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Bad News for New Moms: Could Interrupted Sleep Be As Bad As No Sleep At All?

Written on July 18, 2014 at 1:52 pm , by

When groggy mornings and frantic coffee runs become staples in your daily routine, followed by nights of constant wake-up calls to change diapers or give feedings, it’s probably time to re-evaluate your sleep patterns. Or just say hello to motherhood with a newborn. While we know not sleeping well negatively affects your mood (there’s a reason these signs exist) and brain’s ability to function, what’s more alarming is that a new study found that several nights of interrupted sleep might be just as harmful as not getting any.

Before you panic, moms, keep reading. We spoke with clinical psychologist Michael Breus, Ph.D., who says that although disrupted sleep definitely has an effect on you the next day, it’s not going to ruin your life in the long run.

“Some sleep is still better than no sleep, but you don’t want to keep it up on a regular basis,” he says. “If you get woken up one, two, three times a night, well, that’s actually fairly normal. If you get woken up six or eight times a night, are you going to wake up feeling refreshed? Probably not.”

So what’s a parent to do? Breus recommends alternating on-call days with your partner. Designate Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to waking up when baby does, but let hubby take the reigns on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Or if you wake up with the sunrise and he’s awake well past sunset, compromise that way. “I’m more of an early bird and my wife is more of a night owl, so even on the nights when it might’ve been my turn to be on call, she’ll tend to the baby so I can go to bed early.” Creating a schedule that plays on each others’ more wakeful hours will provide you both with happier mornings, so try a few options to figure out what works best for everyone.

Regardless of your parent status (non-existent or otherwise), Breus says maximizing sleep begins with daily exercise. If you find that exercise really revs your engine, make sure your workout is done at least four hours before bedtime. Otherwise, two hours prior is your cutoff. But if you’re still lacking serious mojo in the daylight, make sure sleepiness isn’t being confused with muscle fatigue. “Sleepiness is, ‘I can’t keep my eyes open.’ Fatigue is, ‘Ugh, I just want to lie down because everything hurts,’” explains Breus. If fatigue is what you’re feeling, take a rest day so you can jump back in with a full bout of energy.

And last but not least, try adding banana tea to your nightly routine. “Bananas themselves have a large amount of magnesium in them,” explains Breus. Chop the top and bottom off of a banana and toss it (peel included – there’s about 3x more magnesium in there) into 2.5 cups of boiling water for 3 or 4 minutes. “You can put a little honey or cinnamon in it,” he says. “It’s quite delicious and it’s literally like taking a sleeping pill.” We know what we’re drinking tonight!

Photo by Sara Forrest

More from FITNESS: 

Sleep Well: What to Eat for Better Sleep

The States That Sleep the Most, Plus Other Sleep Stats to Know

6 Realistic Rules for Better Sleep


Birth Control’s Newest Form Is Crazier Than You Think

Written on July 17, 2014 at 11:19 am , by

Oral birth control? So two years ago.

That’s what Bill Gates thinks, anyway.

The do-it-all man has been planning to fund the development of a remote-controlled birth control ($4.6 million-worth of funding, to be exact!), and now a Massachusetts startup company called MicroCHIPS is bringing the concept to life using technology invented by MIT engineer Robert Langer in the ‘90s.

Placed under the skin of the upper arm, butt or abdomen, the microchip releases levonorgestrel—a birth-control hormone currently in many contraceptives—but only when you want it to. You can turn the device on and off with the flip of a switch. When on, an electrical current melts a part of the chip and 30 micrograms of the hormone is released each day. The chip supposedly lasts up to 16 years, and the MicroCHIPS team wants it on the market by 2018.

“Thirty micrograms sounds low and sounds like it might not interfere with ovulation but might interfere with implantation,” says Sarah Berga, M.D., FITNESS advisory board member and associate dean of women’s health research at Wake Forest Baptist Health. “The question I would have is what does it do to your estrogen levels across time and would they be too low?”

A contraceptive that only interferes with implantation might not be as effective, but it would be safer, says Berg. “You would be interfering less with ovarian function and potentially less with estrogen levels, therefore promoting better bone health, better mood, and the kinds of things that we think estrogens are good for,” she says.

Carolyn Westhoff, M.D., FITNESS advisory board member and obstetrics and gynecology professor at Columbia University, says the microchip is an “interesting idea with lots of potential,” but that more work still needs to be done to evaluate the chip’s safety and effectiveness. Pre-clinical testing is scheduled to begin next year, but the chips will need to be encrypted to secure wireless data before MicroCHIPS sends an application to the FDA.

What do you think? Would you use remote controlled birth control over the more traditional varieties?

Photo courtesy of MicroCHIPS

More from FITNESS: 

Your Guide to Choosing the Right Birth Control for You

Are Your Birth Control Pills Hurting Your Sex Drive?

Should I Stop Taking the Pill at 35?


Why You Need to See—And Read—”Wild”

Written on July 16, 2014 at 4:54 pm , by

It’s been more than a year since Cheryl Strayed released her gripping memoir, Wild, about her solo 1,100-mile trek across the Pacific Crest Trail. The book is a New York Times bestseller for a reason, so if you haven’t read it yet, do it now. Strayed’s  tale is gripping, and the honest look at herself as a person throughout her painful hike (literally painful—the speed at which she loses toenails makes me cringe) is refreshing. So when I found out Reese Witherspoon, one of my favorite actresses, would star in the film adaptation, I may have shrieked with joy.

The movie doesn’t hit theaters until December 5, but the official trailer has just been released. Watch:

Now, everyone knows the film version is rarely as good as the book, but I honestly think those working in film are stepping up their game. And while Witherspoon has a lot to live up to, I think she can handle it. Director Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club) fortunately doesn’t make us sit through two straight hours of a girl lugging a 50-pound pack through the woods, but rather bounces back to the story of why the heck this woman decided to go it alone. And believe me, that’s a twisted story you want to know about. I’ve only seen the trailer and I already see a myriad of awards in Reese’s future.

But more importantly, go see Wild because in a world of men in hardcore, badass lead roles (I’m looking at you, Captain Phillips), there’s now a strong (albeit unlikable) female in the mix doing something physically—not to mention mentally and emotionally—trying. For me, it serves as a little reminder that I don’t have to follow the crowd, and I can conquer a crazy-hard trail, and all that that comes with, just as well as any man.

But you tell me: have you read the book? Did you love it or hate it? And either way, will you see the movie? 

More from FITNESS:

 The Top Fit Moments in Film

Get a Hot Bod Like the Divergent Cast

My Reality-TV Workout

 


Fit Blogger We Love: Style of Sport

Written on July 16, 2014 at 12:42 pm , by

Written by Mary Christ Anderson, deputy editor

Being an editor at FITNESS, I’m always looking for scoop on what’s now and next for the sporty lifestyle. One blog I make a must is StyleofSport.com. I think I’ve settled on a cute beach tote when —poof—my new favorite pops up in the Style of Sport newsletter. SOS’s founder Claudia Lebenthal always nails the haute and cool mix of picks because she has an eye for design. “There’s a definite intersection of sport with fashion, art, news and culture and I see it everywhere: in magazines and movies, on ski slopes, at the gym or a photo gallery—you name it,” says Lebenthal. (She was a visuals director at both Women’s Sports & Fitness and Self—I know because we worked at both together!—before she set her sights on, well, sites.)

“At first, I wanted to have a store that sold the sporty chic clothes I loved and worked out in,” she says. “That sparked me to bring together my collection of what I was craving online instead.”

Much like planning the spreads in magazines, Lebenthal scouts the season out and plucks the best gets for SOS. And you can tell she’s the real deal from her exploits—paddle boarding, flyfishing, kite surfing, back country skiing—all of which she shares, along with other profiles and tidbits. (You’ve got to read the essay she penned for FITNESS to be inspired. Readers wrote to us that they had co-opted her you-can-do-this mantra in that essay: It’s your level now.

“My goal,” says Lebenthal, “is to appeal to both the athlete and fashionista. Performance is the bottom line but style is what makes it fun!”

More Fit Fashion: 

The Sneaker That Takes Minutes Off Your Mile 

Stylish, Sporty Sunglasses from Oakley

Shop By Shape, Not Size 


Fitbit and Tory Burch Launch a Fit Fashion Collection We Love

Written on July 15, 2014 at 11:52 am , by

I love my Fitbit Flex as much as the next girl, and I swear, it really does make me walk more throughout the day (I’m seriously addicted to getting those little lights to flash on my wrist). But let’s be honest: the bands leave a little to be desired in the looks department. Of course, there’s been improvement over the last few years, and my current pink band blends with most of my outfits, but there’s no way you’ll catch me wearing it to the fancier events on my schedule (hello, wedding season).

Fitbit heard my cries for a fashion upgrade and are answering with total chicness. Enter their new collaboration with Tory Burch, which just launched an accessories line designed exclusively for the Flex. Your options: one of two silicone bands, both of which have the iconic Tory Burch pattern and retail for $38 apiece, or a piece of jewelry—specifically, a gold-tone pendant or bangle. The latter options are a little pricier, checking out at $175 or $195, respectively.

While the costs might seem high upfront, think about how often you’ll wear the band (um, every day) and how quickly you’ll make your money’s worth. After all, Fitbit users take 43 percent more steps when wearing their trackers compared to those who don’t measure any movement. So not only will you have a new, Insta-worthy fashion accessory, but you’ll be bettering your health every time you see that flashy little reminder on your wrist to go grab an afternoon coffee.

Oh, and don’t worry if you have yet to jump on the activity tracker trend. Tory Burch is selling the actual Fitbit Flex as well, so you can pick one up along with your new band. Happy stepping!

Photo courtesy of Fitbit

More from FITNESS: 

Do Activity Trackers Actually Work? 

The Best Running Apps for Your Phone

The New Fitt App Creates a Battle of the Bands

 


Music Monday: Making Music with The Roots

Written on July 14, 2014 at 5:04 pm , by

You watch ‘em rock the stage regularly on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, but The Roots are known for a particular type of instrumentation that I’m, well, obsessed with. And that’s using quirky, unorthodox instruments to create awesome, YouTube-breaking music. Two of my faves: singing “Your Body” with X-tina and this Brady Bunch styling of “We Can’t Stop.” So it was no surprise when they teamed up with Kellogg’s at their Recharge Bar in Times Square and performed rockin’ tunes using tons of breakfast equipment—I’m talking bowls, spoons, the works. Now if only I could be that musical with my cereal bowl in the morning…

Of course, The Roots do play on regular instruments once in a while, which they’re using to create their new album. What can we expect when it drops? “It’s another concept album, and we’re showing the life of the common man,” says Questlove. “Hip-hop often celebrates the plight of the winner, those who are living the good life. But sometimes that’s misleading, and 99 percent of the people out here are living regular lives. This is their story.”

That said, I can only imagine how many will end up on my workout playlist (um, all of them). But until I can get my hands on those tracks, I’ll have to substitute this playlist. It’s what The Roots are jamming out to this summer themselves, while they squeeze in workouts on their European tour. I’ll just imagine that I’m in the same awesome locales they are.

Photo courtesy of Edelman

More from FITNESS: 

 Flo Rida’s Make-You-Sweat Playlist

15 Songs That Put Some Spring in Your Step 

100 Best Workout Songs


We Tried It: 305 Fitness

Written on July 10, 2014 at 1:05 pm , by

While running on treadmills and hitting the stair-climber will always be great ways to get in some sweaty cardio sessions, we have to admit that they can get boring (especially when you end up staring at that same spot on the wall during each gym visit). So when the girls of Lole and 305 Fitness invited me to a dance party overlooking the Hudson River, I practically ran there, excited to see what its founder, Sadie Kurzban, had in store.

Not only did she kick my butt, but she somehow simultaneously made me forget that I was strengthening my core, leaning out my legs, and cranking my cardio to the very max. It probably had something to do with her wild spunk and the DJ’s amazing tunes (yes, there was a live DJ there—expect that at every single class), but that’s the whole idea behind 305 Fitness. My planks were interweaved with sashays, and squats didn’t happen without a little shimmying in between. The classes are designed to get you so pumped about what you’re doing, you forget that the fun dance moves are actually contributing to your workout.

You’ll be winded by the end of it and will probably burn the next day (my calves: ow), but it makes that feeling of accomplishment so much sweeter. Add in the realization that you were just dancing for much of the class, and you’ll begin to understand (if you haven’t yet) what we FITNESS editors stress all the time: that working out can be fun.

If you’re in the New York or D.C. area, check out the schedule, sign up for one of the 55-minute classes, and get dancing.

More from FITNESS: 

Crank Up Your Cardio

The Relaxing Yoga and Dance Workout

Is Pole Dancing a Sport?


Active Vacations Fit For Summer

Written on July 4, 2014 at 10:49 am , by

In our July/August issue (get your copy now!), we highlight TWENTY totally awesome destinations that push you out of your comfort zone (where all the magic happens, obviously) while you explore beautiful locales. But in the end, we decided 20 options just wasn’t enough…25 sounds way better. So we present you with five more amazing trips to try. Go on, girl, start packing!

Run Wild’s Run Your Way to Optimal Health Retreat

Improve your trail running technique with this long weekend training workshop in the Colorado Rockies. From presentations on form, efficiency and stretching to cooking demos, this trip is the full package for boosting your overall performance. (July 17-20 or any time June to October, $697; shorter stays for $397 in Carbondale-Aspen, Colorado; runwildretreats.com)

The Ranch at Live Oak Malibu’s 4.0

Rev your metabolism with a four-day healthy lifestyle immersion program. You’ll jumpstart your routine with mountain hikes in the morning, afternoon exercise classes and vegetarian cooking demos come dinnertime—abs are made in the kitchen! (available year-round, $3,800; theranchmalibu.com)

Carmel Valley Ranch

Find something for everyone here—including glow-in-the-dark night golf!—like sunset hikes, private outdoor bootcamp, yoga, Pilates, indoor cycling or TRX suspension training to get your rear in gear. Enjoy cooking and wine classes in the evening. (activities offered year-round, prices vary; carmelvalleyranch.com)

The California Coast Classic Bike Tour

Coast for a cause: take an eight-day, 525-mile ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to benefit the Arthritis Foundation (the number one fundraising event for the cause!). The full-service ride is a great way for beginners and experienced cyclists alike to enjoy the coastline’s famous wineries, lighthouses and beaches—while raising funds to find a cure. Bonus: overnight you’ll camp out between stops and guides will drive your gear from one location to the next. (September 13-20, $125 registration fee, plus $3,100 fundraising minimum; californiacoastclassic.org)

Big Cedar Lake Lodge’s “Catch A Cowboy”

Saddle up! Horseback ride, fish and embrace your inner Katniss with archery lessons in Dogwood Canyon Nature Park in Missouri. Big Cedar’s endless land and aquatic activities will have you loving every second you’re outdoors. (Available year-round, $1,358/2-night stay or $1663/3-night stay; bigcedar.com)

Photo by Tim Soter

More from FITNESS: 

The Fit Girl’s Getaway Guide

Best Road Trip Ever: Vacations Across the U.S. 

Fit Destinations Editors Love 


Wait, I Can Skip My Pelvic Exam?!

Written on July 3, 2014 at 10:57 am , by

Big news: Pelvic exams are no longer necessary for women who don’t have symptoms and aren’t pregnant, according to a new recommendation from The American College of Physicians out this week. It’s a topic we covered recently in our April 2014 issue, but it’s not an excuse to ditch your regular gyno visits altogether. Here’s what else you need to know.

So Long, Stirrups!

By Laurie Tarkan

Imagine going to your gyno and not spending the appointment staring at the ceiling with your knees in the air. “Until the Pap test was introduced, a woman didn’t go to the ob-gyn unless she was pregnant or had symptoms like pain or bleeding,” says Carolyn Westhoff, M.D., a FITNESS advisory board member and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center. When the Pap became standard in the late 1940s, so did the yearly gyno exam. But in 2012, based on new research, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)  told its members to dial back on the Pap test and give it every three years; for women 30 and older who combine it with a test for human papillomavirus (HPV), the recommendation is every five years.

The reason: Although the Pap can be a lifesaver, there is no benefit to screening on an annual basis, because cervical cancer is slow growing. “If you do Pap smears frequently, you’ll get some results that are ‘not normal’ but aren’t cancer,” says Miriam Alexander, M.D., the director of the general preventive medicine residency program at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. “Patients might then be ordered to have uncomfortable additional testing, which causes anxiety and can, in rare cases, lead to severe complications.”

As for annual pelvic exams, women simply don’t need them, research has found. The exams are not necessary to screen for ovarian and uterine cancers or sexually transmitted infections, and they don’t need to be done before a woman starts taking oral contraceptives. “Gradually, more and more ob-gyns are realizing that the pelvic exam doesn’t have to be done so frequently,” Dr. Westhoff says.

The Bottom Line:  The ACOG still recommends an annual gyno visit, but unless you have a medical problem or new symptoms, you probably don’t need a pelvic exam between Pap tests, Dr. Westhoff says.

So, how often should I get tested? 

Pap Test:  Every three years starting at age 21. If you’re 30 or older, every five years if you combine it with a test for human papillomavirus (HPV).
Exception: More often if results are abnormal.

Pelvic Exam: Not necessary if you are feeling fine.
Exception: Unless you have symptoms such as bleeding, pain, urinary problems or new or unusual discharge.

Photo by Susan Pittard

More from FITNESS: 

Private Matters: Solutions to Common Gyno Problems

 Salt Shake-Up: Why Sodium is Actually Good For You

Oil Pulling: What It Is and How It Works 


Must-Try Fourth of July Recipes

Written on July 2, 2014 at 10:01 am , by

Slurping on cocktails and enjoying some mouth-watering grub with friends and family underneath the fireworks are our Independence Day musts. Throw in some bikini-approved nutrition facts and you’ve got a “flawless” Fourth of July bash. (We’re looking at you, Beyoncé.) We rounded up some super easy recipes that we know your taste buds will love and your body will appreciate, so go ahead and dig in.


Fourth of July Adult Snow Cone
Calories: 188 per serving

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Clos du Bois Rouge
  • 1 cup sugar

Mix 1 cup of Clos du Bois Rouge with 1 cup of sugar in a small saucepan over heat until the sugar has dissolved. Cool completely before pouring on crushed ice (your snow cone).

Recipe courtesy of Jung Lee

Photo courtesy of Clos du Bois Winery


Red Berry Sangria
Calories: 150 per serving  

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce CÎROC Red Berry
  • 1 ounce rose wine
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 2 ounces berry tea

Combine all ingredients and stir over ice in wine glass.

Recipe courtesy of CÎROC

Read more