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January 2012

Hot Topic Tuesday: Do You Throw a Healthy Party?

Written on January 31, 2012 at 12:27 pm , by

A tray of sliced veggies and hummus—that's one smart Super Bowl snack. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

With the Super Bowl just days away, many will be hosting gatherings for friends and family to cheer on the athletes (and let’s not forget, enjoy the commercials and halftime show)! Just like around holidays, some consider this as an occasion to indulge—the Super Bowl happens only once a year, right?

According to a recent National Restaurant Association survey, 42 percent of Americans say that nutritious options are a mandatory part of their game day spread. While it’s certainly better than none, this means about six in 10 get-togethers may not have healthy choices for fans. For some, a Super Bowl party just doesn’t feel right if a pizza delivery man isn’t invited! We enjoy throwing parties that include options to please all palates and dietary needs (click here for some of our favorite nutritious, crowd-pleasing snacks), but understand that some don’t consider bruschetta and sushi to be traditional football-viewing fare.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Now tell us: Do you consider parties to be a time for all-out indulgence or do you stray from tradition and offer nutritious food options for you and your guests? What will you be snacking on during the big game?

What Does Hyperthyroidism Feel Like?

Written on January 31, 2012 at 9:45 am , by

Kimberly, far left, first blamed her symptoms on stress. (Photo courtesy of Kimberly Dorris)

You now know the signs and symptoms of the different thyroid diseases, but how does a diagnosis affect your life? We asked a woman with the most common form of hyperthyroidism, Graves’ disease, to tell us more about her experience. Besides being a patient, 44-year-old Kimberly Dorris is the Executive Director of the Graves’ Disease and Thyroid Foundation.

Tell us about your diagnosis. What first tipped you off that something may be wrong?

I went in for a check-up after experiencing an occasionally rapid heart rate, insomnia and hand tremors. I would watch waves in my coffee cup because my hands were shaking so badly. Often, I’d notice excessive sweat, but I live in Arizona so I wrote that off on the heat!

My doctor then ran a TSH test and I was soon diagnosed with Graves’, which is an autoimmune disease. When you have Graves’, your immune system begins attacking your healthy tissue, including the thyroid gland, the cells and tissues behind your eyes and sometimes the skin.

How does Graves’ disease impact your daily life?

It’s really a constant struggle to keep my weight in check. While weight loss is a symptom for many patients with hyperthyroidism, others struggle with weight gain after beginning treatment. More research is needed to determine if this is because of the disease itself or the treatment, but it has affected my self esteem and energy. I try to focus on what I can control, like being as active as possible, rather than what I can’t (my weight fluctuations).

My overall stamina has decreased. So while I used to play in a tennis league, now I feel fortunate to be able to hit the ball around with friends. I play about twice a week and try to walk twice a week, kickbox once and strength train once.
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5 All-Natural Foods That Can Pack on the Pounds

Written on January 31, 2012 at 7:00 am , by

Natural or not, portion control still matters! (Photo courtesy of Kim Cornelison)

Eating a healthy, balanced diet should be top on your list, especially if you’re looking to lose some weight. You know you should avoid processed foods, but some of nature’s whole foods, although pure and untainted, are so high in calories that eating too much can cause you to gain weight. Here are five foods you should enjoy in moderation when it comes to eating a healthy diet.

Nuts
A wonderful source of quick protein before a workout or as an afternoon snack, nuts and seeds are bursting with nutrition, but they are also tipping high in the calorie department. Instead of just blindly grabbing handful after handful, enjoy these salty snacks one ounce at a time. Get a visual and see what an ounce of nuts actually looks like. The same goes for nut butters — avoid spooning straight from the jar.

Orange Juice
Orange juice is one of nature’s most refreshing beverages, and it’s made from oranges so how can it be bad? You can quickly gulp down a 163-calorie 12-ounce glass, and if you enjoy a glass every morning, it’s easy to see why the pounds are starting to increase on your bathroom scale. Skip the liquid calories and enjoy a fiber-rich medium orange for 62 calories instead.

Avocado
Getting your fill of healthy fats is essential to your diet, and creamy avocado is an excellent source. Even though you could easily scoop out all 322 calories of entire avocado in minutes, it’s best to enjoy this fruit in smaller amounts. Definitely don’t give up this super healthy food! Dice a quarter of an avocado on your salad or mash it on your sammy, so you can reap the benefits of the healthy fats without affecting your waistline.

Pure Maple Syrup
A naturally occurring sweetener, it’s tough to sit down to a stack of flapjacks without pouring on pure maple syrup. This may be shocking, but a quarter-cup serving will run you 200 calories! That’s almost more than the pancakes themselves. Instead of dousing your breakfast plate in nature’s luscious syrup, mix two tablespoons with vanilla Greek yogurt and smear that on your stack, so you can enjoy the maple flavor without all the calories.

Keep reading for more fattening, yet all-natural foods.

More from FitSugar:
10 Foods to Help You Detox
Score a Touchdown with These Healthy Super Bowl Snacks
Under 150 Calories: Veggie Inspired Snacks

Fun, Fit Getaway: W Retreat and Spa, Vieques Island, Puerto Rico (As Seen on The Bachelor!)

Written on January 30, 2012 at 4:52 pm , by

The amazing beach at the W Retreat & Spa - Vieques where bachelor Ben and Courtney enjoyed their date. (Photo courtesy of W Hotels)

Tonight on The Bachelor, Ben and his eligible bachelorettes take their love show on the road, jetting to gorgeous Vieques Island, Puerto Rico, where they stay at the W Retreat & Spa. Apparently the romantic, tropical locale has contestant and former FITNESS cover girl Courtney feeling frisky: She leads Ben to the W Beach for a late-night swim (skinny dip, perhaps?), the show’s promo teases.

We can’t wait to watch—to catch all the drama and the beautiful Vieques backdrop.

FITNESS was recently invited to stay at the laid-back luxe retreat (alas, not while Ben was there) and explore Vieques. We found a perfect mix of adventure and relaxation—an ideal destination for a fun, fit couples trip or an active girlfriend getaway. If you go, check out these top hits on our Fit List:

  • Morning yoga: Start each day with a 90-minute traditional morning yoga class on the outdoor deck behind the W’s SWEAT fitness center. (The class sometimes takes place on the beach when weather allows.) Non-yogis: Work out on the brand new cardio machines and weights in the fitness center or hit some balls at the nearby SWING tennis courts.
  • Hiking and kayaking adventure: Black Beard Sports, located next to SWEAT, offers several custom guided tours of the island. We hiked to a nearby breathtaking vista and then kayaked to Red Beach for a gourmet picnic. See if Mark is available to be your guide.
  • Biking: You can also rent a bike at Black Beard. For a scenic and moderately challenging four-mile spin*, take a right on the road (Route 200) from the retreat and head past the airport to Starfish Beach, where you may spy bright red starfishes on the sand. On your way back, hang a left to ride out to the end of the mile-long Mosquito Pier for a stunning look back at the island. You’ll pass dozens of the island’s free roaming horses along your route. (*The folks at Black Beard can provide detailed directions.)
  • Bioluminescent bay tour: Don’t leave Vieques without taking a nighttime kayak tour on the magical bio bay, which is filled with microscopic organisms that release a chemical whenever there’s movement in the water, making it glow. Every paddle stroke creates a trail of light. The W can arrange your outing with a company such as Abe’s Snorkeling & Bio Bay Tours. Request a tour with Abe himself, if he’s available. He’s a total trip and excuse enough to visit Vieques.

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The Surprising Reason Your Metabolism May Be Working in Slo-Mo

Written on January 30, 2012 at 3:51 pm , by

Do you feel like you've hit a wall during your training? It may be time for a check-up. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

Approximately 30 million Americans have some sort of thyroid gland disturbance, and more than half of those people are unaware that anything is wrong. Why is this so important? The thyroid, a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the lower neck, produces hormones that affect nearly every cell in the body and play a large role in metabolism. Thyroid disease is more common than heart disease and diabetes, so why do we rarely here about it? The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists is out to change that this month, marking January as Thyroid Awareness Month.

To learn more, we spoke with Jeffrey Garber, M.D., President-elect for the American College of Endocrinology and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Dr. R. Mack Harrell, M.D., secretary for the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and physician at Memorial Integrative Endocrine Surgery in Hollywood, Florida.

Did you know?

  • Six percent of miscarriages are linked to thyroid issues during pregnancy. Since the thyroid hormone crosses the placenta to help with the growth of the fetus, you’ll need 50 percent more iodine then when you’re not expecting. Speak with your doctor about finding a prenatal vitamin with the proper balance of vitamins and minerals.
  • While about five percent of the general population is at-risk, 15 to 20 percent of those with diabetes are likely to develop thyroid disease.
  • Women are more likely to be affected than men.
  • If thyroid disease goes untreated, it may lead to elevated cholesterol, heart disease, infertility or osteoporosis.
  • If you’re active on a regular basis, you can use your performance and recovery as a barometer for your internal health. If you feel weaker, can’t reach your typical speeds or are more sore or longer than usual, it may be a sign that an organ system is malfunctioning due to a thyroid issue. Time to check in with your M.D.!
  • Thyroid disease is genetic, so ask tell your doctor about any related issues in your family tree and ask if a TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) test is a good idea.
  • You should be performing a neck check, like a breast self-exam, on a regular basis to keep tabs on your thyroid health. Click here to find out how to do it.

Click below for more details about the different types of thyroid disease.

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End January With a Jumpstart to a New Diet

Written on January 30, 2012 at 1:00 pm , by

Oh, did we mention that free juice and snacks are included during the workshops? (Photo courtesy of Juice Generation)

If you haven’t changed your eating habits for the New Year, it’s not too late! Juice Generation is teaming up with Equinox to host a series of Wellness Workshops throughout 2012 to bring in healthy eating experts to talk about what foods you should (and shouldn’t) be incorporating in your diet, along with other switches to make to lose weight and most importantly, feel great. Stop by the next one on Thursday, February 9 at the 97 Greenwich Avenue Equinox to learn about super-human foods with Robyn Youkilis, a holistic health coach. She’ll be talking about five foods that can transform your life and how to incorporate them into your everyday diet.

We snagged this healthy salad recipe from Youkilis that incorporates some of the super foods she’ll be talking about. Can you guess which ones they are?

Juice Generation Kale Salad Recipe

  • 2 cups of kale
  • 1/2 an avocado, diced
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • Sprinkle of sea salt
  • Sprinkle of black pepper
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1/3 cup of raisins
  • 1/3 cup of sunflower seeds

Combine all ingredients and mix well.

For more information on the Wellness Workshops and to RSVP, visit the Juice Generation Facebook page.

Meet The Trainer: Tae Bo Creator Billy Blanks

Written on January 30, 2012 at 11:47 am , by

When Tao Bo master and creator, Billy Blanks, stopped by the FITNESS offices a few months ago he created quite a stir! Women were popping out of their offices and cubicles to get a sneak peak of the man himself, as Billy and I tried out moves from his hit new workout, PT 24/7 in our conference room. Not only was Billy super-fun to hang with, but we have a shared passion for martial arts, and anybody with a butt-kicking background will always be on the top of my list. (I spent 10 years practicing Shotokan karate growing up!) After our February Express Workout shoot, I sat down with Billy for a little one-on-one.

With Billy Blanks when he stopped by the FITNESS office!

Why did you decide to create the PT 24/7 DVDs?

I wanted a 30-minute workout with strength and cardio combined. People complain they don’t have time for both, so we put them together. The plan includes a rotation calendar for when to do the workouts and an eating plan too. We called it 24/7 because within 24 hours you’ll feel the difference and within seven days, your body starts to change.

For someone who is unfamiliar, how would you describe them and how they are different from other DVDs?
Tae Bo as a whole is a basic workout that will help you recognize your true self, change your body and your attitude. PT 24/7 will teach you how to put together a physical fitness program and make healthy living a lifestyle, not just something you do for 60 or 90 days. It builds you up mentally and physically.

Do you have any tips for readers trying this Express workout?
Pick out basic moves first. I really recommend the gloves that come with the PT 24/7 kit because they help you feel like a fighter and give you confidence. The gloves that come with the system, with bands attached, are easy to pick up. It’s really interactive with the bands. The moves in this workout and the DVDs will test and challenge you, but you’ll quit if you’re not engaged.

What do you do to exercise when you have just 15 minutes?
I take the gloves with bands and do punches. I use them for push-ups (with bands looped behind your back, hands in triangle position), military press, squats and lunges. You can really do everything with them and combine moves together, like a military press with a side lunge. Your core gets involved when you work multiple muscles.

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Music Monday: Your Super Bowl Playlist

Written on January 30, 2012 at 10:02 am , by

Don't let the players have all the fun. Take your own team outside for a pickup game! (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

No matter what team you’re rooting for (or even if you’re not a fan of football at all) you can find inspiration from the amazing athletes who will hit the field this Sunday. In the meantime, get motivated during your own active endeavors by these classic tunes from Super Bowl halftime performers past and present! Then hit repeat and use these tunes as a soundtrack for backyard touch football games and tailgating this weekend.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

More from FITNESS:

Fit Links: Smarter School Lunches and 89 Ways to Live Healthier

Written on January 27, 2012 at 2:13 pm , by

Forget to pack a lunch? Your child will soon have better choices at school. (Photo by Evan Sklar)

This week’s fit links from around the web:

Fashion Diaries: Brighten Up!

Written on January 27, 2012 at 10:12 am , by

It is usually around this time of year—after all of the fun holiday festivities are over and the new year has settled in—that winter goes from fab to drab. The twinkling lights of Christmas trees dwindle, all of the yummy treats have been eaten and the cold, unwanted winter air sticks around for much longer than many of us would like. And dare I say SNOW—thinking about it makes me cringe! If you are feeling like winter is getting the best of you, fear no more. I have the cure: Fun, colorful pieces to brighten up those winter blues!

  • After hitting the weights to work off all of those cookies you ate during the holidays, swipe on some of this Bobbi Brown lip gloss in cosmic pink. It will instantly brighten your face for a fun and fresh look.
  • Did your New Year’s resolution of working out more fail after only a few days? Run out of your rut by trying out these awesome neon green Saucony sneaks which will be sure to put a little pep in your step.
  • Does your iPhone lack some spunk? We’re totally digging this bright green Incipio phone case.
  • Be proud of your sexy, toned arms and rock some wrist-candy like this technicolor Dannijo bracelet. It’s super fun, don’t you think?
  • Break away from the boring black sports bra, by trying something in a cool color or print. This girly and fun heart-printed bra from Forever 21 is most definitely a winner in our books.
  • Attention all surfers! We’ve found the perfect tide watch (it’s Nixon!) to brighten your surf sessions.
  • There are tons of iPad and tablet cases out there on the market, but we love the sporty yet fashionable take on the Marc by Marc Jacobs version. And it’s neoprene! What could be better than that?!
  • Tote all your stuff to the gym in a Puma bag that’s roomy enough for all of the essentials.
  • Wearing these sunny yellow Sperry TopSider boat shoes on a dreary day will have you wishing it was summer more than ever. A girl can dream can’t she?