Tag Archives: Health

The Art of Seduction Is A Piece of Cake

You know, you can learn a lot about life from watching a Season 8 episode of  NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.” You’re rolling your eyes saying, “Thank you Captain Obvious. The moral of the show is that we have an obesity problem in America.” And I would respond kindly, “Yep, there’s that, but that’s just the fat of it. Forgive the pun. You need to go deeper to get to the meat of the problem.”

Temptation. The word basically means the quality of seduction. I find the Temptation Challenges on “The Biggest Loser” quite entertaining and down-right educating. The first Temptation Challenge changes the weight loss competition into a all-out strategy game. The contestants stood behind silver platters. When they open the platters, a single cupcake is revealed containing 100 calories. Whoever eats the most cupcakes gets to manipulate which team would fall below the yellow line at final weigh in. However, the team who wins the challenge still has to work hard to not fall bellow the yellow line, or it would be a waste of strategy. Oh, and whoever wins the challenge would not receive any help from trainers to lose weight. To put it simply, to eat the cupcake, or not eat the cupcake? That is the question. Only two gave in to the temptation as piles of cupcake are added to each contestant’s silver platter- Antoine from the red team ate one cupcake, while Tracey ate four. She “wins” the temptation.

When I saw this, I had to laugh. This is ridiculous? Tempting people with cupcakes? That’s so easy to resist. But it isn’t. I forgot the context of the situation, and who is being tempted. For someone who enjoys food and eats cupcakes like breathing air, this was quite a challenge. Addiction is challenging. I remembered my own addiction to Starbucks frappes and how I tried so hard to give it up for 40 days, only to fail on the 20th day. When the temptation was presented to me, the smell of a Chai frappe floating through the air, floating towards me–I remembered the fun times I had sipping on my Starbucks frappes. And my body remembered too, craving it. That’s what temptation is, right? Seduction. Reminds you of what you’re missing out on, what you can’t have, what you had, and essentially, what you could have for the taking. It’s right there in front of you, welcoming you, calling out your name. It messes with your mind. Temptation is easy; withstanding it is the hard part.

Lately, I’ve been craving cupcakes, but not just any cupcake. RED VELVET CUPCAKES! My mouth is watering just typing the words down. I can taste it now, the vanilla cream cheese with a dash of red sprinkles touching my taste buds. And I’m not the only one. Everyone and their mother have been wanting cupcakes, whether it be red velvet cupcakes, I do not know.  In this down economy, the cupcake industry has been steadily growing between 2006 and 2008 and still growing now. Gee, that’s about time the economy started going down. But why the increase when the economy isn’t tasting good? Apparently, cupcakes are nostalgic foods and comfort foods. Cupcakes bring people back to when life was much simpler and better (nostalgia) and when they eat the cupcake, it makes them feel a whole lot better about themselves and their situation (comfort). It’s as if all the stresses of the world disappear while you’re eating a cupcake.

Living in Los Angeles, I love Sprinkles Cupcakes (located in Beverly Hills). They sell about 5,000 cupcakes a day. And though the cupcakes may be a bit pricey (hey, they got to pay the Beverly Hills rent somehow), their cupcakes are worth it! Not only are they delicious, but you can also customize it if you want–find a cupcake that matches your nostalgia and comfort.

So with that, I send you off with a Sprinkles Strawberry Cupcake recipe located via Martha Stewart, the Queen of Conventional Cooking and Arts and Crafts. And send a cupcake or two my way. I’m great at testing food.
What’s your favorite cupcake? What’s your favorite cupcake bakery?

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Filed under Entertainment, Food, Issues/Causes, Life, Movies/TV

Too Fat to Fly? Then Lose The Fat And You’ll Soar.

I LOVE to eat as much as the next guy. I am always munching on something. I am a huge fan of tofu and because it’s such a versatile substance–I love eating it in various ways: Mapo style, fried, soup. I also enjoy my steak medium rare. Meat. I LOVE meat. Don’t get me started on Korean BBQ. And dessert? There’s an extra “s” in the word for a reason–dessert is extra scrumptious! But at some point, I have to wonder: am I eating to live or am I living to eat? I’m very fortunate–it’s not like I’m living in parts of Africa where McDonald’s is seen as a luxury. I have choices–I just don’t always make the right ones.

Don’t let the Winter Olympics and the image of healthy American athletes fool you America–you are getting  FAT!  Or maybe I need to be politically correct and more sensitive–you are getting obese–morbidly obese. According to the American Medical Association (AMA):

The researchers found that in 2007-2008, the prevalence of obesity was 33.8 percent overall. Among men, prevalence was 32.2 percent overall and within racial and ethnic groups ranged from 31.9 percent among non-Hispanic white men to 37.3 percent among non-Hispanic black men. For women, the prevalence was 35.5 percent overall, and ranged from 33.0 percent among non-Hispanic white women to 49.6 percent among non-Hispanic black women. The prevalence of overweight and obesity combined was 68.0 percent overall, 72.3 percent among men, and 64.1 percent among women.

Wake up and smell the Starbucks coffee. Okay, don’t because even too much of that can be bad for you. But you really need to get out of your seats and do something active. Currently, obesity is in the media once again as a result of “Clerks” and “Jay and Silent Bob” director Kevin Smith. He was kicked off a Southwest airplane for pretty much being fat. Now, as much as I don’t agree with how Southwest treated Smith, I do hope it’s a wake up call for Smith.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not hating on fat people. I think I’m fat myself. I’m fighting my own weight-loss battles, and so far I’m winning slowly. Very slowly. But I’m on the way if I can keep up all this activity I do. I just hate it when we fat people make excuses. We are the first to blame genetics–you know, the classic case in Psychology: nature versus nurture. It’s in my nature to be fat. After all, we can’t all have Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt as our mom and dad. And children who have obese parents are more likely to be obese themselves because it’s in their genetic make-up. But we can’t just excuse ourselves because of genetics. There’s also your environment. Your lifestyle choices also play a role. Whether you choose to head to the gym and undergo intense workouts or to pick up that red velvet vanilla frosted cupcake or to go out running a mile or two or to stay at home at watch 6 hours of TV–those choices are yours and yours alone. Unless you have some major health problem that doesn’t allow you mobility, you have no one to blame but yourself–the choices you made.

Writer William Saletan in his 2008 article, “Fat Chance:Obesity, genetics, and responsibility.” :

How do we know the modern environment is a factor? Because the obesity rate has soared in less than a generation. As the authors point out, “The dramatic rise in childhood obesity in the past 15 years is clearly due to changes in the environment, because genes have not altered.” But this implies a paradox: “Obesity is both predominantly environmental … and predominantly genetic.”

How can this be? Because genetic and environmental influences are measured differently. What’s genetic is the weight variation within a population, such as the kids in your neighborhood. What’s environmental is the weight variation between populations: kids in your neighborhood today, compared with kids in your neighborhood 15 years ago.

So that’s it then. My fatness is partly due to my genetics, but it’s mainly on me. If I want ripped abs like Taylor Lautner or a mighty chest like Gerard Butler (who reportedly gained a few pounds last year, but is back in shape in recent photos). I can’t just wish it into existence. I have to act on it. It starts with me and the choices I make. The English poet, William Ernest Henley said it best: “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” And so goes my obese identity revealed–I need to drop that donut and go on that mile run now. Oooh…donut. No…bad donut. Run fool, run.

And while I run, I’m going to be thinking a lot about this fat war:

1. Regarding airplane seating: should obese people pay extra if they take up an extra seat or is that discrimination?

2. Why aren’t we making good choices in our eating habits? Is it because healthy food just isn’t affordable?

3. Do we make up lots of excuses so we can stay comfortable being fat?

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Filed under Entertainment, Issues/Causes

The Importance of Being a LOSER

School Hierarchy (n): The social order in which any high school runs from top to bottom.

Flashback to the awkward days of high school. In most high schools around the nation, you know where you belong in the school hierarchy. If you didn’t, you’ll certainly be put in place. It’s a food chain, and when you’re a guy, you can have it just as bad.  If you’re too scrawny you get picked on, and if you’re too fat you get picked on. Like Goldielocks, things have to be “just right.”

In college, those lines get blurred. Why? The infamous Freshman 15–almost everyone seems to be gaining weight. Results from a Cornell study showed an average weight gain of 5 lbs in Cornell freshmen. Despite the results, there’s still an obesity problem and according to Newsweek reporter Johanna Cornblatt, “In an effort to fight obesity, colleges may also trigger disordered eating.”

What exactly causes Freshman 15 or should I say the Freshman 5? I, for one, know all too well. I wasn’t blessed with a high metabolism:

  • Eating unhealthy dorm food and/or over-eating
  • Eating late at night.
  • Having unhealthy snacks in the dorm.
  • Drinking lots of coffee, lattes, etc.
  • Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
  • Lack of exercise
  • Less sleep
  • More stress

When I first entered high school, I was at a scrawny 145 lbs. By the end of college, with my weight shifting up and down, I became a fat 205 lbs. Inexcusable! It’s time I reclaimed my life and my health. This New Year resolution is going!

I was a geek back in high school, and in many ways, I still am. I’m not ashamed of it. It what makes me…well…me. After all, Clark Kent had nerdy glasses and look who he turned out to be. And that fat that has accumulated over the years? That needs to go so Superman can come out. So dear friends, the geek in me is shouting: I want to be a LOSER…a loser of weight.

And I hope you’ll accompany me on this 5-month journey of being a loser by keeping me accountable. Encourage me when I need it, and abuse me when I make bad health choices.

I’ll fill you guys in on my BMI and other health info tomorrow as part of a health series. For now, that’s my loser identity revealed.

How about you? What’s your weight-loss strategy? How much have you gained since high school or college? What are you doing about it?

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Filed under College, Issues/Causes

My Drinking Problem Or The Lack There Of

Photo Credit: InImagine

Photo Credit: InImagine

According to old English Common Law, “A man’s home is his castle.” If that is true, then aside from the couch being a sort of throne, perhaps the toilet is like a side throne. In either case, a man spends some time on these two equally important thrones. In America, a man sits on his couch, drinks beer, and watches TV. And in his younger days, a man lies down on his couch, passed out from his excessive drinking. At least, that’s the stereotype. On the other hand, a man conducts all kinds of business on the comfort of his toilet seat, even reading magazines and newspapers while sitting. And in his younger days, he would vomit into the toilet from his excessive drinking. Thank God I’m not the Australian man who had to get rushed into the emergency room after sitting on a toilet that was pranked with fast-acting adhesive. No, my problem is drinking.

But not exactly the kind of drinking problem you may automatically be thinking. I am a 23-year-old male college student/graduate, but that doesn’t mean I binge drink. You see, (now this may be a bit graphic for some people), I went to urinate today and discovered that my urine wasn’t quite as clear or light-colored as it should be. Diagnosis? My drinking problem is that I don’t drink enough water. Sure, everyone knows that drinking alcohol gets you dehydrated, and therefore you need to combat that with drinking water. But for me, it’s all those Starbucks caramel machiattos, those Tapiaco Express boba milk teas, and those Arizona sweet teas that have led to the downfall of my urine. This was quite a wake-up call to me. There you have it. I am not ashamed of my drinking problem, and chances are you aren’t too, because you may be suffering just like I am, being dehydrated and not know it! As a result, I’ve decided to be an amateur advocate promoting the healthy drinking of water. According to nutrition experts, “a good estimate is to take your body weight in pounds and divide that number in half. That gives you the number of ounces of water per day that you need to drink.” In my case (and I’m a little sensitive about revealing this to you), I currently weigh 195 pounds (yes, I’m working on losing 30 pounds). That means that I should be drinking 97.5 ounces of water daily.

You may wonder why I am promoting the “healthy drinking of water.” You may think that it’s redundant, that water is healthy for us anyway because it flushes out all the filthy stuff in our bodies and refuel our cells and giving us some energy. That’s all true, but drinking too much water too quickly is also bad for you–it can even kill you. You can have “water intoxication,” just like the tragic story of 28-year-old Jennifer Strange. A local radio station contest held the “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” contest in 2008 when the Wii just came out. Strange drank  some six liters of water in three hours for the contest and was found dead in her home. Another incident involved a 21-year-old male student from California State University, Chico back in 2005. According to the Scientific American, he  died after being “forced to drink excessive amounts of water between rounds of push-ups in a cold basement” during a fraternity hazing gone wrong. As tragic as their stories were, it educated me about the dangers of excessive water-drinking, especially because our health-conscious  culture tells us to drink plenty of water. Now we know how much is “healthy.”

I know I’m a strange person for even examining my urine. But I’m a curious college student. And this curiosity led to a scientific exploration of my dehydration. Now, I hope you too will drink more water instead of all that other junk. And I hope you will drink water responsibly too!

For now, I’m trying to control my Starbucks addiction. In the mean time (and this is bad timing), Jamba Juice has a special promotion until September 27, 2009. If you buy one smoothie, you can get one 16oz. smoothie for a buck if you print out the coupon.

Photo Credit: InImagine

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Filed under Issues/Causes, Life, Masculinity

God, I’m Fat. God, Are You?

Photo Source: Roosevelt Academy

Photo Source: Roosevelt Academy

I recently went running with Michael, my fraternity brother, around the hills of Westwood. As some of the expensive-looking cars drove through Sunset Boulevard, I couldn’t help but wonder which celebrity had passed by and saw me catching my breath. How did I get to this point? I used to be able to run with ease! I will one day run with ease. But in the most humorous sense of weakness, I remembered thinking: God, I’m fat.

After running up and down Drake Stadium, I gave up running altogether and made my way back to the fraternity house in defeat. As I sat on the couch disappointed in myself and what I’ve become, I decided to amuse myself by taking my iPod touch and searched for the words “How fat is God?” I needed to laugh at myself. Lo and behold, I came across various results, such as mama jokes: “Yo mama is so fat, that when God said, ‘Let there be light,’ He asked her to move out of the way.” And then I came across an amusing article entitled, “Is God fat too?” by Jim Evans, an SF Fitness Examiner. And I’ve got to say, he made some completely interesting points and observations.

First, we all know that America is one of the most obese nations in the world. According to Forbes.com, “nearly 237 million Americans are currently overweight. It is estimated that medical costs connected to obesity accounted for 9.1% of all health expenditures each year in the U.S.” Although we may be ranked #9 because 74.1% of people over 15 are overweight in this country, the first 8 countries are islands and their population can’t really compare with ours. How the heck did we get to this point? Is it because of our stressful jobs and little exercise? Is it because our physical education classes in middle schools and high schools consist of only reading and nothing to do with physical activity? Perhaps it’s also our availability of fast foods and how affordable it is? God, we’re fat.

But maybe, just maybe, God is fat too! This is where Evans’ article gets interesting. He says that a majority of the people in this country consider themselves Christians, thus if a majority of this country is overweight or obese, then Christians certainly make a large part of these statistics. Evans reminds Christians that our bodies are temples of God, and that we are to glorify Him (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). This suggests that we shouldn’t be filling our bodies with filth and other unhealthy things. That’s Jambaisms #5: “Your body is a temple, littering is strictly prohibited.”  Thus, if we are to be stewards of this gift–this body that we have–then we need to take better care of it.

Evans goes far to wonder (and I wondered about this too as I laid on the couch recovering from the run) that if we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), and we are growing overwhelmingly obese, does this reflect God’s own image? I’m going to have to say no, and not because I think we need to all look like Abercrombie and Fitch models either. No, that’s more of a Classical Greco-Roman ideal. I like Evans’s answer when he says that God gave us common sense and intelligence about what we are doing to our bodies. Our behavior and the environment are partly responsible for making us fat. But more importantly, we chose this path. We have the ability to control it. We need to control it. Our bodies are temples for God’s sake! And whether you believe in God or not, it’s still very logical and very intelligent to keep your body healthy.

Oh, and whether you’re skinny, average, or fat, God still loves you just the same. And no, that’s not a big fat lie.

Photo Source: Roosevelt Academy

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Filed under Christianity, Food, Issues/Causes, Life