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Meet Healthbook: Apple’s First Big Step into Health & Fitness

Healthbook’s user interface is largely inspired by the iPhone’s existing Passbook application. Versions of Healthbook in testing are capable of tracking several different health and fitness data points.

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The Best Organic Hangover Remedies

DEAR SAM:  What’s the best way to cure a hangover? 

Keep in mind a couple things. The first one is to resist the temptation to use over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen, because they can amplify serious side effects from alcohol (ranging from stomach bleeding, liver damage or thinning blood).

The most important thing is to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate to clean out the toxins. So drink plenty of water before, during and after drinking. Before bed, drop 50ML of milk thistle liquid extract into a large glass of water. The morning after, do it again, and add the milk thistle extract to the water your drink throughout the following day.  (Tomato juice with cayenne pepper, sugar, and lime is a good choice because it helps replenish electrolytes and return your blood sugar to normal).  If you don’t have tomato juice, you could also use a glass of water with a dash of sea salt and sugar before bed and immediately upon waking up.  Don’t forget to add the milk thistle extract.

Use Tiger Balm to help your headache. Tiger balm, a bled of camphor, menthol, cajuput oil and clove oil, is probably one of the best topical headache cures in existence. Dab a little bit on the back of your neck and temples, massage it in and wait a few minutes.

Use wasabi or mustard baths.  (Yes, wasabi as in sushi) Because about 1/3 of toxic body waste is cleared through the skin, wasabi increases blood circulation through the organs and promotes oxygenation of the cellular tissue, helping to clear cells of metabolic waste.  Soaking in a wasabi bath will help clear toxins through your skin. You can also try using a regular mustard bath.  If you can’t access these products, make your own by pouring 2TB of pure mustard powder into warm running bath water. Sit for about 20 minutes, then dry off, take a nap and let the mustard take effect.

Move your body.  Other well-proven organic ways to relieve hangover include reflexology )(i.e., rubbing your feet) especially the outer edge area on the right foot, halfway between the middle of the foot and the little toe.  Also some yoga experts believe yoga can relieve a hangover. The main pose I recommend is to perform the seated twist which some yogis say squeezes blood out of the organs, thereby bringing fresh blood in.

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of the green — taking a couple shots of wheatgrass or a glass of green juice is immensely helpful. This delivers powerful antioxidants and enzymes to support your body inside and out.  If possible, I recommend a glass of green juice at the end of the night, and another first thing in the morning.

How to Stay Healthy When You’re On the Road

For nearly a decade, I’ve specialized in training entertainment execs and celebrities, so I know that staying in shape while traveling is one of the biggest challenges they face.

It’s also the single most important thing they can do for themselves. Why? Because exercise enhances performance. It sharpens your game. By putting in a concerted effort to take care of your body on the road, you’ll reap countless rewards: better sleep, more energy, boosted mood, less jet lag, more mental acuity. Oh, and you’ll look better, too.

Here are 11 practical ways to help you stick to your fitness goals when you travel:

KEEP WORKOUT GEAR PACKED AT ALL TIMES.  Producers and crew often keep their toiletries in a separate, ready-to-go bag, so they don’t have to re-pack for every shoot. Do the same thing when it comes to your workout gear. A pair of gym shoes can double as running shoes, a shirt made of moisture-wicking fabric, some shorts and a light jacket will usually do the trick. Pack a jump rope for a great cardio workout. If you feel more adventurous, throw in some resistance bands.

PACK WORKOUT CLOTHES IN AN EXTERIOR POCKET of your bag, so you don’t have to dig around looking for it when you arrive at your destination. This sets you up for success.

WORK OUT FIRST THING IN THE MORNING when possible. An early workout accomplishes two things: it sets the tone for the rest of your day, and it ensures that exercise gets on your schedule. Because you can’t always predict those last-minute meetings and business dinners. Personally, I know that the longer I wait to work out—the less likely it happens (unless you have a trainer).

CHOOSE HOTELS WITH GYMS.  One of my favorite websites, http://athleticmindedtraveler.com gives expert recommendations on hotels in cities around the world based on their gyms and fitness offerings. If they do not have a gym on site, ask the manager if the hotel partners with a local gyms for guests.

SET UP SESSIONS WITH A TRAINER IN ADVANCE.  Call the concierge ahead of your check in date to set up a session with a qualified fitness professional. If you’re going to be in a city for a week or more, booking some sessions with a great trainer can shake up your routine and keep you motivated while you’re on the road.

FIND OUT ABOUT GYM PARTNERSHIPS. Your home gym may allow you to work out at affiliated gyms around the world (e.g., If you’re a YMCA member, you’re usually welcome at other Y’s for free). If your gym doesn’t have clubs in other cities, ask the local gym if they have guest passes.

PRE-SHIP THE FOOD YOU NEED. Eliminate the option of eating poorly by packing or pre-shipping protein bars or shakes ahead of time. Fedex and UPS have ground and “super saver” options to make this less expensive than checking a second piece of luggage. For an extended trip, throw in some of your workout gear (a set of TRX straps, or resistance bands). That way it won’t take up space in your luggage.

REWARD YOURSELF at night with a tasty, healthy dinner. That way, when you have those crazy days, you will be looking forward to a delicious meal at night that’s both healthy and enjoyable. Red wine is encouraged!

ALTERNATE ALCOHOL WITH WATER. When you drink alcohol, you can automatically cut your consumption in half simply by alternating each alcoholic beverage with a large glass of water. Alcohol works against more than your waistline—it also interrupts sleep patterns, making the sleep you get less restful. And the importance of good sleep when traveling is huge.

TRY NOT TO EAT YOUR FEELINGS. Moving is life’s second most stressful event—and travel is stressful for many of the same reasons. When under stress, we turn to food that’s familiar and comforting. Resolve ahead of time to stick to your healthy routine. At a restaurant, make healthy meal choices—you can do it with a little extra effort.

DRAW BOUNDARIES. When you’re at the top of your game, there’s a lot of pressurestill, you’re a human being, and there comes a point where you’ll say: “Fuck it—my life starts with me.” Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. I’ve often observed that my most successful clients are those who draw boundaries and enforce them. Don’t respond to e-mails or text messages after a pre-determined time. And unless it contains your music playlists, leave your smartphone behind for the duration of your exercise time. The world won’t come crashing down. And you’ll feel better because you took charge of your life.

Sam Page, CFT 

The Mindful Eating Challenge

Last week my fitness coach, Sam Page, issued a challenge:

“FOR ONE WEEK, I want you to shop for your food every day with a budget of $10 — more or less — and ONLY buy what you will eat that day… and chocolate is required.

He allowed me one modification — that I shop for each day’s dinner and the next day’s breakfast (since I have a night job and don’t always follow normal eating habits anyway). Intriguing, particularly since he asked me to blog about it, which makes it all the more real an experience for me.

DAY #1: MONDAY

I realize I didn’t plan ahead all that well, so I don’t have Monday’s breakfast lined up. That’s OK. I will start that evening. I don’t have an immediate goal in mind, so I do what I normally do – stay in the vicinity of work, and shop at Ralph’s. Right away, I am more aware of what things cost. If you only have 10 bucks to spend, you are going to make it count. When Sam explained a very Zen way of eating excruciatingly slowly, savoring every bite, I said, “Well I can’t waste all that effort on a Snickers.” Same concept. I need to make sure I favor quality over quantity. Maybe I should have gone to Whole Foods I think to myself. Besides being relatively healthier, it’s probably easier to get more single servings of things. But I’ll find something.

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What Can I Do About My Low Thyroid?

I just found out I have low thyroid and am now taking a prescription for it [about a month now]. I haven’t been able to lose weight for two years and I’d been working out like a crazy person. I tried to gain muscle but my body fat just went up to 31 percent. I thought, WTF? Have you trained many people dealing with this medical condition, and if so have you seen success stories of people finally losing weight with the combination of exercise and Rx?  I think I’m about ready to invest again in weekly/daily exercise now that I know it’s not my diet or exercise routine that is the problem.  I just got so frustrated and gave up for a while.  Damn you, thyroid!  [well at least I now have a name for it and know what the problem is].  Just wondering your thoughts on the situation. —Betty, Lansing, Michigan

[Note from Sam: I asked my physician friend John (who's had low thyroid issues of his own) to share his thoughts on your question.  Here's what he said].

From a personal standpoint, I can tell you that I did not find much of a correlation between [weight loss and thyroid medication].  I’ve been on it for about 5 months now, and went off of it for about a month approximately two months ago. And, while that five month period roughly corresponds with my weight loss (which started in March), I do not believe the two are related. Actually, that one month that I was off the drug was the time when I began to really lose a lot of weight. It surprised me. The only explanation I can come up with is that I was falling asleep at 8PM because of the hypothyroidism, and therefore didn’t snack at night.

I know that a ton of people out there, who are morbidly obese, and want to attribute that to a thyroid deficiency. Never mind that their lips are shiny from Kentucky Fried Chicken even as they tell you this.

The gold standard for internal medicine is Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. My copy is a bit old (1987), but here’s what it says:

“Obesity can result from hypothyroidism because of decreased caloric needs. However, only a minority of hypothyroid patients are truly obese, and an even smaller proportion of obese patients are hypothyroid. Indiscriminate use of thyroid hormone in the treatment of obesity is to be deplored, and should never be instituted in the absence of documentation of decreased thyroid function.”

Perhaps the correlation with being simply overweight is clearer, but I don’t think there are many studies out there documenting this. There actually probably are not a lot of studies. But, still, lower thyroid function, so lower metabolic rate. Few calories expended, and before you know it, horizontal stripes are completely out of the question.

By the way, there are a ton of other great benefits from the drug other than just being able to stay up later. I found that it gave me a little more of a sense of well-being. Took away some sadness. Increased sex drive.

Low Testosterone? Take the Quiz

Worried about low testosterone? Researchers at St. Louis University have developed this self-screening quiz to screen for low levels of testosterone and growth hormone.

  1. Do you have a decrease in libido (sex drive)?
  2. Do you have a lack of energy?
  3. Do you have a decrease in strength and/or endurance?
  4. Have you lost height?
  5. Have you noticed a decreased “enjoyment of life”?
  6. Are you sad and/or grumpy?
  7. Are your erections less strong?
  8. Have you noticed a recent deterioration in your ability to play sports?
  9. Are you falling asleep after dinner?
  10. Has there been a recent deterioration in your work performance?

If you score higher than 5, consult your doctor.

Sam Page, Athlete, Basketball, Abs

What Motivates You: Carrot or Stickk?

Guest post by:
Dr. Arshavir Blackwell

Screen shot 2012 10 09 at 1.32.51 PM 96x91 What Motivates You: Carrot or Stickk?Stickk is a web-based motivational tool that describes itself as an online “Commitment Store.” One of its founders, Yale Economics Professor Dean Karlan, developed the system.

Users sign contracts to achieve goals: losing weight, quitting smoking, exercising more, for example. Karlan and his cofounders claim their site is based upon sound psychological principles; in particular, two well-known principles of behavioral economics: 1) people don’t always do what they say that they want to do and 2) incentives work.

Stickk has been available since 2007 and as of this writing Stickk’s website boasts:

  • $11,523,156 “on the line” (more on what that means in a moment)
  • 174,020 commitments created
  • 300,659 workouts completed
  • 2,502,250 cigarettes not smoked

This is not a website that provides motivation via vague exhortations to be a better person. Stickk is quite concrete in its methods and its goals.

How It Works

Say that you want to lose 25 pounds in time for the Hawaiian-themed office Christmas party where everyone wears leis and swimsuits. Go to the Stickk website, create an account, and enter your goal, e.g., weigh 175 pounds by December 20.

Each week, you report your weight (or whatever your goal is—the best one I saw listed was “Have no more John sex”) and Stickk tells you if your week’s loss keeps you on track for your final goal. If you’re trying to lose 25 pounds over 25 weeks, and you lose a pound that week, you have reached your week’s goal.

But Wait There’s More!

So far this is just a normal performance-tracking website. But there are two optional features designed to make it more effective:

First, you can designate a referee. Every week, this person confirms your progress in order to prevent cheating.

Second, you can put money on the line. Let’s say you wager $250. Divide this over the number of weeks that your goal is in play. Every week that you fail to lose a pound, you forfeit ten dollars: $250/25 weeks = $10 (they deduct it automatically from your credit card). Again, a referee can improve effectiveness by keeping you honest.

Where Does the Money Go?

Here is Stickk’s mean little trick: you choose an “anti-charity,” a group whose work you strongly disapprove of. When you lose, they get it.

This small, yet devious, bonus feature makes the punishment that much more burdensome. Did that pizza binge this weekend result in your donating $25 to the Organization for Experimentation on Unwanted Puppies? Better luck next time.

But, Does It Work?

I have used Stickk twice, each time to lose about 25 pounds. Both times I used a wager tied to an anti-charity, and never you mind which.

The first time, it worked. The second time, it did not. From the ashes of my failure, here are observations which might improve Stickk and give you a better chance of succeeding. But first, a bit about behavioral psychology to provide some context.

Punishment Versus Reward

Psychologists have long studied the dynamics of punishment versus reward in motivating behavior.

Punishment is defined as any action which decreases a behavior. Zapping a rat with an electric shock when it goes in to a particular corner of its cage is punishment. Over time (and pretty fast; rats are smart) it will no longer demonstrate the behavior of going into that part of the cage.

Reward is defined as any action which increases a behavior. Giving a rat a yummy treat when it goes into a certain (hopefully different) part of its cage is a reward. Over time, it will tend to demonstrate the behavior of going into that part of the cage.

You and I are no different.

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Carrot and Stick

12 Ways to Self Soothe on a Shoestring

Tools For Braving the Urban Jungle

For nearly two decades, I underestimated the sheer stress that comes just by choosing to live in an urban jungle. Amidst the traffic, poor air quality, high cost of living, and the general pace of life — Los Angeles is by far the most stressful places I’ve lived.  You actually have to TRY to relax here, which is really saying something. It led me to wonder: What are some easy ways to self-soothe? I found a few I wanted to share with you.

  1. Outdoor exercise – If you live in a big city or have an indoor desk job, you might have a deficit of exposure to Mother Earth. People with Nature Deficit Disorder who exercise outdoors in a natural environment are less agitated and have an easier time focusing. Take my NDD challenge.
  2. Indoor exercise – One psychologist I interviewed told me in his 25+ years of clinical practice, he firmly believes that a full 90 percent of his patients experiencing depression would not require therapy if they would just exercise regularly. The bottom line is that the stress has to go somewhere. Exercise releases the stress and gives you a boost of mood enhancing endorphins. Think of it as natural morphine. More…
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12 Ways To Soothe Yourself

Get abs, sleep twice & have better sex

Get your abs in 7 days, flat

To get your abs, you’ll need to eliminate sugar, optimize digestion, do exercise, lose some body fat, and balance your hormones.

  • Drink water before and after every meal
  • Do abs every day —100-300 reps per day
  • Don’t eat 3-4 hours before bed  — you’ll burn calories while you sleep
  • Ax sugars, whites, and wheats — they increase insulin resistance and cause bloating by increasing water weight
  • Wear more form fitting clothes — to increase body awareness and builds core strength
  • Don’t eat anything larger than the size of your fist.
  • Eat more broccoli, kale, cauliflower, brussel sprouts — they relieve excess negative estrogens.
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Health Trends to Watch

Take My NDD Challenge

You’ve heard of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) — you know:  anxious, depressed, trouble focusing.  But you may not have ADD at all — you might just be suffering from a lack of raw physical contact with the great outdoors. Scientists are calling this Nature Deficit Disorder. And new research from the University of Illinois shows that interaction with nature significantly reduces symptoms of ADD. People who exercise outside are less likely to get sick, be stressed, become aggressive, and are more adaptable to life’s unpredictable turns.  According to the study: ”Overall, our findings indicate that exposure to ordinary natural settings in weekend activities may be widely effective in reducing attention deficit symptoms.”  It makes sense — especially when you consider the Biophilia hypothesis.

The challenge: Spending time outdoors in nature (walking, biking, surfing, etc) has been huge in lifting my own depression and anxiety.  Here’s my challenge, for the next 28 days, make a concerted effort to exercise outdoors in a natural setting for a little while every day. Get your heart rate up — and enjoy the great outdoors, and see what a difference it will make. It’s going to change your life.

Great Advice From Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks

Anthony Robbins interviewed Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban this week on CNN, asking him what advice he would give people in this economy who are trying to improve their lives. Cuban’s advice?

“The biggest lie in mentoring is ‘follow your dreams.’ Where you should go is where your effort takes you. Don’t follow your dreams, follow your effort. Where are you willing and hungry enough to put in the time? That’s where you’ll get results.”

Cuban says we do better when we look at where we’re already putting in hard work and pay more attention to the fruits of those efforts — rather than following random pie in the sky dreams that may—or may not—get us anywhere. Now that’s valuable coaching.

Quick Tip: How To Shop Organic on a Budget

Some people think that eating organic is price prohibitive. But remember: when you choose the right quality foods, your body chemistry adjusts, and the amount you need actually goes down. If you’re on a budget, and need to prioritize what fruits and vegetables to buy organic, choose the following: celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, domestic blueberries, nectarines, sweet bell peppers, spinach, kale and collard greens, cherries, potatoes, grapes and lettuce. If you need to trim more from your budget but still want to buy organic, Costco now sells many kinds of organic produce. You can also buy frozen organic fruits and veggies to save even more money.  

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