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Plans or Resolutions?

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New Year’s Resolutions are deceptive and usually ineffective. Merely making a statement will not accomplish a goal. You have to plan and put that plan into action. I can remember making New Year’s Resolutions before I was old enough to know better. There is a sense that you have accomplished the resolution when you make it that can actually prevent positive action. Once that statement is made strongly in the affirmative, we feel like we’ve made up our mind and that in itself will get us to our goal. I remember working at a major weight loss company when people would join, buy all kinds of products and come back the next week angry because they had not lost weight. When I asked them what they had been doing, it became painfully clear that they had not been on plan. They would answer that they bought X number of dollars worth of products and they still didn’t lose weight. The answer was obvious. I had to tell them that they had to work the plan.

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First Thing

Sometimes the trouble begins the moment we wake up. As the day’s responsibilities press in on us, we jump out of bed and GO! Watching the clock as we listen to the sounds all around, sometimes bad news on T.V., sometimes family members being needy, we feel an urgency to just get on with the day. This can be a critical time if proper planning has not made breakfast automatic. Know what you will eat for breakfast. Have it either ready the night before or have all of the ingredients readily accessible, laid our with the cookware and dishes that you need. That way you just walk into your kitchen and cook, or if your breakfast is ready, grab it and go. There, one landmine successfully navigated due to planning.

Danger Zone!

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If we have thought of weight management as a task to be accomplished rather than a lifestyle, when the junk food at work begins to show up, we think, “Oh well, just this time won’t hurt anything. I’ll start my “diet” tomorrow and dig in. Seeing eating healthy as a temporary state of deprivation encourages binge eating as an act of defiance. A resolution to lose weight is fine but only if you realize that it will only happen as a result of a change that will encompass the rest of your life. There has to be a turning point for weight loss to be permanent otherwise junk food will always hold a special allure. Go into these dangerous situations armed with the knowledge that those pastries will never get you what you want in life. When you see foods that are not a part of your healthy lifestyle as something that you just don’t eat, they will be just that. Instead of walking into your workplace simply trying to avoid all of the sugar-laden garbage, be pro-active and have your healthy foods with you. I pack a huge backpack with nuts, seeds, whole-milk Greek yogurt,  meats, eggs, apples and sweet potatoes. There is always something to eat and I seldom allow myself to get hungry, so when the junk food shows up, I’m already full of the good stuff that builds my body and I’m not tempted. Pack the snacks!

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Midday Madness

Years ago before I discovered David’s Way, I went to my doctor pretty often. He had an office staff that took very long lunches. He would be in his office and the staff would open the office after lunch and let patients in while the doctor was getting ready to see them. Over time, it got to where the ladies opened the door to let us in later and later. One day I noticed that the office staff was laughing loudly and just acting outright inappropriate for their position. In a moment, I realized that those women were quite inebriated. As it turns out, they were taking longer and longer lunches in restaurants that served wine and they were getting drunk every day at lunch. They also gained a LOT of weight during this time. If you find yourself getting caught in the eating lunch out every day trap, just say “NO!”. Carry your lunch to work and avoid the social outings during lunchtime. You can make a good lunch in minutes with some forethought. I buy canned red beans and when it’s time to go to work, I brown some lean ground beef, add sugar-free catsup and the beef to a half can of red beans and in less time than it takes to go to the drive-thru, I have lunch. Carrying your lunch will save you tons of cash too. Lunch with wine is quite expensive. Those ladies all got fired so they wound up morbidly obese and without an income or decent reference for another job so their lunches were even more costly. I also make a vegetable- beef soup that packs nicely. Many days I carry tuna or salmon salad which gives me mega protein because I add in two eggs along with the tuna. I always carry a protein shake. With just a little planning you can come up with lunches that are nutritious, portable and cheap but…you must PLAN.

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Afternoon Munchies

Unless we come to think of weight management as our routine, we will almost never be satiated throughout the afternoon because we tend to skip breakfast, saving those calories for “something that we want”. In the afternoon, energy drops and a quick sugar-laden snack can look very appealing. Avoid that trap with your handy stash of healthy foods and stop eating even those healthy foods if you have eaten all of the calories allotted to you that day. Sunflower and pumpkin seeds see me through many days at work. They are filling, nutritious and readily available. I usually add some of my allotment to yogurt and that makes a powerful bowl of highly nutritious food that will keep you going until you can get home. Apples are a natural energizer so add a couple of cheese sticks  to the apple or have a protein drink with a cup of coffee to keep your spirits and your energy high. Just make sure that your protein drink has no added sugars.

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Dinner Disaster

After a long day, it’s easy to think that you deserve a good meal. You do, but don’t fall into the pasta and wine trap! I have had many conversations with people who ate well throughout the day, only to blow it all at night. Pasta dishes are quick, cheap and easy and delicious. All too often they are paired with wine and then comes dessert. With your senses dulled and your appetite whetted by alcohol, moderation is pushed aside for instant gratification. Night after night of these dinners will take you to a place that you don’t want to go, morbid obesity. Again, plan your meals. Plan for success. Make menus for the week and shop for ingredients that are nutritious and quick and easy to fix. A hamburger steak, baked potato and green vegetable is an easy meal to prepare in a flash. If you like your sirloin or strip steak cooked medium, you can do that on your stovetop in as little as 15 minutes. While your steak is cooking, put the potato in the microwave and get that salad ready. BAM! Dinner. Frozen chicken tenderloins will cook in about 15-20 minutes in a seasoned cast iron skillet with a tight lid. Season them with the flavor palate that you like. Avoid alcohol. It will make you gain weight by adding empty calories and impairing your judgement. If you really want dessert, look at our menu and find a recipe. Here is our recipe for Sugar-Free Red Velvet Cake. As David said yesterday, there’s plenty of good sugar-free desserts nowadays. Try different ones until you find one that  you like.

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Safely Home

After dinner many people want to eat in front of the television. If you enjoy eating while you watch your favorite sitcom, then save some calories. PLAN your snacks. Celery can be a substitute for chips if you are serious about getting healthy. It’s crunchy and can be made either sweet or savory. Add peanut butter or reconstituted peanut butter powder or serve it with salsa. A piece of fruit, sliced into bites can go a long way and give you a sweet tooth fix. A weighed serving of your favorite nuts and a cup of full-fat Greek yogurt will spike your nutrition and fill you up. By planning your meals and snacks and avoiding empty calories, you can have enough good food to eat from the time you get up until you go to bed and never feel deprived.

My daddy says, “Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan.” It has guided him through some dark times. When you’re struggling with the  hard things in life, a plan will keep you sane and just might get you healthy. You have nothing to lose except the fat and everything to gain by trying. Give it a try and see what happens. I’ll bet you like it.

Peaceful Inspiration from Nature

My personal favorite physical fitness activity is strength training, while my second favorite, by a fairly narrow margin, is getting out into the great outdoors on a good hike on dirt trails that meander through out our local woodlands here in north eastern Kansas and north western Missouri. Today, on an off day from weight training, I got in a most excellent hike of a little over seven miles on some really great trails at Weston Bend Park in Missouri, about 25 miles north of Kansas City.

This particular trail head begins at a prepared asphalt trail and then meanders through a wooded ravine and then gradually takes you upwards to the top of a high ridge that overlooks the Missouri River Valley and the river itself. This time of year is a beautiful time to hike there as the leaves on the trees are beginning to change to their fall colors before dropping to the ground for the winter months. The falling leaves will lay on the ground and rot before being absorbed into the soil as nutrients for next springs new growth. Much in the same manner as how our own body’s absorb nutrients for growth and cellular repairs when we are at rest.

Getting out on the trail is a relaxing method of vigorous exercise for myself. It is vigorous, as I make it a point to hike at a rate that keeps my heart rate within the aerobic fat burning zone for my body over the entire course of my outing. Yet as my heart rate comes up, I can only feel relaxed in mind, body and soul as my eyes take in the beautiful surrounding sights while my ears pick up on the subtle sounds of nature living all around me. I am but a small microcosm of all the life around me despite the fact I only encountered a couple other hikers out on the trail this morning. Surrounded by life, yet alone where I can bring upon an inner peace to settle my post traumatic stress.

Looking out, over the Mighty Missouri River from atop the ridge.

The hills and ridges in this part of America were cut by glaciers during the last ice age. I look upon these two humongous slabs of stone and wonder if they were one piece many centuries or thousands of years ago. Maybe this huge rock was split by the awe inspiring force of nature when water found it’s way into a small crack, and with each cycle of freezing, the rock split more and more until it was separated enough for a seedling to become a sapling, which eventually grew into a mature tree in the center of these massive stones.

When out hiking in the woods, my mind is freed which allows me to find inspiration to write just about anywhere about anything. You might find it odd, but the inspiration which came from this split rock was the thoughts of how just like water seeping into a small crack, and eventually breaking the rock apart, we do the same thing within our body’s when we eat a diet that is calorie dense and nutritionally poor. Too many simple carbohydrates with cookies, cupcakes and other junk foods cause our pancreas to release floods of insulin as a result of high blood sugar.

The rocks, with their cracks remind me of our cellular structure, which opens up to the entry of blood sugar when signaled by our insulin. Over time, with centuries of thawing and freezing cycles, the rock become fractured until it finally breaks apart. In the same manner, when our blood sugar remains high for too long, and our body’s begin suffering ill effects such as damage to your nerves, blood vessels and internal organs. It can also cause:

  • vaginal and skin infections
  • slow healing cuts and sores
  • loss of vision
  • nerve damage
  • and erectile dysfunction

Whether you realize it or not, our body is just another element of the nature which surrounds us, It is a shame, a sad reality that far too many people never give the health of their own glorious body the same care as they might give to plant or animal life out in the nature.

Some people shake their heads in disbelief when I speak of going out and hiking anywhere from 5 to 10 miles or better, or when I talk about dedicating no less than four days a week to strength train for two hours at a time. Some assume that to follow my way of living, they might have to go to the same physical extremes as myself in order to get the same results.

You do not have to go to my extremes to get fit and healthy, There is no one size fits all exercise regimen. However, you do need to be active at a level that is appropriate for your level of fitness and capabilities. Your activity needs to match your needs and preferences.

You need to know, that while you can lose body fat and be healthy without exercise, you are only selling yourself short in your efforts. Regular activity reduces both insulin levels and insulin resistance. Regular physical fitness activities can and will help with lowering high blood pressure, improve your total blood fat level, elevate your good cholesterol (HDL) while lowering your bad cholesterol (LDL). Exercise on a consistent basis will lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, while decreasing your body fat and your risk of insulin related heart disease such as Coronary Artery and Coronary Heart Diseases.

Exercise does not, nor should it ever be a chore to suffer through. You should select an activity that is fun and easy to fit into your busy schedule. Instead of going all out hardcore like, you need to start slow and easy and increase your intensity over time in order to not burn out before you have derived any benefit from your activity.

Consistency is going to be key to your success with any physical fitness activity/program. Again, you will need to select an activity that is fun for you and easy to fit into your schedule in order to make being consistent easier on yourself. You do not require a daily commitment in order to be consistent. You can pick 3 to 5 days a week to exercise and use your off days as time for rest and recovery. These two elements, along with nutrition are as important as the physical activity itself.

By giving yourself a break a few days per week away from exercise, you will be more inclined to stick with it as it is not an every day chore. By taking a few days off you will always be able to attack a new exercise session with a fully rested body which will give you the best results, more bang for your buck if you will.

Again, find an activity that you will enjoy. Never force yourself to do something you really do not want to do as you will come to resent it. By all means, while you need to push yourself to always excel at your activity, never push yourself past your level of endurance as you are likely to come to hate what you are doing. This is not helpful in helping you to achieve your goals.

My advice is to please try to be loving, understanding, firm and compassionate with yourself. In the end, it makes good heart sense on all levels.

Active minds and active bodies never grow old. – Lee Salk

 

Holiday Heart Attack Season

At this time of year as the weather cools down and the nights get longer, the holidays begin rapidly approaching until the next thing we know, they are right upon us. Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day are supposed to be filled with love and joy with our family and friends. These days are supposed to be full of good times and cheer. A time of fellowship, a time of gift giving, a time to eat, drink and be merry. And for most of us, the holidays are exactly that. But, for anyone with heart disease—or who is at an increased risk of heart disease, the holidays instead may be a time of special risk. A joyful day may easily turn into a day of great tragedy.

Several studies have shown that during the winter holidays not only are heart problems more likely to occur but when they do, they are more likely to be fatal. The months of December and January are especially risky for people with heart disease. (1)

Imagine if you will, over the years you have been putting on weight and you have ignored your doctors admonition to lose weight simply because you feel like you are carrying it well for someone your size. You have not had any major health issues, so why worry about a little bulge at the belly, after all, you have more important things to worry about such as taking care of your family over your own needs.

It’s your life, who the hell is that doctor to tell you how to live when they are not the one paying your bills. All they need to do is shut up and give you your medicines to fix your ailments. All you wanted was medicine and not a judgmental opinion about your obesity. It’s your life, you will live it any way you see damn fit to. That is until you cannot…

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Now imagine if you will, you have been working hard since sunrise, preparing  to give your family a wonderful Thanksgiving or Christmas Day meal. Your adult kids and the grandchildren have arrived a few hours ago to a warm home full of love and the aroma of a baking turkey in the oven. The smells that bring back happy memories of the past when you were a young child visiting your own grand parents. The kids are all catching up with each other in the living room while the grandchildren are running all around the house bringing joy to your heart despite the fact you are feeling a bit tired now and have a case of heartburn that you have not been able to kill with antacids. And for some odd reason, your jaw aches too. But regardless of this, nothing is going to ruin your day.

You have worked hard all day in preparation of your family gathering. You awoke to a heavy, wet snow coming down, covering the ground in a thick, cold blanket. Once you got the turkey into the oven, you pulled on your snow boots, put on your heavy coat and shoveled the drive for your loved ones.  And the snow kept coming down, covering the drive about as fast as you could clear it. Once you finally removed the most of the snow and spread your ice melt, you return to the kitchen and finish the final meal preparation.

What a joyous day, surrounded by loved ones. The table has been set, the delicious and hearty food has all been put out and as you begin to carve the turkey with your youngest grand daughter at your side waiting in anticipation, as you slice into the turkey, you all of a sudden feel a crushing pain in your chest and everything goes black…

My friends, if this scenario ever happens to you, if you are lucky, you will be able to go home from the hospital after a few days of tests and observations. If you are not so lucky, this may be the last day of your life.

Are your personal affairs in order?

Did you get a final chance to tell your family how much you loved them before you passed on?

Is your family going to ever live with guilt or regret that they signed a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order?

If you spend a few days in ICU, is your family going to go bankrupt trying to save your life? Even if you die, they could still go bankrupt…

Heart attack symptoms

  • Tightness, pressure, squeezing, stabbing, or dull pain, most often in the center of the chest
  • Pain that spreads to the shoulders, neck, or arms
  • Irregular or rapid heartbeat
  • Cold sweat or clammy skin
  • Lightheadedness, weakness, or dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea, indigestion, and sometimes vomiting

Factors that contribute to heart attack.

  • Exposure to cold weather
  • Exposure to sudden and unusual levels of exertion, such as shoveling snow
  • Exposure to emotional stress, which is very common and is often fairly severe during the holidays
  • Obesity
  • Becoming sedentary over the winter months
  • Exposure to illness, especially influenza, which can produce inflammatory changes in the blood vessels
  • Over-indulging in food, alcohol and/or tobacco
  • Exposure to indoor pollution, such as cigarette smoke, or even a poorly-drafted log-burning fireplace
  • Reluctance to seek medical help during the holidays
  • Decreased exposure to light

What to expect if you have a heart attack.

For starters, always call 911 to be transported via ambulance rather than going by car. Contrary to what you might assume, speed isn’t the only rationale. “If you’re having a heart attack, there are two reasons why you want to be in an ambulance,” says Dr. Joshua Kosowsky, assistant professor of emergency medicine at Harvard Medical School. One is that in the unlikely event of cardiac arrest, the ambulance has the equipment and trained personnel to restart your heart. Cardiac arrest, which results from an electrical malfunction that stops the heart’s pumping ability, is fatal without prompt treatment. However, most heart attacks do not cause cardiac arrest, Dr. Kosowsky stresses. “It’s rare, but it’s certainly not a risk you want to take while you’re driving or riding in a car.” (2)

The other reason to travel via ambulance is that in many places in the United States, if a person calls 911 complaining of chest pain, the dispatcher will send paramedics who are trained to perform an electrocardiogram (ECG). This simple, painless test records your heart’s electrical activity through 12 small electrodes placed on your chest, arms, and legs. A six-second recording can then be transmitted to the receiving emergency department, which can help speed up the process of getting you the care you need.

Some people don’t experience the typical symptom of crushing chest pain during a heart attack, however, so they may hesitate to call 911. People with pain that waxes and wanes or who have subtler symptoms (such as jaw pain or shortness of breath) may show up at the emergency room on their own. Even if you do this, you’re still likely to get rapid care. The person who greets you might be a receptionist rather than a doctor or nurse, but most emergency departments follow a specific protocol for a suspected heart attack. “If you mention any symptom that sounds like it might be a heart attack, the first thing they’ll do is to get you an ECG, ideally within 10 minutes of your arrival,” says Dr. Kosowsky.

A doctor then interprets the ECG, which will reveal if you’re having a major heart attack, in which an artery feeding your heart is blocked, choking off the blood supply to part of your heart muscle. This usually creates a distinct signature on the ECG and means you’ll quickly receive treatment to open the blocked artery. (2)

But not all heart attacks show up on the first ECG. So even if it looks normal, you’re still not out of the woods, says Dr. Kosowsky. The next step is an evaluation by a doctor or other clinician, who will ask about your medical history and details about the location, duration, and intensity of your symptoms. You’ll also have a blood test to measure troponin, a protein that rises in response to heart muscle damage. This blood test is very sensitive. But keep in mind that elevated levels don’t always show up right away. That’s why doctors sometimes have people stay for several hours to get a follow-up troponin measurement.

Other possible tests include a chest x-ray to look for alternative causes of chest discomfort, such as pneumonia or heart failure. A doctor also might give you a trial of medication to see whether it relieves your symptoms, and additional ECGs may be performed over time.

Often, if several troponin tests come back normal, the doctor may want to check your risk of a future heart attack with an exercise stress test. This test can reveal how your heart responds to the demands of increased blood flow needed during exercise. During a standard exercise test, you walk on a treadmill at progressively faster speeds, while trained staff monitors your heart’s electrical activity, your heart rate, and your blood pressure.

An imaging test may also be performed to quantify the degree of blood flow to the heart. One option is an echocardiogram, a noninvasive test that involves placing an ultrasound probe on your chest to create a moving image of your beating heart. Restricted blood flow in the heart’s arteries changes the movement of the heart, which an experienced echocardiographer can detect.

Another option is a nuclear perfusion test, which entails injecting a radioactive substance called a tracer into a vein. The tracer then travels through your blood to your heart. A special camera that records the radioactive particles emitted from the tracer circles around the heart, taking images from multiple angles. A computer then combines these images to create a detailed picture of the blood flow to the heart.

In certain situations, if the source of your symptoms remains unclear, a physician might order a computed tomography angiography (CTA) scan. For this test, you receive an injection of a contrast dye into your arm or hand. The dye “lights up” in an image to reveal a three-dimensional view of your heart’s arteries, courtesy of multiple rapid-fire x-rays taken during the scan.

Sometimes, even after all the testing, doctors don’t know for certain what’s causing your chest pain. “If that’s the case, it’s still worth asking the doctor what his or her best guess is, because that will help you determine what next steps to take,” says Dr. Kosowsky. (2)

Common treatment procedures for heart attack.

  • Angioplasty: Special tubing with an attached deflated balloon is threaded up to the coronary arteries.
  • Angioplasty, Laser: Similar to angioplasty except that the catheter has a laser tip that opens the blocked artery.
  • Artificial heart valve surgery: Replaces an abnormal or diseased heart valve with a healthy one.
  • Atherectomy: Similar to angioplasty except that the catheter has a rotating shaver on its tip to cut away plaque from the artery.
  • Bypass surgery: Treats blocked heart arteries by creating new passages for blood to flow to your heart muscle.
  • Cardiomyoplasty: An experimental procedure in which skeletal muscles are taken from a patient’s back or abdomen.
  • Heart transplant: Removes a diseased heart and replaces it with a donated healthy human heart.
  • Minimally invasive heart surgery: An alternative to standard bypass surgery.
  • Radiofrequency ablation: A catheter with an electrode at its tip is guided through the veins to the heart muscle to destroy carefully selected heart muscle cells in a very small area.
  • Stent procedure: A stent is a wire mesh tube used to prop open an artery during angioplasty.
  • Transmyocardial revascularization (TMR): A laser is used to drill a series of holes from the outside of the heart into the heart’s pumping chamber.

Reduce your risk of heart attack through healthy nutritional practices coupled with exercise that is approved by your doctor. Do it for yourself, do it for your loved ones. You might believe that your life is yours to live as you see fit. However, never forget that someone is going to have to pick up the broken pieces behind you when your health fails or when you pass on. Taking care of your health is only the right thing to do. Doing otherwise is a selfish act that only serves to cause pain and hurt in your loved ones at a later time and place. Be well, embrace your loved ones and love them like there is no tomorrow. You never know, there may be no tomorrow for you.

(1) verywellhealth.com

(2) health.harvard,edu

David’s Way to Health and Fitness now has a support group on Facebook for those want to lose or manage their weight, and also for those who are interested in healthy living practices. Just look for David’s Way to Health and Fitness and join us. We are a private group in order to protect your privacy.

All are welcome!

Endorphins, Sugar and Instant Gratification

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Some days we might get severe carbohydrate cravings which can really screw up our moods, along with those of everyone around us when we can not feed our faces. This is where serotonin comes into play. It helps in managing our mood and our cravings for sweet treats. This becomes evident when people feel an instant calming sensation when they give in to their food cravings. Oddly, it takes about an hour for the serotonin to go into effect, so there must be other chemical reactions coming into play when we have those cookies, chips or any other goodie we decide to gobble down.

Our cravings are also fueled by our addictions to pleasure. Much like getting a runners high, feeling great after intense exercise, having a good laugh or listening to music we enjoy, a euphoric or calming effect is produced by certain foods that release morphine like brain chemicals called endorphins. While it takes a little time for the serotonin to kick in after enjoying our sweet treats, the mere taste of sugar on our tongue produces an instant endorphin rush. This is why you feel good immediately after eating a doughnut. You are experiencing a subtle high from the endorphins released and then you get lingering good feelings from the slower acting increase of serotonin to make those feelings last a little longer. Yet those good feelings never last long enough, especially when the inevitable crash comes and it dawns on us that we just threw our own rear ends right under the bus again with our appetite.

Barbara Smith, PH.D, professor of psychology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, has researched the calming effects of sugar on newborns. “Healthy infants generally stop crying rather quickly when given small amounts of a diluted sugar solution, and the calming effect lasts over time, even when the sugar is removed. It is thought, the endorphins likely enhance the pleasurable response to eating, they make eating sweet foods fun and reassuring, which can have a negative effect on your will power.

How often have we watched someone, totally cave in to a carb caving even when they might already have a health issue such as diabetes?

This happens every day, we might even see this characteristic in ourselves.

Who do we hurt besides ourselves?

News flash, we hurt each friend and loved one in our lives when we go off the rails with unhealthy eating. Someone might have to take you to doctors appointments when you can no longer drive. Someone might have to wash your back side once you can no longer reach around to do it your self.  And someone is definitely going to have to make your final arrangements for a cremation or burial. Remember, how you live your life is never just about you in the end.

Endorphins provide an example of the cyclical manner in which our brain chemistry affects our eating, which then affects our brain chemistry in a vicious circle. We eat sugary sweet treats and sweet creamy foods, and the endorphins are then released to do their job of bringing us pleasure. Inject a rat with endorphins and the critter will heartily devour, sweets, fats and protein. Inject that same rat with the endorphin blocking drug naloxone and his snack attack diminishes. You can see how endorphins play a huge role in regulating when and what we want to eat. Note that when you lose weight too fast, the release of fatty acids from your fat tissue also causes an endorphin rush which can send you rummaging the refrigerator or pantry for a sweet treat to cure that “hangry” feeling. A healthy rate of fat loss is only 1 to 2 pounds per week. If you are attempting to lose more than that, you are only sabotaging yourself. Over 2 pounds per week being an unsustainable rate, you are not going to have permanent success.

The sugar-endorphin theory provides an interesting link between sweet cravings and several health issues. For example, ladies with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), bulimia, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) have more frequent cravings for sweets than is normal and report immediate relief from depression, tension or fatigue after giving in to the cravings. The snacks are often consumed in order to “calm myself”. They provide a temporary quick fix because of the endorphins. Because of this, in the long run, addictions to this effect are strengthened and the cravings will become worse over time. Like how chronic pain never goes truly while on pain meds, as long as you feed the cravings, you are causing that which has made you overweight and miserable in the first place. You are perpetuating the addictive properties of sugar in your body.

While simple carbohydrates, jelly doughnuts, ice cream and cookies, contribute to this problem, complex and minimally processed carbohydrates are part of the cure. Nutrient dense whole grain breads, cereals, crackers, brown rice and starch vegetables do not aggravate endorphin levels or your blood sugar, but they do satisfy serotonin needs. We need complex carbohydrate in our diets, but we do not need simple carbs like refined sugar at all. A well rounded diet which provides all of your nutritional needs will greatly reduce your cravings and soothe your moods, especially when combined with regular exercise.

Following David’s Way, you will consume a high protein diet which will keep you satiated longer than a low protein diet and you will enjoy a healthy mix of fats and complex carbs to curb your cravings and keep your mood stable through not eating sugar or other simple carbohydrates other than fruit. With David’s Way, you will have a stable level of serotonin without the rush of endorphins which can throw you off the rails away from a healthy body fat percentage for an improved life style and sense of well being. We are not a diet. We will not tell you what to eat, or the exact portions. This will all be dependent on your individual basal metabolic rate needs. We want and encourage you to consume a well rounded diet and to get your heart rate up through vigorous exercise. Exercise which is vigorous for you as an individual. We do not encourage anyone to set a goal weight number on the scale, rather we encourage you to choose a healthy body fat percentage for your age, gender and level of fitness. David’s Way is not a diet, we are a lifestyle of healthy living through proper nutrition and physical fitness.

Give my methodology an honest try, I guarantee you will be pleased with your results.

Fat Loss Versus Weight Loss

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One of the things we see as a huge problem in the weight loss industry is the focus is almost always placed exclusively  on weight loss alone. You can join one of the largest weight loss groups in the country, pay your monthly fees and still not find true success in achieving a healthy body, specifically because they only concentrate on helping you in getting to a goal weight instead of a goal body fat percentage. At David’s Way to Health and Fitness, we want you to concentrate on achieving a healthy body fat level over reaching a random weight. You might reach your goal weight when following any of the popular programs, yet still have an entirely too high percentage of body fat. What you weigh is meaningless when you are what we refer to as being “skinny fat”. Being skinny fat is when by outward appearances you are at an ideal body weight, yet you are still soft and pudgy from still carrying too much fat. In fact, being skinny fat is worse than just being obese simply because most skinny fat people do not recognize they have a problem.  After all, if you are over the age of thirty and weigh what you did as a senior in high school, all is well, right?

Not necessarily!

Here in lies a humongous problem, nutrition is similar to religion in that it is visceral. People can get too caught up in what feels good over using intelligence and common sense. It feels good to lose weight, and many take it as a matter of faith that a pound lost is a pound lost, while not caring where the pound lost came from. They do not care, or do not understand, there is a huge difference in a pound of water being lost over a pound of actual fat being lost. All they want to see is the number on their scale dropping which makes them feel good. These people will always find themselves let down when that pound of water weight is replaced as soon as they begin consuming and retaining fluids. Water weight loss is meaningless when it comes to what is important. What is important is losing your body fat to a healthy level for your body.

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To get at a healthy level of body fat and remain there, we need to first understand something. Obesity is not just a matter of simple weight gain.

Obesity is an accumulation of excess body fat!

If you want your weight loss to mean anything, then you must understand that your priority must be focused on achieving a healthy level of body fat over a random weight number that just “seems” to be right. Some of the major weight loss groups will help you to get to a weight that places you in a healthy range within the Body Mass Index scale, yet you might still be “skinny fat” and unhealthy. To be healthy, you have to concentrate on losing body fat, not just weight.

Through interactions with our own followers at David’s Way to Health and Fitness, and through the study of several weight loss programs, it is astounding that there are so many people who have little grasp of what makes up their weight and what to do about it. Your body weight is comprised of more than one factor; water content, fat content, muscle content and your structural components  such as bones, tendons and ligaments. If you want to simplify this, look at your body as two parts, pure body fat and lean body mass for the rest.

If you are trying to figure out your ideal weight, quit looking for a mystical number you believe is going to make you look and feel good about yourself. Concentrate on getting to and maintaining a healthy body fat percentage. You can refer to our Pictorial Body Fat Estimator  here to see where you need to be. Fifteen percent is a good goal for men, while twenty two percent is a good percentage for women.

In today’s America, the average man has 23% or higher levels of body fat, while the average woman’s body fat is 32% or higher. This means the average male is 53% fatter than he should be while the average woman is 50% fatter than what is healthy. Somewhere along the way, we Americans have become some of the fattest people on the face of the earth.  And why would this be?

This is simply because too many people, including so-called experts, have no true understanding of the relationship between diet and fat loss!

 

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COVID 19 and Metabolic Syndrome

Free stock photo from Pixabay

As some of you might already know, I very recently recovered from a bout with COVID 19. I am here to tell you, this sickness is no joking matter and it needs to be taken quite seriously despite the fact some people will display little to only a few symptoms. I am in excellent physical condition and it affected me pretty good for three weeks. While I was fortunate to not experience troubles with my lungs consolidating, the virus made my entire body hurt. My body hurt in a way to where it was like I could feel pain in every fiber of every muscle in my body. Even the tendons and ligaments were painful to me. And then, the fatigue was enough to have me sleeping more than half of the hours of each day for two weeks, and after the third week, I was still feeling weak when I resumed my weight training. Being quarantined to the house (my wife Loraine had this too) became difficult when we were running low on groceries and trying to find a store or business that could deliver goods to our home.

There are so many ways this virus affects us that we cannot truly appreciate until we have been impacted by it. I love to eat, but for three weeks I hated food. Instead of losing my sense of taste and smell, everything I ate or drank tasted and smelled kind of earthy and pungent to me. My coffee tasted the same as my scrambled eggs, which tasted the same as anything else I consumed. Everything tasted the same, and none of it tasted good. A month later, my sense of taste is still a little bit off, but at least my coffee is once again tasting like coffee instead of like brewing peat moss scraped off a rock in the forest into a hot drink.

Overall, Loraine and I got off easy compared to some. I was fearful for her being as she still has a compromised immune system from her breast cancer. We have both recovered without hospitalization, yet my friends wife just got out of an extended stay in the hospital as a result of contracting this virus. I know a few other people who have lost loved ones to this sickness and despite this, I still know a few who are not taking it seriously. Common sense has to prevail my friends. I’m not suggesting we should run around looking for death under every rock, but we must still take care of our health and take precautions against the virus.

How does COVID 19 affect those with Metabolic Syndrome?

ArtTower, free stock photo from Pixabay

First, what is Metabolic Syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that occur together, which increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. These conditions include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels. Metabolic syndrome is closely linked to overweight or obesity and inactivity, and it is also linked to insulin resistance.

Patients with metabolic syndrome exhibited an almost 4-times greater odds of fatal Covid-19 outcomes, compared to patients without metabolic syndrome in the multivariable analysis.

Among the patients hospitalized for Covid-19, having three common comorbidities associated with metabolic syndrome – hypertension, obesity and diabetes – was associated with an almost 5-fold increase in risk for requiring treatment in an ICU, being placed on mechanical ventilation and developing acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

The findings suggest that metabolic syndrome is a “composite predictor of Covid-19 lethal outcome,” wrote researcher Joshua Denson, MD, of Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, and colleagues. (1)

“Together, obesity, diabetes and pre-diabetes, high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol levels are all predictive of higher incidents of death in these patients. The more of these diagnoses that you have, the worse the outcomes,” said lead investigator Joshua Denson, MD, assistant professor of medicine and pulmonary and critical care medicine physician at Tulane University School of Medicine, in a statement. “The underlying inflammation that is seen with metabolic syndrome may be the driver that is leading to these more severe cases.”

While many observational studies have examined the impact of diabetes, obesity, and other risk factors with COVID-19 outcomes, Denson and a team of colleagues sought to further this understanding by assessing the impact of metabolic syndrome and each of its individual components on outcomes in COVID-19 patients. Using the World Health Organization (WHO) criteria for metabolic syndrome, investigators designed their study as an assessment of data collected from a pair of Tulane-affiliated hospitals in New Orleans. (2)

Metabolic Syndrome is Preventable!

Preventing metabolic syndrome is most certainly possible. you can prevent yourself from getting this condition by maintaining a healthy waist circumference, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. However, a huge obstacle blocking the way to prevention is there are far too many people who are apathetic about their weight and health until it actually does make them uncomfortable. Sadly, some never get over their apathy.  In talking to people about nutrition and fitness, it is not uncommon to hear people say they “do not do healthy” and that “they are going to enjoy life by eating whatever the hell they want”. It is not rocket science that our immune system is our defense against disease, and poor nutrition is the most common cause of immunodeficiencies. Maintaining your immune system requires an intake of proper vitamins and minerals. Eating a well-balanced diet, including fruits, vegetables and food low in unhealthy fats, will help support a *healthy immune system. Yet, quick junk foods still are the go to for a majority of western society of today. We can see the evidence of this each day by the long drive through lines at any fast food joint you might drive past in America on any given day.

Picture credit MabelAmber, free photo stock Pixabay

Exercise and weight loss will aid in preventing Metabolic Syndrome. You can begin by consuming a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while excluding sugar and processed foods. Leading a sedentary life leads to Metabolic Syndrome, therefore exercise of some sort is also important when it comes to preventing this condition. Regular physical activity will reduce your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels. The key is to try to maintain a healthy weight. Talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise program or radically changing your diet.

It Is Expensive to be Unhealthy!

Nearly two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a healthier diet could prevent at least $71 billion per year in medical costs and lost lives. That number may be underestimated because it only accounts for diet-related coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes. It does not include other diet-related illnesses.

Seventy-five percent of health care dollars are spent on treating preventable diseases. (3)

(1) https://www.physiciansweekly.com/covid-19-metabolic-syndrome-strong-risk-factor-for-death/

(2) https://www.endocrinologynetwork.com/view/impact-of-metabolic-syndrome-on-covid-19-outcomes-in-black-patients

(3) https://www.unitypoint.org/livewell/article.aspx?id=ff0de079-682c-4f1a-b686-6b5b50e2f541

Lifestyle Tips for Autoimmune Disease

Hard Road to Travel

Some of my earliest memories involve my beautiful mother sitting, painting a product called, “Heet” on her wrists. She was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at age 19 soon after giving birth to me. Although she suffered immensely her entire life, that dreadful disease did not stop her from living a full and productive life, which says something for her and her doctor. The day that she was diagnosed, he told her, “Bobbie, there’s not much we can do about this. You have to make up your mind right now that it will not stop you. Do not ever sit down and stay there for long, because if you do, you will spend the rest of your life in a wheel chair and never be independent again.” It scared her and honestly, I almost NEVER saw her sitting down. She got up at 7AM every day and worked like a maniac. Her house was spotless and she looked like a million bucks, always primping and preening and beautiful. She put her make-up on right after her first cup of coffee and proceeded to attack the day. Through the years, she tried several prescription medications aimed at helping RA, but they all made her deathly ill and finally settled in with prednisone being her only relief. While that drug is good for a lot, the effects of long-term use had some devastating effects. I watched her health deteriorate her whole life until she passed away at age 68 from sepsis brought on by a bone infection from a surgery site that was performed to correct a bone deformity that was so bad that something had to be done.

Lifestyle

While my mother was skinny and adhered to a very restrictive diet, she would not drink water, did eat sugar and was obsessed with what other people thought of her and our family to the point that if I got into any kind of trouble whatsoever, she could barely hold her head up in public. I have always believed that her lifestyle may have impacted her health in a very negative way. Human beings have to have water. Adequate intake can help fight inflammation. (1) Sugar is a horribly inflammatory agent and obsession with other people’s opinion will negatively impact you every time. We teach making your world small because you can’t please most people, and constantly trying to please them, will make you produce stress hormones which are also inflammatory.

Practical Tips

Autoimmune Disease of all types can be life-threatening and you MUST be under a medical doctor’s care! There are lifestyle changes that may ease some of your suffering. Check with your doctor before making any changes to your daily routine.

  • Get Regular Physical Activity That Has Been Approved By Your Doctor. Gradual, gentle exercise usually works best. My mother loved to swim whenever she had a chance. It was about the only exercise that did not cause her pain. My dad was going to build her an in-ground pool but she would not let him and I don’t know why. I truly believe that she would have been so much better off. Some people like yoga or tai chi due to it’s gentle nature and it’s ability to calm the mind. Living with chronic pain creates a stress unlike any other and calming activity is so good.
  • Rest. Good quality sleep is so important for everyone but if you have auto-immune disease, it’s especially beneficial in helping repair tissues and joints that may be affected by the disease process. Without enough sleep, stress levels rise and your mind and body both will feel the damage. Sleep helps regulate the immune system which is imperative. Most people need 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
  • REDUCE STRESS. Our ‘Making Your World Small” (David Yochim) motto is one of the best tools for doing this. When stress levels rise, symptoms may be triggered. In my mother’s case, stress was one of the most devastating influential factors in her bad health. She did not seem to have the ability to detach from other people’s opinions and her life was filled with anxiety because of it. When she was stressed, her symptoms always worsened. If someone or something has a negative impact on you, ditch them. If you can’t, find a way to detach from them, or the situation, emotionally. Your struggle for health is more important than ANYBODY’S opinion.
  • Eat a Healthy Diet.  Include lean protein, vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Limit saturated fats, trans fats, salt and added sugars. In auto-immune disease, new cells may be produced that can cause cholesterol to be trapped inside of blood vessels so in light of that, it is recommended to avoid it also. (2)  Most processed foods contain this list of no-no’s in abundance. Freshly prepared food is always best.

 

 

(1) https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/healthy-living/nutrition/healthy-eating/best-drinks-for-arthritis

(2) https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181108130543.htm#:~:text=Summary%3A,become%20trapped%20inside%20blood%20vessels.

Those Pesky Bat Wings!

Free stock photo, Flickr

The bane of many women who lose weight is the saggy skin left on the back of the arms, often referred to as “Bat Wings”. This saggy skin can be quite the eyesore to one who has worked hard to successfully lose weight – it can seem like a punishment for doing good for oneself. To understand what you can do about  your unsightly Bat Wings, you must first understand how they occurred in the first place. Understanding the cause of a problem is always key to a successful remedy.

Bat Wings are caused when you have very little muscle tone underneath a fatty arm. As you lose body fat, there is very little muscle tone to fill that now empty space. To make matters worse, if you lose weight too quickly because of a very low calorie diet, you will also be losing what muscle is there along with the fatty tissue. Additionally, Bat Wings are typically more than fat alone. As you get older, your skin quality changes. Skin that was once tight and elastic becomes thinner and stretched out. On the arms, this excess skin is prone to jiggling with movement, hence the name Bat Wings.

Weight loss is a major contributing factor to developing bat wings. When you gain weight, the skin stretches to accommodate more fat. Unfortunately, skin doesn’t contract as easily as it expands. Loose skin and remaining pockets of fat on the upper arm are very common after weight loss, especially for women.

What can you do about your Bat Wings?

If you are just beginning your weight loss journey, please be patient and do not try to lose more than 1 or 2 pounds per week maximum. I know we can get anxious to get the weight off, but slow and steady is the best course for you to take.  The more time you give your skin to adapt to your new body size, the more you minimize your risk of loose skin. Even if you’ve already lost a significant amount of weight, slowing down your weight loss for the rest of your weight loss journey can help you keep your skin as tight as possible.

Lean muscle takes up space under your skin, which helps reduce your risk of developing loose skin,  it also gives your arms more definition so they look more toned. The best way to tone flabby arms after weight loss starts with compound exercises: Pushups work your triceps, chest and the front of your shoulders, while inverted rows challenge your biceps, the back of your shoulders and the muscles in your back.  You can also do isolation exercises to build specific muscles; you should include bicep curls, overhead triceps extensions and lateral shoulder raises into your weight-training routine. The truth is, if you want your arms to look good, you are going to have to fill in that voided space underneath your skin with lean muscle mass.

Set Realistic Expectations for Yourself

While slowing weight loss and building muscle helps, this will not make loose skin disappear for everyone. This is especially true if your weight loss has involved losing more than 50 pounds or if you had been overweight for a long time. At that point, your skin may have stretched to the point that it loses some elasticity, so it’s not able to shrink back and accommodate your new smaller size. If you have lost a significant amount of weight, there is a chance that you may never build enough muscle to give your arms the toned look you may desire. There are medical options, such as surgery and other sculpting methods, but these options should be only between you and your physician. While loose skin or fat might affect your confidence, remember that it’s actually a sign of the enormous step you’ve taken to improve your health and live a happy, healthy lifestyle. 

Sugar Free Banana Apple Muffins

Nutritional Info

Serves 9

Calories 161

Net Carbs 8 grams

Fat 12 grams

Protein 6 grams

We got this recipe from our friend and follower Pam, or Runner Pam of Instagram fame. She did not create it but it’s one of her all-time favorites. Enjoy!

Ingredients

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup mashed ripe banana

1 Tablespoon butter

1 1/2 cups almond flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

Dash of salt

1/2 cup chopped apple

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F.

Line 9 muffin cups or coat with baking spray.

Mix eggs, banana and butter and mix well and set aside.

Combine almond flour, baking soda and salt and mix well.

Add apple and mix just til blended.

Put into muffin tin and bake 18-22 minutes or til golden brown and toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Transfer to rack and cool.

 

Cardiovascular Training/Walk, Run or Jog

There is probably no better exercise for restoration of the body and mind than a good outside walk, run or jog. Being outside in the great outdoors with your heart pumping extra oxygenated blood throughout your body does wonderful things for physical and mental healing. It matters not if you are an avid runner, or just one who likes to go for brisk walks, the benefit is all the same. Cardiovascular training not only aids in lowering your risk for heart disease, it also reduces stress levels, increases energy, and improves sleep and digestion. It is a well established fact that regular cardiovascular training improves muscular function and strength and improvement in the body’s ability to take in and use oxygen.  As one’s ability to transport and use oxygen improves, regular daily activities can be performed with less fatigue than when your cardiovascular health is not optimal.

You do not need to be a marathon runner or an elite athlete to derive significant benefits from cardiovascular activity. You do not have to already be in “shape to begin.  Know that you should always consult your physician before starting any type of exercise.

Clearly, most people can derive significant benefits from integrating a half hour of moderate activity into their day. If you know you simply cannot or will not set aside a half hour of activity on a given day, then try to work more activities into the day by taking the stairs rather than the elevator, or try walking rather than driving a short distance to the store. Try to work several shorter periods of activity, such as 10 minutes, into your schedule. The most important thing is to get started.

Whether you walk, run or jog, cardiovascular training can offer numerous health benefits to people of all ages and fitness levels. It may also help prevent certain diseases and even prolong your life. Best of all, cardiovascular exercise is free, and quite easy to fit into your daily routine. All you need to start  is a good pair of shoes for the exercise you are going to do.

Benefits of Cardiovascular Exercise:

Cardio helps you burn calories.

Burning calories can help you maintain or lose weight. Your actual calorie burn will depend on several factors, including:

  • your speed
  • distance covered
  • terrain (you’ll burn more calories walking uphill than you’ll burn on a flat surface)
  • your weight
Cardio strengthens the heart.

Walking at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week can reduce your risk for coronary heart disease. And your risk may reduce even more when you increase the duration or distance you walk per day.

Cardio can help to lower your blood sugar.

It is well established that by taking a short walk after eating, you can lower your blood sugar.  Studies have found that taking a 15-minute walk three times a day (after breakfast, lunch, and dinner) improved blood sugar levels more than taking a 45-minute walk at another point during the day. Consider making a post-meal walk a regular part of your routine. It can also help you fit exercise in throughout the day.

Note: If you have been living a sedentary lifestyle, give yourself a half hour after eating before beginning any vigorous exercise.

Cardio can ease joint pain.

Walking can help protect the joints, including your knees and hips. That’s because it helps lubricate and strengthen the muscles that support the joints. Walking may also provide benefits for people living with arthritis, such as reducing pain. And walking 5 to 6 miles a week may also help prevent arthritis.

Cardio helps to improve your mood.

Walking can help your mental health. Studies show it can help reduce anxiety, depression, and a negative mood. It can also boost self-esteem and reduce symptoms of social withdrawal. To experience these benefits, aim for 30 minutes of brisk walking or other moderate intensity exercise three days a week. You can also break it up into three 10-minute walks.

Walking can clear your head and help you think creatively, especially when walking outdoors. It is a most excellent way to open up a free flow of ideas and is a simple way to increase creativity and get physical activity at the same time.

What if the inclement weather does not permit outside cardiovascular exercise?

If weather keeps you from outside exercise, then you might consider buying a treadmill for home use. There are many on the market and are a great investment for your health and wellbeing. Using one will help you lose weight and burn fat, and you can get started at almost any level of fitness. Benefits of having a treadmill at home include:

  1. Cheaper than a gym membership for a year but will last longer.
  2. Available all year round 24/7 – whenever you have a spare 5 or 10 minutes.
  3. You’ll burn extra calories to help boost your weight loss.
  4. No need to get changed into gym wear. Just pop on your trainers, grab a bottle of water and go!
  5. Doesn’t matter what the weatherman says, you can walk regardless.
  6. Brilliant for de-stressing after work or when the kids are finally in bed.
  7. It is a great way to wake you up in the morning.
  8. You can listen to songs you love that no one else likes while you’re walking on the treadmill. Even your guilty pleasure songs that you don’t admit to anyone you like!
  9. You could listen to an audible book while burning some calories.
  10. You could even set up your laptop and catch up on an episode of your favourite TV program while you’re walking.
  11. Only got 3 minutes spare? You can walk on the treadmill.
  12. Many of them fold up so loads of space isn’t needed.
  13. You can use the incline on your treadmill to make the walk a little harder which will make you burn even more calories.
  14. It will help to tone up your bottom – walking uphill is great for the glutes
  15. Looking for some peace and quiet? Get on the treadmill
  16. Need to work through a problem? Work it out while you’re working out!

If you are considering the purchase of your first treadmill, you do not need to feel the need to break your bank with the most expensive model you can find. Yet, you also do not want to choose one that is cheaply made, they will not last any longer than their warranty, which is usually not that long. Our good friends at ConsumersAdvocate have an excellent, in depth review of treadmills you can read by clicking the link provided. This is a must read before making your purchase. In their article, they discuss price ranges, features, warranty and customer service for several good treadmills you can find at your local sporting goods outlet. Do yourself a favor and be armed with solid information before putting down your hard earned cash and this investment into your health and well being.

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