Thursday, 17 May 2007

Pamper your feet with a medicure

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Nope, that's not a spelling error -- a medicure, or a medical pedicure, is the newest way to treat those feet. Done in both traditional and medical spas, a medicure involves more than soaking and buffing tired feet. Instead, your manicurist looks for common foot problems like corns, bunions, ingrown toenails, fungal infections and even may do a quick check for signs of skin cancer. Then, after a very thorough cleaning, you'll have dead skin and callouses removed with a drill-like tool that has a sandpaper tip. Follow with a massage and you're piggies will be softer, smoother, and healthier than ever before.

High-end medicures can cost up to $100-$125, but budget-minded folks can find them for as low as $30. As with a conventional pedicure, make sure you know your salon practices good hygiene to be sure that your medicure is a safe and healthy experience.

Daily Fit Tip: Get outside!

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In the lazy summer days of my youth, every day was spent outdoors, either terrorizing the nehgbourhood on my bike, whipping down the slides of the park, playing Marco Polo in the pool with my friends or a variety of other activities. The evenings were usually spent with my dad and dog at the park or playing croquet in my backyard.

Today, my summer days are spent frantically rushing around in my car or in my office and I wish for the carefreeness of my childhood again. I do manage to escape the city for a couple of weekend of wilderness adventure, but this summer I'm going to make an effort to spend even more time in the sun. If I had kids, I'd take them to the park every night like my dad did and create the same memories of warm, sunkissed youth for them that he did for me. Or, if the standard park isn't exciting enough for them, I'd try one of the fancy toys that Melissa at the Buzz Off listed here.

Spending time in outside in the summer isn't just for kids -- it's for kids at heart too! So this summer season, get out more, play with the kids and enjoy the nice weather while you can.

FitBeauty Finds: Moon Valley's delish skincare

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On a rare getaway (read: without child) in Seattle for a wedding one weekend, my husband and I stopped for a few hours at the Pike Place Market. We drank coffee from the original Starbucks, we ate scones and fruit from the booths packed full of beautiful organic produce and baked goods, and we lingered at many local artists' booths. And then, we saw the Moon Valley Bees & Botanicals booth.

I'm not a person who usually buys products from booths like this. Maybe a pair of earrings or a handmade card or some glycerin soap, but not something that comes wrapped up at all. But the Moon Valley booth lured me in. With honey.

I sampled. I licked my lips. And then I spotted the tins of lotion, lip balm and skincare products. I was in my new favorite corner of Pike Place.

Moon Valley's products are hand-crafted, natural and do not contain petroleum or animal fats. Most of the botanicals used are "wild crafted" on Moon Valley's land trust farm and the company is committed to consciously growing, manufacturing and distributing its products "from seed to sale."

And here's the best part: Their products are delicious (no, not to eat...get the raw honey for that kind of goodness). They sink into your skin without any lingering greasiness or, even worse, remaining dryness. They smell good and fresh, and are cast into beautiful molds that create sweet forms that fit perfectly in the palm.

The 3 Lotion Pack is a great starter kit if you're detoxing your beauty products of chemicals and perfumey fragrances. It comes with the Lotion Bar, Lip Treat and Body Heal, each tucked in their own tin to stack in the medicine cabinet or separate into your purse, nightstand and gym bag.

The Lip Treat has a slight lemon-vanilla scent and stood up to our Chicago winter winds that blew through until ... well, last week, seemingly. The Lotion Bar is perfect to smooth over the body right after a steamy shower, over hands chapped from washing dishes or gardening, or over those pesky dry spots that get worse in the summer sun. The Body Heal is my new favorite balm to tuck into my gym bag. The minty scent just smells healing and the feathery consistency and arnica make for a nice little post-workout massage.

I am also drooling over the dessert-inspired soaps that can be used on the body, face and hair and are full of herbs and flower essences I feel comfortable using for myself and are safe for my toddler, too.

I love luscious skincare products that have garden-fresh smells, that feel light and sink into skin, that are created consciously with you and the Earth and healing in mind. That's why the next time I get to Seattle, I will be making another stop at Moon Valley's store, the booth I now think of as the sweet spot of Pike Place.




Your airbag and your height: How safe are you?

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The airbag is a wonderful invention, and it saves countless lives every year. But airbags can also be dangerous in their own right, because they need to deploy so quickly and with such force. It's already a well-known fact that young children are at risk for injury from airbags, but some adults are too?

A new study shows that although airbags do a good job at decreasing injuries for adults of average height, they actually increase the risk of getting hurt for very short and very tall individuals. People under 4'11" run a 4% greater risk of getting seriously hurt, and those over 6'3" run a 5% greater risk.

That's got to be stressful for people who fall into those more dangerous height ranges. Airbags come standard on most vehicles these days, so it's not like the minority of very short or very tall people have the choice to pass on that option when buying a new car.

Five exciting but healthy dishes

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Although I've written about how eating healthy can become droll and boring after a while, there are solutions to that madness if you look for them.

Keep in mind here that it will take some effort to eat healthy while keeping your menu exciting. Coking at home with healthy (and varied) dishes will require some neat and exquisite ingredients and some time (which is hard to find these days).

But, once you sit down to eat a delicious yet healthy meal -- especially after preparing it -- there is no greater joy in the arena of health.

Here are some great ideas for tasty and healthy dishes -- which will you be attempting?

Employee health programs help with HTN and diabetes

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I work on the Workplace Fitness feature here at That's Fit, so I read all the time about health at work, and how employers can have major impacts on peoples lives when they make the efforts towards health and wellness programs. Case in point: a new study found that employees who participated in a health program through their job improved their blood pressure and diabetes management by 9% and 15% respectively. There were also other benefits for both employers and employees, such as decreased numbers of absenteeism and fewer and workplace accidents.

With the health care situation the way it is these days, and since healthier people cost less money, I should think employers would be all over this like white on rice. It is slowly catching on, though, so do ask about it at your work. If you have a program available to you then by all means take advantage! And if you don't, well then let your voice be heard that you'd like to see one.

Building a healthy foundation for your family

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"Hurry up!" It seems like some days I say those words 100 times to my kids, and each time I do I want to snatch them back. I'm usually hurrying them along because they've stopped to examine something interesting on the sidewalk or are mulling over exactly which pair of shoes they want to wear. I don't want to be the kind of mom who hurries her kids all the time. Is where we're going really more important than letting my kids stop to examine an anthill or learn to choose and put on their own shoes? Not usually.

Learning to lose the hurry is the first tip in this three-part series called 12 Habits of a Healthy Family. Hurrying not only causes stress, but it also leads to a fast-paced life where you may not feel you have time to prepare healthy snacks and meals. Soon you're spending dinner time at the drive-thru or grabbing candy bars for a quick energy boost, instead of eating family meals together or reaching into the fruit bowl.

Habits are easier to build than they are to break, and this series has some great tips for families who want to build a healthy foundation for their kids. Check it out, and keep your eye out for parts 2 and 3 coming soon.

Meet the Bloggers: Debra McDuffee

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For months now, you've read our thoughts about living fit. Don't you wish you knew more about the people behind the posts? Throughout May, we'll introduce you to our bloggers. We know you're dying to learn if we favor spandex over sweats, the craziest diets we've fallen for, what "forbidden foods" lurk in our pantries, and what motivates us to embrace each lunge after glorious lunge. So, read on. And if you feel like asking us a question we haven't posed for ourselves here, ask away!

Today we introduce Debra McDuffee. In addition to contributing daily posts, Deb contemplates food in You Are What You Eat, and tackles fitness with toddler-in-tow in Working In the Workouts, both weekly features.

1. Who are you?

Debbie McDuffee, mom to Owen, wife to Keith (TV Squad) and blogger for That's Fit.

2. Age you tell people you are.

36 -- why would I lie and have people think I look terrible for my age, heh?

3. Where you're from and where you live now.

I grew up in the same town in Massachusetts where I live now, for no good reason other than we house-hunted for years and found the nicest one here. It is a big advantage for Owen to be so close to his grandparents, though.

4. Do you have a personal blog?

My personal blog is www.debrasrhapsodies.com, with few and far-between posts on motherhood, food and recipes, natural skin care products and more.

5. What is your day job, or rather, what do you do when you're not fitness blogging?

My day job? First and foremost, it is being Owen's mom and making sure than raising my son is a priority. This means play groups, Gymboree classes and playing with a lot of trucks. I do also own a small company where I make and sell all-natural bath and body products.

6. How long have you been blogging with That's Fit and what is your favorite post?

I've been blogging with That's Fit since September (I think) and my favorite post is probably the first one I wrote for my feature, Working in the Workouts. Not only is it personal, but it is the story of my re-motivation for making fitness a priority. Plus, it's got a really cute picture of my son!

7. Do you have a specific fitness background or are you a mere mortal who's just passionate about being healthy and fit -- and living to write about it?

I've got no special fitness background, just a commitment to living a healthy and green lifestyle for the sake of my family and the environment.

8. What's the worst fitness or diet idea you fell for?

I'm not sure I ever fell for anything because I am such a no-nonsense fitness person. How could hiking, walking and simple free weights turn out to be a silly fad?

9. What motivates you to exercise and stay healthy?

Fitness helps me keep up my energy level, my immune system and my smaller size -- how's that for motivation?

10. Who's your favorite fitness role model?

I really don't have a fitness role model, although Fitz looks great for having two kids! :-)

11. What's your exercise "M.O." -- Gym workouts or outdoor endeavors; team or solitary sports?

I flee with terror from any type of gym activity. Give me the open trails and fresh air and I'm good to go. I'm a loner (with a toddler and dog in tow, and occasionally a husband, too), unless you want to hike with me!

12. Choice of fitness gear: Baggy sweats or sultry spandex?

Baggy sweats, of course! Actually, I take that back, as I realize since I exercise outside mostly, my garb changes with the weather. So when I originally wrote this, I was bundled in my sweats. Now I am happy to say yoga capris and a breezy t-shirt have been my workout wear of choice.

13. What's your favorite fitness activity?

Hiking, hiking, hiking ...

14. Do you have any non-fitness-related, non-blogging hobbies?

The original renaissance woman? I love to make soap, read, dabble in home decorating and sewing, shop, cook and eat!

15. Confession time! What nonhealthy food do you eat -- or what unhealthy habit do you indulge in -- that would get you banned from That's Fit? What's your excuse for doing so?

Do multitudes of dark, organic chocolate count? Or anything I can bake with said chocolate as an ingredient? Incidentally, my picture that goes with this post shows me eating the most delicious Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookes that I baked this weekend ... (look closely at my semi-cropped left hand).

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Fresh and tasty from the farmer's market

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On my way home from work there used to be a wonderful farmer's market. The open-air building was staffed with friendly workers and the tables and stands were chock-full of fresh produce straight from local farms. To my chagrin, it closed for good last summer. There are other farmer's markets around here, though not as conveniently located or with as good of hours as my former haunt. But you bet your bottom dollar that I'll be there squeezing melons and inspecting strawberries, because nothing tastes better than produce fresh off the farm.

Farmer's markets are sprouting up as rapidly as the fresh goodies they sell. Your best bet when visiting at a farmer's market is to crumple your shopping list in a ball and just use your eyes as your guide. Pick out what looks good -- you'll open yourself up to new tastes. If you're not sure how to pick the very best items, just ask -- the workers are usually knowledgeable and happy to help. They may even have ideas for preparation. Some farmer's markets do import foods (which negates the whole purpose of a farmer's market in my opinion). If you're not sure if an item is local, just ask.
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Reasons why you are, and may always be, fat

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Struggling to lose weight? Really want to do it but just finding it impossible? Who isn't! Of course there are the select few successful ones, and it's those people who both inspire and depress the rest of us. What are they doing differently? What do they know that the rest of us don't?

eDiets has compiled a list of 22 reasons you might be fat forever. Now before you get all frustrated and give up because they gave it that title, please read the list. It's pretty simple and straightforward, and most of the things on the list make good sense. It's actually a little inspirational, if you ask me.

Students exposed to pesticides

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One thing that is quite disgusting is pesticide use these days. Mass fruit and vegetable manufacturers have to use harsh chemicals to keep those genetically-modified crops from being eaten by bugs and critters.

The only thing is that all that residue is passed on to the consumer -- and it's usually consumed as well. On that note, it's being found that students in many agricultural states are being subject to pesticides and have been for quite some time.

In California, there are orange and citrus groves near many schools -- have you ever smelled that funny smell when dropping your child off at school? It's hard to escape that environment unless you move (which many people have done). But, we love our inexpensive produce at the supermarket (but it's cheap for a reason).

Sugar, sugar: The vicious circle of cravings

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I'm a firm believer that even the healthiest eaters deserve a treat now and then. But when one treat turns into two, three, four, or more, you've got a problem. The first step to controlling your sweet tooth is understanding your cravings. There are two main reasons you may be craving sugar:
  • The first is that your blood sugar is low and your body's asking for more. Ironically, (unless you have diabetes, PCOS, or another physical reason your levels may be low) the most common reason for a dip in your blood sugar is that you previously ate... sugar. Basically, when you consume something highly refined -- candy, baked goods, ice cream, and so forth -- your body sends out sugar soldiers in the form of insulin to help break down all the excess glucose. This can lead to a temporary dip in your blood sugar level and give you that craving... that feeling that one candy bar just wasn't enough.
  • The second reason for cravings is purely emotional. Many of us (I'm guilty, too) have learned to stuff down our emotions by stuffing our faces. But food isn't a security blanket and it won't ever solve your problems for you. In fact, you're likely to feel worse afterward when you're sluggish and feeling the effects of the sugar crash.

Continue reading Sugar, sugar: The vicious circle of cravings

The pain in your diet

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Ever hear the term "inflammation?" Many of us have, and some of use suffer from it every day in the form of a painful back, knees, joints, fingers and toes and other areas that contain swelling.

Did you know, though, that what you eat and drink has a direct impact on how good you feel and how much inflammation you may experience? It's something that should not just be covered up with medication and a "band aid" approach.

What you choose to have in your diet should be a main consideration if inflammation is causing you pain these days. Before you reach for the Icy Hot or other topical pain reliever, try planning your diet (perhaps with radical changes) and see what happens. You may just be surprised.

Marathon runner sleeps in a low-oxygen bubble

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The world of athletics is a competitive one, by its very nature. And not only are the participants competing against each other, but against themselves and against time. As they age, and as they constantly push for their "best performance yet," the pressure is on to do and try whatever they can to truly push themselves to the limit.

Of course performance enhancing drugs are out of the question, but instead many athletes are turning to more natural intervention experiments like this one: sleeping for several weeks in a low-oxygen environment, like in a special tent over the bed, to improve the body's ability to supply the muscles with oxygen.

Would you sleep in a bubble tent? I don't know that I would be able to, not comfortably anyway. I understand the principles behind it, but does it really make that big of a difference versus good old-fashioned hard-core training?

Possible cure for baldness: scientists make skin grow new hair by itself

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Baldness is a widespread condition that can lead to anxiety, depression and social phobia. Subsequently there are a number of treatments, but -- while some have had mild success in regrowing hair -- they're largely ineffective.

However, a recent discovery by scientists may one day present a cure. They've managed to stimulate the skin of laboratory mice to grow new, fully-functional hair follicles -- essentially, new hair where there wasn't any before.

The new growth is linked to a protein, that -- oddly -- only works under "wound conditions." Subsequently, scientists imagine one day selling a cream that would actually damage the skin (very gently), in order to create conditions in which the hair-growing protein can be effective.

For anyone who's feeling self-conscious about growing bald, the good news is the new treatment will be as easy to apply as teen acne cream. The bad news is that, even "if it all went perfectly," scientists don't think it will be ready for two or three years.

Until then, think of all the famous bald guys you could fashion yourself after -- like Patrick Stewart, Sean Connery, Bruce Willis, or Andre Agassi. Maybe, by the time the treatment is available, you won't need it after all.

Research into crystal meth users occurs in Hawaii

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Researchers in Hawaii are examining crystal methamphetamine addicts to see what effects the illicit drug has one newborn children, young kids, adults and former users.

In an attempt to see what kind of overall effects crystal meth can have on addicts, the research team will be using MRI methods to look at the chemistry and physiology of the brains of these addicts.

In a new twist for such a study on crystal meth, though, this one will look at how the drug changes the brain during different stages of life -- from right after being born to becoming an adult. The detriments of using meth are well-known (even after an addict stops using), but this may give insight into the specifics.

Allergators warn others your child has a food allergy

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Does your child have a severe food allergy? Do you worry whenever you send them off to a field trip or other function where you might not be around to keep an eye on what ends up on their plate? If so, Allergators might just be for you. The company carries shirts, sweatshirts, lunch bags, dresses, even disposable wristbands and watches that warn others of their severe food allergy. The toddler sizes are cute, and they even carry up to an adult size large for older kids and teens (or for adults who want to warn others, I suppose).

As a parent, I haven't had to deal with food allergies, but this seems like a good idea if you know you're sending your child into a situation where they're going to be exposed to trigger foods, or if you have a child who, despite your best efforts, just isn't compliant. It also seems like it might be useful for a very young child or a child with special needs who may not be able to communicate their allergy. I can also see, however, if you made your child wear an Allergator shirt to every event, that they might get tired of being singled out. Parents of children with allergies, let's hear your take -- what do you think of Allergators?

Help your pet fight the battle of the bulge

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Obesity is a big problem in North America... and not just for people. It's estimated that more than 17 million dogs in the US have over-indulged on their Scooby snacks. Now is the time to take advantage of the spring weather, go outside, and get your dog (and you) some exercise!

A mere whisper of the word "walk" at my house has my dog prancing by the front door, looking expectantly at his leash. Walking or jogging with your dog is convenient and can be squeezed in the most hectic of schedules. There are even dog walking clubs around the country -- search for one near you or start your own. It's a great way to meet new friends and get your pooch off the couch.

A simple attachment makes it easy and safe to bring your dog along while you're biking. My son's favorite activity is riding his bike and I'm looking forward to hours on the rail trail this summer. While my dog is at an appropriate weight, he's a bit on the slow side so I don't know if he'd enjoy jogging beside a bike. But it's nice to know we've got the option!

Continue reading Help your pet fight the battle of the bulge

Your water bottle may be killing the environment

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If you're into health and fitness then you're pretty much automatically into drinking fluids and staying hydrated. I saw this article over at FitSugar about how all the water bottles are piling up in the landfills and harming the environment, and that alternative re-usable bottles are a much better idea -- and I couldn't agree more. The idea that plastic water bottles are so bad isn't completely new, but it's one of those things that is unfortunately easy to dismiss. I can honestly say I kinda "spaced it" for awhile.

But it really is worth taking this to heart, because if you exercise regularly how many bottles are you going through in week? A month? A year? If you're already using a green-friendly bottle then kudos to you! And if you're not, well then this is one bandwagon you should be on. There are countless brands and types of reusable bottles out there, but I think mysigg.com is a fun place to start because you can design your own.

Tyra's showing off her new svelte figure on the cover of Shape

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Supermodel Tyra Banks is gracing the cover of Shape magazine, a few months after lashing out at people who mocked the unflattering bathing suit photos that were snapped of her. She appears in (and on the cover of) the magazine in a bikini, and she looks pretty good. In the interview, she talks about eating healthy and exercising regularly, saying that she did neither in her earlier days but now know realizes how important each is. Her diet these days consists of lots of healthy foods, including produce, whole grains and lean proteins, and like many celebrities she has help from a personal chef. What's more, she encourages everyone the eat healthier, with or without the help from said chef.

Is Tyra a good role model for healthy living, or is she just showing off? What do you think?

Why Burger King was sued

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Burger King is being sued by a consumer advocacy group that dislikes the chain's use of trans fats in its foods. While I applaud the use of trans fat-free oils in chains like Wendy's, Taco Bell and KFC, Burger King has yet to switch the oils it cooks customer's food in from the artery-clogging oils.

Is that any reason to sue the company, though? Unlike smoke-free establishments, the smoke can't drift over and invade the air of non-smokers. People that choose to eat at Burger King and have that unhealthy dose of trans fat should be responsible.

While I'd never eat at Burger King based on what I consider a pretty deplorable menu, millions do each day. Although the chain has not committed to a menu free of trans fats, I'm not sure that is the basis of a lawsuit. But, it will be interesting to see how this court case proceeds (if it does).