Monday, March 5, 2012

The Great Cheese Debate

Oh my!  Busy times here in Dunedin!

Last week I enrolled in an endurance cycling study.  The research will look at the effect of salt supplementation on cycling performance.  To be eligible I needed one endurance cycling event under my belt in the past six months.  

So far, I had my VO2max tested and body fat measured by a skinfold test using calipers.  This was not sexy in any way, shape, or form.  To begin with, Sam, the student researcher, had to make little blue 'x's on my belly, bicep, shoulder blade, quad, and calf.  Then, he had to pinch all these x's with the calipers.  Not cute to have your belly fat pinched by a good looking young guy.

Next, a mask connected to a machine that analyzed my oxygen consumption went over my face for the 15 minute cycling test.  This was not an issue when I was warming up, but about 10 minutes into the test (after the tension had been cranked up) I turned into a drooling mess (all the water that I expired pooled in the bottom of the mask - gross).  On top of that the room was small and had poor ventilation.  So, I got a little on the sweaty side pretty quick.  And, on top of that, the mask caught the sound of my heavy breathing so that I sounded like Darth Vader.

This week I'm going out with the same student researcher to check out the 40 km course we'll do a time trial on for the study.  Unfortunately, coming from a country where we ride on the right side of the road presents some challenges when cycling in a country where they ride on the left side of the road.  I still can't quickly figure out which direction traffic will be coming from!

Eventually, I'll complete two more 80 km rides that will test my sweat rate. Yum.  Compensation for my effort will be $40 gift cards to the grocery store - just enough to buy a banana and a pack of gum (kidding, of course, but have I mentioned how expensive things are here?!).

My own research is, uh, sort of coming along.

We've had a few meetings about the questionnaire that we'll distribute to middle age women in New Zealand.  Usually, we get caught up in semantics.  We're a group of educated folks talking about food in a scientific sense.  We sometimes forget how normal people talk about food!  For example, would a regular person call something a low fat cheese OR a lower fat cheese?  

It gets a little foggy because the average person probably decides if the cheese she's eating is low/lower fat based on what the front of the package says (what the marketing tells the consumer she is eating), not what the nutrition facts label says (what she is specifically eating, in terms of grams of fat, carbohydrate, protein, etc. ).  So, if we want to know people are choosing "healthier" options, do we ask questions that relate to what the packaging says or what the food label says?

Have I lost you yet?  Yes?  Okay, let's leave this research stuff for now and look at pretty pictures instead.  

Check out the post below to read about my tramping trip to Paradise/the Routeburn Track/Mt. Xenicus.


  1. I never thought about that, do I normally choose foods based on the nutrition label or the food label? I think by the end of the grocery store I'm just looking at the food labels for sure.

    The hike looked gorgeous! Exhausting, but gorgeous. And I'm super excited that you're doing one of the endurance tests with the face mask, when we learned the lungs we saw so many pictures/measurements and I've always wanted to do it! Thought, it doesn't sound nearly as cool now that you've experienced it!


    1. This was the second time I had my VO2max tested. The first time was at Marywood with equipment that was a little more sophisticated. It was also running on a treadmill when I was in pretty great shape. Wish I had kept the print out to compare to my results this time... I actually through out my old information right before I moved!