Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Eating for Fitness Results

Eating, it's something that we all do. The vast majority of us really like it, we look forward to the next time we can get something tasty. But, what about eating while being healthy and fit? How does eating fit into a workout routine? Happily, these are simple to answer.

Food is fuel, our bodies need the calories in order to produce the energy our muscles need to propel ourselves through not just our day, but also our workout. I;m not talking about a full meal on the way into the gym. If you are anything like me that would be an awful idea. But, we all need to eat something before we workout AND we need to refuel, eat something, immediately after our workout.

Choosing the right food to eat before working out also means that you need to understand that different nutrients are broken down at different rates. Fat takes between 4 and 6 hours to be digested, protein takes 3 hours, and carbohydrates 2 hours. What we're seeing here is that you would do very well to have something like peanut butter and bananas at noon if you are hitting the workout at 3. This will allow the protein and carbs from your meal to be digested and ready for your body to use for you to power through your training.

After your workout your body is going to go into overdrive to repair all that muscular damage. Let's face it, exercising causes muscle fibers to break, this is trauma to the body, it's damage. Your body is going to work hard to repair that damage and to replenish the glycogen stores that you have just burnt through. So, take a shower and go get some quality protein and carbs within the first hour after your session.

The window of optimal effect is 15 minutes to one hour. Take that shower and then go fuel your recovery with something like your regular protein shake, some chicken and rice, yogurt and fruit, turkey with cheese and apples. Aim for foods that are high in protein and healthy carbohydrates. These foods will go into restoring your energy. Your body is still in a fat burning mode in order to repair that damage you just did. Oh, it would also be advisable to get some solid antioxidants into you, too, as these will help make your recovery more comfortable.

Protein and carbs a few hours before your workout and within the first hour afterwards will, according to research, serve you best.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Stronger Knees

Years ago, I was a competitive power lifter. After 10 years my shoulders had both come apart and I could not deny the pain I had in my knees. I knew people who had decades of experience training and competing without the injuries I had. Some people are just built for it and I was not one of them. As much as I loved lifting, it was not for me. I knew that I needed to have all of my joints working properly. So, how do we train and protect our knees?

There are essentially two ways to protect your knees, nutrition and exercise. This article is going to look at exercises and stretches that stabilize our knees.


When all the muscles that support your knees are strong and flexible your knee joint is stabilized. The three muscle groups here are quadriceps (you thighs), hamstrings (the back of your legs), and your calves.

Strength building is important, but flexibility through stretching is equally important. Tight muscles are ready for injury whereas limber, more flexible muscles are better prepared to handle the rigors of life.

Stretching the muscles that you strengthen is an important part of preventing injury. Strengthening exercises build muscle to help support your knee, but can also tighten the muscles. Tight muscles are more prone to injury. Gentle stretching after strengthening exercise reduces muscle soreness and will keep your muscles long and flexible.

Strength and flexibility are both equally important. Don't think so? Try these exercises and stretches to see how your knee comfort can improve. First, and always, talk to your doctor before starting or changing your activities.

Start slowly and take your time. My lifting coach and martial arts instructors all said the same thing. Form first. Take it easy, perfect your form, and the strength will follow.

If you have pain, which is different from soreness, means you need to stop. Do not hurt yourself trying to get to your goal.

Be patient, remember, strength will come. Just be sure that you are doing the stretches and exercises with proper form.

Again, talk to your doctor. Unless your knees already sound like rice cereal, they should be happy to hear that you are taking better care of your knees. 

I prefer to stretch daily and not just before or after a workout. Strive to perform each stretch for 30 seconds for each of three sets.

Stand with feet together, legs straight, bend down and relax. Let gravity pull you further down, relax with each exhalation. You will find that reaching your toes or the floor is easier when your body and mind relax.

Feet flat on the floor, step forward with your right foot two feet to start. Press your left heel down and bend your right knee. Do not allow your right knee to go forward past your knees, keep your upper body straight up, and allow your weight to lower down through your hips. Gold for 30 seconds, three sets each leg

Stand near a wall or a piece of sturdy exercise equipment for support. Grasp your ankle and gently pull your heel up and back until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh. Tighten your stomach muscles to prevent your stomach from sagging outward, and keep your knees close together, hold for about 30 seconds, three sets each leg.

Low Impact Exercises
Bicycle riding, gentle rowing, walking, swimming are excellent activities to strengthen the muscles around your knees AND, as they are low impact, allow your knees to get stronger with a minimum of discomfort

Your knees are vitally important and keeping them pain free will make all the difference. Stay healthy and stay strong with your family.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Health Benefits of Tea

Globally there are more people drinking tea than any other beverage with the exception of plain old water.
There are centuries of anecdotal evidence claiming a wide variety of health benefits and a mix of clinical results.

Green, White, and Oolong tea all come from the same plant. That is the Camellia sinensis. From oral hygiene to fat loss tea from this plant offers a wide spectrum of benefits.

Dental Health
Tea contains a small amount of natural fluoride, with mature leaves containing as much as 10 to 20 times the fluoride levels of young leaves from the same plant.

Flat Belly There are several studies showing that the antioxidants, catechins, in green tea are being found to trigger the body's metabolic functions. This boost in metabolism means a boost in burning calories according to scientific studies.  

The Journal of Obesity published a study in 2011 concerning a high fat diet and compounds in green tea. Mice that were fed some of the compounds in green tea with a high fat diet gained weight slower than moce on just the high fat diet.

Cancer Prevention
Thanks to its polyphenols (the antioxidants found in tea), sipping on a cup may have cancer-fighting effects. Polyphenols are being shown in studies around the globe to have anti-tumor effects. The compounds are being shown in more cases to halt pr limit tumor growth.
Was a time my senior NCOs would holler at me for drinking coffee in all weather conditions. The argument was that I was dehydrating myself with the caffeine. Tea has caffeine, too. The upside is that researchers have agreed that, in spite of the caffeine, the drinking of tea and coffee still put liquid into our bodies.
Still, I would use this as a supplement to drinking water.

Heart Health
According to a study conducted in the Netherlands and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, drinking tea was associated with a more than 50 percent reduction in severe atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries) in women who drank 1 to 2 cups a day.

The journal Stroke, found that long-term consumption of black, green, oolong or white tea can cut the risk of strokes by as much as 60 percent.

Brain Health
Tea may even be effective in preventing some neurological diseases including Alzheimer's. The polyphenols are believed to protect neurotransmitters like dopamine (regulates emotional responses, among other benefits) and epinephrin (adrenalin, it is released into the blood stream as a response to mental or physical stress), There are positive indications that the polyphenols also inhibit senile plaques in the brain.

Bone Health
Green tea has been found to improve bone mineral density and strength. Studies have shown that elderly women who drank tea had higher bone density in their hips and less bone loss than women who didn't drink tea.  Researchers also say that these results confirm previous studies that have suggested drinking tea may protect against bone loss and osteoporosis. 
Eye HealthA 2010 study found that components in green tea positively affected the tissues of the eyes, especially tissue related to the retina.

Prevent Wrinkles
A recent study demonstrates that white tea inhibited wrinkle production by strengthening elastin and collagen.

Simply, the amount of clinical studies, research, and anecdotal evidence clearly show there are several benefits to drinking tea. So much so that, in the course of researching and writing this piece, I have added several different teas to my daily routine.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Motivation, the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way. The dictionary says motivation is a noun. I suppose it must be since it is a thing. I asked several people what motivates them to exercise and received some interesting responses. 

Almost everybody who responded is exercising because of somebody else. The body is the temple of God, to be healthier and more active with my family and friends were some responses. Being eye-candy was also mentioned. The responses to my question basically involved being there for others. This is a great motivator particularly when those others are your immediate family. I come up with, find, and commit to working out for my family, eye-candy for my wife, general eye-candy, and ego. I want to be able to go at lest as far, as fast, and as hard core as people half my age. But, getting to this point took re-framing my initial view of working out.

It comes down to want. Many people 'want' to be there for their children. some 'want' to be sexy. Some do it because they 'want' to be healthier. It all comes from what we want. That can also become the need, if chosen in a positive way. 

Designing your routine to be fun helps. Seriously, make it fun. If slogging through repetition after repetition, set after set is not fun, then what is? If you get bored with lifting weights, lift your body. Maybe you should try swimming for a set period of time trying to go further each time you get back into the pool.

Maybe you like to see numbers adding up. I like to watch the Calories Burned function of my fitness tracker stack up. It feels grand to watch those numbers add up.

Perhaps you have read enough of the success stories to have decided that now it is your turn. You've been watching people drop pounds on a weekly basis on TV and you have made the leap into the game yourself. If they can do it, then so can you. The truth is, you can.

The trick is finding your want and aiming for that. Just like with any other goal setting, this also takes time to become a habit. Once fitness becomes a habit you can write it into your lifestyle as a daily habit. Whether it is going for a walk with your daughter three or four times a week, having a group of friends to count on, a more active future, self-improvement, or that ego boost when you catch someone scoping out your hard earned shape are all good reasons. 

I urge you to find your reason. What is that reason? Fitting into new clothes, a chance to contemplate issues on your mind, the adrenaline pump? Feel free to put your reasons in the comments below. It just might help motivate someone else.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Exercise "as good as medicines" in treating heart disease

That is the title of the article in Reuters. Those of us who exercise regularly have been told this by our doctors for years. Actually, regular exercisers or not, we have all been hearing this for years. We know it to be true. Moderate cardio helps. All out, gut busting sprint workouts help.

Exercise helps people who are recovering from strokes. It helps veterans with PTSD to be calmer. Exercise does not even require a prescription.

This link is for the entire article.

"Patients deserve to understand ..."
Yes, we do understand. We have been hearing the results for years. Now it is time to put action to what we know.

Get up and go lower your diabetes risks, lower your blood pressure, lower your body fat percentage. Do this so that you can give the people who love you more of you for a longer time. You deserve better than the chemically synthesized "moderate" benefit of medicines. Tell your doctor your plans.