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 www.freshseafood.com. 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