Thursday, March 31, 2011

Grief in Progress

In my closet I have a cardboard treasure box of notes and momentos from significant people and moments in my life. Sad to say, they are mostly from people I have lost to death. These people have had a positive impact on me and this is how I honor and remember them. This week, I had to add an obituary of a dear friend of mine to that treasure box.
I know that death and loss are natural parts of life, but knowing this does not make the loss, or the grief, any less painful. In fact, I was surprised by just how much the news of Michael’s death affected me. After all, I hadn’t seen him in several years. But regardless, the friendship he gave me made me a better man. For that, I am grateful and cannot help but miss him.
Regardless of whether a death is anticipated or a complete surprise, shock often hits you when a loved one passes. Then, immediately following your loss, accepting the fact that your loved one has indeed passed away is a hard pill to swallow. After someone you love dies, you can be confused by your feelings, maybe even feel frustrated or embarrassed by your response to death.
I say this not to be morbid or morose. I am simply reflecting on my experiences. When I lost my first spouse (Craig) to AIDS, I was angry that anyone could have called this disease a “punishment.” Especially when most never knew the kind, gentle man that he was. He was only 32.
When I lost a former fiancĂ© to cancer, I was confused at how someone as loving and giving as Azalea could be called away by God when the world so clearly needed more people like her. She was the only person I personally knew that came close to saintly in her love for people. Still – she also died young and we were left with one less light in the world.
Of course guilt came each time. They say it’s one of the stages of overcoming grief. I felt guilty that I could not have spent more time with these wonderful people. Perhaps I didn’t tell them I loved them as often as I should have or that they inspired me beyond measure. I certainly feel that way about Mike, now.
Yes, death and loss is a very sad business, and you can feel it very deeply.
The reality is that eventually, we will all personally succumb to it. But not for now. The good news is that I (we) have today to honor the life that we live and honor those that have helped us create the person we now are.
I will miss Mike. I miss all of my friends and loved ones that have gone before me. And in their honor, I will continue to treasure their memory and make good use of the contributions they have made to my life.
If you have lost a loved one, I hope you can relate to the words I’ve written. I leave you with this quote; “Man, when he does not grieve, hardly exists.” - Antonio Porchia
Go – Live Life Well (and to the fullest),
John Aaron Villarreal
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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Your Body and the Booze

So I had a wild side. Didn’t you? All those young, care-free, college days when living it up with your best friends meant getting plastered at the local bar or night club. Back then, having an all night party, waking up with a hangover and still making class and work the next day was easy.

Now, well past my college years, I have learned that those habits are harder to recoup from. Hangover aside, there is the fact that in a few hours of “social drinking” it is possible to consume a whole days worth of empty calories. It’s those excessive calories that add to my waist and subtract from my health.

So, to better understand what drinks are best left in the bartender's hand, I’ve created the following list:


A light weight when it comes to calories vs. liquid volume, beer can add about 150 calories to your day per 12-ounce can. And while 150 calories doesn't seem like much, they are detrimental when it comes to maintaining your waist. It’s called a “beer belly!” Instead, try light beer. You'll shave off 40 or so calories per serving.


While it may seem light and tingly, champagne can be a bit heavy on the hips. With a whopping 84 calories in only four ounce, champagne is best saved for special occasions because it sure doesn't help you maintain your impressive physique either.


Red, white, and sweet wine are viewed as lesser evils when it comes to alcohol-based calories. Although about the same amount of calories as champagne, wines contain nutrients and antioxidants. So, while more common varieties of wine are relatively tame when it comes to pushing your calorie count, the benefit comes when you consider the various health perks that are associated with drinking a little wine each day.


Which ever cocktail you pick, you'll usually be drinking more calories than you would with three beers. Loaded with refined sugars, daiquiris, cooler-cocktails, and margaritas average 500 calories per serving. Pick up a martini and you're looking at a 280 calorie average. Go with a Manhattan and get 328 calories.

Now I don’t want to be party pooper, the calorie count of a single drink isn't the most important thing to consider. Drinking too much is. Add to the obvious problems that arise with intoxication, alcoholic beverages have the tendency to make you hungry. So after filling up on booze calories, you're ready for some greasy, fried calories, too!

So when you’re out and about having a great time, remember that returning to the bar time and again means hundreds of extra calories hitting you right where it hurts - whether that's your hips, your stomach, your under arms, or your thighs. So, keep the drinking under control. Your good judgment and good health are counting on it.

Until next time - Live Life Well,

John Aaron Villarreal

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cholesterol Lowering Secrets

Almost every day I speak with a new prospective client regarding their recent blood-work and their concerns over their high cholesterol scores.

While a certain level of cholesterol is necessary to keep your body functioning properly, too much can be dangerous, in fact, excessive cholesterol can be deadly.

So what do I tell these individuals about fending off high cholesterol? I say, you’ve come to the right place. Put on your exercise outfit and let’s get to it! : )

Through the exercise process, your body does two amazing things. It reduces the amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in your body and increases the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in your body.

Why does this matter? Well, getting rid of LDL is a good thing because in the eyes of your physician, LDL is bad cholesterol. It is most responsible for the artery-clogging affects cholesterol is known for. HDL, on the other hand, is actually beneficial to your body. Researchers believe that this kind of cholesterol pushes excess cholesterol out of the arteries, into the liver, and out of the body. As a result, the likelihood of heart attack greatly diminishes.

Although exercise increases your HDL while lowering your LDL, it takes a good bit of exercise to really have an impact. So don’t think you can stop by the gym when the mood hits you or when your schedule allows. You're going to have to commit.

You're going to need to spend some time in the gym, maybe four or five days a week. I know this sounds extreme, but it’s no-where near as extreme as a heart attack. Am I right?

Remember that any kind of exercise is good. So spend time stretching out, getting plenty of aerobic exercise, and don't forget strength training. By doing this most days of the week, your body will begin to get rid of unwanted cholesterol and create more of the good, heart-friendly cholesterol.

Unfortunately, while exercise has a positive impact on your cholesterol levels, exercise alone will never be enough. For maximum cholesterol-killing ability, you must change how you eat.

I know what you’re thinking. You think I want you to toss out all of your favorite foods, right? Well, there's an even better solution: Up your consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. And, start making your own food instead of buying prepackaged goods that are more likely to be loaded with cholesterol. You'll not only help your cholesterol levels, but you'll be better able to maintain your weight and will enjoy a boost in energy, too.

Lastly, to help you understand what healthy or high cholesterol levels are, use the chart below.

Ideal Cholesterol Levels
Total Cholesterol: 200 mg/dL or lower
HDL Cholesterol: 60 mg/dL or higher LDL Cholesterol: 100 mg/dL or lower
Dangerous Cholesterol Levels

Total Cholesterol: 240 mg/dL or higher
HDL Cholesterol: 40 mg/dL or lower (50 mg/dL or lower for women)
LDL Cholesterol: 160 mg/dL or higher

Until next time - Live Life Well,

John Aaron Villarreal

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The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease.
Please consult your physician prior to starting any exercise or diet program.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How to Lose Lots of Weight Safely

If you’ve got a ton of weight to lose and you're ready to transform your body into the sleek shape you've been dreaming about, start reading and prepare to change your life.

I believe that losing lots of weight should never be done alone. Involving professionals like your physician can help to determine your best weight-loss strategies. Some of my clients have been overweight for most of their lives, and despite the good - the weight-loss process can be shocking to your body. So, let your doctor help you make sense of any unexpected reaction your body may have to thinning down.

Being overweight can come from any number of reasons but the most common one is overeating. To battle this obstacle, you need to start reducing your daily caloric intake by 250 to 500 calories. If the thought of tracking calories is overwhelming, try something a little easier, like skipping dessert after meals. It may not add up to 250 calories, but it's a start. And every bite you don't take counts.

While you may have grown accustomed to eating thousands of calories every day, your body doesn't need that extra food to function. Actually, those extra calories do nothing but slow your body down and put you in danger of bad health. Begin paying attention to your body's signals and stop eating when your stomach feels full.

In addition to cutting back on the amount of calories you eat, you'll have to beef up your exercise regimen to shed pounds quickly. For the most rapid weight loss, get a personal trainer and spend a minimum of an hour every day working out intensely.

Above all, remember that when you're desperate about losing lots of weight a crash diet may be appealing, but beware. Crash diets usually end badly with you getting fatter. Diets that sound too good to be true usually are. Instead, work with your physician, dietitian or personal trainer to determine the best way to estimate your ideal daily caloric intake.

Until next time – Live Life Well,

John Aaron Villarreal

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The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease.
Please consult your physician prior to starting any exercise or diet program.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Easy Steps to Improve Your Body

Believe it or not, most tried-and-true methods to get better results from your body actually work. Which ones are best? Well, the ones that best suit you. Experiment with these different techniques and see what takes your body to the next level of fitness and provide you with a better, stronger self.
Strengthen Your Core:
More than just a weak belly, when your core is weak, the rest of your body is at a distinct disadvantage. Muscle-up your core with sit-ups, double crunches, crunches while resting on an exercise ball, and other core-strengthening and core-stabilizing exercises. The end result will be more than a good-looking set of abdominal muscles. It will be a set of good-looking abdominal muscles that supports your body properly.
Get Vitamin D:
Yes vitamin D is important for strong bones, and strong bones are important if you want a strong body. But, vitamin D is also important for another reason. Recent research suggests that vitamin D may play a role in muscle performance. Runners who underwent rigorous training reduced their sprint times by 7.4 percent with the aid of vitamin D, while their counterparts who did not receive vitamin D only increased their times by 1.7 percent.
Kick Back: When you want your body to be stronger and more efficient, it seems that taking some time off to relax would be counterproductive. Instead, it is quite the opposite. In addition to sleep, you should practice relaxation techniques, too. Take time to breathe. Deep, focused breathing is a great way to reinvigorate your muscles with oxygen-rich blood, and it's easy to do.

Drink It Down:
Water is one of your body's main building blocks. Are you getting enough of it? If not, you're putting your body at a disadvantage. Water will give your body what it needs to stay strong and healthy, keep you from growing weak and faint, and will help you feel fuller faster; all benefits that help your body operate at its peak all the time.

Have any tips YOU want to share? Feel free to leave a comment. : )

Until next time – Live Life Well!

John Aaron Villarreal

The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease.
Please consult your physician prior to starting any exercise or diet program.