Tuesday, 29 May 2007

WHO wants global smoking ban at work and in public places

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The tobacco industry continues to take a beating, as the World Health Organization (WHO) now is stating that it wants a global ban on smoking at workplaces and in enclosed public spaces.

This is not some small request, but a campaign on a planetary scale to get rid of smoking wherever it can affect non-smokers. In fact, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said that "The evidence is clear, there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke."

What do you think? There are some that cite references to evidence that second-hand smoke is harmless, something that is utter nonsense if you ask me. If you're a smoker, what are your thoughts on WHO's directive here?

Temper temper: Advice on controlling anger

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Do you ever feel like you're going to just lose it? Someone cuts you off in traffic and you feel like you're literally seeing red or you find out that a "friend' has been gossiping about you behind your back? Getting angry is totally natural and there are probably a million and one things that can set a person off but the important thing is how you deal with your anger.

I admit that the one thing that always gets me is rude drivers. Someone who speeds up when you put your signal light on to change into their lane so that you can't get in, someone who doesn't bother to use their own signals (they're there for a reason people!), any driver who doesn't offer a thank-you wave after being let in -- the list goes on and on. On more than one occasion, and I'm not proud to admit it, I've lost it and cursed and given nasty gestures. But it's never gotten me anywhere.

If you find yourself having a similar negative reaction to a situation that angers you, it might be a good idea to take a look at some of these tips on anger management. Some may seem a bit silly at first, especially if you're in a rage. But you'd be surprised at how calming deep breathing is and how satisfying it is to go for a run instead of engaging in a yelling match. In the end, you'll come out the biggest winner.

Another study confirms why whole grains are good

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Nothing feels quite as right for breakfast than a dollop of fresh fruit on whole, rolled oats (not processed). It's a great way to start the day right and make is tasty as well. Regarding whole grains -- are you a fan? If not, look long and hard at why.

Sure, whole grains don't taste like ice cream or cheeseburgers, but they can be every bit as tasty when accessorized with the right stuff. Thinks like fresh fruits make whole grains really palatable, and as the saying goes, "a diet rich in whole grains is heart healthy."

Researchers who recently reviewed seven major studies saw that an increase in whole grain intake was consistently linked to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. That's enough to convince most folks, but adding some zing to those whole grains will really pump you up -- especially in the morning.

Keep 'running' away from fat

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Want to continually keep your weight at bay? It's been mentioned around here many times, but here it is again: keep moving. Yes, that's a recipe for keeping your weight manageable. Human bodies were not meant to be sedentary, so if you keep moving, all that weight may not have a chance to build up.

In fact, the simple act of walking is enough to keep weight under control for many people. Can you afford to walk around your neighborhood, office building or condo area every day (weather permissible)? Most likely, you can. And, that's moving.

What kind of "moving" do you do to keep your weight under control each and every day? I'd like to hear your formula for success here.

Hospital superbug staying hungry

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What drives bacteria to spread disease? Would you believe that hunger could be an answer? If certain bacterium were to eat enough, the propensity to not express toxin production would lessen considerably.

This comes from new findings out of Tuft University, and the C. difficile bacteria were specifically looked at. These bacteria are found in soil, water, air, and on most surfaces in hospital wards. They are rather docile -- until they get hungry.

Are there high levels of disease in a medical facility compared to a normal home? You bet -- hospitals are breeding grounds for bacteria and viral outbreaks (think of all the concentrated sick in one area). Is there a possible way to keep certain bacteria at bay by leading them to constant sources of nutrition? As a solution, that sounds very intriguing to me as a future possibility.

Nutritional supplements: yes or no?

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Do you take nutritional supplements every day? Many of us do, and it's estimated that the number of regular nutritional supplement takers has steadily been increasing.

In many cases, it's almost no guess at all why so many people take nutritional supplements every day. The nutrition gained from a routine, modern western diet is so awful these days that more nutrition has to come from somewhere. Enter the easy-to-use supplement.

Less reliance on a good nutritional supplement can be had by eating nutritionally-dense foods each and every day. It takes more time to do this, but it's only your health at stake, right?

HIV patient gets new lung

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In what could be considered a weird medical miracle, a team of European doctors has performed a lung transplant on an HIV patient.

HIV complications caused the need for a transplant since the patient's respiratory system was failing. To me, it's amazing that transplants occur with such success these days with blood types and other mismatches sometimes interfering.

As the fight against HIV (and a possible cure) ever going to come to a conclusion? With the human genome being mapped (and being understood more every day), who knows. Until then, medical miracles like this continue to give many people faith in advanced medicine just when it is needed.

Get fit with a phone that smells your food

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One of the hardest parts about trying to get fit is trying to figure out whether you're making any progress. Especially when you're starting out, and the going is tough, how do you know whether all this pain and suffering is actually accomplishing anything?

Now you can chart your progress with your cell phone. The Health Conscious Tracking Phone allow you to track your nutrition and fitness progress, while also connecting you with other phone users who have similar goals. Trying to lose weight? Or run a marathon? You can use your new cell community for motivation and support.

But the best part about the phone is it's ability to smell your food. Complete with eNose technology, the device can analyze your diet by recognizing the unique chemical structure (or "smelling") anything you eat. It can then make you aware of what food groups you're missing.

So, with a community of supportive nutrition buddies keeping tabs on your, and a phone that can smell everything you eat, there's no way you can hide from your fitness goals. Hooray for technology!

Workout secrets of top celebrities revealed

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Celebrities always look great, and seeing as they're always in our face on TV, at the supermarket check-out and pretty much everywhere else, we get this idea that that's how we should look. So it's no surprise that we eat up celebrity workout secrets like their freshly baked-and-buttered-bread. Just how do they look so good?

Two words: air brushing.

Ok, I'm not being fair. Most celebrities do workout quite a bit and watch what they eat to maintain those perfect figures. Want some examples?Angelina Jolie used a climbing wall and plyometric exercises to get in shape for Tomb Raider. Penelope Cruz is a ballerina. For more secrets, check out the article.

Do you think it's all fake, or are these celebrities really as aesthetically perfect as we think?

Motivate to quit with the "Smoking Jacket"

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If traditional methods like nicotine gum and the patch aren't working when it comes to keeping your "I'm gonna quit smoking" mojo, maybe wearing this Smoking Jacket every time you step outside for a smoke will. As you puff, the "lungs" on the jacket fill up with the exhaled smoke -- gradually turning darker and darker over time and representing the damage you're doing to your body as you continue with your bad habit.

But summer's almost here, so a jacket isn't really practical. But I wonder if they make a tank-top version?

Four new breast cancer genes discovered

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In what's being called an "outstanding discovery" researchers recently found four new genes that play a role in the development of breast cancer. But while some genes, like BrCA1 and BrCA2, significantly increase the risk of a women developing the disease, these four genes don't appear to do so and won't affect screening guidelines at this time.

What seems to be more exciting about this study lies not in the discovery, but in the method used. Comparing searching the genome to fishing, researchers said that rather that using "...a rod and line, we have trawled the pool." The method may eventually lead to breakthroughs in the discovery of genes in other diseases like diabetes.

Though genes are one part of the equation, experts are quick to point out that the answer to breast cancer is complex. Diet, lifestyle, and environmental factors all figure in and no one is quite sure to what extent. Whether these four new genes will lead to better screening and more options for women down the road will remain to be seen.

Obama to unveil universal health care plan today

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With the race for the 2008 White House about to get underway in a big way, so are the largest issues facing candidates and the public. Front and center is the debate over the poor excuse of a health care system in the richest country in the world.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is readying his proposal for a type of universal health care and plans to unveil a plan to set up universal health care in the U.S. by 2012, which will be paid for by employers and tax increases on the wealthy.

While I'm not sure taxing the wealthy to subsidize medical care for the poor is the best answer (this is a capitalist country, by the way), Obama's plan has its highs and lows. The need to have all citizens (note: documented citizens) covered under some kind of health care plan is paramount. The road to the solution, though, will be a biggie until November of 2008.

Fit Links: Keeping your hair, and keeping it healthy

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As fabulous as we at That's Fit think this blog is, the truth is there are hundreds of wonderful blogs on healthy living to be seen all over the blogosphere. So in this feature, Fit Links, we'll introduce you to some that have caught our eye.

Your hair is one of the first things people notice about your appearance. When it's healthy, your hair can be a reflection of your personal style and help you look your best. But what about things like hair loss, split ends, and frizziness? Here's some of my favorite blogs to help keep you in-the-know about having healthy hair.

Baldiness.com calls itself "the truthiness about baldiness." What's that mean? They're a slightly fun-loving site with information about hair loss, and tips for keeping the hair you have as long as possible.

Hairstyle.com has suggestions for diet solutions to fight graying, thinning, or greasy hair.

Hairparlor.com is an all-around haircare website with news and tips from experts about getting and styling healthy hair.
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Daily Fit Tip: Multiply!

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Are you trying to lose weight and get discouraged when you go over your calorie limit? Here's a tip to take some of the pressure off. Try multiplying your daily calorie limit by 7and looking at your caloric intake over a week-long period instead. For instance, if you want to eat 1500 calories a day:

1500
x 7
10,500

Now, over the next 7 days, you can eat 10,500 calories. That means, if that cute guy (or girl) in the next cubicle invites you to lunch, take them up on it! Let's say on Monday, you go 300 calories over. You can reduce your calories by 100 on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and by Friday you'll be all caught up again.

Not only does it make "catching up" after an indulgence less painful, it also allows you a little more flexibility in your daily life and may help reduce that discouraged feeling when you do go over your limit.
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Zodiaction: Where 'what's your sign' meets 'what's your workout?'

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You'd think by now there wouldn't be any more room for "firsts" in the weight loss and fitness industry, but the authors of a new book called "Zodiaction" beg to differ: they are promoting their book as "the first-ever workout program based on your astrological sign."

For the record, I have no idea if that's true or not.

But anyway, do you think it makes sense to pick a workout based on astrology? Obviously they do, and they don't stop at just workout suggestions. They also give ideas on what your physical "trouble spots" might be, individual dieting vices, and even what kind of clothes you should be wearing during exercise. Based on this summary of the book by each sign my abs are my trouble spot, I tend to eat too much, and I should be working out in big loose sweats.

Yes, yes, and no thanks (yoga pants all the way). Okay then, moving on to the next crazy fad!

You Are What You Eat: Rhubarb is a Super Food?

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rhubarbEach week, we'll be offering original recipes and unique ways to use those Super Foods that pack nutritional power. After all, you are what you eat -- make it count!

When Super Foods come to mind, rhubarb may not be floating around with the broccolis and the kales. But you may be overlooking a nutritional powerhouse that is easy to grow and to use in recipes.

In fact, rhubarb has been considered a super food long before "Super Foods" existed. Historically, it has been used a laxative and to reduce fevers, among other unique uses.

Why is it super today? It is low in carbs, high in vitamin C, fiber and potassium. It is said to speed up metabolism and aid weight loss. Rhubarb is even being used in studies to treat hot flashes.

And seeing as rhubarb is abundant this time of year, let's get some into our diets, shall we?

Believe it or not, rhubarb is all the rage with gourmet chefs. Not just used in pies anymore, you'll find mouth-watering recipes like Roast Pork with Rhubarb Chutney (which also uses many healthful spices, like cinnamon and ginger) and Scalloped Rhubarb (complete with the Super walnuts).

My mother-in-law makes a simple rhubarb recipe that can be used a number of ways. Chop a pound or so of rhubarb stalk (the leaves are toxic, so throw them away), sprinkle generously with sugar (I'd use sucanat) and put them in a pot, the bottom of which is covered with enough water to keep the rhubarb from burning. Add about 1 teaspoon of vanilla or to taste, and cook until tender. Sweeten with more sugar to taste. She uses this either on toast or just eats it with toast on the side, but it is also delicious over ice cream. Hmmmm . . . maybe blended into oatmeal?

Rhubarb Bread is a great way to get your whole grains, and the first recipe for the bread machine includes whole wheat flour, although I'd use sprouted spelt. And how about the Mayo Clinic's Rhubarb Pecan Muffins?

For me, the trick to balancing the benefits of rhubarb with the negatives of the baked goods it is often used in is to cut way back on the amount of sugar the recipes call for, to use sucanat instead of sugar and use sprouted whole grains instead of white flour. And everything in moderation, of course!

Do you have a favorite healthy way to use rhubarb?
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Superbugs rise in poor neighborhoods

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Superbugs, illnesses that have mutated to resist treatment by antibiotics, have moved beyond hospitals and nursing homes, and spread to the urban poor. Worse yet, is that according to a new study, these infections are on the rise.

No longer restricted to highly-sterilized settings, these diseases have recently been showing up in prisoners, and people who get illegal tattoos. It's thought that the crowded living conditions in public housing are acting like a bridge between high-risk people -- allowing the infection to spread at an alarming rate.

While the rise of superbugs in poor Chicago neighborhoods has been dramatic, some doctors caution that these staph infections are "equal opportunity bacteria" -- affecting those in affluent neighborhoods just as easily. As a matter of fact, the infection rate amongst the general popular is unknown, as this study only reflected cases reported through the public hospital system.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say you can keep the disease from spreading by washing your hands, keeping cuts clean and covered, avoiding contact with other people's wounds and avoiding shared personal items like towels, razors, etc.

Meet the Bloggers: Lauren Greschner

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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 new blogger Lauren Greschner, who brings her fresh take on fitness to us all the way from friendly Canada. Welcome, Lauren!

1. Who are you?

Lauren Greschner

2. Age you tell people you are.

27 (which is true!)

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

Calgary, Canada is both where I'm from and where I live now. But I've spent time in London, England and hope to live in Sydney, Australia in the future.

4. Do you have a personal blog?

No

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

I am an assistant editor for WorldWeb.com, writing travel articles and listings.

6. 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 am a mere mortal! However, I have found that as I've hit my late-20's I've become much more interested in healthy eating and a range of exercise including yoga.

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

I'm not sure if it has a name but I'd call it the Eating As Little As Possible Diet. Obviously not healthy and I could never make it for more than a day at a time without giving up!

8. What motivates you to exercise and stay healthy?

To be honest, my main reason is that I want to LOOK good. Not really thin, but healthy. Also, I find that I feel happier when I work out on a regular basis and eat right.

9. Who's your favorite fitness role model?

Hmmm, not sure if I have a specific favourite. Probably anyone who doesn't subscribe to the idea that you have to be ultra-thin to look good. Perhaps someone like Gabrielle Reese, who is an athlete and so isn't skinny but incredibly fit.

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

Usually gym workouts but I'm trying to get outdoors more for walks and hikes now that summer is approaching. I love to be out in the sunshine!

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

Neither! I usually wear athletic gear from Roots.

12. What's your favorite fitness activity?

I really enjoy running. Usually on the treadmill but as I mentioned, now that the weather is getting better, I'm hoping to sart running outdoors.

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

Travelling and hunting down great music, new and old. I love going to see bands play live!

14. 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?

I love a glass (or two ... or even three sometimes) of wine or beer! My excuse is that I enjoy it! I love the social aspect of sitting with friends on a patio in the sunshine in the summer and chatting while drinking a cold beer. Or, or having a nice meal and a conversation with a great glass of red wine.

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Grocery stores are overwhelming & confusing to men

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Is this true? Do men really have trouble and get confused in the grocery store? According to a new survey 71% of men have done some kind of shopping in the grocery store over the past three months (up from 41% back in 2002), and they aren't having an easy time of it. They have trouble finding things, are uncomfortable making substitution decisions, and (of course!) don't ask for help when they need it. And because they are so different from women in the way they shop, grocery stores (currently designed for women) often leave them feeling generally confused and even a little overwhelmed.

Unfortunately it's unlikely that stores will be making major changes anytime soon, since women still represent the majority of the shopping market. So, for now anyway, it looks like it's "sink or swim" guys! Good luck!

Don't fall for sweetener marketing pitches so fast

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Like Sweet-and-Low or Equal? While fake sweeteners are superior to sugar in terms of calories, they're not natural products. Your body was never designed for synthetics like this, yet we continue to consume all these fake sweeteners because of "low calorie" sates pitches. Why?

Sucralose was the result of a product that needed to be made so that "made with real sugar" could be the marketing pitch. But, make no mistake -- this is *not* a natural product. I've tasted it briefly and while the taste was very sugary, I could easily tell a difference. can you? Equal and saccharin make me gag, though -- nothing about those products tastes good to me.

Although stevia still has not been approved as a food ingredient, my research indicates that it's the best, natural sweetener there is. And, it is sooooo good.

Will a Wii-based fitness program help you lose weight?

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Hospitals are using the Wii for physical therapy, the system has games designed specifically for mental acuity, and youth fitness programs around the country are using the video games to get kids physically engaged.

So, I suppose it was only a matter of time before someone developed a weight-loss program entirely for the Wii.

The site is called WiiHealthy, and, according to its creators, it can show you how the Nintendo machine "can actually save your life!" Their theory is that because playing video games is more fun than dieting, fitness exercises, pills, etc, you're more likely to do it. Plus, because the system is easy to use, and requires that you move your body to play it, you'll be able to pick it up in no time, and use it to stay active.

Follow our advice," they say, "and you'll be losing weight in no time." What's the secret? They claim 30-45 minutes a day playing Wii sports games for 10 weeks will take off the pounds.

Like any other diet, this is no magic potion. It's yet another way to package the same old mantra: "Eat right. Exercise." As proven time and again, this is the one and only way to lose weight and stay in shape. That said, it is possible to play the the Wii in a way that will get your heart rate up, and keep it up. And I agree, playing video games is a lot more fun than running aimlessly on a treadmill.

May 31: World No Tobacco Day

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This Thursday is World No Tobacco Day and the theme of this year's campaign is smoke-free environments. When I was in high school, teachers smoked in the teacher's lounge and students smoked in the back parking lot. Today, smoking is banned from places both public and private and people are more comfortable standing up for their right not to breathe in someone else's secondhand smoke. As a recent article in the Washington Post points out, private citizens are increasingly banning smoking in their own homes as well; in the last 15 years, the number of smoke-free homes in the U.S. has risen from 43% to 72%, though the numbers vary considerably by state.

Consider making your home smoke-free this year. If you don't smoke, you'll reduce your exposure to secondhand fumes and if you do smoke, you'll be protecting the lungs of your family and pets. Need help? Check out these easy tips to get started.

Jordin Sparks angers National Action Against Obesity

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While browsing my celebrity gossip sites this morning, I came across this video from Fox News regarding American Idol and Jordin Sparks. Now, I don't watch American Idol and don't know Jordin Sparks from a hole in the wall but I looked up her pictures and she is really cute.

But while I see cute, Meme Roth from the National Action Against Obesity sees, in her words, "diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol...a picture of UNhealth." I am pretty appalled by her remarks, as Jordin is 17 and what appears to be a healthy weight. She's also a real person with feelings and a role model for many young girls who may be on the verge of developing eating disorders after such careless remarks. American Idol is, at far as I know, a show about vocal talent, not body size. You can watch any of the thousand sitcoms on TV to see examples of TV flaunting unhealthy body sizes. Furthermore, I think the appeal of the show is that it features real people with real struggles. Having some stick figure berate her on national television is not going help Jordin develop a comfortable body image that she needs to be healthy and well-rounded.

Am I over-reacting or does this rile you up too?

Delay Parkinson's with fitness

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Parkinson's is a debilitating disease that affects a person's movement, strength, and balance, and in many ways is still a mystery to doctors and scientists. One thing that is becoming more clear, however, is that regular physical exercise seems to help slow the progression of the symptoms and delay the effects of the disease. And now a certified trainer, David Zid, and a doctor afflicted with Parkinson's himself, Thomas H. Mallory M.D., have collaborated to create a fitness regimen specifically designed for Parkinson's patients.

The fitness plan is available in the book "Delay the Disease: Exercise and Parkinson's Disease," and part of the proceeds from the sale of the book will go to support the research, development and treatment of Parkinson's.

Bad to the bone: obesity

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Does obesity increase of decrease bone mass? There are opinions on both sides of that table, and a new one states that increasing body weight decreased bone mass.

In other words, preventing yourself from becoming obese with prudent dietary controls and other methods is probably much better for your skeletal structure than anything. After all, it's your bones that keep you upright, right?

The researchers who came up with the conclusion to this study say that this particular results is important because treatments meant for obesity reduction may increase bone mass. Result? Protection against osteoporosis.

Are diets making us fat? Susie Orbach thinks so

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British Psychoanalyst Susie Orbach has launched a lawsuit against Weight Watchers, claiming the company acts irresponsibly by insisting they have a weight-loss solution for customers when they're actually hoping to gain the customers life-long dependence on the program. What she's arguing makes sense, actually, because weight watchers and every other diet chain stands to benefit more from you failing or gaining all the weight back than they do if you lost all that extra weight and kept it off on your own.

Dieting, according to Orbach, should be banned in favour of teaching people life-long healthy habits and delving in to the roots of their over-eating to create a healthy mind with a healthy attitude to food. Although it makes me wonder -- if she as a psychoanalyst stands to benefit from this type of psychological approach, how is she any different from the weight-loss companies that she criticizes for making a profit from the traditional 'diet' approach?

What do you think?

Ice cream treats you can feel good about eating

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I think it's a bad sign that when we walked in to our local, seasonal dairy bar recently, the girl working behind the counter said, "Hey! Nice to see you! The usual?" The fact that we have a "usual" at an ice cream shop is indicative of the fact that we enjoy ice cream just a little too much, in my opinion.

But there are some situations when an ice cream is just called for: after a hot day at the beach, a hot day at the park, a hot day playing baseball, a hot day being hot. Let's face it, summer calls for a frozen treat...right? I could eat ice cream happily every day in the summer, but I once looked up the nutritional information for a large cone and realized that a daily ice cream habit is about as healthy as a daily quarter pounder habit. One ice cream concoction can contain nearly a day's worth of calories and a ton of saturated fat.

Luckily, people like me have options. This article will tempt you with promising new products that look nearly as yummy as the "real thing." Gelato, tastier frozen yogurts, and tangy new treats promise to pack a flavor-filled punch without the weight gain. What's your favorite flavor?

Breathing pure oxygen is bad for your brain

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I was in a minor car accident when I was younger, and because I'd hit my head the paramedics insisted on taking me to the hospital to get checked out. It was the only time I've ever been in an ambulance, and one of the things that stands out in my memory is the EMT putting the oxygen on my face and apparently trying to lighten the mood by smiling and saying "breathing this pure oxygen is totally going to give you a natural high."

Well it didn't give me a natural high, and according to this new research it may have actually done some damage instead. Testing shows that inhaling pure oxygen has exactly the opposite effect than intended: it triggers the release of hormones and chemicals that can potentially hurt the brain and heart, and that interfere with normal blood flow and oxygenation of vital organs. It seems a mix of carbon dioxide and oxygen proves to be much better, or even just plain old room air -- which they already use for patients in Europe. Who knew?

Herb taker? Be sure and follow directions

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If you use herbal supplements, do you pay attention to the indications mentioned on the label? Have you done your own research into the proper dosage and usage of those supplements? Many American adults have not.

Herbs like echinacea are great for certain conditions, but the indications also need to be followed. Do you really know what that kava-kava is supposed to be used for? How about that St. John's Wort? Most herb users I know are very familiar with what they are taking and why. Do you?

With education comes empowerment regarding herbs, and if you're into natural cures and nutrition, it's all worth every bit of effort.

Get fit on a bicycle built for two

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If you have a friend or a partner who's a great team player, then you might just have the perfect situation for tandem biking. Though old-fashioned tandems were created so that the (presumably stronger) male part of the team could sit in back and do the work while his lady friend rode up front and had a better view, modern tandem bikes throw those old stereotypes out the window and depend on two fit riders to manage the bike.

The rear rider, the stoker, is the power player. Depended upon for most of the pedaling, the stoker gets a great lower body workout. The forward rider doesn't have it easy, though. These days, the forward rider should generally be the bigger of the two and a stronger rider, because they're in charge of steering and braking.

Tandem bikes aren't cheap, ranging in price from $500 to $12,000, but they provide an excellent mental and physical workout and an opportunity to bond with your closest fitness buddy.

Contestants compete for kidney of terminally ill patient on new reality show

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The "Big Donor Show," a new Dutch reality TV program, features a terminally ill woman, and three contestants who need her kidney to survive. Producers claim they're drawing attention to an organ donor crisis in the country, while others -- even some members of the Dutch parliament -- are calling the show "unethical" and "tasteless," and asking that it be removed from the air.

It works like this. "Lisa," the donor, who has an inoperable brain tumor, interviews the three candidates, their families and their friends, and chooses which one should get her kidney. Viewers get to vote on which person they feel should receive the donation (ala American Idol) but, in the end, it's Lisa's decision.

While the program was obviously created to make money, and not to raise awareness about the shortage of organ donors, the producers do have a point. The waiting list for a kidney in the Netherlands is four years long, and 200 people die every year while waiting for a transplant. By the sounds of it, the country has a serious problem on their hands.

That said, profiting off of a competition in which people's lives literally hang in the balance seems morally reprehensible.

However, whether or not you agree with the show's content, it has certainly succeeded in getting people talking. Given the situation, maybe drastic times call for drastic measures.