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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.

Halloween

on Monday, 05 November 2012. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

Do you have your Halloween costume picked out this year?

Last year, the average person spent $72 on Halloween, as opposed to $66 in 2010 and $56 in 2009. That shows the effect of the economy – will this year reflect the so-called recovery?

Halloween’s origin is traditionally linked to ancient festivals of the dead – but more likely, it’s an offshoot of the Celtic festival of Samhain, whose name meant, roughly, “summer’s end.”

So if it was all about the seasonal transition to winter-like weather, where did all the spooky stuff come from? Well, the ancient Celts believed that the border between our physical world and the spiritual one became a very, very thin one on Samhain, meaning spirits, both harmless and harmful would come and play on that day. So costumes and masks were employed to impersonate the not-so-friendly ghosts and avoid being attacked by them.

The name “Halloween” first began to crop up in the 16th century. And believe it or not, the pumpkin was not the designated vegetable when it came to creating Jack O’ Lanterns. No, instead, large turnips were hollowed out and faces were carved in them to also ward off the evil spirits. In America, however, pumpkins were bigger and more available than big turnips

Some other fun Halloween facts…the most popular trick-or-treat item is a Snickers, the largest pumpkin in the world weighed 1385 pounds, and, according to superstition, if you look in a mirror at midnight on Halloween, you’ll see your future spouse.

By the way, on that last one, if you end up just seeing yourself - guess you’re the only one who’s a fit companion for you!

Fat Burning

on Tuesday, 23 October 2012. Posted in Doctor of Fitness, Fitness Training, Weight Loss, Weight Training, Strength & Conditioning, Fitness

If you’re trying to lose weight, chances are you’ve turned to some sort of cardio workout like the treadmill or elliptical machine to help you shed those extra pounds. If so, you’re not alone. Around the world, millions of people spend countless hours logging hundreds of miles walking, jogging, climbing bicycling and running in place, all the while hoping their in-the-gym journeys melt away pounds and body fat.

The sad news is, a lot of them really are going nowhere.

Today, some personal trainers have completely eliminated traditional cardio workouts from their programs because they believe those endless hours on the treadmill are nothing more than a waste of time. Fitness experts have been cited in numerous articles for several less-than-glowing reviews of cardio, claiming cardio machines grossly overestimate the number of calories they burn, that cardio does not lead to dramatic weight loss and that it may actually increase hunger and cause people to eat more!

Great. Then what exactly should you be doing to burn fat?

The answer appears to be a combination of strength training and interval training.

Strength training, which includes training with free weights and resistance devices, works by building muscle mass, which then boosts your metabolism and helps you burn more fat all day long.

Interval training involves traditional cardio exercises, like pedaling a bike or running on a treadmill, but alternating quick bursts of high intensity exercise with longer, lower paced intervals instead of maintaining a steady, moderate pace. This cuts down on fatigue, allowing you to burn fat – and calories – faster.

Alternate interval and strength training every week, and you should see great results –plus it’s a lot more fun than spending hours on the treadmill!

Saving Money

on Tuesday, 16 October 2012. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

With the severity of the recent recession, many stores are offering more incentives to shop than ever before – coupons, financing deals, free shipping and so on. But, according to a recent article in TIME magazine, those so-called “deals” might not be saving you any money at all. Some things to consider:

Coupons – Coupons are never a bad idea when you use them to get a brand you’d buy anyway. But they’re often used to entice you to buy something more expensive than usual. For instance, if you save fifty cents on a four dollar bottle of salad dressing, that doesn’t help if the normal brand you buy is only $2.50. To really use coupons effectively, you have to jump from store to store and from brand to brand – and it comes down to what you think all that time and effort is worth.

Low or No Financing – You may see big offers for 0% financing if you buy a big screen TV – but if you don’t pay back the entire loan amount before the 0% period runs out, you could get hit with an interest rate of around 30% of what’s left of the debt. These stores are counting on you not being able to pay back the amount in the agreed time – after all, that’s why you need the financing in the first place!

Free Shipping – Like coupons, this is often used to make the consumer spend more than they had originally intended. Usually, you have to buy a certain amount to get that free shipping. Say it takes $50 of purchases to get the free shipping from an online retailer – and you were only going to buy a $30 item. The incentive to not pay an additional few dollars in shipping might cause you to spend $20 more at an online store.

The Non-Stop Sale There is a lighting fixture store we always pass – and the joke is, they always have a giant 20% or 30% sale going on. Some stores act like everything is always at discount – but the fact is hardly anyone pays list price and these places are just pretending their normal pricing is a huge savings for you.

So, before you go for what looks like an obvious deal, make sure it is actually a deal – and we mean for you, not for them.

Breakfast

on Tuesday, 09 October 2012. Posted in Doctor of Fitness, Healthy Nutrition

What did you have for breakfast today?

If you’re like most people who eat in the morning, chances are you chowed down on something sweet, like a banana, or starchy, like a bagel. Most likely, it was a combination of both –like breakfast cereal or a doughnut, or maybe a hot breakfast like pancakes or waffles.

But for a growing number of people, the idea of just what constitutes “breakfast” is changing. They’re veering away from the sweet and the starchy and incorporating more protein, complex carbohydrates and even – gasp! – vegetables into their breakfast choices.

Vegetables for breakfast? What’s next, dessert for dinner?

Actually, the logic behind this new breakfast trend is sound. Simple carbohydrates and sugars, the kind of things commonly found in prepared cereals and other breakfast foods, have recently come under fire as being less-than-healthy. Americans are constantly being advised to focus on lean protein, whole grains and vegetables -- and there’s really no reason to save them for dinnertime.

If you’re not sure how to incorporate vegetables into your breakfast, try an omelet stuffed with fresh baby spinach and a little light mozzarella or reduced fat feta cheese. Do what the British do and enjoy a roasted tomato as a side dish. You can even try a breakfast salad, with greens and a little turkey bacon topped with a poached egg.

If you still prefer a sweeter breakfast, there are plenty of ways to accomplish this with higher-protein foods. Toss some sliced almonds in with your morning oatmeal, or smear some natural peanut butter and sliced banana on a slice of whole-grain toast.

The bottom line is, today’s “breakfast of champions” has gone far beyond a bowl of cereal and milk. Take some time to play with combinations of ingredients you like to add variety and a boost of nutrition to your mornings.

Kids and Money

on Tuesday, 02 October 2012. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

If you have kids in school, you know they’re (hopefully) learning subjects like English, Math and Science in school – but what about money management?

In most cases, especially with younger children, that kind of training is up to you, the parent – and it’s obviously an important skill they’ll need later in life. That’s why giving them an allowance in return for doing simple chores like taking out the trash can be a valuable system to implement in your household.

Most experts agree that the younger you teach kids how to manage money, even small amounts, the better off they’ll be as adults. And the only way they can really learn is to have the experience of working for money, and controlling their spending so they can save for what they want.

"Giving your kids an allowance is the best money-management tool you can use with your children," says Janet Bodnar, the deputy editor at Kiplinger's Personal Finance. "When it's their money on the line, children make more-informed purchasing decisions."

And it’s important for them to see that money is earned by their efforts. Meridee Maynard, a financial literacy educator for Northwestern Mutual in Milwaukee, says, "Part of the idea with an allowance is to make sure you reinforce that in order to earn money, you have to do certain things."

Many grown-ups who were never given the chance to hone their money management skills as children grow up to ring up credit card debt without much thought.   Giving your kids these skills now might help that from happening to them.

Plus, it saves you from taking out the trash!

Kids Health

on Tuesday, 25 September 2012. Posted in Doctor of Fitness, Kids' Nutrition, Fitness

We all want our kids to be healthy –as evidenced by the countless magazines, TV reports and online posts dedicated to the subject. However, today’s parents, at least as a whole, aren’t doing the best job of protecting our kids’ health. Recent studies show that this current generation of children may be the first one to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents, which sounds crazy in an era when medical science is making incredible strides fighting disease and prolong life.

The culprit, as you might have guessed, is childhood obesity. Between our culture’s growing reliance on fast and convenience foods and a playtime culture that has moved from the backyard and the local park to the TV and the computer, our kids are gaining weight, and contracting diseases once reserved for adults like Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

But there is still good news. As a parent, you have a lot of control over your kid’s health. From the food you keep in the house to the weekend activities you enjoy, every choice you make can contribute to your kids’ long, healthy and happy lives. And you don’t have to drive yourself (or them) crazy to do it. Because the easiest way to raise healthy kids is to start by creating a healthy you.

That means getting up from in front of the TV and getting outside for some exercise – whether it’s a bike ride, a walk around the block or a game of pick-up basketball. It means skipping the drive through window and chopping up some vegetables for a salad. It means stocking your pantry and fridge with foods and drinks that are good for your family – and for you.

Follow those few steps, and you won’t just get to see your kids grow up healthy. You might look and feel a lot better too.

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