With Thanksgiving bearing down on us like a gravy-fuelled freight train, I find my thoughts turning to the vital topic of health and fitness.
I am, of course, lying. As Thanksgiving approaches, the only thing I can think about is how much turkey and mashed potatoes I can stuff down my gullet and still remain alert enough to lie on the couch and watch professional football.
But if you were to ask me to sum up my approach to promoting health and well-being in a single word, that word would probably be: blenders. I became aware of the vital role blenders play in modern medical care on Thursday when I was invited to attend the Wellness Fair at Health Sciences Centre, an event designed to promote health and wellness among the dedicated professionals whose job is to preserve our health and wellness.
The organizers felt it would be a huge boost for health care if I came down and spent some time on their newest medical device, by which I mean the Blender Bike, one of about 40 exhibits at the annual fair.
For those of you who are not medical professionals like myself, a Blender Bike is essentially an old-school Schwinn bicycle with a kitchen blender mounted on the back and the faster you pedal, the faster the blender blends.
The two main medical benefits of the Blender Bike are as follows: 1) You burn calories while you ride the bike; and 2) When you're finished, you can treat yourself to a tasty and nutritious smoothie. Fortunately, I did not have to ride alone. I was partnered with Donna Henry, HSC's special events co-ordinator, who was decked out in a stunning pink yoga outfit, whereas I arrived in jeans, sneakers and a purple golf shirt with a large grease stain in the belly area.
Donna and I were assigned to ride the Blender Bike for five minutes each, or until our Manitoba Morning Smoothie (one tablespoon hemp seed oil, 1 tablespoon hemp seeds, 1 cup frozen blueberries, 1 cup rice milk, 1 teaspoon maple syrup, 11/2 teaspoons vanilla extract) was properly blended.
When I pressed her on the point, Jennifer Lumb, the MC for the event and HSC's acting staff wellness manager, confessed our smoothie contains 447 calories. So, naturally, I wondered how many smoothies I would burn off during the five-minute ride.
Jennifer frowned and said: "If you ride the bike for 10 minutes at a leisurely pace, you'll burn 57 calories.
So you'd need to blend for a long time. If you were riding at 20 miles per hour, in 10 minutes you'd burn 228 calories."
I then asked Jennifer whether the Blender Bike would revolutionize health care and, after a moment's thought, she replied: "Ha ha ha! It could revolutionize breakfast."
So there's that to think of. Fortunately, I had prepared for the big ride via the technique of not eating any greasy snack foods for an hour before arriving. This did not impress my wife, who, before leaving for work, offered this helpful observation: "If you have a heart attack, at least you'll be in the right place."
As I chugged toward the five-minute mark, I was proud of my biking and blending prowess, but MC Jennifer expressed medical concern about how purple my face appeared. "Doug, your face kind of resembles the blueberry smoothie, so maybe you should let Donna take a turn," she advised.
The smoothie was delicious, but while riding the Blender Bike, we found ourselves staring directly at the largest exhibit at the wellness fair -- a 12-metre, 1,428-kilogram inflatable replica of a human colon. Technically, this colon is just like yours, except it is the size of a standard convenience store.
The monster colon was plopped down at HSC for the day as part of a nationwide tour to educate Canadians about colorectal cancer and the importance of colonoscopies.
We were given a guided tour by Sid Chapnick, a cancer coach with the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada. As you wander around, you simulate a colonoscopy and encounter alarming things, such as hemorrhoids the size of beach balls.
"We want to make it fun because we might save some lives," Sid, a colon cancer survivor, told us.
"I pray no one I know ever has a hemorrhoid of this size," Jennifer chirped as we wandered through an area we normally do not discuss in a family newspaper.
I personally had done this once before, but there's an old journalism saying: "You can't visit a giant colon too many times."
So the giant colon was a real gas. It gave me a lot to digest, as did the Blender Bike. But my main medical point is, with Thanksgiving around the corner, it's time to think seriously about putting healthier foods inside our bodies.
We should probably start with turkey smoothies.