Monthly Archives: September 2007

How to select and prepare winter squash


Tomorrow marks the first day of October, a sure sign that summer is long gone and winter is fast approaching. Another sign is the sudden abundance of winter squash at our local farmer’s market. The array of choices are mind boggling: butternut, acorn, hubbard, calabaza, sweet mama, the iconic pumpkin… I turn to the interwebs to demystify the choices:

  • Foodsubs has a comprehensive list of winter squash in pictures
  • To compliment the above, Whole Paycheck offers a winter squash cooking primer
  • The World’s Healthiest foods website has a nifty animated gif that shows you how to peel and cube butternut squash
  • One of the nicest way to enjoy squash is pureed into a soup. The best recipe I’ve found so far is Choclate & Zucchini’s Spiced pumkin soup (Soupe De Courge Musquée Aux Epices)

Squash soup and a pile o' moleskins

Now get cookin’.

How to write down your goals

The interweb is full of countless blogs and articles on happiness and productivity. Are we actually getting more done or just just reading more about it?

That’s why I like this post from the enviously-named Mr Wang: it’s about taking action, a major stumbling point for SmarterFitter wannabes. Mr. Wang’s method of goal-writing is designed so that you not only fine-tune what your goals are, but “program” your brain to achieve those goals.

The idea is: spend 15 minutes a day, every day, writing down your goals, stream of thought style. Through repetition, the goals that matter most will become ingrained into your subconscious mind and as a result, you will be more apt to take action to achieving those goals.

He takes a karmic approach to goal setting. That is, once you’ve convinced yourself that want something, life will work out a way to make that something happen for you. This is a little new agey for my tastes, but then again, if setting goals is all about having dreams, why not live in the clouds?

Link (via Lifehacker)

Sports, body type, and physics

There’s a reason why elite rowers tend to be big and muscular, while elite runners are small and light. It all boils down to physics. This article in the NYTimes explains:

At first glance, a big rower … may seem to be at a disadvantage trying to row hard enough to push a boat through the water. But because water buoys the boat, weight becomes less of an issue compared with the enormous benefits of having strong muscles.

Their bigger muscles allow bigger people to use more oxygen, giving them more power. It’s like having a bigger motor, Dr. Secher said. Bigger muscles, with their larger cross-section, also are stronger. And bigger muscles can store more glycogen, their fuel for short intense spurts.

Running, on the other hand, requires lifting the body off the ground, which is easier if you’re small.

Such is not the case forDr. Michael Joyner, an exercise researcher and marathon runner whose 6-foot-5, 175 pound frame is “too big to be great”. This I don’t understand – he still managed a 2 hour 25 minute marathon. What the hell does this guy want? A medal? I guess so.


How do you track your progress?

A sure fire way to succeed at anything is to track your progress. The Seinfeldian Chain is great because it simplifies this process to a single click of the mouse. But some goals are more complicated, especially those related to diet and fitness.

fitSugar has a post on counting calories, and hoards of commenters have posted their favorite calorie tracking websites. sparkpeople is a favorite, as is fit-day. it’s interesting to read what people like about the software:

I LOVE SparkPeople for their calorie-tracking journal and customized meal plans. They also create strength training plans and have a large support system.

Try It’s free and easy to use. You can choose the foods you eat from a data bank, or enter your own custom foods. It also tracks your nutrition, exercise, and weight loss goals. Did I mention it’s FREE?! I’ve been using it for about a year and a half and I love it.

I used to use, but I recently found and I like it better. Its very similar, but it separates your food into meals and saves your favorite meal choices, so its easy to re-enter things that you eat on a daily basis. Oh, and the best part it that is also FREE!!! It has all the restaurants on here you could think of! is such a great site for tracking- it has the nutritional info for SO many foods, even generic grocery store items, and you can easily manipulate the serving size to fit what you actually consumed…It’s been great for me just to see what kind of variety I am (or am not) getting.

It’s also interesting to read the challenges:

I used for just a few months and lost several pounds. The only thing that is difficult is if you’re eating out at restaurants for a lot of meals, it is difficult to keep track of everything you are eating. I found that calorie-counting kept me eating at home a lot, which is good for the pocketbook too I guess.

I don’t know how to do this because I don’t know portion sizes.

What about you? Do you track your progress? If so, how? What motivates you to keep it up? And what keeps you down?


Free exercise music mixes for your iPod

Surfing about at the iTunes Music Store I came across the FitPod mixes… electronica coming in around 120bmp to keep you moving during your workout.

I’m a partial to spoken word, the BBC and some US public radio sources have great content, during my workouts but this will be great for those days I just can’t handle the truth*.

Now playing: Bampot Bootymover ~ 120 bpm


* Or the liberal MSM, Great Conspiracy, government and Illuminati approved versions of it 😉

Fat blocking drug seems like a hard way to lose weight

Alli is a over-the-counter drug available in the USA. It prevents the body from digesting fat in food. Sounds great right? The Guardian has a great article on the drawbacks as the drug approaches its release in Europe.

Alli – so called because its manufacturer says it requires an alliance of a low-fat diet and exercise to be effective – is a pill that is usually taken three times a day with each fat-containing meal. It works by blocking lipase, which breaks down fats in the gut, preventing your body from absorbing about a third of the fat you eat. And because you can’t absorb undigested fats, they pass straight through your body. It is this action that leads to Alli’s unpleasant side-effects.

The unpleasant side-effects include “uh oh, pizza oil on the back of my pants!!! Totally unexpected – no warning it was happening”. Ewwwww! Gross!

If you’re suppose to eat a low fat diet and do some exercise for the drug to be effective then why not just be a bit more patient and then you wont have to carry that change of underwear and trousers around with you or wear the recommended dark trousers.

Stuff like this is just broken…


What to do with keys when you run

Whenever I go for a run or a walk in the park I’ll pass someone or be passed by someone who is jangling loudly running with a pocketfull of keys. Both the sound and the shifting weight of the keys would drive me crazy.

Stop the madness!

I use my trusty and free wrist wallet which holds my keys and a £10 note tightly and silently to my wrist.

I got mine free from the excellent RunnersNeed in Camden. It looks like they charge about £8 now…

Link to RunnersNeed

Link to something similar at Amazon

Intolerance, allergy, or just a fad?

Is it just me or does it seem like everyone has suddenly become wheat intolerant?

A recent survey found that 12 million people in Britain believe they have a food intolerance, but less than a quarter of them have been formally diagnosed. It begs the question: do people even know what “food intolerance” really means?

The Belfast Telegraph thinks not. Today’s issue features an educational article on food intolerance, covering causes, symptoms, cures, and some common trigger foods.

The article also discusses the wheat-intolerance ‘fad’.

Though many people identify wheat as a trigger for symptoms including fatigue, breathlessness, general malaise, bloating, wind, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, weight loss and skin problems. One solution might be a wheat-free diet, though many experts say this is unnecessary and that wheat only appears to cause symptoms because it is hard to digest in the large amounts that exist in the Western diet.


Only 4% of Britons find exercise “fun”

So say the results of a recent survey by the British Heart Foundation. The survey also shows that

  • One in seven (15%) Brits would exercise more if the weather was better.
  • While 8% of women said that doing vigorous housework was their favourite form of exercise, only 1% of men agreed.
  • 17% of women said their main reason for exercising was to keep their figure but only 7% of men said their shape was their main motivator.
  • Men were more concerned about their heart health, with 13% saying it was their main reason for exercising. Only 7% of women saw heart health as a major motivator.

Unsurprisingly, people see exercise as, well, exercise, a word which by definition implies exertion – a task which many of us find to be a chore. And what fun are chores?

Here’s my question: Is it possible to be active without “exercise”? That is, can we eliminate the need for exercise by simply being active in the way we live life? Or does the desk-lunch, fast-car society necessitate exercise?

I’ve been working on this in my own personal life: I started by buying a bike, then I quit the gym. Now I cycle and walk as much as possible, but I still don’t feel like this adequately compensates for the 8 hours a day I spend sitting in an office chair. So I swim in the mornings. And while I do it because I like it, it still sometimes feels like exercise. I can’t always detatch myself from the feeling that I need to swim to compensate for my inactive job, rather than I want to swim because I genuinely enjoy it. After all, swimming is fun.

What about your exercise? Are you having fun yet?
Link (via diet-blog)