Exercise, General Health

Motivation Monday May 27: 27 Great Reasons to Weight Train Today

  1. It’s the first step toward getting the body you really wantMemorial_Day_2012_freecomputerdesktopwallpaper_1600
  2. You will be that much closer to turning into your childhood superhero
  3. You wouldn’t skip out on brushing your teeth today would you—eeeewww.
  4. You want to keep the commitment you made to yourself to get healthy.  Breaking commitments is bad for your self-esteem.
  5. If you blow off your workout today you will be more likely to blow off your workout tomorrow and the hardest thing is to get back on the wagon once you have fallen off…so don’t even go there. Don’t think—just shrink!
  6. You will get weaker, fatter, and uglier if you don’t.
  7. Somewhere deep inside you will be loathing yourself if you don’t
  8. It’s the best natural anti-depressant in the world
  9. You don’t want to be one of those people that don’t work out ,do you?
  10. It’s the safest way possible for you to get rid of that pent-up aggression you have—better for everyone involved.
  11. Cuz’ you are one sexy Mamma when you train and you know it
  12. You will be so much more productive the rest of the day if you train first, so telling yourself you don’t have time is another way of saying you just don’t want to train.
  13. You don’t want to wimp out on the better existence you are planning for yourself
  14. It’s a great escape from your problems
  15. Its cheaper than therapy and often more effective
  16. Because procrastinating and thinking about all the reasons not to takes more time and is much harder than actually working out
  17. Because you are just gonna go in and lift a few light sets, or hitting play on that dvd or drive in and do the first 15 minutes of class ..and within moments you will find yourself giving it your all.
  18. You will sleep better
  19. You will probably eat better after working out hard
  20. You will have more energy
  21. You will be better able to protect yourself and your loved ones if some unexpected bad stuff should happen
  22. You will age more beautifully
  23. It’s awesome to know you are stronger, faster, and healthier now at 42 than when you were 24.
  24. You will have more better sex –‘nuf said
  25. Because right now there’s someone too sick, too paralyzed, or too dead to train. Somewhere someone’s wishing they could train. Give it your all today because you are grateful you aren’t them.
  26. It’s a great life insurance policy against diabetes, heart disease, cancer and many other yucky things.
  27. There’s some Navy Seal who trains his butt off so you can speak your mind. Go to the weight room with gusto for that guy/gal out of gratitude.
Diet, Exercise, General Health

Live For Now

Pepsi launched a new ad campaign.  Maybe you have seen the billboards across town or the TV ad, which proudly demands that we “Live For Now?”

I love it!  Finally, truth in advertising!

No more live for today or live for the moment. Simply put, live for now—right now, this instant… Certainly, if you were thinking of living a long time you wouldn’t be drinking this now.  But you’re not, you’re thinking about now.  One of my personal training clients said the ad is just missing proper punctuation..”Live, for Now”…would have been more accurate, he said.  In fact, if you thought about it for even a second longer you might just decide not to have that Pepsi and drink something really hydrating and less costly in so many ways….Water!

Anyone remember the the old campaign, “the taste for a new generation?”  Forget that.  Pepsi needed a new ad campaign mostly because soda has become the four letter word of beverages.  We have heard that its not that healthy but we wonder..is it really that bad for you?

Lets start by looking at what its made of: Carbonated water, caramel color, flavorings, caffeine, phosphoric acid and high-fructose corn syrup/sugar/artificial sweetner and preservatives, like sodium benzoate.

Carbonated water is plain (water infused with carbon dioxide, which creates the bubbles).  The caramel color  in some brands of soda was in fact found to be carcinogenic, so it has been replaced by another one which is supposedly safer.

Phosphoric acid is a chemical that adds a tangy or sour flavor by breaking down starches into sugar.  The phosphorous can leach calcium from your bones.  Broken bones, osteoporosis—no thanks!

Then there’s the sugar issue..and we know the troubles of table sugar – weight gain, tooth decay, even cancer in rats.  I don’t mind sugar now and then though in moderation. In some ways, maybe soda should be thought of as a drinkable dessert.  For the sake of comparison, a typical sugar packet contains 2-4 grams of sugar.  A 12 oz Pepsi contains 42g  (3.5g/oz) HFCS – high fructose corn syrup is a less expensive type of sugar than cane sugar (thank you to the US corn lobby).  However, corn is one of the most genetically modified crops…and we don’t know the risks of genetically modified seeds and crops yet.  I prefer not to be the government’s guinea pig here—especially since the way to break down the DNA of the seeds is through viruses.  We simply don’t know the long term results.  If you have sugar, your body will register that at some point its full and you will stop. HFCS puts us in an even greater metabolic danger because it doesn’t register that feeling of fullness in the brain the same way.

Aha, but you may drink a sugar-free diet version of Pepsi which contains 0 grams of sugar.  According to one study, those who drank just 1 can of diet soda a day had a 34% greater incidence of metabolic syndrome.  But why?  Partly, I think its because people may indulge in other junk-foods (high calorie foods with low nutrient density) because they think the drink is saving them calories. It could also be that the brain forgets that sweetness indicates calories as you eat more and more artificially sweetened things so when you do finally break down and eat a sweet thing with sugar the body thinks it doesn’t need to burn those calories since there mustn’t be any.

Artificial sweetners like Aspartame/Nutra Sweet, are an excitotoxin, which may damage to the brain’s appetite center.   Carol Simontacchi from her book The Crazy Makers: How the Food Industry Is Destroying Our Brains and Harming Our Children states, “One liter of an aspartame-sweetened beverage can produce about fifty-six milligrams of methanol. When several of these beverages are consumed in a short period of time (one day, perhaps), as much as two hundred fifty milligrams of methanol are dumped into the bloodstream, or thirty-two times the EPA limit.”  Hm, when people characterize soda as a poison, they may not exaggerating.

Then there’s that addictive stimulant known as caffeine which is a diuretic (read: dehydrating).  At first, you feel like you have energy, but when you come down off the caffine, you can feel quite hungry—and eat more calories and put on excess weight which puts you at risk for disease.  The problem is that between the spike in blood sugar caused by the sugar (HFCS included) and the surge followed by a crash caused by the caffine, you are likely to wind up hungry…and throw off the successes you accrued in diet and exercise because it left you depleted.

Finally, there’s the sodium benzoate, which is added to prevent mold growth.  A Consumer Reports test found that when drinks with this sit in plastic bottles in sun or heat, dangerous levels of benzene can form.  Sodium benzoate or potassium benzoate and vitamin C/ascorbic acid can create the benzene.

Its really quite a campaign indeed.  The “Live for Now” campaign is so trendy and cool with its Nicki Minaj pop up concerts integrating her lyrics from the song “Moment 4 Life.” “I wish that I could have this moment for life.  ‘Cuz in this moment I just feel so alive.”  Made me think..

I feel most alive when I’m working out actually.  When do you feel most alive? Are you living for Now? What one small thing can you do right now that will help ensure you will be alive for the really important things in your life?

Blaylock, R. Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills. Santa Fe, NM: Health Press 1997.

Consumer Reports staff.  “Benzene in Soft Drinks.” Consumer Reports, October 2006. www.consumerreports.org/cro/food/food-safey/benzene-in-soft-drinks/benzene-10-06/overview/1006_benzene_ov_1.htm

Swithers, S. and Davidson T. “A Role for Sweet Taste:Calorie Predictive Relations in Energy Regulation by Rats.”  Behavioral Neuroscience 122 no1 (February 2008)

Pierce, W. Et Al. “Over-eating by Young Obesity Prone and Lean Rats Caused by Tastes Associated with Low Energy Foods.”  Obesity 15 no8 (August 2007)

General Health

Smart People Exercise and Exercise Makes You Smarter

The New York Times Magazine published an article about new scientific findings which show that exercisers are smarter!

Yep.  No more dumb jock jokes I guess.

They say that scientists used some new technology to examine the workings of individual neurons and the makeup of brain matter itself and discovered that exercise appears to build a brain resistant to shrinkage.

Whoa!  Brain shrinkage?!  I knew that after kids and after ooh, a certain age, my boobs might head south…but now this?

I know the point was to show that exercising is good for the whole body-muscles and circulation…and now brain function…but did they need to tell me my brain is shrinking?  (Good news is its only 1%.)   Better news is that I can stop doing those boring crossword puzzles and playing board games designed to build your brain.  According to the NY times, “The latest neuroscience suggests that exercise does more to bolster thinking than thinking does.” Aah. this IS exciting news.

Professor Rhodes, in the Psychology Dept. at the University of Illinois led a team of researchers to observe groups of mice in different living arrangements.  One group had exciting colorful environments and interesting flavorful food and drink.  Another group had access to all this plus small running wheels and a third group had no exciting environment nor extraordinary food, and the fourth group had the running wheel but no other toys or treats.

The scientists gave the mice a series of cognitive tests at the start of the study and a substance was injected so the scientists could examine their brain tissues.  At the end of the study the cognitive tests were run and it turns out that the toys and tastes didn’t appear to improve the animal’s brains.  Only those who used the running wheel performed significantly better on cognitive tests.

This got me thinking…While I was sitting on my butt studying to earn my MA degree, all those girls in spandex at the gym trying to pick up dudes while working out could actually wind up smarter than me?!?  Hmm, does this mean that the undergrads who smoked pot might have actually balanced out all the brain cells they snuffed out with all the time they spent at the gym?  I’m sure the scientists weren’t trying to go there but I had to wonder….it was, after all, an animal study and I did attend the ultimate party school for a time…

The real thrilling part of the study overall is that even though the brain, like all muscles and organs does appear to decline in function with underuse and age, neurogenesis (the creation of new cells) can and does occur.  Exercise appears to slow or reverse the brain’s physical decay—particularly in the hippocampus which is associated with memory and certain types of learning.  The rats who ran for a few weeks, as compared to the sedentary ones, had about 2x as many new neurons in their hipppocampi.

That said …Gotta Run..

General Health

More Proof That Being A Mommy Is Good For Your Health!

Ooh goody!

There’s a new study that backs up what I’ve known for a long time – Mommyhood is good for your health!  OK, the study didn’t exactly research mommyhood at all, but it’s precisely what came to mind when I read it.  But the fact that someone paid to do this study at all somewhat proves that common sense isn’t all that common, as they say…(who ever “They” are).

The Atlantic ran an article on a study that was done showing essentially what the title says, “He who sits the most dies the soonest.”

I know what you’re thinking… Oh, there goes the media again telling us to do something simple like “just take the stairs” again… rather than actually work out.  (I don’t mean being on the elliptical with a copy of Vogue on the screen either, when I say work out).

Actually, the study shows that getting up and moving around as part of your daily life, not necessarily just exercise time, is what’s needed to reduce the risk.  Regular exercisers did fare better than exclusive sitters, but both groups don’t do well when they sit for as long as most of us do while making a living so we can ‘um.. “survive.”

That means to me,  that stay-at-home moms should live to a nice ripe age!  Have you ever tried to complete one simple task while taking care of children.  It’s impossible.  You can’t actually sit and accomplish anything for longer than 2 hours (and you’re lucky at that) without an interruption that likely requires you to get up and do something.  Housework involves plenty of bending and moving.  Getting toddlers from point A to point B is like herding cats!  Nevertheless, a few years ago at my yearly physical, my doctor asked what I did for exercise.  I looked astonished and said, “I chase toddlers.”  He said my cholesterol numbers showed that wasn’t good enough.

What I’m saying is for optimal health, you still have to work out…but the article shows that just because you work out doesn’t mean you can sit on your butt the rest of the day!

General Health

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

When you have enough sleep, cognitive and metabolic systems are humming smoothly but when you don’t have enough, you begin to accumulate a debt which some research shows has very negative repercussions. Below 7 hours a night puts you at much greater risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, depression and weight gain (Michaels, Jillian. Master Your Metabolism. 2009. Crown Publishers. p.190).

Even just one night without enough sleep can affect your mood and appetite, along with your ability to think clearly – like clearly enough to make healthy food choices.

When you don’t get enough sleep it causes your body to release more of the hunger hormone ghrelin, which makes you feel hungry, while it decreases the hormone leptin (known for making you feel satiated or full). Blood sugar levels can rise and one Chicago study showed you can become more insulin-resistant, even if you aren’t overweight or diabetic.

During sleep, you release human growth hormone HGH which helps you burn stored fat!

Schedule eight hours of sleep for health and happiness. Better yet, have a consistent bedtime every night.

To learn in depth about many other risks and benefits of sleep, read: The Promise of Sleep by William C. Dement

Additional Reference:
Associated Press. “Irregular Sleep Tied to Obesity, Other Health Problems” USA Today, May 7, 2008.