Monday, June 29, 2009

Alternative Medicine Expanding into the Mainstream

In recent times, an increasing number of people have begun directing their attention toward alternative medicine for preventing and treating illnesses and solving their day-to-day health-related issues. Consider these statistics: Between 1990 and 1997 there was a 47 percent increase in visits to alternative practitioners, from 427 million to 629 million, bypassing the estimated total number of visits made to all conventional primary care doctors in 1997; currently, one out of every three Americans use some kind of alternative medicine—despite skepticism and, in some cases, strong opposition by the modern medical establishment to the use of these unconventional techniques.

The public’s increased acceptance and use of alternative medicine suggests an inherent dissatisfaction with the conventional medical system. Research shows that patients want natural, safer remedies and physicians who regard them as whole persons—minds and spirits as well as bodies—and who have respect for the innate mechanisms of healing. For example, an integrative practitioner inquires into not only a patient’s specific symptoms but to all lifestyle, psychosocial, and spiritual influences affecting their quality of life. The subsequent treatment plan includes recommendations such as increased physical activity, dietary changes, stress reduction and positive coping skills such as yoga, meditation, prayer or biofeedback in addition to any specific therapies.

Magnesium: The Stress Buster

If someone told you that your stress level could go from 300 to 0 with a boost of magnesium, you probably wouldn’t believe them, but you might buy a hefty bottle of magnesium supplements the next time you were in the vitamin and natural health section. Since magnesium is a part of your cells and bones and is especially vital as the smoothing cells of your arteries, it protects those arteries from blood pressure that is caused by stress. Magnesium also helps the body control its absorption of potassium (the mineral found in bananas) and calcium (the reason your mother always made you drink all of your milk). If magnesium can multi-task by also helping the kidneys, adrenals, brain, heart, and nervous system functioning, why wouldn’t it also reduce your stress?

An Australian chemist and nutritionist, Peter Gillham says that between 90 and 95 percent of the world’s population is living with magnesium levels unhealthy for their body. So, what does an unhealthy magnesium level feel like? Here are just some of the symptoms of a magnesium deficiency: asthma, lowered energy levels, sleeplessness, headaches, muscle aches, tension and soreness, fatigue, anxiety, seizures, nervousness, PMS, weak bones, teeth grinding, insomnia, difficulty breathing, and heart problems.

Natural Remedies for Childhood Eczema

If dry, cracked, and generally irritated skin has adults in pain periodically due to an allergic reaction, stress, or weather, imagine the pain children and infants who have developed eczema go through. There have been supposed “miracle cures” for decades hoping to be the end to eczema but without expensive and dangerous prescription drugs; people searching a more natural approach have been silently suffering.

As a form of dermatitis (inflammation of the epidermis/skin), eczema is a broad term for a whole range of various skin conditions. The common denominator in all of these problems is that they are all consistent in the patient with symptoms like edema/swelling, dryness, itching, crusting, oozing, and blistering. Infantile eczema, for example, is a common case called atopic eczema which is a skin disease revolving around allergens. Believed to be hereditary, infantile eczema is often transmitted to babies through families who have a history of asthma and hay fever. Usually associated with red blotchy rashes on sensitive areas such as the head, neck, bottom, and inside the joints like between the fingers, under the knees, and inside the elbows, eczema can occur anywhere on the skin.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Free Weight Machines

Free weight machines and free weights differ in the respect that free weights can be moved freely in a concentrated area of space. Free weight machines are restricted to moving in one of two directions.

Home workout equipment often consists of one machine that will perform a variety of functions and the machine easily converts to a heavier weight by simply inserting a pin in a block of weights, or by adding weight plates, or by adding a band. Some of the most widely known are:

•Total Gym uses the body weight of the user and elevation – the more extreme the elevation, the more difficult the workout. Never underestimate the body as a weight in strength training – and this unit folds up to be rolled into a closet or under a bed.
•Bowflex, by Nautilus, has two types of machine, the progressive, resistance cable, pulley system with power rod units; and the linear resistance, interlocking, lightweight resistance plates – both are geared for the home user.
•Weider makes the Ultimate Gym package, (four people can work at the same time) and single user machines, a Bowflex machine, a sled type of machine that resembles the Total Gym, and separate machines for isolating certain muscle groups like the Smith Rack & Bench. Weider is one of the longest running names in exercise, weight lifting and competition, and workout equipment and machines.
•Body-Solid carries a large choice of machines for the home user. Most are geared for a full workout/weight training regime but a few specifically target certain conditions; the G8I claims to allow you to work primary muscles and secondary muscles due to 3-deminsional independent motion giving more defined muscle development. Almost all machines are guaranteed for life and most are listed as being commercially rated.
•Yukon has a variety of workout machines, mostly geared to single or two user stations and a few have no leg press available. Yukon has a specialized lat machine and delt machine available.
There are many, smaller workout machines on the market that target specific areas, like Body by Jake’s Ab Scissor Ultra and LifelineUSA’s portable gym that consists of tubing, handles, and the ease of anywhere set up and use, including a hotel room.

Workout clubs carry a commercial grade of free weight machines like: Cambar, Cybex, Flex, Diesel Fitness, Hammer Strength, Hoist, Icarian, Paramount, Body Masters, Life Fitness, Badger Magnum, Nautilus, and many more.

Want an Alternative to Caffeine? Meet Teeccino

Trying to cut the caffeine habit can be impossible if you’re used to waking up to a strong brew and refilling your mug a few times a day at the office. Decaffeinated coffees and teas still carry traces of the stimulant that can wreak havoc on your body even if you don’t realize it. Discovered by a German chemist in 1819, the chemical compound in coffee was coined “kaffein” and is synonymously called “guaranine” from the guarana plant’s berries, “theine” found inside tea leaves, and “mateine” when isolated from the yerba mate plant. Either way you pronounce it, inside the human body, caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and produces a temporary feeling of alertness. Many people who drink decaf coffees, espressos, and teas, are either unable or unwilling to feel the consequences of a regularly caffeinated drink, but still enjoy the taste. With Teeccino, decaf-lovers can get the taste of real drip coffee in a natural, herbal mixture without the stimulating aftershock of caffeine.

Caroline MacDougall, an herb expert and creator of Teeccino, was working for various tea brands as an herbalist before she started making a name for herself in the early '90s with her own mixture she calls “herbal coffee,” a replacement way to drink your coffee without the addictive or dangerous qualities of caffeine. Knowing that many people are addicted to caffeine through coffees and teas, Carolyn sought a way to bring her knowledge of the Mediterranean rainforest to her morning cup and then share it. The basic ingredients of her herbal coffee are a simple and delicious blend of roots, nuts and fruit found in nature: roasted carob, barley, chicory root, figs, dates and almonds.

Drinking a coffee alternative can still imitate the rush that coffee can give you in the morning without the negative health effects associated with caffeine. For example, each cup of Teeccino is infused with around 80 milligrams of potassium which sends oxygen to your brain causing an energy boost that just might help you start you day.

So you’re probably wondering why a certified organic “herbal coffee” drink would be any healthier for you than a regular cup of java if it also has a stimulant in it—albeit a natural mineral—to help you be more alert. Caffeine can lead to infertility, it is a leading cause of stress by helping put your heart under pressure, and caffeine is a large inhibitor of heart disease. By shocking your nerves into having more energy, caffeine also stimulates your hunger, making you more susceptible to sweet cravings, ultimately spiking your blood sugar which can lead to a sugar intolerance or diabetes. Anxiety and depression are also linked to caffeine and the stimulant actually decreases your memory and cognitive skills.

Sean Paajanen, coffee and tea guide from, applauds Teeccino’s efforts to be unlike other coffee alternatives and doesn’t mind the taste, “An excellent herbal coffee that contains no caffeine, but does taste remarkably just like regular coffee. No need to deny yourself in the mornings if you want to cut your caffeine.” Paajanen continues, “I've tried a few coffee substitutes…but was always disappointed to find they don't really taste like the coffee I know and love. I have been completely impressed with Teeccino, as the first coffee substitute I have found that tastes like coffee. Really. It has the rich, full-bodied taste that I love in my cup. And the many flavours make this a very versatile product to enjoy.”

So next time you have a caffeine headache and you drive through your local coffee cart, think how much you could save your body and your wallet by using a healthy alternative. Even if herbal coffee doesn’t taste exactly like your precious Starbucks latte, your homemade drip, or Peet’s best cup of tea, it might be worth a try to save your future health.

Platelet Rich Plasma Accelerates Healing of Athletic Injuries

Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) has been used by hospitals for surgical applications since the 1970s. Now, due to recent advancements in technology, the treatment has now become available to sports medicine clinics across the globe.

PRP therapy is used to mend injuries to tendons and ligaments without surgery. The procedure involves deriving concentrated platelets and white blood cells from a patient’s blood with the use of a closed platelet separator system and then mixing the PRP with activating agents for injection back into the patient’s own injured tissue. The injection causes a repair response from the body within the injured tissue. The repair response begins with the formation of a local blood clot in muscle, tendon, ligament, and bone followed by the dissolving of the implanted platelets. This releases growth factors that cause fibrous scar tissue to be formed, which results in injured tissue being replaced with healthy tissue.

Because the materials used in the treatment are derived from your own body, the chance of adverse drug reactions is eliminated, making the process completely safe. In addition, with the use of closed PRP systems, no other product or material is allowed to enter during the PRP production process. The systems can also be completely automatic, which allows for consistent reproducible concentrates of PRP.

Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers used PRP treatment prior to the team's win in the Super Bowl. Major league pitcher Takashi Saito of the Los Angeles Dodgers and approximately 20 professional soccer players have also undergone the procedure. According to sports medicine experts, PRP therapy could lead to more successful treatment of persistent injuries such as chronic elbow tendonitis (tennis elbow) and knee tendonitis for athletes.

CDC Says Far Too Few Young Women Screened for Chlamydia

Child Health
Men's Health
Women's Health
Mental Health
Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Parenting
Sexual Health
Aging & Getter Older

Health Experts
Jennifer Gianni
Kristen DeLeo
Joel Nathan
Dan Heffley
Cary Presant
Susan Brady
Beth Shapouri
Melanie Grimes
Constance Rock & Aleksandra Evanguelidi
Sexual Health
CDC Says Far Too Few Young Women Screened for Chlamydia
By: Madeline Ellis
Published: Monday, 20 April 2009

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Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD) named for the Greek word meaning “cloak,” precisely because its symptoms are usually mild or absent and it may linger months or years before being discovered. Men and women alike can be infected, and if left untreated chlamydia can progress to serious reproductive and other health problems. In women, the infection can spread to the uterus and fallopian tubes, leading to infertility or an ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy that occurs outside of the uterus). Women infected with chlamydia are up to five times more likely to become infected with HIV, if exposed. An infected mother can transfer the infection to her baby, where it can cause pneumonia or an eye infection that could result in blindness. In men, infection can spread to the testicles and prostate and can cause sterility.

To help prevent these serious consequences, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and professional organizations such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend annual chlamydia screening for all sexually active women age 25 years or younger, older women with risk factors for the disease such as a new sex partner or multiple partners, and all pregnant women. And though rates of testing have risen significantly over the past decade, screening is far below where it needs to be.

Researchers at the CDC analyzed data reported to the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set by commercial insurers and Medicaid plans from 2000 through 2007 and found that fewer than half of vulnerable U.S. women are being screened for chlamydia. The information covered 41 states and included information from at least five health plans. “Nationally, the annual screening rate increased from 25.3 percent in 2000 to 43.6 percent in 2006, and then decreased slightly to 41.6 percent in 2007,” the researchers wrote in the April 17 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Study Suggests Anti-Nausea Medication Safe for Mothers-to-Be

Although there are many symptoms that accompany pregnancy, morning sickness tends to be one of the first, and often the most unpleasant. Usually beginning between the fourth and eighth week of pregnancy, morning sickness doesn’t necessarily occur in the morning; that feeling of nausea or vomiting can happen at any time of the day, even all day for some women. No one knows exactly why it occurs, but one thing is for certain; if you have morning sickness, you want it to go away. For the fortunate ones, it can be controlled by eating crackers or another light snack before getting out of bed, and eating frequent small meals during the day, but those strategies don’t always work and many women are reluctant to use medications for fear of harming the baby. But a new study may serve to alleviate that concern and help bolster approval of an anti-nausea medication specifically for morning sickness.

Depression Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) effects many of the elderly and is regarded as the period between the forgetfulness of normal aging and Alzheimer’s disease. Usually patients with MCI may be more forgetful than an average person but they do not show other signs of Alzheimer’s. Knowing which patients would progress from this “forgetful” stage into Alzheimer’s has long been a diagnostic problem for medical personnel. Among the problems in being able to predict who is at higher risk for Alzheimer’s has been what problems concurrent with the MCI would contribute to the increased possibility of the disease.

Researchers recently studied 756 people with MCI between the ages of 55 and 91 for three years. Approximately a quarter of the study group were diagnosed with depression. The depression test produced results in points and for every point of increase on the test the risk of developing Alzheimer’s went up by 3 percent. Assistant professor Po H. Lu of the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine said that the results suggest depression is a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.

Study participants were given donepezil (sold as Aricept), vitamin E, or a placebo. The percentage of those with depression receiving the vitamin or a placebo developed Alzheimer’s at almost double the rate of those receiving donepezil. The drug seemingly did not affect those who were not suffering from depression. “If we can delay the progression of this disease for even two years, it could significantly improve the quality of life for many people dealing with memory loss.” according to Lu.

Aricept has FDA approval for use in patients with MCI, but only those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Conclusive diagnoses of those who will progress to Alzheimer’s would make providing preventive treatment much more successful. It would also provide scientists a specific target for improved research and the possibility of a real cure for Alzheimer’s.

Appropriate pre-diagnoses may not be an unrealized dream for scientists much longer. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have used an automated procedure called Volumetric MRI, for measuring the “memory centers” of the brain and compare them to usual size to determine if brain atrophy has occurred. Brain atrophy is a sure indicator of Alzheimer’s.

"Use of this procedure is like bringing the experience of an expert neuro-radiologist to any clinic that has the right software," said James Brewer, MD, PhD, assistant professor in UC San Diego's Departments of Radiology and Neurosciences. "These fully automated and rapid methods of measuring medial temporal lobe volumes may help clinicians predict cognitive decline in their patients, and have the potential to influence how neurology is practiced."

Women Beware: Smoking Is More Hazardous to Your Health

For most people, when stress presents itself we resort to some sort of relief. For some we turn to food, for others it is the more dangerous choice of smoking cigarettes. It is a well-known fact that smoking is not a healthy habit for anyone, but a steadily growing body of research suggests that women are considered to be more vulnerable to the lung-damaging effects of cigarettes than men are.

A recent study, presented this week at the American Thoracic Society’s annual meeting in San Diego, found that women developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at a much earlier age and after less years of smoking than men did. Previous studies about lung cancer have also shown that cigarette smoking is much more likely to cause lung cancer in women than men, even though they tend to start smoking at a later age and also smoke less.

Dr. Inga-Cecilie Soerheim, who is the co-author of the most recent study and a research fellow at the Channing Laboratory, which is division of Brigham and Young Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said, “Many people believe that their own smoking is too limited to be harmful—that a few cigarettes a day represent a minimal risk. But there is no such thing as a safe amount of cigarette smoking. Our data suggest that this is particularly true for female smokers.”

Dr. Soerheim’s research team used the data from a Norwegian study that involved 954 current and ex-smokers that have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is the catchall name for a group of diseases that cause a partial blockage of the airways and are strongly associated with smoking.

Among other results of the study, it found that women who developed the pulmonary disease before the age of sixty had a greater loss of lung function than the men in the same age bracket. The same held true for the women who had smoked for less than twenty years, compared with the men with similarly low exposure to the tobacco.

Why this fact holds true is not known as of now. It could be because women tend to have smaller lungs than men so the smoking does more damage, Soerheim stated.

Dr. Kathy Albain, who is a medical oncologist at the Loyola University Health System and has also studied gender differences with lung cancer, said that there could also be a difference in the way that women and men metabolize the cigarette smoke, based on the genes that they inherit. Hormones, in particular estrogen, are also being looked at to be a possible reason for why the lung cancer acts differently in women than it does in men, she added.

Urine Test May Detect Childhood Appendicitis

Recognized as the most common cause of emergency surgery in children, appendicitis is an irritation, inflammation, and infection of the appendix. The majority of appendicitis cases occur between the ages of 6 and 20 years with approximately four appendectomies performed for every 1,000 children under the age of 14. Because appendicitis is often difficult to accurately detect in children, the suspicion of the condition leads to the performance of unnecessary surgeries on about 30 percent of the children who undergo them. In addition, 30 to 45 percent of patients suffer an appendix rupture before a diagnosis is made.

With a new technological breakthrough, researchers from the Proteomics Center at Children’s Hospital in Boston have developed a urine test that can detect “biomarkers” indicating appendicitis in children. The promise shown by this new test could lead to improved diagnosis, possibly even replace the use of CT scans, and eliminate the exposure of children to radiation. The details of the research were recently published in the journal Annals of Emergency Medicine.

The appendix is a narrow, elongated tube closed at one end, extending from the cecum, a blind pocket off the first part of the large intestine. Although the exact function of the human appendix is unknown, it plays a role as a part of the body’s immune system during the early years of life. Later, the appendix ceases to function as other organs continue to protect against infection.

Hormone Replacement Therapy Heightens Risk of Lung Cancer Death

Although the onset of menopause brings with it a variety of unsettling symptoms ranging from hot flashes and night sweats to increased anxiety, irritability and more, women may be far better off to suffer these rather than seek the relief brought by hormone replacement therapy. On the heels of news that perimenopause causes temporary memory loss and learning difficulties, adding to the list of grievances of the menopausal state, comes a warning that hormone replacement therapy for menopausal symptoms greatly increases the risk of lung cancer death. A new study suggests that women who take estrogen-progestin pills and also develop lung cancer are at a 60 percent greater risk of dying from the disease than women who do not take hormones and develop lung cancer.

Dr. Rowan Chlebowski of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, who led the study, said that the findings of the analysis indicate that smokers who receive hormone replacement therapy (HRT) should stop taking the hormones and for those smokers who are contemplating HRT, careful consideration should be given prior to commencing it. Experts have already warned women who take hormones to use the lowest dose for the shortest duration possible, and to this warning Chlebowski added, “Women almost certainly shouldn't be using combined hormone therapy and tobacco at the same time.” The results of the study were recently presented at a meeting of the oncology society in Florida.

New Testosterone Injections Work as Male Contraceptive

Pregnancy is a big step in life for any couple. Until now, there have only been a few ways to prevent pregnancy and most of them are centered around the female. Now, there is a new monthly injection of testosterone that works as a contraceptive in men, allowing the responsibility of birth control to be shared among the sexes.

For years, scientists have been looking for a contraceptive to be the male equivalent to the Pill. The trials that were conducted in the 1990s found that weekly injections of testosterone reduced the sperm counts for 98 percent of the men, and the effects disappeared when the injections were stopped. However, the researchers thought that the weekly injections would be considered too unpopular and troublesome with men to be a very useful method of contraception.

How This Busy Mother Stopped Snacking and Took Off 40 Pounds

Four years ago, Bethany Hughes (now 45) was a slave to sweatpants, thinking they could hide the pounds she’d packed on. A crazy-busy working mother of two, she nibbled all day and grazed off her kids’ plates. But in January 2005, when she hit her pregnancy weight and wasn’t with child, the Houston native knew she had to make a change.

“After a good, long cry, I bought a pair of running shoes,” she says.

Over eight months, Bethany lost 20 pounds simply by jogging, eating breakfast daily, and cutting out sugar.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Everyone Has Food Noise: The Top 4 Lessons I Learned from My Book Tour

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks on the road promoting my new book, Naturally Thin: Unleash Your Skinny Girl and Free Yourself from a Lifetime of Dieting. I’ve met so many readers who’ve reached out and shared their own diet hang-ups. Here are my four favorite lessons from my tour.

1. Everyone has food noise
My book is all about hushing that little voice in your head that tells you that you’ve been “bad” if you ate a big piece of cheesecake. Almost everyone experiences this voice, and the concept has resonated with my readers. It will never go away completely—but you can learn to quiet it down. I still have food noise, but I’ve learned to listen to myself over that voice. You have to trust the fact that you’re allowed to eat pasta, avocado, or dessert without damaging your diet.
Take-home lesson: Tempted by dessert? Allow yourself to make a healthy, portion-controlled option, like my banana-oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

One Week to a Slimmer You: Focus on the Little Things

When it comes to losing weight, the little things add up—trying just one new thing every day can quickly make a big difference. With that in mind, we’ve taken science’s best weight-loss strategies and created a week’s worth of slimming to-do’s.

Related links:
Sneaky Little Slim-Down Tricks From Top Weight-Control Experts
What 20 Extra Pounds Feels LikeSlideshow: Punch Off the PoundsSunday: Shoot it, and shed pounds.
Studies show that recording meals may help you lose up to 5 percent of your weight, says Robert A. Carels, PhD, an associate professor in the psychology department at Bowling Green State University. Start today: Snap before and after photos of each meal with your camera phone. Keeping a visual food diary is a more accurate way to see what and how much you’re eating, United Kingdom researchers say. Afterward, download the pics so you’ll have a record.

Feel Great Weight

Linda Bacon, PhD, dreads swimsuit season, but not because she has anything against the beach. Instead, the California-based nutritionist fears what the season brings: scores of otherwise health-conscious citizens who subject themselves to deprivation diets (like the Master Cleanse) or intense exercise regimens, often in blazing hot weather, to look slimmer in revealing clothes. Many unwittingly end up harming their health—and possibly even their hearts.

“Early June and January are the two times of year people do crazy, desperate things to get thin fast,” says Bacon, a nutrition professor at the City College of San Francisco and the author of Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight. “They go on fasts, yo-yo diets, detox programs, and ‘cleanses’ without realizing that there are serious consequences to weight loss and nutrient restriction.”

That crash dieting doesn’t work and can be dangerous is a message that gets lost in the national clamor over rising rates of overweight and obesity. Thinking of trying a lemonade fast or cabbage soup diet? Here’s what to keep in mind if fitting into your skinny jeans or your Speedo is high on your summer agenda.

Crash diets may harm your heart
Cardiologist Isadore Rosenfeld, MD, a professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, in New York City, and author of the forthcoming Doctor of the Heart: A Life in Medicine, opposes crash diets (less than 1,200 calories a day) and detox plans like the Master Cleanse. The Master Cleanse involves consuming a mixture of water, lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper—and nothing else—for several days.

He says these very low-calorie regimens are based on the false theory that the body needs help eliminating waste.

Research suggests rapid weight loss can slow your metabolism, leading to future weight gain, and deprive your body of essential nutrients. What’s more, crash diets can weaken your immune system and increase your risk of dehydration, heart palpitations, and cardiac stress.

Wish Me Luck: One Month Until My First Triathlon

Oh, geez: My first triathlon is in exactly one month.

As’s resident fitness blogger, I’m used to trying new exercises and challenging myself to stay in shape while balancing work and a personal life. But a triathlon? Six months ago this was just a crazy idea in my head—and now it’s almost here.

It all started when I ran my first half marathon last year. I did finish and I did learn to enjoy it, but once it was over I quickly became lazy again. I couldn’t motivate myself to get out and pound the pavement regularly without a goal in mind. And soon, I was struggling to run just three miles at a time. How could all the progress I’d built up have wasted away so quickly?

So I knew I needed something new to strive for; something, preferably, that didn’t involve so much running. A triathlon seemed perfect: I love swimming, I love biking, and, well, I can tolerate running. A few friends were signing up for the Nautica New York City Triathlon—then still half a year away, far enough to not really think about—so I tagged along to the organizational meeting, not really knowing what to expect.

It’s been a long few months, to be honest, but completely worth it so far. I’m training with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training, one of the largest fundraising athletic organizations in the country. And in return for raising money for their cause, the LLS gives us coaches, practice schedules, and even a wetsuit. I have to say, it’s a pretty sweet deal.

My first open water swim practice: Coney Island at 8 a.m.!I’ve kissed my Friday night social events good-bye and swapped them for 7 a.m. Saturday practices in the park. I’ve grown fond of the lingering chlorine smell that sticks with me after my morning swims, no matter how long my showers last. And I’ve actually learned how to change a bike tire. (It’s harder than it looks!)

Having a structured workout program back in my life has been a welcome change. When I’m following a routine, I feel like I’m more productive throughout my whole day, because I have less free time and I value it so much more. I go to bed earlier, eat healthier (healthier quality, at least, if not quantity), drink less alcohol, and generally feel more energized. I’ve never had a drug or alcohol problem, but I can totally see what these former addicts mean when they cite their new fixation on triathlons.

So now, with one month left, I’m back in pretty good shape—I can swim a mile, bike 25 miles, and run six miles, all with relative ease. Only problem is, I still haven’t tried to do all those things back to back. And during these last 30 days, I know I really need to concentrate and stick with the program.

To do that, I’m adding a new element to my training regimen. I’m determined to blog at least once a week from now until the race on July 26. To me, it’s extra incentive to keep up the hard work and resist the urge to quit while I’m ahead.

I’ll share my tips and strategies leading up to the big day, and hopefully will have a full recount when it’s over. For more frequent updates, you can follow me on Twitter, and check out my teammate Jenna’s blog over at Shape magazine, too. With your support, we’ll both make it to the finish line. Wish me luck!


Previous posts by Amanda MacMillan:

How to Go on an Exercise Date
How Do You Make Your Workout Fun?
2 Steps to Start Walking: Pick a Pedometer, Plot a Route
Last Updated: June 26, 2009
Filed Under: Get Fit Blog
Also Tagged: cross training, cycling, running, swimming, trainingComments (0)
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How House Star Jennifer Morrison Beats Bad Days

House MD star Jennifer Morrison—now also in the hit movie Star Trek—shares how she beats bad days, what keeps her strong, and why she’d rather not know what’s in the soy chai lattes she loves.

Light Summer Sips

Don’t be tempted by that cup of sugar-laden Kool-Aid or ice-cold margarita! When you need a summer drink, use these four light summer sips that will quench your thirst and cost you less than 250 calories.

Garlic Guacamole Recipe by Robin Miller

This guacamole dish from Food Network star Robin Miller serves four and works great on a grilled burger. It’s part of her new book, Robin Rescues Dinner (Clarkson Potter/Publishers 2009)

1 ripe avocado, pitted and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons minced white onion
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon garlic powder

In a small bowl, combine the avocado, onion, lime juice, and garlic powder. Mix well with a fork, slightly smashing the avocado into small pieces. Season to taste with salt and pepper.