Friday, August 24, 2012

Natural Human Grown Hormone and Aging

I often wondered about the ads I’ve seen in magazines and billboards advertising the youthful benefits of Human Growth Hormone (HGH). I know that this particular hormone is produced by the pituitary gland to fuel childhood growth and help maintain tissues and organs throughout life. So, why is it so important that companies have unleashed a barrage of ads? Two words: Baby Boomers.

It seems that, around the age of forty, the pituitary gland begins a process of early retirement by slowly reducing the amount of growth hormone it produces. Although this is a perfectly natural transition, the volume of Baby Boomers that have reached this stage is a market to big for supplement and pharmaceutical companies to ignore. And this, has prompted an "on mass" interest in the use of synthetic human growth hormone (HGH) to stave off the realities of old age.

But before you rush out to the 'flavor of the day' clinic or demand synthetic HGH from your personal physician, consider that this is the same stuff they give cattle to make them “beefier.” In fact, while synthetic HGH is proven to increase muscle mass in humans, it does not translate into increased strength.  And, because these tests have been conducted over a relatively short time, there is an ambiguity over whether or not there are detrimental side effects to extended use or if the benefits decrease over time.

Yet, don't give up hope. Your little pituitary gland is very much capable of doing more if you just encourage it to do so. How, you might ask? Well, the pituitary gland can continue its’ natural release of HGH through certain kinds of exercise. High intensity interval training (cardio) and intense weight lifting (especially routines that work several major muscle groups at once) to muscle exhaustion trigger increased release of this youth-giving hormone, just to name a few.

What's best is that this extra release is nowhere enough to produce the negative side effects that can be experienced by the use of the synthetic hormone, but is certainly enough to provide you with denser bones, better sleep, enhanced immune function, healthier skin, more lean muscle tissue, and more efficient fat-burning.

This is not to say that some Boomers may have legitimate need of synthetic HGH, but I prefer to allow the body to regulate this task first. If you have specific concerns about aging, be sure to ask your doctor about proven ways to improve your health. But always remember that making healthy lifestyle decisions — such as eating a healthy diet and including physical activity in your daily routine — can help you look and feel your best at any age.

As always – Enjoy Your Life,

John Aaron Villarreal



The Legal Stuff: I write to inform, inspire and encourage my readers to enjoy all that life has to offer.
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, diet or wellness program.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

How Light Bulbs Make Us Fat…

It’s true. It’s Edison’s fault. While technology has advanced our species it has also impacted eons of evolutionary progress. Few people understand the connection or how the process of invention can have a negative effect on our health, but I can’t help but sense their related connection.

For example, “circadian rhythm” is a term used to describe the internal clock regulating the activities all living creatures perform throughout a 24-hour day. While this internal clock may differ, some animals are nocturnal while others are active during the daylight hours, the circadian rhythm reigns supreme over everything within the body like temperature, appetite and energy level. It’s the reason why some people can regularly wake up at a specific time without the use of an alarm clock.

Before Edison’s miraculous invention came about, our human circadian rhythms were closely matched with the 24 hour cycle found in nature. We got up with the Sun and slept when it went down. By nature, and extensive evolutionary history, we developed a close relationship with 24 hour days.

When the Miracle at Menlo Park introduced the world to a light source that was able to make a room almost as bright as the day, we no longer had to squint under the dim light of torches, gas lamps or candles. We were now able to see greater distances and perform tasks that had been previously reserved for the brighter light of day.

Here is the problem: our bodies depend on light levels to determine when to release some of the many hormones that drive our behavior and our health. This ability is solely dictated by our circadian rhythms which developed with the sunlight cycles.

Let me fast forward to a 21st century example. We’ve all experienced late nights; times you stayed up to watch a movie, TV or surf the Internet. These seemingly harmless pursuits expose us to light sources during times the body thinks it should be sleeping, thereby disrupting our natural circadian rhythm.

Over time, this disruption can limit your immune system’s efficiency and interfere with the regulation of your body temperature which closely relates to your metabolism, too. Although there is no harm in the occasional late night, if made a habit, late night activities can derail the body’s ability to recover from daily stress. Stress releases Cortisol and Cortisol can make the body store fat. Hence: light bulb = fat.

Ok. Maybe I jumped the gun on my logic there, but the truth really isn't that far off. The negative impact on our circadian rhythms by modern technology is being researched by numerous organizations, with a general consensus that has not been positive.

So, while I would like to blame my extra pounds squarely on Edison and his invention; the light bulb, I must be fair. It really isn't his fault. I know that. It is up to me to develop a responsible way in which to continue to benefit from modern advances while maintaining balance with nature. After all, the Sun is not going away anytime soon. And, neither is my circadian rhythm.

As always – Enjoy Your Life,

John Aaron Villarreal
johnaaron-massage.com

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The Legal Stuff: I write to inform, inspire and encourage my readers to enjoy all that life has to offer.
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, diet or wellness program.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Science Proves: Stress Ages You

As if you didn’t already know, right? Well, now it seems that science has discovered a cellular link to the process of aging. They have discovered that the tips of chromosomes have a cap-like structure that resembles the plastic caps of shoelaces. Called Telomeres, these structures respond to stress, and if you are chronically stressed, they can cut your life span short.

Here’s why; in young cells, these telomeres appear to be very long. In the cells of old people, however, they are nothing more than mere nubs. It seems telomeres do play a part in the aging process because further research indicates that every time cells divide, the duplicate cells have shorter telomeres. This process is repeated until the telomeres become less than nubs, and cell division stops.

What’s worse is that chronic stress can speed up this process by shriveling the tips of the telomere bundles of genes inside cells, thereby shortening their life span and accelerating bodily deterioration. There is hope, though. It comes through the research on an enzyme called telomerase. It appears that telomerase can replenishes and protects parts of the telomere each time the cell divides. Unfortunately, the replenishment only seems to slow down the process of telomere shortening; not stop it.

“The highest chronically stressed people in the study group had significantly less telomerase activity, higher oxidative stress and shorter telomeres than the less chronically stressed group,” states Dr. Kathleen Hall, founder of the Stress Institute near Clarkesville, GA. “The key agent that is damaging in chronic stress is the stress hormone Cortisol. Cortisol is the driving chemical in our bodies that orchestrates the circadian rhythm of our body and regulates the flow of all our systems. When we produce more Cortisol from chronic stress, over time it literally exhausts our body systems.”

Now, before you start “stressing” over this discovery and decide to give up and can dash all hope of ever living a long life, remember this; your DNA is flexible and has plasticity. So, if you are able to control your levels of stress, you can successfully increase your telomerase enzyme production level and diminish the impact Cortisol can have on your telomeres. Lifestyle and behavior immediately affects the aging process of your body.

Although you can wage war on aging by getting plastic surgery, buying face creams, body moisturizers, etc., if you are not shoring up these efforts by combining them with good nutrition, hydration, regular exercise and controlling your stress levels, you may never succeed in decelerating your aging process.

So take heed. Stress can kill in many ways, because it affects the entire body on a cellular level. Make time to de-stress; use meditation, massage, biofeedback, or just take time to breathe. Doing so will not only help you live longer, but look better, too.

As always – Enjoy Your Life,

John Aaron Villarreal



The Legal Stuff: I write to inform, inspire and encourage my readers to enjoy all that life has to offer.
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, diet or wellness program.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Lowering Blood Pressure with Fish

Along with obesity, it seems that high blood pressure is epidemic. What’s amazing to me is that you don’t have to be overweight to have HBP. For that reason, many people assume they are safe from this disease and unknowingly increase their risk of stroke and death. For the most part, HBP doesn’t really carry any significant symptoms, which is why it has earned its moniker, “The silent killer.”

So, what to do? Well, check your blood pressure regularly, especially if you are over the age of forty. Then, set an appointment to see doctor if you see a trend where your BP numbers are higher than 120/80. Your physician can help sort through the many medications that can help in maintaining your blood pressure. However, my preferred treatment is prevention thorough exercise and diet.

It doesn’t have to be complicated either. A daily walk and some minor adjustments like adding cleaner foods to your diet may be all you need. Take cold-water fish for example. Cold water fish are rich in omega-3 fats that help reduce vascular inflammation. Research proves omega-3 fatty acids lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Aside from the health benefits, there are many quick, tasty dishes you can prepare and a variety of omega-3 rich fish that you can choose from. Some of the best sources are salmon, tuna, mackerel, cod, trout, halibut, herring, and sardines.

Here’s how it works 
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that the body can't produce on its own. They need to be consumed. Once in your system, omega-3s act as a natural blood thinner, which makes it easier for your heart to pump blood throughout your body. As a result, you blood is less viscous (thick) which may help reduce the chances of forming clots in your veins and arteries.

Here’s how much you need
FDA and the EPA guidelines recommend two six-ounce servings of cold-water fish per week. But, if you bruise easily, have a bleeding disorder, or are already taking blood-thinning medications, be sure to talk with your doctor about any potential complications that may arize from this dietary change.

High blood pressure isn’t a death sentence. It’s a warning. You can effectively improve your numbers and reduce the risk of disease. Take heed to what your body is telling you and make little changes, like the one mentioned above, and you’ll be on your way to a healthier, happier heart.

As always – Enjoy Your Life,

John Aaron Villarreal


The Legal Stuff: I write to inform, inspire and encourage my readers to enjoy all that life have to offer.
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, diet or wellness program.

Monday, August 20, 2012

How to Start

Starting a new exercise routine can be tough. I know. I’ve been there, too. The biggest obstacle I faced was fear. I was never athletic as a kid. Always told I was too skinny or weak, I found myself believing that. Maybe you have a similar story. What I can tell you is this: you are more than you think (in every way). I got over those fears with a friends encouragement and a plan.

First, and this is important, if you haven’t already been told to exercise by your physician, it would be wise to make an appointment to get approval before you begin. You never know what you may have done to yourself in the years of neglecting your body…

When I first began exercising, I wasn’t aware of pacing myself. I was so out of shape that I literally got nauseous after only a few minutes of exercise. So it is from experience that I encourage you to begin your exercise program slowly and with thought.

There is truth to the cliché “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” My body had years to learn it’s sedentary ways and no matter how many weights I threw at it, there was no way I was walking out of the gym looking like one of those Spartan guys; At least not after only one day of training. Lesson learned the hard way.

Save yourself some embarrassment and begin your workout by walking at a moderate pace for 5-10 minutes or so. Then, work your way up to 20-30 minutes. After that, stretch and leave. That’s it; At least for the first week.

What’s important is that you be consistent. You are creating a habit here. Somewhere along the journey of building my routine I realized I am not in a race. Exercise is a part of my life and my primary job is to make sure it stays that way.  If you can get your mind to accept that philosophy, things will be easier for you, too.

I tried several things after I became consistent with my walking routine. I tried the Elliptical machine and found that I preferred it to the treadmill. I tried yoga and tai chi, and while I still incorporate some of their moves, I settled on weight training and calisthenics (body weight exercises) as my primary source for building muscle, burning fat and giving shape to my body.

The point is that I tried different approaches. You should, too. Different activities appeal to each of us. If you are an outdoor person, you may prefer the trail to the swimming pool, but if you’ve always liked to dance, you may want to sign up for Pilates, a dance class or even yoga, because you will probably enjoy moving through the postures.

What I’m trying to say is don’t worry about what you “can’t” do. If I had done that, I would have never begun my fitness routine. Instead focus on what you would “like” to do. Once I got that concept down, I learned that my body is capable of much more than what I asked of it. Soon, you will realize that for yourself. All you need to do it start.

As always – Enjoy Your Life,

John Aaron Villarreal


The Legal Stuff: I write to inform, inspire and encourage my readers to enjoy all that their life have to offer.
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, diet or wellness program.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

“Not at all: They’re Family.”

We were feeling good! In fact, we were somewhat giddy. We had just returned from picking up our daughter from her week-long visit with Granny & Pawpaw in Northeast Texas. And at the same time, we were expecting the homecoming of a very dear friend that had been working in New York for the past three months. Alex asked if it wasn’t kinda silly to be so excited to have them back home. I said, “Not at all. They’re family.”

That phrase stuck in my head and got me to thinking.
I know – dangerous, right?

Well, the funny thing is that when I look back on our life together, I would have never pictured Alex and me to be where we are now. Oh, we’ve had our shares of ups and downs. There have been times, scary times, when it felt like the only thing holding us together was a worn out piece of string. Yet here we are, together still, nineteen years and counting.

How did we do it? Well, I could say it was purely devotion, discipline or true love. I could even say stupidity and I wouldn’t be half lying. After all, love does have a silly way of making us all a little stupid. But, of all things I could credit, I would have to say our longevity as a couple was a group effort. We didn’t do it alone. Now, more than ever, I am firmly convinced that there isn’t a single, long-term couple on this planet that has accomplished this feat – alone.

No. Family, friends and the friends who have become our “chosen family” invested their time and love into us, too. For them I am grateful. When our hearts were broken, they were there to help reassemble the pieces. At the times when ends were hard to meet, they gave without hesitation. Encouragement, advice, sometimes nothing more than a sympathetic ear but whatever was needed they provided it freely. They invested themselves in us. Can you identify with this?

Alex and I realize that our family is not normal in the traditional sense; traditional meaning husband + wife + offspring... Yet, our little family doesn’t lack for love, or purpose, or meaning.

I would even argue that perhaps our little family has those things in greater abundance than most of the so called “traditional” ones. Why? Because ultimately, family is more than whom you are genetically linked to. It’s more than what the legal definition of “family” is. It’s a commitment, an investment of love in the people you value as a significant part of your life. And the number of those people vested in our little "non-traditional family" is large, to say the least.

So, as I close, my challenge to you is this: take some time to honestly reflect on the non-traditional family members that have invested in your life. And don’t forget to thank them! Alex, Lexi and I are blessed, grateful and proud to have such family members. And you should be, too.

As always – Enjoy Your Life,

John Aaron Villarreal


The Legal Stuff: I write to inform, inspire and encourage my readers to enjoy all their lives have to offer.
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, diet or wellness program.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Don’t Reach for that Heating Pad!

If you’ve ever had a muscle strain or achy back, you probably did what most of us do; reach for a heating pad. It feels good. It feels comforting. But, did you know that it may be the wrong thing to do?

Whenever the body experiences trauma or some type of injury, a complex set of reactions occurs called the Metabolic Response. The metabolic response is a complex interaction between many body systems in an effort to restore physical health.

In many cases the affected area experiences inflammation, stiffness, and swelling. Because the use of heat therapy is comforting to most of us, we tend to reach for it first. However, while it may relax the muscles (thereby easing pain a bit), heat therapy does nothing to address the swelling associated with your body’s metabolic response to trauma. As a result, inflammation increases once the heat is removed and in many cases the pain returns even worse than before.

This is why my first choice for treating pain if cold therapy (Cryo-Therapy). It is a drug free war to reduce painful inflammation while allowing the body to heal itself at a more rapid pace. For example; Cold therapy is helpful in treating some overuse injuries or chronic pain in athletes. An athlete who has chronic knee pain that increases after running may want to ice the injured area after each run to reduce or prevent inflammation.

I think the best way to ice an injury is to use a high quality ice pack that conforms to the body part being iced. If you can’t afford products like ColdOne Cold Therapy Wraps, my preferred option would be to find gel or clay filled cold packs at your local drug store. You can also get good results from a bag of frozen peas or a simple zip-lock bag of ice.

Take care to use a cloth between you and the ice and never use ice therapy for longer than 30 minutes at a time. I find you can get excellent results in only 20 minutes followed by 20 minutes off, and 20 minutes on again. This therapy works best when used within the first 24 hours of an injury.

Once your inflammation is reduced, you can alternate heat with cold, to further increasing circulation to enhance healing and relieve pain.  Alternating application of heat and cold is sometimes called a vascular flush because the heat expands the blood vessels, and the cold constricts them, causing a flushing action.

Try alternating a hot shower with a cold one, a cold plunge after a sauna, or a series of hot and cold towels applied to an area, like and achy back or sore shoulders. The general time ratio for hot and cold applications is three to one; three minutes of heat to one minute of cold. However, always end with the cold application.



Precautions
Before you go off to try this therapy out I must give you a few caveats. Do not use ice or any very cold applications if you have Raynaud’s disease, peripheral vascular disease, peripheral neuropathy, hypersensitivity to cold, or reduced skin sensations. Diabetics should always use caution when applying ice to their skin. Also be careful with heat applications to avoid burning. Watch the degree of heat of an application and how it feels against your skin. And, if you experience any deformity or inability to use a limb within the first 24 hours of using cold therapy, consult your physician immediately.

All that said, using cold therapy can give you a great advantage over pain and recovery time. So, next time you experience a trauma, be sure to reach for the ice first. You may find you might never need the heating pad again.

As Always - Enjoy Your Life!

John Aaron Villarreal


The Legal Stuff: 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, August 16, 2012

Lighten Your Load: Your Brains (plural) Coping with Stress

We thrive under pressure. In fact, evolution dictates that the survival of our species relied on facing life challenges, adapting, and then overcoming those obstacles. Thereby arriving  to where we are today. But, today things are different. No longer something physical like a Saber-toothed Lion we can run from, stress is invisible, ever present and just as deadly as it ever was.

Let’s step back for a moment. Did you know that evolution has given you three brains: the lizard brain, the dog brain, and the human brain (Reptilian Complex, Limbic System, and Neocortex)? Each one marks a progression of sorts.

The lizard brain is of basic instinct and need: purely selfish. However, about 100-million years ago mammals came into existence and with them came the Limbic System. A second brain the covers the first. Suddenly, emotions were introduced. Mammals were able to experience loyalty, jealousy, compassion, etc.

More recently, say 100-thousand years ago, the precursor to humans; primates immerged with the Neocortex. This third brain covers the first two and introduces reason, logic, cause and effect. It allows us to think and act well beyond our basic response to emotion or survival. But let’s get back to the topic of stress.

As I said earlier, today’s stress is invisible. While the older brains can only feel and act, our evolved brain is now capable of imagination and “what if” scenarios. And, for each one of those perceived dangers, our dog and reptilian brains want to immediately act against them. They want to escape or destroy them: fight or flight.

But how do you run away from say you afternoon meeting with your boss? It could be a meeting where you get a promotion and a pay increase, or a meeting where you get reprimanded and dismissed. Nevertheless, a whole slew of activities begin to physically happen because your dog and reptilian brain have engaged your lymphatic system and sent a flood of Cortisol (the stress hormone) into your system.

Heart rate and blood pressure increases. Pupils dilate and breathing becomes shallow. Even your bowels seem to respond either by letting loose or clamping shut. Is it no wonder why they say stress can kill?

Unfortunately, our “superior brain” permits us to concern ourselves with far more than we need to. It allows us to worry about the future, about things that haven’t happened yet, and of things that may never happen. But what I’ve learned is that today is more than enough to occupy my thoughts. Of course, planning and preparation for the future is essential for hope, personal achievement and growth, it is not the immediate. The “immediate” is what calls for action; action that I can take now.

What is my answer to coping with stress? Lighten your load. Make sure you are only carrying today’s pressures because today’s problems are usually stressful enough. Leave tomorrow’s burdens until later.

As Always - Enjoy Your Life!

John Aaron Villarreal


The Legal Stuff: 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, August 15, 2012

How to Relieve Pain & Restore Movement with Massage

Repetitive strain injuries are what I see most in my practice. Clients come to me experiencing pain and due to poor posture and frequently used movements, also known as repetitive strain injuries (RSI’s). RSI’s can affect anyone from athletes to desk jockeys and can present itself as tendinitis, frozen shoulder, tennis or golfer’s elbow, plantar fasciitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome and temporal mandibular joint disorder (TMJ).

Chances are, if you have chronic muscle spasms in the upper back and neck, stiff and painful shoulders, or tingling in your arms or hands, you may have an RSI. If you experience pain, tightness, or weakness in these areas, and “push through the pain” ignoring what your body is trying to tell you, your risk the chance of causing serious injury and increasing your recovery time to boot.

Even if you are just beginning to notice tingling, numbness or weakness in these areas, it is essential to get treatment early and maintain treatment through self-care therapy.

How Massage Helps

The process of healing an RSI can take time and requires rest. However, massage can be especially helpful in speeding recovery. A skilled Massage Therapist is trained in bodywork techniques that manipulate the release of knots and painful trigger points in muscles and tendons. As a result, increased blood flow to the muscles and greater pliability to the damages tissue will help you heal faster while decreasing the pain RSI can cause.

Using adjunct therapies such as cold, moist heat, or the application of topical analgesics, your Massage Therapist can further help reduce swelling, release and stretch tight tissues and reintroduce you to your easy moving, pain-free self.

You can further maintain these results through self-care instructions that your therapist may give you at the end of your session. These may include ice therapy, Epsom salt soaks, the addition of specific stretches to your daily routine and a program of regular massage therapy sessions to help reverse the problem.

You don’t have to live with pain. There are ways to treat and maintain your wellness and keep you feeling young. Choose to listen to your body, and when the need should arise, treat it with the proper attention it deserves.

As Always - Enjoy Your Life!

John Aaron Villarreal


The Legal Stuff: 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, August 14, 2012

Your Sore Muscle Treatment Plan

It's normal to have sore muscles after you work out, play sports, or even do housework, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve been physically active. The medical name for this condition is delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, and it is thought to be due in large part to inflammation of the muscle as a result of micro-tears of the muscle fibers.

So, does anything work to reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness? So far, nothing is proven 100 percent effective, and while some people have found some of the following tips helpful, it's best to try a few things to see what works for you.

ICE:
Because it is the best effective means of treating inflammation, ice therapy can be used to treat the muscle micro-tears cause that create DOMS and should be considered especially if your muscle strain is severe. Don’t have an ice-pack? Grab a bag of frozen vegetables, wrap it in a cloth and apply it to the area for 15-20 minutes several times throughout the day.

OTC MEDICATION:
Although they won't actually speed healing, over the counter medications like aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen sodium can help to temporarily reduce your muscle soreness. However, take caution if you plan to take them before exercise. They can mask the symptoms of a more severe injury.

STRETCH:
While some studies suggest that stretching does not effectively prevent or reducing muscle soreness, there is no evidence that stretching is harmful or contributes to muscle soreness. In fact, many people credit stretching as their key to quick recovery. So, If you want to try some gentle stretching (especially in a warm shower or steam sauna), it may help, and certainly can't hurt.

MASSAGE:
Yes, a shameless plug for my services, but a valuable one none-the-less. Because massage is thought to simulate blood flow to the area and to diminish swelling within the muscle, studies suggest that massage is a beneficial means of treatment of muscle soreness. You can do it yourself by gently kneading the area with your hands, but for best results, schedule a massage with a professional to relieve muscle pain.

Although these tips may not be able to prevent muscle soreness entirely, you may reduce the intensity and duration of muscles soreness if you follow these recommendations. *Take note, however, and see your physician if your soreness increases in intensity or persists for more than 5 days.

As Always - Enjoy Your Life!

John Aaron Villarreal


The Legal Stuff: 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, August 13, 2012

The “In-box” Diet

I’m on a self imposed diet: a technology diet. I don’t know what we ever did before cell-phones, text messages, email and GPS or how we ever survived before we were able to instantly contact each other! However, I suspect we had an easier way of taking charge of our lives and resting our brains. We were able to “disconnect.”

Today we practically sleep with our technology. I know at least one person who never goes to bed without taking his iPhone with him. Perhaps you do the same? Is it no wonder why we can feel drained of energy and rapt with stress? It’s Pavlovian the way we MUST respond every time the phone dings, rings or vibrates!

I’ve decided: not me.

I’ve at least decided to turn off my phone before going to bed. What about emergencies you ask? Well, emergencies always happen and most of the time there is nothing you can do about it at the time – except worry. Besides, I am much better at handling a crisis when I’m well rested.

As for email, I’ve decided to stop letting it dominating my life, too. For example, writing this blog I can be bombarded by audible “dings” of newly arriving emails. They, at this particular time, are nothing but distractions from the task at hand. It puts me at a constant state of anticipation. Who or what could it be that needs my attention right this minute?!?! And, before you know it, I’ve abandoned my work in favor of responding to little things like; “What did you do over the weekend?”

No. I’ve decided to break the cycle. I chose to disconnect and give myself time to think. You should consider doing the same. Try checking your email only at specific times of the day and turn off the notices for the rest of the time. This may be hard to do at first. After all, in our society of urgency and immediacy, we have all become somewhat “addicted” to our instant technology.

However, if you can take back the reigns of your life, you will find that limiting technology’s access to you will increase your ability to recharge your energy, think clearly, and focus on the task at hand: living life well.

As Always - Enjoy Your Life!

John Aaron Villarreal


The Legal Stuff: 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, August 7, 2012

All About Sports Massage

So, what is “sports massage?” Many of my clients are athletes, or at the least weekend warriors and, as such have asked me about the subject. It seems the performance and wellness advantages afforded by sports massage are highly sought after by my more "competitive" clients? ; )

So anyway, there are basically three main goals of sports massage:
  1. To assist you in performing at you peak level
  2. To help reduce or possibly prevent the risk of injury
  3. To help with recovery in the event of injury
Since they typically want to depend on their body's ability to function at its best, injury recovery time is dramatically reduced for the clients that incorporate sports massage into their routine.

Although sports massage can occur in a variety of different settings and administered at different times with different goals, there are also generally four times to administer this type of massage:

  • Pre-event Massage - Pre-event massage typically occurs at the sports event, 20 to 30 minutes before the event. Encompassing techniques such as friction to help warm muscles up, compression to increase circulation in specific muscles and range of motion to assist in joint mobility, pre-event massage focuses on the muscles that will be stressed most during competition.
  • Post-event Massage - Also administered at the event site, post-event massage is aimed at helping the athlete recover from muscle soreness or cramping while reestablishing range of motion and circulation. Post-event massage might consist of compressive effleurage for calming the nervous system and pushing fluid, stretching and petrissage to relieve muscular tension, compression for spreading muscle fibers and restoring blood flow, broadening strokes to lengthen tight muscles, and reciprocal inhibition to relieve muscle cramps.
  • Maintenance Massage - Administered in between competitive events, a sports maintenance massage is part of an optimal wellness program that targets an athlete's strength, flexibility, coordination, biomechanics, posture, stress patterns, scar tissue and existing injuries.
  • Rehabilitation Massage - Because muscles worked to their limit cramp, tear, bruise and ache, even the most cautious athlete could benefit from rehabilitation massage. While sports massage should only be administered in unison with proper medical care, rehabilitative work can dramatically speed healing and ease pain. Rehabilitation sports massage techniques could include effleurage, neuromuscular therapy, compression, cross-fiber friction, lymphatic drainage and trigger point massage.
My practice focuses solely on the last two; maintenance and rehabilitative sports massage. And from what my clients tell me, investing in this type of service is a great performance booster, or at the very least, it's a great way to reward to yourself for a sport well played!

As Always - Enjoy Your Life!

John Aaron Villarreal


The Legal Stuff: 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, August 6, 2012

HIV Report: Massage Boosts Immune System

It's a shame that many people perceive massage therapy as a luxury or physical indulgence. Yes, it can be expensive - but not as expensive as illness or disease, and its benefits way outlast treating yourself to a fancy new outfit or expensive dinner.

True, while getting a good massage can make you feel like pampered royalty, it is actually the physiological benefit of receiving a massage that extends far beyond the actual treatment. According to the Institute for Integrative Healthcare Studies "Nowhere is massage's impact on the body more profound than in those who have the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). For individuals who are HIV positive, the cellular battle within the immune system can get a significant wellness boost from regular massage therapy."

As I've always believed, Wellness is not a luxury; it's a necessity.

As Always - Enjoy Your Life!

John Aaron Villarreal


The Legal Stuff: 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, August 1, 2012

Best Save Your Back!

If you’ve ever been laid up with a back injury, you know how severe the pain can get. The unfortunate thing is that chances are the injury could have been avoided if only a few precautions were taken. After all, the muscles, ligaments and discs of your back do a big job, supporting your spine and moving the weight of your body. Good posture, exercise and correct body mechanics help keep it flexible and strong.

By the same token, massage can help with posture by stretching shortened muscles and fascia (the connective tissue that surrounds your muscles and other tissues), freeing movement around the joints, and relieving muscle contractions that can pull you out of alignment.

However, an ounce of prevention is certainly worth more than a pound of cure. Keep in mind that you can protect your back by putting a bit of forethought to your movements. To help you preserve your healthy back, I’ve listed a few tips.

  1. Whenever you are working on your feet be sure that your feet are shoulder-width apart to improve stability and be sure your weight is spread evenly on both feet.
  2. Strengthening your core muscles through abdominal exercises. Take a class or ask for advice from an exercise instructor or personal trainer. Learn to feel where your center of gravity is. This is important because many people try to move from their upper bodies, which is less efficient than moving from your pelvis, hips, and abdomen.
  3. If you’ve got to pick up something small from the floor, kneel down on one knee to retrieve it.
  4. To pick up something heavy, first stand close to it, squat (keeping your back upright) and use your legs to lift it, and avoid twisting as you lift.
  5. When reaching for an object overhead, keep your shoulders and hips facing it. Twisting while carrying a load is dangerous to your spine. Don’t do it!
Take good care of your back and it will take good care of you. And, that includes proper stretching, exercise and regular massage, too.

As Always - Enjoy Your Life!

John Aaron Villarreal

The Legal Stuff: 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.