Molly Grace James

A Life Well Lived…



Loving Lifting

We all start off as beginners, but with deliberate practice we can take our passions to the next level.  For many years I was a long distance runner. I did not have the type of training or muscle development to lift “heavy.”

mj lift

It is so cool to complete a lift with ease. And this is very much a work in progress.

What’s great about lifting? I have found solace in the companionship of my fellow lifters/ athletes. And I am prone to read articles in the Huffington Post such as 13 Reasons to Start Lifting Weights.

It feels empowering to have a new found hobby and the strength and confidence that are continuing to develop along with the PRs. Start somewhere. Be proud of yourself and your accomplishments. You may not be the strongest person, but learning how to use your body in new ways is exhilarating and worth the callouses.

lifting friends
At a local competition with my fellow workout pals

And the Winners Are…


In other exciting science news: James Rothman, Randy Schekman, and Thomas Sudhof won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Their joint research found that “vesicles” act like a fleet of ships transporting their goods to the exact destination. Cell regulation is extremely important and these vesicles,  tiny bubbles of fat, act as the cell’s internal shipping service. They can send material such as enzymes, neurotransmitters and hormones, around the cell. Or they can fuse with the outer surface of the cell and release their contents into the wider body.

Timing is Everything

Each scientist worked in harmony on the three components of the findings.

  • Schekman discovered specific gene encoding proteins that regulate and control the vesicle traffic inside the cell to the different compartments called organelles.
  • For his part, Rothman discovered a protein complex on the vesicles that allow them to bind to proteins on the target cell membrane. This means the vesicle would end up at the correct location and the cargo molecules inside are correctly delivered.
  • As for the timing, Sudhof found  calcium plays a role in how signals are transmitted from a nerve cell to another in the brain. The molecular machinery senses the calcium ions, which allows the vesicles to fuse to the membrane and release signaling substances on command. This  explains how an important molecule, such as insulin, would be exported out of the cell at precisely the right time.

Breakthrough Health Findings 

“They have revolutionized understanding of how cells are organised which is fundamental to huge number of diseases,” said Dr Lisa Swanton of the University of Manchester.

So why does this matter in terms of health? When cells are functioning properly vesicles carry  molecules (these can be hormones or neurotransmitters) to the correct place inside or outside the cell.  These molecules and their timing to various other parts of the body are crucial for overall physiological health. For example, metabolic activity is regulated, in the case of hormones. Defective vesicle transport is evident in a variety of diseases including neurological and immunological disorders, and in diabetes. Something so small- this tiny vesicle and its corresponding processes- something you may never even think about has a huge impact on your body. Without this wonderfully precise organization, the cell would lapse into chaos.

View the PDF for a better visual example of how vesicles work within your body.

Say No to Styrofoam!

Just today, at lunch with my sweet grandmother, she asked for a to-go container for a portion of her unfinished meal. Unfortunately, she did not receive an eco-friendly container. Instead she got what is many times a standard container. Styrofoam packaging or polystyrene is a petroleum-based plastic made from the styrene monomer. It is bought in bulk at a cheap rate by many restaurants and is used for its insulating properties.

Keep this beautiful!
Keep this beautiful!

Top 5 Reasons to Avoid Polystyrene 

  1. Not Easily Recyclable  

    Even though technology for recycling polystyrene exists, the market for recycling is very small and shrinking. This means each time you take out a container it will probably end up in landfill instead of being recycled. But recycling is not “closed loop” (see point 2).

  2. Inefficient Recycling

    If collected and recycled, polystyrene containers and cups are not re-manufactured into the same product, but into other products such as packing filler. This means that more resources will have to be used, and more pollution created, to produce more polystyrene containers.

  3. Harm to Workers and Consumers

    In a world where ‘everything will give you cancer’ it still seems reasonable to me to mitigate those risks as best as possible.  Exposure from personal use is probably not enough to cause any true health concerns, but what about the factory workers creating the PS? Linda Birnbaum, is a toxicologist who heads the government agency which has declared styrene, an ingredient in fiberglass boats and Styrofoam, a likely cancer risk. ” “Let me put your mind at ease right away about Styrofoam,” she said in a Huffington Post article. Levels of styrene that leach from food containers “are hundreds if not thousands of times lower than have occurred in the occupational setting,” where the chemical in vapor form poses a possible risk to workers.

  4. Toxins in Our Air, Land and Water from Styrene Production

    A few years ago, the U.S. National Toxicology program declared that styrene was “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”     Styrene can be found in air, soil, and water after release from the manufacture, use, and disposal of styrene-based products, says the CDC. Low levels of styrene occur naturally in a variety of foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, beverages, and meats. Small amounts of styrene can be transferred to food from styrene-based packaging material.

  5. Better alternatives 

    When it comes to food-safe polystyrene alternatives several good options exist.

Betters Options:

Green Star Restaurants
Many eco-friendly restaurants will opt for greener options.  Post-consumer recycled paper, bamboo, corn plastics, etc. are easily renewable resources. These may be more expensive, but it is worth it for long term eco and health benefits.

paper packaging to go

Bring Your Own
eco clamshell 1Eco-clamshells are great, too and can be used over and over again. I bought mine,  made of number 5 plastic, or polypropylene.  This means it will be able to be recycled if I ever need to.   Although some cities have banned polystyrene, it may be nearly impossible to avoid altogether. As styrene is used in many everyday items such as building products, insulation, fiberglass, auto parts and carpet backing.  Still, when it comes to consumption, we have a choice to eat and drink the purest and highest quality items as possible. So, the next time I am out to lunch with my grandmother, I will remember to bring my container and will do my part, albeit in a small way against polystyrene.


Check out another blogger’s post on recycling Styrofoam.

You Can Now Have a Big Mac in Vietnam

Vietnam is an outstanding option as a tourist destination. Visitors can enjoy the exotic wildlife, pristine beaches and now fries and cheeseburgers. McDonalds is set to open its first location in Sài Gòn  next year, nearly 20 years after “Doi Moi” or economic liberalization in the country. Since the lifted restrictions, companies like Starbucks, KFC and other fastfood chains have established a presence in the country. Vietnam, in terms of demographics has a 90 million population and rapidly expanding middle class.

Via Business Week
Via Business Week

McDonalds is not solely to blame for unhealthy eating habits and growing worldwide obesity epidemic. But will this signal a continued shift in the eating habits similar to what occurred in China? The World Health Organization (WHO) found that globally obesity rates have more than doubled since the 1980s.  And now nearly 3 million people will die each year as a result of being overweight or obese!

happy eating at McDonalds

In the South-East Asia region nearly 300,000 people die each year from obesity. And children, who are particularly susceptible to slick ad campaigns featuring tantalizing fast food, may be adversely affected. With an increase in energy-dense foods, think high in fat, salt and sugar, and a decrease in exercise from urbanization nearly 40 million children under age 11 are overweight.

Are You One of the 80 Million? Diabetes and the Red Meat Connection

Could it really be that simple? Cut back on red meat consumption to reduce Type 2 Diabetes.

red meat

JAMA Internal Medicine recently published a study on Red Meat Consumption and Type 2 Diabetes Risk. This study is extremely relevant as there are 25.8 million people in the United States, or 8.3% of the population (only 5% have Type 1), who have diabetes.1

And another nearly 80 million are in a pre-diabetic stage.

So it makes sense that researchers would want to find out more on the prevention of this condition. Researchers evaluated the association between changes in red meat consumption during a 4-year period and subsequent 4-year risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus in US adults. These three studies adjusted for factors like age, family history, race, initial red meat consumption, physical activity and diet quality.2

Reduce Your Risk

What was striking about the results was how a slight increase in meat consumption could dramatically change the risk. Compared with the reference group of no change in red meat intake, increasing red meat intake of more than a half serving per day was associated with a nearly 50% elevated risk in the subsequent 4-year period.2

But the results also seemed to support the positive effects of meat reduction. During the research, the study found further evidence that limiting red meat consumption over time could aid in Type 2 Diabetes prevention.

serving size deck of cards

Currently, the recommended amount of meat consumed per day is about is between 3 and 5 oz per which is about 7g of protein per ounce. But Americans often consume much more than that recommended amount.3

In 2000, total meat consumption (red meat, poultry, and fish) reached 195 pounds per person. That is is  57 pounds above average annual consumption in the 1950s!

Americans are eating more meat overall all. Each American consumed an average of 7 pounds more red meat than in the 1950s, 46 pounds more poultry, and 4 pounds more fish and shellfish. The CDC reported that since 1990, the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes in the United States has risen sharply among all age groups, both sexes, and all racial/ethnic groups. 4

packaged meat

So what happened?

Higher consumer incomes, from the increase in two-income households, coupled with the lowest prices in meat in 50 years in the 1990s contributed to the increase in meat consumption.  And over the years, the meat industry marketed value and convenience products like pre-packaged meats to the ever-time crunched consumer.5

So now that we know better will we make the change? Are we willing to take measures to contribute to long term health benefits and prevention of deadly diseases?

Other Non-Red Meat Options:

Soy: Soy contains protein, isoflavones, and fiber, all thought to provide health benefits. Soy from tofu or tempeh is an excellent source of dietary protein, including all essential amino acids.

tofu tempeh

Lentils and Beans:  Are high in protein and fiber and low in fat, which makes them a healthy substitute for meat. They’re also packed with foliate, iron, phosphorus, potassium and fiber.


Quinoa: This grain is a source of high-quality protein, as it contains all the essential amino acids.


Salmon: Salmon is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help keep blood from forming clots and protect against irregular heartbeats that may cause a heart attack.


Almonds:  Contain fiber, riboflavin, magnesium, iron and calcium. In fact, one serving (about seven almonds) has more calcium than any other type of nut — 22 milligrams.

almonds health

Eggs:  Protein packed, but one large egg has 186mg of Cholesterol. Consider substituting servings of vegetables for servings of meat, or avoid high-fat dairy products for that day.

eggs 1

Read more: Vegetarians May Live Longer 

References: 1

Changes in Red Meat Consumption and Subsequent Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus 2

USDA Portion Guidelines3

CDC Report4

USDA Factbook 5


Want to Live Longer? Cook at Home

We take vitamins, work out and generally practice healthy habits in the quest for living well. And hopefully longer, too. Longevity and health it seems go hand in hand.

After reading a blurb in Women’s Health Magazine stating – “People who cook 5+ times/week are 53% more likely to be alive in 10 years than people who don’t cook” – I had to check it out.


They were referencing a study published in Public Health Nutrition, a Cambridge University journal. A group  of 1,888 men and women over age 65 who lived in Taiwan were evaluated during the course of the study.

At the start of the study, they interviewed each participant about several lifestyle factors, including cooking habits, household circumstances, shopping habits, diet, education, transportation and smoking.

food choices

During the initial survey, researchers found that 43 percent of participants never cooked. Another 17 percent cooked one to two times per week and 9 percent cooked three to five times in a week. Nearly 31 percent cooked five or more times a week.

Ultimately, the researchers found an association between frequent home cooking and longevity.

“The pathways to health that food provides are not limited to its nutrients or components, but extend to each step in the food chain, from its production, to purchase, preparation and eating, especially with others.”


The secret is linked to the act of purchasing and preparing the foods, not simply the nutritional benefits of those foods, as well as  the communal element of a shared meal.

Cooking at home takes time and prep work, but it just might add years to your life!


Huffington Post: Healthy Living

Cambridge University’s: Public Health Nutrition

Grapefruit: Not Just Another Delicious Sub-tropic Fruit

A Common Sense Breakthrough

Lead researcher, Huang-Ge Zhang, D.V.M., Ph.D.  started doing research by using a common sense approach. He considered how our ancestors selected food to eat.

“The fruits and vegetables we buy from the grocery today were passed down from generation to generation as favorable and nutritious for the human body.”

On the flip side, outcomes were not favorable for our ancestors who ate poisonous mushrooms, for example, Zhang added.

“It made sense for us to consider eatable plants as a mechanism to create medical nanoparticles as a potential non-toxic therapeutic delivery vehicle.”


Scientists have found that grapefruits may revolutionize how medical therapies like anti-cancer drugs are delivered to specific tumor cells.

“These nanoparticles, which we’ve named grapefruit-derived nanovectors (GNVs), are derived from an edible plant, and we believe they are less toxic for patients, result in less biohazardous waste for the environment, and are much cheaper to produce at large scale than nanoparticles made from synthetic materials.”

– Huang-Ge Zhang, D.V.M., Ph.D.


It is exciting to see a breakthrough of this type using natural substances. In the coming years, it will be interesting to see the real-life implications. Thanks to science and a delicious sub-tropic citrus!

References: University of Louisville (2013, May 21). Delivery of therapeutic agents by nanoparticles made of grapefruit-derived lipids. Nature Communications, 2013; DOI:10.1038/ncomms2886

Clean Living Could Save Your Life

Proponents of a healthy diet claim that “super-foods” can prevent a wide variety of diseases. Mayo Clinic, the not-for-profit medical practice and medical research group, supports this view.  Particularly as it pertains to disease prevention by adding fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains while limiting unhealthy fats to your

Heart Disease:
Fruits and vegetables are good sources of vitamins and minerals and are low in calories and rich in dietary fiber. Vegetables and fruits contain substances found in plants that may help prevent cardiovascular disease. ­Whole grains are good sources of fiber and other nutrients that play a role in regulating blood pressure and heart health.


Cancer Prevention:
Mayo also advises cessation of smoking, limiting consumption of alcohol to aid in the prevention of some cancers.   Their recommendations also include adding fruits, vegetables while limiting high-fat foods (think processed fast foods).


Rather than a restrictive diet, a diabetes diet known as medical nutrition therapy (MNT)  is a healthy-eating plan. It is rich in nutrients and low in fat and calories, with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Mayo’s research found: a diabetes diet is the best eating plan for most everyone.


While this sounds like common sense and physical activity is also a component:  do you believe that diet can have a major impact on health?

References:  Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER)

Are You Artificially Happy?

Unhappy, There’s a Cure for That…

Artificial Happiness, by Ronald W. Dworkin, M.D., Ph.D., challenges and explores the conventional notions of happiness. What struck me as fascinating was his historical analysis citing: “the medical profession in the 19th century America…saw unhappiness as a normal fact of existence.” Do we now then expect to achieve a perpetual level of happiness? The book takes you through the methodology used to achieve levels of “artificial happiness.” Unhappiness, labeled as a “disease” makes it a treatable problem- able to be remedied by certain practices or medical support.

 Happy Together

Masking Unhappiness

Dworkin proposes that medical professions, and most commonly primary care doctors, use a three pronged approach to eliminating unhappiness (and inducing artificial happiness). The first is through the use of psychotropic drugs, the second through the use of alternative medicine and the third through excessive exercise. None of these are inherently bad, when used appropriately. But the over prescription of medication for mild depression , the engineered approach to using alternative medicine and the overuse of exercise merely mask the symptoms of what is causing the real life internal struggle.


Grounded and Alive

The author claims that unhappiness is a grounding factor in life and can even spur us on toward a better end. If, for instance, your career is unrewarding or unfulfilling, then having that feeling of needing change could cause you to volunteer or find another more rewarding option.

happy hand

So would you want to be happy?

Or even a better question:  am I comfortable with life’s unhappy moments? Perhaps after reading this book, I am now more aware of the consequences of living a surface life. Real pain and real happiness are just that. They are reactions whether negative or positive to life. And living a full life will require such a journey.

Website Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: