Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Psychology to Change

I have an acquaintance who is a very neat and tidy person. He used to be a smoker and had tried quitting in the past but never could. One day he finally realized that this dirty habit was not in harmony with his lifestyle and self image. Once he made this realization, he was able to give it up and he has not smoked since.

Our perception of ourselves can make a huge difference when it comes to making changes in our lives. Do you see yourself as a fat or unhealthy person who is just pretending to live a healthy lifestyle? Do you think deep down that you are a poser and are just imitating the behaviors of fit people? It is important to change your thinking and self image if you want to make long term changes in your life.

Books like The Magic of Thinking Big, Psychocybernetics, Think and Grow Rich, The Secret, and The Magic of Believing are considered classics in the world of business and self help, but the financial principles they teach also carry over to other aspects of life. How we think about things is crucial to getting results.

Making changes can be very difficult so I am impressed whenever I see people overcome injury, diseases, alcoholism, other addictions, or any unhealthy habit. It's encouraging because if others can make those changes, then so can you and I. Remember that some of the physical changes you you want to make to your body need to start first in your head by having the proper frame of mind.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Laughter and Health

When I was a young boy, I remember my mom telling me about Norman Cousins. He was an author who was suffering with heart disease and he treated it by watching Marx Brothers movies and other comedies continually until he laughed himself back to health. He wrote a book called Anatomy of Illness  in 1979 which details his story. 

I'm sure there are many who would criticize his claim that laughter can cure disease. It is, however, obvious that laughter is a positive emotion, and I believe it has a positive effect on one's body. Laughter has been credited with reducing pain, increasing one's pulse, increasing blood flow and oxygenation of blood, releasing endorphins, boosting the immune system, difusing tension, and relieving stress.

I don't claim laughter can cure any disease. If I broke my leg and was sent to the emergency room, I wouldn't be content with an orderly reading to me from a joke book, but I've been surprised to learn that humor therapy is an alternative form of treatment used for many  serious diseases and ailments.

It's hard to feel sick or depressed when one is laughing. Most of us feel better when we associate with jovial people who have a sense of humor and are light hearted, as opposed to grumpy people who are too serious.

Benny Hill, Jim Carey, Brian Regan, and Jim Gaffigan may do more to contribute to our good health than we know. Laughter is good medicine.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Most Over Rated Exercises

I've seen a lot of people work out in the gym over the years and I've noticed that some exercises and machines are much more popular than others. I've made a list of some of the exercises that I feel may be overrated. I'm not saying these are bad exercises. There is a time and a place for them, but I think people rely too heavily on the exercises below.

The leg adductor/abductor- I wish I had a dime for every time I saw a girl come in the gym and go straight to these machines. This machine has it's place. It will strengthen legs and is probably good for physical therapy and body building, but it is not a cure for melting fat off of your thighs since most of it's users think they are spot reducing.

Leg Extensions- I enjoy the leg extension machine, but it's an easy isolation exercise as opposed to a compound movement. This exercise can  put a lot of stress on your knees. Lunges and squats are a better alternative for working your legs.

Bench Press- This is probably the most popular exercise in the gym. There's nothing wrong with the bench press, but so many people are dependent on it when it comes to a chest workout. The bench presses are always busy, but I could count on one hand how many times I've seen people doing push ups at the gym.

Ab Machines- These are fun machines, but they don't give you the total workout that you might get by doing knee ups, planks, curls, chops, etc. Also people usually associate 6 pack abs with ab exercises. Losing fat and watching what you eat has much more influence on a six pack than how many sit ups you can do.

Almost any gadget you can buy on TV- Most of these machines are low quality. Don't expect some aluminum and plastic machine that folds up under your bed or easily hides in a closet to be sturdy enough to last. You're usually better off doing body weight exercises and those won't even cost you anything either.

I hope I'm not stepping on any toes by labeling these exercises. I occasionally do some of these exercises, but I just think they are frequently over used and over rated.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Raw Foods

I recently watched a documentary called Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 days. It featured an experiment where 6 diabetics from different parts of the country move to a ranch in Arizona and ate a completely raw vegan diet for 30 days. It was almost like a reality TV show, but there was no hype and the participants were not competing against each other. It was very entertaining and I really enjoyed it. 

I understand that a documentary featuring 6 people does not qualify as a scientific study, but the results of this experiment were very impressive. One participant left mid month because he couldn't handle the diet. All of the others that followed the diet for a month lost weight, were able to stop taking insulin shots, and were able to get off their many medications they had previously been on.

I 've heard of people who make drastic changes to their diet once they've been diagnosed with diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and other diseases. These dietary changes often involve avoiding processed foods, meats, alcohol, sugar, and eating more fruits and vegetables. It is common for people to see improvements when they make such dietary changes, although I don't claim that changing your nutrition will cure every disease. It is obvious, however that our diet affects our health and most Americans are only compounding or even causing their health problems with their poor food choices.

I'm not a vegetarian, vegan, or a tree hugger, but I really like the emphasis that these eating philosophies put on enjoying live food. I still eat meat, but when I think about it, instinctively it makes more sense to eat live foods than dead animals. I strongly believe that if more people were to reduce their intake of processed foods and ate more fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, etc, they would be much healthier. It just makes sense to eat more live food. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

25 Healthy Eating Tips

I'd like to share some tips that have helped Your Fitness Quest clients eat better and lose weight over the years. I know that many experts have differing opinions about some of these suggestions, but I believe these tips are helpful to the average person who is trying to eat healthier and lose weight. These may just be small and simple actions, but as you start to combine them, they can make a big difference. These are only general guidelines and you should always consult a physician or registered dietitian if you have questions or concerns about your health or nutritional needs.

1. Avoid overeating by eating smaller portions more frequently throughout the day.
2. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
3. Avoid carbonated, caffeinated, and sugar based drinks (soda pop).
4. Avoid foods prepared in grease and oil. Steam rather than fry foods when possible.
5. Use non fat dairy products like skim milk, non-fat cottage cheese, and yogurt.
6 Eat less highly processed foods like white bread and pre-packaged foods.
7. Choose whole grain cereals, breads, and pastas and eat foods that are high in fiber.
8. Eat all the raw vegetables you want, especially when you feel like snacking.
9. Don't grocery shop on an empty stomach.
10. Get familiar with food labels and watch for the misleading claims.
11. Avoid saturated, hydrogenated, and trans fats. Olive oil is a healthier option.
12. Don't snack late at night or eat big meals right before going to bed.
13. Use a multi-vitamin if you think you may be deficient in any micro nutrients.
14. Substitute fresh fruit for high calorie desserts.
15. Use leaner meat sources like chicken, turkey, or fish. Remove skin from poultry.
16. Replace jam jellies, and syrups with applesauce and fresh fruit toppings.
17. When eating out, order a salad and order light dressing on the side.
18. Share large entrees with someone or eat half and take the rest home in a doggy bag.
19. Don't be afraid to ask for substitutions (salad or fruit for fries).
20. Don't confuse thirst, boredom, or stress with hunger.
21. Plan your meals the night before. Healthy eating never happens by accident.
22. Sit down to eat and really enjoy your meals. Don't eat on the run.
23. Set aside one day a week to eat whatever you want without any guilt.
24. Eat a variety of foods so you don't get bored with eating the same thing all the time.
25. Use a food journal to help you identify and improve your eating habits.