Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Monday, April 28, 2008

Fantastic cover

Let me know what you think. I love this version:

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Body Composition

According to the Diabetes Monitor, body composition is defined as the ratio of lean body mass (structural and functional elements in cells, body water, muscle, bone, heart, liver, kidneys, etc.) to body fat (essential and storage) mass. Essential fat is necessary for normal physiological functioning (e.g., nerve conduction). Storage fat constitutes the body's fat reserves, the part that people try to lose.

Here are general body-fat recommendations from the American Council on Exercise:

General Body Fat Percentage Categories
Classification Women (% fat) Men (% fat)
Essential Fat 10-12% 2-4%
Athletes 14-20% 6-13%
Fitness 21-24% 14-17%
Acceptable 25-31% 18-25%
Obese 32% plus 25% plus

Friday, April 18, 2008

Frozen versus Fresh

A client recently inquired as to the benefits of frozen fruits and veggies versus fresh. Here's a nice breakdown:

Any fruits and vegetables are better than no fruits and vegetables. For peak flavor and good value, fresh produce in season is always a good choice. But frozen or canned fruits and vegetables, without added salt or sugar, are just as good for you as fresh. Here are some easy ways to sneak more fresh and frozen fruits and veggies into your diet:

-Buy many kinds of fruits and vegetables when you shop. Buy frozen and dried, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables
-Experiment with new types of fruits and veggies
-Keep a fruit bowl, raisins or other dried fruit on the kitchen counter and in the office
-Keep a bowl of cut-up vegetables on the top shelf of the refrigerator for snacking
-Add fruit to breakfast by having fruit on cereal
-Choose fruit for dessert and use frozen fruits for smoothies
-Add fruits and vegetables to lunch by adding them in soup, salads, or cut-up raw
-Add extra varieties of frozen vegetables when you prepare soups, sauces, and casseroles

One other note worth mentioning: choose as many different COLORS as possible, as each color represents a specific nutrient that benefits your overrall health.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Women athletes win equal time on injury list

Great article from today's Globe:
By Judy Foreman
April 14, 2008
A week from today, 10,375 women - and 14,737 men - are expected to run in the Boston Marathon. The presence of so many women - the most ever entered in the historic race - is a sure sign of how far women have come in athletics.

So is this: In 1972, before Title IX, the law that spurred women's athletics, fewer than 300,000 high school girls played sports, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. Now it's more than 3 million.

But there's a dark side to this terrific news: The more girls and women play sports, the more they, like boys and men, get hurt. And - attention athletes, coaches, and parents - they get hurt in different ways.

Last week for instance, researchers from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, reported on a stunning injury rate for young gymnasts, 82 percent of whom are female.

Using data from 100 hospitals across the country, the team reported in the journal Pediatrics that every year, roughly 26,600 children ages 6 to 17 get injured badly enough doing gymnastics to wind up in the emergency room. This is a "very high" injury rate, roughly equivalent to ice hockey, said public health specialist Lara McKenzie, the lead author.

And gymnastics is just the tip of the iceberg. Cheerleading is now the leading cause of direct fatal and nonfatal injuries among high school and college women, according to the Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research at the University of North Carolina. "Cheerleading used to be about shaking pompoms," said the center's director, Frederick O. Mueller. "Now, it's about throwing people 20 feet in the air."

Basketball is not exactly benign, either: It's brutal on that most vulnerable part of the female athlete's anatomy: the knees.

And even plain old running seems to be tougher on women's legs than on men's, though it's not clear why.

This "absolutely does not mean that women should not play sports," said Dr. Lyle Micheli , a consultant to the International Olympic Committee on Women's Sports Issues and director of sports medicine at Children's Hospital Boston. After all, in two of the most popular high school sports, soccer and basketball, no significant differences existed in injury rates between boys and girls, according to figures released by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the 2005-2006 school year.

But athletic activities can cause different injuries in women and girls than in men and boys. Female athletes and their coaches should pay increased attention to the anatomical differences that put girls and women at disproportionate risks for certain injuries.

The sports injuries that seem to disproportionately affect women include:

-Tears in the ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, in the knee, a problem that hits basketball and soccer players especially.

-Plantar fasciitis, in which activity can cause tiny tears in heel tissue.

-Compartment syndrome in runners, in which lower leg muscles get too tight for the surrounding space, causing severe pain.

-Shin splints in runners, in which repetitive stress can lead to pain and even fractures in the lower leg.

-Kneecap pain.

-Pain along the outside portion of the leg in the iliotibial band, between the knee and the hip, known as iliotibial band friction syndrome.

Women's knees are more vulnerable than men's because the "Q-angle" - the angle between the hip and the knee - is greater in women than in men. While wide hips are good for childbearing, they mean there is more stress on the knee in moves like landing from a jump and twisting. This torque can shred the ACL, a ligament that helps stabilize the knee. This is a major reason why female athletes have four times more ACL tears than men do, said Dr. George Theodore, a Red Sox team physician and sports medicine specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Making matters worse for women's knees, especially among basketball players, is that women tend to "cut," or suddenly change direction, differently from men, said Micheli.

"There's more of a tendency for women to change direction on just one foot, maybe because of the width of the pelvis, while men often use two feet."

Wider hips also mean that there may be more "pull" on the kneecap, which can cause pain when running uphill. Kneecap cartilage also seems to wear down more in women than in men. And women's kneecaps slide around more from side to side, in part because women have more estrogen, which can make women's ligaments more flexible than men's.

Fortunately, solutions exist for these problems. One is better coaching for females - to teach them how to run, jump, land, and twist safely. Another is orthotics, devices that can be put in shoes to minimize stress on knee, ankle, and hip joints. And, of course, everyone should use appropriate safety equipment, such as thicker mats for gymnasts, helmets for cyclists, and headgear in soccer, which obviously benefit men as well as women.

Strength training, or weight lifting, is an absolute must for female athletes, just as for males, though the emphasis may be on different muscle groups. To help prevent knee injuries, for instance, female athletes need to work extra hard to build up a muscle on the inside of the knee called the vastus medialis and to build up hamstring muscles on the back of the thigh.

"We can't really change people's anatomy, but we can rebalance muscles with proper stretching, strength training, and orthotics," said Theodore of Mass. General.

It's clear that physical differences are not a reason to keep women from sports or from playing just as hard as men, said Laura Pappano, coauthor with Eileen McDonagh of "Playing with the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports." Pappano said her daughter, now 13, was told that girls play nine-hole golf while boys play a full 18.

"The idea that women are doomed because of injuries is just absurd," Pappano said. "The whole 'girls will get hurt' argument has done more to limit women than anything else."

I couldn't agree more. Regardless of your gender, get out there and play hard. But train hard, too. And be sure to get the excellent coaching you need to keep you safe.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

100 calorie packs

Nutritionist Chris Shugart had a nice article recently at T-Nation. My favorite part of the article was his rant on the infamous 100-calorie packs. Like him, I'm not a big fan. Here's what he had to say (pardon the cursing):
"Shit is Shit: A Rant"

So my kiddo and I are doing some grocery shopping earlier this week, picking up some things for me to pack in her lunch. She grabs some of those 100 calorie snack packs and tells me she wants them because they're "healthy."

So, we spent the next few minutes talking about portion control and why those 100 calorie snack packs are still just candy, albeit in smaller quantities. (Since we were both on Heelies in a Super Wal-Mart, this was actually more fun than it sounds.)

And this reminded me of a pet peeve of mine — eating shit foods and justifying it because you're only eating a little shit, not a lot of shit.

Well, shit is shit.

Portion control is about as effective of a fat loss method as the "I'll only put it in a little" method of teenage virginity preservation. Most human beings, especially those who are clearly over-fat, can't eat just a little of a delectable food. No fat person eats a single Oreo and walks away. They ought to list the serving size as per row of cookies, rather than per cookie. That would be more realistic.

Now we have this nonsensical "100 calorie" switcharoo going on. My gripe is twofold:

1) It's still shit. It's still bad for you. It'll still wreck your health, shorten your life, and turn you into an ugly naked person. It's not healthy just because it's served by the tiny handful.

My daughter gets it now, but do fat adults? Do they want to get it, or will they willingly suspend their dietary disbelief and convince themselves they're not eating shit so that they can enjoy said shit even more?

2) Wouldn't you rather eat a whole bunch of nutritious, healthy, great-tasting food rather than a handful of shit?

Well, you can. You can whip up your own meals that are nutrient dense and calorie sparse: plenty of protein, fiber, healthy fats, and other good stuff, but not that many calories. That way you can eat a lot, get full, and still have abs. Better than a handful of Oreo "crisps," huh?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Why Free Weights?

Just wrote this piece for my health club. Hope you enjoy:

1. Mimic Daily Movement Patterns- Show me a machine that can mimic carrying grocery bags, picking up your little ones, or putting an object onto a shelf in your pantry. Simply put, machines don’t mimic activities of daily living (ADLs) as well as their free weight counterparts. Machines are less like real-life activities, since they typically provide a great amount of support in a coordinated fashion and don’t challenge you the same way free weights (dumbbells, barbells) do.

2. Body Position- Take a look around at the strength training machines in the gym. Do you see the same thing I see? Almost everyone it SITTING DOWN! We know we’re too sedentary as a society and need to get off our butts and start engaging them. The best exercises (squats, push-ups, pull-ups to name a few) are all done without sitting and offer incredible benefits. One of the reasons we lose so much of our glute (buttocks muscles) function as we age is because we’re sitting on something we should be using. You sit all day at work, in the car on the way here, and at home on the couch. Why are you sitting at the gym?!?!

3. Diversity- Free weights take up less space, are A LOT less expensive, and require minimal maintenance. In addition, machines are typically specific to one exercise. For example, too many people flock to the seated chest press machine. Sure it may improve upper body pushing strength, but not nearly as much as dumbbell bench presses. Furthermore, I can create a routine of over 100 exercises performed with those dumbbells. How many exercises can you do on that chest press machine- one! ‘Nuff said. Ditch the machine and pick up a pair of dumbbells for a more challenging, diverse routine.

How NOT to use a Swiss Ball

I gotta admit- I love the loud SMACK as he hits the floor. Serves him right.

Great message

You have no way of knowing how or when all the things you do will come back to you. What you can know is that they will.
Some obscure and seemingly useless fact you learn today could end up playing a major role in your life next week, or five years from now. Some small favor that you do tomorrow may come back to you in a few months as a grand opportunity.
You never know exactly how life will reflect back the face you present to it. Yet eventually, and quite faithfully, it does come back to you.
The value that you put into life becomes the value that you experience from life. The more love you give, the more love you are able to know.
Your words do not end when you speak them, and your actions do not stop when you've completed them. They go out into life and begin connecting you with the people, circumstances and things that resonate with those words and actions of yours.
Live as though the things you do, in one way or another, will come back to you. For you can be certain that they will.

-- Ralph Marston

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Randy Pausch: "The Last Lecture"

I posted Randy Pausch's famous "The Last Lecture" speech a while ago when he was Oprah, but I felt it was a link worthy of re-posting. In addition, he is also on the cover of this week's Parade Magazine. The link for the Parade story and corresponding powerful lecture is as follows:

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Air Dyne link

After reading my recommendation, a lot of people asked me where to go to pick up an Air Dyne bike. The link is as follows:

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

PBS Special

On April 16th, PBS will be airing "The Truth About Cancer." Having plenty of Kleenex on hand is a no brainer for this one. Here's a sneak preview: