The Sweet Leaf

July 24, 2007

A new sugar substitute may be making an impact in the EU and US soon, if Coca-Cola and Cargill have their way.  Stevia, a little green herb indigenous to South America and widely used in Asia, is now being developed for mass consumption, under the brand name, Rebiana.

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Alli is here, bring on the diapers!

June 13, 2007

So today is the day, alli (Xenical) goes OTC. Even early this week, I had stopped by a few pharmacies, and saw boxes of alli just waiting to be sold. At face value, one might think, okay, well the notion of health and fitness is going to go to hell in a handbasket. People will just use the pill as a substitute for proper eating and exercise.

You know what, I bet a lot will. But, they need to be aware of the consequences: the oily discharge, loose stools, etc.

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Weight loss with oily discharge

June 5, 2007

hdrlogo.gifA few weeks ago, CNBC ran a report on Alli, the new weight loss drug from Glaxo Smith Kline, set to hit the market next week. This just isn’t any weight loss drug, this is the first over the counter pill manufactured specifically to help people lose weight. As part of their marketing campaign, GSK had taken the former Union Square Savings Bank and home to De La Guarda, converting it into an almost museum for the drug. Of course, I had to go check it out.

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The Spot Training Myth

May 1, 2007

About a month ago, I posted about how my friend Priscilla wanted to lose weight before she went away to Thailand.   Let me apologize to her first, for using the name Priscilla as her pseudonym, and explain that she is NOT prissy by any means.  However, in spite of her probably wanting to kill me after I mention her again in a posting, I really do have to mention her warped sense of health and fitness, which is certainly probably shared by at least a few other people.

Let me share an excerpt from an IM conversation we had a few weeks ago. (OMG, she is going to KILL ME; good thing she’s still in Thailand).

Priscilla55: so my friend at work told me

Priscilla55: i should do sit ups with a bar

Priscilla55: then ill have abs of steel

FitFiend: so why did your friend tell you that?

Priscilla55: i asked him if i lost weight

Priscilla55: and how i can lose weight in my abdomen

FitFiend: and what did he say?

Priscilla55: he said to use a bar

Priscilla55: and do sit ups

Priscilla55: and the oblique table

FitFiend: holding a bar above your head while you do sit ups will make you lose weight in your abdomen?

Priscilla55: sets and do them fast

Priscilla55: i think that is what i understood

FitFiend: uhm, it doesn’t sound like you did understand

FitFiend: how are his abs?

Priscilla55: solid

Priscilla55: he doesn’t eat any junk

Priscilla55: like tuna

Priscilla55: eggs

Priscilla55: wheat bread if that

FitFiend: that how you have to be

Priscilla55: he’s one of those neckless guys

Priscilla55: he wants to be big

Priscilla55: no i want a neck

Priscilla55: and i don’t want to be big

Priscilla55: i don’t care for muscle

Priscilla55: i just don’t want to jiggle

FitFiend: part of toning down is getting some muscle

FitFiend: you should do sculpt classes

Priscilla55: my friend said

Priscilla55: i have to give up chips too

Priscilla55: not just ice cream

FitFiend: you didn’t say chips before!

Priscilla55: i cant give up soo many things ok

FitFiend: you have to give up your crap snacks

Priscilla55: all at once

FitFiend: you can do it for like 2 weeks.


Now, in Priscilla’s defense, she is by no means very jiggly, and probably weighs in at the low end of what might be considered optimal for a chick at 5’4, but, she feels the need to reconstitute her body. 

Unfortunately, this is something that can only be done by exercise and healthy eating habits, not one or the other.  What Priscilla was describing, by talking about getting a solid stomach by doing ab exercises, and well, nothing else, is spot training.  I would think that most people realize that spot training does not work, but a small number of “newbies” probably think that it will lead to results; it won’t.

In a vacuum, all the crunches in the world will not melt away the fat around your tummy.  If anything, doing a lot of ab training will serve to build the muscle of your abs, and which might even make your stomach look bigger if you aren’t doing anything to lower your body fat (like cardio and a caloric deficit).

Now, I say that Priscilla has a warped outlook on health and fitness because she believes in spot training and also, doesn’t really believe she needs to eat properly.  She actually went into greater detail about what exactly she eats everyday, which is simply pretty bad; snacking (on crap) all day.  This is certainly not something that will help her get that tone body she wants. 

Her takeaway from the conversation with her friend was that she could eat all the crap she wanted, do those ab exercises, and get a tone stomach.  Only if she wanted to get big and muscle-y does she need to eat properly.  Still, she has only recently made the commitment to leading a healthier lifestyle, and I’m sure will be able to incorporate a healthier, more sensible outlook on her own fitness.  As I’ve said before, start small because trying to make an overnight transformation will probably lead to a quicker failure. 

Work Out – Cycle 2 – Episode 5 – Recap – “You’re the poster girl for drama! You’re the poster girl for hooker!”

April 18, 2007

Last week, the group finds out about Doug’s illness. Rebecca has no problem with Jesse, “except he’s schizophrenic.”

We start off the show with Peeler blowing off steam as he is pretty upset about what’s happened to Doug, and how much he means to him.  Doug has helped mold him, and he’s glad that he’s getting better.

Sky Lab is Jackie’s biggest challenge and the trainers are distracted.  Peeler mentions that his client has been away 18 days.  Jackie is upset that the trainers are not training with the Sky Labbers enough.  She thinks that the trainers are lying, so she does some fact checking with the clients.  Jackie is pissed at both the trainers and the clients.

After the phone calls, she goes to cool off out of the gym.  Jackie went to do yoga with Dhyana, a yoga instructor.  She couldn’t concentrate because of all the stimuli around her.  You know, the fish, birds, fountains, and Dhyana. 

Yoga is just not for Jackie.  She couldn’t look within to find her quiet place because of Sky Lab. Jackie is still fired up after yoga, and says that there will be boot camp in the morning.

Jackie runs the boot camp and is an unforgiving hardass on the Sky Labbers.  They aren’t getting in enough of their sessions, and the trainers are 50% to blame.  Time for a weigh in. half way through the Sky Lab program. 

Rita gained 6 pounds

Kiki gained 6 pounds

Carol lost 1.5 pounds

Dina lost 1 pound

Amy lost 2 pounds

Tess gained 15 pounds – she breaks down.  This freaks Jackie out.  Guess who’s to blame!?  Her trainer, Gregg! 

 It’s just as important that the diet is as well thought out as their workouts. Jackie reads their eating diaries and doesn’t believe them. 

Tess admits to cheating over New Year’s Eve.  She asks, how many people gain 15 pounds in a month?  Gregg says that she is reshaping her body, and that she is gaining muscle and this contributed to her weight gain.  15 pounds of muscle in a month. Wow.

Gregg questions the decision for the weigh in at this point because the Sky Labbers are lifting.  Jackie says that her trainers have to do it her way or things just aren’t going to work.  She “almost fired” Peeler in Cycle 1 because of a difference in training philosophies. 


Jackie has a trainer meeting to get them back into the game and hear her message.  She explains what happened with the Sky Lab clients, and how Tess is destroyed.  Jackie explains that there are no excuses for the clients, so there will be no excuses for the trainers,

Rebecca says that they needed to hear that to kick it into gear. 

Jackie decides to organize a retreat with the Sky Lab clients and the trainers.  When she asks them to bring it to the table, they do, so Jackie is confident.

Laurie, Doug’s former trainee, is now training with Jackie, who Laurie says is tough (no doubt).  Jackie says Laurie brings a lot of “therapy” into the session. 

Rebecca and Jackie go out on a romantic date, and start talking about acronyms.  I think they are a little confused and Jackie asks, is it anachronism?  In any case, Rebecca is DFW, Down For Anything. Gee, there’s a shocker.

Rebecca starts pumping Jackie for Tiffany info.  Though she keeps maintaining that she is not possessive.  Jackie says they can go back to her place and have some dessert there. Pimp!

For some odd reason, we cut back to the gym for a 30 second scene with Zen’s client Carol, who comes 56 miles to see her.  They see each other minimum 5x a week.  Food, shopping, and snowboarding are Carol’s favorite things. 

Jackie and Rebecca are back at her place, and are actually having fondue with sugar free chocolate.  Rebecca starts talking about how things just are not that romantic.  The smoke alarm goes off, as obviously neither of them is very good at making fondue. 

They grab some champagne and move to the couch, but before they sit, they compare heights, and Jackie says, you’re almost as tall as me. Rebecca says “I can go down,” Jackie says, “those are the magic words.”  The two head to bed to “watch a movie.  Rebecca says it was time to take the relationship to the next level, since up until now, sexual attraction with Jackie has been like French Fries, compared to sexual attraction with men, which has been like steak.  French Fries, Steak, Fondue. Damn I’m hungry now.


Jackie is surprising the trainers with a retreat to Lake Arrowhead, and surprise, the Sky Lab clients are coming too.  The gang is in the van and talking about Doug and how he is doing.

Rebecca feels Jackie up.  Some mad tension between Jackie, Rebecca and Jesse in the van. Things are going to heat up!

Jackie decides to take the group ice skating.  Peeler proclaims he is the champion of falling down.  Erika, on camera, starts laughing that Jackie fell down and almost broke something.  She seemed to think that it was really funny.  Must be pent up resentment since she was Jackie’s pet two trainers ago.

Ericka, Peeler, and Jesse are at the bar and gossiping about Jackie and Rebecca when Rebecca walks in and hears.  She and Jesse exchange a few words, nothing too serious. 

We move to the dinner table, where Jesse accuses Rebecca of taking advantage of Jackie’s vulnerability, and that she is taking advantage to advance her career.  Peeler tries to tell them to calm down. There Peeler goes being all mature again.  Rebecca calls Jesse a poster girl for drama.  He calls her a poster girl for hooker, and a slut.  Rebecca throws a glass or water all over Jesse.  This has got to be one of the funniest catfights ever!

Neither of them will leave.  Jackie arrives at dinner.  Jesse and Rebecca both tattle on each other. 

After dinner, Rebecca came back up with Jackie to her room.  Jackie tells Rebecca that she won’t let Jesse get away with it. 


At breakfast the next day Tiffany calls Jackie.   Rebecca gets all bothered by the phone call. Jackie talks about how difficult it is juggling her girls. She’s a player, looks like she is doing a banging job.

The clients arrive and go for a snow walk with their trainers. . 

Next we are at the lodge and Jackie brings in a therapist to talk with the trainers and clients about eating disorders.  She wants to discuss why people use food for emotional reasons. 

The therapist says that people with eating disorders often are kind, caring people when it comes to others, but not so with themselves.  They need to start looking at themselves like they would someone else, to treat themselves better. 

Carol tells her story, cries.  Tess tells her story, cries. She lost her job and then her brother sort of disowned her. Wow that is pretty whack.


Laurie tells her story, cries.  She’s always been the fat girl. Her dad committed suicide.  All these things have contributed to her using food for emotional reasons.  Jackie confides that her dad committed suicide also.  All the trainers are moved to tears. 

Next Week

Jackie starts flipping out about her clothing line. 

Work Out – Cycle 2 – Episode 3 – Recap – “What’s going on between Jackie and Rebecca?”

April 4, 2007

Show kicks off with clips from last week, and Rebecca and Jackie. Andre points out that he “notice[s] something is going between Rebecca and Jackie.”

Peeler is explaining to Doug what happened the night before, since he looks up to him as a father figure. Peeler tells him about his anger management problems as a youngster, and the night before brought everything back. Peeler used to say that he and Jackie were a lot alike, but he realizes that they aren’t, he is way too emotional.

Peeler approaches Jackie to discuss the night before. They sort of make up and agree to move on. No HDA yet.

Sky Lab clients meet for a bootcamp. Not quite the bootcamp from episode one, but these people wouldn’t be Sky Lab clients if they could do that bootcamp.

Jackie gets upset when one client, Lori, gives up on a bridge with two seconds to go. She feels that Doug is the perfect match for Lori since he is like a therapist. Jackie tells the clients to “feel free to jump on then treadmill” after they finish the bootcamp.

Tess is working out with Gregg, they talk about how difficult it is to rehabilitate from a knee injury. Gregg says it is “going to be fascinating to watch her grow.”

Rebecca and Jackie are hanging out at her place. Jackie puts her foot up on her and asks her to take her shoe off. Rebecca decides she likes the champagne that she is drinking, which is dry, and what Rebecca hates dry, normally. Jackie implies that Rebecca is changing her tastes. Wink wink.

They decide to wash Jackie’s stinky dogs. I think they are about to get wet.

We are back at the gym with Zen and Gregg. Gregg asks her to come with him somewhere this week. Zen gets giddy, and thinks he is asking him on a date. It turns out, it is a date, a court date. Apparently, some Asians showed up at a house party (damn those Asians!), and Gregg got into it with one of them.

He isn’t going to court with a lawyer, but wants Zen to come for moral support. Zen realizes that Gregg is not making a logical decision by assuming that he is going to win since the other guy “looks worse.” (Because you hit him). The other guy called him a derogatory name, but Gregg did resort to physical violence, which Zen explains to him, is something he should be concerned about.


Jackie is back at therapy, and explains to her therapist that she is 100% done with Mimi (Yay!). Jackie now knows better what she wants. The therapist suggests Jackie get social, so she plans a slumber party. (HLA coming up!!)

Lori shows up to work out with Doug, who wants to help her enjoy working out. Lori’s goal is to be living a healthy life by the time she turns 30. Her ideal goal is to lose 110 pounds. She remembers how her dad would tell her that no man wants to marry a fat girl, and this was when she was 6 years old. Lori starts tearing up while she is talking to Doug. Lori is excited about working out with Doug and motivated.

Zen is also a comedian (who knew). She is going to be performing stand up at the Laugh Factory and is telling her fellow trainers about her show.

Jackie invites Jessie into her office to discuss the diet for Sky Lab. Jessie is a chef and is going to be in charge of wonderful lean organic meals for the Sky Lab clients.

Tiffany, a girl that Jackie dated on a break with Mimi a few years earlier, stops by. Jackie is optimistic about what could happen with Tiffany.

The two go to the batting cages on a date. Jackie wasn’t doing too well, while Tiffany was on the outside of the cage cheerleading. Jackie gets flustered and explains that she hates sucking on at things. Tiffany, on the other hand, seemed to have no problem handling the balls. After all, Jackie was the only woman she had ever been with.

Gregg is on his way to court alone.


Sky Lab clients are having a crash course in healthy cooking with Jesse. The Jackie breakfast is a protein shake every morning of mixed frozen berries, mega green powder, flax seed oil, liquid amino acids and whey protein. MMMM

Slumber party time! Rebecca walks out in a racy, see through nightgown that her grandma used to wear. (I hope a long, long time ago).

A woman shows up for a sex thing where she shows them lotions, gels, toys. Jackie says that Rebecca is on her team, and Rebecca says that she is on the fence. Zen tries on a very short nighty, and Jackie comments that she is seeing Zen in a whole new light. (Is Zen gonna be next?).

Uhm, Jackie and Rebecca go into the bathroom to rub some lotion on their unmentionables. Erika doesn’t know what’s going on between Jackie and Rebecca.


Zen and Gregg have an awkward talk about his court case. He won, most of the charges were dismissed, but he did get a hit for disturbing the peace.

Zen is performing at the Laugh Factory, and picks on the rest of our crew. As exciting as Zen’s performance was, all the trainers began to notice just how close Jackie and Rebecca are. Erika still doesn’t know what’s going on between Jackie and Rebecca.

After the show, the group goes to a Japanese restaurant. [Borderline HDA but not really] The trainers call Jackie and Rebecca out on what is going on between them and how they seem to be acting like girlfriends. Jesse leads the onslaught of questioning the two lady lovers. Jackie and Rebecca think it is a jealousy issue. Erika still doesn’t know what’s going on between Jackie and Rebecca.


Jackie and Rebecca have walked away from the table. Jackie didn’t realize that the rest of the group was going to flip out so hardcore. Their issue is largely that it would be unprofessional since Jackie is the boss.

Rebecca and Jackie start making out. Zen goes over and sees them, when they start going full on.


Too many exceptions can make the rule

April 3, 2007

At 10:27pm on Sunday night, I received a text message from a friend of mine, let’s call her Priscilla, asking me “Is Apple Pie okay?” Since it was April Fool’s Day, that very well could have been a joke. Since it was from Priscilla, I knew it wasn’t.

The day before, Priscilla started asking me how she could lose weight in time for her upcoming trip to Thailand. After all, she is going to be spending a lot of time on beach trying to pick up guys, who hopefully, won’t be using her as a mule. (I don’t think Priscilla would survive a Brokedown Palace scenario. The Apple Pie in Thailand is just not that good).

Anyway, in order to give her some tips that might help her, I asked her about her current workout regimen and eating habits. She has recently started going to a gym in the City of Brotherly Love, Sweat, and has been doing about 30 minutes of cardio a day. She is just beginning, and is also a doctor, so it’s kind of understandable that getting the time to go has been difficult for her. Actually, I suggested she get a few personal training sessions, but she has yet to subscribe to that idea. In any event, her 30 minutes of cardio a day is better than what she was doing before, which was, well, nothing.

Now, on to the eating habits. No breakfast. Ever. Candy at the hospital, because it is quick and easy to eat. Instead of lunch, more snacks from the vending machine. Then, without fail, just because she wants it, ice cream. Every day. Not to mention, 3 coffees with cream and sugar. By the time she gets to the gym, she is super tired.

Priscilla is a doctor at a hospital, and has a very stressful, busy job. However, she has identified some areas where she could improve in terms of her eating habits. The problem is, in spite of knowing that she needs to eat better, cut certain things out (like ice cream and sugar), she still text messages me and asks if Apple Pie at 10:27pm is okay. After all, she wants to be happy, and she only lives once.

I see this on blogs all the time. Making exceptions because it is too hard to maintain such a rigid lifestyle ALL of the time. I tend to agree that making an exception once in a while is probably a good thing. I had been doing 6 days on, one day off. It kind of worked for me, but then I realized that once I had settled into that one day off, it became much easier to start cheating on other days. Still, variety is good. However, so many people build such momentum with their variety or exceptions that they ultimately become the rule.

I just read one blog where the woman trying to lose weight had a great day of healthy eating, then came home and ate a pizza at 8pm. The next day, she had a healthy breakfast, but wrote about how she was going out to dinner and was going to be eating heavy Indian food with naan and white rice.

I realize that trying to tell someone to give up the little pleasures in life can be both daunting and discouraging. This is why, one of the things that I suggest to friends who ask, is that they should set short term goals. For example, Priscilla is going away in a few weeks. My advice to her is be strict until her trip, and indulge herself while she is away. It is a short term, feasible goal. She was excited about the prospects, and has cut the ice cream out. Of course, we had this conversation on Saturday, and she wrote me about the Apple Pie on Sunday. I wrote back to her, “No. Don’t do it.” Her response? “Too late.”