Saturday, 24 February 2007

Lose your loose pants

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The first thing you should do if you've lost a significant amount of weight is toss your old clothes. Sure, it's fun to flaunt your new bod around the office with obviously saggy slacks, but you need to get rid of them and fast!

Why the urgency? You need to remove the ability to grow back into them. Shrinking out of your clothes is an awesome accomplishment and the best way to celebrate is to say adios to all of the things you never want to be able to wear again. I hound my personal training clients about this all the time. Keeping your too-big sizes around is literally a way of giving yourself permission to regain the weight you've lost.

Clothes are costly and you're far better off spending that cash on smaller clothes you are proud to wear. And, they'll keep you in check. If you should slide and start putting a a few pounds back on........pain in the waistband is certain to prove as a sturdy reality check. So run, don't walk to your closet and make a grand donation to your favorite cause. In fact. Run to lots of different closets and burn a bunch more calories. Maybe your new pants will be your old pants soon!

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Living with bipolar

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Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic-depressive illness, is a condition that affects more than two million Americans. The symptoms of bipolar disorder are thought to be caused by an imbalance of key chemicals in the brain. Although there is no cure for bipolar disorder, medicine can play a key role in helping to manage symptoms and extreme mood swings. It can help make behavior more even and predictable.

Bipolar disease also has an impact on millions of family members and friends. It is tough watching someone you care about struggle with emotional and physical stresses. Depression affects everyone in the house. So what can you do to help out someone that you care about or live with, that has a bipolar condition?

Number one is to know the disease and that it is a chemical disorder and you nor your loved one can control it all the time even with medication. Recognize the symptoms and mood changes so that you can encourage them to see their professional health care provider. Encourage the person to stick with their prescribed treatments no matter how good they feel at the moment. Learn the difference between a good day and a manic day and let them recover at their own pace. Take advantage of support groups. There are several resources available for families and friends of people with bipolar disorder. Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) is the nation's leading patient-directed, illness-specific organization. The organization's mission is to improve the lives of people living with mood disorders.

5 surprising food myths exposed

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It's easy to see how misconceptions and misinformation could spread around nowadays, with all kinds of new studies coming out one after another -- seemingly contradicting each other every time. Well here's an article that claims to clear up a little of a the confusion, clarifying the real truth on some of the most common food myths.

Is fresher is always better? No. For example, many flash frozen vegetables retain the majority of their nutrients, while their fresh counterparts' health value degrades over time as they age sitting on the shelf. And doesn't "natural" on the label means less processed? Also not always t rue. In fact, most of the time foods carrying the word "natural" are more processed and less healthy than some of those that don't.

Read the full "In Pictures" article at for the truth behind 3 other common food myths, including my favorite about how sometimes a meal can be good because of what is has (not what it doesn't have).

Colorado high school bans energy drink after students fall ill

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After six students fell ill and two were hospitalized, all Colorado public high schools banned energy drink Spike Shooter from its hallways. Over 200 of the state's 7-11 stores pulled the product as well, after finding out the drink was not intended to be marketed to adolescents.

The drink made students feel shaky and made their heart ra ce. Spike Shooter contains the same amount of caffeine as two to three cups of coffee, and the manufacturer says that it was never intended to be used by children and teenagers. Labels on the can warn "Read label before drinking" and tell users to start with a half-can serving their first time using the product.
The company also warns that those taking certain medications or with certain medical conditions should stay away from their product.

This story serves as another reminder to read your food labels. Just because a product is sold in your favorite store (and I applaued 7-11 for be responsible enough to know their customer base and remove the product) doesn't mean that it is safe or suitable for you or for everyone. Keep that in mind when you're trying something new, especially if it contains supplements or excessive amounts of certain ingredients, that you should make sure it's appropriate for you.

What are bad diet choices beyond trans fats?

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With the battle against trans fats in full force in private restaurants, cities and even universities, some experts say that all the attention trans fats are receiving are taking away from other legitimate causes for the bad pieces of people's diets these days.

How about saturated fats and unsaturated fats? These fats are found naturally in many meat and dairy products and can be dangerous as well if overconsumed.

With more than trans fats being in the foods we eat, some nutrition and health analysts say the preoccupation with trans fats has gone too far. To a point, I agree with that -- but better to attack the wo rse option first then attack others as they come along, yes? The restaurant chains are marking the cutting of trans fats like the next big thing, although many of them are replacing trans fats with other unhealthy oils.

Traumatic events easier to remember

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In a discovery that directly refutes the long-accepted theory that people repress difficult memories in order to cope with traumatic events of the past, Canadian researchers now believe that it's more difficult to recall happy memories.

At the beginning of the five year study, participants were asked to give details about a horrible experience from the past few months -- sexual assault, domestic violence, etc -- as well as details of a more positive experience, like a wedding, vacation, or birth of a child.

According to Stephen Porter, lead author of the study, when researchers interviewed participants five years later: "We were surprised at how consistent (the traumatic memories) were relative to the good memories in life which had deteriorated dramatically and looked nothing like the reports that we heard about years ago."

In fact, in a questionnaire where the maximum possible score was 36, participants recalling traumatic memories scored an average of 30, while those recalling a positive one averaged only 15.

Sigmund Freud must be turning in his grave.

Peanut butter salmonella outbreak reaches 43 states

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The recent salmonella outbreak as a result from infected peanut butter containers has spread to 43 states as of last evening, according to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. The CDC said that the outbreak had widened to 329 people in 41 states so far.

The FDA last week indicated that all Peter Pan peanut butter bought since May 2006, and all of Wal-Mart's "Great Value" peanut butter with the batch code 2111 should be discarded. That's over a half of a year of peanut butter, which m akes one think -- "wow, we're just now finding out?"

ConAgra, which makes the Peter Pan brand along with many store brands like the "Great Value" brand at Wal-Mart, said that tests by some states found the salmonella bacteria in peanut butter produced at its Sylvester, Georgia, plant.

Exercise machines to work with your iPod

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Exercise is exercise, and for the majority of people it will never be that great of a time. But that's why toys like the iPod exist, and why companies like Life Fitness are planning to cash in a little on that fun factor.

Their new fitness machines will be designed specifically to make the most of working out with your iPod. With ports for users to plug in their iPod and headphones, and liquid crystal display touch screens for scrolling through your play lists and watching your videos, you may never want to step off that treadmill.

Well, maybe not never.

European Union may need two years to deal with possible flu pandemic

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We always hear about an upcoming "flu pandemic", but if one were to poke its nasty head up into civilization, would countries in Europe be prepared? Most likely not, as it will take at least two years before the European Union is fully ready to deal with a flu pandemic.

Two years? Sounds like quite a long time, even though all EU countries have completed basic flu preparedness. Even so, the making of all those plans operational is another matter entirely -- hence the two-year period.

EU officials said that "We need to maintain the current political climate and momentum to continue and fi nish this work ... according to our estimate, we need another two to three years to respond well to a pandemic."

Eight reasons why your diet isn't working

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Does dieting seem hard to you? Of course it does, dieting is hard for everybody. But does it feel like it's especially more difficult for you than for your friends or co-workers who are also fighting the battle of the belly bulge? It may just be perception on your part, or it may be something else. Check out this list of eight hidden diet disasters in the making and see if you aren't unknowingly sabotaging your own success.

Number one is my absolute favorite, because I can officially raise my hand and adm it I'm a "supertaster." It's not that I have no willpower, it's my faulty tastebuds! Supertasters taste more of the bitterness of fruits and veggies and so therefore may not have their sweet tooth satisfied by that orange or banana. Undertasters have a high tolerance for sugar and may eat more to feel satisfied.

But really, there are some other surprising things in this article. Not having enough sex? You might be eating to compensate. Overly sensitive? You might be packing on a layer of fat to buffer yourself from the world. Spending a lot of time eating with friends? You may be eating up to 96% more than you need to. Interesting stuff!

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to check my taste buds to prove once and for all that the candy bar I ate after lunch was not my fault. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Most Germans want restaurant smoking ban

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Smoking bans are going fast and furious in U.S. states and countries around the world as non-smokers have had it with breathing in that toxic second-hand smoke. In addition to Scotland, it looks like a majority of Germans also favor a smoking ban in restaurants.

A poll determined that most German citizens no longer wanted smoking permitted in public restaurants, as 61% of 1,000 people surveyed said they would like to see smoking forbidden in general in restaurants.

Although 35% were against a ban in restaurants, Germany's Chancellor took the middle ground at least in terms of smoking in government building, agreeing on a proposal for a smoking ban in some government buildings since strict rules may have run afoul of some German laws according to legal experts.

A pacemaker, for the bladder?

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Amazingly, a group of researchers at Duke University have brought the idea of a pacemaker to control bladder function one step closer to reality. No, it won't be for over active bladder, but instead for people who have lost all bladder function due to spinal cord injury or neurological disease. They have found a way to stimulate the nervous system to both contract the bladder (hold it), and to relax the bladder (urinate). Currently many patients in need of this type of device have to use catheters, which come with their own set of negative side effects like urinary tract infections.

I think this sounds like a great discovery, but in reading the article I wish they didn't have to test it so much on animals -- poor cats!

Color coding foods

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Ever thought about color coding your foo d to gain optimum health benefits? As a past chef we always emphasized making plates appealing to the eye as well as the taste buds. Now it seems that a rainbow array of food colors daily not only is pretty to the eyes inviting pleasures of the pallet but eating 5 or more servings of colorful fruits and vegetables a day can give you the benefits of better health. So the next time you are making that platter of food for a party, or special gathering, keep these food colors in mind to not only make a beautiful table but to give your guests some healthy choices to eat. Remember to buy organic foods for the healthiest intake of nutrients and vitamins.

Blue and purple foods like blueberries, raisins, plums, and eggplant help with urinary tract health, memory function, and healthy aging. Green foods like avocados, green apples, cucumbers, and honeydew help your vision and give you strong bones and teeth. White, tan, and brown foods such as bananas, garlic, mushrooms and ginger keep the heart healthy and help keep cholesterol levels normal. Yellow and orange foods such as cantaloupe, peaches, sweet potatoes, and lemons help boost the immune system and also help your vision and keeping a healthy heart. Eating red foods like strawberries, raspberries, watermelon, and tomatoes keep the urinary tract healthy and aid in memory function and also a healthy heart.

Donating blood may improve your health

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Donating blood is not only a great way to contribute to the good of the community, it may contribute to your good heart health, as well. That's according to a new study published by the American Medical Association, that found that giving blood every six months led to fewer heart attacks and strokes in test participants ages 43 to 6 1.

Excessive iron is thought to contribute to heart disease, especially at its early stages. Donating blood on a regular basis reduces the iron stores in the body and this study supports the theory that reducing iron appears to preserve heart and vascular health.

What a win/win situation, huh? Give blood to someone who needs it and do your own body good at the same time. To learn more about donating blood, visit the American Red Cross.

One more reason not to eat at KFC/Taco Bell: Rats gone wild!

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Rats, rats and more rats! That's what you'll find inside one KFC/Taco Bell restaurant in NYC's Greenwich Village neighborhood.

At least a dozen rodents were captured on video earlier today, running rampant throughout the restaraunt, climbing on tables, counters and children's high chairs. The footage is making its way around the Internet, and TV news crews have already been at the seen, capturing the action and taking comments from disgusted onlookers.

With health inspectors on sight before the restaraunt even opened to the public, a spokesman for KFC and Taco Bell released the following statement: "This restaurant has been closed and we are addressing the issue with the franchise owner. We will not allow this store to reopen until is it completely resanitized and given a clean bill of health."

With this coming in addition to previous reports of an E. coli outbreak linked to to Taco Bell, things aren't looking good for the discount restaurant chain.

Atkin's "Simply Good" nutrition bars introduced

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Are you a fan of the Atkins Diet? Millions of people have used this method to drop pounds by not eating a load of carbohydrates at every meal (while still eating too much fat really), and the Atkins Diet has spawned entire lines of processed and prepared foods. After reading some of the ingredients in those packages, I'll stay far, far away, thank you very much.

Anyway, Atkins Advantage looks be be introducing its first all-natural product line -- Atkins Advantage Simply Good nutrition bars. I'll wait until I inspect the ingredients in these bars, but they look god so far on paper and will come in three f lavors upon launch in March: Honey & Oat, Mixed Berry and Chocolate Chip Peanut. These bars will be featured as having higher protein and fiber and lower sugar -- as well as zero trans fats.

U.S. hospital group chimes in on universal health care

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With political groups and possible U.S. Presidential candidates all chiming in on what needs to be done to fix the American health care system, a group of hospitals has put forth its plan to tackle the issue of covering the nation's 47 million uninsured.

The proposal from the Federation of American hospitals includes mandatory coverage for all and subsidies for the working poor. Although the group only covers about 20% of the hospital industry, its latest proposal stands in line with all the other suggestions that range from privately-funded health ca re accounts to free health care for all.

This latest proposal would increase federal spending by $115 billion and would actually build on -- not replace -- the employer-based health system where most Americans already receive health coverage.

Myth or fact about bay leaves and roaches

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In my recent move to Virginia, we found an older home to move into that was built in the early 1900's. We love the spacious rooms, hardwood floors, and stone architecture. But one problem we have had is keeping control of a roach population due to a damp basement and lots of leaves and foliage around the house. I hate putting out toxic chemicals because of our family dogs and birds and also our health. I try to use as many natural cleaning and organic products as possi ble. Cleaning thoroughly of course usually takes care of the situation and maintaining a safe and healthy way to store outside and inside trash usually helps cut down the amount of nesting roaches. But it seemed like they were here to stay and were fine with sharing the space with us as the new dwellers in the home.

In a conversation with my 93 year old grandmother a few days ago, she mentioned that she always kept bay leaves out in her cabinets to keep roaches away. I wondered if this was one of those old wives tales or a myth so decided to do some research on the subject and found out several websites that recommended putting bay leaves out to keep away roaches. At a few dollars a box for bay leaves it is well worth a try to keep harmful chemicals out of my house. It makes my cabinets and trash areas smell nice too.

Employers becoming more nutritionally aware in Africa

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Employers around the world have a vested interest in helping employees eat right and take care of themselves emotionally and physically. If they don't bad workplace performance can happen and lost productivity can cause untold amounts of loss, both in soft and hard dollars.

That concept is not lost on companies operating in Africa, as many are now offering an enriched porridge which is being used to boost the health of thousands of Africans. Why? To reduce absenteeism and boost the health of African workers.

The porridge is e-pap, which is a ma ize-based cereal developed for the poor. It contains 28 essential nutrients and was originally developed to protect Africans naturally against the HIV virus, which causes AIDS.

Smoking ban coming to Maryland?

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Smoking bans are already instituted in public places in many U.S. states, as well as public restaurants and buildings where non-smokers tend to want a toxic-free breathing area.

Add the state of Maryland to that group, which is apparently poised to jump on the bandwagon that bans smoking in enclosed public spaces. With the U.S. Surgeon General specifically stating that second-hand smoke clearly kills people, this move by Maryland (and others) could not have come sooner.

A U.S. official with the Department of Health and Human Services added that "Despite the great progress that has been made, involuntary exposure to second-hand smoke remains a serio us public health hazard that can be prevented by making homes, workplaces and public places completely smoke-free."

So true it is -- although private homes are, well, private homes. That is one area that will always be open to smoking most likely.

Automated trendmill rebuilds muscles after stroke

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In partially paralyzed stroke patients, using a specially-designed treadmill with assistance from robot-driven leg supports may help rebuild muscle mass in those patients, according to German researchers.

The Lokomat's research team stated that the success of physical rehabilitation after a stroke depends on active walking exercises -- and assistance from a robotically enhanced treadmill made exercise possible for stroke victims -- who generally find that the after-effects of stroke make exercise almost impossible.

Although the Lokomat was initially designed to help treadmill training in paraplegic patients, it seems naturally suited to assist partially paralyzed victims of stroke.

3 steps to wellness

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When dealing with illness, be it a simple cold or something major, one of the best things you can do is pay attention to your body and take care of yourself. This article relates health to a straight line, and then goes with the idea that there are 3 steps to take to get yourself down that line to a place of wellness.

Whether you buy into the idea that these steps can really "cure" you or not, the advice is still good -- it never hurt anybody to reduce toxins and add antioxidants, and it certainly won't make anything worse to reduce some stress in your life.

Dean Foods says no to milk from cloned cows

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When the news came out that the FDA had passed preliminary approval to allow milk and meat from cloned animals into the food supply, public reaction was mixed. Sixty four percent of people polled said that they had at least some level of discomfort with buying milk or meat from cloned animals, and dairy companies were listening.

Smaller companies like Ben and Jerry's have already made a pledge not to use foods from cloned animals in their products. This week food giant Dean Foods made their own stand, saying that milk from cloned cows would not be allowed into their products. Dean Foods is the largest milk company in the United States and also owns the popular, though sometimes controversial, Horizon Organics.

Obviously, Dean Foods is trying to protect their bottom line with their statement and worry that if consumers think their wholesome milk products have been sullied by clones, they may choose an alternative. What's interesting to me is that, though Dean Foods has said that milk or meat from clones will not be allowed in their product, this article points out that they did not say whether milk and meat from the offspring of clones will be allowed. Those who promote cloning say that it won't be the actual cloned animals themselves tha t make their way into the food supply, but generation after generation of their offspring. It'll be interesting to see if Dean Foods takes their ban that one step further, or if this is just a PR move to placate their customers. What do you think?

Girl scouts cut trans fats from cookies

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If a Girl Scout comes knocking on your door this week peddling cookies, she may have an interesting tidbit of information for you: each serving of Girl Scout cookies is now trans-fat free.

By finding what they thought were suitable replacements for partially hydrogenated oils, the bakeries that create the addictive little cookies reformulated the recipes to reflect a healthier attitude. Not only did they want to sell a better product, Girl Scout leaders claim, but they also thought the change sent a better message the the girls in their programs. The Girl Scouts will also now be offering a sugar-free cookie and one that has reduced amounts of saturated fats.

Before you eat a whole row of Tagalongs or fill up on Thin Mints, remember that these cookies are still a treat. In fact, as the Girl Scouts themselves point out, they aren't even technically free of trans fats. Each serving has less than a half of gram trans fats, which allows foods to be labeled as trans fat free, but if you eat two or three (or four or five) servings, you'll be packing on 1-3 grams of unhealthy fats as well as loads of sugar. Kudos to the Girl Scouts, though, for making their annual sale a little bit healthier.