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The ABC of a Heath Plan

By Jose A. Hernandez

A) Proper Nutrition

B) Exercise

C) Life Style

 

Most of us realize that our health is our most valuable asset. Yet, we often fail to protect and improve our health. The purpose of this article is to introduce you to a simple, yet complete approach to a healthy life style. Although it is very hard to make dramatic changes in life style, anyone can make small, gradual, yet significant changes, which over time will have a positive cumulative effect. . If you follow any of the following tips, you are likely to benefit in some manner. To achieve your health potential, you'll have to gradually integrate most if not all of the advice given here. So let's get to the point. The following tips are based on our personal observations and experience. If I could summarize all of it in one sentence, it would be: Eat right & exercise. Do seek the advice of a health professional before starting an exercise program or making sudden changes in your eating habits.

(A) PROPER NUTRITION

You are what you eat 90% of the time but please don't go on a diet. Most diets will do more harm than good. Diets that restrict calories, i.e. starvation diets, result in your developing a slower metabolic rate. In other words your body "learns" to work with less food. This is because while you're "starving" your body is burning muscle tissue for energy. So you lose weight fast but when you quit your "starvation" diet, you will not only gain it all back, you'll get fatter. To make things worse, many starvation diets are poor in essential nutrients (i.e. vitamins & minerals, etc).

  • Eat frequent small meals. Try to eat every 3-4 hours or 4 to 5 small meals per day. Don't skip breakfast. This tip will help you boost your metabolism so that you'll burn more fat even when you sleep and will result in your having more energy throughout the day.
  • Avoid simple sugars. Avoid candy, cakes, and sweets. Allow yourself a small "treat" once every 7 days as a reward for being "good".
  • Avoid saturated fats but welcome good fats like fish oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil, perilla oil etc.
  • Eat lean proteins. (Fish, chicken, eggs, turkey breast). You need protein to build and maintain lean muscular tissues.
  • Eat fibrous carbohydrates (complex carbs.). Eat lots of veggies (broccoli, spinach, dark green leafy veggies, etc). They are loaded with anti-oxidant and anti-cancer agents.
  • Eat some starchy carbohydrates (potatoes, sweet potatoes, brown rice, whole wheat bread, etc). If you are trying to lose fat, limit but do not eliminate starchy carbohydrates.
  • Take a multivitamin . We use the Life Extension Mix, because it is the most complete vitamin, mineral & plant extract formula on the market. Vitamins are thought to slow down the aging process and prevent a number of diseases.
  • Drink plenty of liquids, at least 8-10 glasses of water per day.
  • (B) EXERCISE

    Use your body or lose it. It is that simple! The advice given here won't turn you into an Olympic athlete but it will ensure an adequate level of fitness. Please do seek the advice of a medical professional before starting any exercise program. Chances are, your doctor will "beg" you to exercise, but consult your physician anyway. An exercise program is not complete unless it includes the following:
  • Aerobic exercise - Necessary to stimulate your heart and to help improve your circulatory system. Find an aerobic activity that you enjoy doing and just do it at least three times per week. An aerobic activity is just about anything that gets your heart going. The activity needs to last from 15 minutes to 1 hour and be challenging enough to be effective. Challenging enough means it should elevate your heart rate so that you are working at 65% to 80% of your maximum. To approximate your maximum heart rate, just subtract your age from 220* So if you are 45 years old, your maximum heart rate would be around 175 (220 minus 45 = 175). If your maximum heart rate were 175, then to work at 65% of your maximum, you would need to work hard enough to elevate your heart rate to about 114 (175 x .65). Obviously, I recommend recumbent cycling because you get all of the aerobic benefits without any of the pain associated with riding a regular bike or jogging.

Note: The above calculation may NOT yield an accurate heart rate range - It is ONLY an ESTIMATE !!! Experienced / Fit cyclists often find that this calculation yields a heart rate that is lower than their actual/measured maximum heart rate. However, this calculation is good enough and can be used as a guide by most, but not all people. Your maximum heart rate may well be below or above the product of this calculation, depending on your current level of fitness. Thus, you MUST LISTEN to your body (play it safe - err on the side of safety - and avoid the temptation to stick to any formula if it doesn't feel right or attempting to measure your maximum heart rate unless you have the blessing of your physician.

  • Lift weights- No, I don't want to turn you into a body builder, unless you choose to do so. But weight training is the best way to make sure you don't lose muscle mass as you age. Did you know that people, who do not challenge their muscles with weights, lose about 5% of muscle mass per year after age 40? As you lose muscle, you lose your ability to move, do work and you will gain fat. One of the best way to ensure that you are fully ambulatory in your old age is to lift weights. Pick up a beginner's program and lift weights at least twice per week for about 20 to 30 minutes. Start slowly and progress gradually. You will notice that you will become stronger in about 6 to 8 weeks.
  • Stretch everyday for a few minutes. Stretch after a workout to make sure your muscles are warm. Don't stretch a cold muscle. Regular stretching exercises will help you avoid injury and keep you flexible.


(C) LIFE STYLE

Most of us are creatures of habit. Unfortunately, we all tend to accumulate bad habits. Try the following tips:

  • Get a yearly physical.
  • Get a recumbent bike! - A great investment and worth every penny.
  • Sleep at least 7-8 hours per day. Take a nap if you can every once in a while.
  • Take a vacation once a year .
  • Value the time spent with your family. Your family needs quality and quantity time.
  • Exclude worries from your mental process.
  • Read books about health & fitness and learn how to slow down the aging process.
  • Find an exercise buddy.
  • Try to learn new skills (learn to play an instrument or learn to write with your weak hand, it is great for your brain.)
  • Wear a helmet when cycling. and wear seat belts when driving.
  • Do not smoke - Do not use drugs.
  • Reach out and touch someone . Stay in touch with your friends.
  • Think positive. Pay attention to your inner voice. Think "I can do it!"

 

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