Category: Health

Have What You Want

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Do you like the life that you have created? Most people do not. Most people, an estimated 57% (1), are not satisfied with their lives. It’s simply a matter of choice.

True, there are circumstances that can befall us that can drastically affect our happiness. Sickness of yourself and others, natural disasters, a difficult start in life,”bad” genetics for mental illness and abusive people in our environment can seem to destroy our level of happiness, but I know people who deal with all of these things successfully and are still able to live an extraordinary life. That’s the difference. They deal with it in the best way possible.

If you want an extraordinary life, you must make extraordinary decisions. How often do you try to just hit the”average” mark? If your goal is to be “average”, you will never be extraordinary or have an excellent life. You will have an average life and average is not happy, successful or fulfilled. Average is mediocre. Always make the decision that will move you towards your ultimate goals. Everything else is irrelevant. If you need more money and you get an opportunity to go to a better job, do it. Don’t lag behind out of misplaced loyalty, sentimentality or, worst of all, insecurity. Learn everything that you can about the new job. Focus on focusing on just that and go for it. How much better will your life be with more cash and better working conditions. Never make decisions based on insecurity. Always make decisions based on your ultimate goal.

If you want to be healthy and fit then make the decisions that will get you there. That momentary craving for sugar-laden trash food will pass if you avoid it long enough. It will take a while but if you keep your focus on your ultimate goal instead of your momentary craving, I promise you that the craving will pass. After a while, you will not crave sugar. Make an extraordinary decision to be healthy and then follow through with the actions that are necessary to accomplish that task. Imagine the day that you slip into your “skinny jeans” or go shopping for a swimsuit. Imagine the day that your doctor takes you off of some of your medications. Nothing tastes that good.

There is a common fallacy that some people are “lucky” or “Blessed” or just have “good genetics”. Let me tell you, no matter how “Blessed” that you are or how good your gene pool, unless you do your part, your life will be mediocre, and so will your health. There is no such thing as “lucky”. That’s just ridiculous. Everything that you have ever seen in the lives of others that you would like to emulate came from hard work. It might not have been that person’s hard work in the case of inherited wealth, but it was the result of somebody’s hard work. Amazing lives full of success don’t just materialize. They are wrought with blood, sweat and tears and tons of very hard work. The interesting thing is that no matter how hard the work, the victory is still sweet. I can testify to this.

Two years ago my life was literally turned upside down by a night of tornadoes that destroyed my home with my family in it. While we survived physically, it brought about major changes. I am happier than I have ever been. I work hard and have little time off but when I do, it’s sweet. I am faced with autism, sickness in the family and personal challenges that I face down every day. I win every single day. I fight for it. I make good choices. I eat well and work out hard. I do not tolerate abuse by anyone, family or otherwise. I will not be bullied. I made that decision the night of those tornadoes and changed everything in my life. It was well worth the battle. When I am at home now, I have peace. Life is good.

I challenge you to think big. Don’t limit yourself. When you decide what you want out of life then start making small daily choices that move you in that direction. Find someone who is living the life that you want and emulate them. Shun negative input. If anyone tells you that “You can’t do that!”, show them that you can. Don’t goof off. Make your time count for something. We spend way too much time avoiding the unpleasant tasks that are necessary for success. David and I have a running joke about procrastination at the barbell. When I first started lifting, I would sit and stare at that bar for long periods of time, dreading the weight pressing on me in the squat. It felt like it would surely crush me. As time passed, I learned that not only should I run out to meet that squat, I should just let it drop me to the floor. Quit fighting the inevitable crush of the weight on my body, just fall. Then all I had to do was get up. Sometimes we try so hard to avoid discomfort that we don’t get anything done. Wade in to whatever is crushing you, drop, get it done. Then stand up.

When I began my new life, walking away from a more financially secure situation, people thought that I was crazy. When I began lifting heavy they thought that I was crazier. Now, however, I’m much happier than they are and they call me if they need someone physically strong. Transformation doesn’t happen quickly but if you stay your course, it will happen. In creating the life that you want, you have to try new things. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard the phrase, “The Secret to Success”. That’s absurd. There is no secret. You create success by the choices that you make every moment of every day.

Take care of your health. Good health enables you to enjoy the fruits of your labors. Spend your time in worthwhile, creative endeavors. Most people spend way too much time being entertained and then wonder why the bank account is low and the scale is their sworn enemy. Again, work hard. Make money, work out, mind your nutrition. If you spend your time on these worth while projects, your bank account and your body will show the results. I have had more than one doctor who was younger than me say, “I wish my lab results looked like that.” I work at it. It didn’t just happen.

In order to move up higher, you have to step up. That can mean leaving the common and ordinary behind. Do you want a common or ordinary life? Probably not. Let go of the ropes and take a step up. Become responsible for your life, your present and your future. Stepping up also means stepping away from the familiar. Has the familiar served you well? The familiar is to stuff your face with unhealthy food and collapse into a sugar coma on the couch until it’s time to drag your lethargic carcass to bed. This lifestyle will destroy your health and ultimately your life. The costs of medical care are staggering. Get and stay healthy and save yourself a ton of money and live to enjoy it.

I have also heard the phrase, “Plan to succeed.” While the idea is good, all the planning and discussing in the world won’t do it. You do it. As Nike says, “Just Do It.” When I worked for a major weight loss company, I saw members come in and buy all the books, the kitchen gadgets, the snacks and even the wine glasses and come in a few weeks later and complain, “This just isn’t working for me. I don’t understand. I bought EVERYTHING!” True, they did. Their plan was good and it stopped there. They didn’t work it. It’s up to you. Will you work it? Decide, in favor of your health, today.

7 Ways To Avoid Mediocrity

 

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Fat Shaming by Jillian Michaels

First and foremost, I am going to say that I flat out despise bullying behavior out of anyone. I believe that everyone, without exception, needs to be treated with kindness and respect until they prove to deserve otherwise. I will not allow mean spirited people within my inner circle of friends under any circumstance. That being said, I have read with interest the fire storm that has swept over the all round fitness guru, Jillian Michaels over her statements in regards to the issue of political correctness harming people who are over weight.

What did Jillian Michaels say that people found to be so wrong and mean spirited?

In a new interview with Women’s Health U.K. the former “Biggest Loser” trainer opens up about why she thinks political correctness is doing more harm than good in the wellness community.

“I think we’re politically correct to the point of endangering people,” Michaels said in the magazine’s January/February issue. “Yes, we want to be inclusive of everyone (and respect that) everyone comes in all different shapes and sizes. That nobody should ever be body shamed or fat shamed or excluded and that everyone is equally deserving and should feel equally valuable.”

But Michaels added that she believes that people’s sensitivity on the subject is detrimental to the overall health of some individuals.

“Obesity in itself is not something that should be glamorized,” she said. “But we’ve become so politically correct that no one wants to say it.”

When WH asked the 45-year-old why she thinks that shows in the same vein as The Biggest Loser (quick re-cap: the US show ran from 2004-2016, and was hooked around contestants competitively trying to lose weight) have been moved away from, she said:

‘I think the world has shifted to a place where that format and messaging is considered fat shaming. But it isn’t, and it’s not meant to be. Now we’ve gone so far in the opposite direction. (1)

So, where is Ms. Michaels wrong?

I do not know much about Jillian Michaels, I am neither a fan or against her as I have not been one to follow her. Who know’s, maybe she is too blunt for some.

But, what I want to know is exactly how she is wrong in her analysis. While I full well understand that truth can often be painful to some, it does not mean that it is wrong or should not be said. If you were to visit your physician and you had a serious health issue, would you want them to be truthful with you, or would you rather they sugar coat their diagnosis in order to spare your feelings. Well, obesity is a serious health issue that is becoming more of a societal issue each and every day for not only adults, but our children are suffering from this malady too.

Ms. Michaels believes political correctness is doing more harm than good in the wellness community. I have to say that I fully agree with her. She believes in being inclusive of all individuals, regardless of their different shapes and sizes. But, she is 100% correct in that people’s sensitivities to the subject is detrimental to the health of some individuals.

Again, where is she wrong?

Unless you are a child who does not yet understand the issues and ailments that arise from being over weight or obese, no one can say they are not aware of what this problem does to their health in both the short and long term. Before I get accused of being insensitive too, here at David’s Way, Brenda Sue and myself have dedicated countless hours bringing you quality articles and recipes to help you to lose or manage your weight in a healthy manner.  We have never, and will never charge you a penny for this.

I get what it means to have a weight problem, I have had one myself in years past. Brenda Sue gets the issue from personal experience too. We have written extensively here on the website about the health issues which come as a result of being overweight and obese. In a nutshell, here is a list of preventable, yet serious ailments that are all related to poor dietary habits:

Heart disease and stroke.

High blood pressure.

Diabetes.

Cancer.

Gallbladder disease and gallstones.

Osteoarthritis.

Gout.

Breathing problems, such as sleep apnea (when a person stops breathing for a short time during sleep) and asthma.

Obesity is not just a cosmetic problem. It’s a health hazard. Someone who is 40% overweight is twice as likely to die prematurely as is an average-weight person.

If you are an adult, you might believe that your weight problem is no one’s business but your own. You are wrong, as at some point in your life when your health begins to fail, you can very easily become a burden on those in your family who will have to care for you.

It s never about just you. This problem is also about our children who are the future of our respective nations. When we as adults have obesity problems, our children will often follow our lead with weight issues of their own.

From Mayo Clinic

Childhood obesity is particularly troubling because the extra pounds often start children on the path to health problems that were once considered adult problems — diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Many obese children become obese adults, especially if one or both parents are obese. Childhood obesity can also lead to poor self-esteem and depression.

One of the best strategies to reduce childhood obesity is to improve the eating and exercise habits of your entire family.

Treating and preventing childhood obesity helps protect your child’s health now and in the future.

No one deserves to be fat shamed. No one deserves to be picked on, bullied and belittled. However, if we are to get the epidemic of obesity under control, it is going to require an honest reflection of how we live our lives as a society. Do we want to thrive in good health for many years, or do we want to doom ourselves to a lifetime of misery from preventable ailments that come from the instant gratification we derive from poor food choices such as foods that are heavily laden with added simple sugars, unhealthy fats, high amounts of sodium and preservatives we cannot even pronounce?

If as a society, we give in to those who get upset when another gets real about the obesity problem we have been facing for a few decades now, how is this a help to anyone?

If we are not to allowed to be open and honest about this issue which brings serious health complications, just how are we to explain to future generations they never had to suffer if we had just been more disciplined in our own personal nutritional habits?

How can we tell our children we care about them while not being open to having an honest dialogue to fix this rather than just accepting that obesity is not within our own control if we make the choice to control it.

Where is Jillian Michaels wrong?

(1) https://www.womenshealthmag.com/uk/fitness/fat-loss/a30105892/jillian-michaels-cover-star/

Eat to Live

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Whether you are a caregiver to a senior citizen or you are living your golden years yourself, you need to be aware of the changing nutritional needs of our bodies as we age.

While we may need fewer calories, we need better, more nutrient dense foods. We still need the same amount of protein, vitamins and minerals. In special circumstances, we may need more. The skin doesn’t process sunlight as well as it did in past years to provide us with adequate vitamin D. Since vitamin D helps us absorb calcium, when our vitamin D levels are low, we will also be low on calcium. Calcium is then leached from the bones to provide us with the calcium that we need for other functions and bones become brittle. Neuromuscular dysfunction can also set in and falls can be eminent. Falls cause 11,000 deaths per year. It is possible that senior citizens may need vitamin D supplementation. (1) See your M.D. to determine if supplementation is necessary. Fatty fish, vitamin D fortified foods such as milk, some orange juice and some cereals, beef liver, cheese and egg yolks are dietary sources of this necessary vitamin.

Vitamin B-12 is supplied by the process of the stomach acid breaking B-12 down in our stomachs. After age 50, the stomach acid may be decreased and we may be deficient in B-12. B-12 helps keep our nerve and blood cells healthy and helps to synthesize DNA. It helps prevent megaloblastic anemia that causes exhaustion. Supplementation may be necessary. Your physician can make this determination. Good food sources are clams, beef liver, fortified yeast, wild rainbow trout and cooked sockeye salmon and fortified cereals. Synthetic supplemental vitamin B-12 and foods fortified with synthetic vitamin B-12 contain B-12 in a free form that doesn’t have to be broken down in the stomach like the B-12 in foods.

I am a heavy weight trainer. My first objective is strength and health and then I go after the look. I have discovered that I have to make every calorie count. There is no room in my diet for empty calories. I need a lot of protein and a significant number of calories each day. I limit my carbohydrates but absolutely do not advocate keto. In order to get the total package of strength, health and a lean, muscular physique, I have to seek out nutrient dense foods. Although I eat significant calories, I do control my calories. I count every single one. I “spend” those calories wisely, packing as much protein and fiber into each meal as I possibly can. The result is that I’m rarely hungry and in less than two years I have more than quadrupled my deadlift. As we age there is less wiggle room in our diet. If we are serious about fitness, we must eat like it. Decide what kind of life you want and make it happen. Most of your future will be decided by how you eat. If you remain strong, healthy and vital there is no limit to what you can do. If your health fails due to poor nutrition, your life will be centered around sickness and your activities will be limited.

Most adults over 50 need a little extra fiber to maintain bowel health. Fiber also helps prevent Type 2 diabetes and lowers your risk for heart disease. Whole-grain breads and cereals, beans, peas and fruits and veggies can supply all of your fiber needs.

Avoid transfats and eat saturated fat sparingly to help avoid heart disease. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats from nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil and fatty fish are your best choices for healthy fats. There is evidence that fatty fish will improve brain health which can possibly combat the onset of various brain disorders that are more common in senior citizens.

Carbohydrates are an excellent fuel source for our brain as long as they are complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates tend to have a negative effect on our brains. High intake of simple carbohydrates have been linked to mental decline in seniors.

Along with a healthy diet, exercise is critical for maintaining a healthy mind and body as we age. Consult your M.D. for a program that is suited to your needs. A good exercise regimen coupled with a healthy diet can extend your years and give you quality of life in those years. The decision is yours to make. Do you want to become dependent on others or do you want to remain independent and able to enjoy life to it’s fullest? Sometimes it takes a lifetime to work into doing the things that we’ve always wanted to do. At 62 I went ziplining for the first time. I had wanted to do that for years. Since I eat David’s Way and work out, it was a wonderful experience to finally create that moment in time to fly through the air, jumping off of a tower 200 feet into thin air.

Get healthy and truly live until you die. Make a bucket list and start checking things off. Fun is waiting.

https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/features/nutritional-needs-change-as-you-age

Keeping Focused on Your Focus

If there is one thing that will derail you from your health and fitness initiative, it is a loss of focus.

In the midst of the holiday season, we get bombarded with an abundance of sweet treats on sale every time we enter our local grocery store. The beck and call of cakes and pies on sale make it easy for us to lose our focus on maintaining a healthy diet.

After all, what beats enjoying a tray full of dessert items with family and friends over a steaming mug of hot cocoa on a cold winter’s night?

When you are carb addicted, the temptations can be overwhelming. Everywhere you look, there are items on display that have been surely set as a deadly trap to sabotage your efforts at losing or maintaining a healthy body fat percentage.

Who can resist a three day sale on muffins at such a low price?

Who among us actually believes this sale price will not once again be there next week too?

We might do really good throughout the year in making healthy food choices for ourselves, but during the holidays, our brains can, and often do, become saturated with the idea that we can let loose and live for a day. Grandma is going to have her delicate feelings hurt if you do not rave over how good her homemade fudge is. God, we can’t hurt Grandma’s feelings can we? It is a special occasion and only one day, right?

RIGHT?

Of course, if we are a kind and decent human being, we do not want to hurt the feelings of our Grandma’s, or anyone else for that matter.  But here in lies a problem.  People can get their panties all in a twist over being together to enjoy huge fattening meals as if holidays only happen once per year. If you fell into the trap of letting your focus shift away from your own health initiative every time there is cause for a family and friends holiday get together, you might as well throw in the towel altogether as we have:

Valentines day in February

Ramadan in April

Memorial Weekend in May

Independence Day in July

Labor Day in September

Thanksgiving in November

Christmas,  Hanukkah   and New Years Eve in December

I apologize if I forgot to mention any other holidays that may be important to you.

But on top of these, lets also remember all the birthdays and anniversaries that occur during the year too. There is far too much going on during the year for you to lose your focus on healthy nutrition if you intend to succeed at your losing and maintaining a healthy weight. If you are serious about your weight management, you have to keep focused on your goals. You cannot let the feelings of others derail you every time there is cause for a family get together.

Of course if we want to achieve and then maintain a healthy body fat percentage, we must also not lose our focus when it comes to our physical fitness activities. Whether we are alone on a run in the neighborhood, lifting weights in our garage, or partaking in the and other activities in a commercial gym, we must keep our focus to keep up our drive to succeed injury free.

With physical fitness activities, it can become easy to lose our focus for a multitude of reasons. If we are being honest, some of what we do to keep our bodies in top physical condition is not always fun. It can be hard work, especially when we are into heavy weight training.

When we are not having fun, it becomes easy to get distracted by our phones and electronic devices, the music playing in the gym along with the antics of those in our presence. And when we get distracted it becomes easier and easier to dial back on our efforts in the gym. When we begin looking for an easier way, we are setting ourselves up for failure.

For anyone who might be a seasoned athlete, the following might make you think “Well duh” For the fitness newbies, here are a few tips to remember when it comes to having a meaningful workout regimen:

  • No matter what activity you partake in, set realistic, long term goals for you to achieve. Then devise a plan to achieve your long term goal by way of first planning a series of smaller short term goals in order to get you there. You should write this plan down in a personal log in order to track your journey. Or, you might find an appropriate app online to download on your phone in order to track your progress. For instance, there are many apps available for many popular weight training programs. There is an excellent one called Couch To 5K for newbies to running. These apps can and will guide your way while giving a record of your progress to periodically look back on. It is easier to stay on your path to where you are going when you remember where you have been.
  • Weight training requires constant focus. A lack of focus will not only kill progression, it can and will hurt you in several ways. Every time you get under a barbell, you must focus on your form in order to not injure yourself through faulty lifting techniques. You also want to keep a focus on your surroundings and the equipment you are utilizing. While weight training is one of the best forms of exercise we can do, it can be inherently dangerous with a lack of focus. For example, Brenda Sue had a terrifying experience for both herself and me. I have trained her in weight training for almost two years now via online video. She films her lifting which she sends to me for my critique. This arrangement works quite well, as I can also communicate with her in real time by phone as she lifts. (we live 800 miles apart) Recently, as Brenda Sue was bench pressing, a life threatening event occurred as a result of distraction. She had forgot to set the safety pins in her squat cage to the proper height to protect her. This strong lady was benching a heavy weight for her, and experienced muscle failure during her last rep. The loaded barbell came down onto her neck and about strangled her simply because she had forgot to set her safety pins to the right height. Imagine her fear of having the barbell snuffing out her life through strangulation, and my horror as I could hear her struggle over the phone as I had been  coaching her through this heavy lift. Of course she thankfully got out of from underneath the barbell as she is still with us. But a lack of focus almost caused her her precious life.
  • No physical fitness routine is as simple as you might think. There will always be things you learn about that right now you do not know that you do not know. If you want to begin running, you want to focus not only on your surroundings, but also you will want to maintain a focus on your heart rate, your breathing and stride. You will need to pay attention to how well you are hydrated on cold days as well as on hot days. You will want to focus on wearing appropriate clothing and footwear which should be replaced fairly often if you are putting down the miles. If you try swimming as a newbie, you will need to learn to pay attention to your breathing, stroke, kicking and your lane placement. All of this requires constant attention and focus in order for you to not drown.

At the end of the day, we know and understand that our health initiative requires constant attention and focus in order to be successful in our weight loss, and or management endeavors.

We know that in order to lose weight to a healthy body fat percentage, we have to focus on good clean nutrition all of the time. It is not impossible as some believe…

We have to remain focused no matter what is going on in our lives, especially when you may be experiencing personal tragedy. When tragedy or illness is unfolding before our very eyes, we must focus on taking care of ourselves too. If we do not take care of our own physical needs, we will not be able to care for those most important to us.

We know that if we want to succeed in physical fitness activities for very long, we must focus on the fine details of the sport we have chosen for ourselves. We must do this to prevent injury and in order to keep progressing.

What many lose sight of is the far most important part of the full equation, our “Why”.

Why did we decide to lose weight?

Why do we want or need to be healthy?

Why does our health and well being matter?

In all that you do in your journey to health and fitness, never lose your focus on your “Why”. Once you have lost this focus, all else becomes a moot point and you will return from whence you came. If you were out of shape and obese, you will tuck your tail and shamefully return there when you lose the focus on your “Why”, We see this every day.

It is easy to lose sight of why we have an initiative for good health during the holiday seasons. But if you use the holidays and other special occasions as an excuse, you will never succeed. These events happen through out the entire year.

Keep your focus on your focus!

Succeed and be well.

 

Deceptive “Healthy” Foods

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On a recent trip to a major grocery chain I was taken aback by the massive amounts of sugar laden trash food laying in wait for the unsuspecting shopper. From the moment that I walked under those massive, roaring fans at the entrance until the time I escaped the sugary onslaught, walking under those fans to exit this minefield, my senses were bombarded with “visions of sugarplums”. Promises of recreating the magic of a childhood Christmas hovered around each toxic offering, laden with artificial colorings and extra coarse sugar sprinkled on top. Is there any wonder that depression and exhaustion are at an all-time high during this holiday season?

The absurdity of the irony involved in this yearly ritual of stuffing ourselves with sugar became crystal clear. While all of these beautifully crafted foods promote a season of Peace, the contribution to ill health that these foods make is anything except Peaceful. When will Americans wake up to the wiles of the food industry?

Surviving this season with your health initiative intact doesn’t take willpower. That is a common fallacy. It takes a decision to do everything within your power to be healthy. It takes an commitment to yourself. Once that decision is made and you have committed to be the best that you can be, the difficulty of “eating right” is removed. There is no struggle. You simply choose wisely every time that you eat.

A problem for some, however, is the marketing that is designed to deceive you. There are many foods that are promoted and packaged as “healthy” that are anything except good for you.

Most yogurt is a good example of deceptive marketing. Full-fat, plain Greek yogurt has no added sugars. There is 7 grams of naturally occurring milk sugar in this yogurt. That is not a problem. With 23 grams of protein per cup, the 7 grams of naturally occurring sugar is insignificant. When you compare this healthy option to a mere 6 ounces of Yoplait Original Strawberry Yogurt with only 6 grams of protein and 19 grams of sugar, most of which are added cane sugar, you have a good example of the concept, “Things are not always  as they seem.” After all, yogurt is marketed as a “healthy” food.

Do you like granola? I remember when it got popular as a “health food”. Most people could not wrap their brains around the fact that there is nothing healthy about otherwise healthy foods that are smothered in sugar and produced in a package with earthy, healthy-looking pictures and warm colors deliberately designed to present a healthy image. While a lot of the ingredients in granola are healthy, the candies and syrups that are added to some granola recipes are not. Choose wisely, or better yet, make your own granola. I just mix nuts, oats and Maple Farms Sugar-free Pancake Syrup and Saigon cinnamon when I want a granola fix. If I want cereal, it’s wonderful with milk. I use soy milk because I eat soy products for the phytoestrogens.

One of the most deceptive food products available is the plethora of protein bars available in almost every convenience store, grocery store and pharmacy. While I do have a One bar occasionally, I steer clear of almost every other protein bar. One bars have one gram of sugar however, the PowerBar ProteinPlus Chocolate Brownie bar has 27 grams of sugar from a variety of sweeteners. A regular size Snickers candy bar only has 26.

Energy drinks are a common source of sugar in many diets. Rockstar Xdurance has 17 teaspoons of sugar which is 69 grams. There is no place in a health conscious diet for anything with that much added sugar, yet the phrase “energy drink” sounds like a healthy option over a carbonated cola. A regular canned Coke has 39 grams. While I don’t advocate drinking carbonated drinks, if I had to choose between those two options, I would choose the Coke. The word “energy” does not change the impact of 69 grams of sugar on your blood sugar and the cascade of biochemical reactions that occur when we pour that much sugar into our body at one time.

Breakfast cereals can be an abomination. Most people mistakenly believe that cereals are a better breakfast option than eggs. Cocoa Krispies have 16 grams of sugar and only 1.3 grams of protein per cup. If you want cereal, I strongly encourage you to eat oats which have 0 grams of added sugars and 5 grams of protein. Eat eggs, they really are a near perfect food.

If you are craving a dessert, please go to the search function on this website and enter the name of what you are craving. You very well may find a sugar-free version of your favorite dessert. Avoid the aisles of sugar filled options in your grocery store. Many of our dessert recipes are made with ingredients that also contain significant protein. Kill two birds with one stone and satisfy your sweet tooth and snatch a protein fix at the same time.

With just a little forethought and planning you can emerge from this Winter feasting season with a slim waistline. Read our articles and get informed. Go to the forum and start a discussion about food and recipes with like-minded people. We always answer questions  and comments that you post or email. Be proactive and enjoy a lifetime of good health.

Missing Small Details in the Big Picture

Sunday morning while out on the road in my semi down in southwestern Kansas, I captured this most amazing sunrise with my phone camera. Later when I was able to get a good look at the picture I had taken, I was very pleasantly surprised to see I had also caught the grain silo’s in my mirror’s reflection. I could not have captured such a perfect picture if I had tried. The silo’s were just a small detail in the larger picture that captured the essence of the beautiful, agricultural state in which I live. Sometimes, it is the fine details, that really tie together everything else that pieces the broader scope of the bigger picture. Thinking about how the small detail in this picture made it complete, it also caused me to reflect on an article I read the other day about how too many people are ignorant in the role that triglycerides play in their over all health.

Okay, I know, understand and accept that I am weird to some for always thinking about health…

It is not uncommon to hear others speak of needing to get their blood pressure under control. People will often speak of having to begin taking statins in order to lower their cholesterol. But, how often do we ever hear anyone speaking of their need to lower their triglycerides? Triglycerides seem to be a small health detail that rarely gets mentioned when people are speaking of their overall health. Yet, triglycerides actually have a pretty huge impact on your health and well being.

What are Triglycerides?

Triglycerides are a type of fat (lipid) found in your blood.

Each and every time you sit down to a meal or a snack, your body converts any calories it doesn’t need to use right away into triglycerides.

This is but one of the many reasons to track how much you consume each day.

Triglycerides are stored in your fat cells.  Your liver cells can synthesize and store triglycerides. When the body requires fatty acids as an energy source, the hormone glucagon signals the breakdown of the triglycerides by hormone-sensitive lipase to release free fatty acids for energy between meals..

If you are overweight, or obese, and regularly eat more calories than you burn, particularly from high-carbohydrate foods, you are quite likely to have high triglycerides (hypertriglyceridemia). With our growing obesity epidemic in western cultures, more and more people are being affected by high triglycerides each day.

What is a normal level of triglycerides?

  • Normal — Less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or less than 1.7 millimoles per liter (mmol/L)
  • Borderline high — 150 to 199 mg/dL (1.8 to 2.2 mmol/L)
  • High — 200 to 499 mg/dL (2.3 to 5.6 mmol)
  • Very high — 500 mg/dL or above (5.7 mmol/L or above) (1)

When you go to your doctor for a physical or check up, they will usually check your blood for high triglycerides as part of a cholesterol test. This blood laboratory testing is usually referred to as a lipid panel or lipid profile.

What is the difference between triglycerides and cholesterol?

While triglycerides and cholesterol are both a type of lipid that circulates in your blood, they are not the same thing. Both play distinctly different roles in what they do for, or to your body and overall health:

Triglycerides store unused calories and provide your body with energy.

Cholesterol is used to build cells and certain hormones.

Triglycerides give me energy, why should I care if they are high?

High triglycerides may contribute to hardening of the arteries or thickening of the artery walls (arteriosclerosis) — which increases the risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease. Extremely high triglycerides can also cause acute inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).

High triglycerides are often a sign of other conditions that increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, including obesity and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that includes too much fat around the waist, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, high blood sugar and abnormal cholesterol levels. (1)

High triglycerides can also be a sign of:

  • Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome — a condition when high blood pressure, obesity and high blood sugar occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease
  • Low levels of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism)
  • Certain rare genetic conditions that affect how your body converts fat to energy.

What can I do about high triglycerides?

First and foremost, commit yourself to a permanent lifestyle of healthy living, and then act upon this personal commitment to yourself.

  • Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates, such as sugar and foods made with white flour or fructose, can and will increase your triglycerides. Going sugar free is easier than you might believe, and with sweeteners such as Erythitol (Swerve), there is no reason to ever use it. Try our dessert recipes on David’s Way. We have a good many dessert and treat recipes that are 100% sugar free that your family and friends are sure to enjoy.
  • Exercise regularly. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most or all days of the week. Surely you can find 30 minutes for yourself, can’t you? Take a break from your Facebook page, get away from the 24/7 news on your television. Get your butt out of bed earlier if needed. Just commit to getting it done. Make regular exercise a high priority in your life as it can lower triglycerides and boost “good” cholesterol. Try to incorporate more physical activity into your daily tasks — for example, climb the stairs at work or take a walk during breaks. Please, be sure to get your doctor’s approval for any exercise regimen you might begin.
  • Lose weight. If you have mild to moderate hypertriglyceridemia, focus on cutting calories. Extra calories are converted to triglycerides and stored as fat. Reducing your calories will reduce triglycerides. You can simply go to our Calorie Counter Pro menu, enter your personal information and weight loss goals and have your caloric needs calculated for you. This information is entirely private and will only be seen by yourself. When you begin eating David’s Way , by eating only whole healthy foods with no added sugar or processed foods, you will find it difficult to actually consume as many calories as you need in a day to just maintain your weight. You have nothing to lose but unhealthy body fat and all that goes with it by trying our methodology. Unlike some of the other weight loss websites and apps, I am not charging you a single penny for this. My pledge to you is my website will always be entirely free to our readers.
  • Choose healthier fats. Trade saturated fat found in meats for healthier fat found in plants, such as olive and canola oils. Instead of red meat, try fish high in omega-3 fatty acids — such as mackerel or salmon. Avoid trans fats or foods with hydrogenated oils or fats.
  • Limit how much alcohol you drink. Alcohol is high in calories and sugar and has a particularly potent effect on triglycerides. If you have severe hypertriglyceridemia, avoid drinking any alcohol.

Your health and well being is reliant on you paying close attention to the small details that tie together for your overall wellness. Living a healthy life at a healthy body fat percentage is a matter of making personal choices to do so, the same as deciding at the beginning of each day that you are going to be happy or not. You can not live a sedentary life where you just snarf down anything and everything you want, and then be surprised when your health goes to hell on you. Too many ailments people are commonly afflicted with are a direct result of their lifestyles and dietary habits. Make a choice to pay attention to the small details!

(1) mayoclinic.org

 

Feeling Weak, It’s Your Diet

Do you often feel weak, your energy levels are in the dumps?

How many cups of coffee do you require in order to get your day started?

After lunch, does your mind wonder around aimlessly? Do you have trouble concentrating? Would you rather not socialize in the evenings?

Have you ever felt faint while exercising vigorously, or get a stitch in your side?

Do you make lame ass excuses about why the hell you feel this way? Maybe it’s because you are too busy or you were born this way…

Let’s consider what is most likely occuring in your body, Feeling tired and fatigued can be the result of a variety of issues, ranging from stress, lack of sleep, or maybe your ass got too drunk last night. It is also possible that you may have a serious condition such as heart disease, depression or anemia. However, the reality is, your diet of sugar laden, highly processed foods may be, or likely is the culprit. Lagging energy levels create a situation that will get you all hemmed up when you are too tired to eat proper foods. Our modern society finds it easier to fill up on cheap and convenient garbage snack foods, which in turn only serve to further contribute to your increasing fatigue. It is a vicious cycle that you can and should break. No matter what your “hangry” mind may tell you, this is not an insurmountable task. Quit making excuses for yourself.

If you are feeling tired and weak most of the time, you need to check how you are fueling your body. You would never intentionally fill your car with bad gas, why would you do this to your body? Your body is a complicated machine that requires quality fuel to operate in a superior manner. A huge mistake that many people make is they will either eat nothing in the morning, or they will have a small breakfast which may or may not be nutritious. Then they will begin craving sweet treats by the middle of the day, and then end up snarfing down anything in sight. Do you recognize this trait in yourself? Do you fuel your body with bad gas sporadically and then wonder why you do not feel good?

In order to operate well, your body needs a steady flow of good nutrition, a healthy mix of protein, fats and complex carbohydrates. Anything less than proper fueling is going to trash your energy levels, especially if you are not in the habit of eating healthy. Our bodies require complex carbohydrates and protein for optimal performance. Our blood sugar levels will begin getting low within four hours after we have last eaten. Therefore frequent small meals are going to be better for you than two or three large meals in order to maintain a constant energy supply. Greek yogurt, a piece of fruit and or a handfull of nuts make for a perfect between meal snack in order to maintain consistent energy levels during the day. Where as cookies, chips and cakes are going to only cause your butt to want to drag when you snack on them instead. I will say again, you need healthy foods in order to keep your energy levels up. When you consume carbs, you want them to be complex carbohydrates from whole grains and starchy vegetables. Whole grain breads, rice, pasta, beans and yams are excellent sources of complex carbs as well as great sources of fiber in order to keep from having your blood stream getting a huge sugar dump. These foods are digested gradually because of their fiber content, which allows you to maintain an even blood sugar level during the day which will provide a constant fuel supply for the body and brain.

When it comes to healthy weight loss, a lack of knowledge is what hurts folks the most. People hang on to the latest trends and fad quick weight loss diets which only serve to cause them fatigue and poor moods. Cutting your calories too far will only cause you to feel drained which can and will interfere with your daly routines such as work, exercising or even just being able to enjoy life. Even if you are just trying to maintain your body weight, it is wise to figure your daily caloric needs based on your basal metabolic rate. And once you know how many calories you need each day, then make it a point to eat every bit of them with a combination of protein, carbs and fats. Yes, fats are required for proper digestion and absorption of key nutrients to fuel your body.

Too many people on diets are running essentially on fumes and will not only lose fat, but they will also lose much needed and valuable lean muscle mass. The problem with this lies in that if or when you put weight back on, even if you return to your previous weight, your body fat percentage will be higher than before your weight loss. The goal should always be a healthy body fat percentage over a random sale number!

When you decide to lose weight, you should only want your body to lose body fat and not muscle. Quit obsessing on the number on your scale and concentrate on your body fat percentage instead. The more lean muscle mass your body maintains, the higher your metabolism will be. This is a simple irrefutable fact. More muscle means more fat burning when you are working towards a healthier body. A higher metabolism also means more energy for enjoying your life. Being physically fit and healthy needs to be your life style and not a temporary diet. Weight management is not something you do for a short period in order to satisfy your mind with a random number you have decided you want to see on your bathroom scale. The approach you want to take is to eat healthy foods with zero refined sugars or anything processed, and then exercise like you mean it. Raise your heart rate! Also, if you are a Weight Watcher, quit adding up Fit Points for cleaning your house and other easy activities you might have been doing before you decided to lose weight. Remember, if that activity did not enable you to lose fat off your waist and thighs before, it is not going to now. Fit Points not truly earned through an elevated heart rate are worthless as you are likely going to eat more calories than you are burning. Get your heart rate elevated on a regular basis through true vigorous exercise, as this will help boost your energy levels while decreasing fatigue related moods such as depression and despondency.

How do we maintain a desirable weight and stay energized? Simply eat regular, cook light, and mix fiber rich complex carbohydrates with your protein. In order to remain better satiated, divide your caloric needs to 45 to 50% protein, 30 to 35% complex carbs and 15 to 25% fats. Remember, liquid saturated fats from olive and coconut oils, avocado’s and nuts are healthy for you to consume. Fats are good for you. Refined sugars and processed foods that are quick and easy are are usually going to be the source of your fat and fatigue problems.

Makeover Your Menus to Lose Weight

 

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The question that I am asked most often is, “What can I eat to lose weight?” When I ask,”What are you eating now?” the answers have something in common. It seems that almost everyone who asks that question is eating a whole lot of simple carbohydrates, including large amounts of added sugars. As I began research for this article, I discovered that, of the mere 60-70%of Americans that eat breakfast, 31% eat cold cereal. (1) Unfortunately, cold pizza is also a recurring theme. I’ve got to tell you, if this is the way that you start your day, you have set yourself up for failure in weight loss. How do I know that? Because I did it for years. At my fattest, about a size 22, I was eating a ton of “healthy foods”, like whole grain cereals.

We need complex carbohydrates, but if we start our day with cereal alone, we feel justified to eat a LOT of it. The nutritional information on the side of the box is for 1 serving which can be as little as 1/2 cup, and occasionally lower. Put that 1/2 cup in your bowl and tell me if you want to run on that until noon. Even at 3/4 cup for Honey Nut Cheerios, which is an insanely popular cereal, how often do you stop with that? These cereals are designed to be so pleasing to the palate that we can’t stop eating them. They have sugar to attract and addict us and various flavor combinations so that everyone can have a favorite. Oh, and let’s not forget CRUNCH! They always have crunch.

Other than the obvious good taste and crunchiness of these morning staples, another serious problem here is that they have little to no protein. That’s one of the reasons that we just keep eating, and eating, and eating… Until our bodies get an adequate supply of protein we will continue to look for it because we will die without it. In 1981 many deaths occurred as a result of people trying to live on a diet of liquid protein alone (2), partially because they were still not getting enough high quality protein.

If you start your day with cereal and then opt for the traditional burger and fries and maybe pasta for dinner, have you tracked your protein? I have done that for a family member and I was terrified when I saw the paltry 35 grams that he was eating. Needless to say, he has significant health problems. He started his day with cold cereal. Two eggs alone pack 12 grams. A cup of milk has 8 grams. Add 3 ounces of ham at 14 grams, or salmon at 22 grams and you have as much, or more, protein at breakfast as he was eating in a day. When you eat a nutritionally balanced meal, you will stop eating sooner and stay more satisfied so that you are less likely to graze on junk food in your environment.

Speaking of junk food in your environment… I have a sure fire strategy for dealing with that, the garbage. Agreeably, during holiday festivities you probably can’t just empty the break room out but if someone tries to sabotage you, immediately carry the offending food to the garbage. They won’t keep wasting their kryptonite on you. I had someone buy a snack food that absolutely no one else in the facility would eat, open the bag and leave it by my computer. It was amazing how fast that went into the garbage, along with the other 4-5 bags that I found opened in various places around my work area. I was entirely justified. I work in the health care industry and an open bag with various hands run down in it throughout the day is just nasty. Be proactive. Take charge of your environment.

Instead of succumbing to the wiles of a saboteur, carry your own snacks. I eat all the time, while others around me go for long periods of time hungry and then usually eat a large meal laden with simple carbs and added sugars. I carry an ounce of nuts, apples, string cheese, full-fat Greek yogurt and an entree most days for an 8 hour shift. One of my favorite snacks is plain, full-fat Greek yogurt with various add-ins. One of my favorite add-ins is an ounce of Planter’s Deluxe Mixed Nuts with Sea Salt and Maple Grove Farms Syrup. It tastes like a Maple Nut Sundae only without the sugar and with at least 20 grams of protein. I eat 1 cup of yogurt at a time. It makes a huge “sundae”.

Considering my entree, I have recently discovered the tuna in a pouch. There is also chicken and salmon and a few other proteins. Oh, my goodness at the convenience and versatility here! This stuff leaves us with no excuse to be caught without portable protein. I can carry a Tablespoon (or two…) of Dukes Mayo, (always sugar free) and my apple and BAM! tuna or chicken salad in a minute. I avoid bread and get my carbs from whole foods, so I microwave a sweet potato and have a meal fit for a Queen. If you don’t like scrubbing potatoes, buy the ones that come pre-cleaned and wrapped, microwave ready. They leave you without excuse to carry a decent meal when coupled with a protein source. A white potato is fine. I eat them sometimes. You can open up that white potato and drizzle some olive oil on it and put your protein in there. It’s a great meal. A sweet potato seems like a decadent luxury though when I add some of the aforementioned syrup and Saigon cinnamon… Carrying your food keeps you from caving to the temptation of the drive-thru menu as you waste your lunch hour waiting in that insufferably long line gazing at milkshakes and other abominations designed to shorten your life.

Dinner, or supper in the South, was my downfall for most of my life. This is the meal where most Southerners pack in the carbohydrates and fried foods. No supper is considered complete in the South without cornbread. While there is lysine in cornmeal, which is a great protein, the carbohydrates make cornbread a bad habit. Especially when it’s coupled with other high carb foods like mashed potatoes, potato salad, sugary baked beans, macaroni and cheese and rice. I know a family who almost never puts an actual vegetable on the table. At supper, or any other “sit-down meal”, the table will be covered with those foods that I just listed along with a protein source and some sugary congealed salad or sugar-laden coleslaw. Sugar has worked it’s way into almost everything. Beware and be aware! I was eating a fabulous coleslaw at work only to discover that it contained sugar. I don’t eat that anymore.

After work, instead of hitting the drive-thru on the pretense that I worked and I shouldn’t have to go home and stand up and cook… I walk straight into my kitchen, put a thawed protein, usually fish, into a hot, oiled, cast iron skillet. I top it with either lemon pepper seasoning or chili lime. While it’s searing, I pop one of those pre-cleaned, wrapped potatoes into the microwave and open a can of green beans. BAM! Supper faster than the long line at the drive-thru with no simple carbs. I get a whole lot more protein this way also. A bag of frozen, wild-caught salmon at Walmart costs about $4/pound and has 2-4 servings, depending on how much  you eat. I eat a lot of protein to build muscle. If you are not a lifter, this is ridiculously cheap compared to the price of fast food. Let’s not even get into the cost of sit-down restaurant food. It’s insane. Even though I eat a whole lot of protein, this is still a fraction of the price of eating out. With my nutritional needs as a strength trainer I would definitely go broke trying to get enough protein in a restaurant.

Women, and some men, tend to burn the candle at both ends and rush around and eat without giving thought to what’s going into our mouths. Stop it. You give thought to other things and other people. Start looking out for yourself. There’s plenty of good healthy food options. Go to your grocery store and look beyond the foods that got you unhealthy. Read labels and when you find a healthy option, buy it. So often I’ve heard women say, “Oh, that’s too expensive!” in a grocery store and stop at the drive-thru on the way home and pay $6 for one hamburger. How about the price of coffee drinks? Don’t lie to yourself about why you don’t buy healthy food. The main reason that we don’t is simply that we want to eat out. It’s your life.You have only one. It’s your decision. Make it a good one.

 

 

(1) https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/PollVault/story?id=762685

(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7275462

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avoid a Stroke!

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What Is A Stroke?

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted or reduced. The lack of oxygen carrying blood causes the death of brain cells in mere minutes. A stroke is a medical emergency and immediate treatment is mandatory. Early treatment may reduce brain damage and increase your chance of survival.

Who Is Vulnerable?

Anyone can have a stroke. Never think that because you are young or at a perfect weight that you are safe from this destroyer.

Symptoms You May Experience

1-Trouble speaking or understanding what others are saying to you.

2-Paralysis or numbness of the face, arm or leg. This often affects only one side of your body.

3-Problems seeing in one or both eyes. You may have reduced vision or you may see double.

4-Headache- A sudden severe headache that may be accompanied by vomiting, dizziness or altered consciousness may indicate you are having a stroke.

5-Trouble walking.

Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any signs or symptoms of a stroke.

If you think someone else is having a stroke remember the acronyme “F.A.S.T” and do this:

F.ace-Ask the person to smile. Does one side if the face droop?

A.rms-Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? Is one arm unable to rise?

S.peech-Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is his speech slurred or strange?

T.ime-If you observe ANY of these signs, call 911 right away.

There are five different types of stroke but the end result of all of them is death of brain cells. Quick medical attention may limit the number of brain cells lost.

Lifestyle Risk Factors

1-Being overweight or obese

2-Physical inactivity

3-Heavy or binge drinking

4-Use of illegal drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine

Here at David’s Way we teach a healthy lifestyle that is designed to alleviate overweight and physical inactivity. We always discourage you from drinking alcohol because of the empty calories and the tendency that it has to lower inhibitions and enable you to binge eat and drink after just a small amount. Illegal drugs are never part of a healthy lifestyle.

Medical Risk Factors

1-High blood pressure

2-Cigarette smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke

3-High cholesterol

4-Diabetes

5-Obstructive sleep apnea

6-Cardiovascular disease

7-Personal or family history of stroke, heart attack or transient ischemic attack

David’s Way is diabetic friendly and since we discourage sodium laden processed foods, it may help you with high blood pressure. Obstructive sleep apnea can be caused by excess tissue, quite often fat, pressing in on your airway. Lose the weight and see if that helps your sleep apnea. Excess weight and inactivity can exacerbate cardiovascular disease and make it worse. If you have a personal history of, or genetic tendency towards, stroke talk to your doctor about weight loss and exercise.

People over age 55 have a higher risk of stroke. Get healthy early in life and practice good health habits for the rest of your life to take the edge off of this risk factor. Men, African Americans and women who use birth control or hormone therapies that contain estrogen are also at greater risk.

In order to decrease your risk of stroke it’s mandatory that you control high blood pressure and lower the amount of saturated fat in your diet. Quit smoking and get your diabetes under control. Some people can eventually come off of diabetic medications, with their doctor’s approval, when they lose weight and become attentive to their diet, while adding in some doctor approved activity. If you have sleep apnea, do whatever you have to do to fix that. Weight loss will help. Your doctor may prescribe a device that delivers positive airway pressure to keep your airway open while you sleep. Your doctor may also prescribe medications that can help with Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

We always encourage you to be proactive concerning your health. Be vigilant in your efforts to decrease your risk of stroke. I recently read about a 38 year old female who was an avid runner who had a devastating stroke. She had always been careful to eat a healthy diet to fuel her running but at a point, she said that she let her nutrition slip, a little. She believed that this decision was crucial to the devastating event that changed her life forever, a stroke. She has made a good recovery and her former high level of fitness is believed to have enabled her to come back much quicker and stronger than most people. The moral of the story here is get healthy and STAY healthy. Don’t give a stroke a chance. Be a fanatic about your health. Don’t let anyone sway you. Make every effort to avoid this life stealing thief in the night.

As a result of trying to be healthy to avoid a stroke, you just might build the healthiest body that you’ve ever lived in, and look good doing it. That, my friends, is a win/win situation.

Low Back and Hip Pain Got You Down?

As a strength trainer who lives to workout with free weights on a strict training regimen, I have a muscle group that affects my ability to squat low and deep with a heavy barbell that every one of you reading this should also be mindful of, no matter whether you are a strength athlete or not.

If you are the sedentary type who likes to sit around and do little more than watch your television while munching on snack cakes, you might want to continue reading this.

If you are not intentionally sedentary but have a job that has you sitting for long periods of the day such as office work or truck driving, this applies to you too.

The muscle group I am writing about is your hip flexors.

This same muscle group that allows me to load a heavy barbell onto my back and then to squat down low and deep with it before standing back up, is the exact same muscle group that has a direct impact on your mobility, or lack thereof,  when you sit your rear end in a seat for extended periods of time. It is the same muscle group that has truckers walking all hunched over after extended periods behind the wheel while out on the road. The hip flexors are a muscle group that no matter, young or old, athlete or non-athlete, male or female, it makes no difference who or what we are, should be kept strong and supple. Otherwise, we might one day find ourselves being checked prematurely into a nursing home when we can no longer get on and off our toilets without assistance from others.

What are the hip flexor’s 

Your hip flexors are a group of muscles near the top of your thighs that are key players in moving your lower body. When the hip flexors are referred to, it is often about the psoas major and minor, iliacus and rectus femoris. Sartorius also plays a role in hip flexion as do the front fibers of the tensor fascia lata. The hip flexors really are a large and significant muscle group. They have the ability to pull the pelvis forward and to arch your back when standing or sitting. The hip flexors let you walk, kick, bend, and swivel your hips. When these muscles are too tight you will find yourself having a difficult time in standing up straight. When these muscles are really tight, your hip flexors can actually stretch or tear if you make a sudden movement.

Hip flexor tightness can, and will, come from living a sedentary life where you do a lot of sitting during your waking hours. This problem can be exasperated even more if you are prone to allowing yourself to be dehydrated a good deal of the time. Truckers can be terrible about this as there is not always a good place to pull a semi truck and trailer off the road in order to relieve themselves when they have to urinate. Therefore, many truckers will not keep their bodies adequately hydrated when out on the road.

Many, if not most, problems with the hip flexors, originate because of a lack of flexibility. To give you a clear picture of how these muscles lose their flexibility, imagine yourself with a broken arm, your injured elbow is bent and encased in a cast. When your doctor removes this cast after six or eight weeks, the soft tissues around your elbow (muscles, tendons, ligaments, and even skin) will have shortened. If you have worn an arm cast, you know your elbow would not straighten out easily until  you had stretched it over several weeks to restore full range of motion. Similarly, if your hip is constantly kept in a flexed position from sitting extended periods day after day, the hip flexors will shorten and shrink, limiting your ability to fully extend, or straighten your hips.

This group of muscles can become prone to tightness as a result of:

  • Non-optimal posture with an arched back. It may be compounded by a forward tilt of the pelvis.
  • Sitting for too long when at work, studying, and driving.
  • Weak muscles at the back of the hip, such as the glutes and deep hip rotators.
  • Non-optimal contact and function with the feet in your gait as you walk. The psoas may not get the opportunity to open well as we walk and therefore stay shortened and tight.
  • Weak core and trunk control muscles and timing (poor load transfer between trunk to hips)
  • Digestion problems (inflammation of the gut causes problems with psoas which lies very close to the bowels)

What can we do about tight hip flexors?

Often, when you experience pain in the lower back and hips it is because of tight hip flexors. Fortunately, there are several stretches and exercises that relax and strengthen the hip flexors. With improved strength and flexibility, a person is less likely to experience pain or injury. If you find that a good portion of your day is spent sitting, please make time to learn and perform these simple stretches and exercises:

  • Seated Butterfly. The seated butterfly stretch stretches the hips, thighs, and lower back. It is easy to perform and is done from a seated position.To perform this stretch:
    1. Sit up straight on the floor with engaged abs.
    2. Push the bottoms of each foot together while pushing the knees out.
    3. Pull heels towards the body and relax the knees, allowing them to drift towards the ground.
    4. Hold for about 20 to 30 seconds, breathing deeply.
  • Bridge Pose. Bridge is a popular pose in yoga. It stretches many parts of the legs, hips, and back while lying down.To perform this stretch:
    1. Lay flat on the ground with arms laid flat on either side.
    2. Pull feet towards the buttocks and keep soles flat on the ground.
    3. Engaging the core, lift the buttocks into the air and form a straight, angled line from the knees to the shoulders.
    4. Hold for about 30 seconds, lower, and repeat.
  • Pigeon Pose. Another popular stretch in yoga, Pigeon pose gives the hips a deep stretch. This pose is difficult to perform, so people should use caution when trying it for the first time.To perform this stretch:
    1. Start out in a plank, as though doing a push-up.
    2. Lift the left foot and bring the knee directly forward toward the left hand, and push the foot towards the right hand.
    3. Move the outstretched right leg as far back as possible.
    4. Keeping the hips straight, lower the body to the ground as far as possible.
    5. After a few seconds, switch sides.
  • Mountain climbers. Mountain climbers are a type of move that a person does from a plank-like position. Mountain climbers mimic the motion of climbing up rocks, which is where the name comes from.To perform mountain climbers:
    1. Start in a regular plank with hands and feet placed shoulder-width apart.
    2. Keep the hands firmly planted on the ground and pull the right knee up to the chest on the same side of the body.
    3. Then, return to the starting position and repeat with the left leg.

    Start off with 5 to 10 repetitions and build up to about 20 to 30 over time.

  • Lunges. Lunges are an excellent exercise to strengthen the leg and hip muscles. People can perform lunges in a variety of ways, including forward, backward, and toward either side. The simplest is a forward lunge.To perform a forward lunge:
    1. Start in a standing position with feet just slightly apart.
    2. Place hands on the hips or let them hang straight on either side of the body.
    3. Take a big step forward, ensuring the heel makes contact with the floor first.
    4. Bend the forward knee until the thigh is parallel to the floor and the knee is over the ankle while bending the other knee towards the ground.
    5. Step back into the stand position, pushing off the floor with the leading foot.
    6. Repeat, alternating sides.

    To start, 5 to 10 repetitions may be all that a person can do. However, building up to 20 to 30 repetitions is a good number to aim for

  • Squats. Squats can work the muscles of the legs and engage the core at the same time. Squats have an added advantage of being very flexible, meaning a person can adjust the intensity to fit their changing fitness needs.To perform a squat:
    1. Start in a standing position with feet slightly spread apart and arms to the side.
    2. Bend the knees and push the buttocks toward the back.
    3. Drop down until the legs are roughly parallel to the floor, keeping knees in line with the feet.
    4. Keep the abs tight and bring the arms up to chest level.
    5. Repeat 10 to 30 times depending on fitness level.

    As strength grows, people can add can jumps or weights for an extra challenge. (1)

    (1) medicalnewstoday.com