Eat It

Today’s question:

Do you tend to order the same thing at restaurants? Or do you like to jump around the menu?

Answer: yes. It depends where I am. There are places where I just want the one or two things that I know are awesome. There are other places where I am busy trying new things. Remember, Vegas is a world class food city! Sorry, I don’t have much more to say about the issue than that.

In Closing: no regard for the Supreme Court; catching the cold; one Indiana lawmaker doesn’t think you should have a choice whether you raise a child with severe disabilities; cybersecurity; doing the same thing and expecting different results; finally somebody said it out loud.


A couple months ago, I planned to go to the gym after class. However, I forgot my water bottle. So rather than go all the way back home to go to a gym down the street from the college, I stopped at a convenience store and bought a couple of the cheapest bottles of water they had. I didn’t realize at the time that I had purchased “alkalized water” that was “infused with negative ions.”


Yeah, my chemistry professor — the one that studied with the Nobel laureate — had a good laugh about that.

I only used one bottle and the other ended up in the fridge, forgotten until I overheard someone say that alkaline water was so much better for you than regular water, would change the entire pH of your body, and improve your health.

Time for science. To the refrigerator!

So the first thing I wanted to do is see how stable this stuff is. Was it actually alkaline? After spending a couple months on the shelf, was it in fact still alkaline? Thankfully I own a pool test kit, so this was easy to check:


Yup, pH of roughly 8.0, or close enough to it to not matter. At least this stuff is what the label says. This was a pleasant surprise.

But what about the health benefits? Or rather, are health benefits even possible? To answer that question, let’s look at what happens after you swallow this stuff.

First stop is your stomach, which is full of gastric acid: a blend of hydrochloric acid, potassium chloride, and salt. If you’ve ever been responsible for swimming pool maintenance, you know it doesn’t take a whole lot of acid to neutralize a whole bunch of somewhat alkaline water. In other words, odds are very good that this stuff is just-plain-water by the time it gets to the intestines. In fact, one of the few research studies I was able to find about alkaline water suggests that a pH of 8.8 would be needed to get any kind of results. Since pH is a logarithmic scale, you’d need water 8 times more alkaline than the stuff in this bottle according to the study. Oh, and before I forget, this study was done in test tubes, not people.

But let’s say for the sake of argument that some of this water makes it past the stomach, past the intestines, and into the blood. Your body has over 5 liters of blood, and this little bottle contains a half a liter. Human blood has a pH between 7.35 and 7.45. It can be hard to maintain a swimming pool pH between 7.2 and 7.6, yet your body maintains a range a quarter that size all day, all night, without you even thinking about it. And it’s bad news if the pH gets out of the normal range! Your body can regulate this with your kidneys, your lungs, and even with normal reversible chemical reactions within your blood. You’re alive, which is evidence that your body is very, very good at this.

So in conclusion: there is little evidence and no logic whatsoever to support alkaline water having any health benefits. And remember that like all bottled water, the stuff that comes out of your tap is better regulated.

In Closing: Moi aussi, je suis Charlie; point of view; more prisons than colleges.

On Good Habits

Today’s question:

Do you have any good habits that were hard to start but you’re happy you worked to build them?

Well yes, I have a lot of habits that were hard to start. For example, it was very hard to get started working out regularly. Sadly, it’s much more fun to hit the snooze button than to get up and sweat. It’s more fun to go out to breakfast than to go to yoga class when you’re starting. But you know what? I’m stronger and more flexible than I was the day I graduated high school.

I also had a hard time getting in the habit of keeping my nails polished. Let’s face reality, I’m not one of those naturally-girly girls but rather one who has to work at it. So finding the time to give myself a manicure (and a pedicure) is something I do in the name of feeling more feminine. Sure, I could pay somebody to make this happen, but this way it happens on my schedule.

So yes, good habits are worth developing.

In Closing: New antibiotic; calorie myths; a pound of fat a day; ok I promise my last weight link of the day; wasting no time. See everybody tomorrow.

Exercise is a Good Habit too

Did you know that regular exercise is associated with a lower risk of cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and being overweight? You probably did. Did you also know it can prevent bone loss as you get older? Maybe you just don’t know how to get started without spending a lot of money on one of those exercise programs advertised on late night television.

Well, thank heaven that Google turns up a lot of good places you can start without necessarily buying a gym membership or some expensive videos. Just remember: whatever you do, keep doing something. Remember that this is a habit that’s going to take some time to do right (and even longer if you do it wrong). But all the research says it’s worth it.

Edit: Yet another study says exercise is good for you. Of course, If you started printing out these studies, you might go broke just buying paper.

In Closing: Ted is right; Schneier on doxing; sounds good to me; Mrs. Quimby would probably be in big trouble; the answer is blowing in the wind (and the sun too).

Ok, Let’s Talk about Food

You know what would be a really good habit for 2015? Eating a better diet. Most of us could stand to do better. Furthermore, the cold hard reality is that 2 out of every 3 Americans need to lose some weight; one out of three needs to lose a lot of weight.

There are a handful of diet and nutrition tips that the overwhelming majority of experts agree on:

  • Fruits and veggies are good for you and most of us could stand to be eating more of them. Deep fried veggies don’t count. Come on, even these guys agree on this much.
  • Water is one of the best things you can possibly drink; green tea comes in second.
  • If you eat more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight (and that’s easy to do).
  • Too much refined sugar is not good for you.
  • Olive oil is pretty good stuff.

I’m going to close with what 2000 calories looks like and what 200 calories looks like. Oh yeah, and these guys may have some useful information (come on, the Food Pyramid was retired quite a while back). Whatever you decide to make for dinner, be safe.

Update! Here’s a “study” showing that fast food portion sizes haven’t actually changed that much between 1996 and 2013. Well, just based on this reporting of the “study”, I see at least two problems. First, much of the portion size creep started long long before 1996. Heck, I remember how the 20 oz. drink at Wendy’s seemed absolutely huge when I was a kid, and now I think they call that size a small. Second, the items that researchers compared included “2 oz. and 4 oz. cheeseburgers.” Well alert the media, 4 ounces is still 4 ounces. Never mind that these days, there may well be a 6 ounce and an 8 ounce burger on the menu! In short, it is possible to eat moderate portion sizes at a fast food restaurant, but you’re going to have to read all those little calorie count numbers carefully.

Hello 2015

Like many people, I was happy to see 2014 go and I’m looking forward to a great 2015. This is a time of year when many people are working on habits: getting rid of bad ones, starting good ones. As you can see from the nice banner at the side, I’ll be talking quite a bit about habits this month. Be sure to check out some of the other nice people who will be doing likewise.

Oh, don’t worry, I’ll be sure to talk about the economy and politics and the freakin NSA from time to time too!

My plan is to keep it short and sweet and useful. Let’s start with a little talk about goals. Yeah I know, I beat up on goals just last week. But here’s the thing: if you don’t try, you’ll never ever succeed. Even though what Mr. Venuto says about goals is tailored to a health and fitness community, the fact is that most of what he says can be applied to any goal — and that includes habit related goals!

In Closing: Health insurance does you no good if you can’t afford to use it; slowdown; the injustice system.

Huh, maybe the old fashioned way that used to work still does work.

The other day, results from a study on diets for diabetics were published. In short, it said that the low fat diets that have been recommended for many years don’t work very well to control diabetes, but the low carbohydrate diets that came before them did:

The authors point to the specific failure of the prevailing low-fat diets to improve obesity, cardiovascular risk or general health, and to the persistent reports of serious side effects of commonly prescribed diabetes medications. By comparison, the authors refer to the continued success of low-carbohydrate diets in the treatment of diabetes and metabolic syndrome without significant side effects.

Diabetes is a disease of carbohydrate intolerance,” said Barbara Gower, Ph.D., professor and vice chair for research in the UAB Department of Nutrition Sciences and one of the study authors. “Reducing carbohydrates is the obvious treatment. It was the standard approach before insulin was discovered and is, in fact, practiced with good results in many institutions. The resistance of government and private health agencies is very hard to understand.”

Emphasis added.

This summary goes on to point out not just one or two, but twelve research-backed facts to support their point of view. Go ahead and read them for yourself. Although these points include the fact that dietary intervention doesn’t have side effects the way drugs do, they did not include that food is relatively cheap compared to medicine. Nor did they point out that metabolically, complex carbohydrates are little more than chains of sugars.


In closing: NSA, War on the NSA, War on Terror, War on Brown People, War on Schools that Work, War on Marksmanship, War on the Middle Class, War on the Working Class, War on the Palestinians, Here a War, There a War, Everywhere a War on War. Old MacDonald had a War, EIEIO. Cosigning is a bad idea. Kids will eventually eat what they are served. And let’s close with friendly Satanists.

Need new workout clothes?

I am not getting paid a dime to say this, but I like Champion workout clothing. Let me tell you why.

I was sold on the original Champion JogBra years ago. It has since been replaced by higher-tech even-lower-bounce products. In certain activities, it’s very important that The Girls don’t move around too much. Some of the new models even have double layers for more support — and there’s space between the layers for your gym locker key or armor or something. But my love of Champion goes much further than just bras.

These products are durable. I have a couple items that are about 5 years old and still going strong. The only reason to replace them is to keep from getting bored wearing the same old thing. You just aren’t going to get that kind of wear out of the stuff you find at the local discount store.

Now I like fashion as well as the next person. Champion manages to have both “new hip styles” and classics that you will always be able to wear to the gym. Come on, a modestly cut pair of navy blue workout shorts isn’t going out of style. Fine, pair it with a workout shirt in the latest “in” color.

For those that are plus sized, Champion absolutely has larger sizes. I can’t imagine how demoralizing it must be to know you need to work out to lose weight, yet  have a hard time finding exercise clothes that fit properly. At the risk of a really bad pun, they’ve got big girls covered.

Champion products are also very reasonably priced. I’m a clearance rack junkie, personally, but I can get an entire outfit of stuff (sometimes two) for what one premium bra from Lululemon costs — and I don’t have to think about wearing something called a Ta Ta Tamer or supporting a company with questionable values.

And finally, this may seem like a silly point. It is clear that orders are processed and packed by a human being. I know this because when I order a bunch of stuff, my items are packed into “outfits.” Say I have two bras, two shirts, a pair of shorts, and a pair of capris? They will be in two envelopes, one top/bra/bottom in each, color coordinated. Personally, I think that’s pretty cool!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some new workout clothes to toss in the washing machine.

In Closing: one young lady’s solution to child marriage; blah blah Snowden NSA privacy snooping et cetera; Her Majesty; fighting among ourselves?. See you all next time.

A Weighty Subject

Ok, I know it’s February. Those of you that are sticking to your plans to do something towards making yourself healthier this year, good on you.

Somebody accidentally put The Truth in a research article:

The risk of cardiovascular disease death increases exponentially as you increase your consumption of added sugar.

Here’s the abstract; here’s related commentary. Among the findings are that 71% of American adults get more than 10% of their calories from added sugars and about 10% of American adults get 25% of their calories from added sugars — not naturally occurring sugars like you’d find in a wide variety of foods, but added sugar that is only there because somebody put it there. All this sugar “has been linked to the development of high blood pressure, increased triglycerides (blood fats), low HDL (good) cholesterol, fatty liver problems, as well as making insulin less effective in lowering blood sugar.” Further, in the words of one of the authors, “Added sugars do one of two things — they either displace nutritious foods in the diet or add empty calories.”

Now what is that thing I’ve said before? Oh yes: “every weight loss diet that works demands that you sharply limit — if not completely eliminate — added sugars from your diet.”

Gee, do you suppose this could at least partly explain the obesity epidemic?

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only weighty research that’s come out this week. It turns out that many parents don’t see overweight children for what they are! In fact, some of them think their normal weight boys are too skinny! This is actually a “review article“, which means they looked at the results of a whole bunch of other research studies (69 of them, in this case). It doesn’t take yet one more study to show that if Mom and Dad don’t see Junior’s weight as a problem, they aren’t going to do anything about it.

Cut the sugar: don’t even buy candy, cookies, cake, or sugary sodas. Take a realistic look at your kids, and then yourself. Maybe it’s time for more veggies and less of everything else.

In Closing: Affordable Care Act; Plague; your dose of NSA, privacy, spying, Snowden, and related links; Stray Dog Strut; $0.77; I think they like the status quo of cheap exploitable workers who will never be able to vote against them; poverty; and preventing unwanted pregnancy prevents abortions. Who knew!