Exercise is Medicine by ACSM

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09 Jul

BLOG 275 EXPECTATIONS

We all have expectations each and every day. We have beliefs that something will happen or should be achieved. We forecast the results like the weather girl and project the future like a psychic. We believe that if we do this, then that will happen. These expectations are sometimes met with such confidence that when the outcome doesn’t match, disappointment hits hard. When the world of any situation doesn’t live up to your expectation, you are let down, discouraged, angry, frustrated, and just plain upset be it sad or mad.

Why do we do this to ourselves?? Why do we expect to lose a certain amount of weight?? Why do we expect Mr. or Mrs. Right to always know what we want?? Why do we expect a pay raise, amazing service, low prices, fast answers and solutions, fast internet, and right here right now, for so many of life’s circumstances?? Then when the scale doesn’t read back what we want, he or she didn’t meet our relationship hopes, the food took forever to come out, the tires cost way more than what we were planning on spending, the boss didn’t email you right back, the website is taking way to long to load, and we have to wait in a long line at the grocery store, well…. our expectations have not been met.

Uncertainty makes us anxious to create expectations in our minds. Sometimes our expectations are so unrealistic, we set ourselves up for failure or self-destruction. We believe that someone or ourselves will behave or perform a certain way, and when they or we don’t do so, emotions get to the best of us.
Any of this sound familiar on your fitness journey?? You expect that you have been working out and eating right that the pounds should be melting off and the scale should read back leaps and bounds of major weight loss. The truth is that the scale will never meet your expectations. The data driven mindset likes to exaggerate itself in our mind. You somehow think that a candy bar can be worked off in 20 minutes with that jog?? No, it’s going to take so much more than that. The reality is that you can’t out exercise a bad diet. Yet, you continue to expect to do this over and over again.

This is why I preach lifestyle change and daily choices that are realistic expectations and demands you place upon yourself to better YOU with or without a scale number. I get it. I get that when you feel like you aren’t losing fast enough or any at all then what’s the point?? But what you don’t see is your blood pressure lowering, your lipid and blood profile improvising, your cardiovascular system smiling, or your liver and kidney saying thank you for not making us work so hard?? So stop setting expectations that have led to your love-hate rollercoaster to no-where expectations about weight loss. It’s a daily grind, full of daily choices that need to be reasonable, attainable, and most of all…. doable.

02 Jul

BLOG 274 PHYSICAL APPEARANCE

Being satisfied with appearance can be influenced by social pressures and self-esteem. We desire to meet the acceptance of our peers and to feel comfortable in our own skin. Appearance related social pressures can lead to the development of negative body image, eating disorders, and even depression. Unconsciously or not we do judge others based on appearance. Weight, clothing, piercing, tattoos, height, and other physical aspects are in the forefront of our every day lives. We shop, dress, and choose our appearance based upon our interests, careers, and culture. The way we look communicates something about us. That is why we dress up for interviews, weddings, and special occasions. We might dress down to feel comfortable and relax. The environment and the company we are with influence these choices as well. There is also another form of pressure to look attractive in fear of rejection by the same or opposite sex. We seem to have heightened sensitivity when it comes to rejection based upon appearance. How attractive we feel dictates our self-esteem. There are also media influences.

Think of all the adjectives used to describe appearance….. average, beautiful, adorable, cute, handsome, fancy, dirty, ugly, etc. A compliment or an insult go a long way. Encountering and interacting with others can be affected by their opinion of our appearance either good or bad. It is human nature to judge appearance, which sometimes overshadows character. We often times associate class or money with appearance too. Brands and trends are socially influencing the marketing and purchasing choices we are making. To some having high-end is important, and to others second-hand is perfectly fine. Someone we discuss knowing the difference, how much we spent on something, or where we bought it from.

Clothes and shoes cover up what is underneath, regardless of personality. Sometimes personality is also a reflection of these clothes and shoes. The two concepts are interrelated. Have you ever bought something just to fit in? Have you ever spent more than you are comfortable with because of the company you will be wearing it around? Have you ever just thrown on old clothes because you just are tired of caring that day? Have you ever felt out of place or under dressed? These are questions that could be a ”dressed” daily when you select the attire for the day. We have to like what we see and what we wear can make or break our spirits for that day. Even if you are sitting behind a desk all day and no one will see what you are wearing, when you dress down or up, you actually do feel differently about your self-esteem that day. It’s just human nature and physical appearance is an evitable factor of our lives.

25 Jun

BLOG 273 OVERWORKED

Americans seem to have a lot of excuses when it comes to prioritizing their health. The U.S. has dictated a full time works schedule to consist of 40 hours per 7-day week, consisting of 8 hours per day. Most people use this time Monday through Friday, having weekends off. However, the U.S. does not have any exact laws setting the maximum work length for each week. As a result, 85.8% of males and 66.5% of females work more than 40 hours per week. Statistics are showing that Americans work 137 more hours per year than the Japanese, 260 more than the British, and 499 more than the French.

Following this trend of overworking, the U.S. also does not have a federal law requiring paid sick leave days. There are also not any laws about mandated annual leave. Therefore, the very people that are issuing pay checks are making the decisions about how to compensate time spent at work. With money and profit at the heart of the issue, it is no wonder people are working more hours.

It is easy for outsiders to merely say to work less hours. In doing so, that can translate to less money, which leads to more stress and lower quality of life. The problem is that when work is taking up a person’s schedule, almost entirely, there is little time for family and loved ones, spending time enjoying hobbies, unwinding, being social, and then of course….exercising. High stress and sedentary work life do to make a healthy combination. Somehow the mentality of work first has led to being intimidated to ask for time off to raise a child, to take a vacation, to have a couple hours off during the week, etc.

The statistics show that Americans are hard working. The average person is working 47 hours, not just 40. Some places of employment also require a 9-hour day because the 1 hour lunch does not count. That adds to additional time away from home and for self. Americans are starting to get a reputation for being chained to their desks. Some people even work through their lunches. Many just eat at their desks. Some just skip lunch altogether. In Spain, Greece, and other countries, lunch hour is a lose term and last as long as desired or needed. In Sweden, workers take a fika, which is a coffee break for all employees to socialize. There are actually laws in France that require workers to ignore emails and calls after work hours.

So much time at work is now a reflection of American’s waistlines, stress, mental health, and family relations. Most children grow up in a home with both working parents and if they both are gone for extended hours, that means there is less interaction. The cycle continues, and yet people have to pay their bills and taxes. How does the rest of the world have this figured out and make their health and work life balanced? We have yet to find the balance but need to restore our priorities or else the health consequences will continue to rise.

18 Jun

BLOG 272 OVEREATING

We are all too familiar with that feeling of being stuffed. For some it’s a rare occasion, but for others each meal can present the chance to eat and eat until overeating strikes again. We might do this at the end of a long day. It’s a holiday so why not? Or maybe when home alone all inhibition lets loose. Then we feel frustrated with ourselves for letting this stomachache happen….once again. The truth is that right out of the gate we are nurtured with food. We eat to live, but somewhere along the lines living to eat can become the lifestyle. We have an emotional connection to food outside of just nutritional purposes.

Yet, the act of eating can get out of control. It can become a coping mechanism for negative emotions. Some people think about food all the time. We might laugh and joke after eating large quantities at Thanksgiving, but some people feel ashamed and guilty after far too many of their meals. For some people, overeating can just be a mindless habit. The duration of the movie requires snacking and then pretty soon the box is gone and the entire liter of soda.

Some people who overeat might have an actual eating disorder such as binge eating disorder (BED). This is characterized by eating large quantities of food in a short period of time. A person with BED might do this at least once per week for the course of 3 months or longer. Eating is associated with feelings of stress, loneliness, and then guilt and regret after eating so much. To be clear, not all people who overeating have binge eating disorder. For some people it’s just a love of food, while others might suffer from negative body image. Sometime dieting gone astray can lead to overeating. Feelings of deprivation lead to a desire for foods that were off limits and the more the better. The foods that were forbidden become more and more attractive.

The composition of foods can make them addictive in nature. High fat, high sugar, and high salt foods taste to please us. The brain senses the euphoric feeling much like drug use. Then the person become dependent of these foods as they crave their comfort and satisfaction. The difference is that no one can cut food “cold-turkey”. We are faced with eating each and every single day, more than once. The act of eating can become an addiction too.

If there’s strong ties to deep emotional problems and food seems to be the solution, then seeking help is important. A person needs to determine their triggers, especially those that transpire negative body image. A counselor can certainly help. Food should also not be constantly deprived or labeled as “good” or “bad”. Tuning into hunger cues is important. Understanding the why of the overeating leads to a better solution. A change of scenery can help change the environment you put yourself in during eating. Don’t be on autopilot and let the habit carry on and on. There is a lot more to life then chewing, but we have to find a healthy relationship with food in order to be healthy mentally and physically.

10 Jun

BLOG 271 COMPARISON COMPLEX

Getting stuck in a hole of comparing yourself to others can wreak havoc on self-esteem. Confidence in question leads to poor self-worth. In today’s social media imaged filled culture, one can find themselves lost scrolling, clicking, and then thinking about how they shape up to what they see. For example, when it comes to fitness, you can tell yourself from that start that your goal isn’t about the weight loss numbers. Then you look at a feed of so many before and after photos, only to find yourself wondering why your results don’t add up the same. At work, you compare your performance to others so that you feel productive or purposeful. In school, you become competitive with grades. At restaurants, you look around to see what others have ordered. Parents compare themselves to others. They question whether their child should have a cell phone or not because their friend’s child is the same age and has one.

We can become so busy worrying about others, we loose sight of ourselves. We start to blame others for our own actions. When we have done the best job that we can there is no need to compare to anyone else. You have to be proud of yourself, otherwise you never live up to what you expect. That leads to depression and a downward path to negative thoughts. You actually limit yourself when you compare yourself to others because you are basing your potential on someone else’s.

All of this means that it may be time for a social media detox. It many be time to water your own grass and not worry about your neighbor’s. Don’t resist the past and accept where you are and aspire for where you want to be. Life might have been messy or bumpy, but the straight and narrow path doesn’t necessarily equate to happiness. Lack of adventure doesn’t mean success. You are writing your own movie, and the ending isn’t fixed. There is more to come, so play out the scenes how you want to see them. Be grateful instead of always wanting more. Maybe you aren’t meant to have more. Don’t let fear guide you. Comparison is a form of fear. It is not being confident in your own self to be strong on your own, no matter where that leaves you in the line-up. It is okay to be inspired by others, but don’t compare yourself to their aspirations. You are you. You have to be nice to yourself and learn to ignore the bully in your head. It’s time to be happy and to be free from comparison. So let those scores go, you are the winner of your own life.

04 Jun

BLOG 270 SHINGLES

Shingles is a painful virus. The pre-requisite is having had chicken pocks first, even if it was decades before. This is because they come from the same virus called varicella roster. Chickenpox causes itchy blisters that can spread on the body, typically in the chest and back areas. On the other hand, shingles is a rash that causes a shooting, painful, sensation. The rash usually stick to one location or side of the body. When the virus first enters the body as chickenpox, after running its course, it retreats to nerve tissues located near the spinal cord and brain just makes its home there. Then for almost no reason doctors can understand, the virus wakes itself up again. That is when shingles occurs which is also called herpes zoster. Doctors do know that a weakened immune system is of course more vulnerable to virus waking itself up.

Others heightened risks for shingles include trauma, stress, have cancer, HIV, or take medications that lower the immune system over time (such as steroids). The mystery is that these possible causes are not always true for everyone.

Going to see a doctor is pertinent especially if the person feels a tingling feeling under their skin, an upset stomach, fever, chills, and/or headache coupled with raised dots on the body. The area of the skin will feel like a stabbing pain and eventually the redness turns into blisters. Within 7 to 10 days the blisters do dry out and pain lessens. Shingles cannot be entirely cured, but the painful symptoms and longevity of the blisters can be reduced.
Shingles is contagious to those who have never had chickenpox or the vaccine for it. A person is contagious until the blisters have dried out and crusted over. Pregnant women, infants, and those with weak immune systems are susceptible.

Currently there are 2 vaccines available for shingles. These include Shingrix and Zostavax. Shingrix is actually considered 90% effective, so it is the preferred option. The CDC does recommend people over the age of 50 get this vaccination, even if they have had shingles before.
Shooting pain should be kept away. Anyone who has had the Chickenpox should be aware of possible triggers and any symptoms associated with shingles. As we always intend to, keeping stress at bay is important. Be aware of germs and germ filled environments. Your body and immune system appreciate self-care. Don’t let the virus in and vaccination becomes very important.

28 May

BLOG 269 TALKING TO OURSELVES

We all have conversations with ourselves. In fact, when we talk to ourselves, we are rationalizing, comforting, and reflecting upon our lives. This is a healthy habit, and some of us even find ourselves doing it out loud. You aren’t crazy and you aren’t strange, we just don’t often tell others about our inner chats, so we don’t even know that everyone else around us is doing it too. It’s our little secret with our mind. Didn’t your mom used to say that if she didn’t talk to herself then no one would listen?? There are a number of reasons why talking to yourself is beneficial.
1. Organizing your thoughts: You are making your game plan, your blue print, your strategy to the upcoming. It helps you prioritize what needs to be done and let go of the small things that shouldn’t carry weight. We are better able to logically understand that we don’t need to make a mountain out of a molehill.
2. Self-reliance: You are able to ask yourself how to solve the problem. Our inner voice helps us analyze a situation. We can come to conclusions independently.
3. Helps with stress: Your mind wanders and races as you worry and try to juggle life. Talking to yourself can be a pep talk or help you rehearse what you are going to do. This helps you face tough situations and increases confidence.
4. Eases loneliness: You don’t feel so alone when you have debates with yourself or feel like someone is listening and even talking back to you.
5. Allows you to determine your goals: You start to visualize the situations playing themselves out and talking out the lines to the play. This helps you decide what you really want to go after and accomplish.
6. You gain insight about yourself: What you say to yourself can reveal a lot about your inner desires. Your perspective when alone can be different compared to face to face with someone else because you are your only influence.
7. Increases self-esteem: Giving yourself compliments and encouragement makes you feel good and proud. You re-enforce to yourself that you can do something or that you should be proud of yourself.
8. Increases memory: We all talk to ourselves when we are trying to find something we have lost, like our car keys. We have to re-trace our steps and talk ourselves through what lead to the moment when the keys disappeared.
9. You feel more in control: Sometimes we need re-assurance or to hear someone else confirm that we are okay or doing something write. What better person than yourself.
10. You can increase your intelligence: When you rehearse, practice, organize your thoughts, and plan ahead, you aren’t scrambling in the moment when the situation arises. You self-talk a lot when taking a test, so all you have to do is re-call that conversation you had with yourself when you were studying. You are reproducing the talk.
Go ahead and jabber away to yourself. The benefits “speak” for themselves. And hey, you aren’t wasting your breath either.

22 May

BLOG 268 SELECTIVE SERATONIN REUPTAKE INHIBITORS (SSRIs)

The most commonly prescribed antidepressants are called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These medication works to increase levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is an important chemical messenger (neurotransmitter) that signals communication between brain cells. More serotonin becomes available as SSRIs block the re-uptake of serotonin so that more is ready for use.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved the following SSRIs:
• Citalopram (Celexa)
• Escitalopram (Lexapro)
• Fluoxetine (Prozac)
• Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva)
• Sertraline (Zoloft)
• Vilazodone (Viibryd)

The FDA requires that these medications are labeled with the type of warning called “black box warnings”. This is because some people can have an increase in suicidal thoughts or behaviors when taking an antidepressant.
The chemical makeup of these different prescriptions can cause side effects. For some, these subside within the few couple weeks, while others lead to trying a different type. Possible side effects include dizziness, drowsiness, blurred vision, headache, agitation, nausea, or diarrhea. Taking the medication at bedtime can help with drowsiness and taking the medication with food can help with nausea. It is important to consider drug interactions if taking other medication and one should consult their doctor if pregnant and taking an SSRI. The key is to consistently take the medication. SSRIs are not considered addictive, but missing doses or abruptly stopping their use can cause withdrawl. It typically takes several weeks for an SSRI to become effective. It is common for doses to have to be adjusted or medications to be switched until the right combination is found.

Although the objective of SSRIs is to treat depression, some people respond differently to certain types. One person can have very different side effects from another person. Patience is critical. Relief will come. When feelings of sadness are so severe that they interfere with daily life, physical and emotional problems can result. Feelings that cause home life and work life to be difficult should be addressed. Depression is one of the most treatable conditions. Most times, 80% of people feel relief when using SSRIs. The brain chemistry can be positively changed to help you feel better. Feelings of sadness can be controlled, and emotions can be regulated. SSRIs specifically target serotonin which can in turn help fight depression, as well as anxiety, and other mood disorders. Some people have side effects and some do not. When the time is right, one can reduce dosage and come off this medication, but this should never be done abruptly. We are meant to smile and enjoy life, and SSRIs provide the assistance and potential relief to do so. Talking to your doctor is important to find the right solution and treatment for depression that works for you.

14 May

Living an active lifestyle is highly recommended and preventative medicine for your health. When it comes to getting some Vitamin D, fresh air, and those steps in, hiking might be your choice of exercise modality to meet those needs. There are of course all different levels of this activity, which can be said for most forms of exercise. Hiking is a great way to beat the boredom of the gym and mix up your routine. Here are some other reasons to get trekking:
1. Hiking can help strengthen your bones. This activity slows down the rate at which calcium is lost in the body. This in turn helps strengthens the bones and reducing the risk of breaks and other complications such as osteoporosis and arthritis.
2. Your stamina can increase form this aerobic exercise. The onset of fatigue can be delayed further and further. The uphill aspect strengthens the calf muscles while the downhill can strengthen the quadriceps. Hiking is a remedy to fight natural fatigue.
3. It helps weight loss. Hiking can burn up to 400 calories in one hour. Challenging areas have the potential to burn even more. Then of course complementing this activity with a healthy diet can really propel weight loss.
4. Hiking can reduce stress. Spending time in the wild and nature can calm the mind and body. It is a great method to escape the noise of people and technology.
5. Hiking is inexpensive. All you need are some good shoes and some water.
6. You can monitor your progress. You can chart your improvements for distance and/or time and can increase in the intensity of trails you climb. You set the pace and you decide.
7. Hiking tones the whole body. Adding a weighted pack to the trail can also increase this effect. There are inclines, rocks, and all sorts of changes to the surface that tone the legs while you use the arms to propel you forward.
8. You can lower your blood sugar and help control diabetes. This workout makes your glucose come into play and enters the bloodstream to give you energy.
9. It can be social. Take a friend, group, or join a hiking group. Walking and talking and finding a common interest can be motivating and inspiring.
10. Hiking can help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. A body in motion makes your systems have to work this in turn helps reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Your body and heart appreciate the movement and will repay you with good health.
There are so many trails to explore and hiking is a creative form of exercise with so many added benefits. The world is yours to see, so take in the scenery as you work your heart and body, and hey even work on that tan.

07 May

BLOG 266 INSOMNIA
Difficulty falling or staying asleep might be associated with insomnia. People with insomnia also wake up and have trouble going back to sleep, wake up very early in the morning, or feel very tired upon waking. Insomnia actually comes in two forms:
1. Primary insomnia: Sleep problems exist that are not associated with other problems or health conditions.
2. Secondary insomnia: Sleep problems are the result of something else such as asthma, cancer, arthritis, heartburn, pain, or substance abuse.
Duration also varies among people. Insomnia might be short lived (acute) for some people while others might have long lasting troubles (chronic). Acute insomnia might be caused by stress, emotional problems, noises, light, medications, illness, or adjusting to changes in life. Chronic insomnia is classified as not being able to sleep well for at least three night a week for three months or longer. It could be caused by depression/anxiety, pain, or ongoing stress.

Insomnia can be disruption to someone’s wellbeing. They might feel irritable, generally tired, have trouble concentrating, and have a constant feeling of sleepiness. A doctor will evaluate a person’s sleep patterns and even interview the person that they might sleep with about their behaviors. Looking at medical history and sleep history are useful. Sometimes a doctor will refer the patient to a sleep center or specialist.

Acute insomnia might not require treatment. It may go away on its own. Sleeping pills might be prescribed for a limited time until regularity is re-established. However, over-the-counter pills should not be used to treat insomnia. They can have undesired side effects. Chronic insomnia can be treated with behavioral therapy in order to make the necessary changes to promote sleep. This might involve relaxation exercises, reconditioning, and sleep restriction therapy.

There are some useful practices to help with sleep. A person should avoid light before bed such as reading lights or screens. Getting regular exercise can help. Try to establish a regular bedtime and wake up time. Not eating heavy before bed can help. Try to create a quit, nice temperature setting that is sleep inducing. If worrying keeps the person awake at night, they might try making a to-list to settle the mind.

Sleep is part of our daily cycle and when it is compromised, the body and mind do not function optimally. Sleep is not mean to be short changed, so seek help when lack of nighttime shut eye becomes a problem that is impacting your daytime functioning.