A health and fitness blog: With an occasional food item

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Just in time for Halloween: Soda that tastes like candy corn, among other limited-edition assortments by Jones Soda. I only know this because my friend and co-worker Sandra Okamoto brought around Halloween goodie bags to all of us in her/our department. Hope she's not offended that I don't drink mine; my stomach turns when I pass by batches of the REAL candy corn. Any takers? E-mail me at work if you want this stuff and I will personally deliver it to you. (But only if you live in Columbus or Phenix City. If not I will mail it): AKennedy(at)Ledger-Enquirer.com. I hate to waste food or drink.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Ethical dilemmas

So this doctor was in Columbus today from "up the road," in Atlanta. Dr. Nicolas Krawiecki, associate professor of neurology and pediatrics at Emory, is also a renowned ethicist on end-of-life issues — when to take someone off life support? How to balance the physician's knowledge of disease and the dying process with the patient's and family's?
Quite an interesting talk he gave, followed by a panel that included a chaplain, a nurse administrator, a surgeon and hospital lawyer.
The most fascinating thing to me was the collaboration aspect of such weighty decisions. Used to be, Krawiecki told me, the physician's word was law. "This is what is going to happen, no questions asked." Not that doctors are left out of consultations now, but more weight is spread among patients and their families and other support systems. (I imagine part of that has to do with malpractice suits.) The pendulum swings.
He included a quote from one Dr. Bernard Lown, professor emeritus of cardiology at Harvard: "Americans are the only people who think that death is optional."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Salazar unplugged

Here's a guy I'd never heard of: Alberto Salazar. What a cool name, too. Like Ricardo Montalvan.
(Around the time he was setting records running marathons, I was entering the naval-gazing phase of life called High School. No wonder I missed him.) We at the Spin Cycle, who prefer to cycle, are amazed by runners. We have a few friends who are serious runners and who themselves run marathons. But it's not in our nature. Hat's off to them.
Salazar flamed out relatively young and survived depression and a heart attack. Now he's coaching up-and-comers and working at Nike. Interesting fellow.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

This is way cool

It has nothing to do with health and fitness, but what the heck, sometimes you have to live on the razor's edge. :)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Extra fruit

Check this out, about how some people in Portland are harvesting fruit in plain view:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Why we love George

... Foreman, that is.
Internet, I cannot believe we've not posted about how much we love our George Foreman Grill in this house. It's such an American appliance: It cooks most everything within 5-7 minutes. Hardly any waiting. Sometimes it can be a pain to clean, but the efficiency makes up for all that scraping and dirty paper towels.
If you are Michael's doctor, quit reading here.
Tonight we grilled steaks. Very thick, marinated steaks from a local place called Burt's Butcher Shoppe. They'd have been better on the outside grill, of course, (and my husband is The Grill Master) but when you're eyeing dinner preparation at nearly 7 o'clock, George is a fine handyman to have around.
Anyone out there have good ideas for food on the George?

Monday, October 22, 2007

A 'latte' decisions

"The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat ... So people who don't know what the hell they're doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino."
--Joe Fox (Tom Hanks), "You've Got Mail (1998)

This quote came to mind recently as I have delved--albeit, tepidly--into the world of specialty coffees. Not at home, where we start the day with "regular" coffee. But most every day about mid-morning, as that is wearing off, I have found myself staring at the endless menu boards at various local beaneries. I know what kind of drink I like (from another movie that stars Meg Ryan: "I know it like you know a good melon"); but equating a taste with something printed on a board? It might as well be in Chinese.
So my new best friend, a barista down the street from the office, has been patient and coached me in what to say. This feels like a breakthrough. I almost feel like I've re-learned how to speak.
Here's what I like: Mocha Frappalatte. ("Mocha Frap" for short.) A real peppy drink.
Who, exactly, came up with all these coffee variations? Mocha. Espresso. Latte. Cappuccino. Skinny latte. Likely, he or she is sitting happily on a beach in the Bahamas with a brimming Swiss bank account, sipping, of course, one jolt of java after another.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Low-fat chili

Here's a great chili recipe. I may have posted this before, but for those of you just joining us, it'll be new.

12 oz. ground beef (Three-fourths pound)
Half-cup chopped green pepper
One cup onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
2-3 tsp. chili powder
One-fourth tsp. black pepper
1 can (15 oz.) dark red kidney beans (rinsed and drained)
1 can (14.5 oz.) tomatoes (cut up)
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
One-half tsp. dried basil, crushed

In large saucepan, cook ground beef, onion, green pepper and garlic--until meat is brown and onion is tender. Drain. Replace in pot and stir in kidney beans, tomatoes and sauce. Then added spices. Bring to boiling then simmer for 20 min. Makes 4 servings.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

'Burning' questions answered

This article in Men's Journal, offers a non-traditional way of looking at exercise and burning calories. The general theory is that you lose a pound when you burn 3,700 calories (which is the equivalent). But if you work out like a madman, only to pig out afterward, and/or collapse on the couch, you defeat the purpose. And you might not get around to doing other calorie-burning activities you would normally do (such as walking the dog), because you're so pooped from the workout.
Just so you know, Internet, I am preaching to the choir that includes myself. Like a friend of mine says about himself, I work out partly so I can eat like I do.

Friday, October 19, 2007

This is good to know

The brand of toilet tissue in our women's room at work is called Reliable. Noted.
Happy Friday, Internet.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

That's nuts!

Today's foodie topic: The benefits of nuts. Gerald Gau, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic weighs in, in this piece about such benefits. Even though nuts are high in fat and calories, they also are heart-friendly. (In moderation, of course.)
Internet, what kind of nut is your favorite?
Me? Unsalted cashews.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

More about 'Sparky'

A recent review in the The New Yorker is about the late Charles Schulz, aka Sparky. Quite an interesting guy, with much of his work autobiographical. His life reinforces the theory that when you scratch beneath the surface of most of us, we're pretty complex and complicated. (For instance, despite his marriage, he had unfinished business with an early love, who shows up in "Peanuts.") And his fame and drive were reportedly overcompensation for a feeling of inadequacy as a child. What a talent, though. "Peanuts," at least for me, was a magical escape into a world where a dog and his friends ruled the world.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Kids, don't try this at home

My co-worker Brad Barnes passed along this recipe. He's writing a column about it for tomorrow's paper.
Here in the Deep South, we are prone to fry anything. ANY. THING.
In that spirit, here's a recipe for fried celery:
Ingredients: 1 bunch of celery
2 tsp. corn flour
150 ml milk (.0338 fl oz)
7 Tbsp. flour
Oil for deep frying
Salt and pepper to taste
Method: Wash the celery and cut into 2-inch pieces. In a bowl of milk, gradually add the flour and corn flour, taking care that no lumps form. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
In a pot of boiling water, place the celery for hardly a minute and drain out the water. Then heat oil in a pan. Dip celery in the batter and fry until light brown. Drain and serve immediately.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Personal vs. private

In a sermon this evening, our bishop made a distinction between personal and private--he meant it on the faith level, eg, that one's faith in God is deeply personal but it can never be private. And that faith was meant to be shared and shaped in community.
For the purpose of this blog, I'd argue the same is true if you are a person of faith or not. Despite the American notion of the rugged individualist (which he also mentioned), we can never really go it alone. We might think we can. It is a terribly romantic idea--that we are strong in and of ourselves and don't need anyone. But the truth is, we are stronger when we're part of a community. That can mean a marriage or a church or one or two good friends or a business support group or AA, or what have you.
There's also a danger, too--that TOO MUCH community can make one whacky. Think of the cults (or cult-like groups) you have known, where a group of individuals, in an effort to belong, sign on then lose their souls. Sometimes we don't know who we are, apart from one person or group of people.
Seems that there can be a healthy swing of a pendulum in which you are willing to stand apart from the community if you have to, but also to recognize the real need of one, or at least a healthy one.
(All of which reminds me of an engagement party some friends threw for us in 2003. Near the end, my mom read a poem in front of the group. Its message was that in order to be strong together we had to be strong apart. "Maintain your separateness," or some such. It seemed to put a lot of stock in standing apart. Then Michael asked a pertinent question: "OK, but can she move in with me?")
Internet, what do you think of all this?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Take the age test

Take this cool quiz to calculate your "real" age, based on nutrition, exercise and other lifestyle habits. Mine came out to be 102.
Just kidding.

P.S. You have to put in an e-mail address and it sends it back to you, within 1-2 hours. Also make sure you keep scrolling through all the screens. There are at least 10.

Friday, October 12, 2007


"Yoga means bringing together mind, body and spirit, but in Western yoga, we've distilled it down to body," says Shana Meyerson, a yoga instructor in Los Angeles. "That's not even yoga anymore. If the goal is to look like Madonna, you're better off running or spinning."
Meyerson is among those featured in a recent Time cover story on yoga. Though all the rage, with more people taking courses, this piece outlines the downsides: it's relatively non-beneficial if you're looking for a calorie burn; and if you aren't used to exercising or stretching, it can do damage.
Read on.
And happy Friday.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


This post comes from Arthur Agatston, M.D., a cardiologist who's writing about last weekend's Chicago marathon and the guy who died from it. Though the man had a heart condition, this doc thinks the weather conditions (unusually hot and humid) were the culprit.
Agatston offers tips in exercising in the heat.
Anyone want to weigh in?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


"I wonder if that was how forgiveness budded, not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night."
--The Kite Runner

Heard this beautiful quote the other day. Though it's from a different context, I think of friends who have lost loved ones--unexpectedly--in the past few days. Two friends, who are parents, had their baby girl delivered stillborn over the weekend. Another friend, after hearing of the death of his mother (which was more timely, given her age), received news that his brother died just hours later while jogging. So our friend is going to Texas first to deal with his brother's family, and funeral, then on to St. Louis to attend his mom's.
Grief has no rules. It hits us all at one time or other. It's not just death that brings grief, of course, but these sudden ones are on my mind. Grief has its own time. Years ago, a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay brought comfort to me. It begins: "Time does not bring relief: you all have lied." (from "Soliloquy"). This offers sustenance to those of us who think grief has an end. Not really. Life may go on in expected ways--doing laundry, running errands, perhaps remarrying after the death of a spouse--but there will always be pain. (While I do think there are healthy ways to grieve, in order to move on, I'm also not a fan of the concept of "closure." If you loved someone, that person will always be part of you.)
So to those of us who grieve: Take your time. Be patient. Cry. You don't have to meet a deadline in this.
Internet, what has helped you at such times?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

"In all my years ..."

I have never seen someone exercising on a unicycle. But I did today, on our Riverwalk. By the time I got to roughly the 8-mile mark, I met up with this group of cyclists from Alabama; and they told me they'd met a woman on a unicycle who'd ridden 15 miles already. A few minutes later, she came by and was headed back toward town, another 8 miles. I'm thinking, If you exercise on a unicycle a) your legs are in great shape and b) so are your abs.
So I did some checking. Here's some info, according to our friends over at Wikipedia.com:
Unicycles are composed of a few key parts: the wheel (which includes the tire, tube, rim, spokes, hub and axle), the cranks, pedals, fork-style frame, seatpost, and saddle (the seat of the unicycle). The wheel is usually similar to a bicycle wheel with a special hub designed so the axle is a fixed part of the hub. This means the rotation of the cranks directly controls the rotation of the wheel (called direct drive). The frame sits on top of the axle bearings, while the cranks attach to the ends of the axle. The seatpost links the frame to the saddle.
There are many different types of unicycles, which can include (but are not limited to): freestyle unicycles, trial unicycles, MUnis, giraffes, and long distance unicycles, which all have special components unique to that type of unicycle.
The unicycle's history began with the invention of the bicycle. Comte De Sivrac first developed bicycles during the late 18th century. His device, called a celerifere, was a wooden horse that had two wheels joined by a wooden beam. Germany’s Baron von Drais improved the design by adding a steering mechanism and introduce his Draisienne or Hobby Horse in 1818. Kirkpatrick Macmillan, a Scottish blacksmith, added cranks and pedals to the front wheel in 1839, and called it the Velocipede. The first mass-produced riding machine, the Michaux Velocipede, was designed in 1863. In 1866, James Stanley invented a unique bicycle called the Penny Farthing with a very large front wheel and a small rear wheel. It is this vehicle that is thought to be the inspiration for the unicycle.

P.S. And wouldn't it just be a tad unfortunate if your name were Penny Farthing?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Letterman at McDonald's

Not that we at the Spin Cycle are advocating eating at McDonald's, but here's a funny video of David Letterman working the drive-in.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Drinking the yuppie Kool-aid?

Whole Foods. You might sneer at the so-called yuppie chain or love it (depending, perhaps, on your annual income.) Mark Morford here at SFGate.com has taken to love it, while at the same time poking good humor at the Texas-based success story. (That's Morford in the photo above.)
You do get sucked in, if you've ever been in a Whole Foods. Even if you don't need something on a particular aisle, you find yourself a voyeur. Wow, who knew there was something called organic shampoo? Who knew a rare steak could look that succulent?
There were rumors last year that we here in River City were getting one. But for now that's just rumor. There are quite a few up the street in Atlanta. Here's the current list of seven.
I dare you to get out for less than $20.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Sad or glad?

Andruw Jones, outfielder for the Atlanta Braves, won't get his contract renewed. He'll be released as a free agent after the World Series.
He's 30. He makes $70 million. (No, that's not a typo.) He's slumped, at least for the Bravos.
Follow this link to comment on the AJC story. Or, vent away here.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Imaginary playmates

Did you, Internet, ever have imaginary playmates? (I mean, as a child. Don't tell me if you have them now as an adult.) I did. Their names were the following: Poopsie Gardner and Mr. and Mrs. Sweep Broom. In my case, the neighborhood where I grew up contained only boys, plus my older brother. I could play with them to some extent but inevitably there would come a time when I'd start crying, or they'd beat me up or both (which, upon reflection, was good training for my current profession.) I was age 3 or 4. So I just made up people who would be nice to me, notably a couple of girls. I remember Poopsie the most vividly. Kind of resembled the Lucy character from "Peanuts." My parents tell me that I even had an elaborate system with my plastic toys in the bathtub (this is probably more than you wanted to know) in which I enacted scenes with the imaginary friends.
Whew, there's an article that validates this. Click here.
I think Poopsie and the Sweep Brooms went to live with another child, eventually, after a girl neighbor moved in down the street and I didn't so much need them anymore.
You know you had them yourself but were afraid to confess. Until now.