You Truly ARE What You Eat (Updated Post)

you-are-what-you-eatIt’s no secret that fast foods are unhealthy and artery-clogging, but there are impostors which sit on grocery shelves and have people believe they are healthy due to phrases like “Low Fat”, “Good for you”, “Fit ____”, and the list goes on. I encourage my patients to read EVERY label on food containers while perusing the grocery store shelves and aisles and to become aware of preservatives, sugar, hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors and artificial colorings.

A good general rule to follow is if there are more than five ingredients on a food label, or if there are a bunch of big terms which seem alien and strange to you, chances are that the item has questionable nutritional value and should be avoided. Over the last few years I have developed such an aversion to packaged foods that as soon as I see a food item in a bag, box or can, I tend to avoid it.

An interesting thing begins happening to people when they completely eliminate sugars and processed foods from their diets. They experience increased energy, clearer skin, fewer aches and pains, and lower body fat. If someone has been eating clean for a while and decides to have a sinful treat like pizza, a fast food burger, chips, cake or cookies, he or she will notice a detrimental effect on energy, aches and pains may return, and stubborn pockets of body fat will become more noticeable. I have seen this in myself and cannot stand it. What always occurs with me after I have had a couple of glasses of wine, a piece of cake, or greasy foods is that my digestion is completely thrown off whack and I feel sluggish and achy. In other words, these heavier foods make me feel heavy and tired, while clean, light, fresh foods make me feel energized.

I know some of you are thinking, “Wow, that would be so hard to stay away from processed food all the time!”, but in actuality, it isn’t difficult at all. The first thing you need to do is to clear out your pantry and refrigerator of any processed foods, thus wiping the slate clean. What do you replace those items with? You replace them with wholesome foods, fill up your crisper with fresh, organic vegetables and fruits, and favor single ingredients over packages which have ingredient lists which look like essays. Some of you might complain that you are so busy that it would be a waste to buy fresh fruits and vegetables because they would just rot. For you folks, I recommend purchasing frozen (NOT canned) produce which you can easily thaw out and cook whenever you need to.

And if you think it’s tough to cook clean meals, it really isn’t. A chicken breast can easily be marinated in simple marinades while you are at work (a favorite of mine has Bragg’s Amino Acids, apple cider vinegar, and sesame oil…yummy!), then placed in your broiler to cook. Add some steamed vegetables, and maybe a small serving of quinoa, and you have a healthy, nutritious meal which is a snap to make!

I understand that it can be challenging to find the time to eat whole foods each day, but I am telling you that it is well worth it if you intend to take control of poor eating habits and possibly even reverse disease processes in your body. Give it a try…you will probably love it.

What Are You Waiting For?

While working at a recent bodybuilding event, I had a very interesting conversation with one of the attendees. He was a 42 year old man who revealed to me that he had a couple of health concerns, and who very clearly stated that he wanted to be healthy for his sons (one son was about 10, and the other was about 13). He had a habit of eating fast food daily, and he never exercised because he figured that he was at a normal weight and didn’t need to work out.

He told me that he was so busy with work and with taking the boys to all their practice sessions that there was no time right now to train or to clean up his eating habits. He went on to say that he figured he would wait until the boys were older before he got into an exercise program and cleaned up his diet.

I very nicely told him to make every effort to fit in 10 or 15 minutes of intense plyometric or calisthenics work each day, between work and carting the boys around for their soccer and baseball practice sessions, but deep inside I was incredibly frustrated. I even told him that if he indeed waited a few years until the boys were older, major disease processes like diabetes or high blood pressure could emerge and put him in a dangerous health situation. However, I could tell that my words fell on deaf ears, and that this man would not take any steps towards a healthier lifestyle.

I honestly and truly believe that when it comes to anything in life, where there’s a will, there’s a way. If someone truly wants to positively impact his or her health, then steps can be taken immediately to develop a consistent regimen. There have been plenty of people who have made excuses and lived in denial, who were suddenly stricken by stroke or heart attack. Once a major event like that occurs, assuming someone survives it, there’s a big wake-up call and the person is forced to make the changes he or she didn’t want to make years ago.

Why wait?

How Social Media Has Messed Us Up

The majority of us can’t even imagine being without our cell phones. The relatively tiny devices we carry around with us now function as GPS devices, marvelous computers which connect us to every part of the world, tie us into a massive information network which we have become entirely reliant on, and also happen to function as the basic communication aids which were originally invented by Italian inventor Antonio Meucci in 1849 (Alexander Graham Bell won the credit in 1876 as a result of winning the first U.S. patent).

Cell phones have become a necessity in modern society, but they have also caused us to develop compulsive behaviors which feed into the irresistible distraction which they present. Though you may deny it, I am willing to bet that you experience a certain level of anxiety if your cell phone battery power winds down, if you lose reception, if you lose a Wifi signal, or are somehow locked out of a website you need to access immediately. We have become so reliant on the immediate gratification which comes with doing a Google search on our Smartphones or iPhones that we have turned into petulant children when glitches occur. We are so dependent on our cellular devices that they have become security blankets.

Whether we like it or not, our reliance on cellular technology makes us less productive and less attentive to ordinary daily tasks. We could be sitting at work, cooking a meal, walking our dogs, or driving to work, while still concerned about what supposedly vital information we are missing by not staring at our phones. God forbid we miss our friends’ Facebook updates or allow our email inboxes to pile up as we try to navigate through a typical day! We are accustomed to having our phones close by at all times, and every time it makes a notification sound, we stop what we are doing to attend to our phones, which draws attention away from what we should really be focused on. Time ticks by, and suddenly, we are distracted from viewing a beautiful sunset. Even if we view that beautiful sunset, we tend to feel a compulsion to record the sunset by taking a picture of it with those confounded phones.

Even when we aren’t at work, our brains must sort through an enormous amount of information from our phones and computers. One 2011 study stated that we take in the equivalent of about 174 newspapers’ worth of information every single day. And since the brain’s ability to process information is limited, we often end up feeling overwhelmed and anxious as we try to power through all the information being thrown at us. Though the age of social media has enabled us to connect in novel and far-reaching ways, it also robs us of our attention and distracts us from other tasks.

It’s no wonder that the incidence of anxiety in our society has increased dramatically.

There should be a limit on the frequency with which we view social media sites. Be sure to set aside a brief designated time each day to check emails and peruse social media, then PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY. Leave the bulk of each day to relaxing, sightseeing, engaging in outdoor activities, and enjoying life. Trust me, your brain needs a break from the constant influx of technology.

Another disturbing reality about our attachment to cell phones is the false sense of community we feel as a result of social media notifications and texts. The perception is that we are part of a vast network, but the ironic thing is that we tend to access our cell phones while alone. This isolation from actual interaction can actually trigger loneliness and depression. From the moment we wake up until we rest our heads to sleep, our cell phones are always on. They even serve as our alarm clocks now!

Taking Youth For Granted – Part 2

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Though there are plenty of young people who are fitness-conscious and practice healthy eating habits, there are also many who tempt fate by eating poorly, avoiding exercise and physcial activity, and who party every weekend. When I am at fitness events, I tend to see the fit people, but as a doctor, I see the individuals who don’t know how to take care of their bodies. As an example, I remember seeing one patient who, at the age of 20, was disgusted with herself, and who begged me to give her some advice on how to get in shape quickly and easily. She was about 20 pounds overweight, and it was obvious that she didn’t exercise at all. Her skin was dull and peppered with acne, and her eyes were bloodshot.

I was in the midst of giving the patient general recommendations on eating healthy and getting regular exercise, when she interrupted me. “Ummm, excuse me doc, but I’m not gonna stop eating at Burger King! It’s my daily stop for dinner, and it’s right by my work, so I can just pick it up and eat it in the car before I get home.” I was so stunned that I had to clarify the frequency of her visits with her to make sure I heard her right. Yes, she would visit the Burger King drive-thru every single night after she finished work, and would wolf down a burger in the car because she was always famished from not eating all day. Then she would go home and eat chips while sitting in front of the television. When I told her how unhealthy her eating habits were, she stated, “I don’t see what the big deal is anyway. I mean, I hate vegetables and all that healthy crap other people eat. Besides, I’m young, so it doesn’t even matter!”

That patient wasn’t the only one I have seen who refused to eat right and exercise, but she was particularly stubborn and set in her ways. She walked into that office not wanting me to truly help her, but instead wanted me to give her a prescription for a diet pill so that she could slim down for bikini season. I shook my head and told her that I don’t believe in them, and that I would not give her a prescription, whereupon she hopped off the examination table and said, “Whatever. I thought you were supposed to help people with weight loss shit, but I guess not. See ya.”

When I see young people eating all kinds of crap on a consistent basis, it saddens me, because I know that poor eating habits will have consequences on their health. Nine times out of ten, those same people will hit the clubs on the weekends and go on drinking binges. Some of them don’t even wait until the weekend to get their party on. I can guarantee that people who adopt atrocious habits like these will show signs of age much faster, and will put themselves at a much greater risk for developing diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and cancer. Though they may think that their youthfulness protects them, they usually will get a wicked surprise down the line when disease processes begin to rear their ugly heads.

If you want to optimize your health for the long term, make sure to consume healthy food options the majority of the time, limit alcohol consumption, don’t smoke, and get plenty of regular exercise. Those measures can serve as the best insurance policy for wellness as you get older.

Trainers Who Don’t Look The Part

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Have you ever seen a trainer who looks like he or she is in sore need of a trainer? It amazes me when I see trainers who are in horrible shape, but who are training others. I have even heard a couple of trainers berate their clients for practicing poor eating habits, then I will see them drinking Starbucks frappucinos or eating food from McDonald’s!

If you work in the fitness industry, you have a responsibility to LOOK THE PART. It’s not about looking like you are photo shoot ready all the time, but you should at least be in decent physical shape, practice healthy lifestyle habits when out in public, and be clean and well groomed for your clients and followers. Your appearance is your business card and your logo, so when you show up looking like you have been on a long break from working out, you lose your power to motivate others through leading by example. The thing is, leading by example is critical to igniting that spark in people to pursue fitness goals and replace bad habits with good ones. No one wants to follow the lead of someone who looks like a lazy pig!

There is one trainer I have seen at one of the gyms I train at who, over the years, has turned into, well…a sloth. She was never in very good shape, though I can tell that she was one of those people who went through a mega transformation and lost over 100 pounds at one point. On the one hand, she should be proud of what she has accomplished. However, just because she got a weekend certification doesn’t mean she knows diddly squat about training people. I have watched her train clients, and I swear I could use those observations as a sleeping aid, because she doesn’t know how to train people, and she is so damned slow and boring!

As the years have passed, she has spread in girth, and walks more slowly than ever, with a severely stooped posture and a belly so big that I honestly thought at one point last year that she was pregnant (no, she wasn’t). What boggles my mind is that she seems to be completely clueless about most of the equipment at the gym!

I would never say anything to the trainers who don’t look like they have any business instructing others on exercise, but it really bothers me that they have somehow convinced their unwitting clients to train with them.

Put Your Phone Down!

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Please read my original post at:

http://xactmind.com/xc/articles/put-your-phone-down/

By: Dr. Stacey Naito – Physician and IFBB Pro

Cell phones are a necessary evil these days, but if you think about how much of your day you spend looking into a mobile device, you might realize that you have become overly dependent on it. Why is this such a bad thing? Well, for starters, our reliance on cellular technology makes us less productive and less attentive to tasks which we perform throughout the day. Whether you are cooking an omelet, driving to work, or drafting a letter, chances are that your cell phone is close by, and that every time it makes a notification sound, you stop what you are doing to attend to your phone, which draws attention away from what you should be focused on.

Cell phones are so distracting that scientists discovered that texting or engaging in conversation on a cell phone while walking can interfere with your ability to walk enough to cause accidents. This is because working memory and executive functioning are required during cell phone use, which distracts the user from the motor function of walking.

Another disturbing reality about our attachment to cell phones is the false sense of community we feel as a result of social media notifications and texts. The perception is that we are part of a vast network, but the ironic thing is that we tend to access our cell phones while alone. This isolation from actual interaction can actually trigger loneliness and depression. From the moment we wake up until we rest our heads to sleep, our cell phones are always on. They even serve as our alarm clocks now!

If you want to be more productive, leave your cell phone alone when you first wake up in the morning, and avoid using it while eating, driving, or performing other tasks. The messages and emails aren’t going anywhere, and neither are social media updates.

References:

Lamberg EM, Muratori LM. Cell phones change the way we talk. Gait Posture 2012 Apr:35(4):688-90.

Rich Person Quirks

white sock feetMany years ago, when I was in the midst of a divorce, I reluctantly signed up for a dating service. One particularly persistent guy kept messaging me, asking if he could call me. Though I was quite cynical and skeptical, and didn’t think the guy was really my type, I acquiesced. He called me, and right off the bat came across as extremely controlling, but what really ruined any chance he ever had to ever go on a date with me was his admission of several strange quirks. After about five minutes of strained conversation, this man told me that if I went on a date with him, that I HAD TO get my nails done in a French manicure beforehand. He stated that I could choose any salon to fulfill this request, and that he would pay for the service in advance. He then told me that he was fastidious about wiping down his vehicle twice a day with a soft chamois cloth. I didn’t think that was too odd, but it did seem a bit excessive to perform the car-buffing ritual twice a day. Obviously this guy was financially well off and flaunted it in a bizarre way. I have never been impressed by affluent men, especially those who are nuts like this guy was.

Somehow we got on the subject of weightlifting, which caused more oddities to come crawling out. He explained his pre-lift routine and post-lift regimen in great detail, emphasizing the fact that he had a tall dresser jammed full of brand new white athletic socks, and that he wore a fresh, BRAND NEW pair of socks for every workout. Once he returned home, he would immediately remove his shoes and socks, then toss the socks in the trash. Considering the fact that this man worked out six days a week, that meant that he threw out six pairs of brand new athletic socks per week! His garage was also full of boxes of brand new socks to ensure that he would have a steady supply. What made the whole ritual even worse was that he didn’t give those socks to charity, he just threw them in the regular trash bin, which meant that his once-used socks were contributing in a big way to landfill overflow. It was such an obsessive-compulsive, extravagant, wasteful habit that I couldn’t wait to get off the phone with this weirdo!

Speedy Gal

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I am a very fast walker by nature. I am not sure how I became that way because my mom is a very slow, methodical walker. In contrast, I will fly by people, zigzagging my way through a crowd at a rate that surprises others. My default speed is 3.5 miles per hour, and this is the case whether I am walking from my car to the gym, walking up to the bank teller, strolling through the grocery store, or walking along a sidewalk. What pumps my walk up even more is my energy and impatience. I am constantly moving, even tapping my feet when I am forced to sit in one spot for more than a couple of minutes. There have been occasions in which friends have told me to slow down, but when this happens, I have to make an effort to change the rate at which I walk.

Another thing I do rapidly is eat. I developed this bad habit during medical residency days when I had to adopt an eat-when-you-can, pee-when-you-can, sleep-when-you-can mentality. I became accustomed to shoveling food in my gullet, and the habit has persisted out of necessity. More often than not, I am usually in a major rush when I eat a meal, either because I need to get ready for work, I am at work with a patient waiting, or I am about to drive over to a meeting. Even when I have the opportunity to savor a meal, I still have a tendency to rush through the experience.

It seems incongruous for me to have such habits, because I typically conduct myself in a relatively calm manner. I never rush through projects or plans and always have a blueprint of what I intend to do. As a matter of fact, I hate being rushed when I am concentrating or trying to complete a task. But once a plan is in place, I am quick and efficient and work best that way. That same focus and energy goes into my workouts, when I keep moving from one exercise to another, barely resting. It fits my style, and my body enjoys the constant movement.