Exercise is Medicine by ACSM

Megan // Author

Author based archive
16 Sep

Food thrown out, gone bad, or not eaten, has become a wasted resource in America. Some studies have put food waste at 30-40% which is almost 1/3 of our national food supply. Of course, the perishable food items, specifically fruit and vegetables, are the most commonly thrown out. It can be tempting to point the finger at restaurants or grocery stores, but the reality is that food waste is a household phenomenon. Food distribution can also be considered part of the problem.

Shockingly, Americans are throwing away nearly 6 billion pounds of food every month. The main reasons for this include:

1.       Cosmetic reasons: Foods such as fruits and vegetables have blemishes on them or lose their appeal becoming discolored over time.
2.       Over-purchasing and over-stocking: Buying in bulk is the new fad and stores cater to saving money when this is done. The consumer feels they are getting the best value for their dollar, even if they don’t eat all they have purchased.
3.       Sell-dates and expiration dates: There can cause confusion about how long a food can be stored for, and most people are overly cautious and better safe than sorry when it comes to this factor. 

The problem is that hunger and food insecurity are a problem in America. Nearly 40% of food supply is being lost. There are nearly 50 million people who live in households that do not have adequate food supply. Our food supply costs nearly $165 billion and 25% of our fresh water supply is used for this production. That means that water supply is also wasted.

We might have been raised and told to finish everything on our plates. Yet today’s food culture displays the bigger the better, making portion distortion a leading cause of the obesity epidemic. It is important to learn how to shop, cook, and store food properly, even if it takes added time or extra dishes to clean. Get behind the movement of legislation that supports lowering food waste helps our society as well. Donating extra food is always highly recommended. Someone who is looking for their next meal at a shelter, on the street, or at the food bank, are in need. These facilities are primarily volunteer based, and every little effort will help. Check the shelves at home before grocery shopping to see what you truly need first. Buying in bulk is resourceful, but this may be more applicable to processed foods with a longer life that allow for more time to eat them. Food is our fuel and the body needs nutrients to function. Don’t waste such an important resource we are lucky to have.

09 Sep

Oh that uncomfortable feeling in your stomach…. bloating is no fun for anyone. It’s almost as if the belly is swollen. And then the gas that comes with it. Well, bloating happens to us all so let’s learn about this issue and maybe ease our discomfort if we can. You might even pass for pregnant sometimes haha. 

So what exactly is bloating?? By definition, bloat means, “Abdominal distention from swallowed air or intestinal gas from fermentation” (http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com). I just don’t feel myself when I’m bloated and it doesn’t take away my appetite which leads to more food in that gassy belly. Just being honest with you all haha. For myself, I know what causes this feeling for me (eating too fast), so let me share with you the most common reasons and I’m sure you can relate too (http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/diarrhea-10/bloated-bloating):

1. Overeating is probably the most common cause of bloating. Smaller portions should ease the pain.

2. Eating rich and fatty food can make you feel uncomfortably stuffed. Fat takes longer to digest than protein or carbohydrates, so it keeps the stomach full longer. Avoid bloating by limiting your fats in your everyday diet

3. Eating too fast add to the risk of bloating after a meal. The remedy is simple – eat more slowly. Satiety signals can take up to 20 minutes to reach the brain and dampen appetite. Many weight loss experts believe that eating slowly helps prevent overeating. 

Gas can also be a culprit for bloating. Gas builds up when air is swallowed or there bacteria in your gut is building up to push food through your intestines. Carbonated drinks and chewing gum are common ways one might swallow more air unintentionally. Certain types of food can also cause the gassy, bloated feeling. Here are some familiar types (http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/diarrhea-10/bloated-bloating):

  1. Beans and lentils contain indigestible sugars called oligosaccharides. These sugars must be broken down by bacteria in the intestines

2. Fruits and vegetables with such as Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, prunes, apricots

3. Sweeteners can also cause gas and bloating (Sorbital and Fructose)

4.  Dairy products can be a source of intestinal distress and bloating if you have trouble digesting lactose, or milk sugar

5.  Whole grains due to their fiber content. 

We don’t normally even talk about this subject because we don’t want anyone to know that a good fart would alleviate some serious stomach cramping right then. In fact, “Figures show that 70% of people suffer regularly from belly woes, with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), acid reflux and plain old constipation three of the most common causes” (http://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestlye/health/boated-stomach-5-common-causes-1196763). 

We tend to learn the hard way what can cause bloating. Seems like if we eat super healthy with vegetables or if we eat super bad with fats, we can fall victim to bloating either way haha. But the point is that our digestive health is important on our fitness journeys. We don’t want any excuses to miss a workout or not fuel our bodies properly. So we just have to listen to our bodies and know our sensitivity. After all, no one wants to be that person at the studio who farts haha.  

01 Sep

The world has seen a dramatic change in the foods we eat over the last 20 years. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) have increased the yield of food production dramatically. Canola, cotton, corn, and soy have been forever changed. 10% of all farmland is for GMO crops and 70-80% of processed foods come from GMOs. But what does this mean for public health and our environment?? There are arguments to both sides…. of course.

U.S.A. leads the world in GMO production. There are two types. BT are GMOs that resists pesticides in corn including the root worm and corn beetles. These corn beetles are called “the billion dollar bug” because of the destruction they can do to these plants. BT is the name for the gene inserted into these plants. The bug eats the toxic gene and is killed. The toxicity at this point doesn’t affect humans. HT means Herbicide tolerant and is most common in soy. A type of spray is used for these bugs and controls weed growth among the crops. 90% of our soy production has HT and in Argentina it is 100%.

Supporters of GMOs say this is the answer to our growing population. By 2050 we will have nearly 9 billion people. How can we provide for everyone?? Most countries either import GMO food for its people or to feed its livestock.
The trouble is that bugs and weeds have grown a tolerance to BT and HT. It’s like Darwinism, in which adaptation occurs. So more and more is needed to kill them and if the bugs and weeds aren’t absorbing the toxicity, then guess what?? We are. Not only this, but how are we not affected by the spraying done in our environment?? Cross pollination is unavoidable because how can this spray be controlled to just a specific area. Studies have started to link cancer and birth defects to GMOs, but our government doesn’t want to recognize this. Why would South Africa not use GMOs to increase cotton production by 76%?? Even the Pope blessed “golden rice” which is GMO enriched to have more Omega 3 and Vitamin A which is heathy for us and can help children who are deficient in these nutrients.

We are now facing GMAs, Genetically Modified Animals. There has been a cow genetically constructed to produce the same milk woman do. This could help children who cannot breast feed. Salmon has been modified to be bigger. We don’t always know the difference when we are buying these items at the store.

I am an advocate for clean eating, but at some point I have accepted that I don’t really know what exactly I’m eating all the time. The documentary I watched for the help in writing this Blog, “GMOs: Lies and Truths”, was the sickening truth maybe we should all hear. We can only control what we can control, but it’s scary to think our government advocates for products that can harm us (this always makes me think of Coca-Cola but that’s a whole other Blog haha). Read labels, education yourself, and always make the best choices you can for your BODY.
Frederic Cataignede. (2017). GMO Lies and Truths.

24 Aug

Snoring is the occasional or chronic noise produced during sleep that happens when air flows through the throat causes tissues to vibrate during breathing. This noise can be disruptive to others near the sleeper and might be the sign of an actual health problem. Three possible solutions to snoring include losing weight, sleeping on your side, or not consuming alcohol near bedtime.  

There are a number of factors that can cause snoring. When we sleep, the muscles of the throat and tongue relax. These muscles can be so relaxed that they block part of the airway and vibrate. The anatomy of a person’s mouth can increase their risk for becoming a snorer. People who are overweight have extra tissues in the back of their throats that can block the airway. A person might have an elongated uvula (the triangular piece of tissue that hangs from the roof of the mouth). Nasal congestion or having a deviated septum can lead to snoring. Sleeping on the back narrows the airway. Being sleep deprived and overly tired increases the risk for snoring. Finally, alcohol can actually relax the throat muscles causing their functioning to become impaired. Snoring can actually be hereditary, and men are at higher risk to be snorers.  

For some snorers, the condition can be more serious and considered to be a sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Some of the tell-tale signs include having a soar throat upon wakening, gasping or chocking during the night, being very tired during the day, having chest pain at night, and overall having restless sleep at night. People with OSA usually experienced bouts of slow breathing during the night and even might stop breathing a few times. For diagnosis, a doctor might request an x-ray of the airway or refer the person to complete a sleep study. The person will stay at an overnight sleep center and perform a polysomnography. Information will be obtained regarding heart rate, eye and leg movement, brain waives, blood oxygen levels, and breathing rate. A doctor might then create a mouthpiece for the patient that keeps the airway passage open. The doctor might prescribe a continuous positive airway passage (CPAP) mask to wear which directs pressurized air to keep the airway passage open. Surgery is also an option to open up the airway.  

Sleep should not be deprived for the sleeper or those in the same vicinity. Methods to try first include losing weight, sleeping on the side, limiting nighttime alcohol use, using nasal strips, raising the head about 4 inches up, treating nasal congestion and allergies. Getting enough sleep is also of importance. Sleep is associated with quite, relaxation, and peace, not noise and frustration. Be courteous to others and take the steps to lower the volume so that everyone can enjoy their head to pillow time at night.  

17 Aug

I’m not talking about the kind at the end of a book. I’m talking about your body part the appendix, which the thin 4-inch tube at the junction of your small and large intestine located in the lower right abdomen. Some say it has no purpose. Others say it is the storage unit for the good bacteria of our digestive system, coming to the rescue after a bad bout of diarrhea. For whatever reason, the good old appendix has stayed with us through evolution.

 When the appendix is removed, well nothing happens. We only notice this body part when it has to be surgically removed due to appendicitis.  The appendix really only gets attention when it becomes inflamed or infected and needs to be taken out. When a person is experiencing pain to the lower right abdomen, nausea, and vomiting, antibiotics won’t always do the trick.  This leads to a surgery called an appendectomy. Without surgery, the appendix can rupture. Luckily, minimally invasive procedures are being used that help with quicker recovery, less time in the hospital, and best of all… less pain. Chances are slim of this occurring in the body. In fact, males are only at 8.6% risk and females only at 6.7% of contracting appendicitis. Having a low functioning immune system is a probable cause of having this and sometimes drinking contaminated water can be the culprit.

The downside of the appendix is that is can be a store house of tumors with cancer. This is another reason for removal. After an appendectomy, the chances of having Parkinson’s disease later on in life does increase.

So all in all, the appendix is sort of like that ugly vase your great aunt Suzy gave you that is sitting on the table that serves no pretty purpose. It is just there and probably would be better served to be removed from the setting. In the meantime, no harm no foul. But then when it shatters it’s time to clean it up and finally get it out of the house. The appendix is an interesting part of our body due to its “serve no purpose” nature. Since I’ve been working on my Doctorate, anatomy has been ever so prevalent in my life. The appendix is an easy one to remember thank goodness. A fitness journey must go on, with or without that appendix. I’ll never forget the time one of our FIT family members vomited during a workout. That was her appendix…. yep removed and back to workouts the next week.

13 Aug

Which is the lesser of two cancer causing evils??

While both cigars and cigarettes contain tobacco, there are some differences between these two forms of smoking. The obvious, visible difference is that a cigar is wrapped in leaf tobacco, while a cigarette is wrapped in paper that does not contain tobacco. In general, cigars are bigger, more expensive, last longer and thicker, and have more tobacco.

Regardless, both types can cause cancer.

One cigar can contain as much tobacco as one pack of cigarettes, which is close to 200 mg of nicotine. Cigarettes contain about 10 mg of nicotine. Therefore, cigars are typically saved for special occasions and events. Cigar smoking is often considered more sophisticated. They’re more popular in the U.S. then other places in the world, and more popular among men than women. Cigars have a masculine appeal and are associated with capitalism. Statistics show that 21% of adults smoke cigarettes, while 2.2% of adults smoke cigars. This is why people tend to focus more on the health risks of cigarettes because they are more widely used. However, cigars contain more cancerous chemicals than cigarettes as well as more tar. Those who wish to disbelieve this information believe that because cigars are not inhaled into the lungs, they do not cause cancer. Cigars pose a threat to cancer anywhere they touch. Even if not lung cancer, one has to consider that cigars do pose quite the risk for mouth and throat cancer.

Those who are around cigar smokers also experience second hand smoke equivalent of smoking a cigarette. The type of tobacco leaf used for a cigar wrapper increases the concentration of toxic chemicals emitted when burned, mores so than the paper of cigarettes. These chemicals include ammonia, tar, and carbon monoxide.

Cigar smoking causes double the risk for airway damage that causes lung disease. This leads to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. Asthma can become exasperated. The risk for heart disease and stroke also increases. Teeth become stained, gum disease can develop, tooth loss can occur, and bad breath become regular.

The bottom line is that when it comes to smoking, it’s your call. Nicotine is highly addictive and habit forming. For some, quitting seems impossible and picking up the habit has lasted for years and years. Others can stick to just social occasions. The mind and body learn to crave nicotine and the withdrawals can be troublesome. Occasional smoking still can have poor health consequences. The lungs can return close to their original functioning over time once the nicotine stops entering. The functioning of the cilia which clean and repair the system, can reverse some of the damage, but this is not to be relied upon. It’s easy to find yourself addicted and hard to quit, so the best choice is not to start.

03 Aug

Society deems the term “fat” in a derogatory manner for sure. The word doesn’t shout positive images or associations with good concepts. Our bodies do need fat. Over the years we have learned of low-fat, less-fat, and reduced fat items. So what are the healthy fats we are supposed to have?? Let’s take a look at good vs. bad fats for us. 
Fat in the body is an energy source for us. This to me is ironic in the sense of the simplicity of the statement. Having more fat seems like activity becomes harder to complete and health risks increase. But in reality, “It helps you absorb some vitamins and minerals. Fat is needed to build cell membranes, the vital exterior of each cell, and the sheaths surrounding nerves. It is essential for blood clotting, muscle movement, and inflammation” (http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good). 

Good Fat = monounsaturated & polyunsaturated

Somewhere in the middle = saturated

Bad Fat = Trans fats

It’s that crazy cellular form jargon of hydrogen bonds that make the different types of fat. 

Good Fat:

Vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish. These are liquid at room temperature               

*Monounsaturated Fats: “Good sources of monounsaturated fats are olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, avocados, and most nuts, as well as high-oleic safflower and sunflower oils” (http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good).                

*Polyunsaturated Fats: “Polyunsaturated fats are essential fats. That means they’re required for normal body functions but your body can’t make them. So you must get them from food. Polyunsaturated fats are used to build cell membranes and the covering of nerves. They are needed for blood clotting, muscle movement, and inflammation” (http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good). Good sources are fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, flaxseeds, walnuts, canola oil, and unhydrogenated soybean oil.

In the Middle Saturated Fats:

Keep to about 10% of calories per day because can increase cholesterol (moderation right??)“Common sources of saturated fat include red meat, whole milk and other whole-milk dairy foods, cheese, coconut oil, and many commercially prepared baked goods and other foods” (http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good). 

Bad Fat:

Trans Fat: Think solids

Increased risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Usually you see on the label as partially hydrogenated oil. So the fats turn solid and clog our arteries. That oil that fast food is cooked in.

Our bodies are unique to exactly how much fat we need. Good vs. bad as most choices become. Just know that a healthy fat doesn’t mean it’s a free for all on the portions. Watch your total daily intake and plan accordingly. And ask me questions. So maybe some fat is good, unlike what we have been socially taught to believe.

27 Jul


When your muscle suddenly becomes hard and tight or you feel a quick sharp pain in the calf, a muscle cramp has struck. It can happen while in motion when out for a run or even during a night’s sleep. This type of involuntary contraction is a spasm we would rather forgo. Without warning, the onset of a “Charley horse” (cramp that occurs in the calf area), is marked by temporary pain that we want instant relief from. Cramps are never fun to endure, and one just has to breathe through it, stretch, and massage out the area until alleviation kicks in.

There are a number of triggers that can cause muscle cramps. In order to avoid future spasms, knowing the causes becomes important. A cramp can be the result of poor blood circulation. Exercise related stress can bring on a cramp. Being dehydrated or deficient in magnesium and/or potassium, can be causes. Hot temperature is also a culprit, especially when being active. Not stretching enough can also lead to cramping. There are also medications that can lead to cramping. These include diuretics, certain Alzheimer’s medications, statin medications for cholesterol, as well as some osteoporosis and high blood pressure medications. Nerve compression can also cause a pinch that produces a cramp. Muscle mass lessens with age so what muscle is working may be more stressed than normal and overworked much more easily which can cause cramping. Muscle cramps are common during pregnancy as the body is undergoing a lot of changes. Certain medical conditions like diabetes, liver, or thyroid disorder can also heighten the risks of cramping.

Prevention includes staying hydrated, properly stretching, and making sure to eat healthy foods with nutrients. These include vitamins, minerals, potassium, and calcium. Potassium is found in many choices including vegetables, bananas, berries, potatoes, melon, citrus, meat, fish, and milk. Caffeine found in coffee, soda, and other beverages does affect fluid hydration in the body so be sure to replenish with water. Exercise and activity that lasts over 60 minutes can lead to glycogen depletion which can lead to fatigue which can lead to cramps.

Although only a temporary sensation and typically harmless, an unexpected bout of pain never feels good. It is important to seek a doctor’s help if these cramps are reoccurring or persistent. A nutrient imbalance may not be readily noticeable. Finding the cause can help avoid future incidences. Muscle cramps happen to almost everyone, few and far in between, but when they strike, they aren’t forgotten. The healthy folks of Bonsall and Fallbrook know that less is more when it comes to “Charley horses”.

27 Jul


Well that good old Amazon Prime account of mine led me to the movie, “The Gut: Our Second Brain” (2013) by Cecile Denjean. This documentary was fascinating as so many clients suffer from stomach issues. I’m sure we can all relate to our bellies trying to be the almighty ruler of our day. So I’d like to share some of the research this movie explored. 
Dating back to the cave man, our bodily features and functions were developed as needed mechanisms to seek and find food. Think of the “raw” diet that used to be consumed compared to our digestive systems now that have undergone quite the change in the types of food we eat. Even when cooking from “scratch”, realistically the flour or spices have been through some type of manufacturing process already before our purchase of it. The stomach cannot physically be the same as it was thousands of years ago. 

The brain and the stomach use the same neurotransmitters. Serotonin is the “well-being” chemical found in both the brain and stomach. 95% of serotonin is produced in the gut. So if serotonin is said to dictate our mood stability, no wonder the stomach is impacted when we feel stressed or uneasy. Adding to this, 1 in 10 people are said to have IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) digestive pain problems. The brain and gut have communication issues. I was surprised to learn that Parkinson’s disease originates in the gut. 

Different approaches are used to help with gut problems. Recent holistic type methods and Chinese medicine suggest hypnosis and acupuncture. This has also been shown to help with depression (again the brain and gut communicating better). Chinese medicine believes in the finding the source of the problem, which most times is the stomach. 
Bacteria helps with digestion and we need it in our system. Having this good type of bacteria date back to when we are babies and are building immunity. Obesity and bacteria have been closely studied. Some research has revealed that obese people have more of a certain type of bacteria. Obesity boils down to 10% genetic, 10% bacteria and 80% lifestyle. Antibiotics kill bad bacteria. Probiotics help develop the good type of bacteria we need which can be found in yeasts and yogurt. There isn’t a clear understanding yet of how probiotics work, but in a test that gave women yogurts, they were less reactive to situations, meaning they were in a better stable sense of mind. The images of the brain were in a calmer state. 

The more we know, the better we set ourselves up for success on our fitness journeys. This documentary help make sense of a lot of the stomach issues clients face. There is more to that growl in the belly than we think. Feed the mind and stomach as best as possible and listen to what your body is trying to communicate.

14 Jul


In 2014, the FDA approved the prescription weight loss drug, Contrave. With the recent New Year and weight loss adds running like crazy on TV, this drug surfaced in a commercial and caught my attention. So the trainer in me had to research it and here I will share my findings.

Here is what the website claims: “By adding CONTRAVE to your weight-loss plan for a full year, you could lose 2-4x more weight than with diet and exercise alone.2” (https://contrave.com/?gclid=CjwKEAiA-rfDBRDeyOybg8jd2U4SJAAoE5XqurpFCSvG4W9EmOm9N4CSlQwh727qtplFOX-aX-saZhoCt-3w_wcB).

To sum it up, Contrave can be prescribed to obese or overweight adults with conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol. Medically speaking, “Contrave combines two drugs already on the market: bupropion (Wellbutrin), an antidepressant, and naltrexone, an anti-addiction drug. Because it contains bupropion, the new drug will have a boxed warning to alert doctors and patients to the increased risk of suicidal thoughts that are linked with antidepressants” (http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20140911/contrave-weight-loss-drug#1). Wellbutrin is a popular antidepressant, which means those who take it for psychological purposes must not suffer from the weight gain side effects some of these medications can cause.

So what does it do?? Well, “‘It takes away hunger and the cravings for food,’ says John Foreyt, PhD, professor of medicine and director of the Behavioral Medicine Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston. He was a researcher on a clinical trial studying Contrave” (http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20140911/contrave-weight-loss-drug#1).

I do like that the drug is recommended with diet and exercise. It can also not be prescribed to someone with an eating disorder. But then I questions how long does someone take this pill and what happens when you stop. It isn’t an isolated phenomenon, and success does depend on what you eat and your activity. Results vary but, “On average, people lose 5% to 10% of their starting weight, according to clinical trials and experts” (http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20140911/contrave-weight-loss-drug#2). So I guess this means if you were 200 pounds, you might drop to 180.

Bottom line, we know there is no magic pill on our fitness journeys.