Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What We Eat, Where We Eat and Who We Eat With

Okay, so it’s the holidays and we’re all busy.  I’m busy trying to keep my people coming to Pilates classes so they don't break my reformers in two come January and they’re busy avoiding Pilates classes. But all this busyness and avoidance can stir up an appetite and when we’re out and about shopping and socializing that means restaurant food and extra calories for all the girls and boys.

Chef's eat restaurant food every day.

Eating out is one of the great pleasures of our modern culture. Especially during the holiday season when restaurants do about 28% more business. ‘Oh, but Jake, I eat at nice restaurants not at Arby’s, like that Darth Vader guy’. Sorry to burst your salt-laden little bubble, but in a study published in July of this year researchers discovered that when measuring fat, sodium,cholesterol, and overall calories, full service restaurants are the same or worse than their low-brow counterparts. The study conducted by Ruopeng An, Professor of Nutrition at the University of Illinois analyzed 7 years of data from over 18,000 American adults and found that eating out (full service or fast food) adds an average of 200 calories to their daily intake compared to eating at home.  And just so you know, alcohol was not part of the calculation so you can do your own math when you sober up.

When compared to eating at home, diners at full service restaurants tend to get more good nutrients like omega 3, vitamins, and potassium.  So that’s a good thing, but they also consumed about 58 milligrams more cholesterol. Fast food diners consumed 38 milligrams less cholesterol than full service diners, but still 10 milligrams more than home eaters. Salt consumption at full service restaurants is also impressive. Those diners take in about 412 extra milligrams of sodium while fast food adds an average of 300 milligrams.  Also, whether flirting with a waiter or shouting into a clown, eating out adds an average of 10 grams of fat to your day.

Who we dine with is also an issue.  Cornell University (the current champion busybodies of the food world) conducted a study involving 140 diners at a buffet restaurant and found that when men ate with one or more women they macked-down an average of 93% more pizza compared to when they shared a table with other dudes. Just to prove that they are regular guys they also ate 89% more salad with the chicks. Women ate the same amount no matter what.(Honey badger don't give a s%#&, she'll eat what she wants.) The researchers suggested that, with men, primal instincts were at play. They considered the over consumption to be a caveman display of dominance - the kind of thing that cavewomen find irresistible.

Perhaps, but I think it might have something to do with men purposely cramming their mouths full making it less likely that they say something stupid. It's better to be thought of as a pig than a jackass. 

A separate Cornell study showed that we all tend to eat more when sharing a table with a larger person than with a skinny one. They had a trim actress dine with different people. Half the time she wore a prosthesis making her appear 50 pounds heavier than she actually was, otherwise she simply dined appearing as her svelte self.  Dressed both ways she would either serve herself less salad and more pasta or more pasta and less salad.

Regardless of how she served herself the study participants chowed-down an average of 31.8% more pasta when she appeared heavy. It wasn't a matter of being polite either; you know, eating more so the chubby girl doesn't feel self-conciouse... When the Bertha served herself mostly salad the unwitting participants actually ate less salad themselves - 38.3% less. It was obvious to the researchers and should be to you that when we eat with someone less nutritionally intimidating it's on!

So what can we take away from all this? Personally, I don’t believe that obsessing over food is healthy and neither is overindulging. I do recommend being aware of what we’re eating and how much.  Below is a list of strategies that will help you gracefully glide into 2016, not squeeze into it like you did 2015. 

·        Before going to a restaurant, look at the menu beforehand and plan what you’ll order. Game-time decisions will cause you to make the wrong call.

·        Take your time, chat between nibbles. It takes at least 20 minutes for your tummy to tell your brain that you’re full. 

·        Put your fork down between bites. Sounds dumb, but it works.

·        Chug a large glass of lemon water before going out.

·        Get enough protein throughout the day.

·        Be true to yourself, a 170 pound person needs more food than a 112 pounder - it's physics.

·        Avoid sugar as much as possible. Take Sugar Solution Secret to curb cravings and minimize the amount of time sugar stays in your system where it gets converted into fat.

·        Maintain your workout schedule.

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

Jake Holmes
Pilates of La Jolla

Monday, October 26, 2015

Food On The Counter, Counts

Hey, wanna lose 13 pounds the easy way? Great, change out the food on your kitchen counter (in my house that includes the top of the fridge). In a study published just last week researchers found that the food on your kitchen counter is a strong indicator of whether or not you are overweight.

Brian Wansink, PhD and professor at Cornell University along with a couple of other brain-pan-all-stars examined 200 photos of various kitchen counters in and around Syracuse, NY. They inventoried the foods they saw pictured on the counters and cross referenced those with the weight of the women who lived there.  

The women who had breakfast cereal on the counter were 20 pounds heavier than those who didn’t.  That’s 20 pounds H-E-A-V-I-E-R.  Those with soft drinks on the counter were 23-26 pounds heavier. Holy crap. Now before you start with smarty-pants questions like ‘What kind of cereal?’ or ‘Was is diet soda?’ or ‘Were these people fat already?’ you should know the study did not mention what types of cereal or soft drinks, or anything like that, it simply noted whether they could see cereal or soda on the counter. Oh, the good news is that those with fruit on the counter weighed 13 pounds less than the average. 

The researchers break it down to what you see is what you eat.  We are likely to munch on whatever food is consistently in our view. We know this to be true in poorer neighborhoods where fast food is most prevalent there is also a greater population of obese people. According to this study the same is true in our own homes.

Sure, I know that this study is simplistic and everyone is different, but it’s hard to ignore its’ basic wisdom. Most of us can benefit by adopting the behaviors of others we want to be more like. For instance, I was a poor student in high school but when I went to college I decided to follow the lead of good students (sitting in front, joining study groups, reading ahead) and ended up doing much better. How many of you post reminders on the refrigerator or your bathroom mirror? Same thing. 

So if you want to be smarter, pick up habits of people smarter than you. If you want to be happier you should hang around happier people and pick up some ques from them.  If you’re trying to drop a few pounds replace that jar of yummy granola with food you‘ll never eat – like kale.

That’s my two cents, and it’s worth every penny,
Jake Holmes

Pilates of La Jolla

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Fear and Loathing on Facebook

How often do you check Facebook?  Once a day?  Twice?  Nine times?  What are you checking for?  What are you expecting to see?  Hopefully, your answer is something like ‘I check it at least 5 times per day to see if Jake has posted anything funny or informative’.  If not, it’s likely that you, like most of us, are skimming passed the cat videos, foodie pics and gadget ads until we find a post we don’t like.  I’m not talking about the plethora of unsettling political posts (thanks, John A.).

No, I’m talking about the picture of your friend, Sally, hamming it up in a lame yoga posture on the beach in Majorca taken by her new, handsome, tall, charming, and rich husband.

Typical FB posts are like highlight reels.  They feature only the best events of a person’s life.  For instance, last week I read a post celebrating the fact that a new real-estate partnership had closed its third deal in just over a month.  Other common posts feature happy things like graduations, college acceptances, job promotions, awesome vacations, and super exciting parties to which I wasn’t invited. (Not that I would attend their stupid party anyway.) We all like to post the cool stuff that’s happening in our life, but we seem to get a little snippy when others do the same.  It’s common to feel the temptation to comment with something like “I’m glad Junior got into Lower Southeastern Nimrod State University; I guess the courts must have sealed his Juvie record” or “Wow, engaged again. And so soon”.

You see where I’m going with this?  As humans we can only take so much good news that isn’t our own.  Sure, we can be happy about your early retirement to Fiji, but we’d be happier, even delighted to see a post where you’ve swollen up like Veruka Salt after a tsetse fly bit you on the ass.  Of course, we’ll never get to see that pic unless we’re really lucky because rarely, if ever, do we post anything bad or embarrassing. It’s not that we’re bad people – we just tend to be just a wee bit judgmental, jealous, envious, self-righteous and spiteful; in other words, we’re normal and a recent study proves it.

University of Houston researcher, Mai-Lyn Steers, recently published a study linking time spent on Facebook to symptoms of depression.  Her data indicates that the more time we spend on social media creeping on the lives of others the more dissatisfied with our own lives we become.  (Okay, all together now:1-2-3 Duuuuh.)  Steers points out that it’s not social media itself that causes depression, but our reaction to it. Seeing postings about the success and happiness of "friends" causes us to reflect negatively on ourselves, which leads to depression and depression leads to ill feelings toward others.

Social comparison is nothing new.  It’s been studied formally since the 1950’s and informally since Phyllis the cavewoman hated her next-cave neighbor, Margaret.  “That bitch acts like she’s the queen of everything because her husband walks upright and makes fire”. The problem is not
that someone else achieves something 
good, like when the Go-Pro guys sells his company for hundreds of millions of dollars.  Most of us say 'Cool, good for him". The problem starts when we know the person. If we know the guy our reaction is quite different. Social media is full of people we know (or kinda know)so we can’t help but compare. So we're all okay with the Go-Pro guy with exception of his former UCSD classmates who all feel like losers and wish he'd get bit by that tsetse fly while it all gets captured real time and in high-def.

So what’s the answer? What are we going to do about these negative feelings? Below I’ve included some possible strategies:

  1. Heckle and harass our friends every time they post something positive.
  2. Post outrageous lies about ourselves.
  3. Photo-shop the living hell out of every picture or our chubby selves before posting.
  4. Keep un-friending people until you get down to only those who vacation in places like San Bernardino.
  5. Keep bugging FB until they expand the 'LIKE' choices to include "Lame" "BFD" and "Ass-hat".

Now that I see them in writing none of the above make me feel any better. Let's consider a different approach:

  1. Celebrate the achievements of everyone even if you think their post is dumb.  For instance, if little Ellie gave up breast feeding just before her 6th birthday post a comment like "You go girl" and resist the temptation to comment with "Eeeew".
  2. If your friend buys a 40' sailboat, rather than pretending you didn't see it, congratulate him, go a little overboard.  Maybe you'll be invited on a weekend trip to Catalina with his hot cousin you've been warned about.
  3. When that old college classmate gets that big promotion to First Assistant to the Deputy Vice President to the Vice President of Operations in a 5 person company, comment like they just won a Nobel Prize and let 'Money-bags' know that their buying the first round.

See?  We’re feeling better already, but does simply posting celebratory comments change how we feel about ourselves?  The answer to that is ‘some’, but you’re on your way and the rest comes in time. It helps to remember that no one’s life is without heartache, disappointment, and the occasional dose of “I suck, what the hell’s wrong with me”.  We all suffer from the terrible too's.  Too short, too tall, too fat, too skinny, too stupid, too handsome (that’s me), too white, too black, WAY too Asian, too every damn thing you can think of.  

The best way to be easier on yourself is to be easier on others.  Getting pumped about the lives of our friends is the fastest, easiest way to get pumped about our own lives.  Sure, sometimes little things don’t warrant a cake and streamers, but it sure is fun to go buckwild over something like finding a $10 bill in the hamper or when your brother actually shows up at his parole hearing on the right day.

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

Jake Holmes
Pilates of La Jolla

Monday, March 9, 2015

Fructose Attacks: Minorities Hit Hardest

     Late breaking scientific data suggests that all sugars are not created equal.

kid eating cotton candy1 Does Sugar Really Make Kids Hyper?

     Professor of Biochemistry, Jean-Marc Schwarz and is team of nutritional busy-bodies wanted to know if fructose had the same effect as sucrose on the health of obese African American and Latino children.  Why Schwarz didn’t include white or Asian kids no one knows. 

Oh, fructose is the sugar found in most fruits, vegetables, and honey. It’s widely used in food and beverage (juice, soda, sports drinks and alcohol) manufacturing due to its low cost and ease of use. Sucrose is cane sugar in various forms like raw, brown, and table. (Table sugar is most commonly a combination of sucrose and fructose.)

     According to the study one of these is more likely linked to obesity in children: sugar that is processed from sugar cane or the sugar we get from fruits and vegetables?  See if you can guess… If you guessed the sucrose you’re wrong.  Man, I love that, any number of personal trainers just threw their iPads out the window.

     Team Schwarz’s research was recently presented at the Endocrine Society annual meeting in San Diego. They took obese Latino and African American kids ages from 9 to 18 and provided them with all their food for ten days.  Individual baseline food consumption was measured beforehand in order to ensure that each kid got the same type and amount of calories they normally eat.  In other words, they did not put the kids on any kind of diet or reduced their calorie intake at in any way.  The only difference was that fructose was replaced with sucrose. 

     After only ten days the conversion of sugar to fat declined 40% on average.  40 per cent, in terms of human physiology that’s huge.  Just as importantly, their liver fat decreased 20% and liver fat is a precursor to any number of serious health problems. 

     So, what might this mean to you and me?  Well, for starters we should be happy that we probably don’t need to starve ourselves in improve our health and lower our fat levels.  We’d be smart to avoid fructose as much as possible.  Minnesota Gastroenterology suggests that in addition to cutting out honey, sugary fruits, berries, and any foods whose ingredients chart lists fructose or high fructose corn syrup in their first five.  Alcohol sugars are among the worst, but who am I kidding? You’re not gonna quit that.

     Lucky for you, Pilates of La Jolla exclusively provides sugar-free workouts.

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

Jake Holmes
Pilates of La Jolla