Archive for category weight loss/overweight

Timothy Ferriss’s 4-Hour Body Book Promises Weight Loss, Superhumanity, Muscles And Spectacular Sex

Timothy Ferriss shows off his 4-hour body

Timothy Ferriss wrote The 4-Hour Workweek, loves fitness and posing with his shirt off. Remind you of anyone I know? I can almost relate to this guy.

Here’s is a NY Times book reviewer’s excited statement about Ferriss’s new book: “The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman, made its debut at No. 1 on the hard-cover advice list on Jan. 2. It’s among the craziest, most breathless things I’ve ever read.”

“As befits the former chief executive of a nutritional supplements company, Mr. Ferriss talks up a witches’ brew of juices, nuts, potions and drugs. Here’s a typical burp from an early chapter: “Overfat? Try timed protein and pre-meal lemon juice. Undermuscled? Try ginger and sauerkraut. Can’t sleep? Try upping your saturated fat or using cold exposure.” Want to have “wolverine” sex? Who doesn’t? Eat 4 Brazil nuts, 20 raw almonds and 2 capsules of fermented cod-liver oil and butterfat four hours before intercourse.”

Now this sure sounds like an unusual diet.

“Mr. Ferriss offers advice about so many disparate things—not simply losing weight and building muscle and improving sex and living forever, but learning to hold your breath longer than Houdini (!) and hit baseballs like Babe Ruth (!!)”

Check out Dwight Garner’s book review . Maybe also read the book…

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Are You Causing Your Kids To Gain Weight?

I gained 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Lots of good food. Too much family time to exercise. Tennis buddies on vacation. I was trying to add just a few pounds, so that I wouldn’t look thin or even gaunt. Oops, too many desserts!

However I just found two articles that describe how parents are causing their kids to add blubber. The first says a recent study of 9-month-olds reveals that 32% of them are overweight or obese. And 34% of 2-year-olds. Too much formula and maybe shoving the bottle in to quiet the infant. Breast-fed-only babies don’t have the same result. Some infants are given soda in their bottles and french fries as well.

The second article lists nine ways parents are sending the wrong message or setting the wrong example. Check it out to see if you are seriously responsible for your kid’s chubby body. Here are a few of the suggestions, some of which we can apply to ourselves. Maybe my love of desserts and scorn for broccoli is due to being bribed as a child…

Don’t give up trying to get him to eat healthier fare. It’s not unusual for children to start liking a particular food only after they’ve tried it five or 10 times.

Kids who eat by themselves—often in front of a TV or computer screen—may eat more, or eat the wrong kinds of foods. Experts say it’s best to eat together as a family, preferably around a table.

Ever use dessert to bribe your kid to eat his vegetables? That sends the message that veggies are “bad” and dessert is “good.”

Some well-meaning parents insist that children clean their plates. But that only encourages kids to eat when they’re not hungry. Better to cut back on portion sizes. If your child is still hungry, you can always give seconds.

Mistake: Pushing Your Child to Play Sports You Like. If your kid doesn’t like your physical activity, encourage your child to find another sport or form of exercise she really enjoys.

No need to chain your child to the treadmill or weight machine. In fact, it could be counterproductive, because pre-adolescent bodies generally aren’t ready for adult-style exercise regimens. Instead, plan active outings, like a trip to the zoo, a family bike ride, or a walk. Kids should generally get about 60 minutes of physical activity a day.

Mistake: Setting a Bad Example. If kids see you plopping down in front of the TV every evening, they’re likely to think that’s the thing to do. So even if you prefer sedentary activities like reading or doing crossword puzzles, find something active to do.

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Getting Fatter As I Get Fitter

Unlike many people concerned with their weight and fitness, I have been working hard at GAINING weight. When I was playing tennis 15-18 days a month in the summer, sometimes 4-5 hours a day, I lost weight and was down below 170 pounds, even at 167 one brief period. So my friends complained that I was looking too thin, gaunt, unhealthy.

Like making pate out of goose liver, I began forcing myself to eat more food—even when I wasn’t hungry—to add pounds, bulk, puffy cheeks. This week, after all the desserts around for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I topped the scale at 178-plus one evening. I HAVE GAINED OVER 10 POUNDS. Does my face look “healthier?” I am told it does. Are my abs disappearing? I think so. It’s not a fair test, because I haven’t been doing crunches.

But I have been doing push ups for over eight weeks now, and working on a prescribed program for four weeks that claims I can get to 100 push ups nonstop in just six weeks! Impossible for me to do it that fast, however. I am still stuck on the first day of the fourth week, which sounds more impressive than it is—I was in good enough shape at the start that the program says to jump right to the third week. Now I can’t get past the fourth day (there are three days scheduled each week). I am a long way from completing the fifth of five sets for the day: 32 push ups. I have made it to 13 and then 14 in two tries…it took me three attempts to reach the 21 repetitions for the fourth set. Seems to me it takes huge triceps, because mine blow up like downspouts.

Anyway I may have to supplement my exercise to build up more muscle and strength. At this rate it is going to take me months to reach the promised goal of 100 push ups in six weeks…assuming I can make it to the finish at all.

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Dieting Advice From A High School Friend Who Just Died

Kay Robbins in high school around 1958

I learned yesterday that a girl I went with to our senior prom had died the day before “of a stroke during a routine doctor’s visit.” I hadn’t seen or talked to Kay since our last high school reunion three years ago. Her lifelong commitment to the gym had kept her in seemingly buoyant shape. She was energetic and clever as always. She was easily recognizable as the girl I knew from the 50’s, unlike some other friends from my teens. I have no idea if she had any illnesses or health issues. She was not thin, but most grandmas of 69 have put on a few pounds over the years.

I write these words while she is being buried in Miami. I am definitely stunned by the suddenness of her departure, as are many classmates who have commented on our school web site. I am hearing stories of people who were major athletes and died suddenly at much younger years. One tale today was about a 40-year-old man playing paddle tennis who was told a joke between games and literally died while he was laughing. That same storyteller told me how he’d seen an 86-year-old die after a game on the very same tennis court we were playing on. Some friends think it’s better to go suddenly, unexpectedly, rather than suffer painfully over years.

You know I am all for fitness and good health. I want to live longer and healthier. But most importantly, in a youthful way, not an old man’s exit hugging the couch and my drink, while watching TV. I watch what I eat instead and strive to keep my muscles toned, even defined, and my heart pumping rapidly through sport. It turns out I am lucky that I did not wear out my body all those years that I was working in an office, unlike my friend I lunched with on Tuesday who has been running and playing racket sports all his life, but is now suffering with hurt knees that need surgeries and couldn’t take the stop-and-start strains of tennis or squash.

Kay Rosenfeld giving advice as Bubbe around 2005

For years Kay wrote an advice column for the Miami Herald that was called “Bubbe Says.” Bubbe means grandmother in Yiddish, and Kay’s witty wisdom was proffered cleverly and directly. Here is one of her old responses involving the importance—or not—of weight loss. Enjoy her advice and also her skill with words:


Dear Bubbe,

My problem is my weight. For the past 10 years, I have been trying to lose the same 10 pounds. I have gone on every diet on the planet, spent thousands of hours in the gym, but I can never get it off and keep it off.

I am turning 50 this month and I wanted to hit the magic number with a smaller one on the scale. Any advice?

— Heavy Hearted, Kendall

Dear Heavy,

Yeah, my advice is to lighten up.

With frenetic lifestyles and no time or energy to cook at home, we are big on fast food and supersized portions, which equals supersized people. Thousands of books tell us how to get it off, TV offers up The Biggest Loser, Oprah’s in great shape (this year), and Kirstie Alley keeps asking if we’ve called Jennie yet. (No. Now go away.)

We’ve gone as far as surgically removing parts of our stomachs. We lipo away the pounds. There is now talk of making Xenical, a prescription fat blocker, an over-the-counter drug.

We may be obsessed, but we are still obese.

Consider this: If you lost that final 10 pounds, how would your life change? It wouldn’t change a whit. In fact, you might not even go down a size. All that agonizing—and for what?

Listen, 10 pounds or no 10 pounds, most people will never look like a Vogue supermodel, particularly at 50 and probably not at 25. Vogue supermodels don’t even look like that in real life without airbrushing.

So don’t take all the enjoyment out of one of life’s greatest, most sensual pleasures. People can quit smoking and give up the booze, but they really can’t stop eating. (Anorexics, take heed.)

If you can possibly give yourself permission to eat a healthy diet—most things in moderation and some artery clogging, apply-directly-to-hips good garbage on occasion—by not obsessing, you might gain a little perspective and lose a few pounds. Or not.

You can read more about Kay and some of her published columns here .

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More Celebrity Inspirations For Weight Losers

I know so many people who want to lose weight and are constantly working at it. Maybe these celebrities who’ve succeeded at dropping a few pounds—100 in one case—can be an inspiration. Most impressive to me is Anthony Hopkins (below), who shed 75 pounds. “I’m in the gym six days a week, I power walk, live on 800 calories a day.”

Anthony Hopkins shed 75 pounds. I'm in the gym six days a week, I power walk, live on 800 calories a day."

John Goodman was miserable after his weight ballooned to new heights: nearly 400 pounds. He stopped eating sugar and drinking, and hired a trainer. Now he's lost over 100 pounds.

Jennifer Hudson dropped from a size 16 to a size four. And now she's a national spokeswoman for Weight Watchers

Drew Carey (host of The 'The Price Is Right') was tired of all those extra pounds, what with Type 2 diabetes and the inability to lift his step son. So he lost 80 pounds, and has never looked better.

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Do It For Yourself! By Rob Hunt

These past two years have tried to suck the life out of me, and they were on the way to achieving it. Between pulling my son out of his freshman year of college; a stock /retirement portfolio that was in a tail spin; and a business that was barely turning a profit, I was not happy. No, make that I was Mad, and not much company for either my wife or family.

Forever one to do things for others, and leave myself with the short end of the deal, I did an about face, and decided it was time to do something I wanted to do. I spotted a new sign in a building close to my office: TRAIN WITH SMITH. Tried to Google it, got nothing, finally drove in and then contacted “Smith” by email as I could tell from looking in the window that it was a small private gym studio. PERFECT: Close to my office in New Milford, CT, Small, Private, and I knew I’d have to really make a commitment versus my past failures of merely joining a gym.

I liked the few quick exchanges we had on email, so I set up an appointment to meet. I will be honest, I was slightly taken aback when I met Corey Smith, and she at first scared the hell out of me–an attractive young woman in classic proportion yet with arms so muscular that they are almost the size of my thighs. Yet there I was, setting up an appointment for her to personally guide me into better shape. Little did I know that what she really would guide me towards was a happier, better way to live.

I was not fat. I was not horribly out of shape. However, I knew that turning 60 was glaring me in the face; that I wanted to try to keep it at bay. After my first two training classes with Corey, I knew I was getting so very much more than what I would ever get in a gym. I know from past experiences that it is way too easy to make excuses to not go to the gym, or to go and believe you’re doing a work out. I now see that with the proper form and regimen, you get so very much more out of a private training session. I go four times a week, one hour each visit.
Corey really doesn’t believe in a lot of machines; they hold you up, instead of using your own body weight. What first appeared like some instruments of torture dangling from an overhead bar now support me while doing lower abdomen curls, pull ups, as well as a web with handles, which I plank off of while doing all types of arm and back work.

I next signed up for her CLEAN class where she teaches you how to eat more intelligently. What struck me the most that first evening at CLEAN was that it takes 4 weeks to break a habit….She was giving us the opportunity to break bad habits and create new ones…And I did. I now eat 6 meals a day and have more energy and stamina that I can ever remember having. Every three hours I’m eating another meal, not a snack, but a full meal, in a reverse triangle proportion.

(This means that breakfast is the largest and most heavy carb meal. Each subsequent meal is a little smaller and with less heavy carbs. Each is a full meal, meaning proteins, carbs and fats. But no, not a snack of just a piece of cheese and an apple. For breakfast I’ve been known to have 2 slices of whole grain bread, 3 turkey meatballs with tomato sauce, 2 eggs and a slice of avocado. My last meal might be 4 or 5 shrimp, a small salad with some feta cheese in it. My 2nd meal of the day (10 am) might be a cup of Quinoa with cranberries and toasted pecans. I now stop eating starchy carbs at my 3rd meal, which is lunch.

She also drilled into us P.P.P.P.P.P… Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance….I do a lot of cooking for the week on Sunday, so it’s all there ready to pick up and cart with me to eat at the office again at 10, 1, and 4.)

While I don’t fixate on the number, I show that I’ve dropped 12 lbs. However knowing that I have gained so very much muscle strength who knows (or cares) what that real number might be. I’ve given up drinking my nightly beloved Cosmopolitans except for one on Cheat Night, and my evenings are now shared with my family with a smile, instead of just being sprawled on a sofa scowling and mad at my plight in these upsetting economic times.
I would never have thought that the mix of eating better, and exercise would have had such a positive mental re- adjustment on me. I’ve dropped weight, gone off meds, and reshaped my body. But more importantly: I’M HAPPY AGAIN.

Check out the studio and read some of Corey’s newsletters at this Facebook link.

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Sweet Drinks Stink, Shout Out Mike Bloomberg & Mike Sorrentino

“Stop drinking sugar-sweetened beverages” is a message being pushed by two famous Mikes. Soda pop is bad for your health, your fitness, and your abs is their combined shout out.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg & Living Liberty

The mayor recently proposed a ban on people who receive food stamps being able to buy soft drinks with lots of calories and no nutrition. He wants to offset the rise in obesity and diabetes. One sixth of the average teenager’s calories come from sodas. Read more here .

Reality TV star of Jersey Shore, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, absolutely forbids coke and other soft drinks in his diet. You can hear him say it in the video.

He is all for fitness and a powerful six-pack. But in addition to going to the gym and working out 5-6 days a week, you have to watch your diet: “no candy, cakes, snacks, salt, sugar, cokes…drink water all the time.”

After you’re ripped, then you have the maintenance stage, when you CAN have a cookie or a coke here and there. Read more about The Situation right here .

Who would have thought these two Mikes had this much in common!

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Terry Peterson Lost 30 Pounds Riding His Unicycle In His 50’s

I bumped into a video about a 54-year-old who took up unicycling four years ago, lost weight, became fit and now has over 275 videos on his web site . Terry Peterson calls himself UniGeezer, and you should see him do his extreme rides cross country, up stairs, down mountain trails. He’s a real inspiration, and the news broadcasters who interview him all agree he looks half his age.

A really good story about him was written by Tom Berg for the Orange County Register (California) in 2008:

Mountain Biking on One Wheel? Yes!

An alarm rings in most guys’ heads around age 50.

It is nature saying: You know, you won’t live forever!

Some respond with sports cars; some with trophy wives; some join the Peace Corps.

Terry Peterson?

“I said, ‘My God, I cannot button my jeans anymore!’ ” says the professional piano tuner. “It dawned on me I should start exercising.”

Running, however, was out of the question – hard on the knees. Swimming? Inconvenient. Biking? Boring.

“I mulled over the options,” says Peterson, now 52, “and they all seemed boring.”

Until he remembered a short-lived, 1960s fad he tried as a 10-year-old.

Since that day, Peterson’s waistline has shrunk from 35 to 29 inches. His weight dropped from 165 to 140 pounds. His on-line videos elicit responses like: You’re the coolest 52-year-old I’ve ever known!

And he’s virtually dropped the name “Terry.”

When people see him pass now, they point and holler: “Hey, there’s the UniGeezer!”

Pure music to his piano-tuning ears.


The UniGeezer’s uni-verse is filled with uni-spins, uni-drops and uni-fests. He founded the Uni Psychos club. And he writes uni-poetry. Guess what he rides.

Peterson is not simply in love with unicycling. He is head-over-heals, madly, obsessively, compulsively in love with unicycling; specifically mountain unicycling.

That means no low-gear for going up hill – it’s all direct drive. And no coasting going down hill – again, direct drive. It means knowing how to jump, hop and drop off rocks, roots and ruts.

It means dealing with UPDs (Un-Planned Dismounts), and carving out a line to ride over the obstacles in your path.

“It’s a lot like life,” he says.

“I try not to avoid the obstacles. I like to confront them head-on and get over them.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Change Your Mind To Change Your Body…And Change Your Life

Robin Quivers drank sweetened lemonade with red pepper to lose 70 pounds

The three people below (two friends, one celebrity) were all able to change their body weight by finally making some change in their minds. Something clicked that allowed them or compelled them to alter their eating patterns of many many years.

How does that happen, especially after so many frustrating attempts or inability to even deal with their unsatisfactory situation? Sometimes people have life-threatening situations—a heart attack, a doctor’s warning of a probable stroke. But that didn’t happen in these cases.

If we could only harness this energy and discipline in so many other aspects of our lives, we might all be super powers.

Now here are their stories:

Met a friend I hadn’t seen in four months, and she was 25 pounds lighter…positively THIN. She said she’d seen some pictures of herself and finally was fed up with how she was feeding. So she gave up red meat, most carbohydrates, ice cream (which like me she loves), and eats more vegetables. The weight just melted away.

One continuing disappointment for this lady in her 50’s is that she still can’t look like she did in her 20’s, before she was a parent. Not sure there is any solution to that problem. It’s best to be glad we lived all those years, rather than having died earlier, and accept that things change with time, including our bodies. And also to be proud of how much wiser and smarter we are as adults.

Another friend’s scales had needles pointing to 230 pounds, and he finally changed his eating routine, so that he now weighs 189 after about six months. No more skipping breakfast and lunch and then eating enormous meals late at night that fail to satisfy his starving body. Though he is in his late 60’s, he still works full-time with the energy of a man half his age. Now that he is so much lighter, he is probably moving like a teenager.

Scanning the radio stations, I bumped into Robin Quivers for the first time and learned how she lost 70 pounds (of her former 218) by spending weeks drinking just water laced with lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper. It’s called a Master Cleanser, and she was thrilled to also lose some joint pain and aches, sleep much better and make some best-dressed and most-beautiful people lists.

Most impressive about Robin’s words were how she went from not being able to be in a house that lacked ice cream in the freezer—so she had to run out and buy a pint or two to feel sane—to becoming indifferent to the dessert. She no longer felt the deprivation and was not avoiding or curtailing her urges. The desire for unhealthy, fattening foods had gone away.

The video will give you more details, which include a skeptical point of view that this cleansing diet is safe and sound.

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Aging Doesn’t Have To Look Like This

A friend intended to make me laugh by sending me the three pictures below. He suggested that they are all the same females over a lifetime. The images actually make me angry that some folks let themselves fall apart so badly, increase their odds of sickness or even deadly health, and just lose any interest in being attractive, fit or toned.

The article I posted yesterday explains it all—people are lazy and won’t accept how unfit or fat they really are. And if they do notice, they are unwilling to do much about it. What I hear all the time is “Life is short, so why should I deprive myself of a little pleasure.” (…like some ice cream or tasty meat treat with loads of delicious fat). I have to keep reminding myself that my doctor says I just happen to be able to avoid the foods that are bad for me, while others who are overweight neither can nor want to.

On the other hand, one friend told me last night that he now weighs 189 for the first time in years, and that he has lost 30 to 40 pounds in the last few months. His secret: eat small meals and healthy snacks throughout the whole day instead of skipping breakfast and lunch and gorging himself at a late dinner that barely digests while he is sleeping.

young girls at the beach

teen-age girls at the beach

grandmothers at the beach

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Many Americans Don’t Even Know They’re Fat

First I read an article by Amanda Gardner suggesting that fat people don’t realize they are fat. Then a friend sent me some pictures of females at the beach over a 60 or 70 year period. You can see these above and wonder if aging has to lead to such blubberous decay.

I am including some snippets from the article. The biggest culprit suggested by this poll is that overweight comes from lack of exercise more than bad food. I can easily understand this resistance to exercise. These days I find it almost impossible to “exercise” by lifting weights or driving to the gym. That is boring and tedious. But I have no trouble making myself go to the tennis court—over 42 hours last month. That is fun, and I am eager to play. The article does point out, however, that just walking is considered exercise…you don’t have to make beautifully sculpted muscles.

(HealthDay News) — Many Americans have skewed perceptions when it comes to their weight, often believing they are thinner than they really are, even when the scales are shouting otherwise, a new poll finds.

Thirty percent of those in the “overweight” class believed they were actually normal size, while 70 percent of those classified as obese felt they were simply overweight. Among the heaviest group, the morbidly obese, almost 60 percent pegged themselves as obese, while another 39 percent considered themselves merely overweight.

These findings may help to explain why overweight and obesity rates in the United States continue to go up, experts say.

“While there are some people who have body images in line with their actual Body Mass Index, for many people they are not, and this may be where part of the problem lies,” said Regina Corso, vice president of Harris Poll Solutions. “If they do not recognize the problem or don’t recognize the severity of the problem, they are less likely to do something about it.”

And that means that obesity may be becoming the new norm, raising the specter of increasing rates of health threats such as diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.

“I think too many people are unsure of what they should actually weigh,” said Keri Gans, a registered dietician and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. “For many, they have grown up in a culture were most people are overweight and that is the norm, or they have been surrounded by too many celebrities and fashion in the media and think very thin is the norm.”

Most respondents to the poll who felt they were heavier than they should be blamed sloth, rather than poor eating habits, for their predicament.

“We’re seeing the couch potato stigma [syndrome],” Corso said. “Three out of five Americans overall are saying they don’t exercise as much as they should.” Read the rest of this entry »

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New Army Training Program Eliminates The Situp

Just read a New York Times article about how the US Army has instituted a new training program for recruits, who are often overweight and can’t pass the physical tests at boot camp.

…That familiar standby, the situp, is gone, or almost gone. Exercises that look like pilates or yoga routines are in. And the traditional bane of the new private, the long run, has been downgraded.

…the program was created to help address one of the most pressing issues facing the military today: overweight and unfit recruits.

“What we were finding was that the soldiers we’re getting in today’s Army are not in as good shape as they used to be,” said Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, who oversees basic training for the Army. “This is not just an Army issue. This is a national issue.”

Excess weight is the leading reason the Army rejects potential recruits. And while that has been true for years, the problem has worsened as the waistlines of America’s youth have expanded. This year, a group of retired generals and admirals released a report titled “Too Fat to Fight.”

“Between 1995 and 2008, the proportion of potential recruits who failed their physicals each year because they were overweight rose nearly 70 percent,” the report concluded.

Though the Army screens out the seriously obese and completely unfit, it is still finding that many of the recruits who reach basic training have less strength and endurance than privates past. It is the legacy of junk food and video games, compounded by a reduction in gym classes in many high schools, Army officials assert.

As a result, it is harder for recruits to reach Army fitness standards, and more are getting injured along the way. General Hertling said that the percentage of male recruits who failed the most basic fitness test at one training center rose to more than one in five in 2006, up from just 4 percent in 2000. The percentages were higher for women.

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The Difficulty Of Thinking About Your Future

I spent yesterday visiting with two great kids around 20. The girl was beautiful and bronze. She admitted that she tans easily and didn’t use sun screen yet this summer. He admitted that when you are 20, you never think about what life will be like when you are 40. We were talking about staying fit and healthy, and I had mentioned how many women I saw who may have gained just two pounds a year after college, so they were 40 pounds heavier at age 40, or weighed an extra 60+ pounds by the time they were 60 or 70.

The concerned parent in me told the girl how I worked as a cabana boy in Florida during high school and even used baby oil to intensify my tan. My blond hairs against a bronze skin were often admired by the tourist girls I was trying to impress.

At my annual physical, when I was in my 50’s, my new doctor in Connecticut was also very impressed: “Lots of sun damage here.” He explained that it can take decades for the harm from excessive sun tanning to show itself.

My doc insisted that I see a dermatologist every six months. It may have kept me alive, because in addition to various, benign skin cancers that appeared and needed to be removed, there was one very deadly cancer, melanoma, that surfaced. It was removed early enough that five years have passed without a flare up or serious consequence. Lucky me. But a friend’s friend died of melanoma after years sailing joyfully, and unprotected, in the sun.

So it’s hard to be young and worry about consequences later, when you are old. That was me too in college. I was just trying to pass some courses, get a date, have fun, earn some respect. Normal and very understandable. Maybe many people don’t ever see how earlier actions are connected to later results. I read that the human brain can’t think very far into the future until it is around 25 years old. That is why insurance rates for drivers are so high until age 25. At that time those drivers still alive have a bit more “common sense.” It’s not true when it comes to eating. Not when one third of the people are obese and another third are overweight.

And it may not be true when it comes to our leaders anticipating international relations, economics, climate change. So we just have to muddle along, trying not to be fearful of all the foods we encounter. Being aware enough to not fall into the hole of denial. Controlling what we can of the choices we have. Taking the time to become informed.

Most of us don’t have the energy to do this in addition to all the demands of a busy overstimulated, overwhelming life. We are simply trying to survive, to make it to the next day, the next paycheck, the next vacation or family dinner.

Sometimes we can’t change our behavior, even when we know what the consequences are likely to be. My father used to say, “If the crime is worth the punishment, then commit the crime.” I read an essay about cancer this week by Christopher Hitchens, a famous intellectual who wrote books, high-brow essays and appeared on talk shows. I saw a video today in which he states, “I am dying. Read the rest of this entry »

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How To Contol Your Life…And Your Death

I read two articles recently having nothing to do with abs that made me think of how to fit crunches and exercise into a busy life…and all of us have busy lives.

David Brooks wrote a piece for the New York Times describing two ways to live a life: as a Well-Planned project and as a more fluid exploration, the Summoned Life, that starts with the particular circumstances one faces.

“Once you have come up with an overall purpose,” he continues, “a person following a Well-Planned life has to make decisions about allocating his time, energy and talent. When he is done, life comes to appear as a well-designed project, carefully conceived in the beginning, reviewed and adjusted along the way and brought toward a well-rounded fruition.

“The person leading the Summoned Life starts with a very concrete situation: I’m living in a specific year in a specific place facing specific problems and needs. At this moment in my life, I am confronted with specific job opportunities and specific options. The important questions are: What are these circumstances summoning me to do? What is needed in this place? What is the most useful social role before me?”

When I say I want to crunch abs at least twice a week, I am often disappointed at failing to reach this goal. I visit kids and friends, see a movie, dine out, travel. I don’t hit my target. Other people do make and exceed those goals. I saw the gym rats who said they were pumping iron four times a week. I was never ever one of them. I made different life choices involving others I have relationships and obligations with. I am also playing tennis five to 14 hours a week. The muscle builders are probably not doing that also. But I want to have the muscles too.

I’d be a lot happier, I am concluding if I could just adopt the more relaxed attitude of accepting my circumstances and the time-limited opportunities in my life to: carry out survival functions, work for money and causes, write for this site, spend time with loved ones, play tennis for fun and cardio, handle car and house repairs, and also squeeze in some crunches. I always think I can do it watching TV, but usually I am too tired to do much more than eat a snack and push the remote.

Any suggestions? I actually have friends who don’t watch TV, hardly use a computer. They have time to exercise every day an hour or two and also get up with the birds and the sun. I have to stop wanting it all and learn to accept my limits. But it’s almost impossible. Too greedy for a closer step toward perfection. Too interested in tennis over gym exercise. But when I was younger and working full steam, I barely spent an hour a week some years doing any kind of physical activity

The second article by Dr. David Katz, Director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, talks about “the three leading causes of death that we have control of: tobacco use, poor dietary pattern and limited physical activity. Read the rest of this entry »

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When Celebrities Lose Weight, You Can See Their New Shapes

When so many people have trouble exercising or losing weight, it’s good to learn about those who somehow succeed in their quest for more muscles or less pounds. A recent story about celebrities who lost huge amounts suggests that if you are on camera, you are really motivated to do it…eventually. But catch the drastic weight losses of Christian Bale and 50 Cent below. What incredible discipline. Then there is Star Jones, who cheated a tad…to lose 150 pounds…

Jennifer Hudson went from a size 16 to a 6 as a Weight Watchers spokesperson.

Drew Carey lost a reported 80 pounds this year with a combination of no-carb diet and cardio workouts

50 Cent lost some 50 pounds in just nine weeks to play a cancer patient in 'Things Fall Apart.'

John Goodman, who once weighed 400 pounds, debuted a much slimmer look this year.

Christian Bale lost a staggering 63 pounds to play the lead role in 'The Machinist.'

Valerie Bertinelli lost 40 pounds as a Jenny Craig spokesperson. This year she ran a marathon.

Kelly Osbourne lost about 40 pounds on 'Dancing with the Stars' and has kept it off.

Star Jones rapidly lost 150 pounds in 2003, and it took her until 2007 to admit she had had gastric bypass surgery.

Sara Rue lost about 40 pounds on Jenny Craig.

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What Am I Missing?

I hate being so out of step with the world. Two thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. Yet one clothing manufacturer, Ann Taylor, still feels that taking a very slim model and letting her wear some clothes naturally makes her look what? Fat? Overweight? Plump, chunky, pudgy?

losing weight by retouching

So they retouch the natural picture digitally to reduce her hips and waist a few inches. What was wrong with the picture on the left? She looks good to me. You can see how much more space now exists between her arms and her body in the picture on the right.

No wonder women hate their bodies, thinking they are “fat” and are upset with what they see in the mirror. But does it really take such strong character to laugh at such idiocy by the marketing types? A part of me says that any women who looks like the model on the left and thinks she is too heavy deserves any grief she feels for wishing she looked like the cartoon on the right. What do you think?

Now here is the “sensational expose” of how this retouching was discovered.

Some sort of tech error on Ann Taylor’s website mistakenly revealed how the brand’s photos look before retouching. Jezebel first noticed the pics on Tuesday afternoon, explaining:

As the page loads, you’ll get to see what the Chiffon Trim Tank looks like on a real woman for a few seconds. Then she shrinks into a awkward creature barely able to support the weight of her torso with her tiny child hips.

By Tuesday night, the glitch, involving thumbnails and other terms beyond us, had been fixed. But we were able to take some screen grabs before Ann Taylor cleaned it up. Check out the before and after images of the “Chiffon Trim Tank,” an item from a set of Photoshopped pictures we’ve previously written about.

To be fair, at the time, Ann Taylor did apologize, saying, “We want to support and celebrate the natural beauty of women, and we apologize if in the process of retouching that was lost.” Now, we just know exactly what was lost: a few inches off of the model’s waist and thighs.

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Jason Statham’s Workout Routine

After admiring his physique, I bumped into this Men’s Health article about how Jason lost 17 pounds in six weeks and how he grew all his muscles. It’s an eye opener to someone like me who loves sugar and spends 30 minutes doing only abs exercises. Jason’s entire routine takes just 35 minutes. But he does it six days a week, and the pictures show he is doing something very right. I love his comment in the article: If Statham’s workout is your model, you should understand that, at times during our talk, he referred to it as horrible, nauseating, bastard, murder, nightmare, and priceless, preceding each description with the word “f–king.”

Jason's muscles pop in Transporter 3

Statham’s Secrets of Superlean

Actor Jason Statham took on a brutal new training regimen and dropped 17 pounds in 6 weeks. So, what are you waiting for?

“He’s a bit lardy, isn’t he?” Jason Statham says in his gritty British voice, chuckling. He’s referring to the man in two pictures he’s holding, a pair of classic “before” shots, one from the front, one from the back. Indeed, the man in the photos has some extra dough, and not the green kind. There’s muscle there for sure, but no definition at all. Jason Statham isn’t ripping on just anyone: He’s the guy in the photos.

Jason Statham’s weight gain came the same way it does for most of us: a few too many beers and a couple of extra servings, compounded over time. Work out hard and you’ll crave calories as fuel at the same time you loathe the millstone they can form around your middle.

“I never gave a f–k about a calorie,” Statham says. “An apple? It’s good for me. I’d have five. Bananas? Eat the bunch.”

Statham was staying active at work, filming the shoot-’em-up War, in which he has his first fight scenes with a worthy adversary — Jet Li. But the pounds crept onto his torso and hung there like the remembrance of meals past.

Now Jason Statham brushes aside the ugly photos on the coffee table in his living room and gives me a dose of his current reality: He lifts up his shirt. He’s shredded — rumble-strip abs, cords in his chest, veins in his arms.

“That’s 17 pounds in 6 weeks, mate,” he says, and then plops down on his sofa again. “And that’s working out 6 days a week for, at most, about 35 minutes a day. I’ve never, ever gotten results like this before.”

That’s a bold statement from a man who used to be on the British Olympic diving team and lists mixed martial arts (that’s UFC-style fighting) as a hobby. In fact, he sounds like an infomercial. So what’s the secret?

Prepare to sweat. And hurt. And, well, eat. But only enough to stoke your fire, not smother it.

Jason in jail in Death Race

The Workout

If Statham’s workout is your model, you should understand that, at times during our talk, he referred to it as horrible, nauseating, bastard, murder, nightmare, and priceless, preceding each description with the word “f–king.”

What follows are his general guidelines and some sample exercises. For a typical week’s complete workout, go here.

He works out every day but Sunday with Logan Hood, a former Navy SEAL that runs Epoch Training ( Saturdays are reserved for hour long sustained trail runs in the Hollywood Hills while the other 5 days are spent at 87Eleven, a full service action film company and stunt studio located in a converted warehouse near the Los Angeles airport. Hollywood stuntmen own and train at the unique facility. There are trampolines, climbing ropes, heavy bags, barbells, kettlebells, crash pads, and a complex apparatus of pullup bars.

There are only two real rules to the workout.
1. No repeats. “I haven’t had one single day in 6 weeks that has been a repeat,” he says. “Every single day has had a different combination of exercises. Obviously, you repeat exercises over the course of 6 weeks, but you’ll never do that workout you did on Thursday the 23rd of August again. It always changes, and that’s what keeps it so interesting.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Can Anyone Fit In An Hour Of Exercise Each Day?

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Healthy middle-aged women in America will be hard pressed to get in the full hour of moderate exercise it will take to avoid gaining weight as they age, and it may be too challenging for some.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Tuesday found that middle-aged women need to get at least an hour a day of moderate exercise if they hope to ward off the creep of extra pounds that comes with aging.
“Time is a four-letter word,” said Eva Lazarra, 48, a pharmacist at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois, who was taking a break from work to lift weights at the facility’s fitness center.

“In a realistic world of a working mom with a family, it can be difficult. I’ve done my best,” said Lazarra. “I have done marathons. I have done triathlons. Unfortunately, we have to start looking at prevention, and that being part of our daily life.”

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are already waging a war on childhood obesity. It may take a similar push in adults to help them avoid the health consequences of obesity such as heart attacks, strokes and diabetes.

Already, two-thirds of U.S. adults and nearly one in three children are overweight or obese — a condition that increases their risk for diabetes, heart disease and other chronic illnesses. Read the rest of this entry »

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Older Women Need Exercise PLUS DIETING To Lose Weight

CHICAGO – Rev up the treadmill: Sobering new research spells out just how much exercise women need to keep the flab off as they age — and it’s a lot.

At least an hour of moderate activity a day is needed for older women at a healthy weight who aren’t dieting. For those who are already overweight — and that’s most American women — even more exercise is called for to avoid gaining weight without eating less, the study results suggest.

“We all have to work at it. If it were easy to be skinny, we would all be skinny,” said John Foreyt, a behavioral medicine expert who reviewed the study but wasn’t involved in the research.

Brisk walking, leisurely bicycling and golfing are all examples of moderate exercise. But don’t throw in the towel if you can’t do those things for at least an hour a day. Even a little exercise is good for your health even if it won’t make you thin, the researchers said.

Their findings are based on 34,079 middle-aged women followed for about 13 years. Most were not on calorie-cutting diets. The women gained an average of almost 6 pounds during the study.

Those who started out at a healthy weight, with a body mass index less than 25, and who gained little or no weight during the study consistently got the equivalent of about an hour of moderate activity daily. Few women — only 13 percent — were in this category.

Few already overweight women got that amount of exercise, and the results suggest it wasn’t enough to stop them from gaining weight. Read the rest of this entry »

High Protein Diets Can Make You Gain Weight Not Lose It

Since I began this web site, it’s obvious to me that there are thousands or millions of articles telling people how to be healthy and fit: just eat “right” and exercise. So easy as to almost be boring. How many times do people need to hear or read these almost identical words of well-meant guidance? But humans aren’t logical. We are emotional and often take actions that are against our better interests. As one friend said to me over 20 years ago, “I knew what I was doing, and I didn’t want to do it. I just couldn’t stop myself.”

Maybe it takes the 10th or the 99th article to stimulate a reader to make a meaningful change in her behavior. I will keep trying. So here is another good one by author and wellness expert Kathy Freston, who interviewed Dr. Dean Ornish about diet and losing weight. You can read the whole article here after glancing at some of the excerpts below.

Everyone knows that diet and exercise play a role in how much we weigh, but many are surprised to learn what a powerful role emotional stress has in causing us to gain weight and how stress management techniques can help us to lose it and keep it off…

Good carbs are whole foods. These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and soy products in their natural, unrefined, unprocessed forms. Because these good carbs are unrefined, they are naturally high in fiber as well. The fiber fills you up before you eat too much…

Diets that are high in animal protein are usually high in saturated fat, which promotes both heart disease and cancer…Fat (from any source) has nine calories per gram, whereas protein and carbohydrates have only four calories per gram. Thus, when you eat less fat, you consume fewer calories even if you eat the same amount of food—because the food is less dense in calories…

As you begin to eat more healthfully, your taste preferences change. You begin to prefer foods that are more healthful. And you connect the dots between what you eat and how you feel…

KF: What is a reasonable rate of weight loss?

DO: In most cases, no more than three pounds/week.

KF: What if we want to lose weight faster; is there a healthy way to do it?

DO: Do more exercise and meditation and eat smaller amounts of healthy foods and less salt. Regular exercise not only burns calories, it also raises your basal metabolic rate, the number of calories you burn while at rest. Thus, exercise helps you lose weight even when you’re not exercising. Do some strength training as well as aerobic exercise. Walking a mile burns even more calories than running a mile. Exercise in ways that you enjoy, then you’re more likely to do it. If it’s fun, it’s sustainable.

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Your Chair Is Your Enemy

Ahhh the frustrations of living a fit and healthy life. I already referred to an article suggesting that if you exercise, there is a good chance you will GAIN weight…because you will be hungrier—and eat more—after all that calorie burning. Now here are excerpts from a New York Times article by Olivia Judson suggeting that even though you exercise daily, you can still gain weight if you mostly sit the rest of the day. What a battle for those trying to lose a few pounds…

It doesn’t matter if you go running every morning, or you’re a regular at the gym. If you spend most of the rest of the day sitting—in your car, your office chair, on your sofa at home—you are putting yourself at increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, a variety of cancers and an early death. In other words, irrespective of whether you exercise vigorously, sitting for long periods is bad for you.

That, at least, is the conclusion of several recent studies. Indeed, if you consider only healthy people who exercise regularly, those who sit the most during the rest of the day have larger waists and worse profiles of blood pressure and blood sugar than those who sit less. Among people who sit in front of the television for more than three hours each day, those who exercise are as fat as those who don’t: sitting a lot appears to offset some of the benefits of jogging a lot…

For many people, weight gain is a matter of slow creep—two pounds this year, three pounds next year. You can gain this much if, each day, you eat just 30 calories more than you burn. Thirty calories is hardly anything—it’s a couple of mouthfuls of banana, or a few potato chips. Thus, a little more time on your feet today and tomorrow can easily make the difference between remaining lean and getting fat…

…But it looks as though there’s a more sinister aspect to sitting, too. Several strands of evidence suggest that there’s a “physiology of inactivity”: that when you spend long periods sitting, your body actually does things that are bad for you… Read the rest of this entry »

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Guess What Most Motivates People To Lose Weight

I saw a friend this week I hadn’t seen in two years. He looked good. Here is our conversation:

me: You look a little thinner. Have you lost any weight recently?

him: No. I’ve weighed the same the last few months.

me: Well what about in the last year or two?

him: Oh that far back. Yeah, I lost 30 pounds.

me: Congratulations. You look great. How did you do it?

him: I changed my diet—stopped eating junk food. I started exercising. Then I quit drinking. I haven’t had a drop of alcohol in over a year.

me: That’s amazing. What motivated you to do it? It takes a lot of discipline to make all those changes.

him: (totally straight-faced) I had a heart attack and thought I was going to die. Had to go right to the hospital, and had two stents put in. Only took a day.

me: (silence)

So the fear of Death is a great motivator. How come so many wait until it comes that close before we are prodded to do something about our health? Or make changes in other parts of our lives? I’m a big procrastinator myself…when it comes to taxes. But not when we are talking about that other certainty in Life: Death.

Another overweight friend and I were talking today. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin

Here is a challenging article that John Cloud wrote for Time Magazine’s August 9, 2009 edition. (,8599,1914857,00.html)
A summary of the main thesis is as follows:

“…The conventional wisdom that exercise is essential for shedding pounds is actually fairly new. As recently as the 1960s, doctors routinely advised against rigorous exercise, particularly for older adults who could injure themselves. Today doctors encourage even their oldest patients to exercise, which is sound advice for many reasons: People who regularly exercise are at significantly lower risk for all manner of diseases — those of the heart in particular. They less often develop cancer, diabetes and many other illnesses. But the past few years of obesity research show that the role of exercise in weight loss has been wildly overstated…

“…The basic problem is that while it’s true that exercise burns calories and that you must burn calories to lose weight, exercise has another effect: it can stimulate hunger. That causes us to eat more, which in turn can negate the weight-loss benefits we just accrued. Exercise, in other words, isn’t necessarily helping us lose weight. It may even be making it harder….

“…Yes, it’s entirely possible that those of us who regularly go to the gym would weigh even more if we exercised less. But like many other people, I get hungry after I exercise, so I often eat more on the days I work out than on the days I don’t. Could exercise actually be keeping me from losing weight?…”

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Cyclist Frank Krasowski’s Year-Round Rides Create Endorphin Satisfactions Exceeding Food Pleasures

At the therapist the other day for my arm, I mentioned “Beth’s Story” (see November 6th post below) to Frank Krasowski, the owner of The Hills Physical Therapy in Bantam, CT. He had his own ideas about what it takes to diet, exercise, and lose weight.

“Some people are disciplined, and others aren’t. Food gives some people so much pleasure that they can’t give it up…unless there is another pleasure to compensate for that loss.”

For Frank, riding his bike on hilly, scenic roads does the trick. The sweating, the big gears, and the views he enjoys outdoors trigger endorphins into his system that easily make up for his more limited diet. “I love biking. It changes my mind set, so that food becomes fuel, rather than a source of pleasure and satisfaction. This doesn’t happen for me with other kinds of exercise.”

Frank Krasowski resting from a ride—2007

Frank Krasowski resting from a ride—2007

He admitted that his ability to be disciplined with food goes in spurts. And he really admires people who can stick to their own rules with consistency. He also volunteered that he rides in the winter as long as there isn’t much snow on the ground. He has all the necessary clothing layers, masks and gloves to build up the warmth needed to ride comfortably in freezing temperatures. Sounds pretty disciplined to me…

After hearing Frank’s words, I did a few searches on the net about sugar rushes and endorphin highs.


Time and again you’ve experienced the intense effects that food can have on your moods. Cakes, cookies, and fudge are known as pleasure foods not only because they delight your taste buds but because they can make you feel calm and happy – at least temporarily. This sugar induced sense of euphoria comes from several chemical mechanisms in your brain. First of all, the sheer pleasure of tasting a chocolate treat or powdery donut stimulates your brain’s pleasure pathways and the release of dopamine and endorphins, the chemicals that makes you feel exhilarated. You also get a quick surge of energy as the sugar hits your bloodstream. Unfortunately, that energized feeling lasts only as long as the sugar rush. Once your blood-sugar levels drop (about an hour or two later), you’re left feeling drained and out of sorts. You become an addict looking for another hit.

Clearly, then, food can be as powerful as the most addictive drug. If you’re experiencing carbohydrate cravings as a result of taking antidepressants, you’re probably well aware of the addictive nature of certain foods. Addictive foods are almost always processed foods. (I have never known anyone addicted to lima beans.) And you probably know that feeding your cravings only makes you crave the food even more. In fact, some studies suggest that food cravings may be triggered by low levels of neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins), a phenomenon that may also occur in people who are addicted to alcohol and drugs.

NOW SOME INFO ABOUT ENDORPHINS Read the rest of this entry »

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Zumba Dancing With 26 Mostly Latina Women

Yup. I did it. Struggling along, trying to keep in step and move my arms at the same time. A bit like rubbing your stomach and patting your head with the other hand simultaneously. But I could do much of it. And I survived…for half of the hour.

Here is what happened. I was staying at the Biltmore Hotel in Miami and headed for the gym there to do something that didn’t hurt my injured arm and shoulders. I started stretching outside a room filled with women doing a quiet, low-light, yoga-like class. But the small area was so crowded with chattering ladies waiting for the next class that I just went inside, where there was a quiet empty space. I was doing crunches on a floor mat just fine, until suddenly all the lights went on jarringly, and women poured in talking real fast…in Spanish or Cuban.

It was hopeless to stay on the floor, so I took my mat outside and planned to leave for the machines. Then I heard a Zumba class was what was starting in a minute. I remembered a high school friend urging me to try this kind of aerobic, high-energy dancing, so I figured “What the Hell, I’m only young once.”

my first Zumba class—10/27/09

my first Zumba class—10/27/09

It’s a blast! Zumba is a Colombian word that means “to move fast and have fun.” Dead-on accurate. The music is all Latin, and many of the steps are taken from salsa, meringue, samba. The instructor keeps changing the steps and upper body movements. I could do the cha-cha-cha moves easily—I grew up in Miami Beach—but I found shimmying my shoulders back and forth like a stripper pretty challenging. I’m sure I looked idiotic.

Of course I had trouble keeping up with the ladies who’d done the routines before. And I was also standing right behind a post, which was the only space left by the time I’d decided to brave it. I looked around for another guy, but there was just one, in bright red shorts and shirt up near the front. He was fearless. The women were mostly younger, but some had grey hair. Many were totally out of sync, but who cared.

It was hilarious. Fantastic. I don’t think Zumba builds bulk muscle, but it definitely can lead to weight loss and body toning. One woman claims she lost 60 pounds in the 2007 Today Show video below. Zumba was created by a Miami man, Beto Perez, in 2001, and there may now be 40,000 studios worldwide offering classes to 5 million people in 75 countries. Really caught on. Millions of DVD’s have been sold. And I may do it again here in Connecticut.

I found some videos on YouTube for you to look at. Beto says on one of them that “people hate the exercise, and love the party. So we turned the exercise into a party.” I love just looking at the happy energetic people on the videos. There are two below.


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