Friday, 18 May 2007

Is a speedy rise to fame healthy for little Bindi Irwin?

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It's been less than a year since 8-year-old Aussie, Bindi Irwin lost her father, famed wildlife conservationist Steve Irwin, in a tragic accident. It seems like ever since the charming youngster has been hard at work. She's got a number of projects on the go including TV specials; she's a tourism ambassador for Australia, she has released a Bindi doll and completed a promotional tour of the United States.

To me, it seems like a lot of work for a kid in general, but especially so for a child who has recently lost a parent. I want to be clear that I am not in any way judging the family or the way in which they have chosen to move forward since the elder Irwin's death. I know that everyone grieves in different ways and I'm sure that Bindi's mother is doing what she knows is best for her child. I have no children of my own and have no idea how I would react in a similar situation so would never judge this, or any other family.

I brought this up because I'm curious to find out what others think. Would those of you with kids allow them such high-profile exposure at such a young age, and after such a traumatic experience? Do you think that the work Bindi is doing will help her stay connected with her late-father? Are there any other opinions out there that you'd like to share?


Eating lots of food to lose weight!

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Want to eat a lot and regularly -- and still lose weight? It sounds impossible, but it really is not. If you get cravings for certain fatty or junk foods that contribute more to the waistline than to health) eating a very generous amount of certain foods every day may help curb those extra eating sessions.

The "Swank Diet" is explained here, and sounds like a really fascinating way to eat quite a bit (stave off cravings) and transform your health at the same time. Are you familiar with this? I'm not and will be reading more on it soon. Sounds like a great methodology so far!

Breastmilk as a cancer treatment? How cool is that?

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What if the cure for cancer wasn't found in chemicals or radiation? What if it didn't come in a pill or require major surgery? What if we could counter cancer with the oldest and most natural nourishment around?

We may not be able to fully play out this scenario but there is hope that breastmilk may have therapeutic benefits that go beyond feeding children. Swedish research has shown that breastmilk killed cancer cells in petri dishes and reduced tumor growth in lab animals. This news has fueled the hope of cancer patients and the concerns of many people in the medical community.

While some doctors, including one at the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, have said they don't believe there is enough scientific significance to show that breastmilk consumption can help heal cancer patients, some people choose to treat themselves with breastmilk nonetheless.

I understand that it is a doctor's responsibility to be cautious about new research findings and how it might impact their patients, but what I don't get is the hesitancy to embrace how healing our bodies can actually be. This is exemplified in a warning by Dr. David Newberg,an associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, who says, "I do think that it's premature for adults to be drinking breast milk. It hasn't been fully tested yet and we like to be very careful not to use things in humans that we don't understand."

The thing is, we do understand how nourishing and beneficial breastmilk is for many human beings. We just don't know how truly powerful it really is yet.

Quinoa: Seven ways to serve the perfect BBQ side dish

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Last year when I was doing an Ayurvedic cleanse, I was turned on to quinoa. I couldn't believe I'd never eaten it before and within a few bites, I was in love with the whole gain deliciousness of it.

Quinoa not only tastes wonderful, with a hint of nuttiness and a texture that is like rice but lighter, it is one of those healthy foods that you will enjoy incorporating into your diet. Although it is in the same family as leafy green vegetables like spinach, quinoa is often considered a grain. Quinoa packs the more protein than any other grain, more than doubling the percentage of protein in rice. It contains all nine essential amino acids, which puts it in the category of a "complete protein" source. Because it is so rich in magnesium, riboflavin and manganese, many people believe quinoa is beneficial for easing migraines, aiding the cardiovascular health of post-menopausal women and as an antioxidant. Click here for a great resource on the nutritional details and tips for preparing quinoa.

Because quinoa is tasty, easy to prepare and such a nutritional powerhouse, I love to create side dishes with it to take to potlucks and have for summer BBQs. I know that it will be a crowd-favorite and I feel good having some healthy options among all the chips and treats. You can also throw your leftovers from the grill into a bowl of quinoa to make a delicious lunch the next day. J

I like simple quinoa salads as much as the complicated recipes. Two of my favorite ways to eat it are:
  • Throwing grilled veggies, slices of chicken and a bit of parmesan over a scoop or two of quinoa
  • Quinoa mixed with slight amount of unsalted butter and sprinkled with crumbles of feta cheese and crushed hazelnuts.

You also might enjoy these quinoa delights at your next outdoor summer dinner:

Lawmakers pull for single food safety agency

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Does the U.S. food supply need more federal oversight? That's the feeling some U.S. lawmakers have right now, and they want to put all food safety oversight under a single federal agency.

Recent (and deadly) food illness outbreaks from peanut butter and e-coli have spurred serious questions on how fresh food (and processed food as well) is handled and transported from grower to consumer.

Does the U.S. need a re-vamped and overhauled single federal agency that can oversee food safety? With the population of the country now right at 300 million, it's a tough job for any agency I would think.

Hospital using Wii for rehab

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The more I read about the Wii, the more I think it's next in line for a Nobel prize. Video games started out as a fun way to kill spare time, but Nintendo's latest incarnation has been found to have a variety of ancillary benefits, including helping people burn calories and lose weight.

Most recently, a Canadian hospital has been using the device to treat people with movement and balance issues. By playing the system's virtual sports games, patients who were previously confined to wheelchairs were up and about -- landing punches, swinging golf clubs, or bowling strikes.

It's not as if doctors didn't already have methods for physical rehabilitation, but because these games are so much more fun than older rehab techniques, patients are much more likely to engage in their therapy, and recover quickly.

[via Geeksugar]

Can chewing gum make you smarter?

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According to this article, NBC's Today show recently did a story titled: "Two recent studies show chewing gm may make you smarter."

Could this be true? Is there some ingredient in gum that scientists discovered stimulates brain activity? Maybe the combination of gum and saliva releases an agent that creates new, more efficient pathways in the brain?

Actually, no. The only way gum makes us "smarter" is the fact that "chewing gum increases blood flow to the brain." However, this research was conducted by the Wrigley Science Institute, which isn't exactly an un-biased source for this type of information. Plus, using this logic, you could say that chewing anything would temporarily increase your intelligence.

That said, in situations where you'll benefit from this kind of a boost -- like an exam, for instance -- the company might be onto something. According to one professor Wrigley interviewed, students "recalled more words and performed better in tests on working memory when they chewed gum. " However, their professor adds, "We think it is the effect of chewing which causes this, rather than anything in the gum itself."

Diabetes drug spennding about to take a hike

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With so much of the health news these days focusing in on how obese citizens in Western countries are becoming, it makes sense the diabetes will soon be something that is out of control. That is, from a health care management standpoint.

So, it's of little surprise that the amount of cash Americans will soon be spending on treating diabetes could jump by 70 percent -- and that's just until the end of 2009 (two-and-a-half years from now).

Instead of spending so much money on drugs to manage something that can be prevented in many cases, why not educate more people to eat healthy and take care of their nutrition? That sounds easy, but with the effect of so much junk food advertising all over the media landscape, it's seems easier to just "fix it" with drugs, right?

Yolanda King passes away

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Yolanda King, the eldest daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, passed away suddenly on May 15th. Ms. King was an actress and a motivational speaker. In addition to these roles, she was the first national Ambassador of the American Stroke Association's Power to End Stroke campaign. Her voice and dedication to the cause raised awareness among African Americans -- undoubtedly helping to prevent heart disease and stroke in many and perhaps even saving lives. She was recently given a national award for her tireless work.

The Power to End Stroke campaign aims to educate African Americans about stroke risk and to empower them to prevent and overcome stroke. According to the American Stroke Association, blacks have nearly two times the risk of first-time stroke as Caucasians. Factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, and diabetes tend to be higher in African Americans (particularly women), putting them at a higher risk of stroke.

You can leave a message to Yolanda King's family and friends through the American Heart Association's website.

Fit Factor: All I want to do is dance dance dance

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What do you think of dancing? Me? I think I fall perfectly in to the 'two left feet' category of dancers. I have a good sense of rhythm but lack and body coordination to move to the music in a way that doesn't resemble a frog in a blender. And I'm clumsy. Really clumsy. But nonetheless, I love it. I love letting the rhythm, take control of my body and I love letting go. Luckily, I'm not easily embarrassed because I would probably never show my face on the dance floor again.

Okay, enough about my (lack of) dancing skills. Dancing is the latest craze in fitness routines, don't you think? And why not? It's a great way to sculpt your body and if you incorporate some sort of cardio action to it, it's a great way to burn calories too.

Continue reading Fit Factor: All I want to do is dance dance dance

Daily Fit Tip: Know the symptoms of a food allergy

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When you think "food allergy," what comes to mind? The biggest is of course anaphylactic shock, where the mouth and throat swell up and the person is in danger of suffocating or choking to death. This is often made light of on TV and in the movies (I'm thinking of the scene in "Hitch" right now, that was funny...) but it's really not a laughing matter. Besides that very obvious form of allergic reaction, though, what else do you look for?

Common food allergy symptoms include:
  • Gastrointestinal distress, including but not limited to, abdominal cramps or pain, diarrhea, and nausea/vomiting.
  • Skin issues like hives, rashes, or eczema.
  • Sneezing or a runny nose.
  • Shortness of breath.
The tricky part is that many of these symptoms can also indicate other issues like hayfever allergies or a flu virus. Paying attention to when and where the symptoms occur, and keeping track of what you eat, can help you see any patterns and see if a food allergy might be the problem.

We love to gawk at fit celebs: Fergie's fit-licious

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We especially love to gawk when the celeb is doing a core-stabilizing move we know and love like "the cobra." One of our favorite fitness fanatics, Fergie, works it out in a Santa Monica park last week.

Fergie's been snapped walking, running, dancing, getting all kinds of bendy and power-canoodling with boyfriend Josh Duhamel. I find Fergie's workouts to be far more inspiring than her (ahem) solo album and I imagine they're also far more body- and spirit-positive for the singer who has openly discussed her crystal-meth-dependent past.


[via: People]

Medical school focusing on graduates for high-need areas

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A new medical school in Washington plans to produce graduates interested specifically in working in the areas that need them most, namely the rural areas in the Pacific Northwest. The College of Osteopathic medicine, which just recently broke ground, is expected to open by the fall of 2008, which puts it's first graduating class (estimated to be around 70 students) ready in 2012.

Graduates are not actually required to work in rural areas, but a desire to service rural communities is part of the selection process for admission. The university also plans to continue actively seeking grants and other funds for further expansion into other health-related programs and colleges on the campus.

Recipe Rehab: Nachos

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Even healthy nachos might not seem too good for you - but one look at the calorie-comparison below, and you'll understand just how much better for you they are!

NACHOS

16 ounces baked unsalted tortilla chips
3/4 pound lean ground beef
1 onion -- diced
1 4-oz can sliced green chiles
1 1/2 cups lowfat cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups lowfat monterey jack cheese
2 cans black beans

FRESH SALSA
2 cups tomatoes -- seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno -- seeded and chopped
1/2 cup onion -- chopped
3 tablespoons cilantro -- chopped

TOPPINGS
1 cup pitted black olives -- chopped
1 avocado -- chopped
1/2 cup light sour cream

Saute the beef and onions until evenly browned and cooked through. Drain.

Spread the tortillas chips evenly on a cookie and cover with the beef mixture, chiles, both cheeses and beans. Place in a 350 degree oven and back for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese is completely melted.

While the nachos are cooking, mix together the salsa ingredients.

Remove nachos from oven and top with the salsa and the remaining toppings. Serve hot.

Recipe Rundown

  • Baked chips were used instead of traditional tortilla chips
  • The beef topping was cut in half
  • Low fat cheese was used in place of regular cheese
  • Fresh salsa was used instead of traditional jarred salsa
  • Avocado was substituted for guacomole
  • Light sour cream was substituted for regular sour cream

Recipe Reveal

Based on 1/8 serving

Original

Adapted

Calories

1419 (58% from fat)

526 (34% from fat)

Fat

92g

20g

Saturated Fat

30g

6g

Protein

45g

28g

Carbohydrate

108g

59g

Fiber

13

8g

Sodium

2300mg

602mg

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Working in the Workouts: Can twenty minutes of yoga be satisfying?

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Owen and mommyEach week, Debbie will share her goals, challenges, successes and tips on how to fit in fitness when caring for a rambunctious toddler.

Last week, my goal was to add more yoga, and so far it has been easy and I have been ever-so-faithful. I had mentioned that a friend lent me a twenty-minute yoga workout DVD, and I was going to try it and review it for you, so without further ado . . .

Bryan Kest's Original Power Yoga 20-Minute Beginner Workout had its moments for me. At the onset, I absolutely hated it. I am usually strictly a Kundalini style yoga girl, and apparently I am not a fan of sun salutations. But I decided to really open my mind and give it a try, and I can't say I loved it, but it wasn't half bad.

The problems? Twenty minutes really didn't seem long enough to me. I guess I am not sure what power yoga really is, but I expected to work a bit harder than I did. My breathing was not challenged, nor was my strength. I also didn't like the "aerobics class" feel I got, in that we were taught the poses and then had to make them flow. I have two left feet (and arms!) and I hate anything that is choreographed like that.

What did I love? ...

Continue reading Working in the Workouts: Can twenty minutes of yoga be satisfying?

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Now your jogging partner can live anywhere!

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Having a workout buddy has been proven to help people stick with their fitness plans, but what if you've looked around and there's nobody in your area that works? Geography may not be a problem anymore! Even if your best friend recently moved across the country, you can still jog together!

The Jogging Over a Distance system works like this: you each wear an identical headset equipped with GPS and Bluetooth technology, a mobile phone connection, and a wireless modem. The headset sends information back and forth to a miniature computer that you keep in a backpack or something close. Then, as each person runs the tiny computer uses the GPS to determine not only how fast you're running, but how that compares to your jogging partner miles away. As you both talk over the mobile phone, the computer calculates and makes it sound like your voices are coming either from behind (if they're running slower), in front (if they're running faster), or right beside you (if they're running at the same pace).

I sounds neat, but I don't know that this would really work well for me only because I don't like to talk all the time when I'm out power-walking. But for people who do, this could be really cool!


Via FitSugar

Entire city goes on a diet to curb childhood obesity

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They say it takes a village to raise a child, and one U.S. city put that theory to the test. The town of Somerville, MA recently put the whole town on a diet to see if they could make an impact on childhood obesity. Using grant funding from the CDC and Robert Wood Johnson foundation, the town took several measures to improve the health of its citizens. Schools started using fresh foods, switched to olive or canola oil, and started offering fresh fruits and vegetables. Several restaurants in town agreed to serve smaller portions with healthier options, and pedestrian walkways were made safer to encourage walking, biking, and other activities. Program leaders were taught the basics of soccer and yoga to encourage kids to exercise.

The results were significant. The first, second, and third graders in town avoided gaining the pound of extra weight that their peers in neighboring communities put on. Not only that, they reported feeling more energetic and many kept up their new lifestyles after the program was over.

Intense but quick bursts are the best thing for you

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In order to be really honestly "fit," your heart and your cardiovascular system have to be ready for anything. You might notice that if you workout exactly the same way every day, and then you suddenly try something new, you might suddenly feel really out of shape when you didn't before. But throwing sudden bursts of intense exercise into an otherwise "routine" routine can really improve your heart's ability to respond to sudden demands, which will improve your overall fitness and get you to the results you're looking for that much faster.

And did you know (this seems like an outrageously high percentage!) that high intensity interval exercise like this can reduce the risk of heart disease by as much as 100% compared to those who only work on endurance? Wow.

Cancer fears may lead to actual cancer

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Are you someone who thinks everything causes cancer? Do you feel it strikes people at random -- or that, in spite of all the studies, there's nothing you can do to protect yourself?

If so, you might be more prone to the disease.

Recent research finds that almost half of the population agrees that "nearly everything causes cancer," and half of that group feels there's nothing can do to prevent it. Subsequently, they don't take any precautions against the disease.

This mentality, however, is exactly what makes them more vulnerable. Because, in fact, about 2/3 of all cancer cases are preventable. 30% of cancer deaths are related to smoking, and 20% are linked to obesity. So don't smoke, eat fruits and vegetables, and don't spend all day in the sun, and you'll drastically reduce your risk.

And next time you think it's beyond your control -- especially if you're using that belief as an excuse to smoke, tan, or avoid a healthy lifestyle -- think again.

It IS easy being green!

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By now most people know that their mom was right when she insisted that you eat your vegetables. According to this, and many other articles, leafy greens such as broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, kale and even the not-so-green cauliflower are good for everything from helping to prevent certain types of cancer and heart disease to helping your body repair DNA.

While some people have grown to love (or always did love) to eat their veggies, many others will always prefer the taste of a nice steak or leg of lamb. It isn't always easy to get the required amount of vegetable helpings each day. For those of you trying to eat more greens, check out the last half of the article mentioned above. They've got some helpful tips including putting veggies in pasta, soup, sandwiches and more. These and a few other helpful ideas are all listed as tasty ways to ensure you get enough greens.

The history of food

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Archaeologists study more than just bones, they look at all aspects of the lives of people and creatures from long ago. And this month the University of Nottingham is putting on an interesting postgraduate conference aiming to highlight what we know about the eating habits of our ancestors. Experts will be speaking on cultures such as the Vikings, the Romans, and the people in the Victorian age, all they way up to how we ended up with TV dinners and drive-thrus in today's world.

Food has always been a big part of social and behavioral culture, and I bet this Food and Drink in Archaeology 2007 conference is going to be fascinating! Obviously it's near impossible to attend something like this unless you live in the area, but the article is still an interesting read.

Do you have mild asthma? You may now have more options

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After three years with few symptoms, I got knocked on my butt by an asthma attack two weeks ago. Though my attacks fall in the mild to moderate range, they still have a huge impact on my quality of life during the weeks it takes for the inflammation to subside. I've quit exercising (but hope to start again soon), my gardens are weedy (too much mold), and I just don't have as much energy. I'm going to be the first to admit that I wasn't as compliant as I should have been with my daily steroid inhalers, because it had been so long since I'd felt bad. But no more...I vow to take my medicine every day, whether I'm feeling well or not. Lesson learned.

Here's interesting news for mild asthmatics: U.S researchers recently found that mild asthmatics whose symptoms are well controlled by twice daily inhaled steroids may have other, equally effective options. The study found that one puff a day of a combined medication like Advair (which includes a steroid and long-acting beta agnostic), controlled symptoms as well two puffs a day of inhaled steroid, and nearly as well as one oral dose a day of Singulair.

So if your asthma is mild, you may have options, and having choices in treatment is always a good thing. (Always talk to your doctor before making any changes in your treatment plan.)

Dangers of detox dieting

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I tend to hang around with nu-agey, artist types, so I've known a number of people that have tried "detox" diets. The idea behind these diets is to flush all the nasty modern toxins out of your system so your body can get back to working as nature intended. Additional benefits reportedly include weight loss, a cleaner complexion and and rejuvenated immune system.

Shockingly, most of my friends claimed they felt good after ingesting nothing but sugar water and laxatives for 7 days (or however long the detox is supposed to last). But according to experts, there's no evidence saying they should feel better. In fact, all their evidence says the Master Cleanse -- or whatever detox diet you try -- won't help you at all, and, more alarmingly, could lead to some serious side effects.

Long or repeated fasts could lead to vitamin deficiencies, muscle breakdown, blood-sugar problems, and liquid bowel movements (and those are only the most unpleasant consequences). In addition, those who have diabetes, heart or kidney disease should be especially wary of detox diets, as should any woman who's pregnant or nursing.

And above all, the diets are unnecessary. Dr. Nasir Moloo tells MSNBC, "Your body does a perfectly good job of getting rid of toxins on its own." So when you go to extremes to flush out toxins, you'll also rid the body of the good bacteria your intestines need to stay healthy.

That said, they're all the rage, with more and more people trying them every day. Even some That's Fit staffers think they get the job done, so who's to say detox isn't for you? However, before you make a drastic (and potentially harmful) change to your diet -- even on a temporary basis -- check with your doctor first.

Fifteen states may have contaminated meat

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According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 129,000 pounds of beef products in 15 states are being recalled due to possible E. coli contamination. The states affected are Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

All the packages of potentially contaminated meat products were made by David Creek Meats and Seafood for Gordon Food Services. They are labeled "Est. 1947A," and were shipped between March 1 and April 30.

E. coli is a bacteria that can cause several different intestinal and extra-intestinal infections such as urinary tract infections, meningitis, and pneumonia. Initial symptoms include stomach cramps and diarrhea -- both of which may be severe.

To read the full recall release from the USDA, go here.

USDA considers new exceptions to organic foods

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The USDA has proposed changes to the standards that qualify food items as USDA Organic. The proposed changes would add 38 ingredients to the list of synthetic and non-organic substances that are allowed. The new ingredients include non-organic versions of intestines for sausage casings, hops for beer, fish-oil, gelatin, coloring agents, and produce coating agents. The USDA maintains that these exceptions are necessary as the ingredients in question are not commercially available in organic form.

The Organic Consumers Association has issued a reply objecting to a number of the proposed additions to the allowable list. If you don't want non-organic casings on your organic sausage or non-organic hops in your organic beer, you can sign a petition. The USDA is accepting public comments until May 22, 2007.

The best, and the worst, prepared diet food plans

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Going on a diet plan that includes having food delivered right to your door is becoming very popular these days, which means it's also becoming big business. And with big business comes all kinds of people trying to get in on their corner of the market. So with so many companies offering diet food delivery services, how can you tell which one is for you? Well Epicurious.com was curious too, so they recently tested 5 of the most prominent weight loss food delivery plans looking for who had the best taste and nutrition overall, as well as a few other factors. So who came out on top? eDiets! Congrats to them for getting "3 out of 4 forks" on the Epicurious rating system. The total ranking of 5 looks like this:
1. eDiets
2. Zone Chefs
3. Pure Foods Low Carb
4. Jenny Craig
5. Nutrisystem

Did your favorite make the list?

Is our culture preventing us from exercising?

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While the vast majority of U.S. adults understand the benefits of exercise, a recent survey has found that 79% of those polled also feel that US culture inhibits an active lifestyle. I'm not at all surprised by the results of this poll, but I think it's a cop-out. Our culture does applaud long work days and over-filled schedules; relaxing family evenings are quickly becoming a thing of the past as parents work longer hours and kids have increasingly busy schedules themselves. But maintaining a healthy lifestyle should be a priority -- something that you fit into your schedule and give importance to just as you would any appointment.

The national poll was conducted by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. The survey also found that many people believe the government should do more to promote physical activity and that workplace exercise programs would help them maintain a healthier lifestyle.

Government, employer, and other external motivators are wonderful things. They can educate people and spur couch potatoes into activity. But at the end of the day, an active lifestyle boils down to one thing: personal responsibility. The government isn't going to come over and tie up my shoelaces when it's time go jogging. My boss isn't going to stop by and press PLAY on my DVD player to make me do aerobics. I'm the one who makes the decision to stay healthy. I challenge you to take ownership of your health, too. Not only will an active lifestyle improve your overall health, it will also help manage stress and spike your energy so you have the stamina to keep up with the demands the rest of your life presents.