Friday, 13 July 2007

Is Britain banning runway models under 16?

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The British fashion industry is raising awareness of a controversial subject: Young girls in the modelling industry. An inquiry is going on that is calling into question how appropriate it is for girls under 16 to be walking the catwalk, posing as adults. The inquiry has also called for greater protection of models between the ages of 17 and 18. This is in response to startling evidence that the fashion industry has received regarding the prevalence of eating disorders in young models, as well as their vulnerability in an industry that sexualizes them as if they were adults.

I think it's about time. If they can't put a minimum limit on how much a model should weigh, they should at least keep young women who are susceptible to the pressures of the industry away from the limelight.

What are your thoughts?

Returning from vacation? Learn how to lower the stress of re-entry

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With two kids and a dog, planning a vacation can be a little tricky. Though I have the packing and organizing part down to a science, "re-entry" is still a little difficult. My careful packing into separate little bags for all our different needs comes home a jumbled mess, and the kids are tired, under-slept, and fed up with riding in their car seats. Though we usually roll back in exhausted, I've learned two things that make returning to real life more simple -- always clean the house before leaving so you don't come home to a mess and unpack the day you come home, before letting your head hit the pillow.

WebMD has some more tips about returning to your routine after vacation winds down. If you have a trip coming up, take a few minutes to read them over to avoid unneeded stress as you adjust back to "real life."

Does eating fat make you fat?

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There's a common misconception that fat is the source of all nutritional woes. eDiets has set the record straight by asserting that fat does not instantly become converted to fat, nor does it automatically coat the inside of your arteries. Fat even has important nutrients, like Omega-3s, so it's important to incorporate some healthy fats, like olive oil, into your diet.

This isn't a green light to go fat-crazy and consume all the fatty foods you can find, however. Some fats -- trans fats and saturated fats -- should never be consumed, and the healthy fats should be consumed in moderation, because they're still high in calories.

Backyard Barbecue: make it guilt-free

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Barbecuing is one of the great things about summer. But as I mentioned in this post, all that fatty meat can be a recipe for disaster. So what can you do to make your backyard barbecue healthy and fun for the whole family? Well, we've written a lot on summer barbecues -- there's these suggestions from our own Jessica, these ideas for games, and then there's this article from Glee Magazine, which lists some suggestions for your summer backyard barbecues:
  • Have veggie burgers instead of beef burgers
  • Replace soy chips with potato chips
  • Enjoy a fruit-based dessert instead of s'mores
They also suggest using vegan cheese instead of regular cheese, but being a die-hard cheese fan, I can't advocate that. After all you need to have some fun at the barbecue, right?

Another thing I love at barbecues is fresh veggies cooked on the grill. What about you?

Baby born drunk

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Despite the mountains of medical evidence saying you should severely limit -- if not entirely eliminate -- alcohol intake during pregnancy, some people are still stupid enough to drink.

One Polish mother not only drank throughout her pregnancy, but arrived drunk at the hospital when she came in to give birth. When her baby was born, doctors found his blood alcohol level to be 6 times the legal limit, meaning he will almost certainly suffer permanent brain damage.

While this kind of news is shocking, recent government surveys have shown that about 13% of US women drink during their pregnancy -- with 3% routinely binge drinking. This behavior almost guarantees that your child will be born with some kind of birth defect, but it's also important to note that even moderate or light drinking has never been proven safe.

To learn more about the effects of drinking alcohol during pregnancy, visit this helpful site from the March of Dimes.

Is Friday the 13th bad for you?

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Friday the 13th is -- by far -- the most infamous date on the calendar. For many it's a day that symbolizes bad luck -- just like black cats, walking under ladders, or breaking a mirror. Subsequently, many researchers have searched for a correlation between this date and increased health risk -- but, as of yet, haven't found anything.

Regardless, some people still live in fear of Friday the 13th. Technically called paraskavedekatriaphobia, this fear (just like any other phobia) can have significant side effects. Those who suffer from it experience increased panic and anxiety -- so much so that it keeps them from going about their day to day activities.

So, essentially, the 13th is bad for these people, but only because their fear of it leads them to create their own misfortune.

That said, because an estimated 17 million people refuse to travel or conduct business on this day, it's estimated that $800 million is lost every time it occurs.

Girl taken from parents because she was too fat

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Childhood obesity is becoming an increasingly serious problem in the UK, and the government is trying everything they can to fight against it. While, in some cases, their new policies appear to be effective, a recent decision has caused considerable controversy.

An 8-year-old girl, who is 5ft tall, and already a size 16 UK (size 14 US -- 6 sizes larger than the average for girls her age), has been deemed so unfit that the government decided to take her into state custody.

The girl's parents are obviously distraught. While acknowledging that their daughter is "chubby," they also claim she's "always out playing," and that she "doesn't overeat."

While this doesn't happen often, it's becoming more common for the state to take obese children into care.

This raises interesting questions about our perception of obesity. Who's at fault? How obese is too obese? Does this mean it's the same as child abuse or neglect?

New Surgeon General pick sees opposition

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Dr. James Holsiner, the second U.S. Surgeon General appointed by President George W. Bush, is seeing harsh opposition from a leading public health group as of this week.

The American Public Health Association (APHA) is "very concerned with Dr. Holsinger's past writings regarding his views of homosexuality, which put his political and religious ideology before established medical science." In other words, the conservatism and/or anti-gay past related to sexuality in regards to Dr. Holsinger is under the microscope.

It's the first time in 26 years the the APHA has opposed a Surgeon General nominee. Former Surgeon General Richard Carmona's (picture to the right) words about the Bush Administration's manhandling of his tenure just added fuel to the fire.

Fuel your workout with a snack

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Do you work out on an empty stomach? I try not to because I feel lethargic -- plus the loud grumbling in my stomach must be distracting to the other members. But it's a good idea to get a pre-workout snack, say eDiets. It doesn't have to be anything big -- a few complex cards should do, like a piece of fruit or some crackers or toast.

Eating after your workout is important too, particularly if you do strength training. Again, carbs are key, but this time, add a bit of protein. A turkey sandwich is a prime example.

What do you eat to keep your energy up?

Cellubike: Banish cellulite while you work out

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Looking at this apparatus, you're probably thinking it's some bizarre new technology, maybe an at-home CAT scan machine? The sensationalistic multi-coloured lighting makes it seem out of this world, like a time machine. But what is it really? It's an exercise bike.

But it's not just any exercise bike -- It's a Cellubike. It uses infrared light to zap your cellulite while you peddle. And in just 15 40-minute sessions, you can be cellulite free, according to the website. I couldn't find any mention of the costs though, which is usually a bad sign.

I hate cellulite as much as the next person, but I have serious doubts about the cellubike. Am I just being a skeptic? Have you tried it?

Balance Board: A nifty Wii accessory

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News about Nintendo's WiiFit has got us all excited here over at that's fit, and I wanted to mention something about their accessory, the Balance Board. It's a controller that's shaped like your bathroom scale. It works by detecting your motion when you stand on it, and you can use it to do yoga and other workouts, including dance and hula hooping. You can also use it to track your weight. Actually, maybe you should watch the video on Fitsugar -- it's much better at explaining it than I could.

I'm so excited to see video games the have managed to integrate physical activity. How about you?

Maybe sugar's only half bad -- the Fructose half

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How much do you know about sugar? I consider myself somewhat of an expert in the field of eating sugar (particularly in chocolate form) but admittedly, I don't know that much about it.

What we know as sugar is actually comprised of two sweeteners: Glucose and Fructose. Glucose is the fuel that your body runs on, so in a way, it's good for you. Fructose, on the other hand, is the dark side of sugar, so to speak. As WebMD points out, in a study using volunteers, half of which consumed Glucose-sweetened drinks and half of which consumed fructose-sweetened drinks, the Fructose drinkers were shown to be at greater risk for heart disease than the glucose-drinkers. However, people in both groups gained about the same amount of weight, so it goes to show that any sort of sugar is bad for those trying to lose weight.

I wonder -- can you purchase glucose-only sugars? Or does it always come with Fructose?

Daily Fit Tip: Stop gaining weight

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It's one thing not to be actively trying to lose weight, but that's when it seems we inadvertently start gaining weight. Pound by pound it comes creeping on, and whether it's regaining pounds that were previously lost or just slowly getting heavier as part of aging it doesn't have to happen that way. Bad habits that may seem harmless, like skipping breakfast, eating irregular meals, and helping your kids finish their plates can do slow damage to your waistline over time. Read this article to get the low down on more bad habits that you may not realize you're doing, and some helpful tips on things you can do to battle the ever-growing bulge like switching to 100% fruit juices (instead of those with added sugar) and ordering broth based soups when eating out (instead of thicker creamier ones).

Fit Factor: The Films that inspire us to get moving

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Rigel did a post a while back on the the 300 Workout -- a workout regime that's based on the popular movie. It got me thinking -- we're always trying to steal celebrity workout secrets, so why isn't there more talk of using movies for inspiration to get active? I know that when I see a movie with a particularly ripped female lead who is doing a lot of ass-kicking (literally or figuratively) it inspires me to get my butt to the gym and start toning up.

So this week, I'm compiling a list of inspirational movie characters who I've found inspiration from workout-wise. Here it is:

Continue reading Fit Factor: The Films that inspire us to get moving

Working in the Workouts: It's in the details

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owen and mommyEach week, Debbie will share her goals, challenges, successes and tips on how to fit in fitness when caring for a rambunctious toddler.

Last week, I wrote about making every moment count when you are exercising, and not just trying to get through your workout. In that spirit, I have been thinking about ways to re-motivate with this in mind.

I've come up with a few things I have been trying that really make my workouts go that extra mile. They aren't huge things, but small things that allow me to challenge myself and help me focus on maximizing every exercise.


  • Hold the last leg lift as long as you can, then raise higher and do the same, then a third time.
  • I run a little more each time I do a walking workout. I've started wearing my digital watch again when I exercise and I use it to focus my walking. Now I time how long I run within my walks and try to make the time longer with each jaunt. Or sometimes I just make more running intervals.
  • When I am holding Boat Pose, I challenge myself to hold it for five seconds longer than I think I possibly could, and then two more seconds. Yowza!
What helps challenge you to always do your best while working out?
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51 ways to save the environment

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If last week's Independence Day celebrations left you feeling patriotic, then consider this: What better way to show your love for your country than by preserving it for future generations? Check out this Global Warming Survival Guide from Time Magazine that offers 51 suggestions for saving the environment. Some are big -- building a "green" house, for instance -- and some are small, like hanging your clothes on a clothesline or changing to compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Other great ideas include:
  • recycling your fleece (visit Patagonia to find out how)
  • turning off your computer when not in use
  • planning a clothes swap with friends to avoid buying new
  • letting employees work from home (or close to home) to reduce emissions
  • paying your bills online to save paper and gas
  • doing an energy audit on your home
  • bringing your own bag to the supermarket (an oldie but still a goodie)
Sometimes environmental issues seem overwhelming, but I think that the Global Warming Survival Guide is proof that everyone has a contribution to make, even if it's as small as turning off your computer or tucking a canvas bag in your pocket before you go shopping.

Beer can be good for you

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Looking for an excuse to order a beer with dinner or knock one back while watching old seasons of The Sopranos and trying to figure out exactly what happened to Tony? (Or am I the only one doing that?) Go ahead...beer -- in moderation -- is good for you. Just how good? Consider this:
  • Beer can protect your cardiovascular health by reducing the risk of stroke and raising good cholesterol.
  • One beer a day in elderly people promoted blood vessel dilation, and improved urination and sleep.
  • Beer contains polyphenols, which are linked to a reduced risk of breast cancer (though you can get polyphenols in other foods).
  • In one study, beer prevented cataracts in mice.
The problem many people have with beer is that they drink too much. Not only does this negate all the positive health benefits, it can also cause you to put on weight. One beer a day, for some people two, is enough.

We love to gawk at fit celebs: Lisa Rinna...I love a strong mama

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She didn't take home the Dancing With the Stars trophy but Lisa Rinna's costumes and quick steps certainly did catapult her career back into the trashy magazines. Now Rinna's kicking up her heels in the Broadway production of Chicago with hubby Harry Hamlin (not as good a dancer but also not nearly as cringe-worthy for facial plastic surgery...oy).

These photos of Rinna are great because we get to gawk at Rinna while she's putting the playground to her own use and showing off her finely-honed physique.

I say, "Dayyyyum." Lisa Rinna's body is cut up and she is putting all us other mommies who can barely make it across the wobbly bridge to shame. Thanks, Lisa, for the reminder that the monkey bars are a great place to get a little workout in.

[via: MamaPop]

Jogging: How American

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In the morning, French President Nicolas Sarkozy did what many people in America do every morning. He pulled on his favourite NYPD t-shirt, laced up his running shoes and went for a jog. Sounds pretty mundane, huh? But it's sparked a lot of reaction, both in Europe and across the pond -- because not only is jogging too conservative and American, it's bad taste to be photographed with your knees exposed.

A British Politician has this to say: "The Sarkozy jog, say his critics, is a sad imitation of the habits of American presidents ... as bad as the influx of Hollywood movies ... The very act of forcing yourself to go for a run, every morning, is a highly conservative business. "

And from another source: "No decent conservative would dream of jogging. It's a vulgar, untraditional form of self-advertisement that might frighten the horses. What's wrong with croquet?"

Huh? Am I missing something here? Maybe jogging isn't a political statement -- did anyone consider that Sarkozy might simply be trying to get healthy?

Turn your attention to your backside

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Feel like paying some extra special attention to that part of you you never get to see? Try stair stepping for a surefire boost to that beautiful bottom. The great thing about stair climbing is that you can do it almost anywhere. Live in the city? Head for the nearest tall building. No skyscrapers around? Climb your own staircase. For stair stepping to be effective, you need to sustain it for about 30 minutes and should feel it more in your butt than in your quads. If your legs are getting most of the workout, slow down or take a break. For more about stair climbing your way to a toned back end, check out this article from FitList.

Sleep: an excellent fat burner

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Wouldn't you love it if there was some sort of pill you could take before bed that would make you lose weight while you slept? Well, keep hoping -- there's nothing that will help you effectively burn fat while you sleep, but the act of sleep itself might have a big impact on your waistline. eDiets has found evidence that that chronic sleep deprivation might be making people fat.

In short, the findings found this: The less sleep the subject got, the higher the BMI. It's also been noticed that since the 1960s, people on average are getting less sleep than 50 years ago -- by two hours a night. So maybe it's not coincidence that people are heavier today than they were in the 1960s.

But here's what I think: It's been shown that overweight people who aren't active are more prone to sleep problems, like insomnia and sleep apnea. So is poor sleep the cause or effect of body weight? What do you think?

5 reasons to eat slower

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With a fast-paced job, a daughter to take care of, and a few demanding hobbies, I find I'm in a rush more frequently than I'd like to be. In addition to losing sleep, the one area in which I find I suffer most is eating. While on the worst days I'll occasionally skip a meal, what happens more often is that I'm cramming food down my throat while catching up work I couldn't get to at other points during the day.

There's a number of reasons why I'll be taking steps to break this habit, and here's the top 5:

1. Losing weight. Just by eating slower you consume few calories.
2. Enjoying my food.
3. Better digestion.
It helps your stomach if you take the time to chew before you swallow.
4. Less stress. Eating is a great excuse to take a break.
5. Rebel against fast food and fast food life. I like a good burger as much as the next person, but not only is fast food awful for you, it turns eating into a task that needs to be accomplished, rather than a process that you can you appreciate and enjoy.

So I'm resolving to take more time when I eat. I suspect I'll feel better for it.

[via Zen Habits]

Can people "forget" unhappy memories?

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I've read that when someone recalls a traumatic event, the emotions connected to that event are just as real as the day it first happened. That's what makes conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety so debilitating. But a recent study may someday open the door to a new kind of therapy that lets sufferers actually bury disturbing images and memories to allow themselves to heal.

Because the study didn't involve traumatic events that had actually happened to the participants, it's too early to say whether the findings will translate into care of patients, but during the study participants were able to "turn down" activity of their visual cortex, where images of events are stored in the brain. After actively working to block a disturbing image from their memory, participants in the study could train themselves to no longer associate an image with those memories.

Read more about the full study here.

Express workouts: Haw fast can you get fit?

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We're all so busy these days that workout programs which promise great results in only 25 minutes sound awesome. But do they work? Just how long do you have to work out to make a noticeable difference anyway?

The answer is: Yes, these quick workouts can work, and probably will if you go regularly. Depending on your body type and how fit you are, you can burn between 164 and 522 calories in 30 minutes. The catch is this: Express workouts typically work best on people who aren't fit. Once your fitness level improves, you'll have to take it up a notch, and might even need to start working out longer.

What do you think of express workouts?

The state of our children

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A new government report, titled America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2007, was released this week. Health experts say the findings serve as a "national report card" for the state of the health of the country's children.

The good:
  • Fewer teens are having sex, and the teen birth rate hit an all time low in 2005.
  • Children receiving recommended vaccinations are on the rise, up from 71% to 81%.
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke has been reduced, but is still a significant 59%.
  • In the 6-12 year old age group, the percentage of obesity tripled over the last 25 years.
  • Violent crime is down significantly from 2003, though there was a small spike in 2005.
  • About 88% of teens finish high school or earn a diploma.
  • The number of children living in homes considered "food insecure" dropped, and the number of children living in homes where at least one parent was employed rose.


Continue reading The state of our children

Find your rhythm with BodiBeat

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I am constantly trying to create playlists that correspond with a 30-45 minute fitness walk. Too often, I don't get it right, and I end up with a slower paced song right when I've hit my stride. That's why, when I read about the BodiBeat music player on Diet-Blog, I thought "Why didn't I think of that?"

When you load music onto BodiBeat, it records how many beats per minute (BPM) each selection has. Then, as you are working out, it chooses songs based on your walking or jogging pace. It'll even change selections mid-stride. When you're finished, you can view a workout session log, complete with calories burned and maximum heart rate.

The only thing I don't love about BodiBeat is the price tag. At $299, I won't be adding it to my collection of fitness gadgets anytime soon!

Secrets to Shiny Hair

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I have pretty healthy hair -- I don't dye it often, I get regular haircuts and don't use to much product, and yet it always looks dull. Do you have the same problem? The Beauty Brains have written on natural ways to keep your hair healthy and shiny. Here are their suggestions:
  • Don't overwater your hair -- it causes the cuticle to buckle, which makes it dull
  • Don't overwork the shampoo. Rubbing it furiously into you scalp will make it look flat
  • Use conditioner -- especially if your hair is dry
  • When using a towel, pat your hair dry instead of rubbing it.
  • Don't brush too much
  • Avoid too much heat styling
  • But if you must heat-style, use protective products. Only, not too much--it weighs hair down
  • Don't dye
  • Or perm
  • Don't play with your hair
  • Don't wear it in a pony tail too much either
  • Avoid the sun
How do you keep your mane looking its best?