The Best Of 2012

The Best of 2012On this December 31, the last day of 2012, I want to share with you some of the most meaningful posts in Mill’s Message over the past year.  So, pour yourself a glass of red wine (see why here: Red Wine:  Health Benefits), find a quiet place and start the New Year 2013 resolved to incorporate these messages.

The obesity crisis in this country is at epidemic levels and weight-loss certainly receives due attention.  To make it personal, you first need a frame of reference, so get your head out of the sand and find out where you are on the BMI scale here:  Are You Considered Obese?   Then, you can move on to understanding the basics of weight-loss by reading Weight-loss Simplified.  Now that you have a handle on the mechanics involved, read Turbocharge Your Weight-loss and 10 Foods For Weight-loss to start your transformation.  For those of you who are “too busy” to eat right and exercise, take the time to read This WILL Change Your Life….. for a healthy alternative.

Finally, as a huge fan of TED Talks, I encourage you to check out these fascinating presentations on how you can actually practice and become happier in 21 days (Rewire Your Brain For Happiness), how exercise and nutrition can actually alter your genetic makeup (Want New Genes?), and for an insightful summary of the keys to life-altering health and happiness (Happiness/Health: You Don’t “Get It”, You “Let It”).  The importance of all this becomes even more evident when you realize we Baby Boomers could be living a lot longer than we thought (Can We Live To Be 1,000?).

HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone!  I hope 2013 turns out to be your best year ever.

God Bless

Funny Friday

In a previous post, “A Laugh A Day…..“, I made the case for laughter having a direct and positive affect on our health and in “Health Alert: You Need To Laugh More” you’ll find a detailed clinical discussion of why and how that happens.  In the interest of providing you with your daily dose of these exceptional health benefits, I am sharing with you a new source of comedy that had me in stitches last night.  One of my good friends from high school posted on Facebook, “The 25 Funniest AutoCorrects of 2012“.  For those of you with smartphones, I’m sure you’ve run into situations where your phone’s autocorrect function has inserted a word into your text message different from what you had intended.  This is typically just an annoyance, but, as you’ll see, it can actually produce some embarrassing and hysterical exchanges.

ACTexts6Funny AutoCorrect

Funny AutoCorrect

ACTexts3

Funny AutoCorrect

ACtexts1

Funny AutoCorrects

Now, if you haven’t done so already, go back up to the link to the “The 25 Funniest….” and continue doing what the doctor ordered….LYAO!!

God Bless

Red Wine: Health Benefits

  • Decreased incidence of cardiovascular disease
  • Lowers risk of heart attacks
  • Maintains muscle mass, strength and bone density during extended periods of inactivity
  • Prevenst harmful cellular damage
  • Decreased incidence of colon, lung, prostate and breast cancers
  • Reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Reduces the risk of cataracts
  • Reduces the risk of brain decline or dementia
  • Increases levels of good cholesterol (HDL)
  • Decreases levels of bad cholesterol (LDL)
  • Reduces anxiety and tension
  • Aids in digestion
  • Hardens your enamel to prevent tooth decay
  • Aids with sleep
  • Increases life-span and has anti-aging properties
  • Reduces the incidence of colds
  • Exhibits anti-inflammatory properties

red wine health benefitsThat’s an impressive list, but remember these benefits are associated with moderate and consistent consumption.  Excessive imbibing and binge drinking can lead to a whole host of health problems including  increased cancer risk, liver disease, high blood pressure, heart failure and addiction.  Wine also contains empty calories, which can lead to weight gain in the absence of exercise and proper nutrition.

So go ahead and enjoy your red wine over the holidays…….responsibly and in moderation.

God Bless

A 9/11 Testimony On Health

I ran across the story below on the “Forks Over Knives” web site, written by James Lopez.  My hope is that it will inspire you to consider seriously the message delivered by this 9/11 witness and that you’ll make the effort to watch the movie that had such an impact on both our lives.

Rethinking My Health After September 11 Exposure

James570x299 Rethinking My Health After September 11 ExposureI have been a New York City firefighter for the past sixteen years. During this time I have been exposed to toxins and carcinogens as a result of operating at fires and emergencies. Some calls-to-action are extreme such as the events of 911, but most are routine operations that happen on a daily basis throughout the city.

The events of September 11 had a large impact on my life. My company lost eleven members that day. The remaining firefighters worked at the site until operations were concluded in the Spring of 2002. I was not able to take care of myself properly during this time and as a result my fitness level decreased.

On June 26, 2002 my wife gave birth to our daughter Anna, our first child. Holding my daughter for the first time gave me renewed interest in life. I began to question what impact the events of September 11 would have on my future health. Never one to play a victim, I decided that I would have to find a way to remain healthy regardless of what I may or may not have been exposed to.

I realized that a change was needed in my approach to health. Around this time I learned about a gym in Wisconsin that was training people by focusing on movement skills. They discarded machines and focused on training their clients using primarily body weight exercises. The gym, Monkey Bar Gymnasium, was founded by Jon Hinds. I started implementing his training philosophies into my workouts and was getting great results.

I became friends with Jon and he would be the person that put me on the path to a plant-based lifestyle. I can remember our first conversation we had about diet and I was shocked when he told me he was plant-based. He was over six feet tall and extremely fit – not what I perceived a plant-based person to look like.

Jon then explained all the success he had with it and how much better he felt. He also recommended I read the book The China Study by T. Colin Campbell to further educate myself on the subject. I was skeptical and not ready to accept his advice.

A short time later a good friend gave me a copy of The China Study and I decided to read it. I realized that I had just discovered the instrument that could allow me to be healthy for a lifetime. A whole-food, plant-based diet could offer me protection from the toxins and carcinogens I have been exposed to. It gives me the best shot at remaining healthy so I can be here with my family for years to come!

I now needed a plan to implement a plant-based diet into my life. I decided to change one meal at a time. I picked the easiest one first which for me was breakfast. As I gained mastery over a meal I moved on to the next. Eventually I would challenge myself to be plant-based for a whole day, then two, then three, and so on.

The change was almost immediate. I started to lose weight but at the same time I was actually eating more than I ever did. My taste was improving and I was able to clearly taste the different types of food I was eating. I was also sleeping better, had more energy and had a feeling of lightness throughout my body.

It wasn’t long before my wife, encouraged by my positive results, joined me. We were able to lean on each other for support and by default were now making our children healthier. We began cooking more than ever before.

We are now three years into the plant-based lifestyle. I also own and operate a Monkey Bar Gymnasium on Staten Island. I encourage my clients to educate themselves about the food they eat. I encourage them to watch Forks Over Knives and make informed choices.

I don’t miss consuming animal products at all. What I have noticed is that people will question what you are doing. Most will simply not understand it. That’s fine with me – I’m not doing it for them.

The bottom line is that the food at the end of your fork is going to affect your health in some way. The ultimate decision is yours!

God Bless

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Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

Angry fat guyYou’re doing everything right, at least you think so.  You’ve cut back on calories, started an exercise program and have tipped the scale of “calories in vs. calories out” in your favor.  The pounds should be falling off, but the actual results are frustratingly elusive.  Typically, this frustration will lead to a feeling of hopelessness and the eventual scrapping of yet another weight-loss attempt.  Unfortunately, the subject of weight-loss is a very complicated one, with the ultimate goal being something our bodies have been divinely engineered to counteract and sabotage.  As human beings, we are hard-wired for survival and it is one of the most powerful, automatic systems operating within our bodies.  When you consciously throw your body into a caloric-deficient state, you trigger a cascade of biological mechanisms designed to hang onto every precious pound it can.  There have been several hormones identified that scientists initially thought might be the “magic bullet” for weight-loss, like lectin or adiponectin, among others, but these have only led to a deeper understanding of how complicated and sophisticated our innate weight-loss defense mechanisms are.

I recently started a fitness challenge group on a six-week program of exercise and proper nutrition, within an effective support system.  After three weeks on the program, the participants have experienced meaningful weight-loss, lost inches, increased energy and boosts in self-esteem, with one exception.  In this case, despite the exercise and reduced calories, there has been little or no change, which has understandably led to frustration and discouragement.  Upon further investigation, I am now suspicious that what’s at work here is one or more of those designed biological defense systems at work.  In trying to understand the lack of results, my questioning at one point led to the following response “My work schedule does not allow me to have a regular meal schedule, so I do what I can to keep it regular as possible.”  For me, this was an “Aha!” moment.  There may be two very powerful mechanisms at work here that are sabotaging her results.

Obese ManAside from the fact that just cutting back on calories and expending more energy will cause the body to trigger its defense mechanisms and hold onto fat, we have to consider the role sugar may be playing in the lack of results.  With an irregular eating schedule, you run the risk of huge swings in glucose and insulin levels.  You get a double whammy in that an extended period of not eating will trigger your body’s fat-storing mechanism.  Then, once you finally do eat, if that eventual intake consists largely of sugar or simple carbohydrates, that too triggers the fat-storing reaction.  The key to allowing the calorie imbalance to work in your favor is to eat consistently throughout the day, with proteins and complex carbohydrates (low Glycemic Index foods) making up the bulk of your diet.  The recommendation therefore, in this case, will be to do the best she can to plan ahead and eat consistently throughout the day.  Schedule five times during the day when to refuel, be consistent and consume primarily the slowly digestible food that will avoid the dangerous sugar spikes

If you’re struggling with a weight-loss program, this could be what’s keeping you from the results you’re expecting too.

God Bless

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The Perfect Holiday Gift

massageSearching for that “perfect” holiday gift to give someone special or perhaps even something exceptionally self-indulgent?  Look no further, massage is your answer.  Why?  For several reasons, all of which will leave the recipient feeling very special as a result of your thoughtfulness.  Massage comes packed with benefits and you can provide this gift for as low as $39-$49 for a 1-hour session.  Take a look at the myriad benefits and you’ll see how this special gift will likely hit the bulls-eye with anyone.

  • Massage can promote healthy sleep.  A number of studies have linked massage to stimulating delta waves, the kind of brain waves connected to deep sleep, according to Health magazine.
  • According to a 2011 study, massage decreased pain and stiffness and helped people feel and function better compared to people who didn’t receive any massage treatment.  Dan Cherkin, Ph.D., lead author of the study, commented “We found the benefits of massage are about as strong as those reported for other effective treatments: medications, acupuncture, exercise and yoga.”  One way it does this is by reducing a brain chemical called substance P that is related to pain.  In a TRI study, for example, individuals with a form of muscle pain called fibromyalgia showed less substance P in their saliva (and they reported reduced pain) after a month of twice-weekly massages.
  • Massage can also soothe anxiety and depression.  It reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, resulting in lifted spirits and often lower blood pressure.  It can also boost the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, which are involved in depression.  This may be because it stimulates pressure receptors that prompt action from the vagus nerve, one of the nerves that emerges from the brain.  The vagus nerve regulates blood pressure, as well as other functions.  In a 2005 study at the University of South Florida, hypertension patients who received 10 massages of 10 minutes each over three weeks showed significant improvements in blood pressure compared to a control group who simply rested in the same environment without any massage.
  • Multiple studies, although often small, have linked massage to better functioning of the immune system.  In one 2010 study, researchers found massage increased a person’s disease-fighting white blood cells.  The stress-reducing powers of massage can also help keep you healthy.  Several studies have measured cortisol  in subjects’ saliva before and after massage sessions, and found dramatic decreases.  Cortisol, which is produced when you are stressed, kills cells important for immunity, so when massage reduces your stress levels and hence the cortisol in your body, it may help you avoid getting a cold or another illness while under stress.
  • Massage may also boost your cognitive brain function.  Adults who were given a 15-minute chair massage in a small 1996 Touch Research Institute (TRI) study were more alert and completed a series of math questions faster and more accurately.
  • Headaches can also be alleviated thanks to massage.  A regular rubdown can reduce a person’s number of migraines, according to WebMD, as well as limit how painful each migraine feels, according to the TRI.  A 2009 study found that a 30-minute massage decreased pain for people with tension headaches, and even curbed some of the stress and anger associated with that pounding head.
  • Massage is particularly helpful for people living with or undergoing treatment for serious illnesses, like cancer. Various studies have shown that massage can relieve fatigue, pain, anxiety, depression and nausea in cancer patients.

massageMassages can cost close to $200 an hour at some of your higher end resorts, but thanks to a corporate consolidator in the industry, Massage Envy (http://www.massageenvy.com/), an introductory 1-hour session will set you back only $39-$49 and they have holiday gift cards.

For the thousands of people whose lists I happen to be on, this will work for me!

God Bless