Tuesday, December 22, 2009

the best gifts are free!!

the best gifts are free,
are rarely ever found underneath the Christmas tree.
the gift of love,
particularly the love from heaven above,
this is the gift we need to enjoy more of.

instead of cookies, and candies, and cakes,
let's give thanks for all the wonders He makes,
the oceans and skies,
things that give us natural highs...
far from things that money buys.

the love in our hearts,
and the warmth it imparts,
one genuine smile,
goes for mile upon mile-
never going out of style.

an innocent hug and a kiss,
should make any gift list,
Never expecting a thing.
No sadness this brings,
the heart freely sings.
and all heaven rings....

no wrappers are needed,
no boxes and glitz,
a free loving heart,
from the end of year to the start.

a genuine love for each other-
this is what we need to discover
under our trees,
and upon our knees.
the best gifts are always free!!

as we celebrate our Lord's birth,
the God of heaven and earth,
ask yourself what this is worth...
his love for you,
tried and true,
through and through.

this season let's love
by being gentle as a dove,
not bickering,
backbiting and snickering.
no package can be,
anywhere worthy,
of the true love we have from above...

Season's greetings.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Sometimes life can seem so perfect. For example, being warm and safe listening to the rain tapping gently on the roof. The air full of the spicy, simplicity of pumpkin oatmeal loaf, ( low fat, all natural... of course.) my puppy rolled up next to me, my classes this morning vibrant and alive.... what more could I ask for? Simple and delicious... If only moments like this lasted for more than just a moment! (Then again, why can't all moments be appreciated for the fullness of what they are. Even the moments that are a little less warm and toasty, do have a purpose.... if you let them.)
Feeling warm and toasty, I plunked down in front of my computer, time to check out my e-mail. A newsletter from a well respected trainer in the industry was lurking in my mail. I boldly opened the letter, knowing it would probably trigger a surge of memories. Low and behold, I was not disappointed.
Only one short year ago, I had the pleasure of attending a 3-day mentorship at Todd Durkin's studio, Fitness Quest 10, in San Diego, California. It was a crazy experience for me. The thrill of visiting "a real trainers' studio," to hear and see see all that goes into a world class facility.
Wow!! You see, Todd is not your "average trainer, " he trains clients from the "average Joe's" to the Drew Brees catagory. He has been named trainer of the year on several occasions by more than one professional organization, published in health magazine, part of the Under Armor new "Prototype of Training" (and, yes, I wear it- with purpose.). He is a trainers' trainer. (I have been blessed to touch base with more than one trainer of outstanding ability.)
What a great experience and opportunity to learn from one of the best... and to top it off -I was sicker than I'd been in years! Humbling, to say the least. Naturally, I wanted to be "part of the group," but definetely felt "out of the loop. I felt so "out of the loop" that I am sure I was even visibly shaking!! Right about then, I decided to get as much as I could out of this experience as humanly possible. I brought back much from this very memorable opportunity, on many levels. Goals and business being one aspect, group and personal training ideas, yet another, but probably a much deeper sense of self. Self and those terrible fears that are ingrained in all of us, it seems, fears that predetermine failure. Paralyzing fears that stop us from being all we can be. What we are predisposed to be. It was a investigation of the spirit within. I continue to this day to challenge that faithless spirit. Without faith, commitment and direction you are destined to travel the road of discontent for a very long time.
The email was a jolt to the senses. It was entitled, "Make your Dream Come True." I opened it to find the same positive, goal driven Todd that I has met a year ago. A real re-awakening of the experience only a year behind me. I thought it would be good to share with you some of the key thoughts from the newsletter, particularly as we approach the end of another year.
I hope you get out a piece of paper, I did. As he explains, in order to make your dreams come true, you need order, a plan, something tangeable you can see, feel, real, touch.... something in your face. People who achieve their goals have clear mental pictures of exactly what it is they are striving for. Write down the following questions, leave room to expand on your answers.
1) Where you in your life right now? Think personal, business/work, home life and spiritually. Reflect on each aspect individually. Where do you excel? Where are you lack?
2) Are you truly content with YOU? Once again think of each aspect of what makes you you.
3)Are you achieving your goals, dreams, visions in these aspects of your life?
4)Do you live in a state of harmony where your values, talents and skills are aligned in your daily experiences? ( This is my favorite question, really focus on each aspect.)
5) What is preventing you from living in a state of harmony? Do you love life, or fear life?
In order to experience our personal best in this life, it is good to have an action plan.
Now that you can see some things emerging on paper, what are you going to do to make the changes to create more harmony, more alignment?
Continue to write, over the next few weeks, an actual plan for change. See it, taste it, pray it, believe it. Make a general plan for the next 3-5 years. The "Big Picture," and break that into smaller pieces, such as one year from right now. From that what can you do in the next 90 days that can produce momentum towards those dreams? It is your momentum that creates change. Keep reproducing that energy, drive and commitment every 90 days. Soon that three year dream will be here. Faith, integrity and perseverance.
Happy New Year to you... and all you can be!! Live and exude an attitude of gratitude, you will be amazed how much easier things are when you live realizing the blessings we enjoy- on a daily basis. Live in the now... plan for the future.

Thanks for the email, Todd! God bless you!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Groin, Hip and Hamstring Exercises

Gary is amazing!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Low Back Pain, Workplace Prevention.

Often times, when we are preoccupied with the challenges of daily living, we do things that will place our backs at risk for herniations, end plate fractures ( loss of nuclear fluid), strains and other painful conditions. Although the individual workers play a role in their relative wellness, the employer must be a partner to provide successful outcomes.
Many feel that wearing a abdominal bracing belt will prevent injuries to the low back. This has been well studied and has been frequently noted to cause a loss of range of motion in the lower back. Additionally, during lifting exercises back belts have been linked to increases in blood pressure and heart rate. (Hunter and Colleages, 1989)It appears that during lifting activities with the belt on the blood pressure was elevated by up to 15mmHg, the heart rate was also significantly effected. This leaves individuals that have a compromised cardiovascular system at risk for vascular problems, and possible stroke. Additional studies have also shown that belts lower mean oxygen consumption. (Low Back Pain, Stuart McGill, 2007)
A better approach is to develop programs to help the employee learn better strategies to execute the work needed. Some individuals simply do not move in ways that are back sparing. In a study by McGill in 2003, they noted that workers who had a history of back troubles has a history of "adopting motion patterns that resulted in higher spinal loads!" They concluded that "Kinematic patterns need to be practiced and grooved into movement repertoires." It is evident certain individuals need to practice spine- saving movement patterns every day, especially prior to any heavy lifting to ensure that the movement pattern is successful. Even high performance athletes, it is noted, should practice grooved motion patterns on a daily basis.
Another strategy to prevent over-stressed tissue damage is the optimizing the workers rest break to ensure that the opposite muscle group is activated. It is suggested that a administrative secretary uses their rest break to perform a dynamic movement break. In a study in the 1960's, operators in a power plant responded to a buzzer at 10 minute intervals. The controllers needed to get up out of their chairs and going around the corner to the control panel to make adjustments. There were no incidents of back problems. There were changes made, due to the impression that getting up so frequently was "too strenuous." The job was redesigned so that workers remained seated through the 12 hour shift. There was an increase in back problems, and other related problems. In the final analysis, it appears it is crucial for back health to stand up and take "active" breaks regularly.
More successful programs incorporate the use of variable positioning, or multi-tasking. It has been noted that human beings were not meant to perform repetitive work that emphasizes only a few muscles, or tissues. It has also been noted that "too little activity can be just as problematic as too much. Krismer and colleagues' study (2001) strongly reinforced the idea that the object of good work design is not to make the job easier; in fact some jobs should be made more demanding for optimal health. Good occupational health from a musculoskeletal perspective is achieved when people perform a variety of tasks with well designed rest activities, along with traditional components such as proper nutrition, stress management, sleep, and avoidance of alcohol and cigarettes." (Stuart McGill PhD, Low Back Pain, 2007)
Another aspect in workplace prevention is the designing of ergonomic work areas. The seating and all equipment should be "user friendly." When companies look for effective ways of cutting cost in Workers Compensation cases related to low back injuries they nee d to consider working hand-in-hand- with the worker to eliminate undo stress do to unnatural postures, with creates stress upon tissue, creating pain and damage. In conjunction with a physical activity plan, a personalized plan for each persons work station should be implemented. This avoids many claims, costs and injuries in the long run. Often the worker will have the greatest insight into a solution for any intervention from their experience/s. Another added benefit to having the worker/s involved is that they are more likely to comply is they are part of the process.
These are a few key ideas that have been well studied, and documented, in regard to the very costly, and painful, topic of low back pain in relation to the workplace. It is estimated that 80 percent of all adults in North America will experience low back pain. It is the most common reason for visits to seek help from a physician. We have to think in terms of prevention, and seek spine saving alternatives to how we currently operate.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Low Back Pain.. Popular Misconceptions.

Often when we experience an "injury." we assume that one particular event created the problem, or pain. How many times have you woken up with a stiff neck, or shoulder, and thought- "I must have slept on it wrong."Or bent over to pick something up and "thrown out your back?" Often these isolated circumstances are not the true culprits to the painful situation. They are part of a much larger picture, an ongoing "mechanical" problem in day to day living. Often it is continuous overload in various positions/ postures that compromise the tissue. These "positions" you may not even realize contribute to the break down of the tissues, creating a weakness, leading to pain and disfunction.
Our bodies are remarkable at adapting to situations, sometime a little too remarkable. If placed in the same "unnatural" (not anatomically correct) position for too long, the body will adapt to the position. It will assume this position, create a new habit of holding itself this way- the muscles will "adapt" to the environment that it is placed in. Often when an individual has a desk job, for example, the will assume certain "postural" tendencies from the seated position at their desk. The individual may develop shoulder problems, and low back problems in conjunction with the chronic" position that their body spends their time. We lose our optimal alignment. These alignment problems influence the entire body. The skeletal system, muscular system, and motor systems are all effected. This created imbalances- imbalances create pain.
If left unchecked, these imbalances create larger imbalances. They can even lead to "inhibition", or loss of function entirely.
Being that each individual is unique in their circumstances, there is no one exercise that fits all. Each persons history (health and injury), age, work environment, nutrition, hydration, hobbies and habits, emotional state and various other factor, effect the approach to be taken. However, there are certain precautions that can be taken to avoid trauma to the tissue(s).
Often we hear of an approach that worked for someone else, and we are compelled to follow suit. Unfortunately, many of these approaches are unscientific, with no real basis. Kind of a "feel good" philosophy. Such feel good approaches would be:
1) Stretching, lifting and twisting first thing in the morning to alleviate "stiffness. While it may "feel" like a great idea,it has no scientific basis. Your spine, during the course of the evening, obtains water through a process called osmosis. You are actually a little taller in the morning when you get up! Stretching with this additional water will not only stretch your muscles, but increase the incidence of damage to discs and also your ligaments. Adams, Dolan and Hutton (1987) noted that disc bending stresses were increased by 300%, and ligament stress by 80%. (Low Back Disorders, McGill PhD 2007). The is an actual loss of up to 19mm in height through the course of the day, 54% of this loss occurs in the first 30 minutes of raising. Full spinal flexion, or bending over, and twisting should be avoided first thing in the morning.
2)Muscles strengthening exercises are required for a "bad back." Although it does "feel good"
to work the large muscles in the area, and there is a school of thought that has created the misconception that the back is "weak" and need strengthening, this too is unscientific. Research has proven that muscular endurance is more protective than muscular strength (Luoto and Colleagues, 1995). There has been no correlation between muscular strength and back pain. There are exercises devoted to spinal endurance that have been scientifically proven to improve, and prevent, low back pain.
3)Bent knee sit up are "good for the back. This is a large misconception. While abdominal muscles are part of the "hoop" system that helps stabilize and protect the low back, bent knee sit ups are NOT the answer to obtaining them, or helping your back pain. One single double leg sit up, or "crunch" is potentially enough compression to damage your spine....ONE. "Each sit up produces low back compression levels close to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) action limit of 3300 Neutons (N),and repeatedly compressing the spine to levels higher than the NIOSH limit has been shown to increase the risk of back disorders... Thus making this an ill-chosen exercise."(Axler and McGill, 1997) Other exercises to be avoided, based upon these standards (Compression in excess of 3300 N) would be:
a) Straight leg sit-ups. 3506 N.
b)Prone (facing down) extension (on machine.) 4000 N (or 890 lbs.)
c) Prone (facing down) extension with arm and legs lifted off of the ground. 6000 N (or 1300 lbs.)
d) Single arm push ups. 5848N.
e)Alternating push ups. 6224 N.
f)Hanging, bent knee. 3313 N.
As mentioned earlier, a single exercise, or exercise program is not the cure all for all cases of low back pain. Many personalized factors need to considered and evaluated. Obviously, previously considered "cure- alls" have been shown to have no real scientific basis, quite the contrary. A proper full assessment is a prerequisite for any program, no matter what the goal is.
I hope that this article has provided you with some insight into proper care, prevention and care for your spine. I found some of this research to be life changing in regards to the way I train my clients, and approach my own personal exercise programs.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Diabetes and Exercise

Diabetes affects more than 20 million Americans and a staggering 6 million Americans go undiagnosed. Many sufferers are diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus meaning, "Sweet Honey Flowing."
There are two types of Diabetes Mellitus, type one and type two. Type one is due to an autoimmune response that destroys the pancreatic beta cells. This stops the production of insulin, and creates hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Because these individuals cannot produce their own insulin they must rely on an external source to supply the much needed hormone. Type one Diabetes only effects 5-10 percent of all diabetics. It is also characterized as a disease that effects individuals in their younger years, once labeled "juvenile diabetes."
Type two is the most prevalent in society today, and this article will focus it's attention on exercise for the type two diabetic. (There is a "prescription" for type one, as well) In 80 percent of the cases the individual is considered to be obese. Obesity is defined as a waist circumference of 100 cm men (approx. 40"), and 85 cm for women (approx. 35".) Other measurements that define obesity are body fat reading that are greater than 25% for men, and 30% for women. (ACSM) (It is interesting to note that 58% of Americans want to loose weight, and only 21% are trying.) Type two diabetes is best impacted by diet modification, exercise and oral medications. Only 40 percent of type two diabetic require insulin injections. It seems lifestyle modification is key.
Many believe that because they do not eat sugar that the are not at risk for diabetes. This is not necessarily true. Diabetes is a disorder that is developed due to a condition referred to as insulin resistance. With insulin resistance there is glucose available in the blood stream from the food you eat, but this glucose is denied access into the cells/muscle tissue to produce energy. The insulin receptors on the cell do not let the glucose in- they are insulin resistant. The sugar builds in the blood steam until it reaches a levels where it damages small vessels, usually the eyes, kidneys and other smaller vessels. Factors that increase the risk of type two diabetes are obesity, older age, family history, and physical inactivity. (American Diabetes Association 1994)
Physical inactivity is an essential part in the prevention, and management of diabetes. An effective exercise program contains various components, such as periodized cardiovascular training, comprehensive resistance training (or strength training), personalized flexibility training, balance and proprioceptive/movement based training, core training, and nutrition. While this may look a little overwhelming, think of it as a goal. Something to be achieved a little at a time. The best and easiest way to start is by walking, and revamping the diet. The emphasis should be on reducing excess weight, lowering cholesterol, lowering triglycerides, and eliminating processed foods (white flour, white sugar, processed meats, and processed foods containing trans-fats ( such as bakery items)). This can be done in baby steps, remember it is a process.
A walking program is a great way to get moving, and instigate positive change. It is something that can be done every day, and it is something that can be done progressively, meaning you can add small easy, achievable challenges to a walking program. The suggested guidelines for cardiovascular training for an individual with type two diabetes is a program consisting of five to seven days a week of activity using the larger muscles groups (ie walking, jogging, bike riding, low/non-impact movement (even dancing!!)- optimally the individual would use a variety of modalities to cross train the muscle groups) for 40- 60 minutes per day. Remember, this is the goal. (While it may be intimidating at first, remember- this is what you are building up to!! Smaller sessions are accumulative, also.)
The intensity level should be rather easy to start, progressing to a faster pace, or even a slight incline, where the exerciser becomes somewhat breathless. If the person is using a heart rate monitor (highly encouraged, you can "see" how hard you are working, and you can "see" how you progress.) you would be working at 50-60% of your maximal heart rate to begin with, working your way gradually to 60-70% of your maximal heart rate. High intensity intervals are not recommended, as there is a risk of further elevation of blood glucose (Gordon, 1995: Hornsby, 1995) Remember, these guidelines can also be goals to aspire to! Small steps are often the best placed ones.
In addition to cardiovascular activity the ACSM (American College of Sport Medicine) and the ADA (American Diabetes Association) recommends activities to build muscle, as well as burn calories. Cardiovascular activity is a great way to burn calories. Strength training, or resistance training, is a great way to build up skeletal muscle to help overcome the problem of insulin resistance. The ADA suggests strength training three times per week, targeting all muscle groups. They suggest a progression up to 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions, using a weight that cannot be lifted more than 8-10 times.(Diabetes Care June 2006) Once again, this is a progression. It is not recommended to work out to exhaustion. Also, limit isometric contractions to lessen exercise induced blood pressure elevations. (ACE Clinical Exercise Manual Exercise Training for Special Populations, Larry Verity, PhD, F.A.C.S.M.)
In conjunction with the strength training protocol, a proper flexibility program should be implemented. Such a program would address chronic postural issues, and muscular imbalances. Paying careful attention to not stretch muscles that do not need to be stretched. A proper flexibility program can be done at home on a daily basis and can actually be used to aid in stress management.
Other considerations for exercising diabetics related to blood glucose variations. One such condition is called "hyperglycemia.' This condition usually arrises when the blood glucose levels are not being well controlled. Poor control would indicate glucose levels of 250mg/dl, and higher, prior to exercise, in which the exercise session would be postponed. It is suggested that you should see your physical if the situation does not improve.
Another glucose relate problem to watch for in an exercising diabetic program is hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. In this case the individual would experience dizziness, instability, nervousness, confusion, and even possibly loose consciousness. A good way to reduce the risk of experiencing hypoglycemia would be exercising mid-morning, after a balanced breakfast. It is suggested that exercise does not take place for at least one hour before the exercise session, and preferably not injected into an area of the body that will be used in the exercises. It is essential to monitor blood glucose, self-blood monitoring, before any activity. Exercise should be performed when the reading is between 100-250 mg/dl. If the level is lower, a carbohydrate snack should be consumed.
Other recommendations for exercising type two diabetics are:
1) Check with your physician before starting any type of an exercise program. Make sure that there are no additional considerations. ( ie hypertension or small vessel diseases.)
2)Keep a daily log which indicated time of day, blood glucose level, type of activity, intensity of activity, snack requirements (if any), and any other details that may be revalent.
3) Always self-blood monitor!!
4)Plan your exercise sessions. This should help determine if a snack will be required.
5)Always exercise with a partner. This is your support system in the event of hypoglycemia, or other complications. You should work with a partner until it is clear what the glucose response will be for that particular activity.
6) Always wear Diabetes I.D.
7)Always wear good shoes to minimize foot irritation. They should not be too loose, or too tight. To prevent foot irritation use Vaseline on the feet, and wear the socks inside out.
8) Modify calories intake accordingly on days of exercise, and following physical activity. Self-blood monitoring can help you modify your intake of calories, if needed. Insulin requiring diabetics can prevent latent post exercise hypoglycemia by monitoring their blood sugar levels carefully. Other factors are to be considered before starting an exercise program. Always check with your physician before starting any program.
Diabetes does not have to be life sentence. With proper control, healthful eating and an enjoyable exercise program life can be full of wonderful experiences! Grasp onto life, find things you love do do that are new challenges, and do them! The human body is so remarkable, fire it up to your true potential, and start living!!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Diabetes Prevention and Healthful Living -Part One

With Diabetes so rampant in society today, what can you do to safe guard yourself, and your family, from this serious disease? Diabetes education starts very young. It is important to take the time with your children to instill proper eating habits. If they are not fond of vegetables, do not give in. Vegetables, and other critical nutrients, are essential in a healthy diet, and lifestyle. Find creative ways of presenting things that they resist. Interesting shapes and colors are ways of "presenting" vegetables, and other items, to the discerning young pallet. Make it into a game if you have to, presentation is everything to curious growing children.
Remember, healthy eating is important for your child to do well in school.
According to recent studies less than 15% of all school age children eat the recommended amount of fruits for the Food Guide Pyramid, and less than 20% eat the recommended amounts of vegetables, only about 20% eat the right amount of WHOLE grains (processed white floor is not a whole grain), 30% consume the recommended amount of milk (necessary for growing bones.) (Nutrition For Professionals, Jane Penz, PhD, 2009) Childhood obesity is a national epidemic. These children need proper guidance, starting at home, at a very early age. "Unhealthy eating and physical inactivity are causes of obesity and chronic disease, resulting in at least 300,000 deaths per year. Poor nutrition associated with heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes, alone, cost in excess of $71 billion a year" (These statistics were in 2003, Dr Jane Penz.) For the exact guidelines for your family, and a variety of educational materials, check out mypyramid.gov and click on resource library. Kid Health (www.kidhealth.org) is another nutritional site to help you with family meal planning, eating issues, and how to eat a variety of healthy foods.
Food is a necessary element for survival. We need it for energy to maintain life. Sure it's great to enjoy your food- and we should! We can learn to enjoy healthy, wholesome, natural foods at an early age. We can learn to eat proper portions- at an early age. The key is the age. Snacks do not have to be greasy potato chips. They could just as easily be carrot sticks with humous- at an early age. You program your child at a young age as to what their preferences will be. If you are health conscious, your child will be too! They are imitators of you! Chips and cakes and ice cream are not necessary for a happy child, or person- health is!! Watermelon and seasonal fruits are just as a enjoyable, with very little preparation time- and a fraction of the real cost in the final analysis.
Exercise is the other missing link in this puzzle. Our children need to be encouraged to get outside and participate in something! Family outings can consist of hiking, running, walking, physical sports and a variety of things. It is truly endless what can be done together. Once again this should be instilled at an early age. Their is not time like the present with your children. Encourage them to participate in school sport and other outdoor activities. And, once again, if you are active- they probably will be too.
If you and your spouse are overweight, or obese, there is an 80% chance that your child will be as well. This is a lifestyle issue we are discussing. True prevention of obesity and chronic disease and illness are issues that start early in life, in the home. It is important to take the time for valuable sit down meals with a balanced, healthful menu. Menu's can be prepared in advance on days off. Extra portions can be frozen for future meals. Planning is the key to success. There are plenty of magazines and web-sites that feature a variety of low fat, high fiber balanced meals that promote good health for the whole family. I subscribed to 'Prevention" on line. They send me a steady stream of recipes that can be pre-made and can be enjoyed at any family meal. Remember, home is where it all begins!! You hold the key to your child's good health, and habits.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Stay Young, Play Young.... Exercise!

Remember when you were little and you would run and jump, just to run out of breath? Jumping was fun! Running was easy (and fun), riding your bike was just "something to do." You would play "tag" and all kinds of crazy games, that involved running and jumping. It was fun! Crazy to think that a body that was not even fully developed could withstand all that activity, and still grow! What an amazing creation our bodies are. Where did all that energy, and enthusiasm go?
After 28 years of research, Exercise Physiologist Fred Kasch has decided that "aging naturally accounts for about one-third of the body's aerobic decline. Inactivity accounts for the remaining two-thirds of the downward slide."(Health, May/June 1993 p.62) Jim Graves from the University of Florida Center for Exercise Science adds that, "Exercising will prevent most age related deteriorations through age 60." Research confirms that "the fountain of youth" lays within you, and within your grasp.
An example of remarkable health, and a well being would be fitness pioneer, Jack LaLane. We all remember him, and his simple routines developed to get the homebody up and moving. At age 60 (Well above the age 60 indicated above!) he is still a monument to fitness, nutrition and well being. He still sports a 32-inch waist, 44-inch chest, and 15-inch biceps! No atrophy here! He can still easily touch his hand to the floor, without bending his knees. His resting heart rate is the equivalent of an athlete, at 55 beats per minute. How, you might ask, has he managed to keep his youthful physique, and energy level up? He follows a vegetarian diet, and works out vigorously everyday, still. Here are a few other suggestions from our fitness example:
*Exercise a minimum of 30 minutes per day, three to five times per week. Change your routine every three to four weeks.
*Set short term fitness goals, and follow through.
*Slowly change a few "bad" habits for "good" habits.
*Eat food in its natural state and in as many varieties as possible.
*Pass on caffeine, sugar, alcohol and cigarettes.
Drink plenty of plain water.
(CNN Interview, Monday, January 19 2004, Posted 2:22PM EST) Jack is an inspiration to all and his life is a testimony to the benefits of healthful eating and exercise.
Other suggestions if you are new to exercise would be:
*start slow, and build.
*Make sure your doctor has given you a clean bill of health.
*Work with a fitness professional, even for a short time, who can help assess your strengths and weaknesses. Your program should be about you, not a cookie cutter program. Make sure that this person has the proper credentials, and maintains them.
*Keep a journal for food and exercise. It will keep you informed as to progress, moods, and habits you might not otherwise notice.
*Try new things. It is important to stimulate your body and mind with a variety of exercises, and exercise modalities. The same old same old, will not give your any progress. Your body adapts in four to six weeks of continuous training. Exercise should be progressive to avoid repetitive stress. It also keeps the mind active throughout the activity, preventing boredom and injury.
Additionally, exercise makes us feel better. This also contributes to a youthful attitude. Scientifically, exercise directly impacts the brain chemistry. Sleep, mood, memory and behavior are all influenced by a chemical in he brain called Serotonin. Persons with low serotonin levels have bouts of depression, have trouble sleeping, memory problems and can even have episodes of violent behavior. Regular exercise has been proven to positively influence serotonin levels. Increases of serotonin from exercise improves mood, decreases stress, aids in sleeping, and improves memory.
A positive impact has also been noted in cognitive function in individuals that regularly exercise. From childhood through to old age, improved scores in mental acuity have been noticed. In a study of forty-one adults, aged 58 through 78, that was conducted for six weeks saw an increases in brain wave activity after only three weeks. This was measured by use of magnetic resonance imaging. (MRI) These individuals programming consisted of three 45-minute walks three times per week. These individuals also displayed an increase in their decision-making abilities.
Exercise, for me, takes me to another level of existence, one where anything is possible- as long as I keep trying!! Exercise is not about the superficial results, it is about so much more than that. While a complete exercise program is multifaceted, it is important to find the RIGHT components for your body (physiologically , physically(mechanically), kinesthetically (neurologically), aerobically, and mentally/spiritually), experience level, and of course interest level. Exercise is movement based. It is important to do the right movements for your body, with the right amounts of intensity, with the correct amount of frequency to ensure healthy results. It is about the inside, not the outside. The outside is just the side effects of a healthy, whole person.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Emotional Side Of Eating, Summer Eating Tips, Good Fats For Weight Loss

You pick up the phone, it's been a tough day, call up a friend and say, "Let's go for pizza, I't been a doozy!! (Or something like that.)." Sound familiar. Or you run ( as close as you get to running) to the vending machine when your last phone call at work puts you over the edge. Habits, ingrained habits, of an emotional eating response to situations in life.
As a young child, often we are "rewarded" with "treats" in conjunction with either a) a celebration of a positive occasions (special occasions, being obedient to the parent, social events)or b) the parent wants us to adhere to their requests, or to "cheer us up" when a situation has soured. We come to relate to food as a reward, or a comforter. Food and emotions become intertwined. Triggers develop that we are not eve n cognitively aware of. Eating from urge versus necessity.
How many times have you eaten something out of a "feeling' of commitment, versus a feeling of need or hunger? How many times have you eaten something because you were in a bad mood...? How many times have you stuffed your words, and thoughts, and sat down to a sugary snack, trying to "sweeten" the mood? These emotional and social cues have been instilled in us from a very young age. These feelings often dictate to us what we "feel" is acceptable- versus what is truly necessary.
So how do we overcome these ingrained patterns? How do we overcome emotional patterns that we have had for so long? Like any other thing you wish to overcome firstly you need to acknowledge you need to overcome it. Acceptance of a problem can sometimes be the biggest hurdle to overcome.
Often the best way to realize a problem is to see the evidence of it. Food journaling is a great way to get a handle on diet issues. Persons who journal are more successful long term "losers," than non-journalers. I believe it is because writing makes you more aware of "patterns" of eating. There is also a greater accountability. This allows for "realizations" not experienced without being mentally involved in the eating process. By recording the food, quantity of food, the time the food was consumed, emotions and situations linked to eating (hunger, anger, fear, fatigue, frustration, boredom, habit (time of day) joy, celebration, social outing) we can begin to understand our habitual patterns that produce the cycles of eating without need. At this point maybe we can begin to focus on the emotion(s), outside of the food issue.
I know from my own personal experiences that I have had problems with "emotional eating."
Often out of fearful feelings (not sure about the future, not sure about my finances, not sure about my friends, not sure about whatever job I had at the time, not feeling accepted by others.) General life insecurities. These would "send" me into a negative cycle. Usually, I would start with some drinks, to cheer me up. This would lead to less than healthy food choices (Naturally, I was dieting and under-nourished, already.) Now, breaking my "diet" I would feel even worse about myself. I consumed more out of this feeling of depression. Negative cycle. These cycles can be dangerous, they can lead to severe eating disorders. I myself, became bulimic. Over run by self- doubts and fear. Emotions controlled my eating. This dangerous cycle ran my life from my first year of University through to my late thirties.
These are learned from a very young age. My mother also had an eating disorder. Therefore, I thought many of our "eating rituals" were normal. She was ruled by her emotions, and alcohol. She had a sickness of spirit that overcame her physical well being. She sought after some form of perfection that was never achievable. When I grew up I sought after the very same thing. This is something that is learned and passed from generation to generation. Parents have a very key role in educating their children in proper foods, proper food timing, the correct manners to decline unnecessary foods that can contribute to diseases of the body and spirit. Any parent with a disorder needs to address it, and work on finding a higher ground, not to pass this message on to their children. Young children are often led to mimmick the parents. They learn what they see, and are very impressionable up to the age of twelve.
Eating disorders, and their counterpart emotional issues, manifest themselves in many ways. Not everyone becomes bulimic (thank God). Other manifestations of inappropriate emotions, and relationship with food are in being overweight, obese, severely underweight (anorexic), over exercisers/achievers, judging others in their food habits, eating differently alone than with others, thinking about food all the time, there is zero variety in your diet, and habitual eating (time of day dictates eating versus actual hunger. This shows a detachment from natural patterns.)
Many of these disorders have physiological impacts, effecting hormonal balance and neurotransmitters in the brain. They are hard to overcome. It can be done, though. As stated earlier, you must be willing to admit there is a problem. You must own it. Not in a negative way, though. Negative emotions are part of the issue. Remember, this is a negative cycle that needs to be reversed.
The change has to start with your view of you. Find something positive, focus on that. One small thing you know in your heart of hearts is good! We were all created with special gifts, and special purposes. Look at your gifts. Look outside of yourself for purpose. You may need to change some things in your life, do it. Get out of the box!! Get rid of the negative that is literally "eating you alive." What I did was rediscovered the passions of my youth, before I was overcome with the negatives- fitness and God. I found a better state of physical and spiritual being. This is a good recipe. We are not only physical beings, we are spiritual beings. We are not one dimensional, and cannot live one dimensionally either. We need to nurture our "whole" selves more. I have learned to appreciate myself more, and my God given abilities, appreciating my creator more. I spend my time studying and focusing outside of me. My life does not revolve around me, and my needs like it used to. I have also come to appreciate my experiences more, good and bad. There really is no such thing as a bad experience, it is all in how you apply it to your life. How YOU can use IT, for the betterment of this world. Bitterness doesn't hurt anyone but the one who is bitter. We all must walk away from self and self doubts and self- centered attitudes. Your very life and health depends on it!!
Often when we first change our habits it is a struggle. We have not clearly learned what is good for us. We eat often from habits learned. I wanted to include some other good food options in this post/article. The dispute about good fats and bad fats continues on. These are examples of good clean, natural fats that will prolong good health, and help you lose weight. Naturally, all these should be eaten in moderation. Just because something is "good for you," doesn't mean you need to eat huge quantities.
1) Almonds/almond butters are an excellent source of Vitamin E, and antioxidant (fights free radicals.) 2 Tablespoons, small handful are one serving size. Great as a snack with an apple.
2)Avocados contain 20 vitamins and minerals. It is a great source of potassium to regulate blood pressure. Wonderful instead of mayonnaise on whole grain wraps, also on whole grain crackers.
3)Dark Chocolate, more specifically cocoa from organic ground, defatted cocoa beans. The more natural the better. These beans contain antioxidant properties.
4)Flaxseed oil is the best plant source for Omega 3 fatty acids, critical for good health. These type of fatty acids are critical for heart health, cancer prevention and alzheimer prevention.
Put 1 tablespoon of cold-pressed ( kept cold AT ALL TIMES) in a smoothy for breakfast, blend well.
5)Natural Peanut Butter, I like Marathon Nutter Butter At Dingy Docks here in town. Peanut butter contains vitamins E and B6 (important for immune system health.)
6)Olive oil instead of butter, or other oil choices. Olive oil is better if it is greener in color, containing more antioxidant properties. Extra virgin olive oil is recommended. Also, remember that oil oil, just like other quality oils, looses it's antioxidant value when it is heated. Use broth for cooking.
7)Sunflower seeds and oils are great for flavor and hunger control. They contain B vitamins and are great for fighting inflammation. They are also wonderful on salads, only about 2 tablespoons, though.
8)Walnuts are also powerful Omega 3 rich nuts. They too prevent inflamation which has been linked to many diseases, heart disease, cancer, alzheimer's. I love these on my oatmeal in the morning. 2 Tablespoons is one serving.
Last week we looked at quick lunch tips. This week we are going to focus on BBQ meals, and quick summer dinners.

Smart Dogs (Tofu), or Nitrate Free Dogs (Nitrates have been linked to many forms of cancer, they are in most, if not all, processed meats. Nitrate Free dogs are available here in town at Dingy Dock's )
Whole Grain buns, or wraps. (I like wraps, they are fun and don't fall apart.)
Veganaise ( also available at Dingy Docks), tomato, and low sodium pickles.

Mixed Greens, whole sweet baby peppers, cut thinly, cucumbers, red onion, sunflower seeds toped with raspberry walnut vinegar dressing.

3 bean salad

4oz chicken breast, serving size (Dingy Dock's has fantastic organic, pre-sized chicken breasts, reasonable priced in their freezer. Great flavor.)
Marinade these overnight in Teryaki
Baby tomatoes
Baby sweet peppers
Red onion

Skewer and BBQ
Arugala and baby greens salad with oranges, red onions, walnuts and balsamic vinegar drizzled on top. Top with small amount of goat cheese.

Try a veggie burger!! They are available at Dingy Docks and at Von's
Add a little Newman's Own Bean and Corn Salsa

4oz Wild Salmon, grilled
8-12 asparagus spears
1/4 cup Near East Tabloule (Prepared with olive oil, baby tomatoes, cucumbers, lemon, and olives) (Von's)
1/4 cup of Soy Licious Chocolate "nice" cream

Summer is here!! Don't let your new found life interfere with enjoying all that is good. You will find the more you practice good healthy habits, the easier they are to follow, and the easier many other things will become because of the extra care you take for yourself, and the others around you. Have a GREAT summer!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Nutritional 'No-how" Misleading Labels, and Lunch on the Run!!

Grocery shopping for healthy foods can be a real treasure hunt. This is particularly true when it comes to packaged items, and their misleading labels. Many items we automatically pick up-assuming the product inside is healthy.
We pick up a container of milk, for example, the label says 1%, we think we are doing the right thing for ourselves, and our families. Truth be known that 1% milk in reality is 18% fat by calories. Ouch!! The dairy industry marks it's product by volume, not actual calories. This is also true of the meat industry. A package of 93% lean ground beef, for example, is actually 45% fat by calories, (Nutrition for Professional, Jane Penz PhD 2008). Shocking.
It seems the United States Department of Agriculture ( USDA) labeling guidelines allow meat and poultry products, as well as dairy, to label fat content by volume, or weight, rather than actual calories per portion. We assume it is by portion. Also, by definition The Food and Drug Administration ( FDA ) guidelines for "low fat" is "a product containing less than 3 grams of fat." This allowed 2% fat milk, which actually contains 36% fat, to be labeled "low fat". The Food and Drug Administration ( FDA ) decided in 1998 to disallow this claim. Now the new claim is "reduced- fat." This still leaves our 1% milk to be "low fat", with a whopping 18% fat content. For further details visit www.cspinet.net/nah/junebeef.htm (Penz)
Other labels to be on the-look out-for are 'fat free" and calorie free." Items claiming to be "calorie free" can actually contain up to 5 calories per serving, according to labeling laws. "fat free" is even more misleading. An item containing less than 1/2 gram of fat per serving can be called "non-fat." This becomes even more troublesome when we over consume the product, believing the claims. Other shocker are "Promise Fat -free is 100% fat" and Pam cooking spray contains 1638 calories, based upon actual spraying time and sprays per can. Not even close to calorie free. For more information on this visit http://www.fda.gov/fdac/special/foodlabel/lite.html
Other grocery store label culprits are "whole grains." There are no rules regarding the amount of actual "whole grain" in any product. There could actually be very little in the product. You are best off to actually examine the list of ingredients on the item. The list of ingredient has to be listed from the most prevalent item to the least. So, a package of wholegrain crackers may actually be nothing more than processed flours stripped of all nutritional value, glued together by some trans fats.
Trans fats are one of the most dangerous culprits out there. These items hide behind labels claiming they are free of trans fats. How does this happen? The same labeling laws that govern the "fat free/calorie free" products govern these. Because the item contains less than 1/2 a gram of fat per serving it can be called "fat free"- regardless of it's content. Partially hydrogenated products are trans fats. these products turn oily foods into solid foods. They are used primarily in bakery items (cakes, cookies, pastries), margarines, edible oil products, coffee creamers, fast foods and many others. Read the label! These dangerous products are linked to many diseases. They have zero nutritional benefit.
With this said, what can you do? Well firstly read all labels carefully. Do the math. Make sure things add up on the side panels. Make sure you read the list of ingredients- know what is really in those items. Avoid store bought bakery items, eat home made items if you must indulge. You can select wholesome, natural ingredients to create a family treats. Eat fresh produce, or flash frozen. Limit these dangerous trans fats, get them out of your diet. It takes time and self-denial, but it is worth it. Even start by cutting the product with something healthy. An example of this would be using coffee mate with soy milk. It is a process.
As promised, I was going to offer some quick lunch ideas that are fast and nutritious.

carrots, peppers, celery, olives
1/2 cup of greek humous dip
whole grain pita bread or whole grain crackers
melon medley ( cantelope/ watermelon/ honeydew
This is a great to go lunch for at work. Lots of great veggies for something crunchy!!)

whole grain crust (Trader Joe's, or even a whole grain pita bead.)
sun dried tomatoes
fresh basil
fresh garlic
sprinkle feta cheese or soy cheese
place under broiler for a few minutes.

almond butter
apple slices
whole grain wrap
side salad with Newman's Own Raspberry Salad Dressing

wild salmon (canned, packed, left over)
mixed salad greens
Newman's Own Corn and Bean Salsa
Whole grain wrap

Tofu- marinaded in soy sauce or teriyaki sauce
Frozen oriental mix vegetables (broccoli, sugar snap peas, water chestnuts, celery, carrots and red peppers)
(Fresh if you have a little more time)

Use a skillet and moisture cook the tofu in sauce. Add cooked veggies to mix, either the microwaved flash frozen ones or steamed fresh ones. Not very much sauce is required.

When in a pinch you can microwave the tofu with sauce, then add in veggies. Fast and nutritious.... pretty tasty,too. And you can do this anywhere that has a microwave!!

Lean Cuisine to the rescue
Select an option that has lots of vegetables and whole grains.
(I am partial to the Wild Salmon and Orzo)
add a bunch of grapes

It is important to keep healthy food options at work with you for healthy snacking between meals. Stay away from coffee, cola and that crazy vending machine!!

Next time we are going to discuss emotional eating and finish our nutrition series with summer fun barbeque style meals that are heart healthy and diet conscious. Any questions? Please, feel free!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Nutritional "No- How" with Bonus Meal Plans for Summer!

Does all this "talk" about food almost leave you with your head spinning? Eat this, don't eat that... It can get pretty confusing, pretty quickly! This article is the third in this series of nutritional n0-how. This time around we are going to look at some myths the diet industry had placed out there, how all this diet stuff got started, and why these choices may not be the right choices for your health. Also, a small sample menu plan will be offered at the end, sort of a mix and match summer meal plan!

Dieting has been around for thousands of years. It began back in the 1800's, before then only the wealthy were overweight. Over time more people enjoyed financial success. Eating and drinking became a way to celebrate the fruits of their labors, particularly those who experienced hardships growing up.
Interestingly, diets did not originate due to health concerns, or even the pursuit of a better looking physique. No, dieting became a concern first from a biblical perspective on gluttony. Looking upon gluttony as a sin, there was much concern. After all we all know what the wages of sin are, right?! (If not, the bible clearly states, "The wages of sin are death." Romans 6:23)
So with this in mind, realizing that over consumption and excess weight one Presbyterian minister named Sylvester Graham, began to preach what has now become known as the "health message" on a proper, mostly vegetarian, diet and its positive effects upon the body, mind and particularly the spirit.
Our minister also advocated vigorous exercise, cold showers, opening the bedroom window at night ( no matter what!), drinking pure water, and of course chastity and temperance. It appears that in the 1830's our minister friend was onto something! His views were not completely well received, he the nickname "Dr. Sawdust."
He did attract followers though. They were a faithful bunch that became known as "Grahamites." Yes, Dr. Graham was the originator of graham flour, and it's well known cracker, the graham cracker. He was totally against the use of processed, refined flours. He was at odds constantly with the bakers of that era who used white, refined products, often openly rebuking them in his services. He did in fact employ bodyguards in his meetings.
Refined sugar and flour was not his only battle. He was also at war with the milk producers. It seems that they fed their cows swill leftover from the distilleries, and in order to neutralize the alcoholic content, chalk and molasses were used!
Dr. Graham was he first to advocate diet and healthful, mindful eating. His material has actually become sound advise for a long, healthy life. It is actually very close to a the ideal diet plan for health today, based upon much study. However with the diet industry raking it in with practically a new diet plan every day, buy this, buy that, it's hard to know what really works, AND is good for your health! Let's take a look at some of the big myths.


Good news! This is a complete lie. Diets that are too restrictive are not lifestyle changes. You cannot maintain this type of eating for very long. This is only the tip of the iceberg. A diet to low in calories slows your resting metabolic rate. It has a negative effect on your body composition. Your body, in the absence of glucose (the product of a healthy carbohydrate rich diet) will break down muscle tissue for glucose. Muscle, not fat, has the chemical composition necessary to create glucose for starving brain cell, and other critical bodily functions.
Skipping breakfast is a very tragic thing!! After 12-16 hours the body REQUIRES nourishment.If nothing has been eaten, the body will quickly catabolize your precious muscle tissue. This is not very productive if you are working out. No wonder people on these diets are usually tired and cranky!


As mentioned above, carbohydrates are the primary form of energy for the human body. Carbs are not "bad." Carbs are necessary to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. In order to burn fat, glucose is required, preferably from carbohydrates. Protein on the other hand, are necessary for the building and repair of all tissues and cells. Immune function, collagen repair, blood clotting, oxygen transport, and other critical functions are some of the roles that protein plays in the body. "While a cell may need an amino acid to build a vital protein, the need for energy in the form of glucose supersedes protein need. Without energy cells die: without glucose the brain and nervous system die. Cells are forced to use amino acids for glucose only when glucose is not available ( no consumption of carbohydrates, or a delay in eating) Breakdown of body proteins to meet the energy and glucose needs can lead to muscle wasting." "Muscle wasting" can lead to a slower metabolism and serious health problems. Although on the outset high protein diets may look good, you might even loose weight (not good weight, try a body composition test) but is it really worth risking your health, and loosing much needed muscle tissue? The human body stores carbohydrates in the form of glucose, it does not store amino acids, in fact all protein contains nitrogen. Nitrogen is toxic to the human body, it must be regularly eliminated. To much nitrogen, and constant excretion of them can impose health risks.
All in all, too much of anything is not a good thing. The key is balance in proper nutrient- rich foods.


While it is prudent to eat a low-fat diet, fats are an essential component to a healthy diet. Fats are in both animal and plant based foods. Generally speaking, a diet high in animal fats is a diet high in saturated fats- saturated fats have been linked to many forms of cancer, diabetes, high blood sugar, depression, coronary diseases and stroke. Note, this is true of a diet HIGH in saturated fats. Saturated fats are virtually impossible to avoid entirely, as many manufacturers use them in their products as they have a long shelf life, and are relatively cheap. Trans Fatty Acids are another type of fat that has been linked to health problems. Trans fats are a type of man-made fat that also increases the shelf life of products. Most of them are hidden in the form of partially hydrogenated plant oils. This process was developed in the early 1900's and first appeared as Crisco in 1911. These products add hydrogen to unsaturated fats, turning them into saturated fats.
While healthy fats are very useful for hormone function, immune function and other critical roles in the body, trans fats and saturated fats are not part of this cycle. Instead these types of fats can actually become imbedded in cell membranes. Some recent research has hypothesized that this damage to cell membranes, which effects the cell's fluidity, might be the cause of insulin resistance.( Nutrition for Professionals- Dr. Jane Penz 2008)
Low -fat manufactured foods tend to contain hydrogenated plant oils, and a higher amount of sugar, also. (ACE Certified News 2009) While a diet high in "healthy fats" seems to aid in everything from cell aggregation to a healthier waste line.
So what are "healthy fats?" Here are some examples:
*"Wild" Salmon, Mackerel, other fatty fish. (Watch for fish with high mercury values. Ussually the larger the fish, the more mercury. ie- Swordfish.)
*Olive oils, and canola oils. Please note that these oils loose their properties when heated. Free radicals are formed when vegetable oils are heated. (I use vegetable broth in my pan to prevent sticking.)
*Nuts and seeds, particularly walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. (I usually get mixed nuts for a greater cross section of minerals.) And , yes, natural is better!
*Flax seed (and oil), safflower products , sesame seeds and oil, sunflower seeds and oil, and soybean products (Series one prostaglandins that create less inflammation, and are anti-aggregating.)
*Avocado, fresh and organic
These products should all be reasonable fresh.
While it is prudent to purchase low fat dairy items such as yogurt, cheese and milk- it is also prudent to use them sparingly. A diet rich in the above mentioned fats with fresh, whole, organic foods has been proven to be the most successful, and easy to adhere to.

Most of these are quick and easy!! Most are only about 400 calories, but who's counting!
Remember, breakfast IS the most important meal of the day. Do not skip out on this one!

(for those who really are in a hurry!!)

1 cup of vanilla soymilk or non-fat milk
1 ripe banana
2 tablespoons of almond butter, or all natural peanut butter ( Try Marathon Nutter Butter at Dingy Docks.)

Blend and enjoy!

One whole grain english muffin toasted, or Ezekiel Bread.
Top with almond butter, or nutter butter, add 1/4 sliced bananas.
Add one cup of mixed berries in a side bowl.

Whole grain waffle topped with berries and greek yogurt with honey, add shaved almonds.

Using either egg substitute of regular eggs. Use cooking spray, small amount, and vegetable broth to prevent sticking
1 egg (or portion)
2 eggs ( or portions)
feta cheese, or greek cheese or soy cheese.
1 piece of Ezekiel Sesame toast.


raspberries, blueberries, strawberries (layered) 1 -1.5 cups
greek -style yogurt with honey
top with Go-Lean cereal (1/2 cup) and pumpkin seeds (2 teaspoons)

(Preferably old fashioned style oatmeal, as packages of quick oatmeal contain a lot of sugar!!)

Spray a baking pan with cooking spray. Preheat oven at 450 degrees.
Mix bananas (ripe), 1 cup of egg whites (or substitute), and 1 cup of soy milk together very well in a bowl.
Pour mixture into pan. Add oatmeal to "just full" in liquid mixture. The point is to have enough oatmeal to absorb the fluid. Top with 1/4 cup walnut and 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips.
Bake 25-30 minutes.
Voila! Easy on the go breakfast bars!!



Sunday, July 12, 2009

Nutritional "No-How" Part Two

In the last article we discussed the importance of several nutrients, particularly focusing on fruits and vegetables. With summer here, it is so easy to eat healthfully. Colorful, fresh food is so much more available, and more affordable. It's great time to encourage your children to eat smart, too.
Fruit and vegetables, and even milk (lactose), are part of a food group called "simple"carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are essential for energy and health. They are considered to be the body's best source of energy. "Simple" sugar also comes in the form of cake, cookies, bakery items, white bread, processed foods... very low nutrient, very high calorie.
Other important forms of carbohydrates are considered "complex" carbohydrates. These would be in the form of breads, rice and potatoes. These foods, if they are "whole foods"/ not processed, are also excellent forms of natural fiber and other key vitamins. Once again, the key is "whole foods."
"Whole foods" are high in nutrients and fiber.( They tend to be more filling, also!) These type of foods have an impact on many of the cardiovascular diseases now prevalent in society. Populations that consume more dietary fiber have a lower risk for chronic disease. Fiber also has many favorable effects on risk factors for disease. These diseases include, and are not limited to, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and coronary heart disease( CHD).
Dietary fiber helps protect against cardiovascular disease by improving blood lipid profiles, lowering blood pressure and reducing indicators of inflammation (American Dietetic Association (ADA))
In a documented study, Pereira and colleagues conducted an analysis on the effects of total fiber and types of fiber on the risk of developing heart disease. They analyzed the consumption of dietary fiber from whole grain cereals (not highly processed) and fruit. They discovered that for "every 10 grams per day increase in total fiber, there was a reduction of 14 percent in coronary events and 27 percent in coronary deaths.(Arch Internal Medicine. cohort study)
Several other well documented studies also showed a direct impact from whole grain foods and coronary complications and death.
Some noted foods for the reduction of LDL cholesterol ( the "bad" one), are apples, barley, beans ( and other legumes), fresh fruit ( bananas, blackberries, peaches, nectarines, pears, plums ,prunes and citrus fruit) and vegetables, ( such as broccoli, carrots, brusel spouts, and cabbage) oatmeal, oat bran, whole oat flour (Nutrition Dimensions online)
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after reviewing 42 clinical trials, in 1977 they approved the first food specific health claim. "Soluble fiber from foods such as oat bran, rolled oats, or oatmeal, and whole oat flour, as part of a low in saturated fat and cholesterol diet, may reduce the risk of heart disease."
While you may not have been eating this way, and it is a distinct change, it is recommended that you work this into your diet. Start small. Your tastes will change. It is so important that you eat this way, AND teach your children. They may resist at first, that's normal. Help them learn young and avoid disease and sickness. You will be glad you did!!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

"N" is for Nutritional No-How! Part One

Summer is officially here!! The island is booming with visitors-the heat is on, so to speak!! I love summer! One of my favorite things about summer is the fantastic food choices that are available. Fresh, healthy, whole food choices to optimize every moment of every day. I am a firm believer of eating "what is in season." What God has provided. This approach keeps your options exciting, the necessary nutrients for healthy living- and the costs down. Generally, whatever is in season is available in an abundance, and is on sale!!
Summer is an active time of the year. So much to do, so many options. Hydration becomes somewhat of an issue, leaving many of us feeling unusually fatigued. It is important to drink lots of plain water to keep your energy level high. Another energy booster is eating fresh fruits and vegetables. These are wonderful ways of staying hydrated and refreshed. Cut, ready to go watermelon in the fridge is a great way to have a cool, healthy energy booster on hand. (Watermelon won't only hydrate you-it has a high concentration of lycopene that can protect you from prostrate, breast, lung and colorectal cancers.) Remember, water participates in almost every metabolic reaction in the body. It is also critical for healthy cell. Alcohol is not considered a good choice, in fact it dehydrates you.
It is very important to eat a "rainbow" of color each day. It is suggested that by eating seven to nine servings per day is a key component to feeling your best. Colorful, fresh eating is the first line of defense against many of the diseases we struggle with today. Try to eat from each color group each day, very easy to do during the summer and see if your blood pressure, skin, eyesight, cholesterol levels and energy are not better by the end of the season. Add in some exercise and you are on your way to better health. Try eating from each of these groups, each day, this summer. Make it a goal!
Purple grapes, dark raisins, blueberries, purple cabbage, purple potatoes, plums and dried plums.
Tomatoes ( both fresh and canned. Cooked tomatoes actually are more nutrient rich.) watermelon, apples (which has also been touted for improved endurance and mental acuity), strawberries (high in antioxidants that protect against free radical damage, and collagen production), cherries and sour cherries ( good for gout and muscle recovery), beets(folate) and red onions (also, good for endurance.)
*Dark Orange/ Yellow Orange (Much of this group is rich in Vitamin A (essential for vision, cell growth, bone growth, and cell division, immune function regulation.) and Vitamin C (essential for collagen production needed for strengthening blood vessels, scar tissue formation, and is a matrix for bone growth. Vitamin C is also a key part of iron absorption)
Mangos, pumpkin, cantaloupe, carrots, squash, apricots, oranges, sweet potatoes, papaya.
*Yellow Green
Spinach ( known as a super food containing vitamin A, K, magnesium, folate, zinc and iron, best served with a vitamin C food, such as delicious berries in a salad.)Kiwi fruit, collard greens and romaine lettuces (containing vitamin K)
*The "super food" Greens
Leafy green vegetables (vitamin K, trace minerals), kale (calcium), Broccoli (calcium, vitamin C, A and Folate), bok choy (vitamin B6), swiss chard, green beans, asparagus (thiamin, vitamin C, and A)
Cauliflower (folate), cabbage (vitamin K), onions, garlic, mushrooms (riboflavin).
As you can see, eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables provides a full range of critical nutrients for good health. It is important to mix them up, enjoy them!( So easy to do this time of year.) I like to pre-prepare and clean them when I bring them home from the store. They are ready when I need them. No fuss.
With barbeques and so many family get together's it is important to make sure you fill up on fresh, whole, natural foods. Try to stay away from the heavy meats, loaded with saturated fats, and even nitrates that have been linked to certain cancers (more on this topic next week.) Our bodies thrive on whole foods full of nutrients to recharge, rebuild and rejuvenate the body, mind and soul. Nutrient rich foods. They not only energize us now, they prevent diseases, and disabilities , and offset the aging process. It may not always be easy to get your children to enjoy these foods with you, but you should be firm and consistent with them. Making fun shapes out of fruits and vegetables will help make them more enjoyable. It is important to have a good sense of diet instilled at an early age. Too many of our children are living on fast foods, and "party foods". We need to take the time to teach them before it is too late.
Summer is a fun time of the year! So many great options! Try something new and fresh, it's time to step out! Remember, eat fresh , eat whole foods (grains and produce), eat organic (carbon containing... life sustaining), eat variety, and live long and healthy!! Try watermelon in the blender for a smooth summer cooler....

Monday, June 22, 2009

Putting The "T" in TRUST!

This is the last article in a series of eight articles written with your complete well being in mind. There are so many aspects to complete health, and even to each topic discussed, that I have had requests to start all over again at letter "N". As a quick recap, the program is the NEWSTART program. "N" was for nutrition, "E" was for exercise, "W" was for water, "S" was for sunshine, "T was for temperance, "A" was for attitude, "R" was for rest, and "T " is for trust in God. All of these components are aspects of a compete, healthy, productive lifestyle.
Trust can be a complicated issue. Trust is often hard earned, and is very subjective when it comes to the human race. When I look at my little puppy, I see a clear picture of what trust is. No matter what I say, or do, he looks to me for protection. He rolls over on to his back, so innocent and exposed, trusting I will show him tenderness- remarkable for a dog that has had a difficult background. He trusts that I will supply ALL his needs, care for him when he is confused, or upset about things his little puppy mind does not understand, give him the right foods to eat and above all love him..... trust. He trusts I am doing the right things for his life sake. In return he shows his love by amazing loyalty. Wow! What an amazing example of trust.
I am not to sure if I feel that level of trust towards any of my earthy friends, to be totally at their mercy, and to totally trust and obey their every word.... amazing!! How often do we look at even our family members with a level of uncertainty?
It says on the American dollar 'In God We Trust." This is a wonderful sentiment! Do we really believe this though? If we truly did believe in our God do you not think we would be a society of more trusting, relaxed, confident people- less high blood pressure, less stress related illness. Just like my puppy- relaxed, calm, attentive, and above all- happy. I doubt that he worries about his next meal, the rent, his next walk, love and attention. Why? Because he KNOWS his needs are being met. While he has been in my loving care, these things have ceased to be an issue. He knows he is cared for. As the birds of the air do not stress, why should we? Particularly if we have that loving trust with our Master, our Creator, our God. Does He not tell us that He will care for our every need if we follow Him? If we heed His voice? If we fall to our knees and tell Him all, TRUST HIM?
Knowing that the very dollar that this statement is printed on is experiencing problems, why should we live in fear if we are 'trusting in God." Or perhaps we have come to rely on our own strengths, not really allowing ourselves to experience the freedom of a trusting heart? Many of our ancestors through history, famous world leaders, have fallen into this trap, self. Self is a lonely, dangerous, deceptive place to live in your soul. Throughout history this was the tragic fault of many great leaders. Once one comes to believe in their own self importance, loosing the humility to follow others, particularly the Creator of all, you loose the humility to grow, and learn and fully experience the simple joys we are all here to learn of. Self made doctrines are dangerous in ALL aspects of the human existence.
Anything I may think I know is based upon much reading, studying and following of those who have gone before me and have learned by true trial and error. This includes the very simple examples set for by our Lord in His well published, and well loved book, The Bible. To become a disciple and have discipline in life to follow the true path brings new freedoms and joys that cannot be found by following self, and self important ideals. I encourage anyone experiencing challenges in their lives to seek Him who can change anything, on a dime. I know this from personal experience.
I am not alive today based upon my own best efforts. I, much like puppy, have had a less than glamorous past. The good health I now enjoy, is not particularly what I deserve. I have been blessed. It is the side effect of changing my will, and admitting that the choices were not good choices. My own path was a definite path to total self destruction. By following and trusting in God, I have overcome many of the struggles I see around me today. Pain, suffering, health issues. So many struggles can be overcome by seeking and trusting.
I find great comfort in my life and daily struggles to know that there is a rhythm and a purpose in this life. I know my Master Trainer is only a prayer away. That even when things seem bleak, there is always hope. Why? Because I see His providence in life daily. Why? Because He said so. Why? Because I follow Him... and all I have to do is pay attention to ALL the things around me. Not just my life, but others. What an amazing display of love, and grace. And as a punctation mark, all I have to do is look at my sweet little puppy.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Resting in Health

Ever have one of those days where things seem a little off? Feeling a little stressed, tired, hungry (even though you've had your usual diet), even feel fatigued.... problem could be that you are not getting enough rest. Many of us are so busy trying to cram as much as possible into the days, the days just are not long enough!!
Our bodies require a certain amount of quality rest. True restorative sleep. According to William C. Dement, MD., PhD the brain keeps track your sleep. It keeps an exact account of how much sleep it is owed, this is called a "sleep debt." If the debts accumulates to much it can effect all aspects of your health from energy, to mood, to cognition, to even major health problems like immune function, hypertension and cardiovascular problems.
It is great to be all fired up, desiring to accomplish things. However, the human body does require adequate amounts of sleep. When we sleep, our immune systems go to work. There are important molecules in our blood that are only active when we are sleeping. Healing functions happen we are sleeping. Tissue repair occurs during sleep, as does toxin removal, chemical homeostasis or balance, and even the bodies ability to protect itself from cancer. A critical killer of cancer cells called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) increases tenfold while we sleep. "Investigators found, for example, that those who simply stayed up until 3am, experienced a 30% reduction in the number of natural killer cells and less activity in the natural killer cells still present." (Stein, Rob. "Scientists Finding Out What Losing Sleep Does to The Body". 10/9/05 The Washington Post)
Other studies have found that lack of proper sleep can also make us fat! "During the second half of the 20th century, the average duration of sleep declined from eight or nine hours of sleep to five to seven hours of sleep per night. This shortened sleep pattern has been concurrent with the doubling of the incidence of obesity.' (Light Bearers Ministry, 'Rest Sleepy Heads') This lack of sleep also has been implicated in other lifestyle related illnesses such as colon cancer, breast cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Lack of proper sleep disrupts hormones ( messengers), and other proteins. This decrease effects the "messenger"hormone leptin, which signals fullness, and tells the brain that there is a shortage of food, even if there isn't. In studies, some volunteers consumed up to 1,000 calories more per day after sleep restriction. Another "messenger" hormone, ghrelin, which is responsible for stimulating hunger, is elevated when sleep is reduced.
Elevated cortisol, the fight or flight hormone, is also associated with lack of proper sleep. Before sleep the body winds down, cortisol is reduced to insure a restful sleep. Cortisol is reduced. Sleep deprived individuals do not experience this reduction in cortisol. 'Elevations of evening cortisol levels... are likely to promote the development of insulin resistance, a risk factor for obesity and diabetes." (Leproult R, Copinschi G, Buxton O. "Sleep" 1997) This also allows the body to stay in a flight or fight mode, risking elevated blood pressure, and increasing levels of inflammation. This increases the risk for heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. Alexander N. Vgntzas of Pennsylvania State University indicated that, "based on our findings, we believe that if you lose sleep that your body needs, then you produce these inflammatory markers that on a chronic basis can create low-grade inflammation and predispose you to cardiovascular events and even a shorter lifespan.
Snoring can be a problem when it comes to deep restorative sleep. While we may laugh and joke about snoring, it is no laughing matter. Snoring can be the indication of breathing problems. Interrupted breathing, loud gasps for air during sleep can be the signs for sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is very dangerous, as it prevents deep sleep. Many individuals that suffer from sleep apnea are also overweight, have high blood pressure and are at risk for cardiovascular problems. Emotional factors also play a role in sleep apnea.
Spiritual, emotional and physical rest are requirements for all of us. When one of these components gets imbalanced, it affects the others. As complicated beings, we were created with a particular rhythm. The rhythm is a cycle of life that must be observed in order to maintain optimum health on all levels. It is suggested that 16 hours of wakefulness promotes 8 hours of sleep. Even a nap of more than a half an hour can disturb this very specific rhythm. Eating before bed can discourage the release of melatonin, which plays a critical role in stress reduction, and immune function by restoring levels of t-cells. Even a small amount of light during sleep disrupts melatonin secretion. The rhythm of life is very delicately balanced.
So how do you stay balanced? How do you get adequate rest in a world that never stops? We need to learn to wind down. If we live in a state of panic, which is perpetuated by breaking this perfect rhythm, we can go into a downward cycle. Stress plays into lack of sleep, and lack of sleep plays into stress. What are the options?
*Consistent physical exercise, with adequate rest cycles built in, can increase amounts of deep sleep. However, no exercise that makes you sweat before bed. Try yoga!
*Freedom from chemical use. In food, in drink, in air quality.... they all play a factor in stresses in the body. Read the labels on your food, be selective about what you put in your body. Chronic stress is the cause of inflammation and disease.
*Getting 15-20 minutes of sunlight per day, and sleeping in complete darkness.
*Avoiding television, computers and cell phones (radio waves), also all bright lights before bed.
*Not eating before bed.
*Laughter, it's good for the body, mind and soul. DEEP laughter!!!
*Sleeping on a quality bed.
*Create a ritual. Prayer, meditation, deep breathing techniques are very healthful.
*Create a space that is healthy and sleep centered for sleeping in.
*Medication can also hinder a complete nights sleep. Ask your physician!
*No alcohol 3 hours prior to sleeping.
*Doing for others, creating a sense of satisfaction.
These are all recommendations from several sources on the topic of how to relax and breathe and sleep. We were created to follow a cycle, when it is broken we suffer the consequences. We also have a weekly cycle. It is important to take a "sabbath", sabbatical, or rest on one day of the week. It is an opportunity to lay aside our daily activities and nurture our emotional and spiritual side, hence creating a more rounded, contented, appreciative approach to the other days of work. It has been said that for six days we can labor, but on the seventh day we should rest. We have lost this very critical rest for our total well being in the pursuit of wealth, and survival. Might I suggest a rest is long overdo?!

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Abundant Attitude

When going through the  journey of life there is one thing you carry with you everywhere you go. You are accountable for it. It can make you, or it can completely break you. It will determine whether you are successful, or not. You can develop it, and grow it, or let it stagnate. It is best formed through humility,and can develop true strength. It is your attitude.
We all love a good story. The underdog that excels to greatness, the person who defies death and survives ( against all odds), the odd man out, the person who after a lifelong struggle lost 100 pounds. We have all heard these remarkable stories. We love them, they give us hope. But what determines who will have this fortitude in them? Some people seem to have a lot more moxie, somehow.
We all go through this life and experience various trails. Some view these trials as roadblocks (they stop, and don't press on), others as expected pebbles in the road of life (they knew the pebble would be there).  How you view and perceive these difficulties will determine how you overcome them. Attitude. The willingness to learn from others. The willingness to learn from experiences. Humility. By admitting weakness, you are on the road to true strength. The ability to overcome. The tougher thing yet, is to be grateful for ALL your experiences, and not allow the to create bitterness in your soul.
When confronted with a problem, what do you do? Do you procrastinate, allowing the problem to take on a life of it's own (and it will). Procrastinating seems to be a big part of human nature. It is usually fear driven, and prevents development of you character, and will show up in your attitude about relevant issues in your life. It will eat at goals, and invade your peace. 
I recently attended a mentorship program in San Diego with a very well respected trainer ( A trainer that trains athletes, and regular "Joe's" and does mentorships on  business and personal development), his name is Todd Durkin. Great experience. Character building.  We received so many "gifts" from this experience, I am still uncovering some of them. One of the many books I received as a gift was called "Eat That Frog" by Brian Tracy. In this book the author discusses procrastination, and ways of dealing with it. One line that stands out in this book is that "Your 'frog" is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you DON"T do something about it. IT IS ALSO THE ONE TASK THAT CAN HAVE THE GREATEST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE AND THE RESULTS AT THE MOMENT."
Seems most of our biggest trails and tribulations are from a failure to do something. If we don't take care of our health, our finances, our responsibilities, we do suffer the consequences. If we refuse to "own" this our character and our attitudes reflect this. We become bitter... or we can learn and grow. We have a choice.
 This is where real character, and development of "winners" come into effect. What is your "frog", and what do you choose to do about it? Today is today... there is no promise of tomorrow. in fact many believe the end is near.  Do you humble yourself and seek growth... or do you pretend it doesn't really matter?
Today counts. Every second counts. Your drive  and determination  can develop greatness, if you can believe, and step out in faith, and just know. Faith is key in development. You can do great things, if you do it and do it with all your heart. This is the abundant attitude! 
  I want to share with you one other thought that I try to hold onto since my San Diego experience. Sometimes I think about it before a challenge. There was one other book that Todd  shared with us, it was call 212 Degrees. As it goes, "at 211 degrees water boils, at 212 water becomes steam... and steam can power a locomotive". That Is the difference in one degree. THAT is the difference between okay and greatness. That is the CHOICE of abundant living, and it lives in each and every one of us!

Monday, June 1, 2009

"T" is for Temptation...."T" is for Temperance

As I walked down Front Street, here in Avalon (could be any-town, USA), I wondered how to present the topic of temperance. Surrounded by bars and restaurants, all serving up "something special,"just come on in! Temperance vs temptation.  Not a very popular topic. Not here. Not anywhere! None -the- less temperance is  critical aspect to optimum health. Mental health, physical health, spiritual health, community health... ALL aspect of true health. 
This is part of an approach to complete training, so it cannot be ignored. Lack of temperance effects your nutrition, exercise, sunshine, rest, water...all of the other elements of optimal health and performance. Sure, there is discipline involved, you have to fight the desire to be part of the crowd, you have to be true to yourself...but where you really want to be?What do you want to do with your life? Where has it gotten you se far? Are you, in your heart of hearts, all you can be? 
I used to live the life of complete "self-will run riot," as one of my former friends called it. I thought it was okay... everyone else was eating and drinking without a care in the world for what was taking place inside of their bodies, their minds, their souls. Hey, why not.  We call it "fun." Not to mention there are dozens and dozens of articles supporting alcohol. Everything from lower cholesterol to cancer prevention. (I wonder who paid for some of those studies- they don't seem to resonate with other clinical studies that I have been privy to!) Considering alcohol is a multi-billion dollar industry...well, what do you think!?)
 Everyone else also seems fine eating heavily ladened fatty foods, sugary substances. I mean what is a chocolate bar, or so? I work, I support myself, I'm not hurting any one, I even work out now....
There was one problem with all of that though, deep down inside my heart of hearts I knew my purpose was not being fulfilled. I knew I did not feel my best. My abilities were hampered, my mood less than great, many things were not GREAT.  Another drink, or whatever, was not making things "better."When I was younger I had the ability to become anything (still do, but that's a different discussion.) Straight A's- from athletic ability, to art , to law, to science  afforded me a scholarship. Wow! What happened? Well, universities DO have lounges. I needed to "relieve the stress of studying." I had long forgotten the virtues of running and exercise to relieve these fleeting stressful moments- studying is so much more important- right?! I had my family I needed to impress with my good grades, I needed to focus and get my PhD-yesterday! I needed to relax- then I could study. Just one drink, right? 
I was not aware of the fact that Alcohol affects young brain cells the most. Drinking before the age of 23 years of age for females, and 30 years of age for men is extremely damaging to the memory and learning centers of the brain. (They never told me that in psychology class!) Alcohol blocks electrical signals that travel within the brain during the learning process. (Proof Positive, Dr Neil Nedley, p 438) Also, further studies conducted at Duke University Medical Center, found that even just two drinks a day depress receptors in the brain, interfering with learning and memory! Well, I guess that explains a lot!
Alcohol also has a long lasting effect on the brain. MRI evidence shows that alcohol literally alters the physical structures of the brain. It weakens the structures and brain chemicals.  "Our heavy drinkers' sample was significantly impaired on measures of working memory, processing speed, attention, executive balance and function. (http://preventdisease.com/news/articles/Heavy-Social-Drinkers-Show-Brain-Damage-Study-Finds.shtml.)
So let's get this straight, by unwittingly walking into that lounge so long ago, I prevented my brain from proper physical and chemical function. Wow! Then I thought it was "cool"- so I managed to further damage my brain by the "social drinking" I did through out my life?! Interesting. And of course, as one the people that seems to metabolize alcohol a little differently by being converted quickly and neutralized slowly, my body adapted to the presence of alcohol..which is if you were wondering "poison."
There is not one cell in the human body that is NOT affected by alcohol. "Alcohol is a drug that can MODIFY one or more of the body's functions. From the MOMENT alcohol enters your body the tiny molecules need no digestion and are quickly absorbed. About 20 percent of the alcohol molecules are absorbed right through the walls of an empty stomach, and can reach the brain within one minute." (Jane Penz, PhD, Nutrition for Professional, 2009) Dr Jane goes on to say, "Alcohol disrupts the liver. The liver can package excess fatty acids into triglycerides and ship them to other tissues. (Triglycerides are stored energy for the body- very important.)When metabolizing alcohol, liver cells are forced to metabolize alcohol and fatty acids accumulate. The presence of alcohol can also alter  protein metabolism in the liver. Synthesis of some proteins important to the immune system slows down, weakens the body's defense against infection. With excessive alcohol consumption protein deficiency can develop."
The list seems to grow against this very popular pass time! It also seems that alcohol is non-nutritive, containing 7 calories per gram ( Carbs contain 4 calories per gram, as does protein. Fat contains 9 calories per gram.) I used to actually count alcohol into my daily calorie allowance. I did not realize that alcohol totally sabotages the diet process!! Alcohol has a catabolic effect on muscle tissue. "Alcohol actually damages skeletal muscle and is one of the most prevalent forms of skeletal muscle disorders, with a prevalence of 2,000 cases per 100,000 population. Although principally occurring in men (due to the greater prevalence of alcoholism in this gender) women appear to be particularly susceptible , and there is some evidence that malnutrition may exacerbate this disease. Predominant features of alcoholic myopathy include difficulties in gait, cramps, impaired muscle strength, and reduced whole body lean muscle tissue." ( Nutrition for Professional, Dr. Jane Penz)
Studies also indicate that even while I was sure I was making great food choices...maybe not!
Seems that alcohol crosses the blood- brain barrier and distorts our good judgement, and lowers our inhibitions. Seems that my choices really were skewed at best. Often I remember waking next to a bag (empty) of salty junk food...hardly a wise choice. Of course, I would crave bad foods all the next day as my body would scream for something to help it heal. Poison is poison.
I am very grateful for the second chance at life that I have received. I enjoy a fitness level that I do not deserve, I enjoy a new perspective on life and it's TRUE values, I enjoy many things, and endure things on a different level now.... I am so very blessed, and grateful. I know others out there are stuck in a negative cycle. It is your life. Truth must be accepted for change to occur. As for me..I prayed very hard.  The brain can be restored through proper diet, exercise, nutrition and temperance.. which is truly one of life's virtues. It is , of course, your choice.