Archive for July, 2011

Jul 26, 2011 Posted Under: Other

How to Dominate Your Fitness Goals

Are you ready to take control of your fitness goals? Do you struggle to maintain training motivation? Here are some ideas so you can dominate your workout goals and achieve whatever you want.

Setting you Fitness Goal Mindset

Setting and starting a fitness goal takes motivation. Before you begin, get psyched, and set your fitness mindset. Setting your fitness mindset means everything to achieving your goals. Your mind must transform before your body can.

Here are some easy things to help you set your fitness mindset:

1. Go shopping – Find some new workout clothes
2. Motivation Music – Download some fresh tunes to get you energized
3. Get Fueled – Stock up the lots of healthy food choices
4. Make a Fitness Space – Find an area around your home where you can workout when you don’t have time to get to the gym

These simple things can help get your mind prepared to get your body fit. The next step is to find a program and start moving towards your fitness goal. As you progress you’ll need to stay motivated and maintain your fitness mindset. You need to continually recharge your fitness mindset to combat boredom and avoid progress plateaus.

Maintaining your Fitness Mindset

Fitness goals take time and lots of hard work to achieve. You need to stay focused through the fitness program and continue to make progress. Dedication and focus will allow us to reach our goals, even though there will be times when our progress feels slow. The key is to maintain your focus.

Of course, it’s easy to lose some of the focus. So here’s what we need to do:

1. Mix up the Routines – Try a different exercise for a few days (Lace up some boxing gloves)
2. Go Outside – Take a few Kettlebells to the park and have some fun!
3. Get Extreme – Visit the local indoor rock climbing gym or try another high-intensity sport
4. Supplement – Try new supplements and workout drinks

Try these ideas to set and maintain your fitness mindset. It’s going to take hard work and dedication to reach your ultimate fitness goals. Losing motivation is a common problem for anyone trying to achieve peak fitness. It’s important to recognize the loss of motivation and do things to combat these little obstacles that stand in the way of our goals. Sometimes a fresh playlist, some new shoes, and little sun are all we need to get us over a hurdle.

Luke is a life-long fitness advocate and motivator. Join the Ultimate Fitness Goal team – The Goal-Focused fitness community where fitness is part of life!

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Jul 21, 2011 Posted Under: Heart Disease

Five Tips on How to Lower Cholesterol Naturally

High cholesterol is a common concern among adult Americans. Also known as hypercholesterolemia, the condition is often associated with heart problems and is considered to be the common cause of strokes. Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is naturally produced by your body. Its function is to keep your body’s cell wall healthy. However, being diagnosed as having high cholesterol levels, it is necessary to work on lowering it to acceptable levels. This article will show you how to lower cholesterol naturally.

Eating healthy foods is your key to lowering your high cholesterol levels. Having hypercholesterolemia is sometimes synonymous to being obese. However, there are unsuspecting individuals that are not obese yet but when tested will yield high levels of cholesterol in their bodies.

If you want to know how to lower cholesterol naturally, take a look at this list of essential foods.

  • Ensure you have fiber in your daily meals. High fiber foods include Oatmeal and apple barley. Foods rich in fiber aim to decrease the absorption of bad cholesterol into the body. Fibrous foods are also excellent anti-oxidants.
  • Fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which reduces the risk of developing heart conditions. Fish that you need to add to your daily diet include tuna, sardines, and salmon. Avoid frying in cooking oil, instead steam or bake the fish for a more healthy meal. Knowing how to lower cholesterol naturally will be essential to your overall well-being, not just lowering your bad cholesterol levels.
  • Keep your body active by maintaining a daily exercise regimen. You don’t need to enroll in a gym just to exercise. Brisk walking or jogging daily is a good workout session already. If you cannot afford to go to the gym, try utilizing the things that you have in the house. You can still get some exercise while at work. If there is a need for you to go to another department that is not on the same floor as yours, use the stairs instead of the elevator. Exercise is not just to lower your cholesterol; the activity is also an effective weight loss regimen.
  • You can do away with smoking and consuming too much alcohol. It is common knowledge that cigarette smoking will not do your body any good. Smoking is a big contributor to heart disease so you need to quit immediately. You will sometimes hear from doctors that alcohol can actually lower cholesterol levels naturally. You can drink alcoholic beverages; however, you will need to do it in moderation. Also it is good to increase your water consumption.
  • Avoid fatty foods – such as those that contain saturated fats, fried foods, and other fast food staples. You have to understand that your body produces cholesterol naturally; lack of proper nutrition in the food that you take will also cause you to have high cholesterol problems. If you need to fry something, make sure that you use olive or vegetable oil.
  • As an added bonus, you should shy away from processed meat, chicken skin, and pork.

Now that you know how to lower cholesterol naturally, there is no reason why you should not become healthier in no time.

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Jul 19, 2011 Posted Under: Back Pain

The Best Treatment Options for Sciatica

Sciatica is a condition that is brought upon by the irritation or inflammation of the sciatic nerves found by the spinal column. The sciatic nerves run from the lower back up to the buttocks area, thighs, back of the legs and even up to the toes. If a person is experiencing sciatica, they will likely feel pain in different parts including a tingling kind of sensation from the lower extremities down to the toes. Sciatica pain can be very mild but it can also turn into extremely unbearable pain. Also, pain is usually felt on just one rear side or leg. It is seldom that pain is felt in both areas. Nonetheless, people should not exactly panic when they are diagnosed with sciatica or when it has been confirmed that they are suffering from such. There is sciatica treatment available. Methods can vary though most of them target the same thing – relieving pain.

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There are several options for individuals to address their sciatic condition. Among these, perhaps one of the best methods to relieve pain is to reduce physical activity and try to bed rest for a couple of days. Walking or even the mere prospect of standing can already strain the nerves. People should see to it that they stay off the ground until the pain subsides. Bed rest is actually one of the most immediate solutions to such problem. The sciatica can also subside by itself if the body is given enough rest. However, it is also necessary to remember that bed rest should not be prolonged because long periods of inactivity can actually worsen the condition. Rest and physical activity should be balanced. In this case, the person needs to also perform mild exercise such as stretching and a little bit of walking. The muscles should always be firm and developed in order to provide better support for the back.

Warm baths can also help. They can provide a soothing effect throughout the body and in fact reduce pain like no other. The warm temperature can be therapeutic. However, unlike warm baths, heating cannot be used to address the problem. Such direct heat over the affected area can only worsen the inflammation. Prolonged heat basically exacerbates the symptoms which is not good at all. Instead, it is better to use ice packs. The cold temperature provides temporary relief and helps reduce the swelling.

Medications can also be used to treat sciatica. It may be over the counter or in some graver cases, doctor prescribed. It is possible to try different types of treatment depending on the preferences of the person. Treatment also depends on what the doctor deems best for the condition of the patient.

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Jul 17, 2011 Posted Under: Health

Overcome Social Anxiety by Thinking Differently

Some people have no problem getting in front of a large group and speaking.

However, for many other people – this can be their very worst nightmare. Social anxiety sometimes makes us imagine ourselves making mistakes and embarrassing ourselves in front of everyone. We begin to worry about how people may judge us and whether or not they will like us. Often these racing thoughts can have a dramatic effect on our bodies too: making us blush, sweat, stutter, twitch, and a slue of other antisocial habits that make us look insecure.

The problem is our social anxiety becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Our thoughts cause us to have certain experiences, and then those experiences reinforce those same thoughts that we are not socially fit.

How can you break the cycle of social anxiety? First, you need to start reframing your experiences and thoughts in new ways. It might be true that you have a poor track record of job interviews, presentations, or dinner parties. However, just because you had some bad experiences in the past doesn’t mean that you will continue to have bad experiences in the future.

What you can do is begin to view these bad experiences as a resource to learn from and improve yourself. Try reflecting back on that one time you had a God-awful date, then ask yourself questions on how you could’ve handled the situation better.

  • What were your beliefs going into the situation? How did these beliefs affect your actions?
  • What were your beliefs about your audience? How did these beliefs affect your actions?
  • Did you come from a place of strength (“I provide value.”) or a place of weakness (“I desperately hope they like me.”)?
  • Were you too shy to fully express yourself? Why? What did you feel insecure of? (write down a list of potential anxieties)
  • Did you view the experience as a learning experience? So even if you fail, you can still take something positive away from it.

These are just some questions you may find useful when reflecting on these past experiences. The more specific your questions, the more there is to potentially learn from. You have a better memory of YOUR experiences than anyone else, so be sure to dig deep and really get to the bottom of your social anxiety.

I believe that many of the causes of our social anxiety are inside our heads. Sure, there are some situations where we may feel legitimately worried or scared (and for good reason), but there are other times where our worries and fears are irrational and have no bearing on reality.

Seriously, what is the worst that could happen if you got rejected by a girl, or an employer, or even if you made some bad speech in front of a hundred or so people. It’s not going to kill you, and what doesn’t kill you often makes you stronger. Be willing to take more risks in social situations and the worst that can happen is you’ll learn something new about yourself.

I assure you that if you can adopt this new attitude about your social life the you’ll begin to see noticeable improvement. How you think (and the beliefs you have about your world) have a tremendous effect on how you act and the results you get at life. Be mindful of your thoughts and beliefs when going into social situations, and you’ll be able to improve yourself with time.

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Jul 15, 2011 Posted Under: Mental Health

What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that affects people during the winter months. It generally begins as the days shorten in September and begins to go away as spring begins in April. Also known as winter depression, seasonal affective disorder is responsible for around 10% of all cases of major depression. Research has also shown that SAD is more prevalent and lasts longer in the higher latitudes. It is not disorder that is found in more tropical latitudes.
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The symptoms of seasonal affective disorder are much the same as major depression and include:

Sleep disorders – Chronic fatigue, oversleeping but not feeling rested and needing afternoon naps.

Depression and anxiety – Daily tasks that are normally accomplished easily become frustrating to do.

Weight gain – Cravings for sugar and carbohydrates leads to weight gain.

Family and social withdrawal – Sufferer becomes increasingly anti-social and irritable.

Physical symptoms – Stomach and digestive problems, muscle pain and joint pain and headaches.

As spring approaches some individuals who suffer from seasonal affective disorder may begin to exhibit signs of mania and have boundless energy and creativity. If these seasonal episodes of depression and mania are severe enough the sufferer may diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.

The cause of SAD according to most research is a lack of bright light. It is thought that bright light sends signals to the brain suppressing the release of melatonin. Melatonin is released during periods of dim light or darkness and helps the body relax and sleep. Research has also found that while an increase in melatonin exists in the brain chemistry serotonin is not properly being accessed across neurons in the brain. Serotonin is considered the happy hormone and depressed individuals nearly always have low levels of it.

The treatment for seasonal affective disorder is exposure to bright light. During the winter months with cold temperatures and short days those afflicted with this type of depression do not get enough light exposure. Although outdoor light is the best treatment sitting in front of a 2500 to 10,000 lux light for 15 to 45 minutes per day will normally alleviate the symptoms.

Just how bright is 2500 lux light? It’s five times brighter then a normally lit office and most living room lights are normally around 100 lux. So simply sitting in your home with all the lights turned on will not be enough to banish the symptoms.

For more severe cases of SAD light therapy may need to be augmented with anti-depressant medications and psychological therapy. It is important that anyone who thinks they may suffer from seasonal affective disorder to seek treatment from their doctor or therapist.

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Jul 13, 2011 Posted Under: Health

Garlic Herb To Lower Cholesterol

Having high cholesterol is never a good thing as it can cause various health problems. Many people continue to take prescriptions that have been prescribed by their doctor in order to lower those levels. However, they may not realize that long-term use of those prescriptions could lead to other problems, such as heart failure. Don’t worry, because taking prescription medication prescribed by your doctor is not the only way to lower those levels. There are many other ways that you can reduce those levels. For example, we know of a good herb to lower cholesterol. That secret plant (it’s not so secret) is known as garlic.

Garlic is a plant that may remind you a lot of the onion and the leek. This is because it is closely related to those two. Of course, some people find it hard to get past the odor. In fact, this plant is also known as “the stinking rose.”

This plant has a variety of useful purposes. Many individuals use it to flavor their foods, which is great. It is also known for killing fungi and bacteria that can cause digestive disorders.

Another benefit of garlic is to reduce the clotting properties of the blood. However, one of the most popular values of garlic would be the fact that it helps reduce those cholesterol levels.

Despite all of the research that has been done, many people still question it and wonder if garlic really works. Those cholesterol lowering abilities of this plant seem to depend on the amount you take each day. It seems that the more you consume in a given day, the lower those levels are going to be. However, there are some studies that have been conducted that show the cholesterol lowering effect in this plant could be temporary. More research needs to be conducted in order to see if this is true or not. For now, one thing is for sure and that is the fact that it really does reduce the levels in the system, as long as you consume a good amount of it each day.

Of course, there is also the ongoing debate on which form of it you should consume in order to reduce those levels. The forms include oil, tablet, raw, extract or powder. Many studies suggest that when you take it in powder form, it is going to have less allicin in it. Allicin is known for being the active ingredient.

When you do choose to use this as a natural remedy, there are some things that you should take into consideration. First of all, it is important to let your doctor know that you are taking this supplement, because it could interact with certain medication or other conditions that you may have.

You should also realize the side effect. The most notable side effect is the fact that when you consume it, it is going to continue to linger around on your breath as well as your body.

In addition to this, if you are currently using any type of blood thinner or you will be going through surgery in the near future, you should avoid using garlic. This is because it can reduce your bodies ability to clot blood.

To conclude, garlic can be an effective herb to lower cholesterol. However, there are many other herbs that can be used to lower your cholesterol. If you or a loved one has high cholesterol, please keep learning everything that you can about naturally lowering cholesterol.

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Jul 06, 2011 Posted Under: Obesity

Obesity and Getting Fit for Life

Manuel had a problem with weight. He loved chocolate, donuts and potato chips, but he didn’t like the effects that came with them. He hated being shunned by his peers, especially girls, but he felt that he couldn’t stop eating the foods that were so unhealthy for him. He was not aware that he had an ongoing choice to eat or not to eat, and he felt out of control. His father, George, was overweight and kept a lot of junk food around the house. George had grown up with an abusive dad and took some of his anger out on Manuel. This left Manuel starving emotionally as the years went by. Manuel’s mother, Jennifer, was also overweight. She loved to cook and always offered Manuel extra servings of food, and somehow this made her feel valued.

Other kids would tease Manuel and call him names like “gingerbread dough boy,” especially when he was younger. He often felt hurt by these jabs, but he learned to hide his pain with a sense of humor. He might shoot back some half-hearted joke to let his classmates think their jokes rolled off his back, but he could not dismiss the pain that slowly grew inside of him.

When he was 13 years old, Manuel began to isolate himself in his room, gobbling down sweets while he did his homework and spent time on Facebook. Not only was he lonely, but he was starting to feel depressed. He longed for a girlfriend as he moved into his later teens and imagined that this would make everything better and brighter. Sadly, he was getting rejected when he reached out toward girls, and he knew it was due to his weight. He was almost 6 feet tall, but he weighed 300 pounds. As the teasing, staring and rejections triggered more pain, his caloric intake kept going up, and his self-esteem plummeted. His closest friend from school, Maria, was also overweight, although her problem stemmed from a different issue.

Maria’s Weight Issues

Maria’s mother was a CPA at a large accounting firm, and her father was an international pilot who was often away from home. They both worked long hours, leaving Maria home without adult supervision. Maria returned home from school around 4 p.m., and on most days she would spend the next five hours alone. To stave off the boredom that set in afterabout two hours, Maria turned to television. She sat on the sofa for hours on end watching movies and reality shows. During the commercials, Maria would go to the kitchen and find leftovers, cupcakes, crackers and chips to keep her busy munching while she watched television. Her walk to the kitchen was the most exercise she got after school. Recent studies show that there is a link between sedentary television time and childhood weight-gain problems, and aggressive junk-food advertising only adds to the dilemma.

Maria wasted a lot of precious time daydreaming that she would wake up one day and be slim, but that day never came. Many obese people are 5-star procrastinators who put off new diets “until tomorrow or next week.” Getting fit takes action, and Maria was content to sit. Those long, sedentary hours were beginning to take a toll on her health as she gained weight from her chronic inactivity. She tried to motivate herself to begin exercising, but she quickly reverted to the comfort of watching television.

Some Facts about Obesity

  • For adults, obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater. BMI is calculated from a person’s weight and height and can indicate risk factors that may lead to health problems such as cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, diabetes and depression.
  • Children are measured differently than adults, and according to the growth charts (2000 edition) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children are classified as obese when their BMI-for-age percentiles are at or above the 95th percentile. Children who are in the 85th to 95th percentiles are classified as overweight.

Maria and Manuel are not alone in their struggles to control their weight. Their cases reveal a disturbing trend among today’s youth. Childhood obesity and the number of overweight children nearly doubled from the late 1970s to 2000, rising from 8 percent to 15.3 percent. The numbers are similarly stark among adolescents as evidenced by an increase from 5 percent in the late 1970s to 15 percent in 2000. Obesity rates in the U.S. are among the highest in the world, and California ranks high at about 41 in the state rankings. Estimates have steadily increased from about 15 percent in 2000 to 26 percent in 2007. Recently, some research indicates that the trend is leveling off, but we have a national problem with increasing American waistlines. Furthermore, studies indicate that African-Americans had a 51 percent higher prevalence of obesity, and Hispanics had a 21 percent higher obesity prevalence compared with whites. All of these trends could be greatly improved with healthy commercials, better jobs and positive parent involvement.

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates these important facts:

  1. More than 75 percent of high school students do not eat the recommended servings of fruit and vegetables each day.
  2. About 30 percent of U.S. children do not exercise three times a week or more. People in poorer areas have less access to places where they can be physically active.
  3. An estimated 61 percent of obese young people have at least one additional health risk factor such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

Additional research shows that a large percentage of obese kids are depressed, although we do not know if obesity causes depression or vice versa. Experts are concerned that this growing trend will have a highly negative impact on the health and longevity of the next generation, and the healthcare costs will be astronomical.

Manuel’s Visits to the Doctor

For Manuel, going to the doctor’s office was becoming very unpleasant because all he heard there were lectures about diets and health risks.His father was also overweight, and his family had a history of heart disease. His physician, Dr. Bennett, said that his total cholesterol was seriously high at 350, and his glucose was in the diabetic range of 130. His HDL (high-density lipoprotein), also known as “good cholesterol,” was about 35 and showed his lack of exercise. Additionally, Manuel had high triglycerides at about 110. His LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol was of serious concern at about 200, and Dr. Bennett brought up the subject of medication. Manuel was opposed to this and promised to start exercising. Dr. Bennett said that Manuel had a high BMI and was obese.Because of this, he was 30 times more likely to be diagnosed with coronary heart disease, stroke, gout, osteoarthritis, hypertension, asthma and/or even some types of cancer.

The doctor was trying to scare Manuel — he figured Manuel could turn things around by joining a gym, but like many overeaters, Manuel was a procrastinator. He was headed for trouble and feeling pressured by his family when he decided to meet with me. His first girlfriend had left him for an athletic guy, and he felt devastated. I learned in the first session that Manuel was handling his pain by turning to his only source of comfort: sweets. At the time we met, Manuel was 17 years old and gaining more weight each month.

Manuel’s Struggle with Food

After a couple of sessions, I learned that Manuel had good intentions, but he found it very difficult to stay with a diet. He would experience cravings and repeatedly give in to them because he didn’t have any effective coping strategies to contain his cravings. When he experienced even a slight pang of hunger, he would almost automatically head to the kitchen, saying to himself “Oh, I’ll have just one scoop of Rocky Road,” but once he started, he ended up finishing the entire half-gallon. Manuel could easily forget about the ice cream after he had eaten it, which typically sent his parents into an uproar. His mother screamed at him, “You have absolutely no willpower and never think of the rest of the family.” His father was also harsh and said, “You are going to be one of the fattest kids in the state.” Relationship therapy could help Manuel and his parents establish a better relationship based on healthy communication and nurturing. Manuel was growing increasingly depressed, and told himself things like “See, you are just a loser, and no one will ever like you” and “You can’t even stay on a diet for a day, and you’ll never have any willpower.” This is the typical distorted thinking of depressed people, and Manuel was starting to develop serious symptoms of depression. Research suggests that obese people experience major discrimination, and Manuel noticed how people avoided him or stared at him at school.

The Relationship between Obesity and Mental Health

Recent research indicates that obesity may trigger psychological disorders such as depression, distorted body image, low self-esteem, and eating disorders. David Kats, M.D., and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison assessed the quality of life for 2,931 patients with chronic health conditions, including obesity. They found that clinical depression was highest in very obese participants. Evidence from the Swedish Obese Subjects study indicates that clinically significant depression is three to four times more likely for severely obese individuals than in similar, non-obese individuals. As the study suggests, many obese people are depressed and struggling with the following:

  • a lack of motivation
  • fatigue
  • a lack of interest in normal activities
  • hopelessness
  • thoughts of suicide
  • difficulty sleeping
  • sadness and feeling blue

In my second interview with Manuel, I learned that his father had been overweight for years. When Manuel was growing up, his parents would remind him not to take third servings, but his father consistently did so. Manuel rebelled by sneaking downstairs at night and raiding the refrigerator. First, he would eat ice cream, and then he would search for chocolate. Manuel craved chocolate, which researchers now know improves mood. This “chocolate habit” began when Manuel was about 5 years old when he would sneak food into his bedroom and gobble it down.

Maria’s parents, like Manuel’s, also set poor examples at home. Neither of her parents exercised,and her mother would come home exhausted from work and simply plop down in front of the television to watch the nightly news. Of course her mother was only reinforcing the role-model status that television had gained over her daughter. Maria really missed her father because he was often gone for 10 days at a time, and she felt wounded by his lack of appreciation and understanding. Maria could not remember one loving thing that her dad ever said to her, and deep inside she felt unlovable. Her weight was ballooning, and like Manuel, she felt powerless to do anything about it. But Manuel learned about a new possibility that pulled him out of his depression.

Could Liposuction Be the Answer?

When he was 17, Manuel found a reason to feel hopeful: a new procedure called liposuction. He felt that this was the cure he had been waiting for, and he wouldn’t need to exercise or cut back his calories. The doctor said Manuel was a good candidate for liposuction because he was very obese. Manuel believed that this would help him get another girlfriend, and that he wouldn’t have to change his eating habits. Like many overweight Americans, he didn’t really want to change, but he wanted the benefits of change.

A 2010 study in Journal Pediatrics found that about 590 teenagers between the ages of 13 and 20 underwent obesity surgery from 2005 to 2007 in California. The study revealed that the complications for teenagers were about the same as for adults. These included bleeding, infection, lung problems (post operative) and kidney failure while in the hospital. These procedures supposedly result in permanent weight loss; however, we do not know where these young people will be in 30 years. Manuel wanted the procedure, his mother had mixed feelings, and his father was strongly opposed thinking that Manual needed “to start working out and quit eating so darn much.”

In order for Manuel to have the liposuction procedure, the doctor wanted an evaluation from a psychologist to determine if Manuel had realistic expectations about this procedure. In my opinion, Manuel’s expectations were unrealistic because he believed that the surgery would magically take care of all his problems. It was my professional opinion that he needed to spend at least six months in an exercise program to gain some positive lifelong habits. I knew Manuel loved music, and research indicates that pulsating, high-beats-per-minute songs motivate people to move faster. Fortunately, Manuel was willing to commit to the seven-week program that would make a marvelous difference in his life. I only expected him to cut back on his calories after 8 p.m. and to work out four days per week for 30 minutes. Manuel needed to cut back on eating in the evening because he consumed a lot of calories late at night. Here are the five steps of my “Get Fit for Life” walking program that helped him get fit and feel good:

  1. Set aside 30 minutes to walk. I asked Manuel to decide on a time where he could set aside 30 minutes to walk. It could be in the morning, afternoon or evening, although I usually encourage people to exercise in the morning. Some research indicates that people are more likely to continue with an exercise program if they work out in the morning.Manuel decided to walk before he went to school, so he could get it out of the way.
  2. Decide on the distance. Manuel would determine how long his walks would be. He and I decided that 10 blocks around his neighborhood was a good start, and possibly 12 if he felt up to it. It was crucial to the program’s success for Manuel to commit to walking at whatever pace he wanted. If he wanted to go faster he could, but when he felt like slowing down it was important to do so. Speed-walking and running were fine, too. The key was not to rush things, but to enjoy the walk. We were aiming to develop a positive addiction rather than overexertion burnout.
  3. Listen to upbeat music. During his 30-minute workout, Manuel would often listen to music on his iPod. Again, we were aiming to make the experience pleasurable. He decided he wanted to listen to upbeat music, which would drive away his pessimistic thoughts and help him move faster.One of Manuel’s favorite CDs was “Black Star” by Mos Def and Talib Kwelli. He loved Lupe Fiasco and memorized the words to “Kick Push,” and he especially enjoyed Zumba music like Shakira’s song “Waka Waka” on the “Loca” CD.
  4. Continue for seven weeks then decide whether to go on. Manuel was to continue the walking program for seven weeks (49 days), and then decide whether he wanted to go on or quit. If Manuel decided he wanted to continue, he could commit to another seven weeks. After that time, he was free to decide what he wanted to do regarding exercise. This program increases the probability that many kids will stick with exercise because it supports a positive addiction.
  5. Don’t beat yourself up for a missed day. Manuel did not beat himself up when he skipped a day of walking, but instead reminded himself that “everyone misses here and there.” He and I then used therapy time to go over the ways that he sabotaged himself so he could understand himself better and really get with the program. Occasionally, he would start postponing his exercise and say, “Oh, it won’t hurt to skip a day — I’ll just go longer tomorrow,” so we nipped that habit with a change of thinking and behavior. Manuel was to get up at 7 a.m., no matter what he felt, put on his shoes and start walking. He could crawl out the door as long as he got moving and went the distance. He encouraged himself by saying “I can do this, walking is easy, and I can do things other people can’t do.”

The combination of relationship therapy, music, the guidelines for the “Get Fit for Life” walking program, and positive encouragement resulted in Manuel staying with his walking program. He often asked Maria to join him on his walks, and they would spend almost an hour walking while talking about their respective issues at home and school. Manuel reported feeling better, and he wasn’t as hungry during the day. Although he was still obese, his clothes were getting baggy as his body got firmer, and he felt good about his change. Manuel had found a new habit that led him to sign up for a five-mile hike. As he became more fit, Manuel’s self-esteem began to improve, and he felt better about himself. Teachers and classmates started to reach out and support him in his mission to get fit.

Some people say it takes 21 days to change a habit, but when it comes to developing lifelong exercise habits, I recommend seven weeks, or 49 days. Adding weightlifting to his daily routine helped Manuel become more fit, and he later decided to join a gym. He still had a long way to go, but he had made significant progress: he had lost 25 pounds and was more toned, he knew he could achieve goals he had never thought possible, and he seemed to have a new lease on life. Manuel was in relationship therapy for about six months building a stronger relationship with himself and later with his parents. When I last saw him, he had a steady girlfriend and had lost 90 pounds. Most importantly, he had personal health goals and a commitment to achieve them based on his success.

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Jul 04, 2011 Posted Under: Heart Disease

Guidelines For Lowering Your Cholesterol By Diet

There are two ways of looking at the word ‘diet’. One is to think of it simply as the food we eat. The other is to think of it as ‘a diet’, a regime of cutting out certain foods for a specific reason, generally to lose weight. Both have a role in helping to achieve lower cholesterol levels or to maintain normal levels.

A simple change in diet, combined with a few other easy but effective lifestyle changes can make a significant impact on lowering your blood cholesterol.

Choose ‘healthier’ fats

A healthy diet includes food from all the different food groups: carbohydrates; proteins; fats; fruit and vegetables. To normalize cholesterol levels it’s important to cut down or avoid saturated fats. For a healthy heart, around 25% of your daily calories should come from fat, however, not more than 7% of these should be from saturated fats.

Trans fats should also be avoided. They are found in processed goods, especially cakes, biscuits and pastries, and some margarines. They are listed on the ingredients as hydrogenated vegetable oils. Trans fats not only raise your levels of LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol but they also damage your blood vessels.
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Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in olive oil, on the other hand, can help to raise lower total levels of blood cholesterol. Extra virgin olive oil has particularly effective cholesterol lowering qualities as it is less processed and is very high in beneficial anti-oxidants.

Similarly, if you avoid fatty meats – especially red meat and offal – which are high in saturated fats, you could replace these with nuts which are rich in polyunsaturated oils. Walnuts in particular also help to keep blood vessels healthy. Fish and other foods containing omega-3 fatty acids are also ideal in helping to reduce high blood cholesterol and promote good heart health.

Of course, all fatty and oily foods are higher in calories and to maintain a balanced diet they should be eaten in moderation. For example, a handful of nuts a day is sufficient.

Other cholesterol busting food

Fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans and pulses also play an important role in a low fat diet as substitutes for foods high in saturated fats. Oatmeal, barley, kidney beans, apples, pears, bananas and prunes, for example, also contain high amounts of soluble fibre which helps to reduce ‘bad’ (LDL) cholesterol.

It’s worth noting, though, that a high carb/low fat diet can result in higher blood cholesterol as the liver starts to produce increased levels of cholesterol to cope with the large amounts of carbohydrate. Therefore, you should maintain your carbohydrate intake below the recommended maximum of 60% of total diet.

Other lifestyle changes

Lack of exercise or physical activity can increase you LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol levels. This is particularly true for those who are overweight. 30 minutes of brisk exercise, 5 days a week can be enough to raise your HDL (‘good’) cholesterol by as much as 5%.

Brisk exercise is simply anything that increases your heart rate. If 30 minutes is too much, break it down into two 15 minute segments or 3 ten minute sessions. Swimming, cycling and aerobics are all great, but a good session of house cleaning or tidying up the garden can work just as well for those short of time!

Regularly drinking excessive alcohol impacts adversely on your levels of both cholesterol and triglycerides. If you stop smoking, you could raise your ‘good’ cholesterol by up to 10%

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