Archive for Health Goals

Men’s Health

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, men can make a few small changes that could have a tremendous impact on their health.

  • Eat Healthy. Balancing your diet with fruits and vegetables could help you lower the risk of conditions such as heart disease.
  • Maintain a weight that is healthy. Waist measurement can help you determine whether or not you are at risk for high blood pressure and stroke.
  • Exercise. Over 50% of both men and women do not spend enough time being active. Changing your daily routine to include at least 30 minutes a day of exercise could be beneficial.
  • Get routine exams. Men are at risk for cancers of the skin, prostate, and colon. Making an appointment with your doctor could help you identify the warning signs of these cancers early on and prevent them.
  • Get vaccinations.
  • Lower your stress. Are you too focused on things that stress you out? Try to change the way you approach these things in your life or eliminate them.

For fun you can test your knowledge about men’s health.

Resources

CDC: Men’s Health
http://www.cdc.gov

National Library of Medicine
http://www.nlm.nih.gov

Science Daily: Men’s Health News
http://www.sciencedaily.com

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The First Day

The First Day

Welcome to your first day of fitness. And believe me when I say that today is the easiest of all the fitness days. So far you should have defined your goals for your future fitness, decided the best workouts for you, and developed your support group.

Today you will set the precedent for all of your future workouts. The level of commitment you show yourself today will motivate or de-motivate you in future sessions. Before we begin there are a few things you should consider doing.

First, take a picture of yourself in your bathing suit. This is your first day, this is the beginning, and this is what we want to improve on. This picture will be used for comparison in the following weeks. Six weeks from now when you’re ready to take that day off from your workout or splurge from your diet you can look at this picture and look at yourself in the mirror and compare your progress to your “old body.” To accompany this picture measure your entire body, every part. Bicep size, waist size, thigh size, neck size, hat size, everything. Create a table to track these on a weekly basis. These numbers will not change daily, but weekly you will notice a change.

The next step is to create a fitness spreadsheet. This sheet should have dates on the first row and exercises on the column. This will be used to track your progress.

Sally Wally 8/20/07 8/21/07 8/22/07 8/23/07

Leave some space for comments at the bottom and leave several blank rows for adding exercises you discover.

As each day comes and goes mark what activities you completed and measure your success. After a few days you may have this as your table:

Sally Wally 8/20/07 8/21/07 8/23/07 8/24/07
Run 2 miles 16 min   2 Miles 16 min  
Stretching 15 minutes 20 minutes 18 Minutes 20 Minutes
Water 20 Ounces 18 Ounces 24 Ounces 22 Ounces
Rest   XXXXXXXX    
Sit-ups 50     120
Swim     10 Laps 15 Laps
Sleep 8.5 hours 8.75 hours 8.2 Hours 8.5 Hours

Comments: The water in the fountain at the city park is not very tasty, bring a water bottle.

Our table here has added a few new exercises as we discovered them. I want you to notice the big ugly “X” in the “Rest” row. We did not do any exercise on that day. We are telling ourselves that this was not a very healthy day for us compared to what we want to be doing, and making that day stand out in hopes of not having many more. At least we still stretched that day. Stretching is something you must do every day. Doing so improves flexibility and endurance. Proper stretching can also increase muscle mass and usability.

We also added our water and sleep totals. This is important as well. Water and sleep help fuel and rebuild our muscles to improve our health.

Our sheet also shows comments. We discovered that the public fountain at the park is substandard, we will need to bring our own supply of water. This is your sheet, take ownership of it. Write down what is important to you.

Begin your diet today if you have not already. The correct food will help your body feel energized and comfortable. Soda and junk food is the enemy. These things actually make you feel less energized and complicate your work out. Water and natural foods are our friends.

Make sure to stretch before and after your workout to help remove the lactic acids from your muscles. The stretching not only prevents injuries, but also helps ease you into your work out and makes it more enjoyable, and less painful. I can not over emphasize the value of stretching. An effective stretch when you wake and one before you sleep will improve your total health feel and sleep cycles.

For your goals for your first day I offer two. The first is “do not quit,” you will surprise yourself by pushing past the pain tolerance you have learned and accomplishing more. When you want to quit, when you “think” you are tired, go a few minutes more. You will like your self better that first day for what you have accomplished. You will feel more energized and read for the next day.

Your second goal is very simple; it will be our mantra for all of our workouts, “All you have to do is Breathe.” Keep breathing; keep focusing on your breath. Take your mind off of your workout and listen to your marvelous body breathe. All your body wants to do is breathe, so let it. Feel the rhythm and let it take over your body. During any workout there is one constant, breath. If it’s during a competitive sport, make your self breathe. During your run, feel it come in your nose and out your mouth. The good goes in… The bad comes out. From this day forward you will know and think one thing for every exercise:

“All you have to do is breathe.”

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An alternative way to stay fit!

We all know how hard it is to get into the routine of going to the gym. Even right now in my time of life it’s so hard to make time to get back into shape. Yet when I get home I do these things not in any particular order: Turn TV on, search the net, play some online game, read my RSS feeds, Playstation 3, or Nintendo Wii. What I’m getting at is how many of us probably get home and just relax by the TV or play some sort of console or game in our free time. We get so wrapped up in this that it’s hard to get in our car and drive to the gym or even get in the elevator and go downstairs to the gym. Not only the time to get to the gym gets in the way but the idea of the gas, traffic, cost, etc. too actually makes it a routine. We could try some new alternatives that I used to do myself. All this time that we spend watching the TV or playing any sort of game, translate it into a game where you can actually stay fit. Yup that’s right this might sound crazy but some games can actually keep us in shape.

What games may you ask? The answer is as simple as a three letter acronym: DDR. That’s right Dance Dance Revolution. You’ve probably seen it in any arcade or movie theater you’ve been too. You have probably laughed at all the kids on those weird machines with arrows scrolling up the screen. Well guess what this is one of the easiest aerobic exercises you can find. Don’t get me wrong it isn’t as easy as it looks. This is a great alternative to anyone who has a game console at home. It beats going to an overcrowded gym or having the problems of going anywhere. You’ll be in the comfort of your own home and not have anyone around except maybe your spouse to laugh at you (chances are sooner or later they will probably want to try it out and it’ll become a competition).

Chances are if you have any video game console at home you’ll be able to go to any local retail store and pick it up for: Sony Playstation 1 & 2, Nintendo Game Cube, and Microsoft Xbox & Xbox 360. I wouldn’t be surprised if you see new versions of it out for the Nintendo Wii & Playstion 3 in the future. Many people have found to lose around six to eleven pounds with regular use. I would say with my own experience that it builds great endurance and you can really break out a good sweat playing DDR. Many of the new versions of the game have beginner level so you can start from there and become an expert in no time. Also many of the new versions have Work Out Mode so it will keep a track of how many calories you’ve burned in your session. Once you’ve become comfortable I challenge you to go out and invite your friends over to try it out. If you really get into it and purchase an extra mat for your house many of the versions have battle and team play. I know me and my friends use to meet at someone’s house every once in awhile to battle it out over a couple of drinks.

So next time you think hey I can’t find the time or want to go to a crowded gym think hey I could make some of my gaming time into a work out session. Most versions retail for around $60-$80 depending on the quality of mat or amount of mats it brings with the game.

JM

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Creating Health Goals

“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.”  -Author Unknown 

It’s never too late to improve your health, never. Each moment you wait, each second that’s flies by makes it harder to begin. The first step is not as hard as most say, that hard part is staying committed. Anyone can eat well today, but can they guarantee they will eat good three months from now? It’s easy to get up today early and go for that jog on the treadmill. Try doing the same thing every day for weeks, and it begins to tire on you like anything else. Commitment is the key, and the way to commitment is through goals. What do you want to do, why do you want to do it, and how will you do it?

 

Without a goal you will not know what your commitment applies to. The goal has to be specific, so you can see how every choice affects your goal. Now all of us have the same ultimate goal “improved health.” This “improved health,” will vary greatly for each of us. The woman who runs five miles a day desires improved health and wants to move up to six miles a day. The obese man who can not walk wants the freedom of movement again. Everyone wants better health, you will never hear a serious person state; “I am too healthy.” It’s the only thing you can never be too good at or have to much of.

We need to nail down your personal goals. First we must look at your current health. Try this out: take out a piece of paper and write down every exercise you have done in the last seven days. Now below that write down every meal you have had for the last seven days. Now write down the total number of hours you spent watching TV or using the computer. For every hour of exercise give your self a plus four (+4), for every hour of TV and every hour of computer give your self a minus one (-1). Add them all up; are you above or below zero? If you above zero you have probably improved your health this week, if below you may have hurt yourself. I say “may,” as each person is unique and you, no one else, will decide how you live your life.

I hope you were able to remember your meals you ate. What goes in you is just as important as how you remove it. If your health goal does not include your nutrition, it’s like planning a road trip and not taking into account the gasoline needed.

Now that we have seen how your week went, how do you wish to improve next week? Awareness of the problem is the first step. As our body is always changing and adjusting, we must always change and adjust to keep it healthy.

Before creating your goals you must first do a self evaluation. The +4, -1 test I had you do above is a type of evaluation. There are so many things to consider, firstly your age, the older you are the less likely and slower your body will react to the improved lifestyle. Your current health is second, if you can visualize a scale from -100 to 100 where -100 is the unhealthiest person you can imagine (aside from disease) and 100 is a seven time gold medalist, where do you think you fit. There is no wrong answer. Justify to yourself your reasons for your ranking and be honest. I would say a perfect zero is an average person. Their chest is level with their belly. They can jog a mile or so. This person has no real trouble falling asleep and is generally happy.

 Is this man/woman you? What sticks out more your belly or your chest? Can you jog that mile? Is falling asleep easy? If you lack any of these qualities, you may be below average in health. And when I say average, I mean as to a human, not to a modern American human.

The average American can not jog that mile can not fall asleep easily, and their belly extends past their chest. That is why we aim for Above Average Health. Where do you want to fit on that scale? 15? 36? 87?

Appearance is not the only factor in health, and neither is ability. Listen to Brad:

“When I enlisted into the US Marines I was 6’2” 215lbs and had a 36 inch waist. I could run three miles with little difficulty and worked as a life guard so I had a nice tan and a descent body.”

Sounds like Brad is VERY above average. Let’s read what happened during boot camp:

“…by week eight I weighed 175lbs and dropped down to a 32 inch waist. My tan had faded as I did not spend much time shirtless outside. My body was ‘lean,’ for lack of a better word. I could jog 5 miles with ease and carry a full grown man with full battle gear over a quarter mile. I felt great, energized; I slept instantly every night, and was not sick for months on end. I was not as muscular as I was, nor as attractive, but I was a much more powerful and healthy human.”

Brad demonstrates function above form. Athletes and military personal do not usually have supermodel type bodies. They have bodies adjusted to their environment. So your goal will have to include how far you go for health as Brad is an extreme example.

For most people it is about appearance, very few of us wish to be able to, “carry a full grown man… a quarter mile.” But we do wish to look and fell better.

The only way to improve something is to change it. There are two things you can control, what you eat and your activities. Diet is very difficult to change. We have the foods we like and the foods that are readily available to us. The sad truth is that the cheaper foods are usually the must unhealthy and hardest to find. This is part of your plan, making the commitment to buy that better food, and taking the time to prepare it your self. When you cook your own you know every thing to goes into it, and can control your intake.

A nice side affect that does happen after a few weeks of eating better, is the costs actually begin to decrease. Bringing food to your work and not going to the local sandwich shop is a huge step for better diet. It’s also far cheaper. Take this into account. Lets say you work an eight hour day, and you spend $8 on lunch. If you spread that $8 out during the day, you just gave yourself a one dollar an hour pay cut. That is $2080 a year you’re costing yourself, how big was your last pay raise?

As for activities, it all comes down to time management. Living healthy takes time that could be spent on other things like, eating, watching TV, playing computer games, or sleeping. You will have to sacrifice some of the above. Which one you pick is up to you, I hope you choose to sacrifice TV. Here is why. Think back to your last birthday, what episode of your favorite TV show was on? What was the story? Does it matter now? Again it’s your choice.

For finding time, I think this sums it up best:

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time.  You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”  –Life’s Little Instruction Book, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

It can not be put any plainer or simpler, you decide how to spend your time, and no one else does.

You see the level of commitment you need. I hope you are ready. We need to find next things you enjoy that can improve your health. Increasing these activities will lead to other ones you can adopt and create verity.

Many people, me included, opt for a treadmill in front of a TV. This is a great way to wean yourself from TV and fit your workout into something you already do. Do not want to pay for a treadmill, try sit-ups, push-up, pull-ups, and all the ups. You could challenge yourself. Try to do 50 sit ups during the three minute commercial break. Any variation on these kind of activates could/should be part of your plan.

Make of list of all physical activities you enjoy, and find ways to commit to them. Joining a sports league is a great way, when you enjoy your work out it is much more beneficial. Find a work-out buddy. It can be your spouse, child, co-worker, whomever. As long as it is a person you can cont on to motivate you. Your team or partner can also partake in your improved diet; invite them over for your new vegetarian lasagna recipe. Take your support group into account when building your goals.

The last thing you should consider is why you are doing this. That is the easiest of all answers, for your health. What is your health reason?

“…play catch with my new born grandson.” –Neal 58

“…become a lifeguard.” –Sara 17

“…lose 37 pounds.” –Katie 41

“…be a starter this year.” –Dante 15

“…survive one more year.” –Dwayne 76

What is yours?

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Commitment to “Health”

What is health?

What is a practical, approach to health?

We have all found web-sites dedicated to health and health related items. We have all seen the advertisements (televised, print, broadcast and Internet) providing “miracle” cures to our health problems. These miracles usually involve the ingestion of some chemical of some sort. Diet pills, diet shakes, diet this and that.

Take a moment to think about this, you are led to believe that if we ingest (take in) something, that we will some how lose something. Now ask yourself this, when you lose something, how does it leave your body? There are two non-surgical answers: feces, and vomit. Neither of which are pleasurable and vomiting is rarely healthy.

The question of finality is this, how do “I” become healthy? There is no universal answer to this; we are very different, both chemically and mentally.

What we hope to explore here are some ways to discover your health goals, the ways they can work for you, and places to find help.

Every part of our life affects our health. Every thought you take creates some form of change or “stress,” wither positive or negative, on your body. Every moment of every day your body is undergoing change. Each heart beat requires energy (usually in the form of calories). What we need to learn is that our body is ready from the moment of birth to be healthy. All the tools are present for us. Our only true goal is control our actions and decisions in our daily life.

Each year doing what is best for your body is harder and harder, both externally and internally. The external factors are the increasing “greasiness” of the food that is readily available, the declining environmental factors, and pressure influences (these include, what our friends/family do, what advertisements we see, and what is geographically close to you.)

The internal factors are different for each. One person may have a syndrome or disease they have that affects them. Another person might have a higher metabolism through genetics that helps them. As you age your body gets more “adjusted” to its current state, and changing it to a better state is more difficult.

The first step is to create a goal, what do you want out of your health? Do you want to be able to run a marathon, or run around the block? For most people that answer is very simple, “I want above average health.” I want to look and feel good. Very few people plan on being in the Olympics. Most people want to spend as little time as possible with the best results. That in itself is the problem. What is more important then your health? All else should come second in your life, for when your health fades, all else suddenly becomes less important.

What is your health goal? You must define the goal in absolute terms to be able to aim absolutely. “I want to look good in a swim suit,” is much too vague. Which swim suit, why just that suit, why not looking great in the nude? Why do you want to look good in that suit? What is your motivation?

Here is a description more along the lines I am looking for:

“I want to run the Boston Marathon in three hours and fifteen minutes by the next running.”

Do you see the specifics? A very nailed down goal, not just, “I want to run a marathon,” not just “I want to run the Boston Marathon,” but a specific time for running it and a date to do it by.

Your goals are hopefully not as lofty as this. Perhaps this is a better goal; “I want to be able to do 100 sit-ups in a minute by four weeks from now.” That is an attainable goal.

So you have your first goal, now what? Next we need to remove crutches from your life. What is a crutch? A crutch is anything we use as an excuse for our less then average health. This can be as temporary as a bout with a cold, as mundane as a twisted ankle, or as overwhelming as missing body parts. The most common crutch is time, “I simply do not have the time to eat right or work out.” As I stated before, we are all unique, and your commitment level is directly reflected by your ability to remove crutches.

Here is an example of one type of crutch:

“I play basketball three days a week as part of my health routine. Recently my knees have begun to pain me when I jump during play. This favoring of my knees has really affected my play, and taken the joy out of my exercise, which in turn has affected my motivation.” –Jon

Now Jon is probably going to play less basketball because of his knees. So that beneficial activity he enjoyed will now be diminished. Many people would quit altogether.

Here is what Jon did:

“I researched new stretching techniques to partake before and after my games. I also purchased an exercise DVD focused on knees and legs to help strengthen them. I purchased a support for my one knee which still had some aches after games even after the stretching and DVDs. Now my problems are all but gone. There is still some stiffness the following day, but that too is also reducing weekly.”

Jon removed his crutch, and turned it into an advantage. His legs are now stronger, and he is more flexible and faster. He enjoys his basketball more and plays even harder then ever before, thus improving his workout.

So for your assignment: Create several goals and think about your crutches. The next posting will be about creating goals for your health and helpful items to begin you on your journey to Above Average Health.

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