The Feel Good Report
Stretch and Style
The problem with having an outmoded male as a health editor is that sometimes I whiff on the latest fashion. And when it comes to lululemon athletica, a yoga clothier, I’m about a decade late. I would’ve remained in the dark, too, had I not mentioned the eccentrically named athletic outfitter to a friend and received this reply via e-mail: “When you wear lululemon, you look thinner, no matter what. That’s worth A LOT of money. Plus, they’re like the first designer-esque workout clothes. I’ve never really wanted a workout brand before, but I do lululemon.” This month, lululemon relocates to its new showroom at Waterside Shops in Naples, where it will continue to be a hub of yoga activity, even offering free classes at 9 a.m. But it is the brand’s attire that has helped the company expand to more than 30 states in 12 years, such as its venerable Groove Pant ($98 to $108), designed with four-way stretch fibers for complete range of motion that loses nothing on the style side.
The Barefoot Effect
Anyone familiar with Kenyan runners and their triumphs in 17 of the last 20 Boston Marathons understands that barefoot running must have some attributes. In fact, a study reported in Science News suggests that running barefoot actually tempers the way a foot impacts the earth. Enter Vibram FiveFingers, a peculiarly designed shoe intended to offer people the benefits of a bare foot while offering a thin shell of protection. “Unlike conventional shoes that insulate you from your surroundings, FiveFingers footwear deepens your connection to the earth and your surroundings,” reads the company’s website. Plus, Vibram maintains, the shoe and its faux-barefoot structure is better for working out the 26 bones, 33 joints and 20 muscles located in your foot even when you’re just walking around. $75 to $85. www.vibramfivefingers.com.
During the past year, two different non-invasive, fat-erasing medical treatments have received the full attention of The
New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today by promising to eliminate your saggy spots with the wave of a wand. We were skeptical. Then both received Food and Drug Administration approval. Suddenly, both were in Southwest Florida and being offered by surgeons with actual medical degrees. After speaking to those physicians, we were even more optimistic. But we’re naïve pushovers. So rather than corrupt you with our buoyant gullibility, we’ve laid out each treatment side-by-side for a true bipartisan investigation:
Offered by: Dr. William Wittenborn, Wittenborn Plastic Surgery in Fort Myers
How it works: Two low-level laser beams circle the target area, opening the pores surrounding fat cells. The fat then slowly leaks into the bloodstream and is metabolized (turned into energy) by the body.
Good for: People with problem areas in their waist, hips and thighs
The best success: Some people have lost as much as six total inches from their frame.
Price: $1,700 for six treatments
The doctor says: “It’s not a substitution for diet or exercise. And it’s not as aggressive as lipo. But not everyone wants to undergo a surgical procedure. There’s no side effect from it.” —Dr. Wittenborn
The science says: Data from an American Society of Dermatologic Surgery meeting showed fat reduction up to 22 percent, and its clinical trial resulted in an average loss of 3.5 inches total, according to The Times.
Fun with fat removal: Zerona was originally sanctioned by the FDA for pain reduction during skin treatments.
Zeltiq (or CoolSculpting)
Offered by: Dr. Kent Hasen, Aesthetic Plastic Surgery of Naples
How it works: A vacuum cooling panel sucks up fat, and since fat cells are sensitive to cold, they slowly die.
Good for: People who need spot work
The best success: Cuts fat by 20–25 percent in treated area.
Price: $900 to $2,500 for stomach; $1,400 to $2,600 for love handles
The doctor says: “It takes a long time to see improvement, but there’s no pain, no anesthesia, no downtime. And it’s permanent reduction.” —Dr. Hasen
The science says: Dr. Brian Zelickson of the University of Minnesota Medical School found that cryolipolysis, or freezing fat, produced a one-centimeter reduction of fat after one exposure. Another study’s average fat loss was 22.4 percent four months after the procedure.
Fun with fat removal: In an effort to market Zeltiq, Dr. Jason Pozner of Boca Raton made a YouTube clip of himself, topless, having his love handles cooled while reading a book.
One night during my junior year of college, sick of pizza, Slim Jims, video games and my overall 2.0 grade point average, I sought salvation in a mile-long run along the street in front of my apartment complex. My thinking was that exercise could reinvent my life, leading me from the shadows of the fraternity house into the bright lights of the campus library. It was a lark, half-cooked idea, for sure, but plenty of after-school specials have harder-to-believe beginnings.
About 100 yards into my new life, I sensed the overhead lights of a raised pickup truck (I went to college in Texas) closing in behind me. The rumble of its engine sounded like the owner had removed its muffler. I inched as far away from the road as I could, fearing the worst, but I wasn’t hit. Instead, the passenger leaned from his window and, in a not-so- nice way, compared my running style to that of a little girl’s. I turned on my heel, went home and played video games. This opinion of my stride has since been repeated; once by my brother and another time by a girlfriend. I have not seriously run since then.
Such is my introduction to and fascination with a recent article published in The New York Times by John Schwartz. Schwartz, a reporter for the paper who had gained a few pounds while on assignments, fell into running while covering the aftermath in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. “I put on shorts, a T-shirt and sneakers, and tried to see if I could start running off the beignets and bread pudding that I had been enjoying too often,” he wrote. “I ended the 1.8-mile loop shaky and sweat-soaked. The next day I was so sore I could hardly walk. But I did, and I tried the track again.”
Since then, Schwartz has continued to run nearly every day. He didn’t change his life all too much, didn’t buy the newest running sneakers, didn’t chart his progress. He just woke up a few hours earlier each morning to run three to four miles. He’s still so slow that his athletic son, after less than a mile during a shared trek, said, “Dad, I’m going to peel off now, because I want to, you know, run.” He’s suffered, perhaps amicably, scorn and pressure to realign his goals for something loftier—like a marathon. Still, Schwartz says no. He just runs.
So what can we learn from Schwartz? What can I learn from an un-athletic runner who won’t quit no matter the derision he faces? “What I do know is that I have lost the weight and gotten off the blood pressure medication that I’d been on when I first started running,” Schwartz concludes. “At my checkup last year, my doctor said, ‘You’re the healthiest person I know.’”
In the quest to find foods unsullied by jet sprays of pesticides and piles of preservatives, attention is typically focused on plants and fruits. That’s all well and good, but replacing your broccoli and strawberries is a whole lot easier than doing so with your Little Debbie snack cakes.
But it’s not impossible, at least not in Southwest Florida. Chef Brooke’s Natural Café in Fort Myers boasts a dizzying array of sweets and baked goods sure to trick your taste buds into believing that Debbie’s still around. An 85 percent vegan bakery/restaurant, chef Brooke Wagenheim has traveled the globe—opening a restaurant in Tokyo and receiving training in Japanese, Thai and Italian cuisine—perfecting a menu of pastries, cakes and treats wholly prepared with organic fruits and vegetables.
“We consider ourselves as organic comfort food with healthy options,” Wagenheim says. What that means, basically, is that she can create whatever a person wants—be it macaroni and cheese or meatloaf, prepared for vegans or omnivores—using organic ingredients. “With our mac and cheese, I use lemon juice and herbs that are very reminiscent of cheese. To vegans, it’s delicious.”
It’s her sweets, however, that have many in Fort Myers hooked. Although Wagenheim says she is able to reproduce almost any type of cake (even a wedding cake) without using eggs, butter or milk, her bakery’s trademark sweet is the Faeriecake, a vegan-prepared cupcake. And the signature Faeriecake at Chef Brooke’s is the Cozmos, made of cranberries, pomegranate and goji beans, topped with beet juice-tinted frosting. “And no one can tell the difference,” Wagenheim says.
Here’s a quick list of restaurants around Southwest Florida with 100 percent organic menus:
Chef Brooke’s Natural Café
1850 Boy Scout Drive, Suite A106
(239) 332-CHEF (2433)
Food & Thought
2132 Tamiami Trail N., Naples
Back to Nature
1217 SE 47th Terrace, (239) 549-7667