Monday, October 29, 2012

Keeping Fitness Simple

It's easy to get overwhelmed when you're trying to live a healthy life and make the right decisions, but fitness doesn't have to be complicated. I think most people will have greater success with their goals if they keep it simple. Here are 4 basic guidelines to keep in mind as you are trying to live a healthier life.

1) Don't stress out over the latest studies you hear about on the news. In the past I would get confused and frustrated with all the conflicting information out there. It seemed that even the "experts" couldn't agree with each other on many health and fitness topics. I try not to have a knee-jerk reaction anymore when I hear about the most recent findings from the latest scientific study. Remember the guy on the twinkie diet last year who lost weight? The media loves reporting stuff like that, even though it is not beneficial to anyone. Some people will change their plans each time they hear about a new finding. Instead of always trying to adapt to the most recent news or trends, just use some common sense and be consistent with your efforts.

2) There is no single exercise program or diet that is the best for everyone. There are many disciplines and philosophies when it comes to exercise and nutrition. Even though many of us might love something and believe that it is the "one supreme program to rule them all", this may not be the case. Each of these unique systems have helped people get results and they all have their poster child who swears by it. When your life has been changed by a particular eating philosophy or workout routine it's hard not to be excited and want to tell everyone else that is what they need to be doing, but what works for one person may not work for someone else. This means you really need to customize your program according to YOUR goals, preferences, and abilities if you are going to stick with it and be successful.

3) Eat more whole foods in their natural state. Avoid highly processed foods that are high in sugar, salt, preservatives, and calories. I'm not a vegetarian, but I am moving closer in that direction with time. I believe the masses would be much healthier if they just ate more whole foods in their natural state and consumed less processed foods. A quick way to tell if you are eating processed foods is by looking at the ingredients. A food is highly processed if 1) there are more than 10 ingredients, 2) you can't pronounce half of them, 3) it sounds like you are reading a chemistry book rather than reading a food label.

When it comes to nutrition, I love reminding people of the simple concepts: balance, variety, and moderation. Applying these principles not only to your diet but also in your life can help you avoid extremes and keep you grounded.

4) Increase your physical activity. Exercise provides so many benefits and helps you feel great, but many people are missing out on this, since we live in such a sedentary society. Look for ways to use your body and keep it active. Exercise should be fun, not a punishment. Find something you love doing in order to stay active.

These four guidelines might sound vague or too simple, but little things can make a big difference over time and simplifying things can also keep you from feeling overwhelmed. Take a look at your lifestyle and identify a couple simple things that you could do to improve the quality of your life.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Your Fitness Quest Videos

I recently started making some short videos where I address topics related to exercise, fitness, and nutrition. I should have started this process years ago but I've put it off since I feel uncomfortable in front of a camera, and also because my witness relocation advisor said it could blow my cover but I care more about the health of the masses than I value my own life!

So I finally bit the bullet and started making some short health and fitness videos. They are currently just low budget video blogs shot with a hand held camera, but I thought I'd give people the option to watch or listen to a post about fitness than always read them.

You can get to my new YouTube channel at the link below:

Your Fitness Quest Channel

Feel free to check it out. It has already gone viral and I now have 4 subscribers! If you can't get enough of my boring written updates, then you will probably love my videos where I speak in a monotone voice with all the excitement of a mashed potato sandwich. These first videos are fairly primitive and it is an uncomfortable process, but the quality and content of my videos will get better with each one.

I'd love to get any feedback and get any suggestions you may have for future topics to cover. Thanks.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Health Insights from a Medical Transcriptionist

My wife is a medical transcriptionist and types doctor's reports all day long. As someone who is constantly listening in on the medical profession and the state of people's health, I thought I'd ask her what she has learned while documenting thousands of cases. She is obviously required to keep patient's identities confidential, but she said there were many similarities in most reports she types. I thought I'd pass along some information which I found to be interesting.

Disclaimer: These are only insights and observations. We are not suggesting you act contrary to a physicians recommendations. We are not offering medical advice, but we have some strong feelings about the state of people's health and think the information below is quite telling.

1) Her first observation is that some people verge on being hypochondriacs and jump at the chance of going to the doctor for the smallest of ailments before they try to do anything about their health on their own. Rather than research their problem, or make lifestyle changes, many people go straight to a doctor. Perhaps they do this in hopes that their doctor can make everything better without any accountability on their part.

2) Many doctors have a knee jerk reaction to prescribe medications to deal with symptoms and ailments. She has been shocked to hear how many medications some people are on. Many of these medications are prescribed to offset the side effects of other ones they take. She said it's not uncommon to hear of patients being on as many as 10-15 different prescriptions. It makes you wonder if people weigh the benefits of taking certain prescriptions versus the side affects, especially if they are taking so many.

3) The most common health problems people have are high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. These typically go hand in hand. Many of the health conditions people suffer from are made worse because they are obese or if they smoke. Fortunately, lifestyle factors can play a big role in treating and preventing these diseases.

4) She seldom documents cases of chronic diseases for people who are active and exercise regularly. They may still go to the doctor, but it's typically for things like kidney stones, skin conditions, or allergies as opposed to life-threatening conditions. Sedentary individuals usually have more serious health problems.

I know these observations are broad generalizations, and I'm not trying to present them as scientific data, but there is definitely a pattern in the reports she does. The typical profile of the average person seeking medical attention for chronic disease that she does reports for, is someone who is aging, sedentary, overweight, and either suffers from high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease.

I understand that there is no guarantee to good health. An avid marathoner could fall over and die form a heart attack at any moment, and people who pride themselves on taking good care of themselves are still susceptible to cancer and other diseases, but there are certainly things you can do to stack the odds in your favor. Immortality is not the goal, rather longevity and quality of life. That's why it's important that we take care of our bodies today.