Archive for January, 2011

Six small changes can help keep pounds off

January 14, 2011

This post is based on an article in the February 2011 issue of Consumer Reports magazine. The average middle-aged American gains 1 to 2 pounds per year. These six simple changes will at least help stop the weight gain, and may help you lose a few pounds.  Fad diets that promise more not only don’t work, most research shows they result in even more weight gain over the long run.

“Those who start with small changes often end up able to make more and bigger changes and lose more weight.”  James O. Hill, Ph.D. (University of Colorado)

1.  Stop drinking calories. Many drinks contain lots of calories.  Yet, when we consume calories in liquid form we don’t feel full or satisfied, so we eat just as much as we would without the beverage (or more, if the beverage contains alcohol or salt).  Calorie-free “diet” drinks do not cause weight gain, so are a better choice (but not as good as water).

2.  Eat more protein. Low-carb, high protein diets have proved surprisingly effective, especially in the short term. People who eat a higher proportion of their calories from protein end up consuming fewer calories overall. The bottom line is it can’t hurt to substitute a bit more lean protein for some of the fat and starches in your diet.

3.  Eat more fiber. “Fiber is the good guy of food,” according to the Consumer Reports article. “Grow the amount of vegetables on your plate and shrink everything else,” says Barbara Rolls, Ph.D. (Penn. State University).

4.  Lead yourself not into temptation. If there is an unhealthy food you crave, don’t have it where you can eat it impulsively.  See this post for more about the addictive properties of fat, salt and sugar in processed foods.

5.  Add 2000 steps per day. You can do this all at once, or divide it up, but the point is to get moving. See this post for more about exercise.

6.  Cut your screen time. This is related to number 5,  but is worth emphasizing because we spend more and more time seated in front of various screens (TV, computers, games).  Excessive screen time is correlated with more obesity and other health problems. For children, especially, it is important for parents to set limits on screen time, and to model by their own behavior how to stay active.

One more change: practice mindful eating. The best way to make this a habit is to write down everything you eat (keep a food log or diary).  If you do this, you will lose (or stop gaining) weight.

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Five movies about teenagers

January 5, 2011

By chance, I watched five movies in the past few weeks about teenagers, four of them girls. I can’t say I have any new insights into the teenage mind (for that, I suggest you at least read this), but here are my very brief reviews:

World’s Greatest Dad” stars Robin Williams and is R rated, for good reason.  It is an unexpectedly dark comedy and will no doubt offend some (e.g., those who don’t want to laugh when a teenager accidentally hangs himself during sexual stimulation).  I liked it a lot, though, and recommend it.

Hard Candy” is not a comedy, but is extremely dark.  Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson play the main characters, a 14-year-old and a much older “friend” she met online.  Both are outstanding in their roles and the low budget movie is very well made.  It earns its R rating for keeping you on the edge of your seat (if not under it) as the two play a cat and mouse game around the subject of pedophilia. Page in this role reminds me of Kathy Bates in “Misery” and Noomi Rapace in “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”.  I recommend it.

True Grit” is a remake of a classic, and also classic Coen brothers.  As in “Hard Candy” the main character is a 14-year-old girl who has an unusual amount of grit.  The dark comedy is definitely here, if you can find it in the bleak surroundings.

The teenage girl in “Winter’s Bone” is as gritty as any of the above.  The movie takes you to a geographical place and sub-culture you very likely have not visited before.  This is also an excellent R rated movie.

The fifth teenager-themed movie I saw was “Easy A” which has a good cast and has received positive reviews; I expected to like it.  The best I can say is it was mildly entertaining, if  you like silly and campy. I didn’t this time; thumbs down.

A sixth movie, “Precious” , also features a tough teenager.  I blogged about it earlier (here), so won’t count it in this group.