January 23, 2013 at 5:36 pm , by Amelia Harnish
It’s not yet the end of January, which means you’re probably still on track for reaching your healthy resolutions. But maybe you’re starting to get really, really bored with the elliptical? We normally eschew trendy exercise routines, but trying something new (and maybe a little outside your comfort zone) every once in a while is a great way to keep things interesting. Here are a few fun fitness trends you might want to check out.
1. Spin for the Soul
Spinning classes have always been popular at gyms, but cycling seems to be taking over. You may have heard about the almost cult-like classes at SoulCycle, described recently as “part dance party, part therapy, part communal high,” or the rival Flywheel Sports, which bills classes as an “amazing escape.” If you need a new obsession, you might start there. Or you could try spinning for good at Cycle for Survival, a series of fundraising events at Equinox Fitness Clubs across the country. Participants spend the day cycling to raise money for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s rare cancer research, a sadly underfunded cause. Anyone can sign up! Learn more here.
2. Unwind with Self-Massage
The MELT method is a series of gentle exercises and self-massage techniques using balls and foam rollers. Sue Hitzmann, a manual therapist and exercise instructor who developed the technique, opens her new book by explaining how she learned to manipulate natural “vibrations” to “restore balance in the body.” Sounds wacky, I know. But I decided to try one of her classes here in New York City recently because I’ve heard foam rollers can work wonders on achy muscles, and I wanted to learn more. Hitzmann showed us simple exercises for massaging our feet and hands using rubber balls, along with some breathing techniques. It felt pretty good, but it wasn’t until we moved on to massaging our spines using a soft foam roller that I converted. I sit at my computer constantly, which is murder for the neck and shoulders. I’ve tried everything from yoga to chair massages, but nothing has released the tension in my upper back as quickly as Hitzmann’s techniques. You can buy supplies and how-to DVDs at Hitzmann’s web site or look up a MELT class near you.
3. Play Like A Kid
Gyms can be expensive or intimidating, which is why we love the idea of “natural movement” fitness. If harsh lighting and communal locker rooms just don’t sound appealing, something like MovNat might be right for you. Instead of training by lifting weights or running on a treadmill, natural movement systems like MovNat focus on the ways you played as a kid: running, jumping, climbing and so on. Erwan Le Corre, who created MovNat in 2008, recently described it this way to Time HealthLand: “This isn’t about the elite fitness of winning gold medals. It is about doing the movements that make us humans, and acquiring a physical competence that we can maintain for a lifetime.”
January 16, 2013 at 4:01 pm , by Amelia Harnish
Did you get your hands on a February issue yet? We announced our first round of Journalistas, a team of bloggers we’ll be working with to bring even more cool stuff to the Journal. In the spirit of the new year, we started with our favorite health-savvy ladies. We will be tapping them for fresh takes and great advice on health, nutrition and exercise. The team’s first assignment? Share your healthy-living philosophy in 140 characters or less.
Mizfit Online, @Mizfitonline
“My equation: move every day + meditation + mindful eating – negativity = feeling great!”
Carla Birnberg is a personal trainer, mom, blogger and fitness fiend. She’s been blogging since 2001, and she launched MizFitOnline in 2007 to share health and fitness knowledge with people who don’t have time or money for their own personal trainer. Besides her thoughtful advice and witty tweets, we love Mizfit’s tagline: “Because fitness isn’t about fitting in.”
Lisa Cain, Ph.D.
Snack Girl, @Snack_Girl
“Small steps make big changes. Fall in love with healthy food. Guilt is a waste of time.”
Lisa Cain may have a doctorate in evolutionary biology, but her real obsession is healthy food, specifically healthy snacks. She and her husband Matt try their best to stay away from too much packaged stuff and instead focus on creating recipes with fresh veggies from their backyard garden. She shares lots of tips for incorporating fresh ingredients and her recipes are so creative, like this zero-guilt chunky onion dip or these DIY peanut butter cups.
Toni Carey and Ashley Hicks, co-founders
Black Girls Run, @BlackGirlsRun
“It’s simple: water, yoga, running and balance,” says Carey
“My recipe for healthy living: run, eat clean and meditate,” says Hicks
According to the CDC, four out of five African-American women are overweight or obese, an unacceptable statistic if you ask the ladies behind Black Girls Run. Toni Carey and Ashley Hicks launched the site in 2009 to encourage African-American women to make exercise and healthy eating a priority. Besides the inspiring blog, you can organize a running group and stay motivated by joining the BGR network.
Lisa Collier Cool
Yahoo! Day in Health, @LisaCollierCool
“To boost heart and brain health, I clip on a pedometer every a.m. and go.”
Lisa Collier Cool is an award-winning health journalist and author whose work has appeared in the Journal. She blogs about the day’s health news for Yahoo!, which means writing about everything from new research on redheads to how to get six-pack abs.
Fitbottomed Girls, @FitBottomedGirl
“Walk my pup, eat veggies and lean protein, and do what brings me joy!”
FitBottomedGirls started as a way for two fitness-obsessed friends to stay in touch. Now it’s an online fitness mecca. Jenn Walters updates multiple times each day with everything from DVD reviews to tidbits on healthy eating to personal exercise triumphs (and trials).
Fitbottomed Mamas, @FitBottomedMama
“Eat breakfast every day, get plenty of sleep, run around with my kids, love and laugh.”
Even before the Fitbottomed Girls got pregnant, they thought a site for busy moms to get fitness advice was a great idea. So after Erin Whitehead gave birth to her daughter, she and Walters launched their sister site for FitBottomed Mamas. She posts tons of advice for fitting exercise into your schedule, working out when you’re pregnant or recently post-partum and staying healthy while managing the demands of a growing family.
Watch for our health Journalistas online and in the magazine, and stay tuned to meet our beauty and style teams!
Categories: Health, Ladies' Lounge | Tags: Ashley Hicks, Black Girls Run, Carla Birnberg, Erin Whitehead, Fitbottomed Girls, FitBottomed Mamas, Jenn Walters, Journalistas, Lisa Cain Ph.D, Lisa Collier Cool, MizfitOnline, Snack Girl, Toni Carey, Yahoo! Day In Health | 3 Comments
January 9, 2013 at 11:38 am , by Amelia Harnish
‘Tis the season for New Year’s Resolutions, which means all over the country people are renewing their vows to get fit and lose that weight. Are you working on your own health goal? We figured you might be.
It’s a sad truth that most women who resolve to get their butts in gear in January are back to their old habits by springtime. That’s why we asked Carla Birnberg, the personal trainer behind MizFitOnline.com and a member of our brand new blogger network, to give us some novel tips for sticking with it.
Do less than you think you can do.
Yes, you read that right. Do less. It’s not helpful to push yourself as hard as you can when you’re first getting started, Birnberg says. That’s just going to lead to burnout. Instead, jog fewer miles at a slower pace than you think you can do, or better yet, start by simply going for an evening walk and build from there.
Play instead of work.
Instead of thinking about exercise as another chore, turn your workouts into a game. One of Birnberg’s favorite things is playing hopscotch with her daughter. The hopping around works your balance, core strength and it gets your heart pumping. It’s fun, calorie-torching perfection, she says. (That’s Birnberg above during one of her recent “playouts” with her daughter.)
Break your big goal into smaller goals.
So you want to lose 20 pounds? That takes a long-term commitment, which can easily wane when you don’t see any payoff right away. Instead, try breaking it down into a bunch of smaller goals. For example: “This week I’ll go for a jog three times,” or even, “Today, I will eat five servings of vegetables.” Not only does this way give you more chances to succeed and gain confidence, it also forces you to recommit to your big goal every day.
December 18, 2012 at 11:37 am , by Amelia Harnish
In addition to your mammogram and colonoscopy, the CDC wants you to add another screening to your list: a one-time blood test for hepatitis C.
Ever heard of it? Don’t worry if you haven’t; you’re not alone. When people find out my father died of hepatitis C, I can count on two reactions. The first is, of course, “I’m so sorry to hear that.” The second is confusion.
Hepatitis C starts out as a virus in your blood after a needle stick, blood transfusion or other blood exposure. Some people exposed to the virus can clear it, but for 75 to 85 percent of people the infection becomes chronic and can lead to liver scarring (known as cirrhosis), liver failure and liver cancer. Chronic infections may not cause symptoms for 20 to 30 years, when damage to the liver is already done.
“There are between 3 and 4 million people infected, and the vast majority of them are baby boomers who don’t know it,” says Martha Saly, executive director of the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable. That’s why the CDC recently announced recommendations urging anyone born between 1945 and 1965 to get tested.
Before 1992, there wasn’t a test for it, so it was impossible to screen for hepatitis C in the blood supply. As a result, many people were infected from a transfusion they got years ago. Other common ways of transmission include a history of needle drug use or contact with unsterile instruments, say, at a tattoo and piercing parlor or through a needle stick, says Shmuel Shoham, M.D., an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a member of the LHJ Medical Advisory Board. But there are plenty of people who don’t know how they got it.
While new cases of hepatitis C have remained low since the early ’90s, experts are bracing for the crop of people who were infected years ago and need to be treated. Deaths from hepatitis C have risen steadily for more than a decade to more than 15,000 in 2007, says Bryce Smith, lead health scientist from the CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis.
When my dad was diagnosed in 2004, no one ever talked about hep C, and by the time he got tested he was already really sick. It’s bittersweet to see it in the news so much lately now that new treatments bring the cure rate up to 80 percent. I know the thought of another screening test may sound daunting, but trust me, it’s worth the peace of mind. If every boomer did it, the CDC estimates that it will save more than 120,000 lives.
Infographic via the CDC. Click here for an enlarged, shareable version you can post on your Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest to spread the word about screening for hepatitis C.
Categories: Health, Ladies' Lounge | Tags: Bryce Smith, Hepatitis C, infectious diseases, liver cancer, liver disease, liver failure, Martha Saly, National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable, screening, Shmuel Shoham | No Comments
November 7, 2012 at 1:54 pm , by Amelia Harnish
As the Northeast hunkers down for another difficult storm today, we wanted to share some pictures we snapped this past week during Hurricane Sandy. LHJ staffers were pretty lucky. We’re all safe, back at work and most of us have power (keyword: most). New York City is crawling back toward normal, but we’re not there yet. So many of our neighbors are without electricity and heat. We’re still cleaning up and assessing the damage. Worst of all, lots of people lost their homes and some even lost their lives.
If you’d like to help, check out these great organizations working to restore New York, New Jersey and other places along the East Coast that are still suffering and make a donation if you can. Share your own experiences or ways to help in the comments.
• American Red Cross The Red Cross has 5,400 workers and 250 shelters spread from Virginia to Rhode Island. Donate online or text REDCROSS to 90999.
• Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund Tireless New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his wife Mary Pat established a relief fund of their own to restore the hardest-hit areas in New Jersey.
• United Way Hurricane Sandy Recovery Fund United Way has set up its own fund to help disaster areas with teams of volunteers and lots of supplies all along the Eastern Seaboard.
• The Mayor’s Fund for NYC Hurricane Relief You can donate directly to New York City’s recovery with an online donation or find in-person volunteer opportunities if you’re in the New York-area and want to help out.
Preparing for Hurricane Sandy
LHJ's health editor Julie Bain believes in being well prepared! Here she tests the batteries on her headlamp before the storm. She lost power at her place in Manhattan on Monday, October 29, and the lights came back on Friday night, November 1. The headlamp was great for walking up and down pitch-black stairwells, leaving her hands free. Read Julie's other lessons for storm preparedness here.
Categories: Do Good, Health, Ladies' Lounge | Tags: Do Good, Gov. Chris Christie, Hurricane Sandy, Mayor's Fund for New York City, New Jersey Relief Fund, Occupy Sandy, Red Cross, Sandy, United Way, volunteer | No Comments
October 24, 2012 at 4:48 pm , by Amelia Harnish
An army of soldiers, wearing everything from pink wigs and tutus to T-shirts with photos of loved ones, invaded New York City last weekend. They were there for the 10th annual Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, and the Journal team was there to capture it. We wanted to meet some of the women (and guys) who raised money to walk up to 26 miles around the island of Manhattan on Saturday, camp out on Randall’s Island and then finish with another 13-mile hike on Sunday. With that kind of commitment, we knew we were bound to find good stories.
We met a woman who signed up in honor of her grandmother and then got diagnosed herself before she finished fundraising. We met a woman with a pink ribbon tattoo on her ankle in memory of her mom, who lost her battle six years ago. We met a group of young men doing the walk for their girlfriends, sisters and mothers. (You’ll get to meet them all, too, in an upcoming issue.)
Sheri McCoy, Avon’s new CEO, joined the charge. She spoke at the opening ceremony and spent the day walking and talking with participants. I got to sit down and chat with McCoy, whose mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, after she crossed the finish line on day one (that’s her, above). “We had a woman tell her story on stage with me today who was diagnosed when she was only 27 years old. And the woman who spoke after me, her mother died just a few months ago. It was incredible that she was able to tell that story. I couldn’t have done it,” says McCoy, tearing up a little.
She clearly cares about this cause, as well as the more than 6 million Avon representatives she oversees, many of them women, across the United States and in countries all over the world. “As a manager, I want the people who work for Avon to be successful the same way I want my kids to be successful,” she says. “In motherhood and in business, you want to create an environment where people can achieve.” Her husband, who was the oldest of 13 kids growing up, did a lot of the childcare for their three boys, now 24, 22 and 20. “I’ve been fortunate to have the support—and to have worked for companies that are family friendly,” she says. “But I also had to learn to recognize what’s important, to prioritize and say no to things. It took maturity to say I can’t be perfect.”
During the week McCoy is up by 6 a.m. and often is in meetings or traveling until 9 p.m.. But the weekends are all hers. In addition to spending time with her boys, she’s a Zumba fanatic and bookworm. “Most of the time I have to read business journals and work-related things, so I love to pick up a James Patterson mystery. I can finish it in a few hours,” she says, smiling.
McCoy started her career at Johnson & Johnson as a scientist. She stayed with the company for 20 years, eventually leading the pharmaceutical division before coming to Avon in April. This was her first breast-cancer walk. “Avon has always been about empowering women,” she says. “Breast cancer is such a tough disease that touches so many people, so I wanted to be here. I’m inspired by the women participating, and I’m impressed that the foundation isn’t just working on awareness but getting the money to research and care.”
The New York City walkers raised an impressive $8.3 million this year. The majority goes to the Avon Foundation Breast Health Outreach Program, which focuses on screening and education. The rest goes to a variety of programs, including a grant to fund research on inflammatory breast cancer, a less common but very aggressive type of the disease, and support for women undergoing treatment.
Another pink October may be coming to a close, but McCoy is already looking ahead. “I walked with some women from California, and now I can’t wait to do the Santa Barbara walk next year,” she says.
October 10, 2012 at 1:46 pm , by Amelia Harnish
In a survey of Internet users, one in four adults said they’ve bought drugs online, yet close to 30 percent said they had no idea how to identify a fake pharmacy from a real one. Those are scary stats because only 3 percent of online pharmacies comply with U.S. laws, according to a study by the National Boards of Pharmacy.
Margaret Hamburg, M.D., commissioner of the FDA, wants to make people more aware of this problem. Health director Julie Bain and I (right, with Dr. Hamburg in the middle) had a chance to sit down with her in New York last week to discuss it.
LHJ: We didn’t realize so many people shop online for drugs. What are the main reasons for doing it? Is it really as easy as putting something in your shopping cart and pressing enter?
MH: People do it for both convenience and cost. For some, it may be that their insurance company suggests they buy through the internet, and the insurance company recommends a certain site. That’s a safe way to go. But the danger is that when people get used to ordering online, they may start shopping around for cheaper prices on other sites. In these difficult economic times, it’s understandable that people want to look for the best price. But when it comes to medication, if it’s really cheap, then it probably isn’t the real thing.
And if it is as easy as just putting it in your cart, that is a major warning signal. You could never go to your brick and mortar pharmacy and get a prescription drug without a written prescription. So it’s a red flag online.
LHJ: What should women look out for if they do buy drugs online?
MH: There is real reason for concern that the product may be counterfeit or substandard, meaning it may not have the appropriate amount of the active pharmaceutical ingredients. It might have too little, too much, or it might have other ingredients or additives. Sometimes it can even be toxic, and your heath is too important to take a risk like that.
Safe and licensed online pharmacies exist, but your antenna has to go up every time. There are four key points to look for:
- Does the site require a prescription? (Your doctor’s office may need to send it electronically to the site, or sometimes you can scan a paper prescription.)
- Does it have a pharmacist available to answer your questions?
- Does it list a U.S. address and telephone number?
- Is it licensed?
If the answer is no to any of these questions (especially number 1), it may not be a reputable site. How do you determine if it’s licensed? On the BeSafeRx FDA site, click on your state, then scroll down to where you can enter the name of the pharmacy.