Everyone loves a useful, pithy top ten – you MDA frequent flyers know that Mark delivers a piping hot set every Tuesday.
But with so many blogs, and so little time (darn work keeps gettin’ in the way), it’s hard to know which top tens are really…top. Never fear, Apples. I have spent the week scouring the blogosphere for the most helpful, enjoyable top ten lists to get you healthy, lean, fit, rested, and stress-free.
A list of lists: presenting the Top Ten Top Ten
I would add that in addition to fried fish sticks, popcorn shrimp and white-meat chicken nuggets are also lean protein sources gone very, very bad. The Doc makes an excellent point that we make these bad foods even worse by masking their bland flavor in unhealthy sauces.
Wow – this is a list you cannot miss! A sample: Fat isn’t bad. Sit-ups won’t give you a six-pack. And endless wailing at the cardio machine is not necessarily healthy.
Some of them are sneaky!
An unusual list of reasons you may not have considered. I think too much in = not enough out is the obvious major culprit for obesity, but this list serves to show us that it’s really our entire lifestyle contributing to the obesity epidemic. In fact, if you think about it, it would be weird if we didn’t have an obesity epidemic – and isn’t that sad?
A refreshing take on why quitting smoking is so important.
Careful on #5: remember to breathe and relax for best balance.
Absolutely one of the best round-ups of fitness myths I’ve seen. Each one is commonly believed by many of us, and this handy guide expertly debunks them all.
This isn’t just a problem for overweight people. (In fact, part of the reason overweight people have extra pounds is because they have really good metabolisms! Possibly thanks to gut bugs, their bodies have become a little too efficient – great in prehistoric times, not so great now.)
This list offers some great tips, though I wouldn’t recommend a) high-intensity cardio more than once or twice a week, or b) drinking ice water for caloric burn.
Too much cardio actually stimulates cortisol and adrenaline, because the body thinks it’s in “fight or flight” panic mode. (Now, now, don’t be too sad about cutting back on the cardio machines.) As far as drinking ice water goes, this is one of those “relative nutrition” things Mark always talks about. It might help, it probably won’t hurt, but it’s such a marginal influence either way, don’t expect big results.
The bread crust myth was new to me. Anyone else heard this one before? Apples?
I like this list because it takes one enjoyable habit and shows you how this habit can alleviate all your health, exercise, and stress concerns. Nice, simple concept, easy to do, and really healthy!
Here’s a question for you: what do we really mean when we talk about anti-aging?
Anti-aging supplements, hormones and tools are some of the hottest things going right now. Everywhere you look, people are talking about “brain health”. Sudoku is enjoying a popularity only rivaled by high school prom queens. Botox is big, everyone dyes their hair, and if you’re not taking antioxidants, well, it’s time to get with the program. And let’s not even get started on the youth-worship in prime time TV and magazines. We don’t really have to: anti-aging has taken over health, too.
Which is fine by me. Who wouldn’t want to get more out of life? But here’s the issue: are we talking about living longer, or living better?
At best, if you do everything, and I mean everything, right – don’t smoke or drink, exercise, eat well, sleep, control stress, maintain healthy, loving relationships, enjoy meaningful work, avoid sugar and carcinogens, breathe fresh air, take vacations, stay positive, stretch your mind, save your pennies (getting tired yet?) – there’s still ultimately a limit.
At best, doing everything perfectly, you can expect to make it to 80 or 90 – perhaps 100 if you’re really, really doing something right. (Then again, we all know the stories about the guy who ate bacon and had a flask of whiskey glued to his hip at breakfast yet managed to live to 110.)
So what do we really want? The current model doesn’t look too appealing. It appears to me that we’re all aiming for a place in the longevity race. Getting a few wrinkles? No problem – slice ‘em away! Diseased and overweight from years of neglect and poor choices? There’s a pill and a surgery to fix it! So we’ve got a whole barrel of surgeries and drugs to make up for mistakes. Which is fine, but is this really living well?
Personally, I’d rather not see the inside of 100 if it means I’m hobbling along thanks to a slew of surgery and drugs. I think most of us want energy, vitality, and more bang for the buck – yet our diet, our medical system, and our approach to health don’t reflect this at all. Most health treatments seem to be patching the leaks, rather than preventing the leaks to begin with. Yet I think most of us would choose living well over living a long time. So, how do we align our choices with our goals?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. (Click “Ask Anything!” to send me an email, or visit the forum to leave me a message.)
The Tuesday 10
It’s easy to get lost in the details – organic or local? wild or farmed? fresh or frozen? – and to me it seems like the majority of health news out there is just obsessing over the minutiae. No wonder we give up and go back to our old habits.
The little things can matter, but on balance, it’s the consistent application of a few simple lifestyle changes that count. Make a few very basic – but significant – healthy changes, and the little things tend to take care of themselves. Or no longer matter so much.
Here are ten simple steps to better health that you can implement, starting right now:
10. No More Rules
First things first: no more worrying about the so-called Holy Grails of Health. Here’s what I’m talking about: Water. Coffee. Breakfast. Sleep. Following the pyramid. Fat. Sunlight. These supposed hard-and-fast rules of health cause more stress than the actual things. How about trusting your body enough to know what’s right for you? You’re up for the challenge, I guarantee it.
9. 90/10 or 10/90?
A lot of us focus on rules, numbers or specific amounts in an attempt to lose weight and feel healthier. We vow to eat a certain number of calories, for example. Even Uncle Sam falls for the magic of numbers (the failed 5-a-day vegetable campaign that is now being retired). But getting healthy is about being healthy. 90% of your regular habits and 10% of healthy habits added to that is just not a recipe for health. It’s got to be the other way around.
8. Eat something green at every meal.
Pretty easy! It should be at least half of the portion size, plate, cup…
7. Absolutely cut out the sodas and sugary drinks.
Yup, they have to go.
6. Don’t eat anything that comes in a box, bag or package.
I’m not talking about a bag of frozen broccoli or a jar of almonds. I’m talking about processed, packaged, preserved foods. This is a big commitment. It is tough. But there is just no way you can be as healthy and fit as you want if you don’t stick to this most of the time. You can cheat (we all do). But keep that 90% in mind. Keep it fresh.
5. Eat meat that isn’t so processed.
Vegetarians don’t have to worry about this too much (unless you’re eating lots of processed mock meats). Fresh, clean, lean chicken and fish is going to do wonders for your health in the long run – you’ll help prevent cancer, high blood pressure and heart disease. Sausage, bacon, deli meat, processed meats, on the other hand? Carcinogen special.
4. Eat a salad – every day.
So, I’m a little obsessed with my daily salad. But it’s such a no-brainer! You can even enjoy some goodies on it (nuts, a little cheese, dressing). Who said humans were meant for burritos and sandwiches?
3. Fight stress.
Whether it’s with a run, meditation, yoga, prayer, or a hot bath, find something that makes you feel completely relaxed, and do it a lot. Think of it as your 20-minute love insurance – as in loving your own life! Do this consistently for two weeks – most of us don’t commit to making ourselves feel great on a long-term basis. Try this out, and you will feel flat amazing. It may be the most important thing for your health.
2. Rethink the workouts.
Don’t do it if you even remotely dislike it – you won’t stick with it (who would?). My secret? Just put those sneakers on – that’s literally 90% of the battle. So, don’t think “I have to work out!” Instead, think, “I have to put my shoes on!”
1. Don’t worry.
Most of the stuff circulating in the media is old news with shiny new sprinkles on it. Or it’s based on a press release or a biased study. I’m not saying you should ignore information – by all means, educate yourself. But the general idea with a lot of “news” is to frighten the living daylights out of you so you’ll buy something. You’re doing pretty well, actually. So don’t worry – just keep learning and doing new things. It will all add up.
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Times, they are a-changin’.
This week’s Aaron’s Additions brings you news and tips about the spring time change. If you’re feeling a little bit behind this week (I know I am!), there’s a very good reason: the time change throws off everyone’s circadian rhythms, and work productivity and sleep habits can suffer temporarily. The extra sunshine feels great (don’t forget the sunscreen), but it’s not without a few temporary drawbacks.
I aim to bring you the latest health tools, tips and blogs from Web 2.0 (that handy term for the growing personalized, community nature of the internet). Since we’re all in this time change together, I think some helpful resources are in order!
Here are some helpful and humorous tools and links for you to get yourself back on track:
Psych Central brings us a great article explaining the benefits and drawbacks of Daylight Savings Time – as well as a very helpful review of how this affects the mood, mind and body. It won’t put you to sleep, but it will help you understand the important relationship between sunlight and snoozing.
If you’re feeling a little off this week, you’re not alone. Evidently everyone is feeling a little out of sorts! Grumplestiltskin at Woulda Coulda Shoulda doesn’t mince words about the off-kilter antics everyone seems to be involved in. A little comedic relief is good for everyone!
Maynard Clark offers some very helpful tips for adjusting to a new sleep and work schedule. Check it out!
As you may know by now, I am not afraid of the sunlight. Although most dermatologists suggest that we might be better off living in caves and covering ourselves head-to-toe whenever we venture out, my own evolutionary perspective leads me to believe we were designed to get sunlight almost every day and that our health suffers if we don’t get enough.
In fact, recent studies show that, as a result of our shunning the sun, many of us suffer from Vitamin D deficiency and a resulting loss of bone density and immune function (to name a few effects). Some researchers opine that more people die from lack of sun than from too much sun! But, I digress.
I came across an article the other day that piqued my curiosity since it dealt with the combination of running and sunning.
It basically showed that marathoners (of which I was once one) tend to get skin cancer at higher rates than other people. The more they ran, the higher the incidence of skin cancer. My take on what’s happening is that not only are the runners exposed to more sun (which can cause DNA damage in skin cells leading to cancer), but they are also bathed in more free radicals overall from the excessive oxidation of glucose and fats. We know that sun exposure does deplete the skin of the antioxidant Vitamin C.
Moreover, the act of running tends to divert blood flow away from the skin, starving it of additional important antioxidants that could neutralize the free-radical damage in the skin tissues. Add to that the enormous amounts of cortisol marathoners pump out doing this unnaturally high steady-state oxidative work and we not only get the DNA damage, we get the immuno-suppressive effects of the high-stress activity.
So: more DNA damage and a reduced ability to recognize that damage and take steps to eliminate those cells and/or repair the damage. That’s one reason (among many) that I have doused myself with antioxidants inside and out for over 20 years now. That’s also why one of my newest mantras is: a little running is OK – a lot is bad.
This article also brings up other points of discussion, such as whether the reliance on inferior sunscreens was another cause. It appears that for the past 30 years so-called sunscreens have been good at blocking UVB rays (the ones that burn) but not UVA (the ones primarily responsible for DNA damage and skin cancer). The effect is a generation of gung-ho health fanatics (yes, I was one) slathering on sunscreen and running 40, 50 or 100 miles a week. The fact that we didn’t burn only lead us to believe we could stay out even longer. Little did we know that the burning of skin might have been a great first warning to get the hell out of the sun.
Unfortunately, the sunscreen gave us the false notion we were invulnerable. More on that later….
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