Archives for category: Men’s Health

food-to-eat

*This blog is NOT intended to endorse or recommend this type of diet. It is intended to give information on the how and why, my decision to proceed down this path and my personal experience during the process. I undertook this endeavor with my doctor’s supervision and the direction of a licensed clinical nutritionist.

Adjusting to my new diet did take some getting used to and of course began to bring about some physical changes. About two years ago I had gotten together with a few friends and we embarked on the ‘Clean’ diet, which required some of the same food changes (eliminating night shades, gluten, dairy, etc.) – but not the lowering of my carb intake and increase in fat and protein. During the first 5 days of that nutritional change I experienced some of the same effects that I have had on my new nutritional eating plan. My nutritionist also gave me a workout nutritional supplement drink, which I began mixing up daily and I sip throughout my workout. This drink is made of Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) along with L- Glutamine and L-Citrruline DL – Malate

Of course for the first few days on this nutritional eating plan, I craved carbohydrates. I’m thinking that the word crave is not descriptive enough, ravenous would actually work better. I satisfied these feelings by eating things such as small measured amounts of macadamia nuts along with small protein snacks such as meatballs or pieces of chicken. About 5 days in I developed a dull headache which really only lasted for most of one day. Luckily my nutritionist had already prepared me in advance of the effects that I might experience, so I felt grounded, clear and able to deal with them.

After about 7 days my energy level dropped and I had to cut back on my workout activity level as my body adjusted from using carbohydrates as a fuel source and began to shift into utilizing other forms of fuel for energy. Again, I had been informed of this phase, and I knew that my regular 80 – 90 minute daily workout would need to be reduced during this adaptation phase of my eating plan.

I would like to side bar here to touch on how over the last 3 years my personal workout has changed. I have been pursuing an active lifestyle for more than 35+ years, eventually that lifestyle also became my career. During that time cardio was an integral part of my workout. My fitness career began as an aerobics instructor and I loved the endorphin rush I experienced taking and teaching cardio classes and activities. Even after the aerobic class instructor portion of my career ended and my career moved into the Pilates method I continued to perform cardio activities to satisfy the ‘rush’ I needed and my concern about gaining any weight since I had been an extremely overweight child. However, about 3 years ago I went back to doing a lot of cardio activity (cardio classes, HIIT cases) as well as regular gym/Pilates workout. What I found was that the addition of cardio didn’t make me any ‘fitter’, consequently I actually began to feel weaker and even a bit lethargic. What did work for me was interval training and using cardio as a short warm up. After much experimenting I have honed a great workout that involves interval activities of anaerobic, strength training, Pilates and flexibility training which I do every day. I have made the leap and said good by to cardio.

After adjusting my daily workout for about 4 days I eventually regained my energy and then some. I began to feel much more comfortable with my new nutritional plan and I also noticed some very interesting physiological and psychological things happening with my body and being.

I began to feel much more energetic that I have in years. I noticed that my body fat levels began dropping and my body was becoming much more defined and leaner as well as my muscles began to start feeling denser. This fact was evident according to the scale, as I had dropped 3 pounds. My cravings for carbs started to subside and I began to experience a holistic sense of calm and well being. One of the other benefits that I realized was a distinct reduction in my desire to drink alcohol of any kind.

My doctor assisted in the entire process by pulling more blood labs so both she and my nutritionist could review the results and make any necessary supplementation or diet changes.

Next up – Living the Life

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KetoFood*This blog is NOT intended to endorse or recommend this type of diet. It is intended to give information on the how and why, my decision to proceed down this path and my personal experience during the process. I undertook this endeavor with my doctor’s supervision and the direction of a licensed clinical nutritionist.

I have been in the health and fitness industry for almost 28 years. During that time I have watched as many fitness and health fads and changes have taken place. The industry itself is wrought with an overabundance of popular trends not only for exercise but diet. These fads most of the time are simply temporary fashions promising the next best way to lose those extra 5 – 10 lbs., or to sculpt your body into the best shape, in the shortest amount of time.

Through the years, we as health and fitness professionals have become the initial demographic that these movements target, so that we in turn can share them with our clients. However, promoting these many and varied trends with little or no information on the evidence based research is not appropriate or professional. As a tenured health and wellness professional I make it a point to gather as much information as possible about a new fad or craze whether it be fitness or diet. Since I am not a licensed clinical nutritionist or dietician it is not within my scope of practice to recommend any diet, I simply share and report what has worked for me in the past and offer suggestions on reliable resources as well as give referrals to qualified diet and nutrition professionals.

So, I decided to have my own first hand experience with a low carb diet. To do so I enlisted the aid of a skilled licensed clinical nutritionist whom I know well and has touted the many virtues of a low carb high fat/ketogenic diet, and also involved my MD in this adventure.

My nutritionist asked for a copy of my most recent blood work from my medical files. After a thorough review of my history and a request for additional lab tests I was placed on a supplement regime in order to optimize my metabolism and ease my transition into this new lifestyle.

About two weeks after starting my new supplement program I then began to lower my carbohydrates. I mentally geared myself up for this process by outfitting my kitchen and refrigerator. I began eating grass fed red meat, free range lamb, wild or sustainably farmed salmon, as well as organic/free range chicken. I began to lower my daily carbohydrate intake to 100g or less. I used Google and my kitchen food scale to calculate my carbohydrate intake. I have also included medium chain triglyceride oil (MCT) in order to source the necessary building block for ketones that will gradually and eventually allow me to transition deriving my energy needs from carbohydrate/glucose to fat.

I stopped using nut and seed oils for cooking and moved to using ghee (clarified butter), and coconut oil instead. I started using olive oil for flavoring after cooking or on salad only. As a point of clarification my intention is not use olive oil at high heat. The following were the foods that I have begun to use for my daily carbohydrates: small amount of sweet potato, white basmati rice, onion, spinach, kale, blueberries, cherries and pineapple for a smoothie with pea protein. I removed all all nightshade vegetables from my diet in order to better manage inflammation: tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, all peppers but black pepper, paprika. Most days I have successfully kept my carbs below 100 grams, many days I have gone lower than 50. This is a personal exploration in meeting my daily energy requirements from a low carb high fat diet (LCHF) in order to have a first hand experience how this shift in my macro nutrients affects my body composition, exercise stamina, mood and cognitive function, digestion and overall sense of well being.

And so the journey begins…

Stay tuned for the next installment.

 

 

Work-Life-Balance

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balance or postural control, is the ability to maintain the body in either static or dynamic equilibrium with the center of gravity over the base of support (Magee 2007). Sounds so simple doesn’t it – but the fact is that lack of balance in humans can be costly and deadly. It is estimated that by 2020 the national cost of falls related injuries will reach 43.8 billion dollars (Donatelli 2010).

For myself I recently discovered just how ‘un-balanced’ my own body actually is, esp. after a number of injuries which all occurred on the right side of my body – each injury by itself was not the cause – but rather the combination of 5 injuries took its toll. Further the risk of having balance problems increases as we get older. I even found myself beginning to have small changes in my thinking that my own imbalance was just a product of those injuries and age – and what I realized was what a ‘negative’ mind set this type of thinking could become in my life.

I also began to understand why so many older adults start to become terrified of falling and losing the ability to move and function. Keeping active and mobile is key to our functioning both physically and mentally – without balance we cannot function normally, just ask anyone who has ever had episodes of vertigo.

Balance also extends to other aspects of our lives – our mental outlook and quality of life, our nutrition, our spirit. Keeping balance in our life of work, recreation, relaxation and mental stimulation is essential. I recently heard a neurologists from Harvard speaking on a radio program about neurological issues of the aging process. He was asked ‘if there is any one activity that we as aging humans could do to keep our brain healthy, active and functioning – what would you recommend? His answer – ‘exercise and staying active’. So simple and so profound.

The good news is it’s never too late. Check your own balance; here are a couple of simple tests.

1) Stand with one foot placed directly in front of the other foot and stay in that position for 10 seconds, then change feet.

2) Stand on one foot for 10 seconds, then change feet.

One should be able to perform these simple test quite easily and at will – and perhaps many can. However if you notice that even during these simple test that you have a bit of a challenge maintaining balance and being still then perhaps its time to begin adding balance training components into your regular routine. Even if you had no issues with these simple tests I would still recommend adding balance training components into your daily activity. Easily performing Activities of Daily Living (ADL) are a key measuring tool in determining how independent we are as individuals as we age.

Even in Joseph H. Pilates description of ideal health that he wrote about in 1945 he stated.  ‘Our interpretation of physical fitness is the attainment and maintenance of a uniformly developed body with a sound mind fully capable of naturally, easily and satisfactorily performing our many and varied daily tasks with spontaneous zest and pleasure.’

motivation

Motivation – is key to realizing your health, fitness and life goals. To me – without motivation I would just end up being a blob of organic matter – being alive in basic definition, but not in a reality that is meaningful and fulfilling.
Websters defines Motivation as:
•the act or process of giving someone a reason for doing something • the act or process of motivating someone
•the condition of being eager to act or work : the condition of being motivated
•a force or influence that causes someone to do something

Interestingly enough for me my ‘motivation’ for things have changed as I have changed, grown and matured and I’m sure that’s the case for most of us. From the perspective of health and fitness – my motivation to get fit has evolved over the years. As a young boy I was not athletic, extremely overweight, uncoordinated and basically uninterested…

Right around the time of puberty I grew tired of the many taunts I had heard through the years – ‘Hey Fattie’, Fatso, the sound of Moo’s and so on. We all know how cruel kids can be to one another. Those seemingly endless jabs and insults pushed me or ‘motivated’ me to exercise, lose weight and basically change my life.

The up side of that change was 1) I felt better physically and mentally and 2) I looked better and began to receive more positive attention (again it made me feel better mentally). The down side was that I was motivated to make these changes for all the wrong reasons – and those reasons were based upon what other people thought about me and how I looked – not how I really felt inside or  what I wanted. I was the product of my environment.

It wasn’t until I began to move through life and mature that I realized that health and fitness was so much more than 6 pack Abs, 7 % body fat and big biceps. Don’t get me wrong – having those attributes is certainly nice, but it doesn’t and shouldn’t define who you are and how you live. Health and Fitness is something that comes from the inside out and truly should be motivated by a desire to be healthy, to have an improved sense of well being, to function well and to have an enhanced quality of life.

So I ask you – what is your ‘Motivation’ for a healthy life?

Stretch3

 

What really is flexibility? – Well to put it succinctly – flexibility is a measure of the range of motion around a joint or series of joints. Flexibility is usually most limited by the joint’s physical structure which includes the bone, connective tissue and muscle. And what’s most important is that both men and women can improve flexibility with training.

It is truly important for all of us and especially those of us in our ‘prime’ to make flexibility training a regular part of our workout routine – or as I like to say our ‘Living Well’ commitment.
Did you know that there is scientific evidence that the incidence of injury actually decreases when we include flexibility training in our regular daily routines? The reason for this is that flexibility training gives us an enhanced ability to move better through a wider ROM – or range of motion.
The last thing that any of us wants to do is lose our mobility as we age, and the simple fact of the matter is that flexibility decreases as we age. Being flexible and mobile increases and enhances our lives as we age and helps ensure our independence. In addition – flexibility reduces our chances of experiencing occasional and chronic back pain.
Increased flexibility can increase and improve our performance of everyday activities as well as our performance in exercise and sport. It can also reduce our risk of injury during exercise or our daily activities because muscles are more pliable and supple. Further – flexibility training helps balance the musculature of our body and improves our posture!
Keep in mind a few things:
• Stretching should be included after every workout to improve and maintain overall flexibility.
• Stretching should never be painful – remember it is best to bring your muscle to a point of tension and above all-  breathe through your stretching.
•Don’t cut your stretching short – doing so is just cutting yourself short. Stretch for at least 5 – 10 minutes, preferably longer than shorter. This is esp. true for all of you ‘prime’ time stretchers out there.
•And for optimal results give ‘dynamic stretching’ a try – this involves using increasingly dynamic moves through the full ROM of a joint.

Activities such as Pilates are great to incorporate into your daily stretching and strengthening routine – remember Joe Pilates used to say that ‘a man is as old as his spine is flexible!’.
If you need some further advice don’t hesitate to contact me.

imagesSummer is in full swing and the 4th of July is almost upon us. Being cool and staying cool this summer is probably on your mind. With the plethora of ways to stay cool this summer and be cool – make sure that you keep hydration on top of your to-do list. Outdoor activities and exercises are a great way to take advantage of the warm and sunny days of summer. Did you know that the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research has determined that for every 1% body mass you lose through ‘sweat’ that your heart rate ticks up 3 beats per minute which of course means that your heart has to work harder?

Staying hydrated is your best defense – hydration helps your body hold in more water and thereby allows your heart not to work so hard. That means if you really like the outdoor strenuous activities, hydration is VERY helpful and will actually allow you to exercise with a higher intensity. Remember that it’s important to hydrate before your workout – not just during your workout. Something interesting to do would be to weigh yourself before you begin your workout and then again after your sweat inducing workout and make a note of how much ‘sweat weight’ you actually lose. Then the first thing you should do before your next workout is to take in that amount of water first. While water is your best go to choice for hydration the following liquids work as well!

Iced Coffee – that’s right I said ‘Iced Coffee’ – some recent research has noted that regular coffee drinkers (3 – 6 cups per day) get just as hydrated from coffee as water – and you also get an endurance boost from the caffeine.
Coconut Water – offers the same amount of hydration as a carbohydrate-electrolyte drink and water.
Watermelon Juice (my personal favorite) – Just 17 ounces before exercise can lead to less soreness after your workout. You can make this with seedless watermelon and a blender!

Oh and one other thing – when your outside – please don’t forget the sunscreen! Remember a proper warm-up and stretching is key to maintaining your flexibility and long term positive effects of your workout – especially in your Prime!

Make it happen

To your Health!

 

 

 

 

 

High Intensity Interval Training, sometimes also called:  FIIT – Full Intensity Interval Training, HIIE – High Intensity Intermittent Exercise or SIT – Sprint Interval Training can be simply described as an enhanced form of Interval training, which is an exercise form that alternates periods of short intense anaerobic exercises with a less intense recovery period. Some research has shown that short intense workouts provide improved athletic capacity and condition. These style of workouts vary greatly and in general there is no specific formula to HIIT.

The great part is that this style of workout tends to be shorter in duration and considered an excellent way to maximize one’s workout when time is an issue or concern. There are also several varying styles or regimens of HIIT. One that has recently increased in popularity is the Tabata Regimen. Tabata is named after the professor (Isumi Tabata)who conducted an initial study utilizing Olympic speed skaters in 1996. This regimen uses 20 seconds of ultra intense exercises (basically  putting your body into the anaerobic training zone) followed by 10 seconds of rest and then repeated for 4 minutes or 8 cycles. This is generally followed by a 30 second rest period and then another cycle is done, so that overall there would be 6 – 8 cycles in total.

From my perspective for the Prime Male participant these varying versions of HIIT are valid if they are done safely – hence my acronym: SHIIT – Safe High Intensity Interval Training. The Prime Man should work up to these types of strenuous exercises sessions and should do these sessions with a seasoned qualified trainer. This is especially important if the Prime Male is just returning to exercising regularly. SHIIT sessions should also be alternated with a day of an easy recovery style workout utilizing some form of flexible functional fitness. Of course being the Pilates proponent that I am – my recommendation would be a group Pilates Mat class or equipment class. To me – form and function in exercise is of the utmost importance. The one thing that I have found about the majority of the HIIT training sessions I have attended is that they lack the functional flexibility section that the Prime Man really needs. The Prime Man also needs to know that the majority of these classes are populated with a younger demographic, the classes that I attend have participants that are easily 20 years my junior. Therefore – don’t  get intimidated or try to prove that you can do everything that the ‘kids’ do….

SHIIT  sessions can jump start your return to fitness or increase your level of fitness if you already do some form of exercise regularly. They are enjoyable and can really give you the encouragement to push your fitness level up.

Remember above all – your greatest asset is your good health!

Safe training and feel free to contact me with any questions.