#422 8/25/2010 CLEAN AND GREEN
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Cleanliness becomes more important when godliness is unlikely.

P. J. O'Rourke

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Killing Germs in Your Home Gym

By Stephanie S. Saunders

Unless you live in a hypoallergenic bubble, it's awfully hard to steer clear of germs. And during cold and flu season, or if you're in a job that involves working with children, it's even harder. But what if your workouts are making you sick? No, I'm not referring to pushing so hard it makes you hurl; I'm referring to the parasites, viruses, and bacteria that live on gym equipment, flooring, and even your shoes.

Magnifying Glass and Bacteria

The New York Times recently ran a story about a high school student who almost died from an antibiotic-resistant form of staph infection, which he most likely contracted from an exercise mat. More and more dermatologists and podiatrists are seeing cases of plantar warts, fungi, and rashes that they're attributing to shared equipment in gym or yoga classes.

"Not a problem!" you retort, "I do P90X® in my living room, so I don't have to worry about this." Think again . . . because bugs can find their way into your home more easily than you'd think. Eighty percent of disease is transmitted through interactions with someone who's carrying germs, or touching a surface where those organisms live. So if you meet a friend for lunch, go to a meeting at work, or play with your kids in the park, then hit the home gym and crank out 60 minutes of cardio, you spread the germs to your gear, where bacteria can survive for days and viruses can hang out for weeks. The often sweaty and warm conditions are the perfect breeding grounds for these bugs.

And it's not just exercise gear. Charles P. Gerba, Ph.D., a professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona, found that after 3 months of wear, 13 percent of shoes carry E. coli bacteria, and 90 percent of shoes carry traces of feces. So unless you have a pair of workout shoes earmarked specifically for indoor use, you're tracking germs into your house, and probably onto your equipment.

So what can you do? Let's look at some steps you can take for better home gym hygiene.

Shoes

A good portion of the world's population removes all shoes before entering the home. Maybe their flooring is just more delicate, but perhaps it's that they're more aware of what they're bringing into their homes. You can pick up some of the worst shoe-germs simply from walking down the street, and while it's hard to avoid those germs on the mats of your local gym, you do have the option of keeping them off that fancy plyo mat at home.

The ideal solution would be to segregate one pair of athletic shoes just for your workouts, but if a second pair of athletic shoes isn't an option, throwing your sneakers into a washing machine every few weeks can kill a plethora of bugs. If your shoes aren't tough enough to take the pounding, you can spray the soles with Lysol®, then clean the rest of the shoe by hand with a gentle cleaner. It may take a bit of time, but isn't that better than doing push-ups on a poopy surface?

Dumbbells/medicine balls/ankle weights

Resistance equipment comes in a variety of styles—squishy, round, ankle-binding, shiny, handled, neon-colored . . . Regardless, any kind of dumbbell can hold onto bacteria for days at a time. And since they now come in so many shapes and sizes, they give germs more places to hide, especially in foam-covered dumbbells. So until someone invents a self-cleaning dumbbell, please make friends with the Clorox® Disinfecting Wipe. Wiping down equipment daily after use would be ideal, but if you're too busy, once a week should work. Make sure you get into the creases of the medicine ball and the folds of the ankle weights. If you happen to live in a particularly humid or warm climate, try to swab your gear at least a couple of times a week.

Mat and DumbbellsMats

These are probably the biggest pain to clean, as they're such a large surface. But since you lie on them, roll around on them, and do everything short of lick them, you really need to keep them sanitary. Happily, there are a ton of products out there designed specifically for cleaning yoga mats. There are washes, sprays, and wipes that maintain the mat's necessary, inherent stickiness while removing the dirt. You can pick up any of these cleaning aids at health food stores or online. Also, should you have the extra cash, there are sticky towels that are made specifically for placing on top of an exercise mat and that can easily be thrown into the washing machine.

If you don't want to invest in fancy cleaning accessories, you can actually put your mat in the washing machine, as long as you remove it before the spin cycle. Use a mild detergent and wash in cold water only. Let the mat air-dry completely before you use it again, or you might find yourself with a bit of a drippy mess on your hands (and floor).

And if you don't have access to a washing machine (and you don't want to drag your mat to a laundromat), taking a shower with your yoga mat can be some multitasking fun. Okay, maybe not fun, but you can lather up your mat with the same antibacterial soap you use on your skin, then rinse the mat completely and hang it over the shower rack to dry.

Pull-up bars/push-up stands

Very similar to dumbbells in terms of nooks and crannies providing cleaning challenges. Like some dumbbells, they often have foam padding. The denseness of this foam makes them incredibly durable, but that same denseness makes it much easier for germs to get trapped, which makes keeping them clean especially important. Harsh chemicals can break down the foam, so Clorox wipes aren't your best bet for the nonmetal parts. Your best bet is probably to squeeze some mild soapy water into the foam, then squeeze in some clean water to release the dirt. The most important part would be to make sure you dry the foam padding adequately; this will help you avoid mildew. Make sure you squeeze out all excess water with a towel, then if possible, let the whole unit dry completely in the sun.

Resistance bands

These wonderful bands, usually made of latex rubber, come in a variety of makes, models, sizes, and colors. Whether you use the tubular kind with handles, or the long flat kind you can tie, resistance bands are durable and portable—and they hold on to germs like there's no tomorrow. Because there isn't a whole lot you can do to mess them up, you can fill a sink with warm water and antibacterial dishwashing liquid and drop all your resistance bands in at once. If you want to be particularly OCD-ish, you can also scrub them with a toothbrush, but just letting them sit in the warm soapy water will generally be enough to get them clean. Allow them to air-dry completely before you use them again.

RugFlooring/carpets

Tidying your workout area seems like a given, but most of us stop at putting our dumbbells behind the couch at the end of the session. However, the floor you were just doing dive bombers on could probably use some attention. If you have hardwood or tile floors, find a good antibacterial cleaning product that's safe for all floors. Swiffer® even has a product line specifically for wood floors and the germs that love them. If your floor is less sensitive, a bucket of Lysol and some elbow grease will do it.

If you're a carpet person, there are many options. Dry carpet powders that you sprinkle on carpet and then vacuum up supposedly kill mold, bacteria, and dust mites. Then there are steam and vapor carpet cleaners you can rent or purchase, many with antibacterial and anti-mold properties. And for those of you with green-minded intentions, there are plenty of environmentally friendly cleaning products that can be put into any steamer. You should sweep or vacuum your floors regularly, and aim for a deeper cleaning every few months.

You

Odds are you had your last official hygiene lesson in 7th-grade health class. And not to sound like your teacher, but showering after a workout is still really important. We know you're busy, and you were just going to run to the store. We know your INSANITY® video ran 20 minutes longer than you thought it would. We know you just don't have enough time. But also we know your skin is now swimming in bacteria, and frankly, you smell a little ripe. Furthermore, no one you encounter wants that bacteria handed off to them, so a quick rinse will make you a better acquaintance. And one more thing (although this should be common knowledge): putting on clean clothes after your shower is a vital piece of the puzzle.

Taking a few extra minutes to clean up your workout gear can make the difference between healthy and sick. With an increasing number of people being diagnosed with skin infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus ("staph") bacteria that are resistant to many antibiotics, there's no reason to take a chance, because no matter how much you love working out, there's nothing fun about catching a disease.

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Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet development, who also serves as your Fitness Advisor on the Message Boards, Steve Edwards, on Monday, August 30th, at 3:00 PM ET, 12:00 PM PT. Go to the Beachbody Chat Room.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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How to (Painlessly) Go Green in 1 Year

By Joe Wilkes

Here at Beachbody®, we're all about getting lean and healthy. And one of the things we also want to slim down is our carbon footprint—the measure of our impact on the environment. From sweeping changes like making our packaging greener to little things like using filtered tap water at the office instead of those big plastic water cooler jugs, we're doing our part to try and make our planet as healthy as we're trying to make our bodies. After all, no matter how much you work out and eat healthily, if the environment's sick, before long, you will be too. Here are some ideas for changing to a greener lifestyle—in just 1 year. You might not become Leonardo DiCaprio or Al Gore overnight, but just changing one small habit every month could add up to a big difference for the planet, and for your pocketbook too.

Glass Globe

SEPTEMBER—One Man's Trash Is Another's Treasure

Ours is a consumer society that literally discards tons of stuff every year, and face it, a lot of it is yours. Sure, a lot of it you never should have bought in the first place, but once you have it, you're stuck with it. And if you don't get rid of it, you can't get any new stuff! So you try to recycle the stuff you can; sometimes you can even talk the city into coming and picking up your toxic stuff, like old fridges and TVs. But some stuff just seems destined to go to the junkyard or landfill. However, before you just let these misguided purchases shuffle off to begin their centuries of decomposition, you can try to find a new home for as much of this soon-to-be-orphaned junk as possible. Try doing this by posting on a selling or trading site like eBay® or Craigslist®, or give the stuff away on Freecycle.org. Or if you're the more social type, have a yard sale. It's a great way to make a little cash and meet your neighbors. You can have friends and family participate in the sale, too. Everyone's got some junk to get rid of. When the sale's over, instead of just dragging the stuff that doesn't sell back into the house or garage, arrange to have a local thrift store or charity come pick it up—many have trucks and able-bodied staffers to load it all up. The important thing is to keep it out of the landfill.

OCTOBER—Go Green When You Clean

Basket with Cleaning SuppliesIf you're like me, the most toxic place in your house is under the kitchen sink. You probably have enough chemical solutions to start your own meth lab, which is probably a bit of overkill when all you really need is a little something to wipe off your stovetop once in a while. And the scariest part? You're spraying all your surfaces with these toxins and then making food on them. You pay top dollar to coat your kitchen in poison, then send toxins down the drain to pollute the groundwater, the ocean, or wherever the drain ultimately goes. So it's time to get rid of your most hazardous cleaners and go old school with your cleaning. Almost all your kitchen-cleaning needs can be handled with baking soda or distilled vinegar. (Although not together—remember those make-your-own-volcano science projects?) If there's something these two cleaning titans can't handle, try Googling around for a green solution to your specific cleaning issue. There are message boards all over the place, and in all likelihood, someone else has found a way to solve your problem without having to resort to chemical warfare.

NOVEMBER—Veg Out Once in a While

Beef, chicken, pork, lamb. They're all delicious, and in low-fat (preferably organic) varieties, they're also nutritious. But the environmental cost of bringing meat to your dinner table can be huge. Rainforests are cut down to make way for grazing land. All those cows bred for beef create an enormous methane problem with their "exhaust gases." Plus, it takes thousands of gallons of water to produce meat, not to mention that transporting it burns tons of fuel and creates tons of pollution. If everyone went vegetarian, or even better, vegan, just 1 day a week, it would make an enormous impact on the environment. A veg-out day could help cleanse your body while making things a bit easier on your pocketbook.

DECEMBER—Have a Green Christmas

The lights, the sounds, the presents—it all means the holidays are here. And even the Grinch wouldn't ask you not to indulge in your chosen annual festival of excess, but there are few things you can do to help the environment without spoiling the fun. Try hanging LED Christmas lights instead of incandescents. You'll save a lot of energy for the planet and a lot of money on your electric bill. Buy recycled gift wrap. Or find creative ways to wrap presents that don't require gift wrap—like using reusable gift bags or making the gift wrap part of the present. (I wrap my tabloid-loving friend's presents in the latest supermarket rag.) Think about exchanging eCards instead of traditional cards this holiday season. It's less of a hassle, saves you a lot on postage, and helps the environment by saving both paper and the fuel required to deliver the cards via snail mail. If you can't imagine the holidays without a mantel full of cards, at least buy the recycled kind. And when the holidays are over, you can cut the fronts off the cards and donate them to various charities that recycle them and sell them to raise money the following year.

JANUARY—Raid the Refrigerator

I've been in the same apartment for about 10 years. And the apartment came with a refrigerator that had been there a lot longer than that. My first clue that something might be up with the door seal was the layer of rust that pitted the length of the door. My second clue should have been that my electric bill was about $80.00 to $100.00 a month, which is pretty steep for a one-bedroom apartment, even in L.A. Finally, last year my fridge gave up the ghost and my landlord sprang for a new Energy Star-rated fridge. Not top of the line, but a decent $400.00 model. My electric bill dropped $60.00 the first month. If I had bought that fridge when I moved in, I would have paid it off in electricity savings in just over 6 months, and I would have pocketed around $6,800.00 that I instead parceled out to Southern California Edison over the years. Try placing a dollar bill in your refrigerator door—if it comes out too easily once the door is closed, you might have a bad seal. By having your refrigerator resealed or by upgrading your refrigerator, you can save a LOT of money, not to mention what you're doing for the planet. Refrigerators are the worst power consumers, but it's worth checking all your appliances, including air conditioners, televisions, microwaves, etc., to see if they're Energy Star-rated, or if it might be worth your while to upgrade. Some electric companies offer incentives to replace power-abusing appliances—check with yours.

FEBRUARY—Don't Be a Dim Bulb

You've probably seen more and more of these spiral-shaped fluorescent bulbs around. Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) cost a bit more than regular incandescent bulbs, but only use about a quarter of the electricity—one bulb can save you up to $30.00 over the course of its lifetime (which is long, up to 15,000 hours compared to the paltry 750 to 1,000 hours of the incandescent bulb). Count up the light bulbs in your house—that's a lot of money saved. With numbers like that, you can see why countries like Australia have begun phasing in these super-green bulbs by law, and have started banning incandescents. But even on a voluntary basis, the "green" you save by going green should be a pretty good incentive. For those who believe fluorescent lighting is too cold and don't want their living area lit like an airport restroom, take a look at the newer CFLs—as they've grown in popularity, manufacturers have developed new ways to adjust their color temperature. Plus, there are now CFLs enclosed in glass bulbs to mimic exposed incandescents in ceiling fans, or even to replace those big globe-shaped-lights-in-a-row over your bathroom mirror. People who visit my CFL-lit abode can't even tell I've replaced my incandescents—and my electric bill dropped another $5.00 a month. Again, check with your electric company to verify whether any incentive programs exist for replacing your bulbs with CFLs.

MARCH—Sack the Plastic Bag

Shopping BagOnce better recycling techniques were developed for plastic bags, supermarkets were off to the races, embracing the cheaply produced plastic bags. They even put the paper bags in plastic bags for ease of carrying. The problem: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that only about 1 percent of plastic grocery bags get recycled. The rest end up in landfills or as litter, where they begin their 1,000-year decomposition process, leaching their petrochemicals into the soil and groundwater. Other bags go on to become toxic threats to wildlife and sea animals. Many stores have begun refusing to carry these ecoterrors, and almost all now offer some reusable alternative at a reasonable price. Some supermarkets offer discounts or prize drawings for customers who bring their own bags. Plus, the cloth bags are a lot nicer—they don't dig into your hands. And since I keep about 20 in the back of my car (about another 10 are usually forgotten in my apartment), I always have padding for fragile items.

APRIL—Ban the Bottle

We've featured a number of articles in this newsletter about the putative health benefits of bottled water, and largely, we don't believe the hype. The bottled-water industry is largely unregulated, so you can never be 100 percent sure what you're going to get. Tap water, on the other hand, is heavily regulated by the EPA, in addition to state and local agencies, so you can be pretty sure what you're going to get. And there are plenty of affordable filters available to make the tap water taste as good as your favorite bottled brand. You'll save tons of money by switching to tap, paying pennies instead of dollars for a liter or two of the wet stuff, but more importantly, you'll be helping the environment in two ways. First, much like the plastic bags, the petroleum-based plastic bottles are largely eco-unfriendly. They can be recycled, but the ones that aren't end up on the millennium decomposition plan with their plastic bag brethren. Secondly, there's the enormous transportation costs—especially if you're getting your fancy water shipped in from Fiji or Norway. Does American water really taste that much worse that it's worth polluting the oceans, the air, and the land to transport a bottle of H20 halfway across the globe?

MAY—Better Bathroom Habits

And we're not just talking about leaving the seat up or down. Our morning hygiene routines can be the most wasteful part of the day. Starting with brushing your teeth—if you leave the faucet running while you brush your teeth for 2 minutes, about three gallons of water are going down the drain. Then when you hop in the shower, you're using 2.5 gallons of water per minute. And if your toilet's a bit on the older side, add another five gallons per flush. So a 2-minute tooth brushing, a 10-minute shower, and one toilet flush send a grand total of 33 gallons down the pipes. You can knock down the total by cutting your shower time in half. You can also install a low-flow shower head, a faucet aerator, and/or an on/off switch that lets you stop and restart your shower at the same temperature and pressure setting you were using before, any of which can cut your water use in half and save you up to $250.00 a year. Also, if you still have one those "spring" water bottles you stopped using in April lying around, you can fill it with water and put it in your toilet tank. When you displace part of the tank's water, your flushes will be less wasteful. Replacing your toilet with a newer low-flow model can reduce your flush from five gallons to as low as 1.5 gallons. And honestly, if your toilet's old enough to be a five-gallon model, it's probably a little crusty anyway.

JUNE—Shop Locally

Summer is the perfect time to start getting to know your local farmers' market. If you don't know where yours is, do a little Internet surfing—most communities have farmers' markets or at least cooperatives that provide you with the opportunity to shop locally. The advantages are many. You help support your community. You get food so fresh that it may have been in the ground the day before. You can get food with fewer chemicals and preservatives, or at least be able to look the farmer in the eye and ask, "What's on your apple?" You can save money because you aren't paying for the food to be shipped from some faraway land, which wastes petroleum resources and causes air, sea, and land pollution, as with the bottled water. If you have to shop at the supermarket, check what you buy to see where it's produced and try buying products produced locally. Also, don't be afraid to let your supermarket managers know that you'd like them to stock locally grown stuff. If they know you're interested, they'll also be interested. Even better, shop at independently owned grocery stores where the person making the buying decisions is on site.

JULY—Walk, Don't Drive

Woman WalkingFor a resident of Los Angeles, this is almost heresy to say, but by getting out of your car, you'll be saving fuel and helping your health. You'll inhale way fewer pollutants when you're outside walking past the traffic than you do when you're stuck inside your car. Plus, you'll be giving yourself huge cardiovascular benefits by getting out and stretching your legs. Think about all your daily errands and consider whether you can take your car out of the equation for any of them. Even small changes in your routine can lead to big overall savings in gas and make you and the planet healthier. Think about carpooling or taking public transportation if it's available. In addition to the fuel you'll save, you can read the paper in the morning instead of cursing the slowpoke driving five miles per hour in front of you. If you have to drive, there are still some ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Try not to be a stop-and-go driver. People who habitually ride the brake and accelerator use up to 30 percent more gas than the people who drive more evenly. Keeping the pressure in your tires up is another way to make your drive more efficient. By losing the (literal, not figurative this time) junk in the trunk, you can make your ride lighter and use less gas. By keeping your windows rolled up, you'll reduce the drag on your car—it'll become more aerodynamic and require less fuel. And by driving at 50 miles per hour instead of 70, you can save 25 percent in fuel efficiency.

AUGUST—Less Paper, More Room

The one thing that contributes the most to the junk piled in the messy rooms I call home is paper. By the end of every week, I have a waist-high stack of newspapers poised to collapse in my living room. My bedroom floor is littered with the subscription cards that have fallen out of magazines I already have subscriptions to. The top of my desk is a distant memory, buried under stacks of (mostly unopened) mail. My bookshelves have been crammed to bursting, because apparently on my next day off, I plan to plow through the hundred or so books I impulse-bought to read in my "spare time." All of this is at odds with the minimalist aesthetic I claim to pursue. I recycle as much paper as I can, but do I really need all this in the first place? And do you? But where do you begin? First off, take a magic marker with you when you check the mail. These three magic words, "Return to Sender," or these three, "Remove from List," can begin to make your life a lot less cluttered and ultimately save a lot of paper. Hopefully, people will stop sending you junk, or at the very least, the junk won't ever make it into your home. There are also services available online that for a small fee will get your name and address scrubbed from most lists. Check with your various credit card and utility companies to see if you can go paperless and receive your bills via email. Also, email the companies who send you catalogs to tell them you'd prefer to receive their information electronically. See if electronic versions of your favorite newspapers and magazines are available. Most have the extra advantage of having an online archive, so, unlike me, you won't have that milk crate full of old New Yorkers that you never had time to finish reading but couldn't bear to throw away. And get to know your library. You can save a fortune on books, and instead of taking up residence in your home, those books that turned out to be not so hot only visit you for 2 or 3 weeks.

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Joe WilkesQuestions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet development, who also serves as your Fitness Advisor on the Message Boards, Steve Edwards, on Monday, August 30th, at 3:00 PM ET, 12:00 PM PT. Go to the Beachbody Chat Room.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Beach Bag Beauty Essentials

Beach Tote with Accessories

After working hard to get your body summer-ready, you deserve a day at the beach! But before you flaunt your bod, make sure you know what to pack to look hot and stay cool. Which products will keep your skin and lips protected? Which ones will give you the most realistic instant tan? Check out this list of essential beauty products to stash in your summer beach bag.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Test Your Surprise Demise IQ!

By DeLane McDuffie

Sir Francis BaconDon't you hate it when things don't go your way? Or when the weather forecast calls for sunshine, but it rains instead? That may have been on the minds of the people mentioned below, ranging from fitness/health icons to regular Joes. One minute, you could be shaking hands with Life, and then the next minute, it could be slapping you in the face. Wear a helmet. The following individuals got a taste of Life's ironic side. Match the man with the characteristic that best befits his unplanned exit strategy.

  1. Jim Fixx - Cholesterol roadblock. James F. Fixx was a key figure in America's jogging movement of the late 1970s. He authored the best-selling book The Complete Book of Running in 1977 and championed healthy dieting for living a long life. One morning in 1984, he suffered a heart attack while on his daily morning jog. His autopsy revealed that he had severe blocking in three coronary arteries.
  2. Jerome Moody - Premature celebration. Near the end of the summer of 1985, the New Orleans Recreation Department held a huge pool party to commemorate its first summer in memory without a single drowning. Two hundred people were in attendance, with more than half of them being certified lifeguards. There were also four lifeguards on duty. As the party began to wind down, the lifeguards checked the premises. To everyone's shock, there was a fully clothed man, Jerome Moody, lying at the bottom of the deep end. Moody, a party guest, drowned while surrounded by lifeguards.
  3. Jerome Irving Rodale - Bored to death. The other Jerome on this list is credited with establishing the organic food movement. He also was the publisher/founder of the Rodale Press, home of many wellness magazines, like Men's Health, Women's Health, and Prevention. During a guest appearance on The Dick Cavett Show in 1971, Rodale boasted to Cavett during the interview, "I'm going to live to be 100, unless I'm run down by some sugar-crazed taxi driver." Within minutes, the 72-year-old slumped over in his chair, dead from a heart attack. In the original story, Cavett thought that Rodale was asleep and asked him, "Are we boring you, Mr. Rodale?" However, Cavett later rejected this account, and the show never aired.
  4. Sir Francis Bacon - Frozen dinner. An English Renaissance Man, Bacon was a philosopher, politician, writer, lawyer, and a scientist. His style of scientific investigation later led to the scientific method, and he's even been rumored to have penned some of Shakespeare's plays. In 1626, the man with the delicious surname wondered if snow could preserve meat. Unable to keep his curiosity at bay, he killed a chicken, stepped outside into a snowstorm, and spent several hours trying to jam snow into the chicken. He almost froze to death and later died from pneumonia.
  5. Tycho Brahe - Table manners. This 16th-century Danish astronomer and alchemist was instrumental in establishing the early theories of planetary motion, and also worked alongside German astronomer Johannes Kepler. It is said that during a banquet in Prague, after some serious drinking, the Dane continued to sit at the table and refused to go to the restroom to relieve himself. Back then, it was impolite to excuse oneself from a feast before the meal was concluded. Because of his steadfast dining etiquette, his bladder popped like a balloon, and he suffered unimaginable pain, meeting his maker about a week and a half later. Other theories have developed about his death, including mercury poisoning and murder.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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