Friday, September 16, 2011

REAL UNEDITED FFF DIVA MO: A New Day. A New Beginning. A New Mo.

Hi FFF Diva Fans and Followers! I know it's been ages. I always say things like that. I have been going thru a lot in my personal life, hence why I have been sparingly posting to this blog of mine. I want you to know MAJOR CHANGES are afoot. Below is the 1st entry of my new life blog: "The Girl Called Mo: True Story For Reals" on Why did I start a new blog? Well the 1st entry below says it all. Long story short I hired a weight loss life coach to get me thru my weight loss plateau and in the process I will be given LIFE ASSIGNMENTS. My first assignment? - START A NEW UNEDITED AND REAL BLOG ABOUT YOUR UNHAPPINESS AND CHALLENGES OF WEIGHT LOSS THEN TAG THE FOLKS YOU WANT TO READ IT ON YOUR PERSONAL FACEBOOK and let the magic work out itself. So for the next 6 months I WILL NOT BE POSTING to this blog page BUT I invite you to come along for my new journey thru my new blog See you in March 2012! =) All the love, FFF Diva Mo <3 ------------------------------------------- A New Day. A New Beginning. A New Mo. (1st blog entry in new blog) Let's be real: You are probably wondering why you were tagged to read this blog in the first place. You have been directed to read this blog because long story short: In 2011, you have helped me learn something more about myself as an individual and have made some significant impact on my life in the last year. Heavy right? It gets better. Keep reading... For the last year I have been extremely confused and unhappy about my life, my future, my everything especially in regards to my weight loss journey and career planning post MBA graduate school. Since May 2011 to August 2011, I basically regained 30 pounds, took on habits that were unlike me, and just got unfocused. I wanted you to know friends and family that I decided to seek professional help: I hired a weight loss coach. Yep, I brought in the big guns. Why?! Although I was successful to lose almost 100 lbs on my own, since 2008 I have stayed relatively around 250-ish pounds and have not made much progress since then--yes I know it's 3 years later. During the next 6 months my weight loss coach will give me life assignments to complete during this time of healing and self-discovery. There are times where you might get annoyed with me, support me, or quite possibly never talk to me again. And you know what--I am prepared for that. Basically my coach asked me to start a new blog to be truly transparent about myself, my unhappiness, and my real raw weight loss journey struggles and challenges. In other words: I am going thru a detoxification of my life as I currently know it. Life Assignments Due By Next Session: Life Assignment #1: Create a new blog that is completely honest about my current journey.Tag certain individuals who you want to specifically read this blog. Life Assignment #2: Go through ENTIRE Facebook friends list and ask "How does this person add value to my life?" If no value can be established, then delete the individual from my friend's list. Life Assignment #3: Turn off my iPhone completely for 30 minutes per day to make myself completely unavailable. Life Assignment #4: Meditate 10 minutes a day by myself in a quiet place. Life Assignment #5: Clean out entire clothing closet and donate ALL clothes that are either too big or too small for me. Start from scratch. Life Assignment #6: No alcohol. Period. Life Assignment #7: 3 times a day look into the mirror and say: "I am beautiful. I am worthy of living a healthy life. I am going to reach my weight loss goal." Deal of a lifetime: By November 11, 2011, if I follow everything that is asked of me and lose 35 lbs. or more my payment for each coaching session will be majorly discounted. Talk about a true incentive! <3 I am detoxing from everything, but myself. I ask nothing more than for your love and support. However, if this is a journey you don't understand or are uncomfortable with all I can say is this: "You can be in my tribe or walk away." Simple as that. I would love for you to stick around for the adventure, but if you can't I understand and good luck to you! Like I said: "A New Day. A New Beginning. A New Mo."

Friday, July 22, 2011

FFF Diva Realization: Mental Vacation

Life Transitions: July 2011, photo courtesy of Cree Djork

Quote of the Day: "Love the body you have today, regardless of what you want it to look like."

It's been about two months since I updated this blog. I could go back and explain what I did the last two months, but I will just summarize it as this: I was finding myself through the course of a mental vacation. I seriously vegged out. I was still running, exercising, and skating but in reality I was a lost mess. I delved back into my habits of exercising but eating whatever I wanted. In all honesty I lost sight and track of the former disciplined Maureen. So during my two months off from blogging and other things I am happy to report that I am back and more motivated than ever to lose my last 50 lbs. to get back to my original college weight. Once that is achieved then I can address other things like toned muscles, etc. It's all about the low hanging fruit.

I just wanted to let you all know that this journey has had many ups and downs but I can finally see the light. (I know cheesy, but be patient with me, LOL)

I'll end on this note: Everyone needs a life reboot from time to time. A life reboot is an opportunity to make change for the better. Almost like wiping the slate clean. I've started my reboot. How about you?

Committed to health,
FFF Diva Mo

Thursday, May 26, 2011

WLB4: Roller Derby Adventures and More

Welcome to the final and last week of WLB Season 4! Wow, it has been one heck of a seven week ride hasn't it folks?! I am happy to announce I made some stellar life long friends through this process and have learned a lot more about myself as well as how to stay motivated during a weight loss journey! My hope is that by keeping track with my journey the last 7 weeks kept you inspired to start your own healthier lifestyles too!

But DO NOT WORRY! I hope to come back to WLB as a guest blogger AND we can always keep in touch in various ways:

Maureen "Mo" De Nieva
Facebook: /MOtastic145
Personal Blog:
Facebook Fan Page for Fierce Fat Filipina Divas: /FFFDivas
Facebook Fan Page for Dominican Radio Show: /TwithnickyP
Twitter: MOtastic
Email: (I also g-chat too)

AND if YOU are living in the Bay Area in California we can always meet up and have coffee! I mean it! Or better yet a cool walk or a stellar hike! =)

New news and updates:

So unfortunately, because of unexpected expenses I couldn't afford to come back to Operation Boot Camp's June session. BUT DO NOT FRET for I will be back for our July camp! What's cool about my OBC family is that THEY WILL ALWAYS BE THERE FOR ME. So, what will I do to keep me fit and accountable until OBC starts?

Two things:

1. I will be doing a hydrostatic water dunking weigh in to see how much fat % I need to drop. Healthy fat % for a woman is 22% body fat. Yeah, last time I checked I was around 42% give or take, pretty good considering the first time I took it 4 years ago and it was closer to 50% body fat! Yikes! Now you may ask: WHY? BODY FAT TESTING? Well it's a more accurate way to measure your journey versus weight on a scale. See, muscle weighs heavier than fat. So for me I like to measure my journey through metrics: 1) hydrostatic dunk 2) measure inches 3) weight on scale. This makes me feel MUCH MORE positive about the whole weight loss process.
For more information:

2. I signed up for beginner's girl's roller derby boot camp with the Silicon Valley Roller Girls! I just started a week ago. I haven't touched a pair of skates since I was 12 years old and I could barely skate in general. But yesterday at our second practice I was already skating laps and doing basic skating drills. Win status! Now that's progress! Here's to the next 10 weeks! Hopefully I can pass my minimum skating skills test in order to try out for the league, but first thing's first: DO NOT GET HURT MO. HAHA! For more information:

FFF Diva Mo on the start of her girl's roller derby journey

The Rules of Roller Derby

You can find the Official Rules at the Women's Flat Track Derby Association's website.

How to Play:

There are two teams on the track at once.
Each team can have no more than five skaters on the track at one time.
Each team is made up of one pivot, three blockers, and one jammer.
There might be fewer girls on the track at once, depending on if any girls are in the penalty box.


Pivot - Skates in the very front of the pack, controls pack speed and serves as a last line of defense against the opposing jammer. The Pivot has a solid stripe on their helmet cover.
Blocker - The blocker's job is to make sure the opposing jammer never gets past them. They work together with other blockers and her pivot to help her jammer through the pack while stopping the opposing jammer. They can help their girl out by whipping them through the pack. Blockers do not wear helmet covers
Jammer - The “money maker“. They score all the points. Jammers starts 30 feet behind the pack. They have to skate through the entire pack once and lap the pack before she can begin to score points. Every girl on the opposing team she passes is a point. That includes girls in the penalty box and girls on the floor. The Jammers have a large star on each side of their helmet cover.
Lead Jammer - The first jammer to get through the pack passing all skaters legally and in-bounds. The lead jammer can call off the jam anytime she wants after lead jammer status has been earned. Referees will signify lead jammer status with two rapid whistle blasts and by pointing at the jammer.

The Game:

A bout is 60 minutes broken into two 30 minute periods. Each period is composed of an unlimited number of jams which can last up to 2 minutes. After each jam, the teams have no more than 30 seconds to line up for the next jam. If a skater is not on the track when the whistle blows, her team must skate short.

One long whistle blast signals the beginning of a jam and for the pack to begin skating.
Two rapid whistle blasts are blown to signal the jammer start.
Four whistle blasts signal the end of the jam, which can happen because the two minutes have elapsed or because the lead jammer called off the jam.

Penalties to watch out for:

Pushing, shoving, punching, grabbing or holding
Hitting or jabbing with the elbows
Hitting from behind
Tripping, kicking, or blocking with skates or legs
Blocking or assisting a jammer while twenty feet ahead or behind the pack
Blocking or passing skaters out-of-bounds

For more check out this video of '09 highlights of SVRG:

Yeah, this is going to be an interesting summer, but hopefully after my time here at WLB4 you can still follow my journey at my personal blog:

Anyways, rounding out this have all of you been?! Has the weather been beautiful or absolutely dreadful? Have you been able to sneak in workouts in between? Let me know, I'd love to know!

Dedicated to health,
FFF Diva Mo <3

WLB4: Coming Back From a Hiatus

Operation Boot Camp: "Always Earned, Never Given"

This coming Monday, May 23rd I will be coming back to Operation Boot Camp. For those who don't know, I lost the last 50 lbs by 1) competitively running 2) Operation Boot Camp. However, since my last semester of graduate school had a crazier schedule I actually had to take a break from camp. I haven't been at camp from March-May, however I have been back each month for Bring a Friend Day and Free Community Preview Day on Saturdays.

Operation Boot Camp Family: 5K Urban Scavenger Hunt, March 2011 (24th out of 180 teams)

How do I feel about coming back to 6am outdoor cardio Operation Boot Camp?

In one word: SCARED.

In five words: SCARED OUT OF MY MIND.



hi·a·tus   /haɪˈeɪtəs/ [hahy-ey-tuhs]
–noun, plural -tus·es, -tus.
1. a break or interruption in the continuity of a work, series, action, etc.
2. a missing part; gap or lacuna: Scholars attempted to account for the hiatus in the medieval manuscript.
3. any gap or opening.

Coming back from a hiatus is always hard. Although I have been sticking to my 1/2 marathon running schedule, going to the gym, and meeting with my trainer Jill 1-2 days a week IS NOTHING COMPARED TO EVERYDAY SESSIONS at OBC. This coming Monday is out PT test. We do two PT tests to gauge how you have improved by the end of the 30 days. A PT test consists of running 1 mile, 1 min push-ups, 1 min dips, and 1 min sit-ups. Lord bless me. I feel worried. I feel worried to be the slowest one at camp again. I feel worried that I am not going to be able to keep up. I worked so hard the last year to improve my running and endurance and I feel that I am back at square one.

So how am I going to combat the inner negative voices in my head? By telling myself this:

"Maureen you CANNOT compare yourself to other people. Your weight loss journey is just as significant and important as everyone else. The only person you should worry about it yourself and YOUR journey. Stay positive. Stay focused."

Have you ever felt down because you feel like you are going one step forward, but two steps back? How did you move forward and fight the negative thoughts in your head? I'd love to know.

Dedicated to health,
FFF Diva Mo

WLB4: It's a Lifestyle!

Hello WLB4 followers! I am back and ready for more! WHY?! I am an MBA graduate! Last Friday I walked in my commencement ceremony for my MBA degree at Dominican University of California!

GraDUation Day: Friday, May 14th, 2011

It was an amazing day. I am 26 years old with an MBA degree. What am I going to do now? Sleep. =)

In other news this weekend I did the 100th anniversay of the San Francisco Bay to Breakers with my OBC family! I dressed up as Dave from Alvin & the Chipmunks. Good times! It was a 12K (7-ish miles)race through the streets of San Francisco. Long story short: IT WAS A STREET PARTY!

Operation Boot Camp Family at Mile 7 of the SF Bay to Breakers

OBC family with free chocolate milk!

Last but not least my favorite news of the day! Today I received this email in my inbox:

Dear Athlete,

Congratulations! We’re pleased to announce that you have been selected to become a member of Team MARATHON® Bar. Your athletic accomplishments and individual interests were a perfect match for the sponsors’ goal of building a dedicated team of passionate runners who are committed to staying active. Your 2011 goals, past achievements, future motivations, and overall dedication to the sport and product best demonstrated this commitment. Please see below for important details to getting started with the sponsorship.

Team MARATHON® Bar Management

That's right folks: FFF Diva Mo is a SPONSORED running athlete! I seriously didn't think this would happen in a million years. I am still reeling from excitement and shock. I can't wait to sport my new Team MARATHON Bar jersey at my running races this year INCLUDING the Nike Women's Marathon in October AND the NIGHT TIME Las Vegas Rock & Roll 1/2 Marathon in December! Let the training begin!

Speaking of are all of you with your training endeavors? I know I have been MIA, but I am sure you all have inspirational moments in your journey. I have learned, especially in my last year of grad school that LIFE HAPPENS. This year alone I went from my 280s to 240s to 260s and back down to 250s. THIS YEAR ALONE. But did I stop moving forward regardless of my setbacks? NO. I KEPT MOVING FORWARD. Tomorrow is always a brand new day. Losing weight, living a healthier life, why it's a LIFESTYLE! I just need to stick with it and I will be rewarded not just with weight loss but a more happier and healthier life! I know you can too!

Dedicated to health,
FFF Diva Mo

WLB4: Nike Women's Marathon 2011

I know, I know. I have been super MIA. Good news though: NOT FOR LONG! Why?! Because I graduate with my MBA degree this Friday! I know this season of WLB4 is coming to a close soon, but I just want to share how wonderful and supportive this community has been. It's not just about weight loss, it's about moving forward and living a healthier lifestyle. Regardless of what happens at the end of these 7 weeks I have made new friends, got a lot of great advice, and hopefully inspired others that YOU TOO CAN SAY YES TO LIFE. A life that is active. A life that is no longer in the shadows or in a size 28 plaid patterned moo moo dress. NO WAY! Not anymore!

I am happy to announce that I am officially registered for the 2011 Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco, California! It is a random lottery race. It's a sold out race of 25,000 participants! Don't know what the NWM is? Well it's hosted by Nike and this year is their 8th race! Proceeds raised go to Lymphoma research. And when you finish either the 1/2 marathon (13.1 miles) or the full marathon (26.2 miles) as a finisher's medal you receive a Tiffany & Co. silver necklace from a HOT San Francisco Fire Fighter in a tuxedo. True story for reals!

Last year I signed up to complete the full marathon, but fell behind their slowest pace setter. You HAVE TO COMPLETE the race either the full or the half in 6 hours or less or you don't qualify for the necklace. I was diverted to the half and PR'ed that day (personal record) at 3 hours 28 minutes. This year is pretty special because I am doing a FULL MARATHON schedule with our newly established Women's Running Club called Women Addicted to Running Club (WAR for short). This club consists of my friends both in and outside of Operation Boot Camp.

Photos from last year's Nike Women's Marathon 2010:

Ladies of OBC! We are running the 2011 race together this time!

One of my dearest friends, OBC Instructor, and one of my heroines: Alex Mijares

At the finish line post race with my Tiffany's blue box!

Pointing to my name written on a wall of all 25,000 participants last year

If you would like more information: Nike Women's Marathon Blog

Have you ever ran/walked/jogged a full or 1/2 marathon? If so, which one? If so, what inspired you to do it in the first place?

ALSO, if you haven't ran/walked/jogged a long endurance race, would you want to? What do you think you need to succeed or stay movtivated?

Dedicated to health,
FFF Diva Mo

WLB4: How to Run Injury Free!

How to Run Injury-Free

By Jeff Galloway

One of my proudest accomplishments is being free of overuse injuries for almost 30 years. Below you will find the risks and the ways to avoid them.

My advice comes from working with over 200,000 runners in Galloway training groups, one-day running schools, Tahoe retreats, e-coaching and individual consultations. As runners send me the results of my suggestions, I adjust the training and rest schedules. The current injury-free program is listed below, but I continue to look for better ways of avoiding problems and reducing downtime.

Fewer Days of Training Per Week

Those who run three days a week have the lowest rate of injury. I believe that almost all runners, except for Olympic candidates and world record aspirants, can be just as fit and perform as well running every other day. This may involve two-a-day workouts and more quality on each day.

Having 48 hours between runs is like magic in repairing damage. Those who insert a short and slow jog on recovery day (junk miles) are not allowing for complete recovery. When a client complains about lingering aches and pains, I cut them back to every other day and the problems usually go away.

Go Slower on the Long Runs

After 30 years of tracking injuries during marathon training programs, I've found that most are due to running the long ones too fast. You can't run the long ones too slowly--you get the same endurance whether you go very fast or very slow. Slow running will allow your legs to recover faster. The fastest that I want our Galloway Training groups to run is two minutes per mile slower than goal pace. Many run three or four min/mi slower and experience very fast recovery. Be sure to slow down as the temperature increases: 30 sec/mi slower for each 5 degrees of temperature increase above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

More Walk Breaks

The continuous use of any muscle used the same way, increases fatigue more rapidly. Continuing to run continuously, with fatigued muscles, will greatly increase the chance of injury. You'll see on my website the recommended frequency of walk breaks, based upon pace. If you have aches and pains already, it is best to walk more often, from the beginning, than is recommended. The most important walk breaks are those taken in the beginning of the run, for these can erase all of the fatigue. Walk breaks will also tend to produce a faster time in all races from 5K up. The average improvement in a marathon among those who've run several without walk breaks is 13 minutes faster by taking the strategic walks.

Don't Stretch if You Have an Ache, Pain or Injury

Stretching a tight or injured muscle or tendon will increase the damage dramatically. Even one stretch will produce tears in the fibers, resulting in a longer recovery. Stretching a muscle that has been tightened by running can injure it within a minute. Massage is a great way to deal with the natural tightening produced by running. The tightening is mostly a good thing, allowing you to run more efficiently.

Be Careful With Speed Training

Speed workouts produce a lot of injuries. You can reduce the odds of this happening by warming up very well, doing a few light accelerations as described in my books Testing Yourself, Year-Round Plan, Half Marathon and Marathon. Other important injury-reduction factors are the following walking more between each speed repetition and staying smooth at the expense of time. Don't strain to run a certain time. This is most important at the end of a workout.

Never Push Through Pain, Inflammation or Loss-of-Function

If you experience one of the above, stop the run immediately. Continuing to run for another block or another lap will often produce multiples of damage requiring weeks or months off for repair--instead of days.

For more information, see Jeff's books Marathon, Half-Marathon, Running--A Year Round Plan, Walking -- The Complete Book and Galloway's Book on Running, 2nd Ed. These are available, autographed, from Join Jeff's blog:


FFF Diva Mo's Take: How To Run Injury Free
The bottomline is KNOW YOUR BODY and ASK QUESTIONS. If you don't ask your doctor, your trainer, or physical therapist what's going on with your pains and aches how will you know if it is a short term or long term injury. Trust me, PREVENTION of injury is very important and therefore stretching before and after a major run or cardio exercise is good for you.

I run to be free outdoors and be "one with nature." Running outdoors is definitely more refreshing than running indoors!



FFF Diva Mo: Where have you been?!

I know, I know. It's been like 10 years since my last WLB blog post! Trust me, I will make it up to y'all this weekend. I have this goal of at LEAST 3 posts a week, but I have been busy this week. WHY? I am graduating next Friday with my Masters in Business Administration (MBA degree) from Dominican University of California in Marin County, California (north of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco). It's taken 2 MBA program changes, a 7 month hiatus, and 4 years of commuting multiple days a week from South San Jose to Marin (that's 180 miles roundtrip!) while working full time and doing the 7 million other things I do to FINALLY get to this day: GRADUATION! And since it is also Mother's Day weekend, to honor my Mother I am wearing HER graduation gown she used when she graduated with her Masters degree in Counseling Psychology from Santa Clara University. What else can make this day more special: knowing I paid my ENTIRE MBA degree out of pocket. How? The moment I graduated from Dominican in 2007 I moved home like a good Filipino Catholic girl. Since I live at home and commute I have been able to pay tuition on my own and with the help of family from time to time. This degree is definitely a FULL FAMILY EFFORT.

My graduation tickets, cap, tassel, hood (stole), AND a ticket from the San Rafael Police Department: yeah it's been a long week, LOL

Also, this past weekend I was an elected official at the California Democratic Party Convention in Sacramento. I am the District Delegate for Assembly District 24 (South San Jose and Campbell) AND I am the Vice-President of Membership for the Silicon Valley Young Democrats. I do a lot.

Some photos from Sacramento:

Silicon Valley Young Dmeocrats with U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders

With former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, now Lt. Governor of California

This weekend will be full of final preparation for graduation next week, but more importantly it will also be MOTHER'S DAY! My brother and I plan to take our Mom for lunch and a nice walk together around the park. What will you be doing to be active and celebrate Mother's Day this weekend?!

Dedicated to health,
FFF Diva Mo

WLB4: Yum! Feelings!

Again today's blog entry is thanks to my good friend Kramer. He is an amazing source of inspiration. True story for reals.

Today's conversation over G-Chat with the amazing Kramer...

Kramer: Dude. My diet yesterday was of paramount suckery.
Me: It's not like you ate a fried turkey! Or did you?! LOL
Kramer: No, a fried cow!!
Me: You mean, a hamburger?
Kramer: insert his food log entry here which documented the hamburger at lunch
Me: Here's the wrote it down. I had 5 fried mozzarella cheese sticks yesterday and I wrote it down. Will I eat that again today? Heck no! Why did I eat it yesterday? I wrote that down too.
Kramer: You wrote why you ate it yesterday?
Me: When I cheat or eat poorly I always write why, whatever stupid reason it was.
Kramer: Oh! Never thought of that - writing a reason...
Me: So I can keep track of a pattern of my eating of bad things. For example I ate 5 mozzarella and next to the food log entry my reason was: Feeling wompy about boys. In the past I have wrote: Needed to stay awake during drive home. And so on and so forth.
Kramer: LOL @ "Wompy"
Me: Haha, right?! I am all about feelings. A lot of my bad eating is associated to how I am feeling. I like to eat my feelings.
Kramer: Yeah me too. That was one of my burgers yesterday.
Me: I think we have found a topic for today's blog!
Kramer: =)

Bottomline I explained to him: Our food logs keep us accountable. Having someone read and review our food logs keep us accountable. We are forced to see how we ate and if we diverted from healthy eating. Also by keeping track how we feel when we eat it helps us later on, especially if we suffer from emotional eating so we can avoid the situation or the triggers altogether. If we lie in our food logs, we are lying to ourselves, and in the end it would only be YOU who'd be suffering.

Do you keep a food log or exercise journal? Do you battle emotional eating? Do you know what your triggers are for binge eating? I know these sound like heavy questions, but it is something I had to honestly address in my weight loss journey. If you would like more insight on this feel free to either share here or privately email me. I promise I will respond to all of your questions and messages because this is something I still battle today.

I know I slipped up and ate fried cheese sticks yesterday. However, I do not regret it because at that moment I needed it. I am NOT supporting eating poorly or having a cheat meal on an everyday basis, but I am supporting this: once in a while you need a little taste to satisfy your craving. For some it's a small bite of dark chocolate. Think about it: if you don't satisfy your small craving a couple of days later something emotionally big might happen and you end up eating a friend Denny's Sampler appetizer meal all by yourself. THEN where would you be? BACK AT SQUARE ONE. I learned yesterday that I should have reached for something healthier when I was feeling emotionally down. I wrote it down for accountability. Now if this were to happen again next week I will choose either a) carrot sticks b) a run.

Life is all about options and choice, but in order to achieve the quality of life you want to achieve you have to also evaluate your decisions.

Dedicated to health,
FFF Diva Mo

WLB4: The Truth About The Coconut Water Craze

"The Truth About Coconut Water"
By Allison Baker, SELF

It's all over the supermarkets and a big splash with celebs (like Madonna). Here are the real facts about this water craze.

The talk: It speeds up your metabolism.
The truth: "This is an urban legend," says Liz Applegate, Ph.D., director of sports nutrition at the University of California in Davis. "There is no valid research proving it."
Another, albeit contradictory, myth: Coconut water makes you fat. This bad rap came from coconut milk, which is made from pressed coconut meat and packs 445 calories per cup, most from saturated fat. The water (the fluid in young coconuts) has only 46 calories per cup. Of course, for a truly trimming sip, opt for zero-calorie water, coffee or tea.

The talk: It's nature's sport drink
The truth: It's a fine postworkout chug for the average active Jane, but it falls short for more hard-core athletes.
The gist: When you exercise, you sweat out a lot of sodium and some potassium. You should replace both after intense sweat sessions (more than an hour a day), so your muscles contract properly. Coconut water is a potassium powerhouse, delivering roughly 600 milligrams per cup, about 175 mg more than a banana does and 13 times what most sport drinks offer. "The problem is that it has only about 30 milligrams of sodium per cup; we lose much more than that during a long workout," Applegate says. Thus, serious athletes may need a sport beverage with a higher sodium-to-potassium ratio, such as Gatorade or Powerade Ion4; lighter exercisers can rehydrate with whatever they like best, including coconut water or plain H²O.

The talk: It makes you look younger
The truth: Coconut water contains cytokinins, plant hormones shown to slow the aging process in plants and fruit flies, according to a study in Molecules. Alas, the benefits aren't yet proven in humans. The search for the fountain of youth continues.

The talk: It's a hangover helper
The truth: There's a reason the morning after a bender is so painful: Alcohol dehydrates you, leading to nausea and headaches. Like any drink, coconut water refills your H²O stores, but plain water does the job just as well, notes Samir Zakhari, Ph.D., director of the Division of Metabolism and Health Effects at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. As for electrolytes, our kidneys preserve them when we drink, so there's no need to replace them with coconut water. If the taste lifts your postspirits spirits, go for it; but you can save cash (and calories) with the tap.

The talk: It protects your ticker
The truth: Diets high in potassium can help lower blood pressure and promote heart health, says Andrea Giancoli, R.D., spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. Coconut water is a good source of the mineral, but it's better to get it from whole foods like veggies (spinach, sweet potatoes) and lowfat milk, which supply additional heart-healthy nutrients such as fiber and vitamin D.

Three more ways to crack this nut

1. Coconut milk: A sweet alternative to regular dairy, coconut milk is derived from the white meat of a mature coconut, and it provides almost as much healthy potassium as coconut water does. But beware its high saturated-fat content: One cup has about 43 grams.

2. Coconut milk beverage: Diluted with water, it contains about five times fewer calories than conventional coconut milk. It tastes richer than coconut water.

3. Shredded coconut: Coconut meat isn't as high in potassium or sodium as coconut water, and it has about 388 calories and 22 g of saturated fat per cup. If you're tempted to cover yours in chocolate, opt for a snack-sized candy bar dipped in antioxidant-rich dark chocolate, which has only 80 calories and 3.5 g of saturated fat. (Don't mind if we do, Mounds bar!)


FFF Diva Mo's take on the coconut water craze:

Personally, since I am Filipino I have always drank either coconut water or coconut milk. It has always been a staple product in my household growing up. In fact when we need shredded coconut for Filipino desserts, one of my favorite things to do is crack open a fresh coconut and drink the water inside, before I shredded it.

I didn't realize it was an actual craze until I saw SOOOOOOOOO many people at the gym drinking Zico brand coconut water that they picked up from Whole foods. What is my take on it? Coconut water WILL NEVER replace a sports drink or a protein drink after a longer workout. I think of coconut water as flavored water, for people to be able to get their 8 glass water intake for the day without it tasting so bland. Bottomline: It's nature's Crystal Light. Haha!

What's your opinion about the coconut water craze? I'd love to know!

Dedicated to health,
FFF Diva Mo

WLB4: On Simple Confidence and Accountability

Have you ever opened a newspaper or read an article and say to yourself: "Oh my goodness, this is ABOUT ME!" I subscribe to e-newsletter called Tiny Buddha and today's topic was about CONFIDENCE.

On Simple Confidence by Lori Deschene


“Confidence is preparation. Everything else is beyond your control.” -Richard Kline

People often think confidence means knowing you can create the outcome you desire. To some extent it does, but this idea isn’t universally true for anyone. No matter how talented, smart, or capable you are, you cannot predict or control everything that happens in your life.

Even confident people lose jobs, relationships, and even their health.
Confidence comes from knowing your competence but acknowledging it’s not solely responsible for creating your world. When you take that weight off your shoulders and realize that sometimes the twists and turns have nothing to do with what you did or should have done, it’s easier to feel confident in what you bring to the table.
Today if you feel insecure about something you’re working toward, pull your focus away from the outcome and back to your output. Focus on what you have to offer and how well you can use it. Do your homework, do the legwork, and then know you’re doing everything you possibly can.

There’s a lot we can’t control in life, but we can know we’re doing our best with the things that are within our control.

FFF Diva Mo's Take: In order to move forward in life, sometimes you just need to let go. Focus on you. Focus on what you know. Be good at you, then everything else will fall naturally into place.


Getting Back on the Wagon...

Yesterday, was my first training session with my personal trainer Jill in about a week. I didn't get to see Jill last week because my school schedule got crazier, so we took last week off and came back to train hard. How it went down:

10 minute run
3 set rotations of ab and leg exercises
lifting weights while standing on a stability Bosu Ball
jump rope, sit ups, v-sit-ups

And that was what I can remember off the top of my head. It was hard, because even though last week I have been maintaining my 1/2 marathon training schedule, TRAINING with weights is completely DIFFERENT. COMPLETELY. Boy was my body pushed and my abs were on fire. P.S. Thanks Jill!

I also bought myself a new food log and exercise jorunal so I can hold myself accountable. Jill has volunteered to read and review my progress regarding eating and exercise, in order to make corrections along the way. THIS IS WHAT I NEED: ACCOUNTABILITY.



Meet my friend Marisa--Miss Accountability herself

Easter 2011 w/ Marisa's Chocolate Lamb

Meet my friend Marisa. She and I have known each other since high school. In fact I was her sponsor for confirmation (yes I am a total Filipino Catholic girl). Anyways, long story short is that even when she moved to Southern California for college and eventually her Hollywood career (behind the scenes, producing, etc.) we always held each other accountable even though we had hundreds of miles between us. If there was any type of internal struggle about emotional eating or motivation for exercise we were there for each other.

What's my point? My point is accountability doesn't have to just be from a person who is physically here such as a trainer or a spouse, in fact it can be found in different forms such as a call, a "Hello!" text, or even a "Hey how are you?" email or Facebook post. The key thing about accountability though is CONSISTENCY. That is the beautiful thing about my friendship with Marisa: her accountability is consistent. If you have consistent accountability you'll always have a support system available to you when you need it.

Happy Tuesday folks!

Dedicated to your health,
FFF Diva Mo

WLB4: Marin County 1/2 Marathon Mania!

HAPPY MOTIVATIONAL MONDAY!!!!! What did you do this weekend to get your butt off the couch? Did you go swimming in the blue ocean water of the Pacific? Did you cycle 8 miles down your favorite woodsy trail? Did you take your dog on a stellar hike in the mountains? Please feel free to share!


What did FFF Diva Mo do? She ran the Marin County 1/2 Marathon (13.1 miles)!

Actually, I ran 14.3 miles. Why?! Because I accidentally missed the final turn and went around the long way. So even though I didn't get an official time with my running time chip, I STILL wore my Running Garmin GPS watch. So I ran 14.3 miles of mostly hills and trails in 3 hours and 40 minutes and 35 seconds! I beat the meat wagon! What is the meat wagon?! The meat wagon is the truck that sweeps people up if they are still on the course. The course officially closed at 3 hours and 45 minutes, but I beat the last sweeper, HOWEVER I definitely was THE LAST PERSON to finish the race. Did I care? Not really. Why?!

This was quote on a sign I saw on the course of the Marin County 1/2 Marathon:
"The toroise and the hare BOTH finished the race."

I didn't care if I came in last. All I cared about was beating the meat wagon, which I did! This was my 4th 1/2 marathon I have ever completed. It was tough because the majority of it was hills and natural running trails. The photos alone below can describe what I went through, haha.

What else was super awesome was that my college's Cross Country team was present and cheered me on. I was so moved that I actually wrote an email to their coach and team:

Hello Larry,

I just wanted to personally thank you, your family, and the Dominican Cross Country Team for volunteering and cheering on runners at the Marin County 1/2 Marathon, 10K, & 5K race this past Saturday! = )

When I literally ran into you and your family at Mile 7 and saw you all wearing your Dominican gear I was definitely proud and touched that Dominican was being represented at a fine event in the community. This is why, while drinking the water you provided me, I stopped and introduced myself. However, what was more moving was when I hit Mile 9 and saw/heard the Dominican Cross Country team cheering me on, because they knew I was a Dominican alum.

When I learned Dominican was adding a Cross Country Team I was genuinely excited. Why? Because I have found a new love in running. Running has saved my life.

During my four years at Dominican I gained 124 lbs, and graduated in 2007 at 320 lbs. Since then I have lost close to 100 lbs, thanks to good nutrition and exercise. I have been competitively running since May 2009 and in less than a year completed my first 5K, 10K, 1/2 marathon, and full marathon. Bottom line: All of you literally made my day when you cheered and motivated me to finish the last 4.1 miles of my race. I am truly grateful for your spirit and kindness and hope to see you and the entire team at other races, not just volunteering, but running and representing our great university.

If there is anything I can do to personally help and support the Dominican Cross Country team please let me know. You have a new fan and friend in me.

With great respect,

Maureen "Mo" De Nieva
DUC Class of 2007
DUC MBA Graduate Student, Class of 2011


The Marin County 1/2 Marathon in Photos...

Getting ready before the race!

About 700-800 people participated in the 5K, 10K or 1/2 marathon

About 8 miles of the 1/2 marathon was NATURAL TRAIL

New Running Friends! I met them on the racer's shuttle! They did the 5K!

Marin County 1/2 Marathon Course Map

For more information about the Marin 5K, 10K, and 1/2 Marathon:

All of the race proceeds went to local charities:

To Donate to Fit for Equality:

To Donate to Run to Cure Cystic Fibrosis:


"It doesn't matter what your age is, if you put the time in, you're going to get out what you put into it. I strongly believe that. I feel that good things will happen if you work hard." -Sheri Piers, who set her marathon best of 2:37:04 at age 37

I will close out with this final reminder: It doesn't matter how long it takes to finish, all that matters in the end is that you did.

Dedicated to health,
FFF Diva Mo

WLB4: Is Sugar Toxic?

Is Sugar Toxic?
By GARY TAUBES of the New York Times

On May 26, 2009, Robert Lustig gave a lecture called “Sugar: The Bitter Truth,” which was posted on YouTube the following July. Since then, it has been viewed well over 800,000 times, gaining new viewers at a rate of about 50,000 per month, fairly remarkable numbers for a 90-minute discussion of the nuances of fructose biochemistry and human physiology.

Lustig is a specialist on pediatric hormone disorders and the leading expert in childhood obesity at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, which is one of the best medical schools in the country. He published his first paper on childhood obesity a dozen years ago, and he has been treating patients and doing research on the disorder ever since.

The viral success of his lecture, though, has little to do with Lustig’s impressive credentials and far more with the persuasive case he makes that sugar is a “toxin” or a “poison,” terms he uses together 13 times through the course of the lecture, in addition to the five references to sugar as merely “evil.” And by “sugar,” Lustig means not only the white granulated stuff that we put in coffee and sprinkle on cereal — technically known as sucrose — but also high-fructose corn syrup, which has already become without Lustig’s help what he calls “the most demonized additive known to man.”

It doesn’t hurt Lustig’s cause that he is a compelling public speaker. His critics argue that what makes him compelling is his practice of taking suggestive evidence and insisting that it’s incontrovertible. Lustig certainly doesn’t dabble in shades of gray. Sugar is not just an empty calorie, he says; its effect on us is much more insidious. “It’s not about the calories,” he says. “It has nothing to do with the calories. It’s a poison by itself.”

If Lustig is right, then our excessive consumption of sugar is the primary reason that the numbers of obese and diabetic Americans have skyrocketed in the past 30 years. But his argument implies more than that. If Lustig is right, it would mean that sugar is also the likely dietary cause of several other chronic ailments widely considered to be diseases of Western lifestyles — heart disease, hypertension and many common cancers among them.

The number of viewers Lustig has attracted suggests that people are paying attention to his argument. When I set out to interview public health authorities and researchers for this article, they would often initiate the interview with some variation of the comment “surely you’ve spoken to Robert Lustig,” not because Lustig has done any of the key research on sugar himself, which he hasn’t, but because he’s willing to insist publicly and unambiguously, when most researchers are not, that sugar is a toxic substance that people abuse. In Lustig’s view, sugar should be thought of, like cigarettes and alcohol, as something that’s killing us.

This brings us to the salient question: Can sugar possibly be as bad as Lustig says it is?

It’s one thing to suggest, as most nutritionists will, that a healthful diet includes more fruits and vegetables, and maybe less fat, red meat and salt, or less of everything. It’s entirely different to claim that one particularly cherished aspect of our diet might not just be an unhealthful indulgence but actually be toxic, that when you bake your children a birthday cake or give them lemonade on a hot summer day, you may be doing them more harm than good, despite all the love that goes with it. Suggesting that sugar might kill us is what zealots do. But Lustig, who has genuine expertise, has accumulated and synthesized a mass of evidence, which he finds compelling enough to convict sugar. His critics consider that evidence insufficient, but there’s no way to know who might be right, or what must be done to find out, without discussing it.

If I didn’t buy this argument myself, I wouldn’t be writing about it here. And I also have a disclaimer to acknowledge. I’ve spent much of the last decade doing journalistic research on diet and chronic disease — some of the more contrarian findings, on dietary fat, appeared in this magazine —– and I have come to conclusions similar to Lustig’s.

The history of the debate over the health effects of sugar has gone on far longer than you might imagine. It is littered with erroneous statements and conclusions because even the supposed authorities had no true understanding of what they were talking about. They didn’t know, quite literally, what they meant by the word “sugar” and therefore what the implications were.

So let’s start by clarifying a few issues, beginning with Lustig’s use of the word “sugar” to mean both sucrose — beet and cane sugar, whether white or brown — and high-fructose corn syrup. This is a critical point, particularly because high-fructose corn syrup has indeed become “the flashpoint for everybody’s distrust of processed foods,” says Marion Nestle, a New York University nutritionist and the author of “Food Politics.”

This development is recent and borders on humorous. In the early 1980s, high-fructose corn syrup replaced sugar in sodas and other products in part because refined sugar then had the reputation as a generally noxious nutrient. (“Villain in Disguise?” asked a headline in this paper in 1977, before answering in the affirmative.) High-fructose corn syrup was portrayed by the food industry as a healthful alternative, and that’s how the public perceived it. It was also cheaper than sugar, which didn’t hurt its commercial prospects. Now the tide is rolling the other way, and refined sugar is making a commercial comeback as the supposedly healthful alternative to this noxious corn-syrup stuff. “Industry after industry is replacing their product with sucrose and advertising it as such — ‘No High-Fructose Corn Syrup,’ ” Nestle notes.

But marketing aside, the two sweeteners are effectively identical in their biological effects. “High-fructose corn syrup, sugar — no difference,” is how Lustig put it in a lecture that I attended in San Francisco last December. “The point is they’re each bad — equally bad, equally poisonous.”

Refined sugar (that is, sucrose) is made up of a molecule of the carbohydrate glucose, bonded to a molecule of the carbohydrate fructose — a 50-50 mixture of the two. The fructose, which is almost twice as sweet as glucose, is what distinguishes sugar from other carbohydrate-rich foods like bread or potatoes that break down upon digestion to glucose alone. The more fructose in a substance, the sweeter it will be. High-fructose corn syrup, as it is most commonly consumed, is 55 percent fructose, and the remaining 45 percent is nearly all glucose. It was first marketed in the late 1970s and was created to be indistinguishable from refined sugar when used in soft drinks. Because each of these sugars ends up as glucose and fructose in our guts, our bodies react the same way to both, and the physiological effects are identical. In a 2010 review of the relevant science, Luc Tappy, a researcher at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland who is considered by biochemists who study fructose to be the world’s foremost authority on the subject, said there was “not the single hint” that H.F.C.S. was more deleterious than other sources of sugar.

The question, then, isn’t whether high-fructose corn syrup is worse than sugar; it’s what do they do to us, and how do they do it? The conventional wisdom has long been that the worst that can be said about sugars of any kind is that they cause tooth decay and represent “empty calories” that we eat in excess because they taste so good.

By this logic, sugar-sweetened beverages (or H.F.C.S.-sweetened beverages, as the Sugar Association prefers they are called) are bad for us not because there’s anything particularly toxic about the sugar they contain but just because people consume too many of them.

Those organizations that now advise us to cut down on our sugar consumption — the Department of Agriculture, for instance, in its recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans, or the American Heart Association in guidelines released in September 2009 (of which Lustig was a co-author) — do so for this reason. Refined sugar and H.F.C.S. don’t come with any protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants or fiber, and so they either displace other more nutritious elements of our diet or are eaten over and above what we need to sustain our weight, and this is why we get fatter.

Whether the empty-calories argument is true, it’s certainly convenient. It allows everyone to assign blame for obesity and, by extension, diabetes — two conditions so intimately linked that some authorities have taken to calling them “diabesity” — to overeating of all foods, or underexercising, because a calorie is a calorie. “This isn’t about demonizing any industry,” as Michelle Obama said about her Let’s Move program to combat the epidemic of childhood obesity. Instead it’s about getting us — or our children — to move more and eat less, reduce our portion sizes, cut back on snacks.

Lustig’s argument, however, is not about the consumption of empty calories — and biochemists have made the same case previously, though not so publicly. It is that sugar has unique characteristics, specifically in the way the human body metabolizes the fructose in it, that may make it singularly harmful, at least if consumed in sufficient quantities.

The phrase Lustig uses when he describes this concept is “isocaloric but not isometabolic.” This means we can eat 100 calories of glucose (from a potato or bread or other starch) or 100 calories of sugar (half glucose and half fructose), and they will be metabolized differently and have a different effect on the body. The calories are the same, but the metabolic consequences are quite different.

The fructose component of sugar and H.F.C.S. is metabolized primarily by the liver, while the glucose from sugar and starches is metabolized by every cell in the body. Consuming sugar (fructose and glucose) means more work for the liver than if you consumed the same number of calories of starch (glucose). And if you take that sugar in liquid form — soda or fruit juices — the fructose and glucose will hit the liver more quickly than if you consume them, say, in an apple (or several apples, to get what researchers would call the equivalent dose of sugar). The speed with which the liver has to do its work will also affect how it metabolizes the fructose and glucose.

In animals, or at least in laboratory rats and mice, it’s clear that if the fructose hits the liver in sufficient quantity and with sufficient speed, the liver will convert much of it to fat. This apparently induces a condition known as insulin resistance, which is now considered the fundamental problem in obesity, and the underlying defect in heart disease and in the type of diabetes, type 2, that is common to obese and overweight individuals. It might also be the underlying defect in many cancers.

If what happens in laboratory rodents also happens in humans, and if we are eating enough sugar to make it happen, then we are in trouble.

The last time an agency of the federal government looked into the question of sugar and health in any detail was in 2005, in a report by the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academies. The authors of the report acknowledged that plenty of evidence suggested that sugar could increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes — even raising LDL cholesterol, known as the “bad cholesterol”—– but did not consider the research to be definitive. There was enough ambiguity, they concluded, that they couldn’t even set an upper limit on how much sugar constitutes too much. Referring back to the 2005 report, an Institute of Medicine report released last fall reiterated, “There is a lack of scientific agreement about the amount of sugars that can be consumed in a healthy diet.” This was the same conclusion that the Food and Drug Administration came to when it last assessed the sugar question, back in 1986. The F.D.A. report was perceived as an exoneration of sugar, and that perception influenced the treatment of sugar in the landmark reports on diet and health that came after.

The Sugar Association and the Corn Refiners Association have also portrayed the 1986 F.D.A. report as clearing sugar of nutritional crimes, but what it concluded was actually something else entirely. To be precise, the F.D.A. reviewers said that other than its contribution to calories, “no conclusive evidence on sugars demonstrates a hazard to the general public when sugars are consumed at the levels that are now current.” This is another way of saying that the evidence by no means refuted the kinds of claims that Lustig is making now and other researchers were making then, just that it wasn’t definitive or unambiguous.

What we have to keep in mind, says Walter Glinsmann, the F.D.A. administrator who was the primary author on the 1986 report and who now is an adviser to the Corn Refiners Association, is that sugar and high-fructose corn syrup might be toxic, as Lustig argues, but so might any substance if it’s consumed in ways or in quantities that are unnatural for humans. The question is always at what dose does a substance go from being harmless to harmful? How much do we have to consume before this happens?

When Glinsmann and his F.D.A. co-authors decided no conclusive evidence demonstrated harm at the levels of sugar then being consumed, they estimated those levels at 40 pounds per person per year beyond what we might get naturally in fruits and vegetables — 40 pounds per person per year of “added sugars” as nutritionists now call them. This is 200 calories per day of sugar, which is less than the amount in a can and a half of Coca-Cola or two cups of apple juice. If that’s indeed all we consume, most nutritionists today would be delighted, including Lustig.

But 40 pounds per year happened to be 35 pounds less than what Department of Agriculture analysts said we were consuming at the time — 75 pounds per person per year — and the U.S.D.A. estimates are typically considered to be the most reliable. By the early 2000s, according to the U.S.D.A., we had increased our consumption to more than 90 pounds per person per year.

That this increase happened to coincide with the current epidemics of obesity and diabetes is one reason that it’s tempting to blame sugars — sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup — for the problem. In 1980, roughly one in seven Americans was obese, and almost six million were diabetic, and the obesity rates, at least, hadn’t changed significantly in the 20 years previously. By the early 2000s, when sugar consumption peaked, one in every three Americans was obese, and 14 million were diabetic.

This correlation between sugar consumption and diabetes is what defense attorneys call circumstantial evidence. It’s more compelling than it otherwise might be, though, because the last time sugar consumption jumped markedly in this country, it was also associated with a diabetes epidemic.

In the early 20th century, many of the leading authorities on diabetes in North America and Europe (including Frederick Banting, who shared the 1923 Nobel Prize for the discovery of insulin) suspected that sugar causes diabetes based on the observation that the disease was rare in populations that didn’t consume refined sugar and widespread in those that did. In 1924, Haven Emerson, director of the institute of public health at Columbia University, reported that diabetes deaths in New York City had increased as much as 15-fold since the Civil War years, and that deaths increased as much as fourfold in some U.S. cities between 1900 and 1920 alone. This coincided, he noted, with an equally significant increase in sugar consumption — almost doubling from 1890 to the early 1920s — with the birth and subsequent growth of the candy and soft-drink industries.

Emerson’s argument was countered by Elliott Joslin, a leading authority on diabetes, and Joslin won out. But his argument was fundamentally flawed. Simply put, it went like this: The Japanese eat lots of rice, and Japanese diabetics are few and far between; rice is mostly carbohydrate, which suggests that sugar, also a carbohydrate, does not cause diabetes. But sugar and rice are not identical merely because they’re both carbohydrates. Joslin could not know at the time that the fructose content of sugar affects how we metabolize it.

Joslin was also unaware that the Japanese ate little sugar. In the early 1960s, the Japanese were eating as little sugar as Americans were a century earlier, maybe less, which means that the Japanese experience could have been used to support the idea that sugar causes diabetes. Still, with Joslin arguing in edition after edition of his seminal textbook that sugar played no role in diabetes, it eventually took on the aura of undisputed truth.

Until Lustig came along, the last time an academic forcefully put forward the sugar-as-toxin thesis was in the 1970s, when John Yudkin, a leading authority on nutrition in the United Kingdom, published a polemic on sugar called “Sweet and Dangerous.” Through the 1960s Yudkin did a series of experiments feeding sugar and starch to rodents, chickens, rabbits, pigs and college students. He found that the sugar invariably raised blood levels of triglycerides (a technical term for fat), which was then, as now, considered a risk factor for heart disease. Sugar also raised insulin levels in Yudkin’s experiments, which linked sugar directly to type 2 diabetes. Few in the medical community took Yudkin’s ideas seriously, largely because he was also arguing that dietary fat and saturated fat were harmless. This set Yudkin’s sugar hypothesis directly against the growing acceptance of the idea, prominent to this day, that dietary fat was the cause of heart disease, a notion championed by the University of Minnesota nutritionist Ancel Keys.

A common assumption at the time was that if one hypothesis was right, then the other was most likely wrong. Either fat caused heart disease by raising cholesterol, or sugar did by raising triglycerides. “The theory that diets high in sugar are an important cause of atherosclerosis and heart disease does not have wide support among experts in the field, who say that fats and cholesterol are the more likely culprits,” as Jane E. Brody wrote in The Times in 1977.

At the time, many of the key observations cited to argue that dietary fat caused heart disease actually support the sugar theory as well. During the Korean War, pathologists doing autopsies on American soldiers killed in battle noticed that many had significant plaques in their arteries, even those who were still teenagers, while the Koreans killed in battle did not. The atherosclerotic plaques in the Americans were attributed to the fact that they ate high-fat diets and the Koreans ate low-fat. But the Americans were also eating high-sugar diets, while the Koreans, like the Japanese, were not.

In 1970, Keys published the results of a landmark study in nutrition known as the Seven Countries Study. Its results were perceived by the medical community and the wider public as compelling evidence that saturated-fat consumption is the best dietary predictor of heart disease. But sugar consumption in the seven countries studied was almost equally predictive. So it was possible that Yudkin was right, and Keys was wrong, or that they could both be right. The evidence has always been able to go either way.

European clinicians tended to side with Yudkin; Americans with Keys. The situation wasn’t helped, as one of Yudkin’s colleagues later told me, by the fact that “there was quite a bit of loathing” between the two nutritionists themselves. In 1971, Keys published an article attacking Yudkin and describing his evidence against sugar as “flimsy indeed.” He treated Yudkin as a figure of scorn, and Yudkin never managed to shake the portrayal.

By the end of the 1970s, any scientist who studied the potentially deleterious effects of sugar in the diet, according to Sheldon Reiser, who did just that at the U.S.D.A.’s Carbohydrate Nutrition Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., and talked about it publicly, was endangering his reputation. “Yudkin was so discredited,” Reiser said to me. “He was ridiculed in a way. And anybody else who said something bad about sucrose, they’d say, ‘He’s just like Yudkin.’ ”

What has changed since then, other than Americans getting fatter and more diabetic? It wasn’t so much that researchers learned anything particularly new about the effects of sugar or high-fructose corn syrup in the human body. Rather the context of the science changed: physicians and medical authorities came to accept the idea that a condition known as metabolic syndrome is a major, if not the major, risk factor for heart disease and diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now estimate that some 75 million Americans have metabolic syndrome. For those who have heart attacks, metabolic syndrome will very likely be the reason.

The first symptom doctors are told to look for in diagnosing metabolic syndrome is an expanding waistline. This means that if you’re overweight, there’s a good chance you have metabolic syndrome, and this is why you’re more likely to have a heart attack or become diabetic (or both) than someone who’s not. Although lean individuals, too, can have metabolic syndrome, and they are at greater risk of heart disease and diabetes than lean individuals without it.

Having metabolic syndrome is another way of saying that the cells in your body are actively ignoring the action of the hormone insulin — a condition known technically as being insulin-resistant. Because insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome still get remarkably little attention in the press (certainly compared with cholesterol), let me explain the basics.

You secrete insulin in response to the foods you eat — particularly the carbohydrates — to keep blood sugar in control after a meal. When your cells are resistant to insulin, your body (your pancreas, to be precise) responds to rising blood sugar by pumping out more and more insulin. Eventually the pancreas can no longer keep up with the demand or it gives in to what diabetologists call “pancreatic exhaustion.” Now your blood sugar will rise out of control, and you’ve got diabetes.

Not everyone with insulin resistance becomes diabetic; some continue to secrete enough insulin to overcome their cells’ resistance to the hormone. But having chronically elevated insulin levels has harmful effects of its own — heart disease, for one. A result is higher triglyceride levels and blood pressure, lower levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good cholesterol”), further worsening the insulin resistance — this is metabolic syndrome.

When physicians assess your risk of heart disease these days, they will take into consideration your LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), but also these symptoms of metabolic syndrome. The idea, according to Scott Grundy, a University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center nutritionist and the chairman of the panel that produced the last edition of the National Cholesterol Education Program guidelines, is that heart attacks 50 years ago might have been caused by high cholesterol — particularly high LDL cholesterol — but since then we’ve all gotten fatter and more diabetic, and now it’s metabolic syndrome that’s the more conspicuous problem.

This raises two obvious questions. The first is what sets off metabolic syndrome to begin with, which is another way of asking, What causes the initial insulin resistance? There are several hypotheses, but researchers who study the mechanisms of insulin resistance now think that a likely cause is the accumulation of fat in the liver. When studies have been done trying to answer this question in humans, says Varman Samuel, who studies insulin resistance at Yale School of Medicine, the correlation between liver fat and insulin resistance in patients, lean or obese, is “remarkably strong.” What it looks like, Samuel says, is that “when you deposit fat in the liver, that’s when you become insulin-resistant.”

That raises the other obvious question: What causes the liver to accumulate fat in humans? A common assumption is that simply getting fatter leads to a fatty liver, but this does not explain fatty liver in lean people. Some of it could be attributed to genetic predisposition. But harking back to Lustig, there’s also the very real possibility that it is caused by sugar.

As it happens, metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance are the reasons that many of the researchers today studying fructose became interested in the subject to begin with. If you want to cause insulin resistance in laboratory rats, says Gerald Reaven, the Stanford University diabetologist who did much of the pioneering work on the subject, feeding them diets that are mostly fructose is an easy way to do it. It’s a “very obvious, very dramatic” effect, Reaven says.

By the early 2000s, researchers studying fructose metabolism had established certain findings unambiguously and had well-established biochemical explanations for what was happening. Feed animals enough pure fructose or enough sugar, and their livers convert the fructose into fat — the saturated fatty acid, palmitate, to be precise, that supposedly gives us heart disease when we eat it, by raising LDL cholesterol. The fat accumulates in the liver, and insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome follow.

Michael Pagliassotti, a Colorado State University biochemist who did many of the relevant animal studies in the late 1990s, says these changes can happen in as little as a week if the animals are fed sugar or fructose in huge amounts — 60 or 70 percent of the calories in their diets. They can take several months if the animals are fed something closer to what humans (in America) actually consume — around 20 percent of the calories in their diet. Stop feeding them the sugar, in either case, and the fatty liver promptly goes away, and with it the insulin resistance.

Similar effects can be shown in humans, although the researchers doing this work typically did the studies with only fructose — as Luc Tappy did in Switzerland or Peter Havel and Kimber Stanhope did at the University of California, Davis — and pure fructose is not the same thing as sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. When Tappy fed his human subjects the equivalent of the fructose in 8 to 10 cans of Coke or Pepsi a day — a “pretty high dose,” he says —– their livers would start to become insulin-resistant, and their triglycerides would go up in just a few days. With lower doses, Tappy says, just as in the animal research, the same effects would appear, but it would take longer, a month or more.

Despite the steady accumulation of research, the evidence can still be criticized as falling far short of conclusive. The studies in rodents aren’t necessarily applicable to humans. And the kinds of studies that Tappy, Havel and Stanhope did — having real people drink beverages sweetened with fructose and comparing the effect with what happens when the same people or others drink beverages sweetened with glucose — aren’t applicable to real human experience, because we never naturally consume pure fructose. We always take it with glucose, in the nearly 50-50 combinations of sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. And then the amount of fructose or sucrose being fed in these studies, to the rodents or the human subjects, has typically been enormous.

This is why the research reviews on the subject invariably conclude that more research is necessary to establish at what dose sugar and high-fructose corn syrup start becoming what Lustig calls toxic. “There is clearly a need for intervention studies,” as Tappy recently phrased it in the technical jargon of the field, “in which the fructose intake of high-fructose consumers is reduced to better delineate the possible pathogenic role of fructose. At present, short-term-intervention studies, however, suggest that a high-fructose intake consisting of soft drinks, sweetened juices or bakery products can increase the risk of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases.”

In simpler language, how much of this stuff do we have to eat or drink, and for how long, before it does to us what it does to laboratory rats? And is that amount more than we’re already consuming?

Unfortunately, we’re unlikely to learn anything conclusive in the near future. As Lustig points out, sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are certainly not “acute toxins” of the kind the F.D.A. typically regulates and the effects of which can be studied over the course of days or months. The question is whether they’re “chronic toxins,” which means “not toxic after one meal, but after 1,000 meals.” This means that what Tappy calls “intervention studies” have to go on for significantly longer than 1,000 meals to be meaningful.

At the moment, the National Institutes of Health are supporting surprisingly few clinical trials related to sugar and high-fructose corn syrup in the U.S. All are small, and none will last more than a few months. Lustig and his colleagues at U.C.S.F. — including Jean-Marc Schwarz, whom Tappy describes as one of the three best fructose biochemists in the world — are doing one of these studies. It will look at what happens when obese teenagers consume no sugar other than what they might get in fruits and vegetables. Another study will do the same with pregnant women to see if their babies are born healthier and leaner.

Only one study in this country, by Havel and Stanhope at the University of California, Davis, is directly addressing the question of how much sugar is required to trigger the symptoms of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. Havel and Stanhope are having healthy people drink three sugar- or H.F.C.S.-sweetened beverages a day and then seeing what happens. The catch is that their study subjects go through this three-beverage-a-day routine for only two weeks. That doesn’t seem like a very long time — only 42 meals, not 1,000 — but Havel and Stanhope have been studying fructose since the mid-1990s, and they seem confident that two weeks is sufficient to see if these sugars cause at least some of the symptoms of metabolic syndrome.

So the answer to the question of whether sugar is as bad as Lustig claims is that it certainly could be. It very well may be true that sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, because of the unique way in which we metabolize fructose and at the levels we now consume it, cause fat to accumulate in our livers followed by insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, and so trigger the process that leads to heart disease, diabetes and obesity. They could indeed be toxic, but they take years to do their damage. It doesn’t happen overnight. Until long-term studies are done, we won’t know for sure.

One more question still needs to be asked, and this is what my wife, who has had to live with my journalistic obsession on this subject, calls the Grinch-trying-to-steal-Christmas problem. What are the chances that sugar is actually worse than Lustig says it is?

One of the diseases that increases in incidence with obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome is cancer. This is why I said earlier that insulin resistance may be a fundamental underlying defect in many cancers, as it is in type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The connection between obesity, diabetes and cancer was first reported in 2004 in large population studies by researchers from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer. It is not controversial. What it means is that you are more likely to get cancer if you’re obese or diabetic than if you’re not, and you’re more likely to get cancer if you have metabolic syndrome than if you don’t.

This goes along with two other observations that have led to the well-accepted idea that some large percentage of cancers are caused by our Western diets and lifestyles. This means they could actually be prevented if we could pinpoint exactly what the problem is and prevent or avoid that.

One observation is that death rates from cancer, like those from diabetes, increased significantly in the second half of the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th. As with diabetes, this observation was accompanied by a vigorous debate about whether those increases could be explained solely by the aging of the population and the use of new diagnostic techniques or whether it was really the incidence of cancer itself that was increasing. “By the 1930s,” as a 1997 report by the World Cancer Research Fund International and the American Institute for Cancer Research explained, “it was apparent that age-adjusted death rates from cancer were rising in the U.S.A.,” which meant that the likelihood of any particular 60-year-old, for instance, dying from cancer was increasing, even if there were indeed more 60-years-olds with each passing year.

The second observation was that malignant cancer, like diabetes, was a relatively rare disease in populations that didn’t eat Western diets, and in some of these populations it appeared to be virtually nonexistent. In the 1950s, malignant cancer among the Inuit, for instance, was still deemed sufficiently rare that physicians working in northern Canada would publish case reports in medical journals when they did diagnose a case.

In 1984, Canadian physicians published an analysis of 30 years of cancer incidence among Inuit in the western and central Arctic. While there had been a “striking increase in the incidence of cancers of modern societies” including lung and cervical cancer, they reported, there were still “conspicuous deficits” in breast-cancer rates. They could not find a single case in an Inuit patient before 1966; they could find only two cases between 1967 and 1980. Since then, as their diet became more like ours, breast cancer incidence has steadily increased among the Inuit, although it’s still significantly lower than it is in other North American ethnic groups. Diabetes rates in the Inuit have also gone from vanishingly low in the mid-20th century to high today.

Now most researchers will agree that the link between Western diet or lifestyle and cancer manifests itself through this association with obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome — i.e., insulin resistance. This was the conclusion, for instance, of a 2007 report published by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research — “Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer.”

So how does it work? Cancer researchers now consider that the problem with insulin resistance is that it leads us to secrete more insulin, and insulin (as well as a related hormone known as insulin-like growth factor) actually promotes tumor growth.

As it was explained to me by Craig Thompson, who has done much of this research and is now president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, the cells of many human cancers come to depend on insulin to provide the fuel (blood sugar) and materials they need to grow and multiply. Insulin and insulin-like growth factor (and related growth factors) also provide the signal, in effect, to do it. The more insulin, the better they do. Some cancers develop mutations that serve the purpose of increasing the influence of insulin on the cell; others take advantage of the elevated insulin levels that are common to metabolic syndrome, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Some do both. Thompson believes that many pre-cancerous cells would never acquire the mutations that turn them into malignant tumors if they weren’t being driven by insulin to take up more and more blood sugar and metabolize it.

What these researchers call elevated insulin (or insulin-like growth factor) signaling appears to be a necessary step in many human cancers, particularly cancers like breast and colon cancer. Lewis Cantley, director of the Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School, says that up to 80 percent of all human cancers are driven by either mutations or environmental factors that work to enhance or mimic the effect of insulin on the incipient tumor cells. Cantley is now the leader of one of five scientific “dream teams,” financed by a national coalition called Stand Up to Cancer, to study, in the case of Cantley’s team, precisely this link between a specific insulin-signaling gene (known technically as PI3K) and tumor development in breast and other cancers common to women.

Most of the researchers studying this insulin/cancer link seem concerned primarily with finding a drug that might work to suppress insulin signaling in incipient cancer cells and so, they hope, inhibit or prevent their growth entirely. Many of the experts writing about the insulin/cancer link from a public health perspective — as in the 2007 report from the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research — work from the assumption that chronically elevated insulin levels and insulin resistance are both caused by being fat or by getting fatter. They recommend, as the 2007 report did, that we should all work to be lean and more physically active, and that in turn will help us prevent cancer.

But some researchers will make the case, as Cantley and Thompson do, that if something other than just being fatter is causing insulin resistance to begin with, that’s quite likely the dietary cause of many cancers. If it’s sugar that causes insulin resistance, they say, then the conclusion is hard to avoid that sugar causes cancer — some cancers, at least — radical as this may seem and despite the fact that this suggestion has rarely if ever been voiced before publicly. For just this reason, neither of these men will eat sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, if they can avoid it.

“I have eliminated refined sugar from my diet and eat as little as I possibly can,” Thompson told me, “because I believe ultimately it’s something I can do to decrease my risk of cancer.” Cantley put it this way: “Sugar scares me.”

Sugar scares me too, obviously. I’d like to eat it in moderation. I’d certainly like my two sons to be able to eat it in moderation, to not overconsume it, but I don’t actually know what that means, and I’ve been reporting on this subject and studying it for more than a decade. If sugar just makes us fatter, that’s one thing. We start gaining weight, we eat less of it. But we are also talking about things we can’t see — fatty liver, insulin resistance and all that follows. Officially I’m not supposed to worry because the evidence isn’t conclusive, but I do.

Gary Taubes ( is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation independent investigator in health policy and the author of “Why We Get Fat.” Editor: Vera Titunik (


I LOVE reading different articles about health related issues. This article was brought to my attention by my Operation Boot Camp family. In general folks say sugar is bad, but this brought another side to the sugar debate. Regardless of where you stand bottomline is this: everything in moderation. With that I am going to reassess what's been happening to my eating and lifestyle choices in the last couple of weeks. It's time to get this ball rolling...

On a personal note life has been getting a little hectic with less than a month of graduate school. I am running around with my head cut off like a chicken. For example: I totally forgot I am running a 1/2 marathon this weekend in Marin County! Who does that?! Apparently me. Womp. =(

What did YOU think about this article? What side of the sugar debate are you on? I'd love to know! =)

Dedicated to health,
FFF Diva Mo

WLB4: MOpic Weekend

Welcome to Week 3 of Season 4 of Win, Lose, Blog! I am truly excited for this week, because I sincerely fell off the wagon during Week 2.

Here's the T (the talk, the info, the real honest truth): I TRULY LET LOOSE DURING MY COLLEGE REUNION WEEKEND. I am not going to go into detail of what happened, but I will share you some photos that will speak for themselves....

Dominican Alumni: Classes '05,'81,'07,'82

My Fellow ASDU (Student Government) Buddies: Kevin ('05) and Val ('08)

Dominican Alumni: Across the Generations

Strutting My Stuff: Dominican Beanie and Scarf

Dominican University of California is a small private Catholic college in Marin County (north of San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge).
How EPIC and memorable was this weekend? People called it MOpic! You know you were the life of the party when the next day you receive Facebook messages/comments/friend requests, calls, and text messages saying the same thing: "YOU were the reason why this year's Dominican Alumni Reunion Weekend was THE BEST!" Wow. I must have had a REALLY good time. Next year is my 5 year anniversary for my college Class of 2007. Next year is going to be out of this world.

MOtivational Monday:

With that being said, I learned MANY lessons one of which is this: Being social is fine and dandy, but don't let one weekend letting loose ruin your weight loss progress. I had fun and I don't regret this weekend, but I did gain weight and I am not happy about that. How am I moving forward? I got up early this morning before work and ran 4 miles as per my 1/2 marathon training schedule. I also made a healthy breakfast of a hardboiled egg, banana, and whole tomato. Lunch was stellar with my friend, because we went to a healthy alternative restaurant called the Sante Grill and my Spicy Thai Chicken Whole Wheat Wrap and side of steamed broccoli cost me only 360 calories. Amazeballs (another MOism). As a result I was reminded this weekend that I am human. Losing weight is not a one time challenge, it's a lifestyle choice! I will always have to face challenges, but it's how I learn and move forward from these challenges is where I will be able to see and experience long lasting healthy change.

What did YOU do this past weekend? Did you get off your couch and go jogging? Did you say to yourself: "HEY I am going to have an awesome weekend of clean eating and exercise?" Feel free to share!

Dedicated to health,
FFF Diva Mo

WLB4: Falling Off The Wagon

It is almost the end of WEEK 2 of Season 4 of WLB and I feel I have fallen off the wagon or at least out of my routine. This week was stressful with commuting back and forth to Marin for graduate school (again 1.5 hours each way) as well as keeping up with my daily running schedule. However, there were two other things that got in the way for me:

1. I got sick and was fighting off a cold since last weekend.
2. Once I thought I started to feel better I would go out and drink.

That's right folks. I have a vice and it's alcohol. In my defense I don't drink everyday, nor need to. Nor do I drink for the sole purpose to get drunk. However, when most people have a cheat meal each week I have a cheat drink(s). So what is FFF Diva Mo's goal for the rest of this contest? Drink ONCE a week. Two beverages at most. Yup, I have to turn off the social butterfly off. Hopefully I can stop altogether, but I also have to be realistic to myself just in case I jump back into it. I need to ween myself off. I am single, young, and love the words HAPPY HOUR. And on top of that I am friends with the WORLD: birthdays, anniversaries, parties, etc. EVERY WEEK an event to go to. But if I WANT TO LOSE WEIGHT, I need to FOCUS. That was my honest confession for the week. The point of blogging is to share the real happenings in our lives so we can learn from each other. <3


"Falling Off The Wagon" by Jeffrey Heit

It happens to the best of us- even yours truly. Any of you who have read my blogs over the past year or so know that I often draw on personal experience to write them. This one is no exception. Sometimes, life gets very hectic and there are certain things that happen beyond one's control. Recently, there was a death in my family. My father-in-law passed away after a brief bout with cancer. There was a lot of traveling and child care issues that my wife and I had to deal with. Needless to say, there was also a lot of emotional stress, poor eating, difficulty managing time and weight gain. While hopefully, this kind of circumstance is a rare occurrence for most of you, it is probably not uncommon to "fall off the wagon" when life gets hectic. Eating habits suffer, you lose sleep, you stop working out and you gain weight. More important than the slip- up itself is how you deal with it, and what you do to snap out of it.

Firstly, acknowledge that you're slipping up- but don't berate yourself. Self loathing only serves to frustrate you and cause you to eat garbage- and more of it. Give yourself some leeway. Some things you may want to tell yourself are, "I know I'm eating poorly and not exercising, but at least I'm aware of it", "I'm going to allow myself these next 2-4 weeks to break my diet and skip out on the gym, but my circumstances are extenuating", or "clearly, I don't feel as good now as when I am on my program- I can't wait to get back into shape". The one thing that you do not tell yourself is that "I'm lazy and fat" and "I'll never lose this weight and get back into shape". Sometimes, being more lenient on yourself will actually prevent some of that emotional, guilt driven, impulsive eating.

Another thing to look forward to, once you do feel ready to get back to the gym or start any exercise program, is that exercise clearly reduces stress levels. Multiple studies have been done which show that exercise, especially aerobic exercise, is therapeutic when it comes to stress. Know that you will eventually get back on your program and feel better because of it. Also, when it is time to restart, begin slowly. Ease in to it. You may be surprised to learn that even though it took you anywhere from six to twelve months to get into shape, it will only take about four weeks to fall out of shape. You may not be able to pick up where you left off.

Basically, attitude is everything. If you allow yourself to take a break from a diet and/or fitness regimen because life's extenuating circumstances sneak up on you- don't fight it. The more you fight it, the more frustrated you'll be and the more likely you'll eat and be sedentary from anger. Give yourself time to heal and recover and let the "noise" quiet down. You'll probably find yourself wanting to get back on the wagon in a few weeks- and you'll feel better for it. Just start out slowly and don't "over do it". The last thing you'll want when getting back on a program is a new injury. Also, if you're finding it inordinately difficult to get back to normal in a few months, you are losing sleep, or are having trouble concentrating; contact your primary care provider. It may be as sign that something more serious is going on like depression or generalized anxiety.


I subscribe to updates and reflections. Today's quote really struck a chord with me that I even made it my Facebook status:

“Doing your best means never stop trying.” -Unknown

Tiny Wisdom: On Moving Forward
Apr 13, 2011 12:23 am | Lori Deschene

For years, I stressed over the possibility that my best was not good enough. I realized that I couldn’t possibly do better than my best, but as a type-A overachiever, this logic wasn’t sufficient permission to feel proud when I put all my heart into something.

I didn’t want to do my best–I wanted to do the best that anyone could do. I wanted to achieve greatness, as recognized by lots of people. I wanted it to be undeniably true that I was someone worth admiring and respecting.

What I have since realized is that no one’s admiration and respect will ever feel like enough until I admire and respect myself. And that doesn’t come from obsessing about perfect outcomes–it comes from knowing I am strong enough and brave enough to keep going, even knowing I’ll never be perfect.

If you are doing something that scares you, know that you are doing your best. If you’re doing something you’ve failed at before, know that you are doing your best. If you are doing something that you feel like you’re failing at now, know that you are doing your best.

And more importantly, regardless of what you achieve, know that you deserve your own respect and admiration for being a person who is willing to try.

In closing FFF Diva Fans and Followers: Are YOU willing to try something new? Are YOU willing to push yourself out of your comfort zone? Feel free to share.

Dedicated to health,
FFF Diva Mo
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