Saturday, February 27, 2010

agave agape

the unwavering love of natural in our dietary nazis is unquestionably reserved for those overly suspicious of technology, industry, mass marketing, and government. i know some are truly concerned for health matters but argue vigorously against those who contend some conspiracy to create physiological and metabolic genocide in search of the dollar. and, while this one article alone doesn't debunk the entire health food industry's claims on behalf of other natural products, such as agave, in opposition to the unnatural ones, such as sugar, it does make one think, if you dare: what else out there, sold for lots more than its worth, is just as much a scam, and potentially even more dangerous to health, than those vilified foods they are marketed to replace? in other words, is natural vitamin E better at propagating the diseases pharm-grade E has been found to exacerbate? bottom line, in my humble view, is to eat more foods less processed and eat more processed foods that have less sugar, salt, fat, and preservatives. that allows for breakfast cereals, etc along with produce that can be purchased at your local grocery store. it aint' perfect but why live perfect at the dinner table if you have to drive further in your big car wearing fancy clothes brought over from europe or china after visiting your local gym with all its imported-from-china exercise equipment with your starbucks 3-times-as-expensive get the picture.|htmlws-main-w|dl9|link4|

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

to sit or not to sit

there are many reasons to not read this blog: don't want to learn anything, don't want to read my rantings, don't want to be healthier. the main reason, tho, is you don't want to sit long enough to do so. therefore, read this article on the physiology of sitting. as a point of discussion, let me quote this one section and explain:

.....The implication is that when you sit, a crucial part of your metabolism slows down.
Nor is lipoprotein lipase the only molecule affected by muscular inactivity. Actively contracting muscles produce a whole suite of substances that have a beneficial effect on how the body uses and stores sugars and fats.
Which might explain the following result. Men who normally walk a lot (about 10,000 steps per day, as measured by a pedometer) were asked to cut back (to about 1,350 steps per day) for two weeks, by using elevators instead of stairs, driving to work instead of walking and so on. By the end of the two weeks, all of them had became worse at metabolizing sugars and fats. Their distribution of body fat had also altered — they had become fatter around the middle. Such changes are among the first steps on the road to diabetes.

at issue here is how our bodies process fats vs sugars. apparently, even a little bit of extra motion, esp walking, activates fat burning mechanisms that, when not being stimulated, revert to metabolic and physiologic disturbances akin to disease states, like diabetes. while a single day won't produce such results, a lifetime of sitting could, and does.

 so, as you read this, tap your toes, wiggle your ears, and change your sitting posture....then get up and walk.

Monday, February 22, 2010

childhood obesity

the challenge is enormous - how to get kids eating properly if their parents don't or won't. in other words, in a society where there are many lifestyle options, there is no legitimate way to get folks to act in accordance with any one set of standards, let alone dietary. so even the word 'properly' leaves much to the imagination - is that regional, sectional, sectarian, national, racial, etc? the one thing, tho, that seems to be equally resonant is medical, and kids in western, industrialized, or simply affluent countries, like America, are getting fatter faster than evolution can mitigate. thus, the schools may be our best bet to get them to change lifestyle patterns, despite what they experience at home, and maybe just maybe effect nominal changes in RATE of wt gain until adulthood. perhaps, too, lessons will carry over such that good choices can be made in their, and their offspring's, futures. or perhaps we're just dreaming.....

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

on toe or heel

seems a lot is being published in the area of feet and running. i've commented before on this in regards to barefoot vs shod running. we have that choice, unlike our fellow land animals, and we've chosen, for the most part, shod. so scientists keep checking things out to see how economical it is, both muscularly and physiologically. this study - - highlights the differences between running on the heels vs on the balls of the feet, and makes all the right claims: faster runners don't hit the heel, but heel walking is more efficient. anthropologically, it makes sense: we're basically all day walkers - go to africa and note the masai walking with their herds all day looking for grasses and water. they can run, and we are designed to do so generally on the balls of our feet, to escape or capture for survival. note that efficiency differs from effectiveness: if you wish to hurry, you'd be more effective rapidly getting onto the balls of the feet; if you wish to get there, without getting winded or sore, heel-toe works fine.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

3 ways to battle childhood obesity

a recent study in Pediatrics reported:
The study, which included 8,550 4-year-olds from around the United States, found that children who ate dinner with their families more than five times a week, slept for at least 10.5 hours a night, and watched less than two hours of TV a day were 40 percent less likely to be obese than children who did none of those things.
Roughly one in seven children who practiced all three of the behaviors was obese, compared with one in four youngsters who practiced none of them, according to the study, which was published in Pediatrics. (for the article on this study, see

my friend sarcastically sent this to me with the comments that you need to: be rich, white, and college educated. his points were not far off the mark in that you did have to be in a stable household the likelihood of which is easier and more common in college educated and wealthier households. as for being white, well, statistically speaking, more college educated and financially secure people are white, or the obverse of this is that more obese, tv-watching, broken family, single parent, undereducated kids are minorities. that's a sad state of affairs for our nation and our society, but speaks to issues way deeper than the BMI of these kids. and i'm not going to comment on the socio-economics or racial politics that contribute but do not cause childhood obesity.

another study reported the other day ( that the food ads in movies and on tv that kids are exposed to may be a greater indicator of poor nutrition choice-making than the number of hours in front of the screen. thus, tv and video movies, the study concluded, are more damaging than video games or computer time. regardless the statistics, i think the one thing that is clear and evident is that we move way less than we were designed to move, and that those in rougher environments, be it home-based or neighborhood-based, have fewer options to engage in safe, free play. if i sound pessimistic, it's because i am. however, i have some hope that some can change. that's why personal training, and someday maybe public facilities will be able to offer some elements of it and group training even to the underprivileged, can impact the tide of obesity that's running over the US. it's also why i firmly believe in educating my clients so that they can understand that it's not just a matter of choice, not for kids and maybe not for many adults. there is a huge element of strength of will to make  the kinds of changes necessary to stem the tide. it's what and why i believe educated personal trainers are worth seeking out.

Monday, February 8, 2010

picking the right parents

we all know genetics factors in on such things as hair color, facial appearance, body types, etc. some of these we can only change by seeing professionals with expertise in drastic, or in the case of hair non-drastic, measures. but we think if only we exercise, we can get better - better endurance, strength, flexibility, balance or whatever. and the truth is, for the most part, that is right. but why do some get better faster or to a greater degree than others?

the study cited actually tested a very large number of subjects by training them for several weeks after testing their aerobic capacity and doing genetic tests. what they found was that some improved by up to 15% but others only 5%. and they found 11 genetic indicators of why this occurs...and you have NO control over those. so what can you control?

you can still benefit in a variety of ways from an exercise program. as the study concludes, we need to customize training according to what you can best expect to excel. some might do better with more resistance training, others more cardio. the truth is, however, we can all benefit from some of each, plus more of what will enhance our performance goals. whether we're preparing for the 2012 Olympics or the birth of our first grandchild, exercise - intentional activity designed to improve any or all variables of fitness - is good for you.

so, pick the right genes for the future if you're into making cardio kids, but yours are already determined. make the best of them, and start moving.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

new wt loss drug that acts like exercise??

we fitness professionals have much to fear from big Pharm: someday a drug will be developed that will remove one of the major impetus, or is it impeti, for people who seek out our services. well, maybe that drug is here:

while i would not be opposed to a drug like this hitting the market since it could help many who are simply unwilling or unable to help themselves drop the excess wt that's contributing to their personal and our national health care crises, i am reluctant to either fear or tout it. when phen-fen  hit the market ~20 yrs ago, and some of my clients got scripts for it, they continued to exercise believing that there were many other, more easily achieved benefits to it than a drug could offer. and i agree; i won't even go into the list but most of you know them. in fact, the likelihood of exercise helping you lose significant amounts of wt is slim, unless bolstered by substantial dietary restraint. and that's why i'm not about to tout the benefits of any drug or drugs when it comes to wt loss. there will be some - i would not venture to guess but i'd say quite a bit - who will succeed in using the drug without abusing the privilege of being able to eat more while take a drug to help you lose more. but there will be many more who will see the big mac as an option now that they can take a pill to counter its caloric boom. furthermore, losing wt helps with some elements of good health but activity would still be helpful for all the others, including keeping the wt off.

but the biggest reason i'm not afraid of a drug, especially the one discussed in this article, is that the side effects are yet determined. it took a few years before the heart valve issues of phen-fen reached a critical mass that took it off the market and instigated lawsuits. believe me- any drug that helps you lose the wt you'd lose by walking 20 minutes will have cardiovascular implications for those whose systems are already compromised by being overwt. so, fitness pros, relax: this new miracle drug will drive folks back into your clutches within 2 yrs of their taking the drug, and within 5 yrs of it being on the market. the rules of wt loss remain consistent with newtonian physics: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, whether it's eating too much or exercising too little, you're still going to gain wt.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

shoeless running

last week i discussed the idea of running shoeless; today another article popped up about this that concludes shoes make us run differently than we would if barefoot. whereas the previous article suggested not to run on solid, hard surfaces, this one suggests barefoot would still soften the impact of foot strike as you'd be hitting with the forefoot, not the heel. it cautions against injury by undertaking too much too soon - the same caution any prospective runner, or athlete, should keep in mind. but it offers one more thing to do before undertaking this mode of running: read the book referred to in the article. the process is one of gradual progression in terms of time, speed, distance, and surface. i just recommended to a client to do so on an indoor rubberized track first, progress to an outdoor track after which, over time, the callous on the foot will be strong enough to handle some concrete/asphalt running. will it protect against broken bottles or other sharp pointy objects? no, not yet, so keep your eyes looking about 6 ft in front of you. if done right, your muscles will be adapted by the time your feet look like a third-world native's. if you can handle appearances, go for it. i can tell you this, from my tae kwon do days, for a guy, some callous isn't bad. but you women may not like the look, or feel: