Fat and Your Future

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Evolution of a Society

I started working in long term care facilities, or nursing homes, many years ago. At that time almost all of our residents were elderly people with medical problems. In recent years I worked in two other nursing homes and guess what. A large number of the residents were relatively young, but obese, so obese that they simply could not care for themselves at home. I work in a different environment now, assisted living, where our residents do not have medical problems significant enough to require skilled nursing care. I do not have a single young, obese resident. When a young person becomes morbidly obese they may just skip over assisted living and go straight to a nursing home if their medical problems skyrocket out of control to the point that they require skilled nursing care. Even if you maintain good health into old age, if you are morbidly obese, the day is most likely coming that a nursing home is your only option. Simple tasks of daily living become all but impossible for the morbidly obese if they have medical problems that are even slightly debilitating. Excess weight can make the difference in remaining in your home for your golden years or living in a nursing home. While I do believe that nursing homes are a blessing for those that need them, if I had to choose, I would always choose to live in my home.

The Simple Things

There has been a ill-informed mindset for many years that advanced age always means dependency on others for your personal needs. This is not true. We have accepted this as the norm and it simply is not. We become debilitated by our choices more than anything else. We decide what we will eat and how much exercise and sleep that we get. We may have some genetics that work against us, but even those can be managed in a positive manner. I have known Type 1 diabetics who managed their diabetes well, taking only minimum amounts of insulin. I have also known Type 2 diabetics who managed their diabetes so well with good nutrition and exercise that they took no medications whatsoever. I have also personally known diabetics who ate cake frosting by the tub and spent a lot of their life in ICU. If the latter group lives to old age, they will almost certainly develop medical problems that will make it necessary to live in a nursing home. Some of these people are very young and some of them will be young when they arrive in their home away from home, a long-term care facility. As the amputations begin and mobility begins to slip away, the simple act of taking a shower will require assistance or even complete care. Going to the bathroom may become treacherous, putting the individual at great risk for falls, so even that previously private moment will require someone else to accomplish and that last shred of pride can be taken away. While caregivers are supposed to always protect an individuals dignity, the mere act of requiring help in the bathroom is humbling, to say the least. If you require assistance, then you may not be able to stay in the bathroom alone for your bowel movement. At least you won’t be lonely, right?

Recent Developments

In the year 2000, the percentage of those entering American nursing homes who were moderately to severely obese was 14.7 percent. In 2010, it was 25 percent. In 2018, 28 percent. The most significant increase was among women and the most severely obese residents were among the youngest. The most severely obese residents also suffered more chronic medical conditions. Special equipment is required to handle some of these residents which adds to medical costs. Things that we never consider are routine requirements for the morbidly obese. They even need longer needles and larger blood pressure cuffs. Obesity is expensive. About 30-40 referrals are usually involved in placement for the morbidly obese.

Wisdom

I’ve heard it said that all we’ve got is time. I’ve also heard that time will pass either way. In this context, I take that to mean that as time passes, we will make choices that will create our bodies and lives. So, if we create a bit of our bodies and our lives every day then let’s create something good. I’ll never forget when I first began lifting heavy weights with David training me. I asked him, “How long will “it” take?” … (let that soak in a minute…) He kindly responded, “The rest of your life.” and it will. Every day, living my life at my optimum, healthiest level to build muscle and health will be a lifetime project. Time will pass. I intend to be independent until the day I die at a very old age. That is a goal.

Nutrition

We write at length about avoiding empty calories, which are fattening, nutritional bombs. They pack on the pounds and do not repair your body or provide the nutrients that you need. David wrote an article entitled Obese Yet Malnourished that describes this type of eating. It’s deadly. You will starve and develop all kinds of illness if you live this way. Eat nutrient dense food and be healthy. This is just whole foods, nothing magical. Eat meat and vegetables and avoid added sugars. Simple.

Exercise

Go to your doctor and get approved to exercise. He can also tell you what exercise is best for you. If you sit on your behind for the rest of your life, there will be way too much behind and not nearly enough life.

Rest

Find a way to get some sleep. You can tell if you’re getting enough. When you’re rested, life makes more sense, even the hard times, and you are better able to get through those times. In the good times, you will be able to enjoy them. You will find yourself smiling more and things will just be easier. Catch some ZZZ’s.

Destress

With all the troubles that can confront us, this is a tough one. The best way to destress is to have good health habits. They will make you stronger and more confident. Confidence is necessary to get through the hard times. You will have a feeling of control that you wouldn’t have otherwise. Even if you can’t control whatever is bothering you, you can think well enough to make strategic plans when you are well-rested. Exercise changes your chemistry to naturally center you in difficult times.

The Rest of Your Life

If you are reading this and you are overweight, with your doctor’s approval, lose the weight. Your mobility and overall health is at risk. In order to remain independent and self-sufficient, you must be healthy. Do you really want to live in a nursing home and depend on others for your most personal needs? I have discovered that life really does get better with age. The trick to that is simply that YOU have to get better with age. When you get better, life gets better. Start today, it’s the first day of the rest of your life.

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Junkies, Addicted to that Sugar

Addiction, what a wonderfully glorious, life ruining malady to suffer from. It is ever so easy to get used to that feel good rush that comes from hitting that glass pipe of methamphetamine. It makes you feel as if you can conquer the world while destroying everything about your life with a swiftness. Or, you might love the instant euphoria that comes when pushing heroin through a needle into your vein, that peaceful easy feeling is tough to beat even when you know the great harm which comes with the territory. The most common feel good substance you can find yourself addicted to as well, might be found in your kitchen cabinet for you and your family’s enjoyment. That addictive substance is sugar!

Many signs of addiction are easy to recognize, people neglect personal responsibilities, exhaust financial resources, and sometimes engage in criminal conduct to support their habits. But then, there are many addicts among us each day that may not show any signs at all. I had a brother in law years ago who was addicted to amphetamines and cocaine. He was successful in the banking industry despite  his addiction leading him to preloading two syringes each morning before work in order to have a mid-morning and afternoon hit before going home in the early evening. You would have never guessed that despite the super clean cut appearance, he had illegal drugs tucked away in his suit pocket.

We might think that addiction will never happen to us, we like to believe we are too smart to allow this to ever happen. I never saw myself as an opiate addict until I found myself trying to get off prescription pain meds following my spinal injury ten years ago. You might be thinking none of this has anything to do with you since you might not indulge in any of the obvious addictive vices life has to offer. If you are overweight and out of shape, you need to reconsider. Chances are, you are addicted to simple carbs and sugar and are as much a junkie as any drug addict or alcoholic. If this offends you then consider these questions:

  • Do you ever find yourself craving sugary foods?
  • Has your appetite for sugary foods caused problems for yourself and your family? Problems which have come from the impact sugar has had on your health? Metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and more?
  • Do you dress to highlight features of your body? Or do you wear clothing that distracts from unwanted bulges and rolls that embarrass you?
  • Have you ever hid how much you actually eat from family and friends?
  • Have you ever been ashamed of how your appetite has impacted your health and appearance?
  • Do you know that you need to lose weight and improve your health but feel unable to give up your junk foods?
  • Are you embarrassed by the number that appears when you stand on your bathroom scale?

Face it, it is highly unlikely you ever craved brussel sprouts or lettuce like you have simple carbohydrates and sugar. Sugar is often used to make foods more appealing, which leads to habituation and even in some cases addiction, thereby uniquely contributing to the obesity epidemic our society is experiencing. As with street drugs, the dopaminergic system gets involved in reward with the consumption of highly palatable foods. Recent research suggests that highly processed foods are addictive and the hedonic mechanisms (pleasure-seeking pathways) plays a critical role in obesity.

Have you ever noticed that decadent pleasure which comes from biting into a sweet treat?

Of course you have, who are you kidding…

Are you a junkie addicted to sugar?

The American Psychiatric Association has defined addiction as “a complex condition, a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequence.”

In today’s world, there is nowhere you can turn without the sight of people with a variety of weight problems ranging from minor to severe. Because sugar is in so many foods we eat, and on the shelves of every grocery store across the nation, we think of it as a harmless substance even though common sense says otherwise.  Cocaine used to be in Coca Cola and was thought of as harmless. At one time, even heroin was easily obtained for cold symptoms. Most recently, synthetic THC products could be found for sale in gas stations and convenience shops. Because it was legal, many young people thought it was harmless. Many learned the hard way that just because a product is legal, this does not mean it will not cause your body harm. Sugar has been linked to an increased risk of a number of medical conditions, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Sugar also zaps your energy, increases your risk of depression, and contributes to poor dental health — just to name a few.

By cutting sugar, you can reduce your health risks and may feel better than you ever thought was possible. Follow us here at David’s Way to Health and Fitness. We have over 750 articles and healthy recipes to help you kick your sugar addiction. Subscription is free and easy. By subscribing you can receive each new article straight to your email inbox.

Be well!

Healthy Habits

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Trade the 6-Pack for a Six-Pack

Just today I was perusing a popular fitness website and saw a woman who was eating one meal a day to try to get her eating under control. The problem is that, according to her, she is so hungry when she finally decides to eat her one meal, that she eats everything in sight. I’m sure that you have heard it said that “Abs are made in the kitchen.” No truer words have ever been spoken. We all have six-pack abs! They are usually hiding underneath fat. By eating a specified number of calories that are right for your body and avoiding empty calories, we can shed that fat with no fad diets or weird changes to our daily lives. This woman is still overeating although she is going for long periods of time without eating. We seem to think that we have to suffer to be healthy. We don’t. While discipline and perseverance are required, we can eat healthy food and stay full and satisfied almost all of the time if we always eat nutritionally dense foods. These are simply foods that are high in nutrition with no empty calories. A breakfast of oats and eggs will sustain you with dense nutrition while a honeybun and coffee won’t make the grade. As soon as the simple carbs from that pastry quickly begin to fade from your bloodstream, you’ll be desperately hungry for real food but, if you don’t have a real food habit, you will just continue to self-medicate with garbage and the cycle will continue. Make good nutrition your number one healthy habit. Go to the Calorie Counter Pro to determine how many calories that you need to eat. Always get your doctor’s approval before beginning any weight loss program. We usually advise aiming for about a one pound loss per week.

Are You Serious?

DON’T SMOKE. While I like to tell people what actions they can take to try to be healthy, this is one time that I must tell you something that you should NOT do. There is an endless list of the ways that smoking negatively affects your health. You are lying to yourself if you say that you are trying to be healthy and continue in this profoundly negative behaviour. Excessive alcohol consumption has to be on this list also. I don’t drink alcohol because it’s a source of empty calories and simple carbohydrates.  I want excellent nutrition for every calorie consumed and alcohol does not have it. Get real and get clean and sober.

Get Active!

The minimum amount of exercise that is necessary to be healthy is generally considered to be about 3.5 hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity each week. Exercise helps control your weight, reduces your risk of heart disease, helps your body manage blood sugar and insulin levels, improves your mood and helps keep your mind sharp as you age. Always get your doctor’s approval before you get active. Exercise can even help you quit smoking by reducing the cravings associated with smoking cessation. It will also help you burn some of the extra calories that you may eat when you quit and help you to keep your weight under control at a time when many people pack on the pounds and think that it is excused because they quit smoking. Exercise will also strengthen your bones and muscles and reduce your risk of falls. It will improve your sleep and increase your chances of living longer. A key component of finding a successful exercise for your self is to do something that is convenient and that you like or at least tolerate well. If you hate gyms, for God’s sake, don’t join one! Exercise at home.

Seek Stability

Maintain a normal, healthy weight. If you eat nutritionally dense foods in the amounts needed to provide the number of calories that your body needs, this will happen naturally. Fad diets and stringently imposed rules that make you miserable and starve your body of much needed energy and nutrients will not give you a stable weight. You may lose a lot of weight with this voodoo but you will most likely gain it back with a few pounds to go with it. As you have heard, “You didn’t gain it in a week, you’re not going to lose it in a week.” Be patient and work hard. It will happen. There are no shortcuts. Most fads are merely ways to keep overeating your trigger foods. In the case of the One Meal A Day plan, you starve for about 20 hours and binge for 4. Now seriously, do you think that you will binge on lean protein and veggies? Probably not. Odds are that you will feel deprived and also entitled to eat whatever you fancy because, after all, you’re SUFFERING, right?

Chill

I don’t know if it’s too much reality T.V. or all those fat cells making too much estrogen, but dear Lord, nowadays people do love their drama. Stop it. Life is dramatic enough without you adding extra stress into the equation. Stress, whether real or imagined, causes a release of cortisol. Cortisol contributes to belly fat and insulin resistance and raises your blood pressure. It also makes you act like an idiot. Seek peace. At David’s Way we teach you to “Make Your World Small” (David Yochim) This simply means to cut out excess people and events that are not positive. Only allow supportive people into you life. Avoid other people’s drama and make your world as positive and productive as possible. Some might say, “Cut the dead wood.” If it’s not doing anything for you, remove it from your life, especially remove anything negative. Your stress level will plummet. I don’t answer texts or phone calls that have a negative impact on my mind. You truly have the power to create your life, so create something beautiful.

Pull That Sweet Tooth!

Added sugars cause inflammation throughout your body and pack on the pounds. Inflammation is the beginning of almost all disease. Excess weight exacerbates and aggravates disease and dysfunction throughout your body. We have recipes that will satisfy any sweet craving that you may have. Just search for your favorite dessert and you very well may find a “No Sugar Added” version here on the website. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, leave a comment and we’ll find what you want. You can also contact us through the “Contact” tab and we’ll get back to you. There is no fee for this service.  We do what we do because we want to change the world to be a healthier place to live. Our habits create our world. Make them good.

 

Obese Yet Malnourished

Imagine if you will, the surprise you might experience if you have been feeling run down with a malaise that will not go away to hear from your doctor that not only are you now morbidly obese, but you are also suffering from malnutrition despite the fact you eat all day, every day. Despite your excessive consumption of food, you learn that you are no different than many other obese individuals who have high rates of micronutrient deficiencies. That diet of fast food, pizza, soda pop and sweet treats has left you with a deficiency of specific vitamins and minerals that play important roles in glucose metabolism and insulin. All of which may contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome sometime in your future if you do not already have one of these conditions.

You can’t fix your hunger by just nutritionally empty calories. You’ve got to nourish yourself with healthy, nutrient-dense foods, in order to maintain good health and to not become obese. You are doing yourself no favors if you are the type who lives on fast foods or any other type of foods of poor nutritional quality. When you consume a nutritionally poor diet, you are dooming yourself to a life of obesity and health problems. You are responsible for your health, no one else. Your first line of defense is to change your dietary habits to one of whole nutritional foods. If you believe eating healthy is too expensive, you should consider the cost of good food is nothing when compared to unnecessary medical bills. It is a shame, but poor diets are now linked to more deaths than smoking.

 Besides getting fat, do our bodies have any way to tell us when we are hurting it with our poor nutritional habits? If so, what are the prominent signs?

Damaged Hair

Some people have naturally lush, beautiful hair. Others aren’t so lucky. But having great hair isn’t just about your genes. It can also have a lot to do with what you are, or are not feeding yourself. One of the first things to suffer from a poor diet is the hair follicles. Protein deficiency can be seen in stringy, straw-like hair. This can also be the result of a diet low in essential fatty acids, vitamin C, zinc, and iron.

Wrinkles

We all get wrinkles, like death, they’re fairly inevitable. But we can control how early our skin starts to show signs of age by eating well and avoiding bad habits, like smoking or drinking alcohol on a regular basis. The best way to keep your skin looking healthy is to eat foods that are high in vitamins A, C, and D and antioxidants like flavonoids and carotenoids. It’s also a good idea to consume at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables in a day.

Bad Teeth and Gums

If you’ve developed a case of bleeding gums or painful teeth, there’s a good chance you’re doing something rather terrible to your body. Smoking, eating the wrong foods, and drinking too much alcohol can all have an adverse effect on oral health.

While smoking can present major problems for the teeth, sugar is still the primary culprit. Consuming too much sugar, which is often caused by imbibing large amounts of soda, can wear away the enamel on the teeth, exposing them to decay and pain. You can help yourself by avoiding these beverages and increase your intake of vitamin C, which can help heal swollen and bleeding gums.

Weight Gain

Weight gain can be the result of binging on high-calorie, high-fat foods barren of important nutrients. You already know you did not get heavy by eating healthy.

Gastrointestinal Problems

If you’re constantly in discomfort following a meal, meaning you feel indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea, or constipation, it can be a sign that you’re doing your body harm. This could be the result of an insufficient supply of fiber. It’s recommended men get about 38 grams of fiber each day, with women getting about 25 grams.

Constantly Getting Sick

If you feel like you just can’t do anything to get to feeling healthy, it is time to re-evaluate your lifestyle choices. This should start with a careful examination of your diet, followed by a close look at your exercise regimen. Simply put, eating poorly and failing to get sufficient exercise can have hugely negative consequences for the body and particularly its immune system.

Wounds Heal Slowly

If it seems like your body is in slow motion when it comes to healing minor cuts and bruises, it’s possible you’re not getting the nutrients your body needs to fight these problems. If this is a problem for you, try to eat less high-calorie, high-fat foods that lack essential fatty acids and important vitamins, from vitamin A and B12 to vitamin C. Be sure that the foods you’re eating aren’t just empty calories that offer your body nothing it can use to heal wounds. Increasing your consumption of protein will also help.

Foggy Brain

If you find yourself struggling to answer really simple questions and can’t figure out why, it could simply be a lack of sleep or preoccupation with another, more important life matter. Or, you could be damaging your body and it’s trying to warn you that things just aren’t right. Foggy memory and struggles with concentrating are actually two major signs that the body isn’t getting the nutrition it needs. Like the other parts of the body (including the heart, lungs, and intestines) the brain needs certain nutrients, like omega-3 fatty acids, to function at its best.

When most of us think of malnutrition, we think of stick thin children with distended bellies. We almost never consider that one who is obese could possibly be suffering from malnutrition too. I remember the first time I ever heard of this, it was about 23 years ago. One of my family members was obese and not feeling well. He went to his doctor who asked him what he eats on a daily basis. His reply was pizza, beer, pickled eggs and hotdogs. He weighed about 300 pounds and because of this unhealthy diet, he was also severely malnourished. Never for a minute think that just because your belly is full, that is good enough.

It is not enough.

Make the choice today, make a difference in your health and begin eating a nutritionally dense, low calorie diet of whole foods that contain no added sugar, unhealthy fats or too large amounts of sodium or preservatives. We have over 750 articles and healthy recipes here at David’s Way to Health and FItness to help you with a new lifestyle. You have the power to make a positive change if only you first choose to do so.

Sugar Free Buttercream Easter Eggs

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Ingredients

Nutritional Info

Serving size 1 egg

Servings 12

Calories 160

Protein 1 gram

Net Carbs 4 grams

Fat 15 grams

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup Swerve Confectioners

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream, room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or extract of choice)

Natural food coloring

4 ounces sugar-free dark chocolate, chopped (Hershey’s makes Miniatures that work great!)

3/4 ounce cocoa butter or 1 1/2 Tablespoon coconut oil

Instructions

Beat butter and cream cheese til smooth.

Add sweetener and beat til well combined. The mixture will be very thick.

Add the cream and beat til smooth.

Add extract of choice and a little food coloring, if desired.

Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper and scoop about 2 Tablespoons of the mixture onto the sheet and shape with your hands into an egg shape about 2 inches long. If it’s too sticky, dust with a little Swerve Confectioners. Do all of the mixture like this.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler with the cocoa butter or coconut oil and dip the eggs one at a time, tossing to coat. Lift out with a fork and tap to remove excess chocolate. Place on waxed paper.

Drizzle with remaining chocolate and let set til firm.

Fat and Immunity

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We Lie to Ourselves

As much as we might like to deceive ourselves that we are “healthy” when the scale goes up, that isn’t usually the truth. Just because we may feel good in the moment does not mean that various systems of our bodies are not struggling to provide status quo. We are mysteriously and wonderfully made. Our bodies are profoundly complex and designed to prevail under almost any circumstance. We can take a lot of abuse and neglect before we begin to break down, but I can assure you of this, if you are deceiving yourself into believing that you are “getting away” with overweight and obesity, you are wrong. Not only are your musculoskeletal, cardiovascular and endocrine systems suffering, so is your immunity. Right now, in the midst of the Corona virus pandemic, might be a good time to consider your ways.

Fatal Distraction

Every cell in our bodies has a link to the immune system. That’s how the immune system works. It’s the police force of our bodies so it has to be everywhere, all the time. Otherwise, invaders will come in and destroy us. A chronic, inflammatory process begins in these links between fat cells and the immune system. Since inflammation is known to be the beginning of most, if not all, disease processes, then this constantly inflamed state is conducive to disease. This is how fat impairs your immunity. Although you may not be sick now, your body is on high alert trying to fight invaders while also dealing with the inflammation. You might say that it can’t focus entirely on the invaders at hand because it is distracted by the inflammation. Believe me, with all of the microbial assaults that we are subjected to in our environment, this is not good. We need our immune system focused on the attackers from the outside. We should do everything in our power to keep our body running efficiently so that it can do just that with no distractions.

Sad But True

While no one is sure exactly how the immune response impairment develops, we do know that it is real. Obesity changes both white cell number and the way that they respond. Obesity increases the production of leptin, which is inflammatory and also reduces adiponectin, which is anti-inflammatory. A particularly disturbing fact that I discovered while researching this topic is that hypoxia, or a lack of enough oxygen to sustain function, occurs in hypertrophied fat tissue and causes inflammation. I mean, think about that. Living human cells require oxygen. If a state of hypoxia exists in these fat deposits, then we’re talking about tissue that is dying. That’s scary. Is there any wonder that this dying tissue can affect our immunity? While brilliant scientists are hard at work determining exactly how this process occurs, just knowing that hypertrophied fat tissue can develop hypoxia is enough to keep me counting my calories.

 Do Your Part

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Increased numbers of inflammatory cytokines circulate throughout the body of overweight and obese individuals and abdominal fat is considered the most dangerous. This is a key component in the development of insulin resistance, metabolic disorders and an increased risk of heart disease.  (1) David has written an excellent article, Re-Evaluating Healthy Living Yet? that discusses the health risks associated with overweight and obesity and how they impact our chances of contracting the Corona virus. At a time like this it serves us well to take a critical look at our lives and see how we can better care for ourselves. Underlying illness is a critical factor in contracting Corona and in the  prognosis for the patient. As a result, poor health habits affect the world at large. If we become a world of sickly, overweight and obese people then we are predisposing ourselves and everyone around us to more of the same as we become incubators for the world’s deadliest diseases. Taking care of ourselves is also taking care of those around us in this sense. If you are not inclined to do it for you then do it for your grandchildren. Get and stay healthy and instead of increasing the number of cases of Corona, and other diseases that thrive in unhealthy bodies, be one who helps flatten the curve.

Lifestyle 

Physical activity may help counteract the negative impact of body fat. Studies have shown that leptin and other inflammatory markers decrease when the test subjects increase their levels of physical fitness and activity. With your doctor’s permission and guidance, make a plan to get more active to improve your health.

Incriminating Evidence

All types of malnutrition are associated with impaired immune function. Strangely enough, obesity is considered a type of malnutrition because there is such an imbalance of nutrients available to the body. A high calorie diet of foods with little nutritional value will result in malnutrition and malnutrition negatively impacts immunity. This is evidenced in overweight and obese individuals, including children, who receive immunizations but do not develop proper antibodies to the disease. Their immune response is just not adequate to do so in some cases. Nothing in the body will work right when that body exists on a diet of empty calories with inadequate nutrients present for repair and maintenance of the human body. This is about the most compelling evidence that is easy for an average person to understand that I found in my research. If overweight and obesity can keep an immunization from working, then we know that it is messing up our immunity. 

We truly are what we eat. Make it healthy.

 

(1) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22429824/

 

 

Re-Evaluating Healthy Living Yet?

With each passing day over the last couple of weeks, life has become more surreal than I have ever experienced in my almost 57 years. I have never seen empty store shelves the likes of which are happening around the world. I have never witnessed a level of fear over a virus such that has occurred with COVID-19. In China, where the virus originated, the average age of individuals who have died as a result of COVID-19 has been 56,  62% of which were men. Around half of those treated had underlying medical conditions, most commonly diabetes and high blood pressure. In America, an estimated 60 percent of all Americans have at least one chronic health condition, and 40 percent have more than one. Heart disease, cancer, and diabetes can exacerbate a Corona virus infection. Studies have shown these conditions, which are largely a self imposed result of unhealthy living, increase the odds of severe disease and death. If you have been the type who proclaims “I do not do healthy”, have you considered re-evaluating how you live your life as you pass all the empty shelves in your grocery store? Have you even consider how your unhealthy habits leave you more susceptible to dying from COVID-19?
Let’s be real and consider that COVID-19 is not the first pandemic, nor will it be the last that afflicts people around the world. We will get through this one way or the other. But going forward, if you have maintained a sedentary lifestyle and lived on unhealthy foods, are you going to take personal responsibility for your own health? Or, are you going to continue with your ways and demand that others fix your problems for you? Are you going to be proactive with your life? Or will you continue to be reactive only? Will you accept that your sedentary behaviors and dietary intake are independently associated with your risk of obesity and all that comes with it?

It is no dark government secret that an unhealthy diet and physical inactivity are among the key modifiable risk factors for non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Although such diseases often only appear in adulthood, these behaviors are typically initiated or reinforced already during childhood and adolescence. With the rise in childhood obesity rates, it is no longer uncommon to see children who have these maladies that we used to only see in the old and infirm. There is a growing tendency for our children to consume unbalanced diets with high intake of simple carbohydrates, oily foods, and consumption of sugar dense processed foods and drinks. Is it any wonder that our health industry can become overwhelmed without the addition of COVID-19 to add to their already heavy burden?

COVID-19 might take your life, you also might get run over a truck tomorrow. We just do not know what life has in store for us, but we can do all that is possible to live the healthiest lives we can. Sedentary lifestyles with unhealthy diets increase all causes of mortality, double the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity, and increase the risks of colon cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, lipid disorders, depression and anxiety. According to WHO, 60 to 85% of people in the world—from both developed and developing countries—lead sedentary lifestyles, making it one of the more serious yet insufficiently addressed public health problems of our time. It is estimated that nearly two-thirds of children are also insufficiently active, with serious implications for their future health.

As bad as COVID-19 might be, there are far many other concerns in life you had better start taking just as seriously.

Start living a healthy life today!

10 Ways To Stay Focused During Stressful Times

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Temporary First-Aid

Until I adopted a lifestyle of wellness, I allowed stress to derail my health and fitness incentive. I would be chugging away towards extreme wellness and there would be a blip on the radar and I would slowly but surely go off the tracks and lose all the ground that I had fought for and won in the battle of the bulge. The key to the problem was that I was viewing the battle as temporary, something that I had to get done. My good behaviors that I adapted to struggle along towards my goals were forced, against the grain, and any additional stress would cause me to ditch these good behaviors. As long as I viewed these new habits as temporary actions to accomplish a specific thing, it was easy to let them go when the normal stresses of everyday living turned the heat up on my efforts. If a truly serious event occurred, I would not only lose the newly won ground, I would backtrack and add extra pounds as I stress ate my way into unconsciousness every night and shunned workouts because it was “just too much”.

New Life

The last two years  have presented unique challenges as I have created my life anew. I escaped a psychologically abusive environment the night that my home was destroyed by tornadoes. After 24 years of raising my special needs son, including 14 years of home schooling and then getting him through college, I was pretty burnt out. I reinstated my nursing license and began working a 12 hour shift in a nursing home that was not exactly an ideal place to work. The residents care was good but the working conditions for the employees could have been better and I was working from 7PM until 7AM. During this time, I was getting acquainted with “The Iron”. I had plenty of reasons to skip workouts or stress eat but instead, I made the decision to press into hard things to create the life that I wanted. At 61, I could not afford to let this opportunity for a great life get away from me. My window of opportunity for learning new job skills and getting really good at a job was getting dangerously close to closing. I had to decide if I wanted to do what seemed easier and live in Hell or do the hard thing and reap the life that I knew that I could have. I chose to do the hard thing. Today, I have peace in my home and a good job. I finally know what it’s like to look forward to going home. The reason that I have been able to find this peace is that I chose to stay focused on my goals.

Time Will Pass Either Way

A key to my success has been to realize that time will pass regardless of whether I am building towards my goals or destroying them. By choosing to focus on a positive outcome, day in and day out, I am seeing an increase in strength, definition and overall confidence. When stressful events occur, I don’t have that feeling of instability that trying times can bring. I already know what I am going to do. I am going to lift weights, eat well, track my food and get as much rest as I can work into my tight schedule. A rogue virus doesn’t change that. I have put some weights into my car so if I get quarantined somewhere, I have some Iron to work with. I am carrying extra protein and regardless of where I find myself, I will be doing the same things that I do now. My goals and focus will not change.

Simple Steps

There’s a method to my madness that anyone can learn. It’s not easy but it’s easier than being manipulated by circumstances and losing your health or living in a terrible situation. Unless you take care of yourself, you will suffer. Nobody else can do this for you. It’s a personal choice.

1-Decide what you want. Do you want to be healthy? Do you want to have a good fat to muscle ratio? Do you like your living situation now? Be truthful with yourself. Pretense and posturing are not your friend. Time is running out. Your health is at stake.

2-Analyze your habits and motives. Are they in line with your goals? If not, change them.

3-Decide what changes you need to make to achieve your goals. At my darkest hour, I realized that I had to make drastic, scary changes if I was to ever have the life that I wanted.

4-Make plans. You will need immediate plans that work into long range plans. Begin to live with purpose and don’t waste time complaining and feeling sorry for yourself.

5-Commit to HARD work. Great things are hard fought and won. If you want a mediocre life then you will exert mediocre effort. If you want a spectacular life, you will have to exert spectacular effort. You will have to make spectacular leaps of faith and sacrifices. Awesome does not come easy.

6-Work it…and keep working it. I had to get over wanting ANYTHING to ever be easy. It won’t be. A diamond is made under great pressure, otherwise it will remain a lump of coal. Coal is fine if that’s what you like, but I like shiny things.

7-Take care of yourself. Learn to say “No.” to other people’s ideas, demands, opinions and manipulation. If someone can upset you with a text, don’t read it. Plan your work and work your plan and let the rest of the world pass by. Focus on your health and well-being and anything that has a negative impact on that must fall away. If there is a stressful element that you cannot escape, learn to make it work for, not against, you.

8-Glory in your victories. Be proud of your success and finesse your lifestyle to create more of the same.

9-Enjoy your off days. Yes, you should have days off of everything except eating well. Good nutrition should just be a part of who you are.

10- Do it all again.

That’s focus.

 

 

No Hill For a Climber, March Progress

Today is March 18,  seventy two days have passed since Loraine’s double mastectomy and she still has not healed enough to begin her radiation treatments. She had been healing just fine until a staph infection reared its ugly head and her radiation treatments had to be put on hold. After a course of strong antibiotics and weekly visits to a wound care specialist, we find ourselves now facing yet another infection. This one came as much or more of surprise than the first one had. Each week her open wound has been checked by the wound care specialist. He would cut out dead fatty tissue along with a tissue called fibrin. Fibrin is a corrupt matrix of cells which must be removed in order to facilitate healthy healing of a wound. Thankfully, Loraine has started her daily hormone treatments despite the delay in her radiation treatments which we had been hoping would begin in the next couple weeks. Now, we await lab reports so that she can begin another round of antibiotics. Oh the joy…

The last half dozen months have been such a learning experience for Loraine and I both. There is so much information that comes with a breast cancer diagnosis that it is extremely difficult for every topic to be covered, and for you to actually be able to absorb it all. It will make your mind spin round and round. It is our sincerest hope that by my writing about our shared experience as a man and wife, that we can help others in their difficult journey too. One thing which we never knew about before hand is it is not uncommon after a bilateral mastectomy for a woman to suffer pain in her sternum. When you ask about pain after breast cancer, you might get a vague answer, Loraine has. For some  women, sternum pain is a normal part of recovery.  This is true for many women, but not for all. For those experiencing sternum pain after breast cancer, Costocondritis may be to blame.

What is Costocondritis? 

Costocondritis is inflammation of the cartilage that joins the ribs to the breastbone. Also known as anterior chest wall pain, Costocondritis causes discomfort in the chest wall around the breastbone (or sternum) and sometimes is severe. Loraine experiences pain ranging from mild to severe. The pain wakes her from sleep quite often.

Costochondritis is a common problem in women who have been affected by breast cancer and acts up in a similar way to arthritis. The pain may be mild to severe with tenderness over the anterior chest and may radiate to the back, shoulders, stomach or arms. Pain is often aggravated with coughing, lifting, straining, sneezing and deep breathing. Flare ups can be triggered by over-working your arms, lifting, sweeping, or over extending. Pain can be constant or intermittent and can last for several days to multiple months or years.

We never heard about Costochondritis anytime before her surgery, and Loraine has not yet been diagnosed with it. Her pain could also be simply from all the manipulation of pectoral muscle tissues being pulled and stretched during surgery. We hope and pray her pain is resolved soon, my poor wife has been through so much already…

Sleep Apnea

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Not a Good Night

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder in which breathing stops and starts. Loud snoring and daytime tiredness are signs that you may have sleep apnea. There are different types.

Different Causes

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax. Since they support the soft palate, uvula, tonsils and sides of your throat and tongue, when they relax, these tissues tend to push inward and occlude the airway. Excess weight increases the risk for sleep apnea. When fat deposits around the upper airway, breathing can be obstructed. A large neck measurement may mean that you are more inclined to have sleep apnea due to this fat hidden around the upper airway. Occasionally a narrow airway is inherited and sometimes swollen tonsils or adenoids can block the airway. Children are particularly prone to obstruction due to swollen tonsils and adenoids. Men are more likely than women to have obstructive sleep apnea but women’s risk rises if they become overweight. Aging also raises the likelihood of having this type of sleep apnea. Alcohol, tranquilizers and other sedating drugs also increase the risk due to the relaxation of the muscles in the throat. Smoking increases your risk three times greater than that for someone who has never smoked due to the inflammation that is caused by smoking. If you have nasal congestion you are also more prone to have obstructive sleep apnea.

Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain simply does not send the proper signals to breath.

It is also possible to have a combination of both of these types of sleep apnea which is called complex sleep apnea.

Symptoms

The symptoms of these different types tend to overlap. In order to know what type you have, it’s necessary to see your doctor for testing. Some of the symptoms of sleep apnea are loud snoring, episodes of stopping breathing, gasping during sleep, awakening with a dry mouth, morning headache, difficulty staying asleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, attention problems and irritability.

Complications

High blood pressure and heart problems can be caused by sudden drops in blood oxygen levels brought on by sleep apnea. Stroke and atrial fibrillation can also be associated with this disorder. If you have heart disease, this disorder can lead to sudden death from irregular heartbeat. (1) Sleep apnea also raises your risk for Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and complications with medications and surgery. Strangely enough, your sleep apnea can also affect the health of your partner who sleeps with you becsuse your loud snoring may prevent them from getting adequate sleep. I have known more than one person who slept with a snorer and went without sleep until they developed serious health problems of their own.

Incentive to Lose the Fat!

The list of health problems caused by overweight and obesity is almost endless. Some of those disorders are more serious than others. This particular one is deadly. While central sleep apnea is not weight related, obstructive and complex sleep apnea are usually related to the amount of fat on your body. This is just one more reason to create a new, healthy lifestyle that is based on good health with a good body fat percentage. Always consult your medical doctor before beginning any weight loss program. With his permission, you can go to our Calorie Counter Pro and discover how many calories you need to eat to lose 1 or 2 pounds per week. We always suggest shooting for 1 pound per week. It’s easier and healthier to lose slowly and you are more likely to stick with your program. Losing slowly enables you to create a new lifestyle rather than just trying to “get it over with”. You won’t “get it over with”. These new behaviors should become a part of your daily habits and help you finally master the balance that creates a healthy lifestyle.

Extra Issues

See your doctor today if you think that you may have this deadly disorder. Poor sleep quality has the ability to affect every area of our lives in a negative way. Our job performance is impacted. Our relationships can suffer. Driving skills are impaired and academic pursuits can be difficult without a good night’s sleep. When we deceive ourselves that we are “getting away with” the excess fat that can contribute to obstructive or complex sleep apnea, we are setting ourselves up for destruction. Rationalization will not change reality. What we say we believe to be true does not change the truth. As my Grandmother often said, “The Truth will stand when the world’s on fire.” Embrace reality and start getting healthy today.

(1) https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sleep-apnea/symptoms-causes/syc-20377631