Howdy partners. I hope everyone is having a thrilling Thursday! Thursdays have historically been for swimming and sharing a few things that I like with you, my gentle readers. Right now I am loving my neighbor’s rosebushes.
I am also loving this excellent editorial by Michele Obama, concerning the latest attempts to undermine America’s progress towards a healthy and sustainable food policy. The latest controversy concerns the WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program, which provides money for supplemental nutrition assistance to low income women during pregnancy and up to five years postpartum. WIC is a cool program because it specifically aims to provide mothers and children with healthful, high quality foods. There is a specific list of food that women receiving assistance may purchase; these items include: juice, milk, cereal, cheese, eggs, fruits and veggies, whole grains (like brown rice), whole grain bread or tortillas, beans, tofu, and peanut butter. The purpose of WIC is to make it easier for economically disadvantaged mothers to make healthy choices for themselves and their children. I think that this is a noble goal, and the latest effort to undermine the program has me extremely worried. Currently, there is a legislative push to define white potatoes as “vegetables” eligible for subsidies under WIC. What’s the problem with that? I certainly don’t hate potatoes…they’re high in potassium, vitamin C, and quality carbohydrates. There were whole-boiled potatoes available at the finish line of the Tacoma City Marathon for re-fueling purposes.
Potatoes prepared simply can certainly be a healthful choice as part of a balanced diet. The issues arise because of how potatoes are typically consumed by Americans. To paraphrase Sigmund Freud: “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but a potato usually is a french fry.”
This push for potatoes goes against the recommendations of scientific advisory panels. Ketchup isn’t a vegetable, pizza sauce isn’t a vegetable, and tater tots aren’t vegetables either. I am glad that the first lady has the courage to stand up for her convictions and continue to fight for proper nutrition for all Americans! Three cheers for Michelle Obama, and three cheers for fruits and veggies!
For the sweat portion of my Thursday, I opted for strength training instead of swimming. I strength train as part of my efforts to be a stronger and more balanced athlete overall (let’s be real here…I am never going to look like Hulk Hogan).
I’m still tweaking my strength training routine. I like the core exercises that I have been doing lately, but I recently listened to an interview with Dr. Greg Lehman, aka the body mechanic, recommending that runners incorporate squats, dead-lifts, and bench-press into their strength-training routines. These compound exercises recruit major and minor muscles from all over the body, which helps runners be more efficient and correct any major imbalances that can lead to injury. I did my typical core workout, then I managed to struggle through 3 sets of 8 reps with 45 pound plates on the bar. Those three sets were TOUGH. I’m looking forward to keeping with the strength training to see how I progress.
So I CHEERED for sensible food policy, SWEAT while I was pumping the iron this morning…where does the blood come in? Today my blood cells contributed to research on Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic human pathogen commonly found in the lungs of Cystic Fibrosis patients. A group in our department is studying how effectively human serum is able to neutralize Pseudomonas while it is grown in a biofilm. They are also interested in what happens to neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) when they are challenged with Pseudomonas. An MD-PhD from this group needed blood samples, and I happened to have fifteen minutes to kill while I was waiting for my Bacillus cultures to grow. Advancing science is my life’s work both through my research and public outreach; now my cells might help advance someone else research! I think that’s awesome!
It’s also awesome that I was paid $20 for participating in the study. Scientific passion will take you pretty far, but it won’t buy you a drink once you get there.
I even got a souvenir picture of my own blood cells! It turns out my blood cells are NOT made entirely out of oatmeal, nor do they have teeny-tiny mustaches. I am as surprised by this finding as you are!
Thanks for reading!
Do you remember the “ketchup as vegetable thing?” Apparently pizza sauce is a vegetable too…
Have you ever donated blood?