A health and fitness blog: With an occasional food item

Friday, June 29, 2007


Michael's Moore's film "Sicko" opens nationwide today. The reviews, including this one, say it's part funny, part sad. I plan to see for myself Sunday.
It's part sad because people with regular ol' health insurance often can't catch a break in this country. If you're unlucky enough to be, say, in a car wreck, as was a friend of mine five years ago, you end up paying doctor bills FOR YEARS. (Unless, of course, you are wealthy, which this friend is not.) Another friend in his early 60s can't retire because he can't afford the hundreds of dollars per month in insurance premiums. And, people actually die because they are "out of network." If you don't have health insurance, along with about 47 million other Americans, that's a crime in itself; and if you're uninsured and get treated at a city/county emergency room, we all pay for that, too, via taxes.
In the interest of being "fair and balanced," if you would just as soon Michael Moore get sick and die, you might like this site.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Get off the fence

Did y'all see this?
It seems if you're in a relationship that would classify as "hot-cold," it could adversely affect your physical health. Whether a romantic interest or friendship, such relationships could literally be fatal. Does your friend offer support one day but ignore you the next? Are they overly critical, then shower you with attention? A clarifying conversation may help, or as a friend of mine used to say: Fish or cut bait. Thoughts?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

An ounce of prevention ...

This guy and his company are on to something.
What is it about us as individuals, as communities and as a country that generally snubs prevention? That is seemingly more attracted to crisis? "What do you mean I have lung cancer, doc? I only smoked three packs a day." (Not to berate the smokers. We all have vices that can cause problems down the road.) But, hands down, crises cost more than regular maintenance.
What's your favorite prevention tip? An apple a day? Regular exercise? Discuss.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Calorie fest

A friend once commented about New Orleans: "I don't know why everyone there isn't a 300-pound alcoholic."
Just back from Savannah, where I wondered the same thing.
Granted, I was visiting for only two nights, so I felt like I had to "suck the marrow out of life," as Thoreau would say, but it quickly became the Tour-de-Calorie. In such a situation, you can either a) fold up the menu and say, "I'll have the salad;" or b) "bring me one of everything." Our choices tended toward the latter.
After my friends got off work Friday, we went to this great place called Dewey's on Tybee Island. Wow. Some might call it a dive, because of the "laid-back" decor (see photo of bus parked in the yard); but dives often have the best food. Very eclectic and right on the water. Then Saturday morning, we started out at Panera Bread Co. because both friends had to get a haircut nearby.
Wife of the couple and I then hit downtown Savannah, where we managed to eat a light lunch in a cool area called the Market. (Also passed by people standing in line at Paula Deen's place,
but Deen--being smart--has those little water spritzers on the awning working ever so gently on the poor suckers who are wilting outside. Genius. Because it was about 95 degrees yesterday in the shade.)
Last night we ate at a great place on Isle of Hope, overlooking the water, watching schools of fish pass by in the marsh and stuffing our respective faces with dishes such as shrimp and grits. The Friends cooked breakfast this morning. Then I braced myself for what might be the most boring stretch of road in all of Georgia: I-16 between Savannah and Macon. In case you're wondering, there are 257 million pine trees between here and there.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Going south

Tomorrow I head here. And I hope to eat some of this.
Or this.
Funny how we get older, the more we think about food. (Especially while exercising, I've found.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Financial health

Happy Hump-day.
How financially healthy are you? Take this quiz to find out.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Fashionable but deadly

This recent article in the New York Times came as a shock to me, given that my biggest vice is a glass of red wine with dinner. Not that I'm shocked that people do drugs--even in Sleepy Columbus, Ga.--but this apparent casualness about cocaine surprised (and saddened) me immensely. One guy is quoted as saying, "I'll take a gram of coke and make half a million dollars," to justify how cocaine puts him at the "top of his game" in finance, and if he needs a little boost before a big meeting. Oddly, people at these parties act all self-righteous about someone who pulls out a cigarette, as if snorting coke is no big deal.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

For Fathers

Sherman made the terrible discovery that men make about their fathers sooner or later ... that the man before him was not an aging father but a boy, a boy much like himself, a boy who grew up and had a child of his own and, as best he could, out of a sense of duty and, perhaps love, adopted a role called Being a Father so that his child would have something mythical and infinitely important: a Protector, who would keep a lid on all the chaotic and catastrophic possibilities of life.
~ Tom Wolfe, "The Bonfire of the Vanities"

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Myth busters

Happy weekend.
Here are some health myths tackled by various docs. It seems Mom wasn't always right.
For instance, the adage "starve a fever, feed a cold" is not really true. And if you sit too close to the TV, you probably won't go blind (unless you stab yourself in the eye with a sharp object.)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Brilliant way to deal with annoying people

So, Husband spent a chunk of Day 1 of a four-day weekend waiting on a tow truck; waiting on his truck to be fixed; and listening to and watching an annoying man in the lobby of the mechanic's who had obviously never met a stranger. Said annoying man apparently spends many of his waking hours in this particular shop, whether his car is broken or not. After jawing at one woman, she finally got up and walked someplace else while waiting on her car. Then the man started on Michael. Not happy that his day off was being spent this way, he turned to the guy and said, "I'm sorry, but I don't speak English." The man didn't do irony. He turned and walked away. Brilliant. Try it sometime.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Water wars

So I wheeled into one of our coffee shops this afternoon to buy a bottle of water--the brand doesn't matter--and it was more than $1.25. Egads. And the male cashier, who was a hoot, said, "I used to think these were a scam."
"I did, too," I said. And part of me still does. (Did you know that the brand name Evian is Naive spelled backwards? Think about it.) The guy might still think buying cold water is a scam, but then he said, "But when I'm thirsty, it's just ... right there." God knows what we used to do in the old days when we had to actually WALK to the water fountain at work and fill up a plastic cup or glass, or get ice out of the freezer at home and actually turn on the kitchen faucet.
I've read reports in which dentists say we're missing flouride in the bottled varieties. Which may explain why I had 2 cavities last year (Nos. 2 and 3) and I had not had one in 26 years. Hmmm.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

PTs for pre-t's?

That's shorthand for physical trainers for pre-teens. This Newsweek piece extols the virtues of personal trainers for kids, whether they're pre-teens or adolescents. I see them in the gym where I'm a member, all the time. These three kids today, for instance, were working on speed work with their feet. (I say "kids" but one of them is at least 18; but compared to this old lady, they're kids.) A father quoted in the story says he wanted his son to work with a trainer to learn how to use weights properly. Understood. And smart. But the ones I worry about are the hyper-parents, who want their already all-star athlete to work harder, harder, harder--in the name of competing with the other all-stars--and burn them out before they even have a chance to be kids.
Internet, what say you?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Knowing our fruits

An alert reader pointed out that my cherry cheesecake recipe ran with a photo of a cheesecake with strawberries on top. Mea culpa. Here is a more accurate picture.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Frying eggs on the sidewalk

Maybe a slight exaggeration, but not much. Earlier today, weatherchannel.com reported it was 95 degrees in our little hamlet but that it "feels like 93."
(And what exactly does that mean? Like 2 degrees cooler makes you need a jacket? Internet, hot weather does not make me a happy person.) Then again, I have some friends riding in this.
So maybe I should just be thankful to be sitting in the AC next to Evil Cat.
Some friends ask me every year: When are you going to do BRAG? Here is what I say: When they move it out of June; when I can afford to rent a motel room every night, in addition to the entry fee; and when they provide everyone a personal masseuse at the end of each day.

Friday, June 8, 2007

New York cherry cheesecake

OK, pretend this isn't a health and fitness blog. Just for once. (Plus it's Friday and the foodies come out on the weekends.) I found this recipe for a New York Cherry Cheesecake, while cleaning out my glove compartment. Of all places. Here 'tis:
Prep: 15 minutes plus refrigerating. Bake: 1 hour, 5 minutes

1 c. Honey Maid graham cracker crumbs
3 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
5 pkg. (8 oz. per) Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
1 c. sugar
3 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 c. Breakstone or Knudsen Sour Cream
4 eggs
Garnish: 1 can (20 oz.) pie filling

Mix crumbs, 3 Tbsp. sugar and butter; press firmly onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes. Beat cream cheese, 1 c. sugar, flour and vanilla with electric mixer until well-blended. Add sour cream. Mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended. Pour over crust. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour, 5 minutes or until center is almost set. Loosen cake from rim of pan. Cool before removing rim. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Spread cheery pie filling over cheesecake and garnish with chocolate curls (optional) just before serving.
Makes 16 servings.

Thursday, June 7, 2007


Did Carly Simon sing a song called "Motivation"? Or was it "Anticipation"?
Either way, anticipating exercise and deciding to get under way each time can be at least half the battle. This article, by Oprah Winfrey's personal trainer, offers some tips to stay motivated. Bob Greene says: Plug in some rockin' music. Try at least to LIKE what you're doing; if you LOVE it, all the better. Add some time to routine activities such as going to the mall or grocery shopping. Remember, 30 minutes of hard-charging cardio (several times a week) is all you need. Doing more? So much the better.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Calorie calculation

To check on your favorite exercise and how many calories it burns, click here. The last "exercise" on the list made me laugh: Writing. (And don't you think SITTING while writing would subtract from the calories you burn? Too bad there's not a "writing while cyling" category, or how about "writing while fencing?")

Sunday, June 3, 2007

The art of saying goodbye

Because our friend Beverley was laid to rest Saturday, saying goodbye is very much on my mind. A wise professor years ago encouraged us to learn to say goodbye, for saying that well helps us--and other people--move on. It takes out the denial element that is such a temptation: "I refuse to say goodbye because I know we will see each other later." (Whether after death or meeting up after a move.)
Saying goodbye, voicing what people mean to us, acknowledges that life will not be the same. Again, this isn't always because someone is dying or has died. It can be that your best friend is moving to China. That your dog's puppies are going to new homes. That your child is changing schools. A ritual such as writing the person a letter (or better yet talking to them in person) helps us in the later, painful days to remember. The writer Art Buchwald (pictured above) penned such a letter, printed in the Washington Post after his death this year. Poignant.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Podcast: Weight training

In this Podcast, a doc from the Mayo Clinic talks about the benefits of weight training. You can listen here. Among other benefits, training with weights helps you burn fat. And, you don't need a lot of time for it--several times a week at 20-30 minutes per session.
Lift away!