Posts Tagged ‘health’
When Pushing to the Point of Failure is Just Too Much…
it’s all in your head
For those of you who feel that pushing yourself to the point of muscle failure is just too much sometimes, there’s another study out that explains that too. In this study, researchers found that the old adage, “it’s all in your head” is true in that, typically, it’s your mind that limits you from pushing to failure, not your body. It’s taken more than a century for scientists to figure this out, and to explain how your brain works in conjunction with your body to ensure that you stop exercising before physical harm develops—a key to overall improvement in your exercise routine.
The study, which is aptly titled: “Fatigue is a Brain-Derived Emotion that Regulates the Exercise Behavior to Ensure the Protection of Whole Body Homeostasis,” explains that the fatigue you may experience when exercising vigorously is a mental or emotional regulator mechanism designed to protect your body from excessive harm. It may sound strange, but the explanation they offer is actually quite sensible. The authors write:
“An influential book written by A. Mosso in the late nineteenth century proposed that fatigue that “at first sight might appear an imperfection of our body, is on the contrary one of its most marvelous perfections. The fatigue increasing more rapidly than the amount of work done saves us from the injury which lesser sensibility would involve for the organism” so that “muscular fatigue also is at bottom an exhaustion of the nervous system.”
It has taken more than a century to confirm Mosso’s idea that both the brain and the muscles alter their function during exercise and that fatigue is predominantly an emotion, part of a complex regulation, the goal of which is to protect the body from harm…the CNS [central nervous system] regulates exercise specifically to insure that each exercise bout terminates whilst homeostasis is retained in all bodily systems.”
Furthermore, the idea that your athletic performance is based purely on your body’s physiological and metabolic responses appears to be false, according to this research, because “subconscious and conscious mental decisions made by winners and losers, in both training and competition, are the ultimate determinants of both fatigue and athletic performance.”
…as the article suggests, our perceived physical limitations are often “all in your head”. So the question is, is it necessary to push past the point of mental toughness?…that depends.
What is your exercise goal?…to lose some weight so that you look better in those jeans? Simply to improve overall health? Improve your fitness so you can run a marathon?
It may not be apparent, but exercising for maximal health or training for maximal fitness are two distinctly different objectives…let me explain. While of course training for a marathon or any other specific activity that requires a high level of ‘fitness’ is much better for your health than being a cigarette smoking couch potato, it is often NOT best for maximal health…training at intensity levels required for a high level of fitness is often very hard on your musculoskeletal, adrenal and cardiovascular systems.
So for you exercise zealots, if you’re like me and simply enjoy training for certain levels of ‘fitness’, as long as you are not pushing through physical pain, injuries or chronic fatigue, go for it…I understand what it can do for your mind and that goes a long way. However, if you are pounding away the miles and pushing through that knee and hip pain, or making sure you get to the gym come hell or high water, all in the name of improved ‘health’, you may want to reconsider your approach.
Most of us would answer a resounding, “YES”! However I would beg to differ…
On first impressions, a walk through your local grocery store seems to back up this claim …cheap, processed foods in every aisle and only small sections of fresh foods that are comparatively expensive.
However, while our food system is great at delivering sheer calories to the masses, it falls well short when it comes to supplying the specific nutrients everyone needs. In fact, research shows that it doesn’t even produce enough fruits and vegetables to supply every American with the recommended minimum daily number of servings of these essentials. Put another way, there aren’t enough whole foods to go around.
According to a study published in the journal Health Affairs, for the average American to change their eating habits to meet the governments recommendation for potassium alone would cost an extra $380. Getting enough Vitamin A and D costs another $255. Conversely, for every 1% increase in calories consumed from saturated fat, food costs drop $0.28 per meal. And for every 1% increase in calories gotten from sugar, you’ll save $0.07 per meal. No wonder so many people are eating junk, getting fat, and falling ill. All of this information seems to support the argument that eating healthy is too expensive for the short term budget…or not?
There are ways to eat healthy without resorting to a life of crime!
• Cook at home! The average American eats out 4-5 times per week. Even making the best choices at most restaurants is not nearly as healthy as a well planned meal at home, and will be much cheaper.
• Get a freezer…being able stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables while they are in season is a lot cheaper. The savings will pay for the freezer in no time.
• Shop in season…don’t eat apples in the summer or strawberries in the winter
• Focus on “super foods”…here are a few:
o Tumeric and other herbs and spices
o Wild salmon
o Raw nuts
o Pastured, organic eggs
• Grow your own…it’s as cheap and as healthy as it gets!
• Plan your menu, make a grocery list and don’t shop when you are hungry!
• Make soup from leftovers…you can do this with virtually anything!
Also, keep in mind the long term costs of eating unhealthy…health care costs the typical household $12,000-$15,000 per year! This is an estimate of the median cost of health care for households in this country, including all insurance premiums, employer contributions, co-payments, Medicare and Medicaid taxes and everything else. 80% of all health care is reactive…meaning it can be avoided by making better choices.
So, is eating healthy really that expensive???
A Disorder or Just a Symptom?
Exercise is a generally a healthy behavior that promotes wellness. However, some individuals become addicted to physical activity and engage in compulsive, excessive exercise that is extreme in frequency and both psychologically and psychosocially impairing. Exercise becomes the most important priority in the excessive exerciser’s life. All other obligations and responsibilities such as families, careers, and social engagements suffer. This addiction is referred to by a variety of names such as exercise dependence, exercise addiction, obligatory exercise, compulsive athleticism, compulsive exercising, and exercise abuse.
People who are addicted to exercise may have various motivations for their behavior, including a desire to control their body weight or shape, a feeling of inexplicable dread is exercise is not performed, or to achieve an exercise-induced “high.”
Exercise addicts may have a very rigid fitness schedule to which they always adhere. They may compulsively exercise alone to avoid attracting the attention of others, including trainers and gym staff. Addicts will exercise even though they are sick or injured, in the end causing more physical problems for themselves. They may miss work, school, or other social obligations to exercise.
“I do still get the same feelings of distress if I can’t go because exercise is such a major part of my life… I get very very depressed — depression to the point where I can weep and berate myself for not going.”
Seven Warning Signs of Exercise Addiction
1. Always working out alone, isolated from others.
2. Always following the same rigid exercise pattern.
3. Exercising for more than two hours daily, repeatedly.
4. Fixation on weight loss or calories burned.
5. Exercising when sick or injured.
6. Exercising to the point of pain and beyond.
7. Skipping work, class, or social plans for workouts.
What is known is that there are many individuals who suffer from an addiction to exercise. Often they will continue to workout even through the pain of an injury or against the advice of their physician. The psychological torment of not exercising is greater than the negative consequences that affect their physical and social well-being. Often when exercise is withheld, these individuals will experience irritability and depression. These symptoms are relieved by exercising, and thus the cycle is continued. Regardless of the reason behind the excessive exercise, whether or not it is caused by an eating disorder, the effects are harmful to the individuals on psychological, physiological, and psychosocial levels.
While there is an important debate about exercise dependence and eating disorders, it is also important to realize that this is a real addiction that affects real people and real families. Regardless of the cause, more research needs to be done on effectively treating this behavior. Ultimately, the goal is help these individuals overcome this harmful dependence.
Despite the fact that the average American lives into his or her late 70s, the United States ranks only 50th on the CIA’s life expectancy list. This is largely due to advancements in medical technology…this sounds good on the surface and in some ways, it is. However, these advancements haved evolved largely to deal with our nations growing disease epidemic…take more drugs to make us feel better…take even more drugs to compensate for the side effects of the other drugs, etc., etc..
What is attributed to the prolonged life expectancy of the top 10 countries?…physical activity and nutrition!
WHAT ARE CARBOHYDRATES?
Everyone knows that food comes in three forms: fat, protein, and carbohydrate. Most foods have all three, in varying proportions.
Carbohydrates are made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. The main carbs are sugar, starches, and cellulose.
Sugars are sweet carbohydrates, either single or double molecules: monosaccharides or disaccharides.
Starches are the main form of carbohydrate storage in plants. Starches are polysaccharides, which means strings of more than two carbohydrate molecules. Starches break down to sugars – that’s why if you keep a cracker in your mouth for a minute, it begins to taste sweet.
Cellulose is made of long, fibrous strings of carbohydrate, mainly for structural support of a plant. It is cellulose that provides us with fiber in the diet.
Fruits contain mainly sugars, while vegetables contain mainly starches. And both contain cellulose.
COMPLEX VS. SIMPLE
An apple contains natural sugar: fructose. A potato contains natural starch. But these are whole foods containing much more than just isolated carbohydrates. Apples and potatoes grown in good soil also contain vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. Such foods are complex carbohydrates, meaning that they are complete foods.
The problem comes in with processed sugar and processed starch. White table sugar has no nutrients. White bread is a processed, artificial starch. These are not foods – they do not nourish. We call them simple carbohydrates. Even when they are broken down to individual glucose molecules by digestion, it is completely different from the glucose end-product of a digested apple, for example. That’s because apples don’t simply break down into isolated glucose molecules. Other nutrients and co-factors are present, which are necessary for the body to make use of the glucose: enzymes, minerals, vitamins.
White sugar and white bread require enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and insulin from the body in order to act. And the action is one of irritation, removal, and defense instead of nutrition.
All enzymes and nutrients have been purposely removed from white sugar and white flour by processing. The result is a synthetic manmade carbohydrate, occurring nowhere in nature. The body regards such as a foreign substance, as a drug.
Most books, most doctors, and most nutritionists fail to make this simple distinction between simple and complex carbohydrates. They talk about apples and Coca-Cola both as carbohydrates, because they say that both ultimately break down to glucose, and that’s the form the body needs. It’s the standard medical approach. Same mentality that thinks vitamin C is ascorbic acid (see Chapter). The same mentality that thinks that milk is a good source of protein, or of calcium. Loads of information, very little understanding. These are the type of nutritionists who confuse organic gardening with organic chemistry, and talk about when you buy organic produce in the supermarket, that’s the kind that is carbon-based. Or the type of “nutrition” mentality that has bypass patients eating mashed potatoes and gravy and canned sugar drinks the day after surgery so they’ll “get their strength back.”
Most nutritionists are trained to think that diabetes is genetic and therefore may have to be controlled with drugs. Like any other area that concerns health, most of what is published about diet and nutrition is unfounded speculation. Worse if they have credentials.
With sugar, ingestion is far different from digestion: just because you ate it doesn’t mean you can use it. This is why counting calories and food combining and blood typing and the Zone and other passing fads are so irrelevant: it doesn’t matter what you eat; it matters what you digest.
Learn Why You Need to Focus on Body Alignment During Every Exercise You Do
Body alignment refers to the proper usage of different sections of the body. When the shoulders, hips, knees and ankles are all properly utilized, it decreases the amount of stress that is placed on the skeletal system and lessens the likelihood of an injury occurring.
While there are specific exercises that can be performed to improve body alignment, this is actually an issue that should play a role in every exercise that you do. By paying close attention to your posture throughout your workouts, you can not only improve your overall body alignment, but you can also get more out of the exercises you do.
Although many resistance exercises may seem like simple movements, the proper form for most of these exercises requires you to focus on multiple parts of your body. Because there is usually more to good form than initially meets the eye, it can be very useful to have an app like Pocket Trainer. Since this app will cover every detail you need to know about each exercise that you perform, you can be sure that you’re able to keep proper body alignment in mind throughout your workouts.
Examples of good body alignment during popular exercises include:
Squats: A common body alignment mistake is doing squats in a Smith machine. While this seems like a good way to protect yourself from injury, squatting in a Smith machine forces you to handle the weight in an unnatural manner. A better option is to use less weight and squat with a standard barbell in a power rack. The key to proper alignment during this exercise is allowing yourself to “sit back” as you perform it. If you’re currently allowing the weight to push you forward, you need to pay attention to this issue so you can correct it.
Dumbbell Curls: There are two body alignment mistakes that people commonly make while performing dumbbell curls. The first is standing with their feet too close to each other. The reason this is a problem is because it makes it difficult to balance. By using a wider stance, you will create a stable base for yourself. The other mistake people make is pulling with their back during this exercise. If you aren’t able to keep the tension of this exercise on your biceps instead of your back, you need to stop and use a lighter weight.
Deadlifts: When done properly, this exercise is extremely effective for building a strong overall body. However, because it does impact so many muscles, it can have a negative effect on body alignment if performed with bad form. The most important issue to avoid is rounding your back while doing deadlifts. If you notice that you’re unable to perform this exercise without rounding your back, it means you need to stop and decrease the amount of weight you have on the bar. Also, make sure you’re just as focused on proper body alignment during your 1st rep as you are when you do your 8th rep.