311212 The metabolic syndrome and what it means to your health

The metabolic syndrome and what it means to your health

The metabolic syndrome is the name given by the medical profession to a group of health risks having a strong potential to increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease. These unhealthy conditions are for the most part avoidable simply by eating less and getting more exercise.

The five components of the syndrome are:

  • A waist that is larger than 35 inches in women and 40 inches in men. Some men may be at risk even if their waist is greater than 37-39 inches.
  • Low cholesterol readings of the good HDL. Women should have numbers under 50 and men should have their numbers under 40.

Higher than normal, but not necessarily high numbers in the following categories:

  • Systolic blood pressure of 130 or higher and a diastolic reading of 85 or higher.
  • Fasting blood sugar count of 110 or higher
  • Tested triglycerides of 150 or above after fasting.

According to the doctors, a person with three or more of these five categories raises their risk of becoming diabetic and developing heart disease.

The research specialists believe the root cause of this syndrome is an inefficient insulin response.

The metabolic syndrome is the consequence of our body being ineffective in processing fats and sugars. The research shows that belly fat creates increased inflammation and a greater risk of heart disease in those with big bellies. These fat cells also release a product that can drive up blood pressure by reducing the blood vessels ability to relax between strokes. Additional problems with belly fat cells occur because they generate proteins that increase the process of insulin resistance.

In case you are wondering what the term insulin resistance means here is a brief explanation.

The hormone insulin makes it possible to remove glucose, also known as blood sugar, from the blood stream and put into the muscle tissues. The muscle uses this as energy for movement. If too much glucose is in the blood stream it is stored as fat. Therefore, the term insulin resistance means the body is having a hard time delivering the glucose to the muscle tissues (insulin resistance) so the amount of blood sugar rises in the blood stream.

The cause is the waist is too big! Our bellies are too fat, too large, too much over the belt, hanging out too far, you can call it whatever you want to, but the fact remains we are a nation of too much fat. And it is all in the wrong place.

This problem exists because we eat too much and we don’t exercise enough

100313 Healthy movement

Healthy movement is beneficial to your body and at its lowest level, even some activity is better than doing nothing. If you are just starting out then gradually build up your endurance with 5 to 10 minute exercise breaks throughout the day. At the 10-minute level, your body begins to adapt and then noticeable changes become evident.

After you are able to exercise aerobically for at least 10 minutes, it is time to branch out by adding resistance exercises to the daily routine. One way to begin is by doing one 10-minute session of endurance work and then later on in the day doing 10-minutes of resistance training.

Alternate between aerobic and resistance training for at least thirty minutes for the day.

The aerobic exercises can be brisk walking, skipping rope, riding a bike or any other activity that is continuous and places a demand on your breathing and heart rate. After you are finished then cool down with static stretches, holding each one for fifteen to thirty seconds. Do this three to five times for each stretch.

For the resistance training start out with body weight calisthenics by doing 3-5 sets of fifteen to thirty bodyweight squats, push ups, calf raises, prone back extensions, curl ups, leg raises or others of your choosing. You can do these in a circuit or one exercise at a time. Stay with it for the full 10 minutes.

If you are over sixty-five, the health benefits of activity are just as important to you as they are to the younger people. Start slowly and build up your fitness levels over time. If you have chronic health problems, work around them and do what you can.

If you aren’t able to ride a bike or have access to a treadmill or other such equipment, then get one of the hand ergometers available at Costco for about $49.00 and exercise your upper body. Do counter top pushups by standing two or three feet away from a counter top and then doing pushups on it.

Do chair sits. Sit in and stand up from a chair without pushing on your legs with your hands as you stand up. Practice sitting down on a chair; standing up, walking away briskly for 10 feet, and then coming back and sitting in the chair again. Repeat this for a minute or more. This builds up leg strength and helps with your balance.

Practice your balance to help prevent falls by walking sideways, standing heel to toe; practicing the stork stand on one leg with the other bent ninety degrees at the hip and knee or any of the many other balancing exercises.

311212 Training explosively

One of the issues common to the uninformed coach is doing the same thing week after week, month after month and then wondering why their program is not making progress. The answer is right in front of them: Constantly using the same activity and intensity leads to mediocre results due to the ability of the body to recognize and adapt to the same stimulus.

The repetitions used during training depend upon the level of resistance used and the percentage of intensity based on the tested one repetition maximum. Max percentage lifts limit the lifter to one to two reps whereas speed endurance lifting utilizes reps up to ten per set.

The rest break times, from 2-5 minutes, depend on the load, percentage of intensity, and the goal of the session. Max effort and high repetition lifting naturally take longer to recover from so these rest periods will be longer. Moreover, each rest period consists of two parts.

The first part of the rest is passive in nature with simple rest and no activity, taking place. The second part should be active, consisting of movements that loosen up the body doing the main portion of the work. After the rest is over it is time to get going again.

Using a Tendo unit, at a cost approaching $1400.00, certainly has the capability to display the power output of the trainee and keeping them within the proper intensity zones. However, most gyms do not have a Tendo. If you are in this group and do not have the resources to own a Tendo, the following works well according to Starzynski and Sozanski, PhD[1].

If you do an exercise in 1 second and then do that same exercise in ½ second, your power output has doubled. Strength and power, even though trained separately, still go hand in hand with both supporting the other. It must be clearly understood that you can effectively train only one or the other in the same session; otherwise, it confuses the nervous system thereby training neither trait optimally.

By using a method of load control and a method of managing the intensity of the training period, a coach can be more effective in directing the program for each trainee.

Starzynski and Sozanski state in Explosive power and jumping ability for all sports “an effective formula for training intensity in the whole preparatory period lies in distinguishing three zones of duration of exercise…”

They then go on to list these three zones as follows:

• Slow, where the set lasts more than 11.0-14.5 seconds
• Medium speed, with sets lasting between 8.5 to 11.0 seconds
• Fast, with the workout sets lasting from 6.5 to 8.5 seconds.

If you initially take the time to set up the zone approach to training, the results, according to the authors, speak for themselves and are well worth the startup time spent.

251212 How to lose weight and burn excess fat

How to lose weight and burn excess fat

High blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular problems are a direct result of being overweight. Moreover, the rising epidemic of obesity in our country is putting added strains on the healthcare system. If you are overweight, there are steps that you can take to lose weight and burn excess fat simultaneously.

The first recommendation is to add approximately 30 minutes per day of walking or other aerobic type of exercise and at least 30 minutes of properly conducted resistance training each day.

Start out on the low end of the 30 minutes of aerobic exercise to become accustomed to it, and then gradually add 10% per week to the time. If you are unsure of how to strength train, consult with an NSCA certified specialist listed at NSCA.com. Exercise alone will not be the final answer because nutrition plays a big role in reduction of weight and burning excess fat.

Reducing the amount of breads, cakes and pastas from your diet that contain refined carbohydrates and replacing them with whole-grains will improve your health. In addition to this reduction in eating refined carbohydrates, consider also limiting the fat found in salad dressings, ice creams and foods cooked in oil, especially the fried foods. Substituting olive and canola oil for the fat found in the salad oils is a reasonable choice.

Changing the type of oil you use on your salad is a start but you can increase the potential of what you eat by choosing a colorful plate of fruits and vegetables. These are normally low in fat and high nutrient value.

The last suggestion is to reduce the salt in your diet to a minimum of 12 to 1500 mg per day. You can do this by checking the nutrition labels on the food you buy. Particularly high in salt are the canned soups and almost all of processed and packaged foods.

Choosing a new dietary lifestyle is going to require education on your part as to what is contained in the food and you will only know that by reading the labels.

251212 Eating to be well, suggestions for a healthier diet

Eating to be well, suggestions for a healthier diet

Most of our nation appears to want to eat better in an effort to lower the risk of chronic diseases, heart diseases, cancers, and probably the biggest reason, to lose weight. It may sound simple to follow a nutritious diet of healthy portions of protein, carbohydrates, and fat but when it comes to what you put in your mouth on a daily basis the simplicity factor fails.

It should be easy to follow the advice of nutritionists. By getting the bulk of our food from vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, peas, lentils, and you are off to a good start. The rest of a healthy daily blend of calories comes from either a low fat or nonfat type of dairy product, and lean cuts of meat including fish and poultry.

Eating a diet similar to this follows closely the US government’s dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH). The DASH diet helps to lower high blood pressure and assists in weight control. The Dash diet is not the only one that helps to provide these benefits.

Plans that follow the Mediterranean diet recommendations with an emphasis on plant foods is also linked to reduced risk of disease, meaning a longer and high quality life expectancy. In each of these eating plans, the weight control becomes more likely when portion sizes are limited and exercise programs begin.

Limiting portions does not mean eating a single spoonful of anything. It means cutting back on the amount of food you eat at a setting.

Moreover, a healthy diet does not have to include bland, unappealing food. Instead, it affords an opportunity to explore other foods. Try different vegetables, fruits, and some of the vast array of whole grains that you probably aren’t currently eating.

You don’t have to stop eating your favorite foods, just be moderate in your choice of how often and how much. When you have a balanced diet that is high in the necessary nutrients and fiber then there is no danger in occasionally eating a hamburger or having an ice cream cone.

251212 Modifying your diet to be healthier

Modifying your diet to be healthier

When you have a balanced diet that is high in nutrients and fiber there is no danger in occasionally eating a hamburger or having an ice cream cone. However, if you are finding it hard to resist eating everything in sight or are making poor choice, here are a few steps to guide you along in making these adjustments.

An easy start is to keep your portions moderate, especially when eating high calorie foods. You may have noticed that serving sizes have gotten larger over the years. Pay attention to what you order and eat only what you need; not the whole plate. Start out with an appetizer instead of the full meal. Stay away from anything on the menu that has been supersized.

Eat from a variety of different foods. Several positives result from doing so. It makes it more certain that you get all of the nutrients and other yet to be identified substances from this assortment of food and helps give you all the possible disease fighting possibilities of these foods. Additionally, eating this way limits the exposure to harmful pesticides and other toxins in and on the food.

Putting a focus on high fiber foods such as those from the vegetable family, fruits, legumes and all the whole grains provides your body with good carbohydrates. This is a triple bonus for your health because they are filling, nutritious, and generally low calorie. These high fiber foods are a source of vitamins, minerals and other potentially valuable phytochemicals[1][1] that are necessary in a healthy diet.

The importance of a high fiber diet lies in the fact that fiber slows the absorption of the carbohydrates, which in turn lessens the effect of the carbohydrates on your insulin and blood sugar.

[1][1] http://www.phytochemicals.info/

What are phytochemicals?

Phytochemicals are non-nutritive plant chemicals that have protective or disease preventive properties. They are nonessential nutrients, meaning that they are not required by the human body for sustaining life. It is well-known that plant produce these chemicals to protect themselves but recent research demonstrate that they can also protect humans against diseases. There are more than thousand known phytochemicals. Some of the well-known phytochemicals are lycopene in tomatoes, isoflavones in soy and flavanoids in fruits.

251212 Suggestions for healthier eating


Healthier eating doesn’t have to be boring. There is a tremendous selection of high quality foods just waiting in the grocery stores of our nation. Include in your daily diet all of the different colored foods, that way you are getting the best of all of them.

If you eat not more than two thousand calories a day put an emphasis on produce and get at least two and a half cups of vegetables and two cups of fruit every day. Naturally, if you eat less than two thousand calories a day then a reduced amount of these foods is in order.

Start eating more whole grains. Look for the seal of the Whole Grain Council[1][1] on the packages. This seal identifies good sources of these whole grains.

Cut back on the highly refined carbohydrates. These are the ones on the baker’s shelves such as the white breads. Avoid using the normal non-whole grain pastas and most of the snack foods that we feed our kids. These foods have little to no dietary fiber and are lacking in nutrients. Furthermore, a limitation on sugary foods and drinks will go a long ways in improving your health. In fact, these feel good foods may be addictive to some people.

For some people, this intense craving for sugary sodas, ice creams and those overly salty french fries along with the numerous food additives may actually be a result altered brain pathways. In some respects, these alterations are similar to the changes found with those who are addicted to opiates and other drugs.

There is evidence suggesting that sugar, specifically, stimulates a larger release of the pleasure molecule chemical dopamine in the brain. This increase is larger than those triggered by fruit and vegetables. (Any parent with children knows this.) As the brain continues to receive these messages over time, its circuitry shows changes.

These changes indicate that the brain is being rewired in response to these high calorie, artificially flavor enhanced foods. On the surface, this may seem to be good. However, just as the drug addict needs more to achieve the same high, the same is true of those were becoming addicted to the junk foods. In an effort to achieve the same good feeling from eating the foods, more is necessary.

This craving for these highly processed foods has a drug like effect in the brain, which causes compulsive overuse and food addiction.

021212 Movement and your heart health

Movement and heart health

Your heart’s abilities to function start diminishing with age. We all know this but the vast majority of our population still refuses to do anything about it. Aging adversely affects the communication capability of the regulatory nerves in the heart telling it how fast to beat. Gradually, as we age, our maximum heart rate (MHR) declines.

However, with regular exercise this typical transformation in max heart rate is less noticeable.

Not only does the MHR decline with age but the ability of the heart to relax and fill up again decreases as well. This is especially true for those with hypertension.

In addition, as we get older, the major blood vessels of our body lose some of their natural elasticity. This in turn makes it more difficult for the blood to pass through them, thereby increasing the load on the heart and making it harder to transfer oxygen throughout the body.

The good news is age related changes such as these are less dramatic with daily exercise. The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends the following activity levels for adults up to age sixty-four.

We all know that a little bit of activity is better than nothing, however, if you’ve been in active for any length of time be better for you to gradually increase the level of activity. This can mean that as little as 10 minutes a day of moderate exercise will garner health benefits. After you’ve been at it a while this this length of time is going to feel easy.

The benefits to your health increase with higher intensity activities. Again, 10 minutes of time exercising is the minimum amount necessary to push up your fitness levels. In the case of higher intensity vigorous exercise, you will need at least one hundred and fifty minutes a week at a level where you can only say a few words at a time without stopping for a breath.

Up to a point, higher amounts of activity will produce the most in health benefits. In fact, the literature states unequivocally that exercising 6 to 7 hours a week will result in the ideal level of health benefits for the majority of the population. At this level of activity per week, you are probably going to be doing six or seven hours of moderate to vigorous intensities of exercise.

021212 Spotting in the weight room

Spotting in the weight room

Now that you’ve made the decision to start lifting weights to get stronger it’s time to talk spotting.

Spotting provides a measure of protection for the trainee whenever the bar is being lifted over the head, chest or during the squat. Spotters are there for one reason and that is to protect the lifter if the load becomes unmanageable and impossible to complete.

The normal spot, as seen in the majority of gyms, both professional and school settings, would lead an observer to believe that both the lifter and spotter are doing the lift. Lifting is not a partner sport. It is one person pushing or pulling against the load on the bar. It is not two people lifting every repetition and unless there is a force plate beneath the spotter, it is impossible to determine how much of the load the spotter is lifting during the repetition.

Warm up sets do not require a spotter unless the lifter is inexperienced and the spotter is acting in the capacity of the coach. In this case, the spotter is giving corrective verbal cues to the lifter during the lift.

Once the session moves into the heavier workout sets then a spotter is a requirement, at least it is in my gym. This is particularly true when lifting in the cage where the weights will be more substantial.

When does the spotter grab the bar?

Good question and the short answer is when the bar begins to move back from a concentric into an eccentric path or before it moves out of the groove and gets into an unsafe position. If it is not moving, the spotter has to decide how much help they will give in getting it back into the rack. If this is the last set then the spotter may consider adding just enough help to squeeze out that last repetition.

The spotter has to decide whether to closely follow the bar (called a close spot), to take the full load, a partial load; assist in reracking it or guiding it along the correct bar path. This is an especially important point with two or more spotters. It is dangerous to have a well-meaning but inexperienced side spotter lift the bar up and start putting it back in the rack before the opposite spotter reacts.

This puts the lifter into the precarious position of having an asymmetrical load on the bar that immediately throws them off balance and in danger of suffering an injury.

The communication between the spotters and lifter is critical in the prevention of a bar suddenly being whipped up on one side exposing the lifter to a preventable injury or crushing the lifter when it gets totally out of the groove or is too heavy. One person has to be in control of the spotting crew and that person has to be the one deciding and telling the others what to do during the spot.

There has to be an agreement before the lift begins about the number of repetitions and the signal from the lifter about when to take the bar.

If a single spotter is handling the center of the bar their hands should be in the alternate grip with one in an overhand grip and the other in the underhand grip. This helps prevent the bar from slipping out of their hands.

The spotter should not, must not spot with their fingertips. If they are spotting they must do so with safety in mind and that means both hands gripping the bar and ready to instantly assist in the racking. When side spotting, the spotters have to have their fingertips interlaced together.

I can assure you that no matter how strong your lifters are, they will not be able to catch a bar falling back on the chest of their lifter if they are not in the correct position with their fingers interlaced together. The extra time it takes to interlace the fingers is all it takes for the bar to be on the chest.

Remember this: If your spotter touches the bar before the lift is finished, IT IS NO GOOD and you have wasted a repetition.