Monday, March 31, 2008

The Raw Truth About Healthy Sushi

Traditional Japanese sushi is a dieter's dream, thanks to its heart-friendly, low-fat ingredients. But this is America, and we like to supersize. What started out as truly lean cuisine now arrives on platters for one that could easily feed a family of four. Likewise, Japanese sushi kitchens don't use oil or mayo, but chances are your favorite sushi bar serves fried shrimp cooked in trans fats and spicy tuna full of mayo. What's a calorie-counting sushi lover to do? For starters, don't tackle a 20-piece sushi boat yourself! Next, get the skinny on the four fattest and leanest choices right here.

The Heavy Weights:
1. Tempura rolls: Any tempura dish is a big-time fat fest. A shrimp tempura roll, for example, can deliver 500 calories and 20 grams of fat, not to mention the boosted cholesterol from the breading and frying.

2. Spicy tuna and other mayo-based rolls: Before you order, ask if the minced fish is mixed with mayonnaise. If so, that delicate roll may harbor as many as 450 calories and 11 grams of fat.

3. Philadelphia rolls: Think they make those in Japan? Calories for a roll start at 300 and rise, depending on how much cream cheese is used. Here’s a hint: Two tablespoons of cream cheese add 10 grams of fat (6 saturated), and some recipes use four times that amount.

4. Dragon rolls and pretty much anything else made with eel and/or toro: Just 1 ounce of raw eel has 3 grams fat, and toro -- sliced from the fatty belly of tuna -- packs a shocking 7 grams per ounce. The fat is the heart-healthy omega-3 kind, so if eaten sparingly, an occasional indulgence may be okay.

The Lean and The Clean:
1. Assorted sashimi: Sashimi is sliced fish a la carte, and by omitting the rice, you save 30 calories per piece. Plus, by eating an assortment of fish -- white, red, oily -- You get the flavors and benefits of each. For instance, delicate white fish has fewer calories, while richer mackerel and salmon have more omega-3s.

2. Veggie rolls: Cucumber rolls and tangy pickled vegetable rolls are free of fat and provide a pleasantly crunchy contrast to the soft texture of fish sushi -- and at only about 150 calories a roll. For a vegetarian entree that packs heart-friendly fat as well as some iron and protein, try a shiitake, avocado, and pickled-ginger roll. Yummo!  As a bonus, that little sheet of seaweed holding your roll together gives you calcium, vitamins C and K, and folate.

3. Edamame (soybeans): Okay, fine.  They’re not actually sushi, but you will find them at any sushi bar and they’re great for you. Soybeans are full of fiber, folate, iron, and protein. Half a cup of steamed edamame has 127 calories and an amazing 11 grams of protein.

4. Tako (octopus) or ika (squid): Though they are high in cholesterol, both are even higher in protein, B vitamins, iron, selenium, and taurine, an amino acid that helps keep your arteries, heart, and eyes healthy.  They contain almost no fat and only 25 calories an ounce.
There you have it -- sushi the way it ought to be: naturally healthy.  Enjoy!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Kill A Cold

I just got back from a 12 day BeachBody mega-trip. A few days in Anaheim California at the big money give-away, then off to Maui at the first ever coaches event and finishing up in Philadelphia at QVC. Planes, trains, automobiles 
and plenty of contact with people, places and things during and between events. The miricle is that I arrived back home in LA, sleep deprived across 6 times zones without a cold or flu. Did I get lucky, or was it something I did, or better yet, didn't do? Back in the day, I'd walk to my mailbox and catch a cold. For a fit guy my immune system was weak as a kitten. I think the reason was was STRESS! Turns out fretting makes you sick even if you're eating well and exercising. At the ripe age of 49+ I'm finally learning to let go of the "catastrophizing." East coast Italian people like to worry. Ask my man Nick. I'm not Gandhi yet but I'm a hell of a lot better than I used to be. Travel always made me nervous, so constipation and a head cold were commonplace whenever I left my zip code for more than 24 hours. I honestly believe that I've survived this cold season (so far) because I'm rolling with the bunches more and letting go of the outcome on things.    

This doesn't mean I'll never get a cold again, so I'm prepared to nip the next one in the bud. You know how it happens. All of a sudden you feel that scratch in your throat and your energy starts to go south. It's coming!  You're in the early stages of a damn cold. Here's the crazy thing... catching a cold or flu once in a while can actually help you stay healthy over the long run, by ridding your body of its weakest cells. But maybe you’ve got other plans for the next few days.  If you catch it in the beginning, here is how you can beat that cold before it wreaks havoc on your body, your mood, and your productivity:
As soon as you notice that sore, tickly feeling in your throat, break out the warm salt water and gargle deep.  REALLY, just like mom said.  Tilt your head back and gargle aggressively. You may even want to tap your throat with your fingers (in the “Adams apple” region) to encourage the warm salt water to trickle deeply into your throat.  Do this several times in one sitting and repeat it as often as you can throughout the day. Yep.  That’s all you have to do – if you catch it early enough, this simple technique can kill that cold. Viruses that cause colds and flus typically get caught in your tonsils and adenoids before they spread through the body.  Warm salt water can actually remove viruses from the tonsils and adenoids that line the back of your throat.  If you can knock them out before they get past your body’s first line of defense, the cold doesn’t get a chance to develop.
If you gargle your brains out and still end up developing a full-blown cold, take comfort in knowing that the virus and immune system are fast at work destroying your weakest cells.  Rest, drink plenty of fluids, and blow your nose as often as it runs to help your body purge what it’s trying to get rid of. Take good care of your health and immune system by consistently making healthy diet and lifestyle choices, getting plenty of rest and dealing with stress. If you do, you can keep your cells strong enough to avoid getting infected by viruses in the first place.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Another Johnny Classic

"Crystal Mountain, here we come."  That was the chant Tony and I had ringing in our ears.  It all seemed so perfect, Crystal had a ton of snow, we could ski a few days with Stanman on his home turf (not *ALPENTAL* to be sure, but great nonetheless), Tony's friend Steve H would be there - things were shaping up. 
On closer inspection though, the plan had flaws.  A horrid warm spell with precipitation was due to hit.  Nothing like a little "liquid sunshine" to brighten your ski day.  Also, Stan would be busy with work, maybe we could hook up for part of one day.  Momentum on this mini trip was leaking like natural gas through Tony's prodigious abdomen.  What to do - contemplation was in order.  I did what any fair minded, capable, and concerned bud would do.  I went skiing. 
Oh, I had many other things I should have been doing, but it had been days (3) since I was on snow and I was feeling the itch.  Plus there was a few (3) inches of fresh out there.  I tried to make sure it would be a short day, so I left without money, water, snacks or batteries.  It didn't work - I stayed most of the day and had a ball, though I tested the limits of hunger and thirst.  It did however, energize my skiing spirit.  With renewed vigor I saw a new plan.  A bold plan.  Warm, wet Seattle - Out.  Cold, snowy Utah - IN.
By now it was Friday and we were planning our trip for the following Mon.  Was this even possible (nevermind practical).  As if contrived by a higher being, or perhaps I should say intelligent design, the plan unfolded.  We could fly to Utah relatively cheaply, I found digs at the Goldminer's Daughter - just in front of the Collins lift at Alta, Dale was available to join in.  Best of all, snow was in the forecast, or at least it was on Thursday, when we were planning.  By Sunday, things changed, and it showed sunny everyday.  Oh well, at least we were going to Utah.
We arrived on Monday afternoon, the final day of the Prez Day weekend holiday.  Bright, sunny, very busy day on the hill.  We got psyched as the forecast revised yet again to indicate a chance of snow on Wed and Thurs.  Each day of this adventure was distinct, filled with challenges rewards and a bit of pain.
Day One (Tuesday) was a bright sunny day, like so many others we have experienced at Alta.  The snow was baked into concrete, the sun broiled us.  We ventured to our old stomping grounds at Devil's Castle and found much more snow than last year but similar conditions.  Like last year we also hiked up to Baldy Chutes searching for the fresh, but found the hard.  Still, the skiing was challenging, steep, tight, fun.  The heat was bothersome and twice on the hike I had to strip down to bare skin (insert Power 90 reference here).  We skied hard all day, taking a physical beating in the sun on the hard, bumpy surfaces.  By the end of the day I was exhausted - Tony wanted to work out!
Day Two (Wed) we planned to connect with Dale who worked the ER till 3 AM.  He planned to meet us at lunch at Snowbird.  We skied the Bird all day, and found ourselves at the Gad 2 lift skiing the STH tree lines over and over and over again.  It was by far the best, most forgiving snow.  Plus the steep lines were fun and both of us were on fire, shredding the tightest lines, trying to make Manimal and Stanman proud.  The constant question on our minds was "What would they do?"  We hooked up with Dale after lunch and brought him into our playground.  We even spotted Jane on the tram.  We ended the day by going through the tunnel and entering Mineral Basin, on our way back over to Alta.  The slopes had been slaked into unforgiving concrete.  Chicken heads grabbed and prodded us the whole way down through an eerie, unnerving fog.  It was a brutal end to a great day.  But hey, at least it was snowing, and at least we finally got through the tunnel (a little anti-climactic).
Day Three (Thurs) The consistent but light snow continued all night and we had 2-inches of fresh on top of the "firm" base we had experienced the previous days.  I broke out my new fat Rossi B-Squad skis, and we headed into Rustler country.  Again we went into the steepest, tightest lines available trying to make the boys proud.  The new snow was fun and much appreciated.  Tony and I shredded one line after another, again and again, with no one coming anywhere near our area.  Of course, each lap required the adventurous trek along the High Traverse, but it wasn't like last year when rocks, sticks, and other unknowns downgraded the path to perilous.  As these runs wore on, I began to tire.  It was so much harder skiing these fat heavy monsters in the tight and steep.  Controlling speed became harder and harder until I found myself sitting back and letting the mountain ski me.  It culminated in a crash where I went down head first and slid about 100 yards before I finally flipped myself over and stopped.  Only by divine intervention was my head saved from concussion number 5 (or worse).  We decided to head in for lunch so I could recuperate and recalibrate.  On the way to lunch I had another digger in the hard bumps.  This time it knocked the wind out of me and I was hurting and stunned.  When I found Tony at lunch, I looked like a St Bernard had just dragged me in.  I hadn't been hit like that since my hockey playing days. 
A smarter man might have quit right there.  It had been a great day so far.  We had our thrills, we had our untracked lines, we had our powder hoots.  Fortunately, I am not smart.  After lunch, I went back to the lodge unpacked my other skis, switched them out, and met Tony at Wildcat.  After a few turns, the feeling in my body came back, the pain subsided, the joy resumed.  We went back to the Rustler lines and shredded until the end of the day.  By the last traverse to the base, I could barely walk.  I was definitely at my limit.  We packed up all our wet stuff, got in the van and left.  Tony visited the Peruvian on the way down and snagged some of the afternoon fresh-baked cookies (I know you remember those), and I settled into a comfortable trance. 
By the time I got home, I was absolutely spent.  My body was fever-like and I suffered from alternating cold chills and hot sweats all night.  Four days later, I'm still sore.  Everything hurts.  My ribs, back, legs and shins stand out as mentionable.  Looking back, it was a great last minute trip.  I like that I reached the limits of my endurance.  I liked that we pushed our skiing farther and that we both had moments of glory and despair.  I liked that we lived the dream, dropping the real world for a few days to feed the addiction, have some laughs, and share the joy.  Its like living the novel instead of reading it.
If anyone wants to have another last minute adventure, keep me in mind - I'm game.  Or at least I will be after another day or so!! 
Looking forward to CB.
Rock On

Monday, March 03, 2008

Stress Buster

We all deal with certain amounts of stress in our daily lives, and to pretend we can resolve the “stress issue” here in a few brief paragraphs, could uh…stress me out. Ha! But in order to get a handle on stress, we need to understand what it is, and how it affects our health for good or bad. Not all stress is bad, certain stresses, called eustress, allow us to feel most of the euphoric events in our lives – like the thrill of a roller coaster or meeting a challenge - and has a positive effect on us both mentally and physically. But when stress remains unresolved, either through not coping or not adapting, it can turn into distress and cause emotional and physical consequences as well. One kind of stress can lead to growth and leaning while the other can make you ill.

In 1956, Hans Selye researched a model on stress called the General Adaptation Syndrome. This model attempts to define the different levels of stress, giving us a clearer understanding of them. The G.A.S. (add your joke here) has three levels:

  1. Alarm:  This is our bodies’ natural response to stressful stimulus and is there to protect us. Often known as the “fight or flight” syndrome.
  2. Resistance:  If the stress persists, it is necessary to find some way of coping with it. If coping does not happen, the bodies’ resources are slowly depleted.
  3. Exhaustion:  The bodies’ resources are eventually depleted; the immune system is exhausted. The result can manifest itself in various ways such as ulcers, depression, cardiovascular problems, decreased digestion, even an increase in such diseases as diabetes or cancer.
Countless studies on stress have shown it's profound impact on our well-being. These studies also express the importance of finding coping mechanisms to deal with it.  One of the most effective ways of coping is – you guessed it – exercise.

During "stress response" around 1500 biochemical reactions occur in the body. Some of these reactions come from our prehistoric brothers and sisters, where stress was a necessary reaction for survival. Most stress in the modern world comes from psychosocial stimulus and our harmful physical reactions to it, have nothing to do with survival. We just think it does. The big problem is that the chemical byproducts from these reactions (to said stimuli) are still floating around inside of us, unresolved, and in concentrations our bodies can’t handle, leaving us vulnerable to sickness and disease. Regular exercise is shown to be useful in removing these chemicals by duplicating the “fight or flight” response. It allows the body to return to homeostasis (a stable and balanced physiological state) faster, and thus reducing the effects of stress on our systems.

Whether it's yoga, running skiing, swimming, Slim In Six or P90X, any form of physical activity, especially repetitive ones, seem to have a positive result. Exercise not only helps release damaging chemicals during stress, it actually releases dopamine and other brain goodies that make us feel euphoric and calm us down. Physical activity also releases endorphins, which has a similar chemical reaction in the body as some opiates (even though the research is still ongoing and somewhat controversial) 

Exercise can also help us with another component of stress; psychological or mental stress. It can foster feelings of self-confidence and self esteem. Many find the solitude of workout time to be a period for introspection and healthy escape. When we exercise with others, play soccer, softball or gather together in WOWY, we gain a sense of community and connect emotionally with others. Regular exercise helps us sleep better, it reduces muscular tension, decreases boredom, it builds our immune system to better fight off common everyday disease and illness. All these factors contribute to overall health and help us combat the effects of stress.  

It is up to each of us to do our own research in order to understand stress better and how we can best resolve it in our own lives. Through trial and error find out which combination of coping mechanisms work best for you, either mental, physical or both, to put you on the right path to live a healthier and happier life.