Tag Archives: avoiding obesity

The workout routine that can save your life

I could have hurt myself this morning, but I decided against it.

I wanted to stay still, to drift back into sleep after the alarm sounded at 4:30 am because my husband thought that he needed his travel-alarm foghorn to start his morning shift.  Next time I’ll set my own, less jarring alarm and give him a brief slapping around instead.

Instead, I wobbled down the hallway as I usually do, made a strong cup of tea and got down to business.  I work out every day for 45 minutes before my incredibly sedentary 10+ hour shift.  It’s a four-day marathon, but it’s Monday, so I have a bit of sleep in the bank, and I promised myself that tonight I could brush, cuddle the kid and promptly stumble back into the Land of Nod.  (It’s likely that reality will prove this to be a lie.  Sometimes I live on a steady diet of delusion.)

I never used to work out in the morning.  I never used to get up early either.  Maybe you don’t want to do that, and who could blame you.  I didn’t either.  But you want to have the body and movement of a child, like my 65-year-old yoga teacher, who whips the hell out of us once a week.  She makes me feel both inferior and inspired.

Try five minutes.  Wake up five minutes early.  Just five, don’t get crazy and aim for more than that.  Do 5 minutes of exercise.  I do 60 crunches in that time.  Do 10 jumping jacks.  Reach up with both hands into a gentle stretch, then touch your toes (or knees).  Breath deeply.  There.  You’re all done.  Tomorrow curl a couple of soup cans for 5 minutes while you watch what the weather will be.  You can build your biceps while you decide what to wear.

I do my stomach exercises before bed, for five minutes or less.  I have great abdominal strength, and I know because in yoga class people 20 years younger than me were groaning when Ms. Lee beckoned us into a V, arms stretched forward, until time stood still.  I got to feel superior, if only for one moment.

Five minutes.  Do it tonight.  Do it tomorrow.  Who knows where it will lead?

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Is capitalism making you fat?

I wouldn't eat it, but I get it.

I wouldn’t eat it, but I get it.

Is capitalism making you fat, or are you making you fat?  The degree to which you believe either of these statements helps define how you feel about legislative reforms directed at your health, and more specifically, at obesity.

While adults can freely choose what they eat, it’s more than hunger that drives us.  Appetite as well as hunger, boredom, anxiety and visual stimuli direct us toward foods we consume.  Brian Wansink, at the Cornell Brand Lab, experiments with this sort of thing.  In his book Mindless Eating, he details an experiment during which secretaries are gifted candy dishes to place on their desk.  They are the only candy consumers during the experiment.  The subjects consumed more candy from a clear dish than an opaque one.  They consumed even less when the dish experimenters placed the dish three feet away.  The secretaries consumed the least candy when it was placed into a drawer.

Which of these accounts for breakfast sales soaring to about $47 billion in 2013 (up from 25.5 b. in 2011)?  Continue reading