Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Food just got more confusing: Trophology

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The key to living a healthy life lies in in what we eat. But perhaps it also lies in which foods we pair with which? That's the premise behind Trophology. The science behind Trophology says this: "when you immobilize your stomach and impair digestive functions by consuming foods in indiscriminate combination, the bacteria in your alimentary canal have a field day. They get all the nutrients and thrive, while you get all the waste and suffer. "

So what are the bad combinations? Protein and starches are really bad together. And as for the rest of your diet, you should be consuming raw, fresh stuff only -- none of that processed crap. To read more about Trophology, check out this website.

What do you think? Solid science or a load of you-know-what?

Less sleep leads to mental declines over time

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Do you get enough sleep each night? From the people I speak with regularly, the average is about six hours. Wow -- that's inadequate by a long shot for almost everyone. Eight hours should be a goal, although with a job and kids and social commitments and everything else, that is very hard to come by.

But, a new study purports to link lack of sleep (specifically, in women) with mental declines, so be sure and research how much sleep you need or else you may suffer from memory loss, attention problems, and other mental skills setbacks.

Can you get that eight hours tonight? Try going to bed earlier and setting new guidelines for your household so that everyone gets more sleep.

Rugby player has tooth embedded in head for months

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I knew those rugby players were tough, but this story is still pretty surprising! A Brisbane, Australia rugby player got stitched up after a collision with an opponent. But for three months after, he suffered infections, headaches, and fatigue. Finally, doctors found the source -- a tooth embedded in his head. They removed it and told the athlete he was very lucky that the situation didn't become more serious.

My question is...didn't the guy who lost the tooth wonder where it went? Or do they just not care about that sort of thing in rugby?

Growing the biggest vegetables EVER

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When it comes to growing and eating healthy vegetables, the Alaska State Fair isn't messing around. There are vegetable growing contests at pretty much every state fair around the country, but those in Alaska have an edge. The summer months in Alaska mean hyper-extended daylight hours, which means ginormously overgrown veggies -- like this 73.4 pound cabbage grown by Brenna Dinkel. In fact, cabbages do so well up in Alaska they have their own category at the fair. I really do love cabbage, but there's no way around the fact that it stinks when you cook it -- that must be one smelly neighborhood the days after the fair is over and everybody's having cabbage (lots of it!) for dinner!

Star Jones dishes about how she lost the weight

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The mystery of Star Jones Reynolds and how she lost all that weight is soon to be common knowledge in the upcoming September issue of Glamour magazine (available Aug 7th). Star says she chose to do an article versus an interview because she wanted to go "as in depth as possible" about how she's changed over the years.

Star has a lot going for her right now as she also has a new talk show scheduled to premier on August 20th on Court TV. And when asked if she has trouble looking at past, heavier, photos of herself Star says it doesn't bother her -- instead it reminds her not to let herself get to that place again.

There are many reasons for eating organic

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Although many of us eat organic fruits and veggies to get away from pesticides and herbicides that may have left residue on that tasty mango or tomato, did you know that there are more reasons to buy and eat organic?

The nutrient content of many farms (if they can be called that) was depleted long ago and there are an abundance of normal, everyday grocery store fruits and vegetables that simply taste great, but have little to no nutrients to offer. Remember, if the soil in which things are grown is depleted of nutrients, the things growing in that soil will be devoid of nutrients as well.

How about organically grown tomatoes? Recent research that compared conventional and organic foods found that there was a much larger amount of flavonoids in organic tomatoes than in conventional tomatoes. Sounds about right to me. Is organic worth the price premium? It is from my corner.

New treatment for sleep apnea

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If you're being treated for sleep apnea, chance are you wear a C-PAP machine at night, wear a dental appliance, or have had surgery. Because treatments for sleep apnea are often uncomfortable, many people go untreated. Sleep apnea can cause a range of health problems, including heart attack, stroke, and diabetes, and cause daytime drowsiness as well.

A new, less cumbersome device to treat sleep apnea is currently being studied, and is showing promising results. When 11 people with mild to moderate problems wore a nasal cannula (a thin tube with prongs, typically used to deliver oxygen) that sent warm, moist air into their upper airways, breathing pauses and night awakenings were cut dramatically. Further studies are underway to find out if this more comfortable method may be useful in treating the condition.

Why are we taught to clean our plate?

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Portion control is something that is just now entering the lexicon of the mainstream media as it relates to diet, but it can be one of the largest impacts to your waistline if not monitored and changed regularly. Think a teenager and an elderly person have the same portion needs? Think again.

Although the 50s-era "clean your plate" syndrome is still practiced today, kids are being brought raised to eat meals as large as a plate (and then get seconds). Not only is a plate of food more than any normal stomach can handle, it sets the stage for a lifetime of overeating for many people.

Five to six smaller meals is preferable, but impractical for most due to busy schedules. It can be done, but wiping away memories of entire food plates is a must. That is, unless we want all the future kids to be carrying around way too much weight -- and medical problems as well.

Knowing your dietary fat types

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Taking the "fat test" does not mean you get weighed and measured. At least, when it comes to nutritional knowledge. You've probably heard of 'good fats' and 'bad fats', but do you know the differences between each?

It's not an easy task to sit down and determine which fats should be eaten regularly and which ones should be avoided, but the sake of your health, that type of information is kind of required.

If you're into learning things about fat, take the fat test now and see where you rank. Be prepared to possibly adjust your diet i you find out you're eating the wrong balance of fat every day. Think olive oil and lard are the same kind of fat? Far from it.

Get motivated by taking your own before and after pics

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I have to admit, I've been motivated to exercise many times simply by seeing a startling photo of myself. If you've been there too, you know it doesn't feel good to do a double-take when you spot yourself in a picture. That's why I love the idea of taking photos that both chronicle your journey into fitness and motivate you to keep on going down the road to good health and great body.

When I saw these before and after (and after and after) photos taken by one man monthly over the course of four fit years, I am pretty amazed at how clear the changes really are. Since it is sometimes hard to gauge how our bodies are adjusting to activity and better nutrition, it seems to me that photos like these are helpful. Also, focusing on the positive modifications seems much more motivating than staring at a bikini-clad you from 1987 posted to the fridge.

Have you taken before, during and after pictures of yourself or chronicled your fitness journey in some other way? Has it helped to motivate you one month, one week or even one photo at a time?

Good nutrition = healthy teeth

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Good nutrition can do a lot to boost your health and prevent problems down the road. But did you know that you can protect your teeth by eating right as well? What to eat and when to eat it just may surprise you:
  • Save your carbs for mealtime (and don't snack on them in between).
  • Drink green and black tea.
  • Use a straw to drink acidic drinks.
  • Eat cheese when you don't have access to a toothbrush.
  • Eat foods like shiitake mushrooms, cranberries, celery, and carrots.
Click here to find out why and to learn more about protecting your teeth naturally.

Not all cereals are created equal -- how does yours stack up?

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The cereal aisle can be daunting. There are so many choices -- from the obviously unhealthy (sugary junk) to the healthy (think high-fiber, zero taste) to the fake healthy (like granola.) Aren't there any cereals out there that are healthy and taste good? Sure there are, but you have to become a diet detective to find one.

The key is reading the labels. Look for the first ingredient on the list -- if it's not a whole grain, put the box back where it belongs. The ideal cereal will 3g or more of fiber, a reasonable amount of sugar (I pick cereals with 10g or less per serving.) For more tips on picking your cereal, plus a comparison of some favourites, check out this article from WebMD.

My cereal du jour is All Bran Guardian with Psyllium -- it's maple-flavoured and tastes like it's not good for you. What your favourite cereal?

Introducing solids into your infant's diet

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If you have children, chances are you switched from baby food to solid food at some age in your child's development. What age? Did you find that information out from a book or from the back of a baby food jar?

If you're preparing to have a child and would like a lowdown (read: schedule) of when to introduce solid food to your child's diet, this reference article over at The Diet Channel has a very good timeline along with associated reference material.

When should you give your baby solid foods? When is the appropriate time for the introduction of cow's milk? The details and much more on suggested timelines makes for a good read. Check it out.

Do allergy food labels really help?

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Severe food allergies can make it tricky to buy foods with processed ingredients, which is why the FDA requires labeling of foods that contain commonly allergenic foods like nuts. But more and more manufacturers are including "accidental-allergy" warnings on foods that formerly didn't carry labels. These accidental warnings may be tacked on when a food is processed in a plant that also processes other, more allergenic foods. But because there are no guidelines for this kind of labeling, consumers are getting confused, and often not heeding the warnings.

A recent survey found that when consumers read that a product may contain an allergenic ingredient, they avoided it about 88% of the time. But when the label contained an accidental-allergy warning, consumers were more likely to ignore the warning. Though the risk is small, a recent study found that about 7% of foods (and possibly more) contained traces of the foods they were warning against, just because they were processed in the same plant.

The FDA is asking for consumer input and may intervene before the end of the year. Until then, say allergy experts, if your allergy is severe, heed the warning, even if you've eaten the food before.

Make your own mosquito repellent

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Are you loving the newly-launched DIY LIfe blog? I am and I am very busy making lists of all the fun and practical ways to put their posts into practice around the house.

I was especially excited to see this post on how to whip up a batch of my own organic mosquito repellent since I've woken up with bites for the last three mornings. It seems we have some pesky little buggers flying around our apartment and until we catch them, I need to keep my legs from being their midnight snack.

The problem is, I don't want to go to bed smelling that icky spray that you buy at the store. And since I have very sensitive skin, I'm not so keen on all the chemicals in them anyway. I love that this DIY version is easy to make and only requires three ingredients. I'm even willing to part with my cheap vodka...I mean, essential oils...to ward off the bugs and bites.

Daily Fit Tip: Make the most of your watermelon

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Big, round, juicy, and in season, watermelons are cropping up all over. I recently bought a giant-sized one for $3.00 at my local market and we've been eating on it for three days. A great source of lycopene and beta carotene, watermelons are also a sweet summertime thirst quencher. To get the most out of this juicy fruit, let it ripen on your counter top for a day or two, instead of in the fridge. Studies have found that when watermelons were stored at room temperature, their antioxidant levels rose by 20-100%. Mmmmmmm.....enjoy!

Stop giving food all the power

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We need food. No one can deny that. But we tend to let food control out lives, and perhaps that's the reason we are overweight. I know it's a problem for me -- I spend most of the morning thinking about what I'm having for lunch, and most of the afternoon thinking about what I'm going to have for dinner. Maybe that's why I love breakfast so much; I typically have the same thing -- oatmeal with strawberries and yogurt -- and though it's boring, I never have to worry about it.

If you want some tips on how to stop food from controlling your life, check out this article. My suggestion? Have some standby meals that you eat unless it's a special occasion (lunch with a friend, etc.) It takes the guesswork out of food and makes eating less of a hassle. For me, it's a turkey sandwich on whole wheat. What about you?

Molecule in brain gives hope for PTSD cure

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I adopted my son from the foster care system. He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder due to events that occurred before he entered foster care. PTSD bleeds into so many areas of his life now -- for example, he has a hair-trigger response to fear; little noises or other things that wouldn't even startle most people shake him to the core. Childhood trauma isn't the only cause of PTSD -- any traumatic event can leave someone with some or all of the symptoms. In a nutshell, PTSD is created when the brain is unable to stop replaying events or experiencing the fear and other emotions associated with a significant traumatic event or time period.

Other than therapy and antidepressants, there is no standard treatment for PTSD at this time. A current study blocked an enzyme called Cdk5 in the brains of mice that had been given mild foot shocks. Mice who had received the foot shock, but hadn't had the enzyme blocked, exhibited symptoms of fear when put in the same environment where they had been previously shocked. Mice who had Cdk5 blocked, didn't exhibit fear symptoms.

The research is preliminary and is a long way from being applicable to humans, but it does give hope that someday there may be a treatment for PTSD.

Healthy eating tip: Skip the tortilla when eating Mexican

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I love Mexican. Looooooooooooove it. But it's usually considered a diet no-no. I guess tortillas, re-fried beans, cheese and sour cream aren't the best for the waistline. But the key to healthy long-term changes is finding ways to enjoy the things you love without the guilt.

So if it's Mexican you love, here are some suggestions: Get your fix in salad form, without the tortilla or taco shell. Trade re-fried beans for regular beans (like black beans). Use low-fat cheese and sour cream in moderation, and choose lean protein sources, like chicken breast. I cook mine with Tex Mex spice and it's delicious.

Want more? Check out this recipe from Self Magazine.

Fit Links: Dealing with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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As fabulous as we at That's Fit think this blog is, the truth is there are hundreds of wonderful blogs on healthy living to be seen all over the blogosphere. So in this feature, Fit Links, we'll introduce you to some that have caught our eye.

Are you tired all the time? Have you heard of something called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and wondered if you might be suffering from this syndrome, undiagnosed?

eMedicineHelath is a good place to start to learn about the symptoms and diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or CFS. Hint: it's not just about being tired or having a lack of energy.

For those diagnosed with CFS, two great sites for staying up-to-date on the latest news, studies, and new treatments for this syndrome are Fighting Fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Treatments.
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You Are What You Eat: Tomatoes -- cooked or fresh?

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cherry tomatoesEach week, we'll be offering original recipes and unique ways to use those Super Foods that pack nutritional power. After all, you are what you eat -- make it count!

How could I resist blogging about another seasonal fruit? Right now, my tomato plants are popping with flowers, promises of tomorrow's bounty.

But what will I do with them?

Experts say that the nutrients are more available, especially the lycopene, when tomatoes are cooked.

Continue reading You Are What You Eat: Tomatoes -- cooked or fresh?

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Celeb secrets: How they slim down 15 lbs instantly

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Celebrities seem to look different every day -- whether it's a new hairdo, a new fashion or what looks like a few less pounds padding their hips. How do they slim down almost instantaneously? Unhealthy crash diets might be at fault, but their wardrobe might also play a role.

Celebs can certainly afford the latest fashions, not to mention personal stylists, so it should not come as a surprise that they dress themselves to appear slimmer. Jessica Simpson wears skinny jeans with heels, Jordin Sparks goes for waist-hugging outfits and Jessica Alba apparently wears slimming body suits and a padded bra under all her red-carpet dresses.

Myself, I'm partial to long t-shirts that cover up that muffin top, and I choose outfits that draw attention to what I consider my best features: My collarbone and my skinny ankles. How about you?

Survive the summer with your hair intact

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Ugh, summertime is the worst for me when it comes to taking care of my hair. In theory, winter should be rougher because of the dry air, but the constant indoors/outdoors of summer activities combined with sun exposure and humidity makes it practically impossible to figure out a good haircare routine and get through the season without some kind of hair damage or issue to deal with. Common summer hair problems include sun scorching, for which leave in conditioners or hair SPF products are best. Another mistake people often make is having chemical texturizing treatments done in summer, which when combined with chlorine and sun damage can leave you with locks like wheat sticks! Sadly, often the only remedy for this is a haircut and lesson learned.

Smoking outside a hospital - why?

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Although I've written on smoking bans extensively in the last few months, countries and municipalities are finally getting the picture worldwide. That is, the general public does not like exposure to tobacco smoke (mostly from cigarettes) and smoking in public places needs to be discontinued.

To those that argue second-hand smoke poses no threat, I'd like to challenge that 'assumption' -- are there verifiable facts from credible sources that back up such a claim? If so, I'd love to investigate them.

It kind of pains me in the worst way when I see patients and employees (such as nurses, of all people) in and around hospitals and medical establishments smoking. And, smoking where other patients have to wade through the toxic mess that is cigarette smoke just to get into a place of healing. Sounds like an oxymoron. Stress can be beat in other ways (it's the common excuse I hear from smokers) -- like fitness and meditation. Hospitals should be one place where smoking should be tossed out the window. Agreed?

What do you hate about your gym?

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I saw this rant a little while ago and it got me thinking about my own gym rant. I switched gyms a few months ago. I did so for a few reasons, particularly because I moved further away from my then-gym, and also because I had major beef with the constant lack of parking. I like my new gym, but I have a couple of issues with it:
  • Magazines: sometimes when I'm on the elliptical trainer, I like to read a good old gossip rag or a fitness magazine. The last one I picked up talked about Brad and Jen going to the Oscars together. Huh? What about Angelina? Then I realized it was from 4 years ago. That's not a one-off either. All the interesting ones are from eons ago. Seriously, update your shelf people!
  • The Healthy Cafe: I think it's great to have a nutrition centre in a gym. Just not right next to the exercise bikes, elliptical trainers and treadmills. Seriously, nothing is more painful than smelling food cooking when you're hungry and sweating.

Continue reading What do you hate about your gym?

Forget the car --Take your bike

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A few weeks ago, I bought a bike from my friend's garage sale for $40. I used to love cruising around the neighbourhood but hadn't travelled on two wheels since my old bike was accidentally sold in my mom's garage sale. My partner Jon expressed disbelief that I would ever use the bike and I became determined to prove him wrong. I started biking everywhere nearby -- the bank, the grocery store, the gym. Each trip is usually no more than 20 minutes (40 minutes round trip) but I live in a hilly neighbourhood so it makes a difference. In fact, an average person can burn 152 calories in 20 minutes on a bike at a moderate effort. I bought a cute little basket so I can tote my purse along too.

Biking outside makes me feel invigorated and proud of myself for adding in fitness where I can. And I'm doing something good for the environment to boot. I challenge you to do the same -- take the bike, or walk, to places nearby. Even if you're only adding 5 minutes to your workout total time, it makes a difference.

How often do you travel on two wheels?

One in 12 working Americans uses illicit drugs?

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I find it amazing that a new survey found that one in 12 American working adults have used an illicit drug in the past month. With most of that 'drug' use involving marijuana, that tones the message down a bit, but it's still a tad odd.

Harder drugs like meth and heroine would have been shocking, but pot seems to be the easy drug of choice these days for mellowing many at a decent price. But still, one in 12?

In the survey, those who reported using illegal drugs were employed full-time, with most of them being categorized as restaurant workers (over 17%). Those were followed by construction workers, with even teachers and social service workers showing 4% rates.

Make sure and keep that ticker in shape

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It's hard to know what to eat these days to keep all those organs in tip-top shape. With heart disease being the largest killer of Americans, though, should special attention be paid to eating a diet that is "heart healthy?" You bet. It's the most important aspect of nutrition from my point of view.

But what study(s) say this? There are so many conflicting stories on what to eat for a healthy heart and what not to eat that discouragement can become a problem for many. Are fats and alcohol as good as grains and vegetables for heart health? It all comes down to consumed amounts and what exact types of fats and grains you're eating. The devil is in the details, like most anything that can't be answered easily.

If you have not consulted with a nutritionist -- especially if your family has a history of heart disease -- that would be a great start. A little money now may save you tons later, and your health will get its suggested maintenance as well.

Have a hobby? 5 reasons to get one

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It seems like once you've passed the age of 12 it becomes more and more difficult to find time for a hobby, and all too many of us find ourselves using phrases like "I used to love to..." and "I wish I could get back into..." I think hobbies slip sometimes because they seem like an extra indulgence or a treat for ourselves that should be low on our list of priorities, and we almost end up feeling guilty when we do take time out to do something we really love. Well it's time to break free of that cycle and pencil in some time, regularly!, for your favorite hobby. And here's why:
  • Hobbies give your life meaning
  • Hobbies energize your life
  • Hobbies give you a chance to "switch off"
  • Hobbies let you express your talents
  • Hobbies let you have fun!
Get rid of the guilt! All of these things are necessary for your overall health and wellbeing -- and if you're well you can help others around you be well also. So, if you think about it, you're doing everybody a favor...

Via Lifehacker

How to get the most out of your hormones

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Ladies, of course you can choose to see the negatives and focus on PMS and bloating or whatever, but when your period rolls around every month why not focus on the positives instead? And the rest of the month, as things are happening and changing in your body, why not use all that to your advantage also? Although hormone fluctuations generally have a bad reputation, they can have benefits if you understand them. For example, in days 1-10 of your cycle (1 being the first day of your period) it'll be easier to quit smoking, days 11-14 are the best times to schedule a routine OB appt or to make a large corporate presentation, and days 15-28 are the most conducive to burning and losing belly fat.

Who knew? Mark your calendars!

Weight training not just for yougsters

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Lifting weight -- any kind of weight -- in moderate amounts is good for muscles old and new. While U.S. culture generally shows muscle-bearing folks as the only ones lifting weights, weight resistance is great for people of all ages who want to make sure those muscles are in tip-top shape.

The American Heart Association recently reiterated that pumping iron (if you will) can even help elderly nursing home residents and heart failure patients. No surprise there -- conditioning muscles (and heart muscles as well) can do no bad for most people.

Aerobic exercise and resistance training (weights) are the minimal types of exercise most of us should be getting, although it's hard to find the time when we're all busy. Finding that time is a tough choice, but it can be done.

Baseball may protect young shoulders

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In young athletes, injury is always a concern. But a recent study found that young baseball players may actually get some protection from pitching. Concerns about overuse injuries are common in young pitchers, but the study found that these young athletes grew, they actually retained the ability to externally rotate the shoulder. Though we typically lose this kind of rotation, as well as flexibility, as we age, it appears that this external rotation may actually protect the shoulder.

That said, overuse is still a concern. Health experts say that if a child pitches extensively, plays several leagues, or pitches year round, they're still at risk for injury. Commonsense, I think.

Nifty funraising idea: Rock n' Roll Marathon

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I'm not a runner but I love the idea of fundraising marathons -- not only do they benefit a worthy cause, the participants get healthier too. Everyone wins! So I'm loving this idea -- A Rock and Roll Marathon. It takes place in San Diego, and as your pound the pavement on the 26.2-mile course, you can pace yourself to the tunes of over 40 bands performing live music. And not only is the race itself fun -- the marathon was voted as having the best Post-Race party, according to Competitor Magazine.

The next race happen on June 1, 2008 -- which gives you plenty of time to train!

Is your makeup making you look heavier?

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Wow, lets hope not because that would suck! We all have enough trouble with our weight without making it worse with the very makeup we put on to hide flaws -- not point them out. But it works both ways, and by using makeup strategically you can successfully go the other way and look thinner -- as much as 10 pounds thinner! Blush and shadow placed in the right places, like along double chins and cheekbones, can create definition and help extra flab recede into the background. For tips on how to do it see this article on iVillage -- and let us know how it works. Just make sure to practice and do it correctly, or you could easily end up looking 10 pounds fatter!

The connection between TV watching and fat kids

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I've heard ever since I can remember that those kids who watch too much television are heavier and generally less healthy.

The images created by that boob tube can be startling (as in, primetime television), but the lack of physical movement is most likely continuing to contribute to the nationwide obesity epidemic American kids are facing.

Kids who are used to being overweight from an early age may tend to stay that way as well as having potential to develop more weight-related diseases, like type 2 diabetes and heart problems. The solution, as a parent, is up to you.