PSA#7 – Motivation

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or fitness guru. I am sharing what I’ve learned through research and experience; you all must use your own judgment in deciding what is best for your and your own health, including checking with your doctor before beginning any exercise or dietary program.

This is a re-post from another blog I contribute to, especially for my friends who are stuck in an exercise rut and battling the winter blues.

Motivation is literally the desire to do things. It’s the difference between waking up before dawn to pound the pavement and lazing around the house all day. It’s getting out and running even if there’s a foot of snow on the ground, like my friend Julie. (Really, she went running in the snow.)  It’s the crucial element in setting and attaining goals—and research shows you can influence your own levels of motivation and self-control.

So what do you do when you can’t find motivation?

Suck it Up, Buttercup.

You heard me. There’s actually science behind the grit your teeth and just do it philosophy! Psychologists have determined that our willpower is like a muscle; the more you use it, the stronger it becomes. Richard Restak, a neurologist at George Washington Medical School, is currently treating a patient with damage to the prefrontal cortex, the result of a traffic accident. The PFC is the brain’s executive command center. “The patient has very limited self-control. He lashes out, yells at people, and is a compulsive shopper,” Restak explains. Based on his work with this patient and others, Restak believes you can improve the performance of the brain itself. “Increasing activity in the area that regulates self-control, for example by thinking twice before you buy something, enhances the functionality of this area permanently,” he says—and these changes are visible using neuroimaging. In other words, when you practice small instances of self-control, the brain bulks up. The next time you need to exercise self-control, it will be easier.

(Research data from Psychology Today).

So Start Small. Make a decision and follow through, for instance, saying no to sweets or bread for a set period of time. Once you do that, set another small goal, and so on and so on. A newby body builder wouldn’t jump into a gym and start benchpressing 600 pounds, would he? Of course not! He would start with smaller weight and build up to that 600 pounds.

You still don’t want to do it? Tough. Do it any way – take charge of your own brain. Fake that motivation until you feel it for real. Figure out what you want, power through the pain period, and get it done.

Suck It Up. Keep the Faith

EMail Anglea Pea

PSA #2 Repost- Exercising When Sick

Cover Your Cough!Hey Chickies!  Many of us – or our kids – have been sick during the past few weeks with the stomach virus going around or with our annual autumn colds.  I thought I would re-post this information, you know, just to be helpful.  I’m also avoiding my own workout as I sit here with a fever and feeling all achy and run over by a truck.  Thank you DirtBike, for sharing your germs with me.

Many of us are working our tails off trying to shed the body clutter and reclaim our health.  So what should we do when illness and exercise collide?  I wondered myself, so I did two things.  Checked out info over at MayoClinic.com and called my Nurse Practitioner. They both said the same thing.

As a rule of thumb for exercise and illness:

  • It’s okay to work out if your symptoms are “above the neck” — such as runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing or sore throat. Be prepared to reduce the intensity of your workout if needed, however.
  • Postpone your exercise if your symptoms are “below the neck” — such as chest congestion, hacking cough or upset stomach.
  • Don’t exercise at all if you have a fever, fatigue or widespread muscle aches. (Gentle stretching is okay to help relieve the muscle aches.)
Mild to moderate physical activity is usually okay if you have a cold but no fever. Exercise may even help you feel better by temporarily relieving nasal congestion. If you choose to exercise when you’re sick, listen to your body. If your symptoms get worse with physical activity, stop and rest.
Yes, rest.  Your body is an amazing machine with self-healing super powers, but it needs rest to do its work. So if you feel like crud, don’t go running!  Resume your workout routine gradually as you begin to feel better.
Stay Healthy.  Keep the Faith.

EMail Anglea Pea

PSA #2 – Exercising When Sick

Hey Chickies!  Many of us – or our kids – have been sick during the past few weeks. Many of us are working our tails off trying to shed the body clutter and reclaim our health.  So what should we do when illness and exercise collide?

I wondered myself, so I did two things.  Checked out info over at MayoClinic.com and called my Nurse Practicioner. They both said the same thing.

As a rule of thumb for exercise and illness:

  • It’s okay to work out if your symptoms are “above the neck” — such as runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing or sore throat. Be prepared to reduce the intensity of your workout if needed, however.
  • Postpone your exercise if your symptoms are “below the neck” — such as chest congestion, hacking cough or upset stomach.
  • Don’t exercise at all if you have a fever, fatigue or widespread muscle aches. (Gentle stretching is okay to help relieve the muscle aches.)
Mild to moderate physical activity is usually okay if you have a cold but no fever. Exercise may even help you feel better by temporarily relieving nasal congestion. If you choose to exercise when you’re sick, listen to your body. If your symptoms get worse with physical activity, stop and rest.
Yes, rest.  Your body is an amazing machine with self-healing super powers, but it needs rest to do its work. So if you feel like crud, don’t go running!  Resume your workout routine gradually as you begin to feel better.
Gradually is the name of my game this week.  Half of my household, including me, has been sick for what seems like the entire month of February.  Nothing serious, just a nasty energy draining mega snot producing upper respiratory virus that would not go away. It was bad.  I did not exercise.  I slept as much as possible, consumed gallons of fluids and let my body fight the germs and heal itself.  I started exercising again this week.  Slowly.  Even though I feel better and am no longer coughing up a lung, I’m holding back a little bit.  I pulled out my old C25K tracks and did week one pacing with walking and slow jogging.  Next week I’ll work out with Buff Chad, and then start ramping up the walking and running. 

EMail Anglea Pea

PSA #1 – BMI vs. Body Fat Percentage – Huh?

BMI or Body Mass Index was developed by Belgium statistician Adolph Quelet in the 1800’s. His intent was this tool was to be used to measure the obesity of the general population, not the fatness of an individual. That being said, since many people and even physicians still use this measurement, here is the formula for calculating your BMI and what the results mean.
Basic BMI Formula
(weight in pounds x 703) / (height in inches) squared
Example, using my own (gasp!) stats (updated July 6, 2011)
(159 X 703) /(63×63) = 111777 /3969 = 28.1
BMI Interpretation
  • Below 18.5 = Underweight
  • 18.5 – 24.9 = Normal
  • 25 – 29.9 = Overweight
  • 30 & above = Obese
According to the basic BMI formula, I am still Overweight.  It’s no longer Obese, but even so, I resent that Overweight label.  Really, I DO!  I’m down to a size 10 dress pant.  That isn’t overweight in my book.  So I dug a little deeper to see if there was another measurement that would take into account actual body fat and how it’s distributed over the body.  I found it – it’s called Body Fat Percentage.
Body Fat Percentage
Body fat percentage is the percentage of total body weight comprised of fat. The best way to determine this is with pinch measurements, an immersion tank and one of those spiffy scales that sends an electric current through your body and magically determines how much of you is actual fat.  Most of us don’t have access to such equipment, so here’s a formula that will give you a quick and dirty answer, along with an interpretation of the results.

Body Fat Percentage Formula for Women
Abbreviations:

  • F1, etc = Factor 1, etc
  • TBW = Total Body Weight
  • LBM = Lean Body Mass
  • BFW = Body Fat Weight

The Formula:

  • F1:  (TBW x 0.732) + 8.987
  • F2:  Wrist measurement (at fullest point) /  3.140
  • F3:  Waist measurement (at naval) x 0.157
  • F4:  Hip measurement (at fullest point) x 0.249
  • F5:  Forearm measurement (at fullest point) x 0.434
  • LBM = F1 + F2 –F3 – F4 + F5
  • BFW = TBW – LBM
  • Body Fat Percentage = (BFW x100) divided by TBW

 Me, July 6, 2011

  • F1:  (159 x 0.732) + 8.987 = 125.36
  • F2:  6.25 / 3.140 = 1.99
  • F3:  30 x 0.157 = 4.71
  • F4:  39 x 0.249 = 9.71
  • F5:  9.5 x 0.434 = 4.12
  • LBM = 125.36 + 1.99 – 4.71 – 9.71 + 4.12 = 117.05
  • BFW = 159 – 117.05 = 41.95
  • Body Fat Percentage = (41.95 x 100) /159 = 26.38%

Body Fat Percentage Interpretation for Women

  • 10-12%  = Essential fat necessary to stay alive
  • 14-20%  = Professional and Amateur Athletes
  • 21-24% = Fitness Buffs
  • 25-31% = Acceptable
  • 32-41% = Overweight
  • 42% or Higher = Obese

BMI VS Body Fat Percentage

BMI is the most widely use indicator of weight status but it really isn’t  very useful because it doesn’t take into account bone mass, muscle mass or actual fat as it lies on your body. Bones are denser than muscles and twice as dense as fat.  Body builders and other hyped up exercise maniacs, like Buff Chad, have a high BMI without being the least bit obese.  In fact, Buff Chad WORKS at keeping his BMI around 34 (crazy!)  According to the
calculations above, I am in the overweight category in the BMI chart, but I come out in the acceptable range in body fat percentage.

I continue to work on my overall health, with plenty of exercise and responsible food consumption. And no cookies. My ulitmate goal will put me in the normal BMI range and in the fitness buff body fat range.  For now, though, I’m happier considering the Body Fat Percentage over the BMI:  it’s a more realistic snapshot of how I really look and feel.

Note:  Both the BMI and the Body Fat Percentage are just a couple of quasi-accurate measurements to give you an idea of your overall heath and a starting point for your health goals.  If you fall into the obese categories, it would be wise to consult your Doctor for some very specific guidelines for nutrition, exercise and possibly medications.

American Diabetes Month – Part III – My Story

My Own Story is perfectly typical. I went to college, got married, started a career and then went on the Mommy Track. I had four babies in a six year period, had gestational diabetes with all four pregnancies, and delivered big, eight pound babies. My blood sugar ranges went back to “normal” a few months after each baby was born, so I didn’t worry about it.

A few years went by…I gained weight, and stopped getting regular exercise, and I was getting more and more tired. I went to my Doctor with the list of symptoms, including the constant fatigue. There was always another reasonable explanation for them: sinus infections or anemia, yeast infections, uti’s, and heck, who wouldn’t be tired if they had a husband, four kids, a home and an engineering consulting business to take care of? SO..I ignored the symptoms and kept going, blaming the “feeling rotten all the time” on being overweight and hating myself for not squeezing another hour out of my already busy schedule to exercise.

More years go by, and then my eyesight goes south, very suddenly, without warning. My husband came into the office to see the computer monitor pulled right up to the edge of the desk, and me sitting with my nose three inches from the screen. I couldn’t focus my eyes, and I couldn’t see what was on the monitor. I was at the eye doctor the next day, getting my pupils dilated so he can look inside my eyeballs. My optometrist told me to make an appointment with my regular doctor for the next morning to have a blood test for diabetes. What? Diabetes? I thought that went away after the last pregnancy!

I called my Doctor, and was in her office at 7:00 the next morning for the blood test. One drop of blood and five seconds later I had the truth. I have diabetes. My blood sugar that morning, after a night of fasting and not even a cup of coffee before the test, was 178. “Normal” fasting levels are less than 100. Additional blood work revealed that my liver and kidneys had already been damaged along with my eyes. My Doctor suspected that I had been walking around with diabetes since the last pregnancy…TEN YEARS ago!

The good news? According to my doctor, I was still “Young” and that my body would heal, but only if I get my butt in gear and take care of myself, and commit to keeping my blood sugar under control.

So I did. I lost fifty pounds. I purged the pantry of all high-carb, unhealthy food. I read and researched and joined a support group. I met with a dietician, and changed the way my entire family eats. I started walking and exercising EVERY day. My eyesight got better. I now need bifocals, but hey, I probably would have needed those anyway as I am well into “middle age”. Recent blood tests show that my liver and kidneys have healed and are functioning normally. I’m not exhausted all the time any more. I really feel wonderful and “normal” again.

It’s not over, though. I am not cured. I still have diabetes. There is NO CURE for diabetes. Right now, I can control it with a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. Because the disease is progressive, I will eventually need to take medication and inject insulin daily. My goal for now is to put that off for as long as possible. I know that if I ever revert back to my bad health habits, my diabetes symptoms will come back with a vengeance, and so will the complications that go with them.

I miss pizza, and ice cream. I have to judge every bite that I put in my mouth – is this piece of chocolate worth being blind? Is this donut worth killing my liver? Of course not. This kind of thinking makes it easier for me to stay focused and stay healthy.

What To Do if YOU Have Symptoms?

If you have a family history, if you have any of the symptoms, see your Doctor! Ask for a blood test to check. It’s simple – they prick your finger for a tiny drop of blood, scan it with a meter, and TaDa!! There’s your answer in five seconds. Screening for diabetes is not usually included with annual checkups, but it SHOULD be, especially for those who are high risk of developing diabetes.

American Diabetes Month – Part II – Risk Factors and Symptoms

Risk Factors and Symptoms

Are you at risk to develop diabetes? You may be if you are:

  • overweight
  • sedentary – you don’t get enough exercise!
  • of Hispanic, American Indian or African American heritage

or if you have:

  • had gestational diabetes
  • delivered a nine pound or larger baby
  • other family members who have diabetes

If you are at risk, you need be aware of the symptoms of diabetes. Symptoms are subtle, and are often mistaken for other illnesses, or just ignored as part of “getting older”. Common symptoms include:

  • frequent need to urinate
  • extreme thirst
  • dry mouth
  • cuts and bruises that take a LONG time to heal, more than a few days
  • excessive fatigue
  • unexplained weight loss OR
  • inability to lose weight, even when on a restricted calorie diet
  • constant numbness or tingling in your hands and feet
  • blurry vision, and a rapid deterioration in your eyesight

Symptoms that occur for women only include:

  • continued and constant yeast infections
  • lack of desire

Strangest symptom by far:

  • pink “mold” growing at the waterline in your toilet bowl! This is actually a yeast mold caused by the excess sugar in your urine.

There is some good news: most of these symptoms go away once you get your diabetes under control!

Tomorrow: My Own Story, and What to Do If YOU Have Symptoms

American Diabetes Month

I have diabetes.

My story is not uncommon. More than 15 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with diabetes. The sad fact is that there is an estimated 6 million more people out there who may have it and not even know it.

Diabetes is a disease that causes too much sugar to be floating around in your bloodstream. But it’s not just about eating candy and sweets. Our digestive systems turn the foods that we eat into sugar and sends it into our bloodstream in order to fuel our muscles and organs and keep our bodies going. Our pancreas produces a hormone called insulin that makes it possible for the sugar to move out of our bloodstream INTO our muscles and organs where it is needed for fuel. A person with diabetes either has a pancreas that doesn’t make enough insulin (Type I diabetes), or the insulin that the pancreas does produce doesn’t work properly (Type II Diabetes). The result either way? A whole lot of sugar floating around in you blood.

Well, what’s wrong with that? Several things. First, your body isn’t getting the fuel it needs to work properly. Your muscles are tired, your organs are exhausted, and your brain isn’t functioning at full speed. Second, sugar molecules are very large compared to the cells inside your body. As the sugar flows throughout your body in your blood stream, these large sugar molecules are causing damage to your kidneys, your liver, your heart, your eyes and your nerves. This damage can be healed if your diabetes is diagnosed early, and if you work to keep your blood sugar under control. If you ignore your diabetes, or if it goes undiagnosed for years, this damage becomes permanent and the results are kidney or liver failure, heart disease, permanent nerve damage or even blindness.

Tomorrow – Risk Factors and Symptoms