To a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving!

To a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving!

We hope you are with family and friends today to share Thanksgiving. Many of us will sit down together to consume lots of tasty foods and beverages – sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, turkey with stuffing, sweetened cranberry sauce, rolls and breads, and beers and wines. We’ll also sit most of the time, before and after the traditional meal, to chat and watch NFL football or a movie marathon on a cable TV. Enjoy it all!


But remember to go for a brisk 15 minute walk an hour after eating the big meal. You’ll make your celebration happier and healthier. Most of that high-carb food and drink will be converted to glucose (blood sugar) once digested. Your pancreas will go into overdrive and spike your insulin to remove the glucose, which is especially a problem for older adults. Insulin spikes, and the accompanying poor blood sugar control, are associated with a host of illnesses.

Fortunately, just getting up and moving our bodies provides an effective and enjoyable means to blunt that insulin spike and quickly get blood sugar levels back to a healthy range. Read this Med Page Today article about how this works.

It’s just another reason to be thankful – with some exercise, you can have your pie and eat it, too.

Does Walking Count?

Does Walking Count?


When many people hear the word “exercise,” they conjure up images of sweaty bodies in tight, day-glo spandex, lifting dumb bells or jumping fast to a Latin beat. Walking is so mundane and basic to day-to-day life, it’s easy to overlook it as a great form of exercise.

Actually, walking at any speed for any time period is exercise. It uses the largest muscles in your body and requires you to generate considerable force to move your body mass against the power of gravity, while staying balanced on alternate legs. When you read books like evolutionary biologist Daniel Lieberman’s The Story of the Human Body, you realize just how wonderous walking is, whether going to the kitchen for a cup of coffee or trekking 10 miles in the mountains.

There’s nothing like a leisurely stroll to get you grounded or to think or chat with friends or to just enjoy being alive. Maybe that’s the greatest benefit of walking beyond the utilitarian function of getting us around.

However, walking can also be a purposeful form of exercise that lowers blood pressure and improves heart function and blood sugar control. All you need to do is pick up the pace a notch or add some inclines; in other words, walk briskly.

At Cascade Boomer Fitness,we’re wary of getting tangled up in a lot of quantification when it comes to older adults. For example, a study of adults 60-85 years of age identified a “brisk” pace as 3.3-3.5 miles per hour. Maybe that would describe a brisk pace for you, maybe not. It really depends on your fitness level, state of health, and many other factors.

A safe and proven way to turn walking into progressive training for you is to use the Talk Test, a simple measure that’s backed by solid science. Just walk as much as possible at a pace where you can still talk and complete a sentence, but you get a little breathy and have to pause for a breath between words. When this happens, you are at the aerobic sweet spot where you are challenging (in a good way) your cardiovascular system and still burning mainly fat for energy.

Once you are comfortable walking in this aerobic zone, a few times during your walks pick up the pace for a short interval, say 15-30 seconds, where you are starting to get out of breath and find it difficult to talk at all. This is when you enter your anaerobic threshold in which your body switches from using fat to using glycogen for energy. After this faster interval, just drop back down to your more comfortable aerobic pace. Using this technique when walking 4-5 times a week over several weeks, you’ll find you’re walking faster, yet still able to talk.

In the colder weather months, it’s easy to want to hibernate in your house or gym. But like they say in Norway, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.”  Bundle up and do it!

Walking counts.






Better Fit and Fat

Better Fit and Fat

It’s possible to be fit and fat at the same time. And if you are fat, you want to become fit. According to a recent study in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, obese and fat persons have about half the mortality risk of unfit persons of normal weight.

The authors of the article go so far as to conclude: “Researchers, clinicians, and public health officials should focus on physical activity and fitness-based interventions rather than weight-loss driven approaches to reduce mortality risk.”

Often overweight and obese persons are advised to avoid exercise until they first lose their fat. Of course, it’s well-known that overweight and obesity are long-term risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and some cancers. Excess weight also causes musculoskeletal problems. So, yes, it’s desirable to lose the fat.

However, as this research shows, despite the presence of excess body fat, a person can still remain much healthier if they exercise rather than focus only on weight loss. Except in very rare cases, there’s no need to wait to do almost any type of exercise.


Jayne Williams wrote a great book called Slow Fat Triathlete: Live Your Athletic Dreams in the Body You Have Now. She’s fought weight issues all her life, but has not let that prevent her from staying healthy through exercise and competition. What’s especially useful about her book is she describes how to overcome the psychological barriers that can keep overweight and obese folks out of the gym or off the hiking trails, like being self-conscious in gym clothing, feeling out-of-place with the young hard bodies, or fearing they are at high risk for injuries. Her message is right-on for anyone who wants to get fit, not just athletes.

When it comes to exercise, every body benefits, regardless of size and shape. It’s definitely better be fit and fat than skinny and unfit, that is, if you care about staying alive.







Sweet Surrender

Sweet Surrender

We like sugar so much that it’s the gustatory foundation for many national holidays and celebrations. What’s Xmas without candy canes? Valentine’s Day without heart-shaped milk chocolates? Easter without marshmallow bunnies?

So it’s been hard to swallow the growing evidence that the added sugars in so many processed foods, not to mention in all our favorite candies, cakes, pastries, and cookies, are a major cause of our obesity epidemic and sky-rocketing rates of heart disease and diabetes.

Here’s an excellent short cartoon video that cleverly summarizes the problem:

If you’d like to really understand the sugar issue in more detail, watch this presentation by Dr. Robert Lustig, who deserves much credit for figuring it out in the first place and alerting us to the bitter truth:

His message is especially important to older adults because as we age, we become glucose intolerant.

So follow Well Rule #4:  Know where added sugar hides, then eat and drink less of it.

Trans Fat: No Place to Hide

Trans Fat: No Place to Hide

As reported in this NY Times article, the FDA announced that it will eliminate trans fats from the food supply – uh, sometime. With heart disease still the number one killer in America, there was no way for the FDA to hide from overwhelming evidence that trans fats are deadly.

Here’s why. As you’ll see in the NY Times article, eating trans fats, which are in many packaged and fast foods, raises your LDL, which you know as your “bad” cholesterol. However, LDL per se is not the real problem. Research shows that LDL comes in all sizes. The types of LDL particles that are dangerous are called Very Low Density Lipoproteins (VLDL). These tiny particles embed in the lining of the arteries, causing inflammation and plaque formation (atherosclerosis), which is the cause of heart attacks and strokes. Eating trans fats increases VLDL!

trans fat

Sadly, the FDA, a bureaucracy with a split personality that is one part worthy public health watchdog and three parts prostitute, apologist, and protector for industrial food corporations, has known this for more than twenty years.

It could be another decade before trans fats are completely banned from the food supply. Note the FDA estimates: 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths per year could be prevented! As the NY Times article states, the FDA is going to give the food industry ample time to figure out a way to substitute some other chemical that will preserve taste and shelf life. That means the FDA is willing to trade 7,000 deaths a year to preserve profits of industrial food corporations.

As Tyler Graham and Drew Ramsey, MD, warned in The Happiness Diet, their excellent book about food: “When you partake of the Modern American Diet, you are always an unwilling and unknowing test subject for manufactured food products that have unknown and unstudied effects on the human body.”

You, your family, and friends don’t have to be test subjects for trans fats or the chemical replacements that they will concoct next. Remember olestra?

When you are in the supermarket, look at the ingredients on the package. If you see trans fat or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil of any kind, put it back on the shelf. Also, check the company website for any fast food you eat and check the indgredients posted there.

Better yet follow Well Rule #2: Substitute whole foods for processed foods.




Review: Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us

Review: Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us

In this book, Michael Moss, a Pulitzer prize-winning investigative reporter for the NY Times, supplies sobering supporting evidence for why it is vital to our well-being to adopt Well Rule #2: Substitute whole food for processed food. Clearly, steady increases in the consumption of processed foods over the past fifty years is the major contributor, along with sedentary living, to growing numbers of persons with diabetes and heart disease, especially Boomers.

salt sugar fat

As only skilled reporters are able to do, Moss got access to CEOs and other high level managers in the largest industrial food manufacturers in America, and got them to divulge information you’d expect them to keep secret because it is so damning. They are fully aware that they play a role in America’s obesity epidemic and sky-rocketing healthcare costs. Of course, our health is not their problem. Their goal in life is to enrich themselves and their shareholders.

Although hard to believe, they created an almost $1 trillion industry using three simple, inexpensive ingredients – salt, sugar, and fat (mainly hydrogenated vegetable oils). They did this by buying the best and brightest chemists and psychologists, with disarming like ”food technologists” and ” bio-psychologists,” who used state-of-the-art imaging technologies to map our brains to create foods that are addictive, although they prefer the word “crave-able” because it doesn’t have the harsh connotations of addiction. Their rationale for producing this stuff is that they are giving people what they want. However, like the heroin pusher, they forget to mention that they did, and do, use any means possible to make people want it.

What is also stunning in this book is how many high level people getting rich off these foods don’t eat them because they know their products are unhealthy. Even more ironically, several of the CEOs Moss interviewed were actually banned from the very products they manufacture by their doctors .

Unfortunately, Moss also details how the USDA, which should exist to protect us, is totally controlled by the industrial food giants. For this reason, the actual amounts of added sugars do not have to be revealed on the food label because they are a “trade secret” and artificial ingredients are approved willy-nilly with little testing for long-term safety. Of course, this is also why the USDA has supported the proliferation of genetically modified foods. The list goes on and on…

Read Salt Sugar Fat and, the next time you are in the supermarket, remember how they are deliberately hurting you, your family and friends, and even our country.

If you find it hard to shun those foods because they taste so well-engineered, recall this disgusting fact from Katherine Shanahan, MD, in her book Deep Nutrition: “Take a look at the back of a bag of dog or cat food, and here are the ingredients you’ll see: corn meal, soy meal, (occasionally) wheat, partially hydrogenated soy or corn or other vegetable oil, meat and protein meal, and a few synthetic vitamins. But guess what? The animal pushing the shopping cart is buying foods with the same list of ingredients for himself.”

Moss is skeptical that the destructive processed food manufacturers will be stopped any time soon. In addition to controlling the USDA, they have massive amounts of marketing funds and are also able to purchase scientists, when needed, to cast doubt on emerging evidence that processed food is THE cause of many of our expensive and deadly health issues.

However, his closing message is that we can still do something. He writes: “They may have salt, sugar, and fat on their side, but we, ultimately, have the power to make choices. After all, we decide what to buy.”

Buy whole foods.