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Hot Topic Tuesday

Hot Topic Tuesday: How Do You Feel About Restaurant Special Orders?

Written on April 3, 2012 at 5:29 pm , by

Some chefs scoff if you ask for dressing on the side. (Photo by Peter Ardito)

Later this week, pizza giant Domino’s will begin airing commercials that, in the words of Amy Winehouse, will say “no, no, no” to customers who want to make special orders. While slice lovers can still top as they please on regular pies, they must order artisan pizzas as-is. According to Domino’s, their chefs have worked so hard to balance the flavors—and they want diners to experience them just that way.

Many higher-end restaurants have had a “no special order” policy for years, with management citing kitchen efficiency or chef preference as the cause. As a special orderer myself (hold the mayo, please), I appreciate having the option to slightly tweak the menu offerings to suit my tastes and dietary preferences. I figure if I’m making small requests while being polite and leaving a larger tip, it should all work out. But Domino’s and others seem to think otherwise.

How about you: Do you feel that those who request different preparations are being too picky? Or do you like the option to make your meal you own?

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Hot Topic Tuesday: A Picture’s Worth A Thousand Words

Written on March 27, 2012 at 5:49 pm , by

What are you thinking when you see profile photos? (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

Admit it: you spend more time on Facebook than you probably should. It’s OK, we all do it. But did you know that every time you take a peek at someone’s page, especially their profile picture, you’re making a snap judgment? At least, that’s what a new study from a team of researchers at Ohio State University says.

The study had 195 college students peering at one of four mock profiles of someone who appeared to be a fellow student. Everyone looked at the photo and “about me” section. After review, participants were asked to rate how extroverted they thought the student was on a scale of 1 (least extroverted) to 7 (most extroverted). The majority of people make the final call based on pictures, not words. If the picture made the person appear outgoing and fun, that’s how they were rated, regardless of the text. Same goes if you switch the scenario.

Of course, there’s an exception to every rule: if the image appeared out of the ordinary or placed someone in a negative light, participants took the time to read the profile and really determine what kind of person the student was. So if you’re looking for someone to really evaluate your profile, try an unexpected image or a more somber-looking one.

In a world where we’re constantly bombarded with information, it makes sense that people are looking for a quick summation of traits wherever they can. But what about not judging a book by its cover? Either way, if you’re looking to impress someone for say, a job, cleaning up your profile and activating the security options might not be a bad idea.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Now you tell us: Stop and think about your recent profile views. Do you form an opinion based on images alone? Should people bother taking the time to read up about someone?

Hot Topic Tuesday: The Cinnamon Challenge

Written on March 20, 2012 at 5:11 pm , by

A sprinkle in our oatmeal? Great. A spoonful straight-up? Not so cool. (Photo by Chris Gallo)

A disturbing, strange trend is making the rounds in schools and on YouTube. Have you heard of the Cinnamon Challenge? The “dare” is to swallow a tablespoon of ground cinnamon, without drinking anything, in less than one minute.

While it’s been flying under our radar until recently, the Cinnamon Challenge has been around since the early 2000s. It gained popularity recently across the globe when Big Brother UK used it as a challenge in 2011, and last month Illinois Governor Pat Quinn tried it on-air during a radio show. More than 30,000 individuals attempting the challenge have uploaded videos online involving the challenge, and some have more than 10 million views!

Cinnamon is certainly nutritious when you use it sparingly in recipes (it can lower blood pressure and cholesterol). In this case, however, it can be downright dangerous. Since it’s nearly impossible to avoid inhaling some of the spice, it’s very irritating to your lungs. The challenge often causes severe coughing and can even lead to pneumonia or an asthma attack, health experts have claimed. Even a site dedicated to the challenge includes a disclaimer that says, “It’s going to burn. You are going to cough, and regret you tried…” Yet many still give it a shot, trying to prove to their pals that they have the nerve (and kids have even been found to sneak cinnamon into school inside roomy boots to try this).

Now tell us: Have you talked to your youngsters about this topic? What do you think school leadership and others can do to limit the popularity of the Cinnamon Challenge?

Hot Topic Tuesday: How Far Would You Go For Good Athletic Performance?

Written on March 13, 2012 at 3:27 pm , by

Some athletes are giving their training sessions the cold shoulder—and arm, leg, back... (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

How does stepping into a room cooled to -250 degrees sound? What if you were donning just sports bras, shorts and socks?

Certain athletes in the UK are taking their workout cooldowns very seriously, in hopes that the frigid temps will help them recover more quickly after intense workouts. Rugby players in Wales use beyond freezing “cryotherapy chambers” during training camp, as do Olympic track and field stars. They stand in them for about the length of one song to reduce inflammation and “allow them to train in a way that would be impossible under normal conditions,” according to one athlete quoted in a Wales Online story. In fact, the Wales rugby team has reached the World Cup semi-finals this year, which is their best showing since 1987.

Now, non-athlete residents of Poland have the opportunity to try out the cold closets themselves after their sessions on the elliptical machines. FITNESS experts have noted that a slightly tamer method of this concept, like taking an ice bath after a workout, can help prevent soreness down the road. But it does bring on a severe case of the shivers.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Now tell us: Would you be willing to soak in an ice bath to recover more quickly? How about hanging out in a beyond-freezing room?

Hot Topic Tuesday: Is There Such a Thing As Too Fit, Too Soon?

Written on March 6, 2012 at 3:06 pm , by

This is what we think of when we hear "active kids." (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

Watch this video and try to keep your jaw off the floor! Claudi and Giuliano Stroe, ages 5 and 7, might just be the strongest grade school kids we’ve ever seen. While we feel accomplished if we can knock out a few standard pull-ups, these two adorable boys from Romania are completing the so-called “human flag” (picture them hanging horizontally from a floor-to-ceiling bar) and doing a pull-up motion from that position.

Like this 10-year-old bodybuilder we told you about last summer, this pair trains…and they train hard. They began exercising when they were 2 and now hit the weights with their dad for two hours every morning.

Which brings us to today’s hot topic discussion: Do you think that it’s healthy and inspiring for these kids to start so young? We’ve all seen the startling childhood obesity statistics, and these kids are certainly not following that trend. But there is something to be said about letting active kids be kids (not mini-adults) with their jump rope rhymes, Capture the Flag games and bike rides—away from the gym.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Now tell us: Do you find these fit kids to be motivational wellness all-stars or do you think it’s too much too soon?

Hot Topic Tuesday: Should Your Doctor Give You an Exercise Rx?

Written on February 28, 2012 at 11:39 am , by

Take one dose of sweat five to six times each week. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

Whether you’re looking to lose a few or not, we all know that exercise plays an important role in overall health, from lowering your blood pressure to decreasing your risk for diabetes. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Interview Survey found that just one in three patients say that their doctors suggested that they exercise more or keep up with their fitness regimen during their checkups and office visits during the last year.

You know the drill: No matter what your visit is about, your M.D. will check your temperature, peek in your eyes and ears and take your pulse. But do you think it’s your doc’s responsibility to also check in on your exercise habits? And why don’t you think they talk more about physical activity now? (Could it be that they are worried about offending you, crunched with a full patient schedule or perhaps even they have difficulty squeezing in fitness during their packed days?)

Sound off in the comments!

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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Hot Topic Tuesday: Cholesterol Screenings for 9-Year-Olds?

Written on February 14, 2012 at 4:01 pm , by

The family that plays together stays (fit) together. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

There’s a lot of talk about hearts lately, seeing as it’s Valentine’s Day. Here at FITNESS, we’re strong believers that if you take care of your ticker from an early age, you’ll set your whole body on the right track for the rest of your life. But an interesting report recently published in the journal Pediatrics got us thinking: Should these healthy habits involve more than serving nutritious family dinners and making exercise a priority as a family?

If several medical professionals quoted in the report and in The New York Times have their way, cholesterol screenings may soon be the norm for anyone age 9 and older. They claim that pinpointing genetic and lifestyle risks (family history and childhood obesity, among others) for high cholesterol  at a young age can increase life expectancy and promote healthier habits.

But opponents are worried that making these screenings mandatory, rather than just suggesting them for high-risk youth, would be more than just expensive for the health care system. False positives can occur and some fear that doctors may try to “treat” obesity and high cholesterol with a pill rather than promoting healthier ways to manage weight struggles.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Now tell us: Do you think pediatricians should screen all kids, from 9 and up, for high cholesterol? Or do you think tests will lead excess stress from false positives and over-medication?

Hot Topic Tuesday: Would You Buy Your Valentine a Healthy Gift?

Written on February 7, 2012 at 10:31 am , by

Will you wrap candy hearts or a heart-smart gift? (Photo by Peter Ardito)

Love is in the air and the hunt is on for the perfect gift for your Valentine. Whether it’s for someone you’re newly dating or your spouse of many years, a good present can mean a lot. You’ll also never live down a bad present, so it’s important to get it right!

If your honey is trying to lose a few lbs, you may be thinking that a gym membership or a few workout DVDs would make for a perfect gift. Unfortunately, recipients might read this gesture as “honey, I think you need to spend more time on the treadmill” or “I love you, but I don’t love your love handles.”

There are a few health-minded gifts that we wouldn’t mind unwrapping, like:

  • A spa gift card
  • Dinner for two at a nice restaurant with healthy options
  • Dark chocolate
  • Red wine

But just remember to watch your step if you opt for goodies that don’t say, “I love you just the way you are!” (And a final hint to guys out there: We love our Spanx, but we can take care of that investment on our own.)

Now tell us: Will you have health in mind during your Valentine’s Day shopping? What is the best gift you’ve ever received on February 14?

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?

Hot Topic Tuesday: What If You Got Fined for Skipping a Workout?

Written on January 24, 2012 at 9:36 am , by

Would this app keep you motivated? (Photo by Alexa Miller)

Many of us pay a hefty price for a membership, but what if it cost you more money not to go to the gym? That’s the concept behind GymPact, an app for your iPhone or iPod Touch (and soon to be on the Android), that lets you set a penalty fee if you don’t stick to your gym agenda.

How does it work? You tell the app the number of times you want to go to the gym every week and the amount you’re fined if you don’t meet your goal. At the gym (or your local park, yoga studio or swimming pool), you can check in using your iPhone’s GPS or Wi-Fi on your iPod Touch. If you meet your weekly schedule, you’ll get cash from the people who missed their workouts.

Now tell us: Have you tried GymPact? Would getting fined make you stick to your fitness routine?