Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The truth about cholesterol....

Today's Post: Tuesday, 1-31-2012

One simple way to put it is this.

You can lower your total cholesterol and your LDL cholesterol and not get much heart protection.

But it’s also quite true that if you do the things that do protect your heart, your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol will tend to go down.

That may seem to not quite make sense. But it is quite true.

Here’s why.

a) Total cholesterol contains protective HDL AND potentially harmful LDL.

So, if you lower your total cholesterol by lowering your HDL, your total cholesterol goes down but so does your heart protection!

Large particle LDL that’s not oxidized or loaded with excess sugar is thought to be quite harmless. Small particle LDL tends to cause heart disease. So, if you lower large particle LDL without lowering the small particle LDL, your total cholesterol and LDL go down. But you get little if any added heart protection.

That means that there are two ways to lower your total cholesterol that worsen your heart protection or leave your heart protection the same.

But if you do the heart protective things that increase HDL and lower small particle LDL your total cholesterol will go down somewhat and your LDL will down more.

The four things that do that best by themselves are:

1. Completely stop eating hydrogenated oils. Because they lower HDL and increase small particle LDL, hydrogenated oils are basically heart attack starter. Earlier this month, Friday, 1-20-2012, we did a post on this and how to avoid eating this stuff since it’s still in so many foods!

2. Build up to it safely and a bit slowly to be sure. Take short breaks when you need to while exercising. But get into and continue doing vigorous exercise most days of every week. This directly increases your HDL and lowers your small particle LDL. Recent research even found that every year you keep exercising this way, your protection and this effect keeps getting better!

3. Completely avoid tobacco smoke. It both boosts your blood pressure immediately and causes heart disease directly and the plaque in your blood vessels tends to cause high blood pressure over time AND heart disease.

Tobacco smoke, lowers HDL and oxidizes your LDL and harms and inflames your blood vessel walls causing any small particle LDL you have to cause even more heart disease. Every puff or exposure does this damage. Worse, tobacco smoke triggers heart attacks too!

We did a post on this and on new ways to quit last week on Thursday, 1-26-2012.

4. Take niacin. Even 300 mg after a large meal once or twice a day can help, particularly if you do many other heart protective things as well.

(Some people with liver damage should not take it. And taking more than 1,000 mg a day can cause liver damage in some people. So it’s safest to have your doctor check your liver function if you take niacin.)

But we now know that if your HDL goes up and your triglycerides go down, that means your small particle LDL went down too! When you take niacin, that’s exactly the effect you see! Your HDL goes up; your triglycerides go down. And the drop in LDL you also get tends to be the small particle kind that causes heart disease.

Best of all, research found that people who take niacin tend to have a lower mortality rate. In plain language, you not only will be less likely to have a heart attack or an obstructive, ischemic, stroke, you’ll be less likely to die from one.

b) Taking statin drugs can lower your LDL and total cholesterol. But only some people get much heart protection.

Most people have a genetic type such that 100 people have to take a statin for years to prevent one heart attack.

There are also some people who have a genetic type where 41 times as many people get heart protection.

Cardiologist, Arthur Agatson, wrote an article in which he said the test to tell which category you are in was only $150.

If you are in the larger group, you will be more likely to get side effects than heart protection from statin drugs. And some of the side effects are obnoxious such as cataracts and a feeling of low energy and some serious such as fatal muscle breakdown.

In that category, your LDL goes down but you get very little heart protection for the cost and risks.

c) Eating many things like whole fresh fruit and raw and cooked vegetables and cooked beans and lentils and NOT eating high fructose corn syrup, much sugar, or foods made of refined grains and NOT drinking soft drinks tends to lower your risk of heart disease in many ways. Eating raw nuts if you aren’t allergic to them also helps.

You’ll be less fat.

You will be less likely to have high blood sugar or type 2 diabetes, very high blood sugar.

Your blood pressure will be lower.

Your triglycerides will be far lower. And, your HDL will be higher. That means your LDL will be lower and much of that drop will be the harmful small particle kind.

In fact, because the oils high in omega 6 and hydrogenated oils are in many foods made with refined grains you will stop eating, your drop in LDL from doing this will be unusually heart protective!

This tends to create excellent heart protection. Yes your LDL will go down.

But using this method to create that LDL drop gives you heart and health protection that drugs cannot begin to match.

d) Eating this way and getting the regular, vigorous exercise also make your LDL you still have far less harmful for another reason

Eating this way AND exercise tend to prevent high blood sugar. That’s huge because high blood sugar makes your LDL far more harmful.

Excess sugar tends to stick onto LDL and make it like traveling sand paper in your blood stream. In previous times there was a weapon on a chain that was a ball of iron with spikes sticking out of it. Really high blood sugar makes your LDL about that hard on your blood vessels. The plaque that builds up on the damage on your larger blood vessels helps cause heart disease and this sugared LDL begins to simply destroy your capillaries.

This may even mean that the larger fluffier kind of LDL that’s normally harmless can begin to harm you too.

The bottom line is that doing these several things that ARE protective will lower your LDL and total cholesterol.

But, for most people getting lower total cholesterol and LDL by taking statins is not that protective.

Worse, if people who do all these things wrong take statins, the risks and costs of statins or totally wasted.

Doing these things wrong will overwhelm any good the statins might have done.

I read there has been a recent debate on whether or not doctors should put people on statin drugs to lower their total cholesterol or LDL if they are just a bit high. This has become quite common and even the norm for some doctors.

This information shows that this is NOT a good idea and that it is bad medical advice.

Doctors should know to be prescribing these lifestyle upgrades instead and doing so.

If they aren’t good at teaching or persuading people to use these upgrades, they need to prescribe seeing someone who is to these patients.

For their patients who are unable or unwilling to take that advice, the next step is not prescribing statins. The same is true if their total cholesterol or LDL is quite high. (High triglycerides or low HDL also would add urgency since that means high levels of small particle LDL.)

The next step is to have them take the genetic test to see if they are in the minority who actually get worthwhile protections from statins.

If not, the more common result, the Berkeley Heart lab found that taking niacin is far more protective.

Only if they do test in the group that statins help and have quite high scores or have already had a heart attack do statins make sense.

And, for the most at risk patients, prescribing the lifestyle upgrades becomes more critical. That’s particularly true for the younger, seemingly healthy people who have dreadfully bad risk factors.

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Monday, January 30, 2012

How & why to exercise as you sit....

Today's Post: Monday, 1-30-2012

Yesterday, Parade Sunday Magazine had an article on exercisers you can use while sitting.

Catherine Price who wrote it lists 4 different exercisers you can use while sitting.

(I’ll come back to those later in this post.)

Too much sitting makes you fatter and increases your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and mental decline. This is a LARGE effect! Unless you sit less or exercise while sitting it’s a more forceful effect than taking drugs for those things.

Between sedentary transport to work instead of walking, jobs mostly sitting at a computer, and TV or reading or video games evenings and weekends, most people today spend about two or three times too much time sitting for good health!

Watching 14 hours or less a week of TV instead of 28 or more helps. (You burn less calories sleeping than watching TV! And the fattening things you’d be better off not eating or drinking have lots of ads on TV too.)

Exercising during the evening when other people are watching TV or when you used to do so can help.

For some people, using an elliptical trainer or treadmill while watching TV can help. (Many gyms are set up for it.)

Getting regular exercise during the time you aren’t sitting can help. Walking and strength training for your legs are ideal. Even spending time doing housework or gardening while you are standing up can help.

But if you sit an hour a day during your commute, 8 hours a day at work, and watch TV for 3 hours, that’s 12 hours a day of sitting.

The Parade article and something I’ve been adding to my own fat loss progress report recently are a badly needed and I think doable solution to this.

If you only exercise while sitting half the hours at work and half the hours you sit at home, that’s 42 hours a week! Even if you only exercised hard enough to burn 50 calories an hour, that’s 2100 calories a week.

Both for keeping good health and for avoiding getting fat or getting rid of it, the data is in that 2100 calories or more of exercise a week begins to be at the ideal range. And, that’s time you actually have available now if you can exercise as you sit.

So, far, the state of the art is not very good.

The exerciser needs to be smooth enough in operation and just easy enough to do that between those two, you can do the exercise on it while you sit without taking your attention away from you are doing otherwise.

Since that’s most important at work and most people sit the most at work, that makes this extremely important.

None of the four exercisers in the Parade article will do the job for most people at their work as far as I know. Though one might.

The one that slides around is too distracting, doesn’t give you much exercise, and could cause you to fall and either be hurt or mess up work you’ve spent hours on doing when you put out your hand to stop your fall.

The foot exerciser is too much work to do by the hour though it would go underneath most desks.

The bicycle motion one with just a stand, something that turns, and pedals might work but won’t fit under most desks. The article said it was available for $150 at magnetrainer.com . (Note that URL has only one T.) If its size matches you and it operates smoothly enough, you might be able to use that one a home while reading or watching TV.

The similar exerciser that bills itself as an elliptical trainer is also available for $150 at staminaproducts.com . The author says it might work at some desks in a recumbent bicycle style.

That might be true if the foot strokes to operate it can be short enough strokes.

Those two very well might work at home if they are smooth enough in operation.

But for either at home or at work use, you’d want to have a very low hassle money back guarantee to buy online Or it would make sense to have them in a chain sporting goods store, such as Big 5, where you could try out a demo model and check out the clearances and sizes and smoothness of operation.

One or both of those might work at home. They would cost way less than a full scale elliptical trainer or treadmill. The key would be some way to test how smooth they run for you without buying first.

The second one might work for people at their work. But potential buyers would also need to be able to try it at work to be sure -- or want it for home use if it didn’t work at their job.

This is an area I’ve been thinking about for several months.

During that time, I’ve been ending my monthly, personal, fat loss progress report with this:

“Eventually I’ll also need to get a specialized minibike or other seated leg exerciser I can use while seated at my desk and another I can use while reading at home or at my home computer.

They don’t yet make those that I know of but most people today need them. Given the health harm of sitting too much and how many people do that, these minibikes or other seated exerciser for your legs and chairs that match them well are coming soon I think.

Walking burns about 300 calories an hour. (200 if you are skinny and walk slowly to over 500 if you walk really fast or walk somewhat fast but are much heavier.)

Using a seated minibike or other seated exerciser that you use much less effort on but keep moving slowly most of the time you sit can easily burn 50 calories an hour.

Then, if like many people today you sit for 6 hours a day, you could easily add an extra 2100 calories a week by using a seated minibike exerciser most of the time you sit at home or at work. That would help people lose about 2 and a half pounds a month for a few months once they got into the habit of always using one.

If I’d used one of the seated minibikes since I began my current fatloss plan, I’d still need to add the extra muscle to be at my goal weight. But I’d be trying to add muscle weight to get back to my goal weight! That’s because I’d be 10 to 15 pounds less fat.)

I’ve also had an idea for awhile. Before sewing machines had electric power, they had an under the work area treadle that was designed to be effective but avoid distracting the person sewing from doing their sewing.

It may be possible to find an antique sewing machine and find a manufacturer to make a design of that treadle mechanism that would do the same for people working at a desk.

It’s proven to do the job needed in actual use!)”

** If you’ve used either the MagneTrainer Mini-exercise bike or Stamina’s E1000 Elliptical Trainer OR you’ve found something else in that price range that you have used and would like to do so, please comment here!

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Ways to live long and in good health....

Today's Post: Friday, 1-27-2012

Recently there was an article on ways to live to be 100. I messed up & didn’t save where I saw it. (It made some good points, so I wish I had and could refer you to it directly.)

But I’ve used it as a starting point rather than just listing the ideas in it.

1. It’s helpful if your parents and grandparents lived long lives. Part of living long does look to be inherited.

But the genes for long life are complex and there are many. Not just one or two.

And, some of the apparent heredity is from doing as you saw your long lived relatives do or they taught you to do and what you saw them not doing!

The best news though, is that we now know that these genes are NOT rigid designs. Instead they are available built-in capacities. AND both the helpful ones and the harmful ones can be turned on and off, “expressed” or not depending on what YOU do.

The kinds of exercise to do and foods to eat and foods and drinks to NOT eat we often post about quite often are your control levers to turn your longevity genes on and not off!

Doing the reverse – eating and drinking junk, not exercising, and smoking or getting a lot of exposure to tobacco smoke tend to turn them off!

So, to maximize your genes for long life, read our posts and similar information:

Find ways to customize to you the health supporting lifestyle we write about and that work for you.

Do the best you can. The people who do tend to live into their 90’s and stay healthy almost all of their lives.

2. The article I saw said, “Don’t retire.”

That’s one way to do it. For people who make a contribution at their work and still can do so, who are good at their work, and who like it, that works.

Similarly, some people do well with partial retirement. Some cut back to part time. Some become consultants in their area of expertise.

The real message, though, is stay engaged and active in your life.

For many people not fully retiring from work does the job well.

But other ways work for some people.

Some people who can afford to retire from work and already spend time with their extended families or their church or nonprofit work or even their hobbies.
If these people then do these full time or close to it and almost as energetically and as solidly engaged as they did when they were working, that also does the job.

It’s the active engagement with live, staying active, and staying connected to other people that does the job.

I’m likely to keep working myself. But both my parents retired and used the second method.

They both work. Use one of them or both of them. But stay engaged and active.

This both improves your health and makes it worth continuing to live.

3. Use healthy life management strategies.

a) Be prudent. Avoid harm when you can. Always wear your seat belt. Be “proactively paranoid” as business author, Jim Collins recently put it. Find out about risks and how to avoid them and do it.

b) Be purposeful and well organized.

Develop systems and even day to do routines that you almost always use. Take actions you know work to achieve your goals. Find out things that might work and check for the facts and try them.

Have goals and purposes that are important to you. People who have a main personal mission or life work live longer than people who don’t. (This relates to the stay active strategy.) But it doesn’t have to be that grand. Having several things you want to do take action to do also works.

c) Be scientific, careful, and analytical when things go wrong. Things that go wrong do so for specific reasons and can be better if more useful causes are put into place. That’s the truth. People who assume they will stay bad are simply less accurate and less careful thinkers. Worse, it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy and excuse to do nothing to improve things. Learn NOT to shoot yourself in the foot that way!

But in working on goals or when things go well notice the good things and how they help you and how they keep appearing. Have hope and be optimistic. Remember things you got done and assume you can make these goals happen or you’ll find a way. Then take action.

Martin Seligman, PhD studied these two factors. People who are high in both have better lives in every way. They have better health and live longer. They usually make and have more money. They have more friends. They often succeed in achieving their goals big and small.

d) Be conscientious. Be kind. Be dependable.

You’ll feel better about yourself.

But even more important, you’ll stay connected to people and they will treat you better.

Both benefits help you live longer and enjoy it more.

e) Whether you or not take supplements too, be sure to know which foods have multiple health benefits and eat many of them every week.

Foods have the vitamins and minerals you can get in supplements. But they often do far more.

For mixed carotenes and calcium getting them in food is more effective and safer than taking them as supplements.

Many nutrients have health benefits in their natural form that are NOT in the synthetic partial copies in some supplements.

But the really important 3 reasons for eating lots of these superfoods are these:

Many nutrients such as vitamin E in foods, are complexes or families of related nutrients. The common supplement for vitamin E, alpha tocopherol in its natural form, does have benefits. But gamma tocopherol gives far more protection from prostate cancer. Walnuts have both kinds. Extra virgin olive oil has more kinds than just alpha tocopherol.

In some cases the supplement has a valuable ingredient even by itself. But the foods that ingredient is in also have co-factors that can multiply that value as much as 20 times.

Third, we don’t know all the values of all the nutrients in foods. But scientists are already discovering there are dozens in almost every kind of natural food.

Many of the supplements ARE valuable by themselves or add the value of eating those nutrients in foods. But the best health always comes to people who eat the most nutritious foods.

Blueberries and other berries. Raw nuts walnuts and others for people who aren’t allergic. Extra virgin olive oil. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables. Broccoli and other dark green, yellow, or orange vegetables high in carotenes. And, avocados -- are all super foods.

People who eat abundantly from these foods have dramatically better health and live longer than people who don’t.

For example, broccoli and other dark green, yellow, or orange vegetables high in carotenes contain alpha carotenes. People who eat them look healthier because they get a warmer skin color. But a high blood level of alpha carotene also goes with good health and living a long life recent studies found.

f) Get at least 6 hours a day of sleep. If you also exercise and sleep that core 6 hours at the same time each day or very close to it doing this works even better. Avoid sleeping more than 8 and a half or 9 hours most days.

g) Do vigorous and moderate exercise most days of every week.

It keeps your brain working and dramatically slows aging.

h) Learn to brush and floss right and do so every day. (The focus on that is stimulating your gums and cleaning your gumline thoroughly.) Get your teeth cleaned and checked every 6 months. This prevents gum diease which causes health harm in your whole body. It allows you to keep your teeth which helps you look and feel younger.

i) Stay connected with people and socialize with them regularly. Learn to do it well and find and stay connected with people you like and enjoy.

Be SURE to include many people younger than yourself and keep meeting new ones! That way if you outlive many of your friends from your earlier life you still are connected.

This does 3 things each of which helps you live longer.

You enjoy life more and find it worth staying alive.

You gain a support network than can give you essential help at times.

And, you get brain exercise from socializing that is hard to believe brain scans found. Just because you are skilled and have done it all your life, it feels easy. But the scans show it requires and activates enormous resources in your brain.

That means that socializing, just like physical exercise,keeps your brain working well as you get older.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

New breakthroughs in quitting smoking....

Today's Post: Thursday, 1-26-2012

1. The good news is that it’s now known that EVERY exposure to tobacco or its smoke is harmful. This is known in some detail too.

This means that second hand smoke is almost as bad as smoking yourself.

And, it hacks away the most common rationalization most smokers now use like Alexander’s sword cutting apart the Gordian knot.

That goes like this: “Some smokers don’t get cancer. So I have a shot at continuing to smoke and not get cancer. I’ll just presume I’ll be one of the lucky ones who don’t and keep smoking.”

We now know the reality is far different.

All tobacco smoke exposure EVERY time with no exceptions -- begins to add a brick to the wall of creating disease in your blood vessels that will cause heart attacks, strokes, ED (impotence), PAD or peripheral artery disease, and does the same to your lungs aging them very rapidly and impairing your breathing. It also gradually causes high blood pressure. And tobacco smoke exposure also causes blood pressure to rise within a few seconds and stays high for some time after the exposure stops.

The build up in plaque in the arteries to your brain from smoking can cause mental decline and does. And the medical procedure to remove it has a death rate. Again, this effect is sure and happens to ALL smokers.

Smoking not only causes all these disease effects, it speeds up aging too!

We also know that all tobacco smoke exposure triggers heart attacks in people who would otherwise have escaped them for years or who never would have gotten them. (That immediate rise in blood pressure is one likely reason.)

This is true of brand new teen smokers, babies in smoking homes, and smokers who only have 5 cigarettes a day.

In fact, they showed teen smokers that tests of their breathing ability were similar to what much older and even older middle aged people usually had.

Twice as many of the teens were able to quit smoking. That is very important to know!

Each of these effects is certain and happens every time!

No smoker or person exposed to second hand smoke escapes them!

Being lucky doesn’t prevent them. EVERY smoker is harmed and none escape.
The only effective escape is avoiding tobacco and its smoke.

Worse, the cancer risk from tobacco is MUCH worse than we once knew.
Tobacco and tobacco smoke causes 30 % or more of all cancers! It doesn’t just cause lung cancer.

And, we now know why. All commercially grown tobacco is fertilized with a fertilizer that contains small amounts of the radioactive element polonium. If this element gets into your blood stream, it tends to cause cancer everywhere your blood goes. So breathing tobacco smoke or putting tobacco in your nose or mouth puts radioactity into your blood.

That means that it can cause any cancer in the body -- from brain and colon cancer to breast and prostate cancer!

And the statistics show it does. This is NOT guesswork.

So, if smokers who might quit or succeed in doing so, knew all this information, the quit rate would be higher than it is now!

Just part of this information doubled the quit rate for teens for example.

Meanwhile most smokers have never heard of this other information. Most still believe that because not all smokers get cancer, they can escape harm even if they keep smoking.

So the first breakthrough that can at least double the quit rate and double the success rate of people working to quit is to make sure all smokers find out!

That goes double for people trying to quit.

2. Smoking actually does things for the people who smoke. Yet few programs to help people quit provide much to get ALL these benefits to smokers in other ways.

The other major breakthrough is that this is fixable. Some of those fixes are reasonably effective now. Better, each of those fixes is improving.

a) Smoking is a well anchored, conditioned stress reliever.

People who take long and slow drags when they are full right after dinner or enjoying the company of people they like have low stress. Then if they get over-stressed, they can connect to that unstressed feeling by smoking the same way.

And they do just that!

I once ran a stop smoking group for a company that thought people could just smoke a bit less each week starting with giving up the cigarettes people didn’t want that much any way and going from there.

It was strikingly ineffective, unfortunately.

With only the exception of an unusually determined man and a woman who had to quit to get married to a man in a religion that didn’t allow smoking, this problem de-railed ALL the other 50 or 60 people in my classes.

The majority of them were able to get to the point where only the cigarettes that connected relaxation to smoking such as right after dinner and the cigarettes they smoked when most stressed were left.

Did they give up those two kinds of smoking? Nope. When it came time to do so, they almost all dropped out and continued to be smokers.

But we now know a couple of effective and extremely fast stress relievers that have not yet been taught to smokers trying to quit.

Yawning and brief but vigorous exercise.

A few deep breaths is suggested now but doesn’t do much. Yawning with a related stretch of your arms and shoulders however is surprisingly effective. It’s even a bit faster and can be done immediately when you first realize you are stressed.

For people who know such exercises and can do them safely, doing a few seconds of an exercise vigorous enough to command their full attention and cause fast breathing – and then the recovery from it is close to as effective.

And, there are several ways to teach people how to get long term stress relief.

The best is to help people learn to take actions that prevent, escape, or turn off the stress.

That can’t always be done nor can these skills be instantly taught. But most smokers can quickly improve their skills in doing this.

Any regular exercise tends to increase the capacity of the person who does it to overcome stress without physical effects from the stress.

I read a study that found twice as many smokers trying to quit who also began exercising quit successfully than the smokers who didn’t add the exercise.

(That’s from other causes too. Smokers who quit also need relief from depression and a way to avoid gaining fat once they quit. Exercise helps do all three, stress relief, depression prevention or improvement, and helping avoid or remove excess fat.)

The other stress protectors are doing exercises that in themselves are relaxing.

Tai Chi is the best. People who practice it almost every day get very good stress relief. In people with high blood pressure, people who learned to do Tai Chi and who then practiced it almost every day, dropped their high blood pressure by 17 over
11. (It also burns about as many calories as walking during that time and is effective even in 10 minute sessions.)

This means that Tai Chi gives better stress relief in far less time each day than the other alternatives.

A recent study found that sessions of 30 to 45 minutes of swimming worked. (People with high blood pressure who took up swimming dropped their blood pressure by 9 points a recent study found.)

Some people who do yoga get this effect. But that varies a good bit.

Meditation works for some people but takes the most time to do. Not everyone can learn to do it or has the patience to do it. Few people have the time needed. And the average person gets the least stress relief and the least lowering of high blood pressure from meditation according to the studies I saw.

b) Depression cure or relief.

Nicotine acts as a kind of antidepressant though it does this more for some smokers than others.

The safer drug to help people quit is the antidepressant Wellbutrin, also known as Zyban for helping smokers quit. It’s the same kind of antidepressant as nicotine. So it does work to help some people quit.

The problem is that this drug has a very high rate of side effects which I once did not know. And, like nicotine, it works better for some smokers than others.

Nicotine replacements like patches and inhalers and “gum” have helped many smokers quit. But it too is not effective for everyone. And some people who do stop smoking stay addicted to the nicotine replacements.

Wouldn’t a more far more effective way to reduce depression without drugs be better?

How about one with other benefits instead of side effects and with a 75% or better proven success rate?

Few know it yet, but there is one:

The program creator has a book on it. And exercise is one of these 6 methods. People who do all 6 of his steps to the best of their ability do stop being depressed unless they have brain damage.

His book is available on Amazon in paperback. The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs by Stephen S. Ilardi .

c) Fat gain prevention or permanent fat loss.

Smokers who quit often wind up getting fatter.

My next door neighbor quit and then went back to smoking when he saw that he got more of a pot belly.

So know how to prevent that and doing it before or as you quit can really help!

When people quit their food tastes better. And some quitting smokers turn to comfort food to replace smoking as a stress reliever.

So another way to relieve stress and eating only nonfattening foods are both keys to avoiding this problem.

Our posts here often cover what to eat MORE of AND far less of to avoid this and that exercise helps a lot and which kinds of exercises people have time for that works best.

Also, Weight Watchers works for some people.

The basics are to stop drinking soft drinks. (Both regular AND diet make you fat.)

Stop eating foods that contain refined grains or harmful ingredients like hydrogenated oils or high fructose corn syrup.

Eat a DASH diet or a Mediterranean diet or a combination emphasizing eating lots of nonstarchy vegetables and less refined grains.

Cut your intake of sugar or sweet foods at least in half. Cutting it in half a second or third time is even better.

Build up to it gradually from what you can easily do at first. But do strength training and interval cardio or other vigorous exercise for a few minutes to half an hour almost every day. Do a good bit of extra walking too if you can fit in the time for it. Keep brief log every time you exercise. Try to do most of it first thing in the morning at home. People who do are more likely to be able to keep doing it.

Cut back a bit extra on calories only some days of the week. And only eat right all 7 days of the week with only a few exceptions each year. Do NOT overdo cutting back eating less too much or too often. If you do your body’s failsafe famine response will make you get fat again. If you find you have more than a bit extra hunger, eat more protein foods and nonstarchy vegetables. And cut back your overall calories a bit less.

Weigh and measure yourself a least each month on the same day and time each time. Take action if you gain to stop it. Keep doing what is working for you.

Fat gain prevention or permanent fat loss is doable. But it requires permanent lifestyle upgrades. Temporary starvation always fails and is not good for you either.

5) Health protection and damage recovery.

People who value their health who want to keep it or have it be better AND who take action to do so find it FAR easier to quit smoking.

Second, people who have been smoking have harmed their health and are more likely than most people to get the resulting diseases.

Mercifully, just quitting and staying away from second hand smoke turns down those effects. And that begins almost immediately. Much of the damage is reversed in two months and much of the remaining damage is reversed in a year or so.

But if you want to stay healthy, taking action to speed that up and to prevent heart disease and cancers is definitely a good idea!

But doing this, learning how, and doing it consistently also multiplies your chances at quitting smoking permanently!

If you spend several hours cleaning and polishing something, you might be upset with someone who messed that up soon afterwards.

Similarly, if you are working to protect your health every day and turn off the damage from smoking faster, what happens if someone offers you “just one cigarette?”

Before, you might have messed up before and just restarted smoking. Once you’ve invested your own effort in protecting your health and reversing the damage and begun to think of yourself as someone who takes action to protect your health, part of your reaction will be, “If I do that, it will mess up all my hard work!” And, “I used to not know any better. I’m not like that any more.”

So a major way to quit smoking successfully is to begin to take action to protect your heart health and to prevent getting cancers.

Our posts regularly cover ways to do each of these.

For example, one of the ways that smoking causes heart disease so effectively and every time you are exposed is that it causes your protective HDL to go down and even make what’s left ineffective at protecting you.

So begin to do things that boost your HDL. Use extra virgin olive oil instead of margarine or butter or cheap oils high in omega 6 like corn and soy oil. If you can drink safely, drink a glass of red wine with dinner most days. Try taking 300 mg of niacin after your largest meal each day. Be SURE to get regular vigorous exercise. Eat some egg yolks or wheat germ or take a choline supplement or all 3. Eat berries most days or several days a week. Eat raw unsalted raw nuts most days if you aren’t allergic. Stop eating anything with trans fats or hydrogenated oils in it. (See our post last Friday, 1-20-2012.)

Begin to do things that lower your LDL. Doing so with foods you do eat and stop eating is effective as statin drugs. It gives you more heart protection. And it’s dramatically safer. Last, you get other health benefits. Eat beans and lentils and lots of nonstarchy vegetables. For a grain food, eat oatmeal that is NOT the quick kind such as rolled or steel cut oats. Eat organic apples or applesauce with no sugar added. (Most of those foods also help keep off excess fat or help remove it.) Stop eating anything with trans fats or hydrogenated oils in it. (See our post last Friday, 1-20-2012. This not only lowers LDL, it stops adding the kind that causes heart disease into your blood.

Use ginger and curries with turmeric in your food on several days each week.
Both lower LDL and curries with turmeric eaten with black pepper also help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and cancer!

Stop drinking soft drinks. (Both regular AND diet make you fat.)

Stop eating foods that contain refined grains or harmful ingredients like hydrogenated oils or high fructose corn syrup.

Eat a DASH diet or a Mediterranean diet or a combination emphasizing eating lots of nonstarchy vegetables and less refined grains.

The foods and drinks in this list to stop ingesting, tend to increase LDL and lower HDL – the reverse of what protects your heart. And they increase heart harmful triglycerides. Add in that they make you fat by adding calories that make you hungrier and avoiding them begins to make a lot of sense!

So, if you know how dreadfully harmful tobacco and its smoke really are,

Have ways to turn down stress that work without smoking;

Have ways to make you not or less depressed that work without smoking;

Have ways to keep from getting fatter when you quit;

And, you begin to reverse the damage by doing things that reverse the damage from smoking,

It becomes dramatically easier to quit!

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Monday, January 23, 2012

My monthly fatloss progress report....

Today's Post: Monday, 1-23-2012

Since last month, I lost a half inch or so off my waist. My chest and hips dropped about an eighth of an inch too.

That’s the good news.

I gained 2 & a half pounds on the scale. That’s the bad news.

The summary is that to lose size and inches while gaining on the scale means that all or most of the weight gain on the scale was muscle.

But to not lose on the scale or to gain that much, I likely had no fat loss.

So last month was a mixed review.

I seem to have gained muscle without any fat loss. Since I did more exercise, I ate a bit more than I should have to lose fat at the same time.

Once again, there are three reasons for it.

First, I got more exercise and more exercise likely to build muscle.

I was able to keep up my one legged squats with a dumbbell and do more repetitions each time. I have completely managed to restore my whole jump rope sessions and kettlebell exercises twice each week completely since building back from the very bad cold I had in late November.

And, we had to walk quite a bit to take transit during the almost two weeks our car was in the shop because they were too busy to get to it right away. Quite brisk 10 or 20 or 30 or 40 minute walks several times each week is a proven way to lose extra fat. Even if you have been doing leg exercises, it hits your legs from many extra angles. So if you haven’t been in practice doing it, you do build new muscle in your legs and butt.

Second, although I did my partial fast at lunch each Thursday, I did slip a bit on my alcoholic drinks. They increased from 8.5 a week to 9.5 or 10. I plan to get that back to 8.5 a week this next month.

Third, even though I did keep a log of my after dinner snacks each evening – my new strategy I just began – and I did eat a serving of broccoli most evenings, and I wasn’t excessive in eating almond butter, I apparently now need to eat it a bit less by eating it with dinner OR as an after dinner snack but not both. Or I need to eat some nonfat cottage cheese and more broccoli instead of having any almond butter as a snack on my stricter days. I’ll try both this next month to see if that helps.

(I now need to lose 6 and a half pounds total to return to my goal weight. And, I still need to lose at least four to 6 inches off my waist.

According to pictures I’ve seen, I’m now at about 22 % bodyfat or a bit more, perhaps 25%. To remove my abdominal fat, according to those same pictures, I also need to add enough muscle to stay at or just slightly below my goal weight AND lose about 12% to 15% of my current bodyweight as fat.

This translates into losing 18 to 24 pounds of fat while gaining 14 to 20 pounds of muscle.)

My strength training has gone decently lately.

But I need to add some heavier dumbbells now to add more muscle. My largest one now is 25 pounds. So I plan to buy a 30 pound one and may get a 35 pound one too this upcoming weekend.

They will come in handy on my new program, doing a set of squats with one leg at a time, one for each leg, three times a week. I’m at 11 repetitions once for each leg while holding a 25 pound dumbbell. (Last month I was doing 11 with not dumbbell at all. Doing them while holding the 25 pound dumbbell, I’ll be at 14 reps soon. Once I do that, I’ll add holding the 30 pound dumbbell as I do them. That will be as if I added 60 pounds to doing two legged squats. (Then I’ll build up to using holding the 35 pound one and then to holding a dumbbell in each hand. I can do that even before I get another even heavier dumbbell.)

Eventually that will add some thigh and butt muscle and increase my pounds of muscle. In fact, I have already been able to do them without holding a support post for balance now as I hold the 25 pound dumbbell. (Last month I was using no weight and holding on to a balance post.)

So far, that plan is working and it likely helped my improvement on the tape measure.

So by continuing to do and make progress on my strength training, I plan to keep adding muscle.

Next month I’ll focus on continuing to make progress on my strength training and on eating more fiber and nonfat protein and less almond butter.

And I’ll keep doing my other exercises and every other day stricter eating plan and the few daily calorie cut backs I added.

Ideally, I’d like to gain another pound of muscle and lose 5 pounds of fat by next month. That would show as a 4 pound weight loss on the scale. And, it would cut my waist another half inch or more.

* X * X *X *

(Future improvements still planned:

Eventually I’ll also need to get a specialized minibike or other seated leg exerciser I can use while seated at my desk and another I can use while reading at home or at my home computer.

They don’t yet make those that I know of but most people today need them. Given the health harm of sitting too much and how many people do that, these minibikes or other seated exerciser for your legs and chairs that match them well are coming soon I think.

Walking burns about 300 calories an hour. (200 if you are skinny and walk slowly to over 500 if you walk really fast or walk somewhat fast but are much heavier.)

Using a seated minibike or other seated exerciser that you use much less effort on but keep moving slowly most of the time you sit can easily burn 50 calories an hour.

Then if like many people today you sit for 6 hours a day, you could easily add an extra 2100 calories a week by using a seated minibike exerciser most of the time you sit at home or at work. That would help people lose about 2 and a half pounds a month for a few months once they got into the habit of always using one.

If I’d used one of the seated minibikes since I began my current fatloss plan, I’d still need to add the extra muscle to be at my goal weight. But I’d be trying to add muscle weight to get back to my goal weight! That’s because I’d be 10 to 15 pounds less fat.)

I’ve also had an idea for awhile. Before sewing machines had electric power, they had an under the work area treadle that was designed to be effective but avoid distracting the person sewing from doing their sewing.

It may be possible to find an antique sewing machine and find a manufacturer to make a design of that treadle mechanism that would do the same for people working at a desk.

It’s proven to do the job needed in actual use!)

The best good news is that most of what I did to lose the 15 pounds I wanted and 3 pounds extra I lost temporarily is still in place. I’m still doing those things too. And, I am still about 10 pounds lighter than I was when I started.

I’ll certainly keep doing those things!

I’ll let you know how my additional planned changes and efforts work next month.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Hydrogenated oils & how to avoid this heart attack starter....

Today's Post: Friday, 1-20-2012

Research was done that found conclusively that ingesting artificial trans fats from hydrogenated oils caused the bodies of the people eating it to increase the amount of small particle LDL in their blood.

Oops! Small particle LDL is one of the direct causes of heart disease!

These particles are both glue-like and tiny enough to fit into the molecular chinks in your artery walls.

So they are something like pouring sand into an engine that’s small enough it get through the screens due to its small size.

But there’s more. They are sticky and tend to stay in your artery walls once there.

Worse, they either cause high inflammation by doing this or the omega 6 oils they are made out of do this or both.

Guess what your body’s defense is to harms and small tears in the inner surfaces of your blood vessels (the endothelium)?

It sends in and adds on glue like patches!

In small amounts this is healthy because it keeps your blood from leaking out of small tears.

But the small particle LDL and inflammation combined lay an extra foundation for this stuff to add to and ensure your body does extra. That begins to stiffen and close up your blood vessels. Then if you have a big piece of fat or some of this plaque break off and stick into the now very narrow passage, you get an obstructive stroke or a heart attack.

So hydrogenated oils cause a process that directly causes heart disease and the risk of strokes and heart attacks. It also causes ED and PAD, peripheral artery disease, and angina.

If you’d like to avoid having this process go on, how much of this stuff should you eat?

About the amount of arsenic, another slow poison, as close to zero as possible!

So, if you see something that suggests you limit your intake of this stuff to less than most people now eat, is that good?

Eating less is certainly better than eating more. But it’s not great advice either.

It’s about like having a big pile of dried leaves and shredded paper recycling you want not to burn. Yes, tossing three lit matches on it is safer than tossing 10 of them. But the safe number is zero!

Since it does add to shelf life, replaces more expensive fats and oils, and doesn’t cost much, hydrogenated oils are still in a lot of food left over from the days people didn’t know how harmful it is and was.

So if it’s actually still hard to avoid eating it in very many of today’s foods, how can you avoid it?

There are three ways.

1. If a food has a label, you can look up to see if it has any trans fats other than zero listed. If it has a number of grams of trans fats, take a pass. Don’t buy it or eat it or do so again if you have been before!

2. But you have to take a second step to avoid trans fats by using the label. The people who wanted to keep using hydrogenated oils got a ruling that allows them to hide small to medium amounts and still claim zero trans fats per serving!

If what they say is a serving has less than half a gram of trans fats, they are allowed to put zero on the label.

But often the average amount people eat of these tiny “servings” is often actually from 5 to 10 of them. That means that a product with a fair amount of trans fats, .48 grams per serving which qualifies for zero on the label, will cause you to eat 2.4 to 4.8 grams of trans fats. Yikes!

They are required to list the ingredients.

So check out the list and if ANY hydrogenated oils or partially hydrogenated oils are listed, the food has trans fats. Don’t buy it or eat it or do so again if you have been before!

This can be a bit obnoxious at times. I used to really like a meaty canned chili but was shocked to find it had several grams of trans fats. I put the can back on the shelf and contacted the company saying I can’t eat the chili and couldn’t they please find a way to make it without that problem. They responded by mailing me coupons for free cans of their chili.

Oh well.

Similarly, unlike some people, I never really liked Oreo cookies, so not doing so at all any more was no hassle. But some store bought cookies, with chocolate chips or nuts and oatmeal cookies and some others, I’d like to allow myself and eat some every other month or so. But unless such cookies are home-made they are too harmful to eat that often. Almost all commercially baked cookies have partially hydrogenated oil in their list of ingredients.

The third way to avoid trans fats and hydrogenated oils is to know what foods are made out of them or now have them as an added ingredient

With some foods this happens often enough it’s worth usually to almost always avoid them when you go out to eat AND always reading the labels if you buy them at the store.

3. Know the list of foods that are made out of hydrogenated oils or almost always contain them and almost always take a pass on eating any.

I was fortunate enough to learn about reading label and discovered many of these foods that way.

But there was an excellent article from Health.com dated 12-20-2011 that was featured on Yahoo that listed 22 of these foods!

It had the foods I knew about and several more!

So here is the combined list with my comments.:

1. French fries in fast food places and similar foods such as potato cakes tend to be fried in hydrogenated oils. Since they are high glycemic and fattening too, eat no more of the ever -- or eat half as much of them 10 times less often when you go out. Or make them at home -- which means you can use extra virgin olive oil and you’ll also have them far less often.

2. Pie crusts.

This one breaks my heart since I used to love ordering pie as a stand alone treat or dessert when we went out to eat.

But commercial pie crusts are virtually all made with hydrogenated oils.

(Now I order pie far less and just eat the filing on my piece.)

If you make pie at home, you can use nut meal or flour or 100 % whole grain or 100 % gluten free buckwheat for the crust and use butter, ideally from cattle fed only grass or coconut oil.

3. Margarine is made out of hydrogenated oils.

You can get “margarine’s” that are horrible tasting substitutes and one that’s mostly corn oil with less hydrogenated oils. It tastes OK but the high omega 6 corn oil also helps cause heart disease from the high inflammation it helps cause. So take a complete pass on buying or eating margarine.

Get butter instead. Don’t eat it often or use very much. Heat it as gently or as little as possible. And do your best to find butter that comes from cattle fed only grass. (One German company exports one now.)

4. Shortening is made out of hydrogenated oils.

It once was made out of lard from animal fat. Today with lard coming from grain fed cows lard is little better.

Take a pass. A BIG one.

5. 6. 7. & 8. all follow from this problem with shortening.

5. Most cake mixes;
6. Most frosting mixes or commercial frosting in containers;
7. Most pancake and waffle mix;
8. and, virtually all biscuits and biscuit mixes contain hydrogenated oils.

9. & 10. Fried chicken and fried fish often to always in some places contain hydrogenated oils. No wonder people who eat them often, common in the South in the United States, tend to have bad health.

11. Always read the label on ice creams. A surprising percentage still use and contain hydrogenated oils. This one I found by reading the labels!

12. Non Dairy creamer is almost universally made out of hydrogenated oils! Yikes! Way too many people who drink coffee now poison themselves several times a day with this stuff. Ouch!

Use small amounts of light cream (sold as half and half though it has no milk in it) or use small amounts of 2% lowfat milk or almond milk instead. Or drink your coffee black using a bit of ice water to cool it instead of a creamer.

13. Microwave popcorn is usually very dreadful stuff!

The kinds with any kind of “butter” or oil are all far more than 50% hydrogenated oils.

The high glycemic popped corn is not much better for you with no oil.

Eat as little as you can stand of any popcorn. Hardly ever use microwave popcorn and only do that AFTER you read the label. And never get any with extra “butter” added unless you, yourself add real butter to it.

14. Besides biscuits and pie crusts almost all commercial baked goods from cookies to cakes to breads to pastries to rolls use hydrogenated oils.

The refined grains they are almost all made out of are fattening besides. Eat as little as you can stand and never more than a few times a year.

Good tasting but horribly bad for you and fattening stuff unfortunately!

15. Biscuit based breakfasts have the same problem and contain hydrogenated oils. This has become a very common fast food offering lately.

16. Hamburgers, hot dogs, and sausage, and as I found out, canned chili, usually contain trans fats and hydrogenated oils.

(The hot dogs and sausage also contain preservatives recently found to be almost as heart harmful as hydrogenated oils.)

This is unfortunate since some better quality hot dogs and most sausage is quite tasty.

The good news is that it may be possible to make them without hydrogenated oils or trans fats and minimize the preservatives somehow.

But until that’s done, you are better off not eating these foods.

The Health.com article said that some canned turkey chili was free of hydrogenated oils. And, you can get canned vegetarian chili free of hydrogenated oils. These use beans only. Whole foods carries them.

(If you get beef from cattle fed 100 % on grass and an at home meat grinder, it is possible to make hamburgers that aren’t this harmful. But eating hamburgers in most restaurants and fast food places is likely a very bad idea for your heart health.)

17. Most frozen dinners contain hydrogenated oils.

Since they make them taste good and microwaving them makes them fast for lunch or dinner, this is unfortunate.

But the upside is that foods you prepare at home, in batches on the weekend if needed, will often cost far less.

18. Packaged creamy puddings often contain hydrogenated oils.

19. Most packaged beef jerky and meat sticks contain hydrogenated oils.

20. Crunchy noodles both packaged in the store and in restaurant foods contain hydrogenated oils.

21. Most commercial crackers , just like the cookies, contain hydrogenated oils.

22. Much to my great surprise, many regular breads contain hydrogenated oils.
This can even be true for 100 % whole grain breads. So do as I did to find this out and always read the labels.

23. Candy bars often contain hydrogenated oils.

I had several favorites from one company. Then I happened to read the labels. Oh my. The all had hydrogenated oils. Too bad. I no longer buy or eat those.

So, if you get candy bars, always read the label.

24. Peanut butter. Just like candy bars, you have to read the label.

I have to admit, after reading the label on one popular peanut butter and finding both added sugar and hydrogenated oils, I was appalled to see it advertised on TV as being great for Moms to buy for their kids!

The FDA never called them on it either! If they did, it was never publicized. And that peanut butter is still on store shelves.

If you are wondering what you CAN eat after this list, look up the foods in the DASH and Mediterranean diets.

Eating far more nonstarchy vegetables and eating whole fresh fruit helps in both.

Wild caught fish, meat from 100% grass fed animals, and safely harvested seafood OR very low fat and fat trimmed grain-fed meat or chicken in small servings on occasion and nonfat or low fat dairy work.

Nuts, and beans and lentils work.

Extra virgin olive oil works well.

And some whole grain foods may not be bad if you aren’t fat or trying to lose it.

After seeing this list, the wonder is not that half of the people die of heart disease, it seems the wonder is that the percentage is that low!

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Solutions to common fat loss problems, part 7....

Today's Post: Thursday, 1-19-2012

(Last Thursday’s post on how to eat out at restaurants and fast food places & still lose fat was part 6.)

This one could also be titled,

“What to do if your fat loss and weight loss stops or you even gain some.”

Last week Yahoo featured health writer and weight loss expert Denise Austin.

Mercifully, there are a LOT of things you can do besides what was in her article which we will include later. But because she has experience helping people lose weight, I decided to start with her 3 strategies.

(Here’s the direct reference for her article and how to find out more of her information: Denise Austin
http://www.deniseaustin.com/newsletters/push-past-your-weight-loss-plateau.aspx?xid=nl_EverydayHealthManagingDiabetes_20120111 & http://www.deniseaustin.com .)

1. Her first strategy is to be sure to check your portion sizes. If you are eating larger portions of any higher glycemic or higher calorie foods you could stop your fat loss. Conversely, if you are eating smaller portions of nonstarchy vegetables on skipping them when you didn’t before that WILL slow or stop your fat loss.

Both things happened to me. I was using a larger spoon to eat almond butter (and also eating more than one serving.) I noticed this and used one of her next steps to stop eating more than one serving & began using a smaller spoon.

Similarly, I’d been eating a serving of thawed frozen broccoli florets and dropped my portion to zero by forgetting to eat them!

I reversed this and began always having that serving of these nonstarchy vegetables. I dropped my effective portion size of the high calorie though health OK almond butter. And, I added something I’ll describe below. Instead of gaining a pound or two over a month as I had been doing, I lost a pound. And then lost another the next month.

2. Her second strategy is to keep a detailed food log for at least a week with the same purpose as the portion size check. If you are actually eating worse for fat loss and simply are unaware of it and exactly how you are doing it, you can’t fix it.

In my case, I eat the same breakfasts every day seven days a week --- though different each day with exactly the same portion sizes. And, I do the same with lunch 6 days most weeks and 5 to 7 times a week with my dinner when I come home. The variable for me was my after dinner snack. I knew the problem before I kept a log. But I started one I enter into each evening to help me be SURE to only eat one spoonful of almond butter—not more. And to be SURE I remember to have my serving of broccoli florets.

It’s working! Now, instead of messing up almost every night, I do what I want to do and need to do to keep my fat loss on track almost every night. That’s a BIG difference!

3. She also suggests increasing your exercise routine. She made a point of considering adding strength training or doing a bit more.

That’s an excellent suggestion! Not only will the added calories burned help, the added muscle will burn more calories even when you are resting. You’ll tend to lose more visible fat and inches off your measurements. And you’ll help ensure the weight you lose is all fat!

That, in fact, was my motivation for adding more strength training. I’d lost all the pounds I wanted to lose. But I’d also wanted to lose inches on my waist and only lost a fifth of what I wanted to lose!

Adding more muscle to feed without eating more will clearly cause the fat on my belly to shrink.

So, I’ve added a kettlebell session two evenings a week to my morning strength training which I’ve kept doing. And, I decided to find a safe way to squat with weight on my 3 morning leg exercise sessions I do at home.

I’ve not seen the results yet because I think I’m not yet built up to using enough weight.

But I’ve become more consistent in doing the kettlebell exercise sessions. And I can feel they are really exercising my whole upper body when I’m done plus I do get some leg exercise from using the kettlebells. When I improve a bit more, I plan to get a heavier kettlebell.

You can safely squat at home with weight if you are careful and do it correctly.

I found that you can do a partial lunge forward with one leg but slowly until the knee of your other leg just touches and then come back up while being careful to stay balanced.

I worked up to doing that 14 times with each leg.

Then I began holding my 25 pound dumbbell on the side I’m squatting with. I’m up to 10 times each leg. In a few days, I’ll be up to 14 and will buy a couple of heavier dumbbells.

These two added steps will add muscle and help ensure I lose no muscle while I lose on the scale. But my hope is that it will begin to change the way I look and shrink my waist too!

The other strategies to use follow the same design. Make more of a consistent effort to do things right each week. Correct course if you find you have slipped. And add more effort and a few or several new ways to lose fat to what you are already doing.

4. If you still have treats with sugar, keep doing it if you like. But cut how much you eat each month or week in half. This can make a BIG difference. How? I love sugar and once ate a good bit every single day. I’ve cut back that amount four times! That means I only eat about a sixteenth as much sugar as I once did.

5. Do you still eat or drink the stuff that makes you hungrier or adds calories without your body registering them and getting less hungry?

If so, make similar cut backs or decide to eliminate them totally or almost totally.

These include both regular and diet soft drinks. It includes all packaged snacks, all packaged desserts, and virtually all pastries and commercial baked goods. It includes all bread and rolls made with refined grains.

If you eat very little and only with other ingredients that support your health and eat right otherwise and exercise regularly, you can get a way with some treats that have sugar.

But this list of the foods and drinks are made out of high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, and cheap vegetable oils high in omega 6.

Worse even than that, it’s common they are made out of cheap vegetable oils high in omega 6 that have been hydrogenated. Research shows conclusively that stuff is heart attack starter.

These foods are almost invariably made out of 100 % refined grains. There is some evidence that people evolved not to eat ANY grains not even whole grains. And this shows up most in people who eat a lot of grains and get fat from doing so.

But with refined grains, it’s simply no contest. They crash your blood sugar up. Then your body increases insulin to get that back to normal. But high levels of insulin cause your body to store fat and prevent your body from removing any!

But it gets even worse! Then your blood sugar goes too low. You feel bad. And you begin to crave sugary foods to get your blood sugar back up. The problem is that the calories you take in then were not really needed to keep you going and healthy. And all this extra hunger causes you to take in calories that you wear as excess fat.

Then these foods have chemicals like MSG and related glutamates and others added by the company that makes them to make them taste better and be more addictive!

In short, to lose fat permanently, you want to do it without extra hunger

These foods and drinks and the STUFF they are made out of add calories without lowering your hunger or worse make you quite hungry for calories your body doesn’t need.

They are the exact opposite of the foods that help you lose fat without hunger.

Cutting them back to zero or virtually zero is one of the secrets of hunger free fat loss.

As a side benefit, it protects your heart and the rest of your health far better than taking drugs after you are already damaged!

6. Be extra strict but only every other day or even two days a week.

This has been shown to get better results than doing it every day! The reason is that you do eat fewer calories each week. But your body does NOT read this as you being in a famine. So it does not drop the anchor and stop your fat loss or reverse it.

And, getting plenty of protein every day also helps to prevent your body going into famine protection mode.

7. Try a partial fast for part of just one day a week.

Doing this for one weekday lunch each week where I only eat nonstarchy vegetables is the main way I recently resumed my fat loss.

As long as you still have less restrictive days each week and get plenty of protein all week, this too can lose fat and calories over a week without triggering your body into famine control mode.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Why strength training prevents mental decline....

Today's Post: Tuesday, 1-17-2012

Last Sunday in the Parade section in their StayHealthy feature they had an interview with Dr Gary Small who is the author of “The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program.”

They asked him what exercise had to do with memory. He first noted that the improved circulation benefits your brain. He noted that exercise helps prevent type 2 diabetes which is a direct cause of mental decline and may be of Alzheimer’s disease as well.

Then he said, “And we’ve found that lifting weights can improve cognitive health too, perhaps due to the brainpower spent on maintaining proper form.”

That’s true from what I’ve read. But there are several other reasons. Then too there are other ways to get that effect. And, there are other kinds of exercises that give you similar effects.

That’s what this post is about. And, there are supplements that add to one of these likely effects.

To do strength training well, you do have to maintain proper form at least to some degree or you’ll injure yourself.

Some styles or patterns to doing strength training give you better results. It takes mental effort and focus to do those patterns. You count the number of repetitions. You monitor your level of effort. You focus and increase your effort at certain key times. You manage and sequence the exercises and sets.

If you are experienced and want to keep exercising you often write down what you did in a log in abbreviated form. You then compare what you did with what you wanted to do and what you did before.

Each of those are executive functions that you also use to remember and recall things. With memory, you note things you want to remember later. You organize the like things you want to remember and how they relate to each other.

And, when you want to recall things, you think of all the things that are associated with them as an aid to the recall. These range from remembering where you learned that thing to what letter the word started with to why you thought it important at the time and more.

When you use the executive skills doing strength training, you not only develop skill, your brain grows new brain cells and connections that support the executive function.

And the more of those you have, the more you can lose without the overall system not working.

But strength training also makes losing brain cells less likely!

(Surprisingly, regular conversation and social contact has similar effects on your executive skills and the nerves it grows and uses.)

You do get the better circulation from strength training too. You get stress relief. And such exercise produces several chemical messengers that help your body control blood sugar and avoid getting too fat or help losing fat.

But the huge benefit of well done strength training is that it causes growth hormone release! One of those hormones, BDNF, grows new nerves and brain cells! This may happen to build up the nerves in your brain and muscles to support the kind of exercise you are doing. Some of those new brain cells are in the same executive skills areas that you use in memory skills. And, all the rest of your brain gets the benefit too.

Also, exercises such as strength training, interval cardio, doing a martial art, dancing – particularly at a fast or brisk pace, aerobic dancing, or doing a competitive sport -- all have these similar effects too!

I just read an online story today from Scientific American noting that one cause of mental decline from aging is that as the cells in your body age, they stop producing as much of something called, “Lon Protease.”

(I strongly suspect the growth hormone release from such exercises slows this drop off effect also.)

That compound helps your cells to avoid damage from oxidation. In particular, it helps to avoid damage to the mitochondria in your cells. The mitochondria are the energy and power centers of each of your cells. You feel you have less energy because you do have less if your mitochondria are damaged. But worse than that, your cells can die if they get too much of this kind of damage.

But the kind of exercise that increases circulation and boosts your growth hormones dramatically slows aging. It prevents the messages in your nerves from slowing down. And it may even preserve the ability of your body to repair things with its own stem cells.

Also you can also prevent this damage and even reverse it to some degree with some foods and supplements.

And, there is a supplement that directly protects and increases the health of your mitochondria.

Oranges, berries, many other kinds of fruit, and most raw vegetables are high in vitamin C. Eating those foods and taking 500 mg or more a day of vitamin C does the double.: The vitamin C is an antioxidant and directly protective. And, some studies have found that getting enough vitamin C keeps your telomeres from getting shorter which directly slows aging.

Taking the natural form of vitamin E, not the inferior synthetic one, and eating health OK oils in foods gives you the whole complex of highly antioxidant E vitamins, tocopherols and tocotrienols, is a powerful way to boost these antioxidants in your body. Nuts, avocados, and extra virgin olive oil are great sources to use.

The supplement alpha lipoic acid helps your body get more antioxidant effects from both water soluble antioxidants like vitamin C and fat soluble ones like vitamin E.

The most effective version of the supplement that directly protects and increases the health of your mitochondria is called ubiquinol.

(CoQ10 is processed by your body into ubiquinol. And the form your body uses is ubiquinol. You can take CoQ10; but your body may be inefficient in converting it into ubiquinol. And your blood stream has far less to use than it does if you take ubiquinol directly studies found.

Or to put it the other way around, you might need to take 400 mg of CoQ10 3 times a day to get the same effect as talking 100 mg of ubiquinol two times a day.)

Like many other key compounds, your body makes ubiquinol or CoQ10 when you are younger.

But to have that same energy and heart and brain health when you are old enough that no longer happens much, it helps a good deal to take ubiquinol.

Now this new information shows taking ubiquinol may also prevent your brain cells from dying too!

All this shows that you CAN protect your brain from mental decline by doing vigorous exercise every week that commands your executive attention from dance aerobics to strength training.

You can enhance and extend that effect by eating organic foods high in antioxidants and taking good quality antioxidant supplements.

And, you can enhance and extend those effects by also taking the supplement ubiquinol.

Even better, each of those steps improves your heart health and overall health too!

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Focusing on fast benefits of exercise helps people start & keep doing it....

Today's Post: Monday, 1-16-2012

Last Friday, HealthDay News had this story: “Need to Exercise More? Think How It Will Help You Now” By Dennis Thompson HealthDay Reporter.

The story was about a University of Michigan study which found that women who exercised based on short term positive quality of life effects worked out 15 percent to 34 percent more often than women who did not.

Long term goals such as slowing aging or losing fat and keeping it off or gradually getting more and more protection for your heart may motivate many to start exercising. These goals may help keep you exercising too.

And, eventually you can see the results for many of these long term goals. The fat and pounds you lost don’t all come back as they did when you lost them without doing exercise. Your HDL cholesterol goes up more each time and your LDL and triglycerides go down. Your blood sugar readings are better. Your blood pressure reading may go down if it was high before.

BUT, to get those results you have to start exercising. You have to do enough exercise and do it enough days each week to be effective. And you have to keep doing it every week!

What this study shows is that the many benefits you notice right away are much more important in helping you do those things than we may have known before.

The good news is exercise DOES give you these immediate benefits!

1. We just posted that even short sessions of vigorous exercise give you almost immediate stress relief.

Regular exercise also increases your ability to withstand stress more and longer before it makes you feel stressed. And you can function better when you are stressed.

Many exercisers notice this even in the first few weeks after they first start exercising.

2. The article said that women in the study found this effect enabled them to be more laid back and in a better mood with their children. Having a better mood and being less irritable also gets better results and gives them a second benefit because their families are then in a better mood too!

3. Almost all people, and especially women, get a strong boost to their self esteem even in the first week or two after they begin exercising.

4. The much better circulation and increased neurotransmitters from vigorous exercise also give you a feeling of mental clarity and effortless energy.

That is very rewarding and can happen the same day you do that kind of exercise even on the first day!

5. For men and for everyone wanting to lose fat or get stronger, it can be quite rewarding to see and feel that your exercise is doing the job!

a) This works great for people new to exercise. You can do a given effort more times or you can use more weight or do the exercise faster almost every week after you start exercising and for several weeks more. (After that, you do have to work a bit more to improve or work at the same level for a bit.)

That’s really fun and enormously motivating! (You do have to start slow and increase slowly enough to avoid injury or burn out to do this. But it is doable.)

b) And, when you do strength training that is working to build you up or do vigorous enough interval cardio, when you are done, you can literally feel the extra blood in the muscles you just exercised. You can often feel the extra circulation when you do either very vigorously just after you finish the exercise.

You can see it too as your whole body will turn pinker from the extra circulation.

6. While it may take a couple of years to lose a lot of fat or make incredible improvements in your heart health blood tests, 80% of the health improvements happen in the first 3 to 6 months! They begin to happen the first week! And you do NOT have to lose more than a bit of your fat or get more than a bit stronger either.

For health, regular exercise gets fast results even on the long term goals!

I once posted that one of the reasons for anyone losing fat to immediately start exercising is that exercise begins to deliver the results people are losing that fat to achieve! They feel better; their self esteem is better; they look happier; and their health improves. And this all happens even well before all the fat they will lose comes off!

In short, when you exercise, you feel better and are easier to be around and become healthier and begin to feel the results right away.

Once you notice these results and see they stop if you skip a few exercise sessions, it also becomes much easier to keep exercising!

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Friday, January 13, 2012

How to get fast stress relief....

Today's Post: Friday, 1-13-2012

There are three ways to get fast stress relief.

1. Escape soon.

2. Get Powerful help right away.

3. Use the quick ways to lower your body’s stress relief.

You tend to be stressed by events that threaten to harm you and that you haven’t enough resources to turn off.

1. The first method can work. In some situations, you can get out of the situation where you are threatened. When you turn off the threat by getting away from the situation where it exists, you can lower your stress level.

Here’s a common example. Successfully landing a job with nicer and saner or less stressed people and a stronger company for which you can do more can be a great way to escape a job with mean, incompetent, or abusive bosses or coworkers. They may still be just as hard to take. But once you are no longer there, your stress stops!

2. Get powerful help right away.

Often stress is caused by a problem money or expertise or knowledge will solve.

If you have a problem that costs more money to fix than you have, you may have a friend or relative who can give that to you or even lend it to you in a way that you’ll be able to pay back. This can be an enormous relief.

Or if you can get some money from a relative as a gift, get a loan from a friend, and pay for some of it with your credit card, that can also solve your problem and cut your stress too.

Sometimes you may be totally unable to solve a problem or escape a threat because you lack the knowledge or expertise to do so. If you can afford help and get a referral to someone who has what you lack, that also works!

This even works for countries! When the United States entered World War II, Winston Churchill put his feeling of stress relief very well. “I went to bed and slept the sleep of the saved and thankful.”

Both of these two methods work best the sooner you can use them because you are under stress for a shorter time and less likely to be harmed by the threat.

One study of people who lived unusually long lives found that, more than shorter lived people, those who lived long tended to have used one of these methods to escape or overcome a very large source of stress at least once.

3. Fast physical stress relief when needed:

But what about being under stress suddenly when something happens that is out of your control to prevent?

What happens when you have too many small stresses gang up on you all at once or for too long?

Often your body goes into flight or fight syndrome too much or stays in it too long and totally wears you out.

Then that makes the original problem worse and can make you sick or speed up your aging process.

Learning and doing Tai Chi or some forms of Yoga or meditation ahead of time and doing it every week can make this less likely.

So can doing regular exercise.

These things increase your ability to tolerate stress or prevent your body from over-reacting.

But, if you have too much of this stress reaction or can’t turn it off when you need to, what can you do to give yourself a stress break that works FAST?

a) How about one you already know how to do that takes -- and works -- in about 30 seconds?

Believe it or not, yawning and stretching while you do also drops your physical stress significantly.

It feels strange at first to do this on purpose instead of automatically when you need more oxygen or to wake up more when needed. But it’s easy enough to do, you don’t need a lot of practice.

What you do need to practice is noticing when you are a bit too stressed and getting in the habit of always using it when that happens.

b) Another method that’s almost as good and one that helps stop you from mentally obsessing about something that’s stressing you is to stop and do a set of a very vigorous exercise. Do 20 fast pushups or squats or jumping jacks. Run fast in place for 30 seconds. It works. And it works right away too.

It works for two reasons. You have to focus hard enough on doing it, you stop obsessing because you have to concentrate on your exercise to do it that vigorously. But you also get the extra oxygen and blood circulation from doing the exercise and when your body goes into recovery mode from the exercise slowing your heart rate and breathing, your body turns your physical stress response down too.

c) For those who aren’t in a situation where slowed reactions would be dangerous or where they can’t drink due to addiction problems, drinking one or possibly two alcoholic drinks right away can do this too. This works quickly and within a few minutes.

It works surprisingly well for temporary stress relief. That’s one reason for the popularity of drinking. And it’s one of the several reasons that moderate drinkers have better health than people who don’t drink.

But drinking more is unwise. It adds very little more stress relief, costs you more money, and makes dangerous and added problems more likely. Worse, you then wake up with a hangover and still have the original problem too!

d) Find a way to laugh. Truly, a merry heart is one of the world’s best medicines!

Like yawning or vigorous exercise, laughing is hard wired to turn down your physical stress. And it’s VERY effective.

You can laugh at how ridiculous your efforts to solve the problem have been.

You can laugh at how crazy our world is.

You can go hang out with friends who laugh and make you laugh.

Or you can watch a movie or a video or a TV show that makes you laugh.

Of these, hanging out with friends who laugh or watching comedy that makes you laugh tend to work best.

In a recent email, health writer Frank Mangano added these ideas:

e) Go outside. Sunshine even through dark overcast boosts your vitamin D levels and positive brain chemicals enough to brighten your mood. Recently they found out that compound you smell or breathe in from trees boosts your mood.

Weather can be intense enough to relieve stress like vigorous exercise since it commands your attention.’

And sometimes being outside shows you scenes of enough beauty to engage your emotions in a positive way. This too commands your attention long enough to turn down stress.

If the outside air is clean, taking deep breaths of it can enhance the effect.

Or if you walk briskly that lowers your stress from the exercise and from being outside too.

f) Have a Hobby and spend some time doing it.

You control doing it. You can be creative doing it and engage your ability to solve other problems. You enjoy doing it and are usually good at it.

Each of these things and feelings turn down your stress response.

g) Talk to someone

This can be someone who can help you with the problem. This can be someone who shows they care and support you when you talk about your problem. Or it can be someone interesting or fun to talk that simply distracts you from what’s stressing you. (It’s one of the reasons Facebook has become so popular.)

h) Take time to breathe deeply for a few minutes.

Like yawning this boosts your oxygen in your system. It takes your mind off what’s stressing you as you do it and boosts your circulation and lowers your stress as your body recovers from it just like vigorous exercise does.

i) Get a pet

If you are in a living situation where you can and you can support one and aren’t allergic, getting a pet you are good to can help lower stress enormously.

Being nice to your pet and having them respond can make you feel empowered even if you have felt powerless by what’s stressing you.

A pet can be glad to see you when no one else is. And a pet can show concern when they sense you are upset.

Simply put, pets are proven stress relievers.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

How to eat in restaurants and still lose fat....

Today's Post: Thursday, 1-12-2012

(This is also “Solutions to common fat loss problems, part 6”; but I wanted to make it easy for people with the problem to find it!)

People eat out and at restaurants for far more of their food than they once did.

So if they do it wrong, it can make it impossible to lose fat and its weight. It can even cause fat and weight gain!

Worse, restaurants and fast food places make it quite easy to eat too much and of the worst foods and drinks. And, they can at times make it hard to eat well.

So between the importance and the difficulty of this problem it’s important to know how to solve it.

The good news is that solving this problem is quite doable.

One group that learned one set of strategies to use in restaurants, wound up using them at home too and lost weight both eating out AND at home.

That set of strategies we’ll cover last.

1. First, many people eat breakfast and lunch at restaurants. And due to the time pressures and the large number of fast food places, people often eat at fast food places for these meals.

There are four ways to solve this problem.

a) You can often find a way to eat at your desk or in your company break room and bring your breakfast and lunch most days. You control that far more. And the things that will harm your health and make you fat can be left off your menu totally.

Similarly, you can eat a fast but healthy breakfast at home that’s faster to eat than the time needed to go to a fast food place.

I do both. I prep both my breakfasts and part of my bag lunches the night before. Each of them takes less than 10 minutes to eat.

b) You can edit what you order and which parts of it you eat even if you go to a fast food place. For this you have to really know to avoid the things that harm you and make you fat. And you have to do it when you are hungry.

It IS doable if you focus on why NOT to eat the bad stuff and order and eat enough of the good or at least better stuff to turn off your hunger.

Drink water or coffee or tea and never get soft drinks! Both regular AND diet are proven to make you fat and aren’t that great for your health either.

This is close to half the battle in terms of fat loss because all soft drinks are so fattening!

Leave out all or almost all of the refined grain foods.

Ask for your sandwiches “Atkins style” on a plate with no bread. Or remove the bread you are served and toss it in with the other trash before you go. You will need to get a fork or use your fingers in the worst case. But most places do have plastic spoons and forks at least.

Ask they not serve extra bread or a package of chips. If they do serve it, leave it or toss it out. These both surge your blood sugar and add extra calories and give you no real nutrition. The chips are proven fatteners and the bread is little better.

Virtually NEVER order or eat croissants or dessert foods at a fast food place.

Once you remove the refined grains, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and bad oils or worse, hydrogenated oils, from these things you have nothing left! And every single one of those ingredients is both fattening and harmful to you!

(Bring a bit of raw nuts or a dark chololate bar to eat before you go in or after for dessert if you really want one.)

Skip or toss out the fries. If you are very hungry and love them, get the smallest package and eat less than half of them. (They surge your blood sugar as much as bread and more than sugar! And the oils they are cooked in aren’t that great for you, all are high in omega 6 oils; and fries add extra calories and no nutrition. Plus most people eat enough salt without adding the salt in fries.)

If you get a hamburger or two, ask for extra onion and be sure to get and eat the lettuce and tomato. The onion and lettuce and tomato help fill you up. And the onion is a partial antidote to the fats in the hamburger.

If they offer it, it can also be worth getting grilled chicken or ham or sliced turkey or avocado instead of hamburger.

(Don’t eat fish in fast food places. Except for the halibut at Fish and Chips places, the other fish is farmed fish which are incredibly high in pollutants.)

If one meat serving and the vegetables will leave you too hungry without the chips, fries, and bread, order two.

Some fast food places now will give you a decent salad with no dressing or dressing on the side. Even if you only eat part a salad they are made up out of lettuce and tomatoes and onions, each of which is a nonstarchy vegetable that will help fill you up.

c) Go to Subway! If you can avoid the bread and get your sandwich Atkins style and NOT get desserts or soft drinks, Subway is a great resource!

There are Subway locations almost everywhere. And they DO have choices like grilled chicken, ham, sliced turkey, and avocado for their sandwich fillings.

Best of all, they allow you to add all the diced onion, tomato, and other veggies you want at no extra charge. They also have a great tasting diced up mild pepper you can get. If you get a vegetarian or avocado sandwich and a turkey sandwich both Atkins style and add these veggies to your taste, you can eat quite well at a Subway for lunch and not eat or drink fattening stuff!

d) Eat at home or work most days. But when you do eat out go to a better class of restaurant. Good restaurants will be more comfortable with special requests and have better food choices on the menu. This strategy costs about the same as fast food every day. But it is often much better for you and less fattening.

2. What were the strategies used by the people in the article I read that lost weight after learning them even while they ate at restaurants a lot?

They learned which foods to order on the menus of the restaurants they went to. If they had been eating fattening foods before, they tried the more healthful and less fattening choices.

a) If they had been eating the appetizers and desserts and second or third glasses of wine suggested by the wait staff, they usually to always said no instead of always saying yes!

b) They were also taught a strategy I’m personally fond of.

“Make each calorie count.” They were taught to occasionally eat treat foods but only their most favorite ones. If it was an OK but not great treat food always pass! Why waste your extra calories on stuff you don’t like that much anyway?!

c) They were also trained to always order many of the more fattening ingredients on the side. This is most important for salad dressing. But if they would otherwise overdo it, it can help to do this for gravy and butter too.

d) They also taught “mindful” eating. One strategy was to rate how hungry you are before eating from 1 to 10. That helps to avoid eating 10 units of food when you would have been full at 5 to 7!

e) If you find you have food on your plate when you are no longer hungry, just leave it or ask for a take out container for it.

f) “Pay attention.’:

If you notice the smell and taste and texture of the food as you eat it, it fills you up faster.

Half way through, rate how hungry you are then. That avoids eating extra on autopilot while you are thinking about something else.

If you have time, slow down and talk to your companions or look about you at the décor or the scene outside. That both increases your enjoyment and stress relief and allows your stomach to register the food you just gave it. That means you’ll eat less and digest what you do eat better.

These 3 are the steps for mindful eating. They do help if you get used to always doing them. And, if you practice at home too, it becomes more likely you’ll use these steps when you eat out. Plus you may find as these people did that you lose more fat at home too.

3. Large portions are a common problem in restaurants.

You can leave out the stuff they would have served that’s fattening such as the bread, French fries, or potatoes or white rice. Ask them not to serve you any!

You can order extra vegetable sides instead. Larger amounts of those help you lose fat!

You can split a meal between yourself and another person. For couples going to places with large portions or who are conserving money, this can work quite well.

You can ask for the take out container at the start of the meal and put the half you really don’t need now into it before you start eating.

Or you can eat what you are actually hungry for and get a take out container then.

4. You can find and go to restaurants and fast food places that make this style of eating easier. (Subway qualifies if you know how to eat there and do NOT eat or drink the other stuff.) But this often works best at good restaurants in upscale neighborhoods.

The other way to do it is to go to a restaurant regularly and be nice to the wait staff and learn their names if you can.

They will then get to know you and what you want. They may even do things for you they normally don’t do for their less regular customers. Tipping decently helps too!

I like eating out. If you do also, these are strategies you can use to avoid it being fattening or stopping you from losing fat!

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