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

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!!!

The Total Self: How to Diet

In the spirit of “The Total Self” motif, I present a new view on dieting: How to pick one that will work best for you? We are in an era of unprecedented information about fitness, dieting and everything in between. We are also in the midst of the greatest obesity epidemic across all age groups in America ( by 2020, 76% of ALL Americans will be either obese or overweight). Almost everyday, the average person sees umpteen commercials about fitness (usually about weight loss). These body-image centric commercials sure put a lot of doubt in people’s heads about fitness and what it really means to be healthy. Almost all the emphasis centers around losing enough weight to look like a model. In this article, I will present at least 10 ways to pick the best diet for you… or to create one. Yes, you do not have to follow self-proclaimed fitness gurus, trainers, etc. As always, see a physician before starting any weight-loss regimen. Listen to your body. Now, the list.
1) If it’s not fun, don’t do it. Almost all health/wellness professionals agree that if you are not having fun and seeing results on your fitness regimen, you probably will not stick with it. Simply because some PAID model/athlete is endorsing a product on television (or some other form of media) does not mean that the much-ballyhooed product will even work. Of course, not every diet/weight loss plan is structurlly, scientifically sound (or makes sense). You also have to have a sense of satisfaction as a motivator to do the thing.

2) Evaluate the plan. Does it work? Is it faddish? Do you like what you see in it? Are you able to fit your lifestyle in the workout/diet plan? Conversely, can you fit said workout/diet plan into your lifestyle? Please consider all of these things before trying the “latest and greatest” diet or workout you may hear about, see or read somewhere.

3) Do not rely SOLELY on supplements: Supplements are great, but relying solely on them is not a good idea. As with anything else in life, moderation is key. You can even overdose on water (hyperhydration). Moderation is key. Use your head. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.
4) Include exercise. Yes, all the carb-counting, label-reading goodness you do will never amount to much without exercise. Be sure it’s something you can handle and make it fun.
5) Eat your favorite meals and snacks (in moderation please). Yes, I said it. SACRILEGE, some will say. All jokes aside, you have to make the diet regimen tenable. This is definitely a way. Just don’t over-indulge in it. This defeats the purpose of dieting in the first place. Splurging on a “guilty pleasure” is just fine. Moderation is key.
6) Make a maintainence plan. Now that you’ve lost the weight, or are about to embark on your life-changing fitness plan… make sure you have a maintainence plan. A maintainence plan is sure to keep the pounds/inches off. Now that you have achieved ‘the look”, a maintainence plan will keep you looking sharp. The hardest part is indeed maintaining the achieved goal.
7) Be a tortoise, not a hare. You must keep a slow, steady pace when losing weight (or sculpting your body). Anything else is unhealthy. Don’t risk your life over a few extra vanity pounds. Don’t fool yourself.
8) Allow snacks between meals. Yes, more about food. Snacking is important. Snacking done healthily will curb cravings, thus keeping you in line with your fitness goals. Snacking done healthily will make the difference in you meeting your fitness goals or not. It also will be better for you health-wise.

9) Include all the food groups. Your body is a temple, the original machine (LaMettrie, 1748), the covering of your vital organs. Treat it right. Eating food from all the food groups is a sure way to ensure your way to the “promised land” of fitness is a sure-footed one. Treat your body right. Eating from all the food groups will help your body function as it should.
10) Leave room for improvement. Every diet has flaws in it. Who says it has to stay that way? Educate yourself, get to know your body. Tweak your diet based on your needs at the particular time. A constant of life is change and growth. So should your fitness journey.

In closing, I trust that these tips will help. These tips are essential to help you get what YOU need, not what the fitness pros want you to have. You have only one life… why not diet, exercise in the best way… YOURS.

Is Fitness One Size Fits All?

With all the science, rumor, old wives tales and nonsense in and about the fitness world,  I feel as if fitness has been neglected. I have to ask, where does the individual fit in? All of the advice, all of the diets, workouts and all that- where does the individual fit in? Why is fitness all about looks? This fitness thing should be about health. It should be about wellness- being well-adjusted, physically centered and so on. Fitness should not be what it is  represented as today. It is not what fitness should be. In my opinion, fitness is not one size fits all. The fitness industry has people believing that if you’re not looking like some fitness model, you’re not healthy. That is wrong. EveryBODY (no typo there) is different. Fitness is not one size fits all. Unfortunately, people put way too much stock into looks and not enough stock into being physically, mentally and spiritually fit.

With the obesity epidemic in America today (stats later on in paragraph), shouldn’t the focus for fitness be on weight management and overall health?

STATS

  1. More than 1/3 of all Americans (38%) are obese.
  2. Non-Hispanic Blacks have the highest obesity rates (48.5%), followed by Hispanics (44.5%).
  3. The cost of obesity (as of 2008 CDC reports) is/was $148 BN USD, with the average cost of healthcare for the obese being $1429 more than those not obese.

With all the stats I have laid out, where does this fit in?

Image result for fitness model pix

In my view, the fitness industry needs a reboot. The focus should be on the individual and to focus on making fitness fun again. Too much attention is given to junk science, gadgets, extreme workouts and all sorts of things that people will not buy into. Fitness should be all about feeling good and making yourself the best you can be. So many times, we have seen obese people in the gym getting mocked by some nubile kid who is posting selfies and facebooking. This is the kind of thing that hurts the image of the fitness industry look very, very bad.

funny picard meme why would you make fun of a fat person at a gym who is trying to do something about it

For fitness to be about the individual, there must be a cessation on junk science, all the gadgets, tips, tricks and bad advice. I contend there must be more of a customer service driven point of view. To have the trust of people and to (most of all) make people healthy and to change the world. We at the Halcyon Fitness Group are committed to bringing this sort of change. People need to have fun in this world, more now than ever- why not make fitness fun and more relaxed?

In closing, there needs to be a reset for the fitness industry. Fitness as we have described… does mean a “one size fits all”. People are different and that fact needs to be recognized. Fitness should mean different things to different people. Fitness does not have to mean one size fits all.

15 Ways for Success with Your Fitness Regimen

It’s now June… how many of you have kept with your New Year’s pledge to lose weight, perhaps turn your life around? If you’ve fallen off track, that’s no big deal (over 85% of Americans break their New Year’s pledges in under 45 days). In case any of you all need a refresher, or a plan to get over the hump (or just to stay the course), here is my list of 15 ways to have success with any fitness regimen. This is by no means a comprehensive list… but hopefully it will work for you. Now, the list.
There is no shortcut to ideal health (whatever that is for you), no magic pill that lets you hit your five-a-day target and no single exercise that gives you a shredded physique in minutes. It takes time, hard work and an educated approach to get in shape and stay in shape. Following these tips will make your fitness quest (and life) a whole lot easier.

1. Prepping for Success
The better path to a sound diet is found by using your weekends wisely. Use the extra time you have on your weekends to make large batches of healthy meals that you can portion up to cover at least a couple of midweek lunches and dinners, avoiding the certain death of your fitness goals via fast food.

2. Mix Up Your Exercise

Variety is – cliché alert! – the spice of life, and many sports and activities support each other in ways you won’t realise until you try it. For example, strength training for your legs and core will make you a better runner, while those addicted to dumbbells will find Pilates works muscles they’d never even considered.

3. Calibrate Your Fitness Technology
If you invest in a fitness tracker, don’t just sit back and assume that following the preset targets will lead you to glory. Adjust the steps, active minutes and calorie targets regularly to build on your progress, or make them more realistic if you never get close and have started to ignore them. If you don’t engage with your fitness tech, you’ll quickly discard it.

4. Add In Extra Activity
This one of the oldest tricks in the book: take the stairs not the escalator, or get off the bus a stop early and walk. Any activity is better than none, and will only encourage you to do more. And if you really want to up the ante, try sprinting up the stairs (safely) each time you take them – clinical studies found that short bursts of high-intensity stair-climbing can make a significant difference to your cardiorespiratory fitness.

5. Keep Tabs On Your Visceral Fat

You can be skinny on the outside (at least your arms and legs), but fat on the inside. Visceral fat is the type that builds up around your organs and often results in a pot belly. It’s linked with heart disease, several types of cancer and type 2 diabetes. Check your waist-to-height ratio (WtHR) to see if you’re at risk. Grab a piece of string and use it to measure your height, then halve it. If it doesn’t fit around your waist, get exercising – visceral fat is the first type to go when you start a health regimen.

6. Value Your Rest Days
When you start on a fitness kick, it’s tempting to exercise every day while motivation is high. This is a bad move, and one that may see your motivation flame out within weeks, because you’re always exhausted and won’t see the massive improvements you expect for your efforts. Why? You’re not giving your muscles the time and rest they need to recover and grow.

7. Up The Intensity If You’re Short On Time
Health and wellness experts still promote the 150 minutes of moderate activity a week minimum, but now offer an alternative option of 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week. That’s running or singles tennis, for example, rather than cycling or walking, which count as moderate. You can also mix the two, so 60 minutes of vigorous cardio plus 30 of moderate will do the trick also. Bear in mind the guidelines also demand strength exercises on two or more days a week alongside your aerobic activity.

8. Treat Your Body Right
Nothing derails a health kick as quickly as injury, as many serious injuries will start out as small ones- you may think it’s OK to push through. Scaling back the intensity for a few days is better than having to shut it down for a few months. If you have an urgent desire to hit the gym, target a different part of the body from the one that’s bothering you.

9. The Drive for Five
Eating at least five portions of fruit and veg a day should be at the cornerstone of your healthy diet plan. What’s not wise is getting in a rut and eating the same five every day, because different types of fruit and veg contain different vitamins and minerals. A good way to vary your five-a-day is to eat different colors, as the hue is a decent indication of the nutrients they contain.

10. Don’t Undervalue Your Sleep
There is tendency for people who sleep very little to brag about it, as if it’s an indication of their commitment to life. However, getting the full seven to eight hours is vital to a healthy lifestyle, as it provides the energy for your exercise and even influences dietary choices – a 2016 study found that in the day following a night of limited sleep, people ate an extra 385 calories on average. You don’t snooze, you lose.

11. Increase Your Cadence On Your Runs
If you are consistently picking up injuries when running, one change it’s definitely worth trying is to up your rate of strides per minute (your cadence). If you overstrike, thus taking fewer steps, you put extra pressure on your knee and hip joints. Try and take more steps, which means your feet will land more beneath your body, reducing the impact on your joints.

12. Give It Your All or Turn It Loose
The first time you try an exercise it’s very hard, but at least quite novel. The second time the novelty is gone, and it’s still hard, leading to the temptation to quit. Try it at least once more, as the third time is often the charm – when a sport or workout starts to become as enjoyable as it is tough.

13. Count Reps Backwards
This is a mental trick that might make resistance workouts a little easier. Counting down the reps means by the time it’s really hurting you’re at the 3,2,1 stage, which feels closer to the end than 8,9,10 or whatever target you’re going for. It won’t work for everyone, but it’s worth a try.

14. Make Full Use Of Your Street Furniture
Exercising outdoors is a great way to ensure you get your hit of vitamin D (if it’s sunny) as well as a good workout, and it doesn’t have to be all cardio. As well as the exercise machines that litter many parks, you can nearly always finds a bar or ledge for pull-ups, or a bench or wall to do dips on. Rarer treats can even include chains to use as ersatz TRX ropes.

15. Record Stats and Progress

Nothing builds motivation as efficiently as seeing signs of improvement, so make sure you keep some kind of record of your activity. It can be as simple as noting your record five-rep max or fastest 5K time, using either one of the many excellent fitness apps available or old-fashioned pen and paper.
In closing, these tips and tricks will help in your fitness goals. Knowledge is power. Knowledge is a fundamental building block in fitness and in life. Knowledge (alongside hard work and dedication) is the most essential of the basics. THE BASICS ALWAYS WIN!!

HOW TO GAIN STRENGTH- 5 RULES

HOW TO INCREASE STRENGTH- FIVE RULES

Strength is and always has been a goal for those who are avid fitness people. In today’s era, with the ever-increasing popularity of MMA-style training and CrossFit training, there has been a metamorphosis of the definition of strength. Gone are the days of 5’9″ 320-lb “strongmen” who could outlift you and OUTEAT you. Now it’s all about functionality combined with strength training. It is a huge win for the advocates of this type of training. It’s pretty evident that it works. It’s also a slam-dunk that it’s here to stay. Why not functional training? It is a more modern approach to training and it has the science to back it up.
On the other hand, there are some who will ask, “what about strength?” I am sure there are some of you out there who are looking to increase your strength without using steriods or any other PEDs let alone any sports nutrition products. Here are a few tips on how to increase strength without PEDs or changing your regimen or lifestyle.
When you are strength training, whichever day it is, always remember to take 30-45 seconds of rest between sets. Also in the same vein, slow the speed of the reps down. Let’s say your rep speed is on a 2-3 count. To gain strength, slow that down to about a 4-5 count. I must warn you to start at the weight your are currently using, then build up. No need to hurt yourself.
Another way to increase strength is to use supersets. if you have never heard of a superset, it is as follows: Let’s say you are working chest today. You’re doing cable crossovers at 30 lbs for 3 sets, 15-18 reps. To superset the exercise, you immediately do another exercise with no break… like wide-grip pushups at a similar rep speed and rep count. This way you will work all the muscle fibers and increase strength.

Another way to increase strength is to go all out. Challenging yourself with max reps at maximum intensity. This is an old-school technique that works. It is also very risky and the chances of injury are much higher than that of the aforementioned routines.
Lastly, use the science available to you. Learn your body. Know and learn what works best for you. Learn your limits. Fitness is not one size fits all. Strength is not one size fits all. Stay learning. Learning is a foundational component of increasing strength or anything else in life. Stay hungry. Never be satisfied with anything, if that’s your goal.

In closing, remember what I have laid out here:
1) Stay hungry
2) Be fearless, always try new things
3) Learn how your body works
4) Keep your goals in front of you.
5) Put the work in.

These five rules, as well as everything else I have given you will GUARANTEE success in your quest to gain strength. Not only will it guarantee success in your fitness goals, this will enhance your life in all other areas. It will make you a better person.