Humbug! Ebenezer Scrooge wasn’t a Well Past Forty follower, nor was he very fit, according to author Charles Dickens in A Christmas Carol. His mental well-being took a turn for the better by story’s end, so all was not lost for good ‘ol Ebenezer.
As our Queen’s English often does, varied meanings of a word like HUMBUG exist. To some Brits, humbug is a peppermint candy. To others around our crazy world, a humbug is a person who is an imposter.
To this scribe, an urbandictionary.com definition of humbug [NONSENSE] is fitting for several reasons at this time of our FY (Fitness Year).
It makes little sense to worry about a good party’s impact on your regimen, as long as some key trimmings are moderated.
It makes little sense to party hearty until New Year’s Day, then think a New Year’s Resolution will overcome excesses and stick for the long-haul.
It seems like nonsense to ignore good counsel for: portion control, watching alcoholic intake and skipping good carbs (high fiber, low glycemic indices) through the holidays.
What isn’t nonsense?
A paradox of depression at the “most wonderful time of the year” for too many folks.
Coincidence of influenza season with our Holidays
For some, a tendency to over-train, then suffer after-effects
Under-hydration with good old H2O
Stressing over a missed sale item, or a Christmas card which didn’t get sent
What makes good sense?
Listening to your body
Eating slowly, and going for the greens on offered plates
Monitoring your resting heart rate, and taking appropriate actions
Fending off holiday hustle and bustle. Don’t let Cortisol become a big player in your festivities
Celebrating advances in your wellness journey to put life in your years and add years to your life.
Bounteous meals and together times make Thanksgivings in our country wonderful affairs. We are particularly thankful for first responders, caregivers and military folks who spend Thursday, November 2rd away from loved ones.
Sad yet true than American adults may gradually gain ~ 2 pounds from this Feast through New Year’s revelry. Sadder truths are that most of us don’t lose those packed on Pilgrim pounds, despite New Year’s resolutions. A cookie here, a skipped workout there. It happens to most of us. The venerable NY Times painted a darker rest of the story a decade ago which hasn’t changed. The added poundage is non-linear for heavier folks. “The extended period through New Year’s is more alcohol, more snacks, more finger food…”
What to do?
Enjoy a jog or a race on Thanksgiving morning. The original Turkey Trot began in Buffalo NY in 1896 with an intimate entry list of 6 runners. Mary Forgione, LA Times writer, offered that that original Trot now has ~1,000 copy-gobbler events. Find one near you, tack on that bib, and get a bling plus memories. Take a good stroll with pals, kids / grand-kids after your feast, which should be eaten early. REV UP your Metabolism! Try an intermittent fast of at least 12 hours after Turkey Day – yet don’t pass out while BLACK Friday shopping. Moderate your alcohol – enjoy noble grapes and adult beverages – yet NOT too much.
Pick a Challenge contest, like the excellent one offered by Concept II, and just do it’s taskings. You’ll be better for your commitment and efforts.
* Consume food in LEAST processed forms. Eat fresh. Enjoy plant-based calories (pumpkin is a very good food source – sans excess whipped cream). A Vermonter like me might have warm pumpkin pie with just a savory sliver of extra sharp cheddar cheese, though my family unit rolls its eyes when I do 🙁
Stay on the reservation for your rest and regimen for most of this Holiday season, regardless of whether your college / professional football team plays past January 1st. Sure, a day off, without gluttony can be a good thing to keep one eager to sweat in following days.
Author Matt Fitzgerald (Racing Weight) suggests, as does WEBMD that conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, “may” support weight management during the Holidays. If you try CLA, buyer beware, as we always put in our mouse prints, for getting the right potency from trusted providers.
This isn’t easy – yet truly try the good ‘ol portion control for “alcohol, more snacks, more finger food.” Keep your small plaates…SMALL.
Substitute veggies and low glycemic index yummies for more energy-dense carbs, and stay away from boxed hors-d’oeuvres.
We can enjoy these ~7 weeks of Holiday merriment each year without contributing our own avoirdupois statistics to alarming national trends.
I’m not sure why biochemists opt for big words like polysaccharides. If only Mark Twain were a biochemist, life might be easier.
I remember my unscientific difference between biology and chemistry from high school classes – many moons ago… – If it’s green – it is biology, if it smells, it is chemistry. Let’s combine green and smelly halves into a “crossover” term -> BIOCHEMISTRY – which means to this layman – all chemical processes in our living bodies.
Carbon(C), Hydrogen(H) and Oxygen(O) are important to our life processes – I’m sure that you’ll agree.
As mentioned in other posts – too much of one good thing – Oxygen – may not be wonderful if it becomes a “RUSTY” free radical in our cells from stress, smoking, exposure to sunlight or exercise.
These three vital elements form the basis of organic chemistry (aka living chemistry) in our bodies.
We’ll accept NITROGEN (N) as a fourth vital element for our wellness journeys. Why? Nitrogen bonds into “amine” groups, for amino acids, which ultimately form proteins in our amazing body chemistry. More about amino acids in a future post.
From socratic.org pages, we snagged a chemical structure of an “EVIL” sugar – FRUCTOSE- alongside a glucose molecule, which is our basic energy source stored and used at the cellular level of both brain and muscle.
What a difference another bonded CH2 can make…
Bodily storage efficiencies are achieved when simple sugars become chemically bonded, or chained, into multi-sugared chains, for which we used a big name – POLYsaccharides.
Let’s add a Khan Academy figure of a stored form of such a “poly sugar” [polysaccharide], called glycogen, which is stored in our livers:
Sugar, and stored sugar, polysaccharides, are vital to life. Our brains are the biggest organic consumer of glucose sugar in our daily routines, followed by our muscles.
There are only three bodily places where saccharides are stored:
Glucose, with aid of insulin, moves via our bloodstreams, to prioritized organs and their cell’s powerhouses to enable us to move, respire, reproduce and restore.
Our carefully regulated blood sugar system is fascinating! One published source suggests that blood sugar differences between non-diabetic and diabetic persons is less than a teaspoon of sugar. YUP! When a pancreas and insulin can’t manage blood sugar – a person is un-regulated by far less than a teaspoon of sugar.
We non-diabetics normally flow just ~4 grams or about 17 calories of sugar in our bloodstreams. That’s about the amount to power a minute of running or rowing…
What happens to our blood system and body when we go off the reservation and have super-sized Mickey D’s lunch? According to patch.com,
“Think about eating an extra-value meal at McDonald’s, for example, 2 cheeseburgers, a large order of fries, ketchup, and a coke. This amounts to 230 grams of carbohydrates which converts to 230 grams of sugar, or about 46 teaspoons of sugar*. That’s putting in your body 46 times the amount of sugar required to maintain a healthy blood sugar level.”
*Note: My algebra generates a slightly different result, yet I support the bottom line.
A $64K or $640 K, or ultimately a $640 Billion health question for Americans is:
How effectively can one’s liver and pancreas labor process ingested sugar and manage blood sugar levels?
Too much sugar can lead to pre-diabetic or Type II diabetic conditions…
But wait, there is much more, regrettably. If that double-arched, super-size of sugar isn’t used quickly, our efficient metabolism can produce:
the fatty rub for far TOO MANY Americans:
Simple flowing sugars can be processed to fatty acids, then into FAT, quite easily, in our liver’s chemical reaction called lipogenesis. In survival or sedentary life modes, our bodies are “wired” to store fat efficiently. Michael Moore was right, in my opinion, about high fructose devilry in our food industries, especially when SUPER-SIZED. Processed Fructose is muy malo:
“…obesity expert Robert Lustig contends that sugar is a poison that has a high propensity to be stored as body fat. Lustig contends that not all types of calories act the same way once inside the body. Fructose is not metabolized in the same way as other foods and is much more likely to be stored as fat in the liver. The doctor notes that in respect to health, sugar is worse than fat and can have the same artery-clogging effects. Lustig also says that eating fruit is OK because it also contains fiber, which partially blocks a portion of its carbohydrates from being absorbed. Of all sugars, processed forms of fructose, such as high-fructose corn syrup [HFCS], are the worst, according to Lustig.”
HFCS is definitely a four-letter word :(.
How hideous is the linkage between fatty deposits and diabetes? Really hideous!
What to do?
Try to stay healthy with 100 grams of carbohydrates eaten each day (a sweet equivalent of ~400-420 calories of sugar). Try to ingest most of those 100 grams as polysaccharides (like high fiber beans, fruits and vegetables).
And try to avoid one processed “monosaccharide”, namely boxed fructose or HFCS at all costs.
Too much of a good thing (sugar) is definitely NOT wonderful.
a. Last Friday, November 3rd, was a National Sandwich Day.
b. Today was more than a normal Taco Tuesday, as November 7th, 2017 was proclaimed as National Taco Day. Right.
Now, I myself am not a perfect avoider of fast fat (oops – that is twice). There are reputable research findings which suggest that going off the reservation for a day to have a “right” sandwich or taco can actually help in one’s fitness journey. Some folks like me DO ease off from our don’t eat crap mantras from Younger Next Year once a week.
That offered, me thinks that the type, fixins’ (and portion size, naturally) of a sandwich or taco plate is muy importante. As actor John Wayne may have advised as Sergeant Stryker,
“Life is tough enough without being stupid.”
Be a bit silly one day a week, yet listen to Sergeant Stryker. He ate combat rations on Iwo Jima.
Multiple Sclerosis is a relevant human condition for our Well Past Forty Project which merits mention – and I’ll take that for action.
A Master of Science graduate degree? Not “that” M.S.”
“M.S.” as the subject of this post, is a rather ominous sounding condition for far too many folks – METABOLIC SYNDROME.
Too many Americans – as in three (3) million each year become part of this infographic’s terrible statistics (Thank you, Dr. Axe). OY!
And, if age 60 is indeed the new 40, we’ve got a major societal problem.
Aussies label Metabolic Syndrome as “CHAOS” – for good reason! “It affects one in five people, and prevalence increases with age. Some studies estimate the prevalence in the USA to be up to 25% of the population.”
Are there markers for a “3 outta 5” cluster on which your Primary Care Physician will alert?
Definitely – review entries in this American Heart Association table for five (5) possible eye-opener ELEVATIONS or epiphanies:
Elevated waist circumference:
Men — Equal to or greater than 40 inches (102 cm)
Women — Equal to or greater than 35 inches (88 cm)
(I’ll blog more about pear- and apple-shaped silhouettes in a future post – visceral and subcutaneous fat locations matter!)
2. Elevated triglyceride levels:
Equal to or greater than 150 mg/dL
3. Reduced HDL (“good”) cholesterol:
Men — Less than 40 mg/dL
Women — Less than 50 mg/dL
4. Elevated blood pressure:
Equal to or greater than 130/85 mm Hg, or use of medication for hypertension
5. Elevated fasting glucose:
Equal to or greater than 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L), or use of medication for hyperglycemia
(Our American Diabetes Association is in stride with these AHA markers above).
Americans – We HAVE MAJOR PROBLEMS here!
Is there hope for millions of us? It depends, regrettably.
If a person chooses to break away from CHAOS, a statistical answer is YES (if and when he or she complies with lifestyle, diet and fitness improvements).
I don’t get jazzed by the term, “SUPERFOOD”. Perhaps I should?
Broccoli, which I defend as does this OPED author, is grouped with other nutrient rich* superfoods (aka super-vegetables) – kale, bok choy, cauliflower, collard greens, brussel sprouts… I do get amped by nutrient richness and special cancer-fighting chemicals called glucosinulates (absorbed from these veggie phytonutrients)!
Note that spinach isn’t a cruciferous vegetable (it’s a chenopod veggie). Yet Popeye got those “Strong to the Finish” forearms for good reason! We rowers will play Popeye and eat plenty of steamed spinach for a few days before a long race to bump up our vascular capacity. Beetroot is also documented as a safe, natural ergogenic provider of nitrates for improved performance 🙂 … dietary nitrate “reduced the increase in pulmonary oxygen uptake during moderate exercise by ∼19%, reduced the slow component of O2 uptake during severe exercise, and increased time to exhaustion.”
rich? We hope that our super-veggies are grown without pesticides in rich soil (hah). Neither of these hopes is assured – unfortunately. Loss of topsoil is a big problem for our planet home. Agrochemicals are BAD, and this is not my lone ranger claim… Let’s tackle these BIG and SAD topics on another day.
Back to crucifereous properties which are GOOD.
It’s not just cancer-fighting properties – though those are important – fer sure. It is also documented by MDs that “right” phytonutrients and also polyphenols (from fruits and uber-vegetables) can:
limit skin aging (why do some vegans have quality derm)?,
help our digestive system, and
promote heart health
– all very good wellness things – yes?
My Mom was right. I should, and do eat my green leafy vegetables. I will blog away about Breaking our Fasts (breakfasts) in a later post. Yet these super-vegetables can and should be included in a fitness breakfast. Essential choline in your eggs can be better absorbed if you add spinach or kale to your omelet or scramble.
Thanks to Deviant Art for this real man diet reminder (which also goes for real WOMEN – yes?)
Remember – it’s not just the quantity of micro-nutrient ingested – it’s how effective the absorption of those nutrients is!
Is “age just a number?” It depends on your rest, exercise and diet – or as I call it – seeing R-E-D…
President of the American College of Sports Medicine (ASCM), Walt Thompson, shared in a WSJ article last week that intentional slowing down is NOT an option if Gen Xers hope to maintain a fitness plateau in middle age…
“Muscle growth generally peaks at around the age of 25 and plateaus for about another decade… before starting to decline [I add that cardiorespiratory capacity follows a “like pattern of decline:( ].
Ask Tom Brady, with his hush hush “TB12” regimen about staving off loss of strength (skeletal muscle mass – sarcopenia), and joint elasticity. In this WSJ article – 40 year old defenseman Zdeno Charo of the NHL Boston Bruins- was a subject for President Thompson’s advice (and he is certainly not alone in his views!);
“the trick is to maintain the same level of physical activity over the years . . . more sleep, better nutrition and more attention to recovery and flexibility… (See R-E-D like me].
How long can you maintain your active lifestyle? That is your (and my) personal $64K question.
How important is it for you to avoid cellular senescence?
How important is it for you to run around vigorously with grandkids and great friends on planned epic vacations?
Or how important is it for you to set a national record or world record in an athletic event for your age bracket?
Crowley and Dodge (of Younger Next Year fame) assert we can build muscles into our 80’s decades (though harder to do, as Thompson advised)…
A rowing coach of mine, Marlene Royal, advises that there is a mini-down-step at around age 70 when physical improvement gets harder in non-linear ways. That is consistent with Joe Friel who challenges us to “Be Fast After 50.”
Bottom Lines for me?
Keeping limber, investing the time for prudent aerobic training and resistance regimens, chasing rest, and “good enough” diets are worth the quest.
Ask me in ~ 5 years about “my” age 70 step down . . .
As a masters athlete, I just have to get slower slower than my competition. My maximum heart rate is no longer over 200. My “T” isn’t what it used to be as a young guy. My resting heart rate is longer 29 (though it is 42-43 beats per minute).
I’ll just do my best by seeing R-E-D and by putting in my time and talent.
Last night, under our bright BEAVER Moon of early November, I thought about ultra-distance running, and of course, reflected on inflammation and oxidative free radicals generated during LONG hard runs – like marathons and ultra events.
[I read an article about this 2017 NYC Marathon, after this week’s senseless terrorist event on a Manhattan bike path. Peggy Noonan wrote far more eloquently about relief than I ever will about this “Street” event and New Yorkers’ resolve in Saturday’s edition].
Back to celebrating and reflecting on cardiovascular fitness and a paradox… Today, I extend my heartiest “WELL DONE” to Shalane Flanagan for her historic win in the NYC Marathon today. Who suggested that American women can’t run marathons really fast? This blog’s title, “this is for Meb”, came from today’s online NYTimes.
This American immigrant, Meb Keflezighi, is the lone person in history to win: a. an Olympic medal in the marathon (Athens, 2004), b. the NYC Marathon (2009), and c. the Boston Strong Marathon (2013). He has reportedly retired after crossing the finish line (then briefly collapsing) today in Central Park. – We San Diegans are proud to claim Meb and his family as local heroes.
Is 26 elite marathons a “stop now” signal? It was for Meb today. Shalane may also step back from marathoning at the young age of 36 (by my standards). Burnout? Empty tank?
This finish line image of Shalane as victor (in ~ 2:26!):
shows as a very low body fat athlete – fer sure. Yet even this lean, unworldly athletic “freak of nature” gets inflammation. And, she has a higher than average chance of getting sick this week because her immune system is challenged in what this article labels “the elite athlete’s paradox”
“Marathon running can also lead to the production of too much cortisol,” Viana says. “Like Interleukin-10, this can suppress the immune system, but there’s evidence you can blunt its effects by making sure you maintain your carbohydrate levels as much as possible during and after exercise. But these things are also related to psychological stress – you have to try to keep that to a minimum and make sure you get adequate sleep as the circadian rhythms can have a big effect on your immune response.”
On a personal note – from my own Clydesdale experiences, marathons are one heck of a way to burn a pound of body fat – yup – 1 POUND average… We ran them (in my day) because Jim Fixx wrote THE COMPLETE BOOK OF RUNNING in 1977. After Jim died on a solitary Vermont jog at age 52, a clarity light bulb clicked – NATURE and NURTURE are important to longevity and wellness!
* Fixx had a horrible family history of heart disease; his father had a heart attack at age 35 and died of one at age 43
* Fixx had been a heavy smoker
* He was under terrible stress from a second divorce
* Even though he had lost 70 pounds, he did not have a healthful diet.
All the miles logged obviously weren’t enough to get Jim to his golden years…
Right you are…I wondered in words from NYC finish lines, to tragic bike paths, to my early (happy days) of 42KM events, to inflammation, to NATURE and NURTURE.
Too much of a good thing, too often, is NOT wonderful (sorry Mae West) by my estimation, study and lessons learned.
Too much inflammation; from one’s diet elements, oxidative free radicals from intense exercise, or stresses of daily life can be tragically BAD. It Depends.
How I miss my runner’s highs, since I hung up my Adidas Marathon Trainers and singlets, 15 years ago due after my spinal fusion. Now, and how I try to watch my indicators for inflammation / suppression of my immune system:
higher than normal resting heart rate,
sniffles as onset of colds, or worse 🙁
grumpiness from over-training,
“low fuel tank” in hard workouts, etc.
Help your immune system by keeping psychological stress in check (ha!). And monitor, in your own ways, for evidence of suppressed immune systems / heightened inflammation (cortisol) after runner’s highs.