Monday, February 24, 2014

"Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
- Jillian Michaels

Nutrition - A Recommended Diet

Of  our three pillars of heath and fitness, namely Exercise, Sleep, and now, Nutrition, lets see what make sense.  Pick up almost any magazine or newspaper and you'll see many, many,
diet recommendations.  Why do so many people look to diet as a means of loosing weight? Well, exercise alone is a poor method of loosing our "pot" bellies.  If one eats the wrong foods, or too much of most any food (s), you'll pack on the pounds.  If you only diet without exercising, you can lose weight but you'll also loose muscle.  That's a no-no for a fitness buff. 

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What really matters is not so much what one weighs but what the composition of the person's body is. There are percentages of fat, muscle, etc. that are recommended.  Much more information can be found at Monica Mollica's address:  Monica is a nationally recognized expert on nutrition and exemplifies her appearance on the bodybuilder physique that she so successfully displays. The article she wrote is quite lengthy so you might want to go to the Summery at the end of her composition.  

So let's see what makes for a healthy diet.  For any diet to be successfully followed, it should not be too rigid or complicated in it's structure.  It should allow for good nutritional value, few if any saturated fats, no trans fats, sweets (pastry, bagels, surgery products), with much more fresh fruit and vegetables than most dieters eat.  A quick rule of thumb is "If it has a mother or if it comes from the earth, it's OK to eat."  Read the labels as they are of considerable help in determining the food's nutritional content.

After considering the present knowledge of healthful diets, I would recommend the Mediterranean Diet and to get a good perspective of how it works, look at one of it's locations, the Mayo Clinic. The address at the Mayo Clinic Mediterranean Diet is:

Mayo Clinic gives an excellent description and help in playing and using the Mediterranean Diet. Now, after reading all of the above, how about a Snicker's Candy Bar?

Monday, February 17, 2014

"Getting fit is all about mind over matter. I don't mind, so it doesn't matter.” 
― Adam HargreavesMr Lazy's Guide To Fitness

The Fitness World - An Author's Opinion

Although almost everything we think and speak about seems to have political overtones.  Even health, fitness, and medical care are influenced by the gentlemen and ladies in Washington, D.C.
In the "good old days" you could pick your doctor and consider his treatment plan for any of your medical problems.  What happened to the "doctor-patient" relationship?  The choice of treatment was not influenced by those unrelated to your own care.  

In the "good old days" you could study medicine if you had the brains, attitude and endurance to go through a rigorous training period for many years.  After "paying your dues," you opened your practice and if you were a good doctor, medically, and appealed to your patients via your knowledge and personality. you could make a good living.  Under Obamacare, the doctor's will get fees so low that the responsibilities and expenses for insurance, help, and tending to additional paper work are leading them towards earlier retirement.  Additionally, fewer gifted students will enter the medical fields and our care will be from secondary helpers.

Enter the insurance business, the anointed ones in Washington, and all the rules and stipulations they bring to the playing field, the medical professionals become almost secondary in the doctor-patient relationship.  There has to be some balance in our medical care and a real world of agreement between all parties involved. As things stands now, hope and change should be, "Let's hope that all parties in the health care field are consulted, that all the three branches of our government are involved and that our Constitution be closely followed. We have to change back to the concept that government is subservient to the welfare of the populace. If we are to have medical care, then all citizens should be on the same plan.   That includes all federal employees and the government.  This is not a socialistic country as we became the greatest and most productive people by free enterprise and not by government control.  

If we find that our medical care will be reduced in the quality of care we receive, it is of utmost importance that fitness becomes a major factor in our lives.  We have to prepare ourselves to be more cognizant of nutrition, exercise, and rest (sleep).  The previous and forthcoming articles published in this blog are all related to that cause.

Listed below are sources of information on various health subjects that you could find useful.
In matters of disease, treatment, and help, you can go online and search at the Mayo Clinic, The Cleveland Clinic, and there are other very qualified groups to answer your questions.

Sources of Information on Various Health Subjects

Journal of Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism:

Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism:

National Institutes of Health Office of dietary supplements

Proceedings of the nutrition society:

NOTE:  In reading some of the more technical articles, go to the "Conclusion" and see the author's condensation of his (their) research.  This will save you time, and reduce the frustration in trying to understand what really matters.

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Monday, February 10, 2014

"Time and health are two precious assets that we don't recognize
and appreciate until they have been depleted."
- Denis Waitley

What Happens During Sleep?

As the afternoon wears on, we realize that in a few more hours it will be sleep time.  After all, we either get up early to take the kids to school, go to work, shop for food, clothes or whatever and however we spend the day.  It all requires energy and, like your cell phone, it needs charging at night.  So sleep time is when your body rests and restores its energy levels.  It is a state that affects both your physical and mental well-being. If you've had a good night's sleep, you'll feel ready to do the things that fill your day with activity and have enough energy left over to spend with your family or talk to friends.  Let's look at what sleep involves and learn a little bit about it's four stages.

Stage 1.  Sleep studies show a reduction in activity between wakefulness and stage 1 sleep.  The eyes are closed but the depth of sleep is such that if one is awakened, it is early sleep and the person may feel as if he or she has not slept.  This period may last for five to 10 minutes.

Stage 2.  Studies at this time now show intermittent peaks and valleys, and the waves and either positive or negative.  There are spontaneous periods of increased muscle tone mixed with periods of muscle relaxation.  Also, the heart rate slows and the body temperature decreases.  When this happens, the body prepares to enter deep sleep.

Stage 3 and 4. The brain waves are known as slow or delta wave sleep.  If awakened in these stages one may feel disoriented for a few minutes.  Most of the beneficial effects of sleep can be found in stage three and four.  As sleep deepens and becomes more intense, it progresses to stage 4.  After about 90 minutes from entering the sleeping stages, REM sleep follows for about 10 minutes.  Each REM recurring deepens and lengthens so that as it progresses, sleep is more intense.

Stage 3 is characterized by the release of the human growth hormone, or HGH.  Blood rushes from the brain to the muscles to initiate recovery and to re-energize your body. Up to 70% or the production of HGH may occur in stage three and this is also when the immune function and normal glucose metabolism is supported.

Stage 4 is also know as "rapid-eye-movement sleep" or REM. This is when we dream, our arms and legs are still, and the total body seems paralyzed.  It is also when the sleep is associated with learning and memory retention. The body repairs and regenerates tissues, builds muscle and bone, and strengthens the immune system. The day's information is kind of like a computer uploading information and clearing its RAM onto the hard drive.  

Some of the important benefits of slow-wave sleep are:
  • HGH is produced and if you want to get stronger and faster, then you need your body to maximize the natural production of HGH.  If sleep is not adequate in time or depth or if exercise is not intense enough to make changes, there will be little HGH produced.
  • There is a suppression of cortisol.  Cortisol helps the body cope with the stress of daily life. When there are high levels of cortisol in the night it helps to create insulin resistance and this is linked to disorders such as Type 2 diabetes, as well as memory loss and cognitive impairment.  This process will throw off your body's ability to process glucose throughout the day.
  • There is a suppression of  the sympathetic nervous system in favor of the parasympathetic nervous system.  The sympathetic nervous system is what is activated under stress, whereas the parasympathetic nervous system is what the body activates to recover and recuperate.  
  • Release of prolactin, which is necessary for proper immune system function.
  • A good night's sleep is often the best way to help you cope with stress, solve problems or recover from illness.
Summarized; insufficient REM sleep has a negative impact on the brain as a whole and causes it to function abnormally.  Therefore, Get your sleep.......ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!

Monday, February 3, 2014

"Motivation is What Gets You Started, Habit is What Keeps You Going!"

Sleep: Another Pillar in Healthful Living

Exercise is the  process of fatiguing the muscles to the point of failure.  Failure in  this case means you cannot do another full repetition of the exercise you're working on.  It also means that you can't even do a part of a repetition; you can't budge the weight (start the movement).  The outcome of this is a catabolic result.  It includes minute tearing of some of the muscle fibers, some minute bleeding may occur and some byproducts are produced.  Some lactic acid, and other breakdown matter are the result of exercising and if you are doing the exercising with high intensity training (HIT) the more tear down results.  Catabolism is the destructive metabolism involving the release of energy and resulting in the breakdown of complex materials.  

The next step is to rebuild the muscle tissue to a newer, healthier condition.  The healed muscles are now stronger, leaner, and enlarged and, although you may not notice the change occurring, it does restore itself if you give the muscles nutrition and rest.  Rest should include sleep for about eight hours without interruption.  

While occasional restless nights are normal, prolonged insomnia can interfere with daytime function, accidents, headaches, and depression.  Surveys indicate that 50% of people suffer from sleep difficulties, and 20 - 36% of them struggle with such difficulties for at least 1 year.  Some studies show that one person out of three in the United States has insomnia, but only 20% tell their doctor about it. 

Signs of insomnia may include:
  • Not feeling refreshed after sleep
  • Inability to sleep despite being tired
  • Daytime drowsiness, fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and impaired ability to perform normal activities
  • Anxiety as bedtime approaches
  • Tension headaches
A common term in referring to sleep is the Circadian Rhythm.  It amounts to an internal clock that governs the timing of sleep, hormone production body temperature, and other functions. If you want to improve your sleep pattern you have to develop your sleep time so that it allows you to meet the demands of a desired lifestyle.  It should be compatible with your own circadian rhythm. 

Therapy combines proper sleep hygiene techniques, and considering factors such as lighting in the sleeping quarters, noise, work schedules, traveling to different time zones, age, gender (women are more likely to have insomnia than men), stressful and/or traumatic events, substance abuse, asthma (bronchodilators occasionally cause insomnia), and the amount and quality of exercise as in a sedentary lifestyle (i.e., the couch potato).  If you do exercise strenuously before sleep, your body will probably be "hyped up" and affect your the soundness and quality of your sleep.

As there are many causes of poor sleep you may wish to use the National Sleep Foundation and the American Sleep Association as references to any matter you may have regarding sleep. Sometimes a visit to a sleep doctor is advisable as they specialize in diagnosing and treating sleep problems and your internist or family doctor could recommend one.