The Seven Deadly Sins – Part 4

24 05 2012

In my last installment of the series, I provide some important and interesting statistics about tobacco use and overeating. Don’t try any of this at home.

Tobacco – According to the CDC, the last statistics published in 2010 in regards to smoking in teens and adults showed a steady decline beginning in 1965. The study showed that in 2010 adult smokers had dropped 29.3% (19.3% current) compared to the 1965 percentage. However, tobacco has no health benefits. Smoke it or chew it and you’re still putting your health at risk. Any questions?

Overeating – Sometimes we get so hungry that we begin to gorge. When we finally put our forks down, we hear our stomach yell back at us and it feels like that last slice of cake is trying to bust through our belly button. However, for some, this agonizing feeling never occurs. Place food in front of them and they will be happy to make it disappear. We give these people nicknames: “Black Bole,” “The Disposal,” “Trash Compactor,” “The Abyss,” and even “The Terminator.” Yet despite their names, these individuals all have a health condition called “overeating” or “binge-eating.” Overeating is a very common occurrence. We all have had a second or third helping at one time or another. If you didn’t, you might have piled your plate larger than the recommended portion size and thus still managed to overeat. Overeating becomes a serious problem when someone begins to frequently binge and then finds trouble stoping. The MayoClinc writes, “when you have binge-eating disorder, you may be deeply embarrassed about gorging and vow to stop. But you feel such a compulsion that you can’t resist the urges and continue binge eating.” The causes of this disorder include, family history, biological factors, long-term dieting, and psychological issues. A study by Dr. Diann Ackard and her colleagues, looked at the relationship of overeating among 4746 adolescents. The study reported that girls (17.3%) were more likely to engage in overeating than boys (7.8%). The study also showed a significant relationship between binge-eating and low self-esteem and body satisfaction. The study also associated overeating with a higher risk of suicide.

Overeating is a serious disorder and preventative measures and remedies can be taken to help reduce the chance of binge-eating. If you or someone you know is binge-eating, speak with a doctor hear about treatment plans. Seeking additional guidance from a counselor or psychologist may be needed. If you or someone you know is overeating, try the following to help slow down your rate of consumption:

  • Eat slower
  • Put the fork down between bites
  • Consume more fiber
  • Eat breakfast
  • Eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day
  • Consume the right nutritients
  • Don’t stock up your fridge or pantry
  • DON’T DIET!

Eating can be fun, but when we begin to indulge in the greater commodities of life, we begin to lust over that of which we consume to much. These seven addictions can be fatal when consumed beyond their limits, but within limits, they can be a “non-sinful” bliss. Be mindful of what you consume (not just foods either) and know when a piece of Mrs. Jones’ homemade double chocolate, rum cake becomes a guilty pleasure. 

References

CDC – Smoking & Tobacco Use 

MayoClinic – Binge-Eating Disorder

Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics – Overeating Among Adolescents: Prevalence and Associations With Weight-Related Characteristics and Psychological Health





The Seven Deadly Sins – Part 3

17 05 2012

If we could only drink water for the rest of our lives, we might actually live a little longer. But where’s the taste in that? So man created two special substances to add to water (besides loads of sugar and artificial flavoring) to make our beverages more enjoyable and practically irresistible. Take a sip of the next two addictions.

Caffeine – Need energy? In the past, our only options were Gatorade, coffee, tea, and Coke. Now-a-days, you find people downing a Red Bull, Rock Star, Amp, Monster, or even a little potion commonly known as 5 Hour Energy Drink. And this is after a Venti dark roast coffee from StarBucks in the morning. Turn to the fitness scene and you have caffeine in many of the common sport-enhancement supplements.  Caffeine is most consumed psychostimulant substance in the world. The benefits of caffeine are heightened mental awareness and increased energy. I must note that according to reports, caffeine is not addictive, however, there is evidence that people react similarly to caffeine as they would to other psychostimulant drugs such as, cocaine. And even though caffeine is not a leading contributor to US mortality, many drinks containing caffeine also include large quantities of sugar. Other health risks associated with caffeine  include, increased heart rate, anxiety, insomnia, osteoporosis, and tremors. News reports back in 2010 (CNN) investigated the connection of energy drinks consumed with alcohol, and the related hospitalization and deaths among college students. The American Medical Association Council on Scientific Affairs states that moderate consumption of caffeine (three 8 oz. cups of coffee (about 250 milligrams of caffeine) per day and 5 servings of caffeinated soft drinks or tea per day) pose no negative effects on a person’s health. Also, those who consume caffeinated drinks probably aren’t drinking enough water.

Alcohol - Have wine, don’t have wine, have only red wine; wait, liquor’s good too? In the early 2000’s research began to introduce alcohol as a health-promoting substance. Going back in history, we know that alcohol was used as medicine to treat different ailments. However, now we’re told that having a glass of red wine a day can promote heart health. So everyone goes out, orders a glass of wine, and smiles knowing that they just fought off heart disease. Not so much. Studies that produced findings associating red wine with the reduced risk for heart disease might be basing their conclusions on the wrong component, reports the American Heart Association. Many of the health benefits from red wine comes from the flavonoids and antioxidants that can be found from red grapes and grape juice. So, instead of ordering a glass  of wine (which is normally more than the daily recommended) the next time you dine out, shoot over to the kids menu and order a fresh glass of grape juice. In case you think that goblet you have in your cupboard is a healthy serving, the AHA states that one drink is the following;  one 12 oz. beer, 4 oz. of wine, 1.5 oz. of 80-proof spirits, or 1 oz. of 100-proof spirits. Due to body weight, height, and frame size, the limitations for men are 2 drinks a day, while women are 1 drink a day.  Have a good time, but do it responsibly. Period.

References:

MedlinePlus – Caffeine

Zancheta, R., Possi, A., Planeta, C., and Marin, M. (2012). Repeated administration of caffeine induces either sensitization or tolerance of locomotor stimulation depending on the environmental context. Pharmacological Reports 1734-1140(63), 70-77

American Heart Association – Alcohol and Heart Disease





May is National Physical Fitness & Sports Month

16 05 2012

In conjunction with May’s observation of National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, National Bike Week starts today. This week (May 16 -18) commuters are asked to ride two wheels instead of four. Bike to Work day, May 18, is a great way to promote physical activity and  make a statement. Not only would people help advocate the physical wellbeing of someone’s health, but it will also show many environmentalist that we support our world’s health by deciding not to expose harmful gases and pollution into our oxygen that we breathe. To find more about Bike Week, visit League of American Bicyclists.

To show my support, I will be riding my bike to work for the rest of the week. I encourage you to do the same and show your support for physical activity. If you’re a lucky employee or self-employed worker, take some time and dust off that bike for a nice bike ride within the day. Catch some wind, breathe some fresh air, and get your body moving.





The Seven Deadly Sins – Part 2

15 05 2012

In the last part of the series I explained the sweet effects of sugar. The second part of the series weighs two other highly consumed ingredients. Follow the guidelines and you’ll have your body working for you instead of against you. Reading the food labels will help with this part. If you never understood the label on the sides and backs of packages, the American Heart Association can help you out: Reading Food Nutrition Labels.

Fats – According to the American Heart Association, coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease.  Fats, along with cholesterol, are the key factors for clogging up the body’s arteries. Yet, we love them so much that we have to have them in every meal. Now don’t get me wrong, there are benefits from the healthy fats that raise your high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and we do want to continue consuming recommended doses of that fat. The problem American’s are facing currently is the amount of saturated and transfats in our diets. The American Heart Association recommends anyone over the age of two to limit their saturated fats to less than 7% of their total daily calories, and limit their trans-saturated fats to less than 1% of daily total caloric intake. The CDC reported in 2007-2008 that Americans (males and females) were consuming 11% of saturated fats. In recent years, the media and FDA have helped reduce the amount of trans-saturated fat found within products by exposing the health risks associated with this fat and requiring companies to show the amount on their nutrition labels. Kudos to them, but the FDA can still be better at regulating what companies print and “claim” on their packages. “Low fat” doesn’t always mean that the fat content is lower than everything else. For a good idea of how many calories are made up from fats, multiply 9 by the number of fat grams (1 gram of fat = 9 kcal). Then subtract that from the total calories in the food to see how much fat you’re actually consuming.

Salt- Sodium has a number of functions in our body. It is an electrolyte that exchanges with potassium within our cells to maintain fluid balance, blood pressure, and acid-based balance. Our muscles also need sodium to contract and move. Lastly, sodium assists in the absorption of certain nutrients such as glucose. While our bodies need salt to maintain homeostasis, we tend to consume larger quantities than we actually need. According to the Institute of Medicine, the Adequate Intake (AI) for the majority of Americans is 1,500 mg of sodium per day. One should not exceed 2,300 mg/day.  Yet, the CDC has reported that the average American consumes roughly 3,436 mg/day. That’s twice as much as the AI! I understand that we have evolved from our Neanderthal ancestors, but really, have we evolved so much that we can no longer tolerate bland foods? Let’s just toss out the main purpose for eating in the first place. Our primary focus now is to make sure that whatever we consume tastes delectable. To accomplish this, throw a dash (or a heaping) of salt on it. I know people who will reach for the salt shaker even before tasting the food and make it snow on their food like a blizzard came through. Too much sodium intake can lead to high blood pressure. This in turn leads to, you guessed it, heart disease! Help yourself out by drinking enough water throughout the day to keep your fluid balance in check. Then switch over to some lower sodium foods. Even though the front of the package says “low sodium,” read the nutrition label and make sure it’s not going to put your salt levels through the roof at the end of the day.

References:

American Heart Association – Know Your Fats

CDC – Trends in Intake of Energy and Macronutrients in Adults From 1999-2000 Through 2007-2008

CDC – Americans Consume Too Much Sodium







The Seven Deadly Sins – Part 1

13 05 2012

One time or another we’ve all been there. The trip to Taco Bell or the late night pantry run. An impulse fires off in our brain that craves a certain substance and we’re suddenly controlled by that impulse to search out and conquer. Once we start consuming, we just can’t let it go. We know where we stashed the Double Chocolate Heath Bar Crunch ice cream from the night before and it’s still going to be there when we look. And sometimes, you regret that urge that came over you. You tell yourself that you can’t do it again. However, days or even a month pass and suddenly that craving strikes again. How do you handle it this time?

In just the last few days, I have heard and seen on several news broadcasting outlets the damaging impact that obesity has created within the US.  Since an article on the cost of obesity was published in Reuters last week, there has been numerous reports following up on how people are getting so big. I can’t blame media for capturing this epidemic, however, why is it only surfacing now? According to an article that came out in this week’s publication of NewsWeek, obesity in America can be traced back to the 1930’s.  As I read Gary Taubes’ article in NewsWeek and Sharon Begley’s in Reuters, I begin to connect the dots. We are now seeing more coverage on obesity because the cost isn’t just affecting the obese. It’s now also affecting tax payers and the actual government (due to the health care reform) because of the amount of money we need to spend to help out those who are overweight and obese. A quick price figure to get a scope on the problem: it costs $190 BILLION in excess medical spending a year to provide services for those overweight and obese. Now what do you think the medical services does to help leverage this cost? You got it, everyone (even the non-obese) pays for it with higher insurance premiums. Find out more about the cost of America’s waist line by clicking on this article, As America’s Waistline Expands, Costs Soar, and read what else is going on as we become the world’s real Big brother.

However, we can’t judge our health based solely on our waistlines. Let’s face it, there are some other substances that we can’t stay away from that are also affecting our health. The question is, why are we slowly (maybe quickly for some) jeopardizing our bodies for that brief moment of pleasure? I refer to these pleasures as the Seven Deadly Sins, I mean Addictions. Studies have shown that the following, when exceeding normal amounts, can cause detrimental effects to our health.

7 Deadly Addictions

  • Sugar
  • Fat
  • Salt
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Overeating 

Many of these addictions have contributed to the top causes of mortality in America. And, these addictions are catching on around the world too. Heart disease is still the leading cause of death in America, with 599,413 deaths per year. Cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke are the other three causes that make up the top four in America. What and how much we consume is all linked to the increase in mortality in our country. Understanding how these addictions impact our health and lives can help prevent further increases of adult mortality in the future (not to mention for children). In this four part series, I will touch on each addiction. Hopefully by the end, the information will allow you to yield to temptation and further your success in a healthy life.

Sugar – “Oh how sweet it is to be loved by you,” to quote James Taylor. You can’t resist it and it’s everywhere. I call it a love-hate relationship. We love it when it goes in, we hate it when it sticks around–around our love handles. Walk down any aisle of a supermarket and you’ll find a form of it in the ingredients of any container or bottle. And don’t be fooled, pure cane sugar, maltodextrin, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and even carbohydrates are still sugars. (I’ll speak more about carbs in another article.) NewsWeeks’ columnist Gary Taubes pounces on the idea that this is the real factor that is causing most of the world to be overweight. He has a valid point too.  The majority of Americans still consume too much of this granulated crystal even with the vast awareness of obesity. In the past decade, our  world has consumed more sugar and processed foods than every before, thanks to the convenience of the fast food industry explosion. China, one of the healthiest countries in the world has slowly lost footing for the top rank as their childhood obesity rates jumped by 25% in the last decade. One article states that the influx of fast food chains in Shanghai has caused many children and adults to convert to lower quality of eating. Too much sugar leads to obesity, diabetes, and ultimately heart disease. Don’t forget the adverse effects that come with these diseases, which include, orthopedic problems (swollen ankles, knee pains, and back pains), sleep apnea, and lots of medication. Reduce the intake of sugar by consuming foods without added sugar and stick with fresh produce to get the sugars that will keep you going throughout the day.

References:

CDC – Leading Causes of Death

The Sydney Morning Herald – China’s Spoilt Generation Takes Obesity to New Level 






The Sham Diet

8 05 2012

It’s Thursday and my client is warming up on the treadmill before our training session. I review my notes and memorize the workout she needs to do today. Functional movements and weight loss are her goals, which in my line of work, are the goals for the majority of my clients. She comes to meet me and we begin our workout.

We’re working hard and we discuss her progress. Then she comments about her nutrition. “I’m so tied up with guests and dining out, but next week everyone will be gone and I’ll be able to start my diet.” I lift my eyebrow and give her my typical quizzical stare. “You know how it is. You don’t want to offend anyone by not eating what they serve,” she responds. “How convenient,” I think to myself.

How would you like to lose five to ten pounds a week without changing your diet. In addition, you never have to worry about where you are, who you’re with, or what you’re eating. I have the diet for you and you don’t have to pay too much for it. Just stay on my diet plan and I’ll have you seeing results in 30 days and you’ll feel better than ever. All you need to do is eat whatever you want and only exercise for 30 minutes s day. If you don’t have time to get in that exercise, don’t worry, you can take a little break and start back up when the time’s right for you. Just take one super pill a day to keep you on track while you take a little vacation and you’ll be fine.  Tell your friends about this brand new diet called, The Sham Diet.

What does South Beach, Atkins, Low carb, Nutrisystem, WeightWatchers, smoothies, cabbage, and even the Sham Diet all have in common? A lot, but one thing’s for sure; They’re all convenient. They give you the ability to start, stop, and start again whenever you want.  As Americans, we all want convenience in every aspect of our lives. From Netflix subscriptions to reading the NY Times on a Kindle, we want to be able to know that when we’re satisfied, we can take a little break and then come back to it at any time. These diets also boast big results within a short time frame. We love the quick fixes. We want to do as little as possible and still expect the same results. Remember the time when you actually had to vacuum the house yourself? Now we just turn on little Roomba and relax on a couch with a diet Coke. Diets have followed the same suit and has become outrageously unpractical, but people will do anything to reach their goals to look better for beach season or a long awaited cruise. Some might even take up my diet in hopes that it will work. Lose those few extra pounds to make it through the summer then we’re back to Wendy’s for a late night Frosty.

All the diets, including the Sham Diet have one flaw; they don’t work if you fall outside of their guidelines. Even the Sham diet that says that you can still lose weight just by taking a pill can give you false hope if you skip a dose. The other problem that my client ran into is believing that the only way to lose weight was to follow a fad diet. Whatever the product, all fads expect you to do one thing; follow their advice. We believe that we can’t look good unless we are decked out with the latest fashion fad, or we aren’t doing something right if we don’t own a smart phone. What happened to washing your car by hand? Too time consuming, however it might keep your car looking newer than the car wash (how many times have you gone through the car wash and come out on the other side with bugs still plastered to your front bumper?).

So, let’s stop with the excuses and the whining when you’re not seeing your mid-section get any smaller. Be accountable for what you’re putting into your body as well as what you’re doing to burn off what you ate.  Stop making up excuses for not eating well yesterday or this weekend. Know that you’re going to fall off track once in a while and have the honesty and courage to admit that you did it. Then fix the problem by working a little hard to put yourself back on track, and continue improving your health. There is nothing convenient about your health. Your body doesn’t wait for you to come back from vacation or the weekend to start processing what you eat. If you eat it, you’re going to have to burn it. Yes, you have to move to burn anything that you eat. If you eat a lot, you have to move a lot. This also will take time. You didn’t put on your weight overnight. It takes half the time to put on weight as it does to lose weight. If you know you’re going to eat poorly because you have an unavoidable situation, give yourself options. Either eat a smaller portion, get a little more physical activity in the days leading up, or do both! It’s that simple ladies and gentlemen. Don’t fall for the shams and believe that you have to follow a specific restriction diet. Count everything you eat; don’t lie just to satisfy yourself. Your body will still know that it had a burger and a beer over the weekend. Don’t tell yourself that you’ll start tomorrow. Start yesterday.

References:
Weight-Control Information Network
WebMD – Weight Loss Myths




The 3-0 Challenge

2 05 2012

As the final hours of the second decade of my life quickly fade into history, I pause for a moment to review what I have accomplished in the last twenty-nine years. Then I scope out what I still need to work on to continue staying healthy as my body begins to fight against me. Literature states that your body’s performance peeks in your twenties and begins to level off once you hit the big 3-0. This translates into, “work harder or work longer to achieve your goals.” I also know that my body will need more time to recover after workouts (those all-nighters before a hard workout are pretty much over). As long as I can keep stimulating my muscles with cardio and resistance training my metabolism will still be high enough to burn my meals. Yet when it comes to meals I will have to change accordingly just like I did when I went from my teens into my twenties. This is a common mistake that many people make because they’re so accustomed to their old diets.

This is the age where you know that you’re either cut out for the pros or not. For 99% of us who are not cut out to be an elite athlete, we must focus our workouts on what matters the most: longevity. Ladies, if you want to tighten up your tush, tummy, and thighs, you have to change it up after you hit 30 years. So do the men. Your body’s changing, so why aren’t your workouts?  For all who are about to take the big leap into the next installment of their lives, here is a workout for you to make that seamless transition. And if you’re a veteran of this age, you can still do it to challenge your core stabilizers and continue to improve your health. If you are still rocking the teens and twenties, try this workout too. Before starting any new workout plan, remember to always consult your physician if you have any medical conditions or haven’t been exercising within the past three months.

The 30 Year Old Challenge
This workout uses functional movements to target commonly missed areas to give you a body that will transcend well past your thirties. You will run through the exercises in a circuit. Perform each exercise for 30 seconds, moving from one exercise to the next. Rest for 2 minutes before starting back at the top and doing another round. Complete 3 rounds total.

1. Squat to Rotational Press
Starting in a squat with a weight in your hands, lower your weight to one side just outside your knees. Then press with your heels and stand up, while rotating your body to the other side and press the weight overhead. Switch to the other side for the next 30 seconds.

2. Normal/Narrow Pushups
Start in a pushup position (you can modify it by using your knees) with your  hands placed a little wider than  shoulder width. Perform a pushup and then move your hands to shoulder width and perform a push up with your elbows close to your side.

3. Lunge with Twist
Start in a long staggered stance. Place a weight in your hands and keep your elbows bent at a 90° angle. Drop your back knee down into a lunge and stop before your back knee touches the ground, forming a right angle with your front knee. Rotate the ball and your torso to the side of  your front knee. Make the movement come from your abs and obliques. Rotate back and push with your front quads to stand back up. Stay on the same side for 30 seconds then switch sides.

4. 1 Arm High Row with Knee Lift
Place a handle to a pulley machine and adjust the pulley to the top setting. In a staggered stance with your right hand on the handle and your left foot back, pull the handle to the side of your chest while lifting the back knee forward and up to hip level. Return your hand and leg back in a controlled movement. Stay on the same side for 30 seconds then switch sides.

5. Plank with Hip Drop 
Place your forearms on the mat with your elbows under your shoulders. Keep your body in a straight line and raise your hips and knees off the mat. (Place your legs apart wider to make it easier.) Then drop your hip to one side and touch the mat. Bring your hips back up and drop down to the other side.

6.  Pushup to 1 Leg Stand
Start in a 1 legged standing position. Bend forward and drop your hands to the ground while staying on 1 leg. Lower yourself down into a pushup and explode back up to a 1 leg stand. Switch leg after 30 seconds.

7. Incline Bench Superman’s
Lie on your stomach on an incline bench. Place your arms by your side with your fingers pointed up. Without lifting your chest, extend your arms straight up slowly and return back slowly.

8. Crossover Lunges
Start in a standing position. Cross one leg behind the other and drop down into a lunge while extending the back leg to the side. Tap your back foot on the floor then push yourself back up with your front leg to a standing position. Perform one side for 30 seconds then switch sides.

9. Quadrupeds
Position yourself on all fours on the mat. Keeping your abs, glutes, and back tight, extend one arm straight out while extending the opposite leg behind you. Return to start and switch sides.

10. Side Planks
Lie on your side and stack your legs on top of each other. Place your bottom elbow under your shoulder and forearm on the floor. Lift your hips and knees off the floor. To modify, bend your bottom leg behind you at the knee. Hold for 30 seconds then switch sides.








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