For First Time Lifters…

It’s a new year. For those people who are picking up lifting for the first time, whether it’s at a gym, a class or at home…

  • Study. In my opinion, the best way to get the results always starts with a good working knowledge of lifting, what it does to the body and mind and most importantly, what lifting can do for all other parts of your life as well.
  • Listen to your body. In the past, I’ve often listed this last (as in most important). For this year, I’m putting it second. Obviously we’re all different. Our individual bodies respond to lifting, fitness in a different way than anyone else. Again, be studious to listen to your body. Take notes if need be. Get all you can from it.
  • Enjoy yourself. In the past, I’ve approached this topic as a Drill Sergeant would- with the accompanying intensity, spit flying, etc. Not for 2021. This year I want all of you to enjoy lifting, to fall in love with it as I did. The gym saved my life. I think fondly of how I found myself in sweat, banging away in the gym. Those 4+ hour workouts had shown me what I was made of. It will be the same for you, of course to a varying degree.
  • Don’t discount the element of fun while learning how to lift, how to eat, etc.

In summation, let this be the beginning of something great. Don’t limit the changes just to the gym. Let it be a process you introduce for the rest of your life as well.

Knowledge, awareness and action. Three very important basics to have and to master.


What 3 Common Food Cravings may be telling You REPOST (all credit to

What These 3 Common Food Cravings Are Trying to Tell You

By Kim Conte Updated February 3, 2020 Fact Checked

Sometimes listening to your food cravings is better than brushing them off. When you’re craving french fries, a chocolate shake or a juicy steak, that simply means you want to eat these delicious foods and you want them now, right? Not necessarily.

According to Tiffany Mendell, RDN, CDN, a New York-based registered dietitian-nutritionist, there are several physiological reasons behind your cravings. The severity and frequency of your food hankerings can be affected by a combination of unhealthy lifestyle factors, such as being dehydrated, lack of sleep and an unbalanced diet.Making sure that you get enough healthy fat, protein and complex carbohydrates to satisfy you is important for keeping cravings at bay. Stress can also play an important role: “It’s hypothesized that cortisol — one of the body’s stress hormones — may potentiate the reward system in the brain with food and cravings, making it more difficult for a person to resist a craving,” Mendell tells

And, of course, insufficient sleep can also have an effect by altering the body’s hunger hormones and causing us to produce more of a hormone called ghrelin (which increases hunger and appetite) and less leptin (aka the satiety hormone), according to a March 2016 study published in the journal Sleep.

Read on to find out what’s possibly behind your cravings, and how you can honor them in a way that’s good for your body

1. If You’re Craving Salty Foods, You May Be DehydratedClose-up of friends eating during an outdoor dinnerBefore you reach for another chip, trying drinking a glass of water. Whether it’s because you drank too much alcohol last night, are on a long flight or another thirst-inducing situation — can come with some serious cravings for salt.”Sodium is a major electrolyte in the body; electrolytes (which are minerals) help to maintain fluid balance in the body,” Mendell says. “Dehydration is essentially a loss of electrolytes and fluid that can occur from excess sweating, heavy alcohol intake or vomiting/diarrhea. So a craving for salt could indicate dehydration as the body is looking to restore electrolyte and fluid balance. “Additionally, some research has shown that salt cravings can indicate mild calcium deficiency in the body, according to the Institute of Medicine. However, more research needs to be done in order to solidify the connection between salt cravings and a need for calcium-rich foods.A Healthy Way to Satisfy Your CravingGood choices for salty food cravings include dried seaweed, tomato juice, salted almonds or broth. 2. If You’re Craving Fatty Foods, You May Need More Sleepfish and chips fried cod, french friesGoing to sleep too late might cause you to crave fried foods. As Mendell explained, not catching enough zzzs can alter the body’s hunger hormones, ghrelin and leptin. There’s also research showing that sleep deprivation can cause a person to eat an average of 385 extra calories the next day, according to a November 2016 meta-analysis in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. What’s more, lack of sleep can have a direct effect on cravings — and one type of food in particular. “Insufficient sleep can also raise the blood level of chemical compounds called endocannabinoids,” Mendell says. “This increases the reward value of food and causes cravings for high-fat, calorie-dense foods.” If you typically struggle with intense food cravings, try to focus on improving your sleep habits and hygiene.

If you simply can’t resist your craving for your sweet treat of choice, try eating a small portion of it after eating a balanced meal first. And if you know you won’t be able to stick with a small piece, opt for some fresh fruit or a square of dark chocolate.

Read more: The 7 Best Sweet Snack Ideas to Beat Your Sugar CravingsThe Bottom Line on CravingsWhen it comes to resisting cravings, Mendell reminds us that it’s not always about willpower. In fact, foods that are high in sugar and salt — namely, processed foods — have a powerful effect on our brains and keep us wanting more. That’s why it’s so difficult for you to stop eating a bag of pretzels while a bag of carrots is an entirely different story. “Our taste buds are very malleable and repeated exposure tends to influence our taste buds to prefer certain foods,” she says.So if you want to stop craving processed foods high in sugar and salt, start with a diet of mostly unprocessed, whole foods, and your taste buds should adjust accordingly.

A Healthy Way to Satisfy Your CravingOpt for healthy fats such as avocado, nuts and nut butter, seeds and fish over fried foods.

3. If You’re Craving Sugary Foods, You May Need to Eat a More Balanced Diet. A diet too high in sugar and refined carbohydrates can cause intense cravings. Cravings can happen for a few reasons. “Repeated exposure to overly sweet foods skews people’s taste buds,” Mendell says. “It makes less sweet foods like fruit and vegetables seem less palatable.”This is particularly bad news for people who take in a lot of artificial sweeteners (think: diet sodas and sugar-free snack foods), which are 200 to 600 times sweeter than table sugar, per a June 2010 study in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine.Additionally, if your diet is too high in refined carbohydrates — which can cause a rapid spike and drop in blood sugar levels — you’ll crave sugary foods to raise your blood sugar again.

A Healthy Way to Satisfy Your Craving

The Total Self: Healers

By Kente’ E. Bates

September 17, 2020

NOTE: This article is NOT a substitute for sound medical advice. Please consult your Primary Care Provider for all things health/wellness related

Millions today are in pain- if you’re one of them, you can know that you don’t have to reach for over-the -counter pain killers, or even the heavy pharmaceutical hitters prescribed by your doctor- there are literally hundreds of natural pain killers waiting for you in the abundance of nature. Plants and herbs can alleviate everything from arthritis pain, to headaches, to burns – read on to find out more.

Among the many pharmaceutical pain medications, while effective and useful at times, can be a case of “the cure being worse than the disease”, given the myriad of side effects, there is another solution to your pain problem. After all, people from time immemorial have found the healing power of herbs and spices. Literally, if you have meds that work great, chances are you will be able to find a plant-based/herbal counterpart to it.

It is well-known that meds don’t always cure, curb or blunt pain. This is an ongoing problem that the medical community wishes it could have solved. The modern Western diet, being comprised of highly refined foods, sugars, and refined carbohydrates, while devoid of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc., is going to block the ability of other non-pharmaceutical remedies to halt pain. Before you do anything else though, you’re going to have to quit eating the junk food that will trigger the body’s pain system.

Once you’ve done that, you can turn to the many herbs that truly deliver. There are also over 60 different essential oils for pain that have analgesic properties. Analgesic means that a substance has shown to relieve or reduce pain. So many plants have pain-relieving properties.

This short list has some outstanding choices:

1., 2., and 3. Ginger, Turmeric, & Holy Basil – This set of herbs forms a sort of trinity in Ayurvedic medicine. All of them have anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric (a curry ingredient) contains curcumins which ease inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, according to the Methodist Research Institute in Indianapolis. “Each herb has its own scientific database of evidence,” says James Dillard, MD, author of The Chronic Pain Solution.

4. Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) – This ominous sounding herb is a godsend for treating numerous health conditions, among them are liver problems and heart burn. It also has anti-inflammatory effects and can reduce pain from arthritis, headaches, and low back discomfort. The University of Maryland Medical Center has published several studies that had great success treating Osteoarthritis with Devil’s Claw.

5. Birch Leaf (Betula Lenta) – The leaves from the Birch tree act much like cortisone, a prescription drug used to treat endocrine disorders, arthritis, lupus, skin disease, autoimmune disorders, and more. A main chemical compound found in Birch leaves is methyl salicylate, similar to salicylic acid used in aspirin. It is anti-spasmodic, analgesic, astringent, antifungal, diuretic, detoxifying, reduces oxidative damage to skin (stopping wrinkles), and enhances circulation. It also promotes enzymatic secretions in the body. It is truly one of the first powerful pain-relievers ever used.

6. Wintergreen Essential Oil – Also among natural pain relievers, Wintergreen Essential Oil contains 85-99% of methyl salicylate, the same component of aspirin.

7. White Willow Bark (Salix alba) –  The active ingredient in white willow is salicin, which the body converts into salicylic acid. This tree’s covering lowers the body’s levels of prostaglandins, hormone-like compounds that can cause aches, pain, and inflammation. What’s more, white willow bark doesn’t upset the stomach or cause internal bleeding like many over-the-counter aspirins. Turn to this herb for relief from menstrual cramps, muscle pains, arthritis, or after knee or hip surgery as it promotes blood flow and reduces swelling.

8. Capsaicin (Capsicum) – Found in hot chile peppers, this natural remedy does wonders for pain. Capsaicin, the active pain-reducing ingredient, temporarily desensitizes nerve receptors called C-fibers which cause the pain response. Capsaicin also diminishes soreness for 3 to 5 weeks while the C-fibers regain sensation. A single 60-min application in patients with neuropathic pain produced effective pain relief for up to 12 weeks. Patients at the New England Center for Headache decreased their migraine and cluster headache intensity by applying capsaicin cream to their nasal passages.

9. Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA) – GLA can be found in numerous seed oils. According to University of Maryland, people who consume these essential fatty acids are able to reduce nerve pain associated with diabetic conditions.

10. Cherries – Due to the presence of compounds called anthocyanins—the same phytonutrients that give cherries their rich ruby hue – you can count on cherries to tamp down pain. Muraleedharan Nair, PhD, says, “They block inflammation and they inhibit pain enzymes, just like aspirin, naproxen, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories.” Cherries are said to have the highest anti-inflammatory content of any food, making them great for remedying issues such as arthritis.

11. Aquamin – Derived from red seaweed, aquamin is a powerful pain reducer, too. In a study published in Nutrition Journal, of 70 volunteers, Aquamin users reduced arthritis pain by 20% in a month and had less stiffness than patients taking a placebo. Helping to diminish inflammation and helps to build bone, aquamin is rich in both calcium and magnesium, too.

12. Arnica – An excellent herbal rub to use after intense sports, an acute injury, or even post surgery, arnica is a well-known natural pain killer among athletes and yogis. It is derived from a European flower, and has anti-inflammatory properties, although the true nature of its healing action is still unknown.

13. Peppermint (Mentha piperita) – Peppermint is most often used as a natural remedy for toothaches, discomfort from bloating and gas, joint conditions, skin irritations, headaches and muscle pain.

14. Boswellia – This herb is sourced from the frankincense tree. Its resin is used to thwart chemical reactions that cause inflammation, and thus pain. Ayurvedic scientists have used Boswellia for centuries to treat arthritic conditions, as well as inflammatory bowel disease.

15. Bromelain – This natural pain-reducer comes from the enzymes present in pineapple stems. Research shows that it reduces levels of prostaglandins, which are hormones that induce inflammation. Bromelain may benefit people with arthritis and conditions marked by musculoskeletal tension (like TMJ syndrome), in addition to those suffering trauma-related inflammation. The enzyme also promotes healing in muscles and connective tissues.

16. Cranberry Juice – Ulceritis giving you the blues? Ulcers usually result from a pathogen called H. pylori which attacks the lining of the stomach and small intestines, but cranberry juice can kill it – reducing pain. Instead of turning to antibiotics, destroy the bacteria causing your ulcers and urinary tract infections with cranberries.

As stated before, there are hundreds more, but this short list is a good start.

In closing, it is good to always seek alternative means of help. In our day and age, a more holistic approach can work wonders. This is a great way to really find out what works with your body and what doesn’t. As usual, knowledge is one of the “master keys” in winning- not just in our personal fitness goals, but in life in general. Knowledge is one of the “must haves” to having success in life. Knowledge is one of the essential basics.



Dillard, James M.D. “The Chronic Pain Solution”. Penguin/Random House, 2003.

Life is Lived Out There 2

Last month, I had broadcast a short show talking about how “life is lived out there”. This is the written form of that.

REMINDER: This blog and the advice given on it is not a substitute for any diagnoses, advice recommendations by a licensed medical professional. Please consult your Primary Medical Provider for all things health/wellness related.

For all intents and purposes, in these times of shutdowns, riots and fear, people have every right to be afraid and to retract somewhat. I offer up a different treatise: GET BACK OUT THERE. LIFE IS LIVED OUT THERE. Will you allow a virus, some riots and fear to totally change the way you live? Why? Life is meant to be lived. You are not meant to be a spectator (which is what most people tend to do anyway) in your own life. Yes, it’s a bit shop-worn, hackneyed and stale. It’s worth repeating though… Life is lived out there. I encourage you not to give in to fear. I encourage you to get out there and live life- life doesn’t stop, time doesn’t stop. Fear truly is a mindkiller.

Lastly, make a commitment to do something everyday to make life a bit more memorable. Since I am talking to a mostly American audience, I will say this… You are where everyone else wants to be. People are literally risking their lives to get here. You are where they want to be, so try to enjoy what others are longing for. Whatever it is that makes you happy, whatever your passion, poison and/or position, religion all the way down to even tradition… do that. Do it “to death”.

Life is lived out there.