Friday, September 30, 2011

Shed your kids – for weight loss?

Here’s a clunker of an article by Emily Leamon at Be Well Philly, which provides us with the snippet of wisdom that having kids makes us fat. Ye Gods! So the only way to stop the dreaded obesity epidemic may be to simply stop the human race. If we can avoid having kids, maybe we can avoid packing on the pounds later in life.

The tragedy of this article isn’t that it quotes useless BMI statistics, [which is does], or this ridiculous quote:

Fathers gain more weight than mothers, on average, likely because their lifestyle choices—smoking, drinking—are impacted most. As fathers give up those habits, they turn to food, researchers suggest, which leads to more pounds over time.

slyly suggesting if those dads just kept on drinking and smoking they would stay thin, but that Ms. Leamon’s only solution to the ‘problem’ is to “try, oh try to stay in shape before you dive into parenthood.” Such sage advice! Especially when the article itself touts the magical age for childbearing to be 26 – pick a different age in either direction and you’re doomed to pork up apparently.

I could have saved the researchers a lot of time and effort and told them why parents gain more weight than childless people. The answers are simple and clear to anyone with kids. Stress! When you can spend all your time smoking, drinking and doing recreational drugs as the source article mentions prominently as being the reason why fathers especially gain more weight, and you don’t have to be responsible for the life of another human being, it’s a lot easier to stay thin. Having less time to cook and shop and less money to spend on those suspiciously more expensive “healthy foods” is also a contributing factor.

Let’s face it, kids are expensive and time consuming and they impact a person’s ability to stay focused on the all important weight of their bodies. The takeaway from both of these articles is – if you want to stay thin, forget kids, stick to the smoking and drinking and substance abuse ‘cause lord knows it won’t help you after you have them.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Product Review: Sally Hansen Salon Effects

I got back into nail polish in a big way this year, after years of not having the time or the patience to mess with a manicure. I decided one day that I needed more color in my life and went hog wild buying new colors.

Then I remembered all the reasons I gave up nail polish in the first place. The smell is headache inducing. The bottles can spill, and you can’t clean nail polish off of most things. You have to sit around waiting for your nails to dry and if you don’t, they get smudged. After a day [or five minutes] the polish chips. The nail polish remover stinks, and lastly, if you’re not coordinated, one hand looks good and the other one looks like a first-grader painted it.

I ran across Sally Hansen Salon Effects nail polish strips at CVS where they cost about $10.00 for a set that will do one manicure. Pricey, but if you compare – there are some bottles of nail polish that cost at least that much, and a trip to a salon for a live manicure would cost even more. I decided to spring for a pack in purple and I tried it out.

The effect is actually pretty cool. You get a very shiny look that stays shiny. You have, as the package says, no dry time, and you get some very cool patterns to choose from as well as nifty, bright solid colors. The set comes with a three-surface emery board and a cuticle stick as well as 16 strips. My favorite part is, once you apply a strip, the nail is done. You can stop in the middle of a manicure and answer the phone, dig the remote out of the couch cushions, pet the cat, whatever and it will have no effect on your nails. No sitting around blowing on your hands or waving them around just so you can go to the bathroom.

Those are the highlights. The con column is a bit more populated.

For the price, you get ONE manicure. A bottle of polish ranging from $1.99 to $9.99 can do multiple manicures and last for years.

You get 16 strips, which seems like a nice amount. In case you screw up the original 10, you have six more to play with. But why not 20? The application of the strips is fairly simple, so it’s hard to screw one up. Both times I’ve used the strips, I’ve had six leftovers.

The leftover strips are useless. You can’t save them. After a time, they become somewhat brittle, you can’t peel them off their backings, and they rip if you try. You could use one of the two packaged sets of 8 – and do an odd nail on each hand to get two manicures out of the pack, but once you open the foil pack they come in, those strips are done.

There is a mess. Once you’ve peeled your polish strips, shaped them to your nails and pulled off the excess, you have thin cellophane strips all over the place and torn pieces of nail strips that are still sticky on the back. Granted they’re not too hard to clean up, but there’s a pile of little pieces that can be a nuisance.

The polish does chip, just like regular polish. And of course, with no bottle of that color, you can’t do a touch up. I solved the chip problem by cutting my nails after a couple of days, which made the manicure last another week, but don’t be fooled. You’d be hard pressed to get 10 days out of the manicure as the package promises.

There is a faint smell. It’s nothing like when you open a bottle of polish, but there is some mild chemical odor. Not enough to be a deterrent, but it’s there.

Removal still requires regular nail polish remover [which stinks] and the strips come off in layers, first the color, then the white base, so it takes some work to get your nails completely clean, more so than with most liquid polish.

Overall, I’d give Sally Hansen Salon Effects a C+ - they’re fun to work with, it’s a different process than applying nail polish that circumvents some of the nuisance of liquid polish, but the price and the chipping problem take away from the idea that this is a perfectly convenient alternative to liquid polish.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Get your finger off that button!

An open letter to door-to-door salespeople

Dear Representative of X Company,

I hate to be rude. I really, really do, but when you stop understanding nice, I have to bring out the big guns. While I appreciate that you need to make a living, and somehow you got the idea that working on commission will fill your coffers and allow you to pay the rent, I really don’t care. I’m sorry for that. I have no doubt the day will come when you realize all the hours you spent hiking through my neighborhood and neighborhoods like it are largely for naught. You do have my sympathy.

However, you need to understand that I’m not sitting in my house, twiddling my thumbs, just waiting for the doorbell to ring – any more than I’m sitting anxiously by the phone waiting to hear the voice of a telemarketer. When you show up on my doorstep at 5:45 PM, please don’t look disappointed or shocked or hurt or offended when I tell you, “I’m making dinner right now, I cannot talk to you.” I’m really not kidding. When I tell you, “I have something on the stove,” it is actually not a lie. Asking if you can come back in 15 minutes is…well…STUPID, because in 15 minutes I will be sitting down to eat that which I now have on the stove. Assuming it’s not burning while I’m trying to get you off my porch in the nicest way possible.

Please try to understand that I can’t just set up a future appointment with you while I’m hanging out my door trying to keep my pets from bolting outside to greet you or eat you as the case may be. I need a calendar to make an appointment and I don’t have one in my hand at the moment. I have no intention of inviting you in, so I’d have to close the door while you wait for me to locate my calendar, and the chances that I’ll open it again are slim. You must realize that if I wanted my driveway repaved, or my roof reshingled, or a better cable service, I would be calling a company [maybe even yours] and lining up a consultation, but I’m NOT, so chances are, I’m also NOT in the market for your services at this moment in time, while I’m making dinner, or taking a nap, or cleaning my kitchen floor, or working, or reading a book or talking on the phone.

If you want my attention, leave a flyer in my mailbox. I’ll probably throw it away, but the chances are better that I’ll glance at it and maybe even file it away for future reference.

So, for heaven’s sake, get your finger off that door bell button. Step off the porch and proceed down the walkway until you reach the sidewalk. Then GO AWAY. I don’t want any. I’m not interested. Don’t call me, I’ll call you. I’m busy. And while you’re at it, look for a different job, because there’s no future in door-to-door sales. Really. There isn’t.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Complaints are lies...

…and bad manners besides.

During last week’s episode of Dr. Who on BBC America, I was treated to a commercial for a miraculous new weight loss product called Lipozene.

According to the commercial, Lipozene is the answer for people who have had problems losing weight and finally want something that works. Oh goody!

I decided to look up Lipozene and find out what the hype was all about – the very hype that the Lipozene people don’t want us to believe.

I won’t post a link to the Lipozene site, but I will tell you that Lipozene claims to be an ‘all natural remedy’ used for generations in Japan that ‘acts as a sponge in your intestines.’ That’s so much better than all those nasty lifestyle changes that can be damaging to your system.

Don’t worry, Lipozene has no side effects! It’s been clinically proven to work and best of all, if you come across any complaints or negative reviews on the Internet don’t believe them because [and here’s a quote]:

• Many people who submit complaints to these supposedly unbiased review sites say they were ripped off or that the product didn’t work. The fact is that most of them never received the product because their credit cards were declined, or they never ordered it in the first place. Our customer service department has done the research to prove the facts behind these Lipozene complaints.

Yep, anyone who has a bad report about the product, probably never really bought it in the first place! They’re just lying. Isn’t that rude?

Obviously you can trust someone who tells you all complaints about them must be lies. So there you go. A new and effective way to lose weight, safely and naturally. Stock up while the lies supplies last!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Got side effects?

I was leafing through the September 19th issue of People magazine, and halfway through I had to ask myself if I was looking at an entertainment magazine or a medical journal. Every few pages, I was bombarded with another drug ad, and not just little blurbs, but three-page spreads designed to entice readers to ‘talk to their doctors’ about medicines that ‘could be right for them.’

What shocked me even more than the size of the ads were the lists of side effects they all included. Once again, I have to ask myself, is the cure [or the treatment] worse than the disease?

Here’s what I found:

A three-page ad for Focalin XR – for ADHD –this drug is for children over age 6 – and the side effects include sudden death, stroke and heart attacks, increased blood pressure and heart rate, slowing of growth in children and [among many others] nervousness.

A three page ad for NuvaRing – for birth control – one of the side effects is weight gain and in addition you should worry about blood clots, stroke, heart attack, breast cancer, gallbladder disease, liver tumors and inflammation of the pancreas

A three page ad for BOTOX ® - nothing like injecting yourself with botulism which can cause life threatening side effects

A three page ad for Enbrel – for plaque psoriasis – a host of side effects include: tuberculosis, fatal blood problems, heart problems and new or worsening psoriasis

A three page ad for Seroquel XR – for depression – side effects include weight gain, seizures, neuroleptic malignant syndrome and cataracts

A two-page ad for Boniva – for osteoporosis – the ad includes a correction about misleading information in previous ads – side effects include severe jawbone problems, osteonecrosis [that means bone death], spasms, numbness and thigh bone fractures

Is it any wonder Americans are so sick? We’re being bombarded with drugs to fix our problems, all of which can cause serious other problems, not to mention the same problems we’re trying to get rid of.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Got milk? Oh no!

I’m of two opinions on this article by Paul John Scott at DETAILS – one, kudos for an article that highlights the controversial truth that diets don’t work and calorie and fat restriction are not the answer to long-term weight loss. A raspberry for the tired cliché that you can blame your weight on one thing – [ur doin’ it wrong] by drinking skim milk.

As someone who was taught from an early age to revile whole milk, I’ve often wondered if my relationship with dairy products has been a good one or a bad one. Years of lactose intolerance led me to avoid milk for a long time and feel guilty about it. ‘Milk does a body good’ you know. Learning about milk’s dark, dirty secrets – the hormone and antibiotic abuse – assuaged a lot of that guilt and allowed me to reduce milk to nothing more than an occasional cooking ingredient. [Ice cream doesn’t count in my book – I don’t care what it’s made of].

Regardless of the findings of any study, I don’t plan to add milk [whole or skim] back to my diet in a big way because the dairy industry is, for the most part, vile. I don’t see legions of skimmers making the switch either because our society is too terrified of fat to embrace whole milk again after decades of believing it was the root of all evil.

I wonder how long it will be before whole milk makes a comeback as a weight loss secret.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Draw your own conclusions

That’s what this article by Sarah Klein at basically expects of readers.

The title presents one hypothesis – that the Super-Moms [or women striving to be] can become miserable. That’s a no-brainer. We’ve all known for a long time that society’s expectation that a woman can be a perfect employee and a perfect mother at the same time is damaging to everyone involved. The article, of course, presents this like it’s news.

What’s interesting is, as you read the article you find that the first line:

Working mothers are less likely to be depressed than stay-at-home moms, a new study suggests.

Which sounds like the antithesis of the title, is contradicted by the results of the study.

The women who supported combining motherhood with a career had a greater risk of depression later in life than those who thought women should stay at home to raise kids.

In fact, the young women who were the least likely to support the idea of blending home and work life had the fewest depression symptoms when they were actually working moms at age 40.

[Emphasis mine]

So, to follow so far – Super-Mom wanna bes are not happy, but working mothers are happier, except for those who think being a working mom is a good idea. Ultimately women who don’t think mothers should work are less depressed later in life when they DO work.

Say what?

This is why the results of studies conducted by graduate students don’t really need to be published. Or then again, maybe the study draws some amazingly pertinent conclusions which Ms. Klein simply couldn’t communicate effectively in her article.

Either way, I’m confused. The article concludes that it’s best to accept the fact that you can’t do it all and not to feel guilty if you’re a working mom.

Thanks for that, because all those guilty-feeling working moms out there can now rest easily. We all know the best way to make someone feel better is to tell them to feel better.

I really don’t mean to attack the author here, but it stuns me how often these health articles contradict themselves and draw conclusions that anyone with a modicum of common sense has known for years. While a study that reinforces the conclusions of other studies may be helpful, presenting it with contradictory conclusions based on the same study is not.

My overall conclusion: Reading health articles on the Internet is bad for your health.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Back with a vengeance

I’ve seriously neglected this blog for a lot of reasons, chief among them the feeling that it was becoming just a place to rant and I wasn’t sure how much negativity I wanted to spout into cyberspace.

On the other hand, I do need a place to vent about things that irk me, especially the things in cyberspace that irk me. So I’m back.

What got me started on the need to vent was this puff piece I stumbled across by Susan Cheever of SELF magazine, who opines that being nice can make people fat, because apparently her lack of assertiveness resulted in weight gain and therefore everyone should learn to be mean in order to lose weight.

Like most of the media-drugged masses, Cheever thinks she’s found that simple trick everyone craves in the race to weight loss. She’s noticed that the nice people she knows are overweight, the jerks are skinny – hence, ipso facto, being nice must make one fat.

A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Isn’t it?

She goes on to explain how learning to say ‘no’, and subsequently being a bit rude and self-centered shaved 25 pounds off her, and also got her invited to fewer parties. I suppose it’s better to be thin than to be liked.

What’s interesting is that Cheever let’s her readers in on the real reason for her weight problem in the beginning of her article. It has nothing to do with her kindness or sensitivity, but her dysfunctional family attitudes about food and weight.

Everyone is so busy blaming obesity on the wrong things – we’re too nice, we have fat friends, we watch too much television, we eat too much fruit, blah, blah, blah. Let’s face it, we all know the real reason the population is gaining so much weight – it’s because the diet industry wants us to. How would they make billions of dollars if we were all as thin as they promise us we can be?

Diet books, diet shakes, diet gurus, diet reality shows – all encourage dysfunctional eating. Lose weight, gain it back, starve yourself, gorge yourself, strip out nutrients from your diet, overeat to compensate, fill yourself up with pills and shakes and bulking agents, rice cakes and Slim Shots, and when you gain it all back, someone else is there to tell you the only reason you failed was because you did it wrong and you just have to follow THEIR diet plan for lasting success.

I’m tired of it all, so the gloves are off. I’m done being nice – not because I expect it will help me lose weight [it won’t] but because there needs to be a counterpoint to all the blathering about how easy it is to lose weight if you just know the right thing to do or the right way to be.