Thursday, February 24, 2011

Free Budgeting Software



I've had a couple recommendations (from friends and from online sources) about Mint.com which offers free budgeting software that helps you track your financial history and plan for the future. You can generate from the data collected all kinds of useful charts/graphs and "reports." Being a nerd at heart, this appeals to me. So, readers, how do you track your financial health? Any other software applications you like to use? I'll report back after 3-4 months of mint.com usage if I decide to go with it.

Kanye West




I think it was unnecessary to use the negative language, but it is true if more people used condoms. They would have many less unplanned pregnancies to have to deal with.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Models Faces Before Photoshop

Check out this video and article at Jezebel showing the transformation of close-up shots of models used for advertising. I can't embed the video here, but its short and as always, kinda shocking how skewed are media images really are. No one's skin is as smooth and flawless as a Loreal ad, not even a beautiful model's.

Check it out HERE.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Family Planning Saves $4 for every $1 Spent

Here is a MUST READ article about the real impact of family planning spending by the Federal Government put out by the Guttmacher Institute.

Some Factoids:

Publicly funded family planning services are highly cost-effective. More than nine in 10 women receiving them would be eligible for Medicaid-funded prenatal, delivery and postpartum care services if they became pregnant. Avoiding the significant costs associated with these unintended births saves taxpayers $4 for every $1 spent on family planning.

AND

By providing millions of young and low-income women access to voluntary contraceptive services, the national family planning program prevents 1.94 million unintended pregnancies, including almost 400,000 teen pregnancies, each year. These pregnancies would result in 860,000 unintended births, 810,000 abortions and 270,000 miscarriages, according to a new Guttmacher Institute report.

The GOP is trying to spin their cutting of Planned Parenthood and Title X as "austerity measures," but financially the math doesn't work out that way. What it really is, is anti-contraception and anti-woman base appeal. They said they were running to create jobs, but they have no "conservative" ideas that will generate job growth because "conservative" ideas simply expand the impact of a recession, see THE GREAT DEPRESSION for an idea as to how "conservatives" make recessions worse. Perhaps, a crazy person, might argue that by forcing women out of the work-force due to forced pregnancy, it will free up a job for a man, but that thinking was faulty in the 1930's, let alone today. Support Planned Parenthood, Support Title X by CALLING your representative in the house.

This Goes Out to My Brothers & Sisters Fighting for their Rights to Collective Bargaining in Wisconsin! Union!!!



This Goes Out to My Brothers & Sisters Fighting for their Rights to Collective Bargaining in Wisconsin! Union!!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I Took A Walk!

So, I've had a cold for about a week and a half, but yesterday I felt like I was ready to start exercising again. I dutifully packed my gym bag, made sure my ipod was charged, etc. Then, when quitting time neared and I started thinking about getting on that elliptical, I started to get a case of the blahs & dontwannas...it was so pretty out yesterday, mid-60's...why couldn't I enjoy the hour or so of daylight instead of going to the gym?!? Then I realized, duh! You can!!! You can take a walk outside! And that is what I did. It was glorious. I was so enthused by the idea, I think I probably got a better work-out than I would have if I went to the gym. Although, I didn't do any toning, which is actually becoming a problem. I am seriously neglecting toning, almost as a matter of principle (although that is only a principle when one's philosophy favors muscular degeneration). I brought my gym bag again today, but if its nice out, I think I'll forgo the gym again and head outdoors...though with some handweights mandated afterward. Has anyone else been able to enjoy exercising outside yet? Let us know in the comments!

This

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

CBS News' Lara Logan Sexually Assaulted in Egypt

For CBS News Chief Foreign Correspondent Lara Logan, covering the jubilation in Egypt's Tahrir Square Friday after president Hosni Mubarak stepped down was anything but joyous.

According to the network, Logan -- who was on assignment for 60 Minutes -- was "separated from her crew" in the mob of more than 200 people.

Logan was then "surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers," CBS reports.

After reconnecting with her team, the South African native, 39, returned to the United States on the first flight out Saturday morning. She is currently recovering in a hospital

This is very sad. I will keep her in my prayers. Many people forget that women are often abused sexual during retaliation activities. Many women often have to muse over the chance of sexual assault when they take international assignments. This is a thought almost never crosses a male journalist mind.

Billy Ray Cyrus: Miley's Hannah Montana "Destroyed My Family"

Us Magazine reports: In an emotional new interview in GQ magazine, the country singer, 49, sadly expounds at length about his very serious regrets and concerns for his famous daughter Miley, 18. (Billy Ray and Tish Cyrus, Miley's mom, also filed for divorce last year after 17 years of marriage.)

I believe the moral of this story is that when parents try to be friends instead of parents children go astray. I also think it is challenging to be a parent when you kid is making the money that supports the family.

I recommend that Will and Jada Pinket-Smith have a sit down with Billy Ray before it is to late for there rising stars.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Crystal Renn: Expectations



In this video, Crystal Renn discusses her recent weight-loss and failure to "live up to" the plus sized model ideal. When she was in her teens modeling in the "straight-sized" modeling world (aka size 0-4 realm) she suffered from an eating disorder. Then she got healthy and got a "plus sized modeling contract." She's recently lost a bit of weight (not to the extent that takes her back into "straight-sized" modeling, but rather puts her right in-between the modeling sized world).

Bottom line: trying to fit Renn into a modeling box (or any woman) isn't healthy. She's beautiful, she takes great pictures, she's a model...but apparently being a size 8 is too confusing for the industry (or fashion media) to comprehend.

There must be way more size 8 women buying clothes than size 2 women in the real world...mustn't there? Why isn't body diversity taken more seriously in the industry? A diverse group of women modeling clothing for a diverse client base seems to make perfect sense to me.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Heavy Kids: Media Blames Working Mothers or Lazy Dads? One Guess

Yep, you guessed it right, blame working mom's instead of lazy dads who perform on average 9 hours less housework per week than their spouse. Here's an article by Lindsey Bernstein discussing a study that found that the children of working women gain an average of two pounds a year more than children of stay-at-home mothers (a minority of mothers, btw). The fact remains, Americans rely more and more on processed food; processed food contributes to weight-gain; women are blamed for feeding their families crap even though both mothers and fathers have an equal responsibility to the health and well-being of their children. The facts also indicate that men enjoy more leisure time per week and they perform less housework per week than their partners. Therefore, all this blaming of women for fat kids is really misplaced. Men need to step up to the plate and start cooking healthier meals for their families, or performing other housework chores so that their wives can switch from that chore to cooking from scratch....that and of course we need to insist on healthier processed food, quit subsidizing corn/soy/meat industries oh, and overall our work-life balance relationships...but in the meanwhile, get cooking gents!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Top Secret Rosies

Top Secret Rosies Trailer from LeAnn Erickson on Vimeo.



So cool! Here's a link to the site dedicated to "Top Secret Rosies"--female mathematicians who helped win WWII with their dedicated efforts to completing complex computations that made precise bombings from the air possible. Of course, their work was hidden and sidelined long after the need for secrecy eclipsed.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

In Hollywood Your Pants Size is Everybody's Business

Jenna Fischer from The Office is on Redbook's cover for March and in it, she tries to explain why so many starlets feel pressure to stay thin. Essentially, in Hollywood, you are often wearing other people's clothes--whether its a fitting for a role, a red-carpet loan or a shoot for a magazine or interview--your clothing size is something that has to be constantly communicated. You have to let your agent know your dress, pant, swim suit, shoe and bra size, and if that changes, he/she has to communicate that with a host of other folks. She cites this situation as a major factor as to why women in Hollywood try to maintain their "known" figure. Okay, I see this perspective...but does it really explain why so many try to be 0 or 00? This clothes borrowing/fitting arrangement probably does play into the overall formula as to why thin is so crucial to the culture of Hollywood, but it doesn't explain why being a size six is seen as obese, let alone a twelve. Kyle from the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills talked about being a size four and how fat that is considered in LA--how sad and deranged is that? Being seriously skinny is not at all the same as being healthy. As a matter of fact, being underweight is more dangerous than being overweight (not obese, but overweight). The carved-out Hollywood ideal (which then gets smoothed out in photoshop) is not healthy for most men and women--only about 10% of the population has difficulty maintaining a BMI over 18 and many if not most Hollywood starlets have underweight BMI's. I'm glad Ms. Fischer is explaining why she feels pressure to stay thin (I don't know how thin she is and in terms of Hollywood starlets, she certainly seems to be thin but not carved out...so not please don't take my post in general to be a snark at Ms. Fischer). This kind of interview is another glimpse into how Hollywood works and that's helpful when trying to untangle our media images and body expectations as a culture.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Stem Cells Save Lives



This is such an interesting short clip from National Geographic about a new technique for growing new skin for patients with severe burns. Its really interesting, but kinda gross--so watch at your own discretion. The kinds of stem cells used in this experimental treatment are from adults--from the victim him/herself. So much of the stem cell debate really surrounds fetal stem cells, but its important to realize that even adults still have and rely on stem cells from their everyday growth, healing and natural processes of the body.

The More You Know!

Crystal Renn Feels Pressure to Live Up to 'Plus-Size' Label

People.com reports that Crystal Renn feels the pressure to fit the plus-size ideal:

"I think that by placing a title on my head, which is 'plus-size,' and then the picture that these people have created in their mind about what plus-size actually is, I've basically failed [your expectations] just with that," she said.

I not wishing her to have an eating disorder again. Yet, when she was taking appearances on panels about being a plus size model she signed up for this. There are so many plus size model in magazines and we don't know there names.

If you make money off of being overweight, I am going to call you on it. You can't have it both ways. Also, if you don't want to be judge on your appearance everyday, don't choose the job of model. Go work at a place with a uniform so the goal is to look like everyone else.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Audrina Photoshopped to Look Less Boney & Thin

Audrina from The Hills was photoshopped for her new Bongo ad to look less boney & severe. This is actually some pretty subtle work actually. Its not one of those obvious photoshop disasters where the subject's neck is unusually long or she's missing part of her leg, etc. Rather, we only know about this touch-up job because some unedited pictures from the "behind the scenes" cover for In Touch were leaked. Remember ladies & gentleman: pretty much everything is photoshopped now and the reality is: reality ain't good enough for the modern marketer.

In this extended view, they actually added belly-roundness--interesting, no?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Graceful Aging & A More Youthful You

I always find it interesting how terms like "graceful aging" and "a more youthful you" are used in order to sell beauty products that seek to minimize age and aging. Its only graceful if its hidden, I guess. Botox has really changed mass-media images of women over the age of 40, I think. Plastic surgery leaves that tight, taut look whereas box simply freezes the face in place. Botulism, the agent used in Botox is one of the most deadly poisons on Earth, yet even I have though: "well, maybe when I'm in my late 40's or 50's, just to see." Bad thought, Thealogian.

Natural Health has an article up right now on four "health boosters" that is couched in these terms--they will lead to a more youthful you--yet the four "health boosters" they are talking about are really good things: RESVERATROL, OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS, ANTIOXIDANTS, and CoQ10.

All of these compounds or health boosters can be found in sustainably grown, healthy foods. What is there to object to? Well, I don't object to their very helpful definitions (pasted below), but its the how these nutrients are talked about that make me feel uncomfortable. They are these utilitarian things that will combat the reality of aging--the reality, really, that your body changes over time. The truth is, you will age and you will die one day and eye creme rich with resveratrol will not make you immortal, but in the meantime, eat some chia seeds and leafy-greens, their omega's and antioxidants are good for you. Eating things that are good for you is not just about your face, but about how you feel, inside and out. Like the Fat Nutritionist recommends, check into your self-understanding of "feeling good" and "feeling like crap" when you eat, when you exercise, when you get enough or too little sleep. Paying attention is the first step toward feeling well.

Health Booster Definitions:

1. RESVERATROL
What it is: A powerful, naturally occurring polyphenol found in the stems, seeds and skin of red wine grapes, and other plants.
What it does: Research suggests that resveratrol boosts energy; inhibits the development of cancer (including breast cancer); may help prevent heart disease; could be linked to a reduced risk of imflammation and blood clotting; and according to a Harvard University study, it might even slow the aging process. Resveratrol also helps fight environmental toxins to keep skin supple and reduce wrinkles.
To eat: Peanut butter, red grapes, red and white wine, red grape juice, blueberries, cranberries

2. OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
What they are: Unsaturated fatty acids that the body needs to function and stay healthy.
What they do: Omega-3s can reduce your risk of heart disease by 30 percent; they soothe inflammation; regulate cholesterol; alleviate symptoms of depression; and help keep your skin glowing.
To eat: Salmon, rainbow trout, flaxseed, walnuts, tuna, anchovies, sardines

3. ANTIOXIDANTS
What they are: Nutrients (vitamins and minerals found in foods) as well as enzymes(proteins in your body that assist in chemical reactions). Vitamins A, C, and E are biggies.
What they do: Antioxidants help delay aging and reduce our vulnerability to cancer, heart disease, and diabetes; they also help reduce inflammation and may stop pigment formation (think age spots); antioxidants also help keep skin bright and supple.
To eat: Spinach, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, prunes, raisins, kale, pumpkin seeds

4. CoQ10
What it is: Ubiquinone, also calledCoenzyme Q10 or CoQ10, is a natural, powerful antioxidant that’s naturally produced in the body. It’s found in cell membranes in the heart, kidneys, lungs, spleen, liver, adrenal glands, and the pancreas. Coenzyme Q10 is essential to our health, but unfortunately, our body’s level of the enzyme decreases with age.
What it does: Like all antioxidants, CoQ10 can help boost heart health and cut your cancer risk; it can also reduce the incidence of migraines by up to 50 percent, and fights periodontal disease. It keeps skin firm and smooth, and reduces the severity of wrinkles.
To eat: Pistachios, walnuts, soybean and rapeseed oil, mackerel, tuna

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Bridesmaids



I don't know about this film...lots of funny ladies, good; stereotypical female rite of passage, wedding/bridesmaid duty which could go either way; gross fat chick who is probably a lesbian? That worries me. This may be the chick version of The Hangover or something new altogether. I'm glad that this many funny ladies are being featured and let's be honest, I'll probably see it, but probably at the discount movies or via Netflix.

What about you, dear readers? Are you interested in the ladies being as gross and far out as the boys? Can Judd Apatow do the woman's perspective? Let me know in the comments.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Over the Plateau!

So, despite waking up this morning with a blistering swore throat, I did wake up to some good news--I'm over my weight-loss plateau!!! Since September, I have lost 40lbs, but then for most of half of December and all of January, I was on a plateau, as these things happen. I decided not to weigh for a couple weeks, kept up the diet and exercise and this morning I weighed and I have lost another 3.6lbs!!! So, hopefully, I won't hit another plateau for another 36.4lbs (tee-hee, I know that's not likely), but come on body, at least give me another 20lbs--I promise to do the work. So, that picture? Its supposed to be a plateau, ominous, right? Well, plateau's end--even if it takes six weeks. Concentrating on following a "healthy lifestyle plan" rather than a short term diet is what got me through it. I have decided to only exercise at a level that I can maintain while balancing other aspects of life. Maybe if I did do the biggest loser type exercise routine I would have come out of this plateau earlier, but I don't think that I could maintain that on my own. What I can do is go to the gym 2-3 times per week and integrate home exercise, like a long walk or pilates, along with a structured yoga class once per week. I can workout 4 times per week, sometimes three, sometimes five, but seven days a week for four hours is not something I can or will do, so why make weight-loss habits unsustainable? It just leads to a feeling of failure. Instead, I have set up a reasonable goal for myself and met it. I was patient these past few weeks and now its paid off. Also, I should mention that because of the 40lbs loss, I had a little hair thinning which freaked me out. I had my vitamin levels and protein checked out by my doctor and I'm fine. She said that losing 40lbs is a shock to the body and that thinning is normal, but should subside. My hair is no longer shedding excessively (and it wasn't really really bad, just noticable in the shower and on my sweater). The shedding and plateau co-insided, so my body needed a break so that's why I didn't freak out during this plateau. I needed to listen to my body, concentrate on nutrients, proteins and vitamins and just be patient. I'll probably not weigh for at least another week because too much weighing increases my neurosis--I know that some people weigh everyday--but for me, I want to listen to my body in other ways, while still having some idea of the number on the scale. I knew that it was probably okay to weigh this morning because my jeans were getting loose again, if they felt tight, I probably would have waited another week so as not to discourage myself. Also, the elliptical is getting easier again, so adding a little weight there for a better work-out is also an indicator that perhaps weighing is safe again. Anyway, I hope to be able to report another pound or two next Friday.

Yoga: TODAY!


Check out this description of the yoga class I'm taking today:

Yinyasa

– Yinyasa features both the active movement of vinyasa, as well as the complementary practice of yin which focuses on release of the deep connective tissues. Like a satisfying exhale after rapid breathing, the passive poses of yin feel deeply relaxing especially following the strength-building poses typical of vinyasa. The goal of this class is to help build focus and strength, and then to enjoy the relief of passive stretching and a more peaceful mind.

Yes, darnit, I'm going to YOGA. Today...Friday, the day that is today, I'm going to yoga, grrr....okay, I haven't been to a yoga class in a while. Wish me luck and courage to actually do it. I'll report back...

Update: I actually wrote this post Wednesday and scheduled it to appear on Friday as extra encouragement to go to yoga. I really do want to go to yoga, but I woke up with a blistering swore throat this morning. I am going to go to this yoga class next Friday instead because my throat hurts, I'm stuffed up and this in not the best state to show up for a yoga class for the first time. I was starting to get a swore throat yesterday afternoon, but I still went to the gym, but now I think I might actually be sick or on the precipice. I gargled salt water, I'm having tea--what else can I do, dear readers, to stave off this cold? Leave your best advice in the comments!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Government’s Dietary Advice: Eat Less


On Monday, officials at the USDA "issued their bluntest nutrition advice to date: drink water instead of sugary drinks like soda, fill your plate with fruits and vegetables and cut down on processed foods filled with sodium, fat or sugar. More important, perhaps, the government told Americans, “Enjoy your food, but eat less.” Many Americans eat too many calories every day, expanding their waistlines and imperiling their health."

The clear message that half of your plate should consist of fruits and vegetables is certainly one to be applauded. But in an era of super-sized portions, what does "eat less" really mean? There's talk that processed food manufacturers will be pressured to reformulate many of their recipes in order to reduce the sodium present in their "food products," but what about restaurants' super-sized portions? For many Americans, the super-sized portion is the new normal and they mimic those restaurant portions at home. How can we scale down the new normal to reasonable portion?

Its really interesting to learn that Americans eat 180% of the allowed solid fats and refined sugars (see chart above). Its equally interesting to see that even with the recent push toward more whole grains, Americans are still only getting 15% of the recommended goal and only 59% of the recommended vegetable intake (although, that is still a 'failing grade' it is higher than I might have thought). I think that the USDA might benefit from using some of Michael Pollan's vocabulary: "eat real food, mostly plants, but not too much." Real Food is what we are talking about here, but to invoke that kind of language would have the processed food manufacturers up in arms because nothing threatens an industry more than showing that the emperor has no clothes. So, the USDA follows a half-measures approach, food plebes are still confused and foodies are still a small segment of the population, but hey, consider committing to one day of "real food"--nothing processed or packaged--one day per week and go from there.

READ THE NYT SOURCE ARTICLE HERE

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Food Manifesto for the Future


Mark Bittman has an excellent article up on the NYT opinion's page today. Read it in its entirely HERE. His primary suggestions for creating a sustainable food-system for the future includes ending subsidies for corn/soy which generally end up as feed for animals and as "food products" for processed foods. He also suggests splitting up the USDA, which I think is rather novel. Essentially, the USDA is in charge of both making healthy food recommendations for Americans and promoting our big agri-business, these missions are in conflict with one another as they are currently constructed and health loses to profit everytime. He'd like to see those subsidies transferred to non-monoculture farms that seek to feed people directly, through food rather than food products, and the encouragement of farmers and super markets in food deserts. There are a few other excellent suggestions, but one that his suggestion for ending mono-culture, big-ag doesn't hit on is a major problem nobody seems to talk about: ending the presidential primary season starting in Iowa. No candidate, Democrat or Republican would make it through the Iowa primary to stand a chance in the later primaries, if he or she advocated the ending of subsidies for corn/soy...it just wouldn't happen and this is a problem for the rest of us. The current primaries are a problem, where states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina get to dictate who the rest of the states get to consider for their candidates. I like the idea of regional primaries where the first set in the regional primaries would rotate--so, a Northeastern region, Mid-West, West, Rocky/Plains, Southeastern, Southwestern, etc.

As it stands right now, this reform movement cannot come out of presidential politics because Iowa is too powerful, let alone big agribusiness in general. Anyway, check out Bittman's article.

Lisa's 8 Week Winter Jump Start: Week 6

This Jump start has been a struggle for me, but now I am in the zone.

Successes

1. Working out 6 of 7 days
2. 2/2/11 down 4.8 lbs

Setbacks
1. 1/26/11 up 1.8 lbs

Total lost from start 8.4 lbs for a weight of 242. ( This is my 10% mark from when I started Weight Watchers)

I am more motivated to keep weight going down to prepare to look awesome on Spring break. This motivation is really working for me. I never figured me to be so vain.

How Cute is this Blog

Quick recommendation, I'm enamored with a blog I only recently found (through a link from a blog I love, The Kim Challenge). Anyway, my new blog to read (since I recently gave up a not to be named blog because all she does anymore is post a daily recipe of a dessert...okay, an occasional savory recipe, but its all mainly desserts and no longer food or lifestyle blogging...its her blog, so her focus, but its seriously lost its luster)....oops, sorry about the tangent, but the new blog to read is:

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Boycotting Palin for February

So, like Paris Hilton a couple years ago, there's a planned boycott of all things Sarah Palin for the month of February. Considering that yesterday she tried to make the revolution in Egypt ALL ABOUT HER, I'm on board with this boycott, that includes (starting after this post), not writing about her or CLICKING ARTICLES ABOUT HER elsewhere for the month of February. Of course, there is always the possibility that she does something so enormously offensive, I may have to click and read an article, but hopefully not. Remember, the more attention she gets, the more money she makes--she's got quite the con going right now and though she may very well be considering running for president, the vast majority of Americans would never vote for her, thank goodness, so she will probably not be the Republican nominee in 2012.

Update: Okay, one last funny at Palin's expense:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
From Russia With Gov
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook

Disinformation Campaign Targeting African Americans and Planned Parenthood

There's a really good article up on Jezebel HERE about a disinformation campaign aimed at African Americans and Planned Parenthood to equate abortion with slavery and to suggest that African Americans are being targeted by Planned Parenthood for "elimination" through abortion. Planned Parenthood is being pro-active in trying to get the real statistics out, that African Americans account for 15% of their clients and that the general population of African Americans in the US is 13%, which is within the expected population range of use. Also, what stuck out at me is that the organization already has several well-regarded African American healthcare workers and health policy folks in their organization, so there isn't some sort of "white organization seeks leaders in black community" implication of this story--they are a highly diverse organization that seeks out people of many races and genders to do their good work as a matter of principal (and as a matter of greater effectiveness). Read the whole thing, but one other thing that really shocked me was a statistic about infant mortality: "The African-American infant mortality rate is more than twice that of white infants. College and graduate school-educated African-American mothers have a higher infant mortality rate than white mothers who didn't finish high school." You read that right, white high school dropouts are less likely to have their children die in the first year of life than a GRADUATE SCHOOL EDUCATED African American Woman. I'm not saying that high-school drop outs deserve to have their babies die, but education is linked to longevity, access to healthcare, general health, etc. Why are highly accomplished women of color experiencing infant death for their children more than would seem plausible? Gotta be racism...seriously, it has to be...unless somebody can prove to me that black babies are super delicate and white babies are made out of that airplane black box material that survives plane crashes...its gotta be racism.