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Doctor Lee's Blog

Musings from The Doctor of Fitness: Fitness Trainer, Nutrition Expert, & Sports Medicine Physician

The purpose of this blog is to write informally for anyone who is interested in fitness, strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, sports medicine, and breaking fitness and nutrition news. If you'd like to reach me directly, you can contact me here. Feel free to take a look at my professional bio and my not-so-professional bio.

Staying Hydrated in the Summer Heat

on Wednesday, 08 August 2018. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

If the sweat pouring off you or the clingy feeling of your clothes sticking to you didn’t already give it away, you may have noticed it’s a little on the warm side out there. And since there’s a good chance you’re going to be out of the house enjoying the great outdoors, here are a few ways to stay hydrated:

Be careful with alcohol. Yeah, sometimes nothing really satisfies like an ice cold beer, but alcohol is also a diuretic, meaning that it actually makes you more dehydrated rather than less. It can also interfere with your body's ability to regulate its own temperature.

Keep your electrolytes up. Along with all that sweat, your body is also leaking out electrolytes like potassium, sodium and calcium. You can replace fluid and sodium losses with watery foods that contain salt and potassium like soup and vegetable juices. Many sports drinks will also help you maintain your electrolyte balance, but beware of those that contain significant amounts of sugar or caffeine.

Check your urine. It might not be the most exciting thing to do when you’re out having a great time, but, like the proverbial canary in the coal mine, it can be an important indicator that something is wrong. If your urine is dark or cloudy, it’s often a sign you’re dehydrated. Also watch for other signs of dehydration such as dizziness, headache, nausea and cramps.

The best way to prevent dehydration is before it starts. If you know you’re going to be out in the heat, plan ahead by making sure you’re well hydrated and that you have plenty of fluids on hand to get you through the day.

Have a great and well-hydrated summer!

Exercise Your Brain

on Tuesday, 31 July 2018. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

Just like the rest of your body, feeding your brain a proper diet is an important factor in helping it stay in tip-top shape. That’s only part of the equation though. A good workout regimen consists of both diet and exercise. So even though you’re feeding your brain what it needs to succeed, how do you keep it from getting flabby? Here are a few ways:

Exercise regularly. ‘Healthy body, healthy mind’ is an old saying that been proven true. Exercise not only gets your heart rate up, but your brain activity as well.  

Think good thoughts. Stress and anxiety are not only miserable to deal with, but they impair brain function as well. Chronic stress produces a hormone called cortisol, which over time can reduce your ability to store and recall information.

Get enough sleep. Sleep is your brain’s way of cleaning out the events of the previous day. Lack of sleep not only makes you feel groggy and irritable, it stops the brain from properly processing the past day’s information, leaving you unable to recall what you need to know for the coming one.

In addition to general good habits, there are also some specific exercises you can try to get your noggin humming along faster:

  • Try using your off hand for daily tasks like brushing your teeth.
  • Do chores with your eyes closed.
  • Calculate math problems in your head.
  • Test your recall with simple games like trying to remember everything you saw today that was pink or how many famous people’s names you can think of that start with a ‘D’.

Our brains are wonderful, complex instruments. Make sure to keep yours in shape with these tips.

Feed Your Brain

on Tuesday, 24 July 2018. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

If you’ve ever played sports, you probably already know about the importance of proper nutrition. What many of us forget, is that the brain is also part of the body. And like your body, it needs its nourishment. Here are some foods to keep it happy:

Oily fish. If you’re looking for brain food, it doesn’t get any better than this. Fish like salmon, trout and mackerel are all rich sources of omega-3, a major building block of the brain. Omega-3 also plays a role in sharpening memory and improving mood, so you can eat your meal with a smile.

Bone broth. While it may sound like something Doctor Frankenstein would have liked, bone broth, with its healing amino acids like proline and glycine, can keep your immune system functioning properly and help improve your memory. 

Avocados. These fruits get a bad rap because of their high fat content, but it’s monosaturated fat, (i.e. the good kind of fat.) Avocados contain both vitamin K and folate, which can help prevent blood clots in the brain as well as improving memory and concentration.

Dark chocolate. If you’re a chocolate lover, your time has come! Well, mostly. Dark chocolate doesn’t mean Hershey kisses or other commercially available sweets. Instead it means darker, less processed chocolates. Dark chocolate contains flavonols, which can help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to both your brain and your heart.

Whether you’re a burgeoning athlete or just a weekend warrior, your brain is the most important part of your game. Keep it in game-day shape with the right diet.

What to Do About Student Loan Debt

on Tuesday, 17 July 2018. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

What’s something you have that you desperately want to get rid of? If you answered student loan debit, you wouldn’t be alone. Millions of Americans are struggling with paying off these loans, and the problem just seems to be getting worse. So how do you become part of the solution?

Well, the first obvious answer is not to get into debt in the first place. If at all possible, rather than financing your education through a private student loans, try to qualify for federally available Pell grants, which don’t need to be repaid, or for Stafford loans, which are usually available at a more affordable interest rate.

Of course, even these types of loans can become a burden in some cases. There are many options that can allow you some breathing room like forbearance or income-sensitive repayment plans. You can also check with your workplace. If you work in certain types of public sector jobs, you may be eligible to ease or even eliminate your loan debt through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

If neither of these options is available to you, or if you already have a crushing debt load looming over you, there are still viable alternatives to reduce the burden. Try refinancing. Private student loans typically don’t have the variety or forgiveness options that Department of Education ones do, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with an unbearable interest rate. Like your credit card or your car loan, refinancing these loans can save you hundreds of dollars.

While student loans debt is making national headlines, in many ways it’s no different than any other debt. So, you can also try these general tips to reduce your burden.

Good luck and best wishes for whatever method you choose.

A Few Easy Ways to Burn More Calories

on Tuesday, 10 July 2018. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

Calories. They’re about as popular as the bubonic plaque. We watch them, count them and do our best to avoid them if at all possible. Of course, no matter where we go, they’re an unavoidable fact of life. So now that you’ve got them, how can you send them on their way?

Well, if you’ve always had nervous habits like fidgeting or tapping your feet, you’re in luck. These activities burn calories. So feel free to pace, because it can burn hundreds more calories than sitting still.

On the other side of the scale, fidgeting or pacing is often a sign of stress, and stress is the last thing you need if you want to burn off calories. Finding ways to focus your inner self and ‘chill out’ not only helps your heart and overall health, but it can help your calories too, since calm people burn calories more efficiently than stressed ones. If pacing is what helps you relax, then celebrate. You got a win-win situation.

Speaking of ‘chilling out’, you can try to do this literally as well as figuratively. The ideal temperature for burning fat has been found to be a cool 64 degrees Fahrenheit. If that temperature seems a little too chilly for you, don’t worry. A nice cup of coffee or tea will help you warm up, and the beauty of it is that these caffeinated beverages can help you boost your calorie burn for up to three hours.

Burning calories can be as easy or as hard as you make it. If paying for an expensive gym membership or changing your entire lifestyle just isn’t in the cards, try a few of these simple tricks.

Things to Do for the 4th of July

on Tuesday, 03 July 2018. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

It’s warm this evening. The smell of freshly mowed grass still hangs heavy in the air. The shadows are lengthening... and wait… yep, that was definitely the sound of fireworks from somewhere in the neighborhood. Must mean Independence Day is right around the corner.

Do you have plans? Well, if not, here are a few ideas to make your 4th of July one to remember.

Have a Block Party. You may be planning a family cookout anyway. Why not invite everyone to share in the holiday fun? To cut down on expenses, turn the event into a potluck. Plan games and activities for the neighborhood kids and maybe even indulge yourself with a sparkler or two. Sharing in Uncle Sam’s birthday with your fellow Americans— what could be more patriotic than that?

Host an outdoor movie night. If sparklers aren’t allowed in your state and there’s no handy fireworks display around, you can still turn the evening into a red, white and blue affair by putting some patriotic movies on the big screen. An outdoor projection setup might have an initial cost outlay, but it’s something you can use again and again when the weather’s nice.

Sing Along. Want to pass on some of that Independence Day spirit to the next generation? Have a sing along with classics like "The Star Spangled Banner" or "This Land Is Your Land." To add to the fun, you can make your own star-spangled musical instruments and drums.

Like Christmas, Independence Day only comes around once a year, so get out and enjoy.

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