Why is the sky blue? – Explained with a simple animation

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Have you ever wondered why is the sky blue? This article will explain why the sky is blue with the aid of a simple animation. If you look at the sky from the ground on a clear day, the sun will appear to be yellow and the sky around the sun will appear to be blue. The blue sky also gets paler as you get nearer to the horizon. If you were on the surface of the moon, the sun would appear to be pure white and the space around, black. Why is this?

The difference between the Earth and the Moon is that the Earth has an atmosphere. The effect that the air has on the appearance of the sun and sky can be attributed to a phenomenon called Rayleigh Scattering, where the extent of scattering of light is greater for light with a shorter wavelength.

Visible sunlight is made up of a mixture of colours, all the colours that can be seen in a rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet and indigo). When all these colours are mixed together we get pure white light. This is the sunlight that we would see if we were in space or on the Moon.

Light travels as a wave. Each colour has a different wavelength with red having the longest wavelength and indigo having the shortest. When the light passes through the atmosphere, the air scatters some of the sunlight. The shorter the wavelength, the more the light is scattered. This means that indigo, violet, blue and green are scattered more than red, orange and yellow. When the direct sunlight hits the ground, enough of the shorter wavelength colours have been filtered out by the scattering effect to change the apparent colour of the sun from pure white to yellow.

This accounts for why the sun appears to be yellow. But why is the sky blue?

The colours that were scattered by the air molecules will be radiated out in all directions with the same colours. In effect, the whole sky will glow with a mixture of the same colours that were scattered, i.e. more of the shorter wavelength light (indigo, violet, blue and green). Sky blue is actually a mixture of these short wavelength colours rather than a pure blue.

This explains why the sky is blue, but why does the sky get paler as you approach the horizon?

The sky blue light that travels to your eye from the horizon has to travel though much more air than that directly above you. As the sky blue light passes through this extra air it will in turn get scattered again resulting in less of the blue light reaching your eyes, making the light appear a paler colour.

On the next page, discover why the Sun looks red at sunset.

Online Body Fat Percentage Calculator

Use this online body fat calculator to workout out your body’s total percentage of fat.

MaleFemale

Inches cm
Height:
Neck:
Waist:



The formulas used for calculating body fat percentage are based on the US Army, Navy and Marine Corp standards for determining personnel fitness. The US Department of Defense use the test for recruitment, promotion and as part of an annual fitness check.

Instruction for taking measurements for the Body Fat Calculator

  • Take the neck measurement just below the adam’s apple
  • For men, take the waist measurement at the level of the belly button at the end of a normal relaxed exhalation.
  • For women, measure the waist at the slimmest point, usually somewhere above the belly button. Take at the end of a normal relaxed exhalation.
  • Women only – take the hip measurement at the point of the greatest circumference.

You can enter your measurements in imperial (inches), metric (cms) or a combination of both. The Body Fat Calculator will automatically convert between inches and cm.

Is the body fat measurement percentage accurate?

Body circumference measurement is not as accurate as other more involved methods such as hydrostatic weighing, where your weight is measured while your body is fully submerged in a tank of water. As you can imagine, hydrostatic weighing is very inconvenient and expensive compared to just using circumference measurements.

However, if you want to monitor physique and physical fitness improvements following changes to your life style (see How to be a Slim Person – Why Diets Don’t Work), the body fat calculator is a great indicator of your progress, better than measuring your weight. The US military consider that weight loss is less important than reducing your body fat.

What should your body fat percentage be?

Above 25% for men and 32% for women is considered obese. Athletes tend to have a range of 6 – 13% for men and 14 – 20% for women.

References


How to be a Slim Person – Why Diets Don’t Work
US Department of Defense – Physical Fitness and Body Fat Program – Directive
US Department of Defense – Physical Fitness and Body Fat Program – Instructions
Wikipedia – Body fat percentage

Top Ten Games to Play in the Car With Your Kids

Every parent on a long car trip with their kids has had the incessant “are we nearly there yet?” question thrown at them, or in the case of my youngest; “How many more minutes is it?”, usually asked shortly after we’ve set off. When your children are beyond toddlerdom, the usual car games for kids like “I Spy” and “Count the Cows” just will not do. Here’s a list of six games to play in the car that will keep everyone, including the adults, amused for hours on end.

  1. Once upon a time…
    Start off with an opener like “Once upon a time there was a princess call Smelly Toes” Each person then takes it in turns to make up the next sentence in the story. The more off the wall the better. This is a great car game to play for developing your kids’ imagination.

  2. XXX’s Got Talent Game
    Insert your country or family name above. This is a car version of the popular TV Franchise. The game is best if there are at least four people in the car. Here’s what you do: Firstly, decide who the three judges will be and who will be the first contestant. Each judge should pretend to be a person from the actual show. The contestant then performs an act of their choosing, such as singing, animal noises, playing a tune through your nose, etc. A judge can buzz off a particularly bad act before it has finished! At the end of the act, each judge gives their opinion using the persona of the judge in the show, and decides whether the contestant will go through to the final. After each go, switch the judges and contestant round until every one has performed. The best part of this game is the judging!

  3. I went to the Shops and bought a…
    To start off the game, the first person must think of an object beginning with the letter ‘A’, for example. avocado, and then say “I went to the shops and bought an avocado”. The next person has to think up an object beginning with ‘B’, e.g. blueberry pie and say “I went to the shops and bought an avacado and a blueberry pie”. This carries on until you get to ‘Z’! You can vary the game by substituting a Zoo for the Shop etc.

  4. Make up a Song Contest
    Half of the car are the singers and the other half are the judges. One of the judges decides the topic of the song that the contestants are going to sing, for example, ‘The Beach’. The contestants take it in turns to make up a song about that topic and then each judge gives their comments on the song and gives a vote of 1 to 10 points. The judges and contestants then swap round and the winner of each round goes through to the final.

  5. Hangman
    Like the paper version of the game, Player One thinks of a word and the others take it in turns to guess a letter or the actual word. Player one will say whether or not the letter is in the word and if so, the position(s) of the letter. If you get to ten (or fifteen depending on the age of the kids) incorrect guesses for the letter/word, Player One wins. The winner of the game then takes the lead.

  6. The Bad Answer Game
    Player One thinks of an object, place or person. The others take it in turns to guess what it is. At the start of each turn, Player One has to give a clue that must be correct, but should be as bad, vague or silly as possible so that it is hard to guess. For example a clue for “Chocolate” might be “Auntie Jo likes it”. If no one guesses it after twenty answers, Player One wins; otherwise, it goes to the person that guessed correctly.

  7. Twenty Questions

    The classic game where one person thinks of something that is animal, vegetable or mineral and the others take it in turns to ask a question or guess the answer.

  8. The Yes/No Game

    Take it in turns to have one person asking questions and one answering. The person answering the questions has to reply without saying yes or no. The fun is trying to trick them into saying yes or no.

  9. Radio Phone-in Game

    One person thinks of a topic for example, “Should twelve year olds be allowed to stay up until whenever they like?” and the others take it in turns to phone in to give their reasons why they should or shouldn’t.

  10. Guess the Accent

    Each person takes it in turns to put on a foreign accent and the others have to guess which country they are from.

How to Fix Intermittent Dimming of Headlights on a Toyota Avalon

I have a 2001 Toyota Avalon and for over a year I had a very annoying intermittent electrical problem. Most of the time the car was OK, but occasionally when driving at night, the headlights would dim out for a second. In the day or at night the radio would cut out momentarily with the dashboard display blanking out; also, the interior clock back light would switch off. The problem seemed to be worse when braking or when putting the foot on the accelerator. When the car electrics were about to misbehave, there was usually a whining noise from the engine bay.

Sometimes the problem would go away for several weeks and at other times the cut outs would occurs every thirty seconds. Of course, the Law of Sod dictated that whenever I took the car to the garage it would work perfectly.

I went to a so called car electrical specialist. He said that it was very difficult to fix a problem if he couldn’t see it, but in his opinion the alternator needed replacing. To me, this seemed like the most plausible explanation; after all, the whining sound that accompanied the cut-outs seemed to indicate an alternator problem. Ka-ching, a couple of hundred bucks was handed over for the fitting of a reconditioned alternator. This seemed to work for a few weeks, then the problem came back. I took the car back to the specialist; he then suggested trying to changing the battery (ka-ching) to see if that fixes it.

The guy obviously didn’t have a clue what he was doing. So I decided to investigate the problem myself. After a search on the internet I discovered that this was an all too common issue. Some people had spent thousands of dollars replacing alternators, regulators and batteries all to no avail. However, there did not seem to be a definite solution.

Cause of the Intermittent Electrical Failure

On further reading, it seemed that a possible cause for this problem could be bad earthing. Earth cables carry electrical current back to the negative terminal of the car battery. If you look in the engine bay of your car, you will see a number of earthing cables connecting various components to the chassis and the battery. Good earthing is important because a car’s electrical system needs to be able to deal with very high currents.

Poor earthing is caused by a dirty contact or fraying of a cable, which increases the resistance of the electrical path back to the battery. The voltage across it will rise in proportion to the current multiplied by the resistance of the path (Ohms law). This voltage drop is what cause the headlights to dim since the more voltage that is dropped across the earth connection, the less voltage is available to power the headlights and other car components.

Ohms Law:

I.R = V

The two main components that generate and use large amounts of current are the alternator and starter motor. The starter motor only drains current when you are turning over the engine with the ignition key, so this is unlikely to be causing the issue. The current generated by the alternator varies with the engine revs. As the power failure seemed to tie in with revving the engine, it was likely the earthing of the alternator was causing the trouble.

How to Diagnose Earthing Cable Problems in Your Car

OK, we think the problem is earthing. Like me, you may have already parted with some hard earn cash and are reluctant to go around replacing all the earth cables in the car in the hope that this may fix it. What you really want to do is:-

a) Absolutely prove that earthing is the issue.

b) Work out which cable or cables in the car are causing the earthing problem.

The problem can be easily diagnosed in less than three minutes be using a simple voltmeter that can be bought from any DIY store for $10.

You will need to check the car when it is failing. I would suggest carrying the voltmeter in the car with you on journeys so that you can stop the car when it is being troublesome and test the electrics. Fortunately for me, the car started failing regularly one time when I got home.

Make sure that you have a partner or friend that can tap the accelerator to make the electrics fail.

Switch the headlights on and pop open the hood.

The first thing to do is to check that the battery is OK. A standard car battery gives out about 12 to 13 Volts, so set the range on the voltmeter to measure more than this. Put the negative black wire of the voltmeter on the negative terminal of the battery, better still, connect it to the negative battery terminal with a crocodile clip so you don’t have to hold it on. Put the positive red wire of the voltmeter on the positive terminal of the battery. You should see a fairly steady 12 Volts on the meter. Get your partner to rev the engine to make the electrics fail. On my car, the battery voltage was rock steady even when the headlights dimmed right down. This proved that there was nothing wrong with the battery. Two fingers up to the electrical expert who wanted to replace the battery (maybe just one finger in your culture).

The next thing to do is to prove that there is actually an earthing problem. If all points in the engine bay are properly grounded, current will flow back to battery without raising the voltage between the earthed point and the negative battery terminal by more than a fraction of a volt (about 0.2 volts). If there is poor earthing, then the increase in the current flowing back to the battery will cause the voltage to rise by over a volt.

Keep the black wire of the meter on the car battery terminal. Put the red wire of the meter on the metal casing of the alternator and get your friend to rev the engine. On my car, the voltage measured on the meter popped up to 3 volts. This proved that earthing was the problem.

I noticed that there was a black earth wire bolted to the body of the engine adjacent to where the battery was located (see picture). I measured the voltage drop on this wire to the battery. Again the voltage drop went up to 3 volts when the accelerator was pressed.

Faulty Avalon Grounding Cable

Faulty Avalon Grounding Cable

This wire went under the battery and connected to a junction point with another wire going from the junction point directly to the battery. Therefore we had a short, direct, all copper connection back to battery. There is no way that there should be 3 volts across this connection. The problem had to here.

How to fix the Car Earthing Connection

I unbolted the cables, cleaned the contacts for each wire using steel wool and reassembled. Unfortunately, this did not work, the electric started cutting out again within the week. There had to be a problem inside one of the cables.

I replaced both the cables with nice thick battery lead cables from the local auto store (see picture). The original ones seemed a bit thin to me considering how much current they needed to carry.

Fixed Avalon Grounding Cables

Fixed Avalon Grounding Cables


This fixed the issue permanently, six months on the car has never had any re-occurrences of the cut out.

Happy motoring.

How to be a Slim Person – Action Plan for How to Get Slim

In Part 1 – How to be a Slim Person – Why Diets Don’t Work, we discussed why going on a diet does not help you lose weight in the long term and in Part 2 – How to be a Slim Person – Fat and Thin Habits, how real slim people are different from overweight people in what they eat, their behaviour and in the way they think. This is all well and good, but how do you get slim? In this section we will present a pain, stress and sacrifice-free action plan for becoming a slim person that can be personally tailored to you. If you follow the plan you will become slim, and more importantly stay slim for the rest of your life.

Before continuing, I must warn you that if you are looking to lose 50lb for your high school reunion in two months, you won’t get there by following this action plan. However, if you are looking to lose weight properly, for the long term then read on.

Becoming a slim person will not happen overnight, nor should it. Changes to what you eat and your habits should be done gradually if there is going to be any chance of long term success. Also, weight should be lost slowly so that there is no chance that the starvation – binge cycle can kick in. Although you will be losing weight slowly, it should be a steady process and over the course of one or two years, you should see a dramatic change. As a rule of thumb, you should not lose more than a pound a week, preferably less. Because you will be losing weight slowly, it will be pretty much impossible to measure any weight loss on a week by week basis. This is because your weight naturally fluctuates daily by several pounds due to how hydrated you are, whether you’ve recently eaten, or been to the toilet, or other factors. These fluctuations have nothing to do with whether or not you have lost fat. You should never weight yourself more than once a week and don’t necessarily believe what the scales say when you do. We would suggest you do not weigh yourself at all (most slim people don’t), instead just look in the mirror or work out whether a favourite pair of jeans are getting looser.

In the action plan we will give step by step guidance to turn you into a slim person. Each step in the process will involve a small manageable permanent change to the way you live your life. Once you have comfortably managed a step, move onto the next one. Do not move onto the next step until you feel comfortable with the step you have just made. When I say comfortable, I mean that you will have incorporated it as a permanent – no going back change to your life, and it feels right. Some steps may be easier than others. It may take you several months to go through the action plan.

Not all the steps in this guide will necessarily apply to you. Everyone is different, not everyone will have the same “Fat” habits, for example, it is not true that all overweight people drink soda or diet soda, although a high proportion do. When you come to an action plan step that you can say hand on your heart does not apply to you, go to the next step in the list.

Step 1 – Eat a hearty breakfast every morning before you go to work.

This should be one of the easiest steps to take as you are actually going to have food at a time when you usually don’t. If you don’t feel you have enough time in the morning for breakfast, get up earlier and go to bed earlier at night. To become a slim person, you should be aiming to keep your energy levels constant throughout the day, which also means you should never skip meals either. The type of breakfast you should eat is cereal, fruit juice (you should not drink more than one glass of fruit juice each day) and maybe toast. The best cereals are ones that have a high fibre content and low GI ones that will give you a slow steady release of energy to keep hungry pangs at bay. Eat cereals such as bran, muesli or home made porridge, which is one of my favourites and only takes 3 minutes to make. Cereals with masses of added sugar and chocolate should be avoided.

Step 2 – Stop drinking carbonated soda drinks.

Your should regard all soda drinks, whether they contain sugar, or are sugar free, as mind altering drugs; mind altering drugs that are telling your brain to eat sugary treats and junk food. It’s probably not a great idea to just go cold turkey and give up soda drinks completely on day one, as with all drugs they are highly addictive. Instead, slowly cut down on the quantity of sodas you have daily and replace with plain old water, plenty of water, especially before mealtimes. It is recommended that you drink at least eight 8 oz glasses of water a day.

Step 3 – Take more time when eating meals.

Double the time that you take to eat your lunch and dinner. This will give your body time to realise how much food you are eating and regulate how much you eat at one sitting.

Step 4 – Switch your brain on to know the difference between real hunger and mental hunger.

Most overweight people eat even when they are not really hungry. Get in touch with your mind and body and work out when you are really hungry because your body is low on energy and when you just want to eat though force of habit, comfort eating or cravings. It is not as easy as you think to know the difference. Sometimes you can feel hungry because you are dehydrated. Try drinking some water and see how you feel in 15 minutes. Recognising the difference between real hunger and cravings will be useful in the later stages of the plan.

Step 5 – Increase the amount of natural exercise you do.

Natural exercise is the type of activity you do on a day to day basis while living you life, not the organised kind such as working out at the gym. Basically, you just need to get yourself moving more. Here are some tips

  • If possible, leave your car at home when you go to work and walk to the bus/train, or even cycle to work.
  • For any short journeys, avoid using the car and walk or cycle instead.
  • If going to work by bus, get off at an earlier stop and walk.
  • Go for a brisk walk in your lunch hour after you have eaten.
  • Avoid using the elevator or escalators and walk up and down stairs instead.
  • When you go to the supermarket, park your car at the far end of the car park so you get exercise walking to the front door and pushing the shopping cart back.
  • Walk your kids to school instead of driving. This gets your kids into good habits as well.
  • Do more energetic outdoor activities and games with your partner, friends or kids.
  • Do your own gardening and car washing.
  • Look for and take all opportunities to get yourself moving more.

Step 6 – Identify you comfort eating times and apply distraction techniques to break these habits.

Most people have unconscious routines that they follow during the course of the day. You will probably find that there are times, usually at night, when you will snack when you are not physically hungry. These are your comfort eating moments. You do this because you have got into a habit of snacking at particular times or in particular situations, for example, when you are watching TV, when you are bored, or at times when you are dwelling on personal issues. The problem with comfort eating is that you are taking in extra energy when you don’t need to use it. What happens to this unused energy? It is stored as fat in your body.

To break the comfort eating habits you need to first identify when these points are. If you followed step 4, you should now be more in tune with your own body and be able to recognise the difference between physical and mental hunger. Work out the times when you are feeding your mental hunger. At these points in the day, apply distraction techniques to take you mind off food. Distraction will involve stopping what you are doing and taking part in a different but engrossing activity. For example, if you eat a bag of potato chips when watching a certain TV program, don’t watch that program, do some housework instead. With practice, your obsession with food will gradually diminish because your spare time will be filled with activities that will absorb you so much that the thought of eating won’t even occur to you. Here are some ideas for activities that you can do to stop yourself from comfort eating.

  • Go for a walk.
  • Housework.
  • Phone/email friends or family.
  • A workout.
  • Go to the gym
  • Read a book.
  • Do a crossword.
  • Play board games.
  • DIY jobs around the home that you have been putting off.
  • Gardening.
  • De-junk your house.
  • A hobby such as painting, knitting, woodwork etc.
  • Pamper yourself and have a long soak in the bath.
  • Listen to music (and dance).
  • Learn a musical instrument or a foreign language.
  • Go out somewhere.
  • Go to bed early.

Step 7 – Gradually change your diet.

This step should not be confused with going on a diet, this is diet in the sense of the types of food and drink that you are going to consume for the rest of your life, and more importantly, what you are not going to eat. As with cutting out carbonated soda drinks, it is best not to just suddenly stop eating all of the bad foods that we discussed in part 2 of this article. Sugary and fatty foods are highly addictive and bad eating habits are hard to break. It would be ridiculous to try and break all of your ingrained bad eating habits in one go, no one has that level of will power. Your body and your palate has to gradually get used to eating the healthier alternatives. Every few weeks, change one food type to a better alternative.

There is no problem with snacking during the day if you are genuinely physically hungry. You should be aiming to keep your energy levels constant, so snacking is a good thing as long as you are not doing it at night when your body should be winding down for sleep. Replace potato chips and other unhealthy snacks with unsalted nuts such as almonds, walnuts, brazil, pecan and cashew nuts. Nuts provide protein, healthy fats and essential mineral and nutrients. Don’t go overboard on nuts though as they are densely packed with calories. A handful is perfect for keeping hunger at bay. Replace candy bars with fresh fruit. You should be eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

For your main meals, ditch the highly processed junk and replace with real home cooked food with real (lean) meat, real fish, real vegetables, pulses, wholemeal ingredients etc. There are plenty of recipes out there for tasty healthy home cooked recipes. You should favour low GI meals that give you a slow release of energy. Obviously, it will take longer to cook your own food, but you can cook large batches and freeze for your lazy moments. When you cook your own food from basic ingredients, you know what you are eating. Who knows what is in junk processed meals. You can look at the ingredients on the back of the box, but you’ll probably be none the wiser.

Step 8 – Gradually start doing workouts and other organised exercises.

Strength training is important because having a higher proportion of muscle in your body will increase your metabolic rate making it easier to lose weight. You should introduce workouts gradually, and if you are very unfit, you should get your doctor’s advice first. Joining a gym would be ideal, but not everyone has the time or the money for this, and you have to understand that this would be a lifelong commitment. It is a fact that you don’t necessarily need to join a gym or buy expensive weight equipment. There are a number of muscle building exercises you can do at home such as crunches, push ups, jump squats, step-ups etc. The exercises you do can be tailored for your current capabilities and level of fitness. Just do a search on the web for the best strength exercises for you.

Apart from building strength, you should also do aerobic exercises to burn off fat and make your heart and lungs healthier. Exercises like walking, running, cycling and swimming. Swimming is one of the best exercises because it combines strength training with aerobic exercise and it is easy on your joints.

Step 9 – Reduce your food portion size.

Gradually reduce the amount of food that you eat at one sitting, especially at dinner time. If you are overweight you are basically eating too much. Having a bit less food at meal times won’t necessarily make you feel hungrier because after eating a certain amount of food, your hunger will switch itself off if you give it enough time to register (see Step 3). The best way to cut down on the amount you eat at meal times is to simply not cook as much food as you usually do. If you cut down on the amount you cook, the money that you save in quantity can be used to buy better quality foods; replace that greasy burger with a nice juicy steak. If you do cook too much, just save some for leftovers rather than clearing your plate. To help reduce portion size you could also invest in a smaller set of dinner plates that will fool your brain into believing you aren’t reducing the portion size.

Step 10 – Do not reward your slimming behaviour with food.

This does not mean you can’t go out for a great meal, just do not link going out for a meal with rewarding yourself for doing exercise or cutting down on food for a week. This will lead back to an obsession with food which will lead you back to your old habits.

Step 11 – Ditch your other “Fat” habits.

These habits include counting calories, feeling guilty when you may have overeaten and bingeing because you feel bad. There is no point obsessing about food by counting calories, equally there is nothing to be gained by beating yourself up for overeating as this can lead to you giving up and going back to your old ways. You are changing your habits for the rest of your life. If you have the odd lapse, it doesn’t matter, your are on the road to becoming a slim person, you have plenty of time to get it right.

Step 12 – Don’t go back to your old ways.

If you have followed this action plan and have reached Step 12, you are now several months down the line and you are slowly by surely losing your excess weight and moving towards your ideal body mass index. Keep going, do not allow yourself to drift back into your old fat habits, ever. If you have made the changes gradually, you won’t have had any trouble getting to this point. Even if you have not yet reached your ideal BMI yet, you are already a slim person in your mind and attitudes.

How to be a Slim Person – Fat and Thin Habits

In Part 1 How to be a Slim Person – Why Diets Don’t Work we discussed why going on a diet is a recipe for disaster. For most people, dieting is not the way to lose weight permanently. Any long term answer to losing weight and staying slim must be pain free, otherwise, there is no way that the weight loss can be sustained. By pain free, I mean that you mustn’t go hungry or have to exert any amount of will power to the process of losing weight and maintaining your new slim body. Truly slim people don’t use will power to stay slim. If you don’t believe this, just ask anyone that you know that has always been slim, they will tell you that they don’t make any effort to be slim, although they probably won’t know why.

Despite what anyone may say, your genetics are only a minor factor in determining whether you are fat or thin. It’s your lifestyle, behaviour and habits that make you the way you are. If you don’t believe this, just have a look at street photos from your neighbourhood taken 50 years ago. You will see that people were much slimmer back then. This US Government link, adult obesity facts, has a very interesting animation that shows just how much obesity has mushroomed in the past twenty years. The average American adult is 30 pounds heavier than 50 years ago, with most of the growth in average weight being in the past 20 years. It is very clear that obesity is a modern problem.

Before we go onto an action plan to become a slim person, it is important to understand the differences in behaviour, lifestyle and mindset of the slim verses the overweight person.

Fat and Thin Foods

Next time you go to the supermarket, just take a look at the sort of food and drink that overweight people buy compare to thin people. Although there are no hard and fast certainties, you’ll probably see a recurring theme. The shopping cart of the overweight person is likely to contain the following:

  • Sweet carbonated drinks sugar or sugar free.
  • Large bags of potato chips and fatty snacks.
  • Processed foods, e.g. pizza, frozen pies.
  • Candy.
  • Cakes.
  • White Bread.

The slim person’s cart contains:

  • Cereals, (not the sugar or chocolate coated variety).
  • Real fruit juice, tea and coffee.
  • Fresh fruit, vegetables, pulse and nuts.
  • Fresh meat and fish.
  • Brown bread.

You will see that the old saying “you are what you eat” is definitely in play here.

Probably the item that you would see the most in the obese person’s shopping cart are carbonated soda drinks. Just check out on the web the mind blowing amounts of sugar the drinks companies manage to pump into a standard sized can of sugared soda. However, these days, you will notice that most obese people buy the sugar free variety. Even though they are supposedly diet drinks, it is obvious that they are not doing the consumer any good when it comes to losing weight, and by the simple fact that they are so often found in the cart of the obese, it stands to reason there must be something about diet fizzy drinks that actually causes people to get fat.

The link with diet soda drinks and obesity has been backed up by a number of scientific studies. Although it is not fully understood why drinking diet soda leads to obesity, it is believed that the sweet taste of the soda triggers appetite, but with no actual feeling of fullness that goes with consuming real sugar. This distorts the appetite leading to cravings for more sweet and unhealthy foods.

Potato chips are high in fat, candy is high in sugar and and cakes are high in fat and sugar, all these items have little in the way of nutrition and are highly addictive. Processed foods are foods that are artificially changed to extend their shelf life. These foods can contain a whole host of chemicals and ingredients that are bad for you, including high levels of salt, carcinogens caused by cooking at high temperatures, trans fats and high fructose corn syrup, which many believe is responsible for the obesity epidemic.

White bread as opposed to whole grain brown bread has had a significant amount of processing and removal of the good stuff like bran. Apart from not being as healthy as brown bread, white bread has a higher Glycemic Index (GI). This means that brown bread will fill you up for longer because low GI food takes the body longer to process and gives you a steadier source of energy.

Fat and Thin Behaviour

Apart from differences in slim and overweight peoples’ eating habits, there are also a number of differences in lifestyle and behaviour

Overweight people tend to skip breakfast. Slim people will have breakfast not long after they wake up. Not eating breakfast is a problem because the time that you need energy the most is at the start of the day when you are about to get active. Because you have not eaten since the night before, your energy levels will be very low if you don’t have your breakfast. For overweight people, not having breakfast seems like an easy way to try to control their weight as you do not tend to feel hungry just after you have woken up; this is the wrong way to think. A study has shown that when you skip breakfast, the brain is tricked into believing that you are starving and will switch on cravings for unhealthy calorie laden foods, causing you to overeat later in the day. The starvation/binge cycle will lead to weight gain because you burn off fat and muscle when starving and only put on fat when bingeing, leading to a higher proportion of fat in your body and a low metabolic rate (as discussed in Part 1 How to be a Slim Person – Why Diets Don’t Work).

Overweight people frequently skip meals. The slim person will eat meals at regular intervals day-in day-out. Again, skipping meals will activate the starvation response / binge eating cycle.

Overweight people eat much more quickly than slim people. There is a time lag between eating food and actually feeling full. Eating too quickly leads to overeating because the brain will not register the correct point at which you have had enough to eat.

Overweight people will finish what is on their plate, even if they are full. Slim people will stop eating when they are full.

Overweight people frequently binge on food and feel guilty about it. Slim people do not have any feelings of guilt about anything they eat. They may occasionally have too much to eat, but don’t worry about it. The feelings of guilt that overweight people have will trigger the starvation/binge cycle and lead to more weight gain.

Overweight people count calories. Slim people don’t bother counting calories, but know when they’ve eaten too much. Calorie counting leads to an obsession with food and cravings for what you supposedly can’t have.

Overweight people think about food a lot. Slim people only tend to think about food at mealtimes or when they are genuinely hungry.

Overweight people will “reward” themselves with food when they have done something “good” such as not eating much for a day or going to the gym. Slim people don’t have a concept of food rewards for being “good”, but enjoy good food.

Overweight people tend to comfort eat, that is, they eat because they are bored or for emotional reasons rather than because they are hungry. Thin people rarely comfort eat. Comfort eating is particularly bad for you as you tend to eat junk foods and snacks. Also, people comfort eat at times when they don’t need any extra energy, usually at night. The energy from this surplus food will be turned straight into fat.

Overweight people do less exercise than slim people whether that exercise is natural day to day exercise like going for a walking in your lunch hour, or organised exercise such as working out in the gym. Exercise is very important not only for the obvious health benefits, but also for controlling your weight. Put very simply, if you eat more calories than your body uses, you will put on weight, and if your body uses more calories than you eat, you will lose weight. If you exercise, you will burn off calories, simple. Slim people that are at their ideal weight tend to have an exact balance of calorie input to output. They may actually eat the same number of calories as overweight people, but as they do more exercise, they don’t put on weight because the exercise burns the extra calories off. Also, exercise increases the proportion of muscle to fat in the body, which increases your metabolic rate allowing you to burn off calories more quickly.

Overweight peoples’ weight tends to fluctuate wildly. Slim peoples’ weight tends to stay pretty much the same for years on end. Overweight people tend to be faddish with weight lose and exercise, with the consequence that they will ride the starvation/binge roller-coaster. Slim people keep their calorie intake and output on an even keel, but without any effort.

In Part 3 How to be a Slim Person – Action Plan to become a Slim Person, we will present an action plan for how to change your fat habits and apply gradual small changes to the way you live to give you the physique you’ve always wanted without dieting, stress or sacrifice.

References

How to be a Slim Person – Part 1
Online Body Fat Percentage Calculator
Adult obesity facts
How much sugar in sodas and beverages?
Fueling the obesity epidemic? artificially sweetened beverage use and long-term weight gain
Why processed foods are bad for you
What caused the obesity crisis in the west?
Low glycemic foods, explained
Skip breakfast, get fat

How to be a Slim Person – Why Diets Don’t Work

You’ll notice that the title of this article is not how to lose weight fast, the best diet in the world or how to get yourself trim for the summer; no, it’s how to be a slim person. In this article you will learn how to be slim from the real experts. I’m not talking about the people that write the plethora of diet books with their wacky calorie counting regimes and crazy recipes that tell you to eat mashed kumquat for three months, no, the real experts are the people that have been slim all their lives and don’t ever go on a diet. In these three short articles I will show you how slim people manage it and how you can become a slim person with no stress and no dieting. More importantly, I will show you how to stay slim for the rest of your life.

Why diets do not work

It is a fact that dieting does not work in the long term. Numerous scientific studies have shown that although dieting will cause you to lose weight initially, the majority of dieters will pile the weight back on after they have finished their so called diet. Not only will they put the weight back on, dieters will usually gain more than their starting weight. There are several reasons why dieting results in you actually putting on more weight.

Rapid weight loss will activate the body’s starvation response where the body will burn off both fat and muscle. At the end of the diet you will start to gain weight, but mainly fat rather than muscle. This yo-yo dieting will lead to you having a higher fat to muscle ratio; not a good look and certainly not good for your health (see Body Fat Percentage Calculator). Also, having a lower proportion of muscle mass in your body slows down your metabolism because muscle burns calories faster. Having less muscle means that you will put on more weight with a lower calorie intake than if you had more muscle.

Psychologically dieting is hard. Counting your calories and following a strict eating regimes requires a will power and determination that is difficult to maintain for any length of time. After the initial euphoria of losing weight, the determination to carry on will invariably fail, leading to binge eating and weight gain.

Constant calorie counting, which is advocated in most diets, leads to an obsession with food and in particular, the eating of food. As an analogy, imagine you’ve got a slight twinge of pain in your back. What would be the best thing to do? Get on with other things and forget about the pain, or set an alarm to remind yourself every five minutes to check whether the pain has gone away? Obviously, it is best to forget about it. The same goes for food. If you’re constantly obsessing about how much you are eating, asking yourself how much can I eat at the next mealtime? should I just have a little snack now? will it be too much etc, you are bound to create a obsession and desire for food that you will have to constantly fight using will power. The lifelong slim person does not think about food that much and so does not have a constant desire for food, which doesn’t mean that he/she doesn’t enjoy food.

So why are there so many diets? Because it is a multi-million dollar industry. Because diets invariably don’t succeed, the companies marketing the diets will always have an endless supply of customers waiting to try the next wonder diet that may just work this time.

If diets don’t work, what is the alternative?

In Part 2 How to be a Slim Person – Fat and Thin Habits we will compare the behaviour, lifestyle and mindset of the slim person verses that of overweight people, and give you a simple action plan of small easy changes you can make to the way you live that will make you a lifelong slim person too.

References

Online Body Fat Percentage Calculator
Scientists say dieting does not work
Yo-yo effect
Diet books: fat on profits, skinny on results?

How to Fix Leadtek TV Tuner Problems in Windows Media Center

I recently bought a Leadtek WinFast DTV Dongle Gold USB TV Tuner to work with my Windows 7 PC. Although it’s a good piece of hardware, there were some problems, in particular, operation with their Y04G0051 remote control and with using Windows Media Center instead of their supplied WinFast PVR2 application.

The installation was pretty straight forward. Tuning worked OK as I had an external aerial (no chance with the supplied antenna). Picture quality was extremely good as well. Unfortunately, I found that the Winfast PVR2 software that was supplied with the DVB tuner left a lot to be desired in terms of user friendliness. Also, Winfast PVR2 is packed with features you will never want, but at the same time lacking in essential functionality like a driver that will work properly with their remote control.

Fortunately, the tuner works with Windows Media Center, which has a much better User Experience. However, there were three major problems that I had with running the Leadtek tuner on Window Media Center on my Windows 7 64 bit machine:

Firstly, the sound would be lost after pausing or rewinding the TV. Also, the screen would sometimes go blank when using the time shifting functions. This could only be recovered by restarting Windows Media Center.

Secondly, when I started live TV in Windows Media Center, the screen stretched to fill the whole screen. As my monitor aspect ratio isn’t 16:9, I had to change the zoom setting to zoom1. Each time I started Windows Media Center it would lose its zoom setting.

Thirdly, a number of the buttons on the remote control would not work. Although there are no shortage of buttons on the Y04G0051 remote, the only ones that I am really interested in using are the volume, channel changer and the timeshift buttons. Alas, the volume and play pause buttons weren’t working in WMC. The pause button wouldn’t work with PVR2 either.

The sound loss / screen blacking out problem and the issue with the default zoom setting were fixed by deleting two Windows Media Center registry settings (see http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_other-tv/losing-soundpicture-when-rewinding-live-tv-in/6e0f575a-4bed-4248-9cac-a6392b7b6d16). The registry keys are related to the MHEG Engine that controls the interactive features of TV stations for certain countries like the UK, so you would lose these features by deleting these registry keys. Not really a concern for me as I only want to watch TV, not interact with it. Please note, care should be taken when playing around with the registry as you can mess up your machine. I would advise backing up the registry before editing it. If you have not used Regedit before, you should read up on how to use it first.

Here are the steps

Start up Regedit (via the start menu).

  1. Backup the registry by creating a restore point or back up to a file via export.
  2. Delete the following registry keys:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center\Extensibility\Entry Points\{7e7a8710-9e4a-40a3-824a-7b0baf38abcf}]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center\Extensibility\Applications\{a0cd8951-e5b6-4662-9c9c-d56c5b38ca59}]

  1. Reboot your machine.
  2. Start Windows Media Center and enjoy problem free timeshifting and zoom settings.

Fixing the buttons on the remote control proved to be more tricky, and I still have not yet managed to get the pause button to work, although all the other buttons on my wish list are there (Start, Exit, Volume, channel changer , fast forward and rewind). I don’t know exactly how I got the remote to work, but here are the steps I took in no particular order.

  1. Update the drivers and PVR2 software.
  2. Switch the remote to use Windows Media Center via the RCConfig application in the latest PVR2 offering.
  3. Switch to Windows Media Center on the remote by pressing the left and right buttons at the same time for five seconds whilst pointing at the TV Tuner stick.
  4. Rebooting after each of the above three steps.

I attempted to remap the pause button via the RCConfig application to Ctrl P (Pause/Play for WMC). This did not work. I contacted support at Leadtek to try to find a solution. They stated that RCConfig does not work with the Dongle Gold and they also admitted that the remote control problem is due to an issue with their drivers and that they will try to fix it and update the driver ASAP. I await their update with eager anticipation.