Five Steps to Transform Your Entire Well-Being

Sheila Olson is at it again with another fantastic article which I am sharing here. Let Sheila guide you towards optimal well-being!

Five Steps to Transform Your Entire Well-Being
by Sheila Olson

Being healthy is a goal that we all have, and we are frequently exposed to countless trends that promise to drastically improve our well-being overnight. Of course, that isn’t realistic on any level. What our minds and bodies need is long-term commitment. If you’re interested in improving your entire well-being, check out the following tips.

Center Yourself

When left unaddressed, stress can occupy our thoughts throughout the day and leave us restless at night. Unfortunately, our physical health is directly connected to our mental health. After all, stress can disrupt sleep, impede focus, and leave us with a host of physical issues. Yet, with the right tools, you can learn the proper ways to manage it.

A good starting point is meditation. Mindfulness habits can balance our emotional states, leaving us physically and mentally healthier as a result. Beginning a practice can be as easy as spending 10 minutes in a quiet place every day. Thanks to the internet, you can also use guided tutorials to help you learn that process. How you explore meditation is up to you. You may want to focus on breathing exercises, or you might prefer a room dedicated to emotional centering.

Clean Your Air

It’s natural to assume that our homes are a refuge from pollutants, but sometimes that isn’t the case. We may have pets that shed, or we use cleaning chemicals that do more harm than good. This decline in air quality can cause many health issues, such as asthma or allergies. Fortunately, you can drastically cut pollutants by investing in an air purifier. These devices filter air at the microscopic level. They won’t purge our homes completely of contaminants, but you can notice marked improvement in both your health and air quality. Before you choose a specific model, learn more about the products on the market. There are several different kinds of purifiers available, so know what you need before you buy one.

Contextualize Fitness

Being active shouldn’t be a chore; if it is, then you need to find routines that you enjoy to make healthier living more sustainable. Don’t rely on bruising sessions at the gym to achieve your goals, as this can lead to burnout. Instead, remind yourself that all activity counts. That might be walking through a park or playing basketball with a group of friends. Do you work out best with others? Join a sports team, or take up regular jogs with your buddies. Above all, give yourself manageable goals that you can work toward, and make sure you follow through with them. By having a positive mindset, you can keep your fitness moving forward.

Focus on Sleep

Having a good night’s rest is easier said than done. However, sleep recharges one’s emotional and physical batteries. So, get to the root cause of any restlessness and find a solution. Do you drink caffeine? Limit it as best you can, and consider a cutoff point in the early afternoon. Are you using electronics? They may seem ideal to help you unwind at the end of the day, but they can override your body’s sleep processes. Don’t overlook your environment, either. If it’s bright, invest in blackout curtains. Likewise, keep your room cool to help your body prep for sleep. Identifying the source may mean replacing your mattress or changing your decor. Whatever the cause, though, you can rejuvenate your health with sleep.

Embrace Positive Living

Unhealthy habits can be a significant obstacle to wellness. They are hard to stop, but doing so can be transformative. Negative habits can have various underlying causes, so it’s important to determine what they might be. This can help you understand certain patterns and avoid them in the future. However, don’t just try to drop an unwanted habit “cold turkey.” Instead, challenge them by adopting positive alternatives. If you smoke when you’re feeling stressed, find a substitute that you can use to manage your anxieties. Don’t end your nights on a stressful note by checking social media or email. Positive living is a strategy that adds up over time and can become a central part of your day-to-day life.

Good health is not a fad. It’s perfectly achievable by making easy adjustments to our lifestyle and outlook. Make your well-being a priority every day.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Understanding Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

DOMS Have you ever adopted a new workout regimen, then ended up kicking your ass so hard that you became discouraged from the pain you experienced after your workouts? If so, you were probably taken by surprise when delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) set in. What often occurs is that people adopting new exercise regimens may become quickly discouraged, usually because they don’t understand why they are so sore, and will back off from exercising without ever getting a chance to maintain consistency. However, DOMS may be a beneficial signal that your workouts are challenging enough to make a difference.

DOMS typically develops between 24 to 72 hours after physical activity, and is considered a relatively normal and common result of activity that challenges muscle tissue. One popular but flawed theory is that the microscopic tears which occur in the muscle fibers after exercise, coupled with the release of lactic acid and protons, are responsible for the muscle soreness which characterizes DOMS. Mizumura and Taguchi determined in an important study that neurotrophic factors are produced by muscle fibers and satellite cells, and are critical for the development of DOMS symptoms. They also determined that damage to muscle fibers was not a necessary component of DOMS, further suggesting that a neurological cascade is what results in the post-exercise soreness.

For the most part, the aches and pains which characterize DOMS are assumed to be a sign that your muscles are adapting to the activity which caused them to develop in the first place. Rather than shying away from physical activity in the long term, the general recommendation is to take it easy for a few days, while still exercising, until the pain subsides. However, those of us who are gym rats and fitness freaks will tend to adopt the “Suck it up, buttercup!” mentality, powering through workouts as best we can while our bodies scream out in general agony.

So what can you do if you have DOMS and you want to lessen the severity and duration of the soreness? The truth is, not much. However, here are some suggestions which you might want to try. Keep in mind that none of these suggestions is proven to ameliorate DOMS, but none will worsen the symptoms either.

• consumption of plenty of water both during and after exercise
• consumption of a protein-rich meal after exercise
• glutamine
• cherry juice
• vitamin D supplementation
• compression garments
• Epsom salts
• application of heat

One thing to bear in mind is that if you are consistently working out at the same intensity, your muscles will become familiar with that intensity, essentially adapting to it. This phenomenon is called the repeated bout effect (RBE), and basically means that you will most likely notice a drop-off in DOMS episodes. If you suddenly increase the intensity or duration of your workouts, the chance of developing DOMS will return.

Obviously if you believe you have a specific injury, and not DOMS, then get it evaluated and rest up.

REFERENCES
Mizumura K, Taguchi T. Delayed onset muscle soreness: Involvement of neurotrophic factors. J Physiol Sci. 2016 Jan;66(1):43-52.

Anti-Inflammatory Meds and Muscle Growth

NOTE: This was originally written for Oxygen Mag digital version.

There has been a heated debate over many years within the bodybuilding community about whether anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen sodium hinder muscle growth. These medications inhibit the synthesis of prostaglandins, which also play a role in muscle synthesis. All it took was one clinical study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism to put bodybuilders into a panic about reduced protein synthesis, and it didn’t matter that such results were found in laboratory rats. While there is some evidence to suggest that the anabolic signal is shut off when anti-inflammatories circulate in the bloodstream, nothing is absolutely conclusive, and what might be seen in the rat model might not necessarily be the case for humans.

While I will never advocate chronic use of painkillers and anti-inflammatory agents, I think they definitely serve a purpose when acute injury is present. When I find myself in the middle of disputes with bodybuilders who INSIST that a few days on such medications will completely destroy all their efforts in the gym, I simply shake my head in frustration. If you are injured and your lifting is adversely affected by the injury, whether it be a muscle strain, a ligament tear, or a minor disc herniation, you need to be aware that training through that injury, especially when it deranges your form and causes other body parts to compensate for the injury, will end up really messing you up over time. I honestly think that a minimal decrease in muscle mass over the course of a few days is preferable to the imbalance and asymmetry which usually occur when a bodybuilder foolishly pushes through heavy workouts despite an injury which has a domino effect on the body.

Common sense, and medical expertise, dictate that the inflammation must be removed from the area, most commonly through short term administration of anti-inflammatory agents, ice, and rest. Trust me, if you follow a regimen like this, you won’t lose all the muscle you have built over the years. Be sure to take these medications with food, and if you have any history of gastric ulcers. bleeding disorders, or kidney dysfunction, avoid taking them.

Remember that I am talking about DAYS, not weeks or months. This is one time when eating constantly has its benefits, since bodybuilders and fitness people can pretty easily fit in their medication administration with one of their meals. I know it’s difficult to back off from training, but if you truly want to HEAL, you must give the injured area time to repair itself. If you insist on continuing to train through the injury, especially, without any medications or other interventions on board, you can count on the injury either lingering or worsening over time.