Thursday, May 31, 2012

There Ain't No Shortcut

Yes, I said Ain't.  My elementary school English teacher, Mrs. Sims would have a fit if she saw that in my title.  But it just seemed to be the right choice.  I promise I ain't going to use that word in this post though, so I hope you ain't deterred from reading further. Onward we go.

It happens monthly, maybe even weekly.  I see/hear of another shortcut for weight loss.  Sometimes it's a supplement.  Sometimes it's a weird diet.  Sometimes it's a weird activity of some sort. And yes, sometimes it's even surgical intervention (which while I don't like at all, may be necessary in extreme morbid obesity cases I think).

Well guess what?  I heard of a new one recently.  What it is doesn't matter, it just goes to show that our Western culture's infatuation with the shortcut to health still exists.  The magic pill, the long sought for panacea, the fountain of youth, the.......the.....well you get the point. 

And guess what?  It probably works to reduce fat and make one look better.  Yep that's right, they look better.  The key word here is LOOK.  Notice I did NOT say be healthier. 

In 1984, I owned a 1973 VW Beetle.  It was a sight to behold.  It was mostly blue.  It had a yellow door.  It had 2 gray fenders.  It had rust.  I spent about 400 dollars to have it reworked and painted, (yes all one color).  It looked much much better, just like new.  However, if I didn't change the oil from time to time, clean the carburetor (remember those?), change the spark plugs out when needed etc. then the car would die.  It would still LOOK good on the outside, but would be ill on the inside. And no one would notice as I drove it that the engine was about to blow.

Yep, our bodies are the same. In our culture we want to look good on the outside (botox anyone?).  We want the appearance of health so badly, that we focus on the outside instead of on what makes us truly healthy (or for that matter, what makes us truly sick).  So billion dollar industries are created on this farce of health and wellness.  Yes it's a farce.  And it's a suicidal farce at that.

The reality of it is, while we slowly commit suicide by lifestyle in our culture by running to the next magic cure, the answer is really oh so simple.  Simple?  Yes, simple.  And if you read any of my stuff you should know the answer by now.  Eat well, Move well, Think well and Rest well.  That's it.  There is no other answer.  Oh sure, surgery for some of our self inflicted illnesses is necessary at times when things are too out of control.  But that only puts out a fire, it doesn't rebuild the structure.  My formula listed above does rebuild the structure.  It's the only way.

Ok, one more time, repeat after me:  There ain't no shortcut (my apologies to Mrs. Sims).

Until next time... Be Well!
Dr. Bruce

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Staying Hydrated, Staying Well

It’s mid-May as I am writing this and for the first time in a long time, I looked at the 10 day forecast and saw 90’s as the predicted high temperature.  That can only mean one thing: Summer is right around the corner and the long timeframe of 90+ degree days week after week after week looms ahead.  Summer is a time where we spend a lot of time outdoors, and great memories will be made this summer for many, but it’s important that we also keep a very important thought in mind:  Hydration.

Intake of fluids is vital for our daily health, even in the winter, though it certainly increases in the summer months as we work outside in our yards and schedule outdoor events/play time.  On the hottest of days, when it’s impossible to avoid being outdoors (while working for instance) it even becomes vital to our safety and our lives.  60% of our body weight is made from water, and when it gets out of balance, significant alterations in important physiological reactions in the body occur than can be life threatening. 
So we obviously know staying hydrated is important, but how do we do it?  The best way of course is water, plain pure water. I recommend filtered water. Bottled water is acceptable as well.  Drink it often, drink it regularly and make it a habit.  Don’t like water?  Try adding some lemon or lime squeezed into it for flavor.  Yes you can get water from other drinks, but most come with added ingredients that are deleterious to your health.  You can try juicing for instance.  I am a fan of tea (unsweetened, with lemon or lime again) but it shouldn’t be something you drink all day long.  There really is no true replacement for plain good old fashioned water.

How much should we drink?  Different authors vary, some sticking with the eight 8-ounce glasses/day, but I don’t believe that one size fits all.  If you’re 6’5” and weigh 250 pounds, you probably have a different water intake requirement than a 5’0 110 pound person.  One formula says to divide your weight in half, and drink that number of ounces/day.  Let me say that is a lot of water and you’ll surely stay hydrated at that rate (and you’ll surely stay in the bathroom a lot).  It’s a great goal to shoot for though, and I have managed to hit that level with some frequency.  

However the best thing is to constantly be sipping on water throughout your day.  Keep a large bottle with you in your office, keep one at home too and drink and refill throughout the day.  I keep a 32 ounce bottle at my office and I try to go through 2 of them/day.  If you wait until you feel thirsty, you are most likely under-hydrated already so don’t wait that long.  A great way to tell if you are hydrated or not is (seriously) the color of your urine.  It should be a pale straw color at most (remember this saying “Pee Pale”).  If it is dark colored or bright colored, you are certainly under hydrated (unless you are taking vitamins, or have had beets or beet juice recently).  It’s a simple way to assess where you are.  And, in the summer, if you’re sweating a lot, or exercising a lot, of course you’ll need more water.

Caution signs for dehydration include dry mouth and swollen tongue, weakness, dizziness, confusion, sluggishness or fainting, inability to sweat and decreased urine output.  More significant dehydration that requires calling for emergency services include fever higher than 103, headaches, seizures, no urine output for 12 hours, fainting or difficulty breathing.

Water is vital to our health. Remember “The solution to pollution is dilution”, so keep yourself well hydrated for optimum health too!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The End Of The Weekend...Bummed or Pumped?

Sunday evenings are a time in most households where people start wrapping up the weekend and thinking about the upcoming week. Some people dread the end of the weekend, and are already looking forward to the following weekend.  I find it sad, that people live lives that are based on living for the next day off and hate Mondays so much.  I think people should enjoy their weekends, rest and rejuvenate, so that they are ready to attack and not just survive Mondays.  I would hope that everyone would be grateful for having some down time on weekends, and look forward to Mondays as they strive to make a difference in their career, in overcoming challenges with/for people, and leaving a legacy via their calling.

I like to use Sunday nights, especially after my family goes to bed, for planning out the week.  This includes my "to do's" for work, as well as the times I am needed to perform family duties (cooking, driving, cleaning, errands) and of course times for my wellness.  I include times for exercise, plans for eating well, noting potential challenges to living in the realm of wellness (where I might struggle with eating, moving, thinking and resting in a wellness way).  When I note that a particularly difficult time is coming in regards to living well, I make sure that before and after I live appropriately to offset those challenging times.

For instance, tomorrow morning I have a breakfast meeting.  I can't control what they serve, but I can make sure that before I leave for the meeting, I put some good things in my body so that I am not starving and forced to "pig out" on whatever is available tomorrow.  So I will make sure I have my superfood shake in the morning as well as a boiled egg.  Then at the meeting I will eat minimally and definitely avoid the worst of the offerings. 

So, instead of being bummed that Sunday night is here, and that Monday morning is right around the corner, use Sunday nights to design your week, and thus your life!  You'll look at Sunday evenings and the end of the weekend in a whole new light!

Until next time...Be Well!!

Dr. Bruce