Friday, April 19, 2013

Attractiveness - Why We Want It and How To Get It

The Truth About Why We Exercise

One thing that differentiates my approach to fitness and specifically the Pilates Method from every other trainer out there is that fact that cardiovascular health, strength, and flexibility, although important, take a back seat to your back seat. In other words, my primary focus is to make a more attractive you. Is this shallow? Yes, but for you as the client, it gives you the biggest bang for your fitness buck.

Now before you read this you’ll have to promise me that you’ll keep in mind that this article reflects scientific and sociological research. Read the article all the way through because there is good news for everyone.

Study upon study has made clear that attractiveness is the greatest determining factor to a happy and successful life. I know this might suck a little, but the naked truth is we live in a world of subjective perceptions, first impressions and snap judgments. Whether we’re picking up the kids from school, interviewing for a job, or sipping margaritas poolside, the people who see us evaluate us and they do so in the blink of an eye. In less than a second an impression is made. As unfair or unqualified as they are, these impressions have an effect on our lives through the people we meet, the jobs we get, who we fall in love with and the children we produce. All those things affect our self-esteem and the whole damn thing goes around again in a Kinseyan death spiral.

In a 2004 study, Kanazawa and Kovar theorized that, attractive people were likely to be more intelligent. Why? None of the researchers committed to any one theory, but they did believe it related to natural selection. The superior cave man was taller than most, had broad shoulders, a small waist and could beat the living crap out of smaller, funnier and cuter cavemen; as a result he commanded more resources. He had a big, warm cave with an ocean view and ate out a lot. This caveman got the hot cavewomen. What’s a hot cavewoman? Broad hips for producing strong cavebabies, big boobs for feeding them and a bangin' backyard. After thousands of generations things haven’t changed a whole lot. The dudes who are most capable in our economy tend to have their choice of women – they will choose the most attractive ones to mate with. Whether or not this is fair doesn’t really matter, its biology.

We’d like to believe that we’ve evolved past this primitive coding, but Kanazawa and Kovar don’t believe we have. Even though men don’t need to possess the strength and club speed to whack a brontosaurus to death just to show a girl a good time doesn’t mean that women have given up on height, strength and a square jaw as desirable features. (eHarmony, in response to hundreds of thousands of complaints recently resorted to only matching women with taller men.) Even in the nerdy domain of high-tech where brains count for a lot its better to be a good looking geek than a homely one, especially when you’re trying to get others to follow your lead and invest in your ideas.

This doesn't always bear out. Women often choose less attractive guys for a boyfriends or husbands (called the Bernadine factor), but this is shoulder-hopping the biological wave. In fact, a UCLA and Univeriversity of New Mexico study indicated that no matter who a chick is partnered with at the moment she’s more likely to cheat with more attractive guys during ovulation. So even though she prefers to be married to the less attractive guy for any number of reasons, her ovaries know the difference and they want Kobe Bryant. Science sucks.

Now it’s important to define attractiveness because people, especially women, get attractiveness confused with beauty and thinness. In this context, attractiveness refers to the general perception of the majority of a society arrived at scientifically. One might believe that perceptions vary from one society to another, but international studies suggest that there really isn’t too much difference other than men in drought ridden areas prefer women with a bit more meat on their bones.

Another important thing to note about attractiveness is that facial symmetry (beauty) only accounts for a small portion of the attractiveness quotient. Body shape (shape, not size) accounts for a lot more schwing. For women, what counts in the eyes of males is different than how women evaluate themselves and each other. Males are much more attracted to lower waist to hip ratios than they are facial symmetry or over-all size. Sure, some studies show that in a “singles” situation men will go for the prettier faced, narrower hipped woman, but those same studies showed that this interest is more so for the prospect of a brief sexual encounter. In other words, he is less likely to consider those women to be serious candidates for marriage and children. It’s the curvier girl that’s proportionate that he wants to make babies with and science backs that up with sperm counts – hippier girls evoke higher sperm counts from their sex partners. I’m not dis’n skinny chicks, skinny chicks can also have dramatic waist to hip ratios. But if you’re in the less curvy beautiful faced category, finding quality long term partners can be a greater challenge, you’ll have to move more slowly and be more discriminating than your curvier friends.

So maybe by now you’re thinking you’ll never find a guy because you don’t have that stupid waist/hip thing, or you're a dude that doesn't fit the the square-jawed, 6'2" ideal, don’t despair because we can hack the program. Here’s how. The way we move is also an important factor in attractiveness as a 2007 study points out. In this collaboration between Texas A&M professor Louis Tassinary and NYU smarty Kerri Johnson, they found that the way women and men walked made a hella-difference to their perceived attractiveness. Over 700 people were shown videos of people walking and were told to evaluate their attractiveness on a scale of 1-10. The results showed that women’s scores jumped by 50% when they swayed their hips. When males swaggered their scores doubled. Sways and swaggers have nothing to do with beauty, they have everything to do with confidence. So maybe you’re a woman who doesn’t have such banging curves or you’re a guy who’s height or shoulders don’t have the Charles Atlas seal of approval, you can bridge the gap with a little attitude. Just work it.

So how does this relate to Pilates and specifically the way we do it? We get women of all shapes, sizes and levels of ability, but our goals are pretty much the same: trim the waist and lift the butt (the waist to hip ratio). Improving this ratio always yields positive results. Sure, some need overall weight-loss and that happens in time, some would like to be stronger and more flexible and those too will happen, but body shap and attitude makes the greatest impression on others and that impression counts. First impressions set the tone for all of our relationships, social, professional or otherwise and those relationships set a course for our lives. So, it should be clear… if you want a better life, do a better workout - the kind of workout that gives you the results that matter most.

Well, that's my two cents and it's worth every penny.

Jake Holmes

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Protein in the Morning

I Love The Smell of Protein in The Morning...

Surfing the internet for the latest useful studies on nutrition is more fun than an OSHA seminar, but it’s especially rewarding when I find information that allows me to eat as a weight loss strategy. The University of Missouri recently concluded a study indicating that eating a high protein breakfast can help curb cravings for sugary snacks throughout the day and this data they hoped would be supported with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)measuring brain activity particularly in the areas of the brain responsible for stimulating cravings for chicken nuggets and chocolate covered prezels.
The study involved about 20 women, all overweight and under the age of 21. In order to get a base line of brain activity, Heather Leidy, the study overlord and her team first had the subjects fill out a questionnaire (no idea what kinds of things they asked them about) and then took MRI’s of each of their brains before dinner time. Next, they divided them into three groups, one group skipped breakfast, another ate a cereal breakfast while the last group ate a high protein(35 grams) breakfast. Otherwize the menus were matched nutritionally for dietary fiber, sugar, and fat and each totaled 350 calories.
During the study all the participants were interviewed in the afternoons and the protein group reported feeling satiated and largely craving free where the breakfast skippers and low protein cereal group just kept asking where they were hiding the Milk Duds. Each subject was again subjected to an MRI. The MRI’s for the high protein group showed that they did, in fact, have lower brain activity in the craving area of their brains while the same area of the cereal group’s brains had mutated into Mapquest screenshots of the closest Taco Bell.
This isn’t the first study to extoll the virtues of a high protein diet, but it’s the first that I’m aware of that actually employed magnetic imaging to back up the feelings or impressions of the subjects. Love it - Science.
The question on all your minds is what should we eat for breakfast? Well, the study subjects ate breakfasts of 350 calories or less with 35 grams of protein. Okay, this is next to impossible, packing that amount of protein into breakfast is like trying to stuff Niki Minaj’s backside into a pair of our own Dr. Laura’s skinny jeans. The study kinda pulled a fast one. In order to get to the 35g and stay below the 350cal threshold they served pork loin, and lean beef steaks for breakfast.
Below I’ve included some menus that contain actual breakfast foods and contain 35g or protein but wasn't able to stay below the 350 calories. (Some of these are a little high in fat, but at breakfast time fat isn’t too big a deal as you’ll probably burn most of it as energy throughout the day.)
The Farmer’s Daughter (257 calories, 29g protein, 13g fat, 0g sugar)
2 eggs (156 calories, 13g protein,10.6g fat, 0g sugar)
1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese(101 calories, 16g protein, 2g fat,
0g Sugar)
The Hippie Chick (3,330 Calories, 36g protein, 90g fat, 387g sugar)
9 22oz acai bowls(each: 370 calories,4g protein, 10g fat, 43g sugar)
The Lean-a Latina (564 calories, 33g protein, 20g fat, 0g sugar)
2 eggs (156 calories, 13g protein, 10.6g fat, 0g sugar)
1 cup refried beans(220 calories,12g protein, 5g fat, 0g sugar)
2 flour tortillas (188 calories,8 protein, 4.6g fat, 0g sugar)
The McHottie (600 calories: 36g protein, 24g fat, 6g sugar)
2 Egg McMuffins (each: 300 calories,18g protein, 12g fat, 3g sugar)
The Star-Buckwild(735 calories, 34g protein, 70g fat, 131g sugar)
1 Power Protein Plate (290 calories,14g protein, 19g fat, 31g sugar)
1 CafĂ© Latte w/ Soy Milk with enough Mocha Syrup for 11 lattes  
  (445 calories, 20g protein, 50.5g fat,100g sugar)

The Queb-ecky, aye (408 calories, 40g protein, 24g fat, 1.4g sugar)
4 pieces of Canadian Style Bacon (142 calories, 20g protein, 5g fat,0g sugar)
1 goose egg (266 calories, 20g protein,19g fat, 1.4g sugar)

My, My, My Delilah (398 calories, 39g protein, 19g fat, 27.5g sugar)
½c Greek Yogurt (65 calories,12g protein, 0g fat, 4.5g sugar)
2 Scrambled eggs w/ 1/4c feta(256 calories, 23g protein, 18g fat, 9g sugar)
1 slice whole wheat toast(77 calories, 4g protein, 1g fat,14g sugar)
The Bernadine, All American (686 calories, 35g protein, 43g fat, 6.5g sugar)
2 hard boiled eggs (156 calories,13g protein, 10g fat, 0g sugar)
2 slices whole wheat toast with a butt-load of peanut butter
(530 calories, 22g protein, 33g fat,6.5g sugar)
The Orangutan (840 calories, 36g protein, 3g fat, 144g sugar)
3 16oz Protein Berry Pizzaz Jamba Juice Smoothies
(each: 280 calories, 12g protein,1g fat, 48g sugar)
As you can see from the menus above it’s not so easy squeezing 35 grams of protein into breakfast. This is especially tough if you insist on eating fruit and fruit juices for breakfast. I guess the point is to try to fit some protein into every meal and you'll probably experience less cravings for the naughty stuff.
Well, that's my two cents and it's worth every penny.
Jake Holmes