Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Mayo clinic's 10 symptoms to never ignore

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I'm a bit of a hypochondriac. Specifically, I think that basically any unusual or unexpected ache, pain or swelling is cancer. Fortunately, for my doctor especially, I am usually pretty good at deciphering which symptoms actually need to be checked out and which are likely just random and normal body fluctuations.

There are symptoms, however, that according to the Mayo Clinic should not be ignored. For example, if you lose 5% of your body weight within a month or 10% in 6 to 12 months and you can't explain why, you should have a chat with your family doctor. Unexplained weight loss can be an indicator of a range of conditions including cancer, liver disease and depression.

If you've injured a joint and it has become hot, red and/or swollen, you need to seek help as you may have a joint infection that could eventually lead to the loss of a limb. Other warning signs you should never ignore include shortness of breath, severe headaches, flashes of light and feeling super full when you've hardly eaten anything. To see the rest of the symptoms as well as the reasoning behind why you need to get then all checked out, take a look here.

Test your fertility IQ

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I'm going to warn all of you ladies in your late-20s and early-30s who hope to someday have children, that taking this fertility quiz may make cause you to feel the following: depressed, hopeless, discouraged, desperate and fruitless (in more ways that one).

Like a lot of you out there, I'd like to have kids some day but a) would ideally like to do it within a loving and committed relationship, and b) want to wait a bit until I've seen the world, established myself at a job I enjoy and feel ready to not be completely selfish and only think about myself. Unfortunately, I'm nowhere close to accomplishing most of these things and I'm already 28 which, according the quiz, means my fertility rate is starting to decline -- quickly.

Apparently only 1 out of 12,000 respondents got all 15 questions about fertility correct (I think my score was a lofty 12), which isn't very encouraging. You can take the test here and see how well you do, and also learn some interesting and potentially very important facts about fertility and conception. And if any of you out there waited until your mid-to late-30s to have kids and have some encouraging stories to tell the rest of us, please share. It may help ease a few minds that, after reading the information provided, are envisioning a life of dried-up, barren solitude.

Daily Fit Tip: Train outside the box

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I've got these three amazing men whom I train. Jeff, Jody and Steve (shown in order at right.) All three men are around 60. All three men have been kickboxing with me (real kickboxing) for months. And all three are actually excellent at it! Who would ever imagine these three highly esteemed business men to show up at my door looking to get in shape, and becoming skilled fighters? Not only do they kickbox, they BOSU, jump rope, run, Rebound, use Gliding Disks, Ballast Balls and more.

The point I'm trying to relay to you is that when it comes to your fitness activities.....there are no rules! Don't pigeon-hole yourself. Ever think the tango was cool? Go take some lessons. Beach volleyball sound fun? Find some sand and give it a go. Age shouldn't hold you back from training out side the box. Physical limitations may, but age should not.

If something looks fun, sounds fun, sounds silly, whatever! Give something new a try. As for my crazy men....they literally brighten up may days. I couldn't think of a more fun way to start my mornings, than training these brilliant, energetic, bright, ridiculous men. They give me a hard time, but they're truly this fitness trainers dream come true.

Continue reading Daily Fit Tip: Train outside the box

How Many Calories... in a Bloomin' Onion?

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One of my first jobs was as a waitress at Outback Steakhouse. The most popular appetizer we sold, by far, was the Bloomin' Onion. Other restaurants have their own versions and they're all basically the same thing: a huge sweet onion that's been cut, breaded and deep fried, served with some kind of dipping sauce.

The entire time I worked at Outback, I never got sick of eating the Bloomin' Onions that the cooks would give us for for free when they accidentally made too many. They're delicious. They're pretty. It didn't bother us that if we didn't eat them when the were hot and freshly cooked they became a slimy, greasy brown wad within an hour.

We knew back then that all of those Bloomin' Onions were unhealthy, but now I wonder just how bad they really were. How many calories are in a whole Bloomin' Onion from Outback Steakhouse?

A) 820 calories
B) 1450 calories
C) 1780 calories
D) 2210 calories

Continue reading How Many Calories... in a Bloomin' Onion?

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Ask Fitz! Your Fitness Questions Answered

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Have fitness questions? Fitz has your answer. Our fitness expert -- and now your own virtual personal trainer -- will help you get fit, increase your overall health and do it in a fun way. Drop your questions here in the Comments section below and we'll choose two per week to publish on That's Fit! Learn more about Fitz here.

Q. Fitz. I've been really good the past couple of months about eating healthier. I eat lots of fruits, veggies, fiber and whole grains. I try to be extra careful, especially when I go out. However, while I order something friends will order something no-so-good. French fries for example. My guilty pleasure is snacking on a few of them. I also notice that I'll snack on free samples if they're available at the grocery store.

My question is, is this okay? I certainly don't eat a whole meal, and I don't do it every day. But, I can't quite seem to kick the habit of resisting food that's right in front of me. Is is okay to snack on small temptations, or am I screwing my body up even with the small portions? Thanks. Rachel

A. Rachel. I think you and I are the same person. You just described me in a nutshell. If I'm preparing or ordering food for myself, it will truly be of the highest nutrition and of very low fat and calorie content. I'm human though and I am not a fan of 'extreme eating'. Some folks can stick to a never ever have a french fry or a drop of sugar style of eating. I'm not that girl. My stance is that if ninety percent of the food you put in your mouth is top notch.....the other ten percent won't hurt so much.

I NEVER order fries. But if my husband does......I'll have a few. Just a few. I NEVER bring home cake or pie unless it's a birthday, or order it for dessert. But if the sweet little sample lady gives me a teeny cup of Death by Chocolate.....I enjoy the heck out of it. Doing this allows me to enjoy certain foods without really paying the price for it. Sounds like you've got the same philosophy.

The only reason I would recommend you changing your habits is if you're falling short on some sort of weight-loss goals....or if you find yourself making 'exceptions' more than twice a day. If you're trying to lose and hit a plateau......the samples may have to go. All calories count. Hope that helps Rachel. You seem to be on the right track! Fitz

Q. Hey Miss Fitz. I was just wondering ... is it is good for a teen to exercise? I am thirteen years old, and I want to know how to get in shape before school. I'm thinking about running one mile at least three times a week. Is that healthy? Prue.

Continue reading Ask Fitz! Your Fitness Questions Answered

Workplace Fitness: The best on-the-go gym gear

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Travel much for work? Many people do, especially in today's world where you can get across the country in a matter of hours and even across the world in a day. But even if you just travel every once in awhile having a fitness plan, complete with equipment, in place and ready to go with you can make a huge difference in how likely you are to exercise while you're away. Sure, there's always the hotel gym, but aside from planning to run on the treadmill you can't really plan ahead because all gyms are different and have different equipment.

So your best bet is to make use of both worlds -- the hotel's equipment (i.e. gym and pool) and your own equipment you bring with you. Here are some ideas of the best on-the-go gym equipment, courtesy of Forbes:
  • AquaVee Portable Swim System Kit This is a handy system that sets up quickly and will allow you to use the hotel pool to its most advantageous. It has a line that stretches across the pool to provide support while you do Pilates moves and other exercises in the cool and naturally resistant environment of the water. $119.90
  • TRX Professional Model The name doesn't tell you much, but this is an exercise kit that provides total-body resistance training with straps that use the body's own weight against it. Small and light (less than 2 lbs) it can be attached to a tree for an outdoor workout or to a door if you'd prefer the privacy of your hotel room. $149.95

Continue reading Workplace Fitness: The best on-the-go gym gear

Life Fit Chat with Laura Lewis: What keeps your mind fit?

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Life Fit Chat with That's Fit Life Fit Expert Laura Lewis brings conversation provoking tidbits to your table, served up with a touch of spice! Byte-sized information that pack some punch, brought to you every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday!

Did you know ... Like all organs in the human body, the brain is a highly metabolic organ that suffers from free radical damage. Free radical fighting phytochemicals found in blueberries improve memory and assists in information retention.

The key to preventing cognitive decline is to keep your brain active. The Institute for the Study of Aging and The International Longevity Center-USA recommends the following strategies to keep your mind functioning as effectively as possible.

Action Tips ...
  • Have at least one cup of organic blueberries per day.
  • Stay socially active.
  • Learn something new every day.
  • Stimulate the brain by reading, playing games, visiting museums, etc.
  • Exercise regularly.
Got any good recipes? How do you get the blue in your food? We would love to hear how you incorporate blueberries in your meals!

The Daily Turn On! Tasteful choices

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Life is too short not to be fully "tuned in." The Daily Turn On! is designed to wake up your senses, all six of them: smell, taste, touch, hearing, sight and intuition! Everyday The Daily Turn On! with That's Fit Life Fit expert Laura Lewis will awaken your mind, your body and your life!

Did you know ...
We have almost 10,000 taste buds, and yet, taste is the weakest of our six senses (yes, we do have six!). And, women typically have more taste buds than men. Flavor drives our desire for or disgust of certain foods. However, taste rarely acts on its own. Our bodies rely on touch, smell, sight and sound. The act of eating is a full awakening of our senses. It's is no wonder food can be so enjoyable!

It's a texture thing. Most of us have at least one food that we just can't seem to enjoy because the way it feels in our mouth is unpleasant; of course, the opposite is true. There are plenty of foods we love because the texture provides a highly pleasurable sensory experience.

Smell has a direct impact on taste. Have you ever thought, "Wow, that smells just like the way ... tastes"? That is because the olfactory glands and taste are in constant communication. The odor from food actually enhances our sense of smell, which is why we will hold our noses to get something unpleasant down the hatch!

On the flip side, you may see food that looks utterly delectable and think, "That looks delicious!" The area of the brain called the substantia innominata contains nerve cells that actually respond to the sight of food. The stronger the brain activity is in this area is indicative of how strong the desire is to consume that food. The activity is impacted with experience, meaning the activity may be higher or lower based on one's initial experience with the food.

Scientists have discovered that our brain produces large bursts of ultrasound with an initial bite into crunchy food. This ultrasound provides the brain with an understanding of the texture of food and in response elicits a corresponding signal of pleasure or displeasure.

Food awakens all of our senses ... choosing the right foods will train your brain to Turn On when exposed to healthy choices.

Turn On your senses ... Wake up to a fit life!
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National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Night

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If you've planted a garden and if in that garden you've planted zucchini, then the fact that Pennsylvania resident Tom Roy has established a holiday for getting rid of the surplus might not surprise you in the least. Today is the day, so if you've got too much zucchini and not enough willing takers, you could always try some of these suggestions for sneaking the stuff into your neighbor's homes (though I'm not sure I'd recommend it)!

Ali at The Cleaner Plate Club has some other (tastier) ideas for getting rid of that zucchini, including a zucchini dip recipe and a delicious looking pasta dish, as well as a link to Barbara Kingsolver's zucchini chocolate chip cookies. These delicious, healthful dishes are likely to make that zucchini disappear so fast, your neighbors might even come begging for more!

Kids think anything wrapped in McDonald's wrappers tastes better

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Put a bag of carrots in front of a preschooler and they may eat it. Put the same carrots inside McDonald's packaging and not only will they eat it, they'll think it tastes better that way. That's according to findings out of Stanford University, anyway. Preschoolers who were offered the same foods -- chicken nuggets, hamburgers, carrots, and milk -- both wrapped in McDonald's wrappers or plain, were asked to tell which item tasted better. The kids chose the McDonald's wrapped foods significantly more often.

Researchers say that this study proves how powerful marketing is, especially to children who don't understand the intent of the ads, though critics say that familiarizing a brands is the point of marketing. Some of the larger corporations recently vowed to cut down on some of their marketing to kids, but child advocate groups say there's a long way to go.

I think parents are still the first line of defense between children and marketers (though I don't think that excuses corporations from behaving responsibly). Now I'm just wondering, if I wrapped four brussels sprouts up in a Chicken McNuggets box, would my kids eat them? (I'm kidding, I promise.) What do you think about this study?

Vegansexuals don't do carnivores

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Over at Slashfood there's an interesting bit on vegansexuals: vegans who don't sleep with non-vegans, because, as one vegansexual says, "I would not want to be intimate with somebody whose body is literally made up from the bodies of others who have died for their sustenance. I wouldn't want to get close to them in a physical sense if their body was derived from meat. For me, this constitutes my very personal form of ethical sexuality." I guess this is just taking the notion that "you are what you eat" into the bedroom...or something.

'Course we should mention that not all vegans are vegansexual (that word doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, does it?) but I'm still a little confused about why this gets its own category. I mean, we all have people we wouldn't sleep with. But hey, maybe this could be a gentle brush off: "I really like you, but I'm, um, vegansexual." It'd probably still work even if the other person has no idea what that means.

24 goes green

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The pressure's on to conserve energy and make eco-friendly changes and though many corporations are slow to make any promises, hit TV show 24 has pledged to make several changes that will benefit the environment. How are they planning on doing this? Well, for one, they're switching to generators and production vehicles that use biodiesel fuel. And they've promised to purchase energy produced through eco-friendly sources like wind, water and solar power. Crew will be ferried around by hybrid vehicles, too. In addition, they're introducing global-warming storylines to the show, presumably to foster awareness in viewers.

While I think there's a lot more than can be done, this sounds like a promising start, and hopefully other shows will follow.

New uses for those pesky plastic grocery bags

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In my first floor closet lives a growing collection of plastic grocery bags that topple onto unsuspecting visitors if they dare to open the door. I try -- oh, how I try -- to always make sure I have reusable grocery bags with me when I go to the store, but sometimes I forget and sometimes I buy more than my three or four bags can hold. I'm loathe to throw my collection of bags away and add them to the local landfill, and there's not a recycling center nearby that will take them. What's a girl, who desperately wants a clean utility closet, to do?

Our friends over at DIY Life recently had a great idea. Apparently, people have been getting creative with plastic bags and using them for craft projects, knitting, even making clothes (which I can't seem to get my mind around). There's even instructions over there for creating yard out of plastic bags for knitting and whatnot. I somehow missed out on the crafty gene, but if there's anyone out there who is collecting bags for these types of projects, I'm more than willing to donate my bags to the cause!

What ideas do you have for recycling plastic grocery bags?

Working out in the heat

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As this summer's heat wave loosens its grip on North America (at least where I live, it has,) It's becoming easier to get moving and get a workout in. But in case the heat comes back, don't let it ruin your exercise routine -- you can work out in the heat too! Here are a few suggestions:
  • Drink lots of water
  • Avoid alcohol -- it dehydrates you
  • Wear clothing that is light-weight and avoid dark colours
  • Go where it's cool -- indoors or in the shade
  • Wear sunscreen
  • Work out in the morning or in the evening, when the summer sun isn't at it's peak.
For me, it's as simple as heading to the air-conditioned gym or riding my bike at dusk. How do you stand the heat and stay active at the same time?

Fitness boot camp: The good, the bad and the painful

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I love the idea of fitness boot camp, although I'll admit that the premise scares the you-know-what out of me. It's not just the idea of getting up at 5am for an hour of grueling exercise (the bad), it's also the thought of doing it for five days a week for a full month. Can you imagine how sore you'd be every single day (the painful!)?

Of course, both are likely a small price to pay when you start to see results (the good). I also think that the good outweighs the bad (and the painful) in that you've got a professional helping you get into shape every step of the way for an entire month. Plus they make sure to mix up the exercises each day so you end up doing cardio, a full range of muscle exercises, stretching and more. Finally, fitness boot camp causes you to commit for four weeks. It's easy when you're on your own to give up after a few days if you're really not feeling motivated, but when you've got a class of 10 or 15 people, plus your very own work-out drill sergeant, you've got some serious incentive to get your butt in gear.

The writer of this article tried it out and really only has positive things to say. One of the aspects I liked the best was that people of all ages, weights and fitness levels could join. And if you're really not a morning person, most companies also offer classes after work. What do you think, would you be willing to give it a try?

Body age versus real age: Are you Britney or Madonna?

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The Daily Mirror slapped together a little quiz to estimate your body's age, as opposed to the age you have on your driver's license. They factor in things like smoking, flexibility, and soda drinking to tell you why you may or may not feel so old. And of course, we must know how old celebrities are too: Madonna is 48, but her body is 35 (and I believe it, I've seen her booty) while the troubled Ms. Spears is a 25-year-old trapped in a 30-year-old body. There's also tips for turning back the body-aging clock. I'll summarize this way: no hard living.

The folks over at Jezebel took the quiz, so feel free to compare yourself to bloggers instead of celebrities if you like. For myself, I'll just report that I was pleased to break even.

Yummy low-carb vegetarian snacks

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If you're a vegetarian, following a low-carb eating plan can seem daunting. After all, if you can't eat meat and you can't eat carbs, that pretty much leaves veggies and meat-substitutes like veggie dogs and burgers. eDiets has a few suggestions for the vegetarian low-carb dieter:
  • Add nuts to a salad
  • Home made guacamole is low in carbs and high in fibre
  • Add some parmesan cheese to some steamed broccoli for a healthy and yummy snack
  • Enjoy soy nuts as an on-the-go snack
  • Stuff an artichoke with some cheese for a gourmet meal
  • Add tofu to a fruit smoothie for a high-protein breakfast
  • Fresh fruit is an indulgence, but a worthy one. Pair it with some plain yogurt.
One of my favourite veggie snacks is celery with some natural peanut butter. What about you?

Freshman 15: Does college really make you fat?

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Heading off for your first year of college? There are a lot of things to look forward to, and unfortunately, weight gain may be one of them if you aren't careful. Most of us have probably already heard about the Freshman 15, or the tendency for young adults to gain weight when they leave home for college, but a recent study out of the University of New Hampshire helped to prove that the Freshman 15 really exists.

Is it due to unhealthy choices at the dorm cafeteria? Late night pizzas? Or is it just the fact that leaving home, where Mom or Dad take care of the shopping and cooking, leaves kids scrambling to make good choices? Whatever the reason, the results were startling: 1/3 of students in the study were overweight and 60% of men (age 18-24) had hypertension, a condition that usually doesn't develop until later in life.

Read more about the study here, and check out these tips for avoiding those unwanted pounds.

Drink too much last night? A few natural ways to feel better

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Ah the hangover. Nature and your body's way of telling you you've gone way overboard. Unfortunately for some of us, it's a lesson we just can't seem to learn. I spent 8 hours driving home from a long weekend getaway yesterday and every one of my friends and I were feeling pretty rough in the car. I'm not naming names, but some had to pull over for a speedy emergency roadside pit-stop (I will say that it wasn't me!).

If you've known the pain of too much drinking and want help for similar situations in the future, or are currently suffering and need aid now, take a look at this article on natural remedies for the dreaded hangover. Sleep and gentle exercise are two easy suggestions, but if that won't cut it the piece also suggests trying B vitamins (B6 and B12) as they help flush out your overworked liver. For a few more ideas, you can see the article here. Of course, the best plan is moderation (but we all know that sometimes even the best of intentions can be ruined by a party that turns into a runaway).

Have you got any great hangover cures that you swear by?

Introducing ... the cookie diet!

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Can eating nothing but cookies help you lose weight. I wish! Wait ... it can? Dr. Sanford Seigel believes that a cookie diet can yield results, but there's a catch -- you can't just gorge yourself on grandma's chocolate chip variety. Dieters consume specially-made cookies that Dr. Siegel has developed, which are available at the Doctor's office and a few malls. The key is amino acids in the cookies that Dr. Siegel believes will suppress hunger. And the best part? They come in chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin.

The cookies can be eaten as a snack or a meal replacement. And Dr. Siegel strongly recommends that you allow your weight-loss to be medically monitored by your doctor.

What do you think -- fad diet or fantastic idea? I would definitely say fad diet -- I highly doubt that a diet based on eating cookies can lead to long-term weight loss.