Thursday, December 17, 2009

Finishing the Year Strong

This time of year I see a lot of people who have given up on any goals (especially fitness related goals) and they are just coasting through the end of the year before they gear up to make any changes or resolutions in 2010.

I am impressed when I see people who are still disciplined with what they eat and continue working out despite the fact the holidays are upon us. They will have less de-conditioning and weight gain to deal with at the first of the year.

Don't give up on healthy habits just because you have several Christmas parties and junk food surrounding you for the next couple weeks. You can still eat reasonable amounts of holiday food and maintain your weight. The problem is when people give up and decide to binge eat from Halloween until New Years Eve, saying they are going to get serious and get in shape at the first of the year.

Finish the year strong and you will be far ahead of everyone else who is going to be starting from scratch again at the beginning of the year. You still have 15 days days to work towards what you wanted to accomplish in 2009!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Power of Full Engagement

I was talking to a friend recently about increased energy levels and he recommended the book The Power of Full Engagement. I just finished reading it and enjoyed it. The premise to the book is that even more important than time management, we should focus on managing our energy. The book addresses physical, mental, social, and spiritual issues and how they affect our energy and productivity.

The authors are Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. They do consulting work for corporate executives, professional athletes, and others who are looking to increase productivity in their lives and occupations, but the principles in the book can apply anyone.

The book first focused on the importance of nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, and other activities that impact one's productivity, but it later addressed mental, social, and spiritual items and how they can create renewal. They use many case studies examples and explain how their recommendations can help people overcome the bad habits that are draining their productivity and happiness.

I think that this book would appeal to anyone who is trying to figure out how to fit more into their day or to accomplish more and improve their performance. I also think you will live a healthier lifestyle by following many of the principles it promotes.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Stress Management

I have taken stress management courses in the past which I found to be very helpful. Stress can be a killer if you don't know how to cope with it. Obviously some stress is good or we'd be unproductive, athletics would be boring to watch, and we'd never get anything done. Good stress is referred to as eustress and is beneficial in our lives. It's the bad chronic stress we need to watch out for since it will wear down your body and mind.

I hate to make broad generalizations and stereotypes, but I am envious of my Polynesian friends who always seem to be relaxed and fun to be around. I don't know if it is just a cultural difference, but there are times I'd like a Hawaiian blood transfusion. Obviously there is much more to understanding stress than determining if you are a type A or B personality. Even the most kicked back personalities have to deal with stress.

There are many ways people deal with stress. Some turn to things like procrastination or stress induced eating, but these only compound your problems and make things worse. Instead try to incorporate some of the following practices into your daily routine.

Deep Breathing
Learn how to say no to people
Take short breaks from work to relax
Write in a journal
Have a support group/talk to friends
Watch a funny movie
Take a hot bath or get a massage
Improve your time management skills
Take time off or go on vacation

Failure to cope with stress properly can be detrimental to your health. Keeping it bottled up only makes things worse, so figure what techniques work best for you. One of the biggest causes of free radicals is stress. Participating in one of these stress reduction strategies could be as beneficial as eating a meal rich in antioxidants. I think that getting a massage may be as good for you as eating a plate of broccoli.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Helping Others

I know when I try to focus on improving my health it is easy to get consumed with my favorite subject-me. Am I eating like I should? Am I getting enough sleep? What exercises should I be doing? Can you pick up on the trend? As important as I think it is to do these things I can see how some people including myself can get self absorbed with their quest to improve their health.

In order to improve the quality of one's life and health, I think it is also important to watch out for others. Serving others and helping other people will bring you greater joy in your life than you could get if you had the ideal weight, measurements, and body fat composition. I also believe it gives a person more purpose. I have read many studies which indicate people with family, friends, and pets to care for are healthier and live longer.

That reminds me of Dr. Victor Frankl who was a psychiatrist who spent time in several concentration camps during World War 2. He attributed the survival of many of the prisoners he observed to their ability to serve and take care of others under such horrific conditions rather than focusing on their own suffering.

I believe there is a link between altruism and not only improved mental and emotional health, but also physical health. Developing one's social health and helping others is not usually recognized as a component of fitness programs, but it can make a positive difference.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Candy Bar Data

With Halloween approaching, I thought it would be appropriate to address candy bars since most of us will likely be eating one (or several) around Halloween. Many years ago I decided to do some research. I wanted to compare the nutrients for several popular candy bars, but I didn't want to be a tight wad and stand in the candy isle with a clip board writing down all the data, so I went ahead and purchased a ton of candy. I volunteered my body to science as I compared, analyzed, and then ate all of the following candy bars listed below.
I wanted to know if someone was going to eat a candy bar, which ones would do the most or least damage. I created a spread sheet which allowed me to sort them by calories, fat grams, saturated fat, carbs, protein, sugar, and sodium content. I have been trying to import my spreadsheet into blogger for a couple weeks now, but since I am challenged in this area I am just going to list the candy bars by calories.

Salted Nut Roll 340 calories (largest candy with the most protein & sodium)
Big Kat 290 (had the most saturated fat with 10 grams)
Snickers 280
Baby Ruth 280 (had the most sugar with 31 grams)
Twix 280
5th Avenue 280
Butterfinger 270
Milky Way 270
Mr. Goodbar 270 (ties Salted Nut roll with most fat grams-16)
Payday 260
Three Musketeers 260 (the highest amount of carbs with 46 grams)
Rolos 260
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups 250
Mounds 250
M & M Peanuts 250
Mars Bar 240
Almond Joy 240
Rocky Road 240
M & M Plain 240
Watchamacallit 230
Crunch 230
Hersheys Regular 230
Hersheys w/Almonds 230 (had the least sugar-18 grams & lowest carbs-20)
Skor 220 (the smallest candy bar at only 1.40 oz.)
Reese's Pieces 220
Krackel 220
Kit Kat 220
Caramello 210
Junior Mints 210 (along with York Patty had the lowest sodium 10 mg)
$100,000 Bar 190
York Mint Patty 170 (lowest in fat 3 grams and saturated fat 2 grams)

*Some of the data may have changed recently. I've noticed that many candy bars keep getting smaller each time I got to the store so the serving sizes and overall numbers may be slightly off since I originally compiled this data nearly 10 years ago.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Periodization is the process of changing one's work out over time so your body doesn't stop responding to the the usual workout stimulus. If you always do the same exercise routine, your body will eventually adapt and stop making gains. Without changing your workout, weight load, or intensity, it is easy to hit a plateau and stop seeing results.

When you make changes to your routine, it can shock the body into new progress. It is best to find a variety of exercises that can work the same muscle group you are trying to work. If all you ever do is the same exercise, you can get burnt out, over trained, and stop making progress.

Periodization also is the process of planning and cycling through different phases over the course of the year in order to get specific results or peak at a specific time. This involves dividing the year into different cycles. Long periods are referred to macrocycles. Cycles that last for several weeks or months are mesocycles. Daily periods are microcycles.

If an athlete tries to maintain peak performance year round then they are setting themselves up for over training, fatigue, and injury. Over the course of the year an athlete will go through different periodization phases. These may include cycles of emphasis on hypertrophy, strength, power, and then peaking at a certain time for their given event. Scheduling active rest and recovery is also an important part of periodization.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Personal Trainer Survey

I got certified as a personal trainer back in 2001 with 3 different organizations. I recently finished up my University degree in exercise science and I am training clients regularly again. I want to do a little market research for Your Fitness Quest and would appreciate your feedback. Please answer the following 10 questions in the comments section. If you don't have a blogger login, you can just publish your answers as anonymous.

1. Have you ever worked with a trainer?
2. Do you prefer working out at home, in a gym, or outside?
3. Do you prefer individual training or group workouts?
4. Do you have any fears or concerns about using a personal trainer?
5. Under ideal circumstances, how often would you work with a trainer?
6. Rank the 3 areas of improvement that are the most appealing to you from the choices below:
(appearance, energy level, athletic performance, weight loss, nutrition)
7. Which would say is the single most important benefit of using a trainer?
(education, customization, accountability, motivation, safety, or other)
8. What is the least you would expect a trainer to charge per session?
9. What is the most you would be willing to pay per session?
10. On a scale of 1-10 how important is a fit appearance for a personal trainer?

Thanks so much for taking the time to to give me your feedback. I appreciate it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Macronutrients are the nutrients that we consume in large portions which provide our bodies with energy. They are categorized as either carbohydrates, protein, or fat. There is a lot of conflicting advice as to what percentage of your diet should come from foods in each of these groups. Many people think all fat is bad, some over estimate their protein needs and many people fear carbs, which is ironic since carbohydrates are the body's preferred fuel source.

Each of these three categories are important for balanced nutrition and good health. Over the years I have kept track of the percentages of macronutrients recommended by various health organizations. Listed below are their recommendations for the percentages of Carbohydrates/Protein/and Fat in your diet.

International Sports & Sciences Association 50-80/ 30 /15
National Academy of Sports Medicine 55-75 / 10-25 / 10-30
American College of Sports Medicine 55-58 / 12-15 /25-30
American Council on Exercise 55-65 /15-20 / 20-30
BYU-Y Be Fit Program 65 /15 / 20
Weight Watchers 45-65 /10-35 /20-35

As you can see, there is still quite a range and some discrepancies even among the experts. My personal opinion for a good balance is 50-60% carbs, 15-20% protein, and 20-25% fat. These are guidelines for the general population. If you have special needs it is always best to consult a nutritionist. It is also important to remember that there are good and bad foods in each of these categories. Not all carbs or fats are created equal. You will most likely eat appropriate ratios of these macronutrients and make healthier food choices if you follow the new USDA food pyramid.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Everyone I talk to wishes they had more energy. One definition of energy is the ability to do work. When discussing this topic, it is important to keep in mind the First Law of Thermodynamics which states that energy can not be created or destroyed. It can only be converted from one form to another.

There are several forms of energy. Some of these include chemical, electrical, kinetic, thermal, radiant, electromagnetic, and nuclear. The Sun is the ultimate source of energy for us. It is nuclear energy and is converted to other forms of energy that we use on a daily basis.

When we talk about fitness, sports, and performance, there are several energy systems that are used to power your body. I am the furthest thing from a scientist so I will briefly describe what each system is and give a practical application because, after all, who cares about hydrogen ions and modulators, and enzyme systems if you don't know how it relates to your performance?
ATP-PC (adenosine tri-phosphate phospho-creatine system) also known as the phosphogen system. This system can only be used for short bursts of energy for less than 15 seconds and does not use oxygen. Sports like shot put, golf swings, and sprinting short distances are fueled by ATP.
Anaerobic Glycolosis is the process of breaking down glucose without the use of oxygen. It can provide energy for intense activities for only a few minutes before lactic acid builds up and causes fatigue and this is why it is sometimes referred to as the lactic acid system.
The Aerobic or Oxygen systems include the following:
Aerobic Glycolosis utilizes oxygen to convert nutrients into ATP. It utilizes muscle glycogen to provide energy. It becomes the main energy source after about 3 minutes of exercising an can produce energy for over an hour.
The Krebs Cycle also known as the citric acid cycle (see above diagram) is a series of biochemical changes that converts nutrients into stored energy for future use.
Electron Transport System involves a series of reactions, in which electrons and hydrogen are transferred from one chemical to another. This system is also utilized for long distance aerobic activities like long distance swimming and marathons.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Plastic Surgery

Cosmetic surgery is an interesting topic and it is becoming more popular each year. According to the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery there were 11.7 million cosmetic procedures performed in 2007. I'm sure that number has only grown since then.

I'd like to preface this post by saying I think cosmetic and reconstructive surgery can be a great blessing for many people who have been disfigured by accidents or birth defects. Cosmetic surgery may help some feel more confident by correcting physical abnormalities, however this topic is usually dominated by celebrities and surgery addicts that we see in the media. Most cases we read about or see on T.V. are done out of vanity rather than necessity, but unless we are talking about extreme cases, I'm not going to pass judgement in this post.

Years ago I read the book Psycho Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz. He was a plastic surgeon and he made some interesting observations from years of practice. He found that some of his patients had increased confidence and better self esteem after surgery but many others did not. He promoted visualization and self affirmation techniques to those who were still lacking confidence after surgery. He concluded that more important than one's appearance is how people really feel about themselves.

As cosmetic procedures become more popular, I guess it's only a matter of time until you see plastic surgery offered at Costco or at the mall. I've heard some people say how happy they are with their surgery but I've heard others express regret. It's obviously a good idea to get all the facts and do your homework before submitting to any surgical procedure, especially an elective one that you may not need.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Whole Foods

I have recently become more aware of the increasing number of ingredients I have been seeing on food labels. Sometimes I am baffled at how many ingredients show up in simple foods. In a week moment I recently bought some instant Alfredo noodles that are made by Nissin which is the same company that makes ramen noodles. It included 3 flavor packs and one was referred to as "liquid seasoning". This peaked my curiosity so I read the ingredients and there were close to 60 and I didn't recognize many of them.

In order to understand some labels it helps to have a PHD in chemistry so you can pronounce some of the ingredients. Many of these are added to improve color, taste, texture, and to help preserve the food. I understand why they are added, but it makes me wonder how healthy these foods really are.

Many foods we eat have been so processed and refined that we miss out on some of the food benefits they offer in their natural state like fiber and antioxidants. White bread made with refined flour has little nutrition value so it is usually fortified to compensate. Whole foods have many benefits, but when you peel the apple or refine the wheat you begin to lose some of the benefits of that food.

I have heard a couple simple rules that I think could be helpful suggestions when trying to make healthy food choices. If a food has more than 15 ingredients then be careful and if it didn't exist 1,000 years ago you may want to avoid it. This would eliminate foods like like Cheetos, Cheese whiz, Gogurt, Captain Crunch, etc.

I am not an extremist. I am not even really into organic food. I try to eat healthy but I occasionally enjoy food that I know has little nutritional value. I think everyone would benefit by eating more whole foods in their natural state as opposed to something that is orange flavored and colored but has none of the benefits of an actual orange. When faced with a choice of highly processed foods or food in it's natural state, go with the whole foods.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tattoos & Piercings

I was recently watching some old video tapes of NBA All Star games that I had recorded over the years. Whenever I watch old footage I expect to see shorter shorts and old hairstyles, but one unexpected thing really jumped out at me. The tapes I was watching showcased the biggest NBA stars in the late 80's and early 90's and I could not see one tattoo on the court. Even up until 1992 I could not see any players with visible tattoos and Dennis Rodman was even playing in that game!

Contrast that with today. It's rare to find a professional athlete or an Olympian who does not have a tattoo. Body piercing is another popular trend that I just don't get. Sometimes I see young guys at the mall that go crazy with facial piercing or with gauges in their ears. What's the deal with that? I can understand if you are a member of an African or Aboriginal tribe and that is a normal part of your culture, but I can't understand the appeal it has to so many people to mutilate their bodies.

Several years ago while I was working out at the gym I noticed a big dude near me with a barbed wire tattoo around his bicep. A younger kid came up to him and said "That's a cool tat." The kid was shocked when the his compliment was not accepted kindly. The guy snarled back how he regretted it and it and said it was the dumbest thing he'd ever done. I was surprised by his reaction and his regret for having what many considered to be such a cool fashion statement.

I know there are many great people with tattoos and piercings so don't think I'm judging them or labeling them as bad. Tattoos may be popular today, but that can quickly change and unfortunately we live in a world where people are judged by their appearances. Because of this, I suggest people think things through before doing something that will permanently change their body. If you want to express your tastes and styles then do it with clothes. At least you can change out of them when they are no longer cool or in style. Your skin is an amazing organ. You should respect your body and take good care of it rather than color it and draw all over it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


I have always had the physique and posture of Shaggy on Scooby Doo. I grew up being one of the tallest in my class and had the nickname "long arms" . When I got certified with NASM I learned that the correct phrase to describe my bent over posture was not lurpy but rather pronation distortion syndrome.

Posture effects more than one's appearance. Poor posture can interfere with muscle balance, cause strained muscles, neck and back pain, and impair proper breathing. Your posture is affected not only by how you stand, but how you sit, exercise, work, and sleep. Other culprits are large wallets in back pockets, wearing high heels, regularly carrying a heavy shoulder bag on one side of your body. Other little things include holding a phone between your ear and shoulder. Due to technology more people have sedentary work and spend a great deal of time sitting. Slouching over a computer for an extended amount of time is not uncommon for many people.

Good posture allows your body to be in alignment and balanced. If you were to draw a straight line down the side of your body, then your ear, shoulder, hip, and knee should all be in alignment if your posture is good. Having good posture has many benefits. It can help you breathe deeper and easier, it can improve back health and reduce back pain. It gives you a more confident appearance and causes you to look taller and thinner.

Here are some ideas to help you improve your posture:
*Use a swiss ball to sit on to strengthen core muscles.
*Use an ergonomic keyboard and other equipment.
*Stretch periodically if you find yourself sitting for extended periods of time.
*Invest is a good mattress and avoid sleeping on your stomach.
*Use a backpack instead of a shoulder bag since it will disperse weight evenly.
*Keep your muscles toned and strengthened with regular exercise.
*When you work out use proper form and don't neglect certain muscle groups.
*Monitor your stress levels and be aware of building shoulder tension.
*Pay more attention to and take more frequent notice of your posture.

I'm adding improving my posture to my list of habits to work on.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Before Setting Your Goals...

It's easy for a person to want to change poor habits, lose weight, or get in better shape, but the difficult part is actually carrying out your plans. Before you decide to do any of these things you should determine what your motivation level is and how committed you really are. Here are some questions you might ask yourself prior to making any major lifestyle change.

Is your spouse/family supportive of your goals?
Does your schedule allow you to exercise or eat as you are planning?
Are the goals you set in harmony with your budget?
In the past, have you ever weighed as much as your goal weight?
Are you motivated for health or cosmetic reasons?
Do you have someone to be accountable to for your results?
Do you have any medical conditions that may interfere with your goal?
How long did it take you to gain the weight you want to lose?
Is anyone close to you trying to sabotage your efforts?
Is your planned lifestyle change drastically different from your current habits?

I'm not trying to talk anyone out of achieving better health, I just think it is helpful to identify potential challenges before you hit them. It's not fun to fail over and over again. People need to be realistic and take an honest assessment of where they are before they can move to where they want to be. In order to have success in reaching your goals, you need to specifically define what you want and then determine what it will take to achieve your goals.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Nutrition and Advertising Aimed at Children

For anyone wondering if advertising to children pays off all you need to do is look at the the indoor playgrounds at McDonalds and the cartoon characters adorning cold cereal boxes. The advertising industry understands the power that children have as consumers and that is why they aggressively market their products to children.

Despite not having excessive disposable income, children and adolescents influence the purchasing choices their parents make. This factor is referred to as “pester power” by marketers. They are also marketed to at an early age because advertisers understand that children are future adult consumers. The sooner a marketer can develop product recognition and loyalty the more money in makes them in the long run.

To familiarize myself with this topic I thought I'd do some practical research. I have a lot of kids but we don't have cable TV and my kids seldom watch television. It's been a long time since I've watched cartoons so I checked them out recently to see what kind of advertising was associated with them. Side note-After seeing the kind of cartoons people watch today I made the following post entitled Ugly Cartoon Characters on my other blog.

Some of the research I looked into showed that kids actually watch less TV on Saturday mornings than they used to years ago, but they now watch more prime time television. I can't say I blame companies for advertising to kids, but the problem is most of their products are for cold cereal, pop, candy, and other high calorie and low nutrient foods. You just don't see the same bright colorful packaging and emphasis on foods like whole grains and fruits and vegetables. I'm not the kind of person who complains about this and expects the government to make excessive rules about advertising, but I do think parents should be aware of the marketing efforts being directed at their kids since childhood obesity is more prevalent than it has ever been before.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Molecules of Emotion

I recently finished reading Molecules of Emotion by Candace Pert PHD. This book was interesting but it took a while to unfold. I found the science side interesting and although I understood the basic concepts the author was describing I have to admit most of it was over my head. This book would have been more difficult to follow had the author not shared her personal experiences about her career. I thought her stories about the politics of research and her unfair treatment due to being a female scientist were much more interesting than the specific scientific discoveries and accomplishments featured in the book. I was also surprised to learn the field of science could be as competitive and as professional sports or an episode of Survivor.

Due to the title of the book I was expecting more information about emotions and human health, but found myself wondering when she was going to address the practical application of this topic. By the time I was half way through the book I still wasn't sure if I had purchased the right book. The book highlights her quest for several scientific discoveries in the field of psychoneuroimmunology. I was impressed with the amount of persistence Pert showed as she consistently came across obstacles and setbacks prior to each break through. Some of these were scientific setbacks but many were due to working with other people and having to deal with the politics of each institution or organization she worked for. I found it ironic that despite the competitive nature of her work there was quite a bit of collaboration and cooperation that helped propel these scientists on to their next hypothesis or discovery.

It wasn't until about two thirds into the book that the practical application of mind body medicine was emphasized and that was what I was looking for. As the book progresses, Pert tells of her "conversion" from a strict modern scientist to her acceptance of traditional and Eastern mind/body/spirit practices. I think her endorsement of many of these practices lends some much needed credibility to Alternative medicine since she was such an accomplished scientist coming from the other end of the spectrum. Overall I found this book to be enlightening even though it didn't address the aspects I was most interested immediately.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Culprit & The Cure

I recently read The Culprit & The Cure by Steven C. Aldana. The subtitle to the book is "Why lifestyle is the culprit behind America's poor health and how transforming that lifestyle can be the cure". This book is an excellent guide to making simple lifestyle changes. The author is a PHD and obviously has a scientific background but he has written the book in a way which is very easy to read and understand. He takes the same approach that I do with this blog by attempting to keep things simple so they appeal to the masses. (No I'm not insinuating that you are dumb if you read my blog.)

This book very clearly points out that the diseases that are the biggest causes of death and illness in America today can often be prevented or delayed by living a healthy lifestyle. The author emphasizes a diet based on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and stresses the healthy eating pyramid as opposed to the older food pyramid guidelines that many of us grew up with. He doesn't prohibit meat or dairy but suggests consuming them in moderation.

Many times throughout the book he stresses "that in order to attain the most benefits from physical activity that all individuals should accumulate 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week." He gives many great suggestions how people can increase their activity level and become more active. I liked this book because he focused on the basics of eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly which are two vital parts to maintaining a healthy body weight.

If you are looking for an enlightening book that will encourage you to eat healthier, exercise regularly, and develop a healthy lifestyle then I highly recommend The Culprit & The Cure. It focuses on simple lifestyle changes not the latest fad diets, or extreme measures. The more I learn about wellness and fitness, the more I think success really boils down to the little daily habits that we consistently make because they make a huge difference over time. I really believe that the majority of our nation's health problems could be solved if individuals would just incorporate the simple principles this book promotes.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Benefits of Regular Exercise

I have been putting this topic off for a while since I've been so busy but it's time for me to start consistently exercising again. I've only been exercising 2-3 times a week which is better than not exercising at all, but I know there are even greater benefits if one exercises 5-6 days a week. Remember that exercise doesn't have to be excessive or hurt in order to benefit from it. "No pain no gain" is a myth. The key is consistency. Also remember to consult a physician before starting a fitness program.

The benefits of being physically active are plentiful. Exercise has been shown to decrease the risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, some cancers, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Here are some of the additional benefits that consistent physical exercise can offer:

*Lowers LDL bad cholesterol and increases HDL good cholesterol
*Lowers resting heart rate and pulse which makes heart more efficient
*Increases muscle mass which improves metabolism and appearance
*Helps to burn calories and enhance weight loss
*Increases energy levels throughout the day
*Strengthens not only skeletal muscles but also heart and lungs
*Allows greater endurance and strength for daily physical activity
*Is a great form of stress reduction
*Can improve your mood and depression due to the release of endorphins
*Can help you sleep better throughout the night
*Weight bearing exercise promotes bone density
*Keeps you from getting sick as often and may help you live longer
*It gives you more confidence and helps you feel better
*Helps you age gracefully and causes you to lose lean body mass slower as you get older

You would have to be crazy to not to want these benefits, so I am calling a quit to my insanity and am adding regular exercise 5-6 times per week as my newest weekly commitment. I invite you to do the same if you aren't already doing so.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Course Corrections

I've been making some good progress since the first of the year but this last week I started slacking in the nutrition department. I ate more fast food and junk than I usually do. The day before Valentines all of my coworkers brought a plate of cookies to work to share except for me. I felt so bad about not contributing and didn't want to be a party pooper so I ate a ton of dessert. In the past when I would encounter a scenario like this I would say "why bother" and revert back to my old ways of eating like a drunken sailor. Fortunately since I have a fitness blog that makes me an authority in the industry and I am an example for society. I no longer have the luxury of giving up. Little children look up to me. You should start your own fitness blog if for no other reason that it helps you work harder as you try not to be a hypocrite.

It is normal to have minor lapses so I am not going to stress over it. I have still lost 6 pounds since Christmas so it's not like I've had a major relapse. My point for today is that when you have a setback it is not such a big deal if you can get over it fast and get back on track again. So if you have lapsed into bad habits or are starting to slide on some of your resolutions and goals just make a course correction and start over and get moving in the right direction again. You can do it!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Seat Belts

I have struggled in the past with the debate between excessive government legislation and people just using common sense. I'm a proponent of seat belts but I am also in favor of individual choice. As dumb as I think it is to do things that are unhealthy for you, I am still not a huge fan of the government telling people what they have to do. I understand that those who don't protect themselves can pass on great costs and loss to others in society. I acknowledge that their choices can affect the public, but where do you draw the line when it comes to government prevention? I'll get off my soap box now.

Over the years I have taken health assessments and was always surprised when they asked if I always wore my seat belt when riding in cars or is I wore safety goggles when I use a weed trimmer or power equipment. At first I thought they should mind their own business and just measure my blood pressure and cholesterol to determine how healthy I was. After giving it some thought I had to admit that these simple preventative measures can have a big impact on your health.

I almost always wear my seat belt but there are times I forget to or try to justify that it isn't necessary. Sometimes I struggle if I'm only driving a short distance like on my way home from Church. One doesn't usually visualize getting into horrible accidents just blocks from their home on a quiet Sunday afternoon. I have to admit that in the past my biggest motivation for buckling up was because I feared getting a ticket. I guess that proves that the legislation does help. I've heard rare cases of someone who was saved because they were not wearing a seat belt, but studies show an overwhelming advantage to those who do use seat belts.

As much as I don't like being told what to do, it definitely makes sense to always wear a seat belt so I will. I am no longer doing it out of fear of the law, but because I know it's a healthy practice and I can help my kids develop this habit through my example. I'm adding this practice to my weekly commitments for the year.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Glycemic Index

The glycemic index is a system that was originally developed for diabetics in an effort to help manage glucose levels. It rates the speed at which carbohydrates are converted to glucose. As a general rule complex carbohydrates are converted slower and provide consistent absorption of glucose which corresponds to more stable energy levels. Refined or simple carbs are broken down and absorbed faster and can cause spikes in energy levels.

The index categorizes foods within in a range that goes up to 100 with pure glucose being rated at 100. Foods that have a lower number on this index provide more stable energy for longer periods of time. I have listed some foods below and it may surprise you to see where some of them fall within the index.

green beans-15
skim milk-32
frozen peas-39
baked beans-44
orange juice-46
chocolate bar-49
brown rice-59
ice cream-61
white sugar-68
white bread-70
rice cakes-78
jelly beans-80
corn flakes-84
baked potato-85
white rice-88

After seeing these numbers some people jump to conclusions and start labeling foods as "good and bad" according to their number. Some healthy foods have a high score and some foods not known for their health benefits might be lower. Ice cream and candy bars are lower than oatmeal and bananas but that doesn't they obviously aren't better for you.

There are many other factors to take into account when discussing the glycemic index such as calorie content, your current health condition, the combination of foods, the actual glycemic load, and much more. I'm not a registered dietitian and I don't play one on TV either, I'm just a guy who is excited about getting healthier and encouraging others to do so too. My point is if you are trying to eat less and are snacking on things like rice cakes, jelly beans, and watermelon you will get tired and hungrier faster than if you ate foods with lower scores.

By the way what does it take to get someone to comment on this blog? I know it's not as entertaining as Facebook or Youtube but there must be someone reading. Maybe I just need to be more controversial.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Weekly Commitment

Like most people, I am aware of many habits and lifestyle changes I should make in order to be healthier. It's hard to take them all on at the same time so I am designing a new program this year. Rather than try to change or commit to everything at once (which I know I couldn't do succesfully), I will start working on a new area to improve on each week. Once I make the new change I will commit to it throughout the year. My purpose is to create a better environment for success by slowly easing into the lifestyle changes I need to make and sticking with them until they becomes habits.

Each week I will address and add an additional component to a nutrition or fitness goal to the program. Some of these might be smaller or easier than others but they will all add up and make a difference over the course of the year. I have created a new sidebar list towards the bottom of the page called my weekly commitment which I will add to throughout the year. I invite you to join me making these changes if you could improve on any of the topics I list.

My first commitment for 2009 is to stop drinking sugar based, caffeinated, or carbonated drinks. Yes, I am going off of soda pop. I don't drink it much and I hardly ever buy it, but it seems to be offered to me a lot. Root beer is my weakness especially when it's served with pizza. At this point in my life my metabolism has slowed down and I just don't need the extra sugar and empty calories in my diet. Don't feel bad for me though because there is still a lot of unhealthy stuff I can eat. Once I commit to going off sweets and fried foods then you can feel sorry for me.