Reason #1,374 to Drink More Coffee

coffee

I have written on the health benefits of coffee before, but it seems like research supporting the healthiness of coffee emerges so often, that it is hard to keep up.

I have mentioned before, many, many, times, how much I love coffee. That first cup in the morning, the second cup after lunch, and the third cup after dinner, all make my day more full and enjoyable. That a drink brightens my day so much is a testament to this amazing drink!

Now, if the taste and aroma weren’t enough, research shows that coffee may not only prevent Alzheimer’s, but actually reverse it! Yes, that is right, reverse it. The research was carried out on rats, but it looks promising nonetheless. Researchers gave rats (specially bred to develop Alzheimer’s like dementia) caffeine, the equivalent to 5 cups of coffee a day. They found some amazing things. First of all, the caffeine significantly reduced brain and blood levels of beta-amyloid, the substance many believe is responsible for Alzheimer’s disease. Second, giving young rats of this strain caffeine prevented dementia from developing in these animals, even though they were specifically bred to develop dementia. Third, and very exciting, once the older rats (who had, by this point, developed dementia) started receiving caffeine, they not only stopped losing their memory, but regained what they had lost, having normal memory as regular rats of the same age. In other words, consuming the human equivalent of drinking 5 cups of coffee a day not only prevented dementia, but reversed it.

Drink up.

Nice Change of Pace

The purpose of this blog is to not only have many years in your life, but also to help our readers have life in their (hopefully many) years on this earth. We often do this through health and fitness advice, but having a long and happy life is also dependent on doing activities that you enjoy. That was very true for me this week while visiting my family.

I live about four hours away from my mom and dad, so visiting them is always special. And, since they live so far away, it’s always necessary to find new things to do when visiting. This allows a nice change of pace.

For example, I enjoy target shooting a lot, but there aren’t any close places to shoot where I live. Although I live in the country, my land is flat and not ideal for target shooting. In addition, the nearest public ranges are at least 30 minutes away. But, my dad’s friend has over 100 acres of hilly land and lives 5 minutes from his house. So, my brother, dad, and I had a great time shooting. In addition to trying accuracy with our pistols, we also obliterated several pieces of wood with the shotgun.

Also, David and I are taking a health and wellness course and we wanted to do some studying together. So, we went to Tim Horton’s to have an evening coffee (no Tim Horton’s near Cleveland) and they had new blueberry flavoring. I love coffee and this seemed interesting. It was great and well, summery (if that’s a word).

It was also nice to do some pleasurable learning. Studies have shown that learning throughout life in beneficial to the brain’s health. Too often learning is not enjoyable, but a chore because it is required. In this case, I was very interested in learning about the topic (health and wellness), so it was a great experience. My brain got healthier and it also relaxed me.

Although I find comfort in routines and enjoy mine generally, a change of pace is nice too.

Facebook May Be Good For You

Studies have shown that friends, specifically a social network, can be good for your health. While Facebook and other online sites may not provide the same level of companionship that a “real life” relationship does, they, I believe, still could have health benefits.

My personal experience with Facebook has been that it allows me to stay connected with people I normally would not have kept in contact with. While it may be true that meeting regularly for coffee could be better than referencing someone’s status update, if that person lives in California and you live in New York, I think responding to status updates is still better than nothing. I have re-connected with numerous people from my past thanks to Facebook.

I’ve also been able to more deeply explore my interests by networking with other like-minded people. Doing things you love more often and with others probably has health benefits as well.

Fat Cell Theory

It can be disheartening to dieters, but it appears that we cannot actually reduce the number of fat cells within our body. So, when we lose weight we are merely decreasing the size of the set number of fat cells. However, this still leaves the cells themselves intact, waiting to be filled. This is called “fat cell theory.”

Our number of fat cells seems to be determined throughout infancy and adolescence. And, some scientists believe that this can be controlled, so that skinnier kids create fewer fat cells. Thus, they have an advantage throughout life. This may explain why so few obese children become skinny as adults.

For more info, visit this article

Workout Tip #6: Start Slowly

I’ve known people for whom a diet can be a life changing extravaganza. They buy the right clothes, pack the ipod with upbeat tunes, get totally motivated, and start to envision their new hot selves. Next, they go to the gym and kill themselves. And, scared off by the soreness and stiffness, they don’t go back for a long, long time.

My basic advice is that you have to start slowly, especially if you are out of shape, overweight, or older. But, even young people who are starting a new fitness activity could use this advice. Now that I’m doing summer camp, I’ve discovered that being able to run, play racketball, lift weights, ride bikes, and cross country ski at a high fitness level didn’t translate to floor hockey. It probably helped, but I was still extremely sore.

You have to start slowly or you risk burning out. Nothing puts the breaks on a new fitness routine like not being able to move! But, you also risk hurting yourself. Waiting several weeks for an injury to heal also does little for your physique.

So, start slowly and work your way up to the harder stuff. It may seem wimpy to walk around the block at first, but you have to start somewhere. Walking around the block now could lead to a mega-marathon way down the line; but if you try to overdo it too soon, you may just feel like you’ve run one.

Choosing Eating Over Life

Connie: You would rather stuff yourself and roll around in your stupid electric cart than take me to the dance?

Bobby: Why, I guess I would.

This little conversation comes from the TV show King of the Hill when chubby Bobby Hill develops gout from eating too many deli type foods from a local restaurant and prefers to keep the food (and the gout) rather than go to the dance with his girlfriend.

This storyline is indicative of the decisions many people, especially in the USA, make on a daily basis. They choose food over many of life’s alternatives. Now, the choice may not be as clear cut as in King of the Hill, but it is real. Obesity can often lead to lack of mobility, shortness of breath, a lower quality of life, and an early death. So, in a sense, by choosing to eat too much, many people are rejecting such things like an active lifestyle, playing with their kids, general mobility, and spending a longer time on earth with their loved ones.

I love food and believe it should be enjoyed in life, but not at the expense of the other good things. The sad truth is that large numbers of people are choosing food over living life.

Beating Expectations

My employer is known for its excellent lunches that it provides to its employees free of charge. We have all kinds of choices including soups, bagels, deli, salads, and dessert in addition to a hot meal. People who work here often speak of the “G_____ fifteen” referring to the amount of weight people gain once they start working here.

A colleague recently shared with me a story about my first year here. Some of the kitchen employees predicted, in a lighthearted way, that they thought I would gain weight while eating their lunches. Maybe it was the fact that I came in chunky.

Happily, I’ve beaten expectations by not just avoiding weight gain, but also by actually losing weight and getting fitter. How did I do it? Responsible choices. I picked the salads, the veggies, the fruit, and the whole grain items. I skipped the desserts.

It’s nice to beat expectations.

Workout Tip #5: Get Motivated (Part 2)

jfat

I previously wrote about the importance of motivation and how to use short term motivation. Here are a few of my ideas for long term motivation. They are similar to the short term ones in many ways, just more focused on the…well…longer term.

Visualize Yourself– While the first short term technique was to visualize your immediate goal, this is more about visualizing your healthier, fitter self. What do you want to look like? Feel like? Imagine it and remind yourself of that each and every time you are tempted to skip your workout or even eat un-healthily. Which image would you rather date? Or hang out with? Be?

Look at your old or current self– In addition to your new image, remind yourself what you don’t want to look like.Keep a “fat” photo of yourself close by at all times. When you feel tempted to avoid workouts look at it. Is this really what you want to be?

Find a deeper reason– Looks are not everything, even though they we’d be lying if we said they didn’t matter. But, there are deeper and more important things in life: family, friends, health, happiness. Pick one or more of these and remind yourself of them every time you want to slack. Maybe it’s the grandson you want to see graduate high school or the ability to golf (or live) past 45.

The photos are ones of me (the first poorly manipulated) to illustrate the first two principles. If anyone has any more tips that work for you, please share in the comments.

jonskinny

Workout Tip #5: Get Motivated!

Motivation…whether it’s to clean our room or mow our lawn, it’s not easy and to be honest, it’s probably not the same for everyone. But, motivation has to be at the root of successful workouts. As I mentioned in a previous post, you can’t even start to exercise if you don’t get to the gym, get off the couch, etc. I know it sounds very mental and working out is supposed to be physical, but inspiration is just as important as perspiration when it comes to losing weight (my apologies to Thomas Edison).

Admittedly, I am to the point now where I am simply motivated as a matter of fact. I don’t say this to brag, but I don’t really think about it; I simply do it. But, it wasn’t always that way. Unless working out has become a life habit, motivation remains an important component. So, here are a few of my suggested motivational tips (note: I’ve not actually used all of these, but figure they’d be good). Today I’m going to discuss more short term tips and next week, I’ll write part two which will detail more long term motivational tips.

Short Term:

Visualize it– Visualize what you want to accomplish at that very moment. If your goal is to go to the gym, then don’t let yourself even consider going home to sit on the couch. Keep focused and see yourself at the gym, on the bike, etc.

Filter out the noise– Life is really busy and it’s easy to think that all the little things pulling at us are more important than working out. Remove the deadlines, the home stress, and everything else from your mind. Exercise (which helps focus anyway) should be a big priority, which means that the little things vying for our daily attentions should not lead us to avoid exercise.

Remind yourself of the immediate benefits– I overheard a guy at the YMCA say how he’s never (except when sick) left the YMCA feeling worse than when he came in. He meant that although it may have been a pain to drag himself in, he always felt better after exercising. I can completely affirm his statement. Remind yourself of the immediate, great feeling that you get when you workout.

More coming next week, so check back!

Workout Tip #4: Work Out Without Working Out

Sometimes you don’t have to “work out” to get a work out. In fact, some of the best fitness moments I can remember were times when I got lost in the fun and had a great workout to boot. I remember in high school playing pickup basketball for hours with friends. We played aggressive and rarely stopped for breaks. The sheer fun and competition were excellent and I burned more calories in those 2-3 (sometimes 4) hours than I would have in a gym. And, the experience was much more memorable.

Last week, I watched this principle in action when I went to Cedar Point with my school. I walked around a huge amusement park in hot weather, logging nearly 17.000 steps on my pedometer! I was way too tired to go to the gym afterward or even move really! Yet, I didn’t need to because it was an incredible workout and also incredible fun. I also got paid since I was technically working! Not bad.

So, find those ways to work out without really “working out.” They’ll make you fitter, healthier, and happier.