Proposed Changes to Nutrition Labels

The proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts label are a good step in the right direction. The proposed change of representing the actual nutritional values of the item per an typical serving and not an arbitraty “serving size” is what gets me excited — and worried. The vast majority of packaged foods use the deceptive tactic of showing the nutrition facts for a portion of the item. For example, a Gatorade bottle will show 130 calories per serving – except, there are 2.5 servings in every bottle. Most people assume the 130 calories is for the entire bottle, when in fact, it’s actually 390.

Will this help in the long run? I believe so. The ‘studies’ apparently show that people are paying more attention to food labels. Seeing 1500 calories on the side of a pint of ice cream might lead someone to reconsider their portion, or even the product altogether. The proposed change of including “added sugar” will also affect a person’s decision – the general population does not know what’s in their food. Seemingly healthy items such as “wheat bread” and ‘fruit juices’ typically have added corn syrups and sugars which are not naturally occurring.

My major concern is that these reforms won’t see the light of day. The food lobby is incredibly powerful – ask Oprah about the suit the beef industry brought against her (oh wait, she can’t because they gagged her in court). Marketing knows that people will be turned off by products that ‘quadrupled’ in calories overnight, so they stand to lose a lot of money. When the general population begins to understand how companies actually manipulate their food, they will look for alternative sources. I’m hopeful, but I’m not holding my breath.

You are not a warrior

=begin #rant

warrior: noun (esp. in former times) A brave or experienced soldier or fighter.

I’ve become partial towards people who proclaim themselves warriors in the gym or wear shirts claiming that they are. And the gyms that refer to their ‘athletes’ as some breed of warrior (Spartan, Gladiator, etc). Last time I checked, working out to exhaustion/puking does not qualify you as such. Running an ironman triathlon doesn’t qualify you either.

Having a weapon pointed at you, does.

Calling yourself a warrior trivializes those who really are – the military and law enforcement. If the only opponent you’ve ever had to face is yourself or a barbell, you don’t qualify for the title – sorry.

Think of it in mid-evil terms, imagine a squire calling himself a ‘warrior’ because he sweat half to death preparing everything for battle. The knights would simply laugh at him.

However, if you call yourself a warrior in jest, we’re cool.

=end #rant

Unrealistic Goals and Expectations

Last night I had the pleasure of helping someone test for their next rank at the dojo.  To my dismay, the person was extremely disappointed with himself for only being promoted one rank instead of two.

Are you kidding me?

I understand how it feels to fall short of a goal you’ve set for yourself – it’s depressing.  But setting yourself up for failure by creating unrealistic goals and expectations is asinine.  Studying a martial art takes skill, practice, dedication, and most important of all patience.  It’s an old addage that by the time you truly understand a martial art, you’re too old to practice it.

As I congratulated this person on their achievement, I reminded them that what they had done is not easy – if it were, then everyone would do it.

What I find interesting is how this mirrors what the software industry has learned over the years.  In my very short time as a developer I’ve come to understand why methodologies like agile have taken hold and become desirable.  It’s because you set an overall goal – which many or may not be realistic.  However, by setting smaller, definable, and achievable goals through units of code (if you will), we better realize if the overall goal is realistic – and adjust it to meet the requirements while maintaining a firm grasp on what you’ve already accomplished.

If this person whom I helped test had set the goal of obtaining one rank higher as opposed to two – he would have laid a better foundation in his skill and probably found a new technique to add to his common repertoire.  However, by attempting to do something that’s incredibly difficult and not very common – he cheated himself by spreading himself too  thin – achieving maybe only 50-70% efficiency in 20 techniques rather than 100% efficiency in 10.