Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Comedic Great Joan Rivers Was a Bada$$

She sat on the bed, the gun in her lap.  Everything seemed hopeless.  "What's the point?" she thought.  She couldn't think of one.

Only a few months earlier, Joan Rivers had everything she ever wanted:  fame and fortune, the job of her dreams, a loyal husband, a loving child, a lavish estate-and a future that beckoned with enticing possibilities.  After years of struggle, she had not only succeeded as a comedienne but had made history as television's first and only female late-night talk show host.

And now she'd lost it all.  The First Lady of comedy was fired from her job and publicity humiliated.  Her husband-unable to bear his own failure as her manager and producer- killed himself.  Their daughter blamed her mother for his death. 

Reeling with grief and rage, Rivers then discovered she was broke.  She had earned millions of dollars and lived a life of baroque luxury, but here husband had squandered her wealth on bad investments.  She was $37 million in debt, and her opportunities for making more money had vanished. "

These are the words of the great author Leslie Bennetts in her biography about Joan Rivers entitled, "Last Girl Before Freeway".  I had the great fortune of attending an event hosted by 'Her Wealth' of Bridewater Wealth and Financial Management at Congressional Country Club in Washington, DC a couple of weeks ago.  My friend and fellow 15 to Fit Pilates instructor Karen Palacios-Jansen is on the board of Her Wealth.  The mission of Her Wealth is empowering women with the financial confidence and resources they need to take control of their money and their wealth. 

Eye-opening, alarming, inspiring and motivating are just a few words to describe the night.

Some eye opening facts:

In matters of divorce a typical woman endures a 73% reduction in her standard of living.  Her typical ex-husband enjoys a 42% increased standard of living.

90% of women will be solely responsible for their financial matters due to divorce or death of a spouse.

Alarming facts:

One in four women over the age of 65 are in poverty or "near poor".  Near poor is defined as 150% of the poverty threshold or $15,400 annually.

Women are 80% more likely than men to be impoverished in old age. 


The story of the rise and fall and rise again of Joan Rivers is beyond imagination.  At the age of 55, after working incredibly hard and rising up in the 1960s through the grueling ranks of an industry completely dominated by men, Joan Rivers found herself with a dead husband and 37 million dollars in debt. 

Joan Rivers didn't kill herself.  She lived. She lived to keep her little dog Spike alive whom she credited with saving her life in that moment because he jumped on the gun.  She was worried about who would take care of him.  She lived to triumph in 17 different industries and in the process built a billion dollar empire in her 60s and 70s.  Pause and really think about that statement.  She built a billion dollar empire as a senior citizen, in Hollywood of all places.

As Leslie Bennettts states, "I don't think people quite realize that. They know she designed and sold jewelry and clothing on QVC, but building a billion-dollar company when you used to think you couldn't be trusted to read a contract is remarkable.  The other thing she did in her later years was she essentially invented the red carpet phenomenon as a television entertainment genre. That has become a multi-billion-dollar industry. She invented the formula: the commentary, the jokes, who are you wearing?"


Leslie said that throughout her career Joan's mantra which she often wrote down was "Never quit.  Never give up.  NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER!"  NEVER- written in large block letters eighteen times. 

Joan Rivers died on September 4, 2014.  Her estate was estimated at $150 million.  She lived a very extravagant, opulent life and enjoyed spending the money she so deservingly earned. 

Leslie told a story about an article she herself had written just before the contentious Presidential election of 2016. It was a controversial article.  She sent it to six major news outlets.  All of them rejected it.  Leslie got up, closed her computer and started walking away.  She then had a haunting thought,  "Joan Rivers would be very disappointed in you right now.  Never quit. Never give up.  NEVER. NEVER. NEVER."  She then sent it out to a contact that had a woman-owned media company.  Leslie got her answer later that night.  The woman responded, "This piece is brilliant.  I'm running it tonight."  Leslie thought, "Hmmm... Joan Rivers' mantra is something I need to adopt for my life too."

Listening to Ms. Bennetts speak I had a burning question about Joan Rivers.   At the end of the evening, Ms. Bennetts had a book signing.  When she signed my book I asked her,  "What drove Joan Rivers to be that motivated at 55 to come back from such personal and financial devastation?"  Leslie's honest-to-God answer said with all conviction  "Anger.  I think she was angry.  I think she thought FUCK THIS!  I can beat this stupid system."  I have to readily admit that I am a fan of the F-word.  Hearing this world-renowned author that's in her 70s exclaim it so definitively motivated me to my core. 

Don't all of us have some kind of system we are trying to beat?  Overcome some obstacle, competition, race within our selves,  a behavior change, a hatred of something we know we need to adopt, (exercise anyone?)

Remember Joan Rivers' remarkable life and example.  Never quit. Never give up.  NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Drink Too Much and Still Lose Weight!

Uh... there’s not so much truth in this statement.  It's very difficult to lose body fat while drinking beyond moderation.  This is not only due to the calories consumed but also the food choices one makes when they're drinking.  Let's face it, they put restaurants like, La Bamba- Burritos as Big as Your Head, Insomina Cookies and Papa John's Pizza next to bars for a reason.  That’s because when you're drunk, you ain't eating salad.  Salads as Big as Your Head restaurants next to bars just isn't a thing. 

Compounding the excess calories of drinking and the subsequent drunk-eating is the problem with the next day.  Being hungover doesn't exactly make you feel like getting up and seizing the day.  Waking up late, or worse, having to get up early due to kids' schedules, lethargically schlepping through the day and being unable to complete anything close to exercising leads to your clothes becoming too small fairly quickly.

Alcohol has been shown to decrease fat metabolism immediately and dramatically.
In one study, eight men were given two drinks of vodka and lemonade separated by 30 minutes. Each drink contained just under 90 calories. Fat metabolism was measured before and after consumption of the drink.  For several hours after drinking the vodka, whole body lipid oxidation (a measure of how much fat your body is burning) dropped by 73%.  That's immediately.  It's also been shown to decrease strength for up to 48 hours after blood alcohol content is at .08% or higher. 

As registered wellness consultant and nutritional counselor Haylie Pomroy states, "In short, alcohol is an enormous pain in the metabolism.  It's a huge tax on your liver- the organ that's supposed to be burning fat for you.  Your liver also has a second job:  ridding your body of chemicals (like alcohol).  Every time you swallow a drink, your liver has to take time off from its fat-burning job while it evicts the chemical intruder."

I did a consult one day and a potential client said to me, "I don't drink at all...". During this long pause I excitedly picked up my pen and began writing her statement down on our 15 to Fit Consultation Form.  My eyes wide with enthusiasm and shock, I knew I'd be able to help her quickly with her goal of toning up and losing weight if she didn't drink at all.  Then she added, "...Monday through Thursday.  After Thursday, I don't have any rules and drink as much as I want."  Uh...things just got more complicated for her weight loss goals. Another way of saying what she said, "I drink as much as I want and don't limit it at all almost half the days of my life."  People are very adept at lying to themselves.  She was not ready to change.  I joke about it, but it's really not funny.  My earlier post chronicles the rise of excess alcohol consumption and its deadly effects, particularly for white women.  The Lake Norman area is smack dab in the middle of this demographic.

If you're trying to boost your metabolism, lose weight and improve your health consider the possibility of giving up alcohol for a short time. Start with two weeks and see if it makes a difference in how it impacts your life.  Don't jump on the scale after two weeks and say "I haven't lost any weight this isn't working."  Focus on how you feel and if you have more energy and your health is going the right direction. 

Look, I'm a person too.  I live at Lake Norman where many people's normal life is to live on vacation.  My husband often quotes the line from the movie 'Animal House' when Dean Warmer says to Dorfman "Overweight, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life."  Well, thin, sober and smart may just not be as much fun all of the time. Ha!  There's a lot of social drinking that goes on here but it's not too difficult to be social and still be healthy.  If all or most of your friends drink and you'll be a social pariah if you don't imbibe, you can still drink less and not have anyone really notice, especially if they start getting drunk.  They're not watching your alcohol consumption all night, just in the beginning.

Some examples of how to appear like you're drinking as much as your friends:

Consume drinks with less alcohol in them.  Go for very light beers like Michelob Ultra or Miller Draft 64. 

Drink soda water with a lime (they don't know if you're drinking, they just think you are.)

Give up or reduce wine.  It's a bottomless glass.  I personally did this about a year and a half ago.  In situations where I would normally have had a glass of wine, I switched to Michelob Ultra.  There's a bottom to a bottle of beer.  Wine, not so much.  Yes, it appears that wine is more sophisticated and "healthy".  It's not.  That is a delusion or the CDC would be suggesting people start this habit.  They don't.  If you haven't developed a drinking habit, don't start is their stance.  Nobody says this about exercise.  Drinking wine is not that good for you. 

What about the argument that Europeans do it and it's good for you?  I recently began working with a client from Belgium.  She stated that when she moved to the Lake Norman area three years ago she gained weight.  She was amazed at the amount of drinking that happens here.  She said in Europe she drank wine but the glass was 2 1/2 ounces and was sipped over dinner.  Here the glasses are three to four times that size and it's guzzled.  That's not the healthy Mediterranean diet moderate drinking prescription.  We like excess here in the U.S.  We're Americans after all!

If these suggestions seem preposterous to you and there's no way you're giving up alcohol it doesn't mean you can't lose weight, just know it makes it harder.  You can always download the app "Get Drunk Not Fat" for additional tips. Calories in, calories out is what ultimately works for weight loss.  Caveat:  This app is not based upon improving your health. Its only intent is to help you cut calories when you do drink.  

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

So What is "Moderation"?

"All things in moderation... even moderation." -Oscar Wilde and Erika Jagger. 

Erika Jagger is my college friend, twenties party buddy, international traveler and former personal trainer cohort.   She's the first person I remembering hearing say that and I thought it was hilarious. It's funny and cute, just like her.  I take it to mean that sometimes you just have to throw your hands up and say what Tom Cruise said in Risky Business. 
"Sometime you just have to say what the F-heck."  Eat that brownie. Skip your early morning exercise class to lie in bed with your husband.  Drink an extra glass of wine with an exceptionally delicious meal.  Except sometimes not drinking moderately is neither funny nor cute.  We can't say "Sometimes you just have to say 'What the F-heck?!' " all the time.

So what is moderation?  Is there a specific definition or is it different for everyone?

The CDC defines moderate drinking as having up to one drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men.  This definition is referring to the amount consumed on any single day and is not intended as an average over several days.  However, (tellingly, I add) the Dietary Guidelines DO NOT recommend that individuals who do not drink alcohol should start drinking for any reason.

Take home message, if you don't drink, don't start.

Well, what's a drink?

A standard drink is equal to 14.0 grams (0.6 ounces of pure alcohol.  Generally, this amount of pure alcohol is found in:

*  12-ounces of beer (5% alcohol content).
*  8- ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content).
*  5-ounces of wine (12% alcohol content).
*  1.5 ounces or a "shot" of 80-proof (40% alcohol content distilled spirits or liquor (gin, rum, vodka, whiskey).

The following information comes from the website

So if you drink more than 9 drinks per week for a woman or 12-14 drinks for a man, that means you are not a moderate drinker, but does that make you an alcoholic?  No. Some heavy drinkers who've experienced problems from their drinking can learn how to moderate their drinking.  They can maintain moderate drinking for years at a time.  Others cannot.  So who's more likely to be successful at moderation?  Drinkers with a shorter history of problems and less severe problems tend to be more successful with cutting back and maintaining it. 

They also have another resource called the Drinker's Check-up that can help you take a good look at your drinking and get objective feedback. Then you can decide whether or not to change.  

Monday, May 8, 2017

For Women Heavy Drinking Has Been Normalized. That's Dangerous.

After I was mistakenly punched in the face by a football player at Ball State I was forced to spend some time reflecting on my choices.  Of course, I was 20 years old but I remember being very offended when my dad suggested that I increased the likelihood of bad things happening by the company I was keeping.  I offered up, "You don't understand.  It was mistake.  He wasn't trying to hit me." 

I think my dad's point was that I had put myself in an unsafe position by surrounding myself with a bunch of large, drunk people at that party and many others in the preceding years.  Eventually these risks caught up to me.  He wasn't blaming the victim per se, just wanting me to realize that if I had chosen not to attend that wild, drunk-fest, things would've been different.  Rarely would he ever discuss his drinking and how it impacted his life but this was an eventful discussion and he admitted that he had made bad decisions due to drinking.  This probably would have had more of an effect on me if I had been drinking.  I wasn't drinking at all that night, so I couldn't understand the concept of being around people that were drinking solely for the point of getting drunk increased the likelihood that bad things could happen to me even if I wasn't drunk myself.  Being 20 years old also didn't help me see my responsibility in the matter.

I'm certain being raised by an alcoholic greatly influenced me in the positive as it relates to my own drinking as an adult.  This is especially true after I had children.  I drink very occasionally.  I'll often have one Michelob Ultra with dinner about one or two times per week.  I rarely drink more than three beers on a week. 

My limited drinking also has to do with owning a fitness business.  I feel it is hypocritical of me to be imbibing consistently.  That's not to say I've never had one too many since my kids were born.  When you drink as little as I do, it doesn't take much.  If I have four drinks on one night, that's definitely binge drinking for me.  Two is my limit.

Whether you have pondered how your drinking habits have impacted your life or not, there's no denying that women are drinking in greater numbers than ever before. This is no accident.  I've summarized an article written by Kimberly Kindy and Dan Keating and published in The Washington Post.  It is titled "For women, heavy drinking has been normalized. That's dangerous."
The ads started popping up about a decade ago on social media.  Instead of selling alcohol with sex and romance, these ads had an edgier theme: Harried mothers chugging wine to cope with everyday stress.  Women embracing quart-sized bottles of whiskey, and bellying up to bars to knock back vodka shots with men.  For women, heavy drinking has been normalized.  That's dangerous. Instead of being embarrassing, women being drunk is portrayed as funny in marketing, movies and television.

In this new strain of advertising, women's liberation equaled heavy drinking, and alcohol researchers say it both heralded and promoted a profound cultural shift:  women in America are drinking far more, and far more frequently, than their mothers or grandmother did, and alcohol consumption is killing them in record numbers. 

The percentage of women who binge drink increased 40% among white women from 1997 to 2013, 10% for Hispanic women and -10% for black women.   Since 1999, this increase has caused a 130% change in alcohol-related deaths for white women and 27% for Hispanic women.  On a positive note, alcohol related deaths for black women have decreased 12%.  

The alcohol industry and some government agencies continue to promote the idea that moderate drinking provides some health benefits.  But new research is beginning to call even that long-standing claim into question. 

Drinking an excess of alcohol among other things is linked with…cancer. 

What?!  I guess I just thought the risks of drinking to excess "occasionally" were getting hurt falling down or being embarrassed.  I thought liver disease was for people that "were really bad alcoholics."  I never considered that binge drinking increases ones risk for cancer.

There is "strong evidence" that alcohol causes seven cancers, and other evidence indicated that it "probably" causes more, according to a literature review published online in Addiction.

Epidemiological evidence supports a causal association of alcohol consumption and cancers of the oropharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, colon, rectum, and female breast. 

As a silly, college student, my drinking had consequences then.  As a grown woman in the fitness and wellness field, I do my best to limit drinking to excess.  Sometimes I have to admit that I fail.  Not wanting to be hypocritical, my only wish is that my clients, friends and family ponder the impact that drinking is having on their health, life and happiness.