Your Brain LOVES the Gym

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Sleep Disorders- Facts and Exercise/Techniques

In this article, we are talking about sleep. Facts and a new sleep exercise. REMINDER: This article is not a substitute for the sound medical advice of your primary care provider. Did you know that at least 25% of all American adults suffer from insomnia? The true cost of the lack of sleep is as follows (according to The Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center):

  • Direct costs of sleepiness and lost productivity on the job is estimated between $16-$20 BN (USD) annually.
  • Drowsy drivers account for at least 125,000 to 150,000 crash incidents reported by police annually in the U.S. alone.
  • At least 45-50 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders- and at least 75% of these go undiagnosed.

 

Sleep is very important. Though the body and mind have monitoring and defense mechanisms to keep the body aware of surroundings during sleep, the true purpose of sleep is to reboot the brain and heal from tiredness, stress or even small injuries. If you’re anxious, overcaffeinated, stressed out it can and is very difficult to get the sleep you need and deserve, especially when you are dead tired.

There is a sleep exercise that has been reported to help. The 4-7-8 Method, formulated by one Andrew Weil M.D.. Dr. Weil is a pioneer in integrated medicine using holistic healing methods. The 4-7-8 Method is as follows:

  • Breathe out. Assume a comfortable position in your bed (or anywhere), Breathe out slowly, puckering your lips as if you’re about to whistle, making a soft “whoosh” sound.
  • Inhale and count to four. After exhaling, close your mouth, inhale and count to four (a slow count- thousand-one, thousand-two, and so on)
  • Hold your breath and count to seven. As much as possible, hold your breath until you reach a seven count. If you can’t reach that… try a four or five-count- but build it up to the seven count.
  • Exhale and count to eight. Exhale. Pucker up and exhale again, this time to an eight-count.

 

 

NOTE: Remember to use your nose to inhale and exhale out of the mouth. Keep the ratio at 4-7-8 while doing this exercise. Don’t worry if you can’t get 4-7-8 the first few times. Keep at it until you achieve 4-7-8. This relaxes the body and makes it much easier to fall asleep.

This technique and others like it are “natural tranquilizers”.

As always, consult your primary care provider before starting this or any other health maintainence regimen.

 

 

REFERENCES

About Dr. Andrew Weil M.D. http:// www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART2043/AbcAndrew-Weil-MD.html

Breathing: Three Exercises. http://drweil.com/drw/u/ART00521/three-breathing-exercises.html

https://lungcenter.osu.edu/specialtyprograms/s;eepmedicine/factsaboutsleepdisorders

Depression in Humans: What are the differences and HOW to defeat it

 

 

Is depression different amongst humans, whether they be male, female or nonbinary? In so many words, yes. As far as symptom patterns tend to play out, they will usually fall in line with the two major genders. For women, the symptoms are more readily visible (i.e. crying, overeating) as for men, the symptoms are more subdued (i.e. working to excess, drinking/abusing drugs, working out to excess). In any case, the symptoms of depression may in fact hit men harder due to lifestyle choices and extracurricular activities.

Here are the top 5 signs of depression for men:

  • Self-medication (abuse of controlled substances, abuse of alcohol and abuse of medications)
  • Escapism (working more, working out to excess, retreating into more ‘childlike’ pastimes such as video gaming, LARP, etc)
  • Irritability
  • Risk-taking becoming a regular part of life (reckless driving, driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol)
  • Becoming controlling, violent and/or abusive

 

 

Studies show that women are 3X as likely than men to be diagnosed with depression than men are and are at least 2X as likely to seek treatment for it. Here is a list of the top 7 causes/triggers for depression in women:

 

  • Puberty (biological and social fallout from it- not fitting in, body image, etc)
  • Premenstrual difficulty
  • Pregnancy
  • Postpartum depression
  • Perimenopause/menopause
  • Trials and tribulations of life itself
  • Accompanying conditions of depression (anxiety, substance abuse and/or eating disorders)

 

Why the differences?

 

Obviously with traditional gender roles for the main two genders being as they are, women are afforded more avenues to get help and to communicate their feelings. Men are taught to “man up”, to be “strong” and to shun help. For men, them seeking help is often a result of not being able to function correctly (in some cases not at all) as the symptoms of depression interfere with life itself.

 

What to do about it

 

Whether you’re male, female, nonbinary or anywhere within the gender spectrum, the treatment for depression is a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Please know that it will take some research, patience and working with your mental health provider to develop the action plan to defeat depression. You and your mental health provider will have to figure out what works and what doesn’t work moving forward. As for the side effects of the medication(s), most of the side effects will go away on their own, usually within the first 3-6 weeks of taking them. As always, listen to your body and alert your mental health provider in lieu of any complications.

 

 

SOURCES

Gorman, J.M. “Gender Differences in depression and response to psychotropic medication”. Gender medicine 3.2 (2006): 93-109

Winkler, Dietmar et al. “Gender-specific symptoms of depression and anger attacks”. The Journal of Men’s Health & Gender 3.1 (March 2006): 19-24

“Male Depression: Understanding the Issues”. Mayo Clinic (2013)

“Depression In Women: Understanding the Gender Gap”. Mayo Clinic (2016

Best Exercises for Teens

BEST EXERCISES FOR TEENS

This article is about the teenagers. That period of rapid growth and maturity. Experimentation and lessons learned. It can also be about fitness and wellness, which is right in our wheelhouse. Do you (as a parent, coach or teacher) have a teen who is not really adjusting well to fitness? Maybe he/she is a hardgainer, or the teenager has a very low metabolism. I have a list of very easy (and very good exercises that can help turn the tide in the favor of fitness) exercises that can make a difference in a teen’s life. As always, seek the advice of a physician. This article is not a substitiute for sound medical advice or opinion. Now, the list.

The best exercise routine consists of three basic components: 1) aerobics, 2) strength training and 3) flexibility/ stretching.
Aerobics: aerobic exercises quicken your heart rate and breathing, and are good for your heart.
Some great aerobic exercises are: rowing, basketball, lacrosse, hockey, soccer, swimming, running, dancing, tennis, biking and boxing.

 

Strength training: strengthening your muscles allow you to be able to increase your endurance. Also, muscle burns fat better, so the more muscle you have, the more calories you can burn.
Pull-ups, push-ups, rowing, running, squats, crunches, biking, any type of weight lifting
Flexibility: A flexible person has a lower chance of getting sprains and strained muscles
Dance, ballet, martial arts, yoga, Pilates, gymnastics
How do I know what exercise is best for me?
Pick something that you find interesting – if you hate running, don’t run!!!
Do you like to work out alone? Or with a group of people?
Ask a coach or gym teacher how you can get involved with a certain activity or sport
Talk to a doctor if you are unsure whether a certain exercise plan is right for you
Why is exercise so good for you?
Exercise produces brain chemicals called endorphins that make people feel happy
Exercise helps people sleep better (just don’t work out right before you want to sleep!)

It keeps your body at a healthy, managable weight
Lowers your risk for certain diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure
Keeps your bones strong – so no osteoporosis when you are older!
Helps you lose weight

How much exercise should I be getting?
Experts recommend that teenagers work out for at least one hour every day. The exercise should be “moderate to vigorous”.
Is there such thing as exercising too much?
Yes, and it is called compulsive exercise. Because teenagers’ bodies are still developing, they need enough calories to support that process. Exercising too much burns all the calories necessary to develop and function properly. Too much exercise is also a sign of a possible eating disorder. It is also possible to train too much for a certain sport. High school athletes should not train more than five days a week, and should have two or three months of rest per year. It is not recommended that you exercise with an injury – it will only retard the healing process.

Also, exercise is a great way for teens to discover things about themselves, socialize with others and to be able to see themselves in a different way. In closing, with the obesity epidemic in America today really hitting the teens hard, exercise for teens should be mentioned as a way to help them build for the future. Exercising is free, and should be a basic part of anyone’s life, especially for teens. THE BASICS ALWAYS WIN.

MENTAL TOUGHNESS

In keeping with The Total Self, this article is a continuation of an earlier article I have written about this topic.I have spoken about mental toughness on oregonsportsnews.com, my own blogs and other social media platforms. I have given speeches about this also. The number one thing I believe that is holding people back in life other than broken focus and a solid plan (plus the willingness to execute) is a lack of mental toughness. It is not necessarily a bad thing that most people are not “hard”. You need people who are a tad softer, normal people in this world. This world would be in bad shape if it were just “Type As” all over the place. But you can learn from the Type A. Learn how to not let things stop you, how not to be a victim, and how not to allow things that have tormented you for years have any more control over you.
Mental Toughness has many definitions and is not limited to athletic performance and pain tolerance. I have known many men and women throughout my life who I would define as “mentally tough”. From an 85 year old gardener to a high school football friend, who it seemed neither ever had a bad day. Much of mental toughness is simply attitude and self-determination. If you do a quick search online on the subject, you will see a variety of mental toughness techniques, articles, stories of remarkable physical performances to brave acts of heroism overcoming insurmountable odds and fear.
On a personal note, mental toughness is a way of life. It is quite simple to me. To not allow any voices, anyone or anything to stand in the way of my goals. To be able to withstand setbacks, controvesy and many other troubles that life throws our way.

For the purposes of this site and its readers, I will also say that through somewhat challenging workouts and introspection and study of this topic, you will cultivate a mentally tough mindset. Again, my philosophy works for ME. As I have often said in my articles, take what’s said and make it work for you. For example minutes of non stop punching in a boxer’s case. In my case, heavy lifting and running for miles will create increased energy levels and an increased pain tolerance through training in the pain zone. You really have to get the body to know what pain is so you can endure it longer. PAIN is not injury, but if you push too hard through pain you will be setting up for injury, so knowing your training limits is necessary as well. Studying mental toughness (or at least how others go over) will shed some light on what you may be lacking. On the days when you feel like crap and you have to WILL yourself to go to work or to hit the gym. THAT too is mental toughness. Persistence and determination are all factors as well. Other terms used to describe mental toughness is inspiration, self-motivation and confidence.

 

There are many examples of those who bring themselves out of horrible childhoods of poverty, neglect, and illness to become heroes, mentors, millionaires, and presidents. That takes mental toughness in MY book.

Mental Toughness! How do you get it? Are you born with it? Can you acquire it? Arguments to this question have occurred long before our modern world came about. I am of the opinion that through tough physical training, proper mindset, and a high level of maturity that mental toughness is born. This toughness is what propels you through the storms of life and all that brings How do you get that?

Take for example, the Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong. He had endured one of the toughest diseases by beating testicular cancer. After his battle with cancer, he came back mentally tougher and was once considered the greatest cyclist ever. Maybe he had it all along, who knows? Mental toughness is not measurable and is completely internal. But I believe hard work will get you there. When Lance Armstrong was asked by reporters “What are you on?” referring to performance enhancing drugs. Lance stated, “I am on my BIKE – busting my hump (paraphrased)for 6-8 hours a day!!”

So the question is do you get mental toughness by attending special workshops, or by being in the military/police or by playing sports? Is it by going through hard situations in life and learning from them? I would say the answer is a comination of all that. You can definitely become mentally tough by training and overcoming the trials and tribulations life brings, but ultimately it will be by the determination you make to be unstoppable and make the world a product of you.

I have seen a lot of people not win at life due to cracking under pressure. These daily gut checks that tend to make cowards of us all is something to behold. The pressures we all face tend to beat us down, and send us to our breaking points- that will cause us to lose focus and that’s how we fail. Not because of lack of talent, but because of broken focus. The break in focus becomes a turning point in your struggle/campaign.
This is the biggest difference in those who win in life and who do not. Everyone will have their nemesis or weakness. The key is to BECOME someone who rises to the occasion. Someone who will plow right through very arduous situations and come out with their heads held high. To deal with setbacks and not let them affect you.
In closing, I would like to say that Mental Toughness is definitely one of the basics. One of the master keys to winning in life. THE BASICS ALWAYS WIN!!!

Beating Procrastination

Procrastination… killer of dreams. Procrastination… killer of hopes. All by simply doing nothing. Simply by what’s called “active avoidance” (doing something in the place of the thing you set out to do due to fear, etc). Procrastination is a problem in every field, killing productivity, slowing growth in companies, ending some companies. Yes, procrastination is a problem. But how do you solve it? It’s a learned trait, but how to understand and defeat it?
I have compiled a list of 8 ways to beat procrastination. Basic steps- the basics always win. Basic steps that make a big difference. Before we delve into the list of ways to defeat procrastination, we must define it. Procrastination is the practice of putting off urgent tasks in favor of more pleasureable ones, thus effectively not doing the thing you set out to do in the first place.

All in all, procrastination is not laziness. It is a way that seems to be easier for one who is under stress. In the end, procrastination costs. It costs you (depending on the situation) time, it costs you all kinds of things you value and hold dear. In a lot of ways, Procrastination is insidiously easy. It can become a mindset of putting things off. That is the wrong mindset if you consider yourself a man or woman of action. Procastination can strip you of motivation, it can strip you of effectiveness, creativity and even honesty/integrity. It is dangerous to allow procrastination in your life.

Now… here’s the good news. Procrastination can be beat. YES. But what say you.Are you willing to try? This list I compiled will no doubt help you get to where you need to go. Procrastination is a force, but nothing, and I mean NOTHING is as powerful as the force of the human spirit. Here is the list:

 

1. Focus on an area in which you find procrastination most problematic (getting in shape, homework, doing reports for work).
2. Begin small and progress as you experience success. Be patient. Establish your own deadlines. Be realistic in setting a timetable. Hold yourself to the deadlines.
3. Break the project into smaller parts. Chip away at it in small bites. Don’t wait for that “big chunk” of time.
4. Set a definite beginning time. Break the inertia of inactivity. If getting started is especially troublesome for you, set a time for 10 or 15 minutes. Commit yourself to doing something on the project until the timer rings. Then you can decide whether to stop or continue. Chances are you will gain momentum and continue after the timer stops. If not, try another 10 minutes later in the day.
5. Do the most important things first. Avoid the distractions of the trivial and routine tasks when a higher priority job is waiting in the wings. Examining each task in light of your goals will help you set priorities.
6. Reward yourself for completing parts of a major task. It can be anything. Contract with yourself for a big reward for completion of important tasks. A pizza, sleeping extra late on a weekend, or shopping for something may help motivate you to complete the job. Be nice to yourself.
7. Establish a “Commitment to Excellence”. Excellence is a sufficient level of performance for most things in life, and for many tasks (a new hobby, cleaning your room) adequacy is all that is necessary. Give yourself permission to be less than perfect. A good garden may have some weeds. You might double the amount of time spent typing a paper, attempting to get the spelling perfect. Could that extra time be better spent in another activity which will gt you over the hump? Maybe so.
8. Procrastination is a learned habit, and can be defeated with a more constructive habit, giving your greater control over your life. If procrastination has limited your achievements, do something about it now!

Help for Hardgainers

This article is dedicated to the ‘hardgainers’. You know those guys who cannot get any muscle size no matter how much they eat, no matter what they do. I have 10 tips that can help.
As always, see your primary healthcarre provider before starting any fitness regimen. This site and the advice given here does not relace sound medical advice or opinion. Now the list.

1) 60 Minutes or less. Keeping your training under an hour will defeat the killer of many hypertrophic hopes and dreams- you guessed it, overtraining. Overtraining is a killer. Destroyer of gains due to overzealousness. Keeping your training under 60 minutes is a sure way to make overtraining irrelevant to you.
2) Become a member of the ‘Clean Your Plate Club’. Yes… eating has everything to do with building muscle mass. No matter what you eat, for the hardgainer- eating is and should be a habit. Without those extra calories, how will you gain that extra muscle mass you long after?
3) Stop relying on supplements. We all know that suplements are great. Supplements get the job done in ways that you couldn’t on your own. In this case, however, lay off most (not all) supplements. It’s a safe bet to only focus on supplements that will help with your gains (more on that later).
4) Take it Easy. Aside from this being a truism of life, this shuld be a goal for those of you seeking to put on muscle mass. Cutting out stress triggers (situations, people) will help your central nervous system do its job better and more effectively.

5) Overload on Calories. For the hardgainer, caloric intake is the name of the game. In fact, it is something that will dominate this article (as it dominates the hardgainer’s thoughts). Eat, eat, eat some more.
6) Think Progress. As mentioned above, your workouts should really be under an hour if even that. The main thing is to make sure you are progressing at a workout.
Now some things will work for a while and you may see some results. But if you want to gain weight, you’re better off focusing on progressing in either the number of reps or an increase in weight lifted within your main program.
7) Rep Range: The Right Mix! Keep the rep range between 6-8 repetitions. Outside of that, you risk overtraining (that will decimate any gains you have made).

8) Use a Mass Gainer. Remember me saying earlier about how most supps are not to be relied upon? This is why. You have mass gainers that are made just for increasing appetite or simply packing on extra pounds. Mass gainers are fantastic for hardgainers because it will slow metabolism somewhat. Metabolism is the hardgainer’s ‘frenemy’.

9) Hit the Buffet. Once a week…. hit a buffet line. Load it up, eat, eat and eat some more. Besides, buffets are cheap and you can eat all you want.

10) Slow it Down! Lastly, is a concept powerlifters and strength athletes have been using for the longest. Slow the pace of your reps down and use frequent breaks in your sets. Also you need to focus on the big presses ( e.g. bench press and squats). The concept of slowing your rep pace down will have an effect of building big muscle, just not lean muscle. The breaks will give the muscle time to grow. Visualization is another great trick you need in your ‘gainer arsenal’.

In closing, the hardgainer has the metabolism the rest of us want. The trade-off for the hard gainer… a great metabolism, but he cant gain muscle weight/size/mass for anything. These tips will get the hardgainer on the road to mass and strength, just as he has dreamt of.