Archive for November, 2012

Surviving the “Silly Season” – ten tips for your survival

November 27, 2012

With Christmas almost upon us the following ten tips can help get you through the silly season relatively unscathed!

  1. Moderation is the Key! Look for areas where you can scale back chances to over-indulge. Assess you invitations and make some decisions: which parties do you want to go to? Choose the ones that you wish to drink alcohol at and keep the others alcohol free.
  2. Drink a glass of warm water with 1/4 lemon squeezed into it every morning—your liver loves this!
  3. Take a specific liver-protecting supplement that contains St. Mary’s Thistle. This herb is specific for protecting liver cells.
  4. Take a good quality B vitamin or multi before drinking alcohol. The B vitamins help your liver process and detoxify alcohol. There is also some research to show that they lessen/ prevent a hangover.
  5. Alternate an alcoholic drink with a glass of water.
  6. Fresh is best! Avoid deep fried and processed canapés and starters – go for ones that have vegetables or fresh foods as their base.
  7. Increase your exercise to off-set your extra calorie intake: 1 standard drink is roughly equivalent to the carbohydrates in 1 piece of bread and it takes at least 20 minutes of fast-paced walking to burn it off!
  8. Never turn up to an event ravenous! Make sure you maintain your protein intake throughout the day. If this has been a challenge for you, make sure you have a protein rich snack before heading out.
  9. Go for weight maintenance rather than focusing on weight loss – be kind to yourself. Set yourself realistic and achievable goals around your health and weight.
  10. Practice “Hara Hashi Bu” – A Japanese saying that translates to: ’Eat only until you are 80% full’. While it can take some practice, it will prevent you from consuming unnecessary calories. It’s the ultimate practice of moderation!

Information sourced from:           By Catherine Pritchard, Radiance Healthcare Centre

Exercise Away the Years :))

November 25, 2012

We all grew up thinking of exercise as sweating in gym class, and then, as the world evolved, spandex. But exercise plays a much bigger role in your health than you may know. Turns out exercise controls health dials throughout your body. Not simply in your muscles, but in your arteries, heart, liver, lungs — the list goes on.
When you push yourself hard enough to sweat you grow new cells — better cells. And so you get functionally younger. There are 70-year-old men and women out there with the hearts, lungs, and muscles of 30-year-olds. And there’s nothing special about them, except that they show up to exercise on a regular basis, and take it seriously when they do.

Chris Crowley, the co-author of Younger Next Year , first came to me as a patient at 65. He was heading into retirement, overweight and out of shape. After we talked about the life-changing power of exercise, he jumped into an exercise program with both feet, and more importantly, he stuck with it. Five years later, I took him into the lab and put him on the treadmill. At age 70, he scored among the fittest 10% of American men — but in the 40-45 age range! Chris has kept up the hard work. And now, at 78, he bikes 50, sometimes 100 miles in the Rockies, travels, lectures, laughs, and loves his life.

Joy Johnson is another success story I know. Never much of an athlete in school, Joy started running later in life. At age 80, she won her category in the New York City Marathon. But she wasn’t finished. She didn’t like her time and felt she could do better. So she stepped up her training program. At 81, she won her category again and knocked almost an hour off her previous time.

Chris and Joy don’t have any genetic advantages over you or anyone else. They just stepped up to the plate and made the decision to grow younger.

How much you exercise and what kinds of exercise you do are important. But what’s most important is that you make the choice right now between settling for “normal” aging, or getting younger in the upcoming years.

What are your thoughts on exercise and aging? Do you currently exercise? Why or why not?

Information sourced from:

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Chicken Salad

November 22, 2012

Serves 6


  • 500g cooked chicken breast, diced
  • 2 large handfuls baby spinach or mixed salad leaves
  • 1 ½ cups sliced celery
  • ½ cup diced red capsicum
  • 1 cup snow peas, trimmed
  • 1 cup diced red apples


  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp stevia
  • 1 Tbsp celery seeds
  • Fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste


  1. Combine salad ingredients in a large serving bowl.
  2. Whisk the dressing ingredients together.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad and serve.

Are you Addicted to YOUR Smartphone?

November 20, 2012

Why smartphones hook us in, plus tips on reclaiming your time and concentration.

By Susan Davis               
WebMD Feature

I’ll admit it: I check my smartphone compulsively. And the more I use it, the more often the urge to look at it hits me.

In the orthodontist’s office. Walking my kids to school. In meetings. Even while making breakfast. Sometimes it is in my hand before I even know what I’m searching for. Sometimes I tap the screen absent mindedly — looking at my email, a local blogger, my calendar, and Twitter.

I’m not the only one struggling with this very modern compulsion. According to a 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center, 46% of all American adults now own a smartphone — up a whopping 25% from 2011.

And smartphone use can get very heavy. In a study of 1,600 managers and professionals, Leslie Perlow, PhD, the Konosuke Matsushita professor of leadership at the Harvard Business School, found that:

  • 70% said they check their smartphone within an hour of getting up.
  • 56% check their phone within an hour of going to sleep.
  • 48% check over the weekend, including on Friday and Saturday nights.
  • 51% check continuously during vacation.
  • 44% said they would experience “a great deal of anxiety” if they lost their phone and couldn’t replace it for a week.

“The amount of time that people are spending with the new technology, the apparent preoccupation, raises the question ‘why?'” says Peter DeLisi, academic dean of the information technology leadership program at Santa Clara University in California. “When you start seeing that people have to text when they’re driving, even though they clearly know that they’re endangering their lives and the lives of others, we really have to ask what is so compelling about this new medium?”

Hook or Habit?

Whether smartphones really “hook” users into dependency remains unclear.

But “we already know that the Internet and certain forms of computer use are addictive,” says David Greenfield, PhD, a West Hartford, Conn., psychologist and author of Virtual Addiction: Help for Netheads, Cyber Freaks, and Those Who Love Them.

“And while we’re not seeing actual smartphone addictions now,” Greenfield says, “the potential is certainly there.”

A true addiction entails a growing tolerance to a substance (think drugs or alcohol) so you need more to get “high,” uncomfortable symptoms during withdrawal, and a harmful impact on your life, Greenfield says.

Computer technologies can be addictive, he says, because they’re “psychoactive.” That is, they alter mood and often trigger enjoyable feelings.

Email, in particular, gives us satisfaction due to what psychologists call “variable ratio reinforcement.” That is, we never know when we’ll get a satisfying email, so we keep checking, over and over again. “It’s like slot machines,” Greenfield says. “We’re seeking that pleasurable hit.”

Smartphones, of course, allow us to seek rewards (including videos, Twitter feeds, and news updates, in addition to email) anytime and anywhere. Is such behavior unhealthy?

That really depends on whether it’s disrupting your work or family life, Greenfield says.

Such a disruption could be small — like ignoring your friend over lunch to post a Facebook status about how much you’re enjoying lunch with your friend.

Or it could be big — like tuning out an distressed spouse or colleagues in a meeting to check email, or feeling increasingly stressed by the fact that everyone else seems to be on call 24/7, so we perhaps we should be, too.

Other researchers are seeing clear signs of dysfunction, if not an “addiction.”

According to a 2011 study published in the journal Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, people aren’t addicted to smartphones themselves as much as they are addicted to “checking habits” that develop with phone use — including repeatedly (and very quickly) checking for news updates, emails, or social media connections.

That study found that certain environmental triggers — like being bored or listening to a lecture — trigger the habits. And while the average user checks his or her smartphone 35 times a day — for about 30 seconds each time, when the information rewards are greater (e.g., having contact info linked to the contact’s whereabouts), users check even more often.

The Interrupted Life

Besides creating a compulsion, smartphones pose other dangers to our mental life, says Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.

“The smartphone, through its small size, ease of use, proliferation of free or cheap apps, and constant connectivity, changes our relationship with computers in a way that goes well beyond what we experienced with laptops,” he says. That’s because people keep their smartphones near them “from the moment they wake up until the moment they go to bed, and throughout that time the devices provide an almost continuous stream of messages and alerts as well as easy access to a myriad of compelling information sources.

“By design,” he says, “it’s an environment of almost constant interruptions and distractions. The smartphone, more than any other gadget, steals from us the opportunity to maintain our attention, to engage in contemplation and reflection, or even to be alone with our thoughts.”

Carr, who writes extensively in The Shallows about the way that computer technology in general may be diminishing our ability to concentrate and think deeply, does not have a smartphone.

“One thing my research made clear is that human beings have a deep, primitive desire to know everything that’s going on around them,” he says.

“That instinct probably helped us survive when we were cavemen and cavewomen. I’m sure one of the main reasons people tend to be so compulsive in their use of smartphones is that they can’t stand the idea that there may be a new bit of information out there that they haven’t seen. I know that I’m not strong enough to resist that temptation, so I’ve decided to shun the device altogether.”

Managing Your Smartphone Use

Can’t give up your phone altogether? Experts suggest these steps to control your usage:

  • Be conscious of the situations and emotions that make you want to check your phone. Is it boredom? Loneliness? Anxiety? Maybe something else would soothe you.
  • Be strong when your phone beeps or rings. You don’t always have to answer it. In fact, you can avoid temptation by turning off the alert signals.
  • Be disciplined about not using your device in certain situations (such as when you’re with children, driving, or in a meeting) or at certain hours ( for instance, between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.). “You’ll be surprised and pleased to rediscover the pleasures of being in control of your attention,” Carr says.

One group of business people at The Boston Group, a consulting firm, discovered just that when they participated in an experiment run by Perlow.

As described in her book, Sleeping with Your Smartphone, the group found that taking regular “predictable time off” (PTO) from their PDAs resulted in increased efficiency and collaboration, heightened job satisfaction, and better work-life balance.

Four years after her initial experiment, Perlow reports, 86% of the consulting staff in the firm’s Northeast offices — including Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C. — were on teams engaged in similar PTO experiments.

To manage my own smartphone well, more smartly, I weaned myself away from it.

I started by not checking it for 15 minutes at a time, then 30, then 60 (unless I was dealing with an urgent situation).

I decided to avoid using the web browser on the smartphone unless I truly needed information (such as an address or phone number).

And I swore off using social media on it entirely. I also made a firm commitment to not text, email, or surf the web on my smartphone while driving.

The result? Even after a few days of this self-discipline, I found that I was concentrating better, more aware of my surroundings, and more relaxed — and I was more aware of when I was looking for something specific, as opposed to just looking for some kind of connection.

If you’re addicted to your smartphone, latest survey says you’re not alone

Smartphone addiction

Do you use your smartphone in the loo? No, don’t tell me! If you think you’re alone, just check out how attached some people are to their mobiles. These stats were taken from a report issued by the UK’s independent communications regulator (Ofcom) but they apply equally to most of the people I know who have phones. Which is everyone I know.

37% of adults and 60% of teenagers have confessed to being highly addicted to their smartphones, with some even admitting to actually naming their phones. Can you imagine waking up in the morning and, reaching for your Blackberry, going: “Good morning Betty – what will we be doing today?”

The lunacy continues:

  • 22% of adults and 47% of teenagers answer their smartphones whilst in the toilet. Too
    much info for my liking, thanks!
  • 38% of adults and 40% of teenagers have their handsets permanently switched on. As in 24/7. As in public holidays, weekends and quite possibly the dawn of Armageddon. All the time. Take a break peeps. Not healthy.
  • 18% of adults and 27% of teenagers use their smartphone in a location where it shouldn’t be used, like in the library or at the movies.
  • 23% of adults and 34% of teenagers continue using their phones during a meal. Are they talking
    with their mouths full? That’s just gross.
  • 51% of adults and 65% of teenagers admit to using their phones whilst socialising with others. One question for you selfish so-and-so’s: why bother meeting friends in the first place then? Just stay at home and text them – at least they’d be getting your attention. Too rude.
  • Because of their smartphones, 15% of teenagers read fewer books and 23% watch less television. So tht is y tey cnt spk proply?

Smartphones are wonderful life tools that have come to replace computers for many users but these types of statistics are scary, taking us ever closer to an all-consuming Sci-Fi existence where human relationships have died off completely.

What will you be doing on your phone next? No scrap that – I don’t think I really want to know.



Information sourced from:,

It’s official… Australia is the fifth-fattest nation on earth

November 17, 2012
Australians eat almost three times as much meat as the world average.Australians eat almost three times as much meat as the world average.

It’s no wonder that Australia is the fifth-fattest nation on earth.

A report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that many Australians are consuming too much food that is high in fat and sugar and not enough vegetables or wholegrain cereals.

The report, Australia’s Food and Nutrition 2012, says that Australians exceed the world average consumption of alcohol, sweeteners, milk and animal fats.

How we consume food compared to the rest of the world.How we consume food compared to the rest of the world. Photo: Keisuke Osawa

But Australian consumption of vegetables and cereal is below the world average.

The AIHW report said that 90 per cent of people aged 16 years and over failed to eat the recommended five serves of vegetables each day.

Most adults didn’t eat enough fruit and adolescent girls failed to eat enough dairy foods or alternatives.

People in remote areas had difficulty accessing a variety of affordable healthy foods.

The report said that restaurant and takeaway meals was the highest weekly item of food expenditure for Australian households in all income groups.

In 2009-10, high-income households spent $389 on food and beverages each week, equal to 18 per cent of household expenditure.

Low income households spent $113, or 20 per cent of expenditure on food.

AIHW spokeswoman Lisa McGlynn said: “The cost of healthy foods is increasing which means that it is cheaper for some people to eat takeaway food than healthier foods.”

“It can cost less to feed a family on food from some of the fast-food outlets than it can to feed a family on some of the foods that would be considered to be appropriate and what experts recommend a family eat.’’

On average, “treats’’ or extra foods such as chips, biscuits, pastries, soft drinks and alcohol contributed 36 per cent of the energy intake for adults and 40 per cent for children.

One quarter of adults and one in 12 children aged between five and 12 years in Australia are obese.

“That’s about three million people aged over five which puts Australia fifth in the OECD countries for the proportion of the population who are obese,’’ Ms McGlynn said.
Read more:

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Chicken Piccata

November 15, 2012

Serves 4


  • 4 skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 green onions, diced
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 Tbsp capers


  1. Butterfly the chicken breasts by cutting in half lengthways, taking care not to cut through. Place the butterflied chicken between two pieces of baking paper and, using a rolling pin or flat-sided meat mallet, gently pound the chicken until the meat is about ½ cm thick. Cut the pieces in half and set aside.
  2. In a large fry pan, heat the butter over medium heat. While the pan is heating, season the chicken with the salt and pepper.
  3. Place the chicken into the fry pan and cook on both sides for 3 to 5 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through but still tender. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
  4. Add the olive oil to the fry pan, along with the garlic and onions. Saute for 2 minutes, scraping any of the chicken residue from the base of the pan.
  5. Add the wine, stock, lemon juice and capers and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes.
  6. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve with steamed vegies.

Feeling tired? Exercise

November 13, 2012
There is now a scientific basis to the argument that exercise improves alertness and vitality.

Couch potatoes who complain they are tired all the time have an easy solution – a little light exercise.

Regular, low-intensity workouts such as a leisurely stroll can boost energy levels by 20 percent and decrease fatigue by 65 percent, a team at the University of Georgia found.

“Too often we believe that a quick workout will leave us worn out, especially when we are already feeling fatigued,” Tim Puetz, who helped conduct the study, said in a statement.

“However, we have shown that regular exercise can actually go a long way in increasing feelings of energy, particularly in sedentary individuals.”

Puetz and a team led by Patrick O’Connor at the university’s Exercise Psychology Laboratory studied 36 people who did not exercise regularly and who said they were always fatigued.

They were divided into three groups. One did 20 minutes of moderately intense exercise on an exercise bike three times a week for six weeks, the second did similar workouts but at a much more leisurely pace and the third did no exercise.

The low- and moderate-intensity groups had a 20 percent increase in energy levels over the non-exercisers, the researchers reported in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.

To their surprise, the researchers found the low-intensity group reported better reduction in fatigue than those who worked out harder.

“It could be that moderate-intensity exercise is too much for people who are already fatigued and that might contribute to them not getting as great an improvement as they would had they done the low-intensity exercise,” O’Connor said in a statement.

“A lot of people are overworked and not sleeping enough,” he said.

“Exercise is a way for people to feel more energetic. There’s a scientific basis for it and there are advantages to it compared to things like caffeine and energy drinks.”

Many studies have shown that exercise can boost energy, especially over time.

O’Connor’s team published a report in 2006 showing that exercise can reduce fatigue in patients with cancer, heart disease and other medical problems.

This study looked at people whose fatigue did not seem to be associated with any medical condition.

Information sourced from:

How much weight do you really need to lose?

November 9, 2012

Ideal Weight or Happy Weight?

By Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD
Maybe you’ve been struggling — without success — to get down to the size you were in high school or on your wedding day. But do you really need to go that low? The truth, experts say, is that you can weigh more than your ideal weight and still be healthy (not to mention happy).

If you’re overweight, losing just 10% of your body weight is associated with a myriad of health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar, and reducing your risk for heart disease. Not only that, experts say, but this kind of weight loss is easier to attain and maintain, setting you up for success in the long run.

woman on scale

Your Weight “Set Point”

Just as your body temperature is programmed to stay around 98.6 degrees, your body weight is naturally regulated to stay within a range of 10%-20%, says Thomas Wadden, PhD, director of the Center for Weight and Eating Disorders at University of Pennsylvania Medical School. This weight range is known as the “set point.”

A complex set of hormones, chemicals, and hunger signals help your body naturally maintain your weight within this range, says American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD.

It is not just a matter of genetics, though. Your eating and exercise habits can also help to determine your set point.

“Overeating swamps the internal regulatory system, and, as a result, the set point increases — which is much easier to do than it is to lower it,” says Wadden. The body adjusts to the higher weight and “resets” the set point to defend the new weight.

It is difficult, but not impossible, to set your range lower. “With changes in healthy eating and exercise behavior, you can lower your set point,” says Blatner.

The 10% Solution to Weight Loss

A recent book, Break Through Your Set Point: How to Finally Lose the Weight You Want and Keep It Off, by George Blackburn, MD, suggests that maintaining a 10% loss for six months to a year helps your body adjust to the lower weight and thus reset the set point.

Wadden explains that when you lose large amounts of weight at once, you set up an internal struggle and hormones like ghrelin spike to make you hungrier as your body tries to defend its comfortable range.

Instead, experts recommend that you try losing 10% the old-fashioned way — by slowly changing eating and exercise behaviors — then maintain this new weight for a few months before trying to lose more.  Not only will your body get the signal to lower its “set point,” but you’ll give yourself a chance to get used to new food choices, smaller portions, and regular exercise.

“When patients lose 10% it may not be the pant size they want, but they start to realize how a little weight loss impacts their health in very positive ways,” says Blatner. “They feel better, sleep better, have more energy or less joint pain, and some people are able to reduce medications.”

How Much Should I Weigh?

Most people overestimate how much weight they can realistically lose, which leads to frustration, says Blatner. To find your happy or healthy weight, Blatner suggests looking back on your weight history as an adult and identify a weight you were able to maintain naturally and fairly easily.

And if you’ve gained more than a few pounds since your wedding day, forget trying to fit into that bridal gown. “As you gain weight, you experience an increase in fat cell size and number, which will probably prevent you from getting back to your married weight,” says Wadden.

Instead of focusing on the numbers on the scale, Blatner suggests setting behavioral goals: “Eat breakfast every day, go for daily walks, eat more fruits and vegetables — when you set behavior goals, they are easier to accomplish and they make you feel good.”  Stick with these behaviors for 3-6 months and they will become part of your life.

Based on your current weight, eat about 10 calories per pound of nutritious food (low in fat, rich in lean protein, high in fiber), get regular exercise, and assess your weight after a month or so.

“Your weight will settle out and typically you will lose 10%, then hit a plateau, which is a good time to maintain the weight loss,” says Wadden.

As you get to a healthy weight, you can go up to 12 calories per pound.

Tips for Weight Loss Success

Here are some tips from Blatner for weight loss success:

  1. Eat regular meals.  People who eat regular meals consume fewer calories than those who eat irregular meals.
  2. Use a plate, sit down, and enjoy your meals. Folks who do this eat 43% smaller portions than those who eat out of containers or on the run, according to Blatner.
  3. Get at least 30 minutes of moderate activity each day.
  4. How much and what you eat makes a big difference.  Enjoy normal portions of foods that are high in fiber (fruits, veggies, whole grains) and rich in lean or low fat protein is the secret to feeling full.
  5. Think positive: Focus on the benefits of a healthier lifestyle rather than the scale.

Information sourced from:

WebMD Feature

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Stuffed Capsicum

November 8, 2012

Stuffed Capsicum – Serves 6

1 protein | 2 vegetable


  • Spray oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp Italian herbs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 (400g) cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 6 capsicums


  1. Preheat oven to 180° C.  Heat a fry pan over moderate heat and spray with oil.   Add the onion and garlic and fry until the onion is soft.
  2. Add the mince and brown, stirring regularly to prevent sticking or burning.
  3. Add the sauces and herbs and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well.
  4. Reduce the heat and add the tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes.  Taste and add more Worcestershire sauce, herbs or salt and pepper if needed.  Add the tomato paste and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  5. Slice the stalk and about 1cm flesh off the capsicums and scoop out the seeds and membranes.  Fill the cavity with the mince mixture, replace the tops and stand the capsicums in a baking dish.  Bake for 20 to 30 minutes.
  6. Serve with a garden salad.