Pump It Up! Boost Your Metabolism

If you’re like many of my patients, you may be struggling with a “slow” metabolism.  It may feel like no matter what you do, you just can’t get the pounds to come off.  If this sounds familiar, you’re certainly not alone!  Here are some suggestions of how to boost your metabolism.

1.  Exercise is the fastest way to boost your metabolism.  There are three major forms of exercise:

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CARDIO:  walking, jogging, swimming, cross-country skiing.  Cardio means exercising at about 60% of max intensity for 30 minutes or more.  Cardio burns calories while you’re exercising and the boost to the calorie burn rate lasts for about 24 hours afterwards.

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RESISTANCE TRAINING:  This is typical “weightlifting” but also refers to some kinds of calisthenics that use your own bodyweight as resistance.  Crunches, squats, pushups and chin-ups are examples of bodyweight resistance exercises.  These exercises build muscle tissue.  Muscle burns 50 calories daily whether you use it or not.  Building new muscle is a very effective way to boost your metabolism for the long term.

Fitness Using an Exercise Ball

HIGH-INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING:  There are many popular HIIT programs available.  The essence of HIIT is that you do short bursts (20-30 seconds) of exercise as hard and fast as you possibly can do it, then have a short rest, then repeat.  The number of reps, the number of sets, and the types of exercises vary from program to program.  Some use hand weights as well.  There is evidence that HIIT is more effective at boosting the metabolism, building muscle and promoting weight loss than either traditional weightlifting or cardio exercise.  My favorite HIIT (the one that I use personally) is BurstClub.  Go check it out, there’s a free workout available on the website.

2.  DON’T cut calories too far!  A healthy rate of weight loss is 1 pound of fat per week.  One pound of fat is 4000 calories.  To lose a pound of fat per week you must burn 500 calories EVERY DAY more than you eat.  I can hear you now:  “So if I burn 1000 calories more, I’ll lose 2 pounds per week, right?”  Yes, but most people hit metabolic hibernation at 1200 calories per day or so.  (It’s different for different people.)  If you cut calories TOO far your metabolism will drop to keep you from starving to death.  You’ll know if that happens:  you’ll feel tired, and cold, and weight loss will stop.

Remember your body evolved to survive an ice age, with long periods of scarce food.  You CAN starve it into submission but you won’t be happy and you won’t feel good.  Slow and steady is the name of the game.  This is a marathon, not a sprint, and you’re building good habits for the rest of your life.  Please use this calculator to estimate how many calories you need per day.

3.  Okay, so now you’ve lost a few pounds, and it’s getting harder to lose more.  Or worse, you’re seeing the pounds come BACK!  Yikes!  Sound familiar?  How do you keep your metabolism from dropping?  Check up above again:  Muscle burns calories.  If you lose muscle as you lose weight, you lose the capacity to burn calories as easily.

Studies have shown that the average person who loses weight loses 40% of that weight as MUSCLE.  Do the math:  if you lose 10 pounds, and 4 pounds of that weight is muscle, and muscle burns 50 calories per day at rest, that’s 200 calories per day that your body doesn’t burn anymore.  Your metabolism has gone down!

There are a few ways to keep from losing muscle.  You should do some resistance training to protect the muscles you have and build more.  In addition, the Shaklee 180 weight loss program includes meal-replacement products that are enriched with leucine, an amino acid that protects against losing muscle.  Check here for more information about Shaklee 180.

All my female readers out there of a certain age may have noticed that it’s getting harder to lose weight and keep it off.  After menopause, a woman loses her estrogen supply.  Estrogen and testosterone both help preserve muscle mass, and losing the estrogen makes it easier to lose muscle.  Muscle is metabolism, so women after menopause really NEED to engage in resistance training or HIIT.  Not only will resistance training help keep your metabolism up, but it is good for your bone strength too.

Losing weight and keeping it off is one of the toughest challenges out there.  It truly requires some patience, perseverance and mental toughness.  I’m here to help in any way I can!

Question:  What’s your favorite exercise?  Comment below!

 

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5 Common Foot Problems – When NOT To Try It At Home

Today is our FIRST EVER guest blog!  My colleague and friend Dr. Ara Kallibjian, who is a very fine podiatrist practicing in Parma, kindly agreed to share some thoughts about common foot problems.  Podiatrists are surgical specialists who only treat problems below the knee.  Take it away, Dr. K!

Every local drugstore has aisles of “do-it-yourself” medical fixes. For your feet they have blister and corn pads, insoles, fungus sprays, and nail clippers. So when you have foot and ankle problems, how do you know when to deal with them at home using over-the-counter (OTC) products?  When should you see the podiatrist?

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BLISTERS:  Blisters on your feet can often be handled at home without professional intervention. If the blister pops, cover it with a sterile dressing or Band-aid and watch it carefully to make sure it heals properly.

INGROWN TOENAILS:  If you suspect that you have an ingrown nail, it is best NOT to use OTC products. See your podiatrist as soon as possible to avoid the possibility of infection. The doctor can safely remove the ingrown nail and may be able to alleviate the problem entirely for the future.

PLANTAR WARTS:  OTC wart removal medication is relatively mild but can cause skin sores if left on too long. The podiatrist has more effective medications and can also do simple procedures to rid you of warts. Wart removers should never be used if you have neuropathy except under the supervision of a podiatric physician.

TOENAIL FUNGUS:  There are numerous blogs and articles about treating onychomycosis (fungal nails) and warts with Vicks VapoRub, duct tape, bleach, white vinegar, and other household items.  However there are no scientific data or evidenced-based research studies to support these treatment options.

SPRAINED ANKLES:  Sprains and strains can be treated at home initially with the “RICE treatment” – rest, ice, compression, and elevation. If swelling is persistent, a visit to the podiatrist’s office is in order to determine if there are any broken bones.

NAIL CARE:  (editor’s note, LOL!)  Yes, ordinarily you can trim your own nails, but if you’re diabetic you should be super-careful.  I tell people all the time that diabetic neuropathy (loss of feeling) starts very slowly and can be hard to spot at first.  Your big toe is as far away from your eyeballs as you can get!  Trimming your own toenails can be tough and if you cut yourself you might not realize it.  Having someone else (like a podiatrist!) safely cut your nails is a wise choice and is covered by insurance (including Medicare) if you’re diabetic.

Occasionally, home remedies can cause a new problem or make existing problems worse, so use them all in moderation. Anyone with diabetes or peripheral vascular disease (PVD) who has foot and ankle problems should always opt to visit the podiatrist for even minor concerns. People who do not have diabetes or PVD should also be wary of pain, color changes, drainage, swelling, heat, or open areas in or on any part of the foot or ankle. These signs warrant a professional’s experience in dealing with the problem.

Thanks so much Dr. K!  Anybody with new or persistent foot and ankle problems would be wise to give him a call at 440-743-2525.  His staff is very helpful and friendly, and Dr. Kallibjian is an absolute bulldog about getting foot problems healed quickly.

Question:  Have you seen a podiatrist in the past, and what was your experience like?

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What’s A Mom Worth?

Have you ever thought about how much your Mom is worth?  More importantly, do you know what YOU are worth if you’re a Mom?  Well, I went to Craigslist to find out.

1.  Housekeeper – $10/hour.  I’d guess most Moms spend at least 10 hours/week cleaning up after their families.  So $100/week.

2.  Chauffeur – seems to be a closely guarded secret, but I saw one ad offering $10-$12/hour.  If you drive your kids to and from school, estimate 30 minutes per trip, say 5 hours/week.  $50/week.

3.  Babysitter – now you don’t babysit your OWN kids but if both parents work you sure have to get somebody to watch them.  Before-and-after school daycare for school-age kids averages $100/week per child.  Average 2 kids per family.  $200/week.  (Much more for younger kids.)

4.  Chef – also seems to be a secret, but line cooks seem to make about $10/hour plus tips (sometimes).  Preparing meals for my family would take 5-10 hours/week (if we didn’t eat out, LOL).  Say $75/week.

5.  Laundry – $11/hour in ONE posting.  Washing, drying, folding and putting away for a family of four probably takes 2-3 hours/week, say $25/week.

6.  Miscellaneous – Coach, cheerleader, counselor, teacher, nurse, alarm clock, and general kick-in-the-butt-provider must be worth at least another $50/week!

Add all this up and you get $500/week (at least!) of work performed.  If Mom works outside the home, then I bet a good chunk of this work gets done by Dad.  (However, he has his OWN special day coming up next month, so he has to be patient!)

Mom is pretty valuable, huh?  I haven’t even mentioned all the stuff that moms do that isn’t covered by the above categories.  Seasonal work like landscaping and snow removal.  Wardrobe consultant.  Dance partner.  Teether (for those with babies in the gnawing-on-a-thumb stage).  Breastmilk supplier.  Hug dispenser.

Is it any wonder moms get tired?  One of the most common complaints Moms come to see me about is fatigue.  They are worn down with all the tasks they do for their families.  It’s hard for them to ask for help, so they keep pushing and pushing until they are exhausted, get sick, or get depressed.  Depression is probably the second most common problem I see in young moms.  The stress of juggling everything, plus not having enough time for themselves, gets to them after awhile.

Having a strong self-care routine is critical for Moms.  Exercising regularly releases endorphins which are feel-good hormones in the brain that fight stress and depression.  Eating right and taking a high-quality multivitamin keeps your body strong and healthy.  Regular date nights help keep your relationship with your mate strong and healthy too.  Getting good sleep keeps you energized all day long.  Doing things you enjoy, with grown-up friends, keeps you plugged into the grown-up world.

Since we’ve established that Moms are worth an awful lot, it makes sense to invest in Mom’s health and well-being.  For Mother’s Day, why not encourage Mom to take some time off?  Treat her to a coupon for a spa day.  Plan a weekend away or a night out with friends.  If you know Mom is struggling with fatigue, encourage her to get a checkup with her doctor.  Invest in some high-quality vitamin supplements for her.  Remember, she’s a valuable member of your team and deserves some TLC!

Most of all, make sure that you let her know often how much you appreciate her.  If you can, please call and talk to your Mom this weekend and thank her for everything she’s done and continues to do for you.  No matter how old we get, we’ll always need our Mom!

Question – Do you think my estimate of $500/week for “Mom-ing” is too low or too high?  Comment below!

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3 Ways To Rock Your Menopause

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If you are or you know someone who is dealing with menopause, raise your hand.

I get asked a lot about menopause symptoms and I pretty much give the same answer:  There are three ways to handle it.  Enjoy it, ease it with nonhormonal remedies, or go for the big guns.

1.  First of all I want to remind you all that menopause is NOT a disease.  A woman’s ovaries are SUPPOSED to go on permanent vacation at about age 51.  Face it, they’ve worked nonstop for the last 35-40 years, producing hormones and eggs and we-don’t-even-know-what-else!  They deserve a little R&R.  Just because YOU’RE addicted to estrogen isn’t their fault!

Seriously folks, remembering that menopause is normal and natural and generally doesn’t cause problematic symptoms for the rest of a woman’s life often goes a long way toward making it more bearable.  Being afraid of it or worrying about it can make it worse.

I generally encourage women to look on the bright side and work to find the positive in any situation.  The obvious (and often-quoted) statement that getting older beats the alternative comes to mind.

Here are 3 reasons why it’s awesome to reach menopause:

  • No more periods!  Hooray!  All you women who are approaching menopause and upset about not getting your period anymore, raise your hands.  **cricket, cricket**  Nope.  Didn’t think so.
  • No more birth control!  Double hooray!  Now sex comes without the scramble for condoms or two weeks of wondering if you might be pregnant.
  • You’re not exactly in the “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple” category but age does have some benefits.  By the time a woman reaches menopause she has generally gathered experiences to help her put things in perspective.  And it’s fun not to care so much what others think of us!

There are some behavioral approaches to managing menopause symptoms that can be very effective.  Avoiding hot-flash triggers like heat, caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, smoking and stress can help.  Keeping your bedroom cool can decrease the sleep trouble and night sweats.  Exercise decreases symptoms too, possibly by helping decrease stress.  Eating soy foods may be helpful.

2.  There are a number of nonhormonal therapies that can reduce the symptoms of menopause.  Many antidepressants like Paxil decrease the hot flashes, insomnia and irritability that can come with menopause.

For some reason Shaklee’s multivitamin for women at and past menopause, Vita Lea Gold, reduces hot flashes more often than not.  I think it has something to do with the antioxidant in it, N-acetylcysteine.  It works often enough that I don’t think it’s coincidence but I don’t have any scientific evidence to back it up.  I’m firmly of the belief that everyone should take a multivitamin, so I think it’s a good approach.

There is also some evidence that black cohosh helps with hot flashes.  There are many brands out there but I recommend Menopause Balance Complex from Shaklee.  If anybody wonders why I work with, promote and personally use Shaklee products, please check here.

3.  If you are miserable and behavioral techniques and supplements aren’t helping, you should talk to your doctor about hormone replacement therapy (HRT).  There are various forms (creams, patches and pills) and the right one for you would depend on exactly what symptoms are most bothersome for you.  Be prepared though:  a good and careful doctor will want to put you on the lowest dose that makes your worst symptoms tolerable, then get you off HRT as soon as possible.  This is because HRT increases the risk of blood clots, heart disease, stroke and breast cancer.  Only you and your doctor can decide if the risks of HRT are worth the benefit of reducing your menopause symptoms.

After all, you want to be able to enjoy this time of your life.  Grown kids and/or grandkids, hopefully a growing retirement portfolio and more financial freedom, and the opportunity to explore new interests shouldn’t have to take a backseat to poor sleep, irritability and embarrassing hot flashes.  I hope some of the suggestions here are helpful!

Question:  What is the one thing about menopause that you LEAST expected to have to deal with?

“It is not good to cross the bridge before you get to it.”  Judi Dench

“Being me right now is sort of amazing.”  Helen Mirren

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