Remembering games and daisy chains

You raise the blade, you make the change

 

I apologize now if this post reads negatively. You may construe it as being negative but it isn’t. Sometimes when we read or hear something that dispels common beliefs or your own beliefs we tend to call the messenger negative. Someone who believes they are realistic are commonly referred to as negative. Hopefully in the end though this article won’t be viewed as negative. I hope to provide enough data that this will be the case.

What

Steps. Getting your steps in. I work in an office environment and I sit on the perimeter of  a large amount of cubicles. I often have people walking by where I sit because they got to get their steps in. Recently there has been a new recruit in the pursuit of getting steps in. This person is much younger than the others, not that that really matters other than showing the demographic of step getters has expanded from people in late adulthood to people in their early adulthood years. I was intrigued by this new stepper and decided to ask her some questions. Basically the idea is to reach your goal of daily steps to keep fit and stay active.

The issue

Unfortunately some people, or maybe most people look at fitness trackers, or more specifically ‘getting my steps in’ as a substitute for real exercise. If you are someone who for medical reasons cannot participate in a form of exercise that increases your heart rate to at least 80%, or cannot participate in any resistance training then I’m ok if getting your steps in is all you do.

But if you do not fall into the above then getting in steps should be something in addition to your workout. If you are desk bound at your job then great, a reminder to get up and walk around. Everyone should get out of their chair frequently regardless of being at work or home. But many times this becomes the substitute to the workout. People actually think they are doing their part to keep themselves healthy. And this gives a false sense of security.

Why is that? Because getting in 10,000 steps doesn’t take into consideration the intensity. And what about duration? If it took me 8 hours to get in 10,000 steps there really isn’t much of a benefit other than being mobile, or somewhat mobile. My heart rate isn’t increasing that much if at all so I’m not realizing the benefits from a high intense workout. And why 10,000? If I am really active in my life, I run 3x a week, or I swim, does getting in 10,000 steps a day benefit me? Maybe I should be getting in 30,000 steps?

This process of getting in 10,000 steps also give people a false sense of achievement. They no longer feel guilty about eating that second piece of cake, or having an additional doughnut. It becomes a justification to indulge: “hey, pass me another piece of pie, I got room, I got my 10,000 steps in today!”. Not to be crass but this happens. Let’s just say of all the ‘stepper’s’ there are where I work, none of them would appear to be healthy. Not by a slim margin but a large margin. I’d even go as far to say they would fall under the obese category for body weight.

As a personal trainer I like to find out why people are getting in their steps and what they feel the benefit is. I have to take a somewhat detached approach because if I don’t my personal trainer side, and also my side of me that wants to help people will come out. My tendencies to let them know that this should be in addition to a regular intense workout that includes resistance training doesn’t go over well. And I have to work with these people too so I don’t need to make any enemies.

I don’t want to say it’s a cult but some of these steppers are hardcore about the benefits and it is almost like a badge of honor, like they just completed a triathlon. Stepping with pride. And these fitness trackers aren’t cheap either so telling someone that their fitness tracker is not the panacea for achieving a healthy life style can be a really downer.

Is it that we live in an age where the goal is feeling good about ourselves regardless of the cost, both monetarily and health wise? Is it the marketing? Is it wanting to belong to a group that drives us to do this?

I don’t know. Maybe some of these or all of them.

Or I might know what it is. People have their minds made up and don’t want to change. If they change it means they were wrong. And that’s hard to accept. I see it once in a while You interact with someone over a number of months and they aren’t making any fitness gains. So you talk to them and express what they should be doing. Either they change or they don’t. Mostly they don’t. They don’t change what they are doing and they don’t change physically because they DON’T change what they are doing. For sure, it could be me, the messenger. But I think it’s fair to say most times it’s the person. Stubbornness, pride, fearing the unknown. Some people don’t want to change because they may feel there are consequences to being a different person. As an example becoming vegan for some people is tough because of the social impact. You can no longer eat grandma’s turkey at thanksgiving, or going to a friends BBQ may mean bringing your own food and having to deal with the questions around that. Some people just don’t want to deal with that. Maybe I’m reading too much into it. But I do believe psychology plays a huge role in fitness and health.

But I digress.

If you get yourself a fitness tracker use it to it’s fullest. Use it for the heart rate monitor so you know you are hitting that 90% bpm when training intensely. Use it to monitor your sleep so you know you are resting well. Use it for steps to get yourself out of the chair at the office but only for that reason, not as a substitute for a good workout.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

 

Tired, tired with nothing, tired with everything

“I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread.”

Are you feeling this way? You are, and don’t know why? Eating well, you know, eating clean (I hate the saying ‘eating clean’ by the way because by people’s definition of eating clean doesn’t remove foods that cause illness and disease)? Getting adequate rest on most nights, working out so you are physically working your body? Yes? But you are still tired.

What about weakness? Not making strength gains and generally feel weak or weaker? Do you find it cold most of the times where as others around you are comfortable? Maybe mentally you aren’t feeling the best either, struggling at times with depression.

I don’t want to sound like a commercial for a drug but if this sounds like you, you might be experiencing thyroid issues, specifically hypothyroidism.

What

Hypothyroidism is an under active thyroid gland. Basically your thyroid isn’t producing enough of certain important hormones.

And this can take time. You may be having thyroid issues for quite a while but it isn’t until now or lately that the symptoms have manifested enough that they have become obvious. Let’s look at the symptoms that come along with hypothyroidism:

  • Fatigue
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Weight gain
  • Puffy face
  • Hoarseness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Elevated blood cholesterol level
  • Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
  • Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints
  • Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods
  • Thinning hair
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Depression
  • Impaired memory

Do you have any of these? Do you have a lot of these? Have you been dealing with these things over a long period of time? If you have please see your doctor as soon as you can as left untreated hypothyroidism over time will cause the thyroid gland to enlarge and can become life threatening.

If you are dealing with some of these things it’s always a good idea to bring them up with your doctor. You could be dealing with some of these things and not have hypothyroidism. But you don’t know for sure until you see your doctor and have tests run. Hopefully you are someone who is in tune with your body, you are honest with yourself with respect to knowing what you eat, how you are sleeping and your workout ethic. Also being aware of when things change. If your life has remained more or less constant over a long period of time and you start sensing changes such as the above symptoms then for sure see your doctor. I’m fortunate that I live in Canada and going to my doctor is as easy and is as cheap as picking up my phone and making an appointment. We get used to this luxury and then get caught up in the difficulty of having to take time off of work to do this, and having to get to our doctor. But, the alternative is worse. If you happen to have hypothyroidism and leave it untreated it can get devastatingly worse. Take yourself a sick day so you are able to take care of yourself and not end up having to take a lot of sick days because of the consequences of something being left untreated.

Impact

Let’s look at what can happen over time if hypothyroidism is left untreated:

  • Heart problems: Your LDL cholesterol (the ‘bad’ cholesterol) level may rise possibly leading to an enlarged heart and heart failure
  •  Mental health: depression may occur and may even become severe. Hypothyroidism may also cause slowed mental functioning
  • Peripheral neuropathy: Pain, numbness in areas possibly in your legs and arms. Muscle weakness or loss of muscle control
  • Goiter: If the thyroid gland becomes enlarged you may develop a goiter which can interfere with breathing and swallowing

 

Part II

Hyperthyroidism

Unlike an under active thyroid gland, hyperthyroidism is the result of an over active thyroid gland. Hyperthyroidism can accelerate your body’s metabolism significantly, causing sudden weight loss, a rapid or irregular heartbeat, sweating, and nervousness or irritability.

What

Are you experiencing any of the following:

  • Sudden weight loss, even when your appetite and the amount and type of food you eat remain the same or even increase
  • Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) — commonly more than 100 beats a minute — irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) or pounding of your heart (palpitations)
  • Increased appetite
  • Nervousness, anxiety and irritability
  • Tremor — usually a fine trembling in your hands and fingers
  • Sweating
  • Changes in menstrual patterns
  • Increased sensitivity to heat
  • Changes in bowel patterns, especially more frequent bowel movements
  • An enlarged thyroid gland (goiter), which may appear as a swelling at the base of your neck
  • Fatigue, muscle weakness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Skin thinning
  • Fine, brittle hair

 

Lastly

Does this sound like you? Are you having to deal with some, or a lot of these symptoms? See your doctor.

Try to always be in tune with your body, with your health. Be honest with yourself. Sometimes it sucks to do that, to be honest with yourself but if you do it it only benefits you. It helps you to get to what the issue is. No one wants to be that hypochondriac. If you are honest with yourself and you are dealing with the above symptoms and you are pretty certain that its not due to other things such as a poor diet, lack of exercise, dealing with traumatic emotional issues then see your doctor.

Take care of yourself. Use those resources that are there for you to do this.

Don’t ever feel guilty about doing that.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

washing away that which doesn’t matter

We don’t always hear what is good for us. Most times it’s because money can’t be made trying to market and sell. Whenever someone finds out I’m vegan usually I’m asked where I get my protein. My news feed on my phone constantly has articles on protein: what kind of protein should you be taking, are you getting enough protein, what protein should you eat based on your goal, is plant based protein adequate. Stuff like that. But I have yet to see an article on the dangers to our health when we consume too much protein. But that doesn’t sell and make money. Let’s take fiber as an example. How do you make it look appealing to sell? It doesn’t sizzle, it doesn’t make your mouth water, it doesn’t have deep dark attractive colours.

 

What

I’ve never been asked and I’ve never heard anyone be asked where do you get your fiber? I’ve never heard people ask when someone discusses the new diet they are on, ‘are you getting enough fiber?’. Have never seen any articles come to my news feed, have never heard anyone talk about it when discussing what they are doing to eat well. Always protein, fats, and carbs but usually it’s the demonization of carbs.

All fiber comes from plants. All. It is what gives plants their structure. It creates the shape of the plant, and it makes up the bulk of the seeds. Our body cannot digest fiber but it benefits our body in so many ways and plays an essential role in good health.

There are two types of fiber,soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber will dissolve in water where as insoluble will not. Soluble fiber slows down digestion, giving us the satiated feeling after eating and insoluble is what promotes regular bowel movements. Pretty important things. We usually associate a high protein or fat meal to give us the feeling of fullness, or that satiated feeling. But fiber can do that too and it benefits our health greatly to get that feeling from fiber instead of protein or fat. The second benefit of fiber, the pooping more one will be touch on throughout this article.

Why

Why is fiber good for us? I’ve explained one benefit already, the satiated feeling. If we feel full after eating we are less to eat more thus consuming less calories and keeping our weight in check. But let’s talk about what other benefits there are.

Have you ever juice fasted or know someone who has? Did you end up having acne breakouts? It’s common for people who juice fast, or increase their intake of juice and thus eat less food and less fiber to experience acne break out. And it has nothing to do with the skin detoxing chemicals. It’s a sign of hormone imbalance. All toxins are expelled from our body via urine and feces, not the skin through sweat. All this is done through the liver. Toxins, extra hormones are sent to the liver and then picked up by the small intestine via fiber. If there isn’t enough fiber because we are not eating enough then the toxins, and hormones stay in our system, waiting for that fiber train to come by. When someone is juice fasting there isn’t enough fiber in their body to wash away the excess hormones and thus end up having a hormone imbalance which ends up in an acne breakout.

Fiber is also used by the liver to detoxify a bunch of other things: alcohol, medications, food additives, sweeteners, chemicals, etc. Again, without enough fiber these toxins stay in your body. Yikes!

So if you think about what fiber does for us in removing toxins, wouldn’t you want to remove those toxins as soon as possible? If you aren’t eating enough fiber those toxins remain in your body, sometimes for days depending on the person. That could be why not eating enough fiber is linked to an increase in diseases such as coronary disease, can lead to cancer, diabetes, and skin health issues.

How

According to the Institute of Medicine, the average female needs 25 grams of fiber a day, and the average male needs 38 grams per day. If you fall into the 97% of americans not getting enough fiber than your intake is probably no higher than 15 grams.

The easiest way to consume more fiber is to follow a whole foods plant based diet. As mentioned earlier, all fiber comes from plants. There is zero fiber in animal products. You wont have to spend time trying to understand if you are consuming enough fiber by measuring and counting grams, and you wont have to worry about all the bad things you would be consuming if eating animal products. If you think about it, fiber helps to get rid of extra hormones. Consuming animal products, especially dairy products introduces extra hormones into the body (cow milk is a product whose purpose is to provide the nutrients, and hormones to a new born calf to get that new born calf to about 500lbs in a year) and now your body has to remove those extra hormones. If you aren’t eating enough fiber to get rid of those hormones you could be experiencing some of these issues mentioned previously.

Whole grain foods, potatoes with the skin on, raw berries (try not to pulverize them in the smoothy machine), nuts, seeds, and anything else that is plant based. The more variety the better.

Cut down on processed foods. This is why I don’t say to follow a vegan diet. Veganism is more than what you eat, it’s main focus on not harming animals. So you could eat nothing but potato chips and be vegan. Whole foods plant based diet is the best way to go.

WARNING: If you are someone who has not been getting enough fiber, maybe none to 10, 15 or so grams and you make this switch I warn you now you will probably experience some bloating. Why? Because your gut does not have the proper bacteria because of not eating the proper foods. When you introduce this increase of fiber the gut bacteria you do have starts to ferment it and that fermentation produces a large amount of gas thus the bloating. Give it time, this will stop as new, healthier bacteria form. Think of it as a good thing. Your body is shifting away from harmful bacteria to protective bacteria. Ease into it. Increase the amount of fiber slowly if you feel you need to. Think of it as never running to all of a sudden having to run 5 miles.

And…

Take ownership of your health. What issues are you dealing with? Can those problems be addressed by a change to your diet, a change for the better? It would be like continuing to put low grade gas into my car and then taking the car to the mechanic to address the engine damage that has been done. Change the fuel and no more engine issues. Food is fuel and the higher quality fuel you eat the better your body runs.

Yours in health,

Darryl