Diet Soda: Trick or Treat?

Close your eyes and imagine the crisp sound of a soda can opening.  The fizz awakens and rushes to the surface, each CO2 bubble racing to be the first to exhale into the world, breaking free from the aluminum womb. You can almost feel your dopamine transmitters following suit, effervescing around your pleasure center, and picking up speed as you delicately kiss the lip of the can for that deeply satisfying quench of the first sip.

Quick. What was the can you were sipping? Coke? Or Diet Coke?  Pshaw, you say! Obviously Diet Coke, because we all know that Coke is just liquid calories that contribute to weight gain because your body doesn’t get full from it.  Diet Coke is the greatest! You get (almost) all the taste, without any of the calories! It’s a free lunch! (Heck, it’s a free stay at a knock-off resort in Canada, for that matter!)

Or is it? Hater headlines scream “Diet Coke: the devil’s spawn, and your waist’s worst nightmare!”  “ Not-So-Diet Soda: Tipping your scale!”

Are they right? Or don’t these people have something better to worry about? :(?

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ENERGY DRINKS!!!!! OMG!!!!!……!!!!!!!….!!!!!!

REDBULL GIVES US WINGS!! (Seth Casteel’s brilliant photography!)

Caffeine fashion has evolved. In the sweet yore-days, I worked at Starbucks, where this one strung-out guy would roll deep with his posse every night before closing and ask for his “late 8,” a packed 8 shots of espresso he’d promptly slam to demonstrate he actually could compensate for his shortcomings.  Bartending through grad school, I’d see a different dude stumble in; he, too, would ask just a little too loudly for a Redbull-vodka, bragging to the nearby barstool that the caffeine “metabolizes the alcohol so I can drink more.” (PS, dude #2: not true!)  And now, we have the calorie-conscious, I’m-so-productive-I-exhale-steam 4 AM worker-outers who heed Jim Rome’s morning plugs for a 5-Hour Energy shot, with all the caffeine you need in one little 1.5 oz mini iridescent bottle.

What gives? Is this cool? Should we all trade in our coffees for some Venom Hyperdrive so we, too, can dominate our own little worlds with a swagger and some to spare, despite the fact that our eyelid twitches and we absentmindedly consume our cuticles during “downtime”?

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Organic or not? The latest study that’s keeping people up at night

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“43.92, please” the dude at your local grocery store chain emptily mumbles, as he robotically arranges your two bundles of organic mint, four organic radishes, and one organic caramel stuffed marshmallow into your hand-sewn, Hemp Ziploc bag. You demonstratively hand him your organic credit card made from naturally-fallen bamboo leaves, and think to yourself “Gosh, I’m so healthy, and such a socially-responsible rockstar. Look at that guy with his inorganic apple! He should be arrested for abusing his body.”

OK, so maybe not. For sure, not everyone who eats organic green beans tacks it onto their psychological resume as a moral credential. If they have the option and the means, most people who choose to buy organic purchase cite health and environmental reasons. But a recent study grabbed all the sexy headlines, sending everyone’s reasoning on a Teacups ride. Newspapers are screaming: “Organic is no better than conventional!” The collective gasp of horror could be heard throughout the globally-warmed planet, (or at least throughout the artificially freezing grocery store I go to). Is it true!?

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Chocolate milk does an athlete’s body good? The latest research on a childhood fave.

You’ve heard him: those porn-like grunts; the grating screams of chains dog-piling on top of each other; the head-butting of tons of heavy iron against…more tons of heavy iron; blaring beats at next-door-night-club decibel levels advertising his music taste; even the almost-audible throbbing of his veins painting his body like a corrugated road-map. It’s “that guy” at the gym: conductor of Cacophonous Symphony, demanding you to listen, hoping that you’ll envy, and expecting that you’ll judge.

Enough people have slammed on “that guy.” He puts tuna in his oatmeal. He deadlifts his car for fun. He brings chicken breasts to movies as snacks. And he wouldn’t be caught dead in the gym without his beloved protein shake, either the home-spun version found in some measuring Tupperware-like bottle, or the Muscle Milks that are typically sold at the gym’s front desk.

But can we learn something from “that guy”? And what would happen if he saved 3.75 on his Muscle Milk or 44.98 on his Whey protein powder and just rolled with some 99 cent Moo-tastic chocolate milk instead (oh, the image-detonating horrors!) And while we’re at it, what’s up with chocolate milk for the rest of us who don’t bench press the weight of an adolescent polar bear?

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B.O.D.: Make a little daily commitment to health

Committing to your health does not have to be a drag. Nor should it be! And, more importantly, it doesn’t have to be a massive life overhaul, either. You don’t have to workout more than you sleep, or swear off all social dinners with friends while you sit at home and sadly nibble on the raw chard leaf you grew in your organic garden. (Actually, please don’t!) The top thing to remember about a healthy lifestyle is that it’s made up of small, consistent, healthy choices, not obsessive and overly-restrictive imprisonment (especially not something that leads to sleeping on a treadmill at 4:00 AM!)

As the quintessential yoga instructor may breathily whisper during class, “if it’s available to you,” here’s a challenge….

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