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Archive for August, 2006

It’s kinda like being drunk without the hangover

Posted by Roberta Jewell
Categories: This 'n that

Hypno eyes

It’s been a while since I’ve played around with optical illusions, but this one is fun and sorta reminded me of how the world looked in the old days. But this is safe fun, I promise. Okay, ready….set….GO! (Fun or creepy? You decide.)

Are your bookmarks a mile long?

Posted by Roberta Jewell
Categories: This 'n that

If so, it’s time for you to get a news reader and start subscribing.

It’s been pretty confusing, I have to admit, impossibly so for many of us without a computer science degree to figure it all out. We see those little buttons on our favorite sites and simply ignore them.

But times have changed. Subscribing to a blog or website you now visit regularly has become nearly effortless, particularly with the advent of web-based “news readers” or “aggregators”. If this is new to you, don’t be intimidated, I promise it’s easier than you think. One of the best tutorials I’ve seen (for Bloglines, the free product I recommend) is here, and includes pictures to walk you right through it.

Why would you even want to engage in such geeky behavior? Again, rather than try and reinvent a stellar overview, I point you to this tutorial from a fella who claims his news aggregator changed his life.

In a nutshell, here’s why you’ll come to love your news reader: it makes gathering information of interest to you on the Internet extremely easy and completely automatic. Delivered to your door, just like the newspaper, but you don’t have to throw your robe on to retrieve it.

And no more scrolling through those endless bookmarks.

Let’s say, for instance, you’re interested in following updates on my blog (or anyone else’s.) Right now, you’re probably doing so manually. You come here via a bookmark, or enter the URL manually, or click a link that gets you here. Then it’s hit and miss once you arrive; you don’t know until then if I’ve made any updates, or if they’re even of interest to you.

And let’s say you regularly visit some news sites: ABC, NPR, or BBC, for example. Maybe you frequent sites associated with one of your hobbies or other interests. With Bloglines, or any other news reader, you can “subscribe” to those sites (as long as they’ve incorporated the feature, which is becoming fairly ubiquitous).

Again, I recommend Bloglines because it’s so user friendly. In fact, you’ll probably feel much like a technological genius when you’re done setting up your account and subscribing to a few feeds. It’s powerful technology but easy to do.

Here’s how, if you’re ready to jump in:

1) Read the tutorial above, then the Blogline article.

2) Sign up for a free Blogline account.

3) Come back to this site and select the “Blogline” button under “Syndicate” on the right.

Viola! You are now officially the recipient of an RSS-based news aggregation feed. In other words, stuff comes to you automatically. And you can read it whenever you feel like it.

On many sites (news and blogs) you’ll see Blogline’s little button, because it’s becoming one of the hottest news readers around. If you have a Blogline account, simply click that icon and you’ll be automatically subscribed.

You’ll usually see other news aggregator buttons, too–I’ve tried to include the most popular on this blog, and you may wish to use them instead. If you have a Yahoo, AOL, or MSN account, they actually come embedded with a news reader, so you’re only a click away. Some sites use “XML” or “RSS” or have a small orange icon in place of news reader links. That’s fine, it just takes an extra step. Right-click the button if you’re using a PC or “control click” on a Mac. Select “Copy link”. Then go back to your news reader, and add it. (Don’t click on the button; you’ll only get a bunch of goobledegook of no use to you.)

Give it a go and see what you think. I don’t know if it’ll change your life, but I’ll bet you anything it will make your online experience a lot more interesting and fun!

Would YOUR doc go for this?

Posted by Roberta Jewell
Categories: Medications and research

Needle  for alcohol shotI’m afraid of shots as it is, but if I had a serious drinking problem, was opting for some sort of surgery, and wanted to bypass the agony of withdrawal, I might actually go for this: an injection of booze prior to procedure.

Seriously, researchers reporting in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons say “intravenous (alcohol), when administered in a controlled and monitored fashion, is an effective and safe way to prevent alcohol withdrawal syndrome.”

They also said they found 16% or so of patients undergoing non-emergency surgery were observed to have alcohol withdrawal symptoms. It’s dangerous because it can complicate surgery or delay recovery.

A doc friend of mine once told me when you look in the microscope, the cells of alcoholics going through withdrawal are all jittery-like. And when he opens someone up who’s been drinking, the smell is something else. He says the number of his elective surgery cases who show up with alcohol in their system is astounding.

Here’s to forward thinking researchers who don’t mind taking a little heat. It makes absolute sense to me.

Story is here.

 

Well, I’ll be a horse’s…..

Posted by Roberta Jewell
Categories: Holistic Healing

This just in from BBC News:

Horses Used to help drug addicts (including alcoholics)

An innovative drug and alcohol programme using horses is being trialled at a hospital in the Borders.

Recovering addicts at the Castle Craig Hospital are taking part in treatment known as equine-assisted psychotherapy.

Patients are encouraged to carry out simple tasks, which require them to successfully communicate with a horse.

More here.

Hey, does this mean I can finally take those riding lessons I’ve been wanting and write it off??

Now here’s an easy tea, and free!

Posted by Roberta Jewell
Categories: Holistic Healing

 Traditional Medicinals

Granted, we should all be bubbling up a brew of loose green tea from the health food store to reap the rewards of the anti-oxidant, anti-craving, super-energy-inducing benefits. In fact, we’re working on developing our own blend here at MWO.

But I also believe that sometimes, in the real world, all we want to do is stuff a teabag in a cup and pour instant hot water over it.

I’ve think I’ve finally found the perfect solution to a user friendly, quality quick tea in Traditional Medicinals.  I’m not kidding when I tell you this is the most delicious brew I’ve ever tasted–and it’s made with medicinal grade herbs.  I love it, my kids love it (who woulda thunk), even my fuddy duddy tea-begrudging hubby has to admit it’s good!

It works, too, I swear. A cup or two of “Easy Now” and the tension seems to melt away. My kids are nuts for the “Gypsy Cold Season”–they drink it even when healthy. I’m convinced it helped speed the process.

Cracks me up: the description of each tea on the company’s high end website reads something like the back of a wine label. My recent favorite is described as “an aromatic balance of flowers and mints-pleasantly bitter and sweet”. Gosh, kinda reminds me of that 1996 Black Muscat from the San Joaquin Valley.

You can probably find these teas at your local health food store, but if not, try it out for free at their website!

This is my kind of addiction.

Acomplia, a miracle pill?

Posted by Roberta Jewell
Categories: Medications and research

The claims seemed a little overstated when I first read about Acomplia (rimonabant). Prescribed for obesity, it appears to reduce appetite, kill the craving for alcohol, nicotine and other drugs, and lower bad cholesterol while increasing good. It makes a lot of sense, when you consider this wonder drug, available in much of Europe but awaiting approval in Canada and the US, could actually work. Unlike other “diet pills”, this medication acts on the brain’s reward center, much like those prescribed to drinkers. If they’re lucky enough to get them, that is.

I took particular interest when a woman wrote from the UK recently and said her physician would not prescribe Topamax–very common in Britain. She said she wanted to order Acomplia from an online pharmacy because she was concerned about the side effects of Topamax and asked for my advice. As always, I urged her to work with a qualified health care provider, to find someone else, it’s really important. We never say otherwise, but I knew in my heart it wasn’t very helpful to her. I mean she’d just been rebuffed by a doc after spilling her guts. And it’s certainly not lost on me that many people order their meds online. So I also asked her to please keep in touch.

Fast forward. The nice lady emailed again today and said that after fibbing her way through the medical questionnaire, the package arrived within days, as promised, from her online provider. She’d already ordered her supplements, CDs, and had signed up at a “Health and Squash Club.” She reported to me today that both her craving and appetite are dramatically reduced. (She’s hoping to lose about 15 pounds.) She says it took a few days and she doesn’t know if it’s the meds, supps, hypno, exercise or combination of all (I vote the latter) but she’s thrilled with the early results and promised me it was okay to share her experience here.

Acomplia isn’t yet approved in the US and like many other meds, it comes with a number of potential side effects. One of the best sites I’ve found to keep tabs on this new medication, and is not affiliated with the manufacturer–but is littered with ads–is The Acomplia Report.  

I’m happy for our new MWO’er, who I’m still hoping will see a physician, and I’m also encouraging her to post on the message board, so she can share her experience directly. (She says she lurks but is too intimidated to participate.)  I told her please do. That many of our members would be most interested in following her progress. Including me!

I gotta go…..!

Posted by Roberta Jewell
Categories: Diet, nutrition and exercise

 restroom

We sometimes get reports of members who experience gastrointestinal problems when first starting the MWO program and follow the nutritional supplementation recommendations. The supps are so important, I feel it’s worth reiterating what I posted on the board earlier today. (Condensed version anyway.)

1) Eliminate or reduce magnesium from the program and/or take it at bedtime. It’s a recognized stool softener.

2) Take a good probiotic! There are many out there, and we’ve got one coming soon.

3) Review the info sheet if you ordered from us. Good tips!

For details from this morning’s earlier post, visit this link.

50 mile commute: 45 cents?

Posted by Roberta Jewell
Categories: Diet, nutrition and exercise

 Harvard bike 

What a whizzer: introducing the lightweight Golden Eagle Bike Engine 4-stroke motor and belt drive kit. This fella claims it saves him the daily 50 mile commute by car (“environmentally obscene”) and enhances the traditional bike trek (“suicide in a Phoenix summer”). Awesome find, dude.

He says the $550 unit requires him to pedal when accelerating from a stop or climbing steep hills, but that it feels completely natural. He maintains an average 18 mph and says his ride to work is now ten minutes longer than before, but entirely less frustrating. And hey, no road rage!

Check it out at Golden Eagle Bike Engine.

Off the couch, you

Posted by Roberta Jewell
Categories: Diet, nutrition and exercise

I began extolling the benefit of exercise since first launching the MWO message board in October of ’04. Since then, we’ve seen that members who work out seem to have a much greater recovery rate. People who run, jog, swim, walk, bicycle, row, stair climb, spin, or otherwise commit to some form of regular cardiovascular activity reap tremendous rewards. It improves their mood, clears their head, reduces their cravings, and melts away pounds. It’s also clinically proven to help lift depression.

Many visitors to our community are undoubtedly in much better shape than me and I’m sure my exercise routine would pale in comparison. Here’s the rub about this critical element of MWO that I continue to endorse so ferociously: I often hate the thought of doing it. I’m busy, am involved in many projects I love, and can’t stand being pulled away for yet another workout. Honestly, outside of  team sports when I was younger, I’ve really never found exercising that much fun. I wish I had the endurance of a long distance runner or the enthusiasm of a jock.

However, I will never ever give up my little workouts. In the end (heck, by the middle) they make me feel way too good and I’m confident they also help keep me from slipping. The trick has been to keep the routine short and do them regularly. So every other day, religiously, I coax myself away from the computer to take a brisk walk or get on the treadmill, depending on weather.

My treadmill is funky and old and I bought it used. It makes a lot of racket and the dogs glare at me when I’m on it, having tail whipped everything in site once the tennis shoes appear. My old clunker doesn’t boast the fancy features like the one I ogled over at Sears the other day. But for me, it provides the perfect workout (along with a pilates video I know by heart.). To this day, I remind myself beforehand that the workout will be short, only 15, 20, maybe 30 minutes, which is nothing—I mean, it takes longer to compose a couple emails. Just depends what I’m listening to.

And that’s been another key. Over the past couple of years, I’ve powerwalked to upbeat music, podcast interviews, books on CD and fitness recordings. It helps keep it interesting. Last year I invested in an iPod Nano, and this year, Macally wireless earmuff headphones, which I adore. They’re not nearly as sexy as Nike’s new feedback shoe. But these muffs are also excellent for hypno sessions, as there’s no getting tangled up in bed and the sound quality is great. And unlike some of the electronics around here, I can always find the Macally’s. They are ‘way dorky’ according to my teens, who wouldn’t be caught dead wearing them.

But back to the motivating audio behind the workouts. A search on the Net or at Apple’s iTunes proves just how explosive the downloadable workout trend has become. There’s a ton of free material out there and best of all, much of it is free.

Here are a few sites and workouts I’ve either tested or looked into, along with some feedback:

FREE

Name: “Podrunner”, courtesy of dj Steveboy. Blends lots of hard driving music for an excellent one-hour workout.
Good: The mix is updated every week on iTunes and is really good.
Bad: I don’t do a full hour usually, so would prefer an earlier warmdown.
Find: In iTunes directory or on the website at  www.djsteveboy.com/mixes.html

Name: Exertrack
Good: Cool website, especially for visual learners. Lots of tools.
Bad: Couldn’t deal with the computer generated audio instructions. Think Apple Computer’s original talking software
Find: on their website at www.exertrack.com

CHEAP (99 cents per workout)

Name: Marina’s Workout Podcasts
Good: Great for beginners. Short, ten to fifteen minute workouts with nice music groove and some inspirational jabber from a woman who lost nearly 100 pounds. Geared more to the female crowd and downloads come in many flavors, depending on your workout
Bad: Some of the downloads are simply too short at 12 minutes or so, but they can be kluged together. The way she laughs drives me nuts and I finally decided to move on
Find: in iTunes or on her site at www.marinaspodcast.com/podcasts.html

SPENDY  $11.99 each

Name: Nike Sports Music
Good: Very motivating with multiple selections and excellent coaching tips throughout. Includes a booklet with the download. The one I’ve used, “Treadmill Training”  provides a challenging 30 minute push, especially if you’re new to it, but it’s easily modified. Would work better with that machine at Sears.
Bad: The one I tested has great music, but there are more than a couple of references to alcohol in the songs, so not good if that’s a trigger.
Find: in iTunes or on Nike’s site under Sports Music at www.nike.com/nikeplus

Two fabulous free online communities:

Exercise Radio at http://exerciseradio.com/: emerging satellite service with nearly 10 million subscribers, this site offers four “channels”: cardio, yoga, kickboxing, strength training.

Fitpod at http://www.fitpod.com/: Comprehensive community offering both free and pay music, along with health news, product reviews, and other useful goodies.

As always, talk to your doctor before starting a new workout routine. We learned just this week, in fact, that exercise can kill you if you have an irregular heartbeat. Yikes!

Pick your drink

Posted by Roberta Jewell
Categories: Diet, nutrition and exercise

Recently a new member to MWO posted early success in avoiding alcohol withdrawal and craving by jump starting the program with “The Water Cure”. Idea is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day, supplemented with sea salt. Dr. Fereydoon Batamanghelidj, M.D. has been researching hydration for over 20 years and developed the program. He is a passionate advocate for its efficacy and believes we unintentionally dehydrate our bodies to dangerous levels. He says this is the primary cause of most medical conditions and ultimately leads to stress, pain and degenerative diseases. He claims his water cure reduces addictive urges, as well, something of particular importance here. Dr B’s solution in regainding our health is to simply drink more water.

I have to admit, I found much of what he said in the interviews here pretty compelling. In my book, I recommended drinking lots of water (my measurements aren’t quite as precise; I believe I used the word “boatloads”). A quick synopsis about his recommendations–and fascinating history–can be found in this article. In fact, the writer says she suffered terrible arthritis pain before applying the principles in Batamanghelidj’s book, “Your Body’s Many Cries for Water.” 

Again, sea salt is an integral part of the therapy and is to be taken in the amounts shown here. Alcohol and caffeine consumption are discouraged because of their diuretic effects. In fact, an additional 10 to 12 ounces is recommended for every 6 ounce beverage on the blackballed list.

People should check with their docs before starting the program, but frankly, most physicians don’t buy the water theory. And this just in: new research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition claims tea is actually better for you.  According to the study, it not only hydrates, but its anti-oxidant flavanoids offer protective benefits against heart disease, cancer, tooth decay and bone loss. It’s also purported to improve mood and concentration. 

So, what to do? Neither concept is foreign to me, as I’ve been promoting both water and tea for quite a while. (Green’s really good for you.) I guess you just have to decide how much of each you want to drink. I admit to upping my water intake a bit since first learning about Dr. Batamanghelidj’s work, and I use sea salt, as recommended. After this week’s news about tea, I no longer worry about it eating into my daily quota.

I’ve largely ignored the advice about adding more water to offset caffeinated tea consumption because it just didn’t make sense to me. I don’t know about coffee, that might be different. I’m having a hard time keeping up with coffee. Last month it was good for your liver, this month it’s bad for your heart. I like New York Daily News columnist Lenore Skenazy’s assessment.

And I’m reminded of a hilarious routine by comedian Lewis Black who says “when I was young and water was free, nobody ever told you how much water to drink. Then, they started bottling water and suddenly they said eight bottles a day.”

Hey, maybe we’re not so dehydrated after all.