Friday, 26 January 2007

More attacks on trans fats -- from Philly

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The attack on trans fats is far from over, from whole cities to major fast-food companies banning the artery-clogging oils and fats from menus and shelves.

In Pennsylvania, the Philadephia city council committee on Public Health and Human Services took the first step toward barring restaurants, food trucks and takeout eateries from using products that contain trans fats.

With New York City now having banned trans fats from menus come this July, will we see more towns and cities ban the substance from food outl ets and restaurants? My guess -- yes we will, but it will be more of a publicity stunt instead of genuinely caring for the health of patrons.

Your sweet tooth is bad for your health -- ways sugar harms you

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In case weight gain, tooth decay and lack of energy weren't reason enough for you to give up the sweets, here's some more incentive: Sugar actually harms your health. I'm not sure if the article is intended as a scare tactic by savvy business-types, but apparently it can interfere with immune system functioning, lead to the development of diabetes, increase stress, slow down cognition in children and lead to a deficiency of other more important nutrients in your diet. Wowza! And if this still isn't enough to make you consider giving up dessert, it can make your skin sag! Scary, huh?

It's easier said than done -- trust me, I know -- better than most people. But it's worth a try, right? You don't have to give up dessert forever -- just try to limit it to, say, special occasions ... such as Saturday nights.

Daily Fit Tip: Pick the right cereal

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There are lots of studies out there supporting the health benefits of eating breakfast every day. People who eat breakfast usually have an easier time losing weight and keeping it off (or just weigh less in the first place) and even have lower cholesterol and more energy.

One of the most popular and well-known breakfast foods is cereal, but talk about choices! In most grocery stores usually an entire aisle, both sides, is devoted to cereal and it can be overwhelming to try and make a healthy decision and get the most out of such an important meal. To narrow it down to the most important things to look for, besides a taste that you like, follow these tips for picking the best cereal for you:

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Man loses weight, raises money for victims of Hurricane Katrina

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Matt McKenna weighed 500 pounds and had limited his activities out of physical necessity and shame. Then one day, his family stepped in. Concerned for his health and welfare, they told him enough was enough and asked for a serious commitment from him to lose the weight. So Matt moved in with his parents for supervision and support and began the South Beach diet. The first week he lost 25 pounds, and in just over a year he's hit his goal weight of 240 pounds. He also addressed his emotional food issues with counseling.

Even if y our health and fitness goals are different than Matt's, stories like his might inspire you. Matt had overwhelmingly positive family support, but the choices he made were his own and he deserves credit for taking control. If you go to the article and click on Matt's gallery, he's got some interesting motivational tips.

His family wanted to encourage him, so his relatives made a deal that for every pound he lost, they would pledge a certain amount of dollars to Habitat for Humanity to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. By the time Matt hit his goal weight, his extended family had donated $10,000.

Matt's success inspired me today to stick to my health and fitness goals. What inspires you to keep going when the going gets tough?

The silly things we do (with kitchen sponges)

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This is a follow-up post to an earlier article on sanitizing kitchen sponges in the microwave, and all I have to say (between fits of laughter) is wow! Researchers at the University of Florida announced earlier this week that they had successfully killed 99% of bacteria and germs on a kitchen sponge by microwaving it on high for about 2 minutes. What they apparently neglected to mention (or maybe thought they didn't need to) is that the sponge needs to be wet.

So people all over the country gave the idea a shot, sticking dry sponges into microwaves and almost immediately (well, within 2 minutes I'm assuming) realized their grievous errors as their microwaves filled with flames, and their homes filled with smoke and the nasty smell of burnt tires.

Not to make light of anyone's misfortune, but it's so funny partly because I can actually see myself spacing out and throwing a dry sponge into the microwave to try this (I didn't, for the record). I guarantee, though, that as soon as I had a lump of flaming goop instead of a clean sponge and my fire alarm started going off I'd get it...of course it has to be wet first!

Having trouble quitting smoking? The answer may be related to your mother

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If you're having a tough time giving up cigarettes, you may have one more thing to blame on your mother.

A study by the Duke Center for Nicotine and Smoking Cessation research has added to what scientists already knew -- that fetal brains are altered by prenatal nicotine exposure. The new findings reveal that those brain changes may also set the stage for relapses in nicotine addiction later in life.

The study shows that the impact of prenatal smoking is not limited to the immediate health risk for the fetus (not to mention the mother). The impact is much longer term, as one researcher noted, altering brain development that "can last a lifetime."

Of course, researchers underscored the importance of quitting smoking before pregnancy. They also warned against using cessation aides such as nicotine patches and gums, which can also cause fetal health risks.

Fit Factor: Spinning your way to a great workout

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At my gym, when it's time for yoga, we have to wheel a bunch of yellow bikes outside of the studio to make room for our mats. But have you ever wondered what those yellow bikes are for, and why every gym out there seems to have them? In case you're not in the know, those bikes are specially designed for spinning classes, also know as 'extreme cycling' in some circles. Are you intrigued yet?

Spinning classes usually get together a group of fitness-minded people who peddle away to the booming commands of an instructor and the frantic beats of some loud music. The intensity of the cycling increases and decreases throughout the workout, alternating between moderately-paced rides and frenzied sprints. The bik e is under your control, so you can typically adjust the resistance and pace to suit your level of fitness, though it's recommended that only people at an intermediate level of cardiovascular fitness participate in the class. Why? It's challenging, intense and a great workout. According to's calories counter, spinning at a moderate effort for 20 minutes burns 250 calories, which is about what I'll burn on the elliptical trainer for the same amount of time at top effort.

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Ever ordered from ''?

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If you've ever eaten "raw foods" before, you know that acclimating to the taste o those very healthy foods can be frustrating at first as you ween your palate away from the fake chemicals and "dead" foods most of us eat every day.

But did you know that raw foods can be incredibly delicious at the same time being incredibly nutritious for you? Raw chocolate -- for example -- is highly healthy but rarely do most America citizens eat it. "Milk chocolate" filled with refined sugars and sweeteners are a far cry from raw chocolate.

What do you think of the foods available at Some of their products are on the way and once I've eaten them, expect a rev iew right here at

Are you married to your computer?

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According to this recent study, a majority of Americans are spending more time with their computers than their spouses. This finding was published to make the point that Americans are developing an increasingly dependent "relationship" with technology, and when our computers let us down, it hurts.

Because we depend so heavily on technology, when our computers or PDA's or cell phones fail, our stress levels rise. In fact, this same study found that Americans are suffering a computer issue every four months and that they're spending 12 hours a month resolving those issues. In addition, most participants reported that problems with their com puters caused them feelings of sadness or alienation. Yikes.

So what can you do when your computer gives you the silent treatment? Take a deep breath and try to stay calm. When you feel stress and anger, your heart rate increases, your blood pressure rises, and your breathing becomes faster and shallower. Take frequent breaks and try to tell yourself that "this too shall pass." Finally, ask for help when you need it. For more information on alleviating stress in the workplace, click here.

Running with the proper nutrition

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When running for endurance and exercise or getting ready for a big race, putting the right foods in your stomach is just as important as putting miles in your legs. Without a good nutrition to balance training, it can bog down the body and make a runner feel uneasy. That's why The Final Sprint has compiled this very thorough article on optimum nutrition for runners.

The great thing about this report is that it has good information for any level of runner. Whether you're an experienced morning athlete or a novice who gets a workout in after dinn er, the nutritional advice can help shed light on the importance of eating the right foods at the right time. First off, don't make the mistake of not getting food before heading out. That's where lack of energy comes from and it can adversely affect performance.

In the morning, try consuming around 500 calories of a low-fat, high-carb food. Followed by half a pint of water, this combo can be all you need if taken two to three hours before working out. Don't forget a post-exercise meal either. Anything with high carbs and protein for muscle replenishment is ideal (pasta, chicken, protein shakes, etc). This is literally the tip of the iceberg, so don't forget to check out the rest of the article for more information!