Airbags for Cyclists

helmet

Living in NYC, I see a ton of cyclists biking to work every morning, and home again every night. Since the launch of citibike, I have noticed even more. I see bikers do lots of risky things, like go the wrong way down one way streets, text while biking, and swerve in and out of traffic, but the most dangerous thing? Most of them don’t have helmets on.  I’m too scared to ride with traffic in a big city, so I only bike on the paths closed to car traffic, and I know that when I do that I always feel pretty nerdy putting on a helmet. It’s not the cutest look, and it really messes up your hair. But it seems pretty risky to go without one when there are so many hazards (I’m talking cab doors here) that can pop out of the crosswalk, into your bike lane, and toss you from your bicycle. If we’re being serious here, messed up hair is no good reason to skip it – my hair gets pretty tousled by the wind even when I walk to work sans helmet. That’s what purse sized fold-up brushes are for.

Now (in Europe at least), there is a solution for the vain cyclist that will protect the coif and the noggin in case of an accident. It’s called the Hövding device, and it’s an inflatable nylon collar that bikers can wear inconspicuously. It only pops open when it senses an accident, similar to the air bags in your car (the future is here, guys!). The device has been in development since 2005, and has tested simulations of all types of accidents from icy roads to being hit by a vehicle. When the accident occurs a tiny gas canister at the back of the collar pops the collar open into a full-coverage helmet in milliseconds. It even stays inflated for several seconds before deflating to cushion any additional impacts. It retails online for 399 euros (about $536), and is available in several colors and designs to make the collar even more fashionable. More expensive than your average helmet? Sure, but can you really put a price on staying safe, feeling cool, and having good hair? Currently it’s only available in Europe, so now you know what to buy on a souvenir on your next vacation!

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Choose Your Own Adventure – Cereal Style

cereal

I am not a big cereal person. Ever since my mom told me I couldn’t eat Fruity Pebbles or Corn Pops because they were too unhealthy for breakfast, I kind of gave up the cereal game. I did develop quite a fondness for granola, but abandoned that too, when I found that most of it was loaded with sugar and waaaaay too many raisins for my taste. And, it left me hungry after a couple hours. The closest I come to cereal for breakfast is plain oatmeal that I mix with peanut butter, shaved coconut, chopped nuts, maybe a little jelly, or really anything I have in my pantry that seems good in combination. I prefer this breakfast because I can choose what, and how much I add in. Now there’s a website that will let you do just that, with your cold cereal options.

It’s called MixMyOwn, and it lets you create your own cereal blend. You can choose from 8 different bases ranging from flakes to grains, or mueseli. There are low sugar and gluten free options – removing two of the most common obstacles to good, healthy cereal. Then after you select the base, you can add as many fruits, nuts and seeds  as you like, choosing anything from macadamia nuts and chia seeds to dried mulberries and blackberries. You can even add quinoa or kamut puffs for an extra crunch. Then if that’s a little too healthy for you, you can choose to throw in some candies. Or if it’s not healthy enough, add some nutrition enhancing powders.

The boxes come in 12oz or 16oz sizes, and are delivered directly to your door. I love the concept because it’s like make your own trail mix. You can choose your own combinations, and avoid too much sugar or an overload of the things you don’t like. And if you’re not feeling creative, you can select their healthy mix of the month sent to you each month or view popular pre-mixes for ideas on what to include. Genius!

Honey – a Natural Neosporin

honey

When I have a cold, I often reach for the honey in my cabinet. While I am often  adding it to my tea with lemon to soothe an irritated throat, I also swallow a spoonful of the stuff before I go to bed as a cough suppressant. Studies have found that it’s just as effective as over-the-counter remedies containing dextromethorphan, and I am much more likely to have it in the cabinet. Now it seems that honey is good for more than just that. New research has found  that honey, particularly a type made in New Zealand has the ability to weaken bacteria, particularly when it is applied directly to a wound as a topical treatment. When bacteria flourish, they communicate with a behavior called quorum sensing. Honey works to disable this ability with it’s antibacterial properties, allowing you to more effectively fight infection. While the effect isn’t believed to be as strong when you ingest it, it seems to be emerging as a natural Neosporin for topical treatment.

Pop Rocks for Fresh Breath

32

I don’t know about you, but I loved pop rocks (despite all of the urban legends). I forgot quite how much until I was at a party where the hostess dipped pretzel rods in chocolate, then the candies for a snack. After eating 5 in a row, I couldn’t get enough of the childhood treat – the fun little sizzle and crackle while you chewed. And now I just read that 32 Oral Care is using a similar crystal candy to freshen breath. That’s a whole lot more fun that chomping on another piece of gum, amirite?

Basically how they work is you tear open a pack, and pour them into your mouth (much as you would with pop rocks), then move them around with your tongue while they pop open zinc and IsoVoxy to kill bad-breath bacteria and clean your teeth. They come in cinnamon for all you Big Red fans, spearmint, peppermint, honey mint, and lemon mint. While they’re a bit pricier than my Orbitz multipack habit, I can’t wait to try them out!

When You’re Tired, Take a Break

puppyI am a planner, a doer, a socializer, and I live in NYC –a city where you can arguably never run out of things to do, people to see, or new stuff to try. That combination, while pretty wonderful most of the time, can get pretty darn exhausting at others. Sometimes, after months of feeling like a weekend without days and nights full of activities is a failure, I am run  down, tired out, and weary of everything I typically enjoy. In moments like these, I wonder. Should I really live here? Is this really what I want?

The answer is always yes.

But at times, doing the things I like can weigh me down. They stop being fun. And after being here for just over ten years, I’ve learned – when you’re tired, take a break. If it’s going out, hitting the gym, working long hours that’s sapping your stamina just stop. Stop it right away. Even cancel something this instant if you have to- not permanently, but just long enough to rejuventate. If it’s the city’s pace that’s wearing you thin, head to the country. If it’s too many girls nights, try staying in and painting your nails. If it’s work, get your assistant to pick up the slack. When you start to miss it (and you know you will), that’s a pretty good sign you’re ready to pick things back up where you left off. Usually being tired and frustrated is not a sign that your tastes have changed, just an indicator that you might be indulging in too much of a good thing, and you’re plum tuckered out.

The Spotlight’s on Unnecessary Chemicals in Fast Food

subway

The petition against Subway to remove the chemical azodicarbonamide from their breads gave rise to some pretty funny social media jokes (like how now we all know where that unique subway bread scent comes from). And it’s definitely a good thing that this major chain is making a move to go more natural, and less chemical with it’s food products, even if it was under major public pressure. It made me pretty happy I have never been a fan of their sandwiches when I read the coverage. But, the same chemical is found in many products on other fast food restaurants menus, including:

  • McDonald’s: regular bun, bakery style bun, bagel and English muffin, Big Mac bun and sesame seed bun.
  • Burger King: specialty buns, artisan-style bun, sesame seed bun, croissant, English muffin, home-style Caesar croutons and French toast sticks.
  • Wendy’s: bagel, premium toasted bun, sandwich bun and panini bread
  • Arby’s: croissant, French toast sticks, harvest wheat bun, honey wheat bread, marble rye bread, mini bun, onion bread and sesame seed bun
  • Jack in the Box: bakery style bun, jumbo bun, croissant, grilled sourdough bread and regular bun
  • Chick-fil-A: chargrilled chicken sandwich, chicken salad sandwich, and chargrilled chicken club sandwich
  • Dunkin’ Donuts: Danish, Croissant, and Texas Toast.

These other chains have not indicated an intention to remove the ingredient from their products, with the exception of Starbucks, which has already started a transition away from baked goods containing the chemical. So how concerned should you be? While it seems better to avoid it, there is no need to panic if you’ve been eating $5 foot longs for lunch every day. Europe and Australia ban the use of the ingredient, but it is actually FDA approved for use in controlled amounts. It has had bad effects in animal studies. It increases the level of urethane, a carcinogen, in bread when baked, but seems most harmful in its industrial form for workers exposed to it in high levels. The ingredient may not be desirable, but it is not so dangerous that it has been poisoning customers. Yet it is something to think about next time you find yourself looking for a quick bite. Is it really worth taking in all of those unnecessary chemicals from processed foods, or just waiting until you get home to make yourself a sandwich?

The Pro’s (and 1 Con) of Women’s Only Gyms

gymOver the past couple days, I have noticed several posts about women’s only gyms (here and here and here  for example!). They note that there’s a common perception that women’s only gyms are for the older ladies, or a relic from the Richard Simmon’s jazzercise era. While I don’t necessary understand why either of these would be negatives (I mean, Richard Simmon’s is amazing, amirite?), the articles note an upswing in the popularity of exclusively female gyms, and ask readers if they would join one. For me, the answer is yes. I am a member of a ladies-only gym, and I love it. While I do miss being able to oogle cute boys from there treadmill, there are many many more things that I enjoy.

I don’t have to compete with grunting meat heads for the free weights. Instead of racks on racks of bench press equipment, there are big bins of free weights, weighted balls, and body bars – all things geared toward lady-fitness. When I take a Zumba class, I don’t have to worry that my crazy moves and tattered college tees aren’t impressing the potential boyfriends in the row behind me and I haven’t had anyone creepily hit on me while I’m stretching yet. And if people think that all-girls classes are easier, I can say from personal experience that they are not. Last time I went to boot camp, I almost threw up from all of the burpees, pushups, and planks the instructor called out. I don’t remember that ever happening at my coed classes. Then there’s the spirit of team work that reminds me of my days playing high school soccer. People actually cheer during the group classes (and even though this gets on my nerves sometimes), it’s kind of nice to be with a bunch of girls acting like girls while getting fit.