Oh the Shake Weight…

We’ve all seen their ridiculous commercials. Even South Park has sent a satirical nod in their direction. But does the Shake Weight actually have merit as a piece of exercise equipment?

According to this funny Yahoo! News columnist, it doesn’t. Health expert Heath Hawkins rates a few of this year’s fad health trends and tests them out herself. She said if you really want an effective workout similar to the Shake Weight, just do mini pulses with a dumbbell or hand weight.

Honestly, a good hand weight is a great investment since you can apply it to other workouts too. Do your daily rep or combine the equipment with an effective DVD like Jillian Michael’s series.

But let’s be real for a moment people. You know there aren’t an easy ways to getting the body you want. So suck it up and do the work. Funny little weights with semi-phallic commercials is never the right answer.

HPV Vaccine Also Prevents Anal Cancer

There may be more benefits to the newly accepted HPV vaccine. Not only will you be “one less” for HPV with the proven vaccine, but an advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that the Gardasil human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine can also prevent “anal malignancies in males and females.”

According to Associated Press, the advisory panel came to this conclusion based on a study of 4,000 men conducted by the vaccine’s maker, Merck & Co. The findings could also apply to women.

I know there have a been a lot of skeptics with the Gardasil vaccine, but everyone really should consider getting it themselves if they are between ages 9 and 26.

Un-scary ways to enjoy Halloween candy

Mini candies are at the heart of modern Halloween. But the sweet chocolatey, gummy, sour goodness of our favorite treats in kiddie size are also the heart of some scary weight gain and mindless eating.

Women’s Health magazine has the coolest online quiz to see if you know you’re candy.  Since 100 calorie snacks are all the rage, they’ve done the math to provide us with some hope on how to enjoy Halloween this year.  I’ve taken some excerpts from the quiz to show some of my favorites brought down to 100 calories. But take it here if you want to test your own candy knowledge.

Photos courtesy of Women’s Health magazine online.

M&M’s

Mmm… One of my all-time favs. Did you know you can have 38 have these puppies? Doesn’t feel like skimping out on sweet goodness to me. And it’s definitely better tasting than any other 100 calorie snack I’ve ever had.

StarBursts

Now, we’re not allowed to have as many pieces here, but five chewey and fruity StarBursts isn’t too bad in my opinion, especially since they come in packs of two when they are given to the kiddies usually. Just make sure when you open the third pack to get candy piece number five that you don’t get tempted for a sixth pieces. Only five = 100 calories.

Twix

The full size candy bar has always been a dieter’s friend since you can cut the calories in half and give the other piece to someone else. (Okay, at 142 calories for one cookie bar, it’s not the ideal snack, but let’s go with it) But  now you can have two of these miniatures and still stay within the 100 calorie snack parameter!

Twizzlers

These childhood favorites are extra loved for already being low in fat. But to hit the 100 calorie mark, you need to cut 1/4 of a rope. I don’t know anyone who is really willing to do that, but hey, at least you know when you’re eating three pieces that not only are you eating low in fat candy, but you’re under 100 calories too!

“‘Julie and Julia’ that’s about something”

So I’m sitting in my screenwriting class currently, taking a break from retyping my script based off a printed out draft (an unfortunate flash drive accident nearly ruined my life). It took me two years to get into this class, and when everything started going crazy (ie. Stalker situation + school work + police escorts= STRESS), I almost dropped the class. I mean, I didn’t need the class. I don’t need anymore electives, and it would really help to have that extra hour and fifteen minutes do homework for my copy editing class.

But in the midst of the crazy time, I decided to keep it. I had gotten the last slot after someone had dropped out, so it had to be fate, right? Besides, I started to realize something. This class actually helped me de-stress.

I mean seriously, what’s better than having a class that you just sit in and write? The best part, my instructor actually likes my script which makes me really giddy, especially since I almost changed it to be about the stalker story.

My plot is called (at least temporarily) “Cooking it all away,” and it’s about a chef who comes into an eating disorder clinic to help a certain unruly patient learn to love cooking, even if she doesn’t love food. Ultimately it’s about how no one can save you but yourself, but when I pitched the story, my instructor loved the idea. He calls it “Julie and Julia that’s actually about something.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I loved Julie and Julia. I think I even saw it twice in theaters I loved it so much. But it made me happy that my instructor saw and appreciated my message to my screenplay.

Originally the idea came to me based off of something I’ve always dreamed of really doing in real-life-adult-land. I always wanted to start a nationwide program that brings chefs into eating disorder clinics to teach young girls of all eating disorders how to cook for themselves. Eating disorders are something I’ve researched and written about for years and have affected a lot of people close to me. For a lot of people, it’s a control thing. So why not teach them how to control food by being able to create it themselves. Let them be the chef. Let them create something beautiful out of something that used to conquer them.

I had talked about getting a grant for the project, but at this stage in my life, I really don’t know if I have the time or means to get the project going. So for now, it’ll just be a short movie script. Maybe one day I’ll see my organization go from dream to reality.

Stress kills (or at least feels like it)

So in  Women’s Health this month, one of their fun little blurbs said that it takes 50 emails to start to stress the average person.

50 emails? I have 73 currently unread in my Facebook, 56 in my Yahoo email and, 3 in my Gmail account. Not to mention REALITY Check Girl magazine’s email account. That has ove 100.

But then again, it’s no surprise to anyone who knows me that I’m stressed.

And I’ve always considered stress a good thing. I thrive on deadlines. Being busy is what keeps me going. An article in Women’s Health also agrees as they cited a study that shows how women respond better under stress than men do. Because of our estrogen, apparently we even perform better under certain kinds of stress.

However, that same article talked about other side effects to stress. And not all of them are good. Did you know that if you experience a traumatic stress, your hippocampus can shrink considerably in size? A lot of it can’t be regained either.

And there’s more problems for the ladies. Stress can delay conception if you’re trying to get pregnant. The New York Times mentioned a study back in August that linked the two, and now fertility clinics are adopting stress management services to help patients chill out.

Who would have thought that stress was the new birth control?

And for all of us, we have this to look forward to: hypertension, strokes, heart attacks, diabetes, ulcers, neck or low back pain.

So the moral of the story? DON’T STRESS OUT!

Easier said than done, right? But oddly enough, I find that I stress about the fact that I stress. Ridiculous, I know. Welcome to America. Or at least adulthood.

The Nikki Project begins…

I created the category of posts “Nikki Project” back when I started this blog in June. It’s really just a phrase I had coined since junior high whenever I wanted to become “super skinny” and workout until I achieve my “ideal me.”

Now that I’m in my senior year of college, I realize that it’s more than just being super skinny or even the ideal me. It’s about being happy and healthy. My current infraction on both those items? Stress.

This year I am a full-time student taking 16 credit hours with over 30 hours a week of work with my two part time jobs. As a result, I don’t budget times for personal enjoyment or personal crises. So when I was stalked at the beginning of this semester and had to get a restraining order-type agreement on top of my tons of school work and work-work, I ate my feelings. I lost sleep. And now, even though it’s over, I still just feel like a stressed out blob.

Sure, things have gotten back to “normal,” but I still find that my life is always at this level of stress that is even a higher level than my usual. I’ve been skipping out on workouts in the morning because I figured that sleep was more important at times. But now I’m realizing that even with that extra hour or so, I’m still exhausted all day.

Now my rationale is this: Instead of sleeping that extra hour, I’m going to exercise. Those endorphins I once loved will help me fuel my day and de-stress me, I believe. And less stress is what I need right now.

So this year, my “Nikki Project” is on how to live healthfully in a way that will reduce stress. I believe once I can do that, all the other desired side effects will come: healthy weight, healthy workout routine, healthy diet, appropriate sleep, etc. But really, the heart of all my “problems” isn’t just that I don’t like healthy food or hate excercise. I love both. The problem is stress. Fix the problem at the source instead of attacking the symptoms.

Well, here’s to trying. It’s Day #1 of the Nikki Project, and even though I’m exhausted, I’m about to head to the gym. My idea isn’t that I’m going to get skinny. I’m going to get me-time and do something for myself.

I sure hope myself appreciates it, cuz sleep-deprived me is kicking and screaming the whole way through.

Laser pointers damage eyes

So they may seem fun at first, but your mother was right. Laser pointers can actually hurt your eyes- permanently.

According to The New York Times, citing The New England Journal of Medicine, a 15-year-old boy suffered “lasting visual impairment” after playing with his laser pointer in front of the mirror.

The article cites Dr. Martin K. Schmid, who wrote that laser pointers sold to the general public used to only have a maximum power level of five milliwatts. These were considered “relatively safe.”

However, the laser pointer in the case of the minor had a power output of 150 milliwatts.

Talk about a huge difference.

Dr. Schmid said consumers can prevent incidences like this from happening to themselves or their own children by buying only legal laser, avoiding some that may be sold online. The safest laser is a Class 1, which only outputs one milliwat.

Regardless of the level of your laser, definitely do not point it at anyone’s eyes or in the mirror.