Tag Archives: Health

Wild Divine Review

Are you stressed out or feel that there is not enough time in the day to get all of your must do’s completed? If you can relate to this, you’ll be happy to know that you are not alone. The complexity of our lives and the roles that we play can be demanding to say the least. There is a company that provides a solution to helping both children (8+) and adults achieve better emotional balance and relaxation, improved self-control, as well as increased focus and mental sharpness. The company is called Wild Divine. Over the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to test out several of their software products; The Journey to Wild Divine: The Passage, Deepak Chopra’s Secrets of Meditation, and their latest offering, Mindfulness Academy. All of these programs work in conjunction with Wild Divine’s proprietary iom Active Feedback Hardware. The iom consists of three individual finger sensors that are worn on the index, middle, and ring fingers of the hand not controlling the mouse. The sensor on the middle finger measures heart rate while the other two sensors measure skin conductance. The iom connects directly via usb cable to your PC or Mac. When I used the iom, I found that the sensor pads fit comfortably and were easy to slip on and off my fingers. The feedback from the iom is used to control each of the programs by translating your physical and mental responses into visual feedback that you can alter and control while using each of the programs. Each of the programs that I tried were very different in their look and feel, however, the core of each was similar in that their main focus allowed me to use meditation along with breathing and guided relaxation to achieve a greater sense of peace, balance as well as better self-control. In addition, each program combined technology and a gaming experience with beautiful graphics and relaxing music and soothing sounds. Here is a breakdown of each of the programs that I tried.

The Journey to Wild Divine: The Passage has a very Eastern philosophical feel to it.  As you begin the program, you move through enchanting and mystical landscapes with beautiful graphics while wise mentors guide you through a variety of breathing and meditation skills. As you explore the different three-dimensional environments, there are over 40 different events to keep your experience ever changing. Many of the events are divided between energy events and heart events.  The energy events allow you to practice raising and lowering your energy levels by increasing your excitement or becoming calm and meditative.  The heart events allow you to engage in controlled breathing practice. You can choose between two different modes: Guided Activity Mode, where you can individually select various biofeedback events or you can participate in The Passage, which is the full journey mode. Throughout my interactive travels I was able to open doors with meditation, use my laughter to juggle balls, and build stairways using only my breath. It was possible to continually check my whereabouts on the map by pressing the ‘m’ key, except during events.  I was able to progress through the program based solely on my thoughts, feelings and breathing.  While you are interacting with the software you are also concurrently improving your mind body connection. The program is adjustable and will grow with you as you can change the difficulty of the biofeedback activities on the systems page of the program. There you can choose between beginner, apprentice or master biofeedback levels. The pace of The Passage was very slow and relaxing.  For some, this pace will be very comfortable, for others the flow of the program may move too slowly. On a technical front, my installation went smoothly; however, please note that while this software is compatible with your PC using XP, Vista or 7, it is also compatible with Mac OSX Leopard (not Lion).

Deepak Chopra’s Secrets of Meditation offers the unique opportunity to be coached and guided through a series of meditation experiences offered with soothing sounds in the beautifully stunning Wild Divine virtual environment led by Deepak, himself. In this immersive program, you will discover how to meditate and improve your overall ability to get into deeper meditative states more quickly due to the instant feedback received from the iom device. Throughout the program, there is a built in graphic of a blue butterfly that has an adjustable speed that aids as a breathing cue to assist you in timing your inhalation and exhalation that I found to be extremely useful. There have been times over this past when while not using the software I had the image of the blue butterfly’s wings expanding and collapsing and found that it was a great reminder to be aware of by breath.

The program is divided into Guided Practice and Self Exploration sections. Both sections feature exercises that teach you how to relax and more fully enjoy the benefits of improved meditation. In the Guided Practice, you follow 10 different steps that include:

1.    The Meditative Mind

2.    Re-patterning The Brain

3.    Focus On The Present

4.    Mantras

5.    Clearing Obstacles

6.    Awareness of True Self

7.    Setting Intentions

8.    Self Transformation

9.    Connect With Others

10. Commitment To Daily Practice

Perhaps you are interested in practicing a particular skill, the Self-Exploration mode allows you to select a category and then choose a particular lesson to focus on. The 4 topics to choose from are:

1.    Focus

2.    Relaxation

3.    Connectedness

4.    Balance

The overall program contains 10 active feedback practice events, 20 guided practices featuring Deepak Chopra, and 10 inspirations also led by Deepak. The software also has a built in journal to allow you to track your progress, thoughts or goals. The interface of the program was user friendly and easy to operate. I also really liked the fact that you could choose to spend a great deal of time or mere minutes within an activity or lesson and receive instant noticeable benefits. This software is compatible with Mac OSX Lion as well as your PC using XP, Vista or 7.

The latest offering from Wild Divine is Mindfulness Academy. Given my busy schedule and hectic life this was by far my favorite program as it drilled down to the basics quickly and had a clean looking design that was simple to use. It is designed to look like a day planner, something that I use every day, so perhaps that is why I felt so comfortable with it. The areas of this program are divided into the 6 steps for balanced living.  These steps are:

1.    Lifestyle Goals: Define Success

2.    Affirmation Balloons: A Positive Mindset

3.    Balance: Balance Your Life

4.    Wellness Meter: Recover & Recharge

5.    Everyday Mindfulness: Cultivate Mindfulness

6.    Reaching Success: Achieve Success

I also really liked the ability to customize each session’s difficulty level. The session settings tab also allows the user to set the breathing cue, background music, and voiceover controls.  In addition, you can visually verify that the iom device is working properly with regards to receiving energy and heat sensor input. You can also create your own customized affirmations that will enable you to pinpoint exactly what you want out of life and what you give to others. In addition, you can also adjust your own personal breathing cycle so that you get the best results possible.  If you are new to meditation, this software is ideal. It truly allows the user to gain better awareness and control over your emotions, breathing, and overall concentration. This software is compatible with Mac OSX Lion as well as your PC using XP, Vista or 7.

If you are curious about meditation or are looking for a way to improve stress control or increase your overall life balance toolbox, Wild Divine has a program tailor made for you. You can learn more about Wild Divine here. (Review written by Meredith Fire-Hess)

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Nike Introduces New FuelBand Wristband

This week Nike announced a new wristband called the FuelBand ($149), a device that measures time, steps and calories during your fitness routine.

Inside the wristband is a battery good for four-days of activity, plus a built in USB connection as well as Bluetooth for wirelessly syncing with an iPhone.

On the outside, 20 color-coded LED lights are designed to alert users how close they are to meeting their daily NikeFuel target score, which resets at midnight everyday. By collecting this information on a routine basis, Nike expects the system to help motivate consumers to live more active lifestyle, by comparing their score to friends using the mobile app or desktop software, as well as the FuelBand community at large.

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The 20 Unhealthiest Cereals

A bowl of Cap’n Crunch isn’t as bad as a sodium-packed slice of pepperoni pizza but there’s still lots of sugar—up to 50% for some brands—in every bite of many popular breakfast cereals.

To find the 20 unhealthiest cereals on your grocer’s shelf, The Daily Beast used data from Good Guide and limited their list to the most popular brands. This ranking is based on Good Guide’s health score, on a scale of 0 to 10, worst to best.

See the list HERE.

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The Cheesecake Factory Debuts New SkinnyLicious Menu With Low Calorie Dining Options

Famous for their expansive menu which offers something for everyone, The Cheesecake Factory has just expanded their offerings with a new low calorie menu aptly named “SkinnyLicious.” Redefining low calorie flavor, the new SkinnyLicious menu provides guests with even more choices with signature rich taste.

“We are very happy to introduce our new SkinnyLicious menu to our guests,” said David Overton, Founder of The Cheesecake Factory. “We wanted to create a menu that delivers an exceptional dining experience to our calorie-conscious guests, without compromising the delicious taste that people have come to expect from The Cheesecake Factory.”

With nearly 50 mouthwatering lower calorie items, the SkinnyLicious menu offers a wide variety of new and signature favorites. The wide variety of selections will be featured on a standalone menu alongside the regular menu, and include options ranging from appetizers to main entrées. The Small Plates & Appetizers and fresh-baked Flatbreads categories feature dishes all under 490 calories, while the entrée Salads and main courses are all served with 590 calories or less. Also featured are five Skinny Cocktails each with 150 calories or less.

The SkinnyLicious menu will also introduce 13 brand-new items including the Mexican Tortilla Salad, the SkinnyLicious Hamburger and Tuscan Chicken. Low-calorie favorites offered on The Cheesecake Factory’s current menu such as the Beets with Goat Cheese, Chicken Pot Stickers and Asian Chicken Salad will also be offered on the SkinnyLicious menu.

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Jawbone UP – The App-Powered Wristband That Encourages Wellness

Jawbone, a leading innovator of products and services for the mobile lifestyle, today unveiled its vision to inspire people to live healthier with UP by Jawbone– a new product the company plans to launch later this year.

Lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer cause more deaths than communicable diseases, according to the CDC. Research shows eating healthier, getting quality sleep, and moving more can prevent most of these lifestyle diseases.

UP leverages Jawbone’s expertise and partner ecosystem integrating robust computing and sophisticated sensor technology in the form of functional jewelry. UP by Jawbone is a new system that tracks your movement, sleep patterns, and nutrition so you can live a healthier life. This new end-to-end system consists of a small wristband that monitors your activity 24/7, a mobile app that analyzes the activity, and an open platform that motivates you with personal and social recommendations and challenges tailored to your goals.

UP by Jawbone will be available later this year. To be alerted to the release of UP, sign up for email updates at http://up.jawbone.com/.

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10 Fattiest Meals At Chain Restaurants

Menus at chain restaurants are filled with meals possessing enough calories and fat to surpass or come alarmingly close to the daily intake recommended (about 2,000 calories) by the USDA’s official Dietary Guidelines. The Daily Meal has uncovered ten of the most fattening dishes. You can see the list HERE.

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Air-O-Swiss Travel Humidifier Review

The AIR-O-SWISS Travel Ultrasonic Humidifier ($49.99) is a must have for your next hotel stay, your office or for use by your bedside at home.  Simply add your own half-liter bottle of water, and plug the unit in anywhere and within seconds you’ll be enjoying a micro-fine cool mist that evaporates into the air. The unit is whisper quiet and extremely compact.  It comes complete with a handy travel pouch, as well as a travel AC adapter and exchangeable plugs that can be used in North America or Europe. The bottle neck adapter has two size fittings for use with standard plastic water bottles. The adapter fits securely inside the neck of the bottle so water does not leak out. When turned upside down, the metal ball stopper is water tight. The base has adjustable fold out feet to alleviate tipping. In addition, the unit has a variable humidity adjustment to accommodate the amount of mist that is released.  We used this travel humidifier on a recent trip to California and Nevada. The tiny unit made our room feel moist and comfortable. The Air-O-Swiss Travel Humidifier is the perfect anywhere option for anyone looking to quickly and easily add moisture to the air. (Reviewed by Meredith Fire-Hess)

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Comic Strip Bandages

When your little superhero gets a scrape, make it all better with Comic Strip Bandages ($6). These latex-free bandages are imprinted with cool “sound effects” from your favorite comic strips (OUCH! OOOW! AAARGH! WHAAM! BAM! or POW!) and arrive in a fun collectible tin. With 24 assorted sizes you’re ready for any “owie” – even the invisible ones.

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6 Fast-Food Abominations

See the worst fast-food abominations (including a shocking new sandwich from Friendly’s) HERE.

Friendly’s newest sandwich creation, released early this month, is a burger and grilled cheese in one. At 1,500 calories, the Grilled Cheese BurgerMelt features the best of all worlds — a burger in between two grilled cheese sandwiches. With 1,500 calories and 97 grams of fat, it’s hard to imagine a worse sandwich than an item that is literally three sandwiches combined.

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Burgerville Offers Personalized Calorie Counts on Receipts, You Want Thighs With That?

Burgerville, a fast food chain in the Pacific Northwest that highlights local, seasonal food, will provide custom nutritional information on receipts. The receipt system is being rolled out to all 39 Burgerville locations this week.

“It started first with guests interested in customizing our food. For those who have allergies or are health- conscious, how do they know if they’re on track or not?” Burgerville CEO Jeff Harvey tells FastCompany.com. So Harvey did some research on Nutricate, a system from SmartReceipt that offers personalized nutritional information on receipts. The system is already used in many hospitals and employee cafeterias, but Burgerville is the first fast food chain to adopt it.

Burgerville’s receipt system doesn’t just shock customers into making different food choices–it also suggests what some of those choices might be. “One of our signatures is a real ice cream milkshake with seasonal fruit–it has the best quality ingredients, coming straight from the farms, but the calorie count could be as high as 800 calories. So guests will get a recommendation saying, for example, if you like the blueberry shake, you might consider getting a blueberry smoothie next time,” Harvey says.

Burgerville customers who tested the program in a pilot were satisfied with the results, however. “Most all of the feedback was positive, and no guests were shocked by the info. I don’t recall getting any negative feedback,” Harvey says. (Thanks for the tip Don – Reprinted from Fast Company)

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