Monday, 11 June 2007

Pack a power-lunch to feed your midday workout

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Working out at lunchtime is an excellent way to squeeze some quick fitness into an already busy day. But because you don't want to skip that important mid-day meal, making time to exercise and eat a nutritious lunch can be quite a juggling act. Make things easier on yourself by packing a nutritious, power-packed meal that has all the right ingredients to help you recover from your workout. Your post workout lunch will need:
  • Fluids: Drink plenty of water, but soup, fruits, and veggies are good choices too.
  • Carbs: When you workout, your body burns stored glycogen and that needs to be replaced. Choosing whole grain breads, legumes, and fruit should do the trick. Make sure you feed your body carbs within the first half hour after working out, or it may take you a full day to recoup.
  • Protein: Some studies suggest that protein can help you recover more quickly after a workout, and may help your body repair small muscle tears that occur during exercise. Plus, it helps you stay full for a longer period of time.
Lunches don't have to be complicated; a turkey sandwich on whole wheat with an apple would cover it, but if you feel like getting creative, check out these recipes for some tasty ideas.

Trying to conceive? Prepare with these 20 tips

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Are you trying to have a baby? If so, take a few minutes to check out this list of 20 things you should do before you get pregnant. Taking care of a few health-related issues before you take the plunge into parenthood increase your chance of a smooth pregnancy and delivery, and will eventually help foster the health of your unborn baby. Follow the link for the full list, but here are five of my favorite highlights:

  1. Get started now on that folic acid supplement. Experts recommend you beef up on the nutrient -- which can decrease the risk of neural tube defects -- at least one month before conceiving.
  2. Stock your fridge with healthy foods. Getting in the habit now will help ensure that you get enough nutrition when morning sickness and pregnancy cravings hit.

Continue reading Trying to conceive? Prepare with these 20 tips

We love to gawk at fit celebs: Cameron Diaz, you got it goin' on

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Oh, to live by the ocean. Oh, to spend days in the sun and the surf. Oh, to have the core strength and balance of Cameron Diaz to surf myself into seriously toned shape.

This pic shows Cameron surfing solo in Hawaii, much different then that one sexy but oh-so passé shot of she and JT back in the day. Cameron's isn't the only celeb to hit the waves but her island workout does confirm that Hawaii is Hollywood's favorite getaway these days.

If you're also without waves and would like surfer-girl abs like Cameron, you can still get on board. Why not try a surf-inspired workout DVD or try some cross-training to get geared up for a surf-centered vacation this summer?

[via People]

Weight loss is great; what about weight control?

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Chances are you've tried several methods for dropping pounds, from diet changes to exercise. While a temporary loss of weight may be your goal, wouldn't it be nice to have permanent weight loss after all that effort?

It's pretty easy for many people to lose weight. How about keeping it off? That's quite a bit harder, but with a mental focus of attaining and sustaining a goal, you too can "control" your weight instead of just losing it for a month or so.

The key is changing your lifestyle and outlook on everything from food to exercise to when to eat throughout the day. Controlling weight -- instead of it controlling you -- can lead to so many positive things in life. The effort does not come easy at all -- but trust me, it is worth it.

Do kids need their own personal trainers?

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When I first read the headline of this article, I expected it to be over the top. Hiring personal trainers for kids? I envisioned pushy parents who wanted their children to be the best in their sport, or who were unhealthily obsessed with perfect bodies. But once I read it over, I realized that -- as with anything -- some parents may take it to the extreme, but that some children may really enjoy time spent with a personal trainer.

One parent in the article hired a personal trainer to help his teen learn how to properly lift weights. Because his teen was lifting anyway with his friends, his father worried he may get hurt. Other parents hired trainers to help their kids in their sport or to lose weight, and experts say a personal trainer can be a part of helping kids learn to safely love an active lifestyle.

Regardless of the reason behind hiring a personal trainer for your child, a few steps need to be taken. Trainers should be certified and be experienced with kids. Talk to your pediatrician, and wait until your child is mature enough to work with a trainer. Most important, I think, is that your children enjoy the exercise and have fun, because that's what will hook them on fitness for the long haul. Check out the full article for more advice on choosing a trainer.

Keep your kids healthy this summer (and always)

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Here's a scary statement: this might be the first generation of children who don't outlive their parents. That comes from this article on ways to keep your kids active and fit this summer. I guess at some point technology can't save us -- no matter how advanced we get, good living really is the best medicine.

The ideas they have for getting your kids moving this summer include things like limiting screen time, making things fun, involving the whole family, and role modeling active behavior. The best part about encouraging your kids to live healthier lives is that it can't help but rub off on everybody else in the family too!

Birdfeeders may be dangerous to birds

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Backyard birdwatchers in the Pacific Northwest are being asked to give up their bird feeders for the rest of the summer in the wake of a salmonella outbreak in the affected states. Salmonella is passed between the birds through their feces, and as feathered friends fly from bird feeder to bird feeder, they rapidly spread the disease. The best way to stop the epidemic is to empty bird feeders so there are no places for birds to gather and feed. Health experts say that if you're set on keeping yours, you'll have to clean it every day with 1 part bleach to 10 parts water and thoroughly dry, plus clean up dropped seeds on the ground. (If it was me, I'd just empty the bird feeder!) Birds don't need feeders this time of year, experts say, so having one in your backyard is more for you than for them.

The disease poses little risk to humans, but house cats who catch the birds or stalk bird feeders may be at risk. Sick birds looked "fluffed up" and act very tame, and the disease is usually fatal to them. Check with your local DNR to see if your state's birds are affected by salmonella.

First-aid info to keep handy for the fam

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Warm weather means more time for our family to enjoy the outdoors and we fill many afternoons by playing at the park, kicking a ball around, walking, biking and swimming. It also means more opportunities for the inevitable cuts, bumps and bruises that go along with all that activity.

Of course, most of the time, a little clean-up, kissing and bandaging is all that's needed for summertime scrapes. But what if a little more attention is needed? And what if a babysitter is in charge when your child falls off his tricycle or gets a nasty splinter on the back deck?

Keeping a first-aid guide on hand is a great way to ease your mind that you -- or a sitter or grandma or even your older kids -- will have a quick reference for what to do when someone gets hurt. Dumb Little Man has done the research and found two great printable guides, one for those minor first-aid situations and one for emergency traumas. Simply download, print off copies and put in places where your family and caregivers can easily access the info they need.

Consider hanging a copy inside the door to your medicine cabinet, slipping one into your family binder (or wherever you store contact numbers, allergy information and tidbits you want your sitters to know), storing one in the glove box of your car or tucking one into your beach bag or day-pack.

Here's hoping you never have to refer to one of these first-aid guides and to the assurance of knowing you have some solid information close by just in case you do need it.

No harm done to aging bones by regular exercise

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Baby boomers and others who are passing the 50 and 60 age ranges these days should not shun exercise based on the possibility of a fracture or other bone damage. Why? Well, bone mass can actually improve with exercise in people from 55 to 75 years of age according to a new study.

Yes, walking, lifting weights, Pilates and even yoga can be enjoyed by those who believe their bones may be damaged by too much physical exercise. Simply walking around the block (briskly) every morning can bring wonders for health. That, and cut out the cheeseburger if at all possible.

Losing weight on diet alone has been thought of as contributing to bone loss in several age groups, so do this: exercise and get those muscles and bones toned up before changing your diet (where real weight loss may come from for many).

Whey Low: Whey cool, or whey out there?

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Reduced-calorie sugar. Does it sound too good to be true? Manufacturers of Whey Low claim that's exactly what they've created. The alternative to traditional sugar is made from natural sugars -- sucrose, fructose, and lactose -- not artificial ingredients. The product's developer was inspired to create the alternative after his wive was diagnosed with diabetes. He claims that the product combines the three natural sugars in such a way that they aren't fully absorbed by the body. According the Whey Low website, the product has 75% fewer calories than table sugar.

The University of Maryland is currently testing the product to see if it holds up to the manufacturer's claims. If, as claimed, an interaction between the three ingredients causes the sucrose and lactose to pass unabsorbed into the large intestine, Whey Low could be a healthier addition to your grocery store shelves.

New STD hitting young adults

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A new sexually transmitted disease has recently been discovered among young adults. Called mycoplasma genitalium, the bug can cause inflammation of the urethra in men and of the cervix and uterus in women, but displays few symptoms in most sufferers.

In a recent study, mycoplasma genitalium was found to be more common among those living with a sexual partner. Though chlamydia still leads the way, with a prevalence of 4.2% of study participants, the new mycoplasma genitalium was found in 1% of people studied, making it a contender in common STDs among young people.

Because not much is known about the disease, including whether sufferers need treatment or not, it's not likely that screening will become commonplace just yet. If you're concerned, you can talk to your doctor, and you can also find out if you're at risk for an STD here.

Losing weight? Look at your calorie density

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All calories are not the same. For example, did you know that you can eat quite a bit and still lose weight? The key here is to eat "smart" instead of eating less. If you eat less but those foods that you do eat contain a large amount of calories, the weight may not melt away as fast.

What about eating 6-8 meals a day and losing weight? Sound odd? It's not all that strange, really. In fact, a new study from Penn State says that diets focusing on foods that are low in calorie density can promote healthy weight loss. A nice side benefit? That kind of outlook on food can also help you to control hunger.

Calories low in density come from foods with a high water content (vegetables, fruits and even soup) can be eaten in abundance while keeping hunger at bay -- and helping you to lose weight as well. But that small hamburger, fries and ice cream for dessert? Even small portions of those foods pack in quite a few calories -- so you'll need to spend an hour on the treadmill to burn them all.

Weird science: Are antibacterial products bad for you?

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The age-old adage of washing up before dinner has some strong implications when you consider how much bacteria could be hitching a ride on dirty hands. All kinds of nasty illnesses can result from improper hygiene. Way back when before everyone had fancy antibacterial cleaners, soap got the job done. But now that we can simply rub on a hand gel or spray a surface, it begs the question: are we really choosing the right weapon against bacteria?

Microbiologists are beginning to think that antibacterial products don't quite clean as well as traditional methods. In fact, they could be doing more harm than good! These cleaners leave behind residue that can help build resistant bacteria, whereas soap and water do not. Why is this? It's due to the fact that antibacterial products don't kill everything, and the strains of bacteria left over become even stronger.

After the bacteria become tolerant of these cleaners, cross-resistance is possible. This means they start putting up all kinds of defenses, including protection against other things like antibiotics. One example they discovered was for a compound found in many hand and wash cleaners. Prolonged exposure to this common antibacterial cleaner caused mutations in the bacteria. Not only did they become stronger, but they somehow built a resistance to an antibiotic used to treat tuberculosis. While this has only been shown in labs, the potential is there in the home. If you're a healthy individual, experts suggest sticking with soap. However some people with lesser immune systems may have to rely on antibacterial products.

Dads can get postpartum depression too

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Researchers have determined that new moms aren't the only ones that can suffer from postpartum depression. More than 5,000 two-parent families were studied and results showed that 14% of new moms showed signs of moderate to severe postpartum depression. But the dads pulled in with a close second -- 10% exhibited depression symptoms.

Postpartum depression has long been explained by the hormonal changes women experience during pregnancy and after delivery. While this certainly is a causative factor, it's not the only reason. A lack of sleep, complete change in routine, financial worries, stress, and an enduring overwhelmed feeling can also contribute to postpartum depression. While new dads are spared the hormonal changes, they aren't exempt from all the other lifestyle changes that come along with a new child.

In addition, men whose wives were experiencing depression symptoms were more likely to be depressed themselves. This connection is important for clinicians considering paternal postpartum depression is not well known and men are less likely to seek help. If a clinician treats a new mother for postpartum depression, speaking to the father as well would be wise.

Loopholes make "organic" food label easy to fake

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What exactly does "organic" mean? Technically, organic foods are those made without the use of external products (like pesticides or hormones, for instance). However, that's not necessarily what the "organic" label means on the products you purchase. Those labels are certified by the USDA, and their definition of "organic" has loopholes that allow companies to misrepresent their products.

It's mostly due to a clause in USDA rules that allows for manufacturers to use nonorganic ingredients if organic versions are not "commercially available." But because this language is vague, and because the organizations enforcing this rule are ineffective, big companies have easily found their way around this barrier.

In response, the USDA is trying to create a specific list of nonorganic ingredients that will be allowed in USDA-certified organic products. While this would make the distinction between organic and nonorganic more cut and dry, the USDA has proposed a list of 38 ingredients -- thus allowing for a wide variety nonorganic products to carry the coveted label.

This is a huge setback for consumers, who will now have no way to determine which products are actually organic, and which are simply labeled that way.

Diet pills: More fiction than fact

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There are so many "diet" pills these days that it's hard not to look at one of them and consider it even close to legitimate. After all, diet pill marketers hone in on the need of customers to try and lose weight (and failing) consistently. And there you have it -- a billion-dollar scam business.

Although there are some pills that do actually work (according to customers), are any of them worth the bottle they ship in? The various over-the-counter and prescription diet pills are plentiful, and current faves like hoodia gordonii and even the newer Alli are being marketed furiously at the current time.

The Diet Channel takes a hard look at the various types of diet pills in this expose, which I found to be very interesting. Read it here -- and then reconsider whether that next sales pitch is really worth it.

Get a boost at work with the 'Meditation Nap'

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It seems like we're hearing a lot about napping at work lately, dare we hope it's the beginning of a soon-to-be widely accepted practice? I highly doubt it, but that doesn't mean you can't still try it every once in awhile (discreetly, of course!) to rejuvenate and refresh yourself so you get more done.

Of course nobody is recommending you take a nap right at your desk or cubicle (wearing those sunglasses with the eyeballs painted on the outside), but if you have the chance to get away over your lunch hour or in the afternoon then that's another story altogether. And although napping might sound like a simple enough thing to do, there are things you can do to nap in the best way and get the most from the whole experience. If you don't have one of these MetroNaps Energy Pods (hilarious!) to create the perfect sleeping environment, then maybe a "Meditation Nap" would work just as well? It's about relaxing and getting the most out of just a few minutes of shut-eye, from as little as 5 to as many as 20 minutes. Read the instructions on how to take a Meditation Nap, give it a shot, and let us know how it works for you!

Beta-Carotene: funny name, serious business

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Carrots may be good for eyesight -- you've probably heard this many, many times. But do you know what inside carrots cause that staggering eyesight assistance? Beta carotene -- and no, that's not a kind of paint thinner.

The carotenoid known as beta carotene is a form of vitamin A, which is generally known to help eyesight. Put another way, the vitamins and minerals in most fruits and vegetables -- including carrots -- continue to show immense health benefits to an increasing number of health-conscious people.

On the flip side, there have been some studies published recently that show certain levels of vitamins can actually harm human health. This makes sense, as too much of a good thing can end up being a bad thing. Does this apply to beta carotene, though?

Do you have an obese teenager?

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Obesity among the American teenage population is no laughing matter -- more and more kids seem to be packing on the extra pounds these days. What is to blame? Overzealous junk food marketers, a preponderance of fast food and many other items, that's what.

What can parents do about it? An obese teen is sure to be ridiculed by peers as well as have possible health problems, so the disadvantages of being an obese teenager can have both mental and physical consequences. In other words, the obese teen can suffer from many angles. Parents, once informed on how to help, can be a huge influence in this area, though.

If you're the parent of an obese teen and need to find a guidebook to help you with your child's situation, Weight Loss Confidential may just be your ticket. A great review of the book appears here, and it may just be the most important book you read this year.

As more smokers quit, Altria intros new smokeless tobacco products

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With smoking on the decline and bans popping up in many cities and countries these days, the cigarette manufacturers are sure to get hurt if they continue to rely on all those cigarette sales.

To make sure that does not happen, Philip Morris USA will start distributing a type of smokeless tobacco in a few months to help make the transition from cigarettes to smokeless tobacco a smooth one for those just recently shunned from smoking almost anywhere in public.

Is this a better alternative? Doubtful -- except for those that will not have to wade through secondhand smoke anymore. The Marlboro Snus (yes, Snus!) product will be like "dip," but will not require spitting. Nice.

Oatmeal or whole-wheat pancakes. Mmm!

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Tired of refined grains, bleached flour and huge amounts of unhealthy carbs? Instead of using white flour for those breakfast pancakes, how about switching to whole-wheat flour instead?

I use whole-wheat flour in everything -- from muffins to pancakes to cookies. Why? Well, there are no processed flours or bleach in whole-wheat products. That adds up to a much more healthy product in the end.

On top of that, have you ever heard of oatmeal pancakes? This recipe sounds so delicious that I'll be making it sometime this week. Just the thought makes me want some healthy and delicious breakfast foods -- right now!