Wednesday, March 29, 2006


In the March/April edition of WebMD magazine, Michael W. Smith, MD interviewed Jack La Lanne, “the godfather of fitness,” and finds out his opinion on American health and fitness. Personally, I found the article to be both inspiring and comical. Below is the interview, plus my comments.

Michael W. Smith, MD: You had the first nationally syndicated exercise show on TV. What's been the biggest change in the U.S. attitude toward exercise since you became one of its first advocates?

Jack La Lanne: I had the first, modern health spa in the world --- 1936, can you believe that? I was the first one to have women working out with weights. Now, everything is fitness. Still, there are more fat people in America than there's ever been in our history.

Marissa Beck: Jack, you da man. Because of you, I am a jacked Arnoldina Schwarzenegger.

MWS: What's been the biggest change in nutrition?

JLL: I've been preaching this message about eating more fruits and vegetables and natural foods for 75 years. They used to call me a crackpot. Now the doctors are recommending it. It makes me feel so good. I feel like I've won a battle.

MB: Yes. You have won. Look at you; you’re in better shape than 75% of America’s college-age students!

MWS: You are almost 92. What's your current fitness routine?

JLL: I get up at 5 a.m. and work out for two hours. I lift weights for an hour and a half and I spend another half hour in the pool. I never miss my workout. And I hate it.

MB: I wanna know what you’re doing in that gym for an hour and a half. Back squats or something? WOW!

MWS: Did Jack LaLanne really just say he hates working out?

JLL: Yes! But I like the results. You've got to use your mind and body every day. You've got to sacrifice. It's use it or lose it. Life is wonderful. Life is fantastic. Anything in life that's meaningful, you've got to work at it.

MB: Best advice I heard in awhile. Reread that!!

MWS: How is your health right now?

JLL: Couldn't be better. I keep my wife smiling occasionally. Not like I did when I was 21, but everything still works.

MB: HOLD UP, back UP… “Everything still works.” If you’re still roughin’ it in between the sheets, Jack, I guess we know your secret. The real question is: who’s the wild, rabid animal you married?

MWS: What's the best health advice you've ever gotten?

JLL: I attended a health lecture when I was 15. I'll never forget it. The gentleman speaking said, "Anything in life is possible if you make it happen. You can be born again if you start eating properly." He got to me, boy. My eyes opened up. I was a full-blown sugarholic. That's why I dropped out of school for six months when I was 15. I was a trouble-maker. I was contemplating suicide. And when I quit eating sugar, my whole life changed. Boom! I started eating natural foods in their natural state. I wanted to be an athlete. I wanted the girls to like me. I wanted to have a nice body. I wanted to get rid of the headaches. And this man said I could do it.

MB: WHO IS HE??? TRACK HIM DOWN! Get that gentleman-speaker in ALL the American schools! I don’t care if he’s 124 years old!

MWS: What's your health philosophy?

JLL: I tell people living is a pain in the butt. Dying is easy. It's like an athletic event. You've got to train for it. You got to eat right. You got to exercise. You've got to have goals and challenges. Forget the good old days. What you do this moment controls the next moment. Your health account, your bank account, they're the same thing. The more you put in, the more you can take out.

MB: I like you Jack. A lot. Can we run away together?

MWS: What's your best health habit? Your worst?

JLL: My best is what I eat and the exercise. My worst is --- I don't have any.

MB: OH come on, you liar. You have to have ONE you’re not thinking about. I know. You don’t get much sleep because you’re rompin’ your wife every night. WOOP WOOP!

MWS: What do you eat for breakfast every day?

JLL: I eat two meals a day. At my 11 a.m. meal, I have a bunch of fruit, three to four pieces. And I'll have four egg whites. Would you get your dog up in the morning and give him a cup of coffee and a cigarette and a donut? Why, you'd kill the dog. You'd be amazed at how many people in America get up with a cup of coffee, a cigarette, and donut. And then they wonder why they're sick and tired. It's the wrong fuel for the human machine.

MB: Yeah, I agree about the dog. But what about YOU? Fruit and egg whites? Is that the magic food? Hey, I’m not arguing. You’re 92, I’m 22…

MWS: Do you take vitamins or supplements?

JLL: You kidding? I've been taking vitamins since I was 15 years old. I started juicing when I was 15. Have you seen my juicer commercial? That's one of the most successful things in the history of television.

MB: What do you take? Living pills? Enlighten us all.

MWS: Is it hard to go out to eat and follow your diet?

JLL: [My wife] Elaine and I eat out at a different restaurant every night of the year except Christmas and New Year's. I get there and I say, "I want 10 raw vegetables. I don't care what it costs." I don't tell my stomach I'm a poor man. I have a piece of fish, 3 or 4 ounces, and a salad. I bring my own soup because the soups in restaurants are terrible. And a banana or an apple. And maybe a glass of wine. I drink half red and half white zinfandel.

MB: Jack, that’s all nice for Seniors to do. But see how many friends I have left if I start traveling with soups and bananas. My snacks in tub-a-wares are hard enough!

MWS: What's your favorite part of your body?

JLL: I have never liked any part of my body. Even when I was Mr. America and won all those contests. When you get satisfied, you give up. Keep the carrot in front of the horse.

MB: Hmmm, I disagree. I like my nails, and I haven't given up. You better believe I maintain these beauties.

MWS: What do you look for in a doctor?

JLL: I go for younger ones. They're all up to date with the new things.

MB: HAHAHHAHA. Now we know why your wife has her umph.

MWS: What disease would you like to see eradicated in your lifetime?

JLL: Heart disease. That's one of the No. 1 killers. It comes from being f-a-t. F-a-tal. People need to make good food choices.


MWS: What is the solution for a fitter America?

JLL: It's in the schools. You've got to teach kids about nutrition, exercise and how it will make them more beautiful. You've got to teach it like everything else. What the hell good is all your money and education, if all you end up with is a Ph.D. and you're constipated, you've got no energy, your sex life is gone? The only important thing in life is your health and your body. Can you make love to your money?

MB: This is the truest statement I have ever heard. He speaks like it is. Kids don’t think health is the #1. They think $$ is. Here's what I think about business-high rollers. They make tons of money working long hours, working like dogs... They end their days with a wadful of cash in their pockets, but they have to use most of it later on in life to fix all of the health problems that they could have easily prevented earlier on in their lives if only they took some required personal time out during the day for themselves. I say, PUT SOME SAVINGS INTO THE HEALTH BANK ACCOUNT, TOO!

For the full interview, go to and search "Jack La Lanne"

Friday, March 17, 2006

Got Flava?

David Burke, a leading NYC chef (now inventor), created what he believes to be the next best thing to chocolate cake. Sit down, drum roll your thigh, and take a deep breath…

A “SPRAY” chocolate cake!

Need I say more?

I should probably end this blog entry RIGHT ABOUT HERE.

But I’m just so excited right now I could hardly contain my typing-fingers.

Just imagine... A luscious piece of chocolate cake in your mouth, without the cals, carbs, cholesterol, sugar, or fat. Finally, you can have your cake, eat it too—AND get out of jail for free! And according to Burke, it will, “…eliminate your cravings.”

Well, put aside your chuck-box full of Hydroxycut, Hollywood Miracle Diet, and Wow potato chips, and sign up for the FLAVA ride!!!

Can’t stand the sarcasm? Neither can I.

Ready for… the catch?

You’re probably now expecting me to berate Burke’s Flavor Spray, tear apart every last ingredient that could possibly be inside of this chemically loaded squirt gun, and put him to shame…

Well, lucky you, I do not have the ingredient list in my pocket for an on-hand attack. But I do have a list of countless flavors that I am thrilled to ridicule at my leisure. And boy do I have the leisure…

I haven’t tried a “flavor spray,” myself, nor do I have a dying urge to run out and load up my cabinets with them, but I'll play the role of the unfair critic anyway.

Here are a list of some of Burke's fine Flavor Sprays (and my very informative commentary)

1. Parmesan Cheese Spray – Riiiight, you try to convince Mama Italiana to have her Rigatoni à la Spray…

2. Pesto Spray – sure, I could see this working—if you add in your own pine nuts and oil, that is…

3. Smoked Bacon Spray – the spray has to be better than the real thing…

4. Caramelized Onion Spray – Who cares?

5. Ketchup Spray – Why?

6. Buttery Spray - Didn’t we have enough when I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!® came out with “spray butter” ? Apparently not…

7. Memphis BBQ Spray – Okay, you tell one of your BBQ buddies to substitute “spray” on their ribs, that’ll go over well.

8. Ice Blue Salt Spray – What the %$*# is this? Do I spray this into my pool?

9. Apple Pie Spray – What are you, an All-American traitor?

10. Pepper City Spray – can I use this instead of Mace?

11. Raspberry Bubblegum Spray – Clue a girl in, this spray goes on… ???

12. Marshmallow Spray – Can I toast this?

13. Cheesecake Spray – no comment.

14. Chocolate Fudge Spray – next.

15. Kiwi Spray – I’m confused. This WONDROUS fruit is cholesterol-free, saturated fat-free, high in fiber, high in vitamin C, a good source of potassium, a good source of vitamin E, sodium-free… and you want to spray it?

16. Mango Spray – ditto.

17. Pinapple Spray – sacrilege.

18. Blueberry Spray – have fun missing out on one of the world’s healthiest foods…


Thursday, March 09, 2006


That sounds scary, doesn’t it? AFLATOXIN. Especially in cap locks. AFLATOXIN. That’s what they do to you, the “health field.” They make you sick to your stomach worrying about all of the potent carcinogens out there, such as AFLATOXIN, to the point where all of the worrying, stress, anxiety, and unnecessary vigilance your body undergoes is probably just as damaging as the actual ingestion of the carcinogen, itself.

What is AFLATOXIN, you wonder? To be precise, it is produced by a couple of fungi, namely, Aspergillus Flavus, and is a naturally occurring mold (or as we health professionals like to use in order to scare people: TOXIN) found on food products such as peanuts, corn, and peanut butter. It’s also been said to linger on pecans, pistachios and walnuts, in addition to milk, grains, soybeans and some spices.

Scared already? Let’s thank our favorite health “expert,” Dr. Weil, a leader in the current health-anxiety-movement, aka, FREAK people out 24 hours of the day and make TONS of money off of it.

According to Dr. Weil’s Q&A segment on his homepage, published October 22, 2002, “Aflatoxin is a potent carcinogen, known to cause liver cancer in laboratory animals and may contribute to liver cancer in Africa where peanuts are a dietary staple.”

Thanks, thanks for the update. Clearly, now that you have told me this pertinent piece of information, I will stay far, far away from anything that could contain AFLATOXIN so that I may reduce my cancer risks… As a matter of fact, while I’m at it, why don’t I also read up on the Department of Health and Human Services’ Report on Carcinogens, headed by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, which I have trusted as a very reputable source, and figure out all of the other crap that’s going to kill me. To name a few:

Saccharin, Ethyl acrylate, Environmental tobacco smoke, Tobacco smoking, Smokeless tobacco, Consumption of alcoholic beverages, Solar UV radiation and exposure to sunlamps and sunbeds, Crystalline silica, Strong inorganic acid mists containing sulfuric acid, Dyes metabolized to benzidine, 1,3-Butadiene, Cadmium and cadmium compounds, Ethylene oxide, Tamoxifen, Diesel exhaust particulates, Isoprene, Chloroprene, Phenolphthalein, Tetrafluoroethylene, Trichloroethylene. (Reference: 2000. Fact Sheet: The "Report on Carcinogens" - 9th edition. National Institutes of Health news release. (May 15). Available at

Like most health info out there on the internet, news papers, magazines, I feel like our fears about aflatoxins, amongst many other carcinogenic substances, have been severely exaggerated. I am not taking anything away from the possibly carcinogenic effect of aflatoxin. Nor am I going to start smoking a pack of cigs per day and sit out in the sun for hours without consciously being aware that, yes, I am indeed killing myself.

But MY GOD, scare us and scare us some more so that we may become lab rats, ourselves, testing our own skin, hair, intestines, feet, and nails for fungi and tumors and lesions so that we can live our lives in constant fear and look up to Dr. Weil like he’s Big Brother.

Using the same safety measures as we would with any type of fresh food that we eat, I’d say that the moral of this story is to check your food for mold, sniff it for weird fungi-like odors, and put your goddamn peanut butter in the fridge!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Do our Bodies have "Body-Wisdom" ?

Last night, I sat in on a nutrition course at Columbia University in Teachers College. The course was called: Food, nutrition and behavior. It focused on the physiological, psychological, and socio-cultural factors that affect eating behaviors and the development of individual and cultural food patterns.

It certainly had me thinking about whether or not humans have the ability to physiologically self-select certain foods. In other words, do humans have the natural ability to know which nutrients their bodies are deficient in, and can humans naturally choose these nutrients in order to avoid deficiency. Koala Bears are more specific eaters—they eat eucalyptus leaves. Pandas eat bamboo. There is no need to self-select. Humans, rats, and cockroaches can eat everything. This is why the “body wisdom” argument is valid. Having not read any of the research, the discussion still sparked some thoughts on my end:

1. If one were to contend that we do have this so-called "body wisdom," I think the answer could be found within taste. If "we eat what we like," then, aside from our knowledge-base about foods and how we use this knowledge to select foods, our tongues do much of the choosing for us. Maybe some tongues have a keener internal detector and recognition system than others! MAYBE, Darwin's survival of the fittest arguement is "fitting." Those with the "superior taste buds," (who enjoy the taste of avocado, olives, whole grains…etc) perhaps are more predisposed to healthier eating. I don't know, just a thought.

2. Now we add in the knowledge factor, and using this knowledge about foods to our health advantage. People could be conscious about health foods and its effects—AND STILL NOT SELECT A NUTRITIOUS DIET. Does this have to do with body wisdom and where does psychology come in? How do we distinguish between physiological hungers for specific foods from mental hunger for specific foods?

3. How do guilty pleasures fit into this puzzle? Although some would certainly beg to differ, I don't think we have physiological NEEDS for chocolate, and yet the "mental deficiency" is so powerful that it can be misinterpreted as a physiological need or DEPENDENCY. Maybe this should fall under the relationship between tastes of foods to neurological responses…

4. Also, when given an array of choices, kids opt for the sweeter tastes of milk and fruit. This could in part be due to the sweet palatable tastes of the lactose and fructose sugars. But what if kids' body-wisdom is directing them toward the foods that they need most. I actually feel that kids DO have body wisdom here—aside from taste. Since kids' bodies are constantly growing and need more energy, their bodies might internally select foods that will convert into quick energy. This way, kids can match their nutritional needs with their energy needs. Therefore, I really think a strong argument can be made for physiological self-selection of food, at least in this case.

5. Animals try to avoid deficiency. Understandable. Random choice allows animals to fulfill certain deficiencies. Absolutely. Based solely upon this exact principle, restrictive diets will NEVER work. Providing this simple, logical, and yet influential piece of information can perhaps help the Great Dieters of America.

Nutrition Website

My personal blog here at Blogger is still going to remain intact; however, please visit my new website,, which will host more nutrition topics (because obviously you just can't get enough!)