Monday, 15 January 2007

Winter injuries: What you need to know

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Winter is a great time for skiing and snowboarding, but unfortunately along with winter sports come winter sports injuries. Twisted and sprained joints, usually the knees and wrists, can range from mild to severe. If you get hurt on the slopes, remember this acronym: RICE. R= Rest the injured area, I= Apply ice, C= Use compression, and E= Elevate the affected area. When the injury is still fresh you want to avoid inflammation, so stay out of the hot tub and take an anti-inf lammatory, like ibuprofen.

How do you know if you need to see a doctor? If the injured joint swells and/or you don't have full motion you should seek professional help, or if it isn't getting better after a couple of days. But what's the best thing for winter injuries? Do what you can to minimize the damage, or even avoid getting hurt altogether by taking what precautions you can -- like doing certain exercises well before you head outdoors and scoping out the slopes so you know the terrain.

The single best tool for success

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If you could only have one thing to help you lose weight or get in shape, what would help you the most? A new piece of equipment? An awesome diet plan? According to psychologists, the single best thing you can have is support. Whether it's in the form of a workout buddy, an online support system, or a positive spouse and family, being part of a group and feeling that you're working towards a common goal will do wonders for your motivation and self-esteem. It's part of our human nature: nobody wants to be alone.

I'm buyin' it. Strength in numbers, right?

New food pyramid headed to grocery stores

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About 2 years ago the government came up with a new food pyramid, but it hasn't been promoted anywhere but online since it was first released. All that is about to change, as the new design prepares to hit a grocery store near you.

But if you haven't seen it already, you might be a little surprised to see that it doesn't tell you what to eat or how much. It's really just a logo, intended to promote the idea of balanced eating and to encourage and remind people to visit the website www.mypyramid.gov. Once online, enter some general info about yourself (age, sex, physical activity) and then you'll get a personalized idea of how much you should be eating, and of what. Sort of your own personal food pyramid.

I think the old one was much easier and more convenient, but other than sweets being on the top I don't know how many people really knew what went where and followed it everyday -- so maybe this more complicated but personalized version is better.

South Beach Diet creator has a new heart-healthy program

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Chances are you've heard of the hugely popular South Beach Diet. The creator, Dr. Arthur Agatston has recently released another book, but the goal this time isn't losing weight -- it's keeping the heart healthy. The South Beach Heart Program emphasizes healthy living over invasive surgery that offers a quick fix to heart troubles. The diet includes a selec tion of healthy fats, like olive oil, plus healthy, whole grain carbohydrates, fruits and veggies, lean protein and low fat dairy. In addition to the diet, activity, including core-strengthening exercises are emphasized, as well as diagnostic testing -- all aimed at preventing heart problems and maintaining a healthy body.

You only have one heart and it's your most important organ, so you better take care of it!

What's the deal with the Sonoma Diet?

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According to this, my ideal diet plan is the Sonoma diet. I'm pretty up on the latest diet trends but I'll admit, I've never heard of this one before, so I decided to do a little research. Here's what I learned: The Sonoma Diet is an eating plan that emphasizes the fresh, nutrient-rich foods of the Sonoma Valley. The diet has a South Beach-esque beginning -- it starts in the first wave, where dieters toss out the refined sugar and flour and opt for veggi es, lean protein and healthy fats. In the second wave, fruit is added to the menu, as well as whole grains and even wine, in moderate amounts. The diet also focuses on the "Power Foods": almonds, bell peppers, blueberries, broccoli, grapes, olive oil, spinach, strawberries, tomatoes and whole grains.

Maybe I really am destined for the Sonoma Diet, because honestly? this sounds like my current eating plan (Wave 2 does, at least.) The best part? You needn't cut out coffee -- it's allowed, as long as you don't pile on the cream and sugar.

Have you tried the Sonoma Diet?

This Mexico getaway includes ballet lessons

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Right now where I live, it's -10 outside and there's icy white cold stuff covering everything. A getaway to Mexico sounds perfect -- doesn't it? How about a trip to Mexico that involves taking stretching and muscle-lengthening exercises with a professional ballerina? Doesn't sound quite as perfect? I guess it depends on your priorities -- pigging out at the all-you-can-eat buffet and downing it with a few (dozen) Margarita, or doing something good for your body. Here's some extra incentive -- the classes are followed by champagne and cappuccino, and offer access to the 18-hole golf course, spa and tennis courts.

If this sounds like the getaway for you, check this out for more information.

A perfect day of eating

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If your New Year's resolution is to eat healthier you might need some inspiration. How about this? It's a detailed account of what you would be eating if, just for one day, everything you consumed was perfectly healthy. It's a perfect days of food. Breakfast is oatmeal, maybe with fruit. Your morning snack is grapes with low-fat cheese. Lunch is a tuna sandwich on whole wheat with veggies. The afternoon snack is walnuts and more cheese. Dinner is grilled salmon with bro ccoli. The day is even topped off with a (healthy) dessert. Does it sound do-able?

I know, your idea of a perfect day doesn't include things like Broccoli, oatmeal and low fat anything. But it's perfect for your body, and your body needs to be spoiled too.

Jumpstart Your Fitness: Better body image = Better body reality

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"The power of positive thinking." That phrase comes to my mind when reading about the power your body image has on your weight loss and fitness plans. Negative body image equals negative results, and so the opposite applies in that a positive body image will have a positive effect. The media today doesn't help anyone when it comes to fostering a good body image, with r ail-thin models and actors everywhere wearing styles that only look right on specific body types. But I will say that I've heard more lately from the media about the media in relation to this negativity problem, so maybe it will start getting better in the future... (positive thinking!)

But "maybe in the future" doesn't help us now, today, does it? Plus, some people would be fighting negativity with or without that extra help from the advertising world, and sadly that bad body image is not only detrimental to your physical appearance but also your emotional health. So if you don't feel so great about you, try these suggestions to improve your body image, inside and out:

Continue reading Jumpstart Your Fitness: Better body image = Better body reality

Daily Fit Tip: Reward yourself

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Imagine this. You're working at a job that's pretty tough but you're working for a cause that you believe in. You have a boss that's pretty tough on you, and you figure that if you work harder, your boss is sure to notice and let you know that she is impressed. But no matter how hard you work, she never offers you any sort of bonus, or even a word of praise. In fact, she berates you more for not working even harder. Eventually, the lack of recognition gets to you and you have to quit for your own sanity.

Now apply this scenario to dieting. Both the employee and the boss are you. When you work hard at anything, you need some kind of reward to keep going. You need mo tivation, something to make it all worthwhile. Otherwise you're doomed.

When you're trying to lose weight, it's probably best if you don't reward yourself with a giant slice of double chocolate caramel cake. But how about something calorie-free? Like a manicure? Or a massage? Or a great pair of shoes? Or if you've done really well, an expensive pair of designer jeans that make your new butt look great? You deserve it, you know.

Check here for more inspiration.

Whittle your waist with The Sugar Solution

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Even though my blood work has always been perfect, I have reason to suspect that my blood sugar levels are a bit wonky, and I'm always concerned about reigning in the amount of sweets and bad carbs that I eat. Today, I think I found the solution -- The Sugar Solution, in fact. I came across this article today and it's peaked my interest for sure.

A lot of people are afraid of carbs, but as this article points out, not all carbs are crea ted equal. When you bad carbs -- sweets and junk foods -- the carbs are processed much too quickly and your pancreas pumps your body full of insulin to process them. Not only does the insulin damage your heart, but your body stops burning your fat stores for fuel and you quickly start gaining weight. When you eat a balance of foods, however, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and good fats, your body works efficiently.

The Sugar Solution uses foods based on their ranking on the glycemic index. Foods that are high on the index cause blood sugar levels to spike. Foods that are low keep blood sugar levels steady for hours. This keeps your energy level up and helps you fight cravings that the sudden drop in blood sugar from sweets can give you. The Sugar Solution has also been found to burn stubborn belly fat. (I'm not pointing at anyone, but someone here, someone who may be writing this post, has a "bit" of stubborn belly fat she'd like to be f ree of!)

Continue reading Whittle your waist with The Sugar Solution

Kick that mindless eating habit

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Have you ever sat down to watch a movie with a big bag of chips (or some other snack), then a couple of hours later been completely horrified when you found your hand groping around in a greasy, empty chip bag? It's not a good feeling. Call it the munchies, nervous snacking, or mindless eating - but it's a habit that can lead to obesity.

Doctor's at Cornell University's medical school have come up with a list of suggestions to help you curb a mindless eating habit. Did you know that you can fool your mind into eating smaller portion sizes by choosing smaller eating utensils?

Also, try not to e at while you're watching TV or doing some other activity. And if you're going to give into temptation and eat a food you've been avoiding, eat just a small amount. For instance if you've given up on peanut M&M's and simply must have some, you don't need to buy the "pounder" bag. Another tip: when you feel the need to munch, choose foods that are low in calories but high in water and fiber to make you feel full faster.

Check out the full list of eight tips for even more suggestions, and save yourself the horror of realizing you've just botched your diet by mindlessly consuming a 1500 calorie bag of chips.

Getting on the fitness wagon

Ah, diets. We try them on and throw them off like clothing. They are as disposable and transient as this season's MUST HAVE hand bag or shoes. Research has shown over and over again how often diets fail, how many of them are only designed to work in the short term if they do at all. Yet we keep coming back to them like two people in a bad relationship who just can't let go, setting ourselves up for even more of the same disappointment we've already encountered.

Remember the cabbage soup diet? It was the diet that prescribed making cabbage soup from a specific recipe and eating it at least twice a day for at least a month if not forever. As you can imagine, even for those of us who like cabbage soup, it got old really fast.

Or, how about the high-protein diet, the Atkins Diet, or as some colleagues refer to it, the Diet of Doom? It's the one where you eat relatively little else other than meat--at least, that's how most users of the diet interpreted it. My mom was one such user. Being on the Atkins Diet was her excuse to have bacon--yes, bacon, fried, artery-clogging, bacon--at every meal. Gross. Results? Well, she did initially lose some weight, most of which she appears to have gained back. Miraculously none of her other health issues were resolved and she got really tired of eating so much darned meat. Although she's still obsessed by bacon.

She, and most others who try dieting, "fell off" the diet sooner rather than later. I've been subject to this phenomenon myself. I went in for the whole low-carb thing. I remember sitting at lunch over a bunless veggie burger lamenting the death of my tastebuds. Sure, I lost some weight, but it was more because the food I ate totally lacked in appeal rather than through some miraculous chemical process in my system. Turns out I also wasn't eating enough. I ate probably half the calories I was supposed to be eating, so I was tired and cranky all the time. The low-carb diet should have been named the "thinner but meaner" diet. And naturally I fell off. I think it was around the time I reignited my love affair with Little Italy.

There are many reasons why dieters fall off the dieting wagon. Those can be found here. So what's a person to do? If dieting is an endless cycle of withholding and disappointment, how can we resolve to get back on the wagon to stay, to break the cycle of falling off? My answer is a simple one: we're on the WRONG wagon.

Several years ago I left the dieting wagon for the fitness wagon. It lurks nearby the diet wagon, seemingly in its shadow. The fitness wagon is an oasis in the desert of the diet wagon, able to be seen only by those who are willing to take on the LIFETIME COMMITMENT to being healthy. I found the oasis when I got tired of not being able to eat anything I really enjoyed eating, when rewarding myself for a dieting job done well made me feel guilty. I'd eat "right"--which is to say cabbage soup or basically NO carbs--all week, then treat myself with a scoop of ice cream on Saturday night and feel miserable for having given in. That was just irrational thinking, probably born of having not eaten enough!

I stopped reading about the latest fad diets, or whatever it was Jennifer Aniston was doing to keep so skeletally thin, and started reading about nutrition. I stopped looking at supermodels as my role models and considered how healthy, active and happy all the people running around the park by my house looked. They seemed to truly ENJOY huffing it around those 3.3 miles every day. Yes, they were out there nearly every day. I, feeling miserable, wanted what they had, and realized it was all within my grasp, if only I'd get on the right wagon.

You, too can find the fitness wagon. Start by promising yourself to never, ever, EVER go on a fad diet again. Stop thinking about how you compare to celebrities and whether or not you can run--or even walk--a mile. Stop telling yourself it's a good idea to eat cabbage soup or anything more than once a week and start hunting for healthy recipes you can make yourself. Most importantly, come to grips with the reality that fitness is not something that comes in a week, but is the cumulative work of a lifetime. Commit to fitness, not diets, and experience the oasis for yourself.

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Cancer-fighting eggs hatched in the UK

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What came first, the genetically modified chicken or the...oh, never mind. It doesn't matter which came first, what matters is that UK researchers have made a possible breakthrough in cancer treatment using chicken eggs.

These genetically modified hens are laying eggs with cancer fighting proteins in them. Known as "pharming," researchers collect the proteins and use them to make treatments for diseases. One type of egg contains miR24, a protein that fights malignant melanoma. Another produces human interferon b-1a, which stops the replication of v iruses.

Chickens were used because of their inexpensive, quick, and simple reproductive cycle. One genetically modified rooster can be mated with hundreds of hens, who can lay one genetically modified egg per day. In a short amount of time, generations of these chickens can be created and started on egg production. Since the cancer fighting proteins are found in the egg whites, it's a fairly simple process to extract them.

More time is needed to develop the process and then put it to the test, and it'll be 5-10 years before we see an actual drug from these chickens being used.