Wednesday, 7 March 2007

How many calories... in a McDonald's Deluxe Breakfast?

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I like anything that comes in a variety packs. I think buying the non-assorted box of granola bars is like buying a box full of all orange crayons: too much of the same good thing.

So, naturally, if I'm ever at McDonald's during breakfast hours (which, I know, is not a smart move in the first place) I am drawn to the Deluxe Breakfast, which includes a little bit of everything: pancakes, scrambled eggs, hash browns, a biscuit, and sausage (except I'm a vegetarian so until they start offering veggie links, the sausage gets tossed.)

But assuming I ate everything included in the meal, how many calories are in the McDonald's Deluxe Breakfast?

A) 770 calories
B) 900 calories
C) 1220 calories
D) 1280 calories

Continue reading How many calories... in a McDonald's Deluxe Breakfast?

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What's your morning ritual?

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In the healthiest of my dreams, I wake up to do sun salutations, take some quiet time to drink a steamy mug of green tea and ease into my day with intention, calm and purpose.

In reality, I wake up most mornings to the sound of my toddler yelling out through the monitor, "I want to get out!" or "Mommy, where are you?!" I scramble out of bed and into his room and pray he'll let me cuddle him in the rocking chair, holding on to a few last desperate moments of that sleepy/slightly conscious haze.

If you have a child -- or anything else jarring -- as your alarm clock, perhaps it is time to tune up the way you wake up. This article offers two simple solutions for creating a morning ritual that may just help fuel your entire day. (Although the article is written by someone who calls himself Dr. Mao, it does have a surprising tone of self-care rather than say, a Chairman Mao-ish self-militarizing tone.)

If you are still debating what your ideal wake-up entails, I also recommend you weigh in here -- for real or for funny -- on this question, "What is the perfect morning ritual?" The comments section holds some good reality checks as well as some intriguing ideas for getting your day going in a good frame of mind.

Workplace Fitness: Detox Your Desktop

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Think about it, how much time do you spend at your desk every day? Depending on what kind of job you have, you may actually be spending more waking hours time sitting there than being anywhere else in a typical day or week. And if you're like me, you not only eat snacks at your desk on a daily basis, but at least a couple times a week eat your lunch there too. And blow your nose, and drink coffee, and talk on the phone...the list goes on and on. So with all that germy living happening right there on your desk, how often do you clean it? And that doesn't mean brushing the crumbs aside, it means bust-out-the-Lysol-scrub-it-down clean. I'm guessing rarely, if not never. I admit that my desk looks pretty clean, but I have never actually disinfected it. And in light of studies like the one Clorox funded that says women have the dirtiest offices, maybe I should do that sometime -- soon.

Here are 5 ways to "detox your desktop," and some of them are pretty nifty:

Continue reading Workplace Fitness: Detox Your Desktop

Atkin's diet beats other diets in study

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Which recent diet method is the best at keeping off weight and actually being healthy? According to results out of a new study, the low-carb, high-fat Atkins diet is the best. Runner ups include the Zone diet, the Ornish diet and others in one of the biggest and longest head-to-head studies of popular weight-loss plans.

Even with the results that placed the Atkins diet first, the study's critics say that it is still very hard to lose weight and keep it off. Specifically, overweight women on th e Atkins plan lost more weight over a year than those on the low-carb Zone diet, as this study centered on women only.

The Stanford research team that ran and published the study say that the Atkins diet now should be considered a more healthy diet than most, even while critics of the study conclude that it was not a fair comparison -- because by the end, few women were following any of the diets very strictly. That's a good point -- if the diet is not followed except leisurely, are the results worth anything?

Kick that bad nutrition habit

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Are you working to get that weight dropped? How about starting (and maintaining) an exercise program? If so, you've probably experienced the dreaded "burnout" that we all face from time to time. There are ways to keep on the right track and motivate yourself, though.

Below are some tips to get you through the kicking of that bad habit. You may have seen these before, and they are all still very prudent to follow.

1. Define your goals and then commit yourself to achieving them.
2. Don't do it alone. Get help.
3. Establish clear and realistic sub-goals and timelines.
4. Add competing desirable behaviors to compensate for the elimination of bad habits.
5. Allow for some slippage - but not constant slippage.
6. Reward yourself!

Are you ready to lose weight?

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The statistics on dieting can be pretty depressing. Many Americans are on a "diet" and even more have fallen off their diet. It's a discouraging cycle that can lead to gaining back lost weight and then some. Weight loss takes commitment, dedication, and perhaps most of all, preparedness.

WebMD has a list of questions to ask yourself before setting out to lose those extra pounds. Rather than starting your diet over again each morning (or every Monday as the case may be), try sitting down with these questions and answering them honestly. If you aren't ready, you aren't take some time to examine and work through those issues that might be sabotaging you.

When you are ready to lose weight, here's a list of ideas to help you stick to your plan. Slow and steady, patient and determined, healthy and moderate...those are the diet characteristics that will help you cross the finish line to your goal weight.

The Million Pound March

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In an effort to make a stand against the ever-growing obesity epidemic flooding through our great nation, the website is asking people to log onto www.millionpoundmarch .com and pledge how many pounds they plan to lose before the deadline. Then, to help you meet your pledge experts will be available online to give tips, support, and motivation.

This is definitely worth a look because it sounds like you'll not only get support, but all kinds of fun and interesting ways to track your progress and find strength in numbers.

FDA Chief doesn't want tobacco regulation

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The pressure from some groups for the U.S. government to regulate the manufacture and sale of tobacco is finding a foe in the current chief of the Federal Drug Administration. The head of the FDA stated government regulation of tobacco would cause smokers to light up more and inhale more deeply as an indirect result.

Not sure where that data came from or how those stats were measured and compiled, but the FDA chief stated that if the FDA reduced nicotine levels in cigarettes, people would tailor their smoking habits to maintain current levels of the addictive drug. There is probably a portion of that which is true -- but how does one know?

Truth is, nobody knows -- the only way to see if to lower the nicotine levels and see how smokers react. It's anybody's guess and for those addicted to the drug known as the cigarette, they'll keep puffing away for now.

Ten great foods to feed your children

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One of my favorite personal bloggers just asked the question of her readers: "So what do you feed your kids?" I'm always curious to hear the answer to that question, because I'm always looking for more nutritious meal and snack ideas to feed my own children.

Here's an article that claims to list the ten best foods for kids, and if you're looking to impro ve your children's nutrition it's a good place to start. There are some excellent sources of protein listed, including peanut butter (for non-allergic kids, of course) and eggs, and top notch produce like cantaloupe and broccoli. Dr. Bob Sears recommends putting out a "nibbling tray" of cut up fruits and veggies for young kids to graze on throughout the day, kind of like a fruit bowl for older children. You might be surprised to see orange juice on the list, since juice has gotten such a bad rap in recent years. Orange juice is loaded with vitamins and even counts as a serving of fruit, so go ahead and serve it up (as long as it doesn't replace milk and water).

What did they leave out? Let's hear it! What nutritious foods are your kids eating?

From the breast to Burger King?

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Just wanted to spout out about s omething that really irritates me. I know a woman I'll call Nancy who was totally adamant that her baby only be nursed for the first year of his life. Formula was too "dangerous and unhealthy" for her. Nursing 100% is completely great with me, and just FYI ... I nursed both of my children for about a year as well. Mine were given formula here and there though and I truly felt it made no difference. To each her own, right?

Nancy nursing her son was terrific, but Nancy was also a big idiot about others who gave formula. A BIG IDIOT. Constantly putting down the formula, and baby food, and everything else. What drives me most crazy about this buffoon is that as soon as her boy turned one year old I caught her several times with a stroller tray full of Burger King cheeseburger bits and french fries!

Nursing is phenomenal. But don't go from strictly giving your kid the BEST food to the WORST food. What the heck is that all about? That first year of a child's life is crucial to development and counts so much. Nursing is not sustainable forever. What matters most are the habits you give them to grow on. Sustainable and realistic habits that will set them on course for a healthy childhood, followed by a long and vibrant life. Parents.Com has some great advice on pursuing this option.

Continue reading From the breast to Burger King?

Early childhood fever linked to reduced allergies later

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A new study conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has concluded that infants who experience fevers before their first birthday are less likely to develop allergies by ages six or seven.

This conclusion lends a sliver of light in that early childhood infections may in fact play a role in preventing the onset of allergies and allergic reactions later in life for many kids.

Asthma has not done anything but increase in recent years, and some think that the reduction of exposure to infections early in life may be playing a role. As with allergic reactions, asthma can be a huge issue for a child -- and in a sense, can be a "stealer of childhood", as it is called in some circles.

Margarine or butter?

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Are you a fan of butter or margarine on that roll, slice of bread or muffin? In some ways, margarine is better for you -- but in many other ways, butter is better. The truth is that both are bad in varying amounts -- but I will take butter over margarine any day (in moderation, that is).

Butter contains natural amounts of trans fats -- and come bakers and chefs are a little miffed due to the "over-hyping" that trans fats are getting right now. Would you rather have artificially-processed fats like palm oil or margarine in that recipe -- or natural butter (albei t with a small amount of trans fat)?

As usual, manufacturers need to be able and use buzzwords like "100% trans fat fee" to the public who generally reads headlines (not details), so even though some small trans fat amounts occur in some foods, some producers are having to get rid of them all, regardless.

What do you think?

Secrets of the French diet

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Whether the French really do or don't "get fat," this article outlining the secrets of the French diet is brimming with great tips, not only for weight loss but for living a healthier life in general.

For instance, did you know that a carton of yogurt in the United States is 82% larger than one found in Paris? Even our candy bars are bigger. Portions in the U.S. are growing larger all the time, and have us busting out of our seam s. That's not to say, however, that the French don't enjoy their food; full fat cheeses, wine, five course meals, even a bit of chocolate for desert...they really do have it all, they just eat less of it.

Some other tips include adding as many fresh, whole foods to your diet as possible, eating together as a family, learning to slow down and enjoy the flavor of your meal, and adding more enjoyable activity to your day. Try this on for size: the next time you fill your plate, give yourself half as much as you usually would and plan on going back for seconds. Chances are, you'll be full, but if you aren't, you can go ahead and have that second helping without the guilt. There's plenty more where that came from, so click on over and read the rest of the tips, then come back and tell us what you think!

Have beautiful hair color, without the chemicals

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What woman hasn't at least considered coloring her hair at some point? You're truly lucky if you haven't, but I think that even if you honestly like your natural color it's not uncommon to be curious about other looks and think about trying something different. That's not to say that many men don't want to color also, though probably more often to cover grays than anything else. But for many people the dangerous chemicals used in traditional salon hair-dye is a serious concern, but there are oth er options out there.

From lemon juice or rhubarb (for blonde) to sage or walnut hulls (for brown to black), it all depends on what you're looking for. It is advised, as with any risky business such as hair color, that you do a test run before you dive in head first and potentially end up with a disaster. Although these options are all-natural, they aren't necessarily easier. it will probably take a little more time to fine-tune the color you want.

Powergrape products may compete with sports drinks

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Ready for a change from that PowerAde or Gatorade sports drink? How about other sports nutrition products? A very interesting new product called Powergrape contains grape extracts with specific ratios of different polyphenol families. I have not tried this product yet, but it sounds very promising after reading about its origins and ingredients.

Berkem is the manufacturer of the Powergrape product, and it is touting this products after the results from a study of its ingredients on sports players was completed.

The Powergrape product appears to not only be good for sports drinks and other related products, but may also find its way into supplements that are geared at tackling oxidative stress. In a sense, this is an "anti-aging" product as well.

Allergy season about to flare up asthma sufferers

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I've already written about childhood asthma today -- but what about adult asthma and all the complications it can bring? Spring is nearly here for much of the country, and that means ragweed and pollen season is about to make life miserable for many (including me).

With that said, it's been widely stated that allergies are actually the most common form ... of asthma. The connection that gets lost here is that most asthma suffers do not know that pollen or other allergens are triggering their asthma attacks.

What this end s up being called "short bouts of allergies" are actually asthma attacks in some form. With more than 17 million Americans having asthma, expect more information on the connection between allergies and asthma this year -- especially if that ragweed is all over the nation's air.

Breast cancer radiation ups heart disease risk

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Are those radiation treatments for breast cancer patients upping the risk for cardiovascular disease? According to a report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, it may indeed.

Even newer radiation treatments (like the treatments from 30 years ago) elevate heart disease risk, according to this study.

The study also recommended that doctors should still be aware of the potentially increased risk of cardiovascular disease here. Specifically, the risk that follows the specific radiotherapy regimens in long-term breast cancer survivors .

The compromise lies in trying to catch breast cancer early through prudent screenings and other tools -- before it spreads to the point of requiring treatments (any kind of treatments, really).

Aspirin risks outweigh benefits for many

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Do you take a daily aspirin to ward off those potential, cancerous maladies that aspirin can apparently "ward off"? Well, a panel of U.S. experts said this week that the risks of aspirin -- including stomach bleeding -- outweigh its potential benefits in preventing colon cancer.

The study concluded that in people who have just an average risk of cancer, aspirin may do worse in its detriments than it can to help prevent that certain type or colon cancer (widely seen as the most deadly cancer type).

Moral of the story (or study): if you don't have any reason to believe you may be predisposed to colon cancer, there is no reason for that daily aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to try to prevent it.

Women aging gracefully in the music industry

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The hot topic with one of my music groups, a female singer songwriting organization known as Indiegrrl, is how to keep yourself marketable as you get older and have to compete with the young gals in the music business.

Ahh Yes. The body parts going south, the hair going white, the wrinkles in your face and neck starting to look like raisins, the hot flashes are like tropical vacations, and your joints so stiff that you walk like you just got off a bucking horse. I'll hit the big 50 this year and I have earned every wrinkle, white hair, and less than perky body part. Here lately I have felt like I was 100. So how can we age gracefully to stay in the game with the younger gals or should we just accept what what is.

It's hard for older women in the music industry business unless you were an established very well known artist in the days of "Yore". Especially hard for independent artists not signed with major record labels. But you can't lose sleep over it and worry yourself to a stressed state. What you will have to do is find the niche that you can market yourself. It may sometimes mean doing more exercise and watching what you eat more which is hard when you are on the road. It may mean less alcohol to relax after a show and more herbal teas. It may mean that you have to have that 8 or 9 hours of sleep instead of that 5 or 6. Although my band a nd I can rock with the best of them it is hard to get clubs to book a more than middle aged, short chubby gal that doesn't wear tight jeans or mini skirts and shake her "groove thang" at the crowd. I didn't get started in this business as a solo artist until I was 45 so I was a very late bloomer. Got cancer and got busy living my dreams. My advice to those middle aged or older women in the music business or any business that is male dominated or dominated by the more youthful crowd, is to be honest and promote yourself as close to the picture of reality as possible. I personally tell night club agents or theater personnel when working bookings that, yes I am not your young twenty well built, gorgeous marketable female, but if you have a crowd that likes true to gut vocals and heart felt lyrics with some kick ass musicians that accompany me on stage while I rip at my guitar, then we are your band. If that is not what you are looking for then I'm not wasting your time or mine. I've taken so much prednisone over the years that I am as well rounded as the "Great Halloween Pumpkin" Charlie Brown but it all boils down to being comfortable with yourself. Personally I think Emmylou's long white locks are just as pretty as her long dark locks of days past. And Stevie Nicks may have packed on a few extra pounds over the years but oh how her eyes still sparkle with mystery. It is the true fan that will know when a woman has character with her body and her music.
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ADHD drugs see triple growth usage rates

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ADHD seems to be consistently in the news, and more and more centered around children. ADHD can plague adults and kids, but the management of kids with ADHD seems to merit all the press in most cases.

So, it's not hard to imagine that the overall use of drugs to treat ADHD disorders has in fact tripled in global use since 1993, according to U.S. researchers this week.

That's just a tiny amount over 14 years -- and we have a tripling of ADHD sufferers using drugs. Either tons of more diagnoses have happened in that time, or the pharmac eutical industry saw a cash cow and decided to cash in -- because are more and more kids actually having ADHD these days? That's a question without a direct answer.