Thursday, March 30, 2006

Sunscreen Makers Get Sued

As summer approaches in the Northern Hemisphere, sun worshippers may want to read the following from Reuters.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Does muscle weigh more than fat?

Well, yes and no. First, one pound is one pound. Period. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about one pound of fat, muscle, or cotton balls. One pound is one pound.

However, if you were to put one pound of fat on a table in front of you, and then place one pound of muscle next to it, the pound of fat would take up more space than the pound of muscle. Fat is kind of fluffy stuff that jiggles and spreads out. But muscle has greater density and therefore takes up less space.

Most important, remember that your metabolism must speed up just to maintain your new muscle, making you a more efficient fat burning machine. One the other hand, there is no limit to the amount of fat a flabby, non-exerciser can store on his or her body. Sounds awful, doesn’t it?

And it is

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Back From Iraq

I put up a post (“From the Gym to Iraq,” Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2005) about our young friend from the gym, Brad Avots. Brad was a college student when we met him. In a few short years, he graduated from college, went to USMC Officer Candidate School, earned a commission, and served in Iraq.

Last week, I walked into the local Starbucks and there he was, home on leave. We had coffee and talked. Getting an unfiltered perspective from someone who actually served in Iraq can be illuminating. He was grateful that all his Marines came home safely with him. His new assignment is with the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD), in San Diego.

Patty invited him to speak to her middle-school class and he generously took time out from his leave to do it.

The physical side: Annually, all Marines must pass the USMC fitness test. A perfect score is 300. I forget his exact score but it was right up there, pretty close to perfect. Believe me, that means you are in top shape.

Semper Fi.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Is Your Doctor Religious?

I've never thought much about whether my doctor is religious, so it isn't a question I would normally ask.

However, if you were to have asked me if I think most doctors are religious or not, I would have guessed that they probably aren't. Then I came across an article that said doctors, on average, are more religious than most of us think. In fact, they may be more religious than the patients they treat, on average.

Maybe the findings will surprise you as much as they did me. Either way, it's worth reading at "Your Doctor May be More Religious Than You Think."

Friday, March 17, 2006

March 17th

Today is St. Patrick's Day. I am Irish on my mother's side of the family and English on my father's. Probably some other ethnic groups were tossed in along the way, but mostly it's Irish and English.

More interesting is my wife’s connection to the date. Her dad, whose ancestors were Mexican, was born on St. Patrick's Day, so they named him Patrick. As far as I know, there were no Irish in the family tree, but they always ate corned beef and cabbage on his birthday.

Personally, I do not care for corned beef and cabbage. But I do like Guinness. And as it turns out, Guinness really is good for you. Check it out here. I’ll bet you knew there would be a health item in here somewhere.

Happy St. Patrick’s day!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Food Cop

Today’s newspaper got my attention with a story about a nutrition professor they called the “Food Cop.” The professor, Marion Nestle, teaches a university class called “Food Politics and Policy.”

One of her complaints is with the enormous amount of money spent to market junk food to kids. No need here to go through the litany of health issues today's overweight and obese kids are likely to face as adults. We’ve heard the warnings.

Most in the food industry have no love for professor Nestle. Their goal is to sell and sell more and more. And her advice is, “Eat less, move more, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, go easy on junk foods.” Try to imagine her at a McDonald’s or Burger King franchise pep talk.

An achieved goal of successful societies is the defeat of famine; but, unfortunately, it often ends in embracing gluttony. On a personal and local level, think about people gatherings of any kind. What’s usually front and center on the conference table? Sugar and fat laden “treats.”

It’s your body. Be strong and say, “No thank you.”

Saturday, March 11, 2006

To Excel, Get a Training Partner

Some training ideas from the "old days" are worth bringing back. One of them is having a training partner. I don’t know when the idea of having training partners died out, but you don’t see much of it in gyms today.

Of course it used to be that most gyms were independently owned and the actual owner would get you started with a routine. Then once you got acclimated, you would usually buddy-up with someone. The two of you, or sometimes three, would spot each other, count reps, and give encouragement. The only personal trainers in gyms in those days were the owners.

I realize we can't go back to 1950s, but that doesn’t mean some of the things done back then aren’t worth revisiting. And having a training partner is one of them. Or even better than having one training partner is having two. Generally, the timing and rest periods between sets is almost perfect when three people exercise in consecutive order. And for squats and bench exercises, it is ideal having a spotter at each end of the bar.

I have nothing against paying a personal trainer. Some of them are excellent, and there are people who would not workout at all without a trainer to push them. However, employing someone to work with you three days a week is very expensive. And most of the time you and a training partner can figure things out for yourselves, once you learn the fundamentals. Certainly you can arrange periodic consultations with a personal trainer if further guidance is necessary.

I don’t know the statistics, but, if I had to guess, I would say that far more beginners stick with their training when they have training partners. If you don’t train with someone now, think about trying it. Find someone with similar objectives and a compatible attitude. I bet you’ll enjoy training more than ever.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Self-Delusion and the Scale

Ever run into someone middle-aged, or a senior, who claims to be fit simply because, “I weigh the same as I did in high school”? Well, old Jack LaLanne had that kind of self-delusion figured out long ago. He has always told people to forget the scale. Instead, he says to put a tape measure around your waist. Now, is that measurement the same as it was when you were 17 or 18?

Inactive adults over age 30, on average, lose about 3 - 5% of muscle tissue every 10 years. So it’s possible at age 60 to weigh the same as you weighed in high school — and still be too fat. That’s because all that lost muscle has been replaced by flab, which typically collects around your waist. “Your waistline is your lifeline,” says LaLanne.

The solution: Get into the weight room. Strength training prevents the reduction in muscle tissue that causes your body metabolism to slow down. A slower metabolism means your body collects more fat and makes your bones more vulnerable to conditions like osteoporosis.

Pump iron, people. Pump iron.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Scientific Tests Say These Supplements Don't Work

Two popular supplements have taken hits in the news. The first was Echinacea, which many people believe stops the common cold from developing. Recent tests hailed as scientific found no evidence that taking the herb does any good at all.

Next, the news came out that when put through scientific tests, the popular combination of Glucosamine and Chondroitin did not do much for arthritis relief or other joint aches and pains.

Personally, I was never enthusiastic about Echinacea, anyway; but for several years, I’ve taken a Glucosamine/Chondroitin supplement. I started taking it because of a nagging shoulder pain, and gradually the pain went away. I’m still taking it today.

Logic tells me it is possible my shoulder may have been getting better anyway, and relief happened to coincide with my taking Glucosamine/Chondroitin. Such coincidences are not unusual. On the other hand, maybe it really worked.

There will be further studies and eventually we’ll know if Glucosamine/Chondroitin has real value or not. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to take it, until I’m convinced that my result was coincidental.

Sometimes tests are flawed and/or one test seems to contradict another. But in time the truth usually comes out. On the other side of the coin, there are thousands of scam artists out there making millions selling questionable "cures" to a gullible public. Anyone who needs convincing only has to consider all the diet pills being sold.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Wisdom is Where You Find It

“The irony of commitment is that it is deeply liberating — in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.”

—Anne Morriss
"The Way I See It"
. . . printed on a Starbucks paper coffee cup.