Thursday, April 25, 2013

Multi-tasking bad for brain and makes for less effective employees

I've had a hypothesis for years after reading a similar article to this one (see link) a few years back.  The hypothesis is that many adults who either are diagnosed or self diagnose themselves with Attention Deficit Disorder don't have a disorder - they simply have to multi-task too much in their jobs or they don't have to, but they do.  Think about how much better you perform and how many fewer errors you make when you are  have the time, focus, and lack of distractions and competing demands to work on one important project.  Baseball players aren't expected to hit and field at the same time, basketball players don't have to play offense and defense at the same time, etc.   Multi-tasking continues to be shown to be harmful to the human brain and there is a known correlation between how much workers multi-task and how ineffective and error-prone they are when performing their work.

See this article

Monday, April 8, 2013

Red Meat and Carnitine - creating TMAO - culprit in heart disease?

Thanks to both my Dad and my writing instructor David Morgan for sending me today's New York Times article entitled "Culprit in Heart Disease Goes Beyond Meat's Fat." 

In the article, Gina Kolata details a study led by Dr. Stanley Hazen of the Cleveland Clinic.  The researchers were testing a new hypothesis that the real culprit in meat that contributes to heart disease is a chemical (carnitine) "burped" out by bacteria in the intestines after people eat red meat that then is converted in by the liver into another chemical called TMAO that gets into the blood and increases the risk of heart disease. 

Interestingly, the researchers found that after eating red meat - the meat eaters in the study had a burst of TMAO in their blood but participating Vegans DID NOT.  Additional studies by the researchers further showed the nexus between TMAO and heart disease and that meat eaters have higher levels of TMAO in their blood than vegetarians and vegans.

The study is important because it indicates that the association between red meat consumption and heart disease is likely not just related to the levels of saturated fat and cholesterol in red meat but these chemicals and the physiological processes described above that convert one into another.  While also found in foods like fish, chicken, and even dairy products - red meat contains the largest quantities of carnitine.   

What surprised the researchers the most was that TMAO levels DID NOT surge after the participating VEGANS ate the red meat.   Virtually NO TMAO appeared in the vegans' blood after consuming the red meat. 

It's Not Rocket Science -- even the lead researcher Dr. Hazen has modified his own dietary habits such that he no longer eats 12 ounces of red meat several times a week.  Now he eats red meat only once every two weeks and has no more than 4 to 6 ounces at a time.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Compelling Information/Videos of former smoker Terrie (CDC) - message=DON'T SMOKE

I saw this CDC commercial tonight that, let me tell you, is so impactful about this lady's story that I felt compelled to just introduce it and include the link.  If this doesn't convince smokers NOT TO SMOKE, I doubt anything would or will.

CDC's Tips from Former Smokers (Terrie)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Stress and Weight/Ways to Reduce Stress

When it comes to weight loss - for the most part, It's Not Rocket Science.  Expend more calories than you consume.  It's not always that easy though.  A thyroid condition may significantly affect your metabolism, for instance.  Another factor may be the fact that you are stressed out and ineffectively managing stress.  There is a stress hormone, Cortisol, that can effect your weight.  If your body is constantly in a state of stress or you go through a period of ongoing stress, the continually elevated cortisol 1.) contributes to craving for high caloric and fatty and sugary foods, 2.) makes your body more resistant to insulin which then contributes to fat storage,  and 3.) contributes to fat being relocated from other areas of your body to your abdominal area.  There is also an enzyme called 11-beta-hydroxysteroid-dehydrogenase-1 or HSD that exists all throughout your body and converts an inactivive form of corisol (cortisone) back into cortisol (contributing to the higher abdominal fat buildup). 

There is really only one suggestion to try to keep your cortisol levels under control - figure out ways to keep your body from staying in a state of constant stress. 

1.  Don't sweat the Small Stuff - You really need to prioritize things and let other things go if they are stressing you out so much that your health is being negatively impacted.
2.  Get 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
3.  Breathe and laugh -  sounds like common sense but alot of folks forget.
4.  Realize that you can't do it all and don't be afraid to ask for help - you are no good to anyone if you're no longer around.
5.  Don't be so hard on yourself.
6.  Try things like meditation, yoga, and massage therapy.
7.  Have balance in your life.
8.  Know how to unwind/wind down/relax - it could be as easy as a hot bath or a glass of wine at night.
9.  Exercise - it helps lower cortisol levels.
10.  Eat a healthy diet.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Diabetes Alert Day (Today Tuesday March 26th)

What better day to make and follow some It's Not Rocket Science Resolutions than the American Diabetes Association's 25th annual Diabetes Alert Day - today Tuesday March 26th.  Today, the American Diabetes Association challenges everyone to take the Diabetes Risk Test at  It contains algorithms that will enable you to assess your risk for Type II Diabetes.  You can also participate in the test at or by calling 1-800-DIABETES.  If you don't get to it today, it will still be there tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that and so on.

Twenty-six million people have diabetes and 7 million of those don't even realize they have it. Studies show that Type II diabetes can be prevented or delayed by losing just 7 percent of bodyweight through regular physical activity (30 minutes a day for 5 days a week) and healthy eating. 

So, 1.) take the Diabetes Risk Test to know your risk and 2.) take care of yourself.  Have a great day. Remember, It's Not Rocket Science.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Brand new research on salt and sugary drinks (from Harvard)

Harvard scientists this week released research findings from the 2010 Global Burden of Diseases Study that included 303 medical institutions from 50 countries around the world.  Some of their significant findings included:

  • Eating too much salt lead to the deaths of 2.3 million people across the world in just 1 year.  Although the U.S. Government recommends a maximum of 2300 milligrams a day and the American Heart Association recommends no more than 1500 milligrams a day to avoid risk for heart disease and stroke, the researchers said that 1000 milligrams per day or less is optimal.  As noted in one of our chapters in It's Not Rocket Science: 52 Resolutions - the body needs FAR less salt than even that.  American Heart Association Surveys show that Americans average about 3,400 milligrams a day.
  • 60% of cardiovascular deaths linked to salt intake occurred in men and 40% in women.
  • Heart attacks were the cause of death in 40% of the sodium related deaths, stroke another 40% and other types of heart disease made up the rest.
  • About 40% of the deaths occurred in those under 69 years of age.
  • The United States' research showed 429 deaths per one million U.S. adults linked to eating too much salt - about 1 in 10 U.S. deaths.
Sugary Drinks

  • Drinking sugary drinks was linked to 180,000 obesity related deaths worldwide in 2010 including the deaths of about 25,000 Americans.
  • Overall, 1 in 100 deaths of obese people globally can be blamed on too many sweetened beverages.
  • Of the 2010 deaths linked to sugar sweetened soft drinks, fruit juices, or sports beverages - 132,000 deaths were from diabetes, 44,000 from cardiovascular disease, and 6,000 from Cancer
Kim and I have chapters in It's Not Rocket Science:  52 Resolutions on both of these topics.  For more, go to - buy the book and see Chapters 12, 14, and even 49.

On another note related to information in the public domain this week that we addressed in the book, April's Prevention Magazine features an article called "Meet Your Future" about telomeres - the topic of our book's chapter 29.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

New information about Alzheimer's and a great resource (Power Foods book)

A lot of new information about Alzheimer's Disease is out today -

  • It is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States and the 5th leading cause of death of people over 65 (and the only one of the leading killers to have no identified good treatment)
  • 1 in 3 Seniors dies with Alzheimer's or other types of dementia
  • Deaths from Alzheimer's Disease increased 68% between 2000 and 2010 (85,000 people died from it in 2011)
  • More than 5 million people have it (5.2)
  • 13.8 million people is a projected number of people who could have it by 2050 (1 in 85 people)
  • People who have Alzheimer's have a greatly increased risk of dying from it within 10 years (only 30 percent of 70 year olders who don't have it die before their 80th birthday but 61% of them are expected to die before 80 if they do have it  or some form of dementia) 
  • The health care costs of those with Alzheimer's was $200 billion last year and is expected to rise to $203 billion this year and $1.2 trillion by 2050
Sources:  Alzheimer's Association
                Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Alzheimer's is the fastest growing health threat in the United States according to a another study by researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Fortunately, there is a GREAT new book out by Dr. Neal Barnard ( called Power Foods For the Brain that contains all the most important research and studies and delivers a program to boost brain health, reduce the risk of Alzheimer's, stroke and other less serious brain malfunctions.  Barnard, the founder and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, lays out a 3 step plan to protect your mind and strengthen your memory.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Consumption of Fatty Dairy Products Linked to Early Cancer Death

Kaiser Permanente researchers just released results of the first study to look at differences in the effects of the consumption of high fat versus low fat dairy products on life span after a breast cancer diagnosis.  Here is the link:

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Protein for Vegetarians/Vegans

The question that I always get asked when the topic arises that I am a vegetarian is - "How do you get the necessary protein?"  Well, the recommended daily allowance for protein is between .36 to .45 grams of protein per pound of body weight.  So, for example, for me that equates to between 78 and 97 grams of protein per day.  The top sources of protein for vegan vegetarians are:

1.  Vegetables (particularly avocados, broccoli, spinach, kale, peas, sweet potatoes, french beans, asparagus, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, watercress, sweet corn, and artichokes) - Avocados are particularly high in protein.

2. Beans/Legumes - Soybeans (they make up tofu and tempeh) are loaded with protein but other sources that are high in protein are lentils, refried beans, garbanzo beans/hummus, pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans and peanuts (which are actually a legume and not a nut.)

3.  Nuts/Seeds - Cashews, sesame seeds/tahini, walnuts, pistachios, almonds, the various nut butters, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and flax seed.

4.  Non-Dairy Milk like soy milk and almond milk.

5.  Grains - Quinoa is particularly high but amaranth, bulgur, brown rice, wheat germ, oat bran, oatmeal, and sprouted grain bread products are high also.

6.  Protein Powders - Hemp powder is a Vegan friendly protein powder that is very high in protein content.  There are others too but hemp powder is particularly high in protein.  The THC content of hemp powders is barely measurable.

Also, if you are a breakfast cereal eater like me - the leading source of protein that I have found among the cereal family is Kashi GoLean.  Special K Cereal Plus Protein is a close second in terms of well known cereals that are high in protein.

So after seeing the above list, It Does Not Take a Rocket Scientist to see that there are plenty of sources for adequate protein for vegetarians/vegans.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

National Nutrition Month - What does "Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day" mean to me?

Being that it is National Nutrition Month (,) I took the opportunity today to add the National Nutrition Month widget to this blog.  I am truly very happy that there is such a month and it is not just a day or a week but a full month.  The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals) asks us Bloggers to write a post about what it means to each of us to "Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day."

I have outlined alot of what it means to me in the e-book that I co-wrote with Kim Williams called It's Not Rocket Science:  52 Resolutions - a book available at our website ( - focusing on healthy resolutions (including 13 specifically on diet/nutrition and others in chapters on wellness and reversing aging and even some in the fitness chapters that focus on the importance of good nutrition.)  "Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day" to me means practicing what I preach and following the principles outlined in It's Not Rocket Science:  52 Resolutions. 

Some specific principles of "Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day" that I try to subscribe to and that I believe in are:

  • Follow at least a vegetarian and better yet, a vegan style vegetarian diet - avoiding all animal products
  • Keep your diet low-fat (total fat should between 20% and 35% of total daily calories, saturated fat should be 10% or lower of your total daily calories)
  • Keep your diet low in sugar intake (under 15 grams/daily)
  • Keep your diet low in sodium intake (less than 1500 mg/daily)
  • Get the following fluid intake a day -  91 to 95  ounces a day (women) and 125 to 135 ounces a day (men).  80% of fluid intake comes from drinking water and other fluids, 20% from food.  That being the case - that means women should get about 73 to 76 ounces of their total water intake from fluids each day and men 100 to 108 ounces.
  • Snack on things like fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds
It does not take a Rocket Scientist to know, even if you don't read the studies closely and only read the  major headlines, that proper NUTRITION is critical for overall health and wellness.  It can (and most certainly will) add years to your life and help you reverse certain diseases and avoid other ones.

Use National Nutrition Month to jump start your adoption of healthy (or healthier) eating habits.

Vegetarian and Vegan Diets Protect Against Cancer

See link

Sunday, March 10, 2013

World may be all vegetarian by 2050

You may have missed this story but the Stockholm (Sweden) International Water Institute last year (August 2012) said "there will not be enough water available on current croplands to produce food for the expected 9 billion population in 2050 if we follow current trends and changes toward diets common in western nations."  The report said that humans would have to cut from getting 20% of their daily protein from animal-based products to 5% by 2050 to accomodate water deficits. 
The scientists speculated that a shift toward vegetarian diets could help free up large portions of arable land to human food production.  Statistics show that a whole years worth of showers use about 5,200 gallons of water while it takes 5,214 gallons of water just to produce a single pound of beef. 

If this were to happen - it would be a dramatic shift in dietary habits for most people - but (as the research discussed in the book The China Study and the documentary Forks Over Knives proves) average lifepans would likely dramatically increase and the occurrence of major diseases such as Diabetes, Heart Disease and even Cancer would dramatically decrease.  Obesity percentages would plummet.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tame your sugar cravings

Trust me, I say the following from personal experience - limiting sugar intake may not be easy but it is critical.  It is my major WEAKNESS when it comes to diet/nutrition and I need to practice what I preach.  It is very important, if you have a sweet tooth, to tame your sugar cravings.  Fructose consumption should be kept down to between 15 to 25 grams a day.  I just read a great tip by Dr. Mercola which is that - the single most important physical step that the average American can take to improve your health would be to switch all your beverages to pure water.  Soda is loaded with sugar and switching to water will eliminate alot of your sugar intake.  Some other ways to reduce sugar are to

1.  Use stevia
2.  Use organic cane sugar
3.  Use organic raw honey
4.  AVOID all artificial sweeteners - they damage your health
5.  AVOID agave syrup

Remember that basically FRUCTOSE is converted into FAT.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Recommending a book/Reminder to EXERCISE

I am recommending a book - besides Kim's and my book (which by the way is called It's Not Rocket Science: 52 Resolutions - in case you haven't bought it at  The other book I am recommending is Main Street Vegan:  Everything You Need to Know to Eat Healthfully and Live Compassionately in the Real World by Victoria Moran.

Remember also that exercise not only helps you lose weight - it releases key anti-stress hormones and chemicals and will make you feel much better.  Occasionally, like this week, I get off the exercise track and consequently, feel awful.  Our bodies NEED exercise to not only burn calories but also to help us think clearly and combat stress.  Next time you have a choice between being a couch potato and going to exercise - choose to exercise.  You will not regret it!!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Breaking News: Mediterranean Diet and Heart Disease

A study was publicized today that suggests that about 30% of heart attacks, strokes, and deaths from heart disease can be prevented in people who are considered at high risk if they switch to a "Mediterranean Diet" - one rich in olive oil, nuts, beans, fruits and vegetables.  Published in the New England Journal of Medicine's website today (Monday February 25th), apparently the study ended early (after only 5 years) because the results were so clear that continuing it would have been unethical.  The researchers said that more research is needed to establish the diet's benefit for people at low risk.  The study's results immediately caused some critics to respond - Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and Dr. Dean Ornish among them.  Esselystn (of Forks Over Knives fame) promotes a vegan diet and does not recommend olive oil.  Dr. Ornish (promoter of a low fat diet) challenged the study's conclusions that it was more effective than a low-fat diet based on the study's methodology and control's group diet.  He also took exception with the statements that the diet reduced heart attacks, death from cardiovascular causes or death from any cause but did not challenge the conclusions about the Meditteranean Diet's effect on reducing strokes. 

While there are some definite distinctions between the Meditteranean Diet, Dr. Esselstyn's recommended diet and Dr. Ornish's diet including the fact that Esselstyn does not support consuming oils, Esselystn and Ornish promote vegan diets (whereas the Meditteranean diet allows eating eating fish, poultry, eggs, and cheese), and the Meditteranean Diet definitely includes the consumption of more fat than Ornish Diet - commonalities include heavy consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole foods and absolutely no red meat.  As the researchers who released the results of this study (suggesting the positive implications of following the Meditteranean Diet), Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. Ornish are all promoting some common dietary habits - whether you follow a Vegan Diet like Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. Ornish promote that is very low in fat or the Meditteranean Diet - either option is SIGNIFICANTLY healthier than the Western Diet (one that is high in saturated fats, red meats, junk food, and low in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, seafood and poultry).   

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Quote of the Day - from Ben Affleck

This may be one of the shortest posts I ever write on the Blog but Ben Affleck's comments tonight upon "Argo" receiving Best Picture inspired me to post it. 

"It doesn't matter how you get knocked down in life 'cause that's going to happen.  All that matters is that you gotta get up"

Thanks Ben and congrats to you and Argo.  Great lesson for everyone.  Whatever it is in in life that you're trying to do (lose 10 pounds or 100 pounds, beat an illness, win an Oscar, achieve a dream, etc.):

"It doesn't matter how you get knocked down in life 'cause that's going to happen. All that matters is that you gotta get up"

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Incredible Power of Blueberries

See It's Not Rocket Science: 52 Resolutions' Facebook page at  Today's tip (and incidentally, a resolution in the book - for which I've added the direct Amazon link to over in the links section) is to try to add blueberries to your diet this week. 

Blueberries are known for their antioxidant qualities and have been shown to lower high blood pressure.  We dedicate a whole resolution to blueberries in the book detailing even more of the incredible benefits of eating them.  This (and 51 other anti-aging and healthy living resolutions) await you in the book.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

It's Not Rocket Science: 52 Resolutions - available via Amazon Kindle Bookstore

It's Not Rocket Science: 52 Resolutions - the book that my friend and co-author Kim Williams and I wrote on reversing aging, getting healthy, and looking great - is now (as of today) for sale via Amazon in the Kindle Bookstore.  Here is the link is It's Not Rocket Science: 52 Resolutions (Kindle version at Amazon Kindle Bookstore)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Get in the FLOW!! - It Will Reduce Your Stress and Make You Look and Feel Younger

After a few days of intense work on the book, which as a reminder can be purchased at and now has a Facebook page too at, I'm back to the blogging.  It all reminds me of possibly my FAVORITE resolution in the book.  It is Resolution #9 and to read all about it, you have to buy the book, but essentially it advocates Doing What You Love and Loving What You Do!!

The stress and negative energy of working at a job that you dislike can kill you!! Only you can make a change, discover what you love, and pursue that passion with a vengeance.  It (finding what you love and making it not just your avocation but your vocation) actually has the effect of making you look and feel younger. It is that job where you look as forward to Monday morning as you do to any other day and time of the week (like some people look forward to Friday afternoon at 5 PM).  Some people were born to be police officers and that's their passion, others were put on this Earth to be artists or musicians or writers or caretakers of animals. Obviously, almost everyone has to pay the bills and be realistic and sometimes people don't  discover their true passions until later in life but as stated in the Resolution #9 chapter, "'s never too late to make a positive change in your occupation and/or vocation." Remember, life is short and the stress and unhappiness that result from working full-time in a job that you dislike can harm your health, raise your blood pressure and stress level, and basically - speed up the aging process.

I think I already knew it but the last year has really made me realize that my real passions are writing and exercise/sports.  Through writing It's Not Rocket Science: 52 Resolutions (the book), articles for, and this Blog - I feel younger and have found what it is that allows me to achieve "Flow."  Flow (proposed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) is a positive psychology concept that essentially is characterized by complete absorption in what one does.  It is the mental state of operation where a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.  You can read more about Csikszentmihalyi and Flow on the Internet and elsewhere but if you are able to find the activity that allows you to perform in Flow and also make a living doing it, you are lucky and and will have probably achieved Resolution #9 and are Doing What You Love and Loving What You Do.  Find the Flow!!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

It's Not Rocket Science: 52 Resolutions (The Book)

We beat the release date by a day.  It's here!  It's Not Rocket Science: 52 Resolutions (a book on reversing aging, getting healthy and looking fabulous) is on the market.  For only 4.99, you can buy the book at  It is currently available in PDF format.  Our website has a link to purchase the book.  My co-author and friend Kim Williams and I hope that you will purchase it and enjoy reading it as much as we have enjoyed preparing it for you.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Book Release

I have really exciting news - in a book that is line with the type of content and recommendations that I talk about on this Blog - my co-author Kim Williams and I will be releasing an e-book this weekend.  If you want to read more about easy tips to help you get and stay healthy, look great, and even slow and in some cases reverse the aging process (what is referred to as biological aging - meaning aging of your internal components) - look for more information this weekend when we go live with the website.

The website will contain a link to where you can buy the e-book on Amazon for Kindles and Kindle apps on your smart devices for only 4.99.

I'll post the website address when we go live.


"Survey Says.....- Plant-Based Diet beats the "Southern Diet" -- Researchers find strong nexus between DIET and STROKE

It's Not Rocket Science folks - and yet a major study is out today that says that people whose diets are heavy on deep-fried foods and sugary drinks like sweet tea and soda are more likely candidates for serious health consequences - in this case, a stroke.  In a federally funded study (funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, drugmaker Amgen, Inc. and General Mills Inc.) and presented at an American Stroke Assocation conference yesterday, University of Alabama researchers in what is being called the FIRST study completely isolated on diet and stroke found that people who ate about 6 meals a week featuring fried foods, processed meats, and sugary drinks had a 41 percent higher risk than people who ate that way only about once a month.  In contrast, people whose diets were high in FRUITS, VEGETABLES, and WHOLE GRAINS had a 29 percent lower risk.  Lead researcher Suzanne Judd said that "the message for people in the middle is that there's a graded risk" - meaning that the likelihood of suffering a stroke rises in proportion to each meal like this referred to as a "Southern Meal" in a week.

Interestingly, the study surveyed 20,000 people ages 45 and older from all 48 mainland states and sorted responses about diet into five diet styles.  Two of them were referred to as "Southern" and "Plant Based". 

Southern - Fried foods, processed meats (lunch meat, jerky), red meat, eggs, sweet drinks and whole mil

Plant-based - Fruits, Vegetables, Juice, Cereal, Fish, Poultry, yogurt, nuts, and whole grain bread

For 5 years of follow-ups after the survey, nearly 500 strokes in the respondents occurred.  Of the 5 diet styles, researchers only saw clear patterns with these two dietary styles (Southern and Plant-Based).  As mentioned above, 41% more strokes occurred in those who ate the highest amount of foods in the Souther Diet versus those occurring in the survey portion who ate the least amount of those types of food and 29% fewer strokes occurred in the the group of those who ate the highest amount of foods in the plant-based grouping compared with the people who seldom at that way.  Researchers say that the trends were completely independent of other risk factors for stroke.

One MORE reason to eat a diet that is highly plant-based and whole-food and stay away from those items in the "Southern" dietary style.  Again, I'm not a Rocket Scientist but the evidence is pretty clear - want to be healthier, live longer, and avoid being the sufferer of a significant negative health event like a stroke - eat healther!! 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Are you positive? You should be! It can help you live longer.

Positive thinking and a general sense of optimism is essential for stress management and can even improve your health.  Researchers have since 2000 concluded the following about the impact of optimism on health:

1.  There is a nexus between a more optimistic outlook and a lowered risk of heart disease in older men (Harvard, 2001)
2.  Optimistic women have less thickening of the carotid artery walls (University of Pittsburgh)
3.  A positive mental outlook is associated with reduced evidence of coronary heart disease and total mortality in postmenopausal women (Women's Health Initiative Study, 2009)

Conversely, research at the Mayo Clinic has shown that having a pessimistic view can increase the risk of mortality in patients by as much as 19%.

So have what's known as a PMA (Positive Mental Attitude).  Have a "glass half full" mentality, deal with what comes your way, and face challenges head on with an optimistic and upbeat approach.  You will not only more effectively be able to deal with the situation in the present but your future will be brighter (and longer).

Is Laughter "the Best Medicine"?

Research repeatedly shows that laughter is one of the best things you can do for your health.  Cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore (MD) found in 2005 that laughter is linked to healthy function of blood vessels. Using laughter provoking movies to gauge the effect of emotions on cardiovascular health, the researchers there showed for the first time that laughter causes the tissue that forms the inner lining of blood vessels, the endothelium, to dilate or expand in order to increase blood follow.  Studies had already showed that nexus between mental stress and the narrowing of blood vessels, a nexus confirmed by this research.  The 2005 research built on research by the same scientists about 5 years earlier that found that people with heart disease responded with less humor to everyday life situations than those with a normal cardiovascular system.  Dr. Michael Miller of the University of Maryland said "We know that exercising, not smoking and eating foods low in saturated fat will reduce the risk of heart disease. Perhaps regular, hearty laughter should be added to the list."

What other benefits are achieved by simply laughing?  Laughter burns calories, lowers blood pressure,  increases the flow of oxygen to your tissues, strengthens the immune system, decreases blood sugar levels in diabetics, helps with relaxation by relieving physical tension and stress, improves sleep, triggers the release of the feel-good chemicals known as endorphins even helping to relieve the discomfort of pain, increases memory and learning, and improves alertness and creativity.

So find what makes you laugh and partake more frequently in that activity.  Read joke books, comic strips, watch comedies on TV, go see the newest comedic release in the theaters, rent funny movies, or just spend time with good friends or family members who you know will make you laugh.

Don't be so serious!  Laugh a little!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Exercise Every Day/Read "Main Street Vegan" by Victoria Moran

This might be one of my shortest posts so far and ever (including the future) but I feel so strongly about these two that I don't want to bury the power of these two resolutions in a sea of other words:

1.  Exercise every day - choose something that you love doing and that makes you feel better and look better (for example, I love my rowing machine.  I can put on my headphones and listen to great music and go into a zone for at least 30 minutes while getting a great all body workout) and do it EVERY DAY.  It doesn't have to be the same thing but do something every day for at least 30 minutes.

2.  Pick up a copy of Victoria Moran's Main Street Vegan:  Everything You Need to Know to Eat Healthfully and Live Compassionately in the Real World.  Dr. Neal Barnard said that this book is "exactly the guide you need to make changing the menu effortless.  Victoria Moran covers every aspect of plant-based eating and cruelty-free living, with everything you need to make healthy changes stick."  This book follows the It's Not Rocket Science approach with its emphasis on practical "baby steps" and it includes GREAT recipes.  I bought a hard copy of it and LOVE THIS BOOK.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

20% Resolution/80% Execution

The Super Bowl kicks off in about an hour and I'm thinking about all the people who made News Years Resolutions this year to eat less, exercise more, and lose weight.  I'm wondering, after watching all the commercials and news stories about the amounts of various snack foods that people have bought for this year's Big Game, how many people have already given up their healthy resolutions and have fallen back into bad habits.  This happens every year - millions of people with good intentions make healthy resolutions but can't execute for very long.  Now - the treadmills purchased for Christmas sit untouched, the gyms are raking in the dollars and their membership rolls are high but the percentage of members who work out is starting to dwindle, those diet books and exercise DVDs are starting to again collect dust.

This happens every year.  Why?  Because, like much in life and business, it is all in the execution.  One of my favorite quotes is by Thomas Edison - "Vision without execution is hallucination."  As with anything else, successful healthy resolutions are not worth the paper they're written on (or the napkin they were scribbled on during some New Year's Eve party) if they are not followed.  The title of this post is 20% Resolution/80% Execution because execution of such resolutions is at least 4 times as important as the resolutions themselves........and probably a lot more.

So now that it's February and the Super Bowl is over, pull out that sheet (or napkin) of  at least your wellness resolutions and re-commit to get fit or in other words - EXECUTE.  Don't get discouraged. Whatever it is (lose weight, quit smoking, exercise more, etc.) is an aspect of your life that didn't get to where it is now over night and you are not going to improve it over night.  Just put one foot in front of the other and EXECUTE.

Monday, January 28, 2013

April 15th - It's Coming..Make it less stressful!

One of the most stressful days of the year is the day federal taxes are due - the dreaded April 15th.  It stresses me out every year but it shouldn't.  It is more, I think, the way I approach it than the day itself.  I traditionally haven't followed the steps that I'm going to suggest here but I will in the future.  Experts who suggest ways to reduce the stress of doing your taxes typically recommend the following:

1.  Start early - The sooner that  you get it done, the less time that you spend with the thought of it as a looming stressful deadline.  Even if you don't file (because you owe) until the last minute, at least you won't have the burden upon you.
2.  Take baby steps/break it down into small pieces - Just like a big work project, breaking your tax preparation and filing into small and manageable steps will make the process much more tolerable.  Instead of cramming it all into one weekend day, extend it over a much longer period and do a little bit at a time.  Set a schedule and do a little bit each day during that time period until it is done.  Today is only January 28th so there is plenty of time to do this even this year.
3.  Make it fun - Fun? Taxes? Well, you can at least try.  Put on some of your favorite music, put out some aromatherapy candles, get yourself some healthy snacks and get to it.  Also - reward yourself for accomplishing the steps along the way.  Only you can make it resemble something that is truly fun so give it a shot.
4.  Have someone else do it - Only you know your own tax situation, your ability to do your taxes, your frustration level on projects like this, etc.  Knowing these things and considering the benefit that you may be able to recognize by having a professional prepare your taxes - the cost may just be outweighed by the benefits - particularly if the professional is able to minimize your tax liability in ways that you can only imagine doing yourself.
5.  Plan for next year - Learn from your own mistakes and plan for an easier next year.  By this I mean that if you do not already have a working system in place, set up an organized system for keeping better records during the year (your business expenses, your charitable contributions, your medical expenses, your various tax forms that employers and others send to you, etc.).  Also, based on either the analysis you receive from TurboTax (or whatever you use) or from your CPA or tax preparer - take the necessary steps this year to either decrease the amount you owe or increase your refund next year.
6.  Whatever you do - don't be late! - Even if you owe, there are ways (like payment plans) that this will work out.  You do not want to get hit with the consequences of missing the deadline and if you follow the above suggestions - there should be no reason to.

Avoid the Monday Blues

I thought about writing today about the benefits to your health and overall wellness of NOT working on the weekends.  There is alot of research out there about the health benefits of NOT working on the weekends (and when I say work - I mean at your full-time job) and an equal amount of research on "disconnecting" (meaning the benefits to your health of staying away from your laptop, Blackberry, iPhone, etc. for periods of time).  I'll come back to that though.  Since today is Monday and I know that I certainly can be prone to the "Monday Blues" - I decided to go in search of and find some research and recommendations on combating the "Monday Blues."

Although we are 1 week past what researchers suggest is the most depressing day of the year (the third Monday in January) - there are multiple research findings that suggest that any Monday can trigger the "Monday Blues."  Whether it is the research that suggests that people show biological signs of stress when they start anticipating the workday or the research that found that most workers don't smile until about 11:16 on Mondays or the Japanese research finding the highest suicide levels on Mondays - it is clear that "Monday Blues" do exist.  What can you do about it?  I read some recommendations from Laura Schwecheri on from about a year ago that bear repeating.

1.  Don't live for the weekends - don't only look forward to the weekends; plan something fun during the week to do like a movie night.  This way - you spread out the joy.
2.  Relax!! - Don't go out both nights on the weekend.  Stay in at least one night and chill.  Being on the go too much on the weekend and not getting enough sleep will only stress you out more.
3.  Don't sleep in - Try sticking to the same sleep schedule all week to feel your best.
4.  Plan ahead Sunday night - Pick out your clothes for Monday and make your lunch for Monday on Sunday night.
5.  Go to bed early Sunday night - Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep in preparation for Monday.
6.  Eat breakfast Monday morning
7.  Listen to music - Music boost mood so listen to some music while you get ready for work on Monday morning.  Pick your favor artist.
8.  Hit the (early-bird) gym - Get an early Monday a.m. workout.  Exercise increases your endorphin levels and will boost your mood.
9.  Look snazzy - Wear your best outfit on Monday so you look your best - it will help you feel your best.
10.  Smile - We've all heard how many muscles it takes to smile and how many MORE muscles it takes to frown or scowl so just go ahead and smile all morning and all day.
11.  Treat your self - Give yourself something to look forward to either Monday afternoon or Monday night. Whatever it is that you know will inspire and excite you - plan it for sometime on Monday.  You will look forward to it.
12.  Take small breaks during the day - Get away from your desk or cubicle during the day.  Take a walk outside, avoid eating lunch at your desk or squeeze in a lunch time workout.
13.  Figure out why Mondays are blue for you - If none of the above helps, you REALLY might want to switch careers.  Life is too short to be THAT miserable.

Have a Marvelous Monday!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hugging and Health

It's Not Rocket Science is not all about diet and exercise.  Today - it's about hugs.  Hugs, you ask?  What do hugs have to do with health?  I just read a quote by Virginia Satir "You need four hugs a day for survival, eight for daily maintenance, and twelve hugs a day for growth."  Research has proven that hugs can help you be healthier, think and feel younger, reduce your stress, add years to your life and even slow down aging.  What is it about hugs that accomplishes these things?  So, what is the science beyond this miracle action - the hug?

Researchers at the University of Vienna concluded that oxytocin is released into the bloodstream when you hug someone who is close to you.  This lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, and can even improve memory.   In a very interesting finding by these researchers, they also discovered that the same effect is not achieved by a hug from someone you do not know or if the hug is not something that both the parties want at that time - in those cases, a different hormone (the stress hormone - cortisol) is secreted instead of oxytocin. Researchers at the University of North Carolina previously concluded that hugs increase the release of oxytocin and decrease the risk of heart disease. In addition to oxytocin, hugs also stimulate the brain to release dopamine (the pleasure hormone).  Some researchers have even concluded that hugs are more important as we age - Ohio State University psychologist Janice Kiecolt-Glaser has previously been quoted as saying "The older you are, the more fragile you are physically, so contact becomes increasingly important for good health."

So - hug your friends, your family, your pets, and others close to you at least 4 times but strive for 12 times every day.  You'll be happier and healthier as a result.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Personal Responsibility for Your Own Wellness

Only you control what you eat and how often you exercise.  When I was working on my wellness last year, I  used a personal mantra "Only I can control it."  I realized that there were some things I could not control in life but one thing I could control was every morsel that I put in my mouth and the frequency with which I laced up my running shoes and hit the street or did my crunches or pumped iron.

I was reminded of this importance of personal responsibility for one's own wellness when reading an article yesterday in the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Cindy Creasy's All You Can Eat column.  Cindy attended  a presentation that my friend Kim Williams and I gave to a small networking group of women this past Saturday.  The topics were taking steps toward vegetarianism and the benefits of following a vegetarian diet.  The article appropriately ended with a great quote from Kim:

        "I feel like it's really empowering.  Just by changing your diet, you can make a change in your health."

How true!  Remember, You Can Control It and ONLY You Can Control It.  Take the first step today.  You will feel empowered and will be making a positive change in your health.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Protein for Vegetarians/Vegans

Ever since becoming a vegetarian in July of 2012, the most common question that I get is "but, how do you get your protein." It is such a predictable question now that I probably need to include, when I tell people that I'm a vegetarian - "and..I get plenty of protein."  Here are some examples of sources of protein that vegetarians and vegans get - not even including eggs, milk, and cheese (that most vegetarians eat but vegans do not.)

  • Vegetables themselves - for example cooked spinach, french beans, cooked kale, and boiled peas have a fair amount of protein in them
  • Non-Dairy Milk - soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk - often have more protein (and in some cases QUITE ABIT more) than regular milk
  • Nut Butter like peanut butter, almond butter, and cashew butter
  • Quinoa - one half cup has 8 grams of protein
  • Tofu - one half cup contains 10 grams of protein
  • Lentils  - one cup packs 18 grains of protein
  • Beans - one cup of garbanzo beans, black beans or kidney beans has 15 grams of protein
  • Tempeh - one half cup has 15 grams
  • Sprouted Grain Bread
  • Some Cereals - I like Kashi's Go Lean and the new Grape-Nuts FIT - Go Lean has 13 grams per cup; FIT has 6 grams
  • Greek Yogurt - 13 to 18 grams of protein
  • Nuts (peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, etc.) - Nuts are all good sources but peanuts have 7 grams of protein in one ounce
  • Seeds like sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds
  • Flax seed
  • Protein Powder (Vegan versions are available)
NOTE: The USDA recommendation for protein is 46 grams of protein a day for adult women and and 56 grams of protein a day for adult men.  So, with many or even all of the above as staples of a vegetarian's or vegan's diet - it doesn't take a Rocket Scientist to see that we easily get enough protein - or at least we should if we are eating healthy and know our available protein sources.

But....thanks for asking :-).

Happiness and Health

An article in the U.S. News and World Report in 2011 reported on a study which had been recently published in the journal Applied Psychology:  Health and Well-Being and reported to be the most comprehensive review to date of the evidence linking happiness to health outcomes. Authored by Ed Diener of the University of Illinois, the study reviewed more than 160 different studies of human and animal subjects.  Diener said that the general conclusion was that "..your subjective well-being-that is, feeling positive about your life, not stressed out, not depressed - contributes to both longevity and better health among healthy populations."  Apparently, most the long-term studies that the researchers reviewed found that anxiety, depression, a lack of enjoyment of daily activities, and pessimism were all associated with higher rates of disease and shorter lives. Diener said that while "happiness is no magic bullet," "the overwhelming majority of the studies support the conclusion that happiness is associated with health and longevity."  The article ended with some great "It's Not Rocket Science" advice:

**Add "Be Happy and Avoid Chronic Anger and Depression" to the four other MAJOR health recommendations that are most widely suggested:
1.Avoid Obesity
2.Eat Right
3.DON'T Smoke

So, like musician Bobby McFerrin says in his 1988 song that became the first a cappella song to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100, "Don't Worry, Be Happy."  That quote originated from the Indian mystic and sage Meher Baba and is as good advice today as it was in the 1960s when it was printed up on inspiration cards and posters.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Plan It, Write It, Do It, Log It

I have read for many years that people are more likely to exercise if they write it down as part of a weekly/daily plan and/or write it down after completing the exercise.  I suggest both.  I call it "Plan It, Write It, Do It, Log It."  Just like other personal and/or work weekly or daily goals or "to do lists" or meeting/appointment scheduling, exercise takes commitment and should be written into your plan.  Call it "an appointment with yourself."  It is that important!!

Yesterday, while at Barnes and Noble, I stumbled upon a great way to follow this advice.  Published by Hinkler Books Pty Ltd out of Australia, it is called the Anatomy of Fitness: Personal Training & Workout Diary.  Not only does it have weekly and daily planning sections for you to record your exercise plans for the week and to write down exactly what you did but it also has sections for the following:

  • Daily food diary including fluid intake;
  • Place to record what vitamins and supplements you took;
  • Personal reflections on your weekly energy level, stress level, hours of sleep, sleep quality, mood, appetite, and injuries or illnesses;
  • Place to record your weekly start weight and BMI and your ending weekly weight and BMI;
  • A monthly planning section; 
  • A complete physical assessment section to record your measurements and physical ability at the beginning of the year and at the end of year including a place to record your own goals; 
  • Sections to capture your monthly progress;
  • A section to track your heart rate;
  • An End of the Year Assessment; and,
  • A lot of valuable information at the beginning of the publication on general health and wellness including information on BMI, strength training, cardio training including a comparison of calories you will burn doing different forms of cardio, stretching and flexibility, warming up and cooling down, setting goals and staying motivated, nutrition, a guide as to how to use the diary, and diagrams of the human body showing all of the human muscles.
Amazingly enough, it was on sale for under $6.00 and I was able to pick it up for $5.65.  

I recommend this resource highly but however you do it, start today making this important appointment with yourself.  Remember - "Plan It, Write It, Do It, Log It."

Friday, January 18, 2013

SWEET!! - A New Study on Sugar....and a little more information

Hot off the press!!  In the first systematic review of available evidence commissioned by the World Health Organization, researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand found in a review of studies that increased consumption of "free sugars" including additives to foods and those naturally found in honey, syrups, and fruit juices let to an average gain of between 1.6 and 1.8 pounds in body weight in adults while people who cut back on sugar lost about the same amount.  The researchers looked at 15,000 studies on sugar and obesity at the request of the WHO and narrowed down the list to about 70 that strictly measured the correlation between sugar consumption and weight. The study authors said that the findings confirm the WHO's guideline of keeping sugar intake at 10% or below of daily calories. Walter Willett, a
professor at Harvard and author of an editorial that accompanied the study" said "What's emerged most clearly is that sugar in the form of water, sodas, fruit drinks, energy drinks is especially problematic."  He also said that because it is easier to drink than eat "It's almost almost impossible to eat 17 teaspoons of sugar, but it's very easy to drink a 20 ounce soda with 17 teaspoons of sugar."

Digging a little deeper into this topic, the American Heart Association has recommended guidelines for limiting the amount of added sugars.  The AHA defines "added sugars" as "any sugars or caloric sweeteners that are added to foods or beverages during processing or preparation (such as putting sugar in your coffee or adding sugar to your cereal)."  They (added sugars) can include natural sugars such as white sugar, brown sugar, and honey as well as chemically manufactured sweeteners like HFCS (high fructose corn syrup).  Distinguishing added sugars from naturally occurring sugars - those found naturally in foods such as fruit (fructose) and milk (lactose), the AHA recommends that women consume no more than 100 calories of added sugars a day (about 6 teaspoons) and 150 calories a day for men (about 9 teaspoons).  As a comparison to what what most Americans eat - most Americans get more than 22 teaspoons or 355 calories of added sugar a day.

Below are some of the AHA's simple "It's Not Rocket Science" tips to reduce sugar in your diet:
1.  Remove sugar (white and brown), syrup, honey and molasses from the table - out of sight, out of mind.
2.  Cut back on the amount of sugar added to things you eat or drink regularly like cereal, pancakes, coffee or tea. Start by using half as much sugar and wean down from there or use an artificial sweetener.
3.  Buy sugar free or low calorie beverages.
4.  Buy fresh fruits or fruits canned in water or natural juice - not canned in SYRUP.
5.  Instead of adding sugar to cereal or oatmeal, add fresh fruit or dried fruit.
6.  When baking cookies, brownies, or cakes - cut the sugar that is called for by one third to one half.
7.  Instead of adding sugar in recipes, try adding extracts like almond, vanilla, orange or lemon.
8.  Enhance foods with spices instead of sugar; try ginger, allspice, cinnamon, or nutmeg.
9.  Substitute unsweetened applesauce for sugar in recipes.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Don't Let Stress Get the Best of You

A friend of mine (Denise Butler) who is a health educator and Wellness Coordinator for the City of Richmond (VA) gave me the following words of wisdom yesterday concerning stress management, particularly when dealing with stressful situations at work:

1.  Ask yourself "Can I control it?" and "Is it important?" - If the answer is NO to either, on some level you have to let it go.
2.  Deal with stress at the time it happens and don't let it build.  For example, go for a walk after a stressful meeting, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths right after a bad phone call, stick to a schedule and make "you time" part of that schedule every day.
3.  Do what works...If you like humor, have a comic book close;  If you like exercise, do it as often as you can; if you like to journal, keep it with you.

She told me that stress is a different "beast" for each person, is very important, and we can't let it get the best of us.

Now, why is this all so important....."chronic stress" or prolonged tension from stress raises blood pressure, increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, increases vulnerability to anxiety and depression, contributes to infertility, and hastens the aging process.  It also can slow down wound healing, impair development in children, negatively affect memory, and increase the levels of visceral fat in the body contributing to weight gain.

After reading all that, it doesn't take a Rocket Scientist to realize that we all have to find our own ways to manage the stress that we face either in the workplace or elsewhere.  Some simple steps you can take (and of course, follow Denise's recommendations about finding what works best for you) are:

1.  BREATHE, BREATHE, BREATHE - just stopping to take deep breaths and otherwise being very aware of how much or HOW LITTLE you are breathing can make a huge impact on your stress.  Regular breathing and periodic breaks where you engage in deep breathing exercises provide significant benefit.
2.  LAUGH - You will be amazed how much less stressed you feel when you take time to laugh.  Whatever it is that makes you laugh - reading a good joke book, seeing a comedy movie, being around funny people, etc. - DO IT.
3. Have your own personal saying when faced with stress - whether it is what Denise suggested ("Can I control it? and "Is it Important?") or something else like "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff....and it's all Small Stuff", come up with it for yourself and use it when you're under stress.
4.  At work, get away from your desk periodically.  It is scientifically proven that just taking a brief break periodically from your desk and going to spend even 10 minutes with someone who you like will re-charge you, boost your energy, and reduce your stress.  I've tried it and it works.
5.  Get enough sleep and in a sleep friendly environment - not a bedroom cluttered with papers and with all kinds of electronic devices buzzing.
6.  Exercise.

Life is too short anyway, don't let stress manage you - you need to manage it.  It can truly be a beast but you can tame it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Blood Pressure - What Is It, Why Is It Important, and What Can You Do About It?

What exactly do your blood pressure numbers mean and what is high blood pressure?  Blood pressure is the pressure exerted by circulating blood upon the walls of the blood vessels.  During each heartbeat, blood pressure varies between a maximum (systolic - or the top number in your reading) and a minimum (diastolic - or the bottom number in your reading).  The systolic rate is your peak blood pressure when the heart is squeezing blood out and your diastolic rate is the pressure when your heart is filling with blood and is relaxing between beats.  When referred to as a person's "blood pressure" - the term usually refers to the systemic arterial pressure measured at a person's upper arm and is a measure of the pressure in the brachial artery.  It is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg). 

The American Heart Association guideline for desired blood pressure is a systolic rate (top number) of between 90 and 119 and a diastolic rate (bottom number) between 60 and 79.  Numbers below this fall within the "hypotension" category (meaning pressure is too low) while numbers of 120/80 and above fall within various ranges of prehypertension and actual hypertension. 

Why is this important?  At least in the case of "hypertension", elevated blood pressure puts mechanical stress on the walls of your arteries which make the heart have to work harder and contributes to the progression of unhealthy tissue growth within the artery walls.  The higher the pressure and the longer this continues, the thicker and larger and ultimately weaker the heart muscle becomes over time.  Persistent hypertension is a significant risk factor for strokes, heart attacks, heart failures, arterial aneurysms and is a leading cause of chronic renal failure.

First and foremost - know your blood pressure.  "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it" - so knowing your blood pressure (including at different times of the day and under different conditions) is critical.  Once you know it - there is so much information in the public domain as to how to keep it under control or to reduce it that It Is Not Rocket Science as to action steps you can take.  Some of the most well known ones are: 

1.  Don't smoke cigarettes or use any tobacco products
2.  Lose weight if you are overweight
3.  Exercise regularly
4.  Cut back on sodium intake  (adding salt to your food and eating processed foods SIGNIFICANTLY increases the amount of sodium you consume)
5.  Limit alcohol consumption to no more than 2 drinks a day.
6.  Incorporate relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation OR biofeedback into your routine.  If you can't leave a stressful situation or environment, you have to train your body and your mind to handle and manage the stress.

If these don't work to get and keep your blood pressure in the desired range, there are various medications for blood pressure but that should be the last resort. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Caffeine and Blood Pressure

Mayo Clinic emeritus hypertension specialist Dr. Sheldon C. Sheps suggests that if you or your doctor are concerned about caffeine's effect on your blood pressure, try limiting the amount of caffeine you drink to 200 milligrams a day - about the same as in two 12-ounce cups of brewed coffee.  He also advises to be cognizant of the amount of caffeine in your preferred brand of coffee as different brands vary as to how much caffeine is in the coffee.  One other of his valuable suggestions is to avoid caffeine right before activities that naturally increase your blood pressure anyway like exercise. 

Dr. Sheps suggests that a way of checking to see if caffeine is raising your blood pressure is to check your blood pressure within 30 to 60 minutes of drinking a cup of coffee or other caffeinated beverage.  If your blood pressure is elevated by five to 10 points then, you may have a caffeine sensitivity as it concerns your blood pressure.

I recently found out that my doctor recommends the same amount of daily intake of coffee - two cups.  No more.    

Monday, January 14, 2013

Relaxation Drinks - What are they, where are they going and info on one specifically - KOPPLA

It is not Rocket Science that stress contributes to weight gain, risk of such debilitating diseases as heart disease and disabling events like stroke.  The economy and the information age have many of us very stressed out - working harder, faster, and often for less pay.  Experts suggest many different methods of stress management - more sleep, regular exercise, massages, yoga, spiritual growth and development, etc.  There will be many postings in the future on stress and stress management and its overall place in a person's wellness plan but today's posting is specifically about one method that is available - something called Relaxation Drinks.

What are Relaxation Drinks?  Defined on Wikipedia as "a non-alcoholic beverage containing calming ingredients which may be found in nature," the concept of relaxation drinks first emerged in Japan in 2005.  While melatonin is found in many, it is not found in all relaxation drinks.  The drinks emerged in the United States in about 2006.  While currently far behind the "Energy Drink" market,  there is enormous potential for these products and growth opportunity given the challenges facing all of us as we try to keep up with the fast pace required in today's culture. 

A Reuters' article in 2011 cited that 22.4 million cases (or 36 million gallons) of relaxation drinks were sold in 2010 (double the amount sold in 2008) and that by 2014, sales are expected to exceed 79 million gallons. IBISWorld reported in late 2011 390 different types of relaxation drinks on the market that year (an increase from the 350 on the market in 2010).

The one that I favor is called KOPPLA and is available on the website  Known as an adaptogenic formula - Koppla's products differ from others because the developers have a true scientifically rooted understanding of how individual phytochemicals interact with other phytochemicals and how those combinations then manifest into therapeutic benefits for the human body.  Koppla's products are really "remedies" versus "supplements" .  Their formula, when the body is under stress, helps to restore a balanced, sustained flow of oxygen and blood throughout the body - helping to regulate a more functional state of physical calm and mental focus.  Koppla comes in powder that can be mixed with hot or cold water.  It also comes in a shot.  The shots are extra strength and users have reported feeling benefits of stress relief and focused energy management in as little as 5-10 minutes.  Koppla offers trial versions of it product for free, directly from The science behind the formula can be found at  

Feel stress coming on, try Koppla's product - it works.  Songwriter, vocalist and musician Carly Simon says "Koppla is the first beverage I have ever found that does two things - tastes great and visibly reduces tension."  Actor Henry Winkler (Fonzie of "Happy Days" fame) and his wife Stacey are dedicated users of Koppla  and use it at least once a day. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

You Don't Have to Do a "Fad" Diet

Healthy living principles don't require a "fad" diet - the latest book or DVD.  Eating right, exercising regularly, and taking care of yourself is not Rocket Science.  Applying some common sense and some discipline, anyone can be on the path to a much healthier self.  Aerobic exercise along with strength training and a healthy diet will help you decrease your weight, improve your current health, and reduce your risk of such ailments as Diabetes, Heart Disease, and even Cancer.  I recommend a low fat diet and going light on your intake of sodium and sugar.  It really isn't Rocket Science. 

Really, the most important thing is changing your habits and sustaining them.  You won't get anywhere permanently if you don't sustain the change.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Standing at Work is much better for your Health than Sitting All Day

NBC's Rock Center's lead story tonight was on the significant health impact of standing more (including at work) versus sitting down.  I started standing at work about two months ago and stand now at work between 85 to 90 percent of the day.  Having heard for years that it was better for your back and your core, I am sold on it.  Rock Center's story cited research and promotes a "treadmill desk".   Dr. James Levine, an obesity expert at The Mayo Clinic, was profiled on the show tonight and is cited in an article I found online on the topic.  He says that "as soon as you stand up, you start to activate your body's metabolic engines."  The Sax Institutes's 45 and Up Study, the largest ongoing study of healthy aging in the Southern Hemisphere, produced recent results showing that adults who sat for 11 hours or more a day had a 40% increased risk of dying in the next three years than those who sat for less than four hours.  Another study detailed in an article in the May 2010 edition of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise concluded that men who reported more than 23 hours a week of sedentary activity had a 64 percent greater risk of dying from heart disease than those who reported less than 11 hours a week of such activity.  The lead researcher in that study, Steven Blair, said that people who sit have less desirable levels of cholesterol, blood sugar, triglycerides, and even waist size.

Even if you choose not to stand most of the day, definitely stand up more throughout the day and move around.  Even ten minutes every hour of getting up and walking around will improve your long term health.  Remember that, throughout evolution, our predecessors on this planet NEVER sat as much as we do not.  The human body is not supposed to sit down for most of the day - it is meant to MOVE.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Blood Pressure and Aging of the Brain

In the past year, interesting research has come out from both researchers at the University of California at Davis and the University of Hawaii regarding the impact of high blood pressure on the brain and the benefit of taking beta blockers on reducing the risk of Alzheimer's Disease and other types of dementia.  According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) - 68 million American adults (1 in 3) suffer from high blood pressure.  The UC-Davis research research used data from the Framingham Heart Study and concluded, apparently for the first time, that high blood pressure can begin in an individual's 30s and 40s  to cause deteriorations to the brain that contribute to memory loss and ultimately Alzheimer's Disease and other types of dementia.  The Hawaii research found that those who took beta blockers were the only ones in that study who experienced a a difference in brain abnormality prevention and lowered blood pressure.  Anyone whose blood pressure is elevated should make lifestyle changes (lose weight, exercise, lower salt intake), take medication, or both to lower it to 120/80 or below. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Recent reports linking deaths and illnesses to energy drinks

The FDA reported in November of last year that there had been 92 illnesses and 13 deaths linked to the consumption of 5-Hour Energy shots, 40 illnesses and five deaths linked to Monster Energy, and 13 illnesses and two lasting disabilities linked to Rockstar Energy.  This was based on something called AERs (Adverse-Event Reports) that are filed by patients, families, and doctors.  These reports dated back to 2004.  These reports came about one year after a goverment report that cited a sharp spike in the number of people who need emergency medical care after consuming energy drinks.  That report showed more than a tenfold increase in the number of emergency rooom visits tied to the use of these drinks between 2005 and 2009.

While the FDA has not made enough of a direct link through its own independent research and analysis to find that these energy drinks are so dangerous as to require that they be removed from the market, it does not take a rocket scientist to recognize some definite risks in the consumption of these products.  Given that they are sometimes consumed with alcohol, they may be consumed as "refreshment" when athletes have been participating in strenuous physical activity and ALREADY have elevated heart rate and blood pressure, and that the emergency room visit study showed that more than one quarter of those who visited the ER after using energy drinks were also taking another pharmaceutical (often a stimulant such as Ritalin) -- enough "red flags" have been raised to warrant significant consideration before consuming one of these drinks.  Among the eye-opening statistics from the ER visit study was that the age range of 12 to 17 accounted for 11% of the emergency room visits. 

Caveat emptor!! Parents - beware too!!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day

Exercise is quite likely the most important step that you can take to feel better, look better, live longer, and prevent chronic disease and other conditions.  This is not Rocket Science.  Expert after expert after expert say that at a minimum everyone should aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.  Every day!  Don't skimp some days and say you will make it up the next day.  You have to make it a habit and there is significant research behind the recommendation to exercise at least 30 minutes every day.  Of course, it is always recommended to see your medical professional if you have been sedentary before starting an exercise program.

30 minutes every day may sound like alot but it is not.  Think about how you spend your day and I guarantee you can find 30 minutes a day to exercise.  Remember - it is the minimum recommended amount.  Also remember that it does not have to be the same type of exercise every day, there are hundreds of ways to exercise (although a good way to start is just to lace up some sneakers and start a daily walking routine), and you can even split it into two 15 minutes sessions or three 10 minute sessions. 

So, if you are starting out - start with 30 minutes but recognize that if time permits and as your fitness level increases you will reap even additional short and long term health benefits by increasing the time.  Increasing to 45 minutes a day and if possible, to one hour a day are shown to add additional years to your life.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Rowing is an excellent, low-impact exercise that combines resistance training with a rigorous cardiovascular workout.  It targets the entire body and you don't have to be on the River Thames to get a great rowing workout.  Rowing machines come in a variety of models and many are priced incredibly affordable and require very little space.  Many are so compact as to be easily tucked away when not in use.  The amount of resistance on indoor rowers can be adjusted easily allowing you to customize your workout based on your fitness level and slowly increase the resistance level over time.  The sliding seats on rowing machines afford the thighs and calves with a terrific lower body workout and of course, the rowing motion targets the upper body.  One hour of rowing either on the water or on the rowing machine can easily allow you to burn between 750 and 800 calories. You will not find a more convenient way to get a whole body workout than an exercise rower.
I highly recommend the below linked sites  for anyone interested in fantastic vegetarian friendly recipes.  Living a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle is not rocket science and I know of only positive effects of being a vegetarian.  It also opens up a whole new world to the new vegetarian of healthy and delicious foods.  Loma Linda University in California has released results of various studies that show that a vegetarian diet reduces risk of such diseases as cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, controls body mass index and waist size, and increases brain health.  It also, in a more recent study of 96,000 people, found vegetarian participants to live between 6.1 and 9.5 years longer than non-vegetarians (the average is about eight years longer).  Other interesting findings were that:

Vegans are, on average, 30 pounds lighter than meat eaters
Vegans are five units lighter on the BMI scale than meat-eaters
Vegetarians and vegans are also less insulin resistant than meat-eaters
Lean people are more likely to exercise regularly, eat plants, and avoiding cigarettes than overweight people

Premise behind It's Not Rocket Science

The premise behind this blog is that it really is not Rocket Science to become healthier and live longer.  Simple steps can easily be taken and are supported by the evidence to help you achieve any health and wellness goal.  Between February 1st and September of 2012, I lost between 45 and 50 pounds and 6 inches on my waist simply by adopting proven strategies and an evidence based wellness plan.  By doing so, I am confident that I have added years to my life. 

What you will see in the future here will sometimes be information from recently released studies that are on point but what I will try to do is really boil down the information into simple steps you can take to be healthier and live longer.  There is so much information out there on the Internet but becoming a healthier you IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE. It does take discipline and commitment but it is worth it!!

Welcome to my Blog

Welcome to my Blog.  It's Not Rocket Science is a blog dedicated to easy lifestyle changes that anyone can make particularly in the areas of diet and exercise that will make you look better, feel better, and live longer.  Many of them will be based on real evidence as to what really works in these areas.