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Daily Archives: August 9, 2012

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The Soda Rant – Part Deux

I decided to email eMed Expert and ask them about the nature of some omissions and errors in the article that I wrote about earlier:

I recently read your article entitled 8 Reasons People Drink Soda and while informative, you played pretty loose with the facts.  For one, in item 4, nobody chooses pop in lieu of water because of marketing.  The marketing is used to get people to switch or remain with the same brand and we all know this.  Anyone who would drink a Coke because they liked a commercial has bigger problems than actually drinking soda.  The old “it’s those evil corporations and their marketing that are to blame” canard is, put simply, stupid and says more about those who use it than the poor idiots who (if at all even possible) succumb to it.

Also, in your reasons to avoid sodas, number 12 is dehydration.  This is where you’re getting loose with facts.  Studies show a whole 3-4% difference when caffeinated drinks are compared with water.  To label caffeine a diuretic based on a few percentage points seems obtuse.

In addition, you do list quite a few side effects that could possibly be related to drinking soda… Even when I was drinking four to five two liters a week I never experienced one (that’s over a period of decades by the way) – and that was in addition to a half a pot of coffee every day.  You might want to lay off of the “caffeine is bad for you” argument, because there are a lot of positive benefits in caffeine as well – or at least when it’s found in coffee.  The point, not to muddy the waters, is that people really do pay attention to silly things like what you’ve written – you’re literally creating a bunch of ignoramuses by only giving half of the story on caffeine.

Then in item 15, you wrote:  “A new health scare erupted over soft drinks recently amid evidence that they may cause serious cell damage. Research from a British university suggests a common preservative E211, known as sodium benzoate, found in drinks such as Fanta and Pepsi Max has the ability to switch off vital parts of DNA.” Now I can smell a lot of BS emanating from what you’ve written.  New Health Scare = Something ignorant bigots indulge in.  “amid evidence” = unusually little evidence.  “Research from a British university” = so the university is either a quack factory or the evidence is so flimsy that you don’t want to name the university for fear it comes back on you.  My translation actually holds water, as much of the article has the pertinent backup referenced, but not this one.  Then for the last “linking”statement:  “Sodium benzoate occurs in small amounts naturally in berries, but is used in large quantities to prevent mould in soft drinks.”   Well, at least you were decent enough to mention that it was found naturally in berries, but in regards to those “large quantities”, are the quantities large because the manufacturer is making a 500 gallon vat of soda?  Then all of a sudden, when you consider how much makes it into one bottle of soda it’s the equivalent of what’s naturally in a single strawberry?  That’s usually how the math works on shifty things like this – OR when the “British university” conducted the study, they forced the results by using an insanely high amount of the chemical in question, much the same way the MSG health scare reached fever pitch.

Finally, in your healthy alternatives you list fruit juice.  It’s been reported for some time that fruit juice is just as bad as soda on the sugar front – and most of your reasons to quit have to do with sugar, not caffeine or chemicals.  Or is that science bad too?

What gives?

I write a fitness blog here:
Thank you,
AKA Big Daddy Jim.
I’ll let you know if they respond with a post.  Maybe I get taken to school, maybe not.  I half expect to get an email from an attorney.

It’s All In The Long Mileage…And The Mountains

How I Beat The Cycling Plateau

A month or two ago I was opining that I’d hit a bit of a plateau.  I was stuck at about a 20 mph average on my better days and I didn’t like it.  Don’t get me wrong, 20 is respectable, but it just didn’t sit well with me that I was stuck.

To get a handle on my little dilemma, if it can be called that, I went to the only source that I really trust, the owner of my local bike shop.  I’ve written about Matt several times and to call him a guru or pro is to do him a disservice.  He knows what’s up, and then some.  Not only has he built bike frames that have been ridden to world records, he rides like it’s going out of style.

I explained to Matt where I was at, 20 mph average and I couldn’t do much better (maybe 20.5 if I timed the lights right).  He asked how far I generally ride and I explained; 16 miles on a normal day, 25 once a week, 30-35 on Saturday and 16-25 on Sunday – at least six days a week, often seven (oh, and the club ride – 35-39 miles every other Tuesday).

Without hesitation he recommended longer rides (I’m sure he’d have recommended mountain climbs as well, but as I’ve said, there are no hills on the Lennon Ride so I’ll get to that in a minute).  He also said that overall speed wasn’t as important as simply getting the time in the saddle.  Matt understands that I try to over-achieve almost every time out, so there was an unspoken understanding that while I didn’t have to push it to the limit on every mile, I certainly wouldn’t be dogging it at 15 mph either.  I took his advice.

After that I bumped up my normal daily rides to 25 miles and my Saturday rides up to 40-50 miles I did notice a bit of a difference, though it was small – certainly not big enough to justify all of the extra time.  It wasn’t until I started hitting the really long rides that the benefits started coming in – and quickly.  Just ten days after my Fourth of July I’d gone from an average of 20 mph over 20 miles to 22 mph.  Before that 90 mile’r I couldn’t have maintained 22 for 16 miles let alone 20.

Part of it was mental; hey, I just rode 80 miles at 19 mph, what’s 30?  There was a physical change that went with it though.  I was absolutely capable of putting more power to the pedals.

Jump ahead a week from there, I headed down to vacation in the mountains of Georgia and North Carolina where I rode almost every day, climbing hills and mountain roads. Now that was obviously slow work, but it’s hard.  I was down to 7-10 mph on some of the steeper climbs (8-12%).  Now, the rides down south were shorter than normal, an hour for the few days in Georgia and 2 hours a day in North Carolina where a hill that took 35 minutes to climb would take less than 6 or 7 to descend – (that’s right, three and a half miles in 6-7 minutes).  I rarely pedaled on the descents, at 45 mph why bother, but the climbs, even at 7 mph, were some serious hard work – and that paid off huge dividends when I came back.

So, the trick for me to getting unstuck from a plateau, at least this one, was adding a really long ride in there every couple of weeks (or so) – and making sure to take my bike with me on vacation (though I don’t see that ever being a question again after this one).

Why I Drink Soda

This is going to be an interesting rant before long… Enjoy (or not).

I’ve downed some sodas in my day. In my early teens I’d get together with my buddies and we would drink a box of Mountain Dew each (I think they were eight packs but I can’t remember for sure – glass bottles!) just to get the rush. When Jolt Cola came out, we switched to that. We were active enough that we were all skinny as rails.

Fast-forward to just last year, I was still drinking four or five 2-Liter bottles of Coke a week when I decided to kick the pop so I could Tri better. I still partake in a Coke from time to time and I’m a sucker for Sierra Mist or 7-Up on pizza Wednesday, the only regular day of the week that we have soda in the house.

I don’t feel any different now that I’ve kicked it, no better, no worse. I am 9 pounds lighter, and that makes all the difference in the world, especially on the hills – and that’s why I quit. Being 6′ tall, the difference between 155 and 165 didn’t make me fat, but I had a little gut and that’s all but gone. History time is done, now to the rant.

I love fitties – I’m surrounded by them. I’m talking about the vegetarians, pescatarians, chickenetarians and all other form of ‘etarians’ there happen to be. One thing they all have in common is their unhinged, rigid disdain for soda. They’ll eat sh!t that would make a starving dog turn up its nose and claim they love the way they “feel” for doing it, but go for a Coke and all of a sudden we have to enter into a long freaking discussion about how they gave up things that taste good long ago because they’re bad for you. I’m OK with this – there’s no law against being a terse, closed minded stick in the mud, at least not in America (not yet).

Now here’s where this gets fun. I read a linked article the other day on the 8 reasons people drink soda. One of the reasons happens to be my favorite. I’ll quote it so I don’t miss anything: “Promotion and Advertising”

“Soft drinks are heavily consumed in part because companies promote them vigorously – Billions of dollars are spend on advertising sodas – and market them everywhere – in stores, restaurants, gas stations, museums, and even schools.”

First of all, billions? I wonder if someone may be playing loose with the facts there – that’s a lot of cheese folks.

More importantly, the marketing angle is the most weak-kneed, ignorant and flat-out stupid talking point ever devised by a bunch of lilly-livered sissies I’ve ever heard or read. It’s flat out repugnant. Think about that for a second… Are you a big enough wuss to drink a pop because a polar bear cracks one open on an iceberg? Of course not, give me a freaking break. The advertising is there to draw a person to a particular brand, not some insidious ploy to lure blooming idiots to drink pop in lieu of water. Crime in Italy, Chuck! If there was ever a better example of the stupidity possible with group think, I can’t imagine. But there it is, people lap that crap up and then spit it back out as if it were Gospel. It boggles the mind.

Now, the rant’s done, the comments section is below… Just remember, if you actually use the marketing line, that says more about you than the commercial… Or me.

The truth is, one Coke or Pepsi a week never hurt anyone, neither did two… But 20 will rot your teeth and help you to a new, chubbier lifestyle, eventually… But that’s not what Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, RC Cola or any of the other sodas advertise. That’s what we choose because we can, at least for now.