Fitness News & Views

A Publication of Graham Fitness

Jan 15, 2015

1 Corinthians 6: 19-20


Happy New Year!


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 them.


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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Do you suffer with lower back pain? Would you spend $499 to get permanent relief? In one week, you will begin getting relief. In five weeks, you will be pain free.


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The program consists of 3 simple relaxing exercises you do on your own every day for a month. In addition you will work with me two days a week for five weeks - 10 sessions in all. After that, if you continue doing the 3 simple exercises three days a week on your own, you will not experience any more back pain. To set up a free, no-obligation consultation, give me a call at 803-447-8557 or email me at



            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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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 healthier.
  8. 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?
  9. 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.
  10. 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:

  • The 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 run.
  • Dress 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.
  • There 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 longer.

            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 - fat.

            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.

        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 gnawing hunger.

            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
Phone: 781-2281

The Harbison Rec Center offers more facilities for less money than anywhere else in town These are just some of the features: a new weight room with all new machines, free weights, treadmills, ellipticals, and stationary bikes; a 25 meter junior Olympic size indoor heated swimming pool; sauna; whirlpool; racquet ball and tennis courts; a basketball gym; and miles of traffic-free trails for walking or jogging. There are classes for seniors as well as summer camp and after school programs for kids. Also newly remodeled locker rooms and an all-purpose room for large gatherings. All for only $315 a year for singles or $600 a year for families Check out their website:

Wolf's Fitness Center
5432 August Road
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Phone: 356-6400

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 cardio theater. Other amenities include an indoor walking/running track, sauna, child care facilities with an attendant, tanning beds, clean locker rooms and showers, and sports supplements. Prices are very reasonable and there are no enrollment fees ever. Wolf's also offers a full slate of fitness classes including kickboxing and pilates, as well as spinning classes. Check out their website, for rates and specials.



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