Monthly Archives: August 2011

Operation Suit Squeeze — Day 2

First of all, Operation Suit Squeeze will be shortened to OSS from now on. I don’t want to write it out every time. Additionally, this is a long post. Sorry. Just some necessary background info in this one.

Day one was okay. Woke up, then played a little fetch and chase at the dog park with the labradile. Fetch and chase is our primitive version of fetch where Olive will go get the object, come back halfway, and then make me chase her. It’s a nice little mini-workout, but I look forward to just being able to throw a ball.

After the dog park, the girlfriend and I went for a run(!). I hate running. I’ve been avoiding it all summer. But I can’t go to the student facilities anymore (stupid graduation) and I don’t have money for a gym membership. So I’m kind of out of options. My hatred of running stems straight from my genetics. Baldaufs do not run. It’s a fact of life.

This is a representation of a Baldauf running. Notice the flailing. I couldn't actually find a picture of any of us running, hence the representation. Also, it's my brother! The skinny one.

When I ran track in high school, this was brought up at many family outings. Turns out, I didn’t really run track so much either. One time, I lost a 100m dash by 15 meters. Another time, I ran 300m hurdles (my coach really didn’t know what to do with me) and I ended up doing the last 10 meters like a gorilla. Unintentionally of course. (For the record, I did make it to state for the 4×400 relay. As an alternate. I usually leave that part out). But us Baldaufs generally run like we’re hauling something behind us. Lot of motion, very little distance covered. Except my dad, whose sprint is really just an accelerated trot.

Additionally, I am allergic to running. Seriously. For reals. (It’s a serious problem, okay!?!) Every track season, I got sick. Any time I run, I phlegm up. For those of you with a weak stomach or about to eat, you might want to skip ahead a bit. I run, and my entire throat becomes clogged. I can’t breathe. I spend my entire run making that god-awful phlegm clearing noise (those of you who know phlegmy people know what I’m talking about). Needless to say, this really screws with my breathing.

Anyways, we ran almost 2 miles and walked the last mile. Not a great start, but it’s a work in progress. I was feeling pretty tight. Got home, ate a fried egg, ham, and cheese sandwich. And that was it for brunch. Ate a handful of walnuts and banana chips later in the day for a snack.

Dinner is where I ran into trouble, though. The girlfriend’s sister (and Shane vs Genetics follower Keighley–shoutout) was in town and there wasn’t time to cook dinner, so we went out. We ate at State Street Brats, where I work, and I ate WAY too much. Classic example of overeating. I’ll chalk it up as an exception due to the lack of time to cook dinner, but I do need to work on my eating habits when I eat out. I did hold out against ice cream, minus a couple of small bites from the girlfriend’s. So the ban on sweets is safe.

Day 2 sucked. A lot. I woke up, ate a yogurt, and went to work. Worst. Shift. Ever. People need to tip!!!! (Which is only a small fraction of the worst shift problems). I brought some trail mix stuff to snack on at work and some gum in an attempt to avoid grazing all day on the rogue fries or popcorn that has gotten the better of me all summer. Only managed to eat a mouthful of trail mix though, and then we were too busy to worry about eating. Had a couple of handfuls of popcorn at the end of the shift, but avoided the temptation of an arnold palmer or root beer. I’m a serious stress-eater or frustrated eater, caving in to unhealthy foods every time. Successfully avoided those today, which was no small feat.

Dinner was pork chops with a grilled-peach/ginger chutneyand a piece of bread.

It's not very much.

Got it off eatingwell.com (good site). Tasty, but I should have made a veggie side to go with it. Pretty hungry now. (Can’t lose weight without being hungry, right?) Hanging in there, though. Running in the morning. Fighting the chocolate bar that’s staring at me across the room. Hopefully the sweets ban is still in place by tomorrow.

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The Vegetarian Adventure, Part 4

Week 3 of The Adventures of Shane in Veggie Land. Which is confusing with it being Part 4 up above. Might have to change that up.

This week, went with a bell pepper stir fry from “flavorfull” again. Branching out next week. We decided to go with this recipe because it claimed to be very easy, we like peppers a lot, and we had basil to use up. (We refers to me and the girlfriend, in case you’re new to this. I’m not just crazy like that.) I had to buy a lot of the ingredients like soy sauce, rice vinegar, and coconut oil, but they’re the kind of things that won’t go bad and can be used in a lot of different stuff.

Things didn’t start out well. Every time we’re having a meal involving rice, I forget that it takes about an hour to cook. So we were pretty hungry when I decide to start cooking, aaaaand then remembered the rice. I used the time the rice was cooking to cut everything up and get it ready to cook, however, and it worked out pretty well. Until a burning smell started to fill the apartment.

Turns out, I forgot to turn the heat down on the rice enough. So it wasn’t so much simmering and still full-on boiling. The water ran out and we had a bit of a burned rice issue, but I managed to save most of it. Just threw some more water in and put the heat at the correct temp. I still hate cooking rice.

The rest of the meal was really easy. Just a matter of putting stuff in at the right time and keeping an eye on the temperature (haven’t quite fine tuned my control of the gas stove yet). I’ve cooked quite a bit over the last year, but I’ve found that I’m really enjoying the cooking part of this blog. I’m learning new stuff every week, especially with these vegetarian meals. Useful stuff.

Yummy

Everything turned out great. Very tasty. My only problem with it–not that filling. I had to eat a some walnuts and banana chips before I left for work to try to hold me over. This has been a lot easier than I expected. Might have to get crazy soon and step away from the bell peppers.

UPDATE: Almost forgot! I had never had ginger before this (that I know of). Turns out–I ****ing LOVE ginger.

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Weekly Progress Report #5 — Already?

It’s really already been 5 weeks? I don’t feel good about that. I know moving got in the way for awhile, but I really don’t feel like I’ve accomplished much in the way of losing weight/getting healthier. Drastic changes coming tomorrow though with Operation Suit Squeeze.

Eating: Even though I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished much, I would say I’ve made a lot of progress in terms of eating. Kind of enjoying the vegetarian meals. I think I’ve been eating less for the most part. Less overeating too. Just not seeing much yet.

So this week we had a basic turkey/colby cheese sandwich, lasagna roll-ups, and a vegetarian curry (for more info check out the vegetarian adventure–it’ll be up soon if you’re on top of things). The lasagna roll-ups aren’t particularly healthy, but we were able to make them without having to buy too much. And they’re delicious. But, of course, I forgot to take a picture of them so you’ll just have to imagine. Plus there were enough leftovers for me to eat them three nights in a row. All in all, pretty good week. Nothing too fancy. No overeating. With one exception.

Went to the Brewer game friday (Cubs suck!) and pigged out. Special occasion, so no problems. Have to be able to cut loose once in a while. Though I did just remember that we bought some organic (and gluten-free) oreos and ate a lot of them. REMEMBER: ORGANIC COOKIES ARE STILL NOT HEALTHY! (Unfortunately. Sorry for yelling.)

Grade: B-

Working Out: Honestly, working out continues to be my downfall–and probably the reason for my lack of progress. I played tennis once with my brother. Ran with the dog for a little while once. She still struggles to get the whole running thing versus stopping and smelling everything. But that’s it. And that’s a problem.

Grade: D

Mitigating Factors:

  1. None really. I need to stop being lazy.

This Week’s Plan: Consistent workouts start tomorrow. Yay for running! (Blech.) Keeping up the momentum with eating but cutting out more sweets.

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Operation Suit Squeeze

So here’s the situation. Last year, I cashed in my birthday and Christmas presents from my parents for a nice suit. My first and only suit. I needed it for medical school interviews.

Fast forward a year. I just finished all of my secondaries. Round two of interviews are coming up. Aaaand my suit doesn’t quite fit anymore. Awesome.

I know what you’re thinking–take the suit in and have them do some alterations. As I have nooo money, I’m going to try to avoid that. (Plus it makes for good motivation to get into better shape). The vest and coat fit okay still. The coat’s a little tight across the shoulders, but it’s more of a comfort thing than anything else. Besides, I don’t really think I can de-broaden my shoulders. I’ll alter it down the road.

The pants are the problem. Can’t get ’em on. At all. I need to lose at least a half inch off my waist. Maybe a full inch if I want to breath comfortably for the whole interview. So the time has come for drastic measure. I’m talking set-in-stone workout routine. Smarter eating. A complete ban on sweets (like I said, drastic measures).

I figure I’ve got 4-8 weeks before I really have to worry about interviews. The plans will get hammered out over the weekend. Everything will be chronicled under the Operation Suit Squeeze category. I’m going to breakdown what kind of things I need to look out for and avoid, how I’m going to eat, and what I’m doing to work out.

This better work. I’d really like to breathe during interviews.

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Weekly Links #4 — Obesity and Another Excuse for Eating all the Cookies

It’s Thursday. Time for weekly links! Only three links this week, because I we’re getting heavy on some stuff. Sorry for the lack of posts this week. There’s a big one coming tomorrow morning and the vegetarian adventure has been postponed to saturday this week. Hang in there. I know you’re excited.

1. “Fat People Are Not Our Enemy” This article talks about a lot of things. It’s main point is that we need to stop hating on ‘fat’ people, citing an article that found overweight people to be just as healthy as their skinny counterparts. A couple things here, from me. First, being a little bit overweight is not necessarily a bad thing. Having a little bit of fat can help the body be more resilient, help it survive difficult times. That is not an endorsement to gain weight, though!

Second, and I agree with the article on this, BMI is a terrible way to measure obesity. The nice thing about BMI is that it is easy to calculate. Therefore, it’s very useful to get a general idea on the population from a public health standpoint. However, easy to calculate also means a lot of error. For example, when I was in some of the best shape of my life during high school, calculating BMI put me at the border of overweight and obese. I most definitely was not! BMI oversimplifies and it doesn’t take into account muscle mass, instead using a simple height vs weight set-up. However, the article claims that our reliance on BMI has changed what we consider healthy. I would disagree with that.

How many people do you know judge health based on BMI (minus healthcare workers)? I’m going to guess not many. Most people can tell the difference between an obese person, someone who is an unhealthy level of overweight, and someone who is maybe overweight but still healthy. Maybe the war on fat has gone too far. Discrimination is never a good thing. But I would not say that science thinks being too heavy is good for you, as the article concludes.

2. “Obesity in America: How the Social Norm on Weight Has Shifted” In sticking with the obesity discussion, this article talks about people’s views on obesity. Most interesting for me was the high numbers of people who skew themselves downward on the obesity scale. (Note: I don’t know if they used BMI or not for the polls). Also, science in this one claims that up to 80% of chronic diseases can be linked to weight. I can understand people’s confusion with science. I’m going to guess the number in actuality comes in below 80%, but I’m also going to believe this side of things a little more than the claim that heavy is good.

Anyways, I love that this article emphasizes the need for bottom-up change. Being honest, I don’t put much hope in top-down change these days. Too much stupid bickering and partisanship for anything to get done. So any changes are going to have to come from below. The community example is nice, and it would be cool to see this pop up in other places too. Good article all around.

3.“Westerners ‘programmed to eat junk food'” Back to busting DNA articles! I’m not arguing with the study. It’s very possible, especially the survival side of things. BUT, the title again! I’ve found that titles tend to be very sensationalist since I’ve started this blog, usually exaggerating the actual claims in the article. Yes, westerners may crave foods that are less healthy due to genetic heritage. But it doesn’t MAKE people eat the unhealthy foods. I crave sugary foods. Constantly. Terrible sweet tooth. Is this because of my ‘switch’? Maybe, but I don’t eat sugary foods all the time. There’s this useful thing called consciousness which allows me to choose what I do and don’t eat. The article doesn’t touch on this at all, mostly just quoting the scientists. Who, I should add, go no further than mentioning that it could control craving and explaining it’s origin. Not saying we are programmed to eat junk food. Saying we might have a genetic based desire for junk food. Programmed is a very different thing. Programmed to crave versus programmed to eat is also very different. Whew! I’m done now.

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The Weekly Progress Report #4 — Post-Moving

Mostly unpacked now, so I can settle back into a rhythm this coming week.

Eating: This week was kind of the opposite of last week. Didn’t start out great. Ate out a little bit too much at first, but it was convenient with the move. Once I got to the grocery store, things improved though…sorta. The vegetarian meal was very successful. The rest of the week was mostly just eating burgers that I had in an attempt to save some money. Content-wise, not a very good week. On the flip side, though, I did a good job of not overeating. For example, while eating out I chose to share three tacos with the girlfriend instead of getting the usual Frito Burrito Chimi (approximately 1 billion calories). So there is some progress.

Grade: C-

Working Out:Baby steps still. I did a couple of short jogs with the labradile, but she either gets tired or loses focus pretty quickly.

Do NOT be fooled by the cuteness. She will literally chew your face off, given the opportunity. (She is also double that size now)

Better than nothing, but not nearly enough for me. We’re getting there.

Grade: D

Mitigating Factors:

  1. Moving–Eating out was a little too convenient early in the week

Looking Forward: Big plans for this week. It starts tomorrow with a new jogging plan for the dog (expecting lots of improvement, but it relies on the girlfriend being alive before 9am, so we’ll see). Also, brand new series of posts coming! Get excited. They’re gonna be good. Guaranteed, or your money back.

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The Vegetarian Adventures, Part 3

First of all, pictures! Since I was unable to post it last week, here’s my epic fail of a curry.

The Epic Fail of a Curry. Notice the lack of curry-ness

Moving on then. It’s week 2 of the vegetarian adventures. I actually found a lot of different recipes this week, with a little help from my tweeps (twitter-peeps). I ended up using two recipes off of a great blog at flavorfullblog.blogspot.com. The first was a spicy orzo-stuffed pepper. Pretty easy to make, very tasty, no problems. I did, however, have a hard time shaking the feeling that some italian sausage mixed in there would have made them great. Sorry, it’s in my blood. I’m working on it. This takes time. The breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese helped me survive the lack of meat.

Stuffed Vegetarian Peppers

To go along with the stuffed peppers, I made caprese skewers. We had a bunch of small tomatoes from my grandparent’s garden to use up (I don’t know what kind of tomato. Bigger than grape. Smaller than the ones that go on sandwiches. Sorry for the lack of help. [The girlfriend believes they’re cherry tomatoes. But she doesn’t know tomatoes either. UPDATE: Google image seems to corroborate the cherry tomato claim.])

It was a little more time consuming than I expected. This caused me to let the balsamic vinegar cool too much, and it went kind of molasses on me. Whoops. The mozzarella was good though. Not sure I was a huge fan of the basil/balsamic vinegar combo though. Something just seemed a little too strong.

Oooo pretty!

And for bonus points, I just realized I didn’t eat any meat at all today. This is unprecedented. I feel kind of weird. Then again, I ate a donut and half a cinnamon roll. But I think I deserve credit for that as well. I resisted the urge to eat 1-5 more donuts. No easy feat with my sweet tooth.

Overall, very successful second vegetarian meal. Might go eat a cookie to reward myself. Baby steps.

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Weekly Links #3

It’s Thursday. And I’m actually doing my weekly links on time! So we’re going to celebrate with a long one. Of course, I’m behind on all my other posts for this week (they’re coming, I promise!). Didn’t have internet for awhile with the move.

So, I feel like I haven’t yet explained why I’m doing links every Thursday. Or more importantly, why a lot of them have to do with public health stuff. Part of it is that I’m very interested in public health and thinking about getting my MPH while I’m at med school. The other side of it is that public health ideas can have an influence on your life–by changing views, helping to understand how things work, or just for the general advice. Anyways, on to the articles!

1. “Why is it so Difficult for Doctors to Stay on Time?” A couple of weeks ago in my links, I posted an article talking about doctors running behind and what the patient can do about it. This is a great follow-up piece from a doctor’s perspective. I like how it shows the tension between trying to stay on time and giving each patient as much time as they need. I definitely saw this issue at the community health center where I spent some time. We were always behind, and it was solely due to making sure each patient had their questions or concerns satisfied (within reason).

2. “Do Calories Really Count?” Loved this article. And it certainly fits in with the Michael Pollan school of thinking on food. I think the best takeaway from this article is the statement about the body being a chemistry lab instead of a bank. All calories are not equal. Sound advice.

3. “New Drug Could Cure Nearly Any Viral Infection” This is just pretty cool. I’m interested to see what this could lead to.

4. “A Prescription for Fear” Fantastic article comparing WebMD and Mayo Clinics websites. I’ve thought for a long time that WebMD might be doing more harm than good (saving the explanation for a longer post in the future), but this article from the NY Times exposes just what’s wrong with it–namely, pharmaceutical backing. Something to keep in mind next time you’re checking stuff out online about your health.

5. “Just 15 Minutes of Exercise a Day Could Add Years to Your Life” Just doing anything can help! No excuses about not having enough time.

6. “Will a Healthy Lifestyle Prevent Illness” This is an article that is kind of against what I’m about. It’s not off-base, but I think it goes too far. Yes, auto-immune disorders and a number of other health problems ignores a healthy lifestyle. But just because there is no guarantees that a healthy lifestyle will improve many things doesn’t mean that it’s not worth it (which the article doesn’t claim, but argues strongly enough that I would consider it implied). Yes, ancestry and luck are a factor. But it is foolish to undercut the way a person lives as a factor. It might not be guaranteed, but I can guarantee that the risks are high without a healthy lifestyle.

7. “Genetics and Obesity” I’ll let this article finish off my argument. I love the end. “Genetics is Not Destiny”. Thank you! I also really enjoy the line about dealing with the genetic hand you are dealt.

If you find any interesting articles or suggestions, please(!) send them to me!

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The Weekly Progress Report #3 — Moving Week

I am finally moved. Which is also why this post is a day later than normal. Still without internet at the new house so I might be running behind all week.

Eating: Not a bad start to the week. Made some pasta with peppers, mushrooms and onions. Also cut the amount of meat that I usually use for pasta (progress!). I took pictures with my phone to include this week, but now my phone won’t connect to my computer. Maybe next week I can get some in. I made a sausage and mushroom pizza the next day, probably with more cheese than is healthy. Then…the accidental vegetarian meal! If you didn’t read about it, you can find the link here. After that, moving took over and it became a eat-everything-that’s-left-so-we-don’t-have-to-move-it kind of situation. Which lent itself to a nice egg, potato, and cheese scrambler. Other than that it was a combination of eating out and (organic) lucky charms mostly. Not a great finish.

Grade: B-

Working Out: Not much to report here again. Trying to clean the side of the fridge was an intense arm/hand workout (yay). Moved/cleaned for about 20 hours straight. Give me a break, it’s close to working out and it’s all I’ve got. Survey says….COUNTS!

Grade: D- (generous I know)

Mitigating Factors:

  1. Moving–Took up most of my free time and created an incentive to eat all the unhealthy food left and eat out.
  2. Moving–Took A LOT of time
  3. Moving–Did I mention that I hate moving

This Week’s Plan!: There’s a lot of unpacking to do still ( :p ), so working out doesn’t look great. But the new place is close to some good running trails, tennis courts, and the dog park. So I’m going to try to run or play tennis and run around with the labradile (part lab, part crocodile–pics soon, I promise!). Eating at this point is mostly an exercise in not eating very much (probably a good thing for me) until everything is unpacked and a grocery run can be made. Got to try for another vegetarian meal. We’ll see how that goes (have to pace myself). Eating/working out plan evaluations to come soon.

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The Media, Genetic Fatalism, and Why It’s Wrong

This week, three articles came out dealing with genetics. These articles deal with the heart of Shane vs. Genetics–are genetics an end-all. Here are the links:

Two of the articles are referencing the same study, but the articles are portrayed in a similar manner.

First, let’s look at the titles. All three make broad implications simply with their headlines. “Even the Long-Lived…” makes it seem like leading a healthy lifestyle has no bearing on how long someone lives. “104-year Old ‘Super Ager’…” references genetics right in the headline, attributing her old age to her genes. “Study: People May Be…” is talking about math instead, but also links math abilities to genetics. If anyone was to look at just the headlines, or skim the articles, the takeaway would be that genetics is of singular importance.

Now, let’s focus on the old age articles. I am not trying to dispute the study that the articles are based on. In fact, I’m sure there are people out there that lucked out as far as genes go. I don’t doubt that some people’s genetics would allow them to live longer or get away with unhealthy behaviors. Everyone knows one of those people who eats whatever they want and doesn’t exercise, and yet never gains a pound. It’s a fact of life. No, my problem with the articles is that both barely reference the rest of us. The CNN article is devoted to how genetics trumps lifestyle in terms of old age for these people, with one paragraph mentioning off-hand how lifestyle is important for the rest of us. The Time article does a better job discuss limitations to the study and concludes with advice to everyone else, promoting healthy living.

The math article is devoted to an idea of inborn “number sense”, which may or may not relate to math achievement later on. Maybe this is the case, maybe it isn’t. My problem is that the article reduces math abilities down to a genetic issue. There is no nurture side in this article, only nature. Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers does a nice job of arguing for other factors in math ability than genetics. Certainly putting in lots of work and making a commitment to learning math can allow one to overcome a lack of “number sense”. It boils down to the same problem as the old age articles. Yes, some people do get genetics that allow them to naturally be better at things. But it doesn’t mean that those who aren’t lucky can’t achieve the same thing.

People are already to willing to write themselves off, trapped by their genetics. Articles like these only provide support for their fatalism. Rarely are there articles about someone beating their genetics. It’s just assumed that they didn’t get the ‘bad’ genes. So here’s an example of someone who did.

Jim Fixx. He’s famous for kick-starting the jogging movement in the 1970’s. Fixx was an overweight magazine editor who quit smoking, started jogging, and lost a lot of weight. He wrote a book called The Complete Book of Running. Fixx died at the age of 52–from a heart attack. This seems like a classic example of bad genetics winning, and it has been drawn up that way before. But that doesn’t look deep enough.

Fixx’s father, Calvin, had a heart attack at 35. Calvin Fixx died from a heart attack at 43. Jim lived to 52. He probably could have lived even longer if he would have seen a cardiologist, something he refused to do. Yes, Jim Fixx died earlier than most people–from the same problems that plagued his father. But he changed his lifestyle at 35, got healthier, and managed to add roughly 9 years to his life.

Genetics can be beat. We just have to start looking at it the right way.

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