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Thursday, February 22, 2007

One step at a time

"Diet & Exercise"

Those are the two ugly words that get tossed at me by my lovely wife (she of the regular Pilates and yoga work-outs) whenever I express dissatisfaction with my, er,  'shape'. 

It's not that I've been living under a rock and somehow wasn't aware of this important formula... but it's still frustrating to have it thrown in my face since even if you add the prefixes; 'poor...' and 'lack of...' to those two magic words, they still cover a significant portion of my waking existence.

Think about it... to change the way you eat requires not only a drastic departure from well loved routines and menus, but also a change in planning and shopping so that the new, healthier food choices are always readily available when all you really want to shovel into your maw is 'crap'.

As to increasing the amount of physical activity one performs, that's far easier said than done.  You see, most of us have little or no 'down time' in a typical day just waiting to be filled by some new exercise regimen.  So finding time to exercise means foregoing something that we're already doing (and presumably find important).   

Or does it?

I've mentioned on a few occasions that I look to a few online physicians (Book of Joe, Doctor Bean, Pyschotoddler and Dr. Albert Fuchs, to name a few) to help demystify some of the medspeak on the web... and to occasionally offer unsolicited advice on how to keep my aging carcass on the green side of the grass.

Well, a couple of months ago I noticed a little blurb on Dr. Fuch's site about a 'pedometer project' he was setting up for his patients, and I decided to send him an email to ask him what it was all about.

Long story short, he said that he was giving his patients pedometers (a tiny device one wears on their belt) so that they (and he) could monitor how far they walk, and (hopefully) use this new awareness to constantly increase the amount of walking they did.

It seemed like a brilliant idea to me.  I mean, we all walk a little bit, don't we?  The problem is that we don't really quantify this mundane activity so we don't count it as exercise..  It stands to reason that if you become acutely aware of how much you're walking... y'know, some concrete benchmark (i.e. how many steps you are taking in a given day, week or month), over time you will naturally want to make small improvements and constantly 'beat your record'.

I asked Dr. Fuch's if I could take part in the project, thinking that I would pick up a pedometer for myself at the local sporting goods store.  But to my surprise he told me he would be happy to send me one.  When I got back from my trip to India it was waiting on the kitchen table for me!

[Important NotePLEASE don't ask him to send you a free pedometer.  They are really cheap and every camping and sporting goods store on the planet carries a nice selection... so be a sport and go buy your own.  The only reason he sent me - a non-patient - one is that I once carried him over the border from Tijuana on my back after he had passed out drunk in a little cantina we had been visiting together.  Oh yeah, and I arranged to have his Mexican marriage annulled on the grounds that he wasn't technically awake when the wedding vows were exchanged.]


Having this tiny little plastic thingy clipped to my belt has given me a profound new awareness of when and how far I walk.  Not only that... I find myself creating new excuses to walk where I might have otherwise put something off or combined it with another outing.

Every 15 days all the participants in the pedometer project email their results to the Doc (obviously it is run on the honor system) and at the end of each month he announces that month's winner.

Even without being enrolled in the project, I can't get over what a motivator it is having this tiny thing on my belt. You can get daily, weekly and even monthly readouts of steps taken or distance walked (in km or miles)... so as long as you somehow make note of your results on a regular basis, the motivation to constantly improve is built in!

Since putting this little device on my belt I have discovered all sorts of reasons to walk.  I have also figured out that a stroll around the the perimeter of my company's campus is exactly 1 km... and takes less than 10 minutes to complete.  I now do 'a loop' either before or after lunch and don't miss the time at all.

I don't know about any of you but in my experience, buying an expensive Nordic Track, elliptical trainer, Stair Master, treadmill or stationary bike is doomed to failure.  Been there, done that, got the tee shirt!  Sure, you use the thing like crazy when you first get it home... but our Nordic track served as a very handy coat and hat rack for most of the years we lived in Connecticut (not to mention that it took up valuable space that we couldn't really spare). 

This tiny, nearly weightless, pedometer has done more to motivate me to get my fat arse out of my office chair during the day than all the exercise equipment I've ever owned... combined!

So consider this a resounding endorsement of pedometers in general... and of Dr. Fuchs in particular.


Posted by David Bogner on February 22, 2007 | Permalink


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Thanks. Same boat and all.

Any recommendation, brands, or locations, etc? Any way I can give you a piece of the action via clickthrough?


Posted by: Yehuda Berlinger | Feb 22, 2007 2:48:02 PM

I don't have a pedometer (yet) but we didn't have a car when we arrived....and walking home from ulpan (and to Talpiot, and to the supermarket, and to the bank, post office, etc.) every day took off 15 pounds. We now have a car. I'm still walking...

Posted by: aliyah06 | Feb 22, 2007 4:18:14 PM

Awww... Shucks. You're welcome. And you've lost a couple of pounds too! Keep it up!

Posted by: Albert Fuchs | Feb 22, 2007 4:34:04 PM

the house we rented for next year has a big flight of stairs in front of the front door. i'm hoping a few months of schlepping groceries and such up said stairs will take off the "stress weight" we are in the process of gaining!

Posted by: rachel | Feb 22, 2007 4:41:47 PM

Ay, Dios mio! Senor Bogner, donde esta mi esposo? Yo quiero Dr Fuchs!

Posted by: Lupe Fuchs | Feb 22, 2007 5:42:09 PM

I've been trying to walk more. Using a pedometer to track progress sounds like a great idea for motivation. There is an REI about a half mile from my office, I should drive over and get one! (or wait for the ice to melt, then walk over)

Posted by: Nighthawk700 | Feb 22, 2007 5:53:31 PM

The problem is that some of us already walk a lot, and are STILL carrying around the extra weight. I added in walking up the stairs to my apartment on non-shabbes days (14 flights!) and still no difference.

I guess that I'm going to have to suck it up and join a gym.

Posted by: Annie | Feb 22, 2007 6:07:18 PM

I once carried him over the border from Tijuana on my back after he had passed out drunk in a little cantina we had been visiting together

That is your solution to all of your exercise needs. Keep carrying the good doctor. You'll still be walking and receive the added benefit of weight training too.

Posted by: Jack | Feb 22, 2007 6:54:39 PM

As my friend Strong Bad says:

Everyone is different.

No two people are the same.

So you have to look at yourself with real honesty and figure out what will work for you.

The pedometer project is a great start. I did this a few years ago as part of my volunteer work at a local college, and I was shocked--shocked at how much I was walking every day. And yet I still wasn't losing weight.

The truth is you DO need to dedicate time to daily, dedicated exercise if you want to lose weight. And not just 10 or fifteen minutes. You're looking at an hour if you really want to take the pounds off.

Personally, I have found that a good exercise bike situated in front of a brand new HDTV with a DVD player works wonders for my figure.

Posted by: psychotoddler | Feb 22, 2007 8:09:10 PM

I work out at one of the AMerican Ladies' Circuit gyms. Last spring they gave us all pedometers and admonished us to do 10,000 steps every day!!!! The problem is that it's very easy to lose the pedometers. You have to be careful where you attach them to your body. If you wear dresses or jumpers for example, the pedometer won't be accurate if you clip it to your shoulder or neckline. I wound up clipping mine to my sock one day. And I lost it finally, when I had it clipped on to the waistband of my jeans. But definitely, it's supposed to be 10000 steps a day!

Good luck.
Helene in California

Posted by: Helene | Feb 22, 2007 8:33:23 PM

Good for you for starting the pedometer project! I go to the gym on weekdays (it's at work) but now that it is so cold here, weekends are spent indoors. Unless I am at the mall, not much walking going on. Hmmm...good excuse to spend more time at the mall ;)

Posted by: Sara | Feb 22, 2007 8:57:02 PM

My experience with the stationary bike and now the treadmill is very different. I would watch TV (at a very high volume) or listen to the radio or CD on the walkman, while riding the bike. I used to flip the channels/stations until i found something interesting (i do not have cable so that was sometimes a big problem). Then i got a second DVD player in the basement and a subscription to Netflix and all changed. Although we did use the treadmill as a coat rack, and i did not mind so much since i had won the treadmill at a chinese auction, I started using it again when we got a portable DVD player. as long as what i am watching is interesting, 40 minutes go by very fast. I know there is no Netflix yet in Israel, but you can try it with any movie as long as you are willing to watch it in installments.

David S.

Posted by: David S. | Feb 22, 2007 9:39:54 PM

"10,000 steps " My kids got me into this 10,000 step thing. I've "measured" numerous routes I take to various places and keep tab on my daily total. With six kids pestering me to "get healthy" I need to be able to defend myself someway! "Yes I did 9,950 steps today!"

Shabbat Shalom,

Posted by: Yoel Ben-Avraham | Feb 22, 2007 10:31:43 PM

does the pedometer measure pace also?

Posted by: ari kinsberg | Feb 23, 2007 12:01:33 AM

Hot off the press today!

No need to diet AND exercise to lose weight?


Thanks for the great cello story!

Posted by: Reuven M. Rosenberg, D.C. | Feb 23, 2007 11:57:37 AM

Somehow my post above was attributed to Ari Kinsberg!

There is an aritcle today from Yahoo News:

No need to diet AND exercise to lose weight?

Thu Feb 22, 9:23 AM ET

A new study debunks the widely held belief that diet plus exercise is the most effective way to lose weight. Researchers report that dieting alone is just as effective as dieting plus exercise.

"For weight loss to occur, an individual needs to maintain a difference between the number of calories they consume everyday and the number of calories they burn through metabolism and physical activity," Dr. Leanne Redman of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, explains in a press release.

"What we found was that it did not matter whether a reduction in calories was achieved through diet or burned everyday through exercise."

Thirty-five overweight but otherwise healthy adults -- 16 men and 19 women -- completed the 6-month study. Twelve were assigned to a diet-only group; they reduced their calorie intake by 25 percent. Twelve were assigned to diet plus exercise; they reduced their calorie intake by 12.5 percent and increased their exercise by 12.5 percent. The remaining 11 subjects made no significant diet or exercise changes.

Redman and colleagues found that the diet-only group and the diet plus exercise group lost roughly the same amount of weight, albeit by different means. They lost about 10 percent of their body weight, 24 percent of their fat mass and 27 percent of their abdominal "visceral" fat -- the deep internal fat linked to heart disease risk.

Therefore, if the goal is purely shedding pounds, diet or exercise will work, according to this study. However, as the researchers point out, regular exercise can improve aerobic fitness and lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

The study also found that exercise did little to tone specific areas of the body. Fat was reduced consistently across the whole body and not more in any one trouble spot.

"Our study then would indicate that weight loss cannot override the way in which any individual stores fat. Perhaps an apple will always be an apple, and a pear, a pear," Redman concludes.

This suggests that people are "genetically programmed for fat storage in a particular pattern and that this programming cannot be easily overcome by weight loss," the authors note in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 2007.

And again, thanks for the great cello story!

Posted by: Reuven M. Rosenberg, D.C. | Feb 23, 2007 12:02:41 PM

Having made aliyah from Monsey in December 2005 I found myself without a car for the first time in 22 years. The pedometer is a fantastic idea! I wonder how many steps I have under my belt here.

The above study provides a measure of solace to people who find it difficult to be strong enough to change both their eating habits and level of physical activity. There is still the element of commen sense and many other studies that say if you combine improved diet, excercise, sleep, proper amount of water, etc. into a whole wellness program you will benefit more than with any one of these improvements will provide on their own.

I will start with my own pedometer and get my patients on them as well!

Thanks for the great idea!

Posted by: Reuven M. Rosenberg, D.C. | Feb 23, 2007 1:37:18 PM

The image of you carrying the good doctor across the border was a hoot. I recently moved from the second floor to ground level and quickly put on weight. Its amazing that just a single flight of stairs was keeping me in shape. So I took up golf. It's so much fun that it doesn't seem like exercise. Three hours of walking goes by without notice, because there are so many other things to think about.

Posted by: David Bailey | Feb 23, 2007 9:09:38 PM

Actually, if I remember correctly Strong Bad says, "No two people are not on fire." ... typically helpful of him.

Trep: you are a stat junkie, to judge from your transformation. On teaching days I walk 3-5 miles, truly pedantic. But I wouldn't mind strapping on the ol' pedometer on regularly meself.

First glasses & reading, now stat-induced walking: truly, you seem to be having yourself re-invented.


Posted by: wrymouth | Feb 24, 2007 6:56:15 AM

When my husband was a Principal in training, he would wear a pedometer. It was quite amazing to learn how much walking he found himself doing. A couple of years ago, McDonalds had a grown-up happy meal that included a salad, bottle water and a pedometer.

I am big Pilates equipment fan and try to get to class often and though physically it's helping me become stronger, my sweetooth is still a huge obstacle with me losing weight. It totally sucks, especially now with girl scout cookies all around me and with Purim so close.

Up until I turned 30, I never had to worry about my weight and then it was like BAM. Now, I have a milestone birthday sneaking up around the corner, and I am totally committed to seriously making a change. Good luck with your goals.

Posted by: jaime | Feb 24, 2007 8:37:43 AM

David --

This may not be the place, but I don't know where else to go for help.

I am searching for information on and witnesses of the Holocaust in Latvia.

The Nazis raised two divisions in Latvia, the 15th and 19th Divisionen der Waffen SS. Both Great Britain and the United States have officially stated that there is no evidence that these units ever committed any atrocities. These units were raised in 1943 and 1944 -- after the Nazis had applied the 'Final Solution' in Latvia -- so it is extremely doubtful that these units participated in the round-up and extermination of Latvian Jews (70 000 total -- 1/3 of all Latvian casualties of the war).

However, the Nazis earlier raised several SD police battalions from among the Latvians. When the Oberkommando Wehrmacht under the press of the Red Army threw these battalions into combat, they failed badly. This precipitated the formation of the two Waffen SS divisions.

What I seek to find out is:
1. Does anyone know of any documents on the Holocaust in Latvia? Where can I find them?
2. Does anyone know any survivor of the Holocaust in Latvia? Or of any descendant of any survivor of the Holocaust in Latvia?
3. Does anyone have any evidence (NOT hearsay) of atrocity(ies) by any SD police in Latvia? By any Latvian Waffen SS in Latvia?

I thank all for their patience and help. I thank you, David, especially.

Posted by: antares | Feb 25, 2007 12:52:20 AM

Yehuda Berlinger... Sorry, my only experience with pedometers is this one (TrekLINQ). I'm sure if you Google 'pedometer review' you'll find some interesting discussion.

aliyah06... Good for you! Not only are you keeping the weight off but you are minimizing the hit on your pocketbook from the insane gas prices. :-)

Albert Fuchs... Between all the walking and carrying drunk buddies I should be able to keep the number going down. :-)

rachel... I suppose a lot will depend on what kind of groceries and how much you eat. :-)

Lupe Fuchs... I'll send him your love. ;-)

Nighthawk700... Yeah, walking over would probably be the way to go.

Annie.. In my experience having a Gym membership has done nothing but reduce the balance in my bank account. Let me know how it works out for you, though. :-)

Jack... Although I have to say the there are a TON of carbs in beer. :-(

psychotoddler... Hmmm, well I got someone to donate the pedometer... maybe I can get some kind soul to toss in the HDTV and DVD player. :-)

Helene... 10,000 seems to be the party line (several people I've mentioned it to here have heard the same number). Thanks for the good wishes.

Sara... And to think I used to snicker at the mall walkers. :-)

David S... I can't imagine watching a movie in installments, but the whole idea of exercising in front of the tube is quite interesting.

Yoel Ben-Avraham... Nice to know that so many people agree on the target number. Thanks.

ari kinsberg... You have to input the length of your pace as well as your weight.

Reuven M. Rosenberg, D.C.... That sounds like blasphemy! :-) Glad you enjoyed the Cello story.

David Bailey... Now that I am creating excuses to walk, I am shocked at how quickly the number of daily steps is increasing. Sounds like you need to find something to make up for that extra flight. :-)

wrymouth... Considering my current 'shape', I will literally be reinventing the wheel. :-)

jaime... Why am I not surprised to hear you're also into Pilates. :-)

antares... Have you tried the Simon Wiesenthal center or Yad Vashem? Other than that I have no idea what to advise.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 25, 2007 5:38:20 PM

I have some hints.

If you are on the phone, stand up and pace. OK so you look silly, so what? If you feel too silly pacing, just -- well the only way I can describe this is a bit vulgar. Stand up as you answer the phone, and then hover over your chair, as you might over a toilet that doesn't quite meet your hygiene standards. Alternately, sit in your chair, suck in your tummy, and pick your feet up off the floor.

Another clue is to stand only on one foot as often as possible.

All of the above recruit more muscles than just sitting.

Portion control, portion control, portion control. And then more portion control.

Until you get the hang of it, actually measure out portions.

Look, one single meat serving is the size of a deck of cards.

1 serving of rice (or couscous, or mashed potatoes, or whole potatoes) 1/2 baseball. I have small hands, so I eyeball a little more than 1/2 of my fist.

Most US fruits come in 2-portion sizes; I don't know about the average size of fruit in Israel. In other words, the average American apple = 2 servings.

From my friends who do Weight Watchers, I've learned that whole, raw tomatoes can be eaten in unlimited quantities, as can celery and most leafy greens.

If you have a choice between juice and the whole fruit, pick the whole fruit. More satisfying.

Posted by: Liz | Feb 27, 2007 6:18:49 AM

There's a whole community of us tracking our steps at Walker Tracker: walkertracker.com

I created the site early last year when I realized that my freelance computer job was putting my step count under 1000 some days.

I think having the community has helped keep my step count up. My average is below 10,000, but just the awareness of the pedometer in my pocket keeps me moving more than normal, and the site has helped with the diligence.
What model of pedometer did you get?


Posted by: Ben Parzybok | Feb 28, 2007 12:21:13 AM

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