Category Archives: exercise

The Power of Music: Healing Through Sound

We all love music. It stirs our emotions and provides a doorway into a deeper mode for expression. The power of music is so strong it helps us move past obstacles and complete our goals. There are many people I know who use the power of music to help them finish a run, to get them motivated and “pumped up” so that it will help push them forward to the finish mark. There are also articles, research studies and quotations exploring the power of music and its healing capabilities for the body and mind. Music truly is an amazing language in which the entire world shares.

It should come to no surprise that music has a direct affect on depression, either alleviating it or deepening it. Music we enjoy lifts our spirits, our hopes and our outlook. It places us in a better world, one in which we feel we can better express ourselves, one in which we may better communicate and connect with others. The power of music may also work the opposite way by listening to music which aggravates our system. The music we find bane or saddening may only deepen feelings of despair and lonliness–something we always steer clear from if we are wanting to be truly healthy.

In this case, health just isn’t about the physical fitness of the individual’s body, but the fitness of the emotional body, as well. When working toward a holistic approach of health, we need to shift toward healing the whole self–body, mind and spirit. Music seems to provide this avenue for healing. Many neuroscientists are working on trying to find how music exactly helps open doorways in the brain which help rewire certain networks. Everything must start in the brain, meaning when music opens these doorways, it can rewire the health of a person to a certain point. Some people, however, believe that the power of music is limitless and that there are no boundaries.


A wonderful classical piece I just discovered. So beautiful! I must learn how to play piano.

An abstract from the International Journal of Mental Health and Nursing printed a study on the effects of music exposure and depression symptoms among older adults. The study found a significant drop in depression symptoms, along with drops in anxiety and blood pressure. Another study performed in Taiwan found that those with major depressive symptoms showed a decrease in depression as well after listening to their choice of music for 2 weeks.

Music can also boost your immune system. Listening to upbeat music with a good beat seems to do the trick in relieving harmful stress hormones which decrease the immune system’s ability to fight off infections. Researchers from the University of Sussex and the Max Planck Institute in Germany found that the power of music can have significant benefits in improving the quality of health through the long term by reducing the incidence of disease.

Image Courtesy TheLowDensityLifestyle.com

It is a well known fact that exercise improves the quality of life, and that it is a necessary nutrient. Listening to your favorite music can help motivate you and push you into finishing a workout. Usually this type of music for exercise isn’t something slow (as I couldn’t imagine working out to Enya). Workout music usually contains a good, uplifting beat to help get you in a rhythm of providing movement for your body. Some research also shows that the power of music expands to boost brain power of cognitive abilities during exercise, beyond what exercise alone accomplishes.

What music motivates, inspires or lifts your spirits? You can usually find me listening to mellow music, as I suppose that’s the kind of person I usually am. Most of the time it is Enya or classical music. I also have my deep interest in Ska (Madness!), some rock (Steadman, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, The Format, The Cranberries) and 1920’s music. It really is a bizarre mixture of genres. What about you? How do you feel after listening to your music, and what do you feel during?

Until next time, this is The Healthy Advocate.

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Healthy Bone Week, Day Two: Osteoporosis Drugs and Healthier Options

Drugs and Bone Health

Photo Courtesy ZDNet.com

If you have watched television in the last couple of years, or read a magazine or listened to the radio, you most certainly have noticed ads for osteoporosis drugs like Boniva or Fosamax. These advertisements are usually endorsed by a well known celebrity, and promise protection against fractures when diet and exercise are not enough.

However, there is a dark side to these drugs that these advertisements do not emphasize. Also, there is a wide body of research and scientists who are seriously scrutinizing the claims made by the drug companies who put out these osteoporosis pharmaceuticals. Things like rotting jaw, increased risk of bone fractures, eye problems and heart damage.

How Your Bones Work

Photo Courtesy BusinessWeek.com

This should have gone in Day 1 of “Health Bone Week”, but here it is all the same.

Your bones are dynamic structures composed of many different minerals which work together to support a strong system of your body’s structure. Your bones are constantly reconstructing themselves by removing unhealthy bone with brand new bone. Cells called osteoclasts are responsible for the breakdown of unhealthy bone, whereas the cells called osteoblasts are responsible for building new, healthy bone.

With osteoporosis drugs such as Boniva and Fosamax (which are known as bisphosphonates—chelating agents, their single phosphonate forms used also in detergents) bring the osteoclasts to kill themselves through what is known as apoptosis.

So, you have a drug which is killing cells that are naturally occurring to help break down unhealthy bone, leaving you with only the cells that are responsible for building new, denser bones. Sounds good? Well, many critics point out that just because a bone is getting denser, doesn’t necessarily mean it is stronger.

Osteoporosis Drug Side Effects

Photo Courtesy NoPrescriptionNeeded.com

The side effects of these osteoporosis drugs are just starting to show themselves after the few years they have been out on the market, in a number of ways. Because the bone isn’t being rebuilt and repaired from due to the absence of osteoclasts, there is an increased risk for fracture.

At the 2010 conference of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, health concerns of the long term use of bisphosphonate s presented a point of increased bone fractures in patients taking these osteoporosis drugs for over 4 years. The studies shown presented a link between bisphosphonate s and weaker bones. More studies are showing that the bone, which is becoming denser due to the killing of the osteoclasts cells, are becoming more brittle over time, leading to hip and femur fractures.

There are also many studies showing the link between these drugs and heart disease.

A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine has shown that taking Fosamax, a popular bisphosphonate, increases the risk for stomach ulcers (2001). When taken with an anti-inflammatory drug, this risk is even greater.

The Journal of the American Dentistry published findings showing that bisphosphonates lead to a high risk of developing a disease of the jaw called osteonecrosis. This is where the bone in your jaw starts to die, and will then slowly rot! How scary is this?

More than 20 million people in America alone are taking osteoporosis drug medications, and that number is growing, despite the high amount of calcium intake and the advice of conventional medical doctors. What can we do to stop the number of people who are suffering, or will suffer from osteoporosis, and what can we do to reverse it, without taking drugs?

The Best “Cure” for Osteoporosis

Photo Courtesy Ayushveda.com

The only “cure” we know of for osteoporosis is complete prevention. If you believe you may be at risk, then it is time to take preventative action NOW. You don’t want to be frail, in poor health and succumb to premature death due to this disease. But sadly, that is what is happening to many people. Take charge of your health and take preventative action now.

The best things you can do for your bones are things you probably are already doing. A healthy diet, like the one highlighted in Healthy Bone Week Day One, will ensure you are receiving the proper nutrients and minerals for the support of building stronger bones. Nutrition is just one of the keys to good health—not only for your bones, but for overall health (mind, body and emotionally).

Exercise is another key to good health. Again, not only will it benefit the growth of new bone due to the intense pressure you are putting on it through walking, strength training or cardio (weight helps strengthen the bone and muscle), but it can help you lose weight, increase clairty and focus and fight mild depression. Exercise and nutrition are truly great things.

With exercise, it is always best to speak to a trusted doctor so that you can find out how far you can push yourself. If you are suffering from osteoporosis and are wanting to start an exercise program, you want to make sure how much pressure you can put on yourself. Over time, you will be able to build up the amount of intensity in your exercise program when your bones become stronger.

Vitamin D, a truly remarkable vitamin, is also an absolute necessity for good bone health. It helps facilitate the absorption of calcium in your system, and also helps in blood sugar metabolism (high insulin levels, over time, has been associated with an increase risk for bone loss).

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In Day Three of Healthy Bone week, I will describe certain exercises that can be done to help build stronger bones. Before then, read my blog post about exercise. There is quite a surprise in this post that you might not see coming, but may be incredibly helpful in strengthening bones and muscles. Stay tuned.

For now, this is The Healthy Advocate.

P.S. Be sure to check out this video that I did on eggshells and how you can use them in your diet for a bioavailble source of calcium. If you don’t consume dairy products, local, free range and organic egg shells may be a good option. You can also read the blog post about eggshells I did here.

Healthy Weight Week Day Two: Your Exercise Program



Yikes! Exercise might seem scary for some–heart pounding moves that promote sweat, burning muscles and a tight bod. OK, I couldn’t think of a third promoter of exercise that sounded bad. Actually, all of those sounded quite good to me, and might to your, too, if you exercise regularly and feel the benefits of your daily movement.

Exercise not only promotes a healthier body figure and weight, but it also plays vital roles in various other physical and mental parts of your body. Daily movement and exercise influences cells in your body, preventing them from erosion and death, and also aids in proper mental agility and function. First I will go over what exercise does for your body, before I get into what exercises to do for the health of your body.

  1. Exercise promotes better sleep. If you are looking for a natural way to help you sleep at night, without the use of over the counter or prescription drugs (which can lead to dependancy), then exercise is your way to go. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day (45-60 minutes is optimal, depending) will provide an energy expenditure that will promote a tired sensation at the end of the day, thus promoting sleep. This will also last for many hours, preventing you from awakening during the middle of the night.
Besides the obvious effects exercise has on sleep, we also find it affects our circadian rhythms. Our circadian rhythms are the biological rhythms that occur throughout a 24- hour period. The circadian rhythm is mainly focused around our sleep hormone, melatonin. This hormone rises in the evening when darkness sets (making us feel tired and sleepy), and decreases during the day. This hormone is secreted much more strongly when exposed to natural sunlight, as proper sun exposure to the eyes and skin during the day help influence a stronger increase in the hormone at night.
Studies have shown that regular physical activity increases the level of melatonin that issecreted at night. A study performed at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Canada, found that exercise increased levels of melatonin secretion, especially if the exercise was performed later in the day. However, I believe that exercise in the morning to be optimal. But, if you are trying to fall asleep naturally, break up your exercise routine during the day, morning and afternoon. Exercising too close to bed time, inversely, will actually inhibit your sleep, according to this study.

2. Healthy exercise promotes a better mood, and helps fight depression.
Exercise is one of the most powerful natural “drugs” available, and it is incredibly effective in combating depression and mood disorders. When we put a healthy exertion on our bodies, as through exercise and movement, we start to release hormones in our brain, namely serotonin and endorphins–“feel good” hormones). The endorphins that are released have similar effects as morphine, but without the risk of dependancy. Neurotransmitters are also released to provide the transport of the hormones throughout your mind and body, elevating your mood. Too much exertion, however, can have an opposite effect.
The Mayo Clinic also states that exercise boosts mood by elevating body temperature (a warmer body temperature has a calming effect) and increasing the immune system, which has been linked to mood, as well. A study reported in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine used exercise as the only treatment for depression, and found that depression symptoms were cut almost in half in the subjects who participated in the 30-minute aerobic exercise sessions.
3. Fights cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Exercise lowers insulin levels and makes your bodies cells more sensitive to insulin. I believe insulin resistance to be one of the culprits behind the rise of degenerative and preventable diseases seen in America today. Lack of exercise and poor diet can lead to these complications, and exercise has been shown numerous times to prevent these illness, and even some controversial evidence suggests it can help reverse them (I am NOT condoning a treatment plan–only an alternative preventative strategy!).
4. Makes you smarter. Exercise has been shown to grow new cells in the brain, and also strengthens the inner cortex within the brain associated with cognition and attention. Using exercise as a tool for ADD or ADHD (learning disabilities that I really don’t believe exist) along with other healthy approaches (diet, sun exposure, proper sleep and hydration, etc.) can be incredibly beneficial. It always amazes me to see that moving your body every day can actually grow brand new, physical parts of your brain. This is very important as we age, and even for us college students (and all students, everywhere)!

5. Helps fight off illness. Exercising activates the immune system, helping your body fight off illness. The #1 issue people have when they get colds or the flu is that there immune system is down or not functioning properly. Exercising and eating right improves the immune system dramatically.
6. Promotes a healthy body weight and appearance. To be healthy, and to weight less (or more, depending on your needs), it is absolutely crucial that you apply exercise to you life. It is a valuable key nutrient that helps speed up your basal metabolism (how many calories you burn at rest), activates your growth hormone secretion (from the pituitary gland in the brain) and leads to greater flexibility and strength by toning the muscles and bones.
Like I said before, exercise is a powerful natural “drug” that most people have available to themselves and that can even replace dangerous, and often expensive, conventional drugs. Many stuides already show that antidepressants don’t work, so why risk the side effects and pay the price (mentally, physically AND monetary)?
Since I am talking about how to move into a healthier weight with exercise, let’s go over the types of exercise that are best. Each type of exercise won’t address weight loss, but will, overall, make you healthy. A proper balance of each type will keep your insulin and weight levels low, your energy high and your muscles and body toned and fit.
  1. Interval Training. This is a really cool type of exercise that I’m extremely fond of. Recent research has shown that interval training is the best way to burn fat. This exercise combines intense cardio bursts with periods of rest in between. In fact, the “rests” are actually smaller, less intense movements of the intense cardio movements. Let’s say you are walking. For 30 seconds you will do intense sprinting across your path. Then you will go back to walking for 60-90 seconds. Then, you will do the same sprints (bursts of cardio) for 30 seconds. Now back to the walking for 90 seoncds, and so on and so forth.
According to Darrin Steen, health and fitness expert, our bodies continue to burn more calories at rest up to 8 hours after an interval training exercise! This is amazing, seeing how after most aerobic cardio, like light jogging, your body’s metabolism slows back down again. However, your metabolism stays elevated much higher after an interval style cardio exercise. You can jump rope, do jumping jacks, or perform sprints for this exercise– anything that will be intense enough to do for 10-30 seconds. 20 minutes of this exercise is usually enough to compare to an hour’s worth of jogging (cardio bursts and rests).
Push yourself HARD during the 10-30 seconds of burst activity to start seeing results and reduction in your weight, to to see a more toned, fit body. Your body produces adequete amounts of growth hormone with this type of exercise which slow down the aging process, increases muscle mass and aids in reducing fat. Doing too much of this good thing will cause an opposite effect and make your body store more fat by producing cortisol, the stress hormone. 20-40 minutes every other day is fine. However remember–this exercise is best performed every other day, so that you can incorporate other forms of exercise into your lifestyle and to prevent injury.
2. Resistance training. This type of exercise involves using weights, or your own body weight, as resitance in sculpting your body and your muscles. Lifting weights is the common way to go, but you can also find something handy and heavy to use instead. To have a lean body, to have a muscular body, to be fit and have a sculpted look, resistance training is a must. Watch the video below to see an example of this type of exercise.

Please start off with smaller weights if you are just beginning.
Building muscle mass helps your body burn more calories at rest, helping you lose weight faster. However, like interval training, this should be done every other day. Exercising the same muscle groups day after day can result in injury. It’s always important to alternate your exercise routine for optimal health.
3. Core exercises and flexibility. These exercises (yoga, pilates, stretching techniques) focus on the core abdominal muscles, promotes balance and flexibility. It is always important to round your exercises off with stretching, and even more important to incorporate a flexibility routine, like yoga and/or pilates, into your practice. My favorite form of yoga is Vinyasa yoga, which combines cardio moves with yoga poses.
The Take Home

Like I said before in my descriptions of the exercises above, it is always important to involve every single one into your healthy lifestyle. Only doing cardio for hours on end will result in energy drainage, increased production of free radicals and cortisol (thus increasing the rate of aging, disease and fat storage), and will provide no enjoyment in the long term. Starting off with just cardio is also more likely to deter you away from exercise later on due to the energy burnout.
For optimal fat burning and muscle building (and for a healthier you), alternate interval cardio with strength and resistance training throughout the week. If you are already at a healthy weight, don’t have insulin or cholesterol problems and don’t need or want to gain/lose weight, then 3 times a week of exercise will suffice. I like to strive for physical activity every day, but only push my body to the point it feels where it needs to go. Listen to your body, and your body will thank you.
On Friday I will have Day Two posted, telling you about healthy foods that will boost calorie burning, help sculpt muscles and promote optimal nutrition. It isn’t just about reducing or adding calories–exercise is a critical nutrient that will help sculpt your body in a healthy way.
I wonder how many times I can use the word, “healthy”, in a paragraph? Count them all up in this post and win a prize! 🙂
This is The Healthy Advocate.

Can Hypnosis Help You Lose Weight? Find Out!

OK, so I just launched a product called, “Healthy Lifestyle”, and it’s already attracting a lot of attention. There are a total of nine tracks all designed to help someone love to exercise, love to eat healthy, and help them set a goal for the future bodies. There’s also a workbook that goes along with the program.

When I was recording this product, I hear my voice in my earphones, and I go into a semi-light trance (yes, I DO hypnotize myself!). After listening to my own program just once, I’m waking up EARLY in the morning, something I’ve never done before, and I’m doing Vinyasa yoga, aerobics, ab exercises, stretching, etc.! I feel energized throughout the entire day, and I feel great and awake in the morning.

TIPS FOR HEALTHY EATING:

1. When buying produce, always try and buy organic. Organic vegetables and fruits don’t contain the toxins or pesticides that other conventional crops do. Toxins interfere with your bodies natural rhythm, and it spends its time trying to rid your body of these things, when it should be doing other things.

2. Eat lean meats, raw nuts (almonds are a favorite, and so packed full of nutrition!) and seeds. This will provide you with protein, fiber, and satiety.

3. Eat slowly, because it takes your stomach 10 minutes for it to send signals to the brain that it is full.

4. Eat breakfast! I know you hear it all the time, but this is a big one. While you were sleeping, your body is in a deep, sedentary state. You metabolism slows, and in order to boost your metabolism and your energy, your body needs food.

5. Drink organic green or oolong tea. These teas have been shown to reduce appetite and also been shown to increase metabolism and facilitate fat burning.

6. Always stay hydrated by drinking cool, clean water. Your metabolism functions at its best when you are well hydrated.

7. Keep a food journal, so you know what you are actually consuming throughout the day. You don’t have to change anything about your diet the first week of keeping the journal. Just record what is going in your body, how much, and the number of calories. (A food diary is available with the “Healthy Lifestyle” hypnosis program).

8. Eat the right number of calories that best fits your body type, and that also balances with your how much exercise you are doing. You can find out the amount of calories you need daily by visiting a nutritionist or your health care provider.

9. Raw fruits are NOT nature’s candy! Fruits are good for you, and they are low on the glycemic index. They provide you with an amazing amount of nutrients, and the seep into the blood stream very slowly, giving you a longer stream of energy. Don’t eat too much fruit in one sitting, as the sugar will add up. Break up your fruit servings throughout the day.

10. Give yourself a day to relax, and to eat something that you LOVE. Enjoy the food with every bite, chew slowly, and actually let your senses expand so you can taste it and enjoy it to its fullest.

You don’t have to need to lose weight to use this program. I like it because it helps promote a better lifestyle, and a healthier way of living.

I’m also drinking organic Oolong Tea three times a day, drinking water, eating raw, nutritious vegetables at every meal. It just feels good to be healthy, and I feel like I am accomplishing something great for myself. I can’t tell you how much my self-confidence has risen since developing this new program.

I posted a video with one of the tracks from the program. This track is designed to train your body and your mind to yearn for healthy foods and to detest the junk. Try it out! You’ll be pleasantly surprised

P.S. Please let me know what YOU want me to talk about in this blog! I’m started to slowly come back to writing it, and I would LOVE to hear what you are dealing with in your life, and how I can help you!

Brandon