Archive for the ‘Health and Wellness’ Category

Basketball!

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

A friend of mine at work asked me to come to our school’s open gyms. Basically, an open gym is when the kids, coaches, and others (like teachers), gather a few times a week to play basketball. I haven’t played basketball regularly since 1995, when some friends and I would play almost everyday after school in the spring. I haven’t played formally since about 1989, the last year I went to basketball camp and played pee-wee ball. So, when my friend at work asked me, I was hesitant. Nonetheless, I agreed (when he and the 4 other teachers who were going to play said “come on” for about the 5th time, I was convinced ;).

Long story short: I went, and now I am going twice a week. It is great exercise, running up and down the court continuously; guarding teens who are in great shape forces me to step it up. I have always been pretty competitive, and even if I am near dead, I am not going to give up easily. At the end of the night on Thursday, probably the best player on our high school team was guarding me (not sure if he wanted to take it easy that game or what, lol), but at any rate, at one point he said, “you don’t stop running do you!” Well, it at least shows that I am in good shape, which is nice to know since I turn 30 next month. I am getting back some of my old basketball skills, which is nice. But most of all, I just enjoy hanging out with friends, and varying up my exercise routine!

Hi, I’m David and I’m Addicted to Vitamins

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

Vitamin Bottles

Is there a 12-Step program for vitamin addicts? Well, if so, I think I need start working the first step.

I admit I have been fascinated by supplements and nutrition, and after theology, I read more about health than any other topic. I think I took an interest in health because in junior high I was a bit pudgy, which was caused in part by genetics. Eating too much and playing too much Nintendo may have played a part…but other than these minor factors, it was definitely genetics. I also had fairly thin hair growing up, and was convinced that I was going to go bald when I was older. Incidentally, at 29, I still have about as much hair as I did when I was 15, which is a full head. I was, and am, proactive, preferring action to b*tching, so knowing that bald fat teens don’t usually get a lot of hot dates, I started taking my health seriously. Jonathan checked out Lendon Smith’s Diet Plan for Teenagers from the library, which I read, and my interest in health, nutrition, and supplements was born. I tried to change my diet, started exercising, and bought some vitamins at the local health food store. I think I bought Folic Acid, Iodine, and maybe vitamin C. It’s written in an old high school planner somewhere. It snow-balled from there. I even remember checking out health magazines from the library and contacting advertisers and seeing how many free supplements I could get. I have always liked to read, and after a night of football practice, going out on a date, or whatever, I would usually retire to my room, put on some Bob Dylan songs, and read a little, often from health books. I eventually found the mail order supplement company Lee Nutrition (and its sister company, Nutrition Headquarters), with its testimonies from people from quaint sounding towns that I suspected didn’t actually exist: “Thank you for your vitamin C. It really helped me feel better. Sincerely Jennifer G., Santa’s Village, IL.” So I ordered some of the supplements that I had read so much about: Chromium, Vitamin E, Alfalfa, and others.

Even though I was “into” health in high school, I went through a fairly unhealthy stage during my undergraduate days, and I stopped taking supplements, started eating too much, and quit working out regularly. I remember eating three large meals a day, topped off with two small bags of salsa verde Dorritos and a pint of whole milk. I got out of breath climbing the dorm stairs, and did not feel very well.

When I got to grad school, I knew I had to get with it. Not only did I start eating well again and exercising, I started ordering supplements online from Puritan’s Pride, and I began to use the internet to find studies about supplements and conditions. Over the years, I have started taking different supplements based on the newest research (for example, vitamin D, which at one time I wondered why supplement companies even bothered making since it seemed to have little therapeutic benefit…boy was I wrong!). I also stopped taking a few after research showed no benefit or perhaps harm (Beta-Carotene, for example).

I still take quite a few supplements, including herbs (Garlic), enzymes (Bromelain), lipids (Fish Oil), miscellaneous (Co-enzyme Q10), and minerals (Magnesium and Selenium…on days my dietary intake is low, which is rare thanks to regular consumption of nuts). I have even added some new supplements to the mix (Acetyl L-Carnitine and Alpha-Lipoic Acid) rather recently. I enjoy laying out my supplements the night before I take them, and organizing them; this kind of orders my day, and if anything, allows me to feel in control of at least one aspect of my health.

So maybe I am addicted to supplements. Or maybe I just want to be healthy. It sure beats taking drugs I guess.

Softgels

A Perfect Combo: Coffee and Cocoa Powder

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

Jennifer and I have been eating more dark chocolate lately because of the antioxidant benefits of cocoa. We look for bars with the highest percentage of cocoa possible. However, chocolate bars are high in sugar and fat. So, I finally realized a better solution: put pure (100%) cocoa powder in my coffee, which I make without sugar. I usually mix the coffee, stevia (a calorie-free, herbal sweetener), and creamer together, and it tastes like liquid chocolate. I have both dark cocoa and regular. The dark that I found is alkalized, meaning it has been treated to be less acidic, and I like the taste of it better than the regular. However, because it is alkalized, it has fewer antioxidants, which is why I often mix it with the regular cocoa. This has also made me love my coffee even more.

The End of Summer and My Real Age

Friday, August 17th, 2007

Hill View

The summer is coming to an end, well, at least for those of us in education (teachers, students, and so forth). I must say I have had a great summer. I did a lot of fun and meaningful things, and also got a lot done for my upcoming wedding (although Jennifer has done a lot more than I). My main emphases now are finishing wedding preparations, starting school, and losing some weight for the wedding. I joined the YMCA where I work (I am now a member in two places), and have been out running the hills a lot at the local state park and my old high school (represented by the photos).

I am taking a few diet supplements. Do I believe they are going to help me lose weight? Probably not. However, I got some that normally retail for 29.95 at the dollar store for, well, a dollar. I can use the extra calcium and potassium, and the grape and green tea extracts are generally beneficial. One thing that got me thinking a little more about my health is Real Age. It’s a site that tells you your “real” age, based on your habits. It is based solidly in science, and even takes into account risky activities (like speeding and using a cell phone while driving). I ended up with a real age of 19.5, which makes me about 10 years younger than I really am, and frankly, I want to keep it that way. I do not think of myself as too materialistic, but I admit that I have seen too many older individuals lose their health, and in the process, the ability to enjoy life to its fullest.

As I mentioned above, one of my favorite forms of exercise is running outside. I can barely run inside (I don’t like treadmills, and can’t really get excited about indoor tracks, so I usually use an elliptical machine inside). I don’t know why, but I always tend to crave getting out and running under the hot sun (I do use sunblock). I think that part of it is that I get to enjoy nature and the changing seasons, and I like having some time by myself just to relax. I usually just take my time driving over, going about 40 mph on the back roads, listening to some music. The smells and sounds change with the seasons and each time period is special in its own way. Right now, the last flowers of the summer are blooming, and yellows and purples are starting to dominate, and soon the snakeroot’s white blooms will overwhelm the forest. I am seeing the last I read somewhere that simply exercising outside (even walking or hiking) is just as effective as depression meds for mild depression. I know that around January and February, I am intensely craving the sunshine, and sometimes I look up at the grey sky dome and get a little depressed. This may explain why city life is always depressing for me. Not that I didn’t manage to cope when I lived in big cities, but I missed the ability to drive for about 5 minutes and get away to a secluded rural area, to enjoy nature and the sunshine.

fence row

Vitamin D Cuts Cancer Risk by 60%

Friday, June 8th, 2007

According to a new study, Vitamin D supplements in the amount of 1100 IU (the official recommended intake is 400 IU), reduce overall cancer incidence.

This part of the article was intriguing:

Figuring some women may have entered the study with undiagnosed cancer, the researchers excluded the results in the first year and assessed only the final three. The findings became even more powerful, with the women getting calcium and vitamin D3 experiencing a 77 percent lower cancer risk.

A few years ago on this blog I pointed to evidence that suggested sun exposure (and thus vitamin D blood levels) was tied to a lower risk of internal cancers. The evidence appears to be mounting that Vitamin D does in fact prevent cancer (and maybe even Multiple Sclerosis).

An Update

Friday, April 13th, 2007

I hope everyone is having a great Easter! I have been on Easter Break for about a week now, and let me tell you, I have needed the break. Even though I love my job, a break is always nice! Of course, nature hasn’t been too cooperative, and the weather has been unseasonably cold. Last year at this time, Jennifer, Jonathan, and I were out taking photos on 60 degree days. This year I am cooped up inside with the flu. I had a fever of 100 for the last few days. I have been monitoring it carefully, but not treating it necessarily. Our cells can withstand temperatures this high, but pathogens and cancer cells have a hard time surviving in such high temperatures (one theory is that tumors have such complex blood vessel networks that they just can’t cool themselves off quickly enough).

Jennifer and I’s marriage plans are moving along, not as quickly as she would like I suspect.

On the Yahoo Music Engine, I am listening to a lot of Townes Van Zandt. He is a folk/country singer from the 1970s-1990s, who is probably most well-known for writing “Pancho and Lefty,” a country hit for Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. The ones I have been listening to now include some of the lesser known ones, like “The Velvet Voices” and “Like a Summer Thursday.”

Here is a photo from last spring, certainly not from this cold spring. When I see photos like this, knowing the background behind the photo, I can almost “feel” the heat and sunshine.

Green Hill in Spring

Fitday and Trying to Lose Weight

Thursday, October 5th, 2006

I am trying to take off a few pounds, and as everybody knows, laziness comes easy for most of us. I have been using Fitday Online for awhile now. However, I decided to pay 20.00 for their software I can use anytime. Plus the software has extra features. I can log my food, activity, mood, and so forth. Plus, since I paid 20 dollars for it, I will definitely use it. I have a tendency to use the things I pay for.

I am finding that my diet is interesting. It tends to be high in fiber, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Magnesium, which are all very good things. It is low in vitamin D, Calcium, and Vitamin C, and too high in calories and sodium. I am not much of a milk drinker, although I do get some Calcium from my daily lunch yogurt. I am going to try to work this out.

On a related note, I took the Real Age Test, and I came out at a real age of 23. That is five years younger than I am, which is kind of nice to know. I can still get it lower if I make a few changes, and I intend to. I am not obessed with looking young per se, but I am concerned with feeling young and having my body be young. I would love to avoid the troubles that come with old age if possible: heart disease, cancer, obesity, joint pain, etc. I honestly believe that diet, exercise, and moderation help prevent many of these problems, and I intend to prevent them as much as possible.

Vitamin D Cuts Risk of Pancreatic Cancer

Wednesday, September 20th, 2006

Consuming just 450 IU (International Units) of Vitamin D per day, 50 IU over what is in the Centrum multivitamin, cuts the risk of Pancreatic Cancer by 46%.

This is an important study because Pancreatic Cancer has few unique early symptoms and is, for all intents and purposes, a death sentence. This is yet another reason to get a little sun or pop a pill that costs a penny a day, since Vitamin D has also been shown to cut the risk of other cancers too.

Getting My Butt in Gear

Wednesday, September 6th, 2006

I have been really bad lately in my choice of foods and in being inactive. I need to get my butt in gear.

I have been busy at work and getting the apartment looking nice. Now that I have a routine at work and the apartment looks nice, what is my excuse? I don’t have a good one.

I have been making minor changes to improve my diet like:

-eating more whole grains (bread, pasta, etc)
-using light versions of foods
-avoiding sugar completely
-making sure my fiber content is at least 25g/day

Of course, I try to do these most of the time anyway. It is just that when I visit my parents or “go out” I usually eat way too much. Can we say stuffed-crust pizza anyone? Or how about a ham and cheese sub and a fries? There are just too many “special occasions” where I can justify eating way too much.

I also need to get more active. I ran quite a bit this summer, but not nearly enough. I need to find a good state park or running track around here. I really do enjoy running at new places and trying to improve my distance and time, etc, but I have been pretty lazy as of late I guess. I have been getting about 5000-8000 steps in at school, according to my pedometer. This isn’t enough for my liking. I am still in decent shape, considering I was running 2-3 miles at a time this summer, but it was a greater struggle than in the past.

Basically I have been feeling kind of “blah” lately, and I know why. It is because I am too full a lot, and my clothes don’t fit as well as I like. This general “blah” is most definitely related to my weight and inactivity. So, I am writing this to put into words what I need to do: get my butt in gear.

Get Some Sun to Treat Cancer?

Monday, June 20th, 2005

Sunimage_1For years we have been told that sunlight causes cancer, and that we should work hard to avoid sun exposure. This sun-cancer connection certainly still holds true for many types of skin cancer, especially for fair-skinned individuals. If we need proof that the sun causes skin cancer, we need only look at the increasingly alarming rate of skin cancer among teenagers. However, all of this said, maybe the sun is not completely bad after all, as new research suggests that sunlight may actually benefit those who already have internal cancer.

Read more…

Image from: http://www.arcetri.astro.it/~palla/ANDREAIMMAGINI/sun