Friday, April 10, 2015

If I Put "Babe" in My Name....

Would that get me better hits on this site?

Maybe I should just blog more! 

Welcome back! It's been quite a few months. There's been some major PT for my leg which means less streamline lifestyle for now. But I'm trying to focus on the positive. I'm learning Danish. And I can only imagine it will be very helpful when I tell Danish librarians, "I er ikke mine rigtige forældre! Hvorfor er min haj i ændernes svømmebassin?" (Yes, those are sentences from my lessons.)

This is a short entry, but I thought I'd chime in because we're finally seeing some true social media backlash on a lot of the crap I've written about in the past. And now it's centered squarely on the Food Babe.

Aside from the latest piece which was shared worldwide, it's not like people haven't already been criticizing her in the media and on campuses.

And it's been fun to see. In fact, go check out #foodbabefacts on twitter.

I'm not saying you can't be skeptical about what might be in food, but please...I say this as a librarian....DO SOME PROPER RESEARCH!!!!!!!!!!

I'm flabbergasted that we allow such inanity in our discourse about health and wellness. You know, Food Babe, there's been quite a lot of research out there on health literacy. It's been a concern for decades. It's not about scaring folks into believing we're all being poisoned. It's about learning to handle information to turn it into proper knowledge. 

I would suggest you might visit your local library soon. You might actually learn something. 

Share information, everyone. Just do it wisely. 

The Streamlined Ska Librarian Babe. (Now I just need my own army...)


“Food Babe Visits My University | Illumination.” Accessed April 10, 2015.

“Is The Food Babe A Fearmonger? Scientists Are Speaking Out : The Salt : NPR.” Accessed April 10, 2015.

“The ‘Food Babe’ Blogger Is Full of Shit.” Accessed April 10, 2015.

Nutbeam, Don. Health literacy as a public health goal: a challenge for contemporary health education and communication strategies into the 21st century Health Promot. Int. (2000) 15 (3): 259-267 doi:10.1093/heapro/15.3.259 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The high cost of "Marge" clothing

Cold temperatures, polar vortexes, snowpocalypses that didn't happen (at least not in NYC)...all these factors lead it to being FRIGGIN' COLD!!  

Yeah, I probably could have used a scarf, too. via
That also means, I'm exercising outside less (I do have that thing about not running in single digit temps), and I'm craving more "sold, warm" food. But my usual regimen should keep me all tip-top, right? 

At least according to this study, folks who exercise first in the morning even when upping their calories tend not to gain weight (they don't lose it either, but they don't gain it). And that's me right there. Every weekday up at 5 AM to hit the gym with nothing but a cup of coffee and an allergy pill to fortify my progress. (Gyms have a lot of mold issues, just sayin').

Except I have gotten bulkier. Yes, I'm still happy to be bursting out all muscly all over the body. But I don't know if I'm Streamlined so much anymore as "Pumped Ska Librarian", which doesn't sound nearly so alliterative. As one of my old acquaintances who I occasionally see at the gym said recently, "I've seen Fat Dan and Skinny Dan, but I wasn't expecting to see Big Muscle Dan!" 

I'm not gonna lie: I did strut a bit more during my workout after that.

But this also means I have to start looking at larger clothes sizes again, after so happily squeezing into skinny clothes. But even with the gain, I don't fit into my Retro Ska Librarian clothes, and that's sort of a relief. They're still far too baggy in XL and above.

That's the one thing that's making me realize I really have just changed my body, even if I am heavier than when I started this blog. Retro I was XL+. Streamlined I was swimming in mediums (I'm far too tall for small sizes). Now I'm in that horrible limbo between medium and large, where nothing quite fits well.

I am....a "Marge."

And I'm not the only one who is in this realm. A quick search shows me it's all too common to be between medium and large.

So I'm less upset that I don't fit into "regular" sizes, as it seems no one does. I'm more upset I have to spend more money on a lot of basic work and casual clothes. An entire wardrobe just because I'm taking care of myself.

It's bad enough we get thrown into fashion fail just for being ourselves. After all, I still need all my tall/long size jackets and shirts taken in on the sleeves because my torso is longer than "average" and my arms are not. But now I need to go bigger in the chest and shoulders anyway. 

And now I need to make sure I don't do something bad and increase my waist size again. It will just lead to financial heartbreak.

Damn you, heaving obliques!
To prevent yet more wardrobe issues, I do have to be careful of food intake. Thankfully I can still be creative and try not to succumb to too many cravings this time of year. 

Turkey "pico de gallo" with roast veggies.

And I guess I should be lucky that most of the decent cheap takeout places in my neighborhood are disappearing. So not so much chance of defaulting to Chinese food and pizza. Because, as it turns out, we're killing our kids with pizza. 

(I think that speaks for the amount of crappy pizza there is out there, as opposed to feeding it to kids.)

It took quite some journey to be "marge." I ain't gonna spoil it with Domino's!*

*That was a joke. As a native Staten Islander who grew up with some of the top rated pizza joints of all time, I would sooner eat my too small gym shirts than order from Domino's.

Powell, Lisa M., Binh T. Nguyen, and William H. Dietz. “Energy and Nutrient Intake From Pizza in the United States.” Pediatrics, January 19, 2015, peds.2014–1844. doi:10.1542/peds.2014-1844.

Van Proeyen, Karen, Karolina Szlufcik, Henri Nielens, Koen Pelgrim, Louise Deldicque, Matthijs Hesselink, Paul P. Van Veldhoven, and Peter Hespel. “Training in the Fasted State Improves Glucose Tolerance during Fat-Rich Diet.” The Journal of Physiology 588, no. Pt 21 (November 1, 2010): 4289–4302. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2010.196493.

Friday, January 2, 2015

It's ok to not be cool...and not in a cool ironic way, either.

Welcome to my first blog post of 2015! If we look back on 2014, it shows a marked decrease in my blogging activity. There were 30 posts in 2014. I posted 73 times in 2013.

Am I no longer so heartened to share my journey? Dare I join Food Blogger Pro to best utilize those same old dandy infographics and shaded set ups to make my savory paleo gluten-free hand farmed vodka infused cupcakes shine like so many popular bloggers?

No. Please no. If that happens, then I should just stop for real.

Truth be told, it's just been a very busy year. Perhaps busier than 2013, or perhaps the blog became a somewhat lesser priority. But in 2014, I spent time on a Food Chemistry MOOC from McGill, which was awesome but indeed time consuming. I've also been settling into cohabitation, including acclimating the "step-pets":

It's a mutual admiration society!

And I've also just had a lot of work related projects which bled into my usual downtime.

Oh yeah, there was also that pesky re-occurring gout, where even sitting and typing on a keyboard can lead to pain. Not to mention that cancer scare. That was a time suck, for sure.

So, yes, a busy 2014, with less time for blogging. I can only hope that we beat the statistical odds and make sure 2015 doesn't see only 15 entries.

Of course, in 2015, I'm starting yet another MOOC, this time an awesome nutritional biology course via Wageningen University in my beloved Holland. And my training regimen will continue to cause soreness for yet a firmer Streamlined body. And I'm so immersed in Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle, that I tend to want to just keep reading all those volumes with no interruption around me.

But that does bring up one thing that seems to have disappeared from my schedule. I'm going to confess something that shouldn't be so much of a surprise: I've been in book clubs. I was in one for 17 years (which must be some sort of record among transient NYers) and another for about 3, although that one does seem to have petered out, too. It's a shame that's happened, but then again...more free time!

In both book clubs I seem to have had the dubious honor of being the only member who actually read the entire book each month. Call it Librarian OCD, but I always felt it was important to be able to discuss each book as a work, not just something I skimmed through. Often that led to me having to actually give more a summary book report to other members (the time I acted out all the characters in Martin Chuzzlewit was quite a favorite), but more often than not it made me realize I didn't like a lot of the books we were reading.

One such miss for me was The Debt to Pleasure by John Lanchester. It surprised me that I didn't like it. Here was a novel about food! From a former food critic! With great reviews from people I admired! But I didn't like it. It happens.

But that's not I've dismissed Lanchester's work entirely. In fact he recently wrote a piece in the New Yorker where he takes on the foodie community from a more serious critical standpoint. And so much of resonated with me, I was all set to drop everything to blog about it...which of course, didn't happen.

I suggest reading the entire piece, but here's one paragraph:

"Most of the energy that we put into our thinking about food, I realized, isn’t about food; it’s about anxiety. Food makes us anxious. The infinite range of choices and possible self-expressions means that there are so many ways to go wrong. You can make people ill, and you can make yourself look absurd. People feel judged by their food choices, and they are right to feel that, because they are."

And I think that did hit me somewhat hard. Perhaps it's our ability to be able to share so much with each other nowadays, but I do see that everything about food has gotten a lot more judgy in the past few years. I'm as guilty of it, too...after all I just snarkily mentioned paleo cupcakes, but I also have been trying to be a little more empathetic about this.

I've always said from the beginning that my sharing my story, workouts, recipes and such were about MY journey and that it most likely will not be YOUR journey. But I also see people still trying to defend their choices or beliefs to me when they don't jibe with mine. To people I know: I love you, but we're not supposed to be one upping each other here. To folks who've met me through this blog...welcome! But the message is the same.

Lanchester's article brought up another piece in my mind which always answers my own feelings as to why cooking shows nowadays don't really appeal to me as much as they did. I always said, the best thing about Julia Child was that you saw how to do all aspects of cooking, including the messy, gross things. Julia told me how to debone an entire chicken, gut and filet fish and create caramel nests out of molten, skin graft inducing sugar. 

But a recent piece also brought home what really stuck with me: She messed up a lot in the kitchen...and it didn't matter.

And that's what I regret about this social media of food nowadays. Instead of just showing how cooking never matches instagram perfection as a way to show "fails", show that it doesn't matter if it's not perfect. If it tastes good and everyone eats, that's cool enough for me. It certainly was cool enough for Julia Child!

And that's what 2015 is probably gonna mean to me: I'm not changing too much, but let's hope we can all be less judgy of one another. Which sounds pretty dull and not too cool at all. But then again, I only found out I was cool in my youth after it happened. Isn't it always that way?

Happy 2015!


“Julia Child Wasn’t Perfect in the Kitchen, and That Was Perfect.” Vox. Accessed December 28, 2014.

Lanchester, John. “A Foodie Repents.” The New Yorker, October 27, 2014.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Get a mammogram, man!

In my previous post I talked about my recent annual check-up and all that changes when one starts rounding 50. I purposely left out one thing as I wanted to wait until some more information came my way.

There's a lump in my chest.
One of the benefits of Streamlined Ska Librarian lifestyle is that I'm seeing a new body unfold and appear after years of flab. But a decrease of flab also means I'm seeing things that may have long been hidden.

A few months ago I noticed a bump on my smaller, firmer chest (from man boobs to DAN boobs, I always say!). At first I assumed it might be a contusion of some sort. I'm sort of clumsy and sometimes the barbell or cable may hit me as I'm weight training. But then it never went away. Months later there's still a lump.

Just next to that little inked petal....

So, during my annual checkup, I point this out to my doctor. He pokes around, confirms my family cancer history (both sides, lots of breast cancer) and hands me a referral for a mammogram and ultrasound. "Make an appointment as soon as possible," he said (which was not what he said about getting a colonoscopy, so I noticed.)

Fun Fact #1: While breast cancer in women is over 100x more common than in men, there are still about 2,400 new cases in men each year.  (via the National Cancer Institute)

Yet another 1% of which one hopes to not be a part ...

It's shocking news to think you might have cancer. What would happen next? Would this blog be taken over by a whole new journey of my body?  I had one week between the check-up and the mammogram and I did the wrong thing. I made the rookie mistake:

I looked up stuff about the disease on the internet. 

And I'm a librarian! I should know better!

So this entire week, I read forums and research on treatment, side effects, mortality rates. It was not time well spent. All I could think about was that surgery and hormone therapy would make me lose my nipple and my libido, both of which I was very fond. Not to mention chemo, lymphedema, mestastasis, watching what friends and family went through...Basically I went down the hole I would have smacked someone else for doing. I was a wreck. And I began to think the worst.

And after a fitful and scary week, it was time for the exams.

Fun fact #2: Mammograms for men are ONLY covered by insurance if it's for diagnostic purposes (i.e. if you're symptomatic) and not just for check-ups. (via your insurance company of choice).

It is very odd going into a women's health area of a radiology center and being one of the only men. It turns out the other guys were there for other radiology issues, so I already felt very awkward. For the most part, the staff was great, although the forms to fill out were pretty much gender-specific and not really answerable. (Questions about pregnancy, lactation, the perky breast drawings to show where you had issues). At least it wasn't all pink!

The mammogram tech was wonderful. She walked me through everything, told me what she was doing, prodded and maneuvered me, felt the lump and marked it to make sure it was scanned, compared it to my other Dan-boob, and had a generally good attitude for someone who does a procedure associated with a nasty health issue. 

Fun fact #3: Mammograms hurt!!!  (via my man boobs)

Perhaps having more material to slap onto those plates would be easier, but my Streamlined pecs got squeezed and pressed so freaking hard. I have even more respect for women for doing this. All we men have to deal with is a finger up our butt to feel our prostate for less than a minute. Can you imagine if our little fellas got this treatment?

I'd give credit but it's been Pinterested so many times without a citation. Shame!

Anyway, that took about 30 minutes and then I returned to the waiting room half dressed for my sonogram.

Over 30 minutes later, the ultrasound tech called me in. She asked where my lump was. I showed her.

She looked at me derisively. "I don't feel anything," she snorted.
"Well, my doctor did or else I wouldn't be here," I responded.
She pressed around some more."Show me."
"Is that it?"
*snort* "That's all?"

All good feelings I had went out the window. THIS is how you treat someone coming in for a possibly scary diagnosis? Aren't most lesions and tumors only 2-3 cm.? Could you show SOME compassion?

She began the scan. "That looks like a lipoma. Lipo means FAT!" she said as she looked at my stomach.
"Well, better safe than sorry. I've had a giant cell tumor before, so even benign items need to be looked at." (And why am I defending the need to be here?)
"Stay here. Don't get dressed."
A few minutes later, she came back. "I'm giving it to the radiologist. I think you're fine. You can go."

Fun Fact #4: I looked up some reviews of this diagnostic center. All good except for the waiting and this one tech. I can only imagine what those pregnant women coming in for ultrasounds had to endure. ("THAT'S your baby? *snort*") (via Yelp)

But after all that, the radiologist confirmed with my primary doctor that it was indeed only a lipoma: a benign tumor of adipose tissue. My doctor wants to monitor it to see if excision will be necessary at a later date, or if there's any change to it's composition. But as of now, no surgery, no nipple or tattoo loss, nothing but relief!! And no major changes to our regularly scheduled blog theme!

But perhaps there's also a new found sense of awareness for my own chest. Breast cancer can hit men and those of us who come from breast cancer stricken families should check ourselves on a regular basis.

If nothing else comes from this, I make it my pledge to talk about this issue. Get checked. Do it. Do it now.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Cheesy Diets and Sweet "Life" Choices

My annual physical used to be a non-event; check the BP and cholesterol, be appraised of how healthy I am now, talk about what may lie ahead...nothing special. But as I get older, it seems my body has begun to develop other issues...those along the "oh, you're just getting older" meme.

But these changes may have led to one mystery, that of my new gouty condition. My uric acid levels are way up (gout cause!), but it seems my Vitamin D levels are now really low, as well.

My doctor was not happy.

Hashing this out with my doctor, we realized that I have been getting mega dairy cravings for the past few months, something I never really had before. I mean, I am a fan of a piece of cheese & some fruit for dessert, but looking back on recent times, I've been scarfing large amounts of cheese, keffir, skyr, sour cream, Mexican crema, ice cream, get the idea.

And it turns out that excessive dairy products can increase the uric acid in your system which can lead to gout episodes. Which means my lack of Vitamin D meant more intake of Vitamin D rich foods which led to an increase in gout prone blood.

So have we found the culprit?
© Evan Dorkin

It's a good possibility, although there has been some research that a uric acid increase in and of itself may be responsible for Vitamin D deficiency among gout sufferers.

Which means my new found dairy addiction is purely based on my own shortcomings. Or getting unhealthy uric acid levels THEN led to dairy cravings, which is sad. Or maybe gout was just a bad timing sort of thing as I get older. (Age is also a common factor for Vitamin D decrease in the body, too).

So now I'm on Vitamin D supplements AND uric acid reducing drugs. Probably on both until...well, until forever. This sort of lifestyle change will get me so ready for my 50th year in 2015 (helped along by the referral the doctor gave me for my first colonoscopy. Yay!)

But I also look at this as another way of seeing that even "healthier" foods do not necessarily mean health.  Perhaps eating goat brie and yogurt is better than boxes of fudge, but it still comes down to portion control and sensible ways of eating. Thanks god I stayed away from the "fat free" cheeses, with all the added sugars and fillers.

Which brings me to my next rant. Chronic gout has meant my running activities have been way curtailed. This weekend, I finally managed to go out for a chilly 5K run, which felt great. But I came across a billboard for a product I hadn't heard of before this week: Coke Life.

I guess it's been on the shelves for a bit, but I don't tend to wander the soda aisles as of late. What gets me is that they're marketing this as a healthy drink and putting "cane sugar" in the same phrase as stevia, showing them both as natural, healthy ingredients.

OK, they both come from plants but "cane sugar" is SUGAR! YOU'RE DRINKING SUGAR! It is a processed product that isn't good for you in excessive amount! Is it healthier than high fructose corn syrup (which, technically, also comes from "natural ingredients")? Perhaps, but you're still drinking sugar water. You might as well just drink Coke non-Life (I won't even touch that one.)

Why do we continue to fall for this crap and why do they still try to push this on us like this? And in what world is sugar a "green" choice? If my toe wasn't all gouty, I'd get up and write an old man letter of complaint to the company.

But for now I'm just gonna cut back on the dairy. Because it's bad enough being grumpy from idiotic health marketing. Not being able to exercise or walk as I get older isn't gonna diffuse that grumpiness.

Who wants to buy some cheese?


Takahashi, Sumio, Tetsuya Yamamoto, Yuji Moriwaki, Zenta Tsutsumi, Jun-ichi Yamakita, and Kazuya Higashino. “Decreased Serum Concentrations of 1,25(OH)2-Vitamin D3 in Patients with Gout.” In Purine and Pyrimidine Metabolism in Man IX, edited by Andrea Griesmacher, Mathias M. Müller, and Peter Chiba, 57–60. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology 431. Springer US, 1998.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Full on workouts lead to half assed research

Hmm, so in my last post, I did say I was not concentrating on the usual healthy paths to nutrition and "wonderful rainbows of advice" type of articles that have been the inspiration for much of this site.

Which means I've been reading less things that make me sputter so much that I have to blog.

I have thought about yet another blog makeover (this is,after all, the 3rd incarnation of this). Perhaps one that is more library-centric, but then again, this journey of Streamlined Ska Librarian is still a work in progress and therefore I guess I do have more to say, I just don't get pissed off as I usually do from research trolling....I mean trawling.

But much of my Streamlined concentration of late has been on the return to hardcore gym time:

To be fair, the music in the gym was much better back then...

And with the return to this much gym time is the return of annoyances at the gym. I had hoped to find some actual research and analysis of gym attitudes or issues of gym attendees. And while there's no shortage of general blogs and entertainment websites on gym personalities, it was a wash in finding something along the lines of a systematic literature review or meta-analysis.

I did find other interesting tidbits, such as a study on crisis or trauma as a motivation for regular gym use, and another one that (not surprisingly) shows that exercise improves body image, as opposed to actual body shape.

I guess I should take a cue from that positive reinforcement and not try to dwell, even in a scholarly way, on folks who might annoy me when I'm trying to get my work done. And it does sheepishly remind me that my looking for such research is exactly the sort of project plan I try to dissuade younger librarians from doing; Don't start a research project just to show something sucks. Try to formulate a more objective topic.

After all, we can all get along at the gym, if we just try...and perhaps wear mules and garnet earrings while doing it.


Appleton, Katherine M. “6 X 40 Mins Exercise Improves Body Image, Even Though Body Weight and Shape Do Not Change.” Journal of Health Psychology 18, no. 1 (January 1, 2013): 110–20. doi:10.1177/1359105311434756.

Stewart, Bob, and Aaron C.T. Smith. “The Significance of Critical Incidents in Explaining Gym Use amongst Adult Populations.” Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health 6, no. 1 (February 12, 2013): 45–61. doi:10.1080/2159676X.2013.766814.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A return to paid ass-whoopin'

So where have I been? Not really anywhere, but usually too pooped to actually get to bloggin'. And why is that? I've gone back to my trainer...or let me put that in a more dramatic way...

My trainer has come back to me!

It's an online version of what we've been doing previously, which is obviously helped by our past in-person experience. I know that I was sort of falling by the wayside on my workouts. Not that I didn't work up a sweat, but more that it was getting boring and I was losing focus. I needed to try something new or at least mix up the old. And while I could and did peruse various training sites, videos and magazines (thanks, Jack Lalanne!), I needed someone who knew my mindset; how I worked, what would push me farther and, of course, what injuries were already in/on/around my body.

And in just a little over a month, I have noticed the difference. There's definitely more of a solidness to me and the muscles are bigger. I haven't actually felt like I was really getting something out of weight training for some time. I was enjoying it, but I can't say I saw many changes as of late. But now the difference is noticeable, which sometimes makes me wonder just how hard we really think we work it when there's not someone watching over us.

And it is noticeable in that, even though I've been getting up at 5 AM to work out for a few years now, it's been a while since I've felt the absolute need to crash by 10 PM. I guess I am expending more energy.I am whooped.

As silly as it sounds, I take things much more seriously and honestly when I have to record my progress and report it to my trainer. I could easily fudge the numbers of weight and reps and duration when I use my trainer's app, but I don't. Maybe all this time I just needed approval? Hmmm...telling, but probably true.

But even my new found self-approval and newer pectoral growth haven't changed my weight much. And that's actually fine.I'm actually fitting into some snugger pants again, even though the scale is somewhat increasing. And studies show that waist circumference and abdominal obesity are the big issues to health, not just overall chunkiness and a high BMI. 

My BMI is definitely back up into the "above normal" range, even if only for the fact my shoulders and back have gained several inches. And the longer I go at this getting into shape thing, the more I find that BMI chart more annoying and sad.

So I'm saying goodbye to official dieting. I'm finally saying goodbye to some of constant diet perusal time online. Eating healthy is one thing, but trying to make my way through so much morass, both from posters and commenters, is getting harder. Maybe it just brings so many flashbacks of fat-shaming throughout my life, but man, people are nasty! 

I don't even have to link to any specific post, because a lovely, recent mixed methods analysis  on obesity in social media shows that a majority of postings are derogatory, negative and often misogynistic.  Blogs tend to be "more nuanced", although even humorous, supportive comments can get pretty gnarly. 

This is not to say I still won't be basing future blog posts on research about weight and nutrition, because I do find that research fascinating. But I'm seriously trying to move myself away from reading the nastier self-abuse out there on the topic. It's to easy to fall into that. 

People gotta play nice. Or my whooped, newly firm ass will kick yours!


Chou, Wen-ying Sylvia, Abby Prestin, and Stephen Kunath. “Obesity in Social Media: A Mixed Methods Analysis.” Translational Behavioral Medicine 4, no. 3 (September 1, 2014): 314–23. doi:10.1007/s13142-014-0256-1.

Ford ES, Maynard LM, and Li C. “Trends in Mean Waist Circumference and Abdominal Obesity among Us Adults, 1999-2012.” JAMA 312, no. 11 (September 17, 2014): 1151–53. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.8362.