Thursday, 12 July 2007

iPods and thunderstorms

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Health experts have recently put out a warning telling people not to use their iPods, cell phones, or other electrical equipment while outside in a thunderstorm. This seems like a redundant warning, since you aren't supposed to be out in a thunderstorm anyway.

The warning comes after a man, who was jogging in a thunderstorm while listening to his iPod, suffered severe injuries after a tree near him was hit by lightening. The electrical equipment, in combination with the sweat on his face and head, conducted the current through his skull, breaking his jaw and shattering both of his eardrums.

So if you get caught out in a storm, take a moment to turn off and put your personal devices away, and then get thy self to some shelter. In case you need a refresher course, here are the rules of thunderstorm safety.

'Fat Tax' could save over 3,000 British lives annually

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A study published this week concluded that thousands of lives could be saved annually if a "fat tax" was implemented on salty, sugary and fatty foods. Sounds like a potential powder keg to me. The premise is sound, but this will never happen, ever. the study was based in Britain, but you never know -- something like this could be proposed in the U.S.

Would the millions of obese citizens in America be prepared to pay additional money for junky and unhealthy foods while citizens eating healthy foods receive a free pass? I can't begin to imagine the furor a proposal like this could cause.

The biggest hurdle would be the junk food manufacturers (hundreds of companies representing billions of sales dollars), who would muscle in and quash any attempt to pass a law related to a fat tax. It would be fun to watch, actually.

Taking a look at the 'Diet Coffee' company

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Many beverages these days are seeking additional marketing angles to the health-conscious. The addition of vitamins and minerals to sugary soft drinks is quite a disgusting sight really, but there are other alternatives if you must get those daily nutrients from beverages. How about "diet coffee?"

I' had never heard of 'Diet Coffee, Inc.' before a few weeks ago and started looking at what the company offered. Basically, the product looks like standard Arabica coffee with added components that promote appetite suppression and weight loss.

Sounds fair enough, since coffee is fat free and has next to no calories. Adding in components that promote healthy weight loss seems so natural that it's surprising this company is not as well-known as it is. I've ordered some -- we'll see how it tastes soon.

What to do when your child is stressed

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Kids are under more stress than many parents probably realize. The times have developed into more broken homes, more bullies and violence at school, more media pressure to something you're not and many other things. What can parents do to try and give back playful, non-stress innocence to their children?

Kids will have stress no matter what, but minimizing the effects of it and teaching kids how to have healthy outlets for it is probably needed now more than ever.

From what I have seen, writing things down is a great step for many kids. For boys, it's a journal. For girls, a diary. Sure, there are other stress outlets that work as well. Writing feelings down though, helps life all that weight.

Paul McCartney wants us to stop eating meat -- ALL of us

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A vegetarian lifestyle will help with the global warming problem, according to Paul McCartney, who says that "Livestock farming is one of the biggest destroyers of the planet ... When you see the Amazon being cut down for hamburger cattle, that's pretty obvious." So he wants us to all go veggie, which I think is a great idea, although at the moment the thought of giving up chicken wings for good is enough to send me into a mini-panic attack. But I think he's right, and if we could all put aside our meat cravings, our planet would be healthier.

Paul McCartney has been using his star-power to better the earth for some time now, and I think that he's done a lot of good.

What do you think of Sir Paul and his environmental crusading?

Just what is Reiki?

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Are you curious about alternative therapies? If so, you might be interested in Reiki therapy, which is making a name for itself as a complementary medicine. Patients who receive Reiki after surgery have been found to recover more quickly, and Reiki has also been said to relieve the side effects of chemo. In addition, Reiki seems to ease anxiety and depression as well.

Created 100 years ago in Japan, the therapy focuses on managing "universal life energy" through massage and other techniques. Want to learn more? Check out this article on Reiki from eDiets.

Whole Foods CEO caught in scandal

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With Whole Foods in the process of buying competitor Wild Oats for more than half a billion bucks, it was quite distressing to see that the CEO of Whole Foods has been accused of being a finance forum lurker who used to routinely trash the company his is now buying.

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey is under investigation from the FTC for these practices, which will be examined in close detail very soon most likely. Why would a CEO trash a competitor while disguising himself? For stock profits? For some other financial reason?

This is an odd story, and since I buy quite a few things from Whole Foods these days, it's shameful to see the leader of this natural foods chain engage in such activity. More to come (I am sure).

Jessica Simpson loves her curves. But that doesn't mean surgery's out of the question.

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I have to admit that I am very torn on the issue of cosmetic surgery. It saddens me when people use surgery to conform their bodies into a ridiculously prescribed (and almost always impossible) beauty standard or to solve some big, welled up emotional issue that's lodged itself in their lives for years.

And yet, if a nose job or bigger boobs will make someone feel better about how they walk in the world, then that's hard for me to argue against.

One thing that makes me crazy about all this cosmetic surgery business, though, is when celebrities look staggeringly different and still deny they've had any work done. I'm giving Jessica Simpson some credit today for not being one of those stars. In a recent People interview, Simpson said she'd consider having "maintenance" work done on her body after having children. For now, though, she says she's content with the body she's in.

Simpson's working hard on that body the old fashioned way -- with a trainer -- as she prepares for an upcoming movie role as a Marine recruit (oh la la, I am pretty sure the acting part of Jessica Simpson I will never ever grow to love). Just as lovely as getting fit healthfully, Simpson's cheering for curvy bodies over the extreme thinness rampant among Hollywood's women.

"Curves are better," Simpson also said in her interview. "I don't get the whole rail thing. It's not good for your heart, it's not good for your mind; it's emotionally destructive, it really is."

And while clearly every body is different, I do agree with Jess here that, cosmetic surgery or not, being healthy is far more attractive than just being thin.



Daily Fit Tip: Shop!

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I've gone to the gym every day this week. I usually work out quite a bit, but for me, quite a bit is 3 or 4 times a week. Wanna know my secret? It's pretty simple -- I went shopping.

I noticed that when lifted weight, my usual workout tops were riding up and exposing my muffin top (ahhh! the shame!) So I set out on a mission to find a few good workout tops. I ended up with a sports bra from Old Navy and a whole bunch of cute tank tops from various other stores. I only spent about $40 and I couldn't wait to try each of my new outfits out. So while I know the new-clothes excitement can't last forever, I'll take any motivation I can get to go the the gym every day. And it feels good to feel like you look good.
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FitBeauty: Workout wear for the wee one?

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So now that you're all suited in up in your athletically chic maternity gear, your attention is very likely resting on the baby-to-be. You're probably wondering something like, "I'll be adorable and comfortable at Mommy & Me Yoga, but what in the world will the baby wear?"

And what in the world will all the other mommies on mats think when your newborn's wearing his everyday elastic-waist pants and pure organic soft cotton t-shirt rather than a designated set just for sweating (you) and spitting up (him) you'll be doing? All those onesies your mother-in-law gave you with appliques of bears in hot air balloons and all those miniature corduroys and camos you couldn't resist at the Gap might be fine for hanging out in the bouncy seat or bassinet, but clearly, they will just no do for early-intervention yoga, meditation and Pilates. Right? Right.

Scoffing at the cost of purchasing yoga wear for your baby? Think of all the child posing this kid's going to do over the years. Plus, think how well she'll fit in at the Montessori meet and greet and booth cruising at the farmer's market! Worth it, right? Right.

As much as I may kid, I really do think there is some adorable (and possibly, must-have) yoga clothing out there kids (especially the bitty kind). If you're a yogi mommy or just want to be, then dressing your beautiful baby in an om-inspired onesie might be more than adorable, it might be a sweet wish for your child's health, centeredness and spirit.

From funny to faith-filled, here are five of my favorite teensy yoga tops for your tot:



There are very few sweeter parenting moments than when your baby lets out her first belly laugh. That's immediately what I thought of when I saw this adorable homage to Hotei, the Laughing Buddha. This one-piece is made by OMGirl, is 100% cotton and comes in a full slate of colors for $22.



If your baby girl's already started showing signs of yoga practice prowess or simply stops squawking in lotus position, this is the perfect set for her! The tee is $13.95 and the messenger bag is $22.95 and will look great when you tote her off to class.


Listen, kid, if you can hammer out The Hundred, more power to you! You should be telling the world on your t-shirt (especially since you can't talk yet). This one's made of that delicious combed spun cotton that's so soft. It comes in many more colors than blah-blah pink and blue and runs $17 per tee.



This onesie's emblazoned with the Hindu goddess Lakshmi, considered the Mother of the Universe and symbolizing wealth, light and wisdom. I love when a little old t-shirt holds so much meaning. Also by OMGirl, it is $22 with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the UN Refugee Agency.



This "upward dog" creeper is so cute, I'm seriously wondering if it is wrong to have another child just to amass armoires full of eensy clothes again. I love the simple, sweet designs by Lotus Children. To me, they just embody the spirit of yoga, right there on that precious round baby tummy. This tee is $28 and the design also comes in an "omsie" for $24.



If you must cover up those lovely little chubbers thighs for class, pair any of these tees with soft and comfortable leggings (I personally adore Zutano for their supple and durable cotton in funky prints, about $12) or this cute yoga skort ($3.99, seriously!?).

Whether you actually make it to class or turn the fit mommy DVD on or just breathe deeply in the comfort of your om sweet om, enjoy the snuggling up with your own precious little yoga practitioner!

Checking out the awesome "WiiFit" from Nintendo

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The Nintendo Wii gaming system continues to impress me. Not only does the game system cost much less than the competition, it encourages physical motion and interactivity in such a way that the sedentary gamer image may have a chance of being shed in some part.

There are a few great games that I have seen that require a Wii player to get up and "swat balls" at a virtual tennis court or otherwise physically engage with a game in a way that encourages physical activity. In an age of junk food and hours in front of a television for many youngsters, this is a very welcome breath of fresh air.

One of the newer Nintendo Wii games excites me even more. The "WiiFit" arrangement can make that treadmill and exercise equipment that just won't fit in the confined living spaces many of us live in not needed. The image gallery over at Nintendo Wii Fanboy impressed me -- so much that I'll be checking it out soon in person. Talk about a very innovative way to get your exercise without the space requirements of larger machines. Way to go, Nintendo!

Is stress the reason Calista's so skinny?

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She's famous for playing TV icon Ally McBeal, but possibly more famous for something else: being shockingly thin. But while the media is quick to label celebrities as anorexic or bulimic, Calista insists it was all just down to the stress of being one of TVs biggest stars. Plus, the hectic work schedule didn't help either, and she admits now that she didn't eat as much as she should've. But here's the thing: Ally McBeal was over years ago, and she's still really thin. I know she's working on Brothers and Sisters now, but she obviously hasn't learned her lesson.

Does this ever happen to you -- you get so busy that you just don't eat? I sometimes put off eating to work, but I could never not eat -- my stomach wouldn't let me and I'd end up being completely unproductive.

Tai chi teaches robots to be less clumsy

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Imagine leaving for work in the morning knowing all of your household chores would be done by the time you got home...by your robot. It's probably too much to wish for, but some scientists think it's possible to create robots that help humans in a variety of different ways. The problem, however, is that robots don't move smoothly like humans do. Roomba, a popular floor cleaning robot, works because it has no appendages and because it has only one job -- vacuuming the floor. If robots could be trained to move in a more efficient way, then they could be built to be more useful to humans.

One roboticist is turning to Tai Chi to help his robots. By observing a Tai Chi master do various movements that minimize effort, the roboticist has been able to develop computer models to help his virtual robot (the robot still "lives" in the computer) to make more simpler movements with less computations.

Tai Chi may or may not be good for robots, but it is good for you. Learn more about it here.

Moore defends facts used in 'Sicko' film

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If you have not seen Sicko, you'll be in for some torn messages. Like any film that purports to be a "documentary," the usage of certain facts while the dismissal of others tends one to believe that any agenda on anything can be forwarded these days.

Such is the case with Sicko, according to critics who say that filmmaker Michael Moore used selective data in his film to prove a point and did not put forth all relevant facts when making points about the state of the American health care system. One things critics and supporters of the film agree on is that there are indeed large problems with the health care system in the U.S. But, how big?

If you end up seeing Sicko, you need to search for your own answers like with anything. I'm quite sure much of what is presented in the film is somewhat to highly accurate. But, not reporting all the facts or opposing viewpoints is just as bad as slanting viewpoints in any particular way, right?

Eva Longoria's wedding workout

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Eva Longoria looks great to begin with, but I guess every bride wants to look her absolute best on her wedding day, so she turned to Hollywood trainer Patrick Murphy to sculpt her body to perfection before becoming Mrs. Tony Parker over the weekend.

If you're planning a wedding (or just want to get ultra-fit) and want to know what workouts Eva did to look her best, you're in luck -- Access Hollywood has the scoop on Eva's bridal bootcamp workout. The secret? Super sets -- meaning she upped the reps to 20 per set. To see the workout, click here.

What did you do to get ready for your big day?

Millions in equipment missing from CDC

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It's really not news when equipment suddenly and mysteriously goes absent at federal agencies. But, when tens of millions of dollars worth of stuff vanishes, some very scrutinizing eyes need to take a look. This is what the CDC is reporting, as some $22 million worth of equipment somehow is "missing."

An official audit of the property management procedures was requested in June from a U.S. congressional oversight committee, which should only be the start I would think. Regardless of how you cut it, $22 million in computers and equipment is more than will fit in some employee's pocket -- it's way more.

With taxpayers footing the bill for all this equipment (and the federal government in general), what do we make of this? Calling this situation come kind of "public looting" seems like an understatement. How often is the CDC audited? In perfect fashion, the last one was in 1995 -- over a decade ago. No big deal here I guess, as it's only the agency tasked with infectious and deadly disease control here in the U.S. (twiddles thumbs nervously).

Eight healthy summertime drinks

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Though last week's extreme heat wave seems to have broken, it's still pretty hot out there. Keeping yourself hydrated in summer weather is very important. Water may be the best thing you can drink for your health, but this article from Fitness Magazine lists 8 other beverages that can offer other health benefits while contributing to your daily fluid intake. They include:
  • green tea
  • mint tea
  • low-fat milk
  • soy milk
  • hot chocolate
  • low sodium tomato juice
  • cranberry juice
  • orange juice
What do you think about this list? I think there are some semi-controversial drinks there -- including milk (some people are allergic), hot chocolate (packaged brands may include additives), and soy milk -- that some people may argue don't qualify as one of "the healthiest" drinks or may have concerns about. Everything in moderation, right? Read the full article here, then come back and tell us what you think!

Jennifer Garner uses the weights -- you should too!

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The baby weight's gone and now Jennifer Garner is buffing up for a new movie by using the weight machines at the gym, according to these photos on Fitsugar. As the Fitsugar people point out, it's nice to see a celebrity that actually tried to tone their body rather than letting themselves shrink to skeletal proportions.

Jen's got the right idea -- the best way to get a hot bod is through resistance training. Sure, cardio will melt the fat, but using weights will increase your metabolism and will make those problem areas look great. If you're still hesitant to use the weights, check out these great tips that Tanya posted a few weeks ago.

What's keeping you from the weights at your gym?

Overweight kids face social stigma

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Do fat kids have it easy? Far from it, and overweight youngsters experience extreme bias from schoolmates, teachers, friends and even parents. A new analysis of the situation even says that overweight kids have a quality of life comparable to cancer patients based on all the stigma they face form people.

Are suicidal thoughts and extreme depression a result of all the constant nagging and teasing overweight and obese kids receive? In many cases, yes. Add high blood pressure and eating disorders that spin out of control due to existing depression and the cycle gets nasty very fast.

People are people, regardless of race, gender, religion, weight, etc. -- but it's human nature to make fun of or chastise those not like ourselves. Why that is I am not sure, but recognizing that and putting it aside is one of the better things any human can do.

Lycopene, tomatoes don't prevent cancer after all

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Recently, the FDA concluded that tomatoes, which are rich in the antioxidant lycopene, don't appear to prevent cancer after all, at least in their opinion. Some studies had linked lycopene to a reduced risk of prostate, colon, and breast cancers, but after a review of 107 studies, the agency says that it can't find enough evidence to definitively say that lycopene prevents disease.

The American Cancer Society barely blinked at the news, saying that they stay away from recommending any one food for the prevention of disease. Instead, they recommend people eat a diet rich in fresh produce and encourage people to eat a variety of richly colored vegetables. Not only is a diet rich in fruits and vegetables linked to a lower risk of cancer, it can also help to prevent weight gain which is tied to a higher risk of several diseases.

No one is giving up on the good old tomato. Health experts say that lycopene may indeed have a role in preventing cancer, and that future studies may provide more definitive evidence. In addition to lycopene, tomatoes are a great source of vitamins C, A, and B6, as well as niacin, folate, and potassium.

Electronic medical records not always tied to better care

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In an age where almost all personal information is now somewhere in electronic form, one would think that the efficiency created by having instant, global access to this type of information would be revolutionary. Well, except for the medical industry.

According to a new study, it was concluded that a better level of medical care was not necessarily attached to the presence of medical records that were kept electronically.

Now, direct medical care should not be tied by record-keeping in a way, but the availability and timeliness of patient records most likely does make everything from patient care to surgical procedures better handled with a minimization of mistakes. Maybe not.