How Did Google Employees Lose 3.1 Million Calories in Weeks?

I got a bulletin on Linked In about Google employees cutting 3.1 million calories from their diets in a relatively short period. It piqued my curiosity to put it mildly.
images

The info is from a book written by Laszlo Bock ‘the visionary head of Google’s innovative People Operations,” entitled Work Rules! – Insights from Inside Google.

I was very happy to learn that the giant calorie cut was not a result of draconian rules in the cafeteria. Au contraire.Unknown

First of all, in case you didn’t know, Google supplies free meals and snacks to employees.

Second, as Bock points out, “… diet is one of the biggest controllable factors that affect health and longevity in the United States.”

Amen, brother. That’s what this blog here is all about: getting a handle on controllable factors that affect our health and longevity.

“We decided to test three types of intervention: providing information so that people could make better food choices, limiting options to healthy choices, and nudging. Of the three, nudges* were the most effective. Nudging involves subtly changing the structure of the environment without limiting choice,” Bock wrote.

Nudges? Like in wink, wink, nudge nudge?

“Nudging involves subtly changing the structure of the environment without limiting choice,” in Bock’s words.

Here is an example: After measuring the consumption of snacks to create a baseline, they put all the candy in opaque containers. In other words, just a little less visible. It was still there.

What happened? The proportion of total calories from candy fell 30 percent and the fat consumed dropped 40 percent as Googlers opted for granola bars, chips and fruit.

Management moved the experiment to the New York office and after seven weeks, the NY Googlers had eaten 3.1 million fewer calories, or the equivalent of 885 pounds.

So, nudging works … on others. Can we nudge ourselves?

Open your pantry door. Are the chips, candy and sugary cereals right there in the front?

Bock suggests that to lose weight, “Use smaller dishes — in fact, get rid of the big ones! Shuffle your pantry so the popcorn (easy on the butter!) is in front and tuck the chips and cereal behind the dry pasta and cans of tuna. Make it a little harder to grab a handful of chips. Hide the sweetened yogurts and drinks in the drawers of your fridge and put the fruits and veggies right in front. Put the fruit bowl in the middle of the counter. Yes, it’s in the way. That’s the point!

“You’ll be surprised by how different the same place can feel, and how easy it can be to change habits.”

I would be interested in hearing if any of you decide to do some nudging at home or the workplace.

Tony

Leave a comment

Filed under Google weight loss, Work Rules

How Healthy are Blueberries? – Infographic

One of the things to keep in mind about blueberries is that they are as healthy frozen as fresh, so you don’t need to wait for them to get ‘in season.’

photo1

Tony

Leave a comment

Filed under blueberries

How Exercise Makes You Happy – Infographic

There are so many positive effects from exercise I sometimes wonder how some folks could spend so much time avoiding it. Besides the aspects listed below, there are others that affect the ‘machinery’ of the brain, check my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits) to read further.

44fe28a319f22e95dcc3f850bc723282

Tony

1 Comment

Filed under brain, brain health, happiness

Healthy Cooking Tips From the Mayo Clinic

Besides eating less to control our weight, we can also prepare our food in such a way as to minimize empty calories and at the some times add nutrition as well as taste.

Herewith several easy cooking methods that can promote healthier eating from the desk of Dr. Robert Sheeler, Medical Editor of the Mayo Clinic Health Letter.
 •    Invest in nonstick cookware — Instead of pouring oil in a pan, use nonstick cookware and vegetable cooking sprays. One tablespoon of vegetable oil has 120 calories and 14 grams of fat, but a one-second spray has negligible calories and less than 1 gram of fat.

8e564ddb71f5ffbef7c799d2d4684b2f
•    Think flavor, not fat — Sauté vegetables such as onions, mushrooms or celery in a small amount of wine, broth, water, soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce. Keep a supply of onions, fresh garlic, ginger root, Dijon mustard, fresh lemons and limes, flavored vinegars, sherry or other wines, cornstarch (to thicken sauces), and plain fat-free yogurt.
•    Try different cooking methods — Microwave or steam vegetables. Then dress them up with flavored vinegars, herbs and spices. Cook fish in parchment paper or foil to seal in flavors and juices.

A while back I bought the Pasta Boat (Mr. Lazy Cook Cruises on the Pasta Boat) for fixing my pasta. It is also excellent for Steaming Broccoli in the Pasta Boat.
 •    Modify recipes — In most recipes, you can reduce sugar, salt and fat by one-third to one-half without sacrificing taste.
   •    Minimize meat — Decrease the amount of meat in casseroles and stews by one-third and add more vegetables, rice or pasta. Or, replace meat with beans, nuts, eggs or low-fat cheese. Buy lean cuts of meat.

Want more great health information? Visit the store now to see the latest products from Mayo Clinic doctors, specialists and editorial staff.

Tony

Leave a comment

Filed under lazy cook, Mayo Clinic Health Letter, Weight

How to Hide/Heal a Facial Scar – Chapter 2

Actually, this isn’t really chapter two, but it is the second blog post on hiding and healing a facial scar. I wrote the first one in August of 2013. You can read the post How Emu Oil and Coconut Oil Hid a Facial Scar. I wrote it a year after the Mohs surgery I had in 2012 and showed the result.

Now comes chapter two. Back in September of 2014 I went under the knife again as I had managed to accumulate two basal cell carcinomas. The first was on the other side of my face, symmetry anyone? The second on my back. As occurred the first time, I had about 15 stitches on my face and a scar extending longer than an inch. You can see it on the illustration below. In the interest of brevity, I am not going to do the scar on my back. This way we are comparing apples to apples.

That was six months ago. As I did before, I applied emu oil and coconut oil to the scar as soon as the bandages came off. Additionally, this year I began wet shaving with a double edge razor rather than the electric I had used for the past decades. I mention that because once I was allowed to shave again (about two weeks after the operation), I found that I nicked myself on the scar several times. That probably didn’t help the healing process much. On the other hand, I would use aloe vera on my face after shaving along with the emu oil and coconut oil. So, perhaps I had extra regenerative work going on.

What is the result? You can see for yourself below. The first photo was taken as soon as the bandages came off, about a week after the surgery.

I had to keep the dressing on for over a week, so this is the first time I could see it after the operation in September 2014.

I had to keep the dressing on for over a week, so this is the first time I could see it after the operation in September 2014.

Below is the second photo which my girlfriend shot this afternoon.

By my reckoning, this is an impressive healing over the course of six months

By my reckoning, this is an impressive healing over the course of six months.

I am very impressed with this healing. Remember, I am not a kid. I turned 75 in January of this year. So, I don’t heal like a youngster.

I would be interested in hearing about any similar experience that you might have had.

Tony

4 Comments

Filed under hiding a facial scar, Mohs surgery, Skin cancer surgery

5 Tips to Loving Exercise … or at Least Not Hating it – AHA

On yesterday’s heart health infographic, one of the “Life’s 7 Simple Keys to Prevention” was Get Moving. Over 50 per cent of Americans do not get the recommended 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous physical activity. Can it be any wonder that health care costs rise every year when there are so many of us who fail to do the minimum to keep ourselves healthy?

The third question to ask on the infographic was, “Am I making an effort or making excuses?” Some 14 per cent of visitors to a recent American Heart Association (AHA) survey said that they did not like exercising.

gym_vector_silhouettes

The AHA offers the following tips for those folks:

I thought I would pass them on. They quote Mercedes Carnethon, Ph.D., associate professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine as the source.

1. Find exercise that suits you
If you are social, do something that engages you, a group exercise class, kickball team or walk with a group of friends. If solo is more your style, walking or jogging might be a better fit. Regular readers know I have found bike riding as my answer.

One last example that springs to my mind is dancing. Because I love music, I always think of dancing as a super way to get a body moving. You can take a class, or just put on some music and do it at home. You will still get the same benefit from moving.

2. Make it a habit
“Exercise can become addictive in a positive way,” said Dr. Carnethon, who is also an American Heart Association volunteer. “Once it becomes a habit, you’ll notice when you aren’t doing something.”

This is a great idea. I look forward to my rides and consider them a priority in my day.

3. Build exercise into your lifestyle
“The key is building activity into your lifestyle so it is not disruptive,” Dr. Carnethon said. If you aren’t near a gym, it may be harder to become a habit for you. There are lots of ways to fit exercise into your life without a large financial commitment. Borrow exercise videos from the library, or record an exercise program off TV. I know that YouTube has an amazing amount of videos available right on your computer on every subject imaginable, including any kind of exercise you could want. She suggests walking as a great option. All you need is a good pair of shoes. I second that in spades. Check out my Page – Why You Should Walk More for more info on the many benefits of walking. Don’t forget, walking is weight bearing exercise, so it is good for your bones, too.

4. Do bouts of exercise
It is all right to break up physical activity into smaller segments. The AHA recommends 30 minutes a day of exercise most days, but if that sounds overwhelming, try three 10-minute workout sessions.

Walk to work, or walk a block or two to the train/bus to work. Climb a few flights of stairs instead of taking the elevator all the way up. Going shopping, park farther from the store and walk to and from it. There are lots of ways you can build in walking into your life.

5. Keep going
If you miss a day or a workout, don’t sweat it. Everybody struggles at some point. Just get back on the exercise horse the next day. “It doesn’t take too long to get back on track,” Dr. Carnethon said. “It’s easy to make something a habit again. You will see same benefits before. Any little bit you can fit in will show benefits.”

A good example of this is my recent trip when I couldn’t ride my bike for five days. I wrote Good Eating Habits Die Hard in Las Vegas.

It’s a cliche to say, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” but it’s true, your good health is up to you.

Tony

Leave a comment

Filed under American Heart Association, Exercise, heart

Power Naps Produce A Significant Improvement Memory Performance

Tony:

The research teams draws a clear conclusion from its study: ‘A short nap at the office or in school is enough to significantly improve learning success. Wherever people are in a learning environment, we should think seriously about the positive effects of sleep,’ says Axel Mecklinger. Enhancing information recall through sleeping doesn’t require us to stuff bulky tomes under our pillow. A concentrated period of learning followed by a short relaxing sleep is all that’s needed.

To read more, check out my Page: How Important is a Good Night’s Sleep?

Tony

Originally posted on Cooking with Kathy Man:

Generations of school students have gone to bed the night before a maths exam or a vocabulary test with their algebra book or vocabulary notes tucked under their pillow in the hope that the knowledge would somehow be magically transferred into their brains while they slept. That they were not completely taken in by a superstitious belief has now been demonstrated by a team of neuropsychologists at Saarland University, who have shown that even a brief sleep can significantly improve retention of learned material in memory.

Sara Studte, a graduate biologist specializing in neuropsychology, working with her PhD supervisor Axel Mecklinger and co-researcher Emma Bridger, is examining how power naps influence memory performance. The results are clear: ‘Even a short sleep lasting 45 to 60 minutes produces a five-fold improvement in information retrieval from memory,’ explains Axel Mecklinger.

Strictly speaking, memory performance did not improve in the nap group relative…

View original 399 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under brain, sleep

How At Risk Am I For Heart Disease? – Infographic

Cardiovascular disease is the leading global cause of death, accounting for 17.3 million deaths per year, a number that is expected to grow to more than 23.6 million by 2030, according to the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association.

ginormous

Once again we find that stopping smoking is one of the keys to a healthy heart. Check out my Page How Many Ways Does Smoking Harm You? for more details.

Tony

2 Comments

Filed under heart disease, heart problems

40 Facts About Fitness – Infographic

I couldn’t resist this one. There are loads of great facts below. Here is just one that caught my eye. If you are 25 pounds overweight, you have nearly 5,000 extra miles of blood vessels through which your heart must pump blood. How’s that for a reason to get yourself together.

Check out my Page – How to Lose Weight (and Keep it Off) for more.

 

12112f87730703c7e5f1ee958bfeb6f1

Tony

1 Comment

Filed under fitness facts, infographic

Eating a Big Breakfast Fights Obesity and Disease

Tony:

And the benefits went far beyond pounds and inches. Participants who ate a larger breakfast — which included a dessert item such as a piece of chocolate cake or a cookie — also had significantly lower levels of insulin, glucose, and triglycerides throughout the day, translating into a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol.

Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal reported on the importance of when you eat. Check out my post: When You Eat Each Day Important to Weight Loss – Wall Street Journal.

Tony

Originally posted on Cooking with Kathy Man:

A high-calorie breakfast protects against diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular problems, says TAU researcher

Whether you hope to lose weight or just stay healthy, what you eat is a crucial factor. The right nutrients can not only trim your waistline, but also provide energy, improve your mood, and stave off disease. Now a Tel Aviv University researcher has found that it’s not just what you eat — but when.

Metabolism is impacted by the body’s circadian rhythm — the biological process that the body follows over a 24 hour cycle. So the time of day we eat can have a big impact on the way our bodies process food, says Prof. Daniela Jakubowicz of TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Diabetes Unit at Wolfson Medical Center. In a recent study, she discovered that those who eat their largest daily meal at breakfast are far more likely to lose weight and…

View original 528 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under big breakfast

Diet Soda Linked to Larger Waistlines of Older Adults – Study

In a study of people over age 65 for a nine year period, individuals who drank diet sodas had a noticeably larger waistline than those who didn’t.

Lead author, Dr. Sharon P.G. Fowler of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, said that research in other age groups has directly linked drinking diet sodas with higher risk of diabetes, metabolic syndrome and preterm birth.

soft-drinks

The article was published online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Those people who did not drink diet soda gained an average of 0.8 inches in waist circumference over the nine-year period compared to 1.83 inches for occasional diet soda drinkers and more than three inches for people who drank diet soda every day, according to the results.

Reuters reported that ““It cannot be explained by the calories,” said Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, who was not involved in the study.

People who drink diet soda may be more likely to overeat in other areas, he told Reuters Health.

“The main point is for those who drink a lot of soda, diet or not, there may be a relationship with obesity,” Lopez-Jimenez said.”

As regular readers know, I feel strongly that diet and sugary sodas should be consumed very sparingly. I, personally, don’t drink more than one a month if I can help it. There are chemicals in the diet drink that suppress the satiety response in humans which results in overeating and weight gain.

Please check out my Page What’s Wrong with Soft Drinks
for more details.

Tony

Leave a comment

Filed under big waistline, diet soda, soft drinks

Having A Purpose in Life May Improve Health of Aging Brain

Tony:

“Purpose in life differs for everyone and it is important to be thoughtful about what motivates you, (such as volunteering, learning new things, or being part of the community) so you can engage in rewarding behaviors,” said Lei Yu, Ph.D., study lead author and assistant professor of neurological sciences at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center.

Regular readers know that I have a special sensitivity to Alzheimer’s and dementia because two people in my family suffered from them. To read more on the brain please check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain.

Tony

Originally posted on Cooking with Kathy Man:

Having a strong sense that your life has meaning and direction may make you less likely to develop areas of brain damage caused by blockages in blood flow as you age. This research is reported in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke.

When a blockage interrupts blood flow in a vessel within the brain, a stroke can result or brain tissue can be damaged. This damaged tissue, called infarcts, may contribute to dementia, movement problems, disability, and death as people age.

“Mental health, in particular positive psychological factors such as having a purpose in life, are emerging as very potent determinants of health outcomes,” said Patricia Boyle. Ph.D., study co-author and associate professor of behavioral sciences at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “Clinicians need to be aware of patients’ mental state and encourage behaviors that will increase purpose and other positive emotional states.”

View original 266 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under brain, aging, brain health

6 Things That Damage the Brain – Infographic

Because both Alzheimer’s and dementia run in my family, I am acutely aware of my own brain health as well as anything that might be damaging to it.

On the positive side, check out my Page Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits) as well as Important Facts About Brain Fitness.

2015+-+1-3

The final item names smoking. To learn more about the damage smoking does to your body and your general health, check out my Page How Many Ways Does Smoking Harm You?

Tony

1 Comment

Filed under brain, brain health

22 Ways Dogs Make Humans Better – Infographic

As a dog lover and fitness enthusiast, I had to love this poster and share it with you.

Regular readers know that my dog Gabi has been my companion for nearly nine years. She is my first dog in over 50 years. You can read the peculiar story of how I came to own her in this post: Anatomy of an Act of Kindness.

In case some of these benefits seem nebulous, check out my post What is the Value of Hugging? and also 10 Reasons Why Oxytocin Is The Most Amazing Molecule In The World for some documentation.

3e855e14fc98d04d4bd2c8870180315d

Tony

1 Comment

Filed under benefits of owning a dog

Good Eating Habits Die Hard in Las Vegas

I have said elsewhere and written here time and again that I feel I have total confidence in my ability to maintain my current weight of 155 pounds, having done that for the last five years.

HOWEVER, that statement is based on the assumption that I am home and in total control of what I eat, preparing most of my own meals. Also, it assumes that I am able to ride my bike an average of about 20 miles a day. Clearly, that much exercise covers a multitude of sins.

Las-Vegas-960-x-420

At the end of February I went with my girlfriend to Las Vegas to celebrate our second anniversary together. In this case, what happened in Las Vegas isn’t going to stay there.

First of all, I realized that I was going to be eating a lot of wonderfully prepared foods. That fact could be a big potential stumbling block for my weight control program. Secondly, no way was I going to be pedaling 20 miles a day on a bike. There are health clubs in the big hotels, HOWEVER, again, I am leery about exercising in Las Vegas. The altitude is 2500 feet above sea level and my body reacts poorly to that. I almost fell off an exercise bike a few years back after just 20 minutes of riding as a result of this altitude. The bottom line is that I limit my exercise to walking around casinos and sight seeing. Not a lot of calories burned that way.

So, I made a policy decision about eating. I was definitely going to enjoy indulging in the culinary fare available. After all, we were there to celebrate. I didn’t want to spoil it being a calorie cop. If I gained a pound or two in the five days we were there, so be it. I felt sure that I could burn them off once I got back home.

I am not going to bore you with pictures from the dozen or so meals
that we ate there. But, I have selected some dishes that I think represented our dining experiences over the period.

This was a pasta dinner at Rao's in Caesars Palace. Delicious meal on our first night.

This was a pasta dinner at Rao’s in Caesars Palace. Delicious meal.

The next day we ate at a little French cafe in Paris, our hotel. This sandwich is bacon and cheddar cheese melted on a croissant.

This was mouth watering and I have to believe it ran close to 1000 calories.

This was mouth wateringly delicious and I have to believe it ran close to 1000 calories.

We would have desserts at dinners, but split them rather than each go crazy with one.

I think this chocolate and whipped cream covered crepe came from another of the French restaurants in Paris.

I think this chocolate and whipped cream covered crepe came from another of the French restaurants in Paris.

Although we don’t usually do the buffets in Las Vegas because there is so much food on them, we did one on this trip. One of the entrees was crab legs.

Bucket of crab legs from the buffet.

Bucket of crab legs from the buffet.

Our anniversary was February 28 and we celebrated at Nobu in Caesars Palace. I have been eating sushi since I was first introduced to it in the mid-1970’s at a press party. I love it and eat it often. I can honestly say that in close to 40 years of eating sushi I have never experienced anything like the dishes at Nobu. I believe there are 35 of them in a number of cities all over the country. If you have a chance and a few extra dollars, I recommend a celebration dinner at one.

Beside being gorgeously laid out, this was literally melt in your mouth delicious.

Besides being gorgeously presented, this black cod was literally melt in your mouth delicious.

The final dish was our dessert at Nobu. I was so impressed with the way they decorated the plate.

This was some kind of melted chocolate pastry that simply exceeded my descriptive powers.

This was some kind of melted chocolate pastry that simply exceeded my descriptive powers.

Again, we split the dessert.

Just to fill in some details, we did go back to the little diner at Paris and I had their ham and gruyere croissant sandwich which was equally delicious and caloric.

This was another food court meal, a strawberry crepe with whipped cream. Again, we split it.

This was another food court meal, a strawberry crepe with whipped cream. Again, we split it.

 

The final night we went downtown to the Chicago Brewery and Pizza parlor in the Four Queens Hotel and Casino. We split a couple of pizzas and wrapped up the remainder to eat on the plane going home.

Okay, that should give you a pretty good idea of the kind of eating we did in four nights over five days in Las Vegas. Put your hand over the next paragraphs and guess – How much weight do you think I gained?

Full disclosure, I figured I had added about two pounds on the trip and I was committed to some serious biking and exercise upon return.

I hope you did as I did and made some kind of a guess about my weight. The following morning, I tipped the scale at … 155 pounds. Incredibly, I didn’t add a pound.

I can’t explain that. My girlfriend said it was because we walked so much, but at my weight walking a mile only burns around 90 calories. I don’t think we walked that many miles. But, the scale doesn’t lie.

The only thing I can think of is that I didn’t snack much between meals and we stuck to a regular schedule of meals. As I said at the top, “Good eating habits die hard.” I think I have become hard-wired to balance my intake and output. I didn’t get silly at a bunch of buffets and I didn’t fret at any point in the trip about what I was eating.

If you have any observations, I would be pleased to hear them.

Tony

I have written about trips to Las Vegas previously: Is it Possible to Enjoy Las Vegas and Control Your Weight? Thoughts on Aging in Las Vegas, What Happens in Las Vegas …”

8 Comments

Filed under Las Vegas

How to Be More Optimistic

Tony:

Reframe your frustrations. Researchers at the University of Kent in England found that people who strived to see the positive side of things that went wrong – rather than venting to friends about what went wrong, or blaming themselves for small failures – were happier and more satisfied at the end of the day.

optimism
To read further on positive thinking, check out my posts:
What is Positive Psychology?
Breaking down 8 Barriers to Positive Thinking – Infographic
How to Become a Positive Thinker
Positive Thoughts To Dwell On
How to Harness Positive Psychology for You – Harvard
Positive, Happy People Suffer Less Pain

Tony

 

Originally posted on Our Better Health:

Perspective is everything, and you can learn to change a negative outlook.

By Colleen Oakley      WebMD Magazine – Feature Reviewed by Patricia A. Farrell, PhD

Think happy thoughts. Find the silver lining. Look on the bright side.

Rolling your eyes yet? Alexandra Hruz is. She’s a 27-year-old self-proclaimed pessimist who lives in Chattanooga, TN. “When people are overly optimistic, it’s much easier to be let down by circumstances,” she says. “I don’t think the world is going to end tomorrow, but I also don’t like to hang my hopes on things working out on their own, simply by the power of positive thinking.”

But experts say positive thinking has serious benefits that go beyond a perky attitude. According to a recent study from the University of Pittsburgh, women who expect good things to happen have a 30% lower risk for heart disease.

Optimism was also linked to a…

View original 283 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under optimism, Positive Psychology, positivity