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The First Lady Wants You to Drink Up

Written on September 23, 2013 at 10:34 am , by

Drink more water for your skin, your health and your waist. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Not to be pessimistic, but when it comes to Americans, our glasses are half-empty these days–literally. According to the Center for Disease Control, an estimated 43 percent of adults drink less than four cups of water a day and 7 percent drink no water at all. That’s why earlier this month FLOTUS Michelle Obama launched her Drink Up initiative to get people drinking more water and less of the sugary stuff. To get some tips on how to increase your water intake we chatted with Dr. Jenna Bell, RD. Follow her tips below and follow in the FLOTUS’ adequately hydrated footsteps:

  • Jazz it up: Not one to drink boring old tap water? Try a water enhancer like Stur, sweetened with stevia, so there’s no added calories or sugar. The coloring from each flavor comes from vegetable juice and you can control how much want in your glass with a simple squeeze.
  • Do as Diane Sawyer does: “She puts a glass of water by her bed and drinks it every morning when she wakes up, so now I do too,” says Bell. “If you’re going to take advice from anyone, take it from her because it’s clearly working!”
  • Carry a water bottle: This isn’t exactly breaking news, but it is the easiest way to keep drinking as the day goes on. Buy a reusable bottle like S’well, who is partnering with Drink Up with a limited edition bottle that gives 10 percent of proceeds back to the foundation.
  • Start meals with water: “A study in 2010 out of Virginia Tech looked at whether or not drinking water before a meal effects what we eat and weight loss. They found that two glasses of water before a meal helped shed weight and made participants eat less because water fills up your stomach,” says Bell.
  • Order water every time you order a beverage: Coffee? Get water. Wine? Get water. Not only will you stay hydrated, you’ll probably fend off a hangover in the process.

Now tell us: What tricks do you use to drink more water?

How Long It Takes to Catch a Cold (Spoiler: Not Long At All!)

Written on August 27, 2013 at 12:02 pm , by

Whether you’re a mom who is getting ready for the influx of germs your child is about to bring home as they go back to school or are just stocking up on hand sanitizer for the office this fall, one thing is definite–cold season is creeping up on us. We got the chance to chat with NYC Ear, Nose and Throat specialist Anthony Jahn, MD on behalf of Ocean Saline Nasal Care on how to stay cold-free this season and were shocked at this scary stat he shared with us on how long it takes for you to catch a cold once you’ve been sneezed on, which is the primary way you catch a cold. Watch below:

 

 

So from the time someone sneezes on you, or even near you (sneeze droplets can travel much farther than you would think!) it only takes 15 minutes for that cold germ to travel from the front of your nose to the back of your throat. Dr. Jahn also said that the average cold lasts anywhere from seven to ten days – that’s a long time to be sick! You won’t show symptoms for about ten hours, meaning you could spread a cold to your friends or family and not even know it. Bummer.

To skip the sick days this year, use a saline solution like Ocean Saline Nasal Spray to keep your nose moist (and therefore clear of any germs), take vitamin C and zinc and most importantly, steer clear of any sneezy coworkers until their symptoms clear up. Here’s to a happy, healthy fall!

More from FITNESS: Sneaky Cold Culprits and How to Boost Your Immunity

 

The Most Difficult Night to Fall Asleep–Plus Tips to Fix It

Written on June 25, 2013 at 11:01 am , by

Sleep better tonight: Write down what is stressing you out before you doze off. (Photo courtesy Cheyenne Ellis)

Find yourself tossing and turning on Sunday nights? You’re not alone. A new survey conducted by Toluna Omnibus showed that more than one-third of adults have the most difficulty falling asleep Sunday night, with 70 percent of those adults reporting it takes them at least a half hour longer to start snoozing than any other night of the week. (Saturday came in second, followed by Monday and then Friday). Not OK! Below, Dr. Michael Breus, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and sleep expert shares more insights from the survey and some surefire ways to get to sleep faster any night of the week.

What surprised you most about this survey?
It was most interesting to learn that stay-at-home moms and those who are employed full time have the most trouble falling asleep on Sunday nights, compared to those of other employment status. Being a stay-at-home mom is a full time job, and getting a family ready for the week ahead can cause as much anxiety on a Sunday night as those getting ready for the work week ahead.

Why do you think Sundays are the hardest days to fall asleep?
Many have trouble falling asleep on Sunday night for two major reasons. Over the weekends, because we don’t have the same obligations we do during the week, people tend to go out and stay up later, and sleep in the following morning. It’s crucial to keep a regular sleep routine, going to bed and getting up at the same time every day (even on the weekends), or at least waking up within the same 30 minutes daily, to avoid throwing off your regular sleep cycle. Over the weekend, we also tend to ‘forget’ about our weekly responsibilities, causing many to struggle on Sunday nights, due to transitioning to and anticipating the week ahead.

What are three tips to get to sleep faster any night of the week?

  1. Use a worry journal prior to going to sleep, to get thoughts out of your head, onto the page and scheduled for active thought at another time. On one side of a piece of paper, write down the things that are bothering you. Next to them, write down a solution, even if it is to think about the worry tomorrow.
  2. Try taking a natural sleep supplement 30 minutes before bed, like Dream Water, which includes natural ingredients like Melatonin, 5-HTP and GABA that will help you to relax and fall asleep, without the potential side effects of OTC and prescription drugs.
  3. Make sure your environment is conducive to a good night sleep. I recommend a cool room at about 65-72 degrees and making your bedroom as dark as possible, avoiding any glaring lights from computers, bedside clocks, streetlights, etc. To block out light, consider a sleep mask, like the Dream Essentials Escape™ Luxury Travel & Sleep Mask, which allows for complete coverage without any pressure on the eyes.

When it comes to the debate on exercising at night or in the morning, which is better in order to get a good night’s sleep?

Numerous studies show exercise at any time of day, especially cardio, leads to a better night sleep, but it’s important to ensure your exercise routine does not interfere with your sleep cycle. It really depends on the individual to figure out what time works best. Those who find exercising provides them with a burst of energy should schedule their exercise earlier in the day, at least four hours prior to bedtime; however, it is also important not to sacrifice hours of sleep in the morning, by waking up early to fit in a work out. Bottom line – schedule a workout, but make sure it does not come at the expense of the seven to nine hours of sleep needed daily.

For more sleep tips and advice from Dr. Breus, visit thesleepdoctor.com.

More from FITNESS: The Get-to-Sleep Guide

 

 

 

Boxing Legend Laila Ali Shares Her Best Fit and Foodie Secrets

Written on June 20, 2013 at 9:48 am , by

 

Laila Ali takes charge of her health. Your turn. (Photo courtesy of Brian Ach/Associated Press for Pfizer)

Written by Chloe Metzger, editorial intern

Boxing champ and fitness expert Laila Ali (you know, daughter of the Muhammad Ali) may have retired from the ring six years ago, but that doesn’t mean her fighting days are done. The mom of two is now battling a new opponent: age.

Laila has teamed up with Pfizer’s “Get Old” campaign to redefine the way we think about health as we grow older, explaining how wellness today will impact our tomorrows. “It’s a simple message,” says Ali. “How great is it to be preventative when you’re young, before you do get older and do start having problems?” And as the undefeated Super Middleweight Champion of our generation, she definitely knows her way around fit living. We chatted with the athlete to find out how she conquers motherhood, health and her hectic schedule…without feeling old.

You’re a mom, an author, a cook and a fitness fanatic. Wow! With such a busy agenda, how do you find time to exercise?

Being a mom makes it harder. I can’t just do what I want, when I want, so I have to really make sure that it’s a priority to get my workout in early. Some days, I just don’t make it; there’s too much going on and I can’t do it, but I don’t beat myself up about it. I focus more on my health because I’m getting older and I want to make sure that I’m thinking about being here for my kids and living a long life.

Very wise. Other than being busy, how has your workout routine changed since you hung up your gloves?

I was boxing before I had kids, so the difference is that I’m not a professional athlete anymore, when it was my job to train. Before, I had to do it in order to compete. Now, I don’t. Instead of boxing, I’m doing things that other people do, like running, Spinning and Pilates. I’m trying new things that I’m not necessarily going to injure myself trying to do.

If you could only do one boxing move for the rest of your life to keep fit and toned, what would that be?

Hit the heavy bags! That’s what we do—we punch. I’m hitting something; it’s not a person, it’s a bag, and I can do everything that I’ve learned. I can do a jab or an uppercut, and I’m working my full body.

A big congrats, by the way, on making it to the final round on Chopped: All Stars! What’s your favorite memory from the show?

The whole entire show was fun, but being competitive again was great. I love being competitive—that’s my thing. Make it a competition and I’m in it all the way.

What healthy snack do you love to quickly whip up?

If I have a sweet tooth, it’s going to be Greek yogurt. I’ll sprinkle on a little bit of Xylitol, a sugar replacement, to sweeten it. Because if you buy yogurt sweetened, there’s a lot of sugar in it. So I get the plain Greek yogurt and add a little bit of fruit; maybe some granola and nuts. If I want vegetables, I’ll probably do kale—bake it and make kale chips.

Yum! We love Greek yogurt. And kale. So now that you’ve finished Chopped, what can we expect from you next?

I’m getting into the cooking space. That’s part of the reason I went on Chopped. That was a great experience for me; it gave me a lot of credibility. I would love to do a cooking lifestyle show. I also have a line of hair-styling tools. I have a lot going on!

More from FITNESS:
Take the Crazy Out of Busy: How to Live a Balanced Life

FITNESS Fans Interview Ted Allen of Chopped!

Kickboxing Workout: Sculpt Muscles and Blast Fat

What You Need to Eat to Be Heart-Healthy

Written on May 13, 2013 at 9:28 am , by

Boost heart health by indulging in seafood? You don’t have to tell us twice! (Photo courtesy of the National Fisheries Institute)

According to a recent statement made by the American Heart Association, heart failure costs are expected to more than double by 2030, potentially costing Americans a whopping $244 per year! Time is tickin’ to beat the rising heart disease incidence—the leading cause of death in women. Insert omega-3 fatty acids, which has proven study after study to reduce the risks. Opt for food sources of supplements, says New York University adjunct nutrition professor and FITNESS Advisory Board member Lisa Young, Ph.D., R.D. It’s as easy peasy (and affordable) as cracking open a can of tuna—just two servings of seafood a week! Now isn’t that just fin-tastic?

Jazz up the versatile canned good with your favorite spices, Dr. Young suggests, and fold it into a cold pasta salad, wrap or form into burgers. Another great idea? Tasty crostinis made with thin baguette slices, fresh rosemary and Kalamata olives. No more fishing for heart health excuses. Here’s a quick and easy recipe that pairs perfectly with a glass of white for a summer soiree app. Your friends and heart will thank you later.

White Bean and Tuna Crostini
(Recipe courtesy of Melissa d’Arabian)
Makes 4 servings

  • 10 thin baguette slices
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1/8 cup dry white wine
  • 1 15-ounce can white kidney beans, drained
  • 1 5-ounce can chunk-light tuna packed in water, drained and flaked
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pitted Kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Directions: Preheat oven to 350° F. Arrange baguette slices in single layer on baking sheet; brush slices with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Bake until bread is crisp and golden, about 15 minutes. Set aside. In a preheated skillet, cook onion, garlic, rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste in the oil over moderately low heat, stirring, until the onion is softened. Add the wine and simmer the mixture until the wine is reduced by half. In a food processor, purée the beans and the onion mixture and salt and pepper to taste, transfer the mixture to a bowl and chill it, covered, until it is cool. In a small bowl, toss together tuna, onion, olives, parsley, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.Spread bean puree among baguette slices and top with tuna salad. Garnish each with 1 small rosemary sprig.

For more recipe ideas and information on heart healthy fish, visit getrealaboutseafood.com.

Guess What the Most Motivating Tool to a Healthy Lifestyle Is?

Written on April 12, 2013 at 3:00 pm , by

Had a great run? Tweet it! You may just motivate a pal to do the same. (Photo courtesy of Newton Daly)

Now that I have finally jumped the hurdle of being an early morning runner, there are a number of reasons I lace up instead of hitting the snooze. Fun weekend plans. My brother’s wedding. My wedding. Wanting to PR in the Pittsburgh Marathon next month. The list goes on. And of course, there are dozens of reasons that inspire others that aren’t on my list. To figure out what motivates healthy lifestyles among its consumers, Tyson Foods on behalf of the Tyson® Grilled & Ready® product line surveyed over 2,000 participants all across the country and found out what really sparks the masses to eat healthier and work out harder. Below, some findings we found particularly interesting:

  • Nearly everyone surveyed–94 percent–is looking to make a positive change related to his or her health this year. Of those, 79 percent want to eat healthy. (Get started with our new Healthy Snack Finder, to make mid-morning and afternoon munching satisfying, without being total calorie bombs.)
  • When it comes to motivation, 79 percent say their health motivates them to live a healthy lifestyle while 58 percent want their clothes to fit better. Around 52 percent stay motivated for their family (aww!) and 28 percent do it for an upcoming social event.
  • In terms of the most motivating tool, there’s no surprise here–social media! About 43 percent said they were more motivated to work out after seeing a friend post or tweet about having a great workout.

Some other fun facts: For those wishing a celebrity chef would pop up in their kitchen and help them cook, 1 out of 4 picked Emeril Lagasse. As for favorite trainer, Jillian Michaels is queen by both women (45 percent) and men (41 percent).

Now Tell Us: What motivates you to live a healthy lifestyle?

How Scrubs Star Sarah Chalke Fights the Flu

Written on February 25, 2013 at 10:42 am , by

The doctor is in! Reid pops in to a local medical center to get her annual flu vaccine. (Photo courtesy of Eric Reed)

While we’ve loved watching Sarah Chalke play various roles throughout the years (Stella on How I Met Your Mother, anyone?), we first fell in love back in the early 2000′s when she starred as the hilariously loveable Elliot on Scrubs. As she spewed out medical jargon like a pro, we wondered how much actors learn while playing doctor roles–we’d have to think twice before saying no to Dr. McDreamy, after all!

Turns out, this blonde beauty knows quite a bit about healthy habits and passing them on to her three-year-old son, Charlie. As the spokesperson for Faces of Influenza, she told us why she’s so supportive of the flu vaccine (and how it’s not too late to get it!) and what life is like after becoming Dr. Elliot Reid for nine years.

What do you love about this campaign?

I’ve had the flu shot every year for pretty much the last two decades. My whole family gets it; it’s something we’ve grown up with. And now that I’m a mom, it’s that much more important to me. Charlie is three and he gets it every single year. None of us have ever gotten the flu, either. I just think it’s so important, especially for people in high risk groups and anyone caring for those people, so you can create a wall of health.

As a parent, why do you think it’s so important to get the flu shot?

I think it’s so common to put your kids’ health first and you kind of let yours fall to the wayside because you’re busy, stressed and tired. Bottom line: it has to go to the top of the list. You want to protect your kid and not bring all the stuff you’re exposed to home. In my job, I’m exposed to hundreds of crew members on a show and we’re all eating from the same trays. At Scrubs, they would have a day when they’d bring the vaccine and everyone would get it.

Is it ever too late to get vaccinated?

You can still get it now! The flu season doesn’t even peak until February, so if someone has been too busy with work, it’s still a great time to get it because it only takes one to become effective and then they’re protected. Flu season can continue through March. And I think it’s such a bad flu season this year – there are record numbers of people coming in. It’s absolutely a great time to still get it.

Read more

Some Sexy Stats to Keep in Mind for Valentine’s Day

Written on February 14, 2013 at 9:00 am , by

No one can see us, right? (Photo courtesy Chris Craymer/TrunkArchive.com)

By now you know that while, yes, sex is a lot of fun, it’s also a big part of keeping you healthy! To help celebrate Valentine’s Day today, Durex and British retailer Littlewoods conducted two sex surveys to see what people’s habits were and basically how you can get busy more. Some interesting tidbits below:

  • It might be time to skip the champagne and pick up some sheets instead. Littlewoods found that people who decorated their bedroom with purple bedding or furniture have sex 3.49 times each week, compared to the average 1.8 times each week of those with a gray bedroom decor. Sounds like a fun home improvement project for your next date night, right?
  • The bedroom is getting boring: Almost 75 percent of American adults have done the deed in an adventurous location.
  • Top spots that seem like a good idea in theory but never really work out include the shower (38 percent), backseat of a car (25 percent) and on a beach (21 percent).
  • When asked for the top dream destination for a sexy rendezvous, women answered the Eiffel Tower (33 percent) while men said the West Wing of the White House (31 percent)!

More from FITNESS: The Get It On Guide

Scott Z. Burns Talks About the Research Behind Pharmaceutical Thriller Side Effects

Written on February 8, 2013 at 12:00 pm , by

A thriller with an important underlying message about society and meds. (Photo courtesy Open Road Films)

Looking for a good flick to watch this weekend? If you haven’t seen the previews already, Side Effects will be sure to leave you on the edge of your seat. Aside from being a total thriller, with a star-studded (and hunky!) cast with the likes of Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum, Jude Law and Catherine Zeta-Jones, the film hits on a very sensitive topic–the effects of prescription drugs and misuse of them in our society today. We got the chance to chat with Scott Z. Burns, the writer of the film to get his inspiration behind this concept, and the research he did to get a glimpse into the pharmacology world. And we promise, we won’t give any spoilers away!

How did you come up with the idea to write a script based around this concept?

A long time ago I worked on a TV show called Wonderland, and we did a lot of our research at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. I spent months following around a forensic psychologist and I got really interested in their world and the intersection between mental illness, pharma-psychology and the pharmaceutical industry.

What was the research like for this film? Anything you found in particular that really surprised you?

Once I started researching at the hospital I realized what a philosophical tangle we get into when we start discussing things like evil and whether someone is really conscious about their behavior if they are medicated. When I was at Bellevue I followed the case of the Subway Pusher, a man named Andrew Goldstein who pushed a woman on to the subway tracks in 1999, and his lawyers argued that he was suffering a psychotic episode from not taking his medication. I was allowed to follow his case, and seeing him medicated and not medicated was truly profound. It made me think: If you medicate someone so they are no longer a danger to society, are they still guilty?

What did you want the film to say about the way society uses medications to treat mental illnesses?

First, I wanted to movie to be a thriller, and give the viewer a rollercoaster ride above all. But my conclusion after eight years of research is that it is not as simple as saying pharmaceutical companies and medication is bad, because they do help a huge number of people every year. Yet as a society we are constantly overprescribed and prescribed incorrectly. But it’s not as simple as saying that we are overprescribed because of pharmeucital companies, there are so many factors. Drug companies run ads that people constantly see and psychiatrists are under pressure by patients to fix them and then the patients have a responsibility in all this as well. They see these ads and hear of their friends taking a certain medication and just assume they should be on it too, so they tell their doctor to give it to them. I think a lot of the time the symptom is getting treated instead of the underlying issue.

You filmed some scenes in the Manhattan Psychiatric Center. What was that like?

It was really disturbing. There are people in there who are trapped already in their own psychological torment that on top of that are locked away. I don’t think it’s as bad as prison, but I think they both are there own versions of hell.

You had an on-set adviser for the film, Dr. Sasha Bardey. What was his job on set?

I met Dr. Bardey 10 years ago when I went to Bellevue and I will never forget this. I was sitting in his office when an intern came in and said, “There is a vampire here, do you want to see him?” And he just replied, “Oh sure, let’s go meet him.” It turned out to be a guy who the police brought in because he was in Central Park scaring people by telling them he was a vampire. He also treated Andrew Goldstein, so he has a vast experience of all sorts. I stayed in touch with him and he advised me in terms of all the pharma-psychology, forensics, what not guilty be reason of insanity plea means and the very sophisticated notion we have in this country of mens rea, which basically means an act is only considered guilty if the mind is also guilty, and that you can only be guilty if you are conscious of your actions. His livelihood involves him going to court and talking about people who commit crimes, so he really helped in the accuracy department. He also worked with Jude Law on how a psychiatrist would have a therapeutic relationship with someone who is depressed like Rooney Mara’s character and also with Rooney on how a depressed person works and acts.

Side Effects is in theaters now. For a list of locations near you, visit fandango.com.

The Doctor Is In: Dr. Travis Stork’s Tips to Stay Flu-Free

Written on January 25, 2013 at 9:00 am , by

Fear not the neti pot–really! (Photo courtesy Arm & Hammer)

Maybe you got the flu shot, maybe you forgot–oops! Regardless some simple things like getting enough sleep and following a healthy diet can go a long way in keeping you in top shape this winter. To help keep your sick days from racking up, we chatted with Dr. Travis Stork of The Doctors as he teams up with Arm & Hammer Simply Saline for their latest campaign on natural, drug-free ways to stay healthy this season.

Whether you got the flu shot or not, what are some things we all should be doing to keep the flu away?

The winter months are really the time to practice those healthy habits we talk about all the time. If you’re not getting enough sleep, not eating well and not hydrating, the chances of you battling a cold or the flu is higher than if you are doing these things. Since nutrition is an important part of staying healthy, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to make sure your body is getting the vitamins and nutrients it needs to function at its best. Supplements have never really been shown to have the same benefits as whole foods, so eat up!

I am also a fan of nasal irrigation to hydrate nasal passages and alleviate congestion that tends to occur in the winter. I’ve partnered with Arm & Hammer Simply Saline because they make nasal sprays that are easy to use and can be taken anywhere I go, especially airplanes where germs love to linger! We want our nasal membranes moist, as opposed to dry and friable, because hydrated membranes act as an extra protective barrier when a virus tries to invade our nasal passages. Viruses can also enter through our eyes and mouth, so be sure to wash your hands frequently and avoid touching these vulnerable areas. Read more