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Health (209 posts)
No matter what happens in your day to day, mindfulness matters. Here's a few new reasons why to get present about your present.
Living to Live, Not Eat
Eating with your non-dominant hand (say, lefties eating popcorn with their right hand hand or righties eating with their left) may cause you to consume less food, The LA Times reported last week, because it disrupts your habits and causes you to be more aware of what you're consuming.
The Fear Factor
This month researchers at the University of Cambridge found that putting 14-year-old and 15-year-old boys on a meditation regime increased their well being—mostly dramatically in those "who suffered from higher levels of anxiety." Totally unscientifically speaking, if a bunch of hormone-fueled teenage boys can get themselves to sit down, focus, and be still and calm....we all can. (Via Science.com)
The Exercise To Try
Breathe out your dark cloud. O magazine's Martha Beck shows us how to be mindful in five easy focusing steps.
As children in school, we all were taught about the Holocaust. At night, in bed, I used to wonder what I would do in a situation like that: would I have the courage to stand up and do something? The question stays with me, especially as I age and realize how complicated moral lines can be when it comes to one's own survival.
One of the most astonishing and uplifting things to come out of the coverage of the 9/11 anniversary is the stories of the people who risked everything to save others—not just the fireman, police, and hospital workers, but ordinary people like the gentleman who carried a woman in a wheelchair down 68 flights to safety or the man in the red bandana.
The story I've never heard before is about the private boat captains who responded to the call by the Coast Guard for help with the stranded victims on the southern tip of Lower Manhattan. In this moving new video by The Road to Resilience organization, we watch as nearly 500,000 people are saved and carried across the waters of the Hudson—an act of bravery that turned out to be the largest sea evacuation in world history.
I keep thinking about what I want to take away from this Sunday—and what I want to remember long after the day is over. Perhaps Robin Jones, the hardboiled engineer of the Mary Gellatly, best described what we should always keep in mind, in terms of all of our lives. "I believe everybody has a little hero in 'em," he says in the video. "You gotta look in there. It'll come out, if need be."
Over the years, our summers filled up with internships and odd jobs, and our beach holidays involved more sunbathing than swimming. Without regular access to a pool or pond, some of us are now tentative in the water. But with everyone from our physical therapists to our ob/gyns to our fitness trainers reminding us of the high-intensity, low-impact benefits of swimming, we're thinking more about it. That's why we decided to ask two swim coaches for their advice on getting back in the water. One more reason to dive in this weekend: average ocean water temps are still near their highest.
Ready to dip your toes in?
What would it take to change your life for the better? It may be less than you think—we’ve got mini-makeovers to help you upgrade everything from your workout to your weekend. #19: A sweet way to enjoy leafy nutritious veggies.
Whether you're a lettuce freak or salad-phobe, you'll want to try blending greens into your next fruit smoothie. Tossing in a large handful of spinach, kale, collards, Swiss chard, parsley, or romaine along with fruit and milk makes for an emerald-flecked glass of liquid sunshine, full of chlorophyll, fiber, and nutrients. Trust us, the fruit is a master of disguise—you won't even taste the greens.
For recipes go to greenmonstermovement.com.
30 days of makeovers
3 delicious smoothie recipes
Dr. Perricone's 10 superfoods
25 ingredients and recipes to keep you moving
Q: What's the best way to weigh yourself?
A: We brought our FAQ's about BMI, body comp, and pounds to two Best Life nutritionists, Stephanie Clarke, M.S., R.D. and Willow Jarosh, M.S., R.D. Before jumping on that scale, read their list of weight dos and don’ts.
Do understand what your numbers mean.
Weight isn't the only measurement that matters, but it's one of the most widely-used guidelines for assessing personal health (and for determining which countries have the highest obesity rates). Clarke and Jarosh use the Best Life formula to generate what they call "an average healthy weight." For women, start with 100 pounds and add 5 pounds for every inch over 5 feet. Expand this to include a 15% window (plus and minus) to account for different body types. So a healthy weight for a woman who is 5'5" would be within the range of 107 to 144 pounds. The Centers for Disease Control uses body mass index, or BMI, to determine that the healthy weight range for a woman who is 5'5" tall is 111 to 150 pounds. (use the CDC's calculator to see where you fit in).
I have spent far too much time studying the cats in my house and wondering—deeply, for long, embarrassing periods of time—how I could possibly turn into one and spend the rest of my life napping in the pool of sunlight on the warm, beige carpet, not so that I don't have to go to work or don't have to fix the broken water purifier in the kitchen or don't have to beat myself up for not learning Spanish or even taking a self-improving pottery class....but so that I don't have to exercise again. It's not that I am lazy. I am tired. I am busy. Most of all, I am uninspired about slapping on some jiggle-enhancing Lycra pants and lugging myself over to the dreaded giant purple ball over which I am supposed drape myself and engage in stomach-firming crunches.
Meanwhile, miles and miles away in Brooklyn, a 15-year-old boy is keeping busy watching a different kind of animal. Henry Lim, who, as the New York Times reported won a Young Naturalist Award from the American Museum of Natural History, has been observing the troop of six baboons who live in 4,000 square foot rock enclosure at the Prospect Park Zoo. Baboons, apparently, have 67 previously identified behaviors observed in the wild, which include: approach, look, grunt, lip smack, carry on back, genital inspect, eyebrow raise, short running attack, grimace, and sleep. But as young Henry told the Times, there is a "60 percent chance that a baboon will spend time sitting."
In addition, he produced a stopwatch for the reporter and recorded the following observations of one particular male baboon:
2:30pm: Sitting/shake fur
Reading this, it dawned on me that I no longer have to wish I were a cat. For all intents and purposes, minus the hair, I am a baboon.
What would it take to change your life for the better? It may be less than you think—we’ve got mini-makeovers to help you upgrade everything from your workout to your weekend. #16: Raise your heartbeat in a whole new way.
Fans of this thigh-quaking class lift hand weights, do modified push-ups, and work their core with crunches—all while furiously peddling spinning bikes.
Favored by celebrities like Kelly Ripa and Emmy Rossum, Physique 57 shifts between isometric exercises, like leg scissors and pulse squats, and deep stretches.
With the end of summer almost upon us, it can be tempting to start scheduling fall sessions at the tanning salon to feel that warm, sun-like sensation on your skin. Yes, this activity has long been known to cause skin cancer and premature aging, but according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 30 million people every year are still willing to hit the tanning bed. And if you ask them why, they'll say that a little color makes them feel sexier and look thinner. But what they may not realize is how hard it can be to stop.
Researchers at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center recently discovered that frequent indoor tanning causes changes to the brain similar to those seen in people addicted to drugs and alcohol. UV light, says senior author of the study and professor of psychiatry at the university, Dr. Bryan Adinoff, has rewarding effects in the brain—causing people to continue flocking to tanning beds despite knowing the lethal side effects [as reported by The New York Times].
Bottom line: Skip the tanning salon and opt for streak-proof self-tanner to get your glow on instead. And when the colder temperatures set in, pretend you're still basking in the hot summer rays by curling up with one of O's tantalizing beach reads.
What do you think of this study? Ever visit the tanning bed or know someone who has?
Confessions of a tanaholic
Beauty extras that'll give you more oomph
Get a foolproof summer glow
Once again, we're knocked out by the way science columnist John Tierney introduces us to...ourselves. We've been thinking about his latest all week, especially when pondering our choices of what to make for dinner, when to work out and how to spend the last days of summer. In an article about decision-making fatigue in last weekend's New York Times Magazine, Tierney explained that constantly having to choose between options can have a debilitating effect on our willpower, mood and energy levels. "Decision fatigue helps explain why ordinarily sensible people get angry at colleagues and families, splurge on clothes, buy junk food at the supermarket and can’t resist the dealer’s offer to rustproof their new car," Tierney wrote. "No matter how rational and high-minded you try to be, you can’t make decision after decision without paying a biological price." (By the way, can you guess what common ritual is "the decision-fatigue equivalent of Hell Week"?).
Still, sooner or later, we're going to over-stretch our favorite pair of Spanx or shrink our bed sheets, and when that happens, we'll have to hit the mall. As a health precaution, we're taking these bits of advice with us, extrapolated from the research Tierney presented:
1. Go to the gym first, before resisting sales and deciding between colors and prices has a chance to weaken your resolve.
2. Limit options by parking in front of the store with the items you need. The article explains that the multitude of choices available to Americans overwhelms people. By not walking past endless shops, you avoid having to decide whether to go into them.
3. If you're shopping for more than one item, start with the most expensive. The mental depletion that follows multiple decisions makes us more likely to go with the easiest choice, which isn't always the best or most affordable choice. (But changing the order of choices in the process of buying a car ended up costing some study participants $2,000 of their own money.)
4. Bring trail mix to snack on. Recent experiments have shown that the simple sugar glucose (which is found in raisins) can counteract the negative brain changes wrought by decision fatigue, and keep your impulse control in check. (Learn why just the expectation of having to make a decision makes people crave sweets.)
5. Make plans to meet friends or family for dinner so that you won't be tempted by the food court. "When you shop till you drop, your willpower drops, too," he concluded. But people with strong self-control have developed strategies to fend off decision fatigue. Find out the habits of successful deciders.
Prepare to be surprised by the health benefits of pills that contain no medicine.
2. A March report from the German Medical Association found that placebos injected intravenously are more effective than those taken orally, and that the more expensive the placebo, the higher the success rate.
3. Among patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, sham acupuncture (in which needles are inserted at nontraditional locations) worked just as well for pain relief as the real thing, according to a study in Arthritis Care & Research. And patients reported better results when the practitioner said things like "I've had a lot of success with treating knee pain" than when she said, "It may or may not work for you."
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