Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mercury Found in Corn Syrup, Other Products

In the News: Mercury Found in Corn Syrup
Mercury, which is a toxin that can have debilitating effects on the nervous system, has been found in almost half of tested samples of commercial high fructose corn syrup, according to two new U.S. studies cited in a USA Today article. In addition, mercury "was also found in nearly a third of 55 popular brand-name food and beverage products where high-fructose corn syrup is the first- or second-highest labeled ingredient."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Storing up for the winters of life

SparkPeople - Storing up for the winters of life
One of Aesop's most famous fables is about an encounter between a grasshopper and some ants. All summer long the ants had been toiling away, saving up grain for the long winter. All the while the grasshopper merrily--yet foolishly--squandered his time without a care in the world, without making any provisions for the cold season to come. When winter came, the grasshopper found himself starving and begged the ants for food. They replied, "If you were foolish enough to sing all the summer, you must dance supper-less to bed in the winter." While leisure time is important for rejuvenating an overworked mind, idleness is just a step away from foolishness. Think about the future that you deeply desire for yourself and your family. Chart and take wise steps towards it. There's nothing wrong with stopping to smell the roses, as long as you keep moving along the path.

The value of friendship

SparkPeople - The value of friendship
We all have a handful of acquaintances--those people with whom we work or see at the store and casually say hello to and move on. But a friend is someone you confide in, bring over for an afternoon cup of coffee, invite to your wedding, or cry with when a loved one passes away. You just feel a sense of safety with a friend. Don't wait until a rainy day to express how much a good friend means to you. Often we are unaware of how much we mean to others until they speak up, and likewise we never know how much another person might truly need to hear such affirmations. An approving, cheerful word of encouragement can thrill a heart. Be sure to always say kind words before you part, show sympathy during hard times and affection during wonderful ones. Life would not be the same without positive friendships. Express your gratitude to someone today who has made a difference in your world!

Wake Up to the Importance of Exercise

Wake Up to the Importance of Exercise
You stayed up late last night to finish a project, woke up groggy only to realize that you’d slept through the alarm clock, skipped breakfast, then almost fell asleep in the middle of an important morning meeting. It’s now mid-afternoon and, as you’re having yet another cup of coffee to stifle yet another yawn, you realize you’re seemingly sleep walking through your days.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Portion Control

Portion Control Article (full of great information)
Question: Is it possible to eat meals consisting entirely of healthy foods, such as carrots, fish, apples and whole wheat bread, and continue to gain weight?

Answer: Yes, because you can still eat too much, even if everything is good for you.

This was the theme of "Super Size Me" by Morgan Spurlock and something I see as a major problem in our society.

The Importance of Setting Medium-Term Goals

Here is a nice article about setting goals — it is short and to the point and has great information:

The Importance of Setting Medium-Term Goals

Overweight Kids: The Sad Result of a Fast Society

It seems everything has to be fast: fast foods, fast cars … fast everything. The food industry has to turn animals around quickly, and so do farmers with crops. Some of this "rush to market" process has come to hunt us by causing kids to be overweight. As parents, we are also rushed for time, so we choose to feed our kids fast food (not just restaurant fast food) that is not necessarily healthy.

Here is more information on what to do to prevent or try to solve this problem: Expert Solutions: Overweight Kids

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

6 Ways to Exercise Like a Fitness Pro

Here are some awesome tips for you!

6 Ways to Exercise Like a Fitness Pro

Inauguration Day

Yesterday was an interesting day. The school district (and just about everything else) was closed due to "snow." We did get a few flurries and something like a mini-trace of the white stuff stuck to the ground for a few hours. It was good enough for the kids to go crazy for a few minutes -- then the cold got the better of their enthusiasm and they came in from the cold, asking for hot cocoa.

It did give us the chance to watch the inauguration ceremony and celebration. OK, honestly, the kids were bored but I forced them to endure the swearing in and the inaugural speech.

Needless to say, it was a historical event of proportions we can only begin to imagine. However, being the simple person I am, and considering the economical climate of our world, I would have liked the Obama team to tone down some of the celebration and set the example of how to be more fiscally responsible. I can only imagine what this whole week of celebrations cost. Millions, I would imagine. A friend of mine called this the coronation, not inauguration, as it looked more like the old-time celebrations that monarchies used to insist on at the change of power. If this is the kind of change we can expect from the Obama administration, then we are in for a rough ride. I hope this is not the case. I hope Mr. Obama will set the tone of moderation and modesty that we need from our leader. The excesses of the past got us into trouble -- it is time for all of us to change, not just the middle class and those near or at poverty levels. President Obama and his whole team need to show responsible behavior and attitude. The millions spent on celebrations can be better used to feed the hungry, save people from losing their homes, and find cures for cancer.


From an email:

Happiness keeps you Sweet,
Trials keep you Strong,
Sorrows keep you Human,
Failures keep you Humble,
Success keeps you Glowing,
But ... Only Friends ...
Keep You Going!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Moe's Nutritional Information

If you are a fan of Moe's food, then you may be interested in this link:

Moe's Nutritional Information

The nice thing about this page is that it is interactive: add and subtract ingredients to get a more accurate calorie and carb count. Nice job by Moe's restaurants!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Every step DOES count!

Add Steps to Subtract Pounds
The researchers conclude that setting your goals in steps (rather than minutes) may be the best way to increase your overall activity.

I have personally experienced the power of adding steps. It makes you want to do things like park at the far end of the parking lot so that you can add some more steps to your daily count. It really works!

Two for the price of one!

Here is a great story of a couple that achieved success together: SparkPeople: Sucess Stories: Matt & Denise

Bella and Tara — What is our excuse?

Elephant and Dog story: Bella and Tara (CBS)

Friday, January 16, 2009

The realities of weight loss

[outrageous advertisement] claims are readily rebuked by anyone who’s tried to lose five, 10, or 100 pounds. Losing weight ain’t that easy. It’s not in a pill, it doesn’t (usually) happen in 30 days, and judging from the myriad plans out there, there is no one diet that works for everyone.
9 Cold, Hard Weight Loss Truths

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Can other drinks such as diet sodas and herbal tea count towards my 8 glasses of water for the day?

Can other drinks such as diet sodas and herbal tea count towards my 8 glasses of water for the day?

SparkPeople experts say they do. But, as they also indicate, plain water is best. There is evidence that caffeine is not good for people losing weight; I have quit my daily coffee intake until I get close to my ideal weight. Diet sodas also have sodium and other chemicals that are not all that great for dieters.

Water rules! :-)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

One week - 9 pounds = great feeling!

Week one of the SparkPeople New YOU Boot Camp is over. I have lost nine pounds! I started the year at 256 and I am currently at 247. That may not seem like a lot, but it is. Putting it in perspective: at the start of 2008 I weighed 263 pounds. I did my best to "eat right." I walked every day with my dogs -- and I take them separately so as to double-up on my walking effort. At the end of 2008 I weighed 256. That is a total loss of seven pounds in one year.

In the last week I have made many discoveries that have expanded my field of vision concerning nutrition and fitness. Perhaps none of them were new to me, but they have become a new part of my daily routines. I had known that keeping track of what you ate was important, but I had never done it. Logging everything I eat has made me aware of my approximate calorie intake, and forced me to realize that some foods I considered "OK" or even "healthy" are really not. At least not if you are trying to lose weight.

I knew that exercising was important and I thought I was doing OK by walking the dogs in the morning. But seeing results with my weight loss and how I felt in general have given me the motivation to add to this routine. I know walk the dogs twice per day, and the afternoon walk now includes my two kids. This will help all of us (including the dogs) be healthier. For example, I have an old Black Lab (now 13 years old) with a hip problem. For the last year he was struggling a little to walk. Ever since we started walking more (and going for longer walks) his hip seems better and he is not limping at all! It is also helping with my own knee problem. My right knee has been killing me for the last three months. I attribute most of the pain to the excess weight, although there may be more to it than just that. However, the pain has subsided considerably ever since I started exercising daily.

I have known that drinking water was good for you. I just broke away from the habit of drinking at least eight servings daily. I am back on it, and then some. Last Friday it was all I took in as I successfully fasted for the first time in my life.

I have blogged before but never as consistently as I have been due to the SparkTeam goals. And "unloading" my thoughts daily has been a great way of ending everyday. Please feel free to visit SparkPeople blog and my SparkPeople page.

I truly believe SparkPeople has been key to my success thus far, and I cannot tell you how grateful I am to Chris, to Nicole and the other coaches, to the SparkPeople staff, and to the SparkPeople community, for making this site possible. You are all a blessing in my life.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Lose Twice the Weight by Tracking Your Food

Lose Twice the Weight by Tracking Your Food

This works! It's proven! It's free! How do I know? In the last 10 days I have lost almost 10 pounds (from 256 to 247). I am convinced that keeping track of my food intake has been a key factor in this weight lose.

Here is another article on the same subject:
The Key to Weight Loss Success

Good luck!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Overeating and the effect on our body

On my way to work today I heard this report on NPR:
… overeating causes biological changes in the body that can lead more food cravings and cause your stomach to send mixed signals about when it's actually full.
Gut Reaction: Overeating Can Impair Body Function : NPR

Now here is some information on fasting.
For thousands of years, beginning with philosophers like Hippocrates, Socrates and Plato, fasting was recommended for health reasons. The Bible writes that Moses and Jesus fasted for 40 days for spiritual renewal.

And if you think I have become obsessed with fitness and health — well, perhaps you are right. And it is about time!

FDA Expands Warning to Consumers About Tainted Weight Loss Pills

FDA Expands Warning to Consumers About Tainted Weight Loss Pills
FDA Expands Warning to Consumers About Tainted Weight Loss Pills

If you want to lose weight, join SparkPeople. There is no magic pill to become healthy. What it takes is work, support and patience.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

SparkPeople success story

I mentioned that I have started a serious attempt to get back in shape. I am using the SparkPeople website to help with this. Here is a success story (one of hundreds) I wanted to share with you:

The before and the after (this is a SparkPeople member that is featured in People's magazine "They Lost Half Their Size!"

This is her SparkPeople webpage.

All I can say is: WOW!

Friday, January 02, 2009

Live simply …

A friend of mine sent me this quote recently:

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.

It is attributed to the late President Ronald Reagan. I don't think I could summarize my life's philosophy any better than that.

Starting over with SparkPeople

A new year has started and it is a great time for a reality check, for setting goals, and looking forward to a great year. Sometime ago I found (and joined) a website called SparkPeople. But I never really used the many great tools provided by the service. I suggest that anyone that is looking forward to better fitness and better health should check out SparkPeople!

I have been trying to lose weight for months now with no real results. So I am committed to following the SparkPeople system. Based on what others have achieved, I feel I will get myself in shape!

I have a SparkPeople web page that shows my progress; please don't be scared. The "start" pictures of where I am now are not pretty. I will update that page and this blog frequently to let everyone know of my progress.

VGASCON's SparkPage - Happy 2009! It all starts today!

One thing I discovered on the very first day is that the foods I am eating have a lot more calories and carbs than I thought. But without tracking my daily intake I would have never discovered that. SparkPeople makes it easy to track not only what and how much you eat, but also how much you exercise. They provide suggested meal plans (and you can even print the shopping list for such) and great exercise plans. I have joined a boot camp that starts January 4.

Happy New Year to everyone! May all your wishes come true!