Archive | May, 2010

Drink! But Be Sure To Reach For The Real Thing

31 May

By Phillip Tomlinson

The real thing?

Coke is it, right?  You know, the real thing.

I can almost guarantee that, even if you don’t know when or where, you’ve heard that jingle in one form or another.  Heck, you may not have even been walking this earth yet when “the real thing” first exploded into the public’s consciousness.

But you’ve heard it. 

Just in case, on the slim chance you don’t know what I’m talking about,you can check it out here, the original — that echo of a Coca Cola marketing theme that seduced generations and became a marketing phenomenon:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDSnjjdGh5M&feature=related

It was brilliant.  Found its way deep into the consciousness of millions. 

And how could it not?  The producers only converted it into a number-one-selling hit song after it became one of the the most famous and popular advertising  jingles in history.

Perhaps no video has been as wholesome as that “Hilltop” scene with a multicultural collection of teenagers singing, “I’d like to buy the world a coke and keep it company…”

Of course, since you already know that’s where the wholesomeness stops, I won’t bore you with the sugary or high-calory details that even Bubba, Mr. Fastfood himself, sees as so hard to swallow that his organization the William J. Clinton Foundation  got the largest beverage distributors to agree to halt nearly all sales of sodas to public schools.

But there are some other details of the watery type you may not know about, especially if you and the likes of Coke or any such beverage have been keeping company in a big way.

Watery?

Yep, the operative word is water.  That’s because beverages like soda are dehydrating agents that can cause you to lose serious amounts of water from your body’s reserve.  Not exactly a good thing when you consider that this can lead to significant physical impairment since your muscles are composed of about 80 percent water which is second only to air in the thing most needed for physical survival.

If only it were water bottlers that had used that longtime jingle on a hilltop to penetrate our consciousness, we might now be thinking twice about the kind of beverage with which we keep company. 

Fortunately, all’s not lost if you can somehow remember to reach for the real thing in your quest for hydration.  That same real thing that makes up some 60 to 70 percent of your body.  

For some great watery details on the effect of the real thing — water — on muscle tone, body fat, digestion, and so on, click on the following link:

http://www.naturodoc.com/library/nutrition/water.htm 

Delicious! Savor Butter Without Guilt.

28 May

by Phillip Tomlinson

You’ve got that right! But, wait, you say, experts advise to stay away from fat — especially that of the buttery kind — if you want to be victorious in the battle of the bulge.  Think again, because, the experts who shout this from the mountaintop with such conviction are not always the ones in the know.

Interested in the truth? Then ask Jeff Volek and Adam Campbell, authors of the critically acclaimed TNT Diet, and they’ll be quick to remind that butter “is a natural fat that men and women have eaten for thousands of years — yet heart disease didn’t appear until the 20th century.”  There is a direct relationship, they point out, with the increase in heart disease and that of the introduction of more sugar and refined grains in our daily diets.

In fact, fat has been hit with such a bad rap over the years that it has all but become the neglected son displaced by its non- and low-fat cousins.  This, despite the fact that fat, like that in butter, is absolutely necessary if we are to maintain optimum health.

Ever heard that you need fat to burn fat? Well, that’s no bull. In fact, the folks at Men’sHealth, one of America’s premier health and fitness authorities, put it this way: “Eating more Saturated Fat Lowers the Risk for Heart Disease.”

Outrageous? Hardly. Here‘s the rub:

If you want to tone up, get ripped, have the high-performance body of an athlete or simply shed some pounds, fat will become one of your most potent weapons. So, keep this knowledge holstered close your heart because, incidentally, it can keep your ticker running longer.

But the skinny on just how this works can be summed up in one word: WHEN. That is, knowing when exactly to eat butter and other fats. But make no mistake — FAT CAN BE YOUR MAGIC BULLET.

In a nutshell, if a significant part of your diet — some 60 to 70 percent — consists of fat, your body will have no alternative but to binge on fat for its fuel. Hence the scientifically proven logic that you need fat to burn fat.

In case you haven’t yet figured it out, the tactic involves limiting your carbohydrate intake by filling your plate with wholesome protein, low starch vegetables and fats such as eggs, avocado, cheese, cream, nuts…, and — yes — let’s not forget butter.

You should also know that fats such as butter are necessary if your body is to fully absorb many of the high-powered nutrients found in vegetables.

For example, without fat, we loose the ability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins or carotenoids like beta carotene and lycopene — powerful disease-fighting anti-oxidants that protect us against free-radicals that are constantly at war with our bodies to speed up the onset of aging.

For an effective prescription on how to shoot for that body-to-die-for, check out the following link: http://www.menshealth.com/men/nutrition/food-for-fitness/build-muscle/article/9049402df3f85110vgnvcm10000013281eac/3

Happy eating!

Do You Have Someone’s Back?

26 May

by Phillip Tomlinson

Well, do you? 

I know what you are thinking.  You always have someone’s back. 

I have no doubt.

Frankly, it’s very nice of you if you have someone’s back because, somewhere, that special someone is breathing a little easier knowing that you’re guarding his or her back.

Feeling good about yourself as you puff away on that cigarette break?  I guess you should, if you have someone’s back in that way. 

Only thing is that’s not exactly what I’m talking about.  Literally, I’m talking about your back.  Yes, that back.  And the one thing I can tell you is that your Joe Cool habit could have a lot to do with whose back you have.  In a very big way.  Hint:  it definitely won’t be the back that is a stabilizing platform for regular physical activity.

JOE-COOLING IT COULD REALLY HURT

Yes, being Joe Cool could turn out to be pretty uncool.

That’s because puffing away on that nicotine stick could have a big say in how easily you bend over to tie your shoe laces or, well, pick up a pencil.

No kidding! 

Just ask the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons who warns that “both the smoke and the nicotine cause your spine to age faster than normal.”

SMOKE CLOUDS

Let’s put it this way, those smoke signals are the bearers of bad news.  So, add one more thing to the list of maladies associated with cigarette smoking and the picture becomes a lot more cloudy.  That’s pretty cloudy when you consider that experts rank back pain as the number one medical problem in the United States.

You should also know that with age, intervertebral disks in your back suffer wear and tear and begin to shrink.  Cigarette smoking has been found to speed up this process. 

OUT FROM UNDER THE CLOUDS

The good news is that we can postpone this eventuality by observing certain rules of the road.  One very important one is through strengthening the back with regular core exercises.  This along with the body’s hormonal activity have been found to also stimulate healing through the formation of new bones.  But, according to research, cigarette smoking has an adverse effect on this and could limit the benefits of exercise.

So, while we cannot avoid the normal wear and tear on our spine that goes along with aging, there are things we can do the lessen the impact.  Of course, a healthy lifestyle is a must and that means finding your way out from under the clouds.  Yes, that cloud, if you are a smoker.  Meanwhile, the experts suggest you pay attention to these other recommendations:

Exercise — Combine aerobic exercise, like walking or swimming, with specific exercises to keep the muscles in your back and abdomen strong and flexible.

Proper Lifting — Be sure to lift heavy items with your legs, not your back.  Do not bend over to pick something up.  Keep your back straight and bend at your knees.

Weight — Maintain a healthy weight.  Being overweight puts added stress on your back.

Proper Posture — Good posture is important for avoiding future problems.  A therapist can teach you how to stand, sit and lift.

As for exercise, since safety is also a concern, you may want to check out an interesting link about one man’s crusade to save our back.  In fact, you could say he has our back:  http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/01/19/the-man-who-wants-to-kill-crunches/

Likewise, if you are interested in a functional BodinSync routine to help build core strength, you may want to try this one:

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The Pendulum

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  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.  Bend your knees as if you are about to squat to pick something up off the ground.
  2. Bend at the waist so that your back forms a 45 degree angle.  Your stance should now look like that of linebacker trying to stop a past-rush.
  3. Dangle your arms to the side.  Maintaining your body position, slowly raise your arms, palms facing each other, shoulder width apart, until they are horizontal to the floor.
  4. Hold for a count of five. 
  5. Lower your arms and stand straight up.  THAT’S ONE REPETITION. 
  6. Start again by assuming the linebacker position.  AIM FOR 10 REPETITIONS

NOTE: This routine can be made more challenging by

  1. Holding two small weights in your hands
  2. Holding the position for 10 seconds instead of five

With that, I guess I can’t resisting saying — though with the best intention — watch your back!

When a Walk is Not Just a Walk

24 May

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         ItwasI

by Phillip Tomlinson

It was early one morning about five years ago when I first saw her walking up 10th Street in Park Slope, Brooklyn.  If I had to guess, I would put her age somewhere round about the late 80s.  As you might imagine, she wasn’t exactly zooming up that incline.  Rather — hunched over — she labored slightly with the help of her trusty cain.

With determined  purpose, she disappeared up the hill and I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of  a little something that there wasn’t someone with younger legs who could accomplish the errand on which she had so dutifully set out.   Not an unusual thought before turning my attention to my own affairs.

But that wasn’t exactly that.

About a half-an-hour later, as I happened outside, there she was — again climbing that hill.  Then I noticed a couple of things I hadn’t before: her loose-fitting clothes and the smile of satisfaction on her weathered, Asian face.  Then, it hit me — this was no errand.

Just like that, that little tinge of pity I felt before had turned to something else.

Admiration.

This was definitely no ordinary walk, and not age, not slow steps, not any “old” excuse would keep this determined, silver-haired lady from her early morning exercise.

I don’t know why I hadn’t noticed her before, but since then I have many times over — often wondering how many times she goes up and down that hill each morning before calling it quits. 

As for when she’ll entirely give it up? 

I never wonder, because I have a feeling I already know the answer. 

No guessing.

That’s because I ran into her a few days ago, after not having seen her for quite some time.  She was coming down the hill as I walked up.  Satisfaction was still etched on her face, even though her steps had gotten slower.  Much slower.  She still leaned on her cain, but that wasn’t enough because she now had an escort — perhaps a daughter — who supported her on the other side.

Again, I felt a tinge of something.

Renewed admiration.

This, I thought, was definitely when a walk is not just a walk.

If you you’d like to do some legwork of your own, you may want to add the following exercise routine to your arsenal:

_____________

Wall Leaners

____________

  1. With your feet shoulder-width apart, stand about three away facing a wall.  BE SURE TO WEAR SNEAKERS WITH GOOD TRACTION.
  2. With your hands straight out in front to support you, lean placing your palms against the wall.  Your body should now form a slope with your feet still about three feet away.
  3. Begin walking, making sure that, on each step, you lift your knee as high as possible.  Do 10 quick steps.
  4. Bend your arms slightly as if you are doing a pushup, generating enough force to push your body away from the wall into an upright position, still keeping your feet where they are.  You should now be standing up straight.
  5. With your arms still extended in front of you, squat down to the floor and stand back up.  THAT’S ONE REPETITION.
  6. Start the second repetition by again leaning in to place your palms on the wall, then proceeding  through to step 4.
  7. Do 10 repetitions.

This routine can be made more challenging by the following:

  1. Doing full pushups against the wall before pushing off back into the upright (standing) position.
  2. Standing back up from the squatting position on one leg instead of two, before leaning back on to the wall to begin the next repetition.  Be sure both feet are on the ground before leaning forward against the wall.
  3. Standing further away from the wall.

 

  

One-a-Day to the Fountain of Youth

21 May

by Phillip Tomlinson

Looking for the fountain of youth?  How about making one simple and easy lifestyle change you may have overlooked?  This one change will not only ensure that all your nutritional bases are covered, but may be a homerun in keeping your health on the right track and your energy at peak level.

In fact, the hardest thing you may have to do is down a glass of water with your multivitamin.  

AN EASY LIFESTYLE CHANGE

Yes, that’s right.  if you are not  supplementing your diet with a multivitamin, you may be overlooking one of the easiest lifestyle changes you can make in your quest for the fountain of youth.

Studies have found that daily multivitamin supplementation may help prevent cancer.  In one, the National Institute of Environmental Health and Sciences reported that results from a women’s test group suggested that “regular vitamin supplementation was associated with a significantly reduced risk of BCC – basal cell carcinoma – a form of skin cancer.”

It also found that multivitamins may “prolong life for women by preventing parts of their DNA from shortening.”

But wait a minute!  For all you men with the urge to throw yours in the trash, you should know that other studies suggest that we may all benefit from taking a daily multivitamin.

PUT AGING ON HOLD

In fact, skipping that multi could eventually lead to DNA damage as was found by University of California researchers when they starved human cells of vitamins and minerals.  The implication was that a multivitamin may help protect our chromosomes and, thus, us from aging.

So, safeguarding your DNA with a multivitamin a day is as a good a place as any if you are looking for a starting point.

SAFETY IS JOB ONE

Which multivitamin should you take?  For starters, warns industry watchdog Consumerlab.com, you can’t just assume any brand is safe, since there are no standard manufacturing rules for supplements.

Alarmingly, according to ConsumerLab, it was found that, in one trial, half of the 21 brands that were tested had too much or too little of certain vitamins, “or where contaminated with dangerous substances such as lead.

Two safe and dependable choices? 

Centrum and One-a-Day Women’s which were found to be free of impurities and accurately labeled.  But with this knowledge, you’ll also need to choose the formula that’s right for you.

A CONSIDERATION FOR CHILDBEARING

Science suggests that women in their childbearing years should choose a multivitamin with about 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid – strong enough to make and maintain new cells.

On the other hand, the conclusion was that pregnant women should take a multi with 600 mcg of folic acid – a nutrient which also reduces the incidence of neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida.

Of course, it goes without saying  that pre-menopausal women should choose a compound with iron to replace that which is lost during menstruation.  Menopausal women should go without iron, since research suggests that too much iron may increase the risk of heart disease.

MEATEATING IRON MEN

Men whose diet contains regular servings of meat need not take a multivitamin with iron.

Exhilaration Boulevard: forego the trip and it may cost you

12 May

Functionality Taking a Nosedive

By Phillip Tomlinson

Are you in sync? No, really? If you have to think about it, then you may have more than a chink in your armour. That’s hardly good news, considering that, if you are like most, you were given a body with the mechanics to keep you gliding in perfect sync. But things a have a way of getting out of hand and, before you know it, functionality has taken a nose-dive — right out the window in front of your very eyes. And, well, you are left waddling along and groaning in discomfort when faced with the simplest of tasks — like picking up a pencil off the floor.

As for that pencil, it may be more useful than you think, so hold on to that thought and it’ll be a pleasant surprise to you later, especially if you are interested in reclaiming lost glory. That means really holding on to the mechanics that make your body the anatomical wonder it is. If this blog, in this first installment and beyond, does nothing else it will provide insight as well as some fun and helpful ways to reprise or improve the functionality that adds new meaning to “have a nice day.” That means looking and feeling your best which can go a long, long way — all the way to Exhilaration Boulevard.

Let’s just say it’s a highway worth traveling. No tolls here. But forego the trip and it’s a fair bet it’ll cost you. In fact, you’ll definitely be missing out. Of course, you gotta start somewhere, so you might as well strap yourself in for the ride — at the beginning. Right where you are.

I started right where I was way back when I was a scrawny, skinny 12-year-old. You could say I looked like a puppy with overgrown paws. Now, that definitely didn’t sit well with the shy, sensitive boy I was. So, I discovered an exercise that is a common yardstick for measuring strength which wasn’t something I had much of.  The push-up became an obsession, along with a pair of exercise springs.

That was then. Today, after competing in karate and track and field on the national level, graduating with a Master of Science degree, and working as a television anchor and a medical reporter, I find myself still being a student of body movement — even moreso in my capacity as an athletic trainer. 

Phillip Tomlinson

That has paid big dividends by not only keeping me primed for daily life, but also in enlightening my approach to activities like weight training  and karate. You may say I have been to Exhilaration Boulevard and back.  

Of course, while your story is different, I’m sure you’re not averse to hanging out at Exhilaration Boulevard. You may discover you’re gliding in perfect sync and, at that, you’ll definitely breathe easier. And that pencil? Now, I can just about pick it up any which way. If you are up to the task, pull up a chair — literally — and give this simple routine a try:

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The Pencil Snatch

_______________

  1. Sit on a chair, its back supported against a wall, with your feet a little more than shoulder-width apart firmly on the ground.
  2. Position a pencil on the ground on the inside of your left foot.
  3. Pull forward to the edge of the seat. This is your starting position.
  4. Let your right arm hang on the inside of your right leg, while placing the other arm on your left hip.
  5. With a straight back, ease yourself up a few inches off the chair so you are now being fully supported by your legs.
  6. Holding your leg position and your left hand against your hip, bend over and pick up the pencil with your right hand .
  7. As you stand up, simultaneously pull your left knee up as high as you can while raising the arm with the pencil straight up over your head so that you are now balancing only on your right leg.
  8. Hold your position steadily for a count of two.
  9. Lower your arm as you simultaneously descend to place the pencil back on the ground and sit back on the chair to complete one repetition.
  10. Assume the starting position as in number 3.

Aim for 10 repetitions, take a 30-second break and repeat on the other side.

Note:  This routine can be made more challenging by substituting the pencil with a weight and shortening your rest time.