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December 31, 2008

If It Looks Like a Duck: Worst Weight Loss Promises of 2008

Duck The Healthy Weight Network recently released its 20th annual Slim Chance Awards, highlighting both the hidden dangers of diets and supplements that often contain unknown ingredients and sometimes potent drugs, and the merely ridiculous. 

"To call 2008 a typical year in the weight loss field would be too easy," cites their press release. "This year’s awards go to an infamous huckster of diet infomercials, known for his outrageous disregard of injunctions against him; $139 body-shaping jeans impregnated with substances that supposedly reduce cellulite; a pill that’s “proven” to make your belly fat vanish; and a dangerous starvation diet launched recklessly on the Internet with false promises of safe, fast and permanent weight loss."

MOST OUTRAGEOUS CLAIM: Kevin Trudeau infomercials. It’s rare that regulatoryagencies look at books, given our free speech laws, but the infomercials for Kevin Trudeau’s weight loss book and his repeated violations were just too much for the Federal Trade Commission, and this past August he was fined over $5 million and banned from infomercials for three years. 

WORST GIMMICK: Skineez jeans ($139). A new item in the fight against cellulite, Skineez jeans are impregnated with a so-called “medication” of retinol and chitosan, a shellfish product once claimed to cut fat absorption in the stomach (see 1999 Slim Chance Awards). Friction between the jeans and skin supposedly triggers release of the substance, which goes to work on fat when absorbed through the skin. Reportedly a big hit in Europe, the “smart fabric” is also used in lingerie. Ironically, the creators of Skineez, Clothes for a Cause, profess to raise funds for breast cancer and “a wide range of other socially conscious charities.” So while the company exploits and deceives women with an expensive pair of jeans, it assures them they can “do good with every purchase … As our sales grow, so will our ability to help others.” FTC, however, is clear about such gimmicks, emphasizing that products worn or rubbed on the skin do not cause weight loss or fat loss.

WORST CLAIM: AbGONE. Throughout 2008 full page ads assaulted the eye in daily newspapers across the country touting AbGONE as “proven to promote pot belly loss.” Claims are that AbGONE increases “fat metabolism” and calorie burn, promotes appetite suppression and inhibits future abdominal fat deposits. These are drug claims that, if true, would alter the body’s regulation, but unlike drugs, the pills are sold as food supplements not requiring FDA approval. The bold ads feature the obligatory before and after shots of models, cut-away sketches of the abdomen with and without belly fat, and a white-coated researcher with chart purportedly confirming success of 5 times reduction in fat mass, 4 times lower BMI, 4 times greater weight loss than placebo. No added diet and exercise needed – well, except, you may want to heed the fine print disclaimer at the bottom that reminds us “diet and exercise are essential.”

WORST PRODUCT: Kimkins diet. It must have seemed an easy way to get rich quick. Founder Heidi “Kimmer” Diaz set up a website and charged members a fee to access the Kimkins diet, boasting they could lose up to 5 percent of their body weight in 10 days. “Better than gastric bypass,” there was “no faster diet,” and in fact she herself had lost 198# in 11 months. Stunning “after” photos were displayed. In June 2007 Women’s World ran it as a cover story, and that month alone PayPal records show the Kimkins site took in over $1.2 million. Then users began complaining of chest pains, hair loss, heart palpitations, irritability and menstrual irregularities. This was not surprising since Kimkins is essentially a starvation diet, down to 500 calories per day and deficient in many nutrients (shockingly, laxatives are advised to replace the missing fiber). In a lawsuit, 11 former members are uncovering a vast record of Diez’s alleged fraud. They found that the stunning “after” photos, including one of Kimmer herself, had been lifted from a Russian mail order bride site. According to a deposition reported by Los Angeles TV station KTLA, Diaz admitted using fake pictures, fake stories and fake IDs, and a judge has allowed the litigants to freeze some of her assets. 

“Today’s economic downturn can remind us how foolish it is to waste money on unsafe, ineffective and energy-draining weight loss efforts,” said Francie M. Berg, a licensed nutritionist and adjunct professor at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine, whose organization Healthy Weight Network started the Slim Chance Awards 20 years ago.

With the New Year upon us, resolutions freshly on our minds, Berg is advising people to skip dieting and move ahead with healthy habits that last a lifetime.  She recommends:

  • Record your dieting history (weight lost, weight regained, favorable and ill effects,time frame of each). Reflect on what you have written.

  • Resolve to follow a diet-free healthy lifestyle through 2009, adapting guidelines that work for you. (Handouts available at www.healthyweight.net/handouts.htm).

It’s a way to get your life on track, improve your health and move on with what’s really importantin your life, Berg explained.  

Here's to a diet-free 2009.  Happy New Year from all of us at Green Mountain at Fox Run, going on our 38th year promoting non-diet healthy lifestyles to help women achieve healthy weights!

Posted by Marsha on December 31, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

December 30, 2008

Economic Downfall VS Do These Jeans Make Me Look Fat?

Body-image-weight Recently, Marsha posted a blog survey about stress. What causes more stress - the economy, your family, work, school, health or your bod? Unfortunately, not a big shocker; some of us would rather watch our 401K sink to unbelievable lows than see ourselves naked in a mirror.

I guess for me this only further suggests that during otherwise very tough times there's an argument for turning worry, stress and frustration into something more productive. When I look at the survey, I wonder how much of that 'worry' spills over into other areas of our lives? If feeling concerned about your weight or body image  is most prevalent in your mind does that effect your relationships, your job performance or even keep you from being proactive about your health?

Now may be the right time to get tough. Making yourself a priority so that you can focus on the things that are most important in your life - with strength, confidence and a greater commitment to your health. Gaining confidence in your wonderful self  will help you to appreciate the good things about you and move you forward in a more positive way. 

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Posted by Cindy on December 30, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 29, 2008

Weighing In: Gossip Website Only Dishes About Celebrity Weight

When I recently came across a website solely devoted to rumors of celebrity weight gain, celebrity diets and celebrity weight loss (mostly women's weight loss, of course), I was struck by the seemingly innocuous disclaimer of the website (which I will not promote by naming). It reads "All content on this website should be considered harmless speculation and gossip."


That's certainly debatable.  Study after study shows the detrimental effects of celebrity weight obsession in the media to young women's self-esteem and body image.

Body hatred is a learned phenomenon (read Body Hated is Learned), and celebrity gossip websites such as these, which ridicule famous, beautiful and accomplished women for a slight bulge here and there is a insidious self-hate training ground.

While readers may 'entertain' themselves by reading such drivel in the short-term, over time the criticism turns inward as women tend to start judging themselves by the same impossible beauty standards they witness in the media.

Three Resolutions for Positive Body Image in the New Year

  1. Don't contribute to the problem. Reduce or eliminate visits/purchases of websites and magazines that treat women's weight loss as a spectator sport.

  2. Be a force for change.  You can take action by obtaining a Turn Beauty Inside Out (TBIO) kit, which helps teens, parents and educators build awareness and promote positive body images in young women.

  3. Be a postivie example.  Learn techniques to help build a better body image for yourself and to set a positive example for other loved ones in your life. A great book to consider is The Body Image Workbook: An 8-Step Program for Learing to Like Your Looks by, Thomas F. Cash, Ph.D.

  4. Best wishes for a Bright, Healthy, and Happy New Year!

Posted by Laura on December 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 26, 2008

Diabetes: Study Shows Regular Exercise Might Prevent Onset Of Diabetes In Black Women

Not many studies have been conducted on exercise and type 2 diabetes prevention in black women. But a recent publication in the American Journal of Epidemiology shows that several brisk walks per week can help to lower black women's type 2 diabetes risk.

Julie Palmer of Boston University and her colleagues reviewed data from the Black Women's Health Study which is currently following 45,000 black women between 1995 to 2005.

Women who reported walking at least five hours per week as part of their healthy lifestyle were one-third less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than non-walkers. Even with accounting for age, income, diet - even obesity - the chances of being diagnosed w/ the disease were also significantly lower among women routinely took brisk walks.

"This is important," notes Palmer, "because it suggests a way to reduce diabetes risk even among the women who are at highest risk of the disease." 

Posted by Laura on December 26, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

December 25, 2008

Healthy Recipe: Cornish Game Hen with Wild Rice Mushroom Stuffing

Cornish-game-hen Want to serve an elegant entree that the kids will love, too? This healthy holiday recipe features Cornish Game Hens, which are easy to cook and - since they're similar to chicken - they're generally a crowd pleaser. For a time-saving tip, substitute microwavable wild rice.  If using dried mushrooms, try reconstituting in dry red wine for extra flavor.

Makes 8 servings

8 Cornish game hens (1 pound each)
Kosher salt
Cracked black pepper

Stuffing Ingredients

1 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, margerine
    (or basting mixture of 1/2 cup dry red wine and 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock)
3/4 cup finely chopped onions
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped fresh mushrooms (shiitake, morel, chanterelle, etc.)
3 cups cooked wild rice
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove and discard game hen necks and giblets; rinse and pat dry Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Stuffing Directions:

In a small bowl, soak porcini mushrooms in 1 cup of water for 25 minutes. Strain mushrooms and liquid through a coffee filter placed in a strainer over a bowl. Reserve liquid. Rinse and chop mushrooms; set aside.

In a large saute pan over medium heat, melt half the butter. When butter is foamy add onions, celery, and fresh and reserved mushrooms. Stir until onions are soft and translucent, about 8 minutes.

Add rice, herbs, salt, and pepper. Moisten slightly with about 3 Tbsp. reserved mushroom water, depending on dryness.

Melt remaining butter and set aside. Gently fill bird cavities with stuffing. Fold excess skin over opening and tie legs together.

Place hens, with ample space between them, on two 12" x 19" baking sheets. Brush hens generously with your choice of butter, margerine or the alternative wine/chicken stock basting mixture. Bake about 1 hour.

Hope you enjoy a healthy eating holiday!

Posted by Laura on December 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 24, 2008

Sharing Our Bounty

21108491_17522334 On this eve of Christmas, even those of us who don't celebrate the holiday are likely affected by it.  Here in the Northeast, we're hunkering down for another snowstorm, that's promised to turn to rain and blanket the gorgeous snow we have with an icy crust. Oh, well, that's winter in Vermont.

Fortunately, we've got a larder full to nourish ourselves with today and tomorrow as much of the world takes a holiday and the weather outside says, "Stay in!"  But many of us don't have the good fortune of a full larder on this day or any other day of the year.  Consider helping those who don't by contributing to your local food bank.  You can find the one nearest you at Feeding America.  

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Kwanzaa to all!

Posted by Marsha on December 24, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 23, 2008

Give Yourself a Little Holiday Slack!

Stimulus-small Hey, it's holiday tip time! I know, I know, enough already with the healthy tips to get through the holidays, right? We've read them all a hundred times.That being said, I thought I'd offer this one: Give yourself a break! (see how I did that with the colors?!)
Enjoy the holiday season for what it really is – a special time spent with loved ones.  We all have the tendency to over do and set our expectations over the moon.  Whether that means over-indulgence with food or too much focus on getting your workouts in, don’t forget what the holiday is supposed to be about.  A couple missed workouts, a piece of pecan pie or a toast made with Champagne never made anyone fat! 

And, since it's the season for giving, why not treat yourself to a healthy start to the new year. Read more about our Green Mountain Healthy Weight Stimulus Package on our website . We may not have much control over the economy these days, but we do have control over the most important commodity of all -our health! 

Happy Holidays!

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Posted by Cindy on December 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 22, 2008

Diabetes: American Idol Judge Randy Jackson Diabetes Webcast on Heart of Diabetes

The American Heart Association wants the public to "Get in the K.N.O.W." about type 2 diabetes with American Idol Judge Randy Jackson.  Below is a youtube video of Randy Jackson talking about his part in the campaign to raise awareness about the disease.

K.N.O.W stands for...

Keeping active and maintaining a healthy body weight.
A healthy body weight can reduce the risk for high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure, which are common risk factors for cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death among people with diabetes. Work with a healthcare provider to determine the level and type of exercise that’s right for you.
Normalizing your critical health numbers.
Schedule regular visits with your healthcare provider to help monitor your critical health numbers (blood sugar, blood pressure and blood cholesterol). By learning to carefully monitor and keep track of your numbers, you should be able to better manage the disease.
Opting for a healthy lifestyle.
Opt to make healthy, balanced food choices. Reducing your consumption of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars can help you manage your type 2 diabetes. Also, avoid tobacco smoke – people who have type 2 diabetes and smoke are three times more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than nonsmokers.
Working with a healthcare provider.
Speak openly and honestly with your healthcare provider and describe your symptoms. Your healthcare provider can help you develop a comprehensive treatment plan that will help you reach treatment goals and ultimately better manage your type 2 diabetes.

Together, the AHA past-president Dr. Daniel Jones and Jackson have published a webcast hoping to share more information about type 2 diabetes and diabetes management strategies. The type 2 diabetes webcast is available in audio or video formats on the iknowdiabetes.org website.

Posted by Laura on December 22, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 18, 2008

Healthy Recipes: Spiced Pecans - and Other Winning Recipes from Diabetes Daily

The folks at Diabetes Daily tested healthy recipes for diabetics in their kitchen for a week.
Spiced Pecans - from Diabetes Daily
First place recipe contest winner, by Diabetes Daily member Dobelady, was for a healthy holiday recipe called Spiced Pecans. Perfect for a party snack or even a gift!
Makes 12 servings
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water
3 cups of pecan halves
1/2 cup of Splenda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C). Line baking sheet with aluminum foil spray foil with a non stick cooking spray or use Silpat liner.

In a small bowl, beat the egg white and water until stiff peaks form. Stir in the pecans until well moistened.

In a small bowl mix Splenda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and mix into nut mixture. Spread nuts on prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, stirring at 10 minute intervals. Be careful not to over cook and burn the nuts. Let completely cool before tasting and enjoy!

Second Place was a healthy eating recipe disguised as a decadent and delicious treat called Blueberry Cheesecake Bars.
Third place was a satisfying vegetarian recipe called Matzoh Stuffed Vegetables.

Posted by Laura on December 18, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 17, 2008

Women's Weight Loss: 'Tis the Season to Be Kind

I had a wonderful interaction with a family member this morning.  Amazingly, it was echoed in my horoscope today on DailyOM, the site I've mentioned before that is often uncannily relevant to what's going on in my life.  Won't get into the generality of horoscopes -- I know they often can apply to anyone. But the words I get in a daily e-letter from DailyOM seem to go beyond that.

But to my real reason for even mentioning this. The horoscope talks about doing something for others with a 'kind and open heart.'  It brought to mind for me the need for women struggling with body image and healthy weight loss and maintenance to be kind to themselves.  Because once we begin to treat ourselves gently, we find we can treat others much more gently -- especially those with similar struggles. And when it comes to healthy lifestyle management, fitness and diet, there's a real need for gentle treatment.  

Of course, one of the things we're most tough on ourselves about during the holiday season is our desire to eat all the great treats of the season -- and our indulgence in doing it. So it bears repeating on this blog that is all about learning to take care of ourselves well, that indulgence is good for us in moderation.  So go ahead, indulge!  Here are a few tips from our article "Go Ahead, Indulge!" that talks about holiday overeating.

  • Feed yourself.
  • Be choosy.
  • Eat mindfully.
  • Cultivate a discriminating palate. 
  • Keep moving. 
  • Enjoy the season!  
For details on doing all that, read our Fitbriefing that defines healthy weight loss foods a bit differently.

Posted by Marsha on December 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack