Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Pre-Diabetic Diet

On the verge of diabetes? Eat right to keep it at bay.

When type 2 diabetes sets in, you can expect a life full of tedious and exact portion control, medications, blood tests, and injections. But what if you could catch diabetes before it ever set in, and thereby avoid all of these potential problems?
Thanks to a diagnosis of pre-diabetes, you can. If you're willing to change your diet.

Know the Numbers

With pre-diabetes, your fasting blood sugar level (level of sugar in your blood) is between 100 and 125 mg/dl. These measurements butt up right against the 126 mg/dl that indicates you're diabetic, and if you don't make some lifestyle changes, you can easily enter the land of diabetes. By watching what you eat, you can actually lower your blood sugar levels, preventing pre-diabetes from turning into type 2 diabetes.
Ready to sidestep diabetes by what you put in your mouth? Then sit down and take notes on your new diet plan.

Eat Less

If you're overweight and have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, your first step toward a healthier diet that can reduce your risk for diabetes is to lose weight. The best way to do that is to look at how much you eat every day. Spend time eating out of boredom? You can't do that any more. If you're going to fight off diabetes, you're going to have to eat for energy. That means listening to your stomach and only eating when you're hungry and stopping when you're full. A few easy tips to help you do this include drinking a glass of water before each meal, going to bed earlier (this will prevent unhealthy late-night snacking), and chewing your food well and slowly.

Eat Better

Now that you're eating less food each day, you'll need to eat the right kinds of foods if you really want to help your blood sugar. Instead of greasy, fatty foods, go for something a little healthier. This means grilled or broiled instead of fried food, more fruits and vegetables, and leaner cuts of meat. It also means saying no on occasion, but there is good news about your sweet tooth.

Choose Wisely

While you don't want to stock up on cookies and cakes, you don't have to mark them off your list altogether either. With pre-diabetes, the secret to success is moderation and being choosy. That means only having a small slice of cake during very special occasions. And instead of going back for seconds, relish in the piece you had and enjoy it so much that you don't need a second piece.

Choose Daily

In addition to choosing which sweets to eat and when, you've got to make other dietary decisions on a daily or even hourly basis. Should you go with chicken or a hamburger? Baked beans or a salad? Find out what is in different dishes and opt for the option that has less sugar, fat, and calories. Low-fat, low-calorie options not look too appetizing? Then go for the hamburger. But only eat half of it and skip the fries. Tomorrow, give the chicken a try. Or better yet, give up meat one day a week and focus on getting more fruits and vegetables.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Suicide by Cigarette R.I.P. Dad

November 16, 1991 5am "David! David! Wake up!  Something's wrong with your father!"
Little did I know that my life would be forever changed that morning 20 years ago to the day. 

I've been going back and forth in my mind for months about doing this post.  Then today came without much pomp and circumstance and I decided that I wasn't going to talk about it.  It's something I've discussed privately or in 1 on 1 conversations in the past and honestly I'm fairly comfortable with it, I've just never really felt compelled to discuss it in a public forum. Then I taught my usual Wednesday night bootcamp class and somehow in the course of conversation it came up that one of my bootcampers lost her mother when she was 13 years old of the same cause.  We ended up having a nice conversation about our experiences.  I will spare you all the details; surely I have enough of a life story to write a full chapter, maybe even a book and if you know me at all, to say i'm long-winded is an understatement!

That fateful day my father passed away at the age of 46.  The Cause?  Acute Myocardial Infarction aka Heart Attack. I'm writing to you today not to seek your sympathy nor to gain any closure for myself, I've long since come to terms with it.  I'm writing in hopes that maybe, just maybe I can get through to one person out there who is living a lifestyle like my father was.  See my dad did just about everything wrong.  He wasn't an incredibly unhealthy looking man on the surface.  6'2 maybe around 280lbs at his heaviest.  If you know me, my dad was built similarly.  Massive calf muscles, big strong legs and massive arms.  My dad was a mechanic and I remember him carrying rear axles of trucks around the yard like it was a tiny barbell!  He definitely had a bit of a belly but far less than many of my others friends dad's had.  He was just a big, strong man.  A big strong man with a cigarette habit that ranged from a pack at it's best (that was rare) to 3 packs a day at it's worst (worst was probably closer to the norm).  A big strong man with high blood pressure.   A big strong man on several medications including nitroglycerin for his Angina.  I remember my dad going to doctors visits when I was a kid and he would come home saying the same thing "Doc says I need to eat better, quit smoking, and exercise"  He never did.  " I have the duCille knees, I can't exercise" he would say referencing the knee replacement that he, my grandmother and his sister (my Auntie Ann) had.  The sad thing is that he never even truly ATTEMPTED to make any changes.  I remember once or twice he came home with nicorette gum and it would just go in the cabinet (I think me and my preteen friends probably stole it and chewed it but thats another story! lol!)  He never even attempted the basic diet programs the doctors recommended.  Before I continue, I want you to stop and understand what a 3 pack a day cigarette habit is:

20 cigarettes in a pack x 3 packs = 60 cigarettes a day.  24 hours a day- 6 hours spent sleeping =18 hours awake  60 cigarettes/18 hours =  3 1/3 cigarettes per hour or 1 cigarette every 18 minutes.  Spend 3 minutes smoking a cigarette, wait 15 minutes.  Do it again.  Continue until death.  Suicide by Cigarette.

In my line of work, I deal with people with all sorts of issues.  I pride myself on looking at EVERY client individually and focusing on their specific needs.  I never try to force my notions of the perfect body or lifestyle on anyone, it's just not feasible.  But please, if you are a cigarette smoker I beg you, STOP.  Plain and simple.  I don't care if you gain 50 lbs as a result of quitting (weight gain is a common and legitimate side effect of quitting); that 50 extra pounds is nowhere near as damaging to your health as those cigarettes.  
It's a nasty habit, it's not easy to do but there is help available.

My father left behind a sister, brother, 2 sons, 2 daughters, and in a cruel twist of fate was set to remarry the very day of his heart attack.  He never saw me graduate high school or college.  He's missed out on 7 awesome grandkids.  He's missed out on opportunities to make amends for his other past failings.  The way I see it, the only thing my dad did quit on was life.  He kinda got the easy way out while others had to live with the harsh realities of his mistakes.
I'm sorry for this very disjointed rough draft of a blog post, just wrote it down off the cuff but I think the message is too important to be left unsaid.  In this media driven age we live in we have unprecedented access to help.  Don't be afraid to ask for help.  By my own admission I am TERRIBLE at asking for help.  I had to be independent from a young age and I'm used to getting through things on my own but trust me, whatever you are going through, others have been through it already and no matter how helpless you may feel, there is help out there.

Monday, November 7, 2011

POP! Goes the ACL!

A relatively common athletic injury, a torn ACL can put an abrupt end to your athletic endeavors for this season and possibly the next.

Commonly referred to as the ACL, your anterior cruciate ligament is found inside your knees and connects your thighbone (femur) to your shinbone (tibia). When this tissue is torn, you become the victim of an ACL injury. While they can occur at nearly any time, ACL injuries typically come about while playing sports that require sudden stops, pivots, and direction changes such as soccer, basketball, football, and tennis. Your highest risk for ACL injury is when your foot is firm on the ground as your knee sharply twists to one side or your knee takes a direct hit from someone else's knee, a goal post, or another hard object.
Following an ACL injury, you may be able to perform normal activities, but returning to a sport may require surgery. And after your surgery, it can take up to nine months for your ACL injury to heal completely.
So how do you know if you've torn your ACL, how to you treat it, and can an ACL injury be prevented?

The Painful Pop!

You may hear a loud popping sound in your knee when your ACL tears. The pain and swelling that follows can be just as severe as the sound is loud. You may feel like your knee is giving out when you try to bear any weight on your leg, making it difficult to walk.
If you suspect an ACL injury, an immediate trip to your doctor is recommended.
Your doctor may be able to diagnose your injury with only a physical examination, but you should be prepared for a variety of tests to determine the severity of the injury and to rule out other possible causes for the pain and swelling. An X-ray will show if any nearby bones are fractured; an MRI will determine the extent of the injury and whether any other areas are torn or damaged; and an ultrasound can locate other injuries in the ligaments, muscles, and tendons in your knee. In the event your doctor needs a better look, you may require arthroscopy. With this minimally invasive procedure, a tiny scope is inserted into your knee through a small incision, giving your physician a clear view of the damage and even allowing repair on the spot.
Surgery or No Surgery?
How bad is the tear? Do you really want to play your sport again? Answers to these questions will determine whether surgery is necessary to replace your torn ligament. Initial treatment focuses on reducing pain and swelling and starts with good-old RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Whether or not you undergo surgery, your muscles will need rehabilitation therapy and strength training exercises to regain their normal range of motion and abilities.
Surgery to repair a torn ACL is usually performed arthroscopically, your damaged ligament being completely replaced with an uninjured tendon in your leg. Occasionally, internal bleeding accompanies an ACL injury. To correct this problem, a needle is inserted in the knee and excess fluid is removed.
Stay Away!
Sounds bad, doesn't it? Fortunately, you can reduce your risk of an ACL injury by following some basic tips on conditioning and proper technique. Strength and stability exercises, plyometric exercises, being in good aerobic shape, jump training, and being aware of ACL injury risks will reduce your chance for injury.
If you participate in a sport that requires frequent jumping, learn how to land in a safe manner and don't land with one or both knees pointed inward. And while it may help in other ways, wearing a knee brace won't prevent an ACL injury.