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9 Healthy Gift Ideas for Mom

By Joe Wilkes

With Mother's Day just around the corner, the pressure's on to find a great present for a great woman who has cared for you, taught you right from wrong, and provided you with many interest-free loans over the years. Flowers are a favorite, but they wither and die quickly—not exactly a lasting gift. You could get chocolates or candy, because there's nothing like the gift that says, "Mom, here's my contribution to your adult-onset diabetes!" Or, you could look for a gift that tells your mother you love her and want her to be around for a long time to come.

Mother and Daughter

  1. Gift CardsGift certificates. Does Mom have a favorite hobby? Keep in mind that a hobby is something she enjoys—not something she does all the time. If she loves to watch the Food Network and subscribes to Gourmet magazine, a gift certificate to Sur La Table® or Williams-Sonoma® would be a great idea. If she cooks meals for the family while cursing and muttering vague threats of ground glass under her breath, the kitchen store gift certificate may be akin to buying the maid a new mop for Christmas. Find something she likes, or if you're completely unsure, you can get her a Visa gift certificate she can spend anywhere. But for extra points, incorporate the gift certificate into a day of retail therapy that you spend with her.
  2. Turbo Jam®DVD workouts. Come on, you didn't think we'd leave out the obvious great Mother's Day present? Whatever your mom's fitness level or interest, there's a Beachbody® fitness program that's right for her. Maybe she wants to get her mantra on with Yoga Booty Ballet® Pure & Simple Yoga. Or maybe she'd like to kick up her heels with Turbo Jam®. Or maybe she even wants to get ripped to shreds with P90X®. Investing in your mom's physical fitness is a great way to show you care about her long-term health. And if you commit to doing the videos with her, you'll be the best kid ever! Even if you don't live in the same town, you can still make dates to work out together. Putting your mom on the road to a healthier lifestyle is one of the best gifts.
  3. Phone cards. Prepaid long-distance cards make great presents, especially if your mom's a long-distance phone call away. This shows your mom that you value conversation with her and want to keep her involved in your life, even if it's not possible to live in the same town. Other variations on the gift of gab would be to upgrade her cell phone plan so she has more minutes to talk to you, or add a line to your family plan especially for her. These are all good ways to get Mom's words of wisdom on the go.
  4. Clean HouseClean the house. Or if you aren't inclined toward domestic chores, you can hire a maid service to give Mom a week off. This may involve some strategizing with Dad or consulting with Mom beforehand, as this could backfire if the maid shows up for an 8 AM surprise the day Mom decides to sleep in. This also depends on your mom's personality. If she's someone who likes things "just so," having a stranger come in to "mess things up" might be more stress than treat. Also, I remember from my childhood that nothing strained my relationship with my mother more than my poor quality control regarding household chores. If you're going to clean the house, and she has to re-clean it, it's not much of a present.
  5. Healthy DinnerCook a healthy dinner. Preferably at your place, where you can wait on her hand and foot. Cook her favorites or try to introduce her to some healthy new foods. This isn't a good present if you're a lousy cook or an easily stressed host. Try choosing dishes that can be prepared in advance so that you're not spending the evening in the kitchen while Mom's cooling her heels in the living room. The idea behind any Mother's Day present should be about spending time together. If you get stuck in the kitchen preparing the big meal, set your mom up somewhere in the kitchen with a glass of wine or a cup of tea. This way you can chat while preparing dinner. And do NOT let her help clean up.
  6. Foot SpaSpa treatment or massage. After all she does for everyone, doesn't Mom deserve a day of pampering and beauty—or at least an hour? Most day spas offer a range of services, from a simple manicure or facial to a full-body makeover. There should be something for any budget. If money's no object, you could even make it a full-blown weekend at a spa. And of course, it's even better if you accompany her to the treatment. If you're strapped for cash or don't live someplace that is spa-adjacent, make your own spa day at home. Give yourselves facials, rent some movies, make some healthy salads and smoothies, put on some Enya, and just bliss out with Mom.
  7. Gift Basket and ActiVit® MultivitaminsMake your own gift basket. Unless Harry and David are your brothers, no one knows what your mom likes better than you do. You can pick up a wicker basket at your local World Market® or Pier 1 Imports® and fill it with goodies you know your mom likes. Fresh fruits are great. Or her favorite beauty products, like hand creams or perfume. Scented candles or artisanal soaps are also great non-candy additions. You can also check out Beachbody for some good ideas, like ActiVit® Multivitamins. Remember when your mom told you to take your vitamins every morning? Now you can return the favor. Beachbody's Joint Support Super Formula is another great supplement to throw in your gift basket, as is Total Health Women's Formula. Or maybe some fitness gear products like Weighted Gloves to go with that Turbo Jam or some new yoga gear to accompany Yoga Booty Ballet Pure & Simple Yoga. Whatever you put in the basket, make it something you know your mother will like. The real gift is the thoughtfulness that goes into putting it together.
  8. Music MixThe gift of music. In writing this article, I asked my mom, of the gifts I'd given her over the years, what she enjoyed most. While I'm sure there is a soft spot for the macaroni-and-glitter projects of my early years, her favorites were mix CDs that I gave her when I was in college and too broke to get her anything store-bought. But I was able to put together a couple of CDs of songs that I knew she would like, and she appreciated the customized music and finding out about new artists. Later in life, when I was less of a burden on society, I would get her concert tickets. And when possible, I made the concert part of an evening we could spend together.
  9. Mother and SonTime and thoughtfulness. After I asked my mom about her favorite gifts, I asked what she thought were the best presents that any mother could get for Mother's Day, keeping my fingers crossed that the answer wasn't jewelry. She told me that the thing that any mother wants is to spend time with her thoughtful child. And while that's hard to wrap, it's a present you can give your mom all year long. Let's face it, your mom's got a basement full of misbegotten gift ideas you've come up with over the years. And while you should get her something tangible for Mother's Day, just so your brother doesn't make you look like a jerk, the most important component of that gift should be that you give of yourself, not just of your wallet.

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Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, May 11th, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT, in the Beachbody Chatroom!

Joe Wilkes 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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Nutrition 911, Part XIII: Juice, Juicing, and Fruit - The Differences

By Steve Edwards

Last time we discussed why Jamba Juice® isn't always the healthy beverage chain it's cracked up to be. We took a brief look at why something that is "100 percent fruit" might not be healthy, even though we're pretty sure that whole fruit is healthy. Today we'll look at juice, both the kind you buy at the store and the kind you can make at home. Then we'll compare them to regular fruit.

Glass of Orange Juice and Oranges

Minute Maid® and other mainstream junk

Bottles of JuiceFirst, let's talk about what you buy in a store. Almost everything that you can find in a store in the United States is pasteurized to kill potentially harmful bacteria. While this is safer for a big company afraid of lawsuits, it also eliminates many of the most important nutrients of the fruits and vegetables used to make the juice (this is the same for other pasteurized items as well, like milk). Enzymes, in particular, are destroyed by the high temperatures associated with pasteurization, as are many of a fruit's or a vegetable's phytonutrients. Most commercial juice is fortified with vitamins to restore some of its nutrients, but many of the most vital elements are lost ,and the resulting item is often little more than vitamin-fortified sugar water. Even "100 percent pure" juice that's pasteurized has lost most of its nutrients.

The store now has healthier options. These are generally considered smoothies, which we discussed last time (refer to "Nutrition 911, Part XII: Jumbo Juices and Crappuccinos" in the Related Articles section below).

Juice bars

Juice bars, like Jamba Juice, etc., are a small step in the right direction because they use whole fruit in their beverage options. The problem with these juice bars is that they tend to avoid using veggies and also use some concentrated juice that's mainly sugar. Fruit alone is high in sugar, especially when liquefied because some of the fiber is lost. So even 100 percent fruit smoothies are very high in sugar, unless something else is added to balance out the macronutrient ratio. But we've already discussed them too, so let's move on.

Home juicing

Carrot Juice and CarrotsThere are two types of home juicing. One is when you throw everything into a blender and mulch it. The other is when you use a juicer, but this type of juicing removes fiber.

Why would you want to remove fiber when you know it's super healthy? For fruit juices, you generally wouldn't, which is the main problem with store-bought options. Fruit is sugar and fiber with a lot of great nutrients. And veggies are mainly fiber. What isn't fiber, however, is the most nutrient-rich food we eat.

Fiber limits the amount of veggies you can eat in a day, so juicing veggies to remove the fiber allows you to drink a ton of nutrients. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 75 percent of Americans don't eat the recommended daily allowance of five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables. Juicing is the easiest and most effective way to meet the recommended daily allowance.

Smiling FruitsYour blender, the other type of home juicing, doesn't deplete fiber like a juicer does. This is by far the best way to juice with fruits, and it's the origin of the fruit smoothie. While some fiber is lost, the mulching process creates a higher percentage of soluble fiber, which makes it easier for your body to utilize a fruit's phytonutrients.

The only downside to juicing is that it requires some work. You need to buy fruits and veggies and you need to juice them. Drinking them is the easiest part. For those of us who are culinarily challenged, there are places that will do this for you. Many health food stores have juice bars that use veggies as well as fruits. Unfortunately, they tend to be expensive. You can probably buy a juicer for less than you'd spend in a week at the Whole Foods juice counter.

Why not just eat whole fruit?

Kids Eating FruitsGreat question, especially considering a recent study has shown that eating whole fruit could be the main dietary difference between obese and overweight individuals. At the University of Southern California, researchers showed that the main difference between 52 normal-weight adults and 52 overweight and obese adults was the amount of fiber in their diets, which mainly came from fruit.

In the study, the normal-weight group consumed an average of 33 percent more fiber and 43 percent more carbohydrates than their overweight counterparts. This suggests that fiber, much more than following a low-carb or low-fat diet, is the key for weight control.

So what is fiber and how important is it? That's a topic for another day. Next time, we're going to stick to beverages and look at the new kid on the block, energy drinks.

Related Articles
"Nutrition 911, Part XII: Jumbo Juices and Crappuccinos"
"Nutrition 911, Part XI: Coffee, Tea, and Caffeine"
"Nutrition 911, Part X: What's in Your Water?"
"Nutrition 911, Part VIII: Pop Goes the Diet—The Worst Food in the World"

Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, May 11th, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT, in the Beachbody Chatroom!

Steve EdwardsIf 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.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.

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Test Your Vision IQ!

By Monica Gomez

May is National Healthy Vision Month. The goal of Healthy Vision Month 2009 is to promote the importance of getting eye exams. Have you gotten yours? What do you know about those baby blues, or browns, or greens? Answer "true" or "false."

  1. EyeFalse: Farsightedness is known as myopia. Farsightedness or hyperopia (not myopia, which is nearsightedness) is a condition in which distant objects are seen clearly but close ones are blurred. Hyperopia occurs when the cornea is too flat or the distance from the cornea to the retina is too short. Both hyperopia and myopia are genetic traits. The usual treatment for farsightedness is prescription glasses with convex lenses that curve outward or contact lenses that counteract the distortion created by corneas that are too flat. A convex lens moves the image of a distant object forward onto the retina, thus bringing it into proper focus. And the way to get diagnosed and treated is, you guessed it, by getting an eye exam. We just might meet the Healthy Vision Month goal!

  2. False: Conjunctivitis is not contagious. If you thought the answer was "true," please don't stand too close to anyone when your eyes are red, itchy, gritty feeling, tearing, or discharging (which forms a crust overnight that can make your eyes feel like they're pasted shut when you wake up, or try to wake up, in the morning). Conjunctivitis, popularly known as pink eye, is an inflammation or infection of the transparent membrane (conjunctiva) that lines your eyelid and part of your eyeball. The inflammation causes small blood vessels in the conjunctiva to become prominent. Causes include viruses, bacteria, allergies, chemical splashes in the eye, and foreign objects in the eye. Pink eye can be highly contagious for as long as 2 weeks! While pink eye can get better without treatment, it can be accompanied by an inflammation of the cornea, which can affect your vision. So it important to get those eye exams!

  3. True: Red-green color blindness is the most common color vision defect. People affected by red-green color blindness perceive red and green as identical colors. It is the most common type of color blindness and affects men more than women. Approximately 7 percent of the U.S. male population (or about 10 million American men) suffer from red-green color blindness compared to only 0.4 percent of women. Like hemophilia, red-green color blindness is carried on the X chromosome, which helps explain why it's more prevalent among men. Blue-yellow color blindness and total color blindness are other color vision defects, but they are less common. Here's an interesting (all right, maybe even useless) fact: during World War II, color-blind soldiers were sent on special missions because their decreased ability to see green led to an increased ability to see through or detect camouflage.

  4. True: The British air ministry spread the myth that eating carrots results in improved vision. During World War II, the British air ministry spread the myth that a carrot-rich diet helped pilots see Nazi bombers attacking at night. The secret behind the Royal Air Force's successes was not carrots. It was AI, Airborne Interception Radar. The myth was so persuasive that the English starting consuming carrots to help guide them during blackouts. Carrots are excellent sources of beta-carotene. But beware! Consuming too much beta-carotene can result in carotenemia, an excess of beta-carotene in the blood that can result in the skin having a yellow or orange coloring. While usually harmless, it can be misdiagnosed as jaundice, which also causes yellow or orange skin. You have been warned, carrot lovers. If you find yourself turning a yellow or an orange hue, you might want to cut back just a bit.

  5. Woman in SunglassesFalse: Darker sunglasses offer more protection from UV radiation than lighter sunglasses. Actually, the key is not the tint of the lens. The key is how much UV radiation the sunglasses filter out. Dark sunglasses without adequate UV protection cause your pupils to become dilated, which exposes your eyes to more harmful UV light. Clear sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection will suffice. To accompany your World War II "interesting" fact, you can share this with your eye doctor when you go for your exam. The most expensive pair of sunglasses sold on eBay® was Elvis Presley's personal Madison Square Garden sunglasses, which sold for $250,000.

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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