Tuesday, December 29, 2009

When Anna Meets Jane, part 1: The Underlying Problems & Beliefs Most Women Suffer From

Meet Anna Freud; my professor liked her.

This is a pretty dense post, bear with me.

In my class, we covered anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN), but due to both having low prevalence, and I don't think any of my readers suffer from either disorder (I hope not), our focus will shift to another set of eating disorders. They're known as eating disorders not otherwise specified, abbreviated EDNOS, or also known as partial syndrome eating disorders.

They are less recognized because they don't meet full criteria for AN or BN. The problem?

50-70% of eating disorders are EDNOS. What's with this?

Well, did you know that because body-image dissatisfaction, satisfaction/dissatisfaction one is with one's body & physical appearance, is so common among girls and women that it's considered the norm? This means a significant portion of the population shows being unhappy with their physical appearance as typical.

This is awful, and unfortunately, there's more.

A type of corumination - the focus & discussion of negative feelings with peers - termed "fat talk" refers to weight-related negative body talk that occurs in peer groups, which in turn perpetuates the thin ideal. Not only are the majority of women dissatisfied, but their feelings are further reinforced by this "fat talk."

Simply saying things such as

  • "Do I look fat in this?"
  • "You look great, have you lost weight?"
  • Commenting on what one is eating.
  • Criticizing others based on weight.
"I feel fat," how often have you heard the phrase? How often has the person looked perfectly fine? I'm sure plenty of times.

And to make matters worse, these worries about appearance can be found in young children. A few facts we were given in class...

  • Over half of average-weight adolescent girls have at one point in their lives tried dieting.
  • In one study, almost one-third of girls (ages 10-14) were currently on a diet.
  • The majority of girls who diet begin dieting before the age of 15.
  • Concerns about being "fat" and high levels of body-image dissatisfaction are found in children as young as 7 or 8.
  • Half of girls between 7-13 years old, and two-thirds of girls between 14-17 report often feeling "fat" or wanting to lose weight.
That's ridiculous.

Let's look at a few reasons that high body-image dissatisfaction is present.

1) Pubertal development:
  • Girls experience an average weight gain of 20 lbs. during puberty. The body changes significantly during this time period.
  • Interest in opposite sex leads to more concerns about appearance.
  • Importance of peer relationships increase, fat talk occurs with peers.
2) Adulthood:
  • Stress increases.
  • Metabolism slows down later in life, and no longer able to simply eat whatever you want.
  • Responsible for what you eat as you get older. Easiest options aren't always the healthiest.
  • Friends eat junk, easier for you to "go with the flow" instead of choosing better alternatives
Looks bad, right? That's because it is.

Another change that occurs is in the size of muscle fibers. Men develop larger type II/fast twitch muscle fibers than women, who actually develop larger type 1/slow twitch muscle fibers. The former-mentioned are important to train in weight lifting. They allow for sprinting, lifting heavy, and doing virtually anything that requires strength. The other fibers, they're better suited for activities like long distance running.

So far we know that,

1) the majority of females are not happy with their body.
2) "fat talk" compounds the problem within a social circle
3) concerns begin young
4) changes occur with aging (physical & intra-/interpersonal ones)

Now, what does a person do when they want to improve their appearance? Either diet, exercise, or a combination of the two.

Diet will be covered in part 3, but let's look a little at exercise.

What do most women use as their form of exercise for fat loss? Usually, long distance running.
What did I say about muscle fibers? Type I/slow twitch muscle fibers are larger and better for long distance running.
How often has it led to that dream body? Most likely, not enough.

It's important to make those type II/fast twitch muscle fibers grow. But still, women don't want to take up weight training. It's the fear of bulk and having muscles that scare women. This aversion is a limiting factor for potential success.

As you can see, Rachel Cosgrove's hardly "bulky"
despite holding 225 lbs. in that picture.
(click the image for the original article)

Where's this perception of bulk come from? Chances are because muscle is usually added before fat is shed - creating more total mass - and the fact that muscles become bigger during a workout session.

It isn't that simple to become hulkish, as in bodybuilder-like (despite women following bodybuilder routines, more on that in part 3).

I'll end this first installment on a simple note.

In one word, what is the function and purpose of the muscular system?


And movement encompasses an array of motions outside just running.

Also keep in mind, this doesn't include every single female individual. There are women who train hard, eat wholesome foods, and aren't part of the majority that are stuck in a rut.

Hope you all enjoyed part 1. Stay tuned for part 2 next week, where I'll go over how men and the media play a role in this big picture.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

An introduction to women in relation to fitness, society, and why the perfect body is so hard to achieve

Think of the title almost as an abstract to a paper. The purpose of this post is to lay out the structure of the upcoming 4-part series "When Anna Meets Jane" I mentioned last post.

My child psychopathology class spent 2 lectures on eating disorders, which affects our society more than we know.

My goal is to discuss and go over what I learned, as well as connecting it to women and the approach they take towards diet & exercise. Additionally, I'll take a look at the role of others - men & the media - in regards to how they reinforce negative behaviors/habits for women, that in the end, only do more harm than good and create unrealistic ideals & goals.

I'll do one post every Tuesday, with it following this format:
1) 12/29/09 - Part 1: The Underlying Problems & Beliefs Most Women Suffer From
2) 01/05/10 - Part 2: The Contribution Men & the Media Make to Create Weak Women
3) 01/12/10 - Part 3: The Results from a Bad Foundation
4) 01/19/10 - Part 4: A Start to the Right Path
The titles aren't set in stone, but that should give you an idea of each post.

For any guys that read my blog, don't worry, I haven't forgotten about you. I'll still be doing an additional post near the end of the week.

The first post as you can see will be this Tuesday, and I hope you all stop by to read it!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cultivating the right stuff

1) Pick a goal.
2) Plan out the steps.
3) Follow through on it until goal is achieved.

Doesn't get more straightforward than that, right?

But of course, you and I both know it's never that simple. (Obviously not or we'd all be living rich luxurious lives)

It's only as good as it is if you stick to it.

And that's not quite the problem. Rather, it's about the other variables you come across that make you deviate from your plan.

The plan to stick to the plan?

Build good habits. Do what you know is right.

Sometimes, you might be in a crowd and everyone else is doing so and so and you may feel awkward, but that's okay.

It's your plan for a reason.

You want to reach that goal, not them.

Keep at it long enough, and eventually, you'll affect others.

It's all about the right stuff.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cool, but you're missing the point

Beautiful, but that's not the point.

No posts last week since it was Thanksgiving. I figured the last thing people wanted to do was sit on a computer and read here.

Speaking of last week, I had a paper due on Monday. I chose my topic as "Tibetan Buddhism in Central Asia."

As I scoured three textbooks, I found some interesting information.

One was that of mandalas.

To make a long book short - since I didn't read it myself - the author was explaining how mandalas are viewed as pieces of art. Contrary to that belief, he says they're not meant to be viewed as art.

The mandalas have religious and spiritual significance.

Similarly, the same can be said about exercise. Chiseled muscles and no "cottage cheese" (flab) is what many of us exercise to attain.

While that's all fine and dandy, exercise wasn't always about that.

It was about getting stronger, faster, increasing athleticism, improving health, and to simply put it, improving all physical domains of your self.

So, don't look as exercise as a means to change your body. Yes, that's what a lot of us are after, but, we're losing sight of exercise's true purpose.


Are you making any?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Kids, obesity, and being a good role model

Eager to imitate.

Children are always looking up to older people. Often, they copy what they see trying to be like that person.

Easy-bake ovens and toy tools aren't played with because kids want to be chefs and construction workers. They want to be like mom, dad, sibling, cool person they saw, so on and so forth.

Where am I going with this?

Role models, and no, I'm not talking about the movie.

Modeling positive behavior is a must. How are we suppose to expect kids to be in decent shape if the adult they're around most barely eats, regularly consumes fast food, and does nothing productive with their time?

Parents who think their child is overweight might even force them to exercise and/or only eat certain foods.

That's awful.

8 hours of school, 5 days a week, and added to the mix is exercise or a diet? You just can't do it.

It's important to give them a warm loving childhood for the best development possible.

We can't fix child obesity if adult obesity is still a problem. Seth Godin wrote a post about fixing the real solution. This is a similar scenario.

Ross Enamait wonderfully explained the same topic recently as well.

Want a kid to be active? Give them a fun activity to do. Any sports, DDR, going to the park, you name it.

The rules are simple.
1) Make sure they're having fun and enjoying it.
2) Make sure it's safe.
That's all there is to it.

I'll end the post with a story.

Last spring, my Infant & Child Development professor told us one visit, she took her daughter to the pediatrician. The doctor said, "your daughter is overweight and something needs to be done."

She goes to daughter and asks her, "do you want to join dance?" She nods her face no.

My professor goes on to say, "well, since she didn't want to do that, I put her in Taekwondo. She enjoys it, she lost weight, and she got her black belt by 3rd grade."

Simple solution. On top of that, it most likely boosted her self-confidence, enhanced her social well-being, and got her a new hobby.

Not too hard, right?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What does an athlete look like?

You wouldn't guess they're deaf.

When we think of an athlete, we imagine these rock hard bodies with chiseled muscles.

And then, what do most of us do? We use exercise as a means to achieve that perfect body.

But what if we're wrong? The result?

We're chasing after something that's not even there to begin with.

Athletes put in a lot of work to become pro and do what they do.

Exercise is their job and they better be good at it, or otherwise, they won't be employed much longer.

So, we should see what their bodies really look like.

Go see for yourself here. (thanks goes out to Ryan Andrews for posting this)

Not what you had in mind?

Don't worry, neither did most of us.

Hopefully you won't epitomize their bodies anymore over yours.

I believe beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

But before you do, you need to open your eyes so you can truly appreciate it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Calorie vs. Calorie

Try eating a hundred calories worth of vegetables.

A similar topic to last week's post, but overlooked often.

Let's start with a joke, one most of you are familiar with.

Which weighs more, a ton of bricks or a ton of feathers?

When you first heard that, you most likely answered the bricks. But of course, when it's explained to us, we realize that it's a
ton of each material.

Regardless of what either is, a ton is a ton. It may take less bricks than feathers to reach a ton on the scale, but that wasn't the question.

Now, what's this have to do with calories?


It's the same deal. A calorie is a unit of measurement.

100 calories of cookies is the same caloric amount compared to 100 calories of carrots. (first learned this in The Metabolism Advantage)

The difference? You're won't have nearly as many cookies as the amount of carrots.

On top of that, the latter has nutrients useful for your body, while the former will have a negative impact on your health.

There are other factors besides what I've mentioned, but the picture's clear.

If you're starting a more health-conscious way of living, don't worry so much about calories. Usually when people do worry about calories, it's over a poor food choice to begin with.

Don't worry how many calories that baby is.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Eat with your tongue, not your eyes

Lobster bean bisque.

A couple of weeks ago, I was watching Jimmy Kimmel Live, and he had as his guest, chef Gordon Ramsay (host of Hell's Kitchen). During the show he said,
"I think children become fussy because they eat with their eyes only."
He served his kids lamb brains on toast, but didn't tell them before they ate it. He told them after the meal, and they were pretty mad with him.

But, those are pretty good words to keep in mind.

Our eyes are used to see.

Remember that.

Eat with your tongue, not your eyes.

And this isn't just for kids.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Grocery store tips, plus tricks of a clever mom

Those better be frozen vegetables she's grabbing.

The majority of us have gone to the grocery store, no question about it. We need food, and other necessities. But, are you getting the most bang for your buck?

I remember my barber once jokingly say, "Times are rough." We were only talking about how even if an electronic is powered off, it still uses some electricity if it's plugged in (you can call PSEG if you don't believe me).

But still, anything helps when all is said and done.

So, I'll share some advice, tips, and tricks I've learned online and by tagging along to the grocery store with my mom.

1. Buy the Sunday paper and clip coupons for the love of god. It isn't difficult, and I was thoroughly thrilled to see a 55 cent coupon for almond milk this past weekend.

2. If you don't already, apply for your store's discount card. There are all types of savings by using it at every purchase, in addition to coupons with your receipt.

3. I've heard this one a lot. For food, shop around the perimeter of your store. There are occasions you need to go down an aisle or two for household items, which is fine and dandy, but don't travel through junk food land.

4. Nearly expired bread is cheaper bread. Just freeze it and defrost in the microwave.

5. Wait for it. Yes, I'm talking about sales. Got a big ol' tin of olive oil over the weekend, which cost less than the smaller container. Weird, right?
Here are a few of my mom's tactics.
6. Move quick. Get what you need and that's it. If you don't know what you need, then you may be more inclined to purchase "extras." Usually, I don't need a list, but it helps if you're going to buy a lot.

7. Look for the young teenage cashiers. Apparently, my mom tells me they're more inclined to scan any coupon or give you sales that may not be registering when an item is scanned. (more on this in the following points)

8. Use any coupon. The above said young teenage cashier will possibly accept an expired coupon or one that may be for a product, but doesn't meet the conditions, such as must buy 2 or buy so so to get half off. Hey, a coupon's a coupon.

9. Argue/debate. I've seen plenty of cashiers screw up way too many times. It's your money, don't get suckered.

10. Check the receipt immediately after your purchase. I don't know how my mom does it all in her head, but she does. See if the total is correct, if all deductions were taken off for the proper amount, and they didn't double scan anything accidentally.
Got your own tricks? Comment and share them with everyone else you sneaky person.

So, what are you waiting for? Get to shopping!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Results aren't always clear

About a month ago, I was trimming the back of my hair in the bathroom. So to accomplish such a feat, I stood away from the mirror in the bathroom and used a smaller mirror to watch the back side of my head as I carefully attempted not to mess up.

Now, seeing as how I didn't want to get hair all over my shirt, I took it off. As I was going about my business, I thought, "hm, impressive, I didn't know that's what my back looked like."

I didn't realize the the muscle I put on my lats and traps after doing pull-ups, rows, Olympic lifts, and deadlifts. Sure, I knew what was being worked when exercising, but it never occurred to me the effects of all that work I was doing.

Why mention this?

Because people get bummed out easily. I know it happens to me. I bet it's happened to you too at least once.

Cheer up though.

If you get too caught up in the results or going nuts trying to achieve some goal, you might overlook the finer points in the process.

They're not as easy to spot out, since you're not looking for them, but when you do find them, you'll be happy you found them.

Coincidentally, I recently came across one post last week and another post a few days ago which echo the sentiments of this post. Go give them a quick read.

Sometimes the results aren't always clear. Maybe you're concentrating too hard on a single aspect, who knows.

It's not the end of the world. Be grateful for what you can do, and enjoy what you have accomplished.

You deserve it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Food pyramid for life, without the food

Click to enlarge

In the food pyramid, old or new, we can see the larger areas are more important than the smaller ones.

Easy enough, right? The above image (courtesy of good old paint) is a general pyramid anyone can use.

"But how Niel?!?? Damn you! Give us answers!"

We see Roman numerals under each section, which are:
I. - Primary importance
II. - Secondary
III. - Third
IV. - Fourth
V. - Rest & relaxation
VI. - Mistakes/Unproductive
To break it down, one to six are things most important in your life to the things that aren't helping you.

I'll use myself as an example.
I. - Doing well in school
II. - Reading books, articles, and anything that makes me smarter
III. - Exercising and taking care of my health
IV. - Keeping my stuff neat and tidy, laptop running well cause I didn't renew warranty, etc.
V. - Listen to music, nap, write blog posts
VI. - Oversleeping in the morning, being late to class, browsing random sites online
The first thing is most important in my life.

Two is a big hobby of mine because I enjoy educating myself through those items.

Three is also important, but if exams are coming up, I need to buckle down and can only exercise 1-2 times a week. Sometimes I may go longer between meals than normal, it varies.

Fourth is not essential, but it does help to keep me organized and having the previous things run smoothly.

Five, burning out is a big problem when becoming overzealous. Taking a moment to gather my energy through various activities I enjoy keeps me refreshed for working hard.

Lastly, six, those trivial matters that aren't helping me the least bit in #'s 1 through 4.

It's essential to minimize that small sliver that is #6. When it becomes too large, we have no time for 5 because we're too busy trying to get everything else done.

Likewise, the same can be said for all the points, except #1. If one step grows too large, it endangers the preceding commitments.

Spend too much time on one, you overlook the other things and don't have enough time to give them your attention. If I spend too much time reading books that aren't for class, then I won't have time to read my course textbooks.

I used myself as an example, but this changes person-to-person.

A recovering cancer patient would have rest as #1 as opposed to me or a parent at risk losing their job would be trying to find another job, take care of bills, and try balancing their life at home.

I could blab on forever, but I don't want to bore everyone. So, I'll end this with something for you to take and print out.

The following is a download of a Word file. In it, you'll find the diagram and the Roman numerals with a line between each. There's a dash for you to write in one or two sentences on how you're going to stick to your goals.

Download me!

With that said, print it out, fill it out, and stick it somewhere you frequent often, like your desk.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Food Adventures: Eggcellent marketing

Oh the deceit!

Real quick, some of you may notice the change from "shopping adventures" to "food adventures," mostly cause I thought it would be better to include other areas of interest besides the grocery store.

Now, for those of you who go grocery shopping, go take a look at the eggs. Most of them are probably marked "vegetarian fed eggs" or "100% vegetarian diet."

That's cool, right? That's what I thought a while back.

After I read the nutrition chapter in Never Gymless, it occurred to me I was quite ignorant, or maybe gullible (both I suppose).

Commercial chickens are fed soy, corn, and grains, which you would assume to be normal, but that's far from the truth.

The normal diet of a chicken is insects, plants, and seeds.

So, we see the egg industry is advertising unfriendly animal practices as a good thing that is somehow beneficial to your health.

This is similar to if we made a lion follow a vegetarian diet.

He doesn't seem too happy.

Tsk tsk, shame on you people. Such trickery is not appreciated.

Even organic-labeled eggs are marked as vegetarian. The grains are organic, but quite pointless when the chickens aren't suppose to be eating them in the first place.

From the 6-10 different types of eggs available for purchase, only 2 had no vegetarian diet label on them.

Next time you're about to buy eggs, take a quick look at what's on the packaging.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Instructions to have a good day

In 10th grade, my motorcycle shop teacher said,

"I don't have to come in and act friendly, but if I act nice to you guys, then you guys act nice to me, and that makes the day go by easier."

Good words to live by.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Quick Fixes: Your Butt

Flat pancake booty or a huge badonkadonk, chances are, your glutes are inactive. This includes men.

Don't use something and it becomes less efficient, right? You end up a bit "rusty" when you don't do something for a while, like running. If you stopped for a few weeks, that first run after a long break isn't going to be as easy as it was before.

Driving, working, reading, on the computer, or anything else in the majority of our lives typically results with us sitting. A lot.

The work your glutes can be doing is transferred elsewhere on the body. That means, other muscles need to compensate for the lack of work being done by your ass. Literally.

Think about it like this. If you're working in a group on a new project and one person slacks off, everyone else has to pick up the slack. If you're like me, you probably don't want the extra work.

"What you gon' do with all that junk?"

So we need to counter that, y'know, get that junk in the trunk working again. Hm, what do we do?

Drumroll please.

*cricket chirps*

Yes folks, exercise! But, there are also some stretches and warm-ups in our bag o' tricks.

To keep this post short as possible, I'm going to list & hyperlink a few things.
Do the first bullet point plus one of the others, not all of them. For amount of reps and sets, check out the chart in the bottom of this article.

For actual exercises, the list is endless. You should aim to make a strong lower body using a variety of squats, deadlifts, lunges, split squats, glute-ham raises, good mornings, step ups, sprints, and kettlebell/dumbbell swings.

Notice how slow long distance running isn't mentioned? Just make sure to get complete hip extension. That means at the end of each rep, be sure to lock and pop your hips out, you should be able to squeeze your glutes hard. (see here & here to get an idea)

To get that rump in shape, you need to work it.

For any of you interested, here are the articles I used.
Hope you all enjoyed this post, feel free to leave questions and/or comments.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Keeping sane

It's a trap! An oh so delicious trap!

So last night, I head through the kitchen to get my stretch on at the pull-up bar. Passing by the kitchen table, I see a bowl of chips (as if someone were trying to set me up!), and oddly enough, I instinctively reached for it.

"What am I doing?"

That's what I was thinking as my hand paused midair. I wasn't hungry or the least bit interested in how they tasted, but I reached for them.

I know I harp on junk food a lot and it's probably annoying at times, but I'm not saying never eat any of it. Go for it sometimes, it won't kill you once in a while.

But, here's the trick.

It's about when you decide to eat it.

My view? Cut loose a little for special occasions or when having a meal with other people.

One to two times a week is fine for most of us. It doesn't mean you go nuts and eat as if it were your last meal. You really don't need to guzzle down a bunch of soda, about 3 entrees worth of food, and a dessert. Use a little discretion and besides, it's not like it's a once-in-a-lifetime chance. Hardly. There are plenty of other times you can eat what you want in the future.

If you're eating by yourself, keep your gut in check. Why eat unhealthy when you're alone? You know you can do that any time you want. With friends or family, it's nice to relax and enjoy the foods they're eating.

After all, the best food of all, is the food of friendship. (lame, I know)

I'm in college, so most of the time I'm either eating by myself or with a few other people. I still eat healthy, but when something like a person's birthday rolls around, hey I'm all for eating a little of this, a little of that.

After all, it's only once in a while. A couple of days in a year, big deal. The other 300 and something, I'm doing pretty good.

Take for example, this past weekend. It was my friend's birthday and I didn't mind eating some pizza and chips. It was fine, I didn't eat any other junk the entire week or two before that night.

I'm sure you get the idea.

Eat clean for the most part, but don't be afraid kick back a little for the special moments in life.

It'll keep you sane.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Down the Road

Today, finally, I'll be discussing the Solomon-Corbit model I learned from my Conditioning & Learning class. More specifically, I'll talk about how it relates to the foods you eat and exercising. This will be lengthy and sound confusing at first, but keep reading and you won't have any trouble at all when you're through with this post.

First, let's take a look at the two graphs we'll be using, define what everything means, and go over the areas of relevance. Click both to enlarge them and give a quick glance.

What's all this mean?
  1. US stands for unconditioned stimulus, meaning item you're interacting with
  2. Zero/0 is neutral feeling, basically, no interaction
  3. Plus/+ is the first set of feelings felt with from the US
  4. Minus/- is the after effects of plus/+
  5. A is the magnitude of feelings elicited by interaction with the US
  6. B is the magnitude of feelings elicited by the interaction with the US after it's done
Yes, I know, sounds like "blah blah blah." Just keep #'s 1, 5, & 6 in mind.

Now, what's the importance of each graph? Well, as you can see, the first one says "first experience" and the second graph is labeled "hundredth experience." We also can see that,

A1 area > A100 area

and the opposite is true for B.

B100 area > B1 area

Good so far? If not, take another look at the graphs and read what I said about the areas again.

What is the significance of all this? It makes no sense whatsoever, but that's why we give examples.

You try soda for the first time (the
first experience), and boy is it tasty. That first sip is good. You drink the entire glass, which of course, takes several sips. Notice in the first graph, your initial taste correlates with A1. It goes upward, but only to a certain extent. Also, every subsequent sip doesn't cause you to enjoy it as much as the first. The pleasure derived trickles downward, and eventually ends, meaning the soda has been finished.

B1 indicates wanting more soda, but unfortunately, you don't and it isn't a big deal. Some times passes, you forget all about the soda after a while and you could care less if you had more.

Say, in the next 2 months or so, you have had another 98 glasses of soda, making a grand total of 99. What does the graph look like when you're drinking that 100th glass of soda.

Examine the second graph again, the hundredth experience. A100 is noticeably smaller, while B100 has grown.

Drinking that glass of soda isn't nearly as satisfying as that initial sip. Gratification & pleasure is much lower, while the after effects are high. The craving for soda is intense now, and you want more. It bothers you that you don't have any to drink despite going through the same amount you had the first time. The desire for it lasts longer and is strong.

Clearer now? No? Another example? Sure buddy!

You get a new job and decide to eat fast food for lunch since it's close & cheap. You get a sandwich, a mighty tasty sandwich you note. Loaded with mayo and fried, but who cares, you're still new at work and trying to learn.

Fast forward to your 100th sandwich. Despite knowing about other options nearby, you still eat that sandwich, but it's not as great. You don't even know why you eat it, ack! You head back to work, but all you can think about is eating that sandwich again. But why? It doesn't even taste too great anymore. You have created an addiction, oh no!

But, this doesn't graph always mean doom and gloom. "Hm" you say? Yep, another example, 2 of them to be precise.

Enter weight lifting. Everyone who's performed any type of strength training knows how much effort that first session takes (A1). But, you somewhat enjoyed (B1) being active .

100th time in the gym. You get through the workout much easier (A100) than your very first time in the gym. Heck, now you actually look forward to your next exercising session (B100).

What about changing your diet? No fried foods, plenty of vegetables, fruits, water, and just wholesome foods that will do your body good. That first day is difficult (A1), but you get through. On the bright side, didn't daydream about (B1) junk food as much as you thought.

100 days of this new eating style. You get through the day easily (A100) and you don't even think about junk food (B100). Congratulations you sexy beast!

All clear now? Was it worth the read? I hope so.

So, all in all, I just wanted to share something I thought was neat from class which could be applied to anyone's diet and training.

When you make a new choice, think about whether or not there will be a 100th experience and how it will really affect you. Is it going to be good? bad?

Think down the road, is it worth it?

And feel free to ask questions if there's something you're curious about or still don't understand.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Biological magnification & importance of organic

Mercury filled fish for dinner

For anyone who had biology or an environmental class in high school, you're probably somewhat familiar with this term. Biological magnification is defined as a trophic process in which substances in the food chain become more concentrated with each link of the food chain. In a simpler statement, it's the accumulation of toxins as you go higher up the food chain. Indeed, not too good for whoever's at the top of it all.

Wait a second. Gasp! We're at the top.

Let's check out an example.
  • A farmer sprays pesticides all over his crops.
  • Not all insects are affected by the pesticides he used, so they still continue to eat his produce.
  • The insects are later eaten by a chicken that is allowed to roam freely. Of course, to satisfy his hunger, he eats many of these toxic insects (which accumulates in its body).
  • You have chicken breasts for dinner, and the toxins now accumulate in your body.
That's not too good for your health.

There's a reason to be eating organic. Eating foods involved with all these chemicals over a long period of time can't be good for you because they will build up in your body.

Humans eat a lot. No doubt about it and that's ok.
But, there should be an increasing importance placed on getting enough organic foods into your diet and supermarkets need to be supplying the consumers with them.

I hope that baby is organic

Do what's good for your body. Eat smart, eat healthy.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It's a System

Nifty diagram I made. (click to enlarge)

I recreated Urie Bronfenbrenner's contextual perspective/Ecological Systems Theory diagram from my Adolescent Development textbook, but made it with a few changes. Now, it relates to you and your goal(s) for health. I'll describe the basics and then explain how you can apply it to yourself.

Let's briefly go over the systems this model is composed of, which are:
  • Microsystem - Immediate interactions with others
  • Mesosystem - Connections & interactions of the microsystems
  • Exosystem - Environmental
  • Macrosystem - Governmental & cultural
  • Chronosytem - Time
Good so far? If not, don't worry, it will be easy enough to follow along.

Ok, but how does this diagram work? Let's see.
  • Center - It's your current status in regards to where you ultimately want to be. For someone wanting to lose fat, the end goal is the desired body/look. On the other hand, for a powerlifter, the end goal is a certain number for the big 3 competition lifts (squat, bench, deadlift). When the desired state is achieved, it also must be maintained.
  • Microsystem - This is all verbal communication. Basically, how others talk to you about your goal. Do they support you? do they criticize what you're doing? Positive feedback is the best, as is any social support.
  • Mesosystem - Interactions. When you eat with a friend, will they pick a healthy meal over the junk to reinforce the good habits you're trying to maintain? If you're with family on the weekends, are they doing activities to keep your fitness levels up? or are they watching TV all day? Is school/work becoming overwhelming that it affects your entire schedule? is it making you so busy that you can't make it to the gym or it makes you miss a meal? The paired relationships aren't set in stone. For example, you can change the meal with friends scenario to meals with family. Same rules apply. The main question is, is it helping you?
  • Exosystem - What's in your area? Are the places to eat nearby serving quality food? or is it a KFC? Can you go for a walk in the park? Is your gym spacious and conducive to your goal or is it always busy? Is the local grocery good?
  • Macrosystem - What's your state's regulations on certain produce like raw milk or black currants? Do you still believe in popular fitness myths? What about the current fads? do you follow them or stick to a structured program? Still under the assumption long distance cardio is the best exercise for weight loss and portion-controlled eating is healthy?
  • Chronosystem - Directly refers to your progress to your goal (knowledge gained, overcoming plateaus) while indirectly is the changes over time in the general population (becoming more inactive, obesity increasing), new equipment (sandbags, kettlebells, bands, etc.), less organic food, new diets, and the recession affecting (or not) the costs regarding your health.
As you can see, that's more expansive than the basics stated earlier.

Now, what kind of post would this be if I just left it at that? Let's use an example.

We have 3 people living in 3 different areas, and they're all trying to lose weight. 1) Guy living in an apartment in the so-so section of a city. 2) College kid living on campus. 3) Working man in the suburbs.
  1. Jason lives in a big city, so no need for a car, he just walks everywhere. But since he doesn't earn enough to live in a nicer place, he winds up having to shop at a grocery store that barely keeps fruits & vegetables and relies on the local pizza & fast food places. He doesn't even know of a gym within walking distance from his place, so forget lifting weights. He wants to slim down, but with the options he has, it's tough. He has to be creative with whatever he has access to (which isn't much). He reads up on all the new fitness information. Best thing he learns is how to make his own equipment to work out with. John is on his way to becoming more active and starting a healthier life.
  2. Billy's in college living the good life. He also walks everywhere since he lives on campus. He relies on the dining hall for meals or the places located around campus. The good thing is his dining hall has a full salad bar and the closest place to his dorm that's remotely healthy is Subway. Making his own meals is hard work, especially since the grocery store near him is small and not too great itself. On top of that, everyone else Billy knows indulges in fried foods, sweets, and beer. Self-control is ridiculously hard when all his friends are having a good time. But he stays strong and makes use of the university gym to take control of his life.
  3. Zack works the 9-5 and lives in a typical suburban town. Everything around him requires a car, so no walking for him. Since he lives in a nice area with a car, he has the benefit of shopping at a Trader Joe's and/or Whole Foods to buy his groceries from. Organic wholesome fruits, veggies, and nut butters, yum yum for Zack. Unfortunately, he only has commerical gyms near him that are $50 a month, yikes! He reluctantly stays as a member, despite the burden it puts on his wallet. As a result, he has to exercise in a crowded gym, where he not only wastes his money, but his time as well. Luckily, his family and friends support his efforts to lose that beer belly from college. Also, they don't mind eating at the restaurants nearby rather than the greasy fast food franchises. It's quality food for them and him. Zack might not be an exercise expert, but the other parts of his life are helping him lose weight.
Of course, I could go on and on, but hopefully this was enough to help you understand the whole point of this post. Whatever your goal is, (health-wise, financially, life in general) remember, it's a system.

Understand the parts it's made up of, and learn how to use them the best you can.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Everybody's an Expert, revisited

I had no intention of coming back to this topic, but yesterday I came across two different things that I couldn't pass up on discussing.

The first matter was a guy on a forum asking for advice. His situation was he never exercised before, and he paid a trainer at his gym for a health assessment. So, he was performing the workout he was prescribed, until midway

"I started feeling fucking sick!! I had no strength at all and could feel my body going numb. I almost couldn't talk or move. I sat down and looked down on the floor (NEVER LOOK DOWN). As soon as I tilted my head up I started barfing like crazy basically puked all my breakfast in front of everyone on the fucking floor. How humiliating is that man. Anyway no pain no gain I guess."

No pain no gain? Absurd! Advice other guys gave him? "Suck it up, keep at it, it's normal." Hell no. You do not puke at the gym. I was the only person to say he shouldn't have vomited. The trainer who he paid was studying Kinesiology at a university, but look at the program he created

Day 1:7 min warmup on stationary bike
  • Seated Rows 2x15
  • Leg extension 2x12
  • Leg curl 2x12
  • DB biceps curl 2x12
  • 90° - 45° crunches 2x 4-4
  • Lat pulldown 90°- 60° 2x15
  • Big 21 2x 7-7-7
  • Leg raise 2x15
Cardio 20 minutes threadmill

Day 2: 7min warmup on the Elliptical machine
  • Chest Press 2x15
  • Rope Pushdown 2x15
  • Lat+Front raise 2x10
  • Chopper twist 2x12
  • Pec deck 2x15
  • Skull crusher 2x12
  • Military Press 2x12
  • Russian Twist 2x12
Cardio: 8-10 min on the rowing machine

Seems good if you haven't exercised before, but on the contrary, it's too much for a beginner and there's nothing in it that will help the poor guy become ready for intermediate-level exercises. This guy paid $50 for a so-so service.

I said there were two things. The other was a website I came across. It's not horrible by any means, but I would not recommend it to anyone if they were seeking fitness information. I'm not really with the ideas of telling ladies to suck it up and advising use of the Smith machine. The site is designed to target women, but in reality, women aren't that different from guys. Sure, a few things here and there, but gender doesn't matter when you get fitness information. Alwyn Cosgrove sums it up extremely well here. Bottom line, it's about what you know.

Now, I can't just end this post without offering alternatives, so here we go!
I've said before there's a wealth of information in this day & age, and that list should help anyone get started. Enjoy the weekend eveyone.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Quick Fixes: Purses

Let's start with a story. Back in elementary school, I was sent to my pediatrician after a scoliosis check. I didn't have scoliosis (luckily), but my doctor asked how I wore my backpack. Of course, I had it slinging on 1 shoulder like all the other cool kids. What I didn't know was of the muscle imbalance I was creating. He said all I had to do was wear my backpack normally, easy enough to do.

That was years ago. But, I see women nowadays with gargantuan-looking purses like they're trying to rob a bank. It's fine to a certain extent, but I also see they carry
a lot of things with them. I once remember my friend coming by my dorm and inside her purse was a laptop, bagel, notebook, pens, a spare tire, toaster, fish tank, etc. (maybe not the last few). That's simply way too much to be carrying all at once, especially when the load is not evenly distributed on your upper body.

Huge purse, suspect in 8 bank robberies.

So how do we fix this? Easiest way is to lessen the amount of items you have or do some type of resistance/weight training. The latter option makes you strong. Your muscles become able to handle the weight being applied to one side. Don't like the idea of lifting weights? Well, either way, if you want to have kids, how are you going to hold a crying baby in the future? Can't make that baby weigh any less no matter how many diapers you go through. In fact, they only get bigger, and uglier in the teenage years.

This post isn't just for women; it also applies to the one-strap bags men wear. Keep your body in good shape, it's not hard doing a change here, a change there.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Everybody's an Expert

"Like a group of blind men, led by a man who is himself blind" (Mundaka Upanisad, Ch.1, verse 2.8)
In a previous post I said there's a lot of information available in the world. But it's a problem when you get the wrong information. Usually, this occurs when it comes from another person. It happens a lot in regards to exercise & nutrition. People are so enthusiastic to get in shape (which is good), but they will almost listen to anything they find/hear/read and then to make matters worse, this faulty knowledge gets passed along to someone else. Let's take a look at some silly things I've heard.
  • At the salad bar, "you shouldn't eat tomatoes, they have sugar" and this is while they both have chicken fingers on their plates.
  • Girl giving advice to her friend says "Only eat complex carbs. From the cereals here, you can eat Special K."
  • "Running is the best exercise."
You get the picture.

Where's all this come from? Can whatever you were told be properly explained? can sources be cited for it? If not sources, at least a credible person with an established name in the field?

People don't do enough questioning, but instead plain follow any advice. This article explains how personal trainers need stricter standards before being hired. Why? Because it's dangerous to allow any hired joe schmoe being able to tell you what to do with your body. Ask to see some credentials and what's their education background. How do you even know if they're going to do a good job if you don't take time to learn about them?

This trend, unfortunately, plagues any field. I'm done with the bulk of my psychology major (1 class & 1 lab left) and even I don't give advice to other people on the matter. Yet, I constantly see others give help to someone else. Sure, their intentions are good, but the fact is, they're not educated on the subject. Even if you might not have a degree in it, do you learn your material from successful professionals in the area? It's good to learn from others, but only when they are good at what they do.

In closing, don't be a dumb-dumb. You hear something, double-check with it. Don't be silly enough to believe whatever is tossed your way. You don't want to be like the group in the Upanisad quote, be better than that.

Friday, July 3, 2009

He said...

Co-worker's husband said, "you two look like friends."
He said, "my father said up until 18 it's a father-son relationship. After that, you become more like friends."

I'm sitting next to my dad thinking, "whoa, that's deep," but then jokingly told the guy "oh, we're not friends." Hopefully one day I'm even close to being that wise.

Have a good weekend everyone, and here's another vocabulary word to step-up your vernacular.

inveigle (in-vay-guhl) - v. - To obtain by deception or flattery.

Monday, June 29, 2009

First post and the beginning.

I'm always interested in reading others blogs, I thought why not start my own. While I'm still figuring out everything, expect the majority of posts to be health- & fitness-related. But don't let that detract you. I'm willing to bet the other posts will be better and applicable to any part of life.

That's all folks. And so this post isn't a complete waste, here's a word to improve your vocabulary.

(ih-nok-yoo-uhs) - adj. - Harmless; causing no damage.

See if you can ninja (sneak) it into a sentence and confuse someone.

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