Secret of Vigor – FlexSkills 2

Want to feel better than you’ve ever felt? 

Here’s another excerpt from my 10th book, The Secret of VigorHow to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance and Reclaim Your Natural Energy

 

Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year are:

*Lose Weight

*Get in Shape

*Reduce Stress

*Get Healthier

*Win the Lottery

 

The Secret of Vigor can help you with 4 out of 5 of the most popular resolution goals, so I’ll be posting excerpts from the book for the next several weeks – so please stay tuned for each installment. 

If you simply can’t wait, then you can certainly get a copy at http://amzn.to/1eju3wu or at your favorite library or bookstore.

 

VIP: FlexSkills

In addition to the twenty-eight-minute walking program outlined earlier, you should consider also adding the flexibility exercises described below to further improve your circulation, balance, and strength. I call each of these ten exercises “FlexSkills,” and I’ve used them to help elite athletes in virtually every type of sport improve their stress resilience, flexibility, and resistance to injury. 

For each FlexSkill, you want to “hold” the position for thirty to sixty seconds. Each “cycle” of ten exercises, then, takes only five to ten minutes and can be performed either as a warm-up/cool-down on the days that you also do your Interval Walking or as an exercise circuit on its own. For example, you could go through all ten FlexSkills two or three times as your workout instead of walking. You may also want to use a floor mat or large towel when performing these skills.

2. Arch (Targets: spine, neck, lower back, hips, abdominal area)

This FlexSkill is sometimes called “the Cat” by yoga instructors, and it resembles a modified version of a standard yoga pose known as “Downward-Facing Dog.” You can move directly into the Arch position from Child’s Pose, or you can pause, take a breath, and start from the kneeling position below.

 

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From a “hand and knees” kneeling position, keep your hands shoulders’ width apart (directly beneath your shoulders). Slowly arch your back upward (as a scared cat might arch its back) and point your head downward using a count of five, pausing for another count of five at your highest arch point. Slowly arch your back downward and your head upward, using the same five-second count, pausing at your lowest arch point for another count of five. Continue breathing deeply through three full repetitions of arching upward and then downward for a total duration of sixty seconds.

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Secret of Vigor – FlexSkills 1

Want to feel better than you’ve ever felt?

Here’s another excerpt from my 10th book, The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance and Reclaim Your Natural Energy

Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year are:
*Lose Weight
*Get in Shape
*Reduce Stress
*Get Healthier
*Win the Lottery

The Secret of Vigor can help you with 4 out of 5 of the most popular resolution goals, so I’ll be posting excerpts from the book for the next several weeks – so please stay tuned for each installment.

If you simply can’t wait, then you can certainly get a copy at http://amzn.to/1eju3wu or at your favorite library or bookstore.

VIP: FlexSkills
In addition to the twenty-eight-minute walking program outlined earlier, you should consider also adding the flexibility exercises described below to further improve your circulation, balance, and strength. I call each of these ten exercises “FlexSkills,” and I’ve used them to help elite athletes in virtually every type of sport improve their stress resilience, flexibility, and resistance to injury.

For each FlexSkill, you want to “hold” the position for thirty to sixty seconds. Each “cycle” of ten exercises, then, takes only five to ten minutes and can be performed either as a warm-up/cool-down on the days that you also do your Interval Walking or as an exercise circuit on its own. For example, you could go through all ten FlexSkills two or three times as your workout instead of walking. You may also want to use a floor mat or large towel when performing these skills.

1. Child’s Pose (Targets: spine, lower back, shoulders, hips, knees, ankles)
This is one of the classic yoga poses—a resting and starting pose that serves as the base from which many other poses and stretches emanate. We’ll use it as the initial FlexSkill, because it helps awaken and stimulate each of the major joint systems that we’ll target with the subsequent FlexSkill movements.

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From a standing position, come to your hands and knees. Point your toes so the tops of your feet are flat on the floor and your butt rests on your heels. Place your hands flat on the mat, about shoulders’ width apart. Slowly reach forward, extending your arms straight out in front of you. Bend and extend your back and try to get your forehead as close to the floor as is comfortable. When you reach your farthest comfortable point, breath slowly and deeply, and hold this position for thirty to sixty seconds.

 

Vigor Improvement Practices – (VIPs) – Interval Training

Want to feel better than you’ve ever felt?

Here’s another excerpt from my 10th book, The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance and Reclaim Your Natural Energy

Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year are:
*Lose Weight
*Get in Shape
*Reduce Stress
*Get Healthier
*Win the Lottery

The Secret of Vigor can help you with 4 out of 5 of the most popular resolution goals, so I’ll be posting excerpts from the book for the next several weeks – so please stay tuned for each installment.

If you simply can’t wait, then you can certainly get a copy at http://amzn.to/1eju3wu or at your favorite library or bookstore.

Vigor Improvement Practices – (VIPs) – Interval Training
Because I know how difficult it can be to push back against the stresses you face in the twenty-first century, I have developed a set of exercise recommendations that are designed to deliver the most benefits within the shortest time commitment possible. The most effective way to use exercise to restore biochemical balance and improve your vigor is with a three-times-weekly regimen of interval training (either running or walking). I think everyone would agree that walking is a pretty simple exercise that you can easily incorporate into your daily schedule. It doesn’t require any fancy or expensive equipment, and you can do it virtually anywhere. To get the most from your walking regimen, you’ll want to make sure you have a pair of comfortable and supportive shoes as well as approval from your personal health-care provider that it is okay for you to engage in moderate to vigorous exercise.

Walk outside and enjoy the sights and sounds of your own neighborhood or a local park when the weather is good. Or when it is rainy or snowy, walk around the mall. Many shopping malls have organized walking groups that meet before the stores open and the mall becomes crowded with shoppers. When you get comfortable with walking on a regular basis, you can change the route and vary the intensity (walking faster or slower and adding hills or flats). Walking can also be part of developing your “mental” fitness as much as it serves as your “physical” exercise, because it can allow you some time to “get away” and to de-stress while your mind (and your body) wanders.

The Interval Training Plan described below has been used successfully by many of my clients and readers:

Interval Training Plan
After a five-minute warm-up, the exercise alternates between high- and low-intensity levels as follows:

  • one minute high intensity/one minute low intensity*
  • two minutes high intensity/two minutes low intensity
  • three minutes high intensity/three minutes low intensity
  • two minutes high intensity/two minutes low intensity
  • one minute high intensity/one minute low intensity

* Note that the intensity levels will be relative to your individual fitness level. A general guideline is that “high” intensity is not an “all-out effort” but rather a level that gets you breathing hard enough that you have difficulty carrying on a conversation with your exercise buddy. The “low” intensity intervals are easy enough to allow full recovery before your next hard interval—and also easy enough for you to talk without getting out of breath.

These eighteen minutes of interval training are followed by five minutes of easy cool-down exercise for a total duration of just under thirty minutes (twenty-eight minutes, to be exact). Compared to exercising at a steady/moderate “fat-burning” pace for this same twenty-eight minutes, the interval approach will burn more than double the number of calories (401 versus 189) and will result in superior biochemical balance via direct control of cortisol, testosterone, glucose, and other aspects of your biochemistry.

Exercise is a vital part of achieving and maintaining healthy biochemical balance and proper tissue repair. Whether we talk about joints, bones, muscles, tendons, or any other tissue, the right amount of the right type of exercise can help stimulate production of new collagen, removal of damaged tissue, and delivery of vital oxygen and nutrients. The body is designed to move. One famous philosopher commented that the human body is the only machine that breaks down from underuse rather than from overuse. (However, your body can break down from overuse as well, as evidenced by the numerous overtrained athletes that I have worked with over the years.)

In many ways, the motion of exercise or any type of physical activity can be thought of as lotion for your joints and other tissues. The simple act of moving your body helps hydrate joints and stimulate tissue repair throughout the body, while the act of sitting around like a couch potato sends a constant “breakdown” signal (also called “atrophy”) to your joint cartilage, bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Vigor Improvement Practices—Exercise

Want to feel better than you’ve ever felt?

Here’s another excerpt from my 10th book, The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance and Reclaim Your Natural Energy

Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year are:
*Lose Weight
*Get in Shape
*Reduce Stress
*Get Healthier
*Win the Lottery

The Secret of Vigor can help you with 4 out of 5 of the most popular resolution goals, so I’ll be posting excerpts from the book for the next several weeks – so please stay tuned for each installment.

If you simply can’t wait, then you can certainly get a copy at http://amzn.to/1eju3wu or at your favorite library or bookstore.

Vigor Improvement Practices—Exercise
Participating in moderate exercise on a regular basis can reduce body fat, build muscle and bone, improve mental and emotional function, stimulate the immune response, and reduce appetite. Being physically active can also offset some of the destructive effects of chronic stress and help restore biochemical balance—which leads to more vigor. No drug can do all that!

In terms of improving your general sense of well-being, exercise generates the production of dopamine and serotonin, both of which are “feel-good” anti-anxiety and anti-depression chemicals that are produced in the brain and are responsible for the well-known “runner’s high” that can help control the stress response.

Here are a few research findings that attest to the astounding benefits of exercise:

* Duke University researchers have reported that exercise (thirty minutes per day, three to four days a week, for four months) is more effective than prescription antidepressants in relieving symptoms of anxiety and depression.

* Several studies at the University of Colorado have shown how exercise can reduce many of the detrimental effects of chronic stress. The Colorado researchers also reported that extremes of exercise, such as regimens undertaken by overtrained endurance athletes, can reverse these health benefits by upsetting biochemical balance. Going to extremes with an exercise regimen caused an increase in cortisol and also suppressed testosterone in male and female athletes, biochemical effects that can quickly lead to increased body fat, interference with mental and emotional function, suppressed immune function, and a higher risk of injury.

* Scientists at the National Institutes of Health have noted that regular exercise can help patients with Cushing’s syndrome—a condition caused by extreme disruptions in biochemical balance—to prevent much of the tissue destruction normally seen during the course of the disease.

* In Arizona, stress researchers reported that being more physically fit had a protective effect against feelings of stress and age-related disruptions in biochemical balance. The research findings demonstrated that less physically fit women had significantly greater problems with biochemical balance in response to stressful events compared to physically fit women.

One of the most important factors when it comes to exercise is your purpose for doing it: The “reason” you should be physically active has less to do with directly burning calories and losing weight (although those may be nice side benefits) and more to do with the fact that exercise can act as a “hedge” against the tendency for stress, sleep deprivation, aging, and poor diet to upset the body’s biochemical balance.

Many people tend to overestimate the rate at which exercise can burn calories. They fail to realize that you would have to run a half mile to burn off every Oreo you eat and almost 90 minutes to burn off the calories in a Big Mac! So although it is true that exercise does burn calories, its primary value as part of your strategy for improving vigor lies in its profound effects on restoring biochemical balance by modulating levels of cortisol, testosterone, growth hormone, serotonin, and other biochemical compounds in the Four Pillars of Health.

You might be wondering whether a “best” type of exercise will improve biochemical balance. In reality, the best form of exercise is anything—as long as you do it! You simply need to get out there and move your body for at least three to six hours each week (thirty to sixty minutes per day, six days a week). But to give you some guidance on this issue, this chapter offers suggestions for “Interval Training” and “FlexSkills.” I encourage you to follow through on these Vigor Improvement Practices (VIPs).

I know that many people claim they are “too busy” to exercise. In fact, being “too busy” is the most common excuse for not exercising. If you buy into that excuse, you need to accept the fact that your biochemical balance will never reach optimal levels and your vigor will suffer—simple as that.

So I invite you to take a minute to think about all the things on which you regularly spend thirty to sixty minutes each day—television, newspapers, Internet, etc.—and then ask yourself if investing that same amount of time in your health and in how you feel is worthwhile. If you commit to an exercise program, I promise that your investment will produce great rewards.

The Helping Hand Approach to Eating (Quantity)

Want to feel better than you’ve ever felt?

Here’s another excerpt from my 10th book, The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance and Reclaim Your Natural Energy

Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year are:
*Lose Weight
*Get in Shape
*Reduce Stress
*Get Healthier
*Win the Lottery

The Secret of Vigor can help you with 4 out of 5 of the most popular resolution goals, so I’ll be posting excerpts from the book for the next several weeks – so please stay tuned for each installment.

If you simply can’t wait, then you can certainly get a copy at http://amzn.to/1eju3wu or at your favorite library or bookstore.

The Helping-Hand Approach to Eating

Quantity: How Much to Eat
At the same time that you are evaluating the quality aspects of your food choices, you should also be considering the second part of the nutrition equation: quantity (otherwise known as “portion control”). If you look at the graphics of the Helping Hand, you see five images:

1. a wide-open hand (representing fruits/vegetables)

2. a closed fist (concentrated carbohydrates, or starches)

3. a palm (protein)

4. an “OK” sign (added fat)

5. “metabolic controller” capsules, which represent your dietary supplements to control biochemical balance

These graphics are a simple way to help you visualize controlling the “quantity” part of your diet without really “counting” calories. They also help you remember to eat an appropriate amount of food to restore biochemical balance and improve vigor.

The Helping Hand works like this:

Fruits and Vegetables (except potatoes, which count as concentrated carbs, or “starches”)
Choose a quantity of fruits and vegetables that roughly matches the size of your open hand. Select brightly colored fruits and vegetables for the highest levels of disease-fighting carotenoids (orange, red, yellow) and flavonoids (green, blue, purple).

Carbohydrates—Two Types
General rule: Whenever possible, select “whole” and “least processed” carbohydrate sources—but only eat a certain quantity of them (a “fist-sized” or “hand-sized” amount, as shown XXX).

Starches (such as bread, cereal, pasta, and other “concentrated” carbohydrate sources, including potatoes and french fries)
Choose a quantity that is no larger than your tightly closed fist (a small side dish of pasta, potato salad, a dinner roll, etc.).

Protein
General rule: Whenever possible, avoid consuming carbohydrates (whether whole-grain or refined) without added protein.

Lean proteins, such as eggs, low-fat yogurt, low-fat milk, lean ground beef, steak (with visible fat trimmed), fish (any), chicken, pork chops, etc. should be consumed in an amount that approximately matches the size of the palm of your hand. (Note that I said palm—I am not referring to your entire open hand.) Keep in mind that this portion is likely to be only about half the standard portion served in many restaurants—so be prepared to eat half and bring the other half home for leftovers.

Fat
General rule: Whenever possible, avoid consuming carbohydrates (whether whole-grain or refined) without added fat.

Any source of fat will do—butter, olive oil, flaxseed oil, canola oil, cheese, and nuts are fine. Make an “okay” sign with your thumb and index finger, and choose an amount of fat about the size of the circle formed by your index finger/thumb.

As you can see, the Helping Hand approach to eating requires zero counting of calories, fat grams, or carb grams. Why? Because the calorie control is already “built in,” based on the size of your hands—think of them as Mother Nature’s automatic portion control.

If you have average-sized hands (and likely an average-sized body and metabolism), you will consume about five hundred calories from each meal based on this approach. Smaller individuals (with smaller hands and metabolic rates) will have smaller meals with approximately four hundred calories each; while larger people (with larger hands and metabolic rates) will have larger meals that come closer to six hundred calories each.

Eat this way at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and you’ll consume about twelve hundred to eighteen hundred calories over the course of the day—or precisely the same range of calories associated with the very best programs for successfully maintaining biochemical balance, vigor, and body weight over the long term.

The Helping Hand Approach to Eating (Quality)

Want to feel better than you’ve ever felt?

Here’s another excerpt from my 10th book, The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance and Reclaim Your Natural Energy

Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year are:
*Lose Weight
*Get in Shape
*Reduce Stress
*Get Healthier
*Win the Lottery

The Secret of Vigor can help you with 4 out of 5 of the most popular resolution goals, so I’ll be posting excerpts from the book for the next several weeks – so please stay tuned for each installment.

If you simply can’t wait, then you can certainly get a copy at http://amzn.to/1eju3wu or at your favorite library or bookstore.

The Helping-Hand Approach to Eating
Over years of working with countless people, I have developed an approach to eating that is designed to be as easy and low stress as possible. I call this method the “Helping Hand”—a simplified approach to choosing foods that involves no “counting” of calories, fat grams, or carbohydrates.

Instead of all those calculations, you learn to balance your intake of carbohydrates, protein, fat, and fiber in a way that considers the quantity of food and, even more importantly, the quality of those foods. Specifically, quality refers to what you eat, and quantity refers to how much you eat.

With this approach, you do not have to stick to eating only certain items from a long list of “approved” foods (because all foods are fair game), and you also don’t have to worry about avoiding other foods on some “banned” list (because no foods are prohibited).

Below you’ll see the details on this approach, which I have used with thousands of clients and shared with readers in my other books. Here’s how it works.

Quality: What to Eat

Step 1—Consider Carbohydrates
General rule: Foods that are more “whole” (in their natural, unprocessed state) are preferred choices.

Carbohydrates are not “bad” in and of themselves, but the form of carbohydrate that you choose will determine your body’s biochemical response and your likelihood of being able to effectively control inflammation and repair/rebuild damaged tissues. Here are some examples of this principle in action:

* A whole apple is less processed than applesauce, which is less processed than apple juice—so the apple is the best choice, the applesauce is moderate, and the apple juice is least preferred. In general, all whole fruits and vegetables are “good” choices.

* Whole-grain forms of high-carbohydrate foods are always preferred over forms that use highly refined grains. (Think “whole grain” or “whole wheat” instead of Wonder Bread.) When choosing breads, pastas, and crackers, always look at the ingredients list for “whole-grain flour” or “whole-wheat flour” instead of products that simply state “wheat flour,” which indicates a more highly refined product rather than a whole-grain product.

* When you can’t look at a label (such as when eating out), choose grain products that are thicker, chewier, and heartier—such as “peasant breads,” with added seeds, nuts, and fruits—rather than “fluffier” and “softer” breads, which indicate highly refined grains.

Step 2—Provide Protein
General rule: Any form of lean protein can be used to “complete” a refined carbohydrate.

Protein and carbs are the “yin and yang” of nutrition: They have to be consumed together for proper dietary balance (which falls apart when either one is excluded or inappropriately restricted).

* Leaner sources of protein are always a better choice than fattier cuts (choose 96 percent lean ground beef instead of 85 percent lean).

* A bagel for breakfast is not necessarily a “bad” carbohydrate, but it is not the best choice, especially if it is made from refined, white flour instead of whole-wheat flour. Your bagel can be made “better” from a biochemical standpoint by adding some protein—perhaps in the form of smoked salmon or a scrambled egg.

The combination of virtually any protein with a refined-carb food balances the meal into one with a better overall metabolic profile, meaning that your body will handle the calories more appropriately.

Step 3—Finish with Fat
General rule: A small amount of added fat at each meal is a “metabolic regulator.”

A bit of added fat—in the form of a pat of butter, a dash of olive oil, a square of cheese, or a small handful of nuts—helps slow the postmeal metabolic imbalance (that is, a rise in cortisol and blood sugar), which in turn helps you control appetite and enhance fat burning throughout the day.

* Your choice of pasta as a side dish (but not as a main meal—see quantity discussion in the next section) is an “okay” choice, but you can make it a better choice by selecting whole-grain pasta (instead of the typical highly refined forms) and by topping it with a delicious olive oil, garlic, and basil sauce. Even better, mix some fresh vegetables into the sauce to further boost the nutritional content of the entire meal.

* Your child’s lunch of white bread with grape jelly is a biochemical disaster (you might as well inject sugar straight into her veins and fat into her adipose tissue), but you can boost the nutritional content and her body’s ability to metabolize her sandwich by adding a bit of peanut butter, insisting that she wash it down with a glass of skim or 1 percent milk, and switching to whole-wheat bread (a tough switch with many kids, but well worth the try).

Step 4—Fill Up with Fiber
General rule: Choosing “whole” forms of grains, fruits, and vegetables (as recommended in Step 1) will automatically satisfy your fiber needs.

Like fat, fiber helps slow the absorption of sugar from the digestive tract into the bloodstream. In this way, fiber can also be considered a “metabolic regulator” to help balance cortisol and blood-sugar levels at each meal or snack.

The fiber content of whole foods also provides a great deal of “satiety”—that is, foods high in fiber make you feel fuller for longer, so you are less likely to feel hungry and less likely to feel stressed out as a result of your hunger. Whole-grain, fiber-rich foods also contain a wide array of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, such as lignans, to further protect tissues from damage.

Next up – the “Quantity” aspect of the Helping Hand Approach to Eating…

What To Eat? Good Fat—Good Carbs

Want to feel better than you’ve ever felt?

Here’s another excerpt from my 10th book, The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance and Reclaim Your Natural Energy

Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year are:
*Lose Weight
*Get in Shape
*Reduce Stress
*Get Healthier
*Win the Lottery

The Secret of Vigor can help you with 4 out of 5 of the most popular resolution goals, so I’ll be posting excerpts from the book for the next several weeks – so please stay tuned for each installment.

If you simply can’t wait, then you can certainly get a copy at http://amzn.to/1eju3wu or at your favorite library or bookstore.

What to Eat?
The proposition that poor dietary choices can lead to so much destructive metabolism in your body is scary. However, people make these choices many times a day when they eat. Very good scientific evidence helps people choose diets that provide ingredients that not only reduce these detrimental biochemical chain reactions but also prevent and reverse the effects of oxidation, glycation, inflammation, and all the rest of the negative factors on connective tissue health.

Some of the easiest routes to controlling these metabolic marauders are the following:

* Eat more healthy (omega-3) fats and fewer unhealthy omega-6 fats.

* Eat fewer refined carbohydrates and more whole-grain carbs.

* Eat more antioxidants from brightly colored fruits/veggies.

* Use targeted dietary supplements to activate your body’s own protective antioxidant pathways (the Nrf2 pathway).

* Reduce stress or control your exposure to the stress hormone cortisol.

Good Fat—Good Carbs
Based on data collected since the mid-1970s on more than ninety thousand women and fifty thousand men, researchers at Harvard University have shown quite convincingly that the type of fat and the type of carbohydrate that you eat are vitally important in determining your overall level of systemic inflammation and heart disease.

Their recommendations focus your dietary choices toward healthy fats (olive, canola, soy, corn, sunflower, and peanut oils) and healthy carbohydrates (whole-grain foods, such as whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, and brown rice) and are associated with a 30 to 40 percent reduction in risk for inflammatory heart disease.

In support of the Harvard recommendations is a 2001 study from Dutch researchers published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which showed that eating more monounsaturated oils was associated with better hydration of tissues (which tend to have a high water content when healthy).

Researchers from the University of Colorado have also noted in the Archives of Dermatology the astonishing differences in rates of connective tissue (skin) inflammation between populations eating a high intake of refined carbohydrates (lots of inflammation and high rates of inflammatory conditions) compared to populations eating fewer refined carbs (very low rates of both).

Modern diets supply roughly twenty to twenty-five times more “omega-6” fatty acids as “omega-3” fatty acids—a situation that predisposes you toward proinflammatory cytokines and systemic inflammation in your body. The best way to address these imbalances is to limit your intake of omega-6 fats (especially fried foods) and increase your consumption of fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, and bluefish (which are high in omega-3 fats).

For people who can’t or don’t want to eat more fatty fish, a daily essential fatty acid (EFA) supplement can provide omega-3s to help quell inflammatory cytokines. A number of studies have shown that dietary omega-3 fatty acids, because of their anti-inflammatory properties, can help modulate connective-tissue inflammation.

As you can see, just as you are what you eat, you also tend to feel like what you eat. And who wants to feel like junk? The solution, as outlined above, is to face the nutritional facts and eat your way to biochemical balance and vigor by focusing on healthy carbohydrates and fats, controlling stress and cortisol, and getting enough antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids into your daily diet.

Vigor Improvement Practices (VIP) – What to Avoid?

Want to feel better than you’ve ever felt?

Here’s another excerpt from my 10th book, The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance and Reclaim Your Natural Energy

Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year are:
*Lose Weight
*Get in Shape
*Reduce Stress
*Get Healthier
*Win the Lottery

The Secret of Vigor can help you with 4 out of 5 of the most popular resolution goals, so I’ll be posting excerpts from the book for the next several weeks – so please stay tuned for each installment.

If you simply can’t wait, then you can certainly get a copy at http://amzn.to/1eju3wu or at your favorite library or bookstore.

What to Avoid?
When it comes to diet, biochemical balance, and tissue health, researchers know a great deal about what not to do. This comes down to avoiding or limiting your intake of highly refined carbohydrates, sodas, and processed foods containing high-fructose corn syrup and trans-fat (usually listed on the label as “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oil).

Why do you need to avoid these types of highly processed foods? Because they set off a biochemical chain reaction in the body that leads to unhealthy elevations in blood sugar, insulin, cortisol, cytokines, and free radicals—yikes! All that from eating a Twinkie!

These biochemical events are not only bad for your long-term health but also bad for your long- and short-term ability to heal and rebuild tissues. For example, chugging a sugary soda leads to microscopic tissue destruction via a number of the following related events:

* Spiking blood sugar and insulin levels lead to protein glycation and destruction of collagen and elastin (key structural proteins in healthy connective tissues).

* Elevated cortisol levels lead to imbalances in the inflammatory process in favor of proinflammatory cytokines (which lead to further tissue damage).
* Inflammatory cytokine signaling elevates free-radical destruction of tissue membranes throughout the body.

And, as you now know, all these events are detrimental to your level of vigor.

Vigor Improvement Practices—Nutrition (Part 2)

Want to feel better than you’ve ever felt?

Here’s another excerpt from my 10th book, The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance and Reclaim Your Natural Energy

Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year are:
*Lose Weight
*Get in Shape
*Reduce Stress
*Get Healthier
*Win the Lottery

The Secret of Vigor can help you with 4 out of 5 of the most popular resolution goals, so I’ll be posting excerpts from the book for the next several weeks – so please stay tuned for each installment.

If you simply can’t wait, then you can certainly get a copy at http://amzn.to/1eju3wu or at your favorite library or bookstore.

Vigor Improvement Practices—Nutrition (Part 2)

Beyond fruits and vegetables, you may also be confused about “macronutrients,” which are carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Many dieticians and nutritionists forget the concept of “balance” and guide their clients toward diets high in complex carbohydrates. Although it is true that most people can increase the amount of complex carbohydrates they eat, it is important to balance those carbohydrates with proper amounts of protein, fat, and fiber.

Because we’re on the subject of carbohydrates, here are a few things to keep in mind: During anxious or highly stressful times, you may even crave carbohydrates, such as bread and sweets. Those cravings are due in part to the effect that the stress hormone cortisol has on the body in terms of suppressing insulin function, increasing blood-sugar levels, and stimulating appetite. Your brain may also urge you to eat more carbohydrates, because they can act as a “tranquilizer” of sorts by increasing brain levels of serotonin (the neurotransmitter that calms you down). Unfortunately, although caving into the craving for carbs may give you a euphoric feeling for a few minutes, you’ll surely pay for it later in the form of low energy levels, mood swings, more cravings, a tendency toward weight gain—and, of course, a loss of vigor.

Besides the problem of balancing complex carbohydrates with appropriate amounts of protein, fat, and fiber, another issue causes confusion for many people. Some popular dietary experts promote the idea that proteins are “good” and carbohydrates are “bad.” Those following such misguided advice may end up consuming too much protein and not enough carbohydrates.

Again, this type of approach misses the point that what you want to strive for is the right balance of each. Achieving this balance is of key importance, because each of the macronutrients performs a different role in the body. Protein can be thought of as the primary tissue builder (and rebuilder), because it helps you maintain lean muscle mass. But if you consume more protein than you need (as might happen when drinking some of the very high protein bodybuilding drink mixes), the result can be dehydration and bloating.

By the same token, it is vital to consume carbohydrates, because they serve as the primary fuel for the brain (which cannot use any other fuel source as efficiently) and also play a role as a metabolic enhancer to encourage the body to use fat as a fuel source. A popular saying among metabolic physiologists is that “fat burns in the flame of carbohydrate,” which means that the breakdown products of carbohydrate metabolism are required for the optimal breakdown of stored body fat and the conversion of that fat into energy.

Finally, in addition to proteins and carbohydrates, fat and fiber are also essential to good health. They are needed to round out the balanced macronutrient mix, because they work to slow digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, control blood-sugar levels, and induce satiety (feelings of fullness). Then, too, certain kinds of dietary fat provide your only sources of the essential fatty acids (EFAs), linoleic acid and linolenic acid. These EFAs have been shown to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure; reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and possibly some kinds of cancer; and prevent dry hair and skin.

As you can see, your body needs all the macronutrients, and it is much better to take a balanced approach to nutrition than to try to eliminate certain foods or restrict your diet in unhealthy ways.

Vigor Improvement Practices—Nutrition (Part 1)

Want to feel better than you’ve ever felt?

Here’s another excerpt from my 10th book, The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance and Reclaim Your Natural Energy

Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year are:
*Lose Weight
*Get in Shape
*Reduce Stress
*Get Healthier
*Win the Lottery

The Secret of Vigor can help you with 4 out of 5 of the most popular resolution goals, so I’ll be posting excerpts from the book for the next several weeks – so please stay tuned for each installment.

If you simply can’t wait, then you can certainly get a copy at http://amzn.to/1eju3wu or at your favorite library or bookstore.

Vigor Improvement Practices—Nutrition (Part 1)
When it comes to restoring biochemical balance and improving vigor, nutrition plays a key role. A proper diet offers numerous benefits, such as modulating inflammation and promoting tissue repair. It only takes a few minutes of watching television, reading magazines, or surfing the Internet, however, to see that in the United States, people have a very wide range of opinions, programs, and “experts” telling them what a “proper” diet is.

Unfortunately, this barrage of information (and misinformation) causes many people to become stressed out about their diets—and when they do, it causes problems. For example, Canadian nutrition researchers have shown that “dieting” itself is a potent trigger for increasing cortisol and reducing bone mass. (In their studies, of course, “dieting” is labeled “cognitive dietary restraint” [CDR] and defined as “a perceived ongoing effort to limit dietary intake to manage body weight.”) Further, researchers at Texas Tech University have reported that disrupted biochemical balance has a direct and rapid detrimental effect on health, increasing rates of breakdown in virtually every tissue in the body.

Rather than becoming stressed out about your diet, it may be more helpful to realize that making wise nutritional choices can significantly improve the way you feel, function, and perform on many levels. Those benefits can be enjoyed when you simply select a blend of nutrients from among a few certain foods, including brightly colored fruits and vegetables, teamed with whole grains and lean cuts of meat, poultry, and fish.

Or instead of thinking about “dieting,” look at it this way: Your diet truly “fuels” your vigor by maintaining your biochemical balance. For example, a balanced breakfast of a scrambled egg, a piece of whole-grain toast, and a glass of orange juice provides a powerful dose of antistress and biochemistry-balancing nutrients. It contains protein (in the egg), carbohydrates (in the toast and juice), B-complex vitamins (in the toast), antioxidants (in the juice), and phytonutrients (carotenoids in the egg, flavonoids in the juice, and lignans in the toast).

In reality, many people are not practicing what has been preached about good health. No matter how many times you’ve heard commercials reminding you to eat several servings of fruits and vegetables each day, it turns out that about 90 percent of North Americans do not eat enough fruits and veggies. As a result, more than ninety million people suffer chronic diseases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most popular “vegetable” in the United States is the french fry, and of the limited produce that people do eat, nearly 80 percent comes in the form of lettuce, potatoes, corn, and peas.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM), Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) all want Americans to eat more fruits and veggies, because scientific research shows that “more is better” in terms of overall biochemical balance and the risk for obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, stroke, heart disease, and many cancers. To give you an example of how much “more” produce you should eat than the typical American gets, a forty-year-old man or woman should eat two and a half cups of vegetables and one and a half cups of fruit daily.

If you’d like to get more of those fruits and vegetables into your diet, you may be wondering where to start. Actually, “any” of these foods are better than “none,” but those that are darker colored (dark green, dark blue/purple, bright orange, bright red, bright yellow, etc.) tend to be better sources of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.

Phytonutrients are specialized vitamin-like compounds found in plants (“phyto” means “plant”) that provide numerous health benefits. In general, the brighter in color the fruit or vegetable, the higher the content of particular phytonutrients. For example, lycopene, a red carotenoid, is found at high levels in tomatoes, while another carotenoid, beta-carotene, is responsible for the orange color of carrots and sweet potatoes.

To maximize your intake of phytonutrients and other micronutrients, try this simple (and fun) approach: “Color” your diet by trying to eat as many different colored fruits and vegetables as possible. Each day, see if you can get five different colors into your diet: one serving each that is red (tomato), blue or purple (berries), yellow (melon), orange (carrot), and green (broccoli)—or whatever colors you can find. (Note: French fries do not count as a yellow vegetable.)

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