Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pink Slime is Packed with Protein

When you see this picture, what comes to mind?

A. Pink slime
B. Lean beef - full of protein, iron, B vitamins, magnesium and other nutrients

If you said B, you're correct.

The photo is lean finely textured beef - a mix of fatty beef by-products and connective tissue, ground up and treated with ammonium hydroxide (used commonly to also make foods such as chocolate) and then blended with ground beef. It is completely safe and natural, according to the USDA.  It is cheaper than other beef, too.

Yet many national news sources have portrayed it to be as disgusting and harmful as it looks.

Because it is all over the news, the USDA has now given in and told schools that they don't have to serve the product - it is their choice. Several grocery chains have chosen to stop selling the meat. The plant that makes it has temporarily suspended production at 3 of 4 plants, to try to deal with their loss in revenue.

Come on people, just because something looks gross doesn't mean it is harmful or not nutritious. A few examples:

Chicken gizzards: high in protein and potassium and low in fat

Low fat cottage cheese: High in protein, minerals and B vitamins

This week, the manufacturer of "pink slime" created a new website BeefIsBeef.com, to try to set the facts straight about their product.

Here is my attempt to spread the word:

A few quotes:
“It’s safe, it’s leaner than other beef sources on the market, and it’s less costly.” - Kevin Concannon, USDA undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer sciences

"The process used to produce LFTB is safe and has been used for a very long time. And adding LFTB to ground beef does not make that ground beef any less safe to consume." USDA, Dr. Elisabeth Hagen

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Hunger Games Tribute: 8 Best Outdoor Survival Workouts

As many of you probably are, I am deep into the book "The Hunger Games" this week, trying to finish it before the movie comes out this weekend. It has completely pulled me in. It is such an intriguing storyline and the author, Suzanne Collins, has such a simple, yet captivating way of writing. Plus, I have really taken a liking to how bad ass the main character, Katniss is. All of her hunting, archery and running has me truly inspired to be more outdoorsy.

So, in honor of Katniss, here are the best ways to burn calories, while being super bad ass (according to this calorie calculator and me).

Calorie-Torching Survival Workouts

Activity (for 15 minutes)          Calories Burned (for 130 lb woman)
Running (7 mph)                        170
Rock climbing                            162
Swimming (vigorously)             144
Rowing (vigorously)                  129
Chopping wood                          90
Hiking                                         88
Hunting                                       74
Archery                                       51

Now you can see why it is called "The Hunger Games." I'm hungry just thinking about how much energy it takes to survive.

What is your favorite "survival" workout?
Can you think of one that I forgot to list?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

More White Rice = Greater Risk of Diabetes

Sorry for the long hiatus. Work and visitors took priority these last few weeks! I'm starting back up again, short post for today but I'll get back into it.
So, I am not sure if you enjoy Chipotle like I do ... especially after a really hard workout. It isn't the healthiest, but if you order bowl instead of a burrito, and get rid of the sour cream and cheese, it isn't bad.


That's why when they added brown rice to their menu (their attempt to make their food healthier) a few months ago I was pretty excited. I like white rice, but brown rice just tastes better to me.

Turns out, white rice does its damage, too. The more white rice you eat, the greater your risk of Type 2 diabetes, according to a new study. Because white rice has little nutrients, such as fiber, magnesium and vitamins, eating a lot of it may means not getting enough of those nutrients. The increase in risk for diabetes is pretty drastic, too. The study authors estimate that the risk increases by 10 percent with each additional 158g serving.

So looks like I actually prefer something that is better for me, for a change.

How about you - white or brown?

Do you love Chipotle as much as I do?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Top 10 Reasons I Cross Train

I have to say, I was pretty motivated this week. This was my first week back on a running/biking schedule since ... well, let's just say a long time. I signed up for the Strasburg Duathlon (5K run, 30K bike, 5K run) on April 14 and the Alexandria Half Marathon on May 27. Meaning that until April 14, I will be training both on the bike and off. (My goal for both races is to beat my PR.) This may seem difficult, because I'll have to fit in both a long run and a long ride every weekend, and shorter runs, one short ride and yoga during the week. But I think it will be really good for me to have more than one goal until the final weeks leading up to the half. I have seen the benefits of cross training before - I lost some weight in 2010 doing a boot camp, and, in turn, I got my 5K PR that summer.

So, instead of writing about health news today, rather, I'll write about what health news has taught me about the benefits of cross training. Because I'm no expert, I'm not going to write these as why "you" should cross train, but rather why I cross train. This is what five years of running has taught me.

Top 10 Reasons Why I Cross Train

It prevents overuse injuries. If you're actively cross training, you're spending less time doing your sport, meaning that you're less likely to overuse your muscles in a week. Runner's World
2 It allows you to do other sports you enjoy. So, yes, you love running. But how about hiking? Rock climbing? Swimming? You don't have to give those up. For me, swimming/yoga once a week is refreshing for me when I'm training for a half marathon.
3 It challenges your muscles. "Our bodies tend to perform harder if we challenge our muscles by varying the workout and its intensity." WebMD
4 It lessens the pressure. I find that when I get really really into training for a race, I often forget that I enjoy running. Adding other activities into my week makes me less like I am on a strict "schedule."
5 It is rehabilitating. Your muscles enjoy the break. Runner's World
6 It keeps you moving during recovery days. If you don't feel like sitting still for a full day when training for an event, cross training allows you to have an active day on your "off" day. Runner's World
7 It keeps you motivated. Cross training prevents you from getting bored with your activity of choice by breaking up your workout routine. "Tenable us to maintain motivation in physical exercise, we need to keep it fresh and enjoyable!" WebMD
8 It prevents muscle imbalances. It works other muscle groups than normal activity, balancing your body out. Cyclists could use a good swim or two to build back muscles. Runner's with tight hamstrings can benefit from yoga. 
9 It is challenging. When you are constantly doing one activity, your body gets used to it. Cross training is hard because it pushes your body out of its comfort zone. When you alter your routine, you confuse your muscles and make them work harder.
10 It makes you stronger all over. While performing your activity of choice may help you build the muscles that are directly related, cross training makes you more powerful overall by strengthening complimentary muscles. Runner's World

What do you think?
How many times a week do you cross train when training for an event or when in-season for your sport?
Has your performance improved because you cross train?

Cheeseball picture before my ride yesterday.
Weekend Word:
Eating Citrus Fruit May Lower Women's Stroke Risk
9-year-old dies after being forced to run 3 hours after lying about eating a candy bar
Physical Activity Keeps Workers Mentally Fit

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tight Clothes and Shoes Hurt Your Health, FDA backs Diet Pill, Pregnant Exercise is Safe ... in Today's Talkers

That cinched belt, those skinny jeans and those tall high heels sure look cute, but they could be doing more damage than good. The question is, would you rather be stylish, or sickly? Tight Ties, Killer Heels: Clothes Make the Fashion Victims This article was so interesting and explained how tight belts can give you leg pains, skinny jeans can interfere with digestion and cause nerve compression, and high heels can destroy your feet.

Big news in the drug world this week: FDA Advisory Board Backs Weight Loss Drug. If the FDA approves the pills, it would be the first time in 13 years.

Oh, and I so wish I had a smart phone, just so I could get this new running zombie app. It is an interactive zombie apocalypse game for runners. (And I don't know about you, but the show The Walking Dead has me loving zombies lately)

And although this was known before, a new study shows that : Exercise in Pregnancy Safe for Baby. What is different about this study is that it proves that exercise is OK for women, whether or not they were active before they got pregnant. And it says that vigorous exercise is OK if you can handle it, too.

One more ... Fructose not Linked to Extra Weight Gain

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Gluten-free whaaa? Celiac disease, gluten sensitivities and diet fads explained

I meet more and more people who have celiac disease, and, after talking to each of them, it definitely sounds like a hard lifestyle. They have to watch every single thing they put in their mouth, as gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley) is in just about everything. Going to a restaurant is particularly hard, because although servers may think that their items are gluten-free, they could easily not be aware of a simple ingredient.

I know that some people have sensitivities to gluten, too. More and more people are choosing gluten-free lifestyles, although what I would call "public knowledge" about gluten is still relatively low. I was interested in finding this Web MD article explaining all about the diet trend, the different types of sensitivities and celiac disease.

The article says that, while gluten-free diets may surely be a trend, for some people this disease and sensitivity is very real. Did you know that one percent of the population - meaning one in every 100 people - have celiac disease from gluten?

Just thought I would share!

Do you know anyone who lives a gluten-free lifestyle?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Supportive Husbands and Wives Can Make You Happier at Your Job

Well, this is fitting, given Valentine's Day and such ...

A new study out this week shows that people who have strong "spousal support" see the following benefits (this is copied right from this Medical News Today story, where more are listed):
  • 30 percent lower likelihood of experiencing guilt associated with home/family neglect;
  • 30 percent lower likelihood of being critical of others (spouse, children) at home;
  • 25 percent lower likelihood of experiencing fatigue at home after work;
  • 20 percent higher views that their careers were heading in the right direction; and
  • 20 percent higher level of job satisfaction.
These are just some of the benefits - the ones that stuck out to me. It is interesting that all of this - job satisfaction, fatigue, guilt - can all be associated with having strong support.

The study author also goes to say that the qualities of a supportive husband or wife include understanding the demands of the other's job, not trying to "one-up" the other's bad day, and creating an understanding that communication lines are always open.

From what I've found - this is definitely something that is hard to do - especially when both people are stressed. I'm not married, but I'm assuming this would sort-of apply to those in long-term relationships who are living with one another :). I have been so so stressed from work the last few months, and I do forget to thank James sometimes for keeping me sane. I am lucky to have him as a "spouse!"

What do you think about this study? Does your happiness/stress level depend on someone else?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Working Out at 20 Means Strong Bones at 60

There is something to say about developing a healthy lifestyle when you are young. A new study conducted by the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden found that people who exercised often when they were between the age of 19 and 24 had stronger bones and less fractures later in life.

(I thought I should note that this group came to this finding after studying 800 or so Swedish men, so it may not directly apply.)

I think about my workout habits often, and if they will continue as I get older and get more responsibilities (and a slower metabolism). I definitely go through phases. In the last year, I have probably worked out an average of 3-5 times a week. Before I left AZ, I was probably working out 6-7 times a week. I’m busier out here, and I’ve failed to set goals for myself like half marathons or 5Ks.

I’m hoping that by developing a habit of working out when I’m young, it will help me continue to work out when am older.

I may have an advantage because I really do like running (and hiking and biking) …
At Old Rag Mountain in Va.

So it is more of a hobby for me than a chore.

But, I know that it is easy to get lazy and just stop working out altogether. I’m hoping that I can always convince myself how important it is.

How much do you believe that exercising now will help later?
Are there activities that you think you could never give up?
More health news …
Pregnant women work out more if they care for a dog
No more jumbo Snickers ... Mars candy reduces candy sizes

Today’s Talkers ... Mediterranean Diet Good for Heart, Friends Help Teen Girls Get Healthy and more

You’ll only exercise if you really want to … Motivation to Exercise Affects Behavior

Scientists are experimenting with ways to get teens healthy … What’s the Best Way to Help Teen Girls Control Their Weight?

Swapping sugary drinks with water and diet soda helped study participants lose 4-5 pounds in 6 months … Want to lose weight? Trade sugary drinks for water

Eating a diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts reduces the damage to small blood vessels in the brain ... Mediterranean Diet Might Be Healthier for Brain

No matter how long a kid sits and plays video games, a new study shows that getting just 30 minutes of exercise a day makes kids healthier … Any Exercise Benefits Kids' Heart Health: Study

And some heart news for a late Valentine’s Day
Love, Chocolate Good for the Heart, Says Cardiologist
Why Love is Good For Your Heart

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ice Baths: Good For The Legs, If You're a Crazy Runner

I remember the first time I sat in a bathtub filled with ice with my running shorts on.

That was the day that I officially declared myself crazy.

It's all in the good nature of the sport, but, man, runners do have some strange cure-alls. I remember I had attempted to ease in at first, but then discovered that it was impossible, so I just plopped down. Ooh, those first five minutes are bad. You try to think of other things, but your brain won't allow it. (Something like "I wonder what I'll eat for ... AHH MY LEGS.) After a while, it all goes numb. It hurts so good.

Looks like fun.
I know that ice baths make my legs feel better for the rest of that day, but I've never truly been able to measure how much it helps the next day, and the next. I know that many runners swear by this, but does it actually work?

Some studies before have proven that it does (Although many of the studies are contradictory). This month, one study has concluded that ice baths absolutely help you recover. The study, published in The Cochrane Library this month, compared the muscle soreness of those who took an ice bath following strenuous activity and those who didn't. The study authors found that the baths help decrease muscle soreness one, two and three days after a muscle-fatiguing workout. It is especially true for what the authors call "running-based exercises." I'm pretty sure this means running, but who knows.

Runner's World agrees. This article states, "Cryotherapy ("cold therapy") constricts blood vessels and decreases metabolic activity, which reduces swelling and tissue breakdown. Once the skin is no longer in contact with the cold source, the underlying tissues warm up, causing a return of faster blood flow, which helps return the byproducts of cellular breakdown to the lymph system for efficient recycling by the body."

In their study, ice bath recovery wasn't compared to a warm bath, light jogging, or compression socks.The authors also acknowledged that they aren't sure if ice baths are particularly safe (considering they do cause the body to go into a state of shock). The authors of the new study noted that there needs to be a lot more done to look into the affects of ice baths, and I agree.

Do you use ice baths to recover from long runs or other exercises? If so,  how cold, how much ice, etc?

Do you feel better the next day if you take an ice bath?