Heroes of Newerth

8 09 2010

Last night, a friend mentioned to me that he had been playing Heroes of Newerth over the past few weeks and has really come to enjoy it.  I respect his opinion in the gamingsphere, and since I have never heard of it, I looked it up on youtube.  While watching the first gameplay video I clicked on, my initial thoughts were “wow, this looks like Starcraft 2.”  Which to be honest, with the detailed graphics and overhead camera, it does.  But as I looked into reviews and guides, the gameplay appears to be almost exactly that of Defense of the Ancients.  I have no experience with DotA, but I have heard of it as it has a long standing reputation in the RTS world.

I think I will go pick up a copy of HoN this weekend.  It runs for $30, and online play is free, so the price is really very reasonable.  From what I’ve heard, the community is very unforgiving of mistakes, so I’m sure I will make plenty of “friends” my first week of playing.  Have you guys played Heroes of Newerth?  What did you think?





Nike releases an iPhone app for runners

7 09 2010

I’ll start by saying that I’m not the biggest fan of Apple, Steve Jobs, or the iPhone.  But I realize that there are many out there who live and die by their Apple products, and especially by their iPhone, so this post is for you.  Look at how selfless I can be ;)

Nike released an iPhone app yesterday that was made specifically for runners.  The app will only set you back $1.99 and is loaded with features that will prove useful to those who enjoy a frequent jog through the park, around the block, or on the treadmill.  It works by pulling information from the iPhone’s accelerometer and GPS to give the user accurate and and useful information to help runners stay fit and keep motivated.

The app allows runners to map out runs and track their progress.  It will work both indoors and outdoors, with or without a GPS signal, free range or treadmill.  When running a mapped route, the runner can see a breakdown of their pace, distance, time, and calories burned.  There is also a “Challenge Me” mode which will push runners to go greater distances, longer times, and quicker paces than previous runs.

If you are an iPhone user who is interested in the app, it can be found here (iTunes link).  There is no word on whether or not an Android version of the app is in development.  But if it is, my $2 is theirs!





Startling facts about Childhood Obesity

6 09 2010

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Most of us probably know that there is a growing problem in our country today with childhood obesity.  But how serious of a problem can it be?  Well, turns out that it is more serious than you would think.

I read an article today published by the New York Times that featured a study of childhood obesity within the city of New York.  Of the 637,000 children from kindergarten to eighth grade who were part of the study, 40% were either obese or overweight.  Nearly half!

Parents should use more caution when preparing meals for their children.  I understand that switching to a healthy meal plan involves time, money, and dedication, but when looking at the risks of childhood obesity and the lifelong struggles it can cause for children, the sacrifices are definitely worth it.

Childhood obesity can result in high blood pressure, high cholesterol, bone and joint issues, sleep apnea, asthma, diabetes, and poor self-esteem in children.  As obese children grow into obese adults, they will face additional health risks like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, osteoarthritis, and various types of cancer.

If we want a healthy future for our country, we need to take an active role, as parents and as adults, in fighting the growing concern of childhood obesity.  Teach your children the benefits of living healthy.  Spend time outside with them playing sports, riding bikes, fishing, or anything else that will make exercising fun for them and rewarding for you as well.  Leading by example is very important.  The old “do as I say, not as I do” attitude simply will not be enough to instill a healthy lifestyle for your family or yourself.





Quick and easy tips for healthy living

6 09 2010

So you want to experience the benefits of being healthy.  A healthy lifestyle leads to having more natural energy, getting sick less, being proud of your appearance, and just feeling better in general. The problem is, there are only 24 hours in a day, and there are other things to worry about.   A family to provide for, bills to pay, friends to see, and interests to catch up on.  How can you possibly fit another commitment, a lifelong one for that matter, into your schedule?

Maybe you’ve tried to live a healthier lifestyle at times in the past, but your attempts to resist the pizza, the beer, and the tube were all futile.  Perhaps you worked out for a few weeks, and when the results weren’t immediately evident, you went back to the comfort of your lazy boy recliner.

Sometimes taking on an overwhelming change in lifestyle can doom you for failure.  Sometimes its the small things that will make the biggest impact in the end.  Here are a few small changes you can make to your everyday lifestyle that will make a lasting impact on your health and your overall quality of life.

Prepare yourself mentally. Having the right mindset is half the battle.  Before you start your journey toward a healthy lifestyle, take a day or so and ask yourself why do you want to pursue a healthier future?  Are the sacrifices worth the gains?  (hint: they are!)

Lose the sodas. Sodas are one of the leading contributors to obesity in our country today.  Soda is extremely high in sugar and calories, has absolutely no nutritional value, is a large contributor to tooth decay, leads to caffeine dependency, weakens bone strength, and highly contributes to weight gain.  The diet alternative is of no more nutritional value, either.  Drinkers of diet soda are still vulnerable to the acidic effects of soda.

Meditate for 5 minutes a day. Meditation is widely associated with weirdos and hipsters, but it would be foolish to ignore the benefits that even a small amount of it offers.  Meditation is great for stress relief, helps with relaxation, increases blood flow and reduces the heart rate, reduces anxiety, decreases muscle tension, and enhances the immune system.  You don’t have to be sitting cross-legged on the floor to meditate effectively.  Just straighten your spine, keep the crown of your head straight up, close your eyes, and focus on breathing slowly and steadily.  If meditation interests you, the internet is crammed full of useful information on how to get your feet wet.

Floss daily. Flossing on a regular basis helps decrease your risk of gum disease.  Some research has linked chronic gum disease to stroke, heart disease, erectile dysfunction, and low birth weight in newborns.

Swap the elevator for the stairs. Choosing the stairs over the elevator on a daily basis will result in reduced blood-sugar levels, which can help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  Also, climbing stairs burns seven times the number of calories expended standing inactive in an elevator.

Drink skim milk instead of whole. Skim milk has 60 fewer calories, 7.5g less fat, and more calcium than whole milk, making it much better for weight loss.  If you dislike the taste of skim milk, slowly work your way down from whole milk.  Go from whole to 2% for a week, then down to 1% for a week, and eventually to skim.  Just like anything else, it will take getting used to, but you will get used to it.  I now prefer the taste of skim milk to whole.

Stop eating 3 hours before bedtime. This tip is a bit of a two-way street.  Eating and snacking before bed is not good for you unless you burn at least 600-700 calories a day and your metabolism is amped enough to burn the calories during your sleep.  If your metabolism is ready to tackle late night eating, a protein shake just before bed can actually be healthy for you.  So take this step according to your current amount of physical activity.

Sleep better. It is recommended to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night.  Sleep is actually a connection between your mind and body, and both aspects can suffer from a lack of sleep. Unhealthy sleeping habits can also make you prone to high blood pressure, diabetes, and a lower metabolic rate.

Swap butter for cholesterol free butter. Butter Buds is my weapon of choice here.  There is very little difference in taste, and Butter Buds has no fat and only 5 calories per serving.

Of course there are many other simple and effective ways to live a healthy lifestyle, but these are just some of the things that can be done with a minimal amount of time, effort, and expense.  If you are wanting to get on track to a healthy future, but don’t know how or when is best, these tips are a good place to start.  No more excuses!





Coffee vs. Tea – Health Benefits

5 09 2010

The Coffee vs. Tea debate is a widely disputed one.  Both have been enjoyed around the world for centuries and many consider one or the other to be a vital part of their daily routine.

Tea was discovered by the ancient Chinese ruler Shen Nong, when a fateful leaf fell into his boiling water.

The history of coffee began much later and is believed to have been first cultivated in Arabia near the Red Sea in 674 A.D. The story of Coffee dates back to the 1400s, when a Yemeni shepherd named Kaldi noticed that his sheep began to act unusually frisky after eating berries from an unfamiliar plant. Curious, Kaldi picked one and popped it into his mouth. Within a few minutes, he was as hyperactive as a kid. He told of his discovery of this stimulator to scholars who used it to keep awake, and then someone made a “tea” out of it (“tea” out of coffee fruits without the bean is still known in Yemen and has a similar, but milder effect). The story says that then one day someone dropped a bean into the fire by accident, and thus coffe was born. Mocha, an old yemeni port, was the first and for a long time the only place to export coffee, hence the name “Mocca Coffee”.   – diffen.com

Tea has been around for ages, but coffee is probably the most popular choice in America today.  So which is more beneficial to our health?  Well, lets take a look at the pros and cons of each:

Coffee:

+Pros

  1. Great source of energy through caffeine
  2. Provides antioxidants helping regulate blood sugar
  3. Provides antioxidants reducing the risk of diabetes
  4. Provides relief of asthma
  5. Lessens risk of Parkinson’s by providing dopamine to the brain
  6. Helps decrease the formation of gallstones

-Cons

  1. Increases heart risk when taken in excess
  2. Increases cholesterol
  3. Causes sleep problems
  4. Irritability
  5. Anxiousness
  6. Most of the benefits are acquired when consumed black, without creamer or sugar
  7. Discolors and stains teeth

Tea:

+Pros

  1. Provides more antioxidants than coffee
  2. Helps fight numerous types of cancer
  3. Reduces risk for heart diseases
  4. Helps fight Alzheimer’s
  5. Helps fight osteoporosis
  6. Helps to relax blood vessels
  7. Reduces cholesterol levels
  8. Inhibits formation of blood clots
  9. Speeds up metabolism

-Cons

  1. Can cause kidney stones when taken in excess
  2. Tea leaves contain fluoride

When comparing the pros and cons of the two, Tea is obviously the healthier choice.  Coffee provides it’s fair share of benefits but is best taken in moderation.  Too much and you risk multiple health issues.  Tea, on the other hand, provides more benefits and has fewer health risks than coffee.  So the next time in the coffee shop, when the option arises, opt for the Tea!





Angry Birds Lite Beta for Android – First Impressions

4 09 2010

Angry Birds Lite Beta, the highly anticipated game on the Android platform, was released into the Android Marketplace today.  For those who have not heard of the game before, it was initially released on the iPhone in December 2009 and quickly became one of the most popular games available in the iTunes appstore.  The objective is to play as a flock of birds who have lost their beloved eggs to a heathen group of pigs.  Each level has the pigs hiding within different structures and buildings, and the objective is to slingshot your fellow flock members as weapons to try and knock over the structures, killing the pigs.  When all of the evil pigs are either directly hit, or killed by a falling building, the next level is unlocked.

  • GameplayThe gameplay here is simple and addictive.  Simply pull back on the slingshot with your finger, adjust your trajectory to the appropriate level, and let the bird fly.  You can pinch to zoom in or out for a better field of view.
  • GraphicsThe graphics here are great, and the frame rates are smooth.  Although there are some pauses and slight delays between levels, they hardly interfere with the gameplay.
  • Game depthThe beta version has 15 levels for your pleasure.  I went through all 15 in about an hours time, but until the full version is released, I will be going back and aiming to beat high scores.  This game is just that fun to play.  When the full version arrives on the market for download, I’m sure that many, MANY more levels will be available.
  • Overall ImpressionsOn arrival, the full version of this game will almost definitely take the crown as the best game in the Android Market.  Everything about this game is fun, even down to the sounds.  The beta version has a few issues with compatibility across all Android versions (I had to uninstall and reinstall to get it running), but I would expect this to be resolved before a full launch.  Even though it is a beta, it will provide hours of enjoyment for the waiting room or slow day at work.
  • VerdictRecommended





5 simple ways to boost your metabolism

4 09 2010

Our metabolic rate determines how quickly our body breaks down nutrients from the foods we eat.  Keeping a constant metabolic rate is vital to losing weight and developing healthy eating habits.  Letting our metabolism slow down will cause our bodies to enter a starvation mode and store fat for fuel, resulting in weight gain and various other health issues.  With a healthy metabolic rate we burn calories all throughout the day, even when we are not doing anything.  Even when we are sleeping!  So how can we boost our metabolism to burn more calories? Here are some very simple suggestions that anyone can find time for:

  1. Eat throughout the day. Think of a campfire. The longer you wait before adding wood to the fire, the smaller the flame gets.  Our metabolism works in the same way.  Eat about 5-6 meals a day, spaced out by about 2-3 hours.  This will keep your body constantly digesting food, and your metabolism constantly working.
  2. Incorporate lean protein into every meal. Our bodies have to work harder to burn protein than it does to burn fat or carbs, so eating protein rich meals results in more calories burned.  It is important that the protein is lean, though!  Some examples of lean protein are chicken breast, turkey breast, lean red meat, nonfat yogurt, nonfat cottage cheese, and egg whites.  Protein supplements, such as whey protein powder, is a quick and easy way of adding more protein to an everyday diet.
  3. Drink more water. Drinking six to eight 8oz glasses of water a day will keep our metabolism at a healthy rate.  Over 70% of our body functions take place in water, and not intaking enough water can cause a slow down of all of our body’s systems, including our metabolism.
  4. Exercise daily. When we exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, our metabolic rate is increased for the following 24 hours.  On top of this, adding resistance training two to three days a week will build muscle and burn more fat.  Start taking the stairs instead of the elevator.  Take the dog for a walk (this will also result in a better behaved pet!).  Throw the football with the kids or a buddy.  Every little bit helps.  Make it fun!
  5. Add some spice.  Capsaicin, the active component in chili peppers, can boost your metabolism, enhance the feeling of fullness, and fight hunger as well. Some studies have shown that one spoon full of chopped red/green chili pepper (or 30mg of Capsaicin) can temporarily spike your metabolism as much as 23%!  Buy a shaker of red pepper flakes and sprinkle away!

Now go forth and increase thy metabolic rate!








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