Thursday, 4 January 2007

Tips for waking up and getting energized

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Here's a FitList sure to appeal to those of us who can't seem to crawl out of bed without that morning haze about us. I don't know about you, but especially around this time of year it takes me forever to finally climb out from under the sheets. But there are a few exercises available which help wake up the body and get you more energized.

The aptly named Bed Pretzel technique is similar to a runner's stretch in bed. Here's how they describe it: "Lie flat on your back in bed, bend one knee and draw it close to your chest. Then slowly bring the entire bent leg acr oss the body to the opposite side, gently twisting the spine." This will help wake up your spinal cord.

Everyone is familiar with the Bend and Reach. As pictured, all you have to do is get out of bed (the hardest part) and reach one arm over your head while stretching out your side. Be wary though: if you haven't ever done something like this then it could be easy to overdo it and hurt yourself. Otherwise these wake-up calls could energize your mornings better than that double shot espresso! Read here for more tips.

Fat loss in a pill, truth or fiction?

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So there's no argument that this is the single biggest time of the year for new weight loss plans and renewed conviction, but there is some argument over the many diet pills that are now lining the shelves in thicker numbers than ever before. The majority of weight-loss pills out there make some kind of promise to speed up your metabolism, because if your metabolism is going faster you'll burn more calories, right? Not really, according to this article at least.

The argument isn't so much that the theory itself is wrong, but more that it's been outrageously exaggerated. The truth? Yes, you will burn more calories in a day -- like 2 more. Who knows how many extra calories really get burned in a day as a result of a metabolism-boosting pill, but the point is that it's such an insignificant number it really won't help you lose weight.

So a new resolution to lose weight and get in shape is awesome, but when making it a reality consider steering clear of the many gimmick weight loss pills you'll see everywhere. Unless, of course, you find one that really helps you feel less hungry, or gives you extra energy for working out -- just don't count on it working miracles and burning all kinds of extra calories while you sleep!

Tips on starting a new diet

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Dieting is tough. It takes dedication and perseverance. A good start is essential, because it's at the beginning of your journey that you formulate your goals, concoct a plan and find inspiration to help you over the long road ahead. A diet is a major life change, and you have to adjust your life to fit these new habits.

If you're starting a diet, or are thinking of starting one, check out these 9 tips for starting on your weight-loss journey. Of particular importance is the need to be realistic in your journey. You will have setbacks and you may never be able to fit into a size 4 dress -- acknowledge this and wor k with your limitations.

What's been helpful to you when starting a diet?

Daily Fit Tip: Eat your breakfast

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Did your mother tell you that Breakfast was the most important meal of the day? She was right. Breakfast gets your brain -- not to mention the rest of your body -- going in the morning. With something in your stomach as you take on the day, you'll be able to think more clearly, you'll concentrate better and you'll have more energy.

Eating breakfast is important, especially if you're trying to lose weight. I know it doesn't make sense -- that eating more can lead to losing more weight -- but it's the truth. People who don't eat breakfast are more likely to overeat later in the day. Also? Breakfast sets your metabolism for the rest of the day, and if your body feels like it's in starvation mode first thing in the morning, it's going to store every bit of food you eat as fat.

Now there's some food for thought.

7 fat facts (bet you don't know 'em all)

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I wonder, in the list of most commonly used words in 2006, where "fat" ranks on the list? I know it's not the most common, but it's gotta be up there! Seems like all we ever hear about is how fat everybody is getting, how much fat is in our food, what kinds of fat are good and what kinds of fat are bad...

So let's talk about it some more! This article lists 7 facts about fat, some of which I actually didn't know. Like the fact that body fat attracts cells that promote an inflammation response in the body?

I know fat has some very necessary and positive functions, but that one isn't good at all!

Picture it: Here's what 200 calories look like!

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We can read labels and count calories all day long, but getting the big picture on what exactly 200 of them look like is something valuable in itself. That's why this site is so interesting: it features over 70 pictures of food worth 200 calories!

Sorted from low to high calorie density, all images include the number of grams particular foods contain to equal 200 calories. Whether it is 308 grams of canned sweet corn, 196 grams of low fat yogurt, or a picture of one and a third hotdog, just about everything shown is a practical ev eryday food.

All of a sudden that spoonful of peanut butter seems a little more incriminating. Like they say, a picture's worth a thousand words (but thankfully not calories).

Hate your boss? Here's why

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Are you stressed out at work -- miserable everyday because you can't stand your boss? It's more than just sitcom fodder. Employees who work for tyrants are more likely to experience exhaustion, job tension, nervousness and depressed mood.

A recent study found that more than 30% of employees got the "silent treatment," weren't given credit when due, and had promises broken by their supervisor. More than 20% said their boss made negative comments about them to other employees or managers, while also blaming others to cover up mistakes and minimize embarrassment.

So what can you do if your boss sucks? Stay visible at work, making sure employers notice your strengths and talents. Also, try an optimistic approach -- even if your current supervisor is a jerk, you'll want the next one to know what you can do for the company. Lastly, if your boss is more than just a bad manager, and is actually abusive, don't stand for it -- look for help from your human resources department, or seek outside legal advice.

(Thanks to Boing Boing for the link)

What to do with all those Christmas fruitcakes

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Are you a fruitcake lover? Well, the edible kind, of course? Many of us either receive or give fruitcakes for the holidays, and just as many of us either use them as doorstops, paperweights or boat anchors as well. Why do we despise fruitcakes so much? Again, I'm talking about the edible ones.

Well, because they are heavy and kind of, um, distasteful if you get me meaning. I kind of fear to look at the actual nutrition facts since I would probably find more preservatives in there outside of a CSI episode.

Want some great ideas on how to properly care for fruitcakes? Try these suggestions on for size.

Do skinny girls make the subway late?

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One of the most annoying things about relying on public transportation is that it never seems to arrive on time when you need it to. According to an analysis of statistic from NYC's Metro Transit Authority, skinny girls could be one of the major reasons your train gets delayed.


It's not as out there as it sounds. "Sick customer" is listed as the Number 3 cause of disruptions between October 2005 and October 2006. According to MTA personnel, these ill passengers are often women who faint during the morning rush hour after going on crash diets.

As reported by New York's Early AM newspaper, "You have women trying to get their bodies tight for the summer and they won't eat," said Asim Nelson, a Transit emergency medical technician based in Grand Central Station. "Not eating for three or four days, you are going to go down. If you don't eat for 12 hours you are going to get weak."

So have some breakfast, and quit holding up everyone else's commute!

(Thanks to Gawker for the link)

Small town "gets lost" and sheds 10,000 pounds

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2006 was a productive year for the citizens of Jackson, Alabama. Back in January of last year several of the town's citizens came together and started a widespread weight-loss campaign called "Get lost in Jackson" geared towards helping the town become healthier. The original goal was for 2,006 total pounds lost by the end of the year -- but they passed that mark in the first month! One member of the town even referred to the phenomenon as a "tsunami that overtook us." By the end of last month the "pound count" had re ached 10,000.

It sounds like a cool idea, offering monthly prizes and all kinds of education and support. And are they finished now that they've hit such a remarkable milestone? Nope, many of the residents are already going for the 2007 round.

Parkinson's disease gets 'the patch'

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Sufferers of Parkinson's Disease may soon have a once-a-day patch to help with the treatment of their condition. A clinical trial shows that the new "patch" is a safe and effective treatment for early Parkinson's disease.

The patch's actual name -- transdermal rotigotine -- will be sold under the brand name Neupro -- and it's already sold in Europe by manufacturer Schwarz Pharma. The patch's effectiveness -- according to the leader of the clinical trial -- is that it provides a continuous, steady delivery of an effective Parkinso n's drug.

A family that plays together, stays fit together

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Exercise can be a four letter word to small children. Often it means that mommy or daddy are taking time for themselves, something small children don't always appreciate. While it's important that parents have a consistent exercise routine, there are ways to work activity into your day and involve your kids at the same time. After all, as your child's most important role model, don't you want to instill the love of physical activity?

Though your child is unlikely to love dancing to aerobics in front of the TV and probably isn't welcome at the gym, being active as a family just takes a little creativity. Have you ever spent a half hour playing tag with a four-year-old? I have no scientific data, but I bet it rivals a walk on the treadmill. Hide-and-seek, kickball, bike rides, or nature hikes are all activities that many children love. While we sometimes look at exercise as a chore, children love to be active. More importantly, they love to spend time with you.

So the next time you're focusing on your fitness, take a look at your child. Have they been outside today? Have they had 60 minutes or more of exercise? Take some time to foster in them what you encourage yourself to do every day, knowing that the ideas you instill today are likely to become good habits in adulthood.

Healthy school lunches for healthy kids

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As part of your New Year's resolution, you've committed to eating healthier in 2007. Does that resolution carry over to your school-age kids? It should -- eating healthy is just as, if not more, important for them. So why are you still filling their lunch bags with sugary, refined and processed foods, when you could be setting the stage for a lifetime of healthy eating?

When they start back at school after Christmas break, this article suggests that you send them off with lunches packed with nutrient-rich snacks . Some suggestions include fruits and veggies, with dressings and dips for the picky eaters, nuts, yogurt, whole grain snacks, naturally-sweetened goodies like applesauce, string cheese and much more.

What healthy snacks have your kids been eating?

More youngsters using condoms according to new study

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For all the talk that teenage pregnancies and STDs increasing among the young citizens of the U.S., two new studies that were taken 10 years apart in Britain says that there's been a substantial increase in the rate of condom use, particularly among young people.

Of course, these studies were conducted in Britain -- not the U.S. Aside from that, an interesting sidenote to both studies shows that condom use is inconsistent among people who report high rates of new sexual partners. The more you sleep around is correlated with inconsistent condom use -- which is really the op posite of what it should be, yes?

New high-tech mammography promises better detection

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Good news for women in the fight against breast cancer -- new and better detection technology is on the horizon.

Digital mammography, which to the patient looks and feels like conventional mammography, is growing across the nation. Medical professionals are finding that this particular form of screening is better at detecting abnormalities in women under 50, young women with dense breast tissue, and premenopausal women.

Other new technologies aren't far behind. Cone Beam Breast Computed Tomography (CBBCT) takes over 300 pictures of a woman' s breast, then creates a 3-D image for examination. (As an added benefit, with this test, there are no glass plates to be smashed between!) The test can also examine tissue along the rib and into the armpit area, places traditional mammography has trouble seeing.

Doctors are hopeful that this new technology will be another powerful weapon in the war on breast cancer. But, they remind us, don't wait for new high-tech equipment to arrive in your doctor's office before you get your mammogram. Women 40 and above should be screened every 1-2 years.

For guys: Get lean and cut, not bulky

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A bulky body is what you see in something like the World's Strongest Man competitions. They're bulging in places many of us didn't know muscles existed. But if you're looking for a slim and muscularly cut body where you can actually put your arms down to your side, then AskMen has a feature outlining the tips on getting cut without the bulk.

First, they have some things to avoid: eating all that you can and avoiding cardio for example. Guys who are aiming for the bodybuilding beefcake look usually eat everything but the kitchen sink. But getting your cardiovascular workouts in an d monitoring your diet are key to this particular mode of training.

The second part outlines what you should do and talks about the exercises needed to get cut. Things like supersets, circuit training and cardio sprint training are talked about in greater detail. A lot of times it is really easy to glance at an article like this and get overwhelmed. However, it's not uncommon to take bits and pieces out to implement in your own way that suits you best. So give it a look and find your vibe that makes it work for you.

Full-fat dairy products cause lower weight?

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This is one of those studies that sounds good good to be true -- full-fat dairy products being linked to low weight and all that. Sounds like the exact opposite of what the headline should read, right?

But new research shows that consuming full-fat dairy product leads to weight loss over time. I'm not sure how the researchers isolated that single cause with most likely tons of other variables in the mix, but the results stands.

Recent studies has even shown that the consumpt ion of milk, yogurt and other dairy foods might help regulate body fat -- and this new study seems to drive home that point in particular. I'm still not convinced though -- the damage of overindulging in too much dairy has far worse effects than just weight.

Reading weight-loss articles can be unhealthy

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When I'm in the supermarket check-out line, I typically bypass the celebrity gossip rags in favor of the latest Fitness, Shape or Self magazine editions. I like reading about weight loss journeys, the newest workout fads and the latest on nutrition. I like learning about new diets and getting recipe ideas for how to make my cooking mor e heart -- and waist -- friendly. But for teenagers, reading these magazines, particularly the diet articles, may actually be unhealthy.

This study shows that teenage girls who read dieting articles are twice as likely to engage in unhealthy dieting practices such as vomiting, smoking and taking laxatives, than those girls who didn't read such articles. Why? One theory is that these articles suggest that being a little overweight is not okay and anyone who has a few extra pounds to lose should be dieting. Therefore, it's important for parents to talk to their teenager about weight issues, emphasizing healthy weight and healthy dieting techniques.

I guess since this site publishes weight-loss information, it's a good idea to remind everyone that it's important to take all information with a grain of salt and become become informed on issues pertaining to your health. Yes, it's important to be a healthy weight, but 'healthy weight' varies between individuals, and skinny is not always better.

What do you think?

Protect your liver with a healthy diet

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Yet another reason to eat a diet rich in fresh produce -- Italian researchers this week found a link between eating plenty of fresh fruit and a reduced risk of liver cancer. They also found that adding milk and yogurt to a person's diet could reduce the risk even further. Vegetables were also associated with a decrease in risk, but not to a significant point.

This is good news for those with liver diseases, such as hepati tis B and C, because they are already at a greater risk for developing liver cancer.

We've heard it over and over again that poor diet is linked to so many different chronic conditions and diseases, and this study is just one more link in the chain. Filling your plate with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins is an excellent way to ward off disease.

The most common ways to mess up your New Year's resolution

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I always envy those people who make a really big resolution on New Year's, like losing 30 pounds or quitting smoking, and then actually do it! I've been successful a few times over the years, but I've actually taken to making a couple resolutions now -- one easy one (like writing more "thank you" notes) and then a hard one I half expect to give up on before then end of January, like anything to do with weight-loss or fitness.

Here's a detailed list of basic things that people often do to jinx their resolution ambitions, but the basics are: having unrealistic expectations, not having a "plan of attack," having too many resolutions/getting too complicated, not having goals or guidelines for yourself, and getting discouraged too easily if it doesn't happen for you right away.

So keep it simple, make a plan, and don't give up!