FOR MEN, FOR FREE, FOR HEALTH: Men are famous for skipping important health screenings, but maybe if the price is right more guys will sign up.
How does free sound?
On March 17, Moffitt Cancer Center, Florida Hospital, St. Joseph's Hospital, Tampa General, the University of South Florida and a bunch of other community partners are teaming up for the Annual Men's Health Forum, with free screenings and flu shots for medically underserved and uninsured men in the Tampa Bay area. In addition to testing (blood pressure, cholesterol, BMI, STDs, hepatitis, glucose, vision and more) there will be workshops, fitness demonstrations and representatives from community support services. Admission and parking are free, and there'll even be breakfast and lunch available while supplies last. It's a bilingual event, for English and Spanish speakers, plus help for Haitian Creole speakers.
It's all happening from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (no screenings during lunch), with registration opening at 8 a.m. at the Marshall Student Center, University of South Florida, Tampa (Use the entrance near E Fletcher Avenue and N 42nd Street. You can preregister and get details at mhftampa.com or call toll-free 1-888-663-3488 (press option 4).
Forget the common myth: nighttime eating isn't a diet downfall in itself. "In general, eating after 7 or 8 p.m. isn't really a problem unless you've already eaten too much during the day," says Karen Ansel, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Some advice:
Trying to lose weight? Don't worry if you've eaten healthfully earlier in the day and need to have dinner after 7. If you've eaten a lot already, however, have a smaller dinner or snack.
If you suffer from frequent heartburn, keep your evening meal small and low in fat. Fat relaxes the valve that blocks painful stomach acid from getting into your esophagus. That plus lying down to sleep — when gravity also works against you — is a recipe for discomfort.
Can't fall asleep? Have a bowl of oatmeal or whole-grain cereal, fruit or air-popped popcorn. Carbohydrates help the body make tryptophan, an amino acid that promotes deep sleep. Avoid alcohol, which can disrupt sleep.
If you need to stay awake or alert, focus on healthy proteins such as lean meat or fish.
If you just worked out, combine protein and healthy carbs for muscle growth and recovery. Try whole wheat spaghetti and mini meatballs or grilled chicken over mashed sweet potatoes.
RUB THE PAIN AWAY: If you have achy muscles, you may be tempted by pain-relieving rubs. They don't actually end pain, but they affect nerves in the skin, interfering with their ability to transmit pain to your brain. Here are recommendations from Prevention magazine:
Best for on the go: Icy Hot Maximum Strength Medicated Pain Relief Spray ($8; drugstores). Starts working on contact, no massaging required.
Best for purists: Badger Sore Muscle Rub ($10; badgerbalm.com). USDA-certified organic, it harnesses the natural power of cayenne pepper and ginger.
Best for dry skin: Ole Henriksen Muscle Comfort Lotion ($28; olehenriksen.com). Seaweed extract moisturizes while peppermint oil cools and increases circulation.
Best for finicky noses: Bengay Zero Degrees ($14; drugstores). Goes on cold and has a scent that dissipates quickly.
PORTABLE SHOWER AT THE BEACH: Here's a great idea for beachgoers who don't want to fight the crowds when it's time to hose off the excess sand and pile back into the car: Bring your own shower.
Get one of those sprayers at a garden supply store (usually for pesticides) that you have to pump to pressurize. Fill it with water and you have an instant shower.
Just make sure you mark the sprayer WATER ONLY in big letters so no one puts toxic yard chemicals in it. Leave it in the car or park it next to your towel to spray off after each dip if you get itchy from saltwater.
PERK UP WITH PLAIN COFFEE: Sometimes an energy drink may seem like the only way to get through the day. But often they move you into an up-and-down cycle of stimulation and exhaustion, according to the latest issue of Men's Health. "We guzzle energy drinks and then can't sleep at night," says physician Matthew Edlund, author of The Power of Rest. "We sit all day and then read emails at 3 a.m.," and feel exhausted the next day.
How about decaf energy drinks that boast huge doses of B vitamins as an energy booster? Ted Cooperman of ConsumerLab.com, which tests nutritional products, says that doesn't really work. "You won't feel a B-induced boost, since the energy provided by B vitamins isn't stimulating like caffeine."
Men's Health writer Laura Roberson says it's hard to beat simple brewed coffee, which doesn't have ingredients found in coffee energy drinks that may cause problems.
By the numbers
1 year How long the American Academy of Pediatrics says women should breast-feed to get the best health benefits for their babies, such as protection against respiratory illnesses, allergies and obesity.
75 percent Proportion of American moms who try breast-feeding.
23 percent Babies breast-feeding at one year.
SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Staff, wire reports