A health and fitness blog: With an occasional food item

Friday, March 30, 2007

Have it your way

It wasn't Burger King, but she had it her way. Today a co-worker named Sonya and I, along with our friend Brad, drove down to the Four Winds restaurant in Cusseta. Just south of Fort Benning, its moniker is "Home of the Ranger Burger." With Rangers and other Army personnel based very nearby, you can imagine the appetites that walk in the door. A Ranger Burger is two slabs of beef weighing 1 lb. You can get most anything on it--even fried pickles as Brad did. Or you can get a Junior Ranger Burger, which is half that and which is what yours truly ordered. (Such high standards, you know, with this blog, haha.) Actor Mel Gibson has even eaten there, when he was in town several years ago filming "We Were Soldiers Once ... And Young." Anyway Sonya, who easily consumed a Ranger on two previous visits, went for something not even on the menu. "They don't even list it," Brad said, evoking fear. (And also they probably don't want the Rangers to know there's something heftier than their namesake.) It's called a Marine Burger: THREE slabs of beef. 1.5 pounds. The grease drips liberally onto the plate on the first bite. Sonya ate it all. (And have I mentioned there are fries with that? And a quart of sweet tea?) Brad and I ate our meals more quickly--go figure--while Sonya kept saying, "OK, will you guys wait on me?"
Like we were going to leave her in the middle of nowhere, 45 minutes from the office. Brad took pictures, one of which you see here. Waitresses kept coming by the table, watching Sonya's meal disappear (and, by the way, she's about a size 2). And some Army guys kept staring at what turned out to be history in the making: The servers said other women have ordered the Marine but none have finished one, to their knowledge. All were stunned and stupefied. Feel free to post your own Four Winds tales of triumph. Or defeat.
PS We learned that tonight is fried catfish night at the Four Winds. Needless to say, we're abstaining.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Kiwi, kefir and barley--oh my!

If you tire of the one-note wonder--broccoli (or blueberries), you might want to check out Prevention's report on six so-called Super Foods. They are: cranberry; broccoli sprouts; kiwifruit; pomegranate; barley; and kefir. Each plays a unique role in keeping you healthy and strong, and some boast claims of cure.
Meanwhile some of us from work ventured over today to Temple Israel for Deli Day, where there were few Super Foods in sight. Which is why we love going to this charity benefit every year: hefty kosher corned beef sandwiches, chips and cole slaw. The homemade desserts cost extra and are worth every penny. Some people treat it like a picnic and the weather is usually great, as it is today. Some kids were running off their calories by chasing each other on the lawn and playing hide-and-go-seek under the oaks. Some of the rest of us? Spin. But later, after a nap.

P.S. This is funny. After I posted the above yesterday, I read this blog entry
that rather pokes fun at (some) marketing of health aids--in this case, aspirin.
A) We ought to do everything at our reasonable disposal to stay healthy but B) Nothing--not even kefir or blueberries or aspirin--can keep us from dying. (But hopefully not today for you and me.)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Wheels with a heart

A friend of mine who has cancer got a great report on his progress Tuesday up at Duke University. So today I ventured onto the Duke Web site and found this story. (Which is unrelated to my friend except by Duke.)
If you see Drew Bratton, wish him well with a pat on the back. (Unless he's passing by at a high rate of speed.) He's overcome various heart problems with the help of his Duke cardiologist and on St. Patrick's Day he started pedaling across the country from San Diego. He's headed east with five friends. Quite inspiring.
On the cycling note: "Wheels to Heal" is April 15 here in Columbus. A benefit for the John B. Amos Cancer Center, it starts at the Columbus Civic Center with check-in at 7 a.m. and breakfast following. Cyclists can choose among four lengths: 20 miles, 40, 62 and 100. All riders head toward Fort Benning, at staggered starting times. Registration is $55 through April 13 and $60 the day of. ($45 for military.) Should be a lot of fun. For more information: 706-660-6559 or to sign up online: www.columbusregional.com or www.active.com.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


So in spin class the other day, these two friends, both of whom are nurses, were warning about germs that build up in recycled water bottles. (Bottles you drink from time and again.) Guilty. Those plastic bottles (Deer Park and Evian among the brands) are too expensive for me to buy time and again, so I re-use them and they pile up in my car and under seats, making it resemble the landfill. I use a thicker plastic bottle on my road bike. Yet it, too, builds up bacteria. Several Internet articles reveal that you can contract everything from dysentery to vomiting to cancer in using the same bottle time and again; but this story both sheds light and refutes at least the cancer rumor. (See the Snopes link.)
To err on the side of caution, wash your bottles with hot water and use bleach.
Meanwhile, I'm not aware that I've contracted a fatal illness from my unhealthy water-bottle habits, or even the lesser stomach variety. Stay tuned. Anyone else have a take on this?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Random news: Monday edition

Happy Monday.
Did you know?:
A teaspoon of neutron star material weighs about 110 million tons.
The ant, when intoxicated, will always fall over to its right side.
A giraffe can clean its ears with its 21-inch tongue.
Astronauts are not allowed to eat beans before they go into space because passing wind in a spacesuit damages them.
On average, 100 people choke to death on ball-point pens every year, so don't stick one in your mouth.

In more serious news, CNN is reporting that ACL injuries are affecting more young, female athletes. ACL stands for the anterior cruciate ligament. Say that three times fast. Then read the full story here.

And unless you are not quite sick of news about Anna Nicole Smith--or her baby or her alleged boyfriends--the autopsy results are in today: She died of a drug overdose from presciption drugs. Duh. I'll let you find that story on your own, which shouldn't be too difficult.
Steer clear of tbe beans and space suits.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Exercise and heat

This woman is visiting our little hamlet from Alaska, for three months, and she posed the following today in a meeting: Is this as hot as it gets? HA! Though not yet April, today's temps reached about 90 degrees. ... We will have to go visit her in July.
So in anticipation of warmer weather, here's this article by a doc at the Cleveland Clinic. It's about taking precautions while exercising outside, or cutting the grass, or whatever. If you must be outside for exercise, it's best to go in the cooler parts of the day, especially with high humidity. (We got both!) And drink your fluids.
Tiger Woods, meanwhile, is leading the WGC (formerly the Dural) in Miami. Looks breezy down there.
Hope everyone is having a grand Sunday.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

It's a yellow day

Check out this map. It's the pollen count today all over the country, with the Deep South practically covered in it. (The red states/regions. Amazing how this mirrors Republican voting trends.) Anyway. You go outside and there's this sort of yellow haze, which isn't to be confused with the haze we get in the summer. The cars are covered in it. When we get another big rain, puddles of pollen will cake along curbs and roadsides.
Here's a definition of pollen:
"The male element in flowering plants; usually a fine dust produced by the anthers, which, by contact with the stigma effects the fecundation of the seeds. This impregnation is brought about by means of tubes (POLLEN-TUBES) which issue from the pollen-grains adhering to the stigma, and penetrate through the tissues until they reach the ovary."--WorldwideSchool.org
Who knew? (Probably lots of people, actually, but I didn't know it was this, um, sexual.)
Pollen also wreaks havoc on people with allergies.
Thought about writing a poem about pollen, but the only rhyming word I can come up with is Holland.
Any other ideas?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Honey, we're out of toilet paper

The Colin Beavan family of New York, featured here, are embarking on quite the interesting year-long experiment: forgoing toilet paper. It's all part of their "low-impact" lifestyle, which includes pretty much environmentally friendly everything--composting their other trash, namely food, with worms; riding a scooter to work (even in inclement weather); using flourescent light bulbs or candles. The Beavans are part of a movement that believes, in part, that while you might not be able to change the world, you can change your little corner of it by consuming as little as possible. (File this blog post under community health.) To me, their lifestyle is a bit extreme (and for the life of me, I can't figure out what one subs for toilet paper; the story doesn't say), but then again American wastefulness is extreme. The United States, with 4 percent of the world's population, accounts for 22 percent of world energy consumption. Our per capita consumption is 14 times greater, and CO2 emissions rate 18 times greater, than the low-income countries with 41 percent of the world's population.
Locally, two people I know ride their bikes to work, rain or shine. They both have cars but this is their way of sparing the environment. Another couple of friends, a married couple, are not buying anything new this year; even their clothes will come second-hand. This place in north Georgia follows suit: the food scraps are composted with worms, the toilets and sinks are environmentally friendly and no cars are allowed on the property except for staff. (Guests have to hike nearly five miles to get to the inn.) When I went there in 2000, a staff member told me she once put a pair of blue jeans into the worm pile, and eventually everything was gone but the zipper and buttons.
For her part, my mother composts her garden and she was into recycling way before bins were provided by the city. She and my dad also recently switched to fluorescent light bulbs.
An interesting concept: How much to consume? What to do with waste? Ideas? Reactions? (And please tell me alternative uses for toilet paper. Meanwhile I'll be happy to keep mine.)

P.S. The photo shows a farmer raking a compost pile.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Brainy workout

You already know that regular exercise works out your body--toned muscles, a healthier heart, a smaller waistline. The current issue of Newsweek is making a connection between regular exercise and brain power. That's right--working out helps your noggin. Among the benefits: slowing the aging process; producing new nerve cells, which scientists previously thought impossible; increasing dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine (like taking a little Prozac and a little Ritalin, the article says); and slowing the possibility of Alzheimer's.
The ancient Greeks understood this mind-body connection; they seemed to invent the term scholar-athlete, as it was presumed that to be in shape included a healthy brain. The Newsweek article also makes a connection between kids' performance in school and keeping fit. (Editorial comment: Too bad so many P.E. programs have been cut in recent years. It seems that being a couch potato no longer affects just the body but your grades.)
Read the story here.
Tell me what you think of all this. (After your workout, of course, which might not make you an instant genius, but will help you form thoughts more efficiently.)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Have you ever been exercising and experienced one or more of the following symptoms? Dizziness, confusion, extreme fatigue or even passing out? It's real. This info sheet explains more. Sugar supplied to brain comes from the liver's production of it. When the liver is deprived of the energy required to make or convert sugar for the brain, bonking is the result.
It can be a serious thing. When I looked it up, the online encyclopedia Wikipedia--which isn't always reliable--said it's a vernacular word for having sex. (I thought that was "boinking." But, lo, in a subsequent Google search for "bonking" images, there's a picture of two lions in a compromising position.) So just to be clear, this is about your body running out of fuel during exercise. It happened to me one day last week in spin class. I assure you I wasn't doing what the lions were doing. In fact, I felt like throwing up.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Turbulence, the Boy Scout and tattoos

Did y'all see this?
A woman on a British Airways plane from New Delhi to London last weekend died in flight, and the flight crew put her in first class. (That's one way to move up from coach.) Here's my favorite line, from one of the passengers: “She kept slipping under the seatbelt and moving about with the motion of the plane. When I asked what was going on I was shocked to hear she was dead.”
In other news--with a happier ending--searchers today found a Boy Scout who was missing for nearly four days in the mountains of western North Carolina. His favorite book, "Hatchet," is about a boy who survives in the wilderness after a plane crash. Read the full story here.
Now for something completely unrelated to airplanes: Last night, I passed a local tattoo establishment (going 40 mph, for the record; in other words, I wasn't buying), and the sign out front read: "Get your tattoo for spring break." Maybe I'm too old, but this is not something my friends and I did--or even thought about--for spring break. High school OR college. Talking about the sign to some of my co-workers, they thought I was completely uncool for a) resisting the urge and b) thinking it's a little nutty to begin with.
P.S. The photo is of Boy Scouts taking medicine to patients during the influenza epidemic.

Monday, March 19, 2007

A comeback

Good morning.
A Columbus, Ohio, man was running a marathon in that city several years ago when, at the halfway point, he noticed a pain. Dismissing it at first, the soreness continued. Turns out he had what's called a herniation--the soft material inside a disk bulges out and puts pressure on nerves running down the leg. After going through the research and seeing various doctors, he opted for periodic cortisone shots rather than surgery. You can read the full story here. Did you know that back pain accounts for the No. 1 debilitation for people under 45? Athletic types like the runner in this piece sometimes learn the hard way that stretching can go a long way toward prevention. Overuse, of course, can lead to problems like stress fractures. ... But education seems key, as always.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Want to go for a walk?

Once again, a lovely spring-like day where I live; and once again we'll mark this day on the calendar to recall several months from now when it's 100 degrees in the shade and we are limp from humidity, walking around cross-eyed and begging for water. (It's not pretty.)... Simply could not go to spin class because the blue skies and birds beckoned.
Just now came across this article
on the Prevention Website extoling the virtues of power walking. It's a great report--everything from good shoes to walking tips to building endurance and interval training. The thing about power walking is it's not as rough on the knees as running; and if you walk at a good clip (say, 4 mph or more), it's as beneficial as jogging.
Tell me your walking routine.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Luck o' the Irish

Perusing the Internet for something light and zippy to balance out Friday's post. Then came the realization: It's St. Patrick's Day! Make sure you don't get pinched. Here's a link to the History Channel, which offers all sorts of info about the international observance. Everything from the founding of the day to recipes to folklore. Here's a recipe:
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 cups all purpose flour
5 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons butter, chilled, cut into cubes
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 8-inch-diameter cake pan with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in large bowl to blend. Add butter. Using fingertips, rub in until coarse meal forms. Make well in center of flour mixture. Add buttermilk. Gradually stir dry ingredients into milk to blend. Mix in raisins.
Using floured hands, shape dough into ball. Transfer to prepared pan and flatten slightly (dough will not come to edges of pan). Sprinkle dough with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

Bake bread until brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool bread in pan 10 minutes. Transfer to rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Letting go

It’s raining and windy out, and it's Friday, which means at least one thing: A pensive mood and a blog post that will likely wander aimlessly. Bear with me.
Do you know people who lament, "I don’t have enough time"? I wish I had more hours in the day for …" If we are honest, you have been one them, and I have been one of them. Lutheran writer Janet Ruffing has said: "When I am busy, I can believe myself to be incredibly important to the scheme of things. I become indispensable, necessary. My ego becomes reassured (while this state lasts) that I am productive, accomplishing something worthwhile and valuable. After all, time is money and I am spending it well. I am measuring out the least amount of time possible for each task. By being so efficient, I become free to accept several more engagements, talks, tasks. I am so good at being busy, I continually escalate the demands on my time, attention, and care." Here's an image of importance: Cell phone in the ear. Toddler on the hip. Briefcase/laptop wrapped around the shoulder.
We have a choice in the matter. We don’t have to remain stuck in the frenetic pace. We can let go. Melodie Beattie, in addition to Janet Ruffing above, has long sounded the clarion call on this. And even in 1903, the poet Ranier Maria Rilke, in writing to an amateur poet, offered this:
"You ask whether your verses are any good. You ask me. You have asked others before this. You send them to magazines. You compare them with other poems, and you are upset when certain editors reject your work. Now (since you have said you want my advice) I beg you to stop doing that sort of thing. You are looking outside, and that is what you should most avoid right now. No one can advise or help you - no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. …"
You can read Rilke’s entire letter here
In the world of faith, some communities don’t give in to the cultural temptation to do more, spend more, build more and achieve more--to be busy, or to appear so, for others' approval. Some do.
In his book, "Becoming Who You Are," the Rev. James Martin, S.J., tells a story from his days of training for hospital chaplaincy. Not one drawn to that particular ministry, Martin would psych himself up by imagining the words of the most experienced chaplain, or even Mother Teresa. He didn’t experience a breakthrough with a patient until someone advised him simply to be himself.
Do you wonder if this addiction to busyness (individual and corporate); to rampant consumerism; to trying to be what we’re not; to equating "bigger" with "better" has somehow made us lose the most important parts of ourselves? Namely, our souls?
Send your thoughts.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Don't hold the Mayo

The Mayo Clinic, that is. (You can do away with the other mayo, which a former co-worker called Death in a Jar.) The famous facility has a story on its Web site, available here, outlining the benefits of a daily 30-minute workout. You might say, "I don't have enough time," or "Those shorts make me look fat," but trust me, the cardio benefits outweigh--so to speak--any excuses. Send me your ideas about 30 minutes well spent.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Two recipes

What do you call two doctors? A paradox.
What is a word for two low-fat recipes? Not sure. But here they are. The first is for Cajun chicken:

1 garlic clove, or garlic powder to taste
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large bell pepper, chopped
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2-3 tbsp. Creole seasoning
4 (8 to 10 oz.) grouper fillets

1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Sauté garlic, onions and bell pepper in olive oil until tender.
3. Add tomato sauce, Creole seasoning, and garlic.
4. Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.
5. Spray pan with non-stick cooking spray. Bake grouper fillets in a non-stick pan at 350° F until half done, about 10 minutes.
6. Pour sauce over fillets and bake for 10 minutes more.
Makes 4 servings.

The second is for BAKED OATMEAL, sent in from a Big Fan (OK, my mother):
2 cups oats
20 oz. unsweetened pineapple
one-fourth c. coconut
one-fourth c. nuts
three-fourths c. raisins
1 Tbsp. vanilla (optional)
1 tsp. salt
4 – 6 cups water
1/8 tsp coconut extract (optional)

Combine all ingredients in given order. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Serves 6.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Another sticky situation

Per the previous item: About to put the computer to sleep, when this story practically jumped out of the screen: This guy in Germany got stuck to the tar on his roof. (And as soon as I say, "What is it with these people?" something similar will happen to me. Murphy's Law and all that.) Be careful out there.

Mall of the Buffs?

From the weird medical news file: Have you seen this story? A woman in Iowa had to be removed from a toilet seat with nail polish after becoming stuck to it. It happened last summer at a place called Mall of the Bluffs. Wow. Reminds me of those tales (urban myths?) from many years ago about making sure you aren't on the airplane john when your plane lands, lest you get stuck from. ... from what? A timely loss of air pressure? And I'm not sure flight attendants these days let anyone in the bathroom close to landing time. Anyway. In fifth grade (and sometimes even now), I believed anything. An occupational hazard.
Be careful in those public restrooms.

P.S. This is a photo of ancient toilets in Rome. Surely no one got stuck on those.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Lost in trans-lation

There's no way I can compete today with this shocking--shocking!--posting by my colleague Sonya Sorich, who obviously danced in a cage at a bar Saturday night with some other friends. It was for another friend's bachelorette party. Had Michael and I not had another commitment, I might have been along with this crew (or not), one of whom is my editor, and her nickname is Pork Chop.
I'll just leave it all at that.
Today's topic is Trans Fat. Much in the news. In New York City, bakers have been instructed to cut it from their foods. I don't know about you, but all these definitions of trans-this and trans-that make my eyes glaze over. I did figure out this much, though: The small amount of "natural" fat in butter is OK (whew!, just ate some) but it's the artificial stuff that will get you in trouble, likely causing you to drop over in your plate of a heart attack. Not to put too fine a point on it. This friend, a baker in Columbus, is a True Believer in the real butter thing, and other natural ingredients like milk. Her theory is that if we deprive ourselves of such natural foods and eat, say, celery all day, then our bodies will crave junk like bon-bons and we'll eat a hundred in one sitting. My friend is on to something because she does sample what she bakes, and she's not overweight.
Thoughts on this? (Send comments on the cage dance to Sonya, please.)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Prevention: Diabetes

Another spring-like day in my town, and the Riverwalk was calling my name. And it apparenty called many others' names, for the path was crowded this afternoon with joggers, walkers and cyclists. Got to thinking about diabetes, which is the fifth-leading cause of death in this country. Type 1, often called juvenile diabetes, is not preventable; you are born with it. The more common form is Type 2, which is most often associated with a sedentary lifestyle, being overweight and inactive. Both are controlled by various measures.
With Type 1, the body does not produce insulin. With Type 2, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin. Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use sugar. Sugar is the basic fuel for the cells in the body, and insulin takes the sugar from the blood into the cells. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it can cause two problems:
*Right away, your cells may be starved for energy.
*Over time, high blood glucose levels may hurt your eyes, kidneys, nerves or heart.
Thanks to The American Diabetes Association for the info.
Certain minority groups are at higher risk: African-Americans and Latinos and Hispanics are among them.
And, it was a shock to learn that a full 7 percent of the U.S. population has diabetes.
The American Diabetes Association Web site contains a wealth of information. Also, about a year ago, the New York Times ran a series of articles about the disease, which it described as epidemic, and which you can access here.
If you are not a Type 1 diabetic and have not been diagnosed with Type 2, the research says the best things you can do are keep active and maintain a healthy weight. See you outside. Unless it's raining, and unless we're at the gym.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Sleep and smell the roses

Have you read this latest report about how the scent of roses while you sleep can improve your memory? This report from the Associated Press tells it all. But, there's a catch: Apparently, jogging your memory while asleep only happens during one particular stage of sleep--and the rose smell triggers only certain memories. So if you're trying to remember the name of your uncle's cousin's dead cat, twice removed, this may not be the trick for you.
It's a pertinent story, given that we're about to lose an hour of sleep tonight (but we get it back in the fall).
Happy snoozing. And remember to "spring forward" your clocks later on.

Friday, March 9, 2007

The Picasso Cow

Spent the day in LaGrange, (Ga.) today, which is not pronounced as you non-Southerners may think--as if it were French, which it is--but a long "A" on 'Grange. Don't ask me why. ... Went to see a friend and killed some time beforehand in the quaint downtown. Growing up, even in a city bigger than LaGrange, we thought it was a big deal to go up there and shop. Partly because of the quaintness, I guess. Like many similar towns, the downtown part centers on a square, so you circle around the it (one way) in a car--think Paris!--and, you have to pay attention when on foot, around the traffic lights.
Ate at a fabulous restaurant called the Basil Leaf; then later, walking around, I spotted two more intriguing places: The Picasso Cow, and Charlie Joseph's. Just the name Picasso Cow caught my eye (though I didn't venture in, I found this photo on the Internet of a "real" Picasso cow); and Charlie Jospeh's is a lunch-counter type place, mostly with vinyl stools at a counter. On the menu: hamburgers and hotdogs, and notably a cheese sandwich for $1.75. On the walls: Coca-Cola memorabilia; yellowed newspaper clippings; and a funny sign: "If you are grouchy, irritable or just plain mean, there will be a $10 charge for putting up with you." If you don't feel like going inside, or perhaps if that day you are irritable, you can stand on the curb, and an employee opens this little plastic window and takes your order, then you pick it up and pay down at another plastic window. Very retro.
(As you may have noted, this post is only tangentially related to health and fitness--because it has to do with food--and not very healthy food at that.)

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Rub-a-dub dub

Suffer from PMS? Depression? Lower back pain?
Apparently, massage is seen as the latest thing to attack these ills, and more. This report from CNN details the benefits of massage. Some of the "bennies" may surprise you.
The obvious payoffs: loosening hard and pained muscles. The not-so obvious: your mood and your PMS. (I've long held the theory that men have PMS too; maybe not the actual condition but regular dips in mood. Men, what say you?)
Enjoy that massage.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Community health

Been thinking a lot about community health. On a health and fitness blog, it's an OK thing--and an expected one--to talk about foods that are good for you, fitness tips and extraordinary things like trans-fat-free cruises. But that is so micro (and actually very American). What food should go into MY mouth? What exercise is best for ME? Conversation at the refrigerator with self: "What kind of milk do I want with my Cheerios?" Conversation at the gym: "How many pushups should I do today?"
But do you ever think what sort of impact your own health choices make on the wider world? Does it matter to the community if you maintain a healthy lifestyle? To your spouse? Does it matter what kind of cereal you choose? In real dollars and cents? It matters on the one hand if you are a crack addict, refuse treatment, get kicked out of your group home and end up in a state-run institution. Taxpayers pay. It also matters, on the other hand, if you use your money to support charities that assist crack addicts and others in need. Someone comes off drugs and off the dole. Those are just financial examples, never mind other tolls.
What is public health? (Physical, emotional). How is it related to private?
And on a spiritual level: How do my innermost thoughts and decisions and prayers affect the wider circle? Should that matter to me? Within Christianity alone (which for the sake of argument we'll isolate since this blog comes from the Bible Belt), the myriad denominations vary in their emphasis on decision-making; is the group paramount or the person? In very, very general terms, groups that include the Quakers, for instance, are more communal-oriented than not (meaning decisions within the body are made with the whole in mind; think Catholic monastic communities); Baptists and Protestants less so; the "priesthood of the believer" is a key tenet there, similar to how individuality is celebrated in this country. Both (and all) systems have merit, unless of course you're a Jim Jones or David Koresh character but that's for another day.
All of which leads to this: Are we here merely to secure our own place, serve ourselves and see our way to a happy afterlife? To do our own pushups and sit-ups? Or, does "salvation" occur when, and only when, everyone has a chance to be well?
Micro and macro. Private health and public health. Both essential, and intertwined in intriguing and mysterious ways.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

5 dieting myths

Good morning.
Our friends at WebMd have this piece about 5 dieting myths. Of particular note is the section on carbs. Bucking conventional wisdom, the report says not all carbs are bad, or created equal. If you down carbs laden with sugar or white flour, that's not as healthy as, say, beans or brown rice. As with most things food-related, use common sense. If you need some more knowledge, check out the article.
Giving away my age, I was also bummed to discover from WebMD that my metabolism is going to change in about two years. Something to look forward to. ...

Monday, March 5, 2007

Emotional eating

There's a scene in the movie "Parenthood" where one of the characters, angry at her husband, sneaks into a closet and takes a big bite of a chocolate cupcake. A look of "I'll show you" covers her face. A new article from Prevention Magazine talks about "emotional eating," when we eat high-calorie foods to deal with powerful emotions or stress. And often, we do it without even thinking. The article says, If you need to grab a snack to deal with stress, make it fruit or something else low-cal. Check this out and let me know what you think.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

"Now I know y’all are crazy"

It's quintessential Paula Deen, a celebrity chef who lives in Savannah. Never one to hide her Southern drawl, Deen had this retort for a New York writer who said his city seemed lacking in pimento cheese. (A Southern staple, almost, and great comfort food.) Deen, along with her now-grown sons, is the mastermind behind "The Lady and Sons" line of cookbooks as well as a popular Savannah restaurant by the same name.
Click here for the story.
In April, Deen's memoir will come out (who doesn't have a memoir?). In it, she details her rise from a hardscrabble life to kitchen fame. Among the things she's overcome: agoraphobia (a fear of being out of one's immediate confines, such as the house), and poverty after she and her first husband divorced in the 1980s. At that time, Deen set out with $200 and kept a brown paper bag in her glove compartment, in which to take deep breaths during panic attacks — yesteryear's answer to Xanax.
Critics say she takes shortcuts in her cooking, that it's not REAL Southern preparation; her response is that most regular people who work don't have time for, say, boiling greens for four hours on the stove. And, having used "The Lady and Sons" books myself, I can attest that most of the recipes don't take long to prepare, and they are mighty tasty.
Here's Paula Deen's website and here's a recipe for pimento cheese. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 3, 2007

The cutting edge of mediocrity

That's the nickname of a blog out of Utah, which in my opinion is far from mediocre. What a great title.
In local news, parts of our town look like a war zone after a tornado came through Thursday night. We've not had one touch down here since the 1950s. Even when the weather sirens go off, most of us are pretty nonchalant. Not anymore. If you are the praying kind, please keep our town in your thoughts, and also Enterprise, Ala., which suffered multiple deaths around a high school.
In news of the sorta weird, this New York Times story is about a cruise line that has non-trans-fat food options. Though I've never been on a cruise, I'm thinking, "What's the point if you can't put on the feedbag?" A spokeswoman for Crystal Cruises said: “It is not just about weight control; it is about health and not clogging your arteries," adding that French fries and salad dressings would still be available, only now they will be prepared with trans-fat-free oils, like sesame, pumpkin, walnut and corn seed.

P.S. About the photo, compliments of Crystal Cruise Lines--this guy is probably whispering: "Honey, I'm so thankful that roll didn't have any real butter in it."

Thursday, March 1, 2007

So you want to start exercising?

As we noted the other day, spring has sprung in some parts of the country--including mine--and often that inspires people to get outdoors for a jog, bike ride, walk, cartwheels or whatever. Some folks will be doing this for the first time, or for the first time in a long while. But this site, with various links, offers wise tips for getting into shape. Topics include advice for seniors; and dealing with the intimidation factor. Consult your doctor if you have any major concerns.
On a side note: Saw a guy jogging on our Riverwalk the other day wearing a shirt that read: "I always get what I want." Hmmmmm.