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Health (209 posts)
The findings, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, suggest that people who consume sweet foods are more likely to help someone afterward, and are more likely to be agreeable and friendly than people who prefer bitter or spicy foods. And, interestingly, one study revealed that people believed strangers who liked sweets were also nicer. Huffington Post has more on the story and how the metaphor of sweetness affects our perceptions.
I plan to celebrate this great news by very nicely gorging myself on Halloween candy in a very friendly manner. And to make sure the whole process stays very sweet, I'll stick to the ethical treats Good suggests in its fair trade Halloween candy list.
Go ahead, be sweet:
Grownup versions of childhood treats
Cristina Ferrare's delicious desserts
Vanilla that's anything but, well, vanilla
While the Run for Your Lives is now closed to runners, those who have the stomach to watch can purchase a spectator's pass that will allow them access to the course as well as the after-party (more information is available on the Run for Your Lives web site). A portion of all ticket sales will go towards the American Red Cross. Even though this event hasn't even taken place yet, zombie fever has already spread to other cities, and similar races are scheduled for next year in places like Boston, Seattle and Austin.
Watching the creepy video on the Race for Your Lives site made our hearts pick up the pace and got us thinking about the motivational power of zombies. If the feeling--real or imagined--of a rival breathing down our necks in a race can make us hustle, imagine how much faster we could go if we pictured that rival as a brain-eating monster? This Halloween season, we're going to try to a little experiment. When on the trail, the treadmill or even on the way to the office, we're going to pretend that we're being closely followed by a hungry posse of the undead, and that our lives depend on getting to our destination faster than usual. We may even do zombie pick-ups, in which we'll imagine being chased for two- to three-minute intervals during the course of a workout. We're getting the willies just thinking about it.
To help you form a mental image of the kind of monster than will cause you to get moving fast, here are some frightful examples:
Ordinary British pub-goers and townsfolk become deadly (if somewhat daffy) killers in the comedy film, Shaun of the Dead.
A plague turns noblewomen as well as nursemaids into flesh-eaters in lace and muslin in the novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
Wandering corpses as well as scheming survivors become equally life-threatening in the television drama, The Walking Dead (the second season premiered last night on AMC).
A friend’s “like” on Facebook recently caught my eye, in part because it was one of over 250,000 tiny thumbs up this particular post had gotten. What could be generating so much attention? I mean, how cute could this kitten video be? But no, the post was an image of a nude, gorgeous, full-figured model (you have to see the actual photograph; it’s just ravishing, and only slightly NSFW), and a personal anecdote.
The Facebook user was writing about
a sign posted near the entrance of gym. The sign said: "This summer, do
you want to be a mermaid or a whale?"
80,000+ comments follow, many quite passionate, with untold skirmishes and debates unfolding within the thread. How can it be that in this day and age, it’s shocking to say a woman doesn't need to be thin to be beautiful, to see a model who has some curves? And I’m not being PC in my language here—the model is not overweight, just a regular curvy lady who looks like a sleeker version of the bodies I see in the locker room at my gym (which is not fancy enough to feature any sort of metaphor-laden sign). It seems to me that the more actual women’s bodies we see, the more normal and accepting we feel about our own.
As the original post says, "At a time when the media tells us that only thin is beautiful, I prefer to eat ice cream with my kids, to have dinner with my husband, to eat and drink and have fun with my friends." Amen to that! And please, count me among the whales.
A documentary reveals the damage mainstream media does to women.
When Jennifer Siebel Newsom (left) learned in 2009 that she was expecting a baby girl with husband Gavin Newsom—California's lieutenant governor—she struggled to imagine how her daughter "could grow up to be emotionally healthy," she says in Miss Representation, the documentary she directed to expose how American media erodes female self-worth.
So we called Philip Gehrman, PhD, the clinical director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine program at the University of Pennsylvania. "This ultimately comes down to a biological issue," he explained. At night, when we turn off the light to go to bed, we trigger the release of the hormone melatonin, which makes us feel tired and sluggish. As we sleep in a room that stays darker longer in the morning, our melatonin levels stay elevated.
Gehrman says that any external cue that helps synchronize our body clock to the earth's 24-hour cycle is called a "zeitgeber" or "time giver." Bright light is the most powerful zeitgeber because it directly inhibits the release of melatonin. This is why it feels so much easier to get up when the July sun is streaming through your windows.
Gehrman says that the best way to get yourself up and out during the darker months is to create artificial sunlight in your home. "As soon as your feet hit the floor, flip on all the lights and start the day with gusto," says Gehrman. He adds that the blue-green part of the light spectrum in sunlight has the most potent effect on our circadian rhythms, but any standard or energy-efficient light bulb will work as a sufficient cue.
If your partner still needs the dark to sleep, hurry into the bathroom and turn on the overhead light as well as the mirror bulbs -- everything. "The brighter, the better," says Gehrman. Physical activity is another zeitgeber, so doing a few jumping jacks or arm swings will also help get you going (and it will raise your body temperature, decreasing your longing for the blankets you recently gave up). Gehrman says that you can also invest in a dawn simulator that gradually lights your room to full brightness starting about a half hour before you want to get up. "This helps trick the brain into thinking that the sun is coming up," says Gehrman. (The only problem is that it tricks the brains of everyone in the room, so your partner--and maybe even pets--will start to wake up, too.)
The shameful truth of me and candy corn is that I cannot eat it fast enough, and the whole time I kind of hate myself. I will eat until my molars audibly beg me to stop. What does it even taste like? I don't know. I just know that I will plow through an entire bag and within an hour my tongue feels like it has a chemical burn.
The line at CVS had of course not budged, allowing me a moment to look at the bag of plasticky candies in my hand and then down at my daughter in her stroller. I thought of last Halloween, when she had her first ever piece of candy. It was a Hershey's Kiss, given to her by a sympathetic neighbor in an attempt to distract her from her abject terror at the preponderance of masks around town. My daughter stared at the silvery treat for a good half an hour before we told her (why? she was perfectly happy with it as a toy!) about what happened when you took off the wrapper. She unpeeled the paper, tentatively licked it, and then her eyes bugged out with joy. The next few days she spent begging for "piece tandy? Piece tandy?"
As much as I claim to love candy corn, I don't think I've ever enjoyed eating anything as much as my child enjoyed that little morsel of chocolate. And it made me think. What kind of person do I really want to be? The one who devours handfuls of something that, realistically, I know is crap? Or someone who carefully selects a hunk of chocolate, or a favorite poem, or a piece of beautiful music, and then just truly, slowly, soulfully enjoys it? Even if it takes slightly more mental energy to slow down and choose, say, writing a letter over watching hours of reality television?
It's a lesson I'm trying to live every day-- not to rush through the cheap semi-pleasures, but rather to be patient enough to experience each moment, to examine it and then truly enjoy it. Piece tandy, indeed.
More on enjoying the little things:
Little ways to be mindful every day.
Quiet the mental chatter.
When it comes to sex, do you think you know everything you need to know? We thought we did, until we took this quiz developed by Salon.com’s relationship columnist, Tracy Clark-Flory (a smart, insightful writer who was recently given her own sex advice column). We were pleasantly surprised to learn the percentage of married adults who are largely satisfied with their sexual partner, but chagrined to hear about the fastest-growing group of people with HIV in the U.S. (find out the answers to both questions by going to Salon.com). This test, which incorporates key knowledge that sex experts think most adults are lacking, will probably take you less time to complete than it takes the average couple to have sex (8 minutes -- and that's the only answer we're giving away).
Well, turns out that we should have trusted our instincts. Earlier this week, the Federal Trade Commission accused Reebok of deceptive advertising for telling us all that wearing their EasyTone and RunTone shoes would help us stroll our way to a Jennifer Lopez-like backside. As part of a big settlement agreement, Reebok has agreed to pay $25 million in customer refunds. If you already bought a pair of these shoes, or some of the clothes from the Reebok toning apparel collection, you can apply for a refund by going to the FTC web site.
But maybe you've already grown attached to your toning-shoes-that-don't-really-tone. Over the past few years, there have been some who found the “micro-instability” of the shoes to be uncomfortable, and worried that it would lead to injuries. But many others have discovered that while the shoes’ impact on their bottoms have been negligible, they’ve been a boon for their feet. And earlier this summer, we interviewed a podiatrist who said that while she couldn’t vouch for the the slimming powers of toning shoes, she did think they were more supportive than typical flip flops. Reebok hasn't been asked to recall the shoes; they're just required to adjust their advertising claims.
if you like the feel or the looks, you can still buy them. Just know that the only way they'll help your physique is if you wear them while working out your lower body.
Here are a few things that really will help you shape up below the waist:
Bottom push-ups, single-leg circles and other exercises from a personal trainer
Lunges for your legs
The fencing workout that helped one reader take an inch off her tush
The cover story of this week’s New York magazine gets personal with a group of women whose definition of someday is totally outside the norm. They’re older moms who waited to have children, and then were lucky enough that reproductive technology (egg donors, egg freezing, surrogacy) enabled them to become mothers at 49, 50 and 54. Writer Lisa Miller, who had her own baby at age 40, explores why the sight of gray-haired, post-menopausal women chasing toddlers around the playground (or holding a pregnant belly, or breast-feeding, as in the photos that accompany the story) make other people--doctors, younger parents, grandparents, new moms under 50 but still considered to be of "advanced maternal age"--express almost hostile disapproval.
Miller stokes the controversy for the first part of the article, but then suddenly switches tack and presents research that shows that, physical and mental exhaustion aside, there may be advantages to having a baby at the same age one's friends are becoming grandparents. This both-sides-of-the-story method of reporting resonated with me. In complicated dilemmas (and parenthood is full of ethical and emotional quagmires), it’s easy to choose sides, but it’s much harder to show why something could be wrong at the same time that it’s absolutely right. I finished the article feeling just as confused as ever about my own baby dilemma—but also enriched from hearing about the complexity of choices.
Can you have it all?
6 things every new mom needs to know
For some women, being an aunt is better than being a mom
You may have heard about popular bone-building medications like Fosamax, Boniva and Atelvia, and you may have figured that, because they're prescribed to many women with osteoporosis (your mom, your aunt, some of your coworkers), they'll be your back-up plan should you, too, have problems with your bones. But while these bisphosphonates have been shown to be effective in reducing fractures in women with osteoporosis, they’ve also been connected to abnormal fractures in the femur as well as a rare disease in the jaw bone. In response to concern of the long-term safety of bisphosphonates, the F.D.A. recently issued a staff report, and asked two panels to review the drugs and make recommendations. The takeaway is that because these oral medications can be stored in the bones, the F.D.A. said that women can safely stop taking them after five years--and in fact, it might not be a bad idea to do so.
Strong, dense bones could help you avoid this type of medication altogether -- as well as the complicated cautions and advisories. Here are 4 drug-free ways to strengthen your skeleton:
1. Because the rate of fractures increases in those who don't get enough calcium, eat plenty of dairy, spinach, tofu and almonds. Use calcium supplements with Vitamin D to bring you up to a total of 1,000 mg of calcium per day.
2. Make sure your workouts include weight-bearing exercises like strength training, jogging, tennis and hiking (especially with the weight of a pack) stimulate bone growth. (When hitting the trail, avoid these 7 hiking mistakes)
3. Think about also taking up yoga, which improves balance and can increase mineral density in the spine. (Try Dr. Oz's morning yoga routine)
4. Give yourself one more reason to give up cigarettes and boozy nights out: Smoking and heavy drinking increase the risk of osteoporosis.
What one calcium-aholic learned about supplements
How to spot osteoporosis symptoms
More ways to bolster your bones