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Do You Know What Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance Are?

Studies now shows that celiac disease and gluten intolerance, affect around 15% of the North American population.  It is possible that you are one of these people. It is important that you are able to identify gluten intolerance symptoms?

We first need to identify the difference between celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Celiac disease is an immune reaction. It is a sudden and severe onset allergic reaction to the wheat protein called gluten. Gluten can be found in several different but very common grains such as wheat, rye, barley and oats. Celiac disease is initially a disorder of the auto-immune system, it is also a disease of malabsorption because essential nutrients are not able to absorb into the body. One of the most devastating symptoms of celiac disease going undiagnosed is malnutrition.

Typically, gluten intolerance often has a much slower onset than celiac disease, and tends to be harder to diagnose due to the wide range of symptoms and the many sources in which it is hidden.

Imagine a continuum of gluten intolerance symptoms; celiac disease would be found at the most extreme end with immediate autoimmune reactions. There are people with celiac disease that may not immediate symptoms, but internally the malabsorption of all these essential nutrients can erode one's health over many years. It is important to note that both celiac disease and gluten intolerance can be exacerbated by infection, surgery, emotional stress pregnancy and childbirth. Not everyone with a gluten intolerance or allergy will experience the exact same symptoms or to the same degree.  This creates a great challenge for medical practitioners trying to do a diagnosis.

    Here are some of the symptoms but not necessarilly limited to gluten intolerance and celiac disease.

  • Fluctuations in weight
  • Nutritional deficiencies, example: low iron levels
  • Gastro-intestinal problems (bloating, pain, gas, constipation, diarrhea)
  • Body Pains
  • Stiff and Aching joints
  • Eczema and Skin Irritations
  • Depression
  • Head aches
  • Exhaustion
  • Irritability and behavioral changes
  • Infertility, irregular menstrual cycle and miscarriage
  • Cramps, tingling and numbness
  • Slow infant and child growth
  • Decline in dental health

If Gluten intolerance remains undiagnosed for a long enough period of time, conditions have been found to contribute to diabetes, cancer of the bowel, anemia and osteoporosis.

So, why are the symptoms of gluten intolerance so varied?

Much about gluten intolerance and celiac disease is still unknown.  Gluten intolerance can affect anyone from children to adults in a variety of ways, but one thing that has been found is the less stress the better for the affected person.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that emotional trauma and stress play a large role in amplifying the symptoms. Several studies have findings that show that the longer a baby is breastfed and the further it's delayed that they start eating gluten rich foods, it will creates a lower chance of developing celiac disease.  Completely avoiding gluten through a pregnancy and in a child’s younger years of development may also raise the possibilities of an allergic reaction, as the child's developing digestive system cannot recognize the substance at all.  Researchers remain unsure but perhaps a more moderate approach is best when attempting to preventing celiac disease, especially if the parents know that there is a genetic predisposition to the disease. Mothers might reduce but not eliminate gluten foods when pregnant, breastfeed for a longer than average period, and start introducing low gluten grains as first foods for baby.

How to diagnose celiac disease and gluten intolerance?

Until recently it was somewhat of a challenge to diagnose celiac disease because it does have such a wide variety of symptoms and are quite similar to a few other common diseases. Some examples of these are Crohn’s disease, chronic fatigue, iron deficiency as well as intestinal infections can all have similar symptoms. There may be in fact a relationship between gluten intolerance and some of these conditions.  An person may have a combination of issues that become worse by food choices that do not agree with their body.  Doctors now know to test for raised levels of certain auto-antibodies in the blood. These antibodies are produced when the body senses a dangerous allergen, such as gluten. If the results indicate an allergy to gluten the doctor may perform a small intestine biopsy. This will reveal the damage to the villi in the small intestine. It is important to eat an ordinary diet including gluten, before being tested.

Look For The Gluten Free Symbol

Another method is to self test for gluten intolerance.  This requires a complete modification of a person's diet. It's a relatively simple thing to do, but does take a little bit of commitment.  For it to work properly a person needs to remove many normal things from their diet and resort whole/natural foods without wheat gluten such as rice, fruits and vegetables, and any fresh meat.  You can trust packaging that has a "Gluten Free" symbol on it.  Foods that contain gluten will have ingredients on the packaging that include Maltodextrin, caramel color, and wheat flour.  At this point it becomes important to understand how to read a food ingredients label.  If a person is feeling any of the possible gluten intolerance symptoms at the start of this process, they should begin to recede within a week or two.  At the time when the symptoms have all subsided, other foods can start to be introduced back into the diet a little bit at a time. It then takes a conscious effort to be aware if and when the symptoms begin to return.

New Research Suggests Brown Rice Can Offer Cardiovascular Protection

Nutrition questions from around the gym; here are your answers!

Typically, rice is thought to be a healthy addition to the diet because it is a source of fiber. However, not all rice is equally nutritious, and brown rice might have an unique advantage over white rice by offering protection from high blood pressure and atherosclerosis (“hardening of the arteries”), say researchers at the Cardiovascular Research Center and Department of Physiology at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

New research by Satoru Eguchi, Associate Professor of Physiology, suggests that a component in a layer of tissue surrounding grains of brown rice may work against angiotensin II. Angiotensin II is an endocrine protein which causes blood vessels to constrict and known culprit in the development of high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.

Brown Rice and Angiotensin II

The subaleurone layer of Japanese rice, which is located between the white center of the grain and the brown fibrous outer layer, is rich in oligosaccharides and dietary fibers, making it particularly nutritious. However, when brown rice is polished to make white rice, the subaleurone layer is stripped away and the rice loses some of its nutrients. The subaleurone layer can be preserved in half-milled (Haigamai) rice or incompletely-milled (Kinmemai) brown rice. These types of rice are popular in Japan because many people there believe half-milled (Haigamai) rice and incompletely-milled (Kinmemai) are healthier than white rice.

The Temple team and their colleagues at the Wakayama Medical University Department of Pathology and the Nagaoka National College of Technology Department of Materials Engineering in Japan sought to delve into the mysteries of the subaleurone layer and perhaps make a case for leaving it intact when rice is processed. Because angiotensin II is a perpetrator in such lethal cardiovascular diseases, the team chose to focus on learning whether the subaleurone layer could somehow inhibit the wayward protein, angiotensin II, before it wreaks havoc.

First, the researchers removed the subaleurone tissue from Kinmemai rice (incompletely-milled rice). Then the researchers separated the subaleurone tissue's components by exposing the subaleurone tissue to extractions of various chemicals such as ethanol, ethyl acetate and methanol. They then observed how the subaleurone tissue affected cultures of vascular smooth muscle cells. Vascular smooth muscle cells are an integral part of blood vessel walls and are direct victims of high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.

During their analysis, the team found that subaleurone components that were selected by an ethyl acetate extraction inhibited angiotensin II activity in the cultured vascular smooth muscle cells. This suggests that the subaleurone layer of rice offers protection against high blood pressure and atherosclerosis. It could also help explain why fewer people die of cardiovascular disease in Japan, where most people eat at least one rice-based dish per day, than in the U.S., where rice is not a primary component of daily nutrition.

“Our research suggests that there is a potential ingredient in rice [subaleurone] that may be a good starting point for looking into preventive medicine for cardiovascular diseases,” said Dr. Eguchi. “We hope to present an additional health benefit of consuming half-milled or brown rice [as opposed to white rice] as part of a regular diet.”

New Research Suggests Brown Rice Can Offer Cardiovascular Protection  -  Written by Jeff behar

Warning Signs Of Primary Immunodeficiency

Approximately 13,000 Canadians suffer from Primary Immunodeficiency.

Your Immune System is a vast internal network of cells, tissues and organs whose job it is to protect your body from harmful invasion by foreign bodies such as viruses, bacteria and toxins. Primary immunodeficiency (PI) refers to an immune system that is either broken or completely missing from birth. It is not acquired after birth from infection or accident. It is a genetic malfunction, unique to an individual. Early diagnosis is crucial. Untreated PI can lead to serious damage to organs, physical disabilities and, in the most severe cases, death.

There are warning signs of PI, like recurrent infections of the ears and skin, pneumonia, bronchitis and sinusitis. For some, the first infection will be serious and life- threatening—a definite red flag that there may be a problem with their immune system. Some will suffer recurrent infections from infancy. However, some infants with PI will not show symptoms early on due to Immunoglobulin A (IgA), an antibody that plays a critical role in mucosal immunity. Babies receive IgA through breast milk from the mother or from antibodies that cross the placenta in the womb and remain in the infant’s body until four to six months of age when normal infants start to make their own antibodies. In some cases, warning symptoms will not show up until later in life, sometimes as far along as middle age.

Diagnosis begins with the understanding and recognition of the warning signs. Are there more infections than normal? Do infections recur after treatment with medications? Do infections not respond to usual medications? The infections involved differ for adults and children. Please see the charts to the right. All too often the significance of the warning signs is overlooked, sometimes because they may seem quite mild.

 

Beyond The Weight Room With Melissa Leier: Compeition Nutrition

How Dieting Impacts The Body And Mind

HOW WE FUEL OUR BODIES and our brains has a significant impact on what we can achieve during a major physical transformation as well as how we function day to day. Athletes who train for physique competitions fuel up for a purpose and have specific goals in mind to reach the desired outcomes. Nutritional plans are different for short-term phases, like a leaning-out phase of preparation for a physique contest, also called the “diet down”, and longer terms, such as building lean muscle mass in an off-season. When it comes to the sometimes extreme practices of contest preparation nutrition, there can be negative impacts on an athlete’s body and mind.

What We Do And How We Do It

Competition preparation varies from athlete to athlete, but generally starts 16 to 20 weeks before the contest date. To sculpt that chiselled, competition- ready physique, competitors do more than adhere to a gruelling workout schedule. Following very specific nutrition protocols makes all the difference while preparing for a contest. The goal of competition preparation is to reduce body fat while preserving muscle.

Food selection, meal timing and calorie intake vs. expenditure each play a role in achieving winning physiques for competitions. The right nutrition plan essentially helps eliminate subcutaneous fat, making the skin appear thinner and allowing muscle striations to emerge, showcasing your lean physique. Then competitors can show off the art of a muscular physique resulting from all their hard work in the gym.

Competition nutrition plans aim to trim away fat and this is only done by burning more than you’re consuming to create a calorie deficit. During contest prep, frequent meal times, clean eating and sufficient protein content help preserve lean mass. This allows athletes to reach body fat percentages as lean as six to eight per cent for women or two to four per cent for men without a significant loss of muscle mass.

It Works, But…
Although following an exact and strict plan will achieve the desired physique results for a contest, it should be considered temporary and should change post-contest. A contest prep diet does restrict or limit certain food choices and it may not be wise to eliminate nutrients our bodies may need in the long-term. Some physique athletes go two to three months without fruit or dairy, with limited essential fats/oils, high-sugar foods and starch carbohydrates. All athletes are impacted differently. Some will breeze through a contest preparation and not have anything change with their systems during the different phases of nutrition. However, others may experience dry skin or hair, irregular digestive systems or even emotional ups and downs as a result of a restricted content prep diet.

Carb Depletion And Mental Fog

Reducing certain carbohydrates in the short-term runs the risk of producing a metabolic condition of ketosis, which can potentially cause an athlete to feel lethargic, sluggish and tired. The problem with this is that it can decrease the intensity of training and activity level, which is needed to burn calories. In addition to the physical impact, some athletes report that the lack of carbs creates a “mental fog” or an impact on cognitive performance. The mental fog could result in little things like forgetting where you set your keys down or putting the dry oatmeal back into the refrigerator and the eggs into the cupboard. Therefore, it is important to find a healthy balance of nutrition with sufficient macronutrients to fuel workouts and brain function, while allowing your body to burn more calories than you’re consuming.

Appearance

Some athletes find that having nutrition plans high in protein and low in fat, sugar and carbohydrates, while avoiding excessive sodium and dairy, can lead to the body storing less water. This can reduce the appearance of bloating and help with showing muscularity striation, but sometimes the skin can look less full, showing wrinkles and looking dry. This tends to be even more apparent the day of the competition when water intake is reduced. Often you’ll see athletes with “shrunken in” cheeks or more apparent shadows under their eyes. I find that this look leads to some people’s perception of the bodybuilder athlete as looking “unhealthy,” but this effect usually only lasts a day or two.

Digestion Regularity And The Cheat Meal

The temporary reduction in certain nutritional options can also impact some athletes’ digestive systems—bowel regularity in particular. I recommend staying well hydrated and consuming sufficient fibre from celery, cucumbers, asparagus, spinach and more. I describe it as a reduction rather than an omission because many have found that a strategy that includes a “cheat meal” once in a while can be helpful. This can not only get the digestive system moving again, but can refuel the body full of energy when certain things have been limited. Having one cheat meal every few weeks throughout contest preparation or as needed means you’re not depriving yourself of cravings, making it more do-able to go the distance with super clean eating over the course of several months and not feel like you’re missing out.

The Houdini Abs Effect

The post-contest period can be disappointing to those new to the sport of competition. When an athlete has unrealistic expectations of maintaining the look of the physique they had on stage, it can seem like the weeks of work they put in to lean out can all disappear within one to two weeks. But they are not necessarily “gaining it all back.” It can be the body’s skin cells filling back up with water content from post-contest nutritional and hydration changes, which creates a softer look on top of the muscle. I call this the “Houdini Abs Effect”—there one day, gone the next! For me, it takes several months to shed the body fat to have my abdominal muscles showing, but within three days of re-hydrating they’re gone. Don’t let this play mind games with you. As long as you practice regular exercise, clean eating and healthy lifestyle practices year- round you are doing great, whether you have defined, chiselled abs or not!

Positive vs. Negative

Yes, there are some potentially negative impacts on the body in the short term from the strict dieting necessary for competition. However, more often than not, the positive impacts outweigh some of the negatives. Emotionally, endorphins released from exercise will boost our mood and we will feel great. Regular exercise paired with a clean eating nutrition plan is the key to vitality.

Why We Do It

So, with all of the potential downsides for athletes during contest preparation, why do we do it? Well, it is the personal challenge, experience and sense of achievement that we love. It is the visual confirmation of our hard work. You get to see the curves, cuts, striations and bulk of muscle hypertrophy built up in the gym. It is the sense of accomplishment that we’ve taken our fitness to the next level and the personal motivation that separates us from those who don’t compete. Remember, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it!

 

Photos by Tyler Harris

The Anti-Aging Agents of Exercise and Weight Training

Questions from around the gym: Working out helps me shape and tone my body, what are some of the health benefits of weight training?

The Anti-Aging Agents of Exercise and Weight Training

By the time you finish reading this article, you, like every other person alive on the planet, will have gotten a bit older. From the moment we are born, we begin to mature but naturally, we don’t really pay any attention to getting older until we start actually seeing and feeling all the tangible signs of the passage of time on our body. We are living longer than ever before mostly due to advances in medical technology and improvements in living conditions.  In fact, by the year 2030, there will be over double the amount of North Americans over the age of 65 than in the year 2000. Unfortunately, we have been  influenced once again into viewing the aging process as an illness that we must treat and reversed.  Increased body fat, significant loss of muscle mass and strength to the point of infirmity in addition to the slew of age associated conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension and osteoporosis are erroneously seen as an inevitable consequence of growing older. However, studies of older individuals who regularly engaged in weight training and bodybuilding have always challenged the idea that such infirmities come more as a self-fulfilling prophecy as a result of inactivity and poor dietary choices than a fate that we are all destined to suffer.  This article is going to take a look at the physiological aspect of aging and how weight training and exercise can create what gerontologists nowadays refer to as successful aging; basically getting older with a low probability of disease or physical disability, maintaining high cognitive and physical function and having an active engagement with life in later years.

Understanding The Mechanisms Of Aging
Start by understanding just how exactly does aging occur. It is easy to recognize the results of aging, however there are certain biological mechanisms at work that we are often unaware of. The number cells that make up our body are kept at a relatively steady number through the process of mitosis (remember back to hisgh school biology, cells dividing) typically even with the number of cells that are dying. This balance is know as homeostasis, and it is utterly necessary for optimal health and body function however this equilibrium cannot be maintained indefinitely.  In what is called the Hayflick limit, all animal cells have a limited number of times that they can reproduce. As we get older, senescence sets in- which is a decline in the ability of our bodies’ cells to divide. This usually starts in our early thirties and continues on throughout our lives. One prevailing theory is that the everyday occurrence of cellular reproduction leads to cumulative damage to our DNA and cells begin to die or not function correctly. This process, called apoptosis is actually beneficial as it acts a way of ‘cleaning up’ that benefits the healthy remaining cells. Taken as a whole, aging thus is nothing more than our bodies decline in being able to deal with stress. Maintaining homeostasis becomes more and more difficult until a point is reached where the organism dies.

The Role Of Weight Training In The Prevention of Muscle Wasting

 Building muscle however through the use of a well executed weight training program of sufficient intensity is a way of increasing our bodies’ potential response to stress. As we get older, one of the main aspects working against us from being as strong and as built as we were in our younger years is sarcopenia. Sarcopenia which means literally ‘poverty of the flesh’, refers to the loss of skeletal  muscle mass that comes with aging which in turn leads to weakness and frailty. For the average member of the population, as much as 50% of your skeletal muscle mass is lost between the ages of 20 and 90 years resulting in in a corresponding reduction in muscular strength. Such loss of muscle mass is usually associated as well with an increase in overall body fat. However as normal an occurrence this might be for most of us, studies suggest that lack of exercise- or more specifically weight bearing resistance exercise (like weight training) may be one of the overriding causes of sacropenia.

We don’t have to lose such large amounts of muscle mass as we age, but without an active lifestyle that incorporates some form of resistance exercise over the course of time our bodies will indeed fall victim to the syndrome of ‘use it or lose it.’ While it would be absurd to think that weight training can allow you to be strong and muscular as you were in your twenties, preliminary research shows that those who engage in intense weight training over the course of their lifetime are able to demonstrate physical qualities and abilities on par with if not exceeding that of untrained individuals in their twenties while well into their fifth decade of life. With most of our medical anti-aging focus resting on the shoulders of pharmaceutical companies trying to find a pill form solution to the combat the effects of the march of time, comparatively little is invested in researching protocols that are far less potentially lucrative such as weight training. Nevertheless, short term studies thus far do indeed show that resistance exercises like weight training increase the ability of our muscles to synthesize proteins and thus minimizing the advent of skeletal muscle decline over the years.

Getting Older- A Detailed Look At The Physiology

As we get older, it is not only our muscles that get significantly weaker without physical activity but also our bones. Increased bone porosity and reduction in bone mass can lead to the debilitating effects of osteoporosis. Which as we know can be both reversed and prevented by the implementation of weight bearing activities such as weight training. There are some aspects however that are beyond our control, as with the advancing years comes a natural decrease in the speed of nerve conduction, reduction in peak cardiovascular ability as well as a decline in kidney and other organ function. As mentioned earlier in an explanation of the Hayflick limit, our cells have a limited number of reproductions; and as you get older the motor units (motoneurons) in your fast twitch muscles begin to die. You don’t immediately notice it, as our bodies have a remarkable system of compensating. Consider that a muscles in  your leg may have 250 motor units with each motor unit having as many as a thousand muscle fibers under its control.

This ratio of motor units to muscle fiber is known as an innervation ratio and in this case would be 1,000 muscle fibers per motoneuron.
Over the course of time, those 250 motor units in your leg muscle may drop by as much as half to 125 by the time you are 70 years old, and you would think that this would make you only half as strong, but it isn’t that straightforward. You see, we lose muscle fibers at a much slower rate than motor units so you would have only lost 10% of the muscle fiber in that leg muscle by the age of 70. However, the remaining 125 motor units sprout new branches to the muscle fibers that have lost their motor units to activate them and do more work than they did before. As a result, there is a higher innervation ratio, in this example it would be let us say 1,500 muscle fibers per motoneuron as our motor units take control of more muscle fibers as a way of helping us retain our strength as we get older.

Our nervous system also slows with the passage of time and so the mechanisms of muscle contraction slows down as well. Despite these natural declines, regular resistance type exercise and an overall active lifestyle can help minimize and offset the effect of these changes in our bodies. The more muscle mass built up over time, the more strength, coordination and motor skills you will have as you get older. A point lost sadly on the millions of women who invest most of their time pursuing aerobic type exercises and lower impact activities like yoga out of a misplaced fear of developing man-sized muscles and thus curtail their involvement in weight training- the very exercises that will help them stay looking and feeling younger as the years go by.  

Hormone Replacement Isn’t Always The Answer
Our hormones also play a role in the reduction of our muscle mass as we get older. Testosterone, growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor (IGF) help our bodies’ build and maintain muscle mass but there is a marked reduction in production as we get older. High intensity weight training has been shown to increase all three hormones naturally and within standard human parameters. It might sound like a good idea to forgo weight training and instead turn to hormone replacement therapies but research shows that this reduction in hormones may be a key mechanism that allows us to live longer. Mammalian models with reduced growth hormone (GH) and/or IGF-1 appear to live longer and while the administration of testosterone replacement therapy for men has become a lucrative and fast growing industry here in the United States, presently available data do not justify the broad use of such hormones for anti-aging purposes.

Effects Of A Lifetime Of Weight Lifting On the Aging Process

While it is established that there is a natural decline in our bodies from the age of 30 or so due to the processes mentioned above- there are also many examples of individuals who defy the narrative of decline for far longer than one would expect. In 1987, Dr. Fredrick Hatfield- (or Dr. Squat as he is affectionately known) set a world powerlifting record squatting over 1,000 lbs at the age of 45- more than any human being in history had ever successfully lifted in competition. A feat he was able to continue well into his fifties. My good friend and natural bodybuilder Kenny Hall started competing in his twenties and kept on winning titles for the next half a century. His greatest accomplishment was winning the Pro Mr. America in 1969 but he maintained a level of muscle mass and definition that allowed him to easily best other competitors decades younger than he was until he retired in his 70’s so that others would have their chance to win as well.

The science of Gerontology has only just started to pay attention to the amazing examples set by those engaged in a lifetime of weight training and drug free bodybuilding and research reveals that involvement in such activities can ‘create possibilities for people to age positively and reconstruct what aging “normally” means.” Such studies also highlight the self fulfilling prophecy that our society’s acceptance of advancing age as a time of disengagement, dysfunction and disease goes a long way in our not taking action to prevent it from being just that.  As long as we see aging as a downward trajectory of physical and mental deterioration, we are doomed to experience it as such. One of the common perspectives of men and women involved in weight training activities over the course of their lives and who exhibit remarkable physicality into the later sixth decades of life is what was termed a ‘mondadic styled’ body. In short, they focused on who they were and what they were doing as opposed to being influenced by what society expected them to be or the examples of their peers whose aging process tended to follow the narrative of decline that we are so used to hearing. Without turning to hormonal solutions that can often cause more problems than they solve, these individuals centered themselves on following a lifestyle. A lifestyle that allows them to significantly offset the impact of aging and achieve what we are all looking for- twilight years that aren’t defined by disease and disability but by engagement with life on all levels. We don’t need drugs or DeLeon’s fabled fountain of youth, we just need to make certain forms of exercise a part of our lives at all times.

Yoga in Saskatoon, Have You Tried Fitness Focus

Have you tried Yoga at Fitness Focus?  We encourage all experienced or beginners to come check out our Yoga classes.  No need to book a spot, our studio is large enouge to accommodate classes up to 25 people at a time. Check our Group Fitness Schedule for class times.
 
You know that yoga is good for you, but here are some benefits and information about Yoga you may not know! 

Physical Benefits

Flexibility: Stretching your body in new and different ways will help your joints and muscles to become more flexible, giving you better range of motion. Over time, you will gain flexibility in your legs, back, shoulders, and midsection which can all prevent injury and aid in your resistance training.

Strength: Many poses in yoga require supporting the weight of your own body in new and different ways, including balancing on one leg or supporting yourself with your arms. The slow movements through the poses also develope strength.  You can also expect to see improved muscle tone, better shape and long lean muscles.

Pain Prevention: Increasing flexibility and strength will help prevent certain types of body pain. For example, many people who suffer from back pain can usually trace it back to spending much of their time sitting or high impact activity all day. That can cause spinal compression, which you can begin to address with yoga. Yoga will also improve your alignment, both in and out of class, which helps prevent many other types of pain.

Better Breathing: Most of us breathe very shallowly into the lungs and don't give much thought to how we breathe. Yoga breathing exercises, called Pranayama, focus the attention on the breath and teach us how to better use our lungs, which benefits the entire body. Certain types of breath can also help clear the nasal passages and even calm the central nervous system, which has both physical and mental benefits.

Mental Benefits

Mental Calmness: Yoga asana practice is intensely physical. Concentrating so intently on what your body is doing has the effect of bringing a calmness to the mind. Yoga also introduces you to meditation techniques, such as watching how you breathe and disengagement from your thoughts, which help calm the mind.

 

Stress Reduction

: Physical activity is a great method for eliminating stress; this is particularly true in yoga.  Yoga provides a much-needed break from the stressors in your life, as well as helping put things into perspective.  The emphasis yoga places on being in the moment can also help relieve stress, as you learn not to dwell on past events or anticipate the future. You will leave a yoga class feeling less stressed than when you started.

 

Body Awareness: Doing yoga will give you an increased awareness of your own body. You are often called upon to make small, subtle movements to improve your alignment. Over time, this will increase your level of comfort in your own body. This can lead to improved posture and greater self-confidence.

 

Saskatoon Well Being: Our Favorite Article for September

Here is our favorite article chosen from the September 2012 issue of Saskatoon Wellbeing Magazine.  This month's article is about sleep.  Most of us take this luxury for granted; we don't realize how important a good night sleep really is to what we do the following day.  It can affect your work, relationships with people and even be the deciding factor of whether to make it to the gym or not.  This article touches base on a side of sleep deprivation we might not be acknowledging.

Sleeping Separately: Why More Couples Are Going To Sleep In Different Beds

by Sarah Stefanson

She needs complete silence to get to sleep. He likes the white noise of a fan in the background. The fan also keeps him cool, but she likes to be nice and warm. She needs darkness and he can fall asleep in a fully lit room. He tends to go to sleep early and wake up early, while she’s just the opposite. He twitches in his sleep. Oh, and he snores.

They have tried different tactics to solve their sleep differences. She sings the praises of her sleep mask. They tried having different blankets for each of them. Schedule adjustments. Earplugs. No matter what they attempted, the glaring truth was staring them in the face: they were not meant to sleep in the same room.

Many couples are experiencing similar dilemmas and most are hesitant to resort to separate bedrooms, but it is a growing trend for partners to split up at bedtime. From 2001 to 2005, the National Sleep Foundation found that the numbers of American married couples that sleep in separate beds rose from 12 per cent to 23 per cent. The Sleep Council of England reports that 1 in 4 Brits habitually spend their nights in spare rooms or on sofas. Want more proof? The National Association of Home Builders says there have been more and more requests for homes built with two master bedrooms. In fact, they estimate that by the year 2015, 60 per cent of all custom-built homes will have his and hers bedrooms.

Proponents of separate bedrooms have several good arguments to back them up and even some scientific evidence.

Sleep specialist Dr. Neil Stanley revealed at the British Science Festival in 2009 that couples that sleep in the same bed may experience 50 per cent more sleep disturbances than those who sleep separately

Beyond The Weight Room: What It Takes

The August issue of Well Being Magazine is now available at the gym and many other locations around the city.  Here, for you is our favorite article from the August issue, Beyond the Weight Room is another section from Melissa Leier.

Beyond The Weight Room: What It Takes

Curiosity

You start off by wondering if you can do it. Perfect. You’re in the right mindset. Now give it your best shot and surprise yourself at what you can achieve!

A Powerful Coach

To get to your goals, to challenge yourself and stretch beyond what you thought you were capable of, researching and finding a coach who is a good fit for you is a great way to start. Without coaching we can do well, but often can’t get pushed above and beyond what we think we can achieve. Even as a personal trainer and exercise physiologist myself, I need coaching to drive me forward.

Accountability

You must be accountable to both yourself and your coach. Make a commitment to yourself to work your hardest. By slacking off in the gym or fuelling your body with poor nutrition you’re ultimately only cheating yourself. You’ve likely invested a lot of time and money into training, so keep in mind that you want to get the most out of it. I thrive off of positive reinforcement and recognition of hard work and I never like to be in a position to disappoint. This is why having a coach works wonders for me.

Being An Early Riser

Get used to it, there will be morning cardio. No matter how tired or sore you are, you have to get yourself out of bed and go as hard as you can. I find that if I pack my meals and my workout bags and lay out all my clothes the night before it is a lot easier to just get up and go. It is surprising what just washing your face in cold water or having a quick, cool shower can do to wake you right up with some energy.

Dedication To Diet

You must make a commitment to stick to the plan regardless of what is going on in your life. This means packing your own meals along with you to social events, family get-togethers, work functions, etc. that are going to last more than three hours. You may feel like a weirdo with your container of chicken and broccoli at these things, but get used to it.

Doing Your Homework

Since the sport is judged subjectively and can change from year to year, you have to do your homework and find out what the judges are after. You are judged on the full package that you present, so make sure you cover all your bases. Your physique is just one piece of the puzzle. Everybody’s body type is unique, so you may need to find out which division is right for you. Overall presentation can also include stage presence: posing, confidence, elegance, poise. Your movements and transitions in posing need to flow. Watch videos online of the pros and then take pictures and videotape yourself often.

Internal Drive

Go beyond your comfort zone and push past the point you thought you could. Since I most often train on my own, I create my own motivation by giving myself challenges in my workouts. For example, when I’m doing cardio daily, I’ll set a goal to have covered x number of miles in a certain time. The next day I’ll have to make sure I do no less than that to keep building on the intensity each day. Another trick I use is to challenge myself to my own “wet t-shirt contest,” where I don’t let my workout end without having sweated up a storm from working hard with high intensity. If the t-shirt’s still dry at the end of the workout, I’m not done yet!

Cuts, Scrapes, Bruises & Calluses

Sure, we try to look our best on stage, but leading up to that point it’s not all pretty. Year-round I have hands that are callused from gripping barbells and dumbbells. I wear gel nails, but often I have corners chipped off after a week or two of wear and tear. I’ve had the bottom of my shins scraped off from rubbing on the leg extension padding (or lack of padding!) and usually I have big bruises on my hips or thighs from banging them on random gym machines.

Read this entire artice and many more great ones like it at http://www.saskatoonwellbeing.com/

A Perspective on Fat

Questions from around the gym about dietary fats;

Essential properties of your food, including fats, must be ingested in optimum quantities to build optimum health. Surveys show that the majority of the members of affluent populations obtain too little of many essential substances, leading to deteriorating health which in turn leads to degeneration due to malnutrition and ultimately kills two-thirds of the world's population.

More than 70% of people die from just three conditions that involve fatty degeneration: cardiovascular disease (50%), cancer (25%), and diabetes (3%).

Some fats are detrimental to our health, but the fact is that some fats are very important for health. If we eat the right kinds of fats in the right amounts and balances, they will contribute to good health; the wrong kinds of fats in the wrong amounts and balances will cause degenerative diseases.

Fatty acids are part of the basic structure of dietary fats. Almost all dietary fats contain a mixture of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. The type of fatty acid that predominates determines whether it is solid or liquid as well as its stability. They are key building blocks of all fats and oils (lipids) both in our foods and in our body. Fatty acids are also the main components in neutral fats (triglycerides) carried in our blood, and stored fat (adipose) which serves as an important source of energy.

Saturated Fats

Saturated fats are found primarily in animal products such as beef, pork, lamb, and ham as well as whole milk, cream, coconut oil, and vegetable shortening.  The body uses saturated fats to make cholesterol. A high dietary intake can raise LDL (‘bad’ cholesterol) levels in the blood, increasing your risk of heart disease.

It is recommended to limit your intake of saturated fats to lbe ess than 10% of your total daily calories.

Polyunsaturated Fats

Found mostly in corn, soybean, safflower, and sunflower oils and certain fish oils, these fats may actually lower your total blood cholesterol levels. But they may also lower your good cholesterol (HDLs) and are still high in calories. They should not exceed 10% of your total daily caloric intake.

Monounsaturated Fats

These fats are found in olive, peanut, and canola oils. It is thought that monounsaturated fats may reduce LDLs (bad) without affecting HDLs (good). It is recommended that these fats make up no more than 10-15% of your total caloric intake.

Trans-fatty acids

Trans-fatty acids occur when polyunsaturated fats are hydrogenated to make margarine and shortening. These fats are processed by injecting hydrogen into the food product.  While the jury is still out, it is thought that trans-fatty acids behave much like saturated fats, raising LDL cholesterol.

Essential Fatty acids (EFA)

Essential fatty acids are sources of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids (technically categorized as polyunsaturated fatty acids). They include linoleic and linolenic acids. The body must have these essential fatty acids, yet cannot synthesize them itself. One of the main functions of essential fatty acids is the production of prostaglandins which are hormone-like substances that regulate many body functions. They basically control every cell of the body on a second-by-second basis. They are required for energy production and increase oxidation and metabolic rate. Some of the many benefits of EFA's for the body are reducing blood pressure, preventing inflammation, stimulating immunity, reducing joint tenderness, and positively influencing HDL/LDL cholesterol levels.

Cholesterol

We are told to think of cholesterol as the enemy, our bodies do need cholesterol. In fact, much of our cholesterol is made inside our bodies, by the liver. People don't need to consume dietary cholesterol because the body can make enough cholesterol for its needs. But the typical diet contains substantial amounts of cholesterol, found in foods such as egg yolks, liver, meat, some shellfish, and whole-milk dairy products. Only foods of animal origin contain cholesterol.

Cholesterol is transported in the bloodstream in large molecules of fat and protein called lipoproteins. Cholesterol carried in low-density lipoproteins is called LDL-cholesterol; most cholesterol is of this type. Cholesterol carried in high-density lipoproteins is called HDL-cholesterol. LDL-cholesterol and HDL-cholesterol act differently in the body. A high level of LDL-cholesterol in the blood increases the risk of fatty deposits forming in the arteries, which in turn increases the risk of a heart attack. Thus, LDL-cholesterol has been dubbed "bad" cholesterol. On the other hand, an elevated level of HDL-cholesterol seems to have a protective effect against heart disease. For this reason, HDL-cholesterol is often called "good" cholesterol.

Body Fat

Body fat (fat present in the cells of adipose tissue) is probably the fat that most people are familiar with. Body fat is vital to daily body functions. It cushions the joints and protects the organs, helps regulates body temperature, stores vitamins and helps the body sustain itself when food is scarce. However, serious health risks have been associated with both too much and too little body fat.

The Fat Perspective  -  Written by Jeff Behar

Fitness Focus, Saskatoon's No Contract Gym

Here is our favorite article from the July issue of Saskatoon Well Being Magazine.

Here is our favorite article from the July issue of Saskatoon Well Being Magazine.  This month our favorite article forcuses on infant wellness.

Most experts agree that breastfeeding is the best way to go when it comes to giving your baby the nutrition she needs during those all-important formative years. Breast milk contains over 100 ingredients including antibodies that protect babies from illness and strengthen their immune systems. Plus, your breast milk is specially formulated for your baby and its composition changes as your baby grows.

Sometimes, however, breastfeeding is not an option or a mother may choose to switch from breastfeeding to bottle feeding. A study published in Pediatrics in 2008 showed that “Breast milk alone did not satisfy my baby” was the most frequently cited reason by mothers who decided to stop breastfeeding their babies. Early on, many women have problems with sore, cracked nipples or clogged ducts and infections of the breast tissue (mastitis), which can make breastfeeding an unpleasant or even painful experience. Some babies have trouble latching on in order to feed properly and this can be frustrating to the mother.

Whether it is a medical issue or a lifestyle choice that motivates the decision to bottle feed, Well Being wants you to know the basics of what you’ll need to do it correctly to make sure your baby is getting all the nutrition she requires.

INGREDIENTS

Although they cannot imitate breast milk exactly, commercially manufactured infant formulas contain many of the vitamins and nutrients a baby would get from breast milk as well as others only available in supplements. Infant formulas come in powdered, concentrated and ready-mixed versions and are either cow-milk-based, soy-based or specially formulated for specific conditions. An iron-fortified formula is recommended for babies younger than one year.

Both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Health Canada advise against attempting to make your own baby formula at home since it is difficult to make a homemade formula nutritionally complete.

HOW OFTEN AND HOW MUCH

Formula-fed babies generally have to eat less often than breast-fed babies. This is because formula is slower to digest than breast milk. (More complicated digestion is also the reason that formula-fed babies have smellier bowel movements.)

On average, your baby should consume between 150 and 200ml of formula per kilogram of body weight each day (between 2.5 and 2.5 oz per pound).

As your baby grows, feeding habits and amounts will change.

CHOOSING BOTTLES

When it comes to choosing the right bottle for your new little one, the choices can be staggering.

The first decision to make is glass or plastic. Glass is regaining popularity lately due to concerns over harmful chemicals in plastic bottles. There is a risk of breakage with glass, but they are made quite sturdy and you can purchase wraps made of silicone or foam to cushion the glass from falls. Plastic bottles are cheaper, but may not last as long as glass. Always look for BPA-free plastic bottles.

The size and shape of the bottle are the next considerations. Newborns won’t need more than four ounces, but as your baby grows, she will need up to eight or nine ounces in a sitting. You may want to buy bigger bottles from the start and just not fill them up entirely for your newborn. Bottles with air vent systems and ones with an angled shape may help prevent your baby from swallowing too much air along with her food, which can result in gas and digestion issues. If you chose a specially shaped bottle, make sure it is dishwasher safe and that it fits in your bottle warmer (if used). Drop-in plastic bottle liners are another option for reducing your baby’s air intake while feeding and they also cut down on cleaning time since the liners can be thrown away after use. Of course, liners do have a larger environmental impact.

Finally, you’ll want to decide on the type of nipple for the bottle. If your baby is exclusively formula- fed, the shape of the nipple is not as important, but if you plan to go back and forth between breast and formula feeding, it is a good idea to choose a wide-base nipple that resembles the breast so the baby won’t get confused and have latching on problems. Different nipples are designed to allow a faster or slower rate of flow and you may have to experiment with flow rate until you find one your baby likes. Slower is usually better to start out with and you can increase as the baby ages.

PREPARATION

Before using bottles and nipples for the first time, you can sterilize them in a rolling boil for two minutes. It is unnecessary to sterilize bottles before each subsequent use. Proper washing with hot water and soap is sufficient. If you do choose to sterilize, you can boil, steam, microwave or use a sterilizing solution.

Follow the instructions on the package of formula to figure out the proper amounts of powder or concentrate and tepid water you should mix together in the bottle, then screw on the nipple tightly and shake. If your tap water is considered safe for consumption, it is fine to use for formula, but you can boil your water before making formula if you have concerns. Warming is not necessary, but if your baby prefers it, warm the bottle by placing it in a container of hot (not boiling) water or by using a bottle warmer. Don’t use a microwave as it may create hot spots that can burn your baby’s mouth.

The formula is ready to eat immediately, but can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. If the bottle is left out for longer than an hour or two, throw the formula out. Discard any remaining formula when your baby is done eating.

COSTS

The costs of using formula can add up. Powdered formula is the least expensive option, followed by concentrated and ready-made formulas being most expensive. Specialty formulas will also cost more than basic ones. You can expect to pay between $1,500 and $2,000 for formula in your baby’s first year.

CONVENIENCE

You can’t beat the convenience of bottle feeding your baby. Being able to prepare bottles ahead of time means that you can enjoy some time away from your baby while your partner or other helpers assist with the feeding process. You may also be able to head back to work sooner since your baby won’t be as dependent on you.

BONDING

Some women worry about missing out on the bonding that happens during breastfeeding between mother and baby. If you spend time with your baby while you feed her, cuddling, making eye contact and placing her bare skin against yours, you should have no trouble creating a connection.

Fitness Focus is Your No Contract Gym in Saskatoon

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Fitness Focus
1250 Ontario Ave
Saskatoon, SK S7K 1S5
Ph: 306.244.6413

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