Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.

Mark's Daily Apple

15 Feb

The Secret to Great Abs

Admit it: half the reason we all watch Lost is because the main characters are just so great looking. They all have those ripped abs and defined arms that every guy and gal wants. Guess what? It’s not as tough as you’d think to look like Kate or the Doc (oops…lest I start yet another “which guy for Kate” debate, Sawyer, too).

The big myth about getting a sleek, jelly-free belly is that you have to do endless stomach exercises. Hence the never-ending procession of rollers, riders, crunchers and other fitness gimmicks that never give you the washboard you want.

You cannot roll, twist, or squeeze your way to a sexy stomach, no matter what the infomercials tell you.

Here’s why: you already have abs! They might not be as developed as the dude on the cover of Men’s Health, but you already have abs. The problem is that fat is covering them up. Get rid of the fat, and your abs will show up just fine. Believe me, they are there.

Doing stomach exercises is important for further developing those muscles and building core strength (more on that in a moment), but the best thing you can do as far as your torso is concerned – not only for improving confidence, your looks, and your comfort with your body, but your health – is to shed fat. Midsection fat is the most harmful kind of fat to your health and is a critical indicator of stress.

Flex your stomach – even if you’re a couch potato, there’s a little muscle there. Now, if you are flexing and you can still grab abdominal fat in your hand, that’s exactly how much is surrounding your precious internal organs – and that’s a dangerous thing. Fat on your backside? Not so much.

So by all means, crunch away – but your middle will actually get bigger if you don’t simultaneously shrink the fat. Spot toning without overall fat reduction is the wrong approach to getting flat abs, but it’s what most people do. (And notice, nothing changes much, and we all have to suffer through yet another magic abs infomercial with way too much spandex.)

I’m a big proponent of taking care of your torso, not so you can look like a Lost extra (though that’s not a bad thing), but because a healthy middle means reduced chances of obesity (duh), diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and sleep problems.

I’ll be bringing you tips on cutting fat in upcoming posts, but here’s a quick suggestion: cut out all refined carbs, sugar and alcohol for two weeks. I guarantee you’ll see a major reduction in bloat and midsection fat. Although excess calories are what adds the poundage, sugar is the culprit that goes right to the gut. It’s incredibly difficult to have a spare tire if you are primarily getting your calories from protein and produce.

Be sure to check in tomorrow when I’ll be posting a discussion I recently had with Russ Suchala, a fitness colleague of mine and top L.A. physical trainer. You’ll get tons of helpful insights on core health and yes, getting those ripped abs.

This is the last time I forget to turn on the washing machine.

My secret: I never do a sit-up. I just think about having great abs, and poof, there they are!

No, no, just kidding. I do a lot of ab work, but 90% of nice abs = avoiding excess weight from empty calories.

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15 Feb

The Sisson Spoof

Cereality: doing our part to make diabetes a national pastime.

Diabetes cocktail? Pony up to the cereal bar!

Folks are raving about the “genius” of Cereality (thanks, Donny Deutsch), a chain of bars for grownups that lets them access their “inner child” again. Hey, when cocktails get old, I guess people need new ways to flood their body with lethal amounts of sugar.

The cereality of life may be fun – temporarily – but sooner or later, we have to get back to being grownups. I think a certain amount of play is healthy for adults, especially in our modern, fast-paced society. But I’m pretty disgusted by the simultaneous jading of youngsters and infantilization of adults going on everywhere you look. We are a nation of instant gratification addicts. It’s not just in health – baby boomers haven’t saved for retirement, fashion’s latest trends feature women looking like pigeon-toed little girls, and the general trend of commercials for both fast food and household items is to make grown men look like five-year-olds. Men hiding from mouthwash because it doesn’t taste good? Come on! I don’t want a mother, I want a wife, and I don’t want a bowl of Lucky Charms, either. I’ve got a family to care for and suspending reality for cereality isn’t the way to do it. I’ll pass on the obesity and diabetes, thanks. How about you?

In reality, relying on refined sugar – particularly at the beginning of your day – is an excellent way to tax your body’s insulin response and pave the way for diabetes so you can harm yourself and everyone you love. But in cereality, it’s all good fun!

15 Feb

Healthy Tastes Great!

Egg White Omelet


Note: you can leave the yolks in for an extra boost of valuable antioxidants, protein, and vitamins. Yolks contain valuable enzymes and co-factors involved in improving mental health, nutrient absorption and cholesterol – yes, you’re reading that right – management. Don’t buy into the “yolks are bad” hype.

14 Feb

Great Health Hits

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

All the news links you want to click! Mark’s favorite articles from the world of health:

1) Take heart!

Women, like men, are at risk for heart disease and heart attacks. But according to the following link, about one in five women who have heart attacks show no signs of heart trouble before the attack. The usual diagnostics and symptoms just don’t send up any red flags. The Boston Globe‘s online news source, Boston.com, reports:

“For the last 40 years, doctors have relied on five factors to evaluate a patient’s risk of heart disease: their age, whether they smoke, blood pressure, total cholesterol, and levels of good cholesterol, known as HDL.”

Thanks, Christa!

The news that doctors want to add inflammation – hello, a no-brainer! – to the list of red flags is a great step in the right direction for heart health, and one that is long overdue. Inflammation can be a factor in many health conditions and diseases, including diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Stress, sugar, and plain old sloth all contribute to inflammation, as do smoking, alcohol, and other free-radical sources like trans fat in fried foods.

2) Oh, FDA, what will you goof on next?

More FDA shenanigans. This time, infants are affected. This is an important article if you are a new parent (or know someone who is).

Awww...

3) Real men eat lettuce

Men, if you care about your prostate, it’s time to make vegetables your best friend. Like Mark always says, it’s not like they meow – so get over the veggie aversion already!

Yum!

4) The worst health advice, ever!

According to this article, eating carbs – and not just any carbs, but starchy carbs – is a great way to assure yourself a good night’s sleep. It’s also a great way to put yourself at an increased risk for depression, obesity, and diabetes. The article cites a study which found that carbs stimulate tryptophan and serotonin, the body’s natural sleep aids. However, exercise and fruits and vegetables also have this effect, and they won’t sabotage your health!

Here are a few quick, healthy ways to fall asleep fast, and they won’t spike your blood sugar:

– eat a tablespoon of peanut butter before bed – the natural chemicals help soothe your racing mind.

– drink a little warm organic milk – it really does help!

– try 5 minutes of deep breathing or some light stretches.

– wash your hands and face in warm water, wear socks, and keep your room nice and cool!

Keep those toes toasty for better sleep.
14 Feb

Viva La Revolución!

The popularity of blogging and social-networking has reached an all time high and people are beginning to realize that these tools can be applied to personal healthcare. It seems like every day another site pops up that is designed to bring people together and help them achieve health and well-being. We have brought you a number of health sites with a social-networking bent in the past like OrganizedWisdom, Daily Plate, and Traineo, but we can hardly keep up with the surge!

Here are our latest favorites:

Revolution Health: Chairman Steve Case’s (co-founder of AOL) rally call for the site is ‘Let’s revolutionize health care!’ We are right there with you on this one Steve. Personal profile pages, dozens of health and fitness tools, help finding the best doctors and insurance plans, info on medical conditions and treatments. This site aims to have it all and does a pretty bang up job. It is still under construction, but offers a thorough preview in the meantime.

Daily Strength: Here you can keep a wellness journal, make friends and share advice and personal stories, and join support groups. This site is not nearly as comprehensive as Revolution Health, and is also in a preview stage, but is definitely worth a look.

Sermo: This site is ‘by physicians, for physicians’ so it won’t apply to everyone, but the objective is so laudable it is well worth the mention. Additionally, if their goals are achieved we all win by receiving better healthcare from more informed physicians.

 

Sermo is a forum for healthcare providers to collaborate on the latest clinical findings and discuss their experience from their daily practice. This collective knowledge can then be used to apply more accurate and precise diagnoses to patients. All physicians out there should be using this resource.

 

The next three sites provide communities and support for specific groups of people: dLife for those managing a life with diabetes; Real Mental Health for those dealing with depression, bipolar disorder and other mental health conditions; The Wellness Community which provides support and education for those affected by cancer. The format, design and philosophy may change slightly from site to site, but they all have a few things in common. They challenge us to be the masters of our own health destinies. They encourage us to arm ourselves to the hilt with the latest health information, so we can make informed decisions. And they want to see us connect with one another to share our personal experiences and advice. As you well know, these are just a few of the goals found here at Mark’s Daily Apple.

 

The social-networking revolution for healthcare is no longer on its way. It is here! We are happy to be at the forefront of this change – bringing useful, humorous, enjoyable, and easy-to-digest health information to all. Viva La Revolución!

Thanks to Diabetes Mine for sharing great new Web 2.0 health information.

 

© 2014 Mark's Daily Apple

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