Happy Sunday! Hope you had safe and fun St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, if you chose to celebrate yesterday. I ran a local 5K (just for fun, not for speed) with some former colleagues … it was a fun start to the morning and there were TONS of people dressed in green. Are you going to make some green food tomorrow?

It’s time for another “7 Interesting Things I Read This Week,” so sit back, grab a healthy snack, and enjoy! 7 Interesting Things I Read This Week

7 Interesting Things I Read This Week

  1. US Childhood Obesity Rate Plummets.  We’re not there yet, but this is amazing news, and shows that we’re really headed in the right direction as a country! Over the past decade, obesity rate in 2-5 year old children dropped an astonishing 43% – the first drop since the obesity crisis began.  The article states that “children who are overweight or obese at 3 to 5 years old are 5 times as likely to be overweight or obese as adults.”  While we don’t know if the drop is due to better nutrition, more exercise, better government programs, or some other combination of factors, this is something to celebrate in my book.  Let’s keep encouraging our children to move daily and eat their veggies! childhood nutrition
  2. How Fat May Harm the Brain and Exercise May Help.  This study made my jaw drop!  Basically, overweight mice performed more poorly on cognitive tests.  When scientists simply took the fat pads out of the mice and inserted them into other mice, the performance was reversed without any other changes in the body, showing that it actually was the fat impairing cognition.  And exercise helped restore cognitive performance!  Of course, we don’t know if this correlates perfectly to humans, but just reading and thinking about this kind of blew my mind! mouse on treadmill(picture source)
  3. Why People Do Extreme SportsResearch is still in its early stages about the true danger of endurance sports, but I think it’s safe to say that it’s likely healthier to do 30-60 minutes of moderate to high intensity exercise on most days of the week than it is to run for 4 hours straight.  Still, that’s another post for another day.  The point here is why we continue to do things like marathons, and I wholeheartedly agree: the sense of accomplishment cannot be beat.  Maybe I’ll get into MMA next … and by maybe I mean definitely not. extreme sports
  4. The Best Parts of Fruits and Vegetables You’re Not Eating. I love things like this, which is why something similar probably appears every week I do this.  I’m good at eating things like apple and potato skins, and I’ve recently discovered a love for pumpkin seeds, but I’m going to make more of an effort to incorporate things like beet and turnip greens.  As for the watermelon rind, I’m still not sure I’m convinced! chard stems
  5. The FDA’s Proposed Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label.  I wrote an article for a magazine on the proposed changes this week, so I’ll save most of my opinions for there, but suffice it to say that I’m thrilled that the new label will allow focus on added sugars (see my opinion on added vs. naturally-occurring sugars here), and I’m also excited that there will be more clarity around serving sizes, which I feel can be very misleading today. proposed food label
  6. Northwestern Mutual’s Longevity Game Let me first start by saying I don’t actually believe this is accurate, and there are way too many factors that go into longevity for any of us to stress out about what this quiz spits out.  But if you like dorky little quizzes like I do, this one is pretty fun, and will help you recognize your healthier and less healthy habits!  Here is my output … looks like I’ve got a good 65 years to go! megan's longevity
  7. Why It’s OK to Be Overweight.  (I realize this is a sensitive topic, and as always, anything I say is not meant to offend.)
    • I completely agree with the author that there is a lot of focus on being “skinny” and that we often equate “skinny” with “healthy.”  They are certainly not the same thing – there are “skinny” people who eat junk food, do not treat their bodies well, and just happen to be thin.  They are still not healthy.
    • I also agree that BMI is not a great measure of health, since it doesn’t take body composition into account.
    • Third, I agree that incorporating exercise and a healthy diet into your life is far more important than your weight.
    • I have seen a lot of research correlating overweight with increased risk for disease (and others, like #2 above, which correlate it with other adverse effects).  I get the point that most of the studies use BMI as a measure of overweight, but part of me doubts that most people with a high BMI are heavier due to muscle, so I’m not sure we can wave off those studies completely.
    • Also, I do worry slightly that articles like this give those that are overweight an “excuse” to ignore the harsh reality that they need to pay more attention to their health.  If you are overweight and ate one salad last week and walked for 10 minutes … it’s a whole lot better than nothing, and I’m glad you’re taking steps in the right direction, but that’s NOT grounds to say “Oh, it’s OK that I’m overweight … I eat healthily and exercise so I don’t need to worry about it.” scale

8. (BONUS!)  Colin Powell Takes a Selfie in the 1950s and shows Ellen his funny side.  If you’re a health and fitness blogger like me, you’ve probably taken your fair share of post-workout selfies, and this cracked me up.  Stay tuned on Tuesday for a guest post by me, talking about workout selfies! colin powell selfie

(All pictures are from same sources linked in the titles of the articles unless otherwise indicated).

Spill It Sundays

Spill-it-Sunday-option-2-1

I’m not going to share my full thoughts on protein (this week’s “Spill It Sundays” theme) here, but suffice it to say that I love and prioritize protein (although I think some people go too overboard on protein).  I shared 7 benefits of protein here, if you’re curious.  I will answer 2 of Arman’s questions, just for fun!

So tell me in the comments … Which article was your favorite?  What was your age in the longevity game?

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20 Comments

  1. Jill @ Fitness, Health and Happiness on March 16, 2014 at 8:54 am

    I loved Colin Powell’s selfie! So, what part of the veg should I be eating? Of course I have to know 🙂
    Jill @ Fitness, Health and Happiness recently posted…Are Food Dyes Bad For Us?My Profile

  2. Michael Anderson on March 16, 2014 at 10:50 am

    Haha – you and I have been reading some of the same stuff this week (also just saw your Tweet on the ‘life swaps’)!

    I am really conflicted on the whole ‘overweight / obesity’ thing. On the one hand, as someone who was CLEARLY significantly obese myself, I don’t like those sorts of articles, because they nitpick BMI numbers and I feel that misses the point. But on the other hand I also think BMI misses the point … but re-reading that article again today I like it less than yesterday, and less still than when I first encountered it. The author definitely seems to have a bias that since HE is categorized as overweight the whole system is FUBAR.

    Ha on Colin Powell – I saw that on Facebook this morning and was going to use it next week, but you grabbed it first 🙂 I just loved his TBT comment as well!

    The ‘other parts of veggies’ is great – when we were doing Christmas eve and my older son had turnips and wanted to know what to do with the greens, I said ‘KEEP THEM’! They really are great stuff! Watermelon rind I tried to cook with a couple of times, but still not sold on it either.

    And finally I am very conflicted on the obesity numbers … on the one hand I HOPE they are real, on the other hand there is a lot of negative political pressure about being a state with high numbers, and also a lot of money attached, so I have little doubt that some games are played in both directions. Which is sad but true …

    On the other hand, I also think that the comments that as fast food, processed foods, HFCS and the ‘evil-ization of fat’ resulted in a growing obesity epidemic that took time to unravel, perhaps we really ARE looking at the result of pressure to clean things up … I really hope so.

    I really agree on the food labels – as I said in a recent post, I grew up as a young kid when very little was required for labeling and have seen it really grow during my life. Sure, make people accountable for their choices – but give them the information to MAKE those choices!

    Great stuff as always – and can’t wait for you to share your magazine article!
    Michael Anderson recently posted…Spill It Sunday ‘Protein’, Weekly Running Recap, and ‘Who Wore It Best’?My Profile

    • Megan Lyons on March 17, 2014 at 11:17 pm

      It’s interesting to hear your perspective as someone who has struggled with obesity. When you were obese, and reading articles like this, what was your reaction? More of a “they don’t know what they’re talking about/ they don’t know what it’s like to be ME” or a “I’m just going to pretend I didn’t see that” or what? I completely understand if that’s too personal a question, by the way.

      I have to admit that I have never kept turnip greens (now that I mention it, I’m not actually sure if I’ve ever cooked a turnip myself, which clearly needs to change), but good for you for keeping them!

      You have a good point (as does my mom in her comment) about not quite believing the obesity numbers. I think I got too excited reading it, but yes, I have to admit that is QUITE a big jump, and a bigger jump than what I see anecdotally in kids today. These are kids 2-5 years old, though, and I don’t see a ton of those, and they are just at the age that the recent awareness of nutrition MAY have impacted them. I hope that my optimism is more right than your skepticism, but I suspect (sadly) that the whole story may never actually be revealed.

      • Michael Anderson on March 18, 2014 at 10:06 pm

        First off, can I just say how awesome it is having your mom here … and she has some great stuff to say 🙂 Chip off the ole’ block, as the saying goes!

        I think there is a post somewhere about the ‘obesity perspective’, but think for a second about things I have noted before about 25 years ago – there was NO INTERNET. Cable was there, but people still read newspapers and there was much less news media saturation. So in an age of no internet, no twitter or facebook or anything else coming AT me … exactly HOW would I get these articles you mention … you guessed, I would NOT. Funny how times change.

        I would actually be interested in hearing your mom’s perspective on news delivery.
        Michael Anderson recently posted…Take Care Tuesday – #100HappyDaysMy Profile

        • Karen on March 19, 2014 at 4:11 pm

          I get nervous saying too much on my daughters blog……..don’t want to interfere or say the wrong thing. But since you asked Micheal, I’ll tell you that news used to be just……..news ( reporting facts as precisely as they could). Today it is drama, political, power and evil. The world is changing and I fear that news AND people are jumping on bandwagons and grabbing for acceptance without really thinking of the consequences. It’s sad for me to watch, but then again, at my age, you might call my opinions boring and old-fashioned…..and I’m perfectly ok with that.

          • Megan Lyons on March 20, 2014 at 9:53 pm

            You’re not boring and old-fashioned, Mom! I respect your opinion, and definitely agree that people are WAY to quick to believe what they read online these days!

          • Michael Anderson on March 24, 2014 at 11:42 am

            I agree Karen – I remember well when news was NOT a ‘profit center’, but instead a public service, where there was not a ’24 hour cycle’ that needed to be filled however they could manage to pull ratings. I think that there was actually some good when there came a point in the evening when there was literally NOTHING on the TV … just 6 channels of white noise.
            Michael Anderson recently posted…Motivation Monday – Stuff to Do In Your 30s, Merrell Preview, and Monday MixtapeMy Profile

        • Megan Lyons on March 20, 2014 at 9:47 pm

          Thanks for saying I’m a chip off the ol’ block … my parents are pretty great! Thanks for sharing your perspective … it’s funny that I didn’t even THINK of that. To be fair, a lot of the propaganda even today is done through newspapers, books, etc., but I realize it’s not on the same level. Glad my mom shared her response back!

  3. Lisa @ Running out of Wine on March 16, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    I am intrigued by the new food labels. It looks like there will be some positive changes but I also look forward to reading your opinion about it! And I got 95 in the longevity game!
    Lisa @ Running out of Wine recently posted…Last Minute Race Plans!My Profile

    • Megan Lyons on March 17, 2014 at 11:17 pm

      Ooh one year better than me! I wonder what you do that I don’t :). I guess I have 65 years to improve that!

  4. Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table on March 16, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    I am all over the extreme sports! If there’s a possibility of injury or death, it’s even more fun. 😉
    Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table recently posted…San Diego: A Long, Strange TripMy Profile

    • Megan Lyons on March 17, 2014 at 11:18 pm

      Haha! In day-to-day life I forget that you were a roller derby queen, but I love that intensity!!!

  5. Karen on March 16, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    My grandmother told me that watermelon rind would give me a stomach ache…….and I can’t get that out of my head. And, I also HOPE that the numbers on childhood obesity are dropping that rapidly, but I fear that political pressure might be tipping media’s hand to report the numbers that way. But hey, ANY improvement is a happy thing. BTW, I will gladly donate some fat to the mice lab so they can do further testing……or maybe I will just go for a 5 mile walk right now and quit wishing.
    Great information in your post – thanks.

    • Megan Lyons on March 17, 2014 at 11:20 pm

      And my MOTHER told me that watermelon rind would give me a stomach ache … and I can’t get that out of my head :).

      Like I said to Michael, you both have good points about the political pressure impacting potential results of the childhood obesity studies. I hate to admit that that is a possibility, but I often feel like it takes a few years for the media heat to die down before we know the real story.

      Good job on your walk! And by the way, the end of this posts references the estrogen issues you asked me about – the post was up Sunday morning and you asked Sunday afternoon! We’re on the same page!!

  6. Sara @ LovingOnTheRun on March 16, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    I have read a lot about the new nutrition labels and I think they are making some great strides in the right direction! Thanks for the articles – I haven’t had a chance to read some of them yet, I always love finding new things to read! 🙂
    Sara @ LovingOnTheRun recently posted…My Husband’s Running Shoes Addiction and Weekly Recap!My Profile

    • Megan Lyons on March 17, 2014 at 11:28 pm

      So glad you liked the articles, Sara!

  7. Arman @ thebigmansworld on March 17, 2014 at 2:50 am

    I remember the tofu talk with you! I’ve actually cut it out since coming to Sydney (I had it once I think!) and noticed less bloating and sluggish feeling- I need to do abit more research on it!

    Potato skins are so good…but guess what. I’ve just started eating kabocha skin and it’s edible lol!
    Arman @ thebigmansworld recently posted…Weekends in the Sydney Sun!My Profile

    • Megan Lyons on March 17, 2014 at 11:32 pm

      Interesting about cutting out tofu and feeling better! SO happy you found something that might work for you! Although I guess it’s hard to tell since you’ve undergone other dietary changes at the same time, but I’ll take the improvements! I have been learning a bit more about food sensitivities and have a post coming up Friday on it! YES to kabocha skin – I eat the skin of any squash besides butternut or spaghetti, and I’m not really even sure why I don’t eat those, it just doesn’t seem as delicious.

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