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Calorie Counts Change Some Eating Habits

This past April, New York City mandated that chain restaurants must post calorie counts on their menu. Ever since they were posted, I’ve wondered if it has changed the way people eat. I know that, for myself, I’m much less likely to pick up a sweet snack to go with my tea from Starbucks when I can see how many empty calories I would consume if I ate it.

I took an informal poll of my coworkers to see if their eating habits have changed, and here’s what I discovered:

  • Most liked seeing the calorie counts of different foods
  • They also noted that they were more likely to go for a healthier option once they saw how many calories were in the more indulgent dish
  • One person noted that calorie counts give her the same reinforcement of good habits as a food diary – she makes better choices because she would be otherwise embarrassed to admit to herself that she ate too much or ate something unhealthy
  • A few people said that they sometimes worried about what other people in line or behind the counter would think of their eating habits if they ordered a pastry instead of a healthier choice

What about you? Have seeing the calorie counts changed the way you eat? If you’re not in New York or another city that posts calories on menus, how do you feel about your food choices when you know the calorie count or have it posted in front of you

Carpe Eat-em: the Omnivore’s hundred

Yesterday, I wrote about the 100 things you must do before you die. Today, we take a look at it from a delicious life perspective – that is, yes, eating and living healthfully but also enjoying life and all its deliciousness.

From Very Good Taste, here’s a list of 100 things an omnivore should eat in his/her life time. I have tried 76 out of 100 – everything that is in bold text:

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros

4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart

16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes

19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras

24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

How many have you tried?

Carpe Diem: your 100 things to do list

This week, Dave Freeman, the man who co-wrote the book “100 things to do before you die” has died after falling in his home. Though he was just 47, he reportedly had done everything that he had written about in the book. It’s a great reminder to seize the day and not put off what’s most important to you until “someday” because that someday may never come.

According to this list I’m doing pretty well for my young age – about halfway complete. Of course, this is not my own list, and there are some things I want to do that aren’t on it. Actually, I haven’t thought about my list in quite a while… I think it’s time to update it. I’ll publish in a future post.

What are among your 100 things? And are you actively working on completing your own list?

How to do a pull up

Recently, I did my first chin ups. It was the first time since I was a kid that I’ve done one, and I was thrilled to be able to do it again. I had a trainer that was trying to get me to do them a while ago, but I was not successful. But practicing on my own and using the technique that P90x teaches allowed me to finally do them. Here’s how I did it:

1. Building my upper body: Pull ups require a lot of upper body strength — many women don’t possess this naturally in the way that men do. I started building my upper body with weight machines like the lat pull down, rowing machines, and cables to build chest, back, shoulders, biceps and triceps. I also did a vigorous yoga program that includes sun salutations, side arm balance, crane, head stands/hand stands, and other upper body strengthening poses.

2. Easy does it: pull ups are hard enough as they are – so why go for the most difficult kind at first? I started by going for chin ups first – the grip (palms facing you) makes them a little easier to do than the standard pull ups (palms away). Also, it’s easier if you keep your grip standard – about shoulder distance apart. Wide or close grip pull ups can be more difficult and should be attempted when you are more advanced.

3. Getting support: When I worked with my trainer, he put me on a pull up bar and said, “OK, do a pull up.” Obviously that wasn’t going to happen – there was no way I could pull up all of my weight from hanging straight down with feet dangling in the air. I needed to decrease the amount of weight I was pulling. I learned that you can practice the pull up move by resting one or both feet on a chair and pulling up a portion of your weight. As I got stronger, I tried to just barely rest one foot on the chair while pulling up as much of my weight as I could handle. One day, I was able to one pullup. The next time, I tried for two, and I did it. As I get stronger, I see how many I can do. Right now, I’m up to 6 at one time without a chair.

Visualizing Your Success

Watching the Olympics last night, I noticed something that I had never noticed before. Many of the women about to compete in the hurdles competition were swinging their arms and seemed to be talking to themselves while they gazed down the track. What they were most likely doing was visualizing their race – running it in their minds before they physically ran it. And by doing so, they were seeing themselves winning by projecting success in their minds before the race.

Visualizing success this way is not new. Sports coaches do this regularly when they are coaching their teams. In one of his many interviews, Michael Phelps mentioned that his coach “taught him to use his imagination” – probably starting when he suggested to Phelps at age 11 that one day he would be on the Olympic swim team.

Many health, career and life coaches also teach their clients to imagine succeeding to make success a reality.  Self-improvement gurus often tell clients to “act as if” what they want to happen has already happened. The Secret is built on this premise – that by keeping a thought in your mind, you will attract that wish into your life.

Anyone can use this to succeed at whatever they want. The question is, why doesn’t everyone use visualization to attract everything that makes life delicious? Instead, so many of us project things that we don’t want – worrying about the future, or living in the past.

But it’s easy to turn things around – just start today by visualizing something that you really want and seeing yourself getting it. Imagine your new job in the most ideal work environment, surrounded by people that you like and appreciate. Imagine finding that significant other, and how wonderful and beautiful they are and how they make you feel. Imagine yourself in the best shape of your life and enjoying your strong, healthy body. The clearer your picture is of your goal, the more likely the chances you will achieve it. If you can see it, and stay focused on how you can achieve it, you will find and seize it when the opportunity arrives.

Olympic Diet

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh

I’m not really into sports, but I love watching the Olympics. The stamina, dedication and nearly flawless performances of these elite athletes is astonishing.  I’m inspired to work harder and take better care of myself watching their amazingly strong bodies compete in what looks like effortless competitions.

How do Olympians keep their energy up? Most of them follow regular healthy diets and get to sleep as early as they can to recharge. You can’t get into amazing shape and be able to compete at your best if you’re not taking good care of yourself. Here’s a great slideshow about the training and diet regimens of many of the top U.S. Olympians: How to get an Olympic body.

Michael Phelps’ regimen, on the other hand, isn’t necessarily the healthiest – he’s more focused on bulking up his caloric load to make sure that he has the energy to keep winning the gold metals.

Most healthy men consume about 2,000 calories a day; upping consumption to 12,000 calories a day would make any ordinary man obese. But for Phelps, he needs this staggering amount of calories just so that he can perform.

And another article about Phelps’ diet is here: Pasta and Pizza? That’s Phelps’ Gold Metal Secret?