Doctors and nutritionists agree that a fast metabolism is a key to long term health, fitness and weight control. The idea: energy, calorie burning and immunity to some sicknesses are among the benefits of a healthy metabolism.
Here are some simple tips to speeding up your metabolism:
SHORTEN UP ON SUGAR
Foods with processed and refined sugar slow down your metabolism because they take longer for the body to process. Complex carbohydrates are much better: they have the right amount of sugar for your body digest efficiently and quickly. Fresh fruits, peanuts, beans and cheese fit the bill.
EAT YOUR BREAKFAST
You heard it from your mother for years. Breakfast is the most important meal. Though you may not be
hungry when you first awake, eating something will kick start your metabolism and keep it going all day long. Carbohydrates and whole grains are your best bet for generating energy and curbing your hunger.
These eight water-soluble vitamins play important roles in cell metabolism. When deprived of these vitamins, the body is left feeling fatigued and depressed which can cause weight gain, offset some diseases and slow down the metabolism. Foods high in B vitamins (including thiamine, ribolfavin and niacin) include spinach, broccoli, beans, asparagus
As the body ages, it burns calories more slowly. The best solution is to build lean muscle with cardio exercise, roughly 20-30 minutes per day. Add to that a little weight loss.
TRADE COFFEE FOR TEA
Coffee contains the kind of caffeine that places stress on the body. Green tea contains the kinds of antioxidants that improve health and boost the metabolism.
Drinking water will help flush the body of poisons and helps keep the metabolism on an even keel. Ice cold water has been proven to actually jump start the metabolism while staving off feelings of hunger. Conversely, alcohol is a depressant. It depresses your metabolism and causes an increase in appetite
One-on-one sessions with personal trainers definitely get results. But those taut muscles don’t come cheap. Group classes, however, offer gym goers a budget-friendly option to tone, stretch, and strengthen their bodies, and provide an ever-changing slate of options that ensure you won’t be bored while you’re busting your butt. To join the masses and punch up your workout regime, give one of these classes a try.
Zumba. Instructors describe this part-dance, part aerobics fitness program as “salsa aerobics,” which is fitting seeing that Zumba was inspired by Latin dance in the mid-90s. Zumba classes combine easy-to-follow Latin and International dance steps with body-sculpting movements. In other words, it turns exercising into a rousing dance party.
Bollywood. Also a dance-focused fitness class, the Bollywood workout stems from dance movies seen in hit Indian films (Bollywood is the name for the Hollywood-like film industry in India). Classes offer participants a calorie-burning, full-body sculpting and stretching routine; what’s more, the routine’s sexy appeal keeps participants far more interested in working out than walking on a treadmill ever could.
Boot camp. Boot-camp-style classes have been around for years, and yet they continue to be popular with participants because they provide a change of pace from traditional cardio-and-weight-lifting programs. These workouts focus on targeting large muscle groups through specific movies, such as lunges, squats, and push-ups, and can burn up to 600 calories per session.
Functional Fitness. Perfect for people who want to train for a specific activity like running a marathon, or simply for everyday activities like lifting groceries or chasing after the bus, functional group fitness classes help participants ready themselves for life outside their gym. These classes help build strength, endurance, and stamina; a surfing class might use a BOSU Balance Trainer to prep participants for surfing season, while a basketball class puts participants through drills to get them into shape just in time to join the company intramural team.
Anybody can lie on a beach and drink rum punch all day. But if you’re itching for an adrenaline rush, consider one of these heart stopping getaways.
Surfing on Hawaii’s North Shore (or Costa Rica!)
Many think that surfing Oahu’s legendary North Shore is only for the pros, but that’s not the case year-round. The ladies of Kelea Surf Spa teach groups of women how to tackle the waves in a protected spot ideal for beginners (though they are more than happy to accommodate more advanced surfers). Guests of the spa stay in a local home-turned-guesthouse and are treated to a massage as well as all meals, yoga and nature walks during this vacation. At Kelea, they say your “greatest worry is sand in your surf wax,” and they might be right. There is a recently opened outpost in Costa Rica, as well. www.keleasurfspa.com
Dogsledding in Maine
Okay, it’s safe to assume that you’ve never thought of yourself as much of a dogsledder, but think of all the people you’ll impress at cocktail parties! Outward Bound, the leader in outdoor wilderness education, conducts a weeklong, women-only dogsledding expedition through either the Mahoosuc mountains, the White Mountain National Forest or on the Rangeley Lakes, the most spectacular places in western Maine. Previous dogsledding and skiing is not a requirement, but you probably shouldn’t sign up on this vacation, if you hate dogs or the cold. Outbound Wilderness Dogsledding
Anything in Queenstown, New Zealand
What adventure travel list would be complete without mention of Queenstown, New Zealand, dubbed the ‘Adventure Capital of the World’? A city seemingly fueled by adrenaline, Queenstown offers jet-boating (basically power boating down rivers), white water rafting, skydiving, hangliding, river sailing, paragliding and bungy jumping. The nightlife is no letdown, either. With over 160 bars and cafes in downtown Queenstown, the night offers up a whole different set of adventures. www.queenstown-nz.co.nz
Safari through Botswana
Do you have any idea what a wildebeest looks like? Then find out! Botswana in Southern Africa has plenty of them. Traverse the country with a highly regarded tour operation: Wilderness Tours, winner of National Geographic’s World Legacy Award for sustainable tourism. The Great Botswana Journey takes you on a vacation across the grand Okavango Delta, an oasis in the middle of a desert created by floodwater and home to a large diversity of wildlife, and to Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. www.wildernesssafaris.com
Whether you’re waiting for a train or chose the wrong cashier at the grocery store, biding your time in line can make you feel agitated and impatient. But you can actually be productive when you’re just standing around. Here’s how.
Make a to-do list. A pen and paper or your Blackberry always come in handy, especially when you’re waiting in line. You could ask the guy behind you to play tic-tac-toe, but you’re better off using the time to jot down a to-do list. Rather than letting millions of undone tasks float around in your head, just spending five minutes to write them down will make you feel accomplished and productive.
Get Zen. You can’t go anywhere, so you might as well just chill out. Literally. Do some discreet meditating by trying a technique called “mindful breathing” to clear your head and feel relaxed. The main idea is to simply focus on your breathing; acknowledge and then push away all distracting thoughts for a few blissful minutes. Experts say that doing this daily can reduce stress and make you feel more balanced.
Take inventory. Need an Oil Change? Check. Dentist appointment?? Pick up Your dry cleaning? We all get so busy that sometimes our regular “maintenance” routines get lost in the shuffle. While you’re waiting for stamps, why not take notice of things you need to get done for you? Schedule a haircut if it’s been six months and take a mental note to schedule a doctor’s appointment you’ve been putting off.
Clean out your wallet. If your wallet is so packed you can barely close it, consider a little cleanup a project for passing the time. Organize your credit cards, business-card collection, and money into the right compartments. Remove useless receipts (like the one from Chinese takeout you picked up a month ago) to lighten your load.
Catch up on calls. You definitely don’t want to be “that person ” talking 10 decibels louder than everyone else, but if you can keep your voice at a respectable level, definitely return those calls you’ve been meaning to. This way Grandma can’t say you never call her…
Feed your brain. Read the magazine that’s been in your bag all week, do a crossword puzzle, or get to the last chapter of the book you’ve been dying to finish. Even if you just want to play Brickbreaker on your BlackBerry, being stuck in line is more fun when you have something to keep your mind moving and become productive!
Everything’s going well: Your career is on track, you love where you live, and your family is thriving. Then something terrible happens – you’re diagnosed with a serious illness. Or maybe you’ve been living with a condition for years, but it starts to get worse. Likely, you’re headed down a long road, hopefully toward recovery. Until then, how-and when-do you tell your employer that you’re sick?
For men and women in good health, issues such as medical leave and disability legislation rarely come to mind. But for those who have been diagnosed with a debilitating illness such as cancer, HIV, lupus, or even depression or bipolar disorder, these are important concerns. The more you know, the better prepared you’ll be to inform your boss of your situation. Here are some tips on how to start the conversation.
Know Your Rights. Before you approach your employer, it helps to be familiar with the laws that affect workers with serious medical conditions. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides protection from discrimination for people diagnosed with illnesses and/or disabilities. It also requires employers to provide you with “reasonable accommodations,” such as shorter work hours or reduced tasks, so that you can keep your job, even in a slightly diminished capacity. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employers must grant you up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to deal with a serous health condition. And don’t forget that your condition should never play into your employer’s decisions regarding salary and promotions.
Don’t Speak Too Soon.The time to share your condition with your employer comes only when you need to take advantage of an employee health benefit or you are looking for protection under the ADA, FMLA, or another state or federal law, says Pamela Wolf, an employment law analyst for CCH, a human-resources research firm. “Ask yourself if there is a legitimate reason why your employer needs this information,” she suggests. For example, will you need to take a leave of absence? If not, feel free to let everything stay on the down low.
Be Wary of Who You Tell. “Generally, an employee is under no obligation to voluntarily disclose to her employer information about a medical condition,” says Pamela. With that in mind, she advises operating only on a need-to-know basis: First tell just your boss; then, if necessary, HR. To protect your privacy, have the discussion in a private setting and avoid over-sharing with coworkers. “Coworkers do not need to keep your medical information confidential,” says Pamela. “While our society has come a long way, there is still an unfortunate amount of stigma attached to certain conditions, and there is a risk that your information will be viewed negatively or passed on to others.” After all, office gossip is the last thing you need.
Focus On What’s Important. Yes, your job provides you with a salary, kooky coworkers, and a place to call home from 9 to 5. But nothing – not even that major project for your firm’s most demanding client – ranks above your health. Spend the majority of your time focused on getting better, whether that means following a physical-therapy program prescribed by your doctor or just basking in some R & R after a difficult treatment session. If you need to take an extra day off, do it. The better you feel, the more you’ll be able to accomplish once you get back to the grind.
Save for the lucky few, most of us don’t have the time—or cash—required for daily blow-outs, weekly trims, or even monthly root touch-ups. Too bad keeping your hair “naturally” blond, frizz-free, and blindingly shiny (with just the right amount of volume) is practically a full-time job. Fortunately, a few simple shortcuts can help you fake the real thing. Read on.
Stop your split ends. In an instant, split ends on your hair can transform even the trendiest haircut into an unmanageable, dry, and unhealthy-looking mess. Ultimately the only cure for split ends is to cut them off, but a nourishing conditioning spray like CHI Shine Infusion Thermal Polishing Spray ($16), which smoothes the cuticle and makes ends appear less ragged, goes a long way to disguise them. The best defense is once-weekly use of a protein enhanced conditioning treatment—we like Frédéric Fekkai Protein Rx Reparative Treatment Mask ($30) that leaves hair silkier and stronger in about 15 minutes flat.
Rein in your roots. Coloring your hair is somewhat of a vicious cycle: If you do it too often, you risk major dryness, dullness, and breakage; not enough, you sacrifice the dimension and richness you were after in the first place—and you have unsightly roots. To strike the right balance, prep your hair with a pre-color deep conditioning treatment (conditioned hair absorbs color more readily, which means the color will fade less quickly). Post-color, hide any unwanted color shifts with a color-enhancing shampoo or conditioner every third or fourth time you wash. The plant-based dyes in these products, tint the hair’s outermost layers for less brassiness and more warmth and vibrance. Zigzagging your part is another way to make roots less noticeable.
Forget frizz. Frizz is caused by one of two things—air that is too dry or too humid. And the cause directly dictates the treatment. In a more arid environment (business travelers, beware: Recycled air on a plane is as dry as it gets), heavy-duty conditioning is in order (try Fresh Pomegranate Conditioning Hair Rinse; $26).
Degrease your do. So maybe you splurged on a salon blow-out and you want to get every last penny’s worth or you simply had no time to shampoo. Luckily, a powdered shampoo like Oscar Blandi Dry Shampoo Spray ($11) can make dirty hair clean again without a drop of water. Start by spraying the product on your part, and then re-part your hair every few inches and spray again. Massage the shampoo all over your scalp, style as usual, and walk out the door. Pure genius.
Cultivating a responsible beauty routine is a lot like nurturing a healthy relationship. There are things you need to check in on every day, and things that only need your attention once in a while. Here, the five tasks that should be a part of your everyday beauty routine, and what you can get away with addressing just once a week. The result: a head-to-toe gorgeous glow; maintain your beauty routine.
Your Skin Every day: Moisturize (with SPF 30 or higher!)
You know all of those fancy night creams, eye creams, and treatment masks whose lump-sum price rivals your mortgage? Well, you wouldn’t have to use them if you just worked that sunscreen a little harder. You won’t reverse skin damage, but there is no better way to prevent it. Another little-known fact? Sunscreen is moisturizer, so no need to fork over your paycheck for an expensive hydrator plus SPF; opt for an affordable, broad-spectrum block like Neutrogena Age Shield Sunblock, SPF 55. ($9.99; drugstore.com) Once a week: Exfoliate
Ridding your skin of its dead cells is the quickest path to a lit-from-within complexion. Give your face a mild scrub at night so it’s not vulnerable during the day to UV rays or environmental particles. We like Origins Never a Dull Moment face polisher. It’s infused with papaya and mango seeds, whose alpha hydroxy powers work miracles, even on sensitive skin. ($25; origins.com)
Your Hair Every day: Use products that enhance shine No matter what your hair texture, a touch of polish instantly
revives your whole look. Ouidad Shine Glaze Serum seals the deal (not to mention your hair’s cuticles) with vitamins A and E, plus plant botanicals. ($20; sephora.com) Once a week: Apply an overnight treatment
Now’s the time of year when hair becomes drier than British wit. Inject it with a little moisture (and a bit of sheen) by giving it some overnight TLC. Ted Gibson Overnight Repair is a protein-infused treatment that contains a cocktail of vitamins and plant extracts to restore thirsty hair back to its healthy, radiant state. (Bonus: It smells amazing—like a fabulous bouquet of flowers in a French park. Ooh la la!) ($99.95; blissworld.com)
Your Nails Every day: Use cuticle oil
We swear by Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil. A hybrid of vitamin E, jojoba oils, and sweet almond oil, this teensy tin contains a miracle salve that instantly transforms dishpan hands into supersmooth skin. Try it on dry elbows, too! (Around $8; visit ulta.com for retailers.) Once a week: Give your nails some protein
A healthy body needs a protein-rich diet, and your nails need this important nutrient too. One of the best ways to get it is with Barielle’s Nail Rebuilding Protein, a clear polish fortified with vitamin E that’ll bring weak, brittle nails back to good form. It’s particularly perfect for those of you weaning yourselves off acrylics or wraps. ($17.50; barielle.com)
Your Feet Every day: Use a foot scrub
Your pedicure will stay fresh longer (and your wallet will enjoy a boost) if you exfoliate daily with a good foot scrub. One to try: Art Deco Express Pedicure. Massage a dollop of this scrub—made with Himalayan crystal salt and apricot seed oil—into your calves and feet. In minutes, you’ll have spa-quality skin, right in your own shower! ($25; europeanbeautycollection.com) Once a week: Moisturize
The geniuses at Curel claim that their Targeted Therapy Foot Cream takes two nights to see results, but we were blown away with the silkiness of our normally callous feet after just one use. Slather on the cream— made with shea butter and coconut—before bedtime, throw on a pair of socks, and wake up the next day with rejuvenated skin. ($5.69; drugstore.com)
Peanut allergy can be life threatening, as any parent of an allergic child knows. There is always the danger of accidentally eating something that contains traces of peanuts, which can be enough to trigger a serious reaction. And although peanut allergy is not exactly common, it affects about 1.5million people in the US, and has recently increased among children at an alarming rate. One survey showed the allergy doubled among children between 1997 and 2002.
Some children luckily outgrow peanut allergy, but others have had to live with fear. There is promising new research, though, that offers hope for treatment and prevention. One study, released at the March conference of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, gave small, gradually increasing amounts of peanuts to severely allergic children ages 2-5. Over about 9 months, 9 out of 33 children were able to build up a tolerance. 2-1/2 years after the study began, five of the children are eating peanut butter sandwiches with no allergic reaction.
Another study focused on prevention and may give a clue as to why peanut allergy has increased. Published in the November, 2008 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the study suggests that eating peanuts in infancy will actually decrease a child’s chance of becoming allergic. This goes against the common wisdom. U.S., U.K. and Australian doctors have recommended against consuming peanuts during pregnancy, breastfeeding and babyhood. But this study, which compared children in Israel and the U.K., found that the British children were 10 times more likely to develop an allergy because they don’t eat peanuts early in life, whereas most Israeli children do.
Experts are cautious about these results and call for more research, but both studies shed light on a mysterious problem and offer encouraging news to parents.
Did you know that makeups have an expiration date? Indeed, they do. Since cosmetics are not required by law to have expiration dates printed on them, you can’t check the label. And like most people, you probably have tubes, brushes and jars sitting in your bathroom shelves that date back to the prehistoric age. Here is the heart of the issue: expired makeup can harbor dangerous and infectious bacteria. Let’s not go overboard since most makeup preservatives kill common bacteria for a period of time. But once items are opened and used, they do become a breeding ground. The longer makeup is exposed to air, to moisture, to heat and to the body, the more the danger grows. Here are some expiration date guidelines and some common sense approaches to keeping your makeup fresh.
You want your home to be spotless and shining, but a clean house shouldn’t come at the expense of your health—or the environment.
Sure, the usual old products work wonders, but traditional cleaners contain harsh chemicals that can cause health problems for you and the environment once washed down the drain. With some 80,000 chemicals in common use, there are still some that could have as-yet unknown toxic effects. There is little regulation of cleaning chemicals, and there are very few labeling requirements for products.
And with the average person using a multitude of harsh cleaners— one for the toilet, one for the mirror, one for surfaces, another to clean mildew from tiles, and then tons of other “specialized” cleaning products—the repeated exposures to toxic chemicals can really add up.
So what can you do to make your home a clean, green haven? Become a smart consumer and start reading the labels of every product you buy. Do your best to choose products that don’t contain phthalates, triclosan, chlorine bleach, benzalkonium chloride and ammonia, which can cause respiratory and hormonal problems and harm water quality.
Don’t know where to start on your quest to go green? Luckily, we’ve done the research for you and rounded up some safe and eco-friendly products to help you get your home squeaky-clean.
Method Anti-Bac Bathroom Cleaner ($4; method.com)
Powered by CleanWell, this minty fresh cleaner kills 99.9% of germs and removes soap scum—without harming you or the planet.
Twenty Mule Team Borax ($3; walmart.com)
Known for its ability to kill musty laundry odors and brighten whites, this naturally occurring mineral can also clean and disinfect kitchens and bathrooms.
Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds All-Purpose Cleaner ($7.50; drbronner.com)
A fantastic all-purpose cleaner that can be used to clean your entire house. Add a few drops of essential oils like sage or lavender for a truly decadent experience.
Bon Ami Powder Cleanser ($1.50, 3tailer.com)
Its been around for more than 120 years for good reason— the stuff works! Use it to scrub your bathtub and sinks for a sparkling clean finish without the harsh smell.
Ecover Cream Scrub ($4; drugstore.com)
Great for cleaning kitchen sinks, basins and stainless steel without petroleum-based ingredients. It won’t scratch and leaves no toxic residue!