As a recent convert to the whole “fitness thing” (aka working out, watching what I eat and how many calories I burn,) I can’t help but comment on the Biggest Loser controversy that’s currently blowing up the Twittersphere.  In case you don’t know, this season’s show featured Rachel Frederickson’s drastic weight loss of over 150 pounds! That’s 60% of her starting body weight!!!

I know it’s unhealthy to be overweight, but it’s JUST as unhealthy to drop such an extraordinary amount of weight in a short period of time.  Not only does it leave one open to injury, but can also lead to health problems including immune system suppression and bad skin, hair and nails and in some cases even an irregular heartbeat, muscle cramps and loss of bone mass.

People, rightly so, are absolutely outraged that Rachel lost so much weight in a short period of time.  But, no one ever mentions that the entire purpose of The Biggest Loser is to, that’s right folks, lose weight.  Instead of chastising Ms. Frederickson for simply following her trainer’s routine, we should be looking into the entire program.

It’s unhealthy to force overweight individuals to go from zero to 60 and expect them to drop serious amounts of weight in a three month period (which is the amount of time allotted to contestants on the hit NBC show.)

Equally harmful to the show’s brand is the fact that the face of the show, Jillian Michaels, claimed she had nothing to do with the extreme weight loss.  Um, hello?  You are the freakin’ host of the show! And you’re telling me that you had nothing to do with this transformation?  I find that a little bit hard to believe.  And, if it IS true, perhaps you should focus more time on your contestants and less time on your own personal brand.

Can Lisa Rinna and Patriots Football players actually make the taboo adult diaper sexy? Well Kimberly-Clarke seems to think so! To market their new line of Depend® diapers, appropriately being called Depend® Silhouette for Women and Real Fit for Men, Kimberly-Clarke has enlisted the help of 48-year-old Rinna and 3 (young) Patriots Football players to appear in their new ad campaigns.

Here’s the catch, none of these celebrity spokespeople actually suffer from urinary incontinence and have no medical need to be wearing the diaper, but all agreed to participate in a stunt campaign to benefit select charities.

The ads also encourage consumers to go to Depend’s website, The Great American Try-On, to request a free sample; not that you actually need to order one. By going to the site and answering a few basic questions about the new diapers, Depend will support The V Foundation for Cancer Research and Dress For Success women’s charity by donating money in return.

So will this marketing ploy actually help reach a new type of audience that, according to the Today Show (see video), has needed help for a while? Baby Boomers, like Kris Jenner,  are rapidly reaching the age where this product could be a necessity. So, the answer is probably yes, I mean they got me talking about it! However, it is also a bit disturbing. Kimberly-Clarke is marketing this diaper as a SPANX-type product, which will serve a younger, cooler audience and not just your grandparents. But the question remains, if you’re not wetting your pants yet, why would you need a diaper? I think I’ll stick with SPANX for now.

With the economy in its current state, consumers are looking for ways to cut corners and save a little cash.  Some people cut back by shopping at thrift stores, while others trim their own hair.  So, why spend full price on medication when you can make antidepressant yogurt from the comfort of your own home?

Bioengineer Tuur van Balen has taken prescription drug customization to a whole other level for consumers, claiming that you can easily alter yogurt’s DNA to turn it into Prozac.  All you need to do is swing by your local health food store to pick up lactobacillus bacteria culture, which will cost you in the neighborhood of $15.  You will also need a few other handy tools such as DNA coding instructions, a centrifuge and an electroporator.  Follow Van Balen’s detailed online tutorial to turn your bacteria into a yogurt culture base for Prozac yogurt.

Don’t fear if you can’t afford all of the equipment; NYC based biolab, Genspace, offers everything you need to make your own yogurt.  So next time you are in the mood for some fro-yo, what will it be: a few dollars at PinkBerry or homemade Prozac Yogurt?  Enjoy!


I am all for targeted marketing, and I click on most Opt-In lists when it comes to things I enjoy. Mainly deals for my shopping obsession.  So I can’t help but wonder how a shopping obsession click could have made me the target of “Smart Cremation.”

Talk about morbid marketing.  Now, I know it’s inevitable and something to deal with at some point, but telling me I can plan ahead in just five minutes with an 800 number, and save the world with environmentally cremation was a little bit more than I can handle.  And they reached out to me three times in two months…do they know something I don’t?

I don’t begrudge the marketing, but maybe offer a more targeted approach for reaching and engaging with a receptive audience.  Maybe joint marketing with a funeral home (beyond back of a church bulletin), or working with a life insurance broker, or targeting users who just created their Will online. 

Being none of these, I can’t imagine my clicking on Gilt Groupe triggered the email campaign.  And they reached out to me three times in two months.  I may be wrong here…maybe they know something I don’t.

Guest post by Erin Howard, fellow Peppercommer and YAY DIY! blogger.

Well, maybe not. Ready?

So yesterday, the blogosphere exploded with images of this shirt, apparently on sale just in time for back-to-school. The shirt in question was available in sizes 6-16; targeting not only elementary school girls, but girls in that already awkward and confusing time that most of us would rather forget called middle school.

There are so many things wrong with this! There’s the fact that somewhere along the line, multiple teams of people thought this was not only acceptable, but maybe even a money-maker. Because let’s face it. No one designs, creates, buys and promotes a shirt they think isn’t going to sell. Maybe they’d buy this for their child.  And maybe they’re the kind of people who dream of their daughters being First Lady and not President.  I’d like to hope that mentality is held by only a very small minority of parents in this country.

School age girls are impressionable. They believe what people tell them.  One thing they should NOT be told is that
they can’t be both pretty and smart. There are no “roles” or “molds” girls should be taught to fill.  They don’t have to be “The pretty cheerleader” or the “mousy computer nerd” or the “smart girl in Future Business Leaders of America.”  That pretty girl, the one who’s always cast as the cheerleader, or head of the “mean” squad in
the movies?  That girl should be encouraged to be an engineer, a doctor, a lawyer, or even President, just as
much as anyone else.

The young women who can fit into this shirt are tomorrow’s leaders – but only if we help them realize their full potential. There is nothing wrong with telling young women that they’re beautiful – there is only something wrong with telling them that beauty and intelligence are mutually exclusive.

OK, I’m done.


It never ceases to amaze me when illnesses float about the office. It brings new meaning to the phrase “dropping like flies.”

And in the age of social media, it’s interesting to see how many people list their symptoms on Facebook or Twitter or elsewhere. Wouldn’t it be great if we could use this information to see the progression of sicknesses – where they start, where they are going?

A start-up calleSickweatherd Sickweather does. The company plans to use data from social networks to map out symptoms in different geographies. The company is in beta test phase now, but I can’t wait to see the (sick)weather map that surrounds our Park Avenue location.

When it’s ready, here’s what I expect –

1. No more looking for a good excuse to call in sick:

Uhh, boss, I have the coxsackie virus and can’t make it in. I heard it’s been going around, so just a matter of time before it got me I guess.

Who can argue with that? Even the (sick)weather map says it’s true.

2. Plans can be made (or delayed) a lot easier:

You know, the (sick)weather just isn’t good around P.S. 450 (insert your local bar) tonight; let’s go to The Bell Jar instead. It’s all clear there.

3. The CDC will have a lot more work on its hands:

There’s an outbreak of meningitis in mid-town. We better go check that out.

Or, maybe they will partner with Sickweather to overlay data and help verify where it’s spot on and where it’s nothing but an empty cough.

Either way, all the info we share about ourselves is leading to many interesting, zany and peculiar products and services that may or may not help us live more informed – and less sick – lives. And I’m ready for it. The weather never lies, right?

OK, I know juice cleanses are all the rage, and I believe 100% in the benefits of them (I am on one now, and officially hungry).  But when I saw a pamphlet and Web promo from one of the more popular choices du jour suggesting “Forget flowers, overnight a cooler of six juices…,” well, I had to stop and question whether we’ve gone too far?  Is it just me or is this not the right marketing tactic?  Flowers can mean so many things, but a six pack of juice can mean so much more, and not in the good way.

 As a refresher for those not into the jucie craze, a juice cleanse is supposed to be something we do to help the body run at its best and to ease the digestive process.  It should promote better energy, weight loss, healthier skin and sharper senses.  So what does getting a six pack of juices say?  To me it’s creating a negative.  It feels like asking a significant other “do I look fat?” and getting an answer, or when my mom got a vacuum cleaner from dad for Mother’s Day.

Maybe I am wrong here, but better targeting to the “juice cleanse” generation would likely be all about me – or you.  Sending the package to myself to inspire a healthier approach, not to a significant other who may interpret it as a sign to put the French fries down. Its really up to each person to decide if, when and why for this.  Its not as simple as a bouquet of roses. 

 Oh, and only four days left on my cleanse, I may just need that French fry.

When the ancient Greeks said “know thyself,” I doubt they knew how much there would be possible to know in the 21st century. From public DNA information to familial lineage, we have the ability to learn more about ourselves today than ever before.

For someone who tends towards self-analysis, this new world of knowledge can be a dangerous, wonderful and distracting place. And the most intriguing thus far is a device created by a company called Asthmapolis (not the greatest name in my book, but let’s give them a chance) from out in Madison, Wisc. These folks have created a device that uses GPS to track when and where an inhaler is used. It purportedly will help you see and understand your asthma trigger patterns, help your doctor manage your asthma better, and inform public health services.

I’ve had mild asthma for 20+ years and the most I knew for most of those years was that my dog allergies and the cold, cold winters of New York were triggers. By trial and error, I learned that extreme dust (sorry mom), cats, and even horses can knock the wind out of me. This knowledge has helped, but it has taken decades to be fully prepared for the situations I could walk into. Imagine asthma sufferers with pollen triggers knowing when and where their evil enemy was popping up to help them plan their days? Or for municipalities to rank public health priorities? This makes the Asthmapolis device mighty appealing.

On the flip side, with all the knowledge you gain about you, there is the potential for others to know it too. So I pose a question to all ye asthma sufferers out there – is the privacy risk worth the reward to know thyself?