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January 5, 2008 9:00:00 PM PST
DIETING DILEMMAS, WINTER COOKING GADGETS, FINANCIAL RESOLUTIONS, PARK IT and ROLLING WITH THE FLOW-----DIETING DILEMMAS-----

Your dieting dilemmas, solved. With us this morning with advice to help us shed those extra pounds this New Year is the articles director of Fitness Magazine, Julia Savacool.

How long will it take for my good eating habits to show up on the scale?
After 2-4 week of dieting, you should start seeing some fat loss; expect to lose about 4-6 lbs of fat in the first month. Since a lb equals 3,500 calories, as soon as you create a deficit of 3,500, you'll see a loss of one pound. You can do this in a week by trimming 500 calories a day. But don't be disappointed if the number on the scale doesn't budge right away-and if you happen to drop several pounds in the first few days-its most likely water weight, not fat.

Should I cut back on artificial sweeteners?
Though sugar substitutes are supposed to help with weight loss, studies suggest they might actually hinder your efforts. Researches have found that 55% of those who drank one to two diet sodas a day were overweight after seven to eight years. Among those that drank the same amount of regular, that number was 33%. Experts believe that artificial sweeteners can trigger cravings for sweet foods and can interfere with the body's natural ability to count calories.
There are other reasons to curb your intake of fake sugar: headache, diarrhea, and upset stomach in those that are sensitive or intolerant.

What happens to body fat when you lose weight?
Fat cells shrink and contents get absorbed, but once a fat cell is created, it can only change size-losing weight will shrink it, gaining weight will cause it to expand, but nothing except lipo can make the cell disappear completely.

What's the difference between wheat and whole wheat?
If the word whole isn't listed as one of the first 3 ingredients on your loaf, its essentially white bread. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel-which guarantees the max dose of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Non-whole-grain products have been processed to remove parts of the kernel because it extends shelf life and smoothes the texture.

Can eating certain foods increase my metabolism?
No. The only thing you can do to up the rate at which you burn calories is to eat small meals throughout the day - three meals and two snacks daily or five mini meals, every three to four hours. Keep in mind that NOT eating can slow metabolism.

Should I eat before or after I work out?
Eat before. A light snack (150-200 cals) that contains mostly carbs and some protein. Eaten a half hour before your sweat session, its helps fuel your muscles, steady your blood sugar and stave off belly rumbles. If you exercise for more than one hour, you should refuel afterward too with a small carb-rich snack such as an apple or banana.

Do I really need to take a daily multivitamin?
If you're consuming at least 1,800 cals a day and your diet is balanced, you can likely skip the multi. But if you're cutting calories you should-its extremely difficult to get all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients you need if you're not eating them.

You have some interesting statistics on diet confessions.
Fitness polled 1,000 women, ages 18 and over, to learn the shocking truths about how, when and why women diet. The results point to the scary, funny, and fascinating things women will do in their quest to lose weight.

Results are featured in Fitness' February 2008 issue. An excerpt of the survey results follows:

  • 23% would spend a week in jail if it meant reaching their ideal weight.
  • 85% of women would rather have an extra toe if it meant reaching their ideal weight
  • 53% of women admitted to polishing off a box of cookies, a bag of chips, a pizza, a cake or pie-in one sitting
  • 42% of women have used some sort of diet drug or supplement to lose weight
  • 32% have cleared the house of all tempting food and 24% only drank liquids for at least a day as a dieting desperate measure
  • 23% would shave their head if it meant reaching that target weight
  • Women are more likely to diet to look better (41%) than to be healthier (35%) or feel better (25%)
  • As a dieting trick, 67% of women drink copious amounts of water, 35% control portions and 20% chew gum
  • 45% have been told by a doctor to lose weight; 31% have heard it from their mother
  • 52% of women feel the most energetic at their thinnest; 32% feel more social
  • Skipping dessert is an effective diet trick for just 4% of women
  • 35% of women prefer Slim Fast, 34% choose Weight Watchers and 25% stick to Atkins
  • 51% would prefer Keira Knightly's body over Queen Latifah's (49%), although in the end, we'd rather be known as a "friendly chubby girl" (76%), than a "skinny witch" (24%).

    -----WINTER COOKING GADGETS-----

    Warming you up when the temperatures outside don't. With us this morning to show us some gadgets to help you prepare your favorite winter dishes is Diana Perdomo with etronics.com.

    KitchenAid KSC700GC 7-Qt. Slow Cooker (Gloss Cinnamon)
    $130
    When you think of winter "comfort" foods you think soups, stews, and all-in-one pot meals - and this brand new slow cooker from KitchenAid is perfect utensil for all three. The large, 7-qt. slow cooker features a ceramic pot for even temperature control, glass lid so you can watch the ingredients simmer to perfection, five temperature settings and up to ten hours programmable timer - so you can throw in your ingredients, set the timer, and let the pot do the cooking for you.

    Cuisinart EGP-18 Electric Nonstick Grill Pan
    $150
    If you crave a little barbecue flavor, this indoor electric grill from Cuisinart is the perfect winter solution. Designed to instill true bbq appeal, this electric grill features high-quality, easy to clean brushed stainless steel design and can heat up to 450 degrees F in an instant. It comes with a brazed aluminum heating element for thorough cooking and a sturdy, tempered glass lid (so you're steak or poultry will be cooked to perfection!).

    Krups FLF3-1W Stainless Steel Electric Tea Kettle
    $70
    Winter months call for hot beverages and this brand new kettle from Krups boils water instantly - plus its designed for a variety of hot drink including coffee and tea and cocoa. Great for entertaining or for family gatherings by the fire.

    Krups FDE312-75 Panini Maker
    $80
    Everyone loves a grilled sandwich or Panini, perfect for a winter craving for something warm and satisfying. This new Panini maker comes with a full recipe book, to give you some additional unique cooking ideas. Its sleek and attractive chrome exterior has a cool- touch thermo-insulated handle, non-stick cooking plates for easy removal of ingredients and quick cleanup, and a floating hinge system to accommodate different food thickness.

    Cuisinart SM-55BC-5-1/2-Quart 12-Speed Stand Mixer, Brushed Stainless
    $350
    A must-have for every serious cook, this updated mixer from Cuisinart is perfect for all your winter cooking and baking needs. From breads to cakes and the like, this five quart mixer is super-powerful at 800 watts compared to other stand mixers of the same size which cap at about 400. The mixer has a handy 15-minute countdown timer as well as a slow-start function that eliminates messes and splatters. The easy to use mixer makes cooking and baking your favorite recipes, even more fun. Plus it has an auto shutoff feature for extra safety.

    For more information, go to www.etronics.com

    -----FINANCIAL RESOLUTIONS-----

    Starting the New Year off with a fresh start, financially. Joining us this morning with tips for fiscal fitness is Alan Kahn, CPA and president of the AJK financial group.

    Tell Us Some of The Most Popular Financial Resolutions For The New Year?

    Resolve to Save More!!

    a. Increase Retirement Savings

  • Increase contributions to your 401(k) or SIMPLE IRA
  • Take advantage of retirement programs, especially those that have employer matches ~ FREE MONEY! 2008 401K $15,500 SIMPLE $10,500 catch-up $ 5,000catch-up $ 2,500 $20,500 $13,000 Traditional & Roth IRA's $5,000 + $1,000 (catch up) = $6,000

    b. Save for College

  • Start a Section 529 plan for your children

    c. Save for a Rainy Day

  • Emergency cash to cover expenses for a few months can save you a fortune in late fees and finance charges.

    Resolve to Spend Less!!

    a. Spend Less Than You Earn

  • Motto: If You Don't Have It, Don't Spend It

    b. Reduce Credit Card Debt

  • Switch & Consolidate to a Lower Interest Rate Credit Card OR
  • Lower Rate Home Equity Line of credit Tax Deduction for Interest

    c. Review Your Current Mortgage

  • Ascertain that you are paying lowest possible interest rate.
  • Go from Variable to Fixed Rate loans.

    Resolve to Protect Your Family!!

    a. Review Life and Disability Insurance

    b. Prepare a Will and Health Care Proxy

  • Guardians for your children
  • Health Care Proxy Form designates person as agent to make health care decisions if you become incapacitated.

    For more information, go to www.ajkfinancialgroup.com

    -----PARK IT-----

    Anytime you hear someone talk about coming into the city for a trip, the second thing you usually hear is how hard it is to find a parking spot. There's some help on the way. With us this morning is Margot Tohn, author and publisher of Park It guides.

    How did you research the guide and how does this edition differ from the first?
    I personally visited each of the 1,110 garages and lots to confirm the rates and other information like clearance height, hours of operation, and credit cards accepted. It took me 12 days (or 106 hours).

    As with the 1st Edition, this 2nd Edition has the most comprehensive information on the 1,110 garages. We give hints and tips on safety, picking a garage, avoiding extra charges, and even calculate the actual rate - with tax - that you'll pay. For this edition, we added sections on Trends in Parking, Congestion Pricing, Are Garages Closing All The Time?, Which Cars Typically Incur the Oversized Vehicle Surcharge, and the NYC Parking Card.

    What are ways drivers can save money on parking?
    Park at the Eastern and Western edges of the city -- Typically, garages are less expensive the farther you go away from 5th Avenue and Central Park West.
    Special Rates -- Take advantage of the special rates, like the Early Bird and Evening Specials. Parking by 9am or 10am or after 6pm in a garage can frequently save you $15. Use an outdoor lot -- For monthly parking in particular, an outdoor lot can be less expensive than an indoor garage. Drive a smaller car - Nearly 100 different oversized vehicles typically get a $5-10 surcharge at 90% of the garages.

    When people pick up their cars, the price for parking is sometimes not what was posted on the sign when they entered. How can drivers avoid extra charges?
    The best way to avoid unexpected charges is to read the posted rate signs and to confirm the rate before you park and leave your car. Other ways are:
    Read the claim check - Confirm that the time stamped on your claim check is the actual time you parked. Overnight - Some garages charge the overnight rate only after 5-6a.m.
    Leave your key - Forget to leave your key and the garage may charge you from $25 to the full towing fee. Large vehicle surcharge - Know if the dimensions of your vehicle typically incur this surcharge.
    Know the times - Most of the rates have a clearly posted entry time (e.g. by 7pm, 6-9am, after 3pm), but sometimes the exit time will simply read 9pm. Be sure you know if these times are "before" or "after" the posted time.
    Remember the tax - the posted signs don't include the 18.375% tax charged by the city, which can often add on quite a few extra dollars. See p. 358 of Park It! NYC for a pre-tax / post-tax pricing grid.

    You write in the book that most garages create an "event" rate for major holidays and festivals. What does that mean exactly?
    Garages have a range of rates for conventions, sporting events, parades, and other events, and these rates are typically higher than normal. Garages reserve the right to say 'Event Rate in Effect' at will, so it's really important to confirm the rate before you park your car. On major holidays or festivals (Thanksgiving, July 4th), consider parking just a little farther away and taking public transportation or walking to your destination.

    What are the cheapest and in turn least expensive garages in the city?
    The most expensive is 5. E 60th Street. It's in a great location, just off 5th Avenue and it has only 17 spaces. You'll pay $67 to stay for 12 hours and $11000 for a monthly space (but they have no vacancies). Travel way uptown, though, to W 145th St between Amsterdam and Convent Avenues and you'll pay just $7 until the garage closes at 6pm on weekdays and $117 for the month.

    Is it appropriate to tip the workers at the garage? And if so, how much?
    Personally, I believe in tipping the garage valets. After all, it's my car. But every New Yorker has his/her own view on tipping - when, why, and how much.
    Why tip -- The average parking attendant earns $19,000, which is less than half of the average salary in New York City. Additionally, attendants surveyed by Park It! Guides generally indicated that they would be inclined to 'go the extra mile' for a consistent and good 'tipper.'

    When to tip -- The majority of people tip, using that practiced sleight of hand, when the valet retrieves their car. Some garage companies suggested to us that customers tip when they drop off their cars as a way to en sure that the valet will take particular care when parking their vehicles. Another good reason to tip when dropping off is that valets who work during the day may not benefit from the tips customers give when they pick up their cars. However, most of the larger garages with multiple valets will pool their tips either by shift or for the entire day.

    How much to tip -- Most people tip $1-2 each time they park. Some monthly parkers give a larger amount during the holiday season.

    Are there some garages that do not take credit cards?
    Actually, 28% of garages do not take credit cards. Look for the credit card sticker in the cashier window or ask the valet when you leave your car because you don't want to get caught late at night looking for an ATM.

    Are there any safety tips you can offer when parking one's car at a garage?
    Take your valuables - Always try to take with you or conceal all your personal and valuable items when you park, such as house keys, loose change, EZ Pass, phone charger, and documents. Garages do typically have a strict no-tolerance policy when it comes to employee theft, but nearly every garage's claim check clearly states that 'garages are not responsible for items left in cars'.
    Inspect your car - Walk around your car with the valet to confirm any existing damage that you may have. This documentation gives you recourse if you find any damage when you retrieve your car. Garages that inspect cars for damage are noted in the book by 'Damage Inspection'. You can also keep a disposable camera in your car to take photos if you do find any damage.
    Know your numbers - Make sure you write down the exact address and phone number of the garage on your claim check. Then put the claim check where you won't forget it.
    Bumper guards - Some garages provide these guards for a small fee, or you can purchase your own.

    Are most garages open 24 hours a day?
    66% of garages are open 24 hours. I found that more of the independently owned garages close around 1:00 am because they are owner-operated by one or two people. If you do get locked out, be warned that the garage may try to charge you an additional rate for the time that your car is parked in the morning. This almost happened to me just recently in the theatre district, but a little charm goes a long way.

    For folks driving into town and staying overnight are there hotels that offer parking facilities?
    I found nine hotels that have on-site parking, and these are listed in Park It! NYC (2nd Edition). Many hotels will also have arrangements for off-site parking. This can be costly and you'll need to allow 30 - 60 minutes to get your car, so I often suggest to out-of-town guests that they use the book to find their own parking. That way they save some money and can usually get their car faster.

    What about folks who are looking for a monthly parking place - any advice on how they can shop around for the best rates?
    The price for monthly parking in Manhattan ranges from $106 to $1000, ($117 to $1100 with 10.375% tax for Manhattan residents) with an average of $305. You may be able to negotiate a rate lower than the posted rate, and some garages will offer a discount if you commit to a six-to-twelve month contract. On top of the basic rate, additional charges can be expected for oversized vehicles, luxury cars and parking on the main floor.

    Manhattan Resident Parking Tax

    Manhattan residents who own and have registered their motor vehicles to a Manhattan address, park in long-term rented space and use their vehicles exclusively for personal use may be eligible for exemption from the additional New York City surtax levied on Manhattan parking space rentals. If you qualify, you will pay 10.375% instead of 18.375% tax.

    What should someone do if they want to make a complaint about a garage?
    If you do report a problem to a garage company, provide as much information as possible: garage, date, time you parked, time you retrieved your car, anyone who can verify your complaint, and whether you spoke with anyone at the garage. Park It! NYC lists the phone numbers and website for the larger garage companies. If you want to make a complaint to the DCA:
    Department of Consumer Affairs
    42 Broadway
    New York, NY 10004
    212.487.4444

    For more information, visit www.parkitguides.com

    -----ROLLING WITH THE FLOW-----

    It's a unique workout tool that could mean wonders for your body... In just minutes a day. With us this morning to demonstrate the foam roller is fitness expert Penny Hoff.

    What is a foam roller?
    Tool that's been around for decades but being used in the fitness industry to alleviate tightness and pain all over your body

    How does it work?
    You roll on it and the compression adds length and hydration to your connective tissue. Its called Myofacial Release and is based on revolutionary new research showing that you can re-hydrate connective tissue so that you feel an instant release.

    It can also reduce the appearance of cellulite by compressing connective tissue, forcing it to rehydrate-becoming smoother in appearance so not only do you FEEL BETTER but you LOOK BETTER too.

    How long does it take?
    Only minutes a day can ease muscular aches and pains, reducing muscular knots of tension and smoothing out cellulite. It also stimulates collagen production (which decreases as we age) and if you stimulate collagen in the skin your skin looks younger and more supple.

    Who can use it?
    It is especially helpful for aging athletes (what I call Baby ZOOMERS) because it adds length to muscles therefore easing that stiffness post exercise or when you get up in the morning.

    For more information, go to www.rollwithflow.com


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