Monthly Archives: June 2011

Calorie-restricted diets and Biosphere

Ingestion: Planet in a Bottle

By Christopher Turner

Cabinet Magazine, Issue 41, Spring 2011

Remember Biosphere? The experiment out in the desert testing our planetary colonization skills. It was an intricate maze of self-contained domes, housing plants, animals, and a few brave individuals. Though the two year test was publicly deemed a failure, many fields benefited from the experience; from psychology, to green energy engineering, all the way to food and nutrition. This is where we pick it up. This is the story of Dr. Roy Walford, and his calorie restricted diet studies in Biosphere. Walford’s claim was calorie-restricted diets slow the aging process.

His theory has been around a long time and is still going strong, with ongoing research at Washington University in St. Louis (Go home team!), among others.  It seems interesting enough that the NY Times publishes an in-depth article on the topic every few years –  One for the Ages: A Prescription That May Extend Life, 2006 and  The Calorie Restriction Experiment, 2009.

While I don’t want to give away the ending, let me just say, it holds a certain poignancy over the whole diet thing. Thanks again to Cabinet Magazine, and writer Christopher Turner. Love you guys.

Another link to the article on Dr. Wolford and Biosphere is here.

(I’m excited I wrote this without mentioning Bio-Dome or Pauly Shore…until just now.)

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Standing at your desk

On more than one occasion, the dangers of sitting has been discussed on this blog. Here’s someone who’s taking action. Blogger Corbett Barr, attempted standing at his desk for most of the week, and then posted his experience to the Zen Habits blog. He discovers, obviously, there are pluses and minuses. The best approach for most of us would be to split our time between standing and sitting throughout the day. It’s all about balance, right?

You can check out his experiment here.

…And for the record, we think the treadmill desk is just a bad idea for so many reasons.

The Invention of Exercise Equipment

The Origins of Cybex Space is a fascinating article written by Carolyn de la Peña, and published by magazine extraordinaire Cabinet. Each publication of Cabinet collects art, articles and essay under loose themes. This particular issue (Issue 29, Spring 2008) was SLOTH.  In the article, de la Pena delves into the beginnings of exercise equipment, in particular, Cybex machines. Enlightening and informative , it really gives pause to marvel at how awesome and bizarre humanity is. Seriously, where do we come up with this stuff? Truly, if we take a closer look close at the evolution of society, as de la Pena does – down to large metal and wood machines on which we built to exercise – the answers become surprisingly obvious.

You can read the entire article here.

Five easy rules to maintaining a healthy weight

Just for reference - the new usda food guide

Here are a few simple guidelines to maintaining a healthy weight. Body weight fluctuates depending on stress, life patterns, medications, illness, exercise routine, and other changes. It’s the ups and downs of being human. Following these general rules won’t turn you into Kate Moss, but you won’t be Fatty Arbuckle either. Remember, this blog is about balance. While it’s natural to get fits of “weight drama” given our society, try not to stress it too much. Life is too short! These are guidelines to help you discover your own unique plan.

Step 1. Cut down on sugars and chemicals you can’t pronounce. Especially refined sugars. This step also includes cutting out over-processed, ready-made foods and meals. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, it’s usually a bad sign. These often contain high levels of refined sugars and other ingredients making them palatable, but not very satiating.  Sorry, alcohol is a sugar too.  Choose your sugars wisely, and keep them to a minimum.

Try not to eat these guys often.


Step 2. Add more fiber. Lots more fiber. Beans, seasonal veggies and fruits – the less cooked the better, whole grain breads and cereals, sweet potatoes, nuts, and seeds….foods that have some substance to them. Sprinkling ground flax seed in soups is an easy way to get more fiber. Fibrous foods keep your system healthy,  your stomach full, and provides important nutrients. Fiber generally keeps things moving. Grab that apple a day.

Step 3. Eat leaner meats more frequently. Turkey, chicken, white fish, salmon, etc.  Fattier meats are ok, in moderation. Use fattier meats in smaller quantities and to enhance the flavor of dishes, such as in a stir fry interspersed with lots of veggies and plated with brown rice.

4. Drink less calories. Plain, or sparkling water, hot tea, ice tea, coffee, etc. Stay away from drinking calories. They quickly stack up. Soft drinks are the biggest culprit. It’s also a good idea to avoid drinks that purport doing your body good, like fancy flavored waters. The best place to get nutrients is directly from the source, rather than infused into your beverage.  Again, alcohol gets another nod. While one small glass of wine (3.5 fl oz) can have around 100 calories, 2 or 3  glasses several nights a week will add up quickly.

Step 5. Feel free to break the rules. This is the Mind Body Moderate, after all. If you find your healthy eating plan faltered after a day instead of the six months you initially envisioned, know that it’s ok. Rather than get discouraged, negotiate with yourself, regulating alcohol, sweets and heavier meals mainly to weekends or special occasions. Be adventurous and explore a few new foods you normally pass by. Everybody’s body is different and processes the world around them differently.  Understand how your body works best. If it’s not your own recipe, it most likely won’t last. Make it your own!

Breaking the Rules with Steak Frites at home…yes, those are Mc Donald’s fries.