With the start of a new year the media is alive with weight loss programs. Everything from Atkins to Weight Watchers is in full swing, with each commercial sporting people just like you who are now thin and so incredibly happy that they laugh for no reason at the camera while holding pictures of their past selves. Nothing super new there. Big yawn!
Today MSNBC ran an article about Rick and Kay Woollen who lost weight and made money by using HealthyWage. HealthyWage is a program that lets you put your money where your bulk is. In other words, you pick a program and pay to compete against other people within the program. They offer a variety of challenges and options, but the idea is that you pay money to help yourself be more committed to losing the weight.
Obviously for some people this is VERY successful, in that you not only lose weight, but make money doing it. The Woollen’s lost over 100 pounds combined and won $6000. I don’t know about you, but that sounds win-win to me. The thing is, what about all of the people who paid money and didn’t lose the weight? You might say that they could’ve paid for a gym membership or for an individual weight loss program and not used it. That would’ve been a waste of money too. But in that case, the money you spent goes to the company that you wanted to buy something from, not to other people.
Does something like this help people make long-term lifestyle changes that will continue to benefit them throughout their lives, or does this encourage people to do something for a reward that is not long-lasting? Does the “why” for doing something make a big enough impact on the way that people behave that it should be factored in? When I exercise and eat my apple instead of ice cream, I’m not doing it to make big bucks, I’m doing it to be healthy, to feel better and to be happier. Would I lose some of those results if I was making healthy choices to make money? I think I might.
Weigh in America, what do you think? Is gambling on weight loss the way to go? Do you think that a monetary risk will truly help people to make major lifestyle changes, or is this a program that will help a leave more people worse than when they started? Would you do it?
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Biking: 15 miles
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Hello again! Today CNN featured an article by Marilyn Wann titled Big deal: You can be fat and fit. Ms. Wann believes that “being fat might not be a death sentence” and her article goes on to detail how fat people face discrimination when really, being fat might not be the worst health crime a person can commit. She shares that when she was 26 she was denied health insurance, not for any medical reason, but for her weight. The article then goes on to highlight two experiences where people were given, what she believes is unfair and incorrect medical advice.
So…because you are dying to know, I’m not sure what to think about this. I feel like the examples she shared are a little empty. If you weigh too much for the MRI machine I don’t think that the rules should be bent for you, the same way I don’t feel like the children should be measured on the adult BMI scale. You can’t use something that isn’t designed for some physical limitation that have and expect accurate or safe results. For the teen who found another doctor when her nurse practitioner told her that she would need to lose weight to cure something (we’re not told what), every patient is entitled to find physician that they feel listens and provides them with good information.
However, I agree with the idea that being fat/overweight/obese does not equal bad health. I’m sure that we all know people with serious health problems that have a normal BMI and I’m sure we all know someone who is fat/overweight/obese who has never been sick a day in their life. I truly believe that health, real genuine complete health, is not defined and cannot be predicted by the number on the scale. I believe that the number on the scale is an indicator, nothing more nothing less.
So, weigh in America, can you be fat and fit? Is there more to health then what you see when you step on the scale? How big of a role should weight play in how a person treated, medically or otherwise?
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Last year I realized I needed to be more fit. So I set a goal…not one of those hard to reach crazy goals, but one that I knew I could do. I set out to bike 500 miles between September 1st and December 31st. And something amazing happened. I DID IT! (I also lost weight, which was EXTRA awesome!)
But I needed a new goal, so I’m embarking on a LazyMan IronMan. Between now and March 27th I will swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles. I know, I know…not very impressive, but the goal is to do it in 12 weeks the first time and then to shave a week off after each round. We’ll see how it goes!
Each day I’ll post what I’ve accomplished from the day before, so follow along and and share what you are doing to be active!
I know that this is not a normal post for me, but I want to experiment with this and see what happens. The more I’ve pondered our nation’s problem with weight the more I’ve realized that you need to be the change you wish to see. I would LOVE to share the challenge with you! So weigh in America, are you game? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like the template and you can join in on the fun!
According to this article Pierre Dukan, the French nutritionist who has devoted his life to food behavior, thinks that children who are slim should receive higher marks in school. This plan would give children an option of using their weight to boost their scores in their final year of school. This would increase their “baccalaureat” score. For those who don’t know, or who don’t want to click on the link the baccalaureat in France is a test that shows that you are well-rounded and ready to study in a university. A little like, but not exactly like the SAT or ACT here in America.
So, essentially Dukan is suggesting that young adults who are preparing to enter a university be given bonus points on their entrance exams. That’s right kids, if you do your best to stay/obtain a healthy BMI you can get an automatic extra 400 points on your SAT or 3 points on the ACT.
As someone who was once a slim high school senior trying to get into college I probably would have thought that something like this was great. As a health professional now, it interests me because I can see this being a good measure of how well a future student living on his or her own for the first time might take care of themselves. There are definitely some potential positive outcomes for a program like this.
I see a few possible problems with this incentive. Dukan states ” The baccalaureat is really important in France. Kids want to get it, their parents want them to even more, so why not get them to work together on nutrition?” How many kids are already killing themselves to study, be involved in sports and like 8 extra curricular activities because it will look good on their college applications? How many parents are already putting pressure on their children to excel and be awarded scholarships because the economy is difficult? Do high school kids need this as an added pressure?
Also, where is the carry over? What happens when those kids get into the university, but no longer have the goal of nutrition because they’re already in? What happens when the parents who buy and prepare healthy items are no longer around for balanced nutrition and these young adults fall into pop tart and energy drink that many freshman fall prey to?
I think this is a unique concept with a lot of potential, but also a lot of potential problems. Weigh in America. Would something like this motivate you or your teens? Would you have worked harder to keep a healthy weight if it increased your chances of getting into a good school? As a parent would you try to be a little more health conscious for your teen?
Okay, this is cool. An article today titled “New App Calculates Calories Through Photos of Food” highlights Meal Snap, a new iPhone app. This app created by the Daily Burn, a free “fitness, nutritional tracking and social motivation” plan is designed to magically tell you how many calories are in any picture of food you send in through the app. According to the Meal Snap website the app costs a low $2.99 and will not only give you the nutritional break down of the food in your picture, but track the nutritional value of your meals over time.
But wait, there’s more. Once you’ve gathered this amazing information about that delicious looking ice cream sundae you can then tweet, or write a post about it on FourSquare. That’s right, not only can you gain calorie enlightenment from this app, but you can go on to share that information with all of your friends and followers. The Daily Burn reps say that allowing users to tweet and share their food information is purely to allow for individual accountability (which since you choose what you post and don’t post I’m not entirely sure that this is the best way to instill a sense of accountability in people), but I think that it can do more than that.
Currently the FDA is looking at passing laws that would make food establishments give calorie and nutrition information right on menus so that consumers can make informed decisions right at the point of choice, but I think that more than anything this app can help make food establishments accountable. Let’s say Lady Gaga, who has 9311478 followers on Twitter decides to eat at Cafe La Boheme in LA and has their famous Boheme Burger Sliders and she finds out that they’re about 5000 calories. What if she tweets this to all 9311478 of her followers and now they all know that eating the Boheme Burger Sliders will give you double your daily calories? I’d think that Cafe La Boheme would want to step up and either claim or work to change this new reputation.
So, weigh in America, what do you think? Does an app like this have major potential for industry accountability? It’s too soon to tell if this app will sink or swim, but if it takes hold, do you think that it could be part of a healthy food revolution?
A recent study published about a phase 3 clinical trial found that participants who took Qnexa (a weight loss supplement that combines phentermine and Topamax) and followed a weight loss program lost more weight than the control group that had access to counseling only. The control group lost 3 pounds on average, while the Qnexa group lost between 18 and 20 pounds. I haven’t seen the actual statistics yet, but I’m guessing that this is significant. According to an article on CNN.com the Qnexa group received the same nutrition and lifestyle counseling that the control group did and the only difference was the addition of Qnexa.
But, before you rush out and stock up, consider this. What was in the counseling? Most people can lose 3 pounds on their own, but can they keep it off or is it a quick fix? Is the Qnexa as effective without the counseling? I know that people in a study are more likely to participate because the are chosen based on their likeliness to stay in the study. If this study has been done correctly then they did the best they could to allow for generalizability but the people chosen to be in this study could be different from you and I.
So, weigh in America. What do you think? Should information about Qnexa be published and given to the general public right now? What else do we need to know? Should companies be required to give the general public a list of the criteria that they used in determining subjects for their study?
So, with the upcoming marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton on the minds of pretty much everyone in the media, Kate’s wedding diet, the French “Dukan Diet” is considered health news for today. I’m not really here to bash this specific diet or make any major comments about the royal wedding, but rather I’d like to talk about why we as a group of people are so interested in how other people are getting skinny?
In my earlier post on fat talk I discussed how women will verbally bash their bodies with other women in an almost ritualistic “I”m so fat!”, “No, you aren’t, but I’m huge” conversation. Why is it that we are so willing to talk about our bodies, rather than talk about our health? I’m sure some of you know what I’m saying. Whey we’re with the skinny girls we talk about how “you’re so thin”, and when we’re with the heavy one’s we talk about how “no, you look good”! Why are we so fixated on looks rather than actual health? Why can’t we talk to one another about health? Why is it so hard to say, you know, you look great, but more than looking great we could go for a walk together, or rather than saying, no, you’re fine, we could share a favorite healthy recipe?
Weigh in America, what do you think? Do we just talk about our actually looks because they are more obvious or do we need to discuss the way we look? Is it even possible that our society could shift from simply discussing how we look to discussing our health?