Sunday, 1 April 2007

Fight your "fat tooth"

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Not a sweet tooth, but a fat tooth -- do you have one or the other? I, unfortunately, have both! They seem to take turns coming out, though, as sometimes I crave sugary sweets and other times all I want is a big greasy hamburger with lots of cheese.

Scientists have found that the "fat tooth" is really an area of the tongue genetically designed specifically for recognizing fats. It seems that craving fatty foods may be a combination of both learned behavior and biological necessity -- it's well known that many good fats are necessary for a healthy system, but craving a mega-sized carton of French fries is not what your body had in mind. If you can find the right balance, probably through recipes that focus on healthy fats and not totally depriving yourself to the extreme, your "fat tooth" might be less active, and then the cravings will be easier to resist.

No pain, no gain: The '300' workout

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The movie 300 is full of beautiful bodies -- the star, Gerard Butler's, in particular. A physique like that doesn't come easy, and what's quickly becoming famous as "The 300 Workout" is not something just anybody can, or should, try. The routine was designed by Mark Twight and includes everything from push-ups and pull-ups to dead lifts and box jumps -- reading through how the actors were trained it sounds more like a lesson in boot-camp torture than a typical day at the gym.

The actual 12 week training system Mark Twight put Gerard Butler and the other actors through in order to get in "Spartan shape" may not be something for the average Joe (or Jane) to jump right into, but if you're motivated enough to do the necessary preparations (like talking to your doctor!) then you can get there eventually. And with all the press the movie and this new workout is getting, look for some modified -- and more realistic -- versions to be hitting a gym near you.

Fit Pregnancy: The long, strange trip

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In our Fit Pregnancy feature, blogger Jennifer Jordan speaks her mind about maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Every two weeks through March 31, 2007 she'll weigh in on exercise, diet, wellness and other health-related issues as she manages her own journey from pregnancy to motherhood.

Well, as you can see I am technically due to have my baby today. While I don't expect to actually bring him into the world this Saturday I decided to go ahead and get my post taken care of earlier in the week in case he decides the be unlike the rest of my family (God love 'em) and show up on time. So, let's just assume for the sake of argument that as of this writing I have no baby, but by the time you read it I may well be somebody's mommy.

I've officially had a few weeks to myself to prepare for the baby and his homecoming as well as take care of some personal business, which I have to admit has been really difficult for me. I am a doer, a completer of tasks. It's how I was raised and it's how I am. Without a list of things to do and the ability to check them off I feel pretty useless. The house is clean, the crib is ready, the baby clothes are washed, the whole nine yards. I think our bank account is reconciled for the month. I even managed to get tickets to the Police concert in August for what I assume will be my husband's and my official re-entry in to the social world after months of baby bliss.

So what else was left to do? How about take care of ME. That's been the hard part, and the part your gal pals try to explain to you but that you can't relate to until it happens to you too. And when I say take care of me I don't necessarily mean getting a massage or anything like that. I've had my share of indulgences during this nine months (remember the cupcake incidents?) but those have been mere detours on the road toward motherhood.

Continue reading Fit Pregnancy: The long, strange trip

Fish oil + Statin drugs = heart failure protection?

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A new Japanese study suggests that those who take high doses of fish oil and statin drugs at the same time had fewer heart attacks and cardiovascular problems than those taking drugs alone.

Statins, commonly used to lower 'bad' cholesterol levels and keep those levels safe, are used by millions across the world to ensure their cholesterol levels stay within a normal range. Although there are many natural alternatives to keeping cholesterol levels healthy, pharmaceutical drugs are one of the most popular methods.

Adding a healthy dose of Omega-3 oil-containing fish oil would naturally seem to help high cholesterol sufferers keep cholesterol levels in check and help prevent heart failure, and it seems obvious that combining two cholesterol-fighting substances would produce better results that from a single method.

Anesthesia possibly harmful to young children

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Are kids safe "under the gas" when surgery is required? According to the reiteration of recent reports this past week, anesthesia used in young children can cause possible brain-related side effects (due to the brain still developing in children).

Although the FDA states that they have no evidence that anesthesia and sedation drugs can cause brain damage in children, many recent animal study suggests otherwise.

Numerous animal studies find that a majority of the drugs typically used to knock out children before surgery do kill brain cells in young rats -- but does the same effect apply to young humans as well? According to a study published by FDA scientists this month, experiments on laboratory rats and other animals have shown that the drugs can lead to subtle but prolonged changes in behavior, including memory and learning impairments. Yet the FDA officially says there is no concern. Nice consistency, there.

Coping with a bad diagnosis from the doctor

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If it's your news, or that of a loved one, it's never easy to hear something bad from a doctor. I don't think there's any good way to prepare for the shock that comes from a serious diagnosis, but there are some things you can do to help yourself or a family member deal as positively and effectively as possible.

This article gives 5 ways to help handle the devastation that comes with negative health news, including realizing that the first 48 hours are the worst and not to rush to any decisions. Getting a second opinion is also important, as well as educating yourself on your options and making your own decisions.

Go on, use that blender

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If you have a blender just sitting in a cabinet somewhere and you are used to buying fresh fruit to eat, how about chopping up that fruit, peeling those bananas and oranges, and making a fresh fruit smoothie?

It's true that this can make a small mess and requires a little time -- which most of us do not have in abundance these days. I'm partial to Naked Juice when in a hurry, but when not, I am a decent fan of making my own smoothie.

So, the next time you open that cabinet to see that blender sitting there, get it out and in plain view on the counter -- and you just might be tempted to make fresh fruit smoothies more often. As a breakfast, there is nothing better in my opinion. And wow, do they taste good. Debra even wrote a Fitku about smoothies -- now that is cool!

Control your hunger

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I don't think there would be an obesity epidemic in this country, or in the world for that matter, if we all had the ability to control our own hunger. Sure, there would still be cravings and high-fat foods to deal with, but if we just weren't hungry -- think of all the weight we would lose!

It's not as simple as just learning a new trick, but in some ways it kinda is. It's really about learning what your body needs and how it reacts, and then being consistent with your eating habits. Eating before you end up ravenous, and incorporating protein and fiber into every meal. Other "tricks" include eating several small meals all throughout the day, and limiting simple sugars.

I can do all of these things without much trouble, for spurts at at time. What I struggle with is the part about being consistent!

Why are wild women always thinner?

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This article on eDiets is a bit controversial, and I don't agree with everything it says. What's wrong with being a little domestic? I happen to like the idea of having a nice house and 2.5 kids and all that. But I will say that part of what the author says makes some sense to me: the idea that many women think "growing up" and "being mature" means giving up big parts of themselves -- giving up many of the things that make them happy and help them express who they are.

I also believe the article's point that a balance can be found between growing up and having responsibilities, and still being yourself. I don't know if you have to go so far as comparing yourself to a domesticated house pet, but paying a little attention to yourself and what you need to be happy is always a good thing -- for you and for those around you.

Indian Fashion Week: Healthy curves required

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Curvy models flaunted their stuff at India's Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai. The country was one of the first last year to ban underweight models from the catwalk, and they continue to make the issue a priority by testing all models (male and female) for eating disorders before big events like this one. In addition, the designers were proud to have their clothes displayed on fuller figures.

Glad to see some areas of the fashion industry that are celebrating overall health and beauty, and to see some good press regarding models and modeling. Now if America can just get on this boat we'll be sitting pretty.

Study shows if your friends drink and drive, you will too

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The University of Michigan recently took a look at the habits of about 3,500 young people, and what they found is that people with friends who drink and drive are much more likely to do so themselves. It's less about peer pressure, and more about social circles and what people think when they consider the risks involved -- apparently many aren't thinking things through very well.

The study is prompting policy-makers to take a new look at how they approach the issue, with new efforts focused on changing perceptions of just what the risks of drinking and driving are (it involves so much more than just getting a ticket or losing your license!) and attempting to lessen the social pressures that encourage excessive drinking in the first place.