Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Don't Binge

You've had a rough day and the only thing that could possibly help you feel better is a tub of ice cream. Or so you think. In actuality, there’s a little voice inside your head that says, “Hey you! Gorging yourself on double-dutch chocolate chip ice cream isn't going to do you any good right now or in the future.” I know… I’ve been guilty of strangling that little voice to silence, too.

We all know that while in the comfort of your own home, it's easy to eat whatever you want whenever you want. And, being human, giving into these urges on occasion can be psychologically beneficial. However, it is extremely important to learn to identify what causes you to eat unhealthy foods or unhealthy amounts of food.

That would be the first step in the process of modifying your behavior when you are confronted with your “comfort food” trigger. If coming home from work is usually followed by an hour on the couch, with a large bag of Dorito’s chips in hand, then perhaps it’s time to re-consider your post-work routine.

Change is good. So when you first get home, refuse to hit the couch. Instead, get out of your work clothes, and take a long relaxing shower or bath. Take the time to relax your mind, plan your dinner and let go of the day’s troubles.

Another alternative would be to get to the gym or go for a walk around the neighborhood. In any case, the emphasis should be placed on changing the reaction you have to the stress life throws at you. Changing your mindset takes time and dedication, but putting “taking care of yourself” first on your to-do list is vital to your long-term health and happiness.

Go – Live Life Well,

John Aaron Villarreal

CLICK HERE: facebook / twitter

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.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Anything with D

This weekend was great! We had a 3 day stay on the beach and really enjoyed the lightly warm temperatures and cool gulf breeze. Now, I am a fair complexioned individual and as such, I carefully monitor my time outdoors and always wear my sun screen.

Despite cancer risks, there is no need to fear going out into the daylight. In fact, there are some benefits to it. For example, you may think the sun's rays don't do much besides darken your skin, but keep in mind that much of our allotment of vitamin D comes through sun exposure. When this source of vitamin D is taken away, or limited as in my case, it is important to make it up through proper nutrition.

Lucky for me, this time away from work also afforded me the opportunity to indulge in another favorite activity of mine: cooking.

The warm-weather season brings us a wide and varied selection of great fruits and vegetables, all of which provide an excellent supply of anti-oxidants and phyto-nutrients that help to combat the damaging effects of free radicals caused by too much sun exposure. Add to this, good alternative sources of vitamin D like; salmon, dairy products, & eggs, and you’ve got a great way to enjoy a weekend at the beach.

Why is vitamin D so important? Aside from helping build strong bones and teeth, studies have linked the consumption of vitamin D to a decreased likelihood of depression (which often sets in during the winter), increased energy, improved immunity against common diseases, and a reduced risk for experiencing feelings of weakness.

So, now that the warmer weather is here, enjoy it! You don’t have to live your life like a hermit. Simply look for ways to incorporate vitamin D rich foods into your diet; limit your sun exposure and be sure to wear your sun screen.

Go – Live Life Well,

John Aaron Villarreal

CLICK HERE: facebook / twitter

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.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Eating for Energy

"And what is a man without energy? Nothing - nothing at all." - Mark Twain

Coffee is my number one “gotta have” in the morning. And, while I’ve been known to make a quick Starbucks run in the afternoon, I don’t necessarily rely on caffeine for my energy boost. Instead, I can get all the energy I need three times a day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Carbohydrates: You may remember the world-famous Atkins diet has caused countless people to stop eating breads and pastas in order to lose a few quick pounds. Unfortunately, carbohydrates are essential when it comes to boosting your body's energy levels. Don't eat enough and you won't be able to push your body to its limits in the gym.

Instead of starving your body of fuel, eat smart carbohydrates, such as whole-wheat bread, cereal, and brown rice.

Magnesium: If you're looking for energy, you should consider it. Magnesium has unique properties that turn sugar into something useful: energy. In other words, you can get away with a little sugar as long as you get enough magnesium. Since going without any sugar every day is nearly impossible, magnesium is your lifeline to healthy energy levels.

This good news is that many foods have plenty of magnesium. Consider bran cereals, nuts like almonds, cashews, and hazelnuts, and halibut.

Fiber: This nutrient helps regulate intestinal issues and prevents dangerous and deadly diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. However, unlike other energy foods, fiber doesn't provide you with an instant burst of energy. Instead, it helps regulate how quickly your body absorbs the energy it has in storage. By eating plenty of fiber, you not only help yourself feel full, but you can maintain a steady flow of energy throughout your daily routine.

Water: If you need to stay focused, you need to stay filled up on H20. According to research, even the slightest hint of dehydration can have you feeling fatigued. Drinking water (or other unsweetened drinks) regularly, you take a huge step toward ensuring your energy levels are at their peak.

And, while the fluid from an occasional afternoon coffee is alright, never forget that you can enhance your fluid intake by eating fresh fruits and vegetables every day. Not only do they offer an instant rush of hydrating fluids, but they also taste wonderful and come with an array of additional health benefits.

Go – Live Life Well,

John Aaron Villarreal
Click Here: facebook / twitter

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.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Best Time for Exercise

I love the morning. It’s my favorite time of the day. So, naturally, it’s also my favorite time to exercise. Likewise, when clients ask me what is the “best” time for them to exercise, I recommend “first thing in the morning.”

Actually, exercising during any time of the day is proven to help you obtain and maintain a healthy weight. But, recent research seems to back-up my theory that exercising in the morning gives you an “edge” to your pursuits, a little more “bang” for your effort.

Anyway, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “You’re full of it, John. You’re just trying to trick me into leaving the warm comfort of my bed for the cold steel of a weight room!”

While that may not be far from the truth, hear me out because I think an early morning workout can improve your life in several ways all at once.

First, you’ll notice that working out during the first few hours of the day helps you sleep better at night. Typically, working out in the evening can increase adrenaline, and put your hormones on active duty which can actually make it more difficult to sleep at night. If you’ve been reading my blog, then you know that insomnia is a danger to your health and weight-loss efforts. So, why deny yourself the chance at getting better rest?

Secondly, working out in the morning can help jump-starting your metabolism and keep it revved up throughout your day. Besides that, exercising early puts you in a healthy mindset from the moment you leave the gym, helping you make better decisions later in the day.

Think you may not have the strength to stick with an early morning exercise regimen?

Remember that in addition to better sleep, early exercising gives you increased energy and gets the blood pumping throughout your body. This helps you improve your life and fire on all cylinders all because you woke up a few minutes early for some running, weight lifting, bike riding, swimming, or calisthenics!

Who knows? When you walk into work with all that energy and zest for life, your boss may even give you a raise! : )

Go – Live Life Well,

John Aaron Villarreal

Facebook / twitter

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.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Marriage - Unbroken

Last Friday my aunt and uncle celebrated their 39th wedding anniversary. My own parents are on their 47th year, and this month, Alex and I will also celebrate an anniversary - our 17th year together. On occasion, it feels much longer but for the most part, it is as though time shot by us and here we are seventeen years later.

So in an age of quick divorces and short lived relationships, I guess you could call us odd couples.

In fact, I’m sometimes asked, “Between raising a child, holding down a demanding job, volunteer work, and taking on the minutia of everyday living, where do you fit in time to grow closer to your spouse?”

My secret is this - there is no time to be “perfect” in your relationship. Living is messy! And while I’m not saying there aren’t plenty of rosy, “peaches and cream” moments, a relationship - a marriage - requires work.

One thing I’ve learned is that a relationship is never static. It is always a work in progress. It seems that many couples I’ve met that are in rocky relationships feel that their lives are too busy and complicated for a healthy, happy marriage. I’m here to say that is just not true - there is always time to stay in love with your spouse.

I’ve learned that the simple act of saying "thank you" can go a long way in making your spouse feel special. Even when you don't think it matters, expressing your appreciation for everyday chores like making dinner, putting the children to bed, taking out the trash or even a single, warm hug at the end of a long day can make a world of difference to your spouse – and to you.

So my key to staying in love and building a long-time relationship can be summed up in one word – “appreciation.”

Did you think the word would be “love?”

Well, love is a given…, but appreciation for the person you’ve chosen to share your life with is most important. It requires that you “demonstrate” your love. It requires that you practice loving acts that encourage and strengthen your spouse, and quell the fears and insecurities he or she faces daily. In doing so, you strengthen yourself thus making even a few minutes spent together filled with the kind of quality caring that builds a lifetime of memories and unbreakable ties.

Everyone likes to feel appreciated, even you... So, why would a spouse be any different?

Until next time – Live Life Well,

John Aaron Villarreal

Click Here: facebook / twitter

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Making a Salad a “Real-Deal” Meal

You know? I can’t remember eating any salads as a kid (unless you count potato salad)! No, I was raised by serious carnivores. But now, rather than relegate this green dish to appetizer or side dish status, I’ve become rather fond of making a salad the main attraction to an extraordinary meal. Not only does it provide a variety of different vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients, a salad is quick, & easy.
To prove this point, I’ve listed a few tips that I use to make my dinner a bit “greener.”

Meat, Please: Traditional salads are rather meatless creations, but a little protein goes a long way toward packing more punch to your meal. From shrimp to chicken, steak to tofu, you can use any protein you like. Just remember not to overload your salad with meat. After all, it's a salad first and foremost, so greens and veggies should be the mainstay.

If you’re not a meat eater, simply toss in some of your favorite meat substitute. The protein will help you feel full and contribute to your muscular health.

Color it Up: In my book, lettuce alone does not a salad make. To give my salad more oomph, I add some extra color at every chance. Adding tomatoes, onions, corn, peppers, radishes, and carrots can seem typical. So sometimes I’ll add hard-boiled egg, goat cheese, and almonds into the color mix.

And don't forget about blueberries, grapes, avocados, strawberries, oranges, and apples! Not only do these veggie/fruit combinations increase the aesthetic beauty of my big, bad salad, but they add to the flavor and variety of nutrients, too.

Dress Well: Now sometimes I give in to the temptation to let a store-bought salad dressing finish off my creation, but when I want to make sure the effort I put into my salad pays off fully - I do a little research.

There are a variety of fantastic recipes on the internet that are easy to whip together and that add to the unique variety of foods in my salad.

While I’ll admit that the concept of “dinner salad” eluded me for quite a while, that is certainly not the case anymore. In fact, when I am a little short on time, I’ll admit to having Jason’s Deli create dinner for me (my favorite is the “mixed up nutty chicken salad”). It’s healthy, gorgeous, delicious and best of all – ready to eat. : )

Until next time – Live Life Well,

John Aaron Villarreal
facebook / twitter

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.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sleep Deprivation & Weight Loss

My friends over at ProGrade posted this article which I think is quite good because whether you are a college student, night shift worker or you are a parent with small children you may struggle to get regular sleep yet you want quick weight loss. The sleep recommendation provided by the National Sleep Foundation recommends 8 hours per night. According to the CDC and a National Health Interview Survey shows that 30% of Americans who are 30-64 years of age sleep less than 6 hours per night.

There is a prevalence of chronic sleep loss in America and it is troubling because for those looking to lose weight or who are following a healthy weight loss diet plan their attempts may be wasted. Research is showing that long term sleep loss is related to an increase in obesity and diabetes.

This research is even showing that partial sleep deprivation can manipulate key hormones that impact weight loss and weight gain. Lack of sleep can also affect insulin sensitivity, your appetite control and the amount of energy you expend when at rest. When these key hormones are affected it can predispose you to weight gain and obesity by causing insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance is a common symptom that leads to Type 2 diabetes and increased weight gain. When insulin resistance happens your body must produce extra insulin to get rid of the glucose out of your bloodstream. The reason your body has to produce extra insulin is because it doesn’t efficiently signal, which means the blood glucose is not cleared. If this resistance is to continue your pancreas becomes damaged and cannot continue to produce enough insulin. The end result is you will need to start taking insulin medications and your weight loss will stop.

Sleep loss may also increase your appetite and entice cravings for high carbohydrates food along with creating insulin resistance.1 Lack of sleep not only affects your insulin sensitivity but also affect cortisol levels and numerous other hormones that directly affect feeding. The result is you will battle an increase in appetite when your blood sugars are not in control.2

Cortisol is a stress hormone that directly influences blood sugar levels and is associated with an increase in obesity and specifically belly fat. Your healthy weight loss comes to a stop when cortisol levels are elevated. Some research has shown that 1 sleepless night may increase your cortisol levels. A study of 33 men were examined for 36 hours and some slept 8 hours, 4 hours of sleep and also total sleep deprivation. Those who slept 4 hours had a cortisol elevation of 37% above baseline and those who had total sleep deprivation had an elevation of 45% in cortisol levels.3

Cortisol levels that are too high is detrimental because it breaks down muscle protein, which then contributes to elevated blood glucose levels. This can lower your metabolism because of the muscle loss.

Getting away from the science a little a common potential side effect of not sleeping enough is it creates the opportunity to eat more times throughout the day. If you spend more time awake you are more likely to eat an extra meal or two. Now add to what I talked about above and the fact that your appetite may be elevated because of the hormones being out of whack and you could easily eat too many calories. You also may be tired and not feel like choosing healthier foods, but instead choose the processed convenience type foods that are or poor nutritional quality and higher in calories. Studies have shown that people actually eat more on average when they get less sleep.4

If you suffer from this type of eating pattern make sure you have some Prograde protein powder on hand so that you can quickly make a healthy shake instead of choosing a high calorie unhealthy food. Don't let your healthy weight loss be ruined by making unhealthy food choices.

If you know you lack sleep then start taking steps to improve your sleeping habits such as stick to a regular bedtime, avoid alcohol before bed, try to keep your bedroom at 70 degrees or below, turn off the television when lying in bed.

If none of these work or you feel your lack of sleep is more complicated than this I advise you consult with a sleep doctor and have them test your sleep pattern to see if there is a bigger reason for your lack of sleep.
Until next time - Live Life Well,
John Aaron Villarreal
facebook / twitter

Cited References:
1. Spiegel K, Tasali E, Penev P, Van Cauter E. Brief communication: sleep curtailment in healthy young men is associated with decreased leptin levels, elevated ghrelin levels, and increased hunger and appetite. Ann Intern Med. 2004; 141:1-52.
2. Spiegel K, Leproult R, L’Hermite-Baleriaux M, Copinschi G, Penev PD, Van Cauter E. Leptin levels are dependent on sleep duration: relationships with sympathovagal balance, carbohydrate regulation, cortisol, and thyrotropin. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2004; 89:5762-5771.
3. Leproult R, Copinschi G, Buxton O, Van Cauter E. Sleep loss results in an elevation of cortisol levels the next evening. Sleep. 1997; 20:865-870.
4. Spiegel K, Knutson K, Leproult R, Tasali E, Van Cauter E. Sleep loss: a novel risk factor for insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. J Appl Phys. 2005; 99: 2008-2019.