Tag: health

Skin Care During Weight Loss

 

Photo by Rafaella Mendes Diniz on Unsplash

Losing weight when our body fat is too high is one of the best things that we can do for ourselves. Never let the naysayers and the people who are trying to keep you down convince you that it will make you “look old”. I wish I had a dollar for every time that I heard that. Nowadays I look like their daughter and some of them are younger than me.

Lose S-L-O-W-L-Y

Slow weight loss is best for your skin. It gives the skin time to adapt. Whatever elasticity you have in your skin will best be served by a slow loss. Even plateaus are good when it comes to your skin. We make new skin cells constantly with all of them being replaced every 28-30 days. If we make slow changes, this cellular turnover can repair a lot of damaged cells and help retain more elasticity.

Hydrate

Our skin needs water, inside and out. Even though hot showers feel so good in cold weather, they can strip the oils from your skin. Oils hold moisture in your skin and the moisture is what makes your skin soft and supple.  Use lukewarm water for your showers, baths, face and hands and moisturize immediately afterward. I use facial moisturizers on my body because they are higher quality. Yes, they cost more but we tend to put our money on what is important to us. My body is the only place that I have to live so I want it to be beautiful and strong. Keep moisturizers close by your bathtub, all of your sinks, in your car and in your purse. Use them often. Using a humidifier in your home can put moisture back into the air in your home and prevent your skin from drying out. Drinking enough water to keep your urine straw colored will keep your body well hydrated. It is possible to drink too much water, so just keep your urine at this stage. I have known of people who wanted to drink water until their urine was clear. That’s not necessary. 

Moisturizers

Choose your moisturizers carefully. Use oil based moisturizers instead of water based. The water based products will quickly dissipate leaving you with no protection.

Protect

Wear gloves and scarves to protect your skin from cold.  Always wear sunscreen, even in the Winter. Winter sun can be just as damaging as Summer. The sun damages DNA which leads to wrinkles, sagging and skin cancer.

Exfoliate

Regardless of how much we spend on moisturizers, if we apply them over a layer of dead skin, they won’t work. Gently exfoliate everywhere, face, including lips, and body.  I love my net body scrubber and you can buy them for $1 at most drug stores. When considering exfoliation for your face and lips, know your skin type. Don’t over do and wind up red and irritated. Proceed with caution.  

Avoid Sugar

Sugar molecules bombard healthy fats and proteins and make them stiff and malformed. These deformed molecules are actually called AGEs, Advanced Glycation End products.  I think that about says it all. This results in wrinkles and sagging.

Avoid Cigarettes

They deplete Vitamin C stores which are used in collagen production.  If you don’t have the ingredients to build new skin then guess what, you’re stuck with old skin. It will look like it.

Avoid Alcohol

Alcohol dehydrates your skin.  It is also a source of hidden sugar that will cause the same effects as the sugar in a snack cake. It will cause food cravings and lower your inhibitions so that your weight fluctuates and causes your skin to have to accommodate constant weight changes.

Sleep

Our skin repairs itself while we sleep. Notice the difference in the way you look after being up all night and after a good night’s sleep.  Get your zzzzzzzz’s.

Exercise

Always get your doctor’s permission before beginning any exercise program.  While cardio gets your heart rate up and burns some fat, resistance training will do that and also build shapely muscles to keep your skin contours beautiful. Think about a balloon. While it’s inflated it’s nice and taut but let the air out and you have a loose bag.  There is something called body recomposition where we lose fat and build muscle.  That’s what I do to keep the bag full.  I want to be shapely with nice contours and strength.  I am a strong advocate of women’s strength training.

Supplements

There are some supplements that may help with your skin.  I take Vitamin C to boost collagen production.  You may want to investigate this venue but proceed with caution.  There are a lot of empty promises in this area.  A good high protein diet will give your skin the building blocks it needs. If a supplement has an exorbitant price tag, be suspicious. Research before spending too much money. I have found excellent supplements at good prices at puritan.com , Puritan’s Pride.

Nutrition

The high protein program that we recommend supplies the much needed amino acids for the building blocks of healthy skin.  We also recommend low carb and that is especially good for your skin because it limits the amount of sugar available in the body.  All carbs eventually break down into sugar.

If you follow these tips, you can loose body fat with less impact to your skin.  It takes work just like the rest of your self improvement program but the end result is more than worth it.

 

 

 

 

Metabolic Syndrome, The Hard Truth

out of breath, overweight woman

As the years of our lives pass, it gets easier and easier to become a little over-weight, obese, or even morbidly obese. It may seem that just a few short years ago you were the high school star athlete or cheer leader. You were in top physical condition and a fine specimen to look at.

Then came the responsibilities of life, where you are raising a family and sometimes, no matter how hard you work, keeping the bills paid becomes a stressful focus. Sally has dance lessons, Johnny has his trumpet lessons, while the baby has colic and her constant crying is allowing no peace for anyone in the house.

Yesterday you were the picture of perfect health and fitness, today you look and feel like a busted can of biscuits. Your gut is hanging over your belt, unless you wear those stretchy pants where a belt is not required. You quit tucking in your shirts to hide said gut and you have also begun coordinating your clothing in order to not appear as fat as you have become. And yes, guys can be just as bad about this as the ladies. Well, guess what? You are not fooling anyone. If you are fat, you look fat no matter how you dress. But more importantly than your physical appearance, your health is what matters. Face it, if you continue your path to obesity with poor nutritional habits, your ability to care for your family and even yourself is going to become more difficult over time. You may find yourself making a choice between paying a utility bill this month or a co-pay at the doctors office in order for you to be seen for a condition that is 100% related to your poor dietary choices.

Metabolic Syndrome

What is Metabolic Syndrome?

In short, you are fat, out of shape and no longer a healthy individual.

Or for a longer explanation, you have a cluster of conditions that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels. (1)

The term Metabolic Syndrome is a medical diagnosis. What you do about this diagnosis is going to be a matter of personal choice. You can choose to continue with your poor nutritional habits of convenience foods that are packed full of simple sugars, high in fat, sodium and preservatives. This weak choice is going to lead to taking out the time for more doctor visits with blood labs possible each time, along with having to take medications to control the issues you suffer from. Unnecessary money and time being expended away from the larger responsibility of your family and home.

Your other choice is to take personal responsibility for your health and to be proactive in doing something about it. If you are smart, you will clean up your diet and replace processed foods with healthy whole foods. You will eliminate simple sugar from your diet, and you will begin some form of exercise with your doctors approval. By cleaning up your dietary habits, your blood labs will normalize. By quitting refined sugar and other simple carbohydrates, your cravings for foods that contain them will subside. If you think eating healthy foods is too expensive, consider the reduction of monthly expenses when you no longer need to see your doctor regular and all of those monthly prescription refills you may have for blood pressure drug, statins, acid reflux etc… With the cost of medical care today, you could likely pay for at least a weeks worth of groceries with the medical expense savings alone.

Is exercise necessary to become healthy? What if I am in a condition where my ability to do so has become impaired?

Well. if you either cannot, or simply do not want to exercise, then you had damn well better be much stricter about your diet. That is a simple and plain hard truth my friends. This point is not even arguable on any level. Here is another truth, if you can move your body in any fashion, then you can begin doing something, anything to become more mobile. Even if you cannot walk, you can still do arm, abdominal and back exercises. If you are still capable of walking, then you can do the following:

  1. Walk briskly. Or, briskly for you.
  2. Put on some music and move your body with dance, Move your body around, shift your weight from one leg to another, lift your arms to the beat of the music. Look like a young child again, have fun with it.
  3. If you cannot jump rope, make believe you are by skipping in place.
  4. Get up and down from your chair 50 to 100 times.
  5. If you have stairs in your home, then walk up and down them several times per day.
  6. Try doing jumping jacks.
  7. Hop in a circle around a room in your home. Get your kids involved, the young ones will have a blast. Try hopping on one foot at a time for 30 second intervals.
  8. Rise up and down on your toes to work your calves.
  9. Stand on one leg and hold onto a chair or a wall for balance. Extend your free leg in front of you so the heel stretches out about 12 inches in front of your standing leg. Now bend your standing leg knee so you lower your body about 6 inches, and then come back up. Do this 25 times and then switch legs.
  10. Jog in place, picking your knees up higher each time and also extending the time you do this.
  11. You can pick and choose any of these simple exercises and do them as you watch television and your program is interrupted by a commercial.

Now of course if you are overweight and in poor condition, fatigue and soreness are going to be a limiting factor. But, these factors are only short term in nature. The objective is for you to work your way up with increased exercise. You may not be capable of running in a marathon next month, but you may find yourself at least able to walk in a 5k event. You can walk, do a few flights of stairs until you are fatigued. Take a rest and go at it again after a few hours. Build on the amount of time you can do this until you can go for a solid hour. The more out of shape you are, the more important it will be for you to exercise in short periods on a frequent basis. If you can only go at it for 5 minutes at a time, then plan your day to dedicate six five minute time frames to do your exercise. No excuses, just choose to plan and then commit. If you make regular exercise a habit, before you know it, you will find yourself far exceeding your original capabilities.

You can burn calories and fat with a variety of cardiovascular exercises, but if you want more bang for the buck, you must consider some form of strength training in order to increase your lean muscle mass. Some people will complain that they can not lose weight even when they have cut back on their food intake. Usually the problem is they are still consuming too many calories for their basal metabolic rate, still eating sugar and have very little lean muscle mass. The more lean muscle mass you have, the easier it is going to be for you to burn body fat. The way to address this is to go to our Calorie Calculator in our menu to find out your caloric needs and then consume a sugar free diet that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates, along with performing strength building exercises. Your body needs the protein to not only maintain your lean muscle mass, but more importantly to increase it. As your body fat percentage comes down, you also need for your lean muscle mass percentage to rise. At David’s Way, we actually support working towards a healthy body fat percentage over a random number you might want to see on your bathroom scale.

Invariably, people who complain that their metabolic rate is slow and they have trouble losing weight no matter what they consume week to week have weak muscles and are poorly conditioned. When you perform strength building exercises, you are going to increase the density of your lean muscle mass which is going to raise your metabolism. Increasing your lean muscle mass can be done by anyone who makes the choice to do so. If you want to be healthy, this is imperative. This is why we encourage achieving a healthy body fat percentage over a number on the scale. You might lose 50 to 100 pounds, be thin and yet be what is referred to as “Skinny fat”. Your weight means little if your body fat percentage is still at an unhealthy level. If you are thin and also soft to the touch, then you are no healthier than you were when you were much heavier. You are only thinner, do not fool yourself that being able to wear smaller clothing now means you are in decent shape. Skinny fat is still bad for you.

Many, if not most who go about losing weight, lose lean muscle along with body fat. If you do not maintain what you have or build upon it, you can regain all of the weight you have lost and now have a higher body fat percentage than you had before losing weight. This is going to be detrimental to your metabolism. If you are a yo-yo dieter who does not build muscle too, then your metabolism is going to slow more and more with each weight gain. Exercise is going to facilitate your weight loss and make you healthier. Vigorous exercise is even better. Build up to it gradually, You have the rest of your life if you have made a decision to be healthy for the remainder of your life. Start slow and build yourself up, do not injure yourself. If you have the fortitude to begin living a healthy life, you will find the will to eat healthy and exercise.

Metabolic Syndrome may be a medical diagnosis, or maybe it is actually a politically correct and polite way of saying you are fat and out of shape. Either way, you can do something about it. And what you do, does not have to require expensive doctors visits and medications. If you make an intelligent choice, you will clean up your diet and begin an exercise regimen right away. This truly is a matter of personal choices and then sticking with it. You are likely to have a few saboteurs along the way who will try to derail you by getting you to “just eat a little cake” or what ever. People who will tell you how good you have done and then pester you to join them in poor food choices. When you stick to your decision to only eat healthy and remain committed to making time for exercise, some of the people close to you may get angry when you do not join them in unhealthy habits. Bear in mind, if these kind hearted folks really care about your health and well being, they will not try to sabotage you. Misery loves company and unhealthy people will try to drag you down to their level. Sometimes, being around a crowd that eats a lot of unhealthy foods and do not exercise is like finding yourself in a bucket full of crabs. Where the harder you try to climb out, the harder they are going to try to pull you back in. Do yourself a favor and avoid the crabs.

Life and how we live it is truly a matter of personal choices. Choose wisely, you only have one body and one life.

(1) http://www.MayoClinic.org

Understanding Hydration

Photo by Ethan Sykes on Unsplash

Spring has now arrived and many of us physical fitness buffs will be taking our activities outside where we can enjoy nature as we go at our favorite outside recreational activities. Some will go for walks, while a good many of us will go at our activity vigorously enough to raise a sweat along with our heart rates. While it is my personal opinion that outside exercise is great for everyone, we have to be quite vigilant about our level of hydration as dehydration can not only hurt us, it can kill us. ALWAYS seek medical attention if you have ANY signs or symptoms of dehydration!

Hydration might seem a boring topic, yet it is an important one as there are people who really do not understand the implications of both dehydration, nor the ill effects of over hydrating. It was through my following of Weight Watchers social media Connect where I really became aware of some of the crazy ideas which proliferate the internet, ideas which range from being mildly ill informed to down right dangerous. The mildly ill informed crowd would be the folks who make it a point to drink one to two gallons of water per day with no solid scientific evidence to back up their reasoning, it was just something they read on the internet they should do in order to lose weight easier. For most people, the worst aspect of this would be never being able to get too far away from a bathroom during the day as they will be urinating on a frequent basis. When this practice becomes harmful is if the individual drinks enough to suffer a condition called hyponatremia, or water intoxication. Water intoxication is a result of drinking an extreme amount of water in a short time which will cause the level of salt, or sodium, in your blood to drop too low. This situation is serious and can be fatal.

 A downright dangerous idea I saw perpetuated on Connect was by a very popular male “Connector” who appears to have little else to do with his day than to flex his muscles for selfie pictures which he constantly posts every day. Many people who are struggling with weight loss and are new to physical fitness hang on every word this gentleman writes on his page. This fellow who is a huge influence to a great many people once wrote about how he likes to workout while dehydrated. This is an old body builder trick for just before competition in order to make their muscles appear more “cut”, or to have a clear separation between each muscle group. While this ignorant practice might be good for him, it is beyond the pale, that he would put this word out to people who for the most part do not know better than to workout while dehydrated. I called him out on this and was blocked not long afterwards. I sure hope this individual never put out dangerous word like that ever again.

Friends, before I get further into dehydration, refer to the chart below and remember this as a rule of thumb in regards to hydration; there is no magic amount of water you need to drink each day for your health. The amount you need is going to be unique to each individual based on not only how much water is consumed, but how much water is taken in through other sources of liquid, including food. Look at the simple chart below and use that as a hydration guide. By the color of your urine, you can know if you are taking in too little or too much water. Note, the upper color is a light straw and does not represent entirely clear, like water, urine. If your urine can pass for drinking water, you have likely depleted a good amount of your body’s electrolytes and you will need to replenish them before partaking in vigorous exercise.

To get more into science of this topic, did you know that the human body is made up of about 60% water?

Adequate hydration for healthy digestion of our foods, proper breathing, and just about every basic function. When you are not taking in enough water, dehydration will happen which can lead into less than favorable side effects. Unfortunately, more than 70% of Americans may suffer from chronic dehydration according to doctors (1). And because it can come in the form of several different symptoms, many people fail to notice that they are dehydrated.

What is dehydration?

Your body requires adequate water intake for every function it performs. Dehydration can be mild, moderate, severe, or chronic depending on how much fluid your body is missing.

  • Dehydration is your body’s negative reaction to having a water deficiency.
  • Chronic dehydration is a condition where dehydration lasts for longer periods of time.

Again, without sufficient hydration, your body cannot perform its basic functions properly. No matter your age, dehydration can occur for several reasons. Babies and elderly people are more prone to fluid deficiencies than adolescents and adults.

Young children are most likely to experience diarrhea and vomiting which purges both electrolytes and water, which increase the chances of dehydration. Babies also do not have fully developed kidneys. This means they will retain less water than they store in their tiny little bodies.

Older adults naturally have less water in their bodies and often times will not realize they are thirsty until dehydration has already set in. Additionally, elderly people are more susceptible to dehydration if they take certain medications like diuretics.

Causes of dehydration

The causes of dehydration can vary per individual depending on certain lifestyles, genetic and environmental factors. Most people are prone to dehydration under specific circumstances such as exercising frequently, illness and exposure to heat.

Your body loses water every day just through breathing, sweating, going to the bathroom and through saliva. If you have a fever, diarrhea, or vomiting, you are excreting additional fluids that can worsen dehydration. People who are active, exercise frequently, and sweat a lot also have an increased risk of fluid deficiencies.

In addition, some digestive tract issues can make you more prone to diarrhea which is linked to dehydration. Some of these conditions include:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Gluten sensitivity

Always, make it a habit to increase your water intake when you are releasing more water than you normally would.

Signs you are dehydrated:

  • Not urinating enough, or your urine is dark yellow. A simple way to determine if you are dehydrated is by checking the frequency of your bathroom trips as well as the color of your urine. If you are not urinating frequently, and when you do it is a darker color of yellow, chances are you have moderate dehydration. The darker it is, and the less frequent you do urinate, the more likely it is you are dehydrated, period. Start drinking more water as soon as you see that your pee is a darker yellow.
  • Dry skin. Research shows that your skin contains 30% water which is responsible for elasticity and plumpness. Many people who show signs of dehydrating may sometimes appear sweaty but as you go through the stages of dehydration, from mild to severe, your skin will become drier. Your skin may also appear red and flushed if you are dehydrated. Applying moisturizing lotion can alleviate some skin problems externally, but drinking more water will help your internal bodily functions to maintain healthy, supple skin.
  • Bad breath comes from dehydration when you are prevented from creating enough saliva. And since saliva has antibacterial properties, the lack of production can cause bacteria growth in your mouth that can lead to bad breath. If you have “zoo breath” reaching for a glass of water may be more effective than a piece of gum.
  • Experiencing muscle cramps! Refer back to the idiot telling people he likes to be dehydrated when working out, and the harm this can cause people. Exercising frequently, or working in hot weather can make you dehydrated and cause muscle cramps. As your muscles work harder, they will stop functioning properly, especially in a hot environment. Excessive sweating from exercise or heat worsens dehydration and also causes you to excrete vital minerals like sodium, potassium, and magnesium. If you are experiencing muscle cramps, consider bringing a sugar free electrolyte drink as well as a water bottle and sipping on both throughout your day.
  • Fever like symptoms, having the chills and other flu like symptoms is commonly associated with infection. But dehydration is another culprit to having fever. When your body does not have adequate fluid levels, it becomes difficult for your body to maintain a stable body temperature which can lead to hyperthermia and fever symptoms. If you are experiencing flu like symptoms, immediately stop all physical activity you are doing and drink more fluids as well as electrolytes while you rest.
  • Not consuming enough water may result in fatigue, dizziness, and lightheadedness. Your brain is composed of more than 70% water so it is crucial to stay hydrated for optimal brain and body functioning. Severe dehydration can come in the form of confusion and feeling like you may pass out any second. If this occurs, take a seat, slowly drink water and give your body a rest before attempting any physical activity. Ensure you consume a source of essential vitamins and minerals from water filled fruits and vegetables such as cucumbers, apples and watermelon.
  • Craving sweets and sugary treats. When you are dehydrated, it is difficult for your body to release glycogen (which uses water) as your main source of energy. If you are experiencing sudden hunger cravings for something sweet or salty, there is a good chance that dehydration is making it difficult for your body to release glucose into the bloodstream to use as a fuel source. Instead of giving into this craving, drink a glass of water or two.

How to avoid dehydration and rejuvenate your body.

Here are some tips for bouncing back from dehydration and restoring your body’s proper fluid levels. ALWAYS seek medical attention if you have ANY signs or symptoms of dehydration!

  • Keep a water bottle next to you at al times. If water is constantly in front of you and readily accessible, you will most likely get in the habit of sipping throughout the day without even noticing.
  • Add flavoring to your water if you do not like the blandness of water. Consider getting a zero calorie sweetener to satisfy your thirst and taste buds.
  • Eat more vegetables. Aim for large servings of vegetables in each one of your meals. Some fruits and vegetables are made up of 90% water such as watermelon, cucumber, celery, zucchini and lettuce.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol. Both increase the frequency of your bathroom trips, resulting in a higher chance of dehydration.
  • Drink unsweetened tea. If you like tea, a few cups a day can help you reach proper fluid levels while benefiting from antioxidants. Avoid sweetened tea as the added sugar can worsen dehydration.
  • Workout less during extreme heat. It is hard enough to maintain proper hydration when you are working out in an air conditioned gym. If you are experiencing chronic dehydration, consider less intense exercises while it is hot out.
  • Drink a bottle of water first thing in the morning. When you are asleep, your body is still excreting fluids. More often than not, you are slightly dehydrated after a full nights rest. Drinking at least one glass of water as soon as you wake up is a great way to restore proper fluid levels.
  • Drink water before, during and after exercise. Whether you are a beginner, or advanced in fitness, water intake should be one of your top priorities. We encourage drinking at least a glass of water three hours before exercise, sip on a bottle of water during your workout, and immediately after you finish.

Staying hydrated is key for optimal health and longevity.

Drinking enough water for optimum hydration can be a struggle for many people. Ranging from babies to older adults, dehydration can negatively impact your health at any age.

Putting conscious effort towards maintaining proper fluid levels will help you stay healthy and prevent dehydration from rearing it’s ugly head. If you are experiencing any of the tell tale signs mentioned above, consider adopting a few strategies above into your daily activity. Whether you are an athlete, construction worker, or live a sedentary lifestyle, drinking more water can help you improve your health and well being.

Subscriptions to David’s Way to Health and Fitness are always free. You can also join us at https://www.facebook.com/Davidsway2hlth  Facebook Page for more information.

How Much Water Do I Need?

(1) Claire Riley, AFPA Health, Nutrition & Fitness

Are We There Yet? Keep Going!

 

Photo by Leio McLaren (leiomclaren.com) on Unsplash

Every time that adults begin a weight management program, the first question in our minds and quite often out of our mouths, is “How long will it take?”. I was naive enough to ask David this question when I first began strength training. Not wanting to discourage me, he didn’t give me a direct answer immediately. As time unfolded I began to understand the answer that he finally gave, “The rest of your life.” I simply must keep going.

Moving Goals

In programs where I just wanted to lose X number of pounds, I could safely estimate how long it would take. When I began David’s Way however, everything changed. I was losing pounds but I was also gaining lean muscle. When I achieved a specific number of pounds lost, my goals changed. Then I wanted to keep going to add shapely muscle. I wanted to be strong and look like it. That first goal of “Lose 20 pounds.” (David), was achieved with Intermittent Fasting but that was only the beginning. I had achieved a quick loss of pounds but was nowhere near the type of body, or the strength, that I wanted. It was necessary to press on. I wasn’t there yet.

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

Digging In

There are sessions of weight training that are long and arduous. There may be moments that surprise you with a gain in strength that you didn’t expect. Hours, days, weeks and months will pass in blood, sweat and tears, but you keep going. It will be hard. You will want to quit and you will feel inept. You will also feel like the King/Queen of the World. As you are becoming formidable, you will realize that it truly is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight. Your confidence will soar as you realize that the same effort that raises you from a heavy squat will get you through anything that life throws at you. Nothing is any harder than that squat. When you refuse to stop, you will realize that can’t go back. Then you will know that you are a Winner.

Metamorphosis

As the Iron begins to change your outside, it is also changing your inside. The deltoids in your shoulders/upper arms that were not there before, exemplify the confidence and determination that is building inside your mind and heart. As you keep going, the power that you thrust into getting that deadlift to move will also move problems on your job and in your personal life. “There’s always something.” (Gilda Radner) that has the potential to ruin your day, or your entire life, if you allow it. When you realize that you are in control of that barbell, you will realize that you are in control of almost everything in your life. You will learn to control your reactions and become proactive instead. Take control of things in your life just like you take control of that bar and you will increase your strength in all areas.

Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash

Go Deeper

As I move along in my program, I am constantly looking for flaws in my form. I have high goals for myself and form is everything. With good form I will be able to lift more, longer, stronger and hopefully, injury free. I do everything in my power to avoid injury. When I see evidence that a specific program, or lift, is known to cause injury, I avoid it. I question the intellect of someone who readily accepts injury as a normal part of their fitness regimen. Healthy living should avoid injury, not run towards it. As I keep going and work on my form, I gradually buy equipment to help me with that.

My best idea as of today, was my power rack that gives me a place to dump the weights safely if they get too heavy, or if something goes wrong. So far the only injury has been to a cell phone, may it rest in peace. Word to the wise, if you are using a standard bar with locks, use them…every time. One of the greatest things about my Olympic bar is that I don’t have to use locks. These are things that you learn as you go deeper.

I never thought that I would use “one of those big ole’ bars”, (an Olympic bar that weighs 45 pounds and is 7.2 feet long) but now I can’t imagine lifting any other way. Occasionally, for a light lift, I’ll use my standard bar. I can’t wait to get back to the big ole’ bar. I love my Olympic bar. It means that I’m a badass who has worked hard to get to where I am and that bar can take me anywhere that I want to go.

Do It Again

As I struggled to perfect my deadlift, David  realized that my valsalva, a breathing maneuver used to increase power during lifting, was not right.  Although I knew what to do, I was losing focus and tightness throughout my body. That was allowing  a curve in my lower back. It had to be corrected. I had been using a velcro closure lifting belt that stretched a little. That can contribute to lost tightness, so David advised me to get a latch belt. That latch belt is amazing! It has helped me so much. I also started using a hex bar for my deadlift and it makes the lift more ergonomically correct and easier to execute properly. I had been lifting for about a year and a half when I made these changes. In lifting as in other areas of life, we are ever learning and ever correcting.

No, We Are Not There Yet!

We will have many twists, turns and detours.  As long as we keep giving it our best effort our lives, and our lifts, will improve. We will not just magically “arrive” one day and be at the end of our destination. David says that “We don’t own our present level of fitness. We are only paying rent.” This means that we must continually search for ways to get  better at what we do. If we quit working at it, we will lose our fitness.

Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash

When I finally got that answer, “The rest of your life.” in answer to “How long will it take?” I was already beginning to understand. The more you fix in your body, and in your life, the more you find to fix. In order to be our best selves, we must continue down this path indefinitely. Anything else is falling short of our full potential. Come on. Stretch yourself. Whatever exercise you and your doctor choose, get accustomed to doing it and being your best. Work at it. Strive for it. Never quit. Always endure. You are all you’ve got, so make yourself excellent in all ways. It will not be easy but it will be worth it.

Just get up and go again.

Always consult your medical doctor before beginning any exercise program.

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Sexy, Strong Legs!

 Strong Legs are Sexy Legs!

 Strong legs are much more than beautiful. They are vital to protect heart health. We spend countless hours working on them. Most people don’t realize that the calf muscles are a pumping station designed to be a second heart.

The Heart Needs Help 

Our heart is an amazing organ that pumps blood throughout our entire body with a single squeezing action. It sends oxygen to the farthest reaches of our body in a moment. There is one problem, to get the blood back to the heart, it takes more than that single pump. To get it back to the heart, the calf and ankle muscles assist the heart in circulating blood throughout your body.

Strong Legs Can Help The Problem

Our blood is returned to our hearts by venous return. The foot pump initiates the action and this occurs with each step. When the heel touches down the blood pools and as the toe touches, the blood is shot upwards. The blood then enters the soleus muscle that extends from the ankle to the back of the knee. Every time this muscle contracts, it applies pressure to the veins and helps return blood to the heart. Then the blood moves into the veins in the groin and travels through the largest vein in the body, the vena cava, to the heart. (1) This network of veins work together but none of them can do their job without a strong calf muscle.

Get Moving!

There are one-way valves in the veins that prevent blood from flowing back to the feet when the muscles aren’t active. This is how the body fights the biggest challenge to the calf muscle pump, inactivity. When you stop moving your legs and blood pools, your heart will apply some pressure to the veins, but blood flow is drastically reduced. This predisposes you to blood clots in the deep veins. Swelling, pain, cramping and ulcers can occur. Clots can travel throughout the body. Infections in the ulcers can become systemic and present grave health risks. You’re at a greater risk of these complications if you are sedentary, stand for long periods or are overweight.

DANGER Of Not Having Strong Legs!

One study found that people with chronic heart failure have smaller calf muscles than people with fully functional hearts. This leads to overexertion during exercise. Small calf muscles are the result of muscle atrophy. David wrote an article entitled, Looking Good as We Age about that age related muscle wasting, or sarcopenia.  It’s an important article that thoroughly discusses the importance of keeping your muscles strong.

Intervention

Muscle atrophy is affected by diet and exercise, as discussed in David’s article. Good nutrition is mandatory but the best thing you can do for your calves is to lace up your sneakers and get moving. Walking is one of the best things that you can do to keep them strong. Get up and move for at least five minutes out of every hour. Calf raises, lunges, walking on your toes and foot pumps, simply pointing and flexing your feet will all help keep these vital muscles in good health. You can wrap a towel around the bottom of your foot, hold the ends gently and pull towards your body. This will increase blood flow in the moment. If we do nothing to prevent loss of this vital muscle, atrophy will occur with age.

Get up and get moving today, with your doctor’s permission. Taking care of your legs will improve your overall health.

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(1)https://healthtide.com/calf-muscle-considered-second-heart/

 

Looking Good As We Age

Color My World With Sound

 

If you are one of our regular readers, you likely already know I love to get out in the great outdoors and hike. Hiking is great exercise that is as wonderful for improving our mental outlook as it is for conditioning our bodies. Today, I hiked a trail that I hit pretty often on the weekends, however, today’s experience was entirely brand new to me. It was as if I had never been on this particular trail before. And in a larger sense than I ever could have realized, I had never been there fully until today. Today I had full hearing which I have not had for over thirty years now. My hearing has been damaged from my years in the military working around aircraft on flight lines and on the decks of aircraft carriers, and from years of extensive fire arms training. We might add a little blame on too loud rock and roll as well.

In case you are wondering what hearing has to do with weight loss/management and overall physical fitness, it has tons to do with these issues as hearing is an integral component of wellness. At David’s Way. we address weight loss/management from a holistic approach where the individual as a whole is considered. We never have, nor will we ever, only concentrate on calories in verses calories burned in assisting others with their weight management journey’s. Your entire well being needs to be brought into balance as a part of weight loss. Now, I have found a missing piece to my puzzle that was larger than I had ever dreamed.

Recently, I visited the VA to address a few issues and to get back into the system. I decided to get a full physical work up to include eyes and my hearing which I knew from my military past was damaged. I had no idea that my hearing was as bad as it is, and was quite stunned to learn that I qualified for hearing aids. I thought my hearing was good enough and that my lovely wife just needed to learn to speak up when she was speaking to me. I was wrong.

Monday of this week, I was fitted for new hearing aids. ReSound LiNX Quattro to be exact. My God, these hearing aids are wonderful. The first thing I became aware of hearing was the ticking of a clock on the wall as the audiologist fine tuned them to my needs. Then I could hear the sound of air rushing through the vent in the ceiling and the sound of feet on the floor as people were walking in the hall outside of her office. It was amazing the sounds that were coming to life for me. These particular hearing aids also have an app along with different settings for normal use, a focused noise cancelling setting for conversations with a lot of back ground noise, a setting for music, and lastly, one for the great outdoors which I came to fully appreciate today on my hike.

Color my world with sound!

I have been playing around with the different settings on my hearing aids, but had not really done much with the outdoor setting until this morning. I got into my truck and drove over to Weston Bend for my hike while jamming on a little classic rock with my hearing aids set to the music setting. It’s nice to fully hear the tunes without having to crank the radio too loudly anymore. Once I got to the trail head, I donned my camel back full of drinking water and then switched my hearing aids to the outdoors setting where my mind was blown away with all the old familiar sounds of nature I had not heard in several years. My hearing has been poor long enough that I had totally forgotten how noisy the great outdoors can be.

Color my world with the sounds of nature. As I walked along the meandering trail, up and down hills and such, the woods came completely alive for me. I could hear gravel crunching underneath my shoes. I could hear the songs of several species of birds just a singing and tweeting away. The sounds of summer locusts was almost deafening, I could not remember the last time I heard them be so loud. I could hear Wood Peckers pecking away at trees along with the soothing sounds of water emanating from the babbling brook down at the southeast side of the trail. As many times as I have hiked this trail, even when the waters in the creek has been high and fast moving, I have never heard it there before.

As I hiked the trail, even the trees were coming to life. I could hear a gentle breeze rustling the leaves and the creaking of tree limbs as they swayed in the breeze. I kept hearing one odd noise in particular that I soon realized was the sound of acorns and other seed pods falling from the trees and landing on the ground all around me.

Millions of little frogs call these woods home. I see them all the time, jumping out of my way, clearing my path as I hike down the trail. Today, I could actually hear the sounds as they leapt into the shrubbery and weeds which line the trail. I have to even admit, I enjoyed hearing the sounds of mosquitos buzzing by me along with a few flies and bumble bee’s.

It was a beautiful day.

I cannot believe how much of life I have missed through silence alone.

Even though my hearing was not entirely gone, my world was much grayer over the last thirty some odd years until I had my hearing restored.

As I have said, at David’s Way, we believe treating the individual as a whole is integral to healthy weight loss/management and towards over all wellness. There are many singular paths that can be followed to lose pounds on the scale, but we believe in exploring all the paths we encounter toward our well being. Maintaining a physically fit and health body requires also having a healthy mind and spirit. It is not a one or the other choice, both of these sides in our wellness have to be addressed. To be at our optimum level, we have to fine tune our lives each and every day. If we are physically active or sedentary for a day, we have to adjust our food intake accordingly. If we want to progress in strength training, we sometimes need to only add one or two pounds at a time to our barbell to keep making forward progress. Sometimes, we even need to remove a few pounds from what we might normally workout with in order to keep progressing. We have to address areas in our lives that cause us stress and fix them. Even when the stresses are small, they require fixing. Sometimes, we might have areas of our lives where we are lacking and do not know it. Yet, when we fine tune those areas too, the quality of our lives improve. Live your life to your fullest, never settle for mediocrity.. Learn to fix enough of the small stressors in your life and the big ones will take care of themselves.

If you or a loved one have an issue with hearing, get yourself checked out. Even if you believe that hearing aids might be cost prohibitive for you, there are programs out there to assist the needy in these regards if only you reach out to them.

Fine tune your existence.

Color my world with sound.

Healthy Weigh In Habits

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Brenda Sue and I have addressed a recurring issue with several of our online clients that I am not sure will ever be resolved. The issue is one of daily weight checking. If there is something that will quickly derail one who is on a weight loss journey, it is erratic weighing once or even several times in a single day. With some, it’s almost like they might hop onto their bathroom scale after every time they open and close their refrigerator door. This behavior is part of an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and is not going to go away simply because we tell our clients they should only weigh themselves once per week at best.

These obsessions and compulsions are unwanted and disruptive to daily life. OCD can be associated with eating disorders, anxiety disorders or depression, reports the National Institute of Mental Health. OCD has complex ties to eating behavior and weight loss, and may be associated with weight gain, difficulties losing weight or unhealthy weight loss. (1)

Friends, our aim is to help others in achieving a healthy body fat percentage in the least stressful manner possible. We understand the compulsions as we have been there ourselves too. We understand what it means to ensure that you have emptied your bladder and bowels before stepping onto the bathroom scales. As with many of you, at times we have also found ourselves trying to step onto the scales as gingerly as possible in order to maybe not weigh heavier than we feel we should, and this after scooting the scale around the floor to that perfect weigh in spot. Admit it or not, we know there are a few of you reading this who are in full understanding of the last couple lines. We know the disappointment that comes when thinking weight loss for the week was a sure thing, only to have those thoughts crushed when we seen a heavier reading than from our last weigh in. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that between Brenda Sue and myself, there is nothing you can tell us that you have done that we have not also done in a lame attempt to cheat the scale. To weigh the least amount possible on weigh in day, people will do the craziest stunts to beat our brutal nemesis, the bathroom scale.

Daily Weighing is not helpful for many if not most!

How many of you step onto your bathroom scale every morning and then base the rest of your day on the numbers you read? How many times has your attitude towards life and all in between gone to hell simply because of the morning scale reading? You know this is not helpful or healthy, yet many will continue to keep up the insanity of daily weighing no matter what we advise. I can tell you how salt and other additives will increase your water retention and you will still be upset over your temporary weight gain. I can tell you that your worries need to be placed on body fat percentage over water retention weight, and yet the number on the scale will still ruin your day, even when you full well know the reason it might be higher than you expected. I do not advocate daily weighing, and believe that for some, even weekly weigh in’s are too much for those who are going to let the scale number rule their day.

Over the long term, it’s best to aim for losing 1 to 2 pounds (0.5 to 1 kilogram) a week. Generally to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week, you need to burn 500 to 1,000 calories more than you consume each day, through a lower calorie diet and regular physical activity. (2)

If you really must weigh daily:

Neither your body or your bathroom scales are finely tuned machines that never need adjustments. We know there are many factors that can cause our body’s to fluctuate in weight simply as a result of water retention, therefore our weight can yo yo up and down by several pounds each and every day. If our scales were known to be perfectly calibrated every time we stepped on them, we would never be scooting it around the floor, nor would we try to minimize our weight by the way we step onto it, would we? Nope, if we knew we could never manipulate that scale number we would never practice the “Scale Ballet” every time we weigh ourselves.

If you have done the “Scale Ballet”, you are not alone…

If you are going to weigh yourself regular, it is worth your time and money to actually invest in a good quality digital scale and then ensure it always has fresh batteries or a good charge. If your body weight is important to you, then it should be important enough that you buy quality scales whether digital or mechanical. Do not sell yourself short by going cheap since cheap scales are less likely to be reliable in their calibration. If your scales are only 1% off on their reading this can mean a 1.5 pound error if you weigh 150 pounds. Now, if you weigh in excess of 200 pounds, do the math and you will see that your reading could be off by 2 pounds or more. Good quality scales are a must!

Never let yourself get upset over what could be a faulty reading of your weight!

Now, lets assume you have purchased a good bathroom scale and still want to weigh yourself daily. While I do not advise you to weigh every day, I still want you to weigh yourself weekly or bi-weekly in order to keep a measure of your progress. I want you to keep track of your progress without getting down and out about it when the number is too high, nor do I want you to get too excited over your weigh in when the weight drop is too high.

Remember, your body weight can fluctuate greatly, solely as a result of water retention.

  • If you simply must weigh yourself every day, get yourself a pen and a note pad to keep somewhere close to your scale.
  • Be consistent in weighing at the same time of the day and in the same or like clothing. Your clothing can add a couple pounds.
  • If you go to the bathroom and never have anything to eat or drink before weighing, then stick to this every day. Do not eat and drink breakfast and then step onto your scales before voiding your bowels and bladder. This one should be obvious.
  • Step onto your scale only once, write down your weight in your note pad and move on with your day no matter what the number said.
  • At the end of the week when you take your last daily weigh in for the week, write this number down and then figure your weeks average. For example. add the weight from each day together, then divide by the number 7 for your weekly average weight. 151+154+152+150+152+153+152=1064 1064/7=152 pounds weekly average weight.
  • The numbers during the week can fluctuate, it is the weekly average that you need worry about when you average them out for the entire month. A healthy weight loss is only 1 to 2 pounds maximum per week. If you average 1 to 2 pounds per week at the end of a month, you are on track for healthy weight loss. Daily numbers mean little to nothing if not used in a proper context. No matter the daily scale readings, if your first week average is 151 pounds and your second week average is 149 pounds, then your weight loss for the week is 2 pounds even if you had a minor gain during the week.

For successful weight loss/management, know yourself!

Know your goal!

You need to set a realistic goal for yourself. If you are 50 years old, you might not set a goal to once again be able to wear your cheer leading outfit from 9th grade. Not even if you get your weight close to where it was way back when. At David’s Way, we recommend not setting a goal weight, but setting a goal for body fat percentage instead. By setting a body fat percentage as a goal instead of a random scale number, it takes a lot of the stress out of weight management because your weight can fluctuate a few pounds and have no ill bearing on your overall body fat percentage. Whether you set a goal of a certain weight or body fat percentage, you need to be realistic about your body build, lifestyle and health needs.

Know your triggers!

There are certain foods and circumstances that will cause your weight to fluctuate or that will cause you to want to over eat. We always recommend that you go sugar and processed foods free, but we also understand there are times where this might be impossible for you. Brenda Sue and I have written extensively about the inflammatory effects of sugar in your body and how it affects your weight and health.

If you are out with friends in a restaurant and the wait staff asks if anyone is ready for dessert, ask for a cup of coffee and enjoy it while your friend indulges in their pie. You can still enjoy their company, and they can still enjoy yours. Make it a point to fill up on salad and vegetables with your meal and drink plenty of water to ward off the temptations of a sweet dessert treat. If you give in and have a dessert, try sharing it with your friend and let them eat the bulk of it. Then tomorrow, shrug it off and move on with your day. You might crave the sugar if you have been sugar free, but that craving will pass.

If you had restaurant food today, you can expect a weight gain tomorrow because the sodium and MSG chefs use will cause you to retain fluids. These circumstances where you have to eat out are going to happen whether you are out socially with friends, on vacation with family or on a business trip where you cannot cook for yourself. Do not freak out over the temporary weight gain and get back on track as soon as you can. It does not have to be the end of the world, and if you understand what triggers weight gain for you and what to do about these triggers, this in itself will greatly reduce the stress which comes when trying to lose weight. Stress reduction is something we have also addressed as at David’s Way, we treat the problem of obesity from a whole body, holistic approach where we know that simple loss of weight is not enough to make you successful at getting at, and then remaining at a healthy body fat percentage.

Ladies, most menstruating and premenstrual women might find their body weight rising by 3 to 5 pounds, even though their daily intake of food has not changed. (3) Do yourself a favor and do not get worked up by what nature is doing temporarily with your body. You know this is going to happen and must simply plan your lifestyle in order to deal with it instead of letting it control you. For more information read this article by Brenda Sue, Dirty Little Secret.

Keep adjusting!

At David’s Way, we encourage you to track your caloric intake in order to lose weight. We do not want you to over eat, conversely, we certainly do not want you to under eat which can have a negative effect on your metabolism and health. You will find that once you have lost a certain amount of weight, you will likely plateau. Do not get frustrated, adjust your caloric intake and get your weight loss moving again. You can go to our Calorie Counter Pro to find out how many calories a day you need to manage your weight.

Now for a key point!

Once you have lost weight, you have to adjust your caloric intake as what it takes to lose weight at 250 pounds is different than what it takes to lose weight at 160 pounds. Our clients seem to always get stuck on that last 10 to 20 pounds unless we remind them of this. For instance: if you are a 40 year old, 250 pound female who stands 5 feet 2 inches, and is sedentary or exercises very little, you will need 1609 calories per day in order to LOSE 1 pound of body fat per week. (This is easy when you do not eat sugar or processed foods, and only consume whole foods)

Lets say you are now 41 years old, and currently weigh 160 pounds, and you still get little to no exercise. You would now require 1613 calories per day to MAINTAIN this current weight. As you can see, this number is little different than the number it took for you to drop weight. If you never changed anything, the reason you have stalled is because you never re-figured your caloric needs. Your body has different requirements for how much you weigh. As you manage your body fat levels, you must always evaluate your needs. This is true for men and women of all ages.

No matter what happens during your weight loss journey, always remain focused on your goal. There are times when this is going to be difficult for all of us. If you slip up, do not cast judgement upon yourself, understand that life happens. Bad circumstances and tragedies befall us all. Even if you slip, make it a point to not get yourself permanently derailed. Be committed to your own good health and well being and make yourself a priority. Make healthy living your lifestyle. Instead of letting others pull you back down, reach out a helping hand and give others a hand up. Continue reading our work at David’s Way, it will always be free to you. Share what you have found here with family and friends who you think will also benefit from our labor of love. Comments and questions are always welcome here.

(1) Livestrong.Org, Jon Williams

(2) MayoClinic.org

(3) Carbohydrate Addicts Lifespan Program, Heller

Be The Best You Can Be

This article is dedicated to my life long friend and mentor Ronnie Gray Cash. My brother from another mother.

Years ago I had the good fortune of having an older mentor who took me under his wing and taught me some valuable lessons about life. Despite being functionally illiterate, Ronny was an extraordinary craftsman and artist. I learned a great deal while watching him turn random pieces of wood, metal scraps and such into fine art, all the while talking to me about living life to the fullest. Ronnie taught me to be the very best I could possibly be at anything and everything I should ever take up in life. Actually, his admonition was to always be the damn best at every endeavor I should take on. He taught me that anything worth while to take up in life was worth putting a 100% effort into. He taught me to never slack at anything, and I have lived my life trying to live up to the lessons he taught me. The ultimate irony being with this highly intelligent man was that he had quit school at a very young age, about 13, in order to work and help support his family.

The most mesmerizing masterpiece Ronnie ever crafted was his rendition of an old time masted warship that he worked on for sixteen years before calling it done. No detail from bow to stern was missed, not even down inside the ship where he had crafted miniature cannons out of brass that could actually be loaded with a small amount of black powder in order to shoot bb’s. The female figurehead he carved for the bow was so finely detailed you could have imagined a woman posing for it while he carved. Looking at the ships steering wheel, you could imagine crashing through high waves in an unruly ocean while heading off to fight battles for country or plunder. I could dream of climbing up the ropes of the main mast to the Crows Nest with a telescope in hand to watch for signs of land in the distance such as the slight haze variation of the horizon you see when land is still quite far away. I could imagine the joy sailors would feel after months at sea when they would spot a sparrow, as these birds would always lead you back to shore. These little birds are such a part of sea going lore that sailors will often have a pair of sparrows tattooed on their chests or back to remind them to always return to their homes when they could. After I became an actual sailor I never got sparrow tattoos, but I did return home when I could where I could sit and chew the fat with my mentor, my brother Ronnie, and still learn lessons of life from this wise man despite my having been around the globe aboard Navy ship a few times in real life.

A good portion of who I am today is a result of my brother Ronnie Gray Cash taking me under his wing when I was still a wild ass teenager that was having a difficult time navigating life.

Today, Ronnie is now 70 years old, and I will be 56 in just a few short weeks. I have had my ups and downs in life as a good many other people have. But, no matter how hard life has kicked me when I was down and out, I have always got up and fought my way back to the top.

I get agitated when people tell me “that’s easy for you to say” when I give advice to them. Life has not always been kind to me either.

But, I always get back up.

In 1997, 16 years after enlisting, I lost my career in the Navy when our government decided to draw down our numbers in the armed forces. I went into a deep funk for a few years. A depression combined with Post Traumatic Stress that I began to believe I could not kick. I gained a tremendous amount of weight, and was no where near being in good physical condition. It was Ronnie’s words from the past that woke me to the reality that I was becoming a weak man. I was a 250 pound bloated slob when I decided to clean up my diet and to get back into shape physically and mentally.

I dropped 90 pounds from 250 pounds to 160 pounds with a 30 inch waist. I began running again, which made me once again enjoy life. Soon, I cleaned up my weight set and began lifting again. Next came mountain biking. By 2008, I was 45 years old and in top physical condition again. I was eating clean, weight training three days per week and biking 60 to 70 miles as well.

Also in 2008 I found out I could return to military service in the Army Reserve National Guard and would likely be able to return as a Staff Sergeant. I did not believe this would be true, but went to have a chat with a recruiter anyhow. He informed me that with my physical condition and military history he could indeed bring me back in as a Staff Sergeant. He also informed that a part of coming back in at this time meant that I was sure to have a combat tour in Iraq or Afghanistan, possibly both. These terms were acceptable to me. I re-enlisted, went home and asked my loving wife what she would think if I told her I could get back into military service. She looked at me and said the obvious, she instinctively knew I had joined and gave me her full support in finishing my military career even if it meant combat deployments.

Shortly after I signed my re-enlistment papers I was shipped off to the Army’s Warrior Transition Course at Fort Sill Oklahoma. The Warrior Transition Course (WTC) is essentially Basic Training for Veterans returning to military duty. At WTC we went through almost all the training basic recruits endure with the exception of only a few areas being as we were not raw basic recruits. I was not only one of three Staff Sergeants returning to duty, I was also anywhere between 15 to 20 years older than the 255 other soldiers in my training evolution. Because of my rank, I was automatically assigned the position of Platoon Sergeant over 85 other soldiers. I took it all in stride despite having been a Navy guy with no experience with the Army culture. I took the position and did my best, and I was good.

As a Platoon Sergeant, I led our morning physical fitness training and formation runs. I was just shy of turning 46 years old, but I still was able to physically out perform many if not most of my soldiers in our morning calisthenics. During our formation runs, as with Ruck Marches, my place as Platoon Sergeant was at the front of the formation leading the way. Because of my position, there was not going to be any falling back in the runs or ruck marches. Our morning formation runs were 5 miles, I set the pace and we went hard. Anything less would have had me getting swarmed by the Drill Sergeants as they already could not believe a 45 year old former sailor had the nerve to join their beloved Army in a senior leadership position. The same was true with our timed ruck marches where we had to go from Point A to Point B while carrying 100 pounds of combat gear in a prescribed amount of time. As difficult as this was, I lead from the front as a good Platoon Sergeant is expected to do. There was no allowance for me to slack because of my age. I was a Staff Sergeant and had to carry myself as so. Lack of experience with the US Army did not matter, I had to learn on the go, and had to be damn good at improvising when I did not know some of the established procedures set by the Army, and the particular Cadre running the training. I had to be on top of my platoon from before sun up to well after sun down. As the Platoon Sergeant, I made it a point to arise, shave and be dressed in my uniform before my troops were out of their bunks. At night, I did not retire to my bunk until I was sure I had given my troops the opportunity to speak with me about any of their injuries and or concerns. A good Non Commissioned Officer (NCO) will always place the welfare of his troops before those of his own. This I did, I took my NCO Creed to heart. I was damn good at my position.

As Ronnie taught me in my youth, be the best at what you take on in life.

In August 2009, I suffered a very debilitating spinal injury which brought my life to a screeching halt. I herniated the disk at L5 S1, squeezed it like a jelly donut to the point it encapsulated my sciatic nerve which caused permanent damage and now a life time of chronic pain from my right butt cheek all the way down to my right foot. Not a day goes by that I do not have some degree of discomfort if not outright pain.

As a result of this spinal injury, I endured a series of three epidural spinal injections. What these are is the doctor uses fluoroscopic x-ray guidance to inject a dye and then a steroid into the epidural space in the hopes it will decrease inflammation and your pain. The injections did not work for me.

November 2009, I underwent spinal surgery where the herniated disk material was removed along with a bit of arthritis that most of us over the age of 40 have in our spines. This was followed by 2 months of physical therapy after I healed, yet I still suffered a great deal of pain. I returned to the doctor and was sent for an MRI where it was confirmed that my sciatic nerve had been damaged and also was now scarred over. I was doomed to a life time of pain, and was told to never return to heavy weight training again in my life.

I was not content to lay around and not resume living my life to the fullest possible. I figured I could live in pain and be inactive, or I could live in pain and still enjoy my life as best I can. I had a choice to make and chose the latter. I decided to resume living as I see fit, and have zero regrets. I embrace tough challenges in life whether it is under the barbell, on a difficult hiking trail or in any other endeavor. I do not accept mediocrity out of myself. I began lifting again with an empty barbell and worked my way up to squatting and deadlifting over 400 pounds which caused my doctor a great deal of concern to say the least. I also began eating upwards of 6000 calories a day to fuel the heavy lifting I had worked up to and gained enough weight and body fat to skew my blood lab numbers some and also to cause a elevation in my blood pressure. But, I had proved to myself that despite what is sometimes crippling pain, I could still live my life fully.

People say it is easy for me to say when I give advice about diet and physical fitness.

Yet, none of them were ever there to see how many tears I shed when working to regain my mobility to squat to a proper competition depth, or just in getting myself into a good starting position to pull a heavy deadlift without once again injuring my spine. No, none of these people have ever seen me cry in pain after a workout that was triggering horrible sciatic pain brought on by a simple impingement of the damaged nerve. None of these people were there to know what it was like for me to learn to walk normal again. After my injury, it took me a year to learn to not have my right foot pointing out at an acute angle and dragging when I walked. Every step was a conscious effort in making my right foot do what it was supposed to do pre-injury. None of these people ever seen the tears of pain this brought on either.

I have always had good nutritional knowledge despite not always using it in my past. However, when I decided to lose the weight I had put on after my injury while rebuilding my capacity to train once again with heavy weights, I put this knowledge into use. I took off 70 pounds and dropped to 9% body fat which I maintain through clean eating and exercise. People always ask for nutritional advice and what do I do to stay fit and trim, I get the same answer from them quite often when I tell them I do not ever eat added sugar or processed foods, nor do I eat in restaurants. And, I exercise vigorously on a regular basis no matter how the rest of my week may be going. I always make time for physical fitness. I treat it with the same importance as I do my job, it must be done even when I do not feel like doing it. Period.

That’s easy for you to say!

What I want to know is why do they think it is easy for me. Granted, it is now, but I too have had an addiction to simple sugar and carbohydrates. I too know what it is like to get those cravings for food so bad that I would become “hangry”.

What I do know is that adopting my methodology is not impossible for those who try. I am not that different from anyone else except for the fact I do not ever take the easy road in life and I believe that when you take a difficult task and work it long enough, it will soon become easy. My dietary habits of clean eating, measuring and weighing my foods comes easy. It is just what I do, it is my lifestyle and I guarantee I can cook a full meal quicker and cheaper than you can go through a fast food drive through and order utter crap to feed yourself and your family. While this may be acceptable on occasion, you are doing yourself and your family a huge disservice when you feed them in this manner on a regular basis.

Friends, Brenda Sue and myself are certified by American Fitness Professionals & Associates as Nutritional and Wellness consultants. Our certification process required many hours of intensive study in order to become certified. We take nutrition and fitness seriously, and love sharing information with you, our wonderful readers from around the world. We both live the life that we teach to others. We live this every day, and despite our certifications being in hand, we still study nutrition and fitness in order to bring you the best and most current information with no sugar coating or bull shit. We tell it like it is, and pull no punches. Our blog is unique in that no one else brings you this information from a male and female perspective. We are unique in that we address weight loss and management from a holistic, whole body and mind approach in order to best serve you. We do not only address a limited number of topics, we address every aspect of what it takes to achieve and maintain a healthy and fit body. We put out this blog as a labor of love to help others and have never charged for any of the information in our over 500 articles and recipes.

We live to be the best we can be. We want to help you to also live to be the best that you can be in health and wellness. We believe hard work and discipline actually makes life simpler rather than harder. This may take a little effort, but a life without chaos is easier any day, any time. We believe in planning our days, weeks and months. We believe in measuring our goals in exercise and fitness. I know that my weight remains within ounces of being the same from week to week, yet I still weigh myself every Saturday morning first thing as a form of accountability to myself. When I train with my weights, I log every weight used for each lift along with every rep of every set. After all, how can you judge success if there is no measure? Remember too, what gets measured gets done.

Be the best you can be my friends, thank you for reading and God bless.

10 Tips to Avoid Self Sabotage

 

Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

Don’t Lose Ground!

Many times we work so hard to improve our lives only to undo all of our work with habits that seem harmless. Small tweaks in our routine can make all of the difference!

1-Boost your self esteem with activity, with your doctor’s permission of course. Exercise is one of the very best anti-depressants. When we feel good about our accomplishments we are more likely to behave in a manner that will reinforce the lifestyle that created our newfound happiness.

2-Develop a supportive social network and avoid negative people with negative input into your life. There are some people whom you believe have your best interest at heart who do not. They will try to influence you to be like them and forget about your new lifestyle. Don’t allow this to happen.

3- Get yourself a new wardrobe and dispose of all clothing in larger sizes. If we don’t have bigger clothes, we’re more likely to try to stay in the new smaller sizes that we worked so hard to wear.

4-After reaching your weight loss goal, continue eating the same way.  Add just enough calories to stop your loss and make this way of eating your lifestyle. Let it become your normal.

5-Minimize clutter to help control stress. A cluttered environment leads to a cluttered mind which leads to anxiety. Anxiety produces a strong desire for comfort foods, alcohol or drugs. Stop anxiety in it’s tracks at all possible venues.

6-Guard your overall health and energy. Get a physical with blood labs. There are some physical conditions that can cause depression and lethargy. If left unchecked, they may cause the desire to overeat to become overwhelming.

7-Avoid alcohol. Alcohol contains excess empty calories. It lowers your inhibitions which can lead to uncontrolled binge eating. It also interferes with leptin production which lets you know when you are full.

8-Avoid sugar. It’s high in empty calories and causes spikes in blood sugar and insulin which drive cravings for more of the same, and an endless cycle of cravings and weight gain will ensue.

9-Remember that you are choosing to be healthy. It has not been imposed on you. This is something that you chose for yourself. There is no struggle for power or competition.

10- Set an achievable long term goal with many short term goals along the way. This will keep you focused on making progress.

Now, celebrate the difference in the way that you feel with less weight to carry. Enjoy your newfound energy and the physical abilities that come with it and carry on. Remember, it’s a lifestyle that will see you into old age and beyond with strength and energy. Don’t grow old gracefully. Grow old with style.

Why Can’t I Sleep?

 

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

At David ‘s Way we teach that there are three components that lay a foundation for good health. They are nutrition, activity and rest. You should read David’s article Fitness Triad for some good information concerning the details. America is known as the most sleep deprived nation on earth. Almost half of all Americans don’t get enough sleep. There are some common reasons for insomnia that can be remedied.

1-You check your phone before bed. Social media and email can be stressful and then you struggle to fall asleep. Another problem is that the light from your phone triggers your brain to believe that it’s daylight and time to wake up. Forego that last minute media check and turn in a few minutes earlier.

2- You have an irregular schedule and go to bed at different times throughout the week. This confuses your circadian rhythms and your brain doesn’t know when to shut down. Try to keep your sleep times as regular as possible, varying no more than 30-45 minutes if possible.

3-You drink caffeine too late in the day. Caffeine tricks your brain into thinking that it’s time to be awake. Try having your last serving at least 5 hours before bedtime.

4-You wind down with alcohol. Contrary to popular belief, alcohol interferes with sleep. You may nod off easily but you will not stay asleep. Stick to one drink per day if you drink and make sure that it’s at least 2 hours before you want to sleep. Better yet, forego alcohol altogether.

5- Your bed is uncomfortable from a bad mattress or a pet in the bed or a partner who steals the covers or takes up too much room. Get a good mattress, put the pet out of the bed and buy a bigger bed if your partner is a bed hog.

6-Your bedroom is too warm or bright. A cool room triggers you to sleep and if the room is too warm, your body will not cool down like it needs to for sleep. If there is too much light, you won’t produce the melatonin needed to fall into a peaceful slumber. Keep your room at 68 degrees and use light blocking shades and sleep masks.

7-Stress keeps you awake. Get a relaxing pre-bed ritual that calms you down such as a relaxing hot shower or some form of mindfulness practice.

8-Your partner snores. Encourage your partner to see a sleep specialist. Snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea and can be detrimental to his/her health. Do both of you a favor and get this fixed.
https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/why-cant-i-sleep#1