Health and Fitness

How to Enjoy Working Out if You Hate Exercise

I read a great article today on CNN Health titled “How to enjoy working out if you hate exercise”. It was written by Melanie Radzicki McManus. It is not an understatement to say that your life depends on it. Therefore, it is imperative that you find something that you enjoy that you can stick with.

One of the most efficient ways to enjoy exercise is to sneak it into your daily routine. Do things such as take the stairs or park your car further from the door. It’s remarkable though that all you really need is about 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week to enjoy the benefits of exercise. The world health organization states that the risk of death increases by 20 to 30% if you are physically inactive.

The four key points that she listed were 1. Make exercising a regular part of your day. 2. Start slowly and give your new routine time. 3. Find a form of exercise you like doing. 4. Ramp up the fun factor.

You may want to “Pay yourself first“ by working out prior to work. If you are too busy, you may need to break up your routine into a couple sessions in a day. For me it works well to have my gym clothes in my car and stop on the way home from work so that I do not have to leave again to go back out to a gym to work out after I am already home.

Starting slowly is good advice as well for several reasons. Firstly, if you start too fast you may injure yourself or be too stiff or sore and this will give you negative feedback to continue. Further you have to start slowly and give yourself time in order for exercise to become a habit in your life.

Finding a form of exercise you like doing seems like such obvious advice but it is often overlooked. If you’re an outdoors person, invest in appropriate clothing and keep exercising outside. The most important thing is to keep moving.

Occasionally making your exercise routine more fun will help you to stick with it as well. If you’ve been running, maybe join a race with your friends to challenge yourself in a group setting. You could also consider joining a sports league once a week so you can translate some of your workout gains to a competitive field in a fun environment. Whatever you choose, just keep moving.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

The Evolution of Fiber

Many of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s remember the funny old cereal commercials with two grandparents eating high-fiber cereal or Euell Gibbons advertising Grape Nuts. The primary message seemed to be that fiber was good for your bowels and you should eat it every morning. Fiber is good for your bowels but it is also good for so much more.

Comedians such as Johnny Carson poked fun at Euell Gibbons and joked that he was telling people to eat wood. He was a good sport and took the jokes in stride. His message from 50 years ago, however is even more true today. We should all try to eat more natural high fiber foods.

It is difficult however, to eat the recommended daily allowance of fiber. Women should try to eat 21 to 25 g per day of fiber and men 30 to 38 g per day. When you were trying to eat a high-fiber foods, they should contain at least 5 g of fiber per serving. In order to get your daily fiber intake, you’ll need to consistently eat nuts, dark green and leafy and raw vegetables and fruits with skin such as apples. Adding a couple teaspoons of plain psyllium fiber to your daily diet goes along way as well.

Fibers do help keep your bowels regular but there are many real health benefits. Fiber helps to lower cholesterol and maintain a healthy weight. This further decreases your chance of developing diabetes and heart disease as well as diseases of your intestines such as diverticulitis or colon cancer.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

Quantity versus Quality

The common knowledge is that the most important factor in weight gain is simply eating too much. While it is true that portion size has increased over the past generation by approximately 30%, the quality of the food you eat is by far the most important factor. If you overeat healthy foods, you can still gain weight, but it is much more difficult.

Poor quality, processed and sugar laden foods trick our bodies into storing fat. The food industry designs foods to be calorie dense, hyper-palatable and to have a long shelf life. All of these factors may sabotage our health as well as our waistlines. Convenient, low-cost snacks and processed foods, disrupt our fat storage mechanisms and lead to metabolic imbalances..

It is somewhat of an acquired taste but you can be truly satisfied and eat as much as you want as long as you’re eating a vegephile type diet. This emphasizes dark leafy vegetables and high quantities of greens, high fiber content foods and only small quantities of free range eggs, chicken, poultry and fish. Think of the meat as only a small side dish added to provide some flavor.

Avoid processed foods and simple sugar. Anything with a shelflife measured in months, cross off your list. You can make healthy substitutions and still feel full. Substitute dark colorful fruits for ice cream or Jell-O. Substitute mixed nuts for chips or pretzels. In nearly every instance, there is a healthy alternative.

More importantly, eating a healthy diet will lead to better health. No matter what your weight, a healthy vegephile diet will lead to improved cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as improving your mood, sleep, energy, bowel function and pain, just to name a few.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

Diet versus Exercise

When it comes to losing weight and maintaining healthy weight, diet wins hands-down. high-fiber, vegetable dominant or a “vegephile“ diet is the cornerstone of healthy weight maintenance.

There is a 80–20 rule that has been written about which is just about right. It estimates that the contribution of diet to your weight is about four times more important than exercise.

Obviously, exercise is important to maintain strength and flexibility. It further helps you maintain balance and flexibility and decrease fall risk. It will help you avoid injuries and stay active throughout your life. Additionally, muscle burns fat. Having a lower body mass index and carrying more muscle enables you to burn more calories throughout the day.

Unfortunately, it is easy to sabotage our weight goals by unhealthy diet habits. For example, a 12 ounce can of soda has between 125 and 180 cal. All of them come from sugar, between 8 to 11 teaspoons per glass. It will take close to 40 minutes walking at a medium pace just to burn off those calories, and this does not even consider the negative impacts of the insulin surge that occurs after consuming that much simple sugar.

The easiest way to achieve a long term, healthy weight is to eat a high fiber, plant-based diet. This will leave you feeling more full and allow you to eat fewer calories while remaining satisfied. Further, it decreases the transit time of food to your gastrointestinal track. This leads to a healthier balance of the hunger controlling hormones leptin and ghrelin which will decrease your appetite.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

Health Policy

This past spring I was chosen to participate in the Osteopathic Health Policy Fellowship. I am honored to be part of this program that is sponsored by the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine.

It is a fantastic program that explores topics such as scope of practice, paying for healthcare, individual state issues, federal agencies, vulnerable populations, disaster healthcare, medical education, urban health and advocacy.

There are many reasons why every physician should be familiar with healthcare policy. The Osteopathic Health Policy Fellowship recognizes this and its members seek to inform health policy discussions at the federal, state and local level.

There are many key issues affecting healthcare in the United States. Currently, no one factor may be more important than ongoing healthcare inflation. Intelligent health policy can ensure affordable healthcare while maximizing access to quality, and creating healthier communities.

I accept the challenge of the Healthcare Policy Fellowship . I plan to work for positive change and keep the conversation regarding affordable, accessible healthcare, that improve the lives of all Americans, moving in the right direction.

Stay well!