Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lesson #20: Physical Fitness for Entrepreneurs, Part 2

That’s the question Dr. Claire McCarthy, a pediatrician at the Harvard Medical School has asked for years of her young patients and their parents. What she’s concluded about overweight people is summed up in her four “D”s:
Denial: “This is probably the main reason. People think that they or their kids, aren’t overweight (so many people are overweight that unless you are really obese, you don’t stick out). They let themselves think that their diets aren’t that bad or that walking to the car from the store is enough exercise.”
Delaying: “Next week they’ll start the diet, or stop buying chips for the kids. Things are too nuts at work (or at home, or at school) right now. In the spring they’ll join a gym or sign Junior up for soccer. It can wait (there’s the denial again).”
Discouragement: “The hard truth is that losing weight takes work and time. It’s easy and understandable, to get discouraged and start thinking, why should I make myself miserable eating carrots and going to the gym if it’s not doing anything anyway? Why should I make my kid miserable if he’s not losing weight?”
Difficulty: “For many people there are real obstacles. Healthy foods are more expensive and not always easily available. Gym memberships can be expensive too – as can fees for sports teams for children. Many families live in neighborhoods where playing outside isn’t safe.”

It’s the Habit, Not the Exception
It is now scientifically proven that leaner meals with fewer calories are actually better for us both physically and mentally. However, commercial dieting or severe calorie restriction is not the best way to pursue the proper substitute for weight loss or physical fitness. To achieve weight loss should never be a standalone goal. It’s also important to note two other key factors in your overall health: 1) regular exercise and 2) an understanding of your body composition
Our health is affected not so much by how much we weigh but rather by how lean we are -- that is, by the ratio of fat-free mass (consisting of muscle, bone and water) to the amount of fat in our bodies (commonly measured as body fat percentage). Dieting by itself does nothing in building lean muscles and in promoting a long term effect of keeping the weight off. The only way to maintain a lifelong course of optimum health is to get in the habit of exercising regularly to build lean muscles, keep the fat off and stay mentally alert. It also means eating properly and being more aware of your body.
Men and women who have a high body fat percentage tend to be unhealthy, regardless of whether they're heavy or light. By contrast, individuals who have a low body fat percentage tend to be healthy, again regardless of whether they are heavy or light.
The healthiest men and women have good muscle tone and just enough body fat to perform the functions that body fat is responsible for (e.g. supplying energy and cushioning our vital organs). A lean body composition is also ideal for athletic performance, because muscle is capable of performing work, whereas excess body fat just increases the load the muscles must carry.
In the book “Younger Next Year” pertaining mainly to people 50 and over, by Dr. Henry Lodge and Chris Crowley, they argue that the only way to achieve a lifetime of health includes exercising six times a week including four aerobic sessions (running, fast walking, cycling) and two anaerobic sessions (weight training to tone your muscles). Each session should last between 45 minutes to an hour including some stretching. While many people will consider that too much time out of the day, developing the habit of exercising can eventually benefit you personally and financially. And one undeniable fact: we are mammals; animals. We are physical creatures that require physical activity as a necessary component of our ability to stay alive. There are huge libraries of evidence showing that those who do physical work outlive those who sit on their butts.
A study at Harvard of 14,000 people also concluded with the same results: we need to exercise for one hour in six out of seven days each week. And we cannot just walk but gradually move up to moderate exercising where you’re breathing harder and forcing your muscles to work harder.
In his best-selling book, “Brain Rules” author John Medina lists physical exercise as the number one method of keeping the brain alert and maintaining the ability to learn new things. Even at the age of 80, science has shown that it’s possible to strengthen your muscles and limber up those cranky joints.
For when you are planning out your physical fitness program, include the following parts:
1.     Aerobics – running, cycling, fast walking – movement that forces you to breathe harder
2.     Anaerobic – weight lifting – increasing your muscular strength in your arms, core, legs
3.     Stretching – yoga, limbering up your extremities,  (start slowly and warm up to avoid injury)
4.     Dexterity – hand-eye coordination, balancing, quick reflex exercises

There has been a conceptual separation of brawn and brain when in fact, we now know they are one and the same. The quality of our physical condition from the pumping of our hearts, the strength of our muscles to the quality of the foods has a direct correlation to the health of our vital organs – especially the brain. In fact, much of what’s truly nutritious for you both physically and mentally is probably already in your frig or easily purchased at the local supermarket.
According to Dr. Daniel G. Amen, MD, a well respected expert on nutrition and the brain, there are six nutritional neural/physical principles:
1.                      Drink at least 84 ounces of water daily. Since the brain is 80 percent water, it is imperative that we provide enough water to keep it hydrated. And yes, the brain can suffer dehydration raising stress hormones causing damage to your brain over time.
2.                      Restrict your caloric intake. This controls your weight and decreases the risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke. On the other side, however, is the importance of taking in the right kinds of foods. It even has a name – CRON for Caloric Restriction with Optimal Nutrition.” The Secret: eat five small meals daily rather than three big ones.
3.                      Fish, fish oil, and good fats. DHA, a form of omega-3 fatty acid found in fish makes up a large part of the brain’s gray matter. It is also a main component of the brain’s synapses. Research has also shown that DHA promotes a healthy emotional balance.
4.                      Lots of dietary antioxidants – Numerous studies on antioxidants from fruits and vegetables have shown they can reduce the risk of developing cognitive impairment. As cells convert oxygen into energy, tiny molecules called free radicals are formed. When produced in massive quantities, free radicals damage the body’s cellular machinery resulting in cell death and damaged organs including the brain.
Best Antioxidant Fruits and Vegetables: blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, strawberries, raspberries, spinach, Brussels sprouts, plums, broccoli, beets, avocadoes oranges, red grapes, red bell peppers, cherries and kiwis.
5.                      Balance protein, good fats and carbohydrates. At each meal, one needs to combine foods from each of the three food components into a balanced serving. This includes: Lean proteins: fish especially wild salmon, skinless chicken and turkey, lean beef and pork, enriched DHA eggs, organic tofu, low fat cheeses and cottage cheese, garbanzo beans and lentil; and walnuts to name a few.
Complex carbohydrates: berries (see above), oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, peaches, plums, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, oats, whole wheat, wheat germ, red and yellow peppers, squash, spinach, tomatoes, yams and beans.
Fats: avocados, extra virgin, cold-pressed olive oil, olives, salmon, macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, pecans, walnuts and almonds.
Liquids: water, green and black teas
6.                      Plan for snacks. Again, it is best to combine proteins, carbs and fats. So, it’s possible to have dried fruits and vegetables (but don’t buy the kind in supermarkets that’s loaded with preservatives) and combine with nuts (protein and fat) or low fat cheese (protein). 

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