Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.

Mark's Daily Apple

3 Apr

The Busy Person’s Guide to Losing Weight

The Tuesday 10: Lose Weight Even If You’re Busy

And who isn’t busy? We’ve been talking quite a bit so far this week about how fast-paced and hectic our lifestyles are (especially in April, it seems). The idea of losing weight typically generates rather glamorous images: personal trainers, hours in the gym on complicated equipment, expensive groceries and making a veritable career out of cooking dinner.

Statistically, we’re both the busiest and fattest bunch of people on earth, so it’s not hard to see why the thought of weight loss carries such impossibly glamorous, time-sucking connotations. Fortunately, our idea of what’s required is not really accurate – whether you want to lose ten pounds or fifty. Of course, diet pills and exercise gadgets you see on infomercials don’t work – it’s not quite that easy. But losing weight is surprisingly simple if you apply a few tips consistently.

Here are ten of my favorite ways to get started today:

10. No More Frivolous Bread

What’s the harm of one roll at dinner, right? A lot more than you think. Bread baskets are ubiquitous, and they’re also worthless. Make it a habit to avoid these freebie wasteful calories, period. After a few weeks you will notice a difference. It’s too easy!

breadbasket

This Is Elan’s Flickr Photo

9. Don’t Eat Until You’re Stuffed

This seems obvious, but many of us are guilty of over-eating. I was surprised to learn recently that liver disease is an alarming new problem (truly an epidemic), but not because of excessive alcohol consumption. It’s because of excessive food consumption! It’s really true that restaurant portions are two to three times more than you need – and that’s standard. Here’s how to deal: eat until that point where your stomach is no longer growling, but you could still eat a bit more. From now on, simply stop when you get to that point. It only takes one or two times to realize how incredible this feels. The busiest person can eat less.

8. Get It To Go

I’m not talking about take-out. Anytime you dine out, get half the meal into a doggy bag before you even start. You don’t have to cook all your meals to lose weight; just eat less when you are out. Hey, you’ll save cash, too!

doggybag

This Is Dyxie’s Flickr Photo

7. Don’t Drink Calories

Many of us consume several hundred empty, sugary calories daily without realizing it – lattes, sodas, “energy” drinks, sports drinks, smoothies and so on. Unless these drinks are replacing a meal or supplementing a really small meal, don’t drink them. I like to have frequent protein and fiber smoothies, but they typically replace a meal, or I make sure to get in a really intense workout session.

What to do: stick with water and the occasional glass of wine or a light beer. Make calorie-rich drinks a treat, because they really are more like dessert and should be viewed as such. That daily latte is packing on as much as half a pound a week. It’s easy to see why people can gain ten or fifteen pounds a year without knowing why – these little treats have a terrible cumulative affect on your waistline (and health). Busy and need a lift? Grab a water bottle to go instead of a mocha. Realize that most of these drinks are really just glorified milkshakes.
glorifiedmilkshake

This Is Rizkapb’s Flickr Photo

6. Realize Why You Need to Lose Weight

Most of us get caught up in the vanity of weight loss – we just want to look good! There’s nothing wrong with that. But remember that being overweight is behind most of the major causes of death in this country – and nearly all of them are preventable! This isn’t about having the perfect abs or being a size 4. Even a ten-pound weight loss can add years of good health to your life. Time it takes to realize this: you just did!

5. Snack, Part A

We have become a culture of constant eaters. We’re always snacking – bars, chips, bags of treats, candy, cheese, it never ends. We often eat more than the serving size when we snack (who ever eats only seven chips?). Learn to slow down and enjoy meals, and think about the calories you’re putting into your mouth. Simply practice being aware of everything you eat. This doesn’t take up your time, and it makes a big difference in how much you eat.

calories

This Is XTinalamb’s Flickr Photo

4. Snack, Part B

When you snack, snack on fruit or veggies. Your body will soon grow to crave them instead of the other unhealthy treats. Humans become easily habituated to any substance – make this work for you, not against you. Busy folks have no excuse: pre-washed, chopped veggies are available in most grocery stores, and you can always get the kids to take on the chore of tossing rinsed veggies into baggies for a week’s worth of snacks all ready to grab and go.

3. Lunch Dilemmas

Many of us eat too much or chow on unhealthy lunches because we’re in a rush or just can’t get away from the desk. Two easy, quick fixes for even the busiest souls:

- If you eat home-made lunches, you don’t have to keep buying and consuming the same old pre-made junk. Buy and consume bagged salads instead. There is almost always one variety of bagged lettuce on sale. Keep a bottle of balsamic vinegar at work, and you’re good to go. This doesn’t take any more time than microwaving a pre-made meal high in carbohydrates and bad fats and you’ll save thousands of calories (translation: a couple of pounds) a week.

- If you and the gang dine out for lunch, just start ordering salads instead of sandwiches and pastas. Lay off the croutons and franken-dressings, and you’re well on your way to losing weight in just a few weeks. Salads shouldn’t be a once-in-a-while healthy notion. Greens of some sort should be a daily habit. They are what we are meant to eat.

vegsalad

This Is CMariani’s Flickr Photo

2. Frozen Vegetables Are Your Friends

Too tired to whip up a healthy, nutritious dinner? We all are. Fortunately, healthy dinners really don’t take very long. In fact, heating up a huge bag of vegetables and drenching them in olive oil and tasty spices takes less time than waiting for the pizza to arrive. Get into the habit of eating veggies for dinner at least 3 or 4 days a week, and watch the pounds run. in. terror.

I eat pretty light dinners, but if you need more protein in your evening meal, bake up a big bag of frozen chicken breasts once a week so they’re ready to slice and toss into the vegetables. Now seriously, did that take any time at all?

1. Bottom Line

For people on the go, the bottom line for weight loss comes down to reducing portions. Avoid the empty calorie traps – pre-made meals, coffee drinks, snacks. These are the bane of any busy person’s existence. Avoiding them doesn’t mean you must alternatively slave over freshly-made meals or spend hours at the gym every week.

And recognize that convenience and speed apply equally to vegetables and low-calorie foods like salads, too. So make the better choice.

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3 Apr

Blogging on the Beach…

…something I could definitely get used to!

I was in Thailand last week at one of my favorite spots in the world – a little beach resort area in Phuket. They had been hit pretty hard by the ’04 tsunami, some 700 people having been lost in flooding in the town of Patong beach alone. Yet, other than a small memorial there was almost no remaining evidence that this devastating event had ever occurred. The Thai are very resilient people, and very appreciative of what they have, which, in most cases, isn’t much compared to what we have. I am reminded of the longevity studies that show that the single most important trait in living a longer, healthier life is the ability to “move on” from life’s major setbacks. The Thai people seem to me to be a shining example of this trait.

The other thing you notice in Thailand (and in many Asian countries) is that there are very few overweight people. Wait a minute, you say, don’t they eat a lot of rice and isn’t rice on your list of no-no’s? Well, the truth is, they do not really eat a lot of rice. They may have a small amount at many meals, but virtually every meal we ate during our time in Thailand contained a comparatively greater amount of protein and vegetables and a tiny amount of rice. And the portions at each meal were fairly minimalist. No super-sizing here. The result was that after each meal, we felt very satisfied, but never full. That is the key to eating healthy (or, as my eighth grade English teacher would have me say, healthily. But it just sounds wrong!).

Between the great food, the beach, and the relaxing pace, my wife, Carrie, and I had a great time together just getting away from it all.

A few pictures:

markncarrie

A relaxing evening together after a day in the sun…

frisbeemark 1

I’m very serious about this frisbee business.

(I’ll post a couple more pictures on the Pictures page later today.)

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2 Apr

Now This Is Cool!

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

Click it out! Here’s the most exciting health news for your reading pleasure.

But What Will Happen to the Blood Type Diet?

We’re being facetious – okay, maybe just silly. But get ready for some radical news: scientists have been hard at work making enzymes that will switch any blood type into type O. As in, O, wow. Type O can be accepted by everybody regardless of blood type, so this looks to be revolutionary for public health. Pretty amazing! We’ll keep you posted.

Antidepressant Alternative Brings Cheer

The medical community has been expressing growing concern over the lackluster improvements in antidepressant medication. Frankly, we just need something safer, healthier and more effective. Lo and behold, today’s edition of the journal Neuroscience reports that friendly bacteria found in dirt may do the trick.

This is as good a time as any to vent a little bit about germ loathing. Hype, we say! Apparently, soap is so old school. Everywhere you look, there’s antibacterial utensils or antibacterial clothes or antibacterial lives. But bacteria – even the bad kind – can be really good for you! There are some dangerous ones out there, but most bacteria serve a healthy and important purpose: they keep you slim, develop and strengthen your immune system, thereby enabling us all to…live. By all means, wash your hands, but do not buy into the new antibacterial keychain trend. You’ll be okay without it, we promise.

antibacterialsoap

This Is Bdausch55′s Flickr Photo

The Fairer Sex

Guess who is more sensitive?

2 Apr

Quick Bites

Yo, Apples!

A few quick updates:

- I’m going to be moving my blogroll to a separate page in the very near future, because, hey, it’s getting a little long and I want to keep the main page looking really clean and uncluttered.

- You may have noticed I added several new general categories (e.g. Stress, Food, Nutrition). We still have all the specific weekly columns you know and love (Fuming Fuji, Monday Moment, and all the rest). But the Bees are hard at work grouping every post – over 300 of them now! – into general categories, too. I think this will make things easier for new readers and loyal followers alike. If you’re desperate to crush that stress or on a mission to lose five pounds or simply in the mood for a delicious, healthy recipe, the new general categories will make these pursuits easier. We’ve also been playing around with Technorati tags, but I’m not sure that we’ll keep it up.

- Your comments and emails are greatly appreciated. This is what is most rewarding about blogging for me – interacting with customers, friends, and people from all over the world. I think of MDA as a health-and-wellness water cooler, so don’t be shy! I’ve really had fun starting this blog, and I’m looking forward to the conversation getting bigger. I love that I can chat with you about health from anywhere – even Thailand (more on that later).
Of course, I’d really like to hear any of your suggestions for ways I can improve the site so that you get the most out of it. Your thoughts are always welcome.

2 Apr

Does It Have to Be This Way?

Something has been on my mind and I want to ask for your thoughts on the matter.

The other day, I stopped at the local Starbucks for a coffee. Rather than book it to my next errand, I decided to sit and relax for a few minutes. Yes, I’m a people-watcher (guilty as charged). It was late in the afternoon and people were hurriedly running their errands, trying to get everything taken care of before dinner.

I started to notice something: everywhere I looked, people were stressed out. Brows were furrowed, children were ornery, wives looked anxious, the husbands had that “I’ve officially hit the wall” numb look. Drivers were impatiently honking horns, the intersection was jammed, and the general feeling in the air was pretty lousy.

I shook it off and walked over to the drugstore to pick up a few sundries. Same thing – a woman was tearing the poor clerk to pieces over a soda discount error. The line was piling up, people were complaining and grimacing, and there was a lot of huffing going on.

Against my better judgment, I headed for the bank to take care of some business, and it was the same scene there: a college kid crying about her overdraft charges, an incompetent teller, a missing manager, an obnoxious guy in a suit screaming on his cell phone.

We all have those days. Evidently, this day, everyone was having it at the same time. We all hit our limits, and sometimes the manners just go. Nobody’s perfect. Life is really stressful. And yet, I find myself asking: why do we accept this?

Is there ever really a reason to scream at a clerk, your child, your spouse? We all dread getting stuck behind “that person” in line – that person who gets rattled by the tiniest mistake and apparently feels that yelling at another human being is acceptable behavior. Even worse, most of us have been that person at least once, despite our best attempts.

So, is this just life? If life turns ordinary people into angry, stressed, impatient souls, should we really say that’s just the way life is? Should we accept it?

I don’t have the answers. I don’t even know if I’m asking the right question (but I think I am). I’m certain you know what I’m talking about – we all witness this hum of stress on a persistent, sometimes even daily, basis. All I want is one good, compelling, logical reason why it has to be this way. I don’t want to know why it is this way – that’s easy enough to figure out if you simply look at our modern lifestyle and the insane pressures many of us face. That’s not what I’m asking.

I want someone to tell me why it has to be, not why it is. Does it have to be this way?

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