Thursday, 28 June 2007

FitBeauty: Maternity yoga wear for the rockin' mama-to-be

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When I was pregnant (oh gaw, I know, I know, I know, that's easily the 500th post I've written that begins that way and you will only understand why that's acceptable once you've grown a human in your body and then delivered it into the world...but anyway, back to the beauty and style stuff)...

I found a new inspiration in exercising. I wasn't doing it to slim down or stop cellulite in its tracks. I wasn't climbing up on that treadmill next to the weird old guys in plastic sandals at the Y just because swimsuit season was in sight. I wasn't cursing my way through 18 too many squats because the burn was actually good for my booty. I was doing it because (here comes the Susan Powter moment in 3...2...1) I wanted to feel good.

That is, I wanted to work out to feel good until I couldn't see my $50 pedicure with rhinestones, and then I just wanted to take a nap and gorge myself with red meat and McDonald's Ice cream cones. But that's beside the point. By the time the bun-baking was over and the timer on the boy was dinging, I felt like my body was prepared for giving birth. And that felt good, too.

Given all of this, that being pregnant and fit at the same time requires extra energy, more water, more accommodations for your changing body and escalating hormones, and maybe another person to help you get up off of the yoga mat, don't you think it is a good idea to work out in clothes you love?

Don't you think it is worth it to have a cheeky little tank and some super-stretchy but stylin' capris so you don't have to worry about leaving a big old belly print in your favorite pre-pregnancy microfiber tee?

Don't you think if you are going to drag yourself and your zygote to class, you deserve a fun mama-centered outfit or four?

Of course, of course. And while I highly recommend taking full advantage of the Liz Lange for Target activewear, especially when it is calling to you from the clearance rack, I also really think you should consider getting a little RockStarMoms for yourself, too.

RockStarMoms has all kinds of tempting maternity clothing, from halters fashioned from classic concert t-shirts to a convertible dress that will knock your socks off (if only you could bend over to put them on). They also have a line of yoga wear that celebrates your commitment to being healthy without forgetting your sense of humor.

The Buddha Belly set actually encourages the crazy cat hair lady in your yoga class to rub your belly rather than keeping all that goodness hidden away from strangers.

The Mod Set tells it like it is so you can keep quiet during final relaxation. And my absolute favorite, the Floating Baby Set, is the hip mama's "baby on board" sign for this millennium. I know. it is a little science-experimenty but it makes me laugh every single time.

Each yoga set includes a cotton tank and either capris or full-length comfy pants and rings up for just under $50. Considering you know you will wear these clothes almost everyday, that's not so much to put up.

And while you're cruising around the site, I advise stopping by the t-shirt and tanks section where you will find sweet and sassy shirts to stretch out over your pregnancy (and even beyond).

I think the Goddess tee is a must-have, not just as a good prenatal reminder of your body's miraculousness, but also to ride on the post-partum oxytocin wave. Trust a friend, you will be sore and tired and overwhelmed after giving birth, so this might just be the perfect thing to wear when you bring that baby home from the hospital.

There are so many good ones here, be prepared for making tough choices when ordering your pregnancy gear. Don't blame me, though, if you blow a paycheck on maternity t-shirts all in the name of yoga, aerobics or walking the track at the high school. And don't curse me for inviting you to buy the yoga pants you'll probably be wearing two or three years from now as the adorable little maternity get-up becomes the inevitable mommy uniform. Not to worry. As long as it makes you feel good, it's so worth it.

Daily Fit Tip: Mix up your cardio

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Even the most motivated of exercisers can't help but get bored with the same routine day in, day out. I know -- for years, I spent almost all my gym time doing the same cardio workout : a 10-minute warm-up on the StairMaster at level 4, 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer at level 7, 20 minutes on the bike at level 8 and some weights thrown in there if I was feeling energetic. Not only was my cardio routine ineffective, it was boring and not at all challenging.

In order to keep up with your routine, you have to mix it up. eDiets has these suggestions: Try interval training (alternating super-challenging with rest periods), endurance training (a low to moderate level of activity) or one of their other cardio suggestions. You'll burn extra calories and you'll give yourself more of a challenge.

5 steps to great skin all over

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It seems like when most people think of skin care they think of the skin on their face and nowhere else, but dull dry skin or even oily breakouts can happen all kinds of other places too. Whole body skincare is a year-round job, but this is the season when your efforts really pay off in shorts, tank tops, and swimsuits. WebMD has a 5 point "summer skin makeover" that has some great advice we should all be doing:
  • Exfoliate to get rid of dry, dull skin
  • Moisturize to keep skin hydrated
  • Use sunscreen (and use enough)
  • Shave away unwanted hair
  • Take care of your feet

Budget fitness: Eating healthy on $7 a day

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If you're like a lot of health-conscious people on a budget (for instance: this blogger), then you don't always vibe with the health food aisle at the grocery store. And it doesn't help that some of those organic products are not even legitimate! So what are the rest of us to do?

Here is an interesting take on cheap foods that are actually good for you. Leading the way is whole wheat pasta that can be used for anything (serve with vegetables or go with the classic tomato purée). At $2 a pound, it's hard not to agree with such a bargain. Any kind of nut or seed is also a winner. From flax and almonds to cashews, this stuff usually goes for under $4 or $5 and lasts as long as you can stretch them. Don't forget that the health benefits of such foods are undeniable (soy nuts can even help with blood pressure).

Eggs also rank pretty high up on the list of great foods any way you look at them. They're relatively cheap, packed with nutrients and are a great source of protein. Frugal health enthusiasts are no stranger to the incredible edible egg. Check out the site here for more suggestions. Some of these items are actually organic, but look for them in bulk to get the best deals. You may have some budget food suggestions of your own! Hopefully this list can spark some ideas for eating healthier and cheaper.

Why are fast food chains refusing to put calories on the menu?

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All the drama from New York City's recent regulation requiring fast food restaurants to post calorie counts on menus is about to come to a head as the deadline, this Sunday, approaches. Burger King, McDonalds, and Wendy's are all openly planning to defy the order and will not be making any changes to their menus anytime soon. And due to a pending lawsuit by the New York Restaurant Association the city won't be handing out any fines until at least October, if the new law is still standing by then.

In the meantime fast food chains say it's not that they don't want consumers to know calorie counts (many of them make the information available voluntarily anyway), but they say that putting them on the menu in print as big as the price would make for a messy, hard to read display that would look like "a bad day at the eye doctor's office."

What do you think? I like the idea of easily accessible calorie information, but I don't know that it needs to be in huge print right on the menu board.

Antidepressant use found to cause small risk of birth defects

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If you were pregnant while taking antidepressants, a new study shows that your child has a very small chance of being born with birth defects. This news is sure to be reassuring to many moms, but still points possible issues during pregnancy.

Pregnant would-be moms who are depressed need some way to deal with their condition, but at the same time, use of many popular antidepressants had recently shown to contribute to possible birth defects. Although this study puts a little of the unrest to bed, note than the study said that antidepressants "do not" remove the possibility for birth defects -- it only gets smaller.

So, are you ready to take the risk? There are two studies connected with this story that are reporting the same findings, so even though the risk is small, you need to be prepared, right?

Help keep your pets fit this summer

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Now that it is officially summer, I'm sure that many of you out there are making sure to take the proper precautions when you head outdoors to enjoy the beautiful weather. You've likely got lots of sunscreen to protect your skin and water to stay hydrated, and you've probably got nausea medicine for car and plane rides. So you and your family are all set to have fun and stay safe this summer but what about your pets?

Many of the same measures that we take to look after ourselves in the summer need to be considered when dealing with pets. Heat stroke, parasites, poisonous plants and noisy thunderstorms are only a few of the things that could harm your dog, cat, rabbit, bird or other furry, feathered or even scaled animal companion. In order to make sure that your pet makes it through the summer happy and healthy, check out this site that offers advice on how to prevent and look out for a number of ailments that could effect your animal at this time of year.

Breast ultrasound may spare some women surgery

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When a woman finds a lump in her breast, it's always worrisome, even though most lumps are benign. A radiologist can usually tell through mammogram whether the lump is a cyst or solid, and often may use ultrasound as well to get a clearer picture of what is going on. Even so, many times when a lump is deemed "probably benign," surgery is schedule anyway just to be safe.

New research, however, finds that if a lump has certain characteristics -- oval in shape, circumscribed margins, and solid, to name a few -- it may be just as safe to use ultrasound alone. Out of 445 women with breast lumps of this type were followed for over three years, and only one was diagnosed with cancer.

Many women feel better having the lumps removed and knowing with certainty that they are benign, but others may prefer to not undergo the invasive procedure. This study appears to open up choices for treatment of benign breast lumps for women.

Who has the fastest Emergency Rooms nationwide?

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Emergency rooms, despite their name or intended purpose, do not generally have a reputation of being an "in and out" kind of place. Long waits and slow care seem to be more common than not, for all kinds of different reasons. A study recently looked into how long it takes patients to get the care they need in ER settings nationwide and ranked all 50 states in terms of who had the fastest service.

Iowa came out on top with an average ER check-in to check-out time of 2 hours 18 minutes, which is well below the national average of 3 hours 42 minutes. Nebraska, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin round out the top 5, with Arizona, Maryland, Utah, New York, and Florida bringing up the rear of the list with the longest times -- having an emergency in Florida could take almost 4 hours!

Summer is here: 42 ways to improve your exercise routine

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work outAh, summer. The carefree, lazy days can somehow become tainted when we realize we will need to wear bathing suits, short shorts and fitted tank tops.

These exercise hacks make taking your summer workout to the next level a piece of cake. Simple ideas like scheduling your workouts as if they are appointments and setting a 30-day challenge for yourself spoke to me.

Other ideas which may appeal to you are joining an online group (to me, takes up the time I need to spend working out!) and getting a workout buddy (I am a solitary exerciser).

Other motivators? Take before and after photos of yourself, save the diet until the workout is habit and make yourself a star chart.

A star chart? I wouldn't even use one of those for my students when I was teaching, as fostering intrinsic motivation is the key to success in my opinion. Since we are not trained seals that perform for fishy treats, why not set some goals, reach them successfully and then bask in the inner glow of success. Skip the stars.

Mostly, these are fun hacks that just may give you that oomph to start off your summer workouts right.

Determining sexual orientation by observing walking

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Can a person's gait help other determine his or her sexual orientation? A Northwestern master's degree student thinks so, as she's trying to get through whether homosexuality is chosen or genetically predisposed -- or perhaps a combination of both.

A recent poll from CNN showed the majority of respondents thought that sexual orientation could not be changed once "established." In scientific circles, scientists and psychologists continue to grapple with the "nature versus nurture" argument on the basis of how someone becomes a homosexual.

What will this result in? Regardless of how people choose or are predisposed to homosexuality, I'm not sure I understand what the outcome to such rigorous debate is supposed to be. Life is too short to worry about such things. Well, to some people, anyway.

Mmm Melons: Recipes for summer's favorite fruit

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There's been a lot of talk on this site lately about all of the wonderful things that come along with summer. Holidays, warm weather, extended daylight hours, that fantastic relaxed attitude and, of course, all of the great recipes that only come together with the help of all of the fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season.

Possibly my absolute favorite of these fruits are ripe and delicious watermelons, honeydews and cantaloupes. All of these make a tasty snack or dessert all on their own. But the folks at Oprah's lifestyle magazine O have put together a few fairly easy recipes that utilize these juicy and healthy fruits.

The first one I want to try is the Spicy Skewered Shrimp with Grilled Watermelon. Maybe I'll enjoy it with a Melon High-Baller to drink and follow the meal with Cantaloupe and Citrus Pops. My mouth is watering just thinking about it to be honest. If you'd like to try these or some of the other melon-tastic recipes on offer, this is where you'll find them.

Get a beautiful bum, once and for all!

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Your gluteous maximus, a.k.a. your butt, is one of the biggest muscles in your body and also one of the most visible, so it's no wonder we all try so hard to firm it up and avoid that 'gelatinous jiggle' we all fear like the plague. But what many of the bum-firming workouts you've tried in the past might have failed to address is all the surrounding support muscles -- your backside may be big but it doesn't work alone!

Women's Health has compiled a 2 phase exercise plan that will surely whip your 'b-side' into shape by not only attacking the jiggles directly, but by strengthening some of the 'support staff' as well.

Stem cells created from unfertilized eggs

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As the debate for and against the use of embryonic stem cells continues unabated, some scientists now say that the possibility of embryonic stem cells created from unfertilized eggs may be a possibility.

If this becomes true, then those who opposed embryonic stem cell research on the grounds of a fertilized egg being destroyed may not have a solid argument any longer. Whatever your personal stance may be, would the possibility of embryonic stem cell research being performed without destroying fertilized embryos be against your beliefs?

I'm curious to hear from our readers here -- what do you think? This could lead to cloned body parts later according to the report -- but is that heading in the right direction?