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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.

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.

Autumn

on Tuesday, 18 September 2012. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

The autumn equinox officially hits on Saturday the 22nd at 9:49 a.m. (CDT). So get ready for fall.

Now, if you told most people outside of North America to “get ready for fall,” they’d be afraid of you toppling on them – because the word “fall” is only used for autumn in this country and Canada.

This usage actually came from 16th Century England – so, when the English settled America, it continued to be used in “the colonies.” Strangely enough, using “fall” as a synonym for “autumn” became obsolete shortly thereafter back in Great Britain - but Americans held on to it for some reason. And obviously, we still call this season “fall” to this day.

Prior to the 16th century? The season was just basically known as “harvest” in England and other parts of the world. But that changed when more people began moving to towns from farms and harvest just began to be used to refer to the actual reaping of crops.

Whatever you want to call it, this season is worth billions in tourism dollars to both New England and Easter Canada because of the brightly-colored autumn foliage of the trees. North America has a greater variety of leaf colors because it has more than 800 arbor species – a lot more than you’ll find in Europe or other parts of the world – and is able to put on a much more vibrant show.

And by the way, “autumn” is no also-ran name. Since 1997, it’s been one of the top 100 names given to girls in the U.S. “Fall,” not so much.

Personal Trainers

on Tuesday, 11 September 2012. Posted in Doctor of Fitness, Fitness Training, Fitness

Is a personal trainer really worth the expense? Here are five reasons why a professional exercise partner is an excellent investment in your health and your future.

Personal trainers take the mystery out of exercise.

It can be difficult to tell what kind of exercise is best to help you reach your goals. What will you like doing? What will be most effective? Simply by spending time with you and learning a few things about you, a personal trainer can formulate a plan just for you based on what you like, what you need and what you want.

Personal trainers introduce you to new things you’ve never tried before.

Personal trainers are plugged into the exercise world – they know what’s new, what’s hot and what’s working and are constantly learning new things. If your trainer runs across something that might interest you, you can be sure you’ll get a chance to try it – and might find a program that changes your life.

Personal trainers keep you healthy.

Even exercise has a down side, and that down side it, it’s easy to get hurt if you don’t know what you’re doing. A trainer will work with you to make sure you’re performing each exercise correctly, so you don’t overdo it or injure yourself.

Personal trainers break you out of a plateau.

If your fitness routine stops working, you may see that as a reason to quit. But with a trainer by your side, you can you get over that hump more easily. A trainer will help determine what’s at the root of your plateau and design a plan to help you get past it – and on to your fitness goals.

Personal trainers are someone to talk to.

Your trainer is like a coach, a friend and even a therapist all rolled into one – someone who will be with you every step of the way, helping you when things are difficult, and celebrating with you when you succeed.

If your goal is to get or stay in shape, consider teaming up with a trainer. And find out what a difference the personal touch can make for you.

Grandparents Day

on Tuesday, 04 September 2012. Posted in Doctor of Fitness, Kids' Nutrition

Did you know Grandparents Day is this weekend? The bond between grandparents and grandchildren is so special. Not only do grandparents get to watch their grandchildren grow up, they get to spoil them, too. Still, sometimes the gap between generations can feel wider than it should – especially with today’s grandkids consumed by Facebook, texting and whatever gadgets are currently dominating their lives. So to help strengthen those bonds and bring grandchildren and grandparents together, here are seven activities both generations can enjoy together.

1. Go outside! There are limitless things to do outside, depending only on your interests and Grandma and/or Grandpa’s level of fitness. Options include a walk to a local point of interest, a hike in a natural spot like a beach or park, even a game of softball or basketball.

2. Make Something Sweet! Grandmas are notorious for their baking prowess – but even if you’re not, or if you’re a grandpa, anyone can follow a simple cookie recipe. Plus, you get to eat the results.

3. Join the 21st Century! If you can’t see your grandkids/grandparents as often as you’d like, you can start a blog together, trade photos and videos, even communicate on Facebook.

4. Put it Together! Perfect for a rainy weekend – get the biggest puzzle you can find and spend an afternoon…or, depending on your skills, a weekend…putting it together. As a bonus, this combines well with Activity #2.

5. Get some Culture! Whether your idea of culture is a movie, a visit to a museum or an afternoon at a baseball game, anything you all enjoy going out and doing is something you should enjoy together.

6. Swap Stories! Gather together in a comfortable spot – in the garden or by the fire – and share stories on a specific topic. For example, “My most embarrassing moment was…” or, “the thing I wanted most in life was...”

7. Have a Movie Night! Rent a movie or two, pop some popcorn and dim the lights.

Focus on choosing activities everyone will enjoy, and you’ll create inter-generational memories that last a lifetime.

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