Ring In the New Year with “Gain-Framed” Resolutions

Ending a blogging drought to wish you a happy and a healthy 2011. Yes, it’s that time again, a time that many see as an occasion to set goals for the coming year – goals we hope will make our lives richer in some way, so that when next December 31 rolls around, we can say, “I’m a better and a happier person than I was last year at this time.” Alas, we all know New Year’s...
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Selling Cigarettes by Selling Thinness

You might think the tobacco industry was in serious trouble. Public health campaigns to reduce smoking have resulted in cutting smoking rates in the U.S. from a peak over 60% in men and 40% in women to the current rate of around 20% (where, incidentally, it’s been stalled for several years). Government intervention has resulted in exposing deceitful practices designed to produce a more...
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French Women DO Get Fat

I marvel at how exportable American culture is.  What is so seductive about our way of life?  Why do others so readily adopt – and sometimes even improve on – our gadgets, our language, our clothing, our food, our habits both good and bad? Having just spent two weeks in the U.K., I’m here to report that we Americans have no hammerlock on overweight and obesity.  Clearly the British...
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Still Smoking After All These Years

Today’s New York Times ran a story by reporter Lizette Alvarez on “The Holdouts” – professionals who, in defiance of increasingly menacing health warnings, spend their breaks dashing to an elevator, descending to the concrete canyon below, trudging to an area that meets the minimum requirement of being at least 25 feet from the skyscraper where they work, however inclement the weather, in...
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Okay, What If You Gain Ten Pounds?

In Life After Cigarettes, I mentioned my one-time wish to create a website to which a woman smoker could upload a current photograph.  The idea was to use age-progression software—what the police use to visualize how someone who has been missing for several years might look now—to project two different outcomes: how she would look in ten or twenty years if she continued to smoke, vs how she...
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Your Dinner Plate as a Weight Management Tool

I recently noticed that my son-in-law had lost the “baby weight” he’d put on a few years ago when my daughter was pregnant and regained his sleek rock musician physique.  So when I saw him serving his own meals on the salad-size plates used by their nine-year-old son and a four-year-old daughter, I suspected there might be a connection.  Sure enough, he told me he was on the “small...
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Light Smokers: Quit While You’re Ahead

On July 20, Jane E. Brody, in her New York Times column on Personal Health, gave a painful and moving account of her husband’s intractable addiction to cigarettes despite numerous efforts to quit. Although he finally succeeded at the age of 61, his 50 years of smoking eventually took their toll in the form of a decade of suffering from emphysema and finally death from lung cancer.  He...
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An Open Letter to Michelle Obama

Dear Michelle Obama, A New York Times article published on July 8 highlighted our national failure to reach “Healthy People 2010” goal of reducing high school smoking to 16%. The decline in smoking rates among high school students from 34.8% in 1995 to 21.9% in 2003 had led to earlier optimism that this trajectory would continue, but recently progress has stalled, with high school cigarette...
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Move a Little, Lose a Lot: A Review

I rely on regular attendance at aerobics classes to help keep my weight under control.  But although a recent week of babysitting my grandchildren (the reason, BTW, for no blog post last week) kept me too busy to visit the gym, the needle on the scale held steady.  James A. Levine, MD, PhD would undoubtedly call that a textbook example of NEAT (nonexercise activity thermogenesis) in action ...
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Life After Cigarettes – Beyond Quitting

I’m often asked how I came to write Life After Cigarettes. “Aren’t there already a lot of how-to-stop-smoking books already?” “Does the world really need another how-to-quit book, even one with a special focus on women and weight concerns?” Indeed there are a lot of how-to-stop-smoking books. Many of them are of dubious value – written either by charlatans or more often by...
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