“Comparing blood samples from the 1950s to the 1990s, Murray found that young people today are nearly five times as likely to have celiac disease, for reasons he and others researchers cannot explain. And it’s on the rise not only in the U.S. but also in other places where the disease was once considered rare, like Mexico and India. “We don’t know where it’s going to end,” Murray says. “Celiac disease has public health consequences.” And therefore, it has a market.”—Should We All Go Gluten-Free? - NYTimes.com
I’ll go for runs by myself – and even run up and down stairs until I’m bright red. I’ll go to yoga classes as often as possible. But do you think I can do a single biceps curl at home, even though I have free weights, fancy Lululemon exercise bands and a yoga mat perpetually rolled out on the living-room floor? Nope. Doesn’t happen.
I just can’t self-motivate when it comes to strength training.
So when I was invited to join a backyard kettlebells class with instructor Deborah Brewster, I couldn’t say no. My muscles would have preferred that I say no, but my brain overruled them. And that’s how I ended up swinging a kettlebell around at noon on a Saturday until my entire body wanted to collapse on the ground.
I’m kind of lazy, but not generally in front of a group – my pride tends to keep me going. (If you believe in astrology, you can blame it on my being a Leo.) So group classes have always been my go-to for strength training. Not only do I not have to think, but the motivation’s built in – and unlike personal training, you don’t have to suffer under your instructor’s undivided attention. Best of both worlds.
And Deborah’s class was a good one. Since a few of us were new to the bells, she had us switching around for different exercises so that we used the perfect weight. We worked through drills with upper body, lower body and abs, along with some high-knees running in place and a few “suicide sprints” (don’t they sound like fun?). While some exercises involved moving the kettlebell around, like swinging it in circles from left hand to right hand around your body, others had it held in place as we did exercises like V sit-ups (the kind where you back doesn’t touch the ground) and lunges. Okay, we were meant to be pressing the kettlebell up as we did the lunges, but all I could do at that point was hold it at my shoulder and hope not to let go.
After about six months of not lifting a single weight (other than my body weight in a few light climbing sessions and in yoga classes), it’s not surprising that this workout completely wiped me out and had my muscles screaming the next day. As for how kettlebells compare to free weights, I think the biggest thing for a beginner is that you’re learning new moves, which challenges your muscles in new ways – meaning it’s definitely a better workout. The bells also allow you to do different kinds of exercises than you can safely do with free weights. And most important, they let you know how weak you really are, which is why I’ll be back for more punishment.
It’s no secret that when we’re tired, we look, well, tired. One major reason is that a good night’s sleep helps our skin regenerate – so when we don’t get enough, it shows. (I for one always break out when I’ve missed too much shut-eye.) “During sleep, the skin’s metabolic rate speeds up and many of the body’s cells show increased production and reduced breakdown of proteins,” says Dr. Sandy Skotnicki, medical director of Bay Dermatology Centre, assistant professor at the University of Toronto and a spokesperson for Jergens. “Therefore cell regeneration is enhanced and blood flow is increased, and this allows for better assimilation of cosmetic active ingredients.”
For your best skin, Skotnicki recommends at least eight hours of sleep a night, and suggests the following tips for better rest:
1. Go to bed at the same time each night if possible.
2. Don’t exercise before bedtime.
3. In winter, run a cool mist humidifier or increase the central humidity on your heating.
4. Moisturize your face and body at night as the skin is more receptive to cosmetic ingredients due to increase regeneration and blood flow. (Skotnicki recommends the new Jergens Overnight Fix Nightly Restoring Moisturizer on your body.)
5. Do not drink alcohol before bedtime.
How much sleep do you get every night, and is it enough? What do you do when you need more sleep?
“Enter the You’ll Never Forget It contest and take travel back from the socks-and-sandals tourist crowd. If you’re chosen, you’ll be one of three winners to embark on an unforgettable trip to one of the hundreds of destinations served by G Adventures. In the company of our award-winning creative team, you’ll be joined by a videographer and photographer who will chronicle your adventure—which will be featured in print and online as part of the next G Adventures campaign. To be considered, we’re seeking creative submissions featuring your own ‘unforgettable moment’—a time when you broke out of the typical tourist ‘bubble’ and made a real connection with the world at its boldest, brightest and most beautiful. Whether in words, pictures or video, make it a good one that we’ll never forget.”—Very cool contest. (G Adventures: You’ll Never Forget It)
The researchers’ conclusion? While about 65% of people of European or African descent and about 44% of people of Asian descent carry the “fat gene” – which some of them use as an excuse to give up on trying to lose weight – just an hour a week of moderate exercise helps combat the gene’s effects. From the article:
“Often people feel that obesity runs in the family or that obesity is in their genes, and therefore feel they have no control over their weight issues,” Dr. Loos says. “Our study shows that physical activity plays a role in weight control, even in those who are genetically predisposed.”
It’s not that we don’t have healthy foods in our Canadian backyards. But sometimes, it’s fun to experiment with nutritious ingredients from farther afield. Try these seven picks from Peru, Brazil and the rest of South America for a creative twist on your regular meal plans.
Knock on wood, I haven’t had a cold yet this winter, but it’s inevitable at some point. And while I used to pop the cold pills all the time, lately, I find that decongestants make me feel awful and I save them for the worst of days, when I have to be out and about.
But ditching the drugs doesn’t have to mean feeling awful – there are ways to feel better. Number one, in my books? Take care of yourself: take a day off, sleep in, have a nap, have your s.o. pick up healthy takeout. Here are some more tips from Ernest Chow, professional services manager at Walmart Canada. With, um, my comments in brackets, because apparently I have a lot to say.
• Take a steamy shower or use a cool mist humidifier to help keep your nasal passages moisturized. [Steam also is nice for a congested chest. I like to pour just-boiled water in a bowl and put my face over it under a towel and breathe the steam for a few minutes.]
• Drink lots of fluids to stay hydrated. [Fresh-made carrot-orange-ginger juice is my favourite.]
• Try saline nasal sprays or drops to help moisturize your nose and improve your nasal passages. [Has anyone tried this? I’m also working up the courage to try a neti pot – any tips?]
• For a sore throat, try gargling with warm salt water. Dissolve a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water and gargle four times daily. [This is the suggestion my parents always gave me as a teenager and I always ignored. Now that I’m older and wiser I’ve realized it really works.]
• Drink hot liquids such as herbal teas to help soothe the throat, chest and nose and prevent dehydration. [Try making ginger tea: Pour just-boiled water over grated fresh ginger and steep. It’s really nice mixed with the juice of a lemon and a spoonful of honey.]
• Chicken soup might have a mild anti-inflammatory effect, and can also help keep you hydrated. [I don’t eat chickens, but any broth soup makes me feel better. I love the vegetarian black bean soup at Tacos el Asador in Toronto.]
What are your tricks to feel better when you’re under the weather?
It’s hard to know what to believe when study after study comes out reporting one thing and then the other. My solution? Combine research with common sense and knowing your own body. If coffee really makes you feel good and you enjoy it, keep drinking it. If it’s a crutch to cover up sleep deprivation and makes you jittery or unable to sleep well (a vicious cycle), cut back or cut it out.
Travel beauty: Dr. Hauschka Eye Solace and Moisturizing Mask
I’m in Calgary for business, and my arrival was very much a sudden jump into winter – from above-freezing temps in Toronto to highs of minus 20 here. Between the flight and the extra-dry Calgary air, plus a late night and not enough sleep, my skin has been screaming for moisture – think applying hand cream three times in a row – and my eyes have been red and tired.
So I’m thrilled I remembered to pack two new-to-me travel-friendly products from Dr. Hauschka. The Moisturizing Mask is a blend of protective beeswax and rose wax with almond, olive, avocado and jojoba oils to soothe and nourish – and the small tube with screw-on lid can easily be carried on the plane in your liquids bag. Eye Solace is a cooling and soothing oil-free eye compress – just soak two halves of a cotton pad with the herbal treatment and place on closed eyelids – that comes in handy single-use and easy-to-pack containers.
Last night I applied the mask and eye compresses before curling up under a blanket on my couch at the Hotel Arts. The mask was instantly soothing, and my eyes felt relieved after a long day of staring at screens. After about 10 minutes (the recommended time for the eye compresses to be applied – though the mask should strictly go on for 20) I removed both and curled up for a lovely night’s sleep free of irritated eyes and itchy, dry skin. These two are staying in my travel bag from now on.
Sparkling Hill contains the first spa in North America to offer a cold sauna, a treatment room in which temperatures get down to -110C (Fahrenheit users, that’s as cold as it sounds). Would you try it?
“There are four main things to know about chia,” says Edmonton-born Wayne Coates, known as the “father of chia” and professor emeritus at the University of Arizona, where he started studying the seed in 1991. “It’s the highest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids. It’s an antioxidant on par with wild blueberries. It has over 20 per cent protein, which is higher than wheat, and it’s a great source of soluble and insoluble fibre.”—Your Chia pet is good for you - Health - Macleans.ca
I guess the problem with stretching studies is people know what group they’re in – and generally have an opinion about whether stretching is useful before they join the study, which affects what they report to researchers.
So what do they advise? Stretch before exercise if you like it, but don’t feel like you have to. Do dynamic stretches – i.e., move around and warm up – before doing something like going for a run. And if you have tight spots in your muscles, by all means, stretch (and, I would add, massage) them.
Two or more sugar-sweetened drinks a day, researchers say, is linked to larger waists and a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes.
What’s interesting is they didn’t find the same link in men. In any case, it’s good reason to cut down on the sugar in your beverages. Try switching to coffee and tea without sugar if you’re used to drinking them sweetened – it doesn’t take long for your taste buds to adapt – and replace pop with a blend of pure fruit juice and sparkling water.