Is This A Gym … Or Glamour Shots?

I heard an interesting conversation on the radio as I was driving to work the other day, and after seeing my favorite real-life example of it again today, I was reminded that I wanted to address the topic of discussion on the ol’ blog.

Apparently, there was a study conducted that found that women who go to the gym “made up” are less likely to have a good workout than those who, frankly, don’t really give a crap what they look like. I’m not sure how they went about collecting their data, but I can tell you, as a girl who has a class or two full of people staring at my sweat-covered, make-up free face on the weekends – and only wears make-up to the gym during the week because it’s still on my face after spending all day in a professional work environment – this study was a waste of time. As is taking the time to look good at the gym.

Here’s the thing: I do care about the clothes that I work out in, but it’s not necessarily from a fashion standpoint as much as it is a function and comfort standpoint. I wear cute little knee-length spandex and fitted tanktops because they aren’t going to get caught in a machine or I’m not going to have to tug at them my entire workout, not because I want people looking at me. Quite honestly, I assume if anyone is looking at me, it’s for one of two reasons: either they think I’m disgusting, because I’m usually dripping in sweat, or they are impressed by my badassness (I’m pretty sure it’s #1, but I’d like to think it’s #2). And if I catch them … unless I know them, they probably get a “what are you looking at?” look.

But the reason I wanted to bring up this topic is not just because I thought the study was (not) interesting – it was actually because I saw my #1 offender tonight. I happened upon the woman I … uh … lovingly? refer to as “makeup lady” – occasionally “the hot mess” – this evening (side note: I ran into my friend R.J. a few weeks back, and he pointed her out, saying that she looked like the skeleton from “Nightmare Before Christmas.” Sadly, this was a frighteningly accurate description). I’ve actually seen this woman caking on MORE make-up before she goes to hit the gym floor. The thing I fail to understand is what she’s trying to hide. She has a nice body. She isn’t a young woman, but she’s probably in her 40s – young enough to not have too much that needs covered up (heck, my mom is in her mid-50s and I think she still looks pretty good with little make-up. I can only pray that I look as young as she does when I’m her age). And I almost feel bad for her knowing that if she is, in fact, attracting attention, it’s certainly not the kind I’m sure she hopes to receive.

Don’t get me wrong … I want to look cute as much as the next girl. But the gym is not necessarily the place to make such an effort. After spending all these years in a gym, more often than not going straight from work to workout, I still laugh every time I run into a friend on my way into the gym, still sporting my work clothes. The reaction is always the same: “Wow, you look really nice today.” As is my response, “Well, you know, I don’t think they’d look too kindly upon my showing up to work in sweatpants…” I guess I just feel like, as with anything else in life, there is a time and a place for everything. And “gym” and “cute” are not typically synonymous. At least not if you are working hard to make your workout bring real results.

Childhood Activity vs. Inactivity: What it Means for Adulthood

Sad fact: society is getting fatter. In a world of convenience – and lesser activity than years past – we are only pushing ourselves further into an obesity epidemic.

Which is why, now more than ever, we need to start getting kids active at an early age. It’s been shown that children of active parents (especially those who are active with their kids) grow up to weigh less, and have a better relationship with nutrition and physical activity.

Those inactive kids? They could have this to look forward to:

To further illustrate the importance of physical activity throughout a lifetime … and proving that the younger you start, the easier it will be to maintain healthy habits into adulthood:

If higher healthcare costs, more sick days and a shortened lifespan aren’t enough to make you want to run around the yard with the kids, maybe the odds of higher grades, lowered odds of disease, and less chance of risky lifestyle bahaviors will do it. So throw on some shoes, and go get active! You can never be too young – or too old – to get fit.


Body Image: What You See is What You Become?

Are negative body images setting teenagers up to be overweight by age 30?  It’s possible. I came across an interesting article last night, detailing the findings of a recent study conducted at Norwegian University of Science and Technology, in which … Continue reading

Peel This: Bananas Are as Good as Sports Drinks for Exercise

Peel This: Bananas Are as Good as Sports Drinks for Exercise | Fitbie. Huh … nice to know, since my go-to snack  about 90 minutes before my workout is almost always a banana … turns out bananas have the same … Continue reading

Is HFCS Making Us Fat … And Stupid?

The battle continues to heat up regarding the truth about High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) – and this time researchers argue that it doesn’t just make you fat … it can make you stupid, too.

In a UCLA study recently published in the Journal of Physiology, researchers examined two groups of rats – one given drinking water enhanced with fructose, while the group’s fructose-enhanced drinking water was enriched with flaxseed oil and DHA. After six weeks, researchers discovered that the group that did not receive the flaxseed/DHA supplement was not only slower physically, but suffered from reduced synaptic brain activity. And that’s after a mere six weeks … think about how much HFCS the average person consumes on a weekly basis.  Scary stuff.

While it’s best to limit the amount of HFCS you consume, it is somewhat unrealistic in today’s society to expect to be able to eat all-organic, all-unprocessed all the time. The good news? Though you’ll still have to watch what you eat, an occasional slip-up can be combatted by consuming omega-3 fatty acids – which have been shown repeatedly in studies to encourage brain health and function.

So, try to steer clear of HFCS whenever possible for your health – and if you do happen to indulge in processed foods containing the ingredient, just be sure to up your fish, flax or omega-3 enriched eggs and dairy products (or pop a fish oil supplement). You’ll save both your waistline and your brain function!

You can read more about the study and results here or here.

Don’t Just Pass on the Sodas …

… pass on the sports and energy drinks, too. Not only do most sports and energy drinks contain a high number of calories – primarily from sugar – a recent study  found that sports and energy drinks cause “irreversible damage” to teeth.

Over the course of five days, researchers submerged teeth in one of 13 different sports or energy drinks. When exposed to the liquids four times a day, for 15 minutes each time – just one hour a day – reseachers discovered noticable damage to tooth enamel. Why? The drinks are acidic – meaning your Gatorade is essentially eating its way through your teeth. Scarier still? Energy drinks such as Red Bull or Monster – which have grown significantly in popularity over the last few years – were found to be twice as corrosive as sports drinks.

Just goes to further show that the best way to rehydrate is also the least expensive – good old H2O. Though everyone is different, the general rule is at least eight glasses (64 oz.) of water a day should do it – more if you are engaged in strenuous exercise. I take a 32 oz. bottle everywhere with me, and I usually fill it up and drink it down a good 4-5 times a day. (Remember, when you’re thirsty, you are already dehydrated!) And not only will water not negatively impact your tooth enamal – it’s calorie-free, too. So pass on the sports and energy drinks, find some water, and drink up!

Eat Less, Remember More?

Need a little motivation to keep your daily calorie consumption within a healthy range? According to a new Mayo Clinic study, there is yet another reason to watch what you eat – it can help you maintain your memory!

The preliminary study, which was part of a larger overall study on aging, examined mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in 70-89 year olds. In the study, they defined MCI as “a decline in mental abilities, chiefly memory, that’s noticeable but not severe enough to affect the performance of day to day activities” – essentially, the step between age-related decline in memory and dementia.

As a part of the study, participants were divided into three groups, based on calorie consumption: low (600-1,525 cal./day), moderate (1,525-2,142 cal./day) or high (2,142-6,000 cal./day). At the end of one year, researchers found that those in the high calorie consumption group had higher instances of developing MCI – up to twice as likely as those in the low or moderate calorie group.

And though additional research is needed, this was not the first study to suggest higher calorie consumption can lead to mental decline. Yes, the participants may have been older – but the younger you start monitoring the foods – and quantities – you eat each day, the better your chances of staving off mental (and physical!) decline in the long run.

That said, it’s important to note that exercise, good nutrition and general health also play a part. Studies have shown that exercise and physical activity will do more than just keep you fit – it will keep your mind engaged, too. And chances are, the healthier your lifestyle, the longer you’ll live … and you’ll want to hold on to all your good memories you have collected throughout the years!

[Quick side note … remember that unless under doctor supervision, you should never dip below 1,200 calories a day. Without enough calories to keep your brain going, you’ll suffer from mental fog, at least in the short-term – and too few calories can also kick your body into calorie conservation mode, grinding your weight loss efforts to a standstill!]

Are the Foods You Eat Killing You?

I saw an interesting story on The Today Show while getting ready for work this morning, regarding a study on the connection between red meat consumption and life expectancy. Just how much of an impact are we talking? Depends on if you’re chowing down on a filet or a hot dog.

Now, let me start by saying that I’m by no means a dietician or nutritionist. Nor am I a vegan, or even a vegetarian for that matter – although if you asked my dad, he’d tell you I eat nothing but chicken and Greek yogurt. (Not true.) I’ll even admit to enjoying a nice steak a couple times a year, but as a general rule, my palate tends to agree better with something of the light/white variety (chicken, turkey, seafood).

And while I’ll agree that most research does warrant further examination – I wrote enough research studies in college to know there’s a reason they result in “findings,” not “proof” – the studies on red meat consumption do consistently find that the quality of meat – again, that filet vs. hot dog – is where the biggest impact is seen. Exactly how big of an impact? Well, the 20-year study found that not only does consistent red meat consumption lead to increased inflammation, risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer, it only took one serving of red meat (the size of a deck of cards – good luck finding a restaurant that serves a steak that small) to increase mortality risk over time – up to a 13% increase for unprocessed red meat, and jumping to 20% for processed red meat.

Still need more reason to step away from the hot dog? How about these numbers: mortality risk decreased when subject consumed fish (7%), poultry (14%), nuts (19%), legumes (10%), low-fat dairy (10%), and whole grains (14%).

I’m not going to go as far as to say you should give up red meat altogether, or that we should all live off of produce organically grown in our backyards (I live in an apartment, thus no backyard, and I inherited my mother’s knack for killing plants, so clearly that’s not happening anytime soon). It’s not realistic for most people.

What I will say is that it is important to be aware of the types and quality of the food we ingest each day, and how our bodies respond to them. Think about how it makes our bodies feel. Do we feel strong, energized, and healthy, or do we feel sluggish and tired? The foods we eat are the fuel that gets us through our days, and the more balanced our diets, the more efficient our bodies. I read a good analogy not too long ago – would you put low-grade gasoline into a Porche? No. So why would you put processed junk into your body? It’s the same thing.

Want to read more about this study? You can check it out here.