Wednesday, September 29, 2010

#113 Candy Corn - How I Love Thee

Note to Reader: This babble was posted originally in 2008 and again last year around Halloween. Nothing has's September 26th and I've already gotten into the candy corn [6 days later than last year]. And, once again I'm blaming my daughter... she brought it into the house!

Every year around this time I do something terrible. I buy candy corn. I know you're thinking how terrible can that be? Well, I just don't buy candy corn, I crave it. And once I start eating it, it's very hard to stop. Sometimes, before I even know it, I've popped 10 sweet kernels into my mouth, and as the 11th goes in, I begin to get the shakes and feel nauseous. It's usually when I'm feeling this way that I question my sanity [Aren't there better things to crave?]. What's amazing though, is that once Halloween is over, I can pass candy corn in any venue and have absolutely no desire for it. I mean zilch. If offered to me, I can very easily say - no thank you.

This year, however, things started out a tiny bit differently than previous years. This year I started buying my candy drug in September. I usually wait till at least the first week in October, but for some reason [I'll guess an emotional one] I allowed myself a small bag of Brach's candy corn. On the 4th day, when that last kernel was eaten, I contemplated the possibility that I had gotten them out of my system early.

NOT! About a week later, I arrived home to find a package from UPS on my porch. I opened it and there inside was a small bag of candy corn. Sooooo sweet!!! Not the corn, but my 12 year old daughter. Being the understanding, wonderful and nurturing person she is, she sent me a care package. To make a long story short, I OD'd on them the second day and had to head upstairs for a sugar-induced nap. During my afternoon siesta, my husband told my daughter to go hide the candy corn and to dole it out sparingly... and only if I begged. Humph!! I don't know at whom I'm angrier? My daughter for buying it, my husband for hiding it, or me for my lack of control over it.

Fortuitously [or not], I found the stash of candy corn. As I was sitting at my desk this afternoon answering emails and munching on my drug of choice, I dropped a few. Iggy, our adopted dog, knows that when something drops he has to wait for permission to eat it otherwise he would be eating buttons, staples, you name it. Well, you'll never believe what happened. The minute Iggy saw what had fallen, he lunged for those 3 yellow, orange and white tipped sweeties. I swear, we had a fist to paw fight over them.

As I sat there staring at my dog and three lost candy corn, it came to me in a flash: Oh my G-d, Iggy's previous owners had turned him into a candy corn addict!!! I smiled... it's nice to have a junkie buddy.

Quote of the Day: "The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too stong to be broken" Samuel Johnson

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

#112 Is My Body a Toxic Dump?

I'm not the most "green" person you'll meet... by a long shot. I hate to admit it, but the majority of my cleaning and grooming products are chemicals, and not of the organic variety. I do recycle as much as possible and carry my own bags to the grocer... when I remember. Recently, however, I read a blog about beauty products and the possibility that they can make you fat. I know!! I said I was going to write about things other than fat, fitness, forties, etc, but this caught my attention - for a number of reasons. Plus, it inspired to me to write.

Why did this catch my attention? First of all, I have a fourteen year old daughter. Said daughter likes to wear a little bit of make-up. Said daughter is also crazy about theater and performs in many plays and musicals. This means she must wear a lot of stage make-up. This also means she must remove that make-up. (As Tracey Turnblat in Hairspray wearing a wig, fat suit and of course, stage make-up)

The blog I refer to here explains that the chemicals in these beauty products are parabens. These parabens get into your bloodstream and play havoc with your hormones. Guess what? My endocrine system is a bit screwy - I have Hashimotos Thyroiditis, or Hypothyroidism. Ironically, I never wore make-up until my 20s, but over the years before and since, I can share with you that I have washed, conditioned, colored and permed my hair, used perfumes, moisturizers, sunblocks and a lot of concealer. I'm not blaming any of these products for my condition, but perhaps I was pre-disposed to an endocrine problem and the chemicals in these products just helped it come out of hiding.

Anyway, I took the paragraphs from the blog post with the most salient issues and have shown them below in blue. If you are interested in reading the whole blog, you can go to

There were 300 million obese individuals worldwide in 2000….which increased another 100 million by 2005….alarming stats! Who leads the obesity race? It’s us, ladies! More women than men are obese. Women also use more than 5 times the beauty products men do (some even more.) A coincidence? While obesity is a growing global epidemic, toxic poisoning is also on the rise. How did it become a planet wide problem?

Companies use synthetic chemicals in their products. These can affect the user. They also affect the non-user. The waste products have to go somewhere…so they empty into land and water. This contamination affects everyone, not just the person using the product! These chemicals are called parabens. They are found in many products from shampoos to hair color and can even be found in natural and organic brands!) Parabens are hormone disruptors which mimic or block human hormones. They get into the blood when you use them on your skin and affect the endocrine system, which controls every function of the body (including weight control…beginning to see the connection?) When you use a body lotion or fragrance, the parabens enter your body, confusing your own hormones, causing them to malfunction. These endocrine disruptors are stored in fatty tissue and are not flushed….accumulating over time. Could this be one reason why you can’t seem to lose weight?

Parabens, Parabens, Everywhere

So how can you reduce your risk of paraben-related illness? Well, one way is to discontinue using all products containing any form of paraben: methyparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben. There are a plethora of organic brands which don’t contain these and still give you the same (if not better) performance [Aubrey Organics, 100% Pure, and Real Purity]. Another method is to make your own cosmetics. There are many recipes you can find easily online and on beauty blogs. Some of the easiest recipes include only one ingredient! Since I have been on my new detox diet, I have rediscovered the beauty of organic cold pressed coconut oil. It’s so versatile I can use it on my face, body, hair and even take it internally for the metabolic boosting benefit [hence fat burning!).

PS. This is the bag I carried all summer. It was made from black and white garbage bags and a red take-out bag from a restaurant in China Town. The artist crochets these bags into whatever shape and size you want. By the way, she washes the bags, so these are truly recycled goods. I'm singing her praises because these bags can be custom made for you, are cost friendly, fashionable and "green". If you are interested in having one made, email or send me a comment requesting her information and I will give you her email address.

Quote of the Day: "It's the friends we meet along life's path who help us appreciate the journey" author unknown

Thursday, September 9, 2010

#111 I'm Plum Babbled Out

Lately, I have felt babbled out. I have ideas, but when I sit down at the computer, I'm uninspired. Originally, as many of you know, I started writing my babbles as emails to a group of women I met with weekly. What I had discovered was some of them would fall off track [either with their diet or a project] and would come to the meeting either unprepared or with a weight gain. The emails were sent in the middle of the week to try to keep them focused and positive. Of course, the emails also helped me to stay focused and inspired me to eat healthy and exercise. I also started sharing the emails with some family members and friends who were also trying to lose "a couple of pounds". And so, the blog - Bobbiesbabbles - was born.

Over time, I started writing about other topics besides weight - like my aging body, my relationships, my husband, articles I read, exercising, recipes, and so on. My sister, who helped me design the blog, wrote a little blurb about me [can be read in the right margin of the blog site] which I've tried to keep in mind when developing a blog post. She wrote, "....As with other mentors who have provided support and direction to Bobbie, may her reflections and thoughts on the frustrating world of weight management provide motivation, laughter and insight for those of you young at heart, but aging in body". With those words in mind, I wrote my blog. However, I think it's time for a change.

CHANGE being the operative word here because I've changed. Controlling my weight and physique, although still very important to me, are not as obsessively and compulsively as important. I've figured out how to eat and exercise to maintain my present weight and if wanted, how to lose a couple of pounds. I guess at 48 years and 6 months, something finally clicked, or perhaps I just don't care that much anymore. I'm not saying that I'll ever be "normal" when it comes to food, body image and liking myself in photographs, but I'm calmer about it all. When I joined Trevose Behavior Modification 11 years ago, I walked into the meeting thinking and hoping that this "eating program" would be "the answer". Instead, I saw a woman who looked to be about eighty years old waiting for the meeting to begin. I turned to my friend joining with me and said, "shit, does it never end?". Well, Trevose was definitely the answer in helping me lose and maintain my 25 pound weight loss, and it still is the answer. I continue to go to a meeting at least 3 times a month to keep my head in the game.

And so, I will continue to write my babbles, but I'm not sure that they will always be about body image [photo: does my ass look fat?], food, diets, etc. I'm not overly political or religious, so you don't have to worry about some rant on the newest piece of trash written about some senator or my take on the Bible.

I also want to thank all of you for reading and commenting on my blog, and especially to those who have contacted me to ask, "where are you?", or to let me know, "I think I got kicked off your distribution list because I'm no longer getting your babbles".

I'll be babbling soon....

Quote of the day: "We think in generalities, but we live in details"
Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947), mathematician and philosopher

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Vacation Time

I'm taking a short vacation from blogging.... will be back in September. Enjoy the rest of your summer [or winter for those dealing with that season right now]. See you soon... Bobbie

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Calcium: The Craziness Begins

Below is a blog by Dr. Barbara Berkeley. I read her posts, agree with most that she has to say, and have come to trust and respect her judgement on weight, food, drugs, and other issues that she writes about. I believe this blog is very important. I'm not saying that you must follow what she says. However, what she says may make you re-think your use of supplements, and may also lead you to discuss your own use of supplements with your doctor.

Calcium: The Craziness Begins
by Barbara Berkeley, MD

Have you ever felt like making the right dietary choices was more like crossing a minefield? One day you are strolling along, sure that you are on the path to righteous wellness. Then BAM! the landscape changes and you find that you are in mortal danger. This week, an announcement that villainized calcium supplements was just such a land mine. Millions of women take these supplements. They've been sacrosanct. For doctors, recommending calcium pills seemed like a no brainer and most were happy to give such easy, and seemingly important instruction.

But a few days ago, the British Medical Journal announced that healthy older women who take calcium supplements appear to have as much as a 30% greater chance of suffering a heart attack than those who do not. This conclusion was based on a review of 12,000 women and was consistent regardless of the type of supplement used. In the wake of this news, TV health pundits were already distancing themselves from calcium pills. (CBS News Video )

Once again, real food proved the winner. Women who got calcium by diet alone had no such risk. For almost any nutrient you can name, food sources provide the safest means of consumption. As most of you regular readers know, I don't think much of supplements. In fact, I stopped taking calcium long ago. For years, that has been my guilty secret. All of a sudden I'm looking like a clairvoyant.

One would think that the big news here is the danger of calcium pills (it’s hypothesized that they may accelerate hardening of the arteries). But in fact, there are two other elements that are well worth examining. The first is the conclusion of this and other studies that taking calcium supplements doesn't prevent osteoporosis (why were we all taking the blasted things then???). The second is the fallout that will occur as a result of this, the latest nutritional bombshell.

The editorial that accompanies the British Medical Journal study said:

"Calcium supplements, given alone, improve bone mineral density, but they are ineffective in reducing the risk of fractures and might even increase risk, they might increase the risk of cardiovascular events, and they do not reduce mortality. They seem to be unnecessary in adults with an adequate diet. Given the uncertain benefits of calcium supplements, any level of risk is unwarranted."

Once again, the news that stuns here is that calcium pills never did reduce fracture risk. Undoubtedly, we would have continued to pour endless dollars into these supplements (just as we do into taking all sorts of fancy, unproven vitamin supplements) had this particular study not gotten big media play.

But in fact, the biggest story in the calcium saga may yet be unwritten and may come from the whiplash that occurs as a result of our rush to get calcium from something other than a pill. Because we change our diets based on the daily proclamations of science, our eating habits are as fickle as a passel of runaway brides. One change often ripples out to create a host of others. Remember this one? In the 1990's various researchers declared that fat was the enemy. The result? An entire country loaded up on fat free products. In our headlong rush to avoid fat, we vastly increased consumption of carbohydrates and sugars. We soon became increasingly more obese and diabetic. Read some Frontline interviews on the Fat Free Years.

We are only a few days into the calcium story, but already we are being advised to get more calcium via foods. That seems like great advice, but the type of food is not being examined much. Nor is the fact that many of the countries with the world's highest rates of osteoporosis have the highest calcium intakes. No doubt, cartons of milk, chunks of cheese and anything made with soy will soon sport attractive labels that remind us that these foods contain calcium. Will we stop and think about rushing to increase our consumption of these foods? I doubt it. Most people (and I include health professionals) believe that all we need to do is plug the latest hole, in this case calcium. The fat free experiment should have taught us something, but I hasn't.

We will probably start running to soy (many soy products are fortified with calcium) and dairy for our calcium.

Fortified soy milks and cheeses have been promoted as healthy alternatives for those who can't tolerate milk, or just because. Very few people would consider the Harvard School of Public Health a fringe organization but their view of soy is cautious. It appears that soy is not the miracle food it purports to be. Studies do not support soy's ability to lower bad cholesterol meaningfully, nor to stop hot flashes or menopausal symptoms. And the phytoestrogens in soy have unknown effect. Several studies even suggest that soy may stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells. Harvard Nutrition Source: Soy.
Similarly, you may surprised to read what Harvard has to say about dairy:

"Look beyond the dairy aisle. Limit milk and dairy foods to no more than one to two servings per day. More won’t necessarily do your bones any good—and less is fine, as long as you get enough calcium from other sources...While calcium and dairy can lower the risk of osteoporosis and colon cancer, high intake can increase the risk of prostate cancer and possibly ovarian cancer."

Let’s think a bit before we rush to make big changes.

An interesting dietary conundrum is the fact that many of the countries with the highest dairy consumption (the Scandanavian countries and the US for example) have some of the world’s highest rates of osteoporosis.

Researchers who believe in ancient eating styles point out that diets which are high in dairy (not ancient), cereal grains (not ancient) and meat, tend to present high acid loads to the blood. Fruits and vegetables are more alkaline when digested. When things get too acidic, the body needs to release an alkaline substance to neutralize the problem. If it is not readily available in the food we eat, calcium is the buffer that calms the acid load. With chronic consumption of an acidic diet, the theory goes, there is chronic release of calcium from the bones leading to osteoporosis.

Once again, the Primarian, ancient or Paleo diet avoids the problem. This seems to be the case with each new diet "discovery". That’s no surprise if you believe, as I do, that the only thing we are "discovering" is how to eat as humans always did. Somehow, though, that’s never the conclusion we reach. Instead, we run to make a big correction. In doing so, we tilt our diets like sailboats whose masts are listing in the wind. Not a good idea when diets and health are all about balance.

An ancient diet is primarily composed of fruits, vegetables, nuts, berries, lean meats, poultry, fish, seafood and eggs. Lean toward the plant matter and add high quality animal protein. When possible, the animals we eat should be fed a diet that is composed of their own natural foods (in other words, grass fed rather than grain fed). Grain is not a part of ancient diet, nor are legumes like soy because there was no original genetic exposure to these foods. While I include low fat dairy in my Primarian diet (for the sake of making it more palatable to modern eaters), I suggest sparing use. Animal milk is a new food for most humans and many have a problem with it, including lactose intolerance—a condition that effects the majority of the world’s population.

In our modern world, a good diet may be defined as a diet that manages to survive every challenge issued by scientific "discovery". In the past 7 years or so since I became primarily Primarian, I haven’t had a moment of diet fickleness. Nothing has made me rush to change my plan because each new diet finding has neatly aligned with exactly what I’m eating. Low salt, high potassium, more omega three, less saturated fats, more fish, fewer pills...less visits to the doctor.

I've got it covered.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

#109 Apples and Pears

Ok, now I'm really confused. For years I've read and been told that having a pear-shaped figure was better than having an apple-shaped one. I became nicer and more accepting of my wider lower body knowing that because of pear shape, I had a better chance of not having a cardiovascular incident -- known as a heart attack in the non-medical environment. Better to have your weight below the belt then around the middle, I've been led to believe.

Well, maybe not! I read an article in today's Philadelphia Inquirer that sites a study out of Northwestern University telling us that having a pear-shaped figure is bad for your brain. The article said that us pear-shaped females [who used to be oh so very cocky about our fruit tree] "experienced greater cognitive decline compared with apple-shaped women". The study reviewed almost 9000 medical records for women between the ages of 65-79. What they found was, "that for every additional point of BMI [body mass index], a woman's memory score on the Modified Mini-Mental Status Examination fell by a point". Oy vey!! Not only do our memories decline from just getting older, but newly discovered, if you're pear-shaped AND obese [per your BMI score], your memory and cognitive abilities worsen....

Alrighty, now for the good news!! In yesterday's AOL Health News, I read that we can actually make ourselves smarter by making sure we eat these three things: wine, chocolate and tea. Luckily for me, I like all three... and in the order that they are considered best for increasing smartness. Amazingly, wine delivers the biggest boost. Sadly, I've begun to taper my wine drinking due to my cankle swelling. It seems that wine [both red and white, sadly] goes straight to my ankles.

Here is what AOL posted about these three wonderful indulgences:

"...And although consuming each food or drink separately helped improve memory, volunteers who regularly enjoyed all three had the keenest wits of all. But you don't have to own a wine cellar or buy stock in Hershey's to reap rewards. A little went a long way in the study. Volunteers with the sharpest wits downed as little as 1/3 ounce of chocolate, 3 ounces of wine, or 7 ounces of tea daily. Researchers credit the high-flavonoid content of these three indulgences with fighting inflammation, protecting against free-radical assaults, and enhancing communication between brain cells."

What more can I say?? I've been so proud of my pear-shaped physique... for which I can thank my genetics and my love of chocolate and wine. Since my body shape is not going to change as I get older [I mean change into an apple], I'll have to work on my smarts!! From now on, when I drink my wine and eat my chocolate, I will no longer care about my swollen cankles or my ever-expanding derriere. As the years move on, my ability to remember will amaze the younger generation, and I will become the crossword puzzle and sudoku aficionado of our family. I will never have to ask my son or daughter, "Now, where were we?" or "What did I just say?". On the other hand, as long as my husband is cognizant, sadly, I think he'll notice the physical changes more than the mental ones!

Quote of the Day: "It is sad to grow old, but nice to ripen" Brigitte Bardot

Intake of flavonoid-rich wine, tea, and chocolate by elderly men and women is associated with better cognitive test performance. Nurk, E. et al., Journal of Nutrition 2009 Jan;139(1):120-127.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

#108 You're Never too Old to Move Like You're Young

I'm in love. Yep. With Zumba. Zumba isn't a he, or a she for that matter. Zumba is a one-hour exercise dance class that incorporates Latin rhythms. The music goes from fast to slower and back to fast again, but never slow enough to let your heart rest too long. The teacher incorporates resistance training and body sculpting while your body burns calories. During one class, my instructor wore a pedometer and calorie counter. After class, we all went up to read the calorie counter; she had burned 700 calories. Honest engine! I leave the class dripping sweat and exhausted, but feeling great! Watch this video... it's almost as much fun as actually taking the class.

Zumba is a lot about the hips and butt moving, swaying, gyrating.... well you get the picture. When I first started taking Zumba, my hips just didn't want to listen to my brain. This disconnect between my hips and head was frustrating. However, it did make me understand [better] my husband's responses to some of those yoga moves I would try to have him do -- he would groan and say, "my back just doesn't move like that!".

I took my 14 year old daughter to a Zumba class with me a couple of months ago. We had a ball, but truthfully, I was a little self conscious. Some of the moves, well, a daughter just shouldn't see her mother's hips move like that. Many of the moves are "youthful", and when I see myself trying to do them in the mirror, I realize how old I am. It's just that grinding your hips front and back while throwing your chest out and arms back aren't dance moves that I did as a younger person. I'm very comfortable doing "oldies moves" like the Charleston and the Twist, but these newer gyrations make me blush. My daughter, not knowing the moves that I had been learning over the previous months said jokingly [sort of] during class, "Mom, I don't think you should be doing that in public".

What's great, though, is that I've found an exercise regime that I love, and one that I also look forward to doing. Unlike weight training, in which I always felt great after the hour workout, I didn't always love doing it. With Zumba, I look forward to each class. I even went onto, put in my zip code, and found all the classes being taught within a 5 mile radius of my house. I haven't met a teacher or a class yet that I haven't liked.

So, I guess what I'm saying is that you're never too old to move like you're young. Enjoy the video below. I think she would be an asset in my Zumba class.

Quote of the Day: "Love is doing small things with great love." Mother Teresa

Thursday, July 1, 2010

#107 Frog Kisser

I don't know about you, but I kissed a lot of frogs before I found my prince. Looking back, I can see that I kept going after the same frog over and over. I wanted the "rocker" frog, the "cowboy" frog, the exciting, "you-never-know-what's-going-to-happen" kind of frog, and of course the frog that stood out at the pond. However, I also wanted the nice, kind, sensitive frog, but he had to have machismo, and a deep ribbet. Additionally, having read at least 1000 gothic novels during my tween and teen years, I had designed my perfect prince. The problem: My ideal and perfect prince just didn't seem to be able to translate well into real life.

At 28, I was still dating, and honestly, beginning to feel like an old maid. I was worried. I wanted to be a young and hip mother [my mom and I are 22 years apart], but I was beginning to realize that I was going to be at least 30 years apart from my first child, and that was only if I found my prince fairly quickly and got down to business.

Well, along came Marc. He really wasn't the frog I was looking for... no siree, but he kept at me. I guess he was a real bullfrog. Anyway, as we began to date and got to know each other, I realized that he had many of the qualities of my "gothic novel" prince. In addition, I also awoke to a new reality. For most of my dating years, I had been so busy shunning the wrong "package" that I had done myself a disservice.

I was watching the Bachelorette about a year ago and realized that they were doing it all wrong. Using the bachelorette's specifications, the producers and [I guess] their assistants looked through photos and resumes and "collected" hundreds of guys. Then, they had the bachelorette review the collection and narrow the list down to about 100. After this was done, I think she got to meet or talk with those 100, and then once again, she narrowed it down to the prospects that we finally got to see on the show. Well, had I been the bachelorette, just on the physical markers I gave the producers, Marc would never have even made the first cut. Why? Because I would have told those TV people to find me men with dark hair, swarthy complexions, and a height of at least 5'11". Marc is blond, has a light skinned complexion with blue eyes and is 5'7".You get the picture, right?

Recently, someone asked me, "If I could go back in time, what would I tell the young me?". Well, A LOT of stuff, but in this case, I would tell me to read better literature and throw those gothic novels out the window. On a more serious note, I would tell me that one of the most important things a person can do is to be open -- to keep their options open -- in everything. To not be afraid and/or make decisions based on those fears. To think things through, that being impulsive can be fun and exciting, but if mistakes are made, learn from them and don't make the same ones over and over. And last, I would tell me that a person can find a prince when and where she least expects. So, kiss lots of frogs -- of all shapes and sizes and colors.

In honor of Wimbledon --

Quote of the day: "What makes something special is not just what you have to gain, but what you feel there is to lose" Andre Agassi

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

#106 Yesterday and Today

My brother sent me a response to the question at the end of Babble #104, "No Tattoos Allowed". The question I posed was, "How do you feel about tattoos and piercings?" His response [photo - baby bro and me, 2010]:

"Maybe the question below, since it's on your blog, can ask the question ... by expanding the waist line and putting on the pounds, are we defacing the body? It seems that any generation, other than our parent's generation, don't place a negative, or as negative, a stigma on tattoos and piercings ... have we become just as tolerant of gaining weight? Obesity? Can we put "how our bodies look" in the same category as "tattoos" and "body piercing". Why or why not?

Hmmm.... Well, if tattooing and piercings are being added to your body, then added weight could be put into that same category. And, if tattooing and piercings make people look at you differently and/or potentially make people treat you differently, then added weight could also be put into that same category.

On the other hand, I'm assuming that most people make the choice to get tattooed and/or pierced. Most people don't choose to gain weight. Also, when you get a tattoo or a piercing, someone else is doing this to you. The majority of people who are 20+ pounds overweight did not choose to do this, and unlike the tattooing and piercing, they did it to themselves.

Tattooing and piercings are statements. A tattoo is chosen to represent a time, a feeling, a love, an occurrence. A tattoo is a decoration, something to make you more distinctive, perhaps to make you stand out or make you feel powerful. A piercing would probably also fall into this category. A friend of mine and her good friend both got belly button rings for their 40th birthdays. A blogger I follow just got a nose piercing at the age of 42. These were all "active" decisions made by those people. A person who actively eats foods that cause them to gain weight is not really actively making this decision. They are actively choosing those foods, but it's almost as if they are the passive recipients. Almost as if they are "out of control" and can't make a decision. From what I believe, most people don't really want to memorialize a birthday or time in their life with a gift to themselves of 20, 30, 40 or 50 pounds. Also, I don't believe "saddle bags" or a "basketball belly" would be considered "body decoration".

Additionally, a tattoo or piercing can make a person feel better, prouder, stronger and attractive. Added weight usually makes a person feel bad, insecure, weak and unattractive.

I recently read that if you went to a county fair in the 1950's and saw the "fat lady", you would be seeing a woman who topped the scale at 300 pounds. Today, the "fat lady" nears 800 pounds. Back in the 50's, face and body piercings were not that commonplace. Neither were tattoos, although men in the military wore them as badges of masculinity.

So, has obesity become as accepted as other additions to the body? Let me pose these questions with my answers from today and the 1950's ...

1. If you are sitting in the coach section of a commercial airplane, would you rather sit next to an obese person, a person with multiple piercings or a person with 50% of his/her body covered in tattoos? [just in case you ask, none of them have body odor, bad breath, lice, scabies, dandruff, etc.]

2. Three weeks into the new school year, you go to a program at your child's school and meet her third grade teacher. You see that she has earrings in her eyebrow, lip and nose. This surprises you because your child never mentioned this. Then you realize that to your child, this may be "normal". How does that make you feel?

3. Since we are a society that shares the cost of healthcare, do you think that the cost of obesity and its medical problems outweigh the potential problems [infection/tearing] that may come with getting tattooed or pierced?

My answers:

1. I would rather sit next to the tattooed person. The obese person could potentially overlap their seat into my space, and the pierced person could potentially catch one of her/his piercings and bleed on me. 1950: the obese person

2. I would probably be a little shocked, but would get over it as quickly as if she had green hair or black fingernail polish. 1950: I would make a complaint to the school and have my child transferred to another teacher or another school.

3. Yes. Healthcare costs are skyrocketing. The medical problems and diseases that come with obesity [diabetes, heart disease, circulatory problems, joint problems] are long-term chronic problems. To keep the cost of health insurance down, employers should be motivated to establish programs to help [not punish] their overweight employees lose and maintain a healthy weight. More restaurants and more states should mandate that nutritional information be shown so that the client can make informed decisions. Also, healthy and satisfying alternatives to the high fat, high calorie foods should also be made available. Schools should serve healthy food, get rid of soda machines, make exercise/gym classes fun and mandatory, and establish programs in primary schools to teach kids about health, wellness, eating well and exercising. The cost of getting an infection from a tattoo or piercing doesn't come close to the cost of obesity. 1950: I don't know what you are talking about.

Quote of the day: "I want to show the world that disability does not mean inability" Prudence Mabhena, singer from Zimbabwe [Born with Arthrogryposis, double leg amputee, abandoned by and abused by her family because of her disability, today - most famous person in Zimbabwe]

Friday, June 11, 2010

#105 Making Muscle

I was at the chiropractor the other day because of a pulled hamstring. The area of pain is behind my left thigh. To be exact, it's where my thigh meets my butt. As the doctor massaged and then worked his elbow deep in there, I say to him, "I swear, there is muscle under all that nonsense". He and I laugh, but it's not really funny.

Over the past ten years or so, my usual lament is, "it's not that I really want to be thinner (well...), it's just that I want to be firmer". Besides the loss of firmness that comes with age, I believe the real reason I have more jigglies than others is because of the way I "starved dieted" during high school and college. Dinner was usually my only meal. At home, it was a healthy meal, but once in college, if memory serves me, it was far from healthy. Knowing what I know now, I understand that my body lived off my fat, but it also lived off my muscle. Do that for ten or so years and you have a serious case of the jigglies. Since my early 30s, I've been weight- lifting, yoga-ing, power walking, etc., and although I've lost weight and built some muscle mass, I still feel more jiggle when I wiggle than I would like.

Below is an article from Men's Health Magazine. Although there is a lot of information I already knew, there is also some interesting new stuff. Did you know drinking coffee can help lower your risk of getting Parkinson's Disease? And wait til you read about olive oil.... it's not just good for your heart.

8 Foods that Pack on Muscle

If muscles were made from chips and beer, we'd look huge. But they aren't, and we don't -- unless you count that sack o' fat up front and dead center [remember readers, this is an article from a men's magazine]. If not Doritos and double bock, then what? We decided to delve deep into the human anatomy to find the secret spot on every muscle where the word "ingredients" is stamped. With the help of Jeff Volek, Ph.D., R.D., an exercise and nutrition researcher at the University of Connecticut, and a really big magnifying glass, we found it. Here are the eight foods on the list:

Eggs: The Perfect Protein
The protein in eggs has the highest biological value -- a measure of how well it supports your body's protein needs -- of any food, including our beloved beef. "Calorie for calorie, you need less protein from eggs than you do from other sources to achieve the same muscle-building benefits," says Volek.

But you have to eat the yolk. In addition to protein, it also contains vitamin B12, which is necessary for fat breakdown and muscle contraction. (And no, eating a few eggs a day won't increase your risk of heart disease.)

How they keep you healthy: Eggs are vitamins and minerals over easy; they're packed with riboflavin, folate, vitamins B6, B12, D, and E, and iron, phosphorus, and zinc.

Almonds: Muscle Medicine
How they build muscle: Crunch for crunch, almonds are one of the best sources of alpha-tocopherol vitamin E -- the form that's best absorbed by your body. That matters to your muscles because "vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that can help prevent free-radical damage after heavy workouts," says Volek. And the fewer hits taken from free radicals, the faster your muscles will recover from a workout and start growing. How many almonds should you munch? Two handfuls a day should do it. A Toronto University study found that men can eat this amount daily without gaining any weight.

How they keep you healthy: Almonds double as brain insurance. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that those men who consumed the most vitamin E -- from food sources, not supplements -- had a 67 percent lower risk of Alzheimer's disease than those eating the least vitamin E.

Salmon: The Growth Regulator
How it builds muscle: It's swimming with high-quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids. "Omega-3's can decrease muscle-protein breakdown after your workout, improving recovery," says Tom Incledon, R.D., a nutritionist with Human Performance Specialists. This is important, because to build muscle you need to store new protein faster than your body breaks down the old stuff. Order some salmon jerky from It'll keep forever in your gym bag and tastes mighty close to cold-smoked cow.

How it keeps you healthy: By reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Researchers at Louisiana State University found that when overweight people added 1.8 grams of DHA -- an omega-3 fatty acid in fish oil -- to their daily diets, their insulin resistance decreased by 70 percent in 12 weeks.

Yogurt: The Golden Ratio
How it builds muscle: Even with the aura of estrogen surrounding it, "yogurt is an ideal combination of protein and carbohydrates for exercise recovery and muscle growth," says Doug Kalman, R.D., director of nutrition at Miami Research Associates.
Buy regular -- not sugar-free -- with fruit buried at the bottom. The extra carbohydrates from the fruit will boost your blood levels of insulin, one of the keys to reducing postexercise protein breakdown.

How it keeps you healthy: Three letters: CLA. "Yogurt is one of the few foods that contain conjugated linoleic acid, a special type of fat shown in some studies to reduce body fat," says Volek.

Beef: Carvable Creatine
How it builds muscle: More than just a piece of charbroiled protein, "beef is also a major source of iron and zinc, two crucial muscle-building nutrients," says Incledon. Plus, it's the No. 1 food source of creatine -- your body's energy supply for pumping iron -- 2 grams for every 16 ounces. For maximum muscle with minimum calories, look for "rounds" or "loins" -- butcherspeak for meat cuts that are extra-lean. Or check out the new "flat iron" cut. It's very lean and the second-most-tender cut of beef overall.

How it keeps you healthy: Beef is a storehouse for selenium. Stanford University researchers found that men with low blood levels of the mineral are as much as five times more likely to develop prostate cancer than those with normal levels.

Olive Oil: Liquid Energy
How it builds muscle: Sure, you could oil up your chest and arms and strike a pose, but it works better if you eat the stuff. "The monounsaturated fat in olive oil appears to act as an anticatabolic nutrient," says Kalman. In other words, it prevents muscle breakdown by lowering levels of a sinister cellular protein called tumor necrosis factor-a, which is linked with muscle wasting and weakness (kind of like watching The View).
And while all olive oil is high in monos, try to use the extra-virgin variety whenever possible; it has a higher level of free-radical-fighting vitamin E than the less-chaste stuff.

How it keeps you healthy: How doesn't it? Olive oil and monounsaturated fats have been associated with everything from lower rates of heart disease and colon cancer to a reduced risk of diabetes and osteoporosis.

Water: The Muscle Bath
How it builds muscle: Whether it's in your shins or your shoulders, muscle is approximately 80 percent water. "Even a change of as little as 1 percent in body water can impair exercise performance and adversely affect recovery," says Volek. For example, a 1997 German study found that protein synthesis occurs at a higher rate in muscle cells that are well hydrated, compared with dehydrated cells. English translation: The more parched you are, the slower your body uses protein to build muscle. Not sure how dry you are? "Weigh yourself before and after each exercise session. Then drink 24 ounces of water for every pound lost," says Larry Kenney, Ph.D., a physiology researcher at Pennsylvania State University.

How it keeps you healthy: Researchers at Loma Linda University found that men who drank five or more 8-ounce glasses of water a day were 54 percent less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack than those who drank two or fewer.

Coffee: The Repetition Builder
How it builds muscle: Fueling your workout with caffeine will help you lift longer. A recent study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that men who drank 2 1/2 cups of coffee a few hours before an exercise test were able to sprint 9 percent longer than when they didn't drink any. (It's believed the caffeine directly stimulates the muscles.) And since sprinting and weight lifting are both anaerobic activities -- exercises that don't require oxygen -- a jolt of joe should help you pump out more reps. Skip it if you have a history of high blood pressure, though.

How it keeps you healthy: By saving you from Michael J. Fox's fate. Harvard researchers found that coffee drinkers have a 30 percent lower risk of Parkinson's disease than nondrinkers.

Quote of the Day: "Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy"
Isaac Newton

Monday, June 7, 2010

#104 No Tattoos Allowed

Once upon a time, I was going to get a tattoo. I swear! Really! In all honesty, though, I never dreamed that I would say "tattoo" and "Bobbie" in the same sentence. However, this tattoo wasn't really for me. This tattoo was going to be a gift. I had decided to surprise my husband for his 40th birthday. Over the years, he has mentioned a few times [like maybe 100] that he finds a small tattoo at the base of a women's spine very sexy, and whenever he sees a female with one of these, he points it out, ergo the 100 times. Not knowing what to get for the man who needs nor wants for anything, I decided that a tattoo would be a great gift. Before I lost my nerve, I called the tattoo parlor and made an appointment. They let me know that they have books of tattoos, and that if I didn't know what I wanted, I should come in at least 45" early to look through them. No need -- I'd already decided. My tattoo was going to have three small hearts attached to each other - one for Marc, Logan and Erica.

The day before my "surgery", I got a phone call confirming my appointment. When I got off the phone, I noticed that my daughter [who was 8 years old at the time of this story] looking at me with a strange expression on her face. I swore her to secrecy, and told her about my surprise gift to daddy. Slowly, she began to shake her head left and right and told me that I was NOT getting a TATTOO! [large letters depict volume of her voice when speaking those words].

I interrupt this babble for a short history: At the time of this event, my daughter had been going to a Jewish day school for almost six years. Since our public school kindergarten was only a half day, and since I was working full time, and since a number of her friends from preschool were going to the Jewish day school full day program, we decided it was a win win to send her there for the year. Well, six years later, she was still there. Since neither Marc nor I are very religious, it was fascinating watching our little girl immersed in speaking Hebrew and hearing her talk about what she was learning. During one of her classes, Erica was taught that Jews do not deface their bodies. This meant that tattooing was a major no-no. She also shared that piercings aren't really allowed either, but since the holes close if left alone, it's not as bad as tattooing.

Back to my Babble: With one hand on her hip and the other pointing at me, Erica told me that when I die, I would not be allowed to be buried in a Jewish cemetery if I had a tattoo. I looked at her like she was crazy, but there she stood, with pointed finger and dagger eyes telling me that she would not allow me to get a tattoo. Humph. I called the tattoo parlor and explained to Rocko, the tattoo artist, that my 8 year old had just informed me that Jewish people can't have tattoos and be buried in a Jewish cemetery. Rocko asks incredulously, "you're an Orthodox Jew getting a tattoo?". I told him no, that I'm actually Reformative [not sure if this is a real word, but it's mine to describe how Marc and I were brought up - combination of Reformed and Conservative]. Rocko told me that my daughter was correct, but that many Jews have their tattoos lasered off after they die so that they can be buried in a Jewish cemetery. I relayed this information to my daughter. She, probably the only Reformative in a school of very conservative and some orthodox Jews, told me tough noogies, no way, uh uh... she "didn't care what that Rocko said". I told Rocko I was sorry and canceled my appointment.

So, want to know what I ended up getting Marc for his 40th birthday? I don't remember.

How do you feel about tattoos and piercings? Got any interesting or funny stories about your own experiences that you want to share?

Quote of the Day: "Deal with the faults of others as gently as with your own" Chinese Proverb

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

#103 Brains, Beauty, Body

There is a song my son sings by the rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot. It starts like this, "I like big butts and I cannot lie...". The rest of the lyrics are pretty disgusting, but that line caught my attention. Even as a child, I seemed to gravitate to and admire actresses with rounder figures. Well, I did have a girl crush on Farrah Fawcett during the 80s, but I'm not sure if it was she who I liked, or her hair that I coveted. Today, there seem to be fewer full-figured actresses to admire. America Ferrera comes to mind immediately, but I had to think hard before I thought of Jennifer Hudson. Both of whom, by the way, have lost weight after becoming famous. Yet, they both are probably still considered [in the industry] full-figured. Below, I share some of my favorite leading hourglass-figured women.

I love Dolly Parton. I love her spunky personality, her hourglass figure, her singing and song-writing abilities, and her no-nonsense way of getting right to the point. Dolly watches her weight, but doesn't really diet. She says, "I tried every diet in the book. I tried some that weren't in the book. I tried eating the book. It tasted better than most of the diets". As for her Ta Ta's, I remember reading an article where she shared that she is naturally well endowed and that the only plastic surgery she's had was to help "the girls" from going south. Well I say, good for her... and the girls. Truly, if your breasts are going to be that big they should live above the belly button.

Another woman I admire is Sophia Loren. She's no shrinking violet either. I also love and agree with her feelings about aging. In an interview after the movie Nine, she was asked about how she has kept her body and face so youthful. In response, she raised her eyebrows at the interviewer [like, I can't believe you just asked me about my face], and then went on to share that she eats pasta at least once a day, exercises a couple of times a week, and I think she may have mentioned something about sleep. Then, she asked him this question [paraphrasing], I've spent my life taking care of my body so that I would always look my best. Why is it that when you cross a certain age it's called vanity? My response: because those people who consider the time and effort women spend on maintaining their girlish figure and facial skin tone are also the one's who think they are "aging gracefully". There, I'll get off my soap box.

I could keep going, but I'll end with one of my all time favorite stars, Barbra Streisand. I love that we share the same name [Bobbie is my nickname], and that her fingernails always look so amazing. I can honestly say that I've enjoyed every movie in which she has starred, musical, comedy or drama. One of my favorite oldies is the movie Funny Girl. I'll never forget the scene where she comes out on stage as a bride. The chorus girls [her maids of honor I suppose], who surround her are singing how beautiful she is and that she's a star.... at which point they move away, she turns sideways, and the the audience can see that she is 9 months pregnant. Ok, her beauty is not classic and she doesn't have a cultured speaking voice, but who cares. Her intelligence, drive and independence make her a woman to contend with. And here is Barbra; "I arrived in Hollywood without having my nose fixed, my teeth capped, or my name changed. That is very gratifying to me".

Quote of the day: "When you learn something from people, or from a culture, you accept it as a gift, and it is your lifelong commitment to preserve it and build on it" Yo-Yo Ma, musician