Monday, January 20, 2014

Adapting Exercise for Age Groups

Dr. Kareem worked with over 70,000 clients to date, over 1,000 in-person clients and patients, and coached over 700 people online, we've learned a thing or two about program adaptation by age, gender, or situation.
Program 'adaptation' or 'customization' is the key to your success, rather than a single variable such as age.  However, age does come with some 'rather' normal changes, such as:
  • 15-25:  Body is very youthful, resilient, and has not experienced pain from previous injuries yet.  Risk tolerance is higher and should be kept in check, while continuously pushing limits and maintaining safety.   This is the era for body design.
  • 25-35:  Body is extremely capable and muscle is easiest to grow; rather than focus on 'impact'-based activities, we're going to focus on joint stability, core strength, and developing a 'life' muscle base.  This way, your metabolism stays high for a very long time to come.
  • 35-50:  Physical endurance, speed maintenance, and youthful aging become the priorities.  Working on the 'inside' of your body becomes more important than ever before, and you experience the consequences of years of prolonged sitting, standing, or repetitive motions you've done at work and at home.  Counter-acting aging becomes the highest priority to maintain and improve the quality of your life, and time is more of a factor than ever before.
  • 50-65:  This is the era that requires you re-build strength.  Your metabolism is naturally slowing down, hormonal changes related to aging are taking place in both genders, and anti-aging exercise, nutrition, and mindset become the focal points of life, rather than career or education.  This is the peek of your career, the onset of golden years, and the moment that makes you want to give back and teach others.  The example you set now is one others will live by for years to come.
  • 65+:  Body, figure, balance, pain elimination.  Time to 'tune in' your body, activate as much muscle as possible, and take your body slightly out of the comfort zone every day, so you can move like a kid again. 

You see, the same exercise program can work for all age groups, if designed effectively.  Depending upon how much you want to focus on strength vs flexibility vs fat loss, you can adjust the amount of weight you lift, the rest periods you take, and the reps of every exercise you do.  For 99% of exercisers out there, bodyweight -- or simple at-home equipment -- is all you need to get a phenomenal workout.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Alcohol and Stress - NOT a good mix!

Most adults of my generation are very familiar with stress, having experienced it ourselves at some point or watching others go through it. Stress is felt when we go through enormous physical, mental or emotional pressure, leading us to feel tired, drained and spent.  Little wonder that some choose to go the easy route and have a temporary ‘fix’ to their problems—alcohol.

A number of studies have been made regarding the link between alcohol and stress. In this post we’re going to break down the academic lingo—from studies talking about how alcohol affects the functioning of the body’s main stress hormone, Cortisol, and why this isn’t a good thing.

Our body’s Response to Stress
When we drink alcohol as an attempt to relieve stress, it results in a “therapeutic” effect which encourages us to drink more. Generally, the heavier the problem, the more bottles or shots drank. Left unchecked, this can easily lead to alcohol dependence, and that is where the problem grows. I say “grows” because alcohol can easily cause problems even if you’re only drinking it for a night—just ask anyone who’s ever been involved in an alcohol-influenced fistfight, danced topless at a bar, done some drunk sexing or wrote posts in their social media accounts that made them the butt of jokes in the morning, lost a loved one or worse, a job.

Did you know that grain alcohol or ethanol, the ingredient in alcoholic drinks that gives it its potency can fuel cars? Of course this is toxic to your body, unless you’re Optimus Prime! Toxins from alcohol eventually damages many organs over time. In the endocrine system, damage shows in the way alcohol impairs our body’s natural capacity to lower levels of its main stress hormone—cortisol.

Cortisol is responsible for an increase to our supply of glucose (our main source of energy), increased heart and respiration rates, increased blood flow and a boost in the body’s capability to heal any damaged tissues. The body produces high levels of cortisol to help an individual cope with any stressful situation. A short-lived rise in cortisol is important for survival, but once the stressor has been dealt with, the body has to go back to its normal state.

The effects of constant high cortisol levels
What happens if the signal to produce high amounts of this hormone cannot be turned ‘off’, which is one of the effects of alcoholism? A 2010 study in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research found that elevated cortisol in alcoholics can lead to hampering basic mental activities such as making decisions, focusing attention properly or effectively making new memories or recalling old ones.

Elevated cortisol levels in alcoholics also encourage the onset of pseudo-Cushing Syndrome, whose symptoms include upper body obesity, weakened bones which can make common activities—such as lifting, bending or rising from a seated position seem like you’ve been working on the docks without a forklift—result to backaches and fractures in the rib and spinal column, severe fatigue, high blood pressure and sugar, and depression. Beer belly, it seems, may be the least of an alcoholic’s health woes.

In fact, according to another 2010 review by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, recovering alcoholics with pseudo-Cushing’s experience symptoms that are worse than during the period of heavy drinking itself.

But wait, there’s more. Another study in the same journal found that cortisol levels still remained high even in recovering alcoholics who are already going through the initial stages of alcohol withdrawal. Researchers in the study also felt that the lingering effects of elevated cortisol seriously increases an abstinent’s chance of a relapse.

It’s a disastrous loop, according to a 2010 study by researchers from Texas Tech University and Penn State University. Their findings say that stress that is not addressed is a major reason for a person’s inability to control alcohol cravings. In turn, a decreased ability to fight cravings leads to eventually reuniting with the bottle. 

While the effects of pseudo-Cushing’s may be reversed with due treatment, wouldn’t it be better if we just avoided all these complications in the first place by taking on whatever’s stressing you by the horns, instead of looking for a temporary solution that is going to be the cause of more problems later on?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Beware of the "Magic Pill"!

Yes, we all know we’ve gained some pounds from too much food (and for some people, stress) over the holidays, so we’re anxious to take it all off as fast as possible as life returns to normal.

This is where some people are tempted to cut corners. Instead of having a healthy diet and exercise, they allow themselves to be lured by shady marketers promising ‘instant’, ‘all-natural’ and ‘effective’ weight loss products with the idea that simply taking their magic potion would make you fit back to your old high school clothes, no strings attached.

On the other side of the world, the Philippine Food and Drug Administration recently cautioned people to be wary of weight loss-inducing products—and for good reason, as these “health” products marketed as oral capsules, coffee or tea drinks are tainted with harmful and regulated substances such as amphetamine, sibutramine, and steroids.  

What are these nasties and why should anyone using them be concerned?

Amphetamine is an addictive substance that is dangerous when misused. It functions as an appetite suppressant in slimming products, but they affect many different parts of the body and result to side effects that are severe, even fatal. In 1979 the USFDA banned its use in diet pills due to a number of deaths being attributed to it.

In January 2010 a study found that the drug Sibutramine—used in weight loss products to suppress the appetite and stimulate metabolism—increased the risk of heart attacks and strokes in patients receiving the drug. This prompted the European Union to ban the use of Sibutramine for weight reduction purposes. Major pharmaceuticals in other countries such as South Africa followed suit and also withdrew their products containing this compound.

Fat burning steroids, meanwhile, are intended for increasing metabolism, gaining muscle mass and encouraging weight loss. However, using this is generally unsafe due to its various side effects that include heart problems, blood pressure fluctuations, headaches and dizziness, infertility and even changes in personality. In addition, whatever weight loss you thought you achieved will creep right back because the body cannot sustain such a rapid increase in metabolism without the steroid to act as stimulant.
You would think that such encouraging names as “Perfect Slim Purely Natural Fat Reduction Cosmetic”, “Perfect Figure Slimming”, “Pretty Model -Qiaomei Fat Binder” and “Seven Days Miracle -Shaping Body Fat Loss” would have you on the Victoria’s Secret runway or a Cosmo photo shoot in no time. Well, they may be effective at shedding weight initially, but the price you have to pay is too high—think of depression and suicidal thoughts, heart attacks, painful urination, convulsions, brain hemorrhage, comatose, death. In any of these states, does a coca-cola figure matter still? NOT worth it at all.

Last year, the USFDA found amphetamine-like substances in 9 “all-natural” weight loss products currently on the market. The agency also found another substance, Acacia rigidula, whose safety for human consumption has not been tested yet.

But it doesn’t mean that we should entirely junk the idea of using weight loss products, no. Diet pills and weight loss supplements, when complemented with a healthy lifestyle and used with a qualified physician’s guidance, aids in our slimming efforts, boosting it and ensuring that the shedding of pounds is sustained for the long term. Some products like CortiSLIM also address specific issues that contribute to weight gain like our exposure to chronic stress and it contains healthy ingredients like Vitamin C and D3.

Be careful with your supplements, watch for products that contain ingredients that are sourced from reputable suppliers and manufactured in GMP Certified facilities. Ensure they don't have dangerous side effects or whose safety is medically unproven. To know which products you should avoid, view the list of US Food and Drug Administration’s banned products:

CortiSLIM's ingredients are sourced from reputable North American suppliers and manufactured in a GMP Certified, ISO 9001, 14001 Certified facility. Nothing but the best for our customers!