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Environmental Racism March 30, 2009

Filed under: Environmental Wellness — aprasek @ 12:59 pm

Environmental Racism


Many of us throw our garbage away and never see it again. We buy toxic products and use up an excess of electricity and oil– yet we never see where all of these luxuries are made or refined. Out of sight, out of mind.

Unfortunately, what’s out of sight for many is very visible– and toxic– for others. These individuals are left to live next to this garbage, breathe in the toxic smoke from the factories and splash and play in waters polluted by the chemical company half a mile upstream. This is environmental racism.


We often speak about leaving a cleaner planet for our grandchildren, but in a disproportionate number of low-income communities of color this dream has already disappeared. Pollution doesn’t respect our boundaries or our timetables. In the predominantly Latino working class communities dotting the Southern Los Angeles coastline, citizens are facing overwhelming amounts of pollution from power plants, refineries, industrial waste facilities, and the intersection of five major freeways. Never mind the environmental legacy that we leave for future generations, kids can’t breathe today.

The above quote is from “The Good Fight”, an awesome web series from the Sundance Channel. The non-profit organization, Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), is highlighted in the most recent series. CBE is working to improve public health and achieve environmental justice in California. The worst of the environmental racism is happening in Los Angeles. But, look around your community and state- you’ll see that this is happening everywhere.

Take some time (only 7 minutes total) to watch the “Toxic Tour” videos (find them on the left of the page). The Bill Gallegos interview is also very good.


Create a healthy week 🙂



VeganChef.com March 25, 2009

Filed under: Nutritional Wellness — aprasek @ 10:55 pm

I’m really digging this website:  VeganChef.com

The site has lots of great recipes- everything from appetizers to desserts. All the recipes are vegan and many are wheat-free, low-fat and free of refined sugars. Most importantly, they’re yummy too! I’ve tried many of the recipes and all of them have turned out great.

Happy cookin!


Dangerous Personal Trainers March 24, 2009

Filed under: Physical Wellness — aprasek @ 11:03 pm

Dangerous Personal Trainers

Yikes. I’ll be honest, the personal training industry is pretty messed up. I wrote an earlier post about this and suggested a few things to consider before hiring a personal trainer. 

Unfortunately, this topic is not discussed enough. I know this because, whenever I go to the gym, I literally cringe when I see some of the exercises trainers are instructing their clients to do. So, I must applaud Women’s Health Mag for a rare and quality article on the topic (btw, the article is applicable to men as well). 

Some key points from the article:

Outside, she stepped off the curb and her knees buckled for the second time. If it’s this bad now, she wondered, how would she feel tomorrow? After a night of painful tossing and turning, she doped up on Aleve, put analgesic patches on her legs, and lay in bed most of the weekend. On Monday, two days after her workout, Miguez baby-stepped around the office. “I couldn’t even sit,” she says. Later that morning, she gingerly lowered herself onto the toilet–only to stand up and see that her urine was the color of Dr Pepper.

Read the full article for Miguez’s nightmare training story. Know that her story is rare though- this isn’t something that usually happens after a training session. However, it does speak to the potential injuries from training (read earlier post on ways to prevent this) and it also brings up a sales technique that absolutely infuriates me- more commonly known as the “orientation” session.

Let me give you some insider info about the “orientation” session… 

I had just been hired as a trainer at a popular big-box gym. I sat down with my training supervisor for a talk about my new position. I was eager for the discussion; I hoped he would share with me some wisdom on how to increase client motivation or maybe a few tips on form or spotting. I had my pen in hand and was ready to take notes.

He started the conversation, “Let me tell you about the orientation…”   

Basically, as a trainer, it was my job to use the orientation as an emotional and physical assault- “for their own good” as my supervisor said. The exercises should be as difficult and complex as possible. The goal is to make the individual feel weak, out of shape and uncoordinated. I should tell them these exercises are not that difficult (even if I can’t do them) and are essential if they wish to reach their goals. Hopefully, if I am successful, the individual will leave the orientation feeling dreadfully depressed, grossly overweight and totally helpless. In our post-orientation discussion, I will hope that my attack on their muscles and emotions will leave the individual vulnerable enough to drop $2,500 to work out with me twice per week for three months.

I’m not exaggerating. This is an accurate summary of what I was told that day. I then “shadowed” my supervisor on an orientation with an older couple. They were in their mid 70’s. I literally thought the husband was going to have a heart attack while my supervisor worked them out. 

Well, I just can’t keep my mouth shut. So, after our session, I told my supervisor what I thought of the “orientation” session, his philosophy and a company that supports this kind of crap. Needless to say, that was my last day of work for that gym. 

Moral of the story:  Unfortunately, the orientation is just a sales tool. If you do use an orientation session, listen to your body and don’t let the trainer push you too hard. Also, this is a good time to ask basic questions on the form for particular exercises. If the trainer is any good, they will be able to answer these questions clearly.  

Which raises the main issue that the Women’s Health article discussed:      

Trainers don’t need to meet any federal or state requirements. Even the woman who waxes your upper lip may have had more training–and she is certainly subject to more legal oversight–than the one who pushes your cardiovascular, muscular, and nervous systems; jacks up your heart rate and blood pressure; and strains your joints and ligaments. “Others who hold themselves out to be experts need to be licensed,” says Mark B. Bullman, an Atlanta lawyer, “yet somebody who wields heavy weights and guides your personal health needs nothing.” No college degree. No professional certification. Nada.


Yup. It’s true. You don’t need to know anything special to be called a “trainer”.

This is important info for anyone considering working with a trainer. If you have any questions about the industry, comment here or feel free to send me an email.  🙂


Green “Dry” Cleaning March 23, 2009

Filed under: Environmental Wellness — aprasek @ 11:12 pm

Information we should all be aware of:


Are Your Clothes Full of Perc?


According to the Occidental College’s Pollution Prevention Center, 85 percent of the more than 35,000 dry cleaners in the United States use perchloroethylene (or perc, for short) as a solvent in the dry cleaning process.


Perc is a synthetic, volatile organic compound (VOC) that poses a health risk to humans and a threat to the environment. Minimal contact with perc can cause dizziness, headaches, drowsiness, nausea, and skin and respiratory irritation. Prolonged perc exposure has been linked to liver and kidney damage, and cancer. Perc has been identified as a “probable” human carcinogen by California’s Proposition 65.


Perc can enter the body through drinking water contamination, dermal exposure, or most frequently, inhalation. This is not only a health hazard and environmental justice issue for workers in the dry cleaning business, but for consumers who bring home clothes laden with perc. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that clothes dry cleaned with perc can elevate levels of the toxin throughout a home and especially in the room where the garments are stored. Nursing mothers exposed to perc may excrete it in their milk, placing their infants at risk.


Click here to read the full article and learn how you can clean up your dry cleaning.



Random Thoughts: Acai, Seroquel & Prozatene March 21, 2009

Filed under: Nutritional Wellness,Pharma — aprasek @ 3:33 pm

Acai Berries

Is the secret to weight loss hidden in the acai berry?

We’ve discussed this here before. The answer is still “No.” Here’s a short and entertaining article about the acai berry.


Who’s in bed with Big Pharma today?

It looks like a University of Minnesota psychiatrist, Dr. S. Charles Schulz, has jumped into the Big Pharma bed. Back in 2000, Schulz made some exaggeraged claims for AstraZenaca’s mood-stabilizing drug, Seroquel. As a paid consultant for AstraZeneca, claims like that would likely mean a little extra cash in Schulz’s  pocket. Read the Star Tribune story here.

Whatever the details may be for this particular “misunderstanding” (as Dr. Shulz has termed it), this is just more evidence that Big Pharma (and our current healthcare system) has a lot of ethical issues to clean up.     


Speaking of…


Days With My Father March 19, 2009

Filed under: Physical Wellness,Spiritual Wellness — aprasek @ 12:02 pm

 I just watched this and had to share…

Phillip Toledano has created a beautiful photo essay about his relationship with his 98 year old father. It’s an amazing story about life, death, the struggle of losing memory, love and so much more. Grab a tissue and check it out…


Is the PSA Test Worth It?

Filed under: Physical Wellness — aprasek @ 10:53 am

We’ve talked about this before on Wellness Gossip… Obviously, this is a really controversial topic. The PSA test (a blood test that can indicate the presence of prostate cancer), is believed by some as the early diagnosis that saved their life. But, what is the research telling us? The New York Times had a very interesting article on two new studies looking at the effectiveness of the PSA test:

The studies – one in Europe and the other in the United States – are “some of the most important studies in the history of men’s health,” said Dr. Otis Brawley, the chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.


In the European study, 48 men were told they had prostate cancer and needlessly treated for it for every man whose death was prevented within a decade after having had a PSA test.


Dr. Peter B. Bach, a physician and epidemiologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, says one way to think of the data is to suppose he has a PSA test today. It leads to a biopsy that reveals he has prostate cancer, and he is treated for it. There is a one in 50 chance that, in 2019 or later, he will be spared death from a cancer that would otherwise have killed him. And there is a 49 in 50 chance that he will have been treated unnecessarily for a cancer that was never a threat to his life.


Read the rest of the NYT story here.

 What do you think? In what conditions (if ever) is a PSA test worth it?