Thursday, 5 July 2007

Fitness newbies: Tips on getting started

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If you consider yourself a fitness newbie that's a good start -- you can't be new at something unless you're actually getting started, right? Here are some tips to get yourself set up the right way so you make lasting changes you'll stick with for life:
  • Choose a physical activity you really enjoy. If you love to run, then start jogging. If you hate to run, then maybe dancing, swimming, or kickboxing are more your style. If you genuinely enjoy it you'll be so much better at staying with it.
  • Get professional help, at least to get you started. You don't necessarily need a trainer to work with you every day, but having a specifically designed program tailored just for you by a pro is a big help.
  • Slow and steady is best -- don't get started too fast, and be consistent.
  • Build up to higher levels of fitness and adjust your routines as you progress.
  • Expect great things! Think positively and you will reap positive results!

Posh puts the Spice Girls on a diet

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Emaciated-looking Victoria Beckham is gearing up for the upcoming reunion of the Spice Girls ... by putting her fellow bandmates on a diet. Posh Spice, who is concerned about her image in America and therefore wants the group to look tip-top, is telling the other girls--Melanie Chisholm, Emma Bunton, Melanie Brown and Geri Halliwell--that the key to look as 'good' as she does is doing 200 sit-ups a day and subsisting on a diet of Edamame (soy beans), strawberries and lettuce.

All I can say is ... eww! I have never been a fan of the Spice Girls and I'm even less likely to pay attention to them if they all look like Victoria Beckham. I once heard her described as looking like a 'fly on hind legs' and I have to say, I couldn't agree more.

What's your take on the Spice Girls' diet/reunion?

94 die of tainted medicine in Panama

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The ingredient diethylene glycol is making another round in the news this week, as law officials in he nation of Panama have concluded that at least 94 people have died from taking medicine contaminated with that toxic ingredient. In addition to testing showing this number -- which counts deaths from the last year -- more than 293 additional deaths are now under investigation as well.

A Panamanian prosecutor looking at all the cases said that although medicines tainted with the dangerous ingredient were pulled off shelves in October of last year, deaths connected to diethylene glycol poisoning continue to this day.

The common products where the dangerous compound was found sounds like the "who's who" of normal products bought everyday in stores all over the world: cough syrup, calamine lotion and antihistamine tablets. The cause? As suspected, Chinese imports that fraudulently passed off "pure glycerin" that contained toxic amounts of diethylene glycol.

Don't eat these things while driving

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Responsible adults are careful about not driving under the influence of alcohol, and there's even growing awareness of the dangers of cell phones while driving. Here's another hazard to your driving: Food. How many of us are guilty of eating and driving? I definitely am -- sometimes there's just not time to stop, sit down and eat. But this kind of on-the-go eating is dangerous to your waistline (unconscious eating) and to other driver (diverted attention)

Here's a list of the top 10 things you should never, ever eat while driving, according to eDiets:
  • Chocolate: ewww ... can you say melted mess?
  • Soda: It sure is sticky when you spill it ... and you will eventually
  • Cream/Jelly filled donuts: that cream/jelly is going to squirt all over your dashboard sooner or later
  • Fried Chicken: Imagine greasy fingers ... everywhere!
  • Barbecue: BBQ sauce will end up all over your lap
  • Big burgers: Those add-ons are hard to keep track of when you're driving, huh?
  • Chili: Something that requires a spoon takes too much attention from the road ... plus you might burn your mouth
  • Tacos: Tacos are messy at the table. In the car? Disastrous
  • Soup: this even possible?
  • Coffee: This one I am guilty of. If you must drink coffee on the road, save your sips for stop lights.
I know you have some interesting food/car stories to share ....

What exactly does a 2-month supply of medical marijuana look like?

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In Washington state, you're allowed to have a "60 day supply" of marijuana on hand if you're using it for medicinal purposes. But just how much pot is that? No one seems to know. And the answer is important -- as it helps police and lawmakers determine who they need to arrest, and who they should leave alone.

Currently, patients suffering from "intractable pain" and serious diseases (like cancer, AIDS, or multiple sclerosis), can possess and use marijuana without being convicted of drug charges. However, because there's no set limit, officers in the field have no guidance, and are left to arrest everyone -- hoping a judge will later sort out who's guilty and who's not.

On the other hand, any limit on the amount of pot a person has for medicinal purposes is too restrictive for some. They say different patients need varying amounts depending on their illness, and that amount shouldn't be regulated by anyone other than their doctor.

I tend to agree. There are plenty of medications that -- if they hadn't been prescribed by a doctor -- would be illegal to posses or consume (for good reason). But because of the widespread use of marijuana as a recreational drug, it seems there's an urge to treat it differently than other narcotics. When it comes to the drug's medicinal use, why not treat it just like any other prescription?

Nutrition education in the U.S. fails most of the time

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Americans are seeing more and more messages these days about the effects of healthy nutrition on the body. To those that have become informed, the notion of treating your body like a temple is a forgone conclusion.

But, although $1 billion is spent yearly trying to educate the public on healthy nutritional lifestyles, most of that is wasted according to a recent AP review.

It's not hard to see why most of the dancing carrot sticks and celery snack marketing pitches fail -- that $1 billion thrown at education is summarily drowned by the billions of dollars junk food manufacturers spend on promoting sugary and salty products that really are not "food" at all. Think that the government can compete with private industry? Think again.

Increased injuries seen from personal recreational vehicles

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Do you own some land and some ATVs for trawling through the sticks and weeds? If so, great -- it's a pretty fun pastime to engage in. However, make sure you watch your kids if you allow them to participate.

A new round of research has shown that ATVs along with dirt bikes, scooters and go-carts are causing a rising amount of injuries in kids. In other words, motorized or engine-powered recreational vehicles can pose a very real health hazard to many kids.

Accidents of this type have increased from just over 70,000 to over 130,000 from the 1990 to 2003 time period, which probably reflects the sales increases and consumer popularity of these devices more than kids getting hurt at a higher rate. Still, regardless of injury quantities, watching the usage of these vehicles is probably paramount of you have them and kids in close proximity.

Depression medication curbs suicides?

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For the last decade or so, news of depression medications enhancing suicidal thoughts in patients has regularly surfaced in the news. In fact, the school shootings in Colorado were linked to students that may have had suicidal thoughts brought on by medication.

But now, a study that looked at 109,000 patient records shows that suicide attempts actually dropped with people that started receiving treatment using pharmaceutical depression drugs.

The study was performed by a nonprofit group in Seattle, and I'm not sure on the impetus for the results or why the study was completed (at the behest of drug companies?), so I'll reserve a stronger opinion until more research is done. But, these results did look at actual suicides, not "suicidal thoughts."

Sunscreen marketing confuses and confounds

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The marketing of sunscreens in recent years has turned that category of products into something so complex that many customers don't know where to turn. There are acronyms like SPF, UVA, UVB and others, and then there are different levels you have to know about to find the most appropriate product for your circumstances.

A little regular sun exposure is a good thing for internal Vitamin D production, but too much can cause skin cancer along with other problems. How much is too much? That is a hard question to answer for each of us.

But, back to sunscreens -- are terms like "waterproof" and "sweatproof" really that accurate when it comes to sunscreen lasting all day, or are repeated applications needed? I generally do not use sunscreen, but would be interested to know if all the marketing claims used these days on those products work or not.

Woman killed by excessive sunbed use

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At 29-years-old, Zita Farrelly died of skin cancer. But she wasn't at the beach 6 times a week, or outside all summer without ever using sunblock. Ms. Farrely's cancer was due entirely to her excessive use of tanning beds.

From age 14 to 21, the mother of two used sunbeds twice a day -- hundreds and hundreds of times -- then stopped, when she learned of the negative impact tanning could have on her health. It was already too late, however, as last year she found a mole on her leg, which was later diagnosed as melanoma.

Her family is now working to warn others of the dangers of using sunbeds -- hoping to prevent similar tragedies.

Why would anyone need to use Alli?

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Although the first FDA-approved weight loss drug -- Alli -- has been approved and is now being sold at drugstores nationwide, one has to wonder if the drug is required at all. It makes no goofy "weight loss with a pill" claims an d touts that a low-fat diet and nutritional awareness must be used with it for weight loss.

well, if the only product of this drug is blocking is blocking fat from being absorbed in to the body, why would anyone need to take it? If a weight loss prospect is required to modify their diet substantially anyway to ensure Alli provides the most benefit, why not just modify your eating habits to lose weight without needing a fat absorption drug?

If you're already makes large nutritional changes, going further and losing weight by getting fatty items out of your diet costs nothing, right? I'm not sure I see the benefit of a $50 supply of drugs, but if Alli really (and most likely, subjectively) has worked for you, I'd like to hear about it.

Laura Bush tours Africa to support AIDS/HIV programs

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Last week First lady Laura Bush toured through several different nations in Africa in an attempt to draw more attention to the $2.5 million dollar Global Business Coalition and its programs that are helping to fight HIV and AIDS, along with other ailments like malaria. 50% funded by U.S. corporations like Coca Cola, Johnson & Johnson, and the NBA it's just a small part of what the U.S. is doing to help. Congress has allocated as much as $15 billion dollars for fighting diseases abroad, and may as much as double that in upcoming years.

Education and awareness is key, and Americans seem more than willing to help. Laura Bush was quoted as saying "I think all of the programs we'll see that are supported by U.S. taxpayers are a good example of what Americans are really like."

Vitamin D addition to food urged by researcher

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A researcher in Australia thinks that citizens in that country have a chronic Vitamin D deficiency, and truth be told, he's probably right. As such, the Auckland University researcher is begging for the vitamin to be added to most of the food products Australians consume.

Levels of Vitamin D in the blood of Australians need to increase by about 60% or so according to the researcher, and levels in the Pacific Rim region are even worse.

The researcher did state that 90 percent of Vitamin D comes from sunlight, and with cancer campaigns and other public awareness keeping people out of the sun more, the lack of Vitamin D (which is stimulated by UV rays from the sun) is turning into a worsening problem.

Breast milk: It's good for a laugh

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brestfeedingAs the somewhat crazy nursing mom of a two-and-a-half year old, I am obviously a breastfeeding advocate, so any news article about breastfeeding naturally catches my eye.

Since my little guy suffers from food allergies and had eczema as an infant, though, this article really grabbed my attention.

Studies have shown that when a breastfeeding mom laughs before a feeding, allergic reactions to dust mites and latex are less in their infants. Researchers think that higher levels of melatonin in the jolly moms' breast milk accounts for some of the lessened reactions, since melatonin levels are reduced in people with eczema.

OK, now, hold it right there. Owen had eczema as an infant due to his food allergies. I was eating things he was allergic to and we didn't know it, so he got eczema from my breast milk that had the food allergens in it.

Now I know melatonin is associated with relaxation (the article told me so, but I also know it is available in supplement form to help people sleep) and Owen has been an historically bad sleeper.

I am starting to see a connection here. Food allergies, low melatonin levels, eczema, crummy sleeper . . .

I haven't quite put all the pieces together yet about what this means for my family, but I find it all so fascinating.

Anything here hit home for you?

Labels changing on irradiated foods?

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Something to think about when you hit the grocery store looking for healthy food for yourself and your family: do you want irradiated foods? Of course there's people who care and people who don't, and for those who do we're used to relying on food labels to get the information we want. But beware: the irradiation of food may not be clearly represented on food labels in the future as the FDA is considering changing the regulations to allow the word 'pasteurized' to be used to adequately represent the irradiation treatment process.

There's little information on whether irradiated foods are harmful or not, but it's hardly natural and that makes it a bad idea in my book.

Games for your backyard barbecue

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There are not many things I love more than a good summer barbecue, surrounded by friends and family, food and refreshments, fun and laughter. And I was reminded of the good old days of sumer barbecues when I read this post on Fitsugar -- It's a list of fun and easy backyard games, such as:
  • Potato sack races: or pillow cases, in this day and age
  • Egg-spoon relay races: Try not to drop it!
  • Wheel-barrow races: This is a good workout too, if you're the wheel-barrow, that is!
  • Water-balloon tosses: This is an especially good way to cool off on a really hot day
I love water games so one of my favourite backyard activities involved the Slip'n'Slide (also known as a Wet Banana, I think?) How about you?

Pharma companies show chops in the UK

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When the National Health Service in Britain planned to switch patients to lower-cost generic drugs instead of name-brand prescription products, the pharmaceutical industry did not take it lightly.

In fact, British drugmakers are actually suing the Service to ensure those more expensive drugs are continued in terms of doled-out prescriptions. Excuse me? What right do manufacturers have to require any entity to use specific products?

The "potentially unsafe" argument being put forth seems like a smokescreen to protect profits to me. No surprise here, since the markup on name-brand prescription drugs is so high it makes some of us cringe. Well, unless you own the stock of any drugmaker, that is.

Calgary Stampede bans trans fats

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The big news in my neck of the woods is that the Calgary Stampede starts tomorrow -- it's a 10-day long fair of sorts that pretty much takes over the whole city with an array of pancake breakfasts, parties and middle-aged drunk executives in cowboy hats stumbling down the streets as early as noon. One thing that's synonomous with the Stampede is the food -- which is basically all deep-fried, covered in sugar or both, in typical carnival fashion.

But there will be something missing from the fair food this summer: trans fats. Some people are up in arms over it, proclaiming that their mini donuts just won't be the same without trans fats, but to them I say: Pffffft! Everything you eat is still going to be 75% fat, so what does it matter if it's saturated or trans? They're both going to kill you if you eat too much. It's a a healthy step that's intended to help us live better, so what are we complaining about?

What's your take -- can you taste the difference in trans-fat free stuff?

Keep in swimmer's shape with the endless pool

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If swimming's your thing, here's something that might interest you (if you can afford it): The endless pool. The endless pool is kind of like a treadmill for swimmers -- you pick the speed you want to swim at, and the water resistance will keep you from reaching either end of the pool. Water pours in one end, so while it seems like your swimming somewhere, you're actually staying in place. So you can keep swimming to your heart's content -- no more pesky turning around.

The pool is pretty small, so it's not good for pool parties (darn) but it's great if you want to keep in shape. Unfortunately, at over $19,000, I can see myself sticking to the pool at my gym for the time being at least.

(via Fitsugar)

Skin 'folds' in teenage years best predictor for overweightness

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How do we predict obesity? Methods like Body-Mass Index (BMI) and other objective methods are often used, but how about the size of the folds in our skin when you're a teenager?

A new study concluded that the size of those folds during those awkward years is actually a better predictor for being overweight as an adult than other measurements -- like the BMI.

The study suggested that measuring those skin folds should be a "preferred screening tool" for adult obesity. Why not? In the study, it was found that subjects from the ages of 12 to 16 years saw skin fold thickness as a much more accurate predictor of being an overweight adult than the BMI-based ratio of weight to height.