Friday, February 10, 2012

Are Ducts Making You Sick?

If you have a heating or cooling systems that uses air ducts, you could have a problem.
There are many duct systems that are poorly designed and installed that have the ability to bring pollutants into your home.
Some are ducts are located in wet or damp crawl spaces and basements.
I've seen some of these areas and some look like an open sewer.
Having ducts that are not properly sealed or insulated in these locations can draw moisture, mold, bacteria and even carbon monoxide into the building.
Unsealed ducts have the same effect as opening a hatch to these ares, the only difference is that you don't see it and the fan from the heating or cooling appliance will force more of the pollutants into the living space at a much higher rate.
Ducts located in attics can bring in cold dry air in winter, and hot, humid air in summer, dust, dirt and fibers from the fiberglass insulation that is there to keep your house warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
It doesn't have to be this way.
Hiring the right professional who uses duct diagnostic tools and good industry practices will put you on the road to good indoor air quality and a more comfortable environment.

Treatment of Heart Disease with Coenzyme Q10

Since its discovery in the late 1950's Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) has received much attention as a necessary compound for proper cellular function. It is the essential coenzyme necessary for the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) upon which all cellular functions depend. Without ATP our bodies cannot function properly. Without CoQ10, ATP cannot function. This connection has made CoQ10 a very important object of study in relation to chronic disease. In many cases the presence of chronic disease is associated with inadequate levels of CoQ10. But no area of study has received more attention than the relation between CoQ10 and heart disease. That is because CoQ10 is believed to be of fundamental importance in cells with high metabolic demands such as cardiac cells. A further reason the connection of heart disease and CoQ10 has gained so much attention is because heart conditions of many kinds are associated with chronically low CoQ10 levels.
CoQ10 is highly concentrated in heart muscle cells because of their high energy requirements. Add this to the fact that heart disease is the number one killer in developed and developing countries and one can see why the bulk of scientific research on CoQ10 has been concerned with heart disease. Specifically, studies on congestive heart failure have demonstrated a strong correlation between the severity of heart failure and the degree of CoQ10 deficiency. The lower the levels of CoQ10 in the heart muscles the more severe the heart failure. If indeed CoQ10 deficiency is a primary cause of congestive heart failure then, in such cases, the remedy is simple and cost effective; CoQ10 supplementation.
Congestive heart failure is a condition where the heart does not pump effectively resulting in an accumulation of fluid in the lungs. Symptoms may include shortness of breath, difficulty breathing when lying flat and leg or ankle swelling. Causes include chronic hypertension, cardiomyopathy (primary heart disease) and myocardial infarction (irreversible injury to heart muscles). Heart muscle strength is measure by the ejection fraction which is a measure of the fraction of blood pumped out of the heart with each beat. A low ejection fraction indicates a weak heart.
Several trials have been conducted involving patients with enlarged weak heart muscles of unknown causes. For those of you who like difficult phrases this condition (or variety of conditions) is known as idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy. In these trials CoQ10 supplementation was compared to placebo effects. Standard treatments for heart failure were not discontinued. The results were measured by echocardiography (a diagnostic test which uses ultrasound waves to make images of the heart chambers, valves and surrounding structures). The overall results of CoQ10 supplementation demonstrated a steady and continued improvement in heart function as well as steady and continued reduction in patient symptoms including fatigue, chest pains, palpitations and breathing difficulty. Patients with more establish and long-term cases showed gradual improvement but did not gain normal heart function. Patients with newer cases of heart failure demonstrated much more rapid improvement often returning to normal heart function.
Papers numbering in the hundreds from eight different symposia have been written and presented on the effects of CoQ10 on heart disease. International clinical studies have also been conducted in the United States, Japan, Germany, Italy and Sweden. Together these studies and the papers that have been derived from them demonstrate significant improvement in heart muscle function while causing no adverse effects.
One particular area of study involves diastolic dysfunction which is one of the earliest signs of myocardial failure. Diastole is the phase of the cardiac cycle when the heart is filled with returning blood. Because this phase requires more cellular energy than the systolic phase (when the blood is pushed out of the heart) it is more dependent on CoQ10. Diastolic dysfunction is a stiffening of the heart muscle which naturally restricts the heart's ability to pump. This condition is associated with many cardiac disorders. Hypertension is among these disorders. As the heart muscles become stiff there is often a corresponding rise in blood pressure. When the diastolic dysfunction is reversed, blood pressure tends to lower as well. In one study involving 109 patients with hypertension, CoQ10 supplementation was added to normal hypertension treatments. In an average of 4.4 months 51% of the patients were able stop using at least one blood pressure lowering medication. Some were able to stop using up to three medications. Another study produced similar results. In that study 43% of 424 patients were able to stop using between one and three cardiovascular drugs because of CoQ10 supplementation.
These examples are just a drop in the bucket. Diastolic dysfunction (and by proxy, hypertension) includes only a small sampling of heart conditions that respond favorably to CoQ10 supplementation. Other areas of research show great promise for CoQ10 treatments. Among these are cancer and AIDS. But such conditions are beyond the scope of this essay. CoQ10 is essential to the proper functioning of all cell types. It is not surprising, therefore, to find a diverse number of diseases that respond favorably to CoQ10 supplementation. Since all metabolically active tissues are highly sensitive to CoQ10 deficiency, we can expect to see CoQ10 research expand to many other areas of chronic diseases.

The History And Usefulness Of Coenzyme Q10

Throughout my childhood I was aware of the importance of eating well and taking my vitamins. But the science of dietary supplements has come a long way since those days. And one of the stars in this scientific progression is Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). CoQ10 is not a drug. It is a vitamin-like substance that is found in small amounts in a variety of foods and is synthesized within our body tissues.
Enzymes are compounds in the body that are absolutely essential for the many processes necessary to keep us alive and our bodies functioning properly. Mitochondrial enzymes are those particular enzymes that are essential for the production of the high-energy phosphate ATP (adenosine triphosphate) upon which all cellular function depends. Without it our bodies shut down at the cellular level. Coenzyme Q10 is the cofactor upon which at least three mitochondrial enzymes depend. By logical inference then ATP functioning depends upon CoQ10. In short, all human cellular function depends on ATP. And ATP function depends on CoQ10.
As was already said, the production of CoQ10 occurs within our body tissues. Its biosynthesis from the amino acid tyrosine is a complex multistage process requiring several vitamins and trace elements. Under normal conditions we produce all we need while we are young. But there are many factors that can contribute to CoQ10 deficiency. Among these are aging, disease, dietary deficiency, use of statin drugs and increasing tissue demands. Before we get to CoQ10 deficiencies, however, it is well to look at the history of CoQ10 research.
CoQ10 was first isolated by Dr. Frederick Crane in 1957 from the mitochondria of beef heart. During that same year Professor Morton, from Britain, also discovered CoQ10 in the livers of vitamin A deficient rats. During the following year researchers at Merck, Inc. determined its chemical structure and became the first to produce it.
It was neither the British nor the Americans that first found a practical use for the CoQ compounds. Professor Yamamura from Japan first used a related compound (CoQ7) in the treatment of congestive heart failure. Other practical uses then followed. CoQ6 was used as an effective antioxidant in the mid 1960s. In 1972 (in Italy) deficiency of CoQ10 was linked to heart disease. The Japanese, however, were the first to perfect the technology necessary to produce CoQ10 in sizeable enough quantities to make large clinical trials a reality.
After Peter Mitchell won the Nobel Prize in 1978 for defining the biological energy transfer that occurs at the cellular level (for which CoQ10 is essential) there was a considerable increase in the number of clinical studies performed in relation to CoQ10 usefulness. This was due in part to the large amounts of pharmaceutical grade CoQ10 that was now available from Japan and the ability to measure CoQ10 in blood and body tissues. CoQ10 since has become known for its importance as a powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger and as a treatment in many chronic illnesses, especially heart disease.
Coenzyme Q10 Deficiency
The usefulness of CoQ10 as a medical treatment has largely been approached from the perspective that when a chronic disease is present (especially in the case of heart disease) CoQ10 is often grossly deficient. For example, a person suffering from congestive heart failure often demonstrates extreme CoQ10 deficiency. Normal blood and tissue levels of CoQ10 have been well established. Significantly low levels of CoQ10 have been linked to a vast variety of diseases in both animal and human studies.
But if CoQ10 is biosynthesized in our bodies why do we often suffer from deficiency? There are at least three causes. The first is an insufficient diet. Dietary intake of CoQ10 is an important factor in total blood and tissue levels of the compound. If we do not consume enough of the foods that contain CoQ10 then the body must make up the difference. Further, the biosynthesis of Coenzyme Q10 is a complex 17-step process involving a whole string of B vitamins, vitamin C and pantothenic acid. Diets deficient in these compounds make CoQ10 synthesis impossible. This is not the place to discuss the condition of the average diet and the vitamin deficient nature of many of our food sources. Suffice it to say that most of us do not get nearly enough CoQ10 or the other vitamins necessary for optimal synthesis.
The second cause of deficiency is linked to the first, and that is impairment of CoQ10 biosynthesis. In addition to inadequate intakes of the compounds necessary to make CoQ10 there are other biological reasons for inadequate production of it. These might include physiological conditions and chronic diseases that cause failure in production. The treatments of diseases can also be a factor. For instance the use of statins to control cholesterol levels has been implicated in the depletion of CoQ10 levels. The catch-22 is, in treating heart disease we use drugs that deplete natural compounds that in turn are necessary to fight heart disease.
The third cause of CoQ10 deficiency is excessive use of the compound by the body. This again can be related to medications, aging or other causes such as excessive exertion, hypermetabolism, and acute shock states.
The real cause of CoQ10 deficiency is usually a combination of these three influences. It is likely that the average CoQ10 levels which have been observed in humans are suboptimal. In other words, the normal levels of CoQ10 that have become the standard for comparisons are very likely less than optimal. That would mean that the extremely low levels observed in connection with chronic diseases are just the worse case scenarios and that other less serious maladies are connected with lesser levels of deficiency.
If this sounds too much like laboratory theory, it isn't. Patients who suffer from chronic diseases and also demonstrate extreme low levels of CoQ10 are not laboratory specimens. They are people who, in many cases, have been greatly helped by CoQ10 supplementation. If chronic disease is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to CoQ10 deficiency one is forced to wonder what better diets and CoQ10 supplementing could do for the eradication of diseases and other chronic conditions.

Congestive Heart Failure And CoQ10

Since the 1960's there have been numerous controlled clinical trials concerning the relationship between congestive heart failure and Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). As its name implies CoQ10 is a coenzyme that is necessary for the proper functioning of other substances, one of the most important of which is ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP is necessary for the production of cellular energy. By proxy CoQ10 is likewise essential for this process.
Clinical trials have attempted to study the relationship between CoQ10 and many chronic diseases including, but not limited to, heart disease, cancer and AIDS. But heart disease has gained the most attention; congestive heart failure being one of the primary subjects. Because heart muscle cells require so much energy to function and CoQ10 is at the core of the cellular energy process it makes sense to suspect that congestive heart failure might be linked to CoQ10 deficiency. With that theory in mind many studies like the ones that follow have been conducted. These trials have been presented in this essay in thumbnail format.
One early Japanese trial (1972) involved 197 patients with varying levels of severity of cardiac failure. The study reported significant improvement of cardiac function supplementing with 30 mg per day of CoQ10. Another Japanese study demonstrated similar results with 38 patients also supplementing with 30 mg. In 1985 a U.S. clinical study prescribed daily supplementation with 100 mg of the coenzyme for treatment periods of three months for patients with low ejection fraction measurements. The ejection fraction is the measure of the heart's ability to pump blood. A low ejection fraction is a classic symptom of congestive heart failure. Again, significant improvements in heart function were reported. Other clinical trials followed prescribing the same level of supplementation with similar results.
Studies in the early 1990s showed improvement for patients suffering from ischemic cardiomyopathy (a low oxygen state usually due to obstruction) with supplemental levels of 200 mg per day. Supplementing with 100 mg per day demonstrated improvement for patients suffering from idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy, an enlarged heart syndrome of unknown cause.
One of the largest trials of the 1990s involves 641 patients randomly divided into two groups. The first group received a placebo. The other group received CoQ10 supplements. During the one-year follow-up period 118 patients in the placebo group were hospitalized for heart failure compared to 73 in the group that received the supplements.
All of the preceding trials were relatively short-term studies. The level of improvement among patients varied depending on how long they had been suffering from some aspect of congestive heart failure. Through the years it has become increasing clear that the greatest improvements were shown in patients that had suffered from their condition the least amount of time. In other words, the longer a person had been suffering from the disease before he or she received CoQ10 treatments the less improvement was demonstrated. People who had received treatments early in the development of the disease showed the most dramatic improvement often returning to normal heart function. Long-term sufferers received less relief and were less likely to return to full heart function. Whatever the reasons for this disparity in health improvement, it demonstrates the importance of receiving treatment as early as possible.
But what about long-term studies? Do they show the same marked improvement with similar treatment? In the short-term trials it was apparent that even high level supplementing with CoQ10 seemed to produce no ill effects. In order to determine if this is only true for short durations a number of long-term studies were conducted.
In 1990 observations were published concerning 126 patients with dilated cardiomyopathy. Unlike previously noted studies this one followed the patients' progress for six years. Long-term benefits from CoQ10 supplementing were noticed with no harmful side effects. Similar observations were made in a trial involving 2,664 patients treated with CoQ10 at levels up to 150 mg per day.
A 1994 study involving 424 patients with a variety of myocardial (refers to the heart's muscle mass) diseases. Among these conditions were the following: Valvular heart disease (pertaining to dysfunction of heart valves), hypertension, diastolic dysfunction (failure of the heart to properly refill itself with blood), dilated cardiomyopathy (group of disorders where the heart muscle is weakened and enlarged and cannot pump effectively) and ischemic cardiomyopathy (low oxygen state usually due to obstruction of the arterial blood supply). Patients were treated with an average of 240 mg of CoQ10 daily during their treatment period. They were then followed-up for up to eight years with an average follow-up period of 18 months. Overall results demonstrated measurable cardiac improvements in one month with maximum improvements at about six months. With continued CoQ10 treatment the improvement in most patients was sustained. However, discontinuing the treatment usually resulted in a decline of cardiac function with eventual return to pre-treatment conditions.
As always in the medical community many more studies will need to be conducted to determine the future of CoQ10 treatment. However, the research to date seems to support CoQ10 as a viable treatment for many diseases that are caused or exacerbated by inadequate production of cellular energy.

Everyone Wants To Be An Underwear Model

After a particularly grueling workout I find myself sitting in the steam room taking stock of my aching body. I spent the last hour of my life breaking down my muscle fibers, forcing them to rebuild. I spent the last hour of my life sweating my way through a few hundred gut wrenching ab exercises. My shoulders, pecs and triceps are warm and slightly numb with fatigue. My abs are a whole zone of dull ache. Not only does my body ache but my ego has been busied as well. I am by no means like most of the hard bodies I see at the gym. They float into the gym wearing several hundred dollars worth of high fashion fitness gear. Most of the people at my gym start to look better as they sweat. To me, it looks like they come to the gym to show off the temple of their bodies. Each and every movement they make is a declaration of pride.
They come to the gym to maintain. I come to the gym to renovate. I don't look glamorous when I sweat. With every successive exercise I do, my face becomes more flushed and I look every more maniacal. My baggy old work out clothes - last summers painting shorts and a ratty tee- become plastered to my body. My body may be a temple now, but in a past life it was a condemned building facing a wrecking ball.
I Lean my head back and take a deep breath. Why am I here? Why am I doing this? Of course by the time I exhale, the answer is clear in my mind.
Up until a year and a half ago I worked in an office, buried from the world behind a computer. I sat in the same ergonomic chair for most of my forty hour work week. The chair is a point of interest because it is designed by highly educated people to make the act of sitting for long periods more comfortable. It's as though they know that I spend my life stuck in a chair and by making it comfortable, I will be blind to it. My chair, in my office. I drank my pop there, ate my junk food there and I put on about thirty pounds there.
While not a huge amount of weight to gain, the thirty pounds came on top of an already out of shape body. Realistically speaking, a year and a half ago, I was at least forty pounds overweight.
I only really became aware of it when I noticed myself in a wedding photo. I looked like a man who was carrying an extra forty pounds. I looked like hell.
Denial is a wonderful thing. When I first became aware that I no longer had the boyish figure I once had, I simply ignored it. I told myself that the changes were only minor and not really that noticeable.
Denial is only a temporarily wonderful thing. Six months later, I went to buy jeans for myself and discovered that my waist had grown by about four inches. My initial reaction was that the clothing line had changed their sizing practice. But after hitting a few different shops, it was clear that there was no size conspiracy; my waist had grown. It was only by the grace of modern technology and the miracle of stretch fabrics that my current pants still fit me. I was embarrassed. I felt shameful. I felt awful. I ate a pizza.
When I got up I decided that I wanted to feel better about myself. I wanted to be leaner and fitter. I wanted to look like an underwear model, tight tank top synched across a bulging set of abs, leg muscles carved up into well defined portions of muscular geography. Well, at least leaner and fitter. That was a year ago.
I started to dig around and do some research. My first radical decision was to cut out the junk food. Not a tremendous step, but it forced me to learn how to cook in record time. Just cutting out the junk food evened out my caloric intake. Quite by fluke I may add. My weight gain slowed to the point of stopping all together. The most remarkable thing about cutting the junk was the way my body responded. I actually felt better; more up beat, even cool. Psychologically I felt better because I was doing something about my health; I was actively improving my life.
I was thinking about this while daydreaming at the office. I really do work hard, but everyone has their moments. Anyway, I was daydreaming at the office thinking about my active participation in shaping my life. When the full weight of it came down on me (no pun intended). This epiphany came in two parts. Number one; it was my life. Number two; up until recently it had been passing me by in a most unsightly fashion. I sat bolt upright in my ergonomically designed chair, my eyes darting about the office with a fire and intensity not seen in me since winning the regional bicycle safety rally in grade three. I had decided that enough was enough.
Life is a term to describe the sum total of our actions before we die. Life describes every single interaction we have with our environment, its people and places. Put another way, life is all the time we have to do everything. Eat, sleep, meet that special someone, move to the suburbs, get a hobby, drive the kids to soccer, play darts at the pub, join the PTA, go fishing, visit Vegas, go shopping, eat sushi, burn a toss salad and retire. That's life. The real eye opener is that for most of us, we choose how to spend our lives. We make choices that fill up our life. Even more poignant is the fact the many of us make choices that have a negative impact on our capacity to enjoy our lives, even end them prematurely.
I sat stock still in my chair swaying ever so slightly. The earth had moved and a change was afoot.
Sometimes in the comfort of my own home, in front of the bathroom mirror I recount this story to myself. Out loud. I tell my self how after realizing the fragility of my own mortality I rose from my chair, a pillar of renewed strength. How I marched, head held high, into the boss's office and gave them a peace of my mind right before throwing my resignation on their desk. How I joined peace corp. and lived a life of adventure and danger helping those in need; a variable modern-day Robin Hood.
And then I smile and realize that each time I tell the story to myself, it gets better and better. The story is true right up to the point where I tell off my boss. Everything else is poetic license en mass. But the fact is I did have a radical shift in thinking. I did want to be able to enjoy my life. I wanted to make positive choices. So I hit the books.
I dug around the internet for diet and lifestyle help. I came across a whole mess of fad diets, miracle solutions and countless pills, tinctures and supplements. I examined all the hip diets and went through them with a fine tooth comb. Each one of them promising much but lacking even more. None of them really presented me with the tools needed to reshape not just my diet, but my lifestyle as well.
I came across the Icon Diet at when I was close to my wits end. I came at it with all the bias I had acquired over the course of my research. I was jaded and pessimistic. I figured that to really make a difference I would have to design a program for myself - which I really did not look forward to. I was wrong.
I found in the Icon Diet, a means to an end. So I bought the guide and through my self head long into its instruction.
So as I sit in the steam room with my muscles aching and my body sore, I know exactly why I am here. More importantly I know exactly how I got here. They say that power is knowledge. It's true, but knowledge is also a great way to kick yourself in the butt. I know that because of what I have learned I will be back in the gym in couple of days. I know that my muscles will ache again. I have not quit my job. But that's about all that has remained. I focus my life and energy on making positive choices. I want my life to be about growth and learning. In no way do I want to short change myself. My life is a finite, non renewable resource and I want to fill it with good things. I know that I have a long way to go meet my own goals. I know that there will be many more days with aching muscles. But I take comfort in the fact that I am moving towards a greater good; moving one step closer to being an underwear model.

Thinking Too Much: How to Motivate Yourself to Lose Weight

It's winter and it's cold. In the winter the mornings are very humbling. The nights are long, the floor is cold and it sucks leaving the house in the dark. Getting the morning paper involves a blast of cold air from the front door that really motivates one to crawl back into bed. It's days like these that getting beyond the duvet is hard. It's even harder to drag yourself through the wintry morning to the gym. It's the kind of thing I think about before I go to bed. I think about it when I'm waking up and I really think about it when I am trudging through the icy air en route to the gym. But see that's the problem. I think about it too much. Imagine if you could wake up every day with a clean slate and not remember the bone shaking cold and wind chill. Imagine you could only retain the positive memories of working out and improving your overall fitness. Then getting out of bed even on the coldest, most miserable days, would be easy. Instead we have to fight tooth and nail to resist the urge to go back to bed. It's our minds that want to be cozy.
For a fair portion of North America, this article will have little barring on your life as you fortunate few live in more temperate climates. But you look beyond the references to cold and see that what is really at stake is the ability of our minds to convince us that going to the gym is just far too difficult. It may not be a weather issue but your mind is a creative thing and will find some creative ways keep you from the gym.
This struggle can be fought on many fronts but be aware, you are fighting the most powerful force in the world: your mind. Your mind is responsible for determining your perception of reality; it literally defines the world in which you live. This power makes the mind a strong enemy of getting to the gym. There really is only one sure fire method to defeat this powerful foe. Stop thinking. Really. Give up the idea of beating your mind. On those frigid, bluster and bitter mornings, I don't even attempt to beat my mind. There is no way I can argue myself to the gym. I cannot win, my mind and its desire for the warmth of my cozy bed beats me every time. I win because I simply just don't engage it. I don't even let on that I am going to the gym. I don't even think about the cold, or the trip through it. I just don't think. It amazing how much you can accomplish without thinking. What's more, its easy not to think in the morning. I think most of you will agree that first thing in the morning is when the mind is still at its foggiest. Kick it when its down.
The point is, you cannot give yourself the opportunity to talk yourself out of going to the gym. Forget about it, stop thinking and go. While your mind might feel a little neglected, your body will love you for it.

The Lowly Crunch: Defining Your Abdominals

So there I was, a gangly, ungainly guy standing in a giant aerobics studio surrounded by mirrors. Next to me on the floor was a fitness ball. I had never used a fitness ball, in fact I had never even heard of a fitness ball. None the less, there I was. My work out partner, in far better shape then I, was going to show me how to use the ball to make my ab routine more excruciatingly effective.
The whole premise of this heightened routine was to center around the crunch. For those of you who don't know what a crunch is, a crunch is like doing a sit up without actually sitting up. In fact, the whole motion of a crunch is to keep your abs constantly flexed. I had always thought that crunches were like doing push ups on you knees – a bit of a cop out. I was wrong.
The thing about your abs is that unlike other muscle groups they can take a lot. When you work your abs, it takes a lot to get them going. What is really different about abs is that they bulge in their relaxed state and are stretched thin when flexed. Think about your leg muscles for a second. Your quads bulge when you flex them. Abs are the other way around.
Getting myself on to the fitness ball was an exercise in patients. Having never used one before, it was awkward and it felt really odd. This is due in part to my rather uncoordinated nature, and yes I am a horrible dancer. What really made it difficult for me to position myself correctly on the ball was the fact the I was laughing hysterically. Being in the aerobics studio surrounded by mirrors, gave me multiple angles from which to watch my floundering.
Abs are largely responsible for holding you up. They are part of what is known as your core. Your core is what keeps you stable when standing, allows your body to twist at the waist, rise after bending over, and remain, well, upright. While there are other muscle groups involved with your core, abs have a special place in the eyes of the world. Defined abs are a sought after symbol of good health and fine physique.
For the average person, getting setup on the ball, in proper position for crunches, is a relatively easy affair. It merely involves resting your hips and lower back on the ball while planting your feet squarely on the floor. It's like slouching in a chair that has no back. Like I said, really no big deal – unless your me.
I finally nailed the proper setup and once the laughter subsided, I was ready to start. Like all exercises, form is critical. Crunches require very little motion. To begin, lean back as far as your balance allows. Place your hands on your temples with your elbows out. Focus on pushing your lower back into the ball and using your abs pull your shoulders up. In very real terms, you should only be raising your shoulders up about four inches. At the top of the crunch. Hold it for a two count and slowly let yourself back down slowly without disengaging your abs. Repeat. It's really a simple and effective exercise.
In my case, now firmly set up on the ball, I went at the crunches with gusto. Crunched until I simply could crunch no more. It is here that I would like to point out that you need not do this. You should work your abs in sets as with any other muscle baring in mind that you should do more then your average set. Aim for about three sets of fifty and go from there.
In my case, I woke up the next day smiling to myself about the difficulty I had getting used to the fitness ball, after all, it really was easy once I got the hang of it. I smiled as I recalled my impressive display of abdominal endurance. I smiled, and smiled right up until the time I tried to sit up.

Grunting: The Dreaded Free Weight Room

I am new to the world of the gym. Having resolved to make my health and fitness a priority, spending time at the gym is becoming a staple in my weekly routine. While I find that I am getting well acquainted with different exercises and exercise machines, there is one area of the gym that I fear to tread.
Behind a partial wall, tucked to the rear of the building, away from the cardio machines, spinning rooms and yoga mats, is the free weight room. When I work the weight machines I am a stones throw from the free weight room, not close enough to really see what goes on in there, but definitely close enough to hear what goes on in there.
They say if you sit long enough in one place, the whole world will pass you by. This may be true, but if you sit long enough near the free weight room, you see a whole other world of gym patron pass you by. Into this mysterious room disappear giant men, their poor t-shirts barely able to contain their burly mass, arms propped out by massive lats; Amazon women with bodies of iron and physique most men would sell their mothers for. They disappear behind the wall and for a good while they vanish. All that remains is their grunting.
From the free weight room issues forth a chorus of hissing and grunting that would put any tennis player to shame. Now being a novice in the gym, I can only assume the grunting issues forth under the Herculean effort needed to heft such tremendous weights. On my side of the wall, the weight machine side, we are a quiet lot. The only break in the peace is the occasional clang of a poorly executed rep. In fact, on my side of the gym we are so quite, that no one even notices when we come and go. We are like gym ninjas – stealthy and quite. I would like to think that we choose to leave the grunting to the giants on the other side of the wall. Of course, really this is totally untrue. I choose to leave the grunting to the giants on the other side of the wall because I am totally ignorant of free weights.
Talking to a friend of mine who swears that while he loves to use free weights, not all of his kind, are grunters. He does however, insist that free weights are an excellent way to expand your work out. If done correctly, free weights allow you to work a wide range of muscles through a full range of motion, unhampered by any physical limitation often present in a machine. Further, lifting free weights forces your body to develop its stabilizers. These muscles help with balance and support. Another key component of free weights is that there is no size restrictions. That is, you have to be able to 'fit' a weight machine. If not, you cannot use it. Free weights are, according to my friend, an essential aspect of any weight training regime.
I still sit near the free weight room to see the goings and comings of the gym giants, but I have made an appointment with a personal trainer to get introduced to the world of free weights. According to my trainer, good form while using free weights is vital for safety. Injury is possible if not used correctly. I look forward to my first foray into the unknown. I am excited to see what lies behind the wall. My trainer assures me that somewhere behind the wall, there are normal people like myself all taking advantage of free weights. More importantly, grunting is not a prerequisite. Apparently, there are free weight ninjas too.

Boring Ol' Cardio

Cardio is a very important aspect of any work out. There are numerous benefits to a good cardio routine. In the real world, there are many ways to get a good cardio workout. You can jog, play sports and get chased by the police. In the gym cardio usually revolves around a handful of machines. There are the stair climbers or steppers, the elliptical trainers, tread mills, and bicycles. That's about it. A good cardio routine can last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour and is really intensive. The problem is that when you are on a cardio machine, you do the same thing over and over. What I am trying to say is that for most of us cardio gets boring after about five minutes. Don't lie, you know what I am talking about. The best I have every heard about cardio is 'I don't mind it.' In other words, I get really bored, but I will keep doing it cause it works.
Being bored is horrible. Being Bored is even worse when you know you have another 25 min left and the seconds crawl by like eons. So what gives. Why does cardio have to be so boring? I think it's a safety issue. In the real world if you go running or play soccer for example, you environment and all its inputs are constantly changing; you run by different scenery, you miss the shot on goal. These changing characteristics are what make the whole process fun. In the gym, however, since space is limited, you have to do your cardio rooted to one spot. Very little happens to your environment to elevate the boredom. Imagine though, if you could have all the excitement of a soccer game while sitting on a recumbent health cycle? At first you may think it's a great and fun idea. No more boring cardio! Think about it and it becomes a little terrifying. The sheer amount of stimuli hitting you from all angles, your mind would exhaust quickly and you would run the risk of injury (not to mention getting overwhelmed). That is why cardio machines are so boring. They design them to be boring so you don't hurt yourself. So when you climb up onto your favorite elliptical trainer, remember that its boring for a reason.
What can we do to make cardio more fun? Being new to the world of the gym I think I have some neat ideas to make cardio a more exciting activity. Ok that's a lie. I don't have any way to make cardio more exciting, but I do think there are some techniques to make the cardio experience pass more quickly, which, when you think about it, is the next best thing. I really try to distance my mind from my body. I try to unplug. I daydream, listen to loud music and think about my shopping list. For a whole week I designed a basement apartment for my house. It was quite the undertaking. Really focus on not thinking about time. Cover up the timer, know where the near by clocks are and avoid looking at them. Do what ever it takes to detach your self from the realm of the here and now. Remove yourself from our world governed by the second hand. Slip into recesses of your mind and tune out. While the cardio won't go away at least you can distract yourself. Cardio machines make cardio boring and boring cardio is hard to stick with. Take comfort in knowing that your body loves the attention of a good cardio workout.

The Role of Obesity

You would have to be a hermit not to know about the dramatic rise of obesity levels in North America. Health issues have been plastered around the media non stop for the better part of the last five years. The problem is that for the most part the message has been falling short of its mark. There are more obese people in 2004 then there were in 2003. The number of diet related health complications is growing and children are ballooning at a rate comparable to their adult counterparts. On the flip side, the health industry has been showing strong signs of growth, with one in four women and one in five men on a diet at any given time. While times have been tight financially, people have been opening up their wallets in record numbers to by fitness products and gym memberships.
So the bottom line is that while people are actively aware of health and fitness concerns, and are spending more then ever before on products and services to battle poor fitness, North America as a whole is getting fatter. It seems like a contradiction but it is the truth none the less. For one thing, the most people try to fix their health and then give up because it is too challenging. Often they lack the support from friends and family or even the proper skill set to be successful.
However, that being said, North America is in a bad way when it comes to health. We are a society that allows itself to binge to a point where obesity is considered an epidemic. Historically epidemics are things that rage outside of the ready control of human kind. When we typically think about epidemics we think about cholera, typhus or even 'the plague' – bubonic fever. In North America we have allowed our own poor habits to become an epidemic. It is really a shameful situation. We are simply eating ourselves to death. It is so serious that we have declared a war on fat. A war, on fat. Somehow by drawing on images of fighting, of military might, of violence, we will be able to battle obesity.
Are we that soft (no pun intended)? Can we not take responsibility for our own actions, including what we put into our bodies? Recently there have been lawsuits filed against fast food establishments that charge them with knowingly selling harmful goods. The lawsuit does not surprise me, after all it's the American way, it does surprise me that we are willing to acknowledge that we cannot feed ourselves safely. That is, by assuming the position of a victim we allow someone else to be responsible.
In North America, the sad truth of the matter is that we have managed to take the normal daily necessity of eating and pervert it into a national killer of epidemic proportions. We are, as a society, beginning to ask why this as happened. Fingers are being pointed at corporations who used processed foods to enlarge their bottom lines at the expense of health, at the creation of 'big box' food companies who saturate the media with their products inciting us to eat, at the government for being so passive and allowing obesity to become such an issue, at budget cuts that see physical education programs taken out of schools. Everywhere you look you can find a guilty party.
While all this seems to make sense - after all you can start healing after you find the culprit- this mode of reasoning deprives us of our individuality and our integrity. If we allow others to be responsible over such base matters as our eating, then what we are really doing labeling ourselves as incapable.
Yes, obesity is an epidemic. Yes, drastic measures should be taken to stem the growth our waist lines. However, the only one to really blame for this is ourselves. Accept in a very few cases, nobody forces you to eat anything. What you eat is predicated on choice alone. Make a choice and choose to be healthy. Take responsibility for what goes into your body. Be capable of guiding your own health and well being.

Focus: A Weight Loss Strategy

I just finished working my quads on a weight machine. My head races and my body hums all in an attempt to lose weight. Only moments ago, my legs worked so hard that they began to fail. They worked so hard that my muscle tissue cried out in pain and began to tear. Now having just finished, my body sweating with the effort, I can rest for a couple of minutes before doing it again.
Each day this week I will have targeted a different group of muscles. Each day I will work them, stretch them, and tear them. Each day, I will work so hard that my heart beats a new rhythm into my metabolism. Each day, my body will set to repair the damage I have done in such manner that it does not happen again. Each day doggedly break my body down and force it to improve itself. This is working out, this is getting fit, this is what it takes.
As I sit and stretch between sets, my quads still reeling, I scan around the gym. I take in those around me. At this hour, there are few people willing to brave the cold mornings to make the run to the gym. There are two people working with some free weights near by. They are within earshot and while I am resting I listen to them complain about, work, relationships, their bosses, clothes, their bodies and their friends. The conversation flows from one topic to the next seamlessly and it is clear by their candor that they know each other well; that they have been friends and work out buddies for a while. What grabs my attention however, is not the meandering topics of their conversation, but the fact that conversation is occurring at all.
I ponder this until I start on my second set. As my second set starts, all I can focus on is exercise; flexing my muscles against the weight. During the relatively short time it takes for me to run through my set and completely exhaust my quads, every action, every breath becomes an exercise in methodical control and economy. Every action I make is geared to the exercise at hand.
When I finish and I reengage with the world, I come back to the two people and their on-going conversation. As they chat, they work through a routine of exercises that look habitual and ritualized. When they work their muscles, they go through the motions; intent more on the conversation and company then their bodies.
There is a point to this. There is a myth, an urban legend if you will, that says going to the gym will make you lose weight. It is a logical extension of the same myth that says I need to go to the gym, I am out of shape. These two ideas have become synonymous with healthy lifestyles and fitness. For the two people I observed, simply being at the gym was enough to assuage their concerns for their physical health. The bottom line is that this is an illusion. To make yourself fit, you need to break your body down and force it to rebuild. The idea being that after the rebuild, you will be stronger and fit. This cannot occur by merely being in a gym, or as in the case with the talking pair, this cannot occur by going through the motions of working out.
Before I get accused of being a fanatical meat head just understand that I carry an extra few pounds around my waist. All I know is that to really make progress, to have physical and visible results, you must have an impact on your body. The kicker is that they almost have it made. These people are at they gym early on a cold morning. They are committed to their weight loss goals. They go through the motions of their exercises like a well rehearsed dance routine. Clearly they want to achieve something with their bodies. If they just focused, and worked their bodies just a little more; enough, say, to deny them the ease of conversation, then the results would be tremendous.
The whole point is that you have to be clear about what it is you want to accomplish. I know with every fiber in my being, that I will burn off the extra weight around my waist and that I will firm up my desk loving muscles. But I won't do it by talking.

Weight Loss Hypnosis

Obesity is a national epidemic. 58 million Americans are overweight and 80% are more than 25 lbs overweight. 70% of heart disease and 80% of all type II diabetes is directly attributed to obesity. 15% of children are obese and 70% between the ages of 6-8 believe that fast food is healthier than home cooked meals. Today's children could be the first generation whose life expectancy is less than that of their parents.
Much of the problems associated with obesity begin in childhood. We make concrete decisions about self-image, what food means to us and how active a life we will lead, very early in our lives. There are also cultural influences which can dictate the nutritional paths we take.
Another factor is the emotional and compulsive connections to food. Millions use food to feel good or to at least feel better. Food offers temporary relief from symptoms of depression, loneliness, anger and stress. Another factor is how productively our body's function which can have a major influence in how we look. A hypoactive thyroid slows down the metabolism making it next to impossible to lose excess weight.
In addition to all of this there is the problem of social hypnosis or advertising which bombards us with a never ending stream of useless, unproductive and unhealthy information 24 hours a day, everyday. To make matters worse advertisers aren't even consistent with their manipulative message. On one hand they say we need to be anorexic to be beautiful, and on the other they say that 'happy meals' qualify as healthy nutrition.
Long term problems begin when these unhealthy patterns are repeated over time. We are creatures of habit, we are what we think. Consistently repeating patterns of unhealthy nutrition and sedentary living ensures that they will continue. It's the repetition that gets them deeply rooted in our long term memory, or subconscious mind, where they take on a life of their own.
When an individual attempts to alter the path of an established pattern conflict results. This is what a smoker goes through when trying to quit on a conscious level. They experience mood swings, cravings and palpitations. Conflict with dieting occurs when an individual eat things they really don't want to eat and does things they don't really want to do, like exercise.
When the subconscious doesn't get what it expects individuals become uncomfortable and stressed. The only way to make things right is to give the subconscious mind what it wants. Intellectually they know the changes they should make and the type of body they want to have but when this inner conflict arises the individual feels powerless and more often than not they revert to their old ways.
Hypnosis melts away the conflict. It helps uninstall old patterns and rapidly download new applications supporting new positive thoughts, actions and results. By stepping into this peaceful inner daydream world individuals have the unique opportunity to take control in way they never thought possible.
Mental imagery is one of the most powerful benefits of hypnosis. The hypnotist taps into the client's imagination which is in the subconscious. This enables clients to create powerful images of ultimate health and fitness. Then the hypnotist offers suggestions supporting how easy it would be to make a few changes if this is the reward. This establishes a linear subconscious connection between action and positive results, and by routinely reinforcing this peaceful message clients easily go from concept to reality.
Making changes on the subconscious level makes new thoughts seem automatic. It speeds up the learning curve. A good clinician will record your session so you can listen to it on your own. Repetition rules with the problems and solutions as well. It took years of repetition to create the problem but the good news is that hypnosis dramatically speeds up the process to success.
With hypnosis an individual can disconnect from patterns of compulsive or emotional eating. One method directs the client to regression back to where compulsive or emotional eating began. Usually there is a general idea of how and when such patterns began.
Then they imagine a past event is replayed and they can see and feel the stress, concern or compulsion with food begin. It's important to recreate the anxiety because then they get to make it go away.
They picture a thick glass dome being lowered over the past event and the lower it gets the more freedom and relief they experience. In moments the doom locks down into the floor completely preventing this experience from ever affecting their adult life again. Once they are free from the past they move forward and freely begin to choose new paths supporting fitness and fulfillment.
Success with hypnosis depends on how open the client is to relaxing, whether they are truly committed to creating positive change and if they give themselves the opportunity to become proficient with the process. Serious minded individuals with a strong desire to learn and grow usually do very well.
In addition to weight loss clients become more relaxed, centered and focused. They are much less affected by the day-to-day stress of life. This type of routine relaxation produces more smiles, laughter and an easy natural progression to shaping the body they were meant to have.

How to Get The Most From Your Home Workouts

A recent study found that home workouts may do even more good than workouts at a gym. This is good news for people who are time crunched and find it's too much trouble to make it to a health club.
So how do you get the most from your home workouts? Follow these suggestions:
1. Have A Plan. Know exactly what it is you want to accomplish and how you intend to get there. Plan out the exercises and the amount of reps and weight you will use. If time is a factor, make sure the volume of your workout fits the alloted time. If you can only squeeze in 10-15 minutes, then make the most of it. Use compound moves for the large muscle groups. Use an exercise log and refer back to it. It's a great way to track your progress.
2. Have What You Need. Make sure you have available any equipment you intend to use and that you know how to use it. If you have never used resistance tubes, then practice with them in advance so you get a sense of the tension they provide. If you plan to use a stability ball, make sure you have the right size for your height. See a chart here.
3. Know How to Do Things Right. Make sure you are familiar with the exercises you plan to include in your home workout. Do some research and completely understand any new exercises you intend to do. Form is very important. Proper form will keep you from injuring yourself.
4. Mix Things Up. Don't stick with one workout for ever. Your body will quickly adapt to any form of exercise if you stay with it for too long. Make sure in your planning stage that you build in variety through new exercises, a different exercise order, different rep scheme or try supersets or a circuit.
5. Get Support. Work with a personal trainer to learn what you should do and how you should do it. A recent study showed that people who worked with a trainer worked harder and met their goals faster than those who did not.
Just because you are doing a home workout does not mean that it can't be as tough or tougher than people who travel to a gym. Once you know where you are going and how you intend to get there, the rest is up to you. Follow your plan, give it 100% effort, eat right, and you'll be on your way to a fit body.

Choosing the Right Multivitamin

Choosing the right multivitamin can be a difficult undertaking. With so many choices on the market, its important to know a little bit behind the scenes in order to make the right choice. So what do you look for in a multi-vitamin? Well, that varies depending on your needs, but to fulfill the basic purpose of a multi-vitamin, it needs to contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. By now your probably thinking, ok, well i thought all the "multivitamins" did include the essential recommended daily intake? If that's what you thought, sorry to break it to you, but your wrong. In order to fulfill your recommended daily intake you would need to take, on average, 10 multivitan pills a day! Who wants to swallow 10 pills a day, I knowIi dont, if your with me, then read on.
Pills are simply not able to contain the required amount of ingredients to meet the recommended daily intake within a single capsule. The reason being, a pill requires other essentials before the vitamins and minerals can even be added. The pill needs to be stable enough to be ingested, in order for the active ingredients to be absorbed. Up to 80% of a pill can be filler, certainly they cant fit the daily recommended intake in the other 20%. Another reason pills are in-sufficient is the fact that the pill itself inhibits the absorption of the active ingredients. This means you aren't even getting all of the vitamins and minerals that are in the pill.
With that said, dont fret, there is a viable alternative to taking pills as your multi-vitamin. High potency liquid vitamins are the answer. With liquid vitamins you get the best all around benefit. Liquid vitamins have almost no filler in them whatsoever, in turn, you get larger quantities of the essential vitamins. Not all liquid vitamins are made equal however, but generally speaking, they all out-do a pill. The best liquid vitamins will give you 100% of your recommended daily intake for 10+ different vitamins, as well as a mixture of various other vitamins and minerals. Liquid multi-vitamins should not only be packed with the vitamins you need, but also provide general nutrition. If you are a vegetarian, make sure to check the liquid multi-vitamin to see if its a 100% vegetarian formula, many are not.
To sum things up, there is really no reason to take a multi-vitamin pill. Liquid vitamins compare in price, and beat pills in every other department. Choose your multi-vitamin wisely, and you'll be on the path to a heatlhier, more vibrant you!

Top Five FAQs About Nail Fungus

What is nail fungus?
Nail fungus, also known as Onychomycosis, is an organism which digests the keratin found in your fingernails and toenails. The fingernail and toenail are naturally built to be strong barriers, and resistant to fungi and other infections. However, because of how strong this barrier is, once the infection is present, it is sometimes very difficult to eliminate.
How can I prevent nail fungus?
One of the most important steps in preventing nail infections is to keep nails well trimmed, but not over trimming them. Cutting the nail too short can cause small cuts and tears, which could allow fungal organisms to penetrate your nail bed. To prevent toenail fungal infections, keep your feet as dry and clean as possible at all times. Change socks and shoes frequently. If you have athlete's foot, treat it regularly. Athlete's foot is a fungus which can spread to your toenails. Do not share nail clippers with anyone else, as it is possible to transmit the fungus.
How common is nail fungus?
No one knows for sure, but experts estimate that 30-35 million Americans are affected by this condition.
What are the symptoms?
Because nail fungus can affect the toenails' appearance, they are rather unsightly for an untrained eye. Usually people first discover the infection because of the nail discoloration. Nails may turn green or yellow, but in some cases they turn into an even darken color. Other rather common nail fungus symptoms may be: nails may get flaky, and chipped, bits of "gunk" or debris may collect under your nails, your nails may smell bad, toenails may get so thick that wearing shoes causes pain, discomfort from the infection may make it hard to walk, or do other activities.
How can I cure my nail infection?
There are two primary methods of treating nail fungus. Topical treatments (liquids, creams) are commonly used for to treat less severe cases. These treatments are usually acid-based liquids or anti-fungal creams. Oral treatments are powerful anti-fungal medications, such as Lamisil or Sporanox. Prescription oral medications are usually used in more severe or difficult cases. Nail infections can be difficult to cure, but can usually be treated effectively. See the nail fungus treatments section at for more information.
If you suspect that you have a fungal nail infection, you should see your doctor or dermatologist. Your doctor will do a test to tell if you do have a fungal nail infection, and if you do, make a recommendation on treatment options. The earlier that an infection is detected, the easier it will be to treat.

Being Nice Can Be Hazardous To Your Health

"Mom, what did the doctor say about your liver function tests?" Martha and her mother Leah spent plenty of time on the phone the days before the follow-up doctor visit talking about what this abnormal blood test could mean. With a heavy sigh Leah said, "Well, the doctor looked like he was having a hard day, and there were lots of people in the waiting room and they looked very sick, so I didn't ask." Martha said, "If you took care of yourself with just a fraction of the nurturing you give to everyone else in the whole world, you would be in great shape."
Leah's life is guided by two words: "Be nice." In her perfect day, everyone gets along, she anticipates and meets the needs of others and goes to sleep knowing she's a worthy person because people tell her so. Leah avoids conflict and she would never dream of making a scene. When she gave the cashier at the grocery store a $20 bill for a $7 item and got back $3 she didn't say a word. Her perfectionism usually heads off criticism, but sometimes it backfires. She tried to help her adult son, who said with annoyance, "Mom, stop being such a people-pleaser." Leah's darkest fear is that she will not give enough and wind up all alone, abandoned by her friends and family.
While being nice sounds like a good idea, there's a problem. It doesn't work. People pleasers often take care of others at the expense of themselves. Activities that promote health, like the daily walk and a good night's sleep are sacrificed when someone else is in need. Trying to avoid or ignore conflict and anger is like trying to hold a beach ball under water. Unexpressed feelings can pop up as physical ailments, such as heartburn or depression or back pain. When your value as a person is defined by what other people think about you, and you don't measure up, food or alcohol medicate the emptiness.
If you're a people-pleaser who gets sick, the same behaviors that got you to the doctor in the first place may stand in the way of getting good health care. You might not want to "trouble your doctor" with your problems. If you have side effects from a medication, you might simply stop taking the pills rather than tell your doctor that you want to try a different medication. A cross look from the front office staff when you ask for a copy of your medical record may be all you need to decide that you're not doing that again.
The bottom line is that being nice can be hazardous to your health. It erodes your health and impairs your ability to get better if you're sick.
I invite you to examine how being nice is working for you. Serving others offers great rewards. Serving at the expense of yourself comes with a huge cost that ultimately limits your ability to serve. You can be freed from the imprisonment of people-pleasing. If you want to treat yourself with more love and respect, here are some thoughts.
Re-think being nice.
People-pleasing is a learned behavior that can be unlearned. Although habits may be deeply engrained, small changes can make a huge difference. Next time you're asked to volunteer, instead of jumping in with a "Yes", say, instead, "I'll get back to you on that." You will come to understand that "no" is a complete sentence, and you can utter the word! If you can't imagine doing this, use this "fake it till you make it trick"...tell yourself that you're taking care of your children's father, your mother's daughter or your pet's owner.
Take care of yourself every day.
Get exercise, nutrition and rest every day. Do something that recharges your batteries every day no matter what. It's a clichŠ¹, but when you're on a plane you're instructed to put on your own mask before taking care of others.
Bring an advocate with you to the doctor.
Engaging in acts of self-care, like going to the doctor, can feel like swimming upstream to a people-pleaser. Being nice takes the form of being a good patient who doesn't make waves.
Here is something critical to remember: You are not there to take care of your doctor; your doctor is there to take care of you. In the past you may have made your medical choices by raising your antennae and tuning into what you think will make your doctor happy. You certainly want your doctor's opinion, and in most cases you will agree with your doctor's recommendations. Sometimes getting good care means making waves, like asking , "What are the other treatment options?" or requesting a more complete explanation or seeking a second medical opinion.
While it's always a good idea to take a second set of listening ears to a doctor appointment, it's particularly important if you're a people-pleaser. An advocate will assure that you and your health care team stay focused on taking care of you.
Accept help.
People-pleasers can give from dawn to dusk, but they rarely accept help, even when they're sick. When I ask my patients who are people-pleasers how it feels to help a friend struggling with illness, the answer is a broad smile. Then I remind them that when they accept help, they give their friends a chance to have those same good feelings.
If you are a people-pleaser, your heart might be racing. I assure you I'm not asking to give up serving others. I'm suggesting that a healthy life is a life in balance, and I encourage you to treat yourself as nicely as you treat others. When you take care of yourself, you offer us the gift of most fully who you are. Then you can really serve.
It's more important than ever to take an active role in your healthcare. The best way to get top-quality, safe and effective healthcare is to actively and knowledgably participate. Visit for the tools to get you there.

Massage For Hip Pain

Sometimes hip pain is just muscular and caused by trigger point in the muscles.
And you can get relief to your hip pain just by massaging the muscles that are responsible of harboring the trigger points.
This is how you do it.
You search for tender spots from muscles near your hip joint, and massage them trough out the day in small sessions.
If you find a spot that amplifies or reproduces the pain symptom that's troubling you when pressed, great you are on the right track, give that spot extra attention. But don't neglect other spots entirely for the sake of that special one.
The results you are after along with the pain relief is for the spots to become less tender.
You want to give the massage a few days to kick in before you make any judgment for its effectives.
Within a week or so you should be able to tell if it helps or not, and if it's worth pursuing any further.
For the massage you probably want to use tennis ball against a floor because it allows you to reach and self massage virtually any muscle in you body effectively.
Here is a list of muscles that are generally attributed to hip pain.
It's not complete list but helps you to get started.
If you don't have an anatomy book you can do a picture search with your favorite search engine, that should help you get going. Gluteus minimus Gluteus maximus Quadratus lumborum tensor latae fasciae piriformis vastus lateralis vastus intermedialis
Good luck

The Truth About Anxiety Disorders, Panic Attacks & Phobias

For over a decade I have been helping tens of thousands of anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, PTSD and OCD sufferers to eliminate their conditions permanently. Yes, I did say permanently, because, contrary to popular belief, they can be eliminated 100%!
So how do I cure mental illnesses like anxiety disorders? Well firstly, they are not mental illnesses, they are behavioural conditions which are stored as memory, habit and instinct in an organ called the Amygdala, seated inside the subconscious brain; and, secondly, I don't like the term disorder, it implies illness and inappropriate anxiety isn't an illness, it's inappropriate anxiety!
Psychologists and doctors are wrong! Anxiety doesn't require drug treatment, in fact it's counter-productive; neither does it require counselling or psychological analysis. So what is needed? It's simple, the Amygdala which is confirmed by the National Institute of mental Health as the cause of anxiety disorders, stores the anxious response as memory, instinctual memory which reacts independently of 'conscious' control. You just can't control it by thinking about it! So, when this organ becomes 're-set' at a higher than normal benchmark level of anxiety due to stress, work pressure, bereavement, or whatever, the subconscious continues to fire anxious signals out from it even though YOU know 'consciously' that it is wrong.
By undermining this reaction and replacing that subconscious anxious reaction with a more appropriate reaction, the Amygdala can be 're-set' to a completely appropriate 'normal' anxiety level… this eliminates the inappropriate anxiety completely and restores the sufferer back to feeling normal again, free form anxiety symptoms, panic attacks and phobias!

Menopause and Osteoporosis

We know that our bodies require calcium and vitamin D in order to build and maintain powerful bones. According to his recent book entitled, "Preventing and Reversing Osteoporosis," by Dr. Alan Gaby, it takes more vitamins than we think to prevent brittle bones including Vitamins K and B; as well as minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, fluorine, silica and boron.
The idea is to provide enough combined supplementation for our bodies to make an abundance of healthy collagen which is the connective tissue used to create cartilage and bones. Collagen also 'binds' our cells together and as a result, someone with good collagen has healthy looking skin whereas another will have thin and wrinkled skin.
A healthy bone cut in half looks similar to a sponge. The body deposits calcium, phosphorus and other minerals onto all of those connective fibers and you get healthy bones! The holes give the bone its flexibility, and you won't have healthy bones if you don't have plenty of collagen on which to deposit the minerals.
Collagen is primarily a protein which is made from amino acids. Our bodies can create some of our requirements but we also need additional amounts from our foods and supplements including lysine and praline. Vitamin C is also required to create collagen.
Now we know how bones can be made stronger, but how is this process affected by menopause? The loss of estrogen due to menopause or possibly surgical removal of the ovaries can accelerate bone loss for a period of up to 8 years. It is well established that replacing that estrogen helps protect against the risk of osteoporosis.
More often, women's bones become fragile as we age and it's not uncommon to break bones in the wrist, spine and hip due to osteoporosis. Unfortunately, a fracture such as in the hip, can even shorten our life span so it is important to pay attention to our bone health.
What should be done to prevent osteoporosis from happening after menopause?
First of all, eat the foods that are calcium-rich (about 1,000 mg per day) and can enhance bone growth including: sardines, salmon, seafood, and green leafy vegetables such as swiss chard, beet tops, kale, mustard greens, collards, spinach, dandelion greens, watercress, parsley, chicory, turnip greens, broccoli leaves, almonds, asparagus, blackstrap molasses, broccoli, cabbage, carob, figs, filberts, oats, prunes, sesame seeds, tofu and other soy products.
Vitamin D-rich foods include fish oils such as found in salmon, mackerel, sardines), eggs (including the yolks), sweet potatoes, tuna, vegetable oils and cod liver oil. Getting 15-20 minutes of sunlight exposure daily can also boost production of vitamin D.
Exercise is crucial; in particular, you need weight-bearing exercise such as walking, Tai chi, dancing and weight training to reduce the chances of brittle bones at least two times a week. Include 15 to 60 minutes of aerobic activity two to three times a week. Avoid high-impact activities and include stretching exercises.
Finally, use high-quality supplements prescribed by your doctor or health-care provider, and oh yeah, don't forget to have fun.

Researching Glyconutritionals (a.k.a. Glyconutrients)?

The Greek word "Glyco" means, "Sugar". Most people think of sugar as being bad for you. However, there are actually TWO kinds of sugars. One is the refined or "extracellular" sugars which have been long associated with human disease. The other sugars are "intracellular" which can be found in fruits and vegetables and provide the body with nutrition it needs. These sugars, also known as complex carbohydrates, have been studied for years. However, only recently have we begun discovering their purpose in the body.
An increasing number of scientists believe that certain carbohydrates represent the next frontier in the search for non-toxic treatments for various degenerative conditions. Even though we have just begun to scratch the surface in understanding the full potential of these carbohydrates, the research being reported in just the last decade has ignited a new level of hope and optimism with some of the world's leading immunologists.
One of the world's most renowned veterinary immunologists, Dr. Ian R. Tizard, writes in a published paper entitled Carbohydrates, Immune Stimulating, "there has long been a tradition in folk medicine that extracts of certain fungi and plants may be of assistance in the treatment of cancer. On investigation, many of these extracts have been found to possess potent immune- stimulating activity. In many cases, this activity is attributable to complex carbohydrates."
Healthy bodies are comprised of many components working together in sophisticated harmony, and must have accurate internal communication to function correctly. In it's most basic form, this communication occurs at the cellular level.
To maintain a healthy body, cells must "talk" to each other. Their language is one of touch, written in saccharides (or simple sugars) on the cell surfaces. These simple sugars combine with other molecules to make glycoforms such as glycoproteins when combined with proteins or glycolipids when combined with fat. Of the 200 monosaccharides (glyconutrients) that occur naturally in plants, 8 have been discovered to be components in the cell surface glycoforms (see Harper's Textbook of Biochemistry--1996). Like thousands of different "keys" projecting from the cell surface, they will either unlock the required functions of the adjoining cell or not. If the right keys are available, the body functions smoothly. If not, it doesn't. Acta Anatomica, which is a European journal, states that these simple sugars have a coding capacity that surpasses that of amino acids!!
Glyconutritionals provide the cellular communication needed in the body.
Only two of the eight monosaccharides (glyconutrients) are found in today's diet. Our diets have changed in response to the demands for quicker, cheaper food. Consequently, we are not eating foods that contain the necessary fuels for our cells to communicate in a healthy, effective manner. While our body has the capacity to manufacture these simple sugars, the conversion process is complicated. During the conversion process your cells are exposed to tens of thousands of free radical hits each day. This requires time, energy and a host of other micronutrients in order to complete the conversion. Viruses can also interfere with our body's ability to make these conversions. People who are ill or who have inborn errors of metabolism are especially vulnerable to a breakdown in the process. Whenever the monosaccharides cannot be made, communication is slowed down or impaired as a result.
Since your body has more than a trillion cells and fully regenerates all of its cells in approximately 1 year, any miscommunication or slowdown could cause major health problems. With millions of cells regenerating each day, it's easy to imagine what could happen if during this process, the cells didn't regenerate correctly. This is why glyconutritional supplements are essential to our diet!
Now that you hopefully understand glyconutrients a little bit better I also wanted to share with you a "plain English" definition of phytochemicals (or phytonutrients) and what they mean to you as well.

The Best Diet for your Body Type in 5 easy steps

Common sense (not to mention professional medical opinon!) suggests that a 'balanced' diet is best for almost everyone. By 'balanced', we mean that you strictly control your consumption of saturated fats and refined sugar, and be careful about how much protein you eat. Kind of makes the Atkins Diet look a little shaky, doesn't it? The Atkins Diet, and other 'crash' diets are a knee-jerk reaction to a disturbing Western diet phenomenon - in short, our diet is getting worse, and we are ALL getting fatter!
In most western countries (particularly the USA and Europe) most citizens consume too much saturated fat (generally, the rise of 'McBurgers' and other 'fast' foods is thought to be responsible for this). Likewise, we all eat too much refined sugar, which is a major component of most 'soft' drinks (or sodas) and is also found in horrendous quantities in refined white flour. The use of white flour in our bread has also contributed to a related problem - we tend to get too little fiber in our diets nowadays! Is fast food the culprit? Given that over half of every dollar spent on food in the USA is spent in fast food outlets nowadays, the answer is probably 'yes'.
Twenty years ago, an obese person would be the center of some attention - a medical problem might be suspected. Nowadays, almost 1 in 3 Americans is obese, as are 1 in 5 Brits. The problem has gone from being small, to being (literally!) large. And this has happened in a single generation. So how can we get back to diet basics?
Firstly, Balance that diet! Make sure you eat foods from ALL the major food groups.
Secondly, Keep the saturated fat and refined sugar intake LOW. Our bodies need fat and carbohydrates, but DON'T need saturated fat or refined sugar - we only eat them because they taste good!
Thirdly, stick with the 'good' carbohydrates. Good carbs include fresh vegetables, fruit and potatoes. Items like whole wheat bread, pasta, rice, oats, beans and whole grains are also excellent providers of the essential elements and energy our bodies need to function healthily. There is a reason why doctors advise us to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day - it keeps us healthy! (and even helps prevent cancers!).
Fourthly, you CAN eat fat in reduced amounts, but it must be 'good' fat. By this we mean monounsaturated or polyunsaturated food sources, and NOT animal fats, which 'clog' up arteries, and contribute more than anything else to heart disease. Fat of any kind is particularly heavy in calories (2 times the average of other foodstuffs), so you must keep the amount you eat right down if weight loss is the aim.
Fifthly, and this is a funny one, ALWAYS make a shopping list before you go out, and STICK TO IT! The number of 'impulse' purchases we all make would surprise you, and believe you me, these impulses are ALWAYS bad for the tummy!

Make Food Your Friend

The food you choose to eat, can be your answer to a healthy vibrant body or it can be the cause of your sick body. The fact is we need good nutrition for good health.
Good nutrition can be broken into four categories: water, carbohydrates, protein and fat.
WATER; water is an essential nutrient involved in every function of the body. It helps transport nutrients and waste products in and out of cells. We need to drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of filtered water each day.
CARBOHYDRATES; carbohydrates supply the body with energy. The best carbohydrates are from plants and include: fruits, vegetables, legumes (peas, beans) or milk and milk products. Young children need higher amounts of dairy products as they grow. Adults should refrain from too many dairy products, because they are acid forming foods. To learn more about acid forming foods and how it relates to our health, refer to; and read the article called "The Fountain Of Youth".
PROTEIN; Protein is essential for growth and development, it provides energy and is required to manufacture hormones, antibodies, enzymes and tissue. The correct proteins also help maintain the proper acid-alkaline balance in the body. Protein can be found in meat, fish, poultry, eggs, hemp hearts, grains, legumes, leafy green vegetables, beans, brown rice, some nuts, milk and dairy products.
FATS; fat is the most concentrated source of energy. Children require more fat for normal brain development. All humans need fat to provide energy to the body.We get our fat from animal and dairy products, as well as the different types of oil such as; olive oil, coconut oil, hemp oil, vegetable shortening and many other types of commercially prepared oils. Some fats are good for us and others are not. It is important for a person to research the information on good fats versus bad fats.
There are many different eating plans and each person must find one that suits their body and lifestyle.
The newest health information is now suggesting that over 50% of all the food that we consume should come from vegetables and fruits. The Canadian Cancer Society suggests 8 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Most of these should be raw. You have the knowledge about the basic foods we need to maintain a healthy body.
To learn even more about how our diet affects our body, I suggest you read the book
"Death By Diet" written by Robert Barefoot
Here is the rest of the story.
There are many foods that we all like to eat, but they can be harmful and don't offer any nutritional value. We should eliminate these foods from our diets:
All white food, white flour, white sugar, white rice, and white pasta.
Junk food; such as soda, candy and chips.
Prepackaged foods, frozen dinners and other commercially prepared frozen foods. Processed meats, commercially canned foods, such as vegetables, fruits, baby foods, juices, sauces and condiments.
The exception to this rule is buying organically prepared foods.
Right now you might be feeling overwhelmed, but if you start slowly and change your shopping habits bit by bit, your taste buds will change and you will embrace the new eating plan.
Soon you will have a healthy, vibrant body!

What is Eustachian Ear?

Eustachian Ear is the name given to the medical problem that arises when the Eustachian tube in the middle ear is blocked. In the ear, the Eustachian tube normally allows the middle ear to drain into the throat. There is drainage because the middle ear has a fairly constant liquid which keeps the middle ear space moist and allows the liquid to drain down into the throat.
This tube can be blocked for many reasons; common cold, sinusitis, nasal allergy, throat infection, food allergies and sometimes in small children, large adenoids. When the Eustachian tube is blocked the pressure in the middle ear cannot be equalized. If the blockage continues, fluid will build up. Make no mistake, this can be very serious. To assist your body to cure this problem there are simple things you can do.
Clean your ears well all the time.
Address the cause of the contributing problem i.e.; allergies, sinus infection, or throat infection and also treat the ear problem. Cure the body and the ears should clear themselves. Use E.A.R. Drops; these drops are a special formula chosen to solve a wide range of ear problems from simple infections to plugged Eustachian Tubes.
Ear problems are most prevalent in children and seniors, but none of us are exempt. Poor diet and a poor immune system, can often be the reason we develop ear problems. By changing our life style, we can prevent illness and have a healthy, vibrant body.

How To Incorporate Exercise Into Everyday Life

With many of us having sedentary jobs that demand little or no exercise at all, finding time outside of our work environment for exercise has become increasingly important. Lack of exercise is linked to many conditions and illnesses, such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Exercising sufficiently does not mean you need to become a workout wonder at the gym, or that you need to jog five miles a day. Exercise can be incorporated into your daily life so that it feels a natural part of your life, and a natural part of who you are. This article will show you various ways in which to achieve this.
If you can, exercise out doors as far as possible. There are two advantages of doing whatever you are doing outside. One advantage is that it gives your body a chance rejuvenate in fresh air and, hopefully, some sunshine. Secondly, a change of scene helps keep you perked up and it is a break from remaining cooped up all day long.
Try to collect some information about exercise, there are a lot of things that you can do at home. Extensive research has been done on exercise and plenty of this information is easily available.
You can try browsing the net or getting a book or two on how to exercise at home. This information will be useful to you to know how much you need to work out on each specific exercise in order to burn off a desired number of calories.
A very important element of a lasting commitment to exercise is motivation. It can help to have somebody exercise along with you. Try to find someone who is committed, or else your own interest might dwindle. One of the advantages of getting a committed person to exercise with you is that it keeps you going. There may be days when you feel just too lazy to crawl out of bed in the mornings. On such days, the knowledge that somebody is waiting for you is enough to slide out of bed. You can also discuss your progress and fears with another person and be a sympathetic listener to the other person as well. This is a fine way of maintaining your motivation.
To start with, keep it gentle, and take one step at a time. Stop when you are out of breath or when a certain part of your body tells you that it has had enough. It's important not to overdo it, in case you cause injury, or just find it so hard going that you give up. Allow time for your body to respond to your exercise routine, and increase the level of exercise that you do very gradually.
Select an exercise pattern to suit your life style. All of us have different life styles and professions so there is no sense in trying to follow the book strictly. Try and follow an exercise routine that is suitable for you. You have to understand that even more important than the exercise itself is sticking to it. So unless you choose something that can suit your life style, you are not going to stick on to it.
Walking everywhere as much as possible is ideal. Choose to walk rather than catch the bus. Choose to walk for an hour at lunchtime rather than continuing to sit at your desk having a sandwich - make sure you enjoy it, so if you can, walk in the fresh air around a park, listen to the birds and enjoy watching the activities of others who may be exercising around you. Choose to walk rather than stand - pacing about, even in a fairly meaningless way, can be very beneficial. If you are thinking deeply about something, try pacing about, it will aid in your thinking.
Try watching less TV. Usually doing something else other than watching TV will involve more activity, whether it's catching up on housework, doing a spot of gardening, or engaging in some DIY. The sense of achievement you feel afterwards will be worth more than any enjoyment you got from watching TV. What's more, watching TV is linked to eating unnecessarily, and usually unhealthily. Resolve to watch only say two or three of your favourite programs, and the rest of the time switch it off, and listen to some music or the radio instead.
Use the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you can. Elevators are one hell of a convenience particularly if you have to go up or down some twenty floors. But elevators also make us very lazy.
Don't feel any particular need to go running. Walking can be just as beneficial. Fifteen minutes of brisk walking a day is enough to keep fitness at a reasonable level, though half an hour or more if you can is ideal. Try making a habit of going for a walk after lunch, or after dinner. Or get out of bed just half an hour earlier and enjoy the fresh morning air and the quietness of being outside before breakfast.
The golden rule is to make it a habit to be as active as possible. Avoid things that encourage you to be sedentary. Keep doing your exercise for at least thirty days - this will help habitualize your increased levels of activity, and help ensure that you keep doing it. And the health benefits will last you a (much increased) lifetime.

Does Walking Bore You?

Everybody walks in different ways at different times. Sometimes people walk as the easiest way to get from one place to another. Other times they walk to exercise, to de-stress, to think (or not to think!). Sometimes it's a social event, where you catch up with a friend.
And yet some people are bored by walking. They find it pointless, and dull.
How about you? How do you take your walks?
Do you set your watch, plug in your headphones and power off vigorously? Do you amble along, noticing what's happening in your neighborhood? Or do you grit your teeth and count the minutes until you're done?
Is walking an endurance test, a necessary evil or a pleasurable event?
My husband didn't enjoy walking when we met. Walking was what he did when the car was in the shop. It was merely a means of transportation - the way to get from point A to point B.
Our first nature walk together started with a peek at his watch and ended with a satisfied sigh at the end. He happily reported to me how long the walk had taken and got ready to get back in the car. When I asked him what he'd seen, he drew a blank. He hadn't noticed a thing except his own feet as he marched along!
We now take purposefully mindful walks. We invented a game we to remind ourselves to take notice of where we are – "Animal, Vegetable and Mineral". Our 'task' is to notice three things to share from those categories - a blossom, an enterprising bug, a delicious shade of green.
This keeps us centered on where we are – and it allows us to take in the walk with more than our feet. Our eyes are searching for treasures to share, our ears are open to birdsong, our noses take in the smell of the plants, our hands are open to the caress of the wind.
If we are having a mindful walk, we also aim to keep our focus on what we are doing. If we speak, it is about what we are experiencing in the moment. There's no talk about work, or plans, projects or chores - just gentle observations about what we're experiencing.
We sometimes pass other walkers who are deeply engrossed in conversations about celebrities, television shows, dinner plans. Although walking and talking about mindless subjects is a great way to make the time pass, it diminishes the act of the walk in a small way.
When you walk you are there, walking, now. Not jumping ahead to the next meal or thinking back to rehash an earlier conversation. The only time that we actually have is the present moment – so experience it fully.
If you find walking a bore, it might be because you are thinking too hard. Try changing your focus so that you experience the walk more with all your senses. Walking is good for our bodies AND our spirits.

Kick Your Body Into 2nd Gear -- In 3 Easy Steps

When it comes to life in general, 90% of us feel the need to loose weight or change the way we look in some way.
Once we've undertaken our fitness quest for weight loss or hypertrophy, usually after the first week or two we find that the energy required to do so is becoming harder and harder to conjure. Usually, these physiological changes leave our bodies craving for the fuel needed to perform these transformations. In this article i'll show you exactly how to get the energy your body requires and how to kick your body into 2nd gear.
What do I need to keep the pace up?
When it comes to gearing our bodies to perform at higher than average energy levels, firstly it takes time. Time requires patience, which is a virtue in itself. It also requires a strong belief in what you're setting out to do.
Here are the 3 things you need to change for optimal energy.
1. Sleep
The first and most important of them all is sleep. It is during our sleeping hours that the body does the vast majority of its repairing. Usually, the first 4 to 5 hours of sleep are spent repairing the bodies neural systems and pathways.
The last 4 hours are spent knitting worked muscles, and replenishing glucose stores for the next days activities, which, remember, are going to be higher than usual.
Based on this first step, if your not getting at least 7 to 8 hours sleep every night, your body is eating into its energy stores and before long, you will find yourself with not enough energy to carry out your program, and once your mental stubbornness wears down, you will loose the will to want to do it in the first place and you'll revert to your previous habits.
The easiest way around this problem is to get regular, high quality sleep. Make it a priority equal to and above going to the gym.
2. Nutrition
The second step to gearing your body towards performance is nutrition. Eating right is vital to maintaining a program, especially for those of you who are participating in weight programs where the end goal is hypertrophy.
Your intake of food should be regular and healthy. Get as much fresh meat and vegetables as you can manage and stay away from processed foods wherever possible.
When writing nutritional plans for clients, I like to suggest a minimum of 5 meals a day. Beginning with breakfast as the largest meal of the day, and tapering down food portions accordingly, all the way to dinner.
Remember that it takes time and patience to get your body used to eating large meals early if it's not something you've been doing for a while. Eating regular, complete meals will encourage your body not only to grow, but also to shed fat, as fat is only there as an emergency source of energy for your body.
Contrary to what the media will have you believe, the way to loose fat is not by starving yourself, but by feeing yourself healthy meals regularly -- every 2 hours!
By doing this, your body will think that you're living in a time of food aplenty, and holding fat will do nothing but hold you back. If you want to gain weight without putting on pounds of fat in the process, simply eat this way and stay away from processed foods and sweets. Chocolate tastes great, but unfortunately it isn't part of the human bodies evolution, and therefore useless if not harmful in building a healthy lean physique.
3. Program design
Now that you're eating right and sleeping right, the third and final step is to get a program that is not only suited to you and your energy levels, but also in accordance with what your goals are.
So many people who frequent gyms and training halls these days are over trained for what they are physically capable of. To put it simply, you cant sit behind a desk all day every day for 10 years, wake up one day and start working out and running for extended periods of time and expect your body to sustain it.
I'm not saying that you should be shy of hard training by any means --you cant get anywhere without hard training -- but don't ever OVER train. If you're waking up in the morning and you can barely move out of bed then you're not recovering from the previous days training.
Weight programs with the intention of hypertrophy should last from 45 to 60 minutes max. If that's not long enough then you're either socializing too much or doing too many exercises. Be specifically scientific about the way you build your programs, from the second you finish stretching, the clock should start ticking. You need designated rest intervals between sets depending on what stage you're training at -- be it technique, cellular or neural.
Ask questions to whoever builds your programs, and if they can't give an informed answer on rest, duration and time under tension, find someone who can and get them to build a program for you. You're playing around with your body and the only person who has to put up with it is you!
If running, cycling, skating, swimming or playing teams sports ensure that you stretch thoroughly before and after you train, then it will help you to be able to get up and do it again tomorrow. All these things should be down in your program, so that nothing is left out or forgotten.
By sleeping right, eating right and approaching your training with the right mindset, you will be able to function in your everyday life while building your body and not feeling that its too muchwork for you.
In today's society of business, money and power, science and thorough work prevail, even though our bodies are expected to function in a slap and dash way. Approach your training in a scientific way and it too will run like the business you own or work for, and it will look after for many years to come.