Friday, 19 October 2007

Gates Foundation steps up fight against malaria

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In the worldwide quest to begin the eradication of health and disease issues in some of the poorest countries on earth, the Gates Foundation -- headed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda -- planted a tall order on scientists this week.

Both leaders of the Gates Foundation urged scientists to try and eradicate malaria from the face of the planet instead of trying to find ways of controlling the spread of the disease. Trying to completely get rid of anything biological on a planetary scale is hard to do, but that is what's being urged. Is it even possible?

Melinda Gates did say that it was "a long-term goal; it won't come soon,", noting that it would take quite a while for complete elimination to occur. But, she added that "to aspire to anything less is just far too timid a goal for the age we're in." Based on the resources the Gates Foundation has, she may be right.

Kids falling off bikes costs us $200 Million a year

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My mom worked for a neurological organization when I was growing up, so as a result, we were the kids who weren't allowed to jump on the trampoline or do anything fun without wearing a helmet. In elementary school, this was the equivalent of social suicide, but as I get older, I think my mom might have been on to something. Case in point: A recent study shows that kids falling off their bikes costs the healthcare system $200 Million a year.

Moreover, wearing a helmet reduces a child's risk of brain injury by 85%. So if your kid (or teen) isn't wearing a helmet, why not? Sure, it might make them cringe, but I promise, they'll forgive you one day.

Tips for getting the best massage

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Massages make life so much brighter, if you ask me. I carry a lot of stress in my shoulders and having someone knead it out is pretty awesome. If you love massages as much as I do, Mark's Daily Apple has some tips on how you can get the most bang for your massage buck:
  • Be on time. Tardiness will only cut into your massage time.
  • Speak up: If it's too intense or not intense enough, saying so will make the experience more enjoyable. Speak up if it feels weird or uncomfortable.
  • But don't talk too much. Spending the entire time chatting will just distract you both and take away from the actual massage.
  • Do what you're comfortable with. Don't strip down to the nude if it makes you feel weird. And don't be afraid to ask for a male or female masseuse.
Want to know more?

Throw a low-carb dinner party

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Going low-carb can be a pain when it comes to socializing. While it's usually pretty easy finding a low-carb alternative at a restaurant, it's a whole different ball game when it comes to dinner parties, where you can't pick and choose your dishes.

Here's an idea: throw your own low-carb dinner party! Coming up with a menu might seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be. In fact, here's help from eDiets -- they've put together an extensive article on how to find a theme and come up with dishes that are crowd-pleasing and diet-friendly.

What do you do when you have to entertain and are on a low-carb plan?

Shoe insoles for back pain? Worthless.

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A new study shows that the insoles so many people buy to help ease back pain may not be doing a thing for them. When researchers reviewed a total of 6 different studies including over 2,000 people they found no evidence that shoe insoles do anything to help or prevent back pain. At all.

Basically they found that although insoles are not completely worthless (they do still cushion the foot, and they have helped many people with many issues) as a general rule they are prescribed for the wrong reasons. Sore feet? Sure. Back pain? Not so much.

Fight your sweet tooth with figs

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I definitely have a sweet tooth that I fight on an almost a daily basis, so any article that promises a healthier way to satisfy it always has my immediate attention. And this one had something I didn't really think of before: figs.

Figs have been around for centuries, and amazingly there are over 150 different kinds. They are a good source of dietary fiber, and when used in dessert recipes can be just as satisfying and decadent as more traditional sweets like chocolate and ice cream.

Want to give 'em a shot? Try this recipe for Figs with Port and Toasted Almonds. Sounds good to me!

Daily Fit Tip: Beware the season's most fattening foods

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The cold weather brings cravings for more comforting meals made of heavier foods, which unfortunately also means extra calories. The holidays aren't here yet but they're just around the corner, so if you're looking to head holiday weight gain off at the pass then get into some good habits now. By simply avoiding (or eating in careful moderation) fall's most fattening foods you can go into (and come out of) the holidays without gaining a pound! Now how great would that be?
Halloween Candy
Cream Soup and Hearty Stews
Root Vegetables
Seasonal Beverages
Caramel Apples
Mac & Cheese
Pumpkin desserts

Fit Factor: Slowburn workout

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Last week, on Fit Factor, I told you how to speed up your workout without compromising results. But this week I'm going to talk about something entirely different -- slowing it down. I'm not talking about slowing down you're usual run to a jog or a walk, and I'm not talking about going to slowly at the gym that you end up spending twice the amount of time there -- rather, I'm talking about the Slow Burn workout.

In fact, some feel the slow burn isn't so much a workout as it is a revolution. There's a book, even, called the Slow Burn Fitness Revolution. So, is it truly a revolution? Or a fad? What does it entail?

Continue reading Fit Factor: Slowburn workout

We love to gawk at fit celebs weekly round-up: It isn't easy

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We all know fitness doesn't come effortlessly to anyone. There's hard work and consistency involved in being in shape. Hence the sweatiness. And celebrities are no exception...well, except for the ones who get their bods through a little plastic surgery, but hardly any of them do that, right? Right? This week's celebrity gawking focuses on the fact that, well, it isn't easy.

Jessica Simpson may be getting praise for her toned body again, but she confesses she's lousy at one key component of her regime: jumping rope. Jess claims her lack of rhythm is to blame, and of course her trainer makes her do lots of sets, because trainers are evil like that. She also says if she craves a food, she allows herself a taste, as in, a couple of bites. Livin' large, girl. Now that sounds like it isn't easy.

Lance Armstrong is pretty much the picture of athletic awesomeness, but now that he's training for a marathon, he says running isn't easy. Lance claims riding a bike is more efficient and easier on the body. That's only because he's never seen me ride a bike.

Samantha Harris, host of Dancing With the Stars, resumed working out just two-and-a-half weeks after giving birth. She says her doctor gave her the green light, so she dived in with a yoga class, a cardio sculpting class, a plain old sculpting class... She says, "I'm not trying to drop the weight fast in any capacity." Mmm hmm, whatever you say. I'm thinking the immediate return to exercise isn't, you know...

Lily Allen credits hypnosis for her recent weight loss. The singer dropped many pounds and claims the hypnotism helps her stop eating when she's full and makes her want to get to the gym daily. Allen has blogged about her weight and body issues for a while, and while she's tried to let go of it, she confessed in May that she had "fallen victim to the evil machine." That kind of public weight scrutiny can't be easy.

Forbes interviews the trainers to stars like Jessica Biel and Kimora Lee Simmons for the low-down on how celebs get their bodies looking good. I'll give you a hint: It sure helps to have the time and money to work out zealously with a trainer. There's also photos of swanky gyms the famous people hit. Exercising with a pro in posh digs still isn't easy, but it's easier than the rest of us have it.

HPV test superior to Pap test?

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Let's face it, nobody enjoys going for their yearly Pap test. It's just one of those parts of being an adult that we women do because it's good for our health (and unfortunately way too many women don't bother at all). I assume men feel the same way about prostrate exams. It's not fun, but still we've got to get it done.

The good news is that apparently a new, more effective test to screen for cervical cancer has been developed. A study conducted at McGill University, which is about to published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that the HPV test was able to detect pre-cancerous lesions in up to 94.6% of study participants while the Pap test discovered only 55.4%. That's a pretty major difference, especially where cancer screening is concerned.

Also, according to the article, women who receive negative results from an HPV test, which screens for the HPV virus which causes most if not all cases of cervical cancer, will only have to repeat the exam every 3 years. Unfortunately, those who have the HPV test and receive a positive result will also have to undergo the Pap test to check for pre-cancerous cells. If you want to know more about the study, take a look at the entire article here and for more information on the HPV test, consult your physician.

The Talk: Teaching kids about sexual health

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It's not so hard to talk to kids about nutrition, fitness, and overall health. But when it comes to informing them about sexual health, not-so-hard can become oh-so-scary.

Before you draw a blank about what to say to your kids about sex education, head to the bookstore for a little advance preparation on how to tackle the "where do babies come from" questions. Experts recommend parents pick up a few books, read them, and then begin discussing the "birds and bees." Here are the books they suggest:

It's NOT the Stork by Robie H. Harris
What's the Big Secret? by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown
What's Happening to My Body by Lynda Madaras
The Boy's Body Book by Kelli Dunham

Obesity a byproduct of modern life, says study

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Most of us read regularly that obesity comes from overeating the foods we should not be eating in the first place along with no exercise. Combine those two and you get -- voila -- obesity.

While those are certainly reasons for the extreme chunkiness many of us have, a British study this week says that obesity is simply a byproduct of "modern life."

The study did not go into detail about specific actions that contribute to obesity, but called the phenomenon out as being way more passive that have traditionally been though. The study went on to make the point that humans' biological makeup is out of step with modern surroundings (cars, TVs, etc.). I agree with that completely. I still think that modern food is a huge part of the problem (isn't that a "surrounding?").

Promote wellness, halt breast cancer

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I think there's not a whole lot of difference between practicing healthy habits for general wellness and practicing healthy habits for the prevention of breast cancer. Just check out the points made in this article about warding off the nasty disease that this year will strike about 178,000 American women.

The suggestions seem pretty familiar, don't they? That's because they're generally good for the body. And so it's simple, really. Just live a clean life, shoot for good health, and you'll have a fairly good shot at warding off all sorts of unwanted illness, like breast cancer.

In a nutshell, here's what tops this article's list of healthy habits:
  • Maintain a healthy weight. A 2005 study showed women who gained weight after a breast cancer diagnosis had an increased risk of recurrence. Other studies show overweight women have a greater chance of a first-time breast cancer diagnosis. And countless studies indicate excess weight is bad for the heart, cholesterol, bones, joints, and more. Body Mass Index (BMI), although not a perfect measure, can help you chart your healthy weight.

Continue reading Promote wellness, halt breast cancer

Mix up that fitness bag of tricks

I have a definite bag of tricks when it comes to fitness. In my bag, I've got running, walking, push-ups, a handful of core exercises, some resistance band stuff, and occasionally, some weight lifting. That's about it. It seems enough on the average day. It gets my heart beating, causes me to sweat, and lets me know I've worked some major muscle groups. But sometimes, when I throw something new into my bag, I realize there's so much more I could be accomplishing.

Recently, my mom and I hopped on our bikes and peddled around town for 90 minutes. We never realized how hilly our area is until the burn in our legs made it abundantly clear. It was also clear my core was engaged in a whole new way. My arms were tensing and tightening differently. My butt was sore. My hands were too. And my back -- well, my back is apparently very weak.

What I realize now after mixing up my workout routine is that I need to do it more often. I need to distribute my physical work more evenly so all my muscles benefit. Consistency is good. But so is variety. So I'll stick with what works for me on the average day. When I get a chance to change gears, though, I'm going to embrace a little diversity.

It seems a little variety is not only good for the body -- it also helps us stick with our fitness goals.

Children often overlooked when flu comes to town

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As the U.S. and other countries prepare for the next, coming wave of the flu, are the children in this nation (and others) being overlooked in terms of preparations?

A report this week from the U.S. government stated that children in this country would most likely be primary spreaders of a flu pandemic, as well as targets of the flu. The only problem is that they are -- as a group -- not at the forefront of preparations for dealing with the flu.

Sounds to me like a huge contradiction, yes? Dr. John Bradley of the American Academy of Pediatrics said that "right now, we are behind the curve in finding ways to limit the spread of a pandemic in children even though they are among the most at risk."

Using a stability ball: Dangerous?

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Here's a good case for splurging on your exercise ball: 40-year-old Adam Dunayer was severely injured when the stability ball he was lying on suddenly burst. Adam had a 60-lb weight in each had and was preparing to do a bench press when the ball broke; he hit the ground elbows-first and ended up breaking both of his arms. Now he's got long scars on each arm and has to undergo painful physical therapy to re-learn how to do simple, everyday tasks like opening a bottle.

According to fitness equipment experts, it's natural for exercise balls to wear out over time. But that doesn't mean you should let this happen to you. When you buy a ball for your home, make sure you buy a quality anti-burst one, and replace it after a few years. Watch this video for more tips.

Shocker: most British citizens obese by 2050

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In what could be a really scary proposition for a major, industrialized country, British officials stated that a majority of its citizens could be obese by the year 2050. As a result, the country's health secretary concluded that a "shift" needs to occur in the way the nation tackles obesity.

Similar to this post I wrote this morning, Health Secretary Alan Johnson singled out an environment of abundance and underlying biology for the reasons of increasing obesity -- not eating habits. But, I disagree here -- eating habits are part of that "abundance," yes?

Regardless, the less we walk and the more we drive and the less we eat (good food) and the more we eat (processed, convenience food) are all changing the rules of the obesity game. Oddly, it sounds like the natural order of things.

Spin to Win raises money for diabetes research

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More than 300 people took time out of their work day Thursday to spin on stationary bikes in Washington, D.C. for an event that raised nearly $90,000 for diabetes research.

The event was the second annual Spin to Win put on by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Capitol Chapter. Fox 5 News and Sport & Health were top sponsors and news broadcasters joined teams of riders from local businesses in a little friendly competition. A few riders were pretty serious, showing up in racing garb and breaking 40 mph during their ride.

In the end, it was about bringing hope for a cure for type 1 diabetes. Donations are still being accepted. To donate, click here.

Controversy over cartoon character's death

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When we browse the comics in our local paper over coffee, we expect a few good chuckles interspersed with an occasional rolling of the eyes at overly sappy comics like the Family Circus. What we don't expect is to be bawling our eyes out, which is what some people have been doing after reading the latest installments of Funky Winkerbean. One of the main characters, Lisa Moore, recently died of cancer. She was a wife, mother, lawyer and until now, cancer survivor.

Moore's death has brought about some good -- a charity has even been set up in her name, despite the fact that she's fictitious -- but still, some are outraged that the comic's author brought death, dying and the big 'C' to the funny pages, which people turn to when they want to lighten up. For an interview of author Tom Batiuk by our now-defunct sister blog, click here.

Death is just as much as part of life as laughter, and I think Batiuk was brave killing off a beloved character to bring about awareness. But I can see why some would be put off by something like this in the funnies. Nonetheless, I'm still reading -- I'm curious to know what you think.

View Poll

Scientists looks for cancer clues in Arizona and Nevada

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Several children in the Nevada and Arizona have developed strange cases of leukemia, and officials are trying to determine what the cause may be. So far, the search is centering on environmental factors.

Researchers from around the area are looking at genetic changes that happened during infancy (or before birth) as well as anything that may have changed before the mysterious onset of leukemia in this odd cluster in the desert.

Since 1997, 17 children have fallen ill from leukemia while three have died, and the water and environmental factor correlation still have produced no results, but progress is being made, according to the researchers. One thing that has been discovered -- a high amount of Tungsten has been discovered in the area where the leukemia cluster is contained.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Old virus, new findings

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The adenovirus has been around for years, causing cold and flu-like symptoms, including some stomach flus, is gaining lots of attention lately -- for being potentially deadly. New and improved testing methods has revealed that the adenovirus is prevalent and sometimes fatal in healthy people, often fatal in those with a compromised immune system -- those awaiting a bone marrow transplant, for instance.

But knowing the adenovirus is the first step to stopping it in its tracks. In fact, vaccines have already been contracted for certain strains. In the meantime, what can you do? I know it sounds cliche but washing your hands is the best way to prevent transmission of any virus.

For more info on the adenovirus and recent findings, check out this article.

Jillian Michaels' 10-Ton challenge

Jillian Michaels, one of my favourite celeb trainers (besides Fitz, of course!), has issued a challenge -- to help her clients lose 10 tons by November 23rd. Sounds lofty, right? But she and the her followers have already lost more than half that -- 5.2 tons. And judging by her stellar performance as leader of the black team on the Biggest Loser, I'd say she's a pretty reputable source for weight-loss information.

However, there's a catch -- to accept the challenge you have to pay ... about $4 a week. You might think it's worth it, but as for me, I'll stick to watching the Biggest Loser for motivation. What about you?

Half of world's population to have an allergy by 2015

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Allergies were fierce in my area this summer, and continue to be even into October. It may become worse in the year ahead though, and researchers are now predicting that half the world's population will have some kind of allergy by 2015.

Yikes -- that's billions (with a 'b') of new allergies in the coming eight years or so. What is causing such a surge? We're not talking about just natural allergies like to ragweed, but to chemicals like perfumes, laundry detergent and cleaning fluid.

Indoor pollution (dust mites, pets, etc.) and outside pollution (smog, ozone, nitrogen dioxide) will both contribute to the rise in the coming year. Get our your gas mask now.

Do you know your 'athlons'? A guide

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Words ending in the syllables 'athlon' tend to send chills up my spine -- being someone who likes to take fitness at my own pace, I'm always wary of races, particularly looooooong ones. But not all 'athlons' are the same. Do you know your 'athlons'? Fitsugar has a quick guide to them:
  • Duathlon: Involves two sports -- Running, biking, and then another bout of running
  • Biathlon: Also involved two sports, but usually they're cross-country skiing or running and rifle shooting
  • Triathlon: A race with swimming, biking and running -- distances vary. The Iron Man is a popular triathlon.
  • Quadathlon: Involves swimming, kayaking, running and cycling.
  • Pentathlon: A race consisting of five events -- usually running, swimming, pistol shooting, fencing and horseback riding. What an ... um .... interesting blend of sports.
  • And they forgot Decathlon (typically for males): Consists of 10, count 'em, 10 track and field events over two days. Events including running, javelin, shot-putting and so on.
  • Heptathlon (typically for females): This one consists of seven track and field events.
Are you into any of the 'athlons'? Which one and why?

Calling all baby boomers: Workout tips just for you

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Does it sometimes seem like the fitness industry is geared towards peppy twenty-somethings with boundless energy and enviable waistlines? Well, we're heading into a time when today's baby boomers will be retiring and starting to focus on their health, and I imagine the face of fitness will be changing too. In fact, I think it already is -- there are dozens of fitness programs, websites and DVD devoted solely to working out after 50. Like this one. And these. And these.

If you're a baby boomer who's thinking of starting or re-starting a workout routine, keep these tips in mind:
  • Stretch, to prevent injury and soreness.
  • Workout a bit every day -- don't try to compress everything into the weekend
  • Listen to your body -- stop when it's time to
  • Take lessons to ensure you do it right.
Want to know more? Click here.

Abortion numbers fall worldwide

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A new survey this week stated that global abortions (proactively induced) dropped from 46 million in 1995 to less than 42 million eight years later in 2003.

Why the decline in an age where the world gained millions of new citizens? Hard to tell, but oddly, the largest drops came from countries where the procedure is legal.

It's estimated that 20 percent of all worldwide pregnancies ends in abortion, and that abortion rates were not significantly altered by the legality of the procedure in the country where it occurred. Of the total, only about 6.6 million abortions were performed in developed nations like the U.S. 92 percent were done using safe methods in developed countries.

Some food myths to ignore

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All of the conflicting information about food that is circulating out there -- what you should eat, what you shouldn't, what's going to make you fat, what's going to give you cancer -- can be a bit maddening. How is anyone ever supposed to know which of the information to believe?

Perhaps this article on nutritional myths may help. Written by a nutritionist who explains that many client's were getting grilled about the foods they'd been recommended, the author tries to set the records straight on a few common misconceptions about what you should and shouldn't be eating.

Five food rules that you should break are discussed in the piece, so if you're interested in reading the nutritionist's information about whether red meat causes cancer, if salt consumption really leads to high blood pressure, whether too much protein will damage kidneys, and why butter isn't so terrible after all, take a look at the full article here.

Some aging brains stay sharp - but why?

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It's always amazed me to see some older folks I know seem as mental sharp as a tack while other fade into mental forgetfulness at the same age. Why is this? It seems as though the brains of some shift strategies as age increases in order to keep that mind alert and in focus.

Scientists are wanting to determine what differences these aging, sharp minds have in order to possibly leverage what they find into a method to keep all aging minds on the sharp side.

The scientists wanting to make a discovery here say that this has nothing to do with diseases like Alzheimers, but ensuring the mental faculties of a longer-living public stay with them along with their physical age. Nobody would want to live 30 years without his or her mind at close to full function, right?

Postpartum depression rising, in need of new strategies

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It's estimated that 20 percent of new mothers end up suffering from postpartum depression, and that many of them can develop more serious psychological problems if the depression remained untreated.

As such, the U.S. House of Representatives are strongly suggesting that health agencies look deeper into the problem in order to prevent further encroachment in addition to deeper studies into the psychological consequences of abortions.

With the bill passing the House by a 382-3 vote, it will now go to the Senate for debate. and now goes to the Senate. In the bill is a $3 million stipend for use in increasing awareness of postpartum depression and the anxiety and irritability it can cause.

Addicted to water?

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Recently I came across this very interesting article in the New York Times about a woman who was seemingly addicted to water -- she would carry several water bottles with her everywhere, never going more than a few minutes without a drink and making frequent visits to the bathroom. Overnights she would even drink, sometimes more than a gallon, before morning.

The scary thing is that she had been that way as long as she could remember but had never understood why -- it took a doctor taking a special interest when when she was 38 years old and in the hospital for something else to finally solve the mystery.

For that woman the issue was a hormonal deficiency and the fix was as simple as a daily nose-spray prescription. But can a person actually be addicted to water? According to the article the answer is yes -- it's called psychogenic polydipsia and it's defined as an uncontrollable compulsion to drink, usually due to mental illness.

And to think that most have a hard time making ourselves enough water!

Meet the Bloggers: Chris Sparling

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You may have seen some of his posts already ... now meet the guy behind them -- Chris Sparling. Chris was a frequent contributor to our now-retired Life Sciences blogs, where he shared his insights on health, fitness and his favourite exercises.

1. Who are you?
Chris Sparling

2. Age you tell people you are: Closing in on 30. Fast.

3. Where you're from and where you live now:
I'm originally from Providence, Rhode Island. I've lived in Boston, L.A. and as of this writing, I kind-of-sort-of call Connecticut home.

4. Do you have a personal blog?
No. I don't have the attention span for it, really. I'm sorry, did you ask me something?

5. What is your day job, or rather, what do you do when you're not fitness blogging? I'm a screenwriter and filmmaker. I also teach courses on these topics at a local college.

6. How long have you been blogging with That's Fit and what is your favorite post? I'm relatively new to That's Fit -- I think it's been two weeks since I started. Yeah, that seems about right. A favorite post? Probably "The 10 People You'll Find in Any Gym."

7. Do you have a specific fitness background or are you a mere mortal who's just passionate about being healthy and fit -- and living to write about it?
I was raised by gladiators, pushed to physical limits and taught only three virtues by which to live: "Crush the enemy, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of the women." Oh wait, that was Conan the Barbarian, not me. My fitness story goes like this: I used to be a personal trainer, and I've been a gym rat for the past fifteen years. For several years, I trained in ju-jitsu, and I also tried boxing for a little while. It's a great workout. Fun, too. That is, with the exception of the whole getting punched in the face part.

8. What's the worst fitness or diet idea you fell for? Rocket Fuel. It's embarrassing to even say this, but I can recall my friend and I taking a supplement by this name. It purpotedly stoked your internal flame, making your workouts that much more intense. The reality of the matter, however, was that Rocket Fuel was just plain hot. The stuff burned your mouth, kind of like a liquid version of a hot ball candy. I guess you could say it did work in some round-about sort of way, though. It made your mouth so freakin' hot that you blasted through your set -- just to get to your water bottle that much quicker.

9. What motivates you to exercise and stay healthy? A buddy of mine had a grandfather who lived to be 87 years old. Up until he was somewhere around 85 or so, the guy was as strong as an ox. There was actually one instance when someone in my friend's family needed a refrigerator moved. Did they call my friend (a guy in his twenties) to move it? Nope. Did they call my friend's father (a guy in his fifties) to move it? Uh-uh. No, they called my friend's 85-year-old grandfather to move this damn refrigerator!! Now, I'm not sure that I want to be moving major appliances around when I'm in my 80s, but I know quite well that I plan to be strong enough to be considered for the job.

10. Who's your favorite fitness role model? The Jolly Green Giant. No one can pull off a toga made of leaves like that guy can.

11. What's your exercise "M.O." -- Gym workouts or outdoor endeavors; team or solitary sports? Gym workouts most of the time. I like mixing things up once and a while by taking my workout outside, but more times than not I'm indoors.

12: Choice of fitness gear: Baggy sweats or sultry spandex? Neither. Shorts are my choice. Baggy sweats are okay during the winter, especially here in New England. As for sultry spandex, thankfully I never lost a bet involving gym wardrobe.

13. What's your favorite fitness activity? Circuit training with weights and hitting the heavy bag.

14. Do you have any non-fitness-related, non-blogging hobbies? I play a little guitar (well, the guitar is full sized ... I mean to say that I play it a little bit here and there), hang out with friends and/or my fiance, and ocassionally play some basketball.

15. Confession time! What nonhealthy food do you eat -- or what unhealthy habit do you indulge in -- that would get you banned from That's Fit? What's your excuse for doing so?
I tend to take one day or one half-day a week to sort of reward myself for eating healthy on the other six days. So, when that day rolls around, all bets are pretty much off. Pizza, chocolate, cookie dough ... you name it. Plus, if I happen to hang out with the boys on that same night, I may be doing a little bit of drinking. Sometimes a lot of drinking. And, sometimes a lot of puking. If I look hard enough, I can see traces of pizza, chocolate, and cookie dough. Hooray for honesty!!
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Salt may be headed for trans fat fate

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My six-year-old had a friend over after school the other day, and I eagerly served up a variety of fruit for snack time. It went pretty well. My own two guys ate watermelon, apple slices, and strawberries. And although our visitor's first reaction was, "I don't like vegetables," we were able to coax him into consuming a little fresh fruit.

Our guest chose watermelon. And he had a special request: "Can I have some salt?" he asked. Joey jumped right up and grabbed the salt container we rarely use in our house. Our new friend was happy.

So, what's the deal with salt? Is it OK to indulge a little? Or is it becoming a no-no to sprinkle our foods with tiny, salty white granules? According to a recent study, we'd be wise to adopt a low-sodium diet. It could cut the risk of heart disease by as much as 25 percent.

Continue reading Salt may be headed for trans fat fate

How much do you really know about tea?

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Tea sales are growing every year (according to the Tea Association of American tea sales have increased every year for the last 13 years!) and it's no wonder considering both the ever-increasing variety and choices we seem to have plus the positive health effects we hear about it all the time in the news.

Tea may seem simple enough, but there's more to it than you might think. For example I was surprised to learn in this article that white tea actually has more antioxidants than all the other kinds (green included) and that all standard tea comes from a single very specific plant. There's way too much in the article for me to fit it all here, but if you're interested in tea at all it's totally worth the read!

Understanding the vegetarian food pyramid

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For a lot of people it's tough figuring out what kinds of food to eat as well as how much. But for vegetarians, it can be even harder as a major staple of their diet -- protein derived from eating meat -- is removed from the list of foods they can eat.

If you're a new veggie and you're wondering what exactly you need to consume each day to maintain a healthy diet, this vegetarian food pyramid is a great place to start. Obviously, it's pretty similar to a traditional food pyramid (and shouldn't be confused with a vegan food pyramid) but offers examples of what you should eat to replace meat in your diet.

This article goes into a bit of depth explaining how the pyramid works. Basically, you should eat the foods at the top (vegetable fats and oils, sweets and salts) sparingly, and munch on more of each of the subsequent levels. Staples like whole-grain bread, cereal, rice and pasta are at the bottom of the pyramid, so you should include lots of these in your meals and snacks each day.

Remember though that everyone is different and while the pyramid is a useful general guide, it may be a good idea to chat with a nutritionist about your own personal dietary needs.

Advice is plentiful on shin splint topic

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I wrote the other day about my recently-developed shin splints and asked readers to send their words of wisdom my way. A few did. Then I sent an e-mail to my friends and family about the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K event I hope to run in less than one week. Hoping my leg pain doesn't prevent me from pounding the pavement in the name of breast cancer awareness, I was in search of even more advice. I got it.

It's pretty good stuff, all the insight I've gathered. And I'm sharing it with you, just in case you need to know, today or in the future. Here goes.

A friend and neighbor says, "Ice bath for about 20 minutes twice a day. Use a large (very large!) bucket full of ice water. Submerge the shins. It only feels like they might just freeze off for the first 3 or 4 minutes, then it gets so numb you can't feel it. Good luck!"

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New genes found to slow cancer, aging

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Another notch in the goalpost for genetic research, as a new study involving worms has identified some genes that not only affect the aging process, but are apparently involved in preventing cancer as well.

Although this study was performed on worms, many of the genes found to prevent aging and cancer development are known to have counterparts in the human genome, according to University of California, San Francisco scientists.

Some of the genes studied promoted cell proliferation (which helps cancer cells spread) to cell apoptosis (cell suicide), which helps the body weed out and destroy faulty cells -- along with tumor cells.

From the doctor's mouth: Tips for natural healing

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If you asked your doctor what he or she does personally to prevent health problems, you'd probably hear answers like exercise, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and get plenty of sleep. But when Prevention asked well-known holistic and natural practitioners from around the world what they do to stay healthy, there were some interesting answers.

For instance, one holistic dentist eats fibrous foods every day to keep teeth clean and to give his gums a healthy massage. An integrative physician in Switzerland refuses to every say anything more critical to himself than he would to a colleague and banishes negative thoughts to improve stamina. And an Ayurvedic doctor eats an egg each day for energy. What kinds of things do you do to stay healthy, naturally?

Sanitized tapeworm: Urban myth, or weight-loss wonder?

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Here's an appalling example of how far people are willing to go for weight-loss: The sanitized tapeworm as a weight-loss tool. You know how you used to quip that your cousin must have a tapeworm because they ate so much and yet never gained an ounce? Well, someone decided to capitalize on that, and started offering a baby tapeworm to people to swallow -- then tapeworm then eats your food. This first became a fad in the 1800s and luckily hasn't come back with much attention (that I can see) but there are people out there willing to try it!

Here's the problem with the tapeworm diet -- a tapeworm is a harmful medical condition. Doing so would be like injecting yourself with a severe stomach virus in order to lose 10 pounds in a couple of days. Tapeworms don't just eat your food -- they eat your nutrients, making you malnourished ... and with a grotesque, fluid-filled belly!

I'm sorry to say but there's just no way to lose weight and maintain your weight loss without cutting out or really reducing your intake of junk food. So the sooner you accept that weight loss is hard work, the sooner you'll shed the pounds.

DIY dentistry in Britain

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"I'm in the middle of pulling that one out, too," says a man from this NYT article about a sore tooth in the back of his mouth. I can't imagine being in the process of pulling out your own tooth. It seems like you should be about to pull it out, or you should be done pulling it out! But in Britain, more and more people are resorting to do-it-yourself dentistry as the country finds itself with a shortage of public dentists and too few citizens privately insured.

Those who don't have what it takes to pull out their own teeth are taking trips out of the country; dental care is cheaper and they can have a holiday at the same time. But many others are left without the funds to do much of anything but wait in long lines, buy temporary dental supplies from the drugstore, or suffer. Ouch.

Inspired to take care of your own teeth? (I think I may go floss right now.) Check out these healthy teeth tips from Mayo Clinic.

Fitness solutions for small business owners

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I've never owned my own business, only witnessed a relative go through the motions from a distance. Being an entrepreneur can be all-consuming, leaving little time and energy for regular fitness. Yet exercise has many positive side effects any business leader would desire -- stress relief, a fit body, a clearer mind to make those big decisions.

Smart Money talked to a few entrepreneurs and identified strategies to make exercise a priority:

  • The Workout Meeting: One business owner swears by it. She brainstorms business ideas with a member of her advisory board while jogging. Those endorphins spark creativity.
  • Schedule Fitness: You are the boss, so make sure exercise makes the calendar. Even better, pay to bring a fitness instructor to the office so participating staff may benefit. This small effort can truly rally the troops.
  • Fitness-Friendly Space: If you need a shower in the office and a small space to park your bike or set-up a weight bench and a cardio machine, find it. Make sure the business space can accommodate your fitness style.

To all the entrepreneurs out there, please share your fitness wisdom with us!

Overweight, asthmatic kids = possible hospital stay

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If your child has been admitted to the emergency room recently, hopefully he or she was not admitted to the hospital for an extended stay as a result.

But, if your child is overweight and made that ER trip, he or she probably had a higher possibility of admission according to a new report published in the journal Pediatrics.

This difference hold true regardless of illness severity, stated the report. Okay, then -- what's responsible for the difference? The answer may or may not surprise you: asthmatic activity.

In other words, obese kids respond more slowly to "acute exacerbations" of breathing difficulties, the main one of which is asthma.

Americans know the Big Mac better than the 10 commandments

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Can you name all the 10 commandments? I sure can't, but seeing that I didn't grow up in a religious family, my only real exposure to them was the movie of the same name (and I fell asleep watching it.) Don't worry -- I do have a point here. Recent studies show that Americans are more proficient at naming the ingredients in a Big Mac and naming the members of the Brady Bunch better than they are at naming the 10 commandments.

Surprising? I don't think so. But even though I'm not a church-goer, this news is a bit disconcerting. Is this to say that we know fast food and TV better than we know basic morals and ethics? Or is it just a reflection of the fact the Religion isn't as big a institution in our society as it once was? What do you think?

Study says pollution responsible for up to 40% of deaths worldwide

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It's not a secret that pollution isn't good for the planet or the many creatures that inhabit it, but still I find the results of the study reported on here are absolutely mind-blowing. According to a study conducted at Cornell University by a professor of ecology and agricultural sciences along with a team of graduate students, various forms of pollution can be blamed for up to 40% of deaths across the globe.

Numbers that large offer a pretty scary wake-up call. Water, soil and air pollution are the biggest killers, with air pollution alone being blamed for up to 3 million deaths a year. The piece points out that toxins in the environment can lead to a range of potentially deadly health problems including cancer, immune system defects, birth defects and more.

I think that this sort of news really brings home that fact that we all need to think more about not only what we put into our bodies but also what we're expelling into the environment, as eventally a lot of that junk will end up in our bodies anyway. What do you think?

The oldest man to climb Mt. Everest

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Mt. Everest is a dangerous place to be no matter what your age, but a small group of Japanese men have been jostling for an especially dangerous title -- the oldest man to reach the peak. The current record holder is 71 years old, but Yuichiro Miura is in the midst of a three year training regimen that will include the climb to the top, at age 75.

Though there is some bickering about method, there's no doubt that these men are in great physical shape for their age. While their country is credited with having the longest lifespans on Earth, these men (and women -- the oldest woman to climb Everest, at age 63, is from Japan as well) work hard to accomplish their goal.

It's really inspiring, actually, (even if it seems a little crazy) the idea of not letting barriers get in the way of your dream. Whether you're young or young at heart, you don't have to face the formidable Mt. Everest to get a taste of mountaineering. Learn more about the sport and where smaller peaks can be found at the ABC-of-Mountaineering.

Online glossary helps parents better understand autism

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Every now and then, kids can do things that seems a it may make you wonder if it's something you should be concerned about, or whether it's just one of those little quirks kids sometimes have. Because signs of conditions on the autism spectrum can be so subtle and so varied, they're often hard to spot by the untrained eye. Autism Speaks, an organization dedicated to the condition, recently developed a video glossary to help educate the parents and the general public on the common signs of autism.

I spent a few minutes going through it, and it's really easy to use, as well as being very informative. I can see it being used by parents at home, but also by teachers trying to help parents better understand their child's condition. If you're interested, you can look at the glossary here. Unfortunately, it doesn't yet support all browsers, but they'll be adding more soon.

Healthy french fries are possible: just bake them!

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Hamburgers and french fries are a staple of the American landscape. The combination tastes good and can be found virtually anywhere in the country, from home kitchens to restaurants to street carts.

But with that food love comes a plethora of calories, fat and other nastiness that may taste good, but isn't really all that good for you. Many nutrition-conscious hamburger fans have turned to non-meat alternatives (which taste pretty good once you get past the mental block), but what about french fried potatoes?

Ever thought of cooking those thinly sliced potatoes in the oven instead of in the deep fryer? Try this: coat a little aluminum foil with some olive oil, line up those potato sticks doused with garlic powder and paprika (for color) and there you have it -- great tasting french fries that are baked without trans fat oils and without all that soaked-in deep fried oil taste. They'll taste more like potatoes than oil and are healthy as well.

[Thanks, P. Smith]
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What fitness advantages do celebrities really have?

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Do you think your workout would be more fun and interesting if you had the same personal trainer as your favorite celebrity and even worked out in the same gym? Do you think they really have it that much better and easier than the rest of us? I'm half torn on that question myself, because although they do have unlimited funds (I would soooo have a personal chef to cook me wonderful healthy dishes for every meal!) but no matter how you scramble it weight loss and fitness are still hard work -- you can't just "order up" a fit physique.

The truth is celebrities go through the same sorts of things we do, and celebrity trainers follow much the same principles for their famous clients as they do their non-famous ones. Concepts like getting into a rhythm and making a habit of fitness, finding things that are fun to do, and realizing that it's a daily conscious effort are key.

Some things are just human, money and fame or not!