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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.

Get moving!

on Tuesday, 04 December 2012. Posted in Fitness

Last week we talked about the risks of holiday eating that increases the fat proportion in your body. Besides eating a more healthy diet during the holidays (and year-round), how active you are has a real impact on your body’s shape and health.
 
The holiday season is an easy time to slack off on our exercise routine because, let’s face it, we are extra busy and there are only so many hours in the day.
 
Here are a few easy tips to boost your holiday fitness:
  • When packing for your holiday trip, include an elastic resistance band so you can do strength-training exercises when you're not at the gym. You might also consider buying a new fitness DVD for your trip so that you can have fun trying something new.
  • Sit less. Watching TV, gaming, and surfing the web are fun but inactive, so spend less time in front of the screen.
  • Make fitness a family activity. For example, going for a family walk, having a pick-up football game or building a snowman are all ways to get exercise and have holiday fun at the same time.
  • Put fitness gifts on your Christmas or holiday gift list. Here are a few hot gift ideas for 2012: a heart-rate monitor to wear while exercising, kettlebells, personal training sessions, workout socks, or a BPA-free water bottle.
Now get moving!

Holiday weight gain - truth or fiction?

on Tuesday, 27 November 2012. Posted in Holiday Nutrition, Basketball

Is it myth or truth that people tend to gain weight during the holidays? Actually, according to a commonly cited study, adults tend to gain only 1-2 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. (If you are above average weight to start with, you might gain as much as 5 pounds).
 
That’s the good news. Now for the bad news.
 
First, most people who gain weight during the holidays don’t take it off in the new year. So, big deal, right? What’s 1 or 2 extra pounds? It’s not a big deal until you add up the pounds from last year, this year, next year, etc. You get the picture.
 
Secondly, the pound or two you gain isn’t as important as the proportion of fat in your body. Another study showed that even if you don’t gain weight during the holidays, you are very likely to see a significant increase in the proportion of fat in your body largely because of the food you eat.
 
Roll it all together, add up the years, and you are at higher and higher risk for serious health issues such as cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes. Don’t kid yourself, this is just as important to younger healthy adults as it is to middle-age or older adults.
 
With balance and moderation, you can enjoy the holidays the healthy way. Here are a few quick tips:
  • Eat a healthy meal before you go to holiday get-togethers will help limit your consumption of unhealthy party foods.
  • Limit your consumption of alcohol, which adds calories and affects your ability to make decisions about healthy eating.
  • Choose fresh fruit as a festive and sweet substitute for candy.
  • Select just one or two of your favorites from the host of tempting foods.
  • Find fun ways to stay active, such as dancing to your favorite holiday music. Be active for at least 2½ hours a week. Help kids and teens be active for at least 1 hour a day.
So let’s enjoy the holidays but let’s not mess around. Enjoy your treats but balance them with healthy meals the rest of the time. And move - burn that fat off (more on holiday exercising next week)!

Thanksgiving

on Tuesday, 20 November 2012. Posted in Fitness Equipment

This Thursday is Thanksgiving, the kick-off of the holiday season.

But for a few years, it was known as Franksgiving – when a well-intentioned President Franklin D. Roosevelt attempted to change the holiday date – and inadvertently set off a ball of confusion.  

From the beginning, the actual date of Thanksgiving varied a lot in the early days of America – and wasn’t necessarily celebrated every year. It took a formal proclamation from the first presidents to make a Thanksgiving happen.   Finally, in 1863, right in the middle of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln issued his own proclamation – that Thanksgiving would occur on the final Thursday of November on an annual basis.

And so it was…until 1939. That year, Thanksgiving fell very late in the month – November 30th, to be exact. So retailers put pressure on FDR to move Thanksgiving up a week – because then, as now, Thanksgiving was the signal to start Christmas shopping and merchants did not want to see a shorter buying season.

FDR complied and named the second-to-last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving that year. The opposition party, the Republicans, yelled loudly at this break of the 76 year-old tradition, and FDR was actually compared to Hitler for forcing this change on the country. Overall, Americans opposed the plan 62% to 38% as it raised havoc with football schedules and holiday travel plans – as the change in the date was done in late October.

That year, Thanksgiving turned out to be a real turkey, with chaos ensuing over the date. In 1939, 23 states accepted the new date, 22 states stuck with the old and 3 states actually celebrated on both days. 1940 and 1941 saw more arguments and more state splits over the actual date of Thanksgiving – until FDR finally reached a compromise with Congress and set the holiday on the fourth Thursday of November, the date which still stands today.

So let’s give thanks that we actually all agree on which day we celebrate Thanksgiving. And, by the way, studies have shown that extending the length of the shopping season doesn’t actually make people spend more on presents.

Gluten Free Diet

on Tuesday, 13 November 2012. Posted in Doctor of Fitness, Healthy Nutrition

Whether you do it for health reasons or simply because it’s a personal choice, maintaining a gluten free diet can be a challenge. And while controlling what you eat at home is one thing, doing it while dining out is dining out can seem more challenging. However, as more and more people are being diagnosed with celiac disease, more restaurants are providing gluten free options. So if you decide to dine out, here are five tips that can help.

1. Eat something before you go.

The hungrier you are when you look at the menu, the more likely you are to be guided by your stomach instead of your head. If you’re not at home, keep some small snacks in your purse or briefcase for emergencies.

2. Do some digging.

Even if you know exactly which grains and foods you should be avoiding, you may not know everywhere they might be hiding. Visit some gluten-free websites and search for areas where you’re likely to find “cross-contamination” and avoid those foods.

3. Research the restaurant.

Many restaurants are now providing gluten free menu options and many now post their menus online, so you can know in advance what your menu options are. If you’re considering a restaurant that doesn’t have a website, call and ask them to fax you a menu. If you can’t find anything you’d feel comfortable ordering, consider switching to a restaurant with more gluten-free options.

4. Ask questions.

If you know you’ll be going to a restaurant that worries you, call the restaurant in advance and ask to speak to a manager. Tell him or her that you have celiac disease and ask what he or she recommends. An Italian eatery or other restaurant that serves pasta may allow you to bring your own gluten-free pasta and prepare it and serve it with their own sauce.

5. Talk about it.

Tell your server that you have celiac disease or a gluten allergy and explain what you need. If the server seems unable or unwilling to help you, ask to speak to the manager.

Prepare yourself, don’t be afraid to ask for what you need, and you should be able to enjoy the occasional meal out without any issues.

Energy Savings

on Tuesday, 06 November 2012. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

It’s already getting pretty cold in most areas of the country – and winter’s just around the corner. Here are some tips on how to save on those big heating bills that are also looming in your future.

  • Cook your meals in a microwave instead of a conventional oven. You’ll use 55% to 65% less energy.

 

  • Run full loads of laundry in your washing machine. Heating water generally accounts for 15% of your utility bill – so you can save big by not washing a couple of things at a time.

 

  • Ceiling fans can make a room warmer. Hot air rises - and a ceiling fan forces it back down to warm the part of the room you’re actually in, rather than the roof warm!

 

  • Plug gadgets like TVs and DVD players in power strips. You can turn them all off at once, rather than let them run and suck up energy 24/7.

 

  • Get a furnace tune-up. Heating systems need to be serviced on a yearly basis to make sure they’re running as efficiently as possible.

 

  • Seal up any openings in walls, doors or windows with tape or caulk – especially if you have a drafty attic. As we noted, hot air rises and you can lose up to 50% of your heat from it escaping up there.

Stay warm and we’ll see you next week.

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!

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