Health + Fitness

Kale, Grapefruit and Hazelnut Salad With Tofu CroutonsThe Complete Crash Course on Clean Eating

By Jocelyn Voo

From diet books and recipes to your Instagram feed, the clean eating trend seems to be everywhere lately. Read on to find out what it’s all about and if it’s really worth trying.
Defining Clean Eating

Maybe a new raw cafe has sprung up in your neighborhood, or you read about Katy Perry and Gwyneth Paltrow being fans. Either way, eating “clean” is gaining traction — but what does it actually mean, and how is it good for the body?

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Sweat Equity

By Jocelyn Voo
New York Post | January 16, 2012

If you’ve ever wondered what a $22,000 sports bra looks like, imagine a silk racerback number embellished with diamond-eyed gold skulls and an 18-karat solid gold zipper.

If you’ve ever wondered what kind of person would make such a product during a recession, meet Kelly Dooley, triathlete, fashion aficionado and founder of the activewear brand BodyRock Sport.

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Edited/programmed by Jocelyn Voo (January 2008 – December 2009)

Top Healthy Eating iPhone Apps

By Jocelyn Voo | April 2009

Want to know the produce in season when you’re grocery shopping, or which fast food menu item is healthiest? New healthy food iPhone apps are making eating well easier than ever. Here’s a roundup of the best healthy eating iPhone applications so you can eat for your health, even when you’re on the go.

Grocery Gadget Shopping List

Why it’s cool: Say you wrote a grocery list, but left it at home in your rush on the way to work. Or perhaps your husband is already out, but doesn’t know which ingredients you’re lacking to make dinner. With this app, both these scenarios are solved. Grocery Gadget Shopping List allows you to write a list on the Web browser and automatically sync up with your iPhone, so there’s less chance of accidentally leaving your list on the coffee table. Similarly, if you add a list on your iPhone, it automatically shows up on your husband’s iPhone, too (provided he also has the app). Bonus: This is one more way he can never “forget” to pick up tampons for you at the store.
Price: $2.99
Compatible with: iPhone, iPod Touch

What is a Detox Diet?

By Jocelyn Voo | March 31, 2009

Yo-yo dieter Oprah went on the 21-Day Cleanse back in the summer of 2008, singer Beyonce Knowles has admitted to following the Master Cleanse to shed 20 pounds for her movie role in Dreamgirls , and actress Gwyneth Paltrow sent out a newsletter this January from her lifestyle Web site,, touting a weeklong elimination diet. “I need to lose a few pounds of holiday excess,” she wrote. “Anyone else?”

Such celebrities seem to buy into so-called “detox diets” as a way to drop pounds fast. But the real premise of a true elimination diet or cleanse program (both types of detoxification diets, or “detox diets” for short) is to facilitate the removal of toxins and pollutants from your body. How? By cutting out your intake of contaminants, so you’ll gradually eliminate unhealthy substances like pesticides, smog and pollution, alcohol, and caffeine from your body.

“There are a lot of people who believe that because we live in a world with so many environmental pollutants and medications that people are taking, the liver is overstressed,” explains Mary Jane Detroyer, a New York-based registered dietitian and exercise physiologist. “The whole idea of a detox diet is to rid toxins from the body, because the liver is overloaded and needs some outside help.”

But do our bodies actually need a special diet to cleanse itself? Not really, says Dawn Jackson Blatner, an American Dietetic Association spokesperson and FITNESS advisory board member. “Our bodies have organs such as the liver, kidneys, skin, lungs, and digestive system to remove these unnecessary substances every day without the help of any special detox diet or potions to help it along.”

Compared to how many people try fad detox diets, few people actually need it. (To see if you do, Detroyer recommends getting your liver enzymes checked out by your physician. “If they’re elevated, that means your liver is stressed,” she says. Several factors can cause elevated levels, such as medication, excessive alcohol consumption, or being overweight.)

However, if you still feel inclined to embark on a detox plan, dieter beware: “For most healthy people, doing a detox for a few days won’t lead to any long-term health problems,” says Blatner. “However, for someone who has conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, digestive issues, or women who are pregnant, children or teens, and elderly, these extreme changes to their diet can mean anything from dizziness to fainting to coma since the diets affect electrolyte and blood sugar balance.”

And even if you don’t suffer from any of those conditions, taking on a long-term cleanse (ahem, Oprah) can lead to a host of other problems, such as vitamin and mineral deficiency and muscle breakdown — not really surprising when you’re doing something extreme like drinking nothing but lemon water with maple syrup and cayenne pepper for 10 days, as the Master Cleanse encourages.

Still, there may be one good side effect from starting a detox plan: “A healthy person following a short-term detox diet may get a bit of a mental jump start into eating healthier and exercising for the rest of the year,” Blatner concedes.

So which detox diet could be right for you? FITNESS took a hard look at a few popular detox diets, assessing each one based on the nutritional value, liver-cleansing value, and their ability to help you start a long-term healthy eating habit. Read on for our findings.

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Sex Positions That Double as Exercise

By Jocelyn Voo | February 14, 2009

No matter how much your partner pleads, you can’t substitute time in the sack for time on the treadmill. However, certain sex positions do work a woman’s muscle groups — some so much, in fact, that you might not be able to make it to the gym the next day.


In a way, the missionary position is the physical equivalent of the old “I’m busy washing my hair” excuse — it’s the brush-off used when you’re lazy, tired, or just not that interested. But despite being one of the most passive contortions for a woman, man-on-top can still provide a pretty good workout.

“It depends on how enthusiastic you are about it, but missionary can be great for the core muscles,” says Stacy Berman, a New York City-based certified fitness trainer and founder of Stacy’s Boot Camp. “If your partner is thrusting toward you, you want to have an equal and opposite thrust back, and that requires a lot of core strength. It actually will start burning.”

Patti Britton, author of The Art of Sex Coaching and immediate past president of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists, agrees that you’ll definitely be feeling it in your abs. “You can strengthen your core by focusing on pelvic lifting using your core, not your lower back. That’s where women tend to get stuck — they tend to rely on their lower back to give them propulsion.” (The risk of which isn’t a joke, either. Worst-case scenario, you could throw out your back or sustain some other injury — not exactly a bedroom turn-on.)

Missionary position can also provide a good butt workout. “The more she does buttock squeezes, the more she could accentuate her riding toward him to give herself a good glute workout,” Britton says.

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America’s 10 Unhealthiest Presidents

By Jocelyn Voo | January 14, 2009

President Barack Obama knows a thing or two about fitness. In December, the Washington Post reported that he’d hit the gym for at least 48 days in a row, clocking at least 90 minutes each time. Photographers have snapped him playing golf in Hawaii on Christmas Eve, doing impromptu pull-ups right before giving a speech in Missoula, Montana, on the election trail, and playing a game of pick-up basketball (a sport he’s played since he was a kid) with staff and Secret Service agents on Election Day.

Considering his well-documented gym habits and disciplined diet, the media has heralded Obama as the new face of presidential health. Of course, he isn’t perfect — the guy has been a longtime smoker (although he has resolved to quit, and has often been seen chewing Nicorette), occasionally chows down on cheeseburgers, has admitted to trying marijuana and cocaine as a teenager, and there’s a history of cancer in his family. Still, his longtime physician issued a statement in 2008 that Obama is in “excellent health,” citing his lean body mass, and normal cholesterol, blood pressure, and EKG levels.

But not all American presidents have been model specimens of health. Some of them far from it, in fact. Disease, injury, and destructive habits have run rampant in the 43 commanders-in-chief — but while we can’t totally fault George Washington for contracting malaria or smallpox (it was the 1700s, after all), we also can’t really condone John Adams’ habit of having bread and beer for breakfast at age 15.

Here, the 10 least healthy presidents in American history.

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The Best Natural Snacks

Second only to food that’s plucked from the ground, these snacks are made with natural ingredients, with no preservatives, artificial ingredients, or additives. Whether you’re craving sweet or salty, these natural snacks will hit the spot.

Kashi Autumn Wheat

Organic whole-grain wheat, organic evaporated cane juice, natural flavor. Those are the only three ingredients in Kashi’s Autumn Wheat cereal. Simple formula, but think shredded wheat on steroids. It’s USDA certified organic, low fat, cholesterol and sodium free, and provides a quarter of your daily fiber needs per cup. Plus, the bite-size biscuits actually taste really, really good — liked by both adults and 2-year-olds (seriously). And for a breakfast cereal, there’s no more rigorous taste test than that.

Nutrition: (1 cup): 190 calories, 1g fat, 45g carbohydrates, 0g sodium, 6g fiber, 5g protein

Price: $3.50 for a 17.5-ounce box

Where to buy: Major retailers, including Whole Foods, Target, Publix, and Wegmans. Click here to search for a store near you.

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Healthy Recipes for Seasonal Fall and Winter Foods

Eating seasonally and locally are two great ways to stretch your food budget and be environmentally friendly. Here, we’ve compiled several healthy recipes using fall and winter ingredients.


Health benefits: Squash is high in vitamins A and C, which aid your body’s metabolic functioning and help ward off chronic illnesses. However, some winter varieties, like butternut squash, contain more sugar than others, such as acorn and spaghetti squashes, so be knowledgeable about which kind you’re buying if you’re watching your calorie count.

Nutrition: Acorn squash (1 cup, raw): 56 calories, 0.1g fat, 14.6g carbohydrates, 2.1g fiber, 1.1g protein. Butternut squash (1 cup, raw): 63 calories, 0.1g fat, 16.4g carbohydrates, 2.8g fiber, 1.4g protein

Recipes to try:

Quick-Roasted Acorn Squash

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

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How to Build a Superhuman Athlete

By Jocelyn Voo | July 2008

No matter what their game, professional athletes make a job of going faster, further and longer, setting world records inch-by-inch, second-by-second. But stripped away from artificial enhancements like steroids, how do these power-machines differ from the everyday athlete — or the average Jill, for that matter? Are they just born with innate talent, or is it all learned ability — and, if that’s the case, are these preternatural skills something we can all develop?

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Three Cheers for Chocolate

By Jocelyn Voo | November 2007

It turns out there’s even more to love about one of the most decadent, satisfying foods on the planet. We’re talking about chocolate: Heavenly sweet treat, coveted comfort food, and former diet disaster. But now? New studies are proving that chocolate does, in fact, have a place in the health-conscious kitchen.

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The Health Benefits of Alcohol

By Jocelyn Voo | November 2007

Drinking moderate amounts of any kind of alcohol — be it beer, wine, or hard liquor — will raise your good HDL cholesterol levels, says Lisa Young, adjunct professor of nutrition at New York University and author of The Portion Teller Plan . “That’s a really big benefit to the people who do have cholesterol problems because it is hard to elevate your good cholesterol,” she says.

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Drink to Your Health: The Heart-Healthy Benefits of Wine

By Jocelyn Voo | November 2007

When making wine, “you’re basically converting sugar to alcohol,” says Rodney Schatz, a third-generation grape farmer and chairman of the California Association of Winegrape Growers. To make red wine, red grapes are harvested at a certain Brix level, which indicates the percentage of sugar in the grape. Grapes are then crushed and left to ferment in a tank with added yeasts. To extract the desired tannins, colors, and flavors, temperature is controlled and the speed of fermentation is manipulated as juice is pumped over the skins.

White winemaking applies the same basic process as that of red wine, except the grape skins are removed before fermentation. “You’re not looking for flavor from the skin, as you are with the red,” explains Schatz. “You’re looking for more flavor from the meat of the grape.”

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Jennifer Rocha, Paramedic (and Cheesecake Baker)

By Jocelyn Voo | June 2007

Balancing married life with 12-hour shifts as a paramedic is no easy task, but Jennifer Rocha, 26, maintains a calm and steady presence under pressure. Despite irregular work hours, the 5-foot-10, 155-pound Rocha fits in exercise by using an elliptical machine and free weights in her Lincolnton, North Carolina, home. And her commitment to portion control and natural foods does more than help Rocha maintain a trim frame; her fitness keeps her effective at a physical job that requires lifting heavy patients onto gurneys and lugging 40-pound equipment bags.

Staying healthy and strong may help Rocha do her job, but she sees her job as a way to stay healthy: “The people that I pick up on the ambulance have problems because of their lifestyle, so in that sense, it’s easy to stay motivated,” Rocha says. “I see very sick people who have high blood pressure, heart problems, high cholesterol. I don’t want to be like that when I’m 50.”

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9 Warning Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore

By Jocelyn Voo
Mt. Sinai School of Medicine “Focus on Healthy Aging” newsletter | March 2007

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Creaking joints, a sore neck, the occasional bout of insomnia—just natural signs of wear and tear as you age, right? Not necessarily. For example, nighttime tossing and turning can indicate a need to adjust your sleep habits to the natural sleep changes that occur with aging, or it could reflect a medication issue, poor sleep hygiene, obstructive sleep apnea, or even depression. Discussing any symptom you’re experiencing with your doctor is the crucial first line of defense in determining its cause.

“Any new symptom is worth an evaluation,” says Audrey Chun, MD, assistant professor of geriatrics and adult development and medical director of the Coffey Geriatrics Practice at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. “Some symptoms may be part of normal aging, but they can also be warning signs of more serious illness and should not be ignored.”

Although you should first run most symptoms by your general practitioner, more severe warning signs such as new shortness of breath, sudden weakness or slurred speech, chest pain, and heart palpitations require immediate attention, Dr. Chun says. Here are nine warning signs that you need to take seriously, and what you should do if you experience them:

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Outlaws of the Sporting World: Roller Derby Girls

By Jocelyn Voo
Curve magazine | October 2006

No one can deny that roller derby girls are tough. Broken bones and bruises the size of ham hocks are expected in the sport, and judging by the ferocity which with players jam, block and generally manhandle their opponents in the rink, these girls are out for blood. As Kasey Bomber, co-captain of Los Angeles’ Trust Fund Terrors, puts it, “You will get hit, you will get hurt. A girl has to accept that almost welcome it if she wants to succeed here. This isn’t a Yahtzee tournament.”

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Understanding Autism: Information, Resources and Support

By Jocelyn Voo
Ladies’ Home Journal online | July 2006

With 1.5 million Americans already affected, autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the United States at 10 to 17 percent each year. Find out more about the causes, diagnosis, treatment, and where to get help.

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