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How to Eat Gluten-Free

Most food is just trash. -My mother Go to a nice restaurant and first thing, they bring out a basket of bread. Go to the grocery store and you'll find aisles and aisles of wheat products: cereal, cake mix, cookies, crackers, batter coated meat, noodles, baked goods, bread, and so on. My mother, who loves pre-packaged food, tells me most of the rest of the packaged stuff has wheat, too. And is there an office left that doesn't serve birthday cake at least once a month? How do you avoid wheat or gluten for a month? (Why should you try? Read this --the benefits I've seen from a wheat-free diet.) A suggestion: if you find it hard to stop eating it once you start, then don't start. Let me tell you about my results with moderation and total elimination. Moderation. In the late 90s, I saw a nutritionist for my acne and she said I should avoid eating wheat. I cut down on the wheat, but didn't quit it entirely. My skin saw some improvement, but that was about all as f

Why Try Gluten-Free?

I'm not into giving up foods without good reason. I've given up certain foods because, through trial and error, I've learned they make me feel lousy. Some people preach moderation, but I don't want to feel well in moderation. I want to feel fantastic, preferably all the time. For me, that's required giving up wheat, which contains gluten. When I gave up wheat, I lost weight, my appetite ratcheted way down, most of my bloating disappeared, I had more energy, and my chronic sinus congestion eventually went away, among other benefits. Your own reaction to a food is a great reason to eat it or not, but there are some iffy reasons people more or less permanently give up or moderate certain foods: An observational study stating A is associated with B isn't a good reason. (See this , this , this and this .) "Because my doctor said so" isn't necessarily a good reason, either: doctors aren't required to know anything useful about nutrition. I'm r

What a Difference a Year Made

Merry Christmas! In a little while, I'll be with my family, celebrating with a low-carb Christmas dinner. We'll be snacking on the low-carb goodies I made for them yesterday: low-carb chocolate peanut butter cookies, pate, roasted almonds, and some goat cheese I bought. Why low-carb? Because in the past year, cutting down on carbs has solved so many problems for me and my mother. A year ago today when I started this blog, I was eating a high-carb (~180 grams per day), low-fat, adequate protein diet. I was scheduled for a root canal. I needed acid blockers, four-hour naps every weekend, frequent meals, and visits to the chiropractor. I was also anemic and putting on weight. This, even though I ate so-called "good carbs" and worked out six days a week. In January, I cut out wheat and began slowly losing weight and feeling less bloated. In February, I cut way, way down on all carbs (to around 50 grams per day) and the fat fell off fast. My need for the naps, fre

Last-Minute Christmas Gifts

Last-minute gifts are usually crummy--but they don't have to be. Pretty much everybody likes treats, and a lot of people prefer homemade gifts (if only for the spirit of the thing). Think about giving some delicious, homemade low-carb goodies. Just note that some people are sensitive to artificial sweeteners. Let them know if you've used that or any ingredients they might not expect. No hidden carb fudge. I've made this, and it's fantastic. Easy, too. Recipe courtesy of the Blood Sugar 101 site, so this should be appropriate for diabetic loved ones, or anyone who absolutely has to watch their blood sugar. Cinnamon-Roasted Almonds. This sounds awesome, and it's highly rated. Substitute Splenda for sugar, 1:1. I just might make this tonight. Homemade mayonnaise. An unusual gift, but my mother actually requested this. She needs a few spoonfuls of the good stuff because she doesn't want to use the lumpy, clumpy stuff from the store. She'll be pleasantly surp

Want Easy Meals? Don't Light the Oven

I've just figured out why I've never found it hard to cook for one person, or to make everything from scratch. It's not cooking talent--I've never invented a recipe. It's not fancy equipment--I have a basic stove, a 30-year-old microwave, a one-speed blender, a hand-crank food processor, and very basic pots, pans, cutlery and utensils--nothing else. It's not that I have a lot of time, either, being gone 11 hours a day. Here's my secret: Don't light the oven. Why this works: food that can be steamed, boiled, fried or cooked in a pressure cooker (that is, cooked on the stove top) tends to be fast and easy to prepare. Food that doesn't need to be cooked at all tends to be even easier. Baking and roasting, on the other hand, take a long time, and the recipes tend to involve a lot of steps. It heats up the house, too. Living in a house without central air conditioning, I'm opposed to lighting the oven in the summer. Baked and roasted recipes often m

Nose Job Healed after Eleven Short Years

Eleven years after my nose job, my nose has finally healed. Back in 1999, I had septoplasty to straighten the inside of my nose . My doctor told me it would help me prevent my frequent sinus infections. (It didn't.) For the first time, I could breathe through both sides of my nose at once, but at the cost of constant nosebleeds. The septum (the cartilage inside the center of the nose) didn't heal until a few weeks ago. Last May--seven months ago--I started taking megadoses of zinc. The nosebleeds mostly stopped. Then a few weeks ago after reading an abstract (1) on iron interfering with zinc absorption, I began taking iron at night and zinc in the morning. (According to the article, the interference applies only to non-food sources of the minerals. Go ahead and have your surf and turf without worry.) An aside: since taking my iron and zinc at different times, I've been able to cut down on the magnesium. I went from 750 mg to 500 mg per day. Over the past year, I'v

Braised Oxtail Deliciousness

I wrote a few days ago that oxtail might be an acquired taste --but found that to be mostly wrong tonight when I had braised oxtail for dinner. It looked just as good as the picture on Steffen's Dinners blog , whose recipe I used, even though I made a few changes to reduce the carbs. More on that in a minute. The meat had the texture of ribs, the flavor of a beef roast, and was fatty-oily like duck. The bigger pieces tasted better than the small piece, which was a little gamey. I omitted the turnips (mostly because I don't like them), used only one tomato, and served it with mushrooms instead of pasta. That was another new food tonight--some mushrooms that looked and felt like little white sponges. I sliced one and sauteed it in butter--wonderful!

Avoiding Sugar: Lessons from a Diabetic in a Sugar Shack

" It's the most fattening time of the year ." -Bob Rivers My mother enjoys telling people she lives in a crack house. That's true, metaphorically speaking: she has a raging case of diabetes and a husband who lives on sweets and starch and offers them to her every day. (He's diabetic too--he just doesn't care.) The junk food temptations people deal with at holidays are part of everyday life for my mother. Her stakes are high: an average person might gain ten or fifteen pounds over a month of indulgence, but two bites of healthywholegrainoatmeal sends my mom's blood sugar over 200--the definition of diabetes. Blood sugars at that level can cause tissue and organ damage. I asked Mom what her strategies were for resisting starchy food--which she loves. Her answer: I just don't eat it. Why not? It raises my blood sugar. When? About an hour later. What happens? I don't feel good. I get nervous and shaky and I can't write. I've seen my

Buying Nutrients by the Pound

There's a food group that seems to be getting some much deserved love. It's inexpensive, full of nutrients, all natural, it's been eaten for millennia, and it's easy to prepare. It's variety meat--liver, oxtail, and various organ meats. (The downside is that some of these are an acquired taste.) Vitamin Cottage was out of beef liver today, so I went to Denver Urban Homesteaders. Bill Flentje at the Ranch Direct Foods counter said he's been selling cuts that are normally unpopular, like the oxtail and liver I bought. (Salmon was selling well, too, and someone bought five pounds of liverwurst.) But the t-bone steaks weren't moving. Are people buying nutrients by the pound? I don't know, but check the vitamin and mineral content of beef liver here (set the serving size to 100g). (Notice you'd have to eat seven cups of spinach to get that much iron.) Now look at the nutrients in a t-bone (set the serving size to 100 grams to compare). It doesn't

Traumatic Brain Injury Afflicts How Many Vets?

Have you seen or heard the ads for a nonprofit that aids veterans? "One in five returning vets has a traumatic brain injury." I pictured thousands of troops returning from duty, unable to perform everyday tasks--and the image didn't seem realistic. What does the statistic on the radio ad really mean? First, the image of severe brain damage doesn't apply to every case. According to the Mayo Clinic , Traumatic brain injury is usually the result of a sudden, violent blow to the head — which launches the brain on a collision course with the inside of the skull. This collision can bruise the brain, tear nerve fibers and cause bleeding. Traumatic brain injury may also be caused by objects such as bullets or even a shattered piece of the skull entering brain tissue. The severity of traumatic brain injury can vary greatly, depending on the part of the brain affected and the extent of the damage. A mild traumatic brain injury may cause temporary confusion and headache, but

Got Gallstones?

If you have gallstones, you must check out the Fat Fiction blog at http://www.fatfiction.co.uk/gallstones/ . Mike W., who writes the blog, started researching medical literature after suffering from gallstone attacks. Based on this, he has developed a theory of how gallstones form and how they can be eliminated. The short answer for eliminating them : you need sufficient minerals (especially magnesium), you must eliminate gluten (an antinutrient) from your diet, reduce other antinutrients such as grains, legumes and sugar, avoid trigger foods, and take certain supplements. (Hmmm, this sounds familiar--kind of like this post on absorbing vitamins and minerals .) I believe Mike is also planning to show before and after pictures of his gallbladder in five months to show how much the stones have dissolved. God speed!

Low-cost, Highly Effective Exercise

Want to exercise without spending a lot of money? If you're self-motivated and don't have health problems like a touchy back or a heart condition, consider working out at home. I've worked out at home for years and prefer it to going to a gym. When you work out at home, there are no dues, no commute, no public shower, and no pressure to buy expensive workout clothes and puffy, high-tech shoes. I exercise barefoot in the summer and in basic canvas tennis shoes in the winter. I work out on my own schedule to my own music or enjoy the quiet. There's no pressure to keep up with others. I use Fred Hahn’s Slow Burn method of weightlifting (see Exercise without Joint Pain ). All I need are four sets of free weights, a yoga mat, a fan, a timer and a metronome. The last two items are free online (links are in the Exercise without Joint Pain post). I do this workout twice a week. Keep safety in mind, especially if you work out alone. Get familiar with any machines you use so yo

Are you Cold?

If you're like me and work in a climate-controlled office, a lot of your female coworkers say, "It's freezing in here!" I used to chill easily, but now I wonder what they're talking about. (No, I'm not in menopause.) I'm not running the heater in my car nearly as much as I used to, either, even when it's nighttime and in the 30s and 40s. I usually don't feel the need to. Where is credit due here? The type of clothes I wear hasn't changed: usually slacks, a cotton shirt and a wool blazer for the office and a coat and alpaca hat and gloves outdoors. I did buy a long down coat, being inspired by my new style icon Mello (on the right) from Death Note, but it just replaced my slightly shorter down coat. I've even worn sandals and short skirts recently. Not together, though: if I'm bundled up in pants and a coat, I can wear sandals; if I'm wearing a coat and tall boots, I can wear a short skirt and save the tights for work. What chang

Both Feet on the Ground

My mother is one step closer to walking again. Four years ago, my mom had back surgery, which started a chain of disasters: she developed deep bed sores from lack of care, she was assaulted in a rehab center, and she ended up in a wheelchair. One of the sores was on her heel, and so even putting weight on that foot was out of the question. My mom's heel pretty much healed in July . There was a scab on it until a few weeks ago, but no depth to the wound. With the scab gone, one roadblock to walking again is gone. The other roadblock was that she couldn't put her heel all the way down to the floor. Being in a wheelchair for four years, her muscles had tightened and atrophied. My parents and I discussed three options: One doctor recommended making a small incision in the leg to either stretch or cut a tendon or muscle, allowing the heel to move downward. (Isn't that what some people have done to racehorses to end their careers?) Another doctor wanted to fit a boot to Mom&#

A Shout-out from Jimmy Moore

I'm feeling a bit puffed up, but not from overindulging on Thanksgiving. (My indulgence was expensive red snapper and other low-carb fare.) Jimmy Moore, author of the Livin' la Vida Low Carb blog , has recommended my blog, among several others, to his readers: As has become my tradition when I leave for vacation, I have searched far and wide for the best and brightest new and exciting low-carb diet and health blogs on the planet that have come on my radar screen in recent months. Many of these feature the talented writing skills of people you should probably be paying more attention to which is why I like giving them a boost featuring them here at my blog. Moore's blog features interviews, podcasts, videos and links on health and diet. The focus is on low-carb, but he interviews people with other viewpoints as well. He himself struggled with a weight problem: ...in 1999 I did an ultra low-fat (almost no-fat) diet because we have always been taught that eating fat makes

Dodging a Bullet: Avoid Unnecessary Meds

Back in May, I wrote that my continual nosebleeds had mostly stopped since taking large doses of zinc. That's still the case. What I didn't know until a few days ago was that the Flonase my doctor prescribed for my nosebleeds could have given me diabetes. (The other alternative he presented was cauterization. However, I tend to shy away from treatments that remind me of a Civil War battlefield hospital.) Jenny Ruhl at the Diabetes Update blog reported that a study showed a 34% increased risk of diabetes from taking inhaled steroids . When I asked her if Flonase was one of the steroids, she said it was, and added that a steroid wasn't likely to heal my nose and might have made it worse with time. As I've written here before, there is diabetes on both sides of my family, and I may have genes for the disease. Continuing to take Flonase might have made me diabetic. Why did I decide to take zinc instead of Flonase? The Flonase helped a little, but not much, and I was alre

Fruit Fail

My healthy diet doesn't include fruit. Shocked? You're not alone: this surprises people who continually hear "eat lots of fruits and vegetables!" I initially stopped eating fruit when I read Norm Robillard's theory of carbohydrates causing acid reflux in susceptible individuals. I found fruit to be the worst food for giving me acid reflux, and I've rarely touched it since. Anytime I have, I've almost always regretted it within 20 minutes. Non-starchy vegetables quickly became a much bigger part of my diet: they're low-carb and full of nutrients. Am I missing anything by avoiding fruit? Lots of vitamin C and fiber? I made a chart to find out. Using Nutritiondata.com, I chose five fruits and five vegetables that I eat (or used to eat) and looked up how much of certain vitamins they contained. I chose vitamins that most of them had at least of little of. I also noted their total carb and fiber content. (Click for larger image.) Note that the bott

Does it Matter where you Eat your Food?

Have you heard the advice not to eat at your desk, not to eat alone, not to have the food on your plate touching, and not to eat while watching TV? It seems the idea is that if you eat under those conditions, the food you're eating must be the kind that will make you fat. Or you'll mindlessly eat large enough quantities to gain weight. I almost always eat under those conditions, and haven't found any of this to mean anything. Would it make a difference if I plopped down with some coworkers to eat the lunch I packed? Or if I took my plate to the dining room table instead of here at my computer? Maybe it would be even better if I put my dog's dish on the table so she could join me. I really might end up eating less that way: she's a terrific scavenger. I don't think it makes a bit of difference where you eat your food. It's what you eat. Of course, if you don't plan and prepare, you can end up eating whatever is handy, and that, I suspect, is a real reas

Dana Carpender: Food and Thought

I'd like to introduce you to someone I've added to my blog list: Dana Carpender at Hold the Toast. She's written several low-carb cookbooks and once struggled with a weight problem. In her book How I Gave up my Low-fat Diet and Lost 40 Pounds, Carpender describes eating a high-carb, low-fat diet: "hungry enough to eat the carpet" and unable lose weight doing cardio four or five times a week. As a kid, she stole money from her parents to support her sugar addiction. A low-carb diet got her out of reverse. The book begins with an introduction by one of her Internet friends who wanted to prove her (or any other woman) wrong. He goes on, sounding like a real piece of work, but tells a compelling story of how a low-carb diet saved his life. Then Carpender tells of her own experience with different diets and sneaks up on you with science backed up with a 17-page bibliography and her own experience and that of friends and family--and even a few complete strangers she

My Low-carb Halloween Plans

Chocolate is rich, chocolate is now Beans from Brazil and the milk from a cow. Stephany's Chocolates, bah do bah do wah. Please don't mention the chemical connection That chocolate makes in my head. It's chocolate mints I'm saying It's a chocolate fix I'm cravin' If I can't be in love, I'll have Stephany's instead. -1990s radio ad for a Denver chocolatier Chocolate is, to me, a food group unto itself. Since going low-carb, I'm no longer face-down in it, but still partake of it. It's hard for me to resist. I ate some little cookies last week at a wine store because they were coated with chocolate, knowing what wheat does to me. Even as I write this, I'm on my second dish of low-carb chocolate ice cream, knowing it will likely give me an upset stomach later. The past few Sundays, I've gone out dancing having forgotten to eat dinner. My party place conveniently had gluten-free chocolate desserts--was it really an accident that I fo

How I Beat a Cold in Three Days

Three nights ago, I was having a normal Sunday evening dancing at my favorite club. Except for the afternoon nap I took, the tickle in my throat, and being completely motionless when I sat down, nothing was unusual. Maybe those should have been clues that within a few hours, I would go home early (!) and consider having my doctor check for strep throat the next day--my throat was that sore. Once I got home, I took all the vitamin D3 I had and went to bed. I’d read of colds being stopped by large doses of the sunshine vitamin, but the next morning, I felt velcroed to the bed. I still had a sore throat. I called my employer and croaked that I wouldn't be at work. Being a cheapskate, I decided to try to get well on my own before seeing a doctor. It’s Wednesday night, and I’m well again. Tuesday wasn’t bad, either--I did a boatload of work since I took Monday off. I had very little nasal congestion during this cold. My strategies: Vitamin D3 in 10,000 IU doses, two per day for two

Trouble Swallowing? Read This

Some of the most frightening experiences I've ever had were when food got stuck in my throat and I couldn't breathe. I've had the Heimlich Maneuver done to me a few times and have had to go to the hospital once I could breathe, but couldn't get the food to go up or down. The doctors injected me with Valium; when that didn't work on one occasion, they had to mechanically push down the calcium pill that was stuck. (Calcium causes muscle contraction; that may have had something to do with it being stuck so badly.) Since I seem to have found something that has ended my trouble swallowing food, I'm sure you'll understand why I feel like I've found the holy grail. A few years ago, my swallowing problem got to the point that food was getting stuck in my throat a couple of times a week. A gastroenterologist did an endoscopy and found an esophageal ulcer, or hole in the lining of my throat. Food and phlegm were getting stuck there. I also had an acute infection

Turf Toe

The second most painful thing that ever happened to me was turf toe. (The worst was an infected tooth.) It's a common injury in football, wrestling and rugby; I managed to get it while dancing in my dining room. I was practicing a Charleston move called hacksaws when my right foot didn't clear the floor. It was like pounding my fist into the floor, except it was my foot. Basically, I sprained the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint of my big toe. For the next few weeks that winter, I shuffled around in my sandals, the only shoes I could get on my swollen foot. At least it wasn't snowing. A few things helped my foot feel better. My doctor gave me a shot in my foot and put a dressing on it. (The dressing was another reason I could wear nothing but sandals that adjusted across the toes.) The shot took away some of the pain and swelling. Another thing that helped was acupressure. After a few minutes pressing points K3 and K6, especially, I could walk without pain. (I used the book

Dance Class Lessons on Diet and Exercise

What would you expect to learn in a day of dance workshops? In four hours of dance classes today, I learned new rhythms, ironed out a few glitches of the lindy basic step, and got some valuable pointers for following. As a bonus, I saw some theories about diet and exercise illustrated. The classmates I had lunch with were physically fit dancers who brought sandwiches or got a burger. The sandwiches had the grainy nuts-and-twigs style bread. Some of the sandwich and burger eaters remarked after lunch that it would be a good time for a nap. I'd had a low-carb lunch of coffee, sausage, egg and cheese and some raw, home-grown vegetables kindly shared by some classmates. Earlier, I'd had a homemade protein shake with olive oil and a piece of low-carb pumpkin pie. I felt relaxed and alert after lunch--very different from how tired I felt towards the end of a day of balboa classes in 2003 and a day of Charleston classes in 2007. The difference is, I think, because I didn't have

"It Makes my Teeth Hurt"

My sister Connie used to make green chili that was so hot you wouldn't have wanted to walk barefoot through it. Even our father couldn't eat it, and he likes spicy food. Our mom, on the other hand, can't tolerate anything remotely spicy. For some reason, my mom's mouth recently became so sensitive that it was hard for her to eat anything. When she tried gargling with sesame oil, it helped her mouth feel better--even though she says it tastes awful. I also had sensitive gums a few years ago--I think I was brushing too hard. Anything hot, cold or acid (like vinegar or lemon juice) really made them hurt. Avoiding these things helped, and so did brushing more gently with Sensodyne toothpaste. (I hadn't yet read about the benefits of sesame oil.) Possibly, taking more zinc eating more fat has helped also. These are both good for your skin; they may be good for your gums also. And now that I no longer eat a starchy, sugary diet, I don't feel any need to brush hard,

Getting Rid of your Pain in the Neck

What if you had severe, chronic neck pain and your doctor didn't have a clue what to do for you? That was the place I was in during my early 30s: typing was agony, I couldn't press the Dictaphone buttons with my left hand hard enough to engage them, and I was too stiff to shimmy in dance class. Most of what I recall of an outdoor performance of a Shakespeare play of that time (the one where they were stuck on an island) regards squirming around trying to get comfortable. (If you were sitting behind me, I apologize.) A friend referred me to a chiropractor, who diagnosed two pinched nerves in my neck and between my shoulders. Nothing was torn or fractured, and IME, when that's the case, doctors who practice traditional Western medicine won't be able to diagnose anything. That's not to say you shouldn't see an M.D. If something is torn or broken, they can help where a chiropractor and the treatments I'm going to talk about cannot. After several chiropractic t

No Shoulder Pain: This Calls for a New Handbag

A new job and a svelte new figure: what could be a better reason to buy some new togs? How about a shoulder that's as strong and free of pain as it was at age 18? When I was that age, I carried around 20 pounds of photo equipment for a job that lasted three years. After that, I carried 20 pounds of textbooks around a large campus for four and a half years. By my early 30s, I had chronic neck and shoulder pain, sometimes severe, sometimes niggling. I took to carrying a backpack instead of a purse to lighten the load on the shoulder. Besides seeing a chiropractor, which helped a lot, I learned yoga neck stretches from the book Yoga for Americans written in 1959 by Indra Devi. I learned to pop my neck--loudly--at will. Without the exercises, I'd have needed a lot more trips to the chiropractor. In the past few weeks, without thinking about it, I've been carrying my backpack on my left shoulder--the one that bore the textbooks and the photo equipment for seven and a half y

Gas Bloating: The Incredible Shrinking Waistband and Exploding Intestines

If you've been through it, you know the feeling: you get dressed in the morning and all is well. You have breakfast, and maybe a mid-morning snack, and then your pants don't fit. Surely you didn't put on five pounds in two hours, you think. (I had one tweed skirt in particular that became uncomfortable around 10 a.m.) Some days, you even look like you're pregnant. (That was when my big lavender shirt-dress came in handy.) It's gas bloating--but what causes it? Can you stop it? The short answer is that I got the bloating to go away without medication or supplements--and I had tried several. My understanding of the causes of bloating is that certain foods naturally lead to gas, and it's hard for some people to digest various foods. (There may be other causes, but these are the two I'll talk about here.) Which foods lead to gas? According to Heartburn Cured (1) by Norm Robillard, a microbiologist, it's mostly carbohydrates. Fat and protein don'

Healthier, Whiter Teeth

One of my goals is to die with all 32 teeth in my head. So far, I've met the all-32-teeth part. Up until around age 35, I'd had only one cavity. It was so small that the dentist, with my permission, drilled without anesthetic. I brushed twice a day, and usually didn't floss. Being without insurance and low on funds during many of my younger days, I'd go years without seeing a dentist, and have only a tiny bit of tartar on the rare visit. And no, I didn't drink lots of milk. Yuck! At 34, I started on a low-fat, high-carb diet plan that I followed for six years. (At around 180 grams per day, it was high-carb compared to what I'd been eating.) In those six years, I got eight cavities. I had lots of plaque. I got an electric toothbrush, brushed for two and a half minutes morning and night and flossed every day. The cavities and the plaque kept forming--and my teeth were becoming dingy-colored. Around Christmas last year, I found myself in the worst pain of my life:

Less Sit and Scoot

"Poop Van Scoop. We pick up where your dog leaves off. Number one in the number two business." -A long-running ad for backyard sanitation services. Readers, if a post about canine gastrointestinal problems (read: pooping problems) isn't your cup of tea, why don't you read this post about how music made me feel better than the 20 pills a day I was taking at one point in my life. I've always had dogs, but I never had one who would sit and scoot, until Molly. Dogs do this when their anal glands are too full; conventional wisdom says that hard, small stools cause the problem by not pressing on the anal glands enough to empty them. I just knew that every so often, I had to take Molly to the vet to have them drained. Sometimes they even became infected, or "full and stinky" in veterinary terms. For the past few years, I've been fiddling with Molly's diet to help her poop be less like jawbreakers. From what I'd read about digestion, I thought th

Cardio: A Waste of Valuable Dance Time

"I'd rather hold a girl in my arms than a football." -Joe DeCicco, friend and dancing fanatic Have you heard that it takes a woman 77 hours of exercise to lose a kilogram of fat? (For us Americans, that's half a pound.) That's according to a study cited by Dr. John Briffa .(1) The women who huffed and puffed three hours a week for a year ended up 4.4 pounds lighter than the sedentary women. That doesn't surprise me: my own weight loss involved a lot less exercise than what I'd been doing. I did no cardio workouts, just strength training . I had more time and energy for dancing, which is a stress reliever, helps keep me in shape, and it's a ton of fun. It's not expensive to dance (as long as you stay away from the studios). I've found excellent lessons at clubs where the teachers really care about the students getting it. Here in Denver, there are dancing clubs that are run by nonprofit organizations, where the prices are reasonable and