Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Lose the ropes; go bouldering!

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As many people are, I'm heading out of town for the holiday weekend. Keeping up with my fitness routine while on the road is a concern. Since my weekend is jam-packed, my exercise routine will probably be limited to the treadmill in the hotel's fitness room. But, when looking for other activities in the area, I ran across this article.

Bouldering is a free-form version of rock climbing, uses no ropes or harnesses and sticks to heights less than 7 meters. Not only does this adventurous sport build strength, it's also an exercise in problem-solving. Outdoor enthusiasts require no more equipment than chalk for their hands, climbing shoes for better traction, and a crash pad in case of a fall. Indoor climbing routes are increasing in popularity across the country, too. Most routes are graded with multiple levels of difficulty, so everyone -- even kids -- can enjoy this up and coming sport.

It sounds like a lot of fun, but I typically like to keep my feet planted on the terra firma. But who knows? Maybe I'll feel a bit more daring this weekend. How about you?

Meet the Bloggers: Brian White

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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 Brian White, who writes on all things fit all week -- especially breaking health news and studies -- and contributes his Daily Fit Tip on Mondays.

1. Who are you?

Brian White -- fitness, health and natural foods and living enthusiast

2. Age you tell people you are.

34, even though I look mid-20s according to friends. Is it the diet? Who knows...

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

Oklahoma -- and still here!

4. Do you have a personal blog?

Yes --

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

Freelance editing, blogging and writing -- that fills my day!

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

Blogging since That's Fit's inception in mid-2006. Favorite post would be this one:

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?

No professional background in fitness beyond educating myself to the nth degree -- just passionate about searching for natural and healthy solutions: to living, eating, drinking ... did I say living already?

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

The Atkins Diet

9. What motivates you to exercise and stay healthy?

Feeling good all the time (first) and looking good (second).

10. Who's your favorite fitness role model?

No specific role models -- just an overall sense of being fit is my primary motivation.

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

Personal workouts at home on my time and anything outdoors in the spring or fall (hiking, skiing, walking)

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

I would look funny in spandex :-) so, let's say sweats (just not that baggy)

13. What's your favorite fitness activity?

A programmed treadmill workout program (as boring as that sounds) while watchin' some TiVo stuff

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

Keeping up with the technology and finance worlds every day.

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?

Oh boy -- here goes: the habit would be a dip into Ben & Jerry's ice cream every month or so (just a pint). When I'm feeling guilty about this, I go the frozen yogurt route, heh. Excuse? Sometimes you just gotta let go and relieve the "stress" of always eating so healthy when almost all foods you see people eating every day aren't healthy at all.
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Are there really foods that burn fat?

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We all know that certain foods are better for us than others. We know that anything with lots of refined sugar, too much salt, heaps of trans fats -- and the list goes on and on -- should be avoided for the most part. We also know that items like fish and fruit are chock full of the stuff that's essential to keep our bodies strong and healthy.

But did you know that there are a number of foods that aren't just good for you but will help burn fat as well? Here is a list of the top 10 foods that aid in shedding fat, by doing everything from raising metabolism to helping maintain muscle mass.

I'd heard that there were certain foods that encourage your body to burn fat but I had no idea which ones were the magical helpers or how they worked. For example, there's a rumor going around in some circles that bananas are high in calories and should be avoided by those trying to lose weight. However, according to the top 10 list, the potassium in the tasty fruit helps boost metabolism. I had also read that soybeans are good for you but I had no idea why. Apparently it's because they contain lecithin, which helps prevent your cells from accumulating fat. There are plenty more tasty items on the list -- everything from pickled garlic to cinnamon -- so if you're trying to loose weight you might want to check it out.

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New Enose could make sniffing out asthma a lot easier

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Getting a diagnosis of asthma is not always a simple thing. First, a doctor will consider your symptoms, but cough, wheezing, and shortness of breath can be attributed to more diseases than asthma. Then, there's a lung function test or spirometry, and your lungs may be put to the test with a methicone challenge.

But a new device is currently in testing that could make a quick asthma diagnosis a thing of the future. The Enose was 95% effective in distinguishing between healthy patients and those that had mild or severe asthma. The machine works by measuring VOCs or volatile organic compounds released by the lungs. Though it could tell an asthma patient from one who did not have asthma, it was not accurate in deducing the severity of the disease.

I'm sure that a device like the Enose won't make all those other tests go away, but it might be handy for GPs and clinics who don't have the more sophisticated in their office.

New weight-loss drug: you must exercise too

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It's a refreshing breath of fresh air when I see a diet pill or weight-loss plan that does not suggest some absurd "lose weight while you sleep" claim or something similar. Why people continue to eat up this nonsense is beyond me.

Let's take it in another direction: what if a diet pill advertised that its customers must east sensibly and exercise as well as take the pill? Oddly, that kind of honest may work well for all the millions of people who have fallen for the various weight-loss scams in the past.

GlaxoSmithKline's "alli", the first over-the-counter diet pill approved by the FDA, will hit stores next month and honesty and the appearance of integrity are being used as marketing tools here -- not false promises. Hmm, which would you rather have?

Decoding the veggie burger

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The veggie burger industry is growing steadily as more people look for alternatives to red meat and animal products. As a result, the recipes and methods are getting better and the days of "cardboard burgers" are pretty much over. I'm not crazy for the super-fake options like artificial bacon, but a good bean burger can be really good with the right toppings.

But reading the label on a box of soy burgers can be a little scary, especially if you're a health-conscious consumer (and people don't usually choose soy burgers unless they are). What is all that extra stuff in there with names like disodium guanylate3 and methylcellulose? If you're wondering then this article, coming from MSN, breaks everything down in easy-to-read terms. No more "mystery meat" mysteries!

Motivate Jody--check out his progress too! Week 2

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Last week I posted a blog about Jody, my personal training client. He came in Christmas Eve 2006, and has lost 40 pounds to date. But he's regained and lost the same few repeatedly for the past month. Just a plateau I believe, but I'm recruiting YOU to help keep him motivate with your words of advice and personal success stories.

Besides his regular workouts this week, Jody, his wife, family and I went dancing to celebrate his success and have some fun on Saturday night. Jody is an excellent dancer, can lead like Fred Astaire and make all the girls around him feel like a twirly princess. We all had a blast and it was fun to celebrate a person who I truly adore and admire.

Jody also went shopping and bought several pair of pants and a belt that were 8 inches smaller in the waist. Wow! He deserves all the fun, energy, and praise that his endeavors have brought him. Especially those bestowed on him by his efforts in health.

Keep going to see Jody's progress.....

Continue reading Motivate Jody--check out his progress too! Week 2

Child cancer victim dies after court battles

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I've seen stories like this before and it boggles the civilized mind: parents have to defend their kids against the madness of court-appointed medical treatment they don't believe in.

In many cases, ill-educated and bribed officials demand that cancer patients (especially children) undergo conventional cancer treatments even with the disagreement of parents. Who has the final say? In many cases, this disturbing lack of choice by biological parents makes one question if we are indeed in a free country sometimes.

The patient's parents, in this case, found a doctor specializing in holistic medicine. That doctor suggested a healthier diet and supplements instead of chemotherapy. Whatever was best for Noah (the cancer victim) should have been at stake, but who decides that? Health officials or parents?

Drinking and dementia: An unusual link

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You've heard the adage that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but what about a drink? As in alcohol. Sure, we've all been debating the benefits of red wine for years, but that was in relation to antioxidants. Now, a new study has shown a link between alcohol consumption and slowing the "mental decline" associated with dementia.

Don't whip out the booze just yet, though. The study focused on a group of subjects ranging in age from their mid-60s to mid-80s who were already suffering from cognitive impairment. Those who consumed a moderate amount of alcohol--any kind, including wine, one drink per day--showed signs of a slowing rate of dementia. The study showed that those who had a drink a day reduced their risk of dementia by 85% over those who had no alcohol.

I don't know if you've ever known anyone suffering from dementia. It is, in a word, horrible. Although this study did NOT show that drinking reduced the incidence of dementia occurring in subjects--again, those participating in the study already suffered from a mild impairment--perhaps, if more studies are done in that vein, the disease may one day be overcome.

When pregnant moms eat apples and fish, their children's allergy risk goes down

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It's no secret that a healthy diet is the foundation for a healthy pregnancy, but according to a recent article in the Washington Post, at least two specific foods may protect unborn children from developing asthma and eczema later in life. According to the recent study, children of women who ate at least one serving of fish a week were 43% less likely to have children who developed eczema by age 5 than women who ate no fish during pregnancy. And children of women who ate at least four apples per week were up to 53% less likely to have developed asthma than children of women who ate less than one apple per week.

The current theory is that it's the flavanoids in apples and omega-3s in fish that provide a protective benefit, but because other fruits contain flavanoids as well and didn't have same protective effect, the good, old-fashioned apple may deserve a closer look to find out why it's so special.

More research needs to be done before guidelines are set to inform women just how many servings of these foods are beneficial. Certain kinds of fish, like tile fish and tuna, need to be eaten in moderation during pregnancy due to mercury contamination. Instead of focusing on apples and fish alone, I think this study supports a pregnancy diet that's balanced and nutritious. Go visit Parent Dish to read fellow blogger Jennifer Jordan's take on this new finding.

Sally Field speaks on bone health

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Actress Sally Field recently visited Capitol Hill to speak about osteoporosis and the need for screening, prevention, and treatment of the condition. Field was diagnosed with osteoporosis in 2005 and has been raising awareness about the condition ever since.

With osteoporosis, bone becomes fragile and is more prone to fractures. While any bone can be affected, hip, spine, and wrist bones are the most common sites for injury. Repeated tiny fractures can lead to changes in posture and even disability. The condition affects four times more women than men.

Because she presented with multiple risk factors -- family history, small frame, and over age 50 -- Field's doctor had been monitoring her bone health. She received a bone density test early on to serve as a baseline and several follow-up tests to determine the rate of bone loss. Early detection has allowed her to take additional measures to maintain her bone structure. Women over age 40 are encouraged to speak to their doctor about their risk factors for osteoporosis and decide when a baseline bone density test should be taken. Regardless of age, women (and girls) should participate in regular weight-bearing exercise and choose plenty of calcium-rich foods to help build and maintain strong bones.

Losing Weight is Expensive!!!

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Who'd have ever thought you'd find an article on weight management in the financial section? A recent article from on MSN Money notes just how expensive it is to lose weight, in the United States, anyway. With all the fitness trends, fad diets, dieting books and dieting systems (the Zone, the Atkins Diet, Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig are a few) out there, it's easy to get caught up in the latest new weight-loss product--especially considering how notorious Americans are for being overweight.

A closer look at the article reveals that all these weight loss gimmicks and schemes are shrinking our wallets, not necessarily our waistlines. What may seem like a few dollars here and there can really add up, especially for those of us with more than a few pounds to drop.

I've always been a big fan of the outdoors. I'm an even bigger proponent of being thrifty. In fact, one of the main reasons my husband and I dropped our gym membership was to save money. Although our combined membership at our local YMCA was only around $80 a month, that was still over $1,000 a year we were spending that could be better used a 401(k). We figured that by running around our local park, which was approximately 3.5 miles in diameter, even if we spent money on proper running attire we'd still be saving around $800 a year.

Continue reading Losing Weight is Expensive!!!

Your spirit is like a garden

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Being healthy is about so much more than just eating more fruits and vegetables and working out (although those are very important!), it's also about having a healthy outlook on life and having healthy relationships. It's that whole "well-rounded and balanced" idea we can't seem to get away from, because everything really does work together. So in tune with the season of getting your garden started this spring, check out this inspirational (and also a little cheesy) analogy on why you should plant squash, lettuce, peas, and turnips in your garden this year (squash gossip, let us love one another...)

New drug product promises end to menstruation

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Dog Bite Prevention Week: teach your kids how to handle a dog

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When my kids were born, there were two large dogs in the family. Though both of them -- a lab and a golden retriever -- were family-friendly dogs, I worried about how these tiny kids would learn to handle such big, rambunctious dogs. It didn't take long, however, for the kids to learn to assert themselves and earn their place in the pecking order. It's both hilarious and heart-warming to see a 2-year-old say "Go lay down...MY cookie," to her 100-plus pound, begging dog and have the dog actually listen.

This week is Dog Bite Prevention Week, sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association. The CDC says that summer is the peak season for dog bites, and with outdoor fun high on the list of things to do, it's easy to see why. Children are often instinctively drawn to animals, but teaching kids how to interact with a dog they meet in public increases safety for the child and for the animal. Though, as in our case, family dogs are expected to be gentle and docile, the truth is that any dog can bite. It took a lot of repetition and a lot of patience to teach our children that dogs aren't for riding and cats' tails aren't for pulling, but teaching your kids to be gentle with your pets will go a long way toward preventing in-home injuries, as well. Dogs and kids can be a great combination, but it's up to dog owners and parents to lead the way.

Can exercise reverse aging?

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I'm not sure how much more often the world can tell you to exercise without you getting up and doing it, but just in case you're not convinced, here's yet another reason to start working out: it can reverse the aging process.

In a recent study, 25 elderly volunteers (65 and older) were able to reduce the age of their genetic profile by exercising. Through a rigorous but standard workout, the participants made significant changes in 1/3 of their genes related to aging -- essentially reversing the aging process at a cellular level.

This sounds amazing (and it is), but before you get carried away, the other 2/3 of aging-related genes weren't effected.

That said, all the volunteers felt more youthful -- namely, because they had more energy. The 200 or so genes that did change as a result of the physical activity are all related to the functioning of the mitochondria -- the cells that change nutrients into energy.

So, once again, exercise. It's good for you.

In pictures: the world's heaviest countries

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While it's no secret that Americans lead the pack when it comes to obesity, do you know who comes in third or fourth or even last? Instead of piling through mountains of data, take a look at this graphic. Not only will it tell you what countries are struggling with obesity and what countries aren't, but it also puts the information in a (slightly humorous) attractive, easy to read format.

There was some discussion over at Diet-Blog about the accuracy of the chart. Note at the top that this chart accounts for BMIs over 30 (obese) only. If you factor in the percentage of the population in each country that are overweight as well, the countries line up in a little different order.

Either way, the poster is for sale, and I think it would be a great addition to any office that offers a health-related service -- doctor's, nutritionists, etc. What do you think?

Losing weight? Eat some soup

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Want to try and eat about 20 percent lees food than you are eating now? The hard way would be to calorie count and portion count what you eat. That takes effort and a strength of will. Want something easier? Try eating soup.

The conclusion o several studies recently stated that eating soup -- as an appetizer -- can make you end up consuming about 20 percent less food than if you don't eat soup.

Ah-ha! Are we on a roll here where we'll see many restaurants and such start offering a way to lose weight -- by serving soup? This happens at many restaurants already, although all that sodium make give you high blood pressure while you're not eating as much food.

Europeans getting taller, Americans are not

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Americans have historically been the tallest people in the world, but a recent paper reveals that this may not always be the case. While many European populations are getting taller with each generation, Americans, quite simply, are not.

So what could cause such a shift?

According to the team of Princeton/Munich scholars that published the paper in Social Science Quarterly, the difference is healthcare. They surmise that the universal healthcare system and greater degree of social security throughout Europe "provide better conditions for growth than the American health system, despite the fact that the system costs twice as much." The scholars also point to American diets as an additional factor.

Whatever it is, it's fairly significant. Today, the average Dutch man is 6 cm taller than the average American -- which is a complete reversal of how it was in the 19th century.

[via Boing Boing]

Fish oil may help you lose weight!

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Wow. It seems they can't stop doing research on eating fish, and I can't stop writing about it! Yesterday I noted a study showing that women who consumed fish while they were pregnant had children less likely to suffer from eczema. Today I read an article on a study purporting that consuming fish oil might help you lose weight. This was, of course, in addition to moderate exercise. I can assure you that, whether or not the fish oil thing turns out to be gold, exercise is definitely known to assist in weight loss.

According to the study, overweight individuals who both took fish oil and exercised saw an increase in their good cholesterol and a decrease in their triglycerides along with a decrease in body fat. Now, before you rush out to buy fish oil pills and start scarfing them down like mad, be reminded these were the results of one study, and were "early" results at that.

The article mentions that those participating in the study were overweight, but it didn't say by how much. In other words, it is possible that the benefits of fish oil might be enjoyed only by those who are severely overweight instead of trying to shave off those last five pounds. Fish oil contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which previous studies have shown may good for the heart. Although Omega-3s have been linked to weight loss in lab studies, as noted by the researchers themselves, more testing is needed to understand fully the reasons for the results. Stay tuned!