Monday, March 24, 2014

Toxic Waist: How Toxins Make You Fat

Okay. Before we can talk about how toxins make us fat, I need to inform you of a little known area of medical science called genomic reprogramming. Researchers in genomic reprogramming believe that human DNA, the genes we are born with, can be manipulated in a way in which they do or do not express health or disease for you. It was previously believed that your genetic makeup sealed your fate - no exchanges; no returns - but that is no longer the case. There are actions that can be taken in order to excite or repress certain genetic traits.

That said, let's move on to discuss how toxins can manipulate your body's ability to gain and retain fat.

Although the body has an amazing ability to process an incredible amount of toxins, there is little doubt that it can be overwhelmed. Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution our systems have been awash in stew of man-made toxins that have increased at an alarming rate and have compounded over time.

A toxin is basically anything that your body does not recognize as either food or a part of itself. Toxins destroy our hormonal balance and often act as endocrine disruptors - meaning they "disrupt" the way our hormones usually work. The hormones most often affected are estrogen, thyroid, testosterone, cortisol and insulin.

Endocrine disruption can occur when toxins "rewire" our hormone receptors and fool them into increasing, decreasing, or restricting the production of circulating hormones. Essentially, if a related hormone isn't performing as it should, then your metabolism isn't either.

To take this a step further, many toxins are lipophilic [lip-ə-ˈfil-ik] - meaning they are very receptive to fats. So when the amounts of toxins your body carries exceeds its ability to process them, your body seeks a way to efficiently neutralize their danger.

So it suspends these toxins in body fat. Over time and with repeated over exposure to toxins, your biochemistry begins to automatically streamline its ability to create more fat just for such purposes. And it begins to crave more calories, sugars, and salts than usual. These are the materials needed for the body to produce more fat and retain water as a protective defense against these noxious substances.

In a nutshell: the presence of toxins can reprogram your DNA to become a fat producing machine. On the flipside, the elimination of toxins can also influence DNA toward a metabolism of efficiency and hormonal balance.

So while it's true that we live in a toxic world, it's important to remember that you wield the power to enhance your body's natural ability to detoxify itself. Stay tuned for my next post where I will be discussing the processes in which the body detoxifies and what you can do to preserve and enhance these processes.

Be well, and Live Your WHOLE Life!

John Aaron Villarreal

Friday, March 21, 2014

Bust Stress by Getting More Physical

Children of the ‘80s have to thank Olivia Newton-John. She taught the whole world how to get physical and let her hear your body talk. Exercise in any form can be a great stress-buster. Exercise can help do wonders for the body. The World Health Organization says that lack of physical activity is the leading cause of chronic diseases. Now, we can also include stress, anxiety and potentially harmful mental conditions to the mix. Virtually all forms of exercise from simple walking, yoga to crossfit training have a value to relieve the body from stress. A little exercise can go a long way towards having a stress-free and happier life.

Why worry about stress?
Stress is a natural thing that happens in our body. It is beneficial until it becomes too much. Stress is in our DNA and we don’t have the ability to turn it off and on. It is the body’s natural reaction to a fight-or-flee response. Continued stress or presence of stress hormones in the body causes health problems. Some chronic diseases are caused by stress such as hypertension, diabetes and even problems with the immune system. Stress causes the body to be inflamed and thus create health problems. This is the reason why lack of exercise can impact the health. Exercise can help prevent stress and thus lower the risks of developing chronic health problems.

How important is exercise?
The benefits of exercise include the improvement of the physical and mental conditions of a person. Recent studies show that exercise can also improve mental condition as it can bust stress and anxiety. A sedentary lifestyle causes obesity, which recently was declared a full-fledged disease by the American Medical Association. Chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, liver problems such as fatty liver disease, renal disease, atherosclerosis and strokes can be attributed to lack of exercise. In fact, the lack of exercise ranks second only to smoking if not tied as the leading source of preventable diseases. A report that was published in the Lancet showed a grim picture about 1.3 million people dying worldwide each year caused by the lack of exercise. The harrowing fact is that despite the health consequences of lack of exercise it is not getting much attention in health circles and is not getting enough funding from government.

How can exercise help the mind?
Exercise enhances mental cognition and even helps in preserving neurons as well as the effective flow of neurotransmitters in the nervous system. Exercise improves one’s focus and counters fatigue by improving alertness and stamina. This is very important since most of the time stress can severely deplete the energy thus lowering a person’s ability to maintain focus and concentration. Current health guidelines say that 150 minutes of moderate exercise is enough. That would roughly translate to half an hour of moderate exercise five times a week. When stress impacts the brain, the nerve connections affect the rest of the body. So, it will not only make the body feel better but it will also have positive effects on a person’s mood. Calmness sets in after a brief 20 minute walk based on brain scans.

Why exercise can do wonders?
A brief five-minute walk can do wonders to the body against stress. When a person does some exercise the body releases endorphins. Endorphins are natural painkillers that can help release other feel-good chemicals in the body like serotonin and dopamine. Feel-good chemicals help melt the stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine.

Why is exercise important to sleep?

Exercise promotes a general well-being as such can also improve sleep. Sleep is an essential factor in controlling anxiety. Anxious people can’t sleep. As such lack of sleep makes anxiety worse. Exercise can help by making the body feel calmer and relaxed. As a result it can induce sleep as well as improve the quality and duration.

There is no such thing as little exercise. Any kind of activity can do wonders for the body. Spending 20 minutes of your time per day will help you to become calmer and live longer. Exercise is the cheapest medicine around. Most of the health problems in the world are traced back to physical inactivity. And, you can’t blame a busy schedule since you can do pocket sessions of exercise that could add up to at least 30 minutes per day.

About the Author:

Ryan Rivera is a lover of healthy lifestyle choices.  He always shares his doable tips and tricks about healthy living to his readers with the hope of helping them live an anxiety-free life.  You can also visit Ryan Rivera’s Calm Clinic Facebook account for more interesting information about health.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Your Midlife Health Check

Here we are – midlife. Somewhere between 40 and 60 years of age. It’s time to take a good hard look at the state of our well-being. Where are you at health-wise? What lifestyle habits got you to this stage in life? Is it time those habits improve?

If you are like most Americans, you’ve managed to gain a little weight – about 2 pounds per year after the age of 30. How did THAT happen? Chances are that you didn’t change what you were eating during those years but you did change your amount of physical activity.

You worked longer hours, had more family responsibilities, higher stress and before you knew it you were carrying some extra “padding” around the middle. I’ve been there. I understand. Then getting fit during middle age can be daunting. Which is why over 50% of American adults are overweight or obese and that number continues to grow.

But just because you’ve reached midlife doesn’t mean you give up and give way to aging. Now more than ever, it’s time to take control of your health and get back on track. How do you get control of the weight gain and resume a healthy midlife? You start by adopting four simple lifestyle changes.

They are:

    Eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables a day (everyday)

    Maintain weight that is neither underweight (BMI under 18.5) nor obese (BMI over 30).

    Get regular exercise – such as walking, 2.5 hours a week or 30 minutes a day.

    Don’t smoke

Although these changes are easy, I am astounded to learn that less than 10% of middle aged adults practice these healthy lifestyles regularly. And, it seems the older we get, the less likely we are to adopt these changes.

Is it any wonder why the quality of life seems to diminish as we get older? This is why positive changes toward getting healthier once we reach middle age are important, no matter how small they are. Done consistently, the simple steps listed above will give way to greater energy, strength and motivation.

Age is not an excuse to stop living. So I challenge you to live your WHOLE life! And if you need help organizing a wellness program that works for you – then to talk to me. We’re in this “mid-life” together! Feel free to shoot me an email or leave a comment below.

Be well, and Always Enjoy Your Life!

John Aaron Villarreal

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Get A Grip.

I remember when I first started working out, the big question people most asked me was, “How much can you bench?” It was like a badge of honor. The more weight you could bench press, the higher up your collective he-man reputation climbed.

But it wasn’t until I attended a seminar at The Cooper Institute in Dallas, Texas that I learned about the importance of “grip.” And, it’s not just for a firm handshake, either.

Grip strength was a big thing in the bygone era of ‘Charles Atlas.’ You don't hear too much about it today. As a result, most of us have focused more on what I call vanity muscles (the kind you like to flex in the mirror) and as a result, we've un-knowingly learned to develop a WEAKER grip.

This “vanity” phenomenon has caused people to think it's normal if your grip isn't strong. That's what wrist-straps are for! Some think it's perfectly fine, and normal, if your grip can't hold yourself up when doing leg raises or chin-ups - It's not.

Your grip is capable of phenomenal feats of strength. There are men who can pinch and hold 100 lbs with ONE HAND.

Your grip is a major part of your overall strength, too! Don’t believe me? Try doing a chin-up without your wrist-straps! You’ll discover you probably can’t do as many without the “assistance.”

So, don't cut yourself short by ignoring your grip. As we age, it is something that will become more and more important to us; for carrying bags, opening bottles & jars, and even... he-man handshakes. ;-)

Be well, and Always Enjoy Your Life!

John Aaron Villarreal

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Eating Smart Starts with a Plan

I know there are times when our schedules get so out of hand that we can barely find time to bathe let alone eat well. In fact, most of the busy clients I work with are just like you. They are very smart and knowledgeable when it comes to what a healthy diet and lifestyle looks like. The real challenge is to make it happen in their hectic and over-committed lives. Right?

So, for the busy folks I work with, I tell them the key to implementing healthy dietary changes is to think it through and make a plan. Planning smart is key to eating smart. If you make healthy choices available to you when you need them, chances are you will make better decisions.

I’ve listed a few tips that I apply to my life to hopefully help you develop you own “smart eating plan” so that you can start eating better and feeling better, too:

Plan for the week ahead – It sounds daunting, I know, but planning out your meals for the upcoming week will keep you on track with your health and wellness goals. Take an hour or two on the weekend to plan, and if possible, do all your grocery shopping in one trip (which will save you time too!). Get ready-chopped and pre-packaged veggies to use in your recipes or to have on hand snacks. Try one of the many salad assortments available for a quick and light dinner

Cook once eat twice (or more!) – This is one of my favorite tips to live by. When it comes to healthy eating, nothing beats home-cooked meals made from scratch. Having to scramble to make a meal every day is tough, and “Cook Once Eat Twice” can help you save time and headache. I will broil several chicken breasts to use for the next few days in salads, in soups or as a main dish with some veggie sides. I also cook a big batch of grains (brown rice, quinoa, etc.) and use them in different combinations.

Stock your fridge, pantry (and desk drawer at work) with healthy snacks – make sure you have some healthy snack alternatives handy so you don’t go for the vending machine which is usually stocked with less desirable options. I’m lucky to have a fridge at work, where I usually store fresh fruit, or hummus with veggies. If you are always on the go, a handful of nuts with dried fruit or an apple with nut butter (available in single-use packets) can be great pick-me-ups, too.

Just keep in mind that fresh whole food is always better than processed foods – there are many “bars” on the market with “health claims” – however, most of them contain high doses of sugar, additives or processed “food-like” products that are less than desirable. If you have to turn to packaged foods, always read the labels to make smart choices.

Instead of getting caught with nothing for dinner, stock a few healthy frozen options so you don’t dial the greasy pizza place. Make a point to pair frozen meals and fresh veggies (remember the pre-chopped purchases from the grocery store in my first tip?).

Alright, so this might not be a “perfect” fit for your schedule, but it is a huge step up from eating on impulse and making dinner decisions based on your well-worn-out brain tired from a hard days work. Having a plan is one step that sets you up for success. I challenge you to try the tips I’ve outlined. They really DO work! But don’t stop there! Experiment with creating your own healthy “short-cuts” to eating well. You might be surprised to see how resourceful you can actually be when you take responsibility for your own health.

Are there any tips I’ve missed that you have found to work for you? Leave a comment and let me know. I’m always up for learning new strategies for healthy living.

As always - Enjoy Your Life!

John Aaron Villarreal