Sunday, May 25, 2014

Why am I always hungry? Food quality vs quantity

Could it be that your past eating habits are making you hungry now?

Have your fat cells turned on you, hoarding your calories so that you feel hungry, despite having eaten enough to meet your actual energy demands?

photo: AllFunnyImages

It may that eating a low-quality diet changes the behavior of fat cells and thus has a greater influence on hunger and weight gain than the sheer number of calories we take in and burn off.

That is the hypothesis behind a new study on overeating and weight gain published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Is barefoot better? Shoes in the news

“How one runs probably is more important than what is on one’s feet, but what is on one’s feet may affect how one runs.”

three great runners show nearly identical form, which includes short, fast strides
that allow them to strike the ground with the whole or mid-foot, rather than the heel,
and to lean forward from the ankles with their hips above their ankles.
photo (from video footage): The Balanced Runner

Monday, May 12, 2014

Bike to Work Week is on!

some commutes are harder than others
photo: FunnyJunk
This week, May 12-16, is Bike to Work Week in cities across the U.S., culminating in Bike to Work Day on May 16.

I wrote about bike commuting awhile back while living in Bangkok, likely one of the worst places to commute by bike due to terrible traffic and crazy motorcyclists that create new "lanes" on either side of moving cars!

Now that I'm living in a bike-able city, I've already started, thanks to the DC Capital Bikeshare, a bike commuting program in which $75 gets you free bike rides all over Washington, DC. You pick up a bright red bike at your departure point and drop it off at the storage rack nearest your destination.

Boston, Denver, Chicago, and New York, among other big cities, also have bikeshare programs, though northern European cities are still the kings of bike commuting, as the biking tradition in Beijing, Hanoi and other Asian cities has given way to increased motorcycle and now car traffic and pollution.

some biking benefits, from C.I.C.L.E

It really is nice to get a workout in before you get to work! Plus all that saving on gas, insurance, parking, and carbon emissions, and other benefits. If you're able to bike to work some days or every day, this is the week to try it out! You will probably enjoy the ride, and your quads and glutes will thank you.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

From humble beginnings

Have you always wondered how we – along with eagles, beetles, sharks, wolves, and turtles – all developed from simple beginnings?

Or why there are so many types of birds or butterflies?

Or why we look so different from our early ancestors?  And from each other?

In face, if you've always been a little confused about evolution, the development of life on Earth, here's a great video explaining it:

Video by Kurzgesagt

As the video highlights, the random shuffling of DNA from any given Mom and Dad pair produces children that are similar to, but not the same as, each other.  It's the same with other animals (and plants).

In nature, some of the mixes do better in certain situations or environments and therefore are the combinations that survive and get passed down to the future generations. Survival of the Fittest!

hummingbird not much larger than a flower
photo: Tom Walker, Photographer's Choice, Getty images
You might consider a bird's long, thin bill combined with fast wingspeed and light weight to reach into flowers to drink their nectar.

Other mixes are either neutral or disadvantageous, making survival and/or reproduction less likely and therefore make life more difficult for their owner compared to peers.

For example, hummingbirds that are born heavier might have to expend more energy hovering at flowers and therefore not get enough to eat, which is, perhaps why don't see large hummingbirds.

Still other traits, such as our standing on 2 legs, are advantageous but not perfect or, like wisdom teeth, they lose their advantage as conditions or the animal changes. If conditions change enough, those traits gradually lose out to other traits that best serve the individual in the new situation.

So evolution results in a diversity of species that are well adapted to their specific environments. It's a beautiful world!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Diva lesson, squirrel version

Long day?  Here's something to think about:

Wait! I must tell you darling, it improves physical and mental fitness

Friday, May 2, 2014

How to escape badger Alcatraz

Can you count the escape tactics of the Houdini of the animal kingdom in this BBC video?

In case you missed them, here are eight ways to escape being locked up in a pen:
  • climb walls
  • dig under walls
  • enlist friends
  • climb trees
  • move rocks
  • build structures
  • apply physics
  • use man-made tools

The honey badger (technically called a ratel) is in the weasel family, together with other badgers, ferrets, otters, and skunks (as well as weasels). In case its powerful claws, strong teeth, and cantankerous personality weren't enough, the honey badger, like its cousin the skunk, can also produce a stink bomb when marking territory or if threatened. It's really charming.

taking on pretty much anybody.   photo:  BadassOfTheWeek

Of course no post about honey badgers would be complete without Randall's introduction to the honey badger's true badass-ness.  It's now a classic -- have a look and be impressed: