Healthy Living Sucks Like a Tapeworm

When my grandmother was a young girl, she saw weight-loss pills in a store window. Take the green pill to start losing weight. Take the red pill when you reach your ideal weight and want to stop.

The green will was a tape worm.

The red pill killed the tape worm.

How did she know the green pill was a tapeworm? Some of the green pills had hatched early and were squirming around the display window!

For those of you fortunate enough to wonder exactly what a tapeworm is, I will spare you a creative commons image. That’s what Google is for. Tapeworms are parasites, usually accidently ingested in egg or larval form through contaminated food or water. They attach to your intestine and siphon off your calories and nutrients. So you can Eat! Eat! Eat! & Always stay thin!

photo by: orionpozo

And if you believe this add, with “No Ill Effects.” Aside from weight loss, vitamin deficiency, weakness, nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. They forgot to mention those side effects at the end of the commercial in a rushed and slightly-mumbled monotone, I suppose.

The most creepy part about the tapeworm diet? People still do it. Yeah, I’m about to vomit appalled too. According to trusted sources The Tyra Banks Show, the tapeworm diet is making a comeback. The US holds no statistics about how many people knowingly infect themselves with tapeworms. Probably because it’s illegal. Because it’s dangerous. And disgusting.  Tyra claims that thousands of people “want tapeworms to live in their body.” Whatever that means.

If you want to waste 25 minutes of your life have 25 minutes to spare, you can watch Tyra’s episode about the revival of the tapeworm diet. On it, a giggling idiot woman interested in ingesting a tapeworm to lose 10 pounds claims she is “willing to do anything to lose those extra pounds.”

Are you kidding me? I don’t even have a smart-ass, crossed out response for that. A person willing to infect themself with a parasite that will make them violently ill. Over ten pounds. Apparently “anything” doesn’t include moderating her calorie intake, eating fresh and unprocessed foods, and incorporating modest exercise.

The tapeworm diet, along with other quick-fix, extreme “diets,” might make you unwell on some level drop weight.  However, unless you address the lifestyle, eating, and exercise habits  that created the problem, the pounds will return. Usually with more of their poundy friends.

I will dismount my soapbox now, before I scare all you lovely readers away with preaching hurt myself. Eating healthy and working out sucks like a tapeworm does. Don’t believe those shiny fitness magazines that say otherwise. But we must always remember that health includes much more than only the number on the scale.

Sources: “Tapeworm Infection Symptoms” by Mayo Clinic

Ever heard of the tapeworm diet? Does the concept make you feel nauseous and give you night terrors? Ever have an experience with an “extreme” diet? What were your results (positive or negative)?

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Onions and Other Easy Vegetables

Onions & Other Easy Vegetables

My husband adores onions. Occasionally he eats raw onions like an apple just to freak me out for fun. He believes that the addition of onions and bacon to any dish instantly improves it. I don’t know about that bacon part, but I’m on board with onions.

According to the Huffington Post, eating onions on a regular basis decreases risk for heart disease and cancer. Onions increase enzymes that remove toxins from blood cells and make blood cells resistant to DNA damage. And who doesn’t want badass, toxin-free, damage-resistant blood cells?

These two mostly uncomplicated recipes that pair onions with other vegetables. Of course, I am a slapdash and haphazard fastidious and meticulous cook, so my instructions mirror that careless effortless manner.

Sautéed Vegetables

Ingredients:

1 onion

1 green pepper

1 orange pepper

1 red pepper

1 yellow squash

Olive oil

1. Coerce your minion persuade a friend to slice the onion.

2. Slice remaining vegetables.

3. Take photos of pretty, multi-colored veggies for your blog.

Yellow Squash and Green, Orange, and Red Peppers

4. Place onions in skillet with some olive oil on a setting slightly above medium.

That looks like enough olive oil. Who measures, anyway?

5. Cook and stir onions every once in a while until they look like this:

This meaning starting to turn translucent with some brownish bits. I know you appreciate the detailed technicality of these instructions.

6. Add yellow squash, stir a couple times, and cook until it softens up and develops brownish parts. Start adding peppers, realize you didn’t take a photo of the squash, remove most of the peppers and take this photo:

7. Add all the peppers. Make sure to stir so all vegetables spend some time at the bottom of the pan. Add olive oil as needed. Ex: when the bottom of the pan turns black and the veggies must be scraped off.

8. Remove from heat and serve when all vegetables are no longer crunchy and crisp, but tender and slightly soft.

The Midnight Bedroom Bomb Green Beans, Bacon & Onions

Ingredients:

1 onion

1 package bacon

1 gallon can of green beans

You read that correctly. 1 gallon. Judging from the ingredient list alone, you can guess who created this monstrosity recipe. Hint: Cooking for my husband resembles cooking for a relentlessly grazing, bottomless locust cloud.

1. Slice bacon and cook until almost burned because you turned around to wash some dishes and forgot you were cooking dinner. This will enhance the smoky flavor of the dish.

2. Drool over the delicious aroma of the bacon and conduct an elaborate photo shoot.

3. Bully your kitchen slave encourage a buddy into dicing the onion and draining the bacon grease.

4. Dump all ingredients into a large pot and stir together.

5. On medium-high heat, bring to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes.

6. Eat until your abdomen distends.

7. At bedtime, tenderly invite your lover to spoon you from behind. Laugh maniacally at the results.

Love Onions? Despise them? Does the mere whiff of raw, sliced onions make you want to wrench your eyes from your head? That’s how I  feel. Do these recipes sound delicious? Disgusting?

Chin-Up Check-In

Turns out, pull-ups are impossible challenging. Chin-ups are hard, but slightly easier than pull-ups. The difference? Hand grip.

Pull-up hand grip:

photo credit: Marion Doss

Chin-up hand grip:

I always practice chin-ups on cross walk signs
photo credit: david_shankbone

During a pull-up, you use mostly the lats, middle back, or latissimus dorsi for you fitness nerds educated exercisers. Changing your grip to the chin-up position involves the bicep muscles as well. Anyone who has tried both pull-ups and chin-ups agrees that they both suck chin-ups are slightly easier. So naturally, I’ve been practicing mostly chin-ups.

My Training

Two months ago, I vowed to work up to an unassisted pull-up. I would practice four exercises: lat pull-down machine, assisted pull-up machine, negatives on a pull-up bar, and partial pull-ups. Being the half-ass dedicated exerciser I am, I occasionally regularly completed one all of these drills. And tracked my progress on a detailed and elaborate spreadsheet. Right after I flapped my buff arms and flew to the moon. Riiiight.

My chin-up workout went something like this:

  1. Do nothing chin-up related for approximately a month.
  2. Occasionally use the assisted chin-up machine at the gym. Do however many reps at whatever weight felt good at the time. Record nothing, because my mind is a steel trap, and I can always write it down later.
  3. After a month of this, realize I don’t remember any of my workouts or how often I have been training.
  4. Record one workout on my smarter than me phone.
  5. Record the next workout on a sticky-note I begged off a trainer.
  6. Lose the sticky-note.
  7. Randomly try an unassisted chin-up, and become ecstatic when I discover I can lift myself up from flat feet:

8. Become slightly less excited when I discover this is what happens when I attempt a complete unassisted chin-up:

But hey, 2 months ago I couldn’t lift my body up AT ALL, so let’s celebrate the pathetic small victories too.

Actually, when I did manage to practice chin-ups once or twice a week, my routine went something like this:

  • 10 chin-ups on assisted chin-up machine
  • 12 reps on a chest weight machine
  • 10 wide-grip pull-ups on assisted machine
  • 12 reps on shoulder weight machine
  • 10 chin-ups on assisted chin-up machine
  • 12 reps on a different chest weight machine
  • 12 reps on an upper back weight machine

At the end of each exercise set, I cried piteously wanted my muscles at or near failure. If I wasn’t struggling to complete the last 2 reps, the weight was too light. On the assisted chin-up machine, I started with a counter weight of 55 and have brought that down to 40. Not much change, but not bad for a complete lack of routine or tracking.

Perhaps I will begin recording what machines and weights I use in each workout. Sessions would become more efficient, and I would progress faster. But you know, that’s never been my style.

 

Usually, DOMS attacks me the day after practicing chin-ups. DOMS is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or why you NEVER want to work out again. Check out my guest post on TheIndieChicks.com to find out what it is, how to prevent it, and how to treat it (kinda).

Goodness, this post got long! Have you ever set a performance-related fitness goal? How long did it take to reach your goal and/or did you give up before you completed it?

Women and Boners—I mean, bones…

Did you know that half of women over 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis?

That’s scary! My mom is over 50 doesn’t look a day over 30.

So why am I embarrassing my mother on the Internet? Because it is Women’s Health Month and National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month. Seemed like a fitting way to celebrate.

Normal bones look like this:

Osteoporotic bones look like this:

Osteoporotic, ooo big word!

Osteopor-whatsits?

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis means “porous bone.”

For obvious reasons, osteoporotic bones are weaker and more prone to breakage. People with osteoporosis are most likely to break their hip, spine, or wrist. But who needs those bones, anyway.

Why Women?

80% of people with osteoporosis are women. I call that sexist.

Women usually have smaller, thinner bones than men. Also, estrogen protects bones in women. Around menopause, estrogen levels severely drop, and chances of developing osteoporosis rocket. Yet another reason to loathe look forward to that excruciating exciting life event.

Nutrition

Build bone density through ingesting calcium and vitamin D.

99% of calcium in the body is stored in bones and teeth, but our bodies do not produce any by itself. Lazy bodies. On top of that, we literally ooze calcium from every orifice: skin, nails, hair, sweat, urine, and feces. Yum! Low-fat dairy products and green vegetables like kale, collard greens, broccoli, okra, and dandelion greens supply calcium in our diets. So next time you crave calcium, wander into your yard and yank up a dandelion salad.

Sunlight provides the greatest source of vitamin D, the substance vital to absorbing calcium. Our bodies actually produce the vitamin directly from ultra-violet light. At least those skin-cancer spotted tanned beach babes won’t get osteoporosis if they drank skim milk. Some foods contain small amounts of vitamin D, and many dairy products are fortified with it.

Exercise

Turns out, bones are a living tissue. Like muscle, they grow denser and stronger when worked. Who knew? Seriously, who knew this? For bones, working means absorbing impact. Exercises which toughen bones fall into two categories: weight bearing and muscle-strengthening.

Weight bearing exercises move against gravity while remaining upright. For us dummies intellectually challenged individuals, this includes dancing, hiking, climbing stairs, ellipticalling, walking, general upright flailing jogging, and similar activities.

Muscle-strengthening or resistance exercises suck move body weight or other resistance against gravity. They include lifting weights, resistance bands, weight machines, profuse whining from Kiya, and body weight exercises like push-ups or lunges.

Now I’m off to lower my risk for osteoporosis: a horrible pleasant, weight-bearing jog in the sunlight, followed by collapsing on the front lawn and gnawing on some weeds. You know, for the calcium.

What is your favorite osteoporosis-preventing activity? Surfing the internet? Inhaling cheese like it’s going out of style? Have thoughts on any other subject like the fact that I’ve been invited to guest blog on theindiechicks.com?!

Source: National Osteoporosis Foundation

Photo credit: NOF

Seaweed Snacks: Nature’s Tissue Paper

Last week I wandered ravenously innocently through the grocery store, when my eyes lighted on this little gem:

I thought to myself, “self, you don’t have anything to blog about next week expand your culinary horizons and sample this exotic quinine.” I had no idea what to expect. I had never even seen food made of seaweed, much less eaten any.

I took the weird new food home and examined the entire package before opening it.

Serving Size 10 Sheets. Sheets? What kind of food is measured in sheets?!

30 Calories per serving. That makes 3 calories per sheet, and 60 calories in the entire package. That means even if I shove the entire package down my throat overindulge, I can’t feel guilty!

Ingredients: Seaweed, canola oil, sesame oil, salt. Only 4 ingredients, and I know what all those things are.

Go ahead. Indulge. Your friends will have culture envy. Just what I’ve never given a crap about always wanted. Why am I sitting around reading the package when I could be stuffing my face and making my friends jealous of my worldly Target purchase?

I ripped open the package and discovered that I had bought a pack of tiny, green, shiny, tissue paper pieces. I stared at them, obtained photographic evidence, accidently dropped half of them on the floor, worked up courage to try one, and stared some more.

tissue paper… yummmm

They smelled faintly of the ocean. I placed one of the sheets on my tongue and it melted, tasting like salt and seaweed. Since I’ve never eaten seaweed before, I’m entirely guessing the second flavor. The sheets made a crinkling sound as I pushed them into my mouth, giving me the distinct impression I was, indeed, ingesting tissue paper.

The picky knows-what-he-likes husband refused to even try them, based solely on their green, papery appearance.

Overall, the “seaweed snacks” tasted bland. Not exciting enough to warrant a second purchase. I also do not recommend eating these snacks before exercising, unless you enjoy seaweed-flavored belches.

Also in package: not for eating!
(darn)

Have you ever eaten something made from/with seaweed? What did you think? Any other unusual dishes I should try out?

Weekend Warrior

FIRE!
sebastien.barre via Flickr

This post was supposed to feature a thrilling photo montage depicting my husband and I conquering the Warrior Dash. The dash was concocted when some masochist  smart-ass person decided that just running a race was too stinkin’ easy. So they added obstacles. Like tires and cargo nets and venomous snake pits mud pits with barbed wire and FIRE! I hear the fire’s only three inches tall, but it’s still FIRE!

However, notice the phrase “supposed to.” We made lovely plans to stagger painfully jog a 5k sprinkled with getting tetanus scaling wreaked cars and tumbling off twirling along tightropes, when forecasted “hail” and “high damaging winds” made some wussy Warrior Dash employee worried about “safety.” Our wave, originally scheduled for 1pm, moved to 10am. Per Murphy’s Law, I already taught Zumba at 10. Adios, Warrior Dash. Hello, cash refund.

Even considering the insanity of the obstacles and my lack of training—I don’t think avoiding running for two months and hardly ever completing half-ass pull-up exercises counts as training—I still felt disappointed we couldn’t run.

Could have been me
I Run Flint via Flickr

Guess we will have to wait until next year. Or maybe a different race on steroids for psychotic masochists fitness enthusiasts will come to Kansas City soon. (Laughs maniacally.)

What do you think of this new type of race? Ever tried one or know someone who has? Know of one coming to KC this summer?

International Bust a Move Day

Break it down, sister!
merlinprincesse via Flickr

Perhaps you live under a rock don’t follow my blog religiously (shame on you) and fail to realize how much I love to bust a move, cut a rug, shake my groove thang, get jiggy with it and otherwise thrash around in a pseudo-rhythmic fashion. Perhaps you missed my posts about my obsession with Zumba, treadmill dancing, or my pole dancing career. Perhaps you are a horrible human being should check out more of my blog.

Regardless of your working knowledge of my dance obsession, today marks the 30th annual International Dance Day. Some uppity people in France The International Dance Committee chose the birthday of Georges Noverre, the conveniently French creator of modern ballet to celebrate the delightful day. They rejoice in the art of dance through speeches, performances, and movie excerpts featuring prestigious dancers and choreographers from around the globe. I celebrate by cranking up the Latin tunes and jiggling anything not strapped down teaching Zumba and watching countless dance videos on youtube researching contemporary choreography.

Dance in all forms—ballet, club, tap, break dance, salsa or just bouncing around the house in your skivvies—provides several health benefits. Reduced stress, increased serotonin, improved cardiovascular health, greater coordination, enhanced sexual performance, strengthened mind-body connection, and increased self-esteem make a brief list.

Today I challenge you (especially you unfortunate non-dancers) to dance at least once before the sun sets. Break it down in the car on the way to work, hit the floor at the club, jam out to the radio while you clean, or try out ballroom dancing lessons. Let your inner ballerina or tribal dancer free!

In the words of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, “In 2012, I wish everyone lots of dance. Not to forget all their problems of 2011, but [. . . ] to engage with life as part of its never-ending choreography.”

Do you dance? How? Where? Afraid to unleash your inner dancer on the world? Why?

Birthday Pole Dancing

Yes, I HAD to wear my gold bootie shorts

Happy Birthday to ME! Today marks the 25th anniversary of my glorious birth. Turning a quarter of a century old requires celebration. How do I celebrate? By practicing my pole dancing moves, of course.

I heard of pole dancing for exercise a few years ago. Naturally, I had to jump on the bandwagon try it out.

Our class started by learning a simple swing around the pole, one foot on the floor the entire time. Nice, safe and easy. That ended quickly. We progressed to spins with both feet off the ground, limbs wrapped desperately sexily around the pole. Four turns in, my shoulders started burning. Apparently my pull-up exercises did not prepare me for work with a vertical bar.

Pole dancing requires upper-body strength. And a high pain tolerance. Two things I do not possess. My shoulders throbbed, my hands cramped, my thighs rubbed raw. Only 15 minutes had passed. But I looked sexy, damnit. That’s what I told myself, anyway. There were no mirrors in the room to disprove my mantra.

“The Martini” Spin

And then we tried “The Inversion.” That’s right, the move where your feet flip over your head and you fall terrified slide sensually to the floor. I got my feet over my head. Then I got stuck. Literally. The sweaty skin of my arms and legs clung to the pole, preventing me from sliding sexily or otherwise. I’m still not sure exactly what happened, but I eventually ended up on the floor with an aching shoulder made a graceful dismount.

The next day, my entire body hurt. Sore shoulders and pecs, bruised arms and thighs, aching ribs. The insides of my knees hurt. I don’t even know how that happened! I obviously don’t possess the skills needed to pole dance. Guess it’s time to find a new back-up career path.

Ever heard of or tried pole dancing for exercise? Want to send me expensive and lavish gifts for my birthday? Wonder if I will ever stop inventing new and creative ways to torture myself improve my fitness?

Smoothie Criminal

Mad Photoshop skillz. You're jealous.

Smoothies: the ultimate lazy health food. Throw it in a blender and push a button. Doesn’t get much easier than that!

My go-to smoothie recipe:

  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 1 banana
  • 2 fruits of your choice
  • Ice

You can stay boring safe by choosing another banana and strawberries or go crazy and exotic with mango and papaya. (Look, I live in Kansas. Mango and papaya are exotic here. Give me a break.) Try different types of berries: raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, boysenberry, gooseberry. Ok, so I’ve never tried those last two, but you get the idea. You’re limited only by the local grocery store your imagination.

Side note: as a smoothie veteran and ultimate lazy experimental cook, I discovered that cutting the tops off strawberries is a waste of time optional. As long as you don’t mind little green flecks in your smoothie. It adds fiber. That’s what I told my husband, anyway.

Smoothies also solve the overripe fruit dilemma. Ever overestimate how much fruit you can stomach you love fruit? At the end of the week, I always end up with soft bananas and squishy berries. Throw them away? Never! This tight-wad frugal cook throws them in a smoothie! Nothing squishy left after the blender’s whirling blades of death decimate your produce.

Have a smoothie addiction like me? Green flecks of strawberry tops in your smoothie freak you out? Jealous of my Photoshop skillz? Because I know you are.

Original photo credits: CiuPix and .Kai

Pull-ups: The Masochism Continues

Remember that post about torturing myself with C25K? Apparently I’ve recovered enough from the trauma to assign myself a new impossible and painful inspiring and motivating goal: unassisted pull-ups. Never mind my scrawny dancer arms or the fact that I only recently completed my first push-up on my toes. I’m getting concerned that some insane little part of my brain enjoys pain.

So where does a tiny wimp muscularly challenged individual who can’t complete a single pull-up start?

Lat pull down machine

Photo credit: Feather Magazine

This machine works the same muscles used for pull-ups, mainly the latissimus dorsi or middle back. Add weight to the machine over time, building up your muscles.

 

Assisted pull-ups

If you exercise at a gym with fancy torture devices equipment, you could use one of these:

Photo credit: type a mommy

This crazy machine uses adjustable counter weight to lessen the amount of fatness body weight lifted during a pull up.

If you don’t have access to elaborate contraptions, assist your pull-ups in other ways. Put your legs on a chair to reduce body weight lifted, loop exercise bands around the bar and your ankles, or ask a sadist to hold your feet and laugh as you struggle to hoist your chin above the bar have a friend grab your ankles.

Negatives on a pull-up bar

Jump up and start with your chin above the bar. Slowing and excruciatingly lower yourself down to the bottom. Repeat until you fall to the floor in exhaustion.

Partial pull-ups

Practice only the top or bottom half of the pull-up instead of the entire thing. For example, starting at the top, only lower part of the way down and back up. Work on lowering a little further each time. I can do the top half of a pull-up. Sometimes. If I kick. Impressive, right?

Check back in a month or three soon for my celebratory first pull-up post! With all these exercises, I should be a pull-up pro in no time, right?

Can you complete unassisted pull-ups? How did you build up to them? Not interested in pull-ups and consider me slightly unstable for attempting them? Me too.

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