Monday, 29 January 2007

Are you being fooled by greenwashing?

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My very favorite spot of our local grocery store is tucked way in the back, between pet food and the dairy aisle. It's the clearance rack. Really just a gigantic cart, I can find some unbelievable finds, especially when the store discontinues a product. When I passed it the other day, it was loaded top to bottom box after box of organic Rice Krispies. Apparently, the world isn't ready for pesticide-free snap, crackle, and pop.

After the explosion of the organic and natural foods market in the late 1990s, we've seen more and more organic and natural foods on the grocery store shelves. Mainstream corporations wanting their slice of the organic pie have tweaked conventional products (like Rice Krispies) a nd their packaging to make them more appealing to the "green" consumer. But does better packaging mean better food? Not always.

It's called "greenwashing" and it's the art of changing a product's design to draw in consumers who want to buy into the "earth-friendly" brand. And according to this article, when a company tweaks its package in just the right way, what looks like organic may simply be "organic-like." Not only that, simply marketing a food as earth-friendly doesn't make it so. Organic foods may make up the ingredients, but that doesn't mean the food was made in an environmentally friendly way or with fair labor practices.

Continue reading Are you being fooled by greenwashing?

You might be fat by choice

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This may come as a surprise to you, but you might be choosing to be overweight. Not consciously, but on a deeper level. According to this article, there is an underlying force in the subconscious that rules our eating habits, and you may have to confront these issues to begin your weight-loss journey. This isn't the first time I've heard of this -- being overweight offers some sort of comfort deep down, though you might not know it. I've even read about this on a personal blog recently.

So does this mean that you need to sp end thousands of dollars on expensive therapy? Not necessarily. The article lists simple steps you can take to uncovering your subconscious eating motivation. Read through it and let me know what you find out.

Concern over fewer women getting mammograms

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Despite the fact that the number of women who should be getting mammograms (over age 40) has increased over recent years, surveys show that the number of women who actually had mammograms dropped slightly in 2005. This has health officials both concerned and a little confused, wondering why exactly this is. The most likely reason is the very fact that so many women are getting older and needing mammograms the resources and clinics are getting stretched to the max, or possibly that finances and personnel issues are causing complications.

Regardless, women are encouraged to continue to treat breast cancer as a serious risk and put mammograms at the top of their priority list, as often and their doctor recommends. And hopefully, now that this problem is out in the open, the health industry can make some moves to fix it.

What's so tough about those last 5 lbs?

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After gaining some weight in my first few years out of college, I started exercising, and changed my eating habits. Finally, three months later, I'm nearly back to where I was when I left school -- but those last 5 pounds are seemingly impossible to get rid of.

I'm not the only one facing this frustration. In fact, many dieters have trouble losing the final 5. So what gives? What makes this weight so much harder to lose?

It's largely to do with calories. The more weight you lose, the fewer calories your body needs -- so as you get smaller, your calorie intake needs to get smaller with you. Also, as people get closer to their fitness goals, they back off -- allowing themselves the comfort foods they'd sworn off at the beginning of their diet. While it's no fun to feel like you're depriving yourself, keep in mind that only 100 extra calories a day can still hold up otherwise steady weight loss.

If you're stuck, try a new tactic. Many successful dieters keep track of what they eat by writing it down. You could also add more veggies, as these are good low-calorie food substitutes.

At the end of the day, relax, stick with it, and be proud that you've come this far. If you're at a healthy weight, there's no need to get so obsessed over 5 pesky pounds that you become unhappy.

Daily Fit Tip: Slow down ... when eating, that is

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With the lack of physical activity that most people's lifestyles are lacking, it's a good idea to pick up the pace and run, or at least speed-walk, to burn extra calories or just get moving. But there's one area where we should all learn to slow down -- eating.

I'm guilty of shoveling food down my gullet at record speeds -- with a busy lifestyle, I'm always thinking of where I need to be next. But it's a good idea to savor what you're eating. Also, by eating more slowly, you'll get full faster, and this will enable you to eat less overall.

But old habits are ha bits are hard to break. I'm going to make a conscious effort to chew each bite of food for at least 5 seconds before swallowing -- hopefully this will slow me down a bit. What about you?

Jumpstart Your Fitness: Enlist yourself in boot camp

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Fitness boot camps are popping up everywhere, one even started recently over the lunch hour where I work. But before you let visions of impossible obstacle courses, camouflage uniforms, and a screaming sergeant turn you off to the idea, you might want to find out what they're really about.

A boot camp is really just a fitness class that takes place outside and is programmed to last a period of weeks. A sort of jumpstart to healthy living and a good workout plan. There are all kinds of variations, but most boot camps are geared towards women, last for 1 hour/5 days a week for around 8 weeks, and take place outdoors during warmer weather. And although you should consult with your doctor before enrolling, you don't have to worry about being in awesome shape when you first get started (hopefully that's the end result!). Plus, since the boot camp will have a qualified instructor you're actually getting the benefits of a personal trainer for a much cheaper price, usually only $15 to $18 per class.

Continue reading Jumpstart Your Fitness: Enlist yourself in boot camp

America's habits: how do you compare?

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Making a change toward a healthier lifestyle is one of the best decisions you can make. Creating that change takes knowledge, however, knowledge about nutrition facts and fitness. CNN recently conducted a poll of over 1000 Americans to find out what the average citizen knows about healthy living.

The good news is that when it comes to nutrition, we're n ot in too bad of shape. We know the difference between good and bad cholesterol and that fat can be good for us in moderation when it comes from proper sources like avocado or fatty fish. The bad news is this astonishing fact: Even though the USDA recommends 30 minutes of exercise per day, only 6% of us are getting that much and only 22% exercise three to four times per week. We need to get moving! We redeemed ourselves, however, when 67% of respondents recognized that small steps they took today would add up to larger health benefits in the future.

There's plenty more interesting statistics, so go read the article and let me know what you think. Then take a minute to test your own Healthy Living IQ.

What hypnotherapy can, and can't, do for you

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Hypnotherapy has a range of different reputations, from the old fashioned idea of some guy asking you to keep your eyes on the swinging pocket watch to the more modern stories of people using hypnosis through their doctor to quit smoking. Hypnotherapy has come a long way, and today it's officially recognized as a viable way of treating certain problems like pain, weight loss, gastrointestinal issues, smoking, and other addicti ons.

However, hypnotherapy is not a guaranteed cure, and it's almost always used in combination with other treatments. But if you think you'd like to try it, it's recommended you go through one of the two recognized hypnotherapy associations: the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis or the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. Both of these groups require their hypnotherapists to be clinically licensed, which means they'll be better able to recognize and deal with medical issues, as opposed to just your average hypnotist on the street.

Is your child getting enough unsaturated fat?

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Researchers in Sweden recently found that children who had diets low in unsaturated fats were more likely to be obese. Though the headlines are screaming that 'too little fat can make children obese,' I hope parents take the time to read the article carefully before running out to load their children up with fatty foods.

Unsaturated fats are found in foods like fish, oils, and some vegetables. Olive oil is a good source, as are avocados, flaxseed, and walnuts. Salmon and other fatty fish are an excellent source. And remember, even when it comes to healthy fats, a little goes a long way. Learn more about fats and healthy diets for children in this excellent article.

A nutritionist friend once told me that the perfect meal or snack needs to have all three components to make it complete -- carbs, protein, and fats. The carbs satisfy your hunger immediately, the protein a little longer, and the fats the longest. (This is a simplistic explanation, but bear with me.) So if a child is getting an appropriate serving of each component at meals and snack time, their hunger will be satisfied, and they'll be less likely to turn to unhealthy choices. In fact, in this study it was found the children were getting 25% of their calories from sweets, cookies, and soft drinks. That's 1/4 of their diet taken up with empty, but yet calorie-laden, foods. No wonder they're gaining weight!

It's an interesting article that I hope doesn't cause too much confusion. What do you thi nk?

Radioactive patients may set off "dirty bomb" alarms at Superbowl

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60,000 people a day undergo some type of treatment or test that leaves small amounts of radioactive material in their bodies. If any of those folks happen to be part of the packed house at Dolphin Stadium this Sunday, they may have to explain to security officials why they're radioactive enough to set off "dirty bomb" alarms.

In the wake of the September 11th attacks, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued over 12,000 hand-held radiation detectors for use at airports, border crossings, government buildings and large public events like the Superbowl. The people police pull aside may not be terrorists, however, but merely patients who've recently had medical treatments with radioisotopes in their bodies. That's what happened to six members of the crowd at New York City's tree-lighting party last November -- a mistake that, according to Richard Falkenrath, the city's deputy commissioner of counter-terrorism, "happens all the time."

There have been some embarrassing mistakes, but generally such cases are resolved after police use a more sophisticated device to detect the type of radiation present. That being said, if you're someone who's undergone this type of treatment, especially if you'll be at the game on Sunday, you might want to carry a note from your doctor.

Try the Profane Game to vent stress

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As anyone who's stumbled across my personal blog already knows, I have a habit of cussing like a sailor. It's even worse if I'm frustrated -- so when my computer crashes, I have car trouble, or I burn myself on the stove, the chances of me repeatedly dropping the f-bomb at full volume are high (it's a good thing my girlfriend is an understanding soul).

But when people make us angry, it's significantly less appropriate to launch into profanity-laced tirades. Sure, it's best to shrug it off, but when you just can't shake the frustration, try the Profane Game. It's not complicated -- simply enter as many foul words as you can think of, and each one gets you a point. #!$% yeah!

In all serious, even if typing cuss words doesn't sound refreshing, you should try and find something to help you deal with stress in a healthy way. Depression, insomnia -- even physical aches and pains -- can all result from pent up or mis-managed anger.

If, however, you are a person that tends to blaspheme, next time you're tempted to unload on your neighbor, or your co-worker, or that jerk who let his dog poop in your yard, again -- bite your tongue, and vent the stress with Profane Game.

[via Lifehacker]

Why don't French Women get fat?

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Chances are you've heard of the wildly popular book by Mireille Guiliano titles French Women Don't Get Fat. Maybe you've even been to France and seen with your own eyes that, for the most part, it's true. They really don't get fat. Not like us North Americans, anyway.

So why is this? If you've been to Paris, you'll know that there's a lot of walking involved in exploring that amazing city. But there must be more to it than walking. According to Guiliano, there is. French people eat what they want, but they d o it in small proportions -- no super sizing anything. For instance, if you order a cappuccino in France, you get something that's about half the size of the small portion at Starbucks. Also? They only consume high-quality foods -- no McDonald's. They make sure what they're eating is la creme de la creme, and freshly prepared as well. To enjoy these quality foods, make sure you take your time eating -- no rushing through meals of eating on the run.

Of course, the fact that most French women smoke probably helps too. But aside from the smoking, I think those Europeans have got it right. What do you think?