Archive for May, 2010|Monthly archive page

52 Proven Stress Relievers

  1. Get up fifteen minutes earlier in the morning. The inevitable morning mishaps will be less stressful.
  2. Prepare for the morning the evening before. Set the breakfast table, make lunches, put out the clothes you plan to wear, etc.
  3. Don’t rely on your memory. Write down appointment times, when to pick up the laundry, when library books are due, etc. (“The palest ink is better than the most retentive memory.” – Old Chinese Proverb)
  4. Do nothing which, after being done, leads you to tell a lie.
  5. Make duplicates of all keys. Bury a house key in a secret spot in the garden and carry a duplicate car key in your wallet, apart from your key ring.
  6. Practice preventive maintenance. Your car, appliances, home, and relationships will be less likely to break down/fall apart “at the worst possible moment.”
  7. Be prepared to wait. A paperback can make a wait in a post office line almost pleasant.
  8. Procrastination is stressful. Whatever you want to do tomorrow, do today; whatever you want to do today, do it now.
  9. Plan ahead. Don’t let the gas tank get below one-quarter full; keep a well-stocked “emergency shelf” of home staples; don?t wait until you?re down to your last bus token or postage stamp to buy more; etc.
  10. Don’t put up with something that doesn?t work right. If your alarm clock, wallet, shoe laces, windshield wipers, whatever, are a constant aggravation, get them fixed or get new ones.
  11. Allow 15 minutes of extra time to get to appointments. Plan to arrive at an airport one hour before domestic departures.
  12. Eliminate (or restrict) the amount of caffeine in your diet.
  13. Always set up contingency plans, “just in case.” (“If for some reason either of us is delayed, here?s what we’ll do?” kind of thing. Or, “If we get split up in the shopping center, here’s where we’ll meet.”)
  14. Relax your standards. The world will not end if the grass doesn’t get mowed this weekend.
  15. Pollyanna-Power! For every one thing that goes wrong, there are probably 10 or 50 or 100 blessings. Count ’em!
  16. Ask questions. Taking a few moments to repeat back directions, what someone expects of you, etc., can save hours. (The old “the hurrieder I go, the behinder I get, ” idea.)
  17. Say “No!” Saying “no” to extra projects, social activities, and invitations you know you don’t have the time or energy for takes practice, self-respect, and a belief that everyone, everyday, needs quiet time to relax and be alone.
  18. Unplug your phone. Want to take a long bath, meditate, sleep, or read without interruption? Drum up the courage to temporarily disconnect. (The possibility of there being a terrible emergency in the next hour or so is almost nil.) Or use an answering machine.
  19. Turn “needs” into preferences. Our basic physical needs translate into food, water, and keeping warm. Everything else is a preference. Don?t get attached to preferences.
  20. Simplify, simplify, simplify!
  21. Make friends with nonworriers. Nothing can get you into the habit of worrying faster than associating with chronic worrywarts.
  22. Get up and stretch periodically if your job requires that you sit for extended periods.
  23. Wear earplugs. If you need to find quiet at home, pop in some earplugs.
  24. Get enough sleep. If necessary, use an alarm clock to remind you to go to bed.
  25. Create order out of chaos. Organize your home and workspace so that you always know exactly where things are. Put things away where they belong and you won?t have to go through the stress of losing things.
  26. When feeling stressed, most people tend to breathe in short, shallow breaths. When you breathe like this, stale air is not expelled, oxidation of the tissues is incomplete, and muscle tension frequently results. Check your breathing throughout the day, and before, during, and after high-pressure situations. If you find your stomach muscles are knotted and your breathing is shallow, relax all your muscles and take several deep, slow breaths. Note how, when you’re relaxed, both your abdomen and chest expand when you breathe.
  27. Writing your thoughts and feelings down (in a journal, or on paper to be thrown away) can help you clarify things and can give you a renewed perspective.
  28. Try the following yoga technique whenever you feel the need to relax. Inhale deeply through you nose to the count of eight. Then, with lips puckered, exhale very slowly through your mouth to the count of 16, or for as long as you can. Concentrate on the long sighing sound and feel the tension dissolve. Repeat 10 times.
  29. Inoculate yourself against a feared event. Example: before speaking in public, take time to go over every part of the experience in your mind. Imagine what you’ll wear, what the audience will look like, how you will present your talk, what the questions will be and how you will answer them, etc. Visualize the experience the way you would have it be. You’ll likely find that when the time comes to make the actual presentation, it will be “old hat” and much of your anxiety will have fled.
  30. When the stress of having to get a job done gets in the way of getting the job done, diversion,  a voluntary change in activity and/or environment,  may be just what you need.
  31. Talk it out. Discussing your problems with a trusted friend can help clear your mind of confusion so you can concentrate on problem solving.
  32. One of the most obvious ways to avoid unnecessary stress is to select an environment (work, home, leisure) which is in line with your personal needs and desires. If you hate desk jobs, don?t accept a job which requires that you sit at a desk all day. If you hate to talk politics, don’t associate with people who love to talk politics, etc.
  33. Learn to live one day at a time.
  34. Every day, do something you really enjoy.
  35. Add an ounce of love to everything you do.
  36. Take a hot bath or shower (or a cool one in summertime) to relieve tension.
  37. Do something for somebody else.
  38. Focus on understanding rather than on being understood; on loving rather than on being loved.
  39. Do something that will improve your appearance. Looking better can help you feel better.
  40. Schedule a realistic day. Avoid the tendency to schedule back-to-back appointments; allow time between appointments for a breathing spell.
  41. Become more flexible. Some things are worth not doing perfectly and some issues are well to compromise upon.
  42. Eliminate destructive self-talk: “I’m too old to?,” “I’m too fat to,” etc.
  43. Use your weekend time for a change of pace. If you work week is slow and patterned, make sure there is action and time for spontaneity built into your weekends. If your work week is fast-paced and full of people and deadlines, seek peace and solitude during your days off. Feel as if you aren’t accomplishing anything at work? Tackle a job on the weekend which you can finish to your satisfaction.
  44. “Worry about the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.” That’s another way of saying: take care of the todays as best you can and the yesterdays and the tomorrows will take care of themselves.
  45. Do one thing at a time. When you are with someone, be with that person and with no one or nothing else. When you are busy with a project, concentrate on doing that project and forget about everything else you have to do.
  46. Allow yourself time, everyday,  for privacy, quiet, and introspection.
  47. If an especially unpleasant task faces you, do it early in the day and get it over with; then the rest of your day will be free of anxiety.
  48. Learn to delegate responsibility to capable others.
  49. Don?t forget to take a lunch break. Try to get away from your desk or work area in body and mind, even if it?s just for 15 or 20 minutes.
  50. Forget about counting to 10. Count to 1,000 before doing something or saying anything that could make matters worse.
  51. Have a forgiving view of events and people. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world.
  52. Have an optimistic view of the world. Believe that most people are doing the best they can.

Eat before Exercise? A Different Take…

Breakfast cereal companies may have to rethink their marketing angles – athletes should kickstart their day with exercise, not food.

Training on an empty stomach could be better for your muscles, Massey University research has revealed.

Associate Professor Steve Stannard said although the findings go against the conventional advice – to eat before exercise – they also make sense.

“Training is all about putting the body under stress, not going faster,” he said. “So by starting out with less fuel, you will reach the point where you really begin to stress the body quicker.

This means you will spend longer under stress and ultimately the training will be more beneficial.”

While muscles of males burnt more fat without food, females improved muscle fat-burning capacity when they trained after breakfast.

Researchers are unsure why training on an empty stomach was less effective for females. Dr Stannard said it could be caused by sex hormones creating subtle differences in muscles’ behaviour.

“But what the research does show is that by including at least some training before breakfast, athletes – especially male – can improve their fitness faster,” he said.

However, it’s still crucial to eat before a race as evidence shows carbohydrates before and during exercise increases endurance.

“This means eating some carbohydrate before competing will help you go faster for longer during a race.”

The researchers followed two groups of novice cyclists training over four weeks. One group ate a high-carbohydrate breakfast before training, while the other group went without food.

Dr Stannard recommended athletes of any level to complete some training sessions without food to gain the benefits, whether it be walking, cycling or running.

The research was co-authored by Alex Buckley, Johann Edge and Martin Thompson. The paper was dedicated to Dr Edge, who was killed in a cycling accident in Auckland in March.

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How to Eat Your Vitamins

Pills might seem like an easy fix, but food provides an abundance of nutrients, as well as fiber, that pills lack, says Mary Ryan, a registered dietitian in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

These nutrients are what keep your body functioning at its best―building strong bones; improving brainpower, mood, and memory; and possibly helping the immune system ward off ailments both small (a cold) and large (cancer).

“Vitamins should be used only as supplements to the diet, not substitutes for healthy food,” says Jeffrey Blumberg, Ph.D., director of the antioxidant research lab at Tufts University, in Boston.

While there are hundreds of nutrients, the following information explains the ones you need to consume every day, what they do, and how to get them from your diet.

Vitamins B6 and B12

What it does for you: The B complex of vitamins (especially B6 and B12) keep blood, nerves, and the immune system functioning properly. A deficiency may be a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

How much you need daily: The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 1.3 milligrams for B6 and 2.4 micrograms for B12.

Best food sources: B6 is plentiful in whole grains, bananas, beans, nuts, wheat germ, chicken, and fish. B12 is found in beef, pork, poultry, eggs, fish, and dairy.

How to eat enough of it: One cup of plain yogurt and a banana, one ounce of sunflower seeds, and three ounces of roast beef will fill your B12 and B6 quotas. B12 is found only in animal products, so vegans should take a supplement.

Vitamin C

What it does for you: Vitamin C is an antioxidant that has been shown to fight DNA-damaging free radicals. It may help to maintain a healthy immune system and boost HDL, the so-called “good” cholesterol.

How much you need daily: Seventy-five milligrams, but some experts recommend getting at least 200 milligrams. As for megadoses of C to prevent colds, there’s no scientific evidence that they accomplish anything.

Best food sources: Citrus fruits and juices, strawberries, red and green peppers, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach, kale, and collard greens.

How to eat enough of it: Just one orange almost gets you to the RDA. Eat your recommended five servings a day of fruits and vegetables and you shouldn’t be lacking in C.


What it does for you: It is essential for bone health and plays an important role in preventing osteoporosis.

How much you need daily: Up to age 50, women should get at least 1,000 milligrams daily; those over 50 should get at least 1,200. The body can’t absorb more than 500 milligrams of calcium at a time, so small doses are best.

Best food sources: Dairy products are the most calcium-dense foods, but smaller amounts can be found in legumes and dark green, leafy vegetables.

How to eat enough of it: An eight-ounce glass of skim milk, one cup of yogurt, one cup of cooked spinach, and one fig will get you to your calcium goal. If you don’t eat dairy, look for calcium-fortified soy milk or orange juice.

Vitamin D

What it does for you: It enhances calcium absorption. A vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteoporosis and has been linked to certain cancers, as well as to multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and other chronic illnesses.

How much you need daily: Two hundred IUs for women up to age 50, and 400 to 600 IUs for those over 50.*

Best food sources: Although some is found in fatty fishes, like tuna and salmon, most of our vitamin D comes from fortified foods, like milk and cereal. The body also produces its own vitamin D when exposed to sunlight.

How to eat enough of it: If you’re under 50, one 3 1/2-ounce serving of salmon or two cups of fortified milk will give you the RDA. Ten to 15 minutes of sunlight (with no sunscreen) two to three times a week is usually sufficient, too.

*Fat-soluble vitamins, such as D and E, are typically measured in IUs, or international units, instead of milligrams or micrograms. 

Vitamin E

What it does for you: This vitamin’s major function is as an antioxidant. Recent studies point to positive effects on eye health and the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

How much you need daily: Generally, 22.5 IUs. There is controversy about safe upper limits, but most agree that adding 150 to 200 IUs shouldn’t hurt and might help.

Best food sources: Avocados, vegetable oil (such as safflower, sunflower, cottonseed, canola, and olive), wheat germ, sunflower seeds, almonds, and most other nuts.

How to eat enough of it: It’s easy to meet the RDA with food―one cup of raw broccoli plus two ounces of either almonds or sunflower seeds will do it.

Folic Acid (Folate)

What it does for you: Low intake during pregnancy causes a higher-than-normal risk of neural-tube birth defects, such as spina bifida. Deficiencies may be a risk factor for some cancers, heart disease, and stroke.

How much you need daily: Generally, 400 micrograms.

Best food sources: Leafy vegetables, strawberries, wheat germ, broccoli, asparagus, whole grains, beans, and foods that have been fortified with folic acid, such as cereals and breads.

How to eat enough of it: A 3/4-cup serving of fortified breakfast cereal contains 100 percent of what you need. A cup of peas, a cup of cooked spinach, and about five spears of asparagus also add up to the RDA.


What it does for you: It is essential for bone health and plays an important role in preventing osteoporosis.

How much you need daily: Up to age 50, women should get at least 1,000 milligrams daily; those over 50 should get at least 1,200. The body can’t absorb more than 500 milligrams of calcium at a time, so small doses are best.

Best food sources: Dairy products are the most calcium-dense foods, but smaller amounts can be found in legumes and dark green, leafy vegetables.

How to eat enough of it: An eight-ounce glass of skim milk, one cup of yogurt, one cup of cooked spinach, and one fig will get you to your calcium goal. If you don’t eat dairy, look for calcium-fortified soy milk or orange juice.

Vitamin D

What it does for you: It enhances calcium absorption. A vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteoporosis and has been linked to certain cancers, as well as to multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and other chronic illnesses.

How much you need daily: Two hundred IUs for women up to age 50, and 400 to 600 IUs for those over 50.*

Best food sources: Although some is found in fatty fishes, like tuna and salmon, most of our vitamin D comes from fortified foods, like milk and cereal. The body also produces its own vitamin D when exposed to sunlight.

How to eat enough of it: If you’re under 50, one 3 1/2-ounce serving of salmon or two cups of fortified milk will give you the RDA. Ten to 15 minutes of sunlight (with no sunscreen) two to three times a week is usually sufficient, too.

*Fat-soluble vitamins, such as D and E, are typically measured in IUs, or international units, instead of milligrams or micrograms. 


What it does for you: It prevents iron-deficiency anemia. There’s also evidence that it helps support a healthy immune system. A deficiency may be linked to impaired memory and an inability to focus.

How much you need daily: Generally, 18 milligrams. Excess levels of iron are rare but may damage organs, so never supplement iron beyond the amount found in most multivitamins without a doctor’s prescription.

Best food sources: Iron is most plentiful in and best absorbed from red meat, clams, and, in lesser amounts, egg yolks, chicken, and fish. It’s also found in legumes, fortified grains, and cereals.

How to eat enough of it: A large spinach salad, a cup of lentil soup, and a small (three-ounce) serving of red meat will give you adequate iron.

Vitamin K

What it does for you: It helps maintain healthy blood clotting and promotes bone density and strength.

How much you need daily: No RDA has been set. The adequate intake (AI) for women is 90 micrograms.

Best food sources: Dark green, leafy vegetables and vegetable oils, such as olive, canola, and soybean.

How to eat enough of it: One cup of raw broccoli or a spinach salad will provide about all you need.


What it does for you: It helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, regulate blood sugar levels, and keep bones strong. A lack of it in your diet may contribute to heart disease or high blood pressure.

How much you need daily: Generally, 320 milligrams.

Best food sources: Whole-grain breads and cereals, legumes, spinach, broccoli, dates, raisins, bananas, almonds, cashews, peanuts, walnuts, and pecans.

How to eat enough of it: Have two slices of whole-wheat toast for breakfast, snack on three ounces of almonds and raisins in the afternoon, and for dinner try three ounces of grilled halibut with a baked potato.


What it does for you: It plays an important role in supporting a healthy immune system. Sucking on zinc lozenges several times a day during the first few days of a cold may shorten its duration and lessen the severity of symptoms.

How much you need daily: The RDA for women is eight milligrams.

Best food sources: Animal products, like beef shank and pork tenderloin, as well as oysters and nuts.

How to eat enough of it: A cheeseburger on a whole-wheat bun will get you to the RDA. 

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What to consume DURING exercise

Everyone wants to perform at their personal best when they work out.  Why else would you work out if you couldn’t get the most from yourself?  No one likes wasting time in the gym.  That said, it’s time to look at exactly what you should be consuming WHILE you are working out.

We’ve discussed what you should be consuming immediately after a workout.  We know the importance protein has on our bodies immediately following strenuous lifting or sprinting.  It has little immediate benefit on our bodies while we are actually engaged in physical fitness however.  We are looking for fuel sources when are taking part of an exercise session that lasts at least 60 minutes.

A great solution to solving this problem is to slowly sip on an electrolyte/water blend.  This will help keep our body replenished and allow us to perform at maximum intensity.  An electrolyte/water blend may sound confusing, but really, its just watered down Gatorade.  Mix equal parts Gatorade with water and slowly sip this during any workout that is going to last longer than 60 minutes. 

Taking in other high sugar/carb drinks is likely going to lead to cramps and other factors which will diminish our ability to perform at 100%.  Stay away from fruit juice, soda, and other similar drinks.  Aim to take in drinks that contain no more than 10% carbohydrates.  This will provide a slow, steady stream of fuel for your body during exercise and keep you on top of your game.

Step Sets

You should constantly be on the look out for ways to change up your exercise routine.  By now, you’ve probably realized how much I stress taking on a new routine every 4-6 weeks.  If you don’t, I believe you are just wasting your time.  Your muscles will no longer respond to the familiar stimulus and you’ll be lifting all those weights for nothing.

With that said, we are going to look at another way to do your lifts that will have your muscles confused and in turn, shock them into growing.  We can adjust a variety of variables that can help us change up our workout.  We can alter the amount of weight we lift, the number sets we do, the number of reps we do, the exercises we do, and the way we perform the lifts.  In this case, we’re going to significantly alter the way we perform our lifts. 

You can feel free to mix and match a variety of the above factors when changing up a routine.  Maybe you want to go very heavy weight with low reps for 4 weeks, before changing to a whole new set of exercises using lighter weight with high reps and little rest time.  The possibilities are numerous.

What we are going to look at today is a way of lifting, called step sets.  Step sets, like super sets, drop sets, or any other type of set is a way to stress the muscle in a different way.  Step sets are great at keeping a more constant supply of tension on the muscle, thus making it work harder.  The concept is relatively easy to understand and doesn’t take much practice to get down.  However, do these for just a few sets and you’ll see how difficult they can be.

We’ll explain step sets by using a simple bicep curl as our example.  Realistically however, these can be done with virtually any exercise.  Begin by curling the weight from starting position to top position (nothing to over think here, just do a regular curl).  On the way down, slowly lower the weight about 4 inches and stop.  Count to 3.  Lower the weight slowly 4 more inches.  Count to 3.  Lower 4 more inches.  Count to 3.  Bring the weight back to the start position.  This is a step set.

During step sets, we lower the weight at the same pace we would normally lower it.  The only difference is we are taking “steps” on the way down.  Lower a few inches then completely stop and hold it.  You will be able to feel your muscle struggling to maintain the weight during these “steps”.  This is exactly what you want.  By your last rep on your last set, you will feel as though your muscles are ready to explode.  This is a great way to break past any plateau.

You don’t have to do step sets for every single exercise you do.  It’s okay to give yourself a break here and there, but when doing step sets during a 4-6 training period, it would be smart to make AT LEAST half of all your sets, step sets.  A good figure to go by, is 3/4.  Three out of four sets you complete when training with step sets should be done with the abovementioned form.  Like all methods of training, try this out and use it for 4-6 weeks then move on to something new.  Happy lifting!

Building up a Common Weak Point – The Chest

So many people write in asking for exercises that can improve their chest muscles.  The chest is a rather large muscle group on our body that is prone to various areas of weakness.  Some may have a well-defined chest, but weak in the upper portion.  Others may be weak throughout and lack size.  Still others may have no definition or strength in the inner part.

A strong chest shouldn’t be the goal exclusively reserved for men or even bodybuilders.  Women can benefit from building up their chest muscles for several reasons.  First off, it provides a solid base for the rest of your upper body.  Want that lean, pilates look?  Start with a solid chest which will give you a good foundation to build off of.  Considering the chest is such a large muscle group, adding muscle to the chest will undoubtedly help raise your metabolism more significantly than adding muscle to your biceps, for instance.  This of course, will help you burn fat at rest.

The most common exercise in all of weight lifting is probably the bench press.  Sure, this is a great move for adding strength and size to your chest, but it cannot be the only move you use.  To train the chest properly, you need to hit it from various angles.  This will help you avoid weak points, i.e. upper chest, inner chest, outer chest, etc.

In addition, keeping proper form throughout the movement is key.  Doing just 5 reps with perfect form is immensely better than doing 15 half-assed reps.  You want to feel the muscle working while you are lifting.  Take a slow, deliberate pace up, and an equally controlled pace down.  Tighten the muscle at the top of the movement and keep tension on the way down.  Your goal is to exhaust the muscle.  If something feels too easy, it’s either time to bump up the weight or check your form.

To build a strong and lean chest, try doing the following exercises.  One thing to remember though, is overtraining is a sure-fire way to diminish any gains you are making.  If you are sore, don’t work that muscle.  Allow yourself time to rest and recuperate.

  • Bench Press – Perform 4-5 sets of 6-8 with heavier weight than normal.  You are doing less reps per set, so you should be able to handle the added weight.  This will help make more progress than doing 3 sets of 15 with those dinky pink dumbbells you’ve been using.
  • Incline Dumbbell Fly – On an incline bench, hold a dumbbell in each hand.  With a very slight bend in the arms lift the weights from about shoulder height until they are directly over your chest, hands together.  During this move especially, focus on the tightening of the chest muscles.  Squeeze them intensely throughout the lift.  Hold for a second at the top of the lift, and then slowly lower them back to your sides.  Aim for 4-5 sets of 6-8
  • Incline Bench Press – Similar to the flat bench press, just on an incline.  You will have to use slightly less weight as the angle makes it more difficult.  Slow up, slow down.  Keep a steady pace and try to hit the same sets and reps as the above exercises.
  • Bench Negatives – You’ll need a partner or a chest press machine for this one.  Stack on more weight than you could ever handle.  Have your partner or use the leg assistance on the chest machine help you get the weight up.  Once it’s up, you want to slooowly lower the weight.  Count to 8 seconds in your head on the way down.  Don’t cheat.  By doing a negative lift you are really going to be hitting your muscles in a way they haven’t seen before.  You will surely be feeling this tomorrow.  Go for 10 reps of 8 second negatives.  Repeat 3 times.

Congratulations Hunt’s

Ladies and gents, the ingredient pariah of the week is…high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

With consumer awareness on the rise, demand for fructose-free products is climbing. This week, Hunt’s ditched the increasingly unpopular ingredient and is now sticking to the basics: tomatoes, sugar, vinegar, salt and other seasonings.

Ryan Toreson, Hunt’s Ketchup brand manager, said of the swap: “In direct response to consumer demand, Hunt’s is pleased to offer ketchup sweetened with sugar and containing only five simple ingredients….Parents are looking for wholesome meals and ingredients they recognize….”

The new recipe has bigger implications than just ingredients you can pronounce. High fructose corn syrup, initially embraced as a cheap sugar substitute, is losing popularity as research shows that the compound damages human bodies in more ways than one. Bill Sanda’s article “The Double Danger of High Fructose Corn Syrup” explains:

The livers of test animals fed large amounts of fructose develop fatty deposits and cirrhosis, similar to problems that develop in the livers of alcoholics.

Pure fructose contains no enzymes, vitamins or minerals and robs the body of its micronutrient treasures in order to assimilate itself for physiological use. While naturally occurring sugars…contain fructose bound to other sugars, high fructose corn syrup contains a good deal of “free” or unbound fructose. Research indicates that this free fructose interferes with the heart’s use of key minerals like magnesium, copper and chromium.

Among other consequences, HFCS has been implicated in elevated blood cholesterol levels and the creation of blood clots.  It has been found to inhibit the action of white blood cells so that they are unable to defend the body against harmful foreign invaders.

Sound like more than you bargained for? You can opt out of the corn syrup syndrome. Check out the action link below to learn how you too can make a difference in our food system
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Don’t Kill Yourself for The Man

It’s no mystery that work slowly kills us.  Unfortunately, it’s not something that we can just drop like a bad habit.  Knowing that, we need to find a reasonable work/life balance.  When working long hours, our health and fitness are the first things to go.  Doing 60+ hours a week is going to take its toll, and let’s face it, who wants to go to the gym after having spent the last 13 hours in the office doing things that make you want to jump out a window.  While you’re on your way home, that stop at Burger King seems so much easier than running to the grocery store to pick something up and THEN having to make it.  How common does this sound to you?

We already have numerous studies showing that people who work more than 10 hours a day are at a heightened risk of heart disease.  Consider the fact that the gym and a healthy diet are the first things to go when we are sticking to a heavy work schedule.  Even the most disciplined and fitness minded individuals are at risk.  Personally, I’ve been doing 12 hour days the past week and can completely see the effect it has.  My daily ritual of spending 90 minutes in the gym has been broken more times than I’d like to admit.  On my way home, I’m considering picking up fast food options I haven’t eaten in years (luckily my willpower overcame this!).  Fortunately, I can get back to my regular schedule soon, but for many people this isn’t an option.

Don’t kill yourself for the man.  Don’t sacrifice your health and well-being for a few extra dollars.  You may rationalize it in your head by telling yourself you are doing it for your families’ benefit.  If you really want to benefit your family in the long-term, get yourself into the gym and take that cheeseburger out of your hand.  You aren’t going to be able to do much good when you’re six feet deep.  Take your health and fitness just as seriously as you take your job, and you will strike a balance that leads to a long and productive life.

Preventing Strokes

In honor of national stroke month, we are featuring a guest post from Steve Jasper of, as seen below…

Study Says over 80% of Strokes Could Have Been Prevented

By Steve Jasper

Although the recent plight of rocker Brett Michaels has been getting more press than May being National Stroke Month, the two are directly related. This makes a great opportunity to talk more about strokes, and how they can be avoided.

Thanks to the pervasiveness of this Information age we currently live in, health concerns and the information surrounding it spread nearly as quickly as the diseases themselves. For example, you probably recall the widespread hysteria in the United States regarding the Swine Flu. While there were no more death tolls than our regular seasonal flu, the sensationalization of the topic kept it in the news for months. While on one hand, the rapid spread of information can be a boon to preventative medicine, the spread of incorrect or inaccurate information can be detrimental, or even harmful.

Thanks to the rapid information delivery of the internet, and the various media outlets reporting on these issues, we know more about heart disease and strokes today than our parents or grandparents ever did. Many of you reading this article may have had a friend or relative- or even yourself- suffer from a stroke. It is important that you first understand what the underlying factors are that cause a stroke, and how you can take steps to prevent one from ever occurring.

Some people naturally have a greater risk of stroke than others. The factors which put you at risk for a stroke fall into two categories: factors you can control, and those which are unfortunately out of your control. Family history plays a large part in determining your level of risk. Men, and people with immediate relatives who have suffered strokes, are both more likely to suffer an attack than others. Also, African Americans are at a much greater risk than any other ethnicity. Unfortunately, there isn’t a concrete explanation for why this is true. It could be that due to higher rates of hypertension and diabetes, African Americans exhibit a greater hereditary risk, according to the National Stroke Association. Pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes or hypertension, in addition to obesity, excessive smoking and/or drinking can all multiply your risk of a stroke.

Avoidable Risk Factors:

  • Excessive Smoking
  • Excessive Drinking
  • Hypertension/High Blood Pressure
  • Obesity
  • Inactive Lifestyle

Unavoidable Risk Factors:

  • Age – As you get older, your chances for stroke increase
  • Prior Strokes – The chances of suffering a subsequent stroke increases
  • Family History – If you have immediate relatives who have a history of strokes.
  • Race – African Americans are more likely to suffer from strokes.

While you might not be able to change your heredity, there are measures you can take to help stave off stroke risk. The National Stroke Association estimates that out of the 700,000 strokes that occur each year, 600,000 could have been prevented by simple lifestyle changes. One of the best and easiest prevention tools is to simply employ a good exercise routine.

Generally, when people are asked what their biggest obstacle towards a more active lifestyle is, the most popular answer is “not enough time.” That’s why one of the best ways to stay fit is with home gyms and home aerobics programs. It’s hard to come up with excuses when you have your own workout routine in your basement or garage. In addition to this, many people feel uncomfortable in public gyms for various reasons. It’s no surprise that lifting weights or exercising in your own home is more comfortable than wiping off a stranger’s eerily sweaty stains from the exercise equipment. If you can combine this lifestyle change with others, such as eating better food, drinking less alcohol, and quitting cigarettes, you will dramatically improve your chances for fighting off a stroke.

Unfortunately, all too often, perfectly healthy people succumb to strokes as well. That’s why it is important to be able to recognize the symptoms of stroke. When a stroke occurs, the sooner you act, the better your chances for recovery. Someone suffering from a stroke will exhibit an inexplicable numbness or tingling sensation on one side of their body, slurred speech, blurred vision, and difficulty with motor control.

Sometimes it’s difficult to prevent the things that hinder our health. But like the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We need to keep doing our part to spread awareness about the risk of strokes. If we can educate the public on how to live healthier lifestyles, then we can succeed in stemming the effects of this nationwide killer.

Steve Jasper is not a medical expert. All of the statistics cited were from the National Stroke Association and the American Heart Association. If you have any serious medical concerns, please consult a qualified medical professional. Steve is a contributing blogger from Gymsource who writes an all topics related to fitness equipment and more.

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