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 http://www.zumba.com/, 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