Bundle up, everybody, we've got another six weeks of winter to survive! Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil officially saw his shadow this weekend, which unfortunately means it doesn't look like relief from the winter storms that have pounded the Midwest or Northeast are slowing down anytime soon (and now poor Punx is the scapegoat). So grab a mug of hot chocolate, and catch up on this week's biggest headlines.
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1. The Biggest Loser contestant shocks judges with 155-pound weight loss. When Rachel Frederickson stepped out on stage for the show's finale, Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper were literally stunned into silence. Frederickson lost 155 pounds in 14 weeks (60 percent of her original body weight) and went from a size 20 to a size 2. The slimdown won her the prize money, and technically at 5'4" and now 105 pounds, she's only slightly underweight by traditional BMI standards, but her fast weight loss has people talking. Although the contestants on The Biggest Loser often follow a very regimented diet and workout regime, most doctors recommend a slower weight-loss pace, normally around 2 to 3 pounds per week, depending on your starting weight and overall goal.
2. Your memory is terrible at recording events. A new study found that when it comes to recalling information, your memory falls down on the job a lot by rewriting and editing your past with current information and experiences. It does this to help you "survive and adapt within constantly changing environments," according to Northwestern University researchers who conducted the study.
3. The science of addiction and recovery. One of the most-talked about stories of the week has been the sudden death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from an apparent drug overdose. Hoffman, who had been sober 22 years, was a recovering heroin addict and alcoholic, but his death took many by surprise. The authors at Slate put together a detailed, sobering look at the science behind addiction and recovery that highlights that ultimately, we know very little about why people start using or re-using.
4. Sochi scrambles to prep for Olympics. It's crunch time! With the 2014 Winter Olympics officially starting on Friday, many people are concerned about whether Sochi is financially and structurally prepared to host the Games (having gone $51 million over budget, these Games are officially the most expensive in Olympic history). Not doing anything to assuage that worry are journalists live-tweeting about their dismal and gross hotel experiences. Several are complaining that only six of the nine media hotels are ready and that the water isn't drinkable (if it's running at all), doorknobs are falling off, elevators have broken, and stray dogs and construction workers are wandering through rooms.
5. CVS calls it quits on tobacco. Starting in October, CVS will stop selling tobacco products nationwide, as it interferes with the brand's overall goal of promoting health and wellness. "Selling tobacco is very inconsistent with being in that business," said Helena Foulkes, CVS's pharmacy president in a statement. "We really thought about this decision as it relates to the future as a health company—it's good for customers and our company, in the long run."