Monday, November 29, 2010

A Simpler System?

Can we make the previously discussed label even more simple? Of course we can. While traveling through the UK last week, I noticed this nifty little label on the front of food packages sold by Tesco. This is a box of cake mix which produces 12 cupcakes.

I think we can further adapt our last food label version to assign a red, yellow or green label for the calorie count and to identify the kinds of fat. I also think the "V" on the label for vegetarian is a nice touch.

As we go back to the label design room, we'd love to hear your ideas. Remember, our goal here is to help people make better food choices. Stay tuned for the next version!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Seven Days Postscript

Seven days ago, I spent the day in a room with other people all with an interest to make the healthcare system better and being healthy easier. That day, in and of itself, was very powerful. And, what has happened since is even more powerful.

I've gotten new ideas for Food Label Redefined. Cybercise (@Cybercise) has a whole slew of new Twitter followers, including some people who could really further the idea. The food label project is a small diversion from the real work of Cybercise but we are focused on educating people and having clear food labels would certainly help learn how to make better food choices.

In the next several weeks, I have meetings with some of the people I met at HealthCampDC 10. Some of the meetings are to talk about Cybercise and some of the meetings are to learn more about what my newly-found friends are doing. I was kindly educated by some of the HealthCampers on matters of technology and those brief conversations have given me new ideas to make Cybercise better, stronger, faster. I have increased energy, faith and hope that a group of people getting together really can make a difference.

And, most importantly, I've remembered and confirmed something I long suspected. If I can help someone else get to their goal and achieve their mission, I gain just as much (if not more) in the process. The beauty of an un-conference is it gives people with a common spirit a place to get together, swap ideas, offer advice and lend a helping hand.

If you haven't attended a HealthCamp, find one near you soon. Matthew Browning is hosting one in Connecticut in April. (For the scoop follow @MatthewBrowning). I'm working on some space to host one of my very own in the Maryland-area. If you can't find one near you, host one. Mark (@ekivemark) elegantly hosted HealthCampDC 10 (follow him!) and can offer advice.  To catch up on what happened last Friday, search for #hcdc10. And, get in the conversation by using the hashtag, too.

HealthCamps are for everyone. The more the merrier. And, together we can, and we will, make all the difference in the world.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Label ReDefined

My latest pet project is designing a "front of package" label for all foods sold in the US. Thanks to a few really smart people and time on the agenda at HeatlhCampDC 2010 last week, I'm here to debut the REAL FOOD FACTS label. Keep in mind this is not meant to replace the current information in the "Nutrition Facts" box on our current food packaging. Changing that label would require a epic battle followed by a miracle so let's just leave that as it is and create something new.

The Real Food Facts label is designed with the following goals:
  • Clear, front-of-package information
  • Easily and universally understood symbols
  • Raise awareness of food processing
  • Educate consumers on distance from farm to fork

Now we'll go through the main sections:
  • FAT, SUGAR, SALT: Most consumers intuitively understand a green smiley face is good and a red frowning face is bad. Over time, consumers would choose packages with more  and fewer . Dare I say this would revolutionize the way food is made!
  • MILES: Fresh food that travels long distances has less nutrients. When fruits and vegetables are picked unripe and shipped hundreds, if not thousands, of miles the nutritional value suffers and the benefit to the consumer is reduced. This part of the label is designed to raise awareness about the origin of food and the environmental impact of food travel. 
  • TREE to FACTORY: The amount of natural, real, whole food in much of the food American's eat is growing smaller and smaller. This bar shows the percentage of natural vs. man-made ingredients contained in the package. Those consumers who want to reduce the amount of processed food they eat would select products with a greater percentage of "tree" ingredients. 
  • POINTS: The points system is designed to integrate with public health and consumer-based affinity programs. Consumers could collect points and donate the value to their favorite school or charity. Innovative companies could also offer rewards and prizes in exchange for points.
  • QR CODE: The QR code would enable consumers to quickly and easily get additional nutrition information at the point of sale. Additional information available through the QR Code could include information on chemical additives and even recipe ideas for the food product. 
Next steps:
  • Collect and gather feedback from consumers. Do some market testing. (Hello Steve Case @stevecase! Would you like to fund this?)
  • Get the idea on television. (Hello Oprah @oprah and Ellen @theellenshow! I'd be happy to do an interview!)
  • Have a major food manufacturer agree to adopt this model as the the front-of-package labels (Hello Trader Joe's!! You would be a great early-adopter!) 
  • Enroll a panel of nutrition experts (not beholden to food, big farm or big Ag businesses) to develop the detailed thresholds for each label section (Hello, Mark Hyman @markhymanmd and Andrew Weil @drweil!! You'd be perfect to lead this panel!)
  • Recruit an innovative company to create the points administration and rewards system (Hello anyone who is interested!)
  • Design and develop the QR codes which could also be used to feed an individual's food diary (Hello smart developer people!)
  • Help our elected officials understand how it can be easy to educate consumers on the food choices they make. (Hello First Lady Obama @whitehouse! Help us make this happen!)
  • Combat and reverse the obesity trend in the US by helping people eat better (Hello Jamie Oliver @jamie_oliver! Want to help the cause?).
If you are any of the individuals in the "Next Steps" list, please write to me. 

To the real people that will make this happen (that is you!) the way these things happen is by sharing. Share on the web... Facebook, re-blog, Twitter, media (@huffposthealth), etc.  If you're interested in keeping up with updates, follow along on Twitter @Cybercise

A big, huge dose of thanks to my fellow attendees at HealthCampDC 2010
@ for organizing the conference
@MJChatter for keeping the day organized and running
@Carefirst_News for hosting us
@MatthewBrowning for his great ideas include "tree" and "factory"
And, the others in our little group for which I don't have a Twitter handle. 

I'm looking forward to the day I walk into my local grocery store and see rows and rows of these labels. For now, answer this question, "What can you do today to make a difference?"

I'm here! I'm here!

My last update was the letter to our members about the system failure last week. Gratefully, we were able to recover the data and got things back to normal after a few days. Needless to say, updating the blog with the 10 pound quest fell to the bottom of the list during that time. A few observations from the last week or so and then on to my Move.Eat.Be. plan for this week:

  • I've never been a person who turns to food as a way to deal with stress (thankfully). My body responds by not wanting food. My stress is always centered in my stomach which zaps my appetite. 
  • I also don't sleep much in times of turmoil. My mind works overtime and if, I wake up, I'm up. I had several very early mornings last week which provided me some benefit of sticking with my exercise routine. I will say waking up between 4:30 and 5:30 AM for a week isn't really fun. I love sleep and I really, really miss it when I don't get enough. 
  • By Friday the scale was 127 pounds and I was exhausted. Cybercise sponsored a great event on Friday, HealthCampDC 2010, so I was distracted from my exhaustion by spending the day with smart, innovative and creative people (more on HealthCamp later!). 
  • The weekend was recovery time. I managed to get more sleep, get myself re-organized and catch up on some of the work that was put aside last week. Plus, I kept an eye on our AnyLuckyDay contest on Saturday and had great fun reading all of the comments about us. I also ran 2 miles on Saturday and took my dog for a nice long walk on Sunday. It was a welcome break to be outside and away from computer screens for a few hours each day. 
  • And, the scale this morning? 130. Ugh. Just in case the Universe gets any ideas, I'll deal with the extra three pounds in a healthful way... I do not desire any more catastrophes this week to help with the weight loss. 
  • What have I learned? 
    • Be more vigilant about how our website is managed so as to avoid major issues.
    • Keep exercising, no matter how bad things get. It was truly the only thing that kept me sane.
    • Water not coffee.  
    • Spend more time with smart, innovative and creative people. It was so energizing!
    • Use time in nature to balance too much time with electronics.
Today's Thoughts:
  • Most of the many things on my list last week got delayed. I now have four days before departure for my trip and 10 days worth of work to do. Plus, an all-day meeting on Wednesday (an hour away and which starts with breakfast at 6:30 AM -- who does that??) and the pesky details like packing. Efficiency is king this week and I'm facing the very real reality that this holiday will include significant work. 
  • My right hip and lower back is a bit achy this morning. I skipped the run this morning and did some extra stretching and core work. I also did upper body strength work and will do more stretching this evening.
  • My right arm and elbow is also very painful today. I have "mouse elbow" which is tennis elbow from mousing/keyboarding. I have been through our medical system and there is no "cure." I know what works... staying off of the computer. Since I have much work to do, I've set a reminder on my Cybercise calendar for an upper body stretch every two hours today. Wrist and forearm stretches help a great deal so I'll go that route today. 
  • Last night, I tossed together a very quick and easy Chana Masala. It was a great light and warming dinner for a Sunday evening. Will enjoy what is left for lunch today. The rest of the Eat. plan this week is mostly fruits and vegetables with a few hard boiled eggs for protein. Arugula, sauteed kale and organic, frozen blueberries are my best food friends. 
And, now back to work. I'm so excited to write to the winners of our AnyLuckyDay contest! A great website and if you're not familiar, find them on the web, Twitter and Facebook. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Open Letter to Cybercise Members

Dear Cybercise Members,
Last night we experienced a catastrophic failure on our website portal located at

The good news? We were able to recover the website by rolling back to an older version. The site is now operational.

The bad news? Any information you added in the last several weeks to your personal profile, your favorite video programs and your personalized workout calendar is gone.

So as not to bore you with the long, painful story of how we allowed this to happen, I offer this short version. Several weeks ago, we moved our website to the Amazon Cloud to improve site performance and set the stage for the many new features we have in development. There were several mistakes made during this transition to the Cloud the biggest of which being a proper backup system was not established. Some errors occurred yesterday evening and, in an attempt to fix them, the website crashed and could not be recovered, hence the loss of your data. At this writing, we continue to explore other data recovery strategies.

You have our most sincere apologies. To attempt to make amends, we offer the following:
  • A refund on any membership fees you have paid to Cybercise this year
  • A free one-year membership starting today
  • Free Cyberbands 
To take advantage of this offer please write to me at We will confirm your information and process your request.

Please know we are working diligently to make sure this kind of thing never happens again. While it is hard to see at the moment, I recognize that the best learning often comes with the hardest bumps. I promise the lessons I learned in this situation will enable us to make Cybercise even better well into the future.

Thank you for your patience, understanding and continued support.


Joanne Frederick
Founder and CEO

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tuesday Gratefulness

An early morning and a great workout already accomplished! I must admit I didn't want to hop on the treadmill this morning and the first few paces were sluggish, at best. I wanted to stop. As I lumbered along I kept thinking about all of the people who want to stop. I thought about those who do stop. I thought about those who continue. I thought of a friend from high school who ran the Marine Corp marathon recently. I thought of some of the Wounded Warriors I've had the honor to work with, those who don't stop even when they come home missing a limb.

We all have those moments when we want to stop. If you find yourself facing one of those moments, think of all the other people who didn't stop. Be inspired by them and then keep going so you can inspire someone else down the line. We all have something to be grateful for each day. Today, I'm grateful for the inspiration and encouragement I receive from others. If you need a dose of encouragement, write to me. I'll cheer for you.

PS - Down a pound this morning.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Monday Move.Eat.Be. plan

Happy Monday! Gratefully it is not quite so dark in the morning and I really don't like when it gets dark at 5:30 in the afternoon. I'd encourage you to explore how you can have completely opposite feelings about the same thing. Both and.

Last week was full of a great deal of activity including several meetings and conferences. Simply put, it is more difficult to be healthy when the schedule is full. And, I suffered from the same thing I encourage people to avoid. I put my own health last, at least once, last week. Sometimes it will happen and we can't beat ourselves up when it does. We have to guard against letting it happen over and over.

And now for the big push. In 10 days, I leave for a trip for the Thanksgiving holiday. I want to crush at least a few of the final 5 pounds in the next 10 days (scale was 129.8 this morning). So, to start the week, here is my Move.Eat.Be. plan.

I've already done the most of my workout for the day and am glad I can sink my teeth into work and not worry about getting caught up and not getting that done today. I also have a great deal of work I would like to get finished before the trip so most of my meals this week are things that don't require a great deal of time or attention. Lots of arugula... have I mentioned I love arugula??? 

Feel free to use this format and create your own Move.Eat.Be. plan for this week. I promise, it will make all the difference in the world. Happy week! 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Saturday's Adventure

I spent the day at Tai Sophia Institute for their Live Nourished Conference. We were fortunate enough to have some of the thought leaders in nutrition spend the day sharing their philosophy about food and health. A few powerful quotes from the day:

  • Kathie Swift who wrote My Foundation Diet said "You should never eat food that will out-live you." 
  • Paul Pitchford, author of Healing with Whole Foods shared, "When you're ready to change your diet, it is easy."
  • Sally Fallon Morell from the Weston A. Price foundation shared a quote from Dr. Price, "Life in its fullness is Mother Nature obeyed."
  • Charles Eisenstein author The Ascent of Humanity of said, "My body is not my enemy and I cannot rely on an external authority to tell me what to eat." 
  • Annemarie Colbin, Founder of the Natural Gourmet Institute, reminded us, "If you change your diet, everything changes."
Food plays a huge role in our health and wellness. Some would say the biggest role. I'll share more teachings and wisdom from these fabulous speakers over the coming days.  The most exciting news...  Tai Sophia Institute is taking the learning and wisdom from today and will create a new graduate degree program in Holistic Nutrition. Stay tuned!

Friday, November 5, 2010

On the Board

The daily 10pounds update is being replaced by the excitement of this Friday. I arrived at TEDxMidAtlantic this morning to find a big giant white board with the question "What if..." across the top. Not being one to miss an opportunity to write on the board, I added the idea from yesterday's blog.

I stood by all day waiting to be invited on stage to talk about my idea. Alas, I was not. Maybe next time.

Instead I spent the day being inspired and awed by an amazing array of ideas, thoughts and experiences. The entire day was full of the kind of energy that not only helps us ask world-changing "What if..." questions, but it helps us answer them in new and creative ways.

I encourage you to take some time and watch some TED talks. The ones from today will be posted soon.

More so, I encourage you to ask your own "What if..." questions. I invite you to post them on our Facebook page or Tweet them to us and your friends. I might even suggest you start to share them with strangers. Use this weekend to do something big.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Front of the Box

Inspired by Michael Jacobson's blog in the Huffington Post yesterday, I decided to do some more research into food labels and "front of the box" activities. This summer, inspired by my niece, I offered the idea that we only eat things less than five degrees from nature. That work inspired further research into processed food and I then thought it would be a good idea if the processed food box was required to list what had to happen to get the food in the box. 

Combine all of those thoughts with some of the ways the U.K. uses labels to help consumers and....  I have designed a "front of the box" label for all food sold in the U.S. Yes, you are welcome. We can now avoid and eliminate months of wrangling and politics and simply implement my idea. I'll even give it away!

My front of the box label looks like this ------->

As you can see, it is very clear from the beginning the food is processed. The label then lists each ingredient (with synonyms) and describes the process used to create the ingredient. 

Doing this research was frightening. I have no clue what "epimerized" means and I'm too afraid to look. To make matters worse, in the attempt to find this information I came across a catalogue of food additive manufacturers based in China.

Are the majority of our food additives made in China? Given some of the concerns with pet food and baby formula recently, this is really scary. Not to mention the fact many of these additives say "safe for infant food" on them. Safe? Who made that decision? The FDA and the GRAS list? Am I the only one who is a bit skeptical here? Apologies for the rant. Back to the label...

The bottom of the front of the box food label lists Fat, Sugar and Salt with easily understood, colored stickers. This particular product (a real product and a relatively "healthy" one which I omitted the name from to protect the innocent) scored all green. The protocol for the labels would also allow for yellow and red stickers. It would be relatively easy to educate the public on how to use this system: Choose products with mostly green stickers. Yellow stickers are to be used in moderation. Avoid things with red stickers. 

Of course, there are some details to work out and maybe we add another category or two into the sticker system. This box label gives consumers the information they need to make better choices about the food they buy and consume. Shoppers would be able to quickly see information and would not be distracted by cartoon characters and health claims. Plus, it would help to educate people on what the "processed" in processed food actually means. I don't know about you, but this information would certainly impact my eating decisions. And I think, over time, it would improve the way food is made for Americans. 

TGI Thursday!

Sometimes being positive can make you feel positive. Thank Goodness it's Thursday! Good enough for now...

Yesterday's Observations:

  • The scheduled workouts didn't happen yesterday. Some significant software issues consumed the better part of my day and with a dinner meeting last night, I missed my exercise. Grrrrr.
  • Eating out healthfully requires extra effort though is possible. Breakfast was sliced melons and whole wheat toast (with too much coffee). Dinner was a salad (dressing on the side which I didn't use) and grilled salmon with jasmine rice. Both were tasty and I didn't even want the cream soaked dish my dining companions were having. 
  • I opted to walk to and from the dinner meeting about 1 mile each day. It was my last chance to get some exercise and it felt very good to be out in the fresh air. 
Today's Thoughts:
  • Tired today in spite of a good night of sleep. A combination of rain and no exercise yesterday, perhaps.
  • Lunch time exercise on tap for today as well. Yoga was completed this morning and then started working and, voila, here it is after 11 AM. 
  • Dinner this evening is spaghetti squash pasta with marinara sauce. If you haven't made spaghetti squash "pasta" it is an easy and healthy substitute for wheat pasta. You cut the squash in half (carefully, tough skin) and clean out the seeds, put it in the oven at 350° for 1 hour, let it cool and scape out the flesh with a fork. The flesh comes out spaghetti like and you simply spoon your sauce over the top. Easy, lots of vitamins and tasty! 
I'm working on a blog about food labels and I've discovered some very frightening stuff. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Does Anybody Know What Day It Is?

Happy Wednesday. I had to look at the calendar. Long week already!

Yesterday's Observations:

  • White turkey chili was even more tasty re-heated as dinner last night. I think it helps to take the extra time and use the stove vs. the microwave. Plus, who needs all those extra microwaves in their food?
  • I did not do any yoga or stretching last night. I am not as disciplined about my evening routine. The question is should I try harder or accept my habits and create a different schedule? 
  • The chair is key. If you spend most of your time sitting make sure you have a good chair. 
Today's Thoughts:
  • Scale was ugly this morning: 130.2. I didn't sleep enough last night and drank a bunch of water when I woke up and before I got on the scale. I can blame those two things and it was still unpleasant.
  • Breakfast meetings which start at 7:30 AM should be outlawed. 
  • I managed the morning yoga but not the rest of the morning exercise regime. It is after 10 AM, I'm tired and feeling a bit like I've already not accomplished enough (lack of exercise or too much coffee???) for the day. 
  • I think a lunchtime exercise session is in order. Dinner meeting scheduled for this evening so working out after work is not an option. 
  • There are some days when listening to your own advice is a challenge. 
Time to get back to work! Until tomorrow...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Proximity of a Kitchen

What do a teleworker, a freelancer, a retiree and stay-at-home parent have in common? The proximity of the kitchen! For those of you who work in a big corporate cubicle field you may think this sounds like the best thing ever. And, it is! Though a fully-stocked, nearby kitchen is not for the weak-willed. Here are some tips for successfully maintaining some wellness while working at home, in whatever form:

  1. Buy carefully. You are innocently perusing the aisles of your grocery store and your very favorite treat from childhood catches your eye. The internal dialogue begins: I've been good lately. I deserve a treat. I'll only have one cookie a day. You take the cookies home. Day 1 you're pretty good and eat 1 cookie. In the morning of Day 2 somebody upsets you and you have 2 cookies, by afternoon you're so stressed out you eat half the package. The moral: Buy fruits and vegetables. You can't do much damage to your waist line if you go on a celery binge. 
  2. Exercise before Email. The EbE rule is an important one. How many times have you decided to take a quick peek at email first thing in the morning and the next thing you know it is 3 PM, you have to be on a Skype video call and your flannel PJs will match oh so nicely with you bed-matted hair? There is a better way! When you get up in the morning, do some exercise, eat a healthful breakfast, shower, get dressed and then look at email. The moral: When you work from home take care of you first. 
  3. Phone a Friend. It is the middle of the afternoon, you're bored and haven't spoken to another human being all day (pets and children don't really count). You don't feel like starting the next project and you've managed to wander the web for the last 30 minutes and you're bored. You get up and walk into the kitchen... must be something in there not so boring. If you haven't followed tip #1 this could be disastrous! Instead of walking to the kitchen, phone a friend. If you're really bored you can even phone your Mom. She'll think you're the best ever and you'll save yourself from the kitchen doom. The moral: Don't use food as a substitute for socializing. 
  4. Body Breaks: The best thing about working from home is you can take advantage of little small breaks in between tasks and you can use these breaks to your benefit. When you finish a task, do a little stretching routine. Your morning and afternoon breaks be devoted to a 10 minute strength training session. On a long, boring conference call? Hit the mute button (please, please, please) and do some sit-ups or push-ups next to your desk. The moral: Use the mini-moments to get healthier. 
With a little planning, a bit of awareness and a dose of creativity you can avoid the commute and use the extra time for you. Remember, wellness is a personal quest and once you find what works best for you staying healthy is easy! 

Election Day Update

The web is a very powerful force during election time. All about the web today are notes and reminders to vote and people are proudly displaying their "I Voted" badge on Facebook. Maybe we need to implement a "I Worked Out" badge for our members to display when they finished their favorite workout? Interesting idea... so let's get to the update before I distract myself with more new great ideas!

Yesterday's Observation:

  • Too busy of a day so I didn't eat lunch until 2:30 PM. This actually worked out fine because I didn't get to dinner until after 8 PM. In the interest of taking better care of one's self letting work consume your life so that you don't eat regularly is not the best plan. 
  • I was very happy I got my workouts done in the morning. Otherwise, I don't think they would have happened yesterday. 
  • When I did get to lunch, I re-heated the soup from Friday night. It was much, much better the second time around. 
Today's Thoughts:
  • It should not be dark when we wake up. It should be light. I don't like the time change because it is dark at 4 PM, but this getting up in the night is for the birds. I think I need to move somewhere closer to the equator. Ideas?
  • I managed a reasonable workout this morning with only a few Cyberbands. I really can workout anywhere!
  • The experience of sharing my quest to lose 10 pounds is giving me great ideas for improvements for Cybercise which is, in turn, creating more work. I am beginning to believe this little project of mine will always be creating new ideas. I'd love to hear yours otherwise I only have myself to listen to. What can I do to make us better? 
Have a great Tuesday. And, vote!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Monday Mania

Happy Monday and Happy November! How do you choose between the list of things to do and your own health? Carefully and with an eye to the future. Sometimes this means saying no more often and learning to do so takes some practice. It helps if you're really clear about what is important in your life. Stay tuned for more ideas to "Get Clear." For now, onto the update:

Yesterday's Observations (and Saturday too):

  • I didn't feel like blogging yesterday. I'm sorry if my lack of an update disappointed you. I chose me and didn't sit down at my computer until 8:30 last night. Of course, I was working the Twitter scene on my mobile device most of the morning. It was some progress... baby steps!
  • The investment in an Eat. plan a trip to the grocery store on Friday made for a lovely weekend of healthful, home cooking: soup on Friday night, roasted chicken with vegetables on Saturday night and white turkey chili on Sunday night. Plenty of leftovers for healthful lunches this week and it was nice to be in a house full of cooking aromas. 
  • Sunday included a 2 mile walk/jog followed by a 90 minutes hiking near the reservoir rounded out a nice day of Move.
 Today's Thoughts:

  • Glutes and hammies are very aware of all the hiking yesterday. As is my right thigh from which I extracted a tick this morning. Ouch. And, my dog is still lazing clearly sore from all of his leaping into the water to chase sticks. 
  • Back to the workout before work this morning! Yoga, strength and cardio all done for the day. It is a great feeling to have me be the first thing I take care of each day. 
  • Lunch will be some leftovers from this weekend with some arugula! 
  • Busy, busy week with many meetings. It is so helpful to have my Move.Eat.Be. plan done before the week starts. 
Enjoy your Monday and help someone else enjoy theirs, too.