Wednesday, 4 April 2007

What to do (and not to do) to lose weight efficiently

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Are you trying to get your body in swimsuit ready shape? You likely aren't alone and as spring descends upon the country the number of people trying to lose weight and tone up is only going to increase.

Losing weight is hard work, but sometimes we make it harder than it has to be by avoiding exercise or depriving ourselves into a slower metabolism or even binge eating. If you're trying to lose weight, check out this article from eDiets about the dos and don'ts of weight loss. According to author and fitness guru Brad Schoenfeld, successful dieters:

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Can man's best friend do yoga? Really?

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My dog and I exercise together nearly every day. All I have to do is whistle and she's at the door, so excited I can hardly put on her leash to take her for our daily walk or jog. But doggie yoga? That's a new one for me!

The class, which is offered by a Seattle area humane society, was developed as a way for people to spend time with their pets and to encourage exercise. The yoga poses used in the class are either chosen or modified to be done while staying in physical contact with the dogs. For instance, during "downward facing dog," humans gently rest their heads on their pets. Participants say their pets love it and often relax during classes, and the people in the class benefit from some extra exercise and socializing with their pets.

I'm all for new and innovative ideas that get people exercising and socializing, so good for them! I have to add, though, that I love this picture. That's exactly what my dog would be doing, only she'd probably be lying on her back, feet in the air...lazy thing. I think we'll stick to our daily walks; we both need the exercise!

Are you drinking enough water? And, losing weight?

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Many nutrition and diet experts suggest that most people drink about 60 to 80 ounces of pure, fresh water every day. That's quite a few glasses of water and many of us would be up all day refilling that glass if these suggestions were followed.

My advice? Get a few 20-ounce glass bottles and use them as refillable, daily water containers. Three of these bottles per day and you've reached a very good amount of water intake. Oh yeah, sip throughout the day -- don't "binge" drink your water.

A great side benefit here? Losing weight -- the "water" way. Want to read just why drinking a daily dose of water -- and lots of it -- can lead to metabolic conditions that lead to weight loss?

Will dancing like the stars give you an equally hot body?

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Are you in total awe of the gorgeous long lean muscles being flaunted by the stars and dancers appearing on the television show Dancing with the Stars? Me too! I can imagine lots of people around the country are jumping on the dancing bandwagon because of it as well. Is it realistic to think you too will look like them?

Maybe so! It depends on what you're willing to put into it. Keep in mind that this TV gig is the stars new job. So, they are doing it 10 hours a day to prepare. They probably also have a huge load of folks helping them with their food choices etc. But you can do it too.

Just choose up front how high to set your bar. Do you want to dance to lose some pounds and increase your overall stamina, strength and flexibility? If so, then join a class or do your own high kicking routine in the living room a few times a week, and you'll see results within weeks. If you want the same ripped legs and abs that the stars flaunt every Monday night, you're going to have to do quite a bit more.

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My Florida Gators win second straight NCAA basketball title and teach life lesson

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Last night I watched and cheered as my Alma mater's basketball team won the Big Dance. Again! It was a spectacular feat which was well earned. I've had the luxury to sit court-side at many games this year, and as wonderful as they look on television, they're even more impressive in person. I have tons of respect for this team.

The Gators are composed of incredible athletes who play selflessly every second of every game. Each Gator works hard in the gym and on the court more for the guy next to him than for himself. They are quick, agile, strong and smart. Each player is a coach's dream. Since they play for one another, they never made excuses or trained half way.

If you're looking for fitness role models, the Gators are it. If you're a parent, child, or spouse choose your precious family members as your "team". Pursue fitness as desperately as this magical team pursued two national titles in a row. You have the ability to live a champion's life of longevity and health if you put your mind to it. Live to truly enjoy your golden years with the special people in your life, and allow them to enjoy you.

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Daily Fit Tip: Cut the fat and easily lose weight

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Losing weight doesn't necessarily require major life changes. Although adopting great habits is certainly for the best, you can absolutely avoid hunger and eat the same amount of food you always have by simply eliminating two ingredients. Butter and oil. Yes, margarine falls in the butter category too. For example, in my book there isn't a thing wrong with any version of lean meat; it's what we do to it that makes it so hideously fattening.

Do you know that one ounce of unsalted butter packs 141 calories of which 140 come from fat? One tablespoon of Olive Oil packs 119 completely fat-laden calories. Grilled chicken breast 210 calories, 30 from fat. Fried chicken breast 410 calories, 150 from fat. Only difference is chicken #2 was cooked in OIL! Chicken #1 saves you 200 calories! Do that throughout the day and you'd lose several pounds per week!

So, here's how you make the change. Eat the same amount of meat you've always eaten, just don't fry or sauté it. Instead you can bake, broil, boil, grill, roast, toast, barbecue, microwave or Lean Mean Grilling' machine your food. Butter and oil are used to flavor your food and make sure it doesn't stick to the pan. A better option is to choose one of the bazillion healthier options such as: catsup, mustard, vinegar, barbecue, teriyaki, soy, jerk, or marinara sauce (all fat free). Teflon prevents sticking. Catsup shouldn't go in a car and oil shouldn't go in your body. Be choosy about the food you eat and you'll be on your way to smaller jeans and a healthier heart to boot.

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Ask Fitz! Your Fitness Questions Answered

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Have fitness questions? Fitz has your answer. Our fitness expert -- and now your own virtual personal trainer -- will help you get fit, increase your overall health and do it in a fun way. Drop your questions here in the Comments section below and we'll choose two per week to publish on That's Fit! Learn more about Fitz here.

Q. How much does age play a factor in fitness? I understand that the older I get, the harder I may have to work to keep my figure. But is it possible to have the body of my 20s again, without working out being my career! Janice.

A. Hola chica, great question! There are a few factors that change you body as you age, but I see no reason you couldn't have an even better body than you had in your 20s. For the most part, you are what you are, and your structure only varies slightly over the years. . Hips may widen during pregnancy, but for some girls that may be a lovely thing! Skin may change do your environmental choices and elasticity loss, but your body is what it is.

If you're looking to be thinner, you'll always have the ability to burn more calories and consume less. If you're looking to be more curvy or strong, you can always strength train. Stretching is a great option for creating super posture. I love my job as a fitness trainer, because as I tell my clients, "short of crushing bones...there's nothing we can't accomplish". You too, can create your best body once again. Working out does not have to be your life, but if you want to look great it has to be a priority. Let me know how it goes! Fitz

Q. Dear Fitz. I can't afford to buy a treadmill or even a weight set to get in shape at home. Can I use stuff around the house as a substitute? Not a lot of cash but a lot of commitment. Dave

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How many calories ... in a deviled egg?

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If your family celebrates Easter, you may find yourself with a refrigerator full of rainbow, hard-boiled eggs after this weekend. When the egg hunt and the basket-filling is over (be sure to follow food safety rules on on those egg hunts!), what can you do with all the eggs? The two most popular ways to use hard-boiled eggs are for egg salad sandwiches and, my favorite, deviled eggs.

We know eggs offer protein and lots of nutrients all packed into a tiny package. So, how many calories are packed into two halves of a deviled egg?

A) 80 calories
B) 140 calories
C) 190 calories
D) 220 calories

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Do you need to get a mammogram? The debate continues...

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If you were unsure before whether you needed a yearly mammogram or not, a recent recommendation by the American College of Physicians just may have made the issue a little murkier. The physicians group recently announced their new guidelines that recommend yearly mammograms for women 50 and over, but not necessarily for younger women. Women age 40 to 49, says the group, should discuss their own personal risk of developing the disease with their doctor every 1 to 2 years, and decide for themselves whether to get the screening.

The group maintains that while mammograms have been proven to prevent breast cancer deaths in women over 50, it hasn't shown as much success with women in younger age groups. They say younger women should consider the risks of false positives, false reassurance, and radiation exposure. The group isn't saying women under 50 shouldn't get mammograms, only that they should consider whether the benefit outweighs the potential risk.

The American Cancer Society disagrees, calling the recommendation a "step backwards," and saying that current recommendations were developed with years of research in mind. With the most current guidelines being challenged, I'm sure this isn't the last we'll hear on this topic.

Workplace Fitness: 25 ways to keep your career healthy, and happy

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Having a "healthy career" is more complicated than just working in a non-smoking building and taking the stairs every day instead of the elevator. It's really about the whole picture, how your life and your career fit together with who you are. This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart -- I really believe that doing what you love is important to being really truly happy in life. So here's a list of things you can do to find, or keep, a healthy career:

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Depressed parents can take a toll on kids

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As Bethany wrote on earlier, a new study concluded that children who have at least one depressed parent will most likely use more health-care services. Services like visits to the emergency room and to specialists were noted, and these are considered high-cost health care services as well.

Previous research into the same situation came up with the same results, but this newer study was much larger. However, there are two studies that state the same conclusion. Depressed parents produce "unhealthy" or problem-prone kids when it comes to the amount of health care needed, right? Perhaps.

It's been estimated that 47% parents may suffer depression. that, in turn, can affect child behavioral, developmental, psychological and physiologic health in an adverse way. The study found that teenagers of depressed parents had fewer well-child-care visits but more visits to emergency rooms and specialty clinics.

Red meat raises risk of breast cancer

A recent study suggests that red meat dramatically increases older women's risk of breast cancer.

According to the University of Leeds, post-menopausal women are 56% more likely to contract breast cancer even if they eat only one serving of red meat per day (as compared to women who ate no red meat). The risk jumps to 64% for those who eat processed meat like bacon and sausages.

And it's not just older women. Pre-menopausal women who ate lots of red meat also showed an increased risk of breast cancer (though the numbers weren't nearly as high). In fact, researchers found a link between cancer risk and high meat consumption across every age bracket.

On the other hand, younger women who ate the most fiber were able to reduce their risk of breast cancer by half.

Given the results of this study, and considering scientists estimate that "approximately 30% of all cancers in Western countries are linked to diet," maybe it's time to pay closer to attention to what you eat.

Simple "name test" may help screen babies for autism

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Autism is a complex spectrum of disorders that often doesn't get diagnosed in children until three or four years of age. But a recent study found that a simple screening may raise a red flag for parents when their children are as young as one. Simply put, if your child can not routinely respond to their own name at 12 months of age, you may want to consider getting an evaluation done.

Researchers followed a group of nearly 150 infants, 46 of whom were a control group and 101 at-risk children whose siblings had already been diagnosed with the disorder. At 12 months, all of the control group infants passed the "name test," but only 86% of the at-risk infants responded. At two years of age, 3/4 of the infants who did not pass the name test were found to have developmental delays of some kind.

Experts stress that failing the name test does not mean a child has autism. Instead, children who don't regularly respond to their name at 1 year may need to be evaluated to be sure their development is on track. The earlier a problem is diagnosed, the sooner intervention can be started.

How fat is your country?

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It's more or less common knowledge that the United States is the fattest country in the world. But if you're not American, how does your country stack up? Are the Dutch bigger than the Danish, or vice versa? What about the Italians, the Norwegians, the Irish?

The smart folks at Wikipedia have compiled an easy-to-read chart of the world's largest countries, ranking them by the percentage of the total population with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30. (A BMI greater than 30 is considered obese.)

It may not help you reach new fitness goals, but it's interesting to know how your county stacks up.

Errors in U.S. hospitals on the rise

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Are you satisfied that when you enter a medical facility, the information processing will lead to the absolute minimal amount of errors that directly affect the quality of your care? While errors in hospitals have led to unnecessary surgeries and huge blunders in the last, these are exceptions. But, are there still many errors happening in hospitals these days?

A report released a few days ago stated that patient safety incidents in U.S. hospitals increased by 3% overall from 2003 to 2005 - so in fact, errors have gotten worse. The report also concluded that the error gap between the nation's best- and worst-performing hospitals remained wide.

In other words, you may want to research the hospital you use to determine if it has a higher error rate than the competition. While this is easily not the only criteria used to decide where to receive care, it's a biggie, yes?

Predicting epilepsy, is it possible?

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Patients that suffer a traumatic brain injury, from motor vehicle accidents to war-injuries from Iraq, are at an increased risk for developing the seizure disorder epilepsy -- on top of the many challenges they already face. But time and energy are now being focused on this somewhat newly realized issue, and efforts are being made to both identify those who are at highest risk and then intervene to help them avoid it if possible.

Sadly, the technology isn't completely there yet, and doctors are often frustrated because they know a particular patient is at high risk but can do nothing about it. On the up side, however, experts are gaining a better understanding of the condition every day, and several new drugs are showing definite promise in studies.

Quitting smoking, genetic predisposition linked

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Many of us have heard that a genetic predisposition may make us more susceptible to certain diseases and even lifestyle choices in some form. How about smoking?

New research shows that smokers without certain DNA may face an even tougher battle kicking the habit. So, genetic predisposition comes to the forefront of kicking the smoking habit for good. Perhaps this demonstrates why some folks are successful at quitting smoking while others fails repeatedly?

the new research stated that people who were able to quit smoking had variants in 221 genes that weren't found in smokers who weren't able to kick the habit. Now, if those genes can be proven to be linked to the heightened possibility to eradicating smoking, that's great. Where is the solution for those without the disposition?

Can these "thin foods" help you lose weight?

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Even when I'm trying to lose weight, I consider all (plain) veggies "free" and never count them in my calorie total for the day. Why? Because veggies are ultra-low in calories, loaded with nutrition, and so fiber-rich that they fill you up before you could every possibly overeat them.

That's why veggies are considered a "thin" food, or a food that will help you lose weight. Not all thin foods are green and crunchy, though. Whole grains, calcium-rich dairy products, soy, and nuts are also on the list. The idea is to choose foods that are full of fiber, high in calcium, and have a high water content.

For instance, according to the article, you can try eating a bowl of broth based soup before a meal or drinking a glass of V8. The water content will help fill you up so that when your meal comes you hunger is well under control. If the soup contains plenty of freshly cooked veggies, all the better! And avoiding processed foods will help you lower your fat and salt intake each day. So if you're trying to take off a few pounds, consider adding these "thin" foods to your menu!

Early births linked to depression

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Women who are depressed during their pregnancy are more likely to give birth early.

This according to a new UK study that finds depressed mothers have dramatically higher levels of corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH), the stress hormone that instigates birth.

For most women in the study, the difference in birth date wasn't all that significant -- just 2 days early on average. However, the three participants who gave birth prematurely (before 37 weeks) were all found to be depressed.

While the study was small, involving only 60 women, the lead researcher, Dr Veronica O'Keane, feels it demonstrates a need for greater recognition of depression during pregnancy: "In my opinion, depression is a major cause of pre-term birth because about in about 30% of cases there is no known cause but in that group a large proportion suffer from severe psychosocial stress."

Accordingly, Dr O'Keane feels women with a history of depression may not want to discontinue their antidepressant medication, but rather "should go to a specialist."

Vitamin K helps keep arteries clear

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Want to clear those arteries from calcium deposits and other gunk? Try an increase in your daily intake of vitamin K, according the a new study.

In the study, animals given high levels of vitamin K showed a 37% reduction in calcium buildup in their arteries. The Dutch study out of Europe was the first study on record to show that arterial calcification and resulting decreased arterial elasticity can be reversed by consuming high levels of vitamin K.

In other words, this is yet another example of problems affecting the arteries and heart (most likely) being able to be reversed with proper care and habits. Conclusion? Well, it's always a good idea to eat foods rich in vitamin K anyway, but if you have calcified arteries, it could be a lifesaver.

Getting (and keeping) your head in the game/run/any old workout

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I've always envied runners and the romance of just one person taking one stride at a time around a track, down a stretch of lakefront or toward the finish. What is most alluring to me as I watch runners from the sidelines is their abililty to tap into some inner drive, to keep going in the rain, in pain and with those horrid blisters that make me wince just to imagine.

What's the secret of keeping on track, both physically and mentally, for really committed runners?

Obviously, a runner must train their body to go, whether for short or long distance. According to some endurance runners, however, the brain game is just as important as the training. This article captures the wisdom of Chicago-area runners who are fully physically and mentally committed to courses that stretch out as long as 50 or 100 miles.

Their tips for tuning in are designed for runners of all levels and distances. And even though my bouts of running have never lasted more than a couple of weeks, this article spoke to me with bits of motivation for how to stay focused in yoga, walking and other work-outs that are more my speed.

Here are few of the seasoned runners tune-in tips:
* Switch up your focus. If you're concentrating hard on your aches and pains, blur that out and take in the scenery. Letting go of the "mechanics" of running and embracing the nature around you and abilities of your body may be distraction enough to get you through a rough patch.

* Don't just learn to live with the discomfort, learn to love it.
This is a tough one, right? Because you clearly want to listen to your body tell you when its had enough. For the aches that aren't body-damaging, though, some runners say that the key is to embrace your body (rather than curse it) as it stretches past the comfort zone.

* Believe you can. Don't stress yourself with negative talk. Instead expect that you will accomplish your goals for that run (or as the case may be, for your class or workout). Giving yourself simple, controllable goals, like keeping well hydrated or making it to one water station and then another and then another, will help you feel a sense of accomplishment rather than set in an "all or nothing" attitude that's hard to overcome.

No matter how you're staying fit -- from long run to short swim to deep stretching -- some mental shifting might just take you from sprint to the distance.