Monday, October 30, 2017

Staying Fit Heading Into The Holidays

No matter who you are, the weight-gain cycle can easily continue throughout the winter months, and by spring you can have 5-10 lbs to lose. Hold that pace for a decade and you will have gained 50-60 lbs. This is the way weight gain occurs - slowly, over the years.

The good news: While it can take a few to several years to gain 50-60 lbs, it can only take 6-12 months to lose it. So, when I feel the urge to write the annual "Holiday Weight Gain Article," next year, perhaps I can feature the success stories of last year instead of trying to scare people into exercising and eating from healthy food plans.

Without a lifestyle change, including daily exercise and proper food habits, the annual 1-2 lbs of weight gain can lead to obesity, which gives you a higher chance of contracting other related health problems such as hypertension, stroke, and diabetes.

So how can people avoid adding holiday weight? Healthy food choices and more exercise - and a few extra tips:

1) Walk More
When safety is not an issue, try to walk further than normal when going about your normal routine. Burning a few more calories by walking is one of the easiest ways to take off that extra weight. Just twenty minutes of brisk walking can burn over 100-150 calories. That equals a cookie or soda in calories!

2) Get a Jump on Training
Resistance training will add muscle mass that in turn will burn more calories throughout the day.  Get a jump start on your RT before the holidays start.  A great idea is to include one more extra day of training a week to your regular training schedule.  Including HIIT training will also be very beneficial… it burns a great amounts of calories in a short amount of time. 

3) Continue to Drink Water
Water is going to naturally help you avoid eating as much if you drink a large glass 20-30 minutes prior to having a large dinner. Plus, water will keep you hydrated and help you burn fat more efficiently. Some people confuse hunger with dehydration. If you just drink a glass of water, that will often take care of the food yearning. This is not skipping a meal - just a way to work through temptation. An optimal level of water per day - as stated by the National Institute of Health - is 1/2 to 1 gallon a day. Add one extra glass (8oz) of water per every 10 lbs over weight too!

4) Eat Slowly
Eat very slowly and enjoy the flavors. Try to chew your food at least 30-40 times per mouthful.  It works and will allow the "hungry- full" response from your brain to tell you are satisfied. It takes the brain about 20 minutes to let you know you are full. Stay away from buffet tables at parties and use smaller plates when selecting foods.

5) Brush Your Teeth after Meals
Right after eating a meal, especially dinner, go straight to the bathroom to brush, floss, and mouthwash so that your mouth is feeling nice and clean - this makes it less appealing to eat more (especially before bedtime). Ever try to eat or drink something after brushing your teeth? Not tasty!

6) Cardio Ideas
You can do cardio workouts such as walking, jogging, biking, swimming, rowing any day and it only takes 20-30 minutes to receive a good cardio-vascular benefit. Keep the heart rate at about 50-65% of your maximum heart rate. A good way to determine maximum heart rate is the theoretical formula - 220 - age = max heart rate
The best thing about this part of your workout is that you can do your cardio exercise around your neighborhood, on a treadmill at home, or at the gym if you choose. So on days when time is critical, get your cardio done or make those days one of your rest days (1-2 per week).

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Powerful Benefits of Pumpkins

Health Benefits

Pumpkin has a range of fantastic health benefits, including being one of the best-known sources of beta-carotene. 

Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant.  It also gives orange vegetables and fruits their vibrant color. The body converts any ingested beta-carotene into vitamin A.
Consuming foods rich in beta-carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer, offer protection against asthma and heart disease, and delay aging and body degeneration.

Many studies have suggested that eating more plant foods such as pumpkin decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality. It can also help prevent diabetes and heart disease, and promote a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, and a healthful body mass index (BMI).

Pumpkins are also a powerful source of fiber.
They have demonstrated the following health benefits.

Regulating Blood Pressure

Eating pumpkin is good for the heart. The fiber, potassium, and vitamin C content in pumpkin all support heart health.

Studies suggests that consuming enough potassium may be almost as important as decreasing sodium intake for the treatment of hypertension, or high blood pressure. Decreasing sodium intake involves eating meals that contain little or no salt.
Increased potassium intake is also associated with a reduce the risk of stroke, protection against loss of muscle mass, and preservation of bone mineral density.

Reducing the risk of cancer

Research has suggested a positive relationship between a diet rich in beta-carotene and a reduced risk of prostate cancer.
Beta-carotene has also been shown to hold back the development of colon cancer in some of the Japanese population.

Pumpkins contain a wealth of antioxidants. Vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene have been shown to support eye health and prevent degenerative damage.
A cross-sectional study of older African-American women showed that eating 3 or more fruit servings per day was associated with a decreased risk of age-related macular degeneration. It also led to slower progression of the disease.

Combating diabetes

Pumpkin helps to control diabetes.
The plant compounds in pumpkin seed and pulp are excellent for helping the absorption of glucose into the tissues and intestines, as well as balancing levels of liver glucose.  They may be associated with a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, but this effect is not consistently demonstrated.  However, the compounds have such an impact that researchers suggest that they could be reworked into an anti-diabetic medication, though further studies are needed.

Daily fiber content

Pumpkins are a fantastic source of fiber. People in the United States (U.S.) do not consume enough fiber, with an average daily intake of just 15 g. The recommended daily fiber intake of is between 25 and 30 g.
Fiber slows the rate of sugar absorption into the blood, as well as promoting regular bowel movements and smooth digestion. A healthful fiber intake can also help reduce the risk of colon cancer. 
With nearly 3 grams (g) of fiber in cooked, fresh pumpkin and over 7 g in canned pumpkin, adding a serving of pumpkin to the daily diet can help supplement the fiber shortage in the average American diet.

Immune health

Pumpkin can protect immunity.
Pumpkin pulp and seeds are high in both vitamin C and beta-carotene. These offer a boost to the immune system using a powerful combination of nutrients.
Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A. This triggers the creation of white blood cells that fight infection.

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin without salt contains: 
1.76 g of protein
2.7 g of fiber
49 calories 
0.17 g of fat
0 g of cholesterol 
12.01 g of carbohydrate
This amount of pumpkin also provides: 
more than 200 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin A
nineteen percent of the RDA of vitamin C
ten percent or more of the RDA of vitamin E, riboflavin, potassium, copper, and manganese
at least 5 percent of thiamin, B-6, folate , pantothenic acid, niacin, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus

Preparing fresh pumpkin at home will deliver the most benefits for your health, but canned pumpkin is also a great choice. Pumpkin retains many of its health benefits it the canning process.
Steer clear of canned pumpkin pie mix. This is usually placed next to the canned pumpkin in grocery stores, and is sold in a similar can. It contains added sugars and syrups.
Canned pumpkin should have only one ingredient: Pumpkin.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Powerful Benefits of B12 Shots

#1. Increases your energy levels & fights fatigue

One of the most common symptoms of B12 deficiency is increased fatigue or lack of energy levels. 
What's interesting is that we know why this happens:
Vitamin B12 (along with other B vitamins) is required for proper energy production in your mitochondria.
Recall from basic biology that your mitochondria produce "energy" for your body in the form of a molecule called ATP  (adenosine triphosphate).
The number of mitochondria in your cells and muscles and how effective they are working determine your subjective sense of "energy". 
Anything that lowers energy production in the mitochondria may manifest as fatigue.
In addition it has been shown in studies that supplementing with B12 can increase energy levels.
This is why vitamin B12 is put into "energy drinks" and other supplements that are meant to boost vitamin B12. 
But here's the most important part: 
One of the main reasons for Vitamin B12 deficiency is due to malabsorption of vitamin B12 in our GI tract. 
So basically you can be consuming B12 in your diet (or even taking supplements with B12) but not actually absorbing it. 
This is why one of the main benefits to taking B12 shots is increased energy levels. 
By taking a shot you are bypassing the GI tract and allowing for 100% absorption into the body straight into the cells (which is where B12 has its action).
If you are taking Vitamin B12 supplements and not feeling any different than it may be due to a lack of absorption.

#2. Improves your metabolism

Another very important benefit of vitamin B12 supplementation is an increase in basal metabolic rate or metabolism. 
Your metabolism is the most important factor when it comes to determining your weight.
Your metabolism represents the amount of calories that you burn while at rest and represents around 90-95% of all calories that you burn in any given day. 
The problem here is that most of you are walking around with a slower than normal metabolism due to a variety of factors.
Low vitamin B12, low mitochondrial energy production, low thyroid hormone, a history of recurrent dieting, etc. have all been shown to slow down your metabolism.
So instead of burning, let's say, 2,000 calories per day - you may only be burning 1400-1500 calories per day if your metabolism is only functioning at 75% of normal.
Obviously with a metabolism that slow it will be VERY difficult to lose any weight.
Vitamin B12 is one of those nutrients that can affect your metabolism and here's how:
We've already established the importance of normal mitochondrial energy production in the first section, but what you probably didn't realize is that your mitochondria also help set your basal metabolic rate. 
The amount of energy that you produce in your mitochondria helps set your metabolism for your entire body. 
More energy production = more energy available for use = higher energy burn = more heat production and more calories burned overall
So if you have sub optimal Vitamin B12 levels or high levels of fatigue your metabolism may be slower than normal. 
If this reduction in metabolism is due to low levels of B12 then B12 shots can improve your metabolism.

#3. Helps with weight loss

B12 shots don't directly result in weight loss but they do in an indirect way. 
Let me explain:
Some of the benefits (including those we've already discussed) of B12 shots include:
Better sleep
Higher metabolism
More energy
Increased mood
What's interesting is that all of these "lifestyle" factors influence how and if your body will lose weight and burn fat mass. 
For instance:
Lack of sleep has been shown to increase your risk for developing obesity by increasing your blood sugar.
Likewise a slow metabolism can help predict weight gain long term (especially after weight loss). 
Low energy levels make exercise difficult and it has been shown to increase your risk for gaining weight.  
Low B12 is also associated with depression which is directly associated with weight gain and obesity.
All of these are intuitive and shouldn't come as a shock to you, so it also shouldn't come as a surprise to know that if you can improve these factors then you can help your body with weight loss.
Make sense?
Vitamin B12 shots can help improve your sleep, increase your energy, normalize your metabolism and improve your mood.
ALL of these factors may indirectly influence your ability to lose weight and may explain why patients who use vitamin B12 shots usually report some degree of weight loss. 
Vitamin B12 shots can also be combined with lipotropic supplements to further help boost weight loss.
Lipotropic vitamins and nutrients directly help your body burn fat and break down adipose tissue which results in fat loss.
But this effect is different from how vitamin B12 itself is working to help with weight loss in your body.
The lipotropic that can be combined with B12 shots include: Methionine, Inositol and Choline.

#4. Helps improve sleeping patterns & circadian rhythm

Another VERY important, and often under appreciated benefit of methylcobalamin is how it affects your circadian rhythm. 
Your circadian rhythm is the process that helps regulate the quality and depth of your sleep (among other factors) which can directly influence your mood, energy levels and weight.
Studies have shown that methylcobalamin (NOT cyanocobalamin) can improve this rhythm.
It should be noted that this study compared the effects of cyanocobalamin to methylcobalamin and found that methylcobalamin is the only form of vitamin B12 to have this effect. 
Both cyanocobalamin and methylcobalamin are forms of Vitamin B12 but they are not created equal.
Cyoanocobalamin is considered the cheaper and less effective form of B12.
Compared to methylcobalamin which comes premethylated and ready for processing in your body and mitochondria.
If you get B12 shots make sure that you are getting methylated B12 for best results.
If you are having sleep issues including: difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, problems getting tired at night or low energy levels then you may be experiencing problems with your circadian rhythm. 
Taking methylcobalamin B12 shots may improve this rhythm and help increase your energy and (as discussed above) help with weight loss. 

#5. Increases concentration & mood

Is your mood down? or are you feeling more "depressed" than usual?  You aren't alone.
We have record numbers of patients taking anti-depressants for "depression" in hospitals and in the community.
Depression by itself isn't a diagnosis but a sign of something else going on in your body.
This may include nutrient deficiencies, high levels of inflammation, lack of exercise, weight gain, etc.
No matter how you look at it there are at least 50+ known causes of depression out there.
One of the main, and most well known, is low levels of Vitamin B12.
It has been shown that vitamin B12 can help increase your mood and fight off depression.
What's great is that B12 can be used in conjunction with other therapies for B12 and can augment your results to help increase your mood quickly.
Likewise B12 has also been shown to increase concentration  which may reduce symptoms such as inability to focus on projects and tasks. 

#6. Boosts your immune system

Vitamin B12 also plays a critical role in your immune system. 
Supplmentating with methylcobalamin (not cyanocobalamin) has been shown to restore abnormalities in the CD4/CD8 T cell ratio.
These factors are very important for fighting off viruses and bacteria that come into contact with your body. 
Changes in this ratio increase your risk for developing certain infections and may reduce the ability of your body to effectively get rid of this infections.
This may result in patients who get sick frequently or who stay sick longer than normal.
The exact mechanism of how B12 interacts with the immune system isn't well understood but it has been shown that low levels impact the body's ability to fight off various infections.
If you have issues with immunity then it would be worth evaluating your B12 levels to see if they might be contributing.

#7. May increase hair growth or stop hair loss

It turns out that there are several nutrients that required for optimal hair growth and Vitamin B12 happens to be one of them. 
If you are having issues with hair loss or your hair is thinning then read on...
In order for proper hair growth to continue and be optimal you need hight enough levels of Vitamin B12, ferritin and hemoglobin.
Deficiencies in any one of these nutrients may result in a reduction in hair growth or even hair loss.
While it is true that many factors (including hormones) influence your hair growth/hair loss, it is worth noting that vitamin B12 plays a special role.
I would never recommend that you take only B12 if your hair is falling out, but taking B12 with other supplements to boost hair loss is a great idea and can be very beneficial.

If you want to use B12 shots you need to make sure you are getting high quality, pharmaceutical grade B12 in its methylated form: methylcobalamin.
You will also need to make sure you get a high enough dosage and make sure the dose isn't watered down or lower than normal.
That generally means at least 5,000mcg of methylcobalamin taken once per week.
Some places will dilute the concentration or use cyanocobalamin because they are cheaper, so make sure you get high quality ingredients.

Taking Vitamin B12 is very safe. 
There is a small risk of developing redness at the injection site but it can be minimized by using proper techniques and making sure to use an antiseptic prior to application.
Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin which means that high levels in the blood will be urinated out.
There is no real risk of developing Vitamin B12 toxicity unless you have chronic and severe kidney function (meaning your urination isn't normal).
Outside of these issues vitamin B12 shots are very well tolerated.

Most patients will need 1 shot every 7 days.
In some cases supraphysiologic dosages may be necessary.
That means some patients may need an injection every 5 days instead of every 7 days.

Taking B12 shots may result in a dramatic improvement in your symptoms and can help in a variety of ways. 
The most common benefits of taking B12 shots include:
Increased energy
More weight loss
Better mood and increased concentration
Better sleep
Hair growth
Better metabolism
These are not the only benefits of B12 shots, but just some of the more common. 
It's also important to realize that B12 shots provide more benefit than taking oral supplements alone.
This has to do with various issues regarding absorption of B12 in the gastrointestinal tract.
Taking B12 shots allows for 100% absorption directly into the tissues. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

What Your Personal Trainer Wishes You Didn't Do

Read on for the six biggest faux pas that are could be driving, your personal trainer crazy but are also hampering your fitness progress.

1) Withholding Health Information
Are you on any medications? Did your recent bone scan reveal thinning bones? Did you injure your knee or have back surgery five years ago? Even if your health care provider has cleared you to exercise, your trainer needs to know these important health facts to keep you safe. Medications can affect your heart rate; doing certain moves when you have osteoporosis can make your condition worse; and prior injuries or surgeries can also affect your workout prescription. Even if your trainer hasn't asked, it's up to you to fess up and tell-all when it comes to your health. Don't worry: Like health care providers, trainers must abide by codes of conduct and keep your health status confidential.

No one likes a complainer and, including a personal trainer. You see, to a personal trainer, complaining doesn't make sense. If you're paying someone to work you out and push you, then you have to expect to be worked out pretty hard. And why would you want to complain and impede your progress? In fact, complaining takes up precious time that a trainer can use for explaining proper form for an exercise or for general dietary advice. You wouldn't want to miss that important information, would you?

3) Making Excuses
Many people are busy and have trouble fitting in exercise. But once you commit to working out with a trainer, refrain from making excuses for missing a workout or overeating. Be honest as to why you missed a workout or what drove you to overeat. If a trainer doesn't know the full scope of your situation, then how can he or she help you? And, for most of us, let's be honest - excuses are what has kept us from reaching our full potential. It's really in your best interest to fess up as to why you did or didn't do something. It's all part of the learning process.

4) Lying
This point is closely related to "making excuses" except instead of saying that your dog ate your workout plan, you fib that you skipped a third glass of wine after dinner or you really did squeeze in that circuit workout—when you didn't. Personal trainers get it. No one wants to look bad or let down their trainer, but it's essential to tell the truth.

A good trainer is constantly modifying your workout plan to fit you. And if you're not telling the truth about your workout or eating plan, then a trainer isn't going to be able to adapt your fitness plan accordingly. And at the end of the day, you're paying a trainer to help you reach your goals, so by lying, you're the one you have to face at the end of the day.

5) Talking Too Much (Or Not Enough)
A trainer can only design your workout based on the information you give them. If you're as closed as a clam in chilly waters, then it's darn near impossible for a trainer to help you set goals that really matter to you. On the flip side, if you're a total chatty Cathy or gossipy Glen, then you really need to make sure that your conversations with your personal trainer stay on track and are about fitness, your goals and your health. A session with a personal trainer doesn't come cheap, and you need to make sure your time is being spent discussing your weight loss—not the neighbors down the street.

And, for the record, trainers can get frustrated when they have to keep redirecting you to the task at hand (read: working out).

6) Not Following Your Plan
Personal trainers create a workout plan for you for a reason. It may seem random, but they have a method to their cardio and strength routines. Trainers are not expecting you to do more than your plan calls for—or less. If you work out more than called for or eat less, it can really mess with your results. And, if you do too little, then you can't expect full results. Simply put, if you believed in a trainer enough to purchase their services, then believe in them enough to follow their advice!

7) Wearing Overly Baggy Clothes
This may seem like an odd point to make, but it's an important one. To properly correct form when lifting weights, a personal trainer must see the angles of your body. In a lunge, they need to make sure that your knee isn't going over your toes, and, if you're doing a triceps extension, they need to know that your chin is level. However, if you have on big, baggy sweatpants or a hooded sweatshirt, then they won't be able to tell if your form is as it should be. I know that you want to be comfortable at the gym, but for your safety, a personal trainer really appreciates when you have clothes that show your full form. Spandex isn't necessary, but a big oversize T-shirt isn't helping you—or your trainer!

To get the most out of your personal training sessions, fix these faux pas and you will be on the right path to reaching your goals—and get on your trainer's good side in the process!