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Lifting the Weight
Weight Watchers and the American Cancer Society (ACS) are teaming up this month to tip the scales in the direction of better health during the nationwide Great American Weigh In March 5.

The union of Weight Watchers and the ACS seeks to inform people about the connection between being overweight or obese and an increased risk of a variety of cancers such as cancer of the uterine lining, breast, kidney, pancreas and colon.

During the one-day event, Weight Watchers centers will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to provide free weigh-ins, measurements of Body Mass Index (BMI) and a copy of the brochure Healthy Weight, Healthy BMI. In addition, the centers will sell a commemorative T-shirt with proceeds benefiting the ACS.

Local Weight Watchers centers are located at 733 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie; 7028 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie; 2626 Charles Drive, Suite A, Chalmette; 555 Lapalco Blvd., Space 103, Gretna; and 301 N. Hwy. 190, Covington. For more information call Weight Watchers at (800) 651-6000 or visit www.weightwatchers.com, or ACS at (800) ACS-2345, www.cancer.org.

Donations of Life
Every 76 minutes, someone dies while waiting for a vital organ transplant, and every 13 minutes another person is added to the list of those waiting for transplants.

To help make both lists shorter, the National Donor Awareness Foundation is staging Soul Revival 2003, its fourth annual fundraising gala, at 7:30 p.m. March 15 at a private residence at 205 Stella St. in Metairie.

The event will include dancing to music by the gospel group Tyronne Foster and the Arc Singers and R&B/funk group Liquid Pleasure as well as local cuisine. Tickets start at $150 and can be obtained by calling the National Donor Awareness Foundation at 582-2184.

The foundation was established in 1999 to educate people about the value of organ donation and the needs of the 8,500 people in the Gulf States region who currently are in need of organ transplants. For more information about organ and tissue donation, call the foundation at 582-2184 or visit its Web site at www.donorawarenessfoundation.org.

Kidney Health Screening
In conjunction with National Kidney Month in March, the National Kidney Foundation of Louisiana is offering free screenings as part of its Kidney Early Evaluation Program (KEEP).

The screenings are scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 20 in the lower level of Macy's department store in the New Orleans Shopping Center (1400 Poydras St.). Appointments are recommended (call 861-4500), but walk-in patients also will be accommodated.

KEEP targets people who suffer from diabetes or high blood pressure and those who have a family history of kidney disease. The screening will include a glucose test, blood pressure measurement, urine analysis and information about kidney health. Health care professionals also will draw blood from each participant, who will receive detailed results of that test about a month after the screening.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, some 300,000 Americans undergo dialysis due to chronic kidney failure, including 6,700 in Louisiana and about 2,000 in the New Orleans area. Early detection allows physicians to prescribe medication and treatments that can improve the health of the kidneys and prolong their function.

No Pain, Lots of Gain
There's a new exercise game in town, one that incorporates dancing, low-impact aerobics, yoga, martial arts and meditation in an hour-long head-to-toe workout that's fun for all ages.

Laura Elms, a certified Neuromuscular Integrative Action (NIA) white-belt instructor, has started classes in NIA at New Orleans Shotokan Karate Center (5302 Canal Blvd., 486-3854; www.nia-nia.com) near ClimbMax.

NIA, developed by Debbie and Carlos Rosas of Portland, Ore., calls on the disciplines of dance, martial arts and yoga to combine nine forms of movement and three levels of intensity for a workout that can be applied to all age ranges and fitness levels. Music used in the course ranges from New Age to honky tonk to R&B and the movements build flexibility, strength and balance while providing a cardiovascular workout without the damaging effects of repetitive, high-impact regimens.

Elms says the exercise program, which is performed in bare feet and comfortable clothing, also offers a beneficial sensory experience that applies meditation and concentration techniques that help to enrich the spirit while conditioning the body. Classes are available at 9:30 a.m. Monday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. Saturday, 6:15 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Affordable Medicine
The Prescription Assistance Clearinghouse is offering two publications that can help people obtain free or discounted prescription medications.

How To Get Free Prescription Drugs When You Can't Afford To Pay gives consumers information about the more than 70 programs major drug manufacturers offer that provide free or low-cost pharmaceuticals. How To Get a Free Prescription Discount Card to Save Money on Prescription Drugs is a special report that tells consumers how to get a free prescription drug discount card that can be used at local pharmacies.

To receive the publications, send $5 to Central Fulfillment Center, Free Prescription Drug Booklet Offer #FPDO218E, P.O. Box 408342, Chicago, IL 60640-8342, or log onto the clearinghouse's Web site at www.prescriptionassistanceclearinghouse.org.

Raw Truths
A movement to get back to health basics by eating raw foods is gaining momentum nationwide, led by "raw food guru" David Wolfe, author of Eating For Beauty, who will be in New Orleans for three appearances this month.

Wolfe, who also wrote The Sunfood Diet Success System and Nature's First Law: The Raw-Food Diet, says eating raw vegetables and fruits gives the body a higher quality of food with which to work and helps purity and control as well as assisting in digestion. In answer to the popularity of the movement, chefs have opened 25 raw-food restaurants across the country and the philosophy has been embraced by celebrities such as model/actress Iman and her husband musician David Bowie, actors Demi Moore, Woody Harrelson, Alicia Silverstone and Ben Vereen as well as supermodel Carol Alt and musicians Bryan Adams, k.d. lang, Moby, Sting and Jewel.

Wolfe will sign his new book from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. March 14 at Whole Foods Market (5600 Magazine St., 899-9119). He will lecture from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. during a daylong health fair March 15 at Lake Forest Plaza (5700 Read Blvd., 415-9042). Cost is $25. He also will lecture about the benefits of raw foods from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. March 16 at Wild Lotus Yoga Studio (4404 St. Peter St., 484-3443). Cost is $20. Reservations are recommended for the lectures.

Raw-food diets include fruits, vegetables, sprouts, nuts, fresh juices, sea vegetables, seeds, herbs and what Wolfe calls "superfoods" such as bee pollen and powdered grasses. He says the diet is far from taste restrictive, with dozens of raw-food recipe books available. His newest book, The Beauty Diet, focuses on what he calls beautifying foods such as cucumbers, coconut oil, olives and olive oil, watercress, arugula, watercress and others. Raw foods are available to fulfill the required amounts of the three basic food classes of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Benefits, he says, include weight loss, higher energy levels, improved skin and hair, longer life, increased wellness and saving money.

The son of two doctors, Wolfe is CEO of Nature's First Law Inc., the largest distributor of books, juicers, tapes, organic beauty products, bulk organic foods and exotic raw foods in the world. He hosts several retreats every year in the United States, Europe, Canada and the South Pacific as well as conducting about 100 lectures and seminars throughout the world. He also is a professor at Dr. Gabriel Cousens Living-Food Nutrition Masters Program in Arizona.

For more information on the raw-food movement and Wolfe, log onto the Web at www.rawfood.com.

click to enlarge Weight Watchers and the American Cancer Society are hosting a free Great American Weigh In March 5 to increase awareness that being overweight or obese can increase people's risk of several cancers.
  • Weight Watchers and the American Cancer Society are hosting a free Great American Weigh In March 5 to increase awareness that being overweight or obese can increase people's risk of several cancers.
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