Taking on the Enemy – The Silent Killer

When you read about the silent killer, you may not even be aware of what I’m referring to. Many people are not, which is why it is considered a silent killer. It is one that can easily creep up on people, and when it does, well, it completely ruins their life. In order to take on this silent killer, it is important to know what your blood pressure numbers are, because the name of it is hypertension.

Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure, which is how hard or forceful your blood is pumping through your body. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are nearly 26,000 people who die each year from hypertension. In order to take on this enemy, it is important to first know what your blood pressure numbers are. You can get these from your doctor, or you can even take your blood pressure at one of those free self-use machines set up in stores and pharmacies.

When you get your blood pressure reading, it will be in two numbers, such as 120/80. You can have one or both of these numbers be too high, contributing to the hypertension. Here’s what the numbers mean:

120/80 or lower – this is normal

Above 120/80, but below 140/90 – this is pre-hypertension

140/90 or above – this is hypertension, or high blood pressure

The factors that contribute to your blood pressure include obesity, being African American, stress, drinking too much alcohol, consuming too much salt, diabetes, smoking, and a genetic predisposition. If you have high blood pressure there is hope. You have the ability, most of the time, to combat it through lifestyle changes.

Here’s what you need to do in order to address the hypertension and see improvement in your numbers:

Improve your diet by reducing fat, eating more fruits and veggies, eating more fiber, and opting for lean sources of protein. You will want to reduce the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet. Also, watch the amount of salt that you consume, keeping it under 1,500 mg per day. Be especially careful when eating out or consuming pre-packaged foods, as they are both typically high in sodium.

Engage in at least 30 minutes of cardio exercise per day, such as walking, dancing, or biking.

Find ways to manage stress, such as doing yoga, Tai Chi, or journaling.

Lose weight, as even a couple of pounds can make a difference in blood pressure.

Watch the amount of alcohol that you consume. Not only is it bad for hypertension, but it also contributes a lot of unnecessary calories.

Coming up next, I will go over how you can use exercise to take on this silent killer. When it comes to blood pressure, baby boomer or not, you can fight back, and win!


So you have high cholesterol, now what?

If you are a baby boomer with high cholesterol, you are not alone. Your doctor may even want to put you on a statin, which is a cholesterol-lowering medication. Maybe you feel like you have no hope, but that’s just wrong. It’s all about going after the enemy, and in this case, cholesterol is the enemy!

Some of the top factors that impact cholesterol rates include drinking alcohol, the food you eat, living a sedentary lifestyle, abdominal obesity, smoking, steroid use, insulin resistance, and even genetics. About 25 percent of the people who have high cholesterol do because of genetic factors. So that means for the other 75 percent of you, there are lifestyle changes you can make in order to get it under control.

It’s important to understand your cholesterol numbers so you know where you are at. Here’s a breakdown of what the number ranges mean:

< 150 is normal

150-199 is borderline high

200-499 is high

> 500 is very high (you may die if you don’t get control of it immediately)

Your numbers may even be broken down more, into HDL and LDL figures. For HDL, think of “healthy” cholesterol, while the LDL is “lousy” cholesterol, or the one that is bad for your health. Here’s the breakdown on what your numbers mean for each of these:

HDL – the healthy cholesterol

Your goal is to have it be greater than 60, while less than 40 is considered undesirable.

LDL – the lousy cholesterol (ideally, keep it 100 and under)

100 is optimal

100-129 above optimal

130-159 borderline high

160-189 very high

VLDL is the very low density lipid protein, which being 30 and under is desirable.

Keep in mind that cholesterol itself is produced by your body. But there are foods that you eat that can raise your cholesterol level, along with the other factors. Animal based foods contain cholesterol, while plant based foods generally do not.

So if your cholesterol numbers are falling into the less than desirable area, there are options. You can do drug therapy, increase your activity, lose weight, change your eating habits (including reducing meat intake and increasing fiber intake to 25-30 grams per day), reduce alcohol consumption, and stop smoking. Stay tuned for the next blog post, where I will give you a sample exercise plan that will help with improving your cholesterol numbers.


 Three Cholesterol Lowering Meal Options


Healthy Drinks That Aren’t So Healthy After All

In our quest to get fit and be healthy, we have plenty of products to choose from today. Walk into any store, or even gas station, and the coolers are stocked with healthy drink options. But are they really so healthy? Not quite! Some products that are either being marketed as healthy, or gaining a reputation as it, are not so healthy at all, and may even be doing more damage than you realize!

Many so-called health drinks end up containing too much sugar, artificial sweeteners, and even artificial colors. These are all things that you don’t want, or need, and they may end up doing damage to your body if you reach for them long term. In fact, some may help increase the aging process. Energy drinks, for example, one can of the popular Rockstar energy drink will pump about 23 grams of sugar into you! That’s not something you want when you are trying to get healthy.

Some of the drinks you have to watch out for, that seem healthy enough, but actually are not, include:

Energy drinks

Vitamin water

Diet soft drinks

Any type of “diet” drink

Fruit juice (many appear as juice, but are only 10 percent juice and have high fructose corn syrup)

Some smoothies (depends on what they put in them)


Sports drinks

At first glance these drinks seem like they would be healthy enough. What’s wrong with tea, after all? Tea is very healthy for you and loaded with antioxidants. But when you buy it pre-made in a bottle or can, or you get it in some restaurants, it may be loaded up with sugar. Same with fruit juice and the other drinks, although they may contain some antioxidants or vitamins, such as the vitamin waters, they usually tend to have more sugar than you should sit around consuming.

So what should you drink? Your first best option is water! Water is the best way to hydrate your body, it is naturally calorie-free and doesn’t contain sugar. If you need a little something in it, try a lemon, lime, or other fruit slice. You could also occasionally have a mixed drink of seltzer with just a small splash of 100 percent fruit juice. Also, making home brewed tea, especially green tea, is a healthy drink, provided you don’t put a bunch of sugar in it. It has a lot of antioxidants that help to keep your body healthy!


First Things First: Getting Your Morning Off to the Right Start

There is no doubt that you have heard the old saying that you got up on the wrong side of the bed. You have likely either uttered those words before yourself, or they may have been said about you. The problem is that the morning can set the tone for how the rest of our entire day will go. Since it is such an important time, it is crucial that you get it off to a good start!

Starting your food with the right foot forward is easier than you may think. But it probably requires breaking a few habits so that you can create so new, better ones. If you are a baby boomer who skips breakfast or just sits around drinking a pot of coffee to get going, I have news for you. It’s time to change, for the better!

Here are some things you can do to get your morning off to the right start:

Make sure you eat breakfast. This is so important! You have to get some healthy, nutritious food in the tank before you can get going for the day. Whether you opt for oatmeal, high fiber cereal, or you make some power smoothies, make sure you eat a healthy breakfast. It can make a world of difference in reaching your health goals!

Get your workout done early. While you will still burn the calories and reap the benefits even if you do it later in the day, it’s better to do it early so that you can get it out of the way. When people plan to do it later in the day, it gives them all day to find excuses not to get it done. When you work out in the morning, you have that high calorie burn that follows, and you also have more energy.

Keep your goals handy and look at them each morning and evening. You can write them up and put them on your refrigerator or even create a vision board, where you have pictures and sayings about what you want to achieve. Put it where you will see it and remind yourself of it each day. Look at it each night before bed so that you will be focused on it when you wake up.

In the morning start your day by drinking water and green tea. Both will give your body exactly what it needs to get going and be healthy. And avoid putting a bunch of sugar in your tea, or you will void out the healthy benefits.

If you don’t think that making your morning great will do much, I challenge you to give it a try for one or two weeks. Once you try it out for that long notice how you feel. If you feel better, have more energy, get your workout in more often, etc., then continue on. My guess is that if you give this a try, it will become a long time healthy lifestyle change!

Thinking About Lap-Band Surgery? Think again!

Each year there are millions of people who consider getting lap-band surgery. Many of them decide in favor of it and go through with the risky procedure. Problem is, some of them don’t make it because they end up dying from the procedure or some form of complication following it. There are so many reasons why lap-band surgery is not the way to go!

Lap-band surgery, also referred to as laparoscopic surgery or gastric bypass surgery, is a surgical procedure that takes about four hours. Through it, a surgeon essentially alters the size of your stomach so that it can’t hold as much food. In theory, this is supposed to make you eat less, so t you take in fewer calories and end up losing weight. However, it doesn’t always work out as smoothly as planned.

Some people never make it off the operating table when they go in for lap-band surgery. Imagine, families losing someone they love simply because they were dying to be thinner. It’s a needless death that never needs to happen. In addition, there are many risks that come along with the lap-band surgery, including vomiting if you eat too much, repeat maintenances surgeries, anemia, osteoporosis, gastritis, kidney stones, and dumping syndrome, where your food moves too rapidly through your body.

The real problem with weight issues lies in things that can’t be fixed with a lap-band surgery. No surgery will address the causes of what made someone gain the weight in the first place. Emotional eating, improper nutrition, and not exercising are all things that the lap-band surgery does nothing to correct.

If you or someone you know is considering lap-band surgery, I urge you to choose not to do this. That temporary fix will cost you thousands of dollars, will put your health and life at risk, and will not get to the root of the problem or teach you how to adopt a healthy lifestyle that leads to maintaining fitness.

What does work to get, and stay, fit is to work with a personal trainer. A personal trainer will guide you on the path of health by assessing where you currently are and creating a plan to safely help you progress and get to where you need to be. Forget the risks, going into debt, and problems that come with lap-band surgery. Doing it the natural way will leave you feeling better and your pocketbook with money with which you can take a relaxing vacation. Commit to working out and becoming fit and it will happen!


7 Secrets to Healthy Summer Picnics

If you are like most baby boomers, you love a good picnic. Who doesn’t, right? They are a great way to get out in nature, relax and spend some summer days. But they can also wreak havoc on your health if you opt for the wrong foods on these picnics. In order to have a picnic that doesn’t leave you feeling guilty, or packing on the pounds, you have to keep some strategies in mind.

Healthy picnics start with the planning, so you can make sure that you have nutritious foods there in the first place. But you may also find that you attend a picnic where you have very little to do with the food involved. Whether you plan it or someone else does, here are seven secrets to healthy summer picnics:

Drinks. Being outdoors you will want to stay hydrated at the picnic. Some drinks are better than others. Some of the best picnic drink picks would be water (you can even add in slices of cucumber, lemon, lime or frozen fruit), unsweet iced tea, light lemonade, and cranberry juice cocktail.

Protein. Sure, burgers and hotdogs may try to steal the show. But your waist line would be better served by opting for things like a veggie burger, baked beans, bean salad, hummus, and lean meats (e.g., turkey, chicken).

Carbs. Just like the other areas, you have to watch your picnic carbs in order to get a healthy option. Good things to look for include cold pasta salad (made with whole wheat pasta and veggies), raw vegetables with low fat dips, nuts, and salads with low fat dressing. Also, grilled veggies such as zucchini, squash, mushrooms, and peppers are a good source of complex carbohydrates.

Drinks to avoid. There is no doubt that you will have a bevy of options in the drink category. But there are some that should be avoided at all costs. These include soda, shakes, sweet iced tea, and alcohol drinks that are loaded with calories. For example, a pina colada has around 375 calories.

Mindset. It is important to keep a positive attitude when you attend the picnic. Focus on making it a healthy time and enjoying being outdoors and with good company, rather than focusing on the food.

Spoilage. There are some foods that are known to have a high risk of spoiling at picnics because they can’t be left out in the heat for very long. These include anything with mayo (macaroni salad, coleslaw, etc.), and meat and egg products. They should not be sitting out a long time getting warm. When in doubt, skip eating these products.

Company. Try to bring along healthy-minded friends to the picnic. When there are more people who are concerned about being healthy, you have a better chance that there will be healthy options available.

Healthy picnics are within reach and within your weight loss goals. It’s just a matter of going into it with a strategy that sets you up for success. Plan ahead, keep these tips in mind, and have a great summer picnic!

Top 5 Reasons for Man Boobs, and How to Lose Them

Okay, men. You are not left out! A lot of guys I come across want to know how they can lose the man boobs. Fair enough. It is a problem that a lot of people have and addressing it is important, if only to make yourself feel more confident.

Man boobs, for those of you who are not all that familiar with the term, are literally what it sounds like. It is when men develop breast tissue, and it looks like they have boobs. If you are a Seinfeld fan, you may recall the episode where Kramer suggests to Frank Constanza that he may want to wear a “bro” to help support his man boobs.

While you don’t need to go that far, there are some things you should know if you have man boobs, including these top five reasons for them and how to address them:

There are several reasons that people get man boobs. The first one is not dangerous and is simply a result of being overweight. If you lose weight, the man boobs are likely to shrink as well. To do this, you need to focus on a healthy lifestyle. Be sure to include cardio, strength training, and healthy eating into your life to address the issue (and just be healthy).

The second reason for man boobs, or gynecomastia, as it is clinically called, is not the result of excessive fat tissue, but is more of a hormonal issue that causes the growth of breast tissue. If this is the case, you should speak with a doctor to see if there is anything you can do to address the issue.

Another reason for man boobs is simply aging. Many baby boomer men may find that as they are aging, their breast tissue is also getting larger. If you are losing weight all over, it is probably a result of weight gain. So you just need to tighten up, work out, and eat healthy.

There are also diseases that can cause men to grow breast tissue, so it is important to try to get to the root cause of why you have the man boobs. Such diseases include cancer, chronic liver disease, and kidney failure.

Medications and steroids are another cause for man boobs. There are some medications that may cause it as a side effect, and those who take steroids may find that they also grow man boobs. In this case, speak with your doctor about the medication, and if you are taking steroids, well, you know what you need to do there!

If you find that you are only growing one man boob, and not two, that can also be a serious sign of cancer, a tumor, or an overactive thyroid. So you want to make sure you get that checked out. Getting rid of man boobs can be done, but you really need to first pinpoint what is causing it in order to address it properly!