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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.

Good debt

on Tuesday, 14 August 2012. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

After watching all the commercials designed to snare people drowning in credit card bills, it’s hard to believe that there could be such a thing as good debt. But here are three areas where that just might be the case.

Your Mortgage

Doing everything in your power to pay down a mortgage puts a strain on your cash reserves and might not be the best move. Usually, mortgages have lower interest rates than other kinds of debts – plus that interest is tax deductible on the first million dollars of a mortgage. So don’t fear debt on your home – just make sure you can afford a decent down payment and that the basic monthly payments won’t be a strain.

College loans

When it comes to paying for your children’s higher education, it makes a lot more sense for them to take out low-interest student loans than for you to decimate your savings or retirement funds to make it happen. And the worst thing you can do is borrow against your home – you don’t want to risk losing it as you get older. Your kids will have a lot more time to pay their loans back than you will – and, by the way, you having a big 401k doesn’t count against them when applying for financial aid. It’s not a part of your available assets.  

Buying a car

A car loan makes a lot of sense if you can’t afford to pay cash and you plan on continuing to drive the car long after the loan is paid off. Again, put as much down as you can. If, however, you’re the kind that likes a new car every three years or so, a lease might be a better option for you.

Happy borrowing.

Kid Snacks

on Tuesday, 07 August 2012. Posted in Doctor of Fitness, Kids' Nutrition

If it seems like your kids are always hungry, it’s definitely not your imagination. Kids need a lot of calories to keep up with their needs – after all, running around playing all day takes a lot of energy! At the same time, children’s’ stomachs are still relatively small, making it so kids usually can’t consume all of the calories they need over the course of three square meals a day.

Which is why snacks were invented.

A lot of people think “snack” is a dirty word, thanks in part to the constant stream of bad news about things like trans-fats, sugar and the growing obesity epidemic. But just because a food is eaten at a time other than traditional mealtimes doesn’t mean it’s automatically unhealthy. Snack foods can be just as nutritious as those fabled three square meals a day – all it takes is a little pre-planning and a little imagination.

So when you shop for snack time, skip the chips and cookies and other pre-prepared “quick fixes” in favor of foods you already know your kids like and enjoy that will also give them the nutrients they need to grow and be healthy. Anything that gets the thumbs up from both of you is fair game, from whole wheat pasta sprinkled with parmesan cheese to breakfast cereal eaten with their fingers out of a bowl. You can keep cut-up fruit and cheese bites on hand for those moments when hunger strikes, or if you have the time and energy, make special snack treats using wholesome ingredients like whole grain crackers or small pieces of bread topped with nutrient-rich foods like peanut butter, cheddar cheese, slices of apple, banana and even cucumber -- whatever your child likes.

The best part is, when you serve your child healthy snacks like these, you don’t need to worry about your kids “spoiling their dinner” with snack foods. In fact, there’s no need to stress about dinner at all, because you know that – whenever they choose to eat -- your kids are getting all the nutrients they need.

And isn’t that what mealtime is supposed to be all about?

Joint Pain

on Tuesday, 31 July 2012. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

You wake up one morning, jump out of bed, and the moment your feet hit the floor, you feel it – a sharp pain in your knee. 

Should you be worried?  Or are you just getting old?

If you’re like a lot of people, you might assume that creaky, painful joints are an inevitable part of the aging process.  Whether it’s stiff fingers caused by arthritis or a sore shoulder from an old sports injury, you might assume it’s something you’ll have to learn to live with.  After all, if it’s natural and inevitable, there’s probably not a lot you can do about it, right?  So maybe you pop an over the counter pain killer, or put some ice or heat on it.  Maybe you tough it out and wait for the pain to pass, assuming it will go away like a headache or a cold. 

However, there is something you can do besides gritting your teeth and learning to live with joint pain.  Today more than ever, there are several real, effective solutions that will help you feel better and move more freely.

The first step to feeling better is understanding the source of your pain.  A recent study showed that while almost 20% of adults suffer from some form of chronic joint pain, a whopping 84% of those people have no idea where the pain comes from!  Some people suffer from what they believe is joint pain, when the real problem is a torn ligament, or a strained muscle.  A professional like a doctor or chiropractor can help you determine the source of your pain.

This is important because once you know where your pain comes from, a plan can be formulated to treat it.  In some cases, simple exercises can be used to strengthen joints and relieve pain.
 
Another good option could be a supplement that boosts joint health like chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine sulfate, calcium, vitamin D3, or even natural remedies like turmeric, ginger and green tea.  In other cases, you may be advised to try prescription medication, or more drastic solutions like surgery. 

The bottom line?  If you’re experiencing joint pain, don’t just “tough it out.”  Give us a call, and find out how simple it can be to make your pain a thing of the past.

Identity Theft part 2

on Tuesday, 24 July 2012. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

Last week, we talked about the increasing threat of identity theft - when thieves steal your personal information and do very bad things with your name.  Here are a few more tips on how to protect yourself from becoming a victim of that crime:

Be Tight-lipped on the Telephone

When a high-pressure salesman calls with an overly-attractive offer or “prize,” avoid giving personal information.  If you didn’t initiate the call, ask the caller if you can join their do-not-call list.  Or simply hang up on sales calls.

Secure Your Computer

Again, don’t respond to unsolicited requests for personal information and make sure you have virus protection in place.  Password-protect your computer and change that password frequently.  Also, search the internet occasionally for your name and the last four digits of your Social Security number, just to see what pops up.

Watch Your Wallet

On the backs of your credit cards, write "photo ID required" in place of the signature – that makes them harder to use if stolen.  Don’t carry your Social Security card with you.

Clear Your Deceased Relatives’ Accounts

When a loved one passes away, obtain enough copies of the official death certificate to notify all financial institutions, insurance companies, etc.  Remove their names from all joint accounts and contact the credit reporting agencies and request a deceased alert.  That means no one can attempt to use your relative’s name to gain credit for themselves.

Report Suspicious Activity Immediately

If, at any time, you think an attempt has been made to steal your identity, contact the authorities. File a police report, and file a complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, whom you can reach at 1-877-IDTHEFT.     

Identity Theft

on Tuesday, 17 July 2012. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

Identity theft has been called America’s fastest-growing crime problem by the FBI. 

If you don’t really know what identity theft is all about, it’s what happens when a thief “becomes” you by stealing your financial identity and using it to benefit themselves.  Less-sophisticated crooks will use your credit cards to go on a buying spree – more sophisticated ones will use your personal info to get a fake driver’s license, take out car loans, open bank accounts or even use your identity when they get arrested.

Here are a few ways to protect yourself from this increasingly-frequent predicament:

Safeguard your Social Security Number

This is the most critical piece of personal information that can be misused.  Don’t print it on any ID, don’t carry it on you or in your wallet and avoid using it as a personal identifier if at all possible. 

Be Careful with Your Mail

Make your mailbox a less attractive target for identity thieves.  Opt out of pre-approved credit card offers and insurance by calling 888-5OPT-OUT or by logging onto https://www.optoutprescreen.com. Cancel mail delivery when you go on vacation. If you write a check for credit card payments and send them in, only use the last 4 digits of your account number.  
Protect Your Trash

Things you throw out, such as credit card bills/offers, bank statements, etc., all contain valuable personal information.   Buying a shredder and using it on these kinds of documents can be a good investment.

We’ll be back next week with some more important tips on how to protect your identity.

Proper Posture

on Tuesday, 10 July 2012. Posted in Doctor of Fitness, Toning & Shaping, Strength & Conditioning

Your mother was right – you need to stand up straight! 

But not just because standing (or sitting) with your shoulders pulled back and your stomach pulled in makes you look taller, thinner and more confident.  It turns out that good posture actually has some real health benefits as well. 

First and most importantly, the simple act of sitting or standing up straight strengthens your spine.  On the other hand, getting into the habit of hunching over, either in your chair at work or while you’re standing, can result in changes to the curvature of your spine that could be permanent.  Since your spine is incredibly important to your overall health, keeping it strong and healthy should be a priority – and good posture is an excellent starting point. 

Second, there’s pain – or more specifically, the avoidance of pain.  All that hunching and scrunching puts pressure on your spine and your joints, and can lead to everything from headaches and muscle pain to arthritis to carpal tunnel syndrome.  Taking a moment to adjust your posture and stand up straight can reduce some of that strain and pain instantaneously, while helping you avoid more serious issues later on down the line.

Last, but not least, is performance.  Good posture keeps your body in proper alignment, and a properly aligned body is in the ideal position to perform at its peak.  Whether you’re exercising, working or just hanging out and having fun, practicing good posture while you do it takes less energy, leads to less wear and tear on your body, and lets you keep doing whatever you’re doing longer and better.

So the next time your mother tells you to stand up straight, throw those shoulders back and stand a little taller. 

And while we’re on the subject, it won’t hurt to eat your vegetables either.
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