Monday, December 28, 2009

New Spring Resolutions

It is that time of the year. December 28th and we've all but recovered from the various religious holidays of the month. As we look toward New Year's Eve and the dawning of the new decade, people start to ponder New Year's Resolutions (NYR). I must admit, I've never been much of a fan of making resolutions at the New Year. After all, if something in my life needs to change, I'm not one to wait until January 1st to make it happen (I understand, some people find my characteristic in this regard annoying).

I recognize how many people use January 1st and their New Year's Resolutions to change their lives. Some of the most popular NYRs are to quit smoking and to lose weight. Both are worthy goals! Sadly, the odds you will keep your NYR, any of them, are slim. Some data shows 71% keep their NYR for two weeks, 64% for a month and 50% for three months. By six months, only 46% of NYRs are fulfilled. Now don't be discouraged - there is a better way!!!

According to ancient wisdom traditions, all of the world and all of life follow seasons very similar to the seasons we observe in nature. Fighting these natural seasons is often an exercise in frustration and futility. Let's face it - no matter how much we dislike the cold of winter, when you live in the Northeast U.S., the cold of winter will present itself without fail. We get rains in the spring and the leaves fall from the trees in Autumn. Such it is and such it will be. Year after year, time after time.

Let us observe together what happens in the season of winter. It is cold so we want to stay inside. The sun rises late and sets early. It is really dark at night, so our bodies want to sleep more. Many of nature's creatures are now hibernating. If not full-time hibernation, at least their activity is much reduced and they spend more time sleeping and resting. More time being quiet, more time getting ready for the Spring. Nature's animals are not going to leave the warmth of their winter den to go out and start a new exercise program on January 1st. Nature's plants are not going to start to bloom on the first of the year just so they can be in better shape or more beautiful for the summer season. Nature gets it. Nature's animals and plants understand winter is a time for rest, hibernation, reflection, stillness, patience and for simply not yet knowing what the Spring will bring.

We humans are in the midst of one of the busiest times of our year and now we're about to jump into a NYR without the very thing nature knows we need most of all. Rest and reflection. Will we ever learn??? So, here is my hint for successful NYRs... Don't make any! This is simply not the time to do so. Take some hints from nature and think about starting a new trend with me: New Spring Resolutions! How?

Ten easy steps to New Spring Resolutions:
  1. Decide to not make any NYRs. Tell your family and friends you are going to respect nature this year and skip NYRs.
  2. Turn your lights off and rest more. Go to bed an hour earlier each night during January and February.
  3. Start a new bed time ritual. Spend 5 or 10 minutes before bed doing yoga, stretching your body or doing a meditation. Nothing fancy required. The goal? Move your body gently before bed to quiet your mind.
  4. Get a New Spring Resolution (NSR) Journal and put it beside your bed. Before you sleep and when you wake up, write down ideas and thoughts. What would you like to change about your life? What are your unfulfilled dreams? You are not making a plan at this point, just writing down some ideas.
  5. Take several walks each week. Short walks are better than no walks. Yes, it may be cold where you live so dress in layers. Just walk. Nowhere to go, nothing to do. Just walk and be outside. Take a family member along, or a friend, or a pet, or all of them at once. Walk three times a week.
  6. Start a "Gratefulness List." At Noon each day (set a calendar alarm if you want), write down one thing you are grateful for. Each day, starting on January 1. Each day, one item. Keep writing in your Gratefulness List until February 28 (at least).
  7. On February 13, read your NSR Journal and your Gratefulness List.
  8. On February 21, make a list of your New Spring Resolutions and share the list with your family and friends. I recommend one to five NSRs. Make them simple, specific and and give them a deadline. For example: I will do a 10 minute yoga routine 4 days each week from March 1, 2010 until September 30, 2010, or, I will only drink one soda per week from March 1st until June 30, 2010.
  9. On February 27 and 28 make a plan for each of your NSRs. The best plans are also simple. A plan can be something like: I will do 10 situps every time I want to drink a soda (You could still drink the soda and you will probably quickly figure out a soda isn't worth it, or maybe fewer and fewer of them will be worth it).
  10. On Monday, March 1, 2010 start your NSRs.
Now, I am not suggesting this is the only exercise you do during January and February. Our bodies always require exercise and good food. The exercise included above is purposefully designed to give you the stillness your brain needs to be ready to make your NSRs. Keep doing the other exercises you are doing. And, if you're not doing any exercise at all, this is a great way to start.

As for the rest of your time in January and February? When in doubt, rest more. Read something thought provoking. Have quiet chats with loved ones and friends about what you want the rest of your life to look like. Go outside and look at the stars. Stare into a fireplace. Drink a cup of hot cocoa. Cuddle with your honey, your kids or your pets. Think about what you want to plant in your garden come Spring (if you don't have a garden or space for one, research what vegetables you can plant in containers). Be still. Gather knowledge. Be quiet. Be patient. Now is not the time to know what you will do come Spring. Now is the time to not know.

Winter is the time to give yourself the space to really hear the voice inside. If you are quiet enough and still enough, you'll be able to hear things you've never heard before.

Monday, December 21, 2009

"Only Tiny Amounts of Heavy Metal...."

Sometimes we read things and are only left with utter disbelief. This article reports the EPA and USDA are pushing farmers to use coal waste on fields. One of the most disturbing lines in the entire disturbing article is "The US EPA says those toxic metals only occur in tiny amounts that pose no threat to crops, surface water or humans."

Am I the only skeptic here? Can we please just stop doing things that we only think won't be harmful? It seems to me we should be implementing proven policy that utilize the gifts and capacity of nature. We should not be creating a market for the waste byproduct of industry. This coal waste policy only benefits the coal waste producers and big industry farmers. Don't be fooled, fellow readers.

Why do I care? Food is medicine. What we put into our bodies directly impacts our health. I, for one, don't want my food grown in fields with "only tiny amounts of heavy metal" put there to help big business capitalize on a waste product. I want to be healthy and I want you to be healthy and eating foods treated with coal waste is a step in the wrong direction.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Old School. Will they learn?

While not specifically related to Cybercise, I received a random gift in the mail this week. This gift makes zero sense to me. None. I began to wonder about the death of the "old standard" companies. Are they dying because they just don't get it?

In my mailbox was a 5x5 inch box. Inside the box was a tin can with a screen print of Baltimore, Maryland. The can contained a single postcard with two messages: thanking me for being a loyal Baltimore Sun subscriber (I am not a subscriber, by the way) and asking me to fill out the postcard and return it by mail to become a subscriber. Huh?

Let us make a list of what is wrong with this marketing approach:
  1. It was silly to include two mutually exclusive statements on one piece of paper.
  2. I have no idea what I'm going to do with this tin can. Pennies? Paperclips?
  3. What a environmentally wasteful "gift." My first reaction was shock at the Baltimore Sun's total disregard for the environment. They killed trees to create the box and postcard, spent money (they don't have) on the can, packaging and postage costs to get it to me, wasted the resources of the postal service getting it here and used unknown quantities of fossil fuels making all of this happen.
  4. Who would actually subscribe for the paper based on this random tin can?

As we consider life in the "new world" and how products and goods are sold, shouldn't we take a step back and consider the larger picture? Let's create new things that are both good for our businesses and contribute to the greater good.

Cybercise does some of this. We're a virtual workforce so our team doesn't waste time and energy commuting to an office to sit in a cubicle with a computer all day. When we want to get together face-to-face, we meet for lunch. Both fun and productive! And, the very nature of our business helps our members save money. For less money than a bricks-and-mortar gym membership, we deliver gym quality workouts directly to our members' computers. They don't have to take the time or spend the gas money getting to the old school gym. That commute time can be used for more exercise. What a concept!

I think a challenge for each of us as individuals and all of us as business owners and employees is to look at the larger picture and think about the greater good. What do you think? Can we make 2010 the year we only do things that actually make sense? Or is that too much to ask?

Monday, November 9, 2009

In Defense of Food

Upon the recommendation of a friend, I read "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan. It is a very impactful piece of writing about the state of food in the US. The first section of the book introduces the concept of "nutritionism" which is the industrialization of our food. Mr. Pollan presents a clear and convincing history lesson for how we got into this mess. He then discusses the problems with the diet most American's consume. Lastly, and gratefully, he presents ideas on how to overcome nutritionism and the impact it has on the health of Americans.



Mr. Pollan includes a simple list of things each of us can do to improve the positive impact our food can have on our bodies. I'll resist the temptation to include the list here so you'll have further encouragement to read his book.



And, I'll leave you with one important thought. Most of what we eat is not actually food. Sadly the vast majority of "food" people consume are chemicals designed to pretend they are food. The best thing you can do for your health and the health of your loved ones is to eat actual, real food. How can you tell? One simply rule: If it comes in a box - it is not food.

China - The Next Target

The Wall Street Journal reported on Novartis' strategy to invest $1 billion in R&D in China. The article mentions the China market for pharmaceuticals is growing quickly and they are also contemplating health care reform to expand coverage into rural areas. The China strategy is a solid one for Novartis (as well as other pharma).



I began to wonder why China's market was suddenly so attractive. Could be a simple revenue, income and happy stockholders proposition? Could be a new market without the regulation and difficulty of the US market? Could be since Western culture has an expanded presence in China they actually now need the same medications we are taking to stay healthy?



I found this article reporting on the alarming increase in obesity in China. The growth in overweight and obese Chinese is attributed to changes in food habits, lifestyle choices and decrease in exercise.



So, let me get this straight... we introduce a Western lifestyle to a new population so then they need our Western remedies to cure them....



Is anyone else beginning to think the Western culture is a virus?

"Health Care Reform: Put down the doughnut."

Dr. Laskowski wrote an interesting piece on our role in health care reform. He talks about personal responsibility and how it is such an important factor in truly reforming our health care system. He then discusses the challenges of eating well - healthy food is more expensive, there are places in this country (inner cities) where you can't find fresh fruit and vegetables, and the unknown impact of genetics on a person's weight.

While he makes valid points it is these kinds of excuses that make it too easy for people to avoid the very same personal responsibility they must take. Yes, for some people it is hard to eat well and lose weight. However, one thing is clear - if you actually do put down the doughnut and walk more you'll be better off. One step closer to health and one doughnut bite further away from obesity.

Start small.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Doctors and Listening

I was talking to a practicing physician yesterday we wandered to the topic of his counseling patients on weight loss. He said even as a physician you have to be very careful what you say because some people are so sensitive about their weight and lack of exercise. A push too hard and the patient gets angry and won't come back. He takes the approach of gentle reminding and hints.

I continue to mull over the discussion today. I think we have to rely on our doctors to tell us the truth even if we don't to hear it. Who else tells us the unwanted truths? Are we simply happy to stick our heads in the dirt (or the bowl of cookie dough ice cream) and not face reality?

I believe that most people who need to take better care of themselves already know it. So why do people get upset when confronted with the truth?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Healthy Eating Too Costly?

This article in the Wall Street Journal shares some disturbing trends - in tough economic times our healthy eating habits are often sacrificed. The increase in sales for chips is astounding!

I find this all very curious. I wonder if our unhealthy eating habits are directly related to our budget or if it just makes us feel better. Let's face it, when the going gets tough we go for the brownies. Comfort food comes in fatty, sweet and calorie heavy varieties.

I did a quick internet search of easy, cheap meals and there are many options. Yes, doing so requires some advance planning. An hour or so on a Sunday to plan your meals for the week and some time at the grocery store and you'll have a plethora of meals for the week. You'll save the time doing the "what is for dinner" dance each evening, you'll have leftovers to take to work for lunch and you'll be eating way fewer calories.

I did a little experiment last week. I ate all of my meals at home for five days in a row and I ate basically whatever I wanted (granted my version of whatever I want is pretty healthy anyway). I lost two pounds. Two pounds with no effort other than eating in versus eating out.

Perhaps we should have an "Eat In America" week for all of us and see how many collective pounds we could all use. This causes a great deal of angst for our restaurant establishments and their revenue - many are already struggling. Perhaps they could respond with smaller portions and more healthy choices across the board.

Are you beginning to notice how everything is connected?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Foxes at the Government Guarding Your Henhouse?

Kudos to Jonathan Safran Foer for his opinion piece on the CNN website this week. He carefully describes the environment between the FDA, charged with regulating our food stuffs, and the food manufacturer's and special interest groups.

Basically, the Government agencies responsible for creating policy and guidelines about what we eat have a very cozy relationship with the very organizations working very hard to protect their own interests.

We need a truly independent organization without the pressures of special interests, profitability and status quo. The question is how do we get there?

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Friend on the Bandwagon

Dear Mark,
Thank you so much for your article on the new, mini-cans of coke. We couldn't agree with you more and enjoy your sense of humor.
Thanks,
Jane

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hassle, Rules and Policies

I wonder why retail establishments which we frequent make it so very difficult to do business with them? An incredibly long and frustrating story cut short because I only wish it to serve as background. My iPhone is not working. I went into the Apple Store (Columbia, Maryland) and simply wanted to buy a new phone. I didn't have the time to stand in the store while the "helpful" staff took me through the activation process. They would not sell me a phone unless I had it activated in the store. Apparently they would rather not have the sale than give a customer what they want. I refused and went home to order it online (which Tony in the store fully admitted would come to me non-activated). The online AT&T store only has 2-3 day shipping. My choices are to go without a phone for 2-3 days or agree to the retail store's inane policy.

This experience made me wonder about bricks-and-mortar gym memberships. I remember reading this article recently about someone two months into a two-year contract with Bally's when the gym declared bankruptcy. He had some difficulty getting his money back. Does anyone else think this is ridiculous? I would think by this time we'd be living in a refined world where we treated each other kindly and with respect.

When we were setting membership prices for Cybercise we decided on $10 a month and $120 per year. We had much discussion about giving a discount for a one-year membership and, for now, have opted to keep the pricing consistent. What does this do for you, our customer? You can join on a monthly basis and don't have to worry about a long-term contract. We want to make you happy and let's face it, $10 a month for unlimited workouts delivered directly to you, is quite a bargain. You don't have to drive to the gym, you don't have to put up with silly long-term contracts and you can workout as much as you want. And, we're so sure you're going to love us that we're comfortable with our month-to-month relationship.

If, for some inexplicable reason that I can't imagine at the moment, you are not satisfied with the customer service you get as a Cybercise member, just invoke the "Apple Store Insanity" defense. We'll make you happy.

P.S. - And we are working on an iPhone app so all of your favorite Cybercise workouts will be available to you anywhere!

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Stretch in Time Saves Nine

One of the best things about being a member of Cybercise is the number of exercise videos we have that are 15 minutes and shorter. The whole idea behind this very purposeful (and brilliant!) approach was to help our members fit fitness into their lives.


Hello! *jumps up and down and waves at you* You don't need to spend an hour in the gym to improve your level of health. The CDC even says "10 minutes at a time is fine." If you are not working out because you don't have an hour in your day to stop what you're doing and go to the gym, try us.


During my travels this week, several people have asked me what a "typical" week of Cybercise could look like. I've put together the following schedule to give you an idea of the how easy it is to get all of your exercise (and more) into your week. And, as a member of Cybercise, we even give you a handy calendar feature so you can plan your workouts in by week to be sure you're covering all the bases.


Here goes:
Monday -
AM - Morning Yoga (10 m)
Noon - Upper Body I (15 m)
After work - Abs I (10 m)
Bedtime - Upper Body Stretch (10 m)

Tuesday -
AM - Total Body Stretch (15 m)
Noon - Walk (10 m)
After work - Lower Body I (15 m)
Bedtime - Lower Body Stretch (10 m)

Wednesday -
AM - Morning Yoga (10 m)
Noon - Arms I (5 m) and Chest I (5 m)
After work - Abs I (10 m)
Bedtime - Upper Body Stretch (10 m)

Thursday -
AM - Total Body Stretch (15 m)
Noon - Walk (10 m)
After work - Glutes and Hams I (5 m)
Bedtime - Lower Body Stretch (10 m)

Friday -
AM - Morning Yoga (10 m)
Noon - Arms I (5 m) and Back I (5 m)
After work - Abs I (10 m)
Bedtime - Upper Body Stretch (10 m)

Saturday -
REST

Sunday -
AM - Total Body Stretch (15 m)
Noon - Walk (10 m)
Bedtime - Bedtime Yoga (15 m)

There you go! When you follow this schedule, believe it or not , you'll have done some kind of exercise for a total of 270 minutes! Awesome, well done! *roars from the crowd* Notice, I included walking which you would do outside of Cybercise. You can add walking (and all other non-Cybercise activities) into your workout calendar on our site.

The idea is to show you how much flexibility you have as a member. If you know one day of your week will be particularly busy (say a PTA meeting at school on Wednesday night), simply schedule that day as your rest day or schedule a 10 minute stretch routine. If you want more heart pumping exercise schedule more cardio and reduce the schedule of strength training.

To make this all possible, you simply have sign on to Cybercise and follow along with the videos. You don't have to think, plan, ponder, consider, worry or fret. I challenge you to follow this schedule for 2 weeks. Two tiny small weeks out of your fabulous life. At the end of those two weeks, you'll feel better.

Join us. Let's get to health together a few moments as a time.
You can do it.
We're here for you.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mini Soda + Mini Snacks = Mini Me?

Coca-Cola announced today it will produce 90-calorie mini-cans of soda. This follows the trend of 100 calorie snack packs started a few years ago. Good idea? Let us consider...

A can of classic Coke is 12 ounces and 140 calories, or 11.68 calories per ounce. On Coca-Cola's website the nutrition information says 8 ounces of classic Coke is 97 calories, or 12.125 calories per ounce. First of all, I'm confused about the discrepancy. Secondly, the can sitting in front of me claims the serving size is 1 can. Why is the nutrition information on the website stated in terms of 8 ounces? And, why are the numbers different? Classic Coke is classic Coke. Yes, or no? Who remembers the "New Coke" debacle? And, I digress...

Let us average the calories per ounce from these two data points and presume an ounce of Coke classic is 11.89 calories per ounce. Therefore, the new "mini-cans" of Coke will be roughly 7.5 ounces.

I'm presented with so many thoughts here, which to cover first???

  1. Is 12 ounces of Coke classic actually considered one serving?
  2. If 12 ounces is one serving, why is the nutrition information on their website posted based on 8 ounces?
  3. Why would they produce a new product only 1/2 ounce less than the nutrition information included on the website?
  4. Is Coca-Cola merely attempting to get "credit" for being concerned about the health of their consumers?
  5. Is this in response to PepsiCo's announcement it is joining the "Healthy Weight Community Foundation"? Coca-Cola had to do something, after all!
  6. Is this simply a marketing ploy to get the Coke name in the press?
  7. Is this a brilliant strategy to increase revenue and make stockholders happy?
To round out the discussion, let's peer into a little history. This website has a great look back at the creation of 100 calorie snack packs. Some highlights:
  • Started in 2004 by Kraft
  • Within three years, the sales of 100 calorie packs was more than $200 million
  • Sales grew 28% in one year alone
  • The consumer pays between 16 and 279 percent more by buying 100 calorie packs

Wow.

I believe we all will support things to make it easier to make better food choices. Yes, it is tough to take one cookie out of the pack and leave the rest of the row intact. It is harder to eat one chip. In some ways, the 100 calorie packs are good for us. We have to make a more conscious choice to open another 100 calorie pack; it is much less obvious to take another handful from a big bag (who will notice, anyway?).

And, yet, I'm left with a little tickle of doubt. Is Coca-Cola only really creating mini-cans to make it easier for their devoted fans to enjoy a Coke without over-indulging? Or, would they like sales to increase by 20-plus percent this year and would they like their consumers to pay over 15 percent more for the product?

A greater number of smaller cans, just like a greater number of smaller calorie packs, are not good for our Earth. More manufacturing cost, more waste, more energy to create and distribute, more trash. Why are we creating and supporting (with our purchasing power) products that undermine our own willpower and strength to make good choices while they are damaging the environment?

Isn't it better to spend the time, money and energy educating each other (and our kids) about real nutrition? Coca-Cola is an American institution and sometimes there is nothing better than a ice-cold glass of Coke. And, for our health, only sometimes (have you read the ingredient label?)!

Perhaps it would make more sense if Coca-Cola spent their valuable time and resources by sending each person in America one 12-ounce can of Coke every three months to enjoy at will. We could look forward to our quarterly can of Coke, enjoy it without guilt and feel good about our health and our concern for the environment. Or, we can fool ourselves into thinking the people making money from us are really only creating new products for our benefit.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Rome Was Built in a Day

Okay, in truth, Rome was built in a series of days. A series of "one day" periods all running together and tada - Rome! It started with one day, however. It started with the one day when someone said, "Hey, let's build the most magnificent city ever!" Then a bunch of other people decided they had nothing better to do on that one very specific day and that was the start of Rome. One day.

What does Rome have to do with Cybercise? A great deal, actually. Many people tell me they don't have time to get to the gym. They don't have time to workout for an hour. They don't have time to get healthy and be well. And, I understand. The irony of starting a wellness company is I have less time for my own exercise and wellness. And, I'm passionate enough about my mission to keep going.

What is my mission? To help each of you (yes, you!) realize starting small is worth everything. Sure, I'd love everyone to workout for an hour every day. And, I know this is unlikely for many. We are parents, we are spouses, we are employees, we volunteer, we supervise the nightly homework and train the dog and make a healthy dinner and do laundry and clean up and.... Egad, who has the time, not to mention the energy, to workout?

And, we each have a little voice inside telling us how much better we'll feel. We like to be in our skinny jeans. We enjoy chasing the kids and not being exhausted. We know, each of us, know that exercise is good for us. And, we also know it is so intimidating.

I'm proposing that we each start with one day. Just one day where you promise to exercise for a mere 10 minutes. Sure, I'd love you to be a Cybercise member and workout with us - we make it so easy for you - join us and follow along. And, I really only ask you to workout for 10 minutes tomorrow. Take a walk for 10 minutes, do some stretching, do some sit-ups. It doesn't matter what you do - do something. Something for you, for your spouse, for your kids and for all of us.

Start small and think big. You're not going to lose 10 pounds tomorrow and you're not going to have six pack abs by the end of the day and the skinny jeans won't fit quite yet. And, they will. They will because you'll be on the road to Rome. You'll be having the one day that made all the difference in the world.

Join me, won't you?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Speaking or Hearing?

An article in the LA Times today reports 1 in 3 overweight adults said they were of normal weight and 82% of obese people thought they were merely overweight. What is going on here?

The article puts some of the blame on doctors for not adequately or accurately telling their patients they are overweight. I wonder if this is because our physicians have been forced, due to insurance company intervention, to only spend an average of 7 minutes with each patient. Who has time in 7 minutes to discuss the issue the patient presented for along with BMI and weight loss concerns? And, then what do doctors tell their patients? Eat less and exercise more. What does that mean, exactly? Our doctors haven't been trained in such things - astounding and true!

I would suspect every overweight person knows, somewhere in the depths of their soul, something is just not right. Does everyone know their BMI? Probably not. Is it easy to figure out? Yes - go here. Is BMI perfect? Certainly not. Is is a good place to start? Yes. If your BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9 you are considered of normal weight.

And, I wonder even more if this article is continuing the trend of blame push? Have we really gotten to a place where none of us knows anything about our bodies unless our doctor tells us it is so? None of should really need a doctor or a calculator to know that we should lose a few pounds (most women can tell you when they walk into their closet to choose something to wear).

We are each responsible for ourselves and we should watch out for our loved ones. Do you need to lose a few pounds? What about your spouse or kids? We need to listen to our bodies and hear the voice inside. Is it easier to eat a brownie in front of the television or take a walk after dinner? The sofa, brownie and television are calling. Don't answer... be too busy moving your body. You know. You only need to hear.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Health! It's the law!

Can we legislate health? Even as I write the question, it seems a bit silly. And yet, some places are trying. An article in the LA Times today discusses a study published by The Rand Corporation which shows a ban on fast-food restaurants will not curb obesity rates. Not shocking, I realize. And, it makes me wonder. Do our elected officials believe passing new laws will help us find our way out of the obesity epidemic?

Yes, many areas of this country are over burdened with fast food establishments (here is a pretty impressive map of McDonald's locations). But I think we have a different problem. The places where people eat aren't as much of an issue as what they eat. At nearly all places to eat you can find some choices that aren't too bad for you. So, do laws that ban fast food restaurants have any impact?

Maybe we can tax "bad" food and ban "bad" restaurants. That is sure to legislate our way out of trouble. As if...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Foxes and Houses of Hen

We here at Cybercise are all about helping people to make better food choices. And, we're not particularly concerned with who is delivering the message as long as the message is unbiased. When people begin to publish messages without altruistic intent, we can all get in trouble, especially when the innocent reader is unaware of the bias.
The LA Times reported in this blog yesterday that several of the very large processed food manufacturers have started a new foundation called the "Healthy Weight Communities Foundation." As a person who has spent a great deal of time in other arenas thinking up names for things, they get a kudos for this name. One could even start to believe that they are committed to ensuring people in communities are of healthy weight.
I am not one to impugn something before it happens, but I will admit being a bit of a skeptic here. The contributors to this foundation are publicly traded companies that create processed foods. Just about everything on the grocery store shelves in the aisles in the middle of the store is produced by these companies. Do they (and their stockholders) really want us to stop eating the things that caused the unhealthy weight in the first place? I suspect some public relations folks suggested they had to do something before they were accused (or sued) for causing these problems to begin with. Starting a foundation, forking over several million dollars and releasing some press about how they care. Yeah! That's the ticket - then we'll look like the good guys.
I think if they were really committed to ensuring our communities were of healthy weight they would stop producing processed foods and use their muscle and money to figure out how to get affordable, whole, natural and non-processed food to all Americans.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Awareness

I went into a new sandwich, salad and soup shop for lunch today. It was a pretty small place, maybe 15 tables and most of them were full. This was my first time visiting this particular establishment so I was unsure of what to expect. In front of me snaked a line of 5 or 6 people and a full place - I was encouraged. After deciding on mixed greens topped with couscous and chickpeas, I started to look around at what other people were eating. Most of them were having sandwichs - the bread looked really good.

And, then I looked at the people. Every single patron was overweight. Literally, every single one of the 30 or 40 people in there could have lost at least 20 pounds. At least half of them would be considered obese. What is happening?

We know the statistics from the CDC say that more than one-third of the adults in the U.S. are obese. We know that nearly two-thirds are considered overweight. I'm baffled why the trends are not getting better - and they are not. Virtually no improvement in obesity rates in the last few years. The good news is that it is not really getting worse, but the long term impact on the all of us is frightening.

Obesity is expensive (from the CDC):
  • In 2000, obesity-related health care costs totaled an estimated $117 billion.
  • Between 1987 and 2001, diseases associated with obesity account for 27% of the increases in medical costs.
  • Medical expenditures for obese workers, depending on severity of obesity and sex, are between 29%–117% greater than expenditures for workers with normal weight.
  • From 1979–1981 to 1997–1999, annual hospital costs related to obesity among children and adolescents increased, rising from $35 million to $127 million.

Perhaps the first step in solving this problem is awareness. Look at the people around you. Not in judgement or disdain. Simply be aware. How many of your family members need to lose some weight? How about friends and co-workers?

We can all make changes. Small steps, each day. Give up soda tomorrow. Have a piece of fruit instead of a sugary snack for dessert. Take a walk around the block this evening after dinner. If you are in shape and at a healthy weight, keep up the good work to set an example for others. Invite a friend along. We can make improvements and even have some fun at it if we work on it together. Take a walk with me... won't you?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Fruits and Veggies

A discouraging report from the CDC - no state meets the recommended consumption for fruits and vegetables. Healthy People 2010 set objectives that at least 75% of Americans would eat 2 or more fruit servings a day and 50% would eat 3 or more veggie servings a day. Our results? Only 33% get the recommended fruits and only 27% are eating their veggie servings.

The impact of this behavior is pretty signficiant. First of all, not getting enough fruits and veggies is bad for your body. These foods reduce your risk for stroke, diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. They contain fiber and important nutrients. They are also more calorie-friendly that other snacks. Read more on why they are good for you.

As if that is not bad enough, each of our choices impact all of us. Contrary to what you might think, we are all really in the same health care system. Yes, we may have different insurance and we may go to different places to receive care. However, there are limited resources in our health care system, and they are shrinking. If each of us keeps ourselves and our families more healthy, it will reduce the burden on our health care system.

The bottom line? Fruits and veggies are good for you. They're good for your loved ones. They're good for your neighbors. And, they're good for America. Come on, people! Peel a banana, bite into an apple, eat some salad greens or broccoli.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Women's Life Expectancy

Research shows with "one-point increase in their Body Mass Index, women had a 12% lower chance of surviving to age 70 in good health when compared to thin."

We all know we have to maintain a healthy weight. We all know we have to eat well. We all know we have to get enough sleep. And, we all know we feel better when we do.

If you can't do it for yourself, do it for the sake of someone you love. Your spouse, a friend, your child, a pet or a passion.

Getting started is the hardest part. Keep it up is the next hardest part. Doing if for someone you love? It is easy. When you join our web portal, you'll have access to many exercise videos that are only 5 or 10 minutes. Starting with something, even 5 minutes a day is better than nothing at all.

Do it for someone you love.
Do it so you'll be around to love them for a long, long time.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Kids and Exercise

A recent report on The Daily Mirror says that British kids aren't getting the hour of exercise recommended each day for good health. What aboout American kids? The CDC also recommends an hour of exercise for US kids as well.

With the changes in education policy many schools are providing as much physical education classes. And, we all know how much our kids like to use computers at home.

What can you do? Send your kids outside to play. Bike, run with the family dog, or play basketball with their neighborhood pals. As parents, we can set a good example. Go on a family walk after dinner each night and show them how your make your own exercise a priority.

Good habits now will pay a lifetime of dividends.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Exercise and Work Quality

A great article in today's Honolulu Star Bulletin about exercise and work. The article quotes molecular biologist John Medina who says "exercise boosts brain power." How many of us would appreciate more brain power? *roars from the crowd*

The bottom line is we all know exercise is good for us. And, we sometimes have a hard time making it work in our lives. This is precisely why we created Cybercise. Even a quick workout, stretching routine or cardio program is better than doing nothing.

Read the article for inspiration and send it to your boss. We have corporate Cybercise memberships so your whole company can get healthy together and work quality goes up and health care costs and absenteeism goes down. Win-win-win!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Health Reform

We at Cybercise are saddened at the current legislative proposals on health reform. The existing conversations only introduce marginal changes to the status quo. We were hopeful for real reform and are left to hope that all of the current proposals fail to pass Congress.

What is missing? Real, meaningful and comprehensive steps to get people healthy. Education, support, incentives and rewards need to be part of the solution.

Come on America. We can do better than this.

Friday, September 25, 2009

What to Eat

Several friends, mostly men, have asked recently how do they know what they should eat. In some ways, I am confused by this question. There are millions and millions of books, links, diets, etc. out there. How can someone not know what to eat?

Perhaps the issue is the amount of information makes it all very confusing and intimidating. I'm not a nutritionist so I'm qualified to tell anyone what to eat. I can do two things - share a typical day in my food life and recommend some books and links that I find helpful.

A Day of Food
Personally, I've found I need many fewer calories than would be "prescribed" per conventional wisdom. I've also found the more I eat, the more I want to eat. If I have a few days of light eating, I feel better and have less cravings. I like to avoid sugar, white flour and all processed food (notice I say "like" - I eat some of these each week). This is really much easier than you probably think.

Here are my food standards for a day that I eat all meals at home - as much organic as possible.
Breakfast - Bowl of fresh fruit (always blueberries and a banana; as available strawberries, blackberries, plum, orange, peach or what is in season and is ripe), ground flaxseed and a sprinkle of cinnamon. A handful of almonds.
Snack - Piece of fruit
Lunch - Poached egg, avocado, sliced tomato
Snack - Cucumbers and hummus
Dinner - Chicken or fresh fish; salad greens (with olive oil/balsamic); cooked vege (peas, corn, broocoli
Snack - Recent favorite are dark chocolate covered almonds (I go through phases and my favorite changes from time to time)

I drink iced green tea all day (some might say too much). And I drink several 20 oz nalgene bottles of water. I also love red wine and have a few glasses per week - lest you think I'm a purist. If I have a day with lots of meals out, I try to balance that with a day of eating less at home. Don't torture yourself trying to be perfect, every day. Look at a few days at a time and approach your eating comprehensively.

Here are some great resources:

Again, I'm not trained or qualified to tell anyone what to eat. I can share my own experience - I feel better when I eat less and when what I eat is natural, whole foods. I feel better when I can taste the real quality in my food. And, I think we each need to experiment and find those things feel good about eating.

Good luck and bon app├ętit!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Introduction

Hi! I'm Jane the virtual presence here at Cybercise. Thanks for reading my blog.

My job with the company is to expand our brand and introduce more people to the benefits of Cybercise. On this blog, I'll share ideas, thoughts about exercise, nutrition, wellness and trends. We'll try not to get into the debate on health reform, though the topic is ready for some rational discussion.

Thanks for reading and congratulations on finding the new way to fit fitness into your life!

What is Cybercise?

Get ready... we're a revolution in getting and keeping you healthy and fit! Cybercise (www.cyber-cise.com) is a new kind of fitness company. Through our web portal and your monthly membership you'll be able to have fitness and wellness content on your desktop. Animated videos narrated by a personal trainer will guide you through each routine.

We've designed much of our content to help you fit fitness into your life. Most of us don't have the time to spend an hour or more in the gym each day. Many of the Cybercise videos are 5 to 10 minutes. Do a quick ab routine before breakfast. Work your upper body during your lunch break. Take a 5 minute meditation break in your office during the afternoon slump (a great alternative to heading to the vending machine!).

We are constantly creating new content and would love your thoughts and ideas of what you'd like to see (go to the Discussion Board - Suggestion Box).

Best of all - we're affordable. Our membership is a mere $10.00 per month. You have unlimited access to as many routines as you want. You have a calendar that will help you plan your workouts. You have a space to connect to your workout buddies, so you can encourage them to workout and they can cheer for you. If you like good spirited competition, start a Challenge with your buddies to get all of you moving your way toward better health.

Cybercise.
Jack be nimble. Jane be quick.