I know I'm two
weeks late with my wishes of a Happy New Year for you, but there are
still 50 weeks left in the year, and I hope that they are happy ones.
I hope you will make the most of each day, because each day is a
blessing. You get 24 hours - 1440 minutes - to do what you can with
You can spend
that time spreading joy or gloom, learning new things or regressing
mentally, serving or demanding to be served. It's really up to each
of us to craft our own happiness.
The world won't
experience peace this year. Politicians won't suddenly decide they
should work together for the good of the country. Terrorists won't
lay down their bombs. Good people will die at the hands of bad
people. There will be natural disasters that will destroy property
and lives, and we will all ask why it is so.
But for most of
us, life will be good. We'll have problems for sure. We'll make poor
decisions from time to time, and we may even shed a few tears, but
for most of us, these will be diversions. Life is generally good -
for most of us.
Help where you
can. Pray for those you can't help. Love your family. Spend time with
your friends. And thank God for his unwavering love for you.
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Since this is the first newsletter of the New Year, it's time for the
obligatory article on New Year's Resolutions. I've scoured the web
for a list of the Top 10 Most Popular Resolutions for the coming
year. Here they are with my own comments and observations added:
- Spend more time with family
and friends. This is the top resolution.
Just last night before I'd seen this list, I told my wife,
Michelle, that I thought we should try to spend more time with
friends this year instead of sitting at home on weekends and
watching TV. Of course, that will be harder to do when baseball
season starts, and I'm watching my Pirates every night.
- Start exercising.
Regular exercise has been associated with more health benefits
than anything else you can do. If you are not exercising now,
you need to start. I made this resolution 37 years ago, and I'm
still at it. If you need some help and motivation, give me a
call. I am a personal trainer, you know.
- Lose weight. With
over two-thirds of the population overweight, it's not
surprising this is so high on the list. Losing weight is not
easy. It requires you to alter your eating habits in some way,
because when it comes to weight loss, you cannot exercise enough
to overcome bad eating habits. I can help you with this too. I
am a Certified Nutrition Specialist, you know.
- Quit smoking. If
you are a smoker, you need to stop. How's that for a news flash.
You can do it. I stopped smoking on January 2, 1978, and I was a
3 pack a day smoker.
- Enjoy life more.
Think of the odds against you even being alive. Think of all the
events that had to happen exactly as they did for you to be
here. What a blessing to be you! You've only got a short time
here, and it's such a waste if you don't enjoy it.
- Quit drinking. If
drinking is getting in the way of your work or family, you
probably need to make this resolution. I stopped drinking 37
years ago, because drinking was dominating a good part of my
life. I don't miss it.
- Get out of debt. Debt
causes stress, and stress is bad for your health, so getting out
of debt, or at least getting a handle on it, will make you
- Learn something new. The
best way to keep your mind sharp as you age is to learn new
skills, such as playing a musical instrument or learning a new
language. If you're my age and you've got the time, you can
audit any class at any university for free. Why not avail
yourself of this opportunity?
- Help others.
Volunteer to help somewhere. You'll bless others and it will
make you feel really good. If you are having trouble enjoying
life (number 5 on this list), try helping others.
- Get organized. I
think I'm a pretty organized guy until I look at my file
cabinets. Maybe this year, I can tackle them.
January and February are the coldest months in South Carolina, and
almost anywhere else in the northern hemisphere, I suppose.
Fortunately, here in God's country, the daytime temperatures are
generally in the 50's and the nighttime lows in the 30's. But
occasionally, we will get a cold front that sends the temperatures
plummeting. If you are like me, you prefer running outside no matter
what the weather. Cold weather running requires dressing properly
however. So here are some tips to help you:
first rule is to wear a hat and gloves. When running in cold
weather, you lose about 50 percent of your heat through the
top of your head. A warm hat that covers the ears prevents
most of that heat escaping. You need
gloves because blood is diverted from your hands to your internal
organs to keep them protected and warm. Cold hands can ruin a
in layers and wear water wicking clothing. Avoid cotton
clothing, because cotton absorbs moisture and will make you
colder as you sweat. You can run in shorts when the
temperature is in the 40's and 50's, but when it's colder than
that, it's a good idea to cover exposed skin except on the
face. If you are running in near zero temps, you should cover
your face as well. That's what ski masks are for.
is a myth that if the air is too cold, you can freeze your
lungs by breathing the cold air into them. You probably won't
freeze your lungs no matter how cold it gets, but if you want
to warm the air you're breathing, you can cover your mouth and
nose with a scarf or ski mask.
That's really all you need to know. Of course, if you don't like
running in the cold, well, that's why they invented treadmills.
The other day, I asked a client what topic she would like me to write
about in this newsletter, and she suggested an article on cortisol.
I've written about this before, and to me it's kind of a boring
topic, but since she asked maybe there are a few others of you who
would like to know more about the stress hormone cortisol.
Cortisol is released by the body when we are under stress, and it
makes us hungry. This all goes back to our hunter-gatherer days. When
our ancestors were out hunting their food, they would often face
danger. When that happened, the body released two hormones designed
to help immediately - adrenalin and CRH (corticotrophin releasing
hormone). These hormones actually decrease hunger and helped our
relatives face the danger head on or flee from it. Fighting and
fleeing both expend a great deal of energy and calories. That's where
cortisol comes in. After the danger had passed, the cortisol hormones
were released in the body, causing hunger which forced the hunters to
replenish the calories used during their recent encounter with
danger. While adrenalin and CRH are released immediately and
dissipate quickly, the cortisol hormones come later and last much
In our modern world, most of us don't face saber-toothed tigers very
often. Our stresses tend to be more mundane - unpaid bills, an
unhappy boss, a teenager. You get the picture. But even though the
stress inducers are different, the results are the same - the body
responds by releasing cortisol which causes hunger. Since dealing
with modern-day stresses doesn't burn many calories, when we eat to
quench the cortisol-induced hunger pangs, the excess calories
accumulate around our waists in the form of visceral adipose tissue -
So what can we do about this dilemma? The first and best thing you
can do to relieve stress is to exercise, but exercise has many other
advantages as well. It burns calories, and it also causes your body
to produce a cascade of biochemicals, and some of these negate the effects
of cortisol. So the next time you're under a lot of stress, go for a
walk or a jog.
Another suggestion is to eat a balanced diet and never skip meals.
This includes starting with breakfast, and most nutritionists still
suggest eating five or six small meals throughout the day, rather
than just three large ones.
I hope that covers the topic satisfactorily. I don't want to write
about this again.
Here's a quick tip that can help you begin losing weight right away.
I picked it up in my reading a while back. Try it and see if it helps
You can trick your brain into thinking you're full by having a little
fat 15 or 20 minutes before you are ready to eat a meal. The best way
to get this fat is from nuts, but it doesn't take many - about 6
whole walnuts or 12 halves, a dozen almonds, or around 20 peanuts.
Doing this stimulates the production of a hormone in your body that
signals your brain that you are not hungry. As a result, when you eat
your meal, you eat less because you won't be eating to satiate a
Walnuts are the best option, because they contain higher levels of
antioxidants than either almonds or peanuts. Antioxidants fight
cancer and keep your heart healthy among many other known benefits.
One of the best exercises in your arsenal is lat pulldowns. Lat
pulldowns are so named because they work the latissimus dorsi
muscles, or lats. These are the large muscles of the mid back that
give you that flared look when they are well developed.
A staple of every gym is a lat pulldown machine. It consists of a
long bar with angled ends attached to a cable which in turn is
attached to weight plates.
To use the machine properly, sit down and secure the pad over your
thighs to hold you in your seat throughout the exercise. Grab the bar
on the angled ends, making sure your hands are wider than your
shoulders. Lean back just far enough to pull the bar down
below your chin without hitting your head or nose with the bar. As
you pull the bar down, keep your abs tight as if someone were going
to hit you in the gut, and push your chest out toward the bar arching
your back slightly as you do. This forces your shoulder blades
together and gets the rhomboids and traps of your upper back
involved. Besides the lats, rhomboids, and traps, this exercise also
gives your biceps a good workout and to a lesser extent your triceps,
so this is an exercise you'll want to use regularly.
You can change this exercise slightly by using an underhand grip as
if you were doing a chin up. You'll place your hands closer together,
about shoulder width, but otherwise the exercise is performed the
same as the basic pulldown.
One word of caution: Don't pull the bar behind your neck. It
doesn't add any benefit to the exercise, and it puts a lot of
unnecessary stress on the shoulders. It also forces your spine out of
alignment as you thrust your head forward to allow for the bar.
Don't do this or any other exercise more than four to six weeks
before moving on to something new. Never allow your muscles to get
too used to any one routine. Good alternates for the lat pulldowns
are the seated rows and bent over rows with dumbbells.
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Harbison Recreation Center
106 Hillpine Road
Columbia, SC 29212
The Harbison Rec
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Wolf's Fitness Center
5432 August Road
Lexington, SC 29072
Wolf's is a total
fitness facility offering some great amenities. There's a huge weight room
featuring free weights and machines. There is a cardio area with
treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, stair steppers, and the
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amenities include an indoor walking/running track, sauna, child care
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of fitness classes including kickboxing and pilates, as well as spinning classes.
Check out their website, www.wolfsfitness.com for rates and