The Secret to a Healthy Weight: There is No Secret

*This is an article I posted a few years ago on another blog, but, looking back, feel it is still just as relevant so I’m re-posting it here. Enjoy!*

When people ask, “What’s the secret to losing (or gaining or maintaining) weight?” I say:

There is no secret, just 3 simple steps.

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The Fitness Trend of 2018

The past several years have seen an undeniable shift from “traditional” gym workouts to more “unconventional” fitness methods like functional fitness, Zumba, yoga, and even pound – an intense cardio workout inspired by playing drums. When I say unconventional, I really mean different than what we’ve seen in the past 50-100 years. What we call traditional weight lifting really is a new phenomenon when we look at the course of physical activity and fitness over human history.

Compare the “bench press,” an exercise that came about in the early-mid 1900s to Yoga, that has at least 5,000 years of history and possibly as much as 10,000 years. Or compare it to “functional fitness,” a trend involving compound, multi-directional movements that mimic activities we do (or should be doing) in daily life and that the mainstream likes to paint as NEW. Functional fitness was actually the primary, if not only, method of fitness from the beginning of human history until “traditional” weight lifting pushed it off the scene. From our hunter-gatherer ancestors to Ancient Greek warriors to 1800s “gymnastics,” functional (and often NECESSARY TO SURVIVAL) movements like walking, running, sprinting, balancing, jumping, lunging, rotating, climbing, lifting, carrying, throwing, and catching dominated.

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Honestly, when was the last time you actually caught something that was thrown at you? When was the last time you climbed something – a tree, rope, pole, etc.? If you’ve kept up with the functional fitness trend, maybe not too long ago. But for most of us, this probably was when we were kids.

So what does this have to do with the fitness trend of 2018? A reversion to getting physical activity and improving fitness through performance of NATURAL HUMAN MOVEMENT is taking place, and people are discovering how good it can feel to move properly. So my number one trend for fitness this year is any and all kinds of functional movement whether inspired by dance, music, or Spartans. These types of workouts can most often be found in group settings at boutique gyms and fitness studios so head to the closest one and lets get moving!

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Disclaimer: As always, proper form is essential. Activities like CrossFit have gotten a bad rap over the years even though the actual movements are great for you because of the lack of emphasis on proper form and the intensity of the workouts before individuals are physically ready. If you are interested in beginning a new program, please consult a fitness professional to design a program that is right and appropriate for your current fitness level.

Research update: Social smoking may be just as risky as regular smoking

Think a cigarette only once in a while keeps you clear of the health risks associated with smoking? Think again. A study published in May 2017 found that people who self-identified as “social smokers” had the same level of risk for hypertension (high blood pressure) and high cholesterol as people who identified as “current smokers.” Hypertension and high cholesterol are both considered risk factors for heart disease.

The Study

Researchers surveyed 39,555 people in community settings on self-identified smoking status (current smoker, social smoker, or non-smoker), blood pressure, and total cholesterol. They found that social smokers had a significantly higher risk of having hypertension and high cholesterol than non-smokers, but not than current smokers. The researchers concluded that there was no difference in the prevalence of hypertension or high cholesterol between the social smoker and current smoker groups.

Limitations

The study, although interesting, is wrought with limitations. For one, the amount of smoking was self-reported – a method of data collection that is notoriously unreliable. For example, it’s possible that people who characterized themselves as social smokers actually smoke more than they think.

Second, past smoking behavior was not noted. So social smokers could have had a history of smoking more even though they currently smoked only socially.

Third, the researchers did not control for other aspects of the participants’ lives such as diet and exercise, which, potentially, could have significantly skewed the study.

And, last, the researchers looked only at hypertension and high cholesterol, which do not by themselves mean someone has or will get heart disease.

Conclusion

Despite the study’s many flaws, I have no doubt that social smoking does increase the risk of health problems associated with smoking. Any time you expose yourself to harmful chemicals, there’s some risk. And social smoking should certainly be discouraged. Whether social smokers are really at as much risk as regular smokers, though, is still up for grabs in my book.

You can find the study here, and another brief summary here.

Thanks for reading!

 

Research update: Increased muscle strength may help protect against osteoporosis regardless of gender and ethnicity

Nearly 10 million adults in the United States have osteoporosis – a condition where the bones have deteriorated to such a point that the person is at a significantly increased risk of fracture and mortality. Experts expect this number to increase by 30% by 2030. The estimated national cost of osteoporosis-related injury and treatment in 2008 was $22 billion. Due to the widespread impact of osteoporosis, we could all benefit from reducing the occurrence of this condition.

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Health review: Turmeric – the superfood of superfoods??

After literally thousands of years, Turmeric seems to have emerged from it’s curry cocoon and made its way into the limelight as a top superfood. From teas to broths to face masks, turmeric is making its appearance all over the supermarket and social media. But what’s all the hype really about, and is turmeric really all that it’s touted to be? Find out here!

Spoiler alert: Turmeric appears to have many potentially enormous health benefits. While there have been thousands of studies on Turmeric or one of it’s major components  – curcumin – many of these studies have been performed on animals, making it difficult to extrapolate to humans.

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Rhabdo: What you NEED to know and how to prevent it

Rhabdo may sound like a cool name, but it’s actually a really, really not cool medical condition brought on by excessive physical demands. You may have seen a few articles pop up here and there in newspapers like the New York Times labeling it as a harmful side effect of high intensity exercise. I’ve also seen countless social media posts giving high intensity exercise a lot of flack for causing rhabdo. So I’ve decided to clear up a few things about both rhabdo and high intensity exercise.

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Research update: No such thing as “healthy obese”

Along with the uptick in the “beauty at any size” mentality has arisen the concept of “healthy obesity.” I’m a huge proponent of self-love and building confidence through health and fitness. But I’m not going to sugar coat a major health epidemic or tell any one that it’s ok to be obese, and now the science supports that.

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To walk or to run, that is the question

I get this question all the time – “Do I have to run?” It’s no secret that many of us do not like, or rather loath, running. It tends to be one of those love it or hate it types of exercises. I personally enjoy running, but not enough to run a marathon or even to run every day. And according to the research, you don’t have to! That’s good news for those of us who prefer other activities to running. For example, briskly walking has the same (if not more) benefit to running when compared mile-to-mile. Continue reading “To walk or to run, that is the question”

Carb cycling: do or don’t?

First it was Paleo, then it was Keto. Now it’s carb cycling. With all of the ever-changing diet must-dos (and don’ts), how do we determine if any one theory is good or bad for us? In this article, I’m going to talk about carb cycling so that you can decide for yourself whether it’s a do or a don’t. If you’re struggling to lose weight, it may be worth trying to see if it works for you (bearing in mind that everyone’s body is different and responds differently to various diets).

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