DNA Helix

Lifestyle More Important Than Genes in Becoming Obese

A new study suggests that genetics is not destiny when it comes to your odds of becoming obese.

For years, research into “obesity genes” has led many Americans to believe that their DNA makes becoming overweight and obese inevitable.

But the new study shows that daily lifestyle — not genes — probably plays the much bigger role.

The study tracked data on more than 2,500 Americans who were followed for decades — from young adulthood in 1985 to 2010.

Researchers used modern technology to construct a genetic “risk score” for obesity for each participant, based on their individual DNA. They also tracked changes in each person’s body mass index (BMI) over time, to gauge their levels of weight and fitness.

The bottom line, according to lead researcher Dr. VenkateshMurthy, is that “we found fitness is a better predictor than genetics of where your BMI will go over time.”

“Genetics clearly has some influence, but other factors are stronger,” said Murthy, who is an associate professor of internal medicine and radiology at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor.

So, your BMI — a measure of weight divided by height — in youth appears to be the best predictor of your long-term obesity risk.

That made sense to one expert in weight management.

“BMI, even at young age, represents both genetics and environment,” noted Dr. Mitchell Roslin, chief of obesity surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

“Many believe that genetic means destiny,” he said, but “no, what is inherited is a susceptibility that is influenced by your behavior.”

The new research supports the notion that “no matter your genetic code, the best method to optimize health is eating well and exercising daily,” said Roslin.

Murthy’s team found that, when considered in combination with a person’s age, sex and history of an overweight parent, BMI in young adulthood explained 52.3% of a person’s BMI 25 years later.

In fact, they believe this combo of environmental factors could explain up to 80% of a person’s BMI variation over time.

In contrast, adding genetics into the mix explained only about 13.6% of BMI 25 years later, Murthy’s group said.

“There’s been a lot of attention to the idea of using genetic information to understand your risk of obesity or being overweight, and for potential drug development to address those genetic risks,” Murthy said in a University of Michigan news release.


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Streaming Services

Streaming TV Programming for Kids Embraces Iconic Brands

When Apple was thinking about what kind of children’s TV programming it wanted on its new streaming service, it doubled down on two multi-generational crowd-pleasers — Snoopy and “Sesame Street.”

Apple TV Plus has carved out prominent roles for Charlie Brown’s floppy-eared beagle and for puppets from the famed Sesame Workshop in its slate of kid and family friendly programs.

“Both Snoopy and Sesame Workshop are crown jewels of the last decades in what family entertainment looks like. There’s a reason that we went proactively to those two entities,” said Zack Van Amburg, who is Apple’s head of worldwide video alongside Jamie Erlicht.

The decision to use existing children’s icons as the bedrock for the fledgling platform is one shared by several other streaming services, often with one eye on looming Netflix, the world’s largest streamer with an arsenal of titles attracting kids and families.

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People on Treadmill

What Is A Gym Addict?

Those who work out every day are often applauded for their hard work and dedication to fitness. But not all gym bunnies are happy bees – there’s a darker side to the gym that can only be found by those who look further than superficial social media posts.

As January looms upon us, there’s no doubt that gyms will be flooded with the good-intentioned New Year’s resolutioners. Some will fail after a month, but others will fall in love with the cold weights and the monotonous hum of the treadmill.

Enter: endorphins. These bad boys get us hooked. The more we exercise the more of this happy hormone our body releases, providing stress relief, reduced anxiety levels and a boosted sense of self-esteem.

But there are also exercise compulsion addicts, who don’t love the physical act of exercising as much but crave the satisfaction of knowing they’ve completed their workout. Whichever type of addict your are, becoming hooked is a totally logical process: you workout, feel great and go to bed knowing you’re one step closer to looking like Karlie Kloss.

This image can become ingrained in the back of your mind and can be the driving factor to why you’re now a regular at Monday’s 6am spin class. Every time you reach for a pizza, glass of wine or chocolate bar – bang – the image is back.

Skipping meals and having a permanent gym locker can seem like an extreme lifestyle change for some, but it’s surprising how quickly your mind can turn against your body and force you to do extreme things.

The lucky amongst us will have an experience that brings our obsession to reality. I needed a few, but my most impactful event happened at a Taylor Swift concert. I’d limited my calorie intake from the usual 1,000 to 800 so I could enjoy a guilt-free beer. But after seeing my friends singing along merrily with a pint in each palm, one soon became three and I was tipsy enough to allow myself to indulge in the finest fast food the O2 had to offer.

That’s when it became clear. The gym was no long the safe space where I could work off my daily stresses; it was a place that summoned me each day after work, chose what I ate for dinner and whispered ‘one more set’ as my fatigued muscles pleaded to go home and rest.

Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your body, but for some, learning the limit can be hard. Our society is so heavily based on branding losing weight as a positive that it’s easy for the line between healthy and addicted to become distorted.

Identifying the traits of a health obsession is important. If you can relate to any other the points below, it may be worth visiting your GP for advice:

1. Feeling guilt, anxiety or depression if a workout is skipped or not completed.

2. Working through injury or not giving your body significant time to rest between exercising.

3. Restricting your calorie intake to an unhealthy level, meticulously tracking macros or using exercise to counteract food intake.

4. Using exercise as a primary way to cope with negative emotions, events or experiences.

5. Skipping leisure activities to work out.

6. Receiving comments from others about your dietary habits or the amount of time spent in the gym.


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Vegetarian Bowl

Lifestyle Changes to Make if you Want to Get Rich in 2020

If you’re looking to build more wealth in 2020, money won’t simply appear — you’re probably going to have to make some changes to reach your goals.

Here are five lifestyle changes that have helped self-made millionaires get to where they are today. If they worked for them, they could also work for you.

The richest people focus on earning, and they typically aren’t content with one source of revenue.

As author Thomas C. Corley found in his multi-year study of self-made millionaires, the rich “do not rely on one singular source of income,” he writes in “Change Your Habits, Change Your Life.” In fact, “65% had at least three streams of income that they created prior to making their first million dollars,” Corley says, such as real-estate rentals, a side hustle or a part-time job.

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Colorful Toothbrushes

Don’t Use Your Friend’s Toothbrush: How to be a House-guest Without Blowing Up The Friendship

True friendship is a folded-down couch and spare key. But even in the most relaxed household, there are invisible tripwires

Maybe you spent the break in your childhood home but somewhere in the last few decades your parents turned your bedroom into a sewing room and now you sleep on a fold-out couch that has a weird metal bar in the middle of it that sticks into your back. In the middle of the night you woke up, momentarily freaking out at the bolts of fabric looming over you that appeared, at first glance, to be a group of tall, thin men.

Maybe you were the one hosting guests and you reached for your favourite (expensive) shampoo only to realise it was ALL GONE because your guests helped themselves. Mystery hair has collected in your razor. Someone drank your special wine.

Or maybe you went away, entrusting your garden and your pet and all your things to a friend who loses her own wallet at least once a week. Your holiday then becomes a stressful refreshing of your phone to see her Instagram stories for pet and garden proof of life.

Or maybe you are the sort of family or individual who never has guests and who avoids being a guest, and for whom the hundreds of dollars spent on accommodation or an Airbnb nearby is the best money you’ll ever spend.

Because in each household where there is the promise of a spare room, even in the most relaxed household, there are invisible tripwires and rules that you’ll never guess, the chance of the slight but unexpressed thrum of tension when you drink from the wrong glass or even just the likelihood of a poor sleep on a fold-out couch.

Or maybe you are the sort for whom the offer and/or acceptance of a bed in a friend’s house is in itself a form not only of friendship, but a deepening of it.

That real friendship comes not after the nights at the bar and the barbecues and the shared activities – but this: folding down a couch or clearing out the spare room, stretching out a stiff, freshly washed and line-dried sheet, placing a cup of water on the bedside table and a spare key, and having the same done for you when you are a guest.

Yet the hospitable exchange can be fraught. It can be easier to muck up and offend when you are in someone’s house – get them the wrong gift or no gift at all, leave a mess, take things and liberties, get underfoot, outstay your welcome.

Then add kids to the mix and different styles of parenting and the tripwires multiply.

You are more likely to discover a friend’s hard limits when you stay in each other’s houses.

You find all this out when you arrive at the threshold with your overnight bag and the best of intentions.


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Lifestyle Brand

The Next Step to Becoming a Lifestyle Brand? Designing a Place To Live

Somewhere along the rise of social media, as documenting and sharing the highlight reel of our everyday lives became a part of the everyday, many fashion companies shifted gears and repositioned themselves as “lifestyle brands.” This goes beyond simply providing products for the 360º of a consumer’s life: In order to successfully establish themselves in the “lifestyle” space, their offerings must reflect the values, attitudes and interests of their desired demographic. The brands must create their own culture — one that a shopper will want to buy into.

“Clothing, jeans, children’s [clothes], shoes, bags, jewelry, watches — we’ve done two Ducati’s, a bicycle, and we have furniture, lamps and things for the bathroom and kitchen. And our customer is becoming more demanding,” says Renzo Rosso, the CEO of Diesel and president of OTB Group, the parent company to Diesel, as well as Maison Margiela, Marni, Paula Cademartori, Viktor & Rolf, Staff International and Brave Ki.

Having established this long list of products representative of a Diesel lifestyle, the company has decided to embark on the next step in this journey: a place for Diesel shoppers to live their best Diesel life, literally.

Diesel is joining the short list of traditional fashion brands that have gotten into real estate and hospitality, with its first-ever residential property — a nine-story condominium in Wynwood, the popular art district in Miami. Related Stories:Founding a Small Brand Outside of a Fashion Capital Can Be Good for BusinessSimonett Is a Miami-Based Label to WatchWhy Miami Influencers Might Be the Secret to Tapping International Consumers

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Working out with Battle Ropes

Fitness Trends That Will Power You Through 2020

As more people continue to seek efficient workouts (more sweat in less time) HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) will continue to remain popular, according to Heather Englund of Fit Mama Real Food. Here’s a trend we can all get behind: doing less of what we hate, and more of what we love. Mandi Em of Healthy Living for Hot Messes says 2020 is “the year of the nature walk, the lazy hike, or the living room dance party.”

Science shows us that getting out into nature is immensely good for our bodies and minds, says Em, which makes nature “the original gym.”
“Also it’s free and comes with complimentary endorphins! Literally just go for a walk,” says Em. “That’s your step one. Kettlebells can wait. What 2020 needs is people looking at where they are at, and taking it to the next level instead of bounding to the top step, falling short, hating it, hating themselves, and giving up entirely.”

While gyms can serve as great motivation for our workout, sometimes getting to the gym is impossible, especially when the weather is bad or the kiddo is sick. “Even though many consumers still crave an in-person experience, we’re seeing people supplement their workouts with at-home options, which offer a convenience factor that physical gyms and studios lack,” says Erika Shannon, former coach for SoulCycle, Equinox and Daily Burn, and current Director of Fitness for MYXfitness. “There’s a demand for both in-person and at-home alternatives, and rather than one completely eclipsing the other, we’ll start to see more people combining the two for a more personalized approach to wellness.”

Mike Fantigrassi, M.S., NASM-CPT, and co-author of NASM’s new Certified Nutrition Coach program (NASM-CNC) calls it a fitness hybrid approach. “What this means is people will still go to the gym…they’ll still work with personal trainers to help them achieve proper form. They may supplement with on-demand workouts and different programming when they’re not with a trainer.” Fantigrassi says an on-demand/live fitness content is a more affordable option and “actually gives a trainer an opportunity to work with more clients, and even retain them. For example, a client may seek a trainer to ensure they’re doing the on-demand movements properly, or trainers can recommend the proper on-demand programming for a client who is traveling.”

Next year will be more about a functional and holistic long-term approach to weight loss rather than the rapid “diets” of years past. “In 2020, the trend will continue away from a focus on rapid weight-loss/diet-only approaches and toward true sustainability accompanied by healthy nutrition and regular exercise,” says Jim Frith, Founder of TopFitPros, Certified Personal Trainer & Advance Sports Nutrition Specialist. “Over 80 percent of people who have lost substantial amounts of weight have historically gained it back. Constant ups and downs in weight are unhealthy and frustrating. Many people are looking for a path to weight loss that allows them to keep it off and to be healthy. They are tired of every weight loss program out there claiming to be sustainable, but with few offering credible scientific research to back up their claims.”

Working out in small, focused groups, including small training groups and fitness classes, will still be trending in 2020. “People love working out with friends and getting pushed by others in a class setting,” says Marie Urban, Personal Trainer and Regional Group Training Coordinator at Life Time. “Working  out with a group of friends is not only impactful for yourself but for others as well. Working out and fitness breaks down natural barriers and gets people to feel more comfortable and confident with one another.” Plus it helps develop relationships, friendships, and self-confidence. Says Urban: “People are craving connection now more than ever.”

“People are really interested in recovery and fitness stats,” saysy Urban who thinks “2020 will be all about ‘the more information the better’.” Adds Shannon: “As technology-based wellness innovations continue to evolve, the fitness landscape is definitely shifting toward more digital connection. Fitness/wellness apps, wearables, and at-home equipment with digital programming abound right now! We’ve already seen the beginning of what fitness tech is capable of, and we’re going to see more of this in 2020, with an increased focus on community. This, more than anything, has the potential to affect traditional gyms, as there is a new option to connect with like-minded people right from the comfort of your home.”


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Healthy Eating

Intermittent Fasting Could Be Part of a Healthy Lifestyle, Studies Show

A new review of the evidence published in the New England Journal of Medicine Thursday suggests that intermittent fasting — the practice of limiting how much you eat during the day or week — can actually be a healthy way to eat.

“The state of the science on intermittent fasting has evolved to the point that it now can be considered as one approach, with exercise and healthy food, to improving and maintaining health as a lifestyle approach,” senior author and Johns Hopkins Medicine neuroscientist Mark Mattson told HealthDay Reporter.

Mattson, who has studied the issue for 25 years and practiced it himself for 20, told the Johns Hopkins Medicine Newsroom that intermittent fasting usually takes two forms.

The diet probably works, Johns Hopkins explained, because it triggers a mechanism that evolved in humans to adapt to periods of scarcity, called “metabolic switching.”

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How To Choose A Dog

The first step is to be honest about your lifestyle.

Nearby, a half-dozen dogs happily tromped through the muddy field, fetching tennis balls, rolling in frosty grass or sniffing one other. Most of their owners recalled that getting their dogs involved internet research, rounds of interviews with breeders, and not-insignificant amounts of money. At least at this dog park, there weren’t any simple accounts of picking up a stray.

Nearly 70 percent of all US households own a pet, and dogs are by far the most popular, according to Forbes. Millennials have recently overtaken baby boomers as the biggest pet-owning generation, and they spend lavishly on their “fur-babies”: 51 percent buy them gifts once a month or more, and 60 percent buy them clothes, also according to Forbes. As millennials delay or choose not to have children due in large part to financial insecurity, the US birth rate is at a record low, and when a Yorkshire Terrier wearing a hoodie rolls by in a stroller, it’s hard to avoid a little armchair psychology.

You’ll need to examine your life and family from every angle. Be thorough and honest. There are many online tools to help with this. The American Veterinary Medical Association has a good questionnaire, as does Purina pet food.

And here we are at the third-rail of dog ownership.

Contrary to popular belief, “If you want to be the most assured that the dog that you’re getting has a known personality that will fit in with your family, your lifestyle and other pets, adopting from a shelter is the way to go,” says Paxton. “It’s a mistake to think that if you buy a puppy from a breeder that you can control the puppy’s personality and guarantee that the puppy will like kids, dogs, cats or your lifestyle.”

According to the ASPCA, about 3.3 million dogs enter US animal shelters annually. Every year, 670,000 shelter dogs are euthanized, while approximately 2 million are purchased from stores and kennels, according to Paxton, who uses a pseudonym to protect his identity because he still works as an undercover animal investigator exposing animal cruelty, mostly in puppy mills.

The stereotype that rescue dogs are “broken,” Paxton explains, is flawed. Would-be dog owners are often concerned about unknown health issues and separation anxiety, which is when a dog panics at the owner’s departure and stays panicked until they return.

But Paxton contends that separation anxiety can also occur when breeders pull puppies from their mothers too early, at five to six weeks of age, (though in many states they can’t legally be sold until eight weeks).

Some people do choose to go with a breeder because of allergies or because they have their heart set on a specific breed. Keane, who was at the dog park, had only owned rescue dogs but he connected with a breeder for the first time because he’d decided on a miniature Australian shepherd. He has owned a few rescues with traumatic pasts who he says couldn’t always be trusted to play nice. Stella has been a perfect fit and even comes with Keane to his work as an arborist every day. Still, he doesn’t tell everyone that Stella was purchased from a breeder because of the stigma. “You don’t want to say that in mixed company,” he says.


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Susan Sparks: Am I Gonna Ride this Thing or Not?

There are a lot of things that the Bible doesn’t tell us.

For instance, what did Jesus do between the ages of 12 and 30?

Why did God create platypuses before people?

Or this question, with which I have struggled my entire adult life:

What did Mary say the split second after Joseph told her that at nine months pregnant, she had to ride a donkey 90 miles up a 2,500-foot mountain from Nazareth to Bethlehem in order to answer questions for a census guy?

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