Monday, December 31, 2007

Can Smokers Get it Up?

During an annual physical exam, a doctor once asked if I smoked. When I said no, he said, "Good. Smoking is the single worst health habit anyone can have."

Maybe it was an exaggeration, but not much of one.

Today, I read a report on smoking and erectile dysfunction, or ED, as they call in the TV ads about Viagra and similar pills.

Whenever I see those ads I notice that the actors are usually middle-age and fit looking people. Then I wonder why so many people these days need pills to do what should come naturally.

Does smoking play a role? even though fewer people are smoking now. I don't know the answer.

What I do know is that smoking is bad for your circulation, and poor circulation to certain appendages can contribute to ED.

So here's my anti-tobacco thought for the day:

If you smoke and heart disease, stroke and certain cancers haven't been reason enough for you to quit, consider this: The habit also increases the risk of erectile dysfunction.

Read all about smoking and erectile dysfunction here.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Are Fish Oil Capsules as Good as Fish Itself?

As far as omega-3 fatty acids are concerned, you get as much benefit from fish oil capsules as you get from the fish itself. This according to a researcher at the University of South Dakota, Dr. William S. Harris.

Nevertheless, Harris said he would encourage people to eat fish rather than relying on fish oil capsules. "Fish of course brings with it proteins and minerals and other factors that are good for our health that the capsules don't bring, but we weren't able to measure any of those things," he said.

Read the full report here.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Coffee is a "Good Guy," Too

Remember not long ago folks were told to dump coffee and drink tea instead? Tea, especially green tea, provides all those wonderful antioxidants. Well, tea's antioxidants are still there. But guess what? Coffee it turns out has beneficial antioxidants, too. So pick your favorite. As usual, moderation is the key. Too much of a good thing can lead to the caffeine jitters.

Read this report on how both coffee and tea may be protective against kidney cancer
.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Big Medical Myth Busters

Does shaved hair will grow back faster, coarser and darker. That it does seems to get passed along from generation to generation. The fact is, controlled studies done as long ago as 1928 showed no difference in the growth and texture of shaved and non-shaved hair. So go ahead and shave and pluck with total abandon and be guilt free.

Still, don't believe it? That and six other big medical myths are exposed here: Read all about it!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Soft Drinks are Yuck

Just a quick note about soft drinks and sodas: They are bad for you, really BAD. And it doesn't take much to put your health at risk. Think I'm over-reacting, being an alarmist? Read what the doctors say. So moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, get that junk out of the house. It's bad for you and it's bad for the kids.

Read the full story here.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Case for Less Intense Cardio

Here's a study from Duke University Medical Center that says 30-minute walks six days a week are more likely to make you trim and fit than more intense workouts practiced a few times a week. Now this, of course, goes against what many fitness gurus are preaching these days. So what does Gray Iron think? Thirty minute walks plus shorter more intense sessions in the weight room may combine the best of both worlds.

Read the full story here.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Protein & Prostates

Gray Iron Newsletter reader, John C., says an annual physical examination revealed a steep rise in his PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) test. As you know, an elevated PSA can lead to more expensive and invasive tests. Before having those, he decided to examine his dietary habits and realized his only recent change was adding a daily protein shake. (I do not know how many total grams of protein he was ingesting daily. He is not a regular exerciser.) He eliminated the protein shakes and says his PSA gradually returned to a normal range. I had never heard of anything like this before. Have you?

The debate among bodybuilders, lifters and other athletes about the amount of protein needed while training is ongoing. It won’t be settled today. PSA tests aside, certainly there is a protein upward limit that when exceeded it becomes unhealthy. If you have any experience or knowledge of elevated PSA as related to protein consumption, please comment below. As I said, I have never heard of this before. I didn't come with anything doing a Google search.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Studies Show How Fruits and Veggies Reduce Cancer


Yes, we’ve heard it before. But more evidence is in that fruits and vegetables are preventative of many types of cancers. If you aren’t getting your daily portions of fruits and vegetables, maybe this will nudge you in the right direction.

Full story from Reuters here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Windshield Wipers


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Forget those little bitty crunches and "going for the burn." Real core exercises like old fashioned bent-legs sit-ups, wood choppers with weighted cables, and windshield wipers (no equipment needed) are the real way to a stronger, firmer gut.

If you're a beginner, enter slowly. Use the bent-knees side to side motion first. Then graduate to straight legs once you get the hang of it. Work up to a few sets of 20 and feel the muscles of your trunk get stronger and a whole lot firmer.

Do them with control, always. And breathe smoothly.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Big Biceps and Small Waist May Determine Lifespan


Once again, Jack LaLanne had it right. He said, "Your waistline is your lifeline." And it's true. But decades ago when LaLanne was coming up with snappy bumper-sticker type slogans about health, many in the medical field labeled him a nut.

Now, we know that he had it right all along. In this report from Rueters we see that United Kingdom researchers recognize the limitations of the BMI as a health indicator. Instead, they say the size of a man's biceps and waistline are better indicators of his longevity. Somewhere Lalanne, now in his 90s and still working out, must be smiling.

Read full story here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Fatherhood: Increase Your Chances of Living to 100

It's probably a little late for most male Gray Iron readers to do anything about it, but recent studies indicate that having four or more children increases the likelihood of living to 100.

Wow! When I read that headline I thought it sounded a little goofy, and if you read my blog regularly you know that I am generally suspicious of many claims that are supposedly backed up by "scientific studies." That's why I like Snopes and junkscience.com, incidentally. It is B.S. not hydrogen that is the most common element in the universe. Still, many studies are of course truly scientific, important, and valid. Either way, valid or not, this one is an interesting read.

Go here: Having Lots of Kids Helps Dads Live to 100.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Workout Benefits May Require Less Frequency Than You Think

The benefits of progressive strength training workouts continue for older men, even after they switch to a less intense workout schedule, according to the results of a new study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine.

So what is the ideal number of workouts per week for people over 50? Gray Iron thinks that nobody knows for sure, and it probably varies somewhat from one person to the next. What is certain, however, is that weight training works wonders as we grow older. And the study in the Journal of Sports Medicine indicates that the benefits continue even with less workout frequency/intensity than previously believed.

To read more about the report, go here.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Disney's Blubber Boats


The "It's A Small World" ride at Disneyland opened in 1964 when people were a lot trimmer. The famous California theme park will shut down the ride in January for ten months to make the water canals deeper and build stronger boats. They need to do this because people are fatter and causing the boats to completely stop in the middle of the ride. When the boats get stuck, a crew member has to ask people to get off the boats and lighten the load.

Disney also said they are having the same problem with "Pirates of the Caribbean," but it's not as bad as Small World.

The average sized man weighed 166 lbs in 1960. In 2002, the average man weighed 191 lbs, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Are 20% of Americans Self-Destructive?

Regardless of overwhelming evidence that smoking is the nation's number one preventable cause of death, 1 in 5 Americans still smoke. The idea that there is an irreducible number of people who will smoke, no matter what, is probably true; but it is much less than one in five people. Utah, for example, has a (smoking) prevalence rate of only 9 percent.

In another state, Oregon, the tobacco industry spends $3.50 per person annually on “marketing,” which is a convenient term for addicting people and keeping them that way.

What should be done? What is government’s role? Or should government have a role at all? For the full story on who smokes and who does not, go here.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Controversial Atkins Diet Takes a Hit

“I think the Atkins diet is potentially detrimental for cardiovascular health, if maintained for a long duration and without attempts to lose weight,” said Dr. Michael Miller, director of preventative cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center. “A stabilized Atkins diet is not the way to go."

Read the full report here
. But also let me summarize the findings in plain talk: Eventually, you’ll pay a price for following a long-term diet that is high in fat, particularly saturated fat.

The Gray Iron opinion has always been that any diet that practically eliminates any one of the macro nutrients (in the Atkins diet it would be carbohydrates), eventually leads to problems or failure. Sugar and processed flour carbs are uglier than sin, but certainly not fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Monday, November 05, 2007

What the Heck is “Metabolic Syndrome”?

Medical terms such as “metabolic syndrome” enter the common vocabulary and many times people really don’t know what they mean. The first few times I heard the term, I didn’t have a clue.

Simply put, metabolic syndrome is a combination of medical conditions that increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It is a very common and dangerous medical problem.

Metabolic syndrome means the presence of three or more of the following health problems:

• Excess weight around one’s waist (a waist measurement of more than 40 inches for men and more than 35 inches for women).

• Triglycerides blood level of 150 mg/dL or more.

• HDL cholesterol levels below 40 mg/dL for men and below 50 mg/dL for women.

• Blood pressure of 130/85 mm HG or higher.

• Pre-diabetes (a fasting blood sugar between 100 and 125) or diabetes (a fasting blood sugar level over 125 mg/dL).

Metabolic syndrome seems to run in families; but being overweight, having a poor diet, getting no regular exercise, and having bad lifestyle habits such as smoking also contribute to it.

Usually there are no symptoms, but your doctor is able to diagnose it with lab tests that are usually a part of a thorough physical examination.

Gray Iron urges people to have periodic exams at intervals their doctor recommends.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bulgarian Split Squats


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Bulgarians are real "thigh busters." Play the video and little explanation will be needed. Daughter Jennifer demonstrates and prefers a 3-count on the descent and a 1-count coming up. Try varying the tempo and reps. And if your body weight alone isn't challenging enough, hold a pair of dumbbells. A few sets of these and your thighs will scream for mercy!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

To Grunt or Not to Grunt, that is the Question

Deep breathing is essential in a good workout. But when does deep breathing become grunting? And does grunting actually help? Or is it merely a form of exhibitionism? To grunt or not grunt, and what constitutes a grunt, these are the questions discussed here. So before making that next giant exhalation in public, understand about grunting's value and protocol. Go to Grunting.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Who is No. 1 in Fatness?

"The defeat of famine is the goal of all successful societies. Unfortunately, triumph often evolves into the other extreme -- gluttony." --Living the Fitness Lifestyle


Beverley Balkau, director of research at the French National health research institute INSERM in Villejuif, led a study published in the journal Circulation that concluded obesity is becoming a global problem.

It puts the rest of the world close to par with the United States, long considered the country with the worst weight problem. An estimated two-thirds of Americans are overweight and a third of these are obese.

Read the full story here.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Smoking With Kids in The Car

I can remember long car trips with my mother and stepfather smoking, and often with all the windows rolled up. My mother deluded herself by saying smoking was harmless to her because “I don’t inhale.” And since I didn’t smoke I was only inhaling "harmless" secondhand smoke.

Effective January 1, 2008, such behavior by adults in California will result in a $100 fine. Gov. Schwarzenegger signed into a law a bill making it illegal to smoke in a vehicle if someone under age 18 is present. Similar laws are in effect in Arkansas and Louisiana and under consideration in other states.

As someone who generally objects to government intrusion into most personal behavior, I am cautious about cheering for such legislation. I can see dangers down the road when government becomes too "helpful" in saving us from ourselves.

So call me inconsistent, because at the same time I am in favor of practically any legislation that discourages smoking and protects non-smokers, especially children. The tobacco industry has a powerful lobby. I personally find little distinction between tobacco peddlers and drug dealers. One may have the law on their side, but both are in the business of destroying lives.

The law takes effect January 1st.

Read more about the new law here.

Monday, October 08, 2007

A Cell Phone As Your Personal Trainer

The prototype Wellness mobile phone from Japan’s NTT DoCoMo Inc. has a way of keeping track of a user’s health, according to company spokesman Noriaki Tobita. It can take your pulse, check your body fat, time your jogs, and tell you if you have bad breath.

Spokesman Tobita calls the device a “hassle-free way of keeping track of a busy person’s health.”

Call me an old coot — go ahead, it’s ok — but if the latest multi-multi use cell phones make lives “hassle-free,” I'm not convinced. For example, now motorists will be able to distract themselves even further while driving in traffic. They will be able to yak on the phone and check their body fat.

Those less critical of the devices than I am may want to read more about the Wellness mobile phone here.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Advances in Dietary Supplement Research

Many of us take supplements of one kind or another. Personally, I am very careful about taking them and skeptical about many of the claims made by supplement manufacturers. I do not rely on their advertising claims. I hope you don't either.

Some supplements, high quality fish oil (Omega 3) immediately comes to mind, have unquestionable value. While some others are suspect. A few have even been proved dangerous, such as some of the diet pills that we've all read about.

The Gray Iron advice is to take only those supplements that you have discussed with your physician. Remember that certain substances may interact negatively when combined with prescription or over-the-counter medications you might be taking. Ask a pharmacist for professional advice.

To read more from the National Institutes of Health, go here: Advances in Dietary Supplement Research Highlighted.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

USMC: Uncle Sam's Mountain Climbers


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The Marines love this little gem of an exercise called Mountain Climbers. I was a jarhead so I speak from experience. But my guess is that the other branches appreciate its conditioning merits, too.

If you are in fairly good shape, MCs are good ones to add to your cache, especially when they are used as part of a circuit or interval workout. Senior beginners, however, or those who are very overweight, should put MCs on hold until they’ve reached post-beginner stage.

That said, here is what to expect:

High repetition MCs will really get you huffing and puffing and fit nicely in a resistance/cardiovascular combo workout. As you watch the short video (Jennifer demonstrates), you will see how maintaining a solid push up position while chugging away engages your entire body: abs, back, chest, arms, shoulders, and of course your legs.

The following is a quick little body weight only workout that will demonstrate what can be accomplished on those days when you can’t get to the gym.

1. Mountain Climbers: Do them fast and with vigor for 20 reps, 10 each leg.
2. Flip over onto your back. Do 10 standard sit-ups.
3. Flip back over to the push up position. Do 10 standard push ups.
4. Stand and do 10 squats.

Catch your breath and repeat. Do as many rounds as your time and fitness level allow.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Do You Think You Have Good Endurance?

Is anyone out there an ultra-marathoner (not something I'd recommend, by the way), or maybe a super triathlete, or veteran English Channel swimmer? Think you're tough? Can you run or swim till you drop?

Well, this little lady named Godwit would laugh at your wimpy efforts. Don't believe me? Check it out here. It is an amazing world we live in. Have fun.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Smart Pills

It probably won't surprise readers of my blog to learn that people who take supplements are generally better nourished than those who don't take them. In fact, a substantial proportion of seniors (people 51 and older) don't get enough vitamins and minerals from diet alone, and fewer than half of them take supplements every day.

The widespread inadequacies should be considered when developing recommendations for supplement use for seniors, according to Rhonda S. Sebastian of the United States Department of Agriculture.

Gray Iron recommends taking a quality vitamin/mineral supplement, but with the approval of your physician. This is important because the USDA also notes that many people get too much of some vitamins and minerals and not enough of others. So be a smart supplement swallower. And remember, too, that no amount of supplementation can make up for a highly inadequate or gluttonous diet.

For the story of the report by the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, go here.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Another Fat A-- Nation

It should be small comfort to learn that the U.S. is not the globe's only gluttonous country. In fact, most highly developed nations have the same "Super Size Me" problems.

The Aussies have come up with an idea to trim the blubber -- and also reduce their growing cost of health care, which in the end must be paid for by everyone, the obese and svelte alike.

The Australian General Practice Network (a physicians group) suggests the following: To combat the spiralling problem of type-2 diabetes, heart disease and cancers linked to obesity, they want the government to pay overweight people a 170 dollar ($141, U.S.) subsidy to do something about their expanding butts and waistlines.

"We believe that this (money) will go a long way to helping people get access to accredited weight-loss programmes where the people will be supported," network chairman Tony Hobbs told state radio.

Does this sound crazy? Or are they really on to something down under?

Maybe I'm wrong, but I can think of several reasons why it wouldn't work and would lead to unpleasant, unintended consequences.

What do you think?

Read more about it here.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Politics and Brain Functions

Here at Gray Iron Fitness we have made it policy to keep politics out of our mission. Opinions? Sure, we've got them. But our job here is encouraging senior fitness and healthy lifestyles. Period.

Still, you do have to have some fun now and then. It's healthful. So here's a report from the British journal Nature Neuroscience that says the brain neurons of liberals and conservatives fire differently when confronted with tough choices, suggesting that some political divides may be hard-wired.

Could the study have been weighted to get the outcomes the researchers wanted? It's possible. But let's have some fun. The findings probably confirm many of your beliefs about "the other side," no matter which side you may be on.

Read all about it here.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Do You Want Fries With That?

If you eat "clean" 90 percent of the time, does it hurt to once in a while indulge in, say, a cheeseburger, fries and a milkshake?

Normally, Gray Iron would say go ahead and take a break, as long as it is just that: a break. But in no way is Gray Iron defending saturated fat. No question about it, loading up on saturated fat is not good for you.

(Note that we are talking about saturated fat, not the heart healthy fats found in fish oil, avocados, olive oil, and most nuts and seeds.

Now, according to a study by researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia, just one piece of high-fat carrot cake, for example, and a milkshake diminishes your body's ability to defend itself against heart disease.

Their study included 14 trial participants, all healthy and between the ages of 18 and 40.

The indication is clear: Eating foods high in saturated fat is harmful to your health and especially your heart.

Read what they found here.





Friday, September 07, 2007

Your Health Profile and History

The American Academy of Family Physicians suggests keeping a Health Journal to be shared with your doctor and to help keep track of things that may make you sick. The journal, according to the academy, should include the following:

• Any illness or injury you've sustained.

• Any hospitalizations or surgeries.

• Any symptoms or allergies that you've had.

• OTC medications, prescription medications, supplements and vitamins that you take, including the dosage and how often you take them.

• Any diseases, conditions or illnesses that run in your family.

Gray Iron agrees wholeheartedly with the suggestions, of course, but would add a couple of things for those of us living the fitness lifestyle.

Keep a record of the lab test results from your last physical and of course know your blood pressure readings.

Your journal doesn’t need to be fancy or time consuming. Keep it simple but update it as things occur.

Read more about the recommendations here.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Smoke, Smoke, Smoke that Cigarette . . .


Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette.
Puff, puff, puff until you smoke yourself to death.
Tell St. Peter at the Golden Gate
That you hate to make him wait,
But you just gotta have another cigarette.


—from a song Phil Harris (photo at right) used to sing.

Sometimes after an anti-smoking rant, I ask myself: Does any smoker actually decide to stop because of something they've read here? After all, anyone with at least a toe-hold in reality already knows that smoking is self-destructive?

Yet if you are still a smoker, at some point some piece of information, somewhere, may turn out to be the tipping point. That you will have finally had enough. Could this be it? Read on.

Health Day
reports that current smokers without the gene for Alzheimer’s were 70 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than nonsmokers or former smokers without the gene.

Before you light up the next one, read more about the researchers' findings here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The One-Arm Dumbbell Press


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Daughter Jennifer lives near a small village in the foothills of the Austrian Alps, not very far from where a well-known California governor and former Mr. Universe grew up. There must be something in the water.

The one-arm dumbbell press of course develops shoulder and arm strength. Maybe even more than pressing a barbell or two dumbbells at once, one-arm pressing requires serious tightening all of the muscles of your lower back and abdominals (currently known as the "core"). And that is a good thing.

I always recommend exhaling as you press and inhale as the weight returns. If you are a beginner, develop a smooth style and tempo similar to Jennifer's before moving up to heavier weights. Give it a try. I think you'll realize right away its value as a compound exercise movement.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Why Not Roll The Dice?


A realistic fear many have about aging and dying has to do with making their final exit in a nursing home. The best nursing homes are humane; but even then they are nothing more than warehouses for mere existence. So it is normal to hope and pray for a health span that is equal to your lifespan, regardless of its length. And though hope and prayer may have value, they are not enough.

Ignoring lifestyle factors that will either (a) help or (b) hurt one’s chances of remaining healthy and active until the end of life is childish. One well-worn joke told by many a boozy bar patron (usually a guy with a cigarette in one hand and a double whiskey in the other) is about how he plans to die at 100, after being shot by a jealous husband for getting caught in bed with the man’s wife.

Sure.

More likely, his lifestyle choices will lead him to either an early grave or spending his later years barely aware of his own existence. Someone, I’m certain, will remind me about a friend or relative who smoked two packs a day, drank like a fish all his life, and remained spry well into his 90s. While the author/runner Jim Fix took good care of himself and checked out early in life. The stories many be true. But it is the unmistakable mark of an immature thinker to base lifestyle choices on anomalies.

Of course, there are never absolute guarantees of good health to the end of life, but it is certainly possible to put the odds way in our favor. The question is: Which lifestyle are you betting on with your life? Even some who have lived long enough to be called seniors still lack the mental maturity to play the odds. Please don’t be one of them.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Fit or Fat: The Choice is Ours


Patty was asking questions at Costco’s customer service counter as I stood waiting nearby, and with a clear view of the crowded warehouse store.

I thought how fortunate we are to live in a nation with such an abundance of products, goods that our free market economy provides. I looked at the huge shopping carts filled with a variety that most of the rest of the world envies. I recalled photographs taken in the old Soviet Union, with its citizens standing in long lines to enter dismal stores with few choices and limited quantities.

My second thought, however, was not as positive. I watched shoppers lining up at checkout counters and once again realized how we have, on average, become a fat and flabby nation. Month after month, reports in the media have been telling us about poor health and illnesses that will be the result of it. We have been warned, too, about the growing number of fat children who will early in life contract many of the diseases associated with old age.

Media reports are one thing. A more startling impression is actually looking at most large groups of people today. Thirty years ago, extremely overweight people stood out in a crowd. Nowadays, they are often the norm.

The problems created by being overweight and obese range from societal (rising health care costs, for example) to the personal. It is on the personal level that I focus. How, I ask, can anyone experience all that life has to offer if you are obese? I am not a psychologist, and in many instances I realize there are psychological factors involved. Yet after all the talking is out of the way, it always comes down to personal choice.

The choice is ours.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Health Club Naughty Secrets


In earlier times, the gym business was different. The owner was also the business manager, bookkeeper, salesman, custodian -- and your personal trainer -- all wrapped into one. If that sounds like too much for any one person to handle, remember that most gyms were independently owned and most had a lot fewer members. There were no Pilates, yoga, step, kickboxing, or spinning classes, either. You lifted iron. There weren't other options.

How can anyone argue against more exercise options? Yet the little secret today is that huge numbers of not truly motivated people join health clubs and soon dropout. The thing is they also usually sign up to have dues automatically withdrawn from their bank account. Then, after dropping out, they tell themselves they will get back in the gym again, so they continue paying dues.

Health club owners don't talk about it, but if everyone who paid dues worked out regularly, there wouldn't enough equipment or hours in the day to accommodate them. Paying for workouts not taken may sound crazy, but I guarantee you that many people do it. Gym owners have a special place in their hearts (and pocketbooks) for those who pay but don't use the facilities.

I do not dislike gyms or gym owners. I have belonged to many gyms and belong to one now. I have known gym owners who became personal friends. But my advice to anyone paying dues to a health club and not using it this: stop! Yes, everyone should exercise. But a gym or health club is not necessarily for everyone. If you are a member of a gym and don't use it regularly, deep down you probably dislike going there. So stop wasting your money. Find a form of exercise that you like and will actually practice several days per week.

Health club owners may dislike my saying this: But if you aren't using the facility, cancel that membership today.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Don't Skimp on Fish Oil



I've been half-expecting someone reputable to tell us that fish oil really isn’t all that its cracked up to be, that all its great press may be exaggerated. Instead, it’s just the opposite. Each new report seems to reveal yet another health benefit attributed to taking fish oil. Improved cardiovascular function was only the beginning of the good news.

Now here’s a study that suggests fish oil may even be beneficial to people with mental illness. So the good news about Omega-3 just keeps piling up. Are you taking fish oil yet? If not, why not? Ask your physician if there’s any reason why you shouldn’t take a quality fish oil supplement.

Personally, I take salmon oil capsules every day. I like the Vital Choice brand, which is endorsed by several well known physicians. It’s easy and efficient to order by clicking the Vital Choice label on my web site. Vital Choice products come from wild Alaskan salmon from some of purest water on earth. You want to be certain that you buy a pure, high quality brand.

To read more about how fish oil may also help people with mental illness, go here
.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Jack LaLanne Was Right

There's a page in my book, Living The Fitness Lifestyle, titled "Self Delusion and the Scale." I quote Jack LaLanne (early photo at left) who said long ago, "Your waistline is your lifeline." LaLanne was and still is way, way ahead of his time. He's now in his 90s and still working out.

Reuters reports the latest validation of LaLanne's comment in an article, (the) "Tape measure, not scale, key to knowing heart risk."

Too much emphasis is placed on body weight alone, when stripping down, looking in the mirror, and putting a tape measure around your waist are better indicators of health and fitness. The report is definitely worth reading.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Coffin Nails

Is anyone still smoking? I'm not trying to be a wise-guy. Of course the answer is yes, plenty of people still smoke. Yet considering all that we know, it is hard to understand how anyone with even a modicum of common sense does it. But common sense and reason have never had anything to do with smoking.

The question then becomes: What factor or factors get smokers to quit once they are hooked? The following is a story from HealthDay that says at least one group of experts claims that quitting on a whim or impulse has more success than going about it with a plan. Read about it here.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Morjorie Newlin is "Unreal"


At first I thought Morjorie was literally unreal. But she is very real. And, get this: She is an 86 year old great-grandmother -- and a competitive bodybuilder!

Amazing. I had to look twice and still thought her story might be one of those bogus urban legends traveling around the internet. So I ran it through Snopes and checked out the story as best I could. Morjorie Newlin is a retired nurse who began bodybuilding at age 72.

But enough from me. You've got to see her and read the story. Now stand by to be as amazed as I was. Go here.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Is Super-Slow Weight Training for You?

Gray Iron Newsletter subscriber Leo, from Gloucester England, writes to ask two questions:

1. Do you have any observations to make on the question of rep speed or tempo? Your videos suggest that you use a natural cadence. I am experimenting with super slow which is intense in the extreme (and agonising}.

2. What do you think we actually achieve physically by continuing weight training at seventy. Is it purely maintenance? I acknowledge the psychological benefits

My answers:

Leo, I have tried super-slow repetitions and concluded that they are not for me. It may have to with my being too impatient; nevertheless, I found that after a week or so I began dreading the workouts. But that’s me. I know that some people thrive on super-slow. I do like to change routines in various ways every month to keep things interesting. Still, in general, I find I am most comfortable with a moderate rep speed and the numbers varying between 6 to 12 reps. Once in a while I’ll drop to 4 rep sets or go up to 15. But mostly I stay in the 6 to 12 reps range.

As to what progress can be expected at age 70, I think that once we have a couple of years of training behind us, yes, it is mostly maintenance (after we pass 55 or 60). I personally cannot lift as much or train as long as I could 10 years ago. I wish I could. Still, I’m grateful for a much superior strength and fitness level when compared to my contemporaries that have not been regular trainees. It can be unpleasant to think about further strength loss as time passes. On the other hand, the odds are we’ll stay well ahead of our age group in strength, fitness and health by just keeping at it.

That's a pretty good deal, I think.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A Funny Thing Happened While Sipping Green Tea

For quite a while now, many experts have urged us to stop drinking coffee and switch to green tea. Green tea has all those wonderful antioxidants. Well, there's still nothing wrong with green tea. It's good for us. But guess what? It seems that the sometimes demonized coffee turns out to have positive properties, too. One example of those good things coffee does is explained in the following article from Reuters. Starbucks has to love it! Go here.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Accelerate Your Fat-Burning With Rest

Here is an interesting study. Japanese and Danish researchers found that in a group of seven exercisers, fat-burning was accelerated when a 60 minute workout was split in half with a 20 minute rest period between halves.

Well, they may be right, and their explanation seems solid. However, would you say that a study that involved only seven people should be considered conclusive? I think more evidence should be gathered first. Still, it is interesting data for those of us who take our fitness seriously.

For the full story on their study go here.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Of Mice and Men

This is not commentary on the writing of John Steinbeck but, rather, a notation that scientists recently proved the obvious: If you want to stay young for as long as possible, eating less and exercising more is the key.

In short, here's what they did to prove it. With genetic engineering they created mutant mice that mimicked the effects of eating less and exercising. Their report is in the journal Science and concludes that the reasons for the mice staying young has to with insulin, the hormone that regulates glucose.

For the full story on their findings, go here. .

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Should Heart Patients Pump Iron?

There was a time not that long ago when people with heart disease were told to rest, rest, rest. Then along came evidence that aerobic exercise was usually beneficial -- but stay away from weight training.

Now, in a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association we learn that some resistance training can be good for heart patients.

"Just like we once learned that people with heart disease benefited from aerobic exercise, we are now learning that guided, moderate weight training also has significant benefits," according to Mark Williams, professor of medicine at Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska.

Gray Iron wants to underscore two things: 1) Weight training is seen as a complement to aerobic exercise, not a replacement, according to Williams; and 2) any exercise program should be approved by a heart patient's physician.

Go here to learn more.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Exercise: Even a Little Bit Helps

As we age, we are told that getting regular exercise will increase longevity and quality of life. It's a fact that few people in the know bother to debate anymore. But how much exercise is actually necessary to derive some benefit?

Well, not as much as you may think. A recent Journal of the American Medical Association report and suggestions from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) explain that relatively short periods of movement done regularly have great benefit. This is good news for exercise-phobics. The amount of exercise necessary is so small that even confirmed couch potatoes may buy into it.

Ideally, I would suggest making a greater than minimal effort and being sure to include both resistance training and cardiovascular exercise. Still, the fact remains that almost any movement is a big plus, especially in a society such as ours that is more and more sedentary.

For the full report, go here.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Dangerous "Deep Belly" Fat

In a report from Health Day, scientists explain that a protein in blood points to rising amounts of a particularly lethal form of body fat around your organs. This reminds me of one of Jack LaLanne's favorites ("LaLanne-isms"?). He likes to say, "Your waistline is your lifeline." And more and more, we realize how right he has been. It's the blubber around one's waist and beneath that's deadly. What a tape measure tells you (even more so than the scale) may not make you happy, but it could save your life if it prods you into taking action.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

"Fat tax" in England could save 3,200 lives each year

According to a study at Great Britain's Oxford University, a "fat tax" on certain unhealthy foods could save 3,200 lives per year. Interesting. But how far should the government go into people's private lives is a reasonable question asked by many Brits. In fact, England already levies a purchase tax on a small number of products such as potato crisps, ice cream, confectionery and chocolate biscuits, but most food is exempt.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has previously rejected the idea as an example of the "nanny state" that might push people away from healthy food. Read Reuters report here.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

It's the calories, stupid!

Craig Ballantyne writes about fitness and training for Men’s Health magazine. Though MH for the most part aims at younger readers than I do, I find that a lot of their advice is valid across the board, and for both men and women.

Recently, Ballantyne wrote about dietary habits and weight loss. He explained something that is important for any overweight person to understand. He said that to take off weight your workouts can be imperfect, but your dietary practices must be sound. Conversely, your workouts can be executed to perfection, but if you eat too much you will fail.

Does this mean that a well thought out exercise program is unimportant? Of course not. What it means is that if you are training and the fat is not coming off, you are simply eating too much. And all the exercise in the world will not trim you down until you regularly take in fewer calories than you need to sustain your present weight.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

"I don't have time to exercise."

There's a young, disabled man at our gym. He is barely able to walk, even with crutches, and his forward motion is painfully slow. Still, he manages to use the elliptical trainers, always works up a good sweat, and somehow gets around the room to use the weight machines.

He lives just a couple of blocks from the gym and it may take him half-an-hour to go the short distance on crutches. If it is raining, or very hot, sometimes we drive him home. He is always grateful for a ride. The circumstances surrounding his disability never come up, but sometimes he talks about having more surgery.

Last week, Patty and I were turning into the gym parking lot as he was crossing the street on his way home. As we passed him we both had the same thought: How many times have we heard someone say, "I know I should get in shape, but I just don't have the time right now"? And here is this young man who really struggles just to walk, but, by golly, he gets there.

You can bet he would gladly exchange the hindrances he endures daily with someone who is just "too busy" or "too tired" to make the effort.

If you are honest with yourself, you know that there are really no excuses for a lack of effort or commitment. Not legitimate ones, anyway.

Like the Nike slogan says, "Just do it!"

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Walking Lunges


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There are many varieties of lunges (all of them good), but I like walking lunges best. They are great for building muscular quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Walking lunges look simple to do; nevertheless, there are some things to know to get full benefits.

In the beginning, get comfortable doing them by traveling short distances with bodyweight only. Then, gradually, increase the difficulty by traveling farther and/or carrying a weight. If you carry a weight, you can hold two dumbbells, arms down and vertical, or carry a barbell across your back and shoulders; or in front above your chest, with elbows high, as you would doing a front squat.

Form (Patty, aka Mrs. Gray Iron, demonstrates):

1) Take a fairly big step forward so that your ankle and knee are in a vertical plane, and the knee of your trailing leg almost touches the ground. Keep your chest high and look ahead. In other words, maintain an erect posture. Don’t bend over;

2) Drive off the heel of your forward foot as you take the next step;

3) Keep moving forward. Don’t stop after each step.

Friday, June 29, 2007

It's Never Too Late

Suppose that you have punished your body for years by eating too much and all of the wrong things. Is it too late at middle age or more to undo the harm you may have done to yourself? Many mature adults think it is and continue harming themselves, figuring, why bother to change habits now? The damage has already been done.

But that's not true, according to a study at Medical University of South Carolina. Older people who adopted a healthy lifestyle basically caught up within four years, and their mortality rate and rate of heart attacks matched the people who had been practicing healthier habits all along.

Read more here.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

U.S. Issues New Standards for Dietary Supplements

In a recent report from Reuters, we learn that the makers of vitamins, herbs and other dietary supplements must meet new government standards to show the products are free of contamination and contain exactly what the label says.

The Reuters story is worth reading. Do you have any thoughts on the subject? Click on "comments" below.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Summertime Smarts: Sunscreens

It's summertime in the Northern Hemisphere. I'm not anti-sun, and from what I can gather, a certain amount of sunshine is very healthy. But how much is enough? And when does it become unhealthy? Generally, I think a little goes a long way. Here are a few guidelines:

1) Fair skinned types can tolerate less sunlight than darker skinned people, but you can get too much no matter what your complexion is;

2) Getting sunburned is bad for anyone at any age;

3) Basking for long periods with unprotected skin to get a tan is very bad;

4) Stay away from tanning salons;

5) If you're going to be in the sun during the peak hours between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., use a serious sunscreen.

In selecting a sunscreen, take note of the following:

The SPF number is an indication of protection against UVB rays only. Sunscreen products labeled "broad-spectrum" protect against UVA and UVB radiation; however, there is no standard system for measuring UVA protection. So look at the ingredients. Products with an SPF of 15 or higher that contain avobenzone (Parsol 1789), zinc oxide, or titanium dioxide are likely to be effective against the entire spectrum of UVA rays. Also, check the expiration date. Most sunscreens expire within two to three years.

Friday, June 08, 2007

A Training Tip from Doctors

At first glance, this may seem almost too basic to mention. Yet after years of training and watching others train, I can say without question, the following is worth remembering: Go here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Dumbbell Curl & Arnold Press


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Here is a neat upper-body combination movement that works biceps, triceps, and shoulders.

The dumbbell press portion was a favorite of Arnold (you know the one). He liked to start the press with his palms facing him, and as the weights are pressed overhead they rotate to face forward. Retrace the movement in the reverse coming down. Try it. It has a nice flow.

Now, what I've added is to first simply curl the weights to shoulder level, and then begin Arnold's overhead press. Curl, press, return. Curl, press, return. The entire compound movement can be done either sitting or standing. I like to stand because it forces me to keep my abs tight, as they should be when doing overhead presses of any kind.

As always, don't hold your breath. Get a nice inhale-exhale rhythm going.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Get This Guys!

An expanding waistline in older men is associated with worsening lower urinary tract symptoms and poorer sexual function (bet that gets your attention), according to research reported at the American Urological Association meeting in Anaheim. Check it out here.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Deadlift


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[Daughter Jennifer, who lives and trains in
Austria, demonstrates the Exercise of the Month, the Deadlift.]

Can there be a more basic power lift than the deadlift? You bend, grasp a weight and stand up with it, a simple, direct power move requiring overall body strength. Yes, there are some things to know about proper form, but let’s not get overly analytical, either.

Before we begin, note that in the video Jennifer is working with well over 200 pounds (she has been training all her life). If you are a beginner, and especially if you are woman beginner, or if you are unfamiliar with the lift — start with a much more moderate weight. Then train for awhile to get used to the lift before putting yourself to any sort of power lifting test.

Here’s how to do it

Stand behind the barbell at your shins; feet at shoulder about width apart, or slightly wider; hands just outside your legs. Now, looking straight ahead, bend equally at the waist and knees, a bit like sitting down and back into a chair; grasp the bar with an alternate over/under grip.

Keep your back flat (not hunched over), abs tight. Take a breath and then exhale as you straighten your knees and push your hips forward to stand, always keeping the bar close to your shins. Hold for a second in the full standing position; then, with control, bend at the knees and waist to return to the beginning of the lift. Breathe throughout the movement — but stay tight.

To start, use a weight that allows you to complete 8 to 10 reps. Eventually, you may want to test yourself, to see how much you can lift for one rep. Let that come later. For now, practice your form so that it becomes second nature. In the process, enjoy the strength increases in your back, hips, legs, and grip.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Top of The Class

What is the one food or nutritional supplement that seems to have zero detractors?

Answer: Cold water fatty fish or fish oil supplements.

If you aren't getting your omega-3s, you ought to start now. Looking for another reason why? Go here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A Dangerous Trend

People who are 100 pounds or more overweight are the fastest-growing group of overweight people in the United States, researchers reported this week. The proportion of the severely obese was 50 percent higher in 2005 than it had been in 2000 -- a startling rate of growth.

"The proportion of people at the high end of the weight scale continues to increase at a brisk rate despite increased public attention on the risks of obesity and the increased use of drastic weight loss strategies such as bariatric surgery," said Roland Sturm, an economist at Rand Corporation, a nonprofit research institute.

For the full story go here.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Hanging Knee Raise & Hanging Leg Raise


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[The video was shot outdoors. The background noise is the sound of wind blowing.]

Muscles worked: Primarily abdominals and hip flexors; also elongates and decompresses the spine; strengthens your grip.

Grip a horizontal bar that is high enough so that your feet do not touch the floor.

Knee Raise: With control, bring your knees up toward your chest. Then lower them. Do not let your body swing to gain momentum. Be smooth. Inhale and exhale with control. Do not hold your breath. Work towards 10 to 20 reps.

Leg Raise
(more difficult): With almost straight legs, bring your feet up to the bar, and with control lower them. Do not allow your body to swing for momentum. Work up to 10 to 15 reps.

Note: Most gyms have dual arm harnesses hanging from the chinning bar. If your grip is not strong enough to hold your bodyweight for an entire set, slip your arms through the harnesses and do the exercises without having to use a hand grip.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Home Gyms

Newsletter subscriber David Helms writes that 20 years ago he cancelled his gym membership for a simpler approach. The time it took him to make a round trip to the gym and wait for machines was roughly 40 minutes. So he devised a home-based program that could give him the same workout in that amount of time.

“I wanted to purchase equipment that was affordable, easy to use and took up little in terms of storage space,” he says. He settled on dumbbells and an exercise bench that he says would, in today’s dollars, cost about $250.

“I did some research,” he says, “and discovered that the dumbbell is very efficient in terms of providing a complete range of motion for any traditional weight training exercise. In addition, dumbbells give the user the ability to focus the intensity resulting in the greatest opportunity to build muscle while using the lowest possible weight.”

Helms is not alone in his conclusions about dumbbells. Bill Phillips [Body-for-Life] said that trainees looking for a minimalist approach should consider dumbbells and an exercise bench. He is also not alone in recognizing the convenience of a home gym. The great Bill Pearl started training as kid in a home gym, and as an adult he owned commercial gyms. In his book, Getting Stronger, he wrote that he would probably end his career where it began, training in a home gym. And that's where he trains now.

I certainly have nothing against commercial gyms and health clubs. That’s where I workout. The commute time from my home is 20 minutes each way. There are days when I would like to spend that 40 minutes doing something other than driving. For now, I’ll stick with the gym. Yet I know there’s a time when I’ll stop and train at home.

The main thing is, you really have to know yourself. As I wrote in my beginner’s book, training at home is like working at home. There are distractions and “to do” lists that may sabotage your workouts. But once you have gone to a gym, you are likely to follow through and workout. There are many places to exercise and many ways to exercise. Be sure you select a place that is convenient and a time when there are few interruptions.

By the way, here is the home gym equipment David Helms uses:

1) Simple adjustable bench designed for use with dumbbells
(my first bench was recently replaced)

2) 16 York 10 lb. plates

3) 4 York 5 lb. plates

4) 4 York 2.5 lb. plates

5) 2 “Star lock” bars




Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Why Exercise Boosts Brainpower

Dr. Scott Small, a neurologist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, led a study that demonstrated that exercise boosts brainpower by building new brain cells in a brain region linked with memory and memory loss, U.S. researchers reported on Monday. Story here.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Flexible Legs of Steel


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Make this martial arts exercise a regular part of your leg workouts and watch your strength and flexibility skyrocket. Twelve to 20 reps will do the trick! Count one rep each time you shift to the opposite side. Do multiple sets or mix-in a single set with other leg work.

Beginners may have trouble at first with strength and balance; that’s to be expected. Two or 3 times per week, practice developing the movement as demonstrated in the video and soon you’ll be in the full down position and shifting side-to-side.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Sexual Frequency Health Benefits

Just read a short article by Al Sears, M.D., author of the book, The Doctor’s Heart Cure.

He writes that a very credible study associating overall health and sexual frequency comes from Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where the mortality of about 1,000 middle-aged men was tracked over the course of a decade.

After 10 years, the British Medical Journal revealed that men who reported the highest frequency of orgasm enjoyed a death rate 50 percent lower than the others.

Also in a 2001 follow-up to the Queens University study, they found the following:

1. Reduced risk of heart disease: They found that by having sex three or more times per week, men lowered their risk of heart attack or stroke by 50 percent.

2. Weight loss: A vigorous session of sex is about the same as running 15 minutes or playing a game of tennis. During sex, your pulse rate rises from about 70 beats per minute to 150, about what you’d get from a vigorous workout at the gym.

3. Pain relief: Just before orgasm, the level of the hormone oxytocin surges to five times its normal level. This, in turn, releases endorphins, which alleviate the pain of everything from migraine headaches to arthritis. In women, sex stimulates the production of estrogen, which can reduce the pain of PMS.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Most U.S. Women Face Heart, Stroke Risk

Nearly all American women are in danger of heart disease or stroke and should be more aggressive about lowering their risk — including asking their doctors about daily aspirin use, according to the American Heart Association's new guidelines. For the full report, go here.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Age Brings More Fat, Less Muscle

Up until age 80, older adults gain fat but lose muscle as they age and, because of the obesity epidemic in the United States, many are already too fat when they enter their older years. Click here for the full report from Wake Forest University School of Medicine .

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Pushup/Rowing Combo

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Most sports or daily activities involve the movement and coordination of your whole body, rather than, for example, your biceps alone. I think you’ll see the value of the Pushup/Rowing Combo and how your body works as a unit.

To begin, you must be in a position similar to the Plank, where your body has to be firm and tight from head to toe. You simply cannot do the P/R Combo if you let your abs and spine relax and sag.

The first part of the exercise is the standard pushup, requiring pecs, frontal deltoids and triceps to work in unison. Then, you balance on one arm, while keeping tension on your chest and shoulder muscles, as you pull one dumbbell up to one side; and then change arms and do the same on the opposite side. The rowing motion works your lats, rhomboids and biceps. It's a wonderful compound movement.

Now, before trying it, here are a few things to remember:

1. You should use hexagon dumbbells or kettlebells. Standard circular plate dumbbells will roll and are therefore dangerous.

2. Spread your feet to shoulder width or more for balance.

3. Begin with lighter weights. Get the feel of the movement before graduating to heavier weights.

4. Although you must stay tight from head to toe throughout the set — do not hold your breath. Breathe!

5. Count 1 rep after you have completed 1 pushup and 1 row on each side. Eight to 12 reps make up a good set. Of course, the heavier the dumbbells, the lower the reps.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bulking Up to Make the Team (part 2)

During the regular National Football League season, I follow the home team (for me, that’s the 49ers). And like millions of others, next week I will watch the Super Bowl.

If I sound like I might be a rabid football fan, I’m really not. Years ago, I’d get excited about games, but as I’ve grown older (and I hope wiser), placing too much importance on their outcome seems a little silly. For me, one game on a weekend is entertainment. More than that and I start to feel like an inanimate blob on a couch.

Recently on Bryant Gumbel's TV sports program, they covered the pitiful physical state of several former NFL players, men who 10 or 20 years ago were big name performers. The game left them terribly disabled. I got a sick feeling just watching these formerly great athletes struggle to move out of a chair and hobble across a room. They were not isolated cases. It is all too common, according to the report.

A disturbing trend now is to grow bigger and bigger high school linemen (recent report). These are 300 pound teenagers, purposely bulked-up in the hope of making it into a major college football program and maybe the NFL. Of course the reality is that most of them will not make it. But because of carrying so much weight they will experience the early onset of diseases usually associated with old age.

One huge teen lineman in an interview was asked if he ever thought about the consequences of carrying so much weight. “I’ll just have to deal with it if something bad happens,” he answered with na├»ve bravado. More likely, what he really believes is that there is little chance that he will suffer early cardiovascular disease, arthritis, or diabetes. Those things happen to the “other guy.” That is the nature of youth and to be expected. But you sure have to wonder about the blinders that their parents wear.

(Scroll down for part 1 of "Bulking Up to Make the Team.)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Goal Setting: The Time is Now

In the January 1st Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter, I wrote about “Successful Beginnings” and how the New Year is the traditional time for setting goals. I also pointed out that we are only kidding ourselves if we think our resolutions and goals can be achieved if they are not clearly defined.

I think back to a line in the movie, The Untouchables. Kevin Costner plays Elliot Ness, the idealistic but naive cop who dedicates himself to bringing down crime boss Al Capone. Getting Capone is a huge order in itself. But to compound its difficulty, the police department is rife with corruption, and Costner needs tough, capable cops that he can trust.

He discovers a rugged veteran beat cop played by Sean Connery. He tells Connery that he is determined to get Capone and needs help. Connery, an honest but cynical pro, asks the big question: “You said you wanted to get Capone. Do you really wanna get him? You see what I'm saying is, what are you prepared to do?

Fortunately, you and I do not have to go up against Al Capone. But when it comes to truly living a fitness lifestyle, we have to ask ourselves the same big question: What are we prepared to do?

Michael Masterson, writing in the wonderful e-zine, Early to Rise, suggests that the first 2 weeks of the New Year should be the time frame for serious planning and goal setting. That seems sensible to me. And now, the 2 weeks are up. It is almost mid-January and time to solidify our plans and commit ourselves to going about reaching our goals.

The next step

We should now write down realistic dates we intend to reach both our short- and long-term goals. Then, whatever our goals might be, we must find the best information and/or advisors that are available to help us coordinate and direct our energy.

If your goal is to obtain greater strength, better fitness, or to lose weight, look for guidance in qualified trainers; but also begin to read about and learn all that you can about practical fitness training. Beginners need reliable expert assistance. But from the start, they should also be educating themselves so they can eventually direct their own fitness lifestyle.

At the start, beginners may not think so, but that is truly the fun part.