Friday, 15 June 2007

Fit Factor: Super snazzy fitness DVDs

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Right now, I'm in the midst of a gym craze, which means I am going quite a bit (around 4 times a week.) Which is great, but I have to admit, there are times when I am definitely in a gym funk -- I just can't get motivated to make the trip. But I still need to work out so during those times, so I usually try a fitness DVD. They're especially good in the winter, when heading out into the freezing cold and scraping ice off your car is so not appealing. They're also great if you like you workout in the morning but don't like to get up early to battle the crowds at the gym. Yeah, DVDs can get repetitive after a while, but with Netflix offering them now so there's no need to do the same one over and over again.

This week, I decided to put together a list of awesome Fitness DVDs that will get your muscles toned and help you burn calories. Feel free to add your won favourites in the comments section. In no particular order:

Continue reading Fit Factor: Super snazzy fitness DVDs

Daily Fit Tip: Milk isn't bad for tea after all

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I think it would be really nice if these "studies" they keep doing didn't constantly contradict themselves! Case in point: back in January there was a study that said putting milk in your tea eliminates all the health benefits. But now, mere months later, we have new information that shows milk doesn't in fact affect the healthy qualities of tea at all.

So does it or doesn't it? I'm going to go with doesn't, since that's the latest news and I happen to like milk in my tea. What I'd also like is to see the researchers of both studies compare notes and see how and why they got such drastically different results. Get it together people!

Recipe Rehab: Blueberry Muffins

Our weekly feature, Recipe Rehab, takes a recipe -- sometimes basic, sometimes decadent and sometimes just plain unhealthy -- and turns it into a scrumptious and healthy dish, pumped up with nutrition. Sometimes all it takes is a few alterations to prepare a dish that would make even your nutritionist proud.

At last, a recipe for the infamous yogurt muffins that claim to be low fat. These are actually good for you - with less sugar and more fiber too.

Low Fat Blueberry Muffins

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 cup flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup fat-free yogurt
1/3 cup skim milk

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Grease twelve 2-1/2-inch muffin cups.

In a large bowl combine the 1-3/4 cups flour, the sugar, baking powder, baking
soda and salt; set aside. Add blueberries and toss until they are coated in flour.

Combine egg, yogurt and milk in another bowl and beat together. Add to dry ingredients until it forms a loose batter - it will probably be slightly lumpy.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter and bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clear.

Rehab Rundown

  • Whole wheat flour was substituted for some of the flour, adding fiber and nutrients
  • A smaller amount of honey was substituted for the sugar, adding more flavor, nutrients and cutting down on processed sugar
  • Fat free yogurt was substituted for oil
  • Skim milk was substituted for regular milk

Rehab Reveal

Based on 1 muffin

Original

Adapted

Calories

94 (44% from fat)

111 (6% from fat)

Fat

5g

1g

Saturated Fat

2g

0g

Protein

2g

4g

Carbohydrate

27g

23g

Fiber

0g

2g

Sodium

247mg

252mg

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'To Do' list or 'Not To Do' list? That is the question

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We always focus on making lists of things we need to do and inevitably end up feeling stressed out and overwhelmed by it all, when in reality a "not to do" list" may be much better for both our productivity and our health.

No, nobody is saying you should suddenly start shirking responsibilities. But by taking some time to realize what you waste time on every day you can make a list of things 'not to do' and you'll end up making room for all kinds of other things. By having more control over your time you'll naturally reduce stress and be productive. And that's good for all of us!

Yoga classes for your face?

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Recently yoga instructor Annelise Hagen in New York city was hit with inspiration as she surveyed her classroom, which was full of students with contorted faces as they stretched and balanced in various yoga poses. Why don't we exercise above the neck? she thought. And so "yoga face" classes were born, and eventually The Yoga Face book, with moves designed to tone the facial muscles and perhaps reduce a person's need for Botox or cosmetic surgery as they grow older.

So with facial "poses" like the "Marilyn Monroe" and "Lionface," do yoga techniques for the face really work? Some say yes and some say no, what do you think?

Could British families be broken up over obesity?

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At the British Medical Association's annual conference this month, some doctor's will be be putting forth a motion that childhood obesity should be viewed as neglect in the eyes of the law. What that would mean for parents of obese children is that -- should they choose not to follow their pediatrician's health and fitness guidelines -- they'd risk having their kids removed from the home to protect their health.

I have to assume that we're talking about gravely obese children whose health is in imminent danger, but there's no indication of that in the article, so I'm not sure. Though I'll agree that childhood obesity is an alarming trend and that parent responsibility is key, I can't agree that removing a child who is simply obese (and not in need of urgent care) to protect their future health is worth the psychological trauma it will cause to all involved. There are no easy answers to this issue, but a practice like this one seems to be creating more problems than it causes. What do you think? Are parents of obese children neglectful or do they just need a helping hand in the form of information and education?

Need a good laugh? Check out the Hula Chair

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Although hula hoops are most commonly thought of as a little girls game they're becoming more and more popular as a means of fun fitness for adults. I think adults hula hooping is fine and dandy, but this Hula Chair just makes me laugh. I guess it goes along with our increasingly sedentary lifestyles that we'd want to hula while sitting down! I honestly have no idea if this gadget has any health benefits or not because I couldn't stop laughing long enough to find out. But I do know laughing is good for you, so if nothing else check out this video of the Hula Chair and get your dose of laughs in for the day.

Seriously!?


Via Shiny Shiny

Oven cleaner: an unlikely eye treatment that works

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Many people would be amazed at all the different uses someone can squeeze out of various household items. Vinegar and microwaves are one example. But what if your doctor told you that these drops of oven cleaner he's about to put into your eyes will help your condition? I would say no thanks, I'll keep the glaucoma.

It should come as no surprise that the same substance which is used to clean grime out of ovens also moonlights as a superior eye treatment. The stuff is called nanoceria, and it can really help people with glaucoma. But before they could start using this on humans, lab rats and rabbits would need to break it in. Don't worry: not only was the oven cleaner harmless to their eyes, but it even fortified the cells against light damage!

Nanoparticles like these are the perfect size for penetrating the cornea. This allows doctors to pair it up with a compound that will successfully get inside the eye and treat glaucoma. So if your doctor asks about putting a few drops of cerium oxide nanoparticles in your eye, don't freak out. Medical applications come in all shapes and sizes, why not oven cleaner?

Do you have referred pain?

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Quite often patients schedule visits with their doctor due to knee pain only to find out that the problem actually lies in their hips. Called "referred pain," it's a fairly common phenomenon based in very complex causes related to the nervous system and how the body is internally "wired."

Only a doctor can help you find out if pain is truly coming from the source or is referred from some other body part. Keeping track of the symptoms of your pain and talking openly with your doctor about them, as well as asking about different treatment options, is really the best thing you can do.

Americans: less happy today than in the past

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A new study reveals that Americans are less happy today than they were 30 years ago. The research comes from Italy of all places, but it looks at data collected from 1975 to 2004. Can you guess the leading causes of this drop in happiness? The culprits are longer working hours and diminishing personal relationships.

It seems obvious: just look at the drastic rise in medical treatments for depression nowadays! How did we get to this point? While it's safe to say not everyone is a walking puddle of misery, our culture has become increasingly competitive. Not only that, but many people perceive others to be untrustworthy and keep their distance. An interesting note in the study states that it's easier to drop from the middle class to the poor in America than in Europe. Because of this insecurity, Europe's "happiness trends" have remained relatively constant over the years.

However there is hope. For those who think money can buy happiness, the good news is that an extra $320,000 in income will bring the same level of joy as someone who has plenty of friends and social interactions. If you buy into that, then good luck. For everyone else, the fix is simple. Try curbing the occupational binge and start spending more time with friends and family! Finding a happy balance is not as hard as it may appear. Here's to the next 30 years-

Angelina Jolie: "thin is not a compliment"

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Like most prominent actresses, Angelina Jolie is repeatedly asked about her weight -- particularly in the past year, as she's become noticeably thinner. The actress recently addressed the rumors about her size, and, surprisingly, isn't happy about being so small:

"Someone saying to me that I'm thin is not a compliment," Jolie said. "I've always been lean and this year I lost my mom and I've gone through a lot. I have four kids and I finished breastfeeding - it's been hard to get my nutrition back on track. Instead of people saying I look like a person dealing with something emotionally, they assume it's because I want to fit into skinny jeans."

While I generally discourage people from looking to celebrities as fitness role models (who train for 3 hours a day and claim to eat "whatever they want"), it's nice to hear such a prominent figure being so down-to-Earth about her appearance.

How'd they do it? Celeb Moms and their slim-down secrets

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I've never had a baby but since I have enough trouble getting rid of that extra 10 pounds I gained on my trip to Greece (Oh, gyros, you are pure, tasty evil), I can only imagine how hard it would be to lose an extra 30 pounds. How do moms do it?

AOL Body has put together the slimming secrets of some top celebrity moms. Among them: Heidi Klum, who used a personal trainer and the 3-Hor Diet; Kate Winslet used some British weightloss plan called the Facial Analysis Diet (umm, have to look that one up!); Reese Witherspoon ate healthfully and did yoga; Denise Richards used the Zone; and Kate Hudson went high-protein, low-carb.

How did you lose the baby weight?

Better decision-making through anger

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The commonly-held belief is that anger and rational thought don't exactly go hand in hand. So, if follows that when you lose your temper, you're probably not making the best decisions, right?

Apparently not. A recent study from the University of California, Santa Barbara, says that past research showing that angry people were less analytical was, essentially, missing the point. They believed, that instead of making "snap decisions" based on stereotypes or faulty logic, incensed people were actually doing a better job of thinking quickly and weeding out unnecessary information than their calmer counterparts.

At first, it doesn't seem to make sense, as you'd expect a calmer person to more thoroughly weigh all the options and come to a more thoughtful decision. But when people are a little peeved, they're more motivated to find the best solution as quickly as possible.

Other studies have also found that an appropriate amount of anger can be a positive thing. It helps people feel confident, and in control -- both of which can empower a person to make better decisions.

So don't beat yourself up the next time something trips your trigger -- getting a little angry never hurt anyone, and it might just make you more productive.

Self-esteem: we all have the same amount

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Despite what you might think about how a person's personality type effects his or her self-confidence, recent research proves that everyone has the same self-esteem.

Psychologists used to think that outward expressions -- like a self-effacing person who can't seem to take a compliment -- were indicators of a person's self-worth, but now they try and measure "implicit self-esteem."

To do that, psychologists use an Implicit Association Test -- an exam in which researchers would give study participants a series of pleasant words, and as them to use those words in self-referential statements ("Good" would become "I am good," etc).

The tests showed that -- while there were superficial cultural differences, like Americans who were more likely to boast about themselves than, say, someone from China -- all participants had the same amount of implicit self-esteem.

It's just that with some people, their confidence is hiding beneath the surface.

Sisters Skinny: Katie and Molly vow to be a size 6

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I recently came across a really fun blog about weight loss called Sister Skinny. It's written by two sisters--Katie and Molly--and documents their weight-loss journey as they work towards a common goal: Size 6.

The blog on pretty much anything: iPod playlists, motivation, squats, fast food, parties, scones , the satan machine and so much more. It's pretty well-known that having a diet/workout buddy is a great motivator and also a great way to stay on track, so I think what these sisters have going on is great.

They also keep us up to date with their progress, which is a big motivator for us, the readers. Also: progress photos! These girls are brave ... and funny.