Monday, September 12, 2011
Over the past few weeks, Iíve been noticing the number of my SP friends who have been missing in action. I realize that we lead busy lives, as I certainly do. But I also notice that those people who are consistent with SP and who keep up with their logging and who keep up with all the SP points tend to be much more successful than those who donít. In addition, in talking with some people who disappeared for a while and now are back, every person I talked to has told me that it was shame that kept them away - ashamed because of their lack of success.
I hope that anyone reading this will realize that there is no reason to be ashamed just because your success is not as great as youíd like for it to be. We all are different and progress at different rates. Our bodies are different, our metabolism is different, our drive and willpower are different, our energy level is different, and consequently, our results are going to be different. Sometimes, I know it can be frustrating. You count your calories, kick all the sugary and greasy foods, and you increase your intake of fruits and vegetables and whole grains and you get in more physical activity yet the number on that scale STILL hasnít moved in weeks. I get it. But donít let that be a reason to get discouraged and quit. What do you think happens if you throw in the towel?
So, hang in there and keep up with what youíre doing and remember, there are many measures of progress besides the scale: blood pressure, glucose level, cholesterol, and the way your clothes are fitting are just a few of them. Be inspired, and even if you arenít losing like you want, youíre still successful if you also arenít gaining.
ďQuitters never win, and winners never quit.Ē
Monday, August 29, 2011
Many people who change their diets and begin eating more healthfully often end up with a deficiency in B12, an essential vitamin for optimal health. B12 is common among red meats, poultry, fish, and dairy. But if you want to cut down on your saturated fat intake, you may decide to cut down or eliminate these foods, which can cause a B12 deficiency. It is important to pay attention to changes in your body so that you can identify the symptoms right away. The symptoms are many, and may include fatigue, changes in vision, shortness of breath, problems with memory, changes in mood, or paleness.
Since the physical changes in your body are gradual, you are likely to have a chronic case of B12 deficiency by the time you notices any of these symptoms. So, I recommend that you get what is known as a ďComplete Blood CountĒ test, or it's also called just a CBC test. It measures the concentration of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets in the blood. It will help your doctor determine if you have vitamin deficiencies commonly associated with those who restrict or eliminate red meat and dairy, such as vitamins B12, B1, B6, B2, iron, A, D, protein, and other common vitamin deficiencies. Another good test is the Comprehensive Metabolic Panels, or the CMP, that measures concentration of potassium, calcium, iron, and sodium. The CMPs also measure glucose levels, thyroid levels, Endocrine functioning, and a check of your cholesterol.
These tests are not always done, and you may need to tell your doctor to perform them. Itís a good idea to have them done during your annual physical. As with all maladies, early detection is key. So, pay attention to your body and get your regular check-ups.
For more reading on B12 deficiencies, check out the following Centers for Disease Control website:
Monday, August 22, 2011
What is Gout?
I always wondered about gout but never took time to learn about it. When I was very young, that's a term I always heard but never fully understood it. My dad has it. My grandfather had it. Several living and now deceased people in my family suffered from it. I kept thinking that it must be hereditary, so I figured Iíd look it up and check it out thinking that I might end up with it one day.
In the arthritis family, gout is marked by pain and inflammation in and around the joints, like fingers, toes, wrists, and so forth. My research has shown me that oftentimes, it can affect a single joint but in more chronic cases, it can affect many different joints. I was happy to know that although a person can have a propensity for gout based on family history, like many other conditions, lifestyle can play a huge role in it and it isn't necessarily herditary. People with gout, caused by a buildup of uric acid in the body, often have other conditions such as obesity, kidney disease, diabetes, and some blood cancers, or they consume large quantities of alcohol, red meat, or eat foods high in fats and sugar. Itís more common for a man to get gout, but some women can get it too.
Diet and exercise can make a big difference. Persons with a diet high in fiber and low in saturated fats are less likely to get gout. This is yet another reason why I maintain and am supportive of a vegetarian and vegan lifestyle, because another way to describe a vegetarian/vegan diet is a high fiber-low fat diet.
There are lots of great resources about gout. Look them up when you have time. You can look at these, for starters:
Thursday, July 28, 2011
A lot of people with desk jobs sometimes say they donít get the chance to exercise the way they want to. I can relate, because I sit behind a desk all day. So, I know it can be a challenge. However, I have been researching some simple exercise tips to teach the beginner exercisers in the class I teach at a community center, and wanted to share my tips here. These are things you can do with very little equipment. All you need are a chair and a 5 pound dumbbell. If a dumbbell is not available, use a 20 oz water bottle.
I happened to like repeating an exercise for 15 repetitions. If that is too many for you, start out with a lower number and work up to it. Also, if possible, lock the wheels to keep the chair from rolling. If you can use a chair without wheels, that is preferable, or place an object behind the chair to keep it stable Ė oh, and donít worry about looking silly. I know you may feel more or less comfortable with some of these at work, especially if you are kidded by your co-workers. But, just like with a new outfit or a new hairdo, people may look at you funny when they first see you doing it, but over time, they will get used to it, and if they donít, then my motto is, oh well. Itís THEIR problem, not mine.
Okay, now for the exercises:
Leg Extensions Ė I like these because they can help exercise your quadriceps and thigh muscles. Sit straight and tall and extend your left leg, holding it for 3-4 seconds and lower. Do 15 repetitions then repeat with the right leg.
Leg Bends Ė good for your thigh, abs, and hamstrings. From a seated position, stand just slightly, hovering over your seat with your arms extended in front of you. Hold for 3 seconds then sit back down. Do 15 repetitions.
Double Leg Squats Ė this can help your legs and your lower back. From a standing position, squat down over your seat without actually sitting down. Do 15 repetitions.
Single Leg Squats Ė From a standing position, raise one leg and lower yourself over your seat without actually sitting down. Do 15 repetitions then switch legs.
Overhead Arm Lifts Ė From a seated position, in one hand hold your 20 oz water bottle (or dumbbell if you have one) and raise it above your head for 15 repetitions, then switch hands.
Arm Curls Ė From a seated or standing position, hold the water bottle or dumbbell in one hand and do curls. Lower your arm for 15 repetitions then switch arms.
Breathing Exercises Ė Breathing exercises can be very important for relaxation and optimal heart and lung functioning. Place your hands in your lap and close your eyes to help you relax. Slowly Inhale through your nose (counting to 7 as youíre inhaling), hold for about 7 seconds and slowly exhale through your mouth (counting to 7 as youíre exhaling). Repeat 3 times.
See, exercises donít need to be structured or as if youíre doing work. If you are creative, you can get in some exercise wherever you are. Just do it!
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
If youíve ever thought of taking a Spinning class, I recommend it. I am in a class at my gym two days a week, and I love the results Iím seeing. Many gyms will let you sign up for the classes they offer (for a fee, of course) without actually joining the gym. Some local recreation centers and YMCAs also may have classes. But I really support this for quickly strengthening your legs, abs, and hear and for burning calories efficiently. But there are some things to keep in mind before you do.
1. First, be sure you do your stretching exercises before hand, particularly your legs. Some muscle cramps and soreness cannot be avoided, but proper stretching and warm-up exercises can help minimize the effect.
2. Second, adjust the seatís height and angle to suit your comfort level. The seat should allow for your knees to bend at a 25 degree angle.
3. Next, adjust the handlebar height so that you do not encournter undue stress and strain on your neck and back. In most cases, it should be about the same height as the seat.
4. Last and most importantly, donít overdo it if you cannot keep up with the rest of the class. Pushing yourself is encouraged. But donít push too much and cause an injury. If you have to slow down your pace, do so and pick it back up if you are able.
A good instructor will help you with these and other great tips to make it a pleasant experience for you. But just like in grade school and college, some instructors are better than others, and you may need to take charge of your fitness and not rely on the instructor if he or she isnít too attentive.
I enjoy Spinning and wish I had done it sooner. If you have done it, Iíd love to hear what you think.
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