Saturday, August 04, 2007


I have always known the importance of seasons. How can you appreciate the beauty and tranquility of a still summer day when you haven't endured the brittleness of winter? Yesterday, I sat on the beach and read Jen Lancaster's newest memoir, Bright Lights, Big Ass. This woman has a great voice for humor and the ability to find her own take on every detail of ordinary life. I drank a strawberry smoothie and just appreciated the stillness of the moment and the solidity of my space. I watched the children jumping in and out of the pool; dripping, tanned and energetic, as every child seems to share this same presence, especially in summer. This fluidity reminded me of my own childhood summer days. When I saw an old friend across the pool, I found myself giddy to talk to her. M and I had spent countless summer days diving beneath this very pool and riding the surf in the ocean. Our hair always tangled and salty and stiff from the torment. How wonderful it was to sit with her and feel as though we were right back where we left off? We could have been eight years old again, the conversations are different but the feelings and the emotions are the same. Her mother stopped by and I felt I should be asking for permission for a sleepover. I love how time changes everything and nothing. And here I am, 28 years old, jumping in the pool with a best friend.

Last night I took my dog, Gracie, for a walk. My new goal is to train her, to at least teach her to sit and stay. The air was marvellous and their was a slight breeze that cooled down the heat of the day. I thought about how wonderful it must be to have a screened in porch. If I had one, I would sit out there every night. I would drag a television, a table, my books out into my tiny outdoor world and I would live in it from the first warm night until the first winter chill. How wonderful it must be to experience the natural world without the peskiness of mosquitos and other bugs.

I think I need another sweet drink, a good book and some more time to experience this beautiful summer weather.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Are Your Friends Making You Fat?

A recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that people were most likely to become obese if a friend has become obese. The study is upsetting many people in that it gives the idea that a person's weight will be dictated by the weight of their friends. Should we only have skinny friends? Is this just another way obese people will be discriminated against?

Having friends of all shapes and sizes is healthy, natural and should be encouraged. Each year millions of Americans are diagnosed with depression. Many seek out the assistance of antidepressant medication, but it is becoming increasingly common for people to look for non-pharmacologic help for fighting depression. Recent studies have found that exercising in groups in may be the most effective aid in fighting depression. This should be seen as an antidote to the possibly destructive side-effect of New England Journal of Medicine study.

Researcher James Blumenthal of Duke University completed a study that found that exercise, when performed in a group setting, seems to be as effective as standard antidepressant medications in reducing symptoms in patients with major depression. His study found that 10 months of regular, moderate exercise reduced depressive symptoms at a rate equal to that of medication. Exercise combined with contact with others -- friends, family, clubs and group activities -- can boost mood and help ease depression.

Dr. Nadia Marsh, an expert in treating depression and chief of the division of geriatrics at Cabrini Medical Center, in New York City said that people who exercise tend to feel that they have more control over their life. Because helplessness is a key ingredient in depression, anything that allows a person to regain a sense of control and balance can help alleviate the feelings of depression.

There are unlimited benefits of exercise, particularly in a group setting, in fighting depression. I think that people should focus on fighting obesity WITH their friends. As the saying goes, the more the merrier. Can't this be true in fighting the battle of the bulge as well?