Friday, 21 September 2007

Get that candy jar out of your office

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Brian Wansink knows food behavior. He directs Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab, authored "Mindless Eating" and spent hours watching people's food choices in and out of the home.

We may think we overeat if we're super hungry or the food is tasty, but according to Wansink, that's a bunch of hooey. He says visibility and convenience are the most influential motivators. Get that candy jar out of your office -- out of sight, out of reach, out of mind. In one fascinating experiment, Wansink placed candy jars stuffed with chocolate in employees' cubicles for a month. Then he moved the jars a mere six feet farther away. Subjects chowed down five more candies daily (125 calories) when the jar was nearby. I was never one to turn down the candy jar, unless it sat in the office of a supervisor I didn't like. Then I would walk more than six feet and pounce when they went to lunch!

Take that Lazy Susan off your dinner table, too. Do people still have those serving circles? Wansink states you'll consume more food if you eat "family style", directly from a bag/carton, from a big plate/container, in front of the TV, in the car or with friends. I relish the days before kids when I could totally control what food sat in the pantry. I buy plenty of healthy fruits/veggies, but the kids' treats beckon to me every day.

Daily Fit Tip: Beware taking too many meds at once

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While it's mostly an issue for older adults, mixing medications and taking too many different types at one time is a concern for everyone. Even if you're in close contact with your doctor there is still a significant risk to your health if you're on more than a couple different meds -- drugs are getting so complicated these days human error is inevitable when it comes to remembering, and predicting, side-effects and drug interactions.

How many meds are you or your loved ones currently taking? Are you aware of and watchful of potential side-effects and are you absolutely sure you need them all? When it comes to your health you are your own best ally, so educate yourself and be involved.

The Daily Turn On! Nix the naysayer

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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!

Keep charged with positive friends and nix the naysayers in your life. Many times our friends, loved ones, partner and/or spouse believe they are being supportive when they claim, "You are perfect just the way you are. You don't need to change." Or, when your best friend encourages you to stop walking daily because it's "running you down" or because she needs more time with you. Oftentimes, a partner or spouse may claim that your workouts are infringing on "us" time?

What the naysayer may not realize is that you want to change. And that, yes, sometimes you even do need to change. While their unconditional love is appreciated and important, it is equally important that you receive the support of your loved ones as you go about creating healthy changes in your life.

So, how do you nix the naysayer without nixing the relationship? The following tips will help you generate the positive support you need from your friend or significant other.

  1. Take a break. Some times it is best to just spend time away from people who struggle to support you. When you are feeling stronger in your conviction for change or have made significant progress, the naysayer will have less power or influence in your decision-making. And, once the naysayer sees your commitment to change, he or she may actually get on board with you!
  2. Be the yin to her yang. If you have a naysayer in your life, let your positive energy and commitment to success be the balance to his or her negativity. Simply put, kill it with kindness. While misery loves company, kindness will always trump!
  3. Honesty never hurt anyone. Let your naysayer know his or her lack of support is hurtful. Tell the truth and let your friend or spouse know how important her support is to you and how helpful she could be. Sometimes people fear change because they are afraid it will alienate them. Let the naysayer in your life know that his place in your life is not threatened.
  4. Create a code. Create a code word that can serve as a trigger each time your naysayer is negative. Be creative and try a word that will make you both laugh. Make your code word positive and light-hearted. Make it a game and not a punishment.
Remember, change is hard. Don't let the people in your life derail your positive progress. Stay on track and realize the life of your dreams!

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Life Fit Chat with Laura Lewis: Put more punch in your lunch!

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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 ... There is a new theory about why the French are healthier than Americans and most other Mediterranean cultures (besides the fact that they drink more wine). It is because they eat their largest meal at lunchtime and snack less. Curtis Ellison, MD, of the Boston University School of Medicine, compared fifty Parisians with fifty Botonians. He found that the French eat 57 percent of their total daily calories before 2:00 pm! After 2:00 pm, they are unlikely to eat again until 7:00 or 7:30 pm, when they usually consume lighter foods than they do at lunch.

Americans that took part in the study were found to eat only 38 percent of their total daily calories before 2:00 pm and then they snacked three hours later. Americans typically have 2.9 snacks per day, usually making up 22 percent of their total daily calories. The French only consume 1.1 snacks per day on average, making up 7 percent of tehir total daily calories.

Better to go hungry? Some longevity specialists believe a low-calorie diet slows down aging. The theory maintains that if you are "working" without food, your body probably will produce less of the bad cholesterol or LDLs.

Action Tips:
  • Eat a high-carbohydrate, low-fat breakfast. Lunch should be composed of four to six ounces of a lean protein, a large salad and two hefty servings of grains or "whole" carbohydrates.
  • Drink room-temperature water with lemon! There is no fat to speak of an an added benefit will heightened alertness after lunch,
  • Snack only on fresh whole fruit, water with lemon or lime and some form of whole grain carbs.
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That's Fit Weekly Podcast #28: September 21st, 2007

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We're always looking for fresh and innovative ways to blog about news and trends fit for helping you live a healthy life. Now, thanks to Saturn, we bring a new voice to our efforts with the launch of our That's Fit Weekly Podcast. Each Friday, we'll go from blogger to broadcaster as we discuss topics relevant to pursuing your health and fitness goals.

We are creatures of habit, and sometimes those habits can get the best of us especially when we have great intentions to improve our health through diet and exercise. What is it going to take to snap you out of old habits and integrate new "fit" ways to achieve your ultimate health and fitness goals? This week we begin the first in our series of six on "Regenerating YOU!" It's fall and regeneration is a natural process in nature. Now you have the opportunity to "Regenerate YOU" at the deepest level. Listen on and learn how to begin the process!

Have comments on our current shows or ideas for future podcasts? Or, do you have a burning health and fitness question you'd like answered on an upcoming installment? Comment right here and we'll do our best to provide the helpful information you're looking for!

There are several ways to receive the That's Fit Weekly podcast: Subscribe to our RSS feed, through iTunes, or just click on the MP3 file link directly below! -- your choice!

Receive That's Fit Weekly Podcast using one of these methods:
[RSS] Add The That's Fit Weekly Podcast feed to your RSS feedreader and have it delivered automatically
[MP3] Download the podcast directly
[iTunes] Subscribe to the podcast directly in Apple iTunes

Laura Lewis

File Format

8:56:00 length, 8.18 MB size, MP3 format (128kbps)

September 28th , 2007 Program: Tune in to learn how to regenerate your body at the cellular level, to create new and improved building blocks for your new and improved body.

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Take a Child Outside Week starts Monday

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It may seem pretty basic but starting Monday, all parents are urged to nudge their kiddos into the outdoors. Why? Because the week of September 24 has been dedicated as "Take a Child Outside Week."

The brainchild of Liz Baird, director of school programs for the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, this week came about after Baird took a neighborhood walk one beautiful evening and noted the glow of television sets coming from nearly every window she passed. So yep, it's pretty basic. Turn off your TVs. And get the kids outside.

Research links a lack of outdoor activity to depression, obesity, and stress in children. Exposure to nature, on the other hand, fuels creativity, builds self-sufficiency, and activates the senses. Don't you remember roaming free when you were a kid? Today's children may not have such fond memories unless we shove them out the door because unstructured outdoor activity is down by half from the previous generation. Let's change that -- and not just for one week.

Working in the Workouts: What do the experts say?

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

I admit, I haven't been stellar with my exercise routine the last week or so, and another admission -- my creativity is wearing out, fast.

So this week, I turn to the experts at Baby Center (I use the term loosely) for some ideas about how to make time for exercise.

Did I gain any insight? Sadly, no, but it made me feel good about what I am doing. I've incorporated some of their ideas, which really work better for younger babies, like using a stroller or carrier for hikes and walks. I've also gotten childcare so I can walk, which they suggested, and used exercise videos (my good ol' yoga).

Although the other ideas don't work for me, you might find Baby Center's tips of using a gym with childcare or joining a stroller exercise class fits you and your baby.

Me? I'm sticking to me strength training in the mornings and my walks and yoga when I can get it.

Do you have any ways that you fit in the exercise that we all haven't thought of yet? Please, enlighten us!

Blotting pizza cuts calories, fat

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My little boys are fans of the kids' cheese pizza sold at the sandwich shop Schlotsky's. It's not what I'd first choose for them to devour -- it contains 479 calories and 13 grams of fat -- but they love it. And I love when they actually eat, so I mostly oblige when they request this cheesy treat. To make myself feel better about their food choice, which happens to come with a side of grease, I blot the top of their meals with napkins and try to sponge up every bit of oily stuff I can manage. Does my strategy accomplish much? I don't know. Still, it makes me feel better.

While flipping through the September 12 issue of Woman's Day magazine last night, I got my answer. "Blotting your pizza with a napkin can soak up around 30 calories and three grams of fat," read a little blurb on page 20. So my technique works, to some degree. My kids are now ingesting 449 calories and 10 grams of fat. Not ideal. But better.

Teaching kids to read nutrition labels

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It's quite enlightening to hear than a 10 year-old in the U.S. reads food labeling when shopper with her mom, but that is just what Marie Grandguillotte does every time she goes shopping at the local grocer. Marie says that reading food labels was "a little bit confusing, but after a while I got used to it."

That is the sign of a well-informed person, and I'll venture a guess that little Marie does what most U.S. adults do not. If even one percent of the kids did this in the U.S. and knew how to make nutritional choices based on that information, we'd see massive health benefits from it.

So far, flashy colors and goofy kid-targeted marketing are winning, as they always have been. The worst are the free prizes in sugary breakfast cereals, most of which easily fall into the junk food category. It never hurts to pop out one of those boxes and explain to your fifth-grader what all that nutrition information means.

Tune out to slim down

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I'm guilty. When I turn on the TV, I want to eat. Not such a bad thing now that I mostly snack on fresh fruit, but when cookies and candy were on my shopping list, watching TV was downright dangerous.

The more entertaining the television show, the more we tend to eat mindlessly, says Alan R. Hirsch, M.D., of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago. Programs that really capture our attention also expand our waistlines, according to Hirsch, who recommends we stop watching TV altogether, TiVo our favorites for times when our tummies are full, or trade the fun shows for boring ones.

You can also give my plan a try: Ditch all junk food and snack only on fresh fruits and veggies. Surely, enjoying an apple while watching Survivor never hurt anyone.

Are we over-tolerant to obesity?

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Scotland's Sunday Herald has printed a fairly scathing article on our attitudes to obesity, claiming that we are far to tolerant to fatness in North America and the UK. In other parts of Europe, the writer argues, fatness would be not be as acceptable -- hence less people are obese in such countries. But in the US and UK, being unhealthily obese is perfectly ok. In her words, it is a 'comfortable' experience to be obese.

What do you think about this? On one hand, I think the writer has a point -- obesity is not as socially acceptable in Europe. In France for instance, normal-weight people like myself even feel uncomfortably large compared to the svelte Parisians. But I don't think ridiculing obese people and making them feel out of place is the answer. Still, what is?

(Via Diet Blog)

Are intelligence and IQ the best ways to study brain activity?

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Are IQ tests the best way to determine intelligence? For a standardized way to get everyone on the same playing field, I suppose it is the best method yet. But, according to researcher Rex Jung, we need to understand how the brain works by studying how it is put together so we know why it unravels for some of us.

Jung went through mountains of neuroscience literature looking for studies that analyzed reasoning and measures of intelligence. What he concluded after studying the studiers was that scientists need to look at intelligence in a more systematic way rather than as a whole.

Do the brains between two people differ from each other? Sure they do, and sometimes in massive ways. Biologically speaking, there is little difference, but when it comes to the "wiring," there can be fundamental differences. Measuring intelligence using a method that doesn't account for all this bias, in turn, can be a road to nowhere. But, hey -- it's the best we have at the moment.

New tampon model cuts toxic shock syndrome

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Menstrual toxic shock syndrome is fatal for women everywhere, although the death rates from it are low compared to other conditions. But, with TSS, it may be easily preventable in many cases if a new kind of tampon makes its way to market.

On the new tampon design, a fiber layer called glycerol monolaurate (GML) was found to reduce the production of a toxin that directly leads to most cases of TSS. GML is already used in many food products.

In recent research, the new fiber coating not only did away with toxin production, but promoted vaginal health, as it created an environment in the vaginal area where there is a balance of protective bacteria.

How to survive a gas station run-in without ruining your diet

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When I take a road trip, I tend to eat less healthfully then usual. My rationale? It will be next to impossible to find something healthy at the convenience stores along the way, so I might as well let loose. Pretty lame justifacation, huh? Yeah, I know.

The awesome Mark's Daily Apple has put together a video on how to make healthy choices when you're on the go. He raids a convenience store and shows us what to get and what to avoid. A major no-no? Muffins and carrot cake. Instead, try to find snacks that are a good source of protein and/or fiber. Like? Well, you'll just have to watch the video to find out.

What's your go-to convenience snack?

Reboot your brain with a walk

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Don't you hate when you're working through a problem, or trying to generate new ideas, and your brain won't seem to work? While you might be compelled to push through these times of creative atrophy, chances are that'll just make you frustrated. Instead, your best bet to jump-start your brain is to get up and talk a walk.

It doesn't have to be a hour-long trek, even five minutes will do. However, keep in mind these three tips, offered to by Lifehacker, a productivity blog:

1. Ditch the backpack and briefcase, you don't want to be weighed down.

2. Imagine that, even if you're walking in a familiar area, that you'll never see these buildings and space in the same order again.

3. It's about the journey -- not the destination. Even if that journey means pausing on a park bench, or popping into your favorite bookstore to see what's going on.

So reboot, refresh, and get walking -- just don't forget to take a pen and paper, so you can be ready when the ideas start flowing!

Why an mp3 player may soon be in your doctor's office

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The stethoscope in your doctor's office may be on the way out, and an mp3 player may be on the way in. No, doctor's aren't jamming to tunes while assessing patients, but instead are using the gadgets to better hear breath sounds and everything else they used to listen to with a stethoscope. By pressing a microphone to the chest doctors and nurses get much better sound quality, and can even record and replay what they hear and store the sounds on computers for others to reference later.

Stethoscopes have been around for over 200 years, and although there will always be some uses for them I say there's no shame in retirement!

'Quiet' lung cancer genes can lead to a malignancy

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Although the understanding of human genes and how they relate to the onset (and prevention) of certain diseases is only just beginning, one that comes to mind for many of us relates to cancer. Is there a gene or set of genes responsible for it?

In recent news, the activity of a group of 15 genes was found to have a negative outlook when it came to lung cancer malignancy. That is, the genes -- which normally protect lung cancer according to research -- may in fact help lung cancer develop if their activity is somehow suppressed.

Researchers looked at 25 people with lung cancer and 24 without it and were 96 percent accurate in identifying those with cancer simply by analyzing these 15 genes. Now, the march goes on to see why these genes were less active (not that expressed, apparently) in some than in others.

Ultra-thin pedometer is a stealth way to count your steps

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This fun ThinQ model 303 pedometer is only 3mm thick -- about the size of a credit card. So if you're the sort of person who isn't really into fitness, but would still like to know how much exercise you're getting on your walk to the office, or during your evening strolls around the neighborhood, this is perfect.

Because, let's be honest: even if you'd like to pretend you're too cool for physical activity, you're (hopefully) getting at least some exercise during your day-to-day routine. This is a good thing. You can expand on this. You'll feel better for it -- I promise.

And now you can see how many steps you're taking and calories you're burning, simply by opening you wallet -- allowing you to optimize your daily activities so that they incorporates even more little moments of fitness. Awesome!

Secondhand smoke may lower test scores

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Lighting up cancer sticks at home hurts your kids' lungs -- it may also hurt their high school test scores. According to a new study in the Journal of Adolescent Health, 16-18 year-olds sucking in secondhand smoke suffer academic consequences -- a whopping 30 percent decrease in the odds of passing standardized achievements tests.

Interestingly, the researchers set out to analyze prenatal smoking's impact on adolescent test performance. They discovered secondhand smoke exposure was worse than prenatal. The study does not explain why secondhand smoke increases test failures rates, but prenatal smoke exposure has been connected with a higher risk of cognitive and academic defects, impulsivity and even learning disabilities.

About one-third of women in their childbearing years smoke, while up to 60 percent of kids may be exposed to secondhand smoke in the home. Quitting is rough stuff. Keep trying! At the very least, don't light up in the home or car -- head outside.

Can you learn to 'direct' your dreams?

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I think we'd all like to be able to control and "direct" our dreams, especially the fun ones where we're flying or have just won the lottery. Very few people ever get to experience what's called a "lucid dream," but there are some out there who claim it's a skill that can be taught. Although there is some debate on whether people can just interact and change the course of a current dream or if they can custom-design a dream from the ground up, retreats and courses are available across the country for those who want to give it a try. And the phenomenon is even hitting Hollywood, with several hit movies having been inspired by lucid dreams.

I think lucid dreaming is possible, although I'm not so sure about taking courses or classes to learn how. And to me part of what makes a dream a dream is the fact that you can't control it.

Exercise may help depression just as much as drugs do

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Depressed? Instead of firing up that Prozac or other depression drug this evening, why not form a battle plan to get some daily exercise at the local gym?

New research has concluded that regular exercise may work just as well as many common depression medication in improving those symptoms .

The research involved 202 depressed adults who were followed. Some of those studied went through group-based exercise therapy. The others were treated with an antidepressant drug.

Results? Those in group-based exercise routines fared just as well against their depression symptoms as those on medication. Those who participated in home-based exercise therapy also improved, although to a lesser extent compared to those with the social commitment to a group.