the processed-food industry interests by not limiting highly profitable 'fun foods' (junk foods by any other name) that might affect the bottom line of food companies.

"But even this neutralized wording of the revised Guidelines created a firestorm of angry responses from the food industry and their congressional allies who believed that the 'farmers’ department' (USDA) should not be telling the public to eat less of anything.

"I vehemently protested that the changes, if followed, could lead to an epidemic of obesity and diabetes -- and couldn’t be justified on either health or nutritional grounds.  To my amazement, I was a lone voice on this issue, as my colleagues appeared to accept the 'policy level' decision.  Over my objections, the Food Guide Pyramid was finalized, although it only saw the light of day 12 years later, in 1992.  Yet it appears my warning has come to pass."

In recent times, the pyramid has been changed yet again, so that it no longer gives any clear-cut recommendations whatsoever.  It is fairly open to artistic interpretation.  In fact, to me it just looks like a shit-load of food strewn about the place and some dude climbing on top of it.  It doesn't serve a purpose.  That is, unless your real agenda is to make people fat and diseased.  The newer pyramid is completely useless, but it still manages to imply that carbohydrates are the most essential foods.

In the 1980's President Reagan cut spending on public health and filled USDA positions with people from the industries they are supposed to monitor.

Appointed officers by Reagan and Bush:

 * First Secretary of Agriculture - From the hog industry
 * Second Secretary of Agriculture - The President of the Meat Packer’s Association
 * Head of the USDA Food Marketing & Inspection - The VP of the National Cattleman's Association, and later the President of the National Cattlemen's Association

Right now, if you look at appointed positions associated with the USDA and food inspection offices, for example:

 * Secretary of Agriculture
 * Senior Advisor on Food and Nutrition
 * Deputy Secretary of Agriculture
 * Director of the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion
 * Director of Consumer Nutrition and Health Research
 * Administrator of Grain Inspection

... you will see they are former executives from:

 * Monsanto's Calgene Corporation
 * National Cattlemen's Beef Association
 * National Pork Board
 * National Pork Producers Council
 * National Livestock and Meat Board
 * Packers and Stockyards Administration
 * Meat Export Federation
 * Infinity Pork, LLC
 * ConAgra Foods

It seems it would be more ethical (and healthy) to have unbiased, non-industry individuals regulating the quality of our food supply.  When people begin to take control of their own health, and stop expecting governmental and corporate agencies to honestly tell them what to consume, then the nation will be healthy.


April 2 2014
Weight:  186.6 lbs
BMI:  27.0
Body Fat:  25.2%

*  How accurate are these numbers?  Huh ... I don't really know.  But I am using the Weight Watchers by Conair Scales Glass Body Analysis Scale Model WW52 to measure my stats.  I am less concerned with the accuracy of the numbers themselves and more concerned with the change I hope to see in the future.  For consistency's sake, these stats will always come from the same source and appear with my bi-weekly posts.

Most Recent 5K
JLGC Flashback 5K
League City TX
Official Time:  39:06.5
Improvement:  1:02.5

Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Good Morning Good Morning Good Morning Ah

I think most people would agree that one of the primary obstacles to working out is simply having the time.  When people say this (certainly, when I say it) what we often mean is “at the time of day I have the opportunity to work out, I don't really feel like working out.”  For example, you get home from a long day at work and have dinner, helping the kids with homework and your favorite TV show all about to happen in the next few hours, its very easy to skip putting on your sneakers and going for a jog.

Because of those reasons a number of people who work out regularly do so in the early morning and claim significant benefits, including a boost to their metabolism, to exercise at that hour.

In fact, a recent study at Appalachian State University found that morning workouts are best if you want a better night’s sleep. The researchers tracked the sleep patterns of people ages 40 to 60 who walked on a treadmill for 30 minutes, three times a week. Participants worked out at three different times: 7 am, 1 pm or 7 pm. Turns out, those who hit the treadmill at 7 am slept longer and had deeper sleep cycles than those who exercised at other points in the day.  They also experienced a 10% reduction in blood pressure during the day and a 25% dip at night.

The sleep changes that occur with morning exercise can alter our bodies mentally and physically, according to Scott Collier, PhD, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor in the department of health, leisure and exercise science at Appalachian State University.

“The better you sleep, the better it is for your body,” explains Dr. Collier. “It increases your cardio health, decreases stress and anxiety, helps you maintain your weight and lowers your blood pressure. Plus, the more time spent in deep sleep, the more time your body has to repair itself.”

Sounds great, right?  But I tend to think that the type of workout should enter the equation as well.  An early morning run on the treadmill is one thing, but some intense interval training and/or weight training is another.  Your body temperature peaks in the afternoon, usually between 2pm and 6pm, which means that you’re going to be able to do hard workouts even harder around this time, resulting in a bigger fitness boost – a great thing if your goal is sports performance or cardiovascular capacity.  Also, your protein synthesis, or ability to use dietary proteins for muscle repair, also peaks later in the day – in the early evening between 5pm and 7pm. So if you’re finishing up a hard workout around that time of day, you’ll maximize recovery, which means that later afternoons or early evenings are the best times of day for more difficult workouts.

On the flip side, research shows that exercising in a fasted state – which is usually only possible before breakfast – is better for weight loss because our bodies burn a greater percentage of fat for fuel during exercise, instead of relying on carbohydrates from food.

So … what is MY recommendation?  Well … you're not gonna like it …

My recommendation is that you do both.  Now hold on … I can hear your audible groans from here … its not that bad!  All I'm saying is that a quick light workout each and every morning (perhaps a 20 minute jog or bike ride or some light yoga) followed by more intense afternoon / evening workouts three or four times a week will allow you to reap the benefits more efficiently and reach your health and fitness goals more quickly.

But lets face it … the temptation to just hit that snooze button is just so damn powerful!  The only way to defeat that temptation is to be prepared for it …

1. Ease into it. If you’ve never exercised in the morning before, don’t sign up for 6am personal training sessions five days in a row. To start, schedule one morning workout per week. Try choosing a day you have something fun planned for that night. Knowing you can’t put your workout off might give you more incentive to get out of bed and exercise that morning. When you start to feel okay with one day per week, bump it up to two. Gradually your body (and brain) will get used to sweating before 7 o’clock.

2. Write a workout schedule for the week. This is helpful no matter what time of day you prefer to exercise, but building your day around a morning workout really does give you fewer excuses to skip it. Besides a horrible night’s sleep, there are few things that can get in the way of you and your morning workout. When writing your workout schedule, also consider things like work deadlines, events and travel plans, so you can let your really busy days be rest days!

3. Be specific!  Before you go to bed, decide exactly what morning workout you will do. For example, instead of saying, "I will exercise before work tomorrow," say "I will jog 2 miles and do 30 pushups before work tomorrow." Workout agendas maximize efficiency by eliminating wasted minutes spent debating which piece of cardio equipment to hop on or which strength move to do next. This allows you to budget just the right amount of time you’ll need to fit in your workout. It also prevents you from dozing back off to sleep while pondering what type of exercise you’ll do.

4. Lay out your exercise clothes the night before. This gesture alone is a sign you’re committed to getting out of bed for exercise in the morning. It takes the guesswork out of dressing for the weather, which can be overly complicated if you’re groggy from a good night’s sleep. Check what the low temperature will be overnight and plan your workout attire accordingly.

5. Then pack your gym bag before you go to bed if you plan on showering elsewhere. You’re much less likely to forget critical belongings like deodorant and underwear (oh … I've done this!) and pack up anything you might need for work that day if you'll be headed straight to work from the gym.

6. Get a good night’s sleep and think positive thoughts. When your alarm goes off, don’t dwell on how much you’d rather fall back asleep or how tired you are. Instead, focus on what you’re excited to do with your free time after school or work, or how great you’ll feel the rest of the day for sticking to your goal. Remember, the only workouts you regret are the ones you don’t do!

It's tough … I know … I love my bed.  If you want to become a morning exerciser, make a game plan and ease into it.  Most importantly, listen to what your body is telling you and not to the doubts that tend to creep in there.  Remember … you have the power … the 'Potamus Power!


March 16 2014
Weight:  186.7 lbs
BMI:  27.0
Body Fat:  25.2%

*  How accurate are these numbers?  Huh ... I don't really know.  But I am using the Weight Watchers by Conair Scales Glass Body Analysis Scale Model WW52 to measure my stats.  I am less concerned with the accuracy of the numbers themselves and more concerned with the change I hope to see in the future.  For consistency's sake, these stats will always come from the same source and appear with my bi-weekly posts.

Most Recent 5K
Project Blue Jail Break Run
Baytown TX
Official Time:  40:09.0

Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter