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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.

How to Increase Your Retirement Savings

on Tuesday, 26 June 2018. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

When I retire, I’m going to __________ (fill in the blank). Whether retirement is decades away or right around the corner, chances are you have something in mind. Here are some ways you can make it happen:

Start early. One of the primary ways retirement funds grow is the compounding interest on the funds you put in. Essentially, you’re letting your money make money. The sooner you put money in, the longer it will have to grow.

Contribute to your 401(k). It’s money that’s working for you that you don’t have to manage. Even better, the money you invest into a 401(k) is tax free until you take it out, meaning it lowers your taxable income in the short term.

Meet Your Employer’s Match. Many companies don’t offer a 401(k) match anymore, but if yours does, by all means utilize it. Otherwise you’re throwing away free money for your retirement.

Automate your retirement savings. It’s hard to remember to put money aside for retirement. It can be doubly hard when you’re on a tight budget or saving up for something else. Make saving easier by automating it. The money goes straight where it’s supposed to before you ever see it, saving you from the temptation of spending it.

Delay Social Security. Up until age 70, the longer you can delay receiving social security payments, the larger your eventual monthly payment will be.

Yes, when I retire I’m going to __________ (fill in the blank.) To make your dream a reality, you’ll need to start filling in the blanks of your retirement savings plan. Use these tips to boost your retirement savings now!

Do-It-Yourself Water Fun

on Tuesday, 19 June 2018. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

In the spring, your fancy might turn to thoughts of love, but right now it’s summer and well… it’s hot out there! To keep from melting into a pool of your own sweat, your thoughts are turning to the nearest public pool or maybe that beach vacation you can never seem to afford. At this point, even the leaky fire hydrant across the street looks like a good way to cool off.

You may have noticed that nice, cool water is a recurring theme here. It’s a great way to beat the heat, and there plenty of ways to enjoy some great summer water fun without spending a fortune.

The Kiddie Pool. The larger inflatable pools available at many stores can easily accommodate multiple adults, meaning you can take a quick dip to cool off or spend the evening relaxing. These pools are easy to inflate and surprisingly cheap. Of course, why pay for accessories when you can create them yourself.

Water Slide. You could go to a water park, but why? You can easily make your own backyard water fun.

Water Guns. They come in all sort of varieties, from the simple dollar store handgun to the sophisticated space age rifles only a space alien could love. Add in some water balloons, a stout battle plan and have at it.

Car Wash. It’s summer, and sooner or later your vehicle is going to need a bath. Instead of spending money at the car wash, why not grab a bucket and a pair of hoses? If it’s just the little humans that need a bath, then you can always make your own car wash.

So if that beach vacation to Tahiti just isn’t in the cards, never fear. Watery summer fun on a budget is more than possible.

Five Tips for New Dads

on Tuesday, 12 June 2018. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

If you grew up on old TV shows (remember Leave It To Beaver?) and cartoons, fatherhood seems pretty simple. When your new bundle of joy comes into the world, you just pass out a few cigars. Later on, you’ll come home from work to dispense some sage advice (and maybe a little tough love) and settle down to watch some TV.

Of course in the real world, fatherhood isn’t nearly that easy. Becoming a dad might be the toughest job you ever take on. Here a few survival tips:

Take a break. Your life has been turned upside and punted into the next county. It seems like chaos. Stepping away, even for a few minutes, can help you keep calm and in control.

Make time for your baby. The more time you spend with your little one, the stronger of a bond you’ll be able to build. If possible, try to schedule time off from work during your baby’s formative months.

Babies are portable. In many cases, you don’t have to leave your child behind with a sitter. Instead take them with you. The outside stimulation will help them develop, and you’re sure to get lots of attention.

Take care of yourself. Having a new baby can be stressful, and it can be easy to neglect your own health. Don’t. You’re one of your baby’s most important long term assets, so behave accordingly.

Get advice. Children don’t come with a manual, so talk to other new fathers about your experience and theirs. Whatever situation you may encounter, chances are there’s someone who been there, seen that.

No, fatherhood might not seem as simple as Ward Cleaver made it out to be, but it doesn’t have to be the end of your world either. For a few more tips, check out this handy survival guide.

Basics of Aromatherapy

on Tuesday, 05 June 2018. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

A fragrant flower in the garden. The smell of salt at the beach. The unmistakable odor of corn dogs and cotton candy at a county fair. The world is full of smells. While we take in the bulk of our sensory information through our eyes, smell remains one of our most powerful senses. A particular smell can brighten our mood, dredge up old memories or even raise old fears we thought we’d gotten over.

Because smell affects us in such a primordial way, it can also be used to promote the health of the mind, the body and the spirit. That’s where aromatherapy comes in. It’s both an art and a science that utilizes naturally extracted aromatic essences (usually, but not always from plants) to enhance an individual’s innate healing process. Common aromatic essences include: lavender, peppermint and rosemary and many more.

Aromatherapy doesn’t heal the body directly. Instead it boosts the body’s natural defenses and regenerative abilities. It helps the body help itself by:

  • Kicking the immune system up a notch
  • Getting rid of toxins more quickly
  • Enhancing new cell growth
  • Increasing digestion and circulation

You can take in the aromatic essences in one of two ways: through inhalation or through the skin. In other words, breathe it in or rub it in. In either case, it’s absorbed into the body and makes its way into the circulatory system where its benefits are distributed to the rest of the body.

Whatever your ailment or mood, with a little research you can find just the right essence to help. So if you’re looking for something a little different, give aromatherapy a try. Good health never smelled so good.

What Will You Do With Your Kids This Summer?

on Tuesday, 29 May 2018. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

It’s summertime and, as much as you might want to ignore it, there’s one simple fact of life right now: school’s out soon and the kids are home. The question now is what you’re going to do with them. Here are a few suggestions:

Your town has cheap or free attractions. Use them. Smaller less popular museums may seem like old hat to you, but the first time may be the charm for your kids. Less busy sites may offer them more personal attention or the opportunity to take their time and learn more. If the entrance fee is a struggle for you, check out the free passes at your local library.

Encourage your children to put away their cell phones and play traditional card or board games. There is a higher level of interaction with these types of games, and remember these days they’re not old-fashioned, they’re called retro.

There’s always camping. Now you may be thinking about summer camp, and that’s always an option, but you don’t have to spend money to pack them off. Take them camping - even if it's just in the backyard.

Let them express their inner artist. Everybody had a creative streak somewhere in them, and summer is a great time to let it out. Whether it’s painting, writing, music or something even more avant garde, give your kids the chance to see what they can do.

These activities are more than just something for your kids to do. They’re chances for them to grow. School may be out, but the opportunities for learning never stop.

The Basics of Health Savings Accounts

on Tuesday, 22 May 2018. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

One aspect of many health care plans that doesn’t get a lot of attention is health savings accounts, commonly known as HSAs. If your coverage has a high-deductible attached to it, an HSA may be just the thing to save your wallet from an unexpected (and unexpectedly expensive) medical bill.

An HSA is basically a savings account, but unlike ordinary savings accounts that you might open at a bank, the funds you place into an HSA are tax free. Like a savings account, you can contribute to them throughout the year. The only real catch is that you can’t use them to pay for that Florida vacation you’ve been dreaming about or a new car. Instead you must use them to pay for unreimbursed qualified medical expenses you incur. The list of what counts as a qualified expense is pretty broad, although as of 2011 you can no longer use them to pay for over-the-counter medications.

That’s not to say the funds are locked up. You can still access them if you choose to. If the funds are not used for qualified medical expenses, distributions are treated much like early distributions from an IRA for tax purposes, meaning you may have to pay a tax penalty when you withdraw the funds. And, like an IRA, you can keep your HSA account until you retire.

If an HSA sounds like it might be right for you, contact your employer and see if they offer the option. If you participate in an HDHP or high-deductible plan, you can also open an HSA on your own by going to your bank or financial institution.

Good luck and good health.

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