Tuesday, 18 September 2007

What does your carb pyramid look like?

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Mark over at Mark's Daily Apple recently posted a picture of his carb pyramid -- meaning he illustrated what kind of carbs he eats and how often. I really like the idea so I did my own. As you can see, I am no artist, but this should get across my carb intake in a typical week.

I think I'm doing pretty well -- I avoid the bad carbs, but I'm human so I haven't cut them out altogether. I stick to whole wheat carbs, except when I go for sushi -- my favourite place doesn't offer the choice of brown rice. And I try to get most of my carb intake from fruits and veggies.

What does your carb pyramid look like?

The power of desire affects our choices

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According to a new study, when we want something badly, the power of our desire can sometimes lead us to make strange, uncharacteristic choices. So if you've ever found yourself starving at a restaurant and ordering the double bacon cheeseburger with cheese fries, even though you were originally craving sushi and don't even like burgers, bacon or fries, there's a reason behind it. Your food cravings made you do it.

On the other hand, if you're turned off by food at the moment you decide what you eat, you tend to make more 'safe' choices. This makes sense -- it explains why we turn to comfort foods when we're feeling down.

Still, choosing things that we normally wouldn't isn't necessarily a bad thing ... it's good to add variety to your life every now and then. But take a moment to think about your choices -- especially the big ones.

Avoid getting bored with your workout

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Doing the same thing every day can get old -- fast! That's why it's called a routine ... because it is. If you're bored with your workout, don't fret -- it happens to everyone. But don't let it derail your healthy intentions. Here are some suggestions from eDiets on how to keep from getting bored with fitness:
  • Find a workout buddy
  • Try something new
  • Take a class
  • Try out new gadgets
If all else fails, take a break from your workout -- a temporary one. You'll come back to your routine feeling refreshed and ready to experience the benefits of exercise once again.

How do you keep your routine fresh?

Taking a closer look at common foot myths

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Think you can't walk on a broken foot? How about trying to relieve ingrown toenail pain by cutting into your toenail? Those and other myths are being dispelled in a new report from foot experts.

Are bunions caused by those new shoes (or old ones)? Not according to foot surgeons, who blame those painful foot issues with the genetics that cause faulty foot structures in the first place.

It's interesting to see that 19 out of the 26 bones in your feet are in the toes themselves, and specialized surgeons are sometimes the only ones who can help correct foot deformities (as slight as they may be) and other issues that you may be blaming on other factors.

Exercise-related asthma is prevalent in college athletes

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A recent study done on college athletes in Ohio has revealed that a large number of them have exercise-induced asthma -- in fact, 42% of those tested had the condition, and for 36% of those, it was the first time they had received a diagnosis of asthma. The reason? The symptoms and their causes are often overlooked in athletes.

I can see why. I have exercise-induced asthma, and for years I thought my symptoms happened because I was out of shape (even though I worked out often.) Exercise-induced asthma causes lung functioning to significantly decrease when undergoing aerobic activity, so it's important for athletes to be aware of.

Wondering if you might have exercise-induced asthma? If you feel like you had a tight band around your chest, whenever you run, preventing you from taking in enough air, you just might. Talk to your doctor.

Nearly 1/3 of teens have tried methamphetamine

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A recent survey found that most teenagers aren't using meth (that's the good news!) and that they strongly disapprove of taking it. But the same survey dug up troubling data: 1 in 33 kids say they've tried meth and those who use it started at an average age of 12. Not only that, but 25% of kids report that if they wanted to take meth, it would be fairly easy to get their hands on. Perhaps most troubling of all, few kids reported talking to their parents about meth, whether they were using it or not. For more about methamphetamine, visit the NIDA's website.

Prostate health not guaranteed by 'tomato diet'

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If you're adding lycopene to your diet through supplements or more tomato eating, a new study hopes you aren't doing it to decrease your chances of prostate cancer.

Male prostate cancer is no laughing matter, and according to the study, carotenoids like lycopene and tocopherols (which are forms of vitamin E) are not the tools that will help you prevent the chances of developing prostate cancer.

This study did involve quite a few variables, as the blood levels of 10 micronutrients were studied on almost 2,000 males from eight countries in Europe. The study was to determine if any of those micronutrients had an effect on prostate cancer development, or, more specifically, prostate malignancies.

Chronic Fatigue and digestive problems linked

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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is one of those mysterious ailments -- there's no known cause and no cure either. But there might be hope on the horizon for those battling overwhelming exhaustion every single day -- researchers in California are suggesting that CFS might be linked to digestive health.

More specifically, CFS has been linked to the presence of enteroviruses in the gut ... in fact, 80% of patients tested had enteroviruses. But while these findings are hopeful, they're still very new and there's no need to demand an endoscopy from your doctor just.

Think you might have CFS?

The newest weight loss pill, Lorcaserin, is delayed

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Just what we need, another weight loss pill. I really think less money needs to be spent on drugs and quick fixes and more on education and making healthy options more readily available. So I'm not upset that we may have to wait longer than expected for Lorcaserin, the latest weight loss medication from Arena Pharmaceuticals. The delay is to assure that heart side-effects (Lorcaserin is a descendant of Redux) aren't an issue and there won't be a repeat of past disasters.

Arena Pharmaceuticals is confident they've found and fixed the problem and that Lorcaserin is safe, but we've all heard that before.

Tired? Or Depressed?

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Being tired is a normal part of life -- we all can admit to feeling drained, exhausted, ready for bed even though it's only 7pm. But a lack of energy and too much sleep can be a sign of depression -- how do you know if exhaustion is normal or a sign of something deeper?

Glee Magazine has put together a great article on depression and exhaustion that you should check out if you're concerned about you energy levels or those of someone elses. One telltale sign that you might be depressed? If you wake up from a long sleep and still don't feel refreshed, something might be amiss.

Osteoporosis drug found to actually decrease bone-related deaths

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It's slightly comforting to see that an osteoporosis drug intended to prevent bone fractures and other problems actually prevents deaths due to those situations. Medical experts said this week that the osteoporosis rug Reclast caused 35 percent fewer fractures in patients taking the drug, along with 28 percent fewer deaths.

Normally, I am skeptical of claims like this unless it is backed with verifiable data and clinical studies without any outside influence (that's increasingly hard to find), and this no study is any different.

Although no other osteroporosis drug in the last 15 years has showed the results Reclast has, all variables must be equal or the comparison is invalid, right? I'm not against Reclast, but where are all the specific results from this study? Not in the story, of course.

What to do with Tofu

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Unless you live under a rock, you've probably heard of Tofu, a Japanese soybean curd. It's a low-fat protein alternative, and guess what? It's not just for vegetarians. I for one eat it all the time.

But unless you've been cooking with tofu for a while, you might be at a loss for what to do with it. Here are some suggestions from Glee Magazine:
  • Firm tofu is mostly used in stirfrys. I also use it ground beef substitute in recipes like pasta sauce, and when I'm craving fried chicken, I'll sometimes bread it with some spices and fry it. It's delicious!
  • Soft tofu is good in soups and in dips
  • Silken tofu has a custard-like texture and is a great dairy-free dessert alternative
  • Baked Tofu is marinated with a variety of flavours and is great in sandwiches.
The thing to remember with Tofu is that it's very versatile -- it doesn't have much flavour so it it easily picks up other flavours.

How do you cook your tofu?

Physicians' dress code under review in Britain

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It's something that's probably decades overdue, but doctors in England will soon have those neckties, wristwatches, long sleeves and even those long white coats banished from the workplace.

You see, all that garb can make deadly infections spread all over a hospital, since a normal doctor may visit several patients and other areas each day (or each hour). All those items are potential carriers of disease.

This move should be a requirement for any modern hospital, yes? It's odd to think that a doctor be outfitted like a clean-room computer technician, but that is exactly what is needed. Let's hope hospitals in the U.S. get with this soon.

How losing weight will save you money

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When you're embarking on a new healthy routine, the costs can seem daunting. Gym memberships aren't cheap, and signing up for a weight-loss program like Weight Watchers isn't either. Plus, eating at fast-food chains is cheap and convenient -- cooking you're own healthy meals comes with a hefty grocery bill and takes time.

But losing weight and becoming healthier will actually save you money. How, you ask? Here's how:
  • Eating less food means you're spending less money on food
  • Though cooking at home might seem like it's costing you more money because you spend it all at once on groceries, it's actually cheaper in the long run
  • And, most importantly, living a healthy lifestyle means less healthcare costs. Not only will you visit your doctor less, but your insurance premiums will be lower.
Consider healthifying your life an investment that will pay off slowly but surely over a number of years. Your health is worth it, don't you think?

Pneumonia vaccine causing ear infection side effect

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Pneumonia is a serious ailment, and any vaccine that helps prevent it in children and the elderly is generally a good thing for advanced medicine. Well, except for the drug-resistant germs it is creating that end up as ear infections in kids.

Drug-resistant mutations are common with advanced drugs, and children's vaccines are no different. But, if your child has received a pneumonia vaccine recently, let's hope he or she does not develop an ear infection due to that vaccine.

the new "superbug" is a strain of the strep bacteria that's not included in that actual vaccine, but can be promoted by that vaccine's use. Result? A new focus on childrens' antibiotics an their specific uses, most likely.

Are you ready for non-stick chewing gum?

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Chewing the right kind of gum is a good habit for many of us: it gives us something to do when we are bored at work, it entertains our gums and burns calories and it can be a great replacement for overeating. If you used to smoke, gum may have helped you quit, too.

The sugared kind with artificial colors is not my top choice, though. Regardless of the type you choose to chew, isn't it annoying when that bubble pops and leaves a sticky mess everywhere?

Non-stick is something you usually hear referenced with cookware, but researchers may be showing the world a non-stick chewing gum soon. It can reportedly be cleaned from hair, teeth, clothes and public objects like sidewalks with ease.

Inside the Kimkins controversy

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A number of blogs and websites have been flooded with Kimkins spam, and ours is no exception. Kimkins, a radical new(ish) weight-loss plan that is being touted as the low-fat answer to Atkin's, is fast becoming one of the most talked-about weight-loss plans, and it's not all good publicity -- in fact, the majority of it is bad.

Beside suggestions that the Kimkins program is unhealthy (you're supposed to eat only 600 calories a day,) there's much talk about the program's founder, Kimmers -- also known as Heidi Diaz. Diaz is apparently not 118-lbs as she proudly proclaims, but rather an obese recluse with a knack for scamming. I've been skeptical from the time I first heard about this diet, and frankly, I'm not surprised that this is apparently such a monumental scam.

If you're interested in learning more about the Kimkins controversy, check out this article from 3 Fat Chicks on the Diet. And remember, don't trust everything you hear.

Is Keira Knightley one of the largest actresses out there?

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Here's a scary thought -- what if super-skinny Keira Knightley was one of the heftiest celebrities out there? Well, she is if you ask her. Knightley has been quoted as saying she's 'twice the size' of most actresses. To be fair, she is quite tall, but she claims her statement is due to 'height and everything else.' All I can say is, yikes. If she's large, what does that make us normal people?

Knightley goes on to say, "When you realise that I am, at my size, one of the largest actresses there, you start to think, 'I don't think it'd be healthy for me to stay here much longer.'"

While I don't under any circumstances think that she is one of the biggest actresses out there, at least she realizes that working in an industry that would lead her to believe that her petite frame is large is unhealthy.

Birth defect warnings being discussed less

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A new study has stated that many doctors aren't really communicating with their female patients. As in: if you're planning on being pregnant, watch those medications you're on, as they could cause birth defects.

One would think that communication between a doctor and patient who is pregnant would be the top priority. Anything inside a female's system as well as what she eats and drinks before and during pregnancy can have an effect on that fetus. What's the lack of communication all about, then?

Who knows. In many cases, the interaction of prescription drugs and the makings of a newborn inside the body can mix with disastrous results, although sometimes the chance is indeed rare. It's not that women need to cease prescriptions while pregnant -- but they most definitely need expert feedback on the most appropriate way to proceed.

The secrets to strong bones

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As we age, maintaining the health of our bones becomes increasingly important. But just because you're young, doesn't mean you don't have to worry about your bones. I've met a number of 20-somethings who avoid calcium in favor of soda who break a bone every few months. As for me, the avid milk-drink, soda-avoider? I've never broken a bone.

Anyway, my point is this: Take care of your bones, no matter how old you are. I can promise you that you'll regret it if you don't. Getting your share of calcium is important, but other nutrients play a big role too -- including Vitamin D and magnesium. And just because you hate milk, doesn't mean you can't get your calcium fix -- you can find calcium in lots of veggies too.

For more all-important info on your bones, check out this article on AOL Health.

Get smarter in 30 days

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Who doesn't want to be a bit smarter? I know I do, if only to avoid misplacing my keys or forgetting someone's birthday. Becoming smarter is within your reach -- there are a number of things you can do to not only improve your mental functioning but improve your knowledge.

Here are some tips that will make you smarter in 30 days courtesy of Potential 2 Success:
  • Limit your TV-watching time to 1 1/2-hour show a day. TV really is a brain drain -- half of your brain literally falls asleep
  • Stop procrastinating
  • Reduce your stress. When you're stressed, you can only think about one thing, meaning your brain rejects any new information. Relax.
  • Expose yourself to new experiences, new cultures and new activities.
  • Avoid people who might hinder your intelligence growth. Spend time with those who challenge you.
And like any muscle, if you don't use your mind, you'll lose it. So do the crossword or something else that challenged you. I swear you'll notice a difference. What do you think?

FitLinks: Support is a three-letter word

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Think that sports bra is working? Think again. Recent research suggests that typical sports bras aren't doing enough to support women during their workout. When comparing compression bras -- which tend to simply flatten the breast -- to encapsulation bras that support each breast individually, the encapsulation bras won, hands down. But they still may not be good enough, especially with those of you who have more to support. Luckily, manufacturers are working on a bra with "smart" technology that will keep things in place so that you can enjoy your workout without pain or annoying tugging on those straps.

In the meantime, here are some links to help you choose a good sports bra. Does anyone have any brands they'd like to add to this list?

About.com's Top 10 Sports Bras for Women

Zafu's Great Sports Bras That Fit

FitSugar recommends Fiona

Life Fit with Laura Lewis: Super charge your life

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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.

Want to clean up your act with a supercharged life? If you are like most Americans, you are constantly trying to find the necessary energy to accomplish everything on your "Life Task" plate. Kids, career, spouse, friends, workout, errands ... the daily operations of life have a way of sucking our energy right out and leaving us depleted. In order to find the energy to check everything off our list each and every day, we typically stock up on caffeine and other energy (read: junk) foods.

Fortunately, there are better--and healthier--ways to energize your body, mind and spirit. And remember, supercharging all three aspects of your life are equally important. Without a sharp, clear mind, your body will still feel sluggish. Without a clear and grounded spirit, your mind and body are unable to realize their full potential. To super charge your life, you must be holistic in your method.

If you want to have energy, rather than have to find energy, follow these five tips for supercharging your life:

  1. Have a cuppa chamomile. Non-caffeinated, herbal teas such as chamomile, valerian root, peppermint and ginseng have been widely known for centuries to aid the mind and body in alleviating stress and enriching relaxation. Peppermint and ginseng are wonderful as early morning energy boosts, while chamomile can ease you into a stress-free evening. Green Tea can increase your metabolism which will provide additional energy while at the same serving as a natural fat-burner by destroying free radicals that can cause significant damage to the body and enhance the aging process.
  2. Move it or lose it. Inactivity is the best way to sabotage our energy. While it may seem like the opposite should be true, sitting at a desk or computer all day an wreak havoc on our energy level. If you do not move your body, you will lose your desire to do so! For many, post-office hours are just as hectic as the 9am-5pm (Which is really a joke, because honestly--who works only 9-5 these days?). If you can't exercise pre-work, take your lunch hour and hit the sidewalk, the gym or even walk the hallways and stairs at your actual office. A quick 30-45 minute exercise routine will not only break up the monotony of the day, but will also give you the boost you need to get through part two of your workday without sneaking off to vending machine for guilt-packed "energy" foods.
  3. Eco-Size. Challenge yourself to get out of the car and start peddling. One way of keeping myself motivated is to bike around town rather than drive. I bought myself a cute bike with a basket. I love riding "Rosie" in town. The fresh air and waves and nods of neighborly drivers always super charges my attitude while I super charge my energy. And, knowing that I am contributing to one less car on the road in that moment of time always leaves me feeling energized.
  4. Endorphin enlightenment. Endorphins are addictive. Endorphins are the wonderful result of exercise. These feel good hormones are secreted in the brain and nervous system and serve to motivate us to exercise more and more. Each time we exercise, our bodies secrete more of this feel good hormone. Endorphins enhance brain functioning and mood--two must-have superchargers!
  5. Rainbow bright. Eat a rainbow of colors in order to ensure balanced nutrition. Every meal should include fresh, leafy greens along with a variety or red, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables. The more colorful and fresher the food, the more nutrient dense your meals will be and the more energy your food will be providing you!

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The Daily Turn On! I love myself!

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Life is too short not to be fully "turned on." The Daily Turn On! energizes all aspects of "you." Everyday The Daily Turn On! with That's Fit Life Fit expert Laura Lewis will awaken your mind, your body and your life!

Are you addicted to exercising? Have you ever wondered why? What motivates you to do the ten more crunches? Run just one more mile? Push through the pain? Are you motivated by self-love or self-loathing?

If you really want to create positive change in your life, check your attitude. If you want to create lasting self improvement, check your attitude. When it comes to creating real change, why you exercise is just as important as how exercise.

Be aware of the power of your mind. You truly are in control of your health, well-being, and life! Keep a positive attitude and surround yourself with others who have the same mindset. Those complainers want to drag everyone down with them. Be also keenly aware of your thoughts and "self-talk." Quit telling yourself, "I'm bad." Start saying to yourself, " I love myself!" "I feel great!" "I deserve a wonderful life!" I am grateful for all the good I have in my world!" Believe it. Feel it. Your life is a gift. Make each moment of every day count and focus upon creating joyous happy memories.

Action Tips:
  • Be an objective observer of your life. Keep track of how often you speak negatively to yourself and rephrase your self-talk.
  • Keep only positive people around you.
  • Try to dwell upon the end result of difficult tasks or situations at hand, and focus on the positive. Think about creating a great day. When you wake up in the morning before rising, close your eyes and imagine your day as being happy and productive. Imagine people smiling at you when you smile. Connect with how you feel when you are happy. Lock in that feeling. Be grateful for the good things in your life, no matter how small. You will become a magnet for joy, your self-love will grow and grow.
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Daily Fit Tip: Cut out salt and use herbs instead

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The American Heart Association has recently put out a call to all Americans to cut their salt intake by 50%. Removing your salt shaker from your kitchen table isn't really enough, you need to watch the sodium in the processed foods you eat as well, such as breads, cereals, frozen foods, and any packaged goods. But learning to cook at home without salt is an excellent way to start. Learning how to use herbs when you cook can not only reduce the amount of salt you take in, but it can also open up your taste buds to new and exciting flavors. If you're a particularly big salt-o-holic, start with pepper, garlic, curry, cumin, dill, onion, or ginger to best replace the taste of your beloved salt.

Why would a doctor need acting classes?

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"I'm sorry, Dr. Smith isn't available right now. He's in theater class."


Seriously. Doctors across the country, in growing numbers, are turning to acting classes to help them improve their bedside manners.

It's really not as bad as it sounds. The goal is not to teach doctors to "act" like they care more, but instead to give them some formal training on just how big of an impact body language, attentiveness, eye contact, and verbal cues can have on a person's perception.

Considering 'bedside manner' is such an important part of what makes a good doctor good, I think this is a great idea.

Strike! Bowling keeps kids on a roll

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My kids love to bowl. Six-year-old Joey really loves it. He kept us at the lanes on Sunday for hours while he perfected his form and follow-through. Four-year-old Danny is a fan too, even though his attention for the sport peaks early and then makes a sharp decline. He keeps himself occupied while waiting for Joey, though. He hops and jumps around and climbs tirelessly on anything he can find, including his parents.

I'm always on the lookout for activities to keep my busy boys moving. I want their bodies in motion more often than not. I want them spending energy on every possible occasion. I want them tired when their little heads hit those Spiderman pillows each night. I want them healthy and hearty and physically fit. They way I see it, childhood is boot camp -- you should see the push-ups my guys can crank out, thanks to their Marine daddy -- and I want them in tip-top shape by the time they tackle life on their own.

Our family boot camp includes hiking, biking, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, scootering, skating, living-room wrestling, and even bowling. Give us a bowling alley, a few eight-pound balls, some cute multi-colored shoes, and we're on a roll.
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A $1000 football helmet that can read minds

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Helmets are something I've come to really respect, especially since I spent some time working to rehabilitate young adults who had suffered traumatic brain injuries during routine activities like playing sports and riding motorcycles. I've read that long-term and professional football players commonly suffer from negative head-impact effects like poor memory and short emotional fuses. But would you spend $1000 on a football helmet for your high school student to wear?

Riddell is hoping so, as they plan to start marketing their latest high-tech helmet creation to parents next month. The helmet not only provides state-of-the art impact protection but also tracks the location and severity of every bump and bang.

It is pretty pricey, no doubt about that, but can you really put a price on your child's health?

The cabbage soup detox

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Cabbage soup does not sound like a delicious meal to many of us (hint: it i, with the right spices), but how about using it as a detox for your body? Sounds ridiculous, right?

There is a 'cabbage detox diet,' and it takes seven days to purge the nastiness from your innards if you follow it correctly. It sounds unhealthy to eat cabbage in several forms for an entire week (only cabbage), but having done this one in the past, I can say that it works. You can guess on how the results show up, okay?

But, it has downsides as well, ones that you need to be aware of if you decide to pursue it sometime near. First off -- the blandness of the cabbage itself (this is where spices come in). More? How's this:
  • Be prepared for gas.
  • Requires will power.
  • Lacks good nutrition
  • High in salt (unless you sub in non-salt spices).
  • Not a long-term answer -- after all, it's a detox, not a diet change.

Try this Any-Time-Of-Day kiwi parfait

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Now that I've sworn off sweet treats for all of time, my mouth waters at the simplest healthy indulgence. Like this one -- the Any-Time-Of-Day Parfait. I stumbled upon this recipe while flipping through the pages of a Publix well & fit magazine, and I can't wait to build this layered number for myself. Check this out, give it a try, and let us know what you think.

The Stuff

3 kiwi fruit, peeled
1 six-ounce carton plain low-fat yogurt
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup bite-size shredded wheat biscuits, coarsely broken
1 tablespoon sliced almonds, toasted dash ground cinnamon

The How-To

Coarsely chop kiwi. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine yogurt, honey, and vanilla. Then layer cereal, fruit, and yogurt mixture into two 8 to 10-ounce parfait glasses. Sprinkle with almonds and cinnamon.

Continue reading Try this Any-Time-Of-Day kiwi parfait

Do-it-yourself lawn care counts as exercise

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Do you have a lawn guy who mows your yard, pulls your weeds, and rakes your leaves? If so, fire him! Barring an injury or illness that keeps you safe from these chores, there's no reason you can't put a little effort into your own outdoor maintenance. Consider it a two-for-one -- you get to accomplish household duties while logging some precious exercise time.

I raked a few leaves in my front yard today. Now, I mean a few. Still, when I was done, my arms ached like I'd just finished a strenuous workout. Wait, I had just finished a strenuous workout. It just wasn't the traditional in-the-gym activity that usually leaves our muscles sore. Add on some cardio (my front yard in on an incline so my body was working double-time) and I had myself a pretty good exercise session. Did I mention I'd already run 2.5 miles, cranked out my 10 push-ups -- impressive, I know -- and logged two one-minute planks before my lawn tasks began? Right now, I'm spent.

I urge you to consider spending some time working around your house. I mean really working around your house, inside and out. Exercise doesn't always have to come in the form of weight training, jogging, yoga, and the other fitness standards. It can be as simple as exerting yourself consistently while tackling everyday responsibilities. Combine it with other workout forms, and you'll be one fit cookie.
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Cadbury recalls chocolate bars due to allergy warning omission

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Cadbury, known globally for those chocolate products, is recalling thousands of its own candy bars in Britain due to the lack of nut allergy warnings placed on them. For those allergic to certain types of tree nuts, this is a biggie.

The products recalled include Dairy Milk Double Choc 250 gram promotional packs. These promo items had wrappers that were printed without the standard "may contain traces of tree nuts" or similar language.

I'm assuming this quality control issue bypassed many layers of review, but regardless, Cadbury said it will refund anybody who so desires (with proof of purchase, of course).

South LA legislators target fast food

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Sarah from Slashfood wrote a great post on this story. To combat obesity, the City Council in LA is considering a two-year moratorium on new fast-food joints in South Los Angeles. Per an LA Times analysis, South LA has the highest concentration of fast food restaurants in the city and significantly less grocery stores.

Adult obesity in South LA stands at a shocking 30 percent, and child obesity is 29 percent -- significantly higher than obesity rates for the county. Interestingly, fast food has been regulated in parts of this country, but usually for aesthetics or protection of small business, not for health.

I don't see a moratorium stopping people from eating fast food, but it is intended to give the city time to devise a long-term plan. But why not bring more farmers markets to South LA, with reduced costs for fruits and veggies underwritten by the county? Poverty-stricken areas need healthy fare within arms reach and at a price competitive to fast food's dollar menu.

Availability of healthier food is on policymakers' radar. Last year, California enacted legislation to increase the purchase of fruits and veggies to be sold in corner stores located in lower-income areas. Also, Representative Mary Bono (R-Palm Springs) introduced a bill in Congress last June that attempts to make nutritious foods available in economically depressed areas.

Are health foods making us fat?

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You can bet that when our parents and grandparents were growing up, the grocery store wasn't full of low-fat, omega-3-enriched, antioxidant-infused foods. In those days, 100-calorie packs would be seen for what they are -- a rip-off. Things were what they were, without flashy labels and empty promises. And yet, with all the low-fat food in our grocery stores, the population as a whole is much heavier than we were even a few decades ago. These so-called health foods aren't doing much for our health, it appears. Which brings up a very interesting question: Are they what's making us fat?

A new study shows that if you view an item as healthy, you tend to overeat said item. So while it might not be the item itself that's making you fat, it's your perception of it. This is understandable -- when I have butter in the fridge, I don't use it nearly as liberally as I would olive oil, even though the two items probably have roughly the same amount of calories.

So here are some things to keep in mind: Fat-free doesn't mean calorie-free. Healthy fats are better for you, but they have just as many calories as unhealthy fats. And just because the commercial says it's a healthy choice, chances are it's not. Be your own diet detective.

All those forgotten calories add up fast

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If you are a serious dieter, you probably know how to count calories well, and you may even keep a log sheet with you at all times. Some people I know use their cellphones to keep track of their daily calories.

This methodology, of course, can be derailed when you "forget" to count certain types of calories. Think that snack pack of M&Ms has no calories, and you don't have to include it? If you're really wanting to see your daily caloric intake, then those must be counted as well.

Even a few bites of a pancake in the morning from your spouse's breakfast plate can add up. It's a complete nuisance to track every single thing that goes into your mouth (trust me, I know), but to get a good feel for your calories every day, it's required at least a few times so you really can see what you're needing to burn when you get on that treadmill.

Are you in shape?

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Many people are fairly confident in their physical fitness -- whether or not that confidence is justified is another question. Just because you're thin, you could run 2 miles a couple of years ago, or you can run half a block to catch the bus without feeling winded, doesn't mean you're in shape. How do you tell if you're in shape? Well, you could take this quiz, but frankly, I think it's a bit sparse -- I scored 'Fit and a Fiddle', even though I definitely have strides to make in the physical fitness department.

If you want to know how fit you are, I suggest seeing a personal trainer. But if you ask me, if you can't do the following things, you're not in shape:
What do you think? Are there certain other fitness markers that divide the in-shape from the rest of us?

Find love at the gym

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Sometimes the gym feels like one big 'meet' market. I don't mind working out at a co-ed gym but sometimes I feel a bit ... well ... violated when I catch some guy intently watching me pump iron in my curve-hugging workout gear. What's worse, I've looked over to be greeted by the super-cheesy head nod, which I've promptly ignored (Snobbishness be darned.) The gym just doesn't seem like the best place to meet people -- and that's not just because I am not single.

But maybe I'm wrong. This article from eDiets proclaims the gym an ideal place to find love. I guess it makes sense -- if you're into healthy living and exercise, it's a great place to meet someone like-minded -- but nonetheless, I don't think I'll advocate it to my single friends. Something about making chit-chat after a run when you're drenched in sweat doesn't appeal to me. What about you?

Don't forget to wash those hands, guys

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Who has cleaner hands -- guys or gals? According to the most recent research, gals win it by a long shot. Surprised? I'm not -- women are just cleaner in every sense of the word. Well, at least from my experience.

It's kind of disgusting to hear that only 57 percent of guys who visited a restroom at Atlanta's Turner Field washed their hands after using the restroom. Anything touched in a public restroom is game for sending who-knows-what to your hands. Sound icky so far?

The researchers, who somehow managed to spy on public restrooms (the sinks only, we hope) noted that 33 percent of men did not bother to wash their hands after using the restroom, while only 12 percent of women failed to do so. Now, even though many restrooms have automatic flushers, is it still a good idea to practice actual hygiene? Of course.