How to Stay Fit When Traveling

Trying to stay fit and healthy can be challenging when traveling.  I always tell my clients that the goal should be to maintain, not gain while away.  And while I am an advocate for living life and enjoying all that is has to offer, going on vacation shouldn’t become a free for all to throw in the towel when it comes to health and fitness.

A common question I receive from many prospective clients is “I am going on vacation soon.  Should I wait to start the plan or start right away?”  My answer is always this: There is never a “good” or “easy” time to start.  You have to learn to live a healthy lifestyle which is what my plans aim to do.  In other words, start the plan today.  That way, when it does come time for vacation, you have the tools you need to maintain, not gain.

While you won’t track every food that goes into your mouth on vacation, subconsciously you are much more aware of how your meals should look and be balanced if you are following a plan prior to vacation.  I can’t tell you how many clients come back to have not gained an ounce.  THAT is WINNING!

Here are five tips to help you stay fit and healthy when traveling:

Drink a lot of water –  Lots of walking, hours spent outside in the sun… traveling can be exhausting. The airplane ride alone will dehydrate you from the altitude.  I love to take a reusable water bottle and fill it up after I pass through security to take on the plane with me.  This ensures that I am drinking throughout the flight and don’t have to wait for the flight attendants to serve me. And when they do come to serve, take it! Drink all the water you can.  You will feel so much better getting off the plane hydrated instead of tired, queasy, tight, and drained.

When you get to your destination, continue to drink water.  Incorporate foods that also contain a lot of water such as lettuce, watermelon and cucumbers.

Stick to your normal routine as much as possible: Just because you are away doesn’t mean you have to throw in the towel and eat everything in sight.  This goes especially for all inclusive resorts or a buffet.  Just because you pay for something doesn’t mean you have to overdo it.  Breakfast included in the hotel?  Stick to an omelette, a piece of toast or oatmeal, some fresh fruit and one “treat.” You don’t need muffins, bacon, hash browns, pancakes AND french toast if you normally don’t eat that at home.  That’s just being a glutton.  Pick one savory food and enjoy it. Tomorrow is a new day and a few hours later you will be eating your next meal again.

Keep things in moderation: You don’t have to have everything in one day.  Bread, alcohol, dessert all add up at one meal.  All 3 along with your meal could mean your total daily allowance of calories or more.  So pick one, and choose another the following day.  It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

If you tend to eat more at night, then keep your breakfast and lunch on the lighter side.  If you know you are going to have a few cocktails for happy hour then moderate your intake during the day. It is all about balance.

Try to keep active:  If you normally workout daily then try to go to the gym half the amount of days you are on vacation.  Vacation is just that…a break, so don’t feel like you have to hit the gym at 7am each morning to feel good about yourself.  Let go of some of the stress.  Go for a walk, enjoy the outdoors and do something entirely different then you are used to.

If there is no gym and you do want to workout, pack resistance bands.  They are super light and there are so many exercises that you can do with them (see my video on how to here) .  You could also incorporate some body weight exercises or plyometrics in your hotel room (see hotel room workout video here).  Just 20 minutes a day will make you feel a whole lot better and most likely help you make better decisions throughout the day.

Have the willpower to stay on track: I know sometimes this is easier said then done, but I can guarantee that you will feel so much better coming home from a vacation knowing you enjoyed it yet didn’t gain a pound rather than coming home 5 pounds heavier only to have to work it back off.  We all know how easy it is to put weight on and how difficult it is to take it off.  Just a few minor tweaks each day while away can mean the world of difference.

You are stronger than you think.  Choose your battles while you are away.  Don’t cave into defeat.  You can do it!  Vacation is so much more than eating everything in sight.  Take the time to enjoy those you spend it with, the scenery, and the culture it has to offer. The food is just a bonus, not the entire package.

Sloane Davis is a Certified Nutritionist and Personal Trainer who has helped thousands of people, both men and women, around the world get in to top shape both mentally and physically. Sloane has her undergraduate degree in Bachelor of Arts from Syracuse University and became accredited through ISSA with her degree in Sports Nutrition and Personal Training. She works personally and online with thousands of clients around the US and globally.

She has been featured in PeopleFitness MagazineNew Beauty Magazine, Apple News, The Daily Mail, Yahoo News, Westchester Magazine and Fox 5 Good Day New York.

How Alcohol Abuse Can Affect Overall Health and Work Performance

Alcohol is often enjoyed at celebrations and other social events. Most weddings include a champagne toast, and a guy’s night out seems to be synonymous with beer drinking. While drinking in moderation has been shown to have health benefits, drinking too much can lead to dependence. Alcohol abuse can have detrimental effects on your health, work performance, and social life.

Overall Health

Whether it’s binge drinking on a single occasion or chronic abuse over time, drinking too much alcohol can take a serious toll on your health, affecting a wide range of organs and systems in your body. Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, causing mood and behavioral changes. You’ll find it harder to think clearly, leading to rash and poor decision-making. Coordination is off, increasing the chance of injuries. Long-term alcoholism leads to a reduction in the size of brain cells. This leads to permanent deficits in motor coordination, temperature regulation, sleep, mood, and various cognitive functions, including learning and memory.

Photo Credit: www.menshealth.co.uk

Chronic alcoholism and occasional binge drinking can both damage the heart. Cardiomyopathy can occur (the stretching and drooping of heart muscle), as well as high blood pressure, stroke, and arrhythmias. Heavy drinking also takes a toll on the liver, leading to steatosis (fatty liver), alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis. Alcohol causes the pancreas to produce toxic substances that can eventually lead to pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas.

Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of developing certain cancers, including cancers of the mouth, esophagus, throat, liver, and breast. Your immune system is also weakened, making you more prone to diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis than people who don’t drink too much. Binge drinking slows your body’s ability to ward off infections up to 24 hours after your drinking episode.

Work Performance

Alcohol abuse can negatively affect work performance in a variety of ways. If you’re preoccupied with trying to obtain and drink alcohol while at work, it can interfere with attention and concentration. Hangovers and withdrawal symptoms can affect your job performance, including a lack of focus, loss of efficiency, and poor decision-making skills. You’re more likely to engage in risk-taking behaviors, such as theft or selling illicit drugs to other employees.

Alcohol abuse doesn’t just affect you. Hangovers can also lead to frequent tardiness, which can hurt the productivity of your coworkers. Your issues may lower morale of coworkers and increase the likelihood of you having trouble with coworkers. Your place of work may pay more for undergoing disciplinary procedures or training new employees to replace you. One-fifth of workers and managers across a wide range of industries and company sizes report that a coworker’s drinking, whether on the job or off the job, jeopardized their own productivity and safety.

Employees who abuse alcohol are more likely to miss work and take sick days. In fact, workers with alcohol abuse issues are almost three times more likely than workers without drinking problems to have injury-related absences. While these also account for injuries also suffered outside of work, Breathalyzer tests detected alcohol in 16 percent of emergency room patients injured at work and 35 percent of hospital patients with an occupational injury were at-risk drinkers. Therefore, drinking also increase the chances of being injured on the job. Analyses of workplace fatalities showed that at least 11 percent of the victims had been drinking.

If you’re suffering from alcoholism and are ready to get help, there are many resources available in your community, such as an inpatient residential facility or an outpatient, non-residential treatment program. You can also reach out to self-help resources like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Sites dedicated to helping those with alcoholism often have search tools to find programs near you.

6 Manly Tips for Men’s Health Month

It was much too difficult to pick just one topic to discuss for Men’s Health Month so as you can see, I picked six things to talk about. These items have been on my mind as of late and are relevant for all the men out there so let me know your thoughts and own experiences regarding the following topics.

1. If it has been more than a year since your last full physical exam then pick up the phone today and call your primary care physicians office and book yourself an appointment. When you’re done have the secretary book you in advance a year from that date. I try to make it each year the same month as my birthday. A great number of ailments and for that matter diseases that people end up getting would never exacerbate if caught early and a yearly check-up could significantly improve your odds in those areas. While you’re at it do the same thing regarding regular teeth cleanings and eye exams.

2. We like to say at Koko, that lean muscle is like the fountain of youth, the more you have the better off you and your metabolism will be as you age. Research shows staying active coupled with regular strength training is the best prescription to help fight your cause.

3. If you’re really interested in seeing how healthy you are then take a look at your blood profile. I have used Inside Tracker, a company founded by scientists from MIT, Harvard and Tufts University to “give you blood-based, science-driven, effective advice on simple changes you can make to optimize your performance and health.” I really enjoy looking at what is going from a “deeper” perspective and track those metrics over time. Inside Tracker also does a great job at suggesting food options if you’re low in specific areas to help you drive those numbers back into a healthy range (think testosterone here guys).

4. Make a foam roller, a pair of tennis balls and a lacrosse ball your best friends. All that pain, stiffness and tightness that you typically experience may be due to restricted fascia. Fascia is basically connective tissue, along with ligaments and tendons, that acts as, among other things, as a support structure and plays an important role in overall health. Use the tools mentioned to roll away some of that residual pre/post workout stiffness. This helps just temporarily though and to get at the root of the problem speak to a coach and take advantage of applying some pressure to “tight” areas with those tennis balls or lacrosse ball. Have someone show you the right way to accomplish this or you could do more harm than good. In addition, get more sleep and drink more H2O to help your cause.

5. Work on reducing your body fat level by 1-2% this month. No, not by doing more steady-state, long duration cardio. Try completing eight short, high intensity interval (HIT) sessions over the course of the month. Get outside and do sprint intervals, try using a Schwinn Air-Dyne bike, maybe a Versa climber or a rowing machine, you get the picture. Separate the HIT sessions with 3-days between each session. On those “off” days watch your added sugar and do some form of strength training. In regard to added sugar, consume less than 150 calories a day (38 grams) and use the MyFitnessPal app to make you more aware of what you’re consuming and to help you document it. As for strength training, try using “giant sets” – choose five multi-joint movement exercises, like lunges, squats, deadlifts, chest press and pull-ups, and do each round for a desired number of repetitions or for a specific amount of time like 30-45 seconds each. Aim for a minimum of two weekly sessions. Like your cardio, it does not have to be long, quality trumps quantity especially during Men’s Health Month.

6. Finally, mix things up and take a yoga class. You may have to go out of your comfort zone here. There is a reason why more and more college and pro athletes are now doing more yoga. It’s great for your mind/body/spirit. If you don’t want to venture out or pay for it then download the Headspace app and meditate a bit. Adding these six health and fitness tips during the month of June will make you not only more manly but a better friend, brother, dad, and husband. Hopefully, this time next June, a few of these will stick and be part of your regular routine.

Is Your Job Putting You At Risk Of Diabetes

Getting type 2 diabetes is not as easy as catching a cold, thank God!

But if you neglect your health, you can gradually destroy your body and put you at risk of this metabolic disorder. Factors like family history, excess body weight and poor eating habits are contributors to high sugar levels and insulin resistance. Stress may seem an unlikely culprit as well, but recent studies suggests otherwise.

Stress on the job (or any kind of stress) can drive workers to take up poor lifestyle habits. These people are more likely to eat poorly, sleep late, and exercise less. Such behavior can drive a person to develop chronic diseases like diabetes.

Researchers have looked into the potential link of work stress and type 2 diabetes. According to a study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, 5000 participants within the range of 29 to 66 years old were gathered for evaluation.

Credit: http://www.medicaldaily.com

The contributors were asked to disclose their health status such as weight, smoking, and physical activity. Afterwards, each participant was assessed on his level of work stress using a detailed questionnaire. A follow-up about their health status was made after an average of 13 years.

This research found that the adults who were reported to have the highest stress levels had a 63% risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The category of people most affected by these results were men that lived on their own and had very high levels of stress.

Another culprit that plays an integral role in developing this disease is the hormone called cortisol – the substance that helps regulate blood sugar levels in your body. Stress levels also drive cortisol to spike up and affect the regulation of your blood sugar.

Past research about high levels of cortisol found links to other health problems like coronary diseases and the same connection has been found with recent studies on diabetes.

What Can You Do About It?

Work-related stress is a reality and this could be inevitable. If you feel like you have so much on your plate at work, below are some stress-relieving strategies you can try to stay healthy.

Organize

Organization is a key for achieving your goals in a timely manner. You can stay organized by keeping track of your projects and deadlines with an organizer or a mobile phone app.

If you are dealing with large projects, break them up into smaller tasks. Start your day with a to-do list and end it by crossing out what was accomplished within that day.

Never Procrastinate

A to-do list is a great starter for the day, but you won’t accomplish anything if you do not assign a timeline for each task. One method in avoiding procrastination is by tracking the hours allocated per task. Seeing that there is still time to finish a project can help you get to work and not waste time.

Avoid Taking Too Much Load

To avoid stress, know your limits. Do not overcommit to certain projects that you know you will not finish on time. If no one else can help you out on the task given to you, make sure to let your superiors know the timeline that they can expect for the finished work.

Limit Interruptions

If you are getting interrupted all the time by colleagues or other external distractions, try to address these issues before you start your duties. Ask your office mates to give you some block of time so as not to get disturbed. If there are other factors that are out of your hands, talk to your superiors about it.

Make Time

This means if there is no work left, leave the office on time. If you work at home, avoid answering business phone calls or checking work-related emails outside working hours. Make time for resting, to be with your family and do the hobbies you love.

Making a living from an office job can usually chain you to your computer and desk the entire day. To help reverse the negative effects of physical inactivity, try alternate strategies to keep you off of your seat.

Avoid sitting for prolonged periods of time. If you can work on a standing desk, go ahead and do it. Take the stairs instead of the elevator and walk briskly whenever you can. And if it is feasible, propose a walking conference.

To stay healthy, you still need to get at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise and 2 hours and 30 minutes for moderate workouts each week. Try to get off from work on time and allot a daily exercise routine to stay fit to avoid diabetes.

This blog post was sponsored by Katrina Rice.

3 Ways You Know Your Fitness Program is Off Track

Advice about how the best ways live and stay healthy is ubiquitous. A quick look on YouTube reveals hundreds of hours of video from sports therapists and trainers. Each one with slightly different and sometimes conflicting advice on the best exercises and forms. The advice can even appear to change as the latest fitness trends come into focus.

Bombarded with so much information, it can be very easy to get off track. You may find yourself not training consistently, losing motivation, using routines that work against each other or (worst of all) potentially using a routine that causes an injury. Below we will go through some key ways to see if your program is off track and simple ways to stop it from happening.

Are You Motivated?

The cliché is that exercise must be a chore, when the truth is exercise can be, and should be, fun. As Per Wickstrom, has shown through his research into the links between exercise and beating addiction, the right exercise can be a genuine life saver. It can help you build confidence, make new friends, counteract the effects of depression and help with other health problems. So, the simplest and most important question to ask is “How do I feel?” If the answer includes:

  • Sad
  • Uncomfortable
  • Bored
  • Frustrated
  • Not wanting to train

or a combination of any of them, then look at why you want to exercise and what you want to achieve. Find something that inspires you or try a new technique. Even running does not have to be dull if you introduce techniques like Fartlek.

What Have You Achieved?

While feelings and how motivated you are can be clear indicators of a program’s usefulness, it is essential to have some form of goal. Understand why you want to exercise and you will have a great framework to build from and great ways to measure progress over time.

For example, if you are looking to build strength, you will want to lift more weights and stick to short periods of intense cardio rather than long distance runs and cycling. For long distance running, a combination of specific weights, running 3 to 4 times a week and considering Pilates and yoga for core strength will do far more-good than hitting the bench press. Once

you have your why, this will give you your how.

Keeping a simple record of your progress is the compass that will keep your program on track. Without some reference, it can be easy to lose your way. Hitting a plateau, having a bad session or suffering from a condition such as dysmorphia can undermine your confidence. Clear evidence of progress will help you keep going.

Monitoring and measuring your goals and progress these days is remarkably easy. Modern fitness apps and devices allow you to keep an online record of distances walked in a day, your average heart rate, how many lengths you did in the pool and even how well you slept. If this sounds a little formal, start by asking yourself things like:

  • Do I feel better about myself?
  • Are the stairs at home easier to handle?
  • Can I walk for longer without a rest?
  • Do my clothes fit better?
  • Is my golf handicap improving?
  • Am I having fun?

Alternatively, you can ask a trusted friend for some honest feedback.

Does It Hurt?

Regular training, especially as part of a competitive sports team, weight training or distance running, can involve a certain amount of discomfort. However, certain types of pain can be an indicator of an injury or genuine harm being done. Sharp pain, deep in muscles and joints, can be indicators of strains and sprains.

However, not all injuries appear instantly as a sudden stabbing pain. If you are getting consistent pain in the hands when gripping, in the shins when running or in other parts of the body, these can be indicators of overuse injuries. Overuse injuries include such ailments as tennis elbow, shin splints, golfer’s knee and conditions such as tendonitis. Understandably, any form of injury is the ultimate indication that something is wrong with a routine. It cannot be stressed enough that prevention is better than cure. Many overuse or soft tissue injuries can become chronic conditions.

Things to watch out for include:

  • Not building enough rest into a program
  • Not warming up properly
  • Not stretching properly
  • Not hydrating enough
  • Sacrificing technique in a rush to results (e.g. trying to lift weights that are too heavy, or running harder and faster than you should)

Listening to your body is key. If your body is giving you warning signs, take notice. If you are getting regular joint pain, seek medical advice. Exercise with a trainer or a friend if possible, as it is often easier for someone else to spot any warning signs.

So, what can be done to help prevent things from going off track?

Staying on Track

As mentioned above, understanding why you want to exercise and setting simple goals can make all the difference. Not only when creating a program, but also maintaining it over time. One way of the best ways is to work with a qualified trainer. They will be able to tailor your program to your needs, help you monitor your progress and update your routine to make sure that it does not become boring. A good trainer will also monitor technique to maximize benefit and minimize injury risks.

If you cannot afford a trainer, then asking staff at your local gym for help is a good place to start. Alternatively, try training with a friend or a club. Most importantly, listen to your body. Improvement will happen over time with good and consistent training.

Keeping some form of record is also key. It can be as simple as a notepad and pencil or using apps like Couch to 5k or Zombie Run. Also, there are various devices from companies including Fitbit, Garmin, and TomTom. Most of this technology will link to social media, so you and your friends can support each other even if you cannot always train together. If you are using devices or apps with links to your PC or phone, especially if you are using public WiFi, remember to protect your data and keep your health information private.

Finally, have fun and enjoy your exercise, no matter what it is.

Please comment below and share your experiences. What ways were you going off track? How did you get back on the straight and narrow? We’re eager to hear your thoughts.

Diamond Grant is a fitness enthusiast, avid hiker, cyclist and marathon runner. She frequently writes fitness tips and recommendations to help lower the level of fitness misinformation available across the web.

Want To Be In A Good Mood? Eat These Foods

A number of lifestyle factors can contribute to depression, but one that’s often overlooked is what you put in your mouth. “Diet plays a huge role in depression,” says with Christopher Calapai, D.O., a New York City Osteopathic Physician board certified in family and anti-aging medicine.

Do you crave sweet, salty, and fatty foods when you’re feeling blue? You’re not alone. But, says Dr. Calapai “If we eat better foods like lean proteins, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and fish, we short-circuit the junk food cravings and have higher energy levels and sharper mental focus.

Source: http://cancerfightersthrive.com

Vitamin D (sun exposure; fortified breakfast cereals, breads, juices, milk):

Vitamin D is required for brain development and function. Deficiency in this “sunshine vitamin” is sometimes associated with depression and other mood disorders.

“Smart” Carbs Can Have a Calming Effect

Carbohydrates are linked to the mood-boosting brain chemical, serotonin. Experts aren’t sure, but carb cravings sometimes may be related to low serotonin activity. Choose your carbs wisely. Limit sugary foods and opt for smart or “complex” carbs (such as whole grains) rather than simple carbs (such as cakes and cookies). Fruits, vegetables, and legumes also have healthy carbs and fiber.

Tryptophan (protein sources including turkey, beef, eggs, some dairy products, dark, leafy greens):

An amino acid, tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin. It’s not well understood, but low tryptophan seems to trigger depressive symptoms in some people who have taken antidepressants.

Increase your Intake of B Vitamins

People with either low blood levels of the B-vitamin folic acid, or high blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine (a sign that you are not getting enough B6, B12 or folic acid), are both more likely to be depressed and less likely to get a positive result from anti-depressant drugs. In a study comparing the effects of giving an SSRI with either a placebo or with folic acid, 61% of patients improved on the placebo combination but 93% improved with the addition of folic acid.

Boost your Serotonin with Amino Acids

Serotonin is made in the body and brain from an amino acid called tryptophan. Tryptophan is then converted into another amino acid called 5-Hydroxy Tryptophan (5-HTP), which in turn is converted into the neurotransmitter serotonin. Tryptophan can be found in the diet; it’s in many protein rich foods such as meat, fish, beans and eggs. 5-HTP is found in high levels in the African Griffonia bean, but this bean is not a common feature of most people’s diet. Just not getting enough tryptophan is likely to make you depressed; people fed food deficient in tryptophan became rapidly depressed within hours.

Up your Intake of Chromium

This mineral is vital for keeping your blood sugar level stable because insulin, which clears glucose from the blood, can’t work properly without it. In fact it turns out that just supplying proper levels of chromium to people with atypical depression can make a big difference.

Select Selenium-Rich Foods

Studies have reported a link between low selenium and poor moods. The recommended amount for selenium is 55 micrograms a day for adults. Evidence isn’t clear that taking supplements can help. And it’s possible to get too much selenium. So it’s probably best to focus on foods:

• Beans and legumes
• Lean meat (lean pork and beef, skinless chicken and turkey)
• Low-fat dairy products
• Nuts and seeds (particularly brazil nuts – but no more than one or two a day because of their high selenium content)
• Seafood (oysters, clams, sardines, crab, saltwater fish, and freshwater fish)
• Whole grains (whole-grain pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, etc.)

Caffeine and Sugary Foods

Caffeine may be difficult for many people to completely eliminate from their diet. However, it is good to only have caffeinated drinks in moderation, particularly when you are experiencing depression-like symptoms. Caffeine can disrupt sleep patterns and make you feel anxious, both of which won’t help your depression. People who drink more than 400 milligrams of caffeine a day, the equivalent of four cups of brewed coffee, should consider cutting back.

Source: https://www.pinterest.com/livelovefruit/life-wellness

Dr. Christopher Calapai, D.O. is an Osteopathic Physician board certified in family medicine, and anti-aging medicine. Proclaimed as the “The Stem Cell Guru” by the New York Daily News, Dr. Calapai is a leader in the field of stem cell therapy in the U.S. His stem cell treatments have achieved remarkable results in clinical trials on patients with conditions as varied as Alzheimer’s, arthritis, erectile dysfunction, frailty syndrome, heart, kidney and liver failure, lupus, MS and Parkinson’s.

Dr. Calapai started his practice in New York City in 1986 and for over 25 years he has hosted nationally syndicated radio shows, including his two weekly call-in shows on WABC 770-AM, where he offers health and medical advice. He has a show on Saturday morning 8-9am and Sunday evening from 6-7pm. He has consulted with numerous high-profile individuals including Mike Tyson, Mickey Rourke, Steven Seagal, and Fox series Gotham’s, Donal Logue and worked as a medical consultant for the New York Rangers hockey team as well as various modeling agencies.

Dr. Calapai received his medical degree from New York College of Osteopathic Medicine and he consults in Manhattan with practices on Long Island, in East Meadow and Plainview. He has appeared on News12 and in the pages of 25A Magazine and Social Life Magazine.

He is the author of E-books Heavy Metals and Chronic Disease, Reverse Diabetes Forever! Seven Steps to Healthy Blood Sugar, Top Ten Supplements You Can’t Live Without, and Glorious Glutathione. Learn more about Dr. Calapai on his website: www.drcal.net

5 Practical Ideas to Improve Health and Fitness by Michael Wood, CSCS

“Mens sana in corpore sano” (Latin)  – a healthy mind in a healthy body.

There were almost 82 million Americans who were completely inactive in 2015. We know that exercise on a regular basis can be a very difficult task since most people do not even like to exercise. More than 30% of the population will not workout at all this year and only 5% will exercise at a level that is considered vigorous. Compounding the problem, the average American sits more than 9 hours a day; sitting is now considered the new smoking. We have become a society where inactivity is fast becoming the new norm. If this resonates at all with you then you may want to try to incorporate the following practical tips into your lifestyle.

There have been many things that I have learned and continue to learn during my three decades in the fitness industry and I can honestly tell you, in addition to some nutritional advice, these five particular items should be on your radar. It would be prudent for you to make sure these five components (5M’s) find their way and get ingrained into your lifestyle.

  • Measurement

Athletes at the collegiate and professional level continue to improve because they work with the best strength and conditioning coaches and nutritionist. They have a well thought out plan and get tested periodically. This is the one component that offers the most bang for the buck yet most individuals find reason to neglect it. Find the time to take some type of measurement(s) and periodically test yourself in order to (1) hold yourself more accountable, (2) determine if your exercise plan is actually working and (3) to help keep you motivated. This applies to not just exercise and your workouts but also on the nutritional side of things. Are you eating, for example, too much added sugar? Checking your body weight is OK but go beyond just checking your weight. What percentage of muscle and body fat make up that overall weight of yours? What is your waist measurement? Can you run a mile? Can you run up a flight of stairs without feeling winded? These types of measurements offer more value than jumping on a bathroom scale.

Credit: http://www.azquotes.com

A few (measurement) ideas for you:

  • Determine your Waist-to-hip ratio
  • Monitor your % body fat and/or lean muscle mass
  • Record your daily grams of added sugar (<35 grams/day/men and <25 grams/day/women). Use the MyFitnessPal app.
  • Determine your best 500 or 2000 meter row time
  • Vertical jump measurement
  • Plank challenge (can you hold position for 2:00 or 3:00?)
  • Are you getting 8,500-10,000 steps/day

Finally, remember another great quote from Peter Drucker, “what’s measured improves.”

Suggested Reading

Koning L et al., Waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio as predictors of cardiovascular events: meta-regression analysis of prospective studies. European Heart Journal (2008). 28, 850–856 doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehm026

  • Mindfulness

Once your measurements are taken and documented you’ll then have a baseline and you’re ready to begin. A good first step, is to work towards becoming more mindful, this will help you not only with exercise and diet but in all aspects of your life. The net result will be a significant improvement in the “quality” of your exercise and the way  you fuel your body. As we become more in tune with mindfulness, we become more aware of the relationship between a stimulus and response. You can think of mindfulness as a tool that can help you develop that gap between the stimulus and the response to that stimulus.

Mindfulness is “the ability to stay focused, while being aware of your thoughts and surroundings and being able to recognize and move past distractions as they arise.” Harvard Business Review

Researchers looked at subjects who had the opportunity to choose from 22 general activities, such as walking, eating, shopping, and watching television. Their study showed that respondents, on average, reported their minds were wandering 47% of time, and no less than 30% of the time during every activity except making love. Becoming more mindful in regard to exercise and diet is extremely important. Learn to become truly present when you’re involved in these activities otherwise your mind and body are not taking in 100% of the benefit.

One way to help you get moving down this road of mindfulness is with daily meditation. A typical session involving meditation could range from two minutes up to sixty minutes. I have used the popular Headspace app to help me get started which is excellent and I highly recommend you start with this free, simple to use, app. More than 4 million people have used the app to date. According to a Tim Ferris, podcast, author of the 4-Hour Work Week, more than 80% of the world-class performers who he interviews use some form of daily meditation and he’s a big proponent of the free Headspace Take 10 program.

There is a great deal of research that demonstrates mediation creates positive changes in our brains. Harvard University neuroscientist Sara Lazar told the Washington Post, “long-term meditators have an increased amount of grey matter in the insula and sensory regions, the auditory and sensory cortex.”

In a 2014 study in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Australian researchers looked at the relationship between various personality traits and exercise and other health-related habits. The researchers found that people who thought they had control over their lives were more likely to exercise and adopt other healthy steps than those who felt that luck or fate largely dictated their lives. Daily meditation offers that sense of control.

With everything we have going on in our daily lives like raising children, marriage issues, social media, political upheaval, and all the demands at work, we need to find more time to focus on ourselves. The goal should be to work on eliminating all the distractions and “noise” that surrounds us. Becoming more mindful will enable us to have better control in all aspects of our lives especially with what we’re focusing on here, improving your lifestyle especially with regard to diet and exercise.

You can take this assessment to see where you currently rate when it comes to mindfulness. Try taking the assessment before and then after completing ten sessions using the Headspace app.

  • Mobility

Mobility, or joint mobility, in general, is one of the most misunderstood terms. The first thing you need to understand about mobility is that it does not start this week and then end in a day or two. If you want to improve mobility then it needs to be part of your every day life and one of the components of each workout you do. You will receive the most benefit when regular mobility work becomes part of your lifestyle.

Let’s first look at a good definition of mobility. According to physical therapist Joe Vega, M.S.P.T., CSCS,. “a person with great mobility is able to perform functional movement patterns with no restrictions in the range of motion of those movements.”

A more in-depth look at what happens when you perform specific mobility exercises is given here by fitness expert, Steven Maxwell. “Joint mobility exercise stimulates and circulates the synovial fluid in the bursa, which ‘washes’ the joint. The joints have no direct blood supply and are nourished by this synovial fluid, which simultaneously removes waste products. Joint salts, or calcium deposits, are dissolved and dispersed with the same gentle, high-repetition movement patterns. Properly learned, joint mobility can restore complete freedom of motion to the ankles, knees, hips, spine, shoulders, neck and hands.”

Remember, you should take a proactive approach when it comes to mobility, not a reactive one. In other words, don’t wait for problems to arise before you address them.

There are many specific exercises that can be done to improve joint mobility for areas like the ankle, hip, back and shoulder. Here is one such example that targets the back, specifically, the mid back (thoracic spine). What I particularly like about this mobility exercise is how it isolates the mid back while stabilizing the low back (lumbar spine). For mobility exercise ideas please visit Michael Wood Fitness on Instagram.

Prior to performing these movements try “rolling out” the area. A great tool to help you get started is a foam roller (see below) which can be used for self-myofascial release. It has been shown to help increase joint range of motion and with delayed-onset muscle soreness, commonly known as DOMS. For more information check out MWOD.

Suggested Reading

Supple Leopard, Dr. Kelly Starrett, Victory Belt Publishing, 2013.

Foam rolling and self-myofascial release, Strength & Conditioning Research.

Mobility Training May Be the Most Important Factor in Musculoskeletal Health, Steve Maxwell.

Training Principles for Fascial Connective Tissue, Schleip R., Muller DG., J. Bodywork & Movement Therapies, 2012.

  • Movement

Hippocrates once said, “walking is a man’s best medicine.” To find out if his 2,400 year-old remark was actually valid, two scientists from University College London performed a meta-analysis of research published between 1970 and 2007 in peer-reviewed journals. After studying more than 4,000 research papers, they identified 18 studies that met their high standards for quality. The studies evaluated 459,833 test-subjects who were absent of cardiovascular disease at the start of the investigation. The subjects were followed for an average of 11.3 years, during which cardiovascular events (i.e. heart attacks and deaths) were recorded. Their meta-analysis makes a strong case for the benefits of good old walking. The group of studies showed that walking reduced the risk of cardiovascular events by 31 percent, and decreased the risk of dying during the time of the study by 32 percent.

More movement of any kind is obviously a good thing. One tool you can use to monitor your exercise and especially walking is a pedometer. It can be valuable because it (1) can hold you more accountable, (2) it can help to build up to a desired step total for a daily/weekly/monthly total and (3) it can be a useful motivational tool along the way. Research out of Stanford University has shown that individuals who use a pedometer take an additional 2,000 steps each day, compared to nonusers, and their overall physical activity level increases by 27%. Another study showed participants who increased their steps to average more than 9,500 a day for 32 weeks lost 5 pounds, 1.9% body fat and 1.9 centimeters from their hips. They also increased their HDL cholesterol by 3 mg/dl and lowered their BMI by nearly 2 points. The participants in the study increased their steps by an average of 4,000 steps a day from the start of the study.

The goal with trying to add in more daily movement is consistency. If you have a crazy week at work and can’t get to the gym as much during the week then be sure you check it off during the weekend. The key is to do something. Research by Krogh-Madsen and colleagues showed the dramatic changes that can take place after just two weeks of decreasing your activity. The subjects were young, lean, healthy men who decreased their daily steps from 10,000 steps a day to 1,300 steps a day. They experienced an increase in body weight, 7% decline in VO2 max, a 2.8% loss of lean muscle in their legs, and a 17% drop in insulin sensitivity after just two weeks of decreasing their activity by 8,700 steps a day.

A few thoughts to keep in mind when it comes to movement. More movement, like walking, and other forms of exercise (like strength training), translates into an elevated metabolism. There are many external as well as internal forces that can have an effect on your metabolism and exercise is the most variable. Sedentary individuals may add only 10-30% to their total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) while very active individuals can increase that number above 50-75%. TDEE is the total amount of calories the human body burns (or expends) in one day. When you’re more active throughout the day you get the added bonus of what scientist refer to as NEAT or non-exercise activity thermogenesis. NEAT is the energy expenditure of all physical activities other than exercise. NEAT can vary by up to 2000 kcal per day between people of similar size in part because of the substantial variation in the amount of activity that they perform. Obesity is associated with low NEAT; obese individuals “appear to exhibit an innate tendency to be seated for 2.5 hours per day more than sedentary lean counterparts.” When you exercise at higher intensity levels you increase your body’s ability to burn calories post exercise, known as exercise post oxygen consumption (EPOC). EPOC is one of the by-products of high-intensity interval training.

TDEE = BMR + TEF + NEAT + EPOC + Exercise

Finally, according to research published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, subjects who were least active during this particular study were five times more likely to die than the most active people and three times more likely than those in the middle range in terms of daily activity. The data was taken from approximately 3,000 people aged 50 to 79 that were part of the University of Pennsylvania Population Study. When in doubt, always remember the old saying “use it or lose it.”

Suggested Reading

Movement: Functional Movement Systems, Gray Cook, Lotus, 2011.

The One-Minute Exercise, Martin Gibala, PhD, Avery, 2017.

The Inner Runner, Jason Karp, PhD, Skyhorse Publishing, 2016.

How to Think About Exercise, Damon Young, The School of Life, 2015.

Better Movement, Todd Hargrove, Amazon Digital, 2014.

Born to Walk, James Earle, Lotus Publishing, 2014.

  • Muscle

The ability to maintain muscle mass as you age is considered by many as the closest thing to the fountain of youth. There is still hope for you even if you’ve been inconsistent or unable to exercise at all. That hope comes in the form of regular strength training. Research has shown that approximately three decades of age-related strength loss and two decades of age-related muscle mass loss can be recovered or reversed within the first couple of months of starting a strength training program. Research from a 2016 meta-analysis published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise reviewed 49 studies of men ages 50 to 83 who did regular strength training and found that subjects averaged a 2.4-pound increase in lean muscle mass.

There are a few additional items you need to focus on consistently beyond your strength training. When it comes to maintaining or building muscle, sleep and recovery are critical and good nutrition is a must. When I say nutrition I’m talking about eating a surplus of good calories especially in the form of high quality protein. If your body is not continually in an anabolic state you will not be building new muscle any time soon. The goal is to eat a “clean” diet that consistently includes the three major macronutrients. Eating a plant-based, high fiber diet that includes plenty of vegetables, fruits and healthy fats is always a good thing. Avoid the processed foods, watch the extra calories from soda and other sport drinks, and limit alcohol. Put yourself on an added sugar budget, see #nosugar40 for more information.

A recent study in the journal Nutrients suggests a daily intake of 1 to 1.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is needed for older adults who do resistance training. For example, a 175-pound man would need about 79 to 103 grams a day. If possible, divide your protein equally among your daily meals to maximize muscle protein synthesis.

There is a strong association between strength training and muscle mass but as you continue to age the key is working smarter. You can do that by making sure you include these primary lifts or movements as part of your strength program: squat, dead lift, pulling and pushing movements, and some type of loaded carry.

In a recent comprehensive research review, Donnelly and colleagues note that the majority of peer-reviewed resistance training studies (lasting 8–52 weeks) show increases of 2.2–4.5 pounds of muscle mass. These researchers suggest that an increase of 4.5 pounds of muscle mass would probably increase resting metabolic rate by about 50 kcal per day. Although this small change is not nearly as much as some advertisers may suggest, it does help close the gap between energy intake and energy expenditure.

There you have it – my five practical tips that will help take your health and fitness to the next level. The choice is now yours.

Suggested Reading

Biochemical Adaptations in Muscle. J. Biol. Chemistry 424(9): 2278-2282, 1967.

Dynamic exercise performance in Masters athletes: insight into the effects of primary human aging on physiological functional capacity. J Applied Physiol 95: 2152-2162, 2003.

Core Performance, Mark Verstegen, Rodale Books, 2005

Athletic Body in Balance, Gray Cook, Human Kinetics, 2003

Functional Training for Sport, M. Boyle, Human Kinetics, 2003

Never Let Go, Dan John, On Target, 2011

References

Schneider PL, Bassett DR, Thompson DL, Pronl NP, and Bielak KM (2006). Effects of a 10,000 Steps per Day Goal in Overweight Adults. Am J Health Promotion 21(2): 85-89.

Donnelly, J.E., et al. Is resistance training effective for weight management? Evidence-Based Preventive Medicine, 1(1): 21–29, 2003.

Krogh-Madsen R, Thyfault JP, Broholm C, Mortensen OH, Olsen RH, Mounier R, Plomgaard P, van Hall G, Booth FW, and Pedersen, BK (2010). A 2-wk reduction of ambulatory activity attenuates peripheral insulin sensitivity. J. Applied Physiology, 108(5):1034-1040.

Wu BH, Lin J, (2006). Effects of exercise intensity on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption and substrate use after resistance exercise. J Exerc Sci Fit, 4(2).

Abboud GJ, Greer BK, Campbell SC, Panton LB, (2012). Effects of Load-Volume on EPOC after Acute Bouts of Resistance Training in Resistance Trained Males. October.

Levine JA, et al. (2006). Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. 26: 729-736.

Ivey, FM et al., (2000). The Effects of Age, Gender and Myostatin Genotype on the Hypertrophic Response to Heavy Resistance Strength Training. J. Gerontol: Med Sci 55A: M641-M848.

Ezra I. Fishman, Jeremy A. Steeves, Vadim Zipunnikov, Annemarie Koster, David Berrigan, Tamara A. Harris, Rachel Murphy. Association between Objectively Measured Physical Activity and Mortality in NHANES. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 2016; 1 DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000885

Top 10 Body-Boosting Benefits of Wheatgrass

Many people nowadays are shifting to healthy living and healthy eating. They are trying to exercise more. They’re learning about the type of food they put in their mouths and try to look for healthier alternatives. People are slowly drifting away from eating fast food and processed food and are looking toward what’s organic and natural. They are turning to superfoods to address their nutritional needs. And one of the most popular and beneficial superfoods around is wheatgrass.

It’s actually the young grass of a common wheat plant. It comes in either liquid form (as a juice) or in solid form (as a powder concentrate). The most popular form in the market is the powder form.

Wheatgrass has been around for a while. It was highly promoted by Ann Wigmore in the 1970s. Wigmore was a raw food advocate and was always very vocal about the health benefits of raw food, specifically wheatgrass.

Just like most plants, wheatgrass is packed with plenty of nutrients the body needs. It is a potent source of over a hundred nutrients, making it one of the go-to ingredients for supplementary drinks. Wheatgrass contains amino acids, enzymes, antioxidants, and essential minerals. It has vitamins A, B-complex, C, E, I, and K. In addition, it has a high level of chlorophyll, which is an essential blood builder.

They might not look like much, but trust me, for such a tiny plant, wheatgrass definitely has a lot of benefits. Here are a few of them.

Boosts Immunity

Wheatgrass has the ability to improve the production of red blood cells (RBCs). These RBCs are both mechanical and biochemical barriers against bacteria, blood parasites, and infections. This means RBCs play a huge part in the body’s defense mechanism.

Wheatgrass also restores the electrical charge between the capillaries and the cell walls. This leads to a boost in the immune system. In addition, it also improves your body’s ability to prevent, fight, and recover from disease.

Saying goodbye to those pesky cough and colds has never been this easy. And as a bonus, a shot of wheatgrass juice has also been known to get rid of that nasty hangover.

Keeps Skin Healthy

Drinking wheatgrass is a great way to detoxify the body, so the skin is not as prone to breakouts. The antioxidants offset free radicals, and this prevents premature skin aging and cellular damage.

It can be used topically as well. When applied directly to the skin, wheatgrass juice calms down histamine that causes itching and soothes inflammation associated with rashes and sunburn. It can also treat skin diseases, such as psoriasis and eczema.

Many testimonials of home treatments say that wheatgrass does help remedy these skin issues.

Helps in Losing Weight

Many people will love wheatgrass even more because of this benefit. This superfood is particularly rich in selenium, which is important in the healthy functioning of the thyroid gland. Selenium improves irregular thyroid function. Take note that the thyroid is one of the body’s natural weight-loss tools.

Its chlorophyll content is also a big help as it increases your overall energy, which helps you work out longer and harder. This leads to you burning more calories. Also, the intake of wheatgrass juice can help reduce food cravings. One serving of this drink can keep you full for a while, making sure you won’t go looking for snacks in between meals.

Wheatgrass itself is low in calories and contains no sugar, cholesterol, or fat.

Improves Fertility

If you think that you’re ready for a baby and want to make sure your baby-making attempts won’t go to waste, try adding a shot of wheatgrass juice to your daily diet. It’s alkaline and can balance your body’s pH levels. This leads to better receptivity for eggs and sperm. Also, this provides better conditions for implantation as well.  

In addition, wheatgrass has the compound P4D1. This impacts sperm cells as well as DNA. This increases fertility. Its high antioxidant content can also protect sperm from free radical damage due to environmental factors.

Fortifies Digestive System

Wheatgrass has elements that promote healthy digestion. These include a high amount of fiber and B complex vitamins. These boost the function of the muscles in the digestive system.

Wheatgrass juice gets rid of digestive issues, such as constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and ulcerative colitis. The high amount of helpful enzymes it contains aids the body in properly breaking down food and absorbing nutrients.

Chlorophyll plays a part as well as it supports good liver function and helps in cleansing your bowels. Clean bowels means they work better, and the effect is less gas, bloating, and discomfort after eating.

Fights Anemia

The chlorophyll that is found in wheatgrass is similar to hemoglobin. This improves the overall oxygenation in the body. Next, red blood cell production in the body also improves. The increase of RBC count treats anemia. Anemia caused by a decrease in the supply of oxygen to vital organs and body tissues.

Battles Cancer

The amino acids, vitamins, and minerals found in wheatgrass get rid of the free radicals that cause tissue damage and increase the risk of cancer.

In addition, the high alkaline content of wheatgrass maintains the delicate pH balance the body needs. Maintaining optimal pH balance is essential in protecting the body against cancer. The high chlorophyll content in wheatgrass is a positive addition in maintaining normal cells and in preventing the growth of cancer cells.

This superfood also induces apoptosis, which is the self-destruction of cancerous cells. It also regulates immunological activity and fights against oxidative stress, which contributes to cell mutations.

And lastly, chlorophyll plays a part in cancer prevention. It has been known to increase hemoglobin production. This means the body is able to produce more oxygen. Cancer cells thrive in low-oxygen environments, so the more oxygen there is, the more defense available against cancer cells.

Purifies the Liver

The liver is one of the most important organs in your body. If your liver becomes overworked or gets a disease because of fatty buildup or some kind of damage, then a daily shot of wheatgrass is the way to go. This superfood reduces the buildup of lipid fats in the liver. This then greatly improves liver function.

Promotes Brain Health

This superfood possesses essential nutrients for a healthy brain. For example, its vitamin K content supports brain cell growth and also makes sure that cells are working normally. Vitamin C and folate assist in producing neurotransmitters. The job of these neurotransmitters is to contribute to the brain’s level of alertness, concentration, memory, and motivation.

Pumps Up Circulation

For those who want to get the most out of their workouts, wheatgrass juice will help you achieve your fitness goals. This drink has the ability to increase the amount of oxygen found in the blood. This then stimulates circulation in your system. This way, you get a higher amount of overall energy, making sure you exercise longer and give more to your workouts. In other words, wheatgrass can help you unleash your inner gym beast.

Kate B. Forsyth is a writer for Be Healthy Today, who specializes in health and nutrition. Her passion is to help people get an overall transformation of health that lasts a lifetime. In her blog posts, she goes beyond research by providing health-concerned citizens doable and simple tricks to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

Exercise and Asthma – Workout to Breathe Better

There’s a widespread fear of introducing a sports activity into the lives of children and adults with asthma, which is typically caused by a simple lack of understanding. Although asthma is one of the more common health issues, and even though it’s incurable, it can be managed, and it shouldn’t prevent anyone from regular physical activity.

Just like with any other condition, exercising in a controlled environment and following a set of simple guidelines can benefit anyone, and people with asthma are no exception. Let’s do some myth-busting!

Understanding Asthma

First of all, asthma is a chronic condition that causes an inflammation of airways, making them more susceptible to allergic reactions. The bronchial tubes become narrow and swollen, causing difficulty breathing, chest tightness, more mucus, wheezing and coughing, especially at night and in the morning.

Credit: https://tucsonallergyasthma.com

Naturally, this can make it more difficult for a person to take part in an activity, especially if it requires a high level of continuous endurance, such as running or cycling, which are more likely to cause an asthma attack. On the other hand, stop-and-go activities that allow regular breaks without compromising the difficulty of the exercise adapted to your needs can improve not only your overall fitness, but also strengthen your lungs and reduce asthma symptoms.

This means that sports such as moderate weightlifting that gradually increases in difficulty, martial arts, lighter activities like yoga, or team sports like baseball and volleyball can all be safely practiced by anyone with well-managed asthma. In fact, physical activity is highly recommended, because it will strengthen your immune system, improve your cardiovascular health and oxygen intake.

Prevent Exercise-Induced Asthma

Due to a large number of asthma attacks caused by intense workouts, people tend to get even more reluctant to go back to their training routine, or simply adapt it, believing that any amount of exercise can cause issues.

Credit: http://www.shulmanforcongress.com

The truth is that uncontrolled, fast breathing though your mouth is the main culprit of exercise-induced asthma, due to more dry, cold air travelling to your lungs and causing inflammation. Shortness of breath should not be mistaken for an asthma attack, so it’s important to learn the difference – the former will subside when you take a break and you’ll be able to resume your workout.

In order to prevent a potential asthma attack during your workout, there are several key steps you need to take. First and foremost, you should have your inhaler with you at all times. Warm up carefully before your routine, and make sure you control your breath as much as possible. This is crucial even for healthy athletes, to keep their heartrate healthy, and ensure proper core engagement, let alone for someone with asthma.

Use a timer to measure rest periods between your sets, to see how much time you need to regroup without losing intensity and the effect of your workout. Asthma is no excuse for making your training too easy. Challenging your current physical abilities is healthy, and it will be even more beneficial if you allow your body to overcome your limitations.

Managing Asthma

It would be ideal if all you needed was a weekly deadlift session to boost your body’s resilience. But once you have a solid workout plan down, there are several other steps you can take to ensure a healthy lifestyle that will alleviate your symptoms.

Since allergies are the most common cause of asthma, having the best air purifiers for allergies available in your home will allow you to breathe freely and expose your lungs to significantly less allergens, so make sure that you keep your living area clean of toxins and pollutants.

Keeping your home clean is crucial, so regular vacuuming, dusting and allowing the circulation of fresh air will make a huge difference in your life. Pay special attention to your mattress and wash your bedding on a regular basis (once a week will do the trick), and if possible, avoid unnecessary rugs, carpets and curtains that will attract dust. However, a house that is too clean can equally cause trouble, so find the right balance that will keep you healthy.

To Summarize

Although asthma is a pain in the neck, it doesn’t have to be a debilitating condition, so don’t allow it to become one, rather do your best to live a healthy life, don’t shy away from regular exercise and your body (especially your lungs) will be forever grateful.

Mathews McGarry is passionate about many forms of strength training, and spent years lifting, dragging and flipping all manner of heavy objects. After graduating from the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney, he started writing about his experiences, and sharing tips for better life. Follow him on Twitter.