Sunday, August 19, 2012

Weight Loss and Good Health

I want to talk about the effect that stress and sleep deprivation may have on your weight. I spent the last six years of my life in Los Angeles partaking in the âRat Raceâ. Two things I discovered: only rats win the rat race and stress can play havoc on you emotionally, spiritually and physically. This stress can lead to weight gain and what is worse if you are trying to lose weight while you are stressed out or fatigued you will not gain any ground.
The reason is a little stress chemical called Cortisol. Cortisol aids the body in recovering from the effects of stressful experiences. Cortisol instructs the liver to release sugar into the blood and triggers the body to release storehouses of fat and muscle so the body can use it for energy. There is another piece to the cortisol puzzle and that is is also slows everything down so the body can replenish energy stores.
We all have cortisol circulating in the blood at all times. But after stressful situations our cortisol levels increase dramatically. So letâs say for instance you are experiencing a constant stream of stressful situations. After enough of these episodes, the body adjusts its control mechanism in the pituitary gland to maintain a higher constant amount of cortisol in the body. Continually elevated levels of cortisol can have long-term health effects including but not limited to weight gain, heart disease, ulcers, insulin resistance, and hypertension.
While cortisol may have served us well while we were a bunch of knuckle dragging Neanderthals fighting for our lives, 21st century living for the most part has kept us from facing daily life threatening situations. Unfortunately for most of us we have replaced those threats of the past with screaming bosses, unruly children and unreasonable partners all which can cause elevated levels of cortisol to be delivered into our bodies.
Stress is determined by what an individual perceives as stressful. The answer to balance lies in not taking things personally and finding ways to relax the mind and body. There have been many infomercials and advertisements touting the benefits of their âsnake oilâ to lower cortisol levels. Let me assure you, none of these claims are true and some of these marketers of these products are now facing indictments and large civil lawsuits.
After talking with several physicians the answer is always the same, manage your physical and emotional stress levels. This can be achieved through, meditation, massage, long walks, deep breathing exercises, Yoga, Tai Chi, basically anything relaxing and of course spending time with people who comfort you. By practicing these relaxation methods you will be able to bring your cortisol levels down. This coupled with a healthy balanced diet and exercise will result in a long life and slim physique.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Kick Your Body Into 2nd Gear

When it comes to life in general, 90% of us feel the need to lose weight or change the way we look in some way.
Once weâEUR(TM)ve undertaken our fitness quest for weight loss or hypertrophy, usually after the first week or two we find that the energy required to do so is becoming harder and harder to conjure. Usually, these physiological changes leave our bodies craving for the fuel needed to perform these transformations. In this article i'll show you exactly how to get the energy your body requires and how to kick your body into 2nd gear.
What do I need to keep the pace up?
When it comes to gearing our bodies to perform at higher than average energy levels, firstly it takes time. Time requires patience, which is a virtue in itself. It also requires a strong belief in what you're setting out to do.
Here are the 3 things you need to change for optimal energy.
1. Sleep
The first and most important of them all is sleep. It is during our sleeping hours that the body does the vast majority of its repairing. Usually, the first 4 to 5 hours of sleep are spent repairing the bodies neural systems and pathways.
The last 4 hours are spent knitting worked muscles, and replenishing glucose stores for the next days activities, which, remember, are going to be higher than usual.
Based on this first step, if your not getting at least 7 to 8 hours sleep every night, your body is eating into its energy stores and before long, you will find yourself with not enough energy to carry out your program, and once your mental stubbornness wears down, you will loose the will to want to do it in the first place and youâEUR(TM)ll revert to your previous habits.
The easiest way around this problem is to get regular, high quality sleep. Make it a priority equal to and above going to the gym.
2. Nutrition
The second step to gearing your body towards performance is nutrition. Eating right is vital to maintaining a program, especially for those of you who are participating in weight programs where the end goal is hypertrophy.
Your intake of food should be regular and healthy. Get as much fresh meat and vegetables as you can manage and stay away from processed foods wherever possible.
When writing nutritional plans for clients, I like to suggest a minimum of 5 meals a day. Beginning with breakfast as the largest meal of the day, and tapering down food portions accordingly, all the way to dinner.
Remember that it takes time and patience to get your body used to eating large meals early if it's not something youâEUR(TM)ve been doing for a while. Eating regular, complete meals will encourage your body not only to grow, but also to shed fat, as fat is only there as an emergency source of energy for your body.
Contrary to what the media will have you believe, the way to loose fat is not by starving yourself, but by feeing yourself healthy meals regularly -- every 2 hours!
By doing this, your body will think that you're living in a time of food aplenty, and holding fat will do nothing but hold you back. If you want to gain weight without putting on pounds of fat in the process, simply eat this way and stay away from processed foods and sweets. Chocolate tastes great, but unfortunately it isn't part of the human bodies evolution, and therefore useless if not harmful in building a healthy lean physique.
3. Program design
Now that you're eating right and sleeping right, the third and final step is to get a program that is not only suited to you and your energy levels, but also in accordance with what your goals are.
So many people who frequent gyms and training halls these days are over trained for what they are physically capable of. To put it simply, you cant sit behind a desk all day every day for 10 years, wake up one day and start working out and running for extended periods of time and expect your body to sustain it.
IâEUR(TM)m not saying that you should be shy of hard training by any means -- you cant get anywhere without hard training -- but donâEUR(TM)t ever OVER train. If youâEUR(TM)re waking up in the morning and you can barely move out of bed then youâEUR(TM)re not recovering from the previous days training.
Weight programs with the intention of hypertrophy should last from 45 to 60 minutes max. If thatâEUR(TM)s not long enough then youâEUR(TM)re either socializing too much or doing too many exercises. Be specifically scientific about the way you build your programs, from the second you finish stretching, the clock should start ticking. You need designated rest intervals between sets depending on what stage youâEUR(TM)re training at -- be it technique, cellular or neural.
Ask questions to whoever builds your programs, and if they canâEUR(TM)t give an informed answer on rest, duration and time under tension, find someone who can and get them to build a program for you. YouâEUR(TM)re playing around with your body and the only person who has to put up with it is you!
If running, cycling, skating, swimming or playing teams sports ensure that you stretch thoroughly before and after you train, then it will help you to be able to get up and do it again tomorrow. All these things should be down in your program, so that nothing is left out or forgotten.
By sleeping right, eating right and approaching your training with the right mindset, you will be able to function in your everyday life while building your body and not feeling that its too muchwork for you.
In todayâEUR(TM)s society of business, money and power, science and thorough work prevail, even though our bodies are expected to function in a slap and dash way. Approach your training in a scientific way and it too will run like the business you own or work for, and it will look after for many years to come.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Being Nice Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

"Mom, what did the doctor say about your liver function
tests?" Martha and her mother Leah spent plenty of time on
the phone the days before the follow-up doctor visit talking
about what this abnormal blood test could mean. With a heavy
sigh Leah said, "Well, the doctor looked like he was having
a hard day, and there were lots of people in the waiting
room and they looked very sick, so I didnâEUR(TM)t ask." Martha
said, "If you took care of yourself with just a fraction of
the nurturing you give to everyone else in the whole world,
you would be in great shape."
LeahâEUR(TM)s life is guided by two words: "Be nice." In her
perfect day, everyone gets along, she anticipates and meets
the needs of others and goes to sleep knowing sheâEUR(TM)s a worthy
person because people tell her so. Leah avoids conflict and
she would never dream of making a scene. When she gave the
cashier at the grocery store a $20 bill for a $7 item and
got back $3 she didnâEUR(TM)t say a word. Her perfectionism usually
heads off criticism, but sometimes it backfires. She tried
to help her adult son, who said with annoyance, "Mom, stop
being such a people-pleaser." LeahâEUR(TM)s darkest fear is that
she will not give enough and wind up all alone, abandoned by
her friends and family.
While being nice sounds like a good idea, thereâEUR(TM)s a problem.
It doesnâEUR(TM)t work. People pleasers often take care of others
at the expense of themselves. Activities that promote
health, like the daily walk and a good nightâEUR(TM)s sleep are
sacrificed when someone else is in need. Trying to avoid or
ignore conflict and anger is like trying to hold a beach
ball under water. Unexpressed feelings can pop up as
physical ailments, such as heartburn or depression or back
pain. When your value as a person is defined by what other
people think about you, and you donâEUR(TM)t measure up, food or
alcohol medicate the emptiness.
If youâEUR(TM)re a people-pleaser who gets sick, the same behaviors
that got you to the doctor in the first place may stand in
the way of getting good health care. You might not want to
"trouble your doctor" with your problems. If you have side
effects from a medication, you might simply stop taking the
pills rather than tell your doctor that you want to try a
different medication. A cross look from the front office
staff when you ask for a copy of your medical record may be
all you need to decide that youâEUR(TM)re not doing that again.
The bottom line is that being nice can be hazardous to your
health. It erodes your health and impairs your ability to
get better if youâEUR(TM)re sick.
I invite you to examine how being nice is working for you.
Serving others offers great rewards. Serving at the expense
of yourself comes with a huge cost that ultimately limits
your ability to serve. You can be freed from the
imprisonment of people-pleasing. If you want to treat
yourself with more love and respect, here are some thoughts.
Re-think being nice.
People-pleasing is a learned behavior that can be unlearned.
Although habits may be deeply engrained, small changes can
make a huge difference. Next time youâEUR(TM)re asked to volunteer,
instead of jumping in with a "Yes", say, instead, "IâEUR(TM)ll get
back to you on that." You will come to understand that "no"
is a complete sentence, and you can utter the word! If you
canâEUR(TM)t imagine doing this, use this "fake it till you make it
trick"...tell yourself that youâEUR(TM)re taking care of your
childrenâEUR(TM)s father, your motherâEUR(TM)s daughter or your petâEUR(TM)s
Take care of yourself every day.
Get exercise, nutrition and rest every day. Do something
that recharges your batteries every day no matter what. ItâEUR(TM)s
a cliché, but when youâEUR(TM)re on a plane youâEUR(TM)re instructed to
put on your own mask before taking care of others.
Bring an advocate with you to the doctor.
Engaging in acts of self-care, like going to the doctor, can
feel like swimming upstream to a people-pleaser. Being nice
takes the form of being a good patient who doesnâEUR(TM)t make
Here is something critical to remember: You are not there to
take care of your doctor; your doctor is there to take care
of you. In the past you may have made your medical choices
by raising your antennae and tuning into what you think will
make your doctor happy. You certainly want your doctorâEUR(TM)s
opinion, and in most cases you will agree with your doctorâEUR(TM)s
recommendations. Sometimes getting good care means making
waves, like asking , "What are the other treatment options?"
or requesting a more complete explanation or seeking a
second medical opinion.
While itâEUR(TM)s always a good idea to take a second set of
listening ears to a doctor appointment, itâEUR(TM)s particularly
important if youâEUR(TM)re a people-pleaser. An advocate will
assure that you and your health care team stay focused on
taking care of you.
Accept help.
People-pleasers can give from dawn to dusk, but they rarely
accept help, even when theyâEUR(TM)re sick. When I ask my patients
who are people-pleasers how it feels to help a friend
struggling with illness, the answer is a broad smile. Then I
remind them that when they accept help, they give their
friends a chance to have those same good feelings.
If you are a people-pleaser, your heart might be racing. I
assure you IâEUR(TM)m not asking to give up serving others. IâEUR(TM)m
suggesting that a healthy life is a life in balance, and I
encourage you to treat yourself as nicely as you treat
others. When you take care of yourself, you offer us the
gift of most fully who you are. Then you can really serve.