Five Things Friday – Food, Food, Females, and Self-Igniting Flames!

Well Balanced Blog

Happy Friday! I hope everyone has enjoyed the week and has great plans for the weekend! Once again I am coming to the end of a week having run in sub-zero temperature … But since I PROMISED no more ‘sub-zero selfies, I didn’t take one.

I have often talked about how much I really enjoy the blogging community both in terms of people who stop by here and reading everyone else’s amazing content. But I have also noticed that as I find more great blogs, my ability to keep up with them all diminishes … and I feel that putting out more than one post per day is just too much.

That is why I held off on my ‘What I’m Listening to Wednesday’ and ‘Thought for Thursday’ – I am not abandoning music posts, but will include them as part of daily posts. And I think I am already doing enough ‘thought’-oriented posts!

1. Blogging ‘food groups’

This is a bit meta, but since many of the people who will read this have their own blogs, it seems to be appropriate. LinkedIn Marketing put together some thoughts and an infographic about how to maximize the value of your blog for your readers.

Audience engagement is the definitive measure of a blog’s success, whether you’re blogging for a marketing firm or simply to indulge your own interests. You’ve probably watched as some posts go viral while others sit quietly in the corner.

This goes along with a similar theme from Net Translators, again taking a food theme and comparing bloggers and dieters. The info graphic at the top is just a snip of the full one available at Mashable.

Since my basic approach is writing about what I like and what interests me, I am not as interested in ‘marketing’ … but the audience engagement is wonderfully addictive, so I read through these articles. Not sure if I will do anything with it all .. how about you?

2. ObamaCare and ‘Woman’ as a Pre-Existing Condition

I liked this set of infographics from UpWorthy about the impact of ObamaCare for women, but what really caught my eye was the statement that one benefit of the ACA is that ‘being female can no longer be used as a pre-existing condition’. So I did a quick search and found this blog at the NYT from 2010. What it noted was:

some companies charged women who did not smoke more than men who did, even though smokers have more risks.

Personally, this is the type of thing that reminds me WHY despite certain political groups constantly crowing how we in the US have hte ‘#1 healthcare system in the world’ … there are NO surveys done that take the patient cost and coverage and experience into account that even rank us in the top 10. I think at best the ACA is ‘flawed’, but anything that removes some of the most brain-dead restrictions is better than where we are.

3. ‘Bossy’ as a Female Trait?

I had seen this Sheryl Sandberg article from the WSJ elsewhere, but it really hit home when I saw it again at Broadsideblog the other day.

Basically, it notes that the term ‘bossy’ is always negative, and almost always used to describe women. This has been true historically, dating back to the first dictionary appearance in the 1880s:

Ngram analysis of digitized books over the past 100 years found that the use of “bossy” to describe women first peaked in the Depression-era 1930s, when popular sentiment held that a woman should not “steal” a job from a man, and reached its highest point in the mid-1970s as the women’s movement ramped up and more women entered the workforce.

The article also notes that in dictionaries where a sentence is used for content, a female description is almost universally used, and even in current books the term is ascribed to women at a rate of four times more often than men, and again – always as a negative.

So what Sandberg recommend? Follow CBS anchor Norah O’Donnell and the next time you hear a girl (or woman) called bossy, say “That girl’s not bossy. She has executive leadership skills.”

4. 15 Must Share Science Gifs

OK, so I am a science nerd, this we all know … so I have been mesmerized by this set of 15 science gifs all week. I could have chosen from several … but I really love this candle relighting gif:


As an aside – how do YOU pronounce ‘gif’? Like ‘jif’ (as in the peanut butter)? Or like it is pronounced in ‘gift’?

5. Some Amazing Peanut Butter Recipes

OK, so last week I already noted peanut butter as one of my absolute faves … so this article at Greatist with a ton of healthy peanut butter recipes? I was all over it!

The one I really plan to try soon? A healthy peanut butter centric breakfast! OK … so I actually made it last night and had it this morning. Behold my food photography master skills! (haha)

Parfait Recipe5

Bonus. Best Books of the 21st Century

[UPDATE: The creator of this info graphic contacted me, so I wanted to be sure it was properly attributed!]
You know, the 21st century has actually seen some really good books published! How many of the ‘best books’ have YOU read? Check out this great infographic from MAT Online at USC Rossier:

Best Books of the 21st Century

Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

What have you been reading or thinking about this week?

Six Things Saturday #III – Live Blogs, Running Shoes, Bad Science and More!

Last 2014 Cold Selfie1

Happy Saturday – and welcome to the warm-up if you live in the eastern states! We hit 40F yesterday afternoon and are supposed to get close to there today. I am terribly excited to get out for an afternoon run in this weather. So my lead image is from Thursday morning this week when it was still ‘Polar Vortex’ … and I am declaring it my FINAL SUB-ZERO SELFIE for this winter … let’s just hope that makes it true!

1. Live Blogging Your Run

In what was one of the coolest things I read all week, Laura from the Gluten Free Treadmill (formerly AndThisIsThirty) actually live-blogged her 32-mile treadmill training run yesterday.

Here is Mile 18:

Mile 18: the first thing to really get and stay consistently sore is my hamstrings, quads and IT Bands. Not in any debilitating way, but just sore. Makes stepping off the treadmill a little rough, so I’m going to try to avoid doing that as much as possible (e.g. Minimize bathroom breaks). And yes, Michael, that subtitle is appropriate (see comments).

Her remark has to do with one of my comments being “Subtitle: Laura’s treadmill-to-potty adventures …”

2. Helpful Articles and Tips

I love finding and sharing cool articles about running and everything else, but sometimes you find a post that already did that for you … so I am just going to point you to check out Sara’s blog post from Friday with a number of cool articles to read.

She took a look at a couple of articles that look at running performance that can predict your race-day readiness, ‘best advice ever’ from various elites (given how many of those types of articles there are, she found one of the few actually worth reading), hit on heart rate training similar to an article I cited last week (really looking forward to trying this out in the spring), and a few others. Check out her links, some good stuff there … oh, and one that blended small science with big claims. Leading me to …

3. The Danger of Taking Every Small Study as Law

As someone who makes a living in measurement science and statistics, it might seem odd that I would be so quick to call for skepticism when reading studies. In reality, that is EXACTLY what we should ALWAYS do. Don’t just say ‘oh – someone proved this, so it must be so’. Because in experimentation, all we can do is amass evidence to disprove things, or lack the evidence to disprove them. That isn’t the same as ‘proving things true’.

Sadly so much of science has become politicized, with only snippets of results being picked to put forward a point. Sometimes the actual conclusions say the exact opposite … but with enough of a push the ‘politicized results’ become fact.

This was definitely true with barefoot running, where in 2010 there were ‘conclusive findings’, only to be contradicted within a couple of years … except that many of the things from the original were not ever stated as being absolutely conclusive – but between blogs and traditional media it got cast that way. Oh, and people selling shoes LIVE for this sort of stuff.

I mention this because in Sara’s links is a study citing some positive results for the Spirulina additive. But the study used 9 people across 4 weeks, and all of the people in the study were young athletes in good physical condition.

The problem is that the study and at least this summary article state things in a fairly conclusive light. Oh – and that summary article talks about ‘reading between the lines’ and extrapolating to people never included in the studies. Which is pretty much the type of conclusion that will take off and be used to push marketing, and then be debunked in a few years.

For me it always comes back to this – researchers are generally looking to test hypotheses, and are fine with whatever happens. But when you see a study covered in a blog or media post … start looking for the ‘money trail’. Because if you start seeing more and more ‘spiraling’ sponsored blog posts soon pushing these benefits (there have already been a bunch in 2013 I have seen pushing other studies), then you can be sure it is all about the money.

4. Those Carb/Fat/Protein Percentages? All Wrong!

Of course, while that is what this article at competitor says, I would immediately counter by saying that they are simultaneously ‘all right’. What I mean is that based on how your body works, what your goals are and what your training looks like … your numbers will be different. Here is a quote:

“Percentages are meaningless, because it is the absolute amount of carbohydrate and protein that matters,” said Asker Jeukendrup, Ph.D., one of the world’s leading experts on the effects of different amounts of carbohydrate and protein intake on endurance performance. “How much you need depends on your goals and the amount of training you do.”

In other words, what matters is not the relative proportions of carbs, fat, and protein you eat, but the basic quantity measured as total calories or grams. And since macronutrient needs vary depending on training volume, there is no single macronutrient ratio that could possibly meet the needs of every athlete.

Translation: What works for me … works for me. As athletes, we all want to find what will keep us full and fueled and satisfied and aid our recovery as well as boosting our performance. Some look to performance enhancers or additives or other ‘secrets’, others follow ‘guaranteed to succeed’ methods and blame themselves if they fail, and others just fuel with whole foods and do what works for them. Does anyone believe that balancing to a 1% error will be the difference between success and failure in our next race? I hope not!

Here is the conclusion that is the REAL message “Getting the right balance of macronutrients requires a little math, but it beats using a one-size-fits-all formula that doesn’t really fit all.”

5. What if Everyone Ran?

OK, so I just talked about ‘science as marketing’ … but sometimes there is something so obviously non-scientific that you can just have fun with it. Amanda at Miss Zippy had a post this week that took her usual fun approach covered a recent survey from the running shoe company Mizuno (yes, I just set the money trail).

Mizuno estimates that 270 million Americans could be runners, and cite benefits to marriages, boosts in productivity and the economy, dog happiness … heck, it could probably improve the pothole situation those of us in winter weather spots are dealing with!

But one area they cover is health benefits:

Health/Medical Impact
$143 billion savings in health-care costs
200 million inches lost from American waistlines
48.1 million fewer cigarettes smoked daily
116,000 fewer hip replacements annually
Increased average life expectancy of 6.2 years in men and 5.6 years in women

Of course, the report is based on extrapolating all of the POSITIVE benefits without addressing mitigating negatives. They assume all sorts of things, and take only the good impacts.

Oh – and expect to see this everywhere the ‘research’ is cited:

“Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Mizuno.”

Am I saying that running is NOT good? Absolutely not … but PLEASE let’s not pretend that it is right for everyone, that everyone will deal with it the same way, or that it is somehow the cure for all of life’s ills.

Because while I think any sort of ‘get moving’ campaign is a great idea (and totally necessary in our obese, sedentary culture), pretending that this sort of fluff is ‘science’ or ‘research’ is insulting to the scientific community and to the running community and to the intelligence of anyone who they pretend it isn’t just marketing.

[UPDATE] I just wanted to be clear that my intention wasn’t to blast Amanda at Miss Zippy, whose blog I follow and really enjoy. In fact, when I quickly browsed her post I totally loved her ‘wouldn’t it be awesome if everyone could get the joy from running that we do?’ approach. My issue was with Mizuno – rather than taking that same fun approach, they talk about partnering with a university and conducting exhaustive statistical analysis. C’mon guys, running is awesome and you make cool shoes … can’t we just go with that?!? 🙂

6. Common Running Injuries

Am I lazy for using two info graphics today? Oh who cares!?! Here is one that talks about common running injuries, and the link takes you to a page with 12 (!) running infographics:


Bonus: Infographic on Choosing Running Shoes

And this one on choosing the right running shoes has loads of information, including some stuff on lacing I had never even thought about (yes I lace my shoes identically to when I was a little kid way back when):


Happy Saturday! Did you find any cool running links to share?