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Healthy lifestyle through an organized exercise program and organized system of eating....... 

The absolute first step in your health is taking responsibility for your actions.  Once you own up to that, the rest becomes a lot easier.

I have found that one of the keys is everything in moderation both for eating as well as exercising.  Both can be done in excess and harmful.  Eating at home or going out to eat can be a healthy experience if you monitor the portions and quality of the foods you choose. Exercising is good but if done in excess can lead to muscle, tendon, or joint injuries. Yoga, while good for strength, balance and flexibility can also cause injuries if not practiced correctly.  Clinically I have seen patients who have torn tendons, muscles and even herniated discs from incorrect techniques, be it overuse or incorrect posture. Be aware and train with a licensed instructor when doing any form of exercise.

My preferred form of exercise that I recommend is swimming.  You are not stressing joints with gravity or high impact, you use all of your main muscle groups from head to toe as well the heart and lungs.  It is the most efficient form of exercise and burns more calories than most if not all exercises / sports.  I personally swim a mile daily utilizing various strokes to isolate specific muscle groups and it also keeps it from becoming boring. Using a snorkel also helps with increasing pulmonary capacity and eases the strain on the neck.

Having a glass of wine with your supper is actually healthy for the cardiovascular system, then again having an entire bottle of wine for supper can eventually lead to a myriad of diseases ie. Diabetes, liver diseases, alcoholism, etc. 

Those with digestive issues would probably benefit from not having much if any drinks with meals.  The dilution of acids and enzymes is a factor when you add even water.

Having a lean 6oz filet mignon is OK, having a 16 oz. highly marbelized steak is not as healthy. 

A baked chicken breast is preferred to a fried chicken breast. 

Late night snacks should be avoided for several reasons....the most obvious is caloric intake and then not burning those calories off.  Other issues are GERD and ulcers from laying in bed and the activation of acids and enzymes for digestion. 

We all know these things, it's just a matter of being active in the choices. 

I'm not saying we can't have a piece of fried chicken once and awhile, it's OK but you have to look at your entire diet over a week and see how that fits in with your overall food intake.  Going from a fried chicken dinner one night, to a sausage pizza the next then over to a high carb meal is the problem. 

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle incorporating diet and exercise is a FULL TIME JOB! You need to constantly be aware of your daily actions. It's not easy but once a routine is established it's not really all that bad.

Are you drinking enough water? Most are not.  Coffee, soda, tea etc. are not included in your water intake, so take that out of the equation, it needs to be water, plain and simple and it should be 1/2 to 1 gallon a day.  I know,  you are saying "WOW! that's a lot" but that's what's needed to purify and hydrate. 

It's not uncommon to see people drink 2-3 cups of coffee through the day to keep their energy level "up" but again moderation, especially a stimulant should be monitored. Caffeine and sugar creates peaks and valleys and leads to fatigue so the cycle is repeated to say awake and "alert" through the day.  It's a never ending vicious cycle that is hard to break.  If it was just plain coffee that's one thing but throw in all of the "extras" and the problem compounds with high calories, fats, sugars and additives.  If you have to have one then make it a small and again, not an everyday habit.  Switch off to an herbal tea and give your system a rest.

Label read when you grab things off the grocery shelf. I regularly randomly pick items that I don't buy just to see what's in them.  A trick that is employed on labels is the amount of servings in a container.

A well known frozen food company has a pot pie that at first glance seems a little high in calories, fat and sodium content but on closer inspection it is actually for 1/2 of the pie so then you realize it's way over the top in all of the categories with almost 1100 calories and almost 70 grams of fat in the entire pie. Another example a major coffee drink (Cafe Mocha) has 340 calories and 19 grams of fat and 26 grams of sugar (over an ounce). So take just those two items for an entire days diet and you have over 1400 calories, 70 grams of fat and 26 grams of sugar.  Now just realize that's a drink and a pot pie, THAT'S IT!  Where's your fiber, fresh fruit and vegetables and Omega 3 oils in this diet?....none, zero, zilch!

Start your day with fresh oatmeal, fresh fruit and herbal tea.  Fiber, fresh fruit is a good start for the day.  For mid-morning try a greek yogurt snack for protein or a corn / rice cake for fiber or a handful of nuts (good fat and protein).  Both will stave off the hunger. One of my favorites is a multigrain bread with raw peanut or almond butter then topped with raw blueberries.  The bread is a good source of many vitamins and minerals, yes that and the blueberries are carbs but they are taken in slower than most so the sugars don't spike and fall off and the peanut butter is a good fat / protein combo. My favorite mid morning snack is usually plain greek yogurt (read your labels as sugar content varies from 4-9 grams if it is plain) and I top it with raw Irish steel cut oats, raw cocoa powder, raw pecans, and raw blueberries.  Proceed to lunch with a salad with grilled chicken breast and olive oil / vinegar dressing or a squeeze of a lemon instead. For dinner have a portion of grilled fish with vegetables (avoid potato and rice).  One of the best way to keep sugar in check is to have several small meals / snacks instead of your basic 3 meals a day routine.

Most of the time when I dine out I cut the portions of everything in half as soon as it is served.  Typically portions are just too big for a healthy diet.  Limit or avoid the bread and rolls they are just empty carbs.

When the winter Holiday food temptations are upon us, this is typically a time when a weight gain is not unusual.  Those once a year assorted cookies, fudge and candies are tempting.  Go ahead and have some in MODERATION and then take advantage of the time off from work to counter balance the extra calories with additional exercises.  There is usually a boost in health club memberships around the Holidays and those New Year resolutions are attacked with every good intention. The problem is the follow through.  Having been at health clubs for years I see a typical trend...a ramp up of overcrowded conditions in January then dwindling back down by March as dedication is compromised by other "more important things"  and as I have said from the start, it is a matter of taking responsibility for your actions.

Springtime is just around the corner and now would be a good time to prep for Spring and Summer activities.  I see a lot of injuries early on in the Spring season from injuries sustained from muscle and tendon trauma.  Start working on flexibility and strength now so when it's time to play you are ready.  Golfers tend to strain the back from lack of flexibility, not so much from strength issues.  People doing yard work tend to be injured from flexibility as well as strength issues.

Looking for exercises that burn the most calories per hour?  Swimming, squash and snowshoeing are the top three, so try to employ these during the entire year, depending on the season. 

I just returned again from Italy and a few things were quite obvious....not a lot of heavy people in spite of the fact that they typically eat their evening meals between 8:00 PM and 11:00PM,  then go to bed!  This practice has usually been frowned upon here in the States. Besides that is the fact that most meals have a large carbohydrate portion (pasta and bread).

So why the contradiction then?  Well for one thing Italians walk a LOT and there are usually a lot of stairs, even in commercial buildings, most people use the stairs. I did not see a lot of "joggers" there, mostly people were either walking or riding bicycles (which are both a lot easier on the joints by the way) and at a fairly fast pace.

Secondly, most of the foods are farm fresh (daily trips to the market are common) and meal  portions are much smaller than what is typically served here. A typical breakfast is eggs, sliced cheeses, sliced meats and a croissant (which again is a contradiction to our standards for a healthy diet) and fresh fruit. 

Another interesting thing I observed was that people that have a dairy intolerance in the States did not seem to be bothered there.  My suspicion is that our processing of dairy is the culprit.  We use antibiotics, growth hormones and sub- par foods for the cows.  Nothing else seems to make sense!

Their meats are far from lean and yet cardiovascular disease is not as high as it is in the States.  Again, another puzzling issue.  Could it yet again be the antibiotics, poor feed and hormones?  My guess is YES.  Fatty meats are fatty meats, plain and simple.  Something else is going on here.......

Looking for ways to decrease the odds of Dementia?  Recent studies have shown that people in India have a much lower incidence of Dementia and it has been attributed to daily consumption of Tumeric and Black Pepper taken as a drink with water.  Also Blueberries and Blackberries decrease the risk of plaqueing in the brain.

As long as we are on the topic of dementia...studies are starting to show that "statin" drugs are on the increase and in tracking their use there is suggestion that the increase of early onset dementia has spiked since the advent of statin use.  We must remember that our brains fuel is fat and a depletion of this would naturally cause a malfunction in brain activity as it is being starved of needed fuel.

Cholesterol has been given a "bum rap" regarding cardiovascular health.  It is not so much that the arteries are being clogged by fats as it is what initiates the clogging.  The interior arterial walls become roughened and develop "catch points" for the fats to attach to.  Think of them as little fish hooks just sitting there.  The smooth arterial walls can become roughened from inflammation and one of the biggest culprits here is sugar.

To be continued.......................


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