Fast Food, Slow Death?

The all too familiar story: no time to cook, kids are late for soccer practice and McDonald's is on the way. Since it will not take more than a few minutes to shoot through the drive through we'll do the fast food stop. Or all too familiar story number 2: lunch hour at work and I need to pick up my dry cleaning, fill a prescription, and take the car to get gas and find time to eat. Sure enough Taco Bell is on the way and they have a drive through as well. These real life situations play out for all of us, millions of us, everyday. Since time has become one of our most precious commodities the sacrifice we make is often in our diet.

And yet it does not need to be this way. By following a few healthy practices you can still go to your favorite fast food chain and, 30 years from now, live to tell about it. The key is knowing what to select from the menu and balancing that meal with the rest of the day's food intake.

Choose Your Menu Items With Care

Choose a main dish item that is low in fat. As an example, when faced with the choice of a bacon cheeseburger or a regular hamburger, the regular hamburger wins every time. In the battle of the regular hamburger or the grilled chicken breast sandwich the chicken wins hands down. Why? Here's an example:

Wendy's Ultimate Chicken Grill Sandwich has 360 calories, 7 grams of fat, and 0 trans fat. Compare that to the Wendy's Big Bacon Classic which has 580 calories, 29 grams of fat and 1.5 grams of trans fat. Put either choice with a medium fry and you have added another 440 calories and another 21 grams of fat. Choose, instead, the Baked Potato with Sour Cream and Chive and you add 320 calories and 4 grams of fat – a better choice indeed.

Choose side salads and salad bar vegetables as these provide extra vitamins and add dietary fiber. In addition they fill you up without adding lots of extra calories. Be sure to use low fat or non-fat dressing or better yet, a simple vinaigrette dressing. More dietary fiber can be found in the choice of whole wheat or whole grain buns and rolls.

If your sweet tooth kicks in have fresh fruit or frozen yogurt. Or go for the reduced fat ice cream versus the shake. Again an example, this time from McDonald's: 16 oz. Triple Thick Vanilla Shake has 550 calories and 13 grams of fat. The Vanilla Reduced Fat Ice Cream Cone has 150 calories and only 3.5 grams of fat. Granted the lower calories alternative is not as decadent but it also will not clog your arteries by increasing your cholesterol intake and it will satisfy the sugar craving.

Watch Your Portion Size

Portion control is also a key element to successful fast food dining. Although many restaurants have discontinued the super size trend, most portions are simply more than we need to consume. These large portions look like real value when viewed in the monetary sense but when measured by way of their contribution to weight gain and its complications they are simply not worth it.

Choose the smallest size possible especially if you are having hamburgers or fried foods.

Share large or high items with someone else.

Eat half your order and take the rest home. Yes, I know we are provided to clean our plates because there are children starving in China. At least that's what many mothers over the years have been heard to say. The fact is being a member of the Clean Plate Club will also get you entry into the Fat Club, the High Cholesterol Club, and if your really fortify the Heart Disease Club.

Remember These 3 Key Points

1. Reduce total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium.
2. Increase intake of whole grains
3. Eat more fruits and vegetables

Fast food is one of the great innovations of the 20th century. Here in the 21st century we need to manage how we take advantage of its limitless access. To do so will maintain a balance between food as satisfying fuel that keeps our human engine running and toxic waste that will eventually lead to shorten life spans.

Can You Really Lose As Much Weight As a ‘Big Loser’ Each Week – And Would You Want To?

With shows like the Biggest Loser getting massive reviews and viewer numbers, clearly its hitting a chord with the general public. The show encourages massive weight loss on a weekly basis. How do we know how much is a reasonable amount of weight to lose? Is it true that you can only lose half a kilo per week. Let's take a look at what is realistic – and achievable – for you …

First off, is it really possible to drop fat as quickly as the contestants on The Biggest Loser? Can the man on the street (or you :) take these kind of losses without a team of trainers, nutritionists and camera men following their every move? Or are the massive and speedy losses on the show nothing more than clever marketing and a not-so-subtublic manipulation of the viewer?

I did a little research to find out just how much weight some of our contestants have stacked up. At the time of my research the show was airing Week 11. Here's a summary of total weight loss for the final four contestants at that time:

Sam: just over 40kg (88 pounds)
Cosi: close to 48kg (105.6 pounds)
Alison: around 36kg (79.2 pounds)
Gary: close to 59kg (129.8 pounds)

The weekly weight loss (divided by 11 just to keep it simple, although obviously they would have lost different amounts each week) is shown here:

Sam: 3.63 kg p / week (7.9 pounds)
Cosi: 4.36 kg p / week (9.6 pounds)
Alison: 3.27 kg p / week (7.2 pounds)
Gary: 5.36 kg p / week (11.8 pounds)

Just in case you're interested, this averages out at a body weight percentage loss of around 2.8 weekly. If you matched this to the 'average' 70kg woman, that would equate to 1.96kg per week, and for a 90kg man it would be around 2.66kg per week.

Does not sound like too much, really, does it? I'm sure many readers out there would be thrilled to lose this amount of weight each week, and not necessarily consider it extreme.

But let's think about that. In my experience most of you have heard over and over that healthy weight loss is around 0.5-1kg per week. In fact, every health expert, resource or study I've mentioned that a 'healthy' (as in mainly fat, and sustainable) amount of weight loss is just that – around half a kilo per week for women, and 1 kilo for men. Extremely overweight people are said to be able to lose 1.5 kg per week.

If we take this as a gospel (for now), then clearly the BL contestants are losing weight much faster than they should be in order to keep it off. According to Anne Collins, fat loss expert extraordinaire,

'When we lose weight we do not just lose fat. We lose a combination of body fat, and muscle tissue. Studies show that when we diet, the weight we lose is on average 75 percent fat and 25 percent muscle. (Also) remember water accounts for about 70 percent of the total body weight of an average person, with muscle tissue containing roughly 75 percent water (plus 20 percent protein and 5 percent minerals), and body fat containing roughly 50 percent water. '

How is this relevant?

When you lose weight quickly, your body will shed muscle and water before it lets go of fat stores. This is because your body views rapid weight loss as a threat to your survival – your physiology assumes that you must be low on resources (food), or on the run. Why else would you starve or over-exercise yourself?

In order to preserve life (yours!) Your very intelligent body gets rid of the less important stuff – like muscle. Yep, that's the metabolism boosting stuff in case you forgot. After all, fat stores will keep you alive for longer.

So the long and short of it is that losing weight too quickly will not only mean you lose muscle and water over fat, but you will also (at least semi) permanently lower your resting metabolic rate, meaning that the same amount of food you used to eat will cause you to gain more weight.

This is where the concept of the 'yo-yo effect' comes in to play – the idea (reality) that most diets result in a bounce-back effect that leaves the sorry soul in question more overweight than when they started.

NOT good.

But that's not really the full story. Here's where it gets even more confusing (or interesting, for the thinkers among you).

o If your body is under a lot of stress, you can not safely lose weight. Basically, your body will not allow you to. This is because stress is a threat to your survival – and your body can not distinguish between our modern day stress of a demanding job or unsettled relationship, and the stress of a threat on your life. Therefore, your body views all stress as a threat to your survival – and attempts to give you a fighting chance by keeping a protective layer of fat that will not go away regardless of what you eat or how you exercise.

o According to William W. Wolcott, author of The Metabolic Typing Diet, 'It is not uncommon for people to gain weight in response to stress. Weight gain literally represents a protective layer, an insulator, against the pain and suffering of the stress. In such cases, diet, nutrition, and exercise are powerless to resolve the problem '. Solution: put steps into place to detoxify stress. This includes eating correctly, but also taking time out.

o Ironically, cutting back calories to an extreme or doing high amounts of cardio exercise can also prevent you losing weight.

o Even if you are losing weight at the 'safe' rate of, you will still find your lean muscle mass decreases to some extent. In the long run this means you will lower your metabolism and possibly gain weight back. The only way to counteract this is to perform resistance exercise. I'd recommend at least 1-2 half hour sessions per week, for maintenance, or more if you're looking to gain a significant amount of muscle.

o A final spark of hope – Over the years I have known clients to 'lean up' in an incredibly fast manner. Without losing a significant amount of muscle – and I'm not just talking abut extremely overweight people. I'm going to finish this article with my hot tips for maximizing weight loss from fat.

MAXIMISE YOUR FAT LOSS

1. Eat correctly. Trust me on this – pill popping is NOT how the human body achieves true health and weight loss. Choose natural, minimally processed sources of carbohydrates, fat and protein.

2. Sleep correctly. Numerous studies have shown that building up a sleep debt will result in rampant stress hormones that cause your body to store fat. Regardless of how you eat or exercise. I've written many articles on the topic myself.

3. Think correctly. I do not care how 'airy fairy' this sounds – your thoughts do have power. If you believe and tell yourself that you can not lose weight, you WILL NOT lose weight. Positive thinking on its own may not cut it, but it sure is not going to hurt. Build confidence and promote positive action by telling yourself that you can and will improve your health and weight.

4. Reduce stress. We've spoken about how stress hormones cause you to store fat. If you really can not change your lifestyle, put steps into place to relax and recuperate. Using your one free hour pounding the treadmill is not always the best option. But ask yourself this. Can you REALLY not change your lifestyle? If your life depended on it I bet you would walk out of the job, relationship, situation or whatever it might be. Guess what? Your life does depend on it.

I guess when all is said and done, the rapid weight loss of Biggest Loser contestants may not be possible or ideal for most people. This next I believe the show does a brilliant job of inspiring people to reach, to fight, to do whatever it takes to achieve their dreams. I think if you asked them, the BL contestants would tell you that they had definitely been living life.

How 'bout you?

Life is Now. Press Play.

Conspiring Against an Employee

Some of us are happy with the job we have and are content with or even love what we do. Some of us are not happy with our job and it frustrates us the more we perform at work. Whether you like your job or not you primarily work for a paycheck. When conditions at work are so stressful that you find it difficult to work for your paycheck you might want to consider your work environment situation.

In some cases, employees are victims of conspiracies in the workplace. It may sound like something out of a workplace drama series, but it is a common deterrent of progress and ultimately a very unprofessional practice in the workplace.

We can pretend that drama doe not exist at work, but the truth is work is run by people. It is part of the human condition to play favorites and disrespect others. When this sort of unprofessionalism arises in an employer or employee, there is a great chance that he or she will attempt to gather additional employees on his or her side to rally against another employee in secret. This is a conspiracy.

Harassment

A conspiracy against an employee is almost always used to harass. Harassment is any conduct that will lead to the victim to feel unsafe, threatened, persecuted, or distressed. When an employer brings employees together to play a harmful role against an employee, he or she has a personal feud against that individual. This may be due to race, religion, gender, appearance, or anything that he or she does not like about that individual.

Harassment is used as a tool to single someone out and make them feel unwanted or embarrassed in the workplace. An employee may feel that he or she is underperforming at work and that his or her opinions are not of value.

Coercion

Most people who would like to see someone leave the workplace that know there are not sufficient grounds to fire him or her, will coerce the employee into resigning by use of conspiring. If someone starts to feel an incredible amount of stress at work and unwanted, he or she will more than likely resign. This is one of the main goals employers and employees try to achieve when conspiring against an employee.

For additional resources on conspiring in the workplace and legal avenues available for victims, contact the Houston employment lawyers of the Ross Law Group.

Preparing Your Motorcycle For the Winter

So here we are in October, and the overnight and morning hours are a little chilly here in the Northeast of the US. What does this mean? Winter is coming of course, and seems to be coming fast. Most days are now starting out in the low 40's, getting up to maybe the high 50's / low 60's, and then dropping down again into the low 40's overnight.

So, what are you to do if you're not planning on riding through the cold, winter months? You need to prepare your motorcycle and winterize it. There are a few steps you should definitely do to keep your motorcycle safe and warm through those frigid months.

  1. Get the gasoline out of your engine – How do you do that? Start up your motorcycle with the petcock to 'on' and let your bike run for a few minutes. After your motorcycle is idling just fine, flip the petcock to off and let the engine do it's thing by cycling through any fuel that is left in the lines. You'll know as soon as the fuel is out of the engine, as the motorcycle will just stop running (like it stalled). It's OK if you leave some fuel in the tank as it should not cause any damage. But leaving it in your engine could cause serious damage to your motorcycle.
  2. Get a battery tender - A battery tender will keep your motorcycle battery charged throughout the winter so that when you're ready to fire her up, you will not be left with a dead battery. Battery tenders are fairly inexpensive and can be picked up at your local motorcycle shop or order one online.
  3. Clean your motorcycle – you do not want to store your motorcycle for long periods of time with dirt, grime, tar, grease, bugs, etc. all over your bike. Not only is this bad for the paint and chrome, but it's just not right to treat your baby so badly. Clean her up before she takes that long winter's nap. My motorcycle is actually cleaned after every ride. It's only right that my girl be taken care of and treated well through the year.
  4. Find a good spot – Your motorcycle is going to be resting for the next few months, so make sure you find a good location for the winter. The best location would be an attached garage, the next would be an outdoor storage building, and the least favorite would be outside in the elements. The winter elements can do some serious damage if not carefully watched, so I'd recommend making sure your motorcycle is stored in an area that is enclosed. My motorcycle is always stored in my attached garage, and kept in a prime location so as not to get bumped or something dropped on her.
  5. Get a motorcycle cover – just because your motorcycle may be stored in an enclosed area, does not mean you should not further protect her. You can get a cover for as little as $ 20 or as much as $ 100. A motorcycle cover will make sure no additional dirt or dust gets on your bike, and will also help protect any unfortunate bumps or dings. I can not speak for bugs, as they'll find their way into any warm place during the colder months.
  6. Start her up when you can – If there's a decent winter day, sun shinning, and not terribly cold, go ahead and fire up your motorcycle. Let her run for a while, she'll thank you in the spring. Just remember to follow all the steps above to ensure you put your motocycle back to rest properly.