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Archive for July, 2008

Dunkin’ Donuts has a new menu for customers watching their health and weight. The “DD Smart” menu, which will debut in stores Aug. 6, will feature new flatbread sandwiches. Customers will be able to choose either a turkey sausage egg-white sandwich or a vegetable egg-white sandwich. Both will be under 300 calories with 9 grams of fat or less, the company said.

“We just felt it was important to provide some choice in our menu,” said Will Kussell, president and chief brand officer.

The new menu will also include current menu items that have 25 percent fewer calories, sugar, fat or sodium or are made with more “nutritional ingredients”. Current products that will join the new sandwiches on the menu include a multigrain bagel, Cofee Coolatta with skim milk, Iced Latte Lite, a reduced-fat blueberry muffin, and more.

The entire DDSmart menu can be found here.

Hopefully in the future, success of this ‘smart’ menu over their old offerings should drive them to make this their ‘regular’ menu. I am strong proponent of fast food joints offering smarter choices not in special menus but making those choices the norm. It’s all about small steps and this decision by Dunkin’ Donuts provides a step in the right direction.

 

7/30/08 – 4.66 miles in 47:37 (slow run with Sparky)

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Chili’s, Outback, T.G.I. Fridays… Sit down full-service restaurants remain a hot spot for anyone looking for good filling meal. As great as the food and atmosphere might be, a lot of damage (as far as goals to get fit) can happen here. Most of the entrées at these establishments contain well over 1000 calories, couple that with a drink and you might end up consuming over 1500 calories in one meal!

While many might argue that self control issues need to be addressed to prevent over-eating. The easiest way I have found to control this bingeing involves taking a ‘to-go’ container with you. As soon as your food arrives, simply place a good portion of it into your container.

The reasons I promote taking your own container is one can pack away the food as SOON as it arrives not after one is already stuffed and because of the environmental impact of the styrofoam boxes. Styrofoam is not a part of most curbside residential recycling programs, even though it is labeled with the recycling number 6. Styrofoam is made from polystyrene and is extremely bulky and lightweight, which makes it costly to recycle polystyrene in small quantities.

The second important step involves limiting/eliminating the amount of soda you consume at the establishment. Free refills often urge people to down several cups. These cups often hold 22-32 ounces, that’s more than enough. Limiting oneself to water might be the safest way to avoid any possible urges to order a refill.

These little changes in habits might seem pointless but everything adds up. The weight loss you might not see now will arrive 6 months later. I by no means am a pinnacle of human fitness, verbalizing these goals just helps me keep with it.  Just enjoy the journey and try to keep everything moderate.

7/24/08 – 4.6 miles in 42:34

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A new rule requiring chain restaurants in New York to post calorie information on their menus took effect this past Friday. The regulation defines a chain restaurant as one that has 15 or more outlets across the country.  In New York, the rule affected 2,000 restaurants or 10 percent of the total in the city. Among them are such restaurants as McDonald’s, Burger King, Applebee’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks and Subway.

The rule also states that caloric information must be presented in the same font and format as the price and name of the food item. Health inspectors may issue fines from $200 to $2,000 for establishments not in compliance. 

I hope the rule makes it nationwide. This will prevent people claiming ignorance about the unhealthy nature of meals they consume. It will also serve as reality checks for people consistently consuming fast food. Several customers have claimed to be unaffected by the advent of the rule, if it changes a few decisions a week, I think it’s well worth it. 

The enforcement of this rule would definitely affect the way I sometimes attack the dollar menu at fast food restaurants. 

7/22/08 – 4.6 miles in 41:42 (8:56 per mile pace)

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A report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention stated that the overweight populations of 45 U.S. states increased last year. The percentage between 2005 and 2007 grew about 1.7 percent to a record 25.6 percent, or about 54 million people. That pretty much means 1 in every 4 American is obese!

Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee are the states with the biggest percentage in obesity. 30 percent of the adults are considered obese, that’s nearing 1 out of 3 people! Colorado sported the lowest rate at 18.7 percent.

By U.S. regions obesity was most prevalent in the South, with 27 percent of residents classified as obese. In the Midwest, the number was 25.3 percent; in the Northeast, 23.3 percent; and in the West, 22.1 percent, according to the report.

Breaking the numbers down by race/ethnicity and sex, obesity prevalence was highest for non-Hispanic black women (39.0 percent), followed by non-Hispanic black men (32.1 percent).

Education levels play a role, too. For men, obesity prevalence was lowest among college graduates (22.1 percent) and highest among those with some college (29.5 percent) and a high school diploma (29.1 percent). For women, obesity prevalence was lowest among college graduates (17.9 percent) and highest among those with less than a high school diploma (32.6 percent).

The CDC defines obesity as a body mass index (BMI, a ratio of weight to height) of 30 or above. An adult who is 5-feet, 10-inches tall is considered obese if he or she weighs 209 pounds. I know many people remain opposed to using BMI for anything but when one looks at just how much leeway has been given, it’s very scary.

The report contained data about adults but children do not show any immunity to the obesity epidemic. Obesity remains an issue that must be addressed. People have to start being held accountable instead of making silly references to genetics, physiological problems, or fast food companies. Take initiative and make some small changes, it’s not too late or the wrong time. Let’s help each other get healthy!

7/20/08 – 4.1 miles in 36:47

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Low-fat food pyramid

Low-fat food pyramid

The Atkins diet may have just proved itself.

A study, out this week, found that among moderately obese people in Israel (mostly men), the Mediterranean diet and the low-carb Atkins like diet actually outperformed a low-fat diet at promoting weight loss over a two-year period.

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes fish, sources of “good” fat like olive oil and nuts, veggies, and whole grains. The low-carb diet set limits for carbohydrates but none for calories or fat, dieters in the study were urged to choose vegetarian sources of fat and protein. The low-fat diet allowed no more than 30 percent of daily calories from fat.

Mediterranean food pyramid

Mediterranean food pyramid

The participants were employees of a nuclear research center in Israel. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day in Israel, and the participants all ate lunch at the center’s cafeteria daily. That allowed the researchers to offer them lunch options that made it easier to stick to their diets. For breakfast and dinner, the dieters were counseled on how to stick to their eating plans and were asked to fill out questionnaires on what they ate. During this two-year period around 85% of the 322 people in the study stuck with their diets.

The less-than-great news is that none of the diets produced huge weight loss: Among the people in the study, those assigned to the low-fat group lost the least, about 6.4 pounds, while the Mediterranean diet group lost an average of 9.7 pounds and the low-carbers lost 10.4 pounds.

Atkins (low-carb) food pyramid

Atkins (low-carb) food pyramid

Surprisingly the low-carb diet also excelled at improving the cholesterol profile, reducing the total cholesterol to HDL ratio by 20 percent, compared to 16 percent in the Mediterranean diet and 12 percent in the low-fat diet. The Mediterranean diet proved most effective against diabetes.

 

Some other interesting facts to note from the study:

  • Most of the weight loss occurs in the first 6 months, weight then increases and plateaus off.
  • 24 people (out of 109) abandoned the low-carb diet, 16 people (out of 109) abandoned the Mediterranean diet, and 10 people (out of 104) abandoned the low-fat diet.
  • The study was partially supported by the Veronica Atkins Research Foundation.

The study showed that the three diets produced similar improvements in things like liver function, cholesterol profiles and overall health. I think any one of these diets can help one’s health but without pairing it with exercise it really does not impact ones life significantly. No quick fixes exist, in the end activity will always remain the leading weight loss solution.

The journal article in its entirety.

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Touted as the best point guard in the class of 2008, Brandon Jennings signed with Pallacanestro Virtus Roma of the Italian pro league. Jennings who played at Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) last season, decided to bypass college and sign a ‘multimillion-dollar’ deal with the Rome-based team.

At 18, Jennings could not enter the NBA draft due to the league’s age restrictions for prospects under 19 years old. Bypassing the opportunity to be a “one year” player after committing to Arizona (he was academically ineligible), Jennings opted to explore immediate payment for his services in Europe.

His advisor, longtime former shoe company representative Sonny Vaccaro, negotiated in Las Vegas during the weekend with Virtus Roma GM Dejan Bodiroga. Without disclosing the exact numbers, Viccaro described the deal as a three-year multimillion dollar deal with buyout considerations that will allow Jennings to leave the team and enter the NBA draft when eligible next year. The GM commented further explaining a comprehensive plan for Brandon that included specific training, education, tutoring programs, and media training.

I honestly have no problems with him going after money. The 19 age limit rule doesn’t make much sense to me, I don’t see a point in a player taking up a scholarship spot in order to leave the very next year. I predict a whole lot of future players exercising this option. Time will tell.

7/16/08 – 4.1 miles in 39:32 (slow run right after biking home)

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With the latest cases reported as of July 14 according to the latest figures posted on the Web site of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nationwide toll from Salmonella Saintpaul now stands at 1,167 people in 42 states, the District of Columbia and Canada.

The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Alabama (2 persons), Arkansas (14), Arizona (54), California (9), Colorado (15), Connecticut (4), Florida (2), Georgia (28), Idaho (6), Illinois (104), Indiana (16), Iowa (2), Kansas (18), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (1), Maine (1), Maryland (32), Massachusetts (26), Michigan (21), Minnesota (19), Mississippi (2), Missouri (17), New Hampshire (4), Nevada (11), New Jersey (12), New Mexico (102), New York (32), North Carolina (22), Ohio (10), Oklahoma (25), Oregon (10), Pennsylvania (12), Rhode Island (3), South Carolina (2), Tennessee (8), Texas (449), Utah (2), Virginia (31),Vermont (2), Washington (17), West Virginia (1), Wisconsin (13), and the District of Columbia (1). Four ill persons are reported from Canada; all four appear to have been infected while traveling in the United States.

An initial investigation of the outbreak, in New Mexico and Texas, suggested raw tomatoes as the likely source of the contamination. But a larger, nationwide study comparing persons who fell ill in June found that those who were sickened were likely to have recently consumed raw tomatoes, fresh jalapeno, serrano peppers, and fresh cilantro.

The source of the outbreak shrouded in mystery, one could easily fall into the panic mode the media promotes. Statistically the chances of getting infected (even with these new cases) remains slim.  I for one am not going to avoid these foods (I love all 4 of them). I choose to simply wash and more importantly cook them to avoid any of the problems. Let’s not freak out… Stay smart either avoid the foods or cook them and remember even if you do eat them raw, your chances are still slim. 

 

7/14/08 – 4.1 miles in 36:00

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