Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Moderation in All Things

How to avoid dieting blues
-- By Dean Anderson, Behavioral Psychology Expert
What comes to mind for you when you hear the word diet? If you're like most people, you probably imagine eating carrot sticks, going to bed hungry, and giving up your favorite foods—and that's why so many diets fail. Most people just can't tolerate those kinds of restrictions for very long.
The more you try to eliminate your favorite foods, the more feelings of discomfort, deprivation and resentment build up. This can result in bingeing on all the foods you've been denying yourself, undoing all your hard work in a single day. But even if you can avoid that problem, are you willing to eat like a rabbit for the rest of your life?
Studies show that 95 percent of people who follow a highly restrictive diet to lose weight will put the weight back on when they return to "normal" eating again. So what's the alternative? How do you manage to lose weight without eliminating the problem foods and problem behaviors that made you overweight to begin with?
The alternative is moderation—in your eating and, perhaps most importantly, in your thinking.

What is Moderation?
On the surface, moderation simply means avoiding extremes. It involves finding strategies and habits that can be maintained over the long-term, without cycling between one extreme and the other.
At a deeper level, moderation is a commitment to balance and wholeness. It is rooted in the recognition that each person has many different (and often competing) needs, desires, abilities, and goals. Living up to your full potential means finding ways to incorporate all of them into your decision-making processes and choices.
Practicing moderation in your weight loss program begins with practical strategies, such as counting calories, measuring portions, learning about your nutritional needs, and planning healthy meals. Achieving a reasonable rate of weight loss (about 1-2 pounds per week) by combining a tolerable calorie restriction with exercise is the moderate way to go. Fad diets, eliminating food groups, severely cutting calories and using diet pills are just as extreme as completely denying yourself foods that you enjoy.
The idea is to follow a healthy, balanced, and enjoyable nutrition and fitness plan that you can stick with—for life. There's no "ending the diet" or going back to "normal" eating or anything that will cause you to regain the weight you've lost. When you reach your goal weight, all you need to do is gradually increase your caloric intake to a level where you can maintain your weight loss.
Sounds simple, right?
Like many things, it's not quite as easy as it sounds. Chances are…you want results quickly. And you probably know that your current routine is problematic in one or more ways—too much fast food, sugar, or fat and not enough physical activity. Your natural inclination is going to be making big, sweeping changes to your diet and activity level right away.
In short, everything in you is clamoring for a very anti-moderate approach. You're primed to play the extreme diet game, even though your odds of winning are less than five percent.
Moderate Your Thinking
To rescue yourself from your own impatience (and the clutches of the diet industry that feeds on it), you need to moderate your thinking. Here are two core concepts that will help you do that:
Concept #1: Food is not the enemy. There are no "good" or "bad" foods. True, some foods offer you a better nutritional deal than others. Refined sugar, for example, provides calories for energy but no other nutrients, while fruit is sweet but also provides vitamins and fiber in a low-calorie package. But refined sugar isn't evil or bad—it can have a place in a healthy diet. It's important to know what you need nutritionally and where you can find it, so you can take charge of balancing your needs for pleasure, nutrition, and fuel.
The Payoff: When you stop labeling foods as good or bad, diet or non-diet, you won't feel guilty when you eat a food that isn't on your "approved" list. Instead you'll have more energy to learn about nutrition and improve your ability to make informed choices. And you won't have to give up your favorite treats if you find ways to work them into your meal plans so they don't interfere with your health goals. Without the guilt and deprivation, you'll be able to break the pattern of cravings, emotional swings, and binges that defeats so many diets. Without all those "diet" rules to follow, you'll learn to trust your own instincts and make good judgments.
Concept #2: Progress—not perfection—is important. To be successful, you don't have to always make perfect decisions and have perfect days where things go exactly as you planned. If you eat more or exercise less than you wanted to one day, you can make up for it over the next several days if you want, or you can just chalk it up to experience and move on. Remind yourself that what happens on any one day is not going to make or break your whole effort. This is not a contest or a race, where every little misstep could mean the difference between winning and losing. It's your life—and you'll enjoy it a lot more when you can keep the daily ups and downs of your eating and exercise routine in perspective.
The Payoff: By refusing to be a perfectionist, you can take most of the stress out of weight loss. You'll see small problems as what they are—very small problems, not major calamities that mean you've blown it. You'll be able to find pleasure and satisfaction in the fact you're learning as you go and doing a little better all the time. No more making things worse because your perfectionism caused you to write off the rest of the day or week after one little slip.

There are many more ways practicing moderation can help you both with weight loss and with creating your healthy lifestyle. Be sure to check out the new Wellness Resource Center for additional ideas on how to balance your life and meet all of your needs.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Expert Solutions: Free Weights or Machines?

It's a classic question with no right or wrong answer. If you want an effective strength training workout, should you use free weights or machines? Which option will help you reach your goals?
As a certified personal trainer, I always recommend that people try to include both free weights (dumbbells) and machines in their strength training workouts. Here are some of the advantages of using machines:
  • They are easier to use (proper technique, form, etc.).
  • They better isolate one muscle for a more intense workout.
  • They ensure that you move with proper form through the full range of motion.
  • They allow you to lift heavier weights.
  • They reduce workout time (less time spent setting up, changing, and putting weights away).
  • You are less likely to injure yourself when using machines.
The disadvantages of using machines are directly related to the advantages. Most of the things we do in daily life involve using multiple muscles and joints at the same time. Because machines isolate muscles and work them separately, you end up making individual muscles stronger but aren't training yourself for "functional fitness." Likewise, because machines are adjusting, balancing, and supporting your body, the smaller muscles that would normally do these tasks in real life often don't get exercised or strengthened.
But by incorporating both free weights and machines into your workouts, you can utilize the advantages of both and avoid the limitations of relying on either one by itself. For example, try doing one chest exercise using a chest press machine, and then add a couple sets of dumbbell flies; use the leg press machine to maximize the amount of weight you are lifting, then add a couple of sets of walking lunges with dumbbells, for balance training.
If you find the idea of using the free weights in the gym too intimidating, most gyms have a "cable cross" machine that offer many of the benefits of free weights with the convenience and safety of a machine.
The Case for Machines
Machines are great if you're new to strength training or unfamiliar with how to target specific muscles. Most will have instructions and a diagram so that you can see how to use them properly. It's also easier to maintain proper form using a machine because the equipment is designed to support your body as you do the exercise. Machines are good choices if you don't have much time (assuming there's not a crowd of people waiting), as it can be quicker to adjust the weight on a machine than with free weights. Sometimes people are intimidated to try strength training because they aren't sure what to do, but machines can help overcome that barrier since they are so user-friendly. The negative is that machines do not give the variation or range of motion that free weights provide. Most machines have a two-dimensional movement pattern.
The Case for Free Weights
Free weights require you to stabilize and balance your body (using additional muscles), giving you a better workout in the same amount of time. You can also do a larger variety of exercises instead of being limited to the machines your gym has available. If you have a stronger side (for example, your right triceps group is stronger than your left), machines typically allow the dominant side to compensate for the weaker one. With free weights, you force the weaker muscle to do its share of the work. The negative of using free weights is that your risk of injury increases because it's easier to do exercises improperly. And because the number of exercises is endless, it's easy to create a program that's not balanced or omits exercises that target important muscle groups.
There are pros and cons to both machines and free weights, so a combination of the two can yield maximum results.
The choice to use machines or free weights is a very individual one and should be based on your overall goals, time available, experience, and injury history/risk. Here are some examples of how these variables will affect the types of exercises you might choose.
Overall Goals
  • General Fitness: Machines can give you a great foundation for general strength training, whether you're just starting out or aren't sure what your goals should be.
  • Functional Fitness: If you exercise to improve your ability to move and function in everyday life, then free weights will be a better choice because you can use them to mimic normal movement patterns, making them easier over time.
  • Muscle size and strength: Machines usually win in this case because they can really target and isolate a single muscle group while allowing you to lift more weight, which is crucial for developing size and strength. But ideally, a combination of free weights and machines will help build strength and size.
  • Specific fitness goals: The only way to get better at pull-ups is to do pull-ups. But if you're too weak to pull yourself up, an Assisted Pull-Ups Machine can help you get there. The point is that some machines can help you reach very specific fitness goals, such as this one.
Experience: I tend to recommend that beginners use machines because you really can't go wrong with them. Machines make it easy for you to do exercises correctly. Another bonus is that you don't usually need help or a trainer to figure out how to set up and adjust a machine—they usually have instructions and pictures on them, and even tell you which muscles you're working.
Free weights demand more control and strength. You have to have some idea of how to move correctly, which isn't as easy as it looks. That's why free weights and even some body weight exercises are more advanced than you might think. You have to think about a lot of things to do them correctly.
Injury History/Risk: Although machines tend to be safe, not every machine is good for you. An exercise like seated leg extensions can aggravate the knees, so if you have knee problems, you'd want to avoid that machine and stick with regular squats or lunges (with or without free weights). In addition, machines allow you to lift more weight than you could probably do with free weights. If you have a bad back, lifting very heavy weights on a leg press, for example, can compromise your lower back. These are just a couple examples of how, depending on your risk level or history of joint/muscle problems, you might want to avoid certain machines entirely.
Beyond that, the best choice varies for everyone and every muscle. I use a combination of mostly free weights, and a few machines, particularly the cable cross (like Dean mentioned above). Sometimes the best way to really target a certain area of the body can be found in a machine; other times the most functional and safest way to strengthen a muscle group is with free weights.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

8 Exercise Energy Zappers

How to Beat Your Mid-Workout Slump
-- By Nicole Nichols, Fitness Instructor & Health Educator
The scene seems right. An up-tempo song blasts through the speakers around the room. All around you, people race on the treadmill and grunt as they lift weights. An upbeat personal trainer stands nearby, ready to assist at a moment's notice. Something is not right, though. You're partway through your workout, and you've hit a slump. Is it a crash in motivation? Are you low in energy? Maybe just distracted?
Mid-workout slumps happen to even the most committed exercisers. Learn how to avoid these feelings so you can push through and get the most of your workouts instead of heading to the locker room early.
Eat for Energy
A well-balanced diet is necessary for any healthy lifestyle, but it becomes increasingly important when you're exercising. If you start to crash mid-workout, what you did or didn't eat beforehand could be to blame. Proper planning of your meals and snacks will give your body steady fuel. On days that you plan a heavy workout, you might need to eat even more before you head to the gym. Read What to Eat Before a Workout to learn how to stock up on the "good stuff."
Don't Skimp on Carbs
Long distance athletes are known to "carb load" in the days leading up to a race, because the human body relies on carbohydrates for energy. In fact, carbs are your body's preferred source of fuel, powering everything from your brain to your muscles. Most people fear carbs, but they've gotten a bad rap. Make sure you're meeting your body's needs for sustained energy all day whether you're workout out or working at the office.
Pump Iron
Iron is a trace mineral that helps blood carry oxygen to the muscles throughout the body, keeping them powered up during a workout. In general, an iron deficiency can also lead to sagging energy levels. Women are more likely to experience low iron levels, but if you suspect your body is low on iron, talk to your doctor. A simple blood test can determine if iron is an issue, and your doctor can help you get back on track. You'll find iron in lean red meat, fortified cereals, and leafy greens, but steer clear of supplements (unless recommended by your doctor) because too much iron can be toxic.
Drink Up
Dehydration is another possible cause of "hitting the wall." When you exercise, sweating cools your body down, but it can also be detrimental if you're not replenishing the fluids you lose. That means drinking some water before you start your workout, taking a couple of sips of water every 15 to 20 minutes, and enjoying a tall glass of water once your exercise session is over. The key is to drink even before thirst sets in because by the time you recognize you're thirsty, you're already on your way to dehydration.
Be a Planner
Do you set your alarm for a 5 a.m. run only to snooze until your exercise slot has come and gone? Or do you come home at night, too exhausted to hit the gym? Try to schedule your workouts for the times of day that your energy is at its peak. Even if it's a little less convenient, you'll get a better workout and might be more likely to stick with your program.
Rest Up
Whether you're skimping on sleep or you're exercising too much, a lack of rest and recovery can zap your energy levels and hurt your progress, too. Most people need 7-8 hours of sleep each night, so reorganize your day and your time so that you can get as much shut-eye as possible each night. After all, who wants to exercise when they feel tired and run down?
Overtraining can also lead to increased fatigue during your workout. Sometimes, even the most experienced exercisers and athletes need a break (hence the "off season"). Learn to listen to your body. Often when you're too tired to make it through your usual workout, your body just needs a break, after which it can come back even stronger.
Just as your mental to-do list can keep you awake at night, other life stressors can creep into your mind during a workout and distract you from the task at hand. Sometimes these thoughts are overwhelming, and the sheer thought of dealing with the issue can be exhausting. Other times, feeling too busy can cause you to stop your workout short because you want to work on something else other than fitness. While working out can help you alleviate stress, sometimes life hands you a little too much, which can result in fatigue, aches, pains and headaches. Instead of letting your stress prevent you from hitting the gym, think of your workout as a much-needed break. Use this small window of "me" time to mentally sort through any issues you've been dealing with lately. Or think of it as one small part of your day that isn't filled with stress, work, and a never ending list of tasks. If necessary, plan some additional de-stressing tasks into your day. Just like you take time to exercise, take some time to relax, whether through meditation, a hot bath, or just reading a book.
Banish Boredom
Who hasn't been bored to sleep one time or another? Boredom is exhausting! And that's the last feeling you want to experience when you're trying to exercise. Hate the treadmill? Don't use it. Watching the clock when on the stationary bike? Hop off and find something fun. Whether you take your indoor workouts outside or try a new fitness class, variety will keep boredom at bay and help you get better results, too. Sometimes even working incorporating varying intervals during a single workout (instead of the same intensity, pace, speed or incline) can really shake things up and keep you energized and interested.
Overall, the occasional energy slump can usually be fixed by trying some of the tasks above. Sometimes it's a combination of lifestyle changes that works best. If you feel run down all the time or exercise results in major fatigue for you, make an appointment to see your health care provider to find out why.

Monday, May 26, 2008

How To Gain Weight If You Are Underweight

Gaining weight is something most people try not to do. On every corner, in every store, on every magazine cover, and in whatever direction you turn, people are obsessed with weight loss. Fat loss, fat loss, fat loss. Even 95% of all fitness related sites on the Internet are geared towards losing fat.
However, there are some people, who struggle their whole lives trying to pack on extra pounds and are underweight. I was one of those people. People, predispositioned to skinniness, are commonly referred to as hard gainers. This is the cool way to label your scrawny frame despite the fact that your body turns into a Number 2 pencil when you wear yellow!
In the skinny guys defence, the reality is that some have been cursed with traits like Lamborghini type metabolisms, giraffe like limbs, and the strength of a senior citizen. These people have to fight with every bone in their body to do something about their small frame and to keep up to their male buddies who seem to grow muscle just by sneezing. Even though you I might think that your genetic deficiencies have sentenced you to a life of frailty and surprised looks when you tell others you lift weights. I am living proof that hard gainers with very muscle-unfriendly genes can fight back against their genetics and gain muscle weight.
If you are underweight than your first step to gaining weight is to understand that you must play by a different set up rules. You must think outside the box and give up the excuse of being a hardgainer. It is time to stop listening to all the naysayers who have told you that is impossible to gain weight because of your genetics. It is time to give up the eating habits and workouts that have not delivered the results you have been looking for. Regardless of what you have been lead to believe, you do have the potential to build an impressive physique that turns heads and a new level of strength that intimidates!
Below I have provided four very practical and straight forward tips that you can apply today. If you have attempted to bulk up and are still on the light side of the scale it is because of one main reason - you are trying to build a house without the cement and wood. You are trying to build a $50,000 car with only $25,000 in the bank. Both scenarios are literally impossible. The same holds true for building muscle and caloric support. Your muscles grow on calories and require more than you are currently eating if you are underweight and still resemble a mic stand. Start following these simple steps to gain an extra 10 pounds of muscle weight in the next month guaranteed.

1. Double it up.
One of the most practical steps you can take is by simply doubling what you are currently eating in the kitchen right now. If you are only eating one chicken breast per meal than cook up two. If you are only eating two slices of bread than make it four. If you are eating one handful of nuts than make it two. If you are using only two scoops of protein powder than make it three. Getting the point yet? Most likely you are only a few dozen meals short of filling out those underdeveloped body parts. I assume you are already in the kitchen and have the food out. Perhaps finding the time to get in extra meal is your next challenge to overcome but for right now you have to excuse not to shovel down a greater percentage of calories by doubling it up!
2. Live your life around food.
Sure you know that you must eat every 2-3 hours but how well do you execute? Set your clock around or a countdown timer to go off every 2 and ½ hours so that you reinforce the habit of eating literally not a second late for each meal! You should be eating your first meal within 15-30 minutes of waking up - absolutely no later. Dont be surprised if you are not gaining weight if you do not find yourself spending more time preparing food, more time eating food and more time cleaning your kitchen. You should also find yourself spending more time in the grocery store and you should also find that you are budgeting more money on food each week.
3. Use BIG eating equipment.
If you want to bulk than you have to eat like Hulk. Do you think Hulk eats out of small plate, or a small bowel or a small cup? If you are aiming to get BIG, you are going to require large amounts of food most likely close to double of what you are currently eating. So get BIG eating equipment! Get a BIG cup, get a BIG bowel and get a BIG plate. Surround yourself with BIG. Most of the time hard gainers are nothing more than รข€˜under eaters. If you struggle to complete a meal than a bigger serving on a bigger plate will look small!
4. Never train hungry.
How many times have you waken up, whipped up a protein shake and than headed off to the gym? Or maybe you had a long afternoon and missed a few meals and than attempted a weight training workout after work? I thought this was common sense until a few of my skinny clients confessed that they were showing up for their workouts having only eaten a piece of fruit and some crackers within the last half day. After dropping the 45 pound plate on my foot out of shock they reassured me that they were not hungry. I sometimes screamed back, Yeah, thats because your metabolism is in starvation mode and shut right down you skinny pencil neck. I understand that training in the morning is the only time for some however I recommend to aim for a minimum of at least three solid meals in your system prior to eating. Would you take your car out on a long trip with a half empty fuel tank? Not unless you want the car to die and push it the rest of the way. So why would you take your body through a grueling training session on a empty stomach?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

23 Ways to Reduce Wrinkles

By: Colette Bouchez

WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Matthew Hoffman, MD
Whether you're 35 and just beginning to see the first signs of aging, or 55 with skin that isn't exactly keeping your birthday a secret, seeking ways to reduce wrinkles is probably on your agenda.

At the same time, experts say, many of us are losing the wrinkle battle, watching helplessly as the glow of youth goes on the dimmer switch.
"Many women as well as men believe that aging skin is inevitable, but with the information and technologies we have today, you really can look as young as you feel," says Robin Ashinoff, MD, a dermatologist at the Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey.
To help put you on the right path, WebMD asked Ashinoff and several other experts what really works to reduce wrinkles. What follows are 23 ways experts say you can make a difference.  While some require a visit to the dermatologist, many are things you can do on your own.
How to Reduce Wrinkles: What You Can Do 
1. Avoid the sun.  It's the No. 1 cause of wrinkles, with dozens of studies documenting the impact. In one study that looked at identical twins, New York plastic surgeon Darrick Antell, MD, found sun exposure was even more important than heredity. Siblings who limited sun time had fewer wrinkles and looked younger overall than their sun-worshiping twins.
2. Wear sunscreen.  If you must go out in the sun, the American Academy of Dermatology says, wear sunscreen! It will protect you from skin cancer, and help prevent wrinkles at the same time.
3. Don't smoke.  Some of the research is still controversial, but more and more studies are confirming that cigarette smoke ages skin -- mostly by releasing an enzyme that breaks down collagen and elastin, important components of the skin.  Sibling studies done at the Twin Research Unit at St. Thomas Hospital in London found the brother or sister who smoked tended to have skin that was more wrinkled and up to 40% thinner than the non-smoker.
4. Get adequate sleep.  Yale dermatologist Nicholas Perricone, MD, says that when you don't get enough sleep, the body produces excess cortisol, a hormone that breaks down skin cells. Get enough rest, Perricone says, and you'll produce more HGH (human growth hormone), which helps skin remain thick, more "elastic," and less likely to wrinkle.
5. Sleep on your back. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) cautions that sleeping in certain positions night after night leads to "sleep lines -- wrinkles that become etched into the surface of the skin and don't disappear once you're up. Sleeping on your side increases wrinkles on cheeks and chin, while sleeping face-down gives you a furrowed brow. To reduce wrinkle formation, the AAD says, sleep on your back.
6. Don't squint -- get reading glasses!  The AAD says any repetitive facial movement -- like squinting -- overworks facial muscles, forming a groove beneath the skin's surface. This groove eventually becomes a wrinkle. Also important: Wear sunglasses. It will protect skin around the eyes from sun damage -- and further keep you from squinting.
7. Eat more fish -- particularly salmon.  Not only is salmon (along with other cold-water fish) a great source of protein -- one of the building blocks of great skin -- it's also an awesome source of an essential fatty acid known as omega-3. Perricone tells WebMD that essential fatty acids help nourish skin and keep it plump and youthful, helping to reduce wrinkles.
8. Eat more soy -- So far, most of the proof has come from animal studies, but research does show certain properties of soy may help protect or heal some of the sun's photoaging damage. In one recent human study, published in the European Journal of Nutrition, researchers reported that a soy-based supplement (other ingredients included fish protein and extracts from white tea, grapeseed, and tomato, as well as several vitamins) improved skin's structure and firmness after just six months of use.
9. Trade coffee for cocoa. In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2006, researchers found cocoa containing high levels of two dietary flavanols (epicatchin and catechin) protected skin from sun damage, improved circulation to skin cells, affected hydration, and made the skin look and feel smoother.
10. Eat more fruits and vegetables. The key, says Kraus, are their antioxidant compounds. These compounds fight damage caused by free radicals (unstable molecules that can damage cells), which in turn helps skin look younger and more radiant, and protects against some effects of photoaging.
11.  Use moisturizer. "Women, especially, are so concerned with antiaging products they often overlook the power of a simple moisturizer. Skin that is moist simply looks better, so lines and creases are far less noticeable," says Ashinoff.
12. Don't over-wash your face. According to dermatologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center, tap water strips skin of its natural barrier oils and moisture that protect against wrinkles. Wash them off too often, and you wash away protection. Moreover, unless your soap contains moisturizers, you should use a cleanser instead.

Topical Treatments That Reduce Wrinkles
Studies show the following ingredients can reduce wrinkles. Most are found in a variety of skin-care treatments, both prescription and over-the-counter.
13. Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs). These natural fruit acids lift away the top layer of dead skin cells, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, particularly around the eyes. New evidence shows that in higher concentrations, AHAs may help stimulate collagen production.
14. Retinoids (including Retin A). The only FDA-approved topical treatment for wrinkles is tretinoin, known commercially as Retin A.  Ashinoff says this prescription cream reduces fine lines and large wrinkles, and repairs sun damage. Retinol is a natural form of vitamin A found in many over-the-counter products. Studies show that in a stabilized formula, in high concentrations, it may be as effective as Retin A, without the side effects, such as skin burning and sensitivity.
15. Topical vitamin C. Studies at Tulane University, among others, have found it can increase collagen production, protect against damage from UVA and UVB rays, correct pigmentation problems, and improve inflammatory skin conditions.  The key, however, may be the type of vitamin C used. To date, most of the research points to the L-ascorbic acid form as the most potent for wrinkle relief.
16. Idebenone. This chemical cousin to the nutrient coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)is a super-powerful antioxidant.  In one study published recently in the Journal of Dermatology, doctors found that with just 6 weeks of topical use, there was a 26% reduction in skin roughness and dryness, a 37% increase in hydration, a 29% decrease in lines and wrinkles, and a 33% overall improvement in sun-damaged skin.  Other studies have found similar results.
17. Growth factors.  Part of the body's natural wound-healing response, these compounds, when applied topically, may reduce sun damage and decrease lines and wrinkles, while rejuvenating collagen production, studies have shown.
18. Pentapeptides. The results of a study supported by the National Institutes of Health suggested pentapeptides can increase collagen production in sun-damaged skin.  Several subsequent studies (including one presented at a recent national dermatology conference) showed that when topically applied, pentapeptides stimulated collagen production and diminished lines and wrinkles.
Medical/Spa Treatments That Reduce Wrinkles
19. Botox.  An injection of this purified version of the Botulinum toxin A relaxes the muscle just underneath the wrinkle, allowing the skin on top to lie smooth and crease-free.
20. Wrinkle fillers. Doctors fill wrinkles with a variety of substances, including collagen, hyaluronic acid, and other synthetic compounds. Popular treatments include Restylane, Juvederm, and ArteFill, among others.
21. Laser/light resurfacing. Here, energy from a light source -- either a laser or a pulsed diode light -- removes the top layer of skin, causing a slight but unnoticeable skin "wounding." This kicks the skin's natural collagen-production system into high gear, resulting in smoother, more wrinkle-free skin.
22. Chemical peels. In this treatment, one of a variety of different chemicals is used to "burn" away the top layer of skin, creating damage that causes the body to respond by making more collagen. You end up with younger-looking, smoother skin.
23.  Dermabrasion. A vacuum suction device used in tandem with a mild chemical crystal, dermabrasion helps remove the top layer of skin cells and bring new, more evenly textured skin to the surface. In the process, fine lines and wrinkles seem to disappear.
Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
The service is provided as general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Monday, May 19, 2008

8 Things to Consider When Choosing a Gym

-- By Liz Noelcke, Staff Writer
When you're eager to try a new restaurant, you might ask your friends for recommendations, read a good review, or check out the menu before you spend your money and time there. If you enjoy your first meal, you'll return again and again, but if your experience is less than great, that first visit will also be your last.
Finding the right gym is a lot like finding new restaurant. A good gym will fit your own unique personality, and motivate you to come back and exercise on a regular basis. Unlike a restaurant, joining a gym is a large financial commitment, so it's even more important that you research your options before signing on the dotted line.
When considering a particular gym, set up a tour and bring a list of questions you want answered. Try to set up this tour during the time you usually exercise. More often than not, the staff will give you a free day pass so you can try out the equipment, classes, and other amenities firsthand.
Other than a free workout, there are key criteria to consider before you fork over the dough or sign a long-term contract. Keep these questions in mind as you begin your search.
1. Location, Location, Location
If you choose a gym on the other side of town, will you really make it there consistently to work out? Often, a gym located somewhere between your home and office (or school) is best. On days when you're crunched for time, having a gym close by will make things easier on your hectic schedule. After all, a good workout is supposed to lower your stress level, not increase it.
2. Hours
Is the gym open when you'll use it most? While some gyms are open 24 hours a day, others are closed on weekends. Whether you workout early in the morning or late at night, make sure the hours fit your schedule, or you'll be paying for something you can't access.
3. Members
Everyone responds differently to those around them, and you should keep this in mind before you choose a gym. You should feel relaxed in your exercise environment, not embarrassed or intimidated. Some gyms are co-ed, while some are same-sex only. Others attract individuals of certain age groups. Will you be comfortable exercising around the current members? On your tour, does the gym seem overly crowded?
4. Staff
The staff members of the gym should be supportive and courteous, ready to answer questions or spot you on a machine if needed. They are there to help you make the most of your workouts. Before selecting a gym, ask about the certifications of the staff members. Are they qualified to guide you through your fitness routine? If you need a trainer, what are their rates?
5. Cleanliness
This may or may not be obvious on your first trip to the gym, so keep your eyes peeled. Make sure that towels are available to wipe off the equipment after each use. Also, look to see if staff members enforce this standard of hygiene. Peek into the locker rooms and showers, especially if you'll be using these often. Look at the toilets, sinks, and showers themselves to see that they're properly maintained.
6. Equipment
Take a good look around. Are there enough of the "popular" machines to go around, or do members have to wait in line to use them? Find out if there is a sign-up sheet or a time limit on cardio equipment. If you run on a treadmill for an hour, then a 30-minute time limit won't really suit you.
Make sure that there are a wide variety of machines, but don't be intimidated by new ones. Notice whether or not instructions and pictures are posted on the machines, or if staff is available to help you. Be cautious of out-of-order machines; this might be indicative of a poorly maintained gym.
7. Classes
Ask to see the schedule of fitness classes offered at the gym. Make sure that the classes you WANT to take are offered at the times you can attend, and find out if you need to show up early to reserve a spot. High-energy classes like spinning might interest you, or a calming yoga class might be more up your alley. If group classes are the staple of your exercise program, find out if the gym charges extra for classes before you join. Decide whether or not these fees are affordable before you join, or you might be paying for a membership that you don't really use.
8. Fees
Cost is probably the deciding factor when choosing a gym. Many gyms have a sign-up fee, but these are often waived during certain promotions. Take a look at the payment schedule. Do you pay each month, or do you have to commit yourself to an entire year as a member? Can you cancel without penalty? And ultimately, does a gym fit into your budget?
When it comes down to joining a fitness center, you may feel like you're signing your life away—if you aren't informed and prepared. Be picky! Shop around, talk to friends, and take the tours until you find a place that meets all (or most) of your expectations at a reasonable price. After all, finding the right gym can be the key to a healthy lifestyle!