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Hey, I am a med student who likes to write. Each week I provide a handful of tips that will help you in your quest to become healthier.

Beginner's Guide To Massage

Written: 08/31/2007 | Join the discussion (1)


Whenever I hurt myself as a kid, I used to "rub it better" because the vigorous action helps to relieve the pain. Guess what I just did? It's simple - Massage.


Disclaimer: I am no certified massage therapist but only a practitioner which has gained all these knowledge through research and documentation on the subject. I've been learning about massage for the past four years after having suffered from persisting back, head and neck pain.


What is Massage?

Massage is manipulation of the soft tissues of the body - the skin, fat and muscles. Techniques can be adapted to produce various results, whether invigorating or soothing. If you are tired and exhausted, a stimulating and invigorating massage can pep you up whereas if you are tense and anxious, a soothing massage can induce a total sense of relaxation.

Benefits of Massage

  • Massage relieves physical and mental tension and is particularly beneficial for those who find it hard to relax.

  • After vigorous exercise, it revives tired muscles by stimulating blood flow to them. This speeds the removal of wastes that have built up in our body, leading to muscle fatigue.

  • It also helps relieve muscle cramp and speeds recovery of muscle ligament tears, sprains and strains.


Basic movements of massage

  • Effleurage:

    Effleurage is a rhythmical stroking with the whole hand, applying more pressure when stroking towards the heart. The pressure may be light or heavy and the rhythm fast or slow. It is good for large areas like the back, thighs or calves.

  • Kneading

    Also known as Petrissage, kneading is a firm manipulation by the whole hand in a semi-circular movement. It is suitable for the butts, thighs and shoulders. If the area is less fleshy, the movements can be carried out with the fingers and thumbs.

    Pressure movements involve kneading with thumbs to improve circulation. It is excellent for massaging the sides of the spine, but never the spine itself.


  • Friction Rub

    Note: This is not an official term in massage. I'm just calling this technique "friction rub".

    A friction rub is a deep circular movement produced when knotted body parts are rubbed using the heel of the hand, the pads of one or more fingers and the thumbs. The movements last only only a few seconds, and are then repeated.


There are many other different massage techniques such as stroking, kneading, pressing, tapping and pummeling which produce varied effects. These techniques are self-explanatory and I'm sure do not warrant any further explanation from me.


Types of massage

  • Acupressure

    Acupressure is like acupuncture, but finger pressure is used instead of the needles on your body's pressure points. It can treat specific ailments and relieve pain.

  • Therapeutic massage

    Therapeutic massage is a very intuitive kind of massage, where oils are often used to lubricate the skin. The kind of massage you will receive depends on your mood, physical and emotional states of health and the effect you require - for instance more vitality or a wish to unwind.

  • Reflexology

    Reflexology is based on the concept that reflex points on the feet and hands relate to every part of the body. By stimulating these, you can reduce tension all over your body.

  • Shiatsu

    Shiatsu is a for of massage from Japan that works on the body's energy channels or meridians. The idea is to regulate the flow of life force known as chi. Imbalances of chi are considered to be at the root of all disease. The pressure is applied with the thumbs, elbows, knees and feet.

  • Sports Massage

    Sports massage encourages the healing of sports injuries, relieves any pain and revives muscles to help them stay in good shape.

  • Swedish Massage

    Swedish Massage is a systematic technique that works on a purely physical level. It aims to release tension and tone up the body.


Self-Massage


Relieve stress by massaging areas of tension such as your head, neck and shoulders.

  • The Face:

    Using the first two fingers of each hand, stroke firmly outwards from the centre of your forhead several times.

    Then place your fingertips on your temples and rub gently using circular movements.

    Repeat over the temple are.

  • The Scalp:

    Spread your fingertips over your scalp through your hair.

    Gently tug your hair, moveing one hand backwards and the other forwards.

    Move and repeat.

  • The Neck:

    Place three fingers either side of your spine at the top of your neck and drag them outwards, pressing firmly.

    Repeat several times, gradually moving your fingers downwards.

    Grasp the muscle at the top of one shoulder with the opposite hand and rub in a circular fashion.

    Repeat the other side.

Massage is very good for health and once you are on it, you will stay hooked for life.


Further Reading:

The Many Benefits of Massage


Body Work Online - An excellent forum for people learning the art of massage.

5 Simple Solutions to Make You Stop Complaining About Exercise

Written: 08/30/2007 | Join the discussion (2)


“Those who think they have no time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness” - Edward Stanley


One of the primary reasons people give up exercising is because they find it very boring or not stimulating enough. You have to keep in mind that in order to slim down this waist, you not only need to diet but also to exercise!

Here are 5 solutions to your complaints to make you enjoy your exercise routine:

  • Complaint #1: I tire easily.

    Most people have written extensively on this point but nevertheless, most people continue to make this mistake. Most people are pretty pumped up when they are starting to exercise but they soon tire themselves.

    Solution: Start slow and gradually build up your exercise routine. Do low- to moderate-level activities, especially at first. You can slowly increase the duration and intensity of your activities as you become more fit. Over time, work up to exercising on most days of the week for 30-60 minutes. Drink a lot of water also so as to avoid dehydration.

  • Complaint #2: I don't have time for exercise

    Everybody has time. At first I also had no time for blogging. Now I'm finding about 60 minutes every day to research and write an article. You'd be amazed about the amount of time you will get if you learn how to get things done.

    Solution: Ross Enamait phrased it best:

    Set your alarm clock 20 minutes earlier than you are accustomed to. Use the extra 20 minutes in the morning to exercise. You will feel tired and miserable at first, but after a week it will become just another part of your daily routine.

  • Complaint #3: I find exercise too boring.

    Talk about exercising and what jumps to your mind? I bet that would be either running or hitting the gym. Most people concentrate on only one type of exercise to shape up their body and I assure that with this routine, you'll get frustrated in no time and give up.

    Solution: The key here is VARIETY. Run today. Take a rope and jump tomorrow. Go for a swim the next day. Hit the gym the day after. Do some stretching or aerobic training. Call if off during the weekend and give yourself a rest.

  • Complaint #4: I do not enjoy exercising.

    Exercising is often tiring but if done properly, it can leave you feeling refreshed and energized.

    Solution:

    Warm up first before exercising.

    Wear comfortable, large and light clothes when exercising.

    Listen to music that will crank up your motivation and push you further in your exercise routine.

    Wear proper gears when exercising.

    Set easy goals and reward yourselves when you achieve it.

    Two is "most of the time" better than one. Find a buddy to exercise with.

    Join a fitness club. Association often encourages you to go forward.

  • Complaint #5: I do not find any benefits of exercising.

    There a nuance between "exercise" and "proper exercise". Although exercise is good, proper exercise is better. Most people on a routine just quit after one week of exercise when they do not see any perceptible changes in your body.

    Notice the use of the word "perceptible" in the last sentence. Most people quit for this reason because they do not see any visual change such as weight loss or slim waist. Note that exercise often contributes to good health factors such as a proper functioning heart and liver; all which cannot be judge by a first glance.

    Solution:

    Stick to it and eventually you will see the change.

    Go for long goals.

    Take before and after photos and eventually you will see the change.

    Get a coach to show you how to exercise properly.


To be honest, exercise is not as easy as it seems and you will experience some of these complaints as you go but remember that nothing is difficult in life if you put your mind to it. The key here is to stick to it through the rough times and you will enjoy exercisingt as time goes by.


Further reading:

The World Today - Ross Enamait


16 Ways To Get Motivated When You're in a Slump - Zenhabits

10 Reasons Why You Must Drink Milk At Breakfast And Before Bedtime

Written: 08/29/2007 | Join the discussion (1)


Like almost everybody, I had a problem drinking milk. This is mostly due to the "myth" that milk is reserved only for babies and kids. Although the campaign Got Milk was often criticised as a propaganda for the Dairy Business, the fact remains that milk is very good for your health. The dietary guidelines recommend 3 cups of milk per day but the one extra cup can be obtained through milk products such as yoghurt, milk and cookies, and cheesecake..

Here are 10 reasons why milk is good for health:

  1. Calcium and Potassium

    Calcium is the building block of our bones and thus, prevents a disease common in old age known as Osteoporosis. It is also essential for other functions such as nerve transmission, muscle contraction and blood clotting.

    Potassium regulates our blood pressure. It is also needed for muscle contraction.

  2. Protein

    Milk is an excellent source of protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids which are required to meet our physiological needs.

  3. Vitamins A,B-12,D

    Vitamin A helps maintain a good eyesight and smooth skin. It also controls cell growth and the proper functioning of our immune system.

    Vitamin B-12 is essential for our nervous system. It is also involved in blood formation.

    Vitamin D helps in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus and bone formation.

  4. Phosphorus and Riboflavin

    Phosphorus and riboflavin help in the "production of energy" in the body's cell. They also help in our bone formation.

  5. Niacin

    Niacin keeps enzymes functioning normally and helps the body process sugars and fats. It is also important for the development of the nervous system.

  6. Weight Loss

    Though not as reliable as other weight loss diets, milk is linked to weight loss as attested by the following studies.

  7. Controlled eating

    Drinking a glass of milk at breakfast and before bedtime prevents unhealthy snacking and the cravings of food at night or before lunch.

  8. Milk does not develop kidney stones

    An urban legend linked to milk is that milk develops kidney stones.

    At the University of Chicago, D.R. Webb showed that even calcium-sensitive patients were able to consume milk or calcium-fortified orange juice without increasing their risk of stone formation. Patients drinking 600 mg of calcium in beverage form developed no kidney stones.

  9. Milk decreases risk of diabetes

    As the following study shows, milk may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes in middle-aged or older women.

  10. Milk decreases heart disease

    Skim milk
    low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.

Note of Caution:

Unfortunately, milk and milk products cause an estimated 50% of the adult population's uncomfortable bloating, gas, cramping and diarrhea. Lactose intolerance can result from two things: either through a natural enzyme deficiency, which prevents the body from digesting milk sugars, or through an allergy to milk itself. The amount of lactase, the intestinal enzyme responsible for the digestion of lactose, the sugar found in milk, typically declines naturally after weaning, unless the body is genetically predisposed to produce more lactase.

A solution to the discomfort of lactose intolerance can be the consumption of dairy products pre-digested by lactase.

One additional reason for you to drink milk if you have kids, is that you as a parent, are setting an example for them. So drink a glass of milk before bedtime as from today to your health!


Further Reading:

5 Reasons You Should Drink A Glass of Milk Before Bedtime
Milk - Facts and Fallacies

6 Products To Help You Quit Smoking

Written: 08/28/2007 | Join the discussion (0)


Lately some of my friends were contemplating quitting smoking. It is never easy to break free from a habit and more over a habit like smoking. The main block to stop smoking is a lack of motivation and the lack of nicotine in your body.

Effects of not smoking

Most people know the effects of smoking but you must also understand the effects of not smoking and the strain your body will have to experience during the "non-smoking" phase or "Quitter's flu, a term used to describe this phase of smoking cessation". The lack of nicotine in the body can lead to withdrawal symptoms where smokers experience the following symptoms:

  • Cravings of a cigarette

  • Insomnia

  • Fatigue

  • Irritability, Crankiness, Edginess

  • Inablitity to concentrate or focus

  • Headache

  • Cough

  • Sore Throat

  • Dry Mouth

  • Sore tongue and/or gums

  • Postnasal drip

  • Tightness in the chest

  • Constipation, gas, stomach pain


These symptoms make it difficult to quit smoking. Some of the following products help minimise the withdrawal effects of smoking by avoiding a sudden drop in nicotine levels when you drop smoking.


So here are 6 products that will be help you drop smoking:

  1. Nicotine Patch

    A nicotine patch is a transdermal patch that releases nicotine into the body through the skin. It can be applied anywhere between the waist and neck — often on the upper arm or shoulder. Patches must be replaced every 24 hours.

  2. Nicotine Gum

    Nicotine gum is a type of chewing gum that delivers nicotine to the body. It is used as an aid in smoking cessation and in quitting smokeless tobacco. The nicotine is delivered to the bloodstream via absorption by the tissues of the mouth.

  3. Nicotine Lozenge

    The nicotine lozenge is an oral variety of NRT. The lozenge comes in the form of a hard candy, and releases nicotine as it slowly dissolves in the mouth.

  4. Nicoting Inhaler

    The nicotine inhaler, also nicknamed "the puffer" is a thin, plastic cartridge that contains a porous nicotine plug in its base. By puffing on the cartridge, nicotine vapor is extracted and absorbed through the lining of the mouth. Each cartridge delivers up to 400 puffs of nicotine vapor. It takes at least 80 puffs to obtain the equivalent amount of nicotine delivered by one cigarette.

  5. Nicotine Nasal Spray

    The nicotine in nasal spray reaches the bloodstream more quickly than do the other nicotine replacement medications.

    Nicotine nasal spray is sprayed inside your nostril. The recommended dose is a spray in each nostril one to five times an hour.

  6. These products are substitute cigarettes which you can smoke when you really feel the need of a cigarette.

  7. Some example include E-Z Quit and Simply Quit.

Please note that note these products are not 100% efficient but they have known to produce results, in addition to helping you stay motivated. It's best to consult your doctor beforehand and ask his advise before embarking on a "Stop Smoking Campaign".

How To Control Binge Eating

Written: 08/24/2007 | Join the discussion (1)


Lately with all the stress I've been accumulating, I turned all my attention to food to clear up my mind. This is a serious problem which dieters must face atleast one time in their life during dieting and yes, it has a name.

Binge eating also known as Compulsive Eating is a condition where a person has no control over his/her eating and so eats more than needed.


Characteristics of Binge Eating

A person with a binge eating problem usually shows the following characteristics:
  • Periodically does not exercise control over consumption of food

  • Eats an unusually large amount of food at one time -- more than a normal person would eat in the same amount of time.

  • Eats much more quickly during binge episodes than during normal eating episodes.

  • Eats until completely full.

  • Eats large amounts of food even when they are not really hungry.

  • Usually eats alone during binge eating episodes, in order to avoid discovery of the disorder

  • Often eats alone during periods of normal eating, owing to feelings of embarrassment about food

  • Feels disgusted, depressed, or guilty after binge eating.


Triggers of Binge Eating

The causes of binge eating disorder are still unknown. Most binge eaters show signs of depression. Emotional cues such as anger, sadness, boredom, and anxiety can trigger binge eating. Impulsive behavior and certain other emotional problems can be more common in people with binge eating disorder. However, many people also claim that binging occurs regardless of their mood.

Dieting's effect on binge eating disorder is also unclear. While findings vary, early research suggests that about half of all people with binge eating disorder had binge episodes before they started to diet. Still, strict dieting may worsen binge eating in some people.


Effects of Binge Eating

People with binge eating disorder can get sick due to a lack of proper nutrition. Binging episodes usually include foods that are high in sugar and/or salt, but low in healthier nutrients.

People with binge eating disorder are usually very upset by their binge eating and may become very depressed.

People who are obese and also have binge eating disorder are at risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, levels, gallbladder disease, heart disease and certain types of cancer.

Most people with binge eating disorder have tried to control it on their own, but have not been able to control it for very long. Some people miss work, school, or social activities to binge eat. Persons who are obese with binge eating disorder often feel bad about themselves and may avoid social gatherings.

Most people who binge eat, whether they are obese or not, feel ashamed and try to hide their problem. Often they become so good at hiding it that even close friends and family members don't know they binge eat.


How to control Binge Eating

  • People with binge eating disorder, whether or not they want to lose weight, should get help from a health professional including physicians, nutritionists, psychiatrist, psychologists, or clinical social workers for their eating behavior.


  • Treatment with medications such as antidepressants may be helpful for some individuals.


  • Also seek therapy sessions with like-minded people who suffer from binge eating. The type of treatment that is best for an individual is a matter for discussion between the patient and his or her health care provider.


  • A form of therapy known as cognitive-behavioral therapy teaches people how to keep track of their eating and change their unhealthy eating habits.


  • If ever a binge period is overcoming you, keep these healthy snacks at hand.


  • A weight loss program might be the best option for obese people.

Just keep in mind that Binge Eating is a "psychological problem" and thus, with motivation and support from your close ones, a cure is possible.


Reference:

MayoClinic - Binge Eating Disorder
AtHealth - Binge Eating Disorder
Wikipedia - Binge Eating Disorder

How To Fight Headache Out Of Your Life

Written: 08/23/2007 | Join the discussion (1)


Blogging, cooking, studying and the dread of a rapidly approaching exams are starting to have a cumulative effect on me, or rather my head. Lately I've been suffering from acute headache and so I came up with a complete guide on what types of headaches exist, what triggers headache and how to cure headaches.

A headache is the most common complaint known to mankind. But there are several types and many different triggers. How can you tell what sort of headache you've got, what kind of foods trigger headache and what can you do to relieve it?

Types of Headache

There are a number of different types of headache and most of the recurrent ones are either migraine, tension headaches or cluster headaches. Statistics show that women suffer more than men from all types of headache and get three times more migraines.

  • Migraine: A headache syndrome characterized by throbbing, usually one sided pain, that may be associated with nausea, vomiting and visual disturbances.

  • Tension Headache: As defined by the International Headache Society, a tension type headache is just the opposite of migraine. That is, the pain is on both sides of the head, is pressing and steady, rather than pulsating, is usually mild and does not cause incapacity and, is not worsened by ordinary daily activities. There is no associated nausea or sensitivity to light and noise.

  • Cluster Headache: Headache characterized by intense, burning pain in or around one eye and temple. That eye may redden and weep, and the nostril on that side may experience stuffiness and discharge. These types of headaches usually occur daily for a period of weeks to months in a cluster followed by a remission before the next cluster.

  • Episodic Headache: Episodic headaches cause severe throbbing at the back of the head, and usually appear more than twice a month.

  • Sinus Headache: Sinus headaches often start the minute you wake up and continue all day. They often improve in the evening. They cause pain in the forehead, temples and eyes or around the cheekbones. They are often due to a cold, allergy, or changes in weather pressure.


Headache Triggers?


Usually, it is not difficult to work out what caused a headache, for example a poor night's sleep, a row at home, or stress at work.

In many cases, your headache may be caused by one or more of several factors. The following lists may help determine the causes of your headache:

  1. Hunger: Low blood sugar can cause discomfort in the head which grows into a headache if no food is eaten. People who don't have breakfast may notice they develop a morning headache that disappears with their first snack. Crash dieters often have headaches because of low blood sugar.

  2. Alcohol: Wine, beer, brandy and whisky contain certain additives called congeners. Research indicates that congeners can trigger headaches in sensitive individuals, even if they haven't drunk very much.

  3. Hangover: Too much alcohol (combined with smoking) results in dehydration and poor quality sleep. It's the dehydration, not just the quantity of alcohol you've had, that causes the hangover headache the next morning.

  4. Caffeine: Drinking less coffee, tea and cola than usual, or occasionally drinking more, for instance over the weekend or on holiday can cause a thumping headache.

  5. Sexual Activity: Orgasm can be an unusual and distressing trigger for an intense headache. Pain at the back of the neck may also develop from arching the spine.

  6. Environmental stress: Flickering fluorescent strip lightning or glare can interfere with natural brain activity and tire the eyes. Also, hot, stuffy, fume-filled or overcrowded rooms or excessive noisce can trigger a raging headache.

  7. Physical Triggers: Simple actions such as wearing a too-tight hat or hairband, as well as conditions such as eye strain or toothache can all prompt a painful headache.

  8. The weather: People who are sensitive to climate may find they develop a headache just before a storm or in close, humid weather. Cold weather, particularly with a biting wind, can cause head muscles to contract and cause pain.

  9. Televisions, Monitors, Mobile Phones, PDAs: Any activity that involves a fixed focus for long periods of time can cause head pain. For instance, many people come out of the cinema with a headache. You may find sitting back from the screen helps.

  10. Smoking: Heavy smoking and passive smoking can trigger a headache. And, if you're giving up smoking, you'll probably find you get headaches for the first couple of days.

  11. Painkillers: It may seem odd that tablets taken to relieve a headache can cause another the next morning. But painkillers are thought to neutralise the body's naturally-occuring opiates (endorphins) which act as our own painkillers. People who take 30 or more aspirin, paracetamol or ibuprofen a month often suffer from headaches. A week off all drugs usually brings dramatic relief.

  12. Sleep: Both too much and too little sleep at night can cause a headache the following morning.


How to cure headaches

  • Most headaches respond to over-the-counter painkillers like aspirin, paracetamol and ibuprofen. You may find the soluble versions work more quickly to relieve pain and are less harsh on the stomach.

  • In addition to a painkiller, tension headaches may require a muscle relaxant as well. These are available on prescription from your doctor.

  • People who regularly suffer from headaches often find relief from alternative therapy. Aromatherapy, acupuncture and manipulative techniques such as osteopathy and chiropractic have all been shown to relieve headache.

  • Sleep helps most headaches, and one of the best ways to cure a headache is to have a nap.

  • Learn to relax away tension with yoga or meditation.

  • Headaches are often caused by hunger, so make sure you keep your blood sugar levels stable and don't go too long between meals.

  • A brisk walk or mild exercise will get oxygen to the brain, relieve stress and release endorphins, the body's natural painkillers.

  • A head, neck and shoulder massage can ease tight muscles, helping prevent tension headaches.


As the saying goes, Prevention is better than cure. Work on the factors that trigger headaches and you will enjoy life!

Reference:

Wikipedia - Headache
MedicineNet.com - Headache
Medlineline Plus - Headache

Lower Your Blood Pressure and (Weight) With the DASH Diet

Written: 08/22/2007 | Join the discussion (0)



Following the article I wrote on the Fad and Crash diets, I searched the web to find another healthy diet plan to lose weight. I came across a booklet known as Your Guide To Lower Blood Pressure With DASH. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.

The booklet, based on the DASH research findings, tells how to follow the DASH eating and reduce the amount of salt you consume. It offers tips on how to start and stay on the eating plan, as well as a week of menus and some recipes.

The DASH eating plan follows heart healthy guidelines to limit saturated fat and cholesterol. It focuses on increasing intake of foods rich in nutrients that are expected to lower blood pressure, mainly minerals (like potassium, calcium and magnesium), protein, and fiber. It includes nutrient-rich foods so that it meets other nutrients requirements as recommended by the Institute of Medicine.


The DASH plan can serve as a healthy weight loss method. Here is an extract from the new DASH ebook which shows how to use the DASH eating plan to lose weight.

The DASH eating plan can be adopted to promote weight loss. It is rich in lower-calorie foods, such as fruits and vegetables. You can make it lower in calories by replacing higher calorie foods such as sweets with fruits and vegetables.

Here are some examples:

To increase fruits –

  • Eat a medium apple instead of four shortbread cookies. You’ll save 80 calories.

  • Eat ¼ cup of dried apricots instead of a 2-ounce bag of pork rinds. You’ll save 230 calories.


To increase vegetables –

  • Have a hamburger that’s 3 ounces of meat instead of 6 ounces. Add a ½ cup serving of carrots and a ½ cup serving of spinach. You’ll save more than 200 calories.

  • Instead of 5 ounces of chicken, have a stir fry of 2 ounces of chicken and 1½ cups of raw vegetables. Use a small amount of vegetable oil. You’ll save 50 calories.


To increase fat-free or low-fat milk products –

  • Have a ½ cup serving of low-fat frozen yoghurt instead of a ½ cup serving of full-fat ice cream. You’ll save about 70 calories.


And don’t forget these calorie-saving tips:

  • Use fat-free or low-fat condiments.

  • Use half as much vegetable oil, soft or liquid margarine, mayonnaise, or salad dressing, or choose available low-fat or fat-free versions.

  • Eat smaller portions – cut back gradually.

  • Choose fat-free or low-fat milk products.

  • Check the food labels to compare fat content in packaged foods – items marked fat-free or low-fat are not always lower in calories than their regular versions.

  • Limit foods with lots of added sugar, such as pies, flavoured yoghurts, candy bars, ice cream, sherbet, regular soft drinks, and fruit drinks.

  • Eat fruits canned in their own juice or in water.

  • Add fruits to plain fat-free or low-fat yoghurt.

  • Snack on fruit, vegetable sticks, unbuttered and unsalted popcorn, or rice cakes.

  • Drink water or club soda – zest it up with a wedge of lemon or lime.

The DASH plan also has a few guidelines on fitness.

Make a Dash for DASH

Thirty minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each day can improve your health.

Getting started: Your physical activity program can be as simple as a 15-minute walk around the block each morning and evening. Gradually build up your program and set new goals to stay motivated. The important thing is to find something you enjoy, and do it safely. And remember - trying too hard at first can lead to injury and cause you to give up. If you have a chronic health problem or a family history of heart disease at an early age, be sure to talk with your doctor before launching a new physical activity program.

  1. Set up a schedule and try to keep it.

  2. Get a friend or family member to join you. Motivate each other to keep it up.

  3. Cross-train. Alternate between different activities so you don’t strain one part of your body day after day.

  4. Set goals.

  5. Reward yourself. At the end of each month that you stay on your exercise program, reward yourself with something new – new clothes, a new book – something that will help keep you committed. But don’t use food as a reward.

Those with high blood pressure and prehypertension may benefit especially from following the DASH eating plan and but I highly recommend everyone to download the booklet and to have a look at it.

Or you can order printed copies at the NHLBI site.


Picture and Ebook courtesy of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.

The Ultimate Guide To Calcium

Written: 08/20/2007 | Join the discussion (1)

Today I had an appointment with my dentist for a check-up and to my surprise, even I as a conscientious medical student, I was told that I had to increase the intake of calcium in my diets. Most people think that just drinking a glass of milk everyday is sufficient for their daily calcium intake. There are also people who are vegetarians who don't eat dairy products(not the lacto-vegans) and there are even some that do not touch milk.

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and it accounts for 2% of our body weight. Not only is it the main building block of our bones, teeth and nails, it also helps stimulate muscle movement.

Why we need calcium?

  • Calcium helps strengthen and protect the the bone.

  • Calcium is needed to build your nails and the dentine and enamel of your teeth.

  • Your skeleton is a living tissue and thus, it's continuously being broken down and renewed. So as your bones age, they are gradually replaced by fresh supplies of calcium and all the other necessary bone-building materials.


Where do we get calcium?


You aren't born with a store of calcium to use for bone building and maintenance, so all the calcium you need has to be taken in as part of your diet. Calcium is present in a wide range of foods, not just milk and cheese. The main sources of calcium are milk and milk products. Another good source is the small soft bones in fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and whitebait. These can safely be eaten and like all bone, contain a lot of calcium.

Other calcium-rich foods include leafy green vegetables and cereals. However, special substances in cereals, called phytates, can reduce the amount of calcium which the body can use.

Because of these absorption problems, it's best to get your calcium from a wide range of foods, instead of relying on one or two.

Here are a few examples of food containing calcium.

Cheddar chesse: 720 mg/100g
Milk (whole): 115 mg/100g
Milk (semi-skimmed): 118 mg/100g
Milk (Skimmed): 120 mg/100g
Yoghurt (plain): 190 mg/100g
Cottage Cheese: 73 mg/100g
White Bread: 110 mg/100g
Wholemeal Bread: 54 mg/100g
Canned Sardines: 550 mg/100g
Canned Salmon: 93 mg/100g
Broccoli: 40 mg/100g
Watercress: 170 mg/100g

How much calcium do we need?

Although your bones contain lots of calcium, they don't act as a store of the mineral and it can't be borrowed from them for other functions. This is why it's important to eat calcium every day, and the amount you require will depend largely on your age and health.

Children 7-10: 550 mg/day
Boys 11-18: 1 000 mg/day
Girls 11-18: 800 mg/day
Adults 19+: 700 mg/day
Pregnancy: 700 mg/day (Minimum!)
Lactation: 1 250 mg/day

Calcium Supplements


If your diet doesn't include the recommended amount of calcium, you can take a calcium supplement. These are available without a need for prescriptions from pharmacies and health food shops, but consult your doctor or a pharmacist first.

Don't take more that a total of 2 000 mg (2g) of calcium per day though!

Calcium and osteoporosis

If you consistently fail to eat the recommended amount of calcium, you may be at risk from osteoporosis or brittle bone disease.

As a normal part of aging, calcium is gradually lost from bone faster than it can be replaced. The result is that bones become weaker and more brittle as you get older. Bones which have not been fed sufficient calcium to strengthen them during the first 30 years of life will then weaken more quickly.

Women are at a greater risk of osteoporosis because the female hormone oestrogen, which helps to maintain bone strength, starts declining at the menopause. Sadly, it's not possible to cure osteoporosis by increasing the amount of calcium in your diet. This means it's vital you eat enough calcium, especially in your teens and 20s, before peak bone mass is reached.

Extra tips on calcium intake

  • Even as an adult, your skeleton is being replaced every 7 to 10 years. So you need to keep up your calcium intake throughout your entire life.

  • If you eat a lot of meat, you may need extra calcium. High levels of protein increase calcium absorption but also increase the amount lost in urine.

  • Smokers and drinkers also need to increase their daily calcium intake.

Your skeleton is a living tissue and a constant intake of calcium is needed to keep it strong and healthy.

Reference:

Health File - Calcium
Wikipedia - Calcium

Aromatherapy: 7 Essential Oils to Soothe Your Mind and Uplift Your Mood

Written: 08/17/2007 | Join the discussion (0)

Aromatherapy is an ancient healing art which uses the natural perfumes of plants - essential oils - to help prevent and treat health problems. It can help you relax, lift your mood and even sharpen concentration.

This practice of using fragrances to relax and heal the body has been around for thousands of years and dates back to ancient Chinese civilizations. Aromatic oils are used for a variety of medicinal purposes by both professionals and for self-help.

How does it work?
Aromatherapy can be used to treat conditions like insomnia, headache and migraine, depression, digestive problems, skin complaints, poor circulation, rheumatism, sinusitis, anxiety and stress. It is also used in conventional medicine to treat diseases like cancer, mental illness and muscular problems.

How to use the oils?

One of the simplest and most common ways of using essential oils is by diluting them in a carrier oil such as coconut or almond oil and then massaging them into the skin. This is thought to make the most of the fragrant oils because they are absorbed through the skin and seep into the bloodstream. At the same time, the scent reaches our nervous system through the sense of smell. The oils can also be added to bath water, used in inhalations, compresses and as room fragrances.

4 Ways To Play It Safe

  1. Aromatherapists sometimes recommend taking pure oils internally. This is not recommended. You must not ingest oils without the advice of a qualified practitioner.

  2. Pregnant women must be cautious about using aromatherapy, as some oils could be harmful to mother and baby. Ask a therapist for advice.

  3. Never apply undiluted oils to the skin as they are likely to cause irritation. If you have sensitive skin, apply a diluted oild and leave overnight to determine if it's safe to use.

  4. Essential oils should always be kept out of the reach of children.

7 most suitable essential oils for home treatment

  1. Clary Sage
    Known in the Middle Ages for its ability to heal eye problems, it's used as a relaxant to reduce anxiety.

  2. Lavender
    One of the most versatile oils, lavender is a classic remedy for aiding relaxation and trating insomnia.

  3. Lemon
    Oil from the rind of lemons has antiseptic properties and is refreshing and invigorating.

  4. Marjoram
    It has a delicate fragrance and is wonderfully calming and fortifying.

  5. Neroli Oil

    Neroli oil, which has an orangy scent, helps calm the emotions and works as a sedative.

  6. Rose
    Rose works as a powerful anti-depressant and of course roses have many meanings.

  7. Ylang Ylang
    A sensuous, exotic oil, ylang ylang is reputed as a powerful aphrodisiac. It also has a sedative effect on the nervous system.

Reference:

Wikipedia - Aromatherapy
Aromaweb
Aromatherapy
Holistic Online - Aromatherapy

Role Modelin': Livin' La Vida Local

Written: 08/16/2007 | Join the discussion (0)

Following the interview of Productivity and Fitness Junkie Mark McManus, one thing that retained my attention was the emphasis of focusing on role models and implementing their dieting styles to lose/gain weight.

Acquire the Mindset of those who already have what you want i.e. Become what you want


Intrigued by this mindset, I scoured the net to find role models for you to emulate.

Here is a guideline I used for finding a role model. You may develop your own. Note that the third person "He" has been used but you can choose a female for a role model. ;) Just did not want to make any discrimination.

Guidelines for selecting a role model:

  • He has proof that he knows what he is actually talking about. There is no need for expert knowledge on nutrition. But knowing what actually has worked him and demonstrated how this has worked for him is a must.

  • He has before and after pictures of himself showing how much weight he has lost.

  • He has detailed the exact steps he has undertaken to lose/gain weight.

  • He just plainly inspires us to follow in his footsteps and to try the diets and fitness he has undertaken.


Livin' La Vida Low Carb

The first role model that seems just the real thing to me was Jimmy Moore from Livin' La Vida Low Carb. Livin' La Vida Low-Carb is the inspiring weight loss success story of Jimmy Moore who made it his New Year's resolution on January 1, 2004 to lose weight once and for all. While others quit after only a few days or weeks, Jimmy pressed on until the next New Year's Day when he had shed 180 pounds from his 6'3" frame. Jimmy seems like the perfect role model for someone who is embarking on a weight loss program. He was kind enough to give me permission to use his pictures on Diet Hack. Just check out his before and after pictures:

Before:


After:


Jimmy Moore's Dieting Program:

From his faq, Jimmy's reveals the secret behind his weight loss.

I'm that Jimmy Moore character and I am overjoyed about low-carb because it changed my life forever beginning on January 1, 2004. That's the day I started the Atkins diet (yes, I read the book and survived!) at 410 pounds and I went on to lose 180 pounds in the span of one year. It was an amazing experience I detailed in my first book Livin' La Vida Low-Carb: My Journey From Flabby Fat To Sensationally Skinny In One Year and I'm absolutely convinced the low-carb lifestyle is the way I should eat for the rest of my long and healthy life! It may be what's right for YOU, too!
Jimmy's Expertise:

Jimmy is a firm advocate of low carb diet and more importantly Atkins diet which I considered as a fad diet. The reason he gives for the low carb diet is the following:

Contrary to what you may have heard from well-meaning health "experts," there is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate in your diet. There just isn't! The body no more "needs" carbs than it does poison. The reality is the body can make all the carbs it needs to live on through an amazing process known as gluconeogenesis just as our early ancestors did. And they didn't have the weight and health issues of modern society. With that said, the average person eats way too many carbs and most would benefit if they lowered their carbohydrate intake to less than 100g daily and much less for weight loss.
As a medical student I do not totally abide by this theory of Jimmy on Low Carb Diet. The carbohydrates we intake is converted to glucose first in our body. It is this glucose which is broken down, thereby releasing the energy we need.

A constant source of glucose in our blood is needed for the following reasons:

  • Glucose is the only source of energy for the brain and for certain types of cell such as red blood cells. (The cells which carry oxygen throughout our body.)

  • Sudden contraction and relaxation of our muscles demand energy which is obtained from the breakdown of glucose.

We store excess glucose in the form of glycogen obtained when we eat excess carbs.

What Jimmy is referring as gluconeogenesis to obtain carbs is in fact the body converting fat and glycogen stored in our liver and muscles to glucose. This glucose is then broken down to liberate energy in our body. So without carbs, the body would not have any materials to manufacture this energy.

Anyway this diet has worked for Jimmy and maybe it will work for some of you but I recommend losing weight the healthy way. Sorry Jimmy! ;)

Jimmy's real weight loss secret

Though Atkins Diet has certainly managed to strip off most of Jimmy's weight, I believe that the following reasons have had their share in making Jimmy lose weight. The following information is obtained from an article from Jimmy's graduate school alma mater, Regent University.

  • Jimmy drinks lot of water.

  • Jimmy exercises a lot.

  • Spirituality has helped Jimmy in his quest to lose weight.

  • And more important (from my point of view), Jimmy has had the full support of his wife, Christine.

Jimmy has inspired a lot by his story. He is a changed man now and firmly believes that anyone can turn his or her life around if he or she makes the choice. For more inspiration and to use Jimmy Moore as a role model, you can visit his blog Livin' La Vida Low Carb or purchase his book Livin' La Vida Low-Carb: My Journey From Flabby Fat To Sensationally Skinny In One Year which contains the 10 life-changing characteristics that Jimmy implemented to transform his body from a 410-pound man into the healthy and vibrant individual he is today.