Not Fueled by Chocolate

As I
slide
towards
another birthday,
I am reminded that
increasing age diminishes
my ability to shed those
extra pounds that cluster
around the part of my body
that makes me look like
a pear.

An unfortunate side effect of getting older is that it is getting harder to maintain anything remotely resembling an hour glass figure.

A brisk thirty minute walk in the morning and forty-five minutes at the gym after lunch just isn’t enough exercise to make my clothes feel ‘less snug’. I’ve been forced to cut calories too, starting with the ultimate sacrifice – no dark chocolate snacks until the pudginess is brought into submission again. For some indefinite amount of time, my blog writing will Not Be Fueled by Chocolate.’

There are any number of articles and advertisements that suggest how to lose weight (many are for bogus diets or are designed to drain your bank account), but it is only in the last few years that researchers have identified how our body fat makes us fat. With the rise in obesity and diabetes, researchers have had increased incentive to investigate how fat cells work.

It has now been suggested that the number of fat cells in our bodies increases from infancy into our early twenties. After that age, we keep the same number of fat cells throughout our lives. Gaining or losing weight does not affect the number of fat cells.

Fat cells do many good, important jobs besides being able to store a lot of energy in a small space. Unfortunately, when we take in more calories than we burn by exercise, the extra calories make the fat cells larger.

Scientists now say that our bodies have THREE kinds of fat cells: white ones, brown ones and beige ones. White fat stores extra energy. Brown and beige fat cells burn chemical energy to create heat.

Brown fat is present in most adults, but adults with more brown fat are generally slimmer than those without. (That explains that skinny friend who doesn’t exercise and can eat whatever they like.) Unfortunately, as we age, the heat production ability of brown fat cells decreases. This causes a natural increase in weight.

Beige and brown fat activation are both triggered by exercise. Combined with a decrease in calories, this is still the best way to shrink fat cells.

Scientists are hopeful, though, that they can find other ways to enhance the function of brown and beige fat cells or cause white fat to turn into brown fat. They have evidence that exposure to cold temperatures (16 degrees C) triggers beige and brown fat activation, but they continue to search for the ‘silver bullet’ that could be the game changing treatment for diabetes and obesity.

Other interesting facts about fat and weight:
– a single study published in the journal ‘Obesity’ showed that a year after liposuction removed fat, the fat came back, but not in the areas it was removed from. An increased fat appearance was observed in the upper abdomen, shoulders and the back of the arms.
– about 10 percent of your fat cells die and are replaced each year.
don’t diet – think instead about how to satisfy your hunger for fewer calories. Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. (Eat less chocolate…)
exercise (aerobic and strength training) – the more you do, the more calories are burned. The largest muscles (and therefore the largest calorie burners) are in the thighs, abdomen, chest, and arms.
one size does not fit all, so to speak. Researchers are trying to understand why one person may lose weight faster or slower than another, even when they eat the same diet and do the same exercise.
– the set-point theory of metabolism may be a myth. Studies suggest that if we lose weight, our metabolism shifts to a normal rate for that new weight.
walking for 30 minutes most days of the week, is as effective as a structured exercise done three to five days a week.
“low-fat” or “fat-free” food is not necessarily low calorie food. A bunch of low-fat cookies might have more calories than one or two regular cookies.

With that, I’ll go have a carrot…

Do share – are you an hour-glass, a banana, a strawberry, an apple or a pear shaped person?

Super Bowl Quiz – The Winning Answers

We were invited to a Super Bowl party. I knew it was going to be a good one when the hostess pointed me in the direction of a really well stocked snack counter. Then she handed me the first of the number of glasses of wine it takes to drink a half bottle or so. With my beverage in one hand, and a plate of munchies in the other, I commandeered a front row seat on the soft couches.

“Before the game starts,” said the hostess, “You are all going to take a Super Bowl Quiz. There is a prize for whoever gets the most right answers.”

She handed each of us a single page of questions, which I dutifully read. I only knew three answers. I had no idea about the rest. Not a clue. That wasn’t a surprise, since I didn’t even know which teams were playing in the game I was about to watch. (In my defense, I am Canadian, and the last time I really paid any attention to football was when Doug Flutie was quarterback for the Calgary Stampeders in the early 1990’s.)

So I filled in the answers I knew, and handed my page to The Car Guy.  His skill set is trivia, and he does follow American football. He filled in his question sheet first, then filled in the rest of my sheet with his second best answers.

At half time, the hostess put out more food (I have to get her recipe for pulled pork!) Then she announced the winner of the Quiz. The person who had the most right answers was ME! What a surprise!

You must be wondering how the ‘least likely to win’ quiz player stumbled into the end zone for a touchdown? Well, it was because I know Roman Numerals. Sample Question: How do you write the Roman Numeral for Super Bowl 48?  The Car Guy  knows Roman Numerals too, so my win ultimately came down to the fact that his second choice answers on my sheet were better than his first choice answers on his sheet.

The prize was a handy pair of glasses that made me look a cross between Groucho Marks and Hitler.  They look much better on Albertina Elf.

Did you watch Super Bowl LI too? What did you think of the commercials and half time show? Do you have a really easy crock pot pulled pork recipe?

Golf Carts and Corn Stalks – After Flood Perspectives

Our eyes are side by side – we just naturally look at life in a horizontal perspective!

In the aftermath of the Flood at Hidden Valley, Alberta, a few things that were once vertically aligned are now in a horizontal position. This golf cart near the 4th green has become a little greenhouse for what looks like a sunflower plant!

I turned the camera and took a vertical shot of the 4th fairway. It is now a lush forest of new poplar saplings and – a few more sunflower plants.

I continued walking along the 4th, past the Half Way house, then to the 6th green and bunkers. In addition to much more beach area, I found a corn plant.

This vertical photo shows the lush green growth of the grass – and a few more of the many corn plants in that area!

The Car Guy and I think that bird feed must have been scattered by the flood waters. The wet, nutrient rich silt encouraged the seeds to germinate and grow very quickly.  If these plants manage to set seed, then Hidden Valley could become a non-typical source of food for the birds for many years to come.

There are many other plants blooming in the Valley right now – I’ll post some photos in a few days.

All of our homes may have been destroyed, but the plant life is thriving. In a few years, it will be hard to tell that our Community was ever there.

Link to this week’s Photo Challenge: One Shot Two Ways