Wellness Wednesday: Fitness Redux

Wellness Wednesday was originally conceived as a place to post about fitness. While I am glad it has morphed into a space about all kinds of wellness, I’d like to take this moment to focus back on the one thing that is the

best illness prevention,

best mood enhancer,

best fat burner,

best strength builder,

best beauty treatment of all: 


exercise, of course. 


I don’t think it gets the press time or the limelight it deserves in the the halls of modern medicine, or in our public media space. There are studies are out there to support exercise for both prevention and adjunctive treatment for disorders from A to Z. These studies are not glamorous and not really media worthy, because in many cases they are confirming things which we already strongly suspected. So the results of these exercise studies are not sensational in any way. So the media is partly accountable for not continuing to remind us of the central importance of fitness. Medical caregivers are to blame since their focus is elsewhere and they themselves have insufficient knowledge and experience with fitness. Most importantly, the public is to blame. They would much rather read about a pill to cure obesity than read about how a consistent regimen of 30 minutes of daily exercise can reverse diabetes and heart disease.

I would like to take this opportunity point you back to my website pages on fitness, and encourage you to read through all the links.


That way, in about 5-6 minutes you can get the important points in a short period of time. But for those of you who are not link clickers, I will give you the nutshell version here: 


  • Those with medical problems should obtain medical clearance to exercise. 
  • Exercise should be engineered and planned into your day like an important meeting. 
  • Start with brief easy sessions 6 days per week to build a habit. 
  • Determine why you need to exercise.
  • Resolve to make exercise fun. 
  • To begin, pick at least 3 easy fun routines or an exercise which requires little thinking on your part. Do not go over about 30 minutes per session on your first 3 months of exercise. DVDs or a class are ideal. Chose workouts that include concurrent cardio and resistance. Until you know what you are doing, go with a professionally designed workout which is safe, effective, balanced and includes warm up and cool down. My favorite library of workouts is Beachbody on Demand. I also love Jillian Michaels workouts. 
  • Pick a place of exercise that is time and weather independent. This could be a 24/7 gym, the outdoors, or a DVD in your living room. 
  • Arrange accountability through an app, a log, or a friend. 
  • Arrange self tracking through an app or a log. Include, weight, waistline, type and duration of workout. Do not measure your weight and waistline more than once per week. 
  • Have comfortable and flattering exercise wear. 
  • In the first three months go mellow to let your body begin adjusting. After that ramp up in intensity to your tolerance, provided you are tired but refreshed afterwards, rather than wiped out. 
  • Hydrate well all day long and have water during every workout. 
  • Remember that it takes 3 months to build a habit. 
  • Focus on how good you feel when you are finished. 


Structure Sunday: The Structure of Your Media Consumption


Omigosh I must be so easily amused. I have flown planes, climbed mountains, and swam with sea lions, but today, I got the biggest rush from organizing cookbooks in their new shelves. I just adore their beautiful pages full of recipes like magic spells waiting to be cast. A beautiful recipe transforms you as you make it, and your family as they see what has been prepared for them. 

I am reading a riveting book right now. It is called Seveneves. I found myself reading it at a stop light. Not good. I chose it based on the genre, sci fi, but also because of the reviews on Amazon, and finally because of what I was able to learn about the author, for instance that he double majored in Physics and Geography. I learned all this on the internet.

Seveneves: A Novel
By Neal Stephenson


 I did all that research because I wasn't going to devote several hours of my life to something less than totally worthwhile. You see, I get absorbed in my books, fiction and non-fiction alike. They transport me. I don't hear things around me when I am reading. If something is going to affect me like this, it better be quality and it better have redeeming value. I want to finish the book a better person. 

I feel the same way about film, but there are far fewer good films than there are good books. Still, the depths of Netflix and Apple TV are unplumbed, and I look forward to it whenever I have time to dive deep. I don't know if my approach is correct; I save film like candy or ice cream, and cannot watch it until I eat all my vegetables, i.e. work, housekeeping, bills, and exercise. 

Music, however, is like water to me. I have to have it all the time. Patients know it plays all day long in all our clinic rooms, and we try to make it wonderful. We try to make people enjoy their time with us. I want to turn more people on to fine music.

I believe music puts you in touch with yourself. If a song makes you melancholy and wistful, it is touching something within. You may gain from this awareness, and perhaps be able to give the issue more attention. Likewise, if you hear something that makes you feel like dancing, it's because that dance is already in you; the song merely helps release it. 

When I was growing up, all this was so expensive. Books were bought in bookstores, and records required expensive equipment to play well. Regarding films, well, you had to make arrangements to go to a theater, providing you were old enough. But nowadays, the widespread availability of all this media is astonishing. I believe it is world changing. 

I have a great personal interest in the lives of those with low income and high aspirations. I respect these people. I want to understand how they can realize their dreams. I think one big piece of this puzzle is widespread high quality media: books, film, and music. These are not just      niceties in life. They nurture the soul and enlighten the mind. 

Media like music, film and books are not about living vicariously or being passive. They are about learning and getting inspired to go out and live life to the fullest. That is why I think everyone should have access to all the good stuff all of the time. 

So I wondered how much it would cost to have unlimited access to all this media all the time. Here is a rough calculation: 


  • Amazon Prime costs $99 per year. You get access to 41,000 movies and TV episodes, and 350,000 Kindle books. Of course the Kindle app is free for any platform. Just be aware these are like Netflix titles, not necessarily the hot new releases, but still very good. 
  • Netflix has a somewhat different set of movies, all for $7.99 per month,  all released several months after they hit theaters. 
  • Apple Music, is $9.99 per person  or $14.99 per family per month. For this you may stream the entire Apple music catalog. Or, you could get Pandora with ads, for free, or without ads, for $4.99 per month. 
  • Let's say you actually want to buy a few physical books because, like me, you think cookbooks should be physical, or because you want to have a paper book to pass around, then you must budget a few dollars for that. Let's say you, like me, buy used books on Amazon, and you decide your budget is one book per month, at $5 per book used, plus $3.99 per book shipping.

If you have a smartphone and internet already, then we can ignore those costs. If we say, for purposes of argument that you "want it all" , the tally is as follows: 

Amazon Prime = $99/yr

Netflix annually = $95.88/yr

Apple Music for one = $119.88/yr

Paper books one year, as detailed above = $107.88

Total = $422.64 per year or $35.22 per month. Aren't numbers interesting ? 

Let's say you are really on a tight budget. You pick only Amazon Prime for Kindle books and streaming video, together with free Pandora for music. Your cost is only $99/year or $8.32 per month. Honestly, that is two lattes. What an amazing time we live in. 


The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
By Deb Perelman

Medial Monday: A joke of a research study

I think we can all agree that the following three things are good : 1. Chocolate 2. Humor, and 3. Getting the bad guys in a sting operation. This story I am going to feature for you today has all three. 

Science Journalist John Bohannon and his well educated friends created a bogus study on the health benefits of chocolate. To do so, he created a bogus health institute, and a bogus study wherein he enrolled 18 unsuspecting individuals. They followed through with the study protocol and a statistician ran the results. Lo and behold, those in the chocolate group lost weight faster. He then goes on to explain how this is obviously a falsely significant result, otherwise known as a " false positive". A study designed this way is bound to have numerous false positives. This is related to the very low number of people in the study and the high number of effects tested for. Any person educated in the basics of research could see this. 

He and his colleagues "wrote up" their paper on their "research", generated a catchy press release, then began submitting the paper to a variety of journals for publication. He included journals of borderline credibility, and those which are "pay to play" meaning you have to PAY THEM to get your article published! (I didn't even know these existed!) He had alarming rate of acceptance of this ludicrously flawed paper. Once it was published and picked up by all kinds of news services and magazines, he fessed up to the prank. I am sorry to say it was picked up by the likes of Huffington Post, and Shape magazine. Have a look at their glossy reporting of the bogus story in his article linked below. 

All this goes to illustrate what I have cautioned readers about all along: The need to critically evaluate what you read on the internet and elsewhere on the subject of health and medicine. So much misinformation is out there. Much of it is done by groups who know better, but who are in it for the profit. 

And yet, at the same time, so many promising things are happening in medical research. Please take a few minutes to review our section on Information and Learning. It will give you some basic tools with which to safely navigate the internet. 

And then for some real entertainment and information, check out John Bohannon's article exposing himself HERE. His interview on NPR about his elaborate ruse is featured HERE. Finally, here is a fun and scientifically solid site about health reporting in the media: HEALTH NEWS REVIEW, where they look at the the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

Have fun and be careful about there. 


Structure Sunday: Things that help keep me organized

I am not naturally organized. If left to my own devices, I would go deep. For example, I would knit for a whole day. I would read entire books, workout a little too much, or cook overly complicated meals. I don't lack for inspiration or tenacity. What I work towards, is balance and rhythm in my schedule. 

I am almost 53 and smart enough by now to seek outside advice. Lots of it. All the time. I have learned that I need it. At this point in my life, a big source of inspiration are my co- workers. They are the common sense ones. A person always needs that kind of people in their life. If you don't have any, I suggest you find some. 

Beyond that, my books and other media are very important for me. I read a self improvement article from one source or another two to three times a week. I have a couple solid go-to books on time management, and they never cease to help. Finally,  I listen to a selection of podcasts when I am in the car or doing things like folding laundry. These are weekly audio blogs on various topics, all collected for my listening pleasure by subscription, for free, on my smartphone, which hooks by bluetooth or cord into the stereo of my car or my house. I can set the settings to keep only the recent episodes, so there are no worries about all my space getting used up. To get podcasts, at least in the apple world, you go to the app store, or open the podcast app on your phone. I am sure it is just as easy for other platforms ( yeah right ; ) You'll have to pick your own topics. I defy you to find a topic that is not without a podcast. From chess to chocolate you will not be disappointed. 

For books, I recommend The Everything Time Management Book. It is clear and fun to read. My favorites are from the Harvard business review series ( the HBR series) and my favorite of those is Getting the Right Work Done. I will make sure to include these in my Amazon store which is under the Retail Therapy link in the left menubar. 

Bute even better and more up to date are articles in key magazines. I like learning about the science of human productivity and how it informs the way we conduct our lives. What does science say about habits ? What does it say about sleep or the way we study ? There's a lot to learn even in the social sciences about things like how to manage our feelings, and how we should communicate in order to get along. 

It takes a lot of reading to follow all this, and so I try to chose strategically. First, I set up a good home page on my laptop. My current one is through Yahoo, and I have it customized to the hilt. I also have a good few news reader apps. My faves are Flipboard and Currents, and these are also highly customizable. 

I still crave some paper, so I get a selection of key magazines, like Wired, Scientific American and Real Simple, to name a few. But more and more, I am choosing digital magazine versions. Oftentimes, but not always, digital versions come with the paper subscription, as long as you can log in with your subscription number. ( You all know that a subscription is much much cheaper than buying individual issues, right ? ) Digital magazines allow you to have all of your reading with you all of the time. 

Make sure there is a time for everything important in your day. Whether you are a stay a home mom or a busy executive, you should prioritize and block it out like the president. Just don't forget to block out some time every week to reassess and improve the way you keep yourself organized. 


Food Friday: Food for Thought

I think I crave great content even more than great food. I bet most of you are the same. 


Give me a Starbucks and a book. I'll forget about my favorite lemon pound cake and my decaf latte will go cold. Similarly watching a movie during dinner is a great portion reduction plan. 

In the beginnings of the internet age, we all wondered how we would keep up with all the new information. But now I don't worry about that. I have a home page I can customize, and email subscriptions to my favorite websites. I have spam filters to block out most of the garbage, and it all works out fine.

I came from a home where the TV was on all the time. I remember blocking my dad's view just to get his attention.  I don't have TV now. I am therefore not subject to any networks tastes. I choose what I consume. I like it a lot. 

It's not that I don't consume media. I do, and I have a voracious appetite. I have hot piping TED lectures served fresh in my email box every day, and even some mind candy like Gwyneth Paltrow's newsletter. I have Netflix, and Apple TV, but I've learned to be really picky, just like I am with food. Only the best for me. Of course I get all the medical stuff, so I can keep up with you all. It's served to me right to my inbox. 

And so it is in that spirit that I would like to serve you a dish or two. I have just set up our blog to be on an RSS feed. This means that whenever a new post is done, those of you who are signed up on our website will get it fresh in your inbox. 

I'd love for you to sign up. I'l do my best to make sure it's good, and good for you. You can sign up on any page of the website, in the left side menubar, or on my office Facebook page in the tab titled email signup. 

And from now on, I'll try to make the Friday blog post about actual food. : )