Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Don't let a cruise ruin your diet

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I've never been on a cruise, but I imagine going to one would be like visiting an all-inclusive resort, where the buffets and bars are always well-stocked and the entertainment flows just as much as a booze. One thing I know about all-inclusive resorts is that dieting, or even maintaining your weight is next to impossible. At least, if you're will-power-less like I am.

The reason I'm talking cruises is Fitsugar has posted some suggestions on how to keep from de-railing your diet while on a cruise, like:
  • Eat 5 to 6 small meals a day, instead of 3 huge ones
  • At a buffet, fill your plate with healthy things like salad first and hopefully there won't be room for the unhealthy stuff by the time you get to it.
  • Drink lots of water
  • Sign up for activities, especially the fitness classes.
How do you stay fit on a cruise?

What your nails say about your health

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Do your nails look a little worse for wear? They may need more than a manicure. Your fingernails and toenails can actually be a window into your internal health and various problems you may be having with them may be a sign that something more serious than ragged cuticles is going on. If your nails:
  • are shaped like spoons, it can be sign of anemia.
  • are pitted, it may be a symptom of psoriasis or alopecia.
  • are yellow or orange, it could be a sign of sinus infection or lung disease.
  • show signs of clubbing, it could be due to lung or cardiac problems including cystic fibrosis or TB.
  • are uniformly white, except for a band at the top, it could indicate liver cirrhosis, congestive heart failure, or diabetes.
Before you cover up those unsightly nail imperfections with the perfect polish, make sure they aren't giving you a sign that you need to make a visit to your doctor first!

Another reason to can the soda completely

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Soft drinks are very tasty on a hot summer's day -- that is, unless you prefer mounds of sugar filled with empty calories. Advice: drink ice-cold water instead.

But besides being nutritionally deficient in many ways, how about sodas being bad for heart health? According to WebMD, a recent study concluded that the folks out there with a "soda habit" (an addiction, in other words), have an increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Google that term and read about it -- it will make your head turn.

What to do, you might ask? Slowly wean yourself off of sugary soft drinks week by week, even turning to diet versions to help the transition. Slowly get to the all-natural fruit drink or water route, even though boring corporate afternoons may not have the "jump" you may be used to with a super-sugary soft drink. It's hard, but can be done.

Stretching: the golden rules

Stretching is one of those things that you've heard is important, even though you don't really know why.Truth is, stretching is controversial. There are differing opinion out there as to whether it prevents or causes injuries, or whether it's the most or least important part of the workout. I don't spend a whole bunch of time stretching, but I do it anyway, just to be on the safe side. Plus stretching improves flexibility, which I need.

The folks at FitBuff have come up with a few rules of stretching that you should follow:

  • Hold stretches for no more than 20 seconds -- this elongates your muscles without straining them
  • However, if you're stretching before lifting weights, hold stretches for 10 seconds to improve your strength. Holding for longer than that can do the opposite and make you weaker
  • Dynamic stretching is ideal -- it's stretching with movement, which ensures that your muscles aren't weakened by prolonged stretching.
What about you? Do you stretch?

The best of H20

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Are all waters created equal? I think not. While they're elementally the same, it's widely believed that there's a difference between the different tap bottled, spring and nutrient-infused waters. Which one is the best, and should you be spending money to get it? Glee Magazine has rated several aquas, including those coming from in-home filters, those coming out of bottles and those with added pizazz. The winners are:
  • Brita and PUR water filtration systems, which are eco-friendly because you don't waste all those water bottles -- you just make it at home!
  • Iceland Spring and LeBleu waters won the taste test for plain bottled waters
  • San Pellegrino won the taste test for flavoured or carbonated waters
What's your favourite water? I guess I'm a bit of a simple sally -- I stick to drinking just plain old tap water.

2007 Fitness Pioneers -- The Wiggles

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This weekend when I travel to Chicago, I'll have the honor of presenting the children's group The Wiggles with the 2007 Fitness Pioneers award. On behalf of boxing equipment and apparel giant Everlast and my company Fitzness International, we've chosen The Wiggles to recognize for their efforts to promote health and fitness to youths worldwide.

As a fitness expert, I spend oodles of time working to educate families on the ABC's of a healthy lifestyle. I'm always looking for tools to help accommodate these goals and make life easier for both the parents and the children involved. Normally television is considered a detriment to health, but in this case.......the result is just the opposite. Watching The Wiggles is a grand opportunity for children to learn about healthy food, wholesome values, international customs, animals, and get a workout in the process. Their hits include "Fruit Salad, Yummy Yummy", "Gulp, Gulp, Drink Some Water", and "Do the Monkey". The Wiggles are not only real deal rock stars for all the little ones in the world, they're educators and fitness trainers too.

On behalf of Everlast and Fitzness International, we honor The Wiggles and wish them many more years of success.

Continue reading 2007 Fitness Pioneers -- The Wiggles

You CAN get rid of cellulite ... with a bit of work, that is.

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Most expert will tell you that there's not getting rid of cellulite once you've got it. But that's all a bunch of hogwash, according to certified trainer Joyce Verdal, PhD, who weighs in on the subject on this eDiets article.

The truth, according to Verdal, is that cellulite can be a thing of the past, but it takes lots of hard work. Those creams that promise results will only work at draining your wallet -- blasting cellulite comes down to exercise, particularly weight training, and eating right.

And for those who are lucky enough to be cellulite-free (for now, at least), there are a number of steps you can take to avoid getting it, including flushing toxins from your body. For more information, check out the article.

Fit Links: Back to School

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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.

When the "school supplies" section is moved front and center of every store, and those isles are full of parents holding crumpled checklists and a mix of excited and panicked-looking children, you know that back to school time is getting close.

Such a big part of your child's life obviously plays a big part in their health, so here's a few blogs to keep you in the back-to-school health loop this year!

Back2School2007 is on top of all kinds of health issues relating to school, from backbacks and back health to the campaign for healthier school lunches.

The Lifestyle Section of the Detroit News has medical checklist to help make sure you haven't forgotten anything your child needs to get a healthy start to the school year.

Busy Moms Recipes has a great list of healthy lunch and snack ideas - beyond sandwiches!
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Daily Fit Tip: Snappy technique for hulling strawberries

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Summer means strawberries are ripe, juicy, and in season. Not only are they tasty, they're also rich in vitamin C, manganese, and fiber. If you're trying to hull a large amount of the berries for your favorite recipe, consider this tip from our friends at DIY Life. For smaller berries, dig into your baking supplies and find your star-shaped frosting tip. Use the tip that's just the right size for your berry, push the star-shaped end into the top of the strawberry, twist, and remove. You'll have that batch of strawberries hulled, cleaned, and ready to go in no time! Now why didn't I think of that?

Life Fit with Laura Lewis: Life Fit Choices

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Life Fit ... Mind. Body. And More.

Being Life Fit is about your total health, including the health of all of your relationships. Life Fit is a journey, not a destination. It is a process of continuous growth: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Check in each Tuesday to Life Fit with Laura Lewis, author of "52 Ways To A Healthy You," as we explore our total life fitness. Then, weigh in with your own thoughts over at Laura's "Life Fit Chat" each Wednesday through Friday for further discussion on the week's topic. For more information visit Laura at www.LauraLewis.com.

What are Life Fit Choices? Life Fit Choices are forks in the road. One direction points to balance, health, wellness and well being while the other points towards the Now Factor. We all know what that is ... Have fun now! Feel good now! Have it all now! Give me instant gratification. But, I am sure you have figured out that the Now Factor does not have any sort or relationship with the Forever Factor. So, how do we live in the Now and make choices that impact the Forever and still have a good time in the present? The answer is choosing wisely when presented with Life Fit Choices.

The key to happiness lies in the decision to set and keep our goals or another way to put it is ... to stay on the path that leads to our soul's ambition. Life Fit Choices are presented when the Now Factor gets in the way of Forever Factor and diverts the path of our soul's ambition. Determining which way to go will directly impact your total life fitness.

Ask yourself the following five questions when presented with a Life Fit Choice:

  1. Am I am making time for myself? In other words, will this choice consume so much of my time that I will not be able to focus on or accomplish the things that matter most to my well being and ability to achieve a fit life?
  2. Am I focusing on my strengths? What we focus on is what will grow and manifest in our lives. In every decision, ask yourself, "Is this thought or action promoting self-growth or self-destruction?" And then choose wisely.
  3. Am I living in sync with my core values? Stress, dis-ease, anxiety, depression, fatigue, restlessness and guilt are all the results of living a life that is not inline with your value system. It is not about being a "good person," it is about living a life of authenticity.
  4. Am I paying it forward? What we do today impacts tomorrow. In every choice you make, make it for tomorrow as much as you make for today.
  5. Am I modeling the life I want for my child (niece, nephew, etc.)? Remember the lanyards that said, "What would Jesus do?" I think the more telling question is "Would I want my child to make this same choice?" If you can answer yes, it is probably a Life Fit Choice!
Making the right choice for you in a society that often dictates what your right choice should be is not always easy. Keep the following five guidelines in mind as you progress down your own soul's path.

  1. Don't worry about how you feel as our feelings can be misleading. Stay true to your core values.
  2. Be open to changing your ideas. Our reality changes with our experiences. Be open to growth.
  3. Don't wait till you feel happy to make a choice. It can be the choosing that results in happiness.
  4. Don't worry about what you need to do. Spend your time doing what needs to be done.
  5. Be grateful today. The lessons of today will prepare you for tomorrow.
As you journey down your path, keep your head high and notice the forks in the road. Make your Life Fit Choices consciously and deliberately!
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The Daily Turn On! Conscious eating

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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 ... Taste is the weakest of the six senses, which often results in only a small part of our consciousness giving awareness to the flavor of the foods we eat. This lack of awareness is one explanation for the human propensity for overeating.

Choosing mindful eating practices can help you have a deeper appreciation for your food more while consuming less of it.

Try it out ... Close your eyes. Consciously breathe in the aroma of your food or beverage (I love the first cup of coffee in the morning.) Take a sip or bite and focus on the flavor. Consciously breathe in and mindfully taste each sip or bite until you are satisfied.

Observe the experience ... How was this experience different from your typical experience in consumption? Did you consume more or less? Was it more satisfying? Did you find yourself becoming impatient or enjoy the experience?

Action Tips ...
  • Do not multi-task while eating. Sit down to appreciate and enjoy your food.
  • Be conscious of your food's origins.
  • Develop an attitude of gratitude toward your food.
  • Close your eyes when you take a bite of food and attempt to identify each of the flavors within your food. Try to identify the following flavors:
  1. Salty
  2. Sweet
  3. Bitter
  4. Acidic
  5. Earthy
  6. Bland
  7. Spicy
  8. Sour
  9. Toasted or Roasted
  10. Minty
  11. Woody
  12. Floral
  13. Smoky
  14. Fruity
Awaken your senses and experience mindful eating.

Turn On your senses ... live a fit life!
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You Are What You Eat: Lunchtime energy foods

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nutsEach 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!

What do we want from our lunches? Well for me:
  • I want to replenish the energy stores I have used all morning long.
  • I'd like to get enough energy from my lunch to get through until my small afternoon snack.
  • I need to feed the beast -- I am starving by lunchtime.
  • My lunch should be something to look forward to because it is going to taste so good.
Mostly, besides my insatiable appetite and taste buds, it is all about energy!

So, let's take a closer look at what energy foods are and how we can make sure our lunches have 'em.

Continue reading You Are What You Eat: Lunchtime energy foods

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Taking a look at diabulimia

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When you hear the word anorexia or bulimia, do you instantly conjour up images up rail-thin models or somethings similar? The fact is that both of these weight-related (and eating related insofar as bulimia) disorders affect a percentage of the population above and beyond the population segment that jumps to mind pretty fast.

But did you know that there are diabetic bulimics, known as diabulimics? Those suffering from bulimia are generally close to normal weight, but end up expunging much of the food they eat for fear of being overweight. That kind of topsy-turvy world is not a good thing when your system is diabetic.

This discussion over at The Diet Channel provides a very good amount of insight into the condition known as diabulimia with the needed detail regarding insulin needs referenced. In fact, diabulimics actually withhold insulin from their bodies (no injections) as a main piece of that disorder.

Just one serving of whole grains per day cuts high blood pressure

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Yes, we've heard it before: eat whole grains as part of a daily, healthy diet. Do most of you get to that serving of whole grains each and every day, though? It's tough sometimes just to get a few servings every week for some of us.

But just having a single servings of whole grains daily (just one) may be able to slash your risk of high blood pressure, and the benefits go up if you can get in more servings per days (like with every meal). A new study revealed this fact this week when published in The American journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The study concluded that developing high blood pressure over a decade fell by 4 percent when study participants ate just one daily servings of whole grains. Eat two servings, and see an 8 percent decline. The funny thing is how easy it is to eat whole grains every day, even on the go. Just make sure those grains aren't mixed with chemicals and fake taste enhancers.

Exercise ain't just for the youngsters

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senior fitnessOne more reason sixty is the new thirty... As Bethany told you, more and more seniors are getting and staying in shape. And some good news in all this is exercise professionals are starting to design more workout programs specific to older populations, and fitness centers are springing up in retirement communities. Forget sitting in a rocker and reminiscing: retirement is all about setting a new record for your bench press.

The best quote in the article comes from Dr. Walter Bortz, who wrote "Dare to Be 100" and "Living Longer for Dummies." He's 77 years old, for the last 35 years he's run a marathon annually. While cautioning older people not to go all crazy with the workouts, he says, "Obviously, pain is nature's signal, but you can't be a pantywaist about pain." Excellent.

Seniors should work on four different things, according to the National Institute on Aging: endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. Oh yeah, that's vastly different from what the young 'uns are supposed to work on.

World's oldest person dies in Japan at 114

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Yone Minagawa, the Japanese lady who, at 114, was considered the oldest person in the world since January 29, 2007, died on Monday of -- not surpsingly -- old age. Though it doesn't say what she credits as the secret to her longevity, her entry on Wikipedia suggests that her sense of humor and love of social activity could have something to do with it. She's pictured here blowing out the candles on her cake at her 114th birthday, though I suspect the cake doesn't have 114 candles.

She was born in 1893, which I find is truly amazing. The title of the world's oldest person is now passed on to Edna Parker of Indiana, who is 114 also, but born a few months after Minagawa.

What $20 can buy you at the farmer's market

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People often complain that it's expensive to eat right, but in August that's not necessarily true. Plentiful harvests are showing up at farmer's markets everywhere, and fresh fruits and vegetables are for sale often for much less than you'll find at your local grocer. Marisa over at Slashfood recently asked her readers to tell her what they can buy for $20 at their local market and shared her own haul that includes no less than 19 pieces of produce!

The next time I visit my market, I'm going to take a $20 and try this challenge myself, and I'm guessing I can squeeze enough produce out of that twenty to get our family of four through several meals this week. What about you? What will $20 buy you at your local farmer's market?

Mayo Margaritas and other Japanese nutrional terrors

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Remember this thing? It made me seriously consider the unhealthy influence that the American diet has over the once-healthy eating habits of other countries. Now I'm even more convinced that the Japanese are on the slippery path to deep-fried gluttony that North America slid down many moons ago because of this: Mayo Margaritas.

Wait, that's not all. Mayo is taking Japan by storm and is now served in or alongside fondue, cocktail weiners, fried chicken, soba noodles, cocktails, tempura -- you name it. Aside from the occasional blot of mayo on a sushi role, I can't see mayo being a tasty addition to Japanese cuisine, but they love it. Those who are especially fond of mayo even have their own nickname: Mayolers.

They certainly could have picked a healthier item to be crazy about -- mayonnaise is notoriously high in calories and fat. But I suppose it's the creaminess that makes it craze-worthy, and creamy seems to go hand-in-hand with fat and calories. Still, I'm not going to become a Mayoler anytime soon. Are you?

Running barefoot

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Though I spent many a day of my youth without proper shoes, these days, the only time I go barefoot outside of the house is when I'm recklessly dancing at a wedding. I once went on a 3-day jungle trek through Northern Thailand with a guide who didn't wear shoes the whole time, through swamps and over logs, across branches and bushes and rice patty fields. I looked on with some sort of odd bohemian envy that he could live with little more than god gave him and I needed my expensive sneakers, which still gave me blisters. We were born without shoes, so why do we need them now? Because we've become weak, that's why.

There's a movement out there that I read about on Mark's Daily Apple called the Primal Health philosophy.They believe that the closer we are to nature, the better. Which mean -- you guessed it -- the less we rely on shoes, the better, even when running. There are lots of reasons behind the idea of running shoeless, including this one:When we run in shoes, our heels are the first parts of our body to hit the ground. But if we were to run shoeless, we wouldn't do this. Running with our heels first adds unnecessary impact to the joints in our leg. Interesting. If you want to read more, check out the original post.

Still, before we had shoes, we also didn't have pavement and unforgiving urban landscapes. So I'm sticking to my running shoes for now at least. What about you?

Personality plays a role in IBS

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Irritable bowel syndrome may have something to do with your personality, a study shows. The condition, which is characterized by inflammation of the gut and embodies moderate to severe symptoms like diarrhea and constipation, may be linked to anxiety and stress.

I believe it -- mostly. I have IBS and I'm also an anxious person, despite my best attempts to be laid-back. I saw a naturopathic doctor who went as far as to tell me that it was really just all in my head and if I learned to calm down I could be rid of IBS. And while I think what he says has some sort of merit, I think that's over-simplifying the problem. 'Calming down' (read: changing my entire personality) isn't very easy, and I have severe symptoms whether I am in super-stressed-out mode or on relaxed-vacation mode.

What do you think about all this?

The changing meaning of "organic" foods

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If you pay attention to natural foods and the organic foods marketplace, you've probably seen an explosion of "all-natural" and "organic" foods outside of the once-small health food store marketplace and into mainstream retailers.

But have organic food manufacturers increased production by a thousand percent or are the loosely-defined terms like "organic" losing their luster. I think it's a little bit of both. However, if you really want organic food, make sure the "USDA Organic" symbol appears on the package. I've seen plenty of fraudulent packages recently that claim an "organic" marketing message bu are full of synthetic ingredients.

So again I'll ask: has the very definition of "organic" changed? Are the organic foods from 10 years ago the same quality as organic foods today? Have organic agricultural practices moved to the point where the supply chain is 10 to 20 times larger than a decade ago? That's hard to believe, but with the ever-increasing "organic" foods marketplace, we have to ask these questions.

WholesomeWear: For when you really want to cover up at the beach

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Spend an hour on the beach this summer and you'll find swimsuits in ranging from barely-there to more-than-modest. String bikinis are all the rage for those who can (and sometimes those who can't) pull them off, and those who want more coverage often choose skirted one-pieces and boy shorts.

Our friends over at Styledash recently introduced us to WholesomeWear, which may be the least swimsuit-like swimwear I've ever seen -- a fitted body suit with a dress-like cover up that extends to the knees. WholesomeWear seems to be more about modesty (to the extreme) than hiding that cellulite. Fathers of teenage girls everywhere probably wish these suits were required dress at the beach, but I think that swimming and frolicking on the shore may be hard with all that material (not to mention hot). What do you think?

Heart risk: use tape measure, not weight scales

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Feeling those newer jeans more around the waist? Oddly, clothes are a great way to measure weight, as we've all felt the "pressure" of eating too much with the button on those pants almost popping off at some point -- generally around holiday meals.

But that tape measure used around the waist is actually a great way to determining possible heart disease risk later in life instead of using that old enemy, the weight scale.

Another study this week came out to declare that waist size is yet again a better way to determine heart issues in the future compared to the daily fluctuation in actual weight most of us experience (mostly due to water weight I've found out). So, keep that measure tape handy right next to the scale, okay?