Leap Your Way Into Fun with Leap Day

frog-111179_960_720Today is Leap Day! And certainly you can’t just let that pass you by without doing something fun. Here are some ideas to make the day fun for your kids. If you’re an adult without kids – check out the sales that some of the stores are having and the fun green drinks that you’ll find in restaurants and bars.

Now, on to the kids…

Buy some plastic frogs and put them inside jello. If you use black jello, you can tell your kids are living in the swamp and they have to find each one. Yum!

Play leap frog because…well..why not?

Cut out two frogs from tissue paper. You have two teams and two straws. One kid on each team picks up the star and sucks in to it to catch the frog. They have to run to the other side of the room without dropping the frog and then run back to give it to the next player. First team to finish wins.

Make cupcakes and frost them with green frosting. Put out jellybeans and decorations to make frog faces. Eat and enjoy.

Have your older children write letters to themselves to open four years from now on Leap Day.

Make a frog puppet.

Have fun!

5% Weight Loss Can Have a Huge Impact

tape-403591_960_720In a fascinating new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, the greatest benefit of weight loss in obese patients apparently comes from losing just 5% of their body weight. Published online on February 22 in the journal Cell Metabolism, they found that this relatively small weight loss lowered patients’ risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease while improving the metabolic function in liver, fat and muscle tissue.

As the principal investigator Samuel Klein, MD, director of Washington University’s Center for Human Nutrition said, “Our findings demonstrate that you get the biggest bang for your buck with 5 percent weight loss. The current guidelines for treating obesity recommend a 5 to 10 percent weight loss, but losing 5 percent of your body weight is much easier than losing 10 percent. So it may make sense for patients to aim at the easier target.”

The study included asking 40 obese individuals to either maintain their body weight or start a diet to lose 5-15% of their body weight. This is thought to be the first time that a trial has separated weight loss outcomes and distinguished between a 5% loss and a 10% or greater loss.

With the 19 volunteers who lost 5% of their body weight, the function of insulin-secreting beta cells improved, the insulin sensitivity in fat tissues improved, the liver and skeletal muscle tissue improved and there was a decrease in total body fat and less fat in the liver.

For the nine participants who then continued to lose weight until the 15% mark, they had some improvements but not in all areas. Their bet cell function and insulin sensitivity in muscle tissue improved, but neither their insulin sensitivity in the liver or the adipose tissue continued to improve.

What they found from this is that, as Klein explained, “Muscle tissue responds much more to continued weight loss, but liver and adipose tissue have pretty much achieved their maximum benefit at 5 percent weight loss.”

Certainly, more research is needed by the initial findings are quite interesting. Klein would like to also study people who have diabetes.

Obviously, having a healthy weight is important. But it’s interesting to note how much the first 5% of that weight loss can have an impact.

That Book Club Might Save Your Life

library-108544_960_720Interestingly, it might be more important for you to chat about your latest book than to get your body moving, say researchers looking at retirement needs. Scientists have found that maintaining social links in old age may help you to live longer.

Tracking a group of 424 English men and women during their first six years of retirement, the scientists found a six-fold difference in mortality rates between the people who were members of at least two social groups from before their retirement and those who stopped attending clubs. The researchers, from the University of Queensland in Australia published their findings in BMJ Open, a UK medical journal.

As they explained, “Retiring from work constitutes a major life transition that most people experience at some point in the course of their life, posing significant challenges to health and wellbeing.”

They found that the number of social relationships that people maintain during their retirement can have more of an impact on life expectancy than exercise, smoking or drinking.

The overall take-away, as explained by the researchers was that: “Practical interventions should focus on helping retirees to maintain their sense of purpose and belonging by assisting them to connect to groups and communities that are meaningful to them.”

Doctor Cycling Around the World

bike-1080079_960_720It is awe-inspiring to read about people who have changed their own lives in order to change the lives of others. Dr. Steven Fabes is one of those. He has cycled 53,285 miles in the last six years to help and empower others. In 2010, the doctor left London to get on a bicycle and he has, so far, cycled across Europe, Africa, South America, Central and North America, Australia and Asia. His travel blog, Cycling the 6, shares stories of his experiences.

He wanted, at first, to exist on $10 a day, but he ran out of money after three years. Since then, he has been making money as a public speaker and freelance writer and with the sponsors he has for his gear. As he said, “I’ve honestly never considered giving up. The hardest times have been during a winter crossing of Mongolia – a lonely, difficult place, especially when it’s minus 35 at night!”

During the six years, he has raised more than £20,000 for the medical NGO Merlin(before they merged with another NGO in 2013) and he has shared his skills with many in need. He is now nearing the end of his adventure and plans to return to the UK soon to write a book about his adventures.


Does Poverty Cause Overeating?

cake-pops-693645_960_720Researchers at the Texas Christian University have found that the amount that we eat when we aren’t hungry as adults is directly linked to our family’s income when we were kids.

As researcher Sarah Hill explained, “Our research suggests that people who grew up in relatively impoverished environments may have a harder time controlling food intake and managing their body weight than those who grew up in wealthier environments.”

Published in the journal Psychological Science, the article explains that the researchers did a number of experiments to come to their conclusion. First, 31 non-obese women each received a bowl of chocolate chip cookies and one of pretzels and were told to sample and rate the products. Then, when they finished their ratings, they were told that they could eat as much as they wanted to while waiting for part two. They were then asked to describe their economic situation growing up. Researchers found that women from poorer backgrounds ate more of the goodies than those who came from wealthier homes.

Two more experiments replicated the findings and leave room to ask more questions about need versus desire and the way that our background forms our impulsivity and needs.

Eat Your Ice Cream for Breakfast Today

ice-cream-770994_640Today is International Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day. Yes, you read that correctly. So, if you haven’t had breakfast yet, you should run out to the store and buy your favorite ice cream. And if you’ve already eaten that most important first meal of the day – then you can use this excuse to have ice cream for another meal.

So, where did this idea come from and is it just an invention of the ice cream or dairy industries? Surprisingly, it’s not. The holiday was invented in the 1960s by Florence Rappaport in Rochester, New York. A mother to six, she declared one day in February that it was Ice Cream for Breakfast Day. As she said on Wikipedia, “It was cold and snowy and the kids were complaining that it was too cold to do anything. So I just said, ‘Let’s have ice cream for breakfast.'” The tradition spread through the years and has actually spread across the world in part because of Florence’s grandchildren who have traveled extensively.

There have been celebrations recorded in Nepal, Namibia, Germany, New Zealand and Honduras. It has been celebrated in China since 2003 and has had particular popularity in Israel since 2013.