Archive for the tag - heart disease

You’re Worried About Ebola & ISIS – But Still Not Motivated To Workout?

o-EBOLA-facebookThere are a lot of pressing issues in today’s world – and it’s easy to get caught up in the media hype. If you turn on the television, it seems like the end of the world is near. Between the latest reports from the Middle East or the tragic Ebola news from West Africa, it’s unsurprising that many people are scared. Some, even panicking.

And let’s be clear: Turmoil with ISIS in the middle east and the spread of Ebola is horrific, awful and very real. And both as a country and as individuals, we should do all that we can to ensure that all people are allowed to thrive with healthy, happy and productive lives.

But let’s also be clear: According to this article, you should fear your furniture a lot more. Every year, furniture accidents kill about the same number of Americans as terrorism (about 30 fatalities) and injured many, many more (about 40,000 emergency room injuries).

There’s something even more dangerous. Each and every day, 2,200 Americans are killed by the same culprit. That’s 800,000 Americans per year. In perspective, 4,000 people have died worldwide of Ebola. That isn’t to minimize their deaths, but rather to draw attention to the the scope of this even more rampant pandemic. This killer is heart disease. And you’re at far more risk of dying from a stroke or heart attack than ISIS, Ebola or even cancer – combined.

Americans are rushing to the stores to buy gloves and face masks – and orders for full body hazmat suits are spiking online. You can even buy one with Amazon Prime! And yet… and yet, 80% of Americans still don’t get the recommended amount of exercise each week. Exercise that helps dramatically reduce the risk of heart disease.

Let’s get something straight: We’re worrying about the wrong things. If you remove media hype and add logic, we’d be lining up outside the local gym or neighborhood park to get our bodies moving. You might die in a terrorist attack or from Ebola. But with 1 in 3 American deaths attributed to heart disease, the real killer is hiding in plain sight.

Benefits of Eating Less Red Meat.

Back in December, I shared my resolution for the upcoming new year: To limit my consumption of red meat to two meals (or less) per week.

Since we’re more than halfway through the year, I wanted to share an update on my progress. I’m proud to say that despite my shoddy New Year’s resolution track record, this is one commitment that I’ve managed to keep. In fact, I’ve decreased my red meat consumption from nearly daily to once or twice per month.

Before I share how it’s changed my life, I’d like to reiterate why this resolution is important to me.

  1. Heart disease. There is a clear and documented link between red meat consumption and heart disease. Depending on the cut, red meat can be high in unhealthy saturated fats which tend to raise blood cholesterol levels and increase heart disease risk.
  2. Cancer. In some studies, red meat has been associated with certain types of cancer.
  3. Overall death risk. According to one study of 500,000 people by the National Institutes of Health and AARP, red meat eaters had a 30% increased chance of dying during the 10 year study. In a separate study at Harvard, researchers found that 9% of male deaths and 7% of female deaths would be prevented if people lowered red meat consumption to 1.5 ounces (or less) per day.
  4. Environment. When you compare the environmental impact of red meat to other foods like fruits, vegetables, dairy, chicken, etc., it’s not just a little bit worse. It’s hugely worse. According to one study, red meat accounts for just 30% of the world’s meat consumption – but it’s responsible for 78% of the emissions.

Instead of the usual burger or steak, I’ve been consuming red meat substitutes and opting for healthier cuts of chicken and turkey. Truth be told, it really hasn’t been difficult to make the transition and I can’t help but notice that my body feels cleaner and more energized.

The difference is most noticeable when I do eat red meat. I’m surprised at how gristly and fatty it tastes – and how sluggish I feel when digesting it. I never seemed to notice how unfavorably my body responds to red meat until I started cutting back on my intake. Because of the unpleasant response that red meat consumption inspires, it’s been very easy to stick with my resolution.

By far, replacing red meat with healthier options has been the best change that I’ve made to my diet in the last year. My only regret is that it took me 29 years to figure it out.

Are you interested in decreasing your red meat consumption? Do you think it’s something you’d like to try? Let me know in the comments below!

2nd Heart Attack Grill Victim Collapses Mid-Meal.

Back in October, I posted about the newly-opened Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas. The restaurant celebrates gluttony by featuring such menu items as the quadruple bypass burger, flatliner fries (deep fried in pure lard) and milkshakes made with butter. You can even buy a pack of unfiltered cigarettes with which to enjoy your meal. And, if you’re over 350 pounds, you eat for free.

The restaurant is trying to make a jock about America’s obesity epidemic by celebrating overindulgence – but, personally, I don’t see the humor. With millions of Americans dying of heart disease each year (it’s the leading cause of death in the United States), it’s not really a laughing matter. We don’t joke about cancer, suicide, accidents or strokes – so why are obesity and heart disease the exception?

All that aside, just over a year ago, the restaurant’s 575-pound spokesperson died of obesity-related illness. Then, in February, a man collapsed of a heart attack while eating his meal. This week, less than two months after the previous incident, a woman in her 40s collapsed mid-meal. She was consuming a double bypass burger, drinking a margarita and smoking cigarettes.

It’s worth noting there’s no evidence that eating unhealthy food can trigger an immediate heart attack. Nonetheless, it hasn’t stopped people from debating: Who’s at fault? Though the woman doesn’t plan on suing, is the restaurant to blame? Or is it a matter of eater-beware?

Personally, I think the Heart Attack Grill is a terribly toxic establishment. But I don’t think the owners are to blame; individuals need to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions. If I make the decision to speed – and, as a result, get in a debilitating car accident – then I wouldn’t turn around and sue the car company. The decision to speed was mine.

What we eat is a choice. Smoking is a choice. How we treat our body – and whether or not we make time to exercise – is a choice. All of these choices have consequences – and, for those, I think all of us need to take ownership.

But what do you think? Who is at fault? The woman? The restaurant? Both? Let me know in the comments below!

Study: 95% Chance You’re Not Getting Enough Fiber.

High fiber diets are essential for good health - but 95% of us aren't getting enough!

The importance of fiber to health and wellness has been well-documented for decades. High fiber diets may lower the risk of colon cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes – and fiber helps normalize bowel movements and lower cholesterol. Fiber even facilitates weight loss by minimizing blood sugar spikes and helping dieters feel full and satisfied.

But, according to a survey of American adults, 95% of us aren’t getting enough. It’s worth noting that the survey was conducted by the Kellogg company – and, with a number of high fiber breakfast cereal brands, they certainly have an invested interest in the subject. Nonetheless, the numbers seem realistic and it’s no secret that most of us aren’t getting enough fiber.

Since coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, the heart-healthy benefits of fiber are of particular interest.

So just how big of an impact does fiber have in preventing coronary heart disease? Is it a 2% reduction in risk? Maybe 5%? 10%? According to Harvard researchers, high fiber intake is linked to a 40% decrease in the risk of coronary heart disease. Yes, 40%. That’s huge. Moreover, the study’s findings have been confirmed by subsequent research.

According to The National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine, men 50 and under should consume 38 grams of fiber per day. Men ages 51 and older should consume 30 grams. Women 50 and under should consume 25 grams of fiber per day. Women ages 51 and older should consume 21 grams.

It’s not hard to get your daily fiber requirement. Though cereal fibers were found to be particularly beneficial to heart health, fiber is also found in a number of other foods like fruit, nuts, seeds, brown rice, some whole grain products, vegetables and legumes. It’s important to read the nutrition label to find the exact fiber amounts.

For me, the research on fiber has changed the way that I eat. In addition to eating high-fiber bran cereal for my breakfast, I snack on Fiber One bars with peanut butter. Contrary to the popular belief about fiber tasting like cardboard, I find it quite delicious.

The bottom line: Getting your daily intake of fiber is crucially important to your body’s health.

Heart Attack Grill: Celebrating Gluttony?

Last night, I caught a few minutes of the nightly news. In a segment, they featured a newly-opened Las Vegas restaurant called the Heart Attack Grill. The menu is loaded with ultra-high calorie options (a meal can contain upwards of 8,000 calories) and, in an effort to be tongue-in-cheek, the building is modeled after a hospital. Even the waitresses are dressed as nurses.

The owner of Heart Attack Grill, Jon Basso, talks about the restaurant as a celebration of gluttony but maintains that it’s all in good fun. Indeed, life is a lot more enjoyable with a sense of humor – but is our obesity epidemic really a laughing matter? With 1 in 4 deaths caused by heart disease, and with 785,000 Americans having their first heart attack each year, I’m having a tough time seeing the joke.

In fact, Blair River, a 575-pound man and spokesman for one of Basso’s previous restaurants, died last march of obesity-related illness. Making a joke out of such a serious – and deadly – issue is, at best, in poor taste. And if we want to laugh at ourselves, weight issues and the obesity problem in this country, let’s do it in way that illuminates solutions rather than celebrates the problem.

In a way, making intentionally and dramatically poor nutritional choices – like the “flatliner fries” cooked in pure lard or a milkshake made with butter – is a defilement of our human bodies. Our bodies crave nourishing foods – and a “quadruple bypass burger” with four patties and eight slices of cheese is far from that.

Lest we forget that we only get one body in this experience of life, it’s important to treat it with respect, honor and love – rather than cramming four-days worth of calories down our throat and flooding our system with artery-clogging fat. As anyone who has lost a loved one to heart disease can attest, that America is dying of obesity is an epidemic – and not a joke.

4 Tips to Bust Your Beer Belly!

Hi Davey Wavey,

I was on your website because my dad has been trying to get fit and I thought your website would be great for him! The biggest issue he has is a beer belly. How can he get rid of it?


Hey Samantha,

Thanks for the email and for spreading word about Davey Wavey Fitness!

First things first, the term “beer belly” is a bit of a misnomer. The real issue isn’t necessarily beer so much as it is calories. Weight gain occurs when you consume more calories than you burn – and in men, those extra calories are most often stored as belly fat. It’s the first place we men gain the weight, and often the last place we lose it.

Moreover, the so called beer belly is thought to increase the likelihood of diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep apnea. In other words, there’s plenty of good reasons for you dad to drop the gut.

Unfortunately, you can’t target weight loss in just one area. We can’t target just the belly; instead, we can incorporate general weight loss tips that will help your dad release his extra weight, wherever it may be.

    1. Eat smarter. Sure, beer has empty calories. But so do many of the other unhealthy foods we eat. Eating smarter means shifting from fried, processed and/or sugary foods to things like nuts, berries, lean meats, fruits and veggies. High fiber foods, in particular, will help your dad feel full. But fear not – it doesn’t mean that your dad needs to be put on a dramatic diet. Even making small dietary changes add up over time. My dad, for example, replaced his nightly snack of ice cream with a handful of peanuts. He lost 10 pounds in a few month’s time. Eating smarter will help reduce the number of calories your dad takes in.
    2. Exercise. Hitting the gym – or practicing with a workout video – will help your father increase the number of calories he burns. And again, it doesn’t mean he needs to hit the gym each and every day. I’d recommend starting out with 2 – 3 days for 30 – 45 minutes each, and possibly slowly moving up from there. I’d advise that he splits his time evenly between both cardio and strength training, as each have tremendous weight loss benefits.
    3. Get active! It’s important to keep moving. Maybe your dad can incorporate nightly walks or weekend hikes into his schedule. Or maybe there is a sports league he can join. My dad, for example, plays volleyball on Monday nights through our town’s recreation department.
    4. Visit a nutritionist. Or, a physician. Sometimes we need a little extra motivation to get us on the right track. Visiting a physician and getting a check-up can be a real wake-up call, especially if elevated blood pressure or other signs of heart disease are present. And consulting with a nutritionist can be a great way to build a meal plan that works for your dad, his habits and preferences. It’s definitely a worthwhile investment; it will yield huge returns in the quality (and possibility longevity) of your father’s life.

      Samantha, good luck with your father! You can certainly give him a little kick in the butt – but ultimately it is he who must take control of his life. You can’t run on the treadmill for him – but you can help steer him in the right direction. And it sounds like you’re doing just that. Kudos!


      Is Being a Hug Slut Good for Your Heart?

      The manhug: Good for your heart?

      I’m a hugger. I love hugging people. You might even call me a hug slut.

      Two summers ago, I even organized a group free-spirits to give “Free Hugs” on the streets of Toronto. It was a great experience, and I remember going home feeling totally recharged and brimming with love. It felt good for my soul – but as it turns out, it was also good for my heart.

      It all has to do with the hormone oxytocin. I’ll spare you the details, but it’s common during childbirth and it helps to facilitate breastfeeding. It’s also a neurotransmitter and aids in social bonding.

      According to Dr. David Hamilton, Ph.D.:

      We produce oxytocin when we bond with each other. Having quality relationships increases its levels. But another way to bond with someone is through a simple act of kindness. And this might just be good for the heart…. Exciting research has revealed that oxytocin plays a powerful role throughout the cardiovascular system.

      During the 1990s, researchers discovered that breastfeeding women (who have a lot of oxytocin in their systems) have lower blood pressure. Researchers were able to attribute the lower blood pressure to the oxytocin through a number of laboratory experiments.

      The implications are amazing: Smiling at strangers, holding the door open, being kind, connecting with friends, cuddling, hugging a stranger – any and all acts of kindness – reduce your risk of heart disease. And since the effects of oxytocin are cumulative, imagine the benefits of making these acts of kindness a regular part of your life?

      Now, giving lots of hugs doesn’t justify an otherwise high-risk lifestyle. But it’s yet another reason to share a little more love with the world in 2011.

      Hug sluts, rejoice.

      FTD: Jersey Shore IS Actually Killing You.

      On Jersey Shore, they like to say “FTD”, an abbreviation for “fresh to death”. Translated from Jersinglish, it means that you always have the latest gear, newest shoes and hottest clothes – and that you will until you die. But as it turns out, your impending death may be sooner than you think thanks to the likes of your favorite television shows.

      A 2010 research study conclusively linked TV watching to increased mortality rates. How bad is it?

      People who watched four hours of TV a day were 80% more likely to die of heart disease than people who watch 2 hours or less. But it doesn’t end there – those people who watched four hours a day of TV were also 46% more likely to die from any cause over the lesser watching counterparts.

      It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why. People who watch excessive television are more likely to live inactive, sedentary lifestyles. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.

      If you feel like sitting back on the couch, get up and move instead. Or – if you want to kill two birds with one stone, watch TV while exercising. Even if you can’t get out of your house to the gym, jump rope during commercial breaks or do some jumping jacks. Get your heart pumping and the blood flowing.

      Now we know what we all suspected – that Jersey Shore is, in fact, deadly. Looks like we’ve got ourselves “a situation”.

      Overcoming Procrastination: 6 Tips for Distracted Exercisers.

      “Procrastination is like a credit card: It’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.”
      – Christopher Parker

      Here’s something for you to chew on: A survey by H&R Block found that tax procrastinators overpaid their taxes by an average of $400 due to rushing-related errors. That’s more than $473 million in just one year.

      Now imagine the cost of procrastination when it comes to health and fitness. Image the diabetes, weight-related ailments and heart disease that could be avoided if people took the initiative; no doubt $473 million pales in comparison.

      So, how do we kick our procrastinating ways and get off our butts? Here are a few tips to help you manage your procrastination:

      1. Assess what it is about exercising that’s holding you back. You need to identify the problem to solve it. If, for example, you feel that you don’t know enough to workout, get a trainer or start educating yourself. If you think the gym is boring, buy an iPod or join a gym with televisions. If you don’t have transportation, download some home workouts.
      2. Ask yourself: “Am I happier with more of the same – or would I be happier if I was healthier and stronger?”
      3. Be realistic about the commitment. Getting into shape seems like a daunting task – and yes, it will take many hours of exercise to get there. But really, when broken down over the course of months, it really may only amount to 30 minutes a day, three days a week. Doesn’t that seem so much more doable?
      4. Realize that procrastination is a choice. You can choose to distract yourself – or you can choose to jump right in and create attain your fitness goals.
      5. Reward yourself. If you fall off the bus or skip a few days, don’t beat yourself up. But if you stick to your workout schedule, reward yourself with something nice – a good dinner, a movie, a new pair of shoes. Positive reinforcement works!
      6. Stop worrying about failure. A lot of people don’t work out because they’re afraid that they won’t reach their goals. The truth is, you may not reach all of your goals – though I’d hardly consider this failure. Doing the best you can will certainly feel better than doing nothing at all.

      Do you procrastinate when it comes to working out? If so, how do you distract yourself? It better not be with my blog. ๐Ÿ˜›