Sunday, April 13, 2014

Simon Says

Simon Says. It's truly a way to indoctrinate your children into mindless obedience. Simon is some guy who is constantly telling you what to do, and you better do it, or else... you lose. He tells you to sit, stand, and pat your stomach; then turn around, stop patting your stomach and then to sit down again. You MUST listen to Simon, but what you don't think about, is that it's not Simon telling you to do these things. The REAL a-hole is the guy telling you what Simon is supposedly saying.

What is a GMO? “Generally speaking, “GMO (genetically modified organism)” has come to refer to a living organism that contains a novel array of genetic material created or inserted through technological means.” Random insertions, deletions, and genetic mutations occur in every organism on Earth - naturally (naturally, meaning without human intervention). Now, scientists are using technology to reproduce it and make it seemingly more efficient.
So scientists could take the DNA from a chicken and insert it into a vegetable, to make it more visually appealing or physically stronger. However, DNA transfer does not always cross specy lines. Sometimes scientists will take DNA from a variety of apples and reproduce a genetically enhanced apple. Either way, it’s not natural, and that leaves a lot of people feeling uneasy; but, you can’t have a world where decisions are based on feelings. 

So, we must continue the discussion.
GMOs may be beneficial because they are cheaper to produce, and in theory, could solve world hunger. Some reports say that they use less pesticides as well. Less pesticides and more food for everyone. Great stuff, obviously. Anyone with a brain can see that GMOs are the way to the future. No ‘reputable source’ has found any significant dangers to genetic engineering of food. Some would say, if you don’t like GMOs, it’s because you’re ignorant and deny science.

There are a whole slew of reasons why GMOs are feared, but it mostly boils down to how they’re affecting us and the environment (I’ll leave the environmental issue for a true environmentalist).
When I think about GMOs, my brain goes:

My internal brain alert goes off because,
A) Genetic information is inserted or cross-bred into our food to make the food itself more pesticide/herbicide resistant. I don’t want to eat extractions of pesticides in my food.
B) It is hypothesized that people with sensitive digestive tracts are not tolerating these GE foods, which could be the cause of the increase in digestive system disorders or even have a correlation with Autism.
C) This could lead to problems with people who have food allergies; for example, if a person has a nut allergy and scientists use nut genes in a grape.

GMOs are not the first nutrition-related controversy. Scientific study after scientific study will tell you something different, whether it’s about GMOs, coffee, vegetarian diets, etc. The truth is, no one really knows anything for sure. Just like “Simon Says,” science can say whatever the portrayer wants it to say.

A wise man once said this, (watch video)
So yes, fool me once, and I won’t be fooled again.

In 1902, a scientist, Wilhelm Normann, found that adding hydrogen to vegetable oil would make it solid, creating trans fats in the process. This was said to be the savior of heart disease. It was a “healthy” plant-based fat. It was cheap and increased shelf-life of food, making food cheaper and easier to distribute world-wide (possibly solving world hunger?!).  Clearly, “science says” hydrogenated oil was a much better option than the alternative animal saturated fat. But science, dear, precious science, how have you steered us in the wrong direction? More than 100 years later, the FDA has proposed to change the classification of trans fats to no longer "generally recognized as safe.”

I don’t know how GMOs are effecting our health. I do know that they freak me out, but regardless of how they make me feel, it’s still an amazing scientific discovery that has the potential of providing cheap fruits/vegetables to people. However, I say, if you’re worried about people dying of starvation, maybe you should work on a solution for solving food waste. Some researchers estimate that one-third of food is wasted, and that eliminating food waste could feed an additional 2 billion people.
But morals and choices cannot be regulated. People want to eat GMOs because they’re cheap and people will always waste food because people are wasteful. Let them. All I can do is present you with some ideas, and hopefully you’ll think about what I said somewhere in between your flappy bird games.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

El Gimnasio

The gym is a truly magical place.
Sunlight and fresh air are incredibly overrated. When I’m done from a full day of work, there is nothing I want to do more than to go back inside and go to the gym. There’s nothing quite like going indoors, a place meant for shelter and comfort, and pushing myself to the point of perspiration alongside a multitude of other perspiring and likely staph-ridden human beings.
That 30 second walk from my car to the gym door provides me with enough vitamin D for...nothing, but there are pills for that, so I’m covered.
Gyms provide a place for high productivity. People get to lift weights efficiently to optimize muscular growth. Never in the history of mankind has this been more crucial. We must provide an environment where people can enhance their physical strength, because you never know when we will need our manliest men to rush into battle like a Spartan army or when we may run out of food and need a fierce group of hunters.

The gym is a great place to expend energy, because tasks such as yard work, remodeling, and any other types of manual labor, should be done by other people. Producing something by using muscles is not nearly as cool as having big muscles.
Gyms are my favorite place to go for mind stimulating conversations. The mind boggling discussions of leg vs arm day never gets old. I love being in a room full of highly educated athletes and listening to their take on overly processed protein-fluids.

Perhaps my favorite part of the gym is the genius behind the interior design. Mirrors on all walls? Again, efficient. Now gym goers don’t have to expend energy using their neck to look at other people’s bodies. It also allows people to properly critique their own flaws and their need for improvement on their physique.

The mirrors in the gym work as a reminder, that there is always need for improvement. Your body will never be perfect, and so, you must spend more time in the gym. Yes, there are people out in the world who are inventing things like suits that help paraplegics walk, practical methods of transportation for people in underdeveloped countries, and pens that specialize in 3D doodling… But seriously, those people probably can’t even bench press their own weight

Haha, okay, being active is an important part of living a healthy life, and I encourage everyone to find some type of physical exercise everyday. The world’s greatest minds found time to exercise daily. But remember, while the brain might not be a muscle, it needs to be exercised daily too.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

First World Problems

I have paused my career in weight loss counseling and now mainly work in the hospital with pediatric oncology patients. This has allowed me to really reflect on the struggle the majority of Americans have with diet, exercise, and weight loss. This struggle people have, is known as first world problems.
Urban Dictionary defines first world problems as, “Problems from living in a wealthy, industrialized nation that third worlders would probably roll their eyes at.” It also says, “Compared to third world problems our problems don't mean shit.”

People obsess about food. What should I eat? How much should I eat? When should I eat? What time should I stop eating? How many meals a day should I eat? What is the best food I can eat? What supplement do I need? How many grams of sugar should I eat? Then you have the post meal reaction... Oh my goodness, I ate that, I shouldn’t have eaten that. I can’t believe I ate that. Why did I eat that? And the vicious cycle of their first world problem continues... daily...
I have spoken to many people who have experienced this, and my advice to them is...
Stop obsessing. Expending so much time and energy thinking about food only gravitates you towards food... and overeating. There are a million things going on in the world... weight loss and diet is not worth thinking about day in and day out.
Weight loss is not complicated. Eating healthy literally means, eat food, mostly plants, not too much. BAM. There you go. And then the excuses start rolling in.

“No matter what I do, I can’t lose weight.” It get’s old quick, because when it comes down to it, if you followed those simple instructions, you would achieve your goal.

So the obsession with food and it’s nonsensical and unnecessary complexities continues.
Notice the table below, I've talked about it before. The gist of this hierarchy of needs is that you must achieve one level, before fully moving onto the next “level of needs.”

As you can see, food is on the bottom as a physiological need. Next we have safety needs, the need for love and belonging, the need for self esteem and confidence, and finally the need of self actualization. So if your basic physiological needs (for example, food) are not being met, it is incredibly difficult to have the motivation (or time/awareness) to move further on to other needs, such as self esteem or problem solving.
I do not know if you are aware of this, but we are in the top 1% of the world. Our society should be at least on the level of love and belonging if not near the level of self-actualization and trying to solve the world’s problems; not stuck worrying about our basic needs.
Neanderthals were forced to worry about food because it was hard to come by. Today, food will always find you; your only job is to make an educated choice on what food you allow to enter your body. By worrying about such a basic need, you are stunting your growth as a human being and inhibiting your self-actualization, your creativity, and your motivation to succeed in helping yourself and others.
So yes, people struggle with weight loss daily, because they do not choose to eat healthy food or exercise... First world problem.
My friend loves quoting this Proverbs to me, “As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.” Well, people love basking in their vomit, no matter what their proverbial vomit may be.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

If I was an Atheist

What would change about your life if you were an atheist? It seems that most people’s inclination is to be more wild and promiscuous, which I find funny, but I will save this topic for a later discussion. The biggest thing that would change in my life would be my sense of purpose. If there was no God, I would stop caring about the well-being of humans. Humans have fully functional, reasonable, rational brains that can choose to do whatever they want. Humans determine the outcome of their lives, and continually make bad choices, making themselves and those around them suffer. It’s annoying. If there was no God, there’d be no reason for me to care about these people, so I wouldn't.
If I was an atheist, I’d join PETA and most likely dedicate my life to freeing animals or have the job described in this podcast. I’ve always had a soft spot for animals. Animals are loving and caring beings, yes beings. I’m not about to go through how animals are slaughtered and mistreated, we already know all about that. Go youtube that if you want a reason to feel crappy today.

Anyway, animals are too often underestimated or ignored. Cows, as well as other farm animals have been studied for emotional cues. In these studies, the scientists were able to measure their brainwaves and vitals. Scientists have concluded that cows are capable of feeling fear, anxiety, hold grudges, enjoy sex, and maintain friendships with other cows as well as humans. Some studies even suggest that animals have a sense of self.
Animals also laugh. In a rat study, scientists were able to make rats laugh by tickling them. The rats not only laughed, but also returned to be tickled again, suggesting that humans aren't the only mammals with emotional lives and that animals can also experience social-joy.
Radio lab, my second favorite podcast (my first favorite obviously being LLUC/Randy Roberts), has a fantastic segment on animal minds. In this segment, they discuss the possibility of communication between animals and different species. In this specific episode, they tell a story about a trapped whale who gets rescued, and potentially shows gratitude to her rescuers. This was so touching to me, because my biggest pet peeve is when I allow someone to cut in front of me on the freeway, and they don't show gratitude by giving me the courtesy wave.
If you do choose to eat meat, fine, do whatever you want. My libertarian will always advocate for personal freedom. However, I'd urge you to consider Michael Pollen's take on eating meat. If you're going to eat meat, you need to experience killing an animal and butchering it, so that you can fully understand and appreciate the process. If you had to kill a cow and butcher it every time you wanted to eat one, it seems like you'd do that a lot less often. Killing things is personal, buying lunch meat in the grocery store, is not.

I have no doubt that God exists, meaning I will always find helping humans more important than helping animals. However, animals are still one of God’s creations, and they should be treated with love and kindness.
So the next time you eat meat, I’d like you to consider that you’re eating a being that had a best friend, laughed, enjoyed having sex, and felt fear as it saw it’s family being killed and felt anxiety as it was about to be killed, so that you could eat it. That’s all. enjoy your day.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Survival Instincts

Survival Instincts
I absolutely hate the term “comfort food.” Whenever I see any type of advertising or labeling that indicates some type of food brings comfort my blood pressure immediately rises and I start silently lashing out at whatever moron decided that was a good idea.
I recently listened to a TED talks on vulnerability. In that short lecture, the speaker said that people use all kinds of things for an escape. Some people use drugs, alcohol, prescription medication, and some people use food. I talk to a lot of people who use food for an escape, a “comfort.”
It makes sense from a scientific standpoint that food brings comfort to people. For the past thousands of years, our ancestors spent a lot of time worrying about food and survival, and when they found food their worry was gone.
Only in the last hundred years, or possibly until after the Depression era, that food became easy and convenient. Essentially since the beginning of time, food relieved humankind from anxiety; and rightfully so.  According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs your physiological needs: food, sleep, sex, etc, are the basis to comfort. It’s only been until recently where access of food has not been an issue for survival.
Mankind is use to the biggest “threat” (survival) being resolved by food. Now that we’ve pretty much established our physiological needs, our biggest "threats" are the next few levels on Maslow’s triangle: Safety: security of the family, health, property, etc; Love/Belonging: friendship, family, sexual intimacy; and Esteem: self-esteem, confidence, respect, and achievement.
Our ancestors were stressed/felt threatened, ate food, and were not stressed or threatened anymore because their survival was no longer at risk. Today, we’re stressed about making ends meet, being loved, our families health, intimate relationships, being successful, or whatever, but instead of making choices to take care of the actual issue, people are still looking to food to clear their anxiety.
Some may argue this is due to behavioral genetics. Some scientists believe that our genes determine more than just eye or hair color; that more abstract traits such as intelligence, personality, aggression, and sexual orientation are also encoded in our DNA—so interesting to read about btw.
It could also be argued that these bad eating habits are actually learned behaviors from parents or caregivers, and most likely, it's a combination. 
Anyway, despite whatever genetics or learned behaviors passed down generation to generation indicating food will give us comfort, everyone still has a brain to figure out what will solve the problems you have (big or small) and ACTUALLY provide comfort and happiness--and it's not food. 
I’m a firm believer that nurture can overcome any nature:) We were all given some type of genetic lemons in life, you can make lemonade because that’s what feels right, or you can be smart and make salad dressing <3 span="span">

Monday, August 13, 2012

25 and Going on Menopause

In this past season of the Bachelorette, Emily asks one of her dates, Ryan, if he would still love her in 10 years if she got fat. Ryan famously answers, “I’d love ya, but I wouldn’t love on ya.” I never liked Ryan, but appreciated his honesty. My friend was not offended by Ryan’s comment, “Imagine you marry someone who has a good job and works hard, and once you get married, he quits his job, sits on the couch all day, and collects unemployment. Would you feel lied to?”

“I would be able to sense his poor work ethic and I wouldn't be attracted to him in the first place, so that would never happen to me, but I guess I understand your analogy,” I told him.

I work with a lot of women who struggle with weight gain, and a lot of these women attribute it to age and a slowing metabolism. I’ve heard variations of this story several times, “I weighed 120 lbs when I got married, and now I weigh 180.”

This use to make me worried, because I almost felt as if weight gain was inevitable, but the more I talk to women, the more I realize, it is not inevitable. While counseling these women on developing healthy lifestyles, I continuously make mental notes of where I think they’ve gone wrong. I’ve compiled a list:

1. Develop good eating habits now. When I was in high school I worked at Cold Stone and ate ice cream every day, I would go to In-n-Out and get a grilled cheese sandwich with extra sauce and French fries, and I never exercised; I was 95 lbs. I could still do this now if I didn’t mind looking like Jabba the Hut and having a heart attack at 45. If you eat poorly, you will get fat… it’s all about portion sizes and healthy choices, everyday.

2. Don't stop exercising. Use it or lose it. Muscle tone and regular cardio will keep your metabolism going. Everyone’s excuse is that there is “no time.” Make time. Time management is a struggle for everyone, but it’s doable. The longer you're sedentary, the harder it is to start exercising again... But it's never too late to start :)

3. Don’t wear pants with elastic. I’m serious. Have you been in a hospital lately? I am convinced that if hospital workers had to wear jeans to work, their weight would drop by at least 10%. If your job requires you to wear scrubs, when you go home, put on a pair of jeans. It’s really easy to gain weight when you wear one size fits all clothes 24/7. This includes leggings. It’s a slippery slope. Be careful. Wearing dresses everyday is pretty risky too.

4. Make time to relax. Chronic stress is the new plague. Find anything enjoyable that allows you to figure out your s appropriately. Talk it out, hug it out, write it out, or whatever it takes to manage whatever problems you have.

5. Have hobbies; hobbies that don’t involve food. Everyone should do something that makes them unique, happy, and accomplished. Being a mom is great, but it doesn’t count as a hobby.

6. Learn good coping mechanisms. People are taught a lot of things, coping mechanisms aren’t one of them. I see a lot of people who eat because they’re depressed, stressed, or anxious. If you don’t know what good coping mechanisms are, buy a book on coping skills.

7. Get some positive thinking skills—hormonal changes never results in rational thinking. Don’t let yourself get depressed. Happiness is a choice. Laugh and smile. No one likes a scowl, and there are always things to laugh about. Life is great.

So I’m turning 25 this year and I have nothing to worry about :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Things Change.

I’ve never understood why people are so disgusted by meat. I’ve been on several dates where the guy has asked my permission to order meat. I appreciate their thoughtfulness, but I also think it’s such a silly question. Why would I care if they ate meat?

My siblings and I were the only vegetarians in our entire extended family, so I’ve grown up around meat and meat eaters. I have always thought that people who think meat is “gross” are closed-minded and sheltered. My point is that I don't care, and never have cared, if people choose to eat meat.

About a year ago I started eating fish. I started eating fish because I loved the flavor. My roommate/classmate/friend told me, “Fish is a gateway meat; it’s only a matter of time before you start eating chicken..turkey… then who knows.” I laughed and thought it was probably true, and it was.

Within the past month, I started lifting weights, and I wanted to increase my protein intake, so I calculated that each of my meals should be at about 20 grams of protein. I eat at the hospital a lot and they serve chicken a lot, so I started having chicken at lunch. I’d rather eat chicken than drink a protein shake, I told myself. Who knows what’s in a protein shake? Where are they getting the protein? It’s so processed. Protein shakes are not natural and we were not meant to eat protein like that.

So there I am at the hospital… Hmmm… what to eat, they aren’t serving anything good today. I’ll just have this chicken pesto wrap. That sounds good, 380 calories and 26 grams of protein. As I’m eating my sandwich these are my following thoughts:

Hm. This is not a whole wheat wrap, that’s unfortunate; I wish this was a whole wheat wrap…

This lettuce is a little wilted… I wonder how long this sandwich was made…

Sheesh this is a lot of chicken… I tell my patients to eat 3 oz of meat per meal or the size of the palm of their hand… this chicken is like 2 palms of my hand. Eh, just finish the sandwich you need the protein to build muscle….

I’ve never eaten this much chicken in my entire life. I don’t want to eat this anymore…

Why did I eat this? How does meat get digested? When you eat whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and beans the fiber helps the food get digested and moves it through your body… What is moving this chicken through my body? Nothing. NOTHING is moving this chicken through my body. This wasn’t even a whole wheat wrap! And that lettuce hand like 1 gram of fiber! How will this chicken ever get out of my body!? I HAVE A ROTTING CHICKEN CARCASS STUCK IN MY BODY.

Since this incident, I have not touched meat. And the thought of eating meat is nauseating. Right now, when I was talking about “liking fish,” it made me shutter with disgust. Because now when I think of eating meat, all I can think about is having a dead animal in my body. I don’t want any dead animals in my body.

I’ve always said that being vegan is most likely the most optimal diet. I’m not vegan. I eat cheese and Greek yogurt. I think the most important thing is having plant based diet. Meaning you eat mostly plants: brown rice, barley, beans, lentils, fruits, vegetables, split peas, almonds, walnuts, and other nuts. If some dairy or eggs get in there, fine, a little dairy and eggs won’t kill you (although some will argue that point). If you want to add some meat in there, that’s fine too. Just make sure it’s organic or from a trusted farm and eat high fiber foods with it. No one likes a rotting carcass in their intestines.

Maybe my thought process is irrational, but at this time, I can’t get that picture of meat carcass out of my head. Being a vegetarian has so many health benefits, decrease in cancer, decrease in heart disease, and overall longevity. Being vegetarian also has a lot of non-health related benefits: better for the environment, less production of meat, and less animal cruelty – yes that really does happen.

Here’s an article my friend posted on chicken and what they do to it… and if they’re doing it to chicken, you know they’re doing it to other animals too.