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Hot Topic Tuesday

Hot Topic Tuesday: Should Disney Make a Plus-Sized Princess?

Written on February 4, 2014 at 3:12 pm , by

Should there be a new Disney princess? (Photo by Peter Ardito)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

Take a moment and think back to when you were a little girl watching your favorite Disney princess movie. You idolized everything about Cinderella,Belle or Snow White – from the color of her hair down to the sound of her melodic voice, we bet we weren’t the only ones who wanted to embody the princess in every way possible. But what if you were that child who couldn’t quite find her perfect princess role model? One who didn’t quite look like any of the childhood heroines? Walt Disney Pictures moved to solve this problem in 2009 when it unveiled Tiana, its first African-American princess character in The Princess and the Frog fairytale, and again in 2012 with red-headed tomboy Merida in Brave. But that wasn’t enough. Now, 17-year-old Jewel Moore is asking for a princess of her own size.

A high school junior from Farmville, Virginia, Moore posted a petition on Change.org on January 24 requesting that Walt Disney Animation Studios create a plus-size princess. “I made this petition because I’m a plus-size young woman, and I know many plus-size girls and women who struggle with confidence,” says Moore. “Disney films are highly influential, and they impact the lives of many children, especially girls. It would be revolutionary for Disney to show support to a group of girls who are otherwise bullied by the media. It would make many young girls feel confident and worthy to see a strong character that looks like them.”

Her petition has received more than 18,000 signatures in its first week, and it’s inspired others to create similar campaigns. For others, though, it ignited a backlash of petitions for Disney to not feature plus-sized princesses in its future animated films. Why? Perhaps it’s too close to promoting childhood obesity, or it feeds into the idea of complacency regarding obesity in America. Regardless, this young woman’s goal of helping other girls realize that every body is beautiful and giving them a figure to look up for a boost of self-confidence is nothing shy of empowering. Strength is beautiful because it can take on so many different forms. Moore’s courage makes her strong on the inside, but her actions make it clearly visible for the rest of us to see.

But what do you think? Should Disney start working on their next princess debut? Or do you think that would be the first step down the wrong road? Sound off in the comments below.

More from FITNESS:

Living Large: How I Learned to Love My Body

Meet the “Real Girl” Barbie Doll

Body Proud: “Why I Love About My Body”

Hot Topic Tuesday: Does Your Dog Need A Gym?

Written on December 4, 2012 at 6:14 pm , by

Are sneakers and a leash enough to bring your pet’s fitness back up to buff?

Written by Deanna Cioppa, editorial intern

We know health is important to you, but is there someone else who could use a couple rounds on the treadmill or yoga mat? Someone who has four feet and is furry, perhaps? And would you spend as much (or more) on your pet’s workout as your own?

CNN recently reported on a new “retreat” in Florida that helps transform your pudgy pup back into the sleek BFF (Best Fit Friend) you first brought into a loving home. Opened in 2011 by certified canine massage therapists, Rocky’s Retreat Canine Health and Fitness Center in Orlando has a variety of services to bring your dog’s fitness level up to snuff, including Aqua Therapy and a 12-week weight loss program. The appointments, however, come with a hefty price tag – the 12-week service starts at nearly $500 under special introductory pricing.

Rocky’s isn’t the only center helping pups break a sweat, either. Pet fitness centers have popped up across the country, and manufacturers have begun marketing at-home equipment. A quick search on Amazon brings up a variety of at-home doggy treadmills with prices starting between $400 and $500. That’s a lot more than a running leash and a pair of sneakers.

Now, we all love our pets and want them to live long, healthy lives. In October, though, Reuters reported a troubling statistic: Approximately 53 percent of adult dogs are obese in this country. So the question isn’t about how much we love our furry friends, but how much are we willing to spend to get their weight down? And is an expensive regimen at a pet spa worth the time and money?

Now you tell us: Would you put your pet on a diet or take them to a retreat if your vet recommended they lose weight? If you aren’t willing to cough up the dough, but still want to get your pet back on the right, er, paw,  check out our guide to running with your dog!

Hot Topic Tuesday: Would You Take An At-Home HIV Test?

Written on November 27, 2012 at 11:58 am , by

Johnson proves life can still be magical, despite having HIV.

Throughout the years, there has been a stigma in the U.S. about HIV – it’s one of those diseases that most people hesitate to discuss, even though 1.2 million Americans have been diagnosed, and 50,000 new infections arise each year. That all changed in the 90s, when basketball star Magic Johnson publicly announced that he had contracted the life-threatening virus. For a while, people began publicly discussing the subject and learning about safe sex and prevention methods.

Unfortunately, 20 years later, many people still don’t get tested for fear of judgment in a public setting. But Johnson wouldn’t be, well, magical, if he didn’t step into the spotlight and fight for more awareness and alternate early detection methods. “If there’s a rally or someone needs my help in the fight against HIV and AIDS, I’m going to be there,” Johnson said at a recent press event. And that’s exactly what he did. Now on the market nationwide from OraSure Technologies is OraQuick, the first in-home HIV test. In the comfort of your own home, you can use an oral swab and know in 20 minutes whether or not strands of HIV-1 and -2 are detected.

“The reason I’m standing here, 21 years after I found out I have HIV, is because of early detection,” says Johnson. “A lot of people don’t want to go to their doctors or an HIV/AIDS clinic. Now we’ve taken that excuse away from them. I think it’s going to help drive more people to know their status and ultimately, that’s what we want.”

While we think this could definitely impact the number of people who are getting tested in a positive way, we have to wonder what happens if the test comes back positive? Without a doctor sitting next to them, will they have the comfort and education they need when hit with life-altering news?

Fortunately, an information packet and 24/7 hotline number is included in every test kit, which includes what next steps people should take if they found out they’re positive.

Johnson also notes that consistently taking his medication and having a stable fitness routine is his “secret sauce” for living out a long, healthy life despite his diagnosis. And since we’re big basketball fans over at FITNESS, we grabbed a few minutes of his time to find out more about his daily routine.

Read more

Hot Topic Tuesday: Do You Size Up Others at the Gym?

Written on November 20, 2012 at 9:18 am , by

Do you team up with—or size up—fellow gym-goers? (Photo by Sarah Kehoe)

What’s your first thought when you step foot in a gym? Perhaps you make a mental note to refill your water bottle. Or maybe you’re selecting what playlist will be your soundtrack today.

According to one recent study, many young women think about the other women in the room—in particular, their size. College undergrads were more likely to use a piece of equipment near a fit woman when she was wearing baggy clothing and padding to appear larger compared to when that same woman was wearing fitted apparel without padding. Researchers believe that body image-conscious young women might feel more comfortable and fitter when compared to their less athletic-looking neighbor.

We like to focus on our own goals, abilities and accomplishments, and think of others at the gym as potential workout buddies! No matter what shape or size you—or they—are, the greatest feeling is when you improve upon your personal best. But we want to hear from you…

Now tell us: Are you in your own world the minute you step foot in the gym, or do you size up those who are exercising nearby? Can you “judge a book by its cover” in terms of fitness anyway?

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Hot Topic Tuesday: Would You Drink A Fat-Blocking Soda?

Written on November 13, 2012 at 2:00 pm , by

Soda to aid fat loss? We’re not so sure. (Photo by Jack Miskell)

When it’s time to slim down and ditch unnecessary calories, one of the first things to go is soda. After all, nixing the sugary beverage can help you drop pounds and lower your diabetes risk. Turns out the cola industry is trying harder to stay on your healthy-living radar, though. Hitting shelves today in Japan is Pepsi Special, a new drink that contains dextrin, a fiber that reportedly contributes to fat loss.

We were curious what our Twitter followers would think of the new drink, and whether or not they would guzzle it down if it ever makes its way to the States. Here’s what you have to say:

@LynetteNicole07: Never been into any “help” and haven’t had soda in years. No need to have it now!

@FITNESSlauren: I’m skeptical…something seems fishy about soda and weight loss! I think I’ll stick to my seltzer with lemon.

@fitterafter50: Confessions from a carbonation addict: Maybe. I just need to kick the habit!

@LockLaces: This might be unpopular, but YES! I have a secret addiction and have to keep it out of the house at all times.

@NicolettaOnline: Are you kidding me?! No! It does too many other bad things to the body!

@KGGarner: Absolutely not! I’d rather eat REAL food that would help me lose fat!

Now you tell us: would you drink soda if it helped lower fat levels?

Hot Topic Tuesday: Should You Ditch Energy Drinks?

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

Are energy drinks the best for your 3pm pick-me-up? (Photo by Christopher Gallo)

Written by Deanna Cioppa, editorial intern 

The media has lit up in recent days over reports released by the Food and Drug Administration indicating that Monster Energy drinks may have been linked to five deaths and a non-fatal heart attack over the last three years. While no link has been proven yet, the mother of one of teenager who died after drinking the energy beverage two days in a row (a 24oz can of Monster Energy contains 240 mg of caffeine, while a typical 8 oz cup of coffee contains around 100 mg) has filed a lawsuit against Monster Beverage.

Part of the danger of energy drinks is the way they’re marketed, says Sharon Richter, R.D. In fact, The New York Times reported recently that current FDA rules don’t require companies to indicate the level of caffeine in their beverages and allows them to market the drinks as beverages or dietary supplements. These drinks “are so attractive to kids, and it’s not necessarily appropriate for them,” says Richter. Plus, it’s easy to consume several cans of these drinks without thought during the day, and at 240mg per can, that adds up quickly.

So what about alternative, natural sources of energy? “A lot of people are low in terms of vitamin D and B vitamins,” says Richter. Doctors can test for low D levels, and Richter recommends taking a vitamin D supplement if the doc finds your levels are low. Not comfortable getting your nutrients from a supplement? You can also find the sunshine vitamin in certain fish, like salmon and trout, and fortified in milk and orange juice.

If you find that you’re not low on vitamin D but still experience an energy slump in the middle of the day, reach for green tea, says Richter. “There are a lot of benefits to green tea because its level of caffeine is not too excessive,” she says. Don’t forget to take a step back from the computer and get moving for a few minutes, either – taking a walk or doing jumping jacks for 30 seconds can increase oxygen intake and get blood pumping, which may provide a much-needed energy spike.

And no matter how much those cravings may kick in, try to steer clear of excessive sugar in processed foods like donuts and cupcakes. It’ll only bring on a sugar crash a few hours later. Instead, Richter suggests opting for a piece of fruit or an energy bar with simple, natural ingredients.

Now you tell us: Do you reach for energy drinks during a pick-me-up?

Hot Topic Tuesday: Who’s Your Pick For Fittest President?

Written on October 16, 2012 at 10:15 am , by

This time of year, politicians are known for throwing verbal jabs during heated debates (like the second presidential one taking place tonight). But how do the candidates’ jab-cross kickboxing combos stack up?

Gold’s Gym recently surveyed 4,000 Americans to “exercise their right to vote” for the nation’s fittest president. Click here to learn more about the top 12 nominees, and keep reading to find which five were selected as fittest:

President Harry Truman, voted 12th fittest president, was known for leaving his Secret Service in the dust during daily speed walks! (Image courtesy of Gold’s Gym)

  1. Barack Obama: Our country’s current leader is an avid basketball player who frequently plays pick-up games on the White House tennis court, which he had converted into a half basketball court.
  2. George W. Bush: The second Bush in office is the first president who completed a marathon (he ran one in less than four hours!). He also enjoys cycling.
  3. George Washington: You might not guess that this strong military man was also a stellar dancer!
  4. Theodore Roosevelt: While on a 1,500-mile expedition to help map a South American river, this adventurer challenged his fitness and lost 57 pounds.
  5. Gerald Ford: He could have been a Green Bay Packer or Chicago Bear had politics not been in the picture—he was offered contracts to play with both after playing football on a scholarship at the University of Michigan.

Now tell us: Which commander in chief do you think is/was our country’s best fitness role model? And do you take a candidate’s health habits into account when heading to the voting booth?

Hot Topic Tuesday: Do You Need to Unplug?

Written on October 2, 2012 at 5:01 pm , by

Is she laughing because of someone’s witty Tweet? (Photo by Laura Doss)

Could you go a week without the internet and tech gadgets? That’s right, no laptop, Kindle, iPad, iPhone or even your Garmin. This woman did, and we’re part jealous, part amazed. To be honest, you might have to shuttle us to an empty mountain cabin and lock it to stop us from going online. But a recent decision to include Internet Addiction in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-V) is making us think twice before we log on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Gchat.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, signs for Internet Addiction would include “withdrawal symptoms when Internet is taken away; unsuccessful attempts to control Internet gaming use; has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity because of Internet gaming use.”

While we may need to cut back on browsing through those Instagram photos (your food shots are making us hungry!), we think we’ve still got a handle on our real life relationships and tasks that don’t require smartphones that a full-on internet cleanse is not quite necessary. Though we’ll have to start checking our inbox less frequently: New research found that taking email vacations decrease stress and increase productivity.

What about you? Do you need to cut back on your Web use?

Hot Topic Tuesday: How Can We Slow Down the Obesity Epidemic?

Written on September 18, 2012 at 1:48 pm , by

Some bad news for our scales. (Photo by Denise Crew)

By Deanna Cioppa, editorial intern

Today, two organizations that campaign against the obesity epidemic in America have released statistics that point to a dark and unhealthy future. According to the Associated Press, this new report predicts that by 2030, the obesity (not just overweight) rate in 39 states will be over 50 percent. Let that sink in.  The two organizations, Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation used data collected by the CDC and other governmental sources and examined trends to make these predictions.

What’s even more stunning is that the obesity rate in the other 11 states and the capitol will be just under 50 percent, with Colorado coming in as the lightest state at 45 percent, and Washington, D.C. coming in at a cool 33 percent by 2030. Mississippi tops the list with a 67 percent obesity rate by 2030. According to the report by Trust for America’s Health, the national cost of treating the diseases stemming from this level of obesity will be a staggering $66 billion per year.

One-third of Americans are currently obese, and the CDC predicts that as a nation, a full 42 percent of Americans will be obese by 2030. The question is how can Americans turn the tide on this catastrophic number?

Now you tell us: What do you think is the most important factor in slowing America’s rising obesity rates?

Hot Topic Tuesday: Are Kids’ Pole Dancing Classes OK or Too Risque?

Written on September 11, 2012 at 11:50 am , by

Don't try this at home?

If Toddlers and Tiaras makes you uncomfortable, wait until you read this. A dance and fitness studio in Canada has announced that it is offering pole dancing classes for kids. Duncan’s Twisted Grip Dance and Fitness Studio on Vancouver Island in British Columbia says that these Little Spinners classes are about fitness, not sexuality, and that kids’ sessions will not involve provocative moves.

While we’ll admit that pole dancing is one heck of a workout (and a fun one, too!) and that kids today do need to get more exercise, we’re not sure if we want girls (and boys) as young as 5 learning dances that originally had sexual connotations. What happened to the good old jungle gym or soccer camp?

Tell us: What do you think? Is Little Spinners a good idea, or should the pole be limited to adults only?