Posted by | Posted in Daily | Posted on Tuesday, September 22, 2009
These past few months, I've read some interesting comments from readers who feel there method of eating and fitness is the only way to go. I'm sure you've heard of them before. Those that don't eat carbs … those that stay away from fat … those that eat and drink an enormous amount of protein … those that don't exercise ever … those that exercise way too much, those that only exercise with slow movements, etc. You know what I've realized. All of these schools of thought are extreme. Out of all of these, I bet you can guess which one really gets to me. That's right, low-carb eating. I have to say, of all the comments I receive, those that leave comments in support of low-carb eating are the most mean-spirited. I never have understood why the people who leave these comments seem to want to start a fight over why their way of eating is the best way to eat. Then it dawned on me – with all the extreme ideas in fitness, low-carb eating is just one of them.
My feeling is, and I've seen this from first-hand experience with clients, extreme fitness concepts never work. Sure, they may bring quick results, but I've never seen lasting results. Why is that? I think it's because extreme concepts are not easy to live by. It's easy to pump yourself up for a few months of following an extreme dieting and workout plan, but the majority of us will start to fizzle out. That's not necessarily a bad thing. If the body is overtrained, it's defense mechanism is to fizzle out before serious damage results. Same with the other extreme fitness and diet approaches. The mind and body have a hard time staying in an extreme state, and as a result, you start to lose accountability and drive to continue.
My conclusions … just stay consistent and balanced. Instead of working out until you pass out, try consistently performing moderate-level workouts your body and mind can handle. Instead of trying to eat no carbs, no fat, or no sugar, make smarter chooses in what you do eat and try for a balanced approach instead of an extreme approach. Not only is a balanced approach a more natural way of living, it will also lead to a mind and body that is more consistent and accountable, and it will help prevent you from stressing out so much about trying to live on the extreme side of some concept in diet and exercise. I'm sure I'll still get heated comments/feedback from the extreme wellness individuals, but oh well.
Posted by | Posted in Nutrition | Posted on Tuesday, June 16, 2009
This past weekend, family was in town, and as a result, we ate out almost every meal. My wife and I have never really been big on eating out, and after this weekend of eating, I’m glad we’re not. It’s not that I didn’t have fun going to different restaurants this weekend, or that I don’t like restaurant food. The problem is that sometimes I tend to like restaurant food too much. I’m not going to lie, when a big juicy steak is sitting in front of me on a plate, I’m going to eat the whole thing. My willpower isn’t always the greatest because even though I know I should take some of my meal home for leftovers, I don’t always do it. I’m typically pretty good at taking Italian home in a doggy bag, but that’s about it.
What’s the point to all this?
This past weekend showed me why a lot of people struggle with weight loss. As our society continues to become busier and busier, the amount of home-cooked meals around the dinner table keeps getting less and less. It’s no secret the portion sizes at restaurants are getting bigger … way too much for one sitting.
Your body can be seen as a funnel. If you take a bucket of water and pour it into the funnel at one time, what happens? The funnel can’t process that much water at one time, and it overflows on the sides. The same thing goes with our bodies. If we eat too many calories at one time, our bodies can’t process that many calories fast enough and there’s an overflow with the overflow being the storage of excess body fat in our problem areas. The way to prevent this overflow is to eat smaller, more frequent portions. Or, in the case of the funnel, pour a little water in the funnel, let it process through, and pour a little more in. Eating the majority of your calories in one sitting (eating at a restaurant) leads to the storage of excess body fat. If you space your calories into smaller meals throughout the day, you help combat the storage of excess body fat.
My suggestion before has been that when you go out to eat, before you even start eating, put half of your meal into a box to take home. I’ve realized this is easier said than done. Many restaurants put endless warm rolls and butter, breadsticks, salads, or chips and dip in front of you, and it can be very hard to “box these up”. With many restaurants, you can eat over a 1000 calories as a result of all the “complimentary” food that comes before you actually get the meal you’ve ordered! A poor willpower can get the best of anyone when all this great looking food is in front of you.
Here’s the challenge.
Instead of trying to box your meals up at restaurants this summer, try increasing the number of meals you eat at home. These should be good, old-fashioned home-cooked meals, not bringing a bucket of chicken home for the family to enjoy. Grill some chicken on the grill, bake some fish, whatever it is, you will have a lot more control on the portion sizes because you’re making it. Willpower won’t be as big of an issue, and as a result of smaller portions, you’ll still have some great tasting food, you’ll still be around the family, you’ll still be full without feeling you’re going to burst after the meal, but most importantly, you’ll prevent yourself from consuming too many calories at one time.
Posted by | Posted in Exercise | Posted on Thursday, June 4, 2009
Setting a goal for where you want to be health-wise is an important step in developing an overall healthier lifestyle. Many different attributes can contribute to this overall sense of well-being, but it is only after implementing these new procedures daily that you will begin to notice a difference, physically and mentally. It is amazing what just a few simple lifestyle changes can do to your body image and health.
Coming up with a daily exercise routine is an essential part of boosting your own self-confidence as well as feeling more energized. Starting off with a simple cardio workout and building up your endurance over the weeks is an easy way in which to achieve your daily exercise as well as feel healthier. Taking walks around the neighborhood or even going to a nearby park makes a world of difference to your body, especially when it is accustomed to sitting inside an office all day. Once you become used to this smaller amount of exercise, you can enhance it by jogging or even running for a set amount of time every day. After a few weeks, you should notice substantial results which should help you continue your workout routine.
Summer months present the best time for a new change in lifestyle because of the amount of outdoor activities which you can participate in. Outdoor sports on the weekends or even lap swimming at neighborhood pools are great ways in which to enjoy the summertime and still keep up a healthy way of life. If cardio workouts become boring to you, you might want to look into outdoor activities which your community offers. Many towns now have biking trails on which to ride for a few miles in a natural part of the town, and there are also many intramural teams that you can join to put yourself in more of a sports setting. It is always important to vary your workout routine so that it does not become tiring to get stuck doing the same things every day; it can lead to a hesitance to work out when you are on the same trail.
Keeping up with a daily exercise routine will increase your overall happiness with your life because of the large difference a bit of exercise makes in the long run. Your entire body will feel healthy, from your skin to your muscles and the added bonus of involving yourself with outdoor activities causes more vitamin D to be added to your life which is always an energy booster. By monitoring your food intake at the same time, you will be ready to go for summer weather and will be able to continue this type of habit for months to come.
This post was contributed by Nicole White, who writes about masters of health care degree. She welcomes your feedback at Nicole.White222 at gmail.com
Posted by | Posted in Guests | Posted on Thursday, May 7, 2009
While working out and eating right are certainly the basics of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, understanding your body chemistry and how it relates to your fitness level is of crucial importance.
Your Body’s pH
The specific chemistry of your body is unique and complicated, but without getting deep into scientific jargon and spending hours trying to understand what it means let’s look at one crucial area that many ‘fit’ people tend to overlook: your body’s pH.
What is pH?
pH, in layman’s terms, is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution, and the concept was introduced by Danish chemist Søren Peder Lauritz Sørensen at the Carlsberg Laboratory in 1909. The measurements are taken on a scale ranging from 1 to 14, with pure water falling smack dab in the middle at 7, as neutral. The specifics are, as you might expect, very complicated. But pH can also be measured in regards to your own body and its fluids. The test is simple and it can tell you a lot about your true fitness level.
Why should you care?
Research over the past few decades indicates that the pH of your body may affect it in ways that we never before dreamed. In fact, your body’s pH may not only affect the way you feel and how well your organs perform, but it may be a significant factor in determining how well your body fights off disease.
Alkaline vs. Acidic
The basic rule of thumb to follow, and the main thing you need to remember when it comes to pH, is that your body chemistry is designed to operate at maximum when it is slightly alkaline. In order to understand specifically ‘why’ requires either an elaborate explanation, or a degree in chemistry and biology, so in the interests of keeping things simple let’s just skip the ‘why’ of alkalinity and focus on the ‘how.’
Incidentally if you are seriously interested in understanding the ‘why’ try the following link to a PDF file published by the University of Rhode Island: http://www.uri.edu/ce/wq/ww/Publications/pH&alkalinity.pdf
So what affects your body’s pH level? A good question with a semi-complicated answer, but in short there are many factors, like how often you exercise to how high your stress level is, which affect your bodies chemistry. But the main thing that affects it is your diet.
The Foods You Eat
As your body processes the foods you eat, each one has a very specific way that it affects your body in terms of its pH. For example, any meats or animal products will tend to have an acidifying effect on the body. Green foods, like spinach or celery, will have an alkalizing effect. Remember, you body prefers to be alkaline, so you want to focus on the foods that encourage your body to move its pH in that direction. The goal isn’t to only eat alkaline foods, but to balance your diet so that you are consuming slightly more alkaline foods. For a list of foods and their alkalinity check out these pages:
All Things in Moderation
Remember the goal isn’t to eliminate all acidic foods, but to follow the age old adage that reminds us that ‘moderation is the key,’ and balance what we eat. In terms of your body’s pH, following this simple rule could mean the difference between struggling to stay healthy and easily focusing on the right things that will maintain your body at its peak performance.
This post was contributed by Alisa Johnson, who writes about the online nursing schools. She welcomes your feedback at Alisa.Johnson1982 at gmail.com
Posted by | Posted in Nutrition | Posted on Thursday, April 30, 2009
I recently read a shocking statistic in The London Free Press that said North American women suffer hip fractures six times more often than women living in some Asian countries. What’s even more shocking is that North American women consume an average of 1,000 mg of calcium per day, as compared to less than 500 mg per day consumed by women in these Asian countries.
Osteoporosis plays a big role in these fractures because those who suffer from osteoporosis are plagued by fragile bones that are at an increased risk for fractures, especially in the hips, vertebrae, and hips. The London Free Press also reported an estimated 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men older than 55 will be affected by this disease.
The problem is as you can see above, getting a lot of calcium isn’t always a sufficient way for preventing osteoporosis. Why is that? Other than maintaining the structure of our body, our bones are also crucial in maintaining the correct pH level of our blood. The pH level is what determines if our blood is acidic or basic. A pH level of 7 is considered neutral, and our blood is a little on the basic side with a pH of 7.4. (Less than 7 is more on the acidic side.)
How does all this relate to osteoporosis?
For a person that eats a lot of red meat, the amino acids that make up the protein in the meat cause our blood to become more acidic. Acidic blood leads to all kinds of problems, and to neutralize this problem as quick as possible, our bones release some of their calcium to reduce the acidity of the blood and bring it back to a pH of 7.4. As with North American women who get 500 mg of calcium per day more than women in some Asian countries, getting more calcium in your diet doesn’t always mean you’re doing enough to prevent osteoporosis. If you’re blood is acidic, that calcium can still be used for neutralizing your blood as opposed to strengthening your bones.
Other than reducing your red meat intake, another step you can take to reduce your risk of osteoporosis is to eat your fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables have the opposite effect on blood as compared to red meat. They actually help keep the blood at its slightly basic pH level. This means they help reduce the excretion of calcium out of the bones because they step in and use themselves to neutralize acidic blood instead. Another benefit of vegetables is that dark green, leafy choices are a good source of Vitamin K (promotes bone formation and integrity). And while we’re on this strong bones kick, regularly getting out in the sun for a little bit is a good thing because sunlight helps the body produce vitamin D. Vitamin D helps maintain bone integrity by taking calcium out of the food we eat and absorbing it into the blood.
Hmm … “Eat your fruits and vegetables.” It looks like mom was right after all … .
Posted by | Posted in Nutrition | Posted on Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Though I’m not a vegetarian, there are still steps I take to watch the quality of meat I eat. For one, my wife and I choose turkey over ground beef. One thing you must be careful about with turkey is that just because it’s turkey doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Pay attention to the fat quality of the turkey. For example, if you buy ground turkey at the store, make sure it’s a lean option (85/15 is not a lean option). Another choice my wife and I have made is to eat a lot of chicken. Again, watch the fat content. Trim the visible fat away from the chicken before eating it, and I know this is gross, but if you happen to eat a little fat, and notice it, spit it out! There’s no shame in not wanting to eat excess fat. So turkey and chicken … these two choices can be a big help in helping you avoid overeating red meat.
Now, for those of you who can’t even dream of eating either of these, I’m assuming you’re probably a vegetarian. A vegetarian diet isn’t something that should be looked at as strange, but realize they can be very dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. Striving to eat a salad everyday is not exactly a good vegetarian diet, but when planned right, a vegetarian diet can be a well-balanced diet. A lot of times, vegetarian diets are high in fiber, low in cholesterol, and low in saturated fats. Fiber is one problem a lot of non-vegetarian eaters struggle with. Fiber helps you feel fuller, longer, and it also helps control blood sugar levels. Both of these qualities are very important for maintaining a healthy weight.
Two important nutrients that can be a struggle to get in a vegetarian diet are protein and iron. Both are found in meat, but cut that out, and you’re left to figure out other sources. Grains, seeds, nuts, and legumes are a great source of protein. Fruits and vegetables can be another great source as well. Since many vegetarian options don’t have much iron, you most likely will need to get it from fortified cereals, breads, pastas, and rice.
Calcium is another nutrient to be aware of. Leafy greens, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and navy beans are a great source to help prevent osteoporosis.
The important thing is that if you’re considering a vegetarian diet, don’t just jump into it by thinking all you need to do is eat vegetables. A healthy vegetarian diet takes a lot of research and effort to be a success, so make sure you do your due diligence before starting one. If you do, your body will definitely thank you.
Posted by | Posted in Mental Health | Posted on Friday, April 17, 2009
Life can be crazy. Sometimes, things that are necessary, but we don’t like to do, get pushed to the back burner, and one of those that’s common for most people is exercise. You know the benefits of it, and maybe you even want to exercise, but when faced with the choice between sweating it out for 30 minutes to an hour vs. hanging out with friends, reality is that many will choose friends.
Why are we accountable to keeping appointments with friends but not ourselves? I think some of it has to do with the fact that if we say no to a friend, we fear we may come across as a non-committed friend. If we say no to ourselves, no one knows but us, so what’s the big deal? Right? Well, obviously, it is a big deal to never exercise, but it’s very easy to justify skipping out on it since no one has to know whether you workout at home, in a gym, or at work. Do you exercise? Do I exercise? See, now I got you thinking. Don’t worry, I do exercise, but that’s my point. Exercise doesn’t have to be a public event for you and because of that, the only one you’re accountable to is yourself.
How do we change that?
Well, for starters, hiring a trainer is a great way to stay accountable. If you do that, now you’ve taken the accountability and shifted it from inside yourself to someone else. Now, you’re accountable to another person … and none of us like to let someone else down. Ourselves … it’s easy to let ourselves down, but we never dare do it to someone else. Do you agree? A trainer can be seen as a coach. What does a coach do. A coach makes sure you show up to practice. A coach pushes you more than you will push yourself. A coach gives you feedback to make you better. A coach is necessary for anything if you want to excel at it. A better business, a star in sports, an amazing performer in the arts, everyone needs a coach to be the best they can be at what they’re striving for.
What if you can’t afford a trainer? How about a workout buddy? You want to choose a workout buddy that shares your passion/seriousness for exercise and better health. If you try and workout with someone because they’re your close friend but could care less about their health, then that most likely is going to bomb for you. A workout partner who is committed will help you stay accountable to getting out of bed in the morning and meeting for exercise. You’ll be able to feed off of each other’s energy and stay motivated to get fit.
Journaling is another way to stay accountable. Studies show that those who journal their fitness progress are more likely to stick with it. Writing down what you did for the day and how it went creates a sense of accountability to a piece of paper. So journaling, not a bad idea if you don’t have any friends.
Another one that has worked for my clients is the old picture or old piece of clothing. For those that are visual learners, having that old photo of what you used to look like next to your computer can really inspire you to make a change. Or hanging the old pair of pants or dress next to the bedroom door can motivate you to try and fit back into them. These things can be seen as your trophy. Your reward for finishing the competition that’s going on inside your head doesn’t have to be a gold-plated trophy. It can be a pair of pants or looking like an old photo.
Checklists are another great tool. Plan out what you want to do for the week. Maybe you’re plan is to workout 3 days per week, eat five meals everyday, drink 10 glasses of water per day, and stretch 3 times per week. Write all that out for everyday you plan to accomplish it. Once the day is over, check off everything you did. At the end of the week, tally the checkmarks and see if you hit your goals. If not, start again the next week and shoot for more realistic goals that will push you to succeed and achieve.
Something that works for me is registering for a race. If I’m registered to run a marathon, now I’m really accountable to training because if I don’t, I’m going to have the worst race of my life as I struggle to make it 26.2 miles without being in shape. It doesn’t have to be a marathon. If you enjoy running, maybe it’s a 5K. If you don’t enjoy running, maybe it’s a Biggest Loser-type competition at work. Entering some sort of contest is a great way to keep you consistent because the inevitable day of competition/”moment of truth” is looming around the corner, and if you’re not ready for it, it’s going to come up and bite you.
Posted by | Posted in Daily | Posted on Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Here's one of those short posts I was talking about. I love it when I find great content to share with others!
Posted by | Posted in Guests | Posted on Thursday, April 9, 2009
This post was recently brought to my attention, and as the title says, the content is very relative for a lot of us and very informative.
I'm going to be honest, I realize the frequency of posts has dwindled the last few weeks. My apologies. Even though the days are technically getting longer, they seem like they're getting shorter and shorter. I hope to get back on track by the end of next week, but in the meantime, I'll try my best to keep the information coming … even if it is short or from guests.
Anyway, make sure to check out this guest content because it has some high-quality info. Until next time!