April 9, 2007

Jack in the Bathroom

Posted in Health and Fitness at 9:07 pm by Calico Jack

I’ve found it relatively difficult to find decent personal grooming products that aren’t either overloaded with chemicals or smell worse than the inside of a mortuary. Enter Target’s new line called Every Man Jack, which hits stores next week. Every Man Jack products — which include shampoo, body wash, face lotion, pomade, and shaving gel — use natural ingredients instead of chemicals, and come in either mint, tea tree, cedarwood, or fragrance-free scents (which is an oxymoron, I guess.) And best of all, each item costs $4.99 or less. According to Men.Style.com, Every Man Jack aims to be “The H&M of grooming products.” For five bucks, I’ll definitely be picking up the fragrance-free body wash and shaving gel: no more worrying about scents clashing with my cologne. Now if only I could find a good fragrance- and aluminum-free deodorant…

August 3, 2006

Get a shot and lose weight?

Posted in Food, Health and Fitness at 12:40 pm by Calico Jack

Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in California have been working on a vaccine that produces antibodies against the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates hunger and can lead to weight gain. Currently, this vaccine has only been tested on rats; but it has provided promising results. When injected with the vaccine, the rats gained less weight, even though they were eating normally. Scientists hope that they can eventually produce a vaccine that would help humans to manage weight gain or lose weight, although there are many obstacles to be overcome before such a vaccine could be viable.

I have an idea: instead of spending inordinate sums of money to create a shot that might help overweight people take off the pounds, why don’t researchers instead use that money to pay for gym memberships? We’ve had how many decades of research into figuring out how to stop the rampant weight gain that is sweeping across the West, especially America; but everyone keeps coming back to the most fundamental rule of losing weight: eat healthier foods and exercise more.

I hate people who claim that obesity is a disease that they can’t control. It is true that some people have health issues that affect their body’s metabolism, such as diabetes. And in that case, it is perfectly acceptable to seek artifical solutions to losing weight. But the CDC reports that over 30 percent of U.S. adults are now classified as obese. I’m sorry, but there is no way that one out of every three Americans has a health problem that causes them to be fat. They do have a non-health problem, however; it’s called “eating too much.”

I saw a commercial yesterday for Burger King’s latest entrĂ©e in their line of hamburgers that are way too big for you. It’s called the BK Stacker, and its slogan is “A Mountain of Meat and Cheese.” There is no produce on this burger, just meat, bacon, cheese, and a special sauce. You can order the BK Stacker as a double, triple, or quadruple burger. Yes, you heard me right: you can order a burger that has four layers of beef patties, cheese, and bacon. That is honestly disgusting, but even more disturbing is the nutritional information for one of those beasts:

  • 1000 calories (620 from fat)
  • 68 grams of fat
  • 30 grams of saturated fat
  • 240 mg of cholesterol
  • 1800 mg of sodium
  • 34 grams of carbs
  • 62 grams of protein

That is more sodium and fat than you should be having in an entire day. And people who eat these BK Stackers don’t just eat a burger; they have fries and a soda too. I don’t blame Burger King for selling these monstrosities, but I have no sympathy for people who gorge themselves with food and waddle around like oversized Winnie the Poohs. I was at an ice cream shop a few months ago, when in walked tottered several elephantine women. But they didn’t go for the fat-free sorbet; oh no. They each had a triple-scoop ice cream cone. I sat at a table, licking my single-scoop, and I wondered what kind of example they were setting for their children.

[Edit: Upon further reflection, I decided that the last paragraph of this post was unnecessarily harsh. I don’t want to be rude, and the previous few paragraphs make my point well enough.]

Thanks to Elizabeth Swann for help with this post.

July 18, 2006

Pop Princess Poseurs

Posted in Celebrities, Health and Fitness, Music, Personal at 2:49 pm by Elizabeth Swann

Have any of you noticed how many of today’s pop artists sound terrible when singing live? It seems to me like they are out of tune for an entire song. I recently heard Kelly Clarkson, Cascada, and Rihanna sing live, and they were awful. It sounded like the way someone would sing at a karaoke bar. Of course these pop artists’ albums sound near-perfect, but if one cannot sing a decent song live then there is a serious problem. Anyone could make a CD and sound really good with all the right digital voice-enhancing techniques and everything else that is involved to get that crystal-clear sound. The real talent appears when one does not need enhancement; it is a natural voice that has been cultivated from years of experience.

While I must say I am a fan of some of these pop princesses, I think their music sells so well because of their bodies, as they have become more of sex symbols rather than being known for their vocals. The reason the average American’s music wouldn’t sell is because they don’t fit that “ideal” image. What kind of message does this send to young men and women? For men, it teaches them them to lust and to desire women who are sexually attractive. While this is damaging, it is even more so to young girls. They see what is desirable, and they feel like they have to fit this perfect image to be accepted. What may then ensue is a period, or even a lifetime, of self-consciousness about their weight and looks as they try to do anything within their reach to attain “perfection.” They often begin without even realizing the harmful effects on the body and mind.

Sadly to say, I have been caught up in this way of thinking–and the more obsessed I became, the more discontent I was with my body. Instead of being thankful for what I did have, I was constantly comparing myself with other girls and their waistlines. But I was never satisfied, even when I was close to reaching my ideal weight. Fortunately, I eventually realized the extent of my foolishness and my wrong way of thinking. I thought being thin would make me happy, but it never did. I was focusing on someone I could never be instead of becoming the woman I was intended to be. An outward beauty does not last, and I wouldn’t want a guy who wanted me just for my body. So with that mostly behind me (I’m sure I’ll always struggle a bit), I am now working on attaining that inner beauty which is of far more value and consequence in the long run. I know changing will be a long and challenging process, but it will be worth it all in the end. Life is too short and precious, and I don’t want to waste it on mere trivialities.

July 11, 2006

Tobacco: the new pandemic?

Posted in Celebrities, Health and Fitness, News at 11:04 pm by Calico Jack

A new reference guide, published by the American Cancer Society in conjunction with the WHO and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suggests that as many as a billion people could die as a direct result of tobacco use over the next hundred years. Currently, 1 in 5 deaths from cancer are linked to tobacco use, and lung cancer is the most diagnosed among the 10.9 million new cases every year.

With thousands of studies and decades of statistical evidence showing the harmful effects that tobacco has on the human body, why do so many people continue to ignore what is right in front of their eyes? Over 1.25 billion people currently use tobacco, and it is expected that the numbers will continue to gradually grow over the coming decades. If the WHO is correct in its estimates, tobacco use will kill ten times the number of people in the 21st century as it did in the 20th century. Unlike fifty years ago, however, the claims are now irrefutable: Tobacco is directly responsible for not only all kinds of cancers, but also severe cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Cigarettes are full of carcinogens and nitrosamines, and even non-smoking tobacco can cause cancer of the mouth and throat.

Again, I ask: Why? Why would anyone voluntarily choose to pump his body full of chemicals? It can no longer be that smoking is perceived as the cool thing to do. Years of public health warnings have given everyone all of the facts they need to make an informed decision. Even Hollywood, for the most part, doesn’t glamorize tobacco use like they did in the ’40s and ’50s. Yes, people still smoke in movies; but does anyone actually think “Wow, that’s so cool!” when they see Jude Law lighting up in Alfie? Throughout their lives, children are warned about the dangers of smoking. Yet somehow, every generation raises up a new wave of smokers to ruin their lungs and stain their teeth. When will it end? When will people finally wake up and say “No more!” to tobacco use? What will it take to break the mindset that one can be a smoker and stay healthy? Tobacco kills; it’s been proven time after time. And there are potentially a billion future deaths that could easily be avoided, but only if people choose to say no.

June 13, 2006

Pizza as a health food?

Posted in Food, Health and Fitness, Random Oddments at 9:07 pm by Calico Jack

I guess this is an older story, but Italian researchers are claiming that regularly eating pizza can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. Never mind that most pizzas are high in saturated fat and sodium. So load up on the grease! You won’t get cancer, but you will get fat. How’s that for a trade-off?