#391 (1/12/2010) BUYER BEWARE

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It's bizarre that the produce manager is more important
to my children's health than the pediatrician.

Meryl Streep

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9 Foods That Can Fool You

By Denis Faye

During my South Dakota, 1970s childhood, my mom used to order something called the "Diet Plate." Common in most Sioux Falls-area and greater-Minnesota region restaurants, it consisted of a scoop of cottage cheese; a couple canned peach halves, still dripping syrup; a hamburger patty; iceberg lettuce; and a sprig of parsley.

Chicken Thigh, Peanut Butter, and Yogurt

While delicious by mid-20th-century, Midwestern standards, it was about as calorie restrictive as the chicken-fried steak and baked potato my dad was eating across the table. Still, the perception was that this was diet food, most likely because each element in the "Diet Plate" had a vague resemblance to another healthier foodstuff—except the hamburger, that is. But that had to be there because this was South Dakota and any other meat would be deemed un-American.

It'd be nice to think that we've transcended the Diet Plate. Sadly, this isn't the case. Even today, there are dozens of foods we fool ourselves into thinking are healthful when, in truth, they do nothing but pad our hips and arteries. Here are nine of the worst offenders on your grocery store shelves.

  1. Yogurt. It starts out as good stuff. Fat aside, there's the calcium and protein you find in all milk products, along with probiotics, which make it easier to digest for those with lactose issues. The only problem is, straight yogurt can be pretty bitter, so manufacturers load the stuff with sugar to make it more palatable and masquerade those carbs as fruit. Have a look at most flavored yogurt, and you'll find the second ingredient to be sugar or high fructose corn syrup. One container of Yoplait® Original Strawberry is 170 calories with 5 grams of protein and 33 grams of carbohydrates, 27 of which are sugar. Oddly enough, these are the exact same nutrition facts for Yoplait's other, less healthy-sounding flavors, including Key Lime Pie and White Chocolate Raspberry.

    Solution: Buy plain yogurt and flavor it yourself. You'd be amazed at how far a handful of raspberries or a tablespoon of honey will go to cut the bitter taste. And while you're at it, choose the low-fat or fat-free stuff. You'll still get all the nutritional benefits.

  2. Wheat BreadWheat Bread. If you're reading this, you probably know enough about nutrition to understand that whole-grain wheat is better for you than refined wheat. By keeping the bran and germ, you maintain the naturally occurring nutrients and fiber.

    But for some reason, manufacturers constantly come up with new chicanery to lead you back to the refined stuff. One of their latest tricks is to refer to refined flour as "wheat flour" because, obviously, it's made of wheat. But just because it's wheat-based doesn't mean it's not refined. The distracted shopper can mistake this label for "whole wheat flour" and throw it in his cart. Another loaf of cruddy, refined, fiberless bread has a new home.

    Solution: Slow down when you read the label. That word "whole" is an important one.

  3. Chicken. Just because you made the switch from red meat doesn't mean you're in the clear. If you opt for dark meat—the wings, thighs, and legs—you're losing protein and gaining fat. Three ounces of raw chicken breast, meat only, is 93 calories, 19.5 grams of protein, and 1.2 grams of fat. Three ounces of dark meat, meat only, is 105 calories, 18 grams of protein, and 3.6 grams of fat. It doesn't seem like much, but it adds up.

    Solution: Go for the breast, and while you're at it, ditch the skin. It's nothing but fat.

  4. Frozen or canned fruit. Any food swimming in juice or "light syrup" isn't going to work in your favor on the scale. Furthermore, most canned fruit is peeled, meaning you're being robbed of a valuable source of fiber.

    Frozen fruit is a little trickier. While freezing preserves the fruit itself, adding sugar during the freezing process preserves color and taste; so many store-bought frozen fruits add it in.

    Solution: Read that ingredients list! You want it to say fruit, water—and that's it.

  5. Canned veggies. "What?" you declare. "There's light syrup in canned string beans, too?" No, actually, they add salt to preserve this produce. A half-cup serving of canned string beans has approximately 300 to 400 milligrams of sodium.

    Solution: Many companies offer "no salt added" options. If you can't find one to your liking, go frozen instead—no salt (or light syrup).

  6. Peanut butter. Squish up peanuts, maybe add a little salt. How hard is it to make that taste good?

    Apparently, it's so incredibly difficult that many companies feel compelled to add sugar or high fructose corn syrup into the mix. Why? I do not know. Some manufacturers, such as Skippy®, are up front enough to admit this and call their product "Peanut Butter Spread," but many others still refer to their sugary concoction as good old "peanut butter."

    Solution: Read the label. (There's a theme emerging here.) Considering real peanut butter has one ingredient, two ingredients max, it shouldn't be too hard to figure it out.

  7. JuiceJuice. The range in the nutritional value of store-bought juices is massive. On one end, you have "fruit drinks" with just a modicum of actual juice in them. On the other end, you have fresh-squeezed, 100% preservative-free juice such as Odwalla® and Naked Juice®. But no matter which one you choose, it's important to remember that it's never going to be as healthy as whole fruit. And if you're trying to lose weight, it's a flat-out bad idea. First off, it's been stripped of fiber, so you absorb it faster, which makes it more likely to induce blood-sugar spikes. Secondly, you consume it faster and it's less filling, so you're more likely to drink more.

    Solution: If you must buy it, go fresh squeezed, but you're usually better off just skipping it entirely.

  8. Canned soup. As is also the case with canned veggies, you're entering a sodium minefield. Half a cup of Campbell's® Chicken Noodle Soup has 890 milligrams of sodium. That's 37 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA)*—and who eats half a cup?

    Solution: Read those labels carefully. Most companies make low-sodium versions.

  9. Salad DressingFat-free salad dressing: Dressing, by definition, is supposed to be fatty, thus highly caloric. You use a little bit of it and in doing so, you get a healthy hit of the fats you need for a nutritionally balanced diet. Unfortunately, people prefer to buy fat-free versions so that they can drown their greens yet avoid excess fat.

    Nothing's for free. All this stuff does is replace the fat with carbs and salt, so you've basically gone from pouring a little healthy, unsaturated fat on your salad to dumping on a pile of sugar. For example, Wish-Bone® Fat Free Chunky Blue Cheese is 7 grams of pure carbs and 270 milligrams of sodium for 2 tablespoons, which you'll never stop at anyway. Also, given that there's no fat or protein in this particular dressing, one can only imagine what makes it "chunky."

    Solution: Make your own salad dressing. One part vinegar and one part olive oil with a blob of Dijon mustard makes an awesome vinaigrette. And here's another trick: Make your salad in a sealable container, add a tiny bit of dressing, and shake it up. It'll coat so much more than tossing will.

    And finally, make that salad with romaine lettuce, spinach, or some other nutrient-rich leafy green. As far as we're concerned, nutrient-poor iceberg lettuce should have gone the way of the South Dakota Diet Plate.

Related Articles
"Hungry for Change: The Beachbody® Film Review of Food, Inc."
"Best and Worst Gas Station Cuisine"
"8 Horrible, Disgusting, and Just Plain Scary Foods"

Denis FayeGot something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, January 18th, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT, in the Beachbody Chatroom!

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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My Transformation Story

By David Keenan

My older sister told me about this program that helped her and my aunt lose weight, and they enjoyed it. Now, for one, I'm skeptical by nature. Secondly, I have tried many programs that range from the cabbage soup diet to the 10-pounds-in-2-days diet and from the ab rolly thingy to the ab springy thingy. Lastly, neither my sister nor aunt was remotely as large as I was. One thing that helped was how enthusiastic she was that it would work for me. She even got our younger sister to join. The next thing I knew she wanted to do was take "before" pictures and measurements. "What if the program doesn't work?" I remember thinking. I did not want measurements written down because I thought that the next time I checked, I will probably be bigger anyway. As for the pictures, I would not even take off my shirt because I was too embarrassed of myself. Even in front of my own family.

Half the Man He Used To Be! David Keenan "Before" and "After" Pictures

"Welcome to Power 90, I'm Tony Horton." This program changes lives? We'll see how day one goes. Right off the bat, Tony was moving. I was already behind and struggling to catch up. Tony and the crew lifted their knees, so I lifted mine. I kept up until I had to fight gravity with jumping jacks. Gravity won the battle, big time. Something in the program and in my mind kept me going. By the end of the 35 minutes, I looked like I stepped out of a pool and panted like a woman giving birth. But for whatever reason, I felt good. Each day, I kept Pushing Play. People who saw me sporadically said I looked like I lost a bunch of weight. That motivated me more. Before I knew it, I was halfway through the program and lost 40 pounds! Granted, I had about 100 pounds of pure Krispy Kreme to lose, but it felt great! I was swimming in my clothes. I tried to only buy a few shirts, because I knew I would be swimming in those, too. I got down to 250 pounds in one year, but then I hit a plateau. So I got Slim in 6. Talk about kick-starting your life again. I had a whole new wave of dedication. For one month straight, I did Slim in 6 in the morning and Power 90 at night. Not to mention, my diet was close to impeccable. I was hooked. I then got P90X. Talk about challenging gravity; say hello to Plyometrics. Ab Ripper X—I hate it, but I love it. This program was the most challenging physical activity I ever even attempted. I got down to 180. Half of me . . . GONE! Luckily, it wasn't my good half.

Power 90®Things change and they did. I had a surgery which put me on a slow recovery phase. I ate badly, and with no exercise, I gained some weight. I got up to about 235 pounds. I felt horrible. It was just a short time ago that I was feeling better about life than ever before. You know, one of those feelings that can only be felt. I let it slip away, and I wanted it back. This time I joined the gym to lose it. Don't get me wrong, the gym is great, but it wasn't for me. I never pushed myself as hard as I did when I was Pushing Play. I jumped back into Power 90 then P90X, and I'm down to under 200 pounds! I could not be happier at this time of how I have complete control over my diet and my body.

Coming up on year 5, I have managed to lose a total of 160 pounds and at least 25 percent body fat. More importantly, I have kept it off and changed my lifestyle. My eating habits and my exercising routine are all designed to help me be a better and healthier me. I have gained an abundance of knowledge. I have learned that the sluggish feeling comes from eating badly, whereas in the past, those nachos would have been part of my normal diet. I have learned how important exercise is to my health. My friends and family ask me—a former 360-pounder—diet and exercise questions. I have learned that it is not people seeing me in a different light now that I am in great shape, but rather me seeing myself in a better light.

To struggle with a battle your whole life and come out victorious is the greatest feeling anyone could ever experience. I won. Losing weight has obviously benefited my life physically more than I could have ever imagined. Friends from high school don't even recognize me. I now enjoy physical activities such as hiking, basketball, and even pull-ups (except corn-cobs). While going to work, I leave the train station and get pleasure from being the only one to take the stairs. I love my body, but my most valued changes through this are internal. I am making better decisions with my life then I ever did. I have more drive, determination, confidence, enthusiasm, success, and the list goes on, than ever before. There is nothing I can't do, and no one could convince me otherwise. I owe it all to Tony Horton, Debbie Siebers, the entire Beachbody staff, the Team Beachbody community, and my family and friends. Thank you all for making me live and love life.

Click here to see David interviewed by Matt Lauer on the TODAY show.

Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, January 18th, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT, in the Beachbody Chatroom!

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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My Top 5: Debbie Siebers

Sometimes the best thing to get you off the couch and motivated to start getting active is a hot tune to get you energized. Here is the first in a continuing series of what some of our favorite Beachbody personalities are putting on their MP3 players and stereos to get them moving.

Debbie Siebers and a Speaker

Debbie Siebers, creator of Slim in 6

Slim in 6 creator Debbie Siebers describes what a big part music plays in her life. While she has eclectic tastes from all styles of music, she gravitates toward the classic Motown sounds to put herself in motion. Check out what's in heavy rotation on Debbie's playlist.

  1. "Mercy" by Duffy

    This song has such a rockin' beat! It really energizes me and motivates me to kick it up a notch and challenge myself.

  2. "Crash" by Gwen Stefani

    I love this song! It has a fantastic beat and is a fun groove that really gets me moving.

  3. "Got to Give It Up" by Marvin Gaye

    Every single time I hear this song, I must, and I MEAN I MUST GET UP AND DANCE . . . no matter where I am. It is truly one of my favorite songs of all time! So you can imagine how excited I was when the band at the Four Seasons Hotel played it this New Year's Eve! I was in heaven!

  4. "Little Ramona" by BR5-49

    What can I say? This brings out the rockabilly girl inside of me. I sing it out loud when I'm working out on the elliptical and don't even care who hears me! So fun and brings me back to my Midwestern roots.

  5. "Do You Love Me" by The Contours

    This song has extra meaning for me because Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown, who is like family to me and a mentor in my life, wrote this! I remember dancing to it with him in Maui. What a great night that was! I've even come up with my own cardio/dance moves to this song!

Check back with the newsletter to see what other trainers are listening to. Coming up: Shaun T!

Related Articles
"What Motivates Me"
"10 Inspirational Fitness Films"
"Rock 'n' Roll Wisdom"

Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, January 18th, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT, in the Beachbody Chatroom!

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Test Your Cold-Weather Health IQ

By D. V. Donatelli

Woman in Winter Hat and GlovesAn ax-head chomps into your front door, is pulled out, and crunches again into the same spot, splintering the wood, sending a strip of the door clattering to the floor. A crazy old man puts his face into the gash, looks into the eyes of your terrified family, and announces, "HEEEEEEEERE'S WINTER!" Indeed, winter is here—the freezing cold, the leafless trees, the shoveling. With the holiday season past us, and with 3 months of miserable cold to come, we think this is pretty much the perfect time to see what you know about staying healthy in cold weather.

True or False?

  1. False: Wearing sunscreen is not important in the winter. While we're not getting the more-direct rays of the summer, sun rays in the winter can be just as damaging to the health of your skin, because they easily bounce off all the ubiquitous snow, doubling your exposure to their harmful effects. By this point, it should be widely known that it's always important to wear sunscreen if we're going outdoors, no matter what time of year it is, because the sun is a pernicious, insidious monster.
  2. False: When exercising outdoors in the cold, it is best to wear cotton. You would think that cotton, a natural textile, would be helpful in dealing with the harsh cold of winter, but because it so easily soaks up sweat, it is the last thing you want to be wearing—at least right next to your skin—if you're going to exercise outside. Experts suggest starting with a garment made of polypropylene, which pulls sweat away from the skin (our own Steve Edwards suggests Merino wool, which wicks perspiration even more effectively); followed by a fleece, for insulation; followed by a waterproof layer that is also breathable, to get the ideal mix of winter-exercise clothing. Also, shoes and socks are really helpful.
  3. True: In cold weather, eating lightly before going out is better than eating heavily. Digesting a big meal requires a lot of blood to be routed to your digestive system, pulling it away from the extremities, which are the first to feel the effects of cold weather, meaning you will get colder quicker if you go out into the cold after eating heavily. Instead, try a light snack, which should serve to drive up your body heat without diverting warm blood from the extremities. However, to quote the late great Frank Zappa, "Don't you eat that yellow snow."
  4. True: A person burns more than 400 calories per hour when shoveling snow. Anyone who's had to shovel a driveway is probably wondering how that number could be so low. Shoveling snow, in my opinion, is more difficult than childbirth. I don't have any facts or figures to back that up, but at least a woman giving birth is getting something out of it (a baby), and, after all, how many old men have you heard of dying of a heart attack during childbirth? I rest my case. Shoveling snow reminds me of the toils of Sisyphus, except after several trips up and down the hill, Sisyphus didn't have to then scrape a layer of ice off his car and drive to work. Lucky jerk.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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